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.
looking the very picture of delight,
was superintending the arrangements of the table,
ever and anon mingling admonitory remarks to a number of frolicsome juveniles,
who were effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and mischief that have astonished mothers ever since the flood.
let the door-knob alone,
--there's a man!
don't pull the cat's tail,
you mustn't climb on that table,
--You don't know,
what a surprise it is to us all,
to see you here tonight!"
when she found a space to say something to her husband.
I thought I'd just make a run down,
spend the night,
and have a little comfort at home.
I'm tired to death,
and my head aches!"
Mrs. Bird cast a glance at a camphor-bottle,
which stood in the half-open closet,
and appeared to meditate an approach to it,
but her husband interposed.
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.
said his wife,
after the business of the tea-table was getting rather slack,
"and what have they been doing in the Senate?"
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.
opened his eyes in surprise,
"Not very much of importance."
but is it true that they have been passing a law forbidding people to give meat and drink to those poor colored folks that come along?
I heard they were talking of some such law,
but I didn't think any Christian legislature would pass it!"
you are getting to be a politician,
all at once."
I wouldn't give a fig for all your politics,
but I think this is something downright cruel and unchristian.
no such law has been passed."
"There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off the slaves that come over from Kentucky,
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,
and to give
'em something comfortable to eat,
and a few old clothes,
and send them quietly about their business?"
that would be aiding and abetting,
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;
I heard mother crying outside the door,
which made me feel worse than all the rest.
I'll tell you what,"
"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,
in a determined tone,
I want to know if you think such a law as that is right and Christian?"
"You won't shoot me,
if I say I do!"
"I never could have thought it of you,
you didn't vote for it?"
my fair politician."
"You ought to be ashamed,
It's a shameful,
and I'll break it,
the first time I get a chance;
and I hope I -shall- have a chance,
Things have got to a pretty pass,
if a woman can't give a warm supper and a bed to poor,
just because they are slaves,
and have been abused and oppressed all their lives,
just listen to me.
Your feelings are all quite right,
and I love you for them;
we mustn't suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment;
you must consider it's a matter of private feeling,
--there are great public interests involved,
--there is such a state of public agitation rising,
that we must put aside our private feelings."
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,
to -do as He- bids us.
listen to me,
and I can state to you a very clear argument,
to show --"
you can talk all night,
but you wouldn't do it.
I put it to you,
--would -you- now turn away a poor,
hungry creature from your door,
because he was a runaway?
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,
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.
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,
or may be you'd take her up and put her in jail,
You would make a great hand at that!"
it would be a very painful duty,"
began Mr. Bird,
in a moderate tone.
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,
--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,
I tell you folks don't run away when they are happy;
and when they do run,
they suffer enough with cold and hunger and fear,
without everybody's turning against them;
law or no law,
I never will,
so help me God!"
let me reason with you."
"I hate reasoning,
--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,
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,
the black man-of-all-work,
put his head in at the door,
and wished "Missis would come into the kitchen;"
and our senator,
looked after his little wife with a whimsical mixture of amusement and vexation,
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,
I do wish you'd come here,
He laid down his paper,
and went into the kitchen,
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,
struck a solemn chill over him.
He drew his breath short,
and stood in silence.
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.
if she an't a sight to behold!"
said old Dinah,
'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,
by the looks of her hands."
said Mrs. Bird,
as the woman slowly unclosed her large,
and looked vacantly at her.
Suddenly an expression of agony crossed her face,
and she sprang up,
Have they got him?"
jumped from Cudjoe's knee,
and running to her side put up his arms.
to Mrs. Bird,
"do protect us!
don't let them get him!"
"Nobody shall hurt you here,
said Mrs. Bird,
"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,
rendered more calm.
A temporary bed was provided for her on the settle,
near the fire;
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;
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,
strange as it may appear,
no reference was made,
on either side,
to the preceding conversation;
but Mrs. Bird busied herself with her knitting-work,
and Mr. Bird pretended to be reading the paper.
"I wonder who and what she is!"
said Mr. Bird,
as he laid it down.
"When she wakes up and feels a little rested,
we will see,"
said Mrs. Bird.
said Mr. Bird after musing in silence over his newspaper.
"She couldn't wear one of your gowns,
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,
and Mr. Bird again broke out,
there's that old bombazin cloak,
that you keep on purpose to put over me when I take my afternoon's nap;
you might as well give her that,
--she needs clothes."
At this instant,
Dinah looked in to say that the woman was awake,
and wanted to see Missis.
Mr. and Mrs. Bird went into the kitchen,
followed by the two eldest boys,
the smaller fry having,
by this time,
been safely disposed of in bed.
The woman was now sitting up on the settle,
by the fire.
She was looking steadily into the blaze,
with a calm,
very different from her former agitated wildness.
"Did you want me?"
said Mrs. Bird,
in gentle tones.
"I hope you feel better now,
shivering sigh was the only answer;
but she lifted her dark eyes,
and fixed them on her with such a forlorn and imploring expression,
that the tears came into the little woman's eyes.
"You needn't be afraid of anything;
we are friends here,
Tell me where you came from,
and what you want,"
"I came from Kentucky,"
said the woman.
said Mr. Bird,
taking up the interogatory.
"How did you come?"
"I crossed on the ice."
"Crossed on the ice!"
said every one present.
said the woman,
God helping me,
I crossed on the ice;
for they were behind me --right behind --and there was no other way!"
"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!"
"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
till they try,"
said the woman,
with a flashing eye.
"Were you a slave?"
said Mr. Bird.
I belonged to a man in Kentucky."
"Was he unkind to you?"
he was a good master."
"And was your mistress unkind to you?"
my mistress was always good to me."
"What could induce you to leave a good home,
and run away,
and go through such dangers?"
The woman looked up at Mrs. Bird,
with a keen,
and it did not escape her that she was dressed in deep mourning.
"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;
recovering her voice,
"Why do you ask that?
I have lost a little one."
"Then you will feel for me.
I have lost two,
one after another,
'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;
they were going to take him away from me,
--to -sell- him,
--sell him down south,
to go all alone,
--a baby that had never been away from his mother in his life!
I couldn't stand it,
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
I jumped right on to the ice;
and how I got across,
I don't know,
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,
"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,
--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.
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.
't was no use of my trying to live,
if they did it;
'pears like this child is all I have."
"Have you no husband?"
but he belongs to another man.
His master is real hard to him,
and won't let him come to see me,
and he's grown harder and harder upon us,
and he threatens to sell him down south;
--it's like I'll never see -him- again!"
The quiet tone in which the woman pronounced these words might have led a superficial observer to think that she was entirely apathetic;
but there was a calm,
settled depth of anguish in her large,
that spoke of something far otherwise.
"And where do you mean to go,
my poor woman?"
said Mrs. Bird.
if I only knew where that was.
Is it very far off,
with a simple,
to Mrs. Bird's face.
said Mrs. Bird,
't a very great way off,
said the woman,
"Much further than you think,
said Mrs. Bird;
"but we will try to think what can be done for you.
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.
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,
confounded awkward business!"
striding up to his 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,
to be caught with them both here,
they'll have to be got off tonight."
How is it possible?
I know pretty well where to,"
said the senator,
beginning to put on his boots,
with a reflective air;
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,
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,
for aught I see,
--hang it all!"
and he drew the other boot anxiously on,
and looked out of the window.
little Mrs. Bird was a discreet woman,
--a woman who never in her life said,
"I told you so!"
on the present occasion,
though pretty well aware of the shape her husband's meditations were taking,
she very prudently forbore to meddle with them,
only sat very quietly in her chair,
and looked quite ready to hear her liege lord's intentions,
when he should think proper to utter them.
"there's my old client,
has come over from Kentucky,
and set all his slaves free;
and he has bought a place seven miles up the creek,
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,
Cudjoe is an excellent driver."
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.
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;
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;
I can't help it!"
"Your heart is better than your head,
in this case,
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;
what could he do but walk off soberly,
to see about the carriage.
At the door,
he stopped a moment,
and then coming back,
with some hesitation.
I don't know how you'd feel about it,
but there's that drawer full of things --of --of --poor little Henry's."
he turned quickly on his heel,
and shut the door after him.
His wife opened the little bed-room door adjoining her room and,
taking the candle,
set it down on the top of a bureau there;
then from a small recess she took a key,
and put it thoughtfully in the lock of a drawer,
and made a sudden pause,
while two boys,
had followed close on her heels,
at their mother.
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?
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,
--memorials gathered with many a tear and many a heart-break!
She sat down by the drawer,
leaning her head on her hands over it,
wept till the tears fell through her fingers into the drawer;
then suddenly raising her head,
with nervous haste,
selecting the plainest and most substantial articles,
and gathering them into a bundle.
said one of the boys,
gently touching her arm,
"you going to give away -those- things?"
"My dear boys,"
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,
taking from thence a plain,
serviceable dress or two,
she sat down busily to her work-table,
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.
said her husband,
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.
arrayed in a cloak,
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,
full of earnest meaning,
on Mrs. Bird's face,
and seemed going to speak.
Her lips moved,
--she tried once or twice,
but there was no sound,
--and pointing upward,
with a look never to be forgotten,
she fell back in the seat,
and covered her face.
