NO apology is necessary for placing a carefully-prepared edition of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in the hands of the young people of America. The wonderful story, with its striking characters, wealth of incident, and lofty tone of benevolency and humanity, is as full of fascination to-day as in the times for which it was written.
All the old friends are here—Uncle Tom and Eva, Topsy and Miss Ophelia, St. Clare and George Harris, Legree and Tom Loker. Eliza's escape over the floating ice with her child, the slave hunt in the swamp, the heroic stand of the fugitives and their Quaker friends, the horrors of the slave market—all the incidents that the author has set in such effective contrast are here to delight and instruct.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" has been translated into almost all the civilized languages of the world, and into some as yet only half civilized; yet it has never been in greater demand than at the present time. Of it the poet Longfellow wrote:
"It is one of the greatest triumphs recorded in literary history, to say nothing of the higher triumph of its moral effect."
The author's own words ere:
"I could not control the story; it wrote itself!"
CHAPTER I. A MAN OF HUMANITY.
ONE chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting in a well-furnished room, in a Kentucky town, discussing some subject with great earnest ness. One of the parties, however, did not seem to be a gentleman when critically examined. He was short and thick-set, with coarse features and a swaggering air; ungrammatical and sometimes profane in his speech. His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman, and the arrangements of the house indicated easy and even opulent circumstances.
"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.
"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.
"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 conic 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.
"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. I am sorry to part with Tom. 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 the business can afford to keep; but this, yer see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow—a leetle too hard." The trader sighed contemplatively.
"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. 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.
"Come here, Jim Crow," said Mr. Shelby. "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.
"Bravo!" said Haley.
"Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle Cudjoe, when he has the rheumatism," said his master.
Instantly 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.
"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 intoning a psalm tune through his nose, with imperturbable gravity.
"Bravo! what a young `un !" said Haley. "Tell you what," said he, "fling in that chap, and I'll settle the business!"
At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman, apparently about twenty-five, entered the room.
"Well, Eliza?" said her master.
"I was looking for Harry, please, sir."
"Well, take him away, then," said Mr. Shelby.
"By Jupiter," said the trader, "there's an article, now! You might make your fortune on that ar gal in Orleans, any day."
"I don't want to make my fortune on her," said Mr. Shelby, dryly.
"Come, how will you trade about the gal?"
"Mr. Haley, she is not to be sold," said Shelby. "My wife would not part with her for her weight in gold."
"Av, ay! women always say such things, 'cause they ha'nt no sort of calculation, I reckon."
"I tell you, Haley, this must not be spoken of, I say no, and I mean no," said Shelby.
"Well, you'll let me have the boy, though," said the trader.
"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. They fetch a good sum."
"I would rather not sell him," said Mr. Shelby, thoughtfully, "but—"
"What do you say?"
"I'll think the matter over, and talk with my wife. 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.
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.
Now, it had happened that 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.
"Eliza, girl, what ails you to-day?" said her mistress.
Eliza started. "O, missis!" she said, raising her eyes; then burst into tears.
"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! Do you suppose mas'r would sell my Harry?" And the poor creature 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."
Reassured by her mistress' confident tone, Eliza laughed at her own fears.
CHAPTER II. THE MOTHER.
ELIZA had been brought up by her mistress, from girlhood, as a petted and indulged favorite. She was a beautiful quadroon and was married to a bright and talented young mulatto man by the name of George Harris, a slave on a neighboring estate.
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 cleaning the hemp; which, considering the education and circumstances of the inventor, displayed quite as much mechanical genius as Whitney's cotton-gin. 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 shown over the factory by George, who talked so fluently,
and held himself so erect, that his master began to feel consciousness
of inferiority. Accordingly, he sud-
denly 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?"
"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 stood like one transfixed. He folded his arms; tightly pressed in his lips, but a whole volcano of bitter feelings burned in his bosom. Fearing that he would make matters worse, his employer said:
"Go with him for the present, George; we'll try to help you yet."
George was taken home, and put to the meanest drudgery of the farm.
The manufacturer, true to his word, visited Mr. Harris a week or two after George had been taken away, and tried every possible inducement to lead him to restore him to his former employment.
"You need n't trouble yourself to talk any longer," he said, doggedly; "I know my own business, sir. 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
CHAPTER III. THE HUSBAND AND FATHER.
ELIZA stood in the verandah, 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.
"How glad I am!—why don't you smile?—and look at Harry—how he grows. 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!"
"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. "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."
"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! 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. So, Eliza, my girl," said the husband, mournfully, "bear up, now; and goodby, for I'm going."
"Going, George! Going where?"
"To Canada," said he; "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, 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. 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,—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 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 bigonia and a native mutiflora rose.
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." A round, black, shining face is hers. Her whole plump countenance beams with satisfaction and contentment from under her well-starched checked turban, for Aunt Chloe was acknowledged to be the best cook in the neighborhood.
In one corner of the cottage stood a bed, covered neatly with a snowy spread; and by the side of it was a piece of carpeting, of some considerable size. In the other corner was a bed of much humbler pretensions, and evidently designed for use.
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.
A table, somewhat rheumatic in its limbs, was drawn out in front of the fire, and at this table was seated Uncle Tom, Mr. Shelby's best hand—the hero of our story. 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.
He was very busily intent 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.
"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 re-commenced.
"How easy white folks al'us does things!" said Aunt Chloe, 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.'"
And with this, 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.
"Here you, Mose and Pete! get out de way, you niggers! Get away, Polly, honey,—mammy'll give her baby somefin, by and by. Now, Mas'r George, you jest take off dem hooks, 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 dar no time."
"They wanted me to come to supper in the house," said
George; "but I knew what was what too well for than. 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."
"Now for the cake," said Mas'r George, flourishing a large knife over the article in question.
"La bless you, Mas'r George!" said Aunt Chloe, with earnestness, catching his arm, "you would n't be for cuttin' it with dat ar great heavy knife! Smash all down—spile all de pretty raise 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."
"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 is n't extra, not extra now, Jinny's corn cakes is n'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? Why, I should n't sleep a wink for a week, if I had a batch of pies like dem ar."
"I suppose Jinny thinks they are ever so nice," said George.
"Jinny don't know. She can't be spected to know! Ah!
Mas'r George, you does n't know half your privileges in yer family and bringin' up!"
"I'm sure, Aunt Chloe, I understand all my pie and pudding privileges," said George. "I mean to ask Tom here; some day nest week, 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."
By this time Master George had arrived at that pass when he really
could not eat another morsel and, therefore, he was at leisure to
notice the pile of woolly beads and glis-
tening eyes which were regarding him from the opposite corner.
"Here, you Mose, Pete," he said, breaking off liberal bits, and throwing it at them; "you want some, do you? Come, Aunt Chloe, bake them some cakes."
"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 them."
"La, Aunt Chloe, shove it under, and let 'em sit up," said Mas'r George, decisively.
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."
"What we's to do for cheers, now, I deelar' I don't know," said Aunt Chloe.
"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.
"Well, ole man," said Aunt Chloe, "you 'll have to tote in them ar bar'ls."
Two empty casks were rolled into the cabin, and 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 be so much more interestin'."
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 few of the worshippers belonged to families hard by, who had got permission to attend, and after a while the singing commenced, to the evident delight of all present. 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, and, as they sung, some laughed, and some cried, and some clapped hands, or shook hands rejoicingly with each other.
Various exhortations, or relations of experience, followed, and intermingled with the singing, and 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?"
Uncle Tom was a sort of patriarch in religious matters
in the neighborhood.
Having, naturally, a greater breadth and cultivation of mind than 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. Nothing could exceed the touching simplicity, and childlike earnestness, of his prayers, 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.
CHAPTER V. SHOWING THE FEELINGS OF LIVING PROPERTY ON CHANGING OWNERS.
AFTER Mr. and Mrs. Shelby had retired to their apartment for the night, Mrs. Shelby said, carelessly,
"By the by, Arthur, who was that low-bred fellow that you lugged in to our dinner-table to-day?"
"Haley is his name," said Shelbv, turning himself rather uneasily in his chair.
"Haley! Who is he, and what may be his business here, pray?"
"W'ell, he's a man that I transacted some business with, last time I was at Natchez," said Mr. 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.
"I told Eliza," said Mrs. Shelby, "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 I shall have to sell some of my hands."
"To that creature? 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! 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."
"My dear," said Mrs. Shelby, "forgive me. I have been hasty. I was surprised, and entirely unprepared for this. Tom is a noble-hearted, faithful fellow, if he is black. I do believe 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 am willing to bear my part
of the inconvenience. O, I have tried to do my duty to these poor,
simple, dependent creatures. 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
however sacred, compared with money? I have talked with Eliza about her boy—her duty to him as 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'm sorry you feel so about it, Emily,—indeed I am," said Mr. Shelby; "and I respect your feelings. Haley has come into possession of a mortgage, which, if I don't clear of 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, she said:
"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!"
"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."
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 and shivering she looked an entirely altered being from the soft and timid creature she had been hitherto. She moved cautiously along the entry, and then turned and glided into her own room, where, on the bed, lay her slumbering boy.
"Poor boy! poor fellow!" said Eliza; "they have sold you! but your mother will save you yet!"
Then 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 to-night. 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 made up a little package of clothing for her boy, which she tied with a handkerchief firmly round her waist; and even in the terrors of that hour, she did not forget to put in the little package one or two of his favorite toys.
"Where are you going, mother?" said he, as she drew near the bed, with his little coat and cap.
"Hush, Harry," she said; "musn'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 dressed the child, and taking him in her arms, she glided noiselessly out, wrapping a shawl close round her child, as, perfectly quiet with vague terror, he clung round her neck.
Old Bruno, a great Newfoundland, rose, with a low growl, as she
came near. She gently spoke his name, and the animal instantly
prepared to follow her. A few min-
utes 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 been protracted to a very late hour, and 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 ain'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."
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—carrying off my child—Master sold him!"
"Sold him?" echoed both.
"Yes, sold him!" said Eliza, firmly; "I heard Master tell Missis that he had sold my Harry, and you, Uncle Tom, both, to a trader; and that the man was to take possession to-day."
Tom had stood, during this speech 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?
"Well, old man!" added Aunt Chloe, "why don't you go
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. 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."
"And now," said Eliza, "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, to-day, that he was goin' 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, to be as good as be 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!"
CHAPTER VI. DISCOVERY.
MR. and Mrs. Shelby 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.
Just then the door opened, and a colored boy entered.
"Andy," said his mistress, "step to Eliza's door, and tell her I have rung for her three times."
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!"
"Then she suspected it, and she's off!" said Mr. Shelby.
"The Lord be thanked!" said Mrs. Shelby. "I trust she is."
There was great running and ejaculating, and opening, and shutting
of doors for about a quarter of an hour, and when, at last, Haley
appeared, 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 only had them!" 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."
"Sir," said Mr. Shelby, "if you wish to communicate with me, you must observe something of the decorum of a gentleman. 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, but 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."
Tom's fate 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 also added to 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.
"It's an ill wind dat blows nowhar,—dat ar a fact," said Sam. "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—who but he? Now, why shouldn't Sam?—dat's what I want to know."
"Halloo, Sam—O Sam! Mas'r wants Bill and Jerry geared right up; and you and I's to go with Mas'r Haley, to look after 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'. She sent me to see why 'Lizy didn't come to dress her; and when I telled her she was of, she jest ris up, and ses she, 'The Lord be praised.'"
"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 ver Mas'r Haley to get 'Lizy's boy; dat's de go!"
Sam, after a while appeared 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? I'll fix ve now!" said he, and then on pretence of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly slipped under it a sharp little beech nut, in such a manner that the least weight brought upon the saddle would annoy the animal, without leaving any perceptible mark.
"Dar!" he said, rolling his eyes with an approving grin; "me fix 'em!"
At this moment Mrs. Shelby appeared. "Why have you been loitering so, Sam?"
"Lord bless you, Missis!" said Sam, "horses won't be cotched all in a minit."
"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."
"Let dis child alone for dat!" said Sam, rolling up his eves with a volume of meaning.
