In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of
Late in the afternoon of a
chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting
alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining
parlor, in the town of P——, in Kentucky. There were
no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs
closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some
subject with great earnestness.
For convenience sake, we have
said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the
parties, however, when critically examined, did not
seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species.
He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse,
commonplace features, and that swaggering air of
pretension which marks a low man who is trying to
elbow his way upward in the world. He was much
over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue
neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and
arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with
the general air of the man. His hands, large and
coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he
wore a heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of
seals of portentous size, and a great variety of
colors, attached to it,—which, in the ardor of
conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and
jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation
was in free and easy defiance of Murray's Grammar,*
and was garnished at convenient intervals with
various profane expressions, which not even the
desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us
* English Grammar (1795), by Lindley Murray (1745-1826), the
most authoritative American grammarian of his day.
His companion, Mr. Shelby, had
the appearance of a gentleman; and the arrangements
of the house, and the general air of the
housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent
circumstances. As we before stated, the two were in
the midst of an earnest conversation.
"That is the way I should
arrange the matter," said Mr. Shelby.
"I can't make trade that way—I
positively can't, Mr. Shelby," said the other,
holding up a glass of wine between his eye and the
"Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is
an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum
anywhere,—steady, honest, capable, manages my whole
farm like a clock."
"You mean honest, as niggers
go," said Haley, helping himself to a glass of
"No; I mean, really, Tom is a
good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got
religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I
believe he really did get it. I've trusted
him, since then, with everything I have,—money,
house, horses,—and let him come and go round the
country; and I always found him true and square in
"Some folks don't believe there
is pious niggers Shelby," said Haley, with a candid
flourish of his hand, "but I do. I had a
fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to
Orleans—'t was as good as a meetin, now, really, to
hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and
quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I
bought him cheap of a man that was 'bliged to sell
out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I
consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger,
when it's the genuine article, and no mistake."
"Well, Tom's got the real
article, if ever a fellow had," rejoined the other.
"Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone,
to do business for me, and bring home five hundred
dollars. 'Tom,' says I to him, 'I trust you, because
I think you're a Christian—I know you wouldn't
cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he
would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him—Tom,
why don't you make tracks for Canada?' 'Ah, master
trusted me, and I couldn't,'—they told me about it.
I am sorry to part with Tom, I must say. You ought
to let him cover the whole balance of the debt; and
you would, Haley, if you had any conscience."
"Well, I've got just as much
conscience as any man in business can afford to
keep,—just a little, you know, to swear by, as 't
were," said the trader, jocularly; "and, then, I'm
ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends;
but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a
fellow—a leetle too hard." The trader sighed
contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.
"Well, then, Haley, how will you
trade?" said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of
"Well, haven't you a boy or gal
that you could throw in with Tom?"
"Hum!—none that I could well
spare; to tell the truth, it's only hard necessity
makes me willing to sell at all. I don't like
parting with any of my hands, that's a fact."
Here the door opened, and a
small quadroon boy, between four and five years of
age, entered the room. There was something in his
appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His
black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls
about his round, dimpled face, while a pair of large
dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out
from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered
curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet
and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted,
set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his
beauty; and a certain comic air of assurance,
blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been
not unused to being petted and noticed by his
"Hulloa, Jim Crow!" said Mr.
Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins
towards him, "pick that up, now!"
The child scampered, with all
his little strength, after the prize, while his
"Come here, Jim Crow," said he.
The child came up, and the master patted the curly
head, and chucked him under the chin.
"Now, Jim, show this gentleman
how you can dance and sing." The boy commenced one
of those wild, grotesque songs common among the
negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his
singing with many comic evolutions of the hands,
feet, and whole body, all in perfect time to the
"Bravo!" said Haley, throwing
him a quarter of an orange.
"Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle
Cudjoe, when he has the rheumatism," said his
Instantly the flexible limbs of
the child assumed the appearance of deformity and
distortion, as, with his back humped up, and his
master's stick in his hand, he hobbled about the
room, his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker,
and spitting from right to left, in imitation of an
Both gentlemen laughed
"Now, Jim," said his master,
"show us how old Elder Robbins leads the psalm." The
boy drew his chubby face down to a formidable
length, and commenced toning a psalm tune through
his nose, with imperturbable gravity.
"Hurrah! bravo! what a young
'un!" said Haley; "that chap's a case, I'll promise.
Tell you what," said he, suddenly clapping his hand
on Mr. Shelby's shoulder, "fling in that chap, and
I'll settle the business—I will. Come, now, if that
ain't doing the thing up about the rightest!"
At this moment, the door was
pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman,
apparently about twenty-five, entered the room.
There needed only a glance from
the child to her, to identify her as its mother.
There was the same rich, full, dark eye, with its
long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair.
The brown of her complexion gave way on the cheek to
a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw the
gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and
undisguised admiration. Her dress was of the neatest
possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely
moulded shape;—a delicately formed hand and a trim
foot and ankle were items of appearance that did not
escape the quick eye of the trader, well used to run
up at a glance the points of a fine female article.
"Well, Eliza?" said her master,
as she stopped and looked hesitatingly at him.
"I was looking for Harry,
please, sir;" and the boy bounded toward her,
showing his spoils, which he had gathered in the
skirt of his robe.
"Well, take him away then," said
Mr. Shelby; and hastily she withdrew, carrying the
child on her arm.
"By Jupiter," said the trader,
turning to him in admiration, "there's an article,
now! You might make your fortune on that ar gal in
Orleans, any day. I've seen over a thousand, in my
day, paid down for gals not a bit handsomer."
"I don't want to make my fortune
on her," said Mr. Shelby, dryly; and, seeking to
turn the conversation, he uncorked a bottle of fresh
wine, and asked his companion's opinion of it.
"Capital, sir,—first chop!" said
the trader; then turning, and slapping his hand
familiarly on Shelby's shoulder, he added—
"Come, how will you trade about
the gal?—what shall I say for her—what'll you take?"
"Mr. Haley, she is not to be
sold," said Shelby. "My wife would not part with her
for her weight in gold."
"Ay, ay! women always say such
things, cause they ha'nt no sort of calculation.
Just show 'em how many watches, feathers, and
trinkets, one's weight in gold would buy, and that
alters the case, I reckon."
"I tell you, Haley, this must
not be spoken of; I say no, and I mean no," said
"Well, you'll let me have the
boy, though," said the trader; "you must own I've
come down pretty handsomely for him."
"What on earth can you want with
the child?" said Shelby.
"Why, I've got a friend that's
going into this yer branch of the business—wants to
buy up handsome boys to raise for the market. Fancy
articles entirely—sell for waiters, and so on, to
rich 'uns, that can pay for handsome 'uns. It sets
off one of yer great places—a real handsome boy to
open door, wait, and tend. They fetch a good sum;
and this little devil is such a comical, musical
concern, he's just the article!'
"I would rather not sell him,"
said Mr. Shelby, thoughtfully; "the fact is, sir,
I'm a humane man, and I hate to take the boy from
his mother, sir."
"O, you do?—La! yes—something of
that ar natur. I understand, perfectly. It is mighty
onpleasant getting on with women, sometimes, I
al'ays hates these yer screechin,' screamin' times.
They are mighty onpleasant; but, as I manages
business, I generally avoids 'em, sir. Now, what if
you get the girl off for a day, or a week, or so;
then the thing's done quietly,—all over before she
comes home. Your wife might get her some ear-rings,
or a new gown, or some such truck, to make up with
"I'm afraid not."
"Lor bless ye, yes! These
critters ain't like white folks, you know; they gets
over things, only manage right. Now, they say," said
Haley, assuming a candid and confidential air, "that
this kind o' trade is hardening to the feelings; but
I never found it so. Fact is, I never could do
things up the way some fellers manage the business.
I've seen 'em as would pull a woman's child out of
her arms, and set him up to sell, and she screechin'
like mad all the time;—very bad policy—damages the
article—makes 'em quite unfit for service sometimes.
I knew a real handsome gal once, in Orleans, as was
entirely ruined by this sort o' handling. The fellow
that was trading for her didn't want her baby; and
she was one of your real high sort, when her blood
was up. I tell you, she squeezed up her child in her
arms, and talked, and went on real awful. It kinder
makes my blood run cold to think of 't; and when
they carried off the child, and locked her up, she
jest went ravin' mad, and died in a week. Clear
waste, sir, of a thousand dollars, just for want of
management,—there's where 't is. It's always best to
do the humane thing, sir; that's been my
experience." And the trader leaned back in his
chair, and folded his arm, with an air of virtuous
decision, apparently considering himself a second
The subject appeared to interest
the gentleman deeply; for while Mr. Shelby was
thoughtfully peeling an orange, Haley broke out
afresh, with becoming diffidence, but as if actually
driven by the force of truth to say a few words
"It don't look well, now, for a
feller to be praisin' himself; but I say it jest
because it's the truth. I believe I'm reckoned to
bring in about the finest droves of niggers that is
brought in,—at least, I've been told so; if I have
once, I reckon I have a hundred times,—all in good
case,—fat and likely, and I lose as few as any man
in the business. And I lays it all to my management,
sir; and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great
pillar of my management."
Mr. Shelby did not know what to
say, and so he said, "Indeed!"
"Now, I've been laughed at for
my notions, sir, and I've been talked to. They an't
pop'lar, and they an't common; but I stuck to 'em,
sir; I've stuck to 'em, and realized well on 'em;
yes, sir, they have paid their passage, I may say,"
and the trader laughed at his joke.
There was something so piquant
and original in these elucidations of humanity, that
Mr. Shelby could not help laughing in company.
Perhaps you laugh too, dear reader; but you know
humanity comes out in a variety of strange forms
now-a-days, and there is no end to the odd things
that humane people will say and do.
Mr. Shelby's laugh encouraged
the trader to proceed.
"It's strange, now, but I never
could beat this into people's heads. Now, there was
Tom Loker, my old partner, down in Natchez; he was a
clever fellow, Tom was, only the very devil with
niggers,—on principle 't was, you see, for a better
hearted feller never broke bread; 't was his
system, sir. I used to talk to Tom. 'Why, Tom,'
I used to say, 'when your gals takes on and cry,
what's the use o' crackin on' em over the head, and
knockin' on 'em round? It's ridiculous,' says I,
'and don't do no sort o' good. Why, I don't see no
harm in their cryin',' says I; 'it's natur,' says I,
'and if natur can't blow off one way, it will
another. Besides, Tom,' says I, 'it jest spiles your
gals; they get sickly, and down in the mouth; and
sometimes they gets ugly,—particular yallow gals
do,—and it's the devil and all gettin' on 'em broke
in. Now,' says I, 'why can't you kinder coax 'em up,
and speak 'em fair? Depend on it, Tom, a little
humanity, thrown in along, goes a heap further than
all your jawin' and crackin'; and it pays better,'
says I, 'depend on 't.' But Tom couldn't get the
hang on 't; and he spiled so many for me, that I had
to break off with him, though he was a good-hearted
fellow, and as fair a business hand as is goin'."
"And do you find your ways of
managing do the business better than Tom's?" said
"Why, yes, sir, I may say so.
You see, when I any ways can, I takes a leetle care
about the onpleasant parts, like selling young uns
and that,—get the gals out of the way—out of sight,
out of mind, you know,—and when it's clean done, and
can't be helped, they naturally gets used to it.
'Tan't, you know, as if it was white folks, that's
brought up in the way of 'spectin' to keep their
children and wives, and all that. Niggers, you know,
that's fetched up properly, ha'n't no kind of
'spectations of no kind; so all these things comes
"I'm afraid mine are not
properly brought up, then," said Mr. Shelby.
"S'pose not; you Kentucky folks
spile your niggers. You mean well by 'em, but 'tan't
no real kindness, arter all. Now, a nigger, you see,
what's got to be hacked and tumbled round the world,
and sold to Tom, and Dick, and the Lord knows who,
'tan't no kindness to be givin' on him notions and
expectations, and bringin' on him up too well, for
the rough and tumble comes all the harder on him
arter. Now, I venture to say, your niggers would be
quite chop-fallen in a place where some of your
plantation niggers would be singing and whooping
like all possessed. Every man, you know, Mr. Shelby,
naturally thinks well of his own ways; and I think I
treat niggers just about as well as it's ever worth
while to treat 'em."
"It's a happy thing to be
satisfied," said Mr. Shelby, with a slight shrug,
and some perceptible feelings of a disagreeable
"Well," said Haley, after they
had both silently picked their nuts for a season,
"what do you say?"
"I'll think the matter over, and
talk with my wife," said Mr. Shelby. "Meantime,
Haley, if you want the matter carried on in the
quiet way you speak of, you'd best not let your
business in this neighborhood be known. It will get
out among my boys, and it will not be a particularly
quiet business getting away any of my fellows, if
they know it, I'll promise you."
"O! certainly, by all means,
mum! of course. But I'll tell you. I'm in a devil of
a hurry, and shall want to know, as soon as
possible, what I may depend on," said he, rising and
putting on his overcoat.
"Well, call up this evening,
between six and seven, and you shall have my
answer," said Mr. Shelby, and the trader bowed
himself out of the apartment.
"I'd like to have been able to
kick the fellow down the steps," said he to himself,
as he saw the door fairly closed, "with his impudent
assurance; but he knows how much he has me at
advantage. If anybody had ever said to me that I
should sell Tom down south to one of those rascally
traders, I should have said, 'Is thy servant a dog,
that he should do this thing?' And now it must come,
for aught I see. And Eliza's child, too! I know that
I shall have some fuss with wife about that; and,
for that matter, about Tom, too. So much for being
in debt,—heigho! The fellow sees his advantage, and
means to push it."
Perhaps the mildest form of the
system of slavery is to be seen in the State of
Kentucky. The general prevalence of agricultural
pursuits of a quiet and gradual nature, not
requiring those periodic seasons of hurry and
pressure that are called for in the business of more
southern districts, makes the task of the negro a
more healthful and reasonable one; while the master,
content with a more gradual style of acquisition,
has not those temptations to hardheartedness which
always overcome frail human nature when the prospect
of sudden and rapid gain is weighed in the balance,
with no heavier counterpoise than the interests of
the helpless and unprotected.
Whoever visits some estates
there, and witnesses the good-humored indulgence of
some masters and mistresses, and the affectionate
loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to dream
the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal
institution, and all that; but over and above the
scene there broods a portentous shadow—the shadow of
law. So long as the law considers all these
human beings, with beating hearts and living
affections, only as so many things belonging
to a master,—so long as the failure, or misfortune,
or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may
cause them any day to exchange a life of kind
protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery
and toil,—so long it is impossible to make anything
beautiful or desirable in the best regulated
administration of slavery.
Mr. Shelby was a fair average
kind of man, good-natured and kindly, and disposed
to easy indulgence of those around him, and there
had never been a lack of anything which might
contribute to the physical comfort of the negroes on
his estate. He had, however, speculated largely and
quite loosely; had involved himself deeply, and his
notes to a large amount had come into the hands of
Haley; and this small piece of information is the
key to the preceding conversation.
Now, it had so happened that, in
approaching the door, Eliza had caught enough of the
conversation to know that a trader was making offers
to her master for somebody.
She would gladly have stopped at
the door to listen, as she came out; but her
mistress just then calling, she was obliged to
Still she thought she heard the
trader make an offer for her boy;—could she be
mistaken? Her heart swelled and throbbed, and she
involuntarily strained him so tight that the little
fellow looked up into her face in astonishment.
"Eliza, girl, what ails you
today?" said her mistress, when Eliza had upset the
wash-pitcher, knocked down the workstand, and
finally was abstractedly offering her mistress a
long nightgown in place of the silk dress she had
ordered her to bring from the wardrobe.
Eliza started. "O, missis!" she
said, raising her eyes; then, bursting into tears,
she sat down in a chair, and began sobbing.
"Why, Eliza child, what ails
you?" said her mistress.
"O! missis, missis," said Eliza,
"there's been a trader talking with master in the
parlor! I heard him."
"Well, silly child, suppose
"O, missis, do you
suppose mas'r would sell my Harry?" And the poor
creature threw herself into a chair, and sobbed
"Sell him! No, you foolish girl!
You know your master never deals with those southern
traders, and never means to sell any of his
servants, as long as they behave well. Why, you
silly child, who do you think would want to buy your
Harry? Do you think all the world are set on him as
you are, you goosie? Come, cheer up, and hook my
dress. There now, put my back hair up in that pretty
braid you learnt the other day, and don't go
listening at doors any more."
"Well, but, missis, you
never would give your consent—to—to—"
"Nonsense, child! to be sure, I
shouldn't. What do you talk so for? I would as soon
have one of my own children sold. But really, Eliza,
you are getting altogether too proud of that little
fellow. A man can't put his nose into the door, but
you think he must be coming to buy him."
Reassured by her mistress'
confident tone, Eliza proceeded nimbly and adroitly
with her toilet, laughing at her own fears, as she
Mrs. Shelby was a woman of high
class, both intellectually and morally. To that
natural magnanimity and generosity of mind which one
often marks as characteristic of the women of
Kentucky, she added high moral and religious
sensibility and principle, carried out with great
energy and ability into practical results. Her
husband, who made no professions to any particular
religious character, nevertheless reverenced and
respected the consistency of hers, and stood,
perhaps, a little in awe of her opinion. Certain it
was that he gave her unlimited scope in all her
benevolent efforts for the comfort, instruction, and
improvement of her servants, though he never took
any decided part in them himself. In fact, if not
exactly a believer in the doctrine of the efficiency
of the extra good works of saints, he really seemed
somehow or other to fancy that his wife had piety
and benevolence enough for two—to indulge a shadowy
expectation of getting into heaven through her
superabundance of qualities to which he made no
The heaviest load on his mind,
after his conversation with the trader, lay in the
foreseen necessity of breaking to his wife the
arrangement contemplated,—meeting the importunities
and opposition which he knew he should have reason
Mrs. Shelby, being entirely
ignorant of her husband's embarrassments, and
knowing only the general kindliness of his temper,
had been quite sincere in the entire incredulity
with which she had met Eliza's suspicions. In fact,
she dismissed the matter from her mind, without a
second thought; and being occupied in preparations
for an evening visit, it passed out of her thoughts
Eliza had been brought up by her
mistress, from girlhood, as a petted and indulged
The traveller in the south must
often have remarked that peculiar air of refinement,
that softness of voice and manner, which seems in
many cases to be a particular gift to the quadroon
and mulatto women. These natural graces in the
quadroon are often united with beauty of the most
dazzling kind, and in almost every case with a
personal appearance prepossessing and agreeable.
Eliza, such as we have described her, is not a fancy
sketch, but taken from remembrance, as we saw her,
years ago, in Kentucky. Safe under the protecting
care of her mistress, Eliza had reached maturity
without those temptations which make beauty so fatal
an inheritance to a slave. She had been married to a
bright and talented young mulatto man, who was a
slave on a neighboring estate, and bore the name of
This young man had been hired
out by his master to work in a bagging factory,
where his adroitness and ingenuity caused him to be
considered the first hand in the place. He had
invented a machine for the cleaning of the hemp,
which, considering the education and circumstances
of the inventor, displayed quite as much mechanical
genius as Whitney's cotton-gin.*
* A machine of this description was really the invention of
a young colored man in Kentucky. [Mrs. Stowe's note.]
He was possessed of a handsome
person and pleasing manners, and was a general
favorite in the factory. Nevertheless, as this young
man was in the eye of the law not a man, but a
thing, all these superior qualifications were
subject to the control of a vulgar, narrow-minded,
tyrannical master. This same gentleman, having heard
of the fame of George's invention, took a ride over
to the factory, to see what this intelligent chattel
had been about. He was received with great
enthusiasm by the employer, who congratulated him on
possessing so valuable a slave.
He was waited upon over the
factory, shown the machinery by George, who, in high
spirits, talked so fluently, held himself so erect,
looked so handsome and manly, that his master began
to feel an uneasy consciousness of inferiority. What
business had his slave to be marching round the
country, inventing machines, and holding up his head
among gentlemen? He'd soon put a stop to it. He'd
take him back, and put him to hoeing and digging,
and "see if he'd step about so smart." Accordingly,
the manufacturer and all hands concerned were
astounded when he suddenly demanded George's wages,
and announced his intention of taking him home.
"But, Mr. Harris," remonstrated
the manufacturer, "isn't this rather sudden?"
"What if it is?—isn't the man
"We would be willing, sir, to
increase the rate of compensation."
"No object at all, sir. I don't
need to hire any of my hands out, unless I've a mind
"But, sir, he seems peculiarly
adapted to this business."
"Dare say he may be; never was
much adapted to anything that I set him about, I'll
"But only think of his inventing
this machine," interposed one of the workmen, rather
"O yes! a machine for saving
work, is it? He'd invent that, I'll be bound; let a
nigger alone for that, any time. They are all
labor-saving machines themselves, every one of 'em.
No, he shall tramp!"
George had stood like one
transfixed, at hearing his doom thus suddenly
pronounced by a power that he knew was irresistible.
He folded his arms, tightly pressed in his lips, but
a whole volcano of bitter feelings burned in his
bosom, and sent streams of fire through his veins.
He breathed short, and his large dark eyes flashed
like live coals; and he might have broken out into
some dangerous ebullition, had not the kindly
manufacturer touched him on the arm, and said, in a
"Give way, George; go with him
for the present. We'll try to help you, yet."
The tyrant observed the whisper,
and conjectured its import, though he could not hear
what was said; and he inwardly strengthened himself
in his determination to keep the power he possessed
over his victim.
George was taken home, and put
to the meanest drudgery of the farm. He had been
able to repress every disrespectful word; but the
flashing eye, the gloomy and troubled brow, were
part of a natural language that could not be
repressed,—indubitable signs, which showed too
plainly that the man could not become a thing.
It was during the happy period
of his employment in the factory that George had
seen and married his wife. During that period,—being
much trusted and favored by his employer,—he had
free liberty to come and go at discretion. The
marriage was highly approved of by Mrs. Shelby, who,
with a little womanly complacency in match-making,
felt pleased to unite her handsome favorite with one
of her own class who seemed in every way suited to
her; and so they were married in her mistress' great
parlor, and her mistress herself adorned the bride's
beautiful hair with orange-blossoms, and threw over
it the bridal veil, which certainly could scarce
have rested on a fairer head; and there was no lack
of white gloves, and cake and wine,—of admiring
guests to praise the bride's beauty, and her
mistress' indulgence and liberality. For a year or
two Eliza saw her husband frequently, and there was
nothing to interrupt their happiness, except the
loss of two infant children, to whom she was
passionately attached, and whom she mourned with a
grief so intense as to call for gentle remonstrance
from her mistress, who sought, with maternal
anxiety, to direct her naturally passionate feelings
within the bounds of reason and religion.
After the birth of little Harry,
however, she had gradually become tranquillized and
settled; and every bleeding tie and throbbing nerve,
once more entwined with that little life, seemed to
become sound and healthful, and Eliza was a happy
woman up to the time that her husband was rudely
torn from his kind employer, and brought under the
iron sway of his legal owner.
The manufacturer, true to his
word, visited Mr. Harris a week or two after George
had been taken away, when, as he hoped, the heat of
the occasion had passed away, and tried every
possible inducement to lead him to restore him to
his former employment.
"You needn't trouble yourself to
talk any longer," said he, doggedly; "I know my own
"I did not presume to interfere
with it, sir. I only thought that you might think it
for your interest to let your man to us on the terms
"O, I understand the matter well
enough. I saw your winking and whispering, the day I
took him out of the factory; but you don't come it
over me that way. It's a free country, sir; the
man's mine, and I do what I please with
And so fell George's last
hope;—nothing before him but a life of toil and
drudgery, rendered more bitter by every little
smarting vexation and indignity which tyrannical
ingenuity could devise.
A very humane jurist once said,
The worst use you can put a man to is to hang him.
No; there is another use that a man can be put to
that is WORSE!
The Husband and Father
Mrs. Shelby had gone on her
visit, and Eliza stood in the verandah, rather
dejectedly looking after the retreating carriage,
when a hand was laid on her shoulder. She turned,
and a bright smile lighted up her fine eyes.
"George, is it you? How you
frightened me! Well; I am so glad you 's come!
Missis is gone to spend the afternoon; so come into
my little room, and we'll have the time all to
Saying this, she drew him into a
neat little apartment opening on the verandah, where
she generally sat at her sewing, within call of her
"How glad I am!—why don't you
smile?—and look at Harry—how he grows." The boy
stood shyly regarding his father through his curls,
holding close to the skirts of his mother's dress.
"Isn't he beautiful?" said Eliza, lifting his long
curls and kissing him.
"I wish he'd never been born!"
said George, bitterly. "I wish I'd never been born
Surprised and frightened, Eliza
sat down, leaned her head on her husband's shoulder,
and burst into tears.
"There now, Eliza, it's too bad
for me to make you feel so, poor girl!" said he,
fondly; "it's too bad: O, how I wish you never had
seen me—you might have been happy!"
"George! George! how can you
talk so? What dreadful thing has happened, or is
going to happen? I'm sure we've been very happy,
"So we have, dear," said George.
Then drawing his child on his knee, he gazed
intently on his glorious dark eyes, and passed his
hands through his long curls.
