Thumbnail Image
Not Available




   


Harper's Weekly 04/02/1864


TIPPOO SAIB.

All heroes are not héros de romans. Not all
preux chevaliers would be attractive as cavaliers,
and one admires many things that one does not care
to appropriate.


Tippoo Saib was neither handsome, nor accom-
plished, nor gently bred. He was a middle-aged ne-
gro of Congo descent, and formed after the ultra
type of his race, with misshapen skull, immense
lips, close-curled wool, and a skin as nearly black
as human skin was ever tinted. He was heavy
both of motion and intellect, and entirely ignorant
of almost every thing a man should know. But at
the end of my story deny, if you dare, that he was
a hero, a preux chevalier, a man to be admired and
revered.


When North Carolina joined the rebellion and
began to raise troops, Mr. John Fernald got him-
self transformed into Captain John Fernald. When,
furthermore, he was requested to furnish one or
more negroes to labor upon the fortifications of
Roanoke Island, he magnificently replied, “Cer-
tainly,” and went home to consider how it was to
be done. For John Fernald, the needy heir of a
spendthrift sire and grandsire, owned no lands save
his heavily-mortgaged plantation of Mossmoor, no
stock save the fine horse who was destined to bear
his master to the wars, a few cows and pigs, Tippoo
Saib, his wife Marcy, their child Scipio Africanus
(Mr. Fernald had a fine taste in nomenclature), and
Aphrodite, commonly called Frite, a girl upon whom
devolved the house-labor while Marcy wrought with
her husband in the fields, except in some great do-
mestic emergency, when she was summoned to the
assistance of Frite.


The household was a meagre one, and its affairs
administered in a spirit of fretful economy, inculca-
ted upon Frite by her master with oaths, by her mis-
tress with peevish complaints as to its necessity.


Such scanty revenue as the farm still yielded was
to be credited to Tippoo, who, with Marcy and the
occasional help of hired service, both directed and
executed all its operations.


This trusty auxiliary was not then to be lightly
parted with, and yet he was the only chattel in
Captain Fernald's possession answering to the de-
scription of the contribution he was called upon to
make; nor had he funds or available property of
any kind for the purchase of a substitute. One
course was left, and but one. Marcy and Scipio
Africanus must be bartered for a laborer; and Frite,
who was retained as being less valuable as a piece
of merchandise, and more so as a household drudge,
must be urged to redoubled exertions in her own
province, as Tippoo in his, to make good her place.


The plan, once resolved on, was soon executed,
and Marcy and her child were attached to a coffee
of slaves traveling south.


And what did Tippoo feel or say at being thus in
a day bereft of wife and child, and such poor ties to
home and love as a slave may know?


What he felt the God who made him only knows.
What he said was this:


“Mas'r, you loves lilly Missy?”

“Of course I do, Tip.”

“An' what way would you fix it to 'pear de right
ting, Mas'r, dat lilly Missy should be toted off
where woudn't nebber see her no more?”


“Oh well, Tip—I know, of course. But then
you see, boy, it is different. You know such things
are a matter of course. My child—why it is alto-
gether another thing.”


“Don' see it, Mas'r,” replied Tippoo, with a slow
shake of his poor, bewildered head. “Scip he brack,
I know, and lilly Missy she white as an egg; but
den I's brack myself, an' don' tink de wuss of my
chile fer bein' like his daddy. Don' see it nohow,
Mas'r.”


He stood leaning on his hoe and looking gloom-
ily at the ground, not sullen or vindictive, only
sorrowfully seeking a solution to the terrible in-
justice of his lot, dimly felt.


Captain Fernald, confusedly switching the weeds
and the flowers about him, found no reply to make;
and after standing for a few moments, presenting a
remarkable contrast by his nervous irritability of
manner to the solemn calm of Tippoo's mood, he
muttered some incoherent words of vague consola-
tion, and sauntered away.


