{tocify}


Uncle Tom's Cabin
Volume II



Chapter

Book

first_page
play_arrow
last_page
00:00
00:00
volume_down_alt volume_up




CHAPTER XIX

Miss Ophelia’s Experiences and Opinions Continued
“Tom, you needn’t get me the horses. I don’t want to go,” she said.

“Why not, Miss Eva?”

“These things sink into my heart, Tom,” said Eva⁠—“they sink into my heart,” she repeated, earnestly. “I don’t want to go;” and she turned from Tom, and went into the house.

A few days after, another woman came, in old Prue’s place, to bring the rusks; Miss Ophelia was in the kitchen.

“Lor!” said Dinah, “what’s got Prue?”

“Prue isn’t coming any more,” said the woman, mysteriously.

“Why not?” said Dinah, “she an’t dead, is she?”

“We doesn’t exactly know. She’s down cellar,” said the woman, glancing at Miss Ophelia.

After Miss Ophelia had taken the rusks, Dinah followed the woman to the door.

“What has got Prue, anyhow?” she said.

The woman seemed desirous, yet reluctant, to speak, and answered, in low, mysterious tone.

“Well, you mustn’t tell nobody, Prue, she got drunk agin⁠—and they had her down cellar⁠—and thar they left her all day⁠—and I hearn ’em saying that the flies had got to her⁠—and she’s dead!”

Dinah held up her hands, and, turning, saw close by her side the spirit-like form of Evangeline, her large, mystic eyes dilated with horror, and every drop of blood driven from her lips and cheeks.

“Lor bless us! Miss Eva’s gwine to faint away! What go us all, to let her har such talk? Her pa’ll be rail mad.”

“I shan’t faint, Dinah,” said the child, firmly; “and why shouldn’t I hear it? It an’t so much for me to hear it, as for poor Prue to suffer it.”

Lor sakes! it isn’t for sweet, delicate young ladies, like you⁠—these yer stories isn’t; it’s enough to kill ’em!”

Eva sighed again, and walked upstairs with a slow and melancholy step.

Miss Ophelia anxiously inquired the woman’s story. Dinah gave a very garrulous version of it, to which Tom added the particulars which he had drawn from her that morning.

“An abominable business⁠—perfectly horrible!” she exclaimed, as she entered the room where St. Clare lay reading his paper.

“Pray, what iniquity has turned up now?” said he.

“What now? why, those folks have whipped Prue to death!” said Miss Ophelia, going on, with great strength of detail, into the story, and enlarging on its most shocking particulars.

“I thought it would come to that, some time,” said St. Clare, going on with his paper.

“Thought so!⁠—an’t you going to do anything about it?” said Miss Ophelia. “Haven’t you got any selectmen, or anybody, to interfere and look after such matters?”

“It’s commonly supposed that the property interest is a sufficient guard in these cases. If people choose to ruin their own possessions, I don’t know what’s to be done. It seems the poor creature was a thief and a drunkard; and so there won’t be much hope to get up sympathy for her.”

“It is perfectly outrageous⁠—it is horrid, Augustine! It will certainly bring down vengeance upon you.”

“My dear cousin, I didn’t do it, and I can’t help it; I would, if I could. If low-minded, brutal people will act like themselves, what am I to do? they have absolute control; they are irresponsible despots. There would be no use in interfering; there is no law that amounts to anything practically, for such a case. The best we can do is to shut our eyes and ears, and let it alone. It’s the only resource left us.”

“How can you shut your eyes and ears? How can you let such things alone?”

“My dear child, what do you expect? Here is a whole class⁠—debased, uneducated, indolent, provoking⁠—put, without any sort of terms or conditions, entirely into the hands of such people as the majority in our world are; people who have neither consideration nor self-control, who haven’t even an enlightened regard to their own interest⁠—for that’s the case with the largest half of mankind. Of course, in a community so organized, what can a man of honorable and humane feelings do, but shut his eyes all he can, and harden his heart? I can’t buy every poor wretch I see. I can’t turn knight-errant, and undertake to redress every individual case of wrong in such a city as this. The most I can do is to try and keep out of the way of it.”

St. Clare’s fine countenance was for a moment overcast; he said:

“Come, cousin, don’t stand there looking like one of the Fates; you’ve only seen a peep through the curtain⁠—a specimen of what is going on, the world over, in some shape or other. If we are to be prying and spying into all the dismals of life, we should have no heart to anything. ’Tis like looking too close into the details of Dinah’s kitchen;” and St. Clare lay back on the sofa, and busied himself with his paper.

Miss Ophelia sat down, and pulled out her knitting-work, and sat there grim with indignation. She knit and knit, but while she mused the fire burned; at last she broke out⁠—“I tell you, Augustine, I can’t get over things so, if you can. It’s a perfect abomination for you to defend such a system⁠—that’s my mind!”

“What now?” said St. Clare, looking up. “At it again, hey?”

“I say it’s perfectly abominable for you to defend such a system!” said Miss Ophelia, with increasing warmth.

I defend it, my dear lady? Who ever said I did defend it?” said St. Clare.

“Of course, you defend it⁠—you all do⁠—all you Southerners. What do you have slaves for, if you don’t?”

“Are you such a sweet innocent as to suppose nobody in this world ever does what they don’t think is right? Don’t you, or didn’t you ever, do anything that you did not think quite right?”

“If I do, I repent of it, I hope,” said Miss Ophelia, rattling her needles with energy.

“So do I,” said St. Clare, peeling his orange; “I’m repenting of it all the time.”

“What do you keep on doing it for?”

“Didn’t you ever keep on doing wrong, after you’d repented, my good cousin?”

“Well, only when I’ve been very much tempted,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Well, I’m very much tempted,” said St. Clare; “that’s just my difficulty.”

“But I always resolve I won’t and I try to break off.”

“Well, I have been resolving I won’t, off and on, these ten years,” said St. Clare; “but I haven’t, somehow, got clear. Have you got clear of all your sins, cousin?”

“Cousin Augustine,” said Miss Ophelia, seriously, and laying down her knitting-work, “I suppose I deserve that you should reprove my shortcomings. I know all you say is true enough; nobody else feels them more than I do; but it does seem to me, after all, there is some difference between me and you. It seems to me I would cut off my right hand sooner than keep on, from day to day, doing what I thought was wrong. But, then, my conduct is so inconsistent with my profession, I don’t wonder you reprove me.”

“O, now, cousin,” said Augustine, sitting down on the floor, and laying his head back in her lap, “don’t take on so awfully serious! You know what a good-for-nothing, saucy boy I always was. I love to poke you up⁠—that’s all⁠—just to see you get earnest. I do think you are desperately, distressingly good; it tires me to death to think of it.”

“But this is a serious subject, my boy, Auguste,” said Miss Ophelia, laying her hand on his forehead.

“Dismally so,” said he; “and I⁠—well, I never want to talk seriously in hot weather. What with mosquitos and all, a fellow can’t get himself up to any very sublime moral flights; and I believe,” said St. Clare, suddenly rousing himself up, “there’s a theory, now! I understand now why northern nations are always more virtuous than southern ones⁠—I see into that whole subject.”

“O, Augustine, you are a sad rattle-brain!”

“Am I? Well, so I am, I suppose; but for once I will be serious, now; but you must hand me that basket of oranges;⁠—you see, you’ll have to ‘stay me with flagons and comfort me with apples,’ if I’m going to make this effort. Now,” said Augustine, drawing the basket up, “I’ll begin: When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a fellow to hold two or three dozen of his fellow-worms in captivity, a decent regard to the opinions of society requires⁠—”

“I don’t see that you are growing more serious,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Wait⁠—I’m coming on⁠—you’ll hear. The short of the matter is, cousin,” said he, his handsome face suddenly settling into an earnest and serious expression, “on this abstract question of slavery there can, as I think, be but one opinion. Planters, who have money to make by it⁠—clergymen, who have planters to please⁠—politicians, who want to rule by it⁠—may warp and bend language and ethics to a degree that shall astonish the world at their ingenuity; they can press nature and the Bible, and nobody knows what else, into the service; but, after all, neither they nor the world believe in it one particle the more. It comes from the devil, that’s the short of it;⁠—and, to my mind, it’s a pretty respectable specimen of what he can do in his own line.”

Miss Ophelia stopped her knitting, and looked surprised, and St. Clare, apparently enjoying her astonishment, went on.

“You seem to wonder; but if you will get me fairly at it, I’ll make a clean breast of it. This cursed business, accursed of God and man, what is it? Strip it of all its ornament, run it down to the root and nucleus of the whole, and what is it? Why, because my brother Quashy is ignorant and weak, and I am intelligent and strong⁠—because I know how, and can do it⁠—therefore, I may steal all he has, keep it, and give him only such and so much as suits my fancy. Whatever is too hard, too dirty, too disagreeable, for me, I may set Quashy to doing. Because I don’t like work, Quashy shall work. Because the sun burns me, Quashy shall stay in the sun. Quashy shall earn the money, and I will spend it. Quashy shall lie down in every puddle, that I may walk over dry-shod. Quashy shall do my will, and not his, all the days of his mortal life, and have such chance of getting to heaven, at last, as I find convenient. This I take to be about what slavery is. I defy anybody on earth to read our slave-code, as it stands in our law-books, and make anything else of it. Talk of the abuses of slavery! Humbug! The thing itself is the essence of all abuse! And the only reason why the land don’t sink under it, like Sodom and Gomorrah, is because it is used in a way infinitely better than it is. For pity’s sake, for shame’s sake, because we are men born of women, and not savage beasts, many of us do not, and dare not⁠—we would scorn to use the full power which our savage laws put into our hands. And he who goes the furthest, and does the worst, only uses within limits the power that the law gives him.”

St. Clare had started up, and, as his manner was when excited, was walking, with hurried steps, up and down the floor. His fine face, classic as that of a Greek statue, seemed actually to burn with the fervor of his feelings. His large blue eyes flashed, and he gestured with an unconscious eagerness. Miss Ophelia had never seen him in this mood before, and she sat perfectly silent.

“I declare to you,” said he, suddenly stopping before his cousin “(It’s no sort of use to talk or to feel on this subject), but I declare to you, there have been times when I have thought, if the whole country would sink, and hide all this injustice and misery from the light, I would willingly sink with it. When I have been travelling up and down on our boats, or about on my collecting tours, and reflected that every brutal, disgusting, mean, low-lived fellow I met, was allowed by our laws to become absolute despot of as many men, women and children, as he could cheat, steal, or gamble money enough to buy⁠—when I have seen such men in actual ownership of helpless children, of young girls and women⁠—I have been ready to curse my country, to curse the human race!”

“Augustine! Augustine!” said Miss Ophelia, “I’m sure you’ve said enough. I never, in my life, heard anything like this, even at the North.”

“At the North!” said St. Clare, with a sudden change of expression, and resuming something of his habitual careless tone. “Pooh! your northern folks are cold-blooded; you are cool in everything! You can’t begin to curse up hill and down as we can, when we get fairly at it.”

“Well, but the question is,” said Miss Ophelia.

“O, yes, to be sure, the question is⁠—and a deuce of a question it is! How came you in this state of sin and misery? Well, I shall answer in the good old words you used to teach me, Sundays. I came so by ordinary generation. My servants were my father’s, and, what is more, my mother’s; and now they are mine, they and their increase, which bids fair to be a pretty considerable item. My father, you know, came first from New England; and he was just such another man as your father⁠—a regular old Roman⁠—upright, energetic, noble-minded, with an iron will. Your father settled down in New England, to rule over rocks and stones, and to force an existence out of Nature; and mine settled in Louisiana, to rule over men and women, and force existence out of them. My mother,” said St. Clare, getting up and walking to a picture at the end of the room, and gazing upward with a face fervent with veneration, “she was divine! Don’t look at me so!⁠—you know what I mean! She probably was of mortal birth; but, as far as ever I could observe, there was no trace of any human weakness or error about her; and everybody that lives to remember her, whether bond or free, servant, acquaintance, relation, all say the same. Why, cousin, that mother has been all that has stood between me and utter unbelief for years. She was a direct embodiment and personification of the New Testament⁠—a living fact, to be accounted for, and to be accounted for in no other way than by its truth. O, mother! mother!” said St. Clare, clasping his hands, in a sort of transport; and then suddenly checking himself, he came back, and seating himself on an ottoman, he went on:

“My brother and I were twins; and they say, you know, that twins ought to resemble each other; but we were in all points a contrast. He had black, fiery eyes, coal-black hair, a strong, fine Roman profile, and a rich brown complexion. I had blue eyes, golden hair, a Greek outline, and fair complexion. He was active and observing, I dreamy and inactive. He was generous to his friends and equals, but proud, dominant, overbearing, to inferiors, and utterly unmerciful to whatever set itself up against him. Truthful we both were; he from pride and courage, I from a sort of abstract ideality. We loved each other about as boys generally do⁠—off and on, and in general;⁠—he was my father’s pet, and I my mother’s.

“There was a morbid sensitiveness and acuteness of feeling in me on all possible subjects, of which he and my father had no kind of understanding, and with which they could have no possible sympathy. But mother did; and so, when I had quarreled with Alfred, and father looked sternly on me, I used to go off to mother’s room, and sit by her. I remember just how she used to look, with her pale cheeks, her deep, soft, serious eyes, her white dress⁠—she always wore white; and I used to think of her whenever I read in Revelations about the saints that were arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. She had a great deal of genius of one sort and another, particularly in music; and she used to sit at her organ, playing fine old majestic music of the Catholic church, and singing with a voice more like an angel than a mortal woman; and I would lay my head down on her lap, and cry, and dream, and feel⁠—oh, immeasurably!⁠—things that I had no language to say!

“In those days, this matter of slavery had never been canvassed as it has now; nobody dreamed of any harm in it.

“My father was a born aristocrat. I think, in some preexistent state, he must have been in the higher circles of spirits, and brought all his old court pride along with him; for it was ingrain, bred in the bone, though he was originally of poor and not in any way of noble family. My brother was begotten in his image.

“Now, an aristocrat, you know, the world over, has no human sympathies, beyond a certain line in society. In England the line is in one place, in Burma in another, and in America in another; but the aristocrat of all these countries never goes over it. What would be hardship and distress and injustice in his own class, is a cool matter of course in another one. My father’s dividing line was that of color. Among his equals, never was a man more just and generous; but he considered the negro, through all possible gradations of color, as an intermediate link between man and animals, and graded all his ideas of justice or generosity on this hypothesis. I suppose, to be sure, if anybody had asked him, plump and fair, whether they had human immortal souls, he might have hemmed and hawed, and said yes. But my father was not a man much troubled with spiritualism; religious sentiment he had none, beyond a veneration for God, as decidedly the head of the upper classes.

“Well, my father worked some five hundred negroes; he was an inflexible, driving, punctilious business man; everything was to move by system⁠—to be sustained with unfailing accuracy and precision. Now, if you take into account that all this was to be worked out by a set of lazy, twaddling, shiftless laborers, who had grown up, all their lives, in the absence of every possible motive to learn how to do anything but ‘shirk,’ as you Vermonters say, and you’ll see that there might naturally be, on his plantation, a great many things that looked horrible and distressing to a sensitive child, like me.

“Besides all, he had an overseer⁠—great, tall, slab-sided, two-fisted renegade son of Vermont⁠—(begging your pardon)⁠—who had gone through a regular apprenticeship in hardness and brutality and taken his degree to be admitted to practice. My mother never could endure him, nor I; but he obtained an entire ascendency over my father; and this man was the absolute despot of the estate.

“I was a little fellow then, but I had the same love that I have now for all kinds of human things⁠—a kind of passion for the study of humanity, come in what shape it would. I was found in the cabins and among the field-hands a great deal, and, of course, was a great favorite; and all sorts of complaints and grievances were breathed in my ear; and I told them to mother, and we, between us, formed a sort of committee for a redress of grievances. We hindered and repressed a great deal of cruelty, and congratulated ourselves on doing a vast deal of good, till, as often happens, my zeal overacted. Stubbs complained to my father that he couldn’t manage the hands, and must resign his position. Father was a fond, indulgent husband, but a man that never flinched from anything that he thought necessary; and so he put down his foot, like a rock, between us and the field-hands. He told my mother, in language perfectly respectful and deferential, but quite explicit, that over the house-servants she should be entire mistress, but that with the field-hands he could allow no interference. He revered and respected her above all living beings; but he would have said it all the same to the virgin Mary herself, if she had come in the way of his system.

“I used sometimes to hear my mother reasoning cases with him⁠—endeavoring to excite his sympathies. He would listen to the most pathetic appeals with the most discouraging politeness and equanimity. ‘It all resolves itself into this,’ he would say; ‘must I part with Stubbs, or keep him? Stubbs is the soul of punctuality, honesty, and efficiency⁠—a thorough business hand, and as humane as the general run. We can’t have perfection; and if I keep him, I must sustain his administration as a whole, even if there are, now and then, things that are exceptionable. All government includes some necessary hardness. General rules will bear hard on particular cases.’ This last maxim my father seemed to consider a settler in most alleged cases of cruelty. After he had said that, he commonly drew up his feet on the sofa, like a man that has disposed of a business, and betook himself to a nap, or the newspaper, as the case might be.

“The fact is my father showed the exact sort of talent for a statesman. He could have divided Poland as easily as an orange, or trod on Ireland as quietly and systematically as any man living. At last my mother gave up, in despair. It never will be known, till the last account, what noble and sensitive natures like hers have felt, cast, utterly helpless, into what seems to them an abyss of injustice and cruelty, and which seems so to nobody about them. It has been an age of long sorrow of such natures, in such a hell-begotten sort of world as ours. What remained for her, but to train her children in her own views and sentiments? Well, after all you say about training, children will grow up substantially what they are by nature, and only that. From the cradle, Alfred was an aristocrat; and as he grew up, instinctively, all his sympathies and all his reasonings were in that line, and all mother’s exhortations went to the winds. As to me, they sunk deep into me. She never contradicted, in form, anything my father said, or seemed directly to differ from him; but she impressed, burnt into my very soul, with all the force of her deep, earnest nature, an idea of the dignity and worth of the meanest human soul. I have looked in her face with solemn awe, when she would point up to the stars in the evening, and say to me, ‘See there, Auguste! the poorest, meanest soul on our place will be living, when all these stars are gone forever⁠—will live as long as God lives!’

“She had some fine old paintings; one, in particular, of Jesus healing a blind man. They were very fine, and used to impress me strongly. ‘See there, Auguste,’ she would say; ‘the blind man was a beggar, poor and loathsome; therefore, he would not heal him afar off! He called him to him, and put his hands on him! Remember this, my boy.’ If I had lived to grow up under her care, she might have stimulated me to I know not what of enthusiasm. I might have been a saint, reformer, martyr⁠—but, alas! alas! I went from her when I was only thirteen, and I never saw her again!”

St. Clare rested his head on his hands, and did not speak for some minutes. After a while, he looked up, and went on:

“What poor, mean trash this whole business of human virtue is! A mere matter, for the most part, of latitude and longitude, and geographical position, acting with natural temperament. The greater part is nothing but an accident! Your father, for example, settles in Vermont, in a town where all are, in fact, free and equal; becomes a regular church member and deacon, and in due time joins an Abolition society, and thinks us all little better than heathens. Yet he is, for all the world, in constitution and habit, a duplicate of my father. I can see it leaking out in fifty different ways⁠—just the same strong, overbearing, dominant spirit. You know very well how impossible it is to persuade some of the folks in your village that Squire Sinclair does not feel above them. The fact is, though he has fallen on democratic times, and embraced a democratic theory, he is to the heart an aristocrat, as much as my father, who ruled over five or six hundred slaves.”

Miss Ophelia felt rather disposed to cavil at this picture, and was laying down her knitting to begin, but St. Clare stopped her.

“Now, I know every word you are going to say. I do not say they were alike, in fact. One fell into a condition where everything acted against the natural tendency, and the other where everything acted for it; and so one turned out a pretty wilful, stout, overbearing old democrat, and the other a wilful, stout old despot. If both had owned plantations in Louisiana, they would have been as like as two old bullets cast in the same mould.”

“What an undutiful boy you are!” said Miss Ophelia.

“I don’t mean them any disrespect,” said St. Clare. “You know reverence is not my forte. But, to go back to my history:

“When father died, he left the whole property to us twin boys, to be divided as we should agree. There does not breathe on God’s earth a nobler-souled, more generous fellow, than Alfred, in all that concerns his equals; and we got on admirably with this property question, without a single unbrotherly word or feeling. We undertook to work the plantation together; and Alfred, whose outward life and capabilities had double the strength of mine, became an enthusiastic planter, and a wonderfully successful one.

“But two years’ trial satisfied me that I could not be a partner in that matter. To have a great gang of seven hundred, whom I could not know personally, or feel any individual interest in, bought and driven, housed, fed, worked like so many horned cattle, strained up to military precision⁠—the question of how little of life’s commonest enjoyments would keep them in working order being a constantly recurring problem⁠—the necessity of drivers and overseers⁠—the ever-necessary whip, first, last, and only argument⁠—the whole thing was insufferably disgusting and loathsome to me; and when I thought of my mother’s estimate of one poor human soul, it became even frightful!

“It’s all nonsense to talk to me about slaves enjoying all this! To this day, I have no patience with the unutterable trash that some of your patronizing Northerners have made up, as in their zeal to apologize for our sins. We all know better. Tell me that any man living wants to work all his days, from day-dawn till dark, under the constant eye of a master, without the power of putting forth one irresponsible volition, on the same dreary, monotonous, unchanging toil, and all for two pairs of pantaloons and a pair of shoes a year, with enough food and shelter to keep him in working order! Any man who thinks that human beings can, as a general thing, be made about as comfortable that way as any other, I wish he might try it. I’d buy the dog, and work him, with a clear conscience!”

“I always have supposed,” said Miss Ophelia, “that you, all of you, approved of these things, and thought them right⁠—according to Scripture.”

“Humbug! We are not quite reduced to that yet. Alfred who is as determined a despot as ever walked, does not pretend to this kind of defense;⁠—no, he stands, high and haughty, on that good old respectable ground, the right of the strongest; and he says, and I think quite sensibly, that the American planter is ‘only doing, in another form, what the English aristocracy and capitalists are doing by the lower classes;’ that is, I take it, appropriating them, body and bone, soul and spirit, to their use and convenience. He defends both⁠—and I think, at least, consistently. He says that there can be no high civilization without enslavement of the masses, either nominal or real. There must, he says, be a lower class, given up to physical toil and confined to an animal nature; and a higher one thereby acquires leisure and wealth for a more expanded intelligence and improvement, and becomes the directing soul of the lower. So he reasons, because, as I said, he is born an aristocrat;⁠—so I don’t believe, because I was born a democrat.”

“How in the world can the two things be compared?” said Miss Ophelia. “The English laborer is not sold, traded, parted from his family, whipped.”

“He is as much at the will of his employer as if he were sold to him. The slave-owner can whip his refractory slave to death⁠—the capitalist can starve him to death. As to family security, it is hard to say which is the worst⁠—to have one’s children sold, or see them starve to death at home.”

“But it’s no kind of apology for slavery, to prove that it isn’t worse than some other bad thing.”

“I didn’t give it for one⁠—nay, I’ll say, besides, that ours is the more bold and palpable infringement of human rights; actually buying a man up, like a horse⁠—looking at his teeth, cracking his joints, and trying his paces and then paying down for him⁠—having speculators, breeders, traders, and brokers in human bodies and souls⁠—sets the thing before the eyes of the civilized world in a more tangible form, though the thing done be, after all, in its nature, the same; that is, appropriating one set of human beings to the use and improvement of another without any regard to their own.”

“I never thought of the matter in this light,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Well, I’ve travelled in England some, and I’ve looked over a good many documents as to the state of their lower classes; and I really think there is no denying Alfred, when he says that his slaves are better off than a large class of the population of England. You see, you must not infer, from what I have told you, that Alfred is what is called a hard master; for he isn’t. He is despotic, and unmerciful to insubordination; he would shoot a fellow down with as little remorse as he would shoot a buck, if he opposed him. But, in general, he takes a sort of pride in having his slaves comfortably fed and accommodated.

“When I was with him, I insisted that he should do something for their instruction; and, to please me, he did get a chaplain, and used to have them catechized Sunday, though, I believe, in his heart, that he thought it would do about as much good to set a chaplain over his dogs and horses. And the fact is, that a mind stupefied and animalized by every bad influence from the hour of birth, spending the whole of every weekday in unreflecting toil, cannot be done much with by a few hours on Sunday. The teachers of Sunday-schools among the manufacturing population of England, and among plantation-hands in our country, could perhaps testify to the same result, there and here. Yet some striking exceptions there are among us, from the fact that the negro is naturally more impressible to religious sentiment than the white.”

“Well,” said Miss Ophelia, “how came you to give up your plantation life?”

“Well, we jogged on together some time, till Alfred saw plainly that I was no planter. He thought it absurd, after he had reformed, and altered, and improved everywhere, to suit my notions, that I still remained unsatisfied. The fact was, it was, after all, the thing that I hated⁠—the using these men and women, the perpetuation of all this ignorance, brutality and vice⁠—just to make money for me!

“Besides, I was always interfering in the details. Being myself one of the laziest of mortals, I had altogether too much fellow-feeling for the lazy; and when poor, shiftless dogs put stones at the bottom of their cotton-baskets to make them weigh heavier, or filled their sacks with dirt, with cotton at the top, it seemed so exactly like what I should do if I were they, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have them flogged for it. Well, of course, there was an end of plantation discipline; and Alf and I came to about the same point that I and my respected father did, years before. So he told me that I was a womanish sentimentalist, and would never do for business life; and advised me to take the bank-stock and the New Orleans family mansion, and go to writing poetry, and let him manage the plantation. So we parted, and I came here.”

“But why didn’t you free your slaves?”

“Well, I wasn’t up to that. To hold them as tools for moneymaking, I could not;⁠—have them to help spend money, you know, didn’t look quite so ugly to me. Some of them were old house-servants, to whom I was much attached; and the younger ones were children to the old. All were well satisfied to be as they were.” He paused, and walked reflectively up and down the room.

“There was,” said St. Clare, “a time in my life when I had plans and hopes of doing something in this world, more than to float and drift. I had vague, indistinct yearnings to be a sort of emancipator⁠—to free my native land from this spot and stain. All young men have had such fever-fits, I suppose, some time⁠—but then⁠—”

“Why didn’t you?” said Miss Ophelia;⁠—“you ought not to put your hand to the plough, and look back.”

“O, well, things didn’t go with me as I expected, and I got the despair of living that Solomon did. I suppose it was a necessary incident to wisdom in us both; but, some how or other, instead of being actor and regenerator in society, I became a piece of driftwood, and have been floating and eddying about, ever since. Alfred scolds me, every time we meet; and he has the better of me, I grant⁠—for he really does something; his life is a logical result of his opinions and mine is a contemptible non sequitur.”

“My dear cousin, can you be satisfied with such a way of spending your probation?”

“Satisfied! Was I not just telling you I despised it? But, then, to come back to this point⁠—we were on this liberation business. I don’t think my feelings about slavery are peculiar. I find many men who, in their hearts, think of it just as I do. The land groans under it; and, bad as it is for the slave, it is worse, if anything, for the master. It takes no spectacles to see that a great class of vicious, improvident, degraded people, among us, are an evil to us, as well as to themselves. The capitalist and aristocrat of England cannot feel that as we do, because they do not mingle with the class they degrade as we do. They are in our homes; they are the associates of our children, and they form their minds faster than we can; for they are a race that children always will cling to and assimilate with. If Eva, now, was not more angel than ordinary, she would be ruined. We might as well allow the smallpox to run among them, and think our children would not take it, as to let them be uninstructed and vicious, and think our children will not be affected by that. Yet our laws positively and utterly forbid any efficient general educational system, and they do it wisely, too; for, just begin and thoroughly educate one generation, and the whole thing would be blown sky high. If we did not give them liberty, they would take it.”

“And what do you think will be the end of this?” said Miss Ophelia.

“I don’t know. One thing is certain⁠—that there is a mustering among the masses, the world over; and there is a dies irae coming on, sooner or later. The same thing is working in Europe, in England, and in this country. My mother used to tell me of a millennium that was coming, when Christ should reign, and all men should be free and happy. And she taught me, when I was a boy, to pray, ‘thy kingdom come.’ Sometimes I think all this sighing, and groaning, and stirring among the dry bones foretells what she used to tell me was coming. But who may abide the day of His appearing?”

“Augustine, sometimes I think you are not far from the kingdom,” said Miss Ophelia, laying down her knitting, and looking anxiously at her cousin.

“Thank you for your good opinion, but it’s up and down with me⁠—up to heaven’s gate in theory, down in earth’s dust in practice. But there’s the teabell⁠—do let’s go⁠—and don’t say, now, I haven’t had one downright serious talk, for once in my life.”

At table, Marie alluded to the incident of Prue. “I suppose you’ll think, cousin,” she said, “that we are all barbarians.”

“I think that’s a barbarous thing,” said Miss Ophelia, “but I don’t think you are all barbarians.”

“Well, now,” said Marie, “I know it’s impossible to get along with some of these creatures. They are so bad they ought not to live. I don’t feel a particle of sympathy for such cases. If they’d only behave themselves, it would not happen.”

“But, mamma,” said Eva, “the poor creature was unhappy; that’s what made her drink.”

“O, fiddlestick! as if that were any excuse! I’m unhappy, very often. I presume,” she said, pensively, “that I’ve had greater trials than ever she had. It’s just because they are so bad. There’s some of them that you cannot break in by any kind of severity. I remember father had a man that was so lazy he would run away just to get rid of work, and lie round in the swamps, stealing and doing all sorts of horrid things. That man was caught and whipped, time and again, and it never did him any good; and the last time he crawled off, though he couldn’t but just go, and died in the swamp. There was no sort of reason for it, for father’s hands were always treated kindly.”

“I broke a fellow in, once,” said St. Clare, “that all the overseers and masters had tried their hands on in vain.”

“You!” said Marie; “well, I’d be glad to know when you ever did anything of the sort.”

“Well, he was a powerful, gigantic fellow⁠—a native-born African; and he appeared to have the rude instinct of freedom in him to an uncommon degree. He was a regular African lion. They called him Scipio. Nobody could do anything with him; and he was sold round from overseer to overseer, till at last Alfred bought him, because he thought he could manage him. Well, one day he knocked down the overseer, and was fairly off into the swamps. I was on a visit to Alf’s plantation, for it was after we had dissolved partnership. Alfred was greatly exasperated; but I told him that it was his own fault, and laid him any wager that I could break the man; and finally it was agreed that, if I caught him, I should have him to experiment on. So they mustered out a party of some six or seven, with guns and dogs, for the hunt. People, you know, can get up as much enthusiasm in hunting a man as a deer, if it is only customary; in fact, I got a little excited myself, though I had only put in as a sort of mediator, in case he was caught.

“Well, the dogs bayed and howled, and we rode and scampered, and finally we started him. He ran and bounded like a buck, and kept us well in the rear for some time; but at last he got caught in an impenetrable thicket of cane; then he turned to bay, and I tell you he fought the dogs right gallantly. He dashed them to right and left, and actually killed three of them with only his naked fists, when a shot from a gun brought him down, and he fell, wounded and bleeding, almost at my feet. The poor fellow looked up at me with manhood and despair both in his eye. I kept back the dogs and the party, as they came pressing up, and claimed him as my prisoner. It was all I could do to keep them from shooting him, in the flush of success; but I persisted in my bargain, and Alfred sold him to me. Well, I took him in hand, and in one fortnight I had him tamed down as submissive and tractable as heart could desire.”

“What in the world did you do to him?” said Marie.

“Well, it was quite a simple process. I took him to my own room, had a good bed made for him, dressed his wounds, and tended him myself, until he got fairly on his feet again. And, in process of time, I had free papers made out for him, and told him he might go where he liked.”

“And did he go?” said Miss Ophelia.

“No. The foolish fellow tore the paper in two, and absolutely refused to leave me. I never had a braver, better fellow⁠—trusty and true as steel. He embraced Christianity afterwards, and became as gentle as a child. He used to oversee my place on the lake, and did it capitally, too. I lost him the first cholera season. In fact, he laid down his life for me. For I was sick, almost to death; and when, through the panic, everybody else fled, Scipio worked for me like a giant, and actually brought me back into life again. But, poor fellow! he was taken, right after, and there was no saving him. I never felt anybody’s loss more.”

Eva had come gradually nearer and nearer to her father, as he told the story⁠—her small lips apart, her eyes wide and earnest with absorbing interest.

As he finished, she suddenly threw her arms around his neck, burst into tears, and sobbed convulsively.

“Eva, dear child! what is the matter?” said St. Clare, as the child’s small frame trembled and shook with the violence of her feelings. “This child,” he added, “ought not to hear any of this kind of thing⁠—she’s nervous.”

“No, papa, I’m not nervous,” said Eva, controlling herself, suddenly, with a strength of resolution singular in such a child. “I’m not nervous, but these things sink into my heart.”

“What do you mean, Eva?”

“I can’t tell you, papa, I think a great many thoughts. Perhaps some day I shall tell you.”

“Well, think away, dear⁠—only don’t cry and worry your papa,” said St. Clare, “Look here⁠—see what a beautiful peach I have got for you.”

Eva took it and smiled, though there was still a nervous twiching about the corners of her mouth.

“Come, look at the goldfish,” said St. Clare, taking her hand and stepping on to the verandah. A few moments, and merry laughs were heard through the silken curtains, as Eva and St. Clare were pelting each other with roses, and chasing each other among the alleys of the court.

* * * * *

There is danger that our humble friend Tom be neglected amid the adventures of the higher born; but, if our readers will accompany us up to a little loft over the stable, they may, perhaps, learn a little of his affairs. It was a decent room, containing a bed, a chair, and a small, rough stand, where lay Tom’s Bible and hymnbook; and where he sits, at present, with his slate before him, intent on something that seems to cost him a great deal of anxious thought.

