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An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America

Moral torture is allied to physical

The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Chapter VI)


All the versions of this article:

Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton : The Story of A Woman’s Part in The Struggle to Free The Slaves, An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America, With Curious Anthropological Observations on the Radical Diversities In the Conformation of the Female Bottom and the Way Different Women endure Chastisement, Ed. Charles Carrington, London, Paris, 1899.

On the rack; moral torture is allied to physical; I make the great decision of my life and consent to become Randolph’s mistress; his revolting cynicism.

It was a beautiful, calm, bright evening. The sun was just setting and the house, the garden and our two unfortunate selves were bathed in a flood of amber light At first I had entertained a faint hope that Martha would come back once the men had gone and would release us. However, she never came, and there did not seem to be the slightest chance of anyone else’s coming to the house at that hour. Thus, escape being seen as impossible, I resigned myself to the thought that Miss Dean and I would be forced to undergo the whole of our dreadful punishment.

From the first moment of our being placed astride the rail we had been suffering pain. Now it was increasing every minute. We did not speak to one another—our sufferings were too great!—so we just sat in silence with the tears, which we could not wipe off, trickling down our pale cheeks, while every now and then a shuddering sob or a groan of anguish would break from our parched lips.

Since our legs were rather widely stretched apart, the rail was imbedded in the cleft between our thighs and the weight of our bodies forced the sharp edge deeply into the division between the cheeks of our bottoms. Consequently the most delicate part of our persons was hurt by the pressure. Just imagine our positions and think what it meant to individuals of the female sex! Miss Dean, throughout the whole time we were on the rail, bore her sufferings bravely. Alas, I, for my part, could not.

As the minutes slowly parsed, the pain grew more and more excruciating. In addition, my bottom still was smarting and the weals on it still were throbbing. I felt as if the wedge-shaped rail were slowly splitting me.

Sharp, lancinating pains darted through my loins and up my back. Since my ankles were tightly fastened to the stake, I could not alter my position in the slightest degree. If my arms had not been bound to my sides, I might have gained a little temporary ease by resting my hands on the rail and thus taking some of the weight off my bottom. But the men, in their devilish ingenuity, had taken care that we should not have even a moment’s respite from our tortures. Even if we had fainted, we would not have fallen off the fence: the upper part of our bodies would have dropped either forward or backward, but our legs, tied to the stakes, would have remained straddled over the rail, and the sharp edge still would have remained between the cheeks of our bottoms.

Before long, every nerve in my body was throbbing with agony. A cold dew of perspiration had broken out on my forehead. I groaned and writhed and twisted about, but the more I did so, the more firmly the sharp rail was imbedded in my tender cleft.

I began to scream, and, but for the grace of God, might even have cursed. Miss Dean, meanwhile, was crying, and her face showed the anguish which she felt. However, she made no outcry.

A few minutes more of agony slowly passed. Then I saw a man enter the lane and come towards the house. He was not one of the lynchers, so my heart bounded with joy. We should be released in a few moments!

I redoubled my cries, begging him to come quickly to our assistance. However, he did not hurry himself in the least. He walked deliberately and slowly up the path, and, alas, when he got a little nearer, I saw that he was none other than Randolph.

A few days previously I had hoped never to set eyes on him again. But now I was intensely delighted to see him. «Oh, Mr. Randolph!» I gasped out in a choking voice, with tears streaming down my cheeks. «Take me down! Oh! Take me down quickly!»

He came close to the fence and stood looking down at Miss Dean and me. He had a smile on his face.

«Oh dear, Mr. Randolph!» I again wailed. ’Take me down! Do be quick and take me down!»

But, to my horror, he did not move. «Well,» he said mockingly, «if it isn’t Miss Ruth Dean and Miss Dorothy Morton. This is what slave-running has brought you. And it is to me that you owe your present position. I let the ’white’ people know of your doings, and you have been rightly and smartly punished. I told you, Dolly, that we should meet again, and we have met. I knew that the men were coming to pay you a visit this evening, so I came with them, and, though you did not see me, I saw both of you getting your bottoms whipped. I must say, Dolly, you squealed just like a pig being killed.»

