Frederick Visits Frogmoss Plantation

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Frederick was back in America and at present, he was in Savannah. Although tired from his journey, he was anxious to go to Frogmoss Plantation to see Rebecca. He didn’t quite know what to expect when he arrived there. Things seemed to be running as normal. He was shown into the drawing-room and told that the new Master would soon be there.

He sat down and waited. It was good to be back in America but he wished it were under much different circumstances. How was poor Rebecca faring? And what about her mother? Had she been charged with the two murders as yet? Who was running the plantation?

Footsteps arrested his attention and he stood up as the door opened and a tall, slender man whom he had never met before walked in. “Hello,” he greeted him.

Frederick walked over to him and held out his hand. “Hello. My name is Frederick Livingston. I’m a friend of Rebecca’s. I heard what has happened and am here to offer my support.”

The man shook his hand before inviting him to take a seat. When they were both seated, he said to Frederick, “I’m Vernon Johnson, the late Mr. Johnson’s cousin. You’re the only friend of Rebecca’s who has shown your face here.”

“How is she?”

“She’s holding up as best as can be expected under such circumstances.”

“What about Mrs. Johnson?”

“For killing her husband, she could be gibbeted.”


“Yes, if a woman kills her husband, hanging isn’t good enough for her.”

“That is much more severe punishment than a man would receive for killing his wife.”

“Yes, a woman killing her husband is the same as a slave killing his master. Both crimes are punishable by death.”

“So, is there going to be a trial?”

“There’s no need for a trial. She is guilty of murder and will be sentenced.”

“What about Cissy, the slave girl who was killed?”

“If she had been the only one shot, Mrs. Johnson wouldn’t be guilty. Mr. Johnson would still be running this plantation and she would still be the Mistress. Life would go on as before but since she killed her husband, the law requires that she pays for that crime with her own life.”

Although Mrs. Johnson was guilty of committing two murders, it seemed unfair that she would face the death penalty only because she killed her husband. The life of Cissy didn’t seem to matter because she was only a slave. In the South, Slaves were property not persons. He felt sorry for Mrs. Johnson but he felt sorry for Cissy who was innocent in the whole sordid mess. “What will become of Rebecca when…?” he couldn’t even complete the question.

“I’ll take her to Providence, Rhode Island. I will marry her as soon as we’re settled there.”

Frederick stared at him. “You and Rebecca are going to marry?”

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“Yes. I’ve always wanted to marry her but her mother didn’t approve. She objected because I’m in my late thirties and because of you. She told me that she and Rufus had plans for you and Rebecca to marry.”

“Yes, they did and so did my parents but I’ve never gone along with that plan. I care for Rebecca but I’m not in love with her.”

“I happen to be in love with her. I fell in love with her when she turned seventeen but she never looked upon me as more than a dear cousin. As soon as I heard what happened, I came here straightaway to be with Rebecca and to see what I could do to get things under control.”

“What will happen to the plantation?”

“Mr. Johnson’s younger brother, Neal will become the new owner. He was here for the funeral but had to return to Montgomery to put his affairs in order. He will be returning to Savannah next month. As soon as he arrives, Rebecca and I will leave for Providence.”

“May I see Rebecca?”

“I’m afraid she’s indisposed.” Mr. Johnson stood up. “I’ll let her know that you dropped by.”

Frederick rose to his feet too. “Thank you.”

They shook hands and then, Mr. Johnson called one of the servants to show Frederick out.

Sources: Longreads; Digital Panopticon

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