The fact was, that Tom’s home-yearnings had become so strong that he had begged a sheet of writing-paper of Eva, and, mustering up all his small stock of literary attainment acquired by Mas’r George’s instructions, he conceived the bold idea of writing a letter; and he was busy now, on his slate, getting out his first draft. Tom was in a good deal of trouble, for the forms of some of the letters he had forgotten entirely; and of what he did remember, he did not know exactly which to use. And while he was working, and breathing very hard, in his earnestness, Eva alighted, like a bird, on the round of his chair behind him, and peeped over his shoulder.

“O, Uncle Tom! what funny things you are making, there!”

“I’m trying to write to my poor old woman, Miss Eva, and my little chil’en,” said Tom, drawing the back of his hand over his eyes; “but, somehow, I’m feard I shan’t make it out.”

“I wish I could help you, Tom! I’ve learnt to write some. Last year I could make all the letters, but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten.”

So Eva put her golden head close to his, and the two commenced a grave and anxious discussion, each one equally earnest, and about equally ignorant; and, with a deal of consulting and advising over every word, the composition began, as they both felt very sanguine, to look quite like writing.

“Yes, Uncle Tom, it really begins to look beautiful,” said Eva, gazing delightedly on it. “How pleased your wife’ll be, and the poor little children! O, it’s a shame you ever had to go away from them! I mean to ask papa to let you go back, some time.”

“Missis said that she would send down money for me, as soon as they could get it together,” said Tom. “I’m ’spectin, she will. Young Mas’r George, he said he’d come for me; and he gave me this yer dollar as a sign;” and Tom drew from under his clothes the precious dollar.

“O, he’ll certainly come, then!” said Eva. “I’m so glad!”

“And I wanted to send a letter, you know, to let ’em know whar I was, and tell poor Chloe that I was well off⁠—cause she felt so drefful, poor soul!”

“I say Tom!” said St. Clare’s voice, coming in the door at this moment.

Tom and Eva both started.

“What’s here?” said St. Clare, coming up and looking at the slate.

“O, it’s Tom’s letter. I’m helping him to write it,” said Eva; “isn’t it nice?”

“I wouldn’t discourage either of you,” said St. Clare, “but I rather think, Tom, you’d better get me to write your letter for you. I’ll do it, when I come home from my ride.”

“It’s very important he should write,” said Eva, “because his mistress is going to send down money to redeem him, you know, papa; he told me they told him so.”

St. Clare thought, in his heart, that this was probably only one of those things which good-natured owners say to their servants, to alleviate their horror of being sold, without any intention of fulfilling the expectation thus excited. But he did not make any audible comment upon it⁠—only ordered Tom to get the horses out for a ride.

Tom’s letter was written in due form for him that evening, and safely lodged in the post-office.

Miss Ophelia still persevered in her labors in the housekeeping line. It was universally agreed, among all the household, from Dinah down to the youngest urchin, that Miss Ophelia was decidedly “curis,”⁠—a term by which a southern servant implies that his or her betters don’t exactly suit them.

The higher circle in the family⁠—to wit, Adolph, Jane and Rosa⁠—agreed that she was no lady; ladies never keep working about as she did⁠—that she had no air at all; and they were surprised that she should be any relation of the St. Clares. Even Marie declared that it was absolutely fatiguing to see Cousin Ophelia always so busy. And, in fact, Miss Ophelia’s industry was so incessant as to lay some foundation for the complaint. She sewed and stitched away, from daylight till dark, with the energy of one who is pressed on by some immediate urgency; and then, when the light faded, and the work was folded away, with one turn out came the ever-ready knitting-work, and there she was again, going on as briskly as ever. It really was a labor to see her.

CHAPTER XX

Topsy
One morning, while Miss Ophelia was busy in some of her domestic cares, St. Clare’s voice was heard, calling her at the foot of the stairs.

“Come down here, Cousin, I’ve something to show you.”

“What is it?” said Miss Ophelia, coming down, with her sewing in her hand.

“I’ve made a purchase for your department⁠—see here,” said St. Clare; and, with the word, he pulled along a little negro girl, about eight or nine years of age.

She was one of the blackest of her race; and her round shining eyes, glittering as glass beads, moved with quick and restless glances over everything in the room. Her mouth, half open with astonishment at the wonders of the new Mas’r’s parlor, displayed a white and brilliant set of teeth. Her woolly hair was braided in sundry little tails, which stuck out in every direction. The expression of her face was an odd mixture of shrewdness and cunning, over which was oddly drawn, like a kind of veil, an expression of the most doleful gravity and solemnity. She was dressed in a single filthy, ragged garment, made of bagging; and stood with her hands demurely folded before her. Altogether, there was something odd and goblin-like about her appearance⁠—something, as Miss Ophelia afterwards said, “so heathenish,” as to inspire that good lady with utter dismay; and turning to St. Clare, she said:

“Augustine, what in the world have you brought that thing here for?”

“For you to educate, to be sure, and train in the way she should go. I thought she was rather a funny specimen in the Jim Crow line. Here, Topsy,” he added, giving a whistle, as a man would to call the attention of a dog, “give us a song, now, and show us some of your dancing.”

The black, glassy eyes glittered with a kind of wicked drollery, and the thing struck up, in a clear shrill voice, an odd negro melody, to which she kept time with her hands and feet, spinning round, clapping her hands, knocking her knees together, in a wild, fantastic sort of time, and producing in her throat all those odd guttural sounds which distinguish the native music of her race; and finally, turning a summerset or two, and giving a prolonged closing note, as odd and unearthly as that of a steam-whistle, she came suddenly down on the carpet, and stood with her hands folded, and a most sanctimonious expression of meekness and solemnity over her face, only broken by the cunning glances which she shot askance from the corners of her eyes.

Miss Ophelia stood silent, perfectly paralyzed with amazement. St. Clare, like a mischievous fellow as he was, appeared to enjoy her astonishment; and, addressing the child again, said:

“Topsy, this is your new mistress. I’m going to give you up to her; see now that you behave yourself.”

“Yes, Mas’r,” said Topsy, with sanctimonious gravity, her wicked eyes twinkling as she spoke.

“You’re going to be good, Topsy, you understand,” said St. Clare.

“O yes, Mas’r,” said Topsy, with another twinkle, her hands still devoutly folded.

“Now, Augustine, what upon earth is this for?” said Miss Ophelia. “Your house is so full of these little plagues, now, that a body can’t set down their foot without treading on ’em. I get up in the morning, and find one asleep behind the door, and see one black head poking out from under the table, one lying on the doormat⁠—and they are mopping and mowing and grinning between all the railings, and tumbling over the kitchen floor! What on earth did you want to bring this one for?”

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

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

“That’s you Christians, all over!⁠—you’ll get up a society, and get some poor missionary to spend all his days among just such heathen. But let me see one of you that would take one into your house with you, and take the labor of their conversion on yourselves! No; when it comes to that, they are dirty and disagreeable, and it’s too much care, and so on.”

“Augustine, you know I didn’t think of it in that light,” said Miss Ophelia, evidently softening. “Well, it might be a real missionary work,” said she, looking rather more favorably on the child.

St. Clare had touched the right string. Miss Ophelia’s conscientiousness was ever on the alert. “But,” she added, “I really didn’t see the need of buying this one;⁠—there are enough now, in your house, to take all my time and skill.”

“Well, then, Cousin,” said St. Clare, drawing her aside, “I ought to beg your pardon for my good-for-nothing speeches. You are so good, after all, that there’s no sense in them. Why, the fact is, this concern belonged to a couple of drunken creatures that keep a low restaurant that I have to pass by every day, and I was tired of hearing her screaming, and them beating and swearing at her. She looked bright and funny, too, as if something might be made of her;⁠—so I bought her, and I’ll give her to you. Try, now, and give her a good orthodox New England bringing up, and see what it’ll make of her. You know I haven’t any gift that way; but I’d like you to try.”

“Well, I’ll do what I can,” said Miss Ophelia; and she approached her new subject very much as a person might be supposed to approach a black spider, supposing them to have benevolent designs toward it.

“She’s dreadfully dirty, and half naked,” she said.

“Well, take her downstairs, and make some of them clean and clothe her up.”

Miss Ophelia carried her to the kitchen regions.

“Don’t see what Mas’r St. Clare wants of ’nother nigger!” said Dinah, surveying the new arrival with no friendly air. “Won’t have her around under my feet, I know!”

“Pah!” said Rosa and Jane, with supreme disgust; “let her keep out of our way! What in the world Mas’r wanted another of these low niggers for, I can’t see!”

“You go long! No more nigger dan you be, Miss Rosa,” said Dinah, who felt this last remark a reflection on herself. “You seem to tink yourself white folks. You an’t nerry one, black nor white, I’d like to be one or turrer.”

Miss Ophelia saw that there was nobody in the camp that would undertake to oversee the cleansing and dressing of the new arrival; and so she was forced to do it herself, with some very ungracious and reluctant assistance from Jane.

It is not for ears polite to hear the particulars of the first toilet of a neglected, abused child. In fact, in this world, multitudes must live and die in a state that it would be too great a shock to the nerves of their fellow-mortals even to hear described. Miss Ophelia had a good, strong, practical deal of resolution; and she went through all the disgusting details with heroic thoroughness, though, it must be confessed, with no very gracious air⁠—for endurance was the utmost to which her principles could bring her. When she saw, on the back and shoulders of the child, great welts and calloused spots, ineffaceable marks of the system under which she had grown up thus far, her heart became pitiful within her.

“See there!” said Jane, pointing to the marks, “don’t that show she’s a limb? We’ll have fine works with her, I reckon. I hate these nigger young uns! so disgusting! I wonder that Mas’r would buy her!”

The “young un” alluded to heard all these comments with the subdued and doleful air which seemed habitual to her, only scanning, with a keen and furtive glance of her flickering eyes, the ornaments which Jane wore in her ears. When arrayed at last in a suit of decent and whole clothing, her hair cropped short to her head, Miss Ophelia, with some satisfaction, said she looked more Christian-like than she did, and in her own mind began to mature some plans for her instruction.

Sitting down before her, she began to question her.

“How old are you, Topsy?”

“Dun no, Missis,” said the image, with a grin that showed all her teeth.

“Don’t know how old you are? Didn’t anybody ever tell you? Who was your mother?”

“Never had none!” said the child, with another grin.

“Never had any mother? What do you mean? Where were you born?”

“Never was born!” persisted Topsy, with another grin, that looked so goblin-like, that, if Miss Ophelia had been at all nervous, she might have fancied that she had got hold of some sooty gnome from the land of Diablerie; but Miss Ophelia was not nervous, but plain and businesslike, and she said, with some sternness:

“You mustn’t answer me in that way, child; I’m not playing with you. Tell me where you were born, and who your father and mother were.”

“Never was born,” reiterated the creature, more emphatically; “never had no father nor mother, nor nothin’. I was raised by a speculator, with lots of others. Old Aunt Sue used to take car on us.”

The child was evidently sincere, and Jane, breaking into a short laugh, said:

“Laws, Missis, there’s heaps of ’em. Speculators buys ’em up cheap, when they’s little, and gets ’em raised for market.”

“How long have you lived with your master and mistress?”

“Dun no, Missis.”

“Is it a year, or more, or less?”

“Dun no, Missis.”

“Laws, Missis, those low negroes⁠—they can’t tell; they don’t know anything about time,” said Jane; “they don’t know what a year is; they don’t know their own ages.

“Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?”

The child looked bewildered, but grinned as usual.

“Do you know who made you?”

“Nobody, as I knows on,” said the child, with a short laugh.

The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added:

“I spect I grow’d. Don’t think nobody never made me.”

“Do you know how to sew?” said Miss Ophelia, who thought she would turn her inquiries to something more tangible.

“No, Missis.”

“What can you do?⁠—what did you do for your master and mistress?”

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

“Were they good to you?”

“Spect they was,” said the child, scanning Miss Ophelia cunningly.

Miss Ophelia rose from this encouraging colloquy; St. Clare was leaning over the back of her chair.

“You find virgin soil there, Cousin; put in your own ideas⁠—you won’t find many to pull up.”

Miss Ophelia’s ideas of education, like all her other ideas, were very set and definite; and of the kind that prevailed in New England a century ago, and which are still preserved in some very retired and unsophisticated parts, where there are no railroads. As nearly as could be expressed, they could be comprised in very few words: to teach them to mind when they were spoken to; to teach them the catechism, sewing, and reading; and to whip them if they told lies. And though, of course, in the flood of light that is now poured on education, these are left far away in the rear, yet it is an undisputed fact that our grandmothers raised some tolerably fair men and women under this regime, as many of us can remember and testify. At all events, Miss Ophelia knew of nothing else to do; and, therefore, applied her mind to her heathen with the best diligence she could command.

The child was announced and considered in the family as Miss Ophelia’s girl; and, as she was looked upon with no gracious eye in the kitchen, Miss Ophelia resolved to confine her sphere of operation and instruction chiefly to her own chamber. With a self-sacrifice which some of our readers will appreciate, she resolved, instead of comfortably making her own bed, sweeping and dusting her own chamber⁠—which she had hitherto done, in utter scorn of all offers of help from the chambermaid of the establishment⁠—to condemn herself to the martyrdom of instructing Topsy to perform these operations⁠—ah, woe the day! Did any of our readers ever do the same, they will appreciate the amount of her self-sacrifice.

Miss Ophelia began with Topsy by taking her into her chamber, the first morning, and solemnly commencing a course of instruction in the art and mystery of bed-making.

Behold, then, Topsy, washed and shorn of all the little braided tails wherein her heart had delighted, arrayed in a clean gown, with well-starched apron, standing reverently before Miss Ophelia, with an expression of solemnity well befitting a funeral.

“Now, Topsy, I’m going to show you just how my bed is to be made. I am very particular about my bed. You must learn exactly how to do it.”

“Yes, ma’am,” says Topsy, with a deep sigh, and a face of woeful earnestness.

“Now, Topsy, look here;⁠—this is the hem of the sheet⁠—this is the right side of the sheet, and this is the wrong;⁠—will you remember?”

“Yes, ma’am,” says Topsy, with another sigh.

“Well, now, the under sheet you must bring over the bolster⁠—so⁠—and tuck it clear down under the mattress nice and smooth⁠—so⁠—do you see?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Topsy, with profound attention.

“But the upper sheet,” said Miss Ophelia, “must be brought down in this way, and tucked under firm and smooth at the foot⁠—so⁠—the narrow hem at the foot.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Topsy, as before;⁠—but we will add, what Miss Ophelia did not see, that, during the time when the good lady’s back was turned in the zeal of her manipulations, the young disciple had contrived to snatch a pair of gloves and a ribbon, which she had adroitly slipped into her sleeves, and stood with her hands dutifully folded, as before.

“Now, Topsy, let’s see you do this,” said Miss Ophelia, pulling off the clothes, and seating herself.

Topsy, with great gravity and adroitness, went through the exercise completely to Miss Ophelia’s satisfaction; smoothing the sheets, patting out every wrinkle, and exhibiting, through the whole process, a gravity and seriousness with which her instructress was greatly edified. By an unlucky slip, however, a fluttering fragment of the ribbon hung out of one of her sleeves, just as she was finishing, and caught Miss Ophelia’s attention. Instantly, she pounced upon it. “What’s this? You naughty, wicked child⁠—you’ve been stealing this!”

The ribbon was pulled out of Topsy’s own sleeve, yet was she not in the least disconcerted; she only looked at it with an air of the most surprised and unconscious innocence.

“Laws! why, that ar’s Miss Feely’s ribbon, an’t it? How could it a got caught in my sleeve?”

“Topsy, you naughty girl, don’t you tell me a lie⁠—you stole that ribbon!”

“Missis, I declar for’t, I didn’t;⁠—never seed it till dis yer blessed minnit.”

“Topsy,” said Miss Ophelia, “don’t you know it’s wicked to tell lies?”

“I never tell no lies, Miss Feely,” said Topsy, with virtuous gravity; “it’s jist the truth I’ve been a tellin now, and an’t nothin else.”

“Topsy, I shall have to whip you, if you tell lies so.”

“Laws, Missis, if you’s to whip all day, couldn’t say no other way,” said Topsy, beginning to blubber. “I never seed dat ar⁠—it must a got caught in my sleeve. Miss Feeley must have left it on the bed, and it got caught in the clothes, and so got in my sleeve.”

Miss Ophelia was so indignant at the barefaced lie, that she caught the child and shook her.

“Don’t you tell me that again!”

The shake brought the glove on to the floor, from the other sleeve.

“There, you!” said Miss Ophelia, “will you tell me now, you didn’t steal the ribbon?”

Topsy now confessed to the gloves, but still persisted in denying the ribbon.

“Now, Topsy,” said Miss Ophelia, “if you’ll confess all about it, I won’t whip you this time.” Thus adjured, Topsy confessed to the ribbon and gloves, with woeful protestations of penitence.

“Well, now, tell me. I know you must have taken other things since you have been in the house, for I let you run about all day yesterday. Now, tell me if you took anything, and I shan’t whip you.”

“Laws, Missis! I took Miss Eva’s red thing she wars on her neck.”

“You did, you naughty child!⁠—Well, what else?”

“I took Rosa’s yer-rings⁠—them red ones.”

“Go bring them to me this minute, both of ’em.”

“Laws, Missis! I can’t⁠—they’s burnt up!”

“Burnt up!⁠—what a story! Go get ’em, or I’ll whip you.”

Topsy, with loud protestations, and tears, and groans, declared that she could not. “They’s burnt up⁠—they was.”

“What did you burn ’em for?” said Miss Ophelia.

“Cause I’s wicked⁠—I is. I’s mighty wicked, anyhow. I can’t help it.”

Just at this moment, Eva came innocently into the room, with the identical coral necklace on her neck.

“Why, Eva, where did you get your necklace?” said Miss Ophelia.

“Get it? Why, I’ve had it on all day,” said Eva.

“Did you have it on yesterday?”

“Yes; and what is funny, Aunty, I had it on all night. I forgot to take it off when I went to bed.”

Miss Ophelia looked perfectly bewildered; the more so, as Rosa, at that instant, came into the room, with a basket of newly-ironed linen poised on her head, and the coral eardrops shaking in her ears!

“I’m sure I can’t tell anything what to do with such a child!” she said, in despair. “What in the world did you tell me you took those things for, Topsy?”

“Why, Missis said I must ’fess; and I couldn’t think of nothin’ else to ’fess,” said Topsy, rubbing her eyes.

“But, of course, I didn’t want you to confess things you didn’t do,” said Miss Ophelia; “that’s telling a lie, just as much as the other.”

“Laws, now, is it?” said Topsy, with an air of innocent wonder.

“La, there an’t any such thing as truth in that limb,” said Rosa, looking indignantly at Topsy. “If I was Mas’r St. Clare, I’d whip her till the blood run. I would⁠—I’d let her catch it!”

“No, no Rosa,” said Eva, with an air of command, which the child could assume at times; “you mustn’t talk so, Rosa. I can’t bear to hear it.”

“La sakes! Miss Eva, you’s so good, you don’t know nothing how to get along with niggers. There’s no way but to cut ’em well up, I tell ye.”

“Rosa!” said Eva, “hush! Don’t you say another word of that sort!” and the eye of the child flashed, and her cheek deepened its color.

Rosa was cowed in a moment.

“Miss Eva has got the St. Clare blood in her, that’s plain. She can speak, for all the world, just like her papa,” she said, as she passed out of the room.

Eva stood looking at Topsy.

There stood the two children representatives of the two extremes of society. The fair, high-bred child, with her golden head, her deep eyes, her spiritual, noble brow, and prince-like movements; and her black, keen, subtle, cringing, yet acute neighbor. They stood the representatives of their races. The Saxon, born of ages of cultivation, command, education, physical and moral eminence; the Afric, born of ages of oppression, submission, ignorance, toil and vice!

Something, perhaps, of such thoughts struggled through Eva’s mind. But a child’s thoughts are rather dim, undefined instincts; and in Eva’s noble nature many such were yearning and working, for which she had no power of utterance. When Miss Ophelia expatiated on Topsy’s naughty, wicked conduct, the child looked perplexed and sorrowful, but said, sweetly.

“Poor Topsy, why need you steal? You’re going to be taken good care of now. I’m sure I’d rather give you anything of mine, than have you steal it.”

It was the first word of kindness the child had ever heard in her life; and the sweet tone and manner struck strangely on the wild, rude heart, and a sparkle of something like a tear shone in the keen, round, glittering eye; but it was followed by the short laugh and habitual grin. No! the ear that has never heard anything but abuse is strangely incredulous of anything so heavenly as kindness; and Topsy only thought Eva’s speech something funny and inexplicable⁠—she did not believe it.

But what was to be done with Topsy? Miss Ophelia found the case a puzzler; her rules for bringing up didn’t seem to apply. She thought she would take time to think of it; and, by the way of gaining time, and in hopes of some indefinite moral virtues supposed to be inherent in dark closets, Miss Ophelia shut Topsy up in one till she had arranged her ideas further on the subject.

“I don’t see,” said Miss Ophelia to St. Clare, “how I’m going to manage that child, without whipping her.”

“Well, whip her, then, to your heart’s content; I’ll give you full power to do what you like.”

“Children always have to be whipped,” said Miss Ophelia; “I never heard of bringing them up without.”

“O, well, certainly,” said St. Clare; “do as you think best. Only I’ll make one suggestion: I’ve seen this child whipped with a poker, knocked down with the shovel or tongs, whichever came handiest, etc.; and, seeing that she is used to that style of operation, I think your whippings will have to be pretty energetic, to make much impression.”

“What is to be done with her, then?” said Miss Ophelia.

“You have started a serious question,” said St. Clare; “I wish you’d answer it. What is to be done with a human being that can be governed only by the lash⁠—that fails⁠—it’s a very common state of things down here!”

“I’m sure I don’t know; I never saw such a child as this.”

“Such children are very common among us, and such men and women, too. How are they to be governed?” said St. Clare.

“I’m sure it’s more than I can say,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Or I either,” said St. Clare. “The horrid cruelties and outrages that once and a while find their way into the papers⁠—such cases as Prue’s, for example⁠—what do they come from? In many cases, it is a gradual hardening process on both sides⁠—the owner growing more and more cruel, as the servant more and more callous. Whipping and abuse are like laudanum; you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline. I saw this very early when I became an owner; and I resolved never to begin, because I did not know when I should stop⁠—and I resolved, at least, to protect my own moral nature. The consequence is, that my servants act like spoiled children; but I think that better than for us both to be brutalized together. You have talked a great deal about our responsibilities in educating, Cousin. I really wanted you to try with one child, who is a specimen of thousands among us.”

“It is your system makes such children,” said Miss Ophelia.

“I know it; but they are made⁠—they exist⁠—and what is to be done with them?”

“Well, I can’t say I thank you for the experiment. But, then, as it appears to be a duty, I shall persevere and try, and do the best I can,” said Miss Ophelia; and Miss Ophelia, after this, did labor, with a commendable degree of zeal and energy, on her new subject. She instituted regular hours and employments for her, and undertook to teach her to read and sew.

In the former art, the child was quick enough. She learned her letters as if by magic, and was very soon able to read plain reading; but the sewing was a more difficult matter. The creature was as lithe as a cat, and as active as a monkey, and the confinement of sewing was her abomination; so she broke her needles, threw them slyly out of the window, or down in chinks of the walls; she tangled, broke, and dirtied her thread, or, with a sly movement, would throw a spool away altogether. Her motions were almost as quick as those of a practised conjurer, and her command of her face quite as great; and though Miss Ophelia could not help feeling that so many accidents could not possibly happen in succession, yet she could not, without a watchfulness which would leave her no time for anything else, detect her.

Topsy was soon a noted character in the establishment. Her talent for every species of drollery, grimace, and mimicry⁠—for dancing, tumbling, climbing, singing, whistling, imitating every sound that hit her fancy⁠—seemed inexhaustible. In her play-hours, she invariably had every child in the establishment at her heels, open-mouthed with admiration and wonder⁠—not excepting Miss Eva, who appeared to be fascinated by her wild diablerie, as a dove is sometimes charmed by a glittering serpent. Miss Ophelia was uneasy that Eva should fancy Topsy’s society so much, and implored St. Clare to forbid it.

“Poh! let the child alone,” said St. Clare. “Topsy will do her good.”

“But so depraved a child⁠—are you not afraid she will teach her some mischief?”

“She can’t teach her mischief; she might teach it to some children, but evil rolls off Eva’s mind like dew off a cabbage-leaf⁠—not a drop sinks in.”

“Don’t be too sure,” said Miss Ophelia. “I know I’d never let a child of mine play with Topsy.”

“Well, your children needn’t,” said St. Clare, “but mine may; if Eva could have been spoiled, it would have been done years ago.”

Topsy was at first despised and contemned by the upper servants. They soon found reason to alter their opinion. It was very soon discovered that whoever cast an indignity on Topsy was sure to meet with some inconvenient accident shortly after;⁠—either a pair of earrings or some cherished trinket would be missing, or an article of dress would be suddenly found utterly ruined, or the person would stumble accidently into a pail of hot water, or a libation of dirty slop would unaccountably deluge them from above when in full gala dress;⁠—and on all these occasions, when investigation was made, there was nobody found to stand sponsor for the indignity. Topsy was cited, and had up before all the domestic judicatories, time and again; but always sustained her examinations with most edifying innocence and gravity of appearance. Nobody in the world ever doubted who did the things; but not a scrap of any direct evidence could be found to establish the suppositions, and Miss Ophelia was too just to feel at liberty to proceed to any length without it.

The mischiefs done were always so nicely timed, also, as further to shelter the aggressor. Thus, the times for revenge on Rosa and Jane, the two chamber maids, were always chosen in those seasons when (as not unfrequently happened) they were in disgrace with their mistress, when any complaint from them would of course meet with no sympathy. In short, Topsy soon made the household understand the propriety of letting her alone; and she was let alone, accordingly.

Topsy was smart and energetic in all manual operations, learning everything that was taught her with surprising quickness. With a few lessons, she had learned to do the proprieties of Miss Ophelia’s chamber in a way with which even that particular lady could find no fault. Mortal hands could not lay spread smoother, adjust pillows more accurately, sweep and dust and arrange more perfectly, than Topsy, when she chose⁠—but she didn’t very often choose. If Miss Ophelia, after three or four days of careful patient supervision, was so sanguine as to suppose that Topsy had at last fallen into her way, could do without overlooking, and so go off and busy herself about something else, Topsy would hold a perfect carnival of confusion, for some one or two hours. Instead of making the bed, she would amuse herself with pulling off the pillowcases, butting her woolly head among the pillows, till it would sometimes be grotesquely ornamented with feathers sticking out in various directions; she would climb the posts, and hang head downward from the tops; flourish the sheets and spreads all over the apartment; dress the bolster up in Miss Ophelia’s nightclothes, and enact various performances with that⁠—singing and whistling, and making grimaces at herself in the looking-glass; in short, as Miss Ophelia phrased it, “raising Cain” generally.

On one occasion, Miss Ophelia found Topsy with her very best scarlet India Canton crape shawl wound round her head for a turban, going on with her rehearsals before the glass in great style⁠—Miss Ophelia having, with carelessness most unheard-of in her, left the key for once in her drawer.

“Topsy!” she would say, when at the end of all patience, “what does make you act so?”

“Dunno, Missis⁠—I spects cause I’s so wicked!”

“I don’t know anything what I shall do with you, Topsy.”

“Law, Missis, you must whip me; my old Missis allers whipped me. I an’t used to workin’ unless I gets whipped.”

“Why, Topsy, I don’t want to whip you. You can do well, if you’ve a mind to; what is the reason you won’t?”

“Laws, Missis, I’s used to whippin’; I spects it’s good for me.”

Miss Ophelia tried the recipe, and Topsy invariably made a terrible commotion, screaming, groaning and imploring, though half an hour afterwards, when roosted on some projection of the balcony, and surrounded by a flock of admiring “young uns,” she would express the utmost contempt of the whole affair.

“Law, Miss Feely whip!⁠—wouldn’t kill a skeeter, her whippins. Oughter see how old Mas’r made the flesh fly; old Mas’r know’d how!”

Topsy always made great capital of her own sins and enormities, evidently considering them as something peculiarly distinguishing.

“Law, you niggers,” she would say to some of her auditors, “does you know you’s all sinners? Well, you is⁠—everybody is. White folks is sinners too⁠—Miss Feely says so; but I spects niggers is the biggest ones; but lor! ye an’t any on ye up to me. I’s so awful wicked there can’t nobody do nothin’ with me. I used to keep old Missis a swarin’ at me half de time. I spects I’s the wickedest critter in the world;” and Topsy would cut a summerset, and come up brisk and shining on to a higher perch, and evidently plume herself on the distinction.

Miss Ophelia busied herself very earnestly on Sundays, teaching Topsy the catechism. Topsy had an uncommon verbal memory, and committed with a fluency that greatly encouraged her instructress.

“What good do you expect it is going to do her?” said St. Clare.

“Why, it always has done children good. It’s what children always have to learn, you know,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Understand it or not,” said St. Clare.

“O, children never understand it at the time; but, after they are grown up, it’ll come to them.”

“Mine hasn’t come to me yet,” said St. Clare, “though I’ll bear testimony that you put it into me pretty thoroughly when I was a boy.”

“Ah, you were always good at learning, Augustine. I used to have great hopes of you,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Well, haven’t you now?” said St. Clare.

“I wish you were as good as you were when you were a boy, Augustine.”

“So do I, that’s a fact, Cousin,” said St. Clare. “Well, go ahead and catechize Topsy; may be you’ll make out something yet.”

Topsy, who had stood like a black statue during this discussion, with hands decently folded, now, at a signal from Miss Ophelia, went on:

“Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created.”

Topsy’s eyes twinkled, and she looked inquiringly.

“What is it, Topsy?” said Miss Ophelia.

“Please, Missis, was dat ar state Kintuck?”

“What state, Topsy?”

“Dat state dey fell out of. I used to hear Mas’r tell how we came down from Kintuck.”

St. Clare laughed.

“You’ll have to give her a meaning, or she’ll make one,” said he. “There seems to be a theory of emigration suggested there.”

“O! Augustine, be still,” said Miss Ophelia; “how can I do anything, if you will be laughing?”

“Well, I won’t disturb the exercises again, on my honor;” and St. Clare took his paper into the parlor, and sat down, till Topsy had finished her recitations. They were all very well, only that now and then she would oddly transpose some important words, and persist in the mistake, in spite of every effort to the contrary; and St. Clare, after all his promises of goodness, took a wicked pleasure in these mistakes, calling Topsy to him whenever he had a mind to amuse himself, and getting her to repeat the offending passages, in spite of Miss Ophelia’s remonstrances.

“How do you think I can do anything with the child, if you will go on so, Augustine?” she would say.

“Well, it is too bad⁠—I won’t again; but I do like to hear the droll little image stumble over those big words!”

“But you confirm her in the wrong way.”

“What’s the odds? One word is as good as another to her.”

“You wanted me to bring her up right; and you ought to remember she is a reasonable creature, and be careful of your influence over her.”

“O, dismal! so I ought; but, as Topsy herself says, ‘I’s so wicked!’ ”

In very much this way Topsy’s training proceeded, for a year or two⁠—Miss Ophelia worrying herself, from day to day, with her, as a kind of chronic plague, to whose inflictions she became, in time, as accustomed, as persons sometimes do to the neuralgia or sick headache.

St. Clare took the same kind of amusement in the child that a man might in the tricks of a parrot or a pointer. Topsy, whenever her sins brought her into disgrace in other quarters, always took refuge behind his chair; and St. Clare, in one way or other, would make peace for her. From him she got many a stray picayune, which she laid out in nuts and candies, and distributed, with careless generosity, to all the children in the family; for Topsy, to do her justice, was good-natured and liberal, and only spiteful in self-defense. She is fairly introduced into our corps de ballet, and will figure, from time to time, in her turn, with other performers.

CHAPTER XXI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If you please, Missis,” said she.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, Chloe.”

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

“Confectioner’s, Chloe.”

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

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

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

“Louisville is a good way off.”

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

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

Chloe’s countenance fell.

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

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

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

“Fifty-two,” said Mrs. Shelby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER XXII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tom,” said Eva, suddenly stopping, and pointing to the lake, “there ’tis.”

“What, Miss Eva?”

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

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

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

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

“O, up in the clouds, Miss Eva.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where, Miss Eva?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eva and Tom hastened in.

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

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

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

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

“But she has that cough!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What a question child! People never do.”

“Why don’t they?” said Eva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How sober you look child!” said Marie.

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

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

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

“What would you do with them?”

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

Eva was cut short by her mother’s laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER XXIII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mas’r Henrique!⁠—” he began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dodo soon appeared, with the horses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dies declarabit,” said Alfred, laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

“Stuff!⁠—nonsense!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That may be,” said St. Clare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I?⁠—Well, of course not.”

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

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

“Why can’t you?” said Eva.

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

“I do, indeed.”

“How odd!”

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

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

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

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

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

The dinner-bell put an end to the interview.

CHAPTER XXIV

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

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

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

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

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

“But she has a cough.”

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

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

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

“But she sweats so, nights!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why, Miss Eva?”

“Because I’ve felt so, too.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Eva, dear, you are better nowadays⁠—are you not?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where, dearest?” said St. Clare.

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPTER XXV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But you love your father and mother?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t you think so?” said Eva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Eva does, it seems.”

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

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

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 bedroom 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 rosebuds and leaves, and a centrepiece 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 anyone, 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 everyone.

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 everyone. 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 anyone 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, heartfelt 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 softhearted 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 rosebud 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 rosebud. “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 hardhearted 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 café, 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 eggshell.”

“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 anyone 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 heartbroken. 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 defenseless 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 ’twas 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—textbook⁠—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 teatime. 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 Aeolian 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 Irae.”

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.”[3]

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 café, 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 fullness 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 everyday 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 ladylike 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 crestfallen 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, anyway. 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 deathbed, 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 teapots 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 ’twas 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 hymnbook; 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 everyone 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 eyeglass.

“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, sunburned 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, sunburned, 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, etc.; 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!