He paused to laugh, and a sickening feeling of despair came over me. The cruel man, not content with having set the lynchers on us, had come to mock us in our agony.

He continued: «I am afraid that your bottoms— especially yours, Miss Dean—must be very tender after the smart switching, and I am sure that you both must be extremely uncomfortable on your present seats. The edges are sharp, and I have no doubt that they are pressing sorely on a certain delicate ’spot’ between your thighs.»

Miss Dean’s face was working with pain and her eyes were full of tears. But, when she heard Randolph’s coarse and indecent words, she put aside her suffering and was consumed with indignation. Her pale cheeks grew red. Looking at me, she said in a quavering voice: «Dorothy, do you know this boor?»

Randolph answered for me: «Oh yes she does! Miss Morton and I once were great friends. But we had a little tiff one day and she told me to go away. Is that not the case, Dolly?»

I hated the man, but at that moment the dreadful pain which I was suffering overpowered every other feeling. «Yes! Yes! That is the case!» I exclaimed fretfully. «But don’t stand there talking! Take us down at once!»

Randolph smiled, but did not make a move to release us.

«Oh! Oh!» I shrieked with pain, enraged at his utter callousness. «How can you stand there and watch two poor women suffering agony? Oh! Why don’t you release us? Have you no mercy or pity?»

«I am not a merciful man,» he replied coolly. «I am a Southerner. As a rule I have no pity for abolitionists when they get into trouble for interfering with our slaves.» Then, grinning lasciviously, he added: «But I don’t mind making an exception in your case, Dolly. I will take you down if you will promise to come and live with me.» Upon hearing what he said, Miss Dean again fixed

her eyes on me. She said earnestly: «Oh, Dorothy! Don’t listen to the man! He is a cruel scoundrel to try to take advantage of your sufferings. But be brave, dear. Don’t give way. I am suffering as much as—if not more than—you are, but I would not accept release on such disgraceful terms.»

Randolph laughed scornfully. «I have not the least intention of offering the terms to you, Miss Dean,» he said. «As far as I am concerned, you may sit on the rail till the two hours are over. The view I had of your naked charms did not tempt me in the slightest. You have no figure. You are quite straight up and down. Your bottom is too narrow, your thighs are too small and your legs are too thin. I like a woman to have a broad bottom, plump thighs and good legs, such as Dorothy has.»

«Oh! You hateful man!» exclaimed Miss Dean angrily—for, after all, she was a woman, and no woman likes to hear her charms, whatever they may be, spoken of in disparaging terms.

But Randolph ignored her. «Now then, Dolly,» he chuckled. «You have heard what I said. Do you intend to come home with me tonight?»

The coarse way he put the question shocked me, so I tried to pluck up a little spirit. I partly succeeded. «No, no, I won’t go home with you,» I said. But, I fear, my tone of voice was far from determined.

«Very well then,» replied he. «Stay where you are. You have an hour and a half more to sit on your perch. By that time you’ll be in a terrible state between the legs. And you’ll be half-dead with pain. Rather a dreadful prospect, isn’t it?»

Alas, it was! I moaned and shuddered at the thought of the long period of agony before me. Again I piteously entreated him to take me down.

He made no answer, but coolly lit a cigar and began to smoke. Then, leaning against the middle of the rail, he looked first to his right at Miss Dean, then to his left at me. His physiognamy was a study in perfect unconcern as we writhed, wept and groaned in anguish—and as the sharp edge of the rail pressed harder and harder against the tender flesh between the cheeks of our bottoms.

For a few minutes more, I bore the pain, which was growing more and more intense. Then I gave way utterly. I could no longer endure the anguish. I said to myself: «What does anything matter, so long as I can escape from this terrible torture?! I can’t bear it for another hour and a half I I’ll go raving mad, or die!»

No doubt it was weak of me, but I was in a half-fainting state, and, as I have told you before, I am physically and morally a coward. «Oh!» I cried. «Oh! Take me down! Take me down at once, and I promise to go home with you!»

