WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA
A Story Of The American Civil War.
by G.A. Henty
Chapter 1. A Virginian
"I won't have it, Pearson;
so it's no use your talking. If I had my way you shouldn't touch
any of the field hands. And when I get my way--that won't be
so very long--I will take good care you sha'n't. But you sha'n't
"He is not one of the regular
house hands," was the reply; "and I shall appeal to Mrs. Wingfield
as to whether I am to be interfered with in the discharge of
"You may appeal to my mother
if you like, but I don't think that you will get much by it.
I tell you you are a deal too fond of that whip, Pearson. It
never was heard of on the estate during my father's time, and
it sha'n't be again when it comes to be mine, I can tell you.
Come along, Dan; I want you at the stables."
So saying, Vincent Wingfield
turned on his heel, and followed by Dan, a negro lad of some
eighteen years old, he walked off toward the house, leaving
Jonas Pearson, the overseer of the Orangery estate, looking
after him with an evil expression of face.
Vincent Wingfield was the
son of an English officer, who, making a tour in the States,
had fallen in love with and won the hand of Winifred Cornish,
a rich Virginian heiress, and one of the
southern belles of
Richmond. After the marriage he had taken her home to visit
his family in England; but she had not been there many weeks
before the news arrived of the sudden death of her father. A
month later she and her husband returned to Virginia, as her
presence was required there in reference to business matters
connected with the estate, of which she was now the mistress.
The Orangery, so called
from a large conservatory built by Mrs. Wingfield's grandfather,
was the family seat, and the broad lands around it were tilled
by upward of two hundred slaves. There were in addition three
other properties lying in different parts of the State. Here
Vincent, with two sisters, one older and one younger than himself,
had been born. When he was eight years old Major and Mrs. Wingfield
had gone over with their children to England, and had left Vincent
there for four years at school, his holidays being spent at
the house of his father's brother, a country gentleman in Sussex.
Then he had been sent for unexpectedly; his father saying that
his health was not good, and that he should like his son to
be with him. A year later his father died.
Vincent was now nearly
sixteen years old, and would upon coming of age assume the reins
of power at the Orangery, of which his mother, however, would
be the actual mistress as long as she lived. The four years
Vincent had passed in the English school had done much to render
of slavery repugnant to him, and his father had had many
serious talks with him during the last year of his life, and
had shown him that there was a good deal to be said upon both
sides of the subject.
"There are good plantations
and bad plantations, Vincent; and there are many more good ones
than bad ones. There are brutes to be found everywhere. There
are bad masters in the Southern States just as there are had
landlords in every European country. But even from self-interest
alone, a planter has greater reason for caring for the health
and comfort of his slaves than an English farmer has in caring
for the comfort of his laborers. Slaves are valuable property,
and if they are overworked or badly cared for they decrease
in value. Whereas if the laborer falls sick or is unable to
do his work the farmer has simply to hire another hand. It is
as much the interest of a planter to keep his slaves in good
health and spirits as it is for a farmer to feed and attend
to his horses properly.
"Of the two, I consider
that the slave with a fairly kind master is to the full as happy
as the ordinary English laborer. He certainly does not work
so hard, if he is ill he is carefully attended to, he is well
fed, he has no cares or anxieties whatever, and when old and
past work he has no fear of the workhouse staring him in the
face. At the same time I am quite ready to grant that there
are horrible abuses possible under the laws connected with slavery.
"The selling of slaves,
that is to say, the breaking up of families and selling them
separately, is horrible and abominable. If an estate were sold
together with all the slaves upon it, there would be no more
hardship in the matter than there is when an estate changes
hands in England, and the laborers upon it work for the new
master instead of the old. Were I to liberate all the slaves
on this estate to-morrow and to send them North, I do not think
that they would be in any way benefited by the change. They
would still have to work for their living as they do now, and
being naturally indolent and shiftless would probably fare much
worse. But against the selling of families separately and the
use of the lash I set my face strongly.
"At the same time, my boy,
whatever your sentiments may be on this subject, you must keep
your mouth closed as to them. Owing to the attempts of Northern
Abolitionists, who have come down here stirring up the slaves
to discontent, it is not advisable, indeed it is absolutely
dangerous, to speak against slavery in the Southern States.
The institution is here, and we must make the best we can of
it. People here are very sore at the foul slanders that have
been published by Northern writers. There have been many atrocities
perpetrated undoubtedly, by brutes who would have been brutes
whenever they had been born; but to collect a series of such
atrocities, to string them together into a story, and to hold
them up, as Mrs. Beecher Stowe has, as a picture of slave-life
in the Southern States, is as gross a libel as if any one were
to make a collection of all the wife-beatings and assaults of
drunken English ruffians, and to publish them as a picture of
the average life of English people.
