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Uncle Tom's Cabin

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CHAPTER XXI.
Kentuck

Our readers may not be unwilling to glance back, for a brief interval, at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, on the Kentucky farm, and see what has been transpiring among those whom he had left behind.

It was late in the summer afternoon, and the doors and windows of the large parlor all stood open, to invite any stray breeze, that might feel in a good humor, to enter. Mr. Shelby sat in a large hall opening into the room, and running through the whole length of the house, to a balcony on either end. Leisurely tipped back on one chair, with his heels in another, he was enjoying his after-dinner cigar. Mrs. Shelby sat in the door, busy about some fine sewing; she seemed like one who had something on her mind, which she was seeking an opportunity to introduce.

“Do you know,” she said, “that Chloe has had a letter from Tom?”

“Ah! has she? Tom ’s got some friend there, it seems. How is the old boy?”

“He has been bought by a very fine family, I should think,” said Mrs. Shelby,—“is kindly treated, and has not much to do.”

“Ah! well, I’m glad of it,—very glad,” said Mr. Shelby, heartily. “Tom, I suppose, will get reconciled to a Southern residence;—hardly want to come up here again.”

“On the contrary he inquires very anxiously,” said Mrs. Shelby, “when the money for his redemption is to be raised.”

“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Mr. Shelby. “Once get business running wrong, there does seem to be no end to it. It’s like jumping from one bog to another, all through a swamp; borrow of one to pay another, and then borrow of another to pay one,—and these confounded notes falling due before a man has time to smoke a cigar and turn round,—dunning letters and dunning messages,—all scamper and hurry-scurry.”

“It does seem to me, my dear, that something might be done to straighten matters. Suppose we sell off all the horses, and sell one of your farms, and pay up square?”

“O, ridiculous, Emily! You are the finest woman in Kentucky; but still you haven’t sense to know that you don’t understand business;—women never do, and never can.

“But, at least,” said Mrs. Shelby, “could not you give me some little insight into yours; a list of all your debts, at least, and of all that is owed to you, and let me try and see if I can’t help you to economize.”

“O, bother! don’t plague me, Emily!—I can’t tell exactly. I know somewhere about what things are likely to be; but there’s no trimming and squaring my affairs, as Chloe trims crust off her pies. You don’t know anything about business, I tell you.”

And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his ideas, raised his voice,—a mode of arguing very convenient and convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with his wife.

Mrs. Shelby ceased talking, with something of a sigh. The fact was, that though her husband had stated she was a woman, she had a clear, energetic, practical mind, and a force of character every way superior to that of her husband; so that it would not have been so very absurd a supposition, to have allowed her capable of managing, as Mr. Shelby supposed. Her heart was set on performing her promise to Tom and Aunt Chloe, and she sighed as discouragements thickened around her.

“Don’t you think we might in some way contrive to raise that money? Poor Aunt Chloe! her heart is so set on it!”

“I’m sorry, if it is. I think I was premature in promising. I’m not sure, now, but it’s the best way to tell Chloe, and let her make up her mind to it. Tom’ll have another wife, in a year or two; and she had better take up with somebody else.”

“Mr. Shelby, I have taught my people that their marriages are as sacred as ours. I never could think of giving Chloe such advice.”

“It’s a pity, wife, that you have burdened them with a morality above their condition and prospects. I always thought so.”

“It’s only the morality of the Bible, Mr. Shelby.”

“Well, well, Emily, I don’t pretend to interfere with your religious notions; only they seem extremely unfitted for people in that condition.”

“They are, indeed,” said Mrs. Shelby, “and that is why, from my soul, I hate the whole thing. I tell you, my dear, I cannot absolve myself from the promises I make to these helpless creatures. If I can get the money no other way I will take music-scholars;—I could get enough, I know, and earn the money myself.”

“You wouldn’t degrade yourself that way, Emily? I never could consent to it.”

“Degrade! would it degrade me as much as to break my faith with the helpless? No, indeed!”

“Well, you are always heroic and transcendental,” said Mr. Shelby, “but I think you had better think before you undertake such a piece of Quixotism.”

Here the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of Aunt Chloe, at the end of the verandah.

“If you please, Missis,” said she.

“Well, Chloe, what is it?” said her mistress, rising, and going to the end of the balcony.

“If Missis would come and look at dis yer lot o’ poetry.”

Chloe had a particular fancy for calling poultry poetry,—an application of language in which she always persisted, notwithstanding frequent corrections and advisings from the young members of the family.

“La sakes!” she would say, “I can’t see; one jis good as turry,—poetry suthin good, any how;” and so poetry Chloe continued to call it.

Mrs. Shelby smiled as she saw a prostrate lot of chickens and ducks, over which Chloe stood, with a very grave face of consideration.

“I’m a thinkin whether Missis would be a havin a chicken pie o’ dese yer.”

“Really, Aunt Chloe, I don’t much care;—serve them any way you like.”

Chloe stood handling them over abstractedly; it was quite evident that the chickens were not what she was thinking of. At last, with the short laugh with which her tribe often introduce a doubtful proposal, she said,

“Laws me, Missis! what should Mas’r and Missis be a troublin theirselves ’bout de money, and not a usin what’s right in der hands?” and Chloe laughed again.

“I don’t understand you, Chloe,” said Mrs. Shelby, nothing doubting, from her knowledge of Chloe’s manner, that she had heard every word of the conversation that had passed between her and her husband.

“Why, laws me, Missis!” said Chloe, laughing again, “other folks hires out der niggers and makes money on ’em! Don’t keep sich a tribe eatin ’em out of house and home.”

“Well, Chloe, who do you propose that we should hire out?”

“Laws! I an’t a proposin nothin; only Sam he said der was one of dese yer perfectioners, dey calls ’em, in Louisville, said he wanted a good hand at cake and pastry; and said he’d give four dollars a week to one, he did.”

“Well, Chloe.”

“Well, laws, I ’s a thinkin, Missis, it’s time Sally was put along to be doin’ something. Sally ’s been under my care, now, dis some time, and she does most as well as me, considerin; and if Missis would only let me go, I would help fetch up de money. I an’t afraid to put my cake, nor pies nother, ’long side no perfectioner’s.

“Confectioner’s, Chloe.”

“Law sakes, Missis! ’tan’t no odds;—words is so curis, can’t never get ’em right!”

“But, Chloe, do you want to leave your children?”

“Laws, Missis! de boys is big enough to do day’s works; dey does well enough; and Sally, she’ll take de baby,—she’s such a peart young un, she won’t take no lookin arter.”

“Louisville is a good way off.”

“Law sakes! who’s afeard?—it’s down river, somer near my old man, perhaps?” said Chloe, speaking the last in the tone of a question, and looking at Mrs. Shelby.

“No, Chloe; it’s many a hundred miles off,” said Mrs. Shelby.

Chloe’s countenance fell.

“Never mind; your going there shall bring you nearer, Chloe. Yes, you may go; and your wages shall every cent of them be laid aside for your husband’s redemption.”

As when a bright sunbeam turns a dark cloud to silver, so Chloe’s dark face brightened immediately,—it really shone.

“Laws! if Missis isn’t too good! I was thinking of dat ar very thing; cause I shouldn’t need no clothes, nor shoes, nor nothin,—I could save every cent. How many weeks is der in a year, Missis?”

