UTC
The Christian Slave
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Boston: Phillips, Sampson, 1855

SCENE VI.—New Orleans. A Parlor in -- ST. CLARE'S House.

Enter ST. CLARE and TOPSY.

St. Clare.

  Come down here, cousin; I 've something to show you.

Enter MISS OPHELIA, sewing in hand.

Ophelia.

  What is it?


St. Clare.

  I 've made a purchase for your department—see here.


Oph.

  Augustine, what in the world did you bring that thing here for?


St. C.

  For you to educate, to be sure, and train in the way she should go. I thought she was rather a funny specimen in the Jim Crow line. Here, Topsy, this is your new mistress. I 'm going to give you up to here; see, how, that you behave yourself.


Topsy.

  Yes, mas'r.


St. C.

  You 're going to be good, Topsy, you understand.


Top.

  O, yes, mas'r!


Oph.

  Now, Augustine, what upon earth is this for? Your house is so full of these little plagues, now, that a body can't set their feet


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down without treading on 'em. I get up in the morning, and find one asleep behind the door, and see one black head poking out from under the table, one lying on the door-mat; and they are mopping, and mowing, and grinning between all the railings, and tumbling over the kitchen floor! What on earth did you want to bring this one for?


St. C.

  For you to educate—did n't I tell you? You 're always preaching about educating. I thought I would make you a present of a fresh-caught specimen, and let you try your hand on her, and bring her up in the way she should go.


Oph.

  I don't want her, I am sure; I have more to do with 'em now than I want to.


St. C.

  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.


Oph.

  Augustine, you know I did n't think of it in that light. Well, it might be a real missionary work. But I really did n't see the need of buying this one—there are enough now, in your house, to take all my time and skill.


St. C.

  Well, then, Cousin, 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. Try, now, and give her a good orthodox New England bringing up, and see what it 'll make of her. You know I have n't any gift that way; but I 'd like you to try.


Oph.

  Well, I 'll do what I can. Come here, Topsy. How old are you?


Topsy.

  Dun no, missis.


Oph.

  Don't know how old you are? Did n't anybody ever tell you? Who was your mother?


Top.

  Never had none!


Oph.

  Never had any mother? What do you mean? Where was you born?


Top.

  Never was born!


Oph.

  You must n't answer me in that way, child; I 'm not playing with you. Tell me where you were born, and who your father and mother were.


Top.

  Never was born; 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 of us.

Enter JANE, DINAH, and ROSA.

Jane.

  Laws, missis, there 's heaps of 'em! Speculators buys 'em up cheap, when they 's little, and gets 'em raised for market.


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Oph.

  How long have you lived with your master and mistress?


Top.

  Dun no, missis.


Oph.

  Is it a year, or more, or less?


Top.

  Dun no, missis.


Jane.

  Laws, missis, those low negroes, they can't tell; they don't know anything about time; they don't know what a year is; they don't know their own ages.


Oph.

  Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?


Top.

   [Grins.]


Oph.

  Do you know who made you?


Top.

  Nobody, as I knows on. I 'spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me.


Oph.

  Do you know how to sew?


Top.

  No, missis.


Oph.

  What can you do? What did you do for your master and mistress?


Top.

  Fetch water, and wash the dishes, and rub knives, and wait on folks.


Oph.

  Were they good to you?


Top.

  'Spect they was.


Dinah. [Lifting up both hands.]

  Good Lor, what a limb! What on 'arth Mas'r St. Care want to bring on dese yer low nigger young 'uns here for? Wont have her round under my feet, I know.


Oph.

  Well, go to your work, all of you. [Exeunt JANE, DINAH, and ROSA.] Come, Topsy, to my room.

[Exeunt.]