"Such libels as these have
done more to embitter the two sections of America against each
other than anything else. Therefore, Vincent, my advice to you
is, be always kind to your slaves--not over-indulgent, because
they are very like children and indulgence spoils them--but
be at the same time firm and kind to them, and with other people
avoid entering into any discussions or expressing any opinion
with regard to slavery. You can do no good and you can do much
harm. Take things as you find them and make the best of them.
I trust that the time may come when slavery will be abolished;
but I hope, for the sake of the slaves themselves, that when
this is done it will be done gradually and thoughtfully, for
otherwise it would inflict terrible hardship and suffering upon
them as well as upon their masters."
There were many such conversations
between father and son, for feeling on the subject ran very
high in the Southern States, and the former felt that it was
of the utmost importance to his son that he should avoid taking
any strong line in the matter. Among the old families of Virginia
there was indeed far less feeling on this subject than in some
of the other States. Knowing the good feeling that almost universally
existed between themselves aid their slaves, the gentry of Virginia
regarded with contempt the calumnies of which they were the
subject. Secure in the affection of their slaves, an affection
which was afterward abundantly proved during the course of the
war, they scarcely saw the ugly side of the question. The worst
masters were the smallest ones; the man who owned six slaves
was far more apt to extort the utmost possible work from them
than the planter who owned three or four hundred. And the worst
masters of all were those who, having made a little money in
trade or speculation in the towns, purchased a dozen slaves,
a small piece of land, and tried to set up as gentry.
In Virginia the life of
the large planters was almost a patriarchal one; the indoor
slaves were treated with extreme indulgence, and were permitted
a far higher degree of freedom of remark and familiarity than
is the case with servants in an English household. They had
been the nurses or companions of the owners when children, had
grown up with them, and regarded themselves, and were regarded
by them, as almost part of the family. There was, of course,
less connection between the planters and their field hands;
but these also had for the most part been born on the estate,
had as children been taught to look up to their white masters
and mistresses, and to receive many little kindnesses at their
They had been cared for
in sickness, and knew that they would be provided for in old
age. Each had his little allotment, and could raise fruit, vegetables,
and fowls for his own use or for sale in his leisure time. The
fear of loss of employment or the pressure of want, ever present
to English laborers, had never fallen upon them. The climate
was a lovely one, and their work far less severe than that of
men forced to toil in cold and wet, winter and summer. The institution
of slavery assuredly was capable of terrible abuses, and was
marked in many instances by abominable cruelty and oppression;
but taken all in all, the negroes on a well-ordered estate,
under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people
than the laborers upon any estate in Europe.
Jonas Pearson had been
overseer in the time of Major Wingfield, but his authority had
at that time been comparatively small, for the major himself
personally supervised the whole working of the estate, and was
greatly liked by the slaves, whose chief affections were, however,
naturally bestowed upon their mistress, who had from childhood
been brought up in their midst. Major Wingfield had not liked
his overseer, but he had never had any ground to justify him
making a change. Jonas, who was a Northern man, was always active
and energetic; all Major Wingfield's orders were strictly and
punctually carried out, and although he disliked the man, his
employer acknowledged him to be an excellent servant.
After the major's death,
Jonas Pearson had naturally obtained greatly increased power
and authority. Mrs. Wingfield had great confidence in him, his
accounts were always clear and precise, and although the profits
of the estate were not quite so large as they had been in her
husband's lifetime, this was always satisfactorily explained
by a fall in prices, or by a part of the crops being affected
by the weather. She flattered herself that she herself managed
the estate, and at times rode over it, made suggestions, and
issued orders, but this was only in fits and starts; and although
Jonas came up two or three times a week to the house nominally
to receive her orders, he managed her so adroitly that while
she believed that everything was done by her directions, she
in reality only followed out the suggestions which, in the first
place, came from him.
She was aware, however,
that there was less content and happiness on the estate than
there had been in the old times. Complaints had reached her
from time to time of overwork and harsh treatment. But upon
inquiring into these matters, Jonas had always such plausible
reasons to give that she was convinced he was in the right,
and that the fault was among the slaves themselves, who tried
to take advantage of the fact that they had no longer a master's
eye upon them, and accordingly tried to shirk work, and to throw
discredit upon the man who looked after the interests of their
mistress; and so gradually Mrs. Wingfield left the management
of affairs more and more in the hands of Jonas, and relied more
implicitly upon him.