Nothing more was ever said between them on
the subject; but in the week intervening between
that day and the one when the volunteer Captain
joined his regiment he treated his silent slave with
not only unwonted kindness, but in a certain apol-
ogetic and deprecatory manner, involuntary on his
part, and unperceived by Tippoo's dim and preoc-
cupied mind, but yet not without its effect on each.


The Captain joined his regiment. Tippoo Saib
toiled early and late at his thankless tasks. Frite
groaned and drudged unaided. And poor, feeble
Mrs. Fernald took to her bed, with a complication
of nervous disorders and distresses.


Only bright little Alice remained untouched by
sorrow or wrong, to illuminate with the sunshine
of her three summers some portion of the gloom of
that dreary household.


“How's Mist's?” asked Tippoo Saib, one even-
ing, about a month after his master's departure, as
he entered the kitchen for his milking-pail.


“Wuss,” responded Frite, sulkily; and after an
embarrassed pause, added, “I'se comin' out to help
you milk, Tip, quick's I put lilly Missy to bed.”


“You don't need to, Frite. I'd as good be doin'
as restin',” said Tippoo, heavily, as he went out.


But Aphrodite, who had her own purposes to fur-
ther, soon followed him, and after a little prelim-
inary complaint of the hardships she endured, said,
suddenly:


“I's gwine off, Tip.”

“Off! Whar's you gwine, Frite?”

“W'y to de Norf, or somewhere 'bout dere. You
see, old Tip, Mist's she gettin wuss berry fas', an'
to-night she tol' me sen' you for de doctor.”


“Whar's he?”

“Dere ain't none short o'Weston, an'Mist's said
w'en you was dar you mout go tell her brudder's
folks how she sick and not spectin' to get well no
more.”


“Hebbenly Marster! Am she dat bad, Frite?”

“I reckon she am,” returned Aphrodite, stoical-
ly; and immediately added, “So I's gwine to cut
an run 'fore Mas'r Charles git here. I reckon he
look sharp 'nough arter us, Tip, wedder he sister
lib or die. I knows whar dere's some cullud folks
in de swamp waitin' for to git Norf.”


“Has you seen Pete?” asked Tip, referring to
a brother of Frite's, who had disappeared from a
neighboring plantation some weeks previously.


“Nebber you min' 'bout dat, ole man,” retorted
Frite, nodding her head shrewdly. “On'y if you'd
like to git your freedom easy, you com' 'long o' me
to-night to de Big Swamp.”


“But be you gwine to leave Mist's an' lilly Missy
all 'lone,” asked Tippoo, incredulously, “an' she so
sick as you tell for?”


“She ain't no sicker dan I be, o' slavin' here for
noffin,” returned Frite, angrily. “An' to-night's
de las' chance fer jinin' dem folks. Dey spec's to
move 'fore mornin'. I tole Pete I's be dar 'fore
midnight.”


“Be whar 'fore midnight?”

“Whar I's gwine to jine him,” retorted Frite,
dryly. “Ef you's a min' ter go 'long, yer'll find
out all 'bout it; an' ef you ain't agwine, w'y 'tain't
no matter.”


“Wouldn' it do to-morrer mornin' arter I's ben
to sen' de doctor to Mist's?”


“Tell ye no, nigger, 'twon't. Dey's gwine to
start dis berry night arter moonrise, an' I ain't a
gwine to gib ye no d'rections whar dey's gwine
neider. Pete didn' want I should even say wot I
has, but I won't agwine to cut 'thout gibin you a
chance fer to go 'long too. So now say, ole Tip,
right smart, wot'll ye do?”


“Tank ye kin'ly, Frite,” replied Tippoo, after a
long pause, during which he softly smoothed and
patted the head of Snowdrop, his favorite heifer.


“Tank ye kin'ly, but I reckin I'll stop.”

“Den all I's got to say is, de more fool you,” re-
sponded Frite, venomously, as she lifted the full
pail and turned toward the house.


