{tocify}

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Chapter

Book

first_page
play_arrow
last_page
00:00
00:00
volume_down_alt volume_up


CHAPTER VI.
Discovery

Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, after their protracted discussion of the night before, did not readily sink to repose, and, in consequence, slept somewhat later than usual, the ensuing morning.

“I wonder what keeps Eliza,” said Mrs. Shelby, after giving her bell repeated pulls, to no purpose.

Mr. Shelby was standing before his dressing-glass, sharpening his razor; and just then the door opened, and a colored boy entered, with his shaving-water.

“Andy,” said his mistress, “step to Eliza’s door, and tell her I have rung for her three times. Poor thing!” she added, to herself, with a sigh.

Andy soon returned, with eyes very wide in astonishment.

“Lor, Missis! Lizy’s drawers is all open, and her things all lying every which way; and I believe she’s just done clared out!”

The truth flashed upon Mr. Shelby and his wife at the same moment. He exclaimed,

“Then she suspected it, and she’s off!”

“The Lord be thanked!” said Mrs. Shelby. “I trust she is.”

“Wife, you talk like a fool! Really, it will be something pretty awkward for me, if she is. Haley saw that I hesitated about selling this child, and he’ll think I connived at it, to get him out of the way. It touches my honor!” And Mr. Shelby left the room hastily.

There was great running and ejaculating, and opening and shutting of doors, and appearance of faces in all shades of color in different places, for about a quarter of an hour. One person only, who might have shed some light on the matter, was entirely silent, and that was the head cook, Aunt Chloe. Silently, and with a heavy cloud settled down over her once joyous face, she proceeded making out her breakfast biscuits, as if she heard and saw nothing of the excitement around her.

Very soon, about a dozen young imps were roosting, like so many crows, on the verandah railings, each one determined to be the first one to apprize the strange Mas’r of his ill luck.

“He’ll be rael mad, I’ll be bound,” said Andy.

“Won’t he swar!” said little black Jake.

“Yes, for he does swar,” said woolly-headed Mandy. “I hearn him yesterday, at dinner. I hearn all about it then, ’cause I got into the closet where Missis keeps the great jugs, and I hearn every word.” And Mandy, who had never in her life thought of the meaning of a word she had heard, more than a black cat, now took airs of superior wisdom, and strutted about, forgetting to state that, though actually coiled up among the jugs at the time specified, she had been fast asleep all the time.

When, at last, Haley appeared, booted and spurred, he was saluted with the bad tidings on every hand. The young imps on the verandah were not disappointed in their hope of hearing him “swar,” which he did with a fluency and fervency which delighted them all amazingly, as they ducked and dodged hither and thither, to be out of the reach of his riding-whip; and, all whooping off together, they tumbled, in a pile of immeasurable giggle, on the withered turf under the verandah, where they kicked up their heels and shouted to their full satisfaction.

“If I had the little devils!” muttered Haley, between his teeth.

“But you ha’nt got ’em, though!” said Andy, with a triumphant flourish, and making a string of indescribable mouths at the unfortunate trader’s back, when he was fairly beyond hearing.

“I say now, Shelby, this yer ’s a most extro’rnary business!” said Haley, as he abruptly entered the parlor. “It seems that gal ’s off, with her young un.”

“Mr. Haley, Mrs. Shelby is present,” said Mr. Shelby.

“I beg pardon, ma’am,” said Haley, bowing slightly, with a still lowering brow; “but still I say, as I said before, this yer’s a sing’lar report. Is it true, sir?”

“Sir,” said Mr. Shelby, “if you wish to communicate with me, you must observe something of the decorum of a gentleman. Andy, take Mr. Haley’s hat and riding-whip. Take a seat, sir. Yes, sir; I regret to say that the young woman, excited by overhearing, or having reported to her, something of this business, has taken her child in the night, and made off.”

“I did expect fair dealing in this matter, I confess,” said Haley.

“Well, sir,” said Mr. Shelby, turning sharply round upon him, “what am I to understand by that remark? If any man calls my honor in question, I have but one answer for him.”

The trader cowered at this, and in a somewhat lower tone said that “it was plaguy hard on a fellow, that had made a fair bargain, to be gulled that way.”

“Mr. Haley,” said Mr. Shelby, “if I did not think you had some cause for disappointment, I should not have borne from you the rude and unceremonious style of your entrance into my parlor this morning. I say thus much, however, since appearances call for it, that I shall allow of no insinuations cast upon me, as if I were at all partner to any unfairness in this matter. Moreover, I shall feel bound to give you every assistance, in the use of horses, servants, &c., in the recovery of your property. So, in short, Haley,” said he, suddenly dropping from the tone of dignified coolness to his ordinary one of easy frankness, “the best way for you is to keep good-natured and eat some breakfast, and we will then see what is to be done.”

Mrs. Shelby now rose, and said her engagements would prevent her being at the breakfast-table that morning; and, deputing a very respectable mulatto woman to attend to the gentlemen’s coffee at the side-board, she left the room.

“Old lady don’t like your humble servant, over and above,” said Haley, with an uneasy effort to be very familiar.

“I am not accustomed to hear my wife spoken of with such freedom,” said Mr. Shelby, dryly.

“Beg pardon; of course, only a joke, you know,” said Haley, forcing a laugh.

“Some jokes are less agreeable than others,” rejoined Shelby.

“Devilish free, now I’ve signed those papers, cuss him!” muttered Haley to himself; “quite grand, since yesterday!”

Never did fall of any prime minister at court occasion wider surges of sensation than the report of Tom’s fate among his compeers on the place. It was the topic in every mouth, everywhere; and nothing was done in the house or in the field, but to discuss its probable results. Eliza’s flight—an unprecedented event on the place—was also a great accessory in stimulating the general excitement.

Black Sam, as he was commonly called, from his being about three shades blacker than any other son of ebony on the place, was revolving the matter profoundly in all its phases and bearings, with a comprehensiveness of vision and a strict lookout to his own personal well-being, that would have done credit to any white patriot in Washington.

“It’s an ill wind dat blow nowhar,—dat ar a fact,” said Sam, sententiously, giving an additional hoist to his pantaloons, and adroitly substituting a long nail in place of a missing suspender-button, with which effort of mechanical genius he seemed highly delighted.

“Yes, it’s an ill wind blows nowhar,” he repeated. “Now, dar, Tom’s down—wal, course der’s room for some nigger to be up—and why not dis nigger?—dat’s de idee. Tom, a ridin’ round de country—boots blacked—pass in his pocket—all grand as Cuffee—but who he? Now, why shouldn’t Sam?—dat’s what I want to know.”

“Halloo, Sam—O Sam! Mas’r wants you to cotch Bill and Jerry,” said Andy, cutting short Sam’s soliloquy.

“High! what’s afoot now, young un?”

“Why, you don’t know, I s’pose, that Lizy’s cut stick, and clared out, with her young un?”

“You teach your granny!” said Sam, with infinite contempt; “knowed it a heap sight sooner than you did; this nigger an’t so green, now!”

“Well, anyhow, Mas’r wants Bill and Jerry geared right up; and you and I ’s to go with Mas’r Haley, to look arter her.”

“Good, now! dat’s de time o’ day!” said Sam. “It’s Sam dat’s called for in dese yer times. He’s de nigger. See if I don’t cotch her, now; Mas’r’ll see what Sam can do!”

“Ah! but, Sam,” said Andy, “you’d better think twice; for Missis don’t want her cotched, and she’ll be in yer wool.”

“High!” said Sam, opening his eyes. “How you know dat?”

“Heard her say so, my own self, dis blessed mornin’, when I bring in Mas’r’s shaving-water. She sent me to see why Lizy didn’t come to dress her; and when I telled her she was off, she jest ris up, and ses she, ‘The Lord be praised;’ and Mas’r, he seemed rael mad, and ses he, ‘Wife, you talk like a fool.’ But Lor! she’ll bring him to! I knows well enough how that’ll be,—it’s allers best to stand Missis’ side the fence, now I tell yer.”

Black Sam, upon this, scratched his woolly pate, which, if it did not contain very profound wisdom, still contained a great deal of a particular species much in demand among politicians of all complexions and countries, and vulgarly denominated “knowing which side the bread is buttered;” so, stopping with grave consideration, he again gave a hitch to his pantaloons, which was his regularly organized method of assisting his mental perplexities.

“Der an’t no saying’—never—‘bout no kind o’ thing in dis yer world,” he said, at last. Sam spoke like a philosopher, emphasizing this—as if he had had a large experience in different sorts of worlds, and therefore had come to his conclusions advisedly.

“Now, sartin I’d a said that Missis would a scoured the varsal world after Lizy,” added Sam, thoughtfully.

“So she would,” said Andy; “but can’t ye see through a ladder, ye black nigger? Missis don’t want dis yer Mas’r Haley to get Lizy’s boy; dat’s de go!”

“High!” said Sam, with an indescribable intonation, known only to those who have heard it among the negroes.

“And I’ll tell yer more ’n all,” said Andy; “I specs you’d better be making tracks for dem hosses,—mighty sudden, too,—-for I hearn Missis ’quirin’ arter yer,—so you’ve stood foolin’ long enough.”

Sam, upon this, began to bestir himself in real earnest, and after a while appeared, bearing down gloriously towards the house, with Bill and Jerry in a full canter, and adroitly throwing himself off before they had any idea of stopping, he brought them up alongside of the horse-post like a tornado. Haley’s horse, which was a skittish young colt, winced, and bounced, and pulled hard at his halter.

“Ho, ho!” said Sam, “skeery, ar ye?” and his black visage lighted up with a curious, mischievous gleam. “I’ll fix ye now!” said he.

There was a large beech-tree overshadowing the place, and the small, sharp, triangular beech-nuts lay scattered thickly on the ground. With one of these in his fingers, Sam approached the colt, stroked and patted, and seemed apparently busy in soothing his agitation. On pretence of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly slipped under it the sharp little nut, in such a manner that the least weight brought upon the saddle would annoy the nervous sensibilities of the animal, without leaving any perceptible graze or wound.

“Dar!” he said, rolling his eyes with an approving grin; “me fix ’em!”

At this moment Mrs. Shelby appeared on the balcony, beckoning to him. Sam approached with as good a determination to pay court as did ever suitor after a vacant place at St. James’ or Washington.

“Why have you been loitering so, Sam? I sent Andy to tell you to hurry.”

“Lord bless you, Missis!” said Sam, “horses won’t be cotched all in a minit; they’d done clared out way down to the south pasture, and the Lord knows whar!”

“Sam, how often must I tell you not to say ‘Lord bless you, and the Lord knows,’ and such things? It’s wicked.”

“O, Lord bless my soul! I done forgot, Missis! I won’t say nothing of de sort no more.”

“Why, Sam, you just have said it again.”

“Did I? O, Lord! I mean—I didn’t go fur to say it.”

“You must be careful, Sam.”

“Just let me get my breath, Missis, and I’ll start fair. I’ll be bery careful.”

“Well, Sam, you are to go with Mr. Haley, to show him the road, and help him. Be careful of the horses, Sam; you know Jerry was a little lame last week; don’t ride them too fast.”

Mrs. Shelby spoke the last words with a low voice, and strong emphasis.

“Let dis child alone for dat!” said Sam, rolling up his eyes with a volume of meaning. “Lord knows! High! Didn’t say dat!” said he, suddenly catching his breath, with a ludicrous flourish of apprehension, which made his mistress laugh, spite of herself. “Yes, Missis, I’ll look out for de hosses!”

“Now, Andy,” said Sam, returning to his stand under the beech-trees, “you see I wouldn’t be ’t all surprised if dat ar gen’lman’s crittur should gib a fling, by and by, when he comes to be a gettin’ up. You know, Andy, critturs will do such things;” and therewith Sam poked Andy in the side, in a highly suggestive manner.

“High!” said Andy, with an air of instant appreciation.

“Yes, you see, Andy, Missis wants to make time,—dat ar’s clar to der most or’nary ’bserver. I jis make a little for her. Now, you see, get all dese yer hosses loose, caperin’ permiscus round dis yer lot and down to de wood dar, and I spec Mas’r won’t be off in a hurry.”

Andy grinned.

“Yer see,” said Sam, “yer see, Andy, if any such thing should happen as that Mas’r Haley’s horse should begin to act contrary, and cut up, you and I jist lets go of our’n to help him, and we’ll help him—oh yes!” And Sam and Andy laid their heads back on their shoulders, and broke into a low, immoderate laugh, snapping their fingers and flourishing their heels with exquisite delight.

At this instant, Haley appeared on the verandah. Somewhat mollified by certain cups of very good coffee, he came out smiling and talking, in tolerably restored humor. Sam and Andy, clawing for certain fragmentary palm-leaves, which they were in the habit of considering as hats, flew to the horseposts, to be ready to “help Mas’r.”

Sam’s palm-leaf had been ingeniously disentangled from all pretensions to braid, as respects its brim; and the slivers starting apart, and standing upright, gave it a blazing air of freedom and defiance, quite equal to that of any Fejee chief; while the whole brim of Andy’s being departed bodily, he rapped the crown on his head with a dexterous thump, and looked about well pleased, as if to say, “Who says I haven’t got a hat?”

“Well, boys,” said Haley, “look alive now; we must lose no time.”

“Not a bit of him, Mas’r!” said Sam, putting Haley’s rein in his hand, and holding his stirrup, while Andy was untying the other two horses.

The instant Haley touched the saddle, the mettlesome creature bounded from the earth with a sudden spring, that threw his master sprawling, some feet off, on the soft, dry turf. Sam, with frantic ejaculations, made a dive at the reins, but only succeeded in brushing the blazing palm-leaf afore-named into the horse’s eyes, which by no means tended to allay the confusion of his nerves. So, with great vehemence, he overturned Sam, and, giving two or three contemptuous snorts, flourished his heels vigorously in the air, and was soon prancing away towards the lower end of the lawn, followed by Bill and Jerry, whom Andy had not failed to let loose, according to contract, speeding them off with various direful ejaculations. And now ensued a miscellaneous scene of confusion. Sam and Andy ran and shouted,—dogs barked here and there,—and Mike, Mose, Mandy, Fanny, and all the smaller specimens on the place, both male and female, raced, clapped hands, whooped, and shouted, with outrageous officiousness and untiring zeal.

Haley’s horse, which was a white one, and very fleet and spirited, appeared to enter into the spirit of the scene with great gusto; and having for his coursing ground a lawn of nearly half a mile in extent, gently sloping down on every side into indefinite woodland, he appeared to take infinite delight in seeing how near he could allow his pursuers to approach him, and then, when within a hand’s breadth, whisk off with a start and a snort, like a mischievous beast as he was and career far down into some alley of the wood-lot. Nothing was further from Sam’s mind than to have any one of the troop taken until such season as should seem to him most befitting,—and the exertions that he made were certainly most heroic. Like the sword of Coeur De Lion, which always blazed in the front and thickest of the battle, Sam’s palm-leaf was to be seen everywhere when there was the least danger that a horse could be caught; there he would bear down full tilt, shouting, “Now for it! cotch him! cotch him!” in a way that would set everything to indiscriminate rout in a moment.

Haley ran up and down, and cursed and swore and stamped miscellaneously. Mr. Shelby in vain tried to shout directions from the balcony, and Mrs. Shelby from her chamber window alternately laughed and wondered,—not without some inkling of what lay at the bottom of all this confusion.

At last, about twelve o’clock, Sam appeared triumphant, mounted on Jerry, with Haley’s horse by his side, reeking with sweat, but with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, showing that the spirit of freedom had not yet entirely subsided.

“He’s cotched!” he exclaimed, triumphantly. “If ’t hadn’t been for me, they might a bust themselves, all on ’em; but I cotched him!”

“You!” growled Haley, in no amiable mood. “If it hadn’t been for you, this never would have happened.”

“Lord bless us, Mas’r,” said Sam, in a tone of the deepest concern, “and me that has been racin’ and chasin’ till the sweat jest pours off me!”