The door was shut,
and the carriage drove on.
What a situation,
for a patriotic senator,
that had been all the week before spurring up the legislature of his native state to pass more stringent resolutions against escaping fugitives,
their harborers and abettors!
Our good senator in his native state had not been exceeded by any of his brethren at Washington,
in the sort of eloquence which has won for them immortal renown!
How sublimely he had sat with his hands in his pockets,
and scouted all sentimental weakness of those who would put the welfare of a few miserable fugitives before great state interests!
He was as bold as a lion about it,
and "mightily convinced" not only himself,
but everybody that heard him;
--but then his idea of a fugitive was only an idea of the letters that spell the word,
--or at the most,
the image of a little newspaper picture of a man with a stick and bundle with "Ran away from the subscriber" under it.
The magic of the real presence of distress,
--the imploring human eye,
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;
as our poor senator was not stone or steel,
--as he was a man,
and a downright noble-hearted one,
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,
as in Mississippi,
are noble and generous hearts,
to whom never was tale of suffering told in vain.
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.
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.
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,
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,
down and crosswise,
with divers chasms and ruts of black mud intervening.
Over such a road as this our senator went stumbling along,
making moral reflections as continuously as under the circumstances could be expected,
--the carriage proceeding along much as follows,
down in the mud!
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,
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;
and Cudjoe on the outside delivers animated addresses to the horses,
who are kicking,
and straining under repeated cracks of the whip.
Carriage springs up,
with another bounce,
--down go the hind wheels,
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,
--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!
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,
with a square plunge,
which puts all on to their feet and then down into their seats with incredible quickness,
the carriage stops,
after much outside commotion,
Cudjoe appears at the door.
it's powerful bad spot,
I don't know how we's to get clar out.
I'm a thinkin' we'll have to be a gettin' rails."
The senator despairingly steps out,
picking gingerly for some firm foothold;
down goes one foot an immeasurable depth,
--he tries to pull it up,
loses his balance,
and tumbles over into the mud,
and is fished out,
in a very despairing condition,
But we forbear,
out of sympathy to our readers' bones.
who have beguiled the midnight hour in the interesting process of pulling down rail fences,
to pry their carriages out of mud holes,
will have a respectful and mournful sympathy with our unfortunate hero.
We beg them to drop a silent tear,
and pass on.
It was full late in the night when the carriage emerged,
dripping and bespattered,
out of the creek,
and stood at the door of a large farmhouse.
It took no inconsiderable perseverance to arouse the inmates;
but at last the respectable proprietor appeared,
and undid the door.
He was a great,
bristling Orson of a fellow,
full six feet and some inches in his stockings,
and arrayed in a red flannel hunting-shirt.
A very heavy mat of sandy hair,
in a decidedly tousled condition,
and a beard of some days' growth,
gave the worthy man an appearance,
to say the least,
not particularly prepossessing.
He stood for a few minutes holding the candle aloft,
and blinking on our travellers with a dismal and mystified expression that was truly ludicrous.
It cost some effort of our senator to induce him to comprehend the case fully;
and while he is doing his best at that,
we shall give him a little introduction to our readers.
Honest old John Van Trompe was once quite a considerable land-owner and slave-owner in the State of Kentucky.
Having "nothing of the bear about him but the skin,"
and being gifted by nature with a great,
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.
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,
made out free papers for all his people,
--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,
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,
"I rather think I am,"
said honest John,
with some considerable emphasis.
"I thought so,"
said the senator.
"If there's anybody comes,"
said the good man,
stretching his tall,
muscular form upward,
"why here I'm ready for him: and I've got seven sons,
each six foot high,
and they'll be ready for
Give our respects to
'em it's no matter how soon they call,
--make no kinder difference to us,"
running his fingers through the shock of hair that thatched his head,
and bursting out into a great laugh.
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.
you needn't be a bit afeard,
let who will come here.
I'm up to all that sort o' thing,"
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,"
as he shut the door.
this is an uncommon handsome un,"
he said to the senator.
handsome uns has the greatest cause to run,
if they has any kind o' feelin,
such as decent women should.
I know all about that."
in a few words,
briefly explained Eliza's history.
I want to know?"
said the good man,
That's natur now,
hunted down now like a deer,
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',
o' most anything,"
said honest John,
as he wiped his eyes with the back of a great,
"I tell yer what,
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
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,
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,
"and I'll call up the old woman,
and have a bed got ready for you in no time."
my good friend,"
said the senator,
"I must be along,
to take the night stage for Columbus."
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,
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,"
with equal conciseness.
They shook hands,
The Property Is Carried Off
The February morning looked gray and drizzling through the window of Uncle Tom's cabin.
It looked on downcast faces,
the images of mournful hearts.
The little table stood out before the fire,
covered with an ironing-cloth;
a coarse but clean shirt or two,
fresh from the iron,
hung on the back of a chair by the fire,
and Aunt Chloe had another spread out before her on the table.
Carefully she rubbed and ironed every fold and every hem,
with the most scrupulous exactness,
every now and then raising her hand to her face to wipe off the tears that were coursing down her cheeks.
Tom sat by,
with his Testament open on his knee,
and his head leaning upon his hand;
--but neither spoke.
It was yet early,
and the children lay all asleep together in their little rude trundle-bed.
to the full,
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,"
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
or how they'd sarve you!
Missis says she'll try and
in a year or two;
nobody never comes up that goes down thar!
'em tell how dey works
'em up on dem ar plantations."
"There'll be the same God there,
that there is here."
said Aunt Chloe,
"s'pose dere will;
but de Lord lets drefful things happen,
I don't seem to get no comfort dat way."
"I'm in the Lord's hands,"
"nothin' can go no furder than he lets it;
--and thar's -one- thing I can thank him for.
It's -me- that's sold and going down,
and not you nur the chil'en.
Here you're safe;
--what comes will come only on me;
and the Lord,
he'll help me,
--I know he will."
--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!"
as if he was quite sure he needed to think on them very hard indeed.
said Aunt Chloe;
"don't see no marcy in
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,
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
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,
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
and nat'lly they don't think so much on
They can't be spected to,
'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."
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
but thar's wrong somewhar,
I'm -clar- o' that."
"Yer ought ter look up to the Lord above --he's above all --thar don't a sparrow fall without him."
"It don't seem to comfort me,
but I spect it orter,"
said Aunt Chloe.
"But dar's no use talkin';
I'll jes wet up de corn-cake,
and get ye one good breakfast,
'cause nobody knows when you'll get another."
In order to appreciate the sufferings of the negroes sold south,
it must be remembered that all the instinctive affections of that race are peculiarly strong.
Their local attachments are very abiding.
They are not naturally daring and enterprising,
but home-loving and affectionate.
Add to this all the terrors with which ignorance invests the unknown,
and add to this,
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-,
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,
timid and unenterprising,
with heroic courage,
and leads him to suffer hunger,
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.
"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.
crowing over the last breakfast yer poor daddy's gwine to have to home!"
I can't help it,"
said Aunt Chloe,
hiding her face in her apron;
'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,
said Aunt Chloe,
wiping her eyes and taking up the baby;
"now I's done,
--now do eat something.
This yer's my nicest chicken.
ye shall have some,
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.
said Aunt Chloe,
bustling about after breakfast,
"I must put up yer clothes.
Jest like as not,
'em all away.
I know thar ways --mean as dirt,
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.
who'll ever mend for ye?"
and Aunt Chloe,
laid her head on the box side,
"To think on
no crittur to do for ye,
sick or well!
I don't railly think I ought ter be good now!"
having eaten everything there was on the breakfast-table,
began now to take some thought of the case;
seeing their mother crying,
and their father looking very sad,
began to whimper and put their hands to their eyes.
Uncle Tom had the baby on his knee,
and was letting her enjoy herself to the utmost extent,
scratching his face and pulling his hair,
and occasionally breaking out into clamorous explosions of delight,
evidently arising out of her own internal reflections.
said Aunt Chloe;
"ye'll have to come to it,
ye'll live to see yer husband sold,
or mebbe be sold yerself;
and these yer boys,
they's to be sold,
jest like as not,
when dey gets good for somethin';
an't no use in niggers havin' nothin'!"
Here one of the boys called out,
"Thar's Missis a-comin' in!"
"She can't do no good;
what's she coming for?"
said Aunt Chloe.
Mrs. Shelby entered.
Aunt Chloe set a chair for her in a manner decidedly gruff and crusty.
She did not seem to notice either the action or the manner.
She looked pale and anxious.
"I come to --" and stopping suddenly,
and regarding the silent group,
she sat down in the chair,
covering her face with her handkerchief,
began to sob.
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.
ye who visit the distressed,
do ye know that everything your money can buy,
given with a cold,
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;
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.
taking off his hat,
as he saw Mrs. Shelby.
Aunt Chloe shut and corded the box,
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,
trailed on behind.
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.
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!"
looking grimly at the trader,
who was coming up.
"I does not feel to cry
'fore dat ar old limb,
said Haley to Tom,
as he strode through the crowd of servants,
who looked at him with lowering brows.
Tom got in,
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,
I assure you that precaution is entirely unnecessary."
