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STORY OF QUADRUNA — THE LAWS OF
I MUST now return, as I said I would, to the Professor of the gleaming eyes, and the beautiful quadroon whose cruel treatment arouses such indignation in his mind.
We will put the case a little more strongly. To all, except those who are learned in these matters, there is little in her appearance to distinguish her from a European girl. There is a delicate olive tint in her complexion, which is certainly not unbecoming, and which does not, to our apprehensions, necessarily imply any African blood ; in fact, we should not suspect it unless we were told; and she is one of the loveliest and most graceful creatures we ever saw. Now, let us go and look for her. We will suppose ourselves dropped out of a balloon. We do not know where we are, except that we
are somewhere on the North American conti
The object of our search is before us, and in a plight which may well make our eyes gleam. She has been stripped down to below her waist, and in that state, with her dress hanging from her loins, is
writhing beneath the lash ;” and well may she writhe, for it is descending again and again upon her exposed and defenceless body with merciless vigour, and with terrible effect. Our eyes gleam at the sight, naturally enough; and calling on the bystanders, several of whom are lounging and spitting about, to assist us, we rush in, catch hold of the whip, wrench it from the torturer's hands, and proceed to unbind those of the sufferer. To our surprise, however, the bystanders do not view the matter as we do. They interfere, indeed, but it is not to assist us, but to prevent our interfering.
“Clear out of that, you old scaly cuss. The critter's only had twenty lashes, and she has got to get nineteen more.”
So it is a legal sentence, is it? What can the crime be? We know the feeling that was excited in England when a Hungarian lady was treated in this fashion on a charge, true or false, of poisoning some Austrian soldiers and the sort of estimation in which Marshal Haynau, who is said by some who profess to know to have had nothing to do with it, and to have been many miles away at the time, is generally held on account of it. Surely her crime must have been something fearful, when such a punishment excites so little emotion. We inquire of the person nearest us, trembling to hear the
Wal, I guess one of our citizens fell in love with her and asked her to marry him, and she said she would. That's what she's done, the limb!”
We stood aghast at the explanation, and at the tone in which it is given. Turning to another of the bystanders, and suppressing, from prudential motives, both the fierce gleams of our eyes and the expressions which naturally arise to our lips, we ask as gently as we can, “Is it possible that she can be a slave? And is it a crime in a slave to love a man if he is white ?"
“I don't know rightly whether she is a slave or not,” says the person to whom our question is addressed. “Anyway, she is a woman of colour. Mayhap you don't think she looks very like it. But she has got nigger blood in her somehow.”
“And by what right can a free woman, if she is free, be treated with such cru— severity ?”
Wal, it's by the law of Illinois." Illinois! We can hardly believe our ears. Illinois ! Can these things be done in the great West? Is it possible that we can be in the State to which belongs President Lincoln, the glorious emancipator of the negro, and who has been, in consequence, addressed by Garibaldi in language which, if addressed to anybody of less transcendent goodness and greatness than we have always believed to belong to “honest Abe," would rightly be considered blasphemous. We turn away in horror and disgust. It is too dreadful to witness poor Quadruna's sufferings, and hear her screams of agony, without being able to do anything to rescue her; and, besides, the information we have received is too much for our equanimity. We hurry away from the place as fast as we can, trying to escape from the sound of the shrieks. But they ring in our ears all night.
Next day, as we are walking out, we meet our friend of the previous day. It may be imagined that we have no particular desire to cultivate his acquaintance; and he, on his part, seems somewhat shy of us. However, we are impelled by a desire, which is not to be controlled, to know more of Quadruna's fate. Our friend's disinclination to enter into conversation is quelled by an offer on part to treat him to liquor, and we adjourn to the bar of a hotel. After he has ordered and drunk two or three archangel's eyebrows, we venture to make
an inquiry on the subject of our curiosity in as offhand a way as we can.
“ That gal! Wal, I reckon she's in the penitentiary. You seem to be a stranger, and don't know our laws. That's one of them. A flogging, and imprisonment for a year; and there's a fine, too; only, I guess they won't get much of that.”
“I think they took out the fine in whipcord,” say we, trying to be cheerful, and look as if we saw the fun. But does your law oblige you to flog quite as severely as that?”
No; it don't always. But you see, the judge who sentenced her was the father of the youngster who wanted to marry her; and he was powerful angry at the thought of a nigger for a daughter-inlaw. Besides, I don't mind telling on you; I'm a kinder friend of the family, and I know the judge wanted his son to marry another gal. Natrally he was riled at this nigger coming in the way. I believe he'd have liked to cut her nose off, and spoil her looks. But there was no law for that; and all he could do was to order her as many lashes as he could, and to take care that she should get them. They tell me he gave the fellow a dollar to lay it on pretty smart."
We cannot help saying that it is a pity her lover did not carry her off and marry her, so that she