CHAPTER XXXI

The Middle Passage
“Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?”
Hab. 1:13

On the lower part of a small, mean boat, on the Red River, Tom sat⁠—chains on his wrists, chains on his feet, and a weight heavier than chains lay on his heart. All had faded from his sky⁠—moon and star; all had passed by him, as the trees and banks were now passing, to return no more. Kentucky home, with wife and children, and indulgent owners; St. Clare home, with all its refinements and splendors; the golden head of Eva, with its saintlike eyes; the proud, gay, handsome, seemingly careless, yet ever-kind St. Clare; hours of ease and indulgent leisure⁠—all gone! and in place thereof, what remains?

It is one of the bitterest apportionments of a lot of slavery, that the negro, sympathetic and assimilative, after acquiring, in a refined family, the tastes and feelings which form the atmosphere of such a place, is not the less liable to become the bond-slave of the coarsest and most brutal⁠—just as a chair or table, which once decorated the superb saloon, comes, at last, battered and defaced, to the barroom of some filthy tavern, or some low haunt of vulgar debauchery. The great difference is, that the table and chair cannot feel, and the man can; for even a legal enactment that he shall be “taken, reputed, adjudged in law, to be a chattel personal,” cannot blot out his soul, with its own private little world of memories, hopes, loves, fears, and desires.

Mr. Simon Legree, Tom’s master, had purchased slaves at one place and another, in New Orleans, to the number of eight, and driven them, handcuffed, in couples of two and two, down to the good steamer Pirate, which lay at the levee, ready for a trip up the Red River.

Having got them fairly on board, and the boat being off, he came round, with that air of efficiency which ever characterized him, to take a review of them. Stopping opposite to Tom, who had been attired for sale in his best broadcloth suit, with well-starched linen and shining boots, he briefly expressed himself as follows:

“Stand up.”

Tom stood up.

“Take off that stock!” and, as Tom, encumbered by his fetters, proceeded to do it, he assisted him, by pulling it, with no gentle hand, from his neck, and putting it in his pocket.

Legree now turned to Tom’s trunk, which, previous to this, he had been ransacking, and, taking from it a pair of old pantaloons and dilapidated coat, which Tom had been wont to put on about his stable-work, he said, liberating Tom’s hands from the handcuffs, and pointing to a recess in among the boxes:

“You go there, and put these on.”

Tom obeyed, and in a few moments returned.

“Take off your boots,” said Mr. Legree.

Tom did so.

“There,” said the former, throwing him a pair of coarse, stout shoes, such as were common among the slaves, “put these on.”

In Tom’s hurried exchange, he had not forgotten to transfer his cherished Bible to his pocket. It was well he did so; for Mr. Legree, having refitted Tom’s handcuffs, proceeded deliberately to investigate the contents of his pockets. He drew out a silk handkerchief, and put it into his own pocket. Several little trifles, which Tom had treasured, chiefly because they had amused Eva, he looked upon with a contemptuous grunt, and tossed them over his shoulder into the river.

Tom’s Methodist hymnbook, which, in his hurry, he had forgotten, he now held up and turned over.

“Humph! pious, to be sure. So, what’s yer name⁠—you belong to the church, eh?”

“Yes, Mas’r,” said Tom, firmly.

“Well, I’ll soon have that out of you. I have none o’ yer bawling, praying, singing niggers on my place; so remember. Now, mind yourself,” he said, with a stamp and a fierce glance of his gray eye, directed at Tom, “I’m your church now! You understand⁠—you’ve got to be as I say.”

Something within the silent black man answered No! and, as if repeated by an invisible voice, came the words of an old prophetic scroll, as Eva had often read them to him⁠—“Fear not! for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by name. Thou art MINE!”

But Simon Legree heard no voice. That voice is one he never shall hear. He only glared for a moment on the downcast face of Tom, and walked off. He took Tom’s trunk, which contained a very neat and abundant wardrobe, to the forecastle, where it was soon surrounded by various hands of the boat. With much laughing, at the expense of niggers who tried to be gentlemen, the articles very readily were sold to one and another, and the empty trunk finally put up at auction. It was a good joke, they all thought, especially to see how Tom looked after his things, as they were going this way and that; and then the auction of the trunk, that was funnier than all, and occasioned abundant witticisms.

This little affair being over, Simon sauntered up again to his property.

“Now, Tom, I’ve relieved you of any extra baggage, you see. Take mighty good care of them clothes. It’ll be long enough ’fore you get more. I go in for making niggers careful; one suit has to do for one year, on my place.”

Simon next walked up to the place where Emmeline was sitting, chained to another woman.

“Well, my dear,” he said, chucking her under the chin, “keep up your spirits.”

The involuntary look of horror, fright and aversion, with which the girl regarded him, did not escape his eye. He frowned fiercely.

“None o’ your shines, gal! you’s got to keep a pleasant face, when I speak to ye⁠—d’ye hear? And you, you old yellow poco moonshine!” he said, giving a shove to the mulatto woman to whom Emmeline was chained, “don’t you carry that sort of face! You’s got to look chipper, I tell ye!”

“I say, all on ye,” he said retreating a pace or two back, “look at me⁠—look at me⁠—look me right in the eye⁠—straight, now!” said he, stamping his foot at every pause.

As by a fascination, every eye was now directed to the glaring greenish-gray eye of Simon.

“Now,” said he, doubling his great, heavy fist into something resembling a blacksmith’s hammer, “d’ye see this fist? Heft it!” he said, bringing it down on Tom’s hand. “Look at these yer bones! Well, I tell ye this yer fist has got as hard as iron knocking down niggers. I never see the nigger, yet, I couldn’t bring down with one crack,” said he, bringing his fist down so near to the face of Tom that he winked and drew back. “I don’t keep none o’ yer cussed overseers; I does my own overseeing; and I tell you things is seen to. You’s every one on ye got to toe the mark, I tell ye; quick⁠—straight⁠—the moment I speak. That’s the way to keep in with me. Ye won’t find no soft spot in me, nowhere. So, now, mind yerselves; for I don’t show no mercy!”

The women involuntarily drew in their breath, and the whole gang sat with downcast, dejected faces. Meanwhile, Simon turned on his heel, and marched up to the bar of the boat for a dram.

“That’s the way I begin with my niggers,” he said, to a gentlemanly man, who had stood by him during his speech. “It’s my system to begin strong⁠—just let ’em know what to expect.”

“Indeed!” said the stranger, looking upon him with the curiosity of a naturalist studying some out-of-the-way specimen.

“Yes, indeed. I’m none o’ yer gentlemen planters, with lily fingers, to slop round and be cheated by some old cuss of an overseer! Just feel of my knuckles, now; look at my fist. Tell ye, sir, the flesh on’t has come jest like a stone, practising on nigger⁠—feel on it.”

The stranger applied his fingers to the implement in question, and simply said:

“ ’Tis hard enough; and, I suppose,” he added, “practice has made your heart just like it.”

“Why, yes, I may say so,” said Simon, with a hearty laugh. “I reckon there’s as little soft in me as in anyone going. Tell you, nobody comes it over me! Niggers never gets round me, neither with squalling nor soft soap⁠—that’s a fact.”

“You have a fine lot there.”

“Real,” said Simon. “There’s that Tom, they telled me he was suthin’ uncommon. I paid a little high for him, tendin’ him for a driver and a managing chap; only get the notions out that he’s larnt by bein’ treated as niggers never ought to be, he’ll do prime! The yellow woman I got took in on. I rayther think she’s sickly, but I shall put her through for what she’s worth; she may last a year or two. I don’t go for savin’ niggers. Use up, and buy more, ’s my way;⁠—makes you less trouble, and I’m quite sure it comes cheaper in the end;” and Simon sipped his glass.

“And how long do they generally last?” said the stranger.

“Well, donno; ’cordin’ as their constitution is. Stout fellers last six or seven years; trashy ones gets worked up in two or three. I used to, when I fust begun, have considerable trouble fussin’ with ’em and trying to make ’em hold out⁠—doctorin’ on ’em up when they’s sick, and givin’ on ’em clothes and blankets, and whatnot, tryin’ to keep ’em all sort o’ decent and comfortable. Law, ’t wasn’t no sort o’ use; I lost money on ’em, and ’twas heaps o’ trouble. Now, you see, I just put ’em straight through, sick or well. When one nigger’s dead, I buy another; and I find it comes cheaper and easier, every way.”

The stranger turned away, and seated himself beside a gentleman, who had been listening to the conversation with repressed uneasiness.

“You must not take that fellow to be any specimen of Southern planters,” said he.

“I should hope not,” said the young gentleman, with emphasis.

“He is a mean, low, brutal fellow!” said the other.

“And yet your laws allow him to hold any number of human beings subject to his absolute will, without even a shadow of protection; and, low as he is, you cannot say that there are not many such.”

“Well,” said the other, “there are also many considerate and humane men among planters.”

“Granted,” said the young man; “but, in my opinion, it is you considerate, humane men, that are responsible for all the brutality and outrage wrought by these wretches; because, if it were not for your sanction and influence, the whole system could not keep foothold for an hour. If there were no planters except such as that one,” said he, pointing with his finger to Legree, who stood with his back to them, “the whole thing would go down like a millstone. It is your respectability and humanity that licenses and protects his brutality.”

“You certainly have a high opinion of my good nature,” said the planter, smiling, “but I advise you not to talk quite so loud, as there are people on board the boat who might not be quite so tolerant to opinion as I am. You had better wait till I get up to my plantation, and there you may abuse us all, quite at your leisure.”

The young gentleman colored and smiled, and the two were soon busy in a game of backgammon. Meanwhile, another conversation was going on in the lower part of the boat, between Emmeline and the mulatto woman with whom she was confined. As was natural, they were exchanging with each other some particulars of their history.

“Who did you belong to?” said Emmeline.

“Well, my Mas’r was Mr. Ellis⁠—lived on Levee-street. P’raps you’ve seen the house.”

“Was he good to you?” said Emmeline.

“Mostly, till he tuk sick. He’s lain sick, off and on, more than six months, and been orful oneasy. ’Pears like he warnt willin’ to have nobody rest, day or night; and got so curous, there couldn’t nobody suit him. ’Pears like he just grew crosser, every day; kep me up nights till I got farly beat out, and couldn’t keep awake no longer; and cause I got to sleep, one night, Lors, he talk so orful to me, and he tell me he’d sell me to just the hardest master he could find; and he’d promised me my freedom, too, when he died.”

“Had you any friends?” said Emmeline.

“Yes, my husband⁠—he’s a blacksmith. Mas’r gen’ly hired him out. They took me off so quick, I didn’t even have time to see him; and I’s got four children. O, dear me!” said the woman, covering her face with her hands.

It is a natural impulse, in everyone, when they hear a tale of distress, to think of something to say by way of consolation. Emmeline wanted to say something, but she could not think of anything to say. What was there to be said? As by a common consent, they both avoided, with fear and dread, all mention of the horrible man who was now their master.

True, there is religious trust for even the darkest hour. The mulatto woman was a member of the Methodist church, and had an unenlightened but very sincere spirit of piety. Emmeline had been educated much more intelligently⁠—taught to read and write, and diligently instructed in the Bible, by the care of a faithful and pious mistress; yet, would it not try the faith of the firmest Christian, to find themselves abandoned, apparently, of God, in the grasp of ruthless violence? How much more must it shake the faith of Christ’s poor little ones, weak in knowledge and tender in years!

The boat moved on⁠—freighted with its weight of sorrow⁠—up the red, muddy, turbid current, through the abrupt tortuous windings of the Red river; and sad eyes gazed wearily on the steep red-clay banks, as they glided by in dreary sameness. At last the boat stopped at a small town, and Legree, with his party, disembarked.

CHAPTER XXXII

Dark Places
“The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.”

Trailing wearily behind a rude wagon, and over a ruder road, Tom and his associates faced onward.

In the wagon was seated Simon Legree and the two women, still fettered together, were stowed away with some baggage in the back part of it, and the whole company were seeking Legree’s plantation, which lay a good distance off.

It was a wild, forsaken road, now winding through dreary pine barrens, where the wind whispered mournfully, and now over log causeways, through long cypress swamps, the doleful trees rising out of the slimy, spongy ground, hung with long wreaths of funeral black moss, while ever and anon the loathsome form of the moccasin snake might be seen sliding among broken stumps and shattered branches that lay here and there, rotting in the water.

It is disconsolate enough, this riding, to the stranger, who, with well-filled pocket and well-appointed horse, threads the lonely way on some errand of business; but wilder, drearier, to the man enthralled, whom every weary step bears further from all that man loves and prays for.

So one should have thought, that witnessed the sunken and dejected expression on those dark faces; the wistful, patient weariness with which those sad eyes rested on object after object that passed them in their sad journey.

Simon rode on, however, apparently well pleased, occasionally pulling away at a flask of spirit, which he kept in his pocket.

“I say, you!” he said, as he turned back and caught a glance at the dispirited faces behind him. “Strike up a song, boys⁠—come!”

The men looked at each other, and the “come” was repeated, with a smart crack of the whip which the driver carried in his hands. Tom began a Methodist hymn.

“Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name ever dear to me!
When shall my sorrows have an end,
Thy joys when shall⁠—”

“Shut up, you black cuss!” roared Legree; “did ye think I wanted any o’ yer infernal old Methodism? I say, tune up, now, something real rowdy⁠—quick!”

One of the other men struck up one of those unmeaning songs, common among the slaves.

“Mas’r see’d me cotch a coon,
High boys, high!
He laughed to split⁠—d’ye see the moon,
Ho! ho! ho! boys, ho!
Ho! yo! hi⁠—e! oh!”

The singer appeared to make up the song to his own pleasure, generally hitting on rhyme, without much attempt at reason; and the party took up the chorus, at intervals,

“Ho! ho! ho! boys, ho!
High⁠—e⁠—oh! high⁠—e⁠—oh!”

It was sung very boisterouly, and with a forced attempt at merriment; but no wail of despair, no words of impassioned prayer, could have had such a depth of woe in them as the wild notes of the chorus. As if the poor, dumb heart, threatened⁠—prisoned⁠—took refuge in that inarticulate sanctuary of music, and found there a language in which to breathe its prayer to God! There was a prayer in it, which Simon could not hear. He only heard the boys singing noisily, and was well pleased; he was making them “keep up their spirits.”

“Well, my little dear,” said he, turning to Emmeline, and laying his hand on her shoulder, “we’re almost home!”

When Legree scolded and stormed, Emmeline was terrified; but when he laid his hand on her, and spoke as he now did, she felt as if she had rather he would strike her. The expression of his eyes made her soul sick, and her flesh creep. Involuntarily she clung closer to the mulatto woman by her side, as if she were her mother.

“You didn’t ever wear earrings,” he said, taking hold of her small ear with his coarse fingers.

“No, Mas’r!” said Emmeline, trembling and looking down.

“Well, I’ll give you a pair, when we get home, if you’re a good girl. You needn’t be so frightened; I don’t mean to make you work very hard. You’ll have fine times with me, and live like a lady⁠—only be a good girl.”

Legree had been drinking to that degree that he was inclining to be very gracious; and it was about this time that the enclosures of the plantation rose to view. The estate had formerly belonged to a gentleman of opulence and taste, who had bestowed some considerable attention to the adornment of his grounds. Having died insolvent, it had been purchased, at a bargain, by Legree, who used it, as he did everything else, merely as an implement for moneymaking. The place had that ragged, forlorn appearance, which is always produced by the evidence that the care of the former owner has been left to go to utter decay.

What was once a smooth-shaven lawn before the house, dotted here and there with ornamental shrubs, was now covered with frowsy tangled grass, with horseposts set up, here and there, in it, where the turf was stamped away, and the ground littered with broken pails, cobs of corn, and other slovenly remains. Here and there, a mildewed jessamine or honeysuckle hung raggedly from some ornamental support, which had been pushed to one side by being used as a horse-post. What once was a large garden was now all grown over with weeds, through which, here and there, some solitary exotic reared its forsaken head. What had been a conservatory had now no window-shades, and on the mouldering shelves stood some dry, forsaken flowerpots, with sticks in them, whose dried leaves showed they had once been plants.

The wagon rolled up a weedy gravel walk, under a noble avenue of China trees, whose graceful forms and ever-springing foliage seemed to be the only things there that neglect could not daunt or alter⁠—like noble spirits, so deeply rooted in goodness, as to flourish and grow stronger amid discouragement and decay.

The house had been large and handsome. It was built in a manner common at the South; a wide verandah of two stories running round every part of the house, into which every outer door opened, the lower tier being supported by brick pillars.

But the place looked desolate and uncomfortable; some windows stopped up with boards, some with shattered panes, and shutters hanging by a single hinge⁠—all telling of coarse neglect and discomfort.

Bits of board, straw, old decayed barrels and boxes, garnished the ground in all directions; and three or four ferocious-looking dogs, roused by the sound of the wagon-wheels, came tearing out, and were with difficulty restrained from laying hold of Tom and his companions, by the effort of the ragged servants who came after them.

“Ye see what ye’d get!” said Legree, caressing the dogs with grim satisfaction, and turning to Tom and his companions. “Ye see what ye’d get, if ye try to run off. These yer dogs has been raised to track niggers; and they’d jest as soon chaw one on ye up as eat their supper. So, mind yerself! How now, Sambo!” he said, to a ragged fellow, without any brim to his hat, who was officious in his attentions. “How have things been going?”

“Fust rate, Mas’r.”

“Quimbo,” said Legree to another, who was making zealous demonstrations to attract his attention, “ye minded what I telled ye?”

“Guess I did, didn’t I?”

These two colored men were the two principal hands on the plantation. Legree had trained them in savageness and brutality as systematically as he had his bulldogs; and, by long practice in hardness and cruelty, brought their whole nature to about the same range of capacities. It is a common remark, and one that is thought to militate strongly against the character of the race, that the negro overseer is always more tyrannical and cruel than the white one. This is simply saying that the negro mind has been more crushed and debased than the white. It is no more true of this race than of every oppressed race, the world over. The slave is always a tyrant, if he can get a chance to be one.

Legree, like some potentates we read of in history, governed his plantation by a sort of resolution of forces. Sambo and Quimbo cordially hated each other; the plantation hands, one and all, cordially hated them; and, by playing off one against another, he was pretty sure, through one or the other of the three parties, to get informed of whatever was on foot in the place.

Nobody can live entirely without social intercourse; and Legree encouraged his two black satellites to a kind of coarse familiarity with him⁠—a familiarity, however, at any moment liable to get one or the other of them into trouble; for, on the slightest provocation, one of them always stood ready, at a nod, to be a minister of his vengeance on the other.

As they stood there now by Legree, they seemed an apt illustration of the fact that brutal men are lower even than animals. Their coarse, dark, heavy features; their great eyes, rolling enviously on each other; their barbarous, guttural, half-brute intonation; their dilapidated garments fluttering in the wind⁠—were all in admirable keeping with the vile and unwholesome character of everything about the place.

“Here, you Sambo,” said Legree, “take these yer boys down to the quarters; and here’s a gal I’ve got for you,” said he, as he separated the mulatto woman from Emmeline, and pushed her towards him;⁠—“I promised to bring you one, you know.”

The woman gave a start, and drawing back, said, suddenly:

“O, Mas’r! I left my old man in New Orleans.”

“What of that, you⁠—; won’t you want one here? None o’ your words⁠—go long!” said Legree, raising his whip.

“Come, mistress,” he said to Emmeline, “you go in here with me.”

A dark, wild face was seen, for a moment, to glance at the window of the house; and, as Legree opened the door, a female voice said something, in a quick, imperative tone. Tom, who was looking, with anxious interest, after Emmeline, as she went in, noticed this, and heard Legree answer, angrily, “You may hold your tongue! I’ll do as I please, for all you!”

Tom heard no more; for he was soon following Sambo to the quarters. The quarters was a little sort of street of rude shanties, in a row, in a part of the plantation, far off from the house. They had a forlorn, brutal, forsaken air. Tom’s heart sunk when he saw them. He had been comforting himself with the thought of a cottage, rude, indeed, but one which he might make neat and quiet, and where he might have a shelf for his Bible, and a place to be alone out of his laboring hours. He looked into several; they were mere rude shells, destitute of any species of furniture, except a heap of straw, foul with dirt, spread confusedly over the floor, which was merely the bare ground, trodden hard by the tramping of innumerable feet.

“Which of these will be mine?” said he, to Sambo, submissively.

“Dunno; ken turn in here, I spose,” said Sambo; “spects thar’s room for another thar; thar’s a pretty smart heap o’ niggers to each on ’em, now; sure, I dunno what I’s to do with more.”

* * * * *

It was late in the evening when the weary occupants of the shanties came flocking home⁠—men and women, in soiled and tattered garments, surly and uncomfortable, and in no mood to look pleasantly on newcomers. The small village was alive with no inviting sounds; hoarse, guttural voices contending at the hand-mills where their morsel of hard corn was yet to be ground into meal, to fit it for the cake that was to constitute their only supper. From the earliest dawn of the day, they had been in the fields, pressed to work under the driving lash of the overseers; for it was now in the very heat and hurry of the season, and no means was left untried to press everyone up to the top of their capabilities. “True,” says the negligent lounger; “picking cotton isn’t hard work.” Isn’t it? And it isn’t much inconvenience, either, to have one drop of water fall on your head; yet the worst torture of the inquisition is produced by drop after drop, drop after drop, falling moment after moment, with monotonous succession, on the same spot; and work, in itself not hard, becomes so, by being pressed, hour after hour, with unvarying, unrelenting sameness, with not even the consciousness of free will to take from its tediousness. Tom looked in vain among the gang, as they poured along, for companionable faces. He saw only sullen, scowling, imbruted men, and feeble, discouraged women, or women that were not women⁠—the strong pushing away the weak⁠—the gross, unrestricted animal selfishness of human beings, of whom nothing good was expected and desired; and who, treated in every way like brutes, had sunk as nearly to their level as it was possible for human beings to do. To a late hour in the night the sound of the grinding was protracted; for the mills were few in number compared with the grinders, and the weary and feeble ones were driven back by the strong, and came on last in their turn.

“Ho yo!” said Sambo, coming to the mulatto woman, and throwing down a bag of corn before her; “what a cuss yo name?”

“Lucy,” said the woman.

“Wal, Lucy, yo my woman now. Yo grind dis yer corn, and get my supper baked, ye har?”

“I an’t your woman, and I won’t be!” said the woman, with the sharp, sudden courage of despair; “you go long!”

“I’ll kick yo, then!” said Sambo, raising his foot threateningly.

“Ye may kill me, if ye choose⁠—the sooner the better! Wish’t I was dead!” said she.

“I say, Sambo, you go to spilin’ the hands, I’ll tell Mas’r o’ you,” said Quimbo, who was busy at the mill, from which he had viciously driven two or three tired women, who were waiting to grind their corn.

“And, I’ll tell him ye won’t let the women come to the mills, yo old nigger!” said Sambo. “Yo jes keep to yo own row.”

Tom was hungry with his day’s journey, and almost faint for want of food.

“Thar, yo!” said Quimbo, throwing down a coarse bag, which contained a peck of corn; “thar, nigger, grab, take car on’t⁠—yo won’t get no more, dis yer week.”

Tom waited till a late hour, to get a place at the mills; and then, moved by the utter weariness of two women, whom he saw trying to grind their corn there, he ground for them, put together the decaying brands of the fire, where many had baked cakes before them, and then went about getting his own supper. It was a new kind of work there⁠—a deed of charity, small as it was; but it woke an answering touch in their hearts⁠—an expression of womanly kindness came over their hard faces; they mixed his cake for him, and tended its baking; and Tom sat down by the light of the fire, and drew out his Bible⁠—for he had need for comfort.

“What’s that?” said one of the woman.

“A Bible,” said Tom.

“Good Lord! han’t seen un since I was in Kentuck.”

“Was you raised in Kentuck?” said Tom, with interest.

“Yes, and well raised, too; never ’spected to come to dis yer!” said the woman, sighing.

“What’s dat ar book, anyway?” said the other woman.

“Why, the Bible.”

“Laws a me! what’s dat?” said the woman.

“Do tell! you never hearn on’t?” said the other woman. “I used to har Missis a readin’ on’t, sometimes, in Kentuck; but, laws o’ me! we don’t har nothin’ here but crackin’ and swarin’.”

“Read a piece, anyways!” said the first woman, curiously, seeing Tom attentively poring over it.

Tom read⁠—“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

“Them’s good words, enough,” said the woman; “who says ’em?”

“The Lord,” said Tom.

“I jest wish I know’d whar to find Him,” said the woman. “I would go; ’pears like I never should get rested again. My flesh is fairly sore, and I tremble all over, every day, and Sambo’s allers a jawin’ at me, ’cause I doesn’t pick faster; and nights it’s most midnight ’fore I can get my supper; and den ’pears like I don’t turn over and shut my eyes, ’fore I hear de horn blow to get up, and at it agin in de mornin’. If I knew whar de Lor was, I’d tell him.”

“He’s here, he’s everywhere,” said Tom.

“Lor, you an’t gwine to make me believe dat ar! I know de Lord an’t here,” said the woman; “ ’tan’t no use talking, though. I’s jest gwine to camp down, and sleep while I ken.”

The women went off to their cabins, and Tom sat alone, by the smouldering fire, that flickered up redly in his face.

The silver, fair-browed moon rose in the purple sky, and looked down, calm and silent, as God looks on the scene of misery and oppression⁠—looked calmly on the lone black man, as he sat, with his arms folded, and his Bible on his knee.

“Is God HERE?” Ah, how is it possible for the untaught heart to keep its faith, unswerving, in the face of dire misrule, and palpable, unrebuked injustice? In that simple heart waged a fierce conflict; the crushing sense of wrong, the foreshadowing, of a whole life of future misery, the wreck of all past hopes, mournfully tossing in the soul’s sight, like dead corpses of wife, and child, and friend, rising from the dark wave, and surging in the face of the half-drowned mariner! Ah, was it easy here to believe and hold fast the great password of Christian faith, that “God IS, and is the REWARDER of them that diligently seek Him”?

Tom rose, disconsolate, and stumbled into the cabin that had been allotted to him. The floor was already strewn with weary sleepers, and the foul air of the place almost repelled him; but the heavy night-dews were chill, and his limbs weary, and, wrapping about him a tattered blanket, which formed his only bed-clothing, he stretched himself in the straw and fell asleep.

In dreams, a gentle voice came over his ear; he was sitting on the mossy seat in the garden by Lake Pontchartrain, and Eva, with her serious eyes bent downward, was reading to him from the Bible; and he heard her read.

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee; for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.”

Gradually the words seemed to melt and fade, as in a divine music; the child raised her deep eyes, and fixed them lovingly on him, and rays of warmth and comfort seemed to go from them to his heart; and, as if wafted on the music, she seemed to rise on shining wings, from which flakes and spangles of gold fell off like stars, and she was gone.

Tom woke. Was it a dream? Let it pass for one. But who shall say that that sweet young spirit, which in life so yearned to comfort and console the distressed, was forbidden of God to assume this ministry after death?

It is a beautiful belief,
That ever round our head
Are hovering, on angel wings,
The spirits of the dead.

CHAPTER XXXIII

Cassy
“And behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power, but they had no comforter.”
Eccl. 4:1

It took but a short time to familiarize Tom with all that was to be hoped or feared in his new way of life. He was an expert and efficient workman in whatever he undertook; and was, both from habit and principle, prompt and faithful. Quiet and peaceable in his disposition, he hoped, by unremitting diligence, to avert from himself at least a portion of the evils of his condition. He saw enough of abuse and misery to make him sick and weary; but he determined to toil on, with religious patience, committing himself to Him that judgeth righteously, not without hope that some way of escape might yet be opened to him.

Legree took a silent note of Tom’s availability. He rated him as a first-class hand; and yet he felt a secret dislike to him⁠—the native antipathy of bad to good. He saw, plainly, that when, as was often the case, his violence and brutality fell on the helpless, Tom took notice of it; for, so subtle is the atmosphere of opinion, that it will make itself felt, without words; and the opinion even of a slave may annoy a master. Tom in various ways manifested a tenderness of feeling, a commiseration for his fellow-sufferers, strange and new to them, which was watched with a jealous eye by Legree. He had purchased Tom with a view of eventually making him a sort of overseer, with whom he might, at times, entrust his affairs, in short absences; and, in his view, the first, second, and third requisite for that place, was hardness. Legree made up his mind, that, as Tom was not hard to his hand, he would harden him forthwith; and some few weeks after Tom had been on the place, he determined to commence the process.

One morning, when the hands were mustered for the field, Tom noticed, with surprise, a newcomer among them, whose appearance excited his attention. It was a woman, tall and slenderly formed, with remarkably delicate hands and feet, and dressed in neat and respectable garments. By the appearance of her face, she might have been between thirty-five and forty; and it was a face that, once seen, could never be forgotten⁠—one of those that, at a glance, seem to convey to us an idea of a wild, painful, and romantic history. Her forehead was high, and her eyebrows marked with beautiful clearness. Her straight, well-formed nose, her finely-cut mouth, and the graceful contour of her head and neck, showed that she must once have been beautiful; but her face was deeply wrinkled with lines of pain, and of proud and bitter endurance. Her complexion was sallow and unhealthy, her cheeks thin, her features sharp, and her whole form emaciated. But her eye was the most remarkable feature⁠—so large, so heavily black, overshadowed by long lashes of equal darkness, and so wildly, mournfully despairing. There was a fierce pride and defiance in every line of her face, in every curve of the flexible lip, in every motion of her body; but in her eye was a deep, settled night of anguish⁠—an expression so hopeless and unchanging as to contrast fearfully with the scorn and pride expressed by her whole demeanor.

Where she came from, or who she was, Tom did not know. The first he did know, she was walking by his side, erect and proud, in the dim gray of the dawn. To the gang, however, she was known; for there was much looking and turning of heads, and a smothered yet apparent exultation among the miserable, ragged, half-starved creatures by whom she was surrounded.

“Got to come to it, at last⁠—glad of it!” said one.

“He! he! he!” said another; “you’ll know how good it is, Misse!”

“We’ll see her work!”

“Wonder if she’ll get a cutting up, at night, like the rest of us!”

“I’d be glad to see her down for a flogging, I’ll bound!” said another.

The woman took no notice of these taunts, but walked on, with the same expression of angry scorn, as if she heard nothing. Tom had always lived among refined, and cultivated people, and he felt intuitively, from her air and bearing, that she belonged to that class; but how or why she could be fallen to those degrading circumstances, he could not tell. The woman neither looked at him nor spoke to him, though, all the way to the field, she kept close at his side.

Tom was soon busy at his work; but, as the woman was at no great distance from him, he often glanced an eye to her, at her work. He saw, at a glance, that a native adroitness and handiness made the task to her an easier one than it proved to many. She picked very fast and very clean, and with an air of scorn, as if she despised both the work and the disgrace and humiliation of the circumstances in which she was placed.

In the course of the day, Tom was working near the mulatto woman who had been bought in the same lot with himself. She was evidently in a condition of great suffering, and Tom often heard her praying, as she wavered and trembled, and seemed about to fall down. Tom silently as he came near to her, transferred several handfuls of cotton from his own sack to hers.

“O, don’t, don’t!” said the woman, looking surprised; “it’ll get you into trouble.”

Just then Sambo came up. He seemed to have a special spite against this woman; and, flourishing his whip, said, in brutal, guttural tones, “What dis yer, Luce⁠—foolin’ a’ ” and, with the word, kicking the woman with his heavy cowhide shoe, he struck Tom across the face with his whip.

Tom silently resumed his task; but the woman, before at the last point of exhaustion, fainted.

“I’ll bring her to!” said the driver, with a brutal grin. “I’ll give her something better than camphire!” and, taking a pin from his coat-sleeve, he buried it to the head in her flesh. The woman groaned, and half rose. “Get up, you beast, and work, will yer, or I’ll show yer a trick more!”

The woman seemed stimulated, for a few moments, to an unnatural strength, and worked with desperate eagerness.

“See that you keep to dat ar,” said the man, “or yer’ll wish yer’s dead tonight, I reckin!”

“That I do now!” Tom heard her say; and again he heard her say, “O, Lord, how long! O, Lord, why don’t you help us?”

At the risk of all that he might suffer, Tom came forward again, and put all the cotton in his sack into the woman’s.

“O, you mustn’t! you donno what they’ll do to ye!” said the woman.

“I can bar it!” said Tom, “better’n you;” and he was at his place again. It passed in a moment.

Suddenly, the stranger woman whom we have described, and who had, in the course of her work, come near enough to hear Tom’s last words, raised her heavy black eyes, and fixed them, for a second, on him; then, taking a quantity of cotton from her basket, she placed it in his.

“You know nothing about this place,” she said, “or you wouldn’t have done that. When you’ve been here a month, you’ll be done helping anybody; you’ll find it hard enough to take care of your own skin!”

“The Lord forbid, Missis!” said Tom, using instinctively to his field companion the respectful form proper to the high bred with whom he had lived.

“The Lord never visits these parts,” said the woman, bitterly, as she went nimbly forward with her work; and again the scornful smile curled her lips.

But the action of the woman had been seen by the driver, across the field; and, flourishing his whip, he came up to her.

“What! what!” he said to the woman, with an air of triumph, “You a foolin’? Go along! yer under me now⁠—mind yourself, or yer’ll cotch it!”

A glance like sheet-lightning suddenly flashed from those black eyes; and, facing about, with quivering lip and dilated nostrils, she drew herself up, and fixed a glance, blazing with rage and scorn, on the driver.

“Dog!” she said, “touch me, if you dare! I’ve power enough, yet, to have you torn by the dogs, burnt alive, cut to inches! I’ve only to say the word!”

“What de devil you here for, den?” said the man, evidently cowed, and sullenly retreating a step or two. “Didn’t mean no harm, Misse Cassy!”

“Keep your distance, then!” said the woman. And, in truth, the man seemed greatly inclined to attend to something at the other end of the field, and started off in quick time.

The woman suddenly turned to her work, and labored with a despatch that was perfectly astonishing to Tom. She seemed to work by magic. Before the day was through, her basket was filled, crowded down, and piled, and she had several times put largely into Tom’s. Long after dusk, the whole weary train, with their baskets on their heads, defiled up to the building appropriated to the storing and weighing the cotton. Legree was there, busily conversing with the two drivers.

