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Uncle Tom's Cabin

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CHAPTER XXVI.
Death

Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb,
In life’s early morning, hath hid from our eyes.

Eva’s bed-room was a spacious apartment, which, like all the other rooms in the house, opened on to the broad verandah. The room communicated, on one side, with her father and mother’s apartment; on the other, with that appropriated to Miss Ophelia. St. Clare had gratified his own eye and taste, in furnishing this room in a style that had a peculiar keeping with the character of her for whom it was intended. The windows were hung with curtains of rose-colored and white muslin, the floor was spread with a matting which had been ordered in Paris, to a pattern of his own device, having round it a border of rose-buds and leaves, and a centre-piece with full-flown roses. The bedstead, chairs, and lounges, were of bamboo, wrought in peculiarly graceful and fanciful patterns. Over the head of the bed was an alabaster bracket, on which a beautiful sculptured angel stood, with drooping wings, holding out a crown of myrtle-leaves. From this depended, over the bed, light curtains of rose-colored gauze, striped with silver, supplying that protection from mosquitos which is an indispensable addition to all sleeping accommodation in that climate. The graceful bamboo lounges were amply supplied with cushions of rose-colored damask, while over them, depending from the hands of sculptured figures, were gauze curtains similar to those of the bed. A light, fanciful bamboo table stood in the middle of the room, where a Parian vase, wrought in the shape of a white lily, with its buds, stood, ever filled with flowers. On this table lay Eva’s books and little trinkets, with an elegantly wrought alabaster writing-stand, which her father had supplied to her when he saw her trying to improve herself in writing. There was a fireplace in the room, and on the marble mantle above stood a beautifully wrought statuette of Jesus receiving little children, and on either side marble vases, for which it was Tom’s pride and delight to offer bouquets every morning. Two or three exquisite paintings of children, in various attitudes, embellished the wall. In short, the eye could turn nowhere without meeting images of childhood, of beauty, and of peace. Those little eyes never opened, in the morning light, without falling on something which suggested to the heart soothing and beautiful thoughts.

The deceitful strength which had buoyed Eva up for a little while was fast passing away; seldom and more seldom her light footstep was heard in the verandah, and oftener and oftener she was found reclined on a little lounge by the open window, her large, deep eyes fixed on the rising and falling waters of the lake.

It was towards the middle of the afternoon, as she was so reclining,—her Bible half open, her little transparent fingers lying listlessly between the leaves,—suddenly she heard her mother’s voice, in sharp tones, in the verandah.

“What now, you baggage!—what new piece of mischief! You’ve been picking the flowers, hey?” and Eva heard the sound of a smart slap.

“Law, Missis! they ’s for Miss Eva,” she heard a voice say, which she knew belonged to Topsy.

“Miss Eva! A pretty excuse!—you suppose she wants your flowers, you good-for-nothing nigger! Get along off with you!”

In a moment, Eva was off from her lounge, and in the verandah.

“O, don’t, mother! I should like the flowers; do give them to me; I want them!”

“Why, Eva, your room is full now.”

“I can’t have too many,” said Eva. “Topsy, do bring them here.”

Topsy, who had stood sullenly, holding down her head, now came up and offered her flowers. She did it with a look of hesitation and bashfulness, quite unlike the eldrich boldness and brightness which was usual with her.

“It’s a beautiful bouquet!” said Eva, looking at it.

It was rather a singular one,—a brilliant scarlet geranium, and one single white japonica, with its glossy leaves. It was tied up with an evident eye to the contrast of color, and the arrangement of every leaf had carefully been studied.

Topsy looked pleased, as Eva said,—“Topsy, you arrange flowers very prettily. Here,” she said, “is this vase I haven’t any flowers for. I wish you’d arrange something every day for it.”

“Well, that’s odd!” said Marie. “What in the world do you want that for?”

“Never mind, mamma; you’d as lief as not Topsy should do it,—had you not?”

“Of course, anything you please, dear! Topsy, you hear your young mistress;—see that you mind.”

Topsy made a short courtesy, and looked down; and, as she turned away, Eva saw a tear roll down her dark cheek.

“You see, mamma, I knew poor Topsy wanted to do something for me,” said Eva to her mother.

“O, nonsense! it’s only because she likes to do mischief. She knows she mustn’t pick flowers,—so she does it; that’s all there is to it. But, if you fancy to have her pluck them, so be it.”

“Mamma, I think Topsy is different from what she used to be; she’s trying to be a good girl.”

“She’ll have to try a good while before she gets to be good,” said Marie, with a careless laugh.

“Well, you know, mamma, poor Topsy! everything has always been against her.”

“Not since she’s been here, I’m sure. If she hasn’t been talked to, and preached to, and every earthly thing done that anybody could do;—and she’s just so ugly, and always will be; you can’t make anything of the creature!”

“But, mamma, it’s so different to be brought up as I’ve been, with so many friends, so many things to make me good and happy; and to be brought up as she’s been, all the time, till she came here!”

“Most likely,” said Marie, yawning,—“dear me, how hot it is!”

“Mamma, you believe, don’t you, that Topsy could become an angel, as well as any of us, if she were a Christian?”

“Topsy! what a ridiculous idea! Nobody but you would ever think of it. I suppose she could, though.”

“But, mamma, isn’t God her father, as much as ours? Isn’t Jesus her Saviour?”

“Well, that may be. I suppose God made everybody,” said Marie. “Where is my smelling-bottle?”

“It’s such a pity,—oh! such a pity!” said Eva, looking out on the distant lake, and speaking half to herself.

“What’s a pity?” said Marie.

“Why, that any one, who could be a bright angel, and live with angels, should go all down, down down, and nobody help them!—oh dear!”

“Well, we can’t help it; it’s no use worrying, Eva! I don’t know what’s to be done; we ought to be thankful for our own advantages.”

“I hardly can be,” said Eva, “I’m so sorry to think of poor folks that haven’t any.”

“That’s odd enough,” said Marie;—“I’m sure my religion makes me thankful for my advantages.”

“Mamma,” said Eva, “I want to have some of my hair cut off,—a good deal of it.”

“What for?” said Marie.

“Mamma, I want to give some away to my friends, while I am able to give it to them myself. Won’t you ask aunty to come and cut it for me?”

Marie raised her voice, and called Miss Ophelia, from the other room.

The child half rose from her pillow as she came in, and, shaking down her long golden-brown curls, said, rather playfully, “Come aunty, shear the sheep!”

“What’s that?” said St. Clare, who just then entered with some fruit he had been out to get for her.

“Papa, I just want aunty to cut off some of my hair;—there’s too much of it, and it makes my head hot. Besides, I want to give some of it away.”

Miss Ophelia came, with her scissors.

“Take care,—don’t spoil the looks of it!” said her father; “cut underneath, where it won’t show. Eva’s curls are my pride.”

“O, papa!” said Eva, sadly.

“Yes, and I want them kept handsome against the time I take you up to your uncle’s plantation, to see Cousin Henrique,” said St. Clare, in a gay tone.

“I shall never go there, papa;—I am going to a better country. O, do believe me! Don’t you see, papa, that I get weaker, every day?”

“Why do you insist that I shall believe such a cruel thing, Eva?” said her father.

“Only because it is true, papa: and, if you will believe it now, perhaps you will get to feel about it as I do.”

St. Clare closed his lips, and stood gloomily eying the long, beautiful curls, which, as they were separated from the child’s head, were laid, one by one, in her lap. She raised them up, looked earnestly at them, twined them around her thin fingers, and looked from time to time, anxiously at her father.

“It’s just what I’ve been foreboding!” said Marie; “it’s just what has been preying on my health, from day to day, bringing me downward to the grave, though nobody regards it. I have seen this, long. St. Clare, you will see, after a while, that I was right.”

“Which will afford you great consolation, no doubt!” said St. Clare, in a dry, bitter tone.

Marie lay back on a lounge, and covered her face with her cambric handkerchief.

Eva’s clear blue eye looked earnestly from one to the other. It was the calm, comprehending gaze of a soul half loosed from its earthly bonds; it was evident she saw, felt, and appreciated, the difference between the two.

She beckoned with her hand to her father. He came and sat down by her.

“Papa, my strength fades away every day, and I know I must go. There are some things I want to say and do,—that I ought to do; and you are so unwilling to have me speak a word on this subject. But it must come; there’s no putting it off. Do be willing I should speak now!”

“My child, I am willing!” said St. Clare, covering his eyes with one hand, and holding up Eva’s hand with the other.

“Then, I want to see all our people together. I have some things I must say to them,” said Eva.

“Well,” said St. Clare, in a tone of dry endurance.

Miss Ophelia despatched a messenger, and soon the whole of the servants were convened in the room.

Eva lay back on her pillows; her hair hanging loosely about her face, her crimson cheeks contrasting painfully with the intense whiteness of her complexion and the thin contour of her limbs and features, and her large, soul-like eyes fixed earnestly on every one.

The servants were struck with a sudden emotion. The spiritual face, the long locks of hair cut off and lying by her, her father’s averted face, and Marie’s sobs, struck at once upon the feelings of a sensitive and impressible race; and, as they came in, they looked one on another, sighed, and shook their heads. There was a deep silence, like that of a funeral.

Eva raised herself, and looked long and earnestly round at every one. All looked sad and apprehensive. Many of the women hid their faces in their aprons.

“I sent for you all, my dear friends,” said Eva, “because I love you. I love you all; and I have something to say to you, which I want you always to remember. . . . I am going to leave you. In a few more weeks you will see me no more—”

Here the child was interrupted by bursts of groans, sobs, and lamentations, which broke from all present, and in which her slender voice was lost entirely. She waited a moment, and then, speaking in a tone that checked the sobs of all, she said,

“If you love me, you must not interrupt me so. Listen to what I say. I want to speak to you about your souls. . . . Many of you, I am afraid, are very careless. You are thinking only about this world. I want you to remember that there is a beautiful world, where Jesus is. I am going there, and you can go there. It is for you, as much as me. But, if you want to go there, you must not live idle, careless, thoughtless lives. You must be Christians. You must remember that each one of you can become angels, and be angels forever. . . . If you want to be Christians, Jesus will help you. You must pray to him; you must read—”

The child checked herself, looked piteously at them, and said, sorrowfully,

“O dear! you can’t read—poor souls!” and she hid her face in the pillow and sobbed, while many a smothered sob from those she was addressing, who were kneeling on the floor, aroused her.

“Never mind,” she said, raising her face and smiling brightly through her tears, “I have prayed for you; and I know Jesus will help you, even if you can’t read. Try all to do the best you can; pray every day; ask Him to help you, and get the Bible read to you whenever you can; and I think I shall see you all in heaven.”

“Amen,” was the murmured response from the lips of Tom and Mammy, and some of the elder ones, who belonged to the Methodist church. The younger and more thoughtless ones, for the time completely overcome, were sobbing, with their heads bowed upon their knees.

“I know,” said Eva, “you all love me.”

“Yes; oh, yes! indeed we do! Lord bless her!” was the involuntary answer of all.

“Yes, I know you do! There isn’t one of you that hasn’t always been very kind to me; and I want to give you something that, when you look at, you shall always remember me, I’m going to give all of you a curl of my hair; and, when you look at it, think that I loved you and am gone to heaven, and that I want to see you all there.”

It is impossible to describe the scene, as, with tears and sobs, they gathered round the little creature, and took from her hands what seemed to them a last mark of her love. They fell on their knees; they sobbed, and prayed, and kissed the hem of her garment; and the elder ones poured forth words of endearment, mingled in prayers and blessings, after the manner of their susceptible race.

As each one took their gift, Miss Ophelia, who was apprehensive for the effect of all this excitement on her little patient, signed to each one to pass out of the apartment.

At last, all were gone but Tom and Mammy.

“Here, Uncle Tom,” said Eva, “is a beautiful one for you. O, I am so happy, Uncle Tom, to think I shall see you in heaven,—for I’m sure I shall; and Mammy,—dear, good, kind Mammy!” she said, fondly throwing her arms round her old nurse,—“I know you’ll be there, too.”

“O, Miss Eva, don’t see how I can live without ye, no how!” said the faithful creature. “‘Pears like it’s just taking everything off the place to oncet!” and Mammy gave way to a passion of grief.

Miss Ophelia pushed her and Tom gently from the apartment, and thought they were all gone; but, as she turned, Topsy was standing there.

“Where did you start up from?” she said, suddenly.