“Fifty-two,” said Mrs. Shelby.

“Laws! now, dere is? and four dollars for each on em. Why, how much ’d dat ar be?”

“Two hundred and eight dollars,” said Mrs. Shelby.

“Why-e!” said Chloe, with an accent of surprise and delight; “and how long would it take me to work it out, Missis?”

“Some four or five years, Chloe; but, then, you needn’t do it all,—I shall add something to it.”

“I wouldn’t hear to Missis’ givin lessons nor nothin. Mas’r’s quite right in dat ar;—‘t wouldn’t do, no ways. I hope none our family ever be brought to dat ar, while I ’s got hands.”

“Don’t fear, Chloe; I’ll take care of the honor of the family,” said Mrs. Shelby, smiling. “But when do you expect to go?”

“Well, I want spectin nothin; only Sam, he’s a gwine to de river with some colts, and he said I could go ’long with him; so I jes put my things together. If Missis was willin, I’d go with Sam tomorrow morning, if Missis would write my pass, and write me a commendation.”

“Well, Chloe, I’ll attend to it, if Mr. Shelby has no objections. I must speak to him.”

Mrs. Shelby went up stairs, and Aunt Chloe, delighted, went out to her cabin, to make her preparation.

“Law sakes, Mas’r George! ye didn’t know I ’s a gwine to Louisville tomorrow!” she said to George, as entering her cabin, he found her busy in sorting over her baby’s clothes. “I thought I’d jis look over sis’s things, and get ’em straightened up. But I’m gwine, Mas’r George,—gwine to have four dollars a week; and Missis is gwine to lay it all up, to buy back my old man agin!”

“Whew!” said George, “here’s a stroke of business, to be sure! How are you going?”

“Tomorrow, wid Sam. And now, Mas’r George, I knows you’ll jis sit down and write to my old man, and tell him all about it,—won’t ye?”

“To be sure,” said George; “Uncle Tom’ll be right glad to hear from us. I’ll go right in the house, for paper and ink; and then, you know, Aunt Chloe, I can tell about the new colts and all.”

“Sartin, sartin, Mas’r George; you go ’long, and I’ll get ye up a bit o’ chicken, or some sich; ye won’t have many more suppers wid yer poor old aunty.”

CHAPTER XXII.
“The Grass Withereth—the Flower Fadeth”

Life passes, with us all, a day at a time; so it passed with our friend Tom, till two years were gone. Though parted from all his soul held dear, and though often yearning for what lay beyond, still was he never positively and consciously miserable; for, so well is the harp of human feeling strung, that nothing but a crash that breaks every string can wholly mar its harmony; and, on looking back to seasons which in review appear to us as those of deprivation and trial, we can remember that each hour, as it glided, brought its diversions and alleviations, so that, though not happy wholly, we were not, either, wholly miserable.

Tom read, in his only literary cabinet, of one who had “learned in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content.” It seemed to him good and reasonable doctrine, and accorded well with the settled and thoughtful habit which he had acquired from the reading of that same book.

His letter homeward, as we related in the last chapter, was in due time answered by Master George, in a good, round, school-boy hand, that Tom said might be read “most acrost the room.” It contained various refreshing items of home intelligence, with which our reader is fully acquainted: stated how Aunt Chloe had been hired out to a confectioner in Louisville, where her skill in the pastry line was gaining wonderful sums of money, all of which, Tom was informed, was to be laid up to go to make up the sum of his redemption money; Mose and Pete were thriving, and the baby was trotting all about the house, under the care of Sally and the family generally.

Tom’s cabin was shut up for the present; but George expatiated brilliantly on ornaments and additions to be made to it when Tom came back.

The rest of this letter gave a list of George’s school studies, each one headed by a flourishing capital; and also told the names of four new colts that appeared on the premises since Tom left; and stated, in the same connection, that father and mother were well. The style of the letter was decidedly concise and terse; but Tom thought it the most wonderful specimen of composition that had appeared in modern times. He was never tired of looking at it, and even held a council with Eva on the expediency of getting it framed, to hang up in his room. Nothing but the difficulty of arranging it so that both sides of the page would show at once stood in the way of this undertaking.

The friendship between Tom and Eva had grown with the child’s growth. It would be hard to say what place she held in the soft, impressible heart of her faithful attendant. He loved her as something frail and earthly, yet almost worshipped her as something heavenly and divine. He gazed on her as the Italian sailor gazes on his image of the child Jesus,—with a mixture of reverence and tenderness; and to humor her graceful fancies, and meet those thousand simple wants which invest childhood like a many-colored rainbow, was Tom’s chief delight. In the market, at morning, his eyes were always on the flower-stalls for rare bouquets for her, and the choicest peach or orange was slipped into his pocket to give to her when he came back; and the sight that pleased him most was her sunny head looking out the gate for his distant approach, and her childish questions,—“Well, Uncle Tom, what have you got for me today?”

Nor was Eva less zealous in kind offices, in return. Though a child, she was a beautiful reader;—a fine musical ear, a quick poetic fancy, and an instinctive sympathy with what’s grand and noble, made her such a reader of the Bible as Tom had never before heard. At first, she read to please her humble friend; but soon her own earnest nature threw out its tendrils, and wound itself around the majestic book; and Eva loved it, because it woke in her strange yearnings, and strong, dim emotions, such as impassioned, imaginative children love to feel.

The parts that pleased her most were the Revelations and the Prophecies,—parts whose dim and wondrous imagery, and fervent language, impressed her the more, that she questioned vainly of their meaning;—and she and her simple friend, the old child and the young one, felt just alike about it. All that they knew was, that they spoke of a glory to be revealed,—a wondrous something yet to come, wherein their soul rejoiced, yet knew not why; and though it be not so in the physical, yet in moral science that which cannot be understood is not always profitless. For the soul awakes, a trembling stranger, between two dim eternities,—the eternal past, the eternal future. The light shines only on a small space around her; therefore, she needs must yearn towards the unknown; and the voices and shadowy movings which come to her from out the cloudy pillar of inspiration have each one echoes and answers in her own expecting nature. Its mystic imagery are so many talismans and gems inscribed with unknown hieroglyphics; she folds them in her bosom, and expects to read them when she passes beyond the veil.

At this time in our story, the whole St. Clare establishment is, for the time being, removed to their villa on Lake Pontchartrain. The heats of summer had driven all who were able to leave the sultry and unhealthy city, to seek the shores of the lake, and its cool sea-breezes.

St. Clare’s villa was an East Indian cottage, surrounded by light verandahs of bamboo-work, and opening on all sides into gardens and pleasure-grounds. The common sitting-room opened on to a large garden, fragrant with every picturesque plant and flower of the tropics, where winding paths ran down to the very shores of the lake, whose silvery sheet of water lay there, rising and falling in the sunbeams,—a picture never for an hour the same, yet every hour more beautiful.

It is now one of those intensely golden sunsets which kindles the whole horizon into one blaze of glory, and makes the water another sky. The lake lay in rosy or golden streaks, save where white-winged vessels glided hither and thither, like so many spirits, and little golden stars twinkled through the glow, and looked down at themselves as they trembled in the water.

Tom and Eva were seated on a little mossy seat, in an arbor, at the foot of the garden. It was Sunday evening, and Eva’s Bible lay open on her knee. She read,—“And I saw a sea of glass, mingled with fire.”

