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lhanged, and assumed an air of obsequious civility. The poor woman retired to the further corner of the cottage, and continued to weep. Caesar never moved. "Nothing is the matter, Sir," said Durant, "but that Caesar is going to be sold. That is what the woman is crying for. They were to be married; but we'll find Clara another husband, I tell her; and she'll get the better of her grief, you know, Sir, as I tell her, in time." "Never! never !"said Clara. "To whom is Caesar going to be sold; and for what sum?" "For what can be got for him," replied Durant, laughing -, "and to whoever will buy him. The sheriff's officer is here, who has seized him for debt, and must make the most of him at market.'' "Poor fellow!" said Mr Edwards; "and must he leave this cottage which he has built, and these bananas which he has planted?'' Casar now, for the first time, looked up, and fixing his eyes upon Mr Edwards for a moment, advanced with an intrepid, rather than an imploring countenance, and said, " Will you be my master? Will you be her maser? Buy both of us. You shall not repent of it. Caesar will serve you faithfully." On hearing these words, Clara sprang forwards; and, clasping her hands together, repeated, "Caesar will serve you faithfully."
Mr Edwards was moved by their entreaties, but he left them without declaring his intentions. He went immediately to Mr Jefferies, whom he found stretched on a sofa, drinking coffee. As soon as Mr Edwards mentioned the occasion of his visit, and expressed his sorrow for Caesar, Jefferies exclaimed, " Yes, poor devil! I pity him, from the bottom of my soul. But what can I do? I leave all those things to Durant. He says the sheriff's officer has seized him; and there's an end of the matter. You know money must be had. Besides, Caesar is not worse off than any other slave sold fo) debt. What signifies talking about the matter, asif itwere something that never happened before! Is not it a case that occurs every day in Jamaica?" "So much the worse," replied Mr Edwards. "The worse for them, to be sure," said Jefferies. "But, after all, they are slaves, and used to be treated as such; and they tell me the negroes are a thousand times happier here, with us, than they ever were in their own country." "Did the negroes tell you so themselves?" "No; but people better informed than negroes have told me so; and, after all, slaves there must be; for indigo, and rum, and sugar we must have." "Granting it to be physically impossible that the world should exist, without rum, sugar, and indigo, why could they not be produced by freemen, as well as by slaves? If we hire negroes for labourers, instead of purchasing them for slaves, do you think they would not work as well as they do now? Does any negro, under the fear of the overseer, work harder than a Birmingham journeyman, or a Newcastle collier; who toil for themselves and
their families?" "Of that I don't pretend to judge. All I know is, that the West India planters would be ruined, if they had no slaves, and I am a West India planter." "So am I: yet I do not think they are the only people whose interest ought to be Considered, in this business." "Their interests, luckily, are protected by the laws of the land; and, though they are rich men, and white men, and freemen, they have as good a claim to their rights, as the poorest black slave on any of our plantations." "The law, in our case, seems to make the right; and the very reverse ought to be done: the right should make the law.'' "Fortunately, for us planters, we need not enter into such nice distinctions. You could not, if you would, abolish the trade. Slaves would be smuggled into the islands." "What, if nobody would buy them! You'know that you cannot smuggle slaves into England. The instant a slave touches English ground, he becomes free. Glorious privilege! Why should it not be extended to all her dominions? If the future importation or slaves into these islands were forbidden by law, the trade must cease. No man can either sell or possess slaves, without its being known; they cannot be smuggled like lace, or brandy." "Well, well!" retorted Jefferies, a little impatiently, "as yet, the law is on our side. I can do nothing in this business, nor you neither." "Yes, we can do something; we can endeavour to make our negroes as happy as possible." "I leave the management of these people to Durant." "That is the very thing of which they complain; forgive me for speaking to you with the frankness of an old acquaintance." "Oh, you can't oblige me more I I love frankness of all things! To tell you the truth, I have heard complaints of Durant's severity; but I make it a principle to turn a deaf ear to them, for I know nothing can be done with these fellows without it. You are partial to negroes; but even you must allow they are a race of beings naturally inferior to us. You may in vain think of managing a black as you would a white. Do what you please for a negro, he will cheat you the first opportunity he finds. You know what their maxim is: "God gives black men what white men forget."