“I was here,” said Topsy, wiping the tears from her eyes. “O, Miss Eva, I’ve been a bad girl; but won’t you give me one, too?”

“Yes, poor Topsy! to be sure, I will. There—every time you look at that, think that I love you, and wanted you to be a good girl!”

“O, Miss Eva, I is tryin!” said Topsy, earnestly; “but, Lor, it’s so hard to be good! ’Pears like I an’t used to it, no ways!”

“Jesus knows it, Topsy; he is sorry for you; he will help you.”

Topsy, with her eyes hid in her apron, was silently passed from the apartment by Miss Ophelia; but, as she went, she hid the precious curl in her bosom.

All being gone, Miss Ophelia shut the door. That worthy lady had wiped away many tears of her own, during the scene; but concern for the consequence of such an excitement to her young charge was uppermost in her mind.

St. Clare had been sitting, during the whole time, with his hand shading his eyes, in the same attitude.

When they were all gone, he sat so still.

“Papa!” said Eva, gently, laying her hand on his.

He gave a sudden start and shiver; but made no answer.

“Dear papa!” said Eva.

“I cannot,” said St. Clare, rising, “I cannot have it so! The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me!” and St. Clare pronounced these words with a bitter emphasis, indeed.

“Augustine! has not God a right to do what he will with his own?” said Miss Ophelia.

“Perhaps so; but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear,” said he, with a dry, hard, tearless manner, as he turned away.

“Papa, you break my heart!” said Eva, rising and throwing herself into his arms; “you must not feel so!” and the child sobbed and wept with a violence which alarmed them all, and turned her father’s thoughts at once to another channel.

“There, Eva,—there, dearest! Hush! hush! I was wrong; I was wicked. I will feel any way, do any way,—only don’t distress yourself; don’t sob so. I will be resigned; I was wicked to speak as I did.”

Eva soon lay like a wearied dove in her father’s arms; and he, bending over her, soothed her by every tender word he could think of.

Marie rose and threw herself out of the apartment into her own, when she fell into violent hysterics.

“You didn’t give me a curl, Eva,” said her father, smiling sadly.

“They are all yours, papa,” said she, smiling—“yours and mamma’s; and you must give dear aunty as many as she wants. I only gave them to our poor people myself, because you know, papa, they might be forgotten when I am gone, and because I hoped it might help them remember. . . . You are a Christian, are you not, papa?” said Eva, doubtfully.

“Why do you ask me?”

“I don’t know. You are so good, I don’t see how you can help it.”

“What is being a Christian, Eva?”

“Loving Christ most of all,” said Eva.

“Do you, Eva?”

“Certainly I do.”

“You never saw him,” said St. Clare.

“That makes no difference,” said Eva. “I believe him, and in a few days I shall see him;” and the young face grew fervent, radiant with joy.

St. Clare said no more. It was a feeling which he had seen before in his mother; but no chord within vibrated to it.

Eva, after this, declined rapidly; there was no more any doubt of the event; the fondest hope could not be blinded. Her beautiful room was avowedly a sick room; and Miss Ophelia day and night performed the duties of a nurse,—and never did her friends appreciate her value more than in that capacity. With so well-trained a hand and eye, such perfect adroitness and practice in every art which could promote neatness and comfort, and keep out of sight every disagreeable incident of sickness,—with such a perfect sense of time, such a clear, untroubled head, such exact accuracy in remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors,—she was everything to him. They who had shrugged their shoulders at her little peculiarities and setnesses, so unlike the careless freedom of southern manners, acknowledged that now she was the exact person that was wanted.

Uncle Tom was much in Eva’s room. The child suffered much from nervous restlessness, and it was a relief to her to be carried; and it was Tom’s greatest delight to carry her little frail form in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now out into the verandah; and when the fresh sea-breezes blew from the lake,—and the child felt freshest in the morning,—he would sometimes walk with her under the orange-trees in the garden, or, sitting down in some of their old seats, sing to her their favorite old hymns.

Her father often did the same thing; but his frame was slighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him,

“O, papa, let Tom take me. Poor fellow! it pleases him; and you know it’s all he can do now, and he wants to do something!”

“So do I, Eva!” said her father.

“Well, papa, you can do everything, and are everything to me. You read to me,—you sit up nights,—and Tom has only this one thing, and his singing; and I know, too, he does it easier than you can. He carries me so strong!”

The desire to do something was not confined to Tom. Every servant in the establishment showed the same feeling, and in their way did what they could.

Poor Mammy’s heart yearned towards her darling; but she found no opportunity, night or day, as Marie declared that the state of her mind was such, it was impossible for her to rest; and, of course, it was against her principles to let any one else rest. Twenty times in a night, Mammy would be roused to rub her feet, to bathe her head, to find her pocket-handkerchief, to see what the noise was in Eva’s room, to let down a curtain because it was too light, or to put it up because it was too dark; and, in the daytime, when she longed to have some share in the nursing of her pet, Marie seemed unusually ingenious in keeping her busy anywhere and everywhere all over the house, or about her own person; so that stolen interviews and momentary glimpses were all she could obtain.

“I feel it my duty to be particularly careful of myself, now,” she would say, “feeble as I am, and with the whole care and nursing of that dear child upon me.”

“Indeed, my dear,” said St. Clare, “I thought our cousin relieved you of that.”

“You talk like a man, St. Clare,—just as if a mother could be relieved of the care of a child in that state; but, then, it’s all alike,—no one ever knows what I feel! I can’t throw things off, as you do.”

St. Clare smiled. You must excuse him, he couldn’t help it,—for St. Clare could smile yet. For so bright and placid was the farewell voyage of the little spirit,—by such sweet and fragrant breezes was the small bark borne towards the heavenly shores,—that it was impossible to realize that it was death that was approaching. The child felt no pain,—only a tranquil, soft weakness, daily and almost insensibly increasing; and she was so beautiful, so loving, so trustful, so happy, that one could not resist the soothing influence of that air of innocence and peace which seemed to breathe around her. St. Clare found a strange calm coming over him. It was not hope,—that was impossible; it was not resignation; it was only a calm resting in the present, which seemed so beautiful that he wished to think of no future. It was like that hush of spirit which we feel amid the bright, mild woods of autumn, when the bright hectic flush is on the trees, and the last lingering flowers by the brook; and we joy in it all the more, because we know that soon it will all pass away.

The friend who knew most of Eva’s own imaginings and foreshadowings was her faithful bearer, Tom. To him she said what she would not disturb her father by saying. To him she imparted those mysterious intimations which the soul feels, as the cords begin to unbind, ere it leaves its clay forever.

Tom, at last, would not sleep in his room, but lay all night in the outer verandah, ready to rouse at every call.

“Uncle Tom, what alive have you taken to sleeping anywhere and everywhere, like a dog, for?” said Miss Ophelia. “I thought you was one of the orderly sort, that liked to lie in bed in a Christian way.”

“I do, Miss Feely,” said Tom, mysteriously. “I do, but now—”

“Well, what now?”

“We mustn’t speak loud; Mas’r St. Clare won’t hear on ’t; but Miss Feely, you know there must be somebody watchin’ for the bridegroom.”

“What do you mean, Tom?”

“You know it says in Scripture, ‘At midnight there was a great cry made. Behold, the bridegroom cometh.’ That’s what I’m spectin now, every night, Miss Feely,—and I couldn’t sleep out o’ hearin, no ways.”

“Why, Uncle Tom, what makes you think so?”

“Miss Eva, she talks to me. The Lord, he sends his messenger in the soul. I must be thar, Miss Feely; for when that ar blessed child goes into the kingdom, they’ll open the door so wide, we’ll all get a look in at the glory, Miss Feely.”

“Uncle Tom, did Miss Eva say she felt more unwell than usual tonight?”

“No; but she telled me, this morning, she was coming nearer,—thar’s them that tells it to the child, Miss Feely. It’s the angels,—‘it’s the trumpet sound afore the break o’ day,’” said Tom, quoting from a favorite hymn.

This dialogue passed between Miss Ophelia and Tom, between ten and eleven, one evening, after her arrangements had all been made for the night, when, on going to bolt her outer door, she found Tom stretched along by it, in the outer verandah.

She was not nervous or impressible; but the solemn, heart-felt manner struck her. Eva had been unusually bright and cheerful, that afternoon, and had sat raised in her bed, and looked over all her little trinkets and precious things, and designated the friends to whom she would have them given; and her manner was more animated, and her voice more natural, than they had known it for weeks. Her father had been in, in the evening, and had said that Eva appeared more like her former self than ever she had done since her sickness; and when he kissed her for the night, he said to Miss Ophelia,—“Cousin, we may keep her with us, after all; she is certainly better;” and he had retired with a lighter heart in his bosom than he had had there for weeks.

But at midnight,—strange, mystic hour!—when the veil between the frail present and the eternal future grows thin,—then came the messenger!

There was a sound in that chamber, first of one who stepped quickly. It was Miss Ophelia, who had resolved to sit up all night with her little charge, and who, at the turn of the night, had discerned what experienced nurses significantly call “a change.” The outer door was quickly opened, and Tom, who was watching outside, was on the alert, in a moment.

“Go for the doctor, Tom! lose not a moment,” said Miss Ophelia; and, stepping across the room, she rapped at St. Clare’s door.

“Cousin,” she said, “I wish you would come.”

Those words fell on his heart like clods upon a coffin. Why did they? He was up and in the room in an instant, and bending over Eva, who still slept.

What was it he saw that made his heart stand still? Why was no word spoken between the two? Thou canst say, who hast seen that same expression on the face dearest to thee;—that look indescribable, hopeless, unmistakable, that says to thee that thy beloved is no longer thine.

On the face of the child, however, there was no ghastly imprint,—only a high and almost sublime expression,—the overshadowing presence of spiritual natures, the dawning of immortal life in that childish soul.

They stood there so still, gazing upon her, that even the ticking of the watch seemed too loud. In a few moments, Tom returned, with the doctor. He entered, gave one look, and stood silent as the rest.

“When did this change take place?” said he, in a low whisper, to Miss Ophelia.

“About the turn of the night,” was the reply.

Marie, roused by the entrance of the doctor, appeared, hurriedly, from the next room.

“Augustine! Cousin!—O!—what!” she hurriedly began.

“Hush!” said St. Clare, hoarsely; “she is dying!”

Mammy heard the words, and flew to awaken the servants. The house was soon roused,—lights were seen, footsteps heard, anxious faces thronged the verandah, and looked tearfully through the glass doors; but St. Clare heard and said nothing,—he saw only that look on the face of the little sleeper.

“O, if she would only wake, and speak once more!” he said; and, stooping over her, he spoke in her ear,—“Eva, darling!”

The large blue eyes unclosed—a smile passed over her face;—she tried to raise her head, and to speak.

“Do you know me, Eva?”

“Dear papa,” said the child, with a last effort, throwing her arms about his neck. In a moment they dropped again; and, as St. Clare raised his head, he saw a spasm of mortal agony pass over the face,—she struggled for breath, and threw up her little hands.

“O, God, this is dreadful!” he said, turning away in agony, and wringing Tom’s hand, scarce conscious what he was doing. “O, Tom, my boy, it is killing me!”

Tom had his master’s hands between his own; and, with tears streaming down his dark cheeks, looked up for help where he had always been used to look.

“Pray that this may be cut short!” said St. Clare,—“this wrings my heart.”

“O, bless the Lord! it’s over,—it’s over, dear Master!” said Tom; “look at her.”

The child lay panting on her pillows, as one exhausted,—the large clear eyes rolled up and fixed. Ah, what said those eyes, that spoke so much of heaven! Earth was past,—and earthly pain; but so solemn, so mysterious, was the triumphant brightness of that face, that it checked even the sobs of sorrow. They pressed around her, in breathless stillness.

“Eva,” said St. Clare, gently.

She did not hear.

“O, Eva, tell us what you see! What is it?” said her father.

A bright, a glorious smile passed over her face, and she said, brokenly,—“O! love,—joy,—peace!” gave one sigh and passed from death unto life!

“Farewell, beloved child! the bright, eternal doors have closed after thee; we shall see thy sweet face no more. O, woe for them who watched thy entrance into heaven, when they shall wake and find only the cold gray sky of daily life, and thou gone forever!”