“Tom,” said Eva, suddenly stopping, and pointing to the lake, “there ’t is.”

“What, Miss Eva?”

“Don’t you see,—there?” said the child, pointing to the glassy water, which, as it rose and fell, reflected the golden glow of the sky. “There’s a ’sea of glass, mingled with fire.’”

“True enough, Miss Eva,” said Tom; and Tom sang—

“O, had I the wings of the morning,
    I’d fly away to Canaan’s shore;
Bright angels should convey me home,
    To the new Jerusalem.”

“Where do you suppose new Jerusalem is, Uncle Tom?” said Eva.

“O, up in the clouds, Miss Eva.”

“Then I think I see it,” said Eva. “Look in those clouds!—they look like great gates of pearl; and you can see beyond them—far, far off—it’s all gold. Tom, sing about ’spirits bright.’”

Tom sung the words of a well-known Methodist hymn,

“I see a band of spirits bright,
    That taste the glories there;
They all are robed in spotless white,
    And conquering palms they bear.”

“Uncle Tom, I’ve seen them,” said Eva.

Tom had no doubt of it at all; it did not surprise him in the least. If Eva had told him she had been to heaven, he would have thought it entirely probable.

“They come to me sometimes in my sleep, those spirits;” and Eva’s eyes grew dreamy, and she hummed, in a low voice,

“They are all robed in spotless white,
    And conquering palms they bear.”

“Uncle Tom,” said Eva, “I’m going there.”

“Where, Miss Eva?”

The child rose, and pointed her little hand to the sky; the glow of evening lit her golden hair and flushed cheek with a kind of unearthly radiance, and her eyes were bent earnestly on the skies.

“I’m going there,” she said, “to the spirits bright, Tom; I’m going, before long.”

The faithful old heart felt a sudden thrust; and Tom thought how often he had noticed, within six months, that Eva’s little hands had grown thinner, and her skin more transparent, and her breath shorter; and how, when she ran or played in the garden, as she once could for hours, she became soon so tired and languid. He had heard Miss Ophelia speak often of a cough, that all her medicaments could not cure; and even now that fervent cheek and little hand were burning with hectic fever; and yet the thought that Eva’s words suggested had never come to him till now.

Has there ever been a child like Eva? Yes, there have been; but their names are always on grave-stones, and their sweet smiles, their heavenly eyes, their singular words and ways, are among the buried treasures of yearning hearts. In how many families do you hear the legend that all the goodness and graces of the living are nothing to the peculiar charms of one who is not. It is as if heaven had an especial band of angels, whose office it was to sojourn for a season here, and endear to them the wayward human heart, that they might bear it upward with them in their homeward flight. When you see that deep, spiritual light in the eye,—when the little soul reveals itself in words sweeter and wiser than the ordinary words of children,—hope not to retain that child; for the seal of heaven is on it, and the light of immortality looks out from its eyes.

Even so, beloved Eva! fair star of thy dwelling! Thou art passing away; but they that love thee dearest know it not.

The colloquy between Tom and Eva was interrupted by a hasty call from Miss Ophelia.

“Eva—Eva!—why, child, the dew is falling; you mustn’t be out there!”

Eva and Tom hastened in.

Miss Ophelia was old, and skilled in the tactics of nursing. She was from New England, and knew well the first guileful footsteps of that soft, insidious disease, which sweeps away so many of the fairest and loveliest, and, before one fibre of life seems broken, seals them irrevocably for death.

She had noted the slight, dry cough, the daily brightening cheek; nor could the lustre of the eye, and the airy buoyancy born of fever, deceive her.

She tried to communicate her fears to St. Clare; but he threw back her suggestions with a restless petulance, unlike his usual careless good-humor.

“Don’t be croaking, Cousin,—I hate it!” he would say; “don’t you see that the child is only growing. Children always lose strength when they grow fast.”

“But she has that cough!”

“O! nonsense of that cough!—it is not anything. She has taken a little cold, perhaps.”

“Well, that was just the way Eliza Jane was taken, and Ellen and Maria Sanders.”

“O! stop these hobgoblin’ nurse legends. You old hands got so wise, that a child cannot cough, or sneeze, but you see desperation and ruin at hand. Only take care of the child, keep her from the night air, and don’t let her play too hard, and she’ll do well enough.”

So St. Clare said; but he grew nervous and restless. He watched Eva feverishly day by day, as might be told by the frequency with which he repeated over that “the child was quite well”—that there wasn’t anything in that cough,—it was only some little stomach affection, such as children often had. But he kept by her more than before, took her oftener to ride with him, brought home every few days some receipt or strengthening mixture,—“not,” he said, “that the child needed it, but then it would not do her any harm.”

If it must be told, the thing that struck a deeper pang to his heart than anything else was the daily increasing maturity of the child’s mind and feelings. While still retaining all a child’s fanciful graces, yet she often dropped, unconsciously, words of such a reach of thought, and strange unworldly wisdom, that they seemed to be an inspiration. At such times, St. Clare would feel a sudden thrill, and clasp her in his arms, as if that fond clasp could save her; and his heart rose up with wild determination to keep her, never to let her go.

The child’s whole heart and soul seemed absorbed in works of love and kindness. Impulsively generous she had always been; but there was a touching and womanly thoughtfulness about her now, that every one noticed. She still loved to play with Topsy, and the various colored children; but she now seemed rather a spectator than an actor of their plays, and she would sit for half an hour at a time, laughing at the odd tricks of Topsy,—and then a shadow would seem to pass across her face, her eyes grew misty, and her thoughts were afar.

“Mamma,” she said, suddenly, to her mother, one day, “why don’t we teach our servants to read?”

“What a question child! People never do.”

“Why don’t they?” said Eva.

“Because it is no use for them to read. It don’t help them to work any better, and they are not made for anything else.”

“But they ought to read the Bible, mamma, to learn God’s will.”

“O! they can get that read to them all they need.”

“It seems to me, mamma, the Bible is for every one to read themselves. They need it a great many times when there is nobody to read it.”

“Eva, you are an odd child,” said her mother.

“Miss Ophelia has taught Topsy to read,” continued Eva.

“Yes, and you see how much good it does. Topsy is the worst creature I ever saw!”

“Here’s poor Mammy!” said Eva. “She does love the Bible so much, and wishes so she could read! And what will she do when I can’t read to her?”

Marie was busy, turning over the contents of a drawer, as she answered,

“Well, of course, by and by, Eva, you will have other things to think of besides reading the Bible round to servants. Not but that is very proper; I’ve done it myself, when I had health. But when you come to be dressing and going into company, you won’t have time. See here!” she added, “these jewels I’m going to give you when you come out. I wore them to my first ball. I can tell you, Eva, I made a sensation.”

Eva took the jewel-case, and lifted from it a diamond necklace. Her large, thoughtful eyes rested on them, but it was plain her thoughts were elsewhere.

“How sober you look child!” said Marie.

“Are these worth a great deal of money, mamma?”

“To be sure, they are. Father sent to France for them. They are worth a small fortune.”

“I wish I had them,” said Eva, “to do what I pleased with!”

“What would you do with them?”

“I’d sell them, and buy a place in the free states, and take all our people there, and hire teachers, to teach them to read and write.”

Eva was cut short by her mother’s laughing.

