Frank Freeman's Barber Shop
Rev. Baynard R. Hall, D.D.
New York: Charles Scribner, 1852



  EARLY next morning Mr. Wardloe was on the shore, looking intently towards Evergreen, when, at last, the boat so anxiously watched for, was seen speeding towards the landing. In it was his niece, and among the other negroes, Frank Freeman.

  Before the lady had fairly got to shore, she exclaimed:

  "Dear uncle, what is the matter with Edward?"

  "Not much now," answered Mr. W: "still he insisted that you should be sent after last night, before his recovery."

  "Recovery! you alarm me!"

  "No, no; don't be alarmed. He is well enough now."

  "But what is it, dear uncle?—do not keep me in suspense."


  "Well, I will tell you all. I spoke maybe too warmly; and yet it could not have been that, but something connected with that infernal and accursed Tibbets' name, which agitated Edward so much that he felt sick—and had something like a—fainting—"

  "Let me go instantly to him. And, dear uncle, as a favor to Edward, let Frank remain till Edward can see him."

  "Oh! any thing for his sake: still, Edward must be cautious what steps he takes about Frank."

  "Master Wardloe," entreated the negro, in a respectful tone and manner, "I begged permission of Mistress to come here and wait on Master Leamington; pity me, Master Wardloe, and let me do something for him!"

  "Well, well, stay;" answered Mr. W., pretending to look indifferent; and then, with his niece on his arm, he proceeded towards the house, while Frank followed with some light luggage, and sat down on the piazza awaiting further directions.

  The uncle and his niece immediately entered the Parson's chamber, where, pale and with a look of indescribable and melancholy tenderness, he sat, and partly reclined in an easy chair, while a slight cough, now and then, sent a hectic flush into his cheek. He opened his arms, and his wife sank sobbing on his breast. The uncle, wiping a sudden


tear from his eyes, left the room. Soon the wife tenderly exclaimed:

  "Edward! my own Edward! what is this?"

  "Be composed. I was not sick: I am not sick now."

  "Oh! then, why did you faint!"

  "Uncle Wardloe should have concealed that, Mary."

  "But what was it?"

  "I will tell you; but can you bear it?"

  "Any thing, rather than suspense, Edward!"

  "You shall know all. But will you not love me less, Mary?"

  "That is not possible! Oh! Edward, some secret grief is corroding away your life; and you have concealed it from me!"

  "I have tried to conceal it from myself."

  The wife looked anxious; but she made no remark, and he went on.

  "If, Mary, I have concealed anything, it was for the sake of others. But, with my whole heart have I ever loved you, as man may love a second time."

  "A second time!" exclaimed the wife.

  "Yes, Mary; but even as I love my own self—yet—may I go on?"

  The wife was evidently disquieted, and yet confidingly she met her husband's eyes, while she softly said—


  "I have no fear—go on?

  "Mary, you are my second wife!"

  Spite of herself Mrs. L. breathed more easily and said rather lightly,

  "Is that all!" and, she added, very slightly moved, "That was nothing, Edward, to conceal; you were, surely, as others, free to marry again?"

  "Yes! free, indeed! I was divorced! But even then, I married not till she died!"

  For a moment the wife shuddered; and then with something like a convulsive start, she exclaimed—

  "Thank God! Edward, oh! dearest Edward! for a moment what frightful thoughts, like a blight of withering madness, were in my mind."

  "Then you do not love me less?"

  "As God is my witness—no! But may I now hear all?"

  "All, Mary; yes all. But if the narrative forces me to weep for the lost—the fallen—will you forgive it?"

  "Forgive it! I will weep with you as I do now! Edward, yours will be angel tears, such as pity may weep in heaven! Yes, weep for her, though the gushings of a first love mingle with pity's tears!"

  "Ah! had you seen her in girlhood! and then in her woman's first bloom!"

  "Was she very beautiful, Edward?"