CHAPTER XXVII.
“This Is the Last of Earth”


The statuettes and pictures in Eva’s room were shrouded in white napkins, and only hushed breathings and muffled footfalls were heard there, and the light stole in solemnly through windows partially darkened by closed blinds.

The bed was draped in white; and there, beneath the drooping angel-figure, lay a little sleeping form,—sleeping never to waken!

There she lay, robed in one of the simple white dresses she had been wont to wear when living; the rose-colored light through the curtains cast over the icy coldness of death a warm glow. The heavy eyelashes drooped softly on the pure cheek; the head was turned a little to one side, as if in natural sleep, but there was diffused over every lineament of the face that high celestial expression, that mingling of rapture and repose, which showed it was no earthly or temporary sleep, but the long, sacred rest which “He giveth to his beloved.”

There is no death to such as thou, dear Eva! neither darkness nor shadow of death; only such a bright fading as when the morning star fades in the golden dawn. Thine is the victory without the battle,—the crown without the conflict.

So did St. Clare think, as, with folded arms, he stood there gazing. Ah! who shall say what he did think? for, from the hour that voices had said, in the dying chamber, “she is gone,” it had been all a dreary mist, a heavy “dimness of anguish.” He had heard voices around him; he had had questions asked, and answered them; they had asked him when he would have the funeral, and where they should lay her; and he had answered, impatiently, that he cared not.

Adolph and Rosa had arranged the chamber; volatile, fickle and childish, as they generally were, they were soft-hearted and full of feeling; and, while Miss Ophelia presided over the general details of order and neatness, it was their hands that added those soft, poetic touches to the arrangements, that took from the death-room the grim and ghastly air which too often marks a New England funeral.

There were still flowers on the shelves,—all white, delicate and fragrant, with graceful, drooping leaves. Eva’s little table, covered with white, bore on it her favorite vase, with a single white moss rose-bud in it. The folds of the drapery, the fall of the curtains, had been arranged and rearranged, by Adolph and Rosa, with that nicety of eye which characterizes their race. Even now, while St. Clare stood there thinking, little Rosa tripped softly into the chamber with a basket of white flowers. She stepped back when she saw St. Clare, and stopped respectfully; but, seeing that he did not observe her, she came forward to place them around the dead. St. Clare saw her as in a dream, while she placed in the small hands a fair cape jessamine, and, with admirable taste, disposed other flowers around the couch.

The door opened again, and Topsy, her eyes swelled with crying, appeared, holding something under her apron. Rosa made a quick forbidding gesture; but she took a step into the room.

“You must go out,” said Rosa, in a sharp, positive whisper; “you haven’t any business here!”

“O, do let me! I brought a flower,—such a pretty one!” said Topsy, holding up a half-blown tea rose-bud. “Do let me put just one there.”

“Get along!” said Rosa, more decidedly.

“Let her stay!” said St. Clare, suddenly stamping his foot. “She shall come.”

Rosa suddenly retreated, and Topsy came forward and laid her offering at the feet of the corpse; then suddenly, with a wild and bitter cry, she threw herself on the floor alongside the bed, and wept, and moaned aloud.

Miss Ophelia hastened into the room, and tried to raise and silence her; but in vain.

“O, Miss Eva! oh, Miss Eva! I wish I ’s dead, too,—I do!”

There was a piercing wildness in the cry; the blood flushed into St. Clare’s white, marble-like face, and the first tears he had shed since Eva died stood in his eyes.

“Get up, child,” said Miss Ophelia, in a softened voice; “don’t cry so. Miss Eva is gone to heaven; she is an angel.”

“But I can’t see her!” said Topsy. “I never shall see her!” and she sobbed again.

They all stood a moment in silence.

“She said she loved me,” said Topsy,—“she did! O, dear! oh, dear! there an’t nobody left now,—there an’t!”

“That’s true enough” said St. Clare; “but do,” he said to Miss Ophelia, “see if you can’t comfort the poor creature.”

“I jist wish I hadn’t never been born,” said Topsy. “I didn’t want to be born, no ways; and I don’t see no use on ’t.”

Miss Ophelia raised her gently, but firmly, and took her from the room; but, as she did so, some tears fell from her eyes.

“Topsy, you poor child,” she said, as she led her into her room, “don’t give up! I can love you, though I am not like that dear little child. I hope I’ve learnt something of the love of Christ from her. I can love you; I do, and I’ll try to help you to grow up a good Christian girl.”

Miss Ophelia’s voice was more than her words, and more than that were the honest tears that fell down her face. From that hour, she acquired an influence over the mind of the destitute child that she never lost.

“O, my Eva, whose little hour on earth did so much of good,” thought St. Clare, “what account have I to give for my long years?”

There were, for a while, soft whisperings and footfalls in the chamber, as one after another stole in, to look at the dead; and then came the little coffin; and then there was a funeral, and carriages drove to the door, and strangers came and were seated; and there were white scarfs and ribbons, and crape bands, and mourners dressed in black crape; and there were words read from the Bible, and prayers offered; and St. Clare lived, and walked, and moved, as one who has shed every tear;—to the last he saw only one thing, that golden head in the coffin; but then he saw the cloth spread over it, the lid of the coffin closed; and he walked, when he was put beside the others, down to a little place at the bottom of the garden, and there, by the mossy seat where she and Tom had talked, and sung, and read so often, was the little grave. St. Clare stood beside it,—looked vacantly down; he saw them lower the little coffin; he heard, dimly, the solemn words, “I am the resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;” and, as the earth was cast in and filled up the little grave, he could not realize that it was his Eva that they were hiding from his sight.

Nor was it!—not Eva, but only the frail seed of that bright, immortal form with which she shall yet come forth, in the day of the Lord Jesus!

And then all were gone, and the mourners went back to the place which should know her no more; and Marie’s room was darkened, and she lay on the bed, sobbing and moaning in uncontrollable grief, and calling every moment for the attentions of all her servants. Of course, they had no time to cry,—why should they? the grief was her grief, and she was fully convinced that nobody on earth did, could, or would feel it as she did.

“St. Clare did not shed a tear,” she said; “he didn’t sympathize with her; it was perfectly wonderful to think how hard-hearted and unfeeling he was, when he must know how she suffered.”

So much are people the slave of their eye and ear, that many of the servants really thought that Missis was the principal sufferer in the case, especially as Marie began to have hysterical spasms, and sent for the doctor, and at last declared herself dying; and, in the running and scampering, and bringing up hot bottles, and heating of flannels, and chafing, and fussing, that ensued, there was quite a diversion.

Tom, however, had a feeling at his own heart, that drew him to his master. He followed him wherever he walked, wistfully and sadly; and when he saw him sitting, so pale and quiet, in Eva’s room, holding before his eyes her little open Bible, though seeing no letter or word of what was in it, there was more sorrow to Tom in that still, fixed, tearless eye, than in all Marie’s moans and lamentations.

In a few days the St. Clare family were back again in the city; Augustine, with the restlessness of grief, longing for another scene, to change the current of his thoughts. So they left the house and garden, with its little grave, and came back to New Orleans; and St. Clare walked the streets busily, and strove to fill up the chasm in his heart with hurry and bustle, and change of place; and people who saw him in the street, or met him at the cafe, knew of his loss only by the weed on his hat; for there he was, smiling and talking, and reading the newspaper, and speculating on politics, and attending to business matters; and who could see that all this smiling outside was but a hollowed shell over a heart that was a dark and silent sepulchre?

“Mr. St. Clare is a singular man,” said Marie to Miss Ophelia, in a complaining tone. “I used to think, if there was anything in the world he did love, it was our dear little Eva; but he seems to be forgetting her very easily. I cannot ever get him to talk about her. I really did think he would show more feeling!”

“Still waters run deepest, they used to tell me,” said Miss Ophelia, oracularly.

“O, I don’t believe in such things; it’s all talk. If people have feeling, they will show it,—they can’t help it; but, then, it’s a great misfortune to have feeling. I’d rather have been made like St. Clare. My feelings prey upon me so!”

“Sure, Missis, Mas’r St. Clare is gettin’ thin as a shader. They say, he don’t never eat nothin’,” said Mammy. “I know he don’t forget Miss Eva; I know there couldn’t nobody,—dear, little, blessed cretur!” she added, wiping her eyes.

“Well, at all events, he has no consideration for me,” said Marie; “he hasn’t spoken one word of sympathy, and he must know how much more a mother feels than any man can.”

“The heart knoweth its own bitterness,” said Miss Ophelia, gravely.

“That’s just what I think. I know just what I feel,—nobody else seems to. Eva used to, but she is gone!” and Marie lay back on her lounge, and began to sob disconsolately.

Marie was one of those unfortunately constituted mortals, in whose eyes whatever is lost and gone assumes a value which it never had in possession. Whatever she had, she seemed to survey only to pick flaws in it; but, once fairly away, there was no end to her valuation of it.

While this conversation was taking place in the parlor another was going on in St. Clare’s library.

Tom, who was always uneasily following his master about, had seen him go to his library, some hours before; and, after vainly waiting for him to come out, determined, at last, to make an errand in. He entered softly. St. Clare lay on his lounge, at the further end of the room. He was lying on his face, with Eva’s Bible open before him, at a little distance. Tom walked up, and stood by the sofa. He hesitated; and, while he was hesitating, St. Clare suddenly raised himself up. The honest face, so full of grief, and with such an imploring expression of affection and sympathy, struck his master. He laid his hand on Tom’s, and bowed down his forehead on it.

“O, Tom, my boy, the whole world is as empty as an egg-shell.”

“I know it, Mas’r,—I know it,” said Tom; “but, oh, if Mas’r could only look up,—up where our dear Miss Eva is,—up to the dear Lord Jesus!”

“Ah, Tom! I do look up; but the trouble is, I don’t see anything, when I do, I wish I could.”

Tom sighed heavily.

“It seems to be given to children, and poor, honest fellows, like you, to see what we can’t,” said St. Clare. “How comes it?”

“Thou has ’hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes,’” murmured Tom; “‘even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.’”

“Tom, I don’t believe,—I can’t believe,—I’ve got the habit of doubting,” said St. Clare. “I want to believe this Bible,—and I can’t.”

“Dear Mas’r, pray to the good Lord,—‘Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.’”

“Who knows anything about anything?” said St. Clare, his eyes wandering dreamily, and speaking to himself. “Was all that beautiful love and faith only one of the ever-shifting phases of human feeling, having nothing real to rest on, passing away with the little breath? And is there no more Eva,—no heaven,—no Christ,—nothing?”

“O, dear Mas’r, there is! I know it; I’m sure of it,” said Tom, falling on his knees. “Do, do, dear Mas’r, believe it!”

“How do you know there’s any Christ, Tom! You never saw the Lord.”

“Felt Him in my soul, Mas’r,—feel Him now! O, Mas’r, when I was sold away from my old woman and the children, I was jest a’most broke up. I felt as if there warn’t nothin’ left; and then the good Lord, he stood by me, and he says, ‘Fear not, Tom;’ and he brings light and joy in a poor feller’s soul,—makes all peace; and I ’s so happy, and loves everybody, and feels willin’ jest to be the Lord’s, and have the Lord’s will done, and be put jest where the Lord wants to put me. I know it couldn’t come from me, cause I ’s a poor, complainin’ cretur; it comes from the Lord; and I know He’s willin’ to do for Mas’r.”

Tom spoke with fast-running tears and choking voice. St. Clare leaned his head on his shoulder, and wrung the hard, faithful, black hand.

“Tom, you love me,” he said.

“I ’s willin’ to lay down my life, this blessed day, to see Mas’r a Christian.”

“Poor, foolish boy!” said St. Clare, half-raising himself. “I’m not worth the love of one good, honest heart, like yours.”

“O, Mas’r, dere’s more than me loves you,—the blessed Lord Jesus loves you.”

“How do you know that Tom?” said St. Clare.

“Feels it in my soul. O, Mas’r! ’the love of Christ, that passeth knowledge.’”

“Singular!” said St. Clare, turning away, “that the story of a man that lived and died eighteen hundred years ago can affect people so yet. But he was no man,” he added, suddenly. “No man ever had such long and living power! O, that I could believe what my mother taught me, and pray as I did when I was a boy!”

“If Mas’r pleases,” said Tom, “Miss Eva used to read this so beautifully. I wish Mas’r’d be so good as read it. Don’t get no readin’, hardly, now Miss Eva’s gone.”

