MY BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD. 15
in search of food. But at length the strict watch
set baffled all his efforts. His supplies cut off, he
was fairly starved out, and compelled by hunger to
come back and give himself up.
The day for the execution of the penalty was
appointed. The negroes from the neighbouring
plantations were summoned to witness the scene.
A powerful blacksmith named Hewes laid on the
stripes. Fifty were given, during which the cries
of my father might be heard a mile, and. then a
pause ensued. True, he had struck a white man,
but as valuable property he must not be damaged.
Judicious men felt his pulse. Oh! he could stand
the whole. Again and again the thong fell on his
lacerated back. His cries grew fainter and fainter,
till a feeble groan was the only response to the final
blows. His head was then thrust against the post,
and his right ear fastened to it with a tack; a swift
pass of a knife, and the bleeding member was left
sticking to the place. Then came a hurra from the
degraded crowd, and the exclamation, " That's what
he's got for striking a white man."
In the estimation of the illiterate, besotted poor
whites who constituted the witnesses of such scenes
in Charles county, Maryland, the man who did not
feel rage enough at hearing of " a nigger " striking
a white, to be ready to burn him alive, was only fit
to be lynched out of the neighbourhood.
Previous to this affair, my father, from all I can
learn, had been a good-humoured and light-hearted
man, the ringleader in all fun at corn-huskings and
Christmas buffoonery. His banjo was the life of the