LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 459
had always meant to set me free ; but he had not done it, and so I was set down in the list. I ?d always known who I was, but never thought much about it. Nobody ever expects that a strong, healthy man is a-going to die. My father was a well man only four hours before he died ; — it was one of the first cholera cases in New Orleans. The day after the funeral, my father's wife took her children, and went up to her father's plantation. I thought they treated me strangely, but didn't know. There was a young lawyer whom they left to settle the business; and he came every day, and was about the house, and spoke very politely to me. He brought with him, one day, a young man, whom I thought the handsomest I had ever seen. I shall never forget that evening. I walked with him in the garden. I was lonesome and full of sorrow, and he was so kind and gentle to me ; and he told me that he had seen me before I went to the convent, and that he had loved me a great while, and that he would be my friend and protector ; — in short, though he did n't tell me, he had paid two thousand dollars for me, and I was his property, — I became his willingly, for I loved him. Loved!" said the woman, stopping. " Oh, how I did love that man ! How I love him now, — and always shall, while I breathe ! He was so beautiful, so high, so noble ! He put me into a beautiful house, with servants, horses, and carriages, and furniture, and dresses. Everything that money could buy, he gave me ; but I did n't set any value on all that, — I only cared for him. I loved him better than my God and my own soul; and, if I tried, I couldn't do any other way from what he wanted me to.
" I wanted only one thing, — I did want him to marry me. I thought, if he loved me as he said he did, and if I was what he seemed to think I was, he would be willing to marry me and set me free. But he convinced me that it would be impossible ; and he told me that if we were only faithful to each other, it was marriage before God. If that is true, was n't I that man's wife ? Was n't