“Well, well!” said Haley, “you’ve lost me near three hours, with your cursed nonsense. Now let’s be off, and have no more fooling.”

“Why, Mas’r,” said Sam, in a deprecating tone, “I believe you mean to kill us all clar, horses and all. Here we are all just ready to drop down, and the critters all in a reek of sweat. Why, Mas’r won’t think of startin’ on now till arter dinner. Mas’r’s hoss wants rubben down; see how he splashed hisself; and Jerry limps too; don’t think Missis would be willin’ to have us start dis yer way, no how. Lord bless you, Mas’r, we can ketch up, if we do stop. Lizy never was no great of a walker.”

Mrs. Shelby, who, greatly to her amusement, had overheard this conversation from the verandah, now resolved to do her part. She came forward, and, courteously expressing her concern for Haley’s accident, pressed him to stay to dinner, saying that the cook should bring it on the table immediately.

Thus, all things considered, Haley, with rather an equivocal grace, proceeded to the parlor, while Sam, rolling his eyes after him with unutterable meaning, proceeded gravely with the horses to the stable-yard.

“Did yer see him, Andy? did yer see him?” said Sam, when he had got fairly beyond the shelter of the barn, and fastened the horse to a post. “O, Lor, if it warn’t as good as a meetin’, now, to see him a dancin’ and kickin’ and swarin’ at us. Didn’t I hear him? Swar away, ole fellow (says I to myself ); will yer have yer hoss now, or wait till you cotch him? (says I). Lor, Andy, I think I can see him now.” And Sam and Andy leaned up against the barn and laughed to their hearts’ content.

“Yer oughter seen how mad he looked, when I brought the hoss up. Lord, he’d a killed me, if he durs’ to; and there I was a standin’ as innercent and as humble.”

“Lor, I seed you,” said Andy; “an’t you an old hoss, Sam?”

“Rather specks I am,” said Sam; “did yer see Missis up stars at the winder? I seed her laughin’.”

“I’m sure, I was racin’ so, I didn’t see nothing,” said Andy.

“Well, yer see,” said Sam, proceeding gravely to wash down Haley’s pony, “I ’se ’quired what yer may call a habit o’ bobservation, Andy. It’s a very ’portant habit, Andy; and I ’commend yer to be cultivatin’ it, now yer young. Hist up that hind foot, Andy. Yer see, Andy, it’s bobservation makes all de difference in niggers. Didn’t I see which way the wind blew dis yer mornin’? Didn’t I see what Missis wanted, though she never let on? Dat ar’s bobservation, Andy. I ’spects it’s what you may call a faculty. Faculties is different in different peoples, but cultivation of ’em goes a great way.”

“I guess if I hadn’t helped your bobservation dis mornin’, yer wouldn’t have seen your way so smart,” said Andy.

“Andy,” said Sam, “you’s a promisin’ child, der an’t no manner o’ doubt. I thinks lots of yer, Andy; and I don’t feel no ways ashamed to take idees from you. We oughtenter overlook nobody, Andy, cause the smartest on us gets tripped up sometimes. And so, Andy, let’s go up to the house now. I’ll be boun’ Missis’ll give us an uncommon good bite, dis yer time.”

CHAPTER VII.
The Mother’s Struggle

It is impossible to conceive of a human creature more wholly desolate and forlorn than Eliza, when she turned her footsteps from Uncle Tom’s cabin.

Her husband’s suffering and dangers, and the danger of her child, all blended in her mind, with a confused and stunning sense of the risk she was running, in leaving the only home she had ever known, and cutting loose from the protection of a friend whom she loved and revered. Then there was the parting from every familiar object,—the place where she had grown up, the trees under which she had played, the groves where she had walked many an evening in happier days, by the side of her young husband,—everything, as it lay in the clear, frosty starlight, seemed to speak reproachfully to her, and ask her whither could she go from a home like that?

But stronger than all was maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm of frenzy by the near approach of a fearful danger. Her boy was old enough to have walked by her side, and, in an indifferent case, she would only have led him by the hand; but now the bare thought of putting him out of her arms made her shudder, and she strained him to her bosom with a convulsive grasp, as she went rapidly forward.

The frosty ground creaked beneath her feet, and she trembled at the sound; every quaking leaf and fluttering shadow sent the blood backward to her heart, and quickened her footsteps. She wondered within herself at the strength that seemed to be come upon her; for she felt the weight of her boy as if it had been a feather, and every flutter of fear seemed to increase the supernatural power that bore her on, while from her pale lips burst forth, in frequent ejaculations, the prayer to a Friend above—“Lord, help! Lord, save me!”

If it were your Harry, mother, or your Willie, that were going to be torn from you by a brutal trader, tomorrow morning,—if you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were signed and delivered, and you had only from twelve o’clock till morning to make good your escape,—how fast could you walk? How many miles could you make in those few brief hours, with the darling at your bosom,—the little sleepy head on your shoulder,—the small, soft arms trustingly holding on to your neck?

For the child slept. At first, the novelty and alarm kept him waking; but his mother so hurriedly repressed every breath or sound, and so assured him that if he were only still she would certainly save him, that he clung quietly round her neck, only asking, as he found himself sinking to sleep,

“Mother, I don’t need to keep awake, do I?”

“No, my darling; sleep, if you want to.”

“But, mother, if I do get asleep, you won’t let him get me?”

“No! so may God help me!” said his mother, with a paler cheek, and a brighter light in her large dark eyes.

“You’re sure, an’t you, mother?”

“Yes, sure!” said the mother, in a voice that startled herself; for it seemed to her to come from a spirit within, that was no part of her; and the boy dropped his little weary head on her shoulder, and was soon asleep. How the touch of those warm arms, the gentle breathings that came in her neck, seemed to add fire and spirit to her movements! It seemed to her as if strength poured into her in electric streams, from every gentle touch and movement of the sleeping, confiding child. Sublime is the dominion of the mind over the body, that, for a time, can make flesh and nerve impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so that the weak become so mighty.

The boundaries of the farm, the grove, the wood-lot, passed by her dizzily, as she walked on; and still she went, leaving one familiar object after another, slacking not, pausing not, till reddening daylight found her many a long mile from all traces of any familiar objects upon the open highway.

She had often been, with her mistress, to visit some connections, in the little village of T——, not far from the Ohio river, and knew the road well. To go thither, to escape across the Ohio river, were the first hurried outlines of her plan of escape; beyond that, she could only hope in God.

When horses and vehicles began to move along the highway, with that alert perception peculiar to a state of excitement, and which seems to be a sort of inspiration, she became aware that her headlong pace and distracted air might bring on her remark and suspicion. She therefore put the boy on the ground, and, adjusting her dress and bonnet, she walked on at as rapid a pace as she thought consistent with the preservation of appearances. In her little bundle she had provided a store of cakes and apples, which she used as expedients for quickening the speed of the child, rolling the apple some yards before them, when the boy would run with all his might after it; and this ruse, often repeated, carried them over many a half-mile.

After a while, they came to a thick patch of woodland, through which murmured a clear brook. As the child complained of hunger and thirst, she climbed over the fence with him; and, sitting down behind a large rock which concealed them from the road, she gave him a breakfast out of her little package. The boy wondered and grieved that she could not eat; and when, putting his arms round her neck, he tried to wedge some of his cake into her mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in her throat would choke her.

“No, no, Harry darling! mother can’t eat till you are safe! We must go on—on—till we come to the river!” And she hurried again into the road, and again constrained herself to walk regularly and composedly forward.

She was many miles past any neighborhood where she was personally known. If she should chance to meet any who knew her, she reflected that the well-known kindness of the family would be of itself a blind to suspicion, as making it an unlikely supposition that she could be a fugitive. As she was also so white as not to be known as of colored lineage, without a critical survey, and her child was white also, it was much easier for her to pass on unsuspected.

On this presumption, she stopped at noon at a neat farmhouse, to rest herself, and buy some dinner for her child and self; for, as the danger decreased with the distance, the supernatural tension of the nervous system lessened, and she found herself both weary and hungry.

The good woman, kindly and gossipping, seemed rather pleased than otherwise with having somebody come in to talk with; and accepted, without examination, Eliza’s statement, that she “was going on a little piece, to spend a week with her friends,”—all which she hoped in her heart might prove strictly true.

An hour before sunset, she entered the village of T——, by the Ohio river, weary and foot-sore, but still strong in heart. Her first glance was at the river, which lay, like Jordan, between her and the Canaan of liberty on the other side.

It was now early spring, and the river was swollen and turbulent; great cakes of floating ice were swinging heavily to and fro in the turbid waters. Owing to the peculiar form of the shore on the Kentucky side, the land bending far out into the water, the ice had been lodged and detained in great quantities, and the narrow channel which swept round the bend was full of ice, piled one cake over another, thus forming a temporary barrier to the descending ice, which lodged, and formed a great, undulating raft, filling up the whole river, and extending almost to the Kentucky shore.

Eliza stood, for a moment, contemplating this unfavorable aspect of things, which she saw at once must prevent the usual ferry-boat from running, and then turned into a small public house on the bank, to make a few inquiries.

The hostess, who was busy in various fizzing and stewing operations over the fire, preparatory to the evening meal, stopped, with a fork in her hand, as Eliza’s sweet and plaintive voice arrested her.

“What is it?” she said.

“Isn’t there any ferry or boat, that takes people over to B——, now?” she said.

“No, indeed!” said the woman; “the boats has stopped running.”

Eliza’s look of dismay and disappointment struck the woman, and she said, inquiringly,

“May be you’re wanting to get over?—anybody sick? Ye seem mighty anxious?”

“I’ve got a child that’s very dangerous,” said Eliza. “I never heard of it till last night, and I’ve walked quite a piece today, in hopes to get to the ferry.”

“Well, now, that’s onlucky,” said the woman, whose motherly sympathies were much aroused; “I’m re’lly consarned for ye. Solomon!” she called, from the window, towards a small back building. A man, in leather apron and very dirty hands, appeared at the door.

“I say, Sol,” said the woman, “is that ar man going to tote them bar’ls over tonight?”

“He said he should try, if ’t was any way prudent,” said the man.

“There’s a man a piece down here, that’s going over with some truck this evening, if he durs’ to; he’ll be in here to supper tonight, so you’d better set down and wait. That’s a sweet little fellow,” added the woman, offering him a cake.

But the child, wholly exhausted, cried with weariness.

“Poor fellow! he isn’t used to walking, and I’ve hurried him on so,” said Eliza.

“Well, take him into this room,” said the woman, opening into a small bed-room, where stood a comfortable bed. Eliza laid the weary boy upon it, and held his hands in hers till he was fast asleep. For her there was no rest. As a fire in her bones, the thought of the pursuer urged her on; and she gazed with longing eyes on the sullen, surging waters that lay between her and liberty.

Here we must take our leave of her for the present, to follow the course of her pursuers.

Though Mrs. Shelby had promised that the dinner should be hurried on table, yet it was soon seen, as the thing has often been seen before, that it required more than one to make a bargain. So, although the order was fairly given out in Haley’s hearing, and carried to Aunt Chloe by at least half a dozen juvenile messengers, that dignitary only gave certain very gruff snorts, and tosses of her head, and went on with every operation in an unusually leisurely and circumstantial manner.

For some singular reason, an impression seemed to reign among the servants generally that Missis would not be particularly disobliged by delay; and it was wonderful what a number of counter accidents occurred constantly, to retard the course of things. One luckless wight contrived to upset the gravy; and then gravy had to be got up de novo, with due care and formality, Aunt Chloe watching and stirring with dogged precision, answering shortly, to all suggestions of haste, that she “warn’t a going to have raw gravy on the table, to help nobody’s catchings.” One tumbled down with the water, and had to go to the spring for more; and another precipitated the butter into the path of events; and there was from time to time giggling news brought into the kitchen that “Mas’r Haley was mighty oneasy, and that he couldn’t sit in his cheer no ways, but was a walkin’ and stalkin’ to the winders and through the porch.”

“Sarves him right!” said Aunt Chloe, indignantly. “He’ll get wus nor oneasy, one of these days, if he don’t mend his ways. His master’ll be sending for him, and then see how he’ll look!”

“He’ll go to torment, and no mistake,” said little Jake.

“He desarves it!” said Aunt Chloe, grimly; “he’s broke a many, many, many hearts,—I tell ye all!” she said, stopping, with a fork uplifted in her hands; “it’s like what Mas’r George reads in Ravelations,—souls a callin’ under the altar! and a callin’ on the Lord for vengeance on sich!—and by and by the Lord he’ll hear ’em—so he will!”

Aunt Chloe, who was much revered in the kitchen, was listened to with open mouth; and, the dinner being now fairly sent in, the whole kitchen was at leisure to gossip with her, and to listen to her remarks.

“Sich’ll be burnt up forever, and no mistake; won’t ther?” said Andy.

“I’d be glad to see it, I’ll be boun’,” said little Jake.

“Chil’en!” said a voice, that made them all start. It was Uncle Tom, who had come in, and stood listening to the conversation at the door.

“Chil’en!” he said, “I’m afeard you don’t know what ye’re sayin’. Forever is a dre’ful word, chil’en; it’s awful to think on ’t. You oughtenter wish that ar to any human crittur.”

“We wouldn’t to anybody but the soul-drivers,” said Andy; “nobody can help wishing it to them, they ’s so awful wicked.”

“Don’t natur herself kinder cry out on ’em?” said Aunt Chloe. “Don’t dey tear der suckin’ baby right off his mother’s breast, and sell him, and der little children as is crying and holding on by her clothes,—don’t dey pull ’em off and sells ’em? Don’t dey tear wife and husband apart?” said Aunt Chloe, beginning to cry, “when it’s jest takin’ the very life on ’em?—and all the while does they feel one bit, don’t dey drink and smoke, and take it oncommon easy? Lor, if the devil don’t get them, what’s he good for?” And Aunt Chloe covered her face with her checked apron, and began to sob in good earnest.

“Pray for them that ’spitefully use you, the good book says,” says Tom.

“Pray for ’em!” said Aunt Chloe; “Lor, it’s too tough! I can’t pray for ’em.”

“It’s natur, Chloe, and natur ’s strong,” said Tom, “but the Lord’s grace is stronger; besides, you oughter think what an awful state a poor crittur’s soul ’s in that’ll do them ar things,—you oughter thank God that you an’t like him, Chloe. I’m sure I’d rather be sold, ten thousand times over, than to have all that ar poor crittur’s got to answer for.”

“So ’d I, a heap,” said Jake. “Lor, shouldn’t we cotch it, Andy?”

Andy shrugged his shoulders, and gave an acquiescent whistle.

“I’m glad Mas’r didn’t go off this morning, as he looked to,” said Tom; “that ar hurt me more than sellin’, it did. Mebbe it might have been natural for him, but ’t would have come desp’t hard on me, as has known him from a baby; but I’ve seen Mas’r, and I begin ter feel sort o’ reconciled to the Lord’s will now. Mas’r couldn’t help hisself; he did right, but I’m feared things will be kinder goin’ to rack, when I’m gone Mas’r can’t be spected to be a pryin’ round everywhar, as I’ve done, a keepin’ up all the ends. The boys all means well, but they ’s powerful car’less. That ar troubles me.”

The bell here rang, and Tom was summoned to the parlor.

“Tom,” said his master, kindly, “I want you to notice that I give this gentleman bonds to forfeit a thousand dollars if you are not on the spot when he wants you; he’s going today to look after his other business, and you can have the day to yourself. Go anywhere you like, boy.”

“Thank you, Mas’r,” said Tom.

“And mind yourself,” said the trader, “and don’t come it over your master with any o’ yer nigger tricks; for I’ll take every cent out of him, if you an’t thar. If he’d hear to me, he wouldn’t trust any on ye—slippery as eels!”

“Mas’r,” said Tom,—and he stood very straight,—“I was jist eight years old when ole Missis put you into my arms, and you wasn’t a year old. ‘Thar,’ says she, ‘Tom, that’s to be your young Mas’r; take good care on him,’ says she. And now I jist ask you, Mas’r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you, ’specially since I was a Christian?”