“Dat ar Tom’s gwine to make a powerful deal o’ trouble; kept a puttin’ into Lucy’s basket.⁠—One o’ these yer dat will get all der niggers to feelin’ ’bused, if Masir don’t watch him!” said Sambo.

“Hey-dey! The black cuss!” said Legree. “He’ll have to get a breakin’ in, won’t he, boys?”

Both negroes grinned a horrid grin, at this intimation.

“Ay, ay! Let Mas’r Legree alone, for breakin’ in! De debil heself couldn’t beat Mas’r at dat!” said Quimbo.

“Wal, boys, the best way is to give him the flogging to do, till he gets over his notions. Break him in!”

“Lord, Mas’r’ll have hard work to get dat out o’ him!”

“It’ll have to come out of him, though!” said Legree, as he rolled his tobacco in his mouth.

“Now, dar’s Lucy⁠—de aggravatinest, ugliest wench on de place!” pursued Sambo.

“Take care, Sam; I shall begin to think what’s the reason for your spite agin Lucy.”

“Well, Mas’r knows she sot herself up agin Mas’r, and wouldn’t have me, when he telled her to.”

“I’d a flogged her into ’t,” said Legree, spitting, “only there’s such a press o’ work, it don’t seem wuth a while to upset her jist now. She’s slender; but these yer slender gals will bear half killin’ to get their own way!”

“Wal, Lucy was real aggravatin’ and lazy, sulkin’ round; wouldn’t do nothin⁠—and Tom he stuck up for her.”

“He did, eh! Wal, then, Tom shall have the pleasure of flogging her. It’ll be a good practice for him, and he won’t put it on to the gal like you devils, neither.”

“Ho, ho! haw! haw! haw!” laughed both the sooty wretches; and the diabolical sounds seemed, in truth, a not unapt expression of the fiendish character which Legree gave them.

“Wal, but, Mas’r, Tom and Misse Cassy, and dey among ’em, filled Lucy’s basket. I ruther guess der weight’s in it, Mas’r!”

I do the weighing!” said Legree, emphatically.

Both the drivers again laughed their diabolical laugh.

“So!” he added, “Misse Cassy did her day’s work.”

“She picks like de debil and all his angels!”

“She’s got ’em all in her, I believe!” said Legree; and, growling a brutal oath, he proceeded to the weighing-room.

* * * * *

Slowly the weary, dispirited creatures, wound their way into the room, and, with crouching reluctance, presented their baskets to be weighed.

Legree noted on a slate, on the side of which was pasted a list of names, the amount.

Tom’s basket was weighed and approved; and he looked, with an anxious glance, for the success of the woman he had befriended.

Tottering with weakness, she came forward, and delivered her basket. It was of full weight, as Legree well perceived; but, affecting anger, he said:

“What, you lazy beast! short again! stand aside, you’ll catch it, pretty soon!”

The woman gave a groan of utter despair, and sat down on a board.

The person who had been called Misse Cassy now came forward, and, with a haughty, negligent air, delivered her basket. As she delivered it, Legree looked in her eyes with a sneering yet inquiring glance.

She fixed her black eyes steadily on him, her lips moved slightly, and she said something in French. What it was, no one knew; but Legree’s face became perfectly demoniacal in its expression, as she spoke; he half raised his hand, as if to strike⁠—a gesture which she regarded with fierce disdain, as she turned and walked away.

“And now,” said Legree, “come here, you Tom. You see, I telled ye I didn’t buy ye jest for the common work; I mean to promote ye, and make a driver of ye; and tonight ye may jest as well begin to get yer hand in. Now, ye jest take this yer gal and flog her; ye’ve seen enough on’t to know how.”

“I beg Mas’r’s pardon,” said Tom; “hopes Mas’r won’t set me at that. It’s what I an’t used to⁠—never did⁠—and can’t do, no way possible.”

“Ye’ll larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know, before I’ve done with ye!” said Legree, taking up a cowhide, and striking Tom a heavy blow cross the cheek, and following up the infliction by a shower of blows.

“There!” he said, as he stopped to rest; “now, will ye tell me ye can’t do it?”

“Yes, Mas’r,” said Tom, putting up his hand, to wipe the blood, that trickled down his face. “I’m willin’ to work, night and day, and work while there’s life and breath in me; but this yer thing I can’t feel it right to do;⁠—and, Mas’r, I never shall do it⁠—never!”

Tom had a remarkably smooth, soft voice, and a habitually respectful manner, that had given Legree an idea that he would be cowardly, and easily subdued. When he spoke these last words, a thrill of amazement went through everyone; the poor woman clasped her hands, and said, “O Lord!” and everyone involuntarily looked at each other and drew in their breath, as if to prepare for the storm that was about to burst.

Legree looked stupefied and confounded; but at last burst forth⁠—“What! ye blasted black beast! tell me ye don’t think it right to do what I tell ye! What have any of you cussed cattle to do with thinking what’s right? I’ll put a stop to it! Why, what do ye think ye are? May be ye think ye’r a gentleman master, Tom, to be a telling your master what’s right, and what ain’t! So you pretend it’s wrong to flog the gal!”

“I think so, Mas’r,” said Tom; “the poor crittur’s sick and feeble; ’t would be downright cruel, and it’s what I never will do, nor begin to. Mas’r, if you mean to kill me, kill me; but, as to my raising my hand agin anyone here, I never shall⁠—I’ll die first!”

Tom spoke in a mild voice, but with a decision that could not be mistaken. Legree shook with anger; his greenish eyes glared fiercely, and his very whiskers seemed to curl with passion; but, like some ferocious beast, that plays with its victim before he devours it, he kept back his strong impulse to proceed to immediate violence, and broke out into bitter raillery.

“Well, here’s a pious dog, at last, let down among us sinners!⁠—a saint, a gentleman, and no less, to talk to us sinners about our sins! Powerful holy critter, he must be! Here, you rascal, you make believe to be so pious⁠—didn’t you never hear, out of yer Bible, ‘Servants, obey yer masters’? An’t I yer master? Didn’t I pay down twelve hundred dollars, cash, for all there is inside yer old cussed black shell? An’t yer mine, now, body and soul?” he said, giving Tom a violent kick with his heavy boot; “tell me!”

In the very depth of physical suffering, bowed by brutal oppression, this question shot a gleam of joy and triumph through Tom’s soul. He suddenly stretched himself up, and, looking earnestly to heaven, while the tears and blood that flowed down his face mingled, he exclaimed:

“No! no! no! my soul an’t yours, Mas’r! You haven’t bought it⁠—ye can’t buy it! It’s been bought and paid for, by one that is able to keep it;⁠—no matter, no matter, you can’t harm me!”

“I can’t!” said Legree, with a sneer; “we’ll see⁠—we’ll see! Here, Sambo, Quimbo, give this dog such a breakin’ in as he won’t get over, this month!”

The two gigantic negroes that now laid hold of Tom, with fiendish exultation in their faces, might have formed no unapt personification of powers of darkness. The poor woman screamed with apprehension, and all rose, as by a general impulse, while they dragged him unresisting from the place.

CHAPTER XXXIV

The Quadroon’s Story
“And behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power, but they had no comforter.”
Eccl. 4:1

It was late at night, and Tom lay groaning and bleeding alone, in an old forsaken room of the gin-house, among pieces of broken machinery, piles of damaged cotton, and other rubbish which had there accumulated.

The night was damp and close, and the thick air swarmed with myriads of mosquitos, which increased the restless torture of his wounds; whilst a burning thirst⁠—a torture beyond all others⁠—filled up the uttermost measure of physical anguish.

“O, good Lord! Do look down⁠—give me the victory!⁠—give me the victory over all!” prayed poor Tom, in his anguish.

A footstep entered the room, behind him, and the light of a lantern flashed on his eyes.

“Who’s there? O, for the Lord’s massy, please give me some water!”

The woman Cassy⁠—for it was she⁠—set down her lantern, and, pouring water from a bottle, raised his head, and gave him drink. Another and another cup were drained, with feverish eagerness.

“Drink all ye want,” she said; “I knew how it would be. It isn’t the first time I’ve been out in the night, carrying water to such as you.”

“Thank you, Missis,” said Tom, when he had done drinking.

“Don’t call me Missis! I’m a miserable slave, like yourself⁠—a lower one than you can ever be!” said she, bitterly; “but now,” said she, going to the door, and dragging in a small pallaise, over which she had spread linen cloths wet with cold water, “try, my poor fellow, to roll yourself on to this.”

Stiff with wounds and bruises, Tom was a long time in accomplishing this movement; but, when done, he felt a sensible relief from the cooling application to his wounds.

The woman, whom long practice with the victims of brutality had made familiar with many healing arts, went on to make many applications to Tom’s wounds, by means of which he was soon somewhat relieved.

“Now,” said the woman, when she had raised his head on a roll of damaged cotton, which served for a pillow, “there’s the best I can do for you.”

Tom thanked her; and the woman, sitting down on the floor, drew up her knees, and embracing them with her arms, looked fixedly before her, with a bitter and painful expression of countenance. Her bonnet fell back, and long wavy streams of black hair fell around her singular and melancholy-face.

“It’s no use, my poor fellow!” she broke out, at last, “it’s of no use, this you’ve been trying to do. You were a brave fellow⁠—you had the right on your side; but it’s all in vain, and out of the question, for you to struggle. You are in the devil’s hands;⁠—he is the strongest, and you must give up!”

Give up! and, had not human weakness and physical agony whispered that, before? Tom started; for the bitter woman, with her wild eyes and melancholy voice, seemed to him an embodiment of the temptation with which he had been wrestling.

“O Lord! O Lord!” he groaned, “how can I give up?”

“There’s no use calling on the Lord⁠—he never hears,” said the woman, steadily; “there isn’t any God, I believe; or, if there is, he’s taken sides against us. All goes against us, heaven and earth. Everything is pushing us into hell. Why shouldn’t we go?”

Tom closed his eyes, and shuddered at the dark, atheistic words.

“You see,” said the woman, “you don’t know anything about it⁠—I do. I’ve been on this place five years, body and soul, under this man’s foot; and I hate him as I do the devil! Here you are, on a lone plantation, ten miles from any other, in the swamps; not a white person here, who could testify, if you were burned alive⁠—if you were scalded, cut into inch-pieces, set up for the dogs to tear, or hung up and whipped to death. There’s no law here, of God or man, that can do you, or any one of us, the least good; and, this man! there’s no earthly thing that he’s too good to do. I could make anyone’s hair rise, and their teeth chatter, if I should only tell what I’ve seen and been knowing to, here⁠—and it’s no use resisting! Did I want to live with him? Wasn’t I a woman delicately bred; and he⁠—God in heaven! what was he, and is he? And yet, I’ve lived with him, these five years, and cursed every moment of my life⁠—night and day! And now, he’s got a new one⁠—a young thing, only fifteen, and she brought up, she says, piously. Her good mistress taught her to read the Bible; and she’s brought her Bible here⁠—to hell with her!”⁠—and the woman laughed a wild and doleful laugh, that rung, with a strange, supernatural sound, through the old ruined shed.

Tom folded his hands; all was darkness and horror.

“O Jesus! Lord Jesus! have you quite forgot us poor critturs?” burst forth, at last;⁠—“help, Lord, I perish!”

The woman sternly continued:

“And what are these miserable low dogs you work with, that you should suffer on their account? Every one of them would turn against you, the first time they got a chance. They are all of ’em as low and cruel to each other as they can be; there’s no use in your suffering to keep from hurting them.”

“Poor critturs!” said Tom⁠—“what made ’em cruel?⁠—and, if I give out, I shall get used to’t, and grow, little by little, just like ’em! No, no, Missis! I’ve lost everything⁠—wife, and children, and home, and a kind Mas’r⁠—and he would have set me free, if he’d only lived a week longer; I’ve lost everything in this world, and it’s clean gone, forever⁠—and now I can’t lose Heaven, too; no, I can’t get to be wicked, besides all!”

“But it can’t be that the Lord will lay sin to our account,” said the woman; “he won’t charge it to us, when we’re forced to it; he’ll charge it to them that drove us to it.”

“Yes,” said Tom; “but that won’t keep us from growing wicked. If I get to be as hardhearted as that ar’ Sambo, and as wicked, it won’t make much odds to me how I come so; it’s the bein’ so⁠—that ar’s what I’m a dreadin’.”

The woman fixed a wild and startled look on Tom, as if a new thought had struck her; and then, heavily groaning, said:

“O God a’ mercy! you speak the truth! O⁠—O⁠—O!”⁠—and, with groans, she fell on the floor, like one crushed and writhing under the extremity of mental anguish.

There was a silence, a while, in which the breathing of both parties could be heard, when Tom faintly said, “O, please, Missis!”

The woman suddenly rose up, with her face composed to its usual stern, melancholy expression.

“Please, Missis, I saw ’em throw my coat in that ar’ corner, and in my coat-pocket is my Bible;⁠—if Missis would please get it for me.”

Cassy went and got it. Tom opened, at once, to a heavily marked passage, much worn, of the last scenes in the life of Him by whose stripes we are healed.

“If Missis would only be so good as read that ar’⁠—it’s better than water.”

Cassy took the book, with a dry, proud air, and looked over the passage. She then read aloud, in a soft voice, and with a beauty of intonation that was peculiar, that touching account of anguish and of glory. Often, as she read, her voice faltered, and sometimes failed her altogether, when she would stop, with an air of frigid composure, till she had mastered herself. When she came to the touching words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” she threw down the book, and, burying her face in the heavy masses of her hair, she sobbed aloud, with a convulsive violence.

Tom was weeping, also, and occasionally uttering a smothered ejaculation.

“If we only could keep up to that ar’!” said Tom;⁠—“it seemed to come so natural to him, and we have to fight so hard for’t! O Lord, help us! O blessed Lord Jesus, do help us!”

“Missis,” said Tom, after a while, “I can see that, somehow, you’re quite ’bove me in everything; but there’s one thing Missis might learn even from poor Tom. Ye said the Lord took sides against us, because he lets us be ’bused and knocked round; but ye see what come on his own Son⁠—the blessed Lord of Glory⁠—wan’t he allays poor? and have we, any on us, yet come so low as he come? The Lord han’t forgot us⁠—I’m sartin’ o’ that ar’. If we suffer with him, we shall also reign, Scripture says; but, if we deny Him, he also will deny us. Didn’t they all suffer?⁠—the Lord and all his? It tells how they was stoned and sawn asunder, and wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, and was destitute, afflicted, tormented. Sufferin’ an’t no reason to make us think the Lord’s turned agin us; but jest the contrary, if only we hold on to him, and doesn’t give up to sin.”

“But why does he put us where we can’t help but sin?” said the woman.

“I think we can help it,” said Tom.

“You’ll see,” said Cassy; “what’ll you do? Tomorrow they’ll be at you again. I know ’em; I’ve seen all their doings; I can’t bear to think of all they’ll bring you to;⁠—and they’ll make you give out, at last!”

“Lord Jesus!” said Tom, “you will take care of my soul? O Lord, do!⁠—don’t let me give out!”

“O dear!” said Cassy; “I’ve heard all this crying and praying before; and yet, they’ve been broken down, and brought under. There’s Emmeline, she’s trying to hold on, and you’re trying⁠—but what use? You must give up, or be killed by inches.”

“Well, then, I will die!” said Tom. “Spin it out as long as they can, they can’t help my dying, some time!⁠—and, after that, they can’t do no more. I’m clar, I’m set! I know the Lord’ll help me, and bring me through.”

The woman did not answer; she sat with her black eyes intently fixed on the floor.

“May be it’s the way,” she murmured to herself; “but those that have given up, there’s no hope for them!⁠—none! We live in filth, and grow loathsome, till we loathe ourselves! And we long to die, and we don’t dare to kill ourselves!⁠—No hope! no hope! no hope?⁠—this girl now⁠—just as old as I was!

“You see me now,” she said, speaking to Tom very rapidly; “see what I am! Well, I was brought up in luxury; the first I remember is, playing about, when I was a child, in splendid parlors⁠—when I was kept dressed up like a doll, and company and visitors used to praise me. There was a garden opening from the saloon windows; and there I used to play hide-and-go-seek, under the orange-trees, with my brothers and sisters. I went to a convent, and there I learned music, French and embroidery, and whatnot; and when I was fourteen, I came out to my father’s funeral. He died very suddenly, and when the property came to be settled, they found that there was scarcely enough to cover the debts; and when the creditors took an inventory of the property, I was set down in it. My mother was a slave woman, and my father had always meant to set me free; but he had not done it, and so I was set down in the list. I’d always known who I was, but never thought much about it. Nobody ever expects that a strong, healthy man is going to die. My father was a well man only four hours before he died;⁠—it was one of the first cholera cases in New Orleans. The day after the funeral, my father’s wife took her children, and went up to her father’s plantation. I thought they treated me strangely, but didn’t know. There was a young lawyer who they left to settle the business; and he came every day, and was about the house, and spoke very politely to me. He brought with him, one day, a young man, whom I thought the handsomest I had ever seen. I shall never forget that evening. I walked with him in the garden. I was lonesome and full of sorrow, and he was so kind and gentle to me; and he told me that he had seen me before I went to the convent, and that he had loved me a great while, and that he would be my friend and protector;⁠—in short, though he didn’t tell me, he had paid two thousand dollars for me, and I was his property⁠—I became his willingly, for I loved him. Loved!” said the woman, stopping. “O, how I did love that man! How I love him now⁠—and always shall, while I breathe! He was so beautiful, so high, so noble! He put me into a beautiful house, with servants, horses, and carriages, and furniture, and dresses. Everything that money could buy, he gave me; but I didn’t set any value on all that⁠—I only cared for him. I loved him better than my God and my own soul, and, if I tried, I couldn’t do any other way from what he wanted me to.

“I wanted only one thing⁠—I did want him to marry me. I thought, if he loved me as he said he did, and if I was what he seemed to think I was, he would be willing to marry me and set me free. But he convinced me that it would be impossible; and he told me that, if we were only faithful to each other, it was marriage before God. If that is true, wasn’t I that man’s wife? Wasn’t I faithful? For seven years, didn’t I study every look and motion, and only live and breathe to please him? He had the yellow fever, and for twenty days and nights I watched with him. I alone⁠—and gave him all his medicine, and did everything for him; and then he called me his good angel, and said I’d saved his life. We had two beautiful children. The first was a boy, and we called him Henry. He was the image of his father⁠—he had such beautiful eyes, such a forehead, and his hair hung all in curls around it; and he had all his father’s spirit, and his talent, too. Little Elise, he said, looked like me. He used to tell me that I was the most beautiful woman in Louisiana, he was so proud of me and the children. He used to love to have me dress them up, and take them and me about in an open carriage, and hear the remarks that people would make on us; and he used to fill my ears constantly with the fine things that were said in praise of me and the children. O, those were happy days! I thought I was as happy as anyone could be; but then there came evil times. He had a cousin come to New Orleans, who was his particular friend⁠—he thought all the world of him;⁠—but, from the first time I saw him, I couldn’t tell why, I dreaded him; for I felt sure he was going to bring misery on us. He got Henry to going out with him, and often he would not come home nights till two or three o’clock. I did not dare say a word; for Henry was so high spirited, I was afraid to. He got him to the gaming-houses; and he was one of the sort that, when he once got a going there, there was no holding back. And then he introduced him to another lady, and I saw soon that his heart was gone from me. He never told me, but I saw it⁠—I knew it, day after day⁠—I felt my heart breaking, but I could not say a word! At this, the wretch offered to buy me and the children of Henry, to clear off his gambling debts, which stood in the way of his marrying as he wished;⁠—and he sold us. He told me, one day, that he had business in the country, and should be gone two or three weeks. He spoke kinder than usual, and said he should come back; but it didn’t deceive me. I knew that the time had come; I was just like one turned into stone; I couldn’t speak, nor shed a tear. He kissed me and kissed the children, a good many times, and went out. I saw him get on his horse, and I watched him till he was quite out of sight; and then I fell down, and fainted.

“Then he came, the cursed wretch! he came to take possession. He told me that he had bought me and my children; and showed me the papers. I cursed him before God, and told him I’d die sooner than live with him.”

“ ‘Just as you please,’ said he; ‘but, if you don’t behave reasonably, I’ll sell both the children, where you shall never see them again.’ He told me that he always had meant to have me, from the first time he saw me; and that he had drawn Henry on, and got him in debt, on purpose to make him willing to sell me. That he got him in love with another woman; and that I might know, after all that, that he should not give up for a few airs and tears, and things of that sort.

“I gave up, for my hands were tied. He had my children;⁠—whenever I resisted his will anywhere, he would talk about selling them, and he made me as submissive as he desired. O, what a life it was! to live with my heart breaking, every day⁠—to keep on, on, on, loving, when it was only misery; and to be bound, body and soul, to one I hated. I used to love to read to Henry, to play to him, to waltz with him, and sing to him; but everything I did for this one was a perfect drag⁠—yet I was afraid to refuse anything. He was very imperious, and harsh to the children. Elise was a timid little thing; but Henry was bold and high-spirited, like his father, and he had never been brought under, in the least, by anyone. He was always finding fault, and quarrelling with him; and I used to live in daily fear and dread. I tried to make the child respectful;⁠—I tried to keep them apart, for I held on to those children like death; but it did no good. He sold both those children. He took me to ride, one day, and when I came home, they were nowhere to be found! He told me he had sold them; he showed me the money, the price of their blood. Then it seemed as if all good forsook me. I raved and cursed⁠—cursed God and man; and, for a while, I believe, he really was afraid of me. But he didn’t give up so. He told me that my children were sold, but whether I ever saw their faces again, depended on him; and that, if I wasn’t quiet, they should smart for it. Well, you can do anything with a woman, when you’ve got her children. He made me submit; he made me be peaceable; he flattered me with hopes that, perhaps, he would buy them back; and so things went on, a week or two. One day, I was out walking, and passed by the calaboose; I saw a crowd about the gate, and heard a child’s voice⁠—and suddenly my Henry broke away from two or three men who were holding him, and ran, screaming, and caught my dress. They came up to him, swearing dreadfully; and one man, whose face I shall never forget, told him that he wouldn’t get away so; that he was going with him into the calaboose, and he’d get a lesson there he’d never forget. I tried to beg and plead⁠—they only laughed; the poor boy screamed and looked into my face, and held on to me, until, in tearing him off, they tore the skirt of my dress half away; and they carried him in, screaming ‘Mother! mother! mother!’ There was one man stood there seemed to pity me. I offered him all the money I had, if he’d only interfere. He shook his head, and said that the boy had been impudent and disobedient, ever since he bought him; that he was going to break him in, once for all. I turned and ran; and every step of the way, I thought that I heard him scream. I got into the house; ran, all out of breath, to the parlor, where I found Butler. I told him, and begged him to go and interfere. He only laughed, and told me the boy had got his deserts. He’d got to be broken in⁠—the sooner the better; ‘what did I expect?’ he asked.

“It seemed to me something in my head snapped, at that moment. I felt dizzy and furious. I remember seeing a great sharp bowie-knife on the table; I remember something about catching it, and flying upon him; and then all grew dark, and I didn’t know any more⁠—not for days and days.

“When I came to myself, I was in a nice room⁠—but not mine. An old black woman tended me; and a doctor came to see me, and there was a great deal of care taken of me. After a while, I found that he had gone away, and left me at this house to be sold; and that’s why they took such pains with me.

“I didn’t mean to get well, and hoped I shouldn’t; but, in spite of me the fever went off and I grew healthy, and finally got up. Then, they made me dress up, every day; and gentlemen used to come in and stand and smoke their cigars, and look at me, and ask questions, and debate my price. I was so gloomy and silent, that none of them wanted me. They threatened to whip me, if I wasn’t gayer, and didn’t take some pains to make myself agreeable. At length, one day, came a gentleman named Stuart. He seemed to have some feeling for me; he saw that something dreadful was on my heart, and he came to see me alone, a great many times, and finally persuaded me to tell him. He bought me, at last, and promised to do all he could to find and buy back my children. He went to the hotel where my Henry was; they told him he had been sold to a planter up on Pearl River; that was the last that I ever heard. Then he found where my daughter was; an old woman was keeping her. He offered an immense sum for her, but they would not sell her. Butler found out that it was for me he wanted her; and he sent me word that I should never have her. Captain Stuart was very kind to me; he had a splendid plantation, and took me to it. In the course of a year, I had a son born. O, that child!⁠—how I loved it! How just like my poor Henry the little thing looked! But I had made up my mind⁠—yes, I had. I would never again let a child live to grow up! I took the little fellow in my arms, when he was two weeks old, and kissed him, and cried over him; and then I gave him laudanum, and held him close to my bosom, while he slept to death. How I mourned and cried over it! and who ever dreamed that it was anything but a mistake, that had made me give it the laudanum? but it’s one of the few things that I’m glad of, now. I am not sorry, to this day; he, at least, is out of pain. What better than death could I give him, poor child! After a while, the cholera came, and Captain Stuart died; everybody died that wanted to live⁠—and I⁠—I, though I went down to death’s door⁠—I lived! Then I was sold, and passed from hand to hand, till I grew faded and wrinkled, and I had a fever; and then this wretch bought me, and brought me here⁠—and here I am!”

The woman stopped. She had hurried on through her story, with a wild, passionate utterance; sometimes seeming to address it to Tom, and sometimes speaking as in a soliloquy. So vehement and overpowering was the force with which she spoke, that, for a season, Tom was beguiled even from the pain of his wounds, and, raising himself on one elbow, watched her as she paced restlessly up and down, her long black hair swaying heavily about her, as she moved.

“You tell me,” she said, after a pause, “that there is a God⁠—a God that looks down and sees all these things. May be it’s so. The sisters in the convent used to tell me of a day of judgment, when everything is coming to light;⁠—won’t there be vengeance, then!

“They think it’s nothing, what we suffer⁠—nothing, what our children suffer! It’s all a small matter; yet I’ve walked the streets when it seemed as if I had misery enough in my one heart to sink the city. I’ve wished the houses would fall on me, or the stones sink under me. Yes! and, in the judgment day, I will stand up before God, a witness against those that have ruined me and my children, body and soul!

“When I was a girl, I thought I was religious; I used to love God and prayer. Now, I’m a lost soul, pursued by devils that torment me day and night; they keep pushing me on and on⁠—and I’ll do it, too, some of these days!” she said, clenching her hand, while an insane light glanced in her heavy black eyes. “I’ll send him where he belongs⁠—a short way, too⁠—one of these nights, if they burn me alive for it!” A wild, long laugh rang through the deserted room, and ended in a hysteric sob; she threw herself on the floor, in convulsive sobbing and struggles.

In a few moments, the frenzy fit seemed to pass off; she rose slowly, and seemed to collect herself.

“Can I do anything more for you, my poor fellow?” she said, approaching where Tom lay; “shall I give you some more water?”

There was a graceful and compassionate sweetness in her voice and manner, as she said this, that formed a strange contrast with the former wildness.

Tom drank the water, and looked earnestly and pitifully into her face.

“O, Missis, I wish you’d go to him that can give you living waters!”

“Go to him! Where is he? Who is he?” said Cassy.

“Him that you read of to me⁠—the Lord.”

“I used to see the picture of him, over the altar, when I was a girl,” said Cassy, her dark eyes fixing themselves in an expression of mournful reverie; “but, he isn’t here! there’s nothing here, but sin and long, long, long despair! O!” She laid her hand on her breast and drew in her breath, as if to lift a heavy weight.

Tom looked as if he would speak again; but she cut him short, with a decided gesture.

“Don’t talk, my poor fellow. Try to sleep, if you can.” And, placing water in his reach, and making whatever little arrangements for his comforts she could, Cassy left the shed.

CHAPTER XXXV

The Tokens

“And slight, withal, may be the things that bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside forever; it may be a sound,
A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound⁠—
Striking the electric chain wherewith we’re darkly bound.”
“Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” Can. 4

The sitting-room of Legree’s establishment was a large, long room, with a wide, ample fireplace. It had once been hung with a showy and expensive paper, which now hung mouldering, torn and discolored, from the damp walls. The place had that peculiar sickening, unwholesome smell, compounded of mingled damp, dirt and decay, which one often notices in close old houses. The wallpaper was defaced, in spots, by slops of beer and wine; or garnished with chalk memorandums, and long sums footed up, as if somebody had been practising arithmetic there. In the fireplace stood a brazier full of burning charcoal; for, though the weather was not cold, the evenings always seemed damp and chilly in that great room; and Legree, moreover, wanted a place to light his cigars, and heat his water for punch. The ruddy glare of the charcoal displayed the confused and unpromising aspect of the room⁠—saddles, bridles, several sorts of harness, riding-whips, overcoats, and various articles of clothing, scattered up and down the room in confused variety; and the dogs, of whom we have before spoken, had encamped themselves among them, to suit their own taste and convenience.

Legree was just mixing himself a tumbler of punch, pouring his hot water from a cracked and broken-nosed pitcher, grumbling, as he did so:

“Plague on that Sambo, to kick up this yer row between me and the new hands! The fellow won’t be fit to work for a week, now⁠—right in the press of the season!”

“Yes, just like you,” said a voice, behind his chair. It was the woman Cassy, who had stolen upon his soliloquy.

“Hah! you she-devil! you’ve come back, have you?”

“Yes, I have,” she said, coolly; “come to have my own way, too!”

“You lie, you jade! I’ll be up to my word. Either behave yourself, or stay down to the quarters, and fare and work with the rest.”

“I’d rather, ten thousand times,” said the woman, “live in the dirtiest hole at the quarters, than be under your hoof!”

“But you are under my hoof, for all that,” said he, turning upon her, with a savage grin; “that’s one comfort. So, sit down here on my knee, my dear, and hear to reason,” said he, laying hold on her wrist.

“Simon Legree, take care!” said the woman, with a sharp flash of her eye, a glance so wild and insane in its light as to be almost appalling. “You’re afraid of me, Simon,” she said, deliberately; “and you’ve reason to be! But be careful, for I’ve got the devil in me!”

The last words she whispered in a hissing tone, close to his ear.

“Get out! I believe, to my soul, you have!” said Legree, pushing her from him, and looking uncomfortably at her. “After all, Cassy,” he said, “why can’t you be friends with me, as you used to?”

“Used to!” said she, bitterly. She stopped short⁠—a word of choking feelings, rising in her heart, kept her silent.

Cassy had always kept over Legree the kind of influence that a strong, impassioned woman can ever keep over the most brutal man; but, of late, she had grown more and more irritable and restless, under the hideous yoke of her servitude, and her irritability, at times, broke out into raving insanity; and this liability made her a sort of object of dread to Legree, who had that superstitious horror of insane persons which is common to coarse and uninstructed minds. When Legree brought Emmeline to the house, all the smouldering embers of womanly feeling flashed up in the worn heart of Cassy, and she took part with the girl; and a fierce quarrel ensued between her and Legree. Legree, in a fury, swore she should be put to field service, if she would not be peaceable. Cassy, with proud scorn, declared she would go to the field. And she worked there one day, as we have described, to show how perfectly she scorned the threat.

Legree was secretly uneasy, all day; for Cassy had an influence over him from which he could not free himself. When she presented her basket at the scales, he had hoped for some concession, and addressed her in a sort of half conciliatory, half scornful tone; and she had answered with the bitterest contempt.

The outrageous treatment of poor Tom had roused her still more; and she had followed Legree to the house, with no particular intention, but to upbraid him for his brutality.

“I wish, Cassy,” said Legree, “you’d behave yourself decently.”

You talk about behaving decently! And what have you been doing?⁠—you, who haven’t even sense enough to keep from spoiling one of your best hands, right in the most pressing season, just for your devilish temper!”

“I was a fool, it’s a fact, to let any such brangle come up,” said Legree; “but, when the boy set up his will, he had to be broke in.”

“I reckon you won’t break him in!”

“Won’t I?” said Legree, rising, passionately. “I’d like to know if I won’t? He’ll be the first nigger that ever came it round me! I’ll break every bone in his body, but he shall give up!”

Just then the door opened, and Sambo entered. He came forward, bowing, and holding out something in a paper.

“What’s that, you dog?” said Legree.

“It’s a witch thing, Mas’r!”

“A what?”

“Something that niggers gets from witches. Keeps ’em from feelin’ when they’s flogged. He had it tied round his neck, with a black string.”

Legree, like most godless and cruel men, was superstitious. He took the paper, and opened it uneasily.

There dropped out of it a silver dollar, and a long, shining curl of fair hair⁠—hair which, like a living thing, twined itself round Legree’s fingers.

“Damnation!” he screamed, in sudden passion, stamping on the floor, and pulling furiously at the hair, as if it burned him. “Where did this come from? Take it off!⁠—burn it up!⁠—burn it up!” he screamed, tearing it off, and throwing it into the charcoal. “What did you bring it to me for?”

Sambo stood, with his heavy mouth wide open, and aghast with wonder; and Cassy, who was preparing to leave the apartment, stopped, and looked at him in perfect amazement.

“Don’t you bring me any more of your devilish things!” said he, shaking his fist at Sambo, who retreated hastily towards the door; and, picking up the silver dollar, he sent it smashing through the windowpane, out into the darkness.

Sambo was glad to make his escape. When he was gone, Legree seemed a little ashamed of his fit of alarm. He sat doggedly down in his chair, and began sullenly sipping his tumbler of punch.

Cassy prepared herself for going out, unobserved by him; and slipped away to minister to poor Tom, as we have already related.

And what was the matter with Legree? and what was there in a simple curl of fair hair to appall that brutal man, familiar with every form of cruelty? To answer this, we must carry the reader backward in his history. Hard and reprobate as the godless man seemed now, there had been a time when he had been rocked on the bosom of a mother⁠—cradled with prayers and pious hymns⁠—his now seared brow bedewed with the waters of holy baptism. In early childhood, a fair-haired woman had led him, at the sound of Sabbath bell, to worship and to pray. Far in New England that mother had trained her only son, with long, unwearied love, and patient prayers. Born of a hard-tempered sire, on whom that gentle woman had wasted a world of unvalued love, Legree had followed in the steps of his father. Boisterous, unruly, and tyrannical, he despised all her counsel, and would none of her reproof; and, at an early age, broke from her, to seek his fortunes at sea. He never came home but once, after; and then, his mother, with the yearning of a heart that must love something, and has nothing else to love, clung to him, and sought, with passionate prayers and entreaties, to win him from a life of sin, to his soul’s eternal good.