“Set up a boarding-school! Wouldn’t you teach them to play on the piano, and paint on velvet?”

“I’d teach them to read their own Bible, and write their own letters, and read letters that are written to them,” said Eva, steadily. “I know, mamma, it does come very hard on them that they can’t do these things. Tom feels it—Mammy does,—a great many of them do. I think it’s wrong.”

“Come, come, Eva; you are only a child! You don’t know anything about these things,” said Marie; “besides, your talking makes my head ache.”

Marie always had a headache on hand for any conversation that did not exactly suit her.

Eva stole away; but after that, she assiduously gave Mammy reading lessons.

CHAPTER XXIII.
Henrique

About this time, St. Clare’s brother Alfred, with his eldest son, a boy of twelve, spent a day or two with the family at the lake.

No sight could be more singular and beautiful than that of these twin brothers. Nature, instead of instituting resemblances between them, had made them opposites on every point; yet a mysterious tie seemed to unite them in a closer friendship than ordinary.

They used to saunter, arm in arm, up and down the alleys and walks of the garden. Augustine, with his blue eyes and golden hair, his ethereally flexible form and vivacious features; and Alfred, dark-eyed, with haughty Roman profile, firmly-knit limbs, and decided bearing. They were always abusing each other’s opinions and practices, and yet never a whit the less absorbed in each other’s society; in fact, the very contrariety seemed to unite them, like the attraction between opposite poles of the magnet.

Henrique, the eldest son of Alfred, was a noble, dark-eyed, princely boy, full of vivacity and spirit; and, from the first moment of introduction, seemed to be perfectly fascinated by the spirituelle graces of his cousin Evangeline.

Eva had a little pet pony, of a snowy whiteness. It was easy as a cradle, and as gentle as its little mistress; and this pony was now brought up to the back verandah by Tom, while a little mulatto boy of about thirteen led along a small black Arabian, which had just been imported, at a great expense, for Henrique.

Henrique had a boy’s pride in his new possession; and, as he advanced and took the reins out of the hands of his little groom, he looked carefully over him, and his brow darkened.

“What’s this, Dodo, you little lazy dog! you haven’t rubbed my horse down, this morning.”

“Yes, Mas’r,” said Dodo, submissively; “he got that dust on his own self.”

“You rascal, shut your mouth!” said Henrique, violently raising his riding-whip. “How dare you speak?”

The boy was a handsome, bright-eyed mulatto, of just Henrique’s size, and his curling hair hung round a high, bold forehead. He had white blood in his veins, as could be seen by the quick flush in his cheek, and the sparkle of his eye, as he eagerly tried to speak.

“Mas’r Henrique!—” he began.

Henrique struck him across the face with his riding-whip, and, seizing one of his arms, forced him on to his knees, and beat him till he was out of breath.

“There, you impudent dog! Now will you learn not to answer back when I speak to you? Take the horse back, and clean him properly. I’ll teach you your place!”

“Young Mas’r,” said Tom, “I specs what he was gwine to say was, that the horse would roll when he was bringing him up from the stable; he’s so full of spirits,—that’s the way he got that dirt on him; I looked to his cleaning.”

“You hold your tongue till you’re asked to speak!” said Henrique, turning on his heel, and walking up the steps to speak to Eva, who stood in her riding-dress.

“Dear Cousin, I’m sorry this stupid fellow has kept you waiting,” he said. “Let’s sit down here, on this seat till they come. What’s the matter, Cousin?—you look sober.”

“How could you be so cruel and wicked to poor Dodo?” asked Eva.

“Cruel,—wicked!” said the boy, with unaffected surprise. “What do you mean, dear Eva?”

“I don’t want you to call me dear Eva, when you do so,” said Eva.

“Dear Cousin, you don’t know Dodo; it’s the only way to manage him, he’s so full of lies and excuses. The only way is to put him down at once,—not let him open his mouth; that’s the way papa manages.”

“But Uncle Tom said it was an accident, and he never tells what isn’t true.”

“He’s an uncommon old nigger, then!” said Henrique. “Dodo will lie as fast as he can speak.”

“You frighten him into deceiving, if you treat him so.”

“Why, Eva, you’ve really taken such a fancy to Dodo, that I shall be jealous.”

“But you beat him,—and he didn’t deserve it.”

“O, well, it may go for some time when he does, and don’t get it. A few cuts never come amiss with Dodo,—he’s a regular spirit, I can tell you; but I won’t beat him again before you, if it troubles you.”

Eva was not satisfied, but found it in vain to try to make her handsome cousin understand her feelings.

Dodo soon appeared, with the horses.

“Well, Dodo, you’ve done pretty well, this time,” said his young master, with a more gracious air. “Come, now, and hold Miss Eva’s horse while I put her on to the saddle.”

Dodo came and stood by Eva’s pony. His face was troubled; his eyes looked as if he had been crying.

Henrique, who valued himself on his gentlemanly adroitness in all matters of gallantry, soon had his fair cousin in the saddle, and, gathering the reins, placed them in her hands.

But Eva bent to the other side of the horse, where Dodo was standing, and said, as he relinquished the reins,—“That’s a good boy, Dodo;—thank you!”

Dodo looked up in amazement into the sweet young face; the blood rushed to his cheeks, and the tears to his eyes.

“Here, Dodo,” said his master, imperiously.

Dodo sprang and held the horse, while his master mounted.

“There’s a picayune for you to buy candy with, Dodo,” said Henrique; “go get some.”

And Henrique cantered down the walk after Eva. Dodo stood looking after the two children. One had given him money; and one had given him what he wanted far more,—a kind word, kindly spoken. Dodo had been only a few months away from his mother. His master had bought him at a slave warehouse, for his handsome face, to be a match to the handsome pony; and he was now getting his breaking in, at the hands of his young master.

The scene of the beating had been witnessed by the two brothers St. Clare, from another part of the garden.

Augustine’s cheek flushed; but he only observed, with his usual sarcastic carelessness.

“I suppose that’s what we may call republican education, Alfred?”

“Henrique is a devil of a fellow, when his blood’s up,” said Alfred, carelessly.

“I suppose you consider this an instructive practice for him,” said Augustine, drily.

“I couldn’t help it, if I didn’t. Henrique is a regular little tempest;—his mother and I have given him up, long ago. But, then, that Dodo is a perfect sprite,—no amount of whipping can hurt him.”

“And this by way of teaching Henrique the first verse of a republican’s catechism, ’All men are born free and equal!’”

“Poh!” said Alfred; “one of Tom Jefferson’s pieces of French sentiment and humbug. It’s perfectly ridiculous to have that going the rounds among us, to this day.”

“I think it is,” said St. Clare, significantly.

“Because,” said Alfred, “we can see plainly enough that all men are not born free, nor born equal; they are born anything else. For my part, I think half this republican talk sheer humbug. It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the refined, who ought to have equal rights and not the canaille.”

“If you can keep the canaille of that opinion,” said Augustine. “They took their turn once, in France.”

“Of course, they must be kept down, consistently, steadily, as I should,” said Alfred, setting his foot hard down as if he were standing on somebody.

“It makes a terrible slip when they get up,” said Augustine,—“in St. Domingo, for instance.”

“Poh!” said Alfred, “we’ll take care of that, in this country. We must set our face against all this educating, elevating talk, that is getting about now; the lower class must not be educated.”