The overseer spared no
pains to gain the good-will of Vincent. When the latter declared
that the horse he rode had not sufficient life and spirit for
him, Jonas had set inquiries on foot, and had selected for him
a horse which, for speed and bottom, had no superior in the
State. One of Mrs. Wingfield's acquaintances, however, upon
hearing that she had purchased the animal, told her that it
was notorious for its vicious temper, and she spoke angrily
to Jonas on the subject in the presence of Vincent. The overseer
excused himself by saying that he had certainly heard that the
horse was high spirited and needed a good rider, and that he
should not have thought of selecting it had he not known that
Mr. Vincent was a first-class rider, and would not care to have
a horse that any child could manage.
The praise was not undeserved.
The gentlemen of Virginia were celebrated as good riders; and
Major Wingfield, himself a cavalry man, had been anxious that
Vincent should maintain the credit of his English blood, and
had placed him on a pony as soon as he was able to sit on one.
A pony had been kept for his use during his holidays at his
uncle's in England, and upon his return Vincent had, except
during the hours he spent with his father, almost lived on horseback,
either riding about the estate, or paying visits to the houses
of other planters.
For an hour or more every
day he exercised his father's horses in a paddock near the house,
the major being wheeled down in an easy-chair and superintending
his riding. As these horses had little to do and were full of
spirit, Vincent's powers were often taxed to the utmost, and
he had many falls; but the soil was light, and he had learned
the knack of falling easily, and from constant practice was
able at the age of fourteen to stick on firmly even without
a saddle, and was absolutely fearless as to any animal he mounted.
In the two years which
had followed he had kept up his riding. Every morning after
breakfast he rode to Richmond, six miles distant, put up his
horse at some stable there, and spent three hours at school;
the rest of the day was his own, and he would often ride off
with some of his schoolfellows who had also come in from a distance,
and not return home till late in the evening. Vincent took after
his English father rather than his Virginian mother both in
appearance and character, and was likely to become as tall and
brawny a man as the former had been when he first won the love
of the rich Virginian heiress.
He was full of life and
energy, and in this respect offered a strong contrast to most
of his schoolfellows of the same age. For although splendid
riders and keen sportsmen, the planters of Virginia were in
other respects inclined to indolence; the result partly of the
climate, partly of their being waited upon from childhood by
attendants ready to carry out every wish. He had his father's
cheerful disposition and good temper, together with the decisive
manner so frequently acquired by a service in the army, and
at the same time he had something of the warmth and enthusiasm
of the Virginian character.
Good rider as he was he
was somewhat surprised at the horse the overseer had selected
for him. It was certainly a splendid animal, with great bone
and power; but there was no mistaking the expression of its
turned-back eye, and the ears that lay almost flat on the head
when any one approached him.
"It is a splendid animal,
no doubt, Jonas," he said the first time he inspected it; "but
he certainly looks as if he had a beast of a temper. I fear
what was told my mother about him is no exaggeration; for Mr.
Markham told me to-day, when I rode down there with his son,
and said that we had bought Wildfire, that a friend of his had
had him once, and only kept him for a week, for he was the most
vicious brute he ever saw."
"I am sorry I have bought
him now, sir," Jonas said. "Of course I should not have done
so if I had heard these things before; but I was told he was
one of the finest horses in the country, only a little tricky,
and as his price was so reasonable I thought it a great bargain.
But I see now I was wrong, and that it wouldn't be right for
you to mount him; so I think we had best send him in on Saturday
to the market and let it go for what it will fetch. You see,
sir, if you had been three or four years older it would have
been different; but naturally at your age you don't like to
ride such a horse as that."
"I sha'n't give it up without
a trial," Vincent said shortly. "It is about the finest horse
I ever saw; and if it hadn't been for its temper, it would be
cheap at five times the sum you gave for it. I have ridden a
good many bad-tempered horses for my friends during the last
year, and the worst of them couldn't get me off."
"Well, sir, of course you
will do as you please," Jonas said; "but please to remember
if any harm comes of it that I strongly advised you not to have
anything to do with it, and I did my best to dissuade you from
Vincent nodded carelessly,
and then turned to the black groom.
"Jake, get out that cavalry
saddle of my father's, with the high cantle and pommel, and
the rolls for the knees. It's like an armchair, and if one can't
stick on on that, one deserves to be thrown."