"Now, Andy," said Sam, "you see I wouldn't be 'tall surprised if
dat ar gen'leman's critter should gib a fling, by and by, when he
comes to be a gettin' up. You know, Andy, critters will do such
things. Yer see," added 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!"
At this instant, Haley appeared on the verandah. "Well, boys," said he, "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 made a dive for
the reins, but only succeeded in brushing his hat into the horse's
eyes, which only made matters worse. He overturned Sam, and, giving a
snort, flourished his heels in the air, and pranced away,
followed by Bill and Jerry, whom Andy had not failed to let loose, according to contract.
Haley ran up and down, and cursed 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.
At last, about twelve o'clock, Sam appeared triumphant, mounted on Jerry, with Haley's horse by his side.
"He's cotched!" he exclaimed, triumphantly. "If 't hadn't been for me, they might a burst theirselves, 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 chasn' 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."
Mrs. Shebly now 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; and Haley allowed himself to be pursuaded.
"Did yer see him, Andy? did yer see him?" said Sam, when he had got fairly beyond the shelter of the barn. "O Lor, if it warn't as good as a meetin', now, to see him a dancin' and kickin'. Lor, Andy I think I can see him now." And Sam and Andy leaned up against the barn, and laughed to their hearts' content.
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.
But stronger than all was maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm of frenzy by the near approach of a fearful danger.
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, while from her pale lips burst forth, in frequent ejaculations, the prayer to a Friend above—"Lord, help! Lord, save me!"
On she went, leaving behind one familiar object after another, till daylight found her many miles from all familiar objects upon the highway.
After a while, they came to a thick patch of woodland, and,
sitting down behind a large rock which concealed
them from the road, she gave the child a breakfast out of her little package. The boy wondered and grieved that she could not eat, and tried to wedge some of his cake into her mouth.
"No no Harry darling! Mother can't eat till you are safe! We must go on—on—till we come to the river!"
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 tension of the nervous system lessened, and she found herself both weary and hungry.
An hour before sunset, she entered a village by the Ohio river, weary and footsore, but still strong in heart.
It was now early spring, and the river was swollen and turbulent. 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, and then turned into a small public house on the bank, to make a few inquiries.
"Isn't there any ferry or boat, that takes people over the river, now?" she said.
"No, indeed!" said the woman; "the boats has stopped running, but there's a man a piece down here, that's going over with some truck this evening, if he durs' to; he'll 1w in here to supper to-night, so you'd better set down and wait. That's a sweet little fellow," added the woman, offering him a cake.
"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.
Though Mrs. Shelby had promised that the dinner should be hurried
onto table, and although the order was fairly given out in Haley's
hearing, and carried to Aunt Chloe by at least half a dozen juvenile
messengers, 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.
Finally, news was 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."
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 to-day 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 yerself," said the trader, "and don't come it over your master with any o' yer nigger tricks!"
"Mas'r," said Tom, "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 fist ask you, Mas'r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you, 'specially since I was a Christian?"
"My good boy," said he, "the Lord knows you say but the truth; ande 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 way bring together means. Sir," she said to Haley, "take good account of who you sell him to, and let me know."
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.
"I shall take the straight road to the river," said Haley.
"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? Cause," added Sam, "I'd rather be 'clined to 'magine that 'Lizy 'd take de dirt road, bein' it's the least traveled."
"She would naturally go a lonesome way," said Haley.
"Dar an't no sayin'," said Sam; "gals is pecular; they
never does nothin' ye thinks they will. Now, my private 'pinion is, 'Lizy took der dirt road; so I think we'd better take de straight one."
This profound view did not seem to dispose Haley to the straight road; and he announced decidedly that he should take the other, and asked Sam where they would come to it. "A little piece ahead," said Sam.
The road, in fact, was an old one, formerly a thoroughfare to the river, but abandoned for many years. 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, but rode along with an air of dutiful submission.
At last they came to a barn standing squarely across the road, and it was evident that their journey in that direction was ended.
It was all too true to be disputed, and all three faced to the right about, and returned to the highway.
Because of all these delays, it, was an hour after Eliza had laid her child to sleep in the village tavern before the party came riding into the same place. Eliza was standing by the window, looking out in another direction, which 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 ejaculation, which startled her at once; she drew suddenly back, and 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
The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as, her weight came on it, but she stayed 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 were 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. Eliza recognized the voice and face of a man who owned a farm not far from her old home.
"O, Mr. Symmes!—save me—do save me—do hide me!" said Eliza.
"Why, what's this?" said the man!
"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 thar'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.
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 tol'able fair stroke of business," said Sam.
"You laugh!" said the trader, with a growl.
"Lord bless von, Mas'r, I couldn't help it, now," said Sam, giving way to the long pent-up delight of his soul. "She looked so curl's, a leapin' and springin'—ice a crackin—and, only to hear her; plump! ker chunk! ker splash! S'pring! 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 'Lizv's bridge to-night;" and, with a poke into Andy's ribs, he started off, followed by the latter, at full speed.
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 showed him into a little parlor and here Haley sat down to meditate on his ill fortune.
Soon he was startled by the loud voice of a man who was 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. He was accompanied by a traveling companion, in many respects an exact contrast to himself. He was short and slender, lithe and cat-like 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.
"Wal, now, who'd a thought this yer luck 'd come to me? Why, Loker, how are ye?" said Haley, coming forward, and extending his hand to the big man.
"You, Haley," was the reply. "What brought you here?"
"I say. Tom, this yer's the luckiest thing in the world. I'm in an awful hobble, and you must help me out."
"Like enough!" grunted his acquaintance.
"You've got a friend here?" said Haley, "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, "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."
Haley began a pathetic recital of his peculiar troubles. Loker shut up his mouth, and listened to him with gruff and surly attention. Marks gave the most earnest heed to the whole narrative. "So, then, ye 'r fairly sewed up, an't ye?" he said.
"Now, Mr. Haley," continued Marks, "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; "you see, Mr. Haley's a puttin' us in a way of a good job, I reckon. 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,
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 Loker, who 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.
"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, expense, 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. But, it an't all I want, by a long jump," added Tom. "You 've got to fork over fifty dollars, flat down, or this child don't start a peg. I know yer. 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.
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.
"I'm jest a runnin' over our business, to see if we can
take up this yer handily," said he. "Ther's three on 'em easy cases, 'cause all you've got to do is to shoot 'em, or swear they is shot. Them other cases," he said, folding the paper, "will bear putting off a spell."
"I s'pose you've got good dogs," said Haley.
"First rate," said harks. "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, and as the man's come with the boat, we'll be off."
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.
While this scene was going on at the tavern, Sam and Andy, in a state of high glee, pursued their way home. When they arrived there, Mrs. Shelby called out:
"Is that you, Sam? Where are they?"
"Masr Haley's a-restin' at the tavern; he's drefful fatigued, 'Missis."
"And Eliza, Sam?"
"Wal, she's clear '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 persaryes His own. 'Lizy's done gone over the river into 'Hio, as 'markably as if the Lord took her over in a charrit of fire and two hosses."
"Come up here, Sam," said Mr. Shelby, "and tell your mistress what she wants. 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, crossing on floating ice is n't so easily done," said Mr. Shelby.
"Easy! couldn't nobody a done it, widout the Lord. Why, now," said Sam, ""'was dust dis ver 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 guff to raise the dead. Course 'Lizy she hears, 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 the 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 such a screech as I never hearn, and thar she was, clar over t' other side 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. "Now, if't hadn't been for me to-day, she'd a been took a dozen times. Warn't it I started off de horses, dis yes mornin', and kept 'em chasin' till nigh dinner time? And did n't I car' Mas'r Haley nigh 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 providence 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.
"Mas'r 's quite right,—quite; it was ugly on me. I'm sensible of dat ar; but a poor nigger like me 's 'mazin' tempted to act ugly sometimes."
"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 to-day. You and Andy must be hungry."
"Missis is a heap too good for us," said Sam, making his bow with alacrity, and departing.
"I 'll speechify these yes niggers," said Sam to himself, "now I 've got a chance. Lord, I 'll reel it off to make 'em stare!"
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.
"Yes see, fellow-countrmen," 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, brethren,—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 yer 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 and 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."
Sam's audience hanging on his words with open mouth, he could not but proceed.
"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'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 der gen'l interests of s'ciety."
"Well," said Aunt Chloe, "one o' yer principles will have to be to get to bed some time to-night, 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 palmleaf with benignity, "I give yer my blessin'; go to bed now, and be good boys."
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 cosy 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. "What have they been doing in the Senate?" said she.
"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?"
"There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear."
"And what is the law? It don't forbid us to shelter these 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."
"Now, John, I want to know if you think such a law as that is right and Christian?"
"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?"
"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."
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."
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. Ile drew his breath short, and stood in silence.
"Sure, now, if she an't a sight to behold!" said old Dinah, "'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 eves, 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.
"You needn't be afraid of anything; we are friends here, poor woman! Tell me where you came from, and what you want," said Mrs. Bird.
"I came from Kentucky," said the woman.
"When?" said Mr. Bird, taking up the interrogatory.
"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 me—and there was no other way!"
"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?"
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 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 one, 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."
"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!"
"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, into Mrs. Bird's face.
"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 re-entered the parlor. Mr. Bird strode up and down the room, grumbling to himself. At length, he said,
"I say, wife, she'll have to get away from here, this very night."
"To-night! 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.
"It's a confounded awkward, ugly business," said he, at last, beginning to tug at his boot-straps again, "and that's a fact!"
"You see," he said, at last, "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 to-night, 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?"
"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.
Mrs. Bird slowly opened the drawer. There were little coats, 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!
"Mamma," said one of the boys, gently touching her arm, "are 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!"
"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.
There had been a long continuous period of rainy weather, and the road was an Ohio railroad of the good old times, made of round rough logs, arranged side by side, and coated over with earth and turf.
Over such a road as this our senator went stumbling along, making moral reflections as continuously as under the circumstances could be expected. 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."
It was late in the night when the carriage, dripping and bespattered, stood at the door of a large farm-house.
It took some time to arouse the inmates; but at last the
proprietor appeared, and undid the door. He was a great, tall 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.
"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 bedroom 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 afeared, let who will come
here. I'm up to all that sort o' thing," said he, pointing to two or
three rifles over the mantelpiece; "and most people that know me know
that 't wouldn't be healthy to try to get anybody out o' my house when
agin it. So now on just go to sleep now, as quiet as if yer mother was a rockin' ye," said he, as he shut the door.
The senator, in a few words, briefly explained Eliza's history.
"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, just 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 swearln', now, o' most anything," said honest John, as he wiped his eyes with the back of great, freckled, yellow hand.
"Ye'd better jest put up here, now, till daylight," added 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 yon came on. That road's mighty bad."
John equipped himself, and, with a lantern in hand, was soon seen guiding the senator's carriage toward 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.
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. Tom sat with his Testament open on his knee, and his head leaning upon his hand. It was yet early, and the children lay all asleep together in their little rude trundle-bed. Soon he got up and walked silently to look at his children. "It's the last time," he said.
"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 that'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."
The simple morning meal now smoked on the table. 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.
"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'se so tossed about, it makes me act ugly."
"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!"
Mrs. Shelby entered. "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.
"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.
"Come," said he, "ye nigger, ye 'r ready? Servant, ma'am!" said he, taking off his hat, as he saw Mrs. Shelby. 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.
A crowd of all the old and young hands on the place
stood gathered around it, to bid farewell to their old associate.
"Why, Chloe, you bar it better'n we do!" said one of the women, who had been weeping freely.
"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.
Tom got in, and Haley, drawing out from under the wagon seat a heavy pair of shackles, made them fast around each ankle.
"I'm sorry," said Tom, "that Mas'r George happened to be away. 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.
After they had ridden about a mile, Haley drew up at the door of a blacksmith's shop, and, taking out with him, a pair of handcuffs, stepped into the shop, to have a little alteration in them.
Tom was sitting very mournfully on the outside of the shop. 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 ba'r to go off without seein' ye! It does me real good, ye can't tell!"
"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."
"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. 'Member yer Creator in the days o' yer youth, Mas'r George."
"I'll be real good, Uncle Tom, I tell you," said George, "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 your 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!"
