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Uncle Tom's cabin
or Life among the Lowly

By Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

CHAPTER I

In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity

 

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two
gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished
dining parlor, in the town of P----, in Kentucky. There were no
servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching,
seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two _gentlemen_.
One of the parties, however, when critically examined, did not
seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a short,
thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering
air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his
way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest
of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow
spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with
the general air of the man. His hands, large and coarse, were
plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold watch-chain,
with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of
colors, attached to it,--which, in the ardor of conversation, he
was in the habit of flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction.
His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray's Grammar,[1]
and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane
expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account
shall induce us to transcribe.

 

1 English Grammar (1795), by Lindley Murray (1745-1826),
the most authoritative American grammarian of his day.

 

His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman;
and the arrrangements of the house, and the general air of the
housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent circumstances. As we
before stated, the two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.

"That is the way I should arrange the matter," said Mr. Shelby.

"I can't make trade that way--I positively can't, Mr. Shelby,"
said the other, holding up a glass of wine between his
eye and the light.

"Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is
certainly worth that sum anywhere,--steady, honest, capable, manages
my whole farm like a clock."

"You mean honest, as niggers go," said Haley, helping
himself to a glass of brandy.

"No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow.
He got religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe
he really _did_ get it. I've trusted him, since then, with
everything I have,--money, house, horses,--and let him come and go
round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything."

"Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers Shelby,"
said Haley, with a candid flourish of his hand, "but _I do_. I
had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans--'t was
as good as a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and
he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too,
for I bought him cheap of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so
I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I consider religion a valeyable
thing in a nigger, when it's the genuine article, and no mistake."

"Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever a fellow had,"
rejoined the other. "Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati
alone, to do business for me, and bring home five hundred dollars.
`Tom,' says I to him, `I trust you, because I think you're a
Christian--I know you wouldn't cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough;
I knew he would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him--Tom,
why don't you make tracks for Canada?' `Ah, master trusted me, and
I couldn't,'--they told me about it. I am sorry to part with Tom,
I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the
debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience."

"Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in
business can afford to keep,--just a little, you know, to swear
by, as 't were," said the trader, jocularly; "and, then, I'm ready
to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see,
is a leetle too hard on a fellow--a leetle too hard." The trader
sighed contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.

"Well, then, Haley, how will you trade?" said Mr. Shelby,
after an uneasy interval of silence.

"Well, haven't you a boy or gal that you could throw in
with Tom?"

"Hum!--none that I could well spare; to tell the truth,
it's only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all.
I don't like parting with any of my hands, that's a fact."

Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four
and five years of age, entered the room. There was something
in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His black
hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round,
dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and
softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he
peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and
yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to advantage
the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of
assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not
unused to being petted and noticed by his master.

"Hulloa, Jim Crow!" said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping
a bunch of raisins towards him, "pick that up, now!"

The child scampered, with all his little strength, after
the prize, while his master laughed.

"Come here, Jim Crow," said he. The child came up, and
the master patted the curly head, and chucked him under the chin.

"Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing."
The boy commenced one of those wild, grotesque songs common among
the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his singing with
many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in
perfect time to the music.

"Bravo!" said Haley, throwing him a quarter of an orange.

"Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle Cudjoe, when he has the
rheumatism," said his master.

Instantly the flexible limbs of the child assumed the
appearance of deformity and distortion, as, with his back humped
up, and his master's stick in his hand, he hobbled about the room,
his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker, and spitting from
right to left, in imitation of an old man.

Both gentlemen laughed uproariously.

"Now, Jim," said his master, "show us how old Elder Robbins
leads the psalm." The boy drew his chubby face down to a formidable
length, and commenced toning a psalm tune through his nose, with
imperturbable gravity.

"Hurrah! bravo! what a young 'un!" said Haley; "that chap's
a case, I'll promise. Tell you what," said he, suddenly clapping
his hand on Mr. Shelby's shoulder, "fling in that chap, and I'll
settle the business--I will. Come, now, if that ain't doing the
thing up about the rightest!"

At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young
quadroon woman, apparently about twenty-five, entered the room.

There needed only a glance from the child to her, to identify
her as its mother. There was the same rich, full, dark eye, with
its long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair. The brown
of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush,
which deepened as she saw the gaze of the strange man fixed upon
her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress was of the
neatest possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely moulded
shape;--a delicately formed hand and a trim foot and ankle were
items of appearance that did not escape the quick eye of the trader,
well used to run up at a glance the points of a fine female article.

"Well, Eliza?" said her master, as she stopped and looked
hesitatingly at him.

"I was looking for Harry, please, sir;" and the boy bounded
toward her, showing his spoils, which he had gathered in the skirt
of his robe.

"Well, take him away then," said Mr. Shelby; and hastily
she withdrew, carrying the child on her arm.

"By Jupiter," said the trader, turning to him in admiration,
"there's an article, now! You might make your fortune on that ar
gal in Orleans, any day. I've seen over a thousand, in my day,
paid down for gals not a bit handsomer."

"I don't want to make my fortune on her," said Mr. Shelby, dryly;
and, seeking to turn the conversation, he uncorked a bottle of
fresh wine, and asked his companion's opinion of it.

"Capital, sir,--first chop!" said the trader; then turning,
and slapping his hand familiarly on Shelby's shoulder, he added--

"Come, how will you trade about the gal?--what shall I say
for her--what'll you take?"

"Mr. Haley, she is not to be sold," said Shelby. "My wife
would not part with her for her weight in gold."

"Ay, ay! women always say such things, cause they ha'nt no
sort of calculation. Just show 'em how many watches, feathers,
and trinkets, one's weight in gold would buy, and that alters the
case, _I_ reckon."

"I tell you, Haley, this must not be spoken of; I say no,
and I mean no," said Shelby, decidedly.

"Well, you'll let me have the boy, though," said the trader;
"you must own I've come down pretty handsomely for him."

"What on earth can you want with the child?" said Shelby.

"Why, I've got a friend that's going into this yer branch
of the business--wants to buy up handsome boys to raise for the
market. Fancy articles entirely--sell for waiters, and so on, to
rich 'uns, that can pay for handsome 'uns. It sets off one of yer
great places--a real handsome boy to open door, wait, and tend.
They fetch a good sum; and this little devil is such a comical,
musical concern, he's just the article!'

"I would rather not sell him," said Mr. Shelby, thoughtfully;
"the fact is, sir, I'm a humane man, and I hate to take the boy
from his mother, sir."

"O, you do?--La! yes--something of that ar natur. I
understand, perfectly. It is mighty onpleasant getting on with
women, sometimes, I al'ays hates these yer screechin,' screamin'
times. They are _mighty_ onpleasant; but, as I manages business,
I generally avoids 'em, sir. Now, what if you get the girl off
for a day, or a week, or so; then the thing's done quietly,--all
over before she comes home. Your wife might get her some ear-rings,
or a new gown, or some such truck, to make up with her."

"I'm afraid not."

"Lor bless ye, yes! These critters ain't like white folks,
you know; they gets over things, only manage right. Now, they
say," said Haley, assuming a candid and confidential air,
"that this kind o' trade is hardening to the feelings; but I never
found it so. Fact is, I never could do things up the way some
fellers manage the business. I've seen 'em as would pull a woman's
child out of her arms, and set him up to sell, and she screechin'
like mad all the time;--very bad policy--damages the article--makes
'em quite unfit for service sometimes. I knew a real handsome gal
once, in Orleans, as was entirely ruined by this sort o' handling.
The fellow that was trading for her didn't want her baby; and she
was one of your real high sort, when her blood was up. I tell you,
she squeezed up her child in her arms, and talked, and went on real
awful. It kinder makes my blood run cold to think of 't; and when
they carried off the child, and locked her up, she jest went ravin'
mad, and died in a week. Clear waste, sir, of a thousand dollars,
just for want of management,--there's where 't is. It's always
best to do the humane thing, sir; that's been _my_ experience."
And the trader leaned back in his chair, and folded his arm, with
an air of virtuous decision, apparently considering himself a
second Wilberforce.

The subject appeared to interest the gentleman deeply; for
while Mr. Shelby was thoughtfully peeling an orange, Haley broke
out afresh, with becoming diffidence, but as if actually driven by
the force of truth to say a few words more.

"It don't look well, now, for a feller to be praisin' himself;
but I say it jest because it's the truth. I believe I'm
reckoned to bring in about the finest droves of niggers that is
brought in,--at least, I've been told so; if I have once, I reckon
I have a hundred times,--all in good case,--fat and likely, and I
lose as few as any man in the business. And I lays it all to my
management, sir; and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great pillar
of _my_ management."

Mr. Shelby did not know what to say, and so he said, "Indeed!"

"Now, I've been laughed at for my notions, sir, and I've
been talked to. They an't pop'lar, and they an't common; but I
stuck to 'em, sir; I've stuck to 'em, and realized well on 'em;
yes, sir, they have paid their passage, I may say," and the trader
laughed at his joke.

There was something so piquant and original in these
elucidations of humanity, that Mr. Shelby could not help laughing
in company. Perhaps you laugh too, dear reader; but you know
humanity comes out in a variety of strange forms now-a-days, and
there is no end to the odd things that humane people will say and do.

Mr. Shelby's laugh encouraged the trader to proceed.

"It's strange, now, but I never could beat this into people's heads.
Now, there was Tom Loker, my old partner, down in Natchez; he was
a clever fellow, Tom was, only the very devil with niggers,--on
principle 't was, you see, for a better hearted feller never broke
bread; 't was his _system_, sir. I used to talk to Tom. `Why,
Tom,' I used to say, `when your gals takes on and cry, what's the
use o' crackin on' em over the head, and knockin' on 'em round?
It's ridiculous,' says I, `and don't do no sort o' good. Why, I
don't see no harm in their cryin',' says I; `it's natur,' says I,
`and if natur can't blow off one way, it will another. Besides, Tom,'
says I, `it jest spiles your gals; they get sickly, and down
in the mouth; and sometimes they gets ugly,--particular yallow gals
do,--and it's the devil and all gettin' on 'em broke in. Now,' says I,
`why can't you kinder coax 'em up, and speak 'em fair? Depend on it,
Tom, a little humanity, thrown in along, goes a heap further than
all your jawin' and crackin'; and it pays better,' says I, `depend on 't.'
But Tom couldn't get the hang on 't; and he spiled so many for me,
that I had to break off with him, though he was a good-hearted fellow,
and as fair a business hand as is goin'"

"And do you find your ways of managing do the business
better than Tom's?" said Mr. Shelby.

"Why, yes, sir, I may say so. You see, when I any ways
can, I takes a leetle care about the onpleasant parts, like selling
young uns and that,--get the gals out of the way--out of sight, out
of mind, you know,--and when it's clean done, and can't be helped,
they naturally gets used to it. 'Tan't, you know, as if it was
white folks, that's brought,up in the way of 'spectin' to keep
their children and wives, and all that. Niggers, you know, that's
fetched up properly, ha'n't no kind of 'spectations of no kind; so
all these things comes easier."

"I'm afraid mine are not properly brought up, then," said
Mr. Shelby.

"S'pose not; you Kentucky folks spile your niggers. You
mean well by 'em, but 'tan't no real kindness, arter all. Now, a
nigger, you see, what's got to be hacked and tumbled round the
world, and sold to Tom, and Dick, and the Lord knows who, 'tan't
no kindness to be givin' on him notions and expectations, and
bringin' on him up too well, for the rough and tumble comes all
the harder on him arter. Now, I venture to say, your niggers would
be quite chop-fallen in a place where some of your plantation
niggers would be singing and whooping like all possessed. Every
man, you know, Mr. Shelby, naturally thinks well of his own ways;
and I think I treat niggers just about as well as it's ever worth
while to treat 'em."

"It's a happy thing to be satisfied," said Mr. Shelby, with a
slight shrug, and some perceptible feelings of a disagreeable nature.

"Well," said Haley, after they had both silently picked
their nuts for a season, "what do you say?"

"I'll think the matter over, and talk with my wife," said
Mr. Shelby. "Meantime, Haley, if you want the matter carried on
in the quiet way you speak of, you'd best not let your business in
this neighborhood be known. It will get out among my boys, and it
will not be a particularly quiet business getting away any of my
fellows, if they know it, I'll promise you."

"O! certainly, by all means, mum! of course. But I'll tell you.
I'm in a devil of a hurry, and shall want to know, as soon as
possible, what I may depend on," said he, rising and putting on
his overcoat.

"Well, call up this evening, between six and seven, and you
shall have my answer," said Mr. Shelby, and the trader bowed
himself out of the apartment.

"I'd like to have been able to kick the fellow down the steps,"
said he to himself, as he saw the door fairly closed, "with his
impudent assurance; but he knows how much he has me at advantage.
If anybody had ever said to me that I should sell Tom down south
to one of those rascally traders, I should have said, `Is thy
servant a dog, that he should do this thing?' And now it must come,
for aught I see. And Eliza's child, too! I know that I shall have
some fuss with wife about that; and, for that matter, about Tom, too.
So much for being in debt,--heigho! The fellow sees his advantage,
and means to push it."

Perhaps the mildest form of the system of slavery is to be
seen in the State of Kentucky. The general prevalence of
agricultural pursuits of a quiet and gradual nature, not requiring
those periodic seasons of hurry and pressure that are called for
in the business of more southern districts, makes the task of the
negro a more healthful and reasonable one; while the master, content
with a more gradual style of acquisition, has not those temptations
to hardheartedness which always overcome frail human nature when
the prospect of sudden and rapid gain is weighed in the balance,
with no heavier counterpoise than the interests of the helpless
and unprotected.

Whoever visits some estates there, and witnesses the
good-humored indulgence of some masters and mistresses, and the
affectionate loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to dream
the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal institution, and
all that; but over and above the scene there broods a portentous
shadow--the shadow of _law_. So long as the law considers all
these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections,
only as so many _things_ belonging to a master,--so long as the
failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest
owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind
protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil,--so
long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in
the best regulated administration of slavery.

Mr. Shelby was a fair average kind of man, good-natured
and kindly, and disposed to easy indulgence of those around him,
and there had never been a lack of anything which might contribute
to the physical comfort of the negroes on his estate. He had,
however, speculated largely and quite loosely; had involved himself
deeply, and his notes to a large amount had come into the hands of
Haley; and this small piece of information is the key to the
preceding conversation.

Now, it had so happened that, in approaching the door, Eliza
had caught enough of the conversation to know that a trader
was making offers to her master for somebody.

She would gladly have stopped at the door to listen, as she
came out; but her mistress just then calling, she was obliged
to hasten away.

Still she thought she heard the trader make an offer for
her boy;--could she be mistaken? Her heart swelled and throbbed,
and she involuntarily strained him so tight that the little fellow
looked up into her face in astonishment.

"Eliza, girl, what ails you today?" said her mistress, when
Eliza had upset the wash-pitcher, knocked down the workstand, and
finally was abstractedly offering her mistress a long nightgown in
place of the silk dress she had ordered her to bring from the wardrobe.

Eliza started. "O, missis!" she said, raising her eyes; then,
bursting into tears, she sat down in a chair, and began sobbing.

"Why, Eliza child, what ails you?" said her mistress.

"O! missis, missis," said Eliza, "there's been a trader
talking with master in the parlor! I heard him."

"Well, silly child, suppose there has."

"O, missis, _do_ you suppose mas'r would sell my Harry?"
And the poor creature threw herself into a chair, and sobbed
convulsively.

"Sell him! No, you foolish girl! You know your master never
deals with those southern traders, and never means to sell any of
his servants, as long as they behave well. Why, you silly child,
who do you think would want to buy your Harry? Do you think all
the world are set on him as you are, you goosie? Come, cheer up,
and hook my dress. There now, put my back hair up in that pretty
braid you learnt the other day, and don't go listening at doors
any more."

"Well, but, missis, _you_ never would give your consent--to--to--"

"Nonsense, child! to be sure, I shouldn't. What do you
talk so for? I would as soon have one of my own children sold.
But really, Eliza, you are getting altogether too proud of that
little fellow. A man can't put his nose into the door, but you
think he must be coming to buy him."

Reassured by her mistress' confident tone, Eliza proceeded
nimbly and adroitly with her toilet, laughing at her own fears, as
she proceeded.

Mrs. Shelby was a woman of high class, both intellectually
and morally. To that natural magnanimity and generosity of mind
which one often marks as characteristic of the women of Kentucky,
she added high moral and religious sensibility and principle,
carried out with great energy and ability into practical results.
Her husband, who made no professions to any particular religious
character, nevertheless reverenced and respected the consistency
of hers, and stood, perhaps, a little in awe of her opinion.
Certain it was that he gave her unlimited scope in all her
benevolent efforts for the comfort, instruction, and improvement
of her servants, though he never took any decided part in them
himself. In fact, if not exactly a believer in the doctrine of
the efficiency of the extra good works of saints, he really seemed
somehow or other to fancy that his wife had piety and benevolence
enough for two--to indulge a shadowy expectation of getting into
heaven through her superabundance of qualities to which he made no
particular pretension.

The heaviest load on his mind, after his conversation with
the trader, lay in the foreseen necessity of breaking to his wife
the arrangement contemplated,--meeting the importunities and
opposition which he knew he should have reason to encounter.

Mrs. Shelby, being entirely ignorant of her husband's
embarrassments, and knowing only the general kindliness of his
temper, had been quite sincere in the entire incredulity with which
she had met Eliza's suspicions. In fact, she dismissed the matter
from her mind, without a second thought; and being occupied in
preparations for an evening visit, it passed out of her thoughts
entirely.

 

 

CHAPTER II

The Mother

 

Eliza had been brought up by her mistress, from girlhood,
as a petted and indulged favorite.

The traveller in the south must often have remarked that
peculiar air of refinement, that softness of voice and manner,
which seems in many cases to be a particular gift to the quadroon
and mulatto women. These natural graces in the quadroon are often
united with beauty of the most dazzling kind, and in almost every
case with a personal appearance prepossessing and agreeable.
Eliza, such as we have described her, is not a fancy sketch, but
taken from remembrance, as we saw her, years ago, in Kentucky.
Safe under the protecting care of her mistress, Eliza had reached
maturity without those temptations which make beauty so fatal an
inheritance to a slave. She had been married to a bright and talented
young mulatto man, who was a slave on a neighboring estate, and bore
the name of George Harris.

This young man had been hired out by his master to work in
a bagging factory, where his adroitness and ingenuity caused him
to be considered the first hand in the place. He had invented a
machine for the cleaning of the hemp, which, considering the
education and circumstances of the inventor, displayed quite as
much mechanical genius as Whitney's cotton-gin.[1]

 

[1] A machine of this description was really the invention
of a young colored man in Kentucky. [Mrs. Stowe's note.]

He was possessed of a handsome person and pleasing manners,
and was a general favorite in the factory. Nevertheless, as this
young man was in the eye of the law not a man, but a thing, all
these superior qualifications were subject to the control of a
vulgar, narrow-minded, tyrannical master. This same gentleman,
having heard of the fame of George's invention, took a ride over
to the factory, to see what this intelligent chattel had been about.
He was received with great enthusiasm by the employer, who
congratulated him on possessing so valuable a slave.

He was waited upon over the factory, shown the machinery
by George, who, in high spirits, talked so fluently, held himself
so erect, looked so handsome and manly, that his master began to
feel an uneasy consciousness of inferiority. What business had
his slave to be marching round the country, inventing machines,
and holding up his head among gentlemen? He'd soon put a stop
to it. He'd take him back, and put him to hoeing and digging, and
"see if he'd step about so smart." Accordingly, the manufacturer
and all hands concerned were astounded when he suddenly demanded
George's wages, and announced his intention of taking him home.

"But, Mr. Harris," remonstrated the manufacturer, "isn't
this rather sudden?"

"What if it is?--isn't the man _mine_?"

"We would be willing, sir, to increase the rate of compensation."

"No object at all, sir. I don't need to hire any of my
hands out, unless I've a mind to."

"But, sir, he seems peculiarly adapted to this business."

"Dare say he may be; never was much adapted to anything
that I set him about, I'll be bound."

"But only think of his inventing this machine," interposed
one of the workmen, rather unluckily.

"O yes! a machine for saving work, is it? He'd invent that,
I'll be bound; let a nigger alone for that, any time.
They are all labor-saving machines themselves, every one of 'em.
No, he shall tramp!"

George had stood like one transfixed, at hearing his doom
thus suddenly pronounced by a power that he knew was irresistible.
He folded his arms, tightly pressed in his lips, but a whole volcano
of bitter feelings burned in his bosom, and sent streams of fire
through his veins. He breathed short, and his large dark eyes
flashed like live coals; and he might have broken out into some
dangerous ebullition, had not the kindly manufacturer touched him
on the arm, and said, in a low tone,

"Give way, George; go with him for the present. We'll try
to help you, yet."

The tyrant observed the whisper, and conjectured its import,
though he could not hear what was said; and he inwardly strengthened
himself in his determination to keep the power he possessed over
his victim.

George was taken home, and put to the meanest drudgery of
the farm. He had been able to repress every disrespectful word;
but the flashing eye, the gloomy and troubled brow, were part of
a natural language that could not be repressed,--indubitable signs,
which showed too plainly that the man could not become a thing.

It was during the happy period of his employment in the
factory that George had seen and married his wife. During that
period,--being much trusted and favored by his employer,--he had
free liberty to come and go at discretion. The marriage was highly
approved of by Mrs. Shelby, who, with a little womanly complacency
in match-making, felt pleased to unite her handsome favorite with
one of her own class who seemed in every way suited to her; and so
they were married in her mistress' great parlor, and her mistress
herself adorned the bride's beautiful hair with orange-blossoms,
and threw over it the bridal veil, which certainly could scarce
have rested on a fairer head; and there was no lack of white gloves,
and cake and wine,--of admiring guests to praise the bride's beauty,
and her mistress' indulgence and liberality. For a year or two Eliza
saw her husband frequently, and there was nothing to interrupt
their happiness, except the loss of two infant children, to whom
she was passionately attached, and whom she mourned with a grief
so intense as to call for gentle remonstrance from her mistress,
who sought, with maternal anxiety, to direct her naturally passionate
feelings within the bounds of reason and religion.

After the birth of little Harry, however, she had gradually
become tranquillized and settled; and every bleeding tie and
throbbing nerve, once more entwined with that little life, seemed
to become sound and healthful, and Eliza was a happy woman up to
the time that her husband was rudely torn from his kind employer,
and brought under the iron sway of his legal owner.

The manufacturer, true to his word, visited Mr. Harris a
week or two after George had been taken away, when, as he hoped,
the heat of the occasion had passed away, and tried every possible
inducement to lead him to restore him to his former employment.

"You needn't trouble yourself to talk any longer," said
he, doggedly; "I know my own business, sir."

"I did not presume to interfere with it, sir. I only
thought that you might think it for your interest to let your man
to us on the terms proposed."

"O, I understand the matter well enough. I saw your winking
and whispering, the day I took him out of the factory; but you
don't come it over me that way. It's a free country, sir; the
man's _mine_, and I do what I please with him,--that's it!"

And so fell George's last hope;--nothing before him but a
life of toil and drudgery, rendered more bitter by every
little smarting vexation and indignity which tyrannical
ingenuity could devise.

A very humane jurist once said, The worst use you can put
a man to is to hang him. No; there is another use that a man can
be put to that is WORSE!

 

 

CHAPTER III

The Husband and Father

 

Mrs. Shelby had gone on her visit, and Eliza stood in the
verandah, rather dejectedly looking after the retreating carriage,
when a hand was laid on her shoulder. She turned, and a bright
smile lighted up her fine eyes.

"George, is it you? How you frightened me! Well; I am so
glad you 's come! Missis is gone to spend the afternoon; so come
into my little room, and we'll have the time all to ourselves."

Saying this, she drew him into a neat little apartment
opening on the verandah, where she generally sat at her sewing,
within call of her mistress.

"How glad I am!--why don't you smile?--and look at Harry--how
he grows." The boy stood shyly regarding his father through his
curls, holding close to the skirts of his mother's dress.
"Isn't he beautiful?" said Eliza, lifting his long curls and
kissing him.

"I wish he'd never been born!" said George, bitterly. "I wish
I'd never been born myself!"

Surprised and frightened, Eliza sat down, leaned her head
on her husband's shoulder, and burst into tears.

"There now, Eliza, it's too bad for me to make you feel so,
poor girl!" said he, fondly; "it's too bad: O, how I wish you
never had seen me--you might have been happy!"

"George! George! how can you talk so? What dreadful thing has
happened, or is going to happen? I'm sure we've been very happy,
till lately."

"So we have, dear," said George. Then drawing his child on his
knee, he gazed intently on his glorious dark eyes, and passed
his hands through his long curls.

"Just like you, Eliza; and you are the handsomest woman I ever
saw, and the best one I ever wish to see; but, oh, I wish I'd
never seen you, nor you me!"

"O, George, how can you!"

"Yes, Eliza, it's all misery, misery, misery! My life is
bitter as wormwood; the very life is burning out of me. I'm a
poor, miserable, forlorn drudge; I shall only drag you down with
me, that's all. What's the use of our trying to do anything, trying
to know anything, trying to be anything? What's the use of living?
I wish I was dead!"

"O, now, dear George, that is really wicked! I know how
you feel about losing your place in the factory, and you have a
hard master; but pray be patient, and perhaps something--"

"Patient!" said he, interrupting her; "haven't I been patient?
Did I say a word when he came and took me away, for no earthly
reason, from the place where everybody was kind to me? I'd paid
him truly every cent of my earnings,--and they all say I worked well."

"Well, it _is_ dreadful," said Eliza; "but, after all, he
is your master, you know."

"My master! and who made him my master? That's what I think
of--what right has he to me? I'm a man as much as he is. I'm a
better man than he is. I know more about business than he does;
I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can;
I can write a better hand,--and I've learned it all myself, and no
thanks to him,--I've learned it in spite of him; and now what right
has he to make a dray-horse of me?--to take me from things I can
do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse
can do? He tries to do it; he says he'll bring me down and humble
me, and he puts me to just the hardest, meanest and dirtiest work,
on purpose!"

"O, George! George! you frighten me! Why, I never heard
you talk so; I'm afraid you'll do something dreadful. I don't
wonder at your feelings, at all; but oh, do be careful--do, do--for
my sake--for Harry's!"

"I have been careful, and I have been patient, but it's
growing worse and worse; flesh and blood can't bear it any
longer;--every chance he can get to insult and torment me, he takes.
I thought I could do my work well, and keep on quiet, and have some
time to read and learn out of work hours; but the more he see I
can do, the more he loads on. He says that though I don't say
anything, he sees I've got the devil in me, and he means to bring
it out; and one of these days it will come out in a way that he
won't like, or I'm mistaken!"

"O dear! what shall we do?" said Eliza, mournfully.

"It was only yesterday," said George, "as I was busy loading
stones into a cart, that young Mas'r Tom stood there, slashing his
whip so near the horse that the creature was frightened. I asked
him to stop, as pleasant as I could,--he just kept right on.
I begged him again, and then he turned on me, and began striking me.
I held his hand, and then he screamed and kicked and ran to his
father, and told him that I was fighting him. He came in a rage,
and said he'd teach me who was my master; and he tied me to a tree,
and cut switches for young master, and told him that he might whip
me till he was tired;--and he did do it! If I don't make him remember
it, some time!" and the brow of the young man grew dark, and his
eyes burned with an expression that made his young wife tremble.
"Who made this man my master? That's what I want to know!" he said.

"Well," said Eliza, mournfully, "I always thought that I
must obey my master and mistress, or I couldn't be a Christian."

"There is some sense in it, in your case; they have brought
you up like a child, fed you, clothed you, indulged you, and
taught you, so that you have a good education; that is some
reason why they should claim you. But I have been kicked and
cuffed and sworn at, and at the best only let alone; and what
do I owe? I've paid for all my keeping a hundred times over.
I _won't_ bear it. No, I _won't_!" he said, clenching his hand
with a fierce frown.

Eliza trembled, and was silent. She had never seen her husband
in this mood before; and her gentle system of ethics seemed
to bend like a reed in the surges of such passions.

"You know poor little Carlo, that you gave me," added George;
"the creature has been about all the comfort that I've had.
He has slept with me nights, and followed me around days, and kind
o' looked at me as if he understood how I felt. Well, the other
day I was just feeding him with a few old scraps I picked up by
the kitchen door, and Mas'r came along, and said I was feeding him
up at his expense, and that he couldn't afford to have every nigger
keeping his dog, and ordered me to tie a stone to his neck and
throw him in the pond."

"O, George, you didn't do it!"

"Do it? not I!--but he did. Mas'r and Tom pelted the poor
drowning creature with stones. Poor thing! he looked at me so
mournful, as if he wondered why I didn't save him. I had to take
a flogging because I wouldn't do it myself. I don't care. Mas'r
will find out that I'm one that whipping won't tame. My day will
come yet, if he don't look out."

"What are you going to do? O, George, don't do anything wicked;
if you only trust in God, and try to do right, he'll deliver you."

"I an't a Christian like you, Eliza; my heart's full of
bitterness; I can't trust in God. Why does he let things be so?"

"O, George, we must have faith. Mistress says that when all
things go wrong to us, we must believe that God is doing
the very best."

"That's easy to say for people that are sitting on their sofas
and riding in their carriages; but let 'em be where I am, I
guess it would come some harder. I wish I could be good; but my
heart burns, and can't be reconciled, anyhow. You couldn't in my
place,--you can't now, if I tell you all I've got to say. You don't
know the whole yet."

"What can be coming now?"

"Well, lately Mas'r has been saying that he was a fool to
let me marry off the place; that he hates Mr. Shelby and all his
tribe, because they are proud, and hold their heads up above him,
and that I've got proud notions from you; and he says he won't let
me come here any more, and that I shall take a wife and settle down
on his place. At first he only scolded and grumbled these things;
but yesterday he told me that I should take Mina for a wife, and
settle down in a cabin with her, or he would sell me down river."

"Why--but you were married to _me_, by the minister, as
much as if you'd been a white man!" said Eliza, simply.

"Don't you know a slave can't be married? There is no law
in this country for that; I can't hold you for my wife, if he
chooses to part us. That's why I wish I'd never seen you,--why I
wish I'd never been born; it would have been better for us both,--it
would have been better for this poor child if he had never been born.
All this may happen to him yet!"

"O, but master is so kind!"

"Yes, but who knows?--he may die--and then he may be sold
to nobody knows who. What pleasure is it that he is handsome,
and smart, and bright? I tell you, Eliza, that a sword will pierce
through your soul for every good and pleasant thing your child is
or has; it will make him worth too much for you to keep."

The words smote heavily on Eliza's heart; the vision of the
trader came before her eyes, and, as if some one had struck her
a deadly blow, she turned pale and gasped for breath. She looked
nervously out on the verandah, where the boy, tired of the grave
conversation, had retired, and where he was riding triumphantly
up and down on Mr. Shelby's walking-stick. She would have spoken
to tell her husband her fears, but checked herself.

"No, no,--he has enough to bear, poor fellow!" she thought.
"No, I won't tell him; besides, it an't true; Missis never
deceives us."

"So, Eliza, my girl," said the husband, mournfully, "bear
up, now; and good-by, for I'm going."

"Going, George! Going where?"

"To Canada," said he, straightening himself up; and when I'm
there, I'll buy you; that's all the hope that's left us. You have
a kind master, that won't refuse to sell you. I'll buy you and
the boy;--God helping me, I will!"

"O, dreadful! if you should be taken?"

"I won't be taken, Eliza; I'll _die_ first! I'll be free,
or I'll die!"

"You won't kill yourself!"

"No need of that. They will kill me, fast enough; they
never will get me down the river alive!"

"O, George, for my sake, do be careful! Don't do anything
wicked; don't lay hands on yourself, or anybody else! You are
tempted too much--too much; but don't--go you must--but go carefully,
prudently; pray God to help you."

"Well, then, Eliza, hear my plan. Mas'r took it into his
head to send me right by here, with a note to Mr. Symmes, that
lives a mile past. I believe he expected I should come here to
tell you what I have. It would please him, if he thought it would
aggravate `Shelby's folks,' as he calls 'em. I'm going home quite
resigned, you understand, as if all was over. I've got some
preparations made,--and there are those that will help me; and, in
the course of a week or so, I shall be among the missing, some day.
Pray for me, Eliza; perhaps the good Lord will hear _you_."

"O, pray yourself, George, and go trusting in him; then
you won't do anything wicked."

"Well, now, _good-by_," said George, holding Eliza's hands,
and gazing into her eyes, without moving. They stood silent; then
there were last words, and sobs, and bitter weeping,--such parting
as those may make whose hope to meet again is as the spider's
web,--and the husband and wife were parted.

 

 

CHAPTER IV

An Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin

 

The cabin of Uncle Tom was a small log building, close
adjoining to "the house," as the negro _par excellence_ designates
his master's dwelling. In front it had a neat garden-patch, where,
every summer, strawberries, raspberries, and a variety of fruits
and vegetables, flourished under careful tending. The whole front
of it was covered by a large scarlet bignonia and a native multiflora
rose, which, entwisting and interlacing, left scarce a vestige of
the rough logs to be seen. Here, also, in summer, various brilliant
annuals, such as marigolds, petunias, four-o'clocks, found an
indulgent corner in which to unfold their splendors, and were the
delight and pride of Aunt Chloe's heart.

Let us enter the dwelling. The evening meal at the house
is over, and Aunt Chloe, who presided over its preparation as head
cook, has left to inferior officers in the kitchen the business of
clearing away and washing dishes, and come out into her own snug
territories, to "get her ole man's supper"; therefore, doubt not
that it is her you see by the fire, presiding with anxious interest
over certain frizzling items in a stew-pan, and anon with grave
consideration lifting the cover of a bake-kettle, from whence steam
forth indubitable intimations of "something good." A round, black,
shining face is hers, so glossy as to suggest the idea that she
might have been washed over with white of eggs, like one of her own
tea rusks. Her whole plump countenance beams with satisfaction and
contentment from under her well-starched checked turban, bearing
on it, however, if we must confess it, a little of that tinge of
self-consciousness which becomes the first cook of the neighborhood,
as Aunt Chloe was universally held and acknowledged to be.

A cook she certainly was, in the very bone and centre of
her soul. Not a chicken or turkey or duck in the barn-yard but
looked grave when they saw her approaching, and seemed evidently
to be reflecting on their latter end; and certain it was that she
was always meditating on trussing, stuffing and roasting, to a
degree that was calculated to inspire terror in any reflecting fowl
living. Her corn-cake, in all its varieties of hoe-cake, dodgers,
muffins, and other species too numerous to mention, was a sublime
mystery to all less practised compounders; and she would shake her
fat sides with honest pride and merriment, as she would narrate
the fruitless efforts that one and another of her compeers had made
to attain to her elevation.

The arrival of company at the house, the arranging of dinners
and suppers "in style," awoke all the energies of her soul;
and no sight was more welcome to her than a pile of travelling
trunks launched on the verandah, for then she foresaw fresh efforts
and fresh triumphs.

Just at present, however, Aunt Chloe is looking into the
bake-pan; in which congenial operation we shall leave her till we
finish our picture of the cottage.

In one corner of it stood a bed, covered neatly with a
snowy spread; and by the side of it was a piece of carpeting, of
some considerable size. On this piece of carpeting Aunt Chloe took
her stand, as being decidedly in the upper walks of life; and it
and the bed by which it lay, and the whole corner, in fact, were
treated with distinguished consideration, and made, so far as
possible, sacred from the marauding inroads and desecrations of
little folks. In fact, that corner was the _drawing-room_ of
the establishment. In the other corner was a bed of much humbler
pretensions, and evidently designed for _use_. The wall over the
fireplace was adorned with some very brilliant scriptural prints,
and a portrait of General Washington, drawn and colored in a manner
which would certainly have astonished that hero, if ever he happened
to meet with its like.

On a rough bench in the corner, a couple of woolly-headed
boys, with glistening black eyes and fat shining cheeks, were busy
in superintending the first walking operations of the baby, which,
as is usually the case, consisted in getting up on its feet,
balancing a moment, and then tumbling down,--each successive failure
being violently cheered, as something decidedly clever.

A table, somewhat rheumatic in its limbs, was drawn out in
front of the fire, and covered with a cloth, displaying cups and
saucers of a decidedly brilliant pattern, with other symptoms of
an approaching meal. At this table was seated Uncle Tom, Mr.
Shelby's best hand, who, as he is to be the hero of our story, we
must daguerreotype for our readers. He was a large, broad-chested,
powerfully-made man, of a full glossy black, and a face whose truly
African features were characterized by an expression of grave and
steady good sense, united with much kindliness and benevolence.
There was something about his whole air self-respecting and dignified,
yet united with a confiding and humble simplicity.

He was very busily intent at this moment on a slate lying before him,
on which he was carefully and slowly endeavoring to accomplish a
copy of some letters, in which operation he was overlooked by
young Mas'r George, a smart, bright boy of thirteen, who appeared
fully to realize the dignity of his position as instructor.

"Not that way, Uncle Tom,--not that way," said he, briskly,
as Uncle Tom laboriously brought up the tail of his _g_ the
wrong side out; "that makes a _q_, you see."

"La sakes, now, does it?" said Uncle Tom, looking with a respectful,
admiring air, as his young teacher flourishingly scrawled _q_'s and
_g_'s innumerable for his edification; and then, taking the pencil
in his big, heavy fingers, he patiently recommenced.

"How easy white folks al'us does things!" said Aunt Chloe,
pausing while she was greasing a griddle with a scrap of bacon on
her fork, and regarding young Master George with pride. "The way
he can write, now! and read, too! and then to come out here evenings
and read his lessons to us,--it's mighty interestin'!"

"But, Aunt Chloe, I'm getting mighty hungry," said George.
"Isn't that cake in the skillet almost done?"

"Mose done, Mas'r George," said Aunt Chloe, lifting the
lid and peeping in,--"browning beautiful--a real lovely brown.
Ah! let me alone for dat. Missis let Sally try to make some cake,
t' other day, jes to _larn_ her, she said. `O, go way, Missis,'
said I; `it really hurts my feelin's, now, to see good vittles
spilt dat ar way! Cake ris all to one side--no shape at all; no
more than my shoe; go way!"

And with this final expression of contempt for Sally's
greenness, Aunt Chloe whipped the cover off the bake-kettle, and
disclosed to view a neatly-baked pound-cake, of which no city
confectioner need to have been ashamed. This being evidently the
central point of the entertainment, Aunt Chloe began now to bustle
about earnestly in the supper department.

"Here you, Mose and Pete! get out de way, you niggers! Get away,
Mericky, honey,--mammy'll give her baby some fin, by and by.
Now, Mas'r George, you jest take off dem books, and set down
now with my old man, and I'll take up de sausages, and have de
first griddle full of cakes on your plates in less dan no time."

"They wanted me to come to supper in the house," said
George; "but I knew what was what too well for that, Aunt Chloe."

"So you did--so you did, honey," said Aunt Chloe, heaping the
smoking batter-cakes on his plate; "you know'd your old aunty'd
keep the best for you. O, let you alone for dat! Go way!"
And, with that, aunty gave George a nudge with her finger,
designed to be immensely facetious, and turned again to her griddle
with great briskness.

"Now for the cake," said Mas'r George, when the activity
of the griddle department had somewhat subsided; and, with that,
the youngster flourished a large knife over the article in question.

"La bless you, Mas'r George!" said Aunt Chloe, with
earnestness, catching his arm, "you wouldn't be for cuttin' it wid
dat ar great heavy knife! Smash all down--spile all de pretty rise
of it. Here, I've got a thin old knife, I keeps sharp a purpose.
Dar now, see! comes apart light as a feather! Now eat away--you
won't get anything to beat dat ar."

"Tom Lincon says," said George, speaking with his mouth full,
"that their Jinny is a better cook than you."

"Dem Lincons an't much count, no way!" said Aunt Chloe,
contemptuously; "I mean, set along side _our_ folks. They 's
'spectable folks enough in a kinder plain way; but, as to gettin'
up anything in style, they don't begin to have a notion on 't.
Set Mas'r Lincon, now, alongside Mas'r Shelby! Good Lor! and Missis
Lincon,--can she kinder sweep it into a room like my missis,--so
kinder splendid, yer know! O, go way! don't tell me nothin' of
dem Lincons!"--and Aunt Chloe tossed her head as one who hoped she
did know something of the world.

"Well, though, I've heard you say," said George, "that
Jinny was a pretty fair cook."

"So I did," said Aunt Chloe,--"I may say dat. Good, plain,
common cookin', Jinny'll do;--make a good pone o' bread,--bile
her taters _far_,--her corn cakes isn't extra, not extra now,
Jinny's corn cakes isn't, but then they's far,--but, Lor, come
to de higher branches, and what _can_ she do? Why, she makes
pies--sartin she does; but what kinder crust? Can she make
your real flecky paste, as melts in your mouth, and lies all up
like a puff? Now, I went over thar when Miss Mary was gwine to be
married, and Jinny she jest showed me de weddin' pies. Jinny and
I is good friends, ye know. I never said nothin'; but go 'long,
Mas'r George! Why, I shouldn't sleep a wink for a week, if I had
a batch of pies like dem ar. Why, dey wan't no 'count 't all."

"I suppose Jinny thought they were ever so nice," said George.

"Thought so!--didn't she? Thar she was, showing em, as
innocent--ye see, it's jest here, Jinny _don't know_. Lor, the
family an't nothing! She can't be spected to know! 'Ta'nt no fault
o' hem. Ah, Mas'r George, you doesn't know half 'your privileges
in yer family and bringin' up!" Here Aunt Chloe sighed, and rolled
up her eyes with emotion.

"I'm sure, Aunt Chloe, I understand I my pie and pudding
privileges," said George. "Ask Tom Lincon if I don't crow over
him, every time I meet him."

Aunt Chloe sat back in her chair, and indulged in a hearty
guffaw of laughter, at this witticism of young Mas'r's, laughing
till the tears rolled down her black, shining cheeks, and varying
the exercise with playfully slapping and poking Mas'r Georgey, and
telling him to go way, and that he was a case--that he was fit to
kill her, and that he sartin would kill her, one of these days;
and, between each of these sanguinary predictions, going off into
a laugh, each longer and stronger than the other, till George really
began to think that he was a very dangerously witty fellow, and
that it became him to be careful how he talked "as funny as he could."

"And so ye telled Tom, did ye? O, Lor! what young uns will be up ter!
Ye crowed over Tom? O, Lor! Mas'r George, if ye wouldn't make a
hornbug laugh!"

"Yes," said George, "I says to him, `Tom, you ought to see
some of Aunt Chloe's pies; they're the right sort,' says I."

"Pity, now, Tom couldn't," said Aunt Chloe, on whose
benevolent heart the idea of Tom's benighted condition seemed to
make a strong impression. "Ye oughter just ask him here to dinner,
some o' these times, Mas'r George," she added; "it would look quite
pretty of ye. Ye know, Mas'r George, ye oughtenter feel 'bove
nobody, on 'count yer privileges, 'cause all our privileges is gi'n
to us; we ought al'ays to 'member that," said Aunt Chloe, looking
quite serious.

"Well, I mean to ask Tom here, some day next week," said George;
"and you do your prettiest, Aunt Chloe, and we'll make him stare.
Won't we make him eat so he won't get over it for a fortnight?"

"Yes, yes--sartin," said Aunt Chloe, delighted;

"you'll see. Lor! to think of some of our dinners! Yer mind
dat ar great chicken pie I made when we guv de dinner to
General Knox? I and Missis, we come pretty near quarrelling about
dat ar crust. What does get into ladies sometimes, I don't know;
but, sometimes, when a body has de heaviest kind o' 'sponsibility
on 'em, as ye may say, and is all kinder _`seris'_ and taken up,
dey takes dat ar time to be hangin' round and kinder interferin'!
Now, Missis, she wanted me to do dis way, and she wanted me to do
dat way; and, finally, I got kinder sarcy, and, says I, `Now,
Missis, do jist look at dem beautiful white hands o' yourn with
long fingers, and all a sparkling with rings, like my white lilies
when de dew 's on 'em; and look at my great black stumpin hands.
Now, don't ye think dat de Lord must have meant _me_ to make de
pie-crust, and you to stay in de parlor? Dar! I was jist so sarcy,
Mas'r George."

"And what did mother say?" said George.

"Say?--why, she kinder larfed in her eyes--dem great handsome
eyes o' hern; and, says she, `Well, Aunt Chloe, I think you are
about in the right on 't,' says she; and she went off in de parlor.
She oughter cracked me over de head for bein' so sarcy; but dar's
whar 't is--I can't do nothin' with ladies in de kitchen!"

"Well, you made out well with that dinner,--I remember
everybody said so," said George.

"Didn't I? And wan't I behind de dinin'-room door dat bery
day? and didn't I see de General pass his plate three times for
some more dat bery pie?--and, says he, `You must have an uncommon
cook, Mrs. Shelby.' Lor! I was fit to split myself.

"And de Gineral, he knows what cookin' is," said Aunt Chloe,
drawing herself up with an air. "Bery nice man, de Gineral!
He comes of one of de bery _fustest_ families in Old Virginny!
He knows what's what, now, as well as I do--de Gineral. Ye see,
there's _pints_ in all pies, Mas'r George; but tan't everybody
knows what they is, or as orter be. But the Gineral, he knows; I
knew by his 'marks he made. Yes, he knows what de pints is!"

By this time, Master George had arrived at that pass to which
even a boy can come (under uncommon circumstances, when he really
could not eat another morsel), and, therefore, he was at leisure
to notice the pile of woolly heads and glistening eyes which
were regarding their operations hungrily from the opposite corner.

"Here, you Mose, Pete," he said, breaking off liberal bits,
and throwing it at them; "you want some, don't you? Come, Aunt
Chloe, bake them some cakes."

And George and Tom moved to a comfortable seat in the chimney-corner,
while Aunte Chloe, after baking a goodly pile of cakes, took her
baby on her lap, and began alternately filling its mouth and her
own, and distributing to Mose and Pete, who seemed rather to prefer
eating theirs as they rolled about on the floor under the table,
tickling each other, and occasionally pulling the baby's toes.

"O! go long, will ye?" said the mother, giving now and then
a kick, in a kind of general way, under the table, when the movement
became too obstreperous. "Can't ye be decent when white folks
comes to see ye? Stop dat ar, now, will ye? Better mind yerselves,
or I'll take ye down a button-hole lower, when Mas'r George is gone!

What meaning was couched under this terrible threat, it is
difficult to say; but certain it is that its awful indistinctness
seemed to produce very little impression on the young
sinners addressed.

"La, now!" said Uncle Tom, "they are so full of tickle all
the while, they can't behave theirselves."

Here the boys emerged from under the table, and, with hands
and faces well plastered with molasses, began a vigorous kissing
of the baby.

"Get along wid ye!" said the mother, pushing away their
woolly heads. "Ye'll all stick together, and never get clar, if
ye do dat fashion. Go long to de spring and wash yerselves!" she
said, seconding her exhortations by a slap, which resounded very
formidably, but which seemed only to knock out so much more laugh
from the young ones, as they tumbled precipitately over each other
out of doors, where they fairly screamed with merriment.

"Did ye ever see such aggravating young uns?" said Aunt
Chloe, rather complacently, as, producing an old towel, kept for
such emergencies, she poured a little water out of the cracked
tea-pot on it, and began rubbing off the molasses from the baby's
face and hands; and, having polished her till she shone, she set
her down in Tom's lap, while she busied herself in clearing away
supper. The baby employed the intervals in pulling Tom's nose,
scratching his face, and burying her fat hands in his woolly hair,
which last operation seemed to afford her special content.

"Aint she a peart young un?" said Tom, holding her from
him to take a full-length view; then, getting up, he set her on
his broad shoulder, and began capering and dancing with her, while
Mas'r George snapped at her with his pocket-handkerchief, and Mose
and Pete, now returned again, roared after her like bears, till Aunt
Chloe declared that they "fairly took her head off" with their noise.
As, according to her own statement, this surgical operation
was a matter of daily occurrence in the cabin, the declaration no
whit abated the merriment, till every one had roared and tumbled
and danced themselves down to a state of composure.

"Well, now, I hopes you're done," said Aunt Chloe, who had been
busy in pulling out a rude box of a trundle-bed; "and now, you
Mose and you Pete, get into thar; for we's goin' to have the meetin'."

"O mother, we don't wanter. We wants to sit up to
meetin',--meetin's is so curis. We likes 'em."

"La, Aunt Chloe, shove it under, and let 'em sit up," said
Mas'r George, decisively, giving a push to the rude machine.

Aunt Chloe, having thus saved appearances, seemed highly
delighted to push the thing under, saying, as she did so, "Well,
mebbe 't will do 'em some good."

The house now resolved itself into a committee of the whole,
to consider the accommodations and arrangements for the meeting.

"What we's to do for cheers, now, _I_ declar I don't know,"
said Aunt Chloe. As the meeting had been held at Uncle Tom's
weekly, for an indefinite length of time, without any more "cheers,"
there seemed some encouragement to hope that a way would be discovered
at present.

"Old Uncle Peter sung both de legs out of dat oldest cheer,
last week," suggested Mose.

"You go long! I'll boun' you pulled 'em out; some o' your
shines," said Aunt Chloe.

"Well, it'll stand, if it only keeps jam up agin de wall!"
said Mose.

"Den Uncle Peter mus'n't sit in it, cause he al'ays hitches
when he gets a singing. He hitched pretty nigh across de room, t'
other night," said Pete.

"Good Lor! get him in it, then," said Mose, "and den he'd begin,
`Come saints --and sinners, hear me tell,' and den down he'd
go,"--and Mose imitated precisely the nasal tones of the old man,
tumbling on the floor, to illustrate the supposed catastrophe.

"Come now, be decent, can't ye?" said Aunt Chloe; "an't
yer shamed?"

Mas'r George, however, joined the offender in the laugh, and
declared decidedly that Mose was a "buster." So the maternal
admonition seemed rather to fail of effect.

"Well, ole man," said Aunt Chloe, "you'll have to tote in
them ar bar'ls."

"Mother's bar'ls is like dat ar widder's, Mas'r George was
reading 'bout, in de good book,--dey never fails," said Mose, aside
to Peter.

"I'm sure one on 'em caved in last week," said Pete, "and
let 'em all down in de middle of de singin'; dat ar was failin',
warnt it?"

During this aside between Mose and Pete, two empty casks
had been rolled into the cabin, and being secured from rolling, by
stones on each side, boards were laid across them, which arrangement,
together with the turning down of certain tubs and pails, and the
disposing of the rickety chairs, at last completed the preparation.

"Mas'r George is such a beautiful reader, now, I know he'll
stay to read for us," said Aunt Chloe; "'pears like 't will be so
much more interestin'."

George very readily consented, for your boy is always ready
for anything that makes him of importance.

The room was soon filled with a motley assemblage, from the
old gray-headed patriarch of eighty, to the young girl and lad
of fifteen. A little harmless gossip ensued on various themes,
such as where old Aunt Sally got her new red headkerchief, and how
"Missis was a going to give Lizzy that spotted muslin gown, when
she'd got her new berage made up;" and how Mas'r Shelby was thinking
of buying a new sorrel colt, that was going to prove an addition
to the glories of the place. A few of the worshippers belonged to
families hard by, who had got permission to attend, and who brought
in various choice scraps of information, about the sayings and
doings at the house and on the place, which circulated as freely
as the same sort of small change does in higher circles.

After a while the singing commenced, to the evident delight
of all present. Not even all the disadvantage of nasal intonation
could prevent the effect of the naturally fine voices, in airs at
once wild and spirited. The words were sometimes the well-known
and common hymns sung in the churches about, and sometimes of a
wilder, more indefinite character, picked up at camp-meetings.

The chorus of one of them, which ran as follows, was sung
with great energy and unction:

_"Die on the field of battle,
Die on the field of battle,
Glory in my soul."_

 

Another special favorite had oft repeated the words--

_"O, I'm going to glory,--won't you come along with me?
Don't you see the angels beck'ning, and a calling me away?
Don't you see the golden city and the everlasting day?"_

 

There were others, which made incessant mention of "Jordan's
banks," and "Canaan's fields," and the "New Jerusalem;" for the
negro mind, impassioned and imaginative, always attaches itself
to hymns and expressions of a vivid and pictorial nature; and,
as they sung, some laughed, and some cried, and some clapped hands,
or shook hands rejoicingly with each other, as if they had fairly
gained the other side of the river.

Various exhortations, or relations of experience, followed, and
intermingled with the singing. One old gray-headed woman, long
past work, but much revered as a sort of chronicle of the past,
rose, and leaning on her staff, said--"Well, chil'en! Well, I'm
mighty glad to hear ye all and see ye all once more, 'cause I
don't know when I'll be gone to glory; but I've done got ready,
chil'en; 'pears like I'd got my little bundle all tied up, and my
bonnet on, jest a waitin' for the stage to come along and take me
home; sometimes, in the night, I think I hear the wheels a rattlin',
and I'm lookin' out all the time; now, you jest be ready too, for
I tell ye all, chil'en," she said striking her staff hard on the
floor, "dat ar _glory_ is a mighty thing! It's a mighty thing,
chil'en,--you don'no nothing about it,--it's _wonderful_." And the
old creature sat down, with streaming tears, as wholly overcome,
while the whole circle struck up--

_"O Canaan, bright Canaan
I'm bound for the land of Canaan."_

Mas'r George, by request, read the last chapters of Revelation,
often interrupted by such exclamations as "The _sakes_ now!"
"Only hear that!" "Jest think on 't!" "Is all that a comin'
sure enough?"

George, who was a bright boy, and well trained in religious
things by his mother, finding himself an object of general admiration,
threw in expositions of his own, from time to time, with a commendable
seriousness and gravity, for which he was admired by the young and
blessed by the old; and it was agreed, on all hands, that "a minister
couldn't lay it off better than he did; that "'t was reely 'mazin'!"

Uncle Tom was a sort of patriarch in religious matters, in
the neighborhood. Having, naturally, an organization in which the
_morale_ was strongly predominant, together with a greater breadth
and cultivation of mind than obtained among his companions, he was
looked up to with great respect, as a sort of minister among them;
and the simple, hearty, sincere style of his exhortations might
have edified even better educated persons. But it was in prayer
that he especially excelled. Nothing could exceed the touching
simplicity, the childlike earnestness, of his prayer, enriched with
the language of Scripture, which seemed so entirely to have wrought
itself into his being, as to have become a part of himself, and to
drop from his lips unconsciously; in the language of a pious old
negro, he "prayed right up." And so much did his prayer always work
on the devotional feelings of his audiences, that there seemed
often a danger that it would be lost altogether in the abundance
of the responses which broke out everywhere around him.

 

While this scene was passing in the cabin of the man, one
quite otherwise passed in the halls of the master.

The trader and Mr. Shelby were seated together in the dining room
afore-named, at a table covered with papers and writing utensils.

Mr. Shelby was busy in counting some bundles of bills, which,
as they were counted, he pushed over to the trader, who
counted them likewise.

"All fair," said the trader; "and now for signing these yer."

Mr. Shelby hastily drew the bills of sale towards him, and
signed them, like a man that hurries over some disagreeable business,
and then pushed them over with the money. Haley produced, from a
well-worn valise, a parchment, which, after looking over it a
moment, he handed to Mr. Shelby, who took it with a gesture of
suppressed eagerness.

"Wal, now, the thing's _done_!" said the trader, getting up.

"It's _done_!" said Mr. Shelby, in a musing tone; and,
fetching a long breath, he repeated, _"It's done!"_

"Yer don't seem to feel much pleased with it, 'pears to me,"
said the trader.

"Haley," said Mr. Shelby, "I hope you'll remember that you
promised, on your honor, you wouldn't sell Tom, without knowing
what sort of hands he's going into."

"Why, you've just done it sir," said the trader.

"Circumstances, you well know, _obliged_ me," said Shelby, haughtily.

"Wal, you know, they may 'blige _me_, too," said the trader.
"Howsomever, I'll do the very best I can in gettin' Tom a good
berth; as to my treatin' on him bad, you needn't be a grain afeard.
If there's anything that I thank the Lord for, it is that I'm never
noways cruel."

After the expositions which the trader had previously given
of his humane principles, Mr. Shelby did not feel particularly
reassured by these declarations; but, as they were the best comfort
the case admitted of, he allowed the trader to depart in silence,
and betook himself to a solitary cigar.

 

 

CHAPTER V

Showing the Feelings of Living Property on Changing Owners

 

Mr. and Mrs. Shelby had retired to their apartment for
the night. He was lounging in a large easy-chair, looking over
some letters that had come in the afternoon mail, and she was
standing before her mirror, brushing out the complicated braids
and curls in which Eliza had arranged her hair; for, noticing her
pale cheeks and haggard eyes, she had excused her attendance that
night, and ordered her to bed. The employment, naturally enough,
suggested her conversation with the girl in the morning; and turning
to her husband, she said, carelessly,

"By the by, Arthur, who was that low-bred fellow that you
lugged in to our dinner-table today?"

"Haley is his name," said Shelby, turning himself rather uneasily
in his chair, and continuing with his eyes fixed on a letter.

"Haley! Who is he, and what may be his business here, pray?"

"Well, he's a man that I transacted some business with,
last time I was at Natchez," said Mr. Shelby.

"And he presumed on it to make himself quite at home, and
call and dine here, ay?"

"Why, I invited him; I had some accounts with him," said Shelby.

"Is he a negro-trader?" said Mrs. Shelby, noticing a certain
embarrassment in her husband's manner.

"Why, my dear, what put that into your head?" said Shelby,
looking up.

"Nothing,--only Eliza came in here, after dinner, in a great
worry, crying and taking on, and said you were talking with
a trader, and that she heard him make an offer for her boy--the
ridiculous little goose!"

"She did, hey?" said Mr. Shelby, returning to his paper, which
he seemed for a few moments quite intent upon, not perceiving
that he was holding it bottom upwards.

"It will have to come out," said he, mentally; "as well
now as ever."

"I told Eliza," said Mrs. Shelby, as she continued brushing
her hair, "that she was a little fool for her pains, and that you
never had anything to do with that sort of persons. Of course, I
knew you never meant to sell any of our people,--least of all, to
such a fellow."

"Well, Emily," said her husband, "so I have always felt and
said; but the fact is that my business lies so that I cannot
get on without. I shall have to sell some of my hands."

"To that creature? Impossible! Mr. Shelby, you cannot be serious."

"I'm sorry to say that I am," said Mr. Shelby. "I've agreed
to sell Tom."

"What! our Tom?--that good, faithful creature!--been your
faithful servant from a boy! O, Mr. Shelby!--and you have promised
him his freedom, too,--you and I have spoken to him a hundred times
of it. Well, I can believe anything now,--I can believe _now_ that
you could sell little Harry, poor Eliza's only child!" said Mrs.
Shelby, in a tone between grief and indignation.

"Well, since you must know all, it is so. I have agreed to sell
Tom and Harry both; and I don't know why I am to be rated,
as if I were a monster, for doing what every one does every day."

"But why, of all others, choose these?" said Mrs. Shelby.
"Why sell them, of all on the place, if you must sell at all?"

"Because they will bring the highest sum of any,--that's why.
I could choose another, if you say so. The fellow made me
a high bid on Eliza, if that would suit you any better,"
said Mr. Shelby.

"The wretch!" said Mrs. Shelby, vehemently.

"Well, I didn't listen to it, a moment,--out of regard to
your feelings, I wouldn't;--so give me some credit."

"My dear," said Mrs. Shelby, recollecting herself, "forgive me.
I have been hasty. I was surprised, and entirely unprepared for
this;--but surely you will allow me to intercede for these poor
creatures. Tom is a noble-hearted, faithful fellow, if he is black.
I do believe, Mr. Shelby, that if he were put to it, he would lay
down his life for you."

"I know it,--I dare say;--but what's the use of all this?--I
can't help myself."

"Why not make a pecuniary sacrifice? I'm willing to bear
my part of the inconvenience. O, Mr. Shelby, I have tried--tried
most faithfully, as a Christian woman should--to do my duty to
these poor, simple, dependent creatures. I have cared for them,
instructed them, watched over them, and know all their little cares
and joys, for years; and how can I ever hold up my head again among
them, if, for the sake of a little paltry gain, we sell such a
faithful, excellent, confiding creature as poor Tom, and tear from
him in a moment all we have taught him to love and value? I have
taught them the duties of the family, of parent and child, and
husband and wife; and how can I bear to have this open acknowledgment
that we care for no tie, no duty, no relation, however sacred,
compared with money? I have talked with Eliza about her boy--her
duty to him as a Christian mother, to watch over him, pray for him,
and bring him up in a Christian way; and now what can I say, if
you tear him away, and sell him, soul and body, to a profane,
unprincipled man, just to save a little money? I have told her
that one soul is worth more than all the money in the world; and
how will she believe me when she sees us turn round and sell her
child?--sell him, perhaps, to certain ruin of body and soul!"

"I'm sorry you feel so about it,--indeed I am," said Mr.
Shelby; "and I respect your feelings, too, though I don't pretend
to share them to their full extent; but I tell you now, solemnly,
it's of no use--I can't help myself. I didn't mean to tell you
this Emily; but, in plain words, there is no choice between selling
these two and selling everything. Either they must go, or _all_
must. Haley has come into possession of a mortgage, which, if I
don't clear off with him directly, will take everything before it.
I've raked, and scraped, and borrowed, and all but begged,--and
the price of these two was needed to make up the balance, and I
had to give them up. Haley fancied the child; he agreed to settle
the matter that way, and no other. I was in his power, and _had_
to do it. If you feel so to have them sold, would it be any better
to have _all_ sold?"

Mrs. Shelby stood like one stricken. Finally, turning to her
toilet, she rested her face in her hands, and gave a sort of groan.

"This is God's curse on slavery!--a bitter, bitter, most
accursed thing!--a curse to the master and a curse to the slave!
I was a fool to think I could make anything good out of such a
deadly evil. It is a sin to hold a slave under laws like ours,--I
always felt it was,--I always thought so when I was a girl,--I
thought so still more after I joined the church; but I thought I
could gild it over,--I thought, by kindness, and care, and instruction,
I could make the condition of mine better than freedom--fool that
I was!"

"Why, wife, you are getting to be an abolitionist, quite."

"Abolitionist! if they knew all I know about slavery, they
_might_ talk! We don't need them to tell us; you know I never
thought that slavery was right--never felt willing to own slaves."

"Well, therein you differ from many wise and pious men," said
Mr. Shelby. "You remember Mr. B.'s sermon, the other Sunday?"

"I don't want to hear such sermons; I never wish to hear
Mr. B. in our church again. Ministers can't help the evil,
perhaps,--can't cure it, any more than we can,--but defend it!--it
always went against my common sense. And I think you didn't think
much of that sermon, either."

"Well," said Shelby, "I must say these ministers sometimes
carry matters further than we poor sinners would exactly dare to
do. We men of the world must wink pretty hard at various things,
and get used to a deal that isn't the exact thing. But we don't
quite fancy, when women and ministers come out broad and square,
and go beyond us in matters of either modesty or morals, that's a
fact. But now, my dear, I trust you see the necessity of the thing,
and you see that I have done the very best that circumstances would
allow."

"O yes, yes!" said Mrs. Shelby, hurriedly and abstractedly
fingering her gold watch,--"I haven't any jewelry of any amount,"
she added, thoughtfully; "but would not this watch do something?--it
was an expensive one, when it was bought. If I could only at least
save Eliza's child, I would sacrifice anything I have."

"I'm sorry, very sorry, Emily," said Mr. Shelby, "I'm sorry
this takes hold of you so; but it will do no good. The fact is,
Emily, the thing's done; the bills of sale are already signed, and
in Haley's hands; and you must be thankful it is no worse. That man
has had it in his power to ruin us all,--and now he is fairly off.
If you knew the man as I do, you'd think that we had had a
narrow escape."

"Is he so hard, then?"

"Why, not a cruel man, exactly, but a man of leather,--a man alive
to nothing but trade and profit,--cool, and unhesitating, and
unrelenting, as death and the grave. He'd sell his own mother at
a good per centage--not wishing the old woman any harm, either."

"And this wretch owns that good, faithful Tom, and Eliza's child!"

"Well, my dear, the fact is that this goes rather hard with me;
it's a thing I hate to think of. Haley wants to drive matters,
and take possession tomorrow. I'm going to get out my horse bright
and early, and be off. I can't see Tom, that's a fact; and you
had better arrange a drive somewhere, and carry Eliza off. Let the
thing be done when she is out of sight."

"No, no," said Mrs. Shelby; "I'll be in no sense accomplice
or help in this cruel business. I'll go and see poor old Tom, God
help him, in his distress! They shall see, at any rate, that their
mistress can feel for and with them. As to Eliza, I dare not think
about it. The Lord forgive us! What have we done, that this cruel
necessity should come on us?"

There was one listener to this conversation whom Mr. and
Mrs. Shelby little suspected.

Communicating with their apartment was a large closet, opening
by a door into the outer passage. When Mrs. Shelby had dismissed
Eliza for the night, her feverish and excited mind had suggested
the idea of this closet; and she had hidden herself there, and,
with her ear pressed close against the crack of the door, had
lost not a word of the conversation.

When the voices died into silence, she rose and crept
stealthily away. Pale, shivering, with rigid features and compressed
lips, she looked an entirely altered being from the soft and timid
creature she had been hitherto. She moved cautiously along the
entry, paused one moment at her mistress' door, and raised her
hands in mute appeal to Heaven, and then turned and glided
into her own room. It was a quiet, neat apartment, on the same
floor with her mistress. There was a pleasant sunny window, where
she had often sat singing at her sewing; there a little case of
books, and various little fancy articles, ranged by them, the gifts
of Christmas holidays; there was her simple wardrobe in the closet
and in the drawers:--here was, in short, her home; and, on the
whole, a happy one it had been to her. But there, on the bed, lay
her slumbering boy, his long curls falling negligently around his
unconscious face, his rosy mouth half open, his little fat hands
thrown out over the bedclothes, and a smile spread like a sunbeam
over his whole face.

"Poor boy! poor fellow!" said Eliza; "they have sold you!
but your mother will save you yet!"

No tear dropped over that pillow; in such straits as these,
the heart has no tears to give,--it drops only blood, bleeding
itself away in silence. She took a piece of paper and a pencil,
and wrote, hastily,

"O, Missis! dear Missis! don't think me ungrateful,--don't think
hard of me, any way,--I heard all you and master said tonight.
I am going to try to save my boy--you will not blame me! God bless
and reward you for all your kindness!"

Hastily folding and directing this, she went to a drawer
and made up a little package of clothing for her boy, which she
tied with a handkerchief firmly round her waist; and, so fond is
a mother's remembrance, that, even in the terrors of that hour,
she did not forget to put in the little package one or two of his
favorite toys, reserving a gayly painted parrot to amuse him, when
she should be called on to awaken him. It was some trouble to
arouse the little sleeper; but, after some effort, he sat up, and
was playing with his bird, while his mother was putting on her
bonnet and shawl.

"Where are you going, mother?" said he, as she drew near
the bed, with his little coat and cap.

His mother drew near, and looked so earnestly into his eyes,
that he at once divined that something unusual was the matter.

"Hush, Harry," she said; "mustn't speak loud, or they will
hear us. A wicked man was coming to take little Harry away from
his mother, and carry him 'way off in the dark; but mother won't
let him--she's going to put on her little boy's cap and coat, and
run off with him, so the ugly man can't catch him."

Saying these words, she had tied and buttoned on the child's
simple outfit, and, taking him in her arms, she whispered to him
to be very still; and, opening a door in her room which led into
the outer verandah, she glided noiselessly out.

It was a sparkling, frosty, starlight night, and the mother
wrapped the shawl close round her child, as, perfectly quiet with
vague terror, he clung round her neck.

Old Bruno, a great Newfoundland, who slept at the end of
the porch, rose, with a low growl, as she came near. She gently
spoke his name, and the animal, an old pet and playmate of hers,
instantly, wagging his tail, prepared to follow her, though apparently
revolving much, in this simple dog's head, what such an indiscreet
midnight promenade might mean. Some dim ideas of imprudence or
impropriety in the measure seemed to embarrass him considerably;
for he often stopped, as Eliza glided forward, and looked wistfully,
first at her and then at the house, and then, as if reassured by
reflection, he pattered along after her again. A few minutes
brought them to the window of Uncle Tom's cottage, and Eliza
stopping, tapped lightly on the window-pane.

The prayer-meeting at Uncle Tom's had, in the order of
hymn-singing, been protracted to a very late hour; and, as Uncle
Tom had indulged himself in a few lengthy solos afterwards, the
consequence was, that, although it was now between twelve and
one o'clock, he and his worthy helpmeet were not yet asleep.

"Good Lord! what's that?" said Aunt Chloe, starting up and
hastily drawing the curtain. "My sakes alive, if it an't Lizy!
Get on your clothes, old man, quick!--there's old Bruno, too, a
pawin round; what on airth! I'm gwine to open the door."

And suiting the action to the word, the door flew open, and
the light of the tallow candle, which Tom had hastily lighted,
fell on the haggard face and dark, wild eyes of the fugitive.

"Lord bless you!--I'm skeered to look at ye, Lizy! Are ye
tuck sick, or what's come over ye?"

"I'm running away--Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe--carrying off
my child--Master sold him!"

"Sold him?" echoed both, lifting up their hands in dismay.

"Yes, sold him!" said Eliza, firmly; "I crept into the closet
by Mistress' door tonight, and I heard Master tell Missis that
he had sold my Harry, and you, Uncle Tom, both, to a trader;
and that he was going off this morning on his horse, and that the
man was to take possession today."

Tom had stood, during this speech, with his hands raised, and
his eyes dilated, like a man in a dream. Slowly and gradually,
as its meaning came over him, he collapsed, rather than seated
himself, on his old chair, and sunk his head down upon his knees.

"The good Lord have pity on us!" said Aunt Chloe. "O! it don't
seem as if it was true! What has he done, that Mas'r should
sell _him_?"

"He hasn't done anything,--it isn't for that. Master don't
want to sell, and Missis she's always good. I heard her plead and
beg for us; but he told her 't was no use; that he was in this
man's debt, and that this man had got the power over him; and that
if he didn't pay him off clear, it would end in his having to sell
the place and all the people, and move off. Yes, I heard him say
there was no choice between selling these two and selling all, the
man was driving him so hard. Master said he was sorry; but oh,
Missis--you ought to have heard her talk! If she an't a Christian
and an angel, there never was one. I'm a wicked girl to leave her
so; but, then, I can't help it. She said, herself, one soul was
worth more than the world; and this boy has a soul, and if I let
him be carried off, who knows what'll become of it? It must be
right: but, if it an't right, the Lord forgive me, for I can't help
doing it!"

"Well, old man!" said Aunt Chloe, "why don't you go, too?
Will you wait to be toted down river, where they kill niggers with
hard work and starving? I'd a heap rather die than go there, any
day! There's time for ye,--be off with Lizy,--you've got a pass to
come and go any time. Come, bustle up, and I'll get your things
together."

Tom slowly raised his head, and looked sorrowfully but
quietly around, and said,

"No, no--I an't going. Let Eliza go--it's her right! I wouldn't
be the one to say no--'tan't in _natur_ for her to stay; but
you heard what she said! If I must be sold, or all the people
on the place, and everything go to rack, why, let me be sold.
I s'pose I can b'ar it as well as any on 'em," he added, while
something like a sob and a sigh shook his broad, rough chest
convulsively. "Mas'r always found me on the spot--he always will.
I never have broke trust, nor used my pass no ways contrary to my
word, and I never will. It's better for me alone to go, than to
break up the place and sell all. Mas'r an't to blame, Chloe, and
he'll take care of you and the poor--"

Here he turned to the rough trundle bed full of little woolly
heads, and broke fairly down. He leaned over the back of the
chair, and covered his face with his large hands. Sobs, heavy,
hoarse and loud, shook the chair, and great tears fell through his
fingers on the floor; just such tears, sir, as you dropped into
the coffin where lay your first-born son; such tears, woman, as
you shed when you heard the cries of your dying babe. For, sir,
he was a man,--and you are but another man. And, woman, though
dressed in silk and jewels, you are but a woman, and, in life's
great straits and mighty griefs, ye feel but one sorrow!

"And now," said Eliza, as she stood in the door, "I saw my
husband only this afternoon, and I little knew then what was to
come. They have pushed him to the very last standing place, and
he told me, today, that he was going to run away. Do try, if you
can, to get word to him. Tell him how I went, and why I went; and
tell him I'm going to try and find Canada. You must give my love
to him, and tell him, if I never see him again," she turned away,
and stood with her back to them for a moment, and then added, in
a husky voice, "tell him to be as good as he can, and try and meet
me in the kingdom of heaven."

"Call Bruno in there," she added. "Shut the door on him,
poor beast! He mustn't go with me!"

A few last words and tears, a few simple adieus and blessings,
and clasping her wondering and affrighted child in her arms, she
glided noiselessly away.

 

 

CHAPTER VI

Discovery

 

Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, after their protracted discussion of the
night before, did not readily sink to repose, and, in consequence,
slept somewhat later than usual, the ensuing morning.

"I wonder what keeps Eliza," said Mrs. Shelby, after giving
her bell repeated pulls, to no purpose.

Mr. Shelby was standing before his dressing-glass, sharpening
his razor; and just then the door opened, and a colored boy entered,
with his shaving-water.

"Andy," said his mistress, "step to Eliza's door, and tell
her I have rung for her three times. Poor thing!" she added, to
herself, with a sigh.

Andy soon returned, with eyes very wide in astonishment.

"Lor, Missis! Lizy's drawers is all open, and her things all
lying every which way; and I believe she's just done clared out!"

The truth flashed upon Mr. Shelby and his wife at the same moment.
He exclaimed,

"Then she suspected it, and she's off!"

"The Lord be thanked!" said Mrs. Shelby. "I trust she is."

"Wife, you talk like a fool! Really, it will be something
pretty awkward for me, if she is. Haley saw that I hesitated about
selling this child, and he'll think I connived at it, to get him out
of the way. It touches my honor!" And Mr. Shelby left the room hastily.

There was great running and ejaculating, and opening and
shutting of doors, and appearance of faces in all shades of color
in different places, for about a quarter of an hour. One person
only, who might have shed some light on the matter, was entirely
silent, and that was the head cook, Aunt Chloe. Silently, and with
a heavy cloud settled down over her once joyous face, she proceeded
making out her breakfast biscuits, as if she heard and saw nothing
of the excitement around her.

Very soon, about a dozen young imps were roosting, like so
many crows, on the verandah railings, each one determined to be
the first one to apprize the strange Mas'r of his ill luck.

"He'll be rael mad, I'll be bound," said Andy.

"_Won't_ he swar!" said little black Jake.

"Yes, for he _does_ swar," said woolly-headed Mandy. "I hearn
him yesterday, at dinner. I hearn all about it then, 'cause
I got into the closet where Missis keeps the great jugs, and I
hearn every word." And Mandy, who had never in her life thought of
the meaning of a word she had heard, more than a black cat, now
took airs of superior wisdom, and strutted about, forgetting to
state that, though actually coiled up among the jugs at the time
specified, she had been fast asleep all the time.

When, at last, Haley appeared, booted and spurred, he was
saluted with the bad tidings on every hand. The young imps on the
verandah were not disappointed in their hope of hearing him "swar,"
which he did with a fluency and fervency which delighted them all
amazingly, as they ducked and dodged hither and thither, to be out
of the reach of his riding-whip; and, all whooping off together,
they tumbled, in a pile of immeasurable giggle, on the withered
turf under the verandah, where they kicked up their heels and shouted
to their full satisfaction.

"If I had the little devils!" muttered Haley, between his teeth.

"But you ha'nt got 'em, though!" said Andy, with a triumphant
flourish, and making a string of indescribable mouths at the
unfortunate trader's back, when he was fairly beyond hearing.

"I say now, Shelby, this yer 's a most extro'rnary business!"
said Haley, as he abruptly entered the parlor. "It seems that gal
's off, with her young un."

"Mr. Haley, Mrs. Shelby is present," said Mr. Shelby.

"I beg pardon, ma'am," said Haley, bowing slightly, with
a still lowering brow; "but still I say, as I said before, this
yer's a sing'lar report. Is it true, sir?"

"Sir," said Mr. Shelby, "if you wish to communicate with
me, you must observe something of the decorum of a gentleman.
Andy, take Mr. Haley's hat and riding-whip. Take a seat, sir.
Yes, sir; I regret to say that the young woman, excited by overhearing,
or having reported to her, something of this business, has taken
her child in the night, and made off."

"I did expect fair dealing in this matter, I confess," said Haley.

"Well, sir," said Mr. Shelby, turning sharply round upon him,
"what am I to understand by that remark? If any man calls my
honor in question, I have but one answer for him."

The trader cowered at this, and in a somewhat lower tone
said that "it was plaguy hard on a fellow, that had made a fair
bargain, to be gulled that way."

"Mr. Haley," said Mr. Shelby, "if I did not think you had
some cause for disappointment, I should not have borne from you
the rude and unceremonious style of your entrance into my parlor
this morning. I say thus much, however, since appearances call
for it, that I shall allow of no insinuations cast upon me, as if
I were at all partner to any unfairness in this matter. Moreover,
I shall feel bound to give you every assistance, in the use of
horses, servants, &c., in the recovery of your property. So, in
short, Haley," said he, suddenly dropping from the tone of dignified
coolness to his ordinary one of easy frankness, "the best way for
you is to keep good-natured and eat some breakfast, and we will
then see what is to be done."

Mrs. Shelby now rose, and said her engagements would prevent
her being at the breakfast-table that morning; and, deputing a very
respectable mulatto woman to attend to the gentlemen's coffee at
the side-board, she left the room.

"Old lady don't like your humble servant, over and above,"
said Haley, with an uneasy effort to be very familiar.

"I am not accustomed to hear my wife spoken of with such
freedom," said Mr. Shelby, dryly.

"Beg pardon; of course, only a joke, you know," said Haley,
forcing a laugh.

"Some jokes are less agreeable than others," rejoined Shelby.

"Devilish free, now I've signed those papers, cuss him!"
muttered Haley to himself; "quite grand, since yesterday!"

Never did fall of any prime minister at court occasion wider
surges of sensation than the report of Tom's fate among his
compeers on the place. It was the topic in every mouth, everywhere;
and nothing was done in the house or in the field, but to discuss
its probable results. Eliza's flight--an unprecedented event on
the place--was also a great accessory in stimulating the general
excitement.

Black Sam, as he was commonly called, from his being about
three shades blacker than any other son of ebony on the place, was
revolving the matter profoundly in all its phases and bearings,
with a comprehensiveness of vision and a strict lookout to his own
personal well-being, that would have done credit to any white
patriot in Washington.

"It's an ill wind dat blow nowhar,--dat ar a fact," said Sam,
sententiously, giving an additional hoist to his pantaloons,
and adroitly substituting a long nail in place of a missing
suspender-button, with which effort of mechanical genius he seemed
highly delighted.

"Yes, it's an ill wind blows nowhar," he repeated. "Now, dar,
Tom's down--wal, course der's room for some nigger to be
up--and why not dis nigger?--dat's de idee. Tom, a ridin' round
de country--boots blacked--pass in his pocket--all grand as
Cuffee--but who he? Now, why shouldn't Sam?--dat's what I want
to know."

"Halloo, Sam--O Sam! Mas'r wants you to cotch Bill and
Jerry," said Andy, cutting short Sam's soliloquy.

"High! what's afoot now, young un?"

"Why, you don't know, I s'pose, that Lizy's cut stick, and
clared out, with her young un?"

"You teach your granny!" said Sam, with infinite contempt;
"knowed it a heap sight sooner than you did; this nigger an't so
green, now!"

Well, anyhow, Mas'r wants Bill and Jerry geared right up;
and you and I 's to go with Mas'r Haley, to look arter her."

"Good, now! dat's de time o' day!" said Sam. "It's Sam
dat's called for in dese yer times. He's de nigger. See if I
don't cotch her, now; Mas'r'll see what Sam can do!"

"Ah! but, Sam," said Andy, "you'd better think twice; for
Missis don't want her cotched, and she'll be in yer wool."

"High!" said Sam, opening his eyes. "How you know dat?"

"Heard her say so, my own self, dis blessed mornin', when
I bring in Mas'r's shaving-water. She sent me to see why Lizy
didn't come to dress her; and when I telled her she was off,
she jest ris up, and ses she, `The Lord be praised;' and Mas'r,
he seemed rael mad, and ses he, `Wife, you talk like a fool.'
But Lor! she'll bring him to! I knows well enough how that'll
be,--it's allers best to stand Missis' side the fence, now
I tell yer."

Black Sam, upon this, scratched his woolly pate, which, if
it did not contain very profound wisdom, still contained a great
deal of a particular species much in demand among politicians of
all complexions and countries, and vulgarly denominated "knowing
which side the bread is buttered;" so, stopping with grave
consideration, he again gave a hitch to his pantaloons, which was
his regularly organized method of assisting his mental perplexities.

"Der an't no saying'--never--'bout no kind o' thing in _dis_
yer world," he said, at last. Sam spoke like a philosopher,
emphasizing _this_--as if he had had a large experience in different
sorts of worlds, and therefore had come to his conclusions advisedly.

"Now, sartin I'd a said that Missis would a scoured the
varsal world after Lizy," added Sam, thoughtfully.

"So she would," said Andy; "but can't ye see through a ladder,
ye black nigger? Missis don't want dis yer Mas'r Haley to get
Lizy's boy; dat's de go!"

"High!" said Sam, with an indescribable intonation, known
only to those who have heard it among the negroes.

"And I'll tell yer more 'n all," said Andy; "I specs you'd
better be making tracks for dem hosses,--mighty sudden, too,---for
I hearn Missis 'quirin' arter yer,--so you've stood foolin' long
enough."

Sam, upon this, began to bestir himself in real earnest,
and after a while appeared, bearing down gloriously towards the
house, with Bill and Jerry in a full canter, and adroitly throwing
himself off before they had any idea of stopping, he brought them
up alongside of the horse-post like a tornado. Haley's horse,
which was a skittish young colt, winced, and bounced, and
pulled hard at his halter.

"Ho, ho!" said Sam, "skeery, ar ye?" and his black visage
lighted up with a curious, mischievous gleam. "I'll fix ye now!"
said he.

There was a large beech-tree overshadowing the place, and
the small, sharp, triangular beech-nuts lay scattered thickly on
the ground. With one of these in his fingers, Sam approached the
colt, stroked and patted, and seemed apparently busy in soothing
his agitation. On pretence of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly
slipped under it the sharp little nut, in such a manner that the
least weight brought upon the saddle would annoy the nervous
sensibilities of the animal, without leaving any perceptible graze
or wound.

"Dar!" he said, rolling his eyes with an approving grin;
"me fix 'em!"

At this moment Mrs. Shelby appeared on the balcony, beckoning
to him. Sam approached with as good a determination to pay court
as did ever suitor after a vacant place at St. James' or Washington.

"Why have you been loitering so, Sam? I sent Andy to tell
you to hurry."

"Lord bless you, Missis!" said Sam, "horses won't be cotched
all in a mimit; they'd done clared out way down to the south pasture,
and the Lord knows whar!"

"Sam, how often must I tell you not to say `Lord bless you,
and the Lord knows,' and such things? It's wicked."

"O, Lord bless my soul! I done forgot, Missis! I won't say
nothing of de sort no more."

"Why, Sam, you just _have_ said it again."

"Did I? O, Lord! I mean--I didn't go fur to say it."

"You must be _careful_, Sam."

"Just let me get my breath, Missis, and I'll start fair.
I'll be bery careful."

"Well, Sam, you are to go with Mr. Haley, to show him the
road, and help him. Be careful of the horses, Sam; you know
Jerry was a little lame last week; _don't ride them too fast_."

Mrs. Shelby spoke the last words with a low voice, and
strong emphasis.

"Let dis child alone for dat!" said Sam, rolling up his eyes
with a volume of meaning. "Lord knows! High! Didn't say
dat!" said he, suddenly catching his breath, with a ludicrous
flourish of apprehension, which made his mistress laugh, spite
of herself. "Yes, Missis, I'll look out for de hosses!"

"Now, Andy," said Sam, returning to his stand under the
beech-trees, "you see I wouldn't be 't all surprised if dat ar
gen'lman's crittur should gib a fling, by and by, when he comes to
be a gettin' up. You know, Andy, critturs _will_ do such things;"
and therewith Sam poked Andy in the side, in a highly suggestive manner.

"High!" said Andy, with an air of instant appreciation.

"Yes, you see, Andy, Missis wants to make time,--dat ar's
clar to der most or'nary 'bserver. I jis make a little for her.
Now, you see, get all dese yer hosses loose, caperin' permiscus
round dis yer lot and down to de wood dar, and I spec Mas'r won't
be off in a hurry."

Andy grinned.

"Yer see," said Sam, "yer see, Andy, if any such thing should
happen as that Mas'r Haley's horse _should_ begin to act
contrary, and cut up, you and I jist lets go of our'n to help him,
and _we'll help him_--oh yes!" And Sam and Andy laid their heads
back on their shoulders, and broke into a low, immoderate laugh,
snapping their fingers and flourishing their heels with exquisite
delight.

At this instant, Haley appeared on the verandah. Somewhat
mollified by certain cups of very good coffee, he came out smiling
and talking, in tolerably restored humor. Sam and Andy, clawing
for certain fragmentary palm-leaves, which they were in the habit
of considering as hats, flew to the horseposts, to be ready to
"help Mas'r."

Sam's palm-leaf had been ingeniously disentangled from all
pretensions to braid, as respects its brim; and the slivers starting
apart, and standing upright, gave it a blazing air of freedom and
defiance, quite equal to that of any Fejee chief; while the whole
brim of Andy's being departed bodily, he rapped the crown on his
head with a dexterous thump, and looked about well pleased, as if
to say, "Who says I haven't got a hat?"

"Well, boys," said Haley, "look alive now; we must lose no time."

"Not a bit of him, Mas'r!" said Sam, putting Haley's rein
in his hand, and holding his stirrup, while Andy was untying the
other two horses.

The instant Haley touched the saddle, the mettlesome creature
bounded from the earth with a sudden spring, that threw his master
sprawling, some feet off, on the soft, dry turf. Sam, with frantic
ejaculations, made a dive at the reins, but only succeeded in
brushing the blazing palm-leaf afore-named into the horse's eyes,
which by no means tended to allay the confusion of his nerves.
So, with great vehemence, he overturned Sam, and, giving two or
three contemptuous snorts, flourished his heels vigorously in the
air, and was soon prancing away towards the lower end of the lawn,
followed by Bill and Jerry, whom Andy had not failed to let loose,
according to contract, speeding them off with various direful
ejaculations. And now ensued a miscellaneous scene of confusion.
Sam and Andy ran and shouted,--dogs barked here and there,--and
Mike, Mose, Mandy, Fanny, and all the smaller specimens on the
place, both male and female, raced, clapped hands, whooped, and
shouted, with outrageous officiousness and untiring zeal.

Haley's horse, which was a white one, and very fleet and spirited,
appeared to enter into the spirit of the scene with great gusto;
and having for his coursing ground a lawn of nearly half a mile
in extent, gently sloping down on every side into indefinite woodland,
he appeared to take infinite delight in seeing how near he could allow
his pursuers to approach him, and then, when within a hand's breadth,
whisk off with a start and a snort, like a mischievous beast as he was
and career far down into some alley of the wood-lot. Nothing was
further from Sam's mind than to have any one of the troop taken until
such season as should seem to him most befitting,--and the exertions
that he made were certainly most heroic. Like the sword of Coeur
De Lion, which always blazed in the front and thickest of the battle,
Sam's palm-leaf was to be seen everywhere when there was the least
danger that a horse could be caught; there he would bear down full
tilt, shouting, "Now for it! cotch him! cotch him!" in a way that
would set everything to indiscriminate rout in a moment.

Haley ran up and down, and cursed and swore and stamped
miscellaneously. Mr. Shelby in vain tried to shout directions from
the balcony, and Mrs. Shelby from her chamber window alternately
laughed and wondered,--not without some inkling of what lay at the
bottom of all this confusion.

At last, about twelve o'clock, Sam appeared triumphant,
mounted on Jerry, with Haley's horse by his side, reeking with
sweat, but with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, showing that
the spirit of freedom had not yet entirely subsided.

"He's cotched!" he exclaimed, triumphantly. "If 't hadn't been for
me, they might a bust themselves, all on 'em; but I cotched him!"

"You!" growled Haley, in no amiable mood. "If it hadn't
been for you, this never would have happened."

"Lord bless us, Mas'r," said Sam, in a tone of the deepest
concern, "and me that has been racin' and chasin' till the sweat
jest pours off me!"

"Well, well!" said Haley, "you've lost me near three hours,
with your cursed nonsense. Now let's be off, and have no
more fooling."

"Why, Mas'r," said Sam, in a deprecating tone, "I believe
you mean to kill us all clar, horses and all. Here we are all just
ready to drop down, and the critters all in a reek of sweat. Why,
Mas'r won't think of startin' on now till arter dinner. Mas'rs'
hoss wants rubben down; see how he splashed hisself; and Jerry
limps too; don't think Missis would be willin' to have us start
dis yer way, no how. Lord bless you, Mas'r, we can ketch up, if
we do stop. Lizy never was no great of a walker."

Mrs. Shelby, who, greatly to her amusement, had overheard
this conversation from the verandah, now resolved to do her part.
She came forward, and, courteously expressing her concern for
Haley's accident, pressed him to stay to dinner, saying that the
cook should bring it on the table immediately.

Thus, all things considered, Haley, with rather an equivocal
grace, proceeded to the parlor, while Sam, rolling his eyes after
him with unutterable meaning, proceeded gravely with the horses to
the stable-yard.

"Did yer see him, Andy? _did_ yer see him? and Sam, when
he had got fairly beyond the shelter of the barn, and fastened the
horse to a post. "O, Lor, if it warn't as good as a meetin', now,
to see him a dancin' and kickin' and swarin' at us. Didn't I hear
him? Swar away, ole fellow (says I to myself ); will yer have yer
hoss now, or wait till you cotch him? (says I). Lor, Andy, I think
I can see him now." And Sam and Andy leaned up against the barn
and laughed to their hearts' content.

"Yer oughter seen how mad he looked, when I brought the
hoss up. Lord, he'd a killed me, if he durs' to; and there I was
a standin' as innercent and as humble."

"Lor, I seed you," said Andy; "an't you an old hoss, Sam?"

"Rather specks I am," said Sam; "did yer see Missis up
stars at the winder? I seed her laughin'."

"I'm sure, I was racin' so, I didn't see nothing," said Andy.

"Well, yer see," said Sam, proceeding gravely to wash down
Haley's pony, "I 'se 'quired what yer may call a habit _o'
bobservation_, Andy. It's a very 'portant habit, Andy; and I
'commend yer to be cultivatin' it, now yer young. Hist up that
hind foot, Andy. Yer see, Andy, it's _bobservation_ makes all de
difference in niggers. Didn't I see which way the wind blew dis
yer mornin'? Didn't I see what Missis wanted, though she never
let on? Dat ar's bobservation, Andy. I 'spects it's what you may
call a faculty. Faculties is different in different peoples, but
cultivation of 'em goes a great way."

"I guess if I hadn't helped your bobservation dis mornin',
yer wouldn't have seen your way so smart," said Andy.

"Andy," said Sam, "you's a promisin' child, der an't no manner
o' doubt. I thinks lots of yer, Andy; and I don't feel no ways
ashamed to take idees from you. We oughtenter overlook nobody,
Andy, cause the smartest on us gets tripped up sometimes. And so,
Andy, let's go up to the house now. I'll be boun' Missis'll give
us an uncommon good bite, dis yer time."

 

 

CHAPTER VII

The Mother's Struggle

 

It is impossible to conceive of a human creature more wholly
desolate and forlorn than Eliza, when she turned her footsteps
from Uncle Tom's cabin.

Her husband's suffering and dangers, and the danger of her
child, all blended in her mind, with a confused and stunning sense
of the risk she was running, in leaving the only home she had ever
known, and cutting loose from the protection of a friend whom she
loved and revered. Then there was the parting from every familiar
object,--the place where she had grown up, the trees under which
she had played, the groves where she had walked many an evening in
happier days, by the side of her young husband,--everything, as it
lay in the clear, frosty starlight, seemed to speak reproachfully
to her, and ask her whither could she go from a home like that?

But stronger than all was maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm
of frenzy by the near approach of a fearful danger. Her boy was
old enough to have walked by her side, and, in an indifferent
case, she would only have led him by the hand; but now the bare
thought of putting him out of her arms made her shudder, and she
strained him to her bosom with a convulsive grasp, as she went
rapidly forward.

The frosty ground creaked beneath her feet, and she trembled
at the sound; every quaking leaf and fluttering shadow sent the
blood backward to her heart, and quickened her footsteps.
She wondered within herself at the strength that seemed to be
come upon her; for she felt the weight of her boy as if it had
been a feather, and every flutter of fear seemed to increase the
supernatural power that bore her on, while from her pale lips
burst forth, in frequent ejaculations, the prayer to a Friend
above--"Lord, help! Lord, save me!"

If it were _your_ Harry, mother, or your Willie, that were going
to be torn from you by a brutal trader, tomorrow morning,--if
you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were signed and
delivered, and you had only from twelve o'clock till morning to
make good your escape,--how fast could _you_ walk? How many miles
could you make in those few brief hours, with the darling at your
bosom,--the little sleepy head on your shoulder,--the small, soft
arms trustingly holding on to your neck?

For the child slept. At first, the novelty and alarm kept
him waking; but his mother so hurriedly repressed every breath or
sound, and so assured him that if he were only still she would
certainly save him, that he clung quietly round her neck, only
asking, as he found himself sinking to sleep,

"Mother, I don't need to keep awake, do I?"

"No, my darling; sleep, if you want to."

"But, mother, if I do get asleep, you won't let him get me?"

"No! so may God help me!" said his mother, with a paler
cheek, and a brighter light in her large dark eyes.

"You're _sure_, an't you, mother?"

"Yes, _sure_!" said the mother, in a voice that startled
herself; for it seemed to her to come from a spirit within, that
was no part of her; and the boy dropped his litle weary head on
her shoulder, and was soon asleep. How the touch of those warm
arms, the gentle breathings that came in her neck, seemed to add
fire and spirit to her movements! It seemed to her as if strength
poured into her in electric streams, from every gentle touch and
movement of the sleeping, confiding child. Sublime is the dominion
of the mind over the body, that, for a time, can make flesh and
nerve impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so that the
weak become so mighty.

The boundaries of the farm, the grove, the wood-lot, passed
by her dizzily, as she walked on; and still she went, leaving one
familiar object after another, slacking not, pausing not, till
reddening daylight found her many a long mile from all traces of
any familiar objects upon the open highway.

She had often been, with her mistress, to visit some connections,
in the little village of T----, not far from the Ohio river,
and knew the road well. To go thither, to escape across the
Ohio river, were the first hurried outlines of her plan of
escape; beyond that, she could only hope in God.

When horses and vehicles began to move along the highway,
with that alert perception peculiar to a state of excitement, and
which seems to be a sort of inspiration, she became aware that her
headlong pace and distracted air might bring on her remark and
suspicion. She therefore put the boy on the ground, and, adjusting
her dress and bonnet, she walked on at as rapid a pace as she
thought consistent with the preservation of appearances. In her
little bundle she had provided a store of cakes and apples, which
she used as expedients for quickening the speed of the child,
rolling the apple some yards before them, when the boy would run
with all his might after it; and this ruse, often repeated, carried
them over many a half-mile.

After a while, they came to a thick patch of woodland,
through which murmured a clear brook. As the child complained of
hunger and thirst, she climbed over the fence with him; and, sitting
down behind a large rock which concealed them from the road, she
gave him a breakfast out of her little package. The boy
wondered and grieved that she could not eat; and when, putting his
arms round her neck, he tried to wedge some of his cake into her
mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in her throat would choke her.

"No, no, Harry darling! mother can't eat till you are safe!
We must go on--on--till we come to the river!" And she hurried
again into the road, and again constrained herself to walk regularly
and composedly forward.

She was many miles past any neighborhood where she was
personally known. If she should chance to meet any who knew her,
she reflected that the well-known kindness of the family would be
of itself a blind to suspicion, as making it an unlikely supposition
that she could be a fugitive. As she was also so white as not to
be known as of colored lineage, without a critical survey, and her
child was white also, it was much easier for her to pass on
unsuspected.

On this presumption, she stopped at noon at a neat farmhouse,
to rest herself, and buy some dinner for her child and self; for,
as the danger decreased with the distance, the supernatural tension
of the nervous system lessened, and she found herself both weary
and hungry.

The good woman, kindly and gossipping, seemed rather pleased
than otherwise with having somebody come in to talk with; and
accepted, without examination, Eliza's statement, that she "was
going on a little piece, to spend a week with her friends,"--all
which she hoped in her heart might prove strictly true.

An hour before sunset, she entered the village of T----,
by the Ohio river, weary and foot-sore, but still strong in heart.
Her first glance was at the river, which lay, like Jordan, between
her and the Canaan of liberty on the other side.

It was now early spring, and the river was swollen and
turbulent; great cakes of floating ice were swinging heavily to
and fro in the turbid waters. Owing to the peculiar form of
the shore on the Kentucky side, the land bending far out into
the water, the ice had been lodged and detained in great
quantities, and the narrow channel which swept round the bend
was full of ice, piled one cake over another, thus forming a
temporary barrier to the descending ice, which lodged, and formed
a great, undulating raft, filling up the whole river, and extending
almost to the Kentucky shore.

Eliza stood, for a moment, contemplating this unfavorable
aspect of things, which she saw at once must prevent the usual
ferry-boat from running, and then turned into a small public
house on the bank, to make a few inquiries.

The hostess, who was busy in various fizzing and stewing
operations over the fire, preparatory to the evening meal, stopped,
with a fork in her hand, as Eliza's sweet and plaintive voice
arrested her.

"What is it?" she said.

"Isn't there any ferry or boat, that takes people over to
B----, now?" she said.

"No, indeed!" said the woman; "the boats has stopped running."