“Stop a minute, honey. Don' yer tink dat I's
ongrateful for de chance, nor yet dat I doesn' keer
for freedom. But dere ain't no way to get to Wes-
ton an' back fore mornin', an' dat you sez is too late.
Den dere ain't no house 'tween here an' dar, an'
dere ain't never no one comes dis way, now Mas'r
gone, and poor Mist's mout die an' lily Missy too,
'fore any one 'd know on't.”


“Mas'r wa'n't so tender o' your ole woman an'
pickaninny,” retorted the disappointed Frite.


The thrust was unexpected, and the great, loving,
ignorant heart was unshielded by any philosophy,
any hope, any faith that what seemed so wrong
must yet be right. Tippoo abruptly hid his face in
the white heifer's neck, and great heaving sobs be-
gan to shake his brawny frame, and the hot tears
rolled down wondering Snowdrop's neck and min-
gled with the dust.


“I didn' mean to make you feel so bad, Tip,”
said Frite, at last, in an awe-struck voice; “on'y I
didn' see w'y yer couldn' do same as Mas'r jes' done
by you. Look arter yerself an' nebber min' what
come to oder folks.”


Tippoo stood up wiping his eyes on the sleeve of
his coarse shirt, and looked at the girl with a pa-
tient smile as he replied.


'Pears like, Frite, I'd ruther do de way dat I'd
ha' liked Mas'r to ha' done by me.”


But do not think that Tippoo Saib, thus speaking,
echoed mechanically, as so many of his white breth-
ren do, that Golden Rule which is in all our mouths,
and so few of our hearts. He had never heard of it—
in fact, his religious education had progressed very
little beyond that Mumbo Jumbo faith, in the odor
of whose sanctity his ancestors had lived and died.


He did but speak out of the fullness of that child's
heart of his, whose dumb anguish shook the uncouth
frame that held it, but found no other expression
than the tears that had rolled down Snowdrop's
neck.


Frite lingered a moment or two, but not finding
any better argument than those she had already
used, and feeling also a little injured by Tip's su-
periority, she finally went into the house and
slammed the door violently, after which demon-
stration her mind relapsed into its former placidity.


Tippoo Saib went to his lonely cabin, cooked his
scanty supper, and then slept as a man who labors
fourteen hours out of twenty-four must sleep what-
ever may be his mental disquietude.


Early in the morning he went up to the house to
receive his directions for Weston from his mistress,
and not without curiosity as to Frite's movements.
The kitchen door stood open, and the autumn sun-
shine streamed merrily in, but, except the cat purr-
ing in the ashes, no creature was visible, nor any
preparations for breakfast going on.


“She's cut and lef' pore Mist's all 'lone,” solilo-
quized Tip; and his slow mind began a process of
inquiry as to his own first duty in the case.


While he still stood pondering and scratching his
woolly head the quick patter of small bare feet was
heard along the passage, and in the open doorway
stood a rosy little maid, her trailing night-dress
deftly gathered in one hand, while the other “shed
by the yellow hair” from her sweet but troubled
face.


“Uncle Tip, go call Frite,” began she, eagerly.

“Baby wants her supper, and Frite all gone. Un-
cle Tip make Frite come dress baby, and get baby's
supper.”


“Poor lilly Missy!” was all Tip found to say, but
his voice was tender as a woman's.


Lilly Missy came forward and put her morsel of
a hand into his black paw, and when he knelt upon
one knee and placed her upon the other she threw
both arms round his neck and nestled close to his
broad breast.


“Uncle Tip's good. Baby loves Uncle Tip; but
baby wants her supper,” remarked she, persistently.


“Lilly Missy go and get into her bed again, an'
Tip 'll go an' git her some nice warm milk from the
mooly cow, will she?”


“And give milk to poor mamma, too; nice warm
milk, for mamma all cold, and don't want to talk to
baby. Mamma don't wake up at all, when baby
tells she to wake up.”


A sudden horror woke in Tip's bewildered mind.