The chapter was the eleventh of John,—the touching account of the raising of Lazarus, St. Clare read it aloud, often pausing to wrestle down feelings which were roused by the pathos of the story. Tom knelt before him, with clasped hands, and with an absorbed expression of love, trust, adoration, on his quiet face.

“Tom,” said his Master, “this is all real to you!”

“I can jest fairly see it Mas’r,” said Tom.

“I wish I had your eyes, Tom.”

“I wish, to the dear Lord, Mas’r had!”

“But, Tom, you know that I have a great deal more knowledge than you; what if I should tell you that I don’t believe this Bible?”

“O, Mas’r!” said Tom, holding up his hands, with a deprecating gesture.

“Wouldn’t it shake your faith some, Tom?”

“Not a grain,” said Tom.

“Why, Tom, you must know I know the most.”

“O, Mas’r, haven’t you jest read how he hides from the wise and prudent, and reveals unto babes? But Mas’r wasn’t in earnest, for sartin, now?” said Tom, anxiously.

“No, Tom, I was not. I don’t disbelieve, and I think there is reason to believe; and still I don’t. It’s a troublesome bad habit I’ve got, Tom.”

“If Mas’r would only pray!”

“How do you know I don’t, Tom?”

“Does Mas’r?”

“I would, Tom, if there was anybody there when I pray; but it’s all speaking unto nothing, when I do. But come, Tom, you pray now, and show me how.”

Tom’s heart was full; he poured it out in prayer, like waters that have been long suppressed. One thing was plain enough; Tom thought there was somebody to hear, whether there were or not. In fact, St. Clare felt himself borne, on the tide of his faith and feeling, almost to the gates of that heaven he seemed so vividly to conceive. It seemed to bring him nearer to Eva.

“Thank you, my boy,” said St. Clare, when Tom rose. “I like to hear you, Tom; but go, now, and leave me alone; some other time, I’ll talk more.”

Tom silently left the room.

CHAPTER XXVIII.
Reunion

Week after week glided away in the St. Clare mansion, and the waves of life settled back to their usual flow, where that little bark had gone down. For how imperiously, how coolly, in disregard of all one’s feeling, does the hard, cold, uninteresting course of daily realities move on! Still must we eat, and drink, and sleep, and wake again,—still bargain, buy, sell, ask and answer questions,—pursue, in short, a thousand shadows, though all interest in them be over; the cold mechanical habit of living remaining, after all vital interest in it has fled.

All the interests and hopes of St. Clare’s life had unconsciously wound themselves around this child. It was for Eva that he had managed his property; it was for Eva that he had planned the disposal of his time; and, to do this and that for Eva,—to buy, improve, alter, and arrange, or dispose something for her,—had been so long his habit, that now she was gone, there seemed nothing to be thought of, and nothing to be done.

True, there was another life,—a life which, once believed in, stands as a solemn, significant figure before the otherwise unmeaning ciphers of time, changing them to orders of mysterious, untold value. St. Clare knew this well; and often, in many a weary hour, he heard that slender, childish voice calling him to the skies, and saw that little hand pointing to him the way of life; but a heavy lethargy of sorrow lay on him,—he could not arise. He had one of those natures which could better and more clearly conceive of religious things from its own perceptions and instincts, than many a matter-of-fact and practical Christian. The gift to appreciate and the sense to feel the finer shades and relations of moral things, often seems an attribute of those whose whole life shows a careless disregard of them. Hence Moore, Byron, Goethe, often speak words more wisely descriptive of the true religious sentiment, than another man, whose whole life is governed by it. In such minds, disregard of religion is a more fearful treason,—a more deadly sin.

St. Clare had never pretended to govern himself by any religious obligation; and a certain fineness of nature gave him such an instinctive view of the extent of the requirements of Christianity, that he shrank, by anticipation, from what he felt would be the exactions of his own conscience, if he once did resolve to assume them. For, so inconsistent is human nature, especially in the ideal, that not to undertake a thing at all seems better than to undertake and come short.

Still St. Clare was, in many respects, another man. He read his little Eva’s Bible seriously and honestly; he thought more soberly and practically of his relations to his servants,—enough to make him extremely dissatisfied with both his past and present course; and one thing he did, soon after his return to New Orleans, and that was to commence the legal steps necessary to Tom’s emancipation, which was to be perfected as soon as he could get through the necessary formalities. Meantime, he attached himself to Tom more and more, every day. In all the wide world, there was nothing that seemed to remind him so much of Eva; and he would insist on keeping him constantly about him, and, fastidious and unapproachable as he was with regard to his deeper feelings, he almost thought aloud to Tom. Nor would any one have wondered at it, who had seen the expression of affection and devotion with which Tom continually followed his young master.

“Well, Tom,” said St. Clare, the day after he had commenced the legal formalities for his enfranchisement, “I’m going to make a free man of you;—so have your trunk packed, and get ready to set out for Kentuck.”

The sudden light of joy that shone in Tom’s face as he raised his hands to heaven, his emphatic “Bless the Lord!” rather discomposed St. Clare; he did not like it that Tom should be so ready to leave him.

“You haven’t had such very bad times here, that you need be in such a rapture, Tom,” he said drily.

“No, no, Mas’r! ’tan’t that,—it’s bein’ a freeman! that’s what I’m joyin’ for.”

“Why, Tom, don’t you think, for your own part, you’ve been better off than to be free?”

“No, indeed, Mas’r St. Clare,” said Tom, with a flash of energy. “No, indeed!”

“Why, Tom, you couldn’t possibly have earned, by your work, such clothes and such living as I have given you.”

“Knows all that, Mas’r St. Clare; Mas’r’s been too good; but, Mas’r, I’d rather have poor clothes, poor house, poor everything, and have ’em mine, than have the best, and have ’em any man’s else,—I had so, Mas’r; I think it’s natur, Mas’r.”

“I suppose so, Tom, and you’ll be going off and leaving me, in a month or so,” he added, rather discontentedly. “Though why you shouldn’t, no mortal knows,” he said, in a gayer tone; and, getting up, he began to walk the floor.

“Not while Mas’r is in trouble,” said Tom. “I’ll stay with Mas’r as long as he wants me,—so as I can be any use.”

“Not while I’m in trouble, Tom?” said St. Clare, looking sadly out of the window. . . . “And when will my trouble be over?”

“When Mas’r St. Clare’s a Christian,” said Tom.

“And you really mean to stay by till that day comes?” said St. Clare, half smiling, as he turned from the window, and laid his hand on Tom’s shoulder. “Ah, Tom, you soft, silly boy! I won’t keep you till that day. Go home to your wife and children, and give my love to all.”

“I ’s faith to believe that day will come,” said Tom, earnestly, and with tears in his eyes; “the Lord has a work for Mas’r.”

“A work, hey?” said St. Clare, “well, now, Tom, give me your views on what sort of a work it is;—let’s hear.”

“Why, even a poor fellow like me has a work from the Lord; and Mas’r St. Clare, that has larnin, and riches, and friends,—how much he might do for the Lord!”

“Tom, you seem to think the Lord needs a great deal done for him,” said St. Clare, smiling.

“We does for the Lord when we does for his critturs,” said Tom.

“Good theology, Tom; better than Dr. B. preaches, I dare swear,” said St. Clare.

The conversation was here interrupted by the announcement of some visitors.

Marie St. Clare felt the loss of Eva as deeply as she could feel anything; and, as she was a woman that had a great faculty of making everybody unhappy when she was, her immediate attendants had still stronger reason to regret the loss of their young mistress, whose winning ways and gentle intercessions had so often been a shield to them from the tyrannical and selfish exactions of her mother. Poor old Mammy, in particular, whose heart, severed from all natural domestic ties, had consoled itself with this one beautiful being, was almost heart-broken. She cried day and night, and was, from excess of sorrow, less skilful and alert in her ministrations of her mistress than usual, which drew down a constant storm of invectives on her defenceless head.

Miss Ophelia felt the loss; but, in her good and honest heart, it bore fruit unto everlasting life. She was more softened, more gentle; and, though equally assiduous in every duty, it was with a chastened and quiet air, as one who communed with her own heart not in vain. She was more diligent in teaching Topsy,—taught her mainly from the Bible,—did not any longer shrink from her touch, or manifest an ill-repressed disgust, because she felt none. She viewed her now through the softened medium that Eva’s hand had first held before her eyes, and saw in her only an immortal creature, whom God had sent to be led by her to glory and virtue. Topsy did not become at once a saint; but the life and death of Eva did work a marked change in her. The callous indifference was gone; there was now sensibility, hope, desire, and the striving for good,—a strife irregular, interrupted, suspended oft, but yet renewed again.

One day, when Topsy had been sent for by Miss Ophelia, she came, hastily thrusting something into her bosom.

“What are you doing there, you limb? You’ve been stealing something, I’ll be bound,” said the imperious little Rosa, who had been sent to call her, seizing her, at the same time, roughly by the arm.

“You go ’long, Miss Rosa!” said Topsy, pulling from her; “‘tan’t none o’ your business!”

“None o’ your sa’ce!” said Rosa, “I saw you hiding something,—I know yer tricks,” and Rosa seized her arm, and tried to force her hand into her bosom, while Topsy, enraged, kicked and fought valiantly for what she considered her rights. The clamor and confusion of the battle drew Miss Ophelia and St. Clare both to the spot.

“She’s been stealing!” said Rosa.

“I han’t, neither!” vociferated Topsy, sobbing with passion.

“Give me that, whatever it is!” said Miss Ophelia, firmly.

Topsy hesitated; but, on a second order, pulled out of her bosom a little parcel done up in the foot of one of her own old stockings.

Miss Ophelia turned it out. There was a small book, which had been given to Topsy by Eva, containing a single verse of Scripture, arranged for every day in the year, and in a paper the curl of hair that she had given her on that memorable day when she had taken her last farewell.

St. Clare was a good deal affected at the sight of it; the little book had been rolled in a long strip of black crape, torn from the funeral weeds.

“What did you wrap this round the book for?” said St. Clare, holding up the crape.

“Cause,—cause,—cause ’t was Miss Eva. O, don’t take ’em away, please!” she said; and, sitting flat down on the floor, and putting her apron over her head, she began to sob vehemently.

It was a curious mixture of the pathetic and the ludicrous,—the little old stockings,—black crape,—text-book,—fair, soft curl,—and Topsy’s utter distress.

St. Clare smiled; but there were tears in his eyes, as he said,

“Come, come,—don’t cry; you shall have them!” and, putting them together, he threw them into her lap, and drew Miss Ophelia with him into the parlor.

“I really think you can make something of that concern,” he said, pointing with his thumb backward over his shoulder. “Any mind that is capable of a real sorrow is capable of good. You must try and do something with her.”

“The child has improved greatly,” said Miss Ophelia. “I have great hopes of her; but, Augustine,” she said, laying her hand on his arm, “one thing I want to ask; whose is this child to be?—yours or mine?”

“Why, I gave her to you,” said Augustine.

“But not legally;—I want her to be mine legally,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Whew! cousin,” said Augustine. “What will the Abolition Society think? They’ll have a day of fasting appointed for this backsliding, if you become a slaveholder!”

“O, nonsense! I want her mine, that I may have a right to take her to the free States, and give her her liberty, that all I am trying to do be not undone.”

“O, cousin, what an awful ’doing evil that good may come’! I can’t encourage it.”

“I don’t want you to joke, but to reason,” said Miss Ophelia. “There is no use in my trying to make this child a Christian child, unless I save her from all the chances and reverses of slavery; and, if you really are willing I should have her, I want you to give me a deed of gift, or some legal paper.”

“Well, well,” said St. Clare, “I will;” and he sat down, and unfolded a newspaper to read.

“But I want it done now,” said Miss Ophelia.

“What’s your hurry?”

“Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing in,” said Miss Ophelia. “Come, now, here’s paper, pen, and ink; just write a paper.”

St. Clare, like most men of his class of mind, cordially hated the present tense of action, generally; and, therefore, he was considerably annoyed by Miss Ophelia’s downrightness.

“Why, what’s the matter?” said he. “Can’t you take my word? One would think you had taken lessons of the Jews, coming at a fellow so!”

“I want to make sure of it,” said Miss Ophelia. “You may die, or fail, and then Topsy be hustled off to auction, spite of all I can do.”

“Really, you are quite provident. Well, seeing I’m in the hands of a Yankee, there is nothing for it but to concede;” and St. Clare rapidly wrote off a deed of gift, which, as he was well versed in the forms of law, he could easily do, and signed his name to it in sprawling capitals, concluding by a tremendous flourish.