Eliza's look of dismay and disappointment struck the woman,
and she said, inquiringly,

"May be you're wanting to get over?--anybody sick? Ye seem
mighty anxious?"

"I've got a child that's very dangerous," said Eliza. "I never
heard of it till last night, and I've walked quite a piece today,
in hopes to get to the ferry."

"Well, now, that's onlucky," said the woman, whose motherly
sympathies were much aroused; I'm re'lly consarned for ye.
Solomon!" she called, from the window, towards a small back building.
A man, in leather apron and very dirty hands, appeared at the door.

"I say, Sol," said the woman, "is that ar man going to tote
them bar'ls over tonight?"

"He said he should try, if 't was any way prudent," said
the man.

"There's a man a piece down here, that's going over with some
truck this evening, if he durs' to; he'll be in here to supper
tonight, so you'd better set down and wait. That's a sweet little
fellow," added the woman, offering him a cake.

But the child, wholly exhausted, cried with weariness.

"Poor fellow! he isn't used to walking, and I've hurried
him on so," said Eliza.

"Well, take him into this room," said the woman, opening
into a small bed-room, where stood a comfortable bed. Eliza laid
the weary boy upon it, and held his hands in hers till he was fast
asleep. For her there was no rest. As a fire in her bones, the
thought of the pursuer urged her on; and she gazed with longing
eyes on the sullen, surging waters that lay between her and liberty.

Here we must take our leave of her for the present, to
follow the course of her pursuers.

 

Though Mrs. Shelby had promised that the dinner should be hurried
on table, yet it was soon seen, as the thing has often been
seen before, that it required more than one to make a bargain.
So, although the order was fairly given out in Haley's hearing,
and carried to Aunt Chloe by at least half a dozen juvenile
messengers, that dignitary only gave certain very gruff snorts,
and tosses of her head, and went on with every operation in an
unusually leisurely and circumstantial manner.

For some singular reason, an impression seemed to reign among
the servants generally that Missis would not be particularly
disobliged by delay; and it was wonderful what a number of counter
accidents occurred constantly, to retard the course of things.
One luckless wight contrived to upset the gravy; and then gravy
had to be got up _de novo_, with due care and formality, Aunt Chloe
watching and stirring with dogged precision, answering shortly, to
all suggestions of haste, that she "warn't a going to have raw
gravy on the table, to help nobody's catchings." One tumbled
down with the water, and had to go to the spring for more; and
another precipitated the butter into the path of events; and
there was from time to time giggling news brought into the kitchen
that "Mas'r Haley was mighty oneasy, and that he couldn't sit in
his cheer no ways, but was a walkin' and stalkin' to the winders
and through the porch."

"Sarves him right!" said Aunt Chloe, indignantly. He'll get
wus nor oneasy, one of these days, if he don't mend his ways.
_His_ master'll be sending for him, and then see how he'll look!"

"He'll go to torment, and no mistake," said little Jake.

"He desarves it!" said Aunt Chloe, grimly; "he's broke a many,
many, many hearts,--I tell ye all!" she said, stopping, with
a fork uplifted in her hands; "it's like what Mas'r George reads
in Ravelations,--souls a callin' under the altar! and a callin' on
the Lord for vengeance on sich!--and by and by the Lord he'll hear
'em--so he will!"

Aunt Chloe, who was much revered in the kitchen, was listened
to with open mouth; and, the dinner being now fairly sent in, the
whole kitchen was at leisure to gossip with her, and to listen to
her remarks.

"Sich'll be burnt up forever, and no mistake; won't ther?"
said Andy.

"I'd be glad to see it, I'll be boun'," said little Jake.

"Chil'en!" said a voice, that made them all start. It was
Uncle Tom, who had come in, and stood listening to the conversation
at the door.

"Chil'en!" he said, "I'm afeard you don't know what ye're sayin'.
Forever is a _dre'ful_ word, chil'en; it's awful to think on 't.
You oughtenter wish that ar to any human crittur."

"We wouldn't to anybody but the soul-drivers," said Andy;
"nobody can help wishing it to them, they 's so awful wicked."

"Don't natur herself kinder cry out on 'em?" said Aunt Chloe.
"Don't dey tear der suckin' baby right off his mother's breast,
and sell him, and der little children as is crying and
holding on by her clothes,--don't dey pull 'em off and sells 'em?
Don't dey tear wife and husband apart?" said Aunt Chloe, beginning
to cry, "when it's jest takin' the very life on 'em?--and all the
while does they feel one bit, don't dey drink and smoke, and take
it oncommon easy? Lor, if the devil don't get them, what's he
good for?" And Aunt Chloe covered her face with her checked apron,
and began to sob in good earnest.

"Pray for them that 'spitefully use you, the good book
says," says Tom.

"Pray for 'em!" said Aunt Chloe; "Lor, it's too tough!
I can't pray for 'em."

"It's natur, Chloe, and natur 's strong," said Tom, "but the
Lord's grace is stronger; besides, you oughter think what an awful
state a poor crittur's soul 's in that'll do them ar things,--you
oughter thank God that you an't _like_ him, Chloe. I'm sure I'd
rather be sold, ten thousand times over, than to have all that ar
poor crittur's got to answer for."

"So 'd I, a heap," said Jake. "Lor, _shouldn't_ we cotch
it, Andy?"

Andy shrugged his shoulders, and gave an acquiescent whistle.

"I'm glad Mas'r didn't go off this morning, as he looked to,"
said Tom; "that ar hurt me more than sellin', it did. Mebbe it
might have been natural for him, but 't would have come desp't
hard on me, as has known him from a baby; but I've seen Mas'r,
and I begin ter feel sort o' reconciled to the Lord's will now.
Mas'r couldn't help hisself; he did right, but I'm feared things
will be kinder goin' to rack, when I'm gone Mas'r can't be spected
to be a pryin' round everywhar, as I've done, a keepin' up all
the ends. The boys all means well, but they 's powerful car'less.
That ar troubles me."

The bell here rang, and Tom was summoned to the parlor.

"Tom," said his master, kindly, "I want you to notice that
I give this gentleman bonds to forfeit a thousand dollars if you
are not on the spot when he wants you; he's going today to look
after his other business, and you can have the day to yourself.
Go anywhere you like, boy."

"Thank you, Mas'r," said Tom.

"And mind yourself," said the trader, "and don't come it over
your master with any o' yer nigger tricks; for I'll take every
cent out of him, if you an't thar. If he'd hear to me, he wouldn't
trust any on ye--slippery as eels!"

"Mas'r," said Tom,--and he stood very straight,--"I was jist
eight years old when ole Missis put you into my arms, and you
wasn't a year old. `Thar,' says she, `Tom, that's to be _your_
young Mas'r; take good care on him,' says she. And now I jist ask
you, Mas'r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you,
'specially since I was a Christian?"

Mr. Shelby was fairly overcome, and the tears rose to his eyes.

"My good boy," said he, "the Lord knows you say but the truth;
and if I was able to help it, all the world shouldn't buy you."

"And sure as I am a Christian woman," said Mrs. Shelby,
"you shall be redeemed as soon as I can any bring together means.
Sir," she said to Haley, "take good account of who you sell him
to, and let me know."

"Lor, yes, for that matter," said the trader, "I may bring
him up in a year, not much the wuss for wear, and trade him back."

"I'll trade with you then, and make it for your advantage,"
said Mrs. Shelby.

"Of course," said the trader, "all 's equal with me; li'ves
trade 'em up as down, so I does a good business. All I want is a
livin', you know, ma'am; that's all any on us wants, I, s'pose."

Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt annoyed and degraded by the
familiar impudence of the trader, and yet both saw the absolute
necessity of putting a constraint on their feelings. The more
hopelessly sordid and insensible he appeared, the greater became
Mrs. Shelby's dread of his succeeding in recapturing Eliza and
her child, and of course the greater her motive for detaining him
by every female artifice. She therefore graciously smiled, assented,
chatted familiarly, and did all she could to make time pass
imperceptibly.

At two o'clock Sam and Andy brought the horses up to the posts,
apparently greatly refreshed and invigorated by the scamper
of the morning.

Sam was there new oiled from dinner, with an abundance of
zealous and ready officiousness. As Haley approached, he was
boasting, in flourishing style, to Andy, of the evident and eminent
success of the operation, now that he had "farly come to it."

"Your master, I s'pose, don't keep no dogs," said Haley,
thoughtfully, as he prepared to mount.

"Heaps on 'em," said Sam, triumphantly; "thar's Bruno--he's
a roarer! and, besides that, 'bout every nigger of us keeps a pup
of some natur or uther."

"Poh!" said Haley,--and he said something else, too, with
regard to the said dogs, at which Sam muttered,

"I don't see no use cussin' on 'em, no way."

"But your master don't keep no dogs (I pretty much know he
don't) for trackin' out niggers."

Sam knew exactly what he meant, but he kept on a look of
earnest and desperate simplicity.

"Our dogs all smells round considable sharp. I spect they's
the kind, though they han't never had no practice. They 's _far_
dogs, though, at most anything, if you'd get 'em started.
Here, Bruno," he called, whistling to the lumbering Newfoundland,
who came pitching tumultuously toward them.

"You go hang!" said Haley, getting up. "Come, tumble up now."

Sam tumbled up accordingly, dexterously contriving to tickle
Andy as he did so, which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh,
greatly to Haley's indignation, who made a cut at him with his
riding-whip.

"I 's 'stonished at yer, Andy," said Sam, with awful gravity.
"This yer's a seris bisness, Andy. Yer mustn't be a makin' game.
This yer an't no way to help Mas'r."

"I shall take the straight road to the river," said Haley,
decidedly, after they had come to the boundaries of the estate.
"I know the way of all of 'em,--they makes tracks for the underground."

"Sartin," said Sam, "dat's de idee. Mas'r Haley hits de thing
right in de middle. Now, der's two roads to de river,--de
dirt road and der pike,--which Mas'r mean to take?"

Andy looked up innocently at Sam, surprised at hearing this
new geographical fact, but instantly confirmed what he said, by a
vehement reiteration.

"Cause," said Sam, "I'd rather be 'clined to 'magine that
Lizy 'd take de dirt road, bein' it's the least travelled."

Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and
naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought
up by this view of the case.

"If yer warn't both on yer such cussed liars, now!" he
said, contemplatively as he pondered a moment.

The pensive, reflective tone in which this was spoken
appeared to amuse Andy prodigiously, and he drew a little behind,
and shook so as apparently to run a great risk of failing off his
horse, while Sam's face was immovably composed into the most
doleful gravity.

"Course," said Sam, "Mas'r can do as he'd ruther, go de straight
road, if Mas'r thinks best,--it's all one to us. Now, when I
study 'pon it, I think de straight road de best, _deridedly_."

"She would naturally go a lonesome way," said Haley, thinking
aloud, and not minding Sam's remark.

"Dar an't no sayin'," said Sam; "gals is pecular; they never
does nothin' ye thinks they will; mose gen'lly the contrary.
Gals is nat'lly made contrary; and so, if you thinks they've gone
one road, it is sartin you'd better go t' other, and then you'll
be sure to find 'em. Now, my private 'pinion is, Lizy took der
road; so I think we'd better take de straight one."

This profound generic view of the female sex did not seem to
dispose Haley particularly to the straight road, and he announced
decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam when they
should come to it.

"A little piece ahead," said Sam, giving a wink to Andy with
the eye which was on Andy's side of the head; and he added,
gravely, "but I've studded on de matter, and I'm quite clar we
ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no way.
It's despit lonesome, and we might lose our way,--whar we'd come
to, de Lord only knows."

"Nevertheless," said Haley, "I shall go that way."

"Now I think on 't, I think I hearn 'em tell that dat ar road
was all fenced up and down by der creek, and thar, an't it, Andy?"

Andy wasn't certain; he'd only "hearn tell" about that road,
but never been over it. In short, he was strictly noncommittal.

Haley, accustomed to strike the balance of probabilities
between lies of greater or lesser magnitude, thought that it lay
in favor of the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he
thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam's part at first, and
his confused attempts to dissuade him he set down to a desperate
lying on second thoughts, as being unwilling to implicate Liza.

When, therefore, Sam indicated the road, Haley plunged
briskly into it, followed by Sam and Andy.

Now, the road, in fact, was an old one, that had formerly
been a thoroughfare to the river, but abandoned for many years
after the laying of the new pike. It was open for about an hour's
ride, and after that it was cut across by various farms and fences.
Sam knew this fact perfectly well,--indeed, the road had been so
long closed up, that Andy had never heard of it. He therefore rode
along with an air of dutiful submission, only groaning and vociferating
occasionally that 't was "desp't rough, and bad for Jerry's foot."

"Now, I jest give yer warning," said Haley, "I know yer; yer
won't get me to turn off this road, with all yer fussin'--so
you shet up!"

"Mas'r will go his own way!" said Sam, with rueful submission,
at the same time winking most Portentously to Andy, whose delight
was now very near the explosive point.

Sam was in wonderful spirits,--professed to keep a very brisk
lookout,--at one time exclaiming that he saw "a gal's bonnet"
on the top of some distant eminence, or calling to Andy "if that
thar wasn't `Lizy' down in the hollow;" always making these
exclamations in some rough or craggy part of the road, where the
sudden quickening of speed was a special inconvenience to all
parties concerned, and thus keeping Haley in a state of constant
commotion.

After riding about an hour in this way, the whole party made
a precipitate and tumultuous descent into a barn-yard belonging
to a large farming establishment. Not a soul was in sight, all
the hands being employed in the fields; but, as the barn stood
conspicuously and plainly square across the road, it was evident
that their journey in that direction had reached a decided finale.

"Wan't dat ar what I telled Mas'r?" said Sam, with an air of
injured innocence. "How does strange gentleman spect to know
more about a country dan de natives born and raised?"

"You rascal!" said Haley, "you knew all about this."

"Didn't I tell yer I _knowd_, and yer wouldn't believe me?
I telled Mas'r 't was all shet up, and fenced up, and I didn't
spect we could get through,--Andy heard me."

It was all too true to be disputed, and the unlucky man had to
pocket his wrath with the best grace he was able, and all
three faced to the right about, and took up their line of march
for the highway.

In consequence of all the various delays, it was about
three-quarters of an hour after Eliza had laid her child to
sleep in the village tavern that the party came riding into the
same place. Eliza was standing by the window, looking out in
another direction, when Sam's quick eye caught a glimpse of her.
Haley and Andy were two yards behind. At this crisis, Sam contrived
to have his hat blown off, and uttered a loud and characteristic
ejaculation, which startled her at once; she drew suddenly back;
the whole train swept by the window, round to the front door.

A thousand lives seemed to be concentrated in that one moment
to Eliza. Her room opened by a side door to the river. She caught
her child, and sprang down the steps towards it. The trader
caught a full glimpse of her just as she was disappearing
down the bank; and throwing himself from his horse, and calling
loudly on Sam and Andy, he was after her like a hound after a deer.
In that dizzy moment her feet to her scarce seemed to touch the
ground, and a moment brought her to the water's edge. Right on
behind they came; and, nerved with strength such as God gives only
to the desperate, with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted
sheer over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft of
ice beyond. It was a desperate leap--impossible to anything but
madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, and Andy, instinctively cried
out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it.

The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched
and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not
a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to
another and still another cake; stumbling--leaping--slipping--
springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone--her stockings cut
from her feet--while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing,
felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side,
and a man helping her up the bank.

"Yer a brave gal, now, whoever ye ar!" said the man, with
an oath.

Eliza recognized the voice and face for a man who owned a
farm not far from her old home.

"O, Mr. Symmes!--save me--do save me--do hide me!" said Elia.

"Why, what's this?" said the man. "Why, if 'tan't Shelby's gal!"

"My child!--this boy!--he'd sold him! There is his Mas'r,"
said she, pointing to the Kentucky shore. "O, Mr. Symmes, you've
got a little boy!"

"So I have," said the man, as he roughly, but kindly, drew
her up the steep bank. "Besides, you're a right brave gal. I like
grit, wherever I see it."

When they had gained the top of the bank, the man paused.

"I'd be glad to do something for ye," said he; "but then
there's nowhar I could take ye. The best I can do is to tell ye
to go _thar_," said he, pointing to a large white house which stood
by itself, off the main street of the village. "Go thar; they're
kind folks. Thar's no kind o' danger but they'll help you,--they're
up to all that sort o' thing."

"The Lord bless you!" said Eliza, earnestly.

"No 'casion, no 'casion in the world," said the man. "What I've
done's of no 'count."

"And, oh, surely, sir, you won't tell any one!"

"Go to thunder, gal! What do you take a feller for? In course
not," said the man. "Come, now, go along like a likely,
sensible gal, as you are. You've arnt your liberty, and you
shall have it, for all me."

The woman folded her child to her bosom, and walked firmly
and swiftly away. The man stood and looked after her.

"Shelby, now, mebbe won't think this yer the most neighborly
thing in the world; but what's a feller to do? If he catches one
of my gals in the same fix, he's welcome to pay back. Somehow I
never could see no kind o' critter a strivin' and pantin', and
trying to clar theirselves, with the dogs arter 'em and go agin 'em.
Besides, I don't see no kind of 'casion for me to be hunter and
catcher for other folks, neither."

So spoke this poor, heathenish Kentuckian, who had not been
instructed in his constitutional relations, and consequently was
betrayed into acting in a sort of Christianized manner, which, if
he had been better situated and more enlightened, he would not have
been left to do.

Haley had stood a perfectly amazed spectator of the scene,
till Eliza had disappeared up the bank, when he turned a blank,
inquiring look on Sam and Andy.

"That ar was a tolable fair stroke of business," said Sam.

"The gal 's got seven devils in her, I believe!" said Haley.
"How like a wildcat she jumped!"

"Wal, now," said Sam, scratching his head, "I hope Mas'r'll
'scuse us trying dat ar road. Don't think I feel spry enough for
dat ar, no way!" and Sam gave a hoarse chuckle.

"_You_ laugh!" said the trader, with a growl.

"Lord bless you, Mas'r, I couldn't help it now," said Sam,
giving way to the long pent-up delight of his soul. "She looked
so curi's, a leapin' and springin'--ice a crackin'--and only to
hear her,--plump! ker chunk! ker splash! Spring! Lord! how she
goes it!" and Sam and Andy laughed till the tears rolled down
their cheeks.

"I'll make ye laugh t' other side yer mouths!" said the
trader, laying about their heads with his riding-whip.

Both ducked, and ran shouting up the bank, and were on
their horses before he was up.

"Good-evening, Mas'r!" said Sam, with much gravity. "I berry
much spect Missis be anxious 'bout Jerry. Mas'r Haley won't
want us no longer. Missis wouldn't hear of our ridin' the critters
over Lizy's bridge tonight;" and, with a facetious poke into Andy's
ribs, he started off, followed by the latter, at full speed,--their
shouts of laughter coming faintly on the wind.

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

Eliza's Escape

 

Eliza made her desperate retreat across the river just in
the dusk of twilight. The gray mist of evening, rising slowly from
the river, enveloped her as she disappeared up the bank, and the
swollen current and floundering masses of ice presented a hopeless
barrier between her and her pursuer. Haley therefore slowly and
discontentedly returned to the little tavern, to ponder further
what was to be done. The woman opened to him the door of a little
parlor, covered with a rag carpet, where stood a table with a very
shining black oil-cloth, sundry lank, high-backed wood chairs, with
some plaster images in resplendent colors on the mantel-shelf,
above a very dimly-smoking grate; a long hard-wood settle extended
its uneasy length by the chimney, and here Haley sat him down to
meditate on the instability of human hopes and happiness in general.

"What did I want with the little cuss, now," he said to
himself, "that I should have got myself treed like a coon, as I
am, this yer way?" and Haley relieved himself by repeating over a
not very select litany of imprecations on himself, which, though
there was the best possible reason to consider them as true, we
shall, as a matter of taste, omit.

He was startled by the loud and dissonant voice of a man who was
apparently dismounting at the door. He hurried to the window.

"By the land! if this yer an't the nearest, now, to what
I've heard folks call Providence," said Haley. "I do b'lieve
that ar's Tom Loker."

Haley hastened out. Standing by the bar, in the corner of the
room, was a brawny, muscular man, full six feet in height, and
broad in proportion. He was dressed in a coat of buffalo-skin,
made with the hair outward, which gave him a shaggy and fierce
appearance, perfectly in keeping with the whole air of his physiognomy.
In the head and face every organ and lineament expressive of brutal
and unhesitating violence was in a state of the highest possible
development. Indeed, could our readers fancy a bull-dog come unto
man's estate, and walking about in a hat and coat, they would have
no unapt idea of the general style and effect of his physique.
He was accompanied by a travelling companion, in many respects an
exact contrast to himself. He was short and slender, lithe and
catlike in his motions, and had a peering, mousing expression about
his keen black eyes, with which every feature of his face seemed
sharpened into sympathy; his thin, long nose, ran out as if it was
eager to bore into the nature of things in general; his sleek,
thin, black hair was stuck eagerly forward, and all his motions
and evolutions expressed a dry, cautious acuteness. The great man
poured out a big tumbler half full of raw spirits, and gulped it
down without a word. The little man stood tiptoe, and putting his
head first to one side and then the other, and snuffing considerately
in the directions of the various bottles, ordered at last a mint
julep, in a thin and quivering voice, and with an air of great
circumspection. When poured out, he took it and looked at it with
a sharp, complacent air, like,a man who thinks he has done about
the right thing, and hit the nail on the head, and proceeded to
dispose of it in short and well-advised sips.

"Wal, now, who'd a thought this yer luck 'ad come to me?
Why, Loker, how are ye?" said Haley, coming forward, and
extending his hand to the big man.

"The devil!" was the civil reply. "What brought you here, Haley?"

The mousing man, who bore the name of Marks, instantly stopped
his sipping, and, poking his head forward, looked shrewdly
on the new acquaintance, as a cat sometimes looks at a moving dry
leaf, or some other possible object of pursuit.

"I say, Tom, this yer's the luckiest thing in the world.
I'm in a devil of a hobble, and you must help me out."

"Ugh? aw! like enough!" grunted his complacent acquaintance.
"A body may be pretty sure of that, when _you're_ glad to see 'em;
something to be made off of 'em. What's the blow now?"

"You've got a friend here?" said Haley, looking doubtfully
at Marks; "partner, perhaps?"

"Yes, I have. Here, Marks! here's that ar feller that I
was in with in Natchez."

"Shall be pleased with his acquaintance," said Marks,
thrusting out a long, thin hand, like a raven's claw. "Mr. Haley,
I believe?"

"The same, sir," said Haley. "And now, gentlemen, seein'
as we've met so happily, I think I'll stand up to a small matter
of a treat in this here parlor. So, now, old coon," said he to
the man at the bar, "get us hot water, and sugar, and cigars, and
plenty of the _real stuff_ and we'll have a blow-out."

Behold, then, the candles lighted, the fire stimulated to the
burning point in the grate, and our three worthies seated round
a table, well spread with all the accessories to good fellowship
enumerated before.

Haley began a pathetic recital of his peculiar troubles.
Loker shut up his mouth, and listened to him with gruff and
surly attention. Marks, who was anxiously and with much
fidgeting compounding a tumbler of punch to his own peculiar
taste, occasionally looked up from his employment, and, poking
his sharp nose and chin almost into Haley's face, gave the most
earnest heed to the whole narrative. The conclusion of it
appeared to amuse him extremely, for he shook his shoulders
and sides in silence, and perked up his thin lips with an air
of great internal enjoyment.

"So, then, ye'r fairly sewed up, an't ye?" he said; "he!
he! he! It's neatly done, too."

"This yer young-un business makes lots of trouble in the
trade," said Haley, dolefully.

"If we could get a breed of gals that didn't care, now,
for their young uns," said Marks; "tell ye, I think 't would be
'bout the greatest mod'rn improvement I knows on,"--and Marks
patronized his joke by a quiet introductory sniggle.

"Jes so," said Haley; "I never couldn't see into it; young
uns is heaps of trouble to 'em; one would think, now, they'd be
glad to get clar on 'em; but they arn't. And the more trouble a
young un is, and the more good for nothing, as a gen'l thing, the
tighter they sticks to 'em."

"Wal, Mr. Haley," said Marks, "'est pass the hot water.
Yes, sir, you say 'est what I feel and all'us have. Now, I bought
a gal once, when I was in the trade,--a tight, likely wench she
was, too, and quite considerable smart,--and she had a young un
that was mis'able sickly; it had a crooked back, or something or
other; and I jest gin 't away to a man that thought he'd take his
chance raising on 't, being it didn't cost nothin';--never thought,
yer know, of the gal's taking' on about it,--but, Lord, yer oughter
seen how she went on. Why, re'lly, she did seem to me to valley
the child more 'cause _'t was_ sickly and cross, and plagued her;
and she warn't making b'lieve, neither,--cried about it, she did,
and lopped round, as if she'd lost every friend she had. It re'lly
was droll to think on 't. Lord, there ain't no end to women's notions."

"Wal, jest so with me," said Haley. "Last summer, down on
Red river, I got a gal traded off on me, with a likely lookin'
child enough, and his eyes looked as bright as yourn; but, come to
look, I found him stone blind. Fact--he was stone blind. Wal, ye
see, I thought there warn't no harm in my jest passing him along,
and not sayin' nothin'; and I'd got him nicely swapped off for a
keg o' whiskey; but come to get him away from the gal, she was jest
like a tiger. So 't was before we started, and I hadn't got my
gang chained up; so what should she do but ups on a cotton-bale,
like a cat, ketches a knife from one of the deck hands, and, I tell
ye, she made all fly for a minit, till she saw 't wan't no use;
and she jest turns round, and pitches head first, young un and all,
into the river,--went down plump, and never ris."

"Bah!" said Tom Loker, who had listened to these stories with
ill-repressed disgust,--"shif'less, both on ye! _my_ gals
don't cut up no such shines, I tell ye!"

"Indeed! how do you help it?" said Marks, briskly.

"Help it? why, I buys a gal, and if she's got a young un
to be sold, I jest walks up and puts my fist to her face, and says,
`Look here, now, if you give me one word out of your head, I'll
smash yer face in. I won't hear one word--not the beginning of
a word.' I says to 'em, `This yer young un's mine, and not yourn,
and you've no kind o' business with it. I'm going to sell it,
first chance; mind, you don't cut up none o' yer shines about it,
or I'll make ye wish ye'd never been born.' I tell ye, they sees
it an't no play, when I gets hold. I makes 'em as whist as fishes;
and if one on 'em begins and gives a yelp, why,--" and Mr. Loker
brought down his fist with a thump that fully explained the hiatus.

"That ar's what ye may call _emphasis_," said Marks, poking
Haley in the side, and going into another small giggle. "An't Tom
peculiar? he! he! I say, Tom, I s'pect you make 'em _understand_,
for all niggers' heads is woolly. They don't never have no doubt
o' your meaning, Tom. If you an't the devil, Tom, you 's his
twin brother, I'll say that for ye!"

Tom received the compliment with becoming modesty, and began
to look as affable as was consistent, as John Bunyan says,
"with his doggish nature."

Haley, who had been imbibing very freely of the staple of
the evening, began to feel a sensible elevation and enlargement of
his moral faculties,--a phenomenon not unusual with gentlemen of
a serious and reflective turn, under similar circumstances.

"Wal, now, Tom," he said, "ye re'lly is too bad, as I al'ays
have told ye; ye know, Tom, you and I used to talk over these yer
matters down in Natchez, and I used to prove to ye that we made
full as much, and was as well off for this yer world, by treatin'
on 'em well, besides keepin' a better chance for comin' in the
kingdom at last, when wust comes to wust, and thar an't nothing
else left to get, ye know."

"Boh!" said Tom, "_don't_ I know?--don't make me too sick
with any yer stuff,--my stomach is a leetle riled now;" and Tom
drank half a glass of raw brandy.

"I say," said Haley, and leaning back in his chair and
gesturing impressively, "I'll say this now, I al'ays meant to drive
my trade so as to make money on 't _fust and foremost_, as much as
any man; but, then, trade an't everything, and money an't everything,
'cause we 's all got souls. I don't care, now, who hears me say
it,--and I think a cussed sight on it,--so I may as well come out
with it. I b'lieve in religion, and one of these days, when I've
got matters tight and snug, I calculates to tend to my soul and
them ar matters; and so what's the use of doin' any more wickedness
than 's re'lly necessary?--it don't seem to me it's 't all prudent."

"Tend to yer soul!" repeated Tom, contemptuously; "take a
bright lookout to find a soul in you,--save yourself any care on
that score. If the devil sifts you through a hair sieve, he won't
find one."

"Why, Tom, you're cross," said Haley; "why can't ye take
it pleasant, now, when a feller's talking for your good?"

"Stop that ar jaw o' yourn, there," said Tom, gruffly. "I can
stand most any talk o' yourn but your pious talk,--that kills me
right up. After all, what's the odds between me and you? 'Tan't that
you care one bit more, or have a bit more feelin'--it's clean,
sheer, dog meanness, wanting to cheat the devil and save your own
skin; don't I see through it? And your `gettin' religion,' as you
call it, arter all, is too p'isin mean for any crittur;--run up a
bill with the devil all your life, and then sneak out when pay time
comes! Bob!"

"Come, come, gentlemen, I say; this isn't business," said Marks.
"There's different ways, you know, of looking at all subjects.
Mr. Haley is a very nice man, no doubt, and has his own
conscience; and, Tom, you have your ways, and very good ones, too,
Tom; but quarrelling, you know, won't answer no kind of purpose.
Let's go to business. Now, Mr. Haley, what is it?--you want us to
undertake to catch this yer gal?"

"The gal's no matter of mine,--she's Shelby's; it's only
the boy. I was a fool for buying the monkey!"

"You're generally a fool!" said Tom, gruffly.

"Come, now, Loker, none of your huffs," said Marks, licking
his lips; "you see, Mr. Haley 's a puttin' us in a way of a good
job, I reckon; just hold still--these yer arrangements is my forte.
This yer gal, Mr. Haley, how is she? what is she?"

"Wal! white and handsome--well brought up. I'd a gin Shelby
eight hundred or a thousand, and then made well on her."

"White and handsome--well brought up!" said Marks, his sharp
eyes, nose and mouth, all alive with enterprise. "Look here,
now, Loker, a beautiful opening. We'll do a business here on our
own account;--we does the catchin'; the boy, of course, goes to
Mr. Haley,--we takes the gal to Orleans to speculate on. An't it
beautiful?"

Tom, whose great heavy mouth had stood ajar during this
communication, now suddenly snapped it together, as a big dog closes
on a piece of meat, and seemed to be digesting the idea at his leisure.

"Ye see," said Marks to Haley, stirring his punch as he
did so, "ye see, we has justices convenient at all p'ints along
shore, that does up any little jobs in our line quite reasonable.
Tom, he does the knockin' down and that ar; and I come in all
dressed up--shining boots--everything first chop, when the swearin'
's to be done. You oughter see, now," said Marks, in a glow of
professional pride, "how I can tone it off. One day, I'm Mr.
Twickem, from New Orleans; 'nother day, I'm just come from my
plantation on Pearl river, where I works seven hundred niggers;
then, again, I come out a distant relation of Henry Clay, or some
old cock in Kentuck. Talents is different, you know. Now, Tom's
roarer when there's any thumping or fighting to be done; but at
lying he an't good, Tom an't,--ye see it don't come natural to him;
but, Lord, if thar's a feller in the country that can swear to
anything and everything, and put in all the circumstances and
flourishes with a long face, and carry 't through better 'n I can,
why, I'd like to see him, that's all! I b'lieve my heart, I could
get along and snake through, even if justices were more particular
than they is. Sometimes I rather wish they was more particular;
't would be a heap more relishin' if they was,--more fun, yer know."

Tom Loker, who, as we have made it appear, was a man of
slow thoughts and movements, here interrupted Marks by bringing
his heavy fist down on the table, so as to make all ring again,
_"It'll do!"_ he said.

"Lord bless ye, Tom, ye needn't break all the glasses!"
said Marks; "save your fist for time o' need."

"But, gentlemen, an't I to come in for a share of the
profits?" said Haley.

"An't it enough we catch the boy for ye?" said Loker.
"What do ye want?"

"Wal," said Haley, "if I gives you the job, it's worth
something,--say ten per cent. on the profits, expenses paid."

"Now," said Loker, with a tremendous oath, and striking the
table with his heavy fist, "don't I know _you_, Dan Haley?
Don't you think to come it over me! Suppose Marks and I have taken
up the catchin' trade, jest to 'commodate gentlemen like you, and
get nothin' for ourselves?--Not by a long chalk! we'll have the
gal out and out, and you keep quiet, or, ye see, we'll have
both,--what's to hinder? Han't you show'd us the game? It's as
free to us as you, I hope. If you or Shelby wants to chase us,
look where the partridges was last year; if you find them or us,
you're quite welcome."

"O, wal, certainly, jest let it go at that," said Haley,
alarmed; "you catch the boy for the job;--you allers did trade
_far_ with me, Tom, and was up to yer word."

"Ye know that," said Tom; "I don't pretend none of your
snivelling ways, but I won't lie in my 'counts with the
devil himself. What I ses I'll do, I will do,--you know
_that_, Dan Haley."

"Jes so, jes so,--I said so, Tom," said Haley; "and if you'd
only promise to have the boy for me in a week, at any point
you'll name, that's all I want."

"But it an't all I want, by a long jump," said Tom. "Ye don't
think I did business with you, down in Natchez, for nothing,
Haley; I've learned to hold an eel, when I catch him. You've got
to fork over fifty dollars, flat down, or this child don't start
a peg. I know yer."

"Why, when you have a job in hand that may bring a clean
profit of somewhere about a thousand or sixteen hundred, why, Tom,
you're onreasonable," said Haley.

"Yes, and hasn't we business booked for five weeks to
come,--all we can do? And suppose we leaves all, and goes to
bush-whacking round arter yer young uns, and finally doesn't
catch the gal,--and gals allers is the devil _to_ catch,--what's
then? would you pay us a cent--would you? I think I see you a
doin' it--ugh! No, no; flap down your fifty. If we get the job,
and it pays, I'll hand it back; if we don't, it's for our
trouble,--that's _far_, an't it, Marks?"

"Certainly, certainly," said Marks, with a conciliatory tone;
"it's only a retaining fee, you see,--he! he! he!--we lawyers,
you know. Wal, we must all keep good-natured,--keep easy, yer know.
Tom'll have the boy for yer, anywhere ye'll name; won't ye, Tom?"

"If I find the young un, I'll bring him on to Cincinnati,
and leave him at Granny Belcher's, on the landing," said Loker.

Marks had got from his pocket a greasy pocket-book, and taking
a long paper from thence, he sat down, and fixing his keen black
eyes on it, began mumbling over its contents: "Barnes--Shelby
County--boy Jim, three hundred dollars for him, dead or alive.

"Edwards--Dick and Lucy--man and wife, six hundred dollars;
wench Polly and two children--six hundred for her or her head.

"I'm jest a runnin' over our business, to see if we can take up
this yer handily. Loker," he said, after a pause, "we must
set Adams and Springer on the track of these yer; they've been
booked some time."

"They'll charge too much," said Tom.

"I'll manage that ar; they 's young in the business, and must
spect to work cheap," said Marks, as he continued to read.
"Ther's three on 'em easy cases, 'cause all you've got to do is to
shoot 'em, or swear they is shot; they couldn't, of course, charge
much for that. Them other cases," he said, folding the paper,
"will bear puttin' off a spell. So now let's come to the particulars.
Now, Mr. Haley, you saw this yer gal when she landed?"

"To be sure,--plain as I see you."

"And a man helpin' on her up the bank?" said Loker.

"To be sure, I did."

"Most likely," said Marks, "she's took in somewhere; but
where, 's a question. Tom, what do you say?"

"We must cross the river tonight, no mistake," said Tom.

"But there's no boat about," said Marks. "The ice is
running awfully, Tom; an't it dangerous?"

"Don'no nothing 'bout that,--only it's got to be done,"
said Tom, decidedly.

"Dear me," said Marks, fidgeting, "it'll be--I say," he said,
walking to the window, "it's dark as a wolf's mouth, and, Tom--"

"The long and short is, you're scared, Marks; but I can't help
that,--you've got to go. Suppose you want to lie by a day or
two, till the gal 's been carried on the underground line up to
Sandusky or so, before you start."

"O, no; I an't a grain afraid," said Marks, "only--"

"Only what?" said Tom.

"Well, about the boat. Yer see there an't any boat."

"I heard the woman say there was one coming along this
evening, and that a man was going to cross over in it. Neck or
nothing, we must go with him," said Tom.

"I s'pose you've got good dogs," said Haley.

"First rate," said Marks. "But what's the use? you han't
got nothin' o' hers to smell on."

"Yes, I have," said Haley, triumphantly. "Here's her shawl
she left on the bed in her hurry; she left her bonnet, too."

"That ar's lucky," said Loker; "fork over."

"Though the dogs might damage the gal, if they come on her
unawars," said Haley.

"That ar's a consideration," said Marks. "Our dogs tore
a feller half to pieces, once, down in Mobile, 'fore we could get
'em off."

"Well, ye see, for this sort that's to be sold for their
looks, that ar won't answer, ye see," said Haley.

"I do see," said Marks. "Besides, if she's got took in,
'tan't no go, neither. Dogs is no 'count in these yer up states
where these critters gets carried; of course, ye can't get on
their track. They only does down in plantations, where niggers,
when they runs, has to do their own running, and don't get no help."

"Well," said Loker, who had just stepped out to the bar to make
some inquiries, "they say the man's come with the boat; so, Marks--"

That worthy cast a rueful look at the comfortable quarters
he was leaving, but slowly rose to obey. After exchanging a few
words of further arrangement, Haley, with visible reluctance, handed
over the fifty dollars to Tom, and the worthy trio separated for
the night.

If any of our refined and Christian readers object to the
society into which this scene introduces them, let us beg them to
begin and conquer their prejudices in time. The catching business,
we beg to remind them, is rising to the dignity of a lawful and
patriotic profession. If all the broad land between the Mississippi
and the Pacific becomes one great market for bodies and souls, and
human property retains the locomotive tendencies of this nineteenth
century, the trader and catcher may yet be among our aristocracy.

 

While this scene was going on at the tavern, Sam and Andy,
in a state of high felicitation, pursued their way home.

Sam was in the highest possible feather, and expressed his
exultation by all sorts of supernatural howls and ejaculations, by
divers odd motions and contortions of his whole system. Sometimes
he would sit backward, with his face to the horse's tail and sides,
and then, with a whoop and a somerset, come right side up in his
place again, and, drawing on a grave face, begin to lecture
Andy in high-sounding tones for laughing and playing the fool.
Anon, slapping his sides with his arms, he would burst forth in
peals of laughter, that made the old woods ring as they passed.
With all these evolutions, he contrived to keep the horses up to
the top of their speed, until, between ten and eleven, their heels
resounded on the gravel at the end of the balcony. Mrs. Shelby
flew to the railings.

"Is that you, Sam? Where are they?"

"Mas'r Haley 's a-restin' at the tavern; he's drefful
fatigued, Missis."

"And Eliza, Sam?"

"Wal, she's clar 'cross Jordan. As a body may say, in the
land o' Canaan."

"Why, Sam, what _do_ you mean?" said Mrs. Shelby, breathless,
and almost faint, as the possible meaning of these words came
over her.

"Wal, Missis, de Lord he persarves his own. Lizy's done gone
over the river into 'Hio, as 'markably as if de Lord took her
over in a charrit of fire and two hosses."

Sam's vein of piety was always uncommonly fervent in his
mistress' presence; and he made great capital of scriptural figures
and images.

"Come up here, Sam," said Mr. Shelby, who had followed on to the
verandah, "and tell your mistress what she wants. Come, come,
Emily," said he, passing his arm round her, "you are cold
and all in a shiver; you allow yourself to feel too much."

"Feel too much! Am not I a woman,--a mother? Are we not
both responsible to God for this poor girl? My God! lay not this
sin to our charge."

"What sin, Emily? You see yourself that we have only done
what we were obliged to."

"There's an awful feeling of guilt about it, though," said
Mrs. Shelby. "I can't reason it away."

"Here, Andy, you nigger, be alive!" called Sam, under the
verandah; "take these yer hosses to der barn; don't ye hear
Mas'r a callin'?" and Sam soon appeared, palm-leaf in hand,
at the parlor door.

"Now, Sam, tell us distinctly how the matter was," said
Mr. Shelby. "Where is Eliza, if you know?"

"Wal, Mas'r, I saw her, with my own eyes, a crossin' on
the floatin' ice. She crossed most 'markably; it wasn't no less
nor a miracle; and I saw a man help her up the 'Hio side, and then
she was lost in the dusk."

"Sam, I think this rather apocryphal,--this miracle.
Crossing on floating ice isn't so easily done," said Mr. Shelby.

"Easy! couldn't nobody a done it, without de Lord. Why, now,"
said Sam, "'t was jist dis yer way. Mas'r Haley, and me,
and Andy, we comes up to de little tavern by the river, and I rides
a leetle ahead,--(I's so zealous to be a cotchin' Lizy, that I
couldn't hold in, no way),--and when I comes by the tavern winder,
sure enough there she was, right in plain sight, and dey diggin'
on behind. Wal, I loses off my hat, and sings out nuff to raise
the dead. Course Lizy she hars, and she dodges back, when Mas'r
Haley he goes past the door; and then, I tell ye, she clared out
de side door; she went down de river bank;--Mas'r Haley he seed
her, and yelled out, and him, and me, and Andy, we took arter.
Down she come to the river, and thar was the current running ten
feet wide by the shore, and over t' other side ice a sawin' and a
jiggling up and down, kinder as 't were a great island. We come
right behind her, and I thought my soul he'd got her sure enough,--when
she gin sich a screech as I never hearn, and thar she was, clar
over t' other side of the current, on the ice, and then on she
went, a screeching and a jumpin',--the ice went crack! c'wallop!
cracking! chunk! and she a boundin' like a buck! Lord, the spring
that ar gal's got in her an't common, I'm o' 'pinion."

Mrs. Shelby sat perfectly silent, pale with excitement,
while Sam told his story.

"God be praised, she isn't dead!" she said; "but where is
the poor child now?"

"De Lord will pervide," said Sam, rolling up his eyes piously.
"As I've been a sayin', dis yer 's a providence and no mistake,
as Missis has allers been a instructin' on us. Thar's allers
instruments ris up to do de Lord's will. Now, if 't hadn't
been for me today, she'd a been took a dozen times. Warn't it I
started off de hosses, dis yer morning' and kept 'em chasin' till
nigh dinner time? And didn't I car Mas'r Haley night five miles
out of de road, dis evening, or else he'd a come up with Lizy as
easy as a dog arter a coon. These yer 's all providences."

"They are a kind of providences that you'll have to be
pretty sparing of, Master Sam. I allow no such practices with
gentlemen on my place," said Mr. Shelby, with as much sternness
as he could command, under the circumstances.

Now, there is no more use in making believe be angry with
a negro than with a child; both instinctively see the true state
of the case, through all attempts to affect the contrary; and Sam
was in no wise disheartened by this rebuke, though he assumed an
air of doleful gravity, and stood with the corners of his mouth
lowered in most penitential style.

"Mas'r quite right,--quite; it was ugly on me,--there's no
disputin' that ar; and of course Mas'r and Missis wouldn't encourage
no such works. I'm sensible of dat ar; but a poor nigger like me
's 'mazin' tempted to act ugly sometimes, when fellers will cut up
such shines as dat ar Mas'r Haley; he an't no gen'l'man no way;
anybody's been raised as I've been can't help a seein' dat ar."

"Well, Sam," said Mrs. Shelby, "as you appear to have a
proper sense of your errors, you may go now and tell Aunt Chloe
she may get you some of that cold ham that was left of dinner today.
You and Andy must be hungry."

"Missis is a heap too good for us," said Sam, making his
bow with alacrity, and departing.

It will be perceived, as has been before intimated, that
Master Sam had a native talent that might, undoubtedly, have raised
him to eminence in political life,--a talent of making capital out
of everything that turned up, to be invested for his own especial
praise and glory; and having done up his piety and humility, as he
trusted, to the satisfaction of the parlor, he clapped his palm-leaf
on his head, with a sort of rakish, free-and-easy air, and proceeded
to the dominions of Aunt Chloe, with the intention of flourishing
largely in the kitchen.

"I'll speechify these yer niggers," said Sam to himself,
"now I've got a chance. Lord, I'll reel it off to make 'em stare!"

It must be observed that one of Sam's especial delights
had been to ride in attendance on his master to all kinds of
political gatherings, where, roosted on some rail fence, or perched
aloft in some tree, he would sit watching the orators, with the
greatest apparent gusto, and then, descending among the various
brethren of his own color, assembled on the same errand, he would
edify and delight them with the most ludicrous burlesques and
imitations, all delivered with the most imperturbable earnestness
and solemnity; and though the auditors immediately about him were
generally of his own color, it not unfrequently happened that they
were fringed pretty deeply with those of a fairer complexion, who
listened, laughing and winking, to Sam's great self-congratulation.
In fact, Sam considered oratory as his vocation, and never let slip
an opportunity of magnifying his office.

Now, between Sam and Aunt Chloe there had existed, from ancient
times, a sort of chronic feud, or rather a decided coolness;
but, as Sam was meditating something in the provision department,
as the necessary and obvious foundation of his operations, he
determined, on the present occasion, to be eminently conciliatory;
for he well knew that although "Missis' orders" would undoubtedly
be followed to the letter, yet he should gain a considerable deal
by enlisting the spirit also. He therefore appeared before Aunt
Chloe with a touchingly subdued, resigned expression, like one who
has suffered immeasurable hardships in behalf of a persecuted
fellow-creature,--enlarged upon the fact that Missis had directed
him to come to Aunt Chloe for whatever might be wanting to make up
the balance in his solids and fluids,--and thus unequivocally
acknowledged her right and supremacy in the cooking department,
and all thereto pertaining.

The thing took accordingly. No poor, simple, virtuous body was
ever cajoled by the attentions of an electioneering politician
with more ease than Aunt Chloe was won over by Master Sam's suavities;
and if he had been the prodigal son himself, he could not have been
overwhelmed with more maternal bountifulness; and he soon found
himself seated, happy and glorious, over a large tin pan, containing
a sort of _olla podrida_ of all that had appeared on the table for
two or three days past. Savory morsels of ham, golden blocks of
corn-cake, fragments of pie of every conceivable mathematical
figure, chicken wings, gizzards, and drumsticks, all appeared in
picturesque confusion; and Sam, as monarch of all he surveyed, sat
with his palm-leaf cocked rejoicingly to one side, and patronizing
Andy at his right hand.

The kitchen was full of all his compeers, who had hurried and
crowded in, from the various cabins, to hear the termination
of the day's exploits. Now was Sam's hour of glory. The story of
the day was rehearsed, with all kinds of ornament and varnishing
which might be necessary to heighten its effect; for Sam, like some
of our fashionable dilettanti, never allowed a story to lose any
of its gilding by passing through his hands. Roars of laughter
attended the narration, and were taken up and prolonged by all the
smaller fry, who were lying, in any quantity, about on the floor,
or perched in every corner. In the height of the uproar and
laughter, Sam, however, preserved an immovable gravity, only from
time to time rolling his eyes up, and giving his auditors divers
inexpressibly droll glances, without departing from the sententious
elevation of his oratory.

"Yer see, fellow-countrymen," said Sam, elevating a turkey's
leg, with energy, "yer see, now what dis yer chile 's up ter, for
fendin' yer all,--yes, all on yer. For him as tries to get one o'
our people is as good as tryin' to get all; yer see the principle
's de same,--dat ar's clar. And any one o' these yer drivers that
comes smelling round arter any our people, why, he's got _me_ in
his way; _I'm_ the feller he's got to set in with,--I'm the feller
for yer all to come to, bredren,--I'll stand up for yer rights,--I'll
fend 'em to the last breath!"

"Why, but Sam, yer telled me, only this mornin', that you'd
help this yer Mas'r to cotch Lizy; seems to me yer talk don't hang
together," said Andy.

"I tell you now, Andy," said Sam, with awful superiority,
"don't yer be a talkin' 'bout what yer don't know nothin' on; boys
like you, Andy, means well, but they can't be spected to collusitate
the great principles of action."

Andy looked rebuked, particularly by the hard word collusitate,
which most of the youngerly members of the company seemed to consider
as a settler in the case, while Sam proceeded.

"Dat ar was _conscience_, Andy; when I thought of gwine
arter Lizy, I railly spected Mas'r was sot dat way. When I found
Missis was sot the contrar, dat ar was conscience _more yet_,--cause
fellers allers gets more by stickin' to Missis' side,--so yer see
I 's persistent either way, and sticks up to conscience, and holds
on to principles. Yes, _principles_," said Sam, giving an enthusiastic
toss to a chicken's neck,--"what's principles good for, if we isn't
persistent, I wanter know? Thar, Andy, you may have dat ar bone,--tan't
picked quite clean."

Sam's audience hanging on his words with open mouth, he
could not but proceed.

"Dis yer matter 'bout persistence, feller-niggers," said Sam,
with the air of one entering into an abstruse subject, "dis
yer 'sistency 's a thing what an't seed into very clar, by most
anybody. Now, yer see, when a feller stands up for a thing one
day and night, de contrar de next, folks ses (and nat'rally
enough dey ses), why he an't persistent,--hand me dat ar bit o'
corn-cake, Andy. But let's look inter it. I hope the gen'lmen
and der fair sex will scuse my usin' an or'nary sort o' 'parison.
Here! I'm a trying to get top o' der hay. Wal, I puts up my larder
dis yer side; 'tan't no go;--den, cause I don't try dere no more,
but puts my larder right de contrar side, an't I persistent?
I'm persistent in wantin' to get up which ary side my larder is;
don't you see, all on yer?"

"It's the only thing ye ever was persistent in, Lord knows!"
muttered Aunt Chloe, who was getting rather restive; the merriment
of the evening being to her somewhat after the Scripture
comparison,--like "vinegar upon nitre."

"Yes, indeed!" said Sam, rising, full of supper and glory,
for a closing effort. "Yes, my feller-citizens and ladies of de
other sex in general, I has principles,--I'm proud to 'oon 'em,--they
's perquisite to dese yer times, and ter _all_ times. I has
principles, and I sticks to 'em like forty,--jest anything that I
thinks is principle, I goes in to 't;--I wouldn't mind if dey burnt
me 'live,--I'd walk right up to de stake, I would, and say, here
I comes to shed my last blood fur my principles, fur my country,
fur de gen'l interests of society."

"Well," said Aunt Chloe, "one o' yer principles will have to be
to get to bed some time tonight, and not be a keepin' everybody
up till mornin'; now, every one of you young uns that don't want
to be cracked, had better be scase, mighty sudden."

"Niggers! all on yer," said Sam, waving his palm-leaf with
benignity, "I give yer my blessin'; go to bed now, and be good boys."

And, with this pathetic benediction, the assembly dispersed.

 

 

CHAPTER IX

In Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man

 

The light of the cheerful fire shone on the rug and carpet
of a cosey parlor, and glittered on the sides of the tea-cups and
well-brightened tea-pot, as Senator Bird was drawing off his boots,
preparatory to inserting his feet in a pair of new handsome slippers,
which his wife had been working for him while away on his senatorial
tour. Mrs. Bird, looking the very picture of delight, was
superintending the arrangements of the table, ever and anon mingling
admonitory remarks to a number of frolicsome juveniles, who were
effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and mischief that
have astonished mothers ever since the flood.

"Tom, let the door-knob alone,--there's a man! Mary! Mary!
don't pull the cat's tail,--poor pussy! Jim, you mustn't climb on
that table,--no, no!--You don't know, my dear, what a surprise it
is to us all, to see you here tonight!" said she, at last, when
she found a space to say something to her husband.

"Yes, yes, I thought I'd just make a run down, spend the night,
and have a little comfort at home. I'm tired to death, and
my head aches!"

Mrs. Bird cast a glance at a camphor-bottle, which stood
in the half-open closet, and appeared to meditate an approach to
it, but her husband interposed.

"No, no, Mary, no doctoring! a cup of your good hot tea, and
some of our good home living, is what I want. It's a tiresome
business, this legislating!"

And the senator smiled, as if he rather liked the idea of
considering himself a sacrifice to his country.

"Well," said his wife, after the business of the tea-table was
getting rather slack, "and what have they been doing in the Senate?"

Now, it was a very unusual thing for gentle little Mrs. Bird
ever to trouble her head with what was going on in the house
of the state, very wisely considering that she had enough to do to
mind her own. Mr. Bird, therefore, opened his eyes in surprise,
and said,

"Not very much of importance."

"Well; but is it true that they have been passing a law
forbidding people to give meat and drink to those poor colored
folks that come along? I heard they were talking of some such law,
but I didn't think any Christian legislature would pass it!"

"Why, Mary, you are getting to be a politician, all at once."

"No, nonsense! I wouldn't give a fip for all your politics,
generally, but I think this is something downright cruel and
unchristian. I hope, my dear, no such law has been passed."

"There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off
the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that
thing has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that our
brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited, and it seems
necessary, and no more than Christian and kind, that something
should be done by our state to quiet the excitement."

"And what is the law? It don't forbid us to shelter those poor
creatures a night, does it, and to give 'em something comfortable
to eat, and a few old clothes, and send them quietly about their
business?"

"Why, yes, my dear; that would be aiding and abetting, you know."

Mrs. Bird was a timid, blushing little woman, of about four feet
in height, and with mild blue eyes, and a peach-blow complexion,
and the gentlest, sweetest voice in the world;--as for courage,
a moderate-sized cock-turkey had been known to put her to rout
at the very first gobble, and a stout house-dog, of moderate
capacity, would bring her into subjection merely by a show of
his teeth. Her husband and children were her entire world, and in
these she ruled more by entreaty and persuasion than by command
or argument. There was only one thing that was capable of arousing
her, and that provocation came in on the side of her unusually
gentle and sympathetic nature;--anything in the shape of cruelty
would throw her into a passion, which was the more alarming and
inexplicable in proportion to the general softness of her nature.
Generally the most indulgent and easy to be entreated of all mothers,
still her boys had a very reverent remembrance of a most vehement
chastisement she once bestowed on them, because she found them
leagued with several graceless boys of the neighborhood, stoning
a defenceless kitten.

"I'll tell you what," Master Bill used to say, "I was scared
that time. Mother came at me so that I thought she was crazy, and
I was whipped and tumbled off to bed, without any supper, before
I could get over wondering what had come about; and, after that,
I heard mother crying outside the door, which made me feel worse
than all the rest. I'll tell you what," he'd say, "we boys never
stoned another kitten!"

On the present occasion, Mrs. Bird rose quickly, with very
red cheeks, which quite improved her general appearance, and walked
up to her husband, with quite a resolute air, and said, in a
determined tone,

"Now, John, I want to know if you think such a law as that
is right and Christian?"

"You won't shoot me, now, Mary, if I say I do!"

"I never could have thought it of you, John; you didn't
vote for it?"

"Even so, my fair politician."

"You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures!
It's a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I'll break it,
for one, the first time I get a chance; and I hope I _shall_
have a chance, I do! Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman
can't give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures,
just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed
all their lives, poor things!"

"But, Mary, just listen to me. Your feelings are all quite
right, dear, and interesting, and I love you for them; but, then,
dear, we mustn't suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment;
you must consider it's a matter of private feeling,--there are
great public interests involved,--there is such a state of public
agitation rising, that we must put aside our private feelings."

"Now, John, I don't know anything about politics, but I can read
my Bible; and there I see that I must feed the hungry, clothe
the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible I mean
to follow."

"But in cases where your doing so would involve a great
public evil--"

"Obeying God never brings on public evils. I know it can't.
It's always safest, all round, to _do as He_ bids us.

"Now, listen to me, Mary, and I can state to you a very
clear argument, to show--"

"O, nonsense, John! you can talk all night, but you wouldn't
do it. I put it to you, John,--would _you_ now turn away a poor,
shivering, hungry creature from your door, because he was a runaway?
_Would_ you, now?"

Now, if the truth must be told, our senator had the misfortune
to be a man who had a particularly humane and accessible nature,
and turning away anybody that was in trouble never had been his
forte; and what was worse for him in this particular pinch of the
argument was, that his wife knew it, and, of course was making an
assault on rather an indefensible point. So he had recourse to the
usual means of gaining time for such cases made and provided; he said
"ahem," and coughed several times, took out his pocket-handkerchief,
and began to wipe his glasses. Mrs. Bird, seeing the defenceless
condition of the enemy's territory, had no more conscience than to
push her advantage.

"I should like to see you doing that, John--I really should!
Turning a woman out of doors in a snowstorm, for instance; or may
be you'd take her up and put her in jail, wouldn't you? You would
make a great hand at that!"

"Of course, it would be a very painful duty," began Mr. Bird,
in a moderate tone.

"Duty, John! don't use that word! You know it isn't a duty--it
can't be a duty! If folks want to keep their slaves from
running away, let 'em treat 'em well,--that's my doctrine. If I
had slaves (as I hope I never shall have), I'd risk their wanting
to run away from me, or you either, John. I tell you folks don't
run away when they are happy; and when they do run, poor creatures!
they suffer enough with cold and hunger and fear, without everybody's
turning against them; and, law or no law, I never will, so help me God!"

"Mary! Mary! My dear, let me reason with you."

"I hate reasoning, John,--especially reasoning on such subjects.
There's a way you political folks have of coming round and round
a plain right thing; and you don't believe in it yourselves, when
it comes to practice. I know _you_ well enough, John. You don't
believe it's right any more than I do; and you wouldn't do it any
sooner than I."

At this critical juncture, old Cudjoe, the black man-of-all-work,
put his head in at the door, and wished "Missis would come into
the kitchen;" and our senator, tolerably relieved, looked after
his little wife with a whimsical mixture of amusement and vexation,
and, seating himself in the arm-chair, began to read the papers.

After a moment, his wife's voice was heard at the door, in a quick,
earnest tone,--"John! John! I do wish you'd come here, a moment."

He laid down his paper, and went into the kitchen, and started,
quite amazed at the sight that presented itself:--A young
and slender woman, with garments torn and frozen, with one shoe
gone, and the stocking torn away from the cut and bleeding foot,
was laid back in a deadly swoon upon two chairs. There was the
impress of the despised race on her face, yet none could help
feeling its mournful and pathetic beauty, while its stony sharpness,
its cold, fixed, deathly aspect, struck a solemn chill over him.
He drew his breath short, and stood in silence. His wife, and
their only colored domestic, old Aunt Dinah, were busily engaged
in restorative measures; while old Cudjoe had got the boy on his
knee, and was busy pulling off his shoes and stockings, and chafing
his little cold feet.

"Sure, now, if she an't a sight to behold!" said old Dinah,
compassionately; "'pears like 't was the heat that made her faint.
She was tol'able peart when she cum in, and asked if she couldn't
warm herself here a spell; and I was just a-askin' her where she
cum from, and she fainted right down. Never done much hard work,
guess, by the looks of her hands."

"Poor creature!" said Mrs. Bird, compassionately, as the woman
slowly unclosed her large, dark eyes, and looked vacantly at her.
Suddenly an expression of agony crossed her face, and she
sprang up, saying, "O, my Harry! Have they got him?"

The boy, at this, jumped from Cudjoe's knee, and running
to her side put up his arms. "O, he's here! he's here!" she
exclaimed.

"O, ma'am!" said she, wildly, to Mrs. Bird, "do protect
us! don't let them get him!"

"Nobody shall hurt you here, poor woman," said Mrs. Bird,
encouragingly. "You are safe; don't be afraid."

"God bless you!" said the woman, covering her face and sobbing;
while the little boy, seeing her crying, tried to get into
her lap.

With many gentle and womanly offices, which none knew better
how to render than Mrs. Bird, the poor woman was, in time, rendered
more calm. A temporary bed was provided for her on the settle,
near the fire; and, after a short time, she fell into a heavy
slumber, with the child, who seemed no less weary, soundly sleeping
on her arm; for the mother resisted, with nervous anxiety, the
kindest attempts to take him from her; and, even in sleep, her arm
encircled him with an unrelaxing clasp, as if she could not even
then be beguiled of her vigilant hold.

Mr. and Mrs. Bird had gone back to the parlor, where, strange
as it may appear, no reference was made, on either side, to
the preceding conversation; but Mrs. Bird busied herself with
her knitting-work, and Mr. Bird pretended to be reading the paper.

"I wonder who and what she is!" said Mr. Bird, at last, as
he laid it down.

"When she wakes up and feels a little rested, we will see,"
said Mrs. Bird.

"I say, wife!" said Mr. Bird after musing in silence over
his newspaper.

"Well, dear!"

"She couldn't wear one of your gowns, could she, by any
letting down, or such matter? She seems to be rather larger than
you are."

A quite perceptible smile glimmered on Mrs. Bird's face,
as she answered, "We'll see."

Another pause, and Mr. Bird again broke out,

"I say, wife!"

"Well! What now?"

"Why, there's that old bombazin cloak, that you keep on purpose
to put over me when I take my afternoon's nap; you might as well
give her that,--she needs clothes."

At this instant, Dinah looked in to say that the woman was
awake, and wanted to see Missis.

Mr. and Mrs. Bird went into the kitchen, followed by the two
eldest boys, the smaller fry having, by this time, been safely
disposed of in bed.

The woman was now sitting up on the settle, by the fire.
She was looking steadily into the blaze, with a calm, heart-broken
expression, very different from her former agitated wildness.

"Did you want me?" said Mrs. Bird, in gentle tones. "I hope you
feel better now, poor woman!"

A long-drawn, shivering sigh was the only answer; but she
lifted her dark eyes, and fixed them on her with such a forlorn
and imploring expression, that the tears came into the little
woman's eyes.

"You needn't be afraid of anything; we are friends here, poor woman!
Tell me where you came from, and what you want," said she.

"I came from Kentucky," said the woman.

"When?" said Mr. Bird, taking up the interogatory.

"Tonight."

"How did you come?"

"I crossed on the ice."

"Crossed on the ice!" said every one present.

"Yes," said the woman, slowly, "I did. God helping me, I
crossed on the ice; for they were behind me--right behind--and
there was no other way!"

"Law, Missis," said Cudjoe, "the ice is all in broken-up
blocks, a swinging and a tetering up and down in the water!"

"I know it was--I know it!" said she, wildly; "but I did it!
I wouldn't have thought I could,--I didn't think I should get
over, but I didn't care! I could but die, if I didn't. The Lord
helped me; nobody knows how much the Lord can help 'em, till they
try," said the woman, with a flashing eye.

"Were you a slave?" said Mr. Bird.

"Yes, sir; I belonged to a man in Kentucky."

"Was he unkind to you?"

"No, sir; he was a good master."

"And was your mistress unkind to you?"

"No, sir--no! my mistress was always good to me."

"What could induce you to leave a good home, then, and run
away, and go through such dangers?"

The woman looked up at Mrs. Bird, with a keen, scrutinizing
glance, and it did not escape her that she was dressed in deep
mourning.

"Ma'am," she said, suddenly, "have you ever lost a child?"

The question was unexpected, and it was thrust on a new wound;
for it was only a month since a darling child of the family
had been laid in the grave.

Mr. Bird turned around and walked to the window, and Mrs.
Bird burst into tears; but, recovering her voice, she said,

"Why do you ask that? I have lost a little one."

"Then you will feel for me. I have lost two, one after
another,--left 'em buried there when I came away; and I had only
this one left. I never slept a night without him; he was all I had.
He was my comfort and pride, day and night; and, ma'am, they
were going to take him away from me,--to _sell_ him,--sell him down
south, ma'am, to go all alone,--a baby that had never been away
from his mother in his life! I couldn't stand it, ma'am. I knew
I never should be good for anything, if they did; and when I knew
the papers the papers were signed, and he was sold, I took him and
came off in the night; and they chased me,--the man that bought
him, and some of Mas'r's folks,--and they were coming down right
behind me, and I heard 'em. I jumped right on to the ice; and how
I got across, I don't know,--but, first I knew, a man was helping
me up the bank."

The woman did not sob nor weep. She had gone to a place
where tears are dry; but every one around her was, in some way
characteristic of themselves, showing signs of hearty sympathy.

The two little boys, after a desperate rummaging in their pockets,
in search of those pocket-handkerchiefs which mothers know are
never to be found there, had thrown themselves disconsolately
into the skirts of their mother's gown, where they were sobbing,
and wiping their eyes and noses, to their hearts' content;--Mrs.
Bird had her face fairly hidden in her pocket-handkerchief; and
old Dinah, with tears streaming down her black, honest face, was
ejaculating, "Lord have mercy on us!" with all the fervor of a
camp-meeting;--while old Cudjoe, rubbing his eyes very hard with
his cuffs, and making a most uncommon variety of wry faces,
occasionally responded in the same key, with great fervor. Our
senator was a statesman, and of course could not be expected to
cry, like other mortals; and so he turned his back to the company,
and looked out of the window, and seemed particularly busy in
clearing his throat and wiping his spectacle-glasses, occasionally
blowing his nose in a manner that was calculated to excite suspicion,
had any one been in a state to observe critically.

"How came you to tell me you had a kind master?" he suddenly
exclaimed, gulping down very resolutely some kind of rising in his
throat, and turning suddenly round upon the woman.

"Because he _was_ a kind master; I'll say that of him, any
way;--and my mistress was kind; but they couldn't help themselves.
They were owing money; and there was some way, I can't tell how,
that a man had a hold on them, and they were obliged to give him
his will. I listened, and heard him telling mistress that, and
she begging and pleading for me,--and he told her he couldn't
help himself, and that the papers were all drawn;--and then
it was I took him and left my home, and came away. I knew 't
was no use of my trying to live, if they did it; for 't 'pears like
this child is all I have."

"Have you no husband?"

"Yes, but he belongs to another man. His master is real hard
to him, and won't let him come to see me, hardly ever; and
he's grown harder and harder upon us, and he threatens to sell him
down south;--it's like I'll never see _him_ again!"

The quiet tone in which the woman pronounced these words might
have led a superficial observer to think that she was entirely
apathetic; but there was a calm, settled depth of anguish in her
large, dark eye, that spoke of something far otherwise.

"And where do you mean to go, my poor woman?" said Mrs. Bird.

"To Canada, if I only knew where that was. Is it very far off,
is Canada?" said she, looking up, with a simple, confiding air,
to Mrs. Bird's face.

"Poor thing!" said Mrs. Bird, involuntarily.

"Is 't a very great way off, think?" said the woman, earnestly.

"Much further than you think, poor child!" said Mrs. Bird;
"but we will try to think what can be done for you. Here, Dinah,
make her up a bed in your own room, close by the kitchen, and I'll
think what to do for her in the morning. Meanwhile, never fear,
poor woman; put your trust in God; he will protect you."

Mrs. Bird and her husband reentered the parlor. She sat down
in her little rocking-chair before the fire, swaying thoughtfully
to and fro. Mr. Bird strode up and down the room, grumbling to
himself, "Pish! pshaw! confounded awkward business!" At length,
striding up to his wife, he said,

"I say, wife, she'll have to get away from here, this very night.
That fellow will be down on the scent bright and early tomorrow
morning: if 't was only the woman, she could lie quiet till it was
over; but that little chap can't be kept still by a troop of horse
and foot, I'll warrant me; he'll bring it all out, popping his head
out of some window or door. A pretty kettle of fish it would be
for me, too, to be caught with them both here, just now! No; they'll
have to be got off tonight."

"Tonight! How is it possible?--where to?"

"Well, I know pretty well where to," said the senator, beginning
to put on his boots, with a reflective air; and, stopping when
his leg was half in, he embraced his knee with both hands,
and seemed to go off in deep meditation.

"It's a confounded awkward, ugly business," said he, at last,
beginning to tug at his boot-straps again, "and that's a fact!"
After one boot was fairly on, the senator sat with the other
in his hand, profoundly studying the figure of the carpet. "It
will have to be done, though, for aught I see,--hang it all!" and
he drew the other boot anxiously on, and looked out of the window.

Now, little Mrs. Bird was a discreet woman,--a woman who
never in her life said, "I told you so!" and, on the present
occasion, though pretty well aware of the shape her husband's
meditations were taking, she very prudently forbore to meddle with
them, only sat very quietly in her chair, and looked quite ready
to hear her liege lord's intentions, when he should think proper
to utter them.

"You see," he said, "there's my old client, Van Trompe, has come
over from Kentucky, and set all his slaves free; and he has
bought a place seven miles up the creek, here, back in the
woods, where nobody goes, unless they go on purpose; and it's a
place that isn't found in a hurry. There she'd be safe enough;
but the plague of the thing is, nobody could drive a carriage there
tonight, but _me_."

"Why not? Cudjoe is an excellent driver."

"Ay, ay, but here it is. The creek has to be crossed twice;
and the second crossing is quite dangerous, unless one knows it as
I do. I have crossed it a hundred times on horseback, and know
exactly the turns to take. And so, you see, there's no help for it.
Cudjoe must put in the horses, as quietly as may be, about
twelve o'clock, and I'll take her over; and then, to give color to
the matter, he must carry me on to the next tavern to take the
stage for Columbus, that comes by about three or four, and so it
will look as if I had had the carriage only for that. I shall get
into business bright and early in the morning. But I'm thinking
I shall feel rather cheap there, after all that's been said and
done; but, hang it, I can't help it!"

"Your heart is better than your head, in this case, John,"
said the wife, laying her little white hand on his. "Could I ever
have loved you, had I not known you better than you know yourself?"
And the little woman looked so handsome, with the tears sparkling
in her eyes, that the senator thought he must be a decidedly clever
fellow, to get such a pretty creature into such a passionate
admiration of him; and so, what could he do but walk off soberly,
to see about the carriage. At the door, however, he stopped a
moment, and then coming back, he said, with some hesitation.

"Mary, I don't know how you'd feel about it, but there's that
drawer full of things--of--of--poor little Henry's." So saying,
he turned quickly on his heel, and shut the door after him.

His wife opened the little bed-room door adjoining her room and,
taking the candle, set it down on the top of a bureau there;
then from a small recess she took a key, and put it thoughtfully
in the lock of a drawer, and made a sudden pause, while two boys,
who, boy like, had followed close on her heels, stood looking, with
silent, significant glances, at their mother. And oh! mother that
reads this, has there never been in your house a drawer, or a closet,
the opening of which has been to you like the opening again of a
little grave? Ah! happy mother that you are, if it has not been so.

Mrs. Bird slowly opened the drawer. There were little coats
of many a form and pattern, piles of aprons, and rows of small
stockings; and even a pair of little shoes, worn and rubbed
at the toes, were peeping from the folds of a paper. There was a
toy horse and wagon, a top, a ball,--memorials gathered with many
a tear and many a heart-break! She sat down by the drawer, and,
leaning her head on her hands over it, wept till the tears fell
through her fingers into the drawer; then suddenly raising her
head, she began, with nervous haste, selecting the plainest and
most substantial articles, and gathering them into a bundle.

"Mamma," said one of the boys, gently touching her arm,
"you going to give away _those_ things?"

"My dear boys," she said, softly and earnestly, "if our dear,
loving little Henry looks down from heaven, he would be glad
to have us do this. I could not find it in my heart to give them
away to any common person--to anybody that was happy; but I give
them to a mother more heart-broken and sorrowful than I am; and I
hope God will send his blessings with them!"

There are in this world blessed souls, whose sorrows all
spring up into joys for others; whose earthly hopes, laid in the
grave with many tears, are the seed from which spring healing
flowers and balm for the desolate and the distressed. Among such
was the delicate woman who sits there by the lamp, dropping slow
tears, while she prepares the memorials of her own lost one for
the outcast wanderer.

After a while, Mrs. Bird opened a wardrobe, and, taking from
thence a plain, serviceable dress or two, she sat down busily
to her work-table, and, with needle, scissors, and thimble, at
hand, quietly commenced the "letting down" process which her husband
had recommended, and continued busily at it till the old clock in
the corner struck twelve, and she heard the low rattling of wheels
at the door.

"Mary," said her husband, coming in, with his overcoat in
his hand, "you must wake her up now; we must be off."

Mrs. Bird hastily deposited the various articles she had
collected in a small plain trunk, and locking it, desired her
husband to see it in the carriage, and then proceeded to call
the woman. Soon, arrayed in a cloak, bonnet, and shawl, that had
belonged to her benefactress, she appeared at the door with her
child in her arms. Mr. Bird hurried her into the carriage, and
Mrs. Bird pressed on after her to the carriage steps. Eliza leaned
out of the carriage, and put out her hand,--a hand as soft and
beautiful as was given in return. She fixed her large, dark eyes,
full of earnest meaning, on Mrs. Bird's face, and seemed going to
speak. Her lips moved,--she tried once or twice, but there was no
sound,--and pointing upward, with a look never to be forgotten,
she fell back in the seat, and covered her face. The door was
shut, and the carriage drove on.

What a situation, now, for a patriotic senator, that had been
all the week before spurring up the legislature of his native
state to pass more stringent resolutions against escaping fugitives,
their harborers and abettors!

Our good senator in his native state had not been exceeded
by any of his brethren at Washington, in the sort of eloquence
which has won for them immortal renown! How sublimely he had sat
with his hands in his pockets, and scouted all sentimental weakness
of those who would put the welfare of a few miserable fugitives
before great state interests!

He was as bold as a lion about it, and "mightily convinced"
not only himself, but everybody that heard him;--but then his idea
of a fugitive was only an idea of the letters that spell the
word,--or at the most, the image of a little newspaper picture of
a man with a stick and bundle with "Ran away from the subscriber"
under it. The magic of the real presence of distress,--the
imploring human eye, the frail, trembling human hand, the
despairing appeal of helpless agony,--these he had never tried.
He had never thought that a fugitive might be a hapless mother,
a defenceless child,--like that one which was now wearing his
lost boy's little well-known cap; and so, as our poor senator
was not stone or steel,--as he was a man, and a downright
noble-hearted one, too,--he was, as everybody must see, in a sad
case for his patriotism. And you need not exult over him, good
brother of the Southern States; for we have some inklings that
many of you, under similar circumstances, would not do much better.
We have reason to know, in Kentucky, as in Mississippi, are noble
and generous hearts, to whom never was tale of suffering told in vain.
Ah, good brother! is it fair for you to expect of us services which
your own brave, honorable heart would not allow you to render,
were you in our place?

Be that as it may, if our good senator was a political sinner,
he was in a fair way to expiate it by his night's penance.
There had been a long continuous period of rainy weather, and the
soft, rich earth of Ohio, as every one knows, is admirably suited
to the manufacture of mud--and the road was an Ohio railroad of
the good old times.

"And pray, what sort of a road may that be?" says some eastern
traveller, who has been accustomed to connect no ideas with
a railroad, but those of smoothness or speed.

Know, then, innocent eastern friend, that in benighted regions
of the west, where the mud is of unfathomable and sublime depth,
roads are made of round rough logs, arranged transversely side
by side, and coated over in their pristine freshness with earth,
turf, and whatsoever may come to hand, and then the rejoicing
native calleth it a road, and straightway essayeth to ride thereupon.
In process of time, the rains wash off all the turf and grass
aforesaid, move the logs hither and thither, in picturesque positions,
up, down and crosswise, with divers chasms and ruts of black mud
intervening.

Over such a road as this our senator went stumbling along,
making moral reflections as continuously as under the circumstances
could be expected,--the carriage proceeding along much as
follows,--bump! bump! bump! slush! down in the mud!--the senator,
woman and child, reversing their positions so suddenly as to come,
without any very accurate adjustment, against the windows of the
down-hill side. Carriage sticks fast, while Cudjoe on the outside
is heard making a great muster among the horses. After various
ineffectual pullings and twitchings, just as the senator is losing
all patience, the carriage suddenly rights itself with a bounce,--two
front wheels go down into another abyss, and senator, woman, and
child, all tumble promiscuously on to the front seat,--senator's
hat is jammed over his eyes and nose quite unceremoniously, and he
considers himself fairly extinguished;--child cries, and Cudjoe on
the outside delivers animated addresses to the horses, who are
kicking, and floundering, and straining under repeated cracks of
the whip. Carriage springs up, with another bounce,--down go the
hind wheels,--senator, woman, and child, fly over on to the back
seat, his elbows encountering her bonnet, and both her feet being
jammed into his hat, which flies off in the concussion. After a
few moments the "slough" is passed, and the horses stop, panting;--the
senator finds his hat, the woman straightens her bonnet and hushes
her child, and they brace themselves for what is yet to come.

For a while only the continuous bump! bump! intermingled,
just by way of variety, with divers side plunges and compound
shakes; and they begin to flatter themselves that they are not so
badly off, after all. At last, with a square plunge, which puts
all on to their feet and then down into their seats with
incredible quickness, the carriage stops,--and, after much
outside commotion, Cudjoe appears at the door.

"Please, sir, it's powerful bad spot, this' yer. I don't
know how we's to get clar out. I'm a thinkin' we'll have to be a
gettin' rails."

The senator despairingly steps out, picking gingerly for some
firm foothold; down goes one foot an immeasurable depth,--he
tries to pull it up, loses his balance, and tumbles over into the
mud, and is fished out, in a very despairing condition, by Cudjoe.

But we forbear, out of sympathy to our readers' bones.
Western travellers, who have beguiled the midnight hour in the
interesting process of pulling down rail fences, to pry their
carriages out of mud holes, will have a respectful and mournful
sympathy with our unfortunate hero. We beg them to drop a silent
tear, and pass on.

It was full late in the night when the carriage emerged,
dripping and bespattered, out of the creek, and stood at the door
of a large farmhouse.

It took no inconsiderable perseverance to arouse the inmates;
but at last the respectable proprietor appeared, and undid the door.
He was a great, tall, bristling Orson of a fellow, full six feet
and some inches in his stockings, and arrayed in a red flannel
hunting-shirt. A very heavy mat of sandy hair, in a decidedly
tousled condition, and a beard of some days' growth, gave the worthy
man an appearance, to say the least, not particularly prepossessing.
He stood for a few minutes holding the candle aloft, and blinking
on our travellers with a dismal and mystified expression that was
truly ludicrous. It cost some effort of our senator to induce him
to comprehend the case fully; and while he is doing his best at
that, we shall give him a little introduction to our readers.

Honest old John Van Trompe was once quite a considerable land-owner
and slave-owner in the State of Kentucky. Having "nothing of the
bear about him but the skin," and being gifted by nature with
a great, honest, just heart, quite equal to his gigantic frame,
he had been for some years witnessing with repressed uneasiness
the workings of a system equally bad for oppressor and oppressed.
At last, one day, John's great heart had swelled altogether too
big to wear his bonds any longer; so he just took his pocket-book
out of his desk, and went over into Ohio, and bought a quarter of
a township of good, rich land, made out free papers for all his
people,--men, women, and children,--packed them up in wagons, and
sent them off to settle down; and then honest John turned his face
up the creek, and sat quietly down on a snug, retired farm, to
enjoy his conscience and his reflections.

"Are you the man that will shelter a poor woman and child
from slave-catchers?" said the senator, explicitly.

"I rather think I am," said honest John, with some considerable emphasis.

"I thought so,"' said the senator.

"If there's anybody comes," said the good man, stretching his tall,
muscular form upward, "why here I'm ready for him: and I've got
seven sons, each six foot high, and they'll be ready for 'em.
Give our respects to 'em," said John; "tell 'em it's no matter
how soon they call,--make no kinder difference to us," said John,
running his fingers through the shock of hair that thatched his
head, and bursting out into a great laugh.

Weary, jaded, and spiritless, Eliza dragged herself up to
the door, with her child lying in a heavy sleep on her arm.
The rough man held the candle to her face, and uttering a kind of
compassionate grunt, opened the door of a small bed-room adjoining
to the large kitchen where they were standing, and motioned her
to go in. He took down a candle, and lighting it, set it upon
the table, and then addressed himself to Eliza.

"Now, I say, gal, you needn't be a bit afeard, let who will
come here. I'm up to all that sort o' thing," said he, pointing
to two or three goodly rifles over the mantel-piece; "and most
people that know me know that 't wouldn't be healthy to try to get
anybody out o' my house when I'm agin it. So _now_ you jist go to
sleep now, as quiet as if yer mother was a rockin' ye," said he,
as he shut the door.

"Why, this is an uncommon handsome un," he said to the senator.
"Ah, well; handsome uns has the greatest cause to run, sometimes,
if they has any kind o' feelin, such as decent women should.
I know all about that."

The senator, in a few words, briefly explained Eliza's history.

"O! ou! aw! now, I want to know?" said the good man, pitifully;
"sho! now sho! That's natur now, poor crittur! hunted down
now like a deer,--hunted down, jest for havin' natural feelin's,
and doin' what no kind o' mother could help a doin'! I tell ye
what, these yer things make me come the nighest to swearin', now,
o' most anything," said honest John, as he wiped his eyes with the
back of a great, freckled, yellow hand. "I tell yer what, stranger,
it was years and years before I'd jine the church, 'cause the
ministers round in our parts used to preach that the Bible went in
for these ere cuttings up,--and I couldn't be up to 'em with their
Greek and Hebrew, and so I took up agin 'em, Bible and all. I never
jined the church till I found a minister that was up to 'em all
in Greek and all that, and he said right the contrary; and then
I took right hold, and jined the church,--I did now, fact," said
John, who had been all this time uncorking some very frisky bottled
cider, which at this juncture he presented.

"Ye'd better jest put up here, now, till daylight," said he,
heartily, "and I'll call up the old woman, and have a bed
got ready for you in no time."

"Thank you, my good friend," said the senator, "I must be
along, to take the night stage for Columbus."

"Ah! well, then, if you must, I'll go a piece with you, and
show you a cross road that will take you there better than the
road you came on. That road's mighty bad."

John equipped himself, and, with a lantern in hand, was soon
seen guiding the senator's carriage towards a road that ran
down in a hollow, back of his dwelling. When they parted, the
senator put into his hand a ten-dollar bill.

"It's for her," he said, briefly.

"Ay, ay," said John, with equal conciseness.

They shook hands, and parted.

 

 

CHAPTER X

The Property Is Carried Off

 

The February morning looked gray and drizzling through the
window of Uncle Tom's cabin. It looked on downcast faces, the
images of mournful hearts. The little table stood out before the
fire, covered with an ironing-cloth; a coarse but clean shirt or
two, fresh from the iron, hung on the back of a chair by the fire,
and Aunt Chloe had another spread out before her on the table.
Carefully she rubbed and ironed every fold and every hem, with the
most scrupulous exactness, every now and then raising her hand to
her face to wipe off the tears that were coursing down her cheeks.

Tom sat by, with his Testament open on his knee, and his head
leaning upon his hand;--but neither spoke. It was yet early,
and the children lay all asleep together in their little rude
trundle-bed.

Tom, who had, to the full, the gentle, domestic heart,
which woe for them! has been a peculiar characteristic of his
unhappy race, got up and walked silently to look at his children.

"It's the last time," he said.

Aunt Chloe did not answer, only rubbed away over and over
on the coarse shirt, already as smooth as hands could make it; and
finally setting her iron suddenly down with a despairing plunge,
she sat down to the table, and "lifted up her voice and wept."

"S'pose we must be resigned; but oh Lord! how ken I? If I know'd
anything whar you 's goin', or how they'd sarve you! Missis says
she'll try and 'deem ye, in a year or two; but Lor! nobody
never comes up that goes down thar! They kills 'em! I've hearn 'em
tell how dey works 'em up on dem ar plantations."

"There'll be the same God there, Chloe, that there is here."

"Well," said Aunt Chloe, "s'pose dere will; but de Lord lets
drefful things happen, sometimes. I don't seem to get no
comfort dat way."

"I'm in the Lord's hands," said Tom; "nothin' can go no furder
than he lets it;--and thar's _one_ thing I can thank him for.
It's _me_ that's sold and going down, and not you nur the chil'en.
Here you're safe;--what comes will come only on me; and the Lord,
he'll help me,--I know he will."

Ah, brave, manly heart,--smothering thine own sorrow, to
comfort thy beloved ones! Tom spoke with a thick utterance, and
with a bitter choking in his throat,--but he spoke brave and strong.

"Let's think on our marcies!" he added, tremulously, as if
he was quite sure he needed to think on them very hard indeed.

"Marcies!" said Aunt Chloe; "don't see no marcy in 't!
'tan't right! tan't right it should be so! Mas'r never ought ter
left it so that ye _could_ be took for his debts. Ye've arnt him
all he gets for ye, twice over. He owed ye yer freedom, and ought
ter gin 't to yer years ago. Mebbe he can't help himself now, but
I feel it's wrong. Nothing can't beat that ar out o' me. Sich a
faithful crittur as ye've been,--and allers sot his business 'fore
yer own every way,--and reckoned on him more than yer own wife and
chil'en! Them as sells heart's love and heart's blood, to get out
thar scrapes, de Lord'll be up to 'em!"

"Chloe! now, if ye love me, ye won't talk so, when perhaps
jest the last time we'll ever have together! And I'll tell ye,
Chloe, it goes agin me to hear one word agin Mas'r. Wan't he put
in my arms a baby?--it's natur I should think a heap of him.
And he couldn't be spected to think so much of poor Tom. Mas'rs is
used to havin' all these yer things done for 'em, and nat'lly they
don't think so much on 't. They can't be spected to, no way.
Set him 'longside of other Mas'rs--who's had the treatment and livin'
I've had? And he never would have let this yer come on me, if he
could have seed it aforehand. I know he wouldn't."

"Wal, any way, thar's wrong about it _somewhar_," said Aunt
Chloe, in whom a stubborn sense of justice was a predominant trait;
"I can't jest make out whar 't is, but thar's wrong somewhar, I'm
_clar_ o' that."

"Yer ought ter look up to the Lord above--he's above
all--thar don't a sparrow fall without him."

"It don't seem to comfort me, but I spect it orter," said Aunt Chloe.
"But dar's no use talkin'; I'll jes wet up de corn-cake, and get ye
one good breakfast, 'cause nobody knows when you'll get another."

In order to appreciate the sufferings of the negroes sold
south, it must be remembered that all the instinctive affections
of that race are peculiarly strong. Their local attachments are
very abiding. They are not naturally daring and enterprising, but
home-loving and affectionate. Add to this all the terrors with
which ignorance invests the unknown, and add to this, again, that
selling to the south is set before the negro from childhood as the
last severity of punishment. The threat that terrifies more than
whipping or torture of any kind is the threat of being sent down
river. We have ourselves heard this feeling expressed by them,
and seen the unaffected horror with which they will sit in their
gossipping hours, and tell frightful stories of that "down river,"
which to them is

_"That undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns."_[1]

 

[1] A slightly inaccurate quotation from _Hamlet_, Act III,
scene I, lines 369-370.

 

A missionary figure among the fugitives in Canada told us that
many of the fugitives confessed themselves to have escaped
from comparatively kind masters, and that they were induced to
brave the perils of escape, in almost every case, by the desperate
horror with which they regarded being sold south,--a doom which
was hanging either over themselves or their husbands, their wives
or children. This nerves the African, naturally patient, timid
and unenterprising, with heroic courage, and leads him to suffer
hunger, cold, pain, the perils of the wilderness, and the more
dread penalties of recapture.

The simple morning meal now smoked on the table, for Mrs. Shelby
had excused Aunt Chloe's attendance at the great house that
morning. The poor soul had expended all her little energies on
this farewell feast,--had killed and dressed her choicest chicken,
and prepared her corn-cake with scrupulous exactness, just to her
husband's taste, and brought out certain mysterious jars on the
mantel-piece, some preserves that were never produced except on
extreme occasions.

"Lor, Pete," said Mose, triumphantly, "han't we got a buster
of a breakfast!" at the same time catching at a fragment of the
chicken.

Aunt Chloe gave him a sudden box on the ear. "Thar now! crowing
over the last breakfast yer poor daddy's gwine to have to home!"

"O, Chloe!" said Tom, gently.

"Wal, I can't help it," said Aunt Chloe, hiding her face
in her apron; "I 's so tossed about it, it makes me act ugly."

The boys stood quite still, looking first at their father and
then at their mother, while the baby, climbing up her clothes,
began an imperious, commanding cry.

"Thar!" said Aunt Chloe, wiping her eyes and taking up the baby;
"now I's done, I hope,--now do eat something. This yer's my
nicest chicken. Thar, boys, ye shall have some, poor critturs!
Yer mammy's been cross to yer."

The boys needed no second invitation, and went in with great
zeal for the eatables; and it was well they did so, as
otherwise there would have been very little performed to any
purpose by the party.

"Now," said Aunt Chloe, bustling about after breakfast, "I must
put up yer clothes. Jest like as not, he'll take 'em all away.
I know thar ways--mean as dirt, they is! Wal, now, yer flannels
for rhumatis is in this corner; so be careful, 'cause there
won't nobody make ye no more. Then here's yer old shirts,
and these yer is new ones. I toed off these yer stockings last
night, and put de ball in 'em to mend with. But Lor! who'll ever
mend for ye?" and Aunt Chloe, again overcome, laid her head on the
box side, and sobbed. "To think on 't! no crittur to do for ye,
sick or well! I don't railly think I ought ter be good now!"

The boys, having eaten everything there was on the
breakfast-table, began now to take some thought of the case; and,
seeing their mother crying, and their father looking very sad,
began to whimper and put their hands to their eyes. Uncle Tom had
the baby on his knee, and was letting her enjoy herself to the
utmost extent, scratching his face and pulling his hair, and
occasionally breaking out into clamorous explosions of delight,
evidently arising out of her own internal reflections.

"Ay, crow away, poor crittur!" said Aunt Chloe; ye'll have
to come to it, too! ye'll live to see yer husband sold, or mebbe
be sold yerself; and these yer boys, they's to be sold, I s'pose,
too, jest like as not, when dey gets good for somethin'; an't no
use in niggers havin' nothin'!"

Here one of the boys called out, "Thar's Missis a-comin' in!"

"She can't do no good; what's she coming for?" said Aunt Chloe.

Mrs. Shelby entered. Aunt Chloe set a chair for her in a
manner decidedly gruff and crusty. She did not seem to notice
either the action or the manner. She looked pale and anxious.

"Tom," she said, "I come to--" and stopping suddenly, and
regarding the silent group, she sat down in the chair, and, covering
her face with her handkerchief, began to sob.

"Lor, now, Missis, don't--don't!" said Aunt Chloe, bursting
out in her turn; and for a few moments they all wept in company.
And in those tears they all shed together, the high and the lowly,
melted away all the heart-burnings and anger of the oppressed. O,
ye who visit the distressed, do ye know that everything your money
can buy, given with a cold, averted face, is not worth one honest
tear shed in real sympathy?

"My good fellow," said Mrs. Shelby, "I can't give you anything
to do you any good. If I give you money, it will only be taken
from you. But I tell you solemnly, and before God, that I will
keep trace of you, and bring you back as soon as I can command
the money;--and, till then, trust in God!"

Here the boys called out that Mas'r Haley was coming, and then
an unceremonious kick pushed open the door. Haley stood there
in very ill humor, having ridden hard the night before, and being
not at all pacified by his ill success in recapturing his prey.

"Come," said he, "ye nigger, ye'r ready? Servant, ma'am!"
said he, taking off his hat, as he saw Mrs. Shelby.

Aunt Chloe shut and corded the box, and, getting up, looked
gruffly on the trader, her tears seeming suddenly turned
to sparks of fire.

Tom rose up meekly, to follow his new master, and raised
up his heavy box on his shoulder. His wife took the baby in her
arms to go with him to the wagon, and the children, still crying,
trailed on behind.

Mrs. Shelby, walking up to the trader, detained him for a
few moments, talking with him in an earnest manner; and while she
was thus talking, the whole family party proceeded to a wagon, that
stood ready harnessed at the door. A crowd of all the old and
young hands on the place stood gathered around it, to bid farewell
to their old associate. Tom had been looked up to, both as a head
servant and a Christian teacher, by all the place, and there was
much honest sympathy and grief about him, particularly among the women.

"Why, Chloe, you bar it better 'n we do!" said one of the women,
who had been weeping freely, noticing the gloomy calmness
with which Aunt Chloe stood by the wagon.

"I's done _my_ tears!" she said, looking grimly at the trader,
who was coming up. "I does not feel to cry 'fore dat ar
old limb, no how!"

"Get in!" said Haley to Tom, as he strode through the crowd
of servants, who looked at him with lowering brows.

Tom got in, and Haley, drawing out from under the wagon
seat a heavy pair of shackles, made them fast around each ankle.

A smothered groan of indignation ran through the whole
circle, and Mrs. Shelby spoke from the verandah,--"Mr.
Haley, I assure you that precaution is entirely unnecessary."

"Don' know, ma'am; I've lost one five hundred dollars from
this yer place, and I can't afford to run no more risks."

"What else could she spect on him?" said Aunt Chloe,
indignantly, while the two boys, who now seemed to comprehend at
once their father's destiny, clung to her gown, sobbing and
groaning vehemently.

"I'm sorry," said Tom, "that Mas'r George happened to be away."

George had gone to spend two or three days with a companion
on a neighboring estate, and having departed early in the morning,
before Tom's misfortune had been made public, had left without
hearing of it.

"Give my love to Mas'r George," he said, earnestly.

Haley whipped up the horse, and, with a steady, mournful
look, fixed to the last on the old place, Tom was whirled away.

Mr. Shelby at this time was not at home. He had sold Tom
under the spur of a driving necessity, to get out of the power of
a man whom he dreaded,--and his first feeling, after the consummation
of the bargain, had been that of relief. But his wife's expostulations
awoke his half-slumbering regrets; and Tom's manly disinterestedness
increased the unpleasantness of his feelings. It was in vain that
he said to himself that he had a _right_ to do it,--that everybody
did it,--and that some did it without even the excuse of necessity;--he
could not satisfy his own feelings; and that he might not witness
the unpleasant scenes of the consummation, he had gone on a short
business tour up the country, hoping that all would be over before
he returned.

Tom and Haley rattled on along the dusty road, whirling
past every old familiar spot, until the bounds of the estate were
fairly passed, and they found themselves out on the open pike.
After they had ridden about a mile, Haley suddenly drew up at the
door of a blacksmith's shop, when, taking out with him a pair of
handcuffs, he stepped into the shop, to have a little alteration
in them.

"These yer 's a little too small for his build," said Haley,
showing the fetters, and pointing out to Tom.

"Lor! now, if thar an't Shelby's Tom. He han't sold him,
now?" said the smith.

"Yes, he has," said Haley.

"Now, ye don't! well, reely," said the smith, "who'd a
thought it! Why, ye needn't go to fetterin' him up this yer way.
He's the faithfullest, best crittur--"

"Yes, yes," said Haley; "but your good fellers are just
the critturs to want ter run off. Them stupid ones, as doesn't
care whar they go, and shifless, drunken ones, as don't care for
nothin', they'll stick by, and like as not be rather pleased to be
toted round; but these yer prime fellers, they hates it like sin.
No way but to fetter 'em; got legs,--they'll use 'em,--no mistake."

"Well," said the smith, feeling among his tools, "them
plantations down thar, stranger, an't jest the place a Kentuck
nigger wants to go to; they dies thar tol'able fast, don't they?"

"Wal, yes, tol'able fast, ther dying is; what with the
'climating and one thing and another, they dies so as to keep the
market up pretty brisk," said Haley.

"Wal, now, a feller can't help thinkin' it's a mighty pity
to have a nice, quiet, likely feller, as good un as Tom is, go down
to be fairly ground up on one of them ar sugar plantations."

"Wal, he's got a fa'r chance. I promised to do well by him.
I'll get him in house-servant in some good old family, and
then, if he stands the fever and 'climating, he'll have a berth
good as any nigger ought ter ask for."

"He leaves his wife and chil'en up here, s'pose?"

"Yes; but he'll get another thar. Lord, thar's women enough
everywhar," said Haley.

Tom was sitting very mournfully on the outside of the shop
while this conversation was going on. Suddenly he heard the quick,
short click of a horse's hoof behind him; and, before he could
fairly awake from his surprise, young Master George sprang into
the wagon, threw his arms tumultuously round his neck, and was
sobbing and scolding with energy.

"I declare, it's real mean! I don't care what they say, any
of 'em! It's a nasty, mean shame! If I was a man, they shouldn't
do it,--they should not, _so_!" said George, with a kind of
subdued howl.

"O! Mas'r George! this does me good!" said Tom. "I couldn't
bar to go off without seein' ye! It does me real good, ye can't
tell!" Here Tom made some movement of his feet, and George's eye
fell on the fetters.

"What a shame!" he exclaimed, lifting his hands. "I'll knock
that old fellow down--I will!"

"No you won't, Mas'r George; and you must not talk so loud.
It won't help me any, to anger him."

"Well, I won't, then, for your sake; but only to think of
it--isn't it a shame? They never sent for me, nor sent me any word,
and, if it hadn't been for Tom Lincon, I shouldn't have heard it.
I tell you, I blew 'em up well, all of 'em, at home!"

"That ar wasn't right, I'm 'feard, Mas'r George."

"Can't help it! I say it's a shame! Look here, Uncle Tom,"
said he, turning his back to the shop, and speaking in a mysterious
tone, _"I've brought you my dollar!"_

"O! I couldn't think o' takin' on 't, Mas'r George, no ways
in the world!" said Tom, quite moved.

"But you _shall_ take it!" said George; "look here--I told
Aunt Chloe I'd do it, and she advised me just to make a hole in
it, and put a string through, so you could hang it round your neck,
and keep it out of sight; else this mean scamp would take it away.
I tell ye, Tom, I want to blow him up! it would do me good!"

"No, don't Mas'r George, for it won't do _me_ any good."

"Well, I won't, for your sake," said George, busily tying
his dollar round Tom's neck; "but there, now, button your coat
tight over it, and keep it, and remember, every time you see it,
that I'll come down after you, and bring you back. Aunt Chloe and
I have been talking about it. I told her not to fear; I'll see to
it, and I'll tease father's life out, if he don't do it."

"O! Mas'r George, ye mustn't talk so 'bout yer father!"

"Lor, Uncle Tom, I don't mean anything bad."