“Lilly Missy, show Tip where her mammy is, an'
he'll ask if she wants some milk,” suggested he; and
Alice, sliding from his knee, seized his finger and
led him on through the passage to the door of a large
bedroom, where Mrs. Fernald had chosen to lie, after
she was confined to her bed.


Standing at the door, with head reverently bared
and breath suspended, Tip looked earnestly at the
pale, pretty face turned toward him on the pillow.
He needed not to approach. There is an unnamed
sense, keener than sight, keener than touch, that
unerringly warns living man of his neighborhood
to death—a chill—a repugnance—a nervous desire
to flee. Such it was that now crept through Tip-
poo's blood, and turned the rich brown of his honest
skin to a muddy yellow. Such it was that, laying
its chill hand even upon the innocent heart of the
child, made her cling closer to the side of her strange
comrade, murmuring:


“Baby's cold. Baby don't want stay here.”

Releasing himself from her grasp, Tippoo Saib
stole on tip-toe across the room, and reverently drew
the fair linen sheet over that face as white as cold;
then drew down the blinds and left the room, clos-
ing the door behind him.


“Come, lilly Missy,” said he, soothingly, to the
child, who now sat on the lower step of the stair-
case, with her little trembling lip and grieved eyes,
showing that the tears were close at hand.


“Come, show ole Tip whar's its little closes, an'
he'll try to dress you. Den you'll go 'long wid
him, milkin' de cows, an' den he'll gib you some
breaksus.”


“And give mamma some nice warm milk, so she
feel all well again, and talk to baby?” asked the lit-
tle maid.


“Mammy don' want for nothin', lilly Missy, an'
de nex' she eats an' drinks will be better nor any
thing we could gib her,” said Tip, solemnly, with
hazy visions of a very objective sort of Paradise flit-
ting through his mind.


The child was satisfied with the vague assurance,
and patted off to fetch her clothes. These, with
much trouble and anxious effort to understand the
probable intent of their construction, Tip finally ad-
justed, with some little aid from Alice herself, and
then lifting her in one arm, and taking his pails
upon the other, he went out to milk.


This process completed, they returned to the
house, and Tip, discovering some bread in a cup-
board, prepared bread and milk for a family of per-
haps six hungry boys, and setting it before lilly
Missy, who had forgotten all her troubles in a frolic
with the cat, he bade her “eat it all up, like a
blessed lamb,” and she should have some more.


Then seating himself upon the door-step, with his
elbows upon his knees, and his chin in the palms
of his hands, Tippoo Saib unconsciously entered
upon the crisis of his life.


Before him lay two courses. The one led to free-
dom—and remember that this word to a slave car-
ries the same illimitable blessing that the word
Heaven does to a freeman—the other to continued,
nay, aggravated slavery, for Mr. Bennett, the broth-
er of Mrs. Fernald, was well known as a hard mas-
ter, and to him, should Captain Fernald never re-
turn from the war, Tip would become thrall.


Tip raised his head and looked steadfastly North-
ward, until in his dull eyes began to glow a fire, a
manhood they never knew before. Then suddenly
turning his head, he fixed them upon the little child,
who, chattering gayly to the kitten as she fed her
with the remnant of her breakfast, did not know
that her own life hung in the balance, and that the
untaught man whom the father had so bitterly
wronged was its arbiter.


Tippoo knew the forest paths for miles about
his home. He knew the course the party of fugi-
tives would necessarily travel. He did not doubt
that by arduous exertion he could overtake them,
or failing in that, make his own way to the North
and to Freedom. But he knew, too, that for weeks
no visitor might seek the lonely plantation house,
that the child was entirely incapable of providing
her own subsistence even for a day, or of making
her own way to those who might care for her.
Slow visions of the bright-haired child moaning for
food, pining from weary day to day, until, lying ex-
hausted in the lonely night, she should wail her
little life away, or perhaps wandering to the forest
perish miserably there; visions of the dead woman,
who had been a kind mistress to him and his, lying
unburied in that darkened room, until she who had
been so beautiful became a thing of nameless hor-
ror; visions even of poor Snowdrop and her mates
calling vainly to him for help, and suffering miser-
ably for its want, passed in slow procession through
his unaccustomed mind, and burying his face in his
broad hands, Tippoo made his decision, chose his
course, and with a deep groan closed his mental
eyes upon those alluring dreams of liberty and man-
hood that had for one brief moment seemed within
his grasp.