"Now, I tell ye what, Tom," said Haley, as he came up to the wagon, and threw in the hand-cuffs, "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 just 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.
CHAPTER XI. IN WHICH PROPERTY GETS IN AN IMPROPER STATE OF MIND.
ONE drizzly afternoon a traveler alighted at the door of a small country hotel, in a village in Kentucky. In the bar-room 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; 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.
Into this assembly our traveler 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.
"What's that?" said the old gentleman, observing some of the company formed in a group around a large hand-bill.
"Nigger advertised!" said one of the company, briefly.
Mr. Wilson, for that was the old gentleman's name, rose up, and read as follows:
"Ran away from the subscriber, my mulatto boy, George. Said George six feet in height, a very light mulatto, brown
"I will give four hundred dollars for him alive, and the same sum for satisfactory proof that he has been killed."
While he was studying it, a long-legged man walked up to the advertisement, and very deliberately spit a mouthful 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 the landlord.
"I'd do it all the same to the writer of that ar paper, if he was here," said the long man. "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!"
"That's a fact," said the landlord.
"I've got a gang of boys, sir," said the long man, "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 knows 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' work and dogs' actions. Treat 'em like men, and you'll have men's work."
"I think you're altogether right, friend," said Mr. Wilson, "and this boy described here is a fine fellow. 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."
Here the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a well-dressed gentleman and a colored servant.
He walled 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 Butler, 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 Bernan's, didn't we?"
"Yes, Mas'r," said Jim, "only I an't sure about the hands."
"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.
Mr. Wilson, from the time of the entrance of the stranger, had regarded him with an air of disturbed and uneasy curiosity. 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.
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 turning 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, and when they reached the room, the young man deliberately locked the door, and put the key in his pocket.
"George!" said Mr. Wilson.
"Yes, George," said the young man.
"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.
After a long conversation, George said, "I am going 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!"
"Where is your wife, George?" said Mr. Wilson.
"Gone, sir, gone, with her child in her arms, the Lord only knows where, and when we ever meet, or whether we meet at all in this world, no creature can tell."
"Is it possible! 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. "I have money enough, I hope, to take me as far as I need it."
"No, but you must, George. Take it, my boy!"
"On condition. sir, that I may repay it at some future time, I will," said George, taking up the money.
"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!"
"I declare, my very blood runs cold when I think of it,—your condition and your risks!" said Mr. Wilson.
"Mr. Wilson, one word more; you have shown yourself a Christian in your treatment of me,—I want to ask one last deed of Christian kindness of you."
"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?"
"Yes, certainly—poor fellow!" said the old gentleman, taking the pin.
CHAPTER XII. SELECT INCIDENT OF LAWFUL TRADE.
MR. HALEY and Tom jogged onward in their wagon, each, for a time, absorbed in his own reflections. 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, waiting for a slave auction to commence.
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 a boy a touch with his hammer, "be up and show your springs, now."
"Put us two up togedder, togedder,—do please, Mas'r," said an 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 towards the block.
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 towards 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.
"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 stripes and stars of free America waved and fluttered overhead; the guards wore 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.
"Boys," said Haley, coming up, briskly, "I hope you keep up good heart, and are cheerful. Now, no sulks, ye see; keep a stiff upper lip, boys; do well by me, and I'll do well by you."
The boys addressed responded the invariable "Yes, Mas'r," but they did not look particularly cheerful.
One day, when the boat stopped 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 railings.
a time, the trader returned 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. She walked forward among the boxes and bales of the lower deck, and, sitting down, busied herself with chirruping to her baby.
Soon Haley seated himself near her, and began saying something to her in an undertone.
Tom noticed 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.
"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.
"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.
"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 his mouth. Then the man 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.
"They won't want the young 'un on a plantation," said the man.
"I shall sell him, first chance I find," said Haley.
"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, "I'll 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. "We get there about dusk. Chap will be asleep, get him off quietly, and no screaming, 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 pocketbook to the trader's, he resumed his cigar.
When the boat stopped at the wharf at Louisville, the woman was sitting with her baby in her arms. 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 her cloak under it; 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. She pressed forward to the front rails, 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." The man took the bundle carefully, and was soon lost in the crowd that went up the wharf.
When the boat left the wharf 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."
Dizzily she sat down. Her hands fell lifeless by her side. Her eyes looked straight forward, but she saw nothing. The poor, dumb-stricken heart had neither cry nor tear to show for its utter misery. She was quite calm.
"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 got up, and the woman turned away, and buried her head in her cloak.
Tom had watched the whole transaction from first to last, and had a perfect understanding of its results. He 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.
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.
The trader waked up bright and early, and came out to see to his live stock. "Where alive is that gal?" he said to Tom.
Tom 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 look-out, whenever the boat stopped. I never trust these yer things to other folks."
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."
"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. 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 he was unlucky, and that, if things went on in this way, he should not make a cent on the trip. He, therefore, sat discontentedly down, with his little account-book, and put down the missing body and soul under the head of losses!
CHAPTER XIII. THE QUAKER SETTLEMENT.
IN a large, roomy, neatly painted
kitchen, its yellow floor glossy and smooth, and without a particle
of dust, sat our old friend Eliza, 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! When her dark eyes raised to follow the gambols of her little Harry, who was sporting, 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 of fifty-five or sixty; but with one of those faces that time seems to touch only to brighten and adorn. The snowy lisse 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, and her hair, partially silvered by age, was parted smoothly back from a high placid forehead.
"And so thee still thinks of going to Canada, Eliza?" she said.
"Yes, ma'am," said Eliza, firmly. "I must go on. I dare not stop."
"And what'll thee do, when thee gets there? Thee must think about that, my daughter."
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, displaying, as she did so, a round little head, on which the Quaker cap sat with a sort of jaunty air.
"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 it out to the boy, who came up, gazing through his curls, and accepted it shyly.
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, "and how is John?"
"O! John is well, and all the rest of our folks," said Ruth, cheerily.
"Did thee say thy name was Harris?" said Simeon to Eliza.
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, as she went out.
"This child's husband is in the settlement, and will be here to-night," said Simeon.
"Now, thee doesn't say that, father?" said Rachel.
"It's really true. Peter was down yesterday, 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. Shall we tell her now?" said Simeon.
"Let's tell Ruth," said Rachel. "Here, Ruth,—come here."
Ruth 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 to-night."
A burst of joy from the little Quakeress interrupted the speech.
"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."
Rachel came to where Eliza was sewing, and opening the door of a small bedroom said, gently, "Come in here with me, my daughter; I have news to tell thee."
"Have courage, child," said Rachel, laying her hand on her head. "Your husband is among friends, who will bring him here to-night."
"To-night!" Eliza repeated, "to-night!" 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. Then she 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, a 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 the first time that ever George had sat down
on equal terms at any white man's table;
and he sat at first, with some constraint and awkwardness.
"I hope, my good sir, that you are not exposed to any difficulty on our account," said George, anxiously.
"Fear not, 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 to-night, at ten o'clock, Phineas Fletcher will carry thee onward to the next stand, thee and the rest of thy 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.
AMONG the passengers on the boat that bore Haley and his living property 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 creatures, that can be no more contained in one place than a sunbeam or a summer breeze. Her form was the perfection of childish beauty. Her face was remarkable less for its perfect beauty of feature; 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.
Tom 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.
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 to, 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, for by this time Haley allowed him to go about as he pleased on a sort of parole, and soon was busy among the hands.
Eva and her father were standing together by the railing to see the boat start from the landing-place, 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 one 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.
The next day the steamer drew near to New Orleans, and 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 pocketbook lay open before him. It was quite evident, at a glance, that the gentleman was Eva's father. He was listening 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 ? 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 should n't but just save myself; I should n't, now, really."
"Papa, do buy him! it's no matter what you pay," whispered Eva, softly. "You have money enough, I know. I want him."
"What for, pussy? Are you going to use him for a rattlebox, 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
fingers, and glanced over carelessly. "There, count your money," said he, as he handed a roll of bills 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.
"Come, Eva," said St. Clare, 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, and the tears started in his eves 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 on '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. 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.
AUGUSTINE ST. CLARE was the son of a
wealthy planter of Louisiana. In childhood, he was remarkable for an
extreme and marked sensitiveness of character. As he grew older he
showed talent 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, he became the husband of the reigning belle of the
season, who from infancy had been surrounded by servants who lived
only to study her caprices. A beau-
tiful daughter was born to them, but from the time of the birth of the child, Marie's health gradually sank, and in a few years the blooming belle was changed into a yellow, faded, sickly woman. All family arrangements fell into the hands of servants, and St. Clare found his home anything but comfortable. His only daughter was exceedingly delicate, and fearing that her health and life might 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.
Miss Ophelia stands before you, in a very shining brown linen traveling 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 traveled 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 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."
"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; "had n't you better run and speak to him?"
"Papa never is in a hurry about anything," said Eva, "and we have n't come to the landing. Do step on the guards, aunty. Look! there's our house, up that street!"
"Yes, yes, dear; very fine," said Miss Opbelia. "But mercy on us! the boat has stopped! where is your father?"
As the boat touched the wharf at New Orleans St. Clare appeared.
"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."
The party was soon seated in a carriage, and on the way to St. Clare's home.
"Where 's Tom?" said Eva.
"Oh, 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 the Moorish fashion,—a square building enclosing a courtyard, into which the carriage drove through an arched gateway. Wide galleries ran all around the four sides, whose Moorish arches, slender pillars, and arabesque ornaments, carried the mind back to the rein of oriental romance in Spain. In the middle of the court, a fountain threw high its silvery water. Two large orange trees, now fragrant with blossoms, threw a delicious shade; and, ranged in a circle round upon the turf, were marble vases containing the choicest flowering plants of the tropics.
As the carriage drove in, Eva seemed like a bird ready to burst from a cage, with the wild eagerness of her delight.
"O, is n't it beautiful, lovely! my own dear, darling home!" she said to Miss Ophelia. "Is n'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.
"Tom, my boy, this seems to suit you." said St. Clare.
"Yes, Mas'r, it looks about the right thing," said Tom.
All this passed in a moment, while trunks were being
hustled off, hackmen 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, attired in the extreme of fashion, and gracefully waving a scented handkerchief in his hand.
"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?"
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," and, so saying, he led Miss Ophelia to a large parlor. Eva flew like a bird to a little boudoir. A tall, dark-eyed, sallow woman half rose from a couch on which she was reclining. "Mamma!" said she, 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 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.
"Well!" said Miss Ophelia, "you Southern children can do something that I could n't."
"What now, pray?" said St. Clare.
"Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I would n'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?"
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, "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; 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."
"See here, Marie," said St. Clare to his wife, "I've bought you a coachman, at last, to order. I tell you, he's regular hearse for blackness and sobriety, and will drive you like a funeral, if you want. Now, don't say I never think about you when I'm gone."
"Well, I hope he may turn out well," said the lady; "it's more than I expect, though."
"Dolph," said St. Clare, "show Tom downstairs; 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.
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."
Evangeline fixed her large, serious eyes on her mother's face, 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 is n't so. There's Mammy,
the best creature living,—what could you do without her?"
"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 could n'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 was n't likely to be convenient for them ever to live together again. I wish now I'd insisted on it, and married Marnmy to somebody else; but I was foolish and indulgent, and did n't want to insist. I told Mammy, at the time, that she must n't ever expect to see him more than once or twice in her life again, for the air of father's place does n't agree with my health, and I can't go there; and I advised her to take up with somebody else; but no—she would n'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 could n't bring them. They were little dirty
things—I could n'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 to-morrow, if she only could. I do, indeed," said Marie; "they are just so selfish, now, the best of them."
Miss Ophelia's eyes expressed such undisguised amazement at this speech that St. Clare 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.
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 began a housewifely chat concerning cupboards, linen presses, store rooms, and other matters.
One day a gay laugh from the court rang through the verandah. St. Clare stepped out, and 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 buttonholes stuck full of cape jessamines, and Eva, laughing gayly, was hanging a wreath of roses round his neck; and then she sat down on his knee still laughing.
"O, Tom, you look so funny!"
Tom had a sober, benevolent smile, and seemed 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 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. Is n'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 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."
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 she.