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,
while the two boys,
who now seemed to comprehend at once their father's destiny,
clung to her gown,
sobbing and groaning vehemently.
"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,"
Haley whipped up the horse,
with a steady,
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,
taking out with him a pair of handcuffs,
he stepped into the shop,
to have a little alteration in them.
's a little too small for his build,"
showing the fetters,
and pointing out to Tom.
if thar an't Shelby's Tom.
He han't sold him,
said the smith.
said the smith,
"who'd a thought it!
ye needn't go to fetterin' him up this yer way.
He's the faithfullest,
best crittur --"
"but your good fellers are just the critturs to want ter run off.
Them stupid ones,
as doesn't care whar they go,
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
said the smith,
feeling among his tools,
"them plantations down thar,
an't jest the place a Kentuck nigger wants to go to;
they dies thar 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,"
a feller can't help thinkin' it's a mighty pity to have a nice,
as good un as Tom is,
go down to be fairly ground up on one of them ar sugar plantations."
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,
if he stands the fever and
he'll have a berth good as any nigger ought ter ask for."
"He leaves his wife and chil'en up here,
but he'll get another thar.
thar's women enough everywhar,"
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;
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.
it's real mean!
I don't care what they say,
It's a nasty,
If I was a man,
they shouldn't do it,
--they should not,
with a kind of subdued howl.
this does me good!"
"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!"
lifting his hands.
"I'll knock that old fellow down --I will!"
"No you won't,
and you must not talk so loud.
It won't help me any,
to anger him."
for your sake;
but only to think of it --isn't it a shame?
They never sent for me,
nor sent me any word,
if it hadn't been for Tom Lincon,
I shouldn't have heard it.
I tell you,
'em up well,
"That ar wasn't right,
"Can't help it!
I say it's a shame!
turning his back to the shop,
and speaking in a mysterious tone,
-"I've brought you my dollar!"-
I couldn't think o' takin' on
no ways in the world!"
"But you -shall- take it!"
"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,
I want to blow him up!
it would do me good!"
don't Mas'r George,
for it won't do -me- any good."
for your sake,"
busily tying his dollar round Tom's neck;
button your coat tight over it,
and keep it,
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."
ye mustn't talk so
'bout yer father!"
I don't mean anything bad."
"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,
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,
if ye live to be a hundred years old.
you hold on to her,
and grow up,
and be a comfort to her,
thar's my own good boy,
--you will now,
said George seriously.
"And be careful of yer speaking,
when they comes to your age,
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.
you always did give me good advice."
stroking the boy's fine,
curly head with his large,
but speaking in a voice as tender as a woman's,
"and I sees all that's bound up in you.
you has everything,
--and you'll grow up to be a great,
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,
"I'll be -real- good,
I tell you,"
"I'm going to be a -first-rater-;
and don't you be discouraged.
I'll have you back to the place,
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.
you'll have good times yet!"
Haley now came to the door,
with the handcuffs in his hands.
with an air of great superiority,
as he got out,
"I shall let father and mother know how you treat Uncle Tom!"
said the trader.
"I should think you'd be ashamed to spend all your life buying men and women,
and chaining them,
I should think you'd feel mean!"
"So long as your grand folks wants to buy men and women,
I'm as good as they is,"
"'tan't any meaner sellin' on
't is buyin'!"
"I'll never do either,
when I'm a man,"
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.
keep a stiff upper lip,"
looking fondly and admiringly at him.
"God Almighty bless you!
Kentucky han't got many like you!"
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.
I tell ye what,
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.
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,
it's thar fault,
and not mine."
Tom assured Haley that he had no present intentions of running off.
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,
as he deemed,
to inspire cheerfulness and confidence,
and prevent the necessity of any unpleasant scenes.
for the present,
we take our leave of Tom,
to pursue the fortunes of other characters in our story.
In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind
It was late in a drizzly afternoon that a traveler alighted at the door of a small country hotel,
in the village of N -- --,
In the barroom he found assembled quite a miscellaneous company,
whom stress of weather had driven to harbor,
and the place presented the usual scenery of such reunions.
attired in hunting-shirts,
and trailing their loose joints over a vast extent of territory,
with the easy lounge peculiar to the race,
--rifles stacked away in the corner,
and little negroes,
all rolled together in the corners,
--were the characteristic features in the picture.
At each end of the fireplace sat a long-legged gentleman,
with his chair tipped back,
his hat on his head,
and the heels of his muddy boots reposing sublimely on the mantel-piece,
we will inform our readers,
decidedly favorable to the turn of reflection incident to western taverns,
where travellers exhibit a decided preference for this particular mode of elevating their understandings.
who stood behind the bar,
like most of his country men,
was great of stature,
good-natured and loose-jointed,
with an enormous shock of hair on his head,
and a great tall hat on the top of that.
everybody in the room bore on his head this characteristic emblem of man's sovereignty;
whether it were felt hat,
or fine new chapeau,
there it reposed with true republican independence.
it appeared to be the characteristic mark of every individual.
Some wore them tipped rakishly to one side --these were your men of humor,
some had them jammed independently down over their noses --these were your hard characters,
when they wore their hats,
-wanted- to wear them,
and to wear them just as they had a mind to;
there were those who had them set far over back --wide-awake men,
who wanted a clear prospect;
while careless men,
who did not know,
how their hats sat,
had them shaking about in all directions.
The various hats,
were quite a Shakespearean study.
in very free-and-easy pantaloons,
and with no redundancy in the shirt line,
were scuttling about,
hither and thither,
without bringing to pass any very particular results,
except expressing a generic willingness to turn over everything in creation generally for the benefit of Mas'r and his guests.
Add to this picture a jolly,
going rejoicingly up a great wide chimney,
--the outer door and every window being set wide open,
and the calico window-curtain flopping and snapping in a good stiff breeze of damp raw air,
--and you have an idea of the jollities of a Kentucky tavern.
Your Kentuckian of the present day is a good illustration of the doctrine of transmitted instincts and peculiarities.
His fathers were mighty hunters,
--men who lived in the woods,
and slept under the free,
with the stars to hold their candles;
and their descendant to this day always acts as if the house were his camp,
--wears his hat at all hours,
tumbles himself about,
and puts his heels on the tops of chairs or mantelpieces,
just as his father rolled on the green sward,
and put his upon trees and logs,
--keeps all the windows and doors open,
winter and summer,
that he may get air enough for his great lungs,
--calls everybody "stranger,"
with nonchalant -bonhommie-,
and is altogether the frankest,
most jovial creature living.
Into such an assembly of the free and easy our traveller entered.
He was a short,
with a round,
and something rather fussy and particular in his appearance.
He was very careful of his valise and umbrella,
bringing them in with his own hands,
all offers from the various servants to relieve him of them.
He looked round the barroom with rather an anxious air,
retreating with his valuables to the warmest corner,
disposed them under his chair,
and looked rather apprehensively up at the worthy whose heels illustrated the end of the mantel-piece,
who was spitting from right to left,
with a courage and energy rather alarming to gentlemen of weak nerves and particular habits.
how are ye?"
said the aforesaid gentleman,
firing an honorary salute of tobacco-juice in the direction of the new arrival.
was the reply of the other,
as he dodged,
with some alarm,
the threatening honor.
said the respondent,
taking out a strip of tobacco and a large hunting-knife from his pocket.
"Not that I know of,"
said the man.
said the first speaker,
handing the old gentleman a bit of his tobacco,
with a decidedly brotherly air.
thank ye --it don't agree with me,"
said the little man,
said the other,
and stowing away the morsel in his own mouth,
in order to keep up the supply of tobacco-juice,
for the general benefit of society.
The old gentleman uniformly gave a little start whenever his long-sided brother fired in his direction;
and this being observed by his companion,
he very good-naturedly turned his artillery to another quarter,
and proceeded to storm one of the fire-irons with a degree of military talent fully sufficient to take a city.
said the old gentleman,
observing some of the company formed in a group around a large handbill.
said one of the company,
for that was the old gentleman's name,
after carefully adjusting his valise and umbrella,
proceeded deliberately to take out his spectacles and fix them on his nose;
this operation being performed,
read as follows:
"Ran away from the subscriber,
my mulatto boy,
Said George six feet in height,
a very light mulatto,
brown curly hair;
is very intelligent,
can read and write,
will probably try to pass for a white man,
is deeply scarred on his back and shoulders,
has been branded in his right hand with the letter H. "I will give four hundred dollars for him alive,
and the same sum for satisfactory proof that he has been -killed."-
The old gentleman read this advertisement from end to end in a low voice,
as if he were studying it.
The long-legged veteran,
who had been besieging the fire-iron,
as before related,
now took down his cumbrous length,
and rearing aloft his tall form,
walked up to the advertisement and very deliberately spit a full discharge of tobacco-juice on it.
"There's my mind upon that!"
and sat down again.
what's that for?"
said mine host.
"I'd do it all the same to the writer of that ar paper,
if he was here,"
said the long man,
coolly resuming his old employment of cutting tobacco.
"Any man that owns a boy like that,
and can't find any better way o' treating on him,
-deserves- to lose him.