Rising heavily he went and took the child in his
arms.


“Will lilly Missy kiss Uncle Tip jes' once?”
asked he, humbly.


The white little arms closed about his neck in an
instant, and the rose-bud mouth was pressed to his
swarthy cheek in a merry shower of kisses.


“Baby love Uncle Tip ever so much. He very
good,” said she, as he replaced her on the floor, and
with his large heart full of love and peace, the man
who had freedom within his grasp elected slavery
instead.


The only horse remaining on the place was lame,
and it was on his own feet that Tippoo Saib traveled
the twelve miles to Weston, carrying little Alice in
his arms, besides a bundle containing some clothes
for her and food should she need it on the road.


Reaching Mr. Bennett's house in the middle of
the afternoon, he asked for the master, and telling
his simple story, delivered up his charge, and waited
to hear what should be his own fate.


“Dead! Your mistress dead? It is very sud-
den. Sit here, boy, till I carry the child to her
aunt,” said Mr. Bennett.


“Baby won't go. Baby like Uncle Tip, and
stay with him,” declared the little lady, quietly,
but so resolutely that she could only be presented
in the drawing-room in the arms of her uncouth
nurse. Here, however, the affectionate caresses of
her aunt, and the attractions of a kitten even pret-
tier than the one she had left at home, soon over-
came her shyness, and she at last consented that
Tip should withdraw to the kitchen, where he vain-
ly tried to eat the dainties set before him by the
sable aunty there presiding.


The next day Mr. Bennett, accompanied by Tip,
upon whose movements he kept a jealous eye, and
two assistants and a clergyman, sought the lonely
house; and after conferring upon his sister's remains
the rites of Christian sepulture, he took possession
of such valuables as remained in the house, and
closing the doors and windows, abandoned it to the
desolation that already had laid its hand upon the
whole scene.


A letter, informing Captain Fernald of his be-
reavement, returned, after many weeks, unopened
to Weston, with the brief notice indorsed upon the
back that Captain Fernald was severely wounded
in the head, was perfectly unconscious, and could
not probably survive many days. Under these cir-
cumstances Mr. Bennett considered himself justi-
fied in taking possession of such part of his niece's
inheritance as could be made available, and con-
verting it either into cash or to his own use.


Tippoo was no favorite with his new master, nor
did he find his life so comfortable as it had been
under his former more independent circumstances.
He did not complain in any manner, however, but
the silent resolution to escape became more and
more confirmed in his mind.


A suspicion of this determination in the mind of
his master increased the disfavor he already enter-
tained for his new chattel, and he resolved to fore-
stall its execution by presenting him to Govern-
ment, in compliance with a new requisition for la-
borers on the fortifications.


The transfer was accordingly made, and at the
same time Mr. Bennett applied for and received a
commission as captain of a volunteer company just
raised in Weston, and already under marching or-
ders.


Tip made no remark on being informed of his
new destiny, but his dark face darkened with a
gleam of satisfaction. Any change was to him a
welcome one.


“Please, Mas'r, I'd like to say good-by to lilly
Missy 'fore I go.”


“Nonsense, boy, what should she care for you?
She's something else to do, and I've no time to
wait; follow me right along.”


Tip patiently turned to do as he was ordered, but
his mind went back to the morning when, sitting
on the sunny door-step, he had given up his own
cherished hope for the sake of that little child, and
now he might not even hear her voice once more.


But of a sudden came the rush of little feet be-
hind them, and a sweet voice crying, breathlessly,
“I will, I will, I will see Uncle Tip again! Let
me go, old Crissy. I will speak to dear old Tip!”