When Miss Dean heard me promise to go with Randolph, she said: «Don’t! Oh, don’t go with him Dorothy! Don’t wreck your life! Try to bear your sufferings! They soon will be over! If I were you I would rather die than yield my body to the man.»

«You are not she, Miss Dean,» Randolph said curtly. Then, turning to me, he asked: «Have you quite made up your mind, Dolly?» And, so saying, he touched his hand to the knot of the rope binding my arms.

«Yes! Yes!» I cried impatiently. «Oh! Do be quick and release me!»

«Oh, Dorothy!» sighed Miss Dean in a sorrowful tone. «Oh, you poor girl! I pity you! You do not know the horror and shame which lie before you!»

Randolph soon untied the ropes which fastened my arms and ankles. Then, putting his arms around my waist, he lifted me off the rail, carried me into the veranda and laid me, limp and faint, on the couch. I was stiff and sore and aching from head to foot, but I was not suffering much pain. And, oh, the intense relief to find myself no longer astride the sharp rail!

When I was situated comfortably, Randolph fetched me a glass of water, which I drank thirstily, for my mouth was parched and I was quite feverish from the torture which I had undergone. Then, when I had recovered a little, I thought of Miss Dean and I asked Randolph to release her. However, he was very bitterly set against her, and would hear nothing of my pleas. It was not until after I had begged for her with all the pathos at my command that he finally consented to release her before we went away.

«Now, Dolly,» he said, «I’ll go for the buggy. I left it just around the corner of the lane. I shan’t be gone long, so you lie here quietly until I come back.» Then he added meaningfully: «You had better not attempt to escape, for the men still are somewhere in the neighborhood and if they see you they’ll put you back on the rail.» So saying, he took his leave.

The thought of escape never entered my head. At that moment I was so weak and frightened that all my senses were in a half-torpid state. I did not fully realize the horrors which lay ahead of me, and I lay languidly on the couch, thinking only that it was so delightful to be free at last from pain.

Presently Randolph drove up with the buggy and, after hitching the horse to the garden gate, came to the couch, «Now then, Dolly,» he said to me, «come along. Never mind your things. My women can supply you with everything necessary for the night, and I will send for your trunks tomorrow morning. Can you walk to the buggy, or shall I carry you?»

I replied that I could walk. But, on attempting to do so, I found myself so shaky and stiff that I could barely put one foot before the other. Noticing how feeble I was, Randolph lifted me up in his arms and carried me to the buggy. Then he placed me inside and wrapped a rug around my knees. I reminded him of his promise to free Miss Dean before we left, and he dutifully went to the fence and untied her bonds. However, he did not take the trouble to help her off her painful perch; the poor creature was forced to climb from the rail without assistance of any sort.

Miss Dean was weak, pale and suffering. Her feebleness was such that she had to lean against the fence for support. But her thoughts still were for me. «Don’t go with that man, Dorothy,» she said again, her tone urgent and earnest. «Never mind your promise. It was extracted from you by torture, so you are not morally obliged to keep it. Stay with me.»

I did not want to go with Randolph, and I would have been only too glad to stay with her. But my cowardice ruled the day. Afraid of being placed once more astride the rail, I could only cry out feebly: «Oh, I must go with him, my dear friend. I am in his power.»

«Yes, indeed you are,» Randolph observed. «And if you were to attempt to break your promise you would very soon find yourself back ’in the saddle.’» Then, addressing Miss Dean, he went on: «Remember, Ruth, what the men told you. If you are not out of the state before forty-eight hours have expired, you will receive another visit from ’Judge Lynch.’» He then got into the buggy beside me, and, as he did so, I shrank as far away from him as possible, hating him and despising myself even more.

Randolph touched the horse with his whip and we drove off, leaving Miss Dean standing with drooping head by the fence. After we had gone a short distance, I looked back and saw her lonely figure still in the same position. She did not move, and I kept my eyes fixed upon her until the buggy turned the corner of the lane. Then I sank back on the seat and, covering my face with my hands, wept bitterly. I had parted with the only friend I had in the world.

View online : My attempts to escape are frustrated (Chapter VII)

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