Mr. Shelby was fairly overcome, and the tears rose to his eyes.

“My good boy,” said he, “the Lord knows you say but the truth; and if I was able to help it, all the world shouldn’t buy you.”

“And sure as I am a Christian woman,” said Mrs. Shelby, “you shall be redeemed as soon as I can any way bring together means. Sir,” she said to Haley, “take good account of who you sell him to, and let me know.”

“Lor, yes, for that matter,” said the trader, “I may bring him up in a year, not much the wuss for wear, and trade him back.”

“I’ll trade with you then, and make it for your advantage,” said Mrs. Shelby.

“Of course,” said the trader, “all ’s equal with me; li’ves trade ’em up as down, so I does a good business. All I want is a livin’, you know, ma’am; that’s all any on us wants, I, s’pose.”

Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt annoyed and degraded by the familiar impudence of the trader, and yet both saw the absolute necessity of putting a constraint on their feelings. The more hopelessly sordid and insensible he appeared, the greater became Mrs. Shelby’s dread of his succeeding in recapturing Eliza and her child, and of course the greater her motive for detaining him by every female artifice. She therefore graciously smiled, assented, chatted familiarly, and did all she could to make time pass imperceptibly.

At two o’clock Sam and Andy brought the horses up to the posts, apparently greatly refreshed and invigorated by the scamper of the morning.

Sam was there new oiled from dinner, with an abundance of zealous and ready officiousness. As Haley approached, he was boasting, in flourishing style, to Andy, of the evident and eminent success of the operation, now that he had “farly come to it.”

“Your master, I s’pose, don’t keep no dogs,” said Haley, thoughtfully, as he prepared to mount.

“Heaps on ’em,” said Sam, triumphantly; “thar’s Bruno—he’s a roarer! and, besides that, ’bout every nigger of us keeps a pup of some natur or uther.”

“Poh!” said Haley,—and he said something else, too, with regard to the said dogs, at which Sam muttered,

“I don’t see no use cussin’ on ’em, no way.”

“But your master don’t keep no dogs (I pretty much know he don’t) for trackin’ out niggers.”

Sam knew exactly what he meant, but he kept on a look of earnest and desperate simplicity.

“Our dogs all smells round considable sharp. I spect they’s the kind, though they han’t never had no practice. They ’s far dogs, though, at most anything, if you’d get ’em started. Here, Bruno,” he called, whistling to the lumbering Newfoundland, who came pitching tumultuously toward them.

“You go hang!” said Haley, getting up. “Come, tumble up now.”

Sam tumbled up accordingly, dexterously contriving to tickle Andy as he did so, which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh, greatly to Haley’s indignation, who made a cut at him with his riding-whip.

“I ’s ’stonished at yer, Andy,” said Sam, with awful gravity. “This yer’s a seris bisness, Andy. Yer mustn’t be a makin’ game. This yer an’t no way to help Mas’r.”

“I shall take the straight road to the river,” said Haley, decidedly, after they had come to the boundaries of the estate. “I know the way of all of ’em,—they makes tracks for the underground.”

“Sartin,” said Sam, “dat’s de idee. Mas’r Haley hits de thing right in de middle. Now, der’s two roads to de river,—de dirt road and der pike,—which Mas’r mean to take?”

Andy looked up innocently at Sam, surprised at hearing this new geographical fact, but instantly confirmed what he said, by a vehement reiteration.

“Cause,” said Sam, “I’d rather be ’clined to ’magine that Lizy ’d take de dirt road, bein’ it’s the least travelled.”

Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought up by this view of the case.

“If yer warn’t both on yer such cussed liars, now!” he said, contemplatively as he pondered a moment.

The pensive, reflective tone in which this was spoken appeared to amuse Andy prodigiously, and he drew a little behind, and shook so as apparently to run a great risk of failing off his horse, while Sam’s face was immovably composed into the most doleful gravity.

“Course,” said Sam, “Mas’r can do as he’d ruther, go de straight road, if Mas’r thinks best,—it’s all one to us. Now, when I study ’pon it, I think de straight road de best, deridedly.”

“She would naturally go a lonesome way,” said Haley, thinking aloud, and not minding Sam’s remark.

“Dar an’t no sayin’,” said Sam; “gals is pecular; they never does nothin’ ye thinks they will; mose gen’lly the contrary. Gals is nat’lly made contrary; and so, if you thinks they’ve gone one road, it is sartin you’d better go t’ other, and then you’ll be sure to find ’em. Now, my private ’pinion is, Lizy took der road; so I think we’d better take de straight one.”

This profound generic view of the female sex did not seem to dispose Haley particularly to the straight road, and he announced decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam when they should come to it.

“A little piece ahead,” said Sam, giving a wink to Andy with the eye which was on Andy’s side of the head; and he added, gravely, “but I’ve studded on de matter, and I’m quite clar we ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no way. It’s despit lonesome, and we might lose our way,—whar we’d come to, de Lord only knows.”

“Nevertheless,” said Haley, “I shall go that way.”

“Now I think on ’t, I think I hearn ’em tell that dat ar road was all fenced up and down by der creek, and thar, an’t it, Andy?”

Andy wasn’t certain; he’d only “hearn tell” about that road, but never been over it. In short, he was strictly noncommittal.

Haley, accustomed to strike the balance of probabilities between lies of greater or lesser magnitude, thought that it lay in favor of the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam’s part at first, and his confused attempts to dissuade him he set down to a desperate lying on second thoughts, as being unwilling to implicate Liza.

When, therefore, Sam indicated the road, Haley plunged briskly into it, followed by Sam and Andy.

Now, the road, in fact, was an old one, that had formerly been a thoroughfare to the river, but abandoned for many years after the laying of the new pike. It was open for about an hour’s ride, and after that it was cut across by various farms and fences. Sam knew this fact perfectly well,—indeed, the road had been so long closed up, that Andy had never heard of it. He therefore rode along with an air of dutiful submission, only groaning and vociferating occasionally that ’t was “desp’t rough, and bad for Jerry’s foot.”

“Now, I jest give yer warning,” said Haley, “I know yer; yer won’t get me to turn off this road, with all yer fussin’—so you shet up!”

“Mas’r will go his own way!” said Sam, with rueful submission, at the same time winking most portentously to Andy, whose delight was now very near the explosive point.

Sam was in wonderful spirits,—professed to keep a very brisk lookout,—at one time exclaiming that he saw “a gal’s bonnet” on the top of some distant eminence, or calling to Andy “if that thar wasn’t ’Lizy’ down in the hollow;” always making these exclamations in some rough or craggy part of the road, where the sudden quickening of speed was a special inconvenience to all parties concerned, and thus keeping Haley in a state of constant commotion.

After riding about an hour in this way, the whole party made a precipitate and tumultuous descent into a barn-yard belonging to a large farming establishment. Not a soul was in sight, all the hands being employed in the fields; but, as the barn stood conspicuously and plainly square across the road, it was evident that their journey in that direction had reached a decided finale.

“Wan’t dat ar what I telled Mas’r?” said Sam, with an air of injured innocence. “How does strange gentleman spect to know more about a country dan de natives born and raised?”

“You rascal!” said Haley, “you knew all about this.”

“Didn’t I tell yer I knowd, and yer wouldn’t believe me? I telled Mas’r ’t was all shet up, and fenced up, and I didn’t spect we could get through,—Andy heard me.”

It was all too true to be disputed, and the unlucky man had to pocket his wrath with the best grace he was able, and all three faced to the right about, and took up their line of march for the highway.

In consequence of all the various delays, it was about three-quarters of an hour after Eliza had laid her child to sleep in the village tavern that the party came riding into the same place. Eliza was standing by the window, looking out in another direction, when Sam’s quick eye caught a glimpse of her. Haley and Andy were two yards behind. At this crisis, Sam contrived to have his hat blown off, and uttered a loud and characteristic ejaculation, which startled her at once; she drew suddenly back; the whole train swept by the window, round to the front door.

A thousand lives seemed to be concentrated in that one moment to Eliza. Her room opened by a side door to the river. She caught her child, and sprang down the steps towards it. The trader caught a full glimpse of her just as she was disappearing down the bank; and throwing himself from his horse, and calling loudly on Sam and Andy, he was after her like a hound after a deer. In that dizzy moment her feet to her scarce seemed to touch the ground, and a moment brought her to the water’s edge. Right on behind they came; and, nerved with strength such as God gives only to the desperate, with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted sheer over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft of ice beyond. It was a desperate leap—impossible to anything but madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, and Andy, instinctively cried out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it.

The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to another and still another cake; stumbling—leaping—slipping—springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone—her stockings cut from her feet—while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing, felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side, and a man helping her up the bank.

“Yer a brave gal, now, whoever ye ar!” said the man, with an oath.

Eliza recognized the voice and face for a man who owned a farm not far from her old home.

“O, Mr. Symmes!—save me—do save me—do hide me!” said Elia.

“Why, what’s this?” said the man. “Why, if ’tan’t Shelby’s gal!”

“My child!—this boy!—he’d sold him! There is his Mas’r,” said she, pointing to the Kentucky shore. “O, Mr. Symmes, you’ve got a little boy!”

“So I have,” said the man, as he roughly, but kindly, drew her up the steep bank. “Besides, you’re a right brave gal. I like grit, wherever I see it.”

When they had gained the top of the bank, the man paused.

“I’d be glad to do something for ye,” said he; “but then there’s nowhar I could take ye. The best I can do is to tell ye to go thar,” said he, pointing to a large white house which stood by itself, off the main street of the village. “Go thar; they’re kind folks. Thar’s no kind o’ danger but they’ll help you,—they’re up to all that sort o’ thing.”

“The Lord bless you!” said Eliza, earnestly.

“No ’casion, no ’casion in the world,” said the man. “What I’ve done’s of no ’count.”

“And, oh, surely, sir, you won’t tell any one!”

“Go to thunder, gal! What do you take a feller for? In course not,” said the man. “Come, now, go along like a likely, sensible gal, as you are. You’ve arnt your liberty, and you shall have it, for all me.”

The woman folded her child to her bosom, and walked firmly and swiftly away. The man stood and looked after her.

“Shelby, now, mebbe won’t think this yer the most neighborly thing in the world; but what’s a feller to do? If he catches one of my gals in the same fix, he’s welcome to pay back. Somehow I never could see no kind o’ critter a strivin’ and pantin’, and trying to clar theirselves, with the dogs arter ’em and go agin ’em. Besides, I don’t see no kind of ’casion for me to be hunter and catcher for other folks, neither.”

So spoke this poor, heathenish Kentuckian, who had not been instructed in his constitutional relations, and consequently was betrayed into acting in a sort of Christianized manner, which, if he had been better situated and more enlightened, he would not have been left to do.

Haley had stood a perfectly amazed spectator of the scene, till Eliza had disappeared up the bank, when he turned a blank, inquiring look on Sam and Andy.

“That ar was a tolable fair stroke of business,” said Sam.

“The gal ’s got seven devils in her, I believe!” said Haley. “How like a wildcat she jumped!”

“Wal, now,” said Sam, scratching his head, “I hope Mas’r’ll ’scuse us trying dat ar road. Don’t think I feel spry enough for dat ar, no way!” and Sam gave a hoarse chuckle.

“You laugh!” said the trader, with a growl.

“Lord bless you, Mas’r, I couldn’t help it now,” said Sam, giving way to the long pent-up delight of his soul. “She looked so curi’s, a leapin’ and springin’—ice a crackin’—and only to hear her,—plump! ker chunk! ker splash! Spring! Lord! how she goes it!” and Sam and Andy laughed till the tears rolled down their cheeks.

“I’ll make ye laugh t’ other side yer mouths!” said the trader, laying about their heads with his riding-whip.

Both ducked, and ran shouting up the bank, and were on their horses before he was up.

“Good-evening, Mas’r!” said Sam, with much gravity. “I berry much spect Missis be anxious ’bout Jerry. Mas’r Haley won’t want us no longer. Missis wouldn’t hear of our ridin’ the critters over Lizy’s bridge tonight;” and, with a facetious poke into Andy’s ribs, he started off, followed by the latter, at full speed,—their shouts of laughter coming faintly on the wind.

CHAPTER VIII.
Eliza’s Escape

Eliza made her desperate retreat across the river just in the dusk of twilight. The gray mist of evening, rising slowly from the river, enveloped her as she disappeared up the bank, and the swollen current and floundering masses of ice presented a hopeless barrier between her and her pursuer. Haley therefore slowly and discontentedly returned to the little tavern, to ponder further what was to be done. The woman opened to him the door of a little parlor, covered with a rag carpet, where stood a table with a very shining black oil-cloth, sundry lank, high-backed wood chairs, with some plaster images in resplendent colors on the mantel-shelf, above a very dimly-smoking grate; a long hard-wood settle extended its uneasy length by the chimney, and here Haley sat him down to meditate on the instability of human hopes and happiness in general.

“What did I want with the little cuss, now,” he said to himself, “that I should have got myself treed like a coon, as I am, this yer way?” and Haley relieved himself by repeating over a not very select litany of imprecations on himself, which, though there was the best possible reason to consider them as true, we shall, as a matter of taste, omit.

He was startled by the loud and dissonant voice of a man who was apparently dismounting at the door. He hurried to the window.

“By the land! if this yer an’t the nearest, now, to what I’ve heard folks call Providence,” said Haley. “I do b’lieve that ar’s Tom Loker.”

Haley hastened out. Standing by the bar, in the corner of the room, was a brawny, muscular man, full six feet in height, and broad in proportion. He was dressed in a coat of buffalo-skin, made with the hair outward, which gave him a shaggy and fierce appearance, perfectly in keeping with the whole air of his physiognomy. In the head and face every organ and lineament expressive of brutal and unhesitating violence was in a state of the highest possible development. Indeed, could our readers fancy a bull-dog come unto man’s estate, and walking about in a hat and coat, they would have no unapt idea of the general style and effect of his physique. He was accompanied by a travelling companion, in many respects an exact contrast to himself. He was short and slender, lithe and catlike in his motions, and had a peering, mousing expression about his keen black eyes, with which every feature of his face seemed sharpened into sympathy; his thin, long nose, ran out as if it was eager to bore into the nature of things in general; his sleek, thin, black hair was stuck eagerly forward, and all his motions and evolutions expressed a dry, cautious acuteness. The great man poured out a big tumbler half full of raw spirits, and gulped it down without a word. The little man stood tiptoe, and putting his head first to one side and then the other, and snuffing considerately in the directions of the various bottles, ordered at last a mint julep, in a thin and quivering voice, and with an air of great circumspection. When poured out, he took it and looked at it with a sharp, complacent air, like a man who thinks he has done about the right thing, and hit the nail on the head, and proceeded to dispose of it in short and well-advised sips.

“Wal, now, who’d a thought this yer luck ’ad come to me? Why, Loker, how are ye?” said Haley, coming forward, and extending his hand to the big man.

“The devil!” was the civil reply. “What brought you here, Haley?”

The mousing man, who bore the name of Marks, instantly stopped his sipping, and, poking his head forward, looked shrewdly on the new acquaintance, as a cat sometimes looks at a moving dry leaf, or some other possible object of pursuit.

“I say, Tom, this yer’s the luckiest thing in the world. I’m in a devil of a hobble, and you must help me out.”

“Ugh? aw! like enough!” grunted his complacent acquaintance. “A body may be pretty sure of that, when you’re glad to see ’em; something to be made off of ’em. What’s the blow now?”

“You’ve got a friend here?” said Haley, looking doubtfully at Marks; “partner, perhaps?”

“Yes, I have. Here, Marks! here’s that ar feller that I was in with in Natchez.”

“Shall be pleased with his acquaintance,” said Marks, thrusting out a long, thin hand, like a raven’s claw. “Mr. Haley, I believe?”