That was Legree’s day of grace; then good angels called him; then he was almost persuaded, and mercy held him by the hand. His heart inly relented⁠—there was a conflict⁠—but sin got the victory, and he set all the force of his rough nature against the conviction of his conscience. He drank and swore⁠—was wilder and more brutal than ever. And, one night, when his mother, in the last agony of her despair, knelt at his feet, he spurned her from him⁠—threw her senseless on the floor, and, with brutal curses, fled to his ship. The next Legree heard of his mother was, when, one night, as he was carousing among drunken companions, a letter was put into his hand. He opened it, and a lock of long, curling hair fell from it, and twined about his fingers. The letter told him his mother was dead, and that, dying, she blest and forgave him.

There is a dread, unhallowed necromancy of evil, that turns things sweetest and holiest to phantoms of horror and affright. That pale, loving mother⁠—her dying prayers, her forgiving love⁠—wrought in that demoniac heart of sin only as a damning sentence, bringing with it a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. Legree burned the hair, and burned the letter; and when he saw them hissing and crackling in the flame, inly shuddered as he thought of everlasting fires. He tried to drink, and revel, and swear away the memory; but often, in the deep night, whose solemn stillness arraigns the bad soul in forced communion with herself, he had seen that pale mother rising by his bedside, and felt the soft twining of that hair around his fingers, till the cold sweat would roll down his face, and he would spring from his bed in horror. Ye who have wondered to hear, in the same evangel, that God is love, and that God is a consuming fire, see ye not how, to the soul resolved in evil, perfect love is the most fearful torture, the seal and sentence of the direst despair?

“Blast it!” said Legree to himself, as he sipped his liquor; “where did he get that? If it didn’t look just like⁠—whoo! I thought I’d forgot that. Curse me, if I think there’s any such thing as forgetting anything, anyhow⁠—hang it! I’m lonesome! I mean to call Em. She hates me⁠—the monkey! I don’t care⁠—I’ll make her come!”

Legree stepped out into a large entry, which went upstairs, by what had formerly been a superb winding staircase; but the passageway was dirty and dreary, encumbered with boxes and unsightly litter. The stairs, uncarpeted, seemed winding up, in the gloom, to nobody knew where! The pale moonlight streamed through a shattered fanlight over the door; the air was unwholesome and chilly, like that of a vault.

Legree stopped at the foot of the stairs, and heard a voice singing. It seemed strange and ghostlike in that dreary old house, perhaps because of the already tremulous state of his nerves. Hark! what is it?

A wild, pathetic voice, chants a hymn common among the slaves:

“O there’ll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
O there’ll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!”

“Blast the girl!” said Legree. “I’ll choke her.⁠—Em! Em!” he called, harshly; but only a mocking echo from the walls answered him. The sweet voice still sung on:

“Parents and children there shall part!
Parents and children there shall part!
Shall part to meet no more!”

And clear and loud swelled through the empty halls the refrain:

“O there’ll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
O there’ll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!”

Legree stopped. He would have been ashamed to tell of it, but large drops of sweat stood on his forehead, his heart beat heavy and thick with fear; he even thought he saw something white rising and glimmering in the gloom before him, and shuddered to think what if the form of his dead mother should suddenly appear to him.

“I know one thing,” he said to himself, as he stumbled back in the sitting-room, and sat down; “I’ll let that fellow alone, after this! What did I want of his cussed paper? I b’lieve I am bewitched, sure enough! I’ve been shivering and sweating, ever since! Where did he get that hair? It couldn’t have been that! I burnt that up, I know I did! It would be a joke, if hair could rise from the dead!”

Ah, Legree! that golden tress was charmed; each hair had in it a spell of terror and remorse for thee, and was used by a mightier power to bind thy cruel hands from inflicting uttermost evil on the helpless!

“I say,” said Legree, stamping and whistling to the dogs, “wake up, some of you, and keep me company!” but the dogs only opened one eye at him, sleepily, and closed it again.

“I’ll have Sambo and Quimbo up here, to sing and dance one of their hell dances, and keep off these horrid notions,” said Legree; and, putting on his hat, he went on to the verandah, and blew a horn, with which he commonly summoned his two sable drivers.

Legree was often wont, when in a gracious humor, to get these two worthies into his sitting-room, and, after warming them up with whiskey, amuse himself by setting them to singing, dancing or fighting, as the humor took him.

It was between one and two o’clock at night, as Cassy was returning from her ministrations to poor Tom, that she heard the sound of wild shrieking, whooping, halloing, and singing, from the sitting-room, mingled with the barking of dogs, and other symptoms of general uproar.

She came up on the verandah steps, and looked in. Legree and both the drivers, in a state of furious intoxication, were singing, whooping, upsetting chairs, and making all manner of ludicrous and horrid grimaces at each other.

She rested her small, slender hand on the window-blind, and looked fixedly at them;⁠—there was a world of anguish, scorn, and fierce bitterness, in her black eyes, as she did so. “Would it be a sin to rid the world of such a wretch?” she said to herself.

She turned hurriedly away, and, passing round to a back door, glided upstairs, and tapped at Emmeline’s door.

CHAPTER XXXVI

Emmeline and Cassy
Cassy entered the room, and found Emmeline sitting, pale with fear, in the furthest corner of it. As she came in, the girl started up nervously; but, on seeing who it was, rushed forward, and catching her arm, said, “O Cassy, is it you? I’m so glad you’ve come! I was afraid it was⁠—. O, you don’t know what a horrid noise there has been, downstairs, all this evening!”

“I ought to know,” said Cassy, dryly. “I’ve heard it often enough.”

“O Cassy! do tell me⁠—couldn’t we get away from this place? I don’t care where⁠—into the swamp among the snakes⁠—anywhere! Couldn’t we get somewhere away from here?”

“Nowhere, but into our graves,” said Cassy.

“Did you ever try?”

“I’ve seen enough of trying and what comes of it,” said Cassy.

“I’d be willing to live in the swamps, and gnaw the bark from trees. I an’t afraid of snakes! I’d rather have one near me than him,” said Emmeline, eagerly.

“There have been a good many here of your opinion,” said Cassy; “but you couldn’t stay in the swamps⁠—you’d be tracked by the dogs, and brought back, and then⁠—then⁠—”

“What would he do?” said the girl, looking, with breathless interest, into her face.

“What wouldn’t he do, you’d better ask,” said Cassy. “He’s learned his trade well, among the pirates in the West Indies. You wouldn’t sleep much, if I should tell you things I’ve seen⁠—things that he tells of, sometimes, for good jokes. I’ve heard screams here that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for weeks and weeks. There’s a place way out down by the quarters, where you can see a black, blasted tree, and the ground all covered with black ashes. Ask anyone what was done there, and see if they will dare to tell you.”

“O! what do you mean?”

“I won’t tell you. I hate to think of it. And I tell you, the Lord only knows what we may see tomorrow, if that poor fellow holds out as he’s begun.”

“Horrid!” said Emmeline, every drop of blood receding from her cheeks. “O, Cassy, do tell me what I shall do!”

“What I’ve done. Do the best you can⁠—do what you must⁠—and make it up in hating and cursing.”

“He wanted to make me drink some of his hateful brandy,” said Emmeline; “and I hate it so⁠—”

“You’d better drink,” said Cassy. “I hated it, too; and now I can’t live without it. One must have something;⁠—things don’t look so dreadful, when you take that.”

“Mother used to tell me never to touch any such thing,” said Emmeline.

Mother told you!” said Cassy, with a thrilling and bitter emphasis on the word mother. “What use is it for mothers to say anything? You are all to be bought and paid for, and your souls belong to whoever gets you. That’s the way it goes. I say, drink brandy; drink all you can, and it’ll make things come easier.”

“O, Cassy! do pity me!”

“Pity you!⁠—don’t I? Haven’t I a daughter⁠—Lord knows where she is, and whose she is, now⁠—going the way her mother went, before her, I suppose, and that her children must go, after her! There’s no end to the curse⁠—forever!”

“I wish I’d never been born!” said Emmeline, wringing her hands.

“That’s an old wish with me,” said Cassy. “I’ve got used to wishing that. I’d die, if I dared to,” she said, looking out into the darkness, with that still, fixed despair which was the habitual expression of her face when at rest.

“It would be wicked to kill one’s self,” said Emmeline.

“I don’t know why⁠—no wickeder than things we live and do, day after day. But the sisters told me things, when I was in the convent, that make me afraid to die. If it would only be the end of us, why, then⁠—”

Emmeline turned away, and hid her face in her hands.

While this conversation was passing in the chamber, Legree, overcome with his carouse, had sunk to sleep in the room below. Legree was not an habitual drunkard. His coarse, strong nature craved, and could endure, a continual stimulation, that would have utterly wrecked and crazed a finer one. But a deep, underlying spirit of cautiousness prevented his often yielding to appetite in such measure as to lose control of himself.

This night, however, in his feverish efforts to banish from his mind those fearful elements of woe and remorse which woke within him, he had indulged more than common; so that, when he had discharged his sable attendants, he fell heavily on a settle in the room, and was sound asleep.

O! how dares the bad soul to enter the shadowy world of sleep?⁠—that land whose dim outlines lie so fearfully near to the mystic scene of retribution! Legree dreamed. In his heavy and feverish sleep, a veiled form stood beside him, and laid a cold, soft hand upon him. He thought he knew who it was; and shuddered, with creeping horror, though the face was veiled. Then he thought he felt that hair twining round his fingers; and then, that it slid smoothly round his neck, and tightened and tightened, and he could not draw his breath; and then he thought voices whispered to him⁠—whispers that chilled him with horror. Then it seemed to him he was on the edge of a frightful abyss, holding on and struggling in mortal fear, while dark hands stretched up, and were pulling him over; and Cassy came behind him laughing, and pushed him. And then rose up that solemn veiled figure, and drew aside the veil. It was his mother; and she turned away from him, and he fell down, down, down, amid a confused noise of shrieks, and groans, and shouts of demon laughter⁠—and Legree awoke.

Calmly the rosy hue of dawn was stealing into the room. The morning star stood, with its solemn, holy eye of light, looking down on the man of sin, from out the brightening sky. O, with what freshness, what solemnity and beauty, is each new day born; as if to say to insensate man, “Behold! thou hast one more chance! Strive for immortal glory!” There is no speech nor language where this voice is not heard; but the bold, bad man heard it not. He woke with an oath and a curse. What to him was the gold and purple, the daily miracle of morning! What to him the sanctity of the star which the Son of God has hallowed as his own emblem? Brute-like, he saw without perceiving; and, stumbling forward, poured out a tumbler of brandy, and drank half of it.

“I’ve had a h⁠—l of a night!” he said to Cassy, who just then entered from an opposite door.

“You’ll get plenty of the same sort, by and by,” said she, dryly.

“What do you mean, you minx?”

“You’ll find out, one of these days,” returned Cassy, in the same tone. “Now Simon, I’ve one piece of advice to give you.”

“The devil, you have!”

“My advice is,” said Cassy, steadily, as she began adjusting some things about the room, “that you let Tom alone.”

“What business is ’t of yours?”

“What? To be sure, I don’t know what it should be. If you want to pay twelve hundred for a fellow, and use him right up in the press of the season, just to serve your own spite, it’s no business of mine, I’ve done what I could for him.”

“You have? What business have you meddling in my matters?”

“None, to be sure. I’ve saved you some thousands of dollars, at different times, by taking care of your hands⁠—that’s all the thanks I get. If your crop comes shorter into market than any of theirs, you won’t lose your bet, I suppose? Tompkins won’t lord it over you, I suppose⁠—and you’ll pay down your money like a lady, won’t you? I think I see you doing it!”

Legree, like many other planters, had but one form of ambition⁠—to have in the heaviest crop of the season⁠—and he had several bets on this very present season pending in the next town. Cassy, therefore, with woman’s tact, touched the only string that could be made to vibrate.

“Well, I’ll let him off at what he’s got,” said Legree; “but he shall beg my pardon, and promise better fashions.”

“That he won’t do,” said Cassy.

“Won’t⁠—eh?”

“No, he won’t,” said Cassy.

“I’d like to know why, Mistress,” said Legree, in the extreme of scorn.

“Because he’s done right, and he knows it, and won’t say he’s done wrong.”

“Who a cuss cares what he knows? The nigger shall say what I please, or⁠—”

“Or, you’ll lose your bet on the cotton crop, by keeping him out of the field, just at this very press.”

“But he will give up⁠—course, he will; don’t I know what niggers is? He’ll beg like a dog, this morning.”

“He won’t, Simon; you don’t know this kind. You may kill him by inches⁠—you won’t get the first word of confession out of him.”

“We’ll see⁠—where is he?” said Legree, going out.

“In the waste-room of the gin-house,” said Cassy.

Legree, though he talked so stoutly to Cassy, still sallied forth from the house with a degree of misgiving which was not common with him. His dreams of the past night, mingled with Cassy’s prudential suggestions, considerably affected his mind. He resolved that nobody should be witness of his encounter with Tom; and determined, if he could not subdue him by bullying, to defer his vengeance, to be wreaked in a more convenient season.

The solemn light of dawn⁠—the angelic glory of the morning-star⁠—had looked in through the rude window of the shed where Tom was lying; and, as if descending on that star-beam, came the solemn words, “I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” The mysterious warnings and intimations of Cassy, so far from discouraging his soul, in the end had roused it as with a heavenly call. He did not know but that the day of his death was dawning in the sky; and his heart throbbed with solemn throes of joy and desire, as he thought that the wondrous all, of which he had often pondered⁠—the great white throne, with its ever radiant rainbow; the white-robed multitude, with voices as many waters; the crowns, the palms, the harps⁠—might all break upon his vision before that sun should set again. And, therefore, without shuddering or trembling, he heard the voice of his persecutor, as he drew near.

“Well, my boy,” said Legree, with a contemptuous kick, “how do you find yourself? Didn’t I tell yer I could larn yer a thing or two? How do yer like it⁠—eh? How did yer whaling agree with yer, Tom? An’t quite so crank as ye was last night. Ye couldn’t treat a poor sinner, now, to a bit of sermon, could ye⁠—eh?”

Tom answered nothing.

“Get up, you beast!” said Legree, kicking him again.

This was a difficult matter for one so bruised and faint; and, as Tom made efforts to do so, Legree laughed brutally.

“What makes ye so spry, this morning, Tom? Cotched cold, maybe, last night.”

Tom by this time had gained his feet, and was confronting his master with a steady, unmoved front.

“The devil, you can!” said Legree, looking him over. “I believe you haven’t got enough yet. Now, Tom, get right down on yer knees and beg my pardon, for yer shines last night.”

Tom did not move.

“Down, you dog!” said Legree, striking him with his riding-whip.

“Mas’r Legree,” said Tom, “I can’t do it. I did only what I thought was right. I shall do just so again, if ever the time comes. I never will do a cruel thing, come what may.”

“Yes, but ye don’t know what may come, Master Tom. Ye think what you’ve got is something. I tell you ’tain’t anything⁠—nothing ’tall. How would ye like to be tied to a tree, and have a slow fire lit up around ye;⁠—wouldn’t that be pleasant⁠—eh, Tom?”

“Mas’r,” said Tom, “I know ye can do dreadful things; but,”⁠—he stretched himself upward and clasped his hands⁠—“but, after ye’ve killed the body, there an’t no more ye can do. And O, there’s all ETERNITY to come, after that!”

ETERNITY—the word thrilled through the black man’s soul with light and power, as he spoke; it thrilled through the sinner’s soul, too, like the bite of a scorpion. Legree gnashed on him with his teeth, but rage kept him silent; and Tom, like a man disenthralled, spoke, in a clear and cheerful voice.

“Mas’r Legree, as ye bought me, I’ll be a true and faithful servant to ye. I’ll give ye all the work of my hands, all my time, all my strength; but my soul I won’t give up to mortal man. I will hold on to the Lord, and put his commands before all⁠—die or live; you may be sure on’t. Mas’r Legree, I ain’t a grain afeard to die. I’d as soon die as not. Ye may whip me, starve me, burn me⁠—it’ll only send me sooner where I want to go.”

“I’ll make ye give out, though, ’fore I’ve done!” said Legree, in a rage.

“I shall have help,” said Tom; “you’ll never do it.”

“Who the devil’s going to help you?” said Legree, scornfully.

“The Lord Almighty,” said Tom.

“D⁠—n you!” said Legree, as with one blow of his fist he felled Tom to the earth.

A cold soft hand fell on Legree’s at this moment. He turned⁠—it was Cassy’s; but the cold soft touch recalled his dream of the night before, and, flashing through the chambers of his brain, came all the fearful images of the night-watches, with a portion of the horror that accompanied them.

“Will you be a fool?” said Cassy, in French. “Let him go! Let me alone to get him fit to be in the field again. Isn’t it just as I told you?”

They say the alligator, the rhinoceros, though enclosed in bulletproof mail, have each a spot where they are vulnerable; and fierce, reckless, unbelieving reprobates, have commonly this point in superstitious dread.

Legree turned away, determined to let the point go for the time.

“Well, have it your own way,” he said, doggedly, to Cassy.

“Hark, ye!” he said to Tom; “I won’t deal with ye now, because the business is pressing, and I want all my hands; but I never forget. I’ll score it against ye, and sometime I’ll have my pay out o’ yer old black hide⁠—mind ye!”

Legree turned, and went out.

“There you go,” said Cassy, looking darkly after him; “your reckoning’s to come, yet!⁠—My poor fellow, how are you?”

“The Lord God hath sent his angel, and shut the lion’s mouth, for this time,” said Tom.

“For this time, to be sure,” said Cassy; “but now you’ve got his ill will upon you, to follow you day in, day out, hanging like a dog on your throat⁠—sucking your blood, bleeding away your life, drop by drop. I know the man.”

CHAPTER XXXVII

Liberty
“No matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery, the moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the God sink together in the dust, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation.”
Curran

A while we must leave Tom in the hands of his persecutors, while we turn to pursue the fortunes of George and his wife, whom we left in friendly hands, in a farmhouse on the roadside.

Tom Loker we left groaning and touzling in a most immaculately clean Quaker bed, under the motherly supervision of Aunt Dorcas, who found him to the full as tractable a patient as a sick bison.

Imagine a tall, dignified, spiritual woman, whose clear muslin cap shades waves of silvery hair, parted on a broad, clear forehead, which overarches thoughtful gray eyes. A snowy handkerchief of lisse crape is folded neatly across her bosom; her glossy brown silk dress rustles peacefully, as she glides up and down the chamber.

“The devil!” says Tom Loker, giving a great throw to the bedclothes.

“I must request thee, Thomas, not to use such language,” says Aunt Dorcas, as she quietly rearranged the bed.

“Well, I won’t, granny, if I can help it,” says Tom; “but it is enough to make a fellow swear⁠—so cursedly hot!”

Dorcas removed a comforter from the bed, straightened the clothes again, and tucked them in till Tom looked something like a chrysalis; remarking, as she did so:

“I wish, friend, thee would leave off cursing and swearing, and think upon thy ways.”

“What the devil,” said Tom, “should I think of them for? Last thing ever I want to think of⁠—hang it all!” And Tom flounced over, untucking and disarranging everything, in a manner frightful to behold.

“That fellow and gal are here, I s’pose,” said he, sullenly, after a pause.

“They are so,” said Dorcas.

“They’d better be off up to the lake,” said Tom; “the quicker the better.”

“Probably they will do so,” said Aunt Dorcas, knitting peacefully.

“And hark ye,” said Tom; “we’ve got correspondents in Sandusky, that watch the boats for us. I don’t care if I tell, now. I hope they will get away, just to spite Marks⁠—the cursed puppy!⁠—d⁠—n him!”

“Thomas!” said Dorcas.

“I tell you, granny, if you bottle a fellow up too tight, I shall split,” said Tom. “But about the gal⁠—tell ’em to dress her up some way, so’s to alter her. Her description’s out in Sandusky.”

“We will attend to that matter,” said Dorcas, with characteristic composure.

As we at this place take leave of Tom Loker, we may as well say, that, having lain three weeks at the Quaker dwelling, sick with a rheumatic fever, which set in, in company with his other afflictions, Tom arose from his bed a somewhat sadder and wiser man; and, in place of slave-catching, betook himself to life in one of the new settlements, where his talents developed themselves more happily in trapping bears, wolves, and other inhabitants of the forest, in which he made himself quite a name in the land. Tom always spoke reverently of the Quakers. “Nice people,” he would say; “wanted to convert me, but couldn’t come it, exactly. But, tell ye what, stranger, they do fix up a sick fellow first rate⁠—no mistake. Make jist the tallest kind o’ broth and knicknacks.”

As Tom had informed them that their party would be looked for in Sandusky, it was thought prudent to divide them. Jim, with his old mother, was forwarded separately; and a night or two after, George and Eliza, with their child, were driven privately into Sandusky, and lodged beneath a hospital roof, preparatory to taking their last passage on the lake.

Their night was now far spent, and the morning star of liberty rose fair before them!⁠—electric word! What is it? Is there anything more in it than a name⁠—a rhetorical flourish? Why, men and women of America, does your heart’s blood thrill at that word, for which your fathers bled, and your braver mothers were willing that their noblest and best should die?

Is there anything in it glorious and dear for a nation, that is not also glorious and dear for a man? What is freedom to a nation, but freedom to the individuals in it? What is freedom to that young man, who sits there, with his arms folded over his broad chest, the tint of African blood in his cheek, its dark fires in his eyes⁠—what is freedom to George Harris? To your fathers, freedom was the right of a nation to be a nation. To him, it is the right of a man to be a man, and not a brute; the right to call the wife of his bosom his wife, and to protect her from lawless violence; the right to protect and educate his child; the right to have a home of his own, a religion of his own, a character of his own, unsubject to the will of another. All these thoughts were rolling and seething in George’s breast, as he was pensively leaning his head on his hand, watching his wife, as she was adapting to her slender and pretty form the articles of man’s attire, in which it was deemed safest she should make her escape.

“Now for it,” said she, as she stood before the glass, and shook down her silky abundance of black curly hair. “I say, George, it’s almost a pity, isn’t it,” she said, as she held up some of it, playfully⁠—“pity it’s all got to come off?”

George smiled sadly, and made no answer.

Eliza turned to the glass, and the scissors glittered as one long lock after another was detached from her head.

“There, now, that’ll do,” she said, taking up a hairbrush; “now for a few fancy touches.”

“There, an’t I a pretty young fellow?” she said, turning around to her husband, laughing and blushing at the same time.

“You always will be pretty, do what you will,” said George.

“What does make you so sober?” said Eliza, kneeling on one knee, and laying her hand on his. “We are only within twenty-four hours of Canada, they say. Only a day and a night on the lake, and then⁠—oh, then!⁠—”

“O, Eliza!” said George, drawing her towards him; “that is it! Now my fate is all narrowing down to a point. To come so near, to be almost in sight, and then lose all. I should never live under it, Eliza.”

“Don’t fear,” said his wife, hopefully. “The good Lord would not have brought us so far, if he didn’t mean to carry us through. I seem to feel him with us, George.”

“You are a blessed woman, Eliza!” said George, clasping her with a convulsive grasp. “But⁠—oh, tell me! can this great mercy be for us? Will these years and years of misery come to an end?⁠—shall we be free?

“I am sure of it, George,” said Eliza, looking upward, while tears of hope and enthusiasm shone on her long, dark lashes. “I feel it in me, that God is going to bring us out of bondage, this very day.”

“I will believe you, Eliza,” said George, rising suddenly up, “I will believe⁠—come let’s be off. Well, indeed,” said he, holding her off at arm’s length, and looking admiringly at her, “you are a pretty little fellow. That crop of little, short curls, is quite becoming. Put on your cap. So⁠—a little to one side. I never saw you look quite so pretty. But, it’s almost time for the carriage;⁠—I wonder if Mrs. Smyth has got Harry rigged?”

The door opened, and a respectable, middle-aged woman entered, leading little Harry, dressed in girl’s clothes.

“What a pretty girl he makes,” said Eliza, turning him round. “We call him Harriet, you see;⁠—don’t the name come nicely?”

The child stood gravely regarding his mother in her new and strange attire, observing a profound silence, and occasionally drawing deep sighs, and peeping at her from under his dark curls.

“Does Harry know mamma?” said Eliza, stretching her hands toward him.

The child clung shyly to the woman.

“Come Eliza, why do you try to coax him, when you know that he has got to be kept away from you?”

“I know it’s foolish,” said Eliza; “yet, I can’t bear to have him turn away from me. But come⁠—where’s my cloak? Here⁠—how is it men put on cloaks, George?”

“You must wear it so,” said her husband, throwing it over his shoulders.

“So, then,” said Eliza, imitating the motion⁠—“and I must stamp, and take long steps, and try to look saucy.”

“Don’t exert yourself,” said George. “There is, now and then, a modest young man; and I think it would be easier for you to act that character.”

“And these gloves! mercy upon us!” said Eliza; “why, my hands are lost in them.”

“I advise you to keep them on pretty strictly,” said George. “Your slender paw might bring us all out. Now, Mrs. Smyth, you are to go under our charge, and be our aunty⁠—you mind.”

“I’ve heard,” said Mrs. Smyth, “that there have been men down, warning all the packet captains against a man and woman, with a little boy.”

“They have!” said George. “Well, if we see any such people, we can tell them.”

A hack now drove to the door, and the friendly family who had received the fugitives crowded around them with farewell greetings.

The disguises the party had assumed were in accordance with the hints of Tom Loker. Mrs. Smyth, a respectable woman from the settlement in Canada, whither they were fleeing, being fortunately about crossing the lake to return thither, had consented to appear as the aunt of little Harry; and, in order to attach him to her, he had been allowed to remain, the two last days, under her sole charge; and an extra amount of petting, jointed to an indefinite amount of seed-cakes and candy, had cemented a very close attachment on the part of the young gentleman.

The hack drove to the wharf. The two young men, as they appeared, walked up the plank into the boat, Eliza gallantly giving her arm to Mrs. Smyth, and George attending to their baggage.

George was standing at the captain’s office, settling for his party, when he overheard two men talking by his side.

“I’ve watched everyone that came on board,” said one, “and I know they’re not on this boat.”

The voice was that of the clerk of the boat. The speaker whom he addressed was our sometime friend Marks, who, with that valuable perseverance which characterized him, had come on to Sandusky, seeking whom he might devour.

“You would scarcely know the woman from a white one,” said Marks. “The man is a very light mulatto; he has a brand in one of his hands.”

The hand with which George was taking the tickets and change trembled a little; but he turned coolly around, fixed an unconcerned glance on the face of the speaker, and walked leisurely toward another part of the boat, where Eliza stood waiting for him.

Mrs. Smyth, with little Harry, sought the seclusion of the ladies’ cabin, where the dark beauty of the supposed little girl drew many flattering comments from the passengers.

George had the satisfaction, as the bell rang out its farewell peal, to see Marks walk down the plank to the shore; and drew a long sigh of relief, when the boat had put a returnless distance between them.

It was a superb day. The blue waves of Lake Erie danced, rippling and sparkling, in the sunlight. A fresh breeze blew from the shore, and the lordly boat ploughed her way right gallantly onward.

O, what an untold world there is in one human heart! Who thought, as George walked calmly up and down the deck of the steamer, with his shy companion at his side, of all that was burning in his bosom? The mighty good that seemed approaching seemed too good, too fair, even to be a reality; and he felt a jealous dread, every moment of the day, that something would rise to snatch it from him.

But the boat swept on. Hours fleeted, and, at last, clear and full rose the blessed English shores; shores charmed by a mighty spell⁠—with one touch to dissolve every incantation of slavery, no matter in what language pronounced, or by what national power confirmed.

George and his wife stood arm in arm, as the boat neared the small town of Amherstberg, in Canada. His breath grew thick and short; a mist gathered before his eyes; he silently pressed the little hand that lay trembling on his arm. The bell rang; the boat stopped. Scarcely seeing what he did, he looked out his baggage, and gathered his little party. The little company were landed on the shore. They stood still till the boat had cleared; and then, with tears and embracings, the husband and wife, with their wondering child in their arms, knelt down and lifted up their hearts to God!

“ ’Twas something like the burst from death to life;
From the grave’s cerements to the robes of heaven;
From sin’s dominion, and from passion’s strife,
To the pure freedom of a soul forgiven;
Where all the bonds of death and hell are riven,
And mortal puts on immortality,
When Mercy’s hand hath turned the golden key,
And Mercy’s voice hath said, Rejoice, thy soul is free.”

The little party were soon guided, by Mrs. Smyth, to the hospitable abode of a good missionary, whom Christian charity has placed here as a shepherd to the outcast and wandering, who are constantly finding an asylum on this shore.

Who can speak the blessedness of that first day of freedom? Is not the sense of liberty a higher and a finer one than any of the five? To move, speak and breathe⁠—go out and come in unwatched, and free from danger! Who can speak the blessings of that rest which comes down on the free man’s pillow, under laws which insure to him the rights that God has given to man? How fair and precious to that mother was that sleeping child’s face, endeared by the memory of a thousand dangers! How impossible was it to sleep, in the exuberant possession of such blessedness! And yet, these two had not one acre of ground⁠—not a roof that they could call their own⁠—they had spent their all, to the last dollar. They had nothing more than the birds of the air, or the flowers of the field⁠—yet they could not sleep for joy. “O, ye who take freedom from man, with what words shall ye answer it to God?”

CHAPTER XXXVIII

The Victory
“Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory.”

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live⁠—to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered⁠—this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour⁠—this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs⁠—came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.

Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular fieldwork; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and weekdays alike. Why shouldn’t he?⁠—he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes⁠—souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia’s letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts⁠—that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.

One evening, he was sitting, in utter dejection and prostration, by a few decaying brands, where his coarse supper was baking. He put a few bits of brushwood on the fire, and strove to raise the light, and then drew his worn Bible from his pocket. There were all the marked passages, which had thrilled his soul so often⁠—words of patriarchs and seers, poets and sages, who from early time had spoken courage to man⁠—voices from the great cloud of witnesses who ever surround us in the race of life. Had the word lost its power, or could the failing eye and weary sense no longer answer to the touch of that mighty inspiration? Heavily sighing, he put it in his pocket. A coarse laugh roused him; he looked up⁠—Legree was standing opposite to him.

“Well, old boy,” he said, “you find your religion don’t work, it seems! I thought I should get that through your wool, at last!”

The cruel taunt was more than hunger and cold and nakedness. Tom was silent.

“You were a fool,” said Legree; “for I meant to do well by you, when I bought you. You might have been better off than Sambo, or Quimbo either, and had easy times; and, instead of getting cut up and thrashed, every day or two, ye might have had liberty to lord it round, and cut up the other niggers; and ye might have had, now and then, a good warming of whiskey punch. Come, Tom, don’t you think you’d better be reasonable?⁠—heave that ar old pack of trash in the fire, and join my church!”

“The Lord forbid!” said Tom, fervently.

“You see the Lord an’t going to help you; if he had been, he wouldn’t have let me get you! This yer religion is all a mess of lying trumpery, Tom. I know all about it. Ye’d better hold to me; I’m somebody, and can do something!”

“No, Mas’r,” said Tom; “I’ll hold on. The Lord may help me, or not help; but I’ll hold to him, and believe him to the last!”

“The more fool you!” said Legree, spitting scornfully at him, and spurning him with his foot. “Never mind; I’ll chase you down, yet, and bring you under⁠—you’ll see!” and Legree turned away.

When a heavy weight presses the soul to the lowest level at which endurance is possible, there is an instant and desperate effort of every physical and moral nerve to throw off the weight; and hence the heaviest anguish often precedes a return tide of joy and courage. So was it now with Tom. The atheistic taunts of his cruel master sunk his before dejected soul to the lowest ebb; and, though the hand of faith still held to the eternal rock, it was a numb, despairing grasp. Tom sat, like one stunned, at the fire. Suddenly everything around him seemed to fade, and a vision rose before him of one crowned with thorns, buffeted and bleeding. Tom gazed, in awe and wonder, at the majestic patience of the face; the deep, pathetic eyes thrilled him to his inmost heart; his soul woke, as, with floods of emotion, he stretched out his hands and fell upon his knees⁠—when, gradually, the vision changed: the sharp thorns became rays of glory; and, in splendor inconceivable, he saw that same face bending compassionately towards him, and a voice said, “He that overcometh shall sit down with me on my throne, even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father on his throne.”

How long Tom lay there, he knew not. When he came to himself, the fire was gone out, his clothes were wet with the chill and drenching dews; but the dread soul-crisis was past, and, in the joy that filled him, he no longer felt hunger, cold, degradation, disappointment, wretchedness. From his deepest soul, he that hour loosed and parted from every hope in life that now is, and offered his own will an unquestioning sacrifice to the Infinite. Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars⁠—types of the angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:

“The earth shall be dissolved like snow,
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.

“And when this mortal life shall fail,
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining like the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.”

Those who have been familiar with the religious histories of the slave population know that relations like what we have narrated are very common among them. We have heard some from their own lips, of a very touching and affecting character. The psychologist tells us of a state, in which the affections and images of the mind become so dominant and overpowering, that they press into their service the outward imagining. Who shall measure what an all-pervading Spirit may do with these capabilities of our mortality, or the ways in which He may encourage the desponding souls of the desolate? If the poor forgotten slave believes that Jesus hath appeared and spoken to him, who shall contradict him? Did He not say that his mission, in all ages, was to bind up the brokenhearted, and set at liberty them that are bruised?

When the dim gray of dawn woke the slumberers to go forth to the field, there was among those tattered and shivering wretches one who walked with an exultant tread; for firmer than the ground he trod on was his strong faith in Almighty, eternal love. Ah, Legree, try all your forces now! Utmost agony, woe, degradation, want, and loss of all things, shall only hasten on the process by which he shall be made a king and a priest unto God!

