A short account of
how I came to know
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During the years when slavery was legal in the United States, a gentleman happened upon a slave-bidding in a crowed street. The man paused to observe the activities. As he watched from the edge of the crowd, he saw one slave after another led to a platform, their arms and legs shackled with ropes as if they were animals. Displayed before the jeering crowd, they were auctioned off, one by one. Some onlookers would inspect the "merchandise", grabbing disrespectfully at the women, examining the muscular arms of the men. The gentleman studied the group of slaves waiting nearby. He paused when he saw a young girl standing at the back. Her eyes were filled with fear. She looked so frightened. He hesitated for a moment and then disappeared briefly. When he returned, the auctioneer was about to start the bidding for the young girl he had noticed beforehand.
As the auctioneer opened the bidding, the gentleman shouted out a bid that was twice the amount of any other selling price offered that day. There was silence for an instance, and then the gavel fell as, "sold to the gentleman" was heard. The gentleman stepped forward, making his way through the crowd. He waited at the bottom of the steps as the young girl was led down to her new owner.
The rope which bound her was handed to the man, who accepted it without saying nothing. The young girl stared at the ground. Suddenly she looked up and spit in his face. Silently, he reached for a handkerchief and wiped the spittle from his face. He smiled gently at the young girl and said, "follow me". She followed him reluctantly. As they reached the edge of the crowd, he continued to a nearby area where each deal was closed legally.
When a slave was set free, legal documents, called manumission papers, were necessary. The gentleman paid the purchase price and signed the necessary documents. When the transaction was complete, he turned to the young girl and presented the documents to her. Startled, she looked at him with uncertainty. Her narrowed eyes asked, what are you doing? The gentlemen responded to her questioning look. He said, "Here, take these papers. I bought you to make you free. As long as you have these papers in your possession, no man can ever make you a slave again.
The girl looked into his face. What was happening? There was silence. Slowly, she said, "You bought me, to make me free?" "You bought me, to make me free?" As she repeated this phrase over and over, the significance of what had just happened became more and more real to her. "You bought me, to make me free?" Was it possible that a stranger had just granted her freedom and never again could she be held in bondage and servitude to any man? As she began to grasp the significance of the documents which she now held in her hand, she fell to her knees and wept at the gentleman's feet. Through her tears of joy and gratitude, she said, "You bought me, to make me free....I'll serve you forever!"
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