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Stevens had bought Jack of a man named Jem Mallet, who lived about two miles from my master's. Of course he was obliged to leave his wife behind, and Stevens forbade his going to see her. However, Jack used to manage to creep out of a night and visit her, always taking care to be back betimes. Stevens at last got a suspicion of the truth, from seeing Jack's track across the field, and soon found him out. Next day he got all the people together, and had Jack stripped and tied up to a rough red oak tree, his hands being made fast round the tree, so that he embraced it. Stevens then took a branding-iron, marked T. S., which he heated red hot at the kitchen fire, and applied to the fleshy part of Jack's loins. The poor fellow screamed awfully, and began to move round the tree. Stevens was afraid this would Page 63cause him to make what is called a miss-letter, so he followed Jack round the tree till the iron was quite buried in the flesh. Jack tore round the rough tree, the smoke from his burning flesh rising high and white above the top; he all the time screaming, and master swearing. At last the branding was done, and Jack was loosed, when we saw that in going round the tree, he had torn all the flesh from his chest, which was bleeding dreadfully. But he was obliged to go to his work directly, for all that, and I remember he anointed the wound the brand had made with soap. He was afterwards compelled to take a young woman named Hannah, as a wife, and to abandon his former one. By Hannah he had a good many children, but after he had been with her about eight years, he was sold away from her and their children, to one Robert Ware, of De Cator Town, in De Calb County, Georgia, about ten miles from Stevens' place.
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Another time John James, another of Jep's sons, and a married man, sought the wife of a slave named Abram. In order to gain access more easily to the man's cabin, he set a tree on fire, and then sent Abram to watch the fence, lest it should catch and burn down. Abram suspected John James' design upon his wife, and that this was a mere pretext to get rid of him for a while. His cabin was a full mile from the spot he had to watch, but he felt so uneasy about home, that instead of stopping at the fire, he ran to and from the fence to his hut. The consequence was that the fence--which was of solid wood--took fire, and burnt for the distance of three quarters of a mile. I mention this circumstance, Page 134because it happened on a certain Saturday night, when I had made preparations to run off on the Sunday, and I was compelled instead, to set to splitting timber to make the fence good. By "preparations," I mean that I had been looking out for chances, and made up a plan in my mind for taking a fresh start.
But he had no time to waste on a nervous collapse. He found some teain the pack, and hastily stirring up the embers of the breakfast fire,he made the coffee pot full of a brew as strong as he could [Pg 169]drink.There was also part of a small sack of flour, and he quickly mixed apaste of flour and water and spread it over the deep, blistered burnon his abdomen. Then, with a can of baked beans in one hand and thecoffee pot of tea in the other, he started down the canyon.
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