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.