  "Dear wife! I might with more truth say, imitat-


ing the courtier in audience with Queen Elizabeth, that she was the most beautiful among the women of the North, my own Mary among the women of the South! And she was once, perhaps, always pure-minded; but she met a devil in an angel's guise! Oh! if the violent in my nature ever wakes, it is at thoughts of that traitor! When I name him, Mary, you will see that the confiding may have been betrayed and yet not be so guilty."

  "Who can you mean, husband? interrupted Mrs. L., surprised at the tone of her usually calm husband.


  "Miscreant!" cried the wife. "As uncle believes, his hour must come. But why did not that name ever agitate you before?"

  "That is not his true name. No! no! I see it all now. That miscreant is Charles Somerville. But thank God, she is dead! Yesterday, when your uncle accidentally described his person, and manners, and eloquence; and told that he had sailed from the north with a lady, not his wife, nor yet his mistress, the truth at once broke upon me; my emotion overpowered me—I lived over the horrors of the past in a moment—my contrary efforts were useless— I fainted."

  "I wonder not at that, dear Edward," soothingly said his wife.


  "But what can that mean that Captain Wooward said—'not his wife, nor yet his mistress?' and that 'she had a separate room?'"

  "Perhaps she was alarmed and penitent in time, Edward. Perhaps, after all, she never sinned?" replied Mrs. L. kindly and proudly.

  "It must be so! No, no! She died, after all, unstained! She, the pure, the proud, never sinned! May God have granted her repentance unto life!" fervently cried the husband.

  "Amen!" responded the wife.

  After a pause Mr. L. observed—"Yes! yes! the atrocious scoundrel that would steal away the wife of one's bosom would, indeed, excite rebellion, and prompt slaves to massacre and pillage!"

  "Is not the reverse also true, Edward? Will not the wretches that excite these slaves to murder, steal your wives and violate your daughters?"

  "I fear so," replied he. "A moral sense so prevalent does in time come to regard even the marriage tie as weak. Under pretence of higher law they sometimes abrogate all law. However, we must not judge too severely."

  "True, husband; but our experience of what modern philanthropists are always doing towards us and among us, inclines the southern people to judge a little more severely than perhaps you would.


But Edward, have you spoken to uncle on this sad subject?"

  "Not a word, Mary. I would not for any consideration he knew this; and I will not even resume the conversation for fear of betraying myself, although desirous of learning what else Captain Woodward may have disclosed. And now, all else I have to disclose to you is, that immediately after hearing of her death, some two years after the legal divorce, I came South; and finding no one knew of my former marriage, and that disclosures might harm surviving friends and help no one, I have kept the whole a secret till now. And, but for this accident, I should, perhaps, have carried it to the grave."

  "You did not succeed about Frank?" asked Mrs. L. willing for her husband's sake to change the subject.

  "No; and I will not name that matter to him any more."

  "I think it useless at present, husband. Frank is here, however; for he begged so hard that I ventured to bring him, and have uncle's permission that he shall stay."

  "I am glad of that; for this is the day he was to come to me—can I see him now?"

  "Certainly, if you are well enough."

  "Oh! it will make me better."


  In a few moments after this, (Mrs. L. having left the room meanwhile,) the negro entered the room, and remained standing in that respectful attitude so characteristic of good sense in the presence of superiors. Nor did Mr. L. ask Frank to sit down; for good sense made him see it would be mischievous to master and servant, to depart from the customary modes of intercourse.

