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


  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.