“The same, sir,” said Haley. “And now, gentlemen, seein’ as we’ve met so happily, I think I’ll stand up to a small matter of a treat in this here parlor. So, now, old coon,” said he to the man at the bar, “get us hot water, and sugar, and cigars, and plenty of the real stuff and we’ll have a blow-out.”

Behold, then, the candles lighted, the fire stimulated to the burning point in the grate, and our three worthies seated round a table, well spread with all the accessories to good fellowship enumerated before.

Haley began a pathetic recital of his peculiar troubles. Loker shut up his mouth, and listened to him with gruff and surly attention. Marks, who was anxiously and with much fidgeting compounding a tumbler of punch to his own peculiar taste, occasionally looked up from his employment, and, poking his sharp nose and chin almost into Haley’s face, gave the most earnest heed to the whole narrative. The conclusion of it appeared to amuse him extremely, for he shook his shoulders and sides in silence, and perked up his thin lips with an air of great internal enjoyment.

“So, then, ye’r fairly sewed up, an’t ye?” he said; “he! he! he! It’s neatly done, too.”

“This yer young-un business makes lots of trouble in the trade,” said Haley, dolefully.

“If we could get a breed of gals that didn’t care, now, for their young uns,” said Marks; “tell ye, I think ’t would be ’bout the greatest mod’rn improvement I knows on,”—and Marks patronized his joke by a quiet introductory sniggle.

“Jes so,” said Haley; “I never couldn’t see into it; young uns is heaps of trouble to ’em; one would think, now, they’d be glad to get clar on ’em; but they arn’t. And the more trouble a young un is, and the more good for nothing, as a gen’l thing, the tighter they sticks to ’em.”

“Wal, Mr. Haley,” said Marks, “‘est pass the hot water. Yes, sir, you say ’est what I feel and all’us have. Now, I bought a gal once, when I was in the trade,—a tight, likely wench she was, too, and quite considerable smart,—and she had a young un that was mis’able sickly; it had a crooked back, or something or other; and I jest gin ’t away to a man that thought he’d take his chance raising on ’t, being it didn’t cost nothin’;—never thought, yer know, of the gal’s takin’ on about it,—but, Lord, yer oughter seen how she went on. Why, re’lly, she did seem to me to valley the child more ’cause ”t was sickly and cross, and plagued her; and she warn’t making b’lieve, neither,—cried about it, she did, and lopped round, as if she’d lost every friend she had. It re’lly was droll to think on ’t. Lord, there ain’t no end to women’s notions.”

“Wal, jest so with me,” said Haley. “Last summer, down on Red River, I got a gal traded off on me, with a likely lookin’ child enough, and his eyes looked as bright as yourn; but, come to look, I found him stone blind. Fact—he was stone blind. Wal, ye see, I thought there warn’t no harm in my jest passing him along, and not sayin’ nothin’; and I’d got him nicely swapped off for a keg o’ whiskey; but come to get him away from the gal, she was jest like a tiger. So ’t was before we started, and I hadn’t got my gang chained up; so what should she do but ups on a cotton-bale, like a cat, ketches a knife from one of the deck hands, and, I tell ye, she made all fly for a minit, till she saw ’t wan’t no use; and she jest turns round, and pitches head first, young un and all, into the river,—went down plump, and never ris.”

“Bah!” said Tom Loker, who had listened to these stories with ill-repressed disgust,—“shif’less, both on ye! my gals don’t cut up no such shines, I tell ye!”

“Indeed! how do you help it?” said Marks, briskly.

“Help it? why, I buys a gal, and if she’s got a young un to be sold, I jest walks up and puts my fist to her face, and says, ‘Look here, now, if you give me one word out of your head, I’ll smash yer face in. I won’t hear one word—not the beginning of a word.’ I says to ’em, ‘This yer young un’s mine, and not yourn, and you’ve no kind o’ business with it. I’m going to sell it, first chance; mind, you don’t cut up none o’ yer shines about it, or I’ll make ye wish ye’d never been born.’ I tell ye, they sees it an’t no play, when I gets hold. I makes ’em as whist as fishes; and if one on ’em begins and gives a yelp, why,—” and Mr. Loker brought down his fist with a thump that fully explained the hiatus.

“That ar’s what ye may call emphasis,” said Marks, poking Haley in the side, and going into another small giggle. “An’t Tom peculiar? he! he! I say, Tom, I s’pect you make ’em understand, for all niggers’ heads is woolly. They don’t never have no doubt o’ your meaning, Tom. If you an’t the devil, Tom, you ’s his twin brother, I’ll say that for ye!”

Tom received the compliment with becoming modesty, and began to look as affable as was consistent, as John Bunyan says, “with his doggish nature.”

Haley, who had been imbibing very freely of the staple of the evening, began to feel a sensible elevation and enlargement of his moral faculties,—a phenomenon not unusual with gentlemen of a serious and reflective turn, under similar circumstances.

“Wal, now, Tom,” he said, “ye re’lly is too bad, as I al’ays have told ye; ye know, Tom, you and I used to talk over these yer matters down in Natchez, and I used to prove to ye that we made full as much, and was as well off for this yer world, by treatin’ on ’em well, besides keepin’ a better chance for comin’ in the kingdom at last, when wust comes to wust, and thar an’t nothing else left to get, ye know.”

“Boh!” said Tom, “don’t I know?—don’t make me too sick with any yer stuff,—my stomach is a leetle riled now;” and Tom drank half a glass of raw brandy.

“I say,” said Haley, and leaning back in his chair and gesturing impressively, “I’ll say this now, I al’ays meant to drive my trade so as to make money on ’t fust and foremost, as much as any man; but, then, trade an’t everything, and money an’t everything, ’cause we ’s all got souls. I don’t care, now, who hears me say it,—and I think a cussed sight on it,—so I may as well come out with it. I b’lieve in religion, and one of these days, when I’ve got matters tight and snug, I calculates to tend to my soul and them ar matters; and so what’s the use of doin’ any more wickedness than ’s re’lly necessary?—it don’t seem to me it’s ’t all prudent.”

“Tend to yer soul!” repeated Tom, contemptuously; “take a bright lookout to find a soul in you,—save yourself any care on that score. If the devil sifts you through a hair sieve, he won’t find one.”

“Why, Tom, you’re cross,” said Haley; “why can’t ye take it pleasant, now, when a feller’s talking for your good?”

“Stop that ar jaw o’ yourn, there,” said Tom, gruffly. “I can stand most any talk o’ yourn but your pious talk,—that kills me right up. After all, what’s the odds between me and you? ’Tan’t that you care one bit more, or have a bit more feelin’—it’s clean, sheer, dog meanness, wanting to cheat the devil and save your own skin; don’t I see through it? And your ‘gettin’ religion,’ as you call it, arter all, is too p’isin mean for any crittur;—run up a bill with the devil all your life, and then sneak out when pay time comes! Bob!”

“Come, come, gentlemen, I say; this isn’t business,” said Marks. “There’s different ways, you know, of looking at all subjects. Mr. Haley is a very nice man, no doubt, and has his own conscience; and, Tom, you have your ways, and very good ones, too, Tom; but quarrelling, you know, won’t answer no kind of purpose. Let’s go to business. Now, Mr. Haley, what is it?—you want us to undertake to catch this yer gal?”

“The gal’s no matter of mine,—she’s Shelby’s; it’s only the boy. I was a fool for buying the monkey!”

“You’re generally a fool!” said Tom, gruffly.

“Come, now, Loker, none of your huffs,” said Marks, licking his lips; “you see, Mr. Haley ’s a puttin’ us in a way of a good job, I reckon; just hold still—these yer arrangements is my forte. This yer gal, Mr. Haley, how is she? what is she?”

“Wal! white and handsome—well brought up. I’d a gin Shelby eight hundred or a thousand, and then made well on her.”

“White and handsome—well brought up!” said Marks, his sharp eyes, nose and mouth, all alive with enterprise. “Look here, now, Loker, a beautiful opening. We’ll do a business here on our own account;—we does the catchin’; the boy, of course, goes to Mr. Haley,—we takes the gal to Orleans to speculate on. An’t it beautiful?”

Tom, whose great heavy mouth had stood ajar during this communication, now suddenly snapped it together, as a big dog closes on a piece of meat, and seemed to be digesting the idea at his leisure.

“Ye see,” said Marks to Haley, stirring his punch as he did so, “ye see, we has justices convenient at all p’ints along shore, that does up any little jobs in our line quite reasonable. Tom, he does the knockin’ down and that ar; and I come in all dressed up—shining boots—everything first chop, when the swearin’ ’s to be done. You oughter see, now,” said Marks, in a glow of professional pride, “how I can tone it off. One day, I’m Mr. Twickem, from New Orleans; ’nother day, I’m just come from my plantation on Pearl River, where I works seven hundred niggers; then, again, I come out a distant relation of Henry Clay, or some old cock in Kentuck. Talents is different, you know. Now, Tom’s roarer when there’s any thumping or fighting to be done; but at lying he an’t good, Tom an’t,—ye see it don’t come natural to him; but, Lord, if thar’s a feller in the country that can swear to anything and everything, and put in all the circumstances and flourishes with a long face, and carry ’t through better ’n I can, why, I’d like to see him, that’s all! I b’lieve my heart, I could get along and snake through, even if justices were more particular than they is. Sometimes I rather wish they was more particular; ’t would be a heap more relishin’ if they was,—more fun, yer know.”

Tom Loker, who, as we have made it appear, was a man of slow thoughts and movements, here interrupted Marks by bringing his heavy fist down on the table, so as to make all ring again, “It’ll do!” he said.

“Lord bless ye, Tom, ye needn’t break all the glasses!” said Marks; “save your fist for time o’ need.”

“But, gentlemen, an’t I to come in for a share of the profits?” said Haley.

“An’t it enough we catch the boy for ye?” said Loker. “What do ye want?”

“Wal,” said Haley, “if I gives you the job, it’s worth something,—say ten per cent. on the profits, expenses paid.”

“Now,” said Loker, with a tremendous oath, and striking the table with his heavy fist, “don’t I know you, Dan Haley? Don’t you think to come it over me! Suppose Marks and I have taken up the catchin’ trade, jest to ’commodate gentlemen like you, and get nothin’ for ourselves?—Not by a long chalk! we’ll have the gal out and out, and you keep quiet, or, ye see, we’ll have both,—what’s to hinder? Han’t you show’d us the game? It’s as free to us as you, I hope. If you or Shelby wants to chase us, look where the partridges was last year; if you find them or us, you’re quite welcome.”

“O, wal, certainly, jest let it go at that,” said Haley, alarmed; “you catch the boy for the job;—you allers did trade far with me, Tom, and was up to yer word.”

“Ye know that,” said Tom; “I don’t pretend none of your snivelling ways, but I won’t lie in my ’counts with the devil himself. What I ses I’ll do, I will do,—you know that, Dan Haley.”

“Jes so, jes so,—I said so, Tom,” said Haley; “and if you’d only promise to have the boy for me in a week, at any point you’ll name, that’s all I want.”

“But it an’t all I want, by a long jump,” said Tom. “Ye don’t think I did business with you, down in Natchez, for nothing, Haley; I’ve learned to hold an eel, when I catch him. You’ve got to fork over fifty dollars, flat down, or this child don’t start a peg. I know yer.”

“Why, when you have a job in hand that may bring a clean profit of somewhere about a thousand or sixteen hundred, why, Tom, you’re onreasonable,” said Haley.

“Yes, and hasn’t we business booked for five weeks to come,—all we can do? And suppose we leaves all, and goes to bush-whacking round arter yer young uns, and finally doesn’t catch the gal,—and gals allers is the devil to catch,—what’s then? would you pay us a cent—would you? I think I see you a doin’ it—ugh! No, no; flap down your fifty. If we get the job, and it pays, I’ll hand it back; if we don’t, it’s for our trouble,—that’s far, an’t it, Marks?”

“Certainly, certainly,” said Marks, with a conciliatory tone; “it’s only a retaining fee, you see,—he! he! he!—we lawyers, you know. Wal, we must all keep good-natured,—keep easy, yer know. Tom’ll have the boy for yer, anywhere ye’ll name; won’t ye, Tom?”

“If I find the young un, I’ll bring him on to Cincinnati, and leave him at Granny Belcher’s, on the landing,” said Loker.

Marks had got from his pocket a greasy pocket-book, and taking a long paper from thence, he sat down, and fixing his keen black eyes on it, began mumbling over its contents: “Barnes—Shelby County—boy Jim, three hundred dollars for him, dead or alive.

“Edwards—Dick and Lucy—man and wife, six hundred dollars; wench Polly and two children—six hundred for her or her head.

“I’m jest a runnin’ over our business, to see if we can take up this yer handily. Loker,” he said, after a pause, “we must set Adams and Springer on the track of these yer; they’ve been booked some time.”

“They’ll charge too much,” said Tom.

“I’ll manage that ar; they ’s young in the business, and must spect to work cheap,” said Marks, as he continued to read. “Ther’s three on ’em easy cases, ’cause all you’ve got to do is to shoot ’em, or swear they is shot; they couldn’t, of course, charge much for that. Them other cases,” he said, folding the paper, “will bear puttin’ off a spell. So now let’s come to the particulars. Now, Mr. Haley, you saw this yer gal when she landed?”

“To be sure,—plain as I see you.”

“And a man helpin’ on her up the bank?” said Loker.

“To be sure, I did.”

“Most likely,” said Marks, “she’s took in somewhere; but where, ’s a question. Tom, what do you say?”

“We must cross the river tonight, no mistake,” said Tom.

“But there’s no boat about,” said Marks. “The ice is running awfully, Tom; an’t it dangerous?”

“Don’no nothing ’bout that,—only it’s got to be done,” said Tom, decidedly.

“Dear me,” said Marks, fidgeting, “it’ll be—I say,” he said, walking to the window, “it’s dark as a wolf’s mouth, and, Tom—”

“The long and short is, you’re scared, Marks; but I can’t help that,—you’ve got to go. Suppose you want to lie by a day or two, till the gal ’s been carried on the underground line up to Sandusky or so, before you start.”

“O, no; I an’t a grain afraid,” said Marks, “only—”

“Only what?” said Tom.

“Well, about the boat. Yer see there an’t any boat.”

“I heard the woman say there was one coming along this evening, and that a man was going to cross over in it. Neck or nothing, we must go with him,” said Tom.

“I s’pose you’ve got good dogs,” said Haley.

“First rate,” said Marks. “But what’s the use? you han’t got nothin’ o’ hers to smell on.”

“Yes, I have,” said Haley, triumphantly. “Here’s her shawl she left on the bed in her hurry; she left her bonnet, too.”

“That ar’s lucky,” said Loker; “fork over.”

“Though the dogs might damage the gal, if they come on her unawars,” said Haley.

“That ar’s a consideration,” said Marks. “Our dogs tore a feller half to pieces, once, down in Mobile, ’fore we could get ’em off.”

“Well, ye see, for this sort that’s to be sold for their looks, that ar won’t answer, ye see,” said Haley.

“I do see,” said Marks. “Besides, if she’s got took in, ’tan’t no go, neither. Dogs is no ’count in these yer up states where these critters gets carried; of course, ye can’t get on their track. They only does down in plantations, where niggers, when they runs, has to do their own running, and don’t get no help.”

“Well,” said Loker, who had just stepped out to the bar to make some inquiries, “they say the man’s come with the boat; so, Marks—”

That worthy cast a rueful look at the comfortable quarters he was leaving, but slowly rose to obey. After exchanging a few words of further arrangement, Haley, with visible reluctance, handed over the fifty dollars to Tom, and the worthy trio separated for the night.

If any of our refined and Christian readers object to the society into which this scene introduces them, let us beg them to begin and conquer their prejudices in time. The catching business, we beg to remind them, is rising to the dignity of a lawful and patriotic profession. If all the broad land between the Mississippi and the Pacific becomes one great market for bodies and souls, and human property retains the locomotive tendencies of this nineteenth century, the trader and catcher may yet be among our aristocracy.