"Just like you, Eliza; and you
are the handsomest woman I ever saw, and the best
one I ever wish to see; but, oh, I wish I'd never
seen you, nor you me!"
"O, George, how can you!"
"Yes, Eliza, it's all misery,
misery, misery! My life is bitter as wormwood; the
very life is burning out of me. I'm a poor,
miserable, forlorn drudge; I shall only drag you
down with me, that's all. What's the use of our
trying to do anything, trying to know anything,
trying to be anything? What's the use of living? I
wish I was dead!"
"O, now, dear George, that is
really wicked! I know how you feel about losing your
place in the factory, and you have a hard master;
but pray be patient, and perhaps something—"
"Patient!" said he, interrupting
her; "haven't I been patient? Did I say a word when
he came and took me away, for no earthly reason,
from the place where everybody was kind to me? I'd
paid him truly every cent of my earnings,—and they
all say I worked well."
"Well, it is dreadful,"
said Eliza; "but, after all, he is your master, you
"My master! and who made him my
master? That's what I think of—what right has he to
me? I'm a man as much as he is. I'm a better man
than he is. I know more about business than he does;
I am a better manager than he is; I can read better
than he can; I can write a better hand,—and I've
learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,—I've
learned it in spite of him; and now what right has
he to make a dray-horse of me?—to take me from
things I can do, and do better than he can, and put
me to work that any horse can do? He tries to do it;
he says he'll bring me down and humble me, and he
puts me to just the hardest, meanest and dirtiest
work, on purpose!"
"O, George! George! you frighten
me! Why, I never heard you talk so; I'm afraid
you'll do something dreadful. I don't wonder at your
feelings, at all; but oh, do be careful—do, do—for
my sake—for Harry's!"
"I have been careful, and I have
been patient, but it's growing worse and worse;
flesh and blood can't bear it any longer;—every
chance he can get to insult and torment me, he
takes. I thought I could do my work well, and keep
on quiet, and have some time to read and learn out
of work hours; but the more he see I can do, the
more he loads on. He says that though I don't say
anything, he sees I've got the devil in me, and he
means to bring it out; and one of these days it will
come out in a way that he won't like, or I'm
"O dear! what shall we do?" said
"It was only yesterday," said
George, "as I was busy loading stones into a cart,
that young Mas'r Tom stood there, slashing his whip
so near the horse that the creature was frightened.
I asked him to stop, as pleasant as I could,—he just
kept right on. I begged him again, and then he
turned on me, and began striking me. I held his
hand, and then he screamed and kicked and ran to his
father, and told him that I was fighting him. He
came in a rage, and said he'd teach me who was my
master; and he tied me to a tree, and cut switches
for young master, and told him that he might whip me
till he was tired;—and he did do it! If I don't make
him remember it, some time!" and the brow of the
young man grew dark, and his eyes burned with an
expression that made his young wife tremble. "Who
made this man my master? That's what I want to
know!" he said.
"Well," said Eliza, mournfully,
"I always thought that I must obey my master and
mistress, or I couldn't be a Christian."
"There is some sense in it, in
your case; they have brought you up like a child,
fed you, clothed you, indulged you, and taught you,
so that you have a good education; that is some
reason why they should claim you. But I have been
kicked and cuffed and sworn at, and at the best only
let alone; and what do I owe? I've paid for all my
keeping a hundred times over. I won't bear
it. No, I won't!" he said, clenching his hand
with a fierce frown.
Eliza trembled, and was silent.
She had never seen her husband in this mood before;
and her gentle system of ethics seemed to bend like
a reed in the surges of such passions.
"You know poor little Carlo,
that you gave me," added George; "the creature has
been about all the comfort that I've had. He has
slept with me nights, and followed me around days,
and kind o' looked at me as if he understood how I
felt. Well, the other day I was just feeding him
with a few old scraps I picked up by the kitchen
door, and Mas'r came along, and said I was feeding
him up at his expense, and that he couldn't afford
to have every nigger keeping his dog, and ordered me
to tie a stone to his neck and throw him in the
"O, George, you didn't do it!"
"Do it? not I!—but he did. Mas'r
and Tom pelted the poor drowning creature with
stones. Poor thing! he looked at me so mournful, as
if he wondered why I didn't save him. I had to take
a flogging because I wouldn't do it myself. I don't
care. Mas'r will find out that I'm one that whipping
won't tame. My day will come yet, if he don't look
"What are you going to do? O,
George, don't do anything wicked; if you only trust
in God, and try to do right, he'll deliver you."
"I an't a Christian like you,
Eliza; my heart's full of bitterness; I can't trust
in God. Why does he let things be so?"
"O, George, we must have faith.
Mistress says that when all things go wrong to us,
we must believe that God is doing the very best."
"That's easy to say for people
that are sitting on their sofas and riding in their
carriages; but let 'em be where I am, I guess it
would come some harder. I wish I could be good; but
my heart burns, and can't be reconciled, anyhow. You
couldn't in my place,—you can't now, if I tell you
all I've got to say. You don't know the whole yet."
"What can be coming now?"
"Well, lately Mas'r has been
saying that he was a fool to let me marry off the
place; that he hates Mr. Shelby and all his tribe,
because they are proud, and hold their heads up
above him, and that I've got proud notions from you;
and he says he won't let me come here any more, and
that I shall take a wife and settle down on his
place. At first he only scolded and grumbled these
things; but yesterday he told me that I should take
Mina for a wife, and settle down in a cabin with
her, or he would sell me down river."
"Why—but you were married to
me, by the minister, as much as if you'd been a
white man!" said Eliza, simply.
"Don't you know a slave can't be
married? There is no law in this country for that; I
can't hold you for my wife, if he chooses to part
us. That's why I wish I'd never seen you,—why I wish
I'd never been born; it would have been better for
us both,—it would have been better for this poor
child if he had never been born. All this may happen
to him yet!"
"O, but master is so kind!"
"Yes, but who knows?—he may
die—and then he may be sold to nobody knows who.
What pleasure is it that he is handsome, and smart,
and bright? I tell you, Eliza, that a sword will
pierce through your soul for every good and pleasant
thing your child is or has; it will make him worth
too much for you to keep."
The words smote heavily on
Eliza's heart; the vision of the trader came before
her eyes, and, as if some one had struck her a
deadly blow, she turned pale and gasped for breath.
She looked nervously out on the verandah, where the
boy, tired of the grave conversation, had retired,
and where he was riding triumphantly up and down on
Mr. Shelby's walking-stick. She would have spoken to
tell her husband her fears, but checked herself.
"No, no,—he has enough to bear,
poor fellow!" she thought. "No, I won't tell him;
besides, it an't true; Missis never deceives us."
"So, Eliza, my girl," said the
husband, mournfully, "bear up, now; and good-by, for
"Going, George! Going where?"
"To Canada," said he,
straightening himself up; "and when I'm there, I'll
buy you; that's all the hope that's left us. You
have a kind master, that won't refuse to sell you.
I'll buy you and the boy;—God helping me, I will!"
"O, dreadful! if you should be
"I won't be taken, Eliza; I'll
die first! I'll be free, or I'll die!"
"You won't kill yourself!"
"No need of that. They will kill
me, fast enough; they never will get me down the
"O, George, for my sake, do be
careful! Don't do anything wicked; don't lay hands
on yourself, or anybody else! You are tempted too
much—too much; but don't—go you must—but go
carefully, prudently; pray God to help you."
"Well, then, Eliza, hear my
plan. Mas'r took it into his head to send me right
by here, with a note to Mr. Symmes, that lives a
mile past. I believe he expected I should come here
to tell you what I have. It would please him, if he
thought it would aggravate 'Shelby's folks,' as he
calls 'em. I'm going home quite resigned, you
understand, as if all was over. I've got some
preparations made,—and there are those that will
help me; and, in the course of a week or so, I shall
be among the missing, some day. Pray for me, Eliza;
perhaps the good Lord will hear you."
"O, pray yourself, George, and
go trusting in him; then you won't do anything
"Well, now, good-by,"
said George, holding Eliza's hands, and gazing into
her eyes, without moving. They stood silent; then
there were last words, and sobs, and bitter
weeping,—such parting as those may make whose hope
to meet again is as the spider's web,—and the
husband and wife were parted.
An Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin
The cabin of Uncle Tom was a
small log building, close adjoining to "the house,"
as the negro par excellence designates his
master's dwelling. In front it had a neat
garden-patch, where, every summer, strawberries,
raspberries, and a variety of fruits and vegetables,
flourished under careful tending. The whole front of
it was covered by a large scarlet bignonia and a
native multiflora rose, which, entwisting and
interlacing, left scarce a vestige of the rough logs
to be seen. Here, also, in summer, various brilliant
annuals, such as marigolds, petunias, four-o'clocks,
found an indulgent corner in which to unfold their
splendors, and were the delight and pride of Aunt
Let us enter the dwelling. The
evening meal at the house is over, and Aunt Chloe,
who presided over its preparation as head cook, has
left to inferior officers in the kitchen the
business of clearing away and washing dishes, and
come out into her own snug territories, to "get her
ole man's supper"; therefore, doubt not that it is
her you see by the fire, presiding with anxious
interest over certain frizzling items in a stew-pan,
and anon with grave consideration lifting the cover
of a bake-kettle, from whence steam forth
indubitable intimations of "something good." A
round, black, shining face is hers, so glossy as to
suggest the idea that she might have been washed
over with white of eggs, like one of her own tea
rusks. Her whole plump countenance beams with
satisfaction and contentment from under her
well-starched checked turban, bearing on it,
however, if we must confess it, a little of that
tinge of self-consciousness which becomes the first
cook of the neighborhood, as Aunt Chloe was
universally held and acknowledged to be.
A cook she certainly was, in the
very bone and centre of her soul. Not a chicken or
turkey or duck in the barn-yard but looked grave
when they saw her approaching, and seemed evidently
to be reflecting on their latter end; and certain it
was that she was always meditating on trussing,
stuffing and roasting, to a degree that was
calculated to inspire terror in any reflecting fowl
living. Her corn-cake, in all its varieties of
hoe-cake, dodgers, muffins, and other species too
numerous to mention, was a sublime mystery to all
less practised compounders; and she would shake her
fat sides with honest pride and merriment, as she
would narrate the fruitless efforts that one and
another of her compeers had made to attain to her
The arrival of company at the
house, the arranging of dinners and suppers "in
style," awoke all the energies of her soul; and no
sight was more welcome to her than a pile of
travelling trunks launched on the verandah, for then
she foresaw fresh efforts and fresh triumphs.
Just at present, however, Aunt
Chloe is looking into the bake-pan; in which
congenial operation we shall leave her till we
finish our picture of the cottage.
In one corner of it stood a bed,
covered neatly with a snowy spread; and by the side
of it was a piece of carpeting, of some considerable
size. On this piece of carpeting Aunt Chloe took her
stand, as being decidedly in the upper walks of
life; and it and the bed by which it lay, and the
whole corner, in fact, were treated with
distinguished consideration, and made, so far as
possible, sacred from the marauding inroads and
desecrations of little folks. In fact, that corner
was the drawing-room of the establishment. In
the other corner was a bed of much humbler
pretensions, and evidently designed for use.
The wall over the fireplace was adorned with some
very brilliant scriptural prints, and a portrait of
General Washington, drawn and colored in a manner
which would certainly have astonished that hero, if
ever he happened to meet with its like.
On a rough bench in the corner,
a couple of woolly-headed boys, with glistening
black eyes and fat shining cheeks, were busy in
superintending the first walking operations of the
baby, which, as is usually the case, consisted in
getting up on its feet, balancing a moment, and then
tumbling down,—each successive failure being
violently cheered, as something decidedly clever.
A table, somewhat rheumatic in
its limbs, was drawn out in front of the fire, and
covered with a cloth, displaying cups and saucers of
a decidedly brilliant pattern, with other symptoms
of an approaching meal. At this table was seated
Uncle Tom, Mr. Shelby's best hand, who, as he is to
be the hero of our story, we must daguerreotype for
our readers. He was a large, broad-chested,
powerfully-made man, of a full glossy black, and a
face whose truly African features were characterized
by an expression of grave and steady good sense,
united with much kindliness and benevolence. There
was something about his whole air self-respecting
and dignified, yet united with a confiding and
He was very busily intent at
this moment on a slate lying before him, on which he
was carefully and slowly endeavoring to accomplish a
copy of some letters, in which operation he was
overlooked by young Mas'r George, a smart, bright
boy of thirteen, who appeared fully to realize the
dignity of his position as instructor.
"Not that way, Uncle Tom,—not
that way," said he, briskly, as Uncle Tom
laboriously brought up the tail of his g the
wrong side out; "that makes a q, you see."
"La sakes, now, does it?" said
Uncle Tom, looking with a respectful, admiring air,
as his young teacher flourishingly scrawled q's
and g's innumerable for his edification; and
then, taking the pencil in his big, heavy fingers,
he patiently recommenced.
"How easy white folks al'us does
things!" said Aunt Chloe, pausing while she was
greasing a griddle with a scrap of bacon on her
fork, and regarding young Master George with pride.
"The way he can write, now! and read, too! and then
to come out here evenings and read his lessons to
us,—it's mighty interestin'!"
"But, Aunt Chloe, I'm getting
mighty hungry," said George. "Isn't that cake in the
skillet almost done?"
"Mose done, Mas'r George," said
Aunt Chloe, lifting the lid and peeping
in,—"browning beautiful—a real lovely brown. Ah! let
me alone for dat. Missis let Sally try to make some
cake, t' other day, jes to larn her, she
said. 'O, go way, Missis,' said I; 'it really hurts
my feelin's, now, to see good vittles spilt dat ar
way! Cake ris all to one side—no shape at all; no
more than my shoe; go way!"
And with this final expression
of contempt for Sally's greenness, Aunt Chloe
whipped the cover off the bake-kettle, and disclosed
to view a neatly-baked pound-cake, of which no city
confectioner need to have been ashamed. This being
evidently the central point of the entertainment,
Aunt Chloe began now to bustle about earnestly in
the supper department.
"Here you, Mose and Pete! get
out de way, you niggers! Get away, Polly,
honey,—mammy'll give her baby some fin, by and by.
Now, Mas'r George, you jest take off dem books, and
set down now with my old man, and I'll take up de
sausages, and have de first griddle full of cakes on
your plates in less dan no time."
"They wanted me to come to
supper in the house," said George; "but I knew what
was what too well for that, Aunt Chloe."
"So you did—so you did, honey,"
said Aunt Chloe, heaping the smoking batter-cakes on
his plate; "you know'd your old aunty'd keep the
best for you. O, let you alone for dat! Go way!"
And, with that, aunty gave George a nudge with her
finger, designed to be immensely facetious, and
turned again to her griddle with great briskness.
"Now for the cake," said Mas'r
George, when the activity of the griddle department
had somewhat subsided; and, with that, the youngster
flourished a large knife over the article in
"La bless you, Mas'r George!"
said Aunt Chloe, with earnestness, catching his arm,
"you wouldn't be for cuttin' it wid dat ar great
heavy knife! Smash all down—spile all de pretty rise
of it. Here, I've got a thin old knife, I keeps
sharp a purpose. Dar now, see! comes apart light as
a feather! Now eat away—you won't get anything to
beat dat ar."
"Tom Lincon says," said George,
speaking with his mouth full, "that their Jinny is a
better cook than you."
"Dem Lincons an't much count, no
way!" said Aunt Chloe, contemptuously; "I mean, set
along side our folks. They 's 'spectable
folks enough in a kinder plain way; but, as to
gettin' up anything in style, they don't begin to
have a notion on 't. Set Mas'r Lincon, now,
alongside Mas'r Shelby! Good Lor! and Missis
Lincon,—can she kinder sweep it into a room like my
missis,—so kinder splendid, yer know! O, go way!
don't tell me nothin' of dem Lincons!"—and Aunt
Chloe tossed her head as one who hoped she did know
something of the world.
"Well, though, I've heard you
say," said George, "that Jinny was a pretty fair
"So I did," said Aunt Chloe,—"I
may say dat. Good, plain, common cookin', Jinny'll
do;—make a good pone o' bread,—bile her taters
far,—her corn cakes isn't extra, not extra now,
Jinny's corn cakes isn't, but then they's far,—but,
Lor, come to de higher branches, and what can
she do? Why, she makes pies—sartin she does; but
what kinder crust? Can she make your real flecky
paste, as melts in your mouth, and lies all up like
a puff? Now, I went over thar when Miss Mary was
gwine to be married, and Jinny she jest showed me de
weddin' pies. Jinny and I is good friends, ye know.
I never said nothin'; but go 'long, Mas'r George!
Why, I shouldn't sleep a wink for a week, if I had a
batch of pies like dem ar. Why, dey wan't no 'count
"I suppose Jinny thought they
were ever so nice," said George.
"Thought so!—didn't she? Thar
she was, showing em, as innocent—ye see, it's jest
here, Jinny don't know. Lor, the family an't
nothing! She can't be spected to know! 'Ta'nt no
fault o' hem. Ah, Mas'r George, you doesn't know
half 'your privileges in yer family and bringin'
up!" Here Aunt Chloe sighed, and rolled up her eyes
"I'm sure, Aunt Chloe, I
understand my pie and pudding privileges," said
George. "Ask Tom Lincon if I don't crow over him,
every time I meet him."
Aunt Chloe sat back in her
chair, and indulged in a hearty guffaw of laughter,
at this witticism of young Mas'r's, laughing till
the tears rolled down her black, shining cheeks, and
varying the exercise with playfully slapping and
poking Mas'r Georgey, and telling him to go way, and
that he was a case—that he was fit to kill her, and
that he sartin would kill her, one of these days;
and, between each of these sanguinary predictions,
going off into a laugh, each longer and stronger
than the other, till George really began to think
that he was a very dangerously witty fellow, and
that it became him to be careful how he talked "as
funny as he could."
"And so ye telled Tom, did ye?
O, Lor! what young uns will be up ter! Ye crowed
over Tom? O, Lor! Mas'r George, if ye wouldn't make
a hornbug laugh!"
"Yes," said George, "I says to
him, 'Tom, you ought to see some of Aunt Chloe's
pies; they're the right sort,' says I."
"Pity, now, Tom couldn't," said
Aunt Chloe, on whose benevolent heart the idea of
Tom's benighted condition seemed to make a strong
impression. "Ye oughter just ask him here to dinner,
some o' these times, Mas'r George," she added; "it
would look quite pretty of ye. Ye know, Mas'r
George, ye oughtenter feel 'bove nobody, on 'count
yer privileges, 'cause all our privileges is gi'n to
us; we ought al'ays to 'member that," said Aunt
Chloe, looking quite serious.
"Well, I mean to ask Tom here,
some day next week," said George; "and you do your
prettiest, Aunt Chloe, and we'll make him stare.
Won't we make him eat so he won't get over it for a
"Yes, yes—sartin," said Aunt
Chloe, delighted; "you'll see. Lor! to think of some
of our dinners! Yer mind dat ar great chicken pie I
made when we guv de dinner to General Knox? I and
Missis, we come pretty near quarrelling about dat ar
crust. What does get into ladies sometimes, I don't
know; but, sometimes, when a body has de heaviest
kind o' 'sponsibility on 'em, as ye may say, and is
all kinder 'seris' and taken up, dey takes
dat ar time to be hangin' round and kinder
interferin'! Now, Missis, she wanted me to do dis
way, and she wanted me to do dat way; and, finally,
I got kinder sarcy, and, says I, 'Now, Missis, do
jist look at dem beautiful white hands o' yourn with
long fingers, and all a sparkling with rings, like
my white lilies when de dew 's on 'em; and look at
my great black stumpin hands. Now, don't ye think
dat de Lord must have meant me to make de
pie-crust, and you to stay in de parlor? Dar! I was
jist so sarcy, Mas'r George."
"And what did mother say?" said
"Say?—why, she kinder larfed in
her eyes—dem great handsome eyes o' hern; and, says
she, 'Well, Aunt Chloe, I think you are about in the
right on 't,' says she; and she went off in de
parlor. She oughter cracked me over de head for
bein' so sarcy; but dar's whar 't is—I can't do
nothin' with ladies in de kitchen!"
"Well, you made out well with
that dinner,—I remember everybody said so," said
"Didn't I? And wan't I behind de
dinin'-room door dat bery day? and didn't I see de
General pass his plate three times for some more dat
bery pie?—and, says he, 'You must have an uncommon
cook, Mrs. Shelby.' Lor! I was fit to split myself.
"And de Gineral, he knows what
cookin' is," said Aunt Chloe, drawing herself up
with an air. "Bery nice man, de Gineral! He comes of
one of de bery fustest families in Old
Virginny! He knows what's what, now, as well as I
do—de Gineral. Ye see, there's pints in all
pies, Mas'r George; but tan't everybody knows what
they is, or as orter be. But the Gineral, he knows;
I knew by his 'marks he made. Yes, he knows what de
By this time, Master George had
arrived at that pass to which even a boy can come
(under uncommon circumstances, when he really could
not eat another morsel), and, therefore, he was at
leisure to notice the pile of woolly heads and
glistening eyes which were regarding their
operations hungrily from the opposite corner.
"Here, you Mose, Pete," he said,
breaking off liberal bits, and throwing it at them;
"you want some, don't you? Come, Aunt Chloe, bake
them some cakes."
And George and Tom moved to a
comfortable seat in the chimney-corner, while Aunte
Chloe, after baking a goodly pile of cakes, took her
baby on her lap, and began alternately filling its
mouth and her own, and distributing to Mose and
Pete, who seemed rather to prefer eating theirs as
they rolled about on the floor under the table,
tickling each other, and occasionally pulling the
"O! go long, will ye?" said the
mother, giving now and then a kick, in a kind of
general way, under the table, when the movement
became too obstreperous. "Can't ye be decent when
white folks comes to see ye? Stop dat ar, now, will
ye? Better mind yerselves, or I'll take ye down a
button-hole lower, when Mas'r George is gone!"
What meaning was couched under
this terrible threat, it is difficult to say; but
certain it is that its awful indistinctness seemed
to produce very little impression on the young
"La, now!" said Uncle Tom, "they
are so full of tickle all the while, they can't
Here the boys emerged from under
the table, and, with hands and faces well plastered
with molasses, began a vigorous kissing of the baby.
"Get along wid ye!" said the
mother, pushing away their woolly heads. "Ye'll all
stick together, and never get clar, if ye do dat
fashion. Go long to de spring and wash yerselves!"
she said, seconding her exhortations by a slap,
which resounded very formidably, but which seemed
only to knock out so much more laugh from the young
ones, as they tumbled precipitately over each other
out of doors, where they fairly screamed with
"Did ye ever see such
aggravating young uns?" said Aunt Chloe, rather
complacently, as, producing an old towel, kept for
such emergencies, she poured a little water out of
the cracked tea-pot on it, and began rubbing off the
molasses from the baby's face and hands; and, having
polished her till she shone, she set her down in
Tom's lap, while she busied herself in clearing away
supper. The baby employed the intervals in pulling
Tom's nose, scratching his face, and burying her fat
hands in his woolly hair, which last operation
seemed to afford her special content.
"Aint she a peart young un?"
said Tom, holding her from him to take a full-length
view; then, getting up, he set her on his broad
shoulder, and began capering and dancing with her,
while Mas'r George snapped at her with his
pocket-handkerchief, and Mose and Pete, now returned
again, roared after her like bears, till Aunt Chloe
declared that they "fairly took her head off" with
their noise. As, according to her own statement,
this surgical operation was a matter of daily
occurrence in the cabin, the declaration no whit
abated the merriment, till every one had roared and
tumbled and danced themselves down to a state of
"Well, now, I hopes you're
done," said Aunt Chloe, who had been busy in pulling
out a rude box of a trundle-bed; "and now, you Mose
and you Pete, get into thar; for we's goin' to have
"O mother, we don't wanter. We
wants to sit up to meetin',—meetin's is so curis. We
"La, Aunt Chloe, shove it under,
and let 'em sit up," said Mas'r George, decisively,
giving a push to the rude machine.
Aunt Chloe, having thus saved
appearances, seemed highly delighted to push the
thing under, saying, as she did so, "Well, mebbe 't
will do 'em some good."
The house now resolved itself
into a committee of the whole, to consider the
accommodations and arrangements for the meeting.
"What we's to do for cheers,
now, I declar I don't know," said Aunt Chloe.
As the meeting had been held at Uncle Tom's weekly,
for an indefinite length of time, without any more
"cheers," there seemed some encouragement to hope
that a way would be discovered at present.
"Old Uncle Peter sung both de
legs out of dat oldest cheer, last week," suggested
"You go long! I'll boun' you
pulled 'em out; some o' your shines," said Aunt
"Well, it'll stand, if it only
keeps jam up agin de wall!" said Mose.
"Den Uncle Peter mus'n't sit in
it, cause he al'ays hitches when he gets a singing.
He hitched pretty nigh across de room, t' other
night," said Pete.
"Good Lor! get him in it, then,"
said Mose, "and den he'd begin, 'Come saints—and
sinners, hear me tell,' and den down he'd go,"—and
Mose imitated precisely the nasal tones of the old
man, tumbling on the floor, to illustrate the
"Come now, be decent, can't ye?"
said Aunt Chloe; "an't yer shamed?"