"And now, Mas'r George," said Tom, "ye must be a good boy;
'member how many hearts is sot on ye. Al'ays keep close to
yer mother. Don't be gettin' into any of them foolish ways boys
has of gettin' too big to mind their mothers. Tell ye what, Mas'r
George, the Lord gives good many things twice over; but he don't
give ye a mother but once. Ye'll never see sich another woman,
Mas'r George, if ye live to be a hundred years old. So, now, you
hold on to her, and grow up, and be a comfort to her, thar's my
own good boy,--you will now, won't ye?"

"Yes, I will, Uncle Tom," said George seriously.

"And be careful of yer speaking, Mas'r George. Young boys,
when they comes to your age, is wilful, sometimes-- it is natur
they should be. But real gentlemen, such as I hopes you'll be,
never lets fall on words that isn't 'spectful to thar parents.
Ye an't 'fended, Mas'r George?"

"No, indeed, Uncle Tom; you always did give me good advice."

"I's older, ye know," said Tom, stroking the boy's fine,
curly head with his large, strong hand, but speaking in a voice as
tender as a woman's, "and I sees all that's bound up in you.
O, Mas'r George, you has everything,--l'arnin', privileges, readin',
writin',--and you'll grow up to be a great, learned, good man and
all the people on the place and your mother and father'll be so
proud on ye! Be a good Mas'r, like yer father; and be a Christian,
like yer mother. 'Member yer Creator in the days o' yer youth,
Mas'r George."

"I'll be _real_ good, Uncle Tom, I tell you," said George.
"I'm going to be a _first-rater_; and don't you be discouraged.
I'll have you back to the place, yet. As I told Aunt Chloe this
morning, I'll build our house all over, and you shall have a room
for a parlor with a carpet on it, when I'm a man. O, you'll have
good times yet!"

Haley now came to the door, with the handcuffs in his hands.

"Look here, now, Mister," said George, with an air of great
superiority, as he got out, "I shall let father and mother know
how you treat Uncle Tom!"

"You're welcome," said the trader.

"I should think you'd be ashamed to spend all your life
buying men and women, and chaining them, like cattle! I should
think you'd feel mean!" said George.

"So long as your grand folks wants to buy men and women, I'm as
good as they is," said Haley; "'tan't any meaner sellin' on
'em, that 't is buyin'!"

"I'll never do either, when I'm a man," said George; "I'm
ashamed, this day, that I'm a Kentuckian. I always was proud of
it before;" and George sat very straight on his horse, and looked
round with an air, as if he expected the state would be impressed
with his opinion.

"Well, good-by, Uncle Tom; keep a stiff upper lip," said George.

"Good-by, Mas'r George," said Tom, looking fondly and
admiringly at him. "God Almighty bless you! Ah! Kentucky han't
got many like you!" he said, in the fulness of his heart, as the
frank, boyish face was lost to his view. Away he went, and Tom
looked, till the clatter of his horse's heels died away, the last
sound or sight of his home. But over his heart there seemed to be
a warm spot, where those young hands had placed that precious dollar.
Tom put up his hand, and held it close to his heart.

"Now, I tell ye what, Tom," said Haley, as he came up to
the wagon, and threw in the handcuffs, "I mean to start fa'r
with ye, as I gen'ally do with my niggers; and I'll tell ye now,
to begin with, you treat me fa'r, and I'll treat you fa'r;
I an't never hard on my niggers. Calculates to do the best for
'em I can. Now, ye see, you'd better jest settle down comfortable,
and not be tryin' no tricks; because nigger's tricks of all sorts
I'm up to, and it's no use. If niggers is quiet, and don't try to
get off, they has good times with me; and if they don't, why, it's
thar fault, and not mine."

Tom assured Haley that he had no present intentions of
running off. In fact, the exhortation seemed rather a superfluous
one to a man with a great pair of iron fetters on his feet.
But Mr. Haley had got in the habit of commencing his relations with
his stock with little exhortations of this nature, calculated, as
he deemed, to inspire cheerfulness and confidence, and prevent the
necessity of any unpleasant scenes.

And here, for the present, we take our leave of Tom, to
pursue the fortunes of other characters in our story.

 

 

CHAPTER XI

In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind

It was late in a drizzly afternoon that a traveler alighted at the
door of a small country hotel, in the village of N----, in Kentucky.
In the barroom he found assembled quite a miscellaneous company,
whom stress of weather had driven to harbor, and the place presented
the usual scenery of such reunions. Great, tall, raw-boned
Kentuckians, attired in hunting-shirts, and trailing their loose
joints over a vast extent of territory, with the easy lounge peculiar
to the race,--rifles stacked away in the corner, shot-pouches,
game-bags, hunting-dogs, and little negroes, all rolled together
in the corners,--were the characteristic features in the picture.
At each end of the fireplace sat a long-legged gentleman, with his
chair tipped back, his hat on his head, and the heels of his muddy
boots reposing sublimely on the mantel-piece,--a position, we will
inform our readers, decidedly favorable to the turn of reflection
incident to western taverns, where travellers exhibit a decided
preference for this particular mode of elevating their understandings.

Mine host, who stood behind the bar, like most of his country men,
was great of stature, good-natured and loose-jointed, with an
enormous shock of hair on his head, and a great tall hat
on the top of that.

In fact, everybody in the room bore on his head this
characteristic emblem of man's sovereignty; whether it
were felt hat, palm-leaf, greasy beaver, or fine new chapeau, there
it reposed with true republican independence. In truth, it appeared
to be the characteristic mark of every individual. Some wore them
tipped rakishly to one side--these were your men of humor, jolly,
free-and-easy dogs; some had them jammed independently down over
their noses--these were your hard characters, thorough men, who,
when they wore their hats, _wanted_ to wear them, and to wear them
just as they had a mind to; there were those who had them set far
over back--wide-awake men, who wanted a clear prospect; while
careless men, who did not know, or care, how their hats sat, had
them shaking about in all directions. The various hats, in fact,
were quite a Shakespearean study.

Divers negroes, in very free-and-easy pantaloons, and with no
redundancy in the shirt line, were scuttling about, hither and
thither, without bringing to pass any very particular results,
except expressing a generic willingness to turn over everything
in creation generally for the benefit of Mas'r and his guests.
Add to this picture a jolly, crackling, rollicking fire, going
rejoicingly up a great wide chimney,--the outer door and every
window being set wide open, and the calico window-curtain flopping
and snapping in a good stiff breeze of damp raw air,--and you have
an idea of the jollities of a Kentucky tavern.

Your Kentuckian of the present day is a good illustration of the
doctrine of transmitted instincts and pecularities. His fathers
were mighty hunters,--men who lived in the woods, and slept under
the free, open heavens, with the stars to hold their candles; and
their descendant to this day always acts as if the house were his
camp,--wears his hat at all hours, tumbles himself about, and
puts his heels on the tops of chairs or mantelpieces, just as his
father rolled on the green sward, and put his upon trees and
logs,--keeps all the windows and doors open, winter and summer,
that he may get air enough for his great lungs,--calls everybody
"stranger," with nonchalant bonhommie, and is altogether the
frankest, easiest, most jovial creature living.

Into such an assembly of the free and easy our traveller entered.
He was a short, thick-set man, carefully dressed, with a round,
good-natured countenance, and something rather fussy and
particular in his appearance. He was very careful of his valise
and umbrella, bringing them in with his own hands, and resisting,
pertinaciously, all offers from the various servants to relieve
him of them. He looked round the barroom with rather an anxious
air, and, retreating with his valuables to the warmest corner,
disposed them under his chair, sat down, and looked rather
apprehensively up at the worthy whose heels illustrated the end of
the mantel-piece, who was spitting from right to left, with a
courage and energy rather alarming to gentlemen of weak nerves and
particular habits.

"I say, stranger, how are ye?" said the aforesaid gentleman,
firing an honorary salute of tobacco-juice in the direction of the
new arrival.

"Well, I reckon," was the reply of the other, as he dodged,
with some alarm, the threatening honor.

"Any news?" said the respondent, taking out a strip of
tobacco and a large hunting-knife from his pocket.

"Not that I know of," said the man.

"Chaw?" said the first speaker, handing the old gentleman
a bit of his tobacco, with a decidedly brotherly air.

"No, thank ye--it don't agree with me," said the little
man, edging off.

"Don't, eh?" said the other, easily, and stowing away the
morsel in his own mouth, in order to keep up the supply of
tobacco-juice, for the general benefit of society.

The old gentleman uniformly gave a little start whenever
his long-sided brother fired in his direction; and this being
observed by his companion, he very good-naturedly turned his
artillery to another quarter, and proceeded to storm one of
the fire-irons with a degree of military talent fully sufficient
to take a city.

"What's that?" said the old gentleman, observing some of
the company formed in a group around a large handbill.

"Nigger advertised!" said one of the company, briefly.

Mr. Wilson, for that was the old gentleman's name, rose up,
and, after carefully adjusting his valise and umbrella, proceeded
deliberately to take out his spectacles and fix them on his nose;
and, this operation being performed, read as follows:

 

"Ran away from the subscriber, my mulatto boy, George.
Said George six feet in height, a very light mulatto, brown
curly hair; is very intelligent, speaks handsomely, can read
and write, will probably try to pass for a white man, is
deeply scarred on his back and shoulders, has been branded
in his right hand with the letter H.
"I will give four hundred dollars for him alive, and
the same sum for satisfactory proof that he has been killed."_

 

The old gentleman read this advertisement from end to end
in a low voice, as if he were studying it.

The long-legged veteran, who had been besieging the fire-iron,
as before related, now took down his cumbrous length, and rearing
aloft his tall form, walked up to the advertisement and very
deliberately spit a full discharge of tobacco-juice on it.

"There's my mind upon that!" said he, briefly, and sat down again.

"Why, now, stranger, what's that for?" said mine host.

"I'd do it all the same to the writer of that ar paper, if he was
here," said the long man, coolly resuming his old employment of
cutting tobacco. "Any man that owns a boy like that, and can't
find any better way o' treating on him, _deserves_ to lose him.
Such papers as these is a shame to Kentucky; that's my mind right
out, if anybody wants to know!"

"Well, now, that's a fact," said mine host, as he made an
entry in his book.

"I've got a gang of boys, sir," said the long man, resuming his
attack on the fire-irons, "and I jest tells 'em--`Boys,' says
I,--`_run_ now! dig! put! jest when ye want to! I never shall come
to look after you!' That's the way I keep mine. Let 'em know they
are free to run any time, and it jest breaks up their wanting to.
More 'n all, I've got free papers for 'em all recorded, in case I
gets keeled up any o' these times, and they know it; and I tell
ye, stranger, there an't a fellow in our parts gets more out of
his niggers than I do. Why, my boys have been to Cincinnati, with
five hundred dollars' worth of colts, and brought me back the money,
all straight, time and agin. It stands to reason they should.
Treat 'em like dogs, and you'll have dogs' works and dogs' actions.
Treat 'em like men, and you'll have men's works." And the honest
drover, in his warmth, endorsed this moral sentiment by firing a
perfect _feu de joi_ at the fireplace.

"I think you're altogether right, friend," said Mr. Wilson; "and
this boy described here _is_ a fine fellow--no mistake about that.
He worked for me some half-dozen years in my bagging factory,
and he was my best hand, sir. He is an ingenious fellow, too: he
invented a machine for the cleaning of hemp--a really valuable
affair; it's gone into use in several factories. His master holds
the patent of it."

"I'll warrant ye," said the drover, "holds it and makes money
out of it, and then turns round and brands the boy in his
right hand. If I had a fair chance, I'd mark him, I reckon so that
he'd carry it _one_ while."

"These yer knowin' boys is allers aggravatin' and sarcy,"
said a coarse-looking fellow, from the other side of the room;
"that's why they gets cut up and marked so. If they behaved
themselves, they wouldn't."

"That is to say, the Lord made 'em men, and it's a hard
squeeze gettin 'em down into beasts," said the drover, dryly.

"Bright niggers isn't no kind of 'vantage to their masters,"
continued the other, well entrenched, in a coarse, unconscious
obtuseness, from the contempt of his opponent; "what's the use o'
talents and them things, if you can't get the use on 'em yourself?
Why, all the use they make on 't is to get round you. I've had
one or two of these fellers, and I jest sold 'em down river. I knew
I'd got to lose 'em, first or last, if I didn't."

"Better send orders up to the Lord, to make you a set, and
leave out their souls entirely," said the drover.

Here the conversation was interrupted by the approach of a small
one-horse buggy to the inn. It had a genteel appearance, and
a well-dressed, gentlemanly man sat on the seat, with a colored
servant driving.

The whole party examined the new comer with the interest with
which a set of loafers in a rainy day usually examine every
newcomer. He was very tall, with a dark, Spanish complexion, fine,
expressive black eyes, and close-curling hair, also of a glossy
blackness. His well-formed aquiline nose, straight thin lips, and
the admirable contour of his finely-formed limbs, impressed the
whole company instantly with the idea of something uncommon.
He walked easily in among the company, and with a nod indicated
to his waiter where to place his trunk, bowed to the company, and,
with his hat in his hand, walked up leisurely to the bar, and gave
in his name as Henry Butter, Oaklands, Shelby County. Turning, with
an indifferent air, he sauntered up to the advertisement, and
read it over.

"Jim," he said to his man, "seems to me we met a boy something
like this, up at Beman's, didn't we?"

"Yes, Mas'r, said Jim, "only I an't sure about the hand."

"Well, I didn't look, of course," said the stranger with a
careless yawn. Then walking up to the landlord, he desired him
to furnish him with a private apartment, as he had some writing to
do immediately.

The landlord was all obsequious, and a relay of about seven
negroes, old and young, male and female, little and big, were soon
whizzing about, like a covey of partridges, bustling, hurrying,
treading on each other's toes, and tumbling over each other, in
their zeal to get Mas'r's room ready, while he seated himself easily
on a chair in the middle of the room, and entered into conversation
with the man who sat next to him.

The manufacturer, Mr. Wilson, from the time of the entrance
of the stranger, had regarded him with an air of disturbed and
uneasy curiosity. He seemed to himself to have met and been
acquainted with him somewhere, but he could not recollect.
Every few moments, when the man spoke, or moved, or smiled, he
would start and fix his eyes on him, and then suddenly withdraw
them, as the bright, dark eyes met his with such unconcerned coolness.
At last, a sudden recollection seemed to flash upon him, for he stared
at the stranger with such an air of blank amazement and alarm, that
he walked up to him.

"Mr. Wilson, I think," said he, in a tone of recognition, and
extending his hand. "I beg your pardon, I didn't recollect
you before. I see you remember me,--Mr. Butler, of Oaklands,
Shelby County."

"Ye--yes--yes, sir," said Mr. Wilson, like one speaking in
a dream.

Just then a negro boy entered, and announced that Mas'r's
room was ready.

"Jim, see to the trunks," said the gentleman, negligently;
then addressing himself to Mr. Wilson, he added--"I should
like to have a few moments' conversation with you on business,
in my room, if you please."

Mr. Wilson followed him, as one who walks in his sleep; and
they proceeded to a large upper chamber, where a new-made fire
was crackling, and various servants flying about, putting finishing
touches to the arrangements.

When all was done, and the servants departed, the young man
deliberately locked the door, and putting the key in his pocket,
faced about, and folding his arms on his bosom, looked Mr. Wilson
full in the face.

"George!" said Mr. Wilson.

"Yes, George," said the young man.

"I couldn't have thought it!"

"I am pretty well disguised, I fancy," said the young man,
with a smile. "A little walnut bark has made my yellow skin a
genteel brown, and I've dyed my hair black; so you see I don't
answer to the advertisement at all."

"O, George! but this is a dangerous game you are playing.
I could not have advised you to it."

"I can do it on my own responsibility," said George, with
the same proud smile.

We remark, _en passant_, that George was, by his father's side,
of white descent. His mother was one of those unfortunates
of her race, marked out by personal beauty to be the slave of the
passions of her possessor, and the mother of children who may never
know a father. From one of the proudest families in Kentucky he
had inherited a set of fine European features, and a high, indomitable
spirit. From his mother he had received only a slight mulatto
tinge, amply compensated by its accompanying rich, dark eye.
A slight change in the tint of the skin and the color of his hair
had metamorphosed him into the Spanish-looking fellow he then
appeared; and as gracefulness of movement and gentlemanly manners
had always been perfectly natural to him, he found no difficulty
in playing the bold part he had adopted--that of a gentleman
travelling with his domestic.

Mr. Wilson, a good-natured but extremely fidgety and cautious
old gentleman, ambled up and down the room, appearing, as John
Bunyan hath it, "much tumbled up and down in his mind," and divided
between his wish to help George, and a certain confused notion of
maintaining law and order: so, as he shambled about, he delivered
himself as follows:

"Well, George, I s'pose you're running away--leaving your
lawful master, George--(I don't wonder at it)--at the same time,
I'm sorry, George,--yes, decidedly--I think I must say that,
George--it's my duty to tell you so."

"Why are you sorry, sir?" said George, calmly.

"Why, to see you, as it were, setting yourself in opposition
to the laws of your country."

"_My_ country!" said George, with a strong and bitter emphasis;
"what country have I, but the grave,--and I wish to God
that I was laid there!"

"Why, George, no--no--it won't do; this way of talking is
wicked--unscriptural. George, you've got a hard master--in fact,
he is--well he conducts himself reprehensibly--I can't pretend to
defend him. But you know how the angel commanded Hagar to return
to her mistress, and submit herself under the hand;[1] and the
apostle sent back Onesimus to his master."[2]

 

[1] Gen. 16. The angel bade the pregnant Hagar return to
her mistress Sarai, even though Sarai had dealt harshly with her.

[2] Phil. 1:10. Onesimus went back to his master to become
no longer a servant but a "brother beloved."

 

"Don't quote Bible at me that way, Mr. Wilson," said George,
with a flashing eye, "don't! for my wife is a Christian, and I mean
to be, if ever I get to where I can; but to quote Bible to a fellow
in my circumstances, is enough to make him give it up altogether.
I appeal to God Almighty;--I'm willing to go with the case to
Him, and ask Him if I do wrong to seek my freedom."

"These feelings are quite natural, George," said the
good-natured man, blowing his nose. "Yes, they're natural, but it
is my duty not to encourage 'em in you. Yes, my boy, I'm sorry
for you, now; it's a bad case--very bad; but the apostle says, `Let
everyone abide in the condition in which he is called.' We must
all submit to the indications of Providence, George,--don't you see?"

George stood with his head drawn back, his arms folded tightly
over his broad breast, and a bitter smile curling his lips.

"I wonder, Mr. Wilson, if the Indians should come and take you
a prisoner away from your wife and children, and want to keep
you all your life hoeing corn for them, if you'd think it your duty
to abide in the condition in which you were called. I rather think
that you'd think the first stray horse you could find an indication
of Providence--shouldn't you?"

The little old gentleman stared with both eyes at this
illustration of the case; but, though not much of a reasoner, he
had the sense in which some logicians on this particular subject
do not excel,--that of saying nothing, where nothing could be said.
So, as he stood carefully stroking his umbrella, and folding and
patting down all the creases in it, he proceeded on with his
exhortations in a general way.

"You see, George, you know, now, I always have stood your friend;
and whatever I've said, I've said for your good. Now, here,
it seems to me, you're running an awful risk. You can't hope
to carry it out. If you're taken, it will be worse with you than
ever; they'll only abuse you, and half kill you, and sell you down
the river."

"Mr. Wilson, I know all this," said George. "I _do_ run a risk,
but--" he threw open his overcoat, and showed two pistols and
a bowie-knife. "There!" he said, "I'm ready for 'em! Down south
I never _will_ go.

No! if it comes to that, I can earn myself at least six feet of
free soil,--the first and last I shall ever own in Kentucky!"

"Why, George, this state of mind is awful; it's getting really
desperate George. I'm concerned. Going to break the laws
of your country!"

"My country again! Mr. Wilson, _you_ have a country; but what
country have _I_, or any one like me, born of slave mothers?
What laws are there for us? We don't make them,--we don't consent
to them,--we have nothing to do with them; all they do for us is
to crush us, and keep us down. Haven't I heard your Fourth-of-July
speeches? Don't you tell us all, once a year, that governments
derive their just power from the consent of the governed? Can't a
fellow _think_, that hears such things? Can't he put this and that
together, and see what it comes to?"

Mr. Wilson's mind was one of those that may not unaptly be
represented by a bale of cotton,--downy, soft, benevolently fuzzy
and confused. He really pitied George with all his heart, and had
a sort of dim and cloudy perception of the style of feeling that
agitated him; but he deemed it his duty to go on talking _good_ to
him, with infinite pertinacity.

"George, this is bad. I must tell you, you know, as a friend,
you'd better not be meddling with such notions; they are bad,
George, very bad, for boys in your condition,--very;" and Mr.
Wilson sat down to a table, and began nervously chewing the handle
of his umbrella.

"See here, now, Mr. Wilson," said George, coming up and sitting
himself determinately down in front of him; "look at me, now.
Don't I sit before you, every way, just as much a man as you are?
Look at my face,--look at my hands,--look at my body," and the
young man drew himself up proudly; "why am I _not_ a man, as
much as anybody? Well, Mr. Wilson, hear what I can tell you.
I had a father--one of your Kentucky gentlemen--who didn't think
enough of me to keep me from being sold with his dogs and horses,
to satisfy the estate, when he died. I saw my mother put up at
sheriff's sale, with her seven children. They were sold before her
eyes, one by one, all to different masters; and I was the youngest.
She came and kneeled down before old Mas'r, and begged him to buy
her with me, that she might have at least one child with her; and
he kicked her away with his heavy boot. I saw him do it; and the
last that I heard was her moans and screams, when I was tied to
his horse's neck, to be carried off to his place."

"Well, then?"

"My master traded with one of the men, and bought my oldest sister.
She was a pious, good girl,--a member of the Baptist church,--and
as handsome as my poor mother had been. She was well brought up,
and had good manners. At first, I was glad she was bought,
for I had one friend near me. I was soon sorry for it. Sir, I
have stood at the door and heard her whipped, when it seemed as
if every blow cut into my naked heart, and I couldn't do anything
to help her; and she was whipped, sir, for wanting to live a decent
Christian life, such as your laws give no slave girl a right to
live; and at last I saw her chained with a trader's gang, to be
sent to market in Orleans,--sent there for nothing else but that,--and
that's the last I know of her. Well, I grew up,--long years and
years,--no father, no mother, no sister, not a living soul that
cared for me more than a dog; nothing but whipping, scolding,
starving. Why, sir, I've been so hungry that I have been glad to
take the bones they threw to their dogs; and yet, when I was a
little fellow, and laid awake whole nights and cried, it wasn't
the hunger, it wasn't the whipping, I cried for. No, sir, it was
for _my mother_ and _my sisters_,--it was because I hadn't a friend
to love me on earth. I never knew what peace or comfort was. I never
had a kind word spoken to me till I came to work in your factory.
Mr. Wilson, you treated me well; you encouraged me to do well,
and to learn to read and write, and to try to make something of
myself; and God knows how grateful I am for it. Then, sir,
I found my wife; you've seen her,--you know how beautiful she is.
When I found she loved me, when I married her, I scarcely could
believe I was alive, I was so happy; and, sir, she is as good
as she is beautiful. But now what? Why, now comes my master, takes
me right away from my work, and my friends, and all I like, and
grinds me down into the very dirt! And why? Because, he says, I
forgot who I was; he says, to teach me that I am only a nigger!
After all, and last of all, he comes between me and my wife, and
says I shall give her up, and live with another woman. And all
this your laws give him power to do, in spite of God or man.
Mr. Wilson, look at it! There isn't _one_ of all these things, that
have broken the hearts of my mother and my sister, and my wife and
myself, but your laws allow, and give every man power to do, in
Kentucky, and none can say to him nay! Do you call these the laws
of _my_ country? Sir, I haven't any country, anymore than I have
any father. But I'm going to have one. I don't want anything of
_your_ country, except to be let alone,--to go peaceably out of
it; and when I get to Canada, where the laws will own me and protect
me, _that_ shall be my country, and its laws I will obey. But if
any man tries to stop me, let him take care, for I am desperate.
I'll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe. You say
your fathers did it; if it was right for them, it is right for me!"

This speech, delivered partly while sitting at the table, and
partly walking up and down the room,--delivered with tears, and
flashing eyes, and despairing gestures,--was altogether too much
for the good-natured old body to whom it was addressed, who had
pulled out a great yellow silk pocket-handkerchief, and was
mopping up his face with great energy.

"Blast 'em all!" he suddenly broke out. "Haven't I always
said so--the infernal old cusses! I hope I an't swearing, now.
Well! go ahead, George, go ahead; but be careful, my boy; don't
shoot anybody, George, unless--well--you'd _better_ not shoot, I
reckon; at least, I wouldn't _hit_ anybody, you know. Where is
your wife, George?" he added, as he nervously rose, and began
walking the room.

"Gone, sir gone, with her child in her arms, the Lord only
knows where;--gone after the north star; and when we ever meet,
or whether we meet at all in this world, no creature can tell."

"Is it possible! astonishing! from such a kind family?"

"Kind families get in debt, and the laws of _our_ country
allow them to sell the child out of its mother's bosom to pay its
master's debts," said George, bitterly.

"Well, well," said the honest old man, fumbling in his pocket:
"I s'pose, perhaps, I an't following my judgment,--hang it,
I _won't_ follow my judgment!" he added, suddenly; "so here,
George," and, taking out a roll of bills from his pocket-book, he
offered them to George.

"No, my kind, good sir!" said George, "you've done a great
deal for me, and this might get you into trouble. I have money
enough, I hope, to take me as far as I need it."

"No; but you must, George. Money is a great help everywhere;--
can't have too much, if you get it honestly. Take it,--
_do_ take it, _now_,--do, my boy!"

"On condition, sir, that I may repay it at some future
time, I will," said George, taking up the money.

"And now, George, how long are you going to travel in this
way?--not long or far, I hope. It's well carried on, but too bold.
And this black fellow,--who is he?"

"A true fellow, who went to Canada more than a year ago.
He heard, after he got there, that his master was so angry at him
for going off that he had whipped his poor old mother; and he has
come all the way back to comfort her, and get a chance to get her away."

"Has he got her?"

"Not yet; he has been hanging about the place, and found no
chance yet. Meanwhile, he is going with me as far as Ohio, to
put me among friends that helped him, and then he will come back
after her.

"Dangerous, very dangerous!" said the old man.

George drew himself up, and smiled disdainfully.

The old gentleman eyed him from head to foot, with a sort
of innocent wonder.

"George, something has brought you out wonderfully. You hold
up your head, and speak and move like another man," said Mr. Wilson.

"Because I'm a _freeman_!" said George, proudly. "Yes, sir;
I've said Mas'r for the last time to any man. _I'm free!"_

"Take care! You are not sure,--you may be taken."

"All men are free and equal _in the grave_, if it comes to
that, Mr. Wilson," said George.

"I'm perfectly dumb-founded with your boldness!" said Mr.
Wilson,--"to come right here to the nearest tavern!"

"Mr. Wilson, it is _so_ bold, and this tavern is so near, that
they will never think of it; they will look for me on ahead, and
you yourself wouldn't know me. Jim's master don't live in this
county; he isn't known in these parts. Besides, he is given up;
nobody is looking after him, and nobody will take me up from the
advertisement, I think."

"But the mark in your hand?"

George drew off his glove, and showed a newly-healed scar
in his hand.

"That is a parting proof of Mr. Harris' regard," he said, scornfully.
"A fortnight ago, he took it into his head to give it to me,
because he said he believed I should try to get away one of
these days. Looks interesting, doesn't it?" he said, drawing his
glove on again.

"I declare, my very blood runs cold when I think of it,--your
condition and your risks!" said Mr. Wilson.

"Mine has run cold a good many years, Mr. Wilson; at present,
it's about up to the boiling point," said George.

"Well, my good sir," continued George, after a few moments'
silence, "I saw you knew me; I thought I'd just have this talk with
you, lest your surprised looks should bring me out. I leave early
tomorrow morning, before daylight; by tomorrow night I hope to
sleep safe in Ohio. I shall travel by daylight, stop at the best
hotels, go to the dinner-tables with the lords of the land.
So, good-by, sir; if you hear that I'm taken, you may know that
I'm dead!"

George stood up like a rock, and put out his hand with the
air of a prince. The friendly little old man shook it heartily,
and after a little shower of caution, he took his umbrella, and
fumbled his way out of the room.

George stood thoughtfully looking at the door, as the old
man closed it. A thought seemed to flash across his mind.
He hastily stepped to it, and opening it, said,

"Mr. Wilson, one word more."

The old gentleman entered again, and George, as before, locked
the door, and then stood for a few moments looking on the
floor, irresolutely. At last, raising his head with a sudden
effort--"Mr. Wilson, you have shown yourself a Christian in
your treatment of me,--I want to ask one last deed of Christian
kindness of you."

"Well, George."

"Well, sir,--what you said was true. I _am_ running a
dreadful risk. There isn't, on earth, a living soul to care if I
die," he added, drawing his breath hard, and speaking with a great
effort,--"I shall be kicked out and buried like a dog, and nobody'll
think of it a day after,--_only my poor wife!_ Poor soul! she'll
mourn and grieve; and if you'd only contrive, Mr. Wilson, to send
this little pin to her. She gave it to me for a Christmas present,
poor child! Give it to her, and tell her I loved her to the last.
Will you? _Will_ you?" he added, earnestly.

"Yes, certainly--poor fellow!" said the old gentleman, taking
the pin, with watery eyes, and a melancholy quiver in his voice.

"Tell her one thing," said George; "it's my last wish, if
she _can_ get to Canada, to go there. No matter how kind her
mistress is,--no matter how much she loves her home; beg her not
to go back,--for slavery always ends in misery. Tell her to bring
up our boy a free man, and then he won't suffer as I have. Tell her
this, Mr. Wilson, will you?"

"Yes, George. I'll tell her; but I trust you won't die;
take heart,--you're a brave fellow. Trust in the Lord, George.
I wish in my heart you were safe through, though,--that's what I do."

"_Is_ there a God to trust in?" said George, in such a tone of
bitter despair as arrested the old gentleman's words. "O, I've
seen things all my life that have made me feel that there can't be
a God. You Christians don't know how these things look to us.
There's a God for you, but is there any for us?"

"O, now, don't--don't, my boy!" said the old man, almost
sobbing as he spoke; "don't feel so! There is--there is; clouds
and darkness are around about him, but righteousness and judgment
are the habitation of his throne. There's a _God_, George,--believe
it; trust in Him, and I'm sure He'll help you. Everything will be
set right,--if not in this life, in another."

The real piety and benevolence of the simple old man invested him
with a temporary dignity and authority, as he spoke. George stopped
his distracted walk up and down the room, stood thoughtfully
a moment, and then said, quietly,

"Thank you for saying that, my good friend; I'll _think of that_."

 

 

CHAPTER XII

Select Incident of Lawful Trade

 

"In Ramah there was a voice heard,--weeping, and lamentation,
and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not
be comforted."[1]

 

[1] Jer. 31:15.

 

Mr. Haley and Tom jogged onward in their wagon, each, for a time,
absorbed in his own reflections. Now, the reflections of two men
sitting side by side are a curious thing,--seated on the same seat,
having the same eyes, ears, hands and organs of all sorts, and
having pass before their eyes the same objects,--it is wonderful
what a variety we shall find in these same reflections!

As, for example, Mr. Haley: he thought first of Tom's length,
and breadth, and height, and what he would sell for, if he was
kept fat and in good case till he got him into market. He thought
of how he should make out his gang; he thought of the respective
market value of certain supposititious men and women and children
who were to compose it, and other kindred topics of the business;
then he thought of himself, and how humane he was, that whereas
other men chained their "niggers" hand and foot both, he only put
fetters on the feet, and left Tom the use of his hands, as long
as he behaved well; and he sighed to think how ungrateful human
nature was, so that there was even room to doubt whether Tom
appreciated his mercies. He had been taken in so by "niggers"
whom he had favored; but still he was astonished to consider
how good-natured he yet remained!

As to Tom, he was thinking over some words of an unfashionable
old book, which kept running through his head, again and again, as
follows: "We have here no continuing city, but we seek one to come;
wherefore God himself is not ashamed to be called our God; for he
hath prepared for us a city." These words of an ancient volume,
got up principally by "ignorant and unlearned men," have, through
all time, kept up, somehow, a strange sort of power over the minds
of poor, simple fellows, like Tom. They stir up the soul from its
depths, and rouse, as with trumpet call, courage, energy, and
enthusiasm, where before was only the blackness of despair.

Mr. Haley pulled out of his pocket sundry newspapers, and
began looking over their advertisements, with absorbed interest.
He was not a remarkably fluent reader, and was in the habit of
reading in a sort of recitative half-aloud, by way of calling in
his ears to verify the deductions of his eyes. In this tone he
slowly recited the following paragraph:

 

"EXECUTOR'S SALE,--NEGROES!--Agreeably to order of court,
will be sold, on Tuesday, February 20, before the Court-house
door, in the town of Washington, Kentucky, the following negroes:
Hagar, aged 60; John, aged 30; Ben, aged 21; Saul, aged 25;
Albert, aged 14. Sold for the benefit of the creditors and heirs
of the estate of Jesse Blutchford,

SAMUEL MORRIS,
THOMAS FLINT,
_Executors_."

 

"This yer I must look at," said he to Tom, for want of
somebody else to talk to.

"Ye see, I'm going to get up a prime gang to take down with ye,
Tom; it'll make it sociable and pleasant like,--good company will,
ye know. We must drive right to Washington first and foremost,
and then I'll clap you into jail, while I does the business."

Tom received this agreeable intelligence quite meekly; simply
wondering, in his own heart, how many of these doomed men had
wives and children, and whether they would feel as he did about
leaving them. It is to be confessed, too, that the naive, off-hand
information that he was to be thrown into jail by no means produced
an agreeable impression on a poor fellow who had always prided
himself on a strictly honest and upright course of life. Yes, Tom,
we must confess it, was rather proud of his honesty, poor fellow,--not
having very much else to be proud of;--if he had belonged to some
of the higher walks of society, he, perhaps, would never have been
reduced to such straits. However, the day wore on, and the evening
saw Haley and Tom comfortably accommodated in Washington,--the one
in a tavern, and the other in a jail.

About eleven o'clock the next day, a mixed throng was gathered
around the court-house steps,--smoking, chewing, spitting,
swearing, and conversing, according to their respective tastes and
turns,--waiting for the auction to commence. The men and women to
be sold sat in a group apart, talking in a low tone to each other.
The woman who had been advertised by the name of Hagar was a regular
African in feature and figure. She might have been sixty, but was
older than that by hard work and disease, was partially blind, and
somewhat crippled with rheumatism. By her side stood her only
remaining son, Albert, a bright-looking little fellow of fourteen
years. The boy was the only survivor of a large family, who had
been successively sold away from her to a southern market. The
mother held on to him with both her shaking hands, and eyed with
intense trepidation every one who walked up to examine him.

"Don't be feard, Aunt Hagar," said the oldest of the men,
"I spoke to Mas'r Thomas 'bout it, and he thought he might manage
to sell you in a lot both together."

"Dey needn't call me worn out yet," said she, lifting her
shaking hands. "I can cook yet, and scrub, and scour,--I'm wuth
a buying, if I do come cheap;--tell em dat ar,--you _tell_ em,"
she added, earnestly.

Haley here forced his way into the group, walked up to the
old man, pulled his mouth open and looked in, felt of his teeth,
made him stand and straighten himself, bend his back, and perform
various evolutions to show his muscles; and then passed on to the
next, and put him through the same trial. Walking up last to the
boy, he felt of his arms, straightened his hands, and looked at
his fingers, and made him jump, to show his agility.

"He an't gwine to be sold widout me!" said the old woman, with
passionate eagerness; "he and I goes in a lot together; I 's rail
strong yet, Mas'r and can do heaps o' work,--heaps on it, Mas'r."

"On plantation?" said Haley, with a contemptuous glance.
"Likely story!" and, as if satisfied with his examination, he walked
out and looked, and stood with his hands in his pocket, his cigar
in his mouth, and his hat cocked on one side, ready for action.

"What think of 'em?" said a man who had been following
Haley's examination, as if to make up his own mind from it.

"Wal," said Haley, spitting, "I shall put in, I think, for
the youngerly ones and the boy."

"They want to sell the boy and the old woman together,"
said the man.

"Find it a tight pull;--why, she's an old rack o' bones,--not
worth her salt."

"You wouldn't then?" said the man.

"Anybody 'd be a fool 't would. She's half blind, crooked
with rheumatis, and foolish to boot."

"Some buys up these yer old critturs, and ses there's a
sight more wear in 'em than a body 'd think," said the man,
reflectively.

"No go, 't all," said Haley; "wouldn't take her for a
present,--fact,--I've _seen_, now."

"Wal, 't is kinder pity, now, not to buy her with her son,--her
heart seems so sot on him,--s'pose they fling her in cheap."

"Them that's got money to spend that ar way, it's all well enough.
I shall bid off on that ar boy for a plantation-hand;--wouldn't be
bothered with her, no way, notif they'd give her to me," said Haley.

"She'll take on desp't," said the man.

"Nat'lly, she will," said the trader, coolly.

The conversation was here interrupted by a busy hum in the
audience; and the auctioneer, a short, bustling, important fellow,
elbowed his way into the crowd. The old woman drew in her breath,
and caught instinctively at her son.

"Keep close to yer mammy, Albert,--close,--dey'll put us
up togedder," she said.

"O, mammy, I'm feard they won't," said the boy.

"Dey must, child; I can't live, no ways, if they don't"
said the old creature, vehemently.

The stentorian tones of the auctioneer, calling out to clear
the way, now announced that the sale was about to commence.
A place was cleared, and the bidding began. The different men on
the list were soon knocked off at prices which showed a pretty
brisk demand in the market; two of them fell to Haley.

"Come, now, young un," said the auctioneer, giving the boy
a touch with his hammer, "be up and show your springs, now."

"Put us two up togedder, togedder,--do please, Mas'r," said
the old woman, holding fast to her boy.

"Be off," said the man, gruffly, pushing her hands away;
"you come last. Now, darkey, spring;" and, with the word,
he pushed the boy toward the block, while a deep, heavy groan
rose behind him. The boy paused, and looked back; but there
was no time to stay, and, dashing the tears from his large, bright
eyes, he was up in a moment.

His fine figure, alert limbs, and bright face, raised an
instant competition, and half a dozen bids simultaneously met the
ear of the auctioneer. Anxious, half-frightened, he looked from
side to side, as he heard the clatter of contending bids,--now
here, now there,--till the hammer fell. Haley had got him. He was
pushed from the block toward his new master, but stopped one
moment, and looked back, when his poor old mother, trembling in
every limb, held out her shaking hands toward him.

"Buy me too, Mas'r, for de dear Lord's sake!--buy me,--I
shall die if you don't!"

"You'll die if I do, that's the kink of it," said Haley,--"no!"
And he turned on his heel.

The bidding for the poor old creature was summary. The man who
had addressed Haley, and who seemed not destitute of compassion,
bought her for a trifle, and the spectators began to disperse.

The poor victims of the sale, who had been brought up in
one place together for years, gathered round the despairing old
mother, whose agony was pitiful to see.

"Couldn't dey leave me one? Mas'r allers said I should have
one,--he did," she repeated over and over, in heart-broken tones.

"Trust in the Lord, Aunt Hagar," said the oldest of the
men, sorrowfully.

"What good will it do?" said she, sobbing passionately.

"Mother, mother,--don't! don't!" said the boy. "They say
you 's got a good master."

"I don't care,--I don't care. O, Albert! oh, my boy! you
's my last baby. Lord, how ken I?"

"Come, take her off, can't some of ye?" said Haley, dryly;
"don't do no good for her to go on that ar way."

The old men of the company, partly by persuasion and partly
by force, loosed the poor creature's last despairing hold, and, as
they led her off to her new master's wagon, strove to comfort her.

"Now!" said Haley, pushing his three purchases together, and
producing a bundle of handcuffs, which he proceeded to put on
their wrists; and fastening each handcuff to a long chain, he drove
them before him to the jail.

A few days saw Haley, with his possessions, safely deposited
on one of the Ohio boats. It was the commencement of his gang, to
be augmented, as the boat moved on, by various other merchandise
of the same kind, which he, or his agent, had stored for him in
various points along shore.

The La Belle Riviere, as brave and beautiful a boat as ever
walked the waters of her namesake river, was floating gayly down
the stream, under a brilliant sky, the stripes and stars of free
America waving and fluttering over head; the guards crowded with
well-dressed ladies and gentlemen walking and enjoying the
delightful day. All was full of life, buoyant and rejoicing;--all
but Haley's gang, who were stored, with other freight, on the lower
deck, and who, somehow, did not seem to appreciate their various
privileges, as they sat in a knot, talking to each other in low tones.

"Boys," said Haley, coming up, briskly, "I hope you keep up good
heart, and are cheerful. Now, no sulks, ye see; keep stiff
upper lip, boys; do well by me, and I'll do well by you."

The boys addressed responded the invariable "Yes, Mas'r,"
for ages the watchword of poor Africa; but it's to be owned they
did not look particularly cheerful; they had their various little
prejudices in favor of wives, mothers, sisters, and children, seen
for the last time,--and though "they that wasted them required of
them mirth," it was not instantly forthcoming.

"I've got a wife," spoke out the article enumerated as "John,
aged thirty," and he laid his chained hand on Tom's knee,--"and
she don't know a word about this, poor girl!"

"Where does she live?" said Tom.

"In a tavern a piece down here," said John; "I wish, now,
I _could_ see her once more in this world," he added.

Poor John! It _was_ rather natural; and the tears that fell,
as he spoke, came as naturally as if he had been a white man.
Tom drew a long breath from a sore heart, and tried, in his poor
way, to comfort him.

And over head, in the cabin, sat fathers and mothers, husbands
and wives; and merry, dancing children moved round among them,
like so many little butterflies, and everything was going on
quite easy and comfortable.

"O, mamma," said a boy, who had just come up from below,
"there's a negro trader on board, and he's brought four or five
slaves down there."

"Poor creatures!" said the mother, in a tone between grief
and indignation.

"What's that?" said another lady.

"Some poor slaves below," said the mother.

"And they've got chains on," said the boy.

"What a shame to our country that such sights are to be
seen!" said another lady.

"O, there's a great deal to be said on both sides of the
subject," said a genteel woman, who sat at her state-room door
sewing, while her little girl and boy were playing round her.
"I've been south, and I must say I think the negroes are better
off than they would be to be free."

"In some respects, some of them are well off, I grant,"
said the lady to whose remark she had answered. "The most
dreadful part of slavery, to my mind, is its outrages on the
feelings and affections,--the separating of families, for example."

"That _is_ a bad thing, certainly," said the other lady,
holding up a baby's dress she had just completed, and looking
intently on its trimmings; "but then, I fancy, it don't occur often."

"O, it does," said the first lady, eagerly; "I've lived many years
in Kentucky and Virginia both, and I've seen enough to make any
one's heart sick. Suppose, ma'am, your two children, there,
should be taken from you, and sold?"

"We can't reason from our feelings to those of this class of
persons," said the other lady, sorting out some worsteds on her lap.

"Indeed, ma'am, you can know nothing of them, if you say so,"
answered the first lady, warmly. "I was born and brought up
among them. I know they _do_ feel, just as keenly,--even more so,
perhaps,--as we do."

The lady said "Indeed!" yawned, and looked out the cabin
window, and finally repeated, for a finale, the remark with which
she had begun,--"After all, I think they are better off than they
would be to be free."

"It's undoubtedly the intention of Providence that the
African race should be servants,--kept in a low condition," said
a grave-looking gentleman in black, a clergyman, seated by the
cabin door. "`Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he
be,' the scripture says."[2]

 

[2] Gen. 9:25. This is what Noah says when he wakes out of
drunkenness and realizes that his youngest son, Ham, father of
Canaan, has seen him naked.

 

"I say, stranger, is that ar what that text means?" said
a tall man, standing by.

"Undoubtedly. It pleased Providence, for some inscrutable
reason, to doom the race to bondage, ages ago; and we must not set
up our opinion against that."

"Well, then, we'll all go ahead and buy up niggers," said the man,
"if that's the way of Providence,--won't we, Squire?" said he,
turning to Haley, who had been standing, with his hands in his
pockets, by the stove and intently listening to the conversation.

"Yes," continued the tall man, "we must all be resigned to the
decrees of Providence. Niggers must be sold, and trucked round,
and kept under; it's what they's made for. 'Pears like this yer
view 's quite refreshing, an't it, stranger?" said he to Haley.

"I never thought on 't," said Haley, "I couldn't have said
as much, myself; I ha'nt no larning. I took up the trade just to
make a living; if 'tan't right, I calculated to 'pent on 't in
time, ye know."

"And now you'll save yerself the trouble, won't ye?" said the
tall man. "See what 't is, now, to know scripture. If ye'd
only studied yer Bible, like this yer good man, ye might have know'd
it before, and saved ye a heap o' trouble. Ye could jist have
said, `Cussed be'--what's his name?--`and 't would all have come
right.'" And the stranger, who was no other than the honest drover
whom we introduced to our readers in the Kentucky tavern, sat down,
and began smoking, with a curious smile on his long, dry face.

A tall, slender young man, with a face expressive of great
feeling and intelligence, here broke in, and repeated the words,
"`All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do
ye even so unto them.' I suppose," he added, "_that_ is scripture,
as much as `Cursed be Canaan.'"

"Wal, it seems quite _as_ plain a text, stranger," said
John the drover, "to poor fellows like us, now;" and John smoked
on like a volcano.

The young man paused, looked as if he was going to say
more, when suddenly the boat stopped, and the company made the
usual steamboat rush, to see where they were landing.

"Both them ar chaps parsons?" said John to one of the men,
as they were going out.

The man nodded.

As the boat stopped, a black woman came running wildly up the
plank, darted into the crowd, flew up to where the slave gang
sat, and threw her arms round that unfortunate piece of merchandise
before enumerate--"John, aged thirty," and with sobs and tears
bemoaned him as her husband.

But what needs tell the story, told too oft,--every day told,--of
heart-strings rent and broken,--the weak broken and torn for
the profit and convenience of the strong! It needs not to be
told;--every day is telling it,--telling it, too, in the ear of
One who is not deaf, though he be long silent.

The young man who had spoken for the cause of humanity and God
before stood with folded arms, looking on this scene. He turned,
and Haley was standing at his side. "My friend," he said,
speaking with thick utterance, "how can you, how dare you, carry
on a trade like this? Look at those poor creatures! Here I am,
rejoicing in my heart that I am going home to my wife and child;
and the same bell which is a signal to carry me onward towards them
will part this poor man and his wife forever. Depend upon it, God
will bring you into judgment for this."

The trader turned away in silence.

"I say, now," said the drover, touching his elbow, "there's
differences in parsons, an't there? `Cussed be Canaan' don't seem
to go down with this 'un, does it?"

Haley gave an uneasy growl.

"And that ar an't the worst on 't," said John; "mabbee it
won't go down with the Lord, neither, when ye come to settle with
Him, one o' these days, as all on us must, I reckon."

Haley walked reflectively to the other end of the boat.

"If I make pretty handsomely on one or two next gangs," he thought,
"I reckon I'll stop off this yer; it's really getting dangerous."
And he took out his pocket-book, and began adding over his
accounts,--a process which many gentlemen besides Mr. Haley have
found a specific for an uneasy conscience.

The boat swept proudly away from the shore, and all went on
merrily, as before. Men talked, and loafed, and read, and smoked.
Women sewed, and children played, and the boat passed on her way.

One day, when she lay to for a while at a small town in Kentucky,
Haley went up into the place on a little matter of business.

Tom, whose fetters did not prevent his taking a moderate
circuit, had drawn near the side of the boat, and stood listlessly
gazing over the railing. After a time, he saw the trader returning,
with an alert step, in company with a colored woman, bearing in
her arms a young child. She was dressed quite respectably, and a
colored man followed her, bringing along a small trunk. The woman
came cheerfully onward, talking, as she came, with the man who bore
her trunk, and so passed up the plank into the boat. The bell
rung, the steamer whizzed, the engine groaned and coughed, and away
swept the boat down the river.

The woman walked forward among the boxes and bales of the
lower deck, and, sitting down, busied herself with chirruping to
her baby.

Haley made a turn or two about the boat, and then, coming up,
seated himself near her, and began saying something to her in
an indifferent undertone.

Tom soon noticed a heavy cloud passing over the woman's
brow; and that she answered rapidly, and with great vehemence.

"I don't believe it,--I won't believe it!" he heard her say.
"You're jist a foolin with me."

"If you won't believe it, look here!" said the man, drawing
out a paper; "this yer's the bill of sale, and there's your master's
name to it; and I paid down good solid cash for it, too, I can tell
you,--so, now!"

"I don't believe Mas'r would cheat me so; it can't be true!"
said the woman, with increasing agitation.

"You can ask any of these men here, that can read writing.
Here!" he said, to a man that was passing by, "jist read this yer,
won't you! This yer gal won't believe me, when I tell her what 't is."

"Why, it's a bill of sale, signed by John Fosdick," said
the man, "making over to you the girl Lucy and her child.
It's all straight enough, for aught I see."

The woman's passionate exclamations collected a crowd around
her, and the trader briefly explained to them the cause of the
agitation.

"He told me that I was going down to Louisville, to hire out
as cook to the same tavern where my husband works,--that's what
Mas'r told me, his own self; and I can't believe he'd lie to me,"
said the woman.

"But he has sold you, my poor woman, there's no doubt about it,"
said a good-natured looking man, who had been examining the
papers; "he has done it, and no mistake."

"Then it's no account talking," said the woman, suddenly
growing quite calm; and, clasping her child tighter in her arms,
she sat down on her box, turned her back round, and gazed listlessly
into the river.

"Going to take it easy, after all!" said the trader. "Gal's got
grit, I see."

The woman looked calm, as the boat went on; and a beautiful
soft summer breeze passed like a compassionate spirit over her
head,--the gentle breeze, that never inquires whether the brow is
dusky or fair that it fans. And she saw sunshine sparkling on the
water, in golden ripples, and heard gay voices, full of ease and
pleasure, talking around her everywhere; but her heart lay as if
a great stone had fallen on it. Her baby raised himself up against
her, and stroked her cheeks with his little hands; and, springing
up and down, crowing and chatting, seemed determined to arouse her.
She strained him suddenly and tightly in her arms, and slowly one
tear after another fell on his wondering, unconscious face; and
gradually she seemed, and little by little, to grow calmer,
and busied herself with tending and nursing him.

The child, a boy of ten months, was uncommonly large and
strong of his age, and very vigorous in his limbs. Never, for a
moment, still, he kept his mother constantly busy in holding him,
and guarding his springing activity.

"That's a fine chap!" said a man, suddenly stopping opposite
to him, with his hands in his pockets. "How old is he?"

"Ten months and a half," said the mother.

The man whistled to the boy, and offered him part of a stick
of candy, which he eagerly grabbed at, and very soon had it
in a baby's general depository, to wit, his mouth.

"Rum fellow!" said the man "Knows what's what!" and he whistled,
and walked on. When he had got to the other side of the boat,
he came across Haley, who was smoking on top of a pile of boxes.

The stranger produced a match, and lighted a cigar, saying,
as he did so,

"Decentish kind o' wench you've got round there, stranger."

"Why, I reckon she _is_ tol'able fair," said Haley, blowing
the smoke out of his mouth.

"Taking her down south?" said the man.

Haley nodded, and smoked on.

"Plantation hand?" said the man.

"Wal," said Haley, "I'm fillin' out an order for a plantation,
and I think I shall put her in. They telled me she was a good
cook; and they can use her for that, or set her at the cotton-picking.
She's got the right fingers for that; I looked at 'em. Sell well,
either way;" and Haley resumed his cigar.

"They won't want the young 'un on the plantation," said
the man.

"I shall sell him, first chance I find," said Haley, lighting
another cigar.

"S'pose you'd be selling him tol'able cheap," said the
stranger, mounting the pile of boxes, and sitting down comfortably.

"Don't know 'bout that," said Haley; "he's a pretty smart
young 'un, straight, fat, strong; flesh as hard as a brick!"

"Very true, but then there's the bother and expense of raisin'."

"Nonsense!" said Haley; "they is raised as easy as any kind
of critter there is going; they an't a bit more trouble than pups.
This yer chap will be running all around, in a month."

"I've got a good place for raisin', and I thought of takin'
in a little more stock," said the man. "One cook lost a young 'un
last week,--got drownded in a washtub, while she was a hangin' out
the clothes,--and I reckon it would be well enough to set her to
raisin' this yer."

Haley and the stranger smoked a while in silence, neither
seeming willing to broach the test question of the interview.
At last the man resumed:

"You wouldn't think of wantin' more than ten dollars for
that ar chap, seeing you _must_ get him off yer hand, any how?"

Haley shook his head, and spit impressively.

"That won't do, no ways," he said, and began his smoking again.

"Well, stranger, what will you take?"

"Well, now," said Haley, "I _could_ raise that ar chap myself,
or get him raised; he's oncommon likely and healthy, and
he'd fetch a hundred dollars, six months hence; and, in a year or
two, he'd bring two hundred, if I had him in the right spot; I
shan't take a cent less nor fifty for him now."

"O, stranger! that's rediculous, altogether," said the man.

"Fact!" said Haley, with a decisive nod of his head.

"I'll give thirty for him," said the stranger, "but not a
cent more."

"Now, I'll tell ye what I will do," said Haley, spitting
again, with renewed decision. "I'll split the difference, and
say forty-five; and that's the most I will do."

"Well, agreed!" said the man, after an interval.

"Done!" said Haley. "Where do you land?"

"At Louisville," said the man.

"Louisville," said Haley. "Very fair, we get there about dusk.
Chap will be asleep,--all fair,--get him off quietly, and no
screaming,--happens beautiful,--I like to do everything quietly,--I
hates all kind of agitation and fluster." And so, after a transfer
of certain bills had passed from the man's pocket-book to the
trader's, he resumed his cigar.

It was a bright, tranquil evening when the boat stopped at the
wharf at Louisville. The woman had been sitting with her baby
in her arms, now wrapped in a heavy sleep. When she heard the name
of the place called out, she hastily laid the child down in a little
cradle formed by the hollow among the boxes, first carefully
spreading under it her cloak; and then she sprung to the side of
the boat, in hopes that, among the various hotel-waiters who thronged
the wharf, she might see her husband. In this hope, she pressed
forward to the front rails, and, stretching far over them, strained
her eyes intently on the moving heads on the shore, and the crowd
pressed in between her and the child.

"Now's your time," said Haley, taking the sleeping child up,
and handing him to the stranger. "Don't wake him up, and set
him to crying, now; it would make a devil of a fuss with the gal."
The man took the bundle carefully, and was soon lost in the crowd
that went up the wharf.

When the boat, creaking, and groaning, and puffing, had
loosed from the wharf, and was beginning slowly to strain
herself along, the woman returned to her old seat.
The trader was sitting there,--the child was gone!

"Why, why,--where?" she began, in bewildered surprise.

"Lucy," said the trader, "your child's gone; you may as well
know it first as last. You see, I know'd you couldn't take
him down south; and I got a chance to sell him to a first-rate
family, that'll raise him better than you can."

The trader had arrived at that stage of Christian and
political perfection which has been recommended by some preachers
and politicians of the north, lately, in which he had completely
overcome every humane weakness and prejudice. His heart was exactly
where yours, sir, and mine could be brought, with proper effort
and cultivation. The wild look of anguish and utter despair that
the woman cast on him might have disturbed one less practised; but
he was used to it. He had seen that same look hundreds of times.
You can get used to such things, too, my friend; and it is the
great object of recent efforts to make our whole northern community
used to them, for the glory of the Union. So the trader only
regarded the mortal anguish which he saw working in those dark
features, those clenched hands, and suffocating breathings, as
necessary incidents of the trade, and merely calculated whether
she was going to scream, and get up a commotion on the boat; for,
like other supporters of our peculiar institution, he decidedly
disliked agitation.

But the woman did not scream. The shot had passed too
straight and direct through the heart, for cry or tear.

Dizzily she sat down. Her slack hands fell lifeless by
her side. Her eyes looked straight forward, but she saw nothing.
All the noise and hum of the boat, the groaning of the machinery,
mingled dreamily to her bewildered ear; and the poor, dumb-stricken
heart had neither cry not tear to show for its utter misery. She was
quite calm.

The trader, who, considering his advantages, was almost as
humane as some of our politicians, seemed to feel called on to
administer such consolation as the case admitted of.

"I know this yer comes kinder hard, at first, Lucy," said he;
"but such a smart, sensible gal as you are, won't give way to it.
You see it's _necessary_, and can't be helped!"

"O! don't, Mas'r, don't!" said the woman, with a voice like
one that is smothering.

"You're a smart wench, Lucy," he persisted; "I mean to do
well by ye, and get ye a nice place down river; and you'll soon
get another husband,--such a likely gal as you--"

"O! Mas'r, if you _only_ won't talk to me now," said the woman,
in a voice of such quick and living anguish that the trader
felt that there was something at present in the case beyond his
style of operation. He got up, and the woman turned away, and
buried her head in her cloak.

The trader walked up and down for a time, and occasionally
stopped and looked at her.

"Takes it hard, rather," he soliloquized, "but quiet,
tho';--let her sweat a while; she'll come right, by and by!"

Tom had watched the whole transaction from first to last,
and had a perfect understanding of its results. To him, it looked
like something unutterably horrible and cruel, because, poor,
ignorant black soul! he had not learned to generalize, and to take
enlarged views. If he had only been instructed by certain ministers
of Christianity, he might have thought better of it, and seen in
it an every-day incident of a lawful trade; a trade which is the
vital suport of an institution which an American divine[3] tells us
has _"no evils but such as are inseparable from any other relations
in social and domestic life_." But Tom, as we see, being a poor,
ignorant fellow, whose reading had been confined entirely to the
New Testament, could not comfort and solace himself with views
like these. His very soul bled within him for what seemed to him
the _wrongs_ of the poor suffering thing that lay like a crushed
reed on the boxes; the feeling, living, bleeding, yet immortal
_thing_, which American state law coolly classes with the bundles,
and bales, and boxes, among which she is lying.

 

[3] Dr. Joel Parker of Philadelphia. [Mrs. Stowe's note.]
Presbyterian clergyman (1799-1873), a friend of the Beecher family.
Mrs. Stowe attempted unsuccessfully to have this identifying note
removed from the stereotype-plate of the first edition.

 

Tom drew near, and tried to say something; but she only groaned.
Honestly, and with tears running down his own cheeks, he spoke
of a heart of love in the skies, of a pitying Jesus, and an
eternal home; but the ear was deaf with anguish, and the palsied
heart could not feel.

Night came on,--night calm, unmoved, and glorious, shining down
with her innumerable and solemn angel eyes, twinkling, beautiful,
but silent. There was no speech nor language, no pitying voice or
helping hand, from that distant sky. One after another, the voices
of business or pleasure died away; all on the boat were sleeping,
and the ripples at the prow were plainly heard. Tom stretched
himself out on a box, and there, as he lay, he heard, ever and
anon, a smothered sob or cry from the prostrate creature,--"O! what
shall I do? O Lord! O good Lord, do help me!" and so, ever and
anon, until the murmur died away in silence.

At midnight, Tom waked, with a sudden start. Something black
passed quickly by him to the side of the boat, and he heard
a splash in the water. No one else saw or heard anything.
He raised his head,--the woman's place was vacant! He got up,
and sought about him in vain. The poor bleeding heart was still,
at last, and the river rippled and dimpled just as brightly as if
it had not closed above it.

Patience! patience! ye whose hearts swell indignant at wrongs
like these. Not one throb of anguish, not one tear of the
oppressed, is forgotten by the Man of Sorrows, the Lord of Glory.
In his patient, generous bosom he bears the anguish of a world.
Bear thou, like him, in patience, and labor in love; for sure as
he is God, "the year of his redeemed _shall_ come."

The trader waked up bright and early, and came out to see to his
live stock. It was now his turn to look about in perplexity.

"Where alive is that gal?" he said to Tom.

Tom, who had learned the wisdom of keeping counsel, did not
feel called upon to state his observations and suspicions, but
said he did not know.

"She surely couldn't have got off in the night at any of
the landings, for I was awake, and on the lookout, whenever the
boat stopped. I never trust these yer things to other folks."

This speech was addressed to Tom quite confidentially, as if
it was something that would be specially interesting to him.
Tom made no answer.

The trader searched the boat from stem to stern, among boxes,
bales and barrels, around the machinery, by the chimneys,
in vain.

"Now, I say, Tom, be fair about this yer," he said, when, after
a fruitless search, he came where Tom was standing. "You know
something about it, now. Don't tell me,--I know you do. I saw
the gal stretched out here about ten o'clock, and ag'in at
twelve, and ag'in between one and two; and then at four she was
gone, and you was a sleeping right there all the time. Now, you
know something,--you can't help it."

"Well, Mas'r," said Tom, "towards morning something brushed
by me, and I kinder half woke; and then I hearn a great splash,
and then I clare woke up, and the gal was gone. That's all I know
on 't."

The trader was not shocked nor amazed; because, as we said before,
he was used to a great many things that you are not used to.
Even the awful presence of Death struck no solemn chill upon him.
He had seen Death many times,--met him in the way of trade, and
got acquainted with him,--and he only thought of him as a hard
customer, that embarrassed his property operations very unfairly;
and so he only swore that the gal was a baggage, and that he was
devilish unlucky, and that, if things went on in this way, he should
not make a cent on the trip. In short, he seemed to consider
himself an ill-used man, decidedly; but there was no help for it,
as the woman had escaped into a state which _never will_ give up
a fugitive,--not even at the demand of the whole glorious Union.
The trader, therefore, sat discontentedly down, with his little
account-book, and put down the missing body and soul under the head
of _losses!_

"He's a shocking creature, isn't he,--this trader? so unfeeling!
It's dreadful, really!"

"O, but nobody thinks anything of these traders! They are
universally despised,--never received into any decent society."

But who, sir, makes the trader? Who is most to blame?
The enlightened, cultivated, intelligent man, who supports the
system of which the trader is the inevitable result, or the poor
trader himself? You make the public statement that calls for
his trade, that debauches and depraves him, till he feels no
shame in it; and in what are you better than he?

Are you educated and he ignorant, you high and he low, you
refined and he coarse, you talented and he simple?

In the day of a future judgment, these very considerations
may make it more tolerable for him than for you.

In concluding these little incidents of lawful trade, we
must beg the world not to think that American legislators
are entirely destitute of humanity, as might, perhaps, be
unfairly inferred from the great efforts made in our national
body to protect and perpetuate this species of traffic.

Who does not know how our great men are outdoing themselves,
in declaiming against the _foreign_ slave-trade. There are a
perfect host of Clarksons and Wilberforces[4] risen up among us on
that subject, most edifying to hear and behold. Trading negroes
from Africa, dear reader, is so horrid! It is not to be thought of!
But trading them from Kentucky,--that's quite another thing!

 

[4] Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) and William Wilberforce
(1759-1833), English philanthropists and anti-slavery agitators
who helped to secure passage of the Emancipation Bill by Parliament
in 1833.

 

 

CHAPTER XIII

The Quaker Settlement

 

A quiet scene now rises before us. A large, roomy,
neatly-painted kitchen, its yellow floor glossy and smooth, and
without a particle of dust; a neat, well-blacked cooking-stove;
rows of shining tin, suggestive of unmentionable good things to
the appetite; glossy green wood chairs, old and firm; a small
flag-bottomed rocking-chair, with a patch-work cushion in it, neatly
contrived out of small pieces of different colored woollen goods,
and a larger sized one, motherly and old, whose wide arms breathed
hospitable invitation, seconded by the solicitation of its feather
cushions,--a real comfortable, persuasive old chair, and worth, in
the way of honest, homely enjoyment, a dozen of your plush or
brochetelle drawing-room gentry; and in the chair, gently swaying
back and forward, her eyes bent on some fine sewing, sat our fine
old friend Eliza. Yes, there she is, paler and thinner than in
her Kentucky home, with a world of quiet sorrow lying under the
shadow of her long eyelashes, and marking the outline of her
gentle mouth! It was plain to see how old and firm the girlish heart
was grown under the discipline of heavy sorrow; and when, anon, her
large dark eye was raised to follow the gambols of her little Harry,
who was sporting, like some tropical butterfly, hither and thither
over the floor, she showed a depth of firmness and steady resolve
that was never there in her earlier and happier days.

By her side sat a woman with a bright tin pan in her lap, into
which she was carefully sorting some dried peaches. She might
be fifty-five or sixty; but hers was one of those faces that time
seems to touch only to brighten and adorn. The snowy fisse crape
cap, made after the strait Quaker pattern,--the plain white muslin
handkerchief, lying in placid folds across her bosom,--the drab
shawl and dress,--showed at once the community to which she belonged.
Her face was round and rosy, with a healthful downy softness,
suggestive of a ripe peach. Her hair, partially silvered by age,
was parted smoothly back from a high placid forehead, on which time
had written no inscription, except peace on earth, good will to
men, and beneath shone a large pair of clear, honest, loving brown
eyes; you only needed to look straight into them, to feel that you
saw to the bottom of a heart as good and true as ever throbbed in
woman's bosom. So much has been said and sung of beautiful young
girls, why don't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?
If any want to get up an inspiration under this head, we refer them
to our good friend Rachel Halliday, just as she sits there in her
little rocking-chair. It had a turn for quacking and squeaking,--that
chair had,--either from having taken cold in early life, or from
some asthmatic affection, or perhaps from nervous derangement; but,
as she gently swung backward and forward, the chair kept up a kind
of subdued "creechy crawchy," that would have been intolerable in
any other chair. But old Simeon Halliday often declared it was as
good as any music to him, and the children all avowed that they
wouldn't miss of hearing mother's chair for anything in the world.
For why? for twenty years or more, nothing but loving words, and
gentle moralities, and motherly loving kindness, had come from that
chair;--head-aches and heart-aches innumerable had been cured
there,--difficulties spiritual and temporal solved there,--all by
one good, loving woman, God bless her!

"And so thee still thinks of going to Canada, Eliza?" she said,
as she was quietly looking over her peaches.

"Yes, ma'am," said Eliza, firmly. "I must go onward. I dare
not stop."

"And what'll thee do, when thee gets there? Thee must think
about that, my daughter."

"My daughter" came naturally from the lips of Rachel
Halliday; for hers was just the face and form that made "mother"
seem the most natural word in the world.

Eliza's hands trembled, and some tears fell on her fine
work; but she answered, firmly,

"I shall do--anything I can find. I hope I can find something."

"Thee knows thee can stay here, as long as thee pleases,"
said Rachel.

"O, thank you," said Eliza, "but"--she pointed to Harry--"I
can't sleep nights; I can't rest. Last night I dreamed I saw that
man coming into the yard," she said, shuddering.

"Poor child!" said Rachel, wiping her eyes; "but thee
mustn't feel so. The Lord hath ordered it so that never hath a
fugitive been stolen from our village. I trust thine will not be
the first."

The door here opened, and a little short, round, pin-cushiony
woman stood at the door, with a cheery, blooming face, like a
ripe apple. She was dressed, like Rachel, in sober gray, with
the muslin folded neatly across her round, plump little chest.

"Ruth Stedman," said Rachel, coming joyfully forward; "how
is thee, Ruth? she said, heartily taking both her hands.

"Nicely," said Ruth, taking off her little drab bonnet, and
dusting it with her handkerchief, displaying, as she did so,
a round little head, on which the Quaker cap sat with a sort
of jaunty air, despite all the stroking and patting of the
small fat hands, which were busily applied to arranging it.
Certain stray locks of decidedly curly hair, too, had escaped
here and there, and had to be coaxed and cajoled into their
place again; and then the new comer, who might have been
five-and-twenty, turned from the small looking-glass, before
which she had been making these arrangements, and looked well
pleased,--as most people who looked at her might have been,--for
she was decidedly a wholesome, whole-hearted, chirruping little
woman, as ever gladdened man's heart withal.

"Ruth, this friend is Eliza Harris; and this is the little
boy I told thee of."

"I am glad to see thee, Eliza,--very," said Ruth, shaking
hands, as if Eliza were an old friend she had long been expecting;
"and this is thy dear boy,--I brought a cake for him," she said,
holding out a little heart to the boy, who came up, gazing through
his curls, and accepted it shyly.

"Where's thy baby, Ruth?" said Rachel.

"O, he's coming; but thy Mary caught him as I came in, and
ran off with him to the barn, to show him to the children."

At this moment, the door opened, and Mary, an honest,
rosy-looking girl, with large brown eyes, like her mother's,
came in with the baby.

"Ah! ha!" said Rachel, coming up, and taking the great, white,
fat fellow in her arms, "how good he looks, and how he does grow!"

"To be sure, he does," said little bustling Ruth, as she took
the child, and began taking off a little blue silk hood, and
various layers and wrappers of outer garments; and having given a
twitch here, and a pull there, and variously adjusted and arranged
him, and kissed him heartily, she set him on the floor to collect
his thoughts. Baby seemed quite used to this mode of proceeding,
for he put his thumb in his mouth (as if it were quite a thing of
course), and seemed soon absorbed in his own reflections, while
the mother seated herself, and taking out a long stocking of
mixed blue and white yarn, began to knit with briskness.

"Mary, thee'd better fill the kettle, hadn't thee?" gently
suggested the mother.

Mary took the kettle to the well, and soon reappearing,
placed it over the stove, where it was soon purring and steaming,
a sort of censer of hospitality and good cheer. The peaches,
moreover, in obedience to a few gentle whispers from Rachel, were
soon deposited, by the same hand, in a stew-pan over the fire.

Rachel now took down a snowy moulding-board, and, tying on
an apron, proceeded quietly to making up some biscuits, first saying
to Mary,--"Mary, hadn't thee better tell John to get a chicken
ready?" and Mary disappeared accordingly.

"And how is Abigail Peters?" said Rachel, as she went on
with her biscuits.

"O, she's better," said Ruth; "I was in, this morning; made
the bed, tidied up the house. Leah Hills went in, this afternoon,
and baked bread and pies enough to last some days; and I engaged
to go back to get her up, this evening."

"I will go in tomorrow, and do any cleaning there may be,
and look over the mending," said Rachel.

"Ah! that is well," said Ruth. "I've heard," she added,
"that Hannah Stanwood is sick. John was up there, last night,--I
must go there tomorrow."

"John can come in here to his meals, if thee needs to stay
all day," suggested Rachel.

"Thank thee, Rachel; will see, tomorrow; but, here comes Simeon."

Simeon Halliday, a tall, straight, muscular man, in drab
coat and pantaloons, and broad-brimmed hat, now entered.

"How is thee, Ruth?" he said, warmly, as he spread his
broad open hand for her little fat palm; "and how is John?"

"O! John is well, and all the rest of our folks," said
Ruth, cheerily.

"Any news, father?" said Rachel, as she was putting her
biscuits into the oven.

"Peter Stebbins told me that they should be along tonight,
with _friends_," said Simeon, significantly, as he was washing his
hands at a neat sink, in a little back porch.

"Indeed!" said Rachel, looking thoughtfully, and glancing
at Eliza.

"Did thee say thy name was Harris?" said Simeon to Eliza,
as he reentered.

Rachel glanced quickly at her husband, as Eliza tremulously
answered "yes;" her fears, ever uppermost, suggesting that possibly
there might be advertisements out for her.

"Mother!" said Simeon, standing in the porch, and calling
Rachel out.

"What does thee want, father?" said Rachel, rubbing her
floury hands, as she went into the porch.

"This child's husband is in the settlement, and will be
here tonight," said Simeon.

"Now, thee doesn't say that, father?" said Rachel, all her
face radiant with joy.

"It's really true. Peter was down yesterday, with the wagon,
to the other stand, and there he found an old woman and two men;
and one said his name was George Harris; and from what he told
of his history, I am certain who he is. He is a bright, likely
fellow, too."

"Shall we tell her now?" said Simeon.

"Let's tell Ruth," said Rachel. "Here, Ruth,--come here."

Ruth laid down her knitting-work, and was in the back porch
in a moment.

"Ruth, what does thee think?" said Rachel. "Father says Eliza's
husband is in the last company, and will be here tonight."

A burst of joy from the little Quakeress interrupted the speech.
She gave such a bound from the floor, as she clapped her little
hands, that two stray curls fell from under her Quaker cap,
and lay brightly on her white neckerchief.

"Hush thee, dear!" said Rachel, gently; "hush, Ruth! Tell us,
shall we tell her now?"

"Now! to be sure,--this very minute. Why, now, suppose 't
was my John, how should I feel? Do tell her, right off."

"Thee uses thyself only to learn how to love thy neighbor,
Ruth," said Simeon, looking, with a beaming face, on Ruth.

"To be sure. Isn't it what we are made for? If I didn't
love John and the baby, I should not know how to feel for her.
Come, now do tell her,--do!" and she laid her hands persuasively
on Rachel's arm. "Take her into thy bed-room, there, and let me
fry the chicken while thee does it."

Rachel came out into the kitchen, where Eliza was sewing,
and opening the door of a small bed-room, said, gently, "Come in
here with me, my daughter; I have news to tell thee."

The blood flushed in Eliza's pale face; she rose, trembling
with nervous anxiety, and looked towards her boy.

"No, no," said little Ruth, darting up, and seizing her hands.
"Never thee fear; it's good news, Eliza,--go in, go in!"
And she gently pushed her to the door which closed after her; and
then, turning round, she caught little Harry in her arms, and began
kissing him.

"Thee'll see thy father, little one. Does thee know it?
Thy father is coming," she said, over and over again, as the boy
looked wonderingly at her.

Meanwhile, within the door, another scene was going on.
Rachel Halliday drew Eliza toward her, and said, "The Lord
hath had mercy on thee, daughter; thy husband hath escaped
from the house of bondage."

The blood flushed to Eliza's cheek in a sudden glow, and
went back to her heart with as sudden a rush. She sat down, pale
and faint.

"Have courage, child," said Rachel, laying her hand on her head.
"He is among friends, who will bring him here tonight."

"Tonight!" Eliza repeated, "tonight!" The words lost all
meaning to her; her head was dreamy and confused; all was mist for
a moment.

 

When she awoke, she found herself snugly tucked up on the bed,
with a blanket over her, and little Ruth rubbing her hands
with camphor. She opened her eyes in a state of dreamy, delicious
languor, such as one who has long been bearing a heavy load, and
now feels it gone, and would rest. The tension of the nerves,
which had never ceased a moment since the first hour of her flight,
had given way, and a strange feeling of security and rest came over
her; and as she lay, with her large, dark eyes open, she followed,
as in a quiet dream, the motions of those about her. She saw the
door open into the other room; saw the supper-table, with its snowy
cloth; heard the dreamy murmur of the singing tea-kettle; saw Ruth
tripping backward and forward, with plates of cake and saucers of
preserves, and ever and anon stopping to put a cake into Harry's
hand, or pat his head, or twine his long curls round her snowy
fingers. She saw the ample, motherly form of Rachel, as she ever
and anon came to the bedside, and smoothed and arranged something
about the bedclothes, and gave a tuck here and there, by way of
expressing her good-will; and was conscious of a kind of sunshine
beaming down upon her from her large, clear, brown eyes. She saw
Ruth's husband come in,--saw her fly up to him, and commence
whispering very earnestly, ever and anon, with impressive gesture,
pointing her little finger toward the room. She saw her, with the
baby in her arms, sitting down to tea; she saw them all at table,
and little Harry in a high chair, under the shadow of Rachel's ample
wing; there were low murmurs of talk, gentle tinkling of tea-spoons,
and musical clatter of cups and saucers, and all mingled in a delightful
dream of rest; and Eliza slept, as she had not slept before, since
the fearful midnight hour when she had taken her child and fled
through the frosty starlight.

She dreamed of a beautiful country,--a land, it seemed to her,
of rest,--green shores, pleasant islands, and beautifully
glittering water; and there, in a house which kind voices told
her was a home, she saw her boy playing, free and happy child.
She heard her husband's footsteps; she felt him coming nearer;
his arms were around her, his tears falling on her face, and
she awoke! It was no dream. The daylight had long faded; her
child lay calmly sleeping by her side; a candle was burning dimly
on the stand, and her husband was sobbing by her pillow.

 

The next morning was a cheerful one at the Quaker house.
"Mother" was up betimes, and surrounded by busy girls and boys,
whom we had scarce time to introduce to our readers yesterday, and
who all moved obediently to Rachel's gentle "Thee had better," or
more gentle "Hadn't thee better?" in the work of getting breakfast;
for a breakfast in the luxurious valleys of Indiana is a thing
complicated and multiform, and, like picking up the rose-leaves
and trimming the bushes in Paradise, asking other hands than those
of the original mother. While, therefore, John ran to the spring
for fresh water, and Simeon the second sifted meal for corn-cakes,
and Mary ground coffee, Rachel moved gently, and quietly about,
making biscuits, cutting up chicken, and diffusing a sort of sunny
radiance over the whole proceeding generally. If there was any
danger of friction or collision from the ill-regulated zeal of so
many young operators, her gentle "Come! come!" or "I wouldn't, now,"
was quite sufficient to allay the difficulty. Bards have written
of the cestus of Venus, that turned the heads of all the world in
successive generations. We had rather, for our part, have the
cestus of Rachel Halliday, that kept heads from being turned, and
made everything go on harmoniously. We think it is more suited to
our modern days, decidedly.

While all other preparations were going on, Simeon the elder
stood in his shirt-sleeves before a little looking-glass in
the corner, engaged in the anti-patriarchal operation of shaving.
Everything went on so sociably, so quietly, so harmoniously, in
the great kitchen,--it seemed so pleasant to every one to do just
what they were doing, there was such an atmosphere of mutual
confidence and good fellowship everywhere,--even the knives and
forks had a social clatter as they went on to the table; and the
chicken and ham had a cheerful and joyous fizzle in the pan, as if
they rather enjoyed being cooked than otherwise;--and when George
and Eliza and little Harry came out, they met such a hearty,
rejoicing welcome, no wonder it seemed to them like a dream.

At last, they were all seated at breakfast, while Mary stood
at the stove, baking griddle-cakes, which, as they gained the
true exact golden-brown tint of perfection, were transferred
quite handily to the table.

Rachel never looked so truly and benignly happy as at the head
of her table. There was so much motherliness and full-heartedness
even in the way she passed a plate of cakes or poured a cup of
coffee, that it seemed to put a spirit into the food and drink
she offered.

It was the first time that ever George had sat down on equal terms
at any white man's table; and he sat down, at first, with some
constraint and awkwardness; but they all exhaled and went off like
fog, in the genial morning rays of this simple, overflowing kindness.

This, indeed, was a home,--_home_,--a word that George had
never yet known a meaning for; and a belief in God, and trust in
his providence, began to encircle his heart, as, with a golden
cloud of protection and confidence, dark, misanthropic, pining
atheistic doubts, and fierce despair, melted away before the light
of a living Gospel, breathed in living faces, preached by a thousand
unconscious acts of love and good will, which, like the cup of cold
water given in the name of a disciple, shall never lose their reward.

"Father, what if thee should get found out again?" said
Simeon second, as he buttered his cake.

"I should pay my fine," said Simeon, quietly.

"But what if they put thee in prison?"

"Couldn't thee and mother manage the farm?" said Simeon, smiling.

"Mother can do almost everything," said the boy. "But isn't
it a shame to make such laws?"

"Thee mustn't speak evil of thy rulers, Simeon," said his
father, gravely. "The Lord only gives us our worldly goods that
we may do justice and mercy; if our rulers require a price of us
for it, we must deliver it up.

"Well, I hate those old slaveholders!" said the boy, who
felt as unchristian as became any modern reformer.

"I am surprised at thee, son," said Simeon; "thy mother never
taught thee so. I would do even the same for the slaveholder
as for the slave, if the Lord brought him to my door in affliction."

Simeon second blushed scarlet; but his mother only smiled,
and said, "Simeon is my good boy; he will grow older, by and by,
and then he will be like his father."

"I hope, my good sir, that you are not exposed to any
difficulty on our account," said George, anxiously.

"Fear nothing, George, for therefore are we sent into the world.
If we would not meet trouble for a good cause, we were not
worthy of our name."

"But, for _me_," said George, "I could not bear it."

"Fear not, then, friend George; it is not for thee, but for God
and man, we do it," said Simeon. "And now thou must lie by
quietly this day, and tonight, at ten o'clock, Phineas Fletcher
will carry thee onward to the next stand,--thee and the rest of
they company. The pursuers are hard after thee; we must not delay."

"If that is the case, why wait till evening?" said George.

"Thou art safe here by daylight, for every one in the
settlement is a Friend, and all are watching. It has been found
safer to travel by night."

 

 

CHAPTER XIV

Evangeline

 

"A young star! which shone
O'er life--too sweet an image, for such glass!
A lovely being, scarcely formed or moulded;
A rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded."

 

The Mississippi! How, as by an enchanted wand, have its
scenes been changed, since Chateaubriand wrote his prose-poetic
description of it,[1] as a river of mighty, unbroken solitudes,
rolling amid undreamed wonders of vegetable and animal existence.

 

[1] _In Atala; or the Love and Constantcy of Two Savages in
the Desert_ (1801) by Francois Auguste Rene, Vicomte de Chateaubriand
(1768-1848).

 

But as in an hour, this river of dreams and wild romance
has emerged to a reality scarcely less visionary and splendid.
What other river of the world bears on its bosom to the ocean the
wealth and enterprise of such another country?--a country whose
products embrace all between the tropics and the poles! Those turbid
waters, hurrying, foaming, tearing along, an apt resemblance of
that headlong tide of business which is poured along its wave by
a race more vehement and energetic than any the old world ever saw.
Ah! would that they did not also bear along a more fearful
freight,--the tears of the oppressed, the sighs of the helpless,
the bitter prayers of poor, ignorant hearts to an unknown
God--unknown, unseen and silent, but who will yet "come out of his
place to save all the poor of the earth!"

The slanting light of the setting sun quivers on the sea-like
expanse of the river; the shivery canes, and the tall, dark cypress,
hung with wreaths of dark, funereal moss, glow in the golden ray,
as the heavily-laden steamboat marches onward.

Piled with cotton-bales, from many a plantation, up over
deck and sides, till she seems in the distance a square, massive
block of gray, she moves heavily onward to the nearing mart.
We must look some time among its crowded decks before we shall find
again our humble friend Tom. High on the upper deck, in a little
nook among the everywhere predominant cotton-bales, at last we may
find him.

Partly from confidence inspired by Mr. Shelby's representations,
and partly from the remarkably inoffensive and quiet character of
the man, Tom had insensibly won his way far into the confidence
even of such a man as Haley.

At first he had watched him narrowly through the day, and never
allowed him to sleep at night unfettered; but the uncomplaining
patience and apparent contentment of Tom's manner led him gradually
to discontinue these restraints, and for some time Tom had enjoyed
a sort of parole of honor, being permitted to come and go freely
where he pleased on the boat.

Ever quiet and obliging, and more than ready to lend a hand
in every emergency which occurred among the workmen below, he had
won the good opinion of all the hands, and spent many hours in
helping them with as hearty a good will as ever he worked on a
Kentucky farm.

When there seemed to be nothing for him to do, he would
climb to a nook among the cotton-bales of the upper deck,
and busy himself in studying over his Bible,--and it
is there we see him now.

For a hundred or more miles above New Orleans, the river
is higher than the surrounding country, and rolls its tremendous
volume between massive levees twenty feet in height. The traveller
from the deck of the steamer, as from some floating castle top,
overlooks the whole country for miles and miles around. Tom,
therefore, had spread out full before him, in plantation after
plantation, a map of the life to which he was approaching.

He saw the distant slaves at their toil; he saw afar their
villages of huts gleaming out in long rows on many a plantation,
distant from the stately mansions and pleasure-grounds of the
master;--and as the moving picture passed on, his poor, foolish
heart would be turning backward to the Kentucky farm, with its old
shadowy beeches,--to the master's house, with its wide, cool halls,
and, near by, the little cabin overgrown with the multiflora and
bignonia. There he seemed to see familiar faces of comrades who
had grown up with him from infancy; he saw his busy wife, bustling
in her preparations for his evening meals; he heard the merry laugh
of his boys at their play, and the chirrup of the baby at his knee;
and then, with a start, all faded, and he saw again the canebrakes
and cypresses and gliding plantations, and heard again the creaking
and groaning of the machinery, all telling him too plainly that
all that phase of life had gone by forever.

In such a case, you write to your wife, and send messages
to your children; but Tom could not write,--the mail for him had
no existence, and the gulf of separation was unbridged by even a
friendly word or signal.

Is it strange, then, that some tears fall on the pages of
his Bible, as he lays it on the cotton-bale, and, with patient
finger, threading his slow way from word to word, traces out
its promises? Having learned late in life, Tom was but a slow
reader, and passed on laboriously from verse to verse.
Fortunate for him was it that the book he was intent on
was one which slow reading cannot injure,--nay, one whose words,
like ingots of gold, seem often to need to be weighed separately,
that the mind may take in their priceless value. Let us follow
him a moment, as, pointing to each word, and pronouncing each half
aloud, he reads,

"Let--not--your--heart--be--troubled. In--my
--Father's--house--are--many--mansions.
I--go--to--prepare--a--place--for--you."

Cicero, when he buried his darling and only daughter, had
a heart as full of honest grief as poor Tom's,--perhaps no fuller,
for both were only men;--but Cicero could pause over no such sublime
words of hope, and look to no such future reunion; and if he _had_
seen them, ten to one he would not have believed,--he must fill
his head first with a thousand questions of authenticity of
manuscript, and correctness of translation. But, to poor Tom,
there it lay, just what he needed, so evidently true and divine
that the possibility of a question never entered his simple head.
It must be true; for, if not true, how could he live?

As for Tom's Bible, though it had no annotations and helps
in margin from learned commentators, still it had been embellished
with certain way-marks and guide-boards of Tom's own invention,
and which helped him more than the most learned expositions could
have done. It had been his custom to get the Bible read to him by
his master's children, in particular by young Master George; and,
as they read, he would designate, by bold, strong marks and dashes,
with pen and ink, the passages which more particularly gratified
his ear or affected his heart. His Bible was thus marked through,
from one end to the other, with a variety of styles and designations;
so he could in a moment seize upon his favorite passages, without
the labor of spelling out what lay between them;--and while it
lay there before him, every passage breathing of some old home
scene, and recalling some past enjoyment, his Bible seemed to
him all of this life that remained, as well as the promise of a
future one.

Among the passengers on the boat was a young gentleman of
fortune and family, resident in New Orleans, who bore the name of
St. Clare. He had with him a daughter between five and six years
of age, together with a lady who seemed to claim relationship to
both, and to have the little one especially under her charge.

Tom had often caught glimpses of this little girl,--for
she was one of those busy, tripping creatures, that can be no more
contained in one place than a sunbeam or a summer breeze,--nor was
she one that, once seen, could be easily forgotten.

Her form was the perfection of childish beauty, without
its usual chubbiness and squareness of outline. There was about
it an undulating and aerial grace, such as one might dream of for
some mythic and allegorical being. Her face was remarkable less
for its perfect beauty of feature than for a singular and dreamy
earnestness of expression, which made the ideal start when they
looked at her, and by which the dullest and most literal were
impressed, without exactly knowing why. The shape of her head and
the turn of her neck and bust was peculiarly noble, and the long
golden-brown hair that floated like a cloud around it, the deep
spiritual gravity of her violet blue eyes, shaded by heavy fringes
of golden brown,--all marked her out from other children, and made
every one turn and look after her, as she glided hither and thither
on the boat. Nevertheless, the little one was not what you would
have called either a grave child or a sad one. On the contrary,
an airy and innocent playfulness seemed to flicker like the shadow
of summer leaves over her childish face, and around her buoyant
figure. She was always in motion, always with a half smile on her
rosy mouth, flying hither and thither, with an undulating and
cloud-like tread, singing to herself as she moved as in a happy dream.
Her father and female guardian were incessantly busy in pursuit of
her,--but, when caught, she melted from them again like a summer
cloud; and as no word of chiding or reproof ever fell on her ear
for whatever she chose to do, she pursued her own way all over the
boat. Always dressed in white, she seemed to move like a shadow
through all sorts of places, without contracting spot or stain;
and there was not a corner or nook, above or below, where those
fairy footsteps had not glided, and that visionary golden head,
with its deep blue eyes, fleeted along.

The fireman, as he looked up from his sweaty toil, sometimes
found those eyes looking wonderingly into the raging depths of the
furnace, and fearfully and pityingly at him, as if she thought him
in some dreadful danger. Anon the steersman at the wheel paused
and smiled, as the picture-like head gleamed through the window of
the round house, and in a moment was gone again. A thousand times
a day rough voices blessed her, and smiles of unwonted softness
stole over hard faces, as she passed; and when she tripped fearlessly
over dangerous places, rough, sooty hands were stretched involuntarily
out to save her, and smooth her path.

Tom, who had the soft, impressible nature of his kindly race,
ever yearning toward the simple and childlike, watched the
little creature with daily increasing interest. To him she seemed
something almost divine; and whenever her golden head and deep blue
eyes peered out upon him from behind some dusky cotton-bale, or
looked down upon him over some ridge of packages, he half believed
that he saw one of the angels stepped out of his New Testament.

Often and often she walked mournfully round the place where
Haley's gang of men and women sat in their chains. She would glide
in among them, and look at them with an air of perplexed and
sorrowful earnestness; and sometimes she would lift their chains
with her slender hands, and then sigh wofully, as she glided away.
Several times she appeared suddenly among them, with her hands full
of candy, nuts, and oranges, which she would distribute joyfully
to them, and then be gone again.

Tom watched the little lady a great deal, before he ventured
on any overtures towards acquaintanceship. He knew an abundance
of simple acts to propitiate and invite the approaches of the little
people, and he resolved to play his part right skilfully. He could
cut cunning little baskets out of cherry-stones, could make grotesque
faces on hickory-nuts, or odd-jumping figures out of elder-pith,
and he was a very Pan in the manufacture of whistles of all sizes
and sorts. His pockets were full of miscellaneous articles of
attraction, which he had hoarded in days of old for his master's
children, and which he now produced, with commendable prudence and
economy, one by one, as overtures for acquaintance and friendship.

The little one was shy, for all her busy interest in everything
going on, and it was not easy to tame her. For a while, she
would perch like a canary-bird on some box or package near Tom,
while busy in the little arts afore-named, and take from him,
with a kind of grave bashfulness, the little articles he offered.
But at last they got on quite confidential terms.

"What's little missy's name?" said Tom, at last, when he
thought matters were ripe to push such an inquiry.

"Evangeline St. Clare," said the little one, "though papa
and everybody else call me Eva. Now, what's your name?"

"My name's Tom; the little chil'en used to call me Uncle
Tom, way back thar in Kentuck."

"Then I mean to call you Uncle Tom, because, you see,
I like you," said Eva. "So, Uncle Tom, where are you going?"

"I don't know, Miss Eva."

"Don't know?" said Eva.

"No, I am going to be sold to somebody. I don't know who."

"My papa can buy you," said Eva, quickly; "and if he buys you,
you will have good times. I mean to ask him, this very day."

"Thank you, my little lady," said Tom.

The boat here stopped at a small landing to take in wood,
and Eva, hearing her father's voice, bounded nimbly away. Tom rose
up, and went forward to offer his service in wooding, and soon was
busy among the hands.

Eva and her father were standing together by the railings
to see the boat start from the landing-place, the wheel had made
two or three revolutions in the water, when, by some sudden movement,
the little one suddenly lost her balance and fell sheer over the
side of the boat into the water. Her father, scarce knowing what
he did, was plunging in after her, but was held back by some behind
him, who saw that more efficient aid had followed his child.

Tom was standing just under her on the lower deck, as she fell.
He saw her strike the water, and sink, and was after her in
a moment. A broad-chested, strong-armed fellow, it was nothing
for him to keep afloat in the water, till, in a moment or two the
child rose to the surface, and he caught her in his arms, and,
swimming with her to the boat-side, handed her up, all dripping,
to the grasp of hundreds of hands, which, as if they had all belonged
to one man, were stretched eagerly out to receive her. A few
moments more, and her father bore her, dripping and senseless, to
the ladies' cabin, where, as is usual in cases of the kind, there
ensued a very well-meaning and kind-hearted strife among the female
occupants generally, as to who should do the most things to make
a disturbance, and to hinder her recovery in every way possible.

 

It was a sultry, close day, the next day, as the steamer
drew near to New Orleans. A general bustle of expectation and
preparation was spread through the boat; in the cabin, one and
another were gathering their things together, and arranging them,
preparatory to going ashore. The steward and chambermaid, and all,
were busily engaged in cleaning, furbishing, and arranging the
splendid boat, preparatory to a grand entree.

On the lower deck sat our friend Tom, with his arms folded,
and anxiously, from time to time, turning his eyes towards a group
on the other side of the boat.

There stood the fair Evangeline, a little paler than the
day before, but otherwise exhibiting no traces of the accident
which had befallen her. A graceful, elegantly-formed young man
stood by her, carelessly leaning one elbow on a bale of cotton.
while a large pocket-book lay open before him. It was quite evident,
at a glance, that the gentleman was Eva's father. There was the
same noble cast of head, the same large blue eyes, the same
golden-brown hair; yet the expression was wholly different.
In the large, clear blue eyes, though in form and color exactly
similar, there was wanting that misty, dreamy depth of expression;
all was clear, bold, and bright, but with a light wholly of this
world: the beautifully cut mouth had a proud and somewhat sarcastic
expression, while an air of free-and-easy superiority sat not
ungracefully in every turn and movement of his fine form. He was
listening, with a good-humored, negligent air, half comic, half
contemptuous, to Haley, who was very volubly expatiating on the
quality of the article for which they were bargaining.

"All the moral and Christian virtues bound in black Morocco,
complete!" he said, when Haley had finished. "Well, now,
my good fellow, what's the damage, as they say in Kentucky; in
short, what's to be paid out for this business? How much are you
going to cheat me, now? Out with it!"

"Wal," said Haley, "if I should say thirteen hundred dollars
for that ar fellow, I shouldn't but just save myself; I shouldn't,
now, re'ly."

"Poor fellow!" said the young man, fixing his keen, mocking
blue eye on him; "but I suppose you'd let me have him for that,
out of a particular regard for me."

"Well, the young lady here seems to be sot on him, and
nat'lly enough."

"O! certainly, there's a call on your benevolence, my friend.
Now, as a matter of Christian charity, how cheap could you
afford to let him go, to oblige a young lady that's particular
sot on him?"

"Wal, now, just think on 't," said the trader; "just look
at them limbs,--broad-chested, strong as a horse. Look at his
head; them high forrads allays shows calculatin niggers, that'll
do any kind o' thing. I've, marked that ar. Now, a nigger of that
ar heft and build is worth considerable, just as you may say, for
his body, supposin he's stupid; but come to put in his calculatin
faculties, and them which I can show he has oncommon, why, of
course, it makes him come higher. Why, that ar fellow managed his
master's whole farm. He has a strornary talent for business."

"Bad, bad, very bad; knows altogether too much!" said the
young man, with the same mocking smile playing about his mouth.
"Never will do, in the world. Your smart fellows are always running
off, stealing horses, and raising the devil generally. I think
you'll have to take off a couple of hundred for his smartness."

"Wal, there might be something in that ar, if it warnt for
his character; but I can show recommends from his master and others,
to prove he is one of your real pious,--the most humble, prayin,
pious crittur ye ever did see. Why, he's been called a preacher
in them parts he came from."

"And I might use him for a family chaplain, possibly," added
the young man, dryly. "That's quite an idea. Religion is
a remarkably scarce article at our house."

"You're joking, now."

"How do you know I am? Didn't you just warrant him for a preacher?
Has he been examined by any synod or council? Come, hand
over your papers."

If the trader had not been sure, by a certain good-humored
twinkle in the large eye, that all this banter was sure, in the
long run, to turn out a cash concern, he might have been somewhat
out of patience; as it was, he laid down a greasy pocket-book on
the cotton-bales, and began anxiously studying over certain papers
in it, the young man standing by, the while, looking down on him
with an air of careless, easy drollery.

"Papa, do buy him! it's no matter what you pay," whispered Eva,
softly, getting up on a package, and putting her arm around
her father's neck. "You have money enough, I know. I want him."

"What for, pussy? Are you going to use him for a rattle-box,
or a rocking-horse, or what?

"I want to make him happy."

"An original reason, certainly."

Here the trader handed up a certificate, signed by Mr. Shelby,
which the young man took with the tips of his long fingers,
and glanced over carelessly.

"A gentlemanly hand," he said, "and well spelt, too. Well, now,
but I'm not sure, after all, about this religion," said he,
the old wicked expression returning to his eye; "the country is
almost ruined with pious white people; such pious politicians as
we have just before elections,--such pious goings on in all
departments of church and state, that a fellow does not know who'll
cheat him next. I don't know, either, about religion's being up
in the market, just now. I have not looked in the papers lately,
to see how it sells. How many hundred dollars, now, do you put on
for this religion?"

"You like to be jokin, now," said the trader; "but, then,
there's _sense_ under all that ar. I know there's differences
in religion. Some kinds is mis'rable: there's your meetin pious;
there's your singin, roarin pious; them ar an't no account, in
black or white;--but these rayly is; and I've seen it in niggers
as often as any, your rail softly, quiet, stiddy, honest, pious,
that the hull world couldn't tempt 'em to do nothing that they
thinks is wrong; and ye see in this letter what Tom's old master
says about him."

"Now," said the young man, stooping gravely over his book
of bills, "if you can assure me that I really can buy _this_ kind
of pious, and that it will be set down to my account in the book
up above, as something belonging to me, I wouldn't care if I did
go a little extra for it. How d'ye say?"

"Wal, raily, I can't do that," said the trader. "I'm a
thinkin that every man'll have to hang on his own hook, in them
ar quarters."

"Rather hard on a fellow that pays extra on religion, and
can't trade with it in the state where he wants it most, an't it,
now?" said the young man, who had been making out a roll of bills
while he was speaking. "There, count your money, old boy!" he
added, as he handed the roll to the trader.

"All right," said Haley, his face beaming with delight; and
pulling out an old inkhorn, he proceeded to fill out a bill of
sale, which, in a few moments, he handed to the young man.

