Minnies Sacrifice

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Minnie's Sacrifice

Project Gutenberg's Minnie's Sacrifice, by Frances Ellen Watkins
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Title: Minnie's Sacrifice
Author: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Release Date: February 12, 2004 [EBook #11053]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Andrea Ball and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team.

Transcriber's Note: This document is the text of Minnie's Sacrifice.
Any bracketed notations such as [Text missing], [?], and those inserting
letters or other comments are from the original text.
Transcriber's Note About the Author: Francis Ellen Watkins Harper
(1825-1911) was born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland.
Orphaned at three, she was raised by her uncle, a teacher and radical
advocate for civil rights. She attended the Academy for Negro Youth
and was educated as a teacher. She became a professional lecturer,
activist, suffragette, poet, essayist, novelist, and the author of the first
published short story written by an African-American. Her work

spanned more than sixty years.

A Rediscovered Novel by
Frances E.W. Harper
Edited By Frances Smith Foster

Chapter I
Miriam sat in her lowly cabin, painfully rocking her body to and fro;
for a great sorrow had fallen upon her life. She had been the mother of
three children, two had died in their infancy, and now her last, her
loved and only child was gone, but not like the rest, who had passed
away almost as soon as their little feet had touched the threshold of
existence. She had been entangled in the mazes of sin and sorrow; and
her sun had gone down in darkness. It was the old story. Agnes, fair,
young and beautiful, had been a slave, with no power to protect herself
from the highest insults that brutality could offer to innocence. Bound
hand and foot by that system, which has since gone down in wrath, and
blood, and tears, she had fallen a victim to the wiles and power of her
master; and the result was the introduction of a child of shame into a
world of sin and suffering; for herself an early grave; and for her
mother a desolate and breaking heart.
While Miriam was sitting down hopelessly beneath the shadow of her
mighty grief, gazing ever and anon on the pale dead face, which
seemed to bear in its sad but gentle expression, an appeal from earth to
heaven, some of the slaves would hurry in, and looking upon the fair
young face, would drop a word of pity for the weeping mother, and
then hurry on to their appointed tasks. All day long Miriam sat alone
with her dead, except when these kindly interruptions broke upon the
monotony of her sorrow.
In the afternoon, Camilla, the only daughter of her master, entered her
cabin, and throwing her arms around her neck exclaimed, "Oh!
Mammy, I am so sorry I didn't know Agnes was dead. I've been on a

visit to Mr. Le Grange's plantation, and I've just got back this afternoon,
and as soon as I heard that Agnes was dead I hurried to see you. I
would not even wait for my dinner. Oh! how sweet she looks," said
Camilla, bending over the corpse, "just as natural as life. When did she
"This morning, my poor, dear darling!" And another burst of anguish
relieved the overcharged heart.
"Oh! Mammy, don't cry, I am so sorry; but what is this?" said she, as
the little bundle of flannel began to stir.
"That is poor Agnes' baby."
"Agnes' baby? Why, I didn't know that Agnes had a baby. Do let me
see it?"
Tenderly the grandmother unfolded the wrappings, and presented the
little stranger. He was a beautiful babe, whose golden hair, bright blue
eyes and fair complexion showed no trace of the outcast blood in his
"Oh, how beautiful!" said Camilla; "surely this can't be Agnes' baby.
He is just as white as I am, and his eyes--what a beautiful blue--and his
hair, why it is really lovely."
"He is very pretty, Miss, but after all he is only a slave."
A slave. She had heard that word before; but somehow, when applied
to that fair child, it grated harshly on her ear; and she said, "Well, I
think it is a shame for him to be a slave, when he is just as white as
anybody. Now, Mammy," said she, throwing off her hat, and looking
soberly into the fire, "if I had my way, he should never be a slave."
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