Such papers as these is a shame to Kentucky;
that's my mind right out,
if anybody wants to know!"
that's a fact,"
said mine host,
as he made an entry in his book.
"I've got a gang of boys,
said the long man,
resuming his attack on the fire-irons,
"and I jest tells
jest when ye want to!
I never shall come to look after you!'
That's the way I keep mine.
'em know they are free to run any time,
and it jest breaks up their wanting to.
I've got free papers for
'em all recorded,
in case I gets keeled up any o' these times,
and they know it;
and I tell ye,
there an't a fellow in our parts gets more out of his niggers than I do.
my boys have been to Cincinnati,
with five hundred dollars' worth of colts,
and brought me back the money,
time and agin.
It stands to reason they should.
'em like dogs,
and you'll have dogs' works and dogs' actions.
'em like men,
and you'll have men's works."
And the honest drover,
in his warmth,
endorsed this moral sentiment by firing a perfect -feu de joi- at the fireplace.
"I think you're altogether right,
said Mr. Wilson;
"and this boy described here -is- a fine fellow --no mistake about that.
He worked for me some half-dozen years in my bagging factory,
and he was my best hand,
He is an ingenious fellow,
too: he invented a machine for the cleaning of hemp --a really valuable affair;
it's gone into use in several factories.
His master holds the patent of it."
"I'll warrant ye,"
said the drover,
"holds it and makes money out of it,
and then turns round and brands the boy in his right hand.
If I had a fair chance,
I'd mark him,
I reckon so that he'd carry it -one- while."
"These yer knowin' boys is allers aggravatin' and sarcy,"
said a coarse-looking fellow,
from the other side of the room;
"that's why they gets cut up and marked so.
If they behaved themselves,
"That is to say,
the Lord made
and it's a hard squeeze gettin
'em down into beasts,"
said the drover,
"Bright niggers isn't no kind of
'vantage to their masters,"
continued the other,
in a coarse,
from the contempt of his opponent;
"what's the use o' talents and them things,
if you can't get the use on
all the use they make on
't is to get round you.
I've had one or two of these fellers,
and I jest sold
'em down river.
I knew I'd got to lose
first or last,
if I didn't."
"Better send orders up to the Lord,
to make you a set,
and leave out their souls entirely,"
said the drover.
Here the conversation was interrupted by the approach of a small one-horse buggy to the inn.
It had a genteel appearance,
and a well-dressed,
gentlemanly man sat on the seat,
with a colored servant driving.
The whole party examined the new comer with the interest with which a set of loafers in a rainy day usually examine every newcomer.
He was very tall,
with a dark,
expressive black eyes,
and close-curling hair,
also of a glossy blackness.
His well-formed aquiline nose,
straight thin lips,
and the admirable contour of his finely-formed limbs,
impressed the whole company instantly with the idea of something uncommon.
He walked easily in among the company,
and with a nod indicated to his waiter where to place his trunk,
bowed to the company,
with his hat in his hand,
walked up leisurely to the bar,
and gave in his name as Henry Butter,
with an indifferent air,
he sauntered up to the advertisement,
and read it over.
he said to his man,
"seems to me we met a boy something like this,
up at Beman's,
"only I an't sure about the hand."
I didn't look,
said the stranger with a careless yawn.
Then walking up to the landlord,
he desired him to furnish him with a private apartment,
as he had some writing to do immediately.
The landlord was all obsequious,
and a relay of about seven negroes,
old and young,
male and female,
little and big,
were soon whizzing about,
like a covey of partridges,
treading on each other's toes,
and tumbling over each other,
in their zeal to get Mas'r's room ready,
while he seated himself easily on a chair in the middle of the room,
and entered into conversation with the man who sat next to him.
from the time of the entrance of the stranger,
had regarded him with an air of disturbed and uneasy curiosity.
He seemed to himself to have met and been acquainted with him somewhere,
but he could not recollect.
Every few moments,
when the man spoke,
he would start and fix his eyes on him,
and then suddenly withdraw them,
as the bright,
dark eyes met his with such unconcerned coolness.
a sudden recollection seemed to flash upon him,
for he stared at the stranger with such an air of blank amazement and alarm,
that he walked up to him.
in a tone of recognition,
and extending his hand.
"I beg your pardon,
I didn't recollect you before.
I see you remember me,
"Ye --yes --yes,
said Mr. Wilson,
like one speaking in a dream.
Just then a negro boy entered,
and announced that Mas'r's room was ready.
see to the trunks,"
said the gentleman,
then addressing himself to Mr. Wilson,
he added --"I should like to have a few moments' conversation with you on business,
in my room,
if you please."
Mr. Wilson followed him,
as one who walks in his sleep;
and they proceeded to a large upper chamber,
where a new-made fire was crackling,
and various servants flying about,
putting finishing touches to the arrangements.
When all was done,
and the servants departed,
the young man deliberately locked the door,
and putting the key in his pocket,
and folding his arms on his bosom,
looked Mr. Wilson full in the face.
said Mr. Wilson.
said the young man.
"I couldn't have thought it!"
"I am pretty well disguised,
said the young man,
with a smile.
"A little walnut bark has made my yellow skin a genteel brown,
and I've dyed my hair black;
so you see I don't answer to the advertisement at all."
but this is a dangerous game you are playing.
I could not have advised you to it."
"I can do it on my own responsibility,"
with the same proud smile.
that George was,
by his father's side,
of white descent.
His mother was one of those unfortunates of her race,
marked out by personal beauty to be the slave of the passions of her possessor,
and the mother of children who may never know a father.
From one of the proudest families in Kentucky he had inherited a set of fine European features,
and a high,
From his mother he had received only a slight mulatto tinge,
amply compensated by its accompanying rich,
A slight change in the tint of the skin and the color of his hair had metamorphosed him into the Spanish-looking fellow he then appeared;
and as gracefulness of movement and gentlemanly manners had always been perfectly natural to him,
he found no difficulty in playing the bold part he had adopted --that of a gentleman travelling with his domestic.
a good-natured but extremely fidgety and cautious old gentleman,
ambled up and down the room,
as John Bunyan hath it,
"much tumbled up and down in his mind,"
and divided between his wish to help George,
and a certain confused notion of maintaining law and order: so,
as he shambled about,
he delivered himself as follows:
I s'pose you're running away --leaving your lawful master,
George --(I don't wonder at it) --at the same time,
decidedly --I think I must say that,
George --it's my duty to tell you so."
"Why are you sorry,
to see you,
as it were,
setting yourself in opposition to the laws of your country."
with a strong and bitter emphasis;
"what country have I,
but the grave,
--and I wish to God that I was laid there!"
no --no --it won't do;
this way of talking is wicked --unscriptural.
you've got a hard master --in fact,
he is --well he conducts himself reprehensibly --I can't pretend to defend him.
But you know how the angel commanded Hagar to return to her mistress,
and submit herself under the hand;* and the apostle sent back Onesimus to his master."**
The angel bade the pregnant Hagar return to her mistress Sarai,
even though Sarai had dealt harshly with her.
Onesimus went back to his master to become no longer a servant but a "brother beloved."
"Don't quote Bible at me that way,
with a flashing eye,
for my wife is a Christian,
and I mean to be,
if ever I get to where I can;
but to quote Bible to a fellow in my circumstances,
is enough to make him give it up altogether.
I appeal to God Almighty;
--I'm willing to go with the case to Him,
and ask Him if I do wrong to seek my freedom."
"These feelings are quite natural,
said the good-natured man,
blowing his nose.
but it is my duty not to encourage
'em in you.
I'm sorry for you,
it's a bad case --very bad;
but the apostle says,
'Let everyone abide in the condition in which he is called.'
We must all submit to the indications of Providence,
--don't you see?"
George stood with his head drawn back,
his arms folded tightly over his broad breast,
and a bitter smile curling his lips.
if the Indians should come and take you a prisoner away from your wife and children,
and want to keep you all your life hoeing corn for them,
if you'd think it your duty to abide in the condition in which you were called.
I rather think that you'd think the first stray horse you could find an indication of Providence --shouldn't you?"
The little old gentleman stared with both eyes at this illustration of the case;
though not much of a reasoner,
he had the sense in which some logicians on this particular subject do not excel,
--that of saying nothing,
where nothing could be said.
as he stood carefully stroking his umbrella,
and folding and patting down all the creases in it,
he proceeded on with his exhortations in a general way.
I always have stood your friend;
and whatever I've said,
I've said for your good.
it seems to me,
you're running an awful risk.
You can't hope to carry it out.
If you're taken,
it will be worse with you than ever;
they'll only abuse you,
and half kill you,
and sell you down the river."
I know all this,"
"I -do- run a risk,
but --" he threw open his overcoat,
and showed two pistols and a bowie-knife.
"I'm ready for
Down south I never -will- go.
if it comes to that,
I can earn myself at least six feet of free soil,
--the first and last I shall ever own in Kentucky!"
this state of mind is awful;
it's getting really desperate George.
Going to break the laws of your country!"
"My country again!
-you- have a country;
but what country have -I-,
or any one like me,
born of slave mothers?
What laws are there for us?
We don't make them,
--we don't consent to them,
--we have nothing to do with them;
all they do for us is to crush us,
and keep us down.