While this scene was going on at the tavern, Sam and Andy, in a state of high felicitation, pursued their way home.

Sam was in the highest possible feather, and expressed his exultation by all sorts of supernatural howls and ejaculations, by divers odd motions and contortions of his whole system. Sometimes he would sit backward, with his face to the horse’s tail and sides, and then, with a whoop and a somerset, come right side up in his place again, and, drawing on a grave face, begin to lecture Andy in high-sounding tones for laughing and playing the fool. Anon, slapping his sides with his arms, he would burst forth in peals of laughter, that made the old woods ring as they passed. With all these evolutions, he contrived to keep the horses up to the top of their speed, until, between ten and eleven, their heels resounded on the gravel at the end of the balcony. Mrs. Shelby flew to the railings.

“Is that you, Sam? Where are they?”

“Mas’r Haley ’s a-restin’ at the tavern; he’s drefful fatigued, Missis.”

“And Eliza, Sam?”

“Wal, she’s clar ’cross Jordan. As a body may say, in the land o’ Canaan.”

“Why, Sam, what do you mean?” said Mrs. Shelby, breathless, and almost faint, as the possible meaning of these words came over her.

“Wal, Missis, de Lord he persarves his own. Lizy’s done gone over the river into ’Hio, as ’markably as if de Lord took her over in a charrit of fire and two hosses.”

Sam’s vein of piety was always uncommonly fervent in his mistress’ presence; and he made great capital of scriptural figures and images.

“Come up here, Sam,” said Mr. Shelby, who had followed on to the verandah, “and tell your mistress what she wants. Come, come, Emily,” said he, passing his arm round her, “you are cold and all in a shiver; you allow yourself to feel too much.”

“Feel too much! Am not I a woman,—a mother? Are we not both responsible to God for this poor girl? My God! lay not this sin to our charge.”

“What sin, Emily? You see yourself that we have only done what we were obliged to.”

“There’s an awful feeling of guilt about it, though,” said Mrs. Shelby. “I can’t reason it away.”

“Here, Andy, you nigger, be alive!” called Sam, under the verandah; “take these yer hosses to der barn; don’t ye hear Mas’r a callin’?” and Sam soon appeared, palm-leaf in hand, at the parlor door.

“Now, Sam, tell us distinctly how the matter was,” said Mr. Shelby. “Where is Eliza, if you know?”

“Wal, Mas’r, I saw her, with my own eyes, a crossin’ on the floatin’ ice. She crossed most ’markably; it wasn’t no less nor a miracle; and I saw a man help her up the ’Hio side, and then she was lost in the dusk.”

“Sam, I think this rather apocryphal,—this miracle. Crossing on floating ice isn’t so easily done,” said Mr. Shelby.

“Easy! couldn’t nobody a done it, without de Lord. Why, now,” said Sam, “‘t was jist dis yer way. Mas’r Haley, and me, and Andy, we comes up to de little tavern by the river, and I rides a leetle ahead,—(I’s so zealous to be a cotchin’ Lizy, that I couldn’t hold in, no way),—and when I comes by the tavern winder, sure enough there she was, right in plain sight, and dey diggin’ on behind. Wal, I loses off my hat, and sings out nuff to raise the dead. Course Lizy she hars, and she dodges back, when Mas’r Haley he goes past the door; and then, I tell ye, she clared out de side door; she went down de river bank;—Mas’r Haley he seed her, and yelled out, and him, and me, and Andy, we took arter. Down she come to the river, and thar was the current running ten feet wide by the shore, and over t’ other side ice a sawin’ and a jiggling up and down, kinder as ’t were a great island. We come right behind her, and I thought my soul he’d got her sure enough,—when she gin sich a screech as I never hearn, and thar she was, clar over t’ other side of the current, on the ice, and then on she went, a screeching and a jumpin’,—the ice went crack! c’wallop! cracking! chunk! and she a boundin’ like a buck! Lord, the spring that ar gal’s got in her an’t common, I’m o’ ’pinion.”

Mrs. Shelby sat perfectly silent, pale with excitement, while Sam told his story.

“God be praised, she isn’t dead!” she said; “but where is the poor child now?”

“De Lord will pervide,” said Sam, rolling up his eyes piously. “As I’ve been a sayin’, dis yer ’s a providence and no mistake, as Missis has allers been a instructin’ on us. Thar’s allers instruments ris up to do de Lord’s will. Now, if ’t hadn’t been for me today, she’d a been took a dozen times. Warn’t it I started off de hosses, dis yer mornin’ and kept ’em chasin’ till nigh dinner time? And didn’t I car Mas’r Haley night five miles out of de road, dis evening, or else he’d a come up with Lizy as easy as a dog arter a coon. These yer ’s all providences.”

“They are a kind of providences that you’ll have to be pretty sparing of, Master Sam. I allow no such practices with gentlemen on my place,” said Mr. Shelby, with as much sternness as he could command, under the circumstances.

Now, there is no more use in making believe be angry with a negro than with a child; both instinctively see the true state of the case, through all attempts to affect the contrary; and Sam was in no wise disheartened by this rebuke, though he assumed an air of doleful gravity, and stood with the corners of his mouth lowered in most penitential style.

“Mas’r quite right,—quite; it was ugly on me,—there’s no disputin’ that ar; and of course Mas’r and Missis wouldn’t encourage no such works. I’m sensible of dat ar; but a poor nigger like me ’s ’mazin’ tempted to act ugly sometimes, when fellers will cut up such shines as dat ar Mas’r Haley; he an’t no gen’l’man no way; anybody’s been raised as I’ve been can’t help a seein’ dat ar.”

“Well, Sam,” said Mrs. Shelby, “as you appear to have a proper sense of your errors, you may go now and tell Aunt Chloe she may get you some of that cold ham that was left of dinner today. You and Andy must be hungry.”

“Missis is a heap too good for us,” said Sam, making his bow with alacrity, and departing.

It will be perceived, as has been before intimated, that Master Sam had a native talent that might, undoubtedly, have raised him to eminence in political life,—a talent of making capital out of everything that turned up, to be invested for his own especial praise and glory; and having done up his piety and humility, as he trusted, to the satisfaction of the parlor, he clapped his palm-leaf on his head, with a sort of rakish, free-and-easy air, and proceeded to the dominions of Aunt Chloe, with the intention of flourishing largely in the kitchen.

“I’ll speechify these yer niggers,” said Sam to himself, “now I’ve got a chance. Lord, I’ll reel it off to make ’em stare!”

It must be observed that one of Sam’s especial delights had been to ride in attendance on his master to all kinds of political gatherings, where, roosted on some rail fence, or perched aloft in some tree, he would sit watching the orators, with the greatest apparent gusto, and then, descending among the various brethren of his own color, assembled on the same errand, he would edify and delight them with the most ludicrous burlesques and imitations, all delivered with the most imperturbable earnestness and solemnity; and though the auditors immediately about him were generally of his own color, it not infrequently happened that they were fringed pretty deeply with those of a fairer complexion, who listened, laughing and winking, to Sam’s great self-congratulation. In fact, Sam considered oratory as his vocation, and never let slip an opportunity of magnifying his office.

Now, between Sam and Aunt Chloe there had existed, from ancient times, a sort of chronic feud, or rather a decided coolness; but, as Sam was meditating something in the provision department, as the necessary and obvious foundation of his operations, he determined, on the present occasion, to be eminently conciliatory; for he well knew that although “Missis’ orders” would undoubtedly be followed to the letter, yet he should gain a considerable deal by enlisting the spirit also. He therefore appeared before Aunt Chloe with a touchingly subdued, resigned expression, like one who has suffered immeasurable hardships in behalf of a persecuted fellow-creature,—enlarged upon the fact that Missis had directed him to come to Aunt Chloe for whatever might be wanting to make up the balance in his solids and fluids,—and thus unequivocally acknowledged her right and supremacy in the cooking department, and all thereto pertaining.

The thing took accordingly. No poor, simple, virtuous body was ever cajoled by the attentions of an electioneering politician with more ease than Aunt Chloe was won over by Master Sam’s suavities; and if he had been the prodigal son himself, he could not have been overwhelmed with more maternal bountifulness; and he soon found himself seated, happy and glorious, over a large tin pan, containing a sort of olla podrida of all that had appeared on the table for two or three days past. Savory morsels of ham, golden blocks of corn-cake, fragments of pie of every conceivable mathematical figure, chicken wings, gizzards, and drumsticks, all appeared in picturesque confusion; and Sam, as monarch of all he surveyed, sat with his palm-leaf cocked rejoicingly to one side, and patronizing Andy at his right hand.

The kitchen was full of all his compeers, who had hurried and crowded in, from the various cabins, to hear the termination of the day’s exploits. Now was Sam’s hour of glory. The story of the day was rehearsed, with all kinds of ornament and varnishing which might be necessary to heighten its effect; for Sam, like some of our fashionable dilettanti, never allowed a story to lose any of its gilding by passing through his hands. Roars of laughter attended the narration, and were taken up and prolonged by all the smaller fry, who were lying, in any quantity, about on the floor, or perched in every corner. In the height of the uproar and laughter, Sam, however, preserved an immovable gravity, only from time to time rolling his eyes up, and giving his auditors divers inexpressibly droll glances, without departing from the sententious elevation of his oratory.

“Yer see, fellow-countrymen,” said Sam, elevating a turkey’s leg, with energy, “yer see, now what dis yer chile ’s up ter, for fendin’ yer all,—yes, all on yer. For him as tries to get one o’ our people is as good as tryin’ to get all; yer see the principle ’s de same,—dat ar’s clar. And any one o’ these yer drivers that comes smelling round arter any our people, why, he’s got me in his way; I’m the feller he’s got to set in with,—I’m the feller for yer all to come to, bredren,—I’ll stand up for yer rights,—I’ll fend ’em to the last breath!”

“Why, but Sam, yer telled me, only this mornin’, that you’d help this yer Mas’r to cotch Lizy; seems to me yer talk don’t hang together,” said Andy.

“I tell you now, Andy,” said Sam, with awful superiority, “don’t yer be a talkin’ ’bout what yer don’t know nothin’ on; boys like you, Andy, means well, but they can’t be spected to collusitate the great principles of action.”

Andy looked rebuked, particularly by the hard word collusitate, which most of the youngerly members of the company seemed to consider as a settler in the case, while Sam proceeded.

“Dat ar was conscience, Andy; when I thought of gwine arter Lizy, I railly spected Mas’r was sot dat way. When I found Missis was sot the contrar, dat ar was conscience more yet,—cause fellers allers gets more by stickin’ to Missis’ side,—so yer see I ’s persistent either way, and sticks up to conscience, and holds on to principles. Yes, principles,” said Sam, giving an enthusiastic toss to a chicken’s neck,—“what’s principles good for, if we isn’t persistent, I wanter know? Thar, Andy, you may have dat ar bone,—tan’t picked quite clean.”

Sam’s audience hanging on his words with open mouth, he could not but proceed.

“Dis yer matter ’bout persistence, feller-niggers,” said Sam, with the air of one entering into an abstruse subject, “dis yer ’sistency ’s a thing what an’t seed into very clar, by most anybody. Now, yer see, when a feller stands up for a thing one day and night, de contrar de next, folks ses (and nat’rally enough dey ses), why he an’t persistent,—hand me dat ar bit o’ corn-cake, Andy. But let’s look inter it. I hope the gen’lmen and der fair sex will scuse my usin’ an or’nary sort o’ ’parison. Here! I’m a trying to get top o’ der hay. Wal, I puts up my larder dis yer side; ’tan’t no go;—den, cause I don’t try dere no more, but puts my larder right de contrar side, an’t I persistent? I’m persistent in wantin’ to get up which ary side my larder is; don’t you see, all on yer?”

“It’s the only thing ye ever was persistent in, Lord knows!” muttered Aunt Chloe, who was getting rather restive; the merriment of the evening being to her somewhat after the Scripture comparison,—like “vinegar upon nitre.”

“Yes, indeed!” said Sam, rising, full of supper and glory, for a closing effort. “Yes, my feller-citizens and ladies of de other sex in general, I has principles,—I’m proud to ’oon ’em,—they ’s perquisite to dese yer times, and ter all times. I has principles, and I sticks to ’em like forty,—jest anything that I thinks is principle, I goes in to ’t;—I wouldn’t mind if dey burnt me ’live,—I’d walk right up to de stake, I would, and say, here I comes to shed my last blood fur my principles, fur my country, fur de gen’l interests of society.”

“Well,” said Aunt Chloe, “one o’ yer principles will have to be to get to bed some time tonight, and not be a keepin’ everybody up till mornin’; now, every one of you young uns that don’t want to be cracked, had better be scase, mighty sudden.”

“Niggers! all on yer,” said Sam, waving his palm-leaf with benignity, “I give yer my blessin’; go to bed now, and be good boys.”

And, with this pathetic benediction, the assembly dispersed.

CHAPTER IX.
In Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man

The light of the cheerful fire shone on the rug and carpet of a cosey parlor, and glittered on the sides of the tea-cups and well-brightened tea-pot, as Senator Bird was drawing off his boots, preparatory to inserting his feet in a pair of new handsome slippers, which his wife had been working for him while away on his senatorial tour. Mrs. Bird, looking the very picture of delight, was superintending the arrangements of the table, ever and anon mingling admonitory remarks to a number of frolicsome juveniles, who were effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and mischief that have astonished mothers ever since the flood.

“Tom, let the door-knob alone,—there’s a man! Mary! Mary! don’t pull the cat’s tail,—poor pussy! Jim, you mustn’t climb on that table,—no, no!—You don’t know, my dear, what a surprise it is to us all, to see you here tonight!” said she, at last, when she found a space to say something to her husband.

“Yes, yes, I thought I’d just make a run down, spend the night, and have a little comfort at home. I’m tired to death, and my head aches!”

Mrs. Bird cast a glance at a camphor-bottle, which stood in the half-open closet, and appeared to meditate an approach to it, but her husband interposed.

“No, no, Mary, no doctoring! a cup of your good hot tea, and some of our good home living, is what I want. It’s a tiresome business, this legislating!”

And the senator smiled, as if he rather liked the idea of considering himself a sacrifice to his country.

“Well,” said his wife, after the business of the tea-table was getting rather slack, “and what have they been doing in the Senate?”

Now, it was a very unusual thing for gentle little Mrs. Bird ever to trouble her head with what was going on in the house of the state, very wisely considering that she had enough to do to mind her own. Mr. Bird, therefore, opened his eyes in surprise, and said,

“Not very much of importance.”

“Well; but is it true that they have been passing a law forbidding people to give meat and drink to those poor colored folks that come along? I heard they were talking of some such law, but I didn’t think any Christian legislature would pass it!”

“Why, Mary, you are getting to be a politician, all at once.”

“No, nonsense! I wouldn’t give a fig for all your politics, generally, but I think this is something downright cruel and unchristian. I hope, my dear, no such law has been passed.”

“There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that thing has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that our brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited, and it seems necessary, and no more than Christian and kind, that something should be done by our state to quiet the excitement.”

“And what is the law? It don’t forbid us to shelter those poor creatures a night, does it, and to give ’em something comfortable to eat, and a few old clothes, and send them quietly about their business?”

“Why, yes, my dear; that would be aiding and abetting, you know.”

Mrs. Bird was a timid, blushing little woman, of about four feet in height, and with mild blue eyes, and a peach-blow complexion, and the gentlest, sweetest voice in the world;—as for courage, a moderate-sized cock-turkey had been known to put her to rout at the very first gobble, and a stout house-dog, of moderate capacity, would bring her into subjection merely by a show of his teeth. Her husband and children were her entire world, and in these she ruled more by entreaty and persuasion than by command or argument. There was only one thing that was capable of arousing her, and that provocation came in on the side of her unusually gentle and sympathetic nature;—anything in the shape of cruelty would throw her into a passion, which was the more alarming and inexplicable in proportion to the general softness of her nature. Generally the most indulgent and easy to be entreated of all mothers, still her boys had a very reverent remembrance of a most vehement chastisement she once bestowed on them, because she found them leagued with several graceless boys of the neighborhood, stoning a defenceless kitten.