"I wonder, now, if I was divided up and inventoried," said the
latter as he ran over the paper, "how much I might bring. Say so
much for the shape of my head, so much for a high forehead, so
much for arms, and hands, and legs, and then so much for education,
learning, talent, honesty, religion! Bless me! there would be small
charge on that last, I'm thinking. But come, Eva," he said; and
taking the hand of his daughter, he stepped across the boat, and
carelessly putting the tip of his finger under Tom's chin, said,
good-humoredly, "Look-up, Tom, and see how you like your new master."

Tom looked up. It was not in nature to look into that gay, young,
handsome face, without a feeling of pleasure; and Tom felt the
tears start in his eyes as he said, heartily, "God bless you, Mas'r!"

"Well, I hope he will. What's your name? Tom? Quite as likely
to do it for your asking as mine, from all accounts. Can you
drive horses, Tom?"

"I've been allays used to horses," said Tom. "Mas'r Shelby
raised heaps of 'em."

"Well, I think I shall put you in coachy, on condition that
you won't be drunk more than once a week, unless in cases of
emergency, Tom."

Tom looked surprised, and rather hurt, and said, "I never
drink, Mas'r."

"I've heard that story before, Tom; but then we'll see.
It will be a special accommodation to all concerned, if you don't.
Never mind, my boy," he added, good-humoredly, seeing Tom still
looked grave; "I don't doubt you mean to do well."

"I sartin do, Mas'r," said Tom.

"And you shall have good times," said Eva. "Papa is very
good to everybody, only he always will laugh at them."

"Papa is much obliged to you for his recommendation," said
St. Clare, laughing, as he turned on his heel and walked away.

 

 

CHAPTER XV

Of Tom's New Master, and Various Other Matters

 

Since the thread of our humble hero's life has now become
interwoven with that of higher ones, it is necessary to give some
brief introduction to them.

Augustine St. Clare was the son of a wealthy planter of Louisiana.
The family had its origin in Canada. Of two brothers, very
similar in temperament and character, one had settled on a
flourishing farm in Vermont, and the other became an opulent planter
in Louisiana. The mother of Augustine was a Huguenot French lady,
whose family had emigrated to Louisiana during the days of its
early settlement. Augustine and another brother were the only
children of their parents. Having inherited from his mother an
exceeding delicacy of constitution, he was, at the instance of
physicians, during many years of his boyhood, sent to the care of
his uncle in Vermont, in order that his constitution might, be
strengthened by the cold of a more bracing climate.

In childhood, he was remarkable for an extreme and marked
sensitiveness of character, more akin to the softness of woman than
the ordinary hardness of his own sex. Time, however, overgrew this
softness with the rough bark of manhood, and but few knew how living
and fresh it still lay at the core. His talents were of the very
first order, although his mind showed a preference always for the
ideal and the aesthetic, and there was about him that repugnance
to the actual business of life which is the common result of this
balance of the faculties. Soon after the completion of his college
course, his whole nature was kindled into one intense and passionate
effervescence of romantic passion. His hour came,--the hour that
comes only once; his star rose in the horizon,--that star that rises
so often in vain, to be remembered only as a thing of dreams; and it
rose for him in vain. To drop the figure,--he saw and won the
love of a high-minded and beautiful woman, in one of the northern
states, and they were affianced. He returned south to make
arrangements for their marriage, when, most unexpectedly, his
letters were returned to him by mail, with a short note from her
guardian, stating to him that ere this reached him the lady would
be the wife of another. Stung to madness, he vainly hoped, as
many another has done, to fling the whole thing from his heart
by one desperate effort. Too proud to supplicate or seek
explanation, he threw himself at once into a whirl of fashionable
society, and in a fortnight from the time of the fatal letter was
the accepted lover of the reigning belle of the season; and as
soon as arrangements could be made, he became the husband of a
fine figure, a pair of bright dark eyes, and a hundred thousand
dollars; and, of course, everybody thought him a happy fellow.

The married couple were enjoying their honeymoon, and
entertaining a brilliant circle of friends in their splendid villa,
near Lake Pontchartrain, when, one day, a letter was brought to
him in _that_ well-remembered writing. It was handed to him while
he was in full tide of gay and successful conversation, in a whole
room-full of company. He turned deadly pale when he saw the writing,
but still preserved his composure, and finished the playful warfare
of badinage which he was at the moment carrying on with a lady
opposite; and, a short time after, was missed from the circle.
In his room, alone, he opened and read the letter, now worse
than idle and useless to be read. It was from her, giving
a long account of a persecution to which she had been exposed by
her guardian's family, to lead her to unite herself with their son:
and she related how, for a long time, his letters had ceased to
arrive; how she had written time and again, till she became weary
and doubtful; how her health had failed under her anxieties, and
how, at last, she had discovered the whole fraud which had been
practised on them both. The letter ended with expressions of hope
and thankfulness, and professions of undying affection, which were
more bitter than death to the unhappy young man. He wrote to her
immediately:

"I have received yours,--but too late. I believed all I heard.
I was desperate. _I am married_, and all is over. Only forget,--it
is all that remains for either of us."

And thus ended the whole romance and ideal of life for
Augustine St. Clare. But the _real_ remained,--the _real_, like
the flat, bare, oozy tide-mud, when the blue sparkling wave, with
all its company of gliding boats and white-winged ships, its music
of oars and chiming waters, has gone down, and there it lies, flat,
slimy, bare,--exceedingly real.

Of course, in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die,
and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very convenient.
But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright dies
to us. There is a most busy and important round of eating, drinking,
dressing, walking, visiting, buying, selling, talking, reading,
and all that makes up what is commonly called _living_, yet to be
gone through; and this yet remained to Augustine. Had his wife
been a whole woman, she might yet have done something--as woman
can--to mend the broken threads of life, and weave again into a
tissue of brightness. But Marie St. Clare could not even see that
they had been broken. As before stated, she consisted of a fine
figure, a pair of splendid eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars;
and none of these items were precisely the ones to minister to a
mind diseased.

When Augustine, pale as death, was found lying on the sofa,
and pleaded sudden sick-headache as the cause of his distress, she
recommended to him to smell of hartshorn; and when the paleness
and headache came on week after week, she only said that she never
thought Mr. St. Clare was sickly; but it seems he was very liable
to sick-headaches, and that it was a very unfortunate thing for
her, because he didn't enjoy going into company with her, and it
seemed odd to go so much alone, when they were just married.
Augustine was glad in his heart that he had married so undiscerning
a woman; but as the glosses and civilities of the honeymoon wore
away, he discovered that a beautiful young woman, who has lived
all her life to be caressed and waited on, might prove quite a hard
mistress in domestic life. Marie never had possessed much capability
of affection, or much sensibility, and the little that she had,
had been merged into a most intense and unconscious selfishness;
a selfishness the more hopeless, from its quiet obtuseness, its
utter ignorance of any claims but her own. From her infancy, she
had been surrounded with servants, who lived only to study her
caprices; the idea that they had either feelings or rights had
never dawned upon her, even in distant perspective. Her father,
whose only child she had been, had never denied her anything that
lay within the compass of human possibility; and when she entered
life, beautiful, accomplished, and an heiress, she had, of course,
all the eligibles and non-eligibles of the other sex sighing at
her feet, and she had no doubt that Augustine was a most fortunate
man in having obtained her. It is a great mistake to suppose that
a woman with no heart will be an easy creditor in the exchange of
affection. There is not on earth a more merciless exactor of love
from others than a thoroughly selfish woman; and the more
unlovely she grows, the more jealously and scrupulously she exacts
love, to the uttermost farthing. When, therefore, St. Clare began
to drop off those gallantries and small attentions which flowed at
first through the habitude of courtship, he found his sultana no
way ready to resign her slave; there were abundance of tears,
poutings, and small tempests, there were discontents, pinings,
upbraidings. St. Clare was good-natured and self-indulgent, and
sought to buy off with presents and flatteries; and when Marie
became mother to a beautiful daughter, he really felt awakened,
for a time, to something like tenderness.

St. Clare's mother had been a woman of uncommon elevation
and purity of character, and he gave to his child his mother's
name, fondly fancying that she would prove a reproduction of her
image. The thing had been remarked with petulant jealousy by his
wife, and she regarded her husband's absorbing devotion to the
child with suspicion and dislike; all that was given to her seemed
so much taken from herself. From the time of the birth of this
child, her health gradually sunk. A life of constant inaction,
bodily and mental,--the friction of ceaseless ennui and discontent,
united to the ordinary weakness which attended the period of
maternity,--in course of a few years changed the blooming young
belle into a yellow faded, sickly woman, whose time was divided
among a variety of fanciful diseases, and who considered herself,
in every sense, the most ill-used and suffering person in existence.

There was no end of her various complaints; but her principal
forte appeared to lie in sick-headache, which sometimes would
confine her to her room three days out of six. As, of course, all
family arrangements fell into the hands of servants, St. Clare
found his menage anything but comfortable. His only daughter was
exceedingly delicate, and he feared that, with no one to look after
her and attend to her, her health and life might yet fall a sacrifice
to her mother's inefficiency. He had taken her with him on a tour
to Vermont, and had persuaded his cousin, Miss Ophelia St. Clare,
to return with him to his southern residence; and they are now
returning on this boat, where we have introduced them to our readers.

And now, while the distant domes and spires of New Orleans rise to
our view, there is yet time for an introduction to Miss Ophelia.

Whoever has travelled in the New England States will remember,
in some cool village, the large farmhouse, with its clean-swept
grassy yard, shaded by the dense and massive foliage of the
sugar maple; and remember the air of order and stillness, of
perpetuity and unchanging repose, that seemed to breathe over
the whole place. Nothing lost, or out of order; not a picket loose
in the fence, not a particle of litter in the turfy yard, with its
clumps of lilac bushes growing up under the windows. Within, he
will remember wide, clean rooms, where nothing ever seems to be
doing or going to be done, where everything is once and forever
rigidly in place, and where all household arrangements move with
the punctual exactness of the old clock in the corner. In the
family "keeping-room," as it is termed, he will remember the staid,
respectable old book-case, with its glass doors, where Rollin's
History,[1] Milton's Paradise Lost, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and
Scott's Family Bible,[2] stand side by side in decorous order, with
multitudes of other books, equally solemn and respectable. There
are no servants in the house, but the lady in the snowy cap, with
the spectacles, who sits sewing every afternoon among her daughters,
as if nothing ever had been done, or were to be done,--she and her
girls, in some long-forgotten fore part of the day, "_did up the work_,"
and for the rest of the time, probably, at all hours when you would
see them, it is "_done up_." The old kitchen floor never seems
stained or spotted; the tables, the chairs, and the various cooking
utensils, never seem deranged or disordered; though three and
sometimes four meals a day are got there, though the family washing
and ironing is there performed, and though pounds of butter and
cheese are in some silent and mysterious manner there brought
into existence.

 

[1] _The Ancient History_, ten volumes (1730-1738), by the
French historian Charles Rollin (1661-1741).

[2] _Scott's Family Bible_ (1788-1792), edited with notes by
the English Biblical commentator, Thomas Scott (1747-1821).

 

On such a farm, in such a house and family, Miss Ophelia had
spent a quiet existence of some forty-five years, when her
cousin invited her to visit his southern mansion. The eldest of
a large family, she was still considered by her father and mother
as one of "the children," and the proposal that she should go to
_Orleans_ was a most momentous one to the family circle. The old
gray-headed father took down Morse's Atlas[3] out of the book-case,
and looked out the exact latitude and longitude; and read Flint's
Travels in the South and West,[4] to make up his own mind as to the
nature of the country.

 

[3] _The Cerographic Atlas of the United States_ (1842-1845),
by Sidney Edwards Morse (1794-1871), son of the geographer, Jedidiah
Morse, and brother of the painter-inventor, Samuel F. B. Morse.

[4] _Recollections of the Last Ten Years_ (1826) by Timothy Flint
(1780-1840), missionary of Presbyterianism to the trans-Allegheny West.

 

The good mother inquired, anxiously, "if Orleans wasn't an
awful wicked place," saying, "that it seemed to her most equal to
going to the Sandwich Islands, or anywhere among the heathen."

It was known at the minister's and at the doctor's, and at
Miss Peabody's milliner shop, that Ophelia St. Clare was "talking
about" going away down to Orleans with her cousin; and of course
the whole village could do no less than help this very important
process of _taking about_ the matter. The minister, who inclined
strongly to abolitionist views, was quite doubtful whether such a
step might not tend somewhat to encourage the southerners in
holding on to their slaves; while the doctor, who was a stanch
colonizationist, inclined to the opinion that Miss Ophelia ought
to go, to show the Orleans people that we don't think hardly of
them, after all. He was of opinion, in fact, that southern people
needed encouraging. When however, the fact that she had resolved
to go was fully before the public mind, she was solemnly invited
out to tea by all her friends and neighbors for the space of a
fortnight, and her prospects and plans duly canvassed and inquired into.
Miss Moseley, who came into the house to help to do the dress-making,
acquired daily accessions of importance from the developments
with regard to Miss Ophelia's wardrobe which she had been enabled
to make. It was credibly ascertained that Squire Sinclare, as his
name was commonly contracted in the neighborhood, had counted
out fifty dollars, and given them to Miss Ophelia, and told her
to buy any clothes she thought best; and that two new silk dresses,
and a bonnet, had been sent for from Boston. As to the propriety
of this extraordinary outlay, the public mind was divided,--some
affirming that it was well enough, all things considered, for once
in one's life, and others stoutly affirming that the money had
better have been sent to the missionaries; but all parties agreed
that there had been no such parasol seen in those parts as had been
sent on from New York, and that she had one silk dress that might
fairly be trusted to stand alone, whatever might be said of
its mistress. There were credible rumors, also, of a hemstitched
pocket-handkerchief; and report even went so far as to state that
Miss Ophelia had one pocket-handkerchief with lace all around it,--it
was even added that it was worked in the corners; but this latter
point was never satisfactorily ascertained, and remains, in fact,
unsettled to this day.

Miss Ophelia, as you now behold her, stands before you, in
a very shining brown linen travelling-dress, tall, square-formed,
and angular. Her face was thin, and rather sharp in its outlines;
the lips compressed, like those of a person who is in the habit of
making up her mind definitely on all subjects; while the keen, dark
eyes had a peculiarly searching, advised movement, and travelled over
everything, as if they were looking for something to take care of.

All her movements were sharp, decided, and energetic; and,
though she was never much of a talker, her words were remarkably
direct, and to the purpose, when she did speak.

In her habits, she was a living impersonation of order, method,
and exactness. In punctuality, she was as inevitable as a clock,
and as inexorable as a railroad engine; and she held in most
decided contempt and abomination anything of a contrary character.

The great sin of sins, in her eyes,--the sum of all
evils,--was expressed by one very common and important word in her
vocabulary--"shiftlessness." Her finale and ultimatum of contempt
consisted in a very emphatic pronunciation of the word "shiftless;"
and by this she characterized all modes of procedure which had not
a direct and inevitable relation to accomplishment of some purpose
then definitely had in mind. People who did nothing, or who did
not know exactly what they were going to do, or who did not take
the most direct way to accomplish what they set their hands to,
were objects of her entire contempt,--a contempt shown less frequently
by anything she said, than by a kind of stony grimness, as if she
scorned to say anything about the matter.

As to mental cultivation,--she had a clear, strong, active mind,
was well and thoroughly read in history and the older English
classics, and thought with great strength within certain
narrow limits. Her theological tenets were all made up,
labelled in most positive and distinct forms, and put by, like
the bundles in her patch trunk; there were just so many of them,
and there were never to be any more. So, also, were her ideas
with regard to most matters of practical life,--such as
housekeeping in all its branches, and the various political
relations of her native village. And, underlying all, deeper
than anything else, higher and broader, lay the strongest
principle of her being--conscientiousness. Nowhere is conscience
so dominant and all-absorbing as with New England women. It is
the granite formation, which lies deepest, and rises out, even to
the tops of the highest mountains.

Miss Ophelia was the absolute bond-slave of the "_ought_."
Once make her certain that the "path of duty," as she commonly
phrased it, lay in any given direction, and fire and water could
not keep her from it. She would walk straight down into a well,
or up to a loaded cannon's mouth, if she were only quite sure that
there the path lay. Her standard of right was so high, so
all-embracing, so minute, and making so few concessions to human
frailty, that, though she strove with heroic ardor to reach it,
she never actually did so, and of course was burdened with a constant
and often harassing sense of deficiency;--this gave a severe and
somewhat gloomy cast to her religious character.

But, how in the world can Miss Ophelia get along with Augustine
St. Clare,--gay, easy, unpunctual, unpractical, sceptical,--in
short,--walking with impudent and nonchalant freedom over every
one of her most cherished habits and opinions?

To tell the truth, then, Miss Ophelia loved him. When a boy,
it had been hers to teach him his catechism, mend his clothes,
comb his hair, and bring him up generally in the way he should go;
and her heart having a warm side to it, Augustine had, as he usually
did with most people, monopolized a large share of it for himself,
and therefore it was that he succeeded very easily in persuading
her that the "path of duty" lay in the direction of New Orleans,
and that she must go with him to take care of Eva, and keep
everything from going to wreck and ruin during the frequent
illnesses of his wife. The idea of a house without anybody to take
care of it went to her heart; then she loved the lovely little
girl, as few could help doing; and though she regarded Augustine
as very much of a heathen, yet she loved him, laughed at his jokes,
and forbore with his failings, to an extent which those who knew
him thought perfectly incredible. But what more or other is to be
known of Miss Ophelia our reader must discover by a personal
acquaintance.

There she is, sitting now in her state-room, surrounded by
a mixed multitude of little and big carpet-bags, boxes, baskets,
each containing some separate responsibility which she is tying,
binding up, packing, or fastening, with a face of great earnestness.

"Now, Eva, have you kept count of your things? Of course
you haven't,--children never do: there's the spotted carpet-bag
and the little blue band-box with your best bonnet,--that's two;
then the India rubber satchel is three; and my tape and needle box
is four; and my band-box, five; and my collar-box; and that little
hair trunk, seven. What have you done with your sunshade? Give it
to me, and let me put a paper round it, and tie it to my umbrella
with my shade;--there, now."

"Why, aunty, we are only going up home;--what is the use?"

"To keep it nice, child; people must take care of their things,
if they ever mean to have anything; and now, Eva, is your
thimble put up?"

"Really, aunty, I don't know."

"Well, never mind; I'll look your box over,--thimble, wax, two
spools, scissors, knife, tape-needle; all right,--put it in here.
What did you ever do, child, when you were coming on with
only your papa. I should have thought you'd a lost everything
you had."
"Well, aunty, I did lose a great many; and then, when we stopped
anywhere, papa would buy some more of whatever it was."

"Mercy on us, child,--what a way!"

"It was a very easy way, aunty," said Eva.

"It's a dreadful shiftless one," said aunty.

"Why, aunty, what'll you do now?" said Eva; "that trunk is
too full to be shut down."

"It _must_ shut down," said aunty, with the air of a general,
as she squeezed the things in, and sprung upon the lid;--still a
little gap remained about the mouth of the trunk.

"Get up here, Eva!" said Miss Ophelia, courageously; "what
has been done can be done again. This trunk has _got to be_ shut
and locked--there are no two ways about it."

And the trunk, intimidated, doubtless, by this resolute
statement, gave in. The hasp snapped sharply in its hole, and Miss
Ophelia turned the key, and pocketed it in triumph.

"Now we're ready. Where's your papa? I think it time this baggage
was set out. Do look out, Eva, and see if you see your papa."

"O, yes, he's down the other end of the gentlemen's cabin,
eating an orange."

"He can't know how near we are coming," said aunty; "hadn't
you better run and speak to him?"

"Papa never is in a hurry about anything," said Eva, "and
we haven't come to the landing. Do step on the guards, aunty.
Look! there's our house, up that street!"

The boat now began, with heavy groans, like some vast, tired
monster, to prepare to push up among the multiplied steamers
at the levee. Eva joyously pointed out the various spires, domes,
and way-marks, by which she recognized her native city.

"Yes, yes, dear; very fine," said Miss Ophelia. "But mercy
on us! the boat has stopped! where is your father?"

And now ensued the usual turmoil of landing--waiters running
twenty ways at once--men tugging trunks, carpet-bags, boxes--women
anxiously calling to their children, and everybody crowding in a
dense mass to the plank towards the landing.

Miss Ophelia seated herself resolutely on the lately
vanquished trunk, and marshalling all her goods and chattels in
fine military order, seemed resolved to defend them to the last.

"Shall I take your trunk, ma'am?" "Shall I take your baggage?"
"Let me 'tend to your baggage, Missis?" "Shan't I carry out
these yer, Missis?" rained down upon her unheeded. She sat
with grim determination, upright as a darning-needle stuck in a
board, holding on her bundle of umbrella and parasols, and replying
with a determination that was enough to strike dismay even into a
hackman, wondering to Eva, in each interval, "what upon earth her
papa could be thinking of; he couldn't have fallen over, now,--but
something must have happened;"--and just as she had begun to work
herself into a real distress, he came up, with his usually careless
motion, and giving Eva a quarter of the orange he was eating, said,

"Well, Cousin Vermont, I suppose you are all ready."

"I've been ready, waiting, nearly an hour," said Miss
Ophelia; "I began to be really concerned about you.

"That's a clever fellow, now," said he. "Well, the carriage
is waiting, and the crowd are now off, so that one can walk out in
a decent and Christian manner, and not be pushed and shoved.
Here," he added to a driver who stood behind him, "take these things."

"I'll go and see to his putting them in," said Miss Ophelia.

"O, pshaw, cousin, what's the use?" said St. Clare.

"Well, at any rate, I'll carry this, and this, and this," said Miss
Ophelia, singling out three boxes and a small carpet-bag.

"My dear Miss Vermont, positively you mustn't come the Green
Mountains over us that way. You must adopt at least a piece
of a southern principle, and not walk out under all that load.
They'll take you for a waiting-maid; give them to this fellow;
he'll put them down as if they were eggs, now."

Miss Ophelia looked despairingly as her cousin took all her
treasures from her, and rejoiced to find herself once more in
the carriage with them, in a state of preservation.

"Where's Tom?" said Eva.

"O, he's on the outside, Pussy. I'm going to take Tom up to
mother for a peace-offering, to make up for that drunken fellow
that upset the carriage."

"O, Tom will make a splendid driver, I know," said Eva;
"he'll never get drunk."

The carriage stopped in front of an ancient mansion, built
in that odd mixture of Spanish and French style, of which there
are specimens in some parts of New Orleans. It was built in the
Moorish fashion,--a square building enclosing a court-yard, into
which the carriage drove through an arched gateway. The court, in
the inside, had evidently been arranged to gratify a picturesque
and voluptuous ideality. Wide galleries ran all around the four
sides, whose Moorish arches, slender pillars, and arabesque ornaments,
carried the mind back, as in a dream, to the reign of oriental
romance in Spain. In the middle of the court, a fountain threw
high its silvery water, falling in a never-ceasing spray into a
marble basin, fringed with a deep border of fragrant violets.
The water in the fountain, pellucid as crystal, was alive with myriads
of gold and silver fishes, twinkling and darting through it like
so many living jewels. Around the fountain ran a walk, paved with
a mosaic of pebbles, laid in various fanciful patterns; and this,
again, was surrounded by turf, smooth as green velvet, while a
carriage-drive enclosed the whole. Two large orange-trees, now
fragrant with blossoms, threw a delicious shade; and, ranged in a
circle round upon the turf, were marble vases of arabesque sculpture,
containing the choicest flowering plants of the tropics.
Huge pomegranate trees, with their glossy leaves and flame-colored
flowers, dark-leaved Arabian jessamines, with their silvery stars,
geraniums, luxuriant roses bending beneath their heavy abundance
of flowers, golden jessamines, lemon-scented verbenum, all united
their bloom and fragrance, while here and there a mystic old aloe,
with its strange, massive leaves, sat looking like some old enchanter,
sitting in weird grandeur among the more perishable bloom and
fragrance around it.

The galleries that surrounded the court were festooned with a
curtain of some kind of Moorish stuff, and could be drawn down
at pleasure, to exclude the beams of the sun. On the whole, the
appearance of the place was luxurious and romantic.

As the carriage drove in, Eva seemed like a bird ready to
burst from a cage, with the wild eagerness of her delight.

"O, isn't it beautiful, lovely! my own dear, darling home!"
she said to Miss Ophelia. "Isn't it beautiful?"

"'T is a pretty place," said Miss Ophelia, as she alighted;
"though it looks rather old and heathenish to me."

Tom got down from the carriage, and looked about with an air
of calm, still enjoyment. The negro, it must be remembered,
is an exotic of the most gorgeous and superb countries of the world,
and he has, deep in his heart, a passion for all that is splendid,
rich, and fanciful; a passion which, rudely indulged by an untrained
taste, draws on them the ridicule of the colder and more correct
white race.

St. Clare, who was in heart a poetical voluptuary, smiled as
Miss Ophelia made her remark on his premises, and, turning
to Tom, who was standing looking round, his beaming black face
perfectly radiant with admiration, he said,

"Tom, my boy, this seems to suit you."

"Yes, Mas'r, it looks about the right thing," said Tom.

All this passed in a moment, while trunks were being hustled
off, hackman paid, and while a crowd, of all ages and sizes,--men,
women, and children,--came running through the galleries, both
above and below to see Mas'r come in. Foremost among them was a
highly-dressed young mulatto man, evidently a very _distingue_
personage, attired in the ultra extreme of the mode, and gracefully
waving a scented cambric handkerchief in his hand.

This personage had been exerting himself, with great alacrity,
in driving all the flock of domestics to the other end of
the verandah.

"Back! all of you. I am ashamed of you," he said, in a tone
of authority. "Would you intrude on Master's domestic relations,
in the first hour of his return?"

All looked abashed at this elegant speech, delivered with quite an
air, and stood huddled together at a respectful distance, except
two stout porters, who came up and began conveying away the baggage.

Owing to Mr. Adolph's systematic arrangements, when St. Clare
turned round from paying the hackman, there was nobody in
view but Mr. Adolph himself, conspicuous in satin vest, gold
guard-chain, and white pants, and bowing with inexpressible grace
and suavity.

"Ah, Adolph, is it you?" said his master, offering his hand
to him; "how are you, boy?" while Adolph poured forth, with great
fluency, an extemporary speech, which he had been preparing, with
great care, for a fortnight before.

"Well, well," said St. Clare, passing on, with his usual air of
negligent drollery, "that's very well got up, Adolph. See that
the baggage is well bestowed. I'll come to the people in a minute;"
and, so saying, he led Miss Ophelia to a large parlor that opened
on the verandah.

While this had been passing, Eva had flown like a bird, through
the porch and parlor, to a little boudoir opening likewise
on the verandah.

A tall, dark-eyed, sallow woman, half rose from a couch on
which she was reclining.

"Mamma!" said Eva, in a sort of a rapture, throwing herself
on her neck, and embracing her over and over again.

"That'll do,--take care, child,--don't, you make my head ache,"
said the mother, after she had languidly kissed her.

St. Clare came in, embraced his wife in true, orthodox, husbandly
fashion, and then presented to her his cousin. Marie lifted
her large eyes on her cousin with an air of some curiosity,
and received her with languid politeness. A crowd of servants now
pressed to the entry door, and among them a middle-aged mulatto
woman, of very respectable appearance, stood foremost, in a tremor
of expectation and joy, at the door.

"O, there's Mammy!" said Eva, as she flew across the room;
and, throwing herself into her arms, she kissed her repeatedly.

This woman did not tell her that she made her head ache, but,
on the contrary, she hugged her, and laughed, and cried, till
her sanity was a thing to be doubted of; and when released from
her, Eva flew from one to another, shaking hands and kissing, in
a way that Miss Ophelia afterwards declared fairly turned her stomach.

"Well!" said Miss Ophelia, "you southern children can do
something that _I_ couldn't."

"What, now, pray?" said St. Clare.

"Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I wouldn't have
anything hurt; but as to kissing--"

"Niggers," said St. Clare, "that you're not up to,--hey?"

"Yes, that's it. How can she?"

St. Clare laughed, as he went into the passage. "Halloa, here,
what's to pay out here? Here, you all--Mammy, Jimmy, Polly,
Sukey--glad to see Mas'r?" he said, as he went shaking hands from
one to another. "Look out for the babies!" he added, as he stumbled
over a sooty little urchin, who was crawling upon all fours. "If I
step upon anybody, let 'em mention it."

There was an abundance of laughing and blessing Mas'r, as
St. Clare distributed small pieces of change among them.

"Come, now, take yourselves off, like good boys and girls,"
he said; and the whole assemblage, dark and light, disappeared
through a door into a large verandah, followed by Eva, who carried
a large satchel, which she had been filling with apples, nuts,
candy, ribbons, laces, and toys of every description, during her
whole homeward journey.

As St. Clare turned to go back his eye fell upon Tom, who was
standing uneasily, shifting from one foot to the other, while
Adolph stood negligently leaning against the banisters, examining
Tom through an opera-glass, with an air that would have done credit
to any dandy living.

"Puh! you puppy," said his master, striking down the opera glass;
"is that the way you treat your company? Seems to me, Dolph,"
he added, laying his finger on the elegant figured satin vest that
Adolph was sporting, "seems to me that's _my_ vest."

"O! Master, this vest all stained with wine; of course, a
gentleman in Master's standing never wears a vest like this.
I understood I was to take it. It does for a poor nigger-fellow,
like me."

And Adolph tossed his head, and passed his fingers through
his scented hair, with a grace.

"So, that's it, is it?" said St. Clare, carelessly. "Well, here,
I'm going to show this Tom to his mistress, and then you take him
to the kitchen; and mind you don't put on any of your airs to him.
He's worth two such puppies as you."

"Master always will have his joke," said Adolph, laughing.
"I'm delighted to see Master in such spirits."

"Here, Tom," said St. Clare, beckoning.

Tom entered the room. He looked wistfully on the velvet carpets,
and the before unimagined splendors of mirrors, pictures, statues,
and curtains, and, like the Queen of Sheba before Solomon, there
was no more spirit in him. He looked afraid even to set his
feet down.

"See here, Marie," said St. Clare to his wife, "I've bought
you a coachman, at last, to order. I tell you, he's a regular
hearse for blackness and sobriety, and will drive you like a funeral,
if you want. Open your eyes, now, and look at him. Now, don't
say I never think about you when I'm gone."

Marie opened her eyes, and fixed them on Tom, without rising.

"I know he'll get drunk," she said.

"No, he's warranted a pious and sober article."

"Well, I hope he may turn out well," said the lady; "it's
more than I expect, though."

"Dolph," said St. Clare, "show Tom down stairs; and, mind
yourself," he added; "remember what I told you."

Adolph tripped gracefully forward, and Tom, with lumbering
tread, went after.

"He's a perfect behemoth!" said Marie.

"Come, now, Marie," said St. Clare, seating himself on a stool
beside her sofa, "be gracious, and say something pretty to
a fellow."

"You've been gone a fortnight beyond the time," said the
lady, pouting.

"Well, you know I wrote you the reason."

"Such a short, cold letter!" said the lady.

"Dear me! the mail was just going, and it had to be that
or nothing."

"That's just the way, always," said the lady; "always something
to make your journeys long, and letters short."

"See here, now," he added, drawing an elegant velvet case out
of his pocket, and opening it, "here's a present I got for you
in New York."

It was a daguerreotype, clear and soft as an engraving,
representing Eva and her father sitting hand in hand.

Marie looked at it with a dissatisfied air.

"What made you sit in such an awkward position?" she said.

"Well, the position may be a matter of opinion; but what
do you think of the likeness?"

"If you don't think anything of my opinion in one case, I
suppose you wouldn't in another," said the lady, shutting the
daguerreotype.

"Hang the woman!" said St. Clare, mentally; but aloud he added,
"Come, now, Marie, what do you think of the likeness? Don't be
nonsensical, now."

"It's very inconsiderate of you, St. Clare," said the lady,
"to insist on my talking and looking at things. You know I've been
lying all day with the sick-headache; and there's been such a tumult
made ever since you came, I'm half dead."

"You're subject to the sick-headache, ma'am!" said Miss
Ophelia, suddenly rising from the depths of the large arm-chair,
where she had sat quietly, taking an inventory of the furniture,
and calculating its expense.

"Yes, I'm a perfect martyr to it," said the lady.

"Juniper-berry tea is good for sick-headache," said Miss
Ophelia; "at least, Auguste, Deacon Abraham Perry's wife, used to
say so; and she was a great nurse."

"I'll have the first juniper-berries that get ripe in our
garden by the lake brought in for that special purpose," said St.
Clare, gravely pulling the bell as he did so; "meanwhile, cousin,
you must be wanting to retire to your apartment, and refresh yourself
a little, after your journey. Dolph," he added, "tell Mammy to
come here." The decent mulatto woman whom Eva had caressed so
rapturously soon entered; she was dressed neatly, with a high red
and yellow turban on her head, the recent gift of Eva, and which
the child had been arranging on her head. "Mammy," said St. Clare,
"I put this lady under your care; she is tired, and wants rest;
take her to her chamber, and be sure she is made comfortable," and
Miss Ophelia disappeared in the rear of Mammy.

 

 

CHAPTER XVI

Tom's Mistress and Her Opinions

"And now, Marie," said St. Clare, "your golden days are dawning.
Here is our practical, business-like New England cousin, who will
take the whole budget of cares off your shoulders, and give you
time to refresh yourself, and grow young and handsome. The ceremony
of delivering the keys had better come off forthwith."

This remark was made at the breakfast-table, a few mornings
after Miss Ophelia had arrived.

"I'm sure she's welcome," said Marie, leaning her head
languidly on her hand. "I think she'll find one thing, if she
does, and that is, that it's we mistresses that are the slaves,
down here."

"O, certainly, she will discover that, and a world of
wholesome truths besides, no doubt," said St. Clare.

"Talk about our keeping slaves, as if we did it for our
_convenience_," said Marie. "I'm sure, if we consulted _that_, we
might let them all go at once."

Evangeline fixed her large, serious eyes on her mother's face,
with an earnest and perplexed expression, and said, simply,
"What do you keep them for, mamma?"

"I don't know, I'm sure, except for a plague; they are the
plague of my life. I believe that more of my ill health is caused
by them than by any one thing; and ours, I know, are the very
worst that ever anybody was plagued with."

"O, come, Marie, you've got the blues, this morning," said
St. Clare. "You know 't isn't so. There's Mammy, the best creature
living,--what could you do without her?"

"Mammy is the best I ever knew," said Marie; "and yet Mammy, now,
is selfish--dreadfully selfish; it's the fault of the whole race."

"Selfishness _is_ a dreadful fault," said St. Clare, gravely.

"Well, now, there's Mammy," said Marie, "I think it's selfish
of her to sleep so sound nights; she knows I need little
attentions almost every hour, when my worst turns are on, and yet
she's so hard to wake. I absolutely am worse, this very morning,
for the efforts I had to make to wake her last night."

"Hasn't she sat up with you a good many nights, lately,
mamma?" said Eva.

"How should you know that?" said Marie, sharply; "she's
been complaining, I suppose."

"She didn't complain; she only told me what bad nights
you'd had,--so many in succession."

"Why don't you let Jane or Rosa take her place, a night or
two," said St. Clare, "and let her rest?"

"How can you propose it?" said Marie. "St. Clare, you really
are inconsiderate. So nervous as I am, the least breath disturbs
me; and a strange hand about me would drive me absolutely frantic.
If Mammy felt the interest in me she ought to, she'd wake
easier,--of course, she would. I've heard of people who had such
devoted servants, but it never was _my_ luck;" and Marie sighed.

Miss Ophelia had listened to this conversation with an air
of shrewd, observant gravity; and she still kept her lips tightly
compressed, as if determined fully to ascertain her longitude and
position, before she committed herself.

"Now, Mammy has a _sort_ of goodness," said Marie; "she's
smooth and respectful, but she's selfish at heart. Now, she never
will be done fidgeting and worrying about that husband of hers.
You see, when I was married and came to live here, of course, I
had to bring her with me, and her husband my father couldn't spare.
He was a blacksmith, and, of course, very necessary; and I thought
and said, at the time, that Mammy and he had better give each other
up, as it wasn't likely to be convenient for them ever to live
together again. I wish, now, I'd insisted on it, and married Mammy
to somebody else; but I was foolish and indulgent, and didn't want
to insist. I told Mammy, at the time, that she mustn't ever expect
to see him more than once or twice in her life again, for the air
of father's place doesn't agree with my health, and I can't go
there; and I advised her to take up with somebody else; but no--
she wouldn't. Mammy has a kind of obstinacy about her, in spots,
that everybody don't see as I do."

"Has she children?" said Miss Ophelia.

"Yes; she has two."

"I suppose she feels the separation from them?"

"Well, of course, I couldn't bring them. They were little
dirty things--I couldn't have them about; and, besides, they took
up too much of her time; but I believe that Mammy has always kept
up a sort of sulkiness about this. She won't marry anybody else;
and I do believe, now, though she knows how necessary she is to
me, and how feeble my health is, she would go back to her husband
tomorrow, if she only could. I _do_, indeed," said Marie; "they
are just so selfish, now, the best of them."

"It's distressing to reflect upon," said St. Clare, dryly.

Miss Ophelia looked keenly at him, and saw the flush of
mortification and repressed vexation, and the sarcastic curl of
the lip, as he spoke.

"Now, Mammy has always been a pet with me," said Marie.
"I wish some of your northern servants could look at her
closets of dresses,--silks and muslins, and one real linen
cambric, she has hanging there. I've worked sometimes whole
afternoons, trimming her caps, and getting her ready to go to
a party. As to abuse, she don't know what it is. She never was
whipped more than once or twice in her whole life. She has her
strong coffee or her tea every day, with white sugar in it.
It's abominable, to be sure; but St. Clare will have high life
below-stairs, and they every one of them live just as they please.
The fact is, our servants are over-indulged. I suppose it is
partly our fault that they are selfish, and act like spoiled
children; but I've talked to St. Clare till I am tired."

"And I, too," said St. Clare, taking up the morning paper.

Eva, the beautiful Eva, had stood listening to her mother,
with that expression of deep and mystic earnestness which was
peculiar to her. She walked softly round to her mother's chair,
and put her arms round her neck.

"Well, Eva, what now?" said Marie.

"Mamma, couldn't I take care of you one night--just one?
I know I shouldn't make you nervous, and I shouldn't sleep.
I often lie awake nights, thinking--"

"O, nonsense, child--nonsense!" said Marie; "you are such
a strange child!"

"But may I, mamma? I think," she said, timidly, "that Mammy
isn't well. She told me her head ached all the time, lately."

"O, that's just one of Mammy's fidgets! Mammy is just like all
the rest of them--makes such a fuss about every little headache
or finger-ache; it'll never do to encourage it--never! I'm principled
about this matter," said she, turning to Miss Ophelia; "you'll find
the necessity of it. If you encourage servants in giving way to
every little disagreeable feeling, and complaining of every little
ailment, you'll have your hands full. I never complain myself--nobody
knows what I endure. I feel it a duty to bear it quietly, and I do."

Miss Ophelia's round eyes expressed an undisguised amazement at
this peroration, which struck St. Clare as so supremely ludicrous,
that he burst into a loud laugh.

"St. Clare always laughs when I make the least allusion to my
ill health," said Marie, with the voice of a suffering martyr.
"I only hope the day won't come when he'll remember it!" and Marie
put her handkerchief to her eyes.

Of course, there was rather a foolish silence. Finally, St. Clare
got up, looked at his watch, and said he had an engagement
down street. Eva tripped away after him, and Miss Ophelia and
Marie remained at the table alone.

"Now, that's just like St. Clare!" said the latter, withdrawing
her handkerchief with somewhat of a spirited flourish when the
criminal to be affected by it was no longer in sight. "He never
realizes, never can, never will, what I suffer, and have, for years.
If I was one of the complaining sort, or ever made any fuss about
my ailments, there would be some reason for it. Men do get tired,
naturally, of a complaining wife. But I've kept things to myself,
and borne, and borne, till St. Clare has got in the way of thinking
I can bear anything."

Miss Ophelia did not exactly know what she was expected to
answer to this.

While she was thinking what to say, Marie gradually wiped away
her tears, and smoothed her plumage in a general sort of way,
as a dove might be supposed to make toilet after a shower, and
began a housewifely chat with Miss Ophelia, concerning cupboards,
closets, linen-presses, store-rooms, and other matters, of which
the latter was, by common understanding, to assume the direction,
--giving her so many cautious directions and charges, that a head
less systematic and business-like than Miss Ophelia's would have
been utterly dizzied and confounded.

"And now," said Marie, "I believe I've told you everything;
so that, when my next sick turn comes on, you'll be able to go
forward entirely, without consulting me;--only about Eva,--she
requires watching."

"She seems to be a good child, very," said Miss Ophelia;
"I never saw a better child."

"Eva's peculiar," said her mother, "very. There are things
about her so singular; she isn't like me, now, a particle;" and
Marie sighed, as if this was a truly melancholy consideration.

Miss Ophelia in her own heart said, "I hope she isn't,"
but had prudence enough to keep it down.

"Eva always was disposed to be with servants; and I think
that well enough with some children. Now, I always played with
father's little negroes--it never did me any harm. But Eva somehow
always seems to put herself on an equality with every creature that
comes near her. It's a strange thing about the child. I never
have been able to break her of it. St. Clare, I believe, encourages
her in it. The fact is, St. Clare indulges every creature under
this roof but his own wife."

Again Miss Ophelia sat in blank silence.

"Now, there's no way with servants," said Marie, "but to _put
them down_, and keep them down. It was always natural to me,
from a child. Eva is enough to spoil a whole house-full.
What she will do when she comes to keep house herself, I'm sure
I don't know. I hold to being _kind_ to servants--I always am;
but you must make 'em _know their place_. Eva never does; there's
no getting into the child's head the first beginning of an idea what
a servant's place is! You heard her offering to take care of me
nights, to let Mammy sleep! That's just a specimen of the way the
child would be doing all the time, if she was left to herself."

"Why," said Miss Ophelia, bluntly, "I suppose you think your
servants are human creatures, and ought to have some rest
when they are tired."

"Certainly, of course. I'm very particular in letting them
have everything that comes convenient,--anything that doesn't put
one at all out of the way, you know. Mammy can make up her sleep,
some time or other; there's no difficulty about that. She's the
sleepiest concern that ever I saw; sewing, standing, or sitting,
that creature will go to sleep, and sleep anywhere and everywhere.
No danger but Mammy gets sleep enough. But this treating servants
as if they were exotic flowers, or china vases, is really ridiculous,"
said Marie, as she plunged languidly into the depths of a voluminous
and pillowy lounge, and drew towards her an elegant cut-glass
vinaigrette.

"You see," she continued, in a faint and lady-like voice,
like the last dying breath of an Arabian jessamine, or something
equally ethereal, "you see, Cousin Ophelia, I don't often speak
of myself. It isn't my _habit_; 't isn't agreeable to me. In fact,
I haven't strength to do it. But there are points where St. Clare
and I differ. St. Clare never understood me, never appreciated me.
I think it lies at the root of all my ill health. St. Clare
means well, I am bound to believe; but men are constitutionally
selfish and inconsiderate to woman. That, at least, is my impression."

Miss Ophelia, who had not a small share of the genuine New
England caution, and a very particular horror of being drawn into
family difficulties, now began to foresee something of this kind
impending; so, composing her face into a grim neutrality, and
drawing out of her pocket about a yard and a quarter of stocking,
which she kept as a specific against what Dr. Watts asserts to be
a personal habit of Satan when people have idle hands, she proceeded
to knit most energetically, shutting her lips together in a way that
said, as plain as words could, "You needn't try to make me speak.
I don't want anything to do with your affairs,"--in fact, she
looked about as sympathizing as a stone lion. But Marie didn't
care for that. She had got somebody to talk to, and she felt it
her duty to talk, and that was enough; and reinforcing herself by
smelling again at her vinaigrette, she went on.

"You see, I brought my own property and servants into the
connection, when I married St. Clare, and I am legally entitled to
manage them my own way. St. Clare had his fortune and his servants,
and I'm well enough content he should manage them his way; but St.
Clare will be interfering. He has wild, extravagant notions about
things, particularly about the treatment of servants. He really
does act as if he set his servants before me, and before himself,
too; for he lets them make him all sorts of trouble, and never
lifts a finger. Now, about some things, St. Clare is really
frightful--he frightens me--good-natured as he looks, in general.
Now, he has set down his foot that, come what will, there shall
not be a blow struck in this house, except what he or I strike;
and he does it in a way that I really dare not cross him.
Well, you may see what that leads to; for St. Clare wouldn't
raise his hand, if every one of them walked over him, and I--you
see how cruel it would be to require me to make the exertion.
Now, you know these servants are nothing but grown-up children."

"I don't know anything about it, and I thank the Lord that
I don't!" said Miss Ophelia, shortly.

"Well, but you will have to know something, and know it to
your cost, if you stay here. You don't know what a provoking,
stupid, careless, unreasonable, childish, ungrateful set of wretches
they are."

Marie seemed wonderfully supported, always, when she got upon
this topic; and she now opened her eyes, and seemed quite to
forget her languor.

"You don't know, and you can't, the daily, hourly trials
that beset a housekeeper from them, everywhere and every way.
But it's no use to complain to St. Clare. He talks the
strangest stuff. He says we have made them what they are,
and ought to bear with them. He says their faults are all
owing to us, and that it would be cruel to make the fault and
punish it too. He says we shouldn't do any better, in their
place; just as if one could reason from them to us, you know."

"Don't you believe that the Lord made them of one blood
with us?" said Miss Ophelia, shortly.

"No, indeed not I! A pretty story, truly! They are a degraded race."

"Don't you think they've got immortal souls?" said Miss
Ophelia, with increasing indignation.

"O, well," said Marie, yawning, "that, of course--nobody
doubts that. But as to putting them on any sort of equality with
us, you know, as if we could be compared, why, it's impossible!
Now, St. Clare really has talked to me as if keeping Mammy from
her husband was like keeping me from mine. There's no comparing
in this way. Mammy couldn't have the feelings that I should.
It's a different thing altogether,-- of course, it is,--and yet St.
Clare pretends not to see it. And just as if Mammy could love her
little dirty babies as I love Eva! Yet St. Clare once really and
soberly tried to persuade me that it was my duty, with my weak
health, and all I suffer, to let Mammy go back, and take somebody
else in her place. That was a little too much even for _me_ to bear.
I don't often show my feelings, I make it a principle to endure
everything in silence; it's a wife's hard lot, and I bear it.
But I did break out, that time; so that he has never alluded
to the subject since. But I know by his looks, and little things
that he says, that he thinks so as much as ever; and it's so trying,
so provoking!"

Miss Ophelia looked very much as if she was afraid she should
say something; but she rattled away with her needles in a way
that had volumes of meaning in it, if Marie could only have
understood it.

"So, you just see," she continued, "what you've got to manage.
A household without any rule; where servants have it all their
own way, do what they please, and have what they please, except
so far as I, with my feeble health, have kept up government.
I keep my cowhide about, and sometimes I do lay it on; but the
exertion is always too much for me. If St. Clare would only have
this thing done as others do--"

"And how's that?"

"Why, send them to the calaboose, or some of the other places
to be flogged. That's the only way. If I wasn't such a poor,
feeble piece, I believe I should manage with twice the energy
that St. Clare does."

"And how does St. Clare contrive to manage?" said Miss Ophelia.
"You say he never strikes a blow."

"Well, men have a more commanding way, you know; it is easier
for them; besides, if you ever looked full in his eye, it's
peculiar,--that eye,--and if he speaks decidedly, there's a kind
of flash. I'm afraid of it, myself; and the servants know they
must mind. I couldn't do as much by a regular storm and scolding
as St. Clare can by one turn of his eye, if once he is in earnest.
O, there's no trouble about St. Clare; that's the reason he's no
more feeling for me. But you'll find, when you come to manage,
that there's no getting along without severity,--they are so bad,
so deceitful, so lazy".

"The old tune," said St. Clare, sauntering in. "What an awful
account these wicked creatures will have to settle, at last,
especially for being lazy! You see, cousin," said he, as he stretched
himself at full length on a lounge opposite to Marie, "it's wholly
inexcusable in them, in the light of the example that Marie and I
set them,--this laziness."

"Come, now, St. Clare, you are too bad!" said Marie.

"Am I, now? Why, I thought I was talking good, quite
remarkably for me. I try to enforce your remarks, Marie, always."

"You know you meant no such thing, St. Clare," said Marie.

"O, I must have been mistaken, then. Thank you, my dear,
for setting me right."

"You do really try to be provoking," said Marie.

"O, come, Marie, the day is growing warm, and I have just
had a long quarrel with Dolph, which has fatigued me excessively;
so, pray be agreeable, now, and let a fellow repose in the light
of your smile."

"What's the matter about Dolph?" said Marie. "That fellow's
impudence has been growing to a point that is perfectly intolerable
to me. I only wish I had the undisputed management of him a while.
I'd bring him down!"

"What you say, my dear, is marked with your usual acuteness
and good sense," said St. Clare. "As to Dolph, the case is this:
that he has so long been engaged in imitating my graces and
perfections, that he has, at last, really mistaken himself for his
master; and I have been obliged to give him a little insight into
his mistake."

"How?" said Marie.

"Why, I was obliged to let him understand explicitly that I
preferred to keep _some_ of my clothes for my own personal wearing;
also, I put his magnificence upon an allowance of cologne-water,
and actually was so cruel as to restrict him to one dozen of my
cambric handkerchiefs. Dolph was particularly huffy about it, and
I had to talk to him like a father, to bring him round."

"O! St. Clare, when will you learn how to treat your servants?
It's abominable, the way you indulge them!" said Marie.

"Why, after all, what's the harm of the poor dog's wanting
to be like his master; and if I haven't brought him up any better
than to find his chief good in cologne and cambric handkerchiefs,
why shouldn't I give them to him?"

"And why haven't you brought him up better?" said Miss
Ophelia, with blunt determination.

"Too much trouble,--laziness, cousin, laziness,--which ruins
more souls than you can shake a stick at. If it weren't for
laziness, I should have been a perfect angel, myself. I'm inclined
to think that laziness is what your old Dr. Botherem, up in Vermont,
used to call the `essence of moral evil.' It's an awful
consideration, certainly."

"I think you slaveholders have an awful responsibility upon
you," said Miss Ophelia. "I wouldn't have it, for a thousand
worlds. You ought to educate your slaves, and treat them like
reasonable creatures,--like immortal creatures, that you've got to
stand before the bar of God with. That's my mind," said the good
lady, breaking suddenly out with a tide of zeal that had been
gaining strength in her mind all the morning.

"O! come, come," said St. Clare, getting up quickly; "what
do you know about us?" And he sat down to the piano, and rattled
a lively piece of music. St. Clare had a decided genius for music.
His touch was brilliant and firm, and his fingers flew over the
keys with a rapid and bird-like motion, airy, and yet decided.
He played piece after piece, like a man who is trying to play himself
into a good humor. After pushing the music aside, he rose up, and
said, gayly, "Well, now, cousin, you've given us a good talk and
done your duty; on the whole, I think the better of you for it.
I make no manner of doubt that you threw a very diamond of truth
at me, though you see it hit me so directly in the face that it
wasn't exactly appreciated, at first."

"For my part, I don't see any use in such sort of talk,"
said Marie. "I'm sure, if anybody does more for servants than we
do, I'd like to know who; and it don't do 'em a bit good,--not a
particle,--they get worse and worse. As to talking to them, or
anything like that, I'm sure I have talked till I was tired and
hoarse, telling them their duty, and all that; and I'm sure they
can go to church when they like, though they don't understand a
word of the sermon, more than so many pigs,--so it isn't of any
great use for them to go, as I see; but they do go, and so they
have every chance; but, as I said before, they are a degraded race,
and always will be, and there isn't any help for them; you can't
make anything of them, if you try. You see, Cousin Ophelia,
I've tried, and you haven't; I was born and bred among them, and
I know."

Miss Ophelia thought she had said enough, and therefore
sat silent. St. Clare whistled a tune.

"St. Clare, I wish you wouldn't whistle," said Marie; "it
makes my head worse."

"I won't," said St. Clare. "Is there anything else you
wouldn't wish me to do?"

"I wish you _would_ have some kind of sympathy for my
trials; you never have any feeling for me."

"My dear accusing angel!" said St. Clare.

"It's provoking to be talked to in that way."

"Then, how will you be talked to? I'll talk to order,--any
way you'll mention,--only to give satisfaction."

A gay laugh from the court rang through the silken curtains
of the verandah. St. Clare stepped out, and lifting up the curtain,
laughed too.

"What is it?" said Miss Ophelia, coming to the railing.

There sat Tom, on a little mossy seat in the court, every one
of his button-holes stuck full of cape jessamines, and Eva,
gayly laughing, was hanging a wreath of roses round his neck; and
then she sat down on his knee, like a chip-sparrow, still laughing.

"O, Tom, you look so funny!"

Tom had a sober, benevolent smile, and seemed, in his quiet way,
to be enjoying the fun quite as much as his little mistress.
He lifted his eyes, when he saw his master, with a half-deprecating,
apologetic air.

"How can you let her?" said Miss Ophelia.

"Why not?" said St. Clare.

"Why, I don't know, it seems so dreadful!"

"You would think no harm in a child's caressing a large dog,
even if he was black; but a creature that can think, and
reason, and feel, and is immortal, you shudder at; confess it,
cousin. I know the feeling among some of you northerners well
enough. Not that there is a particle of virtue in our not having
it; but custom with us does what Christianity ought to do,--obliterates
the feeling of personal prejudice. I have often noticed, in my
travels north, how much stronger this was with you than with us.
You loathe them as you would a snake or a toad, yet you are indignant
at their wrongs. You would not have them abused; but you don't
want to have anything to do with them yourselves. You would send
them to Africa, out of your sight and smell, and then send a
missionary or two to do up all the self-denial of elevating them
compendiously. Isn't that it?"

"Well, cousin," said Miss Ophelia, thoughtfully, "there
may be some truth in this."

"What would the poor and lowly do, without children?" said
St. Clare, leaning on the railing, and watching Eva, as she tripped
off, leading Tom with her. "Your little child is your only true
democrat. Tom, now is a hero to Eva; his stories are wonders in
her eyes, his songs and Methodist hymns are better than an opera,
and the traps and little bits of trash in his pocket a mine of
jewels, and he the most wonderful Tom that ever wore a black skin.
This is one of the roses of Eden that the Lord has dropped down
expressly for the poor and lowly, who get few enough of any other kind."

"It's strange, cousin," said Miss Ophelia, "one might almost
think you were a _professor_, to hear you talk."

"A professor?" said St. Clare.

"Yes; a professor of religion."

"Not at all; not a professor, as your town-folks have it;
and, what is worse, I'm afraid, not a _practiser_, either."

"What makes you talk so, then?"

"Nothing is easier than talking," said St. Clare. "I believe
Shakespeare makes somebody say, `I could sooner show twenty
what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow my
own showing.'[1] Nothing like division of labor. My forte lies in
talking, and yours, cousin, lies in doing."

 

[1] _The Merchant of Venice_, Act 1, scene 2, lines 17-18.

 

 

In Tom's external situation, at this time, there was, as the
world says, nothing to complain of Little Eva's fancy for
him--the instinctive gratitude and loveliness of a noble nature--had
led her to petition her father that he might be her especial
attendant, whenever she needed the escort of a servant, in her
walks or rides; and Tom had general orders to let everything else
go, and attend to Miss Eva whenever she wanted him,--orders which
our readers may fancy were far from disagreeable to him. He was
kept well dressed, for St. Clare was fastidiously particular on
this point. His stable services were merely a sinecure, and
consisted simply in a daily care and inspection, and directing an
under-servant in his duties; for Marie St. Clare declared that she
could not have any smell of the horses about him when he came near
her, and that he must positively not be put to any service that
would make him unpleasant to her, as her nervous system was entirely
inadequate to any trial of that nature; one snuff of anything
disagreeable being, according to her account, quite sufficient to
close the scene, and put an end to all her earthly trials at once.
Tom, therefore, in his well-brushed broadcloth suit, smooth beaver,
glossy boots, faultless wristbands and collar, with his grave,
good-natured black face, looked respectable enough to be a
Bishop of Carthage, as men of his color were, in other ages.

Then, too, he was in a beautiful place, a consideration to
which his sensitive race was never indifferent; and he did enjoy
with a quiet joy the birds, the flowers, the fountains, the perfume,
and light and beauty of the court, the silken hangings, and pictures,
and lustres, and statuettes, and gilding, that made the parlors
within a kind of Aladdin's palace to him.

If ever Africa shall show an elevated and cultivated race,--and
come it must, some time, her turn to figure in the great drama
of human improvement.--life will awake there with a gorgeousness
and splendor of which our cold western tribes faintly have conceived.
In that far-off mystic land of gold, and gems, and spices, and
waving palms, and wondrous flowers, and miraculous fertility, will
awake new forms of art, new styles of splendor; and the negro race,
no longer despised and trodden down, will, perhaps, show forth some
of the latest and most magnificent revelations of human life.
Certainly they will, in their gentleness, their lowly docility of
heart, their aptitude to repose on a superior mind and rest on a
higher power, their childlike simplicity of affection, and facility
of forgiveness. In all these they will exhibit the highest form
of the peculiarly _Christian life_, and, perhaps, as God chasteneth
whom he loveth, he hath chosen poor Africa in the furnace of
affliction, to make her the highest and noblest in that kingdom
which he will set up, when every other kingdom has been tried, and
failed; for the first shall be last, and the last first.

Was this what Marie St. Clare was thinking of, as she stood,
gorgeously dressed, on the verandah, on Sunday morning, clasping
a diamond bracelet on her slender wrist? Most likely it was.
Or, if it wasn't that, it was something else; for Marie patronized
good things, and she was going now, in full force,--diamonds, silk,
and lace, and jewels, and all,--to a fashionable church, to be
very religious. Marie always made a point to be very pious
on Sundays. There she stood, so slender, so elegant, so airy and
undulating in all her motions, her lace scarf enveloping her like
a mist. She looked a graceful creature, and she felt very good
and very elegant indeed. Miss Ophelia stood at her side, a perfect
contrast. It was not that she had not as handsome a silk dress
and shawl, and as fine a pocket-handkerchief; but stiffness and
squareness, and bolt-uprightness, enveloped her with as indefinite
yet appreciable a presence as did grace her elegant neighbor; not
the grace of God, however,--that is quite another thing!

"Where's Eva?" said Marie.

"The child stopped on the stairs, to say something to Mammy."

And what was Eva saying to Mammy on the stairs? Listen, reader,
and you will hear, though Marie does not.

"Dear Mammy, I know your head is aching dreadfully."

"Lord bless you, Miss Eva! my head allers aches lately.
You don't need to worry."

"Well, I'm glad you're going out; and here,"--and the little
girl threw her arms around her,--"Mammy, you shall take my
vinaigrette."

"What! your beautiful gold thing, thar, with them diamonds!
Lor, Miss, 't wouldn't be proper, no ways."

"Why not? You need it, and I don't. Mamma always uses it
for headache, and it'll make you feel better. No, you shall take
it, to please me, now."

"Do hear the darlin talk!" said Mammy, as Eva thrust it
into her bosom, and kissing her, ran down stairs to her mother.

"What were you stopping for?"

"I was just stopping to give Mammy my vinaigrette, to take
to church with her."

"Eva" said Marie, stamping impatiently,--"your gold vinaigrette
to _Mammy!_ When will you learn what's _proper_? Go right and
take it back this moment!"

Eva looked downcast and aggrieved, and turned slowly.

"I say, Marie, let the child alone; she shall do as she
pleases," said St. Clare.

"St. Clare, how will she ever get along in the world?" said Marie.

"The Lord knows," said St. Clare, "but she'll get along in
heaven better than you or I."

"O, papa, don't," said Eva, softly touching his elbow; "it
troubles mother."

"Well, cousin, are you ready to go to meeting?" said Miss
Ophelia, turning square about on St. Clare.

"I'm not going, thank you."

"I do wish St. Clare ever would go to church," said Marie;
"but he hasn't a particle of religion about him. It really isn't
respectable."

"I know it," said St. Clare. "You ladies go to church to learn
how to get along in the world, I suppose, and your piety sheds
respectability on us. If I did go at all, I would go where Mammy
goes; there's something to keep a fellow awake there, at least."

"What! those shouting Methodists? Horrible!" said Marie.

"Anything but the dead sea of your respectable churches, Marie.
Positively, it's too much to ask of a man. Eva, do you
like to go? Come, stay at home and play with me."

"Thank you, papa; but I'd rather go to church."

"Isn't it dreadful tiresome?" said St. Clare.

"I think it is tiresome, some," said Eva, "and I am sleepy,
too, but I try to keep awake."

"What do you go for, then?"

"Why, you know, papa," she said, in a whisper, "cousin told me
that God wants to have us; and he gives us everything, you know;
and it isn't much to do it, if he wants us to. It isn't so very
tiresome after all."

"You sweet, little obliging soul!" said St. Clare, kissing her;
"go along, that's a good girl, and pray for me."

"Certainly, I always do," said the child, as she sprang
after her mother into the carriage.

St. Clare stood on the steps and kissed his hand to her,
as the carriage drove away; large tears were in his eyes.

"O, Evangeline! rightly named," he said; "hath not God made
thee an evangel to me?"

So he felt a moment; and then he smoked a cigar, and read
the Picayune, and forgot his little gospel. Was he much unlike
other folks?

"You see, Evangeline," said her mother, "it's always right
and proper to be kind to servants, but it isn't proper to treat
them _just_ as we would our relations, or people in our own class
of life. Now, if Mammy was sick, you wouldn't want to put her in
your own bed."

"I should feel just like it, mamma," said Eva, "because then
it would be handier to take care of her, and because, you
know, my bed is better than hers."

Marie was in utter despair at the entire want of moral
perception evinced in this reply.

"What can I do to make this child understand me?" she said.

"Nothing," said Miss Ophelia, significantly.

Eva looked sorry and disconcerted for a moment; but children,
luckily, do not keep to one impression long, and in a few moments
she was merrily laughing at various things which she saw from the
coach-windows, as it rattled along.

* * * * * *

"Well, ladies," said St. Clare, as they were comfortably seated
at the dinner-table, "and what was the bill of fare at church today?"

"O, Dr. G---- preached a splendid sermon," said Marie.
"It was just such a sermon as you ought to hear; it expressed all
my views exactly."

"It must have been very improving," said St. Clare. "The subject
must have been an extensive one."

"Well, I mean all my views about society, and such things,"
said Marie. "The text was, `He hath made everything beautiful in
its season;' and he showed how all the orders and distinctions in
society came from God; and that it was so appropriate, you know,
and beautiful, that some should be high and some low, and that some
were born to rule and some to serve, and all that, you know; and
he applied it so well to all this ridiculous fuss that is made
about slavery, and he proved distinctly that the Bible was on our
side, and supported all our institutions so convincingly. I only
wish you'd heard him."

"O, I didn't need it," said St. Clare. "I can learn what does
me as much good as that from the Picayune, any time, and smoke
a cigar besides; which I can't do, you know, in a church."

"Why," said Miss Ophelia, "don't you believe in these views?"

"Who,--I? You know I'm such a graceless dog that these
religious aspects of such subjects don't edify me much. If I was
to say anything on this slavery matter, I would say out, fair and
square, `We're in for it; we've got 'em, and mean to keep 'em,--it's
for our convenience and our interest;' for that's the long and
short of it,--that's just the whole of what all this sanctified
stuff amounts to, after all; and I think that it will be intelligible
to everybody, everywhere."

"I do think, Augustine, you are so irreverent!" said Marie.
"I think it's shocking to hear you talk."

"Shocking! it's the truth. This religious talk on such
matters,--why don't they carry it a little further, and show the
beauty, in its season, of a fellow's taking a glass too much,
and sitting a little too late over his cards, and various
providential arrangements of that sort, which are pretty
frequent among us young men;--we'd like to hear that those are
right and godly, too."

"Well," said Miss Ophelia, "do you think slavery right or wrong?"

I'm not going to have any of your horrid New England
directness, cousin," said St. Clare, gayly. "If I answer that
question, I know you'll be at me with half a dozen others, each
one harder than the last; and I'm not a going to define my position.
I am one of the sort that lives by throwing stones at other people's
glass houses, but I never mean to put up one for them to stone."

"That's just the way he's always talking," said Marie; "you can't
get any satisfaction out of him. I believe it's just because
he don't like religion, that he's always running out in this way
he's been doing."

"Religion!" said St. Clare, in a tone that made both ladies
look at him. "Religion! Is what you hear at church, religion?
Is that which can bend and turn, and descend and ascend, to fit every
crooked phase of selfish, worldly society, religion? Is that religion
which is less scrupulous, less generous, less just, less considerate
for man, than even my own ungodly, worldly, blinded nature? No!
When I look for a religion, I must look for something above me,
and not something beneath."

"Then you don't believe that the Bible justifies slavery,"
said Miss Ophelia.

"The Bible was my _mother's_ book," said St. Clare. "By it she
lived and died, and I would be very sorry to think it did.
I'd as soon desire to have it proved that my mother could drink
brandy, chew tobacco, and swear, by way of satisfying me that I
did right in doing the same. It wouldn't make me at all more
satisfied with these things in myself, and it would take from me
the comfort of respecting her; and it really is a comfort, in this
world, to have anything one can respect. In short, you see," said
he, suddenly resuming his gay tone, "all I want is that different
things be kept in different boxes. The whole frame-work of society,
both in Europe and America, is made up of various things which will
not stand the scrutiny of any very ideal standard of morality.
It's pretty generally understood that men don't aspire after the
absolute right, but only to do about as well as the rest of the
world. Now, when any one speaks up, like a man, and says slavery
is necessary to us, we can't get along without it, we should be
beggared if we give it up, and, of course, we mean to hold on to
it,--this is strong, clear, well-defined language; it has the
respectability of truth to it; and, if we may judge by their
practice, the majority of the world will bear us out in it.
But when he begins to put on a long face, and snuffle, and quote
Scripture, I incline to think he isn't much better than he should be."

"You are very uncharitable," said Marie.

"Well," said St. Clare, "suppose that something should bring
down the price of cotton once and forever, and make the whole
slave property a drug in the market, don't you think we should soon
have another version of the Scripture doctrine? What a flood of
light would pour into the church, all at once, and how immediately
it would be discovered that everything in the Bible and reason went
the other way!"

"Well, at any rate," said Marie, as she reclined herself
on a lounge, "I'm thankful I'm born where slavery exists; and I
believe it's right,--indeed, I feel it must be; and, at any rate,
I'm sure I couldn't get along without it."

"I say, what do you think, Pussy?" said her father to Eva,
who came in at this moment, with a flower in her hand.

"What about, papa?"

"Why, which do you like the best,--to live as they do at your
uncle's, up in Vermont, or to have a house-full of servants,
as we do?"

"O, of course, our way is the pleasantest," said Eva.

"Why so?" said St. Clare, stroking her head.

"Why, it makes so many more round you to love, you know,"
said Eva, looking up earnestly.

"Now, that's just like Eva," said Marie; "just one of her
odd speeches."

"Is it an odd speech, papa?" said Eva, whisperingly, as
she got upon his knee.

"Rather, as this world goes, Pussy," said St. Clare. "But where
has my little Eva been, all dinner-time?"

"O, I've been up in Tom's room, hearing him sing, and Aunt
Dinah gave me my dinner."

"Hearing Tom sing, hey?"

"O, yes! he sings such beautiful things about the New
Jerusalem, and bright angels, and the land of Canaan."

"I dare say; it's better than the opera, isn't it?"

"Yes, and he's going to teach them to me."

"Singing lessons, hey?--you _are_ coming on."

"Yes, he sings for me, and I read to him in my Bible; and
he explains what it means, you know."

"On my word," said Marie, laughing, "that is the latest
joke of the season."

"Tom isn't a bad hand, now, at explaining Scripture, I'll dare
swear," said St. Clare. "Tom has a natural genius for religion.
I wanted the horses out early, this morning, and I stole up to
Tom's cubiculum there, over the stables, and there I heard him
holding a meeting by himself; and, in fact, I haven't heard anything
quite so savory as Tom's prayer, this some time. He put in for me,
with a zeal that was quite apostolic."

"Perhaps he guessed you were listening. I've heard of that
trick before."

"If he did, he wasn't very polite; for he gave the Lord
his opinion of me, pretty freely. Tom seemed to think there
was decidedly room for improvement in me, and seemed very
earnest that I should be converted."

"I hope you'll lay it to heart," said Miss Ophelia.

"I suppose you are much of the same opinion," said St. Clare.
"Well, we shall see,--shan't we, Eva?"

 

 

CHAPTER XVII

The Freeman's Defence

 

There was a gentle bustle at the Quaker house, as the
afternoon drew to a close. Rachel Halliday moved quietly to and
fro, collecting from her household stores such needments as could
be arranged in the smallest compass, for the wanderers who were to
go forth that night. The afternoon shadows stretched eastward,
and the round red sun stood thoughtfully on the horizon, and his
beams shone yellow and calm into the little bed-room where George
and his wife were sitting. He was sitting with his child on his
knee, and his wife's hand in his. Both looked thoughtful and
serious and traces of tears were on their cheeks.

"Yes, Eliza," said George, "I know all you say is true.
You are a good child,--a great deal better than I am; and I will
try to do as you say. I'll try to act worthy of a free man.
I'll try to feel like a Christian. God Almighty knows that I've
meant to do well,--tried hard to do well,--when everything has been
against me; and now I'll forget all the past, and put away every hard
and bitter feeling, and read my Bible, and learn to be a good man."

"And when we get to Canada," said Eliza, "I can help you.
I can do dress-making very well; and I understand fine washing and
ironing; and between us we can find something to live on."

"Yes, Eliza, so long as we have each other and our boy. O! Eliza,
if these people only knew what a blessing it is for a man to feel
that his wife and child belong to _him_! I've often wondered to
see men that could call their wives and children _their own_
fretting and worrying about anything else. Why, I feel rich and
strong, though we have nothing but our bare hands. I feel
as if I could scarcely ask God for any more. Yes, though I've
worked hard every day, till I am twenty-five years old, and have
not a cent of money, nor a roof to cover me, nor a spot of land to
call my own, yet, if they will only let me alone now, I will be
satisfied,--thankful; I will work, and send back the money for you
and my boy. As to my old master, he has been paid five times over
for all he ever spent for me. I don't owe him anything."

"But yet we are not quite out of danger," said Eliza; "we
are not yet in Canada."

"True," said George, "but it seems as if I smelt the free
air, and it makes me strong."

At this moment, voices were heard in the outer apartment,
in earnest conversation, and very soon a rap was heard on the door.
Eliza started and opened it.

Simeon Halliday was there, and with him a Quaker brother, whom
he introduced as Phineas Fletcher. Phineas was tall and lathy,
red-haired, with an expression of great acuteness and shrewdness
in his face. He had not the placid, quiet, unworldly air of Simeon
Halliday; on the contrary, a particularly wide-awake and _au fait_
appearance, like a man who rather prides himself on knowing what
he is about, and keeping a bright lookout ahead; peculiarities
which sorted rather oddly with his broad brim and formal phraseology.

"Our friend Phineas hath discovered something of importance
to the interests of thee and thy party, George," said Simeon; "it
were well for thee to hear it."

"That I have," said Phineas, "and it shows the use of a
man's always sleeping with one ear open, in certain places,
as I've always said. Last night I stopped at a little lone
tavern, back on the road. Thee remembers the place, Simeon, where
we sold some apples, last year, to that fat woman, with the great
ear-rings. Well, I was tired with hard driving; and, after my
supper I stretched myself down on a pile of bags in the corner,
and pulled a buffalo over me, to wait till my bed was ready; and
what does I do, but get fast asleep."

"With one ear open, Phineas?" said Simeon, quietly.

"No; I slept, ears and all, for an hour or two, for I was pretty
well tired; but when I came to myself a little, I found that
there were some men in the room, sitting round a table, drinking
and talking; and I thought, before I made much muster, I'd just
see what they were up to, especially as I heard them say something
about the Quakers. `So,' says one, `they are up in the Quaker
settlement, no doubt,' says he. Then I listened with both ears,
and I found that they were talking about this very party. So I
lay and heard them lay off all their plans. This young man, they
said, was to be sent back to Kentucky, to his master, who was going
to make an example of him, to keep all niggers from running away;
and his wife two of them were going to run down to New Orleans to
sell, on their own account, and they calculated to get sixteen or
eighteen hundred dollars for her; and the child, they said, was
going to a trader, who had bought him; and then there was the boy,
Jim, and his mother, they were to go back to their masters in
Kentucky. They said that there were two constables, in a town a
little piece ahead, who would go in with 'em to get 'em taken up,
and the young woman was to be taken before a judge; and one of the
fellows, who is small and smooth-spoken, was to swear to her for
his property, and get her delivered over to him to take south.
They've got a right notion of the track we are going tonight; and
they'll be down after us, six or eight strong. So now, what's to
be done?"

The group that stood in various attitudes, after this
communication, were worthy of a painter. Rachel Halliday, who had
taken her hands out of a batch of biscuit, to hear the news, stood
with them upraised and floury, and with a face of the deepest
concern. Simeon looked profoundly thoughtful; Eliza had thrown
her arms around her husband, and was looking up to him. George
stood with clenched hands and glowing eyes, and looking as any
other man might look, whose wife was to be sold at auction, and son
sent to a trader, all under the shelter of a Christian nation's laws.

"What _shall_ we do, George?" said Eliza faintly.

"I know what _I_ shall do," said George, as he stepped into
the little room, and began examining pistols.

"Ay, ay," said Phineas, nodding his head to Simeon; thou
seest, Simeon, how it will work."

"I see," said Simeon, sighing; "I pray it come not to that."

"I don't want to involve any one with or for me," said George.
"If you will lend me your vehicle and direct me, I will drive
alone to the next stand. Jim is a giant in strength, and
brave as death and despair, and so am I."

"Ah, well, friend," said Phineas, "but thee'll need a driver,
for all that. Thee's quite welcome to do all the fighting,
thee knows; but I know a thing or two about the road, that thee
doesn't."

"But I don't want to involve you," said George.

"Involve," said Phineas, with a curious and keen expression
of face, "When thee does involve me, please to let me know."

"Phineas is a wise and skilful man," said Simeon. "Thee does
well, George, to abide by his judgment; and," he added, laying
his hand kindly on George's shoulder, and pointing to the pistols,
"be not over hasty with these,--young blood is hot."

"I will attack no man," said George. "All I ask of this country
is to be let alone, and I will go out peaceably; but,"--he paused,
and his brow darkened and his face worked,--"I've had a sister
sold in that New Orleans market. I know what they are sold for;
and am I going to stand by and see them take my wife and sell her,
when God has given me a pair of strong arms to defend her? No; God
help me! I'll fight to the last breath, before they shall take my
wife and son. Can you blame me?"

"Mortal man cannot blame thee, George. Flesh and blood could
not do otherwise," said Simeon. "Woe unto the world because
of offences, but woe unto them through whom the offence cometh."

"Would not even you, sir, do the same, in my place?"

"I pray that I be not tried," said Simeon; "the flesh is weak."

"I think my flesh would be pretty tolerable strong, in such
a case," said Phineas, stretching out a pair of arms like the sails
of a windmill. "I an't sure, friend George, that I shouldn't hold
a fellow for thee, if thee had any accounts to settle with him."

"If man should _ever_ resist evil," said Simeon, "then George
should feel free to do it now: but the leaders of our people
taught a more excellent way; for the wrath of man worketh not the
righteousness of God; but it goes sorely against the corrupt will
of man, and none can receive it save they to whom it is given.
Let us pray the Lord that we be not tempted."

"And so _I_ do," said Phineas; "but if we are tempted too
much--why, let them look out, that's all."

"It's quite plain thee wasn't born a Friend," said Simeon, smiling.
"The old nature hath its way in thee pretty strong as yet."

To tell the truth, Phineas had been a hearty, two-fisted
backwoodsman, a vigorous hunter, and a dead shot at a buck; but,
having wooed a pretty Quakeress, had been moved by the power of
her charms to join the society in his neighborhood; and though he
was an honest, sober, and efficient member, and nothing particular
could be alleged against him, yet the more spiritual among them
could not but discern an exceeding lack of savor in his developments.

"Friend Phineas will ever have ways of his own," said Rachel
Halliday, smiling; "but we all think that his heart is in the right
place, after all."

"Well," said George, "isn't it best that we hasten our flight?"

"I got up at four o'clock, and came on with all speed, full
two or three hours ahead of them, if they start at the time they
planned. It isn't safe to start till dark, at any rate; for there
are some evil persons in the villages ahead, that might be disposed
to meddle with us, if they saw our wagon, and that would delay us
more than the waiting; but in two hours I think we may venture.
I will go over to Michael Cross, and engage him to come behind on
his swift nag, and keep a bright lookout on the road, and warn us
if any company of men come on. Michael keeps a horse that can soon
get ahead of most other horses; and he could shoot ahead and let
us know, if there were any danger. I am going out now to warn Jim
and the old woman to be in readiness, and to see about the horse.
We have a pretty fair start, and stand a good chance to get to the
stand before they can come up with us. So, have good courage,
friend George; this isn't the first ugly scrape that I've been in
with thy people," said Phineas, as he closed the door.

"Phineas is pretty shrewd," said Simeon. "He will do the
best that can be done for thee, George."

"All I am sorry for," said George, "is the risk to you."

"Thee'll much oblige us, friend George, to say no more about that.
What we do we are conscience bound to do; we can do no other way.
And now, mother," said he, turning to Rachel, "hurry thy preparations
for these friends, for we must not send them away fasting."

And while Rachel and her children were busy making corn-cake,
and cooking ham and chicken, and hurrying on the _et ceteras_ of
the evening meal, George and his wife sat in their little room,
with their arms folded about each other, in such talk as husband
and wife have when they know that a few hours may part them forever.

"Eliza," said George, "people that have friends, and houses,
and lands, and money, and all those things _can't_ love as we do,
who have nothing but each other. Till I knew you, Eliza, no creature
had loved me, but my poor, heart-broken mother and sister. I saw
poor Emily that morning the trader carried her off. She came to
the corner where I was lying asleep, and said, `Poor George, your
last friend is going. What will become of you, poor boy?' And I
got up and threw my arms round her, and cried and sobbed, and she
cried too; and those were the last kind words I got for ten long
years; and my heart all withered up, and felt as dry as ashes, till
I met you. And your loving me,--why, it was almost like raising
one from the dead! I've been a new man ever since! And now, Eliza,
I'll give my last drop of blood, but they _shall not_ take you from me.
Whoever gets you must walk over my dead body."

"O, Lord, have mercy!" said Eliza, sobbing. "If he will only
let us get out of this country together, that is all we ask."

"Is God on their side?" said George, speaking less to his wife
than pouring out his own bitter thoughts. "Does he see all
they do? Why does he let such things happen? And they tell us that
the Bible is on their side; certainly all the power is. They are
rich, and healthy, and happy; they are members of churches, expecting
to go to heaven; and they get along so easy in the world, and have
it all their own way; and poor, honest, faithful Christians,--Christians
as good or better than they,--are lying in the very dust under
their feet. They buy 'em and sell 'em, and make trade of their
heart's blood, and groans and tears,--and God _lets_ them."

"Friend George," said Simeon, from the kitchen, "listen to
this Psalm; it may do thee good."

George drew his seat near the door, and Eliza, wiping her
tears, came forward also to listen, while Simeon read as follows:

"But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had
well-nigh slipped. For I was envious of the foolish, when I saw
the prosperity of the wicked. They are not in trouble like other
men, neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore, pride
compasseth them as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart
could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning
oppression; they speak loftily. Therefore his people return,
and the waters of a full cup are wrung out to them, and they say,
How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?"

"Is not that the way thee feels, George?"

"It is so indeed," said George,--"as well as I could have
written it myself."

"Then, hear," said Simeon: "When I thought to know this,
it was too painful for me until I went unto the sanctuary of God.
Then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery
places, thou castedst them down to destruction. As a dream when
one awaketh, so, oh Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise
their image. Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou hast
holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me by thy counsel,
and afterwards receive me to glory. It is good for me to draw near
unto God. I have put my trust in the Lord God."[1]

 

[1] Ps. 73, "The End of the Wicked contrasted with that of
the Righteous."

 

The words of holy trust, breathed by the friendly old man,
stole like sacred music over the harassed and chafed spirit
of George; and after he ceased, he sat with a gentle and
subdued expression on his fine features.

"If this world were all, George," said Simeon, "thee might,
indeed, ask where is the Lord? But it is often those who have least
of all in this life whom he chooseth for the kingdom. Put thy
trust in him and, no matter what befalls thee here, he will make
all right hereafter."

If these words had been spoken by some easy, self-indulgent
exhorter, from whose mouth they might have come merely as pious
and rhetorical flourish, proper to be used to people in distress,
perhaps they might not have had much effect; but coming from one
who daily and calmly risked fine and imprisonment for the cause of
God and man, they had a weight that could not but be felt, and both
the poor, desolate fugitives found calmness and strength breathing
into them from it.

And now Rachel took Eliza's hand kindly, and led the way to the
supper-table. As they were sitting down, a light tap sounded
at the door, and Ruth entered.

"I just ran in," she said, "with these little stockings for the
boy,--three pair, nice, warm woollen ones. It will be so cold,
thee knows, in Canada. Does thee keep up good courage, Eliza?"
she added, tripping round to Eliza's side of the table, and
shaking her warmly by the hand, and slipping a seed-cake into
Harry's hand. "I brought a little parcel of these for him," she
said, tugging at her pocket to get out the package. "Children,
thee knows, will always be eating."

"O, thank you; you are too kind," said Eliza.

"Come, Ruth, sit down to supper," said Rachel.

"I couldn't, any way. I left John with the baby, and some
biscuits in the oven; and I can't stay a moment, else John will
burn up all the biscuits, and give the baby all the sugar in
the bowl. That's the way he does," said the little Quakeress,
laughing. "So, good-by, Eliza; good-by, George; the Lord grant
thee a safe journey;" and, with a few tripping steps, Ruth was
out of the apartment.

A little while after supper, a large covered-wagon drew up
before the door; the night was clear starlight; and Phineas jumped
briskly down from his seat to arrange his passengers. George walked
out of the door, with his child on one arm and his wife on the other.
His step was firm, his face settled and resolute. Rachel and
Simeon came out after them.

"You get out, a moment," said Phineas to those inside, "and
let me fix the back of the wagon, there, for the women-folks and
the boy."

"Here are the two buffaloes," said Rachel. "Make the seats
as comfortable as may be; it's hard riding all night."

Jim came out first, and carefully assisted out his old mother,
who clung to his arm, and looked anxiously about, as if she
expected the pursuer every moment.

"Jim, are your pistols all in order?" said George, in a
low, firm voice.

"Yes, indeed," said Jim.

"And you've no doubt what you shall do, if they come?"

"I rather think I haven't," said Jim, throwing open his
broad chest, and taking a deep breath. "Do you think I'll let
them get mother again?"

During this brief colloquy, Eliza had been taking her leave
of her kind friend, Rachel, and was handed into the carriage by
Simeon, and, creeping into the back part with her boy, sat down
among the buffalo-skins. The old woman was next handed in and
seated and George and Jim placed on a rough board seat front of
them, and Phineas mounted in front.

"Farewell, my friends," said Simeon, from without.

"God bless you!" answered all from within.

And the wagon drove off, rattling and jolting over the
frozen road.

There was no opportunity for conversation, on account of the
roughness of the way and the noise of the wheels. The vehicle,
therefore, rumbled on, through long, dark stretches of woodland,--over
wide dreary plains,--up hills, and down valleys,--and on, on, on
they jogged, hour after hour. The child soon fell asleep, and lay
heavily in his mother's lap. The poor, frightened old woman at
last forgot her fears; and, even Eliza, as the night waned, found
all her anxieties insufficient to keep her eyes from closing.
Phineas seemed, on the whole, the briskest of the company, and
beguiled his long drive with whistling certain very unquaker-like
songs, as he went on.

But about three o'clock George's ear caught the hasty and
decided click of a horse's hoof coming behind them at some distance
and jogged Phineas by the elbow. Phineas pulled up his horses,
and listened.

"That must be Michael," he said; "I think I know the sound
of his gallop;" and he rose up and stretched his head anxiously
back over the road.

A man riding in hot haste was now dimly descried at the
top of a distant hill.

"There he is, I do believe!" said Phineas. George and Jim both
sprang out of the wagon before they knew what they were doing.
All stood intensely silent, with their faces turned towards the
expected messenger. On he came. Now he went down into a valley,
where they could not see him; but they heard the sharp, hasty tramp,
rising nearer and nearer; at last they saw him emerge on the top
of an eminence, within hail.

"Yes, that's Michael!" said Phineas; and, raising his voice,
"Halloa, there, Michael!"

"Phineas! is that thee?"

"Yes; what news--they coming?"

"Right on behind, eight or ten of them, hot with brandy,
swearing and foaming like so many wolves."

And, just as he spoke, a breeze brought the faint sound of
galloping horsemen towards them.

"In with you,--quick, boys, _in!_" said Phineas. "If you must
fight, wait till I get you a piece ahead." And, with the word,
both jumped in, and Phineas lashed the horses to a run, the horseman
keeping close beside them. The wagon rattled, jumped, almost flew,
over the frozen ground; but plainer, and still plainer, came the
noise of pursuing horsemen behind. The women heard it, and, looking
anxiously out, saw, far in the rear, on the brow of a distant hill,
a party of men looming up against the red-streaked sky of early dawn.
Another hill, and their pursuers had evidently caught sight of
their wagon, whose white cloth-covered top made it conspicuous
at some distance, and a loud yell of brutal triumph came forward
on the wind. Eliza sickened, and strained her child closer to her
bosom; the old woman prayed and groaned, and George and Jim clenched
their pistols with the grasp of despair. The pursuers gained on
them fast; the carriage made a sudden turn, and brought them near
a ledge of a steep overhanging rock, that rose in an isolated ridge
or clump in a large lot, which was, all around it, quite clear
and smooth. This isolated pile, or range of rocks, rose up black
and heavy against the brightening sky, and seemed to promise shelter
and concealment. It was a place well known to Phineas, who had
been familiar with the spot in his hunting days; and it was to gain
this point he had been racing his horses.

"Now for it!" said he, suddenly checking his horses, and
springing from his seat to the ground. "Out with you, in a twinkling,
every one, and up into these rocks with me. Michael, thee tie thy
horse to the wagon, and drive ahead to Amariah's and get him and
his boys to come back and talk to these fellows."

In a twinkling they were all out of the carriage.

"There," said Phineas, catching up Harry, "you, each of you,
see to the women; and run, _now_ if you ever _did_ run!"

They needed no exhortation. Quicker than we can say it, the
whole party were over the fence, making with all speed for the
rocks, while Michael, throwing himself from his horse, and fastening
the bridle to the wagon, began driving it rapidly away.

"Come ahead," said Phineas, as they reached the rocks, and
saw in the mingled starlight and dawn, the traces of a rude but
plainly marked foot-path leading up among them; "this is one of
our old hunting-dens. Come up!"

Phineas went before, springing up the rocks like a goat,
with the boy in his arms. Jim came second, bearing his trembling
old mother over his shoulder, and George and Eliza brought up the
rear. The party of horsemen came up to the fence, and, with mingled
shouts and oaths, were dismounting, to prepare to follow them.
A few moments' scrambling brought them to the top of the ledge; the
path then passed between a narrow defile, where only one could walk
at a time, till suddenly they came to a rift or chasm more than a
yard in breadth, and beyond which lay a pile of rocks, separate
from the rest of the ledge, standing full thirty feet high, with
its sides steep and perpendicular as those of a castle. Phineas
easily leaped the chasm, and sat down the boy on a smooth, flat
platform of crisp white moss, that covered the top of the rock.

"Over with you!" he called; "spring, now, once, for your
lives!" said he, as one after another sprang across. Several
fragments of loose stone formed a kind of breast-work, which
sheltered their position from the observation of those below.

"Well, here we all are," said Phineas, peeping over the stone
breast-work to watch the assailants, who were coming tumultuously
up under the rocks. "Let 'em get us, if they can. Whoever comes
here has to walk single file between those two rocks, in fair
range of your pistols, boys, d'ye see?"

"I do see," said George! "and now, as this matter is ours,
let us take all the risk, and do all the fighting."

"Thee's quite welcome to do the fighting, George," said Phineas,
chewing some checkerberry-leaves as he spoke; "but I may have
the fun of looking on, I suppose. But see, these fellows are
kinder debating down there, and looking up, like hens when they
are going to fly up on to the roost. Hadn't thee better give 'em
a word of advice, before they come up, just to tell 'em handsomely
they'll be shot if they do?"

The party beneath, now more apparent in the light of the dawn,
consisted of our old acquaintances, Tom Loker and Marks, with
two constables, and a posse consisting of such rowdies at the last
tavern as could be engaged by a little brandy to go and help the
fun of trapping a set of niggers.

"Well, Tom, yer coons are farly treed," said one.

"Yes, I see 'em go up right here," said Tom; "and here's
a path. I'm for going right up. They can't jump down in a hurry,
and it won't take long to ferret 'em out."

"But, Tom, they might fire at us from behind the rocks,"
said Marks. "That would be ugly, you know."

"Ugh!" said Tom, with a sneer. "Always for saving your
skin, Marks! No danger! niggers are too plaguy scared!"

"I don't know why I _shouldn't_ save my skin," said Marks.
"It's the best I've got; and niggers _do_ fight like the devil,
sometimes."

At this moment, George appeared on the top of a rock above
them, and, speaking in a calm, clear voice, said,

"Gentlemen, who are you, down there, and what do you want?"

"We want a party of runaway niggers," said Tom Loker.
"One George Harris, and Eliza Harris, and their son, and
Jim Selden, and an old woman. We've got the officers, here,
and a warrant to take 'em; and we're going to have 'em, too.
D'ye hear? An't you George Harris, that belongs to Mr. Harris,
of Shelby county, Kentucky?"

"I am George Harris. A Mr. Harris, of Kentucky, did call
me his property. But now I'm a free man, standing on God's free
soil; and my wife and my child I claim as mine. Jim and his mother
are here. We have arms to defend ourselves, and we mean to do it.
You can come up, if you like; but the first one of you that comes
within the range of our bullets is a dead man, and the next, and
the next; and so on till the last."

"O, come! come!" said a short, puffy man, stepping forward,
and blowing his nose as he did so. "Young man, this an't no kind
of talk at all for you. You see, we're officers of justice.
We've got the law on our side, and the power, and so forth; so
you'd better give up peaceably, you see; for you'll certainly have
to give up, at last."

"I know very well that you've got the law on your side, and the
power," said George, bitterly. "You mean to take my wife
to sell in New Orleans, and put my boy like a calf in a trader's
pen, and send Jim's old mother to the brute that whipped and abused
her before, because he couldn't abuse her son. You want to send
Jim and me back to be whipped and tortured, and ground down under
the heels of them that you call masters; and your laws _will_ bear
you out in it,--more shame for you and them! But you haven't got us.
We don't own your laws; we don't own your country; we stand
here as free, under God's sky, as you are; and, by the great God
that made us, we'll fight for our liberty till we die."

George stood out in fair sight, on the top of the rock, as
he made his declaration of independence; the glow of dawn gave
a flush to his swarthy cheek, and bitter indignation and despair
gave fire to his dark eye; and, as if appealing from man to the
justice of God, he raised his hand to heaven as he spoke.

If it had been only a Hungarian youth, now bravely defending
in some mountain fastness the retreat of fugitives escaping from
Austria into America, this would have been sublime heroism; but as
it was a youth of African descent, defending the retreat of fugitives
through America into Canada, of course we are too well instructed
and patriotic to see any heroism in it; and if any of our readers
do, they must do it on their own private responsibility. When
despairing Hungarian fugitives make their way, against all the
search-warrants and authorities of their lawful government, to
America, press and political cabinet ring with applause and welcome.
When despairing African fugitives do the same thing,--it is--what
_is_ it?

Be it as it may, it is certain that the attitude, eye, voice,
manner, of the speaker for a moment struck the party below
to silence. There is something in boldness and determination that
for a time hushes even the rudest nature. Marks was the only one
who remained wholly untouched. He was deliberately cocking his
pistol, and, in the momentary silence that followed George's speech,
he fired at him.

"Ye see ye get jist as much for him dead as alive in Kentucky,"
he said coolly, as he wiped his pistol on his coat-sleeve.

George sprang backward,--Eliza uttered a shriek,--the ball
had passed close to his hair, had nearly grazed the cheek of his
wife, and struck in the tree above.

"It's nothing, Eliza," said George, quickly.

"Thee'd better keep out of sight, with thy speechifying,"
said Phineas; "they're mean scamps."

"Now, Jim," said George, "look that your pistols are all
right, and watch that pass with me. The first man that shows
himself I fire at; you take the second, and so on. It won't do,
you know, to waste two shots on one."

"But what if you don't hit?"

"I _shall_ hit," said George, coolly.

"Good! now, there's stuff in that fellow," muttered Phineas,
between his teeth.

The party below, after Marks had fired, stood, for a moment,
rather undecided.

"I think you must have hit some on 'em," said one of the men.
"I heard a squeal!"

"I'm going right up for one," said Tom. "I never was afraid
of niggers, and I an't going to be now. Who goes after?" he said,
springing up the rocks.

George heard the words distinctly. He drew up his pistol,
examined it, pointed it towards that point in the defile where the
first man would appear.

One of the most courageous of the party followed Tom, and,
the way being thus made, the whole party began pushing up the
rock,--the hindermost pushing the front ones faster than they would
have gone of themselves. On they came, and in a moment the burly
form of Tom appeared in sight, almost at the verge of the chasm.

George fired,--the shot entered his side,--but, though wounded,
he would not retreat, but, with a yell like that of a mad bull,
he was leaping right across the chasm into the party.

"Friend," said Phineas, suddenly stepping to the front, and
meeting him with a push from his long arms, "thee isn't wanted here."

Down he fell into the chasm, crackling down among trees,
bushes, logs, loose stones, till he lay bruised and groaning thirty
feet below. The fall might have killed him, had it not been broken
and moderated by his clothes catching in the branches of a large
tree; but he came down with some force, however,--more than was at
all agreeable or convenient.

"Lord help us, they are perfect devils!" said Marks, heading
the retreat down the rocks with much more of a will than he had
joined the ascent, while all the party came tumbling precipitately
after him,--the fat constable, in particular, blowing and puffing
in a very energetic manner.

"I say, fellers," said Marks, "you jist go round and pick
up Tom, there, while I run and get on to my horse to go back for
help,--that's you;" and, without minding the hootings and jeers of
his company, Marks was as good as his word, and was soon seen
galloping away.

"Was ever such a sneaking varmint?" said one of the men; "to
come on his business, and he clear out and leave us this yer way!"

"Well, we must pick up that feller," said another. "Cuss me if
I much care whether he is dead or alive."

The men, led by the groans of Tom, scrambled and crackled
through stumps, logs and bushes, to where that hero lay groaning
and swearing with alternate vehemence.

"Ye keep it agoing pretty loud, Tom," said one. "Ye much hurt?"

"Don't know. Get me up, can't ye? Blast that infernal Quaker!
If it hadn't been for him, I'd a pitched some on 'em down here,
to see how they liked it."

With much labor and groaning, the fallen hero was assisted
to rise; and, with one holding him up under each shoulder, they
got him as far as the horses.

"If you could only get me a mile back to that ar tavern.
Give me a handkerchief or something, to stuff into this place,
and stop this infernal bleeding."

George looked over the rocks, and saw them trying to lift the
burly form of Tom into the saddle. After two or three ineffectual
attempts, he reeled, and fell heavily to the ground.

"O, I hope he isn't killed!" said Eliza, who, with all the
party, stood watching the proceeding.

"Why not?" said Phineas; "serves him right."

"Because after death comes the judgment," said Eliza.

"Yes," said the old woman, who had been groaning and praying,
in her Methodist fashion, during all the encounter, "it's an awful
case for the poor crittur's soul."

"On my word, they're leaving him, I do believe," said Phineas.

It was true; for after some appearance of irresolution and
consultation, the whole party got on their horses and rode away.
When they were quite out of sight, Phineas began to bestir himself.

"Well, we must go down and walk a piece," he said. "I told
Michael to go forward and bring help, and be along back here with
the wagon; but we shall have to walk a piece along the road, I
reckon, to meet them. The Lord grant he be along soon! It's early
in the day; there won't be much travel afoot yet a while; we an't
much more than two miles from our stopping-place. If the road
hadn't been so rough last night, we could have outrun 'em entirely."

As the party neared the fence, they discovered in the
distance, along the road, their own wagon coming back, accompanied
by some men on horseback.

"Well, now, there's Michael, and Stephen and Amariah,"
exclaimed Phineas, joyfully. "Now we _are_ made--as safe as if
we'd got there."

"Well, do stop, then," said Eliza, "and do something for
that poor man; he's groaning dreadfully."

"It would be no more than Christian," said George; "let's
take him up and carry him on."

"And doctor him up among the Quakers!" said Phineas; "pretty
well, that! Well, I don't care if we do. Here, let's have a look
at him;" and Phineas, who in the course of his hunting and backwoods
life had acquired some rude experience of surgery, kneeled down by
the wounded man, and began a careful examination of his condition.

"Marks," said Tom, feebly, "is that you, Marks?"

"No; I reckon 'tan't friend," said Phineas. "Much Marks
cares for thee, if his own skin's safe. He's off, long ago."

"I believe I'm done for," said Tom. "The cussed sneaking dog,
to leave me to die alone! My poor old mother always told me
't would be so."

"La sakes! jist hear the poor crittur. He's got a mammy,
now," said the old negress. "I can't help kinder pityin' on him."

"Softly, softly; don't thee snap and snarl, friend," said
Phineas, as Tom winced and pushed his hand away. "Thee has no
chance, unless I stop the bleeding." And Phineas busied himself
with making some off-hand surgical arrangements with his own
pocket-handkerchief, and such as could be mustered in the company.

"You pushed me down there," said Tom, faintly.