The child had stopped on the stairs to say to Mammy: "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 would n'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 hand, and, kissing her, ran downstairs 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 yon 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 wishes," 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 has n't a particle of religion about him. It really is n't respectable."
"I know it," said St. Clare. "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."
"Is n'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 is n't much to do it, if He wants us to. It is n't so very tiresome, after all."
"Yon sweet, little obliging soul!" said St. Clare, kissing her, "go along, that's a good girl, and pray for me."
"Well, ladies," said St. Clare, as they were comfortably
seated at the dinner-table, "and what was the bill of fare at church to-day?"
"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 be 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."
"I say, what do you think, Pussy?" said her father to Eva, who came in at this moment.
"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, is n'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."
CHAPTER XVII. THE FREEMAN'S DEFENCE.
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.
"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
thing 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."
"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 red-haired, with an expression of great acuteness and shrewdness in his face.
"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. "Last night I stopped at a little
lone tavern, back on the road, and, after my supper, I stretched
myself down on a pile of bags in the corner, and pulled a buffalo robe
over me, to wait till my bed was ready; and what does I do, but get
fast asleep. I slept 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, drinking and talking; and I thought I'd just see what
they were up to. 'So,' says one, 'they are up in the Quaker
settlement, no doubt' 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. They've got a right notion of the
track we are going to-night; and they'll be down after us, six or eight strong. So, now, what's to be done?"
"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 his 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 they'll need a driver, for all that."
"Phineas is a wise and skillful 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."
"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, 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.
"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."
"Friend Phineas will ever have ways of his own," said Rachel Halliday, smiling.
"Well," said George, "isn't it best that we hasten our flight?"
"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 then 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 look-out on the road, and warn us if any company of men come on. 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. And now, mother," said he, turning, to Rachel, "hurry thy preparations for these friends, for we must not send them away fasting."
As they were sitting down to the supper table, 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 woolen 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. So, good-by, Eliza; good-by, George; the Lord grant thee a safe journey;" and Ruth left the room.
A little while after supper, a large covered-wagon drew up before the door. Eliza 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.
The wagon drove off, rattling and jolting over the frozen road, over wide, dreary plains, up hills, and down valleys,—and on, on, on they jogged, hour after hour.
About three o'clock George's ear caught the hasty and decided click of a horse's hoof coming behind them at some distance. Phineas pulled up his horses, and listened.
"That must be Michael," he said; "T 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. On he came.
"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."
"In with you,—quick, boys, in!" said Phineas. "If you must fight, wait till I get you a piece ahead." And, with the words, both jumped in, and Phineas lashed the horses to a run, the horseman keeping close beside them. 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, which seemed to promise shelter and concealment. It was a place well known to Phineas, and it was to gain this point he had been racing his horses.
"Now for it!" said he, suddenly checking his horses, end 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!"
"Come ahead," said Phineas, as they 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, "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, "but I may have the fun of looking on, I suppose. But see, these fellows are kinder debating down there. Hadn't thee better give 'em a word of advice, before they come up, just to tell 'em they'll be shot if they do?"
The party beneath consisted of our old acquaintances, Tom Loker and Marks, with two constables, and a posse consisting of such rowdies as could be engaged by a little brandy to go and help the fun of trapping a set of niggers.
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, so you'd better give up peaceably, you see."
"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."
The attitude, eye, voice, manner, of the speaker, for a moment struck the party below to silence. Marks was the only one who remained wholly untouched. He was deliberately cocking his pistol, and, in the 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.
"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."
One of the most courageous of the party followed Tom, and, the way being thus made, the whole party began pushing up the rock. 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 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.
"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," and, without minding the hooting, and jeer, of his company, Marks galloped 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.
The men, led by the groans of Tom, scrambled to where he lay groaning.
"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 he 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.
"On my word, they're leaving him, I do believe," said Phineas.
It was true; for after some 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 alone the road, I reckon to meet them. The Lord grant he be along soon!"
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 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 Christiarn," said George; "let's take him. up and carry him on."
"And doctor him up among the Quakers!" said Phineas; "Well, I don't care if we do." And Phineas, who, in the course of his 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 't an'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 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."
"You pushed me down there," said Tom, faintly.
"Well, if I hadn't, thee would have pushed us down, thee sees," said Phineas. "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,—as well as thy own mother could."
The other party now came up. The seats were taken out of the wagon, and four men, with great difficulty, lifted the heavy form of Tom into it. Before he was gotten in, he fainted entirely.
"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; but he'll get over it, and may be learn a thing or two by it."
"What shall you do with him?" 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."
A ride of about an hour more brought the party to a neat farm
house, where the weary travellers found 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.
CHAPTER XVIII. MISS OPHELIA'S EXPERIENCES AND OPINIONS.
TOM soon won the confidence of St. Clare and gradually all the marketing and providing for the family were entrusted to him. He had every facility and temptation to dishonesty; but his impregnable simplicity of nature, strengthened by Christian faith kept him from it.
One evening St. Clare attended a convivial party and was helped home between one and two o'clock, and put to bed by Adolph and Tom.
"Well. Tom, what are you waiting for?" said St. Clare, the next day, as he sat in his library. He 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 looked at Tom.
"Why, Tom, what's the case? You look as solemn as a coffin."
"I feel very bad, Mas'r. I always have thought that Mas'r would be good to everybody."
"Well, Tom, haven't I been? Come, now, what do yon want?
"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."
St. Clare felt his face flush crimson, but he laughed. "Oh, 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. 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 he did,—for gross sensualism, in any form, was not the peculiar temptation of his nature.
Meanwhile, our friend Miss Ophelia lead begun the labors of a Southern housekeeper, and her first visit was to the domains of Dinah, the cook.
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.
When Miss Ophelia entered the kitchen, Dinah did not rise, but smoked on in sublime tranquility.
Miss Oplielia commenced opening a set of drawers. "What is this drawer for, Dinah?" she said.
"It's handy for most anything, Missis," said Dinah. 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 ar,—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 cable-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 teacup, up there, and there's some over in that ar cupboard."
"Here are some in the grater," said Miss Oplielia, 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 Oplielia, 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. Ctare 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, noways—"
"But you should wash your dishes, and clear them away."
"Wash my dishes!" said Dinah, in a high key; "what does ladies know 'bout work, I want to know? When'd Mas'r ever get his dinner, if I was to spend all my time a washin' and a puttin' up dishes?"
Miss Ophelia lifted out the papers of sweet herbs.
"If Missis only will go upstairs till my clarin' up time comes, I'll have everything right; but I can't do nothin' when ladies is round, henderin'."
"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," and
Dinah stalled indignantly about, while Miss Opbelia piled and sorted
dishes, emptied dozens of scatter-
ing 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.
To do Dinah justice, she had, at irregular periods, paroxysms 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.
Miss Ophelia, in a few days, thoroughly reformed every department of the house; but her labors in all departments that depended on the co-operation of servants were herculean.
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, hearing on her head a basket of rusks and hot rolls. "Ho, Prue! you've come," said Dinah.
Prue set clown her basket, squatted herself down, and resting her elbows on her knees said,
"O Lord! I wish't I's dead!"
"Why do your wish you were dead?" said Miss Ophelia.
"I'd be out o' my misery," said the woman, gruffly.
"What need you getting drunk, then, and cutting up, Prue?" said a spruce quadroon chambermaid.
"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.
"They counts my money, when I gets home, to see if I'se got the change; and it I han't, they half kills me."
"And serves you right," said the pert chambermaid, "if you will take their money to get drunk on."
"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.
"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!"
"O, ye poor critter!" 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.
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?" slid 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, anyhow?" she said.
The woman seemed desirious, yet reluctant, to speak, and answered, in a 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 got 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 upstairs 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. 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 tea-bell,—do let's go,and don't say, now, I haven't had one downright serious talk, for once in my life."
Our humble friend Tom had a decent room, contain-
ing a bed, a chair, and a small, rough stand, where lay his Bible and hymn-book; and there he sat with his slate before him, intent on something that seemed to cost him a great deal of anxious thought. The fact was, 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 aliglhted, 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 Torn, drawing the back of his hand over his eyes; "but, somehow, 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 little golden head close to his, 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, 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, yon 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.
The letter, however, was written in due form for him that evening, and safely lodged in the post-office.
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 so odd and goblin-like about
her appearance 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. Here, Topsy," he added, "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.
"For you to educate—didn't I tell you? You're always preaching about educating."
"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. "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 yonr 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."
"Well, I'll do what I can," said Miss Ophelia.
Sitting down before her, she began to question her. "How old are you, Topsy?"
"Dun no, Missis," said the image.
"Don't know how old you are? Didn't anybody ever tell you? Who was your mother?"
"Never had none!" said the child.
"Never had any mother? What do you mean? Where were you born?"
"Never was born!" persisted Topsy, with another goblin-like grin.
"You mustn't answer me in that way, child. Tell me where you were born, and who your father and mother were."
"Never was born," reiterated the creature, more em-
phatically; "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."
"Laws, Missis, there's heaps of 'em," said Jane, breaking in. "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. "I spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me."
"Do you know how to sew?" said Miss Ophelia.
"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 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. Topsy, washed and shorn of all the little braided tails wherein her heart had delighted, arrayed in a clean gown, with well-starched apron stood 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; you remember?"
"Yes, ma'am," says Topsy, with another sigh; but when the good lady's back was turned, the young disciple snatched a pair of gloves and a ribbon and adroitly slipped them into her sleeves.
"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, but by an unlucky slip, however, a 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!"
Topsy was not in the least disconcerted. "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 know it's wicked to tell lies?"
"I never tells 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 that ar, it must a got caught in my sleeve. Miss Feely 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 gloves 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 up 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 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'se so good, you don't know nothing how to get along with niggers. There's no way but to cut 'em well up, I'll 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, and passed out of the room.
Eva stood looking at Topsy perplexed and sorrowful, but she 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.
But what was to be done with Topsy? Miss Ophelia found the case a puzzler, and so shut Topsy up in a dark closet 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."
"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, or whichever came handiest, 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."
"I can only persevere and try, and do the best I can," said Miss Ophelia; after this, she did labor with zeal and energy, on her new subject. She instituted regular hours and employments for her, and undertook to teach her to read and to 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 windows, 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.
Topsy was soon a noted character in the establishment. In her play hours, she invariably had every child in the eestablishment at her heels, open-mouthed with admiration and wonder, not excepting Miss Eva, who appeared to be fascinated by her, as a dove is sometimes charmed by a 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."
Topsy was smart and energetic in all manual operations, learning everything that was taught her with surprising quickness. 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. When left to herself, instead of making the bed, she would amuse herself with pulling off the pillow-cases, butting her woolly head among the pillows, till it w,ould 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 Oplielia's night clothes, 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!—would n'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.
St. Clare took the same kind of amusement in the child that a man might take 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 coin, 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.
CHAPTER XXI. KENTUCK.
LET us 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 left behind.
"Do you know," said, Mrs. Shelby to her husband, "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."
"All! 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 he raised."
"I 'm sure I don't know," said Mr. Shelby. "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."
"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."
Here the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of Aunt Chloe herself.
"If you please, Missis," said she.
"Well, Chloe, what is it?" said her mistress.
"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.
"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, langhing again, "other folks hires out der niggers and makes money on 'em! Don't keep such a tribe eatin' 'em out of house and home."
"Well, Chloe, who do you propose that we should hire out?"
"Laws! I ant 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, 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, nuther, 'longside no perfectioner's."
"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' aster."
"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."
Chloe's dark face brightened immediately, really shone. "Laws! if Missis is n't too good! I was thinkin' of dat ar very thing; cause I should n'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 that 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 vears, Chloe; but, then, you reed n't do it all,—I shall add something to it."
"I would n't hear to Missis' givin' lessons nor nothin'.
Mas'r's quite right in dat ar!—'t would n'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 'pectin' nothin', only Sam, he 's a gwine to de river with some colts, and so if Missis was willin', I 'd go with Sam to-morrow 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 upstairs, and Aunt Chloe, delighted, went out to her cabin, to make her preparation.
"Laws sakes, Mas'r George! ye did n't know I's a gwine to Louisville to-morrow!" 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 leave four dollars a week; and Missis is gwine to lay it all up, to buy back my old man agin!"
