Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

Mindanao and Jolo, of the juramentado question in Mindanao, reveals the rather astonishing fact that during the past twenty-five years only six cases of juramentados have been known; and in five of these cases it was proved that personal vengeance was the motive for running amok. Jolo, moreover, which has been called the home of the juramentados, has not developed a single case since the American occupation. These facts alone are sufficient, I think, to show that this Malay custom has been greatly exaggerated, that it is by no means a common occurrence, and that it is not due to religious fanaticism.

The Moro, among other things, looks upon slavery as a necessary institution, and he considers polygamy no sin. The slavery of the Sulu Archipelago is the same as that found in some parts of Luzon and in Mindanao. It is not at all a shocking system; there are no whips, no taskmasters or bloodhounds, not a suggestion of "Uncle Tom's Cabin;" the basis seems to be more that of a retainer than a bond-slave. In Sulu a man may be enslaved for indebtedness which he cannot pay, by capture in war or piracy, or he may be born a slave. Although slaves are looked upon as part of a man's riches, since the Dutch, under pressure, put a stop to the traffic in their possessions, they are no longer considered as merchandise, and in these days, I am assured, a slave is almost never bought or sold. The Moro slave lives in the same house, eats at the same sitting, and is clothed in the same way as his master. The great difference between the old American slavery and that of Sulu is that here it is no degradation—the slave seems to be socially the equal of his masterand he is treated in such a manner that it is impossible to distinguish him from his master. He appears to work only when it pleases him, and though he has the right to purchase his freedom, he seldom does so. When taken prisoner by at rich datu, whose store of provisions is ample, he has not infrequently been known to refuse his liberty; and he often deserts one master for another. While a guest of the hospitable brothers Schückwho, by the way, are the only white settlers of the whole Sulu group-I found an interesting state of affairs bearing some

what on this question. The father of th present Schück family at his death le some thirty or forty Moro slaves. Afte the American occupation these slave were given their liberty. Not one of the left; they are still working on the estat though now for wages, and a flourishin Liberian-coffee plantation is the resul But this is merely a side-light. Wh I wish to make plain is that slavery i Sulu is not the dreadful thing that som people believe; for the most part, it is more than a datu or wealthy man beir responsible for a number of the low class the rich taking care of the poc This being the case, there is no need any one going into hysterics over t matter, or any need of the United Stat abolishing slavery at the moment. would undoubtedly be a grave mistake attack the system by law at this tim when everything is being done to bui up a firm basis of confidence and frien ship with the Moros. The evil may discouraged in many ways without actu legislation; and, with islands so small area as the Sulus, such discourageme together with the influences of trade a the contact with peoples of a higher d gree of civilization, all of which are no being felt in the little archipelago for t first time, will gradually and without fri tion put it down for all time.

As regards polygamy in Sulu, althoug the Moros are permitted by their religio to take as many as four wives, they not commonly take more than one, pri cipally for the reason that very few them can afford it. As a rule, polygan is confined to the Sultan, the datus, ar other head men. As an exception, ho ever, I may say that I made the acquair ance of a Moro farmer who had thr wives and fifty-three children; and a ve nice little village they made. While n exactly a part of the Mohammedan reli ion, the Koran distinctly allows a plurali of wives, and any direct interference wi the institution would doubtless be taken an attack upon the faith, and probab lead to a holy war. Both the British ar the Dutch, in their government of two three millions of Mohammedan subject have wisely ignored polygamy; and t United States in its handling of the Mor cannot, I think, do better than follow the successful colonizers' example.

[graphic][merged small]

In coming from Luzon, where the undercurrent of popular feeling had been so uneasy and so decidedly contra-American, the contentedness of the Moros, their lack of outcry for or expectation of independence, was to me especially noticeable. The Moros do not in the least know what civil government means, and they are too little developed to have it applied. Military power will be needed to control

this race for a generation to come at least; and, with the possible exception of appointing a few civil servants, which can be done by the military authorities, civil government would be not only a mistake but an absurdity. The same thing applies equally to the whole department of Mindanao and Jolo, in which perhaps ninetenths of the entire population are Moros and pagans.


The Sway-Backed House

By Charles W. Chesnutt

Author of "The Wife of His Youth," "The Conjure Woman," etc.

HETHER or not Uncle Solomon Grundy, like his famous namesake of the nursery rhyme, was born on Monday, I have no means of knowing; nor am I informed as to the days of the week on which the other principal events of his life took place. I do know, however, that he was a tall, shapely, and very dark man, with a straight nose, thin lips, and blue eyes. From his color and the quality of his hair one would have been inclined to regard him as a fullblooded negro; but his features, his blue eyes-a remarkable anomaly--and the fact that he was free-born, made it seem probable that he might have a distant strain of white blood, which, by reversion, had come to the surface through the overlying dark strata. He had been known to say that he was the descendant of an African king--these sable royalties may yet become as numerous, for purposes of pedigree, among dark Americans of the future as the ancient kings of Ireland. Whether for this or some other reason, he manifested a very distinct scorn for ordinary blacks. Perhaps this sentiment had something to do with his marriage, when about thirty years old, to a light-brown woman with a daughter much fairer of complexion than herself.

This little yellow girl became the apple of the old man's eyes. His wife bore him no children, and Solomon, who was of a very affectionate disposition, lavished upon Julia all the love which he might have distributed among a large family. He lived, with his wife and the child, in a small North Carolina town, where, being a free man and a skilled bricklayer and plasterer, he enjoyed a good income, for a man of simple tastes and humble station, and was able to provide comfortably for his wife and adopted daughter. The girl grew to womanhood and married a free colored man of the town, whereupon she left her mother's house and went to live with her husband.