“I’ll tell you what,” Master Bill used to say, “I was scared that time. Mother came at me so that I thought she was crazy, and I was whipped and tumbled off to bed, without any supper, before I could get over wondering what had come about; and, after that, I heard mother crying outside the door, which made me feel worse than all the rest. I’ll tell you what,” he’d say, “we boys never stoned another kitten!”

On the present occasion, Mrs. Bird rose quickly, with very red cheeks, which quite improved her general appearance, and walked up to her husband, with quite a resolute air, and said, in a determined tone,

“Now, John, I want to know if you think such a law as that is right and Christian?”

“You won’t shoot me, now, Mary, if I say I do!”

“I never could have thought it of you, John; you didn’t vote for it?”

“Even so, my fair politician.”

“You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures! It’s a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I’ll break it, for one, the first time I get a chance; and I hope I shall have a chance, I do! Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman can’t give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures, just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed all their lives, poor things!”

“But, Mary, just listen to me. Your feelings are all quite right, dear, and interesting, and I love you for them; but, then, dear, we mustn’t suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment; you must consider it’s a matter of private feeling,—there are great public interests involved,—there is such a state of public agitation rising, that we must put aside our private feelings.”

“Now, John, I don’t know anything about politics, but I can read my Bible; and there I see that I must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible I mean to follow.”

“But in cases where your doing so would involve a great public evil—”

“Obeying God never brings on public evils. I know it can’t. It’s always safest, all round, to do as He bids us.

“Now, listen to me, Mary, and I can state to you a very clear argument, to show—”

“O, nonsense, John! you can talk all night, but you wouldn’t do it. I put it to you, John,—would you now turn away a poor, shivering, hungry creature from your door, because he was a runaway? Would you, now?”

Now, if the truth must be told, our senator had the misfortune to be a man who had a particularly humane and accessible nature, and turning away anybody that was in trouble never had been his forte; and what was worse for him in this particular pinch of the argument was, that his wife knew it, and, of course was making an assault on rather an indefensible point. So he had recourse to the usual means of gaining time for such cases made and provided; he said “ahem,” and coughed several times, took out his pocket-handkerchief, and began to wipe his glasses. Mrs. Bird, seeing the defenceless condition of the enemy’s territory, had no more conscience than to push her advantage.

“I should like to see you doing that, John—I really should! Turning a woman out of doors in a snowstorm, for instance; or may be you’d take her up and put her in jail, wouldn’t you? You would make a great hand at that!”

“Of course, it would be a very painful duty,” began Mr. Bird, in a moderate tone.

“Duty, John! don’t use that word! You know it isn’t a duty—it can’t be a duty! If folks want to keep their slaves from running away, let ’em treat ’em well,—that’s my doctrine. If I had slaves (as I hope I never shall have), I’d risk their wanting to run away from me, or you either, John. I tell you folks don’t run away when they are happy; and when they do run, poor creatures! they suffer enough with cold and hunger and fear, without everybody’s turning against them; and, law or no law, I never will, so help me God!”

“Mary! Mary! My dear, let me reason with you.”

“I hate reasoning, John,—especially reasoning on such subjects. There’s a way you political folks have of coming round and round a plain right thing; and you don’t believe in it yourselves, when it comes to practice. I know you well enough, John. You don’t believe it’s right any more than I do; and you wouldn’t do it any sooner than I.”

At this critical juncture, old Cudjoe, the black man-of-all-work, put his head in at the door, and wished “Missis would come into the kitchen;” and our senator, tolerably relieved, looked after his little wife with a whimsical mixture of amusement and vexation, and, seating himself in the arm-chair, began to read the papers.

After a moment, his wife’s voice was heard at the door, in a quick, earnest tone,—“John! John! I do wish you’d come here, a moment.”

He laid down his paper, and went into the kitchen, and started, quite amazed at the sight that presented itself:—A young and slender woman, with garments torn and frozen, with one shoe gone, and the stocking torn away from the cut and bleeding foot, was laid back in a deadly swoon upon two chairs. There was the impress of the despised race on her face, yet none could help feeling its mournful and pathetic beauty, while its stony sharpness, its cold, fixed, deathly aspect, struck a solemn chill over him. He drew his breath short, and stood in silence. His wife, and their only colored domestic, old Aunt Dinah, were busily engaged in restorative measures; while old Cudjoe had got the boy on his knee, and was busy pulling off his shoes and stockings, and chafing his little cold feet.

“Sure, now, if she an’t a sight to behold!” said old Dinah, compassionately; “‘pears like ’t was the heat that made her faint. She was tol’able peart when she cum in, and asked if she couldn’t warm herself here a spell; and I was just a-askin’ her where she cum from, and she fainted right down. Never done much hard work, guess, by the looks of her hands.”

“Poor creature!” said Mrs. Bird, compassionately, as the woman slowly unclosed her large, dark eyes, and looked vacantly at her. Suddenly an expression of agony crossed her face, and she sprang up, saying, “O, my Harry! Have they got him?”

The boy, at this, jumped from Cudjoe’s knee, and running to her side put up his arms. “O, he’s here! he’s here!” she exclaimed.

“O, ma’am!” said she, wildly, to Mrs. Bird, “do protect us! don’t let them get him!”

“Nobody shall hurt you here, poor woman,” said Mrs. Bird, encouragingly. “You are safe; don’t be afraid.”

“God bless you!” said the woman, covering her face and sobbing; while the little boy, seeing her crying, tried to get into her lap.

With many gentle and womanly offices, which none knew better how to render than Mrs. Bird, the poor woman was, in time, rendered more calm. A temporary bed was provided for her on the settle, near the fire; and, after a short time, she fell into a heavy slumber, with the child, who seemed no less weary, soundly sleeping on her arm; for the mother resisted, with nervous anxiety, the kindest attempts to take him from her; and, even in sleep, her arm encircled him with an unrelaxing clasp, as if she could not even then be beguiled of her vigilant hold.

Mr. and Mrs. Bird had gone back to the parlor, where, strange as it may appear, no reference was made, on either side, to the preceding conversation; but Mrs. Bird busied herself with her knitting-work, and Mr. Bird pretended to be reading the paper.

“I wonder who and what she is!” said Mr. Bird, at last, as he laid it down.

“When she wakes up and feels a little rested, we will see,” said Mrs. Bird.

“I say, wife!” said Mr. Bird after musing in silence over his newspaper.

“Well, dear!”

“She couldn’t wear one of your gowns, could she, by any letting down, or such matter? She seems to be rather larger than you are.”

A quite perceptible smile glimmered on Mrs. Bird’s face, as she answered, “We’ll see.”

Another pause, and Mr. Bird again broke out,

“I say, wife!”

“Well! What now?”

“Why, there’s that old bombazin cloak, that you keep on purpose to put over me when I take my afternoon’s nap; you might as well give her that,—she needs clothes.”

At this instant, Dinah looked in to say that the woman was awake, and wanted to see Missis.

Mr. and Mrs. Bird went into the kitchen, followed by the two eldest boys, the smaller fry having, by this time, been safely disposed of in bed.

The woman was now sitting up on the settle, by the fire. She was looking steadily into the blaze, with a calm, heart-broken expression, very different from her former agitated wildness.

“Did you want me?” said Mrs. Bird, in gentle tones. “I hope you feel better now, poor woman!”

A long-drawn, shivering sigh was the only answer; but she lifted her dark eyes, and fixed them on her with such a forlorn and imploring expression, that the tears came into the little woman’s eyes.

“You needn’t be afraid of anything; we are friends here, poor woman! Tell me where you came from, and what you want,” said she.

“I came from Kentucky,” said the woman.

“When?” said Mr. Bird, taking up the interogatory.

“Tonight.”

“How did you come?”

“I crossed on the ice.”

“Crossed on the ice!” said every one present.

“Yes,” said the woman, slowly, “I did. God helping me, I crossed on the ice; for they were behind me—right behind—and there was no other way!”

“Law, Missis,” said Cudjoe, “the ice is all in broken-up blocks, a swinging and a tetering up and down in the water!”

“I know it was—I know it!” said she, wildly; “but I did it! I wouldn’t have thought I could,—I didn’t think I should get over, but I didn’t care! I could but die, if I didn’t. The Lord helped me; nobody knows how much the Lord can help ’em, till they try,” said the woman, with a flashing eye.

“Were you a slave?” said Mr. Bird.

“Yes, sir; I belonged to a man in Kentucky.”

“Was he unkind to you?”

“No, sir; he was a good master.”

“And was your mistress unkind to you?”

“No, sir—no! my mistress was always good to me.”

“What could induce you to leave a good home, then, and run away, and go through such dangers?”

The woman looked up at Mrs. Bird, with a keen, scrutinizing glance, and it did not escape her that she was dressed in deep mourning.

“Ma’am,” she said, suddenly, “have you ever lost a child?”

The question was unexpected, and it was thrust on a new wound; for it was only a month since a darling child of the family had been laid in the grave.

Mr. Bird turned around and walked to the window, and Mrs. Bird burst into tears; but, recovering her voice, she said,

“Why do you ask that? I have lost a little one.”

“Then you will feel for me. I have lost two, one after another,—left ’em buried there when I came away; and I had only this one left. I never slept a night without him; he was all I had. He was my comfort and pride, day and night; and, ma’am, they were going to take him away from me,—to sell him,—sell him down south, ma’am, to go all alone,—a baby that had never been away from his mother in his life! I couldn’t stand it, ma’am. I knew I never should be good for anything, if they did; and when I knew the papers the papers were signed, and he was sold, I took him and came off in the night; and they chased me,—the man that bought him, and some of Mas’r’s folks,—and they were coming down right behind me, and I heard ’em. I jumped right on to the ice; and how I got across, I don’t know,—but, first I knew, a man was helping me up the bank.”

The woman did not sob nor weep. She had gone to a place where tears are dry; but every one around her was, in some way characteristic of themselves, showing signs of hearty sympathy.

The two little boys, after a desperate rummaging in their pockets, in search of those pocket-handkerchiefs which mothers know are never to be found there, had thrown themselves disconsolately into the skirts of their mother’s gown, where they were sobbing, and wiping their eyes and noses, to their hearts’ content;—Mrs. Bird had her face fairly hidden in her pocket-handkerchief; and old Dinah, with tears streaming down her black, honest face, was ejaculating, “Lord have mercy on us!” with all the fervor of a camp-meeting;—while old Cudjoe, rubbing his eyes very hard with his cuffs, and making a most uncommon variety of wry faces, occasionally responded in the same key, with great fervor. Our senator was a statesman, and of course could not be expected to cry, like other mortals; and so he turned his back to the company, and looked out of the window, and seemed particularly busy in clearing his throat and wiping his spectacle-glasses, occasionally blowing his nose in a manner that was calculated to excite suspicion, had any one been in a state to observe critically.

“How came you to tell me you had a kind master?” he suddenly exclaimed, gulping down very resolutely some kind of rising in his throat, and turning suddenly round upon the woman.

“Because he was a kind master; I’ll say that of him, any way;—and my mistress was kind; but they couldn’t help themselves. They were owing money; and there was some way, I can’t tell how, that a man had a hold on them, and they were obliged to give him his will. I listened, and heard him telling mistress that, and she begging and pleading for me,—and he told her he couldn’t help himself, and that the papers were all drawn;—and then it was I took him and left my home, and came away. I knew ’t was no use of my trying to live, if they did it; for ’t ’pears like this child is all I have.”

“Have you no husband?”

“Yes, but he belongs to another man. His master is real hard to him, and won’t let him come to see me, hardly ever; and he’s grown harder and harder upon us, and he threatens to sell him down south;—it’s like I’ll never see him again!”

The quiet tone in which the woman pronounced these words might have led a superficial observer to think that she was entirely apathetic; but there was a calm, settled depth of anguish in her large, dark eye, that spoke of something far otherwise.

“And where do you mean to go, my poor woman?” said Mrs. Bird.

“To Canada, if I only knew where that was. Is it very far off, is Canada?” said she, looking up, with a simple, confiding air, to Mrs. Bird’s face.

“Poor thing!” said Mrs. Bird, involuntarily.

“Is ’t a very great way off, think?” said the woman, earnestly.

“Much further than you think, poor child!” said Mrs. Bird; “but we will try to think what can be done for you. Here, Dinah, make her up a bed in your own room, close by the kitchen, and I’ll think what to do for her in the morning. Meanwhile, never fear, poor woman; put your trust in God; he will protect you.”

Mrs. Bird and her husband reentered the parlor. She sat down in her little rocking-chair before the fire, swaying thoughtfully to and fro. Mr. Bird strode up and down the room, grumbling to himself, “Pish! pshaw! confounded awkward business!” At length, striding up to his wife, he said,

“I say, wife, she’ll have to get away from here, this very night. That fellow will be down on the scent bright and early tomorrow morning: if ’t was only the woman, she could lie quiet till it was over; but that little chap can’t be kept still by a troop of horse and foot, I’ll warrant me; he’ll bring it all out, popping his head out of some window or door. A pretty kettle of fish it would be for me, too, to be caught with them both here, just now! No; they’ll have to be got off tonight.”

“Tonight! How is it possible?—where to?”

“Well, I know pretty well where to,” said the senator, beginning to put on his boots, with a reflective air; and, stopping when his leg was half in, he embraced his knee with both hands, and seemed to go off in deep meditation.

“It’s a confounded awkward, ugly business,” said he, at last, beginning to tug at his boot-straps again, “and that’s a fact!” After one boot was fairly on, the senator sat with the other in his hand, profoundly studying the figure of the carpet. “It will have to be done, though, for aught I see,—hang it all!” and he drew the other boot anxiously on, and looked out of the window.

Now, little Mrs. Bird was a discreet woman,—a woman who never in her life said, “I told you so!” and, on the present occasion, though pretty well aware of the shape her husband’s meditations were taking, she very prudently forbore to meddle with them, only sat very quietly in her chair, and looked quite ready to hear her liege lord’s intentions, when he should think proper to utter them.

“You see,” he said, “there’s my old client, Van Trompe, has come over from Kentucky, and set all his slaves free; and he has bought a place seven miles up the creek, here, back in the woods, where nobody goes, unless they go on purpose; and it’s a place that isn’t found in a hurry. There she’d be safe enough; but the plague of the thing is, nobody could drive a carriage there tonight, but me.”

“Why not? Cudjoe is an excellent driver.”

“Ay, ay, but here it is. The creek has to be crossed twice; and the second crossing is quite dangerous, unless one knows it as I do. I have crossed it a hundred times on horseback, and know exactly the turns to take. And so, you see, there’s no help for it. Cudjoe must put in the horses, as quietly as may be, about twelve o’clock, and I’ll take her over; and then, to give color to the matter, he must carry me on to the next tavern to take the stage for Columbus, that comes by about three or four, and so it will look as if I had had the carriage only for that. I shall get into business bright and early in the morning. But I’m thinking I shall feel rather cheap there, after all that’s been said and done; but, hang it, I can’t help it!”

“Your heart is better than your head, in this case, John,” said the wife, laying her little white hand on his. “Could I ever have loved you, had I not known you better than you know yourself?” And the little woman looked so handsome, with the tears sparkling in her eyes, that the senator thought he must be a decidedly clever fellow, to get such a pretty creature into such a passionate admiration of him; and so, what could he do but walk off soberly, to see about the carriage. At the door, however, he stopped a moment, and then coming back, he said, with some hesitation.

“Mary, I don’t know how you’d feel about it, but there’s that drawer full of things—of—of—poor little Henry’s.” So saying, he turned quickly on his heel, and shut the door after him.