"Whew!" said George. "How are you going?"
"To-morrow, 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."
"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. 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,
"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,
"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,
"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 oven 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
she became soon so tired and languid. They were interrupted by a hasty call from Miss Ophelia.
"Eva—Eva!—why, child, the dew is falling; you mustn't be out there!"
She had noted the slight, dry, cough, the daily brightening cheek, and 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."
The child's whole heart and soul seemed absorbed in works of love and kindness, and there was a touching and womanly thoughtfulness about her now, that everyone noticed. 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 everyone 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. "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, thoughful 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! Would n'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."
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. Henrique, the eldest son of Alfred, was a noble, dark-eyed boy, full of vivacity and spirit; and, from the first moment of introduction, seemed to be perfectly fascinated by the 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 verandah by Tom, while a little mulatto boy led along a small black Arabian, which had just been imported, at a great expense, for Henrique. As he advanced and took the reins out of the hands of his little groom, his brow darkened.
"What 's this, Dodo, You little lazy dog! You have n'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?"
"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 spects 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. "Dear cousin, I 'm sorry this stupid fellow has kept you waiting," he said. "What 's the matter, you look sober."
"How could you be so cruel and wicked to poor Dodo?" said 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 do n't know Dodo; it 's the only way to manage him, he's so full of lies and excuses."
"But Uncle Tom said it was an accident, and he never tells what is n't true."
"He 's an uncommon old nigger, then!" said Henrique. "Dodo will lie as fast as he can speak; 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 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."
When he had placed the reins in her hands, Eva bent to the other side of the horse, where Dodo was standing, and said, "That's a good boy, Dodo;—thank you!"
Dodo looked up. 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 something for you to buy candy with, Dodo," said he, and cantered down the walk after Eva.
St. Clare and his brother were playing a game of backgammon when the children returned from their ride. Eva 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.
"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, and she soon found herself much better. Her father and uncle resumed their game, and the children were left together.
"Do you know, Eva, 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 money 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 would n't have me! I may like him well enough; but you don't love your servants."
"I do, indeed."
"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!"
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.
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.
Miss Ophelia had several times tried to awaken her maternal fears about Eva; but to no avail.
In a week or two, there was a great improvement of symptoms, and Eva's step was 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.
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. But her heart yearned with sad tenderness for all that she was to leave behind.
Eva came tripping up the verandah steps to her father. He folded her suddenly in his arms, and said:
"Eva, dear, you are better nowadays,—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 must n't indulge such gloomy thoughts."
"No, papa," said Eva. "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, don't you think they are well enough off now?"
"O, but, papa, if anything should happen to you, what would become of them? 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, and 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 Savior'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."
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. Soon after their return Miss Ophelia appeared, dragging Topsy after her.
"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!"
"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 bow 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 dor; but it did n't do me no good! I spects, if they 's to pull every spear o' har out o' my head, it would n't do no good, neither,—I 's so wicked! Laws! I 's nothin' but a nigger, no ways!"
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.
St. Clare 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, Topsy, with her usual air of careless drollery
and unconcern; Eva, with
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?"
"Dunno 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 had n'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—"
"Could n'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 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."
"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 dropped the curtain.
CHAPTER XXVI. DEATH.
THE deceitful strength which had buoyed Eva up for a little while was fast passing away.
One afternoon, as she was reclining on a lounge by the open window, she heard her mother's voice, in sharp tones, in the verandah.
"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 Topsy reply.
"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 of 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 unusual to her.
She 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; but, if yon 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.
"Mamma, yon 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."
"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!"
"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?"
"What's that," said St. Clare, who just then entered. "Papa, I just want Aunty to cut off some of my hair; I want to give some of it away."
Miss Ophelia came, with her scissors.
St. Clare closed his lips, and stood gloomily eyeing 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.
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 evident she saw, felt, and appreciated, the difference between the two. Her father came, and sat down by her.
"Papa, my strength fades away every day, and I know I must go. I want to see all our people together. I have some things I must say to them," said Eva.
Miss Ophelia dispatched 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.
Then she raised herself, and looked long and earnestly round at every one.
"I sent for you all, my dear friends," said Eya, "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 re-
member 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 were sobbing, with their heads bowed upon their knees.
"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.
St. Clare had been sitting, during the whole time, with his hands 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 in 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.
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—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.
At last he would not sleep in his room, but lay all night in the outer verandah, ready to rouse at every call.
At midnight, the door of Eva's room was quickly opened. "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."
In a few moments, Tom returned, with the doctor. He entered, gave one look, and stood silent as the rest. 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 door; 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!"
"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! its over,—it's over, dear Master!" said Tom; "look at her."
"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!
"THIS IS THE LAST OF EARTH."—John Q. Adams.
THE BED was draped in white; and there, beneath a drooping angel-figure, lay a little sleeping form, sleeping never to awaken!
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. 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. 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."
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.
"Get up, child," said Miss Ophelia, in a softened voice; "don't cry so. Miss Eva is gone to heaven: she is an angel."
"She said she loved me," said Topsv,—"she did! O, dear! oh, dear! there an't nobody left now,—there an'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.
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 while 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.
One day after the funeral 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.
"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, and 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 bow 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?"
"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. 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."
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.
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, as soon as he could bring it about, 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.
"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 free man! 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 go, 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."
Marie St. Clare felt the loss of Eva as deeply as she could feel anything. 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.
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. Topsy did not become at once a saint; but the life and death of Eva did work a marked change in her.
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.
"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." The clamor and confusion drew Miss Ophelia and St. Clare both to the spot. "She's been stealing"' said Rosa.
"I han't neither!" cried 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 ever, 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.
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.
"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.
"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 a paper, pen, and ink; just write a paper."
"Why, what's the matter?" said he. "Can't you take my word?"
"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."
"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'm 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," said Miss
Ophelia. "Nobody but God has a right to give her to me; but I can protect her now."
"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 of her, and he spoke now evidently repressing very strong feeling.
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, to-night," 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 to-night."
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 bow 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 be 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
to have any presence of mind; for Marie was in strong hysteric convulsions.
The physician now arrived, and made his examination, but it was evident, from the expression of his face, that there was no hope.
"Now," said the physician, "we must turn all these creatures out; all depends on his being kept quiet."
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!"
And Tom did pray, with all his mind and strength, for the soul that was passing,—the soul that seemed looking so steadily and molfrnfully 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 tools his hand, looking earnestly at him, but saving 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 words that he had been singing during the evening.
"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. Just before the spirit parted, be opened his eyes, with a sudden light, as of joy and recognition, and said, "Mother!" and then he was gone!
CHAPTER XXIX. THE UNPROTECTED.
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.
"O, Miss Feely," 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!"
All the honest blood of womanhood, the strong New England blood of liberty, flushed to Miss Ophelia's cheeks, but 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."
She found Marie sitting up in her easy-chair.
"I came," said Miss Ophelia, "to speak with you about poor Rosa."
"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, 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!"
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.
"Do ye know, Tom, that we've all got to be sold?" said Adolph.
"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 all be sent off to auction, Tom."
"The Lord's will be done!" said Tom, folding his arms and sighing heavily.
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 about it to Missis, she would feel like goin' on with it, as it was 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."
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."
"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. "Keep a negro under the care of a master, and he does well enough, a nd 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."
"But Tom is so steady, industrious, and pious."
"O, you needn't tell me! I've seen a hundred like him. He'll do very well, as long as he's taken care of,—that's all."
"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 smelling-bottle, with great vehemence.
"Everybody goes against me!" she said. "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!" 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, but she 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.
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.
This was the men's sleeping room, and 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 only yesterday, and who to-night 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 to-morrow, 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 round 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. By her side, and nestling
close to her, is a young girl of fifteen,—her daughter. She is a
quadroon, as may be seen from her fair 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. These two are to be sold to-morrow, 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, 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. Susan
and Emmeline were attached by his creditors and sent to the depot to await a general auction on the following morning.
"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.
"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 to. morrow." 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."
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 look-out on the toilet; injunctions passed
around to every one to put on their best face and be spry; and now
all are ar-
ranged in a circle for a last review, before they are marched up to the Bourse.
Mr. Skeggs, with his palmetto hat 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."
A little before the sale commenced, a short, broad, muscular man
elbowed his way through the crowd. His round, bullet head, large,
light-gray eyes, with their shaggy, sandy eye-brows, 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?" said he.
"In Kentuck, Mas'r," said Tom.
"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. The girl was frightened, and began to cry.
"Stop that, you minx!" said the salesman; "no whimpering here; the sale is going to begin."
Adolph was knocked off, at a good sum, to a young gentleman 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!
The bidding went on, rattling, clattering, now French. now English. Down goes the hammer again,—Susan is sold. 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 eve 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.
CHAPTER XXXI. THE MIDDLE PASSAGE.
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.
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.
Stopping opposite to Tom, who had been attired for sale in his best broadcloth suit, with well-starched linen and shining boots, he briefly said:
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 a
dilapidated coat, which Tom had been wont to put on about his
stable-work, he said, liber-
ating 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."
Simon next walked up to the remainder of his property.
"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.
Every eye was directed to the glaring greenish-gray eye of Simon.
"Now," said he, doubling his great, heavy fist, "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 fiat 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!"
Then 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."
"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 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."
CHAPTER. XXXII. DARK PLACES.
TRAILING wearily behind a rude wagon, and over a ruder road, Tom and his associates faced onward. In the wagon was seated Simon Legree; Em and a mulatto woman, 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.
Simon rode on, however, apparently well pleased, occasionally pulling away at a flask of spirit, which he kept in his pocket.
The wagon rolled up a weedy gravel walk, under a noble avenue of China trees, and stopped in front of a house which had been large and handsome, but now looked desolate and uncomfortable.
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. "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?"
"Fuse 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. 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.
"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 sudden start, and, drawing back, said suddenly.
"O, Mas'r! I left my old man in New Orleans."
"What of that? 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,
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.
"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, and began to contend for 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. 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.
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 is it was; but it woke all 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 of comfort.
"What's that?" said one of the women.
"Why, the Bible."
"Laws a me! what's dat?" said another 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."
"I jest wish I know'd whir to find Him," said the woman. "I would go; 'pears like I never should get rested agin. 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. 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.
CHAPTER XXXIII. CASSY.
IT took but a short time to familiarize Tom with all that was to be hoped or feared in his new way of life, and Legree took 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.
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.
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,—glad of it!" said one.
"He! he! he!" said another; "you'll know how good it is, Misse!"
The woman took no notice of these taunts, but walked on, with the same expression of angry scorn.
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 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 fainted.
"I'll bring her to!" said the driver, with a brutal grin, 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 ye 'll wish yer's dead to-night, I reckin!"
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 must n't! you dunno 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.
Suddenly, the stranger woman, who had come near enough to hear Tom's last words, raised her heavy black eyes, and then, taking a quantity of cotton from her basket, she placed it in his.
"You know nothing about this place," she said, "or you would n'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.
"The Lord never visits these parts," said the woman, bitterly, as she went nimbly forward with her work.
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 you here for, den?" said the man, sullenly retreating a step or two. "Did n't' mean no harm, Misse Cassy!"
"Keep your distance, then!" said the woman. The man
When the day's work was done, Legree stood 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 Mas'r 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.
"Wal, boys, the best way is to give him the flogging to do, till he gets over his notions. Break him in!"
"Wal, Lucy was real aggravatin' and lazy, sulkin' round; would n'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."
Slowly the weary, dispirited creatures wound their way into the room, and, with crouching reluctance, presented their baskets to be weighed.
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.
"Now," said Legree, "come here, you Tom. Ye jest take this ver 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 across 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 ve 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!"
Legree looked stupified 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! 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 anyone here, I never shall,—I'll die first!"
"Well, here 's a pious dog, at last let down among us sinners! An't yer mine, body and soul?" said Legree, giving Tom a violent hick with his heave boot; "tell me!"
"No! no! no! my soul an't yours, Mas'r! You have n'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 laid hold of Tom, with fiendish exultation in their faces. 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 QUADROONS STORY.
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 mosquitoes, 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 oil 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 is n'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 mattress, 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.
"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.