To these common-place desultory observations, Mr Edwards made no reply; but recurred to poor Czesar, and offered to purchase both him and Clara, at the highest price the sheriff's officer could obtain for them at market. Mr Jefferies, with the utmost politeness to his neighbour, but with the most perfect indifference to the happiness of those whom he considered of a different species from himself, acceded to this proposal. "Nothing could be more reasonable," he said, "and he was happy to have it in his power to oblige a gentleman, for whom he had such a high esteem."
The bargain was quickly concluded with the sheriff's officer; for Mr Edwards willingly paid several dollars more than the market ra T
price for the two slaves. When Caesar and Clara heard that they were not to be separated, their joy and gratitude were expressed with all the ardour and tenderness peculiar to their different characters. Clara was an Eboe, Caesar a Koromantyn negro. The Eboes are soft, languishing, and timid. The Koromantyns are frank, fearless, martial, and heroic.
Mr Edwards carried his new slaves home with him, desired Bayley, his overseer, to mark out a provision-ground for Caesar, and to give him a cottage, which happened at this time to be vacant.
"Now, my good friend," said he to Caesar, "you may work for yourself, without fear that what you earn may be taken from you; or that you should ever be sold, to pay your master's debts. If he does not understand what I am saying," continued Mr Edwards, turning to his overseer, " you will explain it to him."
Caesar perfectly understood all that Mr Edwards said; but his feelings were at this instant so strong that he could not find expression for his gratitude: he stood like one stupified! Kindness was new to him! it overpowered his manly heart; and, at hearing the words "my good friend," the tears gushed from his eyes. Tears which no torture could have extorted! Gratitude swelled in his bosom; and he longed to be alone, that he might freely yield to his emotions.
He was glad when the conch-shell sounded, to call the negroes to their daily labour, that he might relieve the sensations of his soul by bodily exertion. He performed his task in silence; and an inattentive observer might have thought him sullen. In fact, he was impatient for the day to be over, that he might get rid of a heavy- load which weighed upon his mind.
The cruelties practised by Durant, the overseer of Jefferies' plantation, had exasperated the slaves under his dominion. They were all leagued together in a conspiracy, which was kept profoundly secret. Their object was to extirpate every white man, woman, and riii 1.1, in the island. Their plans were laid with consummate art; and the negroes were urged to execute them by all the courage of despair. The confederacy extended to all the negroes in the island »f Jamaica, excepting those on the plantation of Mr Edwards. To them no hint of the dreadful secret had yet been given; their jountrymen, knowing the attachment they felt to their master, dared not trust them with these projects of vengeance. Hector, the negro who was at the head of the conspirators, was the particular friend of Caesar, and had imparted to him all his designs. These friends were bound to each other by the strongest ties. Their slavery and sufferings began in the same hour: they were both brought from their own country in the same sliip. T'-.iscircumstancealone, forms, amongst the negroes, a bond of connection not easily to be dissolved. But the friendship of Cssar and Hector commenced even before they were united by the sympathy of misfortune; they were both of the same nation, both Koromantyns. In Africa, they had both been accustomed to command; for they had signalized themselves by superior fortitude and courage. They rtsjSected each other for excelling in all which they had been taught to consider as virtuous; and with them revenge was a virtue!
Revenge was the ruling passion of Hector: in Ciesar's mind it was rather a principle, instilled by education. The one considered it as a duty, the other felt it as a pleasure. Hector's sense of injury was acute in the extreme; he knew not how to forgive. Casar's sensibility was yet more alive to kindness than to insult. Hector would sacrifice his life, to extirpate an tmmy. Casar would devote himself, for the defence of a friend; and Caesar now considered a white man as his friend. He was now placed in a painful situation. All his former friendships, all the solemn promises, by which he was bound to his companions in misfortune, forbade him to indulge that delightful feeling of gratitude and aflection, which, for the first time, he experienced for one of that race of beings whom he had hitherto considered as detestable tyrants! objects of implacable and just revenge!