His wife opened the little bed-room door adjoining her room and, taking the candle, set it down on the top of a bureau there; then from a small recess she took a key, and put it thoughtfully in the lock of a drawer, and made a sudden pause, while two boys, who, boy like, had followed close on her heels, stood looking, with silent, significant glances, at their mother. And oh! mother that reads this, has there never been in your house a drawer, or a closet, the opening of which has been to you like the opening again of a little grave? Ah! happy mother that you are, if it has not been so.

Mrs. Bird slowly opened the drawer. There were little coats of many a form and pattern, piles of aprons, and rows of small stockings; and even a pair of little shoes, worn and rubbed at the toes, were peeping from the folds of a paper. There was a toy horse and wagon, a top, a ball,—memorials gathered with many a tear and many a heart-break! She sat down by the drawer, and, leaning her head on her hands over it, wept till the tears fell through her fingers into the drawer; then suddenly raising her head, she began, with nervous haste, selecting the plainest and most substantial articles, and gathering them into a bundle.

“Mamma,” said one of the boys, gently touching her arm, “you going to give away those things?”

“My dear boys,” she said, softly and earnestly, “if our dear, loving little Henry looks down from heaven, he would be glad to have us do this. I could not find it in my heart to give them away to any common person—to anybody that was happy; but I give them to a mother more heart-broken and sorrowful than I am; and I hope God will send his blessings with them!”

There are in this world blessed souls, whose sorrows all spring up into joys for others; whose earthly hopes, laid in the grave with many tears, are the seed from which spring healing flowers and balm for the desolate and the distressed. Among such was the delicate woman who sits there by the lamp, dropping slow tears, while she prepares the memorials of her own lost one for the outcast wanderer.

After a while, Mrs. Bird opened a wardrobe, and, taking from thence a plain, serviceable dress or two, she sat down busily to her work-table, and, with needle, scissors, and thimble, at hand, quietly commenced the “letting down” process which her husband had recommended, and continued busily at it till the old clock in the corner struck twelve, and she heard the low rattling of wheels at the door.

“Mary,” said her husband, coming in, with his overcoat in his hand, “you must wake her up now; we must be off.”

Mrs. Bird hastily deposited the various articles she had collected in a small plain trunk, and locking it, desired her husband to see it in the carriage, and then proceeded to call the woman. Soon, arrayed in a cloak, bonnet, and shawl, that had belonged to her benefactress, she appeared at the door with her child in her arms. Mr. Bird hurried her into the carriage, and Mrs. Bird pressed on after her to the carriage steps. Eliza leaned out of the carriage, and put out her hand,—a hand as soft and beautiful as was given in return. She fixed her large, dark eyes, full of earnest meaning, on Mrs. Bird’s face, and seemed going to speak. Her lips moved,—she tried once or twice, but there was no sound,—and pointing upward, with a look never to be forgotten, she fell back in the seat, and covered her face. The door was shut, and the carriage drove on.

What a situation, now, for a patriotic senator, that had been all the week before spurring up the legislature of his native state to pass more stringent resolutions against escaping fugitives, their harborers and abettors!

Our good senator in his native state had not been exceeded by any of his brethren at Washington, in the sort of eloquence which has won for them immortal renown! How sublimely he had sat with his hands in his pockets, and scouted all sentimental weakness of those who would put the welfare of a few miserable fugitives before great state interests!

He was as bold as a lion about it, and “mightily convinced” not only himself, but everybody that heard him;—but then his idea of a fugitive was only an idea of the letters that spell the word,—or at the most, the image of a little newspaper picture of a man with a stick and bundle with “Ran away from the subscriber” under it. The magic of the real presence of distress,—the imploring human eye, the frail, trembling human hand, the despairing appeal of helpless agony,—these he had never tried. He had never thought that a fugitive might be a hapless mother, a defenceless child,—like that one which was now wearing his lost boy’s little well-known cap; and so, as our poor senator was not stone or steel,—as he was a man, and a downright noble-hearted one, too,—he was, as everybody must see, in a sad case for his patriotism. And you need not exult over him, good brother of the Southern States; for we have some inklings that many of you, under similar circumstances, would not do much better. We have reason to know, in Kentucky, as in Mississippi, are noble and generous hearts, to whom never was tale of suffering told in vain. Ah, good brother! is it fair for you to expect of us services which your own brave, honorable heart would not allow you to render, were you in our place?

Be that as it may, if our good senator was a political sinner, he was in a fair way to expiate it by his night’s penance. There had been a long continuous period of rainy weather, and the soft, rich earth of Ohio, as every one knows, is admirably suited to the manufacture of mud—and the road was an Ohio railroad of the good old times.

“And pray, what sort of a road may that be?” says some eastern traveller, who has been accustomed to connect no ideas with a railroad, but those of smoothness or speed.

Know, then, innocent eastern friend, that in benighted regions of the west, where the mud is of unfathomable and sublime depth, roads are made of round rough logs, arranged transversely side by side, and coated over in their pristine freshness with earth, turf, and whatsoever may come to hand, and then the rejoicing native calleth it a road, and straightway essayeth to ride thereupon. In process of time, the rains wash off all the turf and grass aforesaid, move the logs hither and thither, in picturesque positions, up, down and crosswise, with divers chasms and ruts of black mud intervening.

Over such a road as this our senator went stumbling along, making moral reflections as continuously as under the circumstances could be expected,—the carriage proceeding along much as follows,—bump! bump! bump! slush! down in the mud!—the senator, woman and child, reversing their positions so suddenly as to come, without any very accurate adjustment, against the windows of the down-hill side. Carriage sticks fast, while Cudjoe on the outside is heard making a great muster among the horses. After various ineffectual pullings and twitchings, just as the senator is losing all patience, the carriage suddenly rights itself with a bounce,—two front wheels go down into another abyss, and senator, woman, and child, all tumble promiscuously on to the front seat,—senator’s hat is jammed over his eyes and nose quite unceremoniously, and he considers himself fairly extinguished;—child cries, and Cudjoe on the outside delivers animated addresses to the horses, who are kicking, and floundering, and straining under repeated cracks of the whip. Carriage springs up, with another bounce,—down go the hind wheels,—senator, woman, and child, fly over on to the back seat, his elbows encountering her bonnet, and both her feet being jammed into his hat, which flies off in the concussion. After a few moments the “slough” is passed, and the horses stop, panting;—the senator finds his hat, the woman straightens her bonnet and hushes her child, and they brace themselves for what is yet to come.

For a while only the continuous bump! bump! intermingled, just by way of variety, with divers side plunges and compound shakes; and they begin to flatter themselves that they are not so badly off, after all. At last, with a square plunge, which puts all on to their feet and then down into their seats with incredible quickness, the carriage stops,—and, after much outside commotion, Cudjoe appears at the door.

“Please, sir, it’s powerful bad spot, this’ yer. I don’t know how we’s to get clar out. I’m a thinkin’ we’ll have to be a gettin’ rails.”

The senator despairingly steps out, picking gingerly for some firm foothold; down goes one foot an immeasurable depth,—he tries to pull it up, loses his balance, and tumbles over into the mud, and is fished out, in a very despairing condition, by Cudjoe.

But we forbear, out of sympathy to our readers’ bones. Western travellers, who have beguiled the midnight hour in the interesting process of pulling down rail fences, to pry their carriages out of mud holes, will have a respectful and mournful sympathy with our unfortunate hero. We beg them to drop a silent tear, and pass on.

It was full late in the night when the carriage emerged, dripping and bespattered, out of the creek, and stood at the door of a large farmhouse.

It took no inconsiderable perseverance to arouse the inmates; but at last the respectable proprietor appeared, and undid the door. He was a great, tall, bristling Orson of a fellow, full six feet and some inches in his stockings, and arrayed in a red flannel hunting-shirt. A very heavy mat of sandy hair, in a decidedly tousled condition, and a beard of some days’ growth, gave the worthy man an appearance, to say the least, not particularly prepossessing. He stood for a few minutes holding the candle aloft, and blinking on our travellers with a dismal and mystified expression that was truly ludicrous. It cost some effort of our senator to induce him to comprehend the case fully; and while he is doing his best at that, we shall give him a little introduction to our readers.

Honest old John Van Trompe was once quite a considerable land-owner and slave-owner in the State of Kentucky. Having “nothing of the bear about him but the skin,” and being gifted by nature with a great, honest, just heart, quite equal to his gigantic frame, he had been for some years witnessing with repressed uneasiness the workings of a system equally bad for oppressor and oppressed. At last, one day, John’s great heart had swelled altogether too big to wear his bonds any longer; so he just took his pocket-book out of his desk, and went over into Ohio, and bought a quarter of a township of good, rich land, made out free papers for all his people,—men, women, and children,—packed them up in wagons, and sent them off to settle down; and then honest John turned his face up the creek, and sat quietly down on a snug, retired farm, to enjoy his conscience and his reflections.

“Are you the man that will shelter a poor woman and child from slave-catchers?” said the senator, explicitly.

“I rather think I am,” said honest John, with some considerable emphasis.

“I thought so,” said the senator.

“If there’s anybody comes,” said the good man, stretching his tall, muscular form upward, “why here I’m ready for him: and I’ve got seven sons, each six foot high, and they’ll be ready for ’em. Give our respects to ’em,” said John; “tell ’em it’s no matter how soon they call,—make no kinder difference to us,” said John, running his fingers through the shock of hair that thatched his head, and bursting out into a great laugh.

Weary, jaded, and spiritless, Eliza dragged herself up to the door, with her child lying in a heavy sleep on her arm. The rough man held the candle to her face, and uttering a kind of compassionate grunt, opened the door of a small bed-room adjoining to the large kitchen where they were standing, and motioned her to go in. He took down a candle, and lighting it, set it upon the table, and then addressed himself to Eliza.

“Now, I say, gal, you needn’t be a bit afeard, let who will come here. I’m up to all that sort o’ thing,” said he, pointing to two or three goodly rifles over the mantel-piece; “and most people that know me know that ’t wouldn’t be healthy to try to get anybody out o’ my house when I’m agin it. So now you jist go to sleep now, as quiet as if yer mother was a rockin’ ye,” said he, as he shut the door.

“Why, this is an uncommon handsome un,” he said to the senator. “Ah, well; handsome uns has the greatest cause to run, sometimes, if they has any kind o’ feelin, such as decent women should. I know all about that.”

The senator, in a few words, briefly explained Eliza’s history.

“O! ou! aw! now, I want to know?” said the good man, pitifully; “sho! now sho! That’s natur now, poor crittur! hunted down now like a deer,—hunted down, jest for havin’ natural feelin’s, and doin’ what no kind o’ mother could help a doin’! I tell ye what, these yer things make me come the nighest to swearin’, now, o’ most anything,” said honest John, as he wiped his eyes with the back of a great, freckled, yellow hand. “I tell yer what, stranger, it was years and years before I’d jine the church, ’cause the ministers round in our parts used to preach that the Bible went in for these ere cuttings up,—and I couldn’t be up to ’em with their Greek and Hebrew, and so I took up agin ’em, Bible and all. I never jined the church till I found a minister that was up to ’em all in Greek and all that, and he said right the contrary; and then I took right hold, and jined the church,—I did now, fact,” said John, who had been all this time uncorking some very frisky bottled cider, which at this juncture he presented.

“Ye’d better jest put up here, now, till daylight,” said he, heartily, “and I’ll call up the old woman, and have a bed got ready for you in no time.”

“Thank you, my good friend,” said the senator, “I must be along, to take the night stage for Columbus.”

“Ah! well, then, if you must, I’ll go a piece with you, and show you a cross road that will take you there better than the road you came on. That road’s mighty bad.”

John equipped himself, and, with a lantern in hand, was soon seen guiding the senator’s carriage towards a road that ran down in a hollow, back of his dwelling. When they parted, the senator put into his hand a ten-dollar bill.

“It’s for her,” he said, briefly.

“Ay, ay,” said John, with equal conciseness.

They shook hands, and parted.

CHAPTER X.
The Property Is Carried Off

The February morning looked gray and drizzling through the window of Uncle Tom’s cabin. It looked on downcast faces, the images of mournful hearts. The little table stood out before the fire, covered with an ironing-cloth; a coarse but clean shirt or two, fresh from the iron, hung on the back of a chair by the fire, and Aunt Chloe had another spread out before her on the table. Carefully she rubbed and ironed every fold and every hem, with the most scrupulous exactness, every now and then raising her hand to her face to wipe off the tears that were coursing down her cheeks.

Tom sat by, with his Testament open on his knee, and his head leaning upon his hand;—but neither spoke. It was yet early, and the children lay all asleep together in their little rude trundle-bed.

Tom, who had, to the full, the gentle, domestic heart, which woe for them! has been a peculiar characteristic of his unhappy race, got up and walked silently to look at his children.

“It’s the last time,” he said.

Aunt Chloe did not answer, only rubbed away over and over on the coarse shirt, already as smooth as hands could make it; and finally setting her iron suddenly down with a despairing plunge, she sat down to the table, and “lifted up her voice and wept.”

“S’pose we must be resigned; but oh Lord! how ken I? If I know’d anything whar you ’s goin’, or how they’d sarve you! Missis says she’ll try and ’deem ye, in a year or two; but Lor! nobody never comes up that goes down thar! They kills ’em! I’ve hearn ’em tell how dey works ’em up on dem ar plantations.”

“There’ll be the same God there, Chloe, that there is here.”

“Well,” said Aunt Chloe, “s’pose dere will; but de Lord lets drefful things happen, sometimes. I don’t seem to get no comfort dat way.”

“I’m in the Lord’s hands,” said Tom; “nothin’ can go no furder than he lets it;—and thar’s one thing I can thank him for. It’s me that’s sold and going down, and not you nur the chil’en. Here you’re safe;—what comes will come only on me; and the Lord, he’ll help me,—I know he will.”

Ah, brave, manly heart,—smothering thine own sorrow, to comfort thy beloved ones! Tom spoke with a thick utterance, and with a bitter choking in his throat,—but he spoke brave and strong.

“Let’s think on our marcies!” he added, tremulously, as if he was quite sure he needed to think on them very hard indeed.

“Marcies!” said Aunt Chloe; “don’t see no marcy in ’t! ’tan’t right! tan’t right it should be so! Mas’r never ought ter left it so that ye could be took for his debts. Ye’ve arnt him all he gets for ye, twice over. He owed ye yer freedom, and ought ter gin ’t to yer years ago. Mebbe he can’t help himself now, but I feel it’s wrong. Nothing can’t beat that ar out o’ me. Sich a faithful crittur as ye’ve been,—and allers sot his business ’fore yer own every way,—and reckoned on him more than yer own wife and chil’en! Them as sells heart’s love and heart’s blood, to get out thar scrapes, de Lord’ll be up to ’em!”

“Chloe! now, if ye love me, ye won’t talk so, when perhaps jest the last time we’ll ever have together! And I’ll tell ye, Chloe, it goes agin me to hear one word agin Mas’r. Wan’t he put in my arms a baby?—it’s natur I should think a heap of him. And he couldn’t be spected to think so much of poor Tom. Mas’rs is used to havin’ all these yer things done for ’em, and nat’lly they don’t think so much on ’t. They can’t be spected to, no way. Set him ’longside of other Mas’rs—who’s had the treatment and livin’ I’ve had? And he never would have let this yer come on me, if he could have seed it aforehand. I know he wouldn’t.”

“Wal, any way, thar’s wrong about it somewhar,” said Aunt Chloe, in whom a stubborn sense of justice was a predominant trait; “I can’t jest make out whar ’t is, but thar’s wrong somewhar, I’m clar o’ that.”

“Yer ought ter look up to the Lord above—he’s above all—thar don’t a sparrow fall without him.”

“It don’t seem to comfort me, but I spect it orter,” said Aunt Chloe. “But dar’s no use talkin’; I’ll jes wet up de corn-cake, and get ye one good breakfast, ’cause nobody knows when you’ll get another.”