While the groom was putting
on the saddle, Vincent stood patting the horse's head and talking
to it, and then taking its rein led it down into the inclosure.
"No, I don't want the whip,"
he said, as Jake offered him one. "I have got the spurs, and
likely enough the horse's temper may have been spoiled by knocking
it about with a whip; but we will try what kindness will do
with it first."
"Me no like his look, Massa
Vincent; he debbil ob a hoss dat."
"I don't think he has a
nice temper, Jake; but people learn to control their temper,
and I don't see why horses shouldn't. At any rate we will have
a try at it. He looks as if he appreciates being patted and
spoken to already. Of course if you treat a horse like a savage
he will become savage. Now, stand out of the way."
Gathering the reins together,
and placing one hand upon the pommel, Vincent sprang into the
saddle without touching the stirrups; then he sat for a minute
or two patting the horse's neck. Wildfire, apparently disgusted
at having allowed himself to be mounted so suddenly, lashed
out viciously two or three times, and then refused to move.
For half an hour Vincent tried the effect of patient coaxing,
but in vain.
"Well, if you won't do
it by fair means you must by foul," Vincent said at last, and
sharply pricked him with his spurs.
Wildfire sprang into the
air, and then began a desperate series of efforts to rid himself
of his rider, rearing and kicking in such quick succession that
he seemed half the time in the air. Finding after awhile that
his efforts were unavailing, he subsided at last into sulky
immovability. Again Vincent tried coaxing and patting, but as
no success attended these efforts, he again applied the spur
sharply. This time the horse responded by springing forward
like an arrow from a bow, dashed at the top of his speed across
the inclosure, cleared the high fence without an effort, and
then set off across the country.
He had attempted to take
the bit in his teeth, but with a sharp jerk as he drove the
spurs in, Vincent had defeated his intention. He now did not
attempt to check or guide him, but keeping a light hand on the
reins let him go his own course. Vincent knew that so long as
the horse was going full speed it could attempt no trick to
unseat him, and he therefore sat easily in his saddle.
For six miles Wildfire
continued his course, clearing every obstacle without abatement
to his speed, and delighting his rider with his power and jumping
qualities. Occasionally, only when the course he was taking
would have led him to obstacles impossible for the best jumper
to surmount, Vincent attempted to put the slightest pressure
upon one rein or the other, so as to direct it to an easier
At the end of six miles
the horse's speed began slightly to abate, and Vincent, abstaining
from the use of his spurs, pressed it with his knees and spoke
to it cheerfully urging it forward. He now from time to time
bent forward and patted it, and for another six miles kept it
going at a speed almost as great as that at which it had started
Then he allowed it gradually to slacken its pace, until at last
first the gallop and then the trot ceased, and it broke into
"You have had a fine gallop,
old fellow," Vincent said, patting it; "and so have I. There's
been nothing for you to lose your temper about, and the next
road we come upon we will turn our face homeward. Half a dozen
lessons like this, and then no doubt we shall be good friends."
The journey home was performed
at a walk, Vincent talking the greater part of the time to the
horse. It took a good deal more than six lessons before Wildfire
would start without a preliminary struggle with his master,
but in the end kindness and patience conquered. Vincent often
visited the horse in the stables, and, taking with him an apple
or some pieces of sugar, spent some time there talking to and
petting it. He never carried a whip, and never used the spurs
except in forcing it to make its first start.
Had the horse been naturally
ill-tempered Vincent would probably have failed, but, as he
happened afterward to learn, its first owner had been a hot-tempered
and passionate young planter, who, instead of being patient
with it, had beat it about the head, and so rendered it restive
and bad-tempered. Had Vincent not laid aside his whip before
mounting it for the first time, he probably would never have
effected a cure. It was the fact that the animal had no longer
a fear of his old enemy the whip as much as the general course
of kindness and good treatment that had effected the change
in his behavior.
It was just when Vincent
had established a good under standing between himself and Wildfire
that he had the altercation with the overseer, whom he found
about to flog the young negro Dan. Pearson had sent the lad
half an hour before on a message to some slaves at work at the
other end of the estate, and had found him sitting on the ground
watching a tree in which he had discovered a possum. That Dan
deserved punishment was undoubted. He had at present no regular
employment upon the estate. Jake, his father, was head of the
stables, and Dan had made himself useful in odd jobs about the
horses, and expected to become one of the regular stable hands.
The overseer was of opinion that there were already more negroes
in the stable than could find employment, and had urged upon
Mrs. Wingfield that one of the hands there and the boy Dan should
be sent out to the fields. She, however, refused.