From this time, an inviolable sphere of peace encompassed the lowly heart of the oppressed one⁠—an ever-present Saviour hallowed it as a temple. Past now the bleeding of earthly regrets; past its fluctuations of hope, and fear, and desire; the human will, bent, and bleeding, and struggling long, was now entirely merged in the Divine. So short now seemed the remaining voyage of life⁠—so near, so vivid, seemed eternal blessedness⁠—that life’s uttermost woes fell from him unharming.

All noticed the change in his appearance. Cheerfulness and alertness seemed to return to him, and a quietness which no insult or injury could ruffle seemed to possess him.

“What the devil’s got into Tom?” Legree said to Sambo. “A while ago he was all down in the mouth, and now he’s peart as a cricket.”

“Dunno, Mas’r; gwine to run off, mebbe.”

“Like to see him try that,” said Legree, with a savage grin, “wouldn’t we, Sambo?”

“Guess we would! Haw! haw! ho!” said the sooty gnome, laughing obsequiously. “Lord, de fun! To see him stickin’ in de mud⁠—chasin’ and tarin’ through de bushes, dogs a holdin’ on to him! Lord, I laughed fit to split, dat ar time we cotched Molly. I thought they’d a had her all stripped up afore I could get ’em off. She car’s de marks o’ dat ar spree yet.”

“I reckon she will, to her grave,” said Legree. “But now, Sambo, you look sharp. If the nigger’s got anything of this sort going, trip him up.”

“Mas’r, let me lone for dat,” said Sambo, “I’ll tree de coon. Ho, ho, ho!”

This was spoken as Legree was getting on his horse, to go to the neighboring town. That night, as he was returning, he thought he would turn his horse and ride round the quarters, and see if all was safe.

It was a superb moonlight night, and the shadows of the graceful China trees lay minutely pencilled on the turf below, and there was that transparent stillness in the air which it seems almost unholy to disturb. Legree was a little distance from the quarters, when he heard the voice of someone singing. It was not a usual sound there, and he paused to listen. A musical tenor voice sang:

“When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I’ll bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes

“Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurled,
Then I can smile at Satan’s rage,
And face a frowning world.

“Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall,
May I but safely reach my home,
My God, my Heaven, my All.”

“So ho!” said Legree to himself, “he thinks so, does he? How I hate these cursed Methodist hymns! Here, you nigger,” said he, coming suddenly out upon Tom, and raising his riding-whip, “how dare you be gettin’ up this yer row, when you ought to be in bed? Shut yer old black gash, and get along in with you!”

“Yes, Mas’r,” said Tom, with ready cheerfulness, as he rose to go in.

Legree was provoked beyond measure by Tom’s evident happiness; and riding up to him, belabored him over his head and shoulders.

“There, you dog,” he said, “see if you’ll feel so comfortable, after that!”

But the blows fell now only on the outer man, and not, as before, on the heart. Tom stood perfectly submissive; and yet Legree could not hide from himself that his power over his bond thrall was somehow gone. And, as Tom disappeared in his cabin, and he wheeled his horse suddenly round, there passed through his mind one of those vivid flashes that often send the lightning of conscience across the dark and wicked soul. He understood full well that it was GOD who was standing between him and his victim, and he blasphemed him. That submissive and silent man, whom taunts, nor threats, nor stripes, nor cruelties, could disturb, roused a voice within him, such as of old his Master roused in the demoniac soul, saying, “What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?⁠—art thou come to torment us before the time?”

Tom’s whole soul overflowed with compassion and sympathy for the poor wretches by whom he was surrounded. To him it seemed as if his life-sorrows were now over, and as if, out of that strange treasury of peace and joy, with which he had been endowed from above, he longed to pour out something for the relief of their woes. It is true, opportunities were scanty; but, on the way to the fields, and back again, and during the hours of labor, chances fell in his way of extending a helping-hand to the weary, the disheartened and discouraged. The poor, worn-down, brutalized creatures, at first, could scarce comprehend this; but, when it was continued week after week, and month after month, it began to awaken long-silent chords in their benumbed hearts. Gradually and imperceptibly the strange, silent, patient man, who was ready to bear everyone’s burden, and sought help from none⁠—who stood aside for all, and came last, and took least, yet was foremost to share his little all with any who needed⁠—the man who, in cold nights, would give up his tattered blanket to add to the comfort of some woman who shivered with sickness, and who filled the baskets of the weaker ones in the field, at the terrible risk of coming short in his own measure⁠—and who, though pursued with unrelenting cruelty by their common tyrant, never joined in uttering a word of reviling or cursing⁠—this man, at last, began to have a strange power over them; and, when the more pressing season was past, and they were allowed again their Sundays for their own use, many would gather together to hear from him of Jesus. They would gladly have met to hear, and pray, and sing, in some place, together; but Legree would not permit it, and more than once broke up such attempts, with oaths and brutal execrations⁠—so that the blessed news had to circulate from individual to individual. Yet who can speak the simple joy with which some of those poor outcasts, to whom life was a joyless journey to a dark unknown, heard of a compassionate Redeemer and a heavenly home? It is the statement of missionaries, that, of all races of the earth, none have received the Gospel with such eager docility as the African. The principle of reliance and unquestioning faith, which is its foundation, is more a native element in this race than any other; and it has often been found among them, that a stray seed of truth, borne on some breeze of accident into hearts the most ignorant, has sprung up into fruit, whose abundance has shamed that of higher and more skilful culture.

The poor mulatto woman, whose simple faith had been well-nigh crushed and overwhelmed, by the avalanche of cruelty and wrong which had fallen upon her, felt her soul raised up by the hymns and passages of Holy Writ, which this lowly missionary breathed into her ear in intervals, as they were going to and returning from work; and even the half-crazed and wandering mind of Cassy was soothed and calmed by his simple and unobtrusive influences.

Stung to madness and despair by the crushing agonies of a life, Cassy had often resolved in her soul an hour of retribution, when her hand should avenge on her oppressor all the injustice and cruelty to which she had been witness, or which she had in her own person suffered.

One night, after all in Tom’s cabin were sunk in sleep, he was suddenly aroused by seeing her face at the hole between the logs, that served for a window. She made a silent gesture for him to come out.

Tom came out the door. It was between one and two o’clock at night⁠—broad, calm, still moonlight. Tom remarked, as the light of the moon fell upon Cassy’s large, black eyes, that there was a wild and peculiar glare in them, unlike their wonted fixed despair.

“Come here, Father Tom,” she said, laying her small hand on his wrist, and drawing him forward with a force as if the hand were of steel; “come here⁠—I’ve news for you.”

“What, Misse Cassy?” said Tom, anxiously.

“Tom, wouldn’t you like your liberty?”

“I shall have it, Misse, in God’s time,” said Tom. “Ay, but you may have it tonight,” said Cassy, with a flash of sudden energy. “Come on.”

Tom hesitated.

“Come!” said she, in a whisper, fixing her black eyes on him. “Come along! He’s asleep⁠—sound. I put enough into his brandy to keep him so. I wish I’d had more⁠—I shouldn’t have wanted you. But come, the back door is unlocked; there’s an axe there, I put it there⁠—his room door is open; I’ll show you the way. I’d a done it myself, only my arms are so weak. Come along!”

“Not for ten thousand worlds, Misse!” said Tom, firmly, stopping and holding her back, as she was pressing forward.

“But think of all these poor creatures,” said Cassy. “We might set them all free, and go somewhere in the swamps, and find an island, and live by ourselves; I’ve heard of its being done. Any life is better than this.”

“No!” said Tom, firmly. “No! good never comes of wickedness. I’d sooner chop my right hand off!”

“Then I shall do it,” said Cassy, turning.

“O, Misse Cassy!” said Tom, throwing himself before her, “for the dear Lord’s sake that died for ye, don’t sell your precious soul to the devil, that way! Nothing but evil will come of it. The Lord hasn’t called us to wrath. We must suffer, and wait his time.”

“Wait!” said Cassy. “Haven’t I waited?⁠—waited till my head is dizzy and my heart sick? What has he made me suffer? What has he made hundreds of poor creatures suffer? Isn’t he wringing the lifeblood out of you? I’m called on; they call me! His time’s come, and I’ll have his heart’s blood!”

“No, no, no!” said Tom, holding her small hands, which were clenched with spasmodic violence. “No, ye poor, lost soul, that ye mustn’t do. The dear, blessed Lord never shed no blood but his own, and that he poured out for us when we was enemies. Lord, help us to follow his steps, and love our enemies.”

“Love!” said Cassy, with a fierce glare; “love such enemies! It isn’t in flesh and blood.”

“No, Misse, it isn’t,” said Tom, looking up; “but He gives it to us, and that’s the victory. When we can love and pray over all and through all, the battle’s past, and the victory’s come⁠—glory be to God!” And, with streaming eyes and choking voice, the black man looked up to heaven.

And this, oh Africa! latest called of nations⁠—called to the crown of thorns, the scourge, the bloody sweat, the cross of agony⁠—this is to be thy victory; by this shalt thou reign with Christ when his kingdom shall come on earth.

The deep fervor of Tom’s feelings, the softness of his voice, his tears, fell like dew on the wild, unsettled spirit of the poor woman. A softness gathered over the lurid fires of her eye; she looked down, and Tom could feel the relaxing muscles of her hands, as she said:

“Didn’t I tell you that evil spirits followed me? O! Father Tom, I can’t pray⁠—I wish I could. I never have prayed since my children were sold! What you say must be right, I know it must; but when I try to pray, I can only hate and curse. I can’t pray!”

“Poor soul!” said Tom, compassionately. “Satan desires to have ye, and sift ye as wheat. I pray the Lord for ye. O! Misse Cassy, turn to the dear Lord Jesus. He came to bind up the brokenhearted, and comfort all that mourn.”

Cassy stood silent, while large, heavy tears dropped from her downcast eyes.

“Misse Cassy,” said Tom, in a hesitating tone, after surveying her in silence, “if ye only could get away from here⁠—if the thing was possible⁠—I’d ’vise ye and Emmeline to do it; that is, if ye could go without blood-guiltiness⁠—not otherwise.”

“Would you try it with us, Father Tom?”

“No,” said Tom; “time was when I would; but the Lord’s given me a work among these yer poor souls, and I’ll stay with ’em and bear my cross with ’em till the end. It’s different with you; it’s a snare to you⁠—it’s more’n you can stand⁠—and you’d better go, if you can.”

“I know no way but through the grave,” said Cassy. “There’s no beast or bird but can find a home some where; even the snakes and the alligators have their places to lie down and be quiet; but there’s no place for us. Down in the darkest swamps, their dogs will hunt us out, and find us. Everybody and everything is against us; even the very beasts side against us⁠—and where shall we go?”

Tom stood silent; at length he said:

“Him that saved Daniel in the den of lions⁠—that saved the children in the fiery furnace⁠—Him that walked on the sea, and bade the winds be still⁠—He’s alive yet; and I’ve faith to believe he can deliver you. Try it, and I’ll pray, with all my might, for you.”

By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond?

Cassy had often revolved, for hours, all possible or probable schemes of escape, and dismissed them all, as hopeless and impracticable; but at this moment there flashed through her mind a plan, so simple and feasible in all its details, as to awaken an instant hope.

“Father Tom, I’ll try it!” she said, suddenly.

“Amen!” said Tom; “the Lord help ye!”

CHAPTER XXXIX

The Stratagem
“The way of the wicked is as darkness; he knoweth not at what he stumbleth.”

The garret of the house that Legree occupied, like most other garrets, was a great, desolate space, dusty, hung with cobwebs, and littered with cast-off lumber. The opulent family that had inhabited the house in the days of its splendor had imported a great deal of splendid furniture, some of which they had taken away with them, while some remained standing desolate in mouldering, unoccupied rooms, or stored away in this place. One or two immense packing-boxes, in which this furniture was brought, stood against the sides of the garret. There was a small window there, which let in, through its dingy, dusty panes, a scanty, uncertain light on the tall, high-backed chairs and dusty tables, that had once seen better days. Altogether, it was a weird and ghostly place; but, ghostly as it was, it wanted not in legends among the superstitious negroes, to increase its terrors. Some few years before, a negro woman, who had incurred Legree’s displeasure, was confined there for several weeks. What passed there, we do not say; the negroes used to whisper darkly to each other; but it was known that the body of the unfortunate creature was one day taken down from there, and buried; and, after that, it was said that oaths and cursings, and the sound of violent blows, used to ring through that old garret, and mingled with wailings and groans of despair. Once, when Legree chanced to overhear something of this kind, he flew into a violent passion, and swore that the next one that told stories about that garret should have an opportunity of knowing what was there, for he would chain them up there for a week. This hint was enough to repress talking, though, of course, it did not disturb the credit of the story in the least.

Gradually, the staircase that led to the garret, and even the passageway to the staircase, were avoided by everyone in the house, from everyone fearing to speak of it, and the legend was gradually falling into desuetude. It had suddenly occurred to Cassy to make use of the superstitious excitability, which was so great in Legree, for the purpose of her liberation, and that of her fellow-sufferer.

The sleeping-room of Cassy was directly under the garret. One day, without consulting Legree, she suddenly took it upon her, with some considerable ostentation, to change all the furniture and appurtenances of the room to one at some considerable distance. The under-servants, who were called on to effect this movement, were running and bustling about with great zeal and confusion, when Legree returned from a ride.

“Hallo! you Cass!” said Legree, “what’s in the wind now?”

“Nothing; only I choose to have another room,” said Cassy, doggedly.

“And what for, pray?” said Legree.

“I choose to,” said Cassy.

“The devil you do! and what for?”

“I’d like to get some sleep, now and then.”

“Sleep! well, what hinders your sleeping?”

“I could tell, I suppose, if you want to hear,” said Cassy, dryly.

“Speak out, you minx!” said Legree.

“O! nothing. I suppose it wouldn’t disturb you! Only groans, and people scuffing, and rolling round on the garret floor, half the night, from twelve to morning!”

“People up garret!” said Legree, uneasily, but forcing a laugh; “who are they, Cassy?”

Cassy raised her sharp, black eyes, and looked in the face of Legree, with an expression that went through his bones, as she said, “To be sure, Simon, who are they? I’d like to have you tell me. You don’t know, I suppose!”

With an oath, Legree struck at her with his riding-whip; but she glided to one side, and passed through the door, and looking back, said, “If you’ll sleep in that room, you’ll know all about it. Perhaps you’d better try it!” and then immediately she shut and locked the door.

Legree blustered and swore, and threatened to break down the door; but apparently thought better of it, and walked uneasily into the sitting-room. Cassy perceived that her shaft had struck home; and, from that hour, with the most exquisite address, she never ceased to continue the train of influences she had begun.

In a knothole of the garret, that had opened, she had inserted the neck of an old bottle, in such a manner that when there was the least wind, most doleful and lugubrious wailing sounds proceeded from it, which, in a high wind, increased to a perfect shriek, such as to credulous and superstitious ears might easily seem to be that of horror and despair.

These sounds were, from time to time, heard by the servants, and revived in full force the memory of the old ghost legend. A superstitious creeping horror seemed to fill the house; and though no one dared to breathe it to Legree, he found himself encompassed by it, as by an atmosphere.

No one is so thoroughly superstitious as the godless man. The Christian is composed by the belief of a wise, all-ruling Father, whose presence fills the void unknown with light and order; but to the man who has dethroned God, the spirit-land is, indeed, in the words of the Hebrew poet, “a land of darkness and the shadow of death,” without any order, where the light is as darkness. Life and death to him are haunted grounds, filled with goblin forms of vague and shadowy dread.

Legree had had the slumbering moral elements in him roused by his encounters with Tom⁠—roused, only to be resisted by the determinate force of evil; but still there was a thrill and commotion of the dark, inner world, produced by every word, or prayer, or hymn, that reacted in superstitious dread.

The influence of Cassy over him was of a strange and singular kind. He was her owner, her tyrant and tormentor. She was, as he knew, wholly, and without any possibility of help or redress, in his hands; and yet so it is, that the most brutal man cannot live in constant association with a strong female influence, and not be greatly controlled by it. When he first bought her, she was, as she said, a woman delicately bred; and then he crushed her, without scruple, beneath the foot of his brutality. But, as time, and debasing influences, and despair, hardened womanhood within her, and waked the fires of fiercer passions, she had become in a measure his mistress, and he alternately tyrannized over and dreaded her.

This influence had become more harassing and decided, since partial insanity had given a strange, weird, unsettled cast to all her words and language.

A night or two after this, Legree was sitting in the old sitting-room, by the side of a flickering wood fire, that threw uncertain glances round the room. It was a stormy, windy night, such as raises whole squadrons of nondescript noises in rickety old houses. Windows were rattling, shutters flapping, and wind carousing, rumbling, and tumbling down the chimney, and, every once in a while, puffing out smoke and ashes, as if a legion of spirits were coming after them. Legree had been casting up accounts and reading newspapers for some hours, while Cassy sat in the corner; sullenly looking into the fire. Legree laid down his paper, and seeing an old book lying on the table, which he had noticed Cassy reading, the first part of the evening, took it up, and began to turn it over. It was one of those collections of stories of bloody murders, ghostly legends, and supernatural visitations, which, coarsely got up and illustrated, have a strange fascination for one who once begins to read them.

Legree poohed and pished, but read, turning page after page, till, finally, after reading some way, he threw down the book, with an oath.

“You don’t believe in ghosts, do you, Cass?” said he, taking the tongs and settling the fire. “I thought you’d more sense than to let noises scare you.”

“No matter what I believe,” said Cassy, sullenly.

“Fellows used to try to frighten me with their yarns at sea,” said Legree. “Never come it round me that way. I’m too tough for any such trash, tell ye.”

Cassy sat looking intensely at him in the shadow of the corner. There was that strange light in her eyes that always impressed Legree with uneasiness.

“Them noises was nothing but rats and the wind,” said Legree. “Rats will make a devil of a noise. I used to hear ’em sometimes down in the hold of the ship; and wind⁠—Lord’s sake! ye can make anything out o’ wind.”

Cassy knew Legree was uneasy under her eyes, and, therefore, she made no answer, but sat fixing them on him, with that strange, unearthly expression, as before.

“Come, speak out, woman⁠—don’t you think so?” said Legree.

“Can rats walk downstairs, and come walking through the entry, and open a door when you’ve locked it and set a chair against it?” said Cassy; “and come walk, walk, walking right up to your bed, and put out their hand, so?”

Cassy kept her glittering eyes fixed on Legree, as she spoke, and he stared at her like a man in the nightmare, till, when she finished by laying her hand, icy cold, on his, he sprung back, with an oath.

“Woman! what do you mean? Nobody did?”

“O, no⁠—of course not⁠—did I say they did?” said Cassy, with a smile of chilling derision.

“But⁠—did⁠—have you really seen?⁠—Come, Cass, what is it, now⁠—speak out!”

“You may sleep there, yourself,” said Cassy, “if you want to know.”

“Did it come from the garret, Cassy?”

It⁠—what?” said Cassy.

“Why, what you told of⁠—”

“I didn’t tell you anything,” said Cassy, with dogged sullenness.

Legree walked up and down the room, uneasily.

“I’ll have this yer thing examined. I’ll look into it, this very night. I’ll take my pistols⁠—”

“Do,” said Cassy; “sleep in that room. I’d like to see you doing it. Fire your pistols⁠—do!”

Legree stamped his foot, and swore violently.

“Don’t swear,” said Cassy; “nobody knows who may be hearing you. Hark! What was that?”

“What?” said Legree, starting.

A heavy old Dutch clock, that stood in the corner of the room, began, and slowly struck twelve.

For some reason or other, Legree neither spoke nor moved; a vague horror fell on him; while Cassy, with a keen, sneering glitter in her eyes, stood looking at him, counting the strokes.

“Twelve o’clock; well now we’ll see,” said she, turning, and opening the door into the passageway, and standing as if listening.

“Hark! What’s that?” said she, raising her finger.

“It’s only the wind,” said Legree. “Don’t you hear how cursedly it blows?”

“Simon, come here,” said Cassy, in a whisper, laying her hand on his, and leading him to the foot of the stairs: “do you know what that is? Hark!”

A wild shriek came pealing down the stairway. It came from the garret. Legree’s knees knocked together; his face grew white with fear.

“Hadn’t you better get your pistols?” said Cassy, with a sneer that froze Legree’s blood. “It’s time this thing was looked into, you know. I’d like to have you go up now; they’re at it.”

“I won’t go!” said Legree, with an oath.

“Why not? There an’t any such thing as ghosts, you know! Come!” and Cassy flitted up the winding stairway, laughing, and looking back after him. “Come on.”

“I believe you are the devil!” said Legree. “Come back you hag⁠—come back, Cass! You shan’t go!”

But Cassy laughed wildly, and fled on. He heard her open the entry doors that led to the garret. A wild gust of wind swept down, extinguishing the candle he held in his hand, and with it the fearful, unearthly screams; they seemed to be shrieked in his very ear.

Legree fled frantically into the parlor, whither, in a few moments, he was followed by Cassy, pale, calm, cold as an avenging spirit, and with that same fearful light in her eye.

“I hope you are satisfied,” said she.

“Blast you, Cass!” said Legree.

“What for?” said Cassy. “I only went up and shut the doors. What’s the matter with that garret, Simon, do you suppose?” said she.

“None of your business!” said Legree.

“O, it an’t? Well,” said Cassy, “at any rate, I’m glad I don’t sleep under it.”

Anticipating the rising of the wind, that very evening, Cassy had been up and opened the garret window. Of course, the moment the doors were opened, the wind had drafted down, and extinguished the light.

This may serve as a specimen of the game that Cassy played with Legree, until he would sooner have put his head into a lion’s mouth than to have explored that garret. Meanwhile, in the night, when everybody else was asleep, Cassy slowly and carefully accumulated there a stock of provisions sufficient to afford subsistence for some time; she transferred, article by article, a greater part of her own and Emmeline’s wardrobe. All things being arranged, they only waited a fitting opportunity to put their plan in execution.

By cajoling Legree, and taking advantage of a good-natured interval, Cassy had got him to take her with him to the neighboring town, which was situated directly on the Red River. With a memory sharpened to almost preternatural clearness, she remarked every turn in the road, and formed a mental estimate of the time to be occupied in traversing it.

At the time when all was matured for action, our readers may, perhaps, like to look behind the scenes, and see the final coup d’état.

It was now near evening, Legree had been absent, on a ride to a neighboring farm. For many days Cassy had been unusually gracious and accommodating in her humors; and Legree and she had been, apparently, on the best of terms. At present, we may behold her and Emmeline in the room of the latter, busy in sorting and arranging two small bundles.

“There, these will be large enough,” said Cassy. “Now put on your bonnet, and let’s start; it’s just about the right time.”

“Why, they can see us yet,” said Emmeline.

“I mean they shall,” said Cassy, coolly. “Don’t you know that they must have their chase after us, at any rate? The way of the thing is to be just this:⁠—We will steal out of the back door, and run down by the quarters. Sambo or Quimbo will be sure to see us. They will give chase, and we will get into the swamp; then, they can’t follow us any further till they go up and give the alarm, and turn out the dogs, and so on; and, while they are blundering round, and tumbling over each other, as they always do, you and I will slip along to the creek, that runs back of the house, and wade along in it, till we get opposite the back door. That will put the dogs all at fault; for scent won’t lie in the water. Everyone will run out of the house to look after us, and then we’ll whip in at the back door, and up into the garret, where I’ve got a nice bed made up in one of the great boxes. We must stay in that garret a good while, for, I tell you, he will raise heaven and earth after us. He’ll muster some of those old overseers on the other plantations, and have a great hunt; and they’ll go over every inch of ground in that swamp. He makes it his boast that nobody ever got away from him. So let him hunt at his leisure.”

“Cassy, how well you have planned it!” said Emmeline. “Who ever would have thought of it, but you?”

There was neither pleasure nor exultation in Cassy’s eyes⁠—only a despairing firmness.

“Come,” she said, reaching her hand to Emmeline.

The two fugitives glided noiselessly from the house, and flitted, through the gathering shadows of evening, along by the quarters. The crescent moon, set like a silver signet in the western sky, delayed a little the approach of night. As Cassy expected, when quite near the verge of the swamps that encircled the plantation, they heard a voice calling to them to stop. It was not Sambo, however, but Legree, who was pursuing them with violent execrations. At the sound, the feebler spirit of Emmeline gave way; and, laying hold of Cassy’s arm, she said, “O, Cassy, I’m going to faint!”

“If you do, I’ll kill you!” said Cassy, drawing a small, glittering stiletto, and flashing it before the eyes of the girl.

The diversion accomplished the purpose. Emmeline did not faint, and succeeded in plunging, with Cassy, into a part of the labyrinth of swamp, so deep and dark that it was perfectly hopeless for Legree to think of following them, without assistance.

“Well,” said he, chuckling brutally; “at any rate, they’ve got themselves into a trap now⁠—the baggage! They’re safe enough. They shall sweat for it!”

“Hulloa, there! Sambo! Quimbo! All hands!” called Legree, coming to the quarters, when the men and women were just returning from work. “There’s two runaways in the swamps. I’ll give five dollars to any nigger as catches ’em. Turn out the dogs! Turn out Tiger, and Fury, and the rest!”

The sensation produced by this news was immediate. Many of the men sprang forward, officiously, to offer their services, either from the hope of the reward, or from that cringing subserviency which is one of the most baleful effects of slavery. Some ran one way, and some another. Some were for getting flambeaux of pine-knots. Some were uncoupling the dogs, whose hoarse, savage bay added not a little to the animation of the scene.

“Mas’r, shall we shoot ’em, if can’t cotch ’em?” said Sambo, to whom his master brought out a rifle.

“You may fire on Cass, if you like; it’s time she was gone to the devil, where she belongs; but the gal, not,” said Legree. “And now, boys, be spry and smart. Five dollars for him that gets ’em; and a glass of spirits to every one of you, anyhow.”

The whole band, with the glare of blazing torches, and whoop, and shout, and savage yell, of man and beast, proceeded down to the swamp, followed, at some distance, by every servant in the house. The establishment was, of a consequence, wholly deserted, when Cassy and Emmeline glided into it the back way. The whooping and shouts of their pursuers were still filling the air; and, looking from the sitting-room windows, Cassy and Emmeline could see the troop, with their flambeaux, just dispersing themselves along the edge of the swamp.

“See there!” said Emmeline, pointing to Cassy; “the hunt is begun! Look how those lights dance about! Hark! the dogs! Don’t you hear? If we were only there, our chances wouldn’t be worth a picayune. O, for pity’s sake, do let’s hide ourselves. Quick!”

“There’s no occasion for hurry,” said Cassy, coolly; “they are all out after the hunt⁠—that’s the amusement of the evening! We’ll go upstairs, by and by. Meanwhile,” said she, deliberately taking a key from the pocket of a coat that Legree had thrown down in his hurry, “meanwhile I shall take something to pay our passage.”

She unlocked the desk, took from it a roll of bills, which she counted over rapidly.

“O, don’t let’s do that!” said Emmeline.

“Don’t!” said Cassy; “why not? Would you have us starve in the swamps, or have that that will pay our way to the free states. Money will do anything, girl.” And, as she spoke, she put the money in her bosom.

“It would be stealing,” said Emmeline, in a distressed whisper.

“Stealing!” said Cassy, with a scornful laugh. “They who steal body and soul needn’t talk to us. Every one of these bills is stolen⁠—stolen from poor, starving, sweating creatures, who must go to the devil at last, for his profit. Let him talk about stealing! But come, we may as well go up garret; I’ve got a stock of candles there, and some books to pass away the time. You may be pretty sure they won’t come there to inquire after us. If they do, I’ll play ghost for them.”

When Emmeline reached the garret, she found an immense box, in which some heavy pieces of furniture had once been brought, turned on its side, so that the opening faced the wall, or rather the eaves. Cassy lit a small lamp, and creeping round under the eaves, they established themselves in it. It was spread with a couple of small mattresses and some pillows; a box near by was plentifully stored with candles, provisions, and all the clothing necessary to their journey, which Cassy had arranged into bundles of an astonishingly small compass.

“There,” said Cassy, as she fixed the lamp into a small hook, which she had driven into the side of the box for that purpose; “this is to be our home for the present. How do you like it?”

“Are you sure they won’t come and search the garret?”

“I’d like to see Simon Legree doing that,” said Cassy. “No, indeed; he will be too glad to keep away. As to the servants, they would any of them stand and be shot, sooner than show their faces here.”

Somewhat reassured, Emmeline settled herself back on her pillow.

“What did you mean, Cassy, by saying you would kill me?” she said, simply.

“I meant to stop your fainting,” said Cassy, “and I did do it. And now I tell you, Emmeline, you must make up your mind not to faint, let what will come; there’s no sort of need of it. If I had not stopped you, that wretch might have had his hands on you now.”

Emmeline shuddered.

The two remained some time in silence. Cassy busied herself with a French book; Emmeline, overcome with the exhaustion, fell into a doze, and slept some time. She was awakened by loud shouts and outcries, the tramp of horses’ feet, and the baying of dogs. She started up, with a faint shriek.

“Only the hunt coming back,” said Cassy, coolly; “never fear. Look out of this knothole. Don’t you see ’em all down there? Simon has to give up, for this night. Look, how muddy his horse is, flouncing about in the swamp; the dogs, too, look rather crestfallen. Ah, my good sir, you’ll have to try the race again and again⁠—the game isn’t there.”

“O, don’t speak a word!” said Emmeline; “what if they should hear you?”

“If they do hear anything, it will make them very particular to keep away,” said Cassy. “No danger; we may make any noise we please, and it will only add to the effect.”

At length the stillness of midnight settled down over the house. Legree, cursing his ill luck, and vowing dire vengeance on the morrow, went to bed.

CHAPTER XL

The Martyr
“Deem not the just by Heaven forgot!
Though life its common gifts deny⁠—
Though, with a crushed and bleeding heart,
And spurned of man, he goes to die!
For God hath marked each sorrowing day,
And numbered every bitter tear,
And heaven’s long years of bliss shall pay
For all his children suffer here.”
Bryant

The longest way must have its close⁠—the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning. An eternal, inexorable lapse of moments is ever hurrying the day of the evil to an eternal night, and the night of the just to an eternal day. We have walked with our humble friend thus far in the valley of slavery; first through flowery fields of ease and indulgence, then through heartbreaking separations from all that man holds dear. Again, we have waited with him in a sunny island, where generous hands concealed his chains with flowers; and, lastly, we have followed him when the last ray of earthly hope went out in night, and seen how, in the blackness of earthly darkness, the firmament of the unseen has blazed with stars of new and significant lustre.

The morning-star now stands over the tops of the mountains, and gales and breezes, not of earth, show that the gates of day are unclosing.

The escape of Cassy and Emmeline irritated the before surly temper of Legree to the last degree; and his fury, as was to be expected, fell upon the defenseless head of Tom. When he hurriedly announced the tidings among his hands, there was a sudden light in Tom’s eye, a sudden upraising of his hands, that did not escape him. He saw that he did not join the muster of the pursuers. He thought of forcing him to do it; but, having had, of old, experience of his inflexibility when commanded to take part in any deed of inhumanity, he would not, in his hurry, stop to enter into any conflict with him.

Tom, therefore, remained behind, with a few who had learned of him to pray, and offered up prayers for the escape of the fugitives.

When Legree returned, baffled and disappointed, all the long-working hatred of his soul towards his slave began to gather in a deadly and desperate form. Had not this man braved him⁠—steadily, powerfully, resistlessly⁠—ever since he bought him? Was there not a spirit in him which, silent as it was, burned on him like the fires of perdition?

“I hate him!” said Legree, that night, as he sat up in his bed; “I hate him! And isn’t he MINE? Can’t I do what I like with him? Who’s to hinder, I wonder?” And Legree clenched his fist, and shook it, as if he had something in his hands that he could rend in pieces.

But, then, Tom was a faithful, valuable servant; and, although Legree hated him the more for that, yet the consideration was still somewhat of a restraint to him.

The next morning, he determined to say nothing, as yet; to assemble a party, from some neighboring plantations, with dogs and guns; to surround the swamp, and go about the hunt systematically. If it succeeded, well and good; if not, he would summon Tom before him, and⁠—his teeth clenched and his blood boiled⁠—then he would break the fellow down, or⁠—there was a dire inward whisper, to which his soul assented.

Ye say that the interest of the master is a sufficient safeguard for the slave. In the fury of man’s mad will, he will wittingly, and with open eye, sell his own soul to the devil to gain his ends; and will he be more careful of his neighbor’s body?

“Well,” said Cassy, the next day, from the garret, as she reconnoitred through the knothole, “the hunt’s going to begin again, today!”

Three or four mounted horsemen were curvetting about, on the space in front of the house; and one or two leashes of strange dogs were struggling with the negroes who held them, baying and barking at each other.

The men are, two of them, overseers of plantations in the vicinity; and others were some of Legree’s associates at the tavern-bar of a neighboring city, who had come for the interest of the sport. A more hard-favored set, perhaps, could not be imagined. Legree was serving brandy, profusely, round among them, as also among the negroes, who had been detailed from the various plantations for this service; for it was an object to make every service of this kind, among the negroes, as much of a holiday as possible.

Cassy placed her ear at the knothole; and, as the morning air blew directly towards the house, she could overhear a good deal of the conversation. A grave sneer overcast the dark, severe gravity of her face, as she listened, and heard them divide out the ground, discuss the rival merits of the dogs, give orders about firing, and the treatment of each, in case of capture.

Cassy drew back; and, clasping her hands, looked upward, and said, “O, great Almighty God! we are all sinners; but what have we done, more than all the rest of the world, that we should be treated so?”

There was a terrible earnestness in her face and voice, as she spoke.

“If it wasn’t for you, child,” she said, looking at Emmeline, “I’d go out to them; and I’d thank any one of them that would shoot me down; for what use will freedom be to me? Can it give me back my children, or make me what I used to be?”

Emmeline, in her childlike simplicity, was half afraid of the dark moods of Cassy. She looked perplexed, but made no answer. She only took her hand, with a gentle, caressing movement.

“Don’t!” said Cassy, trying to draw it away; “you’ll get me to loving you; and I never mean to love anything, again!”

