Uncle Tom's Cabin
Altemus' Young People's Library
Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1900


  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. After


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!