Cresar was most impatient to have an interview with Hector, that he might communicate his new sentiments, and dissuade him from those schemes of destruction which he meditated. At midnight, when all the slaves except himself were asleep, he left his cottage, and went to Jefliries' plantation, to the hut in which Hector slept. Even in his dreams, Hector breathed vengeance. "Spare none' Sons of Africa, spare none!" were the words he uttered in his sleep, as Cresar approached the mat on which he lay. The moon shone full upon him. Casar contemplated the countenance of his friend, fierce even in sleep. "Spare none? Oh, yes! There is one that must be spared. There is one for whose sake all must be spared!" He wakened Hector, by this exclamation: "Of what were you dreaming?" said Casar, "Of that which, sleeping or waking, fills my soul! Revenge 1 Why did you waken me from my dream . It was delightful! The whites were weltering in their blood! But, silence! We may be overheard!'' "No; every one sleeps, but our selves,'' replied Caesar. "I could not sleep—without speaking to you on a subject that weighs upon my mind. You have seen Mr Edwards?" "Yes. He that is now your master.'' "He thatis now my benefactor! My friend!" "Friend! Can you call a white mau friend?" cried Hector, start ing with a look of astonishment and indignation! "Yes;" replied Cosar, with firmness. "And yor would speak, ay and would feel, as I do, Hector, if you knew this white man' Oh, how unlike he is to all of his race, that we have vcr seen! Do not turn from me with so much disdain! Hear me with patience, my friend!" "I cannot," replied Hector, "listen with patience to one who, between the rising and the setting sun, can forget all his resolutions, all his promises'. Who, by a few soft words, can be so wrought upon as to forget all the insults, all the injuries, he has received from that accursed race; and can even call a white man friend!"
Casar, unmoved by Hector's anger, continued to speak of Mr Edwards with the warmest expressions of gratitude; and finished by declaring he would sooner forfeit his life than rebel against such a master. He conjured Hector to desist from executing his designs; but all was in vain. Hector sat with his elbows fixed upon his knees, leaning his head upon his hands, in gloomy silence. Caesar's mind was divided, between love for his friend, and gratitude to his master: the conflict was violent, and painful. Gratitude at last prevailed: he repeated his declaration, that he would rather die than continue in a conspiracy against his benefactor.
Hector refused to except him from the general doom. "Betray us if you will 1" cried he. "Betray our secrets, to him whom you call your benefactor: to him whom a few hours has made your friend! To him sacrifice the friend of your youth, the companion of your better days, of your better self! Yes, Caesar, deliver me over to the tormentors: I can endure more than they can inflict . I shall expire without a sigh, without a groan. Why do you linger here, Caesar? Why do you hesitate? Hasten this moment to your master; claim your reward, for delivering into his power hundreds of your countrymen! Why do you hesitate? Away! The coward's friendship can be of use to none. Who can value his gratitude? Who can fear his revenge?" Hector raised his voice so high, as he pronounced these words, that he wakened Durant, the overseer, who slept in the next house. They heard him call out suddenly, to inquire who was there; and Caesar had but just time to make his escape, before Durant appeared. He searched Hector's cottage; but, finding no one, again retired to rest. This man's tyranny made him constantly suspicious: he dreaded that the slaves should combine against him; and he endeavoured to prevent them, by every threat and every stratagem he could devise, from conversing with each other. They had, however, taken their measures, hitherto, so secretly, that he had not the slightest idea of the conspiracy which was forming in the island. Their schemes were not yet ripe for execution; but the appointed time approached. Hector, when he coolly reflected on what had passed between him and Caesar, could not help admiring