“There, isn’t that black and white, now, Miss Vermont?” he said, as he handed it to her.

“Good boy,” said Miss Ophelia, smiling. “But must it not be witnessed?”

“O, bother!—yes. Here,” he said, opening the door into Marie’s apartment, “Marie, Cousin wants your autograph; just put your name down here.”

“What’s this?” said Marie, as she ran over the paper. “Ridiculous! I thought Cousin was too pious for such horrid things,” she added, as she carelessly wrote her name; “but, if she has a fancy for that article, I am sure she’s welcome.”

“There, now, she’s yours, body and soul,” said St. Clare, handing the paper.

“No more mine now than she was before,” Miss Ophelia. “Nobody but God has a right to give her to me; but I can protect her now.”

“Well, she’s yours by a fiction of law, then,” said St. Clare, as he turned back into the parlor, and sat down to his paper.

Miss Ophelia, who seldom sat much in Marie’s company, followed him into the parlor, having first carefully laid away the paper.

“Augustine,” she said, suddenly, as she sat knitting, “have you ever made any provision for your servants, in case of your death?”

“No,” said St. Clare, as he read on.

“Then all your indulgence to them may prove a great cruelty, by and by.”

St. Clare had often thought the same thing himself; but he answered, negligently.

“Well, I mean to make a provision, by and by.”

“When?” said Miss Ophelia.

“O, one of these days.”

“What if you should die first?”

“Cousin, what’s the matter?” said St. Clare, laying down his paper and looking at her. “Do you think I show symptoms of yellow fever or cholera, that you are making post mortem arrangements with such zeal?”

“‘In the midst of life we are in death,’” said Miss Ophelia.

St. Clare rose up, and laying the paper down, carelessly, walked to the door that stood open on the verandah, to put an end to a conversation that was not agreeable to him. Mechanically, he repeated the last word again,—“Death!”—and, as he leaned against the railings, and watched the sparkling water as it rose and fell in the fountain; and, as in a dim and dizzy haze, saw flowers and trees and vases of the courts, he repeated, again the mystic word so common in every mouth, yet of such fearful power,—“DEATH!” “Strange that there should be such a word,” he said, “and such a thing, and we ever forget it; that one should be living, warm and beautiful, full of hopes, desires and wants, one day, and the next be gone, utterly gone, and forever!”

It was a warm, golden evening; and, as he walked to the other end of the verandah, he saw Tom busily intent on his Bible, pointing, as he did so, with his finger to each successive word, and whispering them to himself with an earnest air.

“Want me to read to you, Tom?” said St. Clare, seating himself carelessly by him.

“If Mas’r pleases,” said Tom, gratefully, “Mas’r makes it so much plainer.”

St. Clare took the book and glanced at the place, and began reading one of the passages which Tom had designated by the heavy marks around it. It ran as follows:

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” St. Clare read on in an animated voice, till he came to the last of the verses.

“Then shall the king say unto him on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: I was sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they answer unto Him, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he say unto them, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me.”

St. Clare seemed struck with this last passage, for he read it twice,—the second time slowly, and as if he were revolving the words in his mind.

“Tom,” he said, “these folks that get such hard measure seem to have been doing just what I have,—living good, easy, respectable lives; and not troubling themselves to inquire how many of their brethren were hungry or athirst, or sick, or in prison.”

Tom did not answer.

St. Clare rose up and walked thoughtfully up and down the verandah, seeming to forget everything in his own thoughts; so absorbed was he, that Tom had to remind him twice that the teabell had rung, before he could get his attention.

St. Clare was absent and thoughtful, all tea-time. After tea, he and Marie and Miss Ophelia took possession of the parlor almost in silence.

Marie disposed herself on a lounge, under a silken mosquito curtain, and was soon sound asleep. Miss Ophelia silently busied herself with her knitting. St. Clare sat down to the piano, and began playing a soft and melancholy movement with the Æolian accompaniment. He seemed in a deep reverie, and to be soliloquizing to himself by music. After a little, he opened one of the drawers, took out an old music-book whose leaves were yellow with age, and began turning it over.

“There,” he said to Miss Ophelia, “this was one of my mother’s books,—and here is her handwriting,—come and look at it. She copied and arranged this from Mozart’s Requiem.” Miss Ophelia came accordingly.

“It was something she used to sing often,” said St. Clare. “I think I can hear her now.”

He struck a few majestic chords, and began singing that grand old Latin piece, the “Dies Iræ.”

Tom, who was listening in the outer verandah, was drawn by the sound to the very door, where he stood earnestly. He did not understand the words, of course; but the music and manner of singing appeared to affect him strongly, especially when St. Clare sang the more pathetic parts. Tom would have sympathized more heartily, if he had known the meaning of the beautiful words:—

“Recordare Jesu pie
Quod sum causa tuær viæ
Ne me perdas, illa die
Quærens me sedisti lassus
Redemisti crucem passus
Tantus labor non sit cassus.”[1]

[1] These lines have been thus rather inadequately translated:

“Think, O Jesus, for what reason
Thou endured’st earth’s spite and treason,
Nor me lose, in that dread season;
Seeking me, thy worn feet hasted,
On the cross thy soul death tasted,
Let not all these toils be wasted.”

[Mrs. Stowe’s note.]

St. Clare threw a deep and pathetic expression into the words; for the shadowy veil of years seemed drawn away, and he seemed to hear his mother’s voice leading his. Voice and instrument seemed both living, and threw out with vivid sympathy those strains which the ethereal Mozart first conceived as his own dying requiem.

When St. Clare had done singing, he sat leaning his head upon his hand a few moments, and then began walking up and down the floor.

“What a sublime conception is that of a last judgment!” said he,—“a righting of all the wrongs of ages!—a solving of all moral problems, by an unanswerable wisdom! It is, indeed, a wonderful image.”

“It is a fearful one to us,” said Miss Ophelia.

“It ought to be to me, I suppose,” said St. Clare stopping, thoughtfully. “I was reading to Tom, this afternoon, that chapter in Matthew that gives an account of it, and I have been quite struck with it. One should have expected some terrible enormities charged to those who are excluded from Heaven, as the reason; but no,—they are condemned for not doing positive good, as if that included every possible harm.”

“Perhaps,” said Miss Ophelia, “it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.”

“And what,” said St. Clare, speaking abstractedly, but with deep feeling, “what shall be said of one whose own heart, whose education, and the wants of society, have called in vain to some noble purpose; who has floated on, a dreamy, neutral spectator of the struggles, agonies, and wrongs of man, when he should have been a worker?”

“I should say,” said Miss Ophelia, “that he ought to repent, and begin now.”

“Always practical and to the point!” said St. Clare, his face breaking out into a smile. “You never leave me any time for general reflections, Cousin; you always bring me short up against the actual present; you have a kind of eternal now, always in your mind.”

“Now is all the time I have anything to do with,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Dear little Eva,—poor child!” said St. Clare, “she had set her little simple soul on a good work for me.”

It was the first time since Eva’s death that he had ever said as many words as these to her, and he spoke now evidently repressing very strong feeling.

“My view of Christianity is such,” he added, “that I think no man can consistently profess it without throwing the whole weight of his being against this monstrous system of injustice that lies at the foundation of all our society; and, if need be, sacrificing himself in the battle. That is, I mean that I could not be a Christian otherwise, though I have certainly had intercourse with a great many enlightened and Christian people who did no such thing; and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject, their want of perception of wrongs that filled me with horror, have engendered in me more scepticism than any other thing.”

“If you knew all this,” said Miss Ophelia, “why didn’t you do it?”

“O, because I have had only that kind of benevolence which consists in lying on a sofa, and cursing the church and clergy for not being martyrs and confessors. One can see, you know, very easily, how others ought to be martyrs.”

“Well, are you going to do differently now?” said Miss Ophelia.

“God only knows the future,” said St. Clare. “I am braver than I was, because I have lost all; and he who has nothing to lose can afford all risks.”

“And what are you going to do?”

“My duty, I hope, to the poor and lowly, as fast as I find it out,” said St. Clare, “beginning with my own servants, for whom I have yet done nothing; and, perhaps, at some future day, it may appear that I can do something for a whole class; something to save my country from the disgrace of that false position in which she now stands before all civilized nations.”

“Do you suppose it possible that a nation ever will voluntarily emancipate?” said Miss Ophelia.

“I don’t know,” said St. Clare. “This is a day of great deeds. Heroism and disinterestedness are rising up, here and there, in the earth. The Hungarian nobles set free millions of serfs, at an immense pecuniary loss; and, perhaps, among us may be found generous spirits, who do not estimate honor and justice by dollars and cents.”

“I hardly think so,” said Miss Ophelia.

“But, suppose we should rise up tomorrow and emancipate, who would educate these millions, and teach them how to use their freedom? They never would rise to do much among us. The fact is, we are too lazy and unpractical, ourselves, ever to give them much of an idea of that industry and energy which is necessary to form them into men. They will have to go north, where labor is the fashion,—the universal custom; and tell me, now, is there enough Christian philanthropy, among your northern states, to bear with the process of their education and elevation? You send thousands of dollars to foreign missions; but could you endure to have the heathen sent into your towns and villages, and give your time, and thoughts, and money, to raise them to the Christian standard? That’s what I want to know. If we emancipate, are you willing to educate? How many families, in your town, would take a negro man and woman, teach them, bear with them, and seek to make them Christians? How many merchants would take Adolph, if I wanted to make him a clerk; or mechanics, if I wanted him taught a trade? If I wanted to put Jane and Rosa to a school, how many schools are there in the northern states that would take them in? how many families that would board them? and yet they are as white as many a woman, north or south. You see, Cousin, I want justice done us. We are in a bad position. We are the more obvious oppressors of the negro; but the unchristian prejudice of the north is an oppressor almost equally severe.”

“Well, Cousin, I know it is so,” said Miss Ophelia,—“I know it was so with me, till I saw that it was my duty to overcome it; but, I trust I have overcome it; and I know there are many good people at the north, who in this matter need only to be taught what their duty is, to do it. It would certainly be a greater self-denial to receive heathen among us, than to send missionaries to them; but I think we would do it.”

“You would, I know,” said St. Clare. “I’d like to see anything you wouldn’t do, if you thought it your duty!”

“Well, I’m not uncommonly good,” said Miss Ophelia. “Others would, if they saw things as I do. I intend to take Topsy home, when I go. I suppose our folks will wonder, at first; but I think they will be brought to see as I do. Besides, I know there are many people at the north who do exactly what you said.”

“Yes, but they are a minority; and, if we should begin to emancipate to any extent, we should soon hear from you.”

Miss Ophelia did not reply. There was a pause of some moments; and St. Clare’s countenance was overcast by a sad, dreamy expression.

“I don’t know what makes me think of my mother so much, tonight,” he said. “I have a strange kind of feeling, as if she were near me. I keep thinking of things she used to say. Strange, what brings these past things so vividly back to us, sometimes!”

St. Clare walked up and down the room for some minutes more, and then said,

“I believe I’ll go down street, a few moments, and hear the news, tonight.”

He took his hat, and passed out.

Tom followed him to the passage, out of the court, and asked if he should attend him.

“No, my boy,” said St. Clare. “I shall be back in an hour.”

Tom sat down in the verandah. It was a beautiful moonlight evening, and he sat watching the rising and falling spray of the fountain, and listening to its murmur. Tom thought of his home, and that he should soon be a free man, and able to return to it at will. He thought how he should work to buy his wife and boys. He felt the muscles of his brawny arms with a sort of joy, as he thought they would soon belong to himself, and how much they could do to work out the freedom of his family. Then he thought of his noble young master, and, ever second to that, came the habitual prayer that he had always offered for him; and then his thoughts passed on to the beautiful Eva, whom he now thought of among the angels; and he thought till he almost fancied that that bright face and golden hair were looking upon him, out of the spray of the fountain. And, so musing, he fell asleep, and dreamed he saw her coming bounding towards him, just as she used to come, with a wreath of jessamine in her hair, her cheeks bright, and her eyes radiant with delight; but, as he looked, she seemed to rise from the ground; her cheeks wore a paler hue,—her eyes had a deep, divine radiance, a golden halo seemed around her head,—and she vanished from his sight; and Tom was awakened by a loud knocking, and a sound of many voices at the gate.