"Well if I hadn't thee would have pushed us down, thee sees,"
said Phineas, as he stooped to apply his bandage. "There,
there,--let me fix this bandage. We mean well to thee; we bear
no malice. Thee shall be taken to a house where they'll nurse
thee first rate, well as thy own mother could."

Tom groaned, and shut his eyes. In men of his class, vigor
and resolution are entirely a physical matter, and ooze out with
the flowing of the blood; and the gigantic fellow really looked
piteous in his helplessness.

The other party now came up. The seats were taken out of
the wagon. The buffalo-skins, doubled in fours, were spread all
along one side, and four men, with great difficulty, lifted the
heavy form of Tom into it. Before he was gotten in, he fainted
entirely. The old negress, in the abundance of her compassion,
sat down on the bottom, and took his head in her lap. Eliza, George
and Jim, bestowed themselves, as well as they could, in the remaining
space and the whole party set forward.

"What do you think of him?" said George, who sat by Phineas
in front.

"Well it's only a pretty deep flesh-wound; but, then, tumbling
and scratching down that place didn't help him much. It has
bled pretty freely,--pretty much dreaned him out, courage and
all,--but he'll get over it, and may be learn a thing or two by it."

"I'm glad to hear you say so," said George. "It would always
be a heavy thought to me, if I'd caused his death, even in
a just cause."

"Yes," said Phineas, "killing is an ugly operation, any way
they'll fix it,--man or beast. I've seen a buck that was shot
down and a dying, look that way on a feller with his eye, that it
reely most made a feller feel wicked for killing on him; and human
creatures is a more serious consideration yet, bein', as thy wife
says, that the judgment comes to 'em after death. So I don't know
as our people's notions on these matters is too strict; and,
considerin' how I was raised, I fell in with them pretty considerably."

"What shall you do with this poor fellow?" said George.

"O, carry him along to Amariah's. There's old Grandmam
Stephens there,--Dorcas, they call her,--she's most an amazin'
nurse. She takes to nursing real natural, and an't never better
suited than when she gets a sick body to tend. We may reckon on
turning him over to her for a fortnight or so."

A ride of about an hour more brought the party to a neat
farmhouse, where the weary travellers were received to an abundant
breakfast. Tom Loker was soon carefully deposited in a much cleaner
and softer bed than he had, ever been in the habit of occupying.
His wound was carefully dressed and bandaged, and he lay languidly
opening and shutting his eyes on the white window-curtains and
gently-gliding figures of his sick room, like a weary child. And here,
for the present, we shall take our leave of one party.

 

 

CHAPTER XVIII

Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions

 

Our friend Tom, in his own simple musings, often compared his
more fortunate lot, in the bondage into which he was cast, with
that of Joseph in Egypt; and, in fact, as time went on, and he
developed more and more under the eye of his master, the strength
of the parallel increased.

St. Clare was indolent and careless of money. Hitherto the
providing and marketing had been principally done by Adolph,
who was, to the full, as careless and extravagant as his master;
and, between them both, they had carried on the dispersing process
with great alacrity. Accustomed, for many years, to regard his
master's property as his own care, Tom saw, with an uneasiness he
could scarcely repress, the wasteful expenditure of the establishment;
and, in the quiet, indirect way which his class often acquire,
would sometimes make his own suggestions.

St. Clare at first employed him occasionally; but, struck with
his soundness of mind and good business capacity, he confided
in him more and more, till gradually all the marketing and providing
for the family were intrusted to him.

"No, no, Adolph," he said, one day, as Adolph was deprecating
the passing of power out of his hands; "let Tom alone. You only
understand what you want; Tom understands cost and come to; and
there may be some end to money, bye and bye if we don't let
somebody do that."

Trusted to an unlimited extent by a careless master, who
handed him a bill without looking at it, and pocketed the change
without counting it, Tom had every facility and temptation to
dishonesty; and nothing but an impregnable simplicity of nature,
strengthened by Christian faith, could have kept him from it.
But, to that nature, the very unbounded trust reposed in him was
bond and seal for the most scrupulous accuracy.

With Adolph the case had been different. Thoughtless and
self-indulgent, and unrestrained by a master who found it easier
to indulge than to regulate, he had fallen into an absolute confusion
as to _meum tuum_ with regard to himself and his master, which
sometimes troubled even St. Clare. His own good sense taught him
that such a training of his servants was unjust and dangerous.
A sort of chronic remorse went with him everywhere, although not
strong enough to make any decided change in his course; and this
very remorse reacted again into indulgence. He passed lightly over
the most serious faults, because he told himself that, if he had
done his part, his dependents had not fallen into them.

Tom regarded his gay, airy, handsome young master with an odd
mixture of fealty, reverence, and fatherly solicitude. That he
never read the Bible; never went to church; that he jested and
made free with any and every thing that came in the way of his wit;
that he spent his Sunday evenings at the opera or theatre; that he
went to wine parties, and clubs, and suppers, oftener than was at
all expedient,--were all things that Tom could see as plainly as
anybody, and on which he based a conviction that "Mas'r wasn't a
Christian;"--a conviction, however, which he would have been very
slow to express to any one else, but on which he founded many
prayers, in his own simple fashion, when he was by himself in his
little dormitory. Not that Tom had not his own way of speaking
his mind occasionally, with something of the tact often observable
in his class; as, for example, the very day after the Sabbath we
have described, St. Clare was invited out to a convivial party
of choice spirits, and was helped home, between one and two o'clock
at night, in a condition when the physical had decidedly attained
the upper hand of the intellectual. Tom and Adolph assisted to
get him composed for the night, the latter in high spirits,
evidently regarding the matter as a good joke, and laughing heartily
at the rusticity of Tom's horror, who really was simple enough to
lie awake most of the rest of the night, praying for his young master.

"Well, Tom, what are you waiting for?" said St. Clare, the next
day, as he sat in his library, in dressing-gown and slippers.
St. Clare had just been entrusting Tom with some money, and
various commissions. "Isn't all right there, Tom?" he added,
as Tom still stood waiting.

"I'm 'fraid not, Mas'r," said Tom, with a grave face.

St. Clare laid down his paper, and set down his coffee-cup,
and looked at Tom.

"Why Tom, what's the case? You look as solemn as a coffin."

"I feel very bad, Mas'r. I allays have thought that Mas'r
would be good to everybody."

"Well, Tom, haven't I been? Come, now, what do you want?
There's something you haven't got, I suppose, and this is
the preface."

"Mas'r allays been good to me. I haven't nothing to complain
of on that head. But there is one that Mas'r isn't good to."

"Why, Tom, what's got into you? Speak out; what do you mean?"

"Last night, between one and two, I thought so. I studied
upon the matter then. Mas'r isn't good to _himself_."

Tom said this with his back to his master, and his hand on the
door-knob. St. Clare felt his face flush crimson, but he laughed.

"O, that's all, is it?" he said, gayly.

"All!" said Tom, turning suddenly round and falling on his knees.
"O, my dear young Mas'r; I'm 'fraid it will be _loss of
all--all_--body and soul. The good Book says, `it biteth like a
serpent and stingeth like an adder!' my dear Mas'r!"

Tom's voice choked, and the tears ran down his cheeks.

"You poor, silly fool!" said St. Clare, with tears in his
own eyes. "Get up, Tom. I'm not worth crying over."

But Tom wouldn't rise, and looked imploring.

"Well, I won't go to any more of their cursed nonsense, Tom,"
said St. Clare; "on my honor, I won't. I don't know why I
haven't stopped long ago. I've always despised _it_, and myself
for it,--so now, Tom, wipe up your eyes, and go about your errands.
Come, come," he added, "no blessings. I'm not so wonderfully good,
now," he said, as he gently pushed Tom to the door. "There, I'll
pledge my honor to you, Tom, you don't see me so again," he said;
and Tom went off, wiping his eyes, with great satisfaction.

"I'll keep my faith with him, too," said St. Clare, as he
closed the door.

And St. Clare did so,--for gross sensualism, in any form,
was not the peculiar temptation of his nature.

But, all this time, who shall detail the tribulations
manifold of our friend Miss Ophelia, who had begun the labors of
a Southern housekeeper?

There is all the difference in the world in the servants of
Southern establishments, according to the character and capacity
of the mistresses who have brought them up.

South as well as north, there are women who have an
extraordinary talent for command, and tact in educating. Such are
enabled, with apparent ease, and without severity, to subject to
their will, and bring into harmonious and systematic order, the
various members of their small estate,--to regulate their peculiarities,
and so balance and compensate the deficiencies of one by the excess
of another, as to produce a harmonious and orderly system.

Such a housekeeper was Mrs. Shelby, whom we have already
described; and such our readers may remember to have met with.
If they are not common at the South, it is because they are not
common in the world. They are to be found there as often as
anywhere; and, when existing, find in that peculiar state of
society a brilliant opportunity to exhibit their domestic talent.

Such a housekeeper Marie St. Clare was not, nor her mother
before her. Indolent and childish, unsystematic and improvident,
it was not to be expected that servants trained under her care
should not be so likewise; and she had very justly described to
Miss Ophelia the state of confusion she would find in the family,
though she had not ascribed it to the proper cause.

The first morning of her regency, Miss Ophelia was up at
four o'clock; and having attended to all the adjustments of her
own chamber, as she had done ever since she came there, to the
great amazement of the chambermaid, she prepared for a vigorous
onslaught on the cupboards and closets of the establishment of
which she had the keys.

The store-room, the linen-presses, the china-closet, the
kitchen and cellar, that day, all went under an awful review.
Hidden things of darkness were brought to light to an extent that
alarmed all the principalities and powers of kitchen and chamber,
and caused many wonderings and murmurings about "dese yer northern
ladies" from the domestic cabinet.

Old Dinah, the head cook, and principal of all rule and
authority in the kitchen department, was filled with wrath at
what she considered an invasion of privilege. No feudal baron in
_Magna Charta_ times could have more thoroughly resented some
incursion of the crown.

Dinah was a character in her own way, and it would be injustice
to her memory not to give the reader a little idea of her.
She was a native and essential cook, as much as Aunt Chloe,--
cooking being an indigenous talent of the African race; but
Chloe was a trained and methodical one, who moved in an orderly
domestic harness, while Dinah was a self-taught genius, and, like
geniuses in general, was positive, opinionated and erratic, to the
last degree.

Like a certain class of modern philosophers, Dinah perfectly
scorned logic and reason in every shape, and always took refuge in
intuitive certainty; and here she was perfectly impregnable. No
possible amount of talent, or authority, or explanation, could ever
make her believe that any other way was better than her own, or
that the course she had pursued in the smallest matter could be in
the least modified. This had been a conceded point with her old
mistress, Marie's mother; and "Miss Marie," as Dinah always called
her young mistress, even after her marriage, found it easier to
submit than contend; and so Dinah had ruled supreme. This was the
easier, in that she was perfect mistress of that diplomatic art
which unites the utmost subservience of manner with the utmost
inflexibility as to measure.

Dinah was mistress of the whole art and mystery of excuse-making,
in all its branches. Indeed, it was an axiom with her that the
cook can do no wrong; and a cook in a Southern kitchen finds
abundance of heads and shoulders on which to lay off every sin
and frailty, so as to maintain her own immaculateness entire.
If any part of the dinner was a failure, there were fifty indisputably
good reasons for it; and it was the fault undeniably of fifty other
people, whom Dinah berated with unsparing zeal.

But it was very seldom that there was any failure in Dinah's
last results. Though her mode of doing everything was peculiarly
meandering and circuitous, and without any sort of calculation as
to time and place,--though her kitchen generally looked as if it
had been arranged by a hurricane blowing through it, and she had
about as many places for each cooking utensil as there were days
in the year,--yet, if one would have patience to wait her own good
time, up would come her dinner in perfect order, and in a style of
preparation with which an epicure could find no fault.

It was now the season of incipient preparation for dinner.
Dinah, who required large intervals of reflection and repose, and
was studious of ease in all her arrangements, was seated on the
kitchen floor, smoking a short, stumpy pipe, to which she was much
addicted, and which she always kindled up, as a sort of censer,
whenever she felt the need of an inspiration in her arrangements.
It was Dinah's mode of invoking the domestic Muses.

Seated around her were various members of that rising race
with which a Southern household abounds, engaged in shelling peas,
peeling potatoes, picking pin-feathers out of fowls, and other
preparatory arrangements,--Dinah every once in a while interrupting
her meditations to give a poke, or a rap on the head, to some of
the young operators, with the pudding-stick that lay by her side.
In fact, Dinah ruled over the woolly heads of the younger members
with a rod of iron, and seemed to consider them born for no earthly
purpose but to "save her steps," as she phrased it. It was the
spirit of the system under which she had grown up, and she carried
it out to its full extent.

Miss Ophelia, after passing on her reformatory tour through all
the other parts of the establishment, now entered the kitchen.
Dinah had heard, from various sources, what was going on, and
resolved to stand on defensive and conservative ground,--mentally
determined to oppose and ignore every new measure, without any
actual observable contest.

The kitchen was a large brick-floored apartment, with a great
old-fashioned fireplace stretching along one side of it,--an
arrangement which St. Clare had vainly tried to persuade Dinah to
exchange for the convenience of a modern cook-stove. Not she. No
Puseyite,[1] or conservative of any school, was ever more inflexibly
attached to time-honored inconveniences than Dinah.

 

[1] Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882), champion of the orthodoxy
of revealed religion, defender of the Oxford movement, and Regius
professor of Hebrew and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

 

When St. Clare had first returned from the north, impressed
with the system and order of his uncle's kitchen arrangements, he
had largely provided his own with an array of cupboards, drawers,
and various apparatus, to induce systematic regulation, under the
sanguine illusion that it would be of any possible assistance to
Dinah in her arrangements. He might as well have provided them
for a squirrel or a magpie. The more drawers and closets there
were, the more hiding-holes could Dinah make for the accommodation
of old rags, hair-combs, old shoes, ribbons, cast-off artificial
flowers, and other articles of _vertu_, wherein her soul delighted.

When Miss Ophelia entered the kitchen Dinah did not rise,
but smoked on in sublime tranquillity, regarding her movements
obliquely out of the corner of her eye, but apparently intent only
on the operations around her.

Miss Ophelia commenced opening a set of drawers.

"What is this drawer for, Dinah?" she said.

"It's handy for most anything, Missis," said Dinah. So it
appeared to be. From the variety it contained, Miss Ophelia
pulled out first a fine damask table-cloth stained with blood,
having evidently been used to envelop some raw meat.

"What's this, Dinah? You don't wrap up meat in your mistress'
best table-cloths?"

"O Lor, Missis, no; the towels was all a missin'--so I jest
did it. I laid out to wash that a,--that's why I put it thar."

"Shif'less!" said Miss Ophelia to herself, proceeding to
tumble over the drawer, where she found a nutmeg-grater and two or
three nutmegs, a Methodist hymn-book, a couple of soiled Madras
handkerchiefs, some yarn and knitting-work, a paper of tobacco and
a pipe, a few crackers, one or two gilded china-saucers with some
pomade in them, one or two thin old shoes, a piece of flannel
carefully pinned up enclosing some small white onions, several
damask table-napkins, some coarse crash towels, some twine and
darning-needles, and several broken papers, from which sundry sweet
herbs were sifting into the drawer.

"Where do you keep your nutmegs, Dinah?" said Miss Ophelia,
with the air of one who prayed for patience.

"Most anywhar, Missis; there's some in that cracked tea-cup,
up there, and there's some over in that ar cupboard."

"Here are some in the grater," said Miss Ophelia, holding
them up.

"Laws, yes, I put 'em there this morning,--I likes to keep my
things handy," said Dinah. "You, Jake! what are you stopping for!
You'll cotch it! Be still, thar!" she added, with a dive of
her stick at the criminal.

"What's this?" said Miss Ophelia, holding up the saucer of pomade.

"Laws, it's my har _grease_;--I put it thar to have it handy."

"Do you use your mistress' best saucers for that?"

"Law! it was cause I was driv, and in sich a hurry;--I was
gwine to change it this very day."

"Here are two damask table-napkins."

"Them table-napkins I put thar, to get 'em washed out, some day."

"Don't you have some place here on purpose for things to
be washed?"

"Well, Mas'r St. Clare got dat ar chest, he said, for dat;
but I likes to mix up biscuit and hev my things on it some days,
and then it an't handy a liftin' up the lid."

"Why don't you mix your biscuits on the pastry-table, there?"

"Law, Missis, it gets sot so full of dishes, and one thing
and another, der an't no room, noway--"

"But you should _wash_ your dishes, and clear them away."

"Wash my dishes!" said Dinah, in a high key, as her wrath
began to rise over her habitual respect of manner; "what does ladies
know 'bout work, I want to know? When 'd Mas'r ever get his dinner,
if I vas to spend all my time a washin' and a puttin' up dishes?
Miss Marie never telled me so, nohow."

"Well, here are these onions."

"Laws, yes!" said Dinah; "thar _is_ whar I put 'em, now.
I couldn't 'member. Them 's particular onions I was a savin' for
dis yer very stew. I'd forgot they was in dat ar old flannel."

Miss Ophelia lifted out the sifting papers of sweet herbs.

"I wish Missis wouldn't touch dem ar. I likes to keep my things
where I knows whar to go to 'em," said Dinah, rather decidedly.

"But you don't want these holes in the papers."

"Them 's handy for siftin' on 't out," said Dinah.

"But you see it spills all over the drawer."

"Laws, yes! if Missis will go a tumblin' things all up so,
it will. Missis has spilt lots dat ar way," said Dinah, coming
uneasily to the drawers. "If Missis only will go up stars
till my clarin' up time comes, I'll have everything right;
but I can't do nothin' when ladies is round, a henderin'.
You, Sam, don't you gib the baby dat ar sugar-bowl! I'll crack
ye over, if ye don't mind!"

"I'm going through the kitchen, and going to put everything
in order, _once_, Dinah; and then I'll expect you to _keep_ it so."

"Lor, now! Miss Phelia; dat ar an't no way for ladies to do.
I never did see ladies doin' no sich; my old Missis nor Miss
Marie never did, and I don't see no kinder need on 't;" and Dinah
stalked indignantly about, while Miss Ophelia piled and sorted
dishes, emptied dozens of scattering bowls of sugar into one
receptacle, sorted napkins, table-cloths, and towels, for washing;
washing, wiping, and arranging with her own hands, and with a speed
and alacrity which perfectly amazed Dinah.

"Lor now! if dat ar de way dem northern ladies do, dey an't
ladies, nohow," she said to some of her satellites, when at a safe
hearing distance. "I has things as straight as anybody, when my
clarin' up times comes; but I don't want ladies round, a henderin',
and getting my things all where I can't find 'em."

To do Dinah justice, she had, at irregular periods, paroxyms
of reformation and arrangement, which she called "clarin' up times,"
when she would begin with great zeal, and turn every drawer and
closet wrong side outward, on to the floor or tables, and make the
ordinary confusion seven-fold more confounded. Then she would
light her pipe, and leisurely go over her arrangements, looking
things over, and discoursing upon them; making all the young fry
scour most vigorously on the tin things, and keeping up for several
hours a most energetic state of confusion, which she would explain
to the satisfaction of all inquirers, by the remark that she was
a "clarin' up." "She couldn't hev things a gwine on so as they had
been, and she was gwine to make these yer young ones keep better
order;" for Dinah herself, somehow, indulged the illusion that she,
herself, was the soul of order, and it was only the _young uns_,
and the everybody else in the house, that were the cause of anything
that fell short of perfection in this respect. When all the tins
were scoured, and the tables scrubbed snowy white, and everything
that could offend tucked out of sight in holes and corners, Dinah
would dress herself up in a smart dress, clean apron, and high,
brilliant Madras turban, and tell all marauding "young uns" to keep
out of the kitchen, for she was gwine to have things kept nice.
Indeed, these periodic seasons were often an inconvenience to the
whole household; for Dinah would contract such an immoderate
attachment to her scoured tin, as to insist upon it that it shouldn't
be used again for any possible purpose,--at least, till the ardor
of the "clarin' up" period abated.

Miss Ophelia, in a few days, thoroughly reformed every
department of the house to a systematic pattern; but her labors in
all departments that depended on the cooperation of servants were
like those of Sisyphus or the Danaides. In despair, she one day
appealed to St. Clare.

"There is no such thing as getting anything like a system
in this family!"

"To be sure, there isn't," said St. Clare.

"Such shiftless management, such waste, such confusion, I
never saw!"

"I dare say you didn't."

"You would not take it so coolly, if you were housekeeper."

"My dear cousin, you may as well understand, once for all,
that we masters are divided into two classes, oppressors and
oppressed. We who are good-natured and hate severity make up our
minds to a good deal of inconvenience. If we _will keep_ a shambling,
loose, untaught set in the community, for our convenience, why, we
must take the consequence. Some rare cases I have seen, of persons,
who, by a peculiar tact, can produce order and system without
severity; but I'm not one of them,--and so I made up my mind, long
ago, to let things go just as they do. I will not have the poor
devils thrashed and cut to pieces, and they know it,--and, of
course, they know the staff is in their own hands."

"But to have no time, no place, no order,--all going on in
this shiftless way!"

"My dear Vermont, you natives up by the North Pole set an
extravagant value on time! What on earth is the use of time to a
fellow who has twice as much of it as he knows what to do with?
As to order and system, where there is nothing to be done but to lounge
on the sofa and read, an hour sooner or later in breakfast or dinner
isn't of much account. Now, there's Dinah gets you a capital
dinner,--soup, ragout, roast fowl, dessert, ice-creams and all,--and
she creates it all out of chaos and old night down there, in that
kitchen. I think it really sublime, the way she manages. But,
Heaven bless us! if we are to go down there, and view all the
smoking and squatting about, and hurryscurryation of the preparatory
process, we should never eat more! My good cousin, absolve yourself
from that! It's more than a Catholic penance, and does no more good.
You'll only lose your own temper, and utterly confound Dinah.
Let her go her own way."

But, Augustine, you don't know how I found things."

"Don't I? Don't I know that the rolling-pin is under her bed,
and the nutmeg-grater in her pocket with her tobacco,--that
there are sixty-five different sugar-bowls, one in every hole in
the house,--that she washes dishes with a dinner-napkin one day,
and with a fragment of an old petticoat the next? But the upshot
is, she gets up glorious dinners, makes superb coffee; and you must
judge her as warriors and statesmen are judged, _by her success_."

"But the waste,--the expense!"

"O, well! Lock everything you can, and keep the key. Give out
by driblets, and never inquire for odds and ends,--it isn't best."

"That troubles me, Augustine. I can't help feeling as if
these servants were not _strictly honest_. Are you sure they can
be relied on?"

Augustine laughed immoderately at the grave and anxious
face with which Miss Ophelia propounded the question.

"O, cousin, that's too good,--_honest!_--as if that's a
thing to be expected! Honest!--why, of course, they arn't.
Why should they be? What upon earth is to make them so?"

"Why don't you instruct?"

"Instruct! O, fiddlestick! What instructing do you think
I should do? I look like it! As to Marie, she has spirit
enough, to be sure, to kill off a whole plantation, if I'd let her
manage; but she wouldn't get the cheatery out of them."

"Are there no honest ones?"

"Well, now and then one, whom Nature makes so impracticably
simple, truthful and faithful, that the worst possible influence
can't destroy it. But, you see, from the mother's breast the
colored child feels and sees that there are none but underhand ways
open to it. It can get along no other way with its parents, its
mistress, its young master and missie play-fellows. Cunning and
deception become necessary, inevitable habits. It isn't fair to
expect anything else of him. He ought not to be punished for it.
As to honesty, the slave is kept in that dependent, semi-childish
state, that there is no making him realize the rights of property,
or feel that his master's goods are not his own, if he can get them.
For my part, I don't see how they _can_ be honest. Such a fellow
as Tom, here, is,--is a moral miracle!"

"And what becomes of their souls?" said Miss Ophelia.

"That isn't my affair, as I know of," said St. Clare; "I am
only dealing in facts of the present life. The fact is, that
the whole race are pretty generally understood to be turned over
to the devil, for our benefit, in this world, however it may turn
out in another!"

"This is perfectly horrible!" said Miss Ophelia; you ought
to be ashamed of yourselves!"

"I don't know as I am. We are in pretty good company, for all
that," said St. Clare, "as people in the broad road generally are.
Look at the high and the low, all the world over, and it's
the same story,--the lower class used up, body, soul and spirit,
for the good of the upper. It is so in England; it is so everywhere;
and yet all Christendom stands aghast, with virtuous indignation,
because we do the thing in a little different shape from what they
do it."

"It isn't so in Vermont."

"Ah, well, in New England, and in the free States, you have
the better of us, I grant. But there's the bell; so, Cousin, let
us for a while lay aside our sectional prejudices, and come out to
dinner."

As Miss Ophelia was in the kitchen in the latter part of
the afternoon, some of the sable children called out, "La, sakes!
thar's Prue a coming, grunting along like she allers does."

A tall, bony colored woman now entered the kitchen, bearing
on her head a basket of rusks and hot rolls.

"Ho, Prue! you've come," said Dinah.

Prue had a peculiar scowling expression of countenance,
and a sullen, grumbling voice. She set down her basket, squatted
herself down, and resting her elbows on her knees said,

"O Lord! I wish't I 's dead!"

"Why do you wish you were dead?" said Miss Ophelia.

"I'd be out o' my misery," said the woman, gruffly, without
taking her eyes from the floor.

"What need you getting drunk, then, and cutting up, Prue?"
said a spruce quadroon chambermaid, dangling, as she spoke, a pair
of coral ear-drops.

The woman looked at her with a sour surly glance.

"Maybe you'll come to it, one of these yer days. I'd be
glad to see you, I would; then you'll be glad of a drop, like me,
to forget your misery."

"Come, Prue," said Dinah, "let's look at your rusks. Here's
Missis will pay for them."

Miss Ophelia took out a couple of dozen.

"Thar's some tickets in that ar old cracked jug on the top
shelf," said Dinah. "You, Jake, climb up and get it down."

"Tickets,--what are they for?" said Miss Ophelia.

"We buy tickets of her Mas'r, and she gives us bread for 'em."

"And they counts my money and tickets, when I gets home, to see
if I 's got the change; and if I han't, they half kills me."

"And serves you right," said Jane, the pert chambermaid,
"if you will take their money to get drunk on. That's what she
does, Missis."

"And that's what I _will_ do,--I can't live no other
ways,--drink and forget my misery."

"You are very wicked and very foolish," said Miss Ophelia,
"to steal your master's money to make yourself a brute with."

"It's mighty likely, Missis; but I will do it,--yes, I will.
O Lord! I wish I 's dead, I do,--I wish I 's dead, and out
of my misery!" and slowly and stiffly the old creature rose, and
got her basket on her head again; but before she went out, she
looked at the quadroon girt, who still stood playing with her
ear-drops.

"Ye think ye're mighty fine with them ar, a frolickin' and
a tossin' your head, and a lookin' down on everybody. Well, never
mind,--you may live to be a poor, old, cut-up crittur, like me.
Hope to the Lord ye will, I do; then see if ye won't
drink,--drink,--drink,--yerself into torment; and sarve ye right,
too--ugh!" and, with a malignant howl, the woman left the room.

"Disgusting old beast!" said Adolph, who was getting his
master's shaving-water. "If I was her master, I'd cut her up worse
than she is."

"Ye couldn't do that ar, no ways," said Dinah. "Her back's
a far sight now,--she can't never get a dress together over it."

"I think such low creatures ought not to be allowed to go
round to genteel families," said Miss Jane. "What do you think,
Mr. St. Clare?" she said, coquettishly tossing her head at Adolph.

It must be observed that, among other appropriations from
his master's stock, Adolph was in the habit of adopting his name
and address; and that the style under which he moved, among the
colored circles of New Orleans, was that of _Mr. St. Clare_.

"I'm certainly of your opinion, Miss Benoir," said Adolph.

Benoir was the name of Marie St. Clare's family, and Jane
was one of her servants.

"Pray, Miss Benoir, may I be allowed to ask if those drops
are for the ball, tomorrow night? They are certainly bewitching!"

"I wonder, now, Mr. St. Clare, what the impudence of you
men will come to!" said Jane, tossing her pretty head til the
ear-drops twinkled again. "I shan't dance with you for a whole
evening, if you go to asking me any more questions."

"O, you couldn't be so cruel, now! I was just dying to know
whether you would appear in your pink tarletane," said Adolph.

"What is it?" said Rosa, a bright, piquant little quadroon
who came skipping down stairs at this moment.

"Why, Mr. St. Clare's so impudent!"

"On my honor," said Adolph, "I'll leave it to Miss Rosa now."

"I know he's always a saucy creature," said Rosa, poising
herself on one of her little feet, and looking maliciously at
Adolph. "He's always getting me so angry with him."

"O! ladies, ladies, you will certainly break my heart,
between you," said Adolph. "I shall be found dead in my bed, some
morning, and you'll have it to answer for."

"Do hear the horrid creature talk!" said both ladies,
laughing immoderately.

"Come,--clar out, you! I can't have you cluttering up the
kitchen," said Dinah; "in my way, foolin' round here."

"Aunt Dinah's glum, because she can't go to the ball," said Rosa.

"Don't want none o' your light-colored balls," said Dinah;
"cuttin' round, makin' b'lieve you's white folks. Arter all, you's
niggers, much as I am."

"Aunt Dinah greases her wool stiff, every day, to make it
lie straight," said Jane.

"And it will be wool, after all," said Rosa, maliciously
shaking down her long, silky curls.

"Well, in the Lord's sight, an't wool as good as bar, any
time?" said Dinah. "I'd like to have Missis say which is worth
the most,--a couple such as you, or one like me. Get out wid ye,
ye trumpery,--I won't have ye round!"

Here the conversation was interrupted in a two-fold manner.
St. Clare's voice was heard at the head of the stairs, asking Adolph
if he meant to stay all night with his shaving-water; and Miss
Ophelia, coming out of the dining-room, said,

"Jane and Rosa, what are you wasting your time for, here?
Go in and attend to your muslins."

Our friend Tom, who had been in the kitchen during the
conversation with the old rusk-woman, had followed her out into
the street. He saw her go on, giving every once in a while a
suppressed groan. At last she set her basket down on a doorstep,
and began arranging the old, faded shawl which covered her shoulders.

"I'll carry your basket a piece," said Tom, compassionately.

"Why should ye?" said the woman. "I don't want no help."

"You seem to be sick, or in trouble, or somethin'," said Tom.

"I an't sick," said the woman, shortly.

"I wish," said Tom, looking at her earnestly,--"I wish I
could persuade you to leave off drinking. Don't you know it will
be the ruin of ye, body and soul?"

"I knows I'm gwine to torment," said the woman, sullenly.
"Ye don't need to tell me that ar. I 's ugly, I 's wicked,--
I 's gwine straight to torment. O, Lord! I wish I 's thar!"

Tom shuddered at these frightful words, spoken with a
sullen, impassioned earnestness.

"O, Lord have mercy on ye! poor crittur. Han't ye never
heard of Jesus Christ?"

"Jesus Christ,--who's he?"

"Why, he's _the Lord_," said Tom.

"I think I've hearn tell o' the Lord, and the judgment and torment.
I've heard o' that."

"But didn't anybody ever tell you of the Lord Jesus, that
loved us poor sinners, and died for us?"

"Don't know nothin' 'bout that," said the woman; "nobody
han't never loved me, since my old man died."

"Where was you raised?" said Tom.

"Up in Kentuck. A man kept me to breed chil'en for market,
and sold 'em as fast as they got big enough; last of all, he sold
me to a speculator, and my Mas'r got me o' him."

"What set you into this bad way of drinkin'?"

"To get shet o' my misery. I had one child after I come here;
and I thought then I'd have one to raise, cause Mas'r wasn't
a speculator. It was de peartest little thing! and Missis she
seemed to think a heap on 't, at first; it never cried,--it was
likely and fat. But Missis tuck sick, and I tended her; and I tuck
the fever, and my milk all left me, and the child it pined to skin
and bone, and Missis wouldn't buy milk for it. She wouldn't hear
to me, when I telled her I hadn't milk. She said she knowed I
could feed it on what other folks eat; and the child kinder pined,
and cried, and cried, and cried, day and night, and got all gone
to skin and bones, and Missis got sot agin it and she said 't wan't
nothin' but crossness. She wished it was dead, she said; and she
wouldn't let me have it o' nights, cause, she said, it kept me
awake, and made me good for nothing. She made me sleep in her
room; and I had to put it away off in a little kind o' garret, and
thar it cried itself to death, one night. It did; and I tuck to
drinkin', to keep its crying out of my ears! I did,--and I will
drink! I will, if I do go to torment for it! Mas'r says I shall go
to torment, and I tell him I've got thar now!"

"O, ye poor crittur!" said Tom, "han't nobody never telled ye how
the Lord Jesus loved ye, and died for ye? Han't they telled ye
that he'll help ye, and ye can go to heaven, and have rest, at last?"

"I looks like gwine to heaven," said the woman; "an't thar
where white folks is gwine? S'pose they'd have me thar? I'd rather
go to torment, and get away from Mas'r and Missis. I had _so_,"
she said, as with her usual groan, she got her basket on her head,
and walked sullenly away.

Tom turned, and walked sorrowfully back to the house. In the
court he met little Eva,--a crown of tuberoses on her head,
and her eyes radiant with delight.

"O, Tom! here you are. I'm glad I've found you. Papa says
you may get out the ponies, and take me in my little new
carriage," she said, catching his hand. "But what's
the matter Tom?--you look sober."

"I feel bad, Miss Eva," said Tom, sorrowfully. "But I'll
get the horses for you."

"But do tell me, Tom, what is the matter. I saw you
talking to cross old Prue."

Tom, in simple, earnest phrase, told Eva the woman's history.
She did not exclaim or wonder, or weep, as other children do.
Her cheeks grew pale, and a deep, earnest shadow passed over
her eyes. She laid both hands on her bosom, and sighed heavily.

 

VOLUME II.
CHAPTER XIX

Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions Continued

 

"Tom, you needn't get me the horses. I don't want to go,"
she said.

"Why not, Miss Eva?"

"These things sink into my heart, Tom," said Eva,--"they
sink into my heart," she repeated, earnestly. "I don't want to
go;" and she turned from Tom, and went into the house.

A few days after, another woman came, in old Prue's place,
to bring the rusks; Miss Ophelia was in the kitchen.

"Lor!" said Dinah, "what's got Prue?"

"Prue isn't coming any more," said the woman, mysteriously.

"Why not?" said Dinah. "she an't dead, is she?"

"We doesn't exactly know. She's down cellar," said the
woman, glancing at Miss Ophelia.

After Miss Ophelia had taken the rusks, Dinah followed the
woman to the door.

"What _has_ got Prue, any how?" she said.

The woman seemed desirous, yet reluctant, to speak, and
answered, in low, mysterious tone.

"Well, you mustn't tell nobody, Prue, she got drunk agin,--and
they had her down cellar,--and thar they left her all day,--and I
hearn 'em saying that the _flies had got to her_,--and _she's dead_!"

Dinah held up her hands, and, turning, saw close by her side
the spirit-like form of Evangeline, her large, mystic eyes
dilated with horror, and every drop of blood driven from her lips
and cheeks.

"Lor bless us! Miss Eva's gwine to faint away! What go us
all, to let her har such talk? Her pa'll be rail mad."

"I shan't faint, Dinah," said the child, firmly; "and why shouldn't
I hear it? It an't so much for me to hear it, as for poor Prue
to suffer it."

"_Lor sakes_! it isn't for sweet, delicate young ladies,
like you,--these yer stories isn't; it's enough to kill 'em!"

Eva sighed again, and walked up stairs with a slow and
melancholy step.

Miss Ophelia anxiously inquired the woman's story. Dinah gave
a very garrulous version of it, to which Tom added the
particulars which he had drawn from her that morning.

"An abominable business,--perfectly horrible!" she exclaimed,
as she entered the room where St. Clare lay reading his paper.

"Pray, what iniquity has turned up now?" said he.

"What now? why, those folks have whipped Prue to death!"
said Miss Ophelia, going on, with great strength of detail, into
the story, and enlarging on its most shocking particulars.

"I thought it would come to that, some time," said St.
Clare, going on with his paper.

"Thought so!--an't you going to _do_ anything about it?"
said Miss Ophelia. "Haven't you got any _selectmen_, or anybody,
to interfere and look after such matters?"

"It's commonly supposed that the _property_ interest is a
sufficient guard in these cases. If people choose to ruin their
own possessions, I don't know what's to be done. It seems the poor
creature was a thief and a drunkard; and so there won't be much
hope to get up sympathy for her."

"It is perfectly outrageous,--it is horrid, Augustine!
It will certainly bring down vengeance upon you."

"My dear cousin, I didn't do it, and I can't help it; I would,
if I could. If low-minded, brutal people will act like
themselves, what am I to do? they have absolute control; they are
irresponsible despots. There would be no use in interfering; there
is no law that amounts to anything practically, for such a case.
The best we can do is to shut our eyes and ears, and let it alone.
It's the only resource left us."

"How can you shut your eyes and ears? How can you let
such things alone?"

"My dear child, what do you expect? Here is a whole
class,--debased, uneducated, indolent, provoking,--put, without
any sort of terms or conditions, entirely into the hands of such
people as the majority in our world are; people who have neither
consideration nor self-control, who haven't even an enlightened
regard to their own interest,--for that's the case with the largest
half of mankind. Of course, in a community so organized, what can
a man of honorable and humane feelings do, but shut his eyes all
he can, and harden his heart? I can't buy every poor wretch I see.
I can't turn knight-errant, and undertake to redress every individual
case of wrong in such a city as this. The most I can do is to try
and keep out of the way of it."

St. Clare's fine countenance was for a moment overcast; he said,

"Come, cousin, don't stand there looking like one of the Fates;
you've only seen a peep through the curtain,--a specimen of
what is going on, the world over, in some shape or other. If we
are to be prying and spying into all the dismals of life, we should
have no heart to anything. 'T is like looking too close into the
details of Dinah's kitchen;" and St. Clare lay back on the sofa,
and busied himself with his paper.

Miss Ophelia sat down, and pulled out her knitting-work,
and sat there grim with indignation. She knit and knit,
but while she mused the fire burned; at last she broke
out--"I tell you, Augustine, I can't get over things so,
if you can. It's a perfect abomination for you to defend
such a system,--that's _my_ mind!"

"What now?" said St. Clare, looking up. "At it again, hey?"

"I say it's perfectly abominable for you to defend such a
system!" said Miss Ophelia, with increasing warmth.

"_I_ defend it, my dear lady? Who ever said I did defend it?"
said St. Clare.

"Of course, you defend it,--you all do,--all you Southerners.
What do you have slaves for, if you don't?"

"Are you such a sweet innocent as to suppose nobody in this
world ever does what they don't think is right? Don't you, or
didn't you ever, do anything that you did not think quite right?"

"If I do, I repent of it, I hope," said Miss Ophelia,
rattling her needles with energy.

"So do I," said St. Clare, peeling his orange; "I'm repenting
of it all the time."

"What do you keep on doing it for?"

"Didn't you ever keep on doing wrong, after you'd repented,
my good cousin?"

"Well, only when I've been very much tempted," said Miss Ophelia.

"Well, I'm very much tempted," said St. Clare; "that's just
my difficulty."

"But I always resolve I won't and I try to break off."

"Well, I have been resolving I won't, off and on, these
ten years," said St. Clare; "but I haven't, some how, got clear.
Have you got clear of all your sins, cousin?"

"Cousin Augustine," said Miss Ophelia, seriously, and laying
down her knitting-work, "I suppose I deserve that you should
reprove my short-comings. I know all you say is true enough;
nobody else feels them more than I do; but it does seem to me,
after all, there is some difference between me and you. It seems
to me I would cut off my right hand sooner than keep on, from day
to day, doing what I thought was wrong. But, then, my conduct is
so inconsistent with my profession, I don't wonder you reprove me."

"O, now, cousin," said Augustine, sitting down on the floor,
and laying his head back in her lap, "don't take on so awfully
serious! You know what a good-for-nothing, saucy boy I always was.
I love to poke you up,--that's all,--just to see you get earnest.
I do think you are desperately, distressingly good; it tires me to
death to think of it."

"But this is a serious subject, my boy, Auguste," said Miss
Ophelia, laying her hand on his forehead.

"Dismally so," said he; "and I--well, I never want to talk
seriously in hot weather. What with mosquitos and all, a fellow
can't get himself up to any very sublime moral flights; and I
believe," said St. Clare, suddenly rousing himself up, "there's a
theory, now! I understand now why northern nations are always more
virtuous than southern ones,--I see into that whole subject."

"O, Augustine, you are a sad rattle-brain!"

"Am I? Well, so I am, I suppose; but for once I will be
serious, now; but you must hand me that basket of oranges;--you
see, you'll have to `stay me with flagons and comfort me with
apples,' if I'm going to make this effort. Now," said Augustine,
drawing the basket up, "I'll begin: When, in the course of human
events, it becomes necessary for a fellow to hold two or three
dozen of his fellow-worms in captivity, a decent regard to the
opinions of society requires--"

"I don't see that you are growing more serious," said Miss Ophelia.

"Wait,--I'm coming on,--you'll hear. The short of the matter
is, cousin," said he, his handsome face suddenly settling into
an earnest and serious expression, "on this abstract question
of slavery there can, as I think, be but one opinion. Planters,
who have money to make by it,--clergymen, who have planters to
please,--politicians, who want to rule by it,--may warp and bend
language and ethics to a degree that shall astonish the world at
their ingenuity; they can press nature and the Bible, and nobody
knows what else, into the service; but, after all, neither they
nor the world believe in it one particle the more. It comes from
the devil, that's the short of it;--and, to my mind, it's a pretty
respectable specimen of what he can do in his own line."

Miss Ophelia stopped her knitting, and looked surprised,
and St. Clare, apparently enjoying her astonishment, went on.

"You seem to wonder; but if you will get me fairly at it,
I'll make a clean breast of it. This cursed business, accursed of
God and man, what is it? Strip it of all its ornament, run it down
to the root and nucleus of the whole, and what is it? Why, because
my brother Quashy is ignorant and weak, and I am intelligent and
strong,--because I know how, and _can_ do it,--therefore, I may
steal all he has, keep it, and give him only such and so much as
suits my fancy. Whatever is too hard, too dirty, too disagreeable,
for me, I may set Quashy to doing. Because I don't like work,
Quashy shall work. Because the sun burns me, Quashy shall stay in
the sun. Quashy shall earn the money, and I will spend it. Quashy
shall lie down in every puddle, that I may walk over dry-shod.
Quashy shall do my will, and not his, all the days of his mortal
life, and have such chance of getting to heaven, at last, as I find
convenient. This I take to be about what slavery _is_. I defy
anybody on earth to read our slave-code, as it stands in our
law-books, and make anything else of it. Talk of the _abuses_
of slavery! Humbug! The _thing itself_ is the essence of all abuse!
And the only reason why the land don't sink under it, like Sodom
and Gomorrah, is because it is _used_ in a way infinitely better
than it is. For pity's sake, for shame's sake, because we are men
born of women, and not savage beasts, many of us do not, and dare
not,--we would _scorn_ to use the full power which our savage laws
put into our hands. And he who goes the furthest, and does the
worst, only uses within limits the power that the law gives him."

St. Clare had started up, and, as his manner was when excited,
was walking, with hurried steps, up and down the floor. His fine
face, classic as that of a Greek statue, seemed actually to burn
with the fervor of his feelings. His large blue eyes flashed,
and he gestured with an unconscious eagerness. Miss Ophelia had
never seen him in this mood before, and she sat perfectly silent.

"I declare to you," said he, suddenly stopping before his
cousin "(It's no sort of use to talk or to feel on this subject),
but I declare to you, there have been times when I have thought,
if the whole country would sink, and hide all this injustice and
misery from the light, I would willingly sink with it. When I have
been travelling up and down on our boats, or about on my collecting
tours, and reflected that every brutal, disgusting, mean, low-lived
fellow I met, was allowed by our laws to become absolute despot of
as many men, women and children, as he could cheat, steal, or gamble
money enough to buy,--when I have seen such men in actual ownership
of helpless children, of young girls and women,--I have been ready
to curse my country, to curse the human race!"

"Augustine! Augustine!" said Miss Ophelia, "I'm sure you've
said enough. I never, in my life, heard anything like this, even
at the North."

"At the North!" said St. Clare, with a sudden change of
expression, and resuming something of his habitual careless tone.
"Pooh! your northern folks are cold-blooded; you are cool
in everything! You can't begin to curse up hill and down as
we can, when we get fairly at it."

"Well, but the question is," said Miss Ophelia.

"O, yes, to be sure, the _question is_,--and a deuce of a
question it is! How came _you_ in this state of sin and misery?
Well, I shall answer in the good old words you used to teach me,
Sundays. I came so by ordinary generation. My servants were my
father's, and, what is more, my mother's; and now they are mine,
they and their increase, which bids fair to be a pretty considerable
item. My father, you know, came first from New England; and he
was just such another man as your father,--a regular old Roman,--upright,
energetic, noble-minded, with an iron will. Your father settled
down in New England, to rule over rocks and stones, and to force
an existence out of Nature; and mine settled in Louisiana, to rule
over men and women, and force existence out of them. My mother,"
said St. Clare, getting up and walking to a picture at the end of
the room, and gazing upward with a face fervent with veneration,
"_she was divine!_ Don't look at me so!--you know what I mean!
She probably was of mortal birth; but, as far as ever I could
observe, there was no trace of any human weakness or error about
her; and everybody that lives to remember her, whether bond or
free, servant, acquaintance, relation, all say the same. Why,
cousin, that mother has been all that has stood between me and
utter unbelief for years. She was a direct embodiment and
personification of the New Testament,--a living fact, to be accounted
for, and to be accounted for in no other way than by its truth. O,
mother! mother!" said St. Clare, clasping his hands, in a sort of
transport; and then suddenly checking himself, he came back, and
seating himself on an ottoman, he went on:

"My brother and I were twins; and they say, you know, that twins
ought to resemble each other; but we were in all points a contrast.
He had black, fiery eyes, coal-black hair, a strong, fine Roman
profile, and a rich brown complexion. I had blue eyes, golden
hair, a Greek outline, and fair complexion. He was active and
observing, I dreamy and inactive. He was generous to his friends
and equals, but proud, dominant, overbearing, to inferiors, and
utterly unmerciful to whatever set itself up against him.
Truthful we both were; he from pride and courage, I from a
sort of abstract ideality. We loved each other about as boys
generally do,--off and on, and in general;--he was my father's pet,
and I my mother's.

"There was a morbid sensitiveness and acuteness of feeling
in me on all possible subjects, of which he and my father had no
kind of understanding, and with which they could have no possible
sympathy. But mother did; and so, when I had quarreled with Alfred,
and father looked sternly on me, I used to go off to mother's room,
and sit by her. I remember just how she used to look, with her
pale cheeks, her deep, soft, serious eyes, her white dress,--she
always wore white; and I used to think of her whenever I read in
Revelations about the saints that were arrayed in fine linen, clean
and white. She had a great deal of genius of one sort and another,
particularly in music; and she used to sit at her organ, playing
fine old majestic music of the Catholic church, and singing with
a voice more like an angel than a mortal woman; and I would lay my
head down on her lap, and cry, and dream, and feel,--oh,
immeasurably!--things that I had no language to say!

"In those days, this matter of slavery had never been
canvassed as it has now; nobody dreamed of any harm in it.

"My father was a born aristocrat. I think, in some
preexistent state, he must have been in the higher circles of
spirits, and brought all his old court pride along with him; for
it was ingrain, bred in the bone, though he was originally of
poor and not in any way of noble family. My brother was begotten
in his image.

"Now, an aristocrat, you know, the world over, has no human
sympathies, beyond a certain line in society. In England the line
is in one place, in Burmah in another, and in America in another;
but the aristocrat of all these countries never goes over it. What
would be hardship and distress and injustice in his own class, is
a cool matter of course in another one. My father's dividing line
was that of color. _Among his equals_, never was a man more just
and generous; but he considered the negro, through all possible
gradations of color, as an intermediate link between man and animals,
and graded all his ideas of justice or generosity on this hypothesis.
I suppose, to be sure, if anybody had asked him, plump and fair,
whether they had human immortal souls, he might have hemmed and
hawed, and said yes. But my father was not a man much troubled
with spiritualism; religious sentiment he had none, beyond a
veneration for God, as decidedly the head of the upper classes.

"Well, my father worked some five hundred negroes; he was
an inflexible, driving, punctilious business man; everything was
to move by system,--to be sustained with unfailing accuracy and
precision. Now, if you take into account that all this was to be
worked out by a set of lazy, twaddling, shiftless laborers, who
had grown up, all their lives, in the absence of every possible
motive to learn how to do anything but `shirk,' as you Vermonters
say, and you'll see that there might naturally be, on his plantation,
a great many things that looked horrible and distressing to a
sensitive child, like me.

"Besides all, he had an overseer,--great, tall, slab-sided,
two-fisted renegade son of Vermont--(begging your pardon),--who
had gone through a regular apprenticeship in hardness and brutality
and taken his degree to be admitted to practice. My mother never
could endure him, nor I; but he obtained an entire ascendency over
my father; and this man was the absolute despot of the estate.

"I was a little fellow then, but I had the same love that
I have now for all kinds of human things,--a kind of passion for
the study of humanity, come in what shape it would. I was found
in the cabins and among the field-hands a great deal, and, of
course, was a great favorite; and all sorts of complaints and
grievances were breathed in my ear; and I told them to mother, and
we, between us, formed a sort of committee for a redress of
grievances. We hindered and repressed a great deal of cruelty,
and congratulated ourselves on doing a vast deal of good, till, as
often happens, my zeal overacted. Stubbs complained to my father
that he couldn't manage the hands, and must resign his position.
Father was a fond, indulgent husband, but a man that never flinched
from anything that he thought necessary; and so he put down his
foot, like a rock, between us and the field-hands. He told my
mother, in language perfectly respectful and deferential, but quite
explicit, that over the house-servants she should be entire mistress,
but that with the field-hands he could allow no interference. He
revered and respected her above all living beings; but he would
have said it all the same to the virgin Mary herself, if she had
come in the way of his system.

"I used sometimes to hear my mother reasoning cases with
him,--endeavoring to excite his sympathies. He would listen to
the most pathetic appeals with the most discouraging politeness
and equanimity. `It all resolves itself into this,' he would say;
`must I part with Stubbs, or keep him? Stubbs is the soul of
punctuality, honesty, and efficiency,--a thorough business hand,
and as humane as the general run. We can't have perfection; and
if I keep him, I must sustain his administration as a _whole_, even
if there are, now and then, things that are exceptionable. All
government includes some necessary hardness. General rules will
bear hard on particular cases.' This last maxim my father seemed
to consider a settler in most alleged cases of cruelty. After he
had said _that_, he commonly drew up his feet on the sofa, like a
man that has disposed of a business, and betook himself to a nap,
or the newspaper, as the case might be.

"The fact is my father showed the exact sort of talent for
a statesman. He could have divided Poland as easily as an orange,
or trod on Ireland as quietly and systematically as any man living.
At last my mother gave up, in despair. It never will be known,
till the last account, what noble and sensitive natures like hers
have felt, cast, utterly helpless, into what seems to them an abyss
of injustice and cruelty, and which seems so to nobody about them.
It has been an age of long sorrow of such natures, in such a
hell-begotten sort of world as ours. What remained for her, but
to train her children in her own views and sentiments? Well, after
all you say about training, children will grow up substantially
what they _are_ by nature, and only that. From the cradle, Alfred
was an aristocrat; and as he grew up, instinctively, all his
sympathies and all his reasonings were in that line, and all mother's
exhortations went to the winds. As to me, they sunk deep into me.
She never contradicted, in form, anything my father said, or seemed
directly to differ from him; but she impressed, burnt into my very
soul, with all the force of her deep, earnest nature, an idea of
the dignity and worth of the meanest human soul. I have looked in
her face with solemn awe, when she would point up to the stars in
the evening, and say to me, `See there, Auguste! the poorest,
meanest soul on our place will be living, when all these stars are
gone forever,--will live as long as God lives!'

"She had some fine old paintings; one, in particular, of Jesus
healing a blind man. They were very fine, and used to impress
me strongly. `See there, Auguste,' she would say; `the blind man
was a beggar, poor and loathsome; therefore, he would not heal him
_afar off!_ He called him to him, and put _his hands on him!_
Remember this, my boy.' If I had lived to grow up under her care,
she might have stimulated me to I know not what of enthusiasm.
I might have been a saint, reformer, martyr,--but, alas! alas!
I went from her when I was only thirteen, and I never saw her again!"

St. Clare rested his head on his hands, and did not speak
for some minutes. After a while, he looked up, and went on:

"What poor, mean trash this whole business of human virtue is!
A mere matter, for the most part, of latitude and longitude,
and geographical position, acting with natural temperament. The
greater part is nothing but an accident! Your father, for example,
settles in Vermont, in a town where all are, in fact, free and
equal; becomes a regular church member and deacon, and in due time
joins an Abolition society, and thinks us all little better than
heathens. Yet he is, for all the world, in constitution and habit,
a duplicate of my father. I can see it leaking out in fifty
different ways,--just the same strong, overbearing, dominant spirit.
You know very well how impossible it is to persuade some of the
folks in your village that Squire Sinclair does not feel above
them. The fact is, though he has fallen on democratic times, and
embraced a democratic theory, he is to the heart an aristocrat, as
much as my father, who ruled over five or six hundred slaves."

Miss Ophelia felt rather disposed to cavil at this picture, and
was laying down her knitting to begin, but St. Clare stopped her.

"Now, I know every word you are going to say. I do not say
they _were_ alike, in fact. One fell into a condition where
everything acted against the natural tendency, and the other where
everything acted for it; and so one turned out a pretty wilful,
stout, overbearing old democrat, and the other a wilful, stout
old despot. If both had owned plantations in Louisiana, they
would have been as like as two old bullets cast in the same mould."

"What an undutiful boy you are!" said Miss Ophelia.

"I don't mean them any disrespect," said St. Clare. "You know
reverence is not my forte. But, to go back to my history:

"When father died, he left the whole property to us twin boys,
to be divided as we should agree. There does not breathe on
God's earth a nobler-souled, more generous fellow, than Alfred, in
all that concerns his equals; and we got on admirably with this
property question, without a single unbrotherly word or feeling.
We undertook to work the plantation together; and Alfred, whose
outward life and capabilities had double the strength of mine,
became an enthusiastic planter, and a wonderfully successful one.

"But two years' trial satisfied me that I could not be a
partner in that matter. To have a great gang of seven hundred,
whom I could not know personally, or feel any individual interest
in, bought and driven, housed, fed, worked like so many horned
cattle, strained up to military precision,--the question of how
little of life's commonest enjoyments would keep them in working
order being a constantly recurring problem,--the necessity of
drivers and overseers,--the ever-necessary whip, first, last, and
only argument,--the whole thing was insufferably disgusting and
loathsome to me; and when I thought of my mothcr's estimate of one
poor human soul, it became even frightful!

"It's all nonsense to talk to me about slaves _enjoying_
all this! To this day, I have no patience with the unutterable
trash that some of your patronizing Northerners have made up, as
in their zeal to apologize for our sins. We all know better. Tell
me that any man living wants to work all his days, from day-dawn
till dark, under the constant eye of a master, without the power
of putting forth one irresponsible volition, on the same dreary,
monotonous, unchanging toil, and all for two pairs of pantaloons
and a pair of shoes a year, with enough food and shelter to keep
him in working order! Any man who thinks that human beings can, as
a general thing, be made about as comfortable that way as any other,
I wish he might try it. I'd buy the dog, and work him, with a
clear conscience!"

"I always have supposed," said Miss Ophelia, "that you, all of you,
approved of these things, and thought them _right_--according
to Scripture."

"Humbug! We are not quite reduced to that yet. Alfred who
is as determined a despot as ever walked, does not pretend to this
kind of defence;--no, he stands, high and haughty, on that good
old respectable ground, _the right of the strongest_; and he says,
and I think quite sensibly, that the American planter is `only
doing, in another form, what the English aristocracy and capitalists
are doing by the lower classes;' that is, I take it, _appropriating_
them, body and bone, soul and spirit, to their use and convenience.
He defends both,--and I think, at least, _consistently_. He says
that there can be no high civilization without enslavement of the
masses, either nominal or real. There must, he says, be a lower
class, given up to physical toil and confined to an animal nature;
and a higher one thereby acquires leisure and wealth for a more
expanded intelligence and improvement, and becomes the directing
soul of the lower. So he reasons, because, as I said, he is born
an aristocrat;--so I don't believe, because I was born a democrat."

"How in the world can the two things be compared?" said
Miss Ophelia. "The English laborer is not sold, traded, parted
from his family, whipped."

"He is as much at the will of his employer as if he were
sold to him. The slave-owner can whip his refractory slave to
death,--the capitalist can starve him to death. As to family
security, it is hard to say which is the worst,--to have one's
children sold, or see them starve to death at home."

"But it's no kind of apology for slavery, to prove that it
isn't worse than some other bad thing."

"I didn't give it for one,--nay, I'll say, besides, that
ours is the more bold and palpable infringement of human rights;
actually buying a man up, like a horse,--looking at his teeth,
cracking his joints, and trying his paces and then paying down for
him,--having speculators, breeders, traders, and brokers in human
bodies and souls,--sets the thing before the eyes of the civilized
world in a more tangible form, though the thing done be, after all,
in its nature, the same; that is, appropriating one set of human
beings to the use and improvement of another without any regard to
their own."

"I never thought of the matter in this light," said Miss Ophelia.

"Well, I've travelled in England some, and I've looked over
a good many documents as to the state of their lower classes; and
I really think there is no denying Alfred, when he says that his
slaves are better off than a large class of the population of
England. You see, you must not infer, from what I have told you,
that Alfred is what is called a hard master; for he isn't. He is
despotic, and unmerciful to insubordination; he would shoot a fellow
down with as little remorse as he would shoot a buck, if he opposed
him. But, in general, he takes a sort of pride in having his slaves
comfortably fed and accommodated.

"When I was with him, I insisted that he should do something
for their instruction; and, to please me, he did get a chaplain,
and used to have them catechized Sunday, though, I believe, in his
heart, that he thought it would do about as much good to set a
chaplain over his dogs and horses. And the fact is, that a mind
stupefied and animalized by every bad influence from the hour of
birth, spending the whole of every week-day in unreflecting toil,
cannot be done much with by a few hours on Sunday. The teachers
of Sunday-schools among the manufacturing population of England,
and among plantation-hands in our country, could perhaps testify
to the same result, _there and here_. Yet some striking exceptions
there are among us, from the fact that the negro is naturally more
impressible to religious sentiment than the white."

"Well," said Miss Ophelia, "how came you to give up your
plantation life?"

"Well, we jogged on together some time, till Alfred saw
plainly that I was no planter. He thought it absurd, after he had
reformed, and altered, and improved everywhere, to suit my notions,
that I still remained unsatisfied. The fact was, it was, after
all, the THING that I hated--the using these men and women, the
perpetuation of all this ignorance, brutality and vice,--just to
make money for me!

"Besides, I was always interfering in the details. Being
myself one of the laziest of mortals, I had altogether too much
fellow-feeling for the lazy; and when poor, shiftless dogs put
stones at the bottom of their cotton-baskets to make them weigh
heavier, or filled their sacks with dirt, with cotton at the top,
it seemed so exactly like what I should do if I were they, I couldn't
and wouldn't have them flogged for it. Well, of course, there was
an end of plantation discipline; and Alf and I came to about the
same point that I and my respected father did, years before. So
he told me that I was a womanish sentimentalist, and would never
do for business life; and advised me to take the bank-stock and
the New Orleans family mansion, and go to writing poetry, and let
him manage the plantation. So we parted, and I came here."

"But why didn't you free your slaves?"

"Well, I wasn't up to that. To hold them as tools for money-making,
I could not;--have them to help spend money, you know, didn't
look quite so ugly to me. Some of them were old house-servants,
to whom I was much attached; and the younger ones were children
to the old. All were well satisfied to be as they were." He paused,
and walked reflectively up and down the room.

"There was," said St. Clare, "a time in my life when I had
plans and hopes of doing something in this world, more than to
float and drift. I had vague, indistinct yearnings to be a sort
of emancipator,--to free my native land from this spot and stain.
All young men have had such fever-fits, I suppose, some time,--
but then--"

"Why didn't you?" said Miss Ophelia;--"you ought not to
put your hand to the plough, and look back."

"O, well, things didn't go with me as I expected, and I got
the despair of living that Solomon did. I suppose it was a
necessary incident to wisdom in us both; but, some how or other,
instead of being actor and regenerator in society, I became a piece
of driftwood, and have been floating and eddying about, ever since.
Alfred scolds me, every time we meet; and he has the better of me,
I grant,--for he really does something; his life is a logical result
of his opinions and mine is a contemptible _non sequitur_."

"My dear cousin, can you be satisfied with such a way of
spending your probation?"

"Satisfied! Was I not just telling you I despised it? But, then,
to come back to this point,--we were on this liberation business.
I don't think my feelings about slavery are peculiar. I find
many men who, in their hearts, think of it just as I do. The land
groans under it; and, bad as it is for the slave, it is worse,
if anything, for the master. It takes no spectacles to see
that a great class of vicious, improvident, degraded people, among
us, are an evil to us, as well as to themselves. The capitalist
and aristocrat of England cannot feel that as we do, because they
do not mingle with the class they degrade as we do. They are in
our homes; they are the associates of our children, and they form
their minds faster than we can; for they are a race that children
always will cling to and assimilate with. If Eva, now, was not
more angel than ordinary, she would be ruined. We might as well
allow the small-pox to run among them, and think our children
would not take it, as to let them be uninstructed and vicious,
and think our children will not be affected by that. Yet our
laws positively and utterly forbid any efficient general
educational system, and they do it wisely, too; for, just begin
and thoroughly educate one generation, and the whole thing would
be blown sky high. If we did not give them liberty, they would
take it."

"And what do you think will be the end of this?" said Miss Ophelia.

"I don't know. One thing is certain,--that there is a
mustering among the masses, the world over; and there is a _dies
irae_ coming on, sooner or later. The same thing is working in
Europe, in England, and in this country. My mother used to tell
me of a millennium that was coming, when Christ should reign, and
all men should be free and happy. And she taught me, when I was
a boy, to pray, `thy kingdom come.' Sometimes I think all this
sighing, and groaning, and stirring among the dry bones foretells
what she used to tell me was coming. But who may abide the day of
His appearing?"

"Augustine, sometimes I think you are not far from the kingdom,"
said Miss Ophelia, laying down her knitting, and looking
anxiously at her cousin.

"Thank you for your good opinion, but it's up and down with
me,--up to heaven's gate in theory, down in earth's dust in practice.
But there's the teabell,--do let's go,--and don't say, now, I
haven't had one downright serious talk, for once in my life."

At table, Marie alluded to the incident of Prue. "I suppose
you'll think, cousin," she said, "that we are all barbarians."

"I think that's a barbarous thing," said Miss Ophelia, "but
I don't think you are all barbarians."

"Well, now," said Marie, "I know it's impossible to get
along with some of these creatures. They are so bad they ought
not to live. I don't feel a particle of sympathy for such cases.
If they'd only behave themselves, it would not happen."

"But, mamma," said Eva, "the poor creature was unhappy;
that's what made her drink."

"O, fiddlestick! as if that were any excuse! I'm unhappy,
very often. I presume," she said, pensively, "that I've had
greater trials than ever she had. It's just because they are
so bad. There's some of them that you cannot break in by any
kind of severity. I remember father had a man that was so
lazy he would run away just to get rid of work, and lie round
in the swamps, stealing and doing all sorts of horrid things.
That man was caught and whipped, time and again, and it never did
him any good; and the last time he crawled off, though he couldn't
but just go, and died in the swamp. There was no sort of reason
for it, for father's hands were always treated kindly."

"I broke a fellow in, once," said St. Clare, "that all the
overseers and masters had tried their hands on in vain."

"You!" said Marie; "well, I'd be glad to know when _you_
ever did anything of the sort."

"Well, he was a powerful, gigantic fellow,--a native-born
African; and he appeared to have the rude instinct of freedom in
him to an uncommon degree. He was a regular African lion. They
called him Scipio. Nobody could do anything with him; and he was
sold round from overseer to overseer, till at last Alfred bought
him, because he thought he could manage him. Well, one day he
knocked down the overseer, and was fairly off into the swamps.
I was on a visit to Alf's plantation, for it was after we had
dissolved partnership. Alfred was greatly exasperated; but
I told him that it was his own fault, and laid him any wager that
I could break the man; and finally it was agreed that, if I caught
him, I should have him to experiment on. So they mustered out a
party of some six or seven, with guns and dogs, for the hunt.
People, you know, can get up as much enthusiasm in hunting a man
as a deer, if it is only customary; in fact, I got a little excited
myself, though I had only put in as a sort of mediator, in case he
was caught.

"Well, the dogs bayed and howled, and we rode and scampered,
and finally we started him. He ran and bounded like a buck, and
kept us well in the rear for some time; but at last he got caught
in an impenetrable thicket of cane; then he turned to bay, and I
tell you he fought the dogs right gallantly. He dashed them to
right and left, and actually killed three of them with only his
naked fists, when a shot from a gun brought him down, and he fell,
wounded and bleeding, almost at my feet. The poor fellow looked
up at me with manhood and despair both in his eye. I kept back
the dogs and the party, as they came pressing up, and claimed him
as my prisoner. It was all I could do to keep them from shooting
him, in the flush of success; but I persisted in my bargain, and
Alfred sold him to me. Well, I took him in hand, and in one
fortnight I had him tamed down as submissive and tractable as heart
could desire."

"What in the world did you do to him?" said Marie.

"Well, it was quite a simple process. I took him to my own
room, had a good bed made for him, dressed his wounds, and tended
him myself, until he got fairly on his feet again. And, in
process of time, I had free papers made out for him, and told him
he might go where he liked."

"And did he go?" said Miss Ophelia.

"No. The foolish fellow tore the paper in two, and absolutely
refused to leave me. I never had a braver, better fellow,--trusty
and true as steel. He embraced Christianity afterwards, and became
as gentle as a child. He used to oversee my place on the lake,
and did it capitally, too. I lost him the first cholera season.
In fact, he laid down his life for me. For I was sick, almost to
death; and when, through the panic, everybody else fled, Scipio
worked for me like a giant, and actually brought me back into life
again. But, poor fellow! he was taken, right after, and there was
no saving him. I never felt anybody's loss more."

Eva had come gradually nearer and nearer to her father, as he
told the story,--her small lips apart, her eyes wide and earnest
with absorbing interest.

As he finished, she suddenly threw her arms around his
neck, burst into tears, and sobbed convulsively.

"Eva, dear child! what is the matter?" said St. Clare, as
the child's small frame trembled and shook with the violence of
her feelings. "This child," he added, "ought not to hear any of
this kind of thing,--she's nervous."

"No, papa, I'm not nervous," said Eva, controlling herself,
suddenly, with a strength of resolution singular in such a child.
"I'm not nervous, but these things _sink into my heart_."

"What do you mean, Eva?"

"I can't tell you, papa, I think a great many thoughts.
Perhaps some day I shall tell you."

"Well, think away, dear,--only don't cry and worry your papa,"
said St. Clare, "Look here,--see what a beautiful peach I
have got for you."

Eva took it and smiled, though there was still a nervous
twiching about the corners of her mouth.

"Come, look at the gold-fish," said St. Clare, taking her
hand and stepping on to the verandah. A few moments, and merry
laughs were heard through the silken curtains, as Eva and St.
Clare were pelting each other with roses, and chasing each other
among the alleys of the court.

 

There is danger that our humble friend Tom be neglected amid
the adventures of the higher born; but, if our readers will
accompany us up to a little loft over the stable, they may, perhaps,
learn a little of his affairs. It was a decent room, containing
a bed, a chair, and a small, rough stand, where lay Tom's Bible
and hymn-book; and where he sits, at present, with his slate before
him, intent on something that seems to cost him a great deal of
anxious thought.

The fact was, that Tom's home-yearnings had become so strong
that he had begged a sheet of writing-paper of Eva, and, mustering
up all his small stock of literary attainment acquired by Mas'r
George's instructions, he conceived the bold idea of writing a
letter; and he was busy now, on his slate, getting out his first
draft. Tom was in a good deal of trouble, for the forms of some
of the letters he had forgotten entirely; and of what he did
remember, he did not know exactly which to use. And while he was
working, and breathing very hard, in his earnestness, Eva alighted,
like a bird, on the round of his chair behind him, and peeped over
his shoulder.

"O, Uncle Tom! what funny things you _are_ making, there!"

"I'm trying to write to my poor old woman, Miss Eva, and
my little chil'en," said Tom, drawing the back of his hand over
his eyes; "but, some how, I'm feard I shan't make it out."

"I wish I could help you, Tom! I've learnt to write some.
Last year I could make all the letters, but I'm afraid I've
forgotten."

So Eva put her golden head close to his, and the two commenced
a grave and anxious discussion, each one equally earnest,
and about equally ignorant; and, with a deal of consulting and
advising over every word, the composition began, as they both
felt very sanguine, to look quite like writing.

"Yes, Uncle Tom, it really begins to look beautiful," said
Eva, gazing delightedly on it. "How pleased your wife'll be, and
the poor little children! O, it's a shame you ever had to go away
from them! I mean to ask papa to let you go back, some time."

"Missis said that she would send down money for me, as soon
as they could get it together," said Tom. "I'm 'spectin, she will.
Young Mas'r George, he said he'd come for me; and he gave me this
yer dollar as a sign;" and Tom drew from under his clothes the
precious dollar.

"O, he'll certainly come, then!" said Eva. "I'm so glad!"

"And I wanted to send a letter, you know, to let 'em know
whar I was, and tell poor Chloe that I was well off,--cause she
felt so drefful, poor soul!"

"I say Tom!" said St. Clare's voice, coming in the door at
this moment.

Tom and Eva both started.

"What's here?" said St. Clare, coming up and looking at
the slate.

"O, it's Tom's letter. I'm helping him to write it," said
Eva; "isn't it nice?"

"I wouldn't discourage either of you," said St. Clare,
"but I rather think, Tom, you'd better get me to write your letter
for you. I'll do it, when I come home from my ride."

"It's very important he should write," said Eva, "because his
mistress is going to send down money to redeem him, you know,
papa; he told me they told him so."

St. Clare thought, in his heart, that this was probably only
one of those things which good-natured owners say to their
servants, to alleviate their horror of being sold, without any
intention of fulfilling the expectation thus excited. But he did
not make any audible comment upon it,--only ordered Tom to get the
horses out for a ride.

Tom's letter was written in due form for him that evening,
and safely lodged in the post-office.

Miss Ophelia still persevered in her labors in the housekeeping
line. It was universally agreed, among all the household, from
Dinah down to the youngest urchin, that Miss Ophelia was decidedly
"curis,"--a term by which a southern servant implies that his or
her betters don't exactly suit them.

The higher circle in the family--to wit, Adolph, Jane and
Rosa--agreed that she was no lady; ladies never keep working about
as she did,--that she had no _air_ at all; and they were surprised
that she should be any relation of the St. Clares. Even Marie
declared that it was absolutely fatiguing to see Cousin Ophelia
always so busy. And, in fact, Miss Ophelia's industry was so
incessant as to lay some foundation for the complaint. She sewed
and stitched away, from daylight till dark, with the energy of one
who is pressed on by some immediate urgency; and then, when the
light faded, and the work was folded away, with one turn out came
the ever-ready knitting-work, and there she was again, going on as
briskly as ever. It really was a labor to see her.

 

 

CHAPTER XX

Topsy

 

One morning, while Miss Ophelia was busy in some of her
domestic cares, St. Clare's voice was heard, calling
her at the foot of the stairs.

"Come down here, Cousin, I've something to show you."

"What is it?" said Miss Ophelia, coming down, with her
sewing in her hand.

"I've made a purchase for your department,--see here," said
St. Clare; and, with the word, he pulled along a little negro girl,
about eight or nine years of age.

She was one of the blackest of her race; and her round
shining eyes, glittering as glass beads, moved with quick and
restless glances over everything in the room. Her mouth, half open
with astonishment at the wonders of the new Mas'r's parlor, displayed
a white and brilliant set of teeth. Her woolly hair was braided
in sundry little tails, which stuck out in every direction. The
expression of her face was an odd mixture of shrewdness and cunning,
over which was oddly drawn, like a kind of veil, an expression of
the most doleful gravity and solemnity. She was dressed in a single
filthy, ragged garment, made of bagging; and stood with her hands
demurely folded before her. Altogether, there was something odd
and goblin-like about her appearance,--something, as Miss Ophelia
afterwards said, "so heathenish," as to inspire that good lady with
utter dismay; and turning to St. Clare, she said,

"Augustine, what in the world have you brought that thing
here for?"

"For you to educate, to be sure, and train in the way she
should go. I thought she was rather a funny specimen in the Jim
Crow line. Here, Topsy," he added, giving a whistle, as a man
would to call the attention of a dog, "give us a song, now, and
show us some of your dancing."

The black, glassy eyes glittered with a kind of wicked
drollery, and the thing struck up, in a clear shrill voice, an odd
negro melody, to which she kept time with her hands and feet,
spinning round, clapping her hands, knocking her knees together,
in a wild, fantastic sort of time, and producing in her throat all
those odd guttural sounds which distinguish the native music of
her race; and finally, turning a summerset or two, and giving a
prolonged closing note, as odd and unearthly as that of a steam-whistle,
she came suddenly down on the carpet, and stood with her hands
folded, and a most sanctimonious expression of meekness and solemnity
over her face, only broken by the cunning glances which she shot
askance from the corners of her eyes.

Miss Ophelia stood silent, perfectly paralyzed with amazement.
St. Clare, like a mischievous fellow as he was, appeared to enjoy
her astonishment; and, addressing the child again, said,

"Topsy, this is your new mistress. I'm going to give you
up to her; see now that you behave yourself."

"Yes, Mas'r," said Topsy, with sanctimonious gravity, her
wicked eyes twinkling as she spoke.

"You're going to be good, Topsy, you understand," said St. Clare.

"O yes, Mas'r," said Topsy, with another twinkle, her hands
still devoutly folded.

"Now, Augustine, what upon earth is this for?" said Miss Ophelia.
"Your house is so full of these little plagues, now, that
a body can't set down their foot without treading on 'em. I get
up in the morning, and find one asleep behind the door, and see
one black head poking out from under the table, one lying on the
door-mat,--and they are mopping and mowing and grinning between
all the railings, and tumbling over the kitchen floor! What on
earth did you want to bring this one for?"

"For you to educate--didn't I tell you? You're always
preaching about educating. I thought I would make you a present
of a fresh-caught specimen, and let you try your hand on her, and
bring her up in the way she should go."

"_I_ don't want her, I am sure;--I have more to do with
'em now than I want to."

"That's you Christians, all over!--you'll get up a society,
and get some poor missionary to spend all his days among just such
heathen. But let me see one of you that would take one into your
house with you, and take the labor of their conversion on yourselves!
No; when it comes to that, they are dirty and disagreeable, and
it's too much care, and so on."

"Augustine, you know I didn't think of it in that light,"
said Miss Ophelia, evidently softening. "Well, it might be a real
missionary work," said she, looking rather more favorably on the
child.

St. Clare had touched the right string. Miss Ophelia's
conscientiousness was ever on the alert. "But," she added, "I
really didn't see the need of buying this one;--there are enough
now, in your house, to take all my time and skill."

"Well, then, Cousin," said St. Clare, drawing her aside,
"I ought to beg your pardon for my good-for-nothing speeches.
You are so good, after all, that there's no sense in them.
Why, the fact is, this concern belonged to a couple of drunken
creatures that keep a low restaurant that I have to pass by every
day, and I was tired of hearing her screaming, and them beating
and swearing at her. She looked bright and funny, too, as if
something might be made of her;--so I bought her, and I'll give
her to you. Try, now, and give her a good orthodox New England
bringing up, and see what it'll make of her. You know I haven't
any gift that way; but I'd like you to try."

"Well, I'll do what I can," said Miss Ophelia; and she
approached her new subject very much as a person might be supposed
to approach a black spider, supposing them to have benevolent
designs toward it.

"She's dreadfully dirty, and half naked," she said.

"Well, take her down stairs, and make some of them clean
and clothe her up."

Miss Ophelia carried her to the kitchen regions.

"Don't see what Mas'r St. Clare wants of 'nother nigger!"
said Dinah, surveying the new arrival with no friendly air.
"Won't have her around under _my_ feet, _I_ know!"

"Pah!" said Rosa and Jane, with supreme disgust; "let her
keep out of our way! What in the world Mas'r wanted another of
these low niggers for, I can't see!"

"You go long! No more nigger dan you be, Miss Rosa," said
Dinah, who felt this last remark a reflection on herself.
"You seem to tink yourself white folks. You an't nerry one,
black _nor_ white, I'd like to be one or turrer."

Miss Ophelia saw that there was nobody in the camp that would
undertake to oversee the cleansing and dressing of the new
arrival; and so she was forced to do it herself, with some very
ungracious and reluctant assistance from Jane.

It is not for ears polite to hear the particulars of the
first toilet of a neglected, abused child. In fact, in this
world, multitudes must live and die in a state that it would be
too great a shock to the nerves of their fellow-mortals even to
hear described. Miss Ophelia had a good, strong, practical deal
of resolution; and she went through all the disgusting details with
heroic thoroughness, though, it must be confessed, with no very
gracious air,--for endurance was the utmost to which her principles
could bring her. When she saw, on the back and shoulders of the
child, great welts and calloused spots, ineffaceable marks of the
system under which she had grown up thus far, her heart became
pitiful within her.

"See there!" said Jane, pointing to the marks, "don't that
show she's a limb? We'll have fine works with her, I reckon.
I hate these nigger young uns! so disgusting! I wonder that Mas'r
would buy her!"

The "young un" alluded to heard all these comments with the
subdued and doleful air which seemed habitual to her, only
scanning, with a keen and furtive glance of her flickering eyes,
the ornaments which Jane wore in her ears. When arrayed at last
in a suit of decent and whole clothing, her hair cropped short to
her head, Miss Ophelia, with some satisfaction, said she looked
more Christian-like than she did, and in her own mind began to
mature some plans for her instruction.

Sitting down before her, she began to question her.

"How old are you, Topsy?"

"Dun no, Missis," said the image, with a grin that showed
all her teeth.

"Don't know how old you are? Didn't anybody ever tell you?
Who was your mother?"

"Never had none!" said the child, with another grin.

"Never had any mother? What do you mean? Where were you born?"

"Never was born!" persisted Topsy, with another grin, that looked
so goblin-like, that, if Miss Ophelia had been at all nervous,
she might have fancied that she had got hold of some sooty gnome
from the land of Diablerie; but Miss Ophelia was not nervous,
but plain and business-like, and she said, with some sternness,

"You mustn't answer me in that way, child; I'm not playing
with you. Tell me where you were born, and who your father and
mother were."

"Never was born," reiterated the creature, more emphatically;
"never had no father nor mother, nor nothin'. I was raised by a
speculator, with lots of others. Old Aunt Sue used to take car on us."

The child was evidently sincere, and Jane, breaking into
a short laugh, said,

"Laws, Missis, there's heaps of 'em. Speculators buys 'em
up cheap, when they's little, and gets 'em raised for market."

"How long have you lived with your master and mistress?"

"Dun no, Missis."

"Is it a year, or more, or less?"

"Dun no, Missis."

"Laws, Missis, those low negroes,--they can't tell; they
don't know anything about time," said Jane; "they don't know what
a year is; they don't know their own ages.

"Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?"

The child looked bewildered, but grinned as usual.

"Do you know who made you?"

"Nobody, as I knows on," said the child, with a short laugh.

The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes
twinkled, and she added,

"I spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me."

"Do you know how to sew?" said Miss Ophelia, who thought
she would turn her inquiries to something more tangible.

"No, Missis."

"What can you do?--what did you do for your master and mistress?"

"Fetch water, and wash dishes, and rub knives, and wait on folks."

"Were they good to you?"

"Spect they was," said the child, scanning Miss Ophelia cunningly.

Miss Ophelia rose from this encouraging colloquy; St. Clare
was leaning over the back of her chair.

"You find virgin soil there, Cousin; put in your own
ideas,--you won't find many to pull up."

Miss Ophelia's ideas of education, like all her other ideas,
were very set and definite; and of the kind that prevailed in New
England a century ago, and which are still preserved in some very
retired and unsophisticated parts, where there are no railroads.
As nearly as could be expressed, they could be comprised in very
few words: to teach them to mind when they were spoken to; to teach
them the catechism, sewing, and reading; and to whip them if they
told lies. And though, of course, in the flood of light that is
now poured on education, these are left far away in the rear, yet
it is an undisputed fact that our grandmothers raised some tolerably
fair men and women under this regime, as many of us can remember
and testify. At all events, Miss Ophelia knew of nothing else to
do; and, therefore, applied her mind to her heathen with the best
diligence she could command.

The child was announced and considered in the family as
Miss Ophelia's girl; and, as she was looked upon with no gracious
eye in the kitchen, Miss Ophelia resolved to confine her sphere of
operation and instruction chiefly to her own chamber. With a
self-sacrifice which some of our readers will appreciate, she
resolved, instead of comfortably making her own bed, sweeping and
dusting her own chamber,--which she had hitherto done, in utter scorn
of all offers of help from the chambermaid of the establishment,--to
condemn herself to the martyrdom of instructing Topsy to perform
these operations,--ah, woe the day! Did any of our readers ever do
the same, they will appreciate the amount of her self-sacrifice.

Miss Ophelia began with Topsy by taking her into her chamber,
the first morning, and solemnly commencing a course of instruction
in the art and mystery of bed-making.

Behold, then, Topsy, washed and shorn of all the little
braided tails wherein her heart had delighted, arrayed in a clean
gown, with well-starched apron, standing reverently before Miss
Ophelia, with an expression of solemnity well befitting a funeral.

"Now, Topsy, I'm going to show you just how my bed is to
be made. I am very particular about my bed. You must learn exactly
how to do it."

"Yes, ma'am," says Topsy, with a deep sigh, and a face of
woful earnestness.

"Now, Topsy, look here;--this is the hem of the sheet,--this
is the right side of the sheet, and this is the wrong;--will you
remember?"

"Yes, ma'am," says Topsy, with another sigh.

"Well, now, the under sheet you must bring over the
bolster,--so--and tuck it clear down under the mattress nice and
smooth,--so,--do you see?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Topsy, with profound attention.

"But the upper sheet," said Miss Ophelia, "must be brought
down in this way, and tucked under firm and smooth at the
foot,--so,--the narrow hem at the foot."

"Yes, ma'am," said Topsy, as before;--but we will add, what
Miss Ophelia did not see, that, during the time when the good lady's
back was turned in the zeal of her manipulations, the young disciple
had contrived to snatch a pair of gloves and a ribbon, which she
had adroitly slipped into her sleeves, and stood with her hands
dutifully folded, as before.

"Now, Topsy, let's see _you_ do this," said Miss Ophelia,
pulling off the clothes, and seating herself.

Topsy, with great gravity and adroitness, went through the
exercise completely to Miss Ophelia's satisfaction; smoothing the
sheets, patting out every wrinkle, and exhibiting, through the
whole process, a gravity and seriousness with which her instructress
was greatly edified. By an unlucky slip, however, a fluttering
fragment of the ribbon hung out of one of her sleeves, just as she
was finishing, and caught Miss Ophelia's attention. Instantly, she
pounced upon it. "What's this? You naughty, wicked child,--you've
been stealing this!"

The ribbon was pulled out of Topsy's own sleeve, yet was she
not in the least disconcerted; she only looked at it with an
air of the most surprised and unconscious innocence.

"Laws! why, that ar's Miss Feely's ribbon, an't it? How could
it a got caught in my sleeve?

"Topsy, you naughty girl, don't you tell me a lie,--you
stole that ribbon!"

"Missis, I declar for 't, I didn't;--never seed it till
dis yer blessed minnit."

"Topsy," said Miss Ophelia, "don't you now it's wicked to
tell lies?"

"I never tell no lies, Miss Feely," said Topsy, with virtuous
gravity; "it's jist the truth I've been a tellin now, and an't
nothin else."

"Topsy, I shall have to whip you, if you tell lies so."

"Laws, Missis, if you's to whip all day, couldn't say no
other way," said Topsy, beginning to blubber. "I never seed dat
ar,--it must a got caught in my sleeve. Miss Feeley must have left
it on the bed, and it got caught in the clothes, and so got in
my sleeve."

Miss Ophelia was so indignant at the barefaced lie, that
she caught the child and shook her.

"Don't you tell me that again!"

The shake brought the glove on to the floor, from the other sleeve.

"There, you!" said Miss Ophelia, "will you tell me now,
you didn't steal the ribbon?"

Topsy now confessed to the gloves, but still persisted in
denying the ribbon.

"Now, Topsy," said Miss Ophelia, "if you'll confess all about it,
I won't whip you this time." Thus adjured, Topsy confessed
to the ribbon and gloves, with woful protestations of penitence.

"Well, now, tell me. I know you must have taken other things
since you have been in the house, for I let you run about all
day yesterday. Now, tell me if you took anything, and I shan't
whip you."

"Laws, Missis! I took Miss Eva's red thing she wars on her neck."

"You did, you naughty child!--Well, what else?"

"I took Rosa's yer-rings,--them red ones."

"Go bring them to me this minute, both of 'em."

"Laws, Missis! I can't,--they 's burnt up!"

"Burnt up!--what a story! Go get 'em, or I'll whip you."

Topsy, with loud protestations, and tears, and groans,
declared that she _could_ not. "They 's burnt up,--they was."

"What did you burn 'em for?" said Miss Ophelia.

"Cause I 's wicked,--I is. I 's mighty wicked, any how.
I can't help it."

Just at this moment, Eva came innocently into the room,
with the identical coral necklace on her neck.

"Why, Eva, where did you get your necklace?" said Miss Ophelia.

"Get it? Why, I've had it on all day," said Eva.

"Did you have it on yesterday?"

"Yes; and what is funny, Aunty, I had it on all night. I forgot
to take it off when I went to bed."

Miss Ophelia looked perfectly bewildered; the more so, as Rosa,
at that instant, came into the room, with a basket of newly-ironed
linen poised on her head, and the coral ear-drops shaking in her ears!

"I'm sure I can't tell anything what to do with such a child!"
she said, in despair. "What in the world did you tell me
you took those things for, Topsy?"

"Why, Missis said I must 'fess; and I couldn't think of
nothin' else to 'fess," said Topsy, rubbing her eyes.

"But, of course, I didn't want you to confess things you
didn't do," said Miss Ophelia; "that's telling a lie, just as much
as the other."

"Laws, now, is it?" said Topsy, with an air of innocent wonder.

"La, there an't any such thing as truth in that limb," said
Rosa, looking indignantly at Topsy. "If I was Mas'r St. Clare,
I'd whip her till the blood run. I would,--I'd let her catch it!"

"No, no Rosa," said Eva, with an air of command, which the
child could assume at times; "you mustn't talk so, Rosa. I can't
bear to hear it."

"La sakes! Miss Eva, you 's so good, you don't know nothing
how to get along with niggers. There's no way but to cut 'em well
up, I tell ye."

"Rosa!" said Eva, "hush! Don't you say another word of that
sort!" and the eye of the child flashed, and her cheek deepened
its color.

Rosa was cowed in a moment.

"Miss Eva has got the St. Clare blood in her, that's plain.
She can speak, for all the world, just like her papa," she said,
as she passed out of the room.

Eva stood looking at Topsy.

There stood the two children representatives of the two extremes
of society. The fair, high-bred child, with her golden head,
her deep eyes, her spiritual, noble brow, and prince-like movements;
and her black, keen, subtle, cringing, yet acute neighbor.
They stood the representatives of their races. The Saxon, born
of ages of cultivation, command, education, physical and moral
eminence; the Afric, born of ages of oppression, submission,
ignorance, toil and vice!

Something, perhaps, of such thoughts struggled through
Eva's mind. But a child's thoughts are rather dim, undefined
instincts; and in Eva's noble nature many such were yearning and
working, for which she had no power of utterance. When Miss Ophelia
expatiated on Topsy's naughty, wicked conduct, the child looked
perplexed and sorrowful, but said, sweetly.

"Poor Topsy, why need you steal? You're going to be taken
good care of now. I'm sure I'd rather give you anything of mine,
than have you steal it."

It was the first word of kindness the child had ever heard
in her life; and the sweet tone and manner struck strangely on the
wild, rude heart, and a sparkle of something like a tear shone in
the keen, round, glittering eye; but it was followed by the short
laugh and habitual grin. No! the ear that has never heard anything
but abuse is strangely incredulous of anything so heavenly as
kindness; and Topsy only thought Eva's speech something funny and
inexplicable,--she did not believe it.

But what was to be done with Topsy? Miss Ophelia found the
case a puzzler; her rules for bringing up didn't seem to apply.
She thought she would take time to think of it; and, by the way of
gaining time, and in hopes of some indefinite moral virtues supposed
to be inherent in dark closets, Miss Ophelia shut Topsy up in one
till she had arranged her ideas further on the subject.

"I don't see," said Miss Ophelia to St. Clare, "how I'm
going to manage that child, without whipping her."

"Well, whip her, then, to your heart's content; I'll give
you full power to do what you like."

"Children always have to be whipped," said Miss Ophelia;
"I never heard of bringing them up without."

"O, well, certainly," said St. Clare; "do as you think best.
Only I'll make one suggestion: I've seen this child whipped
with a poker, knocked down with the shovel or tongs, whichever came
handiest, &c.; and, seeing that she is used to that style of
operation, I think your whippings will have to be pretty energetic,
to make much impression."

"What is to be done with her, then?" said Miss Ophelia.

"You have started a serious question," said St. Clare; "I
wish you'd answer it. What is to be done with a human being that
can be governed only by the lash,--_that_ fails,--it's a very common
state of things down here!"

"I'm sure I don't know; I never saw such a child as this."

"Such children are very common among us, and such men and
women, too. How are they to be governed?" said St. Clare.

"I'm sure it's more than I can say," said Miss Ophelia.

"Or I either," said St. Clare. "The horrid cruelties and outrages
that once and a while find their way into the papers,--such
cases as Prue's, for example,--what do they come from? In many
cases, it is a gradual hardening process on both sides,--the owner
growing more and more cruel, as the servant more and more callous.
Whipping and abuse are like laudanum; you have to double the dose
as the sensibilities decline. I saw this very early when I became
an owner; and I resolved never to begin, because I did not know
when I should stop,--and I resolved, at least, to protect my own
moral nature. The consequence is, that my servants act like spoiled
children; but I think that better than for us both to be brutalized
together. You have talked a great deal about our responsibilities
in educating, Cousin. I really wanted you to _try_ with one child,
who is a specimen of thousands among us."

"It is your system makes such children," said Miss Ophelia.

"I know it; but they are _made_,--they exist,--and what
_is_ to be done with them?"

"Well, I can't say I thank you for the experiment. But, then,
as it appears to be a duty, I shall persevere and try, and
do the best I can," said Miss Ophelia; and Miss Ophelia, after
this, did labor, with a commendable degree of zeal and energy, on
her new subject. She instituted regular hours and employments for
her, and undertook to teach her to read and sew.

In the former art, the child was quick enough. She learned
her letters as if by magic, and was very soon able to read plain
reading; but the sewing was a more difficult matter. The creature
was as lithe as a cat, and as active as a monkey, and the confinement
of sewing was her abomination; so she broke her needles, threw them
slyly out of the window, or down in chinks of the walls; she tangled,
broke, and dirtied her thread, or, with a sly movement, would throw
a spool away altogether. Her motions were almost as quick as those
of a practised conjurer, and her command of her face quite as great;
and though Miss Ophelia could not help feeling that so many accidents
could not possibly happen in succession, yet she could not, without
a watchfulness which would leave her no time for anything else,
detect her.

Topsy was soon a noted character in the establishment.
Her talent for every species of drollery, grimace, and mimicry,--for
dancing, tumbling, climbing, singing, whistling, imitating every
sound that hit her fancy,--seemed inexhaustible. In her play-hours,
she invariably had every child in the establishment at her heels,
open-mouthed with admiration and wonder,--not excepting Miss Eva,
who appeared to be fascinated by her wild diablerie, as a dove is
sometimes charmed by a glittering serpent. Miss Ophelia was uneasy
that Eva should fancy Topsy's society so much, and implored St.
Clare to forbid it.

"Poh! let the child alone," said St. Clare. "Topsy will
do her good."

"But so depraved a child,--are you not afraid she will
teach her some mischief?"

"She can't teach her mischief; she might teach it to some
children, but evil rolls off Eva's mind like dew off a
cabbage-leaf,--not a drop sinks in."

"Don't be too sure," said Miss Ophelia. "I know I'd never
let a child of mine play with Topsy."

"Well, your children needn't," said St. Clare, "but mine may;
if Eva could have been spoiled, it would have been done years ago."

Topsy was at first despised and contemned by the upper servants.
They soon found reason to alter their opinion. It was very soon
discovered that whoever cast an indignity on Topsy was sure to
meet with some inconvenient accident shortly after;--either a
pair of ear-rings or some cherished trinket would be missing, or
an article of dress would be suddenly found utterly ruined, or the
person would stumble accidently into a pail of hot water, or a
libation of dirty slop would unaccountably deluge them from above
when in full gala dress;-and on all these occasions, when investigation
was made, there was nobody found to stand sponsor for the indignity.
Topsy was cited, and had up before all the domestic judicatories,
time and again; but always sustained her examinations with most
edifying innocence and gravity of appearance. Nobody in the world
ever doubted who did the things; but not a scrap of any direct
evidence could be found to establish the suppositions, and Miss
Ophelia was too just to feel at liberty to proceed to any length
without it.

The mischiefs done were always so nicely timed, also, as
further to shelter the aggressor. Thus, the times for revenge on
Rosa and Jane, the two chamber maids, were always chosen in those
seasons when (as not unfrequently happened) they were in disgrace
with their mistress, when any complaint from them would of course
meet with no sympathy. In short, Topsy soon made the household
understand the propriety of letting her alone; and she was let
alone, accordingly.

Topsy was smart and energetic in all manual operations,
learning everything that was taught her with surprising quickness.
With a few lessons, she had learned to do the proprieties of Miss
Ophelia's chamber in a way with which even that particular lady
could find no fault. Mortal hands could not lay spread smoother,
adjust pillows more accurately, sweep and dust and arrange more
perfectly, than Topsy, when she chose,--but she didn't very often
choose. If Miss Ophelia, after three or four days of careful
patient supervision, was so sanguine as to suppose that Topsy had
at last fallen into her way, could do without over-looking, and so
go off and busy herself about something else, Topsy would hold a
perfect carnival of confusion, for some one or two hours. Instead
of making the bed, she would amuse herself with pulling off the
pillowcases, butting her woolly head among the pillows, till it
would sometimes be grotesquely ornamented with feathers sticking
out in various directions; she would climb the posts, and hang head
downward from the tops; flourish the sheets and spreads all over
the apartment; dress the bolster up in Miss Ophelia's night-clothes,
and enact various performances with that,--singing and whistling,
and making grimaces at herself in the looking-glass; in short, as
Miss Ophelia phrased it, "raising Cain" generally.

On one occasion, Miss Ophelia found Topsy with her very
best scarlet India Canton crape shawl wound round her head for a
turban, going on with her rehearsals before the glass in great
style,--Miss Ophelia having, with carelessness most unheard-of in
her, left the key for once in her drawer.

"Topsy!" she would say, when at the end of all patience,
"what does make you act so?"

"Dunno, Missis,--I spects cause I 's so wicked!"

"I don't know anything what I shall do with you, Topsy."

"Law, Missis, you must whip me; my old Missis allers whipped me.
I an't used to workin' unless I gets whipped."

"Why, Topsy, I don't want to whip you. You can do well,
if you've a mind to; what is the reason you won't?"

"Laws, Missis, I 's used to whippin'; I spects it's good
for me."

Miss Ophelia tried the recipe, and Topsy invariably made
a terrible commotion, screaming, groaning and imploring, though
half an hour afterwards, when roosted on some projection of the
balcony, and surrounded by a flock of admiring "young uns," she
would express the utmost contempt of the whole affair.

"Law, Miss Feely whip!--wouldn't kill a skeeter, her whippins.
Oughter see how old Mas'r made the flesh fly; old Mas'r
know'd how!"

Topsy always made great capital of her own sins and
enormities, evidently considering them as something peculiarly
distinguishing.

"Law, you niggers," she would say to some of her auditors,
"does you know you 's all sinners? Well, you is--everybody is.
White folks is sinners too,--Miss Feely says so; but I spects
niggers is the biggest ones; but lor! ye an't any on ye up to me.
I 's so awful wicked there can't nobody do nothin' with me. I used
to keep old Missis a swarin' at me half de time. I spects I 's
the wickedest critter in the world;" and Topsy would cut a summerset,
and come up brisk and shining on to a higher perch, and evidently
plume herself on the distinction.

Miss Ophelia busied herself very earnestly on Sundays,
teaching Topsy the catechism. Topsy had an uncommon verbal
memory, and committed with a fluency that greatly encouraged
her instructress.

"What good do you expect it is going to do her?" said St. Clare.

"Why, it always has done children good. It's what children
always have to learn, you know," said Miss Ophelia.

"Understand it or not," said St. Clare.

"O, children never understand it at the time; but, after
they are grown up, it'll come to them."

"Mine hasn't come to me yet," said St. Clare, "though I'll
bear testimony that you put it into me pretty thoroughly when I
was a boy."'

"Ah, you were always good at learning, Augustine. I used
to have great hopes of you," said Miss Ophelia.

"Well, haven't you now?" said St. Clare.

"I wish you were as good as you were when you were a boy,
Augustine."

"So do I, that's a fact, Cousin," said St. Clare. "Well, go
ahead and catechize Topsy; may be you'll make out something yet."

Topsy, who had stood like a black statue during this discussion,
with hands decently folded, now, at a signal from Miss Ophelia,
went on:

"Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own
will, fell from the state wherein they were created."

Topsy's eyes twinkled, and she looked inquiringly.

"What is it, Topsy?" said Miss Ophelia.

"Please, Missis, was dat ar state Kintuck?"