"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 bad 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!"
"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 is n't any God, I believe; or, if there is, He 's taken sides against us."
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 lap for the dogs to tear, or hung up and whipped to death. There 's no law here, of God or man, that can do for 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 anyone'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.
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 and began to read aloud. When she came to the 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.
Then she told him the story of her life. The pitiful story of a slave mother and a white father; of a child feared in luxury, sold to be the slave of man's passions; and then the loss of her children, who were torn from her and sold as well. The common fate of a beautiful slave woman bad been hers, and then, with faded beauty and a broken heart, a home, if it could be so called, with Legree. 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.
"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 is n't here! there's nothing here, but sin, and long, long, long despair! O!" She laid her hand 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 comfort she could, Cassy left the shed.
CHAPTER XXXV. LEGREE AND CASSY.
THE sitting-room of Legree's
establishment was a large, long room, with a wide, ample fireplace.
In the fireplace stood a brazier full of burning charcoal: for,
although the weather was not cold, the evenings seemed damp and
chilly in that great room; and Legree,
moreover, wanted a place to light his cigars, and heat his water for punch.
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."
"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.
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. 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, to show how perfectly she scorned the threat.
"Blast it!" said Legree to himself, as he sipped his liquor, after
Cassy had slipped out of the room, "I 'm lonesome. I 'll have Sambo
and Quimbo up here, to sing and dance one of their hell dances, and
keep off these horrid notions;" and putting on his hat, he went on to
dah, 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, hallooing, 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 turned hurriedly away, and, passing round to a back door, glided upstairs, 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 was afraid it was—. O, you don't know what a horrid noise there has been, downstairs, all this evening!"
"I ought to know," said Cassy, dryly. "I 've heard it often enough."
"O, Cassy! do tell me,—could n't we get away from this place? I don't care where, into the swamp among the snakes,—anywhere! Could n'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 could n'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 would n't he do, you 'd better ask," said Cassy. "He 's learned his trade well, among the pirates in the West Indies. You would n'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 have 'nt 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."
Emmeline turned away, and hid her face in her hands. While this conversation was passing in the chamber, Legree, overcome with his carouse, had sank to sleep in the room below.
In the morning he woke with an oath and a curse, and, stumbling to his feet, poured out a tumbler of brandy and drank half of it.
"I've had a frightful 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. 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 be shall beg my pardon, and promise better fashions."
Legree, though he talked so stoutly to Cassy, sallied forth from the house with a degree of misgiving.
"Well, my boy," said Legree, with a contemptuous kick, "how do you find yourself? Did n'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 could n't treat a poor sinner, now, to a bit of a 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, maybe, 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 have n'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."
"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.
"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!"
CHAPTER XXXVII. LIBERTY.
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 roadside.
We left Tom Loker groaning in a most immaculately clean Quaker bed, under the motherly supervision of Aunt Dorcas.
"The devil!" said Tom Loker, giving a great throw to the bedclothes.
"I must request thee, Thomas, not to use such language," said Aunt Dorcas, as she quietly rearranged the bed.
"Well, I won't, granny, if I can help it," said Tom.
"That fellow and gal are here, I s'pose," said he, suddenly, 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.
"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!—"
"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.
After Tom Loker had lain three weeks in bed at the Quaker dwelling, he arose 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 could n'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 hospitable roof, preparatory to taking their last passage on the lake.
Before Eliza was arrayed in man's attire,she shook down her silky
abundance of black curly hair. "I say, George,
it 's almost a pity, is n'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, won't I make a pretty young fellow," she said, turning to her husband, laughing and blushing at the same time.
"You will always be pretty, do what you will;" said George.
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?"
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, 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, joined to an indefinite amount of seedcakes 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 everyone that came on board," said the clerk, "and I know they 're not on this boat."
The speaker whom he addressed was our old friend Marks.
"You would scarcely know the woman from a white woman," 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 them.
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.
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!
CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE VICTORY.
LONG before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that Tom 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.
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 hits of brushwood on the fire, and strove to raise the light, and then drew his worn Bible from his pocket, then heavily sighed and replaced it. 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! 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
would n't have let me get you! This yer religion is all a mess of
lying trumpery, Tom. 1 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.
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 utmost 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 it down with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father on His throne."
From this time, an inviolable sphere of peace encompassed the lowly heart of the oppressed one. 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.
One night, after all in Tom's cabin were sunk in sleep, he was suddenly aroused by seeing Cassy's 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, would n't you like your liberty?"
"I shall have it, Misse, in God's time," said Tom.
"Ay, but you may have it to-night," said Cassy, with a flash of sudden energy. "Come on."
"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 bad more,—I should n'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.
"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 a moment 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."
"Father Tom, I'll try it!" she said suddenly.
"Amen!" said Tom, "the Lord help ye!"
CHAPTER XXXIX. THE STRATAGEM.
THE sleeping room of Cassy was
directly under the garret. One day, without consulting Legree, she
suddenly took it upon her to change all the furniture of the room to
one at some considerable distance. The under-servants, who were
helping her, 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 '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 would n't disturb you! Only groans, and people scufflling, and rolling round on the garret 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 he 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 shut and locked the door.
Legree blustered and swore, and threatened to break down the
door; but apparently thought better of it, and walked uneasilv into
the sitting-room. Casey 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 knothole in the garret 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.
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, the 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, sunllenly
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
trated, have a strange fascination for one who once begins to read them."
Legree poohed and pished, but finally, after reading some way, he threw down the book, with an oath.
"You don't believe in ghosts, do you, Cass?" said he.
"No matter what I believe," said Cassy, sullenly.
"Them noises was nothing but rats and the wind," said Legree. "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 laving her hand, icy cold, on his, he spring back, with an oath.
"Woman, what do you mean? Nobodv did?"—
"O, no,—of course not,—did I say they did?" said Cassy.
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
"Twelve o'clock; well, now we'll see," said she, turning, and opening the door into the passageway.
"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.
"Had n'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, Cassy slowly and carefully accumulated there a stock of provisions sufficient to afford subsistence for some time; and transferred 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.
When the time arrived, Cassy and Emmeline were 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 just 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."
The two fugitives glided noiselessly from the house, and flitted, through the gathering shadows of evening, along by the quarters. As Cassy expected, when quite clear 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 baggages! They're safe enough. They shall sweat for it!"
"Hulloa, there! Sambo! Quimbo! All bands!" called Legree, coming to the quarters, when the men and women was just returning from work. "There 's two run aways 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!"
" Mas'r, shall we shoot 'em, if we can't cotch 'em?" said Sambo, to whom his master brought out a rifle.
"Yon may fire on Cass, if you like; 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.
"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 chance 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 upstairs, by and by. Meanwhile," said she, deliberately taking a key from the pocket of a coat that Legree had thrown clown 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 need n't talk to us. Every one of these bills is stolen,—stolen front 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."
CHAPTER XL. THE MARTYR.
THE escape of Cassy and Emmeline irritated the before surly temper of Legree to the last degree; and his fury, as was to be expected, fell upon the defenceless head of Tom. Had not this man braved him,—steadily, powerfully, resistlessly,—ever since he bought him?
"I hate him!" said Legree, that night, as he sat up in his bed; "I hate him! And is n't he mine? Can't I do what I like with him? Who's to hinder, I wonder?" And Legree clenched his fist, and shook it, as if he had something in his hands that he could rend in pieces.
The next morning, he determined to say nothing, as yet; to assemble a party, from some neighboring plantations, with dogs and guns; to surround the swamp, and go about the hunt systematically. If it succeeded, well and good; if not he would summon Tom before him, and—his teeth clenched and his blood boiled—then he would break that fellow down, or—there was a dire inward whisper, to which his soul assented.
The hunt was long, animated, and thorough, but unsuccessful; and,
with grave, ironic exultation, Cassy looked
down on Legree, as, weary and dispirited, he alighted from his horse.
"Now, Quimbo," said Legree, as he stretched himself down in the sitting room, "you jest go and walk that Tom up here, right away! The old cuss is at the bottom of this yer whole matter; and I'll have it out of his old black hide, or I'll know the reason why!"
Tom heard the message with a forewarning heart; for he knew all the plan of the fugitives' escape, and the place of their present concealment;—he knew the deadly character of the man he had to deal with, and his despotic power. But he felt strong in God to meet death, rather than betray the helpless.
He sat his basket down by the row, and, looking up, said, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit! Thou hast redeemed me, oh Lord God of truth!" and then quietly yielded himself to the rough, brutal grasp with which Quimbo seized him.
"Ay, ay!" said the giant, as he dragged him along; "ye'll cotch it, now! I'll boun' Mas'r's back's up high! No sneaking out, now! Tell ye, ye'll get it, and no mistake! See how you'll look, now, helpin' Mas'r's niggers to run away! See what ye'll get!"
"Well, Tom!" said Legree, walking up, and seizing him grimly by the collar of his coat, and speaking through his teeth, in a paroxysm of determined rage, "do you know I've made up my mind to kill you?"
"It's very likely, Mas'r," said Tom, calmly.
"I have," said Legree, with grim, terrible calmness, "done—jest—that—thing, Tom, unless you'll tell me what you know about these yer gals!"
Tom stood silent.
"D' ye hear?" said Legree, stamping, with a roar like that of an incensed lion. "Speak!"
"I han't got nothing to tell Mas'r," said Tom, with a slow, firm, deliberate utterance.
"Do you dare to tell me, ye old black Christian, ye don't know?" said Legree.
Tom was silent.
"Speak!" thundered Legree, striking him furiously. "Do you know anything?"
"I know, Mas'r; but I can't tell anything. I can die!" Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said, in a terrible voice, "Hark 'e, Tom!—ye think, 'cause I've let you off before, I don't mean what I say; but, this time, I've made up my mind, and counted the cost. You've always stood it out agin' me; now, I'll conquer ye, or kill ye!—one or t' other. I'll count every drop of blood there is in you, and take 'em, one by one, till ye give up!"
Tom looked up to his master, and answered, "Mas'r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I 'd give ve my heart's blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I 'd give 'em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas'r! don't bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than 't will me! Do the worst you can, my troubles 'll be over soon; but, if ye don't repent, yours won't, never end."
Legree stood aghast and looked at Tom.
There was a moment's pause. It was but a moment.
One hesitating pause,—one irresolute, relenting thrill,—and the spirit of evil came back, with seven-fold vehemence; and Legree, foaming with rage, smote his victim to the ground.
Was he alone, that long night, whose brave, loving spirit was bearing up, in that old shed, against buffeting and brutal stripes?
Nay! There stood by him One,—seen by him alone,—"like unto the Son of God."
"He is most gone, Mas'r," said Sambo, touched, in spite of himself, by the patience of his victim.
"Pay away, till he gives up! Give it to him!—give it to him!" shouted Legree. "I'll take every drop of blood he has, unless he confesses!"
Tom opened his eves and looked upon his master, "Ye poor miserable critter!" he said, "there an't no more ye can do! I forgive ye, with all my soul!" and he fainted entirely away.
"I b'lieve, my soul, he's done for, finally," said Legree stepping forward, to look at him. "Yes, he is! Well, his mouth's shut up, at last,—that's, one comfort!"
Yet Tom wa's not quite gone. His wondrous words and
pious prayers had struck upon the hearts of the imbruted blacks, who had been the instruments of cruelty upon him; and, the instant Legree withdrew, they took him down, and, in their ignorance, sought to call him back to life,—as if that were any favor to him.
"Sartin, we's been doin' a drefful wicked thing!" said Sambo; "hopes Mas'r'll have to 'count for it, and not we."
They washed his wounds,—they provided a rude bed,
of some refuse cotton, for him to lie down on; and one of them, stealing up to the house, begged a drink of brandy of Legree, pretending that he was tired, and wanted it for himself. He brought it back, and poured it down Tom's throat.
"O, Tom!" said Quimbo, "we's been awful wicked to ye!"
"I forgive ye, with all my heart!" said Tom, faintly.
"O, Tom! do tell us who is Jesus, anyhow?" said Sambo;—"Jesus, that's been a standin' by you so, all this night!—Who is He?"
The words roused the failing, fainting spirit. He poured forth a few energetic sentences of that wondrous One,—His life, His death, His everlasting presence, and power to save.
