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Clotel; or, The President's Daughter
William Wells Brown
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Chapter 18. The Liberator
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created free and equal; that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness."--Declaration of American Independence.
THE death of the parson was the commencement of a new era in the history of his slaves.
Only a little more than eighteen years of age, Georgiana could not expect to carry out her
own wishes in regard to the slaves, although she was sole heir to her father's estate. There
were distant relations whose opinions she had at least to respect. And both law and public
opinion in the state were against any measure of emancipation that she might think of
adopting; unless, perhaps, she might be permitted to send them to Liberia. Her uncle in
Connecticut had already been written to, to come down and aid in settling up the estate.
He was a Northern man, but she knew him to be a tight-fisted yankee, whose whole
counsel would go against liberating the Negroes. Yet there was one way in which the
thing could be done. She loved Carlton, and she well knew that he loved her; she read it
in his countenance every time they met, yet the young man did not mention his wishes to
her. There were many reasons why he should not.
In the first place, her father was just deceased, and it seemed only right that he should
wait a reasonable time. Again, Carlton was poor, and Georgiana was possessed of a large
fortune; and his high spirit would not, for a moment, allow him to place himself in a
position to be regarded as a fortune-hunter. The young girl hinted, as best she could, at
the probable future; but all to no purpose. He took nothing to himself. True, she had read
much of "woman's rights;" and had even attended a meeting, while at the North, which
had been called to discuss the wrongs of woman; but she could not nerve herself up to the
point of putting the question to Carlton, although she felt sure that she should not be
rejected. She waited, but in vain. At last, one evening, she came out of her room rather
late, and was walking on the piazza for fresh air. She passed near Carlton's room, and
heard the voice of Sam. The negro had just come in to get the young man's boots, and had
stopped, as he usually did, to have some talk.
"I wish," said Sam, "dat Marser Carlton an Miss Georgy would get married; den, speck,
we'd have good times." "I don't think your mistress would have me," replied the young
man. "What make tink dat, Marser Carlton?" "Your mistress would marry no one, Sam,
unless she loved them." "Den I wish she would lub you, cause I tink we have good times
den. All our folks is de same 'pinion like me," returned the Negro, and then left the room
with the boots in his hands. During the conversation between the Anglo-Saxon and the
African, one word had been dropped by the former that haunted the young lady the
remainder of the night--"Your mistress would marry no one unless she loved them."
That word awoke her in the morning, and caused her to decide upon this import subject.
Love and duty triumphed over the woman's timid nature, and that day Georgiana
informed Carlton that she was ready to become his wife. The young man, with grateful
tears, accepted and kissed the hand that was offered to him. The marriage of Carlton and
Miss Peck was hailed with delight by both the servants in the house and the Negroes on
the farm. New rules were immediately announced for the working and general treatment