"What state, Topsy?"

"Dat state dey fell out of. I used to hear Mas'r tell how
we came down from Kintuck."

St. Clare laughed.

"You'll have to give her a meaning, or she'll make one,"
said he. "There seems to be a theory of emigration suggested
there."

"O! Augustine, be still," said Miss Ophelia; "how can I do
anything, if you will be laughing?"

"Well, I won't disturb the exercises again, on my honor;"
and St. Clare took his paper into the parlor, and sat down, till
Topsy had finished her recitations. They were all very well, only
that now and then she would oddly transpose some important words,
and persist in the mistake, in spite of every effort to the contrary;
and St. Clare, after all his promises of goodness, took a wicked
pleasure in these mistakes, calling Topsy to him whenever he had
a mind to amuse himself, and getting her to repeat the offending
passages, in spite of Miss Ophelia's remonstrances.

"How do you think I can do anything with the child, if you
will go on so, Augustine?" she would say.

"Well, it is too bad,--I won't again; but I do like to hear
the droll little image stumble over those big words!"

"But you confirm her in the wrong way."

"What's the odds? One word is as good as another to her."

"You wanted me to bring her up right; and you ought to
remember she is a reasonable creature, and be careful of your
influence over her."

"O, dismal! so I ought; but, as Topsy herself says, `I 's
so wicked!'"

In very much this way Topsy's training proceeded, for a year
or two,--Miss Ophelia worrying herself, from day to day, with
her, as a kind of chronic plague, to whose inflictions she became,
in time, as accustomed, as persons sometimes do to the neuralgia
or sick headache.

St. Clare took the same kind of amusement in the child that a man
might in the tricks of a parrot or a pointer. Topsy, whenever
her sins brought her into disgrace in other quarters, always took
refuge behind his chair; and St. Clare, in one way or other, would
make peace for her. From him she got many a stray picayune, which
she laid out in nuts and candies, and distributed, with careless
generosity, to all the children in the family; for Topsy, to do
her justice, was good-natured and liberal, and only spiteful in
self-defence. She is fairly introduced into our _corps be ballet_,
and will figure, from time to time, in her turn, with other performers.

 

 

CHAPTER XXI

Kentuck

 

Our readers may not be unwilling to glance back, for a
brief interval, at Uncle Tom's Cabin, on the Kentucky farm, and
see what has been transpiring among those whom he had left behind.

It was late in the summer afternoon, and the doors and
windows of the large parlor all stood open, to invite any stray
breeze, that might feel in a good humor, to enter. Mr. Shelby sat
in a large hall opening into the room, and running through the
whole length of the house, to a balcony on either end. Leisurely
tipped back on one chair, with his heels in another, he was enjoying
his after-dinner cigar. Mrs. Shelby sat in the door, busy about
some fine sewing; she seemed like one who had something on her
mind, which she was seeking an opportunity to introduce.

"Do you know," she said, "that Chloe has had a letter from Tom?"

"Ah! has she? Tom 's got some friend there, it seems. How is the
old boy?"

"He has been bought by a very fine family, I should think,"
said Mrs. Shelby,--"is kindly treated, and has not much to do."

"Ah! well, I'm glad of it,--very glad," said Mr. Shelby, heartily.
"Tom, I suppose, will get reconciled to a Southern residence;--hardly
want to come up here again."

"On the contrary he inquires very anxiously," said Mrs.
Shelby, "when the money for his redemption is to be raised."

"I'm sure _I_ don't know," said Mr. Shelby. "Once get business
running wrong, there does seem to be no end to it. It's like
jumping from one bog to another, all through a swamp; borrow
of one to pay another, and then borrow of another to pay one,--and
these confounded notes falling due before a man has time to smoke
a cigar and turn round,--dunning letters and dunning messages,--all
scamper and hurry-scurry."

"It does seem to me, my dear, that something might be done
to straighten matters. Suppose we sell off all the horses, and
sell one of your farms, and pay up square?"

"O, ridiculous, Emily! You are the finest woman in Kentucky;
but still you haven't sense to know that you don't understand
business;--women never do, and never can.

"But, at least," said Mrs. Shelby, "could not you give me
some little insight into yours; a list of all your debts, at least,
and of all that is owed to you, and let me try and see if I can't
help you to economize."

"O, bother! don't plague me, Emily!--I can't tell exactly.
I know somewhere about what things are likely to be; but there's
no trimming and squaring my affairs, as Chloe trims crust off her
pies. You don't know anything about business, I tell you."

And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his
ideas, raised his voice,--a mode of arguing very convenient and
convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with
his wife.

Mrs. Shelby ceased talking, with something of a sigh. The fact
was, that though her husband had stated she was a woman, she
had a clear, energetic, practical mind, and a force of character
every way superior to that of her husband; so that it would not
have been so very absurd a supposition, to have allowed her
capable of managing, as Mr. Shelby supposed. Her heart was set on
performing her promise to Tom and Aunt Chloe, and she sighed as
discouragements thickened around her.

"Don't you think we might in some way contrive to raise
that money? Poor Aunt Chloe! her heart is so set on it!"

"I'm sorry, if it is. I think I was premature in promising.
I'm not sure, now, but it's the best way to tell Chloe, and let
her make up her mind to it. Tom'll have another wife, in a year
or two; and she had better take up with somebody else."

"Mr. Shelby, I have taught my people that their marriages
are as sacred as ours. I never could think of giving Chloe
such advice."

"It's a pity, wife, that you have burdened them with a morality
above their condition and prospects. I always thought so."

"It's only the morality of the Bible, Mr. Shelby."

"Well, well, Emily, I don't pretend to interfere with your
religious notions; only they seem extremely unfitted for people in
that condition."

"They are, indeed," said Mrs. Shelby, "and that is why,
from my soul, I hate the whole thing. I tell you, my dear, _I_
cannot absolve myself from the promises I make to these helpless
creatures. If I can get the money no other way I will take
music-scholars;--I could get enough, I know, and earn the money
myself."

"You wouldn't degrade yourself that way, Emily? I never
could consent to it."

"Degrade! would it degrade me as much as to break my faith
with the helpless? No, indeed!"

"Well, you are always heroic and transcendental," said Mr.
Shelby, "but I think you had better think before you undertake such
a piece of Quixotism."

Here the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of
Aunt Chloe, at the end of the verandah.

"If you please, Missis," said she.

"Well, Chloe, what is it?" said her mistress, rising, and
going to the end of the balcony.

"If Missis would come and look at dis yer lot o' poetry."

Chloe had a particular fancy for calling poultry poetry,--an
application of language in which she always persisted, notwithstanding
frequent corrections and advisings from the young members of the
family.

"La sakes!" she would say, "I can't see; one jis good as
turry,--poetry suthin good, any how;" and so poetry Chloe continued
to call it.

Mrs. Shelby smiled as she saw a prostrate lot of chickens
and ducks, over which Chloe stood, with a very grave face of
consideration.

"I'm a thinkin whether Missis would be a havin a chicken
pie o' dese yer."

"Really, Aunt Chloe, I don't much care;--serve them any
way you like."

Chloe stood handling them over abstractedly; it was quite
evident that the chickens were not what she was thinking of.
At last, with the short laugh with which her tribe often introduce
a doubtful proposal, she said,

"Laws me, Missis! what should Mas'r and Missis be a troublin
theirselves 'bout de money, and not a usin what's right in der
hands?" and Chloe laughed again.

"I don't understand you, Chloe," said Mrs. Shelby, nothing
doubting, from her knowledge of Chloe's manner, that she had heard
every word of the conversation that had passed between her and her
husband.

"Why, laws me, Missis!" said Chloe, laughing again, "other folks
hires out der niggers and makes money on 'em! Don't keep sich
a tribe eatin 'em out of house and home."

"Well, Chloe, who do you propose that we should hire out?"

"Laws! I an't a proposin nothin; only Sam he said der was one
of dese yer _perfectioners_, dey calls 'em, in Louisville, said
he wanted a good hand at cake and pastry; and said he'd give four
dollars a week to one, he did."

"Well, Chloe."

"Well, laws, I 's a thinkin, Missis, it's time Sally was put
along to be doin' something. Sally 's been under my care, now,
dis some time, and she does most as well as me, considerin; and if
Missis would only let me go, I would help fetch up de money.
I an't afraid to put my cake, nor pies nother, 'long side no
_perfectioner's_.

"Confectioner's, Chloe."

"Law sakes, Missis! 'tan't no odds;--words is so curis,
can't never get 'em right!"

"But, Chloe, do you want to leave your children?"

"Laws, Missis! de boys is big enough to do day's works; dey does
well enough; and Sally, she'll take de baby,--she's such
a peart young un, she won't take no lookin arter."

"Louisville is a good way off."

"Law sakes! who's afeard?--it's down river, somer near my
old man, perhaps?" said Chloe, speaking the last in the tone of a
question, and looking at Mrs. Shelby.

"No, Chloe; it's many a hundred miles off," said Mrs. Shelby.

Chloe's countenance fell.

"Never mind; your going there shall bring you nearer, Chloe.
Yes, you may go; and your wages shall every cent of them be laid
aside for your husband's redemption."

As when a bright sunbeam turns a dark cloud to silver, so
Chloe's dark face brightened immediately,--it really shone.

"Laws! if Missis isn't too good! I was thinking of dat ar
very thing; cause I shouldn't need no clothes, nor shoes, nor
nothin,--I could save every cent. How many weeks is der in a
year, Missis?"

"Fifty-two," said Mrs. Shelby.

"Laws! now, dere is? and four dollars for each on em. Why, how
much 'd dat ar be?"

"Two hundred and eight dollars," said Mrs. Shelby.

"Why-e!" said Chloe, with an accent of surprise and delight;
"and how long would it take me to work it out, Missis?"

"Some four or five years, Chloe; but, then, you needn't do
it all,--I shall add something to it."

"I wouldn't hear to Missis' givin lessons nor nothin.
Mas'r's quite right in dat ar;--'t wouldn't do, no ways. I hope
none our family ever be brought to dat ar, while I 's got hands."

"Don't fear, Chloe; I'll take care of the honor of the family,"
said Mrs. Shelby, smiling. "But when do you expect to go?"

"Well, I want spectin nothin; only Sam, he's a gwine to de
river with some colts, and he said I could go long with him; so I
jes put my things together. If Missis was willin, I'd go with Sam
tomorrow morning, if Missis would write my pass, and write me a
commendation."

"Well, Chloe, I'll attend to it, if Mr. Shelby has no
objections. I must speak to him."

Mrs. Shelby went up stairs, and Aunt Chloe, delighted, went
out to her cabin, to make her preparation.

"Law sakes, Mas'r George! ye didn't know I 's a gwine to
Louisville tomorrow!" she said to George, as entering her cabin,
he found her busy in sorting over her baby's clothes. "I thought
I'd jis look over sis's things, and get 'em straightened up. But
I'm gwine, Mas'r George,--gwine to have four dollars a week; and
Missis is gwine to lay it all up, to buy back my old man agin!"

"Whew!" said George, "here's a stroke of business, to be sure!
How are you going?"

"Tomorrow, wid Sam. And now, Mas'r George, I knows you'll
jis sit down and write to my old man, and tell him all about
it,--won't ye?"

"To be sure," said George; "Uncle Tom'll be right glad to hear
from us. I'll go right in the house, for paper and ink; and
then, you know, Aunt Chloe, I can tell about the new colts and all."

"Sartin, sartin, Mas'r George; you go 'long, and I'll get
ye up a bit o' chicken, or some sich; ye won't have many more
suppers wid yer poor old aunty."

 

 

CHAPTER XXII

"The Grass Withereth--the Flower Fadeth"

 

Life passes, with us all, a day at a time; so it passed with
our friend Tom, till two years were gone. Though parted from
all his soul held dear, and though often yearning for what lay
beyond, still was he never positively and consciously miserable;
for, so well is the harp of human feeling strung, that nothing but
a crash that breaks every string can wholly mar its harmony; and,
on looking back to seasons which in review appear to us as those
of deprivation and trial, we can remember that each hour, as it
glided, brought its diversions and alleviations, so that, though
not happy wholly, we were not, either, wholly miserable.

Tom read, in his only literary cabinet, of one who had "learned
in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content." It seemed
to him good and reasonable doctrine, and accorded well with the
settled and thoughtful habit which he had acquired from the
reading of that same book.

His letter homeward, as we related in the last chapter,
was in due time answered by Master George, in a good, round,
school-boy hand, that Tom said might be read "most acrost the room."
It contained various refreshing items of home intelligence, with
which our reader is fully acquainted: stated how Aunt Chloe had
been hired out to a confectioner in Louisville, where her skill
in the pastry line was gaining wonderful sums of money, all of
which, Tom was informed, was to be laid up to go to make up the
sum of his redemption money; Mose and Pete were thriving, and
the baby was trotting all about the house, under the care of Sally
and the family generally.

Tom's cabin was shut up for the present; but George expatiated
brilliantly on ornaments and additions to be made to it when Tom
came back.

The rest of this letter gave a list of George's school
studies, each one headed by a flourishing capital; and also told
the names of four new colts that appeared on the premises since
Tom left; and stated, in the same connection, that father and mother
were well. The style of the letter was decidedly concise and terse;
but Tom thought it the most wonderful specimen of composition that
had appeared in modern times. He was never tired of looking at
it, and even held a council with Eva on the expediency of getting
it framed, to hang up in his room. Nothing but the difficulty of
arranging it so that both sides of the page would show at once
stood in the way of this undertaking.

The friendship between Tom and Eva had grown with the
child's growth. It would be hard to say what place she held in
the soft, impressible heart of her faithful attendant. He loved
her as something frail and earthly, yet almost worshipped her as
something heavenly and divine. He gazed on her as the Italian
sailor gazes on his image of the child Jesus,--with a mixture of
reverence and tenderness; and to humor her graceful fancies, and
meet those thousand simple wants which invest childhood like a
many-colored rainbow, was Tom's chief delight. In the market, at
morning, his eyes were always on the flower-stalls for rare bouquets
for her, and the choicest peach or orange was slipped into his
pocket to give to her when he came back; and the sight that pleased
him most was her sunny head looking out the gate for his distant
approach, and her childish questions,--"Well, Uncle Tom, what have
you got for me today?"

Nor was Eva less zealous in kind offices, in return. Though a
child, she was a beautiful reader;--a fine musical ear, a quick
poetic fancy, and an instinctive sympathy with what's grand and
noble, made her such a reader of the Bible as Tom had never before
heard. At first, she read to please her humble friend; but soon
her own earnest nature threw out its tendrils, and wound itself
around the majestic book; and Eva loved it, because it woke in her
strange yearnings, and strong, dim emotions, such as impassioned,
imaginative children love to feel.

The parts that pleased her most were the Revelations and the
Prophecies,--parts whose dim and wondrous imagery, and fervent
language, impressed her the more, that she questioned vainly of
their meaning;--and she and her simple friend, the old child and
the young one, felt just alike about it. All that they knew was,
that they spoke of a glory to be revealed,--a wondrous something
yet to come, wherein their soul rejoiced, yet knew not why; and
though it be not so in the physical, yet in moral science that
which cannot be understood is not always profitless. For the soul
awakes, a trembling stranger, between two dim eternities,--the
eternal past, the eternal future. The light shines only on a small
space around her; therefore, she needs must yearn towards the
unknown; and the voices and shadowy movings which come to her from
out the cloudy pillar of inspiration have each one echoes and
answers in her own expecting nature. Its mystic imagery are so
many talismans and gems inscribed with unknown hieroglyphics; she
folds them in her bosom, and expects to read them when she passes
beyond the veil.

At this time in our story, the whole St. Clare establishment is,
for the time being, removed to their villa on Lake Pontchartrain.
The heats of summer had driven all who were able to leave the
sultry and unhealthy city, to seek the shores of the lake, and
its cool sea-breezes.

St. Clare's villa was an East Indian cottage, surrounded by
light verandahs of bamboo-work, and opening on all sides into
gardens and pleasure-grounds. The common sitting-room opened on
to a large garden, fragrant with every picturesque plant and flower
of the tropics, where winding paths ran down to the very shores of
the lake, whose silvery sheet of water lay there, rising and falling
in the sunbeams,--a picture never for an hour the same, yet every
hour more beautiful.

It is now one of those intensely golden sunsets which kindles
the whole horizon into one blaze of glory, and makes the water
another sky. The lake lay in rosy or golden streaks, save where
white-winged vessels glided hither and thither, like so many
spirits, and little golden stars twinkled through the glow, and
looked down at themselves as they trembled in the water.

Tom and Eva were seated on a little mossy seat, in an arbor, at
the foot of the garden. It was Sunday evening, and Eva's Bible
lay open on her knee. She read,--"And I saw a sea of glass, mingled
with fire."

"Tom," said Eva, suddenly stopping, and pointing to the lake,
"there 't is."

"What, Miss Eva?"

"Don't you see,--there?" said the child, pointing to the
glassy water, which, as it rose and fell, reflected the golden glow
of the sky. "There's a `sea of glass, mingled with fire.'"

"True enough, Miss Eva," said Tom; and Tom sang--

"O, had I the wings of the morning,
I'd fly away to Canaan's shore;
Bright angels should convey me home,
To the new Jerusalem."

 

"Where do you suppose new Jerusalem is, Uncle Tom?" said Eva.

"O, up in the clouds, Miss Eva."

"Then I think I see it," said Eva. "Look in those clouds!--they
look like great gates of pearl; and you can see beyond them--far,
far off--it's all gold. Tom, sing about `spirits bright.'"

Tom sung the words of a well-known Methodist hymn,

 

"I see a band of spirits bright,
That taste the glories there;
They all are robed in spotless white,
And conquering palms they bear."

 

"Uncle Tom, I've seen _them_," said Eva.

Tom had no doubt of it at all; it did not surprise him in
the least. If Eva had told him she had been to heaven, he would
have thought it entirely probable.

"They come to me sometimes in my sleep, those spirits;"
and Eva's eyes grew dreamy, and she hummed, in a low voice,

 

"They are all robed in spotless white,
And conquering palms they bear."

 

"Uncle Tom," said Eva, "I'm going there."

"Where, Miss Eva?"

The child rose, and pointed her little hand to the sky;
the glow of evening lit her golden hair and flushed cheek with a
kind of unearthly radiance, and her eyes were bent earnestly on
the skies.

"I'm going _there_," she said, "to the spirits bright, Tom;
_I'm going, before long_."

The faithful old heart felt a sudden thrust; and Tom thought
how often he had noticed, within six months, that Eva's little
hands had grown thinner, and her skin more transparent, and her
breath shorter; and how, when she ran or played in the garden,
as she once could for hours, she became soon so tired and languid.
He had heard Miss Ophelia speak often of a cough, that all her
medicaments could not cure; and even now that fervent cheek and
little hand were burning with hectic fever; and yet the thought
that Eva's words suggested had never come to him till now.

Has there ever been a child like Eva? Yes, there have been;
but their names are always on grave-stones, and their sweet smiles,
their heavenly eyes, their singular words and ways, are among the
buried treasures of yearning hearts. In how many families do you
hear the legend that all the goodness and graces of the living are
nothing to the peculiar charms of one who _is not_. It is as if
heaven had an especial band of angels, whose office it was to
sojourn for a season here, and endear to them the wayward human
heart, that they might bear it upward with them in their homeward
flight. When you see that deep, spiritual light in the eye,--when
the little soul reveals itself in words sweeter and wiser than the
ordinary words of children,--hope not to retain that child; for
the seal of heaven is on it, and the light of immortality looks
out from its eyes.

Even so, beloved Eva! fair star of thy dwelling! Thou are
passing away; but they that love thee dearest know it not.

The colloquy between Tom and Eva was interrupted by a hasty
call from Miss Ophelia.

"Eva--Eva!--why, child, the dew is falling; you mustn't be
out there!"

Eva and Tom hastened in.

Miss Ophelia was old, and skilled in the tactics of nursing.
She was from New England, and knew well the first guileful footsteps
of that soft, insidious disease, which sweeps away so many of the
fairest and loveliest, and, before one fibre of life seems broken,
seals them irrevocably for death.

She had noted the slight, dry cough, the daily brightening cheek;
nor could the lustre of the eye, and the airy buoyancy born of
fever, deceive her.

She tried to communicate her fears to St. Clare; but he threw
back her suggestions with a restless petulance, unlike his
usual careless good-humor.

"Don't be croaking, Cousin,--I hate it!" he would say;
"don't you see that the child is only growing. Children always
lose strength when they grow fast."

"But she has that cough!"

"O! nonsense of that cough!--it is not anything. She has
taken a little cold, perhaps."

"Well, that was just the way Eliza Jane was taken, and
Ellen and Maria Sanders."

"O! stop these hobgoblin' nurse legends. You old hands got
so wise, that a child cannot cough, or sneeze, but you see
desperation and ruin at hand. Only take care of the child, keep
her from the night air, and don't let her play too hard, and she'll
do well enough."

So St. Clare said; but he grew nervous and restless. He watched
Eva feverishly day by day, as might be told by the frequency
with which he repeated over that "the child was quite well"--that
there wasn't anything in that cough,--it was only some little
stomach affection, such as children often had. But he kept by her
more than before, took her oftener to ride with him, brought home
every few days some receipt or strengthening mixture,--"not," he
said, "that the child _needed_ it, but then it would not do her
any harm."

If it must be told, the thing that struck a deeper pang to his
heart than anything else was the daily increasing maturity of
the child's mind and feelings. While still retaining all a child's
fanciful graces, yet she often dropped, unconsciously, words of
such a reach of thought, and strange unworldly wisdom, that they
seemed to be an inspiration. At such times, St. Clare would feel
a sudden thrill, and clasp her in his arms, as if that fond clasp
could save her; and his heart rose up with wild determination to
keep her, never to let her go.

The child's whole heart and soul seemed absorbed in works
of love and kindness. Impulsively generous she had always been;
but there was a touching and womanly thoughtfulness about her now,
that every one noticed. She still loved to play with Topsy, and
the various colored children; but she now seemed rather a spectator
than an actor of their plays, and she would sit for half an hour
at a time, laughing at the odd tricks of Topsy,--and then a shadow
would seem to pass across her face, her eyes grew misty, and her
thoughts were afar.

"Mamma," she said, suddenly, to her mother, one day, "why
don't we teach our servants to read?"

"What a question child! People never do."

"Why don't they?" said Eva.

"Because it is no use for them to read. It don't help them
to work any better, and they are not made for anything else."

"But they ought to read the Bible, mamma, to learn God's will."

"O! they can get that read to them all _they_ need."

"It seems to me, mamma, the Bible is for every one to read
themselves. They need it a great many times when there is nobody
to read it."

"Eva, you are an odd child," said her mother.

"Miss Ophelia has taught Topsy to read," continued Eva.

"Yes, and you see how much good it does. Topsy is the
worst creature I ever saw!"

"Here's poor Mammy!" said Eva. "She does love the Bible
so much, and wishes so she could read! And what will she do when
I can't read to her?"

Marie was busy, turning over the contents of a drawer, as
she answered,

"Well, of course, by and by, Eva, you will have other things to
think of besides reading the Bible round to servants. Not but
that is very proper; I've done it myself, when I had health.
But when you come to be dressing and going into company, you won't
have time. See here!" she added, "these jewels I'm going to give
you when you come out. I wore them to my first ball. I can tell
you, Eva, I made a sensation."

Eva took the jewel-case, and lifted from it a diamond necklace.
Her large, thoughtful eyes rested on them, but it was plain her
thoughts were elsewhere.

"How sober you look child!" said Marie.

"Are these worth a great deal of money, mamma?"

"To be sure, they are. Father sent to France for them.
They are worth a small fortune."

"I wish I had them," said Eva, "to do what I pleased with!"

"What would you do with them?"

"I'd sell them, and buy a place in the free states, and take
all our people there, and hire teachers, to teach them to read
and write."

Eva was cut short by her mother's laughing.

"Set up a boarding-school! Wouldn't you teach them to play
on the piano, and paint on velvet?"

"I'd teach them to read their own Bible, and write their own
letters, and read letters that are written to them," said Eva,
steadily. "I know, mamma, it does come very hard on them that they
can't do these things. Tom feels it--Mammy does,--a great many of
them do. I think it's wrong."

"Come, come, Eva; you are only a child! You don't know anything
about these things," said Marie; "besides, your talking makes my
head ache."

Marie always had a headache on hand for any conversation
that did not exactly suit her.

Eva stole away; but after that, she assiduously gave Mammy
reading lessons.

 

 

CHAPTER XXIII

Henrique

 

About this time, St. Clare's brother Alfred, with his eldest son,
a boy of twelve, spent a day or two with the family at the lake.

No sight could be more singular and beautiful than that of these
twin brothers. Nature, instead of instituting resemblances between
them, had made them opposites on every point; yet a mysterious tie
seemed to unite them in a closer friendship than ordinary.

They used to saunter, arm in arm, up and down the alleys
and walks of the garden. Augustine, with his blue eyes and golden
hair, his ethereally flexible form and vivacious features; and
Alfred, dark-eyed, with haughty Roman profile, firmly-knit limbs,
and decided bearing. They were always abusing each other's opinions
and practices, and yet never a whit the less absorbed in each
other's society; in fact, the very contrariety seemed to unite
them, like the attraction between opposite poles of the magnet.

Henrique, the eldest son of Alfred, was a noble, dark-eyed,
princely boy, full of vivacity and spirit; and, from the first
moment of introduction, seemed to be perfectly fascinated by the
spirituelle graces of his cousin Evangeline.

Eva had a little pet pony, of a snowy whiteness. It was
easy as a cradle, and as gentle as its little mistress; and this
pony was now brought up to the back verandah by Tom, while a little
mulatto boy of about thirteen led along a small black Arabian,
which had just been imported, at a great expense, for Henrique.

Henrique had a boy's pride in his new possession; and, as he
advanced and took the reins out of the hands of his little groom,
he looked carefully over him, and his brow darkened.

"What's this, Dodo, you little lazy dog! you haven't rubbed
my horse down, this morning."

"Yes, Mas'r," said Dodo, submissively; "he got that dust
on his own self."

"You rascal, shut your mouth!" said Henrique, violently
raising his riding-whip. "How dare you speak?"

The boy was a handsome, bright-eyed mulatto, of just
Henrique's size, and his curling hair hung round a high, bold
forehead. He had white blood in his veins, as could be seen by
the quick flush in his cheek, and the sparkle of his eye, as he
eagerly tried to speak.

"Mas'r Henrique!--" he began.

Henrique struck him across the face with his riding-whip, and,
seizing one of his arms, forced him on to his knees, and beat
him till he was out of breath.

"There, you impudent dog! Now will you learn not to answer
back when I speak to you? Take the horse back, and clean
him properly. I'll teach you your place!"

"Young Mas'r," said Tom, "I specs what he was gwine to say was,
that the horse would roll when he was bringing him up from
the stable; he's so full of spirits,--that's the way he got that
dirt on him; I looked to his cleaning."

"You hold your tongue till you're asked to speak!" said
Henrique, turning on his heel, and walking up the steps to speak
to Eva, who stood in her riding-dress.

"Dear Cousin, I'm sorry this stupid fellow has kept you
waiting," he said. "Let's sit down here, on this seat till
they come. What's the matter, Cousin?--you look sober."

"How could you be so cruel and wicked to poor Dodo?" asked Eva.

"Cruel,--wicked!" said the boy, with unaffected surprise.
"What do you mean, dear Eva?"

"I don't want you to call me dear Eva, when you do so,"
said Eva.

"Dear Cousin, you don't know Dodo; it's the only way to manage
him, he's so full of lies and excuses. The only way is to put
him down at once,--not let him open his mouth; that's the way
papa manages."

"But Uncle Tom said it was an accident, and he never tells
what isn't true."

"He's an uncommon old nigger, then!" said Henrique. "Dodo will
lie as fast as he can speak."

"You frighten him into deceiving, if you treat him so."

"Why, Eva, you've really taken such a fancy to Dodo, that
I shall be jealous."

"But you beat him,--and he didn't deserve it."

"O, well, it may go for some time when he does, and don't
get it. A few cuts never come amiss with Dodo,--he's a regular
spirit, I can tell you; but I won't beat him again before you, if
it troubles you."

Eva was not satisfied, but found it in vain to try to make
her handsome cousin understand her feelings.

Dodo soon appeared, with the horses.

"Well, Dodo, you've done pretty well, this time," said his
young master, with a more gracious air. "Come, now, and hold Miss
Eva's horse while I put her on to the saddle."

Dodo came and stood by Eva's pony. His face was troubled;
his eyes looked as if he had been crying.

Henrique, who valued himself on his gentlemanly adroitness in
all matters of gallantry, soon had his fair cousin in the saddle,
and, gathering the reins, placed them in her hands.

But Eva bent to the other side of the horse, where Dodo
was standing, and said, as he relinquished the reins,--"That's
a good boy, Dodo;--thank you!"

Dodo looked up in amazement into the sweet young face; the
blood rushed to his cheeks, and the tears to his eyes.

"Here, Dodo," said his master, imperiously.

Dodo sprang and held the horse, while his master mounted.

"There's a picayune for you to buy candy with, Dodo," said
Henrique; "go get some."

And Henrique cantered down the walk after Eva. Dodo stood
looking after the two children. One had given him money; and one
had given him what he wanted far more,--a kind word, kindly spoken.
Dodo had been only a few months away from his mother. His master
had bought him at a slave warehouse, for his handsome face, to be
a match to the handsome pony; and he was now getting his breaking
in, at the hands of his young master.

The scene of the beating had been witnessed by the two
brothers St. Clare, from another part of the garden.

Augustine's cheek flushed; but he only observed, with his
usual sarcastic carelessness.

"I suppose that's what we may call republican education, Alfred?"

"Henrique is a devil of a fellow, when his blood's up,"
said Alfred, carelessly.

"I suppose you consider this an instructive practice for
him," said Augustine, drily.

"I couldn't help it, if I didn't. Henrique is a regular
little tempest;--his mother and I have given him up, long ago.
But, then, that Dodo is a perfect sprite,--no amount of whipping
can hurt him."

"And this by way of teaching Henrique the first verse of
a republican's catechism, `All men are born free and equal!'"

"Poh!" said Alfred; "one of Tom Jefferson's pieces of French
sentiment and humbug. It's perfectly ridiculous to have that going
the rounds among us, to this day."

"I think it is," said St. Clare, significantly.

"Because," said Alfred, "we can see plainly enough that all men
are _not_ born free, nor born equal; they are born anything else.
For my part, I think half this republican talk sheer humbug.
It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the refined, who
ought to have equal rights and not the canaille."

"If you can keep the canaille of that opinion," said Augustine.
"They took _their_ turn once, in France."

"Of course, they must be _kept down_, consistently, steadily,
as I _should_," said Alfred, setting his foot hard down as if he
were standing on somebody.

"It makes a terrible slip when they get up," said
Augustine,--"in St. Domingo, for instance."

"Poh!" said Alfred, "we'll take care of that, in this country.
We must set our face against all this educating, elevating talk,
that is getting about now; the lower class must not be educated."

"That is past praying for," said Augustine; "educated they will
be, and we have only to say how. Our system is educating them
in barbarism and brutality. We are breaking all humanizing ties,
and making them brute beasts; and, if they get the upper hand, such
we shall find them."

"They shall never get the upper hand!" said Alfred.

"That's right," said St. Clare; "put on the steam, fasten
down the escape-valve, and sit on it, and see where you'll land."

"Well," said Alfred, "we _will_ see. I'm not afraid to sit
on the escape-valve, as long as the boilers are strong, and
the machinery works well."

"The nobles in Louis XVI.'s time thought just so; and Austria
and Pius IX. think so now; and, some pleasant morning, you
may all be caught up to meet each other in the air, _when the
boilers burst_."

"_Dies declarabit_," said Alfred, laughing.

"I tell you," said Augustine, "if there is anything that is
revealed with the strength of a divine law in our times, it is that
the masses are to rise, and the under class become the upper one."

"That's one of your red republican humbugs, Augustine! Why didn't
you ever take to the stump;--you'd make a famous stump orator!
Well, I hope I shall be dead before this millennium of your greasy
masses comes on."

"Greasy or not greasy, they will govern _you_, when their
time comes," said Augustine; "and they will be just such rulers as
you make them. The French noblesse chose to have the people `_sans
culottes_,' and they had `_sans culotte_' governors to their hearts'
content. The people of Hayti--"

"O, come, Augustine! as if we hadn't had enough of that abominable,
contemptible Hayti![1] The Haytiens were not Anglo Saxons; if
they had been there would have been another story. The Anglo
Saxon is the dominant race of the world, and _is to be so_."

 

[1] In August 1791, as a consequence of the French Revolution,
the black slaves and mulattoes on Haiti rose in revolt against the
whites, and in the period of turmoil that followed enormous cruelties
were practised by both sides. The "Emperor" Dessalines, come to
power in 1804, massacred all the whites on the island. Haitian
bloodshed became an argument to show the barbarous nature of the
Negro, a doctrine Wendell Phillips sought to combat in his celebrated
lecture on Toussaint L'Ouverture.

 

"Well, there is a pretty fair infusion of Anglo Saxon blood
among our slaves, now," said Augustine. "There are plenty among
them who have only enough of the African to give a sort of tropical
warmth and fervor to our calculating firmness and foresight.
If ever the San Domingo hour comes, Anglo Saxon blood will lead on
the day. Sons of white fathers, with all our haughty feelings
burning in their veins, will not always be bought and sold and
traded. They will rise, and raise with them their mother's race."

"Stuff!--nonsense!"

"Well," said Augustine, "there goes an old saying to this
effect, `As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be;--they ate,
they drank, they planted, they builded, and knew not till the flood
came and took them.'"

"On the whole, Augustine, I think your talents might do for
a circuit rider," said Alfred, laughing. "Never you fear for
us; possession is our nine points. We've got the power. This
subject race," said he, stamping firmly, "is down and shall _stay_
down! We have energy enough to manage our own powder."

"Sons trained like your Henrique will be grand guardians of your
powder-magazines," said Augustine,--"so cool and self-possessed!
The proverb says, "`They that cannot govern themselves cannot
govern others.'"

"There is a trouble there" said Alfred, thoughtfully;
"there's no doubt that our system is a difficult one to train
children under. It gives too free scope to the passions, altogether,
which, in our climate, are hot enough. I find trouble with Henrique.
The boy is generous and warm-hearted, but a perfect fire-cracker
when excited. I believe I shall send him North for his education,
where obedience is more fashionable, and where he will associate
more with equals, and less with dependents."

"Since training children is the staple work of the human race,"
said Augustine, "I should think it something of a consideration
that our system does not work well there."

"It does not for some things," said Alfred; "for others, again,
it does. It makes boys manly and courageous; and the very
vices of an abject race tend to strengthen in them the opposite
virtues. I think Henrique, now, has a keener sense of the beauty
of truth, from seeing lying and deception the universal badge of
slavery."

"A Christian-like view of the subject, certainly!" said Augustine.

"It's true, Christian-like or not; and is about as
Christian-like as most other things in the world," said Alfred.

"That may be," said St. Clare.

"Well, there's no use in talking, Augustine. I believe we've
been round and round this old track five hundred times, more
or less. What do you say to a game of backgammon?"

The two brothers ran up the verandah steps, and were soon seated
at a light bamboo stand, with the backgammon-board between them.
As they were setting their men, Alfred said,

"I tell you, Augustine, if I thought as you do, I should
do something."

"I dare say you would,--you are one of the doing sort,--but what?"

"Why, elevate your own servants, for a specimen," said Alfred,
with a half-scornful smile.

"You might as well set Mount AEtna on them flat, and tell
them to stand up under it, as tell me to elevate my servants under
all the superincumbent mass of society upon them. One man can do
nothing, against the whole action of a community. Education, to
do anything, must be a state education; or there must be enough
agreed in it to make a current."

"You take the first throw," said Alfred; and the brothers
were soon lost in the game, and heard no more till the scraping of
horses' feet was heard under the verandah.

"There come the children," said Augustine, rising. "Look here,
Alf! Did you ever see anything so beautiful?" And, in truth,
it _was_ a beautiful sight. Henrique, with his bold brow, and
dark, glossy curls, and glowing cheek, was laughing gayly as he
bent towards his fair cousin, as they came on. She was dressed in
a blue riding dress, with a cap of the same color. Exercise had
given a brilliant hue to her cheeks, and heightened the effect of
her singularly transparent skin, and golden hair.

"Good heavens! what perfectly dazzling beauty!" said Alfred.
"I tell you, Auguste, won't she make some hearts ache, one of
these days?"

"She will, too truly,--God knows I'm afraid so!" said St.
Clare, in a tone of sudden bitterness, as he hurried down to take
her off her horse.

"Eva darling! you're not much tired?" he said, as he clasped
her in his arms.

"No, papa," said the child; but her short, hard breathing
alarmed her father.

"How could you ride so fast, dear?--you know it's bad for you."

"I felt so well, papa, and liked it so much, I forgot."

St. Clare carried her in his arms into the parlor, and laid
her on the sofa.

"Henrique, you must be careful of Eva," said he; "you
mustn't ride fast with her."

"I'll take her under my care," said Henrique, seating
himself by the sofa, and taking Eva's hand.

Eva soon found herself much better. Her father and uncle
resumed their game, and the children were left together.

"Do you know, Eva, I'm sorry papa is only going to stay two
days here, and then I shan't see you again for ever so long!
If I stay with you, I'd try to be good, and not be cross to Dodo,
and so on. I don't mean to treat Dodo ill; but, you know, I've
got such a quick temper. I'm not really bad to him, though.
I give him a picayune, now and then; and you see he dresses well.
I think, on the whole, Dodo 's pretty well off."

"Would you think you were well off, if there were not one creature
in the world near you to love you?"

"I?--Well, of course not."

"And you have taken Dodo away from all the friends he ever had,
and now he has not a creature to love him;--nobody can be good
that way."

"Well, I can't help it, as I know of. I can't get his mother
and I can't love him myself, nor anybody else, as I know of."

"Why can't you?" said Eva.

"_Love_ Dodo! Why, Eva, you wouldn't have me! I may _like_
him well enough; but you don't _love_ your servants."

"I do, indeed."

"How odd!"

"Don't the Bible say we must love everybody?"

"O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many such things; but,
then, nobody ever thinks of doing them,--you know, Eva, nobody does."

Eva did not speak; her eyes were fixed and thoughtful for
a few moments.

"At any rate," she said, "dear Cousin, do love poor Dodo,
and be kind to him, for my sake!"

"I could love anything, for your sake, dear Cousin; for I
really think you are the loveliest creature that I ever saw!"
And Henrique spoke with an earnestness that flushed his handsome face.
Eva received it with perfect simplicity, without even a change of
feature; merely saying, "I'm glad you feel so, dear Henrique!
I hope you will remember."

The dinner-bell put an end to the interview.

 

 

CHAPTER XXIV

Foreshadowings

 

Two days after this, Alfred St. Clare and Augustine parted;
and Eva, who had been stimulated, by the society of her young
cousin, to exertions beyond her strength, began to fail rapidly.
St. Clare was at last willing to call in medical advice,--a thing
from which he had always shrunk, because it was the admission of
an unwelcome truth.

But, for a day or two, Eva was so unwell as to be confined
to the house; and the doctor was called.

Marie St. Clare had taken no notice of the child's gradually
decaying health and strength, because she was completely absorbed
in studying out two or three new forms of disease to which she
believed she herself was a victim. It was the first principle of
Marie's belief that nobody ever was or could be so great a sufferer
as _herself_; and, therefore, she always repelled quite indignantly
any suggestion that any one around her could be sick. She was
always sure, in such a case, that it was nothing but laziness, or
want of energy; and that, if they had had the suffering _she_ had,
they would soon know the difference.

Miss Ophelia had several times tried to awaken her maternal
fears about Eva; but to no avail.

"I don't see as anything ails the child," she would say;
"she runs about, and plays."

"But she has a cough."

"Cough! you don't need to tell _me_ about a cough. I've always
been subject to a cough, all my days. When I was of Eva's age,
they thought I was in a consumption. Night after night, Mammy
used to sit up with me. O! Eva's cough is not anything."

"But she gets weak, and is short-breathed."

"Law! I've had that, years and years; it's only a nervous affection."

"But she sweats so, nights!"

"Well, I have, these ten years. Very often, night after night,
my clothes will be wringing wet. There won't be a dry thread
in my night-clothes and the sheets will be so that Mammy has to
hang them up to dry! Eva doesn't sweat anything like that!"

Miss Ophelia shut her mouth for a season. But, now that Eva
was fairly and visibly prostrated, and a doctor called, Marie,
all on a sudden, took a new turn.

"She knew it," she said; "she always felt it, that she was
destined to be the most miserable of mothers. Here she was, with
her wretched health, and her only darling child going down to the
grave before her eyes;"--and Marie routed up Mammy nights, and
rumpussed and scolded, with more energy than ever, all day, on the
strength of this new misery.

"My dear Marie, don't talk so!" said St. Clare. You ought
not to give up the case so, at once."

"You have not a mother's feelings, St. Clare! You never
could understand me!--you don't now."

"But don't talk so, as if it were a gone case!"

"I can't take it as indifferently as you can, St. Clare.
If _you_ don't feel when your only child is in this alarming state,
I do. It's a blow too much for me, with all I was bearing before."

"It's true," said St. Clare, "that Eva is very delicate,
_that_ I always knew; and that she has grown so rapidly as to
exhaust her strength; and that her situation is critical. But just
now she is only prostrated by the heat of the weather, and by the
excitement of her cousin's visit, and the exertions she made.
The physician says there is room for hope."

"Well, of course, if you can look on the bright side, pray do;
it's a mercy if people haven't sensitive feelings, in this world.
I am sure I wish I didn't feel as I do; it only makes me completely
wretched! I wish I _could_ be as easy as the rest of you!"

And the "rest of them" had good reason to breathe the same
prayer, for Marie paraded her new misery as the reason and apology
for all sorts of inflictions on every one about her. Every word
that was spoken by anybody, everything that was done or was not
done everywhere, was only a new proof that she was surrounded by
hard-hearted, insensible beings, who were unmindful of her peculiar
sorrows. Poor Eva heard some of these speeches; and nearly cried
her little eyes out, in pity for her mamma, and in sorrow that she
should make her so much distress.

In a week or two, there was a great improvement of
symptoms,--one of those deceitful lulls, by which her inexorable
disease so often beguiles the anxious heart, even on the verge of
the grave. Eva's step was again in the garden,--in the balconies;
she played and laughed again,--and her father, in a transport,
declared that they should soon have her as hearty as anybody. Miss
Ophelia and the physician alone felt no encouragement from this
illusive truce. There was one other heart, too, that felt the same
certainty, and that was the little heart of Eva. What is it that
sometimes speaks in the soul so calmly, so clearly, that its earthly
time is short? Is it the secret instinct of decaying nature, or
the soul's impulsive throb, as immortality draws on? Be it what it
may, it rested in the heart of Eva, a calm, sweet, prophetic
certainty that Heaven was near; calm as the light of sunset, sweet
as the bright stillness of autumn, there her little heart reposed,
only troubled by sorrow for those who loved her so dearly.

For the child, though nursed so tenderly, and though life was
unfolding before her with every brightness that love and wealth
could give, had no regret for herself in dying.

In that book which she and her simple old friend had read
so much together, she had seen and taken to her young heart the
image of one who loved the little child; and, as she gazed and
mused, He had ceased to be an image and a picture of the distant
past, and come to be a living, all-surrounding reality. His love
enfolded her childish heart with more than mortal tenderness; and
it was to Him, she said, she was going, and to his home.

But her heart yearned with sad tenderness for all that she
was to leave behind. Her father most,--for Eva, though she never
distinctly thought so, had an instinctive perception that she was
more in his heart than any other. She loved her mother because
she was so loving a creature, and all the selfishness that she had
seen in her only saddened and perplexed her; for she had a child's
implicit trust that her mother could not do wrong. There was
something about her that Eva never could make out; and she always
smoothed it over with thinking that, after all, it was mamma, and
she loved her very dearly indeed.

She felt, too, for those fond, faithful servants, to whom she was
as daylight and sunshine. Children do not usually generalize;
but Eva was an uncommonly mature child, and the things that she
had witnessed of the evils of the system under which they were
living had fallen, one by one, into the depths of her thoughtful,
pondering heart. She had vague longings to do something for
them,--to bless and save not only them, but all in their
condition,--longings that contrasted sadly with the feebleness of
her little frame.

"Uncle Tom," she said, one day, when she was reading to
her friend, "I can understand why Jesus _wanted_ to die for us."

"Why, Miss Eva?"

"Because I've felt so, too."

"What is it Miss Eva?--I don't understand."

"I can't tell you; but, when I saw those poor creatures on
the boat, you know, when you came up and I,--some had lost their
mothers, and some their husbands, and some mothers cried for their
little children--and when I heard about poor Prue,--oh, wasn't that
dreadful!--and a great many other times, I've felt that I would be
glad to die, if my dying could stop all this misery. _I would_
die for them, Tom, if I could," said the child, earnestly, laying
her little thin hand on his.

Tom looked at the child with awe; and when she, hearing her
father's voice, glided away, he wiped his eyes many times, as
he looked after her.

"It's jest no use tryin' to keep Miss Eva here," he said to
Mammy, whom he met a moment after. "She's got the Lord's mark
in her forehead."

"Ah, yes, yes," said Mammy, raising her hands; "I've allers
said so. She wasn't never like a child that's to live--there was
allers something deep in her eyes. I've told Missis so, many the
time; it's a comin' true,--we all sees it,--dear, little, blessed lamb!"

Eva came tripping up the verandah steps to her father. It was
late in the afternoon, and the rays of the sun formed a kind
of glory behind her, as she came forward in her white dress, with
her golden hair and glowing cheeks, her eyes unnaturally bright
with the slow fever that burned in her veins.

St. Clare had called her to show a statuette that he had been
buying for her; but her appearance, as she came on, impressed
him suddenly and painfully. There is a kind of beauty so intense,
yet so fragile, that we cannot bear to look at it. Her father
folded her suddenly in his arms, and almost forgot what he was
going to tell her.

"Eva, dear, you are better now-a-days,--are you not?"

"Papa," said Eva, with sudden firmness "I've had things I
wanted to say to you, a great while. I want to say them
now, before I get weaker."

St. Clare trembled as Eva seated herself in his lap. She laid
her head on his bosom, and said,

"It's all no use, papa, to keep it to myself any longer.
The time is coming that I am going to leave you. I am going, and
never to come back!" and Eva sobbed.

"O, now, my dear little Eva!" said St. Clare, trembling as
he spoke, but speaking cheerfully, "you've got nervous and
low-spirited; you mustn't indulge such gloomy thoughts. See here,
I've bought a statuette for you!"

"No, papa," said Eva, putting it gently away, "don't deceive
yourself!--I am _not_ any better, I know it perfectly well,--and
I am going, before long. I am not nervous,--I am not low-spirited.
If it were not for you, papa, and my friends, I should be perfectly
happy. I want to go,--I long to go!"

"Why, dear child, what has made your poor little heart so sad?
You have had everything, to make you happy, that could be
given you."

"I had rather be in heaven; though, only for my friends'
sake, I would be willing to live. There are a great many things
here that make me sad, that seem dreadful to me; I had rather be
there; but I don't want to leave you,--it almost breaks my heart!"

"What makes you sad, and seems dreadful, Eva?"

"O, things that are done, and done all the time. I feel sad
for our poor people; they love me dearly, and they are all good
and kind to me. I wish, papa, they were all _free_."

"Why, Eva, child, don't you think they are well enough off now?"

"O, but, papa, if anything should happen to you, what would
become of them? There are very few men like you, papa. Uncle Alfred
isn't like you, and mamma isn't; and then, think of poor old Prue's
owners! What horrid things people do, and can do!" and Eva shuddered.

"My dear child, you are too sensitive. I'm sorry I ever
let you hear such stories."

"O, that's what troubles me, papa. You want me to live so
happy, and never to have any pain,--never suffer anything,--not
even hear a sad story, when other poor creatures have nothing but
pain and sorrow, an their lives;--it seems selfish. I ought to
know such things, I ought to feel about them! Such things always
sunk into my heart; they went down deep; I've thought and thought
about them. Papa, isn't there any way to have all slaves made free?"

"That's a difficult question, dearest. There's no doubt that
this way is a very bad one; a great many people think so; I
do myself I heartily wish that there were not a slave in the land;
but, then, I don't know what is to be done about it!"

"Papa, you are such a good man, and so noble, and kind,
and you always have a way of saying things that is so pleasant,
couldn't you go all round and try to persuade people to do right
about this? When I am dead, papa, then you will think of me, and
do it for my sake. I would do it, if I could."

"When you are dead, Eva," said St. Clare, passionately.
"O, child, don't talk to me so! You are all I have on earth."

"Poor old Prue's child was all that she had,--and yet she
had to hear it crying, and she couldn't help it! Papa, these poor
creatures love their children as much as you do me. O! do something
for them! There's poor Mammy loves her children; I've seen her cry
when she talked about them. And Tom loves his children; and it's
dreadful, papa, that such things are happening, all the time!"

"There, there, darling," said St. Clare, soothingly; "only don't
distress yourself, don't talk of dying, and I will do anything
you wish."

"And promise me, dear father, that Tom shall have his freedom
as soon as"--she stopped, and said, in a hesitating tone--"I
am gone!"

"Yes, dear, I will do anything in the world,--anything you
could ask me to."

"Dear papa," said the child, laying her burning cheek
against his, "how I wish we could go together!"

"Where, dearest?" said St. Clare.

"To our Saviour's home; it's so sweet and peaceful there--it
is all so loving there!" The child spoke unconsciously, as of a
place where she had often been. "Don't you want to go, papa?"
she said.

St. Clare drew her closer to him, but was silent.

"You will come to me," said the child, speaking in a voice
of calm certainty which she often used unconsciously.

"I shall come after you. I shall not forget you."

The shadows of the solemn evening closed round them deeper and
deeper, as St. Clare sat silently holding the little frail form
to his bosom. He saw no more the deep eyes, but the voice came
over him as a spirit voice, and, as in a sort of judgment vision,
his whole past life rose in a moment before his eyes: his mother's
prayers and hymns; his own early yearnings and aspirings for good;
and, between them and this hour, years of worldliness and scepticism,
and what man calls respectable living. We can think _much_, very
much, in a moment. St. Clare saw and felt many things, but spoke
nothing; and, as it grew darker, he took his child to her bed-room;
and, when she was prepared for rest; he sent away the attendants,
and rocked her in his arms, and sung to her till she was asleep.

 

 

CHAPTER XXV

The Little Evangelist

It was Sunday afternoon. St. Clare was stretched on a bamboo lounge
in the verandah, solacing himself with a cigar. Marie lay reclined
on a sofa, opposite the window opening on the verandah, closely
secluded, under an awning of transparent gauze, from the outrages
of the mosquitos, and languidly holding in her hand an elegantly
bound prayer-book. She was holding it because it was Sunday, and
she imagined she had been reading it,--though, in fact, she had
been only taking a succession of short naps, with it open in her hand.

Miss Ophelia, who, after some rummaging, had hunted up a small
Methodist meeting within riding distance, had gone out, with
Tom as driver, to attend it; and Eva had accompanied them.

"I say, Augustine," said Marie after dozing a while, "I must
send to the city after my old Doctor Posey; I'm sure I've got
the complaint of the heart."

"Well; why need you send for him? This doctor that attends
Eva seems skilful."

"I would not trust him in a critical case," said Marie;
"and I think I may say mine is becoming so! I've been thinking of
it, these two or three nights past; I have such distressing pains,
and such strange feelings."

"O, Marie, you are blue; I don't believe it's heart complaint."

"I dare say _you_ don't," said Marie; "I was prepared to
expect _that_. You can be alarmed enough, if Eva coughs, or has
the least thing the matter with her; but you never think of me."

"If it's particularly agreeable to you to have heart disease,
why, I'll try and maintain you have it," said St. Clare; "I didn't
know it was."

"Well, I only hope you won't be sorry for this, when it's
too late!" said Marie; "but, believe it or not, my distress about
Eva, and the exertions I have made with that dear child, have
developed what I have long suspected."

What the _exertions_ were which Marie referred to, it would
have been difficult to state. St. Clare quietly made this commentary
to himself, and went on smoking, like a hard-hearted wretch of a
man as he was, till a carriage drove up before the verandah, and
Eva and Miss Ophelia alighted.

Miss Ophelia marched straight to her own chamber, to put
away her bonnet and shawl, as was always her manner, before she
spoke a word on any subject; while Eva came, at St: Clare's call,
and was sitting on his knee, giving him an account of the services
they had heard.

They soon heard loud exclamations from Miss Ophelia's room,
which, like the one in which they were sitting, opened on to the
verandah and violent reproof addressed to somebody.

"What new witchcraft has Tops been brewing?" asked St. Clare.
"That commotion is of her raising, I'll be bound!"

And, in a moment after, Miss Ophelia, in high indignation,
came dragging the culprit along.

"Come out here, now!" she said. "I _will_ tell your master!"

"What's the case now?" asked Augustine.

"The case is, that I cannot be plagued with this child,
any longer! It's past all bearing; flesh and blood cannot
endure it! Here, I locked her up, and gave her a hymn to
study; and what does she do, but spy out where I put my key, and
has gone to my bureau, and got a bonnet-trimming, and cut it all
to pieces to make dolls'jackets! I never saw anything like it,
in my life!"

"I told you, Cousin," said Marie, "that you'd find out that
these creatures can't be brought up without severity. If I had
_my_ way, now," she said, looking reproachfully at St. Clare, "I'd
send that child out, and have her thoroughly whipped; I'd have her
whipped till she couldn't stand!"

"I don't doubt it," said St. Clare. "Tell me of the lovely
rule of woman! I never saw above a dozen women that wouldn't half
kill a horse, or a servant, either, if they had their own way with
them!--let alone a man."

"There is no use in this shilly-shally way of yours, St. Clare!"
said Marie. "Cousin is a woman of sense, and she sees it now,
as plain as I do."

Miss Ophelia had just the capability of indignation that belongs
to the thorough-paced housekeeper, and this had been pretty
actively roused by the artifice and wastefulness of the child; in
fact, many of my lady readers must own that they should have felt
just so in her circumstances; but Marie's words went beyond her,
and she felt less heat.

"I wouldn't have the child treated so, for the world," she
said; "but, I am sure, Augustine, I don't know what to do. I've
taught and taught; I've talked till I'm tired; I've whipped her;
I've punished her in every way I can think of, and she's just what
she was at first."

"Come here, Tops, you monkey!" said St. Clare, calling the
child up to him.

Topsy came up; her round, hard eyes glittering and blinking
with a mixture of apprehensiveness and their usual odd drollery.

"What makes you behave so?" said St. Clare, who could not help
being amused with the child's expression.

"Spects it's my wicked heart," said Topsy, demurely; "Miss
Feely says so."

"Don't you see how much Miss Ophelia has done for you? She says
she has done everything she can think of."

"Lor, yes, Mas'r! old Missis used to say so, too. She whipped
me a heap harder, and used to pull my har, and knock my head
agin the door; but it didn't do me no good! I spects, if they
's to pull every spire o' har out o' my head, it wouldn't do no
good, neither,--I 's so wicked! Laws! I 's nothin but a nigger,
no ways!"

"Well, I shall have to give her up," said Miss Ophelia; "I can't
have that trouble any longer."

"Well, I'd just like to ask one question," said St. Clare.

"What is it?"

"Why, if your Gospel is not strong enough to save one
heathen child, that you can have at home here, all to yourself,
what's the use of sending one or two poor missionaries off with it
among thousands of just such? I suppose this child is about a fair
sample of what thousands of your heathen are."

Miss Ophelia did not make an immediate answer; and Eva,
who had stood a silent spectator of the scene thus far, made a
silent sign to Topsy to follow her. There was a little glass-room
at the corner of the verandah, which St. Clare used as a sort of
reading-room; and Eva and Topsy disappeared into this place.

"What's Eva going about, now?" said St. Clare; "I mean to see."

And, advancing on tiptoe, he lifted up a curtain that
covered the glass-door, and looked in. In a moment, laying his
finger on his lips, he made a silent gesture to Miss Ophelia to
come and look. There sat the two children on the floor, with their
side faces towards them. Topsy, with her usual air of careless
drollery and unconcern; but, opposite to her, Eva, her whole face
fervent with feeling, and tears in her large eyes.

"What does make you so bad, Topsy? Why won't you try and
be good? Don't you love _anybody_, Topsy?"

"Donno nothing 'bout love; I loves candy and sich, that's all,"
said Topsy.

"But you love your father and mother?"

"Never had none, ye know. I telled ye that, Miss Eva."

"O, I know," said Eva, sadly; "but hadn't you any brother,
or sister, or aunt, or--"

"No, none on 'em,--never had nothing nor nobody."

"But, Topsy, if you'd only try to be good, you might--"

"Couldn't never be nothin' but a nigger, if I was ever so
good," said Topsy. "If I could be skinned, and come white, I'd
try then."

"But people can love you, if you are black, Topsy. Miss Ophelia
would love you, if you were good."

Topsy gave the short, blunt laugh that was her common mode
of expressing incredulity.

"Don't you think so?" said Eva.

"No; she can't bar me, 'cause I'm a nigger!--she'd 's soon
have a toad touch her! There can't nobody love niggers, and niggers
can't do nothin'! _I_ don't care," said Topsy, beginning to whistle.

"O, Topsy, poor child, _I_ love you!" said Eva, with a sudden
burst of feeling, and laying her little thin, white hand on
Topsy's shoulder; "I love you, because you haven't had any father,
or mother, or friends;--because you've been a poor, abused child!
I love you, and I want you to be good. I am very unwell, Topsy,
and I think I shan't live a great while; and it really grieves me,
to have you be so naughty. I wish you would try to be good, for
my sake;--it's only a little while I shall be with you."

The round, keen eyes of the black child were overcast with
tears;--large, bright drops rolled heavily down, one by one,
and fell on the little white hand. Yes, in that moment, a
ray of real belief, a ray of heavenly love, had penetrated the
darkness of her heathen soul! She laid her head down between her
knees, and wept and sobbed,--while the beautiful child, bending
over her, looked like the picture of some bright angel stooping to
reclaim a sinner.

"Poor Topsy!" said Eva, "don't you know that Jesus loves
all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me. He loves you
just as I do,--only more, because he is better. He will help you
to be good; and you can go to Heaven at last, and be an angel
forever, just as much as if you were white. Only think of it,
Topsy!--_you_ can be one of those spirits bright, Uncle Tom
sings about."

"O, dear Miss Eva, dear Miss Eva!" said the child; "I will try,
I will try; I never did care nothin' about it before."

St. Clare, at this instant, dropped the curtain. "It puts me
in mind of mother," he said to Miss Ophelia. "It is true what
she told me; if we want to give sight to the blind, we must be
willing to do as Christ did,--call them to us, and _put our hands
on them_."

"I've always had a prejudice against negroes," said Miss
Ophelia, "and it's a fact, I never could bear to have that child
touch me; but, I don't think she knew it."

"Trust any child to find that out," said St. Clare; "there's
no keeping it from them. But I believe that all the trying in the
world to benefit a child, and all the substantial favors you can
do them, will never excite one emotion of gratitude, while that
feeling of repugnance remains in the heart;--it's a queer kind of
a fact,--but so it is."

"I don't know how I can help it," said Miss Ophelia; "they
_are_ disagreeable to me,--this child in particular,--how can I
help feeling so?"

"Eva does, it seems."

"Well, she's so loving! After all, though, she's no more
than Christ-like," said Miss Ophelia; "I wish I were like her.
She might teach me a lesson."

"It wouldn't be the first time a little child had been used
to instruct an old disciple, if it _were_ so," said St. Clare.

 

 

CHAPTER XXVI

Death

Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb,
In life's early morning, hath hid from our eyes.[1]

 

[1] "Weep Not for Those," a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852).

 

Eva's bed-room was a spacious apartment, which, like all the
other robins in the house, opened on to the broad verandah.
The room communicated, on one side, with her father and mother's
apartment; on the other, with that appropriated to Miss Ophelia.
St. Clare had gratified his own eye and taste, in furnishing this
room in a style that had a peculiar keeping with the character of
her for whom it was intended. The windows were hung with curtains
of rose-colored and white muslin, the floor was spread with a
matting which had been ordered in Paris, to a pattern of his own
device, having round it a border of rose-buds and leaves, and a
centre-piece with full-flown roses. The bedstead, chairs, and
lounges, were of bamboo, wrought in peculiarly graceful and fanciful
patterns. Over the head of the bed was an alabaster bracket, on
which a beautiful sculptured angel stood, with drooping wings,
holding out a crown of myrtle-leaves. From this depended, over
the bed, light curtains of rose-colored gauze, striped with silver,
supplying that protection from mosquitos which is an indispensable
addition to all sleeping accommodation in that climate. The graceful
bamboo lounges were amply supplied with cushions of rose-colored
damask, while over them, depending from the hands of sculptured
figures, were gauze curtains similar to those of the bed. A light,
fanciful bamboo table stood in the middle of the room, where a
Parian vase, wrought in the shape of a white lily, with its buds,
stood, ever filled with flowers. On this table lay Eva's books and
little trinkets, with an elegantly wrought alabaster writing-stand,
which her father had supplied to her when he saw her trying to
improve herself in writing. There was a fireplace in the room,
and on the marble mantle above stood a beautifully wrought
statuette of Jesus receiving little children, and on either side
marble vases, for which it was Tom's pride and delight to offer
bouquets every morning. Two or three exquisite paintings of
children, in various attitudes, embellished the wall. In short,
the eye could turn nowhere without meeting images of childhood,
of beauty, and of peace. Those little eyes never opened, in the
morning light, without falling on something which suggested to the
heart soothing and beautiful thoughts.

The deceitful strength which had buoyed Eva up for a little
while was fast passing away; seldom and more seldom her light
footstep was heard in the verandah, and oftener and oftener she
was found reclined on a little lounge by the open window, her large,
deep eyes fixed on the rising and falling waters of the lake.

It was towards the middle of the afternoon, as she was so
reclining,--her Bible half open, her little transparent fingers
lying listlessly between the leaves,--suddenly she heard her mother's
voice, in sharp tones, in the verandah.

"What now, you baggage!--what new piece of mischief! You've been
picking the flowers, hey?" and Eva heard the sound of a smart slap.

"Law, Missis! they 's for Miss Eva," she heard a voice say,
which she knew belonged to Topsy.

"Miss Eva! A pretty excuse!--you suppose she wants _your_
flowers, you good-for-nothing nigger! Get along off with you!"

In a moment, Eva was off from her lounge, and in the verandah.

"O, don't, mother! I should like the flowers; do give them
to me; I want them!"

"Why, Eva, your room is full now."

"I can't have too many," said Eva. "Topsy, do bring them here."

Topsy, who had stood sullenly, holding down her head, now came
up and offered her flowers. She did it with a look of hesitation
and bashfulness, quite unlike the eldrich boldness and brightness
which was usual with her.

"It's a beautiful bouquet!" said Eva, looking at it.

It was rather a singular one,--a brilliant scarlet geranium,
and one single white japonica, with its glossy leaves. It was tied
up with an evident eye to the contrast of color, and the arrangement
of every leaf had carefully been studied.

Topsy looked pleased, as Eva said,--"Topsy, you arrange
flowers very prettily. Here," she said, "is this vase I haven't
any flowers for. I wish you'd arrange something every day for it."

"Well, that's odd!" said Marie. "What in the world do you
want that for?"

"Never mind, mamma; you'd as lief as not Topsy should do
it,--had you not?"

"Of course, anything you please, dear! Topsy, you hear your
young mistress;--see that you mind."

Topsy made a short courtesy, and looked down; and, as she
turned away, Eva saw a tear roll down her dark cheek.

"You see, mamma, I knew poor Topsy wanted to do something
for me," said Eva to her mother.

"O, nonsense! it's only because she likes to do mischief.
She knows she mustn't pick flowers,--so she does it; that's all
there is to it. But, if you fancy to have her pluck them, so be it."

"Mamma, I think Topsy is different from what she used to be;
she's trying to be a good girl."

"She'll have to try a good while before _she_ gets to be good,"
said Marie, with a careless laugh.

"Well, you know, mamma, poor Topsy! everything has always
been against her."

"Not since she's been here, I'm sure. If she hasn't been
talked to, and preached to, and every earthly thing done that
anybody could do;--and she's just so ugly, and always will be; you
can't make anything of the creature!"

"But, mamma, it's so different to be brought up as I've been,
with so many friends, so many things to make me good and
happy; and to be brought up as she's been, all the time, till she
came here!"

"Most likely," said Marie, yawning,--"dear me, how hot it is!"

"Mamma, you believe, don't you, that Topsy could become an
angel, as well as any of us, if she were a Christian?"

"Topsy! what a ridiculous idea! Nobody but you would ever
think of it. I suppose she could, though."

"But, mamma, isn't God her father, as much as ours? Isn't
Jesus her Saviour?"

"Well, that may be. I suppose God made everybody," said Marie.
"Where is my smelling-bottle?"

"It's such a pity,--oh! _such_ a pity!" said Eva, looking
out on the distant lake, and speaking half to herself.

"What's a pity?" said Marie.

"Why, that any one, who could be a bright angel, and live with
angels, should go all down, down down, and nobody help them!--oh dear!"

"Well, we can't help it; it's no use worrying, Eva! I don't
know what's to be done; we ought to be thankful for our own
advantages."

"I hardly can be," said Eva, "I'm so sorry to think of poor
folks that haven't any."

That's odd enough," said Marie;-- "I'm sure my religion
makes me thankful for my advantages."

"Mamma," said Eva, "I want to have some of my hair cut
off,--a good deal of it."

"What for?" said Marie.

"Mamma, I want to give some away to my friends, while I am
able to give it to them myself. Won't you ask aunty to come and
cut it for me?"

Marie raised her voice, and called Miss Ophelia, from the
other room.

The child half rose from her pillow as she came in, and,
shaking down her long golden-brown curls, said, rather playfully,
"Come aunty, shear the sheep!"

"What's that?" said St. Clare, who just then entered with
some fruit he had been out to get for her.

"Papa, I just want aunty to cut off some of my hair;--there's
too much of it, and it makes my head hot. Besides, I want to give
some of it away."

Miss Ophelia came, with her scissors.

"Take care,--don't spoil the looks of it!" said her father;
"cut underneath, where it won't show. Eva's curls are my pride."

"O, papa!" said Eva, sadly.

"Yes, and I want them kept handsome against the time I take
you up to your uncle's plantation, to see Cousin Henrique," said
St. Clare, in a gay tone.

"I shall never go there, papa;--I am going to a better country.
O, do believe me! Don't you see, papa, that I get weaker,
every day?"

"Why do you insist that I shall believe such a cruel thing,
Eva?" said her father.

"Only because it is _true_, papa: and, if you will believe
it now, perhaps you will get to feel about it as I do."

St. Clare closed his lips, and stood gloomily eying the long,
beautiful curls, which, as they were separated from the child's
head, were laid, one by one, in her lap. She raised them up,
looked earnestly at them, twined them around her thin fingers,
and looked from time to time, anxiously at her father.

"It's just what I've been foreboding!" said Marie; "it's just
what has been preying on my health, from day to day, bringing
me downward to the grave, though nobody regards it. I have seen
this, long. St. Clare, you will see, after a while, that I was right."

"Which will afford you great consolation, no doubt!" said
St. Clare, in a dry, bitter tone.

Marie lay back on a lounge, and covered her face with her
cambric handkerchief.

Eva's clear blue eye looked earnestly from one to the other.
It was the calm, comprehending gaze of a soul half loosed from its
earthly bonds; it was evident she saw, felt, and appreciated, the
difference between the two.

She beckoned with her hand to her father. He came and sat
down by her.

"Papa, my strength fades away every day, and I know I must go.
There are some things I want to say and do,--that I ought to do;
and you are so unwilling to have me speak a word on this subject.
But it must come; there's no putting it off. Do be willing I should
speak now!"

"My child, I _am_ willing!" said St. Clare, covering his
eyes with one hand, and holding up Eva's hand with the other.

"Then, I want to see all our people together. I have some
things I _must_ say to them," said Eva.

"_Well_," said St. Clare, in a tone of dry endurance.

Miss Ophelia despatched a messenger, and soon the whole of
the servants were convened in the room.

Eva lay back on her pillows; her hair hanging loosely about
her face, her crimson cheeks contrasting painfully with the
intense whiteness of her complexion and the thin contour of her
limbs and features, and her large, soul-like eyes fixed earnestly
on every one.

The servants were struck with a sudden emotion. The spiritual
face, the long locks of hair cut off and lying by her, her
father's averted face, and Marie's sobs, struck at once upon
the feelings of a sensitive and impressible race; and, as they came
in, they looked one on another, sighed, and shook their heads.
There was a deep silence, like that of a funeral.

Eva raised herself, and looked long and earnestly round at
every one. All looked sad and apprehensive. Many of the women
hid their faces in their aprons.

"I sent for you all, my dear friends," said Eva, "because I
love you. I love you all; and I have something to say to you,
which I want you always to remember. . . . I am going to leave you.
In a few more weeks you will see me no more--"

Here the child was interrupted by bursts of groans, sobs, and
lamentations, which broke from all present, and in which her
slender voice was lost entirely. She waited a moment, and then,
speaking in a tone that checked the sobs of all, she said,

"If you love me, you must not interrupt me so. Listen to what
I say. I want to speak to you about your souls. . . . Many of
you, I am afraid, are very careless. You are thinking only about
this world. I want you to remember that there is a beautiful world,
where Jesus is. I am going there, and you can go there. It is for
you, as much as me. But, if you want to go there, you must not
live idle, careless, thoughtless lives. You must be Christians.
You must remember that each one of you can become angels, and be
angels forever. . . . If you want to be Christians, Jesus will
help you. You must pray to him; you must read--"

The child checked herself, looked piteously at them, and
said, sorrowfully,

"O dear! you _can't_ read--poor souls!" and she hid her face in
the pillow and sobbed, while many a smothered sob from those she
was addressing, who were kneeling on the floor, aroused her.

"Never mind," she said, raising her face and smiling brightly
through her tears, "I have prayed for you; and I know Jesus will
help you, even if you can't read. Try all to do the best you can;
pray every day; ask Him to help you, and get the Bible read to you
whenever you can; and I think I shall see you all in heaven."

"Amen," was the murmured response from the lips of Tom and
Mammy, and some of the elder ones, who belonged to the Methodist
church. The younger and more thoughtless ones, for the time
completely overcome, were sobbing, with their heads bowed upon
their knees.

"I know," said Eva, "you all love me."

"Yes; oh, yes! indeed we do! Lord bless her!" was the
involuntary answer of all.

"Yes, I know you do! There isn't one of you that hasn't always
been very kind to me; and I want to give you something that,
when you look at, you shall always remember me, I'm going to give
all of you a curl of my hair; and, when you look at it, think that
I loved you and am gone to heaven, and that I want to see you all there."

It is impossible to describe the scene, as, with tears and sobs,
they gathered round the little creature, and took from her hands
what seemed to them a last mark of her love. They fell on
their knees; they sobbed, and prayed, and kissed the hem of her
garment; and the elder ones poured forth words of endearment,
mingled in prayers and blessings, after the manner of their
susceptible race.

As each one took their gift, Miss Ophelia, who was apprehensive
for the effect of all this excitement on her little patient,
signed to each one to pass out of the apartment.

At last, all were gone but Tom and Mammy.

"Here, Uncle Tom," said Eva, "is a beautiful one for you. O, I am
so happy, Uncle Tom, to think I shall see you in heaven,--for
I'm sure I shall; and Mammy,--dear, good, kind Mammy!" she said,
fondly throwing her arms round her old nurse,--"I know you'll be
there, too."

"O, Miss Eva, don't see how I can live without ye, no how!"
said the faithful creature. "'Pears like it's just taking everything
off the place to oncet!" and Mammy gave way to a passion of grief.

Miss Ophelia pushed her and Tom gently from the apartment,
and thought they were all gone; but, as she turned, Topsy was
standing there.

"Where did you start up from?" she said, suddenly.

"I was here," said Topsy, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"O, Miss Eva, I've been a bad girl; but won't you give _me_
one, too?"

"Yes, poor Topsy! to be sure, I will. There--every time
you look at that, think that I love you, and wanted you to be a
good girl!"

"O, Miss Eva, I _is_ tryin!" said Topsy, earnestly; "but,
Lor, it's so hard to be good! 'Pears like I an't used to it,
no ways!"

"Jesus knows it, Topsy; he is sorry for you; he will help you."

Topsy, with her eyes hid in her apron, was silently passed
from the apartment by Miss Ophelia; but, as she went, she hid the
precious curl in her bosom.

All being gone, Miss Ophelia shut the door. That worthy
lady had wiped away many tears of her own, during the scene; but
concern for the consequence of such an excitement to her young
charge was uppermost in her mind.

St. Clare had been sitting, during the whole time, with
his hand shading his eyes, in the same attitude.

When they were all gone, he sat so still.

"Papa!" said Eva, gently, laying her hand on his.

He gave a sudden start and shiver; but made no answer.

"Dear papa!" said Eva.

"_I cannot_," said St. Clare, rising, "I _cannot_ have it so!
The Almighty hath dealt _very bitterly_ with me!" and St. Clare
pronounced these words with a bitter emphasis, indeed.

"Augustine! has not God a right to do what he will with
his own?" said Miss Ophelia.

"Perhaps so; but that doesn't make it any easier to bear,"
said he, with a dry, hard, tearless manner, as he turned away.

"Papa, you break my heart!" said Eva, rising and throwing
herself into his arms; "you must not feel so!" and the child sobbed
and wept with a violence which alarmed them all, and turned her
father's thoughts at once to another channel.

"There, Eva,--there, dearest! Hush! hush! I was wrong; I
was wicked. I will feel any way, do any way,--only don't distress
yourself; don't sob so. I will be resigned; I was wicked to speak
as I did."

Eva soon lay like a wearied dove in her father's arms; and
he, bending over her, soothed her by every tender word he could
think of.

Marie rose and threw herself out of the apartment into her
own, when she fell into violent hysterics.

"You didn't give me a curl, Eva," said her father, smiling sadly.

"They are all yours, papa," said she, smiling--"yours and
mamma's; and you must give dear aunty as many as she wants. I only
gave them to our poor people myself, because you know, papa, they
might be forgotten when I am gone, and because I hoped it might
help them remember. . . . You are a Christian, are you not, papa?"
said Eva, doubtfully.

"Why do you ask me?"

"I don't know. You are so good, I don't see how you can
help it."

"What is being a Christian, Eva?"

"Loving Christ most of all," said Eva.

"Do you, Eva?"

"Certainly I do."

"You never saw him," said St. Clare.

"That makes no difference," said Eva. "I believe him, and
in a few days I shall _see_ him;" and the young face grew fervent,
radiant with joy.

St. Clare said no more. It was a feeling which he had seen
before in his mother; but no chord within vibrated to it.

Eva, after this, declined rapidly; there was no more any
doubt of the event; the fondest hope could not be blinded.
Her beautiful room was avowedly a sick room; and Miss Ophelia day
and night performed the duties of a nurse,--and never did her friends
appreciate her value more than in that capacity. With so well-trained
a hand and eye, such perfect adroitness and practice in every art
which could promote neatness and comfort, and keep out of sight
every disagreeable incident of sickness,--with such a perfect sense
of time, such a clear, untroubled head, such exact accuracy in
remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors,-- she
was everything to him. They who had shrugged their shoulders at
her little peculiarities and setnesses, so unlike the careless
freedom of southern manners, acknowledged that now she was the
exact person that was wanted.

Uncle Tom was much in Eva's room. The child suffered much from
nervous restlessness, and it was a relief to her to be carried;
and it was Tom's greatest delight to carry her little frail form
in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now
out into the verandah; and when the fresh sea-breezes blew from
the lake,--and the child felt freshest in the morning,--he would
sometimes walk with her under the orange-trees in the garden,
or, sitting down in some of their old seats, sing to her their
favorite old hymns.

Her father often did the same thing; but his frame was
slighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him,

"O, papa, let Tom take me. Poor fellow! it pleases him; and
you know it's all he can do now, and he wants to do something!"

"So do I, Eva!" said her father.

"Well, papa, you can do everything, and are everything to me.
You read to me,--you sit up nights,--and Tom has only this
one thing, and his singing; and I know, too, he does it easier than
you can. He carries me so strong!"

The desire to do something was not confined to Tom. Every servant
in the establishment showed the same feeling, and in their way
did what they could.

Poor Mammy's heart yearned towards her darling; but she
found no opportunity, night or day, as Marie declared that the
state of her mind was such, it was impossible for her to rest; and,
of course, it was against her principles to let any one else rest.
Twenty times in a night, Mammy would be roused to rub her feet, to
bathe her head, to find her pocket-handkerchief, to see what the
noise was in Eva's room, to let down a curtain because it was too
light, or to put it up because it was too dark; and, in the daytime,
when she longed to have some share in the nursing of her pet, Marie
seemed unusually ingenious in keeping her busy anywhere and everywhere
all over the house, or about her own person; so that stolen interviews
and momentary glimpses were all she could obtain.

"I feel it my duty to be particularly careful of myself, now,"
she would say, "feeble as I am, and with the whole care and
nursing of that dear child upon me."

"Indeed, my dear," said St. Clare, "I thought our cousin
relieved you of that."

"You talk like a man, St. Clare,--just as if a mother _could_
be relieved of the care of a child in that state; but, then,
it's all alike,--no one ever knows what I feel! I can't throw
things off, as you do."

St. Clare smiled. You must excuse him, he couldn't help
it,--for St. Clare could smile yet. For so bright and placid was
the farewell voyage of the little spirit,--by such sweet and fragrant
breezes was the small bark borne towards the heavenly shores,--that
it was impossible to realize that it was death that was approaching.
The child felt no pain,--only a tranquil, soft weakness, daily and
almost insensibly increasing; and she was so beautiful, so loving,
so trustful, so happy, that one could not resist the soothing
influence of that air of innocence and peace which seemed to breathe
around her. St. Clare found a strange calm coming over him. It was
not hope,--that was impossible; it was not resignation; it was
only a calm resting in the present, which seemed so beautiful that
he wished to think of no future. It was like that hush of spirit
which we feel amid the bright, mild woods of autumn, when the bright
hectic flush is on the trees, and the last lingering flowers by
the brook; and we joy in it all the more, because we know that soon
it will all pass away.

The friend who knew most of Eva's own imaginings and
foreshadowings was her faithful bearer, Tom. To him she said what
she would not disturb her father by saying. To him she imparted
those mysterious intimations which the soul feels, as the cords
begin to unbind, ere it leaves its clay forever.

Tom, at last, would not sleep in his room, but lay all
night in the outer verandah, ready to rouse at every call.

"Uncle Tom, what alive have you taken to sleeping anywhere
and everywhere, like a dog, for?" said Miss Ophelia. "I thought
you was one of the orderly sort, that liked to lie in bed in a
Christian way."

"I do, Miss Feely," said Tom, mysteriously. "I do, but now--"

"Well, what now?"

"We mustn't speak loud; Mas'r St. Clare won't hear on 't;
but Miss Feely, you know there must be somebody watchin' for
the bridegroom."

"What do you mean, Tom?"

"You know it says in Scripture, `At midnight there was a
great cry made. Behold, the bridegroom cometh.' That's what I'm
spectin now, every night, Miss Feely,--and I couldn't sleep out o'
hearin, no ways."

"Why, Uncle Tom, what makes you think so?"

"Miss Eva, she talks to me. The Lord, he sends his messenger
in the soul. I must be thar, Miss Feely; for when that ar blessed
child goes into the kingdom, they'll open the door so wide, we'll
all get a look in at the glory, Miss Feely."

"Uncle Tom, did Miss Eva say she felt more unwell than
usual tonight?"

"No; but she telled me, this morning, she was coming
nearer,--thar's them that tells it to the child, Miss Feely.
It's the angels,--`it's the trumpet sound afore the break o' day,'"
said Tom, quoting from a favorite hymn.

This dialogue passed between Miss Ophelia and Tom, between
ten and eleven, one evening, after her arrangements had all been
made for the night, when, on going to bolt her outer door, she
found Tom stretched along by it, in the outer verandah.

She was not nervous or impressible; but the solemn, heart-felt
manner struck her. Eva had been unusually bright and cheerful,
that afternoon, and had sat raised in her bed, and looked over all
her little trinkets and precious things, and designated the friends
to whom she would have them given; and her manner was more animated,
and her voice more natural, than they had known it for weeks. Her
father had been in, in the evening, and had said that Eva appeared
more like her former self than ever she had done since her sickness;
and when he kissed her for the night, he said to Miss Ophelia,--"Cousin,
we may keep her with us, after all; she is certainly better;" and
he had retired with a lighter heart in his bosom than he had had there
for weeks.

But at midnight,--strange, mystic hour!--when the veil between
the frail present and the eternal future grows thin,--then
came the messenger!

There was a sound in that chamber, first of one who stepped
quickly. It was Miss Ophelia, who had resolved to sit up all night
with her little charge, and who, at the turn of the night, had
discerned what experienced nurses significantly call "a change."
The outer door was quickly opened, and Tom, who was watching outside,
was on the alert, in a moment.

"Go for the doctor, Tom! lose not a moment," said Miss Ophelia;
and, stepping across the room, she rapped at St. Clare's door.

"Cousin," she said, "I wish you would come."

Those words fell on his heart like clods upon a coffin.
Why did they? He was up and in the room in an instant, and bending
over Eva, who still slept.

What was it he saw that made his heart stand still? Why was
no word spoken between the two? Thou canst say, who hast seen
that same expression on the face dearest to thee;--that look
indescribable, hopeless, unmistakable, that says to thee that thy
beloved is no longer thine.

On the face of the child, however, there was no ghastly
imprint,--only a high and almost sublime expression,--the overshadowing
presence of spiritual natures, the dawning of immortal life in that
childish soul.

They stood there so still, gazing upon her, that even the
ticking of the watch seemed too loud. In a few moments, Tom
returned, with the doctor. He entered, gave one look, and stood
silent as the rest.

"When did this change take place?" said he, in a low whisper,
to Miss Ophelia.

"About the turn of the night," was the reply.

Marie, roused by the entrance of the doctor, appeared,
hurriedly, from the next room.

"Augustine! Cousin!--O!--what!" she hurriedly began.

"Hush!" said St. Clare, hoarsely; _"she is dying!"_

Mammy heard the words, and flew to awaken the servants.
The house was soon roused,--lights were seen, footsteps heard,
anxious faces thronged the verandah, and looked tearfully through
the glass doors; but St. Clare heard and said nothing,--he saw
only _that look_ on the face of the little sleeper.

"O, if she would only wake, and speak once more!" he said;
and, stooping over her, he spoke in her ear,--"Eva, darling!"

The large blue eyes unclosed--a smile passed over her
face;--she tried to raise her head, and to speak.

"Do you know me, Eva?"

"Dear papa," said the child, with a last effort, throwing her
arms about his neck. In a moment they dropped again; and, as
St. Clare raised his head, he saw a spasm of mortal agony pass over
the face,--she struggled for breath, and threw up her little hands.

"O, God, this is dreadful!" he said, turning away in agony,
and wringing Tom's hand, scarce conscious what he was doing.
"O, Tom, my boy, it is killing me!"

Tom had his master's hands between his own; and, with tears
streaming down his dark cheeks, looked up for help where he had
always been used to look.

"Pray that this may be cut short!" said St. Clare,--"this
wrings my heart."

"O, bless the Lord! it's over,--it's over, dear Master!"
said Tom; "look at her."

The child lay panting on her pillows, as one exhausted,--the
large clear eyes rolled up and fixed. Ah, what said those eyes,
that spoke so much of heaven! Earth was past,--and earthly pain;
but so solemn, so mysterious, was the triumphant brightness of
that face, that it checked even the sobs of sorrow. They pressed
around her, in breathless stillness.

"Eva," said St. Clare, gently.

She did not hear.

"O, Eva, tell us what you see! What is it?" said her father.

A bright, a glorious smile passed over her face, and she
said, brokenly,--"O! love,--joy,--peace!" gave one sigh and passed
from death unto life!

"Farewell, beloved child! the bright, eternal doors have closed
after thee; we shall see thy sweet face no more. O, woe for them
who watched thy entrance into heaven, when they shall wake and
find only the cold gray sky of daily life, and thou gone forever!"

 

 

CHAPTER XXVII

"This Is the Last of Earth"[1]

 

[1] "This is the last of Earth! I am content," last words of
John Quincy Adams, uttered February 21, 1848.

 

The statuettes and pictures in Eva's room were shrouded in
white napkins, and only hushed breathings and muffled footfalls
were heard there, and the light stole in solemnly through windows
partially darkened by closed blinds.

The bed was draped in white; and there, beneath the drooping
angel-figure, lay a little sleeping form,--sleeping never to waken!

There she lay, robed in one of the simple white dresses she had
been wont to wear when living; the rose-colored light through
the curtains cast over the icy coldness of death a warm glow.
The heavy eyelashes drooped softly on the pure cheek; the head
was turned a little to one side, as if in natural steep, but
there was diffused over every lineament of the face that high
celestial expression, that mingling of rapture and repose, which
showed it was no earthly or temporary sleep, but the long, sacred
rest which "He giveth to his beloved."

There is no death to such as thou, dear Eva! neither darkness
nor shadow of death; only such a bright fading as when the morning
star fades in the golden dawn. Thine is the victory without the
battle,--the crown without the conflict.

So did St. Clare think, as, with folded arms, he stood
there gazing. Ah! who shall say what he did think? for, from the
hour that voices had said, in the dying chamber, "she is gone," it
had been all a dreary mist, a heavy "dimness of anguish." He had
heard voices around him; he had had questions asked, and answered
them; they had asked him when he would have the funeral, and where
they should lay her; and he had answered, impatiently, that he
cared not.

Adolph and Rosa had arranged the chamber; volatile, fickle
and childish, as they generally were, they were soft-hearted and
full of feeling; and, while Miss Ophelia presided over the general
details of order and neatness, it was their hands that added those
soft, poetic touches to the arrangements, that took from the
death-room the grim and ghastly air which too often marks a New
England funeral.

There were still flowers on the shelves,--all white, delicate
and fragrant, with graceful, drooping leaves. Eva's little table,
covered with white, bore on it her favorite vase, with a single
white moss rose-bud in it. The folds of the drapery, the fall of
the curtains, had been arranged and rearranged, by Adolph and Rosa,
with that nicety of eye which characterizes their race. Even now,
while St. Clare stood there thinking, little Rosa tripped softly
into the chamber with a basket of white flowers. She stepped back
when she saw St. Clare, and stopped respectfully; but, seeing that
he did not observe her, she came forward to place them around
the dead. St. Clare saw her as in a dream, while she placed in
the small hands a fair cape jessamine, and, with admirable taste,
disposed other flowers around the couch.

The door opened again, and Topsy, her eyes swelled with
crying, appeared, holding something under her apron. Rosa made a
quick forbidding gesture; but she took a step into the room.

"You must go out," said Rosa, in a sharp, positive whisper;
"_you_ haven't any business here!"

"O, do let me! I brought a flower,--such a pretty one!"
said Topsy, holding up a half-blown tea rose-bud. "Do let me put
just one there."

"Get along!" said Rosa, more decidedly.

"Let her stay!" said St. Clare, suddenly stamping his foot.
"She shall come."

Rosa suddenly retreated, and Topsy came forward and laid her
offering at the feet of the corpse; then suddenly, with a wild
and bitter cry, she threw herself on the floor alongside the bed,
and wept, and moaned aloud.

Miss Ophelia hastened into the room, and tried to raise
and silence her; but in vain.

"O, Miss Eva! oh, Miss Eva! I wish I 's dead, too,--I do!"

There was a piercing wildness in the cry; the blood flushed
into St. Clare's white, marble-like face, and the first tears he
had shed since Eva died stood in his eyes.

"Get up, child," said Miss Ophelia, in a softened voice;
"don't cry so. Miss Eva is gone to heaven; she is an angel."

"But I can't see her!" said Topsy. "I never shall see
her!" and she sobbed again.

They all stood a moment in silence.

"_She_ said she _loved_ me," said Topsy,-- "she did! O, dear!
oh, dear! there an't _nobody_ left now,--there an't!"

"That's true enough" said St. Clare; "but do," he said to
Miss Ophelia, "see if you can't comfort the poor creature."

"I jist wish I hadn't never been born," said Topsy. "I didn't
want to be born, no ways; and I don't see no use on 't."

Miss Ophelia raised her gently, but firmly, and took her from
the room; but, as she did so, some tears fell from her eyes.

"Topsy, you poor child," she said, as she led her into her
room, "don't give up! _I_ can love you, though I am not like that
dear little child. I hope I've learnt something of the love of
Christ from her. I can love you; I do, and I'll try to help you
to grow up a good Christian girl."

Miss Ophelia's voice was more than her words, and more than
that were the honest tears that fell down her face. From that
hour, she acquired an influence over the mind of the destitute
child that she never lost.

"O, my Eva, whose little hour on earth did so much of good,"
thought St. Clare, "what account have I to give for my long years?"

There were, for a while, soft whisperings and footfalls in the
chamber, as one after another stole in, to look at the dead;
and then came the little coffin; and then there was a funeral, and
carriages drove to the door, and strangers came and were seated;
and there were white scarfs and ribbons, and crape bands, and
mourners dressed in black crape; and there were words read from
the Bible, and prayers offered; and St. Clare lived, and walked,
and moved, as one who has shed every tear;--to the last he saw only
one thing, that golden head in the coffin; but then he saw the
cloth spread over it, the lid of the coffin closed; and he walked,
when he was put beside the others, down to a little place at the
bottom of the garden, and there, by the mossy seat where she and
Tom had talked, and sung, and read so often, was the little grave.
St. Clare stood beside it,--looked vacantly down; he saw them lower
the little coffin; he heard, dimly, the solemn words, "I am the
resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in me, though he were
dead, yet shall he live;" and, as the earth was cast in and filled
up the little grave, he could not realize that it was his Eva that
they were hiding from his sight.

Nor was it!--not Eva, but only the frail seed of that bright,
immortal form with which she shall yet come forth, in the
day of the Lord Jesus!

And then all were gone, and the mourners went back to the place
which should know her no more; and Marie's room was darkened,
and she lay on the bed, sobbing and moaning in uncontrollable grief,
and calling every moment for the attentions of all her servants.
Of course, they had no time to cry,--why should they? the grief
was _her_ grief, and she was fully convinced that nobody on earth
did, could, or would feel it as she did.

"St. Clare did not shed a tear," she said; "he didn't
sympathize with her; it was perfectly wonderful to think how
hard-hearted and unfeeling he was, when he must know how she
suffered."

So much are people the slave of their eye and ear, that many
of the servants really thought that Missis was the principal
sufferer in the case, especially as Marie began to have hysterical
spasms, and sent for the doctor, and at last declared herself dying;
and, in the running and scampering, and bringing up hot bottles,
and heating of flannels, and chafing, and fussing, that ensued,
there was quite a diversion.

Tom, however, had a feeling at his own heart, that drew him
to his master. He followed him wherever he walked, wistfully
and sadly; and when he saw him sitting, so pale and quiet, in Eva's
room, holding before his eyes her little open Bible, though seeing
no letter or word of what was in it, there was more sorrow to Tom
in that still, fixed, tearless eye, than in all Marie's moans and
lamentations.

In a few days the St. Clare family were back again in the city;
Augustine, with the restlessness of grief, longing for another
scene, to change the current of his thoughts. So they left the
house and garden, with its little grave, and came back to New
Orleans; and St. Clare walked the streets busily, and strove to
fill up the chasm in his heart with hurry and bustle, and change
of place; and people who saw him in the street, or met him at the
cafe, knew of his loss only by the weed on his hat; for there he
was, smiling and talking, and reading the newspaper, and speculating
on politics, and attending to business matters; and who could see
that all this smiling outside was but a hollowed shell over a heart
that was a dark and silent sepulchre?

"Mr. St. Clare is a singular man," said Marie to Miss Ophelia,
in a complaining tone. "I used to think, if there was anything
in the world he did love, it was our dear little Eva; but he
seems to be forgetting her very easily. I cannot ever get him
to talk about her. I really did think he would show more feeling!"

"Still waters run deepest, they used to tell me," said Miss
Ophelia, oracularly.

"O, I don't believe in such things; it's all talk. If people
have feeling, they will show it,--they can't help it; but,
then, it's a great misfortune to have feeling. I'd rather have
been made like St. Clare. My feelings prey upon me so!"

"Sure, Missis, Mas'r St. Clare is gettin' thin as a shader.
They say, he don't never eat nothin'," said Mammy. "I know he
don't forget Miss Eva; I know there couldn't nobody,--dear, little,
blessed cretur!" she added, wiping her eyes.

"Well, at all events, he has no consideration for me," said
Marie; "he hasn't spoken one word of sympathy, and he must know
how much more a mother feels than any man can."

"The heart knoweth its own bitterness," said Miss Ophelia,
gravely.

"That's just what I think. I know just what I feel,--nobody
else seems to. Eva used to, but she is gone!" and Marie lay back
on her lounge, and began to sob disconsolately.

Marie was one of those unfortunately constituted mortals,
in whose eyes whatever is lost and gone assumes a value which it
never had in possession. Whatever she had, she seemed to survey
only to pick flaws in it; but, once fairly away, there was no
end to her valuation of it.

While this conversation was taking place in the parlor
another was going on in St. Clare's library.

Tom, who was always uneasily following his master about, had seen
him go to his library, some hours before; and, after vainly waiting
for him to come out, determined, at last, to make an errand in.
He entered softly. St. Clare lay on his lounge, at the further
end of the room. He was lying on his face, with Eva's Bible open
before him, at a little distance. Tom walked up, and stood by
the sofa. He hesitated; and, while he was hesitating, St. Clare
suddenly raised himself up. The honest face, so full of grief, and
with such an imploring expression of affection and sympathy, struck
his master. He laid his hand on Tom's, and bowed down his forehead
on it.

"O, Tom, my boy, the whole world is as empty as an egg-shell."

"I know it, Mas'r,--I know it," said Tom; "but, oh, if Mas'r
could only look up,--up where our dear Miss Eva is,--up to
the dear Lord Jesus!"

"Ah, Tom! I do look up; but the trouble is, I don't see
anything, when I do, I wish I could."

Tom sighed heavily.

"It seems to be given to children, and poor, honest fellows,
like you, to see what we can't," said St. Clare. "How comes it?"

"Thou has `hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto
babes,'" murmured Tom; "`even so, Father, for so it seemed good in
thy sight.'"

"Tom, I don't believe,--I can't believe,--I've got the
habit of doubting," said St. Clare. "I want to believe this
Bible,--and I can't."

"Dear Mas'r, pray to the good Lord,--`Lord, I believe; help
thou my unbelief.'"

"Who knows anything about anything?" said St. Clare, his eyes
wandering dreamily, and speaking to himself. "Was all that
beautiful love and faith only one of the ever-shifting phases
of human feeling, having nothing real to rest on, passing away
with the little breath? And is there no more Eva,--no heaven,--no
Christ,--nothing?"

"O, dear Mas'r, there is! I know it; I'm sure of it," said
Tom, falling on his knees. "Do, do, dear Mas'r, believe it!"

"How do you know there's any Christ, Tom! You never saw
the Lord."

"Felt Him in my soul, Mas'r,--feel Him now! O, Mas'r, when
I was sold away from my old woman and the children, I was jest
a'most broke up. I felt as if there warn't nothin' left; and then
the good Lord, he stood by me, and he says, `Fear not, Tom;' and
he brings light and joy in a poor feller's soul,--makes all peace;
and I 's so happy, and loves everybody, and feels willin' jest to
be the Lord's, and have the Lord's will done, and be put jest where
the Lord wants to put me. I know it couldn't come from me, cause
I 's a poor, complainin'cretur; it comes from the Lord; and I know
He's willin' to do for Mas'r."

Tom spoke with fast-running tears and choking voice. St. Clare
leaned his head on his shoulder, and wrung the hard, faithful,
black hand.

"Tom, you love me," he said.

"I 's willin' to lay down my life, this blessed day, to
see Mas'r a Christian."

"Poor, foolish boy!" said St. Clare, half-raising himself.
"I'm not worth the love of one good, honest heart, like yours."

"O, Mas'r, dere's more than me loves you,--the blessed Lord
Jesus loves you."

"How do you know that Tom?" said St. Clare.

"Feels it in my soul. O, Mas'r! `the love of Christ, that
passeth knowledge.'"

"Singular!" said St. Clare, turning away, "that the story of a
man that lived and died eighteen hundred years ago can affect
people so yet. But he was no man," he added, suddenly. "No man
ever had such long and living power! O, that I could believe
what my mother taught me, and pray as I did when I was a boy!"

"If Mas'r pleases," said Tom, "Miss Eva used to read this
so beautifully. I wish Mas'r'd be so good as read it. Don't get
no readin', hardly, now Miss Eva's gone."

The chapter was the eleventh of John,--the touching account
of the raising of Lazarus, St. Clare read it aloud, often pausing
to wrestle down feelings which were roused by the pathos of
the story. Tom knelt before him, with clasped hands, and with an
absorbed expression of love, trust, adoration, on his quiet face.

"Tom," said his Master, "this is all _real_ to you!"

"I can jest fairly _see_ it Mas'r," said Tom.

"I wish I had your eyes, Tom."

"I wish, to the dear Lord, Mas'r had!"

"But, Tom, you know that I have a great deal more knowledge than
you; what if I should tell you that I don't believe this Bible?"

"O, Mas'r!" said Tom, holding up his hands, with a deprecating gesture.

"Wouldn't it shake your faith some, Tom?"

"Not a grain," said Tom.

"Why, Tom, you must know I know the most."

"O, Mas'r, haven't you jest read how he hides from the wise
and prudent, and reveals unto babes? But Mas'r wasn't in earnest,
for sartin, now?" said Tom, anxiously.

"No, Tom, I was not. I don't disbelieve, and I think there
is reason to believe; and still I don't. It's a troublesome bad
habit I've got, Tom."

"If Mas'r would only pray!"

"How do you know I don't, Tom?"

