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Minnie's Sacrifice   By: (1825-1911)

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Transcriber's Note: This document is the text of Minnie's Sacrifice. Any bracketed notations such as [Text missing], [?], and those inserting letters or other comments are from the original text.

Transcriber's Note About the Author: Francis Ellen Watkins Harper (1825 1911) was born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland. Orphaned at three, she was raised by her uncle, a teacher and radical advocate for civil rights. She attended the Academy for Negro Youth and was educated as a teacher. She became a professional lecturer, activist, suffragette, poet, essayist, novelist, and the author of the first published short story written by an African American. Her work spanned more than sixty years.

MINNIE'S SACRIFICE

A Rediscovered Novel by

Frances E.W. Harper

Edited By Frances Smith Foster

Chapter I

Miriam sat in her lowly cabin, painfully rocking her body to and fro; for a great sorrow had fallen upon her life. She had been the mother of three children, two had died in their infancy, and now her last, her loved and only child was gone, but not like the rest, who had passed away almost as soon as their little feet had touched the threshold of existence. She had been entangled in the mazes of sin and sorrow; and her sun had gone down in darkness. It was the old story. Agnes, fair, young and beautiful, had been a slave, with no power to protect herself from the highest insults that brutality could offer to innocence. Bound hand and foot by that system, which has since gone down in wrath, and blood, and tears, she had fallen a victim to the wiles and power of her master; and the result was the introduction of a child of shame into a world of sin and suffering; for herself an early grave; and for her mother a desolate and breaking heart.

While Miriam was sitting down hopelessly beneath the shadow of her mighty grief, gazing ever and anon on the pale dead face, which seemed to bear in its sad but gentle expression, an appeal from earth to heaven, some of the slaves would hurry in, and looking upon the fair young face, would drop a word of pity for the weeping mother, and then hurry on to their appointed tasks. All day long Miriam sat alone with her dead, except when these kindly interruptions broke upon the monotony of her sorrow.

In the afternoon, Camilla, the only daughter of her master, entered her cabin, and throwing her arms around her neck exclaimed, "Oh! Mammy, I am so sorry I didn't know Agnes was dead. I've been on a visit to Mr. Le Grange's plantation, and I've just got back this afternoon, and as soon as I heard that Agnes was dead I hurried to see you. I would not even wait for my dinner. Oh! how sweet she looks," said Camilla, bending over the corpse, "just as natural as life. When did she die?"

"This morning, my poor, dear darling!" And another burst of anguish relieved the overcharged heart.

"Oh! Mammy, don't cry, I am so sorry; but what is this?" said she, as the little bundle of flannel began to stir.

"That is poor Agnes' baby."

"Agnes' baby? Why, I didn't know that Agnes had a baby. Do let me see it?"

Tenderly the grandmother unfolded the wrappings, and presented the little stranger. He was a beautiful babe, whose golden hair, bright blue eyes and fair complexion showed no trace of the outcast blood in his veins.

"Oh, how beautiful!" said Camilla; "surely this can't be Agnes' baby. He is just as white as I am, and his eyes what a beautiful blue and his hair, why it is really lovely."

"He is very pretty, Miss, but after all he is only a slave."

A slave. She had heard that word before; but somehow, when applied to that fair child, it grated harshly on her ear; and she said, "Well, I think it is a shame for him to be a slave, when he is just as white as anybody. Now, Mammy," said she, throwing off her hat, and looking soberly into the fire, "if I had my way, he should never be a slave."

"And why can't you have your way? I'm sure master humors you in everything... Continue reading book >>




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