“Poor Cassy!” said Emmeline, “don’t feel so! If the Lord gives us liberty, perhaps he’ll give you back your daughter; at any rate, I’ll be like a daughter to you. I know I’ll never see my poor old mother again! I shall love you, Cassy, whether you love me or not!”

The gentle, childlike spirit conquered. Cassy sat down by her, put her arm round her neck, stroked her soft, brown hair; and Emmeline then wondered at the beauty of her magnificent eyes, now soft with tears.

“O, Em!” said Cassy, “I’ve hungered for my children, and thirsted for them, and my eyes fail with longing for them! Here! here!” she said, striking her breast, “it’s all desolate, all empty! If God would give me back my children, then I could pray.”

“You must trust him, Cassy,” said Emmeline; “he is our Father!”

“His wrath is upon us,” said Cassy; “he has turned away in anger.”

“No, Cassy! He will be good to us! Let us hope in Him,” said Emmeline⁠—“I always have had hope.”

* * * * *

The hunt was long, animated, and thorough, but unsuccessful; and, with grave, ironic exultation, Cassy looked down on Legree, as, weary and dispirited, he alighted from his horse.

“Now, Quimbo,” said Legree, as he stretched himself down in the sitting-room, “you jest go and walk that Tom up here, right away! The old cuss is at the bottom of this yer whole matter; and I’ll have it out of his old black hide, or I’ll know the reason why!”

Sambo and Quimbo, both, though hating each other, were joined in one mind by a no less cordial hatred of Tom. Legree had told them, at first, that he had bought him for a general overseer, in his absence; and this had begun an ill will, on their part, which had increased, in their debased and servile natures, as they saw him becoming obnoxious to their master’s displeasure. Quimbo, therefore, departed, with a will, to execute his orders.

Tom heard the message with a forewarning heart; for he knew all the plan of the fugitives’ escape, and the place of their present concealment;⁠—he knew the deadly character of the man he had to deal with, and his despotic power. But he felt strong in God to meet death, rather than betray the helpless.

He sat his basket down by the row, and, looking up, said, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit! Thou hast redeemed me, oh Lord God of truth!” and then quietly yielded himself to the rough, brutal grasp with which Quimbo seized him.

“Ay, ay!” said the giant, as he dragged him along; “ye’ll cotch it, now! I’ll boun’ Mas’r’s back’s up high! No sneaking out, now! Tell ye, ye’ll get it, and no mistake! See how ye’ll look, now, helpin’ Mas’r’s niggers to run away! See what ye’ll get!”

The savage words none of them reached that ear!⁠—a higher voice there was saying, “Fear not them that kill the body, and, after that, have no more that they can do.” Nerve and bone of that poor man’s body vibrated to those words, as if touched by the finger of God; and he felt the strength of a thousand souls in one. As he passed along, the trees and bushes, the huts of his servitude, the whole scene of his degradation, seemed to whirl by him as the landscape by the rushing ear. His soul throbbed⁠—his home was in sight⁠—and the hour of release seemed at hand.

“Well, Tom!” said Legree, walking up, and seizing him grimly by the collar of his coat, and speaking through his teeth, in a paroxysm of determined rage, “do you know I’ve made up my mind to KILL you?”

“It’s very likely, Mas’r,” said Tom, calmly.

“I have,” said Legree, with a grim, terrible calmness, “done⁠—just⁠—that⁠—thing, Tom, unless you’ll tell me what you know about these yer gals!”

Tom stood silent.

“D’ye hear?” said Legree, stamping, with a roar like that of an incensed lion. “Speak!”

I han’t got nothing to tell, Mas’r,” said Tom, with a slow, firm, deliberate utterance.

“Do you dare to tell me, ye old black Christian, ye don’t know?” said Legree.

Tom was silent.

“Speak!” thundered Legree, striking him furiously. “Do you know anything?”

“I know, Mas’r; but I can’t tell anything. I can die!

Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said, in a terrible voice, “Hark’e, Tom!⁠—ye think, ’cause I’ve let you off before, I don’t mean what I say; but, this time, I’ve made up my mind, and counted the cost. You’ve always stood it out again’ me: now, I’ll conquer ye, or kill ye!⁠—one or t’ other. I’ll count every drop of blood there is in you, and take ’em, one by one, till ye give up!”

Tom looked up to his master, and answered, “Mas’r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I’d give ye my heart’s blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I’d give ’em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas’r! don’t bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than ’t will me! Do the worst you can, my troubles’ll be over soon; but, if ye don’t repent, yours won’t never end!”

Like a strange snatch of heavenly music, heard in the lull of a tempest, this burst of feeling made a moment’s blank pause. Legree stood aghast, and looked at Tom; and there was such a silence, that the tick of the old clock could be heard, measuring, with silent touch, the last moments of mercy and probation to that hardened heart.

It was but a moment. There was one hesitating pause⁠—one irresolute, relenting thrill⁠—and the spirit of evil came back, with sevenfold vehemence; and Legree, foaming with rage, smote his victim to the ground.

* * * * *

Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart. What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear. What brother-man and brother-Christian must suffer, cannot be told us, even in our secret chamber, it so harrows the soul! And yet, oh my country! these things are done under the shadow of thy laws! O, Christ! thy church sees them, almost in silence!

But, of old, there was One whose suffering changed an instrument of torture, degradation and shame, into a symbol of glory, honor, and immortal life; and, where His spirit is, neither degrading stripes, nor blood, nor insults, can make the Christian’s last struggle less than glorious.

Was he alone, that long night, whose brave, loving spirit was bearing up, in that old shed, against buffeting and brutal stripes?

Nay! There stood by him ONE⁠—seen by him alone⁠—“like unto the Son of God.”

The tempter stood by him, too⁠—blinded by furious, despotic will⁠—every moment pressing him to shun that agony by the betrayal of the innocent. But the brave, true heart was firm on the Eternal Rock. Like his Master, he knew that, if he saved others, himself he could not save; nor could utmost extremity wring from him words, save of prayers and holy trust.

“He’s most gone, Mas’r,” said Sambo, touched, in spite of himself, by the patience of his victim.

“Pay away, till he gives up! Give it to him!⁠—give it to him!” shouted Legree. “I’ll take every drop of blood he has, unless he confesses!”

Tom opened his eyes, and looked upon his master. “Ye poor miserable critter!” he said, “there ain’t no more ye can do! I forgive ye, with all my soul!” and he fainted entirely away.

“I b’lieve, my soul, he’s done for, finally,” said Legree, stepping forward, to look at him. “Yes, he is! Well, his mouth’s shut up, at last⁠—that’s one comfort!”

Yes, Legree; but who shall shut up that voice in thy soul? that soul, past repentance, past prayer, past hope, in whom the fire that never shall be quenched is already burning!

Yet Tom was not quite gone. His wondrous words and pious prayers had struck upon the hearts of the imbruted blacks, who had been the instruments of cruelty upon him; and, the instant Legree withdrew, they took him down, and, in their ignorance, sought to call him back to life⁠—as if that were any favor to him.

“Sartin, we’s been doin’ a drefful wicked thing!” said Sambo; “hopes Mas’r’ll have to ’count for it, and not we.”

They washed his wounds⁠—they provided a rude bed, of some refuse cotton, for him to lie down on; and one of them, stealing up to the house, begged a drink of brandy of Legree, pretending that he was tired, and wanted it for himself. He brought it back, and poured it down Tom’s throat.

“O, Tom!” said Quimbo, “we’s been awful wicked to ye!”

“I forgive ye, with all my heart!” said Tom, faintly.

“O, Tom! do tell us who is Jesus, anyhow?” said Sambo;⁠—“Jesus, that’s been a standin’ by you so, all this night!⁠—Who is he?”

The word roused the failing, fainting spirit. He poured forth a few energetic sentences of that wondrous One⁠—his life, his death, his everlasting presence, and power to save.

They wept⁠—both the two savage men.

“Why didn’t I never hear this before?” said Sambo; “but I do believe!⁠—I can’t help it! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!”

“Poor critters!” said Tom, “I’d be willing to bar all I have, if it’ll only bring ye to Christ! O, Lord! give me these two more souls, I pray!”

That prayer was answered!

CHAPTER XLI

The Young Master
Two days after, a young man drove a light wagon up through the avenue of China trees, and, throwing the reins hastily on the horse’s neck, sprang out and inquired for the owner of the place.

It was George Shelby; and, to show how he came to be there, we must go back in our story.

The letter of Miss Ophelia to Mrs. Shelby had, by some unfortunate accident, been detained, for a month or two, at some remote post-office, before it reached its destination; and, of course, before it was received, Tom was already lost to view among the distant swamps of the Red River.

Mrs. Shelby read the intelligence with the deepest concern; but any immediate action upon it was an impossibility. She was then in attendance on the sickbed of her husband, who lay delirious in the crisis of a fever. Master George Shelby, who, in the interval, had changed from a boy to a tall young man, was her constant and faithful assistant, and her only reliance in superintending his father’s affairs. Miss Ophelia had taken the precaution to send them the name of the lawyer who did business for the St. Clares; and the most that, in the emergency, could be done, was to address a letter of inquiry to him. The sudden death of Mr. Shelby, a few days after, brought, of course, an absorbing pressure of other interests, for a season.

Mr. Shelby showed his confidence in his wife’s ability, by appointing her sole executrix upon his estates; and thus immediately a large and complicated amount of business was brought upon her hands.

Mrs. Shelby, with characteristic energy, applied herself to the work of straightening the entangled web of affairs; and she and George were for some time occupied with collecting and examining accounts, selling property and settling debts; for Mrs. Shelby was determined that everything should be brought into tangible and recognizable shape, let the consequences to her prove what they might. In the meantime, they received a letter from the lawyer to whom Miss Ophelia had referred them, saying that he knew nothing of the matter; that the man was sold at a public auction, and that, beyond receiving the money, he knew nothing of the affair.

Neither George nor Mrs. Shelby could be easy at this result; and, accordingly, some six months after, the latter, having business for his mother, down the river, resolved to visit New Orleans, in person, and push his inquiries, in hopes of discovering Tom’s whereabouts, and restoring him.

After some months of unsuccessful search, by the merest accident, George fell in with a man, in New Orleans, who happened to be possessed of the desired information; and with his money in his pocket, our hero took steamboat for Red River, resolving to find out and repurchase his old friend.

He was soon introduced into the house, where he found Legree in the sitting-room.

Legree received the stranger with a kind of surly hospitality.

“I understand,” said the young man, “that you bought, in New Orleans, a boy, named Tom. He used to be on my father’s place, and I came to see if I couldn’t buy him back.”

Legree’s brow grew dark, and he broke out, passionately: “Yes, I did buy such a fellow⁠—and a h⁠—l of a bargain I had of it, too! The most rebellious, saucy, impudent dog! Set up my niggers to run away; got off two gals, worth eight hundred or a thousand apiece. He owned to that, and, when I bid him tell me where they was, he up and said he knew, but he wouldn’t tell; and stood to it, though I gave him the cussedest flogging I ever gave nigger yet. I b’lieve he’s trying to die; but I don’t know as he’ll make it out.”

“Where is he?” said George, impetuously. “Let me see him.” The cheeks of the young man were crimson, and his eyes flashed fire; but he prudently said nothing, as yet.

“He’s in dat ar shed,” said a little fellow, who stood holding George’s horse.

Legree kicked the boy, and swore at him; but George, without saying another word, turned and strode to the spot.

Tom had been lying two days since the fatal night, not suffering, for every nerve of suffering was blunted and destroyed. He lay, for the most part, in a quiet stupor; for the laws of a powerful and well-knit frame would not at once release the imprisoned spirit. By stealth, there had been there, in the darkness of the night, poor desolated creatures, who stole from their scanty hours’ rest, that they might repay to him some of those ministrations of love in which he had always been so abundant. Truly, those poor disciples had little to give⁠—only the cup of cold water; but it was given with full hearts.

Tears had fallen on that honest, insensible face⁠—tears of late repentance in the poor, ignorant heathen, whom his dying love and patience had awakened to repentance, and bitter prayers, breathed over him to a late-found Saviour, of whom they scarce knew more than the name, but whom the yearning ignorant heart of man never implores in vain.

Cassy, who had glided out of her place of concealment, and, by overhearing, learned the sacrifice that had been made for her and Emmeline, had been there, the night before, defying the danger of detection; and, moved by the last few words which the affectionate soul had yet strength to breathe, the long winter of despair, the ice of years, had given way, and the dark, despairing woman had wept and prayed.

When George entered the shed, he felt his head giddy and his heart sick.

“Is it possible⁠—is it possible?” said he, kneeling down by him. “Uncle Tom, my poor, poor old friend!”

Something in the voice penetrated to the ear of the dying. He moved his head gently, smiled, and said:

“Jesus can make a dying-bed
Feel soft as down pillows are.”

Tears which did honor to his manly heart fell from the young man’s eyes, as he bent over his poor friend.

“O, dear Uncle Tom! do wake⁠—do speak once more! Look up! Here’s Mas’r George⁠—your own little Mas’r George. Don’t you know me?”

“Mas’r George!” said Tom, opening his eyes, and speaking in a feeble voice; “Mas’r George!” He looked bewildered.

Slowly the idea seemed to fill his soul; and the vacant eye became fixed and brightened, the whole face lighted up, the hard hands clasped, and tears ran down the cheeks.

“Bless the Lord! it is⁠—it is⁠—it’s all I wanted! They haven’t forgot me. It warms my soul; it does my heart good! Now I shall die content! Bless the Lord, on my soul!”

“You shan’t die! you mustn’t die, nor think of it! I’ve come to buy you, and take you home,” said George, with impetuous vehemence.

“O, Mas’r George, ye’re too late. The Lord’s bought me, and is going to take me home⁠—and I long to go. Heaven is better than Kintuck.”

“O, don’t die! It’ll kill me!⁠—it’ll break my heart to think what you’ve suffered⁠—and lying in this old shed, here! Poor, poor fellow!”

“Don’t call me poor fellow!” said Tom, solemnly, “I have been poor fellow; but that’s all past and gone, now. I’m right in the door, going into glory! O, Mas’r George! Heaven has come! I’ve got the victory!⁠—the Lord Jesus has given it to me! Glory be to His name!”

George was awestruck at the force, the vehemence, the power, with which these broken sentences were uttered. He sat gazing in silence.

Tom grasped his hand, and continued⁠—“Ye mustn’t, now, tell Chloe, poor soul! how ye found me;⁠—’t would be so drefful to her. Only tell her ye found me going into glory; and that I couldn’t stay for no one. And tell her the Lord’s stood by me everywhere and al’ays, and made everything light and easy. And oh, the poor chil’en, and the baby;⁠—my old heart’s been most broke for ’em, time and agin! Tell ’em all to follow me⁠—follow me! Give my love to Mas’r, and dear good Missis, and everybody in the place! Ye don’t know! ’Pears like I loves ’em all! I loves every creature everywhar!⁠—it’s nothing but love! O, Mas’r George! what a thing ’tis to be a Christian!”

At this moment, Legree sauntered up to the door of the shed, looked in, with a dogged air of affected carelessness, and turned away.

“The old Satan!” said George, in his indignation. “It’s a comfort to think the devil will pay him for this, some of these days!”

“O, don’t!⁠—oh, ye mustn’t!” said Tom, grasping his hand; “he’s a poor mis’able critter! it’s awful to think on’t! Oh, if he only could repent, the Lord would forgive him now; but I’m ’feared he never will!”

“I hope he won’t!” said George; “I never want to see him in heaven!”

“Hush, Mas’r George!⁠—it worries me! Don’t feel so! He an’t done me no real harm⁠—only opened the gate of the kingdom for me; that’s all!”

At this moment, the sudden flush of strength which the joy of meeting his young master had infused into the dying man gave way. A sudden sinking fell upon him; he closed his eyes; and that mysterious and sublime change passed over his face, that told the approach of other worlds.

He began to draw his breath with long, deep inspirations; and his broad chest rose and fell, heavily. The expression of his face was that of a conqueror.

“Who⁠—who⁠—who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” he said, in a voice that contended with mortal weakness; and, with a smile, he fell asleep.

George sat fixed with solemn awe. It seemed to him that the place was holy; and, as he closed the lifeless eyes, and rose up from the dead, only one thought possessed him⁠—that expressed by his simple old friend⁠—“What a thing it is to be a Christian!”

He turned: Legree was standing, sullenly, behind him.

Something in that dying scene had checked the natural fierceness of youthful passion. The presence of the man was simply loathsome to George; and he felt only an impulse to get away from him, with as few words as possible.

Fixing his keen dark eyes on Legree, he simply said, pointing to the dead, “You have got all you ever can of him. What shall I pay you for the body? I will take it away, and bury it decently.”

“I don’t sell dead niggers,” said Legree, doggedly. “You are welcome to bury him where and when you like.”

“Boys,” said George, in an authoritative tone, to two or three negroes, who were looking at the body, “help me lift him up, and carry him to my wagon; and get me a spade.”

One of them ran for a spade; the other two assisted George to carry the body to the wagon.

George neither spoke to nor looked at Legree, who did not countermand his orders, but stood, whistling, with an air of forced unconcern. He sulkily followed them to where the wagon stood at the door.

George spread his cloak in the wagon, and had the body carefully disposed of in it⁠—moving the seat, so as to give it room. Then he turned, fixed his eyes on Legree, and said, with forced composure:

“I have not, as yet, said to you what I think of this most atrocious affair;⁠—this is not the time and place. But, sir, this innocent blood shall have justice. I will proclaim this murder. I will go to the very first magistrate, and expose you.”

“Do!” said Legree, snapping his fingers, scornfully. “I’d like to see you doing it. Where you going to get witnesses?⁠—how you going to prove it?⁠—Come, now!”

George saw, at once, the force of this defiance. There was not a white person on the place; and, in all southern courts, the testimony of colored blood is nothing. He felt, at that moment, as if he could have rent the heavens with his heart’s indignant cry for justice; but in vain.

“After all, what a fuss, for a dead nigger!” said Legree.

The word was as a spark to a powder magazine. Prudence was never a cardinal virtue of the Kentucky boy. George turned, and, with one indignant blow, knocked Legree flat upon his face; and, as he stood over him, blazing with wrath and defiance, he would have formed no bad personification of his great namesake triumphing over the dragon.

Some men, however, are decidedly bettered by being knocked down. If a man lays them fairly flat in the dust, they seem immediately to conceive a respect for him; and Legree was one of this sort. As he rose, therefore, and brushed the dust from his clothes, he eyed the slowly-retreating wagon with some evident consideration; nor did he open his mouth till it was out of sight.

Beyond the boundaries of the plantation, George had noticed a dry, sandy knoll, shaded by a few trees; there they made the grave.

“Shall we take off the cloak, Mas’r?” said the negroes, when the grave was ready.

“No, no⁠—bury it with him! It’s all I can give you, now, poor Tom, and you shall have it.”

They laid him in; and the men shovelled away, silently. They banked it up, and laid green turf over it.

“You may go, boys,” said George, slipping a quarter into the hand of each. They lingered about, however.

“If young Mas’r would please buy us⁠—” said one.

“We’d serve him so faithful!” said the other.

“Hard times here, Mas’r!” said the first. “Do, Mas’r, buy us, please!”

“I can’t!⁠—I can’t!” said George, with difficulty, motioning them off; “it’s impossible!”

The poor fellows looked dejected, and walked off in silence.

“Witness, eternal God!” said George, kneeling on the grave of his poor friend; “oh, witness, that, from this hour, I will do what one man can to drive out this curse of slavery from my land!”

There is no monument to mark the last resting-place of our friend. He needs none! His Lord knows where he lies, and will raise him up, immortal, to appear with him when he shall appear in his glory.

Pity him not! Such a life and death is not for pity! Not in the riches of omnipotence is the chief glory of God; but in self-denying, suffering love! And blessed are the men whom he calls to fellowship with him, bearing their cross after him with patience. Of such it is written, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

CHAPTER XLII

An Authentic Ghost Story
For some remarkable reason, ghostly legends were uncommonly rife, about this time, among the servants on Legree’s place.

It was whisperingly asserted that footsteps, in the dead of night, had been heard descending the garret stairs, and patrolling the house. In vain the doors of the upper entry had been locked; the ghost either carried a duplicate key in its pocket, or availed itself of a ghost’s immemorial privilege of coming through the keyhole, and promenaded as before, with a freedom that was alarming.

Authorities were somewhat divided, as to the outward form of the spirit, owing to a custom quite prevalent among negroes⁠—and, for aught we know, among whites, too⁠—of invariably shutting the eyes, and covering up heads under blankets, petticoats, or whatever else might come in use for a shelter, on these occasions. Of course, as everybody knows, when the bodily eyes are thus out of the lists, the spiritual eyes are uncommonly vivacious and perspicuous; and, therefore, there were abundance of full-length portraits of the ghost, abundantly sworn and testified to, which, as is often the case with portraits, agreed with each other in no particular, except the common family peculiarity of the ghost tribe⁠—the wearing of a white sheet. The poor souls were not versed in ancient history, and did not know that Shakespeare had authenticated this costume, by telling how

“The sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the streets of Rome.”

And, therefore, their all hitting upon this is a striking fact in pneumatology, which we recommend to the attention of spiritual media generally.

Be it as it may, we have private reasons for knowing that a tall figure in a white sheet did walk, at the most approved ghostly hours, around the Legree premises⁠—pass out the doors, glide about the house⁠—disappear at intervals, and, reappearing, pass up the silent stairway, into that fatal garret; and that, in the morning, the entry doors were all found shut and locked as firm as ever.

Legree could not help overhearing this whispering; and it was all the more exciting to him, from the pains that were taken to conceal it from him. He drank more brandy than usual; held up his head briskly, and swore louder than ever in the daytime; but he had bad dreams, and the visions of his head on his bed were anything but agreeable. The night after Tom’s body had been carried away, he rode to the next town for a carouse, and had a high one. Got home late and tired; locked his door, took out the key, and went to bed.

After all, let a man take what pains he may to hush it down, a human soul is an awful ghostly, unquiet possession, for a bad man to have. Who knows the metes and bounds of it? Who knows all its awful perhapses⁠—those shudderings and tremblings, which it can no more live down than it can outlive its own eternity! What a fool is he who locks his door to keep out spirits, who has in his own bosom a spirit he dares not meet alone⁠—whose voice, smothered far down, and piled over with mountains of earthliness, is yet like the forewarning trumpet of doom!

But Legree locked his door and set a chair against it; he set a night-lamp at the head of his bed; and put his pistols there. He examined the catches and fastenings of the windows, and then swore he “didn’t care for the devil and all his angels,” and went to sleep.

Well, he slept, for he was tired⁠—slept soundly. But, finally, there came over his sleep a shadow, a horror, an apprehension of something dreadful hanging over him. It was his mother’s shroud, he thought; but Cassy had it, holding it up, and showing it to him. He heard a confused noise of screams and groanings; and, with it all, he knew he was asleep, and he struggled to wake himself. He was half awake. He was sure something was coming into his room. He knew the door was opening, but he could not stir hand or foot. At last he turned, with a start; the door was open, and he saw a hand putting out his light.

It was a cloudy, misty moonlight, and there he saw it!⁠—something white, gliding in! He heard the still rustle of its ghostly garments. It stood still by his bed;⁠—a cold hand touched his; a voice said, three times, in a low, fearful whisper, “Come! come! come!” And, while he lay sweating with terror, he knew not when or how, the thing was gone. He sprang out of bed, and pulled at the door. It was shut and locked, and the man fell down in a swoon.

After this, Legree became a harder drinker than ever before. He no longer drank cautiously, prudently, but imprudently and recklessly.

There were reports around the country, soon after that he was sick and dying. Excess had brought on that frightful disease that seems to throw the lurid shadows of a coming retribution back into the present life. None could bear the horrors of that sick room, when he raved and screamed, and spoke of sights which almost stopped the blood of those who heard him; and, at his dying bed, stood a stern, white, inexorable figure, saying, “Come! come! come!”

By a singular coincidence, on the very night that this vision appeared to Legree, the house-door was found open in the morning, and some of the negroes had seen two white figures gliding down the avenue towards the highroad.

It was near sunrise when Cassy and Emmeline paused, for a moment, in a little knot of trees near the town.

Cassy was dressed after the manner of the Creole Spanish ladies⁠—wholly in black. A small black bonnet on her head, covered by a veil thick with embroidery, concealed her face. It had been agreed that, in their escape, she was to personate the character of a Creole lady, and Emmeline that of her servant.

Brought up, from early life, in connection with the highest society, the language, movements and air of Cassy, were all in agreement with this idea; and she had still enough remaining with her, of a once splendid wardrobe, and sets of jewels, to enable her to personate the thing to advantage.

She stopped in the outskirts of the town, where she had noticed trunks for sale, and purchased a handsome one. This she requested the man to send along with her. And, accordingly, thus escorted by a boy wheeling her trunk, and Emmeline behind her, carrying her carpetbag and sundry bundles, she made her appearance at the small tavern, like a lady of consideration.

The first person that struck her, after her arrival, was George Shelby, who was staying there, awaiting the next boat.

Cassy had remarked the young man from her loophole in the garret, and seen him bear away the body of Tom, and observed with secret exultation, his rencontre with Legree. Subsequently she had gathered, from the conversations she had overheard among the negroes, as she glided about in her ghostly disguise, after nightfall, who he was, and in what relation he stood to Tom. She, therefore, felt an immediate accession of confidence, when she found that he was, like herself, awaiting the next boat.

Cassy’s air and manner, address, and evident command of money, prevented any rising disposition to suspicion in the hotel. People never inquire too closely into those who are fair on the main point, of paying well⁠—a thing which Cassy had foreseen when she provided herself with money.

In the edge of the evening, a boat was heard coming along, and George Shelby handed Cassy aboard, with the politeness which comes naturally to every Kentuckian, and exerted himself to provide her with a good stateroom.

Cassy kept her room and bed, on pretext of illness, during the whole time they were on Red River; and was waited on, with obsequious devotion, by her attendant.

When they arrived at the Mississippi river, George, having learned that the course of the strange lady was upward, like his own, proposed to take a stateroom for her on the same boat with himself⁠—good-naturedly compassionating her feeble health, and desirous to do what he could to assist her.

Behold, therefore, the whole party safely transferred to the good steamer Cincinnati, and sweeping up the river under a powerful head of steam.

Cassy’s health was much better. She sat upon the guards, came to the table, and was remarked upon in the boat as a lady that must have been very handsome.

From the moment that George got the first glimpse of her face, he was troubled with one of those fleeting and indefinite likenesses, which almost everybody can remember, and has been, at times, perplexed with. He could not keep himself from looking at her, and watching her perpetually. At table, or sitting at her stateroom door, still she would encounter the young man’s eyes fixed on her, and politely withdrawn, when she showed, by her countenance, that she was sensible to the observation.

Cassy became uneasy. She began to think that he suspected something; and finally resolved to throw herself entirely on his generosity, and entrusted him with her whole history.

George was heartily disposed to sympathize with anyone who had escaped from Legree’s plantation⁠—a place that he could not remember or speak of with patience⁠—and, with the courageous disregard of consequences which is characteristic of his age and state, he assured her that he would do all in his power to protect and bring them through.

The next stateroom to Cassy’s was occupied by a French lady, named De Thoux, who was accompanied by a fine little daughter, a child of some twelve summers.

This lady, having gathered, from George’s conversation, that he was from Kentucky, seemed evidently disposed to cultivate his acquaintance; in which design she was seconded by the graces of her little girl, who was about as pretty a plaything as ever diverted the weariness of a fortnight’s trip on a steamboat.

George’s chair was often placed at her stateroom door; and Cassy, as she sat upon the guards, could hear their conversation.

Madame de Thoux was very minute in her inquiries as to Kentucky, where she said she had resided in a former period of her life. George discovered, to his surprise, that her former residence must have been in his own vicinity; and her inquiries showed a knowledge of people and things in his vicinity, that was perfectly surprising to him.

“Do you know,” said Madame de Thoux to him, one day, “of any man, in your neighborhood, of the name of Harris?”

“There is an old fellow, of that name, lives not far from my father’s place,” said George. “We never have had much intercourse with him, though.”

“He is a large slave-owner, I believe,” said Madame de Thoux, with a manner which seemed to betray more interest than she was exactly willing to show.

“He is,” said George, looking rather surprised at her manner.

“Did you ever know of his having⁠—perhaps, you may have heard of his having a mulatto boy, named George?”

“O, certainly⁠—George Harris⁠—I know him well; he married a servant of my mother’s, but has escaped, now, to Canada.”

“He has?” said Madame de Thoux, quickly. “Thank God!”

George looked a surprised inquiry, but said nothing.

Madame de Thoux leaned her head on her hand, and burst into tears.

“He is my brother,” she said.

“Madame!” said George, with a strong accent of surprise.

“Yes,” said Madame de Thoux, lifting her head, proudly, and wiping her tears, “Mr. Shelby, George Harris is my brother!”

“I am perfectly astonished,” said George, pushing back his chair a pace or two, and looking at Madame de Thoux.

“I was sold to the South when he was a boy,” said she. “I was bought by a good and generous man. He took me with him to the West Indies, set me free, and married me. It is but lately that he died; and I was going up to Kentucky, to see if I could find and redeem my brother.”

“I heard him speak of a sister Emily, that was sold South,” said George.

“Yes, indeed! I am the one,” said Madame de Thoux;⁠—“tell me what sort of a⁠—”

“A very fine young man,” said George, “notwithstanding the curse of slavery that lay on him. He sustained a first rate character, both for intelligence and principle. I know, you see,” he said; “because he married in our family.”

“What sort of a girl?” said Madame de Thoux, eagerly.

“A treasure,” said George; “a beautiful, intelligent, amiable girl. Very pious. My mother had brought her up, and trained her as carefully, almost, as a daughter. She could read and write, embroider and sew, beautifully; and was a beautiful singer.”

“Was she born in your house?” said Madame de Thoux.

“No. Father bought her once, in one of his trips to New Orleans, and brought her up as a present to mother. She was about eight or nine years old, then. Father would never tell mother what he gave for her; but, the other day, in looking over his old papers, we came across the bill of sale. He paid an extravagant sum for her, to be sure. I suppose, on account of her extraordinary beauty.”

George sat with his back to Cassy, and did not see the absorbed expression of her countenance, as he was giving these details.

At this point in the story, she touched his arm, and, with a face perfectly white with interest, said, “Do you know the names of the people he bought her of?”

“A man of the name of Simmons, I think, was the principal in the transaction. At least, I think that was the name on the bill of sale.”

“O, my God!” said Cassy, and fell insensible on the floor of the cabin.

George was wide awake now, and so was Madame de Thoux. Though neither of them could conjecture what was the cause of Cassy’s fainting, still they made all the tumult which is proper in such cases;⁠—George upsetting a wash-pitcher, and breaking two tumblers, in the warmth of his humanity; and various ladies in the cabin, hearing that somebody had fainted, crowded the stateroom door, and kept out all the air they possibly could, so that, on the whole, everything was done that could be expected.

Poor Cassy! when she recovered, turned her face to the wall, and wept and sobbed like a child⁠—perhaps, mother, you can tell what she was thinking of! Perhaps you cannot⁠—but she felt as sure, in that hour, that God had had mercy on her, and that she should see her daughter⁠—as she did, months afterwards⁠—when⁠—but we anticipate.

CHAPTER XLIII

Results
The rest of our story is soon told. George Shelby, interested, as any other young man might be, by the romance of the incident, no less than by feelings of humanity, was at the pains to send to Cassy the bill of sale of Eliza; whose date and name all corresponded with her own knowledge of facts, and felt no doubt upon her mind as to the identity of her child. It remained now only for her to trace out the path of the fugitives.

Madame de Thoux and she, thus drawn together by the singular coincidence of their fortunes, proceeded immediately to Canada, and began a tour of inquiry among the stations, where the numerous fugitives from slavery are located. At Amherstberg they found the missionary with whom George and Eliza had taken shelter, on their first arrival in Canada; and through him were enabled to trace the family to Montreal.

George and Eliza had now been five years free. George had found constant occupation in the shop of a worthy machinist, where he had been earning a competent support for his family, which, in the meantime, had been increased by the addition of another daughter.

Little Harry⁠—a fine bright boy⁠—had been put to a good school, and was making rapid proficiency in knowledge.

The worthy pastor of the station, in Amherstberg, where George had first landed, was so much interested in the statements of Madame de Thoux and Cassy, that he yielded to the solicitations of the former, to accompany them to Montreal, in their search⁠—she bearing all the expense of the expedition.

The scene now changes to a small, neat tenement, in the outskirts of Montreal; the time, evening. A cheerful fire blazes on the hearth; a tea-table, covered with a snowy cloth, stands prepared for the evening meal. In one corner of the room was a table covered with a green cloth, where was an open writing-desk, pens, paper, and over it a shelf of well-selected books.

This was George’s study. The same zeal for self-improvement, which led him to steal the much coveted arts of reading and writing, amid all the toil and discouragements of his early life, still led him to devote all his leisure time to self-cultivation.

At this present time, he is seated at the table, making notes from a volume of the family library he has been reading.

“Come, George,” says Eliza, “you’ve been gone all day. Do put down that book, and let’s talk, while I’m getting tea⁠—do.”

And little Eliza seconds the effort, by toddling up to her father, and trying to pull the book out of his hand, and install herself on his knee as a substitute.

“O, you little witch!” says George, yielding, as, in such circumstances, man always must.

“That’s right,” says Eliza, as she begins to cut a loaf of bread. A little older she looks; her form a little fuller; her air more matronly than of yore; but evidently contented and happy as woman need be.

“Harry, my boy, how did you come on in that sum, today?” says George, as he laid his hand on his son’s head.

Harry has lost his long curls; but he can never lose those eyes and eyelashes, and that fine, bold brow, that flushes with triumph, as he answers, “I did it, every bit of it, myself, father; and nobody helped me!”

“That’s right,” says his father; “depend on yourself, my son. You have a better chance than ever your poor father had.”

At this moment, there is a rap at the door; and Eliza goes and opens it. The delighted⁠—“Why! this you?”⁠—calls up her husband; and the good pastor of Amherstberg is welcomed. There are two more women with him, and Eliza asks them to sit down.