"Does Mas'r?"

"I would, Tom, if there was anybody there when I pray; but it's
all speaking unto nothing, when I do. But come, Tom, you pray now,
and show me how."

Tom's heart was full; he poured it out In prayer, like waters
that have been long suppressed. One thing was plain enough;
Tom thought there was somebody to hear, whether there were or not.
In fact, St. Clare felt himself borne, on the tide of his faith
and feeling, almost to the gates of that heaven he seemed so vividly
to conceive. It seemed to bring him nearer to Eva.

"Thank you, my boy," said St. Clare, when Tom rose. "I like
to hear you, Tom; but go, now, and leave me alone; some other
time, I'll talk more."

Tom silently left the room.

 

 

CHAPTER XXVIII

Reunion

 

Week after week glided away in the St. Clare mansion, and
the waves of life settled back to their usual flow, where that
little bark had gone down. For how imperiously, how coolly, in
disregard of all one's feeling, does the hard, cold, uninteresting
course of daily realities move on! Still must we eat, and drink,
and sleep, and wake again,--still bargain, buy, sell, ask and answer
questions,--pursue, in short, a thousand shadows, though all interest
in them be over; the cold mechanical habit of living remaining,
after all vital interest in it has fled.

All the interests and hopes of St. Clare's life had
unconsciously wound themselves around this child. It was for Eva
that he had managed his property; it was for Eva that he had planned
the disposal of his time; and, to do this and that for Eva,--to
buy, improve, alter, and arrange, or dispose something for her,--had
been so long his habit, that now she was gone, there seemed nothing
to be thought of, and nothing to be done.

True, there was another life,--a life which, once believed
in, stands as a solemn, significant figure before the otherwise
unmeaning ciphers of time, changing them to orders of mysterious,
untold value. St. Clare knew this well; and often, in many a weary
hour, he heard that slender, childish voice calling him to the
skies, and saw that little hand pointing to him the way of life;
but a heavy lethargy of sorrow lay on him,--he could not arise.
He had one of those natures which could better and more clearly
conceive of religious things from its own perceptions and
instincts, than many a matter-of-fact and practical Christian.
The gift to appreciate and the sense to feel the finer shades and
relations of moral things, often seems an attribute of those whose
whole life shows a careless disregard of them. Hence Moore, Byron,
Goethe, often speak words more wisely descriptive of the true
religious sentiment, than another man, whose whole life is governed
by it. In such minds, disregard of religion is a more fearful
treason,--a more deadly sin.

St. Clare had never pretended to govern himself by any
religious obligation; and a certain fineness of nature gave him
such an instinctive view of the extent of the requirements of
Christianity, that he shrank, by anticipation, from what he felt
would be the exactions of his own conscience, if he once did resolve
to assume them. For, so inconsistent is human nature, especially
in the ideal, that not to undertake a thing at all seems better
than to undertake and come short.

Still St. Clare was, in many respects, another man. He read
his little Eva's Bible seriously and honestly; he thought more
soberly and practically of his relations to his servants,--enough
to make him extremely dissatisfied with both his past and present
course; and one thing he did, soon after his return to New Orleans,
and that was to commence the legal steps necessary to Tom's
emancipation, which was to be perfected as soon as he could get
through the necessary formalities. Meantime, he attached himself
to Tom more and more, every day. In all the wide world, there was
nothing that seemed to remind him so much of Eva; and he would
insist on keeping him constantly about him, and, fastidious and
unapproachable as he was with regard to his deeper feelings, he
almost thought aloud to Tom. Nor would any one have wondered at
it, who had seen the expression of affection and devotion with
which Tom continually followed his young master.

"Well, Tom," said St. Clare, the day after he had commenced
the legal formalities for his enfranchisement, "I'm going to make
a free man of you;--so have your trunk packed, and get ready to
set out for Kentuck."

The sudden light of joy that shone in Tom's face as he raised
his hands to heaven, his emphatic "Bless the Lord!" rather
discomposed St. Clare; he did not like it that Tom should be so
ready to leave him.

"You haven't had such very bad times here, that you need
be in such a rapture, Tom," he said drily.

"No, no, Mas'r! 'tan't that,--it's bein' a _freeman!_ that's
what I'm joyin' for."

"Why, Tom, don't you think, for your own part, you've been
better off than to be free?"

"_No, indeed_, Mas'r St. Clare," said Tom, with a flash of energy.
"No, indeed!"

"Why, Tom, you couldn't possibly have earned, by your work,
such clothes and such living as I have given you."

"Knows all that, Mas'r St. Clare; Mas'r's been too good; but,
Mas'r, I'd rather have poor clothes, poor house, poor everything,
and have 'em _mine_, than have the best, and have 'em any man's
else,--I had _so_, Mas'r; I think it's natur, Mas'r."

"I suppose so, Tom, and you'll be going off and leaving me,
in a month or so," he added, rather discontentedly. "Though why
you shouldn't, no mortal knows," he said, in a gayer tone; and,
getting up, he began to walk the floor.

"Not while Mas'r is in trouble," said Tom. "I'll stay with
Mas'r as long as he wants me,--so as I can be any use."

"Not while I'm in trouble, Tom?" said St. Clare, looking sadly
out of the window. . . . "And when will _my_ trouble be over?"

"When Mas'r St. Clare's a Christian," said Tom.

"And you really mean to stay by till that day comes?" said
St. Clare, half smiling, as he turned from the window, and laid
his hand on Tom's shoulder. "Ah, Tom, you soft, silly boy!
I won't keep you till that day. Go home to your wife and children,
and give my love to all."

"I 's faith to believe that day will come," said Tom, earnestly,
and with tears in his eyes; "the Lord has a work for Mas'r."

"A work, hey?" said St. Clare, "well, now, Tom, give me
your views on what sort of a work it is;--let's hear."

"Why, even a poor fellow like me has a work from the Lord; and
Mas'r St. Clare, that has larnin, and riches, and friends,--how
much he might do for the Lord!"

"Tom, you seem to think the Lord needs a great deal done
for him," said St. Clare, smiling.

"We does for the Lord when we does for his critturs," said Tom.

"Good theology, Tom; better than Dr. B. preaches, I dare
swear," said St. Clare.

The conversation was here interrupted by the announcement
of some visitors.

Marie St. Clare felt the loss of Eva as deeply as she could
feel anything; and, as she was a woman that had a great faculty of
making everybody unhappy when she was, her immediate attendants
had still stronger reason to regret the loss of their young mistress,
whose winning ways and gentle intercessions had so often been a
shield to them from the tyrannical and selfish exactions of her
mother. Poor old Mammy, in particular, whose heart, severed from
all natural domestic ties, had consoled itself with this one
beautiful being, was almost heart-broken. She cried day and night,
and was, from excess of sorrow, less skilful and alert in her
ministrations of her mistress than usual, which drew down a
constant storm of invectives on her defenceless head.

Miss Ophelia felt the loss; but, in her good and honest heart,
it bore fruit unto everlasting life. She was more softened,
more gentle; and, though equally assiduous in every duty, it was
with a chastened and quiet air, as one who communed with her own
heart not in vain. She was more diligent in teaching Topsy,--taught
her mainly from the Bible,--did not any longer shrink from her
touch, or manifest an ill-repressed disgust, because she felt none.
She viewed her now through the softened medium that Eva's hand had
first held before her eyes, and saw in her only an immortal creature,
whom God had sent to be led by her to glory and virtue. Topsy did
not become at once a saint; but the life and death of Eva did work
a marked change in her. The callous indifference was gone; there
was now sensibility, hope, desire, and the striving for good,--a
strife irregular, interrupted, suspended oft, but yet renewed again.

One day, when Topsy had been sent for by Miss Ophelia, she
came, hastily thrusting something into her bosom.

"What are you doing there, you limb? You've been stealing
something, I'll be bound," said the imperious little Rosa, who had
been sent to call her, seizing her, at the same time, roughly by
the arm.

"You go 'long, Miss Rosa!" said Topsy, pulling from her;
"'tan't none o' your business!"

"None o' your sa'ce!" said Rosa, "I saw you hiding something,--I
know yer tricks," and Rosa seized her arm, and tried to force her
hand into her bosom, while Topsy, enraged, kicked and fought
valiantly for what she considered her rights. The clamor and
confusion of the battle drew Miss Ophelia and St. Clare both
to the spot.

"She's been stealing!" said Rosa.

"I han't, neither!" vociferated Topsy, sobbing with passion.

"Give me that, whatever it is!" said Miss Ophelia, firmly.

Topsy hesitated; but, on a second order, pulled out of her
bosom a little parcel done up in the foot of one of her own
old stockings.

Miss Ophelia turned it out. There was a small book, which
had been given to Topsy by Eva, containing a single verse of
Scripture, arranged for every day in the year, and in a paper the
curl of hair that she had given her on that memorable day when she
had taken her last farewell.

St. Clare was a good deal affected at the sight of it; the
little book had been rolled in a long strip of black crape, torn
from the funeral weeds.

"What did you wrap _this_ round the book for?" said St.
Clare, holding up the crape.

"Cause,--cause,--cause 't was Miss Eva. O, don't take 'em
away, please!" she said; and, sitting flat down on the floor, and
putting her apron over her head, she began to sob vehemently.

It was a curious mixture of the pathetic and the ludicrous,--the
little old stockings,--black crape,--text-book,--fair, soft curl,--and
Topsy's utter distress.

St. Clare smiled; but there were tears in his eyes, as he said,

"Come, come,--don't cry; you shall have them!" and, putting
them together, he threw them into her lap, and drew Miss Ophelia
with him into the parlor.

"I really think you can make something of that concern,"
he said, pointing with his thumb backward over his shoulder.
"Any mind that is capable of a _real sorrow_ is capable of good.
You must try and do something with her."

"The child has improved greatly," said Miss Ophelia. "I have
great hopes of her; but, Augustine," she said, laying her hand
on his arm, "one thing I want to ask; whose is this child to
be?--yours or mine?"

"Why, I gave her to you, " said Augustine.

"But not legally;--I want her to be mine legally," said
Miss Ophelia.

"Whew! cousin," said Augustine. "What will the Abolition
Society think? They'll have a day of fasting appointed for this
backsliding, if you become a slaveholder!"

"O, nonsense! I want her mine, that I may have a right to
take her to the free States, and give her her liberty, that all I
am trying to do be not undone."

"O, cousin, what an awful `doing evil that good may come'!
I can't encourage it."

"I don't want you to joke, but to reason," said Miss Ophelia.
"There is no use in my trying to make this child a Christian child,
unless I save her from all the chances and reverses of slavery;
and, if you really are willing I should have her, I want you to
give me a deed of gift, or some legal paper."

"Well, well," said St. Clare, "I will;" and he sat down,
and unfolded a newspaper to read.

"But I want it done now," said Miss Ophelia.

"What's your hurry?"

"Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing
in," said Miss Ophelia. "Come, now, here's paper, pen, and ink;
just write a paper."

St. Clare, like most men of his class of mind, cordially
hated the present tense of action, generally; and, therefore, he
was considerably annoyed by Miss Ophelia's downrightness.

"Why, what's the matter?" said he. "Can't you take my word?
One would think you had taken lessons of the Jews, coming at
a fellow so!"

"I want to make sure of it," said Miss Ophelia. "You may die,
or fail, and then Topsy be hustled off to auction, spite of
all I can do."

"Really, you are quite provident. Well, seeing I'm in the
hands of a Yankee, there is nothing for it but to concede;" and
St. Clare rapidly wrote off a deed of gift, which, as he was well
versed in the forms of law, he could easily do, and signed his name
to it in sprawling capitals, concluding by a tremendous flourish.

"There, isn't that black and white, now, Miss Vermont?" he
said, as he handed it to her.

"Good boy," said Miss Ophelia, smiling. "But must it not
be witnessed?"

"O, bother!--yes. Here," he said, opening the door into
Marie's apartment, "Marie, Cousin wants your autograph; just put
your name down here."

"What's this?" said Marie, as she ran over the paper.
"Ridiculous! I thought Cousin was too pious for such horrid things,"
she added, as she carelessly wrote her name; "but, if she has a
fancy for that article, I am sure she's welcome."

"There, now, she's yours, body and soul," said St. Clare,
handing the paper.

"No more mine now than she was before," Miss Ophelia.
"Nobody but God has a right to give her to me; but I can protect
her now."

"Well, she's yours by a fiction of law, then," said St. Clare,
as he turned back into the parlor, and sat down to his paper.

Miss Ophelia, who seldom sat much in Marie's company, followed
him into the parlor, having first carefully laid away the paper.

"Augustine," she said, suddenly, as she sat knitting, "have you
ever made any provision for your servants, in case of your death?"

"No," said St. Clare, as he read on.

"Then all your indulgence to them may prove a great cruelty,
by and by."

St. Clare had often thought the same thing himself; but he
answered, negligently.

"Well, I mean to make a provision, by and by."

"When?" said Miss Ophelia.

"O, one of these days."

"What if you should die first?"

"Cousin, what's the matter?" said St. Clare, laying down his
paper and looking at her. "Do you think I show symptoms
of yellow fever or cholera, that you are making post mortem
arrangements with such zeal?"

"`In the midst of life we are in death,'" said Miss Ophelia.

St. Clare rose up, and laying the paper down, carelessly,
walked to the door that stood open on the verandah, to put an end
to a conversation that was not agreeable to him. Mechanically, he
repeated the last word again,--_"Death!"_--and, as he leaned against
the railings, and watched the sparkling water as it rose and fell
in the fountain; and, as in a dim and dizzy haze, saw flowers and
trees and vases of the courts, he repeated, again the mystic word
so common in every mouth, yet of such fearful power,--"DEATH!"
"Strange that there should be such a word," he said, "and such a
thing, and we ever forget it; that one should be living, warm and
beautiful, full of hopes, desires and wants, one day, and the next
be gone, utterly gone, and forever!"

It was a warm, golden evening; and, as he walked to the other
end of the verandah, he saw Tom busily intent on his Bible,
pointing, as he did so, with his finger to each successive word,
and whispering them to himself with an earnest air.

"Want me to read to you, Tom?" said St. Clare, seating
himself carelessly by him.

"If Mas'r pleases," said Tom, gratefully, "Mas'r makes it
so much plainer."

St. Clare took the book and glanced at the place, and began
reading one of the passages which Tom had designated by the heavy
marks around it. It ran as follows:

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his
holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his
glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall
separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep
from the goats." St. Clare read on in an animated voice, till he
came to the last of the verses.

"Then shall the king say unto him on his left hand, Depart
from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire: for I was an hungered,
and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I
was a stranger, an ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not:
I was sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they
answer unto Him, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or
a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister
unto thee? Then shall he say unto them, Inasmuch as ye did it not
to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me."

St. Clare seemed struck with this last passage, for he read it
twice,--the second time slowly, and as if he were revolving the
words in his mind.

"Tom," he said, "these folks that get such hard measure seem
to have been doing just what I have,--living good, easy,
respectable lives; and not troubling themselves to inquire how many
of their brethren were hungry or athirst, or sick, or in prison."

Tom did not answer.

St. Clare rose up and walked thoughtfully up and down the
verandah, seeming to forget everything in his own thoughts; so
absorbed was he, that Tom had to remind him twice that the teabell
had rung, before he could get his attention.

St. Clare was absent and thoughtful, all tea-time. After tea,
he and Marie and Miss Ophelia took possession of the parlor
almost in silence.

Marie disposed herself on a lounge, under a silken mosquito
curtain, and was soon sound asleep. Miss Ophelia silently busied
herself with her knitting. St. Clare sat down to the piano, and
began playing a soft and melancholy movement with the AEolian
accompaniment. He seemed in a deep reverie, and to be soliloquizing
to himself by music. After a little, he opened one of the drawers,
took out an old music-book whose leaves were yellow with age, and
began turning it over.

"There," he said to Miss Ophelia, "this was one of my mother's
books,--and here is her handwriting,--come and look at it.
She copied and arranged this from Mozart's Requiem." Miss
Ophelia came accordingly.

"It was something she used to sing often," said St. Clare.
"I think I can hear her now."

He struck a few majestic chords, and began singing that
grand old Latin piece, the "Dies Irae."

Tom, who was listening in the outer verandah, was drawn by the
sound to the very door, where he stood earnestly. He did not
understand the words, of course; but the music and manner of singing
appeared to affect him strongly, especially when St. Clare sang
the more pathetic parts. Tom would have sympathized more heartily,
if he had known the meaning of the beautiful words:

 

Recordare Jesu pie
Quod sum causa tuar viae
Ne me perdas, illa die
Querens me sedisti lassus
Redemisti crucem passus
Tantus laor non sit cassus.[1]

 

[1] These lines have been thus rather inadequately translated:

Think, O Jesus, for what reason
Thou endured'st earth's spite and treason,
Nor me lose, in that dread season;
Seeking me, thy wom feet hasted,
On the cross thy soul death tasted,
Let not all these toils be wasted.
[Mrs. Stowe's note.]

 

 

St. Clare threw a deep and pathetic expression into the words;
for the shadowy veil of years seemed drawn away, and he seemed
to hear his mother's voice leading his. Voice and instrument
seemed both living, and threw out with vivid sympathy those strains
which the ethereal Mozart first conceived as his own dying requiem.

When St. Clare had done singing, he sat leaning his head upon his
hand a few moments, and then began walking up and down the floor.

"What a sublime conception is that of a last judgment!"
said he,--"a righting of all the wrongs of ages!--a solving of
all moral problems, by an unanswerable wisdom! It is, indeed,
a wonderful image."

"It is a fearful one to us," said Miss Ophelia.

"It ought to be to me, I suppose," said St. Clare stopping,
thoughtfully. "I was reading to Tom, this afternoon, that chapter
in Matthew that gives an account of it, and I have been quite struck
with it. One should have expected some terrible enormities charged
to those who are excluded from Heaven, as the reason; but no,--they
are condemned for _not_ doing positive good, as if that included
every possible harm."

"Perhaps," said Miss Ophelia, "it is impossible for a person
who does no good not to do harm."

"And what," said St. Clare, speaking abstractedly, but with
deep feeling, "what shall be said of one whose own heart, whose
education, and the wants of society, have called in vain to some
noble purpose; who has floated on, a dreamy, neutral spectator of
the struggles, agonies, and wrongs of man, when he should have been
a worker?"

"I should say," said Miss Ophelia, "that he ought to repent,
and begin now."

"Always practical and to the point!" said St. Clare, his face
breaking out into a smile. "You never leave me any time for
general reflections, Cousin; you always bring me short up against
the actual present; you have a kind of eternal _now_, always in
your mind."

"_Now_ is all the time I have anything to do with," said
Miss Ophelia.

"Dear little Eva,--poor child!" said St. Clare, "she had
set her little simple soul on a good work for me."

It was the first time since Eva's death that he had ever
said as many words as these to her, and he spoke now evidently
repressing very strong feeling.

"My view of Christianity is such," he added, "that I think no
man can consistently profess it without throwing the whole weight
of his being against this monstrous system of injustice that lies
at the foundation of all our society; and, if need be, sacrificing
himself in the battle. That is, I mean that _I_ could not be a
Christian otherwise, though I have certainly had intercourse with
a great many enlightened and Christian people who did no such thing;
and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject,
their want of perception of wrongs that filled me with horror, have
engendered in me more scepticism than any other thing."

"If you knew all this," said Miss Ophelia, "why didn't you
do it?"

"O, because I have had only that kind of benevolence which
consists in lying on a sofa, and cursing the church and clergy for
not being martyrs and confessors. One can see, you know, very
easily, how others ought to be martyrs."

"Well, are you going to do differently now?" said Miss Ophelia.

"God only knows the future," said St. Clare. "I am braver than
I was, because I have lost all; and he who has nothing to lose
can afford all risks."

"And what are you going to do?"

"My duty, I hope, to the poor and lowly, as fast as I find
it out," said St. Clare, "beginning with my own servants, for whom
I have yet done nothing; and, perhaps, at some future day, it may
appear that I can do something for a whole class; something to save
my country from the disgrace of that false position in which she
now stands before all civilized nations."

"Do you suppose it possible that a nation ever will
voluntarily emancipate?" said Miss Ophelia.

"I don't know," said St. Clare. "This is a day of great deeds.
Heroism and disinterestedness are rising up, here and there,
in the earth. The Hungarian nobles set free millions of serfs,
at an immense pecuniary loss; and, perhaps, among us may be
found generous spirits, who do not estimate honor and justice
by dollars and cents."

"I hardly think so," said Miss Ophelia.

"But, suppose we should rise up tomorrow and emancipate, who would
educate these millions, and teach them how to use their freedom?
They never would rise to do much among us. The fact is, we are
too lazy and unpractical, ourselves, ever to give them much of
an idea of that industry and energy which is necessary to form
them into men. They will have to go north, where labor is the
fashion,--the universal custom; and tell me, now, is there enough
Christian philanthropy, among your northern states, to bear with
the process of their education and elevation? You send thousands
of dollars to foreign missions; but could you endure to have the
heathen sent into your towns and villages, and give your time, and
thoughts, and money, to raise them to the Christian standard?
That's what I want to know. If we emancipate, are you willing
to educate? How many families, in your town, would take a negro
man and woman, teach them, bear with them, and seek to make
them Christians? How many merchants would take Adolph, if I wanted
to make him a clerk; or mechanics, if I wanted him taught a trade?
If I wanted to put Jane and Rosa to a school, how many schools are
there in the northern states that would take them in? how many families
that would board them? and yet they are as white as many a woman,
north or south. You see, Cousin, I want justice done us. We are
in a bad position. We are the more _obvious_ oppressors of the
negro; but the unchristian prejudice of the north is an oppressor
almost equally severe."

"Well, Cousin, I know it is so," said Miss Ophelia,--"I know it
was so with me, till I saw that it was my duty to overcome it;
but, I trust I have overcome it; and I know there are many good
people at the north, who in this matter need only to be _taught_
what their duty is, to do it. It would certainly be a greater
self-denial to receive heathen among us, than to send missionaries
to them; but I think we would do it."

"_You_ would I know," said St. Clare. "I'd like to see
anything you wouldn't do, if you thought it your duty!"

"Well, I'm not uncommonly good," said Miss Ophelia. "Others
would, if they saw things as I do. I intend to take Topsy home,
when I go. I suppose our folks will wonder, at first; but I think
they will be brought to see as I do. Besides, I know there are
many people at the north who do exactly what you said."

"Yes, but they are a minority; and, if we should begin to
emancipate to any extent, we should soon hear from you."

Miss Ophelia did not reply. There was a pause of some moments;
and St. Clare's countenance was overcast by a sad, dreamy expression.

"I don't know what makes me think of my mother so much, tonight,"
he said." I have a strange kind of feeling, as if she were
near me. I keep thinking of things she used to say. Strange, what
brings these past things so vividly back to us, sometimes!"

St. Clare walked up and down the room for some minutes
more, and then said,

"I believe I'll go down street, a few moments, and hear
the news, tonight."

He took his hat, and passed out.

Tom followed him to the passage, out of the court, and
asked if he should attend him.

"No, my boy," said St. Clare. "I shall be back in an hour."

Tom sat down in the verandah. It was a beautiful moonlight
evening, and he sat watching the rising and falling spray of the
fountain, and listening to its murmur. Tom thought of his home,
and that he should soon be a free man, and able to return to it
at will. He thought how he should work to buy his wife and boys.
He felt the muscles of his brawny arms with a sort of joy, as he
thought they would soon belong to himself, and how much they could
do to work out the freedom of his family. Then he thought of his
noble young master, and, ever second to that, came the habitual
prayer that he had always offered for him; and then his thoughts
passed on to the beautiful Eva, whom he now thought of among the
angels; and he thought till he almost fancied that that bright face
and golden hair were looking upon him, out of the spray of the fountain.
And, so musing, he fell asleep, and dreamed he saw her coming bounding
towards him, just as she used to come, with a wreath of jessamine
in her hair, her cheeks bright, and her eyes radiant with delight;
but, as he looked, she seemed to rise from the ground; her cheeks
wore a paler hue,--her eyes had a deep, divine radiance, a golden
halo seemed around her head,--and she vanished from his sight; and
Tom was awakened by a loud knocking, and a sound of many voices at
the gate.

He hastened to undo it; and, with smothered voices and heavy
tread, came several men, bringing a body, wrapped in a cloak,
and lying on a shutter. The light of the lamp fell full on the
face; and Tom gave a wild cry of amazement and despair, that rung
through all the galleries, as the men advanced, with their burden,
to the open parlor door, where Miss Ophelia still sat knitting.

St. Clare had turned into a cafe, to look over an evening paper.
As he was reading, an affray arose between two gentlemen in the
room, who were both partially intoxicated. St. Clare and one
or two others made an effort to separate them, and St. Clare
received a fatal stab in the side with a bowie-knife, which he was
attempting to wrest from one of them.

The house was full of cries and lamentations, shrieks and
screams, servants frantically tearing their hair, throwing
themselves on the ground, or running distractedly about, lamenting.
Tom and Miss Ophelia alone seemed to have any presence of mind;
for Marie was in strong hysteric convulsions. At Miss Ophelia's
direction, one of the lounges in the parlor was hastily prepared,
and the bleeding form laid upon it. St. Clare had fainted,
through pain and loss of blood; but, as Miss Ophelia applied
restoratives, he revived, opened his eyes, looked fixedly on them,
looked earnestly around the room, his eyes travelling wistfully
over every object, and finally they rested on his mother's picture.

The physician now arrived, and made his examination. It was
evident, from the expression of his face, that there was no hope;
but he applied himself to dressing the wound, and he and Miss
Ophelia and Tom proceeded composedly with this work, amid the
lamentations and sobs and cries of the affrighted servants, who
had clustered about the doors and windows of the verandah.

"Now," said the physician, "we must turn all these creatures
out; all depends on his being kept quiet."

St. Clare opened his eyes, and looked fixedly on the distressed
beings, whom Miss Ophelia and the doctor were trying to urge
from the apartment. "Poor creatures!" he said, and an expression
of bitter self-reproach passed over his face. Adolph absolutely
refused to go. Terror had deprived him of all presence of mind;
he threw himself along the floor, and nothing could persuade him
to rise. The rest yielded to Miss Ophelia's urgent representations,
that their master's safety depended on their stillness and obedience.

St. Clare could say but little; he lay with his eyes shut, but
it was evident that he wrestled with bitter thoughts. After a
while, he laid his hand on Tom's, who was kneeling beside him,
and said, "Tom! poor fellow!"

"What, Mas'r?" said Tom, earnestly.

"I am dying!" said St. Clare, pressing his hand; "pray!"

"If you would like a clergyman--" said the physician.

St. Clare hastily shook his head, and said again to Tom,
more earnestly, "Pray!"

And Tom did pray, with all his mind and strength, for the soul
that was passing,--the soul that seemed looking so steadily
and mournfully from those large, melancholy blue eyes. It was
literally prayer offered with strong crying and tears.

When Tom ceased to speak, St. Clare reached out and took his hand,
looking earnestly at him, but saying nothing. He closed his eyes,
but still retained his hold; for, in the gates of eternity,
the black hand and the white hold each other with an equal clasp.
He murmured softly to himself, at broken intervals,

 

"Recordare Jesu pie--
* * * *
Ne me perdas--illa die
Querens me--sedisti lassus."

 

It was evident that the words he had been singing that evening
were passing through his mind,--words of entreaty addressed
to Infinite Pity. His lips moved at intervals, as parts of the
hymn fell brokenly from them.

"His mind is wandering," said the doctor.

"No! it is coming HOME, at last!" said St. Clare, energetically;
"at last! at last!"

The effort of speaking exhausted him. The sinking paleness
of death fell on him; but with it there fell, as if shed from the
wings of some pitying spirit, a beautiful expression of peace, like
that of a wearied child who sleeps.

So he lay for a few moments. They saw that the mighty hand
was on him. Just before the spirit parted, he opened his eyes, with
a sudden light, as of joy and recognition, and said _"Mother!"_
and then he was gone!

 

 

CHAPTER XXIX

The Unprotected

 

We hear often of the distress of the negro servants, on
the loss of a kind master; and with good reason, for no creature
on God's earth is left more utterly unprotected and desolate than
the slave in these circumstances.

The child who has lost a father has still the protection of
friends, and of the law; he is something, and can do something,--has
acknowledged rights and position; the slave has none. The law
regards him, in every respect, as devoid of rights as a bale of
merchandise. The only possible ackowledgment of any of the longings
and wants of a human and immortal creature, which are given to him,
comes to him through the sovereign and irresponsible will of his
master; and when that master is stricken down, nothing remains.

The number of those men who know how to use wholly irresponsible
power humanely and generously is small. Everybody knows this,
and the slave knows it best of all; so that he feels that there
are ten chances of his finding an abusive and tyrannical master,
to one of his finding a considerate and kind one. Therefore is
it that the wail over a kind master is loud and long, as well
it may be.

When St. Clare breathed his last, terror and consternation
took hold of all his household. He had been stricken down so in
a moment, in the flower and strength of his youth! Every room
and gallery of the house resounded with sobs and shrieks of despair.

Marie, whose nervous system had been enervated by a constant
course of self-indulgence, had nothing to support the terror of
the shock, and, at the time her husband breathed his last, was
passing from one fainting fit to another; and he to whom she had
been joined in the mysterious tie of marriage passed from her
forever, without the possibility of even a parting word.

Miss Ophelia, with characteristic strength and self-control,
had remained with her kinsman to the last,--all eye, all ear, all
attention; doing everything of the little that could be done, and
joining with her whole soul in the tender and impassioned prayers
which the poor slave had poured forth for the soul of his dying master.

When they were arranging him for his last rest, they found upon
his bosom a small, plain miniature case, opening with a spring.
It was the miniature of a noble and beautiful female face; and on
the reverse, under a crystal, a lock of dark hair. They laid them
back on the lifeless breast,--dust to dust,--poor mournful relics
of early dreams, which once made that cold heart beat so warmly!

Tom's whole soul was filled with thoughts of eternity; and while
he ministered around the lifeless clay, he did not once think
that the sudden stroke had left him in hopeless slavery. He felt
at peace about his master; for in that hour, when he had poured
forth his prayer into the bosom of his Father, he had found an
answer of quietness and assurance springing up within himself.
In the depths of his own affectionate nature, he felt able to
perceive something of the fulness of Divine love; for an old oracle
hath thus written,--"He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and
God in him." Tom hoped and trusted, and was at peace.

But the funeral passed, with all its pageant of black crape,
and prayers, and solemn faces; and back rolled the cool,
muddy waves of every-day life; and up came the everlasting
hard inquiry of "What is to be done next?"

It rose to the mind of Marie, as, dressed in loose morning-robes,
and surrounded by anxious servants, she sat up in a great
easy-chair, and inspected samples of crape and bombazine.
It rose to Miss Ophelia, who began to turn her thoughts towards
her northern home. It rose, in silent terrors, to the minds of
the servants, who well knew the unfeeling, tyrannical character of
the mistress in whose hands they were left. All knew, very well,
that the indulgences which had been accorded to them were not from
their mistress, but from their master; and that, now he was gone,
there would be no screen between them and every tyrannous infliction
which a temper soured by affliction might devise.

It was about a fortnight after the funeral, that Miss Ophelia,
busied one day in her apartment, heard a gentle tap at the door.
She opened it, and there stood Rosa, the pretty young quadroon,
whom we have before often noticed, her hair in disorder,
and her eyes swelled with crying.

"O, Miss Feeley," she said, falling on her knees, and catching
the skirt of her dress, "_do, do go_ to Miss Marie for me! do
plead for me! She's goin' to send me out to be whipped--look there!"
And she handed to Miss Ophelia a paper.

It was an order, written in Marie's delicate Italian hand, to the
master of a whipping-establishment to give the bearer fifteen lashes.

"What have you been doing?" said Miss Ophelia.

"You know, Miss Feely, I've got such a bad temper; it's very
bad of me. I was trying on Miss Marie's dress, and she slapped
my face; and I spoke out before I thought, and was saucy; and she
said that she'd bring me down, and have me know, once for all, that
I wasn't going to be so topping as I had been; and she wrote this,
and says I shall carry it. I'd rather she'd kill me, right out."

Miss Ophelia stood considering, with the paper in her hand.

"You see, Miss Feely," said Rosa, "I don't mind the whipping
so much, if Miss Marie or you was to do it; but, to be sent to a
_man!_ and such a horrid man,--the shame of it, Miss Feely!"

Miss Ophelia well knew that it was the universal custom to send
women and young girls to whipping-houses, to the hands of the
lowest of men,--men vile enough to make this their profession,--there
to be subjected to brutal exposure and shameful correction. She had
_known_ it before; but hitherto she had never realized it, till
she saw the slender form of Rosa almost convulsed with distress.
All the honest blood of womanhood, the strong New England blood of
liberty, flushed to her cheeks, and throbbed bitterly in her
indignant heart; but, with habitual prudence and self-control, she
mastered herself, and, crushing the paper firmly in her hand, she
merely said to Rosa,

"Sit down, child, while I go to your mistress."

"Shameful! monstrous! outrageous!" she said to herself, as
she was crossing the parlor.

She found Marie sitting up in her easy-chair, with Mammy
standing by her, combing her hair; Jane sat on the ground before
her, busy in chafing her feet.

"How do you find yourself, today?" said Miss Ophelia.

A deep sigh, and a closing of the eyes, was the only reply, for
a moment; and then Marie answered, "O, I don't know, Cousin;
I suppose I'm as well as I ever shall be!" and Marie wiped her eyes
with a cambric handkerchief, bordered with an inch deep of black.

"I came," said Miss Ophelia, with a short, dry cough, such as
commonly introduces a difficult subject,--"I came to speak with
you about poor Rosa."

Marie's eyes were open wide enough now, and a flush rose
to her sallow cheeks, as she answered, sharply,

"Well, what about her?"

"She is very sorry for her fault."

"She is, is she? She'll be sorrier, before I've done with her!
I've endured that child's impudence long enough; and now I'll
bring her down,--I'll make her lie in the dust!"

"But could not you punish her some other way,--some way
that would be less shameful?"

"I mean to shame her; that's just what I want. She has all
her life presumed on her delicacy, and her good looks, and her
lady-like airs, till she forgets who she is;--and I'll give her
one lesson that will bring her down, I fancy!"

"But, Cousin, consider that, if you destroy delicacy and
a sense of shame in a young girl, you deprave her very fast."

"Delicacy!" said Marie, with a scornful laugh,--"a fine word
for such as she! I'll teach her, with all her airs, that she's
no better than the raggedest black wench that walks the streets!
She'll take no more airs with me!"

"You will answer to God for such cruelty!" said Miss Ophelia,
with energy.

"Cruelty,--I'd like to know what the cruelty is! I wrote orders
for only fifteen lashes, and told him to put them on lightly.
I'm sure there's no cruelty there!"

"No cruelty!" said Miss Ophelia. "I'm sure any girl might
rather be killed outright!"

"It might seem so to anybody with your feeling; but all these
creatures get used to it; it's the only way they can be kept
in order. Once let them feel that they are to take any airs about
delicacy, and all that, and they'll run all over you, just as my
servants always have. I've begun now to bring them under; and I'll
have them all to know that I'll send one out to be whipped, as soon
as another, if they don't mind themselves!" said Marie, looking
around her decidedly.

Jane hung her head and cowered at this, for she felt as if it
was particularly directed to her. Miss Ophelia sat for a moment,
as if she had swallowed some explosive mixture, and were ready
to burst. Then, recollecting the utter uselessness of contention
with such a nature, she shut her lips resolutely, gathered herself
up, and walked out of the room.

It was hard to go back and tell Rosa that she could do nothing
for her; and, shortly after, one of the man-servants came to say
that her mistress had ordered him to take Rosa with him to the
whipping-house, whither she was hurried, in spite of her tears
and entreaties.

A few days after, Tom was standing musing by the balconies,
when he was joined by Adolph, who, since the death of his master,
had been entirely crest-fallen and disconsolate. Adolph knew that
he had always been an object of dislike to Marie; but while his
master lived he had paid but little attention to it. Now that he
was gone, he had moved about in daily dread and trembling, not
knowing what might befall him next. Marie had held several
consultations with her lawyer; after communicating with St. Clare's
brother, it was determined to sell the place, and all the servants,
except her own personal property, and these she intended to take
with her, and go back to her father's plantation.

"Do ye know, Tom, that we've all got to be sold?" said
Adolph, and go back to her father's plantation.

"How did you hear that?" said Tom.

"I hid myself behind the curtains when Missis was talking with
the lawyer. In a few days we shall be sent off to auction, Tom."

"The Lord's will be done!" said Tom, folding his arms and
sighing heavily.

"We'll never get another such a master, said Adolph,
apprehensively; "but I'd rather be sold than take my chance
under Missis."

Tom turned away; his heart was full. The hope of liberty, the
thought of distant wife and children, rose up before his patient
soul, as to the mariner shipwrecked almost in port rises the vision
of the church-spire and loving roofs of his native village, seen
over the top of some black wave only for one last farewell. He drew
his arms tightly over his bosom, and choked back the bitter tears,
and tried to pray. The poor old soul had such a singular,
unaccountable prejudice in favor of liberty, that it was a hard
wrench for him; and the more he said, "Thy will be done," the worse
he felt.

He sought Miss Ophelia, who, ever since Eva's death, had
treated him with marked and respectful kindness.

"Miss Feely," he said, "Mas'r St. Clare promised me my freedom.
He told me that he had begun to take it out for me; and now,
perhaps, if Miss Feely would be good enough to speak bout it
to Missis, she would feel like goin' on with it, was it as Mas'r
St. Clare's wish."

"I'll speak for you, Tom, and do my best," said Miss Ophelia;
"but, if it depends on Mrs. St. Clare, I can't hope much for
you;--nevertheless, I will try."

This incident occurred a few days after that of Rosa, while
Miss Ophelia was busied in preparations to return north.

Seriously reflecting within herself, she considered that perhaps
she had shown too hasty a warmth of language in her former
interview with Marie; and she resolved that she would now endeavor
to moderate her zeal, and to be as conciliatory as possible. So
the good soul gathered herself up, and, taking her knitting, resolved
to go into Marie's room, be as agreeable as possible, and negotiate
Tom's case with all the diplomatic skill of which she was mistress.

She found Marie reclining at length upon a lounge, supporting
herself on one elbow by pillows, while Jane, who had been out
shopping, was displaying before her certain samples of thin black
stuffs.

"That will do," said Marie, selecting one; "only I'm not
sure about its being properly mourning."

"Laws, Missis," said Jane, volubly, "Mrs. General Derbennon
wore just this very thing, after the General died, last summer; it
makes up lovely!"

"What do you think?" said Marie to Miss Ophelia.

"It's a matter of custom, I suppose," said Miss Ophelia.
"You can judge about it better than I."

"The fact is," said Marie, "that I haven't a dress in the world
that I can wear; and, as I am going to break up the establishment,
and go off, next week, I must decide upon something."

"Are you going so soon?"

"Yes. St. Clare's brother has written, and he and the lawyer
think that the servants and furniture had better be put up
at auction, and the place left with our lawyer."

"There's one thing I wanted to speak with you about," said
Miss Ophelia. "Augustine promised Tom his liberty, and began the
legal forms necessary to it. I hope you will use your influence
to have it perfected."

"Indeed, I shall do no such thing!" said Marie, sharply. "Tom is
one of the most valuable servants on the place,--it couldn't be
afforded, any way. Besides, what does he want of liberty? He's a
great deal better off as he is."

"But he does desire it, very earnestly, and his master
promised it," said Miss Ophelia.

"I dare say he does want it," said Marie; "they all want it,
just because they are a discontented set,--always wanting what
they haven't got. Now, I'm principled against emancipating, in
any case. Keep a negro under the care of a master, and he does
well enough, and is respectable; but set them free, and they get
lazy, and won't work, and take to drinking, and go all down to
be mean, worthless fellows, I've seen it tried, hundreds of times.
It's no favor to set them free."

"But Tom is so steady, industrious, and pious."

"O, you needn't tell me! I've see a hundred like him.
He'll do very well, as long as he's taken care of,--that's all."

"But, then, consider," said Miss Ophelia, "when you set
him up for sale, the chances of his getting a bad master."

"O, that's all humbug!" said Marie; "it isn't one time in
a hundred that a good fellow gets a bad master; most masters are
good, for all the talk that is made. I've lived and grown up here,
in the South, and I never yet was acquainted with a master that
didn't treat his servants well,--quite as well as is worth while.
I don't feel any fears on that head."

"Well," said Miss Ophelia, energetically, "I know it was
one of the last wishes of your husband that Tom should have his
liberty; it was one of the promises that he made to dear little
Eva on her death-bed, and I should not think you would feel at
liberty to disregard it."

Marie had her face covered with her handkerchief at this appeal,
and began sobbing and using her smelting-bottle, with great
vehemence.

"Everybody goes against me!" she said. "Everybody is so
inconsiderate! I shouldn't have expected that _you_ would bring up
all these remembrances of my troubles to me,--it's so inconsiderate!
But nobody ever does consider,--my trials are so peculiar! It's so
hard, that when I had only one daughter, she should have been
taken!--and when I had a husband that just exactly suited me,--and
I'm so hard to be suited!--he should be taken! And you seem to have
so little feeling for me, and keep bringing it up to me so
carelessly,--when you know how it overcomes me! I suppose you mean
well; but it is very inconsiderate,--very!" And Marie sobbed,
and gasped for breath, and called Mammy to open the window, and to
bring her the camphor-bottle, and to bathe her head, and unhook
her dress. And, in the general confusion that ensued, Miss Ophelia
made her escape to her apartment.

She saw, at once, that it would do no good to say anything more;
for Marie had an indefinite capacity for hysteric fits; and,
after this, whenever her husband's or Eva's wishes with regard to
the servants were alluded to, she always found it convenient to
set one in operation. Miss Ophelia, therefore, did the next best
thing she could for Tom,--she wrote a letter to Mrs. Shelby for
him, stating his troubles, and urging them to send to his relief.

The next day, Tom and Adolph, and some half a dozen other servants,
were marched down to a slave-warehouse, to await the convenience
of the trader, who was going to make up a lot for auction.

 

 

CHAPTER XXX

The Slave Warehouse

A slave warehouse! Perhaps some of my readers conjure up horrible
visions of such a place. They fancy some foul, obscure den, some
horrible _Tartarus "informis, ingens, cui lumen ademptum."_
But no, innocent friend; in these days men have learned the art of
sinning expertly and genteelly, so as not to shock the eyes and
senses of respectable society. Human property is high in the
market; and is, therefore, well fed, well cleaned, tended, and
looked after, that it may come to sale sleek, and strong, and
shining. A slave-warehouse in New Orleans is a house externally
not much unlike many others, kept with neatness; and where every
day you may see arranged, under a sort of shed along the outside,
rows of men and women, who stand there as a sign of the property
sold within.

Then you shall be courteously entreated to call and examine,
and shall find an abundance of husbands, wives, brothers, sisters,
fathers, mothers, and young children, to be "sold separately, or
in lots to suit the convenience of the purchaser;" and that soul
immortal, once bought with blood and anguish by the Son of God,
when the earth shook, and the rocks rent, and the graves were
opened, can be sold, leased, mortgaged, exchanged for groceries or
dry goods, to suit the phases of trade, or the fancy of the purchaser.

It was a day or two after the conversation between Marie and Miss
Ophelia, that Tom, Adolph, and about half a dozen others of the
St. Clare estate, were turned over to the loving kindness of Mr.
Skeggs, the keeper of a depot on ---- street, to await the auction,
next day.

Tom had with him quite a sizable trunk full of clothing, as
had most others of them. They were ushered, for the night, into
a long room, where many other men, of all ages, sizes, and shades
of complexion, were assembled, and from which roars of laughter
and unthinking merriment were proceeding.

"Ah, ha! that's right. Go it, boys,--go it!" said Mr. Skeggs,
the keeper. "My people are always so merry! Sambo, I see!"
he said, speaking approvingly to a burly negro who was performing
tricks of low buffoonery, which occasioned the shouts which Tom
had heard.

As might be imagined, Tom was in no humor to join these
proceedings; and, therefore, setting his trunk as far as possible
from the noisy group, he sat down on it, and leaned his face
against the wall.

The dealers in the human article make scrupulous and systematic
efforts to promote noisy mirth among them, as a means of
drowning reflection, and rendering them insensible to their
condition. The whole object of the training to which the negro is
put, from the time he is sold in the northern market till he arrives
south, is systematically directed towards making him callous,
unthinking, and brutal. The slave-dealer collects his gang in
Virginia or Kentucky, and drives them to some convenient, healthy
place,--often a watering place,--to be fattened. Here they are
fed full daily; and, because some incline to pine, a fiddle is kept
commonly going among them, and they are made to dance daily; and
he who refuses to be merry--in whose soul thoughts of wife, or
child, or home, are too strong for him to be gay--is marked as
sullen and dangerous, and subjected to all the evils which the ill
will of an utterly irresponsible and hardened man can inflict
upon him. Briskness, alertness, and cheerfulness of appearance,
especially before observers, are constantly enforced upon them,
both by the hope of thereby getting a good master, and the fear of
all that the driver may bring upon them if they prove unsalable.

"What dat ar nigger doin here?" said Sambo, coming up to Tom,
after Mr. Skeggs had left the room. Sambo was a full black,
of great size, very lively, voluble, and full of trick and grimace.

"What you doin here?" said Sambo, coming up to Tom, and
poking him facetiously in the side. "Meditatin', eh?"

"I am to be sold at the auction, tomorrow!" said Tom, quietly.

"Sold at auction,--haw! haw! boys, an't this yer fun? I wish't
I was gwine that ar way!--tell ye, wouldn't I make em laugh?
But how is it,--dis yer whole lot gwine tomorrow?" said Sambo,
laying his hand freely on Adolph's shoulder.

"Please to let me alone!" said Adolph, fiercely, straightening
himself up, with extreme disgust.

"Law, now, boys! dis yer's one o' yer white niggers,--kind
o' cream color, ye know, scented!" said he, coming up to Adolph
and snuffing. "O Lor! he'd do for a tobaccer-shop; they could keep
him to scent snuff! Lor, he'd keep a whole shope agwine,--he would!"

"I say, keep off, can't you?" said Adolph, enraged.

"Lor, now, how touchy we is,--we white niggers! Look at
us now!" and Sambo gave a ludicrous imitation of Adolph's manner;
"here's de airs and graces. We's been in a good family, I specs."

"Yes," said Adolph; "I had a master that could have bought
you all for old truck!"

"Laws, now, only think," said Sambo, "the gentlemens that
we is!"

"I belonged to the St. Clare family," said Adolph, proudly.

"Lor, you did! Be hanged if they ar'n't lucky to get shet of ye.
Spects they's gwine to trade ye off with a lot o' cracked
tea-pots and sich like!" said Sambo, with a provoking grin.

Adolph, enraged at this taunt, flew furiously at his adversary,
swearing and striking on every side of him. The rest laughed
and shouted, and the uproar brought the keeper to the door.

"What now, boys? Order,--order!" he said, coming in and
flourishing a large whip.

All fled in different directions, except Sambo, who,
presuming on the favor which the keeper had to him as a licensed
wag, stood his ground, ducking his head with a facetious grin,
whenever the master made a dive at him.

"Lor, Mas'r, 'tan't us,--we 's reglar stiddy,--it's these
yer new hands; they 's real aggravatin',--kinder pickin' at us,
all time!"

The keeper, at this, turned upon Tom and Adolph, and
distributing a few kicks and cuffs without much inquiry, and
leaving general orders for all to be good boys and go to sleep,
left the apartment.

While this scene was going on in the men's sleeping-room,
the reader may be curious to take a peep at the corresponding
apartment allotted to the women. Stretched out in various attitudes
over the floor, he may see numberless sleeping forms of every shade
of complexion, from the purest ebony to white, and of all years,
from childhood to old age, lying now asleep. Here is a fine bright
girl, of ten years, whose mother was sold out yesterday, and who
tonight cried herself to sleep when nobody was looking at her.
Here, a worn old negress, whose thin arms and callous fingers tell
of hard toil, waiting to be sold tomorrow, as a cast-off article,
for what can be got for her; and some forty or fifty others, with
heads variously enveloped in blankets or articles of clothing, lie
stretched around them. But, in a corner, sitting apart from the
rest, are two females of a more interesting appearance than common.
One of these is a respectably-dressed mulatto woman between forty
and fifty, with soft eyes and a gentle and pleasing physiognomy.
She has on her head a high-raised turban, made of a gay red Madras
handkerchief, of the first quality, her dress is neatly fitted,
and of good material, showing that she has been provided for with
a careful hand. By her side, and nestling closely to her, is a
young girl of fifteen,--her daughter. She is a quadroon, as may
be seen from her fairer complexion, though her likeness to her
mother is quite discernible. She has the same soft, dark eye, with
longer lashes, and her curling hair is of a luxuriant brown. She
also is dressed with great neatness, and her white, delicate hands
betray very little acquaintance with servile toil. These two are
to be sold tomorrow, in the same lot with the St. Clare servants;
and the gentleman to whom they belong, and to whom the money for
their sale is to be transmitted, is a member of a Christian church
in New York, who will receive the money, and go thereafter to the
sacrament of his Lord and theirs, and think no more of it.

These two, whom we shall call Susan and Emmeline, had been the
personal attendants of an amiable and pious lady of New Orleans,
by whom they had been carefully and piously instructed and trained.
They had been taught to read and write, diligently instructed in
the truths of religion, and their lot had been as happy an one as
in their condition it was possible to be. But the only son of
their protectress had the management of her property; and, by
carelessness and extravagance involved it to a large amount, and
at last failed. One of the largest creditors was the respectable
firm of B. & Co., in New York. B. & Co. wrote to their lawyer in
New Orleans, who attached the real estate (these two articles and
a lot of plantation hands formed the most valuable part of it),
and wrote word to that effect to New York. Brother B., being, as
we have said, a Christian man, and a resident in a free State, felt
some uneasiness on the subject. He didn't like trading in slaves
and souls of men,--of course, he didn't; but, then, there were thirty
thousand dollars in the case, and that was rather too much money
to be lost for a principle; and so, after much considering, and
asking advice from those that he knew would advise to suit him,
Brother B. wrote to his lawyer to dispose of the business in the
way that seemed to him the most suitable, and remit the proceeds.

The day after the letter arrived in New Orleans, Susan and
Emmeline were attached, and sent to the depot to await a general
auction on the following morning; and as they glimmer faintly upon
us in the moonlight which steals through the grated window, we may
listen to their conversation. Both are weeping, but each quietly,
that the other may not hear.

"Mother, just lay your head on my lap, and see if you can't
sleep a little," says the girl, trying to appear calm.

"I haven't any heart to sleep, Em; I can't; it's the last
night we may be together!"

"O, mother, don't say so! perhaps we shall get sold
together,--who knows?"

"If 't was anybody's else case, I should say so, too, Em,"
said the woman; "but I'm so feard of losin' you that I don't see
anything but the danger."

"Why, mother, the man said we were both likely, and would
sell well."

Susan remembered the man's looks and words. With a deadly
sickness at her heart, she remembered how he had looked at Emmeline's
hands, and lifted up her curly hair, and pronounced her a first-rate
article. Susan had been trained as a Christian, brought up in the
daily reading of the Bible, and had the same horror of her child's
being sold to a life of shame that any other Christian mother might
have; but she had no hope,--no protection.

"Mother, I think we might do first rate, if you could get a place
as cook, and I as chambermaid or seamstress, in some family.
I dare say we shall. Let's both look as bright and lively
as we can, and tell all we can do, and perhaps we shall," said
Emmeline.

"I want you to brush your hair all back straight, tomorrow,"
said Susan.

"What for, mother? I don't look near so well, that way."

"Yes, but you'll sell better so."

"I don't see why!" said the child.

"Respectable families would be more apt to buy you, if they
saw you looked plain and decent, as if you wasn't trying to
look handsome. I know their ways better 'n you do," said Susan.

"Well, mother, then I will."

"And, Emmeline, if we shouldn't ever see each other again,
after tomorrow,--if I'm sold way up on a plantation somewhere, and
you somewhere else,--always remember how you've been brought up,
and all Missis has told you; take your Bible with you, and your
hymn-book; and if you're faithful to the Lord, he'll be faithful
to you."

So speaks the poor soul, in sore discouragement; for she
knows that tomorrow any man, however vile and brutal, however
godless and merciless, if he only has money to pay for her, may
become owner of her daughter, body and soul; and then, how is the
child to be faithful? She thinks of all this, as she holds her
daughter in her arms, and wishes that she were not handsome and
attractive. It seems almost an aggravation to her to remember how
purely and piously, how much above the ordinary lot, she has been
brought up. But she has no resort but to _pray_; and many such
prayers to God have gone up from those same trim, neatly-arranged,
respectable slave-prisons,--prayers which God has not forgotten,
as a coming day shall show; for it is written, "Who causeth one of
these little ones to offend, it were better for him that a millstone
were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths
of the sea."

The soft, earnest, quiet moonbeam looks in fixedly, marking
the bars of the grated windows on the prostrate, sleeping forms.
The mother and daughter are singing together a wild and melancholy
dirge, common as a funeral hymn among the slaves:

 

"O, where is weeping Mary?
O, where is weeping Mary?
'Rived in the goodly land.
She is dead and gone to Heaven;
She is dead and gone to Heaven;
'Rived in the goodly land."

 

These words, sung by voices of a peculiar and melancholy
sweetness, in an air which seemed like the sighing of earthy despair
after heavenly hope, floated through the dark prison rooms with a
pathetic cadence, as verse after verse was breathed out:

 

"O, where are Paul and Silas?
O, where are Paul and Silas?
Gone to the goodly land.
They are dead and gone to Heaven;
They are dead and gone to Heaven;
'Rived in the goodly land."

 

Sing on poor souls! The night is short, and the morning
will part you forever!

But now it is morning, and everybody is astir; and the worthy
Mr. Skeggs is busy and bright, for a lot of goods is to be
fitted out for auction. There is a brisk lookout on the toilet;
injunctions passed around to every one to put on their best face
and be spry; and now all are arranged in a circle for a last review,
before they are marched up to the Bourse.

Mr. Skeggs, with his palmetto on and his cigar in his mouth,
walks around to put farewell touches on his wares.

"How's this?" he said, stepping in front of Susan and Emmeline.
"Where's your curls, gal?"

The girl looked timidly at her mother, who, with the smooth
adroitness common among her class, answers,

"I was telling her, last night, to put up her hair smooth
and neat, and not havin' it flying about in curls; looks more
respectable so."

"Bother!" said the man, peremptorily, turning to the girl;
"you go right along, and curl yourself real smart!" He added,
giving a crack to a rattan he held in his hand, "And be back in
quick time, too!"

"You go and help her," he added, to the mother. "Them curls
may make a hundred dollars difference in the sale of her."

 

Beneath a splendid dome were men of all nations, moving to and
fro, over the marble pave. On every side of the circular area
were little tribunes, or stations, for the use of speakers and
auctioneers. Two of these, on opposite sides of the area, were
now occupied by brilliant and talented gentlemen, enthusiastically
forcing up, in English and French commingled, the bids of connoisseurs
in their various wares. A third one, on the other side, still
unoccupied, was surrounded by a group, waiting the moment of sale
to begin. And here we may recognize the St. Clare servants,--Tom,
Adolph, and others; and there, too, Susan and Emmeline, awaiting
their turn with anxious and dejected faces. Various spectators,
intending to purchase, or not intending, examining, and commenting
on their various points and faces with the same freedom that a set
of jockeys discuss the merits of a horse.

"Hulloa, Alf! what brings you here?" said a young exquisite,
slapping the shoulder of a sprucely-dressed young man, who was
examining Adolph through an eye-glass.

"Well! I was wanting a valet, and I heard that St. Clare's
lot was going. I thought I'd just look at his--"

"Catch me ever buying any of St. Clare's people! Spoilt niggers,
every one. Impudent as the devil!" said the other.

"Never fear that!" said the first. "If I get 'em, I'll soon
have their airs out of them; they'll soon find that they've
another kind of master to deal with than Monsieur St. Clare.
'Pon my word, I'll buy that fellow. I like the shape of him."

"You'll find it'll take all you've got to keep him. He's
deucedly extravagant!"

"Yes, but my lord will find that he _can't_ be extravagant
with _me_. Just let him be sent to the calaboose a few times, and
thoroughly dressed down! I'll tell you if it don't bring him to a
sense of his ways! O, I'll reform him, up hill and down,--you'll
see. I buy him, that's flat!"

Tom had been standing wistfully examining the multitude of
faces thronging around him, for one whom he would wish to call
master. And if you should ever be under the necessity, sir, of
selecting, out of two hundred men, one who was to become your
absolute owner and disposer, you would, perhaps, realize, just as
Tom did, how few there were that you would feel at all comfortable
in being made over to. Tom saw abundance of men,--great, burly,
gruff men; little, chirping, dried men; long-favored, lank, hard
men; and every variety of stubbed-looking, commonplace men, who
pick up their fellow-men as one picks up chips, putting them into
the fire or a basket with equal unconcern, according to their
convenience; but he saw no St. Clare.

A little before the sale commenced, a short, broad, muscular man,
in a checked shirt considerably open at the bosom, and pantaloons
much the worse for dirt and wear, elbowed his way through the crowd,
like one who is going actively into a business; and, coming up to
the group, began to examine them systematically. From the moment
that Tom saw him approaching, he felt an immediate and revolting
horror at him, that increased as he came near. He was evidently,
though short, of gigantic strength. His round, bullet head, large,
light-gray eyes, with their shaggy, sandy eyebrows, and stiff,
wiry, sun-burned hair, were rather unprepossessing items, it is to
be confessed; his large, coarse mouth was distended with tobacco,
the juice of which, from time to time, he ejected from him with
great decision and explosive force; his hands were immensely large,
hairy, sun-burned, freckled, and very dirty, and garnished with
long nails, in a very foul condition. This man proceeded to a very
free personal examination of the lot. He seized Tom by the jaw,
and pulled open his mouth to inspect his teeth; made him strip up
his sleeve, to show his muscle; turned him round, made him jump
and spring, to show his paces.

"Where was you raised?" he added, briefly, to these investigations.

"In Kintuck, Mas'r," said Tom, looking about, as if for deliverance.

"What have you done?"

"Had care of Mas'r's farm," said Tom.

"Likely story!" said the other, shortly, as he passed on.
He paused a moment before Dolph; then spitting a discharge of
tobacco-juice on his well-blacked boots, and giving a contemptuous
umph, he walked on. Again he stopped before Susan and Emmeline.
He put out his heavy, dirty hand, and drew the girl towards him;
passed it over her neck and bust, felt her arms, looked at her
teeth, and then pushed her back against her mother, whose patient
face showed the suffering she had been going through at every motion
of the hideous stranger.

The girl was frightened, and began to cry.

"Stop that, you minx!" said the salesman; "no whimpering
here,--the sale is going to begin." And accordingly the sale begun.

Adolph was knocked off, at a good sum, to the young gentlemen
who had previously stated his intention of buying him; and the
other servants of the St. Clare lot went to various bidders.

"Now, up with you, boy! d'ye hear?" said the auctioneer to Tom.

Tom stepped upon the block, gave a few anxious looks round;
all seemed mingled in a common, indistinct noise,--the clatter of
the salesman crying off his qualifications in French and English,
the quick fire of French and English bids; and almost in a moment
came the final thump of the hammer, and the clear ring on the last
syllable of the word _"dollars,"_ as the auctioneer announced his
price, and Tom was made over.--He had a master!

He was pushed from the block;--the short, bullet-headed man
seizing him roughly by the shoulder, pushed him to one side,
saying, in a harsh voice, "Stand there, _you!_"

Tom hardly realized anything; but still the bidding went
on,--ratting, clattering, now French, now English. Down goes the
hammer again,--Susan is sold! She goes down from the block, stops,
looks wistfully back,--her daughter stretches her hands towards her.
She looks with agony in the face of the man who has bought
her,--a respectable middle-aged man, of benevolent countenance.

"O, Mas'r, please do buy my daughter!"

"I'd like to, but I'm afraid I can't afford it!" said the
gentleman, looking, with painful interest, as the young girl mounted
the block, and looked around her with a frightened and timid glance.

The blood flushes painfully in her otherwise colorless cheek,
her eye has a feverish fire, and her mother groans to see
that she looks more beautiful than she ever saw her before.
The auctioneer sees his advantage, and expatiates volubly in
mingled French and English, and bids rise in rapid succession.

"I'll do anything in reason," said the benevolent-looking
gentleman, pressing in and joining with the bids. In a few moments
they have run beyond his purse. He is silent; the auctioneer grows
warmer; but bids gradually drop off. It lies now between an
aristocratic old citizen and our bullet-headed acquaintance.
The citizen bids for a few turns, contemptuously measuring his
opponent; but the bullet-head has the advantage over him, both in
obstinacy and concealed length of purse, and the controversy lasts
but a moment; the hammer falls,--he has got the girl, body and soul,
unless God help her!

Her master is Mr. Legree, who owns a cotton plantation on the
Red river. She is pushed along into the same lot with Tom and
two other men, and goes off, weeping as she goes.

The benevolent gentleman is sorry; but, then, the thing happens
every day! One sees girls and mothers crying, at these sales,
_always!_ it can't be helped, &c.; and he walks off, with his
acquisition, in another direction.

Two days after, the lawyer of the Christian firm of B. & Co.,
New York, send on their money to them. On the reverse of that
draft, so obtained, let them write these words of the great Paymaster,
to whom they shall make up their account in a future day: _"When
he maketh inquisition for blood, he forgetteth not the cry of the
humble!"_

 

 

CHAPTER XXXI

The Middle Passage

"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look
upon iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously,
and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is
more righteous than he?" --HAB. 1: 13.

 

On the lower part of a small, mean boat, on the Red river,
Tom sat,--chains on his wrists, chains on his feet, and a weight
heavier than chains lay on his heart. All had faded from his
sky,--moon and star; all had passed by him, as the trees and banks
were now passing, to return no more. Kentucky home, with wife and
children, and indulgent owners; St. Clare home, with all its
refinements and splendors; the golden head of Eva, with its saint-like
eyes; the proud, gay, handsome, seemingly careless, yet ever-kind
St. Clare; hours of ease and indulgent leisure,--all gone! and in
place thereof, _what_ remains?

It is one of the bitterest apportionments of a lot of slavery,
that the negro, sympathetic and assimilative, after acquiring,
in a refined family, the tastes and feelings which form the
atmosphere of such a place, is not the less liable to become
the bond-slave of the coarsest and most brutal,--just as a chair
or table, which once decorated the superb saloon, comes, at last,
battered and defaced, to the barroom of some filthy tavern, or some
low haunt of vulgar debauchery. The great difference is, that the
table and chair cannot feel, and the _man_ can; for even a legal
enactment that he shall be "taken, reputed, adjudged in law, to be
a chattel personal," cannot blot out his soul, with its own private
little world of memories, hopes, loves, fears, and desires.

Mr. Simon Legree, Tom's master, had purchased slaves at one
place and another, in New Orleans, to the number of eight, and
driven them, handcuffed, in couples of two and two, down to the
good steamer Pirate, which lay at the levee, ready for a trip up
the Red river.

Having got them fairly on board, and the boat being off, he came
round, with that air of efficiency which ever characterized him,
to take a review of them. Stopping opposite to Tom, who had been
attired for sale in his best broadcloth suit, with well-starched
linen and shining boots, he briefly expressed himself as follows:

"Stand up."

Tom stood up.

"Take off that stock!" and, as Tom, encumbered by his fetters,
proceeded to do it, he assisted him, by pulling it, with no
gentle hand, from his neck, and putting it in his pocket.

Legree now turned to Tom's trunk, which, previous to this, he
had been ransacking, and, taking from it a pair of old pantaloons
and dilapidated coat, which Tom had been wont to put on about his
stable-work, he said, liberating Tom's hands from the handcuffs,
and pointing to a recess in among the boxes,

"You go there, and put these on."

Tom obeyed, and in a few moments returned.

"Take off your boots," said Mr. Legree.

Tom did so.

"There," said the former, throwing him a pair of coarse, stout
shoes, such as were common among the slaves, "put these on."

In Tom's hurried exchange, he had not forgotten to transfer
his cherished Bible to his pocket. It was well he did so; for Mr.
Legree, having refitted Tom's handcuffs, proceeded deliberately to
investigate the contents of his pockets. He drew out a silk
handkerchief, and put it into his own pocket. Several little
trifles, which Tom had treasured, chiefly because they had amused
Eva, he looked upon with a contemptuous grunt, and tossed them over
his shoulder into the river.

Tom's Methodist hymn-book, which, in his hurry, he had
forgotten, he now held up and turned over.

Humph! pious, to be sure. So, what's yer name,--you belong
to the church, eh?"

"Yes, Mas'r," said Tom, firmly.

"Well, I'll soon have _that_ out of you. I have none o' yer
bawling, praying, singing niggers on my place; so remember.
Now, mind yourself," he said, with a stamp and a fierce glance
of his gray eye, directed at Tom, "_I'm_ your church now!
You understand,--you've got to be as _I_ say."

Something within the silent black man answered _No!_ and, as if
repeated by an invisible voice, came the words of an old prophetic
scroll, as Eva had often read them to him,--"Fear not! for I have
redeemed thee. I have called thee by name. Thou art MINE!"

But Simon Legree heard no voice. That voice is one he never
shall hear. He only glared for a moment on the downcast face
of Tom, and walked off. He took Tom's trunk, which contained a
very neat and abundant wardrobe, to the forecastle, where it was
soon surrounded by various hands of the boat. With much laughing,
at the expense of niggers who tried to be gentlemen, the articles
very readily were sold to one and another, and the empty trunk
finally put up at auction. It was a good joke, they all thought,
especially to see how Tom looked after his things, as they were
going this way and that; and then the auction of the trunk, that
was funnier than all, and occasioned abundant witticisms.

This little affair being over, Simon sauntered up again to
his property.

"Now, Tom, I've relieved you of any extra baggage, you see.
Take mighty good care of them clothes. It'll be long enough 'fore
you get more. I go in for making niggers careful; one suit has to
do for one year, on my place."

Simon next walked up to the place where Emmeline was sitting,
chained to another woman.

"Well, my dear," he said, chucking her under the chin,
"keep up your spirits."

The involuntary look of horror, fright and aversion, with which
the girl regarded him, did not escape his eye. He frowned fiercely.

"None o' your shines, gal! you's got to keep a pleasant face,
when I speak to ye,--d'ye hear? And you, you old yellow poco
moonshine!" he said, giving a shove to the mulatto woman to whom
Emmeline was chained, "don't you carry that sort of face! You's
got to look chipper, I tell ye!"

"I say, all on ye," he said retreating a pace or two back,
"look at me,--look at me,--look me right in the eye,--_straight_,
now!" said he, stamping his foot at every pause.

As by a fascination, every eye was now directed to the
glaring greenish-gray eye of Simon.

"Now," said he, doubling his great, heavy fist into something
resembling a blacksmith's hammer, "d'ye see this fist? Heft it!"
he said, bringing it down on Tom's hand. "Look at these yer bones!
Well, I tell ye this yer fist has got as hard as iron _knocking
down niggers_. I never see the nigger, yet, I couldn't bring down
with one crack," said he, bringing his fist down so near to the
face of Tom that he winked and drew back. "I don't keep none o'
yer cussed overseers; I does my own overseeing; and I tell you
things _is_ seen to. You's every one on ye got to toe the mark,
I tell ye; quick,--straight,--the moment I speak. That's the way
to keep in with me. Ye won't find no soft spot in me, nowhere.
So, now, mind yerselves; for I don't show no mercy!"

The women involuntarily drew in their breath, and the whole
gang sat with downcast, dejected faces. Meanwhile, Simon turned
on his heel, and marched up to the bar of the boat for a dram.

"That's the way I begin with my niggers," he said, to a
gentlemanly man, who had stood by him during his speech.
"It's my system to begin strong,--just let 'em know what
to expect."

"Indeed!" said the stranger, looking upon him with the
curiosity of a naturalist studying some out-of-the-way specimen.

"Yes, indeed. I'm none o' yer gentlemen planters, with lily
fingers, to slop round and be cheated by some old cuss of an
overseer! Just feel of my knuckles, now; look at my fist.
Tell ye, sir, the flesh on 't has come jest like a stone,
practising on nigger--feel on it."

The stranger applied his fingers to the implement in
question, and simply said,

"'T is hard enough; and, I suppose," he added, "practice
has made your heart just like it."

"Why, yes, I may say so," said Simon, with a hearty laugh.
"I reckon there's as little soft in me as in any one going.
Tell you, nobody comes it over me! Niggers never gets round me,
neither with squalling nor soft soap,--that's a fact."

"You have a fine lot there."

"Real," said Simon. "There's that Tom, they telled me he was
suthin' uncommon. I paid a little high for him, tendin' him
for a driver and a managing chap; only get the notions out that
he's larnt by bein' treated as niggers never ought to be, he'll
do prime! The yellow woman I got took in on. I rayther think she's
sickly, but I shall put her through for what she's worth; she
may last a year or two. I don't go for savin' niggers. Use up,
and buy more, 's my way;-makes you less trouble, and I'm quite
sure it comes cheaper in the end;" and Simon sipped his glass.

"And how long do they generally last?" said the stranger.

"Well, donno; 'cordin' as their constitution is. Stout fellers
last six or seven years; trashy ones gets worked up in two
or three. I used to, when I fust begun, have considerable trouble
fussin' with 'em and trying to make 'em hold out,--doctorin' on
'em up when they's sick, and givin' on 'em clothes and blankets,
and what not, tryin' to keep 'em all sort o' decent and comfortable.
Law, 't wasn't no sort o' use; I lost money on 'em, and 't was
heaps o' trouble. Now, you see, I just put 'em straight through,
sick or well. When one nigger's dead, I buy another; and I find
it comes cheaper and easier, every way."

The stranger turned away, and seated himself beside a gentleman,
who had been listening to the conversation with repressed
uneasiness.

"You must not take that fellow to be any specimen of Southern
planters," said he.

"I should hope not," said the young gentleman, with emphasis.

"He is a mean, low, brutal fellow!" said the other.

"And yet your laws allow him to hold any number of human
beings subject to his absolute will, without even a shadow of
protection; and, low as he is, you cannot say that there are not
many such."

"Well," said the other, "there are also many considerate
and humane men among planters."

"Granted," said the young man; "but, in my opinion, it is you
considerate, humane men, that are responsible for all the
brutality and outrage wrought by these wretches; because, if it
were not for your sanction and influence, the whole system could
not keep foothold for an hour. If there were no planters except
such as that one," said he, pointing with his finger to Legree,
who stood with his back to them, "the whole thing would go down like
a millstone. It is your respectability and humanity that licenses
and protects his brutality."

"You certainly have a high opinion of my good nature," said the
planter, smiling, "but I advise you not to talk quite so loud,
as there are people on board the boat who might not be quite so
tolerant to opinion as I am. You had better wait till I get up to
my plantation, and there you may abuse us all, quite at your leisure."

The young gentleman colored and smiled, and the two were soon
busy in a game of backgammon. Meanwhile, another conversation
was going on in the lower part of the boat, between Emmeline and
the mulatto woman with whom she was confined. As was natural, they
were exchanging with each other some particulars of their history.

"Who did you belong to?" said Emmeline.

"Well, my Mas'r was Mr. Ellis,--lived on Levee-street.
P'raps you've seen the house."

"Was he good to you?" said Emmeline.

"Mostly, till he tuk sick. He's lain sick, off and on, more
than six months, and been orful oneasy. 'Pears like he warnt
willin' to have nobody rest, day or night; and got so curous, there
couldn't nobody suit him. 'Pears like he just grew crosser, every
day; kep me up nights till I got farly beat out, and couldn't keep
awake no longer; and cause I got to sleep, one night, Lors, he talk
so orful to me, and he tell me he'd sell me to just the hardest
master he could find; and he'd promised me my freedom, too, when
he died."

"Had you any friends?" said Emmeline.

"Yes, my husband,--he's a blacksmith. Mas'r gen'ly hired
him out. They took me off so quick, I didn't even have time to
see him; and I's got four children. O, dear me!" said the woman,
covering her face with her hands.

It is a natural impulse, in every one, when they hear a tale
of distress, to think of something to say by way of consolation.
Emmeline wanted to say something, but she could not think of anything
to say. What was there to be said? As by a common consent, they
both avoided, with fear and dread, all mention of the horrible man
who was now their master.

True, there is religious trust for even the darkest hour.
The mulatto woman was a member of the Methodist church, and had an
unenlightened but very sincere spirit of piety. Emmeline had been
educated much more intelligently,--taught to read and write, and
diligently instructed in the Bible, by the care of a faithful and
pious mistress; yet, would it not try the faith of the firmest
Christian, to find themselves abandoned, apparently, of God, in
the grasp of ruthless violence? How much more must it shake the
faith of Christ's poor little ones, weak in knowledge and tender
in years!

The boat moved on,--freighted with its weight of sorrow,--up the
red, muddy, turbid current, through the abrupt tortuous windings
of the Red river; and sad eyes gazed wearily on the steep red-clay
banks, as they glided by in dreary sameness. At last the boat
stopped at a small town, and Legree, with his party, disembarked.

 

 

CHAPTER XXXII

Dark Places

 

"The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations
Of cruelty."[1]

 

[1] Ps. 74:20.

Trailing wearily behind a rude wagon, and over a ruder road,
Tom and his associates faced onward.

In the wagon was seated Simon Legree and the two women, still
fettered together, were stowed away with some baggage in the
back part of it, and the whole company were seeking Legree's
plantation, which lay a good distance off.

It was a wild, forsaken road, now winding through dreary pine
barrens, where the wind whispered mournfully, and now over log
causeways, through long cypress swamps, the doleful trees rising
out of the slimy, spongy ground, hung with long wreaths of funeral
black moss, while ever and anon the loathsome form of the mocassin
snake might be seen sliding among broken stumps and shattered
branches that lay here and there, rotting in the water.

It is disconsolate enough, this riding, to the stranger, who,
with well-filled pocket and well-appointed horse, threads the
lonely way on some errand of business; but wilder, drearier,
to the man enthralled, whom every weary step bears further from
all that man loves and prays for.

So one should have thought, that witnessed the sunken and
dejected expression on those dark faces; the wistful, patient
weariness with which those sad eyes rested on object after object
that passed them in their sad journey.

Simon rode on, however, apparently well pleased, occasionally
pulling away at a flask of spirit, which he kept in his pocket.

"I say, _you!_" he said, as he turned back and caught a
glance at the dispirited faces behind him. "Strike up a song,
boys,--come!"

The men looked at each other, and the "_come_" was repeated,
with a smart crack of the whip which the driver carried in
his hands. Tom began a Methodist hymn.

 

"Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name ever dear to me!
When shall my sorrows have an end,
Thy joys when shall--"[2]

 

[2] "_Jerusalem, my happy home_," anonymous hymn dating from
the latter part of the sixteenth century, sung to the tune of
"St. Stephen." Words derive from St. Augustine's _Meditations_.

 

"Shut up, you black cuss!" roared Legree; "did ye think I
wanted any o' yer infernal old Methodism? I say, tune up,
now, something real rowdy,--quick!"

One of the other men struck up one of those unmeaning songs,
common among the slaves.

 

"Mas'r see'd me cotch a coon,
High boys, high!
He laughed to split,--d'ye see the moon,
Ho! ho! ho! boys, ho!
Ho! yo! hi--e! oh!"_

 

The singer appeared to make up the song to his own pleasure,
generally hitting on rhyme, without much attempt at reason; and
the party took up the chorus, at intervals,

 

"Ho! ho! ho! boys, ho!
High--e--oh! high--e--oh!"

 

It was sung very boisterouly, and with a forced attempt at
merriment; but no wail of despair, no words of impassioned prayer,
could have had such a depth of woe in them as the wild notes of
the chorus. As if the poor, dumb heart, threatened,--prisoned,--took
refuge in that inarticulate sanctuary of music, and found there a
language in which to breathe its prayer to God! There was a prayer
in it, which Simon could not hear. He only heard the boys singing
noisily, and was well pleased; he was making them "keep up their spirits."

"Well, my little dear," said he, turning to Emmeline, and
laying his hand on her shoulder, "we're almost home!"

When Legree scolded and stormed, Emmeline was terrified; but
when he laid his hand on her, and spoke as he now did, she felt
as if she had rather he would strike her. The expression of his
eyes made her soul sick, and her flesh creep. Involuntarily she
clung closer to the mulatto woman by her side, as if she were
her mother.

"You didn't ever wear ear-rings," he said, taking hold of
her small ear with his coarse fingers.

"No, Mas'r!" said Emmeline, trembling and looking down.

"Well, I'll give you a pair, when we get home, if you're
a good girl. You needn't be so frightened; I don't mean to make
you work very hard. You'll have fine times with me, and live like
a lady,--only be a good girl."

Legree had been drinking to that degree that he was inclining to
be very gracious; and it was about this time that the enclosures
of the plantation rose to view. The estate had formerly belonged
to a gentleman of opulence and taste, who had bestowed some
considerable attention to the adornment of his grounds. Having died
insolvent, it had been purchased, at a bargain, by Legree, who used
it, as he did everything else, merely as an implement for
money-making. The place had that ragged, forlorn appearance, which
is always produced by the evidence that the care of the former
owner has been left to go to utter decay.

What was once a smooth-shaven lawn before the house, dotted
here and there with ornamental shrubs, was now covered with frowsy
tangled grass, with horseposts set up, here and there, in it, where
the turf was stamped away, and the ground littered with broken
pails, cobs of corn, and other slovenly remains. Here and there,
a mildewed jessamine or honeysuckle hung raggedly from some ornamental
support, which had been pushed to one side by being used as a
horse-post. What once was a large garden was now all grown over
with weeds, through which, here and there, some solitary exotic
reared its forsaken head. What had been a conservatory had now no
window-shades, and on the mouldering shelves stood some dry, forsaken
flower-pots, with sticks in them, whose dried leaves showed they
had once been plants.

The wagon rolled up a weedy gravel walk, under a noble avenue
of China trees, whose graceful forms and ever-springing foliage
seemed to be the only things there that neglect could not daunt
or alter,--like noble spirits, so deeply rooted in goodness,
as to flourish and grow stronger amid discouragement and decay.

The house had been large and handsome. It was built in a manner
common at the South; a wide verandah of two stories running round
every part of the house, into which every outer door opened, the
lower tier being supported by brick pillars.

But the place looked desolate and uncomfortable; some windows
stopped up with boards, some with shattered panes, and shutters
hanging by a single hinge,--all telling of coarse neglect
and discomfort.

Bits of board, straw, old decayed barrels and boxes, garnished
the ground in all directions; and three or four ferocious-looking
dogs, roused by the sound of the wagon-wheels, came tearing out,
and were with difficulty restrained from laying hold of Tom and
his companions, by the effort of the ragged servants who came
after them.

"Ye see what ye'd get!" said Legree, caressing the dogs
with grim satisfaction, and turning to Tom and his companions.
"Ye see what ye'd get, if ye try to run off. These yer dogs has
been raised to track niggers; and they'd jest as soon chaw one on
ye up as eat their supper. So, mind yerself! How now, Sambo!"
he said, to a ragged fellow, without any brim to his hat, who was
officious in his attentions. "How have things been going?"

Fust rate, Mas'r."

"Quimbo," said Legree to another, who was making zealous
demonstrations to attract his attention, "ye minded what I
telled ye?"

"Guess I did, didn't I?"

These two colored men were the two principal hands on the
plantation. Legree had trained them in savageness and brutality
as systematically as he had his bull-dogs; and, by long practice
in hardness and cruelty, brought their whole nature to about the
same range of capacities. It is a common remark, and one that is
thought to militate strongly against the character of the race,
that the negro overseer is always more tyrannical and cruel than
the white one. This is simply saying that the negro mind has been
more crushed and debased than the white. It is no more true of
this race than of every oppressed race, the world over. The slave
is always a tyrant, if he can get a chance to be one.

Legree, like some potentates we read of in history, governed
his plantation by a sort of resolution of forces. Sambo and Quimbo
cordially hated each other; the plantation hands, one and all,
cordially hated them; and, by playing off one against another, he
was pretty sure, through one or the other of the three parties, to
get informed of whatever was on foot in the place.

Nobody can live entirely without social intercourse; and
Legree encouraged his two black satellites to a kind of coarse
familiarity with him,--a familiarity, however, at any moment liable
to get one or the other of them into trouble; for, on the slightest
provocation, one of them always stood ready, at a nod, to be a
minister of his vengeance on the other.

As they stood there now by Legree, they seemed an apt illustration
of the fact that brutal men are lower even than animals.
Their coarse, dark, heavy features; their great eyes, rolling
enviously on each other; their barbarous, guttural, half-brute
intonation; their dilapidated garments fluttering in the wind,--were
all in admirable keeping with the vile and unwholesome character
of everything about the place.

"Here, you Sambo," said Legree, "take these yer boys down to
the quarters; and here's a gal I've got for _you_," said he, as
he separated the mulatto woman from Emmeline, and pushed her towards
him;--"I promised to bring you one, you know."

The woman gave a start, and drawing back, said, suddenly,

"O, Mas'r! I left my old man in New Orleans."

"What of that, you--; won't you want one here? None o' your
words,--go long!" said Legree, raising his whip.

"Come, mistress," he said to Emmeline, "you go in here with me."

A dark, wild face was seen, for a moment, to glance at the
window of the house; and, as Legree opened the door, a female voice
said something, in a quick, imperative tone. Tom, who was looking,
with anxious interest, after Emmeline, as she went in, noticed
this, and heard Legree answer, angrily, "You may hold your tongue!
I'll do as I please, for all you!"

Tom heard no more; for he was soon following Sambo to the quarters.
The quarters was a little sort of street of rude shanties,
in a row, in a part of the plantation, far off from the house.
They had a forlorn, brutal, forsaken air. Tom's heart sunk when
he saw them. He had been comforting himself with the thought of
a cottage, rude, indeed, but one which he might make neat and quiet,
and where he might have a shelf for his Bible, and a place to be
alone out of his laboring hours. He looked into several; they were
mere rude shells, destitute of any species of furniture, except a
heap of straw, foul with dirt, spread confusedly over the floor,
which was merely the bare ground, trodden hard by the tramping of
innumerable feet.

"Which of these will be mine?" said he, to Sambo, submissively.

"Dunno; ken turn in here, I spose," said Sambo; "spects thar's
room for another thar; thar's a pretty smart heap o' niggers
to each on 'em, now; sure, I dunno what I 's to do with more."

 

It was late in the evening when the weary occupants of the
shanties came flocking home,--men and women, in soiled and tattered
garments, surly and uncomfortable, and in no mood to look pleasantly
on new-comers. The small village was alive with no inviting sounds;
hoarse, guttural voices contending at the hand-mills where their
morsel of hard corn was yet to be ground into meal, to fit it for
the cake that was to constitute their only supper. From the earliest
dawn of the day, they had been in the fields, pressed to work
under the driving lash of the overseers; for it was now in the very
heat and hurry of the season, and no means was left untried to
press every one up to the top of their capabilities. "True," says
the negligent lounger; "picking cotton isn't hard work." Isn't it?
And it isn't much inconvenience, either, to have one drop of water
fall on your head; yet the worst torture of the inquisition is
produced by drop after drop, drop after drop, falling moment after
moment, with monotonous succession, on the same spot; and work, in
itself not hard, becomes so, by being pressed, hour after hour,
with unvarying, unrelenting sameness, with not even the consciousness
of free-will to take from its tediousness. Tom looked in vain
among the gang, as they poured along, for companionable faces.
He saw only sullen, scowling, imbruted men, and feeble, discouraged
women, or women that were not women,--the strong pushing away the
weak,--the gross, unrestricted animal selfishness of human beings,
of whom nothing good was expected and desired; and who, treated in
every way like brutes, had sunk as nearly to their level as it was
possible for human beings to do. To a late hour in the night the
sound of the grinding was protracted; for the mills were few in
number compared with the grinders, and the weary and feeble ones
were driven back by the strong, and came on last in their turn.

"Ho yo!" said Sambo, coming to the mulatto woman, and
throwing down a bag of corn before her; "what a cuss yo name?"

"Lucy," said the woman.

"Wal, Lucy, yo my woman now. Yo grind dis yer corn, and
get _my_ supper baked, ye har?"

"I an't your woman, and I won't be!" said the woman, with
the sharp, sudden courage of despair; "you go long!"

"I'll kick yo, then!" said Sambo, raising his foot
threateningly.

"Ye may kill me, if ye choose,--the sooner the better!
Wish't I was dead!" said she.

"I say, Sambo, you go to spilin' the hands, I'll tell Mas'r
o' you," said Quimbo, who was busy at the mill, from which he had
viciously driven two or three tired women, who were waiting to
grind their corn.

"And, I'll tell him ye won't let the women come to the mills,
yo old nigger!" said Sambo. "Yo jes keep to yo own row."

Tom was hungry with his day's journey, and almost faint
for want of food.

"Thar, yo!" said Quimbo, throwing down a coarse bag, which
contained a peck of corn; "thar, nigger, grab, take car on 't,--yo
won't get no more, _dis_ yer week."

Tom waited till a late hour, to get a place at the mills; and
then, moved by the utter weariness of two women, whom he saw
trying to grind their corn there, he ground for them, put together
the decaying brands of the fire, where many had baked cakes before
them, and then went about getting his own supper. It was a new
kind of work there,--a deed of charity, small as it was; but it
woke an answering touch in their hearts,--an expression of womanly
kindness came over their hard faces; they mixed his cake for him,
and tended its baking; and Tom sat down by the light of the fire,
and drew out his Bible,--for he had need for comfort.

"What's that?" said one of the woman.

"A Bible," said Tom.

"Good Lord! han't seen un since I was in Kentuck."

"Was you raised in Kentuck?" said Tom, with interest.

"Yes, and well raised, too; never 'spected to come to dis
yer!" said the woman, sighing.

"What's dat ar book, any way?" said the other woman.

"Why, the Bible."

"Laws a me! what's dat?" said the woman.

"Do tell! you never hearn on 't?" said the other woman.
"I used to har Missis a readin' on 't, sometimes, in Kentuck; but,
laws o' me! we don't har nothin' here but crackin' and swarin'."

"Read a piece, anyways!" said the first woman, curiously,
seeing Tom attentively poring over it.

Tom read,-- "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest."

"Them's good words, enough," said the woman; "who says 'em?"

"The Lord," said Tom.

"I jest wish I know'd whar to find Him," said the woman.
"I would go; 'pears like I never should get rested again. My flesh
is fairly sore, and I tremble all over, every day, and Sambo's
allers a jawin' at me, 'cause I doesn't pick faster; and nights
it's most midnight 'fore I can get my supper; and den 'pears like
I don't turn over and shut my eyes, 'fore I hear de horn blow to
get up, and at it agin in de mornin'. If I knew whar de Lor was,
I'd tell him."

"He's here, he's everywhere," said Tom.

"Lor, you an't gwine to make me believe dat ar! I know de
Lord an't here," said the woman; "'tan't no use talking, though.
I's jest gwine to camp down, and sleep while I ken."

The women went off to their cabins, and Tom sat alone, by
the smouldering fire, that flickered up redly in his face.

The silver, fair-browed moon rose in the purple sky, and
looked down, calm and silent, as God looks on the scene of misery
and oppression,--looked calmly on the lone black man, as he sat,
with his arms folded, and his Bible on his knee.

"Is God HERE?" Ah, how is it possible for the untaught heart
to keep its faith, unswerving, in the face of dire misrule,
and palpable, unrebuked injustice? In that simple heart waged
a fierce conflict; the crushing sense of wrong, the foreshadowing,
of a whole life of future misery, the wreck of all past hopes,
mournfully tossing in the soul's sight, like dead corpses of
wife, and child, and friend, rising from the dark wave, and
surging in the face of the half-drowned mariner! Ah, was it easy
_here_ to believe and hold fast the great password of Christian
faith, that "God IS, and is the REWARDER of them that diligently
seek Him"?

Tom rose, disconsolate, and stumbled into the cabin that had
been allotted to him. The floor was already strewn with weary
sleepers, and the foul air of the place almost repelled him; but
the heavy night-dews were chill, and his limbs weary, and, wrapping
about him a tattered blanket, which formed his only bed-clothing,
he stretched himself in the straw and fell asleep.

In dreams, a gentle voice came over his ear; he was sitting
on the mossy seat in the garden by Lake Pontchartrain, and Eva,
with her serious eyes bent downward, was reading to him from the
Bible; and he heard her read.

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee,
and the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest
through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame
kindle upon thee; for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel,
thy Saviour."

Gradually the words seemed to melt and fade, as in a divine
music; the child raised her deep eyes, and fixed them lovingly on
him, and rays of warmth and comfort seemed to go from them to his
heart; and, as if wafted on the music, she seemed to rise on shining
wings, from which flakes and spangles of gold fell off like stars,
and she was gone.

Tom woke. Was it a dream? Let it pass for one. But who
shall say that that sweet young spirit, which in life so
yearned to comfort and console the distressed, was forbidden
of God to assume this ministry after death?

 

It is a beautiful belief,
That ever round our head
Are hovering, on angel wings,
The spirits of the dead.

 

 

CHAPTER XXXIII

Cassy

 

"And behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they
had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was
power, but they had no comforter."
--ECCL. 4:1

It took but a short time to familiarize Tom with all that was to
be hoped or feared in his new way of life. He was an expert and
efficient workman in whatever he undertook; and was, both from
habit and principle, prompt and faithful. Quiet and peaceable in
his disposition, he hoped, by unremitting diligence, to avert from
himself at least a portion of the evils of his condition. He saw
enough of abuse and misery to make him sick and weary; but he
determined to toil on, with religious patience, committing himself
to Him that judgeth righteously, not without hope that some way of
escape might yet be opened to him.

Legree took a silent note of Tom's availability. He rated
him as a first-class hand; and yet he felt a secret dislike to
him,--the native antipathy of bad to good. He saw, plainly, that
when, as was often the case, his violence and brutality fell on
the helpless, Tom took notice of it; for, so subtle is the atmosphere
of opinion, that it will make itself felt, without words; and the
opinion even of a slave may annoy a master. Tom in various ways
manifested a tenderness of feeling, a commiseration for his
fellow-sufferers, strange and new to them, which was watched with
a jealous eye by Legree. He had purchased Tom with a view of
eventually making him a sort of overseer, with whom he might,
at times, intrust his affairs, in short absences; and, in his view,
the first, second, and third requisite for that place, was _hardness_.
Legree made up his mind, that, as Tom was not hard to his hand,
he would harden him forthwith; and some few weeks after Tom had
been on the place, he determined to commence the process.

One morning, when the hands were mustered for the field, Tom
noticed, with surprise, a new comer among them, whose appearance
excited his attention. It was a woman, tall and slenderly formed,
with remarkably delicate hands and feet, and dressed in neat and
respectable garments. By the appearance of her face, she might
have been between thirty-five and forty; and it was a face that,
once seen, could never be forgotten,--one of those that, at a glance,
seem to convey to us an idea of a wild, painful, and romantic history.
Her forehead was high, and her eyebrows marked with beautiful clearness.
Her straight, well-formed nose, her finely-cut mouth, and the
graceful contour of her head and neck, showed that she must once
have been beautiful; but her face was deeply wrinkled with lines
of pain, and of proud and bitter endurance. Her complexion was
sallow and unhealthy, her cheeks thin, her features sharp, and
her whole form emaciated. But her eye was the most remarkable
feature,--so large, so heavily black, overshadowed by long lashes
of equal darkness, and so wildly, mournfully despairing. There was
a fierce pride and defiance in every line of her face, in every
curve of the flexible lip, in every motion of her body; but in her
eye was a deep, settled night of anguish,--an expression so hopeless
and unchanging as to contrast fearfully with the scorn and pride
expressed by her whole demeanor.

Where she came from, or who she was, Tom did not know. The first
he did know, she was walking by his side, erect and proud, in the
dim gray of the dawn. To the gang, however, she was known; for
there was much looking and turning of heads, and a smothered yet
apparent exultation among the miserable, ragged, half-starved
creatures by whom she was surrounded.

"Got to come to it, at last,--grad of it!" said one.

"He! he! he!" said another; "you'll know how good it is, Misse!"

"We'll see her work!"

"Wonder if she'll get a cutting up, at night, like the rest
of us!"

"I'd be glad to see her down for a flogging, I'll bound!"
said another.

The woman took no notice of these taunts, but walked on, with
the same expression of angry scorn, as if she heard nothing.
Tom had always lived among refined, and cultivated people, and he
felt intuitively, from her air and bearing, that she belonged to
that class; but how or why she could be fallen to those degrading
circumstances, he could not tell. The women neither looked at him
nor spoke to him, though, all the way to the field, she kept close
at his side.

Tom was soon busy at his work; but, as the woman was at no great
distance from him, he often glanced an eye to her, at her work.
He saw, at a glance, that a native adroitness and handiness made
the task to her an easier one than it proved to many. She picked
very fast and very clean, and with an air of scorn, as if she
despised both the work and the disgrace and humiliation of the
circumstances in which she was placed.

In the course of the day, Tom was working near the mulatto
woman who had been bought in the same lot with himself. She was
evidently in a condition of great suffering, and Tom often heard her
praying, as she wavered and trembled, and seemed about to fall down.
Tom silently as he came near to her, transferred several handfuls
of cotton from his own sack to hers.

"O, don't, don't!" said the woman, looking surprised; "it'll
get you into trouble."

Just then Sambo came up. He seemed to have a special spite
against this woman; and, flourishing his whip, said, in brutal,
guttural tones, "What dis yer, Luce,--foolin' a'" and, with the
word, kicking the woman with his heavy cowhide shoe, he struck Tom
across the face with his whip.

Tom silently resumed his task; but the woman, before at
the last point of exhaustion, fainted.

"I'll bring her to!" said the driver, with a brutal grin.
"I'll give her something better than camphire!" and, taking a pin
from his coat-sleeve, he buried it to the head in her flesh.
The woman groaned, and half rose. "Get up, you beast, and work,
will yer, or I'll show yer a trick more!"

The woman seemed stimulated, for a few moments, to an
unnatural strength, and worked with desperate eagerness.

"See that you keep to dat ar," said the man, "or yer'll
wish yer's dead tonight, I reckin!"

"That I do now!" Tom heard her say; and again he heard her
say, "O, Lord, how long! O, Lord, why don't you help us?"

At the risk of all that he might suffer, Tom came forward
again, and put all the cotton in his sack into the woman's.

"O, you mustn't! you donno what they'll do to ye!" said
the woman.

"I can bar it!" said Tom, "better 'n you;" and he was at
his place again. It passed in a moment.

Suddenly, the stranger woman whom we have described, and who
had, in the course of her work, come near enough to hear Tom's
last words, raised her heavy black eyes, and fixed them, for a
second, on him; then, taking a quantity of cotton from her basket,
she placed it in his.

"You know nothing about this place," she said, "or you wouldn't
have done that. When you've been here a month, you'll be done
helping anybody; you'll find it hard enough to take care of your
own skin!"

"The Lord forbid, Missis!" said Tom, using instinctively to his
field companion the respectful form proper to the high bred
with whom he had lived.

"The Lord never visits these parts," said the woman, bitterly,
as she went nimbly forward with her work; and again the
scornful smile curled her lips.

But the action of the woman had been seen by the driver,
across the field; and, flourishing his whip, he came up to her.

"What! what!" he said to the woman, with an air of triumph,
"You a foolin'? Go along! yer under me now,--mind yourself, or
yer'll cotch it!"

A glance like sheet-lightning suddenly flashed from those
black eyes; and, facing about, with quivering lip and dilated
nostrils, she drew herself up, and fixed a glance, blazing with
rage and scorn, on the driver.

"Dog!" she said, "touch _me_, if you dare! I've power enough,
yet, to have you torn by the dogs, burnt alive, cut to inches!
I've only to say the word!"

"What de devil you here for, den?" said the man, evidently
cowed, and sullenly retreating a step or two. "Didn't mean no
harm, Misse Cassy!"

"Keep your distance, then!" said the woman. And, in truth, the
man seemed greatly inclined to attend to something at the other
end of the field, and started off in quick time.

The woman suddenly turned to her work, and labored with a
despatch that was perfectly astonishing to Tom. She seemed to
work by magic. Before the day was through, her basket was filled,
crowded down, and piled, and she had several times put largely
into Tom's. Long after dusk, the whole weary train, with their
baskets on their heads, defiled up to the building appropriated to the
storing and weighing the cotton. Legree was there, busily conversing
with the two drivers.

"Dat ar Tom's gwine to make a powerful deal o' trouble; kept
a puttin' into Lucy's basket.--One o' these yer dat will get
all der niggers to feelin' bused, if Masir don't watch him!"
said Sambo.

"Hey-dey! The black cuss!" said Legree. "He'll have to
get a breakin' in, won't he, boys?"

Both negroes grinned a horrid grin, at this intimation.

"Ay, ay! Let Mas'r Legree alone, for breakin' in! De debil
heself couldn't beat Mas'r at dat!" said Quimbo.

"Wal, boys, the best way is to give him the flogging to do,
till he gets over his notions. Break him in!"

"Lord, Mas'r'll have hard work to get dat out o' him!"

"It'll have to come out of him, though!" said Legree, as
he rolled his tobacco in his mouth.

"Now, dar's Lucy,--de aggravatinest, ugliest wench on de
place!" pursued Sambo.

"Take care, Sam; I shall begin to think what's the reason
for your spite agin Lucy."

"Well, Mas'r knows she sot herself up agin Mas'r, and
wouldn't have me, when he telled her to."

"I'd a flogged her into 't," said Legree, spitting, only
there's such a press o' work, it don't seem wuth a while to upset
her jist now. She's slender; but these yer slender gals will bear
half killin' to get their own way!"

"Wal, Lucy was real aggravatin' and lazy, sulkin' round;
wouldn't do nothin,--and Tom he tuck up for her."

"He did, eh! Wal, then, Tom shall have the pleasure of
flogging her. It'll be a good practice for him, and he won't put
it on to the gal like you devils, neither."

"Ho, ho! haw! haw! haw!" laughed both the sooty wretches;
and the diabolical sounds seemed, in truth, a not unapt
expression of the fiendish character which Legree gave them.