Master and slave turned to see the cause of this
tiny clamor. It was Alice, who, escaping from her
nurse, came flying down the street, her golden curls
streaming in the air, one little foot unshod, and her
face all aglow with rebellious love and determina-
tion.


Tippoo stooped, and catching her in his arms,
raised her to his breast, where she clung and kissed
him as she had done once before in the sunny kitch-
en of the old home.


“Tank you, lilly Missy,” said Tip, solemnly, as
he set her down. “Pleased like Uncle Tip couldn'
ha' gone 'way widout dat. Hebbenly Mas'r bress
you, lilly Missy; an' ef you don' nebber see Tip no
more, yer'll 'member onst in a wile how he toted
ye from de ole home down here, an' how he'd ha'
ben glad to lay down his life, ef so be 'twould ha'
done lilly Missy any good.”


“I love Uncle Tip—Uncle Tip is good. Why is
he sorry?” asked the child, with a perplexed cloud
upon her sunny face.


“Good-by, lilly Missy.” And Tippoo, with no
word more, hurried after his master, who had walked
on impatiently.


Roanoke Island was in possession of the Federal
forces, and its rebel defenders had made a retreat
more rapid than dignified to the main land.


In the camp of the conquerors all was exulta-
tion, mirth, and proud anticipation of future suc-
cesses. In that of the vanquished reigned gloom,
wrath, and the desire of vengeance. Plans for a
counter-surprise, for a sudden dash, that should
sweep away the invading force in one swift de-
struction, were loudly canvassed among the knot of
officers, who had not lost heart and hope in the de-
feat of that dark night; but as a preliminary to any
action it was necessary to learn accurately the posi-
tion and force of the enemy; for of these particu-
lars as many varying estimates were held as there
were tongues to announce them.


A reconnoissance was obviously necessary, and
of several volunteers for this delicate and dangerous
service Captain Bennett and Lieutenant Fosdick
were selected; and so soon as night again fell to
conceal their movements they prepared to set about
it. A light canoe was provided with muffled oars,
the two officers seated themselves in the stern, and
Tippoo Saib was elected to the onerous duty of
oarsman, with a stern injunction from his former
master to beware of any species of treachery, as
himself should be its first victim.


To this intimation Tip meekly responded, “Yis,
Mas'r,” and noiselessly plying his oars, soon placed
his little craft close under the lee of the island.


The night was intensely dark, with occasional
showers of rain, and this circumstance, while favor-
ing the movement of the spies in some respects,
rendered them more difficult in others, especially
as the most absolute silence, both of voice and mo-
tion, was necessary to avoid the observation of the
sentinels, who would, of course, be posted at every
point they might approach.


Finally, however, the Lieutenant was set ashore
at the point of a long tongue of land, whose con-
nection with the island was near enough to the
camp fires to enable him to make a fair survey of
its position without leaving the sheltering woods.
Captain Bennett meantime was, according to previ-
ous agreement, to be rowed some distance farther
north with a view of reconnoitring the fort, and the
position and apparent numbers of the Federal forces
in that quarter.


Arrived at a suitable point for landing, Bennett,
with a whispered word, ordered Tip to guide the
canoe inshore, and it soon grounded noiselessly
upon the sandy beach.


After waiting a few moments to make sure that
his approach was undiscovered, the Captain rose
cautiously to his feet, and was in the act of stepping
over the bows of the boat, when, with a sudden mo-
tion, a noose of small rope slipping over his head,
settled down to his middle and was then drawn
tight, effectually pinioning his arms to his side,
while coil after coil of the same was rapidly passed
about his lower limbs, his body, and one turn laid
with grim pleasantry about his neck.


So sudden was the operation, and so perfectly
taken by surprise was the Captain, that he was al-
ready securely bound before he succeeded in ejacu-
lating,


“You scoundrel! what devil's trick is this?”