Mas'r George, however, joined
the offender in the laugh, and declared decidedly
that Mose was a "buster." So the maternal admonition
seemed rather to fail of effect.
"Well, ole man," said Aunt
Chloe, "you'll have to tote in them ar bar'ls."
"Mother's bar'ls is like dat ar
widder's, Mas'r George was reading 'bout, in de good
book,—dey never fails," said Mose, aside to Peter.
"I'm sure one on 'em caved in
last week," said Pete, "and let 'em all down in de
middle of de singin'; dat ar was failin', warnt it?"
During this aside between Mose
and Pete, two empty casks had been rolled into the
cabin, and being secured from rolling, by stones on
each side, boards were laid across them, which
arrangement, together with the turning down of
certain tubs and pails, and the disposing of the
rickety chairs, at last completed the preparation.
"Mas'r George is such a
beautiful reader, now, I know he'll stay to read for
us," said Aunt Chloe; "'pears like 't will be so
much more interestin'."
George very readily consented,
for your boy is always ready for anything that makes
him of importance.
The room was soon filled with a
motley assemblage, from the old gray-headed
patriarch of eighty, to the young girl and lad of
fifteen. A little harmless gossip ensued on various
themes, such as where old Aunt Sally got her new red
headkerchief, and how "Missis was a going to give
Lizzy that spotted muslin gown, when she'd got her
new berage made up;" and how Mas'r Shelby was
thinking of buying a new sorrel colt, that was going
to prove an addition to the glories of the place. A
few of the worshippers belonged to families hard by,
who had got permission to attend, and who brought in
various choice scraps of information, about the
sayings and doings at the house and on the place,
which circulated as freely as the same sort of small
change does in higher circles.
After a while the singing
commenced, to the evident delight of all present.
Not even all the disadvantage of nasal intonation
could prevent the effect of the naturally fine
voices, in airs at once wild and spirited. The words
were sometimes the well-known and common hymns sung
in the churches about, and sometimes of a wilder,
more indefinite character, picked up at
The chorus of one of them, which
ran as follows, was sung with great energy and
"Die on the field of battle,
Die on the field of battle,
Glory in my soul."
Another special favorite had oft
repeated the words—
"O, I'm going to glory,—won't you come along with me?
Don't you see the angels beck'ning, and a calling me away?
Don't you see the golden city and the everlasting day?"
There were others, which made
incessant mention of "Jordan's banks," and "Canaan's
fields," and the "New Jerusalem;" for the negro
mind, impassioned and imaginative, always attaches
itself to hymns and expressions of a vivid and
pictorial nature; and, as they sung, some laughed,
and some cried, and some clapped hands, or shook
hands rejoicingly with each other, as if they had
fairly gained the other side of the river.
Various exhortations, or
relations of experience, followed, and intermingled
with the singing. One old gray-headed woman, long
past work, but much revered as a sort of chronicle
of the past, rose, and leaning on her staff,
said—"Well, chil'en! Well, I'm mighty glad to hear
ye all and see ye all once more, 'cause I don't know
when I'll be gone to glory; but I've done got ready,
chil'en; 'pears like I'd got my little bundle all
tied up, and my bonnet on, jest a waitin' for the
stage to come along and take me home; sometimes, in
the night, I think I hear the wheels a rattlin', and
I'm lookin' out all the time; now, you jest be ready
too, for I tell ye all, chil'en," she said striking
her staff hard on the floor, "dat ar glory is
a mighty thing! It's a mighty thing, chil'en,—you
don'no nothing about it,—it's wonderful." And
the old creature sat down, with streaming tears, as
wholly overcome, while the whole circle struck up—
"O Canaan, bright Canaan
I'm bound for the land of Canaan."
Mas'r George, by request, read
the last chapters of Revelation, often interrupted
by such exclamations as "The sakes now!"
"Only hear that!" "Jest think on 't!" "Is all that a
comin' sure enough?"
George, who was a bright boy,
and well trained in religious things by his mother,
finding himself an object of general admiration,
threw in expositions of his own, from time to time,
with a commendable seriousness and gravity, for
which he was admired by the young and blessed by the
old; and it was agreed, on all hands, that "a
minister couldn't lay it off better than he did;
that 't was reely 'mazin'!"
Uncle Tom was a sort of
patriarch in religious matters, in the neighborhood.
Having, naturally, an organization in which the
morale was strongly predominant, together with a
greater breadth and cultivation of mind than
obtained among his companions, he was looked up to
with great respect, as a sort of minister among
them; and the simple, hearty, sincere style of his
exhortations might have edified even better educated
persons. But it was in prayer that he especially
excelled. Nothing could exceed the touching
simplicity, the childlike earnestness, of his
prayer, enriched with the language of Scripture,
which seemed so entirely to have wrought itself into
his being, as to have become a part of himself, and
to drop from his lips unconsciously; in the language
of a pious old negro, he "prayed right up." And so
much did his prayer always work on the devotional
feelings of his audiences, that there seemed often a
danger that it would be lost altogether in the
abundance of the responses which broke out
everywhere around him.
While this scene was passing in
the cabin of the man, one quite otherwise passed in
the halls of the master.
The trader and Mr. Shelby were
seated together in the dining room afore-named, at a
table covered with papers and writing utensils.
Mr. Shelby was busy in counting
some bundles of bills, which, as they were counted,
he pushed over to the trader, who counted them
"All fair," said the trader;
"and now for signing these yer."
Mr. Shelby hastily drew the
bills of sale towards him, and signed them, like a
man that hurries over some disagreeable business,
and then pushed them over with the money. Haley
produced, from a well-worn valise, a parchment,
which, after looking over it a moment, he handed to
Mr. Shelby, who took it with a gesture of suppressed
"Wal, now, the thing's done!"
said the trader, getting up.
"It's done!" said Mr.
Shelby, in a musing tone; and, fetching a long
breath, he repeated, "It's done!"
"Yer don't seem to feel much
pleased with it, 'pears to me," said the trader.
"Haley," said Mr. Shelby, "I
hope you'll remember that you promised, on your
honor, you wouldn't sell Tom, without knowing what
sort of hands he's going into."
"Why, you've just done it sir,"
said the trader.
"Circumstances, you well know,
obliged me," said Shelby, haughtily.
"Wal, you know, they may 'blige
me, too," said the trader. "Howsomever, I'll
do the very best I can in gettin' Tom a good berth;
as to my treatin' on him bad, you needn't be a grain
afeard. If there's anything that I thank the Lord
for, it is that I'm never noways cruel."
After the expositions which the
trader had previously given of his humane
principles, Mr. Shelby did not feel particularly
reassured by these declarations; but, as they were
the best comfort the case admitted of, he allowed
the trader to depart in silence, and betook himself
to a solitary cigar.
Showing the Feelings of Living
Property on Changing Owners
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby had retired
to their apartment for the night. He was lounging in
a large easy-chair, looking over some letters that
had come in the afternoon mail, and she was standing
before her mirror, brushing out the complicated
braids and curls in which Eliza had arranged her
hair; for, noticing her pale cheeks and haggard
eyes, she had excused her attendance that night, and
ordered her to bed. The employment, naturally
enough, suggested her conversation with the girl in
the morning; and turning to her husband, she said,
"By the by, Arthur, who was that
low-bred fellow that you lugged in to our
"Haley is his name," said
Shelby, turning himself rather uneasily in his
chair, and continuing with his eyes fixed on a
"Haley! Who is he, and what may
be his business here, pray?"
"Well, he's a man that I
transacted some business with, last time I was at
Natchez," said Mr. Shelby.
"And he presumed on it to make
himself quite at home, and call and dine here, ay?"
"Why, I invited him; I had some
accounts with him," said Shelby.
"Is he a negro-trader?" said
Mrs. Shelby, noticing a certain embarrassment in her
"Why, my dear, what put that
into your head?" said Shelby, looking up.
"Nothing,—only Eliza came in
here, after dinner, in a great worry, crying and
taking on, and said you were talking with a trader,
and that she heard him make an offer for her boy—the
ridiculous little goose!"
"She did, hey?" said Mr. Shelby,
returning to his paper, which he seemed for a few
moments quite intent upon, not perceiving that he
was holding it bottom upwards.
"It will have to come out," said
he, mentally; "as well now as ever."
"I told Eliza," said Mrs.
Shelby, as she continued brushing her hair, "that
she was a little fool for her pains, and that you
never had anything to do with that sort of persons.
Of course, I knew you never meant to sell any of our
people,—least of all, to such a fellow."
"Well, Emily," said her husband,
"so I have always felt and said; but the fact is
that my business lies so that I cannot get on
without. I shall have to sell some of my hands."
"To that creature? Impossible!
Mr. Shelby, you cannot be serious."
"I'm sorry to say that I am,"
said Mr. Shelby. "I've agreed to sell Tom."
"What! our Tom?—that good,
faithful creature!—been your faithful servant from a
boy! O, Mr. Shelby!—and you have promised him his
freedom, too,—you and I have spoken to him a hundred
times of it. Well, I can believe anything now,—I can
believe now that you could sell little Harry,
poor Eliza's only child!" said Mrs. Shelby, in a
tone between grief and indignation.
"Well, since you must know all,
it is so. I have agreed to sell Tom and Harry both;
and I don't know why I am to be rated, as if I were
a monster, for doing what every one does every day."
"But why, of all others, choose
these?" said Mrs. Shelby. "Why sell them, of all on
the place, if you must sell at all?"
"Because they will bring the
highest sum of any,—that's why. I could choose
another, if you say so. The fellow made me a high
bid on Eliza, if that would suit you any better,"
said Mr. Shelby.
"The wretch!" said Mrs. Shelby,
"Well, I didn't listen to it, a
moment,—out of regard to your feelings, I
wouldn't;—so give me some credit."
"My dear," said Mrs. Shelby,
recollecting herself, "forgive me. I have been
hasty. I was surprised, and entirely unprepared for
this;—but surely you will allow me to intercede for
these poor creatures. Tom is a noble-hearted,
faithful fellow, if he is black. I do believe, Mr.
Shelby, that if he were put to it, he would lay down
his life for you."
"I know it,—I dare say;—but
what's the use of all this?—I can't help myself."
"Why not make a pecuniary
sacrifice? I'm willing to bear my part of the
inconvenience. O, Mr. Shelby, I have tried—tried
most faithfully, as a Christian woman should—to do
my duty to these poor, simple, dependent creatures.
I have cared for them, instructed them, watched over
them, and know all their little cares and joys, for
years; and how can I ever hold up my head again
among them, if, for the sake of a little paltry
gain, we sell such a faithful, excellent, confiding
creature as poor Tom, and tear from him in a moment
all we have taught him to love and value? I have
taught them the duties of the family, of parent and
child, and husband and wife; and how can I bear to
have this open acknowledgment that we care for no
tie, no duty, no relation, however sacred, compared
with money? I have talked with Eliza about her
boy—her duty to him as a Christian mother, to watch
over him, pray for him, and bring him up in a
Christian way; and now what can I say, if you tear
him away, and sell him, soul and body, to a profane,
unprincipled man, just to save a little money? I
have told her that one soul is worth more than all
the money in the world; and how will she believe me
when she sees us turn round and sell her child?—sell
him, perhaps, to certain ruin of body and soul!"
"I'm sorry you feel so about
it,—indeed I am," said Mr. Shelby; "and I respect
your feelings, too, though I don't pretend to share
them to their full extent; but I tell you now,
solemnly, it's of no use—I can't help myself. I
didn't mean to tell you this Emily; but, in plain
words, there is no choice between selling these two
and selling everything. Either they must go, or
all must. Haley has come into possession of a
mortgage, which, if I don't clear off with him
directly, will take everything before it. I've
raked, and scraped, and borrowed, and all but
begged,—and the price of these two was needed to
make up the balance, and I had to give them up.
Haley fancied the child; he agreed to settle the
matter that way, and no other. I was in his power,
and had to do it. If you feel so to have them
sold, would it be any better to have all
Mrs. Shelby stood like one
stricken. Finally, turning to her toilet, she rested
her face in her hands, and gave a sort of groan.
"This is God's curse on
slavery!—a bitter, bitter, most accursed thing!—a
curse to the master and a curse to the slave! I was
a fool to think I could make anything good out of
such a deadly evil. It is a sin to hold a slave
under laws like ours,—I always felt it was,—I always
thought so when I was a girl,—I thought so still
more after I joined the church; but I thought I
could gild it over,—I thought, by kindness, and
care, and instruction, I could make the condition of
mine better than freedom—fool that I was!"
"Why, wife, you are getting to
be an abolitionist, quite."
"Abolitionist! if they knew all
I know about slavery, they might talk! We
don't need them to tell us; you know I never thought
that slavery was right—never felt willing to own
"Well, therein you differ from
many wise and pious men," said Mr. Shelby. "You
remember Mr. B.'s sermon, the other Sunday?"
"I don't want to hear such
sermons; I never wish to hear Mr. B. in our church
again. Ministers can't help the evil, perhaps,—can't
cure it, any more than we can,—but defend it!—it
always went against my common sense. And I think you
didn't think much of that sermon, either."
"Well," said Shelby, "I must say
these ministers sometimes carry matters further than
we poor sinners would exactly dare to do. We men of
the world must wink pretty hard at various things,
and get used to a deal that isn't the exact thing.
But we don't quite fancy, when women and ministers
come out broad and square, and go beyond us in
matters of either modesty or morals, that's a fact.
But now, my dear, I trust you see the necessity of
the thing, and you see that I have done the very
best that circumstances would allow."
"O yes, yes!" said Mrs. Shelby,
hurriedly and abstractedly fingering her gold
watch,—"I haven't any jewelry of any amount," she
added, thoughtfully; "but would not this watch do
something?—it was an expensive one, when it was
bought. If I could only at least save Eliza's child,
I would sacrifice anything I have."
"I'm sorry, very sorry, Emily,"
said Mr. Shelby, "I'm sorry this takes hold of you
so; but it will do no good. The fact is, Emily, the
thing's done; the bills of sale are already signed,
and in Haley's hands; and you must be thankful it is
no worse. That man has had it in his power to ruin
us all,—and now he is fairly off. If you knew the
man as I do, you'd think that we had had a narrow
"Is he so hard, then?"
"Why, not a cruel man, exactly,
but a man of leather,—a man alive to nothing but
trade and profit,—cool, and unhesitating, and
unrelenting, as death and the grave. He'd sell his
own mother at a good percentage—not wishing the old
woman any harm, either."
"And this wretch owns that good,
faithful Tom, and Eliza's child!"
"Well, my dear, the fact is that
this goes rather hard with me; it's a thing I hate
to think of. Haley wants to drive matters, and take
possession tomorrow. I'm going to get out my horse
bright and early, and be off. I can't see Tom,
that's a fact; and you had better arrange a drive
somewhere, and carry Eliza off. Let the thing be
done when she is out of sight."
"No, no," said Mrs. Shelby;
"I'll be in no sense accomplice or help in this
cruel business. I'll go and see poor old Tom, God
help him, in his distress! They shall see, at any
rate, that their mistress can feel for and with
them. As to Eliza, I dare not think about it. The
Lord forgive us! What have we done, that this cruel
necessity should come on us?"
There was one listener to this
conversation whom Mr. and Mrs. Shelby little
Communicating with their
apartment was a large closet, opening by a door into
the outer passage. When Mrs. Shelby had dismissed
Eliza for the night, her feverish and excited mind
had suggested the idea of this closet; and she had
hidden herself there, and, with her ear pressed
close against the crack of the door, had lost not a
word of the conversation.
When the voices died into
silence, she rose and crept stealthily away. Pale,
shivering, with rigid features and compressed lips,
she looked an entirely altered being from the soft
and timid creature she had been hitherto. She moved
cautiously along the entry, paused one moment at her
mistress' door, and raised her hands in mute appeal
to Heaven, and then turned and glided into her own
room. It was a quiet, neat apartment, on the same
floor with her mistress. There was a pleasant sunny
window, where she had often sat singing at her
sewing; there a little case of books, and various
little fancy articles, ranged by them, the gifts of
Christmas holidays; there was her simple wardrobe in
the closet and in the drawers:—here was, in short,
her home; and, on the whole, a happy one it had been
to her. But there, on the bed, lay her slumbering
boy, his long curls falling negligently around his
unconscious face, his rosy mouth half open, his
little fat hands thrown out over the bedclothes, and
a smile spread like a sunbeam over his whole face.
"Poor boy! poor fellow!" said
Eliza; "they have sold you! but your mother will
save you yet!"
No tear dropped over that
pillow; in such straits as these, the heart has no
tears to give,—it drops only blood, bleeding itself
away in silence. She took a piece of paper and a
pencil, and wrote, hastily,
"O, Missis! dear Missis! don't
think me ungrateful,—don't think hard of me, any
way,—I heard all you and master said tonight. I am
going to try to save my boy—you will not blame me!
God bless and reward you for all your kindness!"
Hastily folding and directing
this, she went to a drawer and made up a little
package of clothing for her boy, which she tied with
a handkerchief firmly round her waist; and, so fond
is a mother's remembrance, that, even in the terrors
of that hour, she did not forget to put in the
little package one or two of his favorite toys,
reserving a gayly painted parrot to amuse him, when
she should be called on to awaken him. It was some
trouble to arouse the little sleeper; but, after
some effort, he sat up, and was playing with his
bird, while his mother was putting on her bonnet and
"Where are you going, mother?"
said he, as she drew near the bed, with his little
coat and cap.
His mother drew near, and looked
so earnestly into his eyes, that he at once divined
that something unusual was the matter.
"Hush, Harry," she said;
"mustn't speak loud, or they will hear us. A wicked
man was coming to take little Harry away from his
mother, and carry him 'way off in the dark; but
mother won't let him—she's going to put on her
little boy's cap and coat, and run off with him, so
the ugly man can't catch him."
Saying these words, she had tied
and buttoned on the child's simple outfit, and,
taking him in her arms, she whispered to him to be
very still; and, opening a door in her room which
led into the outer verandah, she glided noiselessly
It was a sparkling, frosty,
starlight night, and the mother wrapped the shawl
close round her child, as, perfectly quiet with
vague terror, he clung round her neck.
Old Bruno, a great Newfoundland,
who slept at the end of the porch, rose, with a low
growl, as she came near. She gently spoke his name,
and the animal, an old pet and playmate of hers,
instantly, wagging his tail, prepared to follow her,
though apparently revolving much, in this simple
dog's head, what such an indiscreet midnight
promenade might mean. Some dim ideas of imprudence
or impropriety in the measure seemed to embarrass
him considerably; for he often stopped, as Eliza
glided forward, and looked wistfully, first at her
and then at the house, and then, as if reassured by
reflection, he pattered along after her again. A few
minutes brought them to the window of Uncle Tom's
cottage, and Eliza stopping, tapped lightly on the
The prayer-meeting at Uncle
Tom's had, in the order of hymn-singing, been
protracted to a very late hour; and, as Uncle Tom
had indulged himself in a few lengthy solos
afterwards, the consequence was, that, although it
was now between twelve and one o'clock, he and his
worthy helpmeet were not yet asleep.
"Good Lord! what's that?" said
Aunt Chloe, starting up and hastily drawing the
curtain. "My sakes alive, if it an't Lizy! Get on
your clothes, old man, quick!—there's old Bruno,
too, a pawin round; what on airth! I'm gwine to open
And suiting the action to the
word, the door flew open, and the light of the
tallow candle, which Tom had hastily lighted, fell
on the haggard face and dark, wild eyes of the
"Lord bless you!—I'm skeered to
look at ye, Lizy! Are ye tuck sick, or what's come
"I'm running away—Uncle Tom and
Aunt Chloe—carrying off my child—Master sold him!"
"Sold him?" echoed both, lifting
up their hands in dismay.
"Yes, sold him!" said Eliza,
firmly; "I crept into the closet by Mistress' door
tonight, and I heard Master tell Missis that he had
sold my Harry, and you, Uncle Tom, both, to a
trader; and that he was going off this morning on
his horse, and that the man was to take possession
Tom had stood, during this
speech, with his hands raised, and his eyes dilated,
like a man in a dream. Slowly and gradually, as its
meaning came over him, he collapsed, rather than
seated himself, on his old chair, and sunk his head
down upon his knees.
"The good Lord have pity on us!"
said Aunt Chloe. "O! it don't seem as if it was
true! What has he done, that Mas'r should sell
"He hasn't done anything,—it
isn't for that. Master don't want to sell, and
Missis she's always good. I heard her plead and beg
for us; but he told her 't was no use; that he was
in this man's debt, and that this man had got the
power over him; and that if he didn't pay him off
clear, it would end in his having to sell the place
and all the people, and move off. Yes, I heard him
say there was no choice between selling these two
and selling all, the man was driving him so hard.
Master said he was sorry; but oh, Missis—you ought
to have heard her talk! If she an't a Christian and
an angel, there never was one. I'm a wicked girl to
leave her so; but, then, I can't help it. She said,
herself, one soul was worth more than the world; and
this boy has a soul, and if I let him be carried
off, who knows what'll become of it? It must be
right: but, if it an't right, the Lord forgive me,
for I can't help doing it!"
"Well, old man!" said Aunt
Chloe, "why don't you go, too? Will you wait to be
toted down river, where they kill niggers with hard
work and starving? I'd a heap rather die than go
there, any day! There's time for ye,—be off with
Lizy,—you've got a pass to come and go any time.
Come, bustle up, and I'll get your things together."
Tom slowly raised his head, and
looked sorrowfully but quietly around, and said,
"No, no—I an't going. Let Eliza
go—it's her right! I wouldn't be the one to say
no—'tan't in natur for her to stay; but you
heard what she said! If I must be sold, or all the
people on the place, and everything go to rack, why,
let me be sold. I s'pose I can bar it as well as any
on 'em," he added, while something like a sob and a
sigh shook his broad, rough chest convulsively.
"Mas'r always found me on the spot—he always will. I
never have broke trust, nor used my pass no ways
contrary to my word, and I never will. It's better
for me alone to go, than to break up the place and
sell all. Mas'r an't to blame, Chloe, and he'll take
care of you and the poor—"
Here he turned to the rough
trundle bed full of little woolly heads, and broke
fairly down. He leaned over the back of the chair,
and covered his face with his large hands. Sobs,
heavy, hoarse and loud, shook the chair, and great
tears fell through his fingers on the floor; just
such tears, sir, as you dropped into the coffin
where lay your first-born son; such tears, woman, as
you shed when you heard the cries of your dying
babe. For, sir, he was a man,—and you are but
another man. And, woman, though dressed in silk and
jewels, you are but a woman, and, in life's great
straits and mighty griefs, ye feel but one sorrow!
"And now," said Eliza, as she
stood in the door, "I saw my husband only this
afternoon, and I little knew then what was to come.
They have pushed him to the very last standing
place, and he told me, today, that he was going to
run away. Do try, if you can, to get word to him.
Tell him how I went, and why I went; and tell him
I'm going to try and find Canada. You must give my
love to him, and tell him, if I never see him
again," she turned away, and stood with her back to
them for a moment, and then added, in a husky voice,
"tell him to be as good as he can, and try and meet
me in the kingdom of heaven."
"Call Bruno in there," she
added. "Shut the door on him, poor beast! He mustn't
go with me!"
A few last words and tears, a
few simple adieus and blessings, and clasping her
wondering and affrighted child in her arms, she
glided noiselessly away.
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, after their
protracted discussion of the night before, did not
readily sink to repose, and, in consequence, slept
somewhat later than usual, the ensuing morning.
"I wonder what keeps Eliza,"
said Mrs. Shelby, after giving her bell repeated
pulls, to no purpose.
Mr. Shelby was standing before
his dressing-glass, sharpening his razor; and just
then the door opened, and a colored boy entered,
with his shaving-water.
"Andy," said his mistress, "step
to Eliza's door, and tell her I have rung for her
three times. Poor thing!" she added, to herself,
with a sigh.
Andy soon returned, with eyes
very wide in astonishment.
"Lor, Missis! Lizy's drawers is
all open, and her things all lying every which way;
and I believe she's just done clared out!"
The truth flashed upon Mr.
Shelby and his wife at the same moment. He
"Then she suspected it, and
"The Lord be thanked!" said Mrs.
Shelby. "I trust she is."
"Wife, you talk like a fool!
Really, it will be something pretty awkward for me,
if she is. Haley saw that I hesitated about selling
this child, and he'll think I connived at it, to get
him out of the way. It touches my honor!" And Mr.
Shelby left the room hastily.
There was great running and
ejaculating, and opening and shutting of doors, and
appearance of faces in all shades of color in
different places, for about a quarter of an hour.
One person only, who might have shed some light on
the matter, was entirely silent, and that was the
head cook, Aunt Chloe. Silently, and with a heavy
cloud settled down over her once joyous face, she
proceeded making out her breakfast biscuits, as if
she heard and saw nothing of the excitement around
Very soon, about a dozen young
imps were roosting, like so many crows, on the
verandah railings, each one determined to be the
first one to apprize the strange Mas'r of his ill
"He'll be rael mad, I'll be
bound," said Andy.
"Won't he swar!" said
little black Jake.