Haven't I heard your Fourth-of-July speeches?
Don't you tell us all,
once a year,
that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed?
Can't a fellow -think-,
that hears such things?
Can't he put this and that together,
and see what it comes to?"
Mr. Wilson's mind was one of those that may not unaptly be represented by a bale of cotton,
benevolently fuzzy and confused.
He really pitied George with all his heart,
and had a sort of dim and cloudy perception of the style of feeling that agitated him;
but he deemed it his duty to go on talking -good- to him,
with infinite pertinacity.
this is bad.
I must tell you,
as a friend,
you'd better not be meddling with such notions;
they are bad,
for boys in your condition,
and Mr. Wilson sat down to a table,
and began nervously chewing the handle of his umbrella.
coming up and sitting himself determinately down in front of him;
"look at me,
Don't I sit before you,
just as much a man as you are?
Look at my face,
--look at my hands,
--look at my body,"
and the young man drew himself up proudly;
"why am I -not- a man,
as much as anybody?
hear what I can tell you.
I had a father --one of your Kentucky gentlemen --who didn't think enough of me to keep me from being sold with his dogs and horses,
to satisfy the estate,
when he died.
I saw my mother put up at sheriff's sale,
with her seven children.
They were sold before her eyes,
one by one,
all to different masters;
and I was the youngest.
She came and kneeled down before old Mas'r,
and begged him to buy her with me,
that she might have at least one child with her;
and he kicked her away with his heavy boot.
I saw him do it;
and the last that I heard was her moans and screams,
when I was tied to his horse's neck,
to be carried off to his place."
"My master traded with one of the men,
and bought my oldest sister.
She was a pious,
--a member of the Baptist church,
--and as handsome as my poor mother had been.
She was well brought up,
and had good manners.
I was glad she was bought,
for I had one friend near me.
I was soon sorry for it.
I have stood at the door and heard her whipped,
when it seemed as if every blow cut into my naked heart,
and I couldn't do anything to help her;
and she was whipped,
for wanting to live a decent Christian life,
such as your laws give no slave girl a right to live;
and at last I saw her chained with a trader's gang,
to be sent to market in Orleans,
--sent there for nothing else but that,
--and that's the last I know of her.
I grew up,
--long years and years,
not a living soul that cared for me more than a dog;
nothing but whipping,
I've been so hungry that I have been glad to take the bones they threw to their dogs;
when I was a little fellow,
and laid awake whole nights and cried,
it wasn't the hunger,
it wasn't the whipping,
I cried for.
it was for -my mother- and -my sisters-,
--it was because I hadn't a friend to love me on earth.
I never knew what peace or comfort was.
I never had a kind word spoken to me till I came to work in your factory.
you treated me well;
you encouraged me to do well,
and to learn to read and write,
and to try to make something of myself;
and God knows how grateful I am for it.
I found my wife;
you've seen her,
--you know how beautiful she is.
When I found she loved me,
when I married her,
I scarcely could believe I was alive,
I was so happy;
she is as good as she is beautiful.
But now what?
now comes my master,
takes me right away from my work,
and my friends,
and all I like,
and grinds me down into the very dirt!
I forgot who I was;
to teach me that I am only a nigger!
and last of all,
he comes between me and my wife,
and says I shall give her up,
and live with another woman.
And all this your laws give him power to do,
in spite of God or man.
look at it!
There isn't -one- of all these things,
that have broken the hearts of my mother and my sister,
and my wife and myself,
but your laws allow,
and give every man power to do,
and none can say to him nay!
Do you call these the laws of -my- country?
I haven't any country,
anymore than I have any father.
But I'm going to have one.
I don't want anything of -your- country,
except to be let alone,
--to go peaceably out of it;
and when I get to Canada,
where the laws will own me and protect me,
-that- shall be my country,
and its laws I will obey.
But if any man tries to stop me,
let him take care,
for I am desperate.
I'll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe.
You say your fathers did it;
if it was right for them,
it is right for me!"
delivered partly while sitting at the table,
and partly walking up and down the room,
--delivered with tears,
and flashing eyes,
and despairing gestures,
--was altogether too much for the good-natured old body to whom it was addressed,
who had pulled out a great yellow silk pocket-handkerchief,
and was mopping up his face with great energy.
he suddenly broke out.
"Haven't I always said so --the infernal old cusses!
I hope I an't swearing,
but be careful,
don't shoot anybody,
unless --well --you'd -better- not shoot,
I wouldn't -hit- anybody,
Where is your wife,
as he nervously rose,
and began walking the room.
with her child in her arms,
the Lord only knows where;
--gone after the north star;
and when we ever meet,
or whether we meet at all in this world,
no creature can tell."
"Is it possible!
from such a kind family?"
"Kind families get in debt,
and the laws of -our- country allow them to sell the child out of its mother's bosom to pay its master's debts,"
said the honest old man,
fumbling in his pocket:
I an't following my judgment,
I -won't- follow my judgment!"
taking out a roll of bills from his pocket-book,
he offered them to George.
"you've done a great deal for me,
and this might get you into trouble.
I have money enough,
to take me as far as I need it."
but you must,
Money is a great help everywhere;
--can't have too much,
if you get it honestly.
---do- take it,
that I may repay it at some future time,
taking up the money.
how long are you going to travel in this way?
--not long or far,
It's well carried on,
but too bold.
And this black fellow,
--who is he?"
"A true fellow,
who went to Canada more than a year ago.
after he got there,
that his master was so angry at him for going off that he had whipped his poor old mother;
and he has come all the way back to comfort her,
and get a chance to get her away."
"Has he got her?"
he has been hanging about the place,
and found no chance yet.
he is going with me as far as Ohio,
to put me among friends that helped him,
and then he will come back after her.
said the old man.
George drew himself up,
and smiled disdainfully.
The old gentleman eyed him from head to foot,
with a sort of innocent wonder.
something has brought you out wonderfully.
You hold up your head,
and speak and move like another man,"
said Mr. Wilson.
"Because I'm a -freeman-!"
I've said Mas'r for the last time to any man.
You are not sure,
--you may be taken."
"All men are free and equal -in the grave-,
if it comes to that,
"I'm perfectly dumb-founded with your boldness!"
said Mr. Wilson,
--"to come right here to the nearest tavern!"
it is -so- bold,
and this tavern is so near,
that they will never think of it;
they will look for me on ahead,
and you yourself wouldn't know me.
Jim's master don't live in this county;
he isn't known in these parts.
he is given up;
nobody is looking after him,
and nobody will take me up from the advertisement,
"But the mark in your hand?"
George drew off his glove,
and showed a newly-healed scar in his hand.
"That is a parting proof of Mr. Harris' regard,"
"A fortnight ago,
he took it into his head to give it to me,
because he said he believed I should try to get away one of these days.
drawing his glove on again.
my very blood runs cold when I think of it,
--your condition and your risks!"
said Mr. Wilson.
"Mine has run cold a good many years,
it's about up to the boiling point,"
my good sir,"
after a few moments' silence,
"I saw you knew me;
I thought I'd just have this talk with you,
lest your surprised looks should bring me out.
I leave early tomorrow morning,
by tomorrow night I hope to sleep safe in Ohio.
I shall travel by daylight,
stop at the best hotels,
go to the dinner-tables with the lords of the land.
if you hear that I'm taken,
you may know that I'm dead!"
George stood up like a rock,
and put out his hand with the air of a prince.
The friendly little old man shook it heartily,
and after a little shower of caution,
he took his umbrella,
and fumbled his way out of the room.
George stood thoughtfully looking at the door,
as the old man closed it.
A thought seemed to flash across his mind.
He hastily stepped to it,
and opening it,
one word more."
The old gentleman entered again,
locked the door,
and then stood for a few moments looking on the floor,
raising his head with a sudden effort --"Mr. Wilson,
you have shown yourself a Christian in your treatment of me,
--I want to ask one last deed of Christian kindness of you."
--what you said was true.
I -am- running a dreadful risk.
a living soul to care if I die,"
drawing his breath hard,
and speaking with a great effort,
--"I shall be kicked out and buried like a dog,
and nobody'll think of it a day after,
---only my poor wife!- Poor soul!
she'll mourn and grieve;
and if you'd only contrive,
to send this little pin to her.
She gave it to me for a Christmas present,
Give it to her,
and tell her I loved her to the last.
certainly --poor fellow!"
said the old gentleman,
taking the pin,
with watery eyes,
and a melancholy quiver in his voice.
"Tell her one thing,"
"it's my last wish,
if she -can- get to Canada,
to go there.
No matter how kind her mistress is,
--no matter how much she loves her home;
beg her not to go back,
--for slavery always ends in misery.
Tell her to bring up our boy a free man,
and then he won't suffer as I have.
Tell her this,
I'll tell her;
but I trust you won't die;
--you're a brave fellow.
Trust in the Lord,
I wish in my heart you were safe through,
--that's what I do."
"-Is- there a God to trust in?"
in such a tone of bitter despair as arrested the old gentleman's words.
I've seen things all my life that have made me feel that there can't be a God.
You Christians don't know how these things look to us.
There's a God for you,
but is there any for us?"
said the old man,
almost sobbing as he spoke;
"don't feel so!
