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The Yellow Chief   By: (1818-1883)

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The Yellow Chief By Captain Mayne Reid Illustrations by Anon Published by George Routledge and Sons. This edition dated 1875. The Yellow Chief, by Captain Mayne Reid.

THE YELLOW CHIEF, BY CAPTAIN MAYNE REID.

CHAPTER ONE.

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE PUMP.

"To the pump with him! And see that he has a double dose of it!"

The words were spoken in a tone of command, earnest and angry. They were addressed to the overseer of a cotton plantation not far from Vicksburg, in the State of Mississippi, the speaker being Blount Blackadder, a youth aged eighteen, and son to Squire Blackadder, the owner of the plantation.

Who was to receive the double douche?

Near by stood a personage to whom the words evidently pointed. He was also a youth, not very different either in age or size from him who had given the order; though his tawny skin and short crisped hair bespoke him of a different race in short, a mulatto. And the time for it is a tale of twenty years ago along with other attendant circumstances, proclaimed him a slave of the plantation.

And why ordered to be thus served? As a punishment, of course.

You may smile at the idea, and deem it a joke. But the "punishment of the pump" is one of the most severe that can be inflicted; far more so than either the bastinado, or castigation by the lash. A man may writhe while his back is being scored by the cowskin; but that continuous stream of cold water, at first only refreshing, becomes after a time almost unendurable, and the victim feels as though his skull were being split open with an axe.

What had "Blue Dick" the plantation sobriquet of the young mulatto what had he done to deserve such chastisement?

The overseer, hesitating to inflict it, put this question to Blount Blackadder.

"That's my business, and not yours, Mr Snively. Enough when I say he has deserved; and darn me if he don't have it. To the pump with him!"

"Your father won't be pleased about it," pursued the overseer. "When he comes home "

"When he comes home; that's my affair. He's not at home now, and during his absence I'm master of this plantation, I guess. I hope, sir, you'll recognise me as such."

"Oh, sartinly," grumbled the overseer.

"Well, then, I've only to tell you, that the nigger's got to be punished. He's done enough to deserve it. Let that satisfy you; and for the rest I'll be answerable to my father."

What Blue Dick had done the young planter did not condescend to explain. Nor was it his passion that rendered him reticent; but a secret consciousness that he was himself in the wrong, and acting from motives of the meanest revenge.

They had their origin in jealousy. There was a quadroon girl upon the plantation to whose smiles Blue Dick had aspired. But they were also coveted by his young master the master of both.

In such a rivalry the end is easily told. The honest love of Blue Dick was doomed to a harsh disappointment; for Sylvia, the quadroon, had yielded her heart less to the dictates of natural partiality, than to the combined influence of vanity and power. It was a tale oft told in those days of the so styled patriarchal institution happily now at an end.

Maddened by the discovery of his sweetheart's defection, the young mulatto could not restrain himself from recrimination. A collision had occurred between him and his master's son. There had been words and threatened blows, quickly succeeded by the scene we are describing.

Mr Snively was not the man to hold out long against the threats of authority. His place was too precious to be risked by an act of idle chivalry. What to him was the punishment of a slave: a ceremony at which he was accustomed to assist almost every day of his life? Besides, he had no particular liking for Blue Dick, who was regarded by him as a "sassy fellow... Continue reading book >>




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