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36. the contraband's return.

Don't you know me, Massa William?
     Don't you know me, Missus dear?
Don't you know old Aunt Rebecca,
     Who went away from you last year,
With Peter, Phil, and Little Judy,
     To join the wicked Yankee crew?
But I've come back, my dear old Missus,
     To live and die with you.

I never knew the old plantation
     Was half so dear a place to me.
As when among that Yankee nation
     The robbers told me I was free;
And when I looked around for freedom,
     (We thought it something bright and fair,)
Hunger, misery, and starvation,
     Was all that met us there.

How often, when we used to shiver,
     All through the long cold winter night,
I used to study ‘bout my cabin,
     The hearth all red with pinewood light!
I saw they would not make us happy,
     And yet they would not let us go--
Ah! 'twas hatred of our white folks,
     Not love for us, I know.

“And Peter?” Ah! old Massa Peter
     Has gone from this cold earth away--
He was too old to be a soldier,
     They worked him hard both night and day: [27]
He was not used to so much labor,
     And soon the poor old man broke down,
He fund, alas! their boasted freedom
     A cross and not a crown.

They made my poor boy, Phil, a soldier,
     And took him from me far away;
He stood through many a bloody battle,
     Was wounded often, many a day;
He did not wish to be a soldier,
     He only wanted to be free--
They only loaded him with irons,
     Or lashed him to a tree.

Before him once, in line of battle,
     He saw our fine young master Jim,
Then dropped poor Phil his Yankee musket,
     He could not, would not, fire on him;
For they had played, been raised together,
     Young master Jim had cried for Phil--
The Yankees gave the onward order,
     But my poor boy stood still.

And then his more than cruel masters,
     White men, with hearts and deeds all black,
Struck him down with gun and sabre,
     And left him dying on their track.
O missus! my old heart is broken,
     My lot all grief and pain has been;
For little Judy, too, is ruined,
     In their dark camps of sin.

O Massa William! see me kneeling,
     O Missus! say one word for me!
You'll let me stay? Oh! thank you massa;
     Now I'm happy! now I'm free!
I've seen enough of Yankee freedom,
     I've had enough of Yankee love!
As they have treated the poor negro,
     Be't done to them above.

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