"Yes, for he does swar,"
said woolly-headed Mandy. "I hearn him yesterday, at
dinner. I hearn all about it then, 'cause I got into
the closet where Missis keeps the great jugs, and I
hearn every word." And Mandy, who had never in her
life thought of the meaning of a word she had heard,
more than a black cat, now took airs of superior
wisdom, and strutted about, forgetting to state
that, though actually coiled up among the jugs at
the time specified, she had been fast asleep all the
When, at last, Haley appeared,
booted and spurred, he was saluted with the bad
tidings on every hand. The young imps on the
verandah were not disappointed in their hope of
hearing him "swar," which he did with a fluency and
fervency which delighted them all amazingly, as they
ducked and dodged hither and thither, to be out of
the reach of his riding-whip; and, all whooping off
together, they tumbled, in a pile of immeasurable
giggle, on the withered turf under the verandah,
where they kicked up their heels and shouted to
their full satisfaction.
"If I had the little devils!"
muttered Haley, between his teeth.
"But you ha'nt got 'em, though!"
said Andy, with a triumphant flourish, and making a
string of indescribable mouths at the unfortunate
trader's back, when he was fairly beyond hearing.
"I say now, Shelby, this yer 's
a most extro'rnary business!" said Haley, as he
abruptly entered the parlor. "It seems that gal 's
off, with her young un."
"Mr. Haley, Mrs. Shelby is
present," said Mr. Shelby.
"I beg pardon, ma'am," said
Haley, bowing slightly, with a still lowering brow;
"but still I say, as I said before, this yer's a
sing'lar report. Is it true, sir?"
"Sir," said Mr. Shelby, "if you
wish to communicate with me, you must observe
something of the decorum of a gentleman. Andy, take
Mr. Haley's hat and riding-whip. Take a seat, sir.
Yes, sir; I regret to say that the young woman,
excited by overhearing, or having reported to her,
something of this business, has taken her child in
the night, and made off."
"I did expect fair dealing in
this matter, I confess," said Haley.
"Well, sir," said Mr. Shelby,
turning sharply round upon him, "what am I to
understand by that remark? If any man calls my honor
in question, I have but one answer for him."
The trader cowered at this, and
in a somewhat lower tone said that "it was plaguy
hard on a fellow, that had made a fair bargain, to
be gulled that way."
"Mr. Haley," said Mr. Shelby,
"if I did not think you had some cause for
disappointment, I should not have borne from you the
rude and unceremonious style of your entrance into
my parlor this morning. I say thus much, however,
since appearances call for it, that I shall allow of
no insinuations cast upon me, as if I were at all
partner to any unfairness in this matter. Moreover,
I shall feel bound to give you every assistance, in
the use of horses, servants, &c., in the recovery of
your property. So, in short, Haley," said he,
suddenly dropping from the tone of dignified
coolness to his ordinary one of easy frankness, "the
best way for you is to keep good-natured and eat
some breakfast, and we will then see what is to be
Mrs. Shelby now rose, and said
her engagements would prevent her being at the
breakfast-table that morning; and, deputing a very
respectable mulatto woman to attend to the
gentlemen's coffee at the side-board, she left the
"Old lady don't like your humble
servant, over and above," said Haley, with an uneasy
effort to be very familiar.
"I am not accustomed to hear my
wife spoken of with such freedom," said Mr. Shelby,
"Beg pardon; of course, only a
joke, you know," said Haley, forcing a laugh.
"Some jokes are less agreeable
than others," rejoined Shelby.
"Devilish free, now I've signed
those papers, cuss him!" muttered Haley to himself;
"quite grand, since yesterday!"
Never did fall of any prime
minister at court occasion wider surges of sensation
than the report of Tom's fate among his compeers on
the place. It was the topic in every mouth,
everywhere; and nothing was done in the house or in
the field, but to discuss its probable results.
Eliza's flight—an unprecedented event on the
place—was also a great accessory in stimulating the
Black Sam, as he was commonly
called, from his being about three shades blacker
than any other son of ebony on the place, was
revolving the matter profoundly in all its phases
and bearings, with a comprehensiveness of vision and
a strict lookout to his own personal well-being,
that would have done credit to any white patriot in
"It's an ill wind dat blow
nowhar,—dat ar a fact," said Sam, sententiously,
giving an additional hoist to his pantaloons, and
adroitly substituting a long nail in place of a
missing suspender-button, with which effort of
mechanical genius he seemed highly delighted.
"Yes, it's an ill wind blows
nowhar," he repeated. "Now, dar, Tom's down—wal,
course der's room for some nigger to be up—and why
not dis nigger?—dat's de idee. Tom, a ridin' round
de country—boots blacked—pass in his pocket—all
grand as Cuffee—but who he? Now, why shouldn't
Sam?—dat's what I want to know."
"Halloo, Sam—O Sam! Mas'r wants
you to cotch Bill and Jerry," said Andy, cutting
short Sam's soliloquy.
"High! what's afoot now, young
"Why, you don't know, I s'pose,
that Lizy's cut stick, and clared out, with her
"You teach your granny!" said
Sam, with infinite contempt; "knowed it a heap sight
sooner than you did; this nigger an't so green,
"Well, anyhow, Mas'r wants Bill
and Jerry geared right up; and you and I 's to go
with Mas'r Haley, to look arter her."
"Good, now! dat's de time o'
day!" said Sam. "It's Sam dat's called for in dese
yer times. He's de nigger. See if I don't cotch her,
now; Mas'r'll see what Sam can do!"
"Ah! but, Sam," said Andy,
"you'd better think twice; for Missis don't want her
cotched, and she'll be in yer wool."
"High!" said Sam, opening his
eyes. "How you know dat?"
"Heard her say so, my own self,
dis blessed mornin', when I bring in Mas'r's
shaving-water. She sent me to see why Lizy didn't
come to dress her; and when I telled her she was
off, she jest ris up, and ses she, 'The Lord be
praised;' and Mas'r, he seemed rael mad, and ses he,
'Wife, you talk like a fool.' But Lor! she'll bring
him to! I knows well enough how that'll be,—it's
allers best to stand Missis' side the fence, now I
Black Sam, upon this, scratched
his woolly pate, which, if it did not contain very
profound wisdom, still contained a great deal of a
particular species much in demand among politicians
of all complexions and countries, and vulgarly
denominated "knowing which side the bread is
buttered;" so, stopping with grave consideration, he
again gave a hitch to his pantaloons, which was his
regularly organized method of assisting his mental
"Der an't no saying'—never—'bout
no kind o' thing in dis yer world," he said,
at last. Sam spoke like a philosopher, emphasizing
this—as if he had had a large experience in
different sorts of worlds, and therefore had come to
his conclusions advisedly.
"Now, sartin I'd a said that
Missis would a scoured the varsal world after Lizy,"
added Sam, thoughtfully.
"So she would," said Andy; "but
can't ye see through a ladder, ye black nigger?
Missis don't want dis yer Mas'r Haley to get Lizy's
boy; dat's de go!"
"High!" said Sam, with an
indescribable intonation, known only to those who
have heard it among the negroes.
"And I'll tell yer more 'n all,"
said Andy; "I specs you'd better be making tracks
for dem hosses,—mighty sudden, too,—-for I hearn
Missis 'quirin' arter yer,—so you've stood foolin'
Sam, upon this, began to bestir
himself in real earnest, and after a while appeared,
bearing down gloriously towards the house, with Bill
and Jerry in a full canter, and adroitly throwing
himself off before they had any idea of stopping, he
brought them up alongside of the horse-post like a
tornado. Haley's horse, which was a skittish young
colt, winced, and bounced, and pulled hard at his
"Ho, ho!" said Sam, "skeery, ar
ye?" and his black visage lighted up with a curious,
mischievous gleam. "I'll fix ye now!" said he.
There was a large beech-tree
overshadowing the place, and the small, sharp,
triangular beech-nuts lay scattered thickly on the
ground. With one of these in his fingers, Sam
approached the colt, stroked and patted, and seemed
apparently busy in soothing his agitation. On
pretence of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly
slipped under it the sharp little nut, in such a
manner that the least weight brought upon the saddle
would annoy the nervous sensibilities of the animal,
without leaving any perceptible graze or wound.
"Dar!" he said, rolling his eyes
with an approving grin; "me fix 'em!"
At this moment Mrs. Shelby
appeared on the balcony, beckoning to him. Sam
approached with as good a determination to pay court
as did ever suitor after a vacant place at St.
James' or Washington.
"Why have you been loitering so,
Sam? I sent Andy to tell you to hurry."
"Lord bless you, Missis!" said
Sam, "horses won't be cotched all in a minit; they'd
done clared out way down to the south pasture, and
the Lord knows whar!"
"Sam, how often must I tell you
not to say 'Lord bless you, and the Lord knows,' and
such things? It's wicked."
"O, Lord bless my soul! I done
forgot, Missis! I won't say nothing of de sort no
"Why, Sam, you just have
said it again."
"Did I? O, Lord! I mean—I didn't
go fur to say it."
"You must be careful,
"Just let me get my breath,
Missis, and I'll start fair. I'll be bery careful."
"Well, Sam, you are to go with
Mr. Haley, to show him the road, and help him. Be
careful of the horses, Sam; you know Jerry was a
little lame last week; don't ride them too fast."
Mrs. Shelby spoke the last words
with a low voice, and strong emphasis.
"Let dis child alone for dat!"
said Sam, rolling up his eyes with a volume of
meaning. "Lord knows! High! Didn't say dat!" said
he, suddenly catching his breath, with a ludicrous
flourish of apprehension, which made his mistress
laugh, spite of herself. "Yes, Missis, I'll look out
for de hosses!"
"Now, Andy," said Sam, returning
to his stand under the beech-trees, "you see I
wouldn't be 't all surprised if dat ar gen'lman's
crittur should gib a fling, by and by, when he comes
to be a gettin' up. You know, Andy, critturs will
do such things;" and therewith Sam poked Andy in the
side, in a highly suggestive manner.
"High!" said Andy, with an air
of instant appreciation.
"Yes, you see, Andy, Missis
wants to make time,—dat ar's clar to der most
or'nary 'bserver. I jis make a little for her. Now,
you see, get all dese yer hosses loose, caperin'
permiscus round dis yer lot and down to de wood dar,
and I spec Mas'r won't be off in a hurry."
"Yer see," said Sam, "yer see,
Andy, if any such thing should happen as that Mas'r
Haley's horse should begin to act contrary,
and cut up, you and I jist lets go of our'n to help
him, and we'll help him—oh yes!" And Sam and
Andy laid their heads back on their shoulders, and
broke into a low, immoderate laugh, snapping their
fingers and flourishing their heels with exquisite
At this instant, Haley appeared
on the verandah. Somewhat mollified by certain cups
of very good coffee, he came out smiling and
talking, in tolerably restored humor. Sam and Andy,
clawing for certain fragmentary palm-leaves, which
they were in the habit of considering as hats, flew
to the horseposts, to be ready to "help Mas'r."
Sam's palm-leaf had been
ingeniously disentangled from all pretensions to
braid, as respects its brim; and the slivers
starting apart, and standing upright, gave it a
blazing air of freedom and defiance, quite equal to
that of any Fejee chief; while the whole brim of
Andy's being departed bodily, he rapped the crown on
his head with a dexterous thump, and looked about
well pleased, as if to say, "Who says I haven't got
"Well, boys," said Haley, "look
alive now; we must lose no time."
"Not a bit of him, Mas'r!" said
Sam, putting Haley's rein in his hand, and holding
his stirrup, while Andy was untying the other two
The instant Haley touched the
saddle, the mettlesome creature bounded from the
earth with a sudden spring, that threw his master
sprawling, some feet off, on the soft, dry turf.
Sam, with frantic ejaculations, made a dive at the
reins, but only succeeded in brushing the blazing
palm-leaf afore-named into the horse's eyes, which
by no means tended to allay the confusion of his
nerves. So, with great vehemence, he overturned Sam,
and, giving two or three contemptuous snorts,
flourished his heels vigorously in the air, and was
soon prancing away towards the lower end of the
lawn, followed by Bill and Jerry, whom Andy had not
failed to let loose, according to contract, speeding
them off with various direful ejaculations. And now
ensued a miscellaneous scene of confusion. Sam and
Andy ran and shouted,—dogs barked here and
there,—and Mike, Mose, Mandy, Fanny, and all the
smaller specimens on the place, both male and
female, raced, clapped hands, whooped, and shouted,
with outrageous officiousness and untiring zeal.
Haley's horse, which was a white
one, and very fleet and spirited, appeared to enter
into the spirit of the scene with great gusto; and
having for his coursing ground a lawn of nearly half
a mile in extent, gently sloping down on every side
into indefinite woodland, he appeared to take
infinite delight in seeing how near he could allow
his pursuers to approach him, and then, when within
a hand's breadth, whisk off with a start and a
snort, like a mischievous beast as he was and career
far down into some alley of the wood-lot. Nothing
was further from Sam's mind than to have any one of
the troop taken until such season as should seem to
him most befitting,—and the exertions that he made
were certainly most heroic. Like the sword of Coeur
De Lion, which always blazed in the front and
thickest of the battle, Sam's palm-leaf was to be
seen everywhere when there was the least danger that
a horse could be caught; there he would bear down
full tilt, shouting, "Now for it! cotch him! cotch
him!" in a way that would set everything to
indiscriminate rout in a moment.
Haley ran up and down, and
cursed and swore and stamped miscellaneously. Mr.
Shelby in vain tried to shout directions from the
balcony, and Mrs. Shelby from her chamber window
alternately laughed and wondered,—not without some
inkling of what lay at the bottom of all this
At last, about twelve o'clock,
Sam appeared triumphant, mounted on Jerry, with
Haley's horse by his side, reeking with sweat, but
with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, showing
that the spirit of freedom had not yet entirely
"He's cotched!" he exclaimed,
triumphantly. "If 't hadn't been for me, they might
a bust themselves, all on 'em; but I cotched him!"
"You!" growled Haley, in no
amiable mood. "If it hadn't been for you, this never
would have happened."
"Lord bless us, Mas'r," said
Sam, in a tone of the deepest concern, "and me that
has been racin' and chasin' till the sweat jest
pours off me!"
"Well, well!" said Haley,
"you've lost me near three hours, with your cursed
nonsense. Now let's be off, and have no more
"Why, Mas'r," said Sam, in a
deprecating tone, "I believe you mean to kill us all
clar, horses and all. Here we are all just ready to
drop down, and the critters all in a reek of sweat.
Why, Mas'r won't think of startin' on now till arter
dinner. Mas'r's hoss wants rubben down; see how he
splashed hisself; and Jerry limps too; don't think
Missis would be willin' to have us start dis yer
way, no how. Lord bless you, Mas'r, we can ketch up,
if we do stop. Lizy never was no great of a walker."
Mrs. Shelby, who, greatly to her
amusement, had overheard this conversation from the
verandah, now resolved to do her part. She came
forward, and, courteously expressing her concern for
Haley's accident, pressed him to stay to dinner,
saying that the cook should bring it on the table
Thus, all things considered,
Haley, with rather an equivocal grace, proceeded to
the parlor, while Sam, rolling his eyes after him
with unutterable meaning, proceeded gravely with the
horses to the stable-yard.
"Did yer see him, Andy? did
yer see him?" said Sam, when he had got fairly
beyond the shelter of the barn, and fastened the
horse to a post. "O, Lor, if it warn't as good as a
meetin', now, to see him a dancin' and kickin' and
swarin' at us. Didn't I hear him? Swar away, ole
fellow (says I to myself ); will yer have yer hoss
now, or wait till you cotch him? (says I). Lor,
Andy, I think I can see him now." And Sam and Andy
leaned up against the barn and laughed to their
"Yer oughter seen how mad he
looked, when I brought the hoss up. Lord, he'd a
killed me, if he durs' to; and there I was a
standin' as innercent and as humble."
"Lor, I seed you," said Andy;
"an't you an old hoss, Sam?"
"Rather specks I am," said Sam;
"did yer see Missis up stars at the winder? I seed
"I'm sure, I was racin' so, I
didn't see nothing," said Andy.
"Well, yer see," said Sam,
proceeding gravely to wash down Haley's pony, "I 'se
'quired what yer may call a habit o' bobservation,
Andy. It's a very 'portant habit, Andy; and I
'commend yer to be cultivatin' it, now yer young.
Hist up that hind foot, Andy. Yer see, Andy, it's
bobservation makes all de difference in niggers.
Didn't I see which way the wind blew dis yer
mornin'? Didn't I see what Missis wanted, though she
never let on? Dat ar's bobservation, Andy. I 'spects
it's what you may call a faculty. Faculties is
different in different peoples, but cultivation of
'em goes a great way."
"I guess if I hadn't helped your
bobservation dis mornin', yer wouldn't have seen
your way so smart," said Andy.
"Andy," said Sam, "you's a
promisin' child, der an't no manner o' doubt. I
thinks lots of yer, Andy; and I don't feel no ways
ashamed to take idees from you. We oughtenter
overlook nobody, Andy, cause the smartest on us gets
tripped up sometimes. And so, Andy, let's go up to
the house now. I'll be boun' Missis'll give us an
uncommon good bite, dis yer time."
The Mother's Struggle
It is impossible to conceive of
a human creature more wholly desolate and forlorn
than Eliza, when she turned her footsteps from Uncle
Her husband's suffering and
dangers, and the danger of her child, all blended in
her mind, with a confused and stunning sense of the
risk she was running, in leaving the only home she
had ever known, and cutting loose from the
protection of a friend whom she loved and revered.
Then there was the parting from every familiar
object,—the place where she had grown up, the trees
under which she had played, the groves where she had
walked many an evening in happier days, by the side
of her young husband,—everything, as it lay in the
clear, frosty starlight, seemed to speak
reproachfully to her, and ask her whither could she
go from a home like that?
But stronger than all was
maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm of frenzy by
the near approach of a fearful danger. Her boy was
old enough to have walked by her side, and, in an
indifferent case, she would only have led him by the
hand; but now the bare thought of putting him out of
her arms made her shudder, and she strained him to
her bosom with a convulsive grasp, as she went
The frosty ground creaked
beneath her feet, and she trembled at the sound;
every quaking leaf and fluttering shadow sent the
blood backward to her heart, and quickened her
footsteps. She wondered within herself at the
strength that seemed to be come upon her; for she
felt the weight of her boy as if it had been a
feather, and every flutter of fear seemed to
increase the supernatural power that bore her on,
while from her pale lips burst forth, in frequent
ejaculations, the prayer to a Friend above—"Lord,
help! Lord, save me!"
If it were your Harry,
mother, or your Willie, that were going to be torn
from you by a brutal trader, tomorrow morning,—if
you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were
signed and delivered, and you had only from twelve
o'clock till morning to make good your escape,—how
fast could you walk? How many miles could you
make in those few brief hours, with the darling at
your bosom,—the little sleepy head on your
shoulder,—the small, soft arms trustingly holding on
to your neck?
For the child slept. At first,
the novelty and alarm kept him waking; but his
mother so hurriedly repressed every breath or sound,
and so assured him that if he were only still she
would certainly save him, that he clung quietly
round her neck, only asking, as he found himself
sinking to sleep,
"Mother, I don't need to keep
awake, do I?"
"No, my darling; sleep, if you
"But, mother, if I do get
asleep, you won't let him get me?"
"No! so may God help me!" said
his mother, with a paler cheek, and a brighter light
in her large dark eyes.
"You're sure, an't you,
"Yes, sure!" said the
mother, in a voice that startled herself; for it
seemed to her to come from a spirit within, that was
no part of her; and the boy dropped his little weary
head on her shoulder, and was soon asleep. How the
touch of those warm arms, the gentle breathings that
came in her neck, seemed to add fire and spirit to
her movements! It seemed to her as if strength
poured into her in electric streams, from every
gentle touch and movement of the sleeping, confiding
child. Sublime is the dominion of the mind over the
body, that, for a time, can make flesh and nerve
impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so
that the weak become so mighty.
The boundaries of the farm, the
grove, the wood-lot, passed by her dizzily, as she
walked on; and still she went, leaving one familiar
object after another, slacking not, pausing not,
till reddening daylight found her many a long mile
from all traces of any familiar objects upon the
She had often been, with her
mistress, to visit some connections, in the little
village of T——, not far from the Ohio river, and
knew the road well. To go thither, to escape across
the Ohio river, were the first hurried outlines of
her plan of escape; beyond that, she could only hope
When horses and vehicles began
to move along the highway, with that alert
perception peculiar to a state of excitement, and
which seems to be a sort of inspiration, she became
aware that her headlong pace and distracted air
might bring on her remark and suspicion. She
therefore put the boy on the ground, and, adjusting
her dress and bonnet, she walked on at as rapid a
pace as she thought consistent with the preservation
of appearances. In her little bundle she had
provided a store of cakes and apples, which she used
as expedients for quickening the speed of the child,
rolling the apple some yards before them, when the
boy would run with all his might after it; and this
ruse, often repeated, carried them over many a
After a while, they came to a
thick patch of woodland, through which murmured a
clear brook. As the child complained of hunger and
thirst, she climbed over the fence with him; and,
sitting down behind a large rock which concealed
them from the road, she gave him a breakfast out of
her little package. The boy wondered and grieved
that she could not eat; and when, putting his arms
round her neck, he tried to wedge some of his cake
into her mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in
her throat would choke her.
"No, no, Harry darling! mother
can't eat till you are safe! We must go on—on—till
we come to the river!" And she hurried again into
the road, and again constrained herself to walk
regularly and composedly forward.
She was many miles past any
neighborhood where she was personally known. If she
should chance to meet any who knew her, she
reflected that the well-known kindness of the family
would be of itself a blind to suspicion, as making
it an unlikely supposition that she could be a
fugitive. As she was also so white as not to be
known as of colored lineage, without a critical
survey, and her child was white also, it was much
easier for her to pass on unsuspected.
On this presumption, she stopped
at noon at a neat farmhouse, to rest herself, and
buy some dinner for her child and self; for, as the
danger decreased with the distance, the supernatural
tension of the nervous system lessened, and she
found herself both weary and hungry.
The good woman, kindly and
gossipping, seemed rather pleased than otherwise
with having somebody come in to talk with; and
accepted, without examination, Eliza's statement,
that she "was going on a little piece, to spend a
week with her friends,"—all which she hoped in her
heart might prove strictly true.
An hour before sunset, she
entered the village of T——, by the Ohio river, weary
and foot-sore, but still strong in heart. Her first
glance was at the river, which lay, like Jordan,
between her and the Canaan of liberty on the other
It was now early spring, and the
river was swollen and turbulent; great cakes of
floating ice were swinging heavily to and fro in the
turbid waters. Owing to the peculiar form of the
shore on the Kentucky side, the land bending far out
into the water, the ice had been lodged and detained
in great quantities, and the narrow channel which
swept round the bend was full of ice, piled one cake
over another, thus forming a temporary barrier to
the descending ice, which lodged, and formed a
great, undulating raft, filling up the whole river,
and extending almost to the Kentucky shore.
Eliza stood, for a moment,
contemplating this unfavorable aspect of things,
which she saw at once must prevent the usual
ferry-boat from running, and then turned into a
small public house on the bank, to make a few
The hostess, who was busy in
various fizzing and stewing operations over the
fire, preparatory to the evening meal, stopped, with
a fork in her hand, as Eliza's sweet and plaintive
voice arrested her.
"What is it?" she said.
"Isn't there any ferry or boat,
that takes people over to B——, now?" she said.
"No, indeed!" said the woman;
"the boats has stopped running."
Eliza's look of dismay and
disappointment struck the woman, and she said,
"May be you're wanting to get
over?—anybody sick? Ye seem mighty anxious?"
"I've got a child that's very
dangerous," said Eliza. "I never heard of it till
last night, and I've walked quite a piece today, in
hopes to get to the ferry."
"Well, now, that's onlucky,"
said the woman, whose motherly sympathies were much
aroused; "I'm re'lly consarned for ye. Solomon!" she
called, from the window, towards a small back
building. A man, in leather apron and very dirty
hands, appeared at the door.
"I say, Sol," said the woman,
"is that ar man going to tote them bar'ls over
"He said he should try, if 't
was any way prudent," said the man.
"There's a man a piece down
here, that's going over with some truck this
evening, if he durs' to; he'll be in here to supper
tonight, so you'd better set down and wait. That's a
sweet little fellow," added the woman, offering him
But the child, wholly exhausted,
cried with weariness.
"Poor fellow! he isn't used to
walking, and I've hurried him on so," said Eliza.
"Well, take him into this room,"
said the woman, opening into a small bed-room, where
stood a comfortable bed. Eliza laid the weary boy
upon it, and held his hands in hers till he was fast
asleep. For her there was no rest. As a fire in her
bones, the thought of the pursuer urged her on; and
she gazed with longing eyes on the sullen, surging
waters that lay between her and liberty.
Here we must take our leave of
her for the present, to follow the course of her
Though Mrs. Shelby had promised
that the dinner should be hurried on table, yet it
was soon seen, as the thing has often been seen
before, that it required more than one to make a
bargain. So, although the order was fairly given out
in Haley's hearing, and carried to Aunt Chloe by at
least half a dozen juvenile messengers, that
dignitary only gave certain very gruff snorts, and
tosses of her head, and went on with every operation
in an unusually leisurely and circumstantial manner.