Julia's marriage was as prolific as most unions of the poor, whose families are likely to increase in inverse ratio to their

ability to support them. Some years later she died, leaving, among half a dozen children, a little daughter who resembled Julia very much. Solomon's wife, the grandmother, took the child to bring up. The father soon married again, and the girl was not missed from the crowded household, where her absence was a relief rather than a loss.

The little Isabella took the place, in the mind of Solomon and his wife, of the lost daughter Julia. She was dressed better than most colored children of the town, was sent to school regularly-she grew up just after the war-and showed herself appreciative and grateful for her opportu nities. When she neared womanhood her grandmother died, and Isabella, who continued to live with the old man, became known as sole heiress of the sway backed house, which, with the land about it, constituted the bulk of Uncle Solomon's estate. This was no mere surmise, but had for its foundation the old man's personal statement.

"Yas, suh," he would say, "Isabella is de only one I keer fer, an' she's gwine ter be my heir. Ef she'll stay here an' keep house fer me while she's single, er live here wid her husban' when she marries,] she shall have all I got."

"You haven't any relatives of your own, Uncle Solomon, have you?" asked a neighbor, one day.

"No," he answered, somewhat shortly. "I had a sister once, but she married a low-down, good-fer-nothin' black nigger, an' I ain't seen her ner heared from her fer twenty years. She may be dead fer all I know er keer."

The old man's house stood on a corner. on the bank of a creek. It was a frame house, large for the neighborhood, and two stories in height. Owing to some miscalculation of strains or misplaced economy of material, the middle of the roof had sagged considerably below the ends, thus giving the house a decidedly sway-backed appearance. When Uncle Solomon bought the house and lot, he plastered all the rooms and had the roof

reshingled, but the principal defect could not, in his opinion, be remedied without an entire reconstruction of the house, which he did not feel able to afford. Viewed from the end, the bend in the roof was not noticeable; and one gets accustomed to anything, so that the irregularity of outline did not detract a great deal, in the public eye, from the value or desirability of Isabella's inheritance. The house was much larger than the shabby one-story tenements in the neighborhood, and there was nothing at all the matter with the acre of land to which it appertained.

A pretty yellow girl could not grow up in Patesville without several suitors, and Isabella was no exception to the rule. The aspirants to her favor, however, had to pass the inspection, not only of Isabella's somewhat critical taste, but of the old man's more robust prejudices. Some were too old for Isabella, and some too young. Some were too dark to make a good match, and some too trifling to suit the old man. For a while the balance hung trembling between Professor Revels, of the grammar school, and Tom Turner, the blacksmith, who lived just a short distance from Uncle Solomon's. Isabella had, at first, a sneaking fondness for the blacksmith, a sturdy, brown young man, whose bare arms, shining in the light of his forge, revealed the knotted muscles of a Hercules. He was a good-natured fellow, too, and very fond of Isabella, though somewhat slow of speech and diffident in manner. Professor Revels, however, proved a powerful rival to Turner. He was not only by nature a shade lighter than the blacksmith, but, by the free use of soap and water, and certain cosmetics recommended for the purpose, looked at least a shade lighter than he really was; while the blacksmith, by reason of his trade, seemed darker than he ought. These integumentary details seemed really of more importance to the old man than to Isabella, who was more strongly impressed by the difference in the clothes of her two admirers. The Professor--he did not use the title himself, but his friends thrust it upon him-wore, every day in the week, clean, well-fitting garments, high collars and bright neckties, which contrasted strikingly with the sooty garb and open shirt-front of the young black

smith, who, donning his good clothes more seldom, did not, for want of practice, wear them with the ease and grace of the Professor. To the advantages already stated, Revels added what seemed to the old man the most powerful argument in his favor-a very remarkable thrift. He owned already two small houses, and, having commended himself to the town authorities by abstention from politics and deference to the white people, seemed likely to hold his position indefinitely. Uncle Solomon admired the teacher's exceptional prosperity. The Professor shared the general knowledge of Isabella's expectations, and was willing to add the sway-backed house to his growing possessions. It was worth, with the land attached, at least eight hundred dollars, and possibly nine. Revels, it must be said in all fairness, was by no means indifferent to Isabella's personal attractions, though it is likely that he would have looked further before committing himself had it not been for the expected inheritance. The result of this balancing of personal and social advantages was the engagement of Isabella and Professor Revels, early in the spring of 187-. The marriage was set for a date late in June, at the end of the school year, and the couple were to take a trip to Washington on a half-rate summer excursion ticket for their wedding journey. The Professor's brother, who held a clerkship in one of the Government departments, would entertain them gratis, thus reducing materially the expenses of the visit.

Toward the latter part of May Uncle Solomon was taken ill with a severe attack of acute rheumatism, a disease to which he had long been subject in a milder form. Isabella attended him faithfully, and was very much shocked and pained when the doctor told her one day that he feared the rheumatism might reach the old man's heart, in which event the illness would in all probability have a fatal termination ; for Isabella was really fond of her grandpap, as she affectionately called him, and would have been quite content to wait indefinitely for her inheritance.

She was somewhat surprised one day when a very dark young man, of good manners and neatly though poorly dressed, called at the house and announced himself as the old man's nephew. The visitor

« AnteriorContinuar »