“That is past praying for,” said Augustine; “educated they will be, and we have only to say how. Our system is educating them in barbarism and brutality. We are breaking all humanizing ties, and making them brute beasts; and, if they get the upper hand, such we shall find them.”

“They shall never get the upper hand!” said Alfred.

“That’s right,” said St. Clare; “put on the steam, fasten down the escape-valve, and sit on it, and see where you’ll land.”

“Well,” said Alfred, “we will see. I’m not afraid to sit on the escape-valve, as long as the boilers are strong, and the machinery works well.”

“The nobles in Louis XVI.‘s time thought just so; and Austria and Pius IX. think so now; and, some pleasant morning, you may all be caught up to meet each other in the air, when the boilers burst.”

“Dies declarabit,” said Alfred, laughing.

“I tell you,” said Augustine, “if there is anything that is revealed with the strength of a divine law in our times, it is that the masses are to rise, and the under class become the upper one.”

“That’s one of your red republican humbugs, Augustine! Why didn’t you ever take to the stump;—you’d make a famous stump orator! Well, I hope I shall be dead before this millennium of your greasy masses comes on.”

“Greasy or not greasy, they will govern you, when their time comes,” said Augustine; “and they will be just such rulers as you make them. The French noblesse chose to have the people ’sans culottes,’ and they had ’sans culotte’ governors to their hearts’ content. The people of Hayti—”

“O, come, Augustine! as if we hadn’t had enough of that abominable, contemptible Hayti![1] The Haytiens were not Anglo Saxons; if they had been there would have been another story. The Anglo Saxon is the dominant race of the world, and is to be so.”

[1] In August 1791, as a consequence of the French Revolution, the black slaves and mulattoes on Haiti rose in revolt against the whites, and in the period of turmoil that followed enormous cruelties were practised by both sides. The “Emperor” Dessalines, come to power in 1804, massacred all the whites on the island. Haitian bloodshed became an argument to show the barbarous nature of the Negro, a doctrine Wendell Phillips sought to combat in his celebrated lecture on Toussaint L’Ouverture.

“Well, there is a pretty fair infusion of Anglo Saxon blood among our slaves, now,” said Augustine. “There are plenty among them who have only enough of the African to give a sort of tropical warmth and fervor to our calculating firmness and foresight. If ever the San Domingo hour comes, Anglo Saxon blood will lead on the day. Sons of white fathers, with all our haughty feelings burning in their veins, will not always be bought and sold and traded. They will rise, and raise with them their mother’s race.”

“Stuff!—nonsense!”

“Well,” said Augustine, “there goes an old saying to this effect, ’As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be;—they ate, they drank, they planted, they builded, and knew not till the flood came and took them.’”

“On the whole, Augustine, I think your talents might do for a circuit rider,” said Alfred, laughing. “Never you fear for us; possession is our nine points. We’ve got the power. This subject race,” said he, stamping firmly, “is down and shall stay down! We have energy enough to manage our own powder.”

“Sons trained like your Henrique will be grand guardians of your powder-magazines,” said Augustine,—“so cool and self-possessed! The proverb says, ’They that cannot govern themselves cannot govern others.’”

“There is a trouble there” said Alfred, thoughtfully; “there’s no doubt that our system is a difficult one to train children under. It gives too free scope to the passions, altogether, which, in our climate, are hot enough. I find trouble with Henrique. The boy is generous and warm-hearted, but a perfect fire-cracker when excited. I believe I shall send him North for his education, where obedience is more fashionable, and where he will associate more with equals, and less with dependents.”

“Since training children is the staple work of the human race,” said Augustine, “I should think it something of a consideration that our system does not work well there.”

“It does not for some things,” said Alfred; “for others, again, it does. It makes boys manly and courageous; and the very vices of an abject race tend to strengthen in them the opposite virtues. I think Henrique, now, has a keener sense of the beauty of truth, from seeing lying and deception the universal badge of slavery.”

“A Christian-like view of the subject, certainly!” said Augustine.

“It’s true, Christian-like or not; and is about as Christian-like as most other things in the world,” said Alfred.

“That may be,” said St. Clare.

“Well, there’s no use in talking, Augustine. I believe we’ve been round and round this old track five hundred times, more or less. What do you say to a game of backgammon?”

The two brothers ran up the verandah steps, and were soon seated at a light bamboo stand, with the backgammon-board between them. As they were setting their men, Alfred said,

“I tell you, Augustine, if I thought as you do, I should do something.”

“I dare say you would,—you are one of the doing sort,—but what?”

“Why, elevate your own servants, for a specimen,” said Alfred, with a half-scornful smile.

“You might as well set Mount Ætna on them flat, and tell them to stand up under it, as tell me to elevate my servants under all the superincumbent mass of society upon them. One man can do nothing, against the whole action of a community. Education, to do anything, must be a state education; or there must be enough agreed in it to make a current.”

“You take the first throw,” said Alfred; and the brothers were soon lost in the game, and heard no more till the scraping of horses’ feet was heard under the verandah.

“There come the children,” said Augustine, rising. “Look here, Alf! Did you ever see anything so beautiful?” And, in truth, it was a beautiful sight. Henrique, with his bold brow, and dark, glossy curls, and glowing cheek, was laughing gayly as he bent towards his fair cousin, as they came on. She was dressed in a blue riding dress, with a cap of the same color. Exercise had given a brilliant hue to her cheeks, and heightened the effect of her singularly transparent skin, and golden hair.

“Good heavens! what perfectly dazzling beauty!” said Alfred. “I tell you, Auguste, won’t she make some hearts ache, one of these days?”

“She will, too truly,—God knows I’m afraid so!” said St. Clare, in a tone of sudden bitterness, as he hurried down to take her off her horse.

“Eva darling! you’re not much tired?” he said, as he clasped her in his arms.

“No, papa,” said the child; but her short, hard breathing alarmed her father.

“How could you ride so fast, dear?—you know it’s bad for you.”

“I felt so well, papa, and liked it so much, I forgot.”

St. Clare carried her in his arms into the parlor, and laid her on the sofa.

“Henrique, you must be careful of Eva,” said he; “you mustn’t ride fast with her.”

“I’ll take her under my care,” said Henrique, seating himself by the sofa, and taking Eva’s hand.

Eva soon found herself much better. Her father and uncle resumed their game, and the children were left together.

“Do you know, Eva, I’m sorry papa is only going to stay two days here, and then I shan’t see you again for ever so long! If I stay with you, I’d try to be good, and not be cross to Dodo, and so on. I don’t mean to treat Dodo ill; but, you know, I’ve got such a quick temper. I’m not really bad to him, though. I give him a picayune, now and then; and you see he dresses well. I think, on the whole, Dodo ’s pretty well off.”

“Would you think you were well off, if there were not one creature in the world near you to love you?”

“I?—Well, of course not.”

“And you have taken Dodo away from all the friends he ever had, and now he has not a creature to love him;—nobody can be good that way.”

“Well, I can’t help it, as I know of. I can’t get his mother and I can’t love him myself, nor anybody else, as I know of.”

“Why can’t you?” said Eva.

“Love Dodo! Why, Eva, you wouldn’t have me! I may like him well enough; but you don’t love your servants.”

“I do, indeed.”

“How odd!”

“Don’t the Bible say we must love everybody?”