"I know you are quite right,
Jonas, in what you say. But there were always four hands in
the stable in my father's time, and there always have been up
to now; and though I know they have an easy time of it, I certainly
should not like to send any of them out to the fields. As to
Dan, we will think about it. When his father was about his age
he used to lead my pony when I first took to riding, and when
there is a vacancy Dan must come into the stable. I could not
think of sending him out as a field hand, in the first place
for his father's sake, but still more for that of Vincent. Dan
used to be told off to see that he did not get into mischief
when he was a little boy, and he has run messages and been his
special boy since he came back. Vincent wanted to have him as
his regular house servant; but it would have broken old Sam's
heart if, after being my father's boy and my husband's, another
had taken his place as Vincent's."
And so Dan had remained
in the stable, but regarding Vincent as his special master,
carrying notes for him to his friends, or doing any odd jobs
he might require, and spending no small portion of his time
in sleep. Thus he was an object of special dislike to the overseer;
in the first place because he had not succeeded in having his
way with regard to him, and in the second because he was a useless
hand, and the overseer loved to get as much work as possible
out of every one on the estate. The message had been a somewhat
important one, as he wanted the slaves for some work that was
urgently required; and he lost his temper, or he would not have
done an act which would certainly bring him into collision with
He was well aware that
the lad did not really like him, and that his efforts to gain
his good-will had failed, and he had foreseen that sooner or
later there would be a struggle for power between them. However,
he relied upon his influence with Mrs. Wingfield, and upon the
fact that she was the life-owner of the Orangery, and believed
that he would be able to maintain his position even when Vincent
came of age. Vincent on his side objected altogether to the
overseer's treatment of the hands, of which he heard a good
deal from Dan, and had already remonstrated with his mother
on the subject. He, however, gained nothing by this. Mrs. Wingfield
had replied that he was too young to interfere in such matters,
that his English ideas would not do in Virginia, and that naturally
the slaves were set against the overseer; and that now Pearson
had no longer a master to support him, he was obliged to be
more severe than before to enforce obedience. At the same time
it vexed her at heart that there should be any severity on the
Orangery estate, where the best relations had always prevailed
between the masters and slaves, and she had herself spoken to
Jonas on the subject.
He had given her the same
answer that she had given her son: "The slaves will work for
a master, Mrs. Wingfield, in a way they will not for a stranger.
They set themselves against me, and if I were not severe with
them I should get no work at all out of them. Of course, if
you wish it, they can do as they like; but in that case they
must have another overseer. I cannot see a fine estate going
to ruin. I believe myself some of these Abolition fellows have
been getting among them and doing them mischief, and that there
is a bad spirit growing up among them. I can assure you that
I am as lenient with them as is possible to be. But if they
won't work I must make them, so long as I stay here."
And so the overseer had
had his way. She knew that the man was a good servant, and that
the estate was kept in excellent order. After all, the severities
of which she had heard complaints were by no means excessive;
and it was not to be expected that a Northern overseer could
rule entirely by kindness, as the owner of an estate could do.
A change would be most inconvenient to her, and she would have
difficulty in suiting herself so well another time. Besides,
the man had been with her sixteen years, and was, as she believed,
devoted to her interests. Therefore she turned a deaf ear to
She had always been somewhat
opposed to his being left in England at school, urging that
he would learn ideas there that would clash with those of the
people among whom his life was to be spent; and she still considered
that her views had been justified by the result.
The overseer was the first
to give his version of the story about Dan's conduct; for on
going to the house Vincent found his sisters, Rosa and Annie,
in the garden, having just returned from a two days' visit to
some friends in Richmond, and stayed chatting with them and
listening to their news for an hour, and in the meantime Jonas
had gone in and seen Mrs. Wingfield and told his story.
"I think, Mrs. Wingfield,"
he said when he had finished, "that it will be better for me
to leave you. It is quite evident that I can have no authority
over the hands if your son is to interfere when I am about to
punish a slave for an act of gross disobedience and neglect.
I found that all the tobacco required turning, and now it will
not be done this afternoon owing to my orders not being carried
out, and the tobacco will not improbably be injured in quality.
My position is difficult enough as it is; but if the slaves
see that instead of being supported I am thwarted by your son,
my authority is gone altogether. No overseer can carry on his
work properly under such circumstances."