There is --there is;
clouds and darkness are around about him,
but righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
There's a -God-,
trust in Him,
and I'm sure He'll help you.
Everything will be set right,
--if not in this life,
The real piety and benevolence of the simple old man invested him with a temporary dignity and authority,
as he spoke.
George stopped his distracted walk up and down the room,
stood thoughtfully a moment,
and then said,
"Thank you for saying that,
my good friend;
I'll -think of that-."
Select Incident of Lawful Trade
"In Ramah there was a voice heard,
and great mourning;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and would not be comforted."*
Mr. Haley and Tom jogged onward in their wagon,
for a time,
absorbed in his own reflections.
the reflections of two men sitting side by side are a curious thing,
--seated on the same seat,
having the same eyes,
hands and organs of all sorts,
and having pass before their eyes the same objects,
--it is wonderful what a variety we shall find in these same reflections!
Mr. Haley: he thought first of Tom's length,
and what he would sell for,
if he was kept fat and in good case till he got him into market.
He thought of how he should make out his gang;
he thought of the respective market value of certain supposititious men and women and children who were to compose it,
and other kindred topics of the business;
then he thought of himself,
and how humane he was,
that whereas other men chained their "niggers" hand and foot both,
he only put fetters on the feet,
and left Tom the use of his hands,
as long as he behaved well;
and he sighed to think how ungrateful human nature was,
so that there was even room to doubt whether Tom appreciated his mercies.
He had been taken in so by "niggers" whom he had favored;
but still he was astonished to consider how good-natured he yet remained!
As to Tom,
he was thinking over some words of an unfashionable old book,
which kept running through his head,
again and again,
"We have here no continuing city,
but we seek one to come;
wherefore God himself is not ashamed to be called our God;
for he hath prepared for us a city."
These words of an ancient volume,
got up principally by "ignorant and unlearned men,"
through all time,
a strange sort of power over the minds of poor,
They stir up the soul from its depths,
as with trumpet call,
where before was only the blackness of despair.
Mr. Haley pulled out of his pocket sundry newspapers,
and began looking over their advertisements,
with absorbed interest.
He was not a remarkably fluent reader,
and was in the habit of reading in a sort of recitative half-aloud,
by way of calling in his ears to verify the deductions of his eyes.
In this tone he slowly recited the following paragraph:
--Agreeably to order of court,
will be sold,
before the Court-house door,
in the town of Washington,
the following negroes: Hagar,
Sold for the benefit of the creditors and heirs of the estate of Jesse Blutchford,
"This yer I must look at,"
said he to Tom,
for want of somebody else to talk to.
I'm going to get up a prime gang to take down with ye,
it'll make it sociable and pleasant like,
--good company will,
We must drive right to Washington first and foremost,
and then I'll clap you into jail,
while I does the business."
Tom received this agreeable intelligence quite meekly;
in his own heart,
how many of these doomed men had wives and children,
and whether they would feel as he did about leaving them.
It is to be confessed,
that the naive,
off-hand information that he was to be thrown into jail by no means produced an agreeable impression on a poor fellow who had always prided himself on a strictly honest and upright course of life.
we must confess it,
was rather proud of his honesty,
--not having very much else to be proud of;
--if he had belonged to some of the higher walks of society,
would never have been reduced to such straits.
the day wore on,
and the evening saw Haley and Tom comfortably accommodated in Washington,
--the one in a tavern,
and the other in a jail.
About eleven o'clock the next day,
a mixed throng was gathered around the court-house steps,
according to their respective tastes and turns,
--waiting for the auction to commence.
The men and women to be sold sat in a group apart,
talking in a low tone to each other.
The woman who had been advertised by the name of Hagar was a regular African in feature and figure.
She might have been sixty,
but was older than that by hard work and disease,
was partially blind,
and somewhat crippled with rheumatism.
By her side stood her only remaining son,
a bright-looking little fellow of fourteen years.
The boy was the only survivor of a large family,
who had been successively sold away from her to a southern market.
The mother held on to him with both her shaking hands,
and eyed with intense trepidation every one who walked up to examine him.
"Don't be feard,
said the oldest of the men,
"I spoke to Mas'r Thomas
and he thought he might manage to sell you in a lot both together."
"Dey needn't call me worn out yet,"
lifting her shaking hands.
"I can cook yet,
--I'm wuth a buying,
if I do come cheap;
--tell em dat ar,
--you -tell- em,"
Haley here forced his way into the group,
walked up to the old man,
pulled his mouth open and looked in,
felt of his teeth,
made him stand and straighten himself,
bend his back,
and perform various evolutions to show his muscles;
and then passed on to the next,
and put him through the same trial.
Walking up last to the boy,
he felt of his arms,
straightened his hands,
and looked at his fingers,
and made him jump,
to show his agility.
"He an't gwine to be sold widout me!"
said the old woman,
with passionate eagerness;
"he and I goes in a lot together;
's rail strong yet,
Mas'r and can do heaps o' work,
--heaps on it,
with a contemptuous glance.
as if satisfied with his examination,
he walked out and looked,
and stood with his hands in his pocket,
his cigar in his mouth,
and his hat cocked on one side,
ready for action.
"What think of
said a man who had been following Haley's examination,
as if to make up his own mind from it.
"I shall put in,
for the youngerly ones and the boy."
"They want to sell the boy and the old woman together,"
said the man.
"Find it a tight pull;
she's an old rack o' bones,
--not worth her salt."
"You wouldn't then?"
said the man.
'd be a fool
She's half blind,
crooked with rheumatis,
and foolish to boot."
"Some buys up these yer old critturs,
and ses there's a sight more wear in
'em than a body
said the man,
"wouldn't take her for a present,
't is kinder pity,
not to buy her with her son,
--her heart seems so sot on him,
--s'pose they fling her in cheap."
"Them that's got money to spend that ar way,
it's all well enough.
I shall bid off on that ar boy for a plantation-hand;
--wouldn't be bothered with her,
not if they'd give her to me,"
"She'll take on desp't,"
said the man.
said the trader,
The conversation was here interrupted by a busy hum in the audience;
and the auctioneer,
elbowed his way into the crowd.
The old woman drew in her breath,
and caught instinctively at her son.
"Keep close to yer mammy,
--dey'll put us up togedder,"
I'm feard they won't,"
said the boy.
I can't live,
if they don't" said the old creature,
The stentorian tones of the auctioneer,
calling out to clear the way,
now announced that the sale was about to commence.
A place was cleared,
and the bidding began.
The different men on the list were soon knocked off at prices which showed a pretty brisk demand in the market;
two of them fell to Haley.
said the auctioneer,
giving the boy a touch with his hammer,
"be up and show your springs,
"Put us two up togedder,
said the old woman,
holding fast to her boy.
said the man,
pushing her hands away;
"you come last.
with the word,
he pushed the boy toward the block,
while a deep,
heavy groan rose behind him.
The boy paused,
and looked back;
but there was no time to stay,
dashing the tears from his large,
he was up in a moment.
His fine figure,
and bright face,
raised an instant competition,
and half a dozen bids simultaneously met the ear of the auctioneer.
he looked from side to side,
as he heard the clatter of contending bids,
--till the hammer fell.
Haley had got him.
He was pushed from the block toward his new master,
but stopped one moment,
and looked back,
when his poor old mother,
trembling in every limb,
held out her shaking hands toward him.
"Buy me too,
for de dear Lord's sake!
--I shall die if you don't!"
"You'll die if I do,
that's the kink of it,"
And he turned on his heel.
The bidding for the poor old creature was summary.
The man who had addressed Haley,
and who seemed not destitute of compassion,
bought her for a trifle,
and the spectators began to disperse.
The poor victims of the sale,
who had been brought up in one place together for years,
gathered round the despairing old mother,
whose agony was pitiful to see.
"Couldn't dey leave me one?
Mas'r allers said I should have one,
she repeated over and over,
in heart-broken tones.
"Trust in the Lord,
said the oldest of the men,
"What good will it do?"
said the boy.
"They say you
's got a good master."
"I don't care,
--I don't care.
's my last baby.
how ken I?"
take her off,
can't some of ye?"
"don't do no good for her to go on that ar way."
The old men of the company,
partly by persuasion and partly by force,
loosed the poor creature's last despairing hold,
as they led her off to her new master's wagon,
strove to comfort her.
pushing his three purchases together,
and producing a bundle of handcuffs,
which he proceeded to put on their wrists;
and fastening each handcuff to a long chain,
he drove them before him to the jail.
A few days saw Haley,
with his possessions,
safely deposited on one of the Ohio boats.
It was the commencement of his gang,
to be augmented,
as the boat moved on,
by various other merchandise of the same kind,
or his agent,
had stored for him in various points along shore.
The La Belle Riviere,
as brave and beautiful a boat as ever walked the waters of her namesake river,
was floating gayly down the stream,
under a brilliant sky,
the stripes and stars of free America waving and fluttering over head;
the guards crowded with well-dressed ladies and gentlemen walking and enjoying the delightful day.
All was full of life,
buoyant and rejoicing;
--all but Haley's gang,
who were stored,
with other freight,
on the lower deck,
did not seem to appreciate their various privileges,
as they sat in a knot,
talking to each other in low tones.