“O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many such things; but, then, nobody ever thinks of doing them,—you know, Eva, nobody does.”

Eva did not speak; her eyes were fixed and thoughtful for a few moments.

“At any rate,” she said, “dear Cousin, do love poor Dodo, and be kind to him, for my sake!”

“I could love anything, for your sake, dear Cousin; for I really think you are the loveliest creature that I ever saw!” And Henrique spoke with an earnestness that flushed his handsome face. Eva received it with perfect simplicity, without even a change of feature; merely saying, “I’m glad you feel so, dear Henrique! I hope you will remember.”

The dinner-bell put an end to the interview.

CHAPTER XXIV.
Foreshadowings

Two days after this, Alfred St. Clare and Augustine parted; and Eva, who had been stimulated, by the society of her young cousin, to exertions beyond her strength, began to fail rapidly. St. Clare was at last willing to call in medical advice,—a thing from which he had always shrunk, because it was the admission of an unwelcome truth.

But, for a day or two, Eva was so unwell as to be confined to the house; and the doctor was called.

Marie St. Clare had taken no notice of the child’s gradually decaying health and strength, because she was completely absorbed in studying out two or three new forms of disease to which she believed she herself was a victim. It was the first principle of Marie’s belief that nobody ever was or could be so great a sufferer as herself; and, therefore, she always repelled quite indignantly any suggestion that any one around her could be sick. She was always sure, in such a case, that it was nothing but laziness, or want of energy; and that, if they had had the suffering she had, they would soon know the difference.

Miss Ophelia had several times tried to awaken her maternal fears about Eva; but to no avail.

“I don’t see as anything ails the child,” she would say; “she runs about, and plays.”

“But she has a cough.”

“Cough! you don’t need to tell me about a cough. I’ve always been subject to a cough, all my days. When I was of Eva’s age, they thought I was in a consumption. Night after night, Mammy used to sit up with me. O! Eva’s cough is not anything.”

“But she gets weak, and is short-breathed.”

“Law! I’ve had that, years and years; it’s only a nervous affection.”

“But she sweats so, nights!”

“Well, I have, these ten years. Very often, night after night, my clothes will be wringing wet. There won’t be a dry thread in my night-clothes and the sheets will be so that Mammy has to hang them up to dry! Eva doesn’t sweat anything like that!”

Miss Ophelia shut her mouth for a season. But, now that Eva was fairly and visibly prostrated, and a doctor called, Marie, all on a sudden, took a new turn.

“She knew it,” she said; “she always felt it, that she was destined to be the most miserable of mothers. Here she was, with her wretched health, and her only darling child going down to the grave before her eyes;”—and Marie routed up Mammy nights, and rumpussed and scolded, with more energy than ever, all day, on the strength of this new misery.

“My dear Marie, don’t talk so!” said St. Clare. “You ought not to give up the case so, at once.”

“You have not a mother’s feelings, St. Clare! You never could understand me!—you don’t now.”

“But don’t talk so, as if it were a gone case!”

“I can’t take it as indifferently as you can, St. Clare. If you don’t feel when your only child is in this alarming state, I do. It’s a blow too much for me, with all I was bearing before.”

“It’s true,” said St. Clare, “that Eva is very delicate, that I always knew; and that she has grown so rapidly as to exhaust her strength; and that her situation is critical. But just now she is only prostrated by the heat of the weather, and by the excitement of her cousin’s visit, and the exertions she made. The physician says there is room for hope.”

“Well, of course, if you can look on the bright side, pray do; it’s a mercy if people haven’t sensitive feelings, in this world. I am sure I wish I didn’t feel as I do; it only makes me completely wretched! I wish I could be as easy as the rest of you!”

And the “rest of them” had good reason to breathe the same prayer, for Marie paraded her new misery as the reason and apology for all sorts of inflictions on every one about her. Every word that was spoken by anybody, everything that was done or was not done everywhere, was only a new proof that she was surrounded by hard-hearted, insensible beings, who were unmindful of her peculiar sorrows. Poor Eva heard some of these speeches; and nearly cried her little eyes out, in pity for her mamma, and in sorrow that she should make her so much distress.

In a week or two, there was a great improvement of symptoms,—one of those deceitful lulls, by which her inexorable disease so often beguiles the anxious heart, even on the verge of the grave. Eva’s step was again in the garden,—in the balconies; she played and laughed again,—and her father, in a transport, declared that they should soon have her as hearty as anybody. Miss Ophelia and the physician alone felt no encouragement from this illusive truce. There was one other heart, too, that felt the same certainty, and that was the little heart of Eva. What is it that sometimes speaks in the soul so calmly, so clearly, that its earthly time is short? Is it the secret instinct of decaying nature, or the soul’s impulsive throb, as immortality draws on? Be it what it may, it rested in the heart of Eva, a calm, sweet, prophetic certainty that Heaven was near; calm as the light of sunset, sweet as the bright stillness of autumn, there her little heart reposed, only troubled by sorrow for those who loved her so dearly.

For the child, though nursed so tenderly, and though life was unfolding before her with every brightness that love and wealth could give, had no regret for herself in dying.

In that book which she and her simple old friend had read so much together, she had seen and taken to her young heart the image of one who loved the little child; and, as she gazed and mused, He had ceased to be an image and a picture of the distant past, and come to be a living, all-surrounding reality. His love enfolded her childish heart with more than mortal tenderness; and it was to Him, she said, she was going, and to his home.

But her heart yearned with sad tenderness for all that she was to leave behind. Her father most,—for Eva, though she never distinctly thought so, had an instinctive perception that she was more in his heart than any other. She loved her mother because she was so loving a creature, and all the selfishness that she had seen in her only saddened and perplexed her; for she had a child’s implicit trust that her mother could not do wrong. There was something about her that Eva never could make out; and she always smoothed it over with thinking that, after all, it was mamma, and she loved her very dearly indeed.

She felt, too, for those fond, faithful servants, to whom she was as daylight and sunshine. Children do not usually generalize; but Eva was an uncommonly mature child, and the things that she had witnessed of the evils of the system under which they were living had fallen, one by one, into the depths of her thoughtful, pondering heart. She had vague longings to do something for them,—to bless and save not only them, but all in their condition,—longings that contrasted sadly with the feebleness of her little frame.

“Uncle Tom,” she said, one day, when she was reading to her friend, “I can understand why Jesus wanted to die for us.”

“Why, Miss Eva?”

“Because I’ve felt so, too.”

“What is it Miss Eva?—I don’t understand.”

“I can’t tell you; but, when I saw those poor creatures on the boat, you know, when you came up and I,—some had lost their mothers, and some their husbands, and some mothers cried for their little children—and when I heard about poor Prue,—oh, wasn’t that dreadful!—and a great many other times, I’ve felt that I would be glad to die, if my dying could stop all this misery. I would die for them, Tom, if I could,” said the child, earnestly, laying her little thin hand on his.

Tom looked at the child with awe; and when she, hearing her father’s voice, glided away, he wiped his eyes many times, as he looked after her.

“It’s jest no use tryin’ to keep Miss Eva here,” he said to Mammy, whom he met a moment after. “She’s got the Lord’s mark in her forehead.”