He hastened to undo it; and, with smothered voices and heavy tread, came several men, bringing a body, wrapped in a cloak, and lying on a shutter. The light of the lamp fell full on the face; and Tom gave a wild cry of amazement and despair, that rung through all the galleries, as the men advanced, with their burden, to the open parlor door, where Miss Ophelia still sat knitting.

St. Clare had turned into a cafe, to look over an evening paper. As he was reading, an affray arose between two gentlemen in the room, who were both partially intoxicated. St. Clare and one or two others made an effort to separate them, and St. Clare received a fatal stab in the side with a bowie-knife, which he was attempting to wrest from one of them.

The house was full of cries and lamentations, shrieks and screams, servants frantically tearing their hair, throwing themselves on the ground, or running distractedly about, lamenting. Tom and Miss Ophelia alone seemed to have any presence of mind; for Marie was in strong hysteric convulsions. At Miss Ophelia’s direction, one of the lounges in the parlor was hastily prepared, and the bleeding form laid upon it. St. Clare had fainted, through pain and loss of blood; but, as Miss Ophelia applied restoratives, he revived, opened his eyes, looked fixedly on them, looked earnestly around the room, his eyes travelling wistfully over every object, and finally they rested on his mother’s picture.

The physician now arrived, and made his examination. It was evident, from the expression of his face, that there was no hope; but he applied himself to dressing the wound, and he and Miss Ophelia and Tom proceeded composedly with this work, amid the lamentations and sobs and cries of the affrighted servants, who had clustered about the doors and windows of the verandah.

“Now,” said the physician, “we must turn all these creatures out; all depends on his being kept quiet.”

St. Clare opened his eyes, and looked fixedly on the distressed beings, whom Miss Ophelia and the doctor were trying to urge from the apartment. “Poor creatures!” he said, and an expression of bitter self-reproach passed over his face. Adolph absolutely refused to go. Terror had deprived him of all presence of mind; he threw himself along the floor, and nothing could persuade him to rise. The rest yielded to Miss Ophelia’s urgent representations, that their master’s safety depended on their stillness and obedience.

St. Clare could say but little; he lay with his eyes shut, but it was evident that he wrestled with bitter thoughts. After a while, he laid his hand on Tom’s, who was kneeling beside him, and said, “Tom! poor fellow!”

“What, Mas’r?” said Tom, earnestly.

“I am dying!” said St. Clare, pressing his hand; “pray!”

“If you would like a clergyman—” said the physician.

St. Clare hastily shook his head, and said again to Tom, more earnestly, “Pray!”

And Tom did pray, with all his mind and strength, for the soul that was passing,—the soul that seemed looking so steadily and mournfully from those large, melancholy blue eyes. It was literally prayer offered with strong crying and tears.

When Tom ceased to speak, St. Clare reached out and took his hand, looking earnestly at him, but saying nothing. He closed his eyes, but still retained his hold; for, in the gates of eternity, the black hand and the white hold each other with an equal clasp. He murmured softly to himself, at broken intervals,

“Recordare Jesu pie—
* * * *
Ne me perdas—illa die
Quærens me—sedisti lassus.”

It was evident that the words he had been singing that evening were passing through his mind,—words of entreaty addressed to Infinite Pity. His lips moved at intervals, as parts of the hymn fell brokenly from them.

“His mind is wandering,” said the doctor.

“No! it is coming HOME, at last!” said St. Clare, energetically; “at last! at last!”

The effort of speaking exhausted him. The sinking paleness of death fell on him; but with it there fell, as if shed from the wings of some pitying spirit, a beautiful expression of peace, like that of a wearied child who sleeps.

So he lay for a few moments. They saw that the mighty hand was on him. Just before the spirit parted, he opened his eyes, with a sudden light, as of joy and recognition, and said “Mother!” and then he was gone!

CHAPTER XXIX.
The Unprotected

We hear often of the distress of the negro servants, on the loss of a kind master; and with good reason, for no creature on God’s earth is left more utterly unprotected and desolate than the slave in these circumstances.

The child who has lost a father has still the protection of friends, and of the law; he is something, and can do something,—has acknowledged rights and position; the slave has none. The law regards him, in every respect, as devoid of rights as a bale of merchandise. The only possible acknowledgment of any of the longings and wants of a human and immortal creature, which are given to him, comes to him through the sovereign and irresponsible will of his master; and when that master is stricken down, nothing remains.

The number of those men who know how to use wholly irresponsible power humanely and generously is small. Everybody knows this, and the slave knows it best of all; so that he feels that there are ten chances of his finding an abusive and tyrannical master, to one of his finding a considerate and kind one. Therefore is it that the wail over a kind master is loud and long, as well it may be.

When St. Clare breathed his last, terror and consternation took hold of all his household. He had been stricken down so in a moment, in the flower and strength of his youth! Every room and gallery of the house resounded with sobs and shrieks of despair.

Marie, whose nervous system had been enervated by a constant course of self-indulgence, had nothing to support the terror of the shock, and, at the time her husband breathed his last, was passing from one fainting fit to another; and he to whom she had been joined in the mysterious tie of marriage passed from her forever, without the possibility of even a parting word.

Miss Ophelia, with characteristic strength and self-control, had remained with her kinsman to the last,—all eye, all ear, all attention; doing everything of the little that could be done, and joining with her whole soul in the tender and impassioned prayers which the poor slave had poured forth for the soul of his dying master.

When they were arranging him for his last rest, they found upon his bosom a small, plain miniature case, opening with a spring. It was the miniature of a noble and beautiful female face; and on the reverse, under a crystal, a lock of dark hair. They laid them back on the lifeless breast,—dust to dust,—poor mournful relics of early dreams, which once made that cold heart beat so warmly!

Tom’s whole soul was filled with thoughts of eternity; and while he ministered around the lifeless clay, he did not once think that the sudden stroke had left him in hopeless slavery. He felt at peace about his master; for in that hour, when he had poured forth his prayer into the bosom of his Father, he had found an answer of quietness and assurance springing up within himself. In the depths of his own affectionate nature, he felt able to perceive something of the fulness of Divine love; for an old oracle hath thus written,—“He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Tom hoped and trusted, and was at peace.

But the funeral passed, with all its pageant of black crape, and prayers, and solemn faces; and back rolled the cool, muddy waves of every-day life; and up came the everlasting hard inquiry of “What is to be done next?”

It rose to the mind of Marie, as, dressed in loose morning-robes, and surrounded by anxious servants, she sat up in a great easy-chair, and inspected samples of crape and bombazine. It rose to Miss Ophelia, who began to turn her thoughts towards her northern home. It rose, in silent terrors, to the minds of the servants, who well knew the unfeeling, tyrannical character of the mistress in whose hands they were left. All knew, very well, that the indulgences which had been accorded to them were not from their mistress, but from their master; and that, now he was gone, there would be no screen between them and every tyrannous infliction which a temper soured by affliction might devise.

It was about a fortnight after the funeral, that Miss Ophelia, busied one day in her apartment, heard a gentle tap at the door. She opened it, and there stood Rosa, the pretty young quadroon, whom we have before often noticed, her hair in disorder, and her eyes swelled with crying.

“O, Miss Feeley,” she said, falling on her knees, and catching the skirt of her dress, “do, do go to Miss Marie for me! do plead for me! She’s goin’ to send me out to be whipped—look there!” And she handed to Miss Ophelia a paper.

It was an order, written in Marie’s delicate Italian hand, to the master of a whipping-establishment to give the bearer fifteen lashes.

“What have you been doing?” said Miss Ophelia.

“You know, Miss Feely, I’ve got such a bad temper; it’s very bad of me. I was trying on Miss Marie’s dress, and she slapped my face; and I spoke out before I thought, and was saucy; and she said that she’d bring me down, and have me know, once for all, that I wasn’t going to be so topping as I had been; and she wrote this, and says I shall carry it. I’d rather she’d kill me, right out.”

Miss Ophelia stood considering, with the paper in her hand.

“You see, Miss Feely,” said Rosa, “I don’t mind the whipping so much, if Miss Marie or you was to do it; but, to be sent to a man! and such a horrid man,—the shame of it, Miss Feely!”

Miss Ophelia well knew that it was the universal custom to send women and young girls to whipping-houses, to the hands of the lowest of men,—men vile enough to make this their profession,—there to be subjected to brutal exposure and shameful correction. She had known it before; but hitherto she had never realized it, till she saw the slender form of Rosa almost convulsed with distress. All the honest blood of womanhood, the strong New England blood of liberty, flushed to her cheeks, and throbbed bitterly in her indignant heart; but, with habitual prudence and self-control, she mastered herself, and, crushing the paper firmly in her hand, she merely said to Rosa,

“Sit down, child, while I go to your mistress.”

“Shameful! monstrous! outrageous!” she said to herself, as she was crossing the parlor.

She found Marie sitting up in her easy-chair, with Mammy standing by her, combing her hair; Jane sat on the ground before her, busy in chafing her feet.

“How do you find yourself, today?” said Miss Ophelia.

A deep sigh, and a closing of the eyes, was the only reply, for a moment; and then Marie answered, “O, I don’t know, Cousin; I suppose I’m as well as I ever shall be!” and Marie wiped her eyes with a cambric handkerchief, bordered with an inch deep of black.

“I came,” said Miss Ophelia, with a short, dry cough, such as commonly introduces a difficult subject,—“I came to speak with you about poor Rosa.”

Marie’s eyes were open wide enough now, and a flush rose to her sallow cheeks, as she answered, sharply,

“Well, what about her?”

“She is very sorry for her fault.”

“She is, is she? She’ll be sorrier, before I’ve done with her! I’ve endured that child’s impudence long enough; and now I’ll bring her down,—I’ll make her lie in the dust!”

“But could not you punish her some other way,—some way that would be less shameful?”

“I mean to shame her; that’s just what I want. She has all her life presumed on her delicacy, and her good looks, and her lady-like airs, till she forgets who she is;—and I’ll give her one lesson that will bring her down, I fancy!”

“But, Cousin, consider that, if you destroy delicacy and a sense of shame in a young girl, you deprave her very fast.”

“Delicacy!” said Marie, with a scornful laugh,—“a fine word for such as she! I’ll teach her, with all her airs, that she’s no better than the raggedest black wench that walks the streets! She’ll take no more airs with me!”

“You will answer to God for such cruelty!” said Miss Ophelia, with energy.

“Cruelty,—I’d like to know what the cruelty is! I wrote orders for only fifteen lashes, and told him to put them on lightly. I’m sure there’s no cruelty there!”

“No cruelty!” said Miss Ophelia. “I’m sure any girl might rather be killed outright!”

“It might seem so to anybody with your feeling; but all these creatures get used to it; it’s the only way they can be kept in order. Once let them feel that they are to take any airs about delicacy, and all that, and they’ll run all over you, just as my servants always have. I’ve begun now to bring them under; and I’ll have them all to know that I’ll send one out to be whipped, as soon as another, if they don’t mind themselves!” said Marie, looking around her decidedly.

Jane hung her head and cowered at this, for she felt as if it was particularly directed to her. Miss Ophelia sat for a moment, as if she had swallowed some explosive mixture, and were ready to burst. Then, recollecting the utter uselessness of contention with such a nature, she shut her lips resolutely, gathered herself up, and walked out of the room.

It was hard to go back and tell Rosa that she could do nothing for her; and, shortly after, one of the man-servants came to say that her mistress had ordered him to take Rosa with him to the whipping-house, whither she was hurried, in spite of her tears and entreaties.

A few days after, Tom was standing musing by the balconies, when he was joined by Adolph, who, since the death of his master, had been entirely crest-fallen and disconsolate. Adolph knew that he had always been an object of dislike to Marie; but while his master lived he had paid but little attention to it. Now that he was gone, he had moved about in daily dread and trembling, not knowing what might befall him next. Marie had held several consultations with her lawyer; after communicating with St. Clare’s brother, it was determined to sell the place, and all the servants, except her own personal property, and these she intended to take with her, and go back to her father’s plantation.

“Do ye know, Tom, that we’ve all got to be sold?” said Adolph.

“How did you hear that?” said Tom.

“I hid myself behind the curtains when Missis was talking with the lawyer. In a few days we shall be sent off to auction, Tom.”

“The Lord’s will be done!” said Tom, folding his arms and sighing heavily.

“We’ll never get another such a master,” said Adolph, apprehensively; “but I’d rather be sold than take my chance under Missis.”