"I hope you keep up good heart,
and are cheerful.
keep stiff upper lip,
do well by me,
and I'll do well by you."
The boys addressed responded the invariable "Yes,
for ages the watchword of poor Africa;
but it's to be owned they did not look particularly cheerful;
they had their various little prejudices in favor of wives,
seen for the last time,
--and though "they that wasted them required of them mirth,"
it was not instantly forthcoming.
"I've got a wife,"
spoke out the article enumerated as "John,
and he laid his chained hand on Tom's knee,
--"and she don't know a word about this,
"Where does she live?"
"In a tavern a piece down here,"
I -could- see her once more in this world,"
It -was- rather natural;
and the tears that fell,
as he spoke,
came as naturally as if he had been a white man.
Tom drew a long breath from a sore heart,
in his poor way,
to comfort him.
And over head,
in the cabin,
sat fathers and mothers,
husbands and wives;
dancing children moved round among them,
like so many little butterflies,
and everything was going on quite easy and comfortable.
said a boy,
who had just come up from below,
"there's a negro trader on board,
and he's brought four or five slaves down there."
said the mother,
in a tone between grief and indignation.
said another lady.
"Some poor slaves below,"
said the mother.
"And they've got chains on,"
said the boy.
"What a shame to our country that such sights are to be seen!"
said another lady.
there's a great deal to be said on both sides of the subject,"
said a genteel woman,
who sat at her state-room door sewing,
while her little girl and boy were playing round her.
"I've been south,
and I must say I think the negroes are better off than they would be to be free."
"In some respects,
some of them are well off,
said the lady to whose remark she had answered.
"The most dreadful part of slavery,
to my mind,
is its outrages on the feelings and affections,
--the separating of families,
"That -is- a bad thing,
said the other lady,
holding up a baby's dress she had just completed,
and looking intently on its trimmings;
it don't occur often."
said the first lady,
"I've lived many years in Kentucky and Virginia both,
and I've seen enough to make any one's heart sick.
your two children,
should be taken from you,
"We can't reason from our feelings to those of this class of persons,"
said the other lady,
sorting out some worsteds on her lap.
you can know nothing of them,
if you say so,"
answered the first lady,
"I was born and brought up among them.
I know they -do- feel,
just as keenly,
--even more so,
--as we do."
The lady said "Indeed!"
and looked out the cabin window,
and finally repeated,
for a finale,
the remark with which she had begun,
I think they are better off than they would be to be free."
"It's undoubtedly the intention of Providence that the African race should be servants,
--kept in a low condition,"
said a grave-looking gentleman in black,
seated by the cabin door.
"'Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be,'
the scripture says."*
This is what Noah says when he wakes out of drunkenness and realizes that his youngest son,
father of Canaan,
has seen him naked.
is that ar what that text means?"
said a tall man,
It pleased Providence,
for some inscrutable reason,
to doom the race to bondage,
and we must not set up our opinion against that."
we'll all go ahead and buy up niggers,"
said the man,
"if that's the way of Providence,
turning to Haley,
who had been standing,
with his hands in his pockets,
by the stove and intently listening to the conversation.
continued the tall man,
"we must all be resigned to the decrees of Providence.
Niggers must be sold,
and trucked round,
and kept under;
it's what they's made for.
'Pears like this yer view
's quite refreshing,
said he to Haley.
"I never thought on
"I couldn't have said as much,
I ha'nt no larning.
I took up the trade just to make a living;
I calculated to
't in time,
"And now you'll save yerself the trouble,
said the tall man.
to know scripture.
If ye'd only studied yer Bible,
like this yer good man,
ye might have know'd it before,
and saved ye a heap o' trouble.
Ye could jist have said,
'Cussed be' --what's his name?
't would all have come right.'"
And the stranger,
who was no other than the honest drover whom we introduced to our readers in the Kentucky tavern,
and began smoking,
with a curious smile on his long,
slender young man,
with a face expressive of great feeling and intelligence,
here broke in,
and repeated the words,
"'All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,
do ye even so unto them.'
"-that- is scripture,
as much as
'Cursed be Canaan.'"
it seems quite -as- plain a text,
said John the drover,
"to poor fellows like us,
and John smoked on like a volcano.
The young man paused,
looked as if he was going to say more,
when suddenly the boat stopped,
and the company made the usual steamboat rush,
to see where they were landing.
"Both them ar chaps parsons?"
said John to one of the men,
as they were going out.
The man nodded.
As the boat stopped,
a black woman came running wildly up the plank,
darted into the crowd,
flew up to where the slave gang sat,
and threw her arms round that unfortunate piece of merchandise before enumerate --"John,
and with sobs and tears bemoaned him as her husband.
But what needs tell the story,
told too oft,
--every day told,
--of heart-strings rent and broken,
--the weak broken and torn for the profit and convenience of the strong!
It needs not to be told;
--every day is telling it,
in the ear of One who is not deaf,
though he be long silent.
The young man who had spoken for the cause of humanity and God before stood with folded arms,
looking on this scene.
and Haley was standing at his side.
speaking with thick utterance,
"how can you,
how dare you,
carry on a trade like this?
Look at those poor creatures!
Here I am,
rejoicing in my heart that I am going home to my wife and child;
and the same bell which is a signal to carry me onward towards them will part this poor man and his wife forever.
Depend upon it,
God will bring you into judgment for this."
The trader turned away in silence.
said the drover,
touching his elbow,
"there's differences in parsons,
'Cussed be Canaan' don't seem to go down with this
Haley gave an uneasy growl.
"And that ar an't the worst on
"mabbee it won't go down with the Lord,
when ye come to settle with Him,
one o' these days,
as all on us must,
Haley walked reflectively to the other end of the boat.
"If I make pretty handsomely on one or two next gangs,"
"I reckon I'll stop off this yer;
it's really getting dangerous."
And he took out his pocket-book,
and began adding over his accounts,
--a process which many gentlemen besides Mr. Haley have found a specific for an uneasy conscience.
The boat swept proudly away from the shore,
and all went on merrily,
and children played,
and the boat passed on her way.
when she lay to for a while at a small town in Kentucky,
Haley went up into the place on a little matter of business.
whose fetters did not prevent his taking a moderate circuit,
had drawn near the side of the boat,
and stood listlessly gazing over the railing.
After a time,
he saw the trader returning,
with an alert step,
in company with a colored woman,
bearing in her arms a young child.
She was dressed quite respectably,
and a colored man followed her,
bringing along a small trunk.
The woman came cheerfully onward,
as she came,
with the man who bore her trunk,
and so passed up the plank into the boat.
The bell rung,
the steamer whizzed,
the engine groaned and coughed,
and away swept the boat down the river.
The woman walked forward among the boxes and bales of the lower deck,
busied herself with chirruping to her baby.
Haley made a turn or two about the boat,
seated himself near her,
and began saying something to her in an indifferent undertone.
Tom soon noticed a heavy cloud passing over the woman's brow;
and that she answered rapidly,
and with great vehemence.
"I don't believe it,
--I won't believe it!"
he heard her say.
"You're jist a foolin' with me."
"If you won't believe it,
said the man,
drawing out a paper;
"this yer's the bill of sale,
and there's your master's name to it;
and I paid down good solid cash for it,
I can tell you,
"I don't believe Mas'r would cheat me so;
it can't be true!"
said the woman,
with increasing agitation.
"You can ask any of these men here,
that can read writing.
to a man that was passing by,
"jist read this yer,
This yer gal won't believe me,
when I tell her what
it's a bill of sale,
signed by John Fosdick,"
said the man,
"making over to you the girl Lucy and her child.
It's all straight enough,
for aught I see."
The woman's passionate exclamations collected a crowd around her,
and the trader briefly explained to them the cause of the agitation.
"He told me that I was going down to Louisville,
to hire out as cook to the same tavern where my husband works,
--that's what Mas'r told me,
his own self;
and I can't believe he'd lie to me,"
said the woman.
"But he has sold you,
my poor woman,
there's no doubt about it,"
said a good-natured looking man,
who had been examining the papers;
"he has done it,
and no mistake."
"Then it's no account talking,"
said the woman,
suddenly growing quite calm;
clasping her child tighter in her arms,
she sat down on her box,
turned her back round,
and gazed listlessly into the river.
"Going to take it easy,
said the trader.
"Gal's got grit,
The woman looked calm,
as the boat went on;
and a beautiful soft summer breeze passed like a compassionate spirit over her head,
--the gentle breeze,
that never inquires whether the brow is dusky or fair that it fans.
And she saw sunshine sparkling on the water,
in golden ripples,
and heard gay voices,
full of ease and pleasure,
talking around her everywhere;
but her heart lay as if a great stone had fallen on it.
Her baby raised himself up against her,
and stroked her cheeks with his little hands;
springing up and down,
crowing and chatting,
seemed determined to arouse her.
She strained him suddenly and tightly in her arms,
and slowly one tear after another fell on his wondering,
and gradually she seemed,
and little by little,
to grow calmer,
and busied herself with tending and nursing him.
a boy of ten months,
was uncommonly large and strong of his age,
and very vigorous in his limbs.
for a moment,
he kept his mother constantly busy in holding him,
and guarding his springing activity.