“Sh', Mas'r,” returned Tip, with an affectation
of great caution—“don' 'ee speak so loud; mabbe
dem dam Yankee somewhar about, an' oberhear us.”


A tremendous oath expressed Captain Bennett's
appreciation of his slave's pleasantry, but suddenly
remembering that his only hope of escape lay in the
patient and amicable temper of his captor, he suc-
ceeded in smothering his wrath, and saying, in a
tone where forced friendliness and vehement pas-
sion struggled strangely for the mastery,


“Come, Tip, you don't want to hurt me, you
know. You wouldn't give me up to these—
Yankees. Think of my wife and children. Re-
member Alice—”


“An' 'member you, Mas'r, how you t'ought it
couldn' be she'd keer to bid ole Tip good-by, an'
how you alluz grudged de pooty creter saying a
word to de pore nigger dat lubbed her so. 'Tain't
dat, dough, Mas'r, dat's fetched you here. I tinks
you idees 'bout de Yankees all wrong, an' I's gwine
to gib you de chance to git 'em straightened out.
Spec's you'll come back a puffeck 'postle o' freedom,
Mas'r. Now s'pose we go up an' look at dis your
fort togedder, Mas'r? Spec's de Yankees will show
us de inside's well's de out, an' dat's more nor you
bargained for, Mas'r.”


So saying, Tip raised his captive in his arms and
carried him ashore as easily as if he had been a
child.


“Now, Mas'r,” said he, placing him carefully on
the beach, “you's got you ch'ice. Will you be
toted up yander like an armful o' cornshucks, or
will you walk?”


“How can I walk, you black scoundrel, with
my legs tied?” sullenly demanded the captive.


“I's gwine to loose 'em some, ef yer'll say yer'll
walk right 'long straight widout a fuss.”


“Untie them, then, you—”

“Now, Mas'r, dat ain't mannerly no how. Spec's
I'd better tote ye,” said Tip, in a tone of grave re-
buke; and he was again about to raise the helpless
form of his late master in his arms, when he, keen-
ly alive to the ridicule of appearing before his ene-
mies in such a position, hastened to make the re-
quired promise in more civil terms. Tippoo, signi-
fying his satisfaction at the concession, proceeded
immediately to loosen the bonds of his captive suf-
ficiently to allow him to walk with some degree of
ease, but not to run or to use his arms at all. Then
inserting his brawny hand in the loose turn of the
rope about the Captain's neck, he called his atten-
tion to the fact that a slight movement would be
sufficient to tighten it to a very unpleasant extent,
and that such movement would be the result of any
attempt of escape or resistance on his part.


This intimation the Captain received in sullen
silence, but showed his appreciation of its intent
by following, or rather preceding, his captor (who
guided him by the rope about his neck much as he
would have done a refractory steer) to the neigh-
borhood of the earth-works dignified by the name
of fort, where they encountered a sentinel, to whom
Tip briefly told his story, and was ordered to pro-
ceed to head-quarters, where he was relieved of his
charge, amidst the wonder and merriment of a good-
ly crowd of spectators.


Tip, on leaving the boat, had taken the precau-
tion of shoving it off shore, to prevent the escape of
Lieutenant Fosdick, and that officer was captured
in the course of the next day, and soon after ac-
companied Captain Bennett and numerous other of
his countrymen on a voyage Northward, and a pro-
longed residence in one of Uncle Samuel's Marine
Villas.


Tippoo Saib also traveled North, although not
as a prisoner. For the first time in a life of forty
years, and with a bewildering joy that no man who
has never been a slave may appreciate, he now
found himself free to move in whatever direction or
to whatever distance he might find most to his own
advantage, and his first impulse was to breathe the
air of a free State.


For something more than a year he supported
himself in Massachusetts by such labor as he could
find to do; but as soon as the enlistment of colored
troops was permitted by Government, Tippoo hasten-
ed to enroll himself among the first of the sable vol-
unteers; nor among the hundreds of thousands of
brave men who have fought beneath the Federal
banners in this great war, has one soldier, black or
white, given himself to the contest more ardently,
more purely, more entirely than this poor untaught
African.


