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a teen from Tacoma,

Diary: Year of 1789

Part 2

March 28, 1789
Freniere Plantation, New Orleans

The slave I referred to (who was beaten at the beginning of the month) is named Ashon. We finally found out what was the matter with that poor man. I begged Linette for information and reluctantly, she told me. She is a house slave who speaks fluent French, as well as the language of her people. She was a little afraid to tell me immediately, because she was fearful I might have her beaten like Ashon. When I assured her I would do no such thing -- it is abhorrent to me -- she told me everything she knew.

"He is miserable," she began simply. "It is because of his wife, Alile. She was left in Santo Domingo when he was shipped to New Orleans. He was sold once, but when he refused to work without his love by his side, they beat him. The other owner didn't speak our language and didn't bother to find someone who did. Instead of calmly trying to settle the matter, or find what was troubling him, they just beat him. And beat him, and beat him, until they gave up. Then they sold him to your father. I fear he has given up now as well. I feel so sorry for him. I have my husband here, with me, and I can see him every night. It would be so painful to be away from him for even a little while." Linette finished speaking and watched me, still a little distrustful of what I might do or say, as if I was angry with her because what she said puts all slave owners in such a bad light.

I was shocked to hear of Ashon's plight. I told Linette I would think about what she had told me, and sent her back to her work. And I promised her again I would not have her beaten for telling the truth. She was greatly relieved. I have always liked Linette and trusted her to tell the truth. I see no reason not to believe her now.

What she had said made me feel so strongly for Ashon that I wanted to help somehow. I put myself in Ashon's wife's place. How would I feel if my husband had been taken from me? It was a horrible thought -- to be separated from my sweet Louis.

I ran out to find Louis and hugged him to me. "What? What is it, my little dove?" he asked, playfully, yet surprised at my intrusion into his office. I told him of Ashon's situation. We had no way to help, except to find Alile. "But we have no money to buy another slave!" he said. "We are buying everything now on credit. Look here, at our ledgers. When our cotton is sold in the fall, we can buy her and restore their family -- only if we have paid our bills and taken good care of the slaves we do have." He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders in a helpless way. "I'm so sorry, my dear, to see you so vexed."

Unlike Paul, the overseer, Louis, my Father, and I all treat our slaves humanely. If we must have slaves, we will deal with them in a kindly fashion. I am truly beginning to hate the very idea of slavery. Louis and I decided Paul may be part of the problem. After all, he talked Louis into beating Ashon, something Louis has never done before. Paul is too cruel. Louis said, "I will fire Paul immediately. I think my newly arrived cousin Elliot will make a fine overseer." I agreed. We do not want another situation like Ashon's to happen. Elliot moved here from living in England, where he studied at a college in Oxford. He speaks English, Spanish, and several native languages, besides French. He is a Frenchman, and more soft-hearted towards the slaves and unfortunates of our world. I think we have made a good choice. Only time will tell.

April 22, 1789
Freniere Plantation, New Orleans

Today is our sixth wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe that it's been six years since our marriage. I think our love is still as strong as ever. We're dining at Chez Francois, and then we're going to the old Italian comedy with the young lovers -- my two favorites -- Lelio and Isabella -- and the funny old doctor with all the old tricks. I love Commedia dell'Arte! It amuses me so!

I've just given Louis his gift. I bought him a new silk waistcoat from Paris, and he's going to wear it to dinner this evening. He looks so handsome in it. He gave me a new dress from Paris, in the newest shade of shimmery green, a pair of emerald earrings, and a silver ring with an immense emerald in the middle. The emerald is my birthstone and favorite gem. It looks very shiny and elegant on my hand. O! I love him so very much!

© 1998 by Cayuse Press