For some singular reason, an
impression seemed to reign among the servants
generally that Missis would not be particularly
disobliged by delay; and it was wonderful what a
number of counter accidents occurred constantly, to
retard the course of things. One luckless wight
contrived to upset the gravy; and then gravy had to
be got up de novo, with due care and
formality, Aunt Chloe watching and stirring with
dogged precision, answering shortly, to all
suggestions of haste, that she "warn't a going to
have raw gravy on the table, to help nobody's
catchings." One tumbled down with the water, and had
to go to the spring for more; and another
precipitated the butter into the path of events; and
there was from time to time giggling news brought
into the kitchen that "Mas'r Haley was mighty
oneasy, and that he couldn't sit in his cheer no
ways, but was a walkin' and stalkin' to the winders
and through the porch."
"Sarves him right!" said Aunt
Chloe, indignantly. "He'll get wus nor oneasy, one
of these days, if he don't mend his ways. His
master'll be sending for him, and then see how he'll
"He'll go to torment, and no
mistake," said little Jake.
"He desarves it!" said Aunt
Chloe, grimly; "he's broke a many, many, many
hearts,—I tell ye all!" she said, stopping, with a
fork uplifted in her hands; "it's like what Mas'r
George reads in Ravelations,—souls a callin' under
the altar! and a callin' on the Lord for vengeance
on sich!—and by and by the Lord he'll hear 'em—so he
Aunt Chloe, who was much revered
in the kitchen, was listened to with open mouth;
and, the dinner being now fairly sent in, the whole
kitchen was at leisure to gossip with her, and to
listen to her remarks.
"Sich'll be burnt up forever,
and no mistake; won't ther?" said Andy.
"I'd be glad to see it, I'll be
boun'," said little Jake.
"Chil'en!" said a voice, that
made them all start. It was Uncle Tom, who had come
in, and stood listening to the conversation at the
"Chil'en!" he said, "I'm afeard
you don't know what ye're sayin'. Forever is a
dre'ful word, chil'en; it's awful to think on
't. You oughtenter wish that ar to any human
"We wouldn't to anybody but the
soul-drivers," said Andy; "nobody can help wishing
it to them, they 's so awful wicked."
"Don't natur herself kinder cry
out on 'em?" said Aunt Chloe. "Don't dey tear der
suckin' baby right off his mother's breast, and sell
him, and der little children as is crying and
holding on by her clothes,—don't dey pull 'em off
and sells 'em? Don't dey tear wife and husband
apart?" said Aunt Chloe, beginning to cry, "when
it's jest takin' the very life on 'em?—and all the
while does they feel one bit, don't dey drink and
smoke, and take it oncommon easy? Lor, if the devil
don't get them, what's he good for?" And Aunt Chloe
covered her face with her checked apron, and began
to sob in good earnest.
"Pray for them that 'spitefully
use you, the good book says," says Tom.
"Pray for 'em!" said Aunt Chloe;
"Lor, it's too tough! I can't pray for 'em."
"It's natur, Chloe, and natur 's
strong," said Tom, "but the Lord's grace is
stronger; besides, you oughter think what an awful
state a poor crittur's soul 's in that'll do them ar
things,—you oughter thank God that you an't like
him, Chloe. I'm sure I'd rather be sold, ten
thousand times over, than to have all that ar poor
crittur's got to answer for."
"So 'd I, a heap," said Jake.
"Lor, shouldn't we cotch it, Andy?"
Andy shrugged his shoulders, and
gave an acquiescent whistle.
"I'm glad Mas'r didn't go off
this morning, as he looked to," said Tom; "that ar
hurt me more than sellin', it did. Mebbe it might
have been natural for him, but 't would have come
desp't hard on me, as has known him from a baby; but
I've seen Mas'r, and I begin ter feel sort o'
reconciled to the Lord's will now. Mas'r couldn't
help hisself; he did right, but I'm feared things
will be kinder goin' to rack, when I'm gone Mas'r
can't be spected to be a pryin' round everywhar, as
I've done, a keepin' up all the ends. The boys all
means well, but they 's powerful car'less. That ar
The bell here rang, and Tom was
summoned to the parlor.
"Tom," said his master, kindly,
"I want you to notice that I give this gentleman
bonds to forfeit a thousand dollars if you are not
on the spot when he wants you; he's going today to
look after his other business, and you can have the
day to yourself. Go anywhere you like, boy."
"Thank you, Mas'r," said Tom.
"And mind yourself," said the
trader, "and don't come it over your master with any
o' yer nigger tricks; for I'll take every cent out
of him, if you an't thar. If he'd hear to me, he
wouldn't trust any on ye—slippery as eels!"
"Mas'r," said Tom,—and he stood
very straight,—"I was jist eight years old when ole
Missis put you into my arms, and you wasn't a year
old. 'Thar,' says she, 'Tom, that's to be your
young Mas'r; take good care on him,' says she. And
now I jist ask you, Mas'r, have I ever broke word to
you, or gone contrary to you, 'specially since I was
Mr. Shelby was fairly overcome,
and the tears rose to his eyes.
"My good boy," said he, "the
Lord knows you say but the truth; and if I was able
to help it, all the world shouldn't buy you."
"And sure as I am a Christian
woman," said Mrs. Shelby, "you shall be redeemed as
soon as I can any bring together means. Sir," she
said to Haley, "take good account of who you sell
him to, and let me know."
"Lor, yes, for that matter,"
said the trader, "I may bring him up in a year, not
much the wuss for wear, and trade him back."
"I'll trade with you then, and
make it for your advantage," said Mrs. Shelby.
"Of course," said the trader,
"all 's equal with me; li'ves trade 'em up as down,
so I does a good business. All I want is a livin',
you know, ma'am; that's all any on us wants, I,
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt
annoyed and degraded by the familiar impudence of
the trader, and yet both saw the absolute necessity
of putting a constraint on their feelings. The more
hopelessly sordid and insensible he appeared, the
greater became Mrs. Shelby's dread of his succeeding
in recapturing Eliza and her child, and of course
the greater her motive for detaining him by every
female artifice. She therefore graciously smiled,
assented, chatted familiarly, and did all she could
to make time pass imperceptibly.
At two o'clock Sam and Andy
brought the horses up to the posts, apparently
greatly refreshed and invigorated by the scamper of
Sam was there new oiled from
dinner, with an abundance of zealous and ready
officiousness. As Haley approached, he was boasting,
in flourishing style, to Andy, of the evident and
eminent success of the operation, now that he had
"farly come to it."
"Your master, I s'pose, don't
keep no dogs," said Haley, thoughtfully, as he
prepared to mount.
"Heaps on 'em," said Sam,
triumphantly; "thar's Bruno—he's a roarer! and,
besides that, 'bout every nigger of us keeps a pup
of some natur or uther."
"Poh!" said Haley,—and he said
something else, too, with regard to the said dogs,
at which Sam muttered,
"I don't see no use cussin' on
'em, no way."
"But your master don't keep no
dogs (I pretty much know he don't) for trackin' out
Sam knew exactly what he meant,
but he kept on a look of earnest and desperate
"Our dogs all smells round
considable sharp. I spect they's the kind, though
they han't never had no practice. They 's far
dogs, though, at most anything, if you'd get 'em
started. Here, Bruno," he called, whistling to the
lumbering Newfoundland, who came pitching
tumultuously toward them.
"You go hang!" said Haley,
getting up. "Come, tumble up now."
Sam tumbled up accordingly,
dexterously contriving to tickle Andy as he did so,
which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh,
greatly to Haley's indignation, who made a cut at
him with his riding-whip.
"I 's 'stonished at yer, Andy,"
said Sam, with awful gravity. "This yer's a seris
bisness, Andy. Yer mustn't be a makin' game. This
yer an't no way to help Mas'r."
"I shall take the straight road
to the river," said Haley, decidedly, after they had
come to the boundaries of the estate. "I know the
way of all of 'em,—they makes tracks for the
"Sartin," said Sam, "dat's de
idee. Mas'r Haley hits de thing right in de middle.
Now, der's two roads to de river,—de dirt road and
der pike,—which Mas'r mean to take?"
Andy looked up innocently at
Sam, surprised at hearing this new geographical
fact, but instantly confirmed what he said, by a
"Cause," said Sam, "I'd rather
be 'clined to 'magine that Lizy 'd take de dirt
road, bein' it's the least travelled."
Haley, notwithstanding that he
was a very old bird, and naturally inclined to be
suspicious of chaff, was rather brought up by this
view of the case.
"If yer warn't both on yer such
cussed liars, now!" he said, contemplatively as he
pondered a moment.
The pensive, reflective tone in
which this was spoken appeared to amuse Andy
prodigiously, and he drew a little behind, and shook
so as apparently to run a great risk of failing off
his horse, while Sam's face was immovably composed
into the most doleful gravity.
"Course," said Sam, "Mas'r can
do as he'd ruther, go de straight road, if Mas'r
thinks best,—it's all one to us. Now, when I study
'pon it, I think de straight road de best,
"She would naturally go a
lonesome way," said Haley, thinking aloud, and not
minding Sam's remark.
"Dar an't no sayin'," said Sam;
"gals is pecular; they never does nothin' ye thinks
they will; mose gen'lly the contrary. Gals is
nat'lly made contrary; and so, if you thinks they've
gone one road, it is sartin you'd better go t'
other, and then you'll be sure to find 'em. Now, my
private 'pinion is, Lizy took der road; so I think
we'd better take de straight one."
This profound generic view of
the female sex did not seem to dispose Haley
particularly to the straight road, and he announced
decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam
when they should come to it.
"A little piece ahead," said
Sam, giving a wink to Andy with the eye which was on
Andy's side of the head; and he added, gravely, "but
I've studded on de matter, and I'm quite clar we
ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no
way. It's despit lonesome, and we might lose our
way,—whar we'd come to, de Lord only knows."
"Nevertheless," said Haley, "I
shall go that way."
"Now I think on 't, I think I
hearn 'em tell that dat ar road was all fenced up
and down by der creek, and thar, an't it, Andy?"
Andy wasn't certain; he'd only
"hearn tell" about that road, but never been over
it. In short, he was strictly noncommittal.
Haley, accustomed to strike the
balance of probabilities between lies of greater or
lesser magnitude, thought that it lay in favor of
the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he
thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam's part
at first, and his confused attempts to dissuade him
he set down to a desperate lying on second thoughts,
as being unwilling to implicate Liza.
When, therefore, Sam indicated
the road, Haley plunged briskly into it, followed by
Sam and Andy.
Now, the road, in fact, was an
old one, that had formerly been a thoroughfare to
the river, but abandoned for many years after the
laying of the new pike. It was open for about an
hour's ride, and after that it was cut across by
various farms and fences. Sam knew this fact
perfectly well,—indeed, the road had been so long
closed up, that Andy had never heard of it. He
therefore rode along with an air of dutiful
submission, only groaning and vociferating
occasionally that 't was "desp't rough, and bad for
"Now, I jest give yer warning,"
said Haley, "I know yer; yer won't get me to turn
off this road, with all yer fussin'—so you shet up!"
"Mas'r will go his own way!"
said Sam, with rueful submission, at the same time
winking most portentously to Andy, whose delight was
now very near the explosive point.
Sam was in wonderful
spirits,—professed to keep a very brisk lookout,—at
one time exclaiming that he saw "a gal's bonnet" on
the top of some distant eminence, or calling to Andy
"if that thar wasn't 'Lizy' down in the hollow;"
always making these exclamations in some rough or
craggy part of the road, where the sudden quickening
of speed was a special inconvenience to all parties
concerned, and thus keeping Haley in a state of
After riding about an hour in
this way, the whole party made a precipitate and
tumultuous descent into a barn-yard belonging to a
large farming establishment. Not a soul was in
sight, all the hands being employed in the fields;
but, as the barn stood conspicuously and plainly
square across the road, it was evident that their
journey in that direction had reached a decided
"Wan't dat ar what I telled
Mas'r?" said Sam, with an air of injured innocence.
"How does strange gentleman spect to know more about
a country dan de natives born and raised?"
"You rascal!" said Haley, "you
knew all about this."
"Didn't I tell yer I knowd,
and yer wouldn't believe me? I telled Mas'r 't was
all shet up, and fenced up, and I didn't spect we
could get through,—Andy heard me."
It was all too true to be
disputed, and the unlucky man had to pocket his
wrath with the best grace he was able, and all three
faced to the right about, and took up their line of
march for the highway.
In consequence of all the
various delays, it was about three-quarters of an
hour after Eliza had laid her child to sleep in the
village tavern that the party came riding into the
same place. Eliza was standing by the window,
looking out in another direction, when Sam's quick
eye caught a glimpse of her. Haley and Andy were two
yards behind. At this crisis, Sam contrived to have
his hat blown off, and uttered a loud and
characteristic ejaculation, which startled her at
once; she drew suddenly back; the whole train swept
by the window, round to the front door.
A thousand lives seemed to be
concentrated in that one moment to Eliza. Her room
opened by a side door to the river. She caught her
child, and sprang down the steps towards it. The
trader caught a full glimpse of her just as she was
disappearing down the bank; and throwing himself
from his horse, and calling loudly on Sam and Andy,
he was after her like a hound after a deer. In that
dizzy moment her feet to her scarce seemed to touch
the ground, and a moment brought her to the water's
edge. Right on behind they came; and, nerved with
strength such as God gives only to the desperate,
with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted sheer
over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft
of ice beyond. It was a desperate leap—impossible to
anything but madness and despair; and Haley, Sam,
and Andy, instinctively cried out, and lifted up
their hands, as she did it.
The huge green fragment of ice
on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her
weight came on it, but she staid there not a moment.
With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to
another and still another cake;
stumbling—leaping—slipping—springing upwards again!
Her shoes are gone—her stockings cut from her
feet—while blood marked every step; but she saw
nothing, felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream,
she saw the Ohio side, and a man helping her up the
"Yer a brave gal, now, whoever
ye ar!" said the man, with an oath.
Eliza recognized the voice and
face for a man who owned a farm not far from her old
"O, Mr. Symmes!—save me—do save
me—do hide me!" said Elia.
"Why, what's this?" said the
man. "Why, if 'tan't Shelby's gal!"
"My child!—this boy!—he'd sold
him! There is his Mas'r," said she, pointing to the
Kentucky shore. "O, Mr. Symmes, you've got a little
"So I have," said the man, as he
roughly, but kindly, drew her up the steep bank.
"Besides, you're a right brave gal. I like grit,
wherever I see it."
When they had gained the top of
the bank, the man paused.
"I'd be glad to do something for
ye," said he; "but then there's nowhar I could take
ye. The best I can do is to tell ye to go thar,"
said he, pointing to a large white house which stood
by itself, off the main street of the village. "Go
thar; they're kind folks. Thar's no kind o' danger
but they'll help you,—they're up to all that sort o'
"The Lord bless you!" said
"No 'casion, no 'casion in the
world," said the man. "What I've done's of no
"And, oh, surely, sir, you won't
tell any one!"
"Go to thunder, gal! What do you
take a feller for? In course not," said the man.
"Come, now, go along like a likely, sensible gal, as
you are. You've arnt your liberty, and you shall
have it, for all me."
The woman folded her child to
her bosom, and walked firmly and swiftly away. The
man stood and looked after her.
"Shelby, now, mebbe won't think
this yer the most neighborly thing in the world; but
what's a feller to do? If he catches one of my gals
in the same fix, he's welcome to pay back. Somehow I
never could see no kind o' critter a strivin' and
pantin', and trying to clar theirselves, with the
dogs arter 'em and go agin 'em. Besides, I don't see
no kind of 'casion for me to be hunter and catcher
for other folks, neither."
So spoke this poor, heathenish
Kentuckian, who had not been instructed in his
constitutional relations, and consequently was
betrayed into acting in a sort of Christianized
manner, which, if he had been better situated and
more enlightened, he would not have been left to do.
Haley had stood a perfectly
amazed spectator of the scene, till Eliza had
disappeared up the bank, when he turned a blank,
inquiring look on Sam and Andy.
"That ar was a tolable fair
stroke of business," said Sam.
"The gal 's got seven devils in
her, I believe!" said Haley. "How like a wildcat she
"Wal, now," said Sam, scratching
his head, "I hope Mas'r'll 'scuse us trying dat ar
road. Don't think I feel spry enough for dat ar, no
way!" and Sam gave a hoarse chuckle.
"You laugh!" said the
trader, with a growl.
"Lord bless you, Mas'r, I
couldn't help it now," said Sam, giving way to the
long pent-up delight of his soul. "She looked so
curi's, a leapin' and springin'—ice a crackin'—and
only to hear her,—plump! ker chunk! ker splash!
Spring! Lord! how she goes it!" and Sam and Andy
laughed till the tears rolled down their cheeks.
"I'll make ye laugh t' other
side yer mouths!" said the trader, laying about
their heads with his riding-whip.
Both ducked, and ran shouting up
the bank, and were on their horses before he was up.
"Good-evening, Mas'r!" said Sam,
with much gravity. "I berry much spect Missis be
anxious 'bout Jerry. Mas'r Haley won't want us no
longer. Missis wouldn't hear of our ridin' the
critters over Lizy's bridge tonight;" and, with a
facetious poke into Andy's ribs, he started off,
followed by the latter, at full speed,—their shouts
of laughter coming faintly on the wind.
Eliza made her desperate retreat
across the river just in the dusk of twilight. The
gray mist of evening, rising slowly from the river,
enveloped her as she disappeared up the bank, and
the swollen current and floundering masses of ice
presented a hopeless barrier between her and her
pursuer. Haley therefore slowly and discontentedly
returned to the little tavern, to ponder further
what was to be done. The woman opened to him the
door of a little parlor, covered with a rag carpet,
where stood a table with a very shining black
oil-cloth, sundry lank, high-backed wood chairs,
with some plaster images in resplendent colors on
the mantel-shelf, above a very dimly-smoking grate;
a long hard-wood settle extended its uneasy length
by the chimney, and here Haley sat him down to
meditate on the instability of human hopes and
happiness in general.
"What did I want with the little
cuss, now," he said to himself, "that I should have
got myself treed like a coon, as I am, this yer
way?" and Haley relieved himself by repeating over a
not very select litany of imprecations on himself,
which, though there was the best possible reason to
consider them as true, we shall, as a matter of
He was startled by the loud and
dissonant voice of a man who was apparently
dismounting at the door. He hurried to the window.
"By the land! if this yer an't
the nearest, now, to what I've heard folks call
Providence," said Haley. "I do b'lieve that ar's Tom
Haley hastened out. Standing by
the bar, in the corner of the room, was a brawny,
muscular man, full six feet in height, and broad in
proportion. He was dressed in a coat of
buffalo-skin, made with the hair outward, which gave
him a shaggy and fierce appearance, perfectly in
keeping with the whole air of his physiognomy. In
the head and face every organ and lineament
expressive of brutal and unhesitating violence was
in a state of the highest possible development.
Indeed, could our readers fancy a bull-dog come unto
man's estate, and walking about in a hat and coat,
they would have no unapt idea of the general style
and effect of his physique. He was accompanied by a
travelling companion, in many respects an exact
contrast to himself. He was short and slender, lithe
and catlike in his motions, and had a peering,
mousing expression about his keen black eyes, with
which every feature of his face seemed sharpened
into sympathy; his thin, long nose, ran out as if it
was eager to bore into the nature of things in
general; his sleek, thin, black hair was stuck
eagerly forward, and all his motions and evolutions
expressed a dry, cautious acuteness. The great man
poured out a big tumbler half full of raw spirits,
and gulped it down without a word. The little man
stood tiptoe, and putting his head first to one side
and then the other, and snuffing considerately in
the directions of the various bottles, ordered at
last a mint julep, in a thin and quivering voice,
and with an air of great circumspection. When poured
out, he took it and looked at it with a sharp,
complacent air, like a man who thinks he has done
about the right thing, and hit the nail on the head,
and proceeded to dispose of it in short and
"Wal, now, who'd a thought this
yer luck 'ad come to me? Why, Loker, how are ye?"
said Haley, coming forward, and extending his hand
to the big man.
"The devil!" was the civil
reply. "What brought you here, Haley?"
The mousing man, who bore the
name of Marks, instantly stopped his sipping, and,
poking his head forward, looked shrewdly on the new
acquaintance, as a cat sometimes looks at a moving
dry leaf, or some other possible object of pursuit.
"I say, Tom, this yer's the
luckiest thing in the world. I'm in a devil of a
hobble, and you must help me out."
"Ugh? aw! like enough!" grunted
his complacent acquaintance. "A body may be pretty
sure of that, when you're glad to see 'em;
something to be made off of 'em. What's the blow
"You've got a friend here?" said
Haley, looking doubtfully at Marks; "partner,
"Yes, I have. Here, Marks!
here's that ar feller that I was in with in
"Shall be pleased with his
acquaintance," said Marks, thrusting out a long,
thin hand, like a raven's claw. "Mr. Haley, I
"The same, sir," said Haley.
"And now, gentlemen, seein' as we've met so happily,
I think I'll stand up to a small matter of a treat
in this here parlor. So, now, old coon," said he to
the man at the bar, "get us hot water, and sugar,
and cigars, and plenty of the real stuff and
we'll have a blow-out."
Behold, then, the candles
lighted, the fire stimulated to the burning point in
the grate, and our three worthies seated round a
table, well spread with all the accessories to good
fellowship enumerated before.
Haley began a pathetic recital
of his peculiar troubles. Loker shut up his mouth,
and listened to him with gruff and surly attention.
Marks, who was anxiously and with much fidgeting
compounding a tumbler of punch to his own peculiar
taste, occasionally looked up from his employment,
and, poking his sharp nose and chin almost into
Haley's face, gave the most earnest heed to the
whole narrative. The conclusion of it appeared to
amuse him extremely, for he shook his shoulders and
sides in silence, and perked up his thin lips with
an air of great internal enjoyment.
"So, then, ye'r fairly sewed up,
an't ye?" he said; "he! he! he! It's neatly done,
"This yer young-un business
makes lots of trouble in the trade," said Haley,
"If we could get a breed of gals
that didn't care, now, for their young uns," said
Marks; "tell ye, I think 't would be 'bout the
greatest mod'rn improvement I knows on,"—and Marks
patronized his joke by a quiet introductory sniggle.
"Jes so," said Haley; "I never
couldn't see into it; young uns is heaps of trouble
to 'em; one would think, now, they'd be glad to get
clar on 'em; but they arn't. And the more trouble a
young un is, and the more good for nothing, as a
gen'l thing, the tighter they sticks to 'em."
"Wal, Mr. Haley," said Marks,
"'est pass the hot water. Yes, sir, you say 'est
what I feel and all'us have. Now, I bought a gal
once, when I was in the trade,—a tight, likely wench
she was, too, and quite considerable smart,—and she
had a young un that was mis'able sickly; it had a
crooked back, or something or other; and I jest gin
't away to a man that thought he'd take his chance
raising on 't, being it didn't cost nothin';—never
thought, yer know, of the gal's takin' on about
it,—but, Lord, yer oughter seen how she went on.
Why, re'lly, she did seem to me to valley the child
more 'cause 't was sickly and cross, and
plagued her; and she warn't making b'lieve,
neither,—cried about it, she did, and lopped round,
as if she'd lost every friend she had. It re'lly was
droll to think on 't. Lord, there ain't no end to
"Wal, jest so with me," said
Haley. "Last summer, down on Red River, I got a gal
traded off on me, with a likely lookin' child
enough, and his eyes looked as bright as yourn; but,
come to look, I found him stone blind. Fact—he was
stone blind. Wal, ye see, I thought there warn't no
harm in my jest passing him along, and not sayin'
nothin'; and I'd got him nicely swapped off for a
keg o' whiskey; but come to get him away from the
gal, she was jest like a tiger. So 't was before we
started, and I hadn't got my gang chained up; so
what should she do but ups on a cotton-bale, like a
cat, ketches a knife from one of the deck hands,
and, I tell ye, she made all fly for a minit, till
she saw 't wan't no use; and she jest turns round,
and pitches head first, young un and all, into the
river,—went down plump, and never ris."
"Bah!" said Tom Loker, who had
listened to these stories with ill-repressed
disgust,—"shif'less, both on ye! my gals
don't cut up no such shines, I tell ye!"
"Indeed! how do you help it?"
said Marks, briskly.
"Help it? why, I buys a gal, and
if she's got a young un to be sold, I jest walks up
and puts my fist to her face, and says, 'Look here,
now, if you give me one word out of your head, I'll
smash yer face in. I won't hear one word—not the
beginning of a word.' I says to 'em, 'This yer young
un's mine, and not yourn, and you've no kind o'
business with it. I'm going to sell it, first
chance; mind, you don't cut up none o' yer shines
about it, or I'll make ye wish ye'd never been
born.' I tell ye, they sees it an't no play, when I
gets hold. I makes 'em as whist as fishes; and if
one on 'em begins and gives a yelp, why,—" and Mr.
Loker brought down his fist with a thump that fully
explained the hiatus.
"That ar's what ye may call
emphasis," said Marks, poking Haley in the side,
and going into another small giggle. "An't Tom
peculiar? he! he! I say, Tom, I s'pect you make 'em
understand, for all niggers' heads is woolly.
They don't never have no doubt o' your meaning, Tom.
If you an't the devil, Tom, you 's his twin brother,
I'll say that for ye!"
