網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

a

[ocr errors]

as

penalty for their epicurean penchant of eating de trop, were sacrificed two days before the appointed time for their exit from a world which runs after folly as quickly as the poultry after their unwonted supply of seed.

“Gar a mighty ! you will kill de creatures,” cried Peggy, kicking away a waddling goose.

“Not at all,” said Rosa,“ dat goose assart him inpendance ; see if I don't give it more—and more den dat, modder, when de fuss of August comes, when my new frock ready; fuss of August come soon.”

“ Time enough for dat, time enough,” replied the granddame ; "go in, larn your cat-kism."

“I know my cat-kism,” said the child; “ parson say I know him berry well.”

“Well, den, take your dancing lesson, show me how you do him steps on de fuss of August.”

[graphic]

“Berry well ;” and the child forthwith began sundry side steps, and kicked the seed about ; in fact, though not known by the name of polka, if ever that elegant affair were danced instinctively, it was then by black Rosa.

“Berry well, berry well, indeed," shouted the old dame ; "nebber seed de like afore nebber, nebber ; try him again, Rosa.”

And the old lady herself, touched with a sudden fantasia for trying her skill at the “ light fantastic toe,” began such a series of strange steps, holding her elbows akimbo the while, that poor Rosa was perfectly electrified; she herself stood quite still, and regarded her grandmother with most unfeigned astonishment.

“ Well I nebber!” cried Rosa.
“ I dessay not,” replied Peggy.
“ Well I nebber!" repeated the child.
"Nebber s'pose you did,” cried Peggy.

“I nebber! nebber! nebber!" continued poor Rosa.

“Nor I—I nebber!” said Peggy, panting and sighing, and resuming at length her wonted equilibrium. “ What on arth's de matter wid him," said she, at length, surveying Rosa, who looked as if a Gorgon glance had transformed her to stone ; recovering at length, she said,

“Me s’pose, moder, if fuss of Augus' make you dance wid joy, we be like de English free people den.”

“Saxtly so,” said Peggy, “only fifty times betterer ; our country beautiful place.”

“ I heard Tom Wilby tell England lubly

place.

“ Him tell lies,” said Peggy.

Oh, moder, I tink not; and dere lib a good king dere, King William ; him berry good, so Tom Wilby say.”

“ Dessay him berry good,” said Peggy; “it Wilberforce dat make us free ; him talk long afore de king.”

[graphic]

“ Oh, de king good man, good man,” persisted the loyal Rosa.“ Hurra! hurra! for fuss of Augus' and King William de Fourth! Long lib de king !”

“ Hush ! hush !” said Peggy, “you wake de Lady di Lucia.”

But the good woman was obliged to push Rosa in the farmhouse before she could stop her vehement gratitude.

Poor Rosa, she did not know what the meaning of freedom meant; and as to liberty the Lady Anna was the kindest mistress imaginable, and Rosa's original strange manner had rendered her an especial favorite.

What cared Rosa for the first of August ? Nothing at all; but she was to have a new frock, and she heard there would be much rejoicing ; besides, she had seen older, and probably wiser persons than herself shout as she had done, and she sympathetically joined in the noise, as naturally as one sweep dances by the side of another on the first of May, as naturally as one boy walks by another on the fifth of November.

Anxiously the Negroes had, for some time before the first of August, thronged to the har when the Emancipation Bill was discussed in the House of Assembly; and when the bill, ratified by the English government, signed by king, lords, and commons, was handed to the clerk of the council, anxious hearts throbbed, eyes glistened, pulses beat quick. Women were there, with babes in their arms, nervously directing their dark, rolling eyes to the scene before them. Wellattired ladies thronged the gallery, the Countess of Mulgrave foremost in the graceful ranks. The governor himself, his royal Hanoverian star glistening on him, supported

[graphic]
« 上一頁繼續 »