“Ah, yes, yes,” said Mammy, raising her hands; “I’ve allers said so. She wasn’t never like a child that’s to live—there was allers something deep in her eyes. I’ve told Missis so, many the time; it’s a comin’ true,—we all sees it,—dear, little, blessed lamb!”

Eva came tripping up the verandah steps to her father. It was late in the afternoon, and the rays of the sun formed a kind of glory behind her, as she came forward in her white dress, with her golden hair and glowing cheeks, her eyes unnaturally bright with the slow fever that burned in her veins.

St. Clare had called her to show a statuette that he had been buying for her; but her appearance, as she came on, impressed him suddenly and painfully. There is a kind of beauty so intense, yet so fragile, that we cannot bear to look at it. Her father folded her suddenly in his arms, and almost forgot what he was going to tell her.

“Eva, dear, you are better now-a-days,—are you not?”

“Papa,” said Eva, with sudden firmness “I’ve had things I wanted to say to you, a great while. I want to say them now, before I get weaker.”

St. Clare trembled as Eva seated herself in his lap. She laid her head on his bosom, and said,

“It’s all no use, papa, to keep it to myself any longer. The time is coming that I am going to leave you. I am going, and never to come back!” and Eva sobbed.

“O, now, my dear little Eva!” said St. Clare, trembling as he spoke, but speaking cheerfully, “you’ve got nervous and low-spirited; you mustn’t indulge such gloomy thoughts. See here, I’ve bought a statuette for you!”

“No, papa,” said Eva, putting it gently away, “don’t deceive yourself!—I am not any better, I know it perfectly well,—and I am going, before long. I am not nervous,—I am not low-spirited. If it were not for you, papa, and my friends, I should be perfectly happy. I want to go,—I long to go!”

“Why, dear child, what has made your poor little heart so sad? You have had everything, to make you happy, that could be given you.”

“I had rather be in heaven; though, only for my friends’ sake, I would be willing to live. There are a great many things here that make me sad, that seem dreadful to me; I had rather be there; but I don’t want to leave you,—it almost breaks my heart!”

“What makes you sad, and seems dreadful, Eva?”

“O, things that are done, and done all the time. I feel sad for our poor people; they love me dearly, and they are all good and kind to me. I wish, papa, they were all free.”

“Why, Eva, child, don’t you think they are well enough off now?”

“O, but, papa, if anything should happen to you, what would become of them? There are very few men like you, papa. Uncle Alfred isn’t like you, and mamma isn’t; and then, think of poor old Prue’s owners! What horrid things people do, and can do!” and Eva shuddered.

“My dear child, you are too sensitive. I’m sorry I ever let you hear such stories.”

“O, that’s what troubles me, papa. You want me to live so happy, and never to have any pain,—never suffer anything,—not even hear a sad story, when other poor creatures have nothing but pain and sorrow, all their lives;—it seems selfish. I ought to know such things, I ought to feel about them! Such things always sunk into my heart; they went down deep; I’ve thought and thought about them. Papa, isn’t there any way to have all slaves made free?”

“That’s a difficult question, dearest. There’s no doubt that this way is a very bad one; a great many people think so; I do myself; I heartily wish that there were not a slave in the land; but, then, I don’t know what is to be done about it!”

“Papa, you are such a good man, and so noble, and kind, and you always have a way of saying things that is so pleasant, couldn’t you go all round and try to persuade people to do right about this? When I am dead, papa, then you will think of me, and do it for my sake. I would do it, if I could.”

“When you are dead, Eva,” said St. Clare, passionately. “O, child, don’t talk to me so! You are all I have on earth.”

“Poor old Prue’s child was all that she had,—and yet she had to hear it crying, and she couldn’t help it! Papa, these poor creatures love their children as much as you do me. O! do something for them! There’s poor Mammy loves her children; I’ve seen her cry when she talked about them. And Tom loves his children; and it’s dreadful, papa, that such things are happening, all the time!”

“There, there, darling,” said St. Clare, soothingly; “only don’t distress yourself, don’t talk of dying, and I will do anything you wish.”

“And promise me, dear father, that Tom shall have his freedom as soon as”—she stopped, and said, in a hesitating tone—“I am gone!”

“Yes, dear, I will do anything in the world,—anything you could ask me to.”

“Dear papa,” said the child, laying her burning cheek against his, “how I wish we could go together!”

“Where, dearest?” said St. Clare.

“To our Saviour’s home; it’s so sweet and peaceful there—it is all so loving there!” The child spoke unconsciously, as of a place where she had often been. “Don’t you want to go, papa?” she said.

St. Clare drew her closer to him, but was silent.

“You will come to me,” said the child, speaking in a voice of calm certainty which she often used unconsciously.

“I shall come after you. I shall not forget you.”

The shadows of the solemn evening closed round them deeper and deeper, as St. Clare sat silently holding the little frail form to his bosom. He saw no more the deep eyes, but the voice came over him as a spirit voice, and, as in a sort of judgment vision, his whole past life rose in a moment before his eyes: his mother’s prayers and hymns; his own early yearnings and aspirings for good; and, between them and this hour, years of worldliness and scepticism, and what man calls respectable living. We can think much, very much, in a moment. St. Clare saw and felt many things, but spoke nothing; and, as it grew darker, he took his child to her bed-room; and, when she was prepared for rest; he sent away the attendants, and rocked her in his arms, and sung to her till she was asleep.

CHAPTER XXV.
The Little Evangelist

It was Sunday afternoon. St. Clare was stretched on a bamboo lounge in the verandah, solacing himself with a cigar. Marie lay reclined on a sofa, opposite the window opening on the verandah, closely secluded, under an awning of transparent gauze, from the outrages of the mosquitos, and languidly holding in her hand an elegantly bound prayer-book. She was holding it because it was Sunday, and she imagined she had been reading it,—though, in fact, she had been only taking a succession of short naps, with it open in her hand.

Miss Ophelia, who, after some rummaging, had hunted up a small Methodist meeting within riding distance, had gone out, with Tom as driver, to attend it; and Eva had accompanied them.

“I say, Augustine,” said Marie after dozing a while, “I must send to the city after my old Doctor Posey; I’m sure I’ve got the complaint of the heart.”

“Well; why need you send for him? This doctor that attends Eva seems skilful.”

“I would not trust him in a critical case,” said Marie; “and I think I may say mine is becoming so! I’ve been thinking of it, these two or three nights past; I have such distressing pains, and such strange feelings.”

“O, Marie, you are blue; I don’t believe it’s heart complaint.”

“I dare say you don’t,” said Marie; “I was prepared to expect that. You can be alarmed enough, if Eva coughs, or has the least thing the matter with her; but you never think of me.”

“If it’s particularly agreeable to you to have heart disease, why, I’ll try and maintain you have it,” said St. Clare; “I didn’t know it was.”

“Well, I only hope you won’t be sorry for this, when it’s too late!” said Marie; “but, believe it or not, my distress about Eva, and the exertions I have made with that dear child, have developed what I have long suspected.”

What the exertions were which Marie referred to, it would have been difficult to state. St. Clare quietly made this commentary to himself, and went on smoking, like a hard-hearted wretch of a man as he was, till a carriage drove up before the verandah, and Eva and Miss Ophelia alighted.

Miss Ophelia marched straight to her own chamber, to put away her bonnet and shawl, as was always her manner, before she spoke a word on any subject; while Eva came, at St. Clare’s call, and was sitting on his knee, giving him an account of the services they had heard.