  At first, his kind feelings disposed him to dispense with the many little services offered on the part of the black servants; but this placed all in awkward and embarrassing situations: so that he soon found true benevolence, as well as prudence, counselled—in Rome act as Romans. But to the very last Leamington, (and many of the native Islanders,) would cause a little negro begging as special favor to run, by holding to the hind bar of his sulkey, and thus to be jerked along, under an impression that this was at least half-riding—such little negro, in the tad-pole state between child and boy, he would cause to mount and ride on the foot-board. Often too, when in town at night, he was sent to his boarding-house under the protection of General Leander—a negro that had seen the Revolutionary heroes of the South—when the Parson would invite the guard to walk up along side. This, of course, the General would affect to obey; but then he always uncovered his half-bald pate, and hat in hand,


kept bowing and grimacing about two feet behind his reverence. The Parson, however, would go along, nearly side-foremost, chattering away about the "old times," and ever and anon dropping in words about the other life, till the General and all the General's cronies thought "Massa Leamington as good as the folks that used to be in the ole war times!" and the General himself declared at home— "Lord bless Massa Parson, I love him 'most same as old massa himself, or ole missis too!"

  But stay, our black hero waits all this time to be spoken to: he stood, however, only a moment when Mr. L. addressed him—

  "I am glad to see you, Frank: how is your mother?"

  "Thank you many times, Master Leamington: we are happier—but my mother is feeble as usual. Dear master! you are not so sick, Mistress Leamington says, as she feared—

  "I am better—much better, Frank. Our pilgrimage is, at best, short and wearisome; yet Sarah will stay longer than some."

  "Master! God grant you may live many years. What would the poor slaves do without such as you, master! My mother will live, I know, longer if I may he with her."

  "Frank! as far as that is concerned, she shall not die: we will, if possible buy you—we—"


  Before Mr. L. could finish or prevent, the negro had stepped forward, and falling on his knees had seized his benefactor's hand! Then kissing it with fervor, and clasping it against his breast, he solemnly looked up to heaven and prayed:

  "May the Lord God bless and reward you!" He then added—"Master! I will be yours."

  "Stay! stay! Frank! No vows—we are all too weak."

  "Master! if I desert you."

  "You shall not utter a vow! I insist on this. No, no! Frank, pray—Lord! lead me not into temptation!"

  "Master! master!—may I not thank you?"

  "Yes: that is right; but remember, Peter denied his loving Redeemer; and who are we? Are we stronger than Peter? Rise up, Frank; you may sit down in that chair—I have something to say to you."

  The negro obeyed, awed by the words and manner of the Parson, who, in a few moments, went on: "Frank Freeman! you are a man, and, I hope, a Christian; but you have faults among your many good qualities. Among other things, you are impetuous and ardent; and, being very confiding, are easily betrayed into things not only wrong—but you might be into things criminal; so watch yourself. I shall, God willing, attend the sale next Thursday:


I will bid against the dealer till every dollar we both can command or raise on our little crop, or from pledging books and ornaments, is gone. That is all we can do. If that will not do, we cannot save you; but that we will do, because besides other important reasons, we know you saved many lives—never mind, Frank—do not interrupt me—yes, Frank! you saved my Mary's life."

  A dead pause ensued;—the Parson stopping to master his emotion, and the negro now bowing down his head and covering his face with his hands. At length Mr. L. continued:

  "Yes! noble fellow! and I believe you may have saved her life at peril to your own. Mr. Wardloe suspects you for a share in the plot; unjustly suspects, indeed, but beyond our power to disabuse now. But he intends to buy your mother—"

  "God bless Master Wardloe for that!" interrupted the negro, unable to remain silent.

  "He is among the best of men, Frank!"

  "Oh! Master Leamington, I cannot help speaking now. May the Lord bless him for that! Let him hurt me; and yet he would not if he knew all."

  "Nature will speak out, Frank, in all alike. You see I have a part of your secret, but it is safe. Will you now tell me all about the rebellion?"

  "I will, Master; for though I may desert you, I well know, you, Master, never can betray me."


  "God helping, we never can. Go on, Frank."

