This woman made no complaint, and did not appear to regard her condition as on of unusual hardship. The only thing she seemed to have expected from her master was a little aid in sickness. In reply to a question as to what he did for her, she answered: "My master never gives me anything, not even a little medicine, no more than if I did not belong to him." As her appearance indicated feeble health, we made inquiry on that score, to which she replied that she "was ailing," but that she "managed to keep up enough to make her wages." She added: "I get along well enough, and keep the hire paid up. You could not pay me to live at home if I could help myself." We asked her if she had to pay the hire for her boys in any event, and her reply was: "If the boys make more than $2 a week apiece, I get what is over; if they don"t make that, I have to make it good to him. He has got to have it Saturday night, sure."
Another case was marked by an additional feature. It was that of a slave woman, apparently about thirty-five years of age. Coming upon her without any notice of our visit, we found her in a room tidily kept, and herself decently dressed. She had been hiring herself eleven years at $72 a year. Her husband, she told us (of course he could not be legally such), was a slave, and was hired by his master as cook in one of the Louisville hotels for $300 a year. Out of this his master, she said, gave him once or twice a year a $5 note-nothing else. We saw in the room two bright intelligent-looking children-one a boy about ten years old, the other a girl two or three years younger. One might go, at a venture, into a dozen dwellings of persons of the middle class in fair circumstances and not find their children cleaner in person and more neatly and suitably clad as were these two young slaves. We expressed to the mother our satisfaction at their appearance. Her face saddened and she said: "The white people have two of my children and that boy is about big enough to go."
We inquired how this was, and she informed us that her master left her children with her till they were about eleven years old and then took them home to work. Up to that age she fed and clothed them at her own expense. The last they had taken was a little girl between eleven and twelve years old. Four months ago the mother had gone to the plantation to visit her, not having seen her then for ten months. She had saved a dress for the child and took it with her. "I knew," she said, "that she would need it; but I never expected to find her as bad as she was. I could not help crying when I saw her. She was not dressed as a human creature should be. I took off her rags and washed her. She was serving my young master, and he had whipped the child so that you could not lay your hand anywhere along her back where he had not cut the blood out of her. I did all I could for her and dressed her, but I could not stay." Here the poor creature's eyes filled with tears. "I brought back the rags my child was covered with. I have them yet." We asked if we could see them. She went out, it seemed reluctantly, and brought us a small bundle of filthy tatters which she appeared ashamed that we should see. "If I could only have kept the children," she said, "I would not have cared for all the rest. I liked so much to have them clean and nice."
This woman made her living, as we ascertained, solely by washing and ironing. She, like the other, had paid her expenses of every kind, the doctor's bill inclusive.
Truly, the tender mercies of slavery are cruel! U, assuming to be gentlemen, commit toward poor, hard-working women such flagrant injustice as this?