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


  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.