"Wal, but, Mas'r, Tom and Misse Cassy, and dey among 'em,
filled Lucy's basket. I ruther guess der weight 's in it, Mas'r!"

"_I do the weighing!_" said Legree, emphatically.

Both the drivers again laughed their diabolical laugh.

"So!" he added, "Misse Cassy did her day's work."

"She picks like de debil and all his angels!"

"She's got 'em all in her, I believe!" said Legree; and,
growling a brutal oath, he proceeded to the weighing-room.

 

Slowly the weary, dispirited creatures, wound their way
into the room, and, with crouching reluctance, presented their
baskets to be weighed.

Legree noted on a slate, on the side of which was pasted
a list of names, the amount.

Tom's basket was weighed and approved; and he looked, with an
anxious glance, for the success of the woman he had befriended.

Tottering with weakness, she came forward, and delivered
her basket. It was of full weight, as Legree well perceived; but,
affecting anger, he said,

"What, you lazy beast! short again! stand aside, you'll
catch it, pretty soon!"

The woman gave a groan of utter despair, and sat down on
a board.

The person who had been called Misse Cassy now came forward, and,
with a haughty, negligent air, delivered her basket. As she delivered
it, Legree looked in her eyes with a sneering yet inquiring glance.

She fixed her black eyes steadily on him, her lips moved slightly,
and she said something in French. What it was, no one knew; but
Legree's face became perfectly demoniacal in its expression, as
she spoke; he half raised his hand, as if to strike,--a gesture
which she regarded with fierce disdain, as she turned and walked away.

"And now," said Legree, "come here, you Tom. You see, I
telled ye I didn't buy ye jest for the common work; I mean to
promote ye, and make a driver of ye; and tonight ye may jest as
well begin to get yer hand in. Now, ye jest take this yer gal and
flog her; ye've seen enough on't to know how."

I beg Mas'r's pardon," said Tom; "hopes Mas'r won't set me
at that. It's what I an't used to,--never did,--and can't do,
no way possible."

"Ye'll larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know,
before I've done with ye!" said Legree, taking up a cowhide,
and striking Tom a heavy blow cross the cheek, and following up
the infliction by a shower of blows.

"There!" he said, as he stopped to rest; "now, will ye tell
me ye can't do it?"

"Yes, Mas'r," said Tom, putting up his hand, to wipe the blood,
that trickled down his face. "I'm willin' to work, night
and day, and work while there's life and breath in me; but this
yer thing I can't feel it right to do;--and, Mas'r, I _never_ shall
do it,--_never_!"

Tom had a remarkably smooth, soft voice, and a habitually
respectful manner, that had given Legree an idea that he would be
cowardly, and easily subdued. When he spoke these last words, a
thrill of amazement went through every one; the poor woman clasped
her hands, and said, "O Lord!" and every one involuntarily looked
at each other and drew in their breath, as if to prepare for the
storm that was about to burst.

Legree looked stupefied and confounded; but at last burst
forth,--"What! ye blasted black beast! tell _me_ ye don't
think it _right_ to do what I tell ye! What have any of you cussed
cattle to do with thinking what's right? I'll put a stop to it!
Why, what do ye think ye are? May be ye think ye'r a gentleman
master, Tom, to be a telling your master what's right, and what ain't!
So you pretend it's wrong to flog the gal!"

"I think so, Mas'r," said Tom; "the poor crittur's sick and feeble;
't would be downright cruel, and it's what I never will do, nor
begin to. Mas'r, if you mean to kill me, kill me; but, as to my
raising my hand agin any one here, I never shall,--I'll die first!"

Tom spoke in a mild voice, but with a decision that could not
be mistaken. Legree shook with anger; his greenish eyes glared
fiercely, and his very whiskers seemed to curl with passion; but,
like some ferocious beast, that plays with its victim before he
devours it, he kept back his strong impulse to proceed to immediate
violence, and broke out into bitter raillery.

"Well, here's a pious dog, at last, let down among us
sinners!--a saint, a gentleman, and no less, to talk to us sinners
about our sins! Powerful holy critter, he must be! Here, you rascal,
you make believe to be so pious,--didn't you never hear, out of yer
Bible, `Servants, obey yer masters'? An't I yer master? Didn't I
pay down twelve hundred dollars, cash, for all there is inside
yer old cussed black shell? An't yer mine, now, body and soul?" he
said, giving Tom a violent kick with his heavy boot; "tell me!"

In the very depth of physical suffering, bowed by brutal
oppression, this question shot a gleam of joy and triumph through
Tom's soul. He suddenly stretched himself up, and, looking earnestly
to heaven, while the tears and blood that flowed down his face
mingled, he exclaimed,

"No! no! no! my soul an't yours, Mas'r! You haven't bought
it,--ye can't buy it! It's been bought and paid for, by one that
is able to keep it;--no matter, no matter, you can't harm me!"

"I can't!" said Legree, with a sneer; "we'll see,--we'll see!
Here, Sambo, Quimbo, give this dog such a breakin' in as he
won't get over, this month!"

The two gigantic negroes that now laid hold of Tom, with
fiendish exultation in their faces, might have formed no unapt
personification of powers of darkness. The poor woman screamed
with apprehension, and all rose, as by a general impulse, while
they dragged him unresisting from the place.

 

 

CHAPTER XXXIV

The Quadroon's Story

 

And behold the tears of such as are oppressed; and on the side
of their oppressors there was power. Wherefore I praised the
dead that are already dead more than the living that are yet alive.
--ECCL. 4:1.

It was late at night, and Tom lay groaning and bleeding alone, in
an old forsaken room of the gin-house, among pieces of broken
machinery, piles of damaged cotton, and other rubbish which had
there accumulated.

The night was damp and close, and the thick air swarmed with
myriads of mosquitos, which increased the restless torture of his
wounds; whilst a burning thirst--a torture beyond all others--filled
up the uttermost measure of physical anguish.

"O, good Lord! _Do_ look down,--give me the victory!--give
me the victory over all!" prayed poor Tom, in his anguish.

A footstep entered the room, behind him, and the light of
a lantern flashed on his eyes.

"Who's there? O, for the Lord's massy, please give me some water!"

The woman Cassy--for it was she,--set down her lantern, and,
pouring water from a bottle, raised his head, and gave him drink.
Another and another cup were drained, with feverish eagerness.

"Drink all ye want," she said; "I knew how it would be. It isn't
the first time I've been out in the night, carrying water to
such as you."

"Thank you, Missis," said Tom, when he had done drinking.

"Don't call me Missis! I'm a miserable slave, like yourself,--a
lower one than you can ever be!" said she, bitterly; "but now,"
said she, going to the door, and dragging in a small pallaise, over
which she had spread linen cloths wet with cold water, "try, my
poor fellow, to roll yourself on to this."

Stiff with wounds and bruises, Tom was a long time in
accomplishing this movement; but, when done, he felt a sensible
relief from the cooling application to his wounds.

The woman, whom long practice with the victims of brutality had
made familiar with many healing arts, went on to make many
applications to Tom's wounds, by means of which he was soon
somewhat relieved.

"Now," said the woman, when she had raised his head on a roll
of damaged cotton, which served for a pillow, "there's the
best I can do for you."

Tom thanked her; and the woman, sitting down on the floor, drew
up her knees, and embracing them with her arms, looked fixedly
before her, with a bitter and painful expression of countenance.
Her bonnet fell back, and long wavy streams of black hair fell
around her singular and melancholy-face.

"It's no use, my poor fellow!" she broke out, at last, "it's of
no use, this you've been trying to do. You were a brave
fellow,--you had the right on your side; but it's all in vain, and
out of the question, for you to struggle. You are in the devil's
hands;--he is the strongest, and you must give up!"

Give up! and, had not human weakness and physical agony whispered
that, before? Tom started; for the bitter woman, with her wild
eyes and melancholy voice, seemed to him an embodiment of the
temptation with which he had been wrestling.

"O Lord! O Lord!" he groaned, "how can I give up?"

"There's no use calling on the Lord,--he never hears," said
the woman, steadily; "there isn't any God, I believe; or, if there
is, he's taken sides against us. All goes against us, heaven
and earth. Everything is pushing us into hell. Why shouldn't we go?"

Tom closed his eyes, and shuddered at the dark, atheistic words.

"You see," said the woman, "_you_ don't know anything about
it--I do. I've been on this place five years, body and soul,
under this man's foot; and I hate him as I do the devil! Here you
are, on a lone plantation, ten miles from any other, in the swamps;
not a white person here, who could testify, if you were burned
alive,--if you were scalded, cut into inch-pieces, set up for the
dogs to tear, or hung up and whipped to death. There's no law
here, of God or man, that can do you, or any one of us, the least
good; and, this man! there's no earthly thing that he's too good
to do. I could make any one's hair rise, and their teeth chatter,
if I should only tell what I've seen and been knowing to, here,--and
it's no use resisting! Did I _want_ to live with him? Wasn't I a
woman delicately bred; and he,--God in heaven! what was he, and
is he? And yet, I've lived with him, these five years, and cursed
every moment of my life,--night and day! And now, he's got a new
one,--a young thing, only fifteen, and she brought up, she says, piously.
Her good mistress taught her to read the Bible; and she's brought
her Bible here--to hell with her!"--and the woman laughed a wild
and doleful laugh, that rung, with a strange, supernatural sound,
through the old ruined shed.

Tom folded his hands; all was darkness and horror.

"O Jesus! Lord Jesus! have you quite forgot us poor critturs?"
burst forth, at last;-- "help, Lord, I perish!"

The woman sternly continued:

"And what are these miserable low dogs you work with, that you
should suffer on their account? Every one of them would turn
against you, the first time they got a chance. They are all of
'em as low and cruel to each other as they can be; there's no use
in your suffering to keep from hurting them."

"Poor critturs!" said Tom,-- "what made 'em cruel?--and, if
I give out, I shall get used to 't, and grow, little by little,
just like 'em! No, no, Missis! I've lost everything,--wife, and
children, and home, and a kind Mas'r,--and he would have set me
free, if he'd only lived a week longer; I've lost everything in
_this_ world, and it's clean gone, forever,--and now I _can't_ lose
Heaven, too; no, I can't get to be wicked, besides all!"

"But it can't be that the Lord will lay sin to our account,"
said the woman; "he won't charge it to us, when we're forced to
it; he'll charge it to them that drove us to it."

"Yes," said Tom; "but that won't keep us from growing wicked.
If I get to be as hard-hearted as that ar' Sambo, and as wicked,
it won't make much odds to me how I come so; it's the bein'
so,--that ar's what I'm a dreadin'."

The woman fixed a wild and startled look on Tom, as if a new
thought had struck her; and then, heavily groaning, said,

"O God a' mercy! you speak the truth! O--O--O!"--and, with
groans, she fell on the floor, like one crushed and writhing under
the extremity of mental anguish.

There was a silence, a while, in which the breathing of both
parties could be heard, when Tom faintly said, "O, please, Missis!"

The woman suddenly rose up, with her face composed to its
usual stern, melancholy expression.

"Please, Missis, I saw 'em throw my coat in that ar' corner,
and in my coat-pocket is my Bible;--if Missis would please get it
for me."

Cassy went and got it. Tom opened, at once, to a heavily
marked passage, much worn, of the last scenes in the life of Him
by whose stripes we are healed.

"If Missis would only be so good as read that ar',--it's
better than water."

Cassy took the book, with a dry, proud air, and looked over
the passage. She then read aloud, in a soft voice, and with a
beauty of intonation that was peculiar, that touching account of
anguish and of glory. Often, as she read, her voice faltered, and
sometimes failed her altogether, when she would stop, with an air
of frigid composure, till she had mastered herself. When she came
to the touching words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what
they do," she threw down the book, and, burying her face in the heavy
masses of her hair, she sobbed aloud, with a convulsive violence.

Tom was weeping, also, and occasionally uttering a smothered
ejaculation.

"If we only could keep up to that ar'!" said Tom;--"it seemed
to come so natural to him, and we have to fight so hard for 't!
O Lord, help us! O blessed Lord Jesus, do help us!"

"Missis," said Tom, after a while, "I can see that, some how,
you're quite 'bove me in everything; but there's one thing Missis
might learn even from poor Tom. Ye said the Lord took sides
against us, because he lets us be 'bused and knocked round; but ye
see what come on his own Son,--the blessed Lord of Glory,--wan't
he allays poor? and have we, any on us, yet come so low as he come?
The Lord han't forgot us,--I'm sartin' o' that ar'. If we suffer
with him, we shall also reign, Scripture says; but, if we deny Him,
he also will deny us. Didn't they all suffer?--the Lord and
all his? It tells how they was stoned and sawn asunder, and wandered
about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, and was destitute, afflicted,
tormented. Sufferin' an't no reason to make us think the Lord's
turned agin us; but jest the contrary, if only we hold on to him,
and doesn't give up to sin."

"But why does he put us where we can't help but sin?" said
the woman.

"I think we _can_ help it," said Tom.

"You'll see," said Cassy; "what'll you do? Tomorrow they'll
be at you again. I know 'em; I've seen all their doings; I can't
bear to think of all they'll bring you to;--and they'll make you
give out, at last!"

"Lord Jesus!" said Tom, "you _will_ take care of my soul?
O Lord, do!--don't let me give out!"

"O dear!" said Cassy; "I've heard all this crying and praying
before; and yet, they've been broken down, and brought under.
There's Emmeline, she's trying to hold on, and you're
trying,--but what use? You must give up, or be killed by inches."

"Well, then, I _will_ die!" said Tom. "Spin it out as long as
they can, they can't help my dying, some time!--and, after that,
they can't do no more. I'm clar, I'm set! I _know_ the Lord'll
help me, and bring me through."

The woman did not answer; she sat with her black eyes
intently fixed on the floor.

"May be it's the way," she murmured to herself; "but those that
_have_ given up, there's no hope for them!--none! We live in
filth, and grow loathsome, till we loathe ourselves! And we long
to die, and we don't dare to kill ourselves!--No hope! no hope! no
hope?--this girl now,--just as old as I was!

"You see me now," she said, speaking to Tom very rapidly;
"see what I am! Well, I was brought up in luxury; the first I
remember is, playing about, when I was a child, in splendid
parlors,--when I was kept dressed up like a doll, and company and
visitors used to praise me. There was a garden opening from the
saloon windows; and there I used to play hide-and-go-seek, under
the orange-trees, with my brothers and sisters. I went to a
convent, and there I learned music, French and embroidery, and
what not; and when I was fourteen, I came out to my father's funeral.
He died very suddenly, and when the property came to be settled,
they found that there was scarcely enough to cover the debts; and
when the creditors took an inventory of the property, I was set down
in it. My mother was a slave woman, and my father had always meant
to set me free; but he had not done it, and so I was set down in
the list. I'd always known who I was, but never thought much about it.
Nobody ever expects that a strong, healthy man is going to die.
My father was a well man only four hours before he died;--it was
one of the first cholera cases in New Orleans. The day after the
funeral, my father's wife took her children, and went up to her
father's plantation. I thought they treated me strangely, but
didn't know. There was a young lawyer who they left to settle the
business; and he came every day, and was about the house, and spoke
very politely to me. He brought with him, one day, a young man,
whom I thought the handsomest I had ever seen. I shall never forget
that evening. I walked with him in the garden. I was lonesome and
full of sorrow, and he was so kind and gentle to me; and he told me
that he had seen me before I went to the convent, and that he had
loved me a great while, and that he would be my friend and
protector;--in short, though he didn't tell me, he had paid two
thousand dollars for me, and I was his property,--I became his
willingly, for I loved him. Loved!" said the woman, stopping.
"O, how I _did_ love that man! How I love him now,--and always
shall, while I breathe! He was so beautiful, so high, so noble!
He put me into a beautiful house, with servants, horses, and
carriages, and furniture, and dresses. Everything that money
could buy, he gave me; but I didn't set any value on all that,--I
only cared for him. I loved him better than my God and my own soul,
and, if I tried, I couldn't do any other way from what he wanted me to.

"I wanted only one thing--I did want him to _marry_ me. I thought,
if he loved me as he said he did, and if I was what he seemed
to think I was, he would be willing to marry me and set me free.
But he convinced me that it would be impossible; and he told
me that, if we were only faithful to each other, it was marriage
before God. If that is true, wasn't I that man's wife? Wasn't I
faithful? For seven years, didn't I study every look and motion,
and only live and breathe to please him? He had the yellow fever,
and for twenty days and nights I watched with him. I alone,--and
gave him all his medicine, and did everything for him; and then he
called me his good angel, and said I'd saved his life. We had two
beautiful children. The first was a boy, and we called him Henry.
He was the image of his father,--he had such beautiful eyes, such
a forehead, and his hair hung all in curls around it; and he had
all his father's spirit, and his talent, too. Little Elise, he
said, looked like me. He used to tell me that I was the most
beautiful woman in Louisiana, he was so proud of me and the children.
He used to love to have me dress them up, and take them and me
about in an open carriage, and hear the remarks that people would
make on us; and he used to fill my ears constantly with the fine
things that were said in praise of me and the children. O, those
were happy days! I thought I was as happy as any one could be; but
then there came evil times. He had a cousin come to New Orleans,
who was his particular friend,--he thought all the world of him;--but,
from the first time I saw him, I couldn't tell why, I dreaded him;
for I felt sure he was going to bring misery on us. He got Henry
to going out with him, and often he would not come home nights till
two or three o'clock. I did not dare say a word; for Henry was so
high spirited, I was afraid to. He got him to the gaming-houses; and
he was one of the sort that, when he once got a going there, there
was no holding back. And then he introduced him to another lady,
and I saw soon that his heart was gone from me. He never told me,
but I saw it,--I knew it, day after day,--I felt my heart breaking,
but I could not say a word! At this, the wretch offered to buy me
and the children of Henry, to clear off his gamblng debts, which
stood in the way of his marrying as he wished;--and _he sold us_.
He told me, one day, that he had business in the country, and should
be gone two or three weeks. He spoke kinder than usual, and said
he should come back; but it didn't deceive me. I knew that the
time had come; I was just like one turned into stone; I couldn't
speak, nor shed a tear. He kissed me and kissed the children, a
good many times, and went out. I saw him get on his horse, and I
watched him till he was quite out of sight; and then I fell down,
and fainted.

"Then _he_ came, the cursed wretch! he came to take possession.
He told me that he had bought me and my children; and showed me
the papers. I cursed him before God, and told him I'd die sooner
than live with him."

"`Just as you please,' said he; `but, if you don't behave
reasonably, I'll sell both the children, where you shall never see
them again.' He told me that he always had meant to have me, from
the first time he saw me; and that he had drawn Henry on, and got
him in debt, on purpose to make him willing to sell me. That he
got him in love with another woman; and that I might know, after
all that, that he should not give up for a few airs and tears, and
things of that sort.

"I gave up, for my hands were tied. He had my children;--whenever
I resisted his will anywhere, he would talk about selling them,
and he made me as submissive as he desired. O, what a life it was!
to live with my heart breaking, every day,--to keep on, on, on,
loving, when it was only misery; and to be bound, body and soul,
to one I hated. I used to love to read to Henry, to play to him,
to waltz with him, and sing to him; but everything I did for this
one was a perfect drag,--yet I was afraid to refuse anything.
He was very imperious, and harsh to the children. Elise was a timid
little thing; but Henry was bold and high-spirited, like his father,
and he had never been brought under, in the least, by any one. He was
always finding fault, and quarrelling with him; and I used to live
in daily fear and dread. I tried to make the child respectful;--I
tried to keep them apart, for I held on to those children like
death; but it did no good. _He sold both those children_. He took
me to ride, one day, and when I came home, they were nowhere to
be found! He told me he had sold them; he showed me the money,
the price of their blood. Then it seemed as if all good forsook me.
I raved and cursed,--cursed God and man; and, for a while, I believe,
he really was afraid of me. But he didn't give up so. He told me
that my children were sold, but whether I ever saw their faces
again, depended on him; and that, if I wasn't quiet, they should
smart for it. Well, you can do anything with a woman, when you've
got her children. He made me submit; he made me be peaceable; he
flattered me with hopes that, perhaps, he would buy them back; and
so things went on, a week or two. One day, I was out walking, and
passed by the calaboose; I saw a crowd about the gate, and heard
a child's voice,--and suddenly my Henry broke away from two or
three men who were holding the poor boy screamed and looked into
my face, and held on to me, until, in tearing him off, they tore
the skirt of my dress half away; and they carried him in, screaming
`Mother! mother! mother!' There was one man stood there seemed to
pity me. I offered him all the money I had, if he'd only interfere.
He shook his head, and said that the boy had been impudent and
disobedient, ever since he bought him; that he was going to break
him in, once for all. I turned and ran; and every step of the way,
I thought that I heard him scream. I got into the house; ran, all
out of breath, to the parlor, where I found Butler. I told him,
and begged him to go and interfere. He only laughed, and told me
the boy had got his deserts. He'd got to be broken in,--the sooner
the better; `what did I expect?' he asked.

"It seemed to me something in my head snapped, at that moment.
I felt dizzy and furious. I remember seeing a great sharp
bowie-knife on the table; I remember something about catching it,
and flying upon him; and then all grew dark, and I didn't know any
more,--not for days and days.

"When I came to myself, I was in a nice room,--but not mine.
An old black woman tended me; and a doctor came to see me, and
there was a great deal of care taken of me. After a while, I
found that he had gone away, and left me at this house to be sold;
and that's why they took such pains with me.

"I didn't mean to get well, and hoped I shouldn't; but, in spite
of me the fever went off and I grew healthy, and finally got up.
Then, they made me dress up, every day; and gentlemen used to
come in and stand and smoke their cigars, and look at me, and ask
questions, and debate my price. I was so gloomy and silent, that
none of them wanted me. They threatened to whip me, if I wasn't
gayer, and didn't take some pains to make myself agreeable. At length,
one day, came a gentleman named Stuart. He seemed to have some
feeling for me; he saw that something dreadful was on my heart,
and he came to see me alone, a great many times, and finally
persuaded me to tell him. He bought me, at last, and promised
to do all he could to find and buy back my children. He went
to the hotel where my Henry was; they told him he had been sold
to a planter up on Pearl river; that was the last that I ever heard.
Then he found where my daughter was; an old woman was keeping her.
He offered an immense sum for her, but they would not sell her.
Butler found out that it was for me he wanted her; and he sent me
word that I should never have her. Captain Stuart was very kind
to me; he had a splendid plantation, and took me to it. In the
course of a year, I had a son born. O, that child!--how I loved it!
How just like my poor Henry the little thing looked! But I had
made up my mind,--yes, I had. I would never again let a child
live to grow up! I took the little fellow in my arms, when
he was two weeks old, and kissed him, and cried over him; and then
I gave him laudanum, and held him close to my bosom, while he slept
to death. How I mourned and cried over it! and who ever dreamed
that it was anything but a mistake, that had made me give it the
laudanum? but it's one of the few things that I'm glad of, now.
I am not sorry, to this day; he, at least, is out of pain. What
better than death could I give him, poor child! After a while, the
cholera came, and Captain Stuart died; everybody died that wanted
to live,--and I,--I, though I went down to death's door,--_I lived!_
Then I was sold, and passed from hand to hand, till I grew faded
and wrinkled, and I had a fever; and then this wretch bought me,
and brought me here,--and here I am!"

The woman stopped. She had hurried on through her story, with
a wild, passionate utterance; sometimes seeming to address it
to Tom, and sometimes speaking as in a soliloquy. So vehement and
overpowering was the force with which she spoke, that, for a season,
Tom was beguiled even from the pain of his wounds, and, raising himself
on one elbow, watched her as she paced restlessly up and down, her
long black hair swaying heavily about her, as she moved.

"You tell me," she said, after a pause, "that there is a God,--a
God that looks down and sees all these things. May be it's so.
The sisters in the convent used to tell me of a day of judgment,
when everything is coming to light;--won't there be vengeance, then!

"They think it's nothing, what we suffer,--nothing, what our
children suffer! It's all a small matter; yet I've walked the
streets when it seemed as if I had misery enough in my one heart
to sink the city. I've wished the houses would fall on me, or the
stones sink under me. Yes! and, in the judgment day, I will stand
up before God, a witness against those that have ruined me and my
children, body and soul!

"When I was a girl, I thought I was religious; I used to love
God and prayer. Now, I'm a lost soul, pursued by devils that
torment me day and night; they keep pushing me on and on--and I'll
do it, too, some of these days!" she said, clenching her hand,
while an insane light glanced in her heavy black eyes. "I'll send
him where he belongs,--a short way, too,--one of these nights, if
they burn me alive for it!" A wild, long laugh rang through the
deserted room, and ended in a hysteric sob; she threw herself on
the floor, in convulsive sobbing and struggles.

In a few moments, the frenzy fit seemed to pass off; she
rose slowly, and seemed to collect herself.

"Can I do anything more for you, my poor fellow?" she said,
approaching where Tom lay; "shall I give you some more water?"

There was a graceful and compassionate sweetness in her voice
and manner, as she said this, that formed a strange contrast
with the former wildness.

Tom drank the water, and looked earnestly and pitifully
into her face.

"O, Missis, I wish you'd go to him that can give you living waters!"

"Go to him! Where is he? Who is he?" said Cassy.

"Him that you read of to me,--the Lord."

"I used to see the picture of him, over the altar, when I
was a girl," said Cassy, her dark eyes fixing themselves in an
expression of mournful reverie; "but, _he isn't here!_ there's
nothing here, but sin and long, long, long despair! O!" She laid
her land on her breast and drew in her breath, as if to lift a
heavy weight.

Tom looked as if he would speak again; but she cut him short,
with a decided gesture.

"Don't talk, my poor fellow. Try to sleep, if you can."
And, placing water in his reach, and making whatever little
arrangements for his comforts she could, Cassy left the shed.

 

 

CHAPTER XXXV

The Tokens

 

"And slight, withal, may be the things that bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside forever; it may be a sound,
A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound,--
Striking the electric chain wherewith we're darkly bound."
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE, CAN. 4.

 

The sitting-room of Legree's establishment was a large, long
room, with a wide, ample fireplace. It had once been hung with
a showy and expensive paper, which now hung mouldering, torn
and discolored, from the damp walls. The place had that peculiar
sickening, unwholesome smell, compounded of mingled damp, dirt and
decay, which one often notices in close old houses. The wall-paper
was defaced, in spots, by slops of beer and wine; or garnished with
chalk memorandums, and long sums footed up, as if somebody had been
practising arithmetic there. In the fireplace stood a brazier full
of burning charcoal; for, though the weather was not cold, the
evenings always seemed damp and chilly in that great room; and
Legree, moreover, wanted a place to light his cigars, and heat his
water for punch. The ruddy glare of the charcoal displayed the
confused and unpromising aspect of the room,--saddles, bridles,
several sorts of harness, riding-whips, overcoats, and various
articles of clothing, scattered up and down the room in confused
variety; and the dogs, of whom we have before spoken, had encamped
themselves among them, to suit their own taste and convenience.

Legree was just mixing himself a tumbler of punch, pouring his
hot water from a cracked and broken-nosed pitcher, grumbling,
as he did so,

"Plague on that Sambo, to kick up this yer row between me and
the new hands! The fellow won't be fit to work for a week,
now,--right in the press of the season!"

"Yes, just like you," said a voice, behind his chair. It was
the woman Cassy, who had stolen upon his soliloquy.

"Hah! you she-devil! you've come back, have you?"

"Yes, I have," she said, coolly; "come to have my own way, too!"

"You lie, you jade! I'll be up to my word. Either behave
yourself, or stay down to the quarters, and fare and work with
the rest."

"I'd rather, ten thousand times," said the woman, "live in
the dirtiest hole at the quarters, than be under your hoof!"

"But you _are_ under my hoof, for all that," said he, turning
upon her, with a savage grin; "that's one comfort. So, sit
down here on my knee, my dear, and hear to reason," said he,
laying hold on her wrist.

"Simon Legree, take care!" said the woman, with a sharp flash
of her eye, a glance so wild and insane in its light as to
be almost appalling. "You're afraid of me, Simon," she said,
deliberately; "and you've reason to be! But be careful, for I've
got the devil in me!"

The last words she whispered in a hissing tone, close to
his ear.

"Get out! I believe, to my soul, you have!" said Legree,
pushing her from him, and looking uncomfortably at her.
"After all, Cassy," he said, "why can't you be friends with me,
as you used to?"

"Used to!" said she, bitterly. She stopped short,--a word
of choking feelings, rising in her heart, kept her silent.

Cassy had always kept over Legree the kind of influence that
a strong, impassioned woman can ever keep over the most brutal
man; but, of late, she had grown more and more irritable and
restless, under the hideous yoke of her servitude, and her
irritability, at times, broke out into raving insanity; and this
liability made her a sort of object of dread to Legree, who had
that superstitious horror of insane persons which is common to
coarse and uninstructed minds. When Legree brought Emmeline to
the house, all the smouldering embers of womanly feeling flashed
up in the worn heart of Cassy, and she took part with the girl;
and a fierce quarrel ensued between her and Legree. Legree, in a
fury, swore she should be put to field service, if she would not
be peaceable. Cassy, with proud scorn, declared she _would_ go to
the field. And she worked there one day, as we have described, to
show how perfectly she scorned the threat.

Legree was secretly uneasy, all day; for Cassy had an influence
over him from which he could not free himself. When she presented
her basket at the scales, he had hoped for some concession,
and addressed her in a sort of half conciliatory, half scornful
tone; and she had answered with the bitterest contempt.

The outrageous treatment of poor Tom had roused her still
more; and she had followed Legree to the house, with no particular
intention, but to upbraid him for his brutality.

"I wish, Cassy," said Legree, "you'd behave yourself decently."

"_You_ talk about behaving decently! And what have you been
doing?--you, who haven't even sense enough to keep from spoiling
one of your best hands, right in the most pressing season, just
for your devilish temper!"

"I was a fool, it's a fact, to let any such brangle come up,"
said Legree; "but, when the boy set up his will, he had to be
broke in."

"I reckon you won't break _him_ in!"

"Won't I?" said Legree, rising, passionately. "I'd like to
know if I won't? He'll be the first nigger that ever came it
round me! I'll break every bone in his body, but he _shall_
give up!"

Just then the door opened, and Sambo entered. He came
forward, bowing, and holding out something in a paper.

"What's that, you dog?" said Legree.

"It's a witch thing, Mas'r!"

"A what?"

"Something that niggers gets from witches. Keeps 'em from
feelin' when they 's flogged. He had it tied round his neck, with
a black string."

Legree, like most godless and cruel men, was superstitious.
He took the paper, and opened it uneasily.

There dropped out of it a silver dollar, and a long, shining
curl of fair hair,--hair which, like a living thing, twined itself
round Legree's fingers.

"Damnation!" he screamed, in sudden passion, stamping on the
floor, and pulling furiously at the hair, as if it burned him.
"Where did this come from? Take it off!--burn it up!--burn it up!"
he screamed, tearing it off, and throwing it into the charcoal.
"What did you bring it to me for?"

Sambo stood, with his heavy mouth wide open, and aghast with
wonder; and Cassy, who was preparing to leave the apartment,
stopped, and looked at him in perfect amazement.

"Don't you bring me any more of your devilish things!" said he,
shaking his fist at Sambo, who retreated hastily towards the door;
and, picking up the silver dollar, he sent it smashing through
the window-pane, out into the darkness.

Sambo was glad to make his escape. When he was gone, Legree
seemed a little ashamed of his fit of alarm. He sat doggedly
down in his chair, and began sullenly sipping his tumbler
of punch.

Cassy prepared herself for going out, unobserved by him; and
slipped away to minister to poor Tom, as we have already related.

And what was the matter with Legree? and what was there in a
simple curl of fair hair to appall that brutal man, familiar with
every form of cruelty? To answer this, we must carry the reader
backward in his history. Hard and reprobate as the godless man
seemed now, there had been a time when he had been rocked on the
bosom of a mother,--cradled with prayers and pious hymns,--his now
seared brow bedewed with the waters of holy baptism. In early
childhood, a fair-haired woman had led him, at the sound of Sabbath
bell, to worship and to pray. Far in New England that mother had
trained her only son, with long, unwearied love, and patient prayers.
Born of a hard-tempered sire, on whom that gentle woman had wasted
a world of unvalued love, Legree had followed in the steps of
his father. Boisterous, unruly, and tyrannical, he despised all her
counsel, and would none of her reproof; and, at an early age, broke
from her, to seek his fortunes at sea. He never came home but
once, after; and then, his mother, with the yearning of a heart
that must love something, and has nothing else to love, clung to
him, and sought, with passionate prayers and entreaties, to win
him from a life of sin, to his soul's eternal good.

That was Legree's day of grace; then good angels called him;
then he was almost persuaded, and mercy held him by the hand.
His heart inly relented,--there was a conflict,--but sin got the
victory, and he set all the force of his rough nature against the
conviction of his conscience. He drank and swore,--was wilder and
more brutal than ever. And, one night, when his mother, in the
last agony of her despair, knelt at his feet, he spurned her from
him,--threw her senseless on the floor, and, with brutal curses,
fled to his ship. The next Legree heard of his mother was, when,
one night, as he was carousing among drunken companions, a letter
was put into his hand. He opened it, and a lock of long, curling
hair fell from it, and twined about his fingers. The letter told
him his mother was dead, and that, dying, she blest and forgave him.

There is a dread, unhallowed necromancy of evil, that turns
things sweetest and holiest to phantoms of horror and affright.
That pale, loving mother,--her dying prayers, her forgiving
love,--wrought in that demoniac heart of sin only as a damning
sentence, bringing with it a fearful looking for of judgment and
fiery indignation. Legree burned the hair, and burned the letter;
and when he saw them hissing and crackling in the flame, inly
shuddered as he thought of everlasting fires. He tried to drink,
and revel, and swear away the memory; but often, in the deep night,
whose solemn stillness arraigns the bad soul in forced communion
with herself, he had seen that pale mother rising by his bedside,
and felt the soft twining of that hair around his fingers, till
the cold sweat would roll down his face, and he would spring from
his bed in horror. Ye who have wondered to hear, in the same
evangel, that God is love, and that God is a consuming fire, see
ye not how, to the soul resolved in evil, perfect love is the most
fearful torture, the seal and sentence of the direst despair?

"Blast it!" said Legree to himself, as he sipped his liquor;
"where did he get that? If it didn't look just like--whoo! I thought
I'd forgot that. Curse me, if I think there's any such thing as
forgetting anything, any how,--hang it! I'm lonesome! I mean to
call Em. She hates me--the monkey! I don't care,--I'll _make_
her come!"

Legree stepped out into a large entry, which went up stairs,
by what had formerly been a superb winding staircase; but the
passage-way was dirty and dreary, encumbered with boxes and
unsightly litter. The stairs, uncarpeted, seemed winding up,
in the gloom, to nobody knew where! The pale moonlight
streamed through a shattered fanlight over the door; the
air was unwholesome and chilly, like that of a vault.

Legree stopped at the foot of the stairs, and heard a voice
singing. It seemed strange and ghostlike in that dreary old house,
perhaps because of the already tremulous state of his nerves.
Hark! what is it?

A wild, pathetic voice, chants a hymn common among the
slaves:

 

"O there'll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
O there'll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!"

 

"Blast the girl!" said Legree. "I'll choke her.--Em! Em!" he
called, harshly; but only a mocking echo from the walls answered him.
The sweet voice still sung on:

 

"Parents and children there shall part!
Parents and children there shall part!
Shall part to meet no more!"

And clear and loud swelled through the empty halls the refrain,

 

"O there'll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
O there'll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!"

 

Legree stopped. He would have been ashamed to tell of it,
but large drops of sweat stood on his forehead, his heart beat
heavy and thick with fear; he even thought he saw something white
rising and glimmering in the gloom before him, and shuddered to
think what if the form of his dead mother should suddenly appear
to him.

"I know one thing," he said to himself, as he stumbled back
in the sitting-room, and sat down; "I'll let that fellow alone,
after this! What did I want of his cussed paper? I b'lieve
I am bewitched, sure enough! I've been shivering and sweating,
ever since! Where did he get that hair? It couldn't have
been _that!_ I burnt _that_ up, I know I did! It would be a joke,
if hair could rise from the dead!"

Ah, Legree! that golden tress _was_ charmed; each hair had
in it a spell of terror and remorse for thee, and was used by a
mightier power to bind thy cruel hands from inflicting uttermost
evil on the helpless!

"I say," said Legree, stamping and whistling to the dogs,
"wake up, some of you, and keep me company!" but the dogs only
opened one eye at him, sleepily, and closed it again.

"I'll have Sambo and Quimbo up here, to sing and dance one
of their hell dances, and keep off these horrid notions," said
Legree; and, putting on his hat, he went on to the verandah, and
blew a horn, with which he commonly summoned his two sable drivers.

Legree was often wont, when in a gracious humor, to get these
two worthies into his sitting-room, and, after warming them up
with whiskey, amuse himself by setting them to singing, dancing
or fighting, as the humor took him.

It was between one and two o'clock at night, as Cassy was
returning from her ministrations to poor Tom, that she heard the
sound of wild shrieking, whooping, halloing, and singing, from the
sitting-room, mingled with the barking of dogs, and other symptoms
of general uproar.

She came up on the verandah steps, and looked in. Legree and
both the drivers, in a state of furious intoxication, were
singing, whooping, upsetting chairs, and making all manner of
ludicrous and horrid grimaces at each other.

She rested her small, slender hand on the window-blind, and
looked fixedly at them;--there was a world of anguish, scorn,
and fierce bitterness, in her black eyes, as she did so.
"Would it be a sin to rid the world of such a wretch?"
she said to herself.

She turned hurriedly away, and, passing round to a back
door, glided up stairs, and tapped at Emmeline's door.

 

 

CHAPTER XXXVI

Emmeline and Cassy

 

Cassy entered the room, and found Emmeline sitting, pale with
fear, in the furthest corner of it. As she came in, the girl
started up nervously; but, on seeing who it was, rushed forward,
and catching her arm, said, "O Cassy, is it you? I'm so glad you've
come! I was afraid it was--. O, you don't know what a horrid noise
there has been, down stairs, all this evening!"

"I ought to know," said Cassy, dryly. "I've heard it often enough."

"O Cassy! do tell me,--couldn't we get away from this place?
I don't care where,--into the swamp among the snakes,--anywhere!
_Couldn't_ we get _somewhere_ away from here?"

"Nowhere, but into our graves," said Cassy.

"Did you ever try?"

"I've seen enough of trying and what comes of it," said Cassy.

"I'd be willing to live in the swamps, and gnaw the bark
from trees. I an't afraid of snakes! I'd rather have one near me
than him," said Emmeline, eagerly.

"There have been a good many here of your opinion," said Cassy;
"but you couldn't stay in the swamps,--you'd be tracked by
the dogs, and brought back, and then--then--"

"What would he do?" said the girl, looking, with breathless
interest, into her face.

"What _wouldn't_ he do, you'd better ask," said Cassy.
"He's learned his trade well, among the pirates in the West Indies.
You wouldn't sleep much, if I should tell you things I've seen,--things
that he tells of, sometimes, for good jokes. I've heard screams
here that I haven't been able to get out of my head for weeks
and weeks. There's a place way out down by the quarters, where you
can see a black, blasted tree, and the ground all covered with
black ashes. Ask anyone what was done there, and see if they will
dare to tell you."

"O! what do you mean?"

"I won't tell you. I hate to think of it. And I tell you, the
Lord only knows what we may see tomorrow, if that poor fellow
holds out as he's begun."

"Horrid!" said Emmeline, every drop of blood receding from
her cheeks. "O, Cassy, do tell me what I shall do!"

"What I've done. Do the best you can,--do what you must,--and
make it up in hating and cursing."

"He wanted to make me drink some of his hateful brandy,"
said Emmeline; "and I hate it so--"

"You'd better drink," said Cassy. "I hated it, too; and
now I can't live without it. One must have something;--things
don't look so dreadful, when you take that."

"Mother used to tell me never to touch any such thing,"
said Emmeline.

"_Mother_ told you!" said Cassy, with a thrilling and bitter
emphasis on the word mother. "What use is it for mothers to say
anything? You are all to be bought and paid for, and your souls
belong to whoever gets you. That's the way it goes. I say, _drink_
brandy; drink all you can, and it'll make things come easier."

"O, Cassy! do pity me!"

"Pity you!--don't I? Haven't I a daughter,--Lord knows
where she is, and whose she is, now,--going the way her mother
went, before her, I suppose, and that her children must go,
after her! There's no end to the curse--forever!"

"I wish I'd never been born!" said Emmeline, wringing her hands.

"That's an old wish with me," said Cassy. "I've got used to
wishing that. I'd die, if I dared to," she said, looking out
into the darkness, with that still, fixed despair which was the
habitual expression of her face when at rest.

"It would be wicked to kill one's self," said Emmeline.

"I don't know why,--no wickeder than things we live and do,
day after day. But the sisters told me things, when I was in
the convent, that make me afraid to die. If it would only be the
end of us, why, then--"

Emmeline turned away, and hid her face in her hands.

While this conversation was passing in the chamber, Legree,
overcome with his carouse, had sunk to sleep in the room below.
Legree was not an habitual drunkard. His coarse, strong nature
craved, and could endure, a continual stimulation, that would have
utterly wrecked and crazed a finer one. But a deep, underlying
spirit of cautiousness prevented his often yielding to appetite in
such measure as to lose control of himself

This night, however, in his feverish efforts to banish from his
mind those fearful elements of woe and remorse which woke within
him, he had indulged more than common; so that, when he had discharged
his sable attendants, he fell heavily on a settle in the room, and
was sound asleep.

O! how dares the bad soul to enter the shadowy world of
sleep?--that land whose dim outlines lie so fearfully near to the
mystic scene of retribution! Legree dreamed. In his heavy and
feverish sleep, a veiled form stood beside him, and laid a cold,
soft hand upon him. He thought he knew who it was; and shuddered,
with creeping horror, though the face was veiled. Then he
thought he felt _that hair_ twining round his fingers; and then,
that it slid smoothly round his neck, and tightened and tightened,
and he could not draw his breath; and then he thought voices
_whispered_ to him,--whispers that chilled him with horror. Then
it seemed to him he was on the edge of a frightful abyss, holding
on and struggling in mortal fear, while dark hands stretched up,
and were pulling him over; and Cassy came behind him laughing, and
pushed him. And then rose up that solemn veiled figure, and drew
aside the veil. It was his mother; and she turned away from him,
and he fell down, down, down, amid a confused noise of shrieks,
and groans, and shouts of demon laughter,--and Legree awoke.

Calmly the rosy hue of dawn was stealing into the room.
The morning star stood, with its solemn, holy eye of light, looking
down on the man of sin, from out the brightening sky. O, with what
freshness, what solemnity and beauty, is each new day born; as if
to say to insensate man, "Behold! thou hast one more chance!
_Strive_ for immortal glory!" There is no speech nor language where
this voice is not heard; but the bold, bad man heard it not. He woke
with an oath and a curse. What to him was the gold and purple,
the daily miracle of morning! What to him the sanctity of the star
which the Son of God has hallowed as his own emblem? Brute-like,
he saw without perceiving; and, stumbling forward, poured out a
tumbler of brandy, and drank half of it.

"I've had a h--l of a night!" he said to Cassy, who just
then entered from an opposite door.

"You'll get plenty of the same sort, by and by," said she, dryly.

"What do you mean, you minx?"

"You'll find out, one of these days," returned Cassy, in the
same tone. "Now Simon, I've one piece of advice to give you."

"The devil, you have!"

"My advice is," said Cassy, steadily, as she began adjusting
some things about the room, "that you let Tom alone."

"What business is 't of yours?"

"What? To be sure, I don't know what it should be. If you
want to pay twelve hundred for a fellow, and use him right up in
the press of the season, just to serve your own spite, it's no
business of mine, I've done what I could for him."

"You have? What business have you meddling in my matters?"

"None, to be sure. I've saved you some thousands of dollars,
at different times, by taking care of your hands,--that's all the
thanks I get. If your crop comes shorter into market than any of
theirs, you won't lose your bet, I suppose? Tompkins won't lord it
over you, I suppose,--and you'll pay down your money like a lady,
won't you? I think I see you doing it!"

Legree, like many other planters, had but one form of
ambition,--to have in the heaviest crop of the season,--and he had
several bets on this very present season pending in the next town.
Cassy, therefore, with woman's tact, touched the only string that
could be made to vibrate.

"Well, I'll let him off at what he's got," said Legree;
"but he shall beg my pardon, and promise better fashions."

"That he won't do," said Cassy.

"Won't,-- eh?"

"No, he won't," said Cassy.

"I'd like to know _why_, Mistress," said Legree, in the
extreme of scorn.

"Because he's done right, and he knows it, and won't say
he's done wrong."

"Who a cuss cares what he knows? The nigger shall say what
I please, or--"

"Or, you'll lose your bet on the cotton crop, by keeping
him out of the field, just at this very press."

"But he _will_ give up,--course, he will; don't I know what
niggers is? He'll beg like a dog, this morning."

He won't, Simon; you don't know this kind. You may kill him
by inches,--you won't get the first word of confession out of him."

"We'll see,--where is he?" said Legree, going out.

"In the waste-room of the gin-house," said Cassy.

Legree, though he talked so stoutly to Cassy, still sallied forth
from the house with a degree of misgiving which was not common
with him. His dreams of the past night, mingled with Cassy's
prudential suggestions, considerably affected his mind. He resolved
that nobody should be witness of his encounter with Tom; and
determined, if he could not subdue him by bullying, to defer his
vengeance, to be wreaked in a more convenient season.

The solemn light of dawn--the angelic glory of the
morning-star--had looked in through the rude window of the shed
where Tom was lying; and, as if descending on that star-beam, came
the solemn words, "I am the root and offspring of David, and the
bright and morning star." The mysterious warnings and intimations
of Cassy, so far from discouraging his soul, in the end had roused
it as with a heavenly call. He did not know but that the day of
his death was dawning in the sky; and his heart throbbed with solemn
throes of joy and desire, as he thought that the wondrous _all_,
of which he had often pondered,--the great white throne, with its
ever radiant rainbow; the white-robed multitude, with voices as
many waters; the crowns, the palms, the harps,--might all break
upon his vision before that sun should set again. And, therefore,
without shuddering or trembling, he heard the voice of his persecutor,
as he drew near.

"Well, my boy," said Legree, with a contemptuous kick, "how do
you find yourself? Didn't I tell yer I could larn yer a thing
or two? How do yer like it--eh?

How did yer whaling agree with yer, Tom? An't quite so crank as ye
was last night. Ye couldn't treat a poor sinner, now, to a bit of
sermon, could ye,--eh?"

Tom answered nothing.

"Get up, you beast!" said Legree, kicking him again.

This was a difficult matter for one so bruised and faint;
and, as Tom made efforts to do so, Legree laughed brutally.

"What makes ye so spry, this morning, Tom? Cotched cold,
may be, last night."

Tom by this time had gained his feet, and was confronting
his master with a steady, unmoved front.

"The devil, you can!" said Legree, looking him over. "I believe
you haven't got enough yet. Now, Tom, get right down on yer
knees and beg my pardon, for yer shines last night."

Tom did not move.

"Down, you dog!" said Legree, striking him with his
riding-whip.

"Mas'r Legree," said Tom, "I can't do it. I did only what
I thought was right. I shall do just so again, if ever the
time comes. I never will do a cruel thing, come what may."

"Yes, but ye don't know what may come, Master Tom. Ye think
what you've got is something. I tell you 'tan't anything,--nothing
't all. How would ye like to be tied to a tree, and have a slow
fire lit up around ye;--wouldn't that be pleasant,--eh, Tom?"

"Mas'r," said Tom, "I know ye can do dreadful things;
but,"--he stretched himself upward and clasped his hands,--"but,
after ye've killed the body, there an't no more ye can do. And O,
there's all ETERNITY to come, after that!"

ETERNITY,--the word thrilled through the black man's soul with
light and power, as he spoke; it thrilled through the sinner's
soul, too, like the bite of a scorpion. Legree gnashed on him
with his teeth, but rage kept him silent; and Tom, like a man
disenthralled, spoke, in a clear and cheerful voice,

"Mas'r Legree, as ye bought me, I'll be a true and faithful
servant to ye. I'll give ye all the work of my hands, all my time,
all my strength; but my soul I won't give up to mortal man. I will
hold on to the Lord, and put his commands before all,--die or live;
you may be sure on 't. Mas'r Legree, I ain't a grain afeard to die.
I'd as soon die as not. Ye may whip me, starve me, burn me,--it'll
only send me sooner where I want to go."

"I'll make ye give out, though, 'fore I've done!" said
Legree, in a rage.

"I shall have _help_," said Tom; "you'll never do it."

"Who the devil's going to help you?" said Legree, scornfully.

"The Lord Almighty," said Tom.

"D--n you!" said Legree, as with one blow of his fist he
felled Tom to the earth.

A cold soft hand fell on Legree's at this moment. He turned,--it
was Cassy's; but the cold soft touch recalled his dream of the
night before, and, flashing through the chambers of his brain,
came all the fearful images of the night-watches, with a
portion of the horror that accompanied them.

"Will you be a fool?" said Cassy, in French. "Let him go!
Let me alone to get him fit to be in the field again. Isn't it
just as I told you?"

They say the alligator, the rhinoceros, though enclosed in
bullet-proof mail, have each a spot where they are vulnerable; and
fierce, reckless, unbelieving reprobates, have commonly this point
in superstitious dread.

Legree turned away, determined to let the point go for the time.

"Well, have it your own way," he said, doggedly, to Cassy.

"Hark, ye!" he said to Tom; "I won't deal with ye now,
because the business is pressing, and I want all my hands;
but I _never_ forget. I'll score it against ye, and sometime
I'll have my pay out o' yer old black hide,--mind ye!"

Legree turned, and went out.

"There you go," said Cassy, looking darkly after him; "your
reckoning's to come, yet!--My poor fellow, how are you?"

"The Lord God hath sent his angel, and shut the lion's
mouth, for this time," said Tom.

"For this time, to be sure," said Cassy; "but now you've got
his ill will upon you, to follow you day in, day out, hanging
like a dog on your throat,--sucking your blood, bleeding away your
life, drop by drop. I know the man."

 

 

CHAPTER XXXVII

Liberty

 

"No matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted
upon the altar of slavery, the moment he touches the sacred soil
of Britain, the altar and the God sink together in the dust, and
he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible
genius of universal emancipation."
CURRAN.[1]

 

[1] John Philpot Curran (1750-1817), Irish orator and judge
who worked for Catholic emancipation.

 

A while we must leave Tom in the hands of his persecutors,
while we turn to pursue the fortunes of George and his wife, whom
we left in friendly hands, in a farmhouse on the road-side.

Tom Loker we left groaning and touzling in a most immaculately
clean Quaker bed, under the motherly supervision of Aunt Dorcas,
who found him to the full as tractable a patient as a sick bison.

Imagine a tall, dignified, spiritual woman, whose clear muslin
cap shades waves of silvery hair, parted on a broad, clear forehead,
which overarches thoughtful gray eyes. A snowy handkerchief of
lisse crape is folded neatly across her bosom; her glossy brown
silk dress rustles peacefully, as she glides up and down the chamber.

"The devil!" says Tom Loker, giving a great throw to the bedclothes.

"I must request thee, Thomas, not to use such language,"
says Aunt Dorcas, as she quietly rearranged the bed.

"Well, I won't, granny, if I can help it," says Tom; "but
it is enough to make a fellow swear,--so cursedly hot!"

Dorcas removed a comforter from the bed, straightened the
clothes again, and tucked them in till Tom looked something like
a chrysalis; remarking, as she did so,

"I wish, friend, thee would leave off cursing and swearing,
and think upon thy ways."

"What the devil," said Tom, "should I think of _them_ for?
Last thing ever _I_ want to think of--hang it all!" And Tom
flounced over, untucking and disarranging everything, in a
manner frightful to behold.

"That fellow and gal are here, I 'spose," said he, sullenly,
after a pause.

"They are so," said Dorcas.

"They'd better be off up to the lake," said Tom; "the
quicker the better."

"Probably they will do so," said Aunt Dorcas, knitting peacefully.

"And hark ye," said Tom; "we've got correspondents in Sandusky,
that watch the boats for us. I don't care if I tell, now.
I hope they _will_ get away, just to spite Marks,--the cursed
puppy!--d--n him!"

"Thomas!" said Dorcas.

"I tell you, granny, if you bottle a fellow up too tight, I shall
split," said Tom. "But about the gal,--tell 'em to dress her up
some way, so's to alter her. Her description's out in Sandusky."

"We will attend to that matter," said Dorcas, with
characteristic composure.

As we at this place take leave of Tom Loker, we may as well
say, that, having lain three weeks at the Quaker dwelling,
sick with a rheumatic fever, which set in, in company with
his other afflictions, Tom arose from his bed a somewhat
sadder and wiser man; and, in place of slave-catching, betook
himself to life in one of the new settlements, where his talents
developed themselves more happily in trapping bears, wolves, and
other inhabitants of the forest, in which he made himself quite a
name in the land. Tom always spoke reverently of the Quakers.
"Nice people," he would say; "wanted to convert me, but couldn't
come it, exactly. But, tell ye what, stranger, they do fix up a
sick fellow first rate,--no mistake. Make jist the tallest kind
o' broth and knicknacks."

As Tom had informed them that their party would be looked for
in Sandusky, it was thought prudent to divide them. Jim, with
his old mother, was forwarded separately; and a night or two after,
George and Eliza, with their child, were driven privately into
Sandusky, and lodged beneath a hospital roof, preparatory to taking
their last passage on the lake.

Their night was now far spent, and the morning star of liberty
rose fair before them!--electric word! What is it? Is there
anything more in it than a name--a rhetorical flourish? Why, men
and women of America, does your heart's blood thrill at that word,
for which your fathers bled, and your braver mothers were willing
that their noblest and best should die?

Is there anything in it glorious and dear for a nation, that
is not also glorious and dear for a man? What is freedom to
a nation, but freedom to the individuals in it? What is freedom to
that young man, who sits there, with his arms folded over his broad
chest, the tint of African blood in his cheek, its dark fires in
his eyes,--what is freedom to George Harris? To your fathers,
freedom was the right of a nation to be a nation. To him, it is
the right of a man to be a man, and not a brute; the right to call
the wife of his bosom is wife, and to protect her from lawless
violence; the right to protect and educate his child; the right to
have a home of his own, a religion of his own, a character of his
own, unsubject to the will of another. All these thoughts were
rolling and seething in George's breast, as he was pensively leaning
his head on his hand, watching his wife, as she was adapting to her
slender and pretty form the articles of man's attire, in which it
was deemed safest she should make her escape.

"Now for it," said she, as she stood before the glass, and shook
down her silky abundance of black curly hair. "I say, George,
it's almost a pity, isn't it," she said, as she held up some of
it, playfully,--"pity it's all got to come off?"

George smiled sadly, and made no answer.

Eliza turned to the glass, and the scissors glittered as
one long lock after another was detached from her head.

"There, now, that'll do," she said, taking up a hair-brush;
"now for a few fancy touches."

"There, an't I a pretty young fellow?" she said, turning
around to her husband, laughing and blushing at the same time.

"You always will be pretty, do what you will," said George.

"What does make you so sober?" said Eliza, kneeling on one knee,
and laying her hand on his. "We are only within twenty-four
hours of Canada, they say. Only a day and a night on the lake,
and then--oh, then!--"

"O, Eliza!" said George, drawing her towards him; "that is it!
Now my fate is all narrowing down to a point. To come so near,
to be almost in sight, and then lose all. I should never live
under it, Eliza."

"Don't fear," said his wife, hopefully. "The good Lord would
not have brought us so far, if he didn't mean to carry us through.
I seem to feel him with us, George."

"You are a blessed woman, Eliza!" said George, clasping her with
a convulsive grasp. "But,--oh, tell me! can this great mercy be
for us? Will these years and years of misery come to an end?--shall
we be free?

"I am sure of it, George," said Eliza, looking upward, while
tears of hope and enthusiasm shone on her long, dark lashes.
"I feel it in me, that God is going to bring us out of bondage,
this very day."

"I will believe you, Eliza," said George, rising suddenly up,
"I will believe,--come let's be off. Well, indeed," said he,
holding her off at arm's length, and looking admiringly at her,
"you _are_ a pretty little fellow. That crop of little, short
curls, is quite becoming. Put on your cap. So--a little to
one side. I never saw you look quite so pretty. But, it's almost
time for the carriage;--I wonder if Mrs. Smyth has got Harry rigged?"

The door opened, and a respectable, middle-aged woman
entered, leading little Harry, dressed in girl's clothes.

"What a pretty girl he makes," said Eliza, turning him round.
"We call him Harriet, you see;--don't the name come nicely?"

The child stood gravely regarding his mother in her new and
strange attire, observing a profound silence, and occasionally
drawing deep sighs, and peeping at her from under his dark curls.

"Does Harry know mamma?" said Eliza, stretching her hands
toward him.

The child clung shyly to the woman.

"Come Eliza, why do you try to coax him, when you know that
he has got to be kept away from you?"

"I know it's foolish," said Eliza; "yet, I can't bear to have
him turn away from me. But come,--where's my cloak? Here,--how
is it men put on cloaks, George?"

"You must wear it so," said her husband, throwing it over
his shoulders.

"So, then," said Eliza, imitating the motion,--"and I must stamp,
and take long steps, and try to look saucy."

"Don't exert yourself," said George. "There is, now and then,
a modest young man; and I think it would be easier for you
to act that character."

"And these gloves! mercy upon us!" said Eliza; "why, my
hands are lost in them."

"I advise you to keep them on pretty strictly," said George.
"Your slender paw might bring us all out. Now, Mrs. Smyth, you
are to go under our charge, and be our aunty,--you mind."

"I've heard," said Mrs. Smyth, "that there have been men down,
warning all the packet captains against a man and woman, with
a little boy."

"They have!" said George. "Well, if we see any such people,
we can tell them."

A hack now drove to the door, and the friendly family who had
received the fugitives crowded around them with farewell greetings.

The disguises the party had assumed were in accordance with
the hints of Tom Loker. Mrs. Smyth, a respectable woman from the
settlement in Canada, whither they were fleeing, being fortunately
about crossing the lake to return thither, had consented to appear
as the aunt of little Harry; and, in order to attach him to her,
he had been allowed to remain, the two last days, under her sole
charge; and an extra amount of petting, jointed to an indefinite
amount of seed-cakes and candy, had cemented a very close attachment
on the part of the young gentleman.

The hack drove to the wharf. The two young men, as they appeared,
walked up the plank into the boat, Eliza gallantly giving her arm
to Mrs. Smyth, and George attending to their baggage.

George was standing at the captain's office, settling for
his party, when he overheard two men talking by his side.

"I've watched every one that came on board," said one, "and
I know they're not on this boat."

The voice was that of the clerk of the boat. The speaker
whom he addressed was our sometime friend Marks, who, with that
valuable perservance which characterized him, had come on to
Sandusky, seeking whom he might devour.

"You would scarcely know the woman from a white one," said Marks.
"The man is a very light mulatto; he has a brand in one of
his hands."

The hand with which George was taking the tickets and change
trembled a little; but he turned coolly around, fixed an unconcerned
glance on the face of the speaker, and walked leisurely toward
another part of the boat, where Eliza stood waiting for him.

Mrs. Smyth, with little Harry, sought the seclusion of the
ladies' cabin, where the dark beauty of the supposed little girl
drew many flattering comments from the passengers.

George had the satisfaction, as the bell rang out its farewell
peal, to see Marks walk down the plank to the shore; and drew
a long sigh of relief, when the boat had put a returnless
distance between them.

It was a superb day. The blue waves of Lake Erie danced,
rippling and sparkling, in the sun-light. A fresh breeze blew from
the shore, and the lordly boat ploughed her way right gallantly
onward.

O, what an untold world there is in one human heart! Who thought,
as George walked calmly up and down the deck of the steamer,
with his shy companion at his side, of all that was burning in
his bosom? The mighty good that seemed approaching seemed too good,
too fair, even to be a reality; and he felt a jealous dread, every
moment of the day, that something would rise to snatch it from him.

But the boat swept on. Hours fleeted, and, at last, clear and
full rose the blessed English shores; shores charmed by a mighty
spell,--with one touch to dissolve every incantation of slavery,
no matter in what language pronounced, or by what national
power confirmed.

George and his wife stood arm in arm, as the boat neared
the small town of Amherstberg, in Canada. His breath grew thick
and short; a mist gathered before his eyes; he silently pressed
the little hand that lay trembling on his arm. The bell rang; the
boat stopped. Scarcely seeing what he did, he looked out his
baggage, and gathered his little party. The little company were
landed on the shore. They stood still till the boat had cleared;
and then, with tears and embracings, the husband and wife, with
their wondering child in their arms, knelt down and lifted up their
hearts to God!

 

"'T was something like the burst from death to life;
From the grave's cerements to the robes of heaven;
From sin's dominion, and from passion's strife,
To the pure freedom of a soul forgiven;
Where all the bonds of death and hell are riven,
And mortal puts on immortality,
When Mercy's hand hath turned the golden key,
And Mercy's voice hath said, _Rejoice, thy soul is free."_

 

The little party were soon guided, by Mrs. Smyth, to the
hospitable abode of a good missionary, whom Christian charity has
placed here as a shepherd to the outcast and wandering, who are
constantly finding an asylum on this shore.

Who can speak the blessedness of that first day of freedom?
Is not the _sense_ of liberty a higher and a finer one than any of
the five? To move, speak and breathe,--go out and come in unwatched,
and free from danger! Who can speak the blessings of that rest
which comes down on the free man's pillow, under laws which insure
to him the rights that God has given to man? How fair and precious
to that mother was that sleeping child's face, endeared by the memory
of a thousand dangers! How impossible was it to sleep, in the
exuberant posession of such blessedness! And yet, these two had
not one acre of ground,--not a roof that they could call their
own,--they had spent their all, to the last dollar. They had
nothing more than the birds of the air, or the flowers of the
field,--yet they could not sleep for joy. "O, ye who take freedom
from man, with what words shall ye answer it to God?"

 

 

CHAPTER XXXVIII

The Victory

 

"Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory."[1]

 

[1] I Cor. 15:57.

 

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in
some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and
horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant
and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which
may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour
of eternal glory and rest.

But to live,--to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low,
harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every
power of feeling gradually smothered,--this long and wasting
heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life,
drop by drop, hour after hour,--this is the true searching test of
what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his
threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come,
his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear
torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven
but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present
excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary
limbs,--came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless,
forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.

Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he
should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after
day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice
and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could
devise. Whoever, in _our_ circumstances, has made trial of pain,
even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it,
must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered
at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the
placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life,
broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing.
He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there
was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season,
Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays
and week-days alike. Why shouldn't he?--he made more cotton by
it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he
could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two
of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned
from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received,
he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes
failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself
down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had
upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and
despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life
was constantly before his eyes,--souls crushed and ruined, evil
triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom
wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of
Miss Ophelia's letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray
earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would
watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to
redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul
bitter thoughts,--that it was vain to serve God, that God had
forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned
to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline,
but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no
time for him to commune with anybody.

One evening, he was sitting, in utter dejection and prostration,
by a few decaying brands, where his coarse supper was baking.
He put a few bits of brushwood on the fire, and strove to
raise the light, and then drew his worn Bible from his pocket.
There were all the marked passages, which had thrilled his soul so
often,--words of patriarchs and seers, poets and sages, who from
early time had spoken courage to man,--voices from the great cloud
of witnesses who ever surround us in the race of life. Had the
word lost its power, or could the failing eye and weary sense no
longer answer to the touch of that mighty inspiration? Heavily
sighing, he put it in his pocket. A coarse laugh roused him; he
looked up,--Legree was standing opposite to him.

"Well, old boy," he said, "you find your religion don't work,
it seems! I thought I should get that through your wool, at last!"

The cruel taunt was more than hunger and cold and nakedness.
Tom was silent.

"You were a fool," said Legree; "for I meant to do well by you,
when I bought you. You might have been better off than Sambo,
or Quimbo either, and had easy times; and, instead of getting cut
up and thrashed, every day or two, ye might have had liberty to
lord it round, and cut up the other niggers; and ye might have had,
now and then, a good warming of whiskey punch. Come, Tom, don't
you think you'd better be reasonable?--heave that ar old pack of
trash in the fire, and join my church!"

"The Lord forbid!" said Tom, fervently.

"You see the Lord an't going to help you; if he had been, he
wouldn't have let _me_ get you! This yer religion is all a mess
of lying trumpery, Tom. I know all about it. Ye'd better hold to
me; I'm somebody, and can do something!"

"No, Mas'r," said Tom; "I'll hold on. The Lord may help me,
or not help; but I'll hold to him, and believe him to the last!"

"The more fool you!" said Legree, spitting scornfully at him,
and spurning him with his foot. "Never mind; I'll chase you down,
yet, and bring you under,--you'll see!" and Legree turned away.

When a heavy weight presses the soul to the lowest level at
which endurance is possible, there is an instant and desperate
effort of every physical and moral nerve to throw off the weight;
and hence the heaviest anguish often precedes a return tide of joy
and courage. So was it now with Tom. The atheistic taunts of his
cruel master sunk his before dejected soul to the lowest ebb; and,
though the hand of faith still held to the eternal rock, it was a
numb, despairing grasp. Tom sat, like one stunned, at the fire.
Suddenly everything around him seemed to fade, and a vision rose
before him of one crowned with thorns, buffeted and bleeding.
Tom gazed, in awe and wonder, at the majestic patience of the face;
the deep, pathetic eyes thrilled him to his inmost heart; his soul
woke, as, with floods of emotion, he stretched out his hands and
fell upon his knees,--when, gradually, the vision changed: the
sharp thorns became rays of glory; and, in splendor inconceivable,
he saw that same face bending compassionately towards him, and a
voice said, "He that overcometh shall sit down with me on my throne,
even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father on his throne."

How long Tom lay there, he knew not. When he came to himself,
the fire was gone out, his clothes were wet with the chill and
drenching dews; but the dread soul-crisis was past, and, in the
joy that filled him, he no longer felt hunger, cold, degradation,
disappointment, wretchedness. From his deepest soul, he that
hour loosed and parted from every hope in life that now is, and
offered his own will an unquestioning sacrifice to the Infinite.
Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,--types of the
angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the
night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung
often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:

 

"The earth shall be dissolved like snow,
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.

"And when this mortal life shall fail,
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining like the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun."

 

Those who have been familiar with the religious histories of
the slave population know that relations like what we have
narrated are very common among them. We have heard some from their
own lips, of a very touching and affecting character. The psychologist
tells us of a state, in which the affections and images of the mind
become so dominant and overpowering, that they press into their
service the outward imagining. Who shall measure what an all-pervading
Spirit may do with these capabilities of our mortality, or the ways
in which He may encourage the desponding souls of the desolate?
If the poor forgotten slave believes that Jesus hath appeared and
spoken to him, who shall contradict him? Did He not say that his,
mission, in all ages, was to bind up the broken-hearted, and set
at liberty them that are bruised?

When the dim gray of dawn woke the slumberers to go forth to the
field, there was among those tattered and shivering wretches one
who walked with an exultant tread; for firmer than the ground he
trod on was his strong faith in Almighty, eternal love. Ah, Legree,
try all your forces now! Utmost agony, woe, degradation, want,
and loss of all things, shall only hasten on the process by which
he shall be made a king and a priest unto God!

From this time, an inviolable sphere of peace encompassed the
lowly heart of the oppressed one,--an ever-present Saviour
hallowed it as a temple. Past now the bleeding of earthly regrets;
past its fluctuations of hope, and fear, and desire; the human
will, bent, and bleeding, and struggling long, was now entirely
merged in the Divine. So short now seemed the remaining voyage of
life,--so near, so vivid, seemed eternal blessedness,--that life's
uttermost woes fell from him unharming.

All noticed the change in his appearance. Cheerfulness and
alertness seemed to return to him, and a quietness which no
insult or injury could ruffle seemed to possess him.

"What the devil's got into Tom?" Legree said to Sambo. "A while
ago he was all down in the mouth, and now he's peart as a cricket."

"Dunno, Mas'r; gwine to run off, mebbe."

"Like to see him try that," said Legree, with a savage grin,
"wouldn't we, Sambo?"

"Guess we would! Haw! haw! ho!" said the sooty gnome,
laughing obsequiously. "Lord, de fun! To see him stickin' in de
mud,--chasin' and tarin' through de bushes, dogs a holdin' on to
him! Lord, I laughed fit to split, dat ar time we cotched Molly.
I thought they'd a had her all stripped up afore I could get 'em off.
She car's de marks o' dat ar spree yet."

"I reckon she will, to her grave," said Legree. "But now,
Sambo, you look sharp. If the nigger's got anything of this sort
going, trip him up."

"Mas'r, let me lone for dat," said Sambo, "I'll tree de coon.
Ho, ho, ho!"

This was spoken as Legree was getting on his horse, to go to
the neighboring town. That night, as he was returning, he
thought he would turn his horse and ride round the quarters, and
see if all was safe.

It was a superb moonlight night, and the shadows of the graceful
China trees lay minutely pencilled on the turf below, and
there was that transparent stillness in the air which it seems
almost unholy to disturb. Legree was a little distance from the
quarters, when he heard the voice of some one singing. It was not
a usual sound there, and he paused to listen. A musical tenor
voice sang,

"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I'll bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes

"Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurled,
Then I can smile at Satan's rage,
And face a frowning world.

"Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall,
May I but safely reach my home,
My god, my Heaven, my All."[2]

 

[2] "On My Journey Home," hymn by Isaac Watts, found in many
of the southern country songbooks of the ante bellum period.

 

"So ho!" said Legree to himself, "he thinks so, does he? How I hate
these cursed Methodist hymns! Here, you nigger," said he, coming
suddenly out upon Tom, and raising his riding-whip, "how dare you
be gettin' up this yer row, when you ought to be in bed? Shut yer
old black gash, and get along in with you!"

"Yes, Mas'r," said Tom, with ready cheerfulness, as he rose
to to in.

Legree was provoked beyond measure by Tom's evident happiness;
and riding up to him, belabored him over his head and shoulders.

"There, you dog," he said, "see if you'll feel so comfortable,
after that!"

But the blows fell now only on the outer man, and not, as
before, on the heart. Tom stood perfectly submissive; and yet
Legree could not hide from himself that his power over his bond
thrall was somehow gone. And, as Tom disappeared in his cabin,
and he wheeled his horse suddenly round, there passed through his
mind one of those vivid flashes that often send the lightning of
conscience across the dark and wicked soul. He understood full
well that it was GOD who was standing between him and his victim,
and he blasphemed him. That submissive and silent man, whom taunts,
nor threats, nor stripes, nor cruelties, could disturb, roused a
voice within him, such as of old his Master roused in the demoniac
soul, saying, "What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of
Nazareth?--art thou come to torment us before the time?"

Tom's whole soul overflowed with compassion and sympathy for
the poor wretches by whom he was surrounded. To him it seemed
as if his life-sorrows were now over, and as if, out of that strange
treasury of peace and joy, with which he had been endowed from
above, he longed to pour out something for the relief of their
woes. It is true, opportunities were scanty; but, on the way to
the fields, and back again, and during the hours of labor, chances
fell in his way of extending a helping-hand to the weary, the
disheartened and discouraged. The poor, worn-down, brutalized
creatures, at first, could scarce comprehend this; but, when it
was continued week after week, and month after month, it began to
awaken long-silent chords in their benumbed hearts. Gradually and
imperceptibly the strange, silent, patient man, who was ready to
bear every one's burden, and sought help from none,--who stood
aside for all, and came last, and took least, yet was foremost to
share his little all with any who needed,--the man who, in cold
nights, would give up his tattered blanket to add to the comfort
of some woman who shivered with sickness, and who filled the baskets
of the weaker ones in the field, at the terrible risk of coming
short in his own measure,--and who, though pursued with unrelenting
cruelty by their common tyrant, never joined in uttering a word of
reviling or cursing,--this man, at last, began to have a strange
power over them; and, when the more pressing season was past, and
they were allowed again their Sundays for their own use, many would
gather together to hear from him of Jesus. They would gladly have
met to hear, and pray, and sing, in some place, together; but Legree
would not permit it, and more than once broke up such attempts,
with oaths and brutal execrations,--so that the blessed news had
to circulate from individual to individual. Yet who can speak the
simple joy with which some of those poor outcasts, to whom life
was a joyless journey to a dark unknown, heard of a compassionate
Redeemer and a heavenly home? It is the statement of missionaries,
that, of all races of the earth, none have received the Gospel with
such eager docility as the African. The principle of reliance and
unquestioning faith, which is its foundation, is more a native
element in this race than any other; and it has often been found
among them, that a stray seed of truth, borne on some breeze of
accident into hearts the most ignorant, has sprung up into fruit,
whose abundance has shamed that of higher and more skilful culture.

The poor mulatto woman, whose simple faith had been well-nigh
crushed and overwhelmed, by the avalanche of cruelty and wrong
which had fallen upon her, felt her soul raised up by the hymns
and passages of Holy Writ, which this lowly missionary breathed
into her ear in intervals, as they were going to and returning from
work; and even the half-crazed and wandering mind of Cassy was
soothed and calmed by his simple and unobtrusive influences.

Stung to madness and despair by the crushing agonies of a life,
Cassy had often resolved in her soul an hour of retribution,
when her hand should avenge on her oppressor all the injustice and
cruelty to which she had been witness, or which _she_ had in her
own person suffered.

One night, after all in Tom's cabin were sunk in sleep, he was
suddenly aroused by seeing her face at the hole between the logs,
that served for a window. She made a silent gesture for him
to come out.

Tom came out the door. It was between one and two o'clock at
night,--broad, calm, still moonlight. Tom remarked, as the light
of the moon fell upon Cassy's large, black eyes, that there was
a wild and peculiar glare in them, unlike their wonted fixed despair.

"Come here, Father Tom," she said, laying her small hand on
his wrist, and drawing him forward with a force as if the hand
were of steel; "come here,--I've news for you."

"What, Misse Cassy?" said Tom, anxiously.

"Tom, wouldn't you like your liberty?"

"I shall have it, Misse, in God's time," said Tom. "Ay, but
you may have it tonight," said Cassy, with a flash of sudden
energy. "Come on."

Tom hesitated.

"Come!" said she, in a whisper, fixing her black eyes on him.
"Come along! He's asleep--sound. I put enough into his brandy
to keep him so. I wish I'd had more,--I shouldn't have wanted you.
But come, the back door is unlocked; there's an axe there, I put
it there,--his room door is open; I'll show you the way.

I'd a done it myself, only my arms are so weak. Come along!"

"Not for ten thousand worlds, Misse!" said Tom, firmly,
stopping and holding her back, as she was pressing forward.

"But think of all these poor creatures," said Cassy. "We might
set them all free, and go somewhere in the swamps, and find an
island, and live by ourselves; I've heard of its being done.
Any life is better than this."

"No!" said Tom, firmly. "No! good never comes of wickedness.
I'd sooner chop my right hand off!"

"Then _I_ shall do it," said Cassy, turning.

"O, Misse Cassy!" said Tom, throwing himself before her, "for the
dear Lord's sake that died for ye, don't sell your precious soul
to the devil, that way! Nothing but evil will come of it. The Lord
hasn't called us to wrath. We must suffer, and wait his time."

"Wait!" said Cassy. "Haven't I waited?--waited till my head
is dizzy and my heart sick? What has he made me suffer? What has
he made hundreds of poor creatures suffer? Isn't he wringing the
life-blood out of you? I'm called on; they call me! His time's
come, and I'll have his heart's blood!"

"No, no, no!" said Tom, holding her small hands, which were
clenched with spasmodic violence. "No, ye poor, lost soul, that
ye mustn't do. The dear, blessed Lord never shed no blood but his
own, and that he poured out for us when we was enemies. Lord, help
us to follow his steps, and love our enemies."

"Love!" said Cassy, with a fierce glare; "love _such_ enemies!
It isn't in flesh and blood."

"No, Misse, it isn't," said Tom, looking up; "but _He_ gives it
to us, and that's the victory. When we can love and pray over
all and through all, the battle's past, and the victory's
come,--glory be to God!" And, with streaming eyes and choking voice,
the black man looked up to heaven.

And this, oh Africa! latest called of nations,--called to the
crown of thorns, the scourge, the bloody sweat, the cross of
agony,--this is to be _thy_ victory; by this shalt thou reign with
Christ when his kingdom shall come on earth.

The deep fervor of Tom's feelings, the softness of his voice,
his tears, fell like dew on the wild, unsettled spirit of the
poor woman. A softness gathered over the lurid fires of her eye;
she looked down, and Tom could feel the relaxing muscles of her
hands, as she said,

"Didn't I tell you that evil spirits followed me? O! Father
Tom, I can't pray,--I wish I could. I never have prayed since my
children were sold! What you say must be right, I know it must;
but when I try to pray, I can only hate and curse. I can't pray!"

"Poor soul!" said Tom, compassionately. "Satan desires to
have ye, and sift ye as wheat. I pray the Lord for ye. O! Misse
Cassy, turn to the dear Lord Jesus. He came to bind up the
broken-hearted, and comfort all that mourn."

Cassy stood silent, while large, heavy tears dropped from
her downcast eyes.

"Misse Cassy," said Tom, in a hesitating tone, after surveying
her in silence, "if ye only could get away from here,--if the
thing was possible,--I'd 'vise ye and Emmeline to do it; that
is, if ye could go without blood-guiltiness,--not otherwise."

"Would you try it with us, Father Tom?"

"No," said Tom; "time was when I would; but the Lord's given
me a work among these yer poor souls, and I'll stay with 'em
and bear my cross with 'em till the end. It's different with you;
it's a snare to you,--it's more'n you can stand,--and you'd better
go, if you can."

"I know no way but through the grave," said Cassy. "There's no
beast or bird but can find a home some where; even the snakes
and the alligators have their places to lie down and be quiet; but
there's no place for us. Down in the darkest swamps, their dogs
will hunt us out, and find us. Everybody and everything is against
us; even the very beasts side against us,--and where shall we go?"

Tom stood silent; at length he said,

"Him that saved Daniel in the den of lions,--that saves the
children in the fiery furnace,--Him that walked on the sea,
and bade the winds be still,--He's alive yet; and I've faith to
believe he can deliver you. Try it, and I'll pray, with all my
might, for you."

By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long
overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly
sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond?

Cassy had often revolved, for hours, all possible or probable
schemes of escape, and dismissed them all, as hopeless and
impracticable; but at this moment there flashed through her mind
a plan, so simple and feasible in all its details, as to awaken an
instant hope.

"Father Tom, I'll try it!" she said, suddenly.

"Amen!" said Tom; "the Lord help ye!"

 

 

CHAPTER XXXIX

The Stratagem

"The way of the wicked is as darkness; he knoweth not at what he
stumbleth."[1]

 

[1] Prov. 4:19.

 

The garret of the house that Legree occupied, like most other
garrets, was a great, desolate space, dusty, hung with cobwebs,
and littered with cast-off lumber. The opulent family that had
inhabited the house in the days of its splendor had imported a
great deal of splendid furniture, some of which they had taken away
with them, while some remained standing desolate in mouldering,
unoccupied rooms, or stored away in this place. One or two immense
packing-boxes, in which this furniture was brought, stood against
the sides of the garret. There was a small window there, which
let in, through its dingy, dusty panes, a scanty, uncertain light
on the tall, high-backed chairs and dusty tables, that had once
seen better days. Altogether, it was a weird and ghostly place;
but, ghostly as it was, it wanted not in legends among the
superstitious negroes, to increase it terrors. Some few years
before, a negro woman, who had incurred Legree's displeasure, was
confined there for several weeks. What passed there, we do not
say; the negroes used to whisper darkly to each other; but it was
known that the body of the unfortunate creature was one day taken
down from there, and buried; and, after that, it was said that
oaths and cursings, and the sound of violent blows, used to ring
through that old garret, and mingled with wailings and groans of
despair. Once, when Legree chanced to overhear something of this
kind, he flew into a violent passion, and swore that the next one
that told stories about that garret should have an opportunity of
knowing what was there, for he would chain them up there for a week.
This hint was enough to repress talking, though, of course, it did
not disturb the credit of the story in the least.

Gradually, the staircase that led to the garret, and even the
passage-way to the staircase, were avoided by every one in the
house, from every one fearing to speak of it, and the legend was
gradually falling into desuetude. It had suddenly occurred to
Cassy to make use of the superstitious excitability, which was so
great in Legree, for the purpose of her liberation, and that of
her fellow-sufferer.

The sleeping-room of Cassy was directly under the garret.
One day, without consulting Legree, she suddenly took it upon her,
with some considerable ostentation, to change all the furniture
and appurtenances of the room to one at some considerable distance.
The under-servants, who were called on to effect this movement,
were running and bustling about with great zeal and confusion, when
Legree returned from a ride.

"Hallo! you Cass!" said Legree, "what's in the wind now?"

"Nothing; only I choose to have another room," said Cassy, doggedly.

"And what for, pray?" said Legree.

"I choose to," said Cassy.

"The devil you do! and what for?"

"I'd like to get some sleep, now and then."

"Sleep! well, what hinders your sleeping?"

"I could tell, I suppose, if you want to hear," said Cassy, dryly.

"Speak out, you minx!" said Legree.

"O! nothing. I suppose it wouldn't disturb _you!_ Only groans,
and people scuffing, and rolling round on the garre, floor, half
the night, from twelve to morning!"

"People up garret!" said Legree, uneasily, but forcing a
laugh; "who are they, Cassy?"

Cassy raised her sharp, black eyes, and looked in the face of
Legree, with an expression that went through his bones, as she
said, "To be sure, Simon, who are they? I'd like to have _you_
tell me. You don't know, I suppose!"

With an oath, Legree struck at her with his riding-whip; but
she glided to one side, and passed through the door, and looking
back, said, "If you'll sleep in that room, you'll know all about it.
Perhaps you'd better try it!" and then immediately she shut and
locked the door.

Legree blustered and swore, and threatened to break down the
door; but apparently thought better of it, and walked uneasily
into the sitting-room. Cassy perceived that her shaft had struck
home; and, from that hour, with the most exquisite address, she
never ceased to continue the train of influences she had begun.

In a knot-hole of the garret, that had opened, she had
inserted the neck of an old bottle, in such a manner that when
there was the least wind, most doleful and lugubrious wailing sounds
proceeded from it, which, in a high wind, increased to a perfect
shriek, such as to credulous and superstitious ears might easily
seem to be that of horror and despair.

These sounds were, from time to time, heard by the servants,
and revived in full force the memory of the old ghost legend.
A superstitious creeping horror seemed to fill the house; and
though no one dared to breathe it to Legree, he found himself
encompassed by it, as by an atmosphere.

No one is so thoroughly superstitious as the godless man.
The Christian is composed by the belief of a wise, all-ruling
Father, whose presence fills the void unknown with light and order;
but to the man who has dethroned God, the spirit-land is, indeed,
in the words of the Hebrew poet, "a land of darkness and the shadow
of death," without any order, where the light is as darkness.
Life and death to him are haunted grounds, filled with goblin forms
of vague and shadowy dread.

Legree had had the slumbering moral elements in him roused
by his encounters with Tom,--roused, only to be resisted by the
determinate force of evil; but still there was a thrill and commotion
of the dark, inner world, produced by every word, or prayer, or
hymn, that reacted in superstitious dread.

The influence of Cassy over him was of a strange and singular kind.
He was her owner, her tyrant and tormentor. She was, as he knew,
wholly, and without any possibility of help or redress, in his
hands; and yet so it is, that the most brutal man cannot live
in constant association with a strong female influence, and not be
greatly controlled by it. When he first bought her, she was, as
she said, a woman delicately bred; and then he crushed her, without
scruple, beneath the foot of his brutality. But, as time, and
debasing influences, and despair, hardened womanhood within her,
and waked the fires of fiercer passions, she had become in a measure
his mistress, and he alternately tyrannized over and dreaded her.

This influence had become more harassing and decided, since
partial insanity had given a strange, weird, unsettled cast to all
her words and language.

A night or two after this, Legree was sitting in the old
sitting-room, by the side of a flickering wood fire, that
threw uncertain glances round the room. It was a stormy,
windy night, such as raises whole squadrons of nondescript noises
in rickety old houses. Windows were rattling, shutters flapping,
and wind carousing, rumbling, and tumbling down the chimney, and,
every once in a while, puffing out smoke and ashes, as if a legion
of spirits were coming after them. Legree had been casting up
accounts and reading newspapers for some hours, while Cassy sat in
the corner; sullenly looking into the fire. Legree laid down his
paper, and seeing an old book lying on the table, which he had
noticed Cassy reading, the first part of the evening, took it up,
and began to turn it over. It was one of those collections of
stories of bloody murders, ghostly legends, and supernatural
visitations, which, coarsely got up and illustrated, have a strange
fascination for one who once begins to read them.

Legree poohed and pished, but read, turning page after page,
till, finally, after reading some way, he threw down the book,
with an oath.

"You don't believe in ghosts, do you, Cass?" said he, taking
the tongs and settling the fire. "I thought you'd more sense than
to let noises scare _you_."

"No matter what I believe," said Cassy, sullenly.

"Fellows used to try to frighten me with their yarns at sea,"
said Legree. "Never come it round me that way. I'm too tough
for any such trash, tell ye."

Cassy sat looking intensely at him in the shadow of the corner.
There was that strange light in her eyes that always impressed
Legree with uneasiness.

"Them noises was nothing but rats and the wind," said Legree.
"Rats will make a devil of a noise. I used to hear 'em
sometimes down in the hold of the ship; and wind,--Lord's sake! ye
can make anything out o' wind."

Cassy knew Legree was uneasy under her eyes, and, therefore,
she made no answer, but sat fixing them on him, with that strange,
unearthly expression, as before.

"Come, speak out, woman,--don't you think so?" said Legree.

"Can rats walk down stairs, and come walking through the entry,
and open a door when you've locked it and set a chair against
it?" said Cassy; "and come walk, walk, walking right up to your
bed, and put out their hand, so?"

Cassy kept her glittering eyes fixed on Legree, as she spoke,
and he stared at her like a man in the nightmare, till, when
she finished by laying her hand, icy cold, on his, he sprung back,
with an oath.

"Woman! what do you mean? Nobody did?"

"O, no,--of course not,--did I say they did?" said Cassy,
with a smile of chilling derision.

"But--did--have you really seen?--Come, Cass, what is it,
now,--speak out!"

"You may sleep there, yourself," said Cassy, "if you want
to know."

"Did it come from the garret, Cassy?"

"_It_,--what?" said Cassy.

"Why, what you told of--"

"I didn't tell you anything," said Cassy, with dogged sullenness.

Legree walked up and down the room, uneasily.

"I'll have this yer thing examined. I'll look into it,
this very night. I'll take my pistols--"

"Do," said Cassy; "sleep in that room. I'd like to see
you doing it. Fire your pistols,--do!"

Legree stamped his foot, and swore violently.

"Don't swear," said Cassy; "nobody knows who may be hearing you.
Hark! What was that?"

"What?" said Legree, starting.

A heavy old Dutch clock, that stood in the corner of the
room, began, and slowly struck twelve.

For some reason or other, Legree neither spoke nor moved;
a vague horror fell on him; while Cassy, with a keen, sneering
glitter in her eyes, stood looking at him, counting the strokes.

"Twelve o'clock; well _now_ we'll see," said she, turning,
and opening the door into the passage-way, and standing as if
listening.

"Hark! What's that?" said she, raising her finger.

"It's only the wind," said Legree. "Don't you hear how
cursedly it blows?"

"Simon, come here," said Cassy, in a whisper, laying her hand
on his, and leading him to the foot of the stairs: "do you
know what _that_ is? Hark!"

A wild shriek came pealing down the stairway. It came from
the garret. Legree's knees knocked together; his face grew white
with fear.

"Hadn't you better get your pistols?" said Cassy, with a sneer
that froze Legree's blood. "It's time this thing was looked
into, you know. I'd like to have you go up now; _they're at it_."

"I won't go!" said Legree, with an oath.

"Why not? There an't any such thing as ghosts, you know!
Come!" and Cassy flitted up the winding stairway, laughing, and
looking back after him. "Come on."

"I believe you _are_ the devil!" said Legree. "Come back
you hag,--come back, Cass! You shan't go!"

But Cassy laughed wildly, and fled on. He heard her open the
entry doors that led to the garret. A wild gust of wind swept
down, extinguishing the candle he held in his hand, and with it
the fearful, unearthly screams; they seemed to be shrieked in his
very ear.

Legree fled frantically into the parlor, whither, in a few
moments, he was followed by Cassy, pale, calm, cold as an avenging
spirit, and with that same fearful light in her eye.

"I hope you are satisfied," said she.

"Blast you, Cass!" said Legree.

"What for?" said Cassy. "I only went up and shut the doors.
_What's the matter with that garret_, Simon, do you suppose?"
said she.

"None of your business!" said Legree.

"O, it an't? Well," said Cassy, "at any rate, I'm glad _I_ don't
sleep under it."

Anticipating the rising of the wind, that very evening, Cassy
had been up and opened the garret window. Of course, the
moment the doors were opened, the wind had drafted down, and
extinguished the light.

This may serve as a specimen of the game that Cassy played
with Legree, until he would sooner have put his head into a lion's
mouth than to have explored that garret. Meanwhile, in the night,
when everybody else was asleep, Cassy slowly and carefully accumulated
there a stock of provisions sufficient to afford subsistence for
some time; she transferred, article by article, a greater part of
her own and Emmeline's wardrobe. All things being arranged, they
only waited a fitting opportunity to put their plan in execution.

By cajoling Legree, and taking advantage of a good-natured
interval, Cassy had got him to take her with him to the neighboring
town, which was situated directly on the Red river. With a memory
sharpened to almost preternatural clearness, she remarked every
turn in the road, and formed a mental estimate of the time to be
occupied in traversing it.

At the time when all was matured for action, our readers may,
perhaps, like to look behind the scenes, and see the final
_coup d'etat_.

It was now near evening, Legree had been absent, on a ride
to a neighboring farm. For many days Cassy had been unusually
gracious and accommodating in her humors; and Legree and she had
been, apparently, on the best of terms. At present, we may behold
her and Emmeline in the room of the latter, busy in sorting and
arranging two small bundles.

"There, these will be large enough," said Cassy. Now put on
your bonnet, and let's start; it's just about the right time."

"Why, they can see us yet," said Emmeline.

"I mean they shall," said Cassy, coolly. "Don't you know that
they must have their chase after us, at any rate? The way of
the thing is to be just this:--We will steal out of the back door,
and run down by the quarters. Sambo or Quimbo will be sure
to see us. They will give chase, and we will get into the swamp;
then, they can't follow us any further till they go up and give
the alarm, and turn out the dogs, and so on; and, while they are
blundering round, and tumbling over each other, as they always do,
you and I will slip along to the creek, that runs back of the house,
and wade along in it, till we get opposite the back door. That will
put the dogs all at fault; for scent won't lie in the water.
Every one will run out of the house to look after us, and then
we'll whip in at the back door, and up into the garret, where I've
got a nice bed made up in one of the great boxes. We must stay in
that garret a good while, for, I tell you, he will raise heaven
and earth after us. He'll muster some of those old overseers on
the other plantations, and have a great hunt; and they'll go over
every inch of ground in that swamp. He makes it his boast that
nobody ever got away from him. So let him hunt at his leisure."

"Cassy, how well you have planned it!" said Emmeline. "Who ever
would have thought of it, but you?"

There was neither pleasure nor exultation in Cassy's
eyes,--only a despairing firmness.

"Come," she said, reaching her hand to Emmeline.

The two fugitives glided noiselessly from the house, and
flitted, through the gathering shadows of evening, along by
the quarters. The crescent moon, set like a silver signet in the
western sky, delayed a little the approach of night. As Cassy
expected, when quite near the verge of the swamps that encircled
the plantation, they heard a voice calling to them to stop. It was
not Sambo, however, but Legree, who was pursuing them with
violent execrations. At the sound, the feebler spirit of Emmeline
gave way; and, laying hold of Cassy's arm, she said, "O, Cassy,
I'm going to faint!"

"If you do, I'll kill you!" said Cassy, drawing a small,
glittering stiletto, and flashing it before the eyes of the girl.

The diversion accomplished the purpose. Emmeline did not
faint, and succeeded in plunging, with Cassy, into a part of the
labyrinth of swamp, so deep and dark that it was perfectly hopeless
for Legree to think of following them, without assistance.

"Well," said he, chuckling brutally; "at any rate, they've got
themselves into a trap now--the baggage! They're safe enough.
They shall sweat for it!"

"Hulloa, there! Sambo! Quimbo! All hands!" called Legree,
coming to the quarters, when the men and women were just returning
from work. "There's two runaways in the swamps. I'll give five
dollars to any nigger as catches 'em. Turn out the dogs! Turn out
Tiger, and Fury, and the rest!"

The sensation produced by this news was immediate. Many of the
men sprang forward, officiously, to offer their services, either
from the hope of the reward, or from that cringing subserviency
which is one of the most baleful effects of slavery. Some ran one
way, and some another. Some were for getting flambeaux of pine-knots.
Some were uncoupling the dogs, whose hoarse, savage bay added not
a little to the animation of the scene.

"Mas'r, shall we shoot 'em, if can't cotch 'em?" said Sambo,
to whom his master brought out a rifle.

"You may fire on Cass, if you like; it's time she was gone to
the devil, where she belongs; but the gal, not," said Legree.
"And now, boys, be spry and smart. Five dollars for him that gets
'em; and a glass of spirits to every one of you, anyhow."

The whole band, with the glare of blazing torches, and whoop,
and shout, and savage yell, of man and beast, proceeded down
to the swamp, followed, at some distance, by every servant in
the house. The establishment was, of a consequence, wholly deserted,
when Cassy and Emmeline glided into it the back way. The whooping and
shouts of their pursuers were still filling the air; and, looking
from the sitting-room windows, Cassy and Emmeline could see the
troop, with their flambeaux, just dispersing themselves along the
edge of the swamp.

"See there!" said Emmeline, pointing to Cassy; "the hunt is begun!
Look how those lights dance about! Hark! the dogs! Don't you hear?
If we were only _there_, our chances wouldn't be worth a picayune.
O, for pity's sake, do let's hide ourselves. Quick!"

"There's no occasion for hurry," said Cassy, coolly; "they are
all out after the hunt,--that's the amusement of the evening!
We'll go up stairs, by and by. Meanwhile," said she, deliberately
taking a key from the pocket of a coat that Legree had thrown down
in his hurry, "meanwhile I shall take something to pay our passage.

She unlocked the desk, took from it a roll of bills, which
she counted over rapidly.

"O, don't let's do that!" said Emmeline.

"Don't!" said Cassy; "why not? Would you have us starve in
the swamps, or have that that will pay our way to the free states.
Money will do anything, girl." And, as she spoke, she put the money
in her bosom.

"It would be stealing," said Emmeline, in a distressed whisper.

"Stealing!" said Cassy, with a scornful laugh. "They who
steal body and soul needn't talk to us. Every one of these bills
is stolen,--stolen from poor, starving, sweating creatures, who
must go to the devil at last, for his profit. Let _him_ talk
about stealing! But come, we may as well go up garret; I've got a
stock of candles there, and some books to pass away the time.
You may be pretty sure they won't come _there_ to inquire after us.
If they do, I'll play ghost for them."

When Emmeline reached the garret, she found an immense box,
in which some heavy pieces of furniture had once been brought,
turned on its side, so that the opening faced the wall, or
rather the eaves. Cassy lit a small lamp, and creeping round
under the eaves, they established themselves in it. It was
spread with a couple of small mattresses and some pillows; a
box near by was plentifully stored with candles, provisions, and
all the clothing necessary to their journey, which Cassy had arranged
into bundles of an astonishingly small compass.

"There," said Cassy, as she fixed the lamp into a small hook,
which she had driven into the side of the box for that purpose;
"this is to be our home for the present. How do you like it?"

"Are you sure they won't come and search the garret?"

"I'd like to see Simon Legree doing that," said Cassy.
"No, indeed; he will be too glad to keep away. As to the servants,
they would any of them stand and be shot, sooner than show their
faces here."

Somewhat reassured, Emmeline settled herself back on her pillow.

"What did you mean, Cassy, by saying you would kill me?"
she said, simply.

"I meant to stop your fainting," said Cassy, "and I did do it.
And now I tell you, Emmeline, you must make up your mind _not_
to faint, let what will come; there's no sort of need of it.
If I had not stopped you, that wretch might have had his hands
on you now."

Emmeline shuddered.

The two remained some time in silence. Cassy busied herself
with a French book; Emmeline, overcome with the exhaustion, fell
into a doze, and slept some time. She was awakened by loud shouts
and outcries, the tramp of horses' feet, and the baying of dogs.
She started up, with a faint shriek.

"Only the hunt coming back," said Cassy, coolly; "never fear.
Look out of this knot-hole. Don't you see 'em all down there?
Simon has to give up, for this night. Look, how muddy his horse
is, flouncing about in the swamp; the dogs, too, look rather
crestfallen. Ah, my good sir, you'll have to try the race again
and again,--the game isn't there."

"O, don't speak a word!" said Emmeline; "what if they should
hear you?"

"If they do hear anything, it will make them very particular
to keep away," said Cassy. "No danger; we may make any noise we
please, and it will only add to the effect."

At length the stillness of midnight settled down over the house.
Legree, cursing his ill luck, and vowing dire vengeance on
the morrow, went to bed.

 

 

CHAPTER XL

The Martyr

"Deem not the just by Heaven forgot!
Though life its common gifts deny,--
Though, with a crushed and bleeding heart,
And spurned of man, he goes to die!
For God hath marked each sorrowing day,
And numbered every bitter tear,
And heaven's long years of bliss shall pay
For all his children suffer here."
BRYANT.[1]

 

[1] This poem does not appear in the collected works of William
Cullen Bryant, nor in the collected poems of his brother, John
Howard Bryant. It was probably copied from a newspaper or magazine.

 

The longest way must have its close,--the gloomiest night will
wear on to a morning. An eternal,