His uniform courage and good conduct slowly
won him such advancement as is at present possi-
ble to a man of his color, and on the tenth day of
July, 1863, he followed his captain to the assault
of Fort Wagner with the stripes of a sergeant upon
his arm.


We all know who led that assault. A nation
mourns, a nation glories, over the hero who there
won himself a name that shall not be forgotten
while his country holds a memory, a tongue, a pen;
who, yet in brilliant youth, closed a career all glo-
rious promise by its most glorious fulfillment; who
lies where he fell, “buried with his niggers,” more
proudly, more honored than a prince or conqueror
beneath an abbey's marble dome.


But no nation mourns, no poet sings, no histo-
ry, save this rude tale, will chronicle the closing
scene of another life as brave, as devoted, as earn-
est, as beautiful to those who have eyes to read the
hearts of men as that of his hero-leader.


Foremost in that wild charge, dauntless in the
front of that dauntless band, rushed Tippoo Saib
upon the enemy, and fighting as he fights who feels
that freedom or slavery for him and his hangs upon
the contest. He had with as many blows sent
three of his opponents to their doom, when he
caught the gleam of a sabre descending with despe-
rate force upon the head of the Colonel, who stood
beside him cheering on his men.


Quick as light Tippoo's bayonet was interposed
and caught the blow, delivered with such force as
to shiver the blade close to the hilt. Changing the
direction of the bayonet, Tip was about to plunge it
into the breast of the disarmed officer, when, glanc-
ing up, he recognized with astonishment Captain
Fernald, his former master.


It was but an instant that he hesitated, but who
shall limit thought by time? In that instant the
man remembered the wife of his youth, torn from
his arms, sold to a slavery so barbarous that she
had soon died under its severity: he remembered
his merry boy, his one child, whom he had loved
with all his loving heart, and of whose life or death
not one echo had reached him in all these years; he
remembered his own enslaved youth and manhood,
and the bitter passions of his strong nature rose
within him, and tightened with savage vigor the
hand that still held uplifted the gleaming bayonet.


But before the blow fell, before the benumbed
arm of Captain Fernald could be upraised in defense
of the life that in one anguished pang resigned it-
self as lost, another memory shot athwart the venge-
ance of Tippoo's mood.


It was the vision of a little maid, all aglow with
loving energy, with golden curls flowing back as
she ran, with white arms uplifted to his embrace,
with rosy lips that asked no better than to press
themselves upon his swarthy cheek.


The vison flashed and passed, but it had wrought
its work. Dropping his arm with its deadly weap-
on, Tippoo hoarsely cried,


“Go 'long, Mas'r, I won't kill lilly Missy's fader,”
With a wild shout he was bounding forward to seek
another antagonist, when the white man with an
oath drew the revolver from his belt, and with de-
liberate aim discharged its contents full into the
generous heart that had so faithfully garnered and
so well repaid the one love that had illumined his
gloomy life.


The fierce battle-cry ended in a wild shriek upon
the negro's lips, and he fell forward upon his face
dead, just as, a few paces from him, the noble life
he had shielded a moment since was smitten down
by the blow that gave a hero to deathless glory.


Tippoo Saib was one of the honored band that
the fierce victors upon that bloody field laid down
to their eternal rest in the same grave with their
young champion, thinking thus to do dishonor to
his remains, but in reality surrounding him with a
guard of honor that, when the last trumpet shall
sound revéillé, shall arise with him; the corruptible
body exchanged for the incorruptible, the faithful
and noble spirit giving form and color to its new
tabernacle.


And in this glorious hope rest peacefully and well,
brave Tippoo Saib, satisfied that if thy life was
lowly and thy death unsung, not less hath the
Eternal Judge knowledge of thy temptations and
thy triumph, thy loving heart and earnest soul!



Website design © 2000-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com