Tom turned away; his heart was full. The hope of liberty, the thought of distant wife and children, rose up before his patient soul, as to the mariner shipwrecked almost in port rises the vision of the church-spire and loving roofs of his native village, seen over the top of some black wave only for one last farewell. He drew his arms tightly over his bosom, and choked back the bitter tears, and tried to pray. The poor old soul had such a singular, unaccountable prejudice in favor of liberty, that it was a hard wrench for him; and the more he said, “Thy will be done,” the worse he felt.

He sought Miss Ophelia, who, ever since Eva’s death, had treated him with marked and respectful kindness.

“Miss Feely,” he said, “Mas’r St. Clare promised me my freedom. He told me that he had begun to take it out for me; and now, perhaps, if Miss Feely would be good enough to speak bout it to Missis, she would feel like goin’ on with it, was it as Mas’r St. Clare’s wish.”

“I’ll speak for you, Tom, and do my best,” said Miss Ophelia; “but, if it depends on Mrs. St. Clare, I can’t hope much for you;—nevertheless, I will try.”

This incident occurred a few days after that of Rosa, while Miss Ophelia was busied in preparations to return north.

Seriously reflecting within herself, she considered that perhaps she had shown too hasty a warmth of language in her former interview with Marie; and she resolved that she would now endeavor to moderate her zeal, and to be as conciliatory as possible. So the good soul gathered herself up, and, taking her knitting, resolved to go into Marie’s room, be as agreeable as possible, and negotiate Tom’s case with all the diplomatic skill of which she was mistress.

She found Marie reclining at length upon a lounge, supporting herself on one elbow by pillows, while Jane, who had been out shopping, was displaying before her certain samples of thin black stuffs.

“That will do,” said Marie, selecting one; “only I’m not sure about its being properly mourning.”

“Laws, Missis,” said Jane, volubly, “Mrs. General Derbennon wore just this very thing, after the General died, last summer; it makes up lovely!”

“What do you think?” said Marie to Miss Ophelia.

“It’s a matter of custom, I suppose,” said Miss Ophelia. “You can judge about it better than I.”

“The fact is,” said Marie, “that I haven’t a dress in the world that I can wear; and, as I am going to break up the establishment, and go off, next week, I must decide upon something.”

“Are you going so soon?”

“Yes. St. Clare’s brother has written, and he and the lawyer think that the servants and furniture had better be put up at auction, and the place left with our lawyer.”

“There’s one thing I wanted to speak with you about,” said Miss Ophelia. “Augustine promised Tom his liberty, and began the legal forms necessary to it. I hope you will use your influence to have it perfected.”

“Indeed, I shall do no such thing!” said Marie, sharply. “Tom is one of the most valuable servants on the place,—it couldn’t be afforded, any way. Besides, what does he want of liberty? He’s a great deal better off as he is.”

“But he does desire it, very earnestly, and his master promised it,” said Miss Ophelia.

“I dare say he does want it,” said Marie; “they all want it, just because they are a discontented set,—always wanting what they haven’t got. Now, I’m principled against emancipating, in any case. Keep a negro under the care of a master, and he does well enough, and is respectable; but set them free, and they get lazy, and won’t work, and take to drinking, and go all down to be mean, worthless fellows, I’ve seen it tried, hundreds of times. It’s no favor to set them free.”

“But Tom is so steady, industrious, and pious.”

“O, you needn’t tell me! I’ve see a hundred like him. He’ll do very well, as long as he’s taken care of,—that’s all.”

“But, then, consider,” said Miss Ophelia, “when you set him up for sale, the chances of his getting a bad master.”

“O, that’s all humbug!” said Marie; “it isn’t one time in a hundred that a good fellow gets a bad master; most masters are good, for all the talk that is made. I’ve lived and grown up here, in the South, and I never yet was acquainted with a master that didn’t treat his servants well,—quite as well as is worth while. I don’t feel any fears on that head.”

“Well,” said Miss Ophelia, energetically, “I know it was one of the last wishes of your husband that Tom should have his liberty; it was one of the promises that he made to dear little Eva on her death-bed, and I should not think you would feel at liberty to disregard it.”

Marie had her face covered with her handkerchief at this appeal, and began sobbing and using her smelling-bottle, with great vehemence.

“Everybody goes against me!” she said. “Everybody is so inconsiderate! I shouldn’t have expected that you would bring up all these remembrances of my troubles to me,—it’s so inconsiderate! But nobody ever does consider,—my trials are so peculiar! It’s so hard, that when I had only one daughter, she should have been taken!—and when I had a husband that just exactly suited me,—and I’m so hard to be suited!—he should be taken! And you seem to have so little feeling for me, and keep bringing it up to me so carelessly,—when you know how it overcomes me! I suppose you mean well; but it is very inconsiderate,—very!” And Marie sobbed, and gasped for breath, and called Mammy to open the window, and to bring her the camphor-bottle, and to bathe her head, and unhook her dress. And, in the general confusion that ensued, Miss Ophelia made her escape to her apartment.

She saw, at once, that it would do no good to say anything more; for Marie had an indefinite capacity for hysteric fits; and, after this, whenever her husband’s or Eva’s wishes with regard to the servants were alluded to, she always found it convenient to set one in operation. Miss Ophelia, therefore, did the next best thing she could for Tom,—she wrote a letter to Mrs. Shelby for him, stating his troubles, and urging them to send to his relief.

The next day, Tom and Adolph, and some half a dozen other servants, were marched down to a slave-warehouse, to await the convenience of the trader, who was going to make up a lot for auction.

CHAPTER XXX.
The Slave Warehouse

A slave warehouse! Perhaps some of my readers conjure up horrible visions of such a place. They fancy some foul, obscure den, some horrible Tartarus “informis, ingens, cui lumen ademptum.” But no, innocent friend; in these days men have learned the art of sinning expertly and genteelly, so as not to shock the eyes and senses of respectable society. Human property is high in the market; and is, therefore, well fed, well cleaned, tended, and looked after, that it may come to sale sleek, and strong, and shining. A slave-warehouse in New Orleans is a house externally not much unlike many others, kept with neatness; and where every day you may see arranged, under a sort of shed along the outside, rows of men and women, who stand there as a sign of the property sold within.

Then you shall be courteously entreated to call and examine, and shall find an abundance of husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and young children, to be “sold separately, or in lots to suit the convenience of the purchaser;” and that soul immortal, once bought with blood and anguish by the Son of God, when the earth shook, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened, can be sold, leased, mortgaged, exchanged for groceries or dry goods, to suit the phases of trade, or the fancy of the purchaser.

It was a day or two after the conversation between Marie and Miss Ophelia, that Tom, Adolph, and about half a dozen others of the St. Clare estate, were turned over to the loving kindness of Mr. Skeggs, the keeper of a depot on —— street, to await the auction, next day.

Tom had with him quite a sizable trunk full of clothing, as had most others of them. They were ushered, for the night, into a long room, where many other men, of all ages, sizes, and shades of complexion, were assembled, and from which roars of laughter and unthinking merriment were proceeding.

“Ah, ha! that’s right. Go it, boys,—go it!” said Mr. Skeggs, the keeper. “My people are always so merry! Sambo, I see!” he said, speaking approvingly to a burly negro who was performing tricks of low buffoonery, which occasioned the shouts which Tom had heard.

As might be imagined, Tom was in no humor to join these proceedings; and, therefore, setting his trunk as far as possible from the noisy group, he sat down on it, and leaned his face against the wall.

The dealers in the human article make scrupulous and systematic efforts to promote noisy mirth among them, as a means of drowning reflection, and rendering them insensible to their condition. The whole object of the training to which the negro is put, from the time he is sold in the northern market till he arrives south, is systematically directed towards making him callous, unthinking, and brutal. The slave-dealer collects his gang in Virginia or Kentucky, and drives them to some convenient, healthy place,—often a watering place,—to be fattened. Here they are fed full daily; and, because some incline to pine, a fiddle is kept commonly going among them, and they are made to dance daily; and he who refuses to be merry—in whose soul thoughts of wife, or child, or home, are too strong for him to be gay—is marked as sullen and dangerous, and subjected to all the evils which the ill will of an utterly irresponsible and hardened man can inflict upon him. Briskness, alertness, and cheerfulness of appearance, especially before observers, are constantly enforced upon them, both by the hope of thereby getting a good master, and the fear of all that the driver may bring upon them if they prove unsalable.

“What dat ar nigger doin here?” said Sambo, coming up to Tom, after Mr. Skeggs had left the room. Sambo was a full black, of great size, very lively, voluble, and full of trick and grimace.

“What you doin here?” said Sambo, coming up to Tom, and poking him facetiously in the side. “Meditatin’, eh?”

“I am to be sold at the auction tomorrow!” said Tom, quietly.

“Sold at auction,—haw! haw! boys, an’t this yer fun? I wish’t I was gwine that ar way!—tell ye, wouldn’t I make em laugh? But how is it,—dis yer whole lot gwine tomorrow?” said Sambo, laying his hand freely on Adolph’s shoulder.

“Please to let me alone!” said Adolph, fiercely, straightening himself up, with extreme disgust.

“Law, now, boys! dis yer’s one o’ yer white niggers,—kind o’ cream color, ye know, scented!” said he, coming up to Adolph and snuffing. “O Lor! he’d do for a tobaccer-shop; they could keep him to scent snuff! Lor, he’d keep a whole shope agwine,—he would!”

“I say, keep off, can’t you?” said Adolph, enraged.

“Lor, now, how touchy we is,—we white niggers! Look at us now!” and Sambo gave a ludicrous imitation of Adolph’s manner; “here’s de airs and graces. We’s been in a good family, I specs.”

“Yes,” said Adolph; “I had a master that could have bought you all for old truck!”

“Laws, now, only think,” said Sambo, “the gentlemens that we is!”

“I belonged to the St. Clare family,” said Adolph, proudly.

“Lor, you did! Be hanged if they ar’n’t lucky to get shet of ye. Spects they’s gwine to trade ye off with a lot o’ cracked tea-pots and sich like!” said Sambo, with a provoking grin.

Adolph, enraged at this taunt, flew furiously at his adversary, swearing and striking on every side of him. The rest laughed and shouted, and the uproar brought the keeper to the door.

“What now, boys? Order,—order!” he said, coming in and flourishing a large whip.

All fled in different directions, except Sambo, who, presuming on the favor which the keeper had to him as a licensed wag, stood his ground, ducking his head with a facetious grin, whenever the master made a dive at him.

“Lor, Mas’r, ’tan’t us,—we ’s reglar stiddy,—it’s these yer new hands; they ’s real aggravatin’,—kinder pickin’ at us, all time!”

The keeper, at this, turned upon Tom and Adolph, and distributing a few kicks and cuffs without much inquiry, and leaving general orders for all to be good boys and go to sleep, left the apartment.

While this scene was going on in the men’s sleeping-room, the reader may be curious to take a peep at the corresponding apartment allotted to the women. Stretched out in various attitudes over the floor, he may see numberless sleeping forms of every shade of complexion, from the purest ebony to white, and of all years, from childhood to old age, lying now asleep. Here is a fine bright girl, of ten years, whose mother was sold out yesterday, and who tonight cried herself to sleep when nobody was looking at her. Here, a worn old negress, whose thin arms and callous fingers tell of hard toil, waiting to be sold tomorrow, as a cast-off article, for what can be got for her; and some forty or fifty others, with heads variously enveloped in blankets or articles of clothing, lie stretched around them. But, in a corner, sitting apart from the rest, are two females of a more interesting appearance than common. One of these is a respectably-dressed mulatto woman between forty and fifty, with soft eyes and a gentle and pleasing physiognomy. She has on her head a high-raised turban, made of a gay red Madras handkerchief, of the first quality, her dress is neatly fitted, and of good material, showing that she has been provided for with a careful hand. By her side, and nestling closely to her, is a young girl of fifteen,—her daughter. She is a quadroon, as may be seen from her fairer complexion, though her likeness to her mother is quite discernible. She has the same soft, dark eye, with longer lashes, and her curling hair is of a luxuriant brown. She also is dressed with great neatness, and her white, delicate hands betray very little acquaintance with servile toil. These two are to be sold tomorrow, in the same lot with the St. Clare servants; and the gentleman to whom they belong, and to whom the money for their sale is to be transmitted, is a member of a Christian church in New York, who will receive the money, and go thereafter to the sacrament of his Lord and theirs, and think no more of it.