  The negro now sat up erect, and his countenance assumed, as Mr. L. thought, that lofty look the boatman had when he uttered his undying sentiment, "Liberty's Liberty!" and he thus commenced:

  "Master Leamington! this subject always affects me strangely. I cannot always speak as a slave; but I shall always speak respectfully. I feel sometimes that God and myself are the only beings in the universe, when I reflect on the past; and with that feeling comes an awe, and a thrill, and a strength into my soul, that makes me willing to die for you, master Leamington—yes, and to die for my countrymen in bondage! I am a negro, but I am a man! But when I think of the kind white folks here—some, dear master, kind as fathers and mothers—I cannot let these go after family prayer with all the dear little children and little smiling babes—go trusting to all and lie down in their beds—and I well know that when they shut their eyes, it is the death-sleep!"

  Leamington sat—his eyes fixed on the speaker! Reader! the white man had caught the influence of the grand—the lofty—the poetic—beaming from that dark but most expressive face! And in that moment the two felt they were knitting into on heart! Colors had vanished—it was now Man and Man!

  "Master Leamington!" continued the speaker, rising from his chair without thought on his part, and


unnoticed by the parson; "I could not know that Mrs. Freeman, and Mr. Wardloe, and Miss Mary, were that night to lie weltering in a bloody bed—and remain silent—and my deluded countrymen be no nearer freedom than before!"

  "Noble man!" burst from the parson.

  The negro started, but went on:—"But I am no traitor! I never joined the conspirators; nor did I know what was intended till very near the time of perpetration. Mr. Tibbets—and purposely, I think, to have me enrolled—sent me to a certain place in Moss Swamp to select, as he said, a deer station. I went an hour too soon; and there noticed what awakened my suspicions of I know not what. Ah! Master Leamington, we are not bad, but the love of Liberty makes the black man wish for Freedom, and as ready to strike as the white. I noticed what made me now suspect that Mr. Tibbets had other business here than distributing religious tracts and preaching. But I well knew it would be in vain, if the blacks should be induced to rise! I knew it would make our condition worse than ever. Before any one should come, I crept away in an opposite direction."

  "Somerville deserved death!" exclaimed the parson, much excited.

  "Master Leamington!" said the negro in wonder.

  "Why did you not seize him?"


  "Seize who, dear master?" asked the negro anxiously.

  "Tibbets, I mean—why, what did I say? Oh! never mind; go on, Frank."

  "Well, master, I crept away in an opposite direction, and by a circuitous way reached home as Mr. Tibbets was going out, who, on seeing me, said it was time for me to go to Moss Swamp. I said, boldly, 'Mr. Tibbets, go into your room instantly,' and I whispered, 'your life is in danger.' When I followed him—for he went at the word into his room—I said, 'Mr. Tibbets, ask me nothing; I know all. You told mistress this morning you wished to go to the city to-day for some books. She ordered the boat—I go with the gang—you have not a moment to lose.'"

  "Why did you not seize him?"

  "I feared for my own life. If Mr. T. could have passed a sign to certain negroes—some yet live, and near us, but most died—I should never have lived to save any. And so I determined never to leave him, or take my eye off him, till he was on board a ship; and that I saw plain enough he intended to be, if one was about to sail when we reached the city. I helped him to pack. Then I told him to go down to the landing, when I kept behind him with his luggage. When in the boat, I called a young negro, and ordered him to send me four lads


so young that I was certain Mr. Tibbets had never tampered with them. They soon came, and we were quickly rowing away, he from certain death, I possibly so."

  "What if the negroes had found you in Moss Swamp, Frank?" inquired the parson.

  "Ah! master—some secrets I cannot disclose; but this I may say, that then I would have been forced to join them and take an horrible oath, or I would never have come out of that swamp again!"

  "Oh, villain!"

  "I do not think Mr. Tibbets was the best of men, Master Leamington; but then he preached and prayed well; and he showed us our rights from the Bible; and he told some it would be right for black men to fight for freedom. Perhaps, he was politically right; and may be he thought it right to trap me on general principles."

  "Beware, Frank! But what happened?"

  "Well, master, I kept between him and the negro lads, on pretence of helping them to row; and but little was said till we approached the city, when Mr. T. said, 'Frank, my fine fellow, I received a letter from my sister yesterday.'"