Tom received the compliment with
becoming modesty, and began to look as affable as
was consistent, as John Bunyan says, "with his
Haley, who had been imbibing
very freely of the staple of the evening, began to
feel a sensible elevation and enlargement of his
moral faculties,—a phenomenon not unusual with
gentlemen of a serious and reflective turn, under
"Wal, now, Tom," he said, "ye
re'lly is too bad, as I al'ays have told ye; ye
know, Tom, you and I used to talk over these yer
matters down in Natchez, and I used to prove to ye
that we made full as much, and was as well off for
this yer world, by treatin' on 'em well, besides
keepin' a better chance for comin' in the kingdom at
last, when wust comes to wust, and thar an't nothing
else left to get, ye know."
"Boh!" said Tom, "don't I
know?—don't make me too sick with any yer stuff,—my
stomach is a leetle riled now;" and Tom drank half a
glass of raw brandy.
"I say," said Haley, and leaning
back in his chair and gesturing impressively, "I'll
say this now, I al'ays meant to drive my trade so as
to make money on 't fust and foremost, as
much as any man; but, then, trade an't everything,
and money an't everything, 'cause we 's all got
souls. I don't care, now, who hears me say it,—and I
think a cussed sight on it,—so I may as well come
out with it. I b'lieve in religion, and one of these
days, when I've got matters tight and snug, I
calculates to tend to my soul and them ar matters;
and so what's the use of doin' any more wickedness
than 's re'lly necessary?—it don't seem to me it's
't all prudent."
"Tend to yer soul!" repeated
Tom, contemptuously; "take a bright lookout to find
a soul in you,—save yourself any care on that score.
If the devil sifts you through a hair sieve, he
won't find one."
"Why, Tom, you're cross," said
Haley; "why can't ye take it pleasant, now, when a
feller's talking for your good?"
"Stop that ar jaw o' yourn,
there," said Tom, gruffly. "I can stand most any
talk o' yourn but your pious talk,—that kills me
right up. After all, what's the odds between me and
you? 'Tan't that you care one bit more, or have a
bit more feelin'—it's clean, sheer, dog meanness,
wanting to cheat the devil and save your own skin;
don't I see through it? And your 'gettin' religion,'
as you call it, arter all, is too p'isin mean for
any crittur;—run up a bill with the devil all your
life, and then sneak out when pay time comes! Bob!"
"Come, come, gentlemen, I say;
this isn't business," said Marks. "There's different
ways, you know, of looking at all subjects. Mr.
Haley is a very nice man, no doubt, and has his own
conscience; and, Tom, you have your ways, and very
good ones, too, Tom; but quarrelling, you know,
won't answer no kind of purpose. Let's go to
business. Now, Mr. Haley, what is it?—you want us to
undertake to catch this yer gal?"
"The gal's no matter of
mine,—she's Shelby's; it's only the boy. I was a
fool for buying the monkey!"
"You're generally a fool!" said
"Come, now, Loker, none of your
huffs," said Marks, licking his lips; "you see, Mr.
Haley 's a puttin' us in a way of a good job, I
reckon; just hold still—these yer arrangements is my
forte. This yer gal, Mr. Haley, how is she? what is
"Wal! white and handsome—well
brought up. I'd a gin Shelby eight hundred or a
thousand, and then made well on her."
"White and handsome—well brought
up!" said Marks, his sharp eyes, nose and mouth, all
alive with enterprise. "Look here, now, Loker, a
beautiful opening. We'll do a business here on our
own account;—we does the catchin'; the boy, of
course, goes to Mr. Haley,—we takes the gal to
Orleans to speculate on. An't it beautiful?"
Tom, whose great heavy mouth had
stood ajar during this communication, now suddenly
snapped it together, as a big dog closes on a piece
of meat, and seemed to be digesting the idea at his
"Ye see," said Marks to Haley,
stirring his punch as he did so, "ye see, we has
justices convenient at all p'ints along shore, that
does up any little jobs in our line quite
reasonable. Tom, he does the knockin' down and that
ar; and I come in all dressed up—shining
boots—everything first chop, when the swearin' 's to
be done. You oughter see, now," said Marks, in a
glow of professional pride, "how I can tone it off.
One day, I'm Mr. Twickem, from New Orleans; 'nother
day, I'm just come from my plantation on Pearl
River, where I works seven hundred niggers; then,
again, I come out a distant relation of Henry Clay,
or some old cock in Kentuck. Talents is different,
you know. Now, Tom's roarer when there's any
thumping or fighting to be done; but at lying he
an't good, Tom an't,—ye see it don't come natural to
him; but, Lord, if thar's a feller in the country
that can swear to anything and everything, and put
in all the circumstances and flourishes with a long
face, and carry 't through better 'n I can, why, I'd
like to see him, that's all! I b'lieve my heart, I
could get along and snake through, even if justices
were more particular than they is. Sometimes I
rather wish they was more particular; 't would be a
heap more relishin' if they was,—more fun, yer
Tom Loker, who, as we have made
it appear, was a man of slow thoughts and movements,
here interrupted Marks by bringing his heavy fist
down on the table, so as to make all ring again,
"It'll do!" he said.
"Lord bless ye, Tom, ye needn't
break all the glasses!" said Marks; "save your fist
for time o' need."
"But, gentlemen, an't I to come
in for a share of the profits?" said Haley.
"An't it enough we catch the boy
for ye?" said Loker. "What do ye want?"
"Wal," said Haley, "if I gives
you the job, it's worth something,—say ten per cent.
on the profits, expenses paid."
"Now," said Loker, with a
tremendous oath, and striking the table with his
heavy fist, "don't I know you, Dan Haley?
Don't you think to come it over me! Suppose Marks
and I have taken up the catchin' trade, jest to
'commodate gentlemen like you, and get nothin' for
ourselves?—Not by a long chalk! we'll have the gal
out and out, and you keep quiet, or, ye see, we'll
have both,—what's to hinder? Han't you show'd us the
game? It's as free to us as you, I hope. If you or
Shelby wants to chase us, look where the partridges
was last year; if you find them or us, you're quite
"O, wal, certainly, jest let it
go at that," said Haley, alarmed; "you catch the boy
for the job;—you allers did trade far with
me, Tom, and was up to yer word."
"Ye know that," said Tom; "I
don't pretend none of your snivelling ways, but I
won't lie in my 'counts with the devil himself. What
I ses I'll do, I will do,—you know that, Dan
"Jes so, jes so,—I said so,
Tom," said Haley; "and if you'd only promise to have
the boy for me in a week, at any point you'll name,
that's all I want."
"But it an't all I want, by a
long jump," said Tom. "Ye don't think I did business
with you, down in Natchez, for nothing, Haley; I've
learned to hold an eel, when I catch him. You've got
to fork over fifty dollars, flat down, or this child
don't start a peg. I know yer."
"Why, when you have a job in
hand that may bring a clean profit of somewhere
about a thousand or sixteen hundred, why, Tom,
you're onreasonable," said Haley.
"Yes, and hasn't we business
booked for five weeks to come,—all we can do? And
suppose we leaves all, and goes to bush-whacking
round arter yer young uns, and finally doesn't catch
the gal,—and gals allers is the devil to
catch,—what's then? would you pay us a cent—would
you? I think I see you a doin' it—ugh! No, no; flap
down your fifty. If we get the job, and it pays,
I'll hand it back; if we don't, it's for our
trouble,—that's far, an't it, Marks?"
"Certainly, certainly," said
Marks, with a conciliatory tone; "it's only a
retaining fee, you see,—he! he! he!—we lawyers, you
know. Wal, we must all keep good-natured,—keep easy,
yer know. Tom'll have the boy for yer, anywhere
ye'll name; won't ye, Tom?"
"If I find the young un, I'll
bring him on to Cincinnati, and leave him at Granny
Belcher's, on the landing," said Loker.
Marks had got from his pocket a
greasy pocket-book, and taking a long paper from
thence, he sat down, and fixing his keen black eyes
on it, began mumbling over its contents:
"Barnes—Shelby County—boy Jim, three hundred dollars
for him, dead or alive.
"Edwards—Dick and Lucy—man and
wife, six hundred dollars; wench Polly and two
children—six hundred for her or her head.
"I'm jest a runnin' over our
business, to see if we can take up this yer handily.
Loker," he said, after a pause, "we must set Adams
and Springer on the track of these yer; they've been
booked some time."
"They'll charge too much," said
"I'll manage that ar; they 's
young in the business, and must spect to work
cheap," said Marks, as he continued to read. "Ther's
three on 'em easy cases, 'cause all you've got to do
is to shoot 'em, or swear they is shot; they
couldn't, of course, charge much for that. Them
other cases," he said, folding the paper, "will bear
puttin' off a spell. So now let's come to the
particulars. Now, Mr. Haley, you saw this yer gal
when she landed?"
"To be sure,—plain as I see
"And a man helpin' on her up the
bank?" said Loker.
"To be sure, I did."
"Most likely," said Marks,
"she's took in somewhere; but where, 's a question.
Tom, what do you say?"
"We must cross the river
tonight, no mistake," said Tom.
"But there's no boat about,"
said Marks. "The ice is running awfully, Tom; an't
"Don'no nothing 'bout that,—only
it's got to be done," said Tom, decidedly.
"Dear me," said Marks,
fidgeting, "it'll be—I say," he said, walking to the
window, "it's dark as a wolf's mouth, and, Tom—"
"The long and short is, you're
scared, Marks; but I can't help that,—you've got to
go. Suppose you want to lie by a day or two, till
the gal 's been carried on the underground line up
to Sandusky or so, before you start."
"O, no; I an't a grain afraid,"
said Marks, "only—"
"Only what?" said Tom.
"Well, about the boat. Yer see
there an't any boat."
"I heard the woman say there was
one coming along this evening, and that a man was
going to cross over in it. Neck or nothing, we must
go with him," said Tom.
"I s'pose you've got good dogs,"
"First rate," said Marks. "But
what's the use? you han't got nothin' o' hers to
"Yes, I have," said Haley,
triumphantly. "Here's her shawl she left on the bed
in her hurry; she left her bonnet, too."
"That ar's lucky," said Loker;
"Though the dogs might damage
the gal, if they come on her unawars," said Haley.
"That ar's a consideration,"
said Marks. "Our dogs tore a feller half to pieces,
once, down in Mobile, 'fore we could get 'em off."
"Well, ye see, for this sort
that's to be sold for their looks, that ar won't
answer, ye see," said Haley.
"I do see," said Marks.
"Besides, if she's got took in, 'tan't no go,
neither. Dogs is no 'count in these yer up states
where these critters gets carried; of course, ye
can't get on their track. They only does down in
plantations, where niggers, when they runs, has to
do their own running, and don't get no help."
"Well," said Loker, who had just
stepped out to the bar to make some inquiries, "they
say the man's come with the boat; so, Marks—"
That worthy cast a rueful look
at the comfortable quarters he was leaving, but
slowly rose to obey. After exchanging a few words of
further arrangement, Haley, with visible reluctance,
handed over the fifty dollars to Tom, and the worthy
trio separated for the night.
If any of our refined and
Christian readers object to the society into which
this scene introduces them, let us beg them to begin
and conquer their prejudices in time. The catching
business, we beg to remind them, is rising to the
dignity of a lawful and patriotic profession. If all
the broad land between the Mississippi and the
Pacific becomes one great market for bodies and
souls, and human property retains the locomotive
tendencies of this nineteenth century, the trader
and catcher may yet be among our aristocracy.
While this scene was going on at
the tavern, Sam and Andy, in a state of high
felicitation, pursued their way home.
Sam was in the highest possible
feather, and expressed his exultation by all sorts
of supernatural howls and ejaculations, by divers
odd motions and contortions of his whole system.
Sometimes he would sit backward, with his face to
the horse's tail and sides, and then, with a whoop
and a somerset, come right side up in his place
again, and, drawing on a grave face, begin to
lecture Andy in high-sounding tones for laughing and
playing the fool. Anon, slapping his sides with his
arms, he would burst forth in peals of laughter,
that made the old woods ring as they passed. With
all these evolutions, he contrived to keep the
horses up to the top of their speed, until, between
ten and eleven, their heels resounded on the gravel
at the end of the balcony. Mrs. Shelby flew to the
"Is that you, Sam? Where are
"Mas'r Haley 's a-restin' at the
tavern; he's drefful fatigued, Missis."
"And Eliza, Sam?"
"Wal, she's clar 'cross Jordan.
As a body may say, in the land o' Canaan."
"Why, Sam, what do you
mean?" said Mrs. Shelby, breathless, and almost
faint, as the possible meaning of these words came
"Wal, Missis, de Lord he
persarves his own. Lizy's done gone over the river
into 'Hio, as 'markably as if de Lord took her over
in a charrit of fire and two hosses."
Sam's vein of piety was always
uncommonly fervent in his mistress' presence; and he
made great capital of scriptural figures and images.
"Come up here, Sam," said Mr.
Shelby, who had followed on to the verandah, "and
tell your mistress what she wants. Come, come,
Emily," said he, passing his arm round her, "you are
cold and all in a shiver; you allow yourself to feel
"Feel too much! Am not I a
woman,—a mother? Are we not both responsible to God
for this poor girl? My God! lay not this sin to our
"What sin, Emily? You see
yourself that we have only done what we were obliged
"There's an awful feeling of
guilt about it, though," said Mrs. Shelby. "I can't
reason it away."
"Here, Andy, you nigger, be
alive!" called Sam, under the verandah; "take these
yer hosses to der barn; don't ye hear Mas'r a
callin'?" and Sam soon appeared, palm-leaf in hand,
at the parlor door.
"Now, Sam, tell us distinctly
how the matter was," said Mr. Shelby. "Where is
Eliza, if you know?"
"Wal, Mas'r, I saw her, with my
own eyes, a crossin' on the floatin' ice. She
crossed most 'markably; it wasn't no less nor a
miracle; and I saw a man help her up the 'Hio side,
and then she was lost in the dusk."
"Sam, I think this rather
apocryphal,—this miracle. Crossing on floating ice
isn't so easily done," said Mr. Shelby.
"Easy! couldn't nobody a done
it, without de Lord. Why, now," said Sam, "'t was
jist dis yer way. Mas'r Haley, and me, and Andy, we
comes up to de little tavern by the river, and I
rides a leetle ahead,—(I's so zealous to be a
cotchin' Lizy, that I couldn't hold in, no way),—and
when I comes by the tavern winder, sure enough there
she was, right in plain sight, and dey diggin' on
behind. Wal, I loses off my hat, and sings out nuff
to raise the dead. Course Lizy she hars, and she
dodges back, when Mas'r Haley he goes past the door;
and then, I tell ye, she clared out de side door;
she went down de river bank;—Mas'r Haley he seed
her, and yelled out, and him, and me, and Andy, we
took arter. Down she come to the river, and thar was
the current running ten feet wide by the shore, and
over t' other side ice a sawin' and a jiggling up
and down, kinder as 't were a great island. We come
right behind her, and I thought my soul he'd got her
sure enough,—when she gin sich a screech as I never
hearn, and thar she was, clar over t' other side of
the current, on the ice, and then on she went, a
screeching and a jumpin',—the ice went crack!
c'wallop! cracking! chunk! and she a boundin' like a
buck! Lord, the spring that ar gal's got in her an't
common, I'm o' 'pinion."
Mrs. Shelby sat perfectly
silent, pale with excitement, while Sam told his
"God be praised, she isn't
dead!" she said; "but where is the poor child now?"
"De Lord will pervide," said
Sam, rolling up his eyes piously. "As I've been a
sayin', dis yer 's a providence and no mistake, as
Missis has allers been a instructin' on us. Thar's
allers instruments ris up to do de Lord's will. Now,
if 't hadn't been for me today, she'd a been took a
dozen times. Warn't it I started off de hosses, dis
yer mornin' and kept 'em chasin' till nigh dinner
time? And didn't I car Mas'r Haley night five miles
out of de road, dis evening, or else he'd a come up
with Lizy as easy as a dog arter a coon. These yer
's all providences."
"They are a kind of providences
that you'll have to be pretty sparing of, Master
Sam. I allow no such practices with gentlemen on my
place," said Mr. Shelby, with as much sternness as
he could command, under the circumstances.
Now, there is no more use in
making believe be angry with a negro than with a
child; both instinctively see the true state of the
case, through all attempts to affect the contrary;
and Sam was in no wise disheartened by this rebuke,
though he assumed an air of doleful gravity, and
stood with the corners of his mouth lowered in most
"Mas'r quite right,—quite; it
was ugly on me,—there's no disputin' that ar; and of
course Mas'r and Missis wouldn't encourage no such
works. I'm sensible of dat ar; but a poor nigger
like me 's 'mazin' tempted to act ugly sometimes,
when fellers will cut up such shines as dat ar Mas'r
Haley; he an't no gen'l'man no way; anybody's been
raised as I've been can't help a seein' dat ar."
"Well, Sam," said Mrs. Shelby,
"as you appear to have a proper sense of your
errors, you may go now and tell Aunt Chloe she may
get you some of that cold ham that was left of
dinner today. You and Andy must be hungry."
"Missis is a heap too good for
us," said Sam, making his bow with alacrity, and
It will be perceived, as has
been before intimated, that Master Sam had a native
talent that might, undoubtedly, have raised him to
eminence in political life,—a talent of making
capital out of everything that turned up, to be
invested for his own especial praise and glory; and
having done up his piety and humility, as he
trusted, to the satisfaction of the parlor, he
clapped his palm-leaf on his head, with a sort of
rakish, free-and-easy air, and proceeded to the
dominions of Aunt Chloe, with the intention of
flourishing largely in the kitchen.
"I'll speechify these yer
niggers," said Sam to himself, "now I've got a
chance. Lord, I'll reel it off to make 'em stare!"
It must be observed that one of
Sam's especial delights had been to ride in
attendance on his master to all kinds of political
gatherings, where, roosted on some rail fence, or
perched aloft in some tree, he would sit watching
the orators, with the greatest apparent gusto, and
then, descending among the various brethren of his
own color, assembled on the same errand, he would
edify and delight them with the most ludicrous
burlesques and imitations, all delivered with the
most imperturbable earnestness and solemnity; and
though the auditors immediately about him were
generally of his own color, it not infrequently
happened that they were fringed pretty deeply with
those of a fairer complexion, who listened, laughing
and winking, to Sam's great self-congratulation. In
fact, Sam considered oratory as his vocation, and
never let slip an opportunity of magnifying his
Now, between Sam and Aunt Chloe
there had existed, from ancient times, a sort of
chronic feud, or rather a decided coolness; but, as
Sam was meditating something in the provision
department, as the necessary and obvious foundation
of his operations, he determined, on the present
occasion, to be eminently conciliatory; for he well
knew that although "Missis' orders" would
undoubtedly be followed to the letter, yet he should
gain a considerable deal by enlisting the spirit
also. He therefore appeared before Aunt Chloe with a
touchingly subdued, resigned expression, like one
who has suffered immeasurable hardships in behalf of
a persecuted fellow-creature,—enlarged upon the fact
that Missis had directed him to come to Aunt Chloe
for whatever might be wanting to make up the balance
in his solids and fluids,—and thus unequivocally
acknowledged her right and supremacy in the cooking
department, and all thereto pertaining.
The thing took accordingly. No
poor, simple, virtuous body was ever cajoled by the
attentions of an electioneering politician with more
ease than Aunt Chloe was won over by Master Sam's
suavities; and if he had been the prodigal son
himself, he could not have been overwhelmed with
more maternal bountifulness; and he soon found
himself seated, happy and glorious, over a large tin
pan, containing a sort of olla podrida of all
that had appeared on the table for two or three days
past. Savory morsels of ham, golden blocks of
corn-cake, fragments of pie of every conceivable
mathematical figure, chicken wings, gizzards, and
drumsticks, all appeared in picturesque confusion;
and Sam, as monarch of all he surveyed, sat with his
palm-leaf cocked rejoicingly to one side, and
patronizing Andy at his right hand.
The kitchen was full of all his
compeers, who had hurried and crowded in, from the
various cabins, to hear the termination of the day's
exploits. Now was Sam's hour of glory. The story of
the day was rehearsed, with all kinds of ornament
and varnishing which might be necessary to heighten
its effect; for Sam, like some of our fashionable
dilettanti, never allowed a story to lose any of its
gilding by passing through his hands. Roars of
laughter attended the narration, and were taken up
and prolonged by all the smaller fry, who were
lying, in any quantity, about on the floor, or
perched in every corner. In the height of the uproar
and laughter, Sam, however, preserved an immovable
gravity, only from time to time rolling his eyes up,
and giving his auditors divers inexpressibly droll
glances, without departing from the sententious
elevation of his oratory.
"Yer see, fellow-countrymen,"
said Sam, elevating a turkey's leg, with energy,
"yer see, now what dis yer chile 's up ter, for
fendin' yer all,—yes, all on yer. For him as tries
to get one o' our people is as good as tryin' to get
all; yer see the principle 's de same,—dat ar's
clar. And any one o' these yer drivers that comes
smelling round arter any our people, why, he's got
me in his way; I'm the feller he's got
to set in with,—I'm the feller for yer all to come
to, bredren,—I'll stand up for yer rights,—I'll fend
'em to the last breath!"
"Why, but Sam, yer telled me,
only this mornin', that you'd help this yer Mas'r to
cotch Lizy; seems to me yer talk don't hang
together," said Andy.
"I tell you now, Andy," said
Sam, with awful superiority, "don't yer be a talkin'
'bout what yer don't know nothin' on; boys like you,
Andy, means well, but they can't be spected to
collusitate the great principles of action."
Andy looked rebuked,
particularly by the hard word collusitate, which
most of the youngerly members of the company seemed
to consider as a settler in the case, while Sam
"Dat ar was conscience,
Andy; when I thought of gwine arter Lizy, I railly
spected Mas'r was sot dat way. When I found Missis
was sot the contrar, dat ar was conscience more
yet,—cause fellers allers gets more by stickin'
to Missis' side,—so yer see I 's persistent either
way, and sticks up to conscience, and holds on to
principles. Yes, principles," said Sam,
giving an enthusiastic toss to a chicken's
neck,—"what's principles good for, if we isn't
persistent, I wanter know? Thar, Andy, you may have
dat ar bone,—tan't picked quite clean."
Sam's audience hanging on his
words with open mouth, he could not but proceed.
"Dis yer matter 'bout
persistence, feller-niggers," said Sam, with the air
of one entering into an abstruse subject, "dis yer
'sistency 's a thing what an't seed into very clar,
by most anybody. Now, yer see, when a feller stands
up for a thing one day and night, de contrar de
next, folks ses (and nat'rally enough dey ses), why
he an't persistent,—hand me dat ar bit o' corn-cake,
Andy. But let's look inter it. I hope the gen'lmen
and der fair sex will scuse my usin' an or'nary sort
o' 'parison. Here! I'm a trying to get top o' der
hay. Wal, I puts up my larder dis yer side; 'tan't
no go;—den, cause I don't try dere no more, but puts
my larder right de contrar side, an't I persistent?
I'm persistent in wantin' to get up which ary side
my larder is; don't you see, all on yer?"
"It's the only thing ye ever was
persistent in, Lord knows!" muttered Aunt Chloe, who
was getting rather restive; the merriment of the
evening being to her somewhat after the Scripture
comparison,—like "vinegar upon nitre."
"Yes, indeed!" said Sam, rising,
full of supper and glory, for a closing effort.
"Yes, my feller-citizens and ladies of de other sex
in general, I has principles,—I'm proud to 'oon
'em,—they 's perquisite to dese yer times, and ter
all times. I has principles, and I sticks to
'em like forty,—jest anything that I thinks is
principle, I goes in to 't;—I wouldn't mind if dey
burnt me 'live,—I'd walk right up to de stake, I
would, and say, here I comes to shed my last blood
fur my principles, fur my country, fur de gen'l
interests of society."
"Well," said Aunt Chloe, "one o'
yer principles will have to be to get to bed some
time tonight, and not be a keepin' everybody up till
mornin'; now, every one of you young uns that don't
want to be cracked, had better be scase, mighty
"Niggers! all on yer," said Sam,
waving his palm-leaf with benignity, "I give yer my
blessin'; go to bed now, and be good boys."
And, with this pathetic
benediction, the assembly dispersed.
In Which It Appears That a
Senator Is But a Man
The light of the cheerful fire
shone on the rug and carpet of a cosey parlor, and
glittered on the sides of the tea-cups and
well-brightened tea-pot, as Senator Bird was drawing
off his boots, preparatory to inserting his feet in
a pair of new handsome slippers, which his wife had
been working for him while away on his senatorial
tour. Mrs. Bird, looking the very picture of
delight, was superintending the arrangements of the
table, ever and anon mingling admonitory remarks to
a number of frolicsome juveniles, who were
effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and
mischief that have astonished mothers ever since the
"Tom, let the door-knob
alone,—there's a man! Mary! Mary! don't pull the
cat's tail,—poor pussy! Jim, you mustn't climb on
that table,—no, no!—You don't know, my dear, what a
surprise it is to us all, to see you here tonight!"
said she, at last, when she found a space to say
something to her husband.