These two, whom we shall call Susan and Emmeline, had been the personal attendants of an amiable and pious lady of New Orleans, by whom they had been carefully and piously instructed and trained. They had been taught to read and write, diligently instructed in the truths of religion, and their lot had been as happy an one as in their condition it was possible to be. But the only son of their protectress had the management of her property; and, by carelessness and extravagance involved it to a large amount, and at last failed. One of the largest creditors was the respectable firm of B. & Co., in New York. B. & Co. wrote to their lawyer in New Orleans, who attached the real estate (these two articles and a lot of plantation hands formed the most valuable part of it), and wrote word to that effect to New York. Brother B., being, as we have said, a Christian man, and a resident in a free State, felt some uneasiness on the subject. He didn’t like trading in slaves and souls of men,—of course, he didn’t; but, then, there were thirty thousand dollars in the case, and that was rather too much money to be lost for a principle; and so, after much considering, and asking advice from those that he knew would advise to suit him, Brother B. wrote to his lawyer to dispose of the business in the way that seemed to him the most suitable, and remit the proceeds.

The day after the letter arrived in New Orleans, Susan and Emmeline were attached, and sent to the depot to await a general auction on the following morning; and as they glimmer faintly upon us in the moonlight which steals through the grated window, we may listen to their conversation. Both are weeping, but each quietly, that the other may not hear.

“Mother, just lay your head on my lap, and see if you can’t sleep a little,” says the girl, trying to appear calm.

“I haven’t any heart to sleep, Em; I can’t; it’s the last night we may be together!”

“O, mother, don’t say so! perhaps we shall get sold together,—who knows?”

“If ’t was anybody’s else case, I should say so, too, Em,” said the woman; “but I’m so feard of losin’ you that I don’t see anything but the danger.”

“Why, mother, the man said we were both likely, and would sell well.”

Susan remembered the man’s looks and words. With a deadly sickness at her heart, she remembered how he had looked at Emmeline’s hands, and lifted up her curly hair, and pronounced her a first-rate article. Susan had been trained as a Christian, brought up in the daily reading of the Bible, and had the same horror of her child’s being sold to a life of shame that any other Christian mother might have; but she had no hope,—no protection.

“Mother, I think we might do first rate, if you could get a place as cook, and I as chambermaid or seamstress, in some family. I dare say we shall. Let’s both look as bright and lively as we can, and tell all we can do, and perhaps we shall,” said Emmeline.

“I want you to brush your hair all back straight, tomorrow,” said Susan.

“What for, mother? I don’t look near so well, that way.”

“Yes, but you’ll sell better so.”

“I don’t see why!” said the child.

“Respectable families would be more apt to buy you, if they saw you looked plain and decent, as if you wasn’t trying to look handsome. I know their ways better ’n you do,” said Susan.

“Well, mother, then I will.”

“And, Emmeline, if we shouldn’t ever see each other again, after tomorrow,—if I’m sold way up on a plantation somewhere, and you somewhere else,—always remember how you’ve been brought up, and all Missis has told you; take your Bible with you, and your hymn-book; and if you’re faithful to the Lord, he’ll be faithful to you.”

So speaks the poor soul, in sore discouragement; for she knows that tomorrow any man, however vile and brutal, however godless and merciless, if he only has money to pay for her, may become owner of her daughter, body and soul; and then, how is the child to be faithful? She thinks of all this, as she holds her daughter in her arms, and wishes that she were not handsome and attractive. It seems almost an aggravation to her to remember how purely and piously, how much above the ordinary lot, she has been brought up. But she has no resort but to pray; and many such prayers to God have gone up from those same trim, neatly-arranged, respectable slave-prisons,—prayers which God has not forgotten, as a coming day shall show; for it is written, “Who causeth one of these little ones to offend, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”

The soft, earnest, quiet moonbeam looks in fixedly, marking the bars of the grated windows on the prostrate, sleeping forms. The mother and daughter are singing together a wild and melancholy dirge, common as a funeral hymn among the slaves:

“O, where is weeping Mary?
O, where is weeping Mary?
          ’Rived in the goodly land.
She is dead and gone to Heaven;
She is dead and gone to Heaven;
          ’Rived in the goodly land.”

These words, sung by voices of a peculiar and melancholy sweetness, in an air which seemed like the sighing of earthy despair after heavenly hope, floated through the dark prison rooms with a pathetic cadence, as verse after verse was breathed out:

“O, where are Paul and Silas?
O, where are Paul and Silas?
          Gone to the goodly land.
They are dead and gone to Heaven;
They are dead and gone to Heaven;
          ’Rived in the goodly land.”

Sing on poor souls! The night is short, and the morning will part you forever!

But now it is morning, and everybody is astir; and the worthy Mr. Skeggs is busy and bright, for a lot of goods is to be fitted out for auction. There is a brisk lookout on the toilet; injunctions passed around to every one to put on their best face and be spry; and now all are arranged in a circle for a last review, before they are marched up to the Bourse.

Mr. Skeggs, with his palmetto on and his cigar in his mouth, walks around to put farewell touches on his wares.

“How’s this?” he said, stepping in front of Susan and Emmeline. “Where’s your curls, gal?”

The girl looked timidly at her mother, who, with the smooth adroitness common among her class, answers,

“I was telling her, last night, to put up her hair smooth and neat, and not havin’ it flying about in curls; looks more respectable so.”

“Bother!” said the man, peremptorily, turning to the girl; “you go right along, and curl yourself real smart!” He added, giving a crack to a rattan he held in his hand, “And be back in quick time, too!”

“You go and help her,” he added, to the mother. “Them curls may make a hundred dollars difference in the sale of her.”

Beneath a splendid dome were men of all nations, moving to and fro, over the marble pave. On every side of the circular area were little tribunes, or stations, for the use of speakers and auctioneers. Two of these, on opposite sides of the area, were now occupied by brilliant and talented gentlemen, enthusiastically forcing up, in English and French commingled, the bids of connoisseurs in their various wares. A third one, on the other side, still unoccupied, was surrounded by a group, waiting the moment of sale to begin. And here we may recognize the St. Clare servants,—Tom, Adolph, and others; and there, too, Susan and Emmeline, awaiting their turn with anxious and dejected faces. Various spectators, intending to purchase, or not intending, examining, and commenting on their various points and faces with the same freedom that a set of jockeys discuss the merits of a horse.

“Hulloa, Alf! what brings you here?” said a young exquisite, slapping the shoulder of a sprucely-dressed young man, who was examining Adolph through an eye-glass.

“Well! I was wanting a valet, and I heard that St. Clare’s lot was going. I thought I’d just look at his—”

“Catch me ever buying any of St. Clare’s people! Spoilt niggers, every one. Impudent as the devil!” said the other.

“Never fear that!” said the first. “If I get ’em, I’ll soon have their airs out of them; they’ll soon find that they’ve another kind of master to deal with than Monsieur St. Clare. ’Pon my word, I’ll buy that fellow. I like the shape of him.”

“You’ll find it’ll take all you’ve got to keep him. He’s deucedly extravagant!”

“Yes, but my lord will find that he can’t be extravagant with me. Just let him be sent to the calaboose a few times, and thoroughly dressed down! I’ll tell you if it don’t bring him to a sense of his ways! O, I’ll reform him, up hill and down,—you’ll see. I buy him, that’s flat!”

Tom had been standing wistfully examining the multitude of faces thronging around him, for one whom he would wish to call master. And if you should ever be under the necessity, sir, of selecting, out of two hundred men, one who was to become your absolute owner and disposer, you would, perhaps, realize, just as Tom did, how few there were that you would feel at all comfortable in being made over to. Tom saw abundance of men,—great, burly, gruff men; little, chirping, dried men; long-favored, lank, hard men; and every variety of stubbed-looking, commonplace men, who pick up their fellow-men as one picks up chips, putting them into the fire or a basket with equal unconcern, according to their convenience; but he saw no St. Clare.

A little before the sale commenced, a short, broad, muscular man, in a checked shirt considerably open at the bosom, and pantaloons much the worse for dirt and wear, elbowed his way through the crowd, like one who is going actively into a business; and, coming up to the group, began to examine them systematically. From the moment that Tom saw him approaching, he felt an immediate and revolting horror at him, that increased as he came near. He was evidently, though short, of gigantic strength. His round, bullet head, large, light-gray eyes, with their shaggy, sandy eyebrows, and stiff, wiry, sun-burned hair, were rather unprepossessing items, it is to be confessed; his large, coarse mouth was distended with tobacco, the juice of which, from time to time, he ejected from him with great decision and explosive force; his hands were immensely large, hairy, sun-burned, freckled, and very dirty, and garnished with long nails, in a very foul condition. This man proceeded to a very free personal examination of the lot. He seized Tom by the jaw, and pulled open his mouth to inspect his teeth; made him strip up his sleeve, to show his muscle; turned him round, made him jump and spring, to show his paces.

“Where was you raised?” he added, briefly, to these investigations.

“In Kintuck, Mas’r,” said Tom, looking about, as if for deliverance.

“What have you done?”

“Had care of Mas’r’s farm,” said Tom.

“Likely story!” said the other, shortly, as he passed on. He paused a moment before Dolph; then spitting a discharge of tobacco-juice on his well-blacked boots, and giving a contemptuous umph, he walked on. Again he stopped before Susan and Emmeline. He put out his heavy, dirty hand, and drew the girl towards him; passed it over her neck and bust, felt her arms, looked at her teeth, and then pushed her back against her mother, whose patient face showed the suffering she had been going through at every motion of the hideous stranger.

The girl was frightened, and began to cry.

“Stop that, you minx!” said the salesman; “no whimpering here,—the sale is going to begin.” And accordingly the sale begun.

Adolph was knocked off, at a good sum, to the young gentlemen who had previously stated his intention of buying him; and the other servants of the St. Clare lot went to various bidders.

“Now, up with you, boy! d’ye hear?” said the auctioneer to Tom.

Tom stepped upon the block, gave a few anxious looks round; all seemed mingled in a common, indistinct noise,—the clatter of the salesman crying off his qualifications in French and English, the quick fire of French and English bids; and almost in a moment came the final thump of the hammer, and the clear ring on the last syllable of the word “dollars,” as the auctioneer announced his price, and Tom was made over.—He had a master!

He was pushed from the block;—the short, bullet-headed man seizing him roughly by the shoulder, pushed him to one side, saying, in a harsh voice, “Stand there, you!”

Tom hardly realized anything; but still the bidding went on,—ratting, clattering, now French, now English. Down goes the hammer again,—Susan is sold! She goes down from the block, stops, looks wistfully back,—her daughter stretches her hands towards her. She looks with agony in the face of the man who has bought her,—a respectable middle-aged man, of benevolent countenance.

“O, Mas’r, please do buy my daughter!”

“I’d like to, but I’m afraid I can’t afford it!” said the gentleman, looking, with painful interest, as the young girl mounted the block, and looked around her with a frightened and timid glance.

The blood flushes painfully in her otherwise colorless cheek, her eye has a feverish fire, and her mother groans to see that she looks more beautiful than she ever saw her before. The auctioneer sees his advantage, and expatiates volubly in mingled French and English, and bids rise in rapid succession.

“I’ll do anything in reason,” said the benevolent-looking gentleman, pressing in and joining with the bids. In a few moments they have run beyond his purse. He is silent; the auctioneer grows warmer; but bids gradually drop off. It lies now between an aristocratic old citizen and our bullet-headed acquaintance. The citizen bids for a few turns, contemptuously measuring his opponent; but the bullet-head has the advantage over him, both in obstinacy and concealed length of purse, and the controversy lasts but a moment; the hammer falls,—he has got the girl, body and soul, unless God help her!

Her master is Mr. Legree, who owns a cotton plantation on the Red River. She is pushed along into the same lot with Tom and two other men, and goes off, weeping as she goes.

The benevolent gentleman is sorry; but, then, the thing happens every day! One sees girls and mothers crying, at these sales, always! it can’t be helped, &c.; and he walks off, with his acquisition, in another direction.

Two days after, the lawyer of the Christian firm of B. & Co., New York, send on their money to them. On the reverse of that draft, so obtained, let them write these words of the great Paymaster, to whom they shall make up their account in a future day: “When he maketh inquisition for blood, he forgetteth not the cry of the humble!”