  "He has no sister!" cried Mr. L.

  Frank looked inquiringly, but as Mr. L. made no further remark, he proceeded—"And then Mr. T. said, he must go North instantly. Then he also


said—'tell Mrs. Freeman good-bye for a few months,' adding, as a feeler, 'what a pity you were not free, Frank; you might take a trip with me.'"

  "Oh, miscreant!" exclaimed Mr. L.

  "Master! it was a critical time for me; for I answered with much warmth—'And leave my mistress to be—to be alone—and without saying farewell!' For fear of betraying my purpose I determined not to talk, and, therefore, I set the lads singing."

  "What if Tibbets suspecting, had betrayed you."

  "Life for life, master; I would have pitched him into the sea."

  "Right!" exclaimed the parson, a little triumphantly, peace man as he was.

  "I was not converted then, master. I gave Mr. T. a look now and then that kept him in fear. On reaching the wharf he leaped ashore; and I set his trunk out and instantly made a sign, when the boat pushed off a little, and Mr. T. hurried away to the packet, fortunately on the point of sailing, while a negro porter on the wharf followed with his trunk. Our boat rowed off very slowly, and long before we rounded Low Marsh Cape, I saw the packet under weigh."

  "On reaching home, Frank?"

  "I asked mistress to let me tell her something in a private place. She ordered me to follow her after awhile into the little parlor. I did so; and seeing


me very much alarmed, she asked with great kindness and anxiety,

  "'What is it, Frank?'

  "'Mistress,' I answered, 'you have always been more than a kind mistress to us all. You have brought me up as you would a relative; you have given me a good education And now, dear mistress, I will save your life, if it cost my own!' 'Frank! what does all this mean!' she now exclaimed. On this I narrated what I am telling you. And then she lifted up her hands and cried, 'Oh! can a minister of the gospel be so vile! (Minister of the gospel! was a sudden exclamation of the parson in parenthesis.) Frank, God is my witness! for this, you and your mother shall be free; but you must stay with me till I die, and I will so manage this that the poor deluded slaves shall never guess how the plot was discovered. I am, indeed, afraid that if any suspicion arise that you got off Tibbets, the whites may suspect you; but that suspicion will save you from the blacks. It was fortunate Tibbets said yesterday, in hearing of Pete and Charley, that he intended to go to the city that day.'"

  "How did Mrs. Freeman manage?"

  "I do not know, master! I tried to act naturally as before, and never saw mistress alone afterwards. I kept always among the blacks. This brought me into more suspicion with the whites; but that saved


me from being murdered by the blacks, and no proof could be ever brought of what had never happened—my having anything to do with the plot. Soon, however, Mr. Wardloe, and Mr. Hyndshaw, and Lawyer Jenkins, and several others, got at the whole plot, and so the lives of the whites was saved; but, master," added the speaker with great emotion, "it cost many a poor negro man his life, and many are in harder bondage in the Southwest. I am no traitor! Ah! that dreadful day! Good God! master, I saw them under the gallows—some my bosom friends! we were little boys together—we were merry together once! I saw sixty of my country-men quivering corpses!"

  The emotion of the negro now prevented his utterance, and the parson actually sobbed out. Recovering, the black went on.

  "But they died bravely—ah! like men! And when the leader, Woburn, the last that died, when he stood on the drop and cried, 'Welcome, death! I die for my countrymen!'—Master! master! for a moment I wished to utter the same triumphant cry, and die with him."

  "Somerville, there is a God in heaven!" exclaimed Mr. L., "But vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord!"

  The negro wondered at the name. He had his own


thoughts; but he made no remark. The parson turning to Frank now said:

  "Frank! I will redeem you, if all I have can do it. And it will cost all; the dealer shall not get you without a struggle!"

  "Master! I will work like a thousand men to repay you! I will never"—

  "I will not hear a vow! Pray, but do not vow! The heart, Frank, is deceitful above all things, and