They soon heard loud exclamations from Miss Ophelia’s room, which, like the one in which they were sitting, opened on to the verandah and violent reproof addressed to somebody.

“What new witchcraft has Tops been brewing?” asked St. Clare. “That commotion is of her raising, I’ll be bound!”

And, in a moment after, Miss Ophelia, in high indignation, came dragging the culprit along.

“Come out here, now!” she said. “I will tell your master!”

“What’s the case now?” asked Augustine.

“The case is, that I cannot be plagued with this child, any longer! It’s past all bearing; flesh and blood cannot endure it! Here, I locked her up, and gave her a hymn to study; and what does she do, but spy out where I put my key, and has gone to my bureau, and got a bonnet-trimming, and cut it all to pieces to make dolls’ jackets! I never saw anything like it, in my life!”

“I told you, Cousin,” said Marie, “that you’d find out that these creatures can’t be brought up without severity. If I had my way, now,” she said, looking reproachfully at St. Clare, “I’d send that child out, and have her thoroughly whipped; I’d have her whipped till she couldn’t stand!”

“I don’t doubt it,” said St. Clare. “Tell me of the lovely rule of woman! I never saw above a dozen women that wouldn’t half kill a horse, or a servant, either, if they had their own way with them!—let alone a man.”

“There is no use in this shilly-shally way of yours, St. Clare!” said Marie. “Cousin is a woman of sense, and she sees it now, as plain as I do.”

Miss Ophelia had just the capability of indignation that belongs to the thorough-paced housekeeper, and this had been pretty actively roused by the artifice and wastefulness of the child; in fact, many of my lady readers must own that they should have felt just so in her circumstances; but Marie’s words went beyond her, and she felt less heat.

“I wouldn’t have the child treated so, for the world,” she said; “but, I am sure, Augustine, I don’t know what to do. I’ve taught and taught; I’ve talked till I’m tired; I’ve whipped her; I’ve punished her in every way I can think of, and she’s just what she was at first.”

“Come here, Tops, you monkey!” said St. Clare, calling the child up to him.

Topsy came up; her round, hard eyes glittering and blinking with a mixture of apprehensiveness and their usual odd drollery.

“What makes you behave so?” said St. Clare, who could not help being amused with the child’s expression.

“Spects it’s my wicked heart,” said Topsy, demurely; “Miss Feely says so.”

“Don’t you see how much Miss Ophelia has done for you? She says she has done everything she can think of.”

“Lor, yes, Mas’r! old Missis used to say so, too. She whipped me a heap harder, and used to pull my har, and knock my head agin the door; but it didn’t do me no good! I spects, if they ’s to pull every spire o’ har out o’ my head, it wouldn’t do no good, neither,—I ’s so wicked! Laws! I ’s nothin but a nigger, no ways!”

“Well, I shall have to give her up,” said Miss Ophelia; “I can’t have that trouble any longer.”

“Well, I’d just like to ask one question,” said St. Clare.

“What is it?”

“Why, if your Gospel is not strong enough to save one heathen child, that you can have at home here, all to yourself, what’s the use of sending one or two poor missionaries off with it among thousands of just such? I suppose this child is about a fair sample of what thousands of your heathen are.”

Miss Ophelia did not make an immediate answer; and Eva, who had stood a silent spectator of the scene thus far, made a silent sign to Topsy to follow her. There was a little glass-room at the corner of the verandah, which St. Clare used as a sort of reading-room; and Eva and Topsy disappeared into this place.

“What’s Eva going about, now?” said St. Clare; “I mean to see.”

And, advancing on tiptoe, he lifted up a curtain that covered the glass-door, and looked in. In a moment, laying his finger on his lips, he made a silent gesture to Miss Ophelia to come and look. There sat the two children on the floor, with their side faces towards them. Topsy, with her usual air of careless drollery and unconcern; but, opposite to her, Eva, her whole face fervent with feeling, and tears in her large eyes.

“What does make you so bad, Topsy? Why won’t you try and be good? Don’t you love anybody, Topsy?”

“Donno nothing ’bout love; I loves candy and sich, that’s all,” said Topsy.

“But you love your father and mother?”

“Never had none, ye know. I telled ye that, Miss Eva.”

“O, I know,” said Eva, sadly; “but hadn’t you any brother, or sister, or aunt, or—”

“No, none on ’em,—never had nothing nor nobody.”

“But, Topsy, if you’d only try to be good, you might—”

“Couldn’t never be nothin’ but a nigger, if I was ever so good,” said Topsy. “If I could be skinned, and come white, I’d try then.”

“But people can love you, if you are black, Topsy. Miss Ophelia would love you, if you were good.”

Topsy gave the short, blunt laugh that was her common mode of expressing incredulity.

“Don’t you think so?” said Eva.

“No; she can’t bar me, ’cause I’m a nigger!—she’d ’s soon have a toad touch her! There can’t nobody love niggers, and niggers can’t do nothin’! I don’t care,” said Topsy, beginning to whistle.

“O, Topsy, poor child, I love you!” said Eva, with a sudden burst of feeling, and laying her little thin, white hand on Topsy’s shoulder; “I love you, because you haven’t had any father, or mother, or friends;—because you’ve been a poor, abused child! I love you, and I want you to be good. I am very unwell, Topsy, and I think I shan’t live a great while; and it really grieves me, to have you be so naughty. I wish you would try to be good, for my sake;—it’s only a little while I shall be with you.”

The round, keen eyes of the black child were overcast with tears;—large, bright drops rolled heavily down, one by one, and fell on the little white hand. Yes, in that moment, a ray of real belief, a ray of heavenly love, had penetrated the darkness of her heathen soul! She laid her head down between her knees, and wept and sobbed,—while the beautiful child, bending over her, looked like the picture of some bright angel stooping to reclaim a sinner.

“Poor Topsy!” said Eva, “don’t you know that Jesus loves all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me. He loves you just as I do,—only more, because he is better. He will help you to be good; and you can go to Heaven at last, and be an angel forever, just as much as if you were white. Only think of it, Topsy!—you can be one of those spirits bright, Uncle Tom sings about.”

“O, dear Miss Eva, dear Miss Eva!” said the child; “I will try, I will try; I never did care nothin’ about it before.”

St. Clare, at this instant, dropped the curtain. “It puts me in mind of mother,” he said to Miss Ophelia. “It is true what she told me; if we want to give sight to the blind, we must be willing to do as Christ did,—call them to us, and put our hands on them.”

“I’ve always had a prejudice against negroes,” said Miss Ophelia, “and it’s a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me; but, I don’t think she knew it.”

“Trust any child to find that out,” said St. Clare; “there’s no keeping it from them. But I believe that all the trying in the world to benefit a child, and all the substantial favors you can do them, will never excite one emotion of gratitude, while that feeling of repugnance remains in the heart;—it’s a queer kind of a fact,—but so it is.”

“I don’t know how I can help it,” said Miss Ophelia; “they are disagreeable to me,—this child in particular,—how can I help feeling so?”

“Eva does, it seems.”

“Well, she’s so loving! After all, though, she’s no more than Christ-like,” said Miss Ophelia; “I wish I were like her. She might teach me a lesson.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time a little child had been used to instruct an old disciple, if it were so,” said St. Clare.