"Yes, yes, I thought I'd just
make a run down, spend the night, and have a little
comfort at home. I'm tired to death, and my head
Mrs. Bird cast a glance at a
camphor-bottle, which stood in the half-open closet,
and appeared to meditate an approach to it, but her
"No, no, Mary, no doctoring! a
cup of your good hot tea, and some of our good home
living, is what I want. It's a tiresome business,
And the senator smiled, as if he
rather liked the idea of considering himself a
sacrifice to his country.
"Well," said his wife, after the
business of the tea-table was getting rather slack,
"and what have they been doing in the Senate?"
Now, it was a very unusual thing
for gentle little Mrs. Bird ever to trouble her head
with what was going on in the house of the state,
very wisely considering that she had enough to do to
mind her own. Mr. Bird, therefore, opened his eyes
in surprise, and said,
"Not very much of importance."
"Well; but is it true that they
have been passing a law forbidding people to give
meat and drink to those poor colored folks that come
along? I heard they were talking of some such law,
but I didn't think any Christian legislature would
"Why, Mary, you are getting to
be a politician, all at once."
"No, nonsense! I wouldn't give a
fig for all your politics, generally, but I think
this is something downright cruel and unchristian. I
hope, my dear, no such law has been passed."
"There has been a law passed
forbidding people to help off the slaves that come
over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that thing
has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that
our brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited,
and it seems necessary, and no more than Christian
and kind, that something should be done by our state
to quiet the excitement."
"And what is the law? It don't
forbid us to shelter those poor creatures a night,
does it, and to give 'em something comfortable to
eat, and a few old clothes, and send them quietly
about their business?"
"Why, yes, my dear; that would
be aiding and abetting, you know."
Mrs. Bird was a timid, blushing
little woman, of about four feet in height, and with
mild blue eyes, and a peach-blow complexion, and the
gentlest, sweetest voice in the world;—as for
courage, a moderate-sized cock-turkey had been known
to put her to rout at the very first gobble, and a
stout house-dog, of moderate capacity, would bring
her into subjection merely by a show of his teeth.
Her husband and children were her entire world, and
in these she ruled more by entreaty and persuasion
than by command or argument. There was only one
thing that was capable of arousing her, and that
provocation came in on the side of her unusually
gentle and sympathetic nature;—anything in the shape
of cruelty would throw her into a passion, which was
the more alarming and inexplicable in proportion to
the general softness of her nature. Generally the
most indulgent and easy to be entreated of all
mothers, still her boys had a very reverent
remembrance of a most vehement chastisement she once
bestowed on them, because she found them leagued
with several graceless boys of the neighborhood,
stoning a defenceless kitten.
"I'll tell you what," Master
Bill used to say, "I was scared that time. Mother
came at me so that I thought she was crazy, and I
was whipped and tumbled off to bed, without any
supper, before I could get over wondering what had
come about; and, after that, I heard mother crying
outside the door, which made me feel worse than all
the rest. I'll tell you what," he'd say, "we boys
never stoned another kitten!"
On the present occasion, Mrs.
Bird rose quickly, with very red cheeks, which quite
improved her general appearance, and walked up to
her husband, with quite a resolute air, and said, in
a determined tone,
"Now, John, I want to know if
you think such a law as that is right and
"You won't shoot me, now, Mary,
if I say I do!"
"I never could have thought it
of you, John; you didn't vote for it?"
"Even so, my fair politician."
"You ought to be ashamed, John!
Poor, homeless, houseless creatures! It's a
shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I'll break it,
for one, the first time I get a chance; and I hope I
shall have a chance, I do! Things have got to
a pretty pass, if a woman can't give a warm supper
and a bed to poor, starving creatures, just because
they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed
all their lives, poor things!"
"But, Mary, just listen to me.
Your feelings are all quite right, dear, and
interesting, and I love you for them; but, then,
dear, we mustn't suffer our feelings to run away
with our judgment; you must consider it's a matter
of private feeling,—there are great public interests
involved,—there is such a state of public agitation
rising, that we must put aside our private
"Now, John, I don't know
anything about politics, but I can read my Bible;
and there I see that I must feed the hungry, clothe
the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible
I mean to follow."
"But in cases where your doing
so would involve a great public evil—"
"Obeying God never brings on
public evils. I know it can't. It's always safest,
all round, to do as He bids us.
"Now, listen to me, Mary, and I
can state to you a very clear argument, to show—"
"O, nonsense, John! you can talk
all night, but you wouldn't do it. I put it to you,
John,—would you now turn away a poor,
shivering, hungry creature from your door, because
he was a runaway? Would you, now?"
Now, if the truth must be told,
our senator had the misfortune to be a man who had a
particularly humane and accessible nature, and
turning away anybody that was in trouble never had
been his forte; and what was worse for him in this
particular pinch of the argument was, that his wife
knew it, and, of course was making an assault on
rather an indefensible point. So he had recourse to
the usual means of gaining time for such cases made
and provided; he said "ahem," and coughed several
times, took out his pocket-handkerchief, and began
to wipe his glasses. Mrs. Bird, seeing the
defenceless condition of the enemy's territory, had
no more conscience than to push her advantage.
"I should like to see you doing
that, John—I really should! Turning a woman out of
doors in a snowstorm, for instance; or may be you'd
take her up and put her in jail, wouldn't you? You
would make a great hand at that!"
"Of course, it would be a very
painful duty," began Mr. Bird, in a moderate tone.
"Duty, John! don't use that
word! You know it isn't a duty—it can't be a duty!
If folks want to keep their slaves from running
away, let 'em treat 'em well,—that's my doctrine. If
I had slaves (as I hope I never shall have), I'd
risk their wanting to run away from me, or you
either, John. I tell you folks don't run away when
they are happy; and when they do run, poor
creatures! they suffer enough with cold and hunger
and fear, without everybody's turning against them;
and, law or no law, I never will, so help me God!"
"Mary! Mary! My dear, let me
reason with you."
"I hate reasoning,
John,—especially reasoning on such subjects. There's
a way you political folks have of coming round and
round a plain right thing; and you don't believe in
it yourselves, when it comes to practice. I know
you well enough, John. You don't believe it's
right any more than I do; and you wouldn't do it any
sooner than I."
At this critical juncture, old
Cudjoe, the black man-of-all-work, put his head in
at the door, and wished "Missis would come into the
kitchen;" and our senator, tolerably relieved,
looked after his little wife with a whimsical
mixture of amusement and vexation, and, seating
himself in the arm-chair, began to read the papers.
After a moment, his wife's voice
was heard at the door, in a quick, earnest
tone,—"John! John! I do wish you'd come here, a
He laid down his paper, and went
into the kitchen, and started, quite amazed at the
sight that presented itself:—A young and slender
woman, with garments torn and frozen, with one shoe
gone, and the stocking torn away from the cut and
bleeding foot, was laid back in a deadly swoon upon
two chairs. There was the impress of the despised
race on her face, yet none could help feeling its
mournful and pathetic beauty, while its stony
sharpness, its cold, fixed, deathly aspect, struck a
solemn chill over him. He drew his breath short, and
stood in silence. His wife, and their only colored
domestic, old Aunt Dinah, were busily engaged in
restorative measures; while old Cudjoe had got the
boy on his knee, and was busy pulling off his shoes
and stockings, and chafing his little cold feet.
"Sure, now, if she an't a sight
to behold!" said old Dinah, compassionately; "'pears
like 't was the heat that made her faint. She was
tol'able peart when she cum in, and asked if she
couldn't warm herself here a spell; and I was just
a-askin' her where she cum from, and she fainted
right down. Never done much hard work, guess, by the
looks of her hands."
"Poor creature!" said Mrs. Bird,
compassionately, as the woman slowly unclosed her
large, dark eyes, and looked vacantly at her.
Suddenly an expression of agony crossed her face,
and she sprang up, saying, "O, my Harry! Have they
The boy, at this, jumped from
Cudjoe's knee, and running to her side put up his
arms. "O, he's here! he's here!" she exclaimed.
"O, ma'am!" said she, wildly, to
Mrs. Bird, "do protect us! don't let them get him!"
"Nobody shall hurt you here,
poor woman," said Mrs. Bird, encouragingly. "You are
safe; don't be afraid."
"God bless you!" said the woman,
covering her face and sobbing; while the little boy,
seeing her crying, tried to get into her lap.
With many gentle and womanly
offices, which none knew better how to render than
Mrs. Bird, the poor woman was, in time, rendered
more calm. A temporary bed was provided for her on
the settle, near the fire; and, after a short time,
she fell into a heavy slumber, with the child, who
seemed no less weary, soundly sleeping on her arm;
for the mother resisted, with nervous anxiety, the
kindest attempts to take him from her; and, even in
sleep, her arm encircled him with an unrelaxing
clasp, as if she could not even then be beguiled of
her vigilant hold.
Mr. and Mrs. Bird had gone back
to the parlor, where, strange as it may appear, no
reference was made, on either side, to the preceding
conversation; but Mrs. Bird busied herself with her
knitting-work, and Mr. Bird pretended to be reading
"I wonder who and what she is!"
said Mr. Bird, at last, as he laid it down.
"When she wakes up and feels a
little rested, we will see," said Mrs. Bird.
"I say, wife!" said Mr. Bird
after musing in silence over his newspaper.
"She couldn't wear one of your
gowns, could she, by any letting down, or such
matter? She seems to be rather larger than you are."
A quite perceptible smile
glimmered on Mrs. Bird's face, as she answered,
Another pause, and Mr. Bird
again broke out,
"I say, wife!"
"Well! What now?"
"Why, there's that old bombazin
cloak, that you keep on purpose to put over me when
I take my afternoon's nap; you might as well give
her that,—she needs clothes."
At this instant, Dinah looked in
to say that the woman was awake, and wanted to see
Mr. and Mrs. Bird went into the
kitchen, followed by the two eldest boys, the
smaller fry having, by this time, been safely
disposed of in bed.
The woman was now sitting up on
the settle, by the fire. She was looking steadily
into the blaze, with a calm, heart-broken
expression, very different from her former agitated
"Did you want me?" said Mrs.
Bird, in gentle tones. "I hope you feel better now,
A long-drawn, shivering sigh was
the only answer; but she lifted her dark eyes, and
fixed them on her with such a forlorn and imploring
expression, that the tears came into the little
"You needn't be afraid of
anything; we are friends here, poor woman! Tell me
where you came from, and what you want," said she.
"I came from Kentucky," said the
"When?" said Mr. Bird, taking up
"How did you come?"
"I crossed on the ice."
"Crossed on the ice!" said every
"Yes," said the woman, slowly,
"I did. God helping me, I crossed on the ice; for
they were behind me—right behind—and there was no
"Law, Missis," said Cudjoe, "the
ice is all in broken-up blocks, a swinging and a
tetering up and down in the water!"
"I know it was—I know it!" said
she, wildly; "but I did it! I wouldn't have thought
I could,—I didn't think I should get over, but I
didn't care! I could but die, if I didn't. The Lord
helped me; nobody knows how much the Lord can help
'em, till they try," said the woman, with a flashing
"Were you a slave?" said Mr.
"Yes, sir; I belonged to a man
"Was he unkind to you?"
"No, sir; he was a good master."
"And was your mistress unkind to
"No, sir—no! my mistress was
always good to me."
"What could induce you to leave
a good home, then, and run away, and go through such
The woman looked up at Mrs.
Bird, with a keen, scrutinizing glance, and it did
not escape her that she was dressed in deep
"Ma'am," she said, suddenly,
"have you ever lost a child?"
The question was unexpected, and
it was thrust on a new wound; for it was only a
month since a darling child of the family had been
laid in the grave.
Mr. Bird turned around and
walked to the window, and Mrs. Bird burst into
tears; but, recovering her voice, she said,
"Why do you ask that? I have
lost a little one."
"Then you will feel for me. I
have lost two, one after another,—left 'em buried
there when I came away; and I had only this one
left. I never slept a night without him; he was all
I had. He was my comfort and pride, day and night;
and, ma'am, they were going to take him away from
me,—to sell him,—sell him down south, ma'am,
to go all alone,—a baby that had never been away
from his mother in his life! I couldn't stand it,
ma'am. I knew I never should be good for anything,
if they did; and when I knew the papers the papers
were signed, and he was sold, I took him and came
off in the night; and they chased me,—the man that
bought him, and some of Mas'r's folks,—and they were
coming down right behind me, and I heard 'em. I
jumped right on to the ice; and how I got across, I
don't know,—but, first I knew, a man was helping me
up the bank."
The woman did not sob nor weep.
She had gone to a place where tears are dry; but
every one around her was, in some way characteristic
of themselves, showing signs of hearty sympathy.
The two little boys, after a
desperate rummaging in their pockets, in search of
those pocket-handkerchiefs which mothers know are
never to be found there, had thrown themselves
disconsolately into the skirts of their mother's
gown, where they were sobbing, and wiping their eyes
and noses, to their hearts' content;—Mrs. Bird had
her face fairly hidden in her pocket-handkerchief;
and old Dinah, with tears streaming down her black,
honest face, was ejaculating, "Lord have mercy on
us!" with all the fervor of a camp-meeting;—while
old Cudjoe, rubbing his eyes very hard with his
cuffs, and making a most uncommon variety of wry
faces, occasionally responded in the same key, with
great fervor. Our senator was a statesman, and of
course could not be expected to cry, like other
mortals; and so he turned his back to the company,
and looked out of the window, and seemed
particularly busy in clearing his throat and wiping
his spectacle-glasses, occasionally blowing his nose
in a manner that was calculated to excite suspicion,
had any one been in a state to observe critically.
"How came you to tell me you had
a kind master?" he suddenly exclaimed, gulping down
very resolutely some kind of rising in his throat,
and turning suddenly round upon the woman.
"Because he was a kind
master; I'll say that of him, any way;—and my
mistress was kind; but they couldn't help
themselves. They were owing money; and there was
some way, I can't tell how, that a man had a hold on
them, and they were obliged to give him his will. I
listened, and heard him telling mistress that, and
she begging and pleading for me,—and he told her he
couldn't help himself, and that the papers were all
drawn;—and then it was I took him and left my home,
and came away. I knew 't was no use of my trying to
live, if they did it; for 't 'pears like this child
is all I have."
"Have you no husband?"
"Yes, but he belongs to another
man. His master is real hard to him, and won't let
him come to see me, hardly ever; and he's grown
harder and harder upon us, and he threatens to sell
him down south;—it's like I'll never see him
The quiet tone in which the
woman pronounced these words might have led a
superficial observer to think that she was entirely
apathetic; but there was a calm, settled depth of
anguish in her large, dark eye, that spoke of
something far otherwise.
"And where do you mean to go, my
poor woman?" said Mrs. Bird.
"To Canada, if I only knew where
that was. Is it very far off, is Canada?" said she,
looking up, with a simple, confiding air, to Mrs.
"Poor thing!" said Mrs. Bird,
"Is 't a very great way off,
think?" said the woman, earnestly.
"Much further than you think,
poor child!" said Mrs. Bird; "but we will try to
think what can be done for you. Here, Dinah, make
her up a bed in your own room, close by the kitchen,
and I'll think what to do for her in the morning.
Meanwhile, never fear, poor woman; put your trust in
God; he will protect you."
Mrs. Bird and her husband
reentered the parlor. She sat down in her little
rocking-chair before the fire, swaying thoughtfully
to and fro. Mr. Bird strode up and down the room,
grumbling to himself, "Pish! pshaw! confounded
awkward business!" At length, striding up to his
wife, he said,
"I say, wife, she'll have to get
away from here, this very night. That fellow will be
down on the scent bright and early tomorrow morning:
if 't was only the woman, she could lie quiet till
it was over; but that little chap can't be kept
still by a troop of horse and foot, I'll warrant me;
he'll bring it all out, popping his head out of some
window or door. A pretty kettle of fish it would be
for me, too, to be caught with them both here, just
now! No; they'll have to be got off tonight."
"Tonight! How is it
"Well, I know pretty well where
to," said the senator, beginning to put on his
boots, with a reflective air; and, stopping when his
leg was half in, he embraced his knee with both
hands, and seemed to go off in deep meditation.
"It's a confounded awkward, ugly
business," said he, at last, beginning to tug at his
boot-straps again, "and that's a fact!" After one
boot was fairly on, the senator sat with the other
in his hand, profoundly studying the figure of the
carpet. "It will have to be done, though, for aught
I see,—hang it all!" and he drew the other boot
anxiously on, and looked out of the window.
Now, little Mrs. Bird was a
discreet woman,—a woman who never in her life said,
"I told you so!" and, on the present occasion,
though pretty well aware of the shape her husband's
meditations were taking, she very prudently forbore
to meddle with them, only sat very quietly in her
chair, and looked quite ready to hear her liege
lord's intentions, when he should think proper to
"You see," he said, "there's my
old client, Van Trompe, has come over from Kentucky,
and set all his slaves free; and he has bought a
place seven miles up the creek, here, back in the
woods, where nobody goes, unless they go on purpose;
and it's a place that isn't found in a hurry. There
she'd be safe enough; but the plague of the thing
is, nobody could drive a carriage there tonight, but
"Why not? Cudjoe is an excellent
"Ay, ay, but here it is. The
creek has to be crossed twice; and the second
crossing is quite dangerous, unless one knows it as
I do. I have crossed it a hundred times on
horseback, and know exactly the turns to take. And
so, you see, there's no help for it. Cudjoe must put
in the horses, as quietly as may be, about twelve
o'clock, and I'll take her over; and then, to give
color to the matter, he must carry me on to the next
tavern to take the stage for Columbus, that comes by
about three or four, and so it will look as if I had
had the carriage only for that. I shall get into
business bright and early in the morning. But I'm
thinking I shall feel rather cheap there, after all
that's been said and done; but, hang it, I can't
"Your heart is better than your
head, in this case, John," said the wife, laying her
little white hand on his. "Could I ever have loved
you, had I not known you better than you know
yourself?" And the little woman looked so handsome,
with the tears sparkling in her eyes, that the
senator thought he must be a decidedly clever
fellow, to get such a pretty creature into such a
passionate admiration of him; and so, what could he
do but walk off soberly, to see about the carriage.
At the door, however, he stopped a moment, and then
coming back, he said, with some hesitation.
"Mary, I don't know how you'd
feel about it, but there's that drawer full of
things—of—of—poor little Henry's." So saying, he
turned quickly on his heel, and shut the door after
His wife opened the little
bed-room door adjoining her room and, taking the
candle, set it down on the top of a bureau there;
then from a small recess she took a key, and put it
thoughtfully in the lock of a drawer, and made a
sudden pause, while two boys, who, boy like, had
followed close on her heels, stood looking, with
silent, significant glances, at their mother. And
oh! mother that reads this, has there never been in
your house a drawer, or a closet, the opening of
which has been to you like the opening again of a
little grave? Ah! happy mother that you are, if it
has not been so.
Mrs. Bird slowly opened the
drawer. There were little coats of many a form and
pattern, piles of aprons, and rows of small
stockings; and even a pair of little shoes, worn and
rubbed at the toes, were peeping from the folds of a
paper. There was a toy horse and wagon, a top, a
ball,—memorials gathered with many a tear and many a
heart-break! She sat down by the drawer, and,
leaning her head on her hands over it, wept till the
tears fell through her fingers into the drawer; then
suddenly raising her head, she began, with nervous
haste, selecting the plainest and most substantial
articles, and gathering them into a bundle.
"Mamma," said one of the boys,
gently touching her arm, "you going to give away
"My dear boys," she said, softly
and earnestly, "if our dear, loving little Henry
looks down from heaven, he would be glad to have us
do this. I could not find it in my heart to give
them away to any common person—to anybody that was
happy; but I give them to a mother more heart-broken
and sorrowful than I am; and I hope God will send
his blessings with them!"
There are in this world blessed
souls, whose sorrows all spring up into joys for
others; whose earthly hopes, laid in the grave with
many tears, are the seed from which spring healing
flowers and balm for the desolate and the
distressed. Among such was the delicate woman who
sits there by the lamp, dropping slow tears, while
she prepares the memorials of her own lost one for
the outcast wanderer.
After a while, Mrs. Bird opened
a wardrobe, and, taking from thence a plain,
serviceable dress or two, she sat down busily to her
work-table, and, with needle, scissors, and thimble,
at hand, quietly commenced the "letting down"
process which her husband had recommended, and
continued busily at it till the old clock in the
corner struck twelve, and she heard the low rattling
of wheels at the door.
"Mary," said her husband, coming
in, with his overcoat in his hand, "you must wake
her up now; we must be off."
Mrs. Bird hastily deposited the
various articles she had collected in a small plain
trunk, and locking it, desired her husband to see it
in the carriage, and then proceeded to call the
woman. Soon, arrayed in a cloak, bonnet, and shawl,
that had belonged to her benefactress, she appeared
at the door with her child in her arms. Mr. Bird
hurried her into the carriage, and Mrs. Bird pressed
on after her to the carriage steps. Eliza leaned out
of the carriage, and put out her hand,—a hand as
soft and beautiful as was given in return. She fixed
her large, dark eyes, full of earnest meaning, on
Mrs. Bird's face, and seemed going to speak. Her
lips moved,—she tried once or twice, but there was
no sound,—and pointing upward, with a look never to
be forgotten, she fell back in the seat, and covered
her face. The door was shut, and the carriage drove
What a situation, now, for a
patriotic senator, that had been all the week before
spurring up the legislature of his native state to
pass more stringent resolutions against escaping
fugitives, their harborers and abettors!
Our good senator in his native
state had not been exceeded by any of his brethren
at Washington, in the sort of eloquence which has
won for them immortal renown! How sublimely he had
sat with his hands in his pockets, and scouted all
sentimental weakness of those who would put the
welfare of a few miserable fugitives before great
He was as bold as a lion about
it, and "mightily convinced" not only himself, but
everybody that heard him;—but then his idea of a
fugitive was only an idea of the letters that spell
the word,—or at the most, the image of a little
newspaper picture of a man with a stick and bundle
with "Ran away from the subscriber" under it. The
magic of the real presence of distress,—the
imploring human eye, the frail, trembling human
hand, the despairing appeal of helpless agony,—these
he had never tried. He had never thought that a
fugitive might be a hapless mother, a defenceless
child,—like that one which was now wearing his lost
boy's little well-known cap; and so, as our poor
senator was not stone or steel,—as he was a man, and
a downright noble-hearted one, too,—he was, as
everybody must see, in a sad case for his
patriotism. And you need not exult over him, good
brother of the Southern States; for we have some
inklings that many of you, under similar
circumstances, would not do much better. We have
reason to know, in Kentucky, as in Mississippi, are
noble and generous hearts, to whom never was tale of
suffering told in vain. Ah, good brother! is it fair
for you to expect of us services which your own
brave, honorable heart would not allow you to
render, were you in our place?
Be that as it may, if our good
senator was a political sinner, he was in a fair way
to expiate it by his night's penance. There had been
a long continuous period of rainy weather, and the
soft, rich earth of Ohio, as every one knows, is
admirably suited to the manufacture of mud—and the
road was an Ohio railroad of the good old times.
"And pray, what sort of a road
may that be?" says some eastern traveller, who has
been accustomed to connect no ideas with a railroad,
but those of smoothness or speed.
Know, then, innocent eastern
friend, that in benighted regions of the west, where
the mud is of unfathomable and sublime depth, roads
are made of round rough logs, arranged transversely
side by side, and coated over in their pristine
freshness with earth, turf, and whatsoever may come
to hand, and then the rejoicing native calleth it a
road, and straightway essayeth to ride thereupon. In
process of time, the rains wash off all the turf and
grass aforesaid, move the logs hither and thither,
in picturesque positions, up, down and crosswise,
with divers chasms and ruts of black mud
Over such a road as this our
senator went stumbling along, making moral
reflections as continuously as under the
circumstances could be expected,—the carriage
proceeding along much as follows,—bump! bump! bump!
slush! down in the mud!—the senator, woman and
child, reversing their positions so suddenly as to
come, without any very accurate adjustment, against
the windows of the down-hill side. Carriage sticks
fast, while Cudjoe on the outside is heard making a
great muster among the horses. After various
ineffectual pullings and twitchings, just as the
senator is losing all patience, the carriage
suddenly rights itself with a bounce,—two front
wheels go down into another abyss, and senator,
woman, and child, all tumble promiscuously on to the
front seat,—senator's hat is jammed over his eyes
and nose quite unceremoniously, and he considers
himself fairly extinguished;—child cries, and Cudjoe
on the outside delivers animated addresses to the
horses, who are kicking, and floundering, and
straining under repeated cracks of the whip.
Carriage springs up, with another bounce,—down go
the hind wheels,—senator, woman, and child, fly over
on to the back seat, his elbows encountering her
bonnet, and both her feet being jammed into his hat,
which flies off in the concussion. After a few
moments the "slough" is passed, and the horses stop,
panting;—the senator finds his hat, the woman
straightens her bonnet and hushes her child, and
they brace themselves for what is yet to come.
For a while only the continuous
bump! bump! intermingled, just by way of variety,
with divers side plunges and compound shakes; and
they begin to flatter themselves that they are not
so badly off, after all. At last, with a square
plunge, which puts all on to their feet and then
down into their seats with incredible quickness, the
carriage stops,—and, after much outside commotion,
Cudjoe appears at the door.