They wept,—both the two savage men.
"Why didn't I never hear this before?" said Sambo, "but I do believe!—I can't help it; Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!"
"Poor critters!" said Tom, "I'd be willing to bar all I have, if it'll only bring ye to Christ! O, Lord! give me these two more souls, I pray!"
That prayer was answered!
CHAPTER XLI. THE YOUNG MASTER.
THE letter of Miss Ophelia to Mrs. Shelby had, by some unfortunate accident, been detained, for a month or two, at some remote postoffice before it reached its destination; and, of course, before it was received, Tom was already lost to view among the distant swamps of the Red River.
Mrs. Shelby was deeply grieved, but she was then in attendance on the sick-bed of her husband. A little later he died. and then the large amount of business thrown upon her delayed the matter for a while. Then she received a letter from the lawyer to whom Miss Ophelia had referred her, saying that he knew nothing of the matter, that Tom was sold at a public auction, and that, beyond receiving the money, he knew nothing of the affair.
Neither George nor Mrs. Shelby could be easy at this result, and, accordingly, some six months after, the latter, who had grown from a boy to a tall young man, having business for his mother, down the river, visited New Orleans in hopes of discovering Tom's whereabouts, and restoring him.
After some months of unsuccessful search, by the merest accident,
George fell in with a man, in New Orleans, who
happened to be possessed of the desired information; and with his money in his pocket, our hero took steamboat for Red River, resolving to find out, and re-purchase his old friend.
He was soon introduced into the house, where he found Legree in the sitting room.
Legree received the stranger with a kind of surly hospitality.
"I understand," said the young man, "that you bought, in New Orleans, a boy, named Tom. He used to be on my father's place and I came to see if I couldn't buy him back."
Legree's brow grew dark, and he broke out passionately: "Yes, I did buy such a fellow,—and a great bargain I had of it, too! The most rebellious, saucy, impudent dog! Set up my niggers to run away, got off two gals, worth eight hundred or a thousand dollars apiece. He owned to that, and when I bid him tell me where they was, he up and said he knew, but he wouldn't tell, and stood to it, though I gave him the cussedest flogging I ever gave nigger yet. I b'lieve he's trying to die; but I don't know as he'll make it out."
"Where is he?" said George, impetuously. "Let me see him."
"He 's in dat ar shed," said a little fellow, who stood holding George's horse.
Legree kicked the boy, and swore at him; but George, without saying another word, turned and strode to the spot.
Tom had been lying two days since the fatal night; not
suffering, for every nerve of suffering was blunted and destroyed.
Cassy, who had glided out of her place of concealment, and, by over-hearing, learned the sacrifice that had been made for her and Emmeline, had been there, the night before, defying the danger of detection; and. moved by the few last words which the affectionate soul had yet strength to breathe, the dark, despairing woman had wept and prayed.
When George entered the shed, he felt his head giddy and his heart sick.
"Is it possible,—is it possible?" said he, kneeling down by him. "Uncle Tom, my poor, poor old friend!" Something in the voice penetrated to the ear of the dying. He moved his head gently, smiled, and said:
"Jesus can make a dying bed
Tears which did honor to his manly heart fell from the young man's eyes, as he bent over his poor friend.
"O, dear Uncle Tom! do wake,—do speak once more! Look up! Here's Mas'r George;—your own little Mas'r George. Don't you know me?"
"Mas'r George!" said Tom, opening his eyes, and speaking in a feeble voice; "Mas'r George!" He looked bewildered.
Slowly the idea seemed to fill his soul: and the vacant eve became
fixed and brightened, the whole face lighted up, the hard hands
clasped, and tears ran down the cheeks. "Bless the Lord! it is,—it
is,—it's all I wanted! They
haven't forgot me. It warms my soul; it does my old heart good! Now I shall die content! Bless the Lord, oh my soul!"
"You shan't die! you mustn't die, nor think of it! I've come to buy you, and take you home," said George, with impetuous vehemence.
"O, Mas'r George, ye're too late. The Lord's bought me, and is going to take me home,—and I long to go. Heaven is better than Kentuck."
"O, don't die! It'll kill me!—it'll break my heart to think what you've suffered,—and lying in this old shed, here! Poor, poor fellow!"
"Don't call me poor fellow!" said Tom, solemnly. "I have been poor fellow; but that's all past and gone, now. I'm right in the door, going into glory! O, Mas'r George! Heaven has come! I've got the victory!—the Lord Jesus has given it to me! Glory be to His name!"
George was awe-struck at the force, the vehemence, the power, with which these broken sentences were uttered. He sat gazing in silence.
Tom grasped his hand, and continued,—"Ye mustn't, now, tell
Chloe, poor soul! how ye found me; 'twould be so drefful to her. Only
tell her ye found me going into glory; and that I couldn't stay for
no one. And tell her the Lord's stood by me everywhere and al'ays,
and made everything light and easy. And oh, the poor chil'en, and the
baby!—my old heart's been most broke for 'em, time and agin! Tell
'em all to follow me—follow me! Give my love to Mas'r, and clear good
Missis, and everybody in the place! Ye don't know! 'Pears like I
loves 'em all!
At this moment, Legree sauntered up to the door of the shed, looked in, with a dogged air of affected carelessness, and turned away.
At this moment, the sudden flush of strength which the joy of meeting his young master had infused into the dying man gave way. A sudden sinking fell upon him, he closed his eyes; and that mysterious and sublime change passed over his face, that told the approach of other worlds.
He began to draw his breath with long, deep inspirations; and his broad chest rose and fell, heavily. The expression of his face was that of a conqueror.
"Who, who, who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" he said, in a voice that contended with mortal weakness; and, with a smile, he fell asleep.
George sat fixed with solemn awe. It seemed to hinn that the place was holy; and, as he closed the lifeless eyes, and rose up from the dead, only one thought possessed him, that expressed. by his simple old friend,—"What a thing it is to be a Christian!"
He turned: Legree was standing. sullenly, behind him. Fixing his keen dark eyes on Legree, he simply said, pointing to the dead, "You have got all you ever can of him. What shall I pay you for the body? I will take it away, and bury it decently."
"I don't sell dead niggers," said Legree, doggedly. "You are welcome to bury him where and when you like."
"Boys," said George, to two or three negroes, who were
looking at the body, "help me lift him up, and carry him to my wagon; and get me a spade."
One of them ran for a spade; the other two assisted George to carry the body to the wagon.
George spread his cloak in the wagon, and had the body carefully disposed of in it, then he turned, fixed his eyes on Legree, and said, with forced composure,
"I have not, as yet, said to you what I think of this most atrocious affair; this is not the time and place. But, sir, this innocent blood. shall have justice. I will proclaim this murder. I will go to the very first magistrate, and expose you."
"Do!" said Legree, snapping his fingers, scornfully. "I'd like to see you doing it. Where you going to get; witnesses?—how you going to prove it?—Come, now!"
George saw, at once, the force of this defiance. There was not a white person on the place; and, in all southern courts, the testimony of colored blood is nothing. He felt, at that moment, as if he could have rent the heavens with his heart's indignant cry for justice; but in vain.
"After all, what a fuss, for a dead nigger!" said Legree. The word was as a spark to a powder magazine. Prudence was never a cardinal virtue of the Kentucky boy. George turned, and, with one indignant blow, knocked Legree flat upon his face.
Beyond the boundaries of the plantation, George had noticed a dry, sandy knoll, shaded by a few trees: there they made a gave.
"Shall we take off the cloak, Mas'r?" said the negroes, when the grave was ready.
"No, no,—bury it with him! It's all I can give you, now, poor Tom, and you shall have it."
They laid him in; and the men shovelled away, silently. They banked it up, and laid green turf over it.
"You may go, boys," said George, slipping a quarter into the hand of each. They lingered about, however.
"If young Mas'r would please buy us—" said one.
"We 'd serve him so faithful!" said the other.
"Hard times here, Mas'r!" said the first. "Do, Mas'r, buy us, please!"
"I can't!—I can't!" said George, with difficulty motioning them off; it's impossible!"
The poor fellows looked dejected, and walked off in silence.
"Witness, eternal God!" said George, kneeling on the grave of his poor friend; "oh, witness, that from this hour, I will do what one man can to drive out this curse of slavery from my land!"
There is no monument to mark the last resting place of our friend. He needs none! His Lord knows where he lies, and will raise him up, immortal, to appear with him when he shall appear in his glory.
CHAPTER XLII. AN AUTHENTIC GHOST STORY.
THE night after Tom's body had been carried away, Legree rode to the next town for a carouse, and had a high one. Got home late and tired; locked his door, took out the key, and went to bed. He slept soundly, but finally, there came over his sleep a shadow, a horror, an apprehension of something dreadful hanging over him. It was his mother's shroud, he thought; but Cassy had it, holding it up, and showing it to him. He heard a confused noise of screams and groanings; and, with it all, he knew he was asleep, and he struggled to wake himself. He was half awake. He was sure something was coming into his room. He knew the door was opening, but he could not stir hand or foot. At last he turned, with a start; the door was open, and he saw a hand putting out his light.
It was a cloudy, misty moonlight, and there he saw it!—something
white gliding in! He heard the still rustle of its ghostly garments.
It stood still by his bed;—a cold hand touched his; a voice said,
three times, in a low, fearful whisper, "Come! come! come!" And,
while he lay sweating with terror, he knew not when or how the thing
was gone. He sprang out of bed, and pulled at the door.
It was shut and locked, and the man fell down in a swoon.
After this, Legree became a harder drinker than ever before. He no longer drank cautiously, prudently, but imprudently and recklessly.
By a singular coincidence, on the very night that this vision appeared to Legree, the house-door was found open in the morning, and some of the negroes had seen two white figures gliding down the avenue towards the high-road.
It was near sunrise when Cassy and Emmeline paused, for a moment, in a little knot of trees near the town.
Cassy was dressed after the manner of the Creole Spanish ladies, wholly in black. A small black bonnet on her head, covered by a veil thick with embroidery, concealed her face. It had been agreed that, in their escape, she was to personate the character of a Creole lady, and Emmeline that of her servant.
Brought up, from early life, in connection with the highest society, the language, movements and air of Cassy, were all in agreement with this idea; and she had still enough remaining with her, of a once splendid wardrobe, and sets of jewels, to enable her to personate the thing to advantage.
She stopped in the outskirts of the town, where she had noticed trunks for sale, and purchased a handsome one. This she requested the man to send along with her. And, accordingly, thus escorted by a boy wheeling her trunk, and Emmeline behind her, carrying her carpet-bag and sundry bundles, she made her appearance at the small tavern, like a lady of consideration.
The first person that struck her, after her arrival, was George Shelby, who was staying there, awaiting the next boat.
Towards evening, a boat arrived, and George handed Cassy aboard, with the politeness of a Kentuckian, and exerted himself to provide her with a good state-room.
Cassy kept her room and bed, on pretext of illness, during the whole time they were on Red River; and was waited on, with obsequious devotion, by her attendant.
When they arrived at the Mississippi river, George,
having learned that the course of the strange lady was upward, like his own, proposed to take a state-room for her on the same boat with himself, and the whole party was transferred to the good steamer Cincinnati.
From the moment that George got the first glimpse of her face, he was troubled with one of those fleeting and indefinite likenesses, which almost everybody can remember, and has been, at times perplexed with. He could not keep himself from looking at her, and watching her perpetually.
Cassy became uneasy, and finally resolved to throw herself entirely on his generosity, and intrusted him with her whole history.
George was heartily disposed to sympathize with her, and assured her that he would do all in his power to protect her.
The next state-room to Cassy's was occupied by a French lady, named De Thoux, who was accompanied by a fine little daughter, a child of some twelve summers.
One day, hearing that George was from Kentucky, she asked him if he knew a man by the name of Harris. "There is an old fellow, of that name, lives not far from my father's place," said George.
"Did you ever know of his having a mulatto boy, named George?"
"O, certainly,—George Harris,—I know him well; he married a servant of my mother's, but has escaped, now, to Canada."
"He has?" said Madame de Thoux, quickly. "Thank God!"
George looked a surprised inquiry, but said nothing.