"I will see to the matter,
Jonas," Mrs. Wingfield said decidedly. "Be assured that you
have my entire support, and I will see that my son does not
When, therefore, Vincent
entered the house and began his complaint he found himself cut
"I have heard the story
already, Vincent. Dan acted in gross disobedience, and thoroughly
deserved the punishment Jonas was about to give him. The work
of the estate cannot be carried on if such conduct is to be
tolerated; and once for all, I will permit no interference on
your part with Jonas. If you have any complaints to make, come
to me and make them; but you are not yourself to interfere in
any way with the overseer. As for Dan, I have directed Jonas
that the next time he gives cause for complaint he is to go
into the fields."
Vincent stood silent for
a minute, then he said quietly:
"Very well, mother. Of
course you can do as you like; but at any rate I will not keep
my month shut when I see that fellow ill-treating the slaves.
Such things were never done in my father's time, and I won't
see them done now. You said the other day you would get me a
nomination to West Point as soon as I was sixteen. I should
be glad if you would do so. By the time I have gone through
the school, you will perhaps see that I have been right about
So saying, he turned and
left the room and again joined his sisters in the drawing-room.
"I have just told mother
that I will go to West Point, girls," he said. "Father said
more than once that he thought it was the best education I could
get in America."
"But I thought you had
made up your mind that you would rather stop at home, Vincent?"
"So I had, and so I would
have done, but mother and I differ in opinion. That fellow Jonas
was going to flog Dan, and I stopped him this morning, and mother
takes his part against me. You know, I don't like the way he
goes on with the slaves. They are not half so merry and happy
as they used to be, and I don't like it. We shall have one of
them running away next, and that will be a nice thing on what
used to be considered one of the happiest plantations in Virginia.
I can't make mother out; I should have thought that she would
have been the last person in the world to have allowed the slaves
to be harshly treated."
"I am sure we don't like
Jonas more than you do, Vincent; but you see mamma has to depend
upon him so much. No, I don't think she can like it; but you
can't have everything you like in a man, and I know she thinks
he is a very good overseer. I suppose she could get another?"
Vincent said he thought
that there could not be much difficulty about getting an overseer.
"There might be a difficulty
in getting one she could rely on so thoroughly," Rosa said.
"You see a great deal must be left to him. Jonas has been here
a good many years now, and she has learned to trust him. It
would be a long time before she had the same confidence in a
stranger; and you may be sure that he would have his faults,
though, perhaps, not the same as those of Jonas. I think you
don't make allowance enough for mamma, Vincent. I quite agree
with you as to Jonas, and I don't think mamma can like his harshness
to the slaves any more than you do; but every one says what
a difficulty it is to get a really trustworthy and capable overseer,
and, of course, it is all the harder when there is no master
to look after him."
"Well, in a few years I
shall be able to look after an overseer," Vincent said.
"You might do so, of course,
Vincent, if you liked; but unless you change a good deal, I
don't think your supervision would amount to much. When you
are not at school you are always on horseback and away, and
we see little enough of you, and I do not think you are likely
for a long time yet to give up most of your time to looking
after the estate."
"Perhaps you are right,"
Vincent said, after thinking for a minute; "but I think I could
settle down too, and give most of my time to the estate, if
I was responsible for it. I dare say mother is in a difficulty
over it, and I should not have spoken as I did; I will go in
and tell her so."
Vincent found his mother
sitting as he had left her. Although she had sided with Jonas,
it was against her will; for it was grievous to her to hear
complaints of the treatment of the slaves at the Orangery. Still,
as Rosa had said, she felt every confidence in her overseer,
and believed that he was an excellent servant. She was conscious
that she herself knew nothing of business, and that she must
therefore give her entire confidence to her manager. She greatly
disliked the strictness of Jonas; but if, as he said, the slaves
would not obey him without, he must do as he thought best.
"I think I spoke too hastily,
mother," Vincent said as he entered; "and I am sure that you
would not wish the slaves to be ill-treated more than I should.
I dare say Jonas means for the best."
"I feel sure that he does,
Vincent. A man in his position cannot make himself obeyed like
a master. I wish it could be otherwise, and I will speak to
him on the subject; but it will not do to interfere with him
too much. A good overseer is not easy to get, and the slaves
are always ready to take advantage of leniency. An easy master
makes bad work, but an easy overseer would mean ruin to an estate.
I am convinced that Jonas has our interests at heart, and I
will tell him that I particularly wish that he will devise some
other sort of punishment, such as depriving men who won't work
of some of their privileges instead of using the lash."
"Thank you, mother. At
any rate, he might he told that the lash is never to be used
without first appealing to you."
"I will see about it, Vincent,
and talk it over with him." And with that Vincent was satisfied.