In order to appreciate the sufferings of the negroes sold south, it must be remembered that all the instinctive affections of that race are peculiarly strong. Their local attachments are very abiding. They are not naturally daring and enterprising, but home-loving and affectionate. Add to this all the terrors with which ignorance invests the unknown, and add to this, again, that selling to the south is set before the negro from childhood as the last severity of punishment. The threat that terrifies more than whipping or torture of any kind is the threat of being sent down river. We have ourselves heard this feeling expressed by them, and seen the unaffected horror with which they will sit in their gossipping hours, and tell frightful stories of that “down river,” which to them is

“That undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns.”[1]

[1] A slightly inaccurate quotation from Hamlet, Act III, scene I, lines 369-370.

A missionary figure among the fugitives in Canada told us that many of the fugitives confessed themselves to have escaped from comparatively kind masters, and that they were induced to brave the perils of escape, in almost every case, by the desperate horror with which they regarded being sold south,—a doom which was hanging either over themselves or their husbands, their wives or children. This nerves the African, naturally patient, timid and unenterprising, with heroic courage, and leads him to suffer hunger, cold, pain, the perils of the wilderness, and the more dread penalties of recapture.

The simple morning meal now smoked on the table, for Mrs. Shelby had excused Aunt Chloe’s attendance at the great house that morning. The poor soul had expended all her little energies on this farewell feast,—had killed and dressed her choicest chicken, and prepared her corn-cake with scrupulous exactness, just to her husband’s taste, and brought out certain mysterious jars on the mantel-piece, some preserves that were never produced except on extreme occasions.

“Lor, Pete,” said Mose, triumphantly, “han’t we got a buster of a breakfast!” at the same time catching at a fragment of the chicken.

Aunt Chloe gave him a sudden box on the ear. “Thar now! crowing over the last breakfast yer poor daddy’s gwine to have to home!”

“O, Chloe!” said Tom, gently.

“Wal, I can’t help it,” said Aunt Chloe, hiding her face in her apron; “I ’s so tossed about it, it makes me act ugly.”

The boys stood quite still, looking first at their father and then at their mother, while the baby, climbing up her clothes, began an imperious, commanding cry.

“Thar!” said Aunt Chloe, wiping her eyes and taking up the baby; “now I’s done, I hope,—now do eat something. This yer’s my nicest chicken. Thar, boys, ye shall have some, poor critturs! Yer mammy’s been cross to yer.”

The boys needed no second invitation, and went in with great zeal for the eatables; and it was well they did so, as otherwise there would have been very little performed to any purpose by the party.

“Now,” said Aunt Chloe, bustling about after breakfast, “I must put up yer clothes. Jest like as not, he’ll take ’em all away. I know thar ways—mean as dirt, they is! Wal, now, yer flannels for rhumatis is in this corner; so be careful, ’cause there won’t nobody make ye no more. Then here’s yer old shirts, and these yer is new ones. I toed off these yer stockings last night, and put de ball in ’em to mend with. But Lor! who’ll ever mend for ye?” and Aunt Chloe, again overcome, laid her head on the box side, and sobbed. “To think on ’t! no crittur to do for ye, sick or well! I don’t railly think I ought ter be good now!”

The boys, having eaten everything there was on the breakfast-table, began now to take some thought of the case; and, seeing their mother crying, and their father looking very sad, began to whimper and put their hands to their eyes. Uncle Tom had the baby on his knee, and was letting her enjoy herself to the utmost extent, scratching his face and pulling his hair, and occasionally breaking out into clamorous explosions of delight, evidently arising out of her own internal reflections.

“Ay, crow away, poor crittur!” said Aunt Chloe; “ye’ll have to come to it, too! ye’ll live to see yer husband sold, or mebbe be sold yerself; and these yer boys, they’s to be sold, I s’pose, too, jest like as not, when dey gets good for somethin’; an’t no use in niggers havin’ nothin’!”

Here one of the boys called out, “Thar’s Missis a-comin’ in!”

“She can’t do no good; what’s she coming for?” said Aunt Chloe.

Mrs. Shelby entered. Aunt Chloe set a chair for her in a manner decidedly gruff and crusty. She did not seem to notice either the action or the manner. She looked pale and anxious.

“Tom,” she said, “I come to—” and stopping suddenly, and regarding the silent group, she sat down in the chair, and, covering her face with her handkerchief, began to sob.

“Lor, now, Missis, don’t—don’t!” said Aunt Chloe, bursting out in her turn; and for a few moments they all wept in company. And in those tears they all shed together, the high and the lowly, melted away all the heart-burnings and anger of the oppressed. O, ye who visit the distressed, do ye know that everything your money can buy, given with a cold, averted face, is not worth one honest tear shed in real sympathy?

“My good fellow,” said Mrs. Shelby, “I can’t give you anything to do you any good. If I give you money, it will only be taken from you. But I tell you solemnly, and before God, that I will keep trace of you, and bring you back as soon as I can command the money;—and, till then, trust in God!”

Here the boys called out that Mas’r Haley was coming, and then an unceremonious kick pushed open the door. Haley stood there in very ill humor, having ridden hard the night before, and being not at all pacified by his ill success in recapturing his prey.

“Come,” said he, “ye nigger, ye’r ready? Servant, ma’am!” said he, taking off his hat, as he saw Mrs. Shelby.

Aunt Chloe shut and corded the box, and, getting up, looked gruffly on the trader, her tears seeming suddenly turned to sparks of fire.

Tom rose up meekly, to follow his new master, and raised up his heavy box on his shoulder. His wife took the baby in her arms to go with him to the wagon, and the children, still crying, trailed on behind.

Mrs. Shelby, walking up to the trader, detained him for a few moments, talking with him in an earnest manner; and while she was thus talking, the whole family party proceeded to a wagon, that stood ready harnessed at the door. A crowd of all the old and young hands on the place stood gathered around it, to bid farewell to their old associate. Tom had been looked up to, both as a head servant and a Christian teacher, by all the place, and there was much honest sympathy and grief about him, particularly among the women.

“Why, Chloe, you bar it better ’n we do!” said one of the women, who had been weeping freely, noticing the gloomy calmness with which Aunt Chloe stood by the wagon.

“I’s done my tears!” she said, looking grimly at the trader, who was coming up. “I does not feel to cry ’fore dat ar old limb, no how!”

“Get in!” said Haley to Tom, as he strode through the crowd of servants, who looked at him with lowering brows.

Tom got in, and Haley, drawing out from under the wagon seat a heavy pair of shackles, made them fast around each ankle.

A smothered groan of indignation ran through the whole circle, and Mrs. Shelby spoke from the verandah,—“Mr. Haley, I assure you that precaution is entirely unnecessary.”

“Don’ know, ma’am; I’ve lost one five hundred dollars from this yer place, and I can’t afford to run no more risks.”

“What else could she spect on him?” said Aunt Chloe, indignantly, while the two boys, who now seemed to comprehend at once their father’s destiny, clung to her gown, sobbing and groaning vehemently.

“I’m sorry,” said Tom, “that Mas’r George happened to be away.”

George had gone to spend two or three days with a companion on a neighboring estate, and having departed early in the morning, before Tom’s misfortune had been made public, had left without hearing of it.

“Give my love to Mas’r George,” he said, earnestly.

Haley whipped up the horse, and, with a steady, mournful look, fixed to the last on the old place, Tom was whirled away.

Mr. Shelby at this time was not at home. He had sold Tom under the spur of a driving necessity, to get out of the power of a man whom he dreaded,—and his first feeling, after the consummation of the bargain, had been that of relief. But his wife’s expostulations awoke his half-slumbering regrets; and Tom’s manly disinterestedness increased the unpleasantness of his feelings. It was in vain that he said to himself that he had a right to do it,—that everybody did it,—and that some did it without even the excuse of necessity;—he could not satisfy his own feelings; and that he might not witness the unpleasant scenes of the consummation, he had gone on a short business tour up the country, hoping that all would be over before he returned.

Tom and Haley rattled on along the dusty road, whirling past every old familiar spot, until the bounds of the estate were fairly passed, and they found themselves out on the open pike. After they had ridden about a mile, Haley suddenly drew up at the door of a blacksmith’s shop, when, taking out with him a pair of handcuffs, he stepped into the shop, to have a little alteration in them.

“These yer ’s a little too small for his build,” said Haley, showing the fetters, and pointing out to Tom.

“Lor! now, if thar an’t Shelby’s Tom. He han’t sold him, now?” said the smith.

“Yes, he has,” said Haley.

“Now, ye don’t! well, reely,” said the smith, “who’d a thought it! Why, ye needn’t go to fetterin’ him up this yer way. He’s the faithfullest, best crittur—”

“Yes, yes,” said Haley; “but your good fellers are just the critturs to want ter run off. Them stupid ones, as doesn’t care whar they go, and shifless, drunken ones, as don’t care for nothin’, they’ll stick by, and like as not be rather pleased to be toted round; but these yer prime fellers, they hates it like sin. No way but to fetter ’em; got legs,—they’ll use ’em,—no mistake.”

“Well,” said the smith, feeling among his tools, “them plantations down thar, stranger, an’t jest the place a Kentuck nigger wants to go to; they dies thar tol’able fast, don’t they?”

“Wal, yes, tol’able fast, ther dying is; what with the ’climating and one thing and another, they dies so as to keep the market up pretty brisk,” said Haley.

“Wal, now, a feller can’t help thinkin’ it’s a mighty pity to have a nice, quiet, likely feller, as good un as Tom is, go down to be fairly ground up on one of them ar sugar plantations.”

“Wal, he’s got a fa’r chance. I promised to do well by him. I’ll get him in house-servant in some good old family, and then, if he stands the fever and ’climating, he’ll have a berth good as any nigger ought ter ask for.”

“He leaves his wife and chil’en up here, s’pose?”

“Yes; but he’ll get another thar. Lord, thar’s women enough everywhar,” said Haley.

Tom was sitting very mournfully on the outside of the shop while this conversation was going on. Suddenly he heard the quick, short click of a horse’s hoof behind him; and, before he could fairly awake from his surprise, young Master George sprang into the wagon, threw his arms tumultuously round his neck, and was sobbing and scolding with energy.

“I declare, it’s real mean! I don’t care what they say, any of ’em! It’s a nasty, mean shame! If I was a man, they shouldn’t do it,—they should not, so!” said George, with a kind of subdued howl.

“O! Mas’r George! this does me good!” said Tom. “I couldn’t bar to go off without seein’ ye! It does me real good, ye can’t tell!” Here Tom made some movement of his feet, and George’s eye fell on the fetters.

“What a shame!” he exclaimed, lifting his hands. “I’ll knock that old fellow down—I will!”

“No you won’t, Mas’r George; and you must not talk so loud. It won’t help me any, to anger him.”

“Well, I won’t, then, for your sake; but only to think of it—isn’t it a shame? They never sent for me, nor sent me any word, and, if it hadn’t been for Tom Lincon, I shouldn’t have heard it. I tell you, I blew ’em up well, all of ’em, at home!”

“That ar wasn’t right, I’m ’feard, Mas’r George.”

“Can’t help it! I say it’s a shame! Look here, Uncle Tom,” said he, turning his back to the shop, and speaking in a mysterious tone, “I’ve brought you my dollar!”

“O! I couldn’t think o’ takin’ on ’t, Mas’r George, no ways in the world!” said Tom, quite moved.

“But you shall take it!” said George; “look here—I told Aunt Chloe I’d do it, and she advised me just to make a hole in it, and put a string through, so you could hang it round your neck, and keep it out of sight; else this mean scamp would take it away. I tell ye, Tom, I want to blow him up! it would do me good!”

“No, don’t Mas’r George, for it won’t do me any good.”

“Well, I won’t, for your sake,” said George, busily tying his dollar round Tom’s neck; “but there, now, button your coat tight over it, and keep it, and remember, every time you see it, that I’ll come down after you, and bring you back. Aunt Chloe and I have been talking about it. I told her not to fear; I’ll see to it, and I’ll tease father’s life out, if he don’t do it.”

“O! Mas’r George, ye mustn’t talk so ’bout yer father!”

“Lor, Uncle Tom, I don’t mean anything bad.”

“And now, Mas’r George,” said Tom, “ye must be a good boy; ’member how many hearts is sot on ye. Al’ays keep close to yer mother. Don’t be gettin’ into any of them foolish ways boys has of gettin’ too big to mind their mothers. Tell ye what, Mas’r George, the Lord gives good many things twice over; but he don’t give ye a mother but once. Ye’ll never see sich another woman, Mas’r George, if ye live to be a hundred years old. So, now, you hold on to her, and grow up, and be a comfort to her, thar’s my own good boy,—you will now, won’t ye?”

“Yes, I will, Uncle Tom,” said George seriously.

“And be careful of yer speaking, Mas’r George. Young boys, when they comes to your age, is wilful, sometimes—it is natur they should be. But real gentlemen, such as I hopes you’ll be, never lets fall on words that isn’t ’spectful to thar parents. Ye an’t ’fended, Mas’r George?”

“No, indeed, Uncle Tom; you always did give me good advice.”

“I’s older, ye know,” said Tom, stroking the boy’s fine, curly head with his large, strong hand, but speaking in a voice as tender as a woman’s, “and I sees all that’s bound up in you. O, Mas’r George, you has everything,—l’arnin’, privileges, readin’, writin’,—and you’ll grow up to be a great, learned, good man and all the people on the place and your mother and father’ll be so proud on ye! Be a good Mas’r, like yer father; and be a Christian, like yer mother. ’Member yer Creator in the days o’ yer youth, Mas’r George.”

“I’ll be real good, Uncle Tom, I tell you,” said George. “I’m going to be a first-rater; and don’t you be discouraged. I’ll have you back to the place, yet. As I told Aunt Chloe this morning, I’ll build our house all over, and you shall have a room for a parlor with a carpet on it, when I’m a man. O, you’ll have good times yet!”

Haley now came to the door, with the handcuffs in his hands.

“Look here, now, Mister,” said George, with an air of great superiority, as he got out, “I shall let father and mother know how you treat Uncle Tom!”

“You’re welcome,” said the trader.

“I should think you’d be ashamed to spend all your life buying men and women, and chaining them, like cattle! I should think you’d feel mean!” said George.

“So long as your grand folks wants to buy men and women, I’m as good as they is,” said Haley; “‘tan’t any meaner sellin’ on ’em, that ’t is buyin’!”

“I’ll never do either, when I’m a man,” said George; “I’m ashamed, this day, that I’m a Kentuckian. I always was proud of it before;” and George sat very straight on his horse, and looked round with an air, as if he expected the state would be impressed with his opinion.

“Well, good-by, Uncle Tom; keep a stiff upper lip,” said George.

“Good-by, Mas’r George,” said Tom, looking fondly and admiringly at him. “God Almighty bless you! Ah! Kentucky han’t got many like you!” he said, in the fulness of his heart, as the frank, boyish face was lost to his view. Away he went, and Tom looked, till the clatter of his horse’s heels died away, the last sound or sight of his home. But over his heart there seemed to be a warm spot, where those young hands had placed that precious dollar. Tom put up his hand, and held it close to his heart.

“Now, I tell ye what, Tom,” said Haley, as he came up to the wagon, and threw in the handcuffs, “I mean to start fa’r with ye, as I gen’ally do with my niggers; and I’ll tell ye now, to begin with, you treat me fa’r, and I’ll treat you fa’r; I an’t never hard on my niggers. Calculates to do the best for ’em I can. Now, ye see, you’d better jest settle down comfortable, and not be tryin’ no tricks; because nigger’s tricks of all sorts I’m up to, and it’s no use. If niggers is quiet, and don’t try to get off, they has good times with me; and if they don’t, why, it’s thar fault, and not mine.”

Tom assured Haley that he had no present intentions of running off. In fact, the exhortation seemed rather a superfluous one to a man with a great pair of iron fetters on his feet. But Mr. Haley had got in the habit of commencing his relations with his stock with little exhortations of this nature, calculated, as he deemed, to inspire cheerfulness and confidence, and prevent the necessity of any unpleasant scenes.

And here, for the present, we take our leave of Tom, to pursue the fortunes of other characters in our story.