Now, if the truth must be told, the honest pastor had arranged a little programme, according to which this affair was to develop itself; and, on the way up, all had very cautiously and prudently exhorted each other not to let things out, except according to previous arrangement.

What was the good man’s consternation, therefore, just as he had motioned to the ladies to be seated, and was taking out his pocket-handkerchief to wipe his mouth, so as to proceed to his introductory speech in good order, when Madame de Thoux upset the whole plan, by throwing her arms around George’s neck, and letting all out at once, by saying, “O, George! don’t you know me? I’m your sister Emily.”

Cassy had seated herself more composedly, and would have carried on her part very well, had not little Eliza suddenly appeared before her in exact shape and form, every outline and curl, just as her daughter was when she saw her last. The little thing peered up in her face; and Cassy caught her up in her arms, pressed her to her bosom, saying, what, at the moment she really believed, “Darling, I’m your mother!”

In fact, it was a troublesome matter to do up exactly in proper order; but the good pastor, at last, succeeded in getting everybody quiet, and delivering the speech with which he had intended to open the exercises; and in which, at last, he succeeded so well, that his whole audience were sobbing about him in a manner that ought to satisfy any orator, ancient or modern.

They knelt together, and the good man prayed⁠—for there are some feelings so agitated and tumultuous, that they can find rest only by being poured into the bosom of Almighty love⁠—and then, rising up, the newfound family embraced each other, with a holy trust in Him, who from such peril and dangers, and by such unknown ways, had brought them together.

The notebook of a missionary, among the Canadian fugitives, contains truth stranger than fiction. How can it be otherwise, when a system prevails which whirls families and scatters their members, as the wind whirls and scatters the leaves of autumn? These shores of refuge, like the eternal shore, often unite again, in glad communion, hearts that for long years have mourned each other as lost. And affecting beyond expression is the earnestness with which every new arrival among them is met, if, perchance, it may bring tidings of mother, sister, child or wife, still lost to view in the shadows of slavery.

Deeds of heroism are wrought here more than those of romance, when defying torture, and braving death itself, the fugitive voluntarily threads his way back to the terrors and perils of that dark land, that he may bring out his sister, or mother, or wife.

One young man, of whom a missionary has told us, twice recaptured, and suffering shameful stripes for his heroism, had escaped again; and, in a letter which we heard read, tells his friends that he is going back a third time, that he may, at last, bring away his sister. My good sir, is this man a hero, or a criminal? Would not you do as much for your sister? And can you blame him?

But, to return to our friends, whom we left wiping their eyes, and recovering themselves from too great and sudden a joy. They are now seated around the social board, and are getting decidedly companionable; only that Cassy, who keeps little Eliza on her lap, occasionally squeezes the little thing, in a manner that rather astonishes her, and obstinately refuses to have her mouth stuffed with cake to the extent the little one desires⁠—alleging, what the child rather wonders at, that she has got something better than cake, and doesn’t want it.

And, indeed, in two or three days, such a change has passed over Cassy, that our readers would scarcely know her. The despairing, haggard expression of her face had given way to one of gentle trust. She seemed to sink, at once, into the bosom of the family, and take the little ones into her heart, as something for which it long had waited. Indeed, her love seemed to flow more naturally to the little Eliza than to her own daughter; for she was the exact image and body of the child whom she had lost. The little one was a flowery bond between mother and daughter, through whom grew up acquaintanceship and affection. Eliza’s steady, consistent piety, regulated by the constant reading of the sacred word, made her a proper guide for the shattered and wearied mind of her mother. Cassy yielded at once, and with her whole soul, to every good influence, and became a devout and tender Christian.

After a day or two, Madame de Thoux told her brother more particularly of her affairs. The death of her husband had left her an ample fortune, which she generously offered to share with the family. When she asked George what way she could best apply it for him, he answered, “Give me an education, Emily; that has always been my heart’s desire. Then, I can do all the rest.”

On mature deliberation, it was decided that the whole family should go, for some years, to France; whither they sailed, carrying Emmeline with them.

The good looks of the latter won the affection of the first mate of the vessel; and, shortly after entering the port, she became his wife.

George remained four years at a French university, and, applying himself with an unintermitted zeal, obtained a very thorough education.

Political troubles in France, at last, led the family again to seek an asylum in this country.

George’s feelings and views, as an educated man, may be best expressed in a letter to one of his friends.

“I feel somewhat at a loss, as to my future course. True, as you have said to me, I might mingle in the circles of the whites, in this country, my shade of color is so slight, and that of my wife and family scarce perceptible. Well, perhaps, on sufferance, I might. But, to tell you the truth, I have no wish to.
“My sympathies are not for my father’s race, but for my mother’s. To him I was no more than a fine dog or horse: to my poor heartbroken mother I was a child; and, though I never saw her, after the cruel sale that separated us, till she died, yet I know she always loved me dearly. I know it by my own heart. When I think of all she suffered, of my own early sufferings, of the distresses and struggles of my heroic wife, of my sister, sold in the New Orleans slave-market⁠—though I hope to have no unchristian sentiments, yet I may be excused for saying, I have no wish to pass for an American, or to identify myself with them.
“It is with the oppressed, enslaved African race that I cast in my lot; and, if I wished anything, I would wish myself two shades darker, rather than one lighter.
“The desire and yearning of my soul is for an African nationality. I want a people that shall have a tangible, separate existence of its own; and where am I to look for it? Not in Haiti; for in Haiti they had nothing to start with. A stream cannot rise above its fountain. The race that formed the character of the Haytiens was a worn-out, effeminate one; and, of course, the subject race will be centuries in rising to anything.
“Where, then, shall I look? On the shores of Africa I see a republic⁠—a republic formed of picked men, who, by energy and self-educating force, have, in many cases, individually, raised themselves above a condition of slavery. Having gone through a preparatory stage of feebleness, this republic has, at last, become an acknowledged nation on the face of the earth⁠—acknowledged by both France and England. There it is my wish to go, and find myself a people.
“I am aware, now, that I shall have you all against me; but, before you strike, hear me. During my stay in France, I have followed up, with intense interest, the history of my people in America. I have noted the struggle between abolitionist and colonizationist, and have received some impressions, as a distant spectator, which could never have occurred to me as a participator.
“I grant that this Liberia may have subserved all sorts of purposes, by being played off, in the hands of our oppressors, against us. Doubtless the scheme may have been used, in unjustifiable ways, as a means of retarding our emancipation. But the question to me is, Is there not a God above all man’s schemes? May He not have overruled their designs, and founded for us a nation by them?
“In these days, a nation is born in a day. A nation starts, now, with all the great problems of republican life and civilization wrought out to its hand;⁠—it has not to discover, but only to apply. Let us, then, all take hold together, with all our might, and see what we can do with this new enterprise, and the whole splendid continent of Africa opens before us and our children. Our nation shall roll the tide of civilization and Christianity along its shores, and plant there mighty republics, that, growing with the rapidity of tropical vegetation, shall be for all coming ages.
“Do you say that I am deserting my enslaved brethren? I think not. If I forget them one hour, one moment of my life, so may God forget me! But, what can I do for them, here? Can I break their chains? No, not as an individual; but, let me go and form part of a nation, which shall have a voice in the councils of nations, and then we can speak. A nation has a right to argue, remonstrate, implore, and present the cause of its race⁠—which an individual has not.
“If Europe ever becomes a grand council of free nations⁠—as I trust in God it will⁠—if, there, serfdom, and all unjust and oppressive social inequalities, are done away; and if they, as France and England have done, acknowledge our position⁠—then, in the great congress of nations, we will make our appeal, and present the cause of our enslaved and suffering race; and it cannot be that free, enlightened America will not then desire to wipe from her escutcheon that bar sinister which disgraces her among nations, and is as truly a curse to her as to the enslaved.
“But, you will tell me, our race have equal rights to mingle in the American republic as the Irishman, the German, the Swede. Granted, they have. We ought to be free to meet and mingle⁠—to rise by our individual worth, without any consideration of caste or color; and they who deny us this right are false to their own professed principles of human equality. We ought, in particular, to be allowed here. We have more than the rights of common men;⁠—we have the claim of an injured race for reparation. But, then, I do not want it; I want a country, a nation, of my own. I think that the African race has peculiarities, yet to be unfolded in the light of civilization and Christianity, which, if not the same with those of the Anglo-Saxon, may prove to be, morally, of even a higher type.
“To the Anglo-Saxon race has been entrusted the destinies of the world, during its pioneer period of struggle and conflict. To that mission its stern, inflexible, energetic elements, were well adapted; but, as a Christian, I look for another era to arise. On its borders I trust we stand; and the throes that now convulse the nations are, to my hope, but the birth-pangs of an hour of universal peace and brotherhood.
“I trust that the development of Africa is to be essentially a Christian one. If not a dominant and commanding race, they are, at least, an affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one. Having been called in the furnace of injustice and oppression, they have need to bind closer to their hearts that sublime doctrine of love and forgiveness, through which alone they are to conquer, which it is to be their mission to spread over the continent of Africa.
“In myself, I confess, I am feeble for this⁠—full half the blood in my veins is the hot and hasty Saxon; but I have an eloquent preacher of the Gospel ever by my side, in the person of my beautiful wife. When I wander, her gentler spirit ever restores me, and keeps before my eyes the Christian calling and mission of our race. As a Christian patriot, as a teacher of Christianity, I go to my country⁠—my chosen, my glorious Africa!⁠—and to her, in my heart, I sometimes apply those splendid words of prophecy: ‘Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee; I will make thee an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations!’
“You will call me an enthusiast: you will tell me that I have not well considered what I am undertaking. But I have considered, and counted the cost. I go to Liberia, not as an Elysium of romance, but as to a field of work. I expect to work with both hands⁠—to work hard; to work against all sorts of difficulties and discouragements; and to work till I die. This is what I go for; and in this I am quite sure I shall not be disappointed.
“Whatever you may think of my determination, do not divorce me from your confidence; and think that, in whatever I do, I act with a heart wholly given to my people.
“George Harris.”

George, with his wife, children, sister and mother, embarked for Africa, some few weeks after. If we are not mistaken, the world will yet hear from him there.

Of our other characters we have nothing very particular to write, except a word relating to Miss Ophelia and Topsy, and a farewell chapter, which we shall dedicate to George Shelby.

Miss Ophelia took Topsy home to Vermont with her, much to the surprise of the grave deliberative body whom a New Englander recognizes under the term “Our folks.” “Our folks,” at first, thought it an odd and unnecessary addition to their well-trained domestic establishment; but, so thoroughly efficient was Miss Ophelia in her conscientious endeavor to do her duty by her èlév, that the child rapidly grew in grace and in favor with the family and neighborhood. At the age of womanhood, she was, by her own request, baptized, and became a member of the Christian church in the place; and showed so much intelligence, activity and zeal, and desire to do good in the world, that she was at last recommended, and approved as a missionary to one of the stations in Africa; and we have heard that the same activity and ingenuity which, when a child, made her so multiform and restless in her developments, is now employed, in a safer and wholesomer manner, in teaching the children of her own country.

P.S.⁠—It will be a satisfaction to some mother, also, to state, that some inquiries, which were set on foot by Madame de Thoux, have resulted recently in the discovery of Cassy’s son. Being a young man of energy, he had escaped, some years before his mother, and been received and educated by friends of the oppressed in the north. He will soon follow his family to Africa.

CHAPTER XLIV

The Liberator
George Shelby had written to his mother merely a line, stating the day that she might expect him home. Of the death scene of his old friend he had not the heart to write. He had tried several times, and only succeeded in half choking himself; and invariably finished by tearing up the paper, wiping his eyes, and rushing somewhere to get quiet.

There was a pleased bustle all through the Shelby mansion, that day, in expectation of the arrival of young Mas’r George.

Mrs. Shelby was seated in her comfortable parlor, where a cheerful hickory fire was dispelling the chill of the late autumn evening. A supper-table, glittering with plate and cut glass, was set out, on whose arrangements our former friend, old Chloe, was presiding.

Arrayed in a new calico dress, with clean, white apron, and high, well-starched turban, her black polished face glowing with satisfaction, she lingered, with needless punctiliousness, around the arrangements of the table, merely as an excuse for talking a little to her mistress.

“Laws, now! won’t it look natural to him?” she said. “Thar⁠—I set his plate just whar he likes it round by the fire. Mas’r George allers wants de warm seat. O, go way!⁠—why didn’t Sally get out de best teapot⁠—de little new one, Mas’r George got for Missis, Christmas? I’ll have it out! And Missis has heard from Mas’r George?” she said, inquiringly.

“Yes, Chloe; but only a line, just to say he would be home tonight, if he could⁠—that’s all.”

“Didn’t say nothin’ ’bout my old man, s’pose?” said Chloe, still fidgeting with the teacups.

“No, he didn’t. He did not speak of anything, Chloe. He said he would tell all, when he got home.”

“Jes like Mas’r George⁠—he’s allers so ferce for tellin’ everything hisself. I allers minded dat ar in Mas’r George. Don’t see, for my part, how white people gen’lly can bar to hev to write things much as they do, writin’ ’s such slow, oneasy kind o’ work.”

Mrs. Shelby smiled.

“I’m a thinkin’ my old man won’t know de boys and de baby. Lor’! she’s de biggest gal, now⁠—good she is, too, and peart, Polly is. She’s out to the house, now, watchin’ de hoecake. I’s got jist de very pattern my old man liked so much, a bakin’. Jist sich as I gin him the mornin’ he was took off. Lord bless us! how I felt, dat ar morning!”

Mrs. Shelby sighed, and felt a heavy weight on her heart, at this allusion. She had felt uneasy, ever since she received her son’s letter, lest something should prove to be hidden behind the veil of silence which he had drawn.

“Missis has got dem bills?” said Chloe, anxiously.

“Yes, Chloe.”

“ ’Cause I wants to show my old man dem very bills de perfectioner gave me. ‘And,’ say he, ‘Chloe, I wish you’d stay longer.’ ‘Thank you, Mas’r,’ says I, ‘I would, only my old man’s coming home, and Missis⁠—she can’t do without me no longer.’ There’s jist what I telled him. Berry nice man, dat Mas’r Jones was.”

Chloe had pertinaciously insisted that the very bills in which her wages had been paid should be preserved, to show her husband, in memorial of her capability. And Mrs. Shelby had readily consented to humor her in the request.

“He won’t know Polly⁠—my old man won’t. Laws, it’s five year since they tuck him! She was a baby den⁠—couldn’t but jist stand. Remember how tickled he used to be, cause she would keep a fallin’ over, when she sot out to walk. Laws a me!”

The rattling of wheels now was heard.

“Mas’r George!” said Aunt Chloe, starting to the window.

Mrs. Shelby ran to the entry door, and was folded in the arms of her son. Aunt Chloe stood anxiously straining her eyes out into the darkness.

“O, poor Aunt Chloe!” said George, stopping compassionately, and taking her hard, black hand between both his; “I’d have given all my fortune to have brought him with me, but he’s gone to a better country.”

There was a passionate exclamation from Mrs. Shelby, but Aunt Chloe said nothing.

The party entered the supper-room. The money, of which Chloe was so proud, was still lying on the table.

“Thar,” said she, gathering it up, and holding it, with a trembling hand, to her mistress, “don’t never want to see nor hear on’t again. Jist as I knew’t would be⁠—sold, and murdered on dem ar’ old plantations!”

Chloe turned, and was walking proudly out of the room. Mrs. Shelby followed her softly, and took one of her hands, drew her down into a chair, and sat down by her.

“My poor, good Chloe!” said she.

Chloe leaned her head on her mistress’ shoulder, and sobbed out, “O Missis! ’scuse me, my heart’s broke⁠—dat’s all!”

“I know it is,” said Mrs. Shelby, as her tears fell fast; “and I cannot heal it, but Jesus can. He healeth the broken hearted, and bindeth up their wounds.”

There was a silence for some time, and all wept together. At last, George, sitting down beside the mourner, took her hand, and, with simple pathos, repeated the triumphant scene of her husband’s death, and his last messages of love.

About a month after this, one morning, all the servants of the Shelby estate were convened together in the great hall that ran through the house, to hear a few words from their young master.

To the surprise of all, he appeared among them with a bundle of papers in his hand, containing a certificate of freedom to everyone on the place, which he read successively, and presented, amid the sobs and tears and shouts of all present.

Many, however, pressed around him, earnestly begging him not to send them away; and, with anxious faces, tendering back their free papers.

“We don’t want to be no freer than we are. We’s allers had all we wanted. We don’t want to leave de ole place, and Mas’r and Missis, and de rest!”

“My good friends,” said George, as soon as he could get a silence, “there’ll be no need for you to leave me. The place wants as many hands to work it as it did before. We need the same about the house that we did before. But, you are now free men and free women. I shall pay you wages for your work, such as we shall agree on. The advantage is, that in case of my getting in debt, or dying⁠—things that might happen⁠—you cannot now be taken up and sold. I expect to carry on the estate, and to teach you what, perhaps, it will take you some time to learn⁠—how to use the rights I give you as free men and women. I expect you to be good, and willing to learn; and I trust in God that I shall be faithful, and willing to teach. And now, my friends, look up, and thank God for the blessing of freedom.”

An aged, partriarchal negro, who had grown gray and blind on the estate, now rose, and, lifting his trembling hand said, “Let us give thanks unto the Lord!” As all kneeled by one consent, a more touching and hearty Te Deum never ascended to heaven, though borne on the peal of organ, bell and cannon, than came from that honest old heart.

On rising, another struck up a Methodist hymn, of which the burden was:

“The year of Jubilee is come⁠—
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.”

“One thing more,” said George, as he stopped the congratulations of the throng; “you all remember our good old Uncle Tom?”

George here gave a short narration of the scene of his death, and of his loving farewell to all on the place, and added:

“It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it was possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be honest and faithful and Christian as he was.”

CHAPTER XLV

Concluding Remarks
The writer has often been inquired of, by correspondents from different parts of the country, whether this narrative is a true one; and to these inquiries she will give one general answer.

The separate incidents that compose the narrative are, to a very great extent, authentic, occurring, many of them, either under her own observation, or that of her personal friends. She or her friends have observed characters the counterpart of almost all that are here introduced; and many of the sayings are word for word as heard herself, or reported to her.

The personal appearance of Eliza, the character ascribed to her, are sketches drawn from life. The incorruptible fidelity, piety and honesty, of Uncle Tom, had more than one development, to her personal knowledge. Some of the most deeply tragic and romantic, some of the most terrible incidents, have also their parallels in reality. The incident of the mother’s crossing the Ohio river on the ice is a well-known fact. The story of “old Prue,” in the second volume, was an incident that fell under the personal observation of a brother of the writer, then collecting-clerk to a large mercantile house, in New Orleans. From the same source was derived the character of the planter Legree. Of him her brother thus wrote, speaking of visiting his plantation, on a collecting tour; “He actually made me feel of his fist, which was like a blacksmith’s hammer, or a nodule of iron, telling me that it was ‘calloused with knocking down niggers.’ When I left the plantation, I drew a long breath, and felt as if I had escaped from an ogre’s den.”

That the tragical fate of Tom, also, has too many times had its parallel, there are living witnesses, all over our land, to testify. Let it be remembered that in all southern states it is a principle of jurisprudence that no person of colored lineage can testify in a suit against a white, and it will be easy to see that such a case may occur, wherever there is a man whose passions outweigh his interests, and a slave who has manhood or principle enough to resist his will. There is, actually, nothing to protect the slave’s life, but the character of the master. Facts too shocking to be contemplated occasionally force their way to the public ear, and the comment that one often hears made on them is more shocking than the thing itself. It is said, “Very likely such cases may now and then occur, but they are no sample of general practice.” If the laws of New England were so arranged that a master could now and then torture an apprentice to death, would it be received with equal composure? Would it be said, “These cases are rare, and no samples of general practice”? This injustice is an inherent one in the slave system⁠—it cannot exist without it.

The public and shameless sale of beautiful mulatto and quadroon girls has acquired a notoriety, from the incidents following the capture of the Pearl. We extract the following from the speech of Hon. Horace Mann, one of the legal counsel for the defendants in that case. He says: “In that company of seventy-six persons, who attempted, in 1848, to escape from the District of Columbia in the schooner Pearl, and whose officers I assisted in defending, there were several young and healthy girls, who had those peculiar attractions of form and feature which connoisseurs prize so highly. Elizabeth Russel was one of them. She immediately fell into the slave-trader’s fangs, and was doomed for the New Orleans market. The hearts of those that saw her were touched with pity for her fate. They offered eighteen hundred dollars to redeem her; and some there were who offered to give, that would not have much left after the gift; but the fiend of a slave-trader was inexorable. She was despatched to New Orleans; but, when about half way there, God had mercy on her, and smote her with death. There were two girls named Edmundson in the same company. When about to be sent to the same market, an older sister went to the shambles, to plead with the wretch who owned them, for the love of God, to spare his victims. He bantered her, telling what fine dresses and fine furniture they would have. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘that may do very well in this life, but what will become of them in the next?’ They too were sent to New Orleans; but were afterwards redeemed, at an enormous ransom, and brought back.” Is it not plain, from this, that the histories of Emmeline and Cassy may have many counterparts?

Justice, too, obliges the author to state that the fairness of mind and generosity attributed to St. Clare are not without a parallel, as the following anecdote will show. A few years since, a young southern gentleman was in Cincinnati, with a favorite servant, who had been his personal attendant from a boy. The young man took advantage of this opportunity to secure his own freedom, and fled to the protection of a Quaker, who was quite noted in affairs of this kind. The owner was exceedingly indignant. He had always treated the slave with such indulgence, and his confidence in his affection was such, that he believed he must have been practised upon to induce him to revolt from him. He visited the Quaker, in high anger; but, being possessed of uncommon candor and fairness, was soon quieted by his arguments and representations. It was a side of the subject which he never had heard⁠—never had thought on; and he immediately told the Quaker that, if his slave would, to his own face, say that it was his desire to be free, he would liberate him. An interview was forthwith procured, and Nathan was asked by his young master whether he had ever had any reason to complain of his treatment, in any respect.

“No, Mas’r,” said Nathan; “you’ve always been good to me.”

“Well, then, why do you want to leave me?”

“Mas’r may die, and then who get me?⁠—I’d rather be a free man.”

After some deliberation, the young master replied, “Nathan, in your place, I think I should feel very much so, myself. You are free.”

He immediately made him out free papers; deposited a sum of money in the hands of the Quaker, to be judiciously used in assisting him to start in life, and left a very sensible and kind letter of advice to the young man. That letter was for some time in the writer’s hands.

The author hopes she has done justice to that nobility, generosity, and humanity, which in many cases characterize individuals at the South. Such instances save us from utter despair of our kind. But, she asks any person, who knows the world, are such characters common, anywhere?

For many years of her life, the author avoided all reading upon or allusion to the subject of slavery, considering it as too painful to be inquired into, and one which advancing light and civilization would certainly live down. But, since the legislative act of 1850, when she heard, with perfect surprise and consternation, Christian and humane people actually recommending the remanding escaped fugitives into slavery, as a duty binding on good citizens⁠—when she heard, on all hands, from kind, compassionate and estimable people, in the free states of the North, deliberations and discussions as to what Christian duty could be on this head⁠—she could only think, These men and Christians cannot know what slavery is; if they did, such a question could never be open for discussion. And from this arose a desire to exhibit it in a living dramatic reality. She has endeavored to show it fairly, in its best and its worst phases. In its best aspect, she has, perhaps, been successful; but, oh! who shall say what yet remains untold in that valley and shadow of death, that lies the other side?

To you, generous, noble-minded men and women, of the South⁠—you, whose virtue, and magnanimity and purity of character, are the greater for the severer trial it has encountered⁠—to you is her appeal. Have you not, in your own secret souls, in your own private conversings, felt that there are woes and evils, in this accursed system, far beyond what are here shadowed, or can be shadowed? Can it be otherwise? Is man ever a creature to be trusted with wholly irresponsible power? And does not the slave system, by denying the slave all legal right of testimony, make every individual owner an irresponsible despot? Can anybody fail to make the inference what the practical result will be? If there is, as we admit, a public sentiment among you, men of honor, justice and humanity, is there not also another kind of public sentiment among the ruffian, the brutal and debased? And cannot the ruffian, the brutal, the debased, by slave law, own just as many slaves as the best and purest? Are the honorable, the just, the high-minded and compassionate, the majority anywhere in this world?

The slave-trade is now, by American law, considered as piracy. But a slave-trade, as systematic as ever was carried on on the coast of Africa, is an inevitable attendant and result of American slavery. And its heartbreak and its horrors, can they be told?

The writer has given only a faint shadow, a dim picture, of the anguish and despair that are, at this very moment, riving thousands of hearts, shattering thousands of families, and driving a helpless and sensitive race to frenzy and despair. There are those living who know the mothers whom this accursed traffic has driven to the murder of their children; and themselves seeking in death a shelter from woes more dreaded than death. Nothing of tragedy can be written, can be spoken, can be conceived, that equals the frightful reality of scenes daily and hourly acting on our shores, beneath the shadow of American law, and the shadow of the cross of Christ.

And now, men and women of America, is this a thing to be trifled with, apologized for, and passed over in silence? Farmers of Massachusetts, of New Hampshire, of Vermont, of Connecticut, who read this book by the blaze of your winter-evening fire⁠—strong-hearted, generous sailors and shipowners of Maine⁠—is this a thing for you to countenance and encourage? Brave and generous men of New York, farmers of rich and joyous Ohio, and ye of the wide prairie states⁠—answer, is this a thing for you to protect and countenance? And you, mothers of America⁠—you who have learned, by the cradles of your own children, to love and feel for all mankind⁠—by the sacred love you bear your child; by your joy in his beautiful, spotless infancy; by the motherly pity and tenderness with which you guide his growing years; by the anxieties of his education; by the prayers you breathe for his soul’s eternal good;⁠—I beseech you, pity the mother who has all your affections, and not one legal right to protect, guide, or educate, the child of her bosom! By the sick hour of your child; by those dying eyes, which you can never forget; by those last cries, that wrung your heart when you could neither help nor save; by the desolation of that empty cradle, that silent nursery⁠—I beseech you, pity those mothers that are constantly made childless by the American slave-trade! And say, mothers of America, is this a thing to be defended, sympathized with, passed over in silence?

Do you say that the people of the free state have nothing to do with it, and can do nothing? Would to God this were true! But it is not true. The people of the free states have defended, encouraged, and participated; and are more guilty for it, before God, than the South, in that they have not the apology of education or custom.

If the mothers of the free states had all felt as they should, in times past, the sons of the free states would not have been the holders, and, proverbially, the hardest masters of slaves; the sons of the free states would not have connived at the extension of slavery, in our national body; the sons of the free states would not, as they do, trade the souls and bodies of men as an equivalent to money, in their mercantile dealings. There are multitudes of slaves temporarily owned, and sold again, by merchants in northern cities; and shall the whole guilt or obloquy of slavery fall only on the South?

Northern men, northern mothers, northern Christians, have something more to do than denounce their brethren at the South; they have to look to the evil among themselves.

But, what can any individual do? Of that, every individual can judge. There is one thing that every individual can do⁠—they can see to it that they feel right. An atmosphere of sympathetic influence encircles every human being; and the man or woman who feels strongly, healthily and justly, on the great interests of humanity, is a constant benefactor to the human race. See, then, to your sympathies in this matter! Are they in harmony with the sympathies of Christ? or are they swayed and perverted by the sophistries of worldly policy?

Christian men and women of the North! still further⁠—you have another power; you can pray! Do you believe in prayer? or has it become an indistinct apostolic tradition? You pray for the heathen abroad; pray also for the heathen at home. And pray for those distressed Christians whose whole chance of religious improvement is an accident of trade and sale; from whom any adherence to the morals of Christianity is, in many cases, an impossibility, unless they have given them, from above, the courage and grace of martyrdom.

But, still more. On the shores of our free states are emerging the poor, shattered, broken remnants of families⁠—men and women, escaped, by miraculous providences from the surges of slavery⁠—feeble in knowledge, and, in many cases, infirm in moral constitution, from a system which confounds and confuses every principle of Christianity and morality. They come to seek a refuge among you; they come to seek education, knowledge, Christianity.

What do you owe to these poor unfortunates, oh Christians? Does not every American Christian owe to the African race some effort at reparation for the wrongs that the American nation has brought upon them? Shall the doors of churches and schoolhouses be shut upon them? Shall states arise and shake them out? Shall the church of Christ hear in silence the taunt that is thrown at them, and shrink away from the helpless hand that they stretch out; and, by her silence, encourage the cruelty that would chase them from our borders? If it must be so, it will be a mournful spectacle. If it must be so, the country will have reason to tremble, when it remembers that the fate of nations is in the hands of One who is very pitiful, and of tender compassion.

Do you say, “We don’t want them here; let them go to Africa”?

That the providence of God has provided a refuge in Africa, is, indeed, a great and noticeable fact; but that is no reason why the church of Christ should throw off that responsibility to this outcast race which her profession demands of her.

To fill up Liberia with an ignorant, inexperienced, half-barbarized race, just escaped from the chains of slavery, would be only to prolong, for ages, the period of struggle and conflict which attends the inception of new enterprises. Let the church of the north receive these poor sufferers in the spirit of Christ; receive them to the educating advantages of Christian republican society and schools, until they have attained to somewhat of a moral and intellectual maturity, and then assist them in their passage to those shores, where they may put in practice the lessons they have learned in America.

There is a body of men at the north, comparatively small, who have been doing this; and, as the result, this country has already seen examples of men, formerly slaves, who have rapidly acquired property, reputation, and education. Talent has been developed, which, considering the circumstances, is certainly remarkable; and, for moral traits of honesty, kindness, tenderness of feeling⁠—for heroic efforts and self-denials, endured for the ransom of brethren and friends yet in slavery⁠—they have been remarkable to a degree that, considering the influence under which they were born, is surprising.

The writer has lived, for many years, on the frontier-line of slave states, and has had great opportunities of observation among those who formerly were slaves. They have been in her family as servants; and, in default of any other school to receive them, she has, in many cases, had them instructed in a family school, with her own children. She has also the testimony of missionaries, among the fugitives in Canada, in coincidence with her own experience; and her deductions, with regard to the capabilities of the race, are encouraging in the highest degree.

The first desire of the emancipated slave, generally, is for education. There is nothing that they are not willing to give or do to have their children instructed, and, so far as the writer has observed herself, or taken the testimony of teachers among them, they are remarkably intelligent and quick to learn. The results of schools, founded for them by benevolent individuals in Cincinnati, fully establish this.

The author gives the following statement of facts, on the authority of Professor C. E. Stowe, then of Lane Seminary, Ohio, with regard to emancipated slaves, now resident in Cincinnati; given to show the capability of the race, even without any very particular assistance or encouragement.

The initial letters alone are given. They are all residents of Cincinnati.

“B⁠⸺. Furniture maker; twenty years in the city; worth ten thousand dollars, all his own earnings; a Baptist.

“C⁠⸺. Full black; stolen from Africa; sold in New Orleans; been free fifteen years; paid for himself six hundred dollars; a farmer; owns several farms in Indiana; Presbyterian; probably worth fifteen or twenty thousand dollars, all earned by himself.

“K⁠⸺. Full black; dealer in real estate; worth thirty thousand dollars; about forty years old; free six years; paid eighteen hundred dollars for his family; member of the Baptist church; received a legacy from his master, which he has taken good care of, and increased.

“G⁠⸺. Full black; coal dealer; about thirty years old; worth eighteen thousand dollars; paid for himself twice, being once defrauded to the amount of sixteen hundred dollars; made all his money by his own efforts⁠—much of it while a slave, hiring his time of his master, and doing business for himself; a fine, gentlemanly fellow.

“W⁠⸺. Three-fourths black; barber and waiter; from Kentucky; nineteen years free; paid for self and family over three thousand dollars; deacon in the Baptist church.

“G. D⁠⸺. Three-fourths black; white-washer; from Kentucky; nine years free; paid fifteen hundred dollars for self and family; recently died, aged sixty; worth six thousand dollars.”

Professor Stowe says, “With all these, except G⁠⸺, I have been, for some years, personally acquainted, and make my statements from my own knowledge.”

The writer well remembers an aged colored woman, who was employed as a washerwoman in her father’s family. The daughter of this woman married a slave. She was a remarkably active and capable young woman, and, by her industry and thrift, and the most persevering self-denial, raised nine hundred dollars for her husband’s freedom, which she paid, as she raised it, into the hands of his master. She yet wanted a hundred dollars of the price, when he died. She never recovered any of the money.

These are but few facts, among multitudes which might be adduced, to show the self-denial, energy, patience, and honesty, which the slave has exhibited in a state of freedom.

And let it be remembered that these individuals have thus bravely succeeded in conquering for themselves comparative wealth and social position, in the face of every disadvantage and discouragement. The colored man, by the law of Ohio, cannot be a voter, and, till within a few years, was even denied the right of testimony in legal suits with the white. Nor are these instances confined to the State of Ohio. In all states of the Union we see men, but yesterday burst from the shackles of slavery, who, by a self-educating force, which cannot be too much admired, have risen to highly respectable stations in society. Pennington, among clergymen, Douglas and Ward, among editors, are well known instances.

If this persecuted race, with every discouragement and disadvantage, have done thus much, how much more they might do if the Christian church would act towards them in the spirit of her Lord!

This is an age of the world when nations are trembling and convulsed. A mighty influence is abroad, surging and heaving the world, as with an earthquake. And is America safe? Every nation that carries in its bosom great and unredressed injustice has in it the elements of this last convulsion.

For what is this mighty influence thus rousing in all nations and languages those groanings that cannot be uttered, for man’s freedom and equality?

O, Church of Christ, read the signs of the times! Is not this power the spirit of Him whose kingdom is yet to come, and whose will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

But who may abide the day of his appearing? “for that day shall burn as an oven: and he shall appear as a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger in his right: and he shall break in pieces the oppressor.”

Are not these dread words for a nation bearing in her bosom so mighty an injustice? Christians! every time that you pray that the kingdom of Christ may come, can you forget that prophecy associates, in dread fellowship, the day of vengeance with the year of his redeemed?

A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved⁠—but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!

END