"Please, sir, it's powerful bad
spot, this' yer. I don't know how we's to get clar
out. I'm a thinkin' we'll have to be a gettin'
The senator despairingly steps
out, picking gingerly for some firm foothold; down
goes one foot an immeasurable depth,—he tries to
pull it up, loses his balance, and tumbles over into
the mud, and is fished out, in a very despairing
condition, by Cudjoe.
But we forbear, out of sympathy
to our readers' bones. Western travellers, who have
beguiled the midnight hour in the interesting
process of pulling down rail fences, to pry their
carriages out of mud holes, will have a respectful
and mournful sympathy with our unfortunate hero. We
beg them to drop a silent tear, and pass on.
It was full late in the night
when the carriage emerged, dripping and bespattered,
out of the creek, and stood at the door of a large
It took no inconsiderable
perseverance to arouse the inmates; but at last the
respectable proprietor appeared, and undid the door.
He was a great, tall, bristling Orson of a fellow,
full six feet and some inches in his stockings, and
arrayed in a red flannel hunting-shirt. A very heavy
mat of sandy hair, in a decidedly tousled condition,
and a beard of some days' growth, gave the worthy
man an appearance, to say the least, not
particularly prepossessing. He stood for a few
minutes holding the candle aloft, and blinking on
our travellers with a dismal and mystified
expression that was truly ludicrous. It cost some
effort of our senator to induce him to comprehend
the case fully; and while he is doing his best at
that, we shall give him a little introduction to our
Honest old John Van Trompe was
once quite a considerable land-owner and slave-owner
in the State of Kentucky. Having "nothing of the
bear about him but the skin," and being gifted by
nature with a great, honest, just heart, quite equal
to his gigantic frame, he had been for some years
witnessing with repressed uneasiness the workings of
a system equally bad for oppressor and oppressed. At
last, one day, John's great heart had swelled
altogether too big to wear his bonds any longer; so
he just took his pocket-book out of his desk, and
went over into Ohio, and bought a quarter of a
township of good, rich land, made out free papers
for all his people,—men, women, and children,—packed
them up in wagons, and sent them off to settle down;
and then honest John turned his face up the creek,
and sat quietly down on a snug, retired farm, to
enjoy his conscience and his reflections.
"Are you the man that will
shelter a poor woman and child from slave-catchers?"
said the senator, explicitly.
"I rather think I am," said
honest John, with some considerable emphasis.
"I thought so,"' said the
"If there's anybody comes," said
the good man, stretching his tall, muscular form
upward, "why here I'm ready for him: and I've got
seven sons, each six foot high, and they'll be ready
for 'em. Give our respects to 'em," said John; "tell
'em it's no matter how soon they call,—make no
kinder difference to us," said John, running his
fingers through the shock of hair that thatched his
head, and bursting out into a great laugh.
Weary, jaded, and spiritless,
Eliza dragged herself up to the door, with her child
lying in a heavy sleep on her arm. The rough man
held the candle to her face, and uttering a kind of
compassionate grunt, opened the door of a small
bed-room adjoining to the large kitchen where they
were standing, and motioned her to go in. He took
down a candle, and lighting it, set it upon the
table, and then addressed himself to Eliza.
"Now, I say, gal, you needn't be
a bit afeard, let who will come here. I'm up to all
that sort o' thing," said he, pointing to two or
three goodly rifles over the mantel-piece; "and most
people that know me know that 't wouldn't be healthy
to try to get anybody out o' my house when I'm agin
it. So now you jist go to sleep now, as quiet
as if yer mother was a rockin' ye," said he, as he
shut the door.
"Why, this is an uncommon
handsome un," he said to the senator. "Ah, well;
handsome uns has the greatest cause to run,
sometimes, if they has any kind o' feelin, such as
decent women should. I know all about that."
The senator, in a few words,
briefly explained Eliza's history.
"O! ou! aw! now, I want to
know?" said the good man, pitifully; "sho! now sho!
That's natur now, poor crittur! hunted down now like
a deer,—hunted down, jest for havin' natural
feelin's, and doin' what no kind o' mother could
help a doin'! I tell ye what, these yer things make
me come the nighest to swearin', now, o' most
anything," said honest John, as he wiped his eyes
with the back of a great, freckled, yellow hand. "I
tell yer what, stranger, it was years and years
before I'd jine the church, 'cause the ministers
round in our parts used to preach that the Bible
went in for these ere cuttings up,—and I couldn't be
up to 'em with their Greek and Hebrew, and so I took
up agin 'em, Bible and all. I never jined the church
till I found a minister that was up to 'em all in
Greek and all that, and he said right the contrary;
and then I took right hold, and jined the church,—I
did now, fact," said John, who had been all this
time uncorking some very frisky bottled cider, which
at this juncture he presented.
"Ye'd better jest put up here,
now, till daylight," said he, heartily, "and I'll
call up the old woman, and have a bed got ready for
you in no time."
"Thank you, my good friend,"
said the senator, "I must be along, to take the
night stage for Columbus."
"Ah! well, then, if you must,
I'll go a piece with you, and show you a cross road
that will take you there better than the road you
came on. That road's mighty bad."
John equipped himself, and, with
a lantern in hand, was soon seen guiding the
senator's carriage towards a road that ran down in a
hollow, back of his dwelling. When they parted, the
senator put into his hand a ten-dollar bill.
"It's for her," he said,
"Ay, ay," said John, with equal
They shook hands, and parted.
The Property Is Carried Off
The February morning looked gray
and drizzling through the window of Uncle Tom's
cabin. It looked on downcast faces, the images of
mournful hearts. The little table stood out before
the fire, covered with an ironing-cloth; a coarse
but clean shirt or two, fresh from the iron, hung on
the back of a chair by the fire, and Aunt Chloe had
another spread out before her on the table.
Carefully she rubbed and ironed every fold and every
hem, with the most scrupulous exactness, every now
and then raising her hand to her face to wipe off
the tears that were coursing down her cheeks.
Tom sat by, with his Testament
open on his knee, and his head leaning upon his
hand;—but neither spoke. It was yet early, and the
children lay all asleep together in their little
Tom, who had, to the full, the
gentle, domestic heart, which woe for them! has been
a peculiar characteristic of his unhappy race, got
up and walked silently to look at his children.
"It's the last time," he said.
Aunt Chloe did not answer, only
rubbed away over and over on the coarse shirt,
already as smooth as hands could make it; and
finally setting her iron suddenly down with a
despairing plunge, she sat down to the table, and
"lifted up her voice and wept."
"S'pose we must be resigned; but
oh Lord! how ken I? If I know'd anything whar you 's
goin', or how they'd sarve you! Missis says she'll
try and 'deem ye, in a year or two; but Lor! nobody
never comes up that goes down thar! They kills 'em!
I've hearn 'em tell how dey works 'em up on dem ar
"There'll be the same God there,
Chloe, that there is here."
"Well," said Aunt Chloe, "s'pose
dere will; but de Lord lets drefful things happen,
sometimes. I don't seem to get no comfort dat way."
"I'm in the Lord's hands," said
Tom; "nothin' can go no furder than he lets it;—and
thar's one thing I can thank him for. It's
me that's sold and going down, and not you nur
the chil'en. Here you're safe;—what comes will come
only on me; and the Lord, he'll help me,—I know he
Ah, brave, manly
heart,—smothering thine own sorrow, to comfort thy
beloved ones! Tom spoke with a thick utterance, and
with a bitter choking in his throat,—but he spoke
brave and strong.
"Let's think on our marcies!" he
added, tremulously, as if he was quite sure he
needed to think on them very hard indeed.
"Marcies!" said Aunt Chloe;
"don't see no marcy in 't! 'tan't right! tan't right
it should be so! Mas'r never ought ter left it so
that ye could be took for his debts. Ye've
arnt him all he gets for ye, twice over. He owed ye
yer freedom, and ought ter gin 't to yer years ago.
Mebbe he can't help himself now, but I feel it's
wrong. Nothing can't beat that ar out o' me. Sich a
faithful crittur as ye've been,—and allers sot his
business 'fore yer own every way,—and reckoned on
him more than yer own wife and chil'en! Them as
sells heart's love and heart's blood, to get out
thar scrapes, de Lord'll be up to 'em!"
"Chloe! now, if ye love me, ye
won't talk so, when perhaps jest the last time we'll
ever have together! And I'll tell ye, Chloe, it goes
agin me to hear one word agin Mas'r. Wan't he put in
my arms a baby?—it's natur I should think a heap of
him. And he couldn't be spected to think so much of
poor Tom. Mas'rs is used to havin' all these yer
things done for 'em, and nat'lly they don't think so
much on 't. They can't be spected to, no way. Set
him 'longside of other Mas'rs—who's had the
treatment and livin' I've had? And he never would
have let this yer come on me, if he could have seed
it aforehand. I know he wouldn't."
"Wal, any way, thar's wrong
about it somewhar," said Aunt Chloe, in whom
a stubborn sense of justice was a predominant trait;
"I can't jest make out whar 't is, but thar's wrong
somewhar, I'm clar o' that."
"Yer ought ter look up to the
Lord above—he's above all—thar don't a sparrow fall
"It don't seem to comfort me,
but I spect it orter," said Aunt Chloe. "But dar's
no use talkin'; I'll jes wet up de corn-cake, and
get ye one good breakfast, 'cause nobody knows when
you'll get another."
In order to appreciate the
sufferings of the negroes sold south, it must be
remembered that all the instinctive affections of
that race are peculiarly strong. Their local
attachments are very abiding. They are not naturally
daring and enterprising, but home-loving and
affectionate. Add to this all the terrors with which
ignorance invests the unknown, and add to this,
again, that selling to the south is set before the
negro from childhood as the last severity of
punishment. The threat that terrifies more than
whipping or torture of any kind is the threat of
being sent down river. We have ourselves heard this
feeling expressed by them, and seen the unaffected
horror with which they will sit in their gossipping
hours, and tell frightful stories of that "down
river," which to them is
"That undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns."*
* A slightly inaccurate quotation from Hamlet, Act III,
scene I, lines 369-370.
A missionary figure among the
fugitives in Canada told us that many of the
fugitives confessed themselves to have escaped from
comparatively kind masters, and that they were
induced to brave the perils of escape, in almost
every case, by the desperate horror with which they
regarded being sold south,—a doom which was hanging
either over themselves or their husbands, their
wives or children. This nerves the African,
naturally patient, timid and unenterprising, with
heroic courage, and leads him to suffer hunger,
cold, pain, the perils of the wilderness, and the
more dread penalties of recapture.
The simple morning meal now
smoked on the table, for Mrs. Shelby had excused
Aunt Chloe's attendance at the great house that
morning. The poor soul had expended all her little
energies on this farewell feast,—had killed and
dressed her choicest chicken, and prepared her
corn-cake with scrupulous exactness, just to her
husband's taste, and brought out certain mysterious
jars on the mantel-piece, some preserves that were
never produced except on extreme occasions.
"Lor, Pete," said Mose,
triumphantly, "han't we got a buster of a
breakfast!" at the same time catching at a fragment
of the chicken.
Aunt Chloe gave him a sudden box
on the ear. "Thar now! crowing over the last
breakfast yer poor daddy's gwine to have to home!"
"O, Chloe!" said Tom, gently.
"Wal, I can't help it," said
Aunt Chloe, hiding her face in her apron; "I 's so
tossed about it, it makes me act ugly."
The boys stood quite still,
looking first at their father and then at their
mother, while the baby, climbing up her clothes,
began an imperious, commanding cry.
"Thar!" said Aunt Chloe, wiping
her eyes and taking up the baby; "now I's done, I
hope,—now do eat something. This yer's my nicest
chicken. Thar, boys, ye shall have some, poor
critturs! Yer mammy's been cross to yer."
The boys needed no second
invitation, and went in with great zeal for the
eatables; and it was well they did so, as otherwise
there would have been very little performed to any
purpose by the party.
"Now," said Aunt Chloe, bustling
about after breakfast, "I must put up yer clothes.
Jest like as not, he'll take 'em all away. I know
thar ways—mean as dirt, they is! Wal, now, yer
flannels for rhumatis is in this corner; so be
careful, 'cause there won't nobody make ye no more.
Then here's yer old shirts, and these yer is new
ones. I toed off these yer stockings last night, and
put de ball in 'em to mend with. But Lor! who'll
ever mend for ye?" and Aunt Chloe, again overcome,
laid her head on the box side, and sobbed. "To think
on 't! no crittur to do for ye, sick or well! I
don't railly think I ought ter be good now!"
The boys, having eaten
everything there was on the breakfast-table, began
now to take some thought of the case; and, seeing
their mother crying, and their father looking very
sad, began to whimper and put their hands to their
eyes. Uncle Tom had the baby on his knee, and was
letting her enjoy herself to the utmost extent,
scratching his face and pulling his hair, and
occasionally breaking out into clamorous explosions
of delight, evidently arising out of her own
"Ay, crow away, poor crittur!"
said Aunt Chloe; "ye'll have to come to it, too!
ye'll live to see yer husband sold, or mebbe be sold
yerself; and these yer boys, they's to be sold, I
s'pose, too, jest like as not, when dey gets good
for somethin'; an't no use in niggers havin'
Here one of the boys called out,
"Thar's Missis a-comin' in!"
"She can't do no good; what's
she coming for?" said Aunt Chloe.
Mrs. Shelby entered. Aunt Chloe
set a chair for her in a manner decidedly gruff and
crusty. She did not seem to notice either the action
or the manner. She looked pale and anxious.
"Tom," she said, "I come to—"
and stopping suddenly, and regarding the silent
group, she sat down in the chair, and, covering her
face with her handkerchief, began to sob.
"Lor, now, Missis, don't—don't!"
said Aunt Chloe, bursting out in her turn; and for a
few moments they all wept in company. And in those
tears they all shed together, the high and the
lowly, melted away all the heart-burnings and anger
of the oppressed. O, ye who visit the distressed, do
ye know that everything your money can buy, given
with a cold, averted face, is not worth one honest
tear shed in real sympathy?
"My good fellow," said Mrs.
Shelby, "I can't give you anything to do you any
good. If I give you money, it will only be taken
from you. But I tell you solemnly, and before God,
that I will keep trace of you, and bring you back as
soon as I can command the money;—and, till then,
trust in God!"
Here the boys called out that
Mas'r Haley was coming, and then an unceremonious
kick pushed open the door. Haley stood there in very
ill humor, having ridden hard the night before, and
being not at all pacified by his ill success in
recapturing his prey.
"Come," said he, "ye nigger,
ye'r ready? Servant, ma'am!" said he, taking off his
hat, as he saw Mrs. Shelby.
Aunt Chloe shut and corded the
box, and, getting up, looked gruffly on the trader,
her tears seeming suddenly turned to sparks of fire.
Tom rose up meekly, to follow
his new master, and raised up his heavy box on his
shoulder. His wife took the baby in her arms to go
with him to the wagon, and the children, still
crying, trailed on behind.
Mrs. Shelby, walking up to the
trader, detained him for a few moments, talking with
him in an earnest manner; and while she was thus
talking, the whole family party proceeded to a
wagon, that stood ready harnessed at the door. A
crowd of all the old and young hands on the place
stood gathered around it, to bid farewell to their
old associate. Tom had been looked up to, both as a
head servant and a Christian teacher, by all the
place, and there was much honest sympathy and grief
about him, particularly among the women.
"Why, Chloe, you bar it better
'n we do!" said one of the women, who had been
weeping freely, noticing the gloomy calmness with
which Aunt Chloe stood by the wagon.
"I's done my tears!" she
said, looking grimly at the trader, who was coming
up. "I does not feel to cry 'fore dat ar old limb,
"Get in!" said Haley to Tom, as
he strode through the crowd of servants, who looked
at him with lowering brows.
Tom got in, and Haley, drawing
out from under the wagon seat a heavy pair of
shackles, made them fast around each ankle.
A smothered groan of indignation
ran through the whole circle, and Mrs. Shelby spoke
from the verandah,—"Mr. Haley, I assure you that
precaution is entirely unnecessary."
"Don' know, ma'am; I've lost one
five hundred dollars from this yer place, and I
can't afford to run no more risks."
"What else could she spect on
him?" said Aunt Chloe, indignantly, while the two
boys, who now seemed to comprehend at once their
father's destiny, clung to her gown, sobbing and
"I'm sorry," said Tom, "that
Mas'r George happened to be away."
George had gone to spend two or
three days with a companion on a neighboring estate,
and having departed early in the morning, before
Tom's misfortune had been made public, had left
without hearing of it.
"Give my love to Mas'r George,"
he said, earnestly.
Haley whipped up the horse, and,
with a steady, mournful look, fixed to the last on
the old place, Tom was whirled away.
Mr. Shelby at this time was not
at home. He had sold Tom under the spur of a driving
necessity, to get out of the power of a man whom he
dreaded,—and his first feeling, after the
consummation of the bargain, had been that of
relief. But his wife's expostulations awoke his
half-slumbering regrets; and Tom's manly
disinterestedness increased the unpleasantness of
his feelings. It was in vain that he said to himself
that he had a right to do it,—that everybody
did it,—and that some did it without even the excuse
of necessity;—he could not satisfy his own feelings;
and that he might not witness the unpleasant scenes
of the consummation, he had gone on a short business
tour up the country, hoping that all would be over
before he returned.
Tom and Haley rattled on along
the dusty road, whirling past every old familiar
spot, until the bounds of the estate were fairly
passed, and they found themselves out on the open
pike. After they had ridden about a mile, Haley
suddenly drew up at the door of a blacksmith's shop,
when, taking out with him a pair of handcuffs, he
stepped into the shop, to have a little alteration
"These yer 's a little too small
for his build," said Haley, showing the fetters, and
pointing out to Tom.
"Lor! now, if thar an't Shelby's
Tom. He han't sold him, now?" said the smith.
"Yes, he has," said Haley.
"Now, ye don't! well, reely,"
said the smith, "who'd a thought it! Why, ye needn't
go to fetterin' him up this yer way. He's the
faithfullest, best crittur—"
"Yes, yes," said Haley; "but
your good fellers are just the critturs to want ter
run off. Them stupid ones, as doesn't care whar they
go, and shifless, drunken ones, as don't care for
nothin', they'll stick by, and like as not be rather
pleased to be toted round; but these yer prime
fellers, they hates it like sin. No way but to
fetter 'em; got legs,—they'll use 'em,—no mistake."
"Well," said the smith, feeling
among his tools, "them plantations down thar,
stranger, an't jest the place a Kentuck nigger wants
to go to; they dies thar tol'able fast, don't they?"
"Wal, yes, tol'able fast, ther
dying is; what with the 'climating and one thing and
another, they dies so as to keep the market up
pretty brisk," said Haley.
"Wal, now, a feller can't help
thinkin' it's a mighty pity to have a nice, quiet,
likely feller, as good un as Tom is, go down to be
fairly ground up on one of them ar sugar
"Wal, he's got a fa'r chance. I
promised to do well by him. I'll get him in
house-servant in some good old family, and then, if
he stands the fever and 'climating, he'll have a
berth good as any nigger ought ter ask for."
"He leaves his wife and chil'en
up here, s'pose?"
"Yes; but he'll get another
thar. Lord, thar's women enough everywhar," said
Tom was sitting very mournfully
on the outside of the shop while this conversation
was going on. Suddenly he heard the quick, short
click of a horse's hoof behind him; and, before he
could fairly awake from his surprise, young Master
George sprang into the wagon, threw his arms
tumultuously round his neck, and was sobbing and
scolding with energy.
"I declare, it's real mean! I
don't care what they say, any of 'em! It's a nasty,
mean shame! If I was a man, they shouldn't do
it,—they should not, so!" said George, with a
kind of subdued howl.
"O! Mas'r George! this does me
good!" said Tom. "I couldn't bar to go off without
seein' ye! It does me real good, ye can't tell!"
Here Tom made some movement of his feet, and
George's eye fell on the fetters.
"What a shame!" he exclaimed,
lifting his hands. "I'll knock that old fellow
"No you won't, Mas'r George; and
you must not talk so loud. It won't help me any, to
"Well, I won't, then, for your
sake; but only to think of it—isn't it a shame? They
never sent for me, nor sent me any word, and, if it
hadn't been for Tom Lincon, I shouldn't have heard
it. I tell you, I blew 'em up well, all of 'em, at
"That ar wasn't right, I'm
'feard, Mas'r George."
"Can't help it! I say it's a
shame! Look here, Uncle Tom," said he, turning his
back to the shop, and speaking in a mysterious tone,
"I've brought you my dollar!"
"O! I couldn't think o' takin'
on 't, Mas'r George, no ways in the world!" said
Tom, quite moved.
"But you shall take it!"
said George; "look here—I told Aunt Chloe I'd do it,
and she advised me just to make a hole in it, and
put a string through, so you could hang it round
your neck, and keep it out of sight; else this mean
scamp would take it away. I tell ye, Tom, I want to
blow him up! it would do me good!"
"No, don't Mas'r George, for it
won't do me any good."
"Well, I won't, for your sake,"
said George, busily tying his dollar round Tom's
neck; "but there, now, button your coat tight over
it, and keep it, and remember, every time you see
it, that I'll come down after you, and bring you
back. Aunt Chloe and I have been talking about it. I
told her not to fear; I'll see to it, and I'll tease
father's life out, if he don't do it."
"O! Mas'r George, ye mustn't
talk so 'bout yer father!"
"Lor, Uncle Tom, I don't mean
"And now, Mas'r George," said
Tom, "ye must be a good boy; 'member how many hearts
is sot on ye. Al'ays keep close to yer mother. Don't
be gettin' into any of them foolish ways boys has of
gettin' too big to mind their mothers. Tell ye what,
Mas'r George, the Lord gives good many things twice
over; but he don't give ye a mother but once. Ye'll
never see sich another woman, Mas'r George, if ye
live to be a hundred years old. So, now, you hold on
to her, and grow up, and be a comfort to her, thar's
my own good boy,—you will now, won't ye?"
"Yes, I will, Uncle Tom," said
"And be careful of yer speaking,
Mas'r George. Young boys, when they comes to your
age, is wilful, sometimes—it is natur they should
be. But real gentlemen, such as I hopes you'll be,
never lets fall on words that isn't 'spectful to
thar parents. Ye an't 'fended, Mas'r George?"
"No, indeed, Uncle Tom; you
always did give me good advice."
"I's older, ye know," said Tom,
stroking the boy's fine, curly head with his large,
strong hand, but speaking in a voice as tender as a
woman's, "and I sees all that's bound up in you. O,
Mas'r George, you has everything,—l'arnin',
privileges, readin', writin',—and you'll grow up to
be a great, learned, good man and all the people on
the place and your mother and father'll be so proud
on ye! Be a good Mas'r, like yer father; and be a
Christian, like yer mother. 'Member yer Creator in
the days o' yer youth, Mas'r George."
"I'll be real good, Uncle
Tom, I tell you," said George. "I'm going to be a
first-rater; and don't you be discouraged. I'll
have you back to the place, yet. As I told Aunt
Chloe this morning, I'll build our house all over,
and you shall have a room for a parlor with a carpet
on it, when I'm a man. O, you'll have good times
Haley now came to the door, with
the handcuffs in his hands.
"Look here, now, Mister," said
George, with an air of great superiority, as he got
out, "I shall let father and mother know how you
treat Uncle Tom!"
"You're welcome," said the
"I should think you'd be ashamed
to spend all your life buying men and women, and
chaining them, like cattle! I should think you'd
feel mean!" said George.
"So long as your grand folks
wants to buy men and women, I'm as good as they is,"
said Haley; "'tan't any meaner sellin' on 'em, that
't is buyin'!"
"I'll never do either, when I'm
a man," said George; "I'm ashamed, this day, that
I'm a Kentuckian. I always was proud of it before;"
and George sat very straight on his horse, and
looked round with an air, as if he expected the
state would be impressed with his opinion.
"Well, good-by, Uncle Tom; keep
a stiff upper lip," said George.
"Good-by, Mas'r George," said
Tom, looking fondly and admiringly at him. "God
Almighty bless you! Ah! Kentucky han't got many like
you!" he said, in the fulness of his heart, as the
frank, boyish face was lost to his view. Away he
went, and Tom looked, till the clatter of his
horse's heels died away, the last sound or sight of
his home. But over his heart there seemed to be a
warm spot, where those young hands had placed that
precious dollar. Tom put up his hand, and held it
close to his heart.
"Now, I tell ye what, Tom," said
Haley, as he came up to the wagon, and threw in the
handcuffs, "I mean to start fa'r with ye, as I
gen'ally do with my niggers; and I'll tell ye now,
to begin with, you treat me fa'r, and I'll treat you
fa'r; I an't never hard on my niggers. Calculates to
do the best for 'em I can. Now, ye see, you'd better
jest settle down comfortable, and not be tryin' no
tricks; because nigger's tricks of all sorts I'm up
to, and it's no use. If niggers is quiet, and don't
try to get off, they has good times with me; and if
they don't, why, it's thar fault, and not mine."
Tom assured Haley that he had no
present intentions of running off. In fact, the
exhortation seemed rather a superfluous one to a man
with a great pair of iron fetters on his feet. But
Mr. Haley had got in the habit of commencing his
relations with his stock with little exhortations of
this nature, calculated, as he deemed, to inspire
cheerfulness and confidence, and prevent the
necessity of any unpleasant scenes.
And here, for the present, we
take our leave of Tom, to pursue the fortunes of
other characters in our story.