Madame de Thoux leaned her head on her hand, and burst into tears.
"He is my brother," she said.
"Madame!" said George, with a strong accent of surprise.
"Yes," said Madame de Thoux, lifting her head, proudly; and wiping her tears; "Mr. Shelby, George Harris is my brother!"
"I am perfectly astonished," said George.
"I was sold to the South when he was a boy," said she. "I was bought by a good and generous man. He took me with him to the West Indies, set me free, and married me. It is but lately that he died; and I was coming up to Kentucky, to see if I could find and redeem my brother."
"I have heard him speak of a sister Emily, that was sold South," said George.
"Yes, indeed! I am the one," said Madame de Thoux "tell me what sort of a——"
"A very fine young man," said George, "notwithstanding the curse of slavery that lay on him. He sustained a first rate character, both for intelligence and principle. I know, you see," he said; "because he married in our family."
"What sort of a girl:" said Madame de Thoux, eagerly. "A treasure," said George; "a beautiful, intelligent. amiable girl. Very pious. My mother had brought her up, and trained her as carefully, almost, as a daughter. She could read and write, embroider and sew, beautifully; and was a beautiful singer."
"Was she born in your house?" said Madame de Thoux.
"No. Father bought her once, in one of his trips to
New Orleans, and brought her up as a present to mother. She was about eight or nine years old, then. Father would never tell mother what he gave for her; but, the other day, in looking over his old papers, we came across the bill of sale. He paid an extravagant sum for her, to be sure. I suppose, on account of her extraordinary beauty."
George sat with his back to Cassy, and did not see the absorbed expression of her countenance, as he was giving these details.
At this point in the story, she touched his arm, and, with a face perfectly white with interest, said, "Do you know the names of the people he bought her of?"
"A man of the name of Simmons, I think, was the principal in the transaction. At least, I think that was the name on the bill of sale."
"O, my God!" said Cassy, and fell insensible on the floor of the cabin.
CHAPTER XLIII. RESULTS.
THE rest of our story is soon told. George Shelby sent to Cassy the bill of sale of Eliza; whose date and name all corresponded with her own knowledge of facts, and left no doubt upon her mind as to the identity of her child. It remained now only for her to trace out the path of the fugitives.
Madame de Thoux and she, thus drawn together by the singular coincidence of their fortunes, proceeded immediately to Canada, and began a tour of inquiry among the stations, where the numerous fugitives from slavery are located. At Amberstberg they found the missionary with whom George and Eliza had taken shelter, on their first arrival in Canada; and through him were enabled to trace the family to Montreal.
George and Eliza had now been five years free. George had found constant occupation in the shop of a worthy machinist, where he had been earning a competent support for his family, which, in the meantime, had been increased by the addition of another daughter.
Little Harry—a fine bright boy—had been put to a good school, and was making rapid proficiency in knowledge.
The worthy pastor of the station, in Amherstberg, where George had first landed, was so much interested in the statements of Madame de Thoux and Cassy, that he yielded to the solicitations of the former, to accompany them to Montreal, in their search.
The scene now changes to a small, neat tenement, in the outskirts of Montreal.
"Come, George," said Eliza, "you've been gone all day. Do put down that book, and let's talk, while I'm getting tea,—do."
And little Eliza seconds the effort, by toddling up to her father, and trying to pull the book out of his hand.
"O, you little witch!" says George, yielding.
"That's right," says Eliza, as she begins to cut a loaf of bread.
"Harry, my boy, how did you come on in that sum to-day?" says George, as he laid his hand on his son's head.
"I did it, every bit of it, myself, father; and nobody helped me!"
"That's right," says his father; "depend on yourself, my son. You have a better chance than ever your poor father had."
At this moment, there is a rap at the door; and Eliza goes and opens it. The delighted—"Why!—this you?"—calls up her husband; and the good pastor of Amherstberg is welcomed. There are two women with him, and Eliza asks them to sit down.
The honest pastor had arranged a little programme for the occasion
and had prepared his speech, but Madame de Thoux upset the whole
plan, by throwing her arms
around George's neck, and letting all out at once, saying, "O, George! don't you know me? I'm your sister Emily."
Cassy had seated herself more composedly and would have carried on her part very well, had not little Eliza suddenly appeared before her in exact shape and form, every outline and curl, just as her daughter was when she saw her last. The little thing peered up in her face; and Cassy caught her up in her arms, pressed her to her bosom, saying, what at the moment she really believed; "Darling, I'm your mother!"
The good pastor, at last, succeeded in getting everybody quiet, and delivering the speech with which he had intended to open the exercises; and then they knelt together, and the good man prayed.
In two or three days, such a change has passed over Cassy, that our readers would scarcely know her. The little one was a bond between mother and daughter, and Eliza's steady, consistent piety made her a proper guide for the shattered and wearied mind of her mother. Cassy yielded at once, and with her whole soul, to every good influence, and became a devout and tender Christian.
After a day or two, Madame de Thoux told her brother more particularly of her affairs. The death of her husband had left her an ample fortune, which she generously offered to share with the family. When she asked George what way she could best apply it for him, lie answered, "Give me an education, Emily; that has always been my heart's desire. Then, I can do all the rest."
On mature deliberation, it was decided that the whole family should go, for some years, to France; whither they sailed, carrying Emmeline with them.
The good looks of the latter won the affection of the first mate of the vessel; and, shortly after entering the port, she became his wife.
George remained four rears at a French university, and, applying himself with an unintermitted zeal, obtained a very thorough education.
Political troubles in France, at last, led the family again to seek an asylum in this country.
A little later, George, with his wife, children, sister and mother, embarked for Africa, and finally settled in Liberia, where he became a teacher of Christianity. Some inquiries set on foot by Madame de Thoux resulted in the discovery of Cassy's son. Being a young man of energy, he had escaped, some years before his mother, and had been received and educated by friends of the oppressed in the North. He, too, sailed for Africa, and eventually joined his mother and sister.
Miss Ophelia took Topsy home to Vermont with her, and the child rapidly grew in favor with the family and neighborhood. At the age of womanhood she became a member of the Christian church in the place; and showed so much intelligence, activity and zeal, and desire to do good in the world, that she was at last sent as a missionary to one of the stations in Africa.
CHAPTER XLIV. THE LIBERATOR.
GEORGE SHELBY had written to his mother stating the day that she might expect him home. Of the death scene of his old friend he had not the heart to write.
Mrs. Shelby was seated in her comfortable parlor, where a cheerful fire was dispelling the chill of the late autumn evening. A supper-table, glittering with plate and cut glass, was set out, on whose arrangements our former friend, old Chloe, was presiding.
Arrayed in a new calico dress, with clean, white apron. and high, well-starched turban, her black polished face glowing with satisfaction, she lingered, with needless punctiliousness, around the arrangements of the table, merely as an excuse for talking a little to her mistress.
"Laws, now! won't it look natural to him?" she said. "Thar,—I set his plate just whar be likes it,—round by the fire. Mas'r George allers wants de warm seat. O, go way!—why didn't Sally get out de best tea-pot,—de little new one, Mas'r George got for Missis, Christmas? I'll have it out! And Missis has heard from Mas'r George?" she said, inquiringly.
"Yes, Chloe, but only a line, just to say he would be home to-night, if he could; that's all."
"Didn't say nothin' 'bout my old man, s'pose?" said Chloe, still fidgeting with the tea-cups.
"No, he didn't. He did not speak of anything, Chloe. He said he would tell all, when he got home."
"Jes like Mas'r George,—he's allers so force for tellin' everything hisself. I allers minded dat ar in Mas'r George. Don't see, for my part, how white people gen'lly can bar to hey to write things much as they do, writin' 's such slow, oneasy kind o' work."
Mrs. Shelby smiled.
"I'm a thinkin' my old man won't know de boys and de baby. Lor'! she's de biggest gal, now,—good she is, too, and peart, Polly is. She's out to the house, now, watchin' de hoe-cake. I's got jist de very pattern my old man liked so much, a bakin'. Jist sich as I gin him the mornin' he was took off. Lord bless us! how I felt, dat ar morning!"
Mrs. Shelby sighed, and felt a heavy weight on her heart, at this allusion. She had felt uneasy, ever since she received her son's letter, lest something should prove to be hidden behind the veil of silence which lie had drawn.
"Missis has got dem bills?" said Chloe, anxiously.
"Cause I wants to show my old man dem very bills de perfectioner
gave me. 'And,' says he, 'Chloe, I wish you'd stay longer.' 'Thank
you, Mas'r,' says I, 'I would, only my old man's coming home, and
do without me no longer.' There 's jist what I tolled him. Berry nice man, dat Mas'r Jones was."
Chloe had pertinaciously insisted that the very bills in which her wages had been paid should be preserved, to show to her husband, in memorial of her capability. And Mrs. Shelby had readily consented to humor her in the request.
"He won't know Polly,—my old man won't. Laws, it's five year since they tuck him! She was a baby den,—couldn't but jist stand. Remember how tickled be used to be, cause she would keep a fallin' over, when she sot out to walk. Laws a me!"
The rattling of wheels now was heard.
"Mas'r George!" said Aunt Chloe, starting to the window.
Mrs. Shelby ran to the entry door, and was folded in the arms of her son. Aunt Chloe stood anxiously straining her eves out into the darkness.
"O, poor Aunt Chloe!" said George, stopping compassionately, and taking her hard, black hand between both his; "I'd have given all my fortune to have brought him with me, but he's gone to a better country."
There was a passionate exclamation from Mrs. Shelby. but Aunt Chloe said nothing.
The party entered the supper-room. The money, of which Chloe was so proud, was still lying on the table.
"Thar," said she, gathering it up, and holding it, with a trembling hand, to her mistress, "don't never want to see nor hear on't again. Jist as I knew't would be,—sold, and murdered on dem ar' old plantations!"
Chloe turned, and was walking proudly out of the room.
Mrs. Shelby followed her softly, and took one of her hands, drew her down into a chair, and sat down by her.
"My poor, good Chloe!" said she.
Chloe leaned her head on her mistress' shoulder, and sobbed out, "O Missis! 'scuse me, my heart's broke,—dat's all!"
"I know it is," said Mrs. Shelby, as her tears fell fast; "and I cannot heal it, but Jesus can. He healeth the broken hearted, and bindeth up their wounds."
There was silence for some time, and all wept together. At last,
George, sitting down beside the mourner, took her
hand, and, with simple pathos, repeated the triumphant scene of her husband's death, and his last message of love.
About a month after this, one morning, all the servants of the Shelby estate were convened together in the great hall that ran through the house, to hear a few words from their young master.
To the surprise of all, he appeared among them with a bundle of papers in his hand, containing a certificate of freedom to every one on the place, which he read successively, and presented, amid the sobs and tears and shouts of all present.
Many, however, pressed around him, earnestly begging him not to send them away; and, with anxious faces, tendering back their free papers.
"We don't want to be no freer than we are. We's allers had all we wanted. We don't want to leave de ole place, and Mas'r and Missis, and de rest!"
"My good friends," said George, as soon as he could get a silence,
"there'll be no need for you to leave me. The place wants as many
hands to work it as it did before. We need the same about the house
that we did before. But you are now free men and free women. I shall
pay you wages for your work, such as we shall agree on. The advantage
is, that in case of my getting in debt, or dying—things that might
happen,—you cannot now be taken up and sold. I expect to carry on
the estate, and to teach you what, perhaps, it will take you some time
to learn,—how to use the rights I give you as free men and women. I
expect you to be good, and willing to learn; and I trust
in God that I shall be faithful, and willing to teach. And now, my friends, look up, and thank God for the blessing, of freedom."
An aged, patriarchal negro, who had grown gray and blind on the estate, now rose, and lifting his trembling hand, said, "Let us give thanks unto the Lord!" As all kneeled by one consent, a more touching and hearty Te Deum never ascended to heaven, though borne on the peal of organ, bell and cannon, than came from that honest old heart.
"One thing more," said George, as he stopped the congratulations of the throng; "you all remember our good old Uncle Tom?"
George here gave a short narration of the scene of his death, and of his loving farewell to all on the place, and added,
"It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when You rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see Uncle Tom's Cabin; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was."