"That's a fine chap!"
said a man,
suddenly stopping opposite to him,
with his hands in his pockets.
"How old is he?"
"Ten months and a half,"
said the mother.
The man whistled to the boy,
and offered him part of a stick of candy,
which he eagerly grabbed at,
and very soon had it in a baby's general depository,
said the man "Knows what's what!"
and he whistled,
and walked on.
When he had got to the other side of the boat,
he came across Haley,
who was smoking on top of a pile of boxes.
The stranger produced a match,
and lighted a cigar,
as he did so,
"Decentish kind o' wench you've got round there,
I reckon she -is- tol'able fair,"
blowing the smoke out of his mouth.
"Taking her down south?"
said the man.
and smoked on.
said the man.
"I'm fillin' out an order for a plantation,
and I think I shall put her in.
They telled me she was a good cook;
and they can use her for that,
or set her at the cotton-picking.
She's got the right fingers for that;
I looked at
and Haley resumed his cigar.
"They won't want the young
'un on the plantation,"
said the man.
"I shall sell him,
first chance I find,"
lighting another cigar.
"S'pose you'd be selling him tol'able cheap,"
said the stranger,
mounting the pile of boxes,
and sitting down comfortably.
"he's a pretty smart young
flesh as hard as a brick!"
but then there's the bother and expense of raisin'."
"they is raised as easy as any kind of critter there is going;
they an't a bit more trouble than pups.
This yer chap will be running all around,
in a month."
"I've got a good place for raisin',
and I thought of takin' in a little more stock,"
said the man.
"One cook lost a young
'un last week,
--got drownded in a washtub,
while she was a hangin' out the clothes,
--and I reckon it would be well enough to set her to raisin' this yer."
Haley and the stranger smoked a while in silence,
neither seeming willing to broach the test question of the interview.
At last the man resumed:
"You wouldn't think of wantin' more than ten dollars for that ar chap,
seeing you -must- get him off yer hand,
Haley shook his head,
and spit impressively.
"That won't do,
and began his smoking again.
what will you take?"
"I -could- raise that ar chap myself,
or get him raised;
he's oncommon likely and healthy,
and he'd fetch a hundred dollars,
six months hence;
in a year or two,
he'd bring two hundred,
if I had him in the right spot;
I shan't take a cent less nor fifty for him now."
said the man.
with a decisive nod of his head.
"I'll give thirty for him,"
said the stranger,
"but not a cent more."
I'll tell ye what I will do,"
with renewed decision.
"I'll split the difference,
and say forty-five;
and that's the most I will do."
said the man,
after an interval.
"Where do you land?"
said the man.
we get there about dusk.
Chap will be asleep,
--get him off quietly,
and no screaming,
--I like to do everything quietly,
--I hates all kind of agitation and fluster."
after a transfer of certain bills had passed from the man's pocket-book to the trader's,
he resumed his cigar.
It was a bright,
tranquil evening when the boat stopped at the wharf at Louisville.
The woman had been sitting with her baby in her arms,
now wrapped in a heavy sleep.
When she heard the name of the place called out,
she hastily laid the child down in a little cradle formed by the hollow among the boxes,
first carefully spreading under it her cloak;
and then she sprung to the side of the boat,
in hopes that,
among the various hotel-waiters who thronged the wharf,
she might see her husband.
In this hope,
she pressed forward to the front rails,
stretching far over them,
strained her eyes intently on the moving heads on the shore,
and the crowd pressed in between her and the child.
"Now's your time,"
taking the sleeping child up,
and handing him to the stranger.
"Don't wake him up,
and set him to crying,
it would make a devil of a fuss with the gal."
The man took the bundle carefully,
and was soon lost in the crowd that went up the wharf.
When the boat,
had loosed from the wharf,
and was beginning slowly to strain herself along,
the woman returned to her old seat.
The trader was sitting there,
--the child was gone!
in bewildered surprise.
said the trader,
"your child's gone;
you may as well know it first as last.
I know'd you couldn't take him down south;
and I got a chance to sell him to a first-rate family,
that'll raise him better than you can."
The trader had arrived at that stage of Christian and political perfection which has been recommended by some preachers and politicians of the north,
in which he had completely overcome every humane weakness and prejudice.
His heart was exactly where yours,
and mine could be brought,
with proper effort and cultivation.
The wild look of anguish and utter despair that the woman cast on him might have disturbed one less practised;
but he was used to it.
He had seen that same look hundreds of times.
You can get used to such things,
and it is the great object of recent efforts to make our whole northern community used to them,
for the glory of the Union.
So the trader only regarded the mortal anguish which he saw working in those dark features,
those clenched hands,
and suffocating breathings,
as necessary incidents of the trade,
and merely calculated whether she was going to scream,
and get up a commotion on the boat;
like other supporters of our peculiar institution,
he decidedly disliked agitation.
But the woman did not scream.
The shot had passed too straight and direct through the heart,
for cry or tear.
Dizzily she sat down.
Her slack hands fell lifeless by her side.
Her eyes looked straight forward,
but she saw nothing.
All the noise and hum of the boat,
the groaning of the machinery,
mingled dreamily to her bewildered ear;
and the poor,
dumb-stricken heart had neither cry not tear to show for its utter misery.
She was quite calm.
considering his advantages,
was almost as humane as some of our politicians,
seemed to feel called on to administer such consolation as the case admitted of.
"I know this yer comes kinder hard,
"but such a smart,
sensible gal as you are,
won't give way to it.
You see it's -necessary-,
and can't be helped!"
said the woman,
with a voice like one that is smothering.
"You're a smart wench,
"I mean to do well by ye,
and get ye a nice place down river;
and you'll soon get another husband,
--such a likely gal as you --"
if you -only- won't talk to me now,"
said the woman,
in a voice of such quick and living anguish that the trader felt that there was something at present in the case beyond his style of operation.
He got up,
and the woman turned away,
and buried her head in her cloak.
The trader walked up and down for a time,
and occasionally stopped and looked at her.
"Takes it hard,
--let her sweat a while;
she'll come right,
by and by!"
Tom had watched the whole transaction from first to last,
and had a perfect understanding of its results.
it looked like something unutterably horrible and cruel,
ignorant black soul!
he had not learned to generalize,
and to take enlarged views.
If he had only been instructed by certain ministers of Christianity,
he might have thought better of it,
and seen in it an every-day incident of a lawful trade;
a trade which is the vital support of an institution which an American divine* tells us has -"no evils but such as are inseparable from any other relations in social and domestic life-."
as we see,
being a poor,
whose reading had been confined entirely to the New Testament,
could not comfort and solace himself with views like these.
His very soul bled within him for what seemed to him the -wrongs- of the poor suffering thing that lay like a crushed reed on the boxes;
yet immortal -thing-,
which American state law coolly classes with the bundles,
among which she is lying.
* Dr. Joel Parker of Philadelphia.
[Mrs. Stowe's note.] Presbyterian clergyman (1799-1873),
a friend of the Beecher family.
Mrs. Stowe attempted unsuccessfully to have this identifying note removed from the stereotype-plate of the first edition.
Tom drew near,
and tried to say something;
but she only groaned.
and with tears running down his own cheeks,
he spoke of a heart of love in the skies,
of a pitying Jesus,
and an eternal home;
but the ear was deaf with anguish,
and the palsied heart could not feel.
Night came on,
shining down with her innumerable and solemn angel eyes,
There was no speech nor language,
no pitying voice or helping hand,
from that distant sky.
One after another,
the voices of business or pleasure died away;
all on the boat were sleeping,
and the ripples at the prow were plainly heard.
Tom stretched himself out on a box,
as he lay,
ever and anon,
a smothered sob or cry from the prostrate creature,
what shall I do?
O good Lord,
do help me!"
ever and anon,
until the murmur died away in silence.
with a sudden start.
Something black passed quickly by him to the side of the boat,
and he heard a splash in the water.
No one else saw or heard anything.
He raised his head,
--the woman's place was vacant!
He got up,
and sought about him in vain.
The poor bleeding heart was still,
and the river rippled and dimpled just as brightly as if it had not closed above it.
ye whose hearts swell indignant at wrongs like these.
Not one throb of anguish,
not one tear of the oppressed,
is forgotten by the Man of Sorrows,
the Lord of Glory.
In his patient,
generous bosom he bears the anguish of a world.
and labor in love;
for sure as he is God,
"the year of his redeemed -shall- come."
The trader waked up bright and early,
and came out to see to his live stock.
It was now his turn to look about in perplexity.
"Where alive is that gal?"
he said to Tom.
who had learned the wisdom of keeping counsel,
did not feel called upon to state his observations and suspicions,
but said he did not know.
"She surely couldn't have got off in the night at any of the landings,
for I was awake,
and on the lookout,
whenever the boat stopped.
I never trust these yer things to other folks."
This speech was addressed to Tom quite confidentially,
as if it was something that would be specially interesting to him.
Tom made no answer.
The trader searched the boat from stem to stern,
bales and barrels,
around the machinery,
by the chimneys,
be fair about this yer,"
after a fruitless search,
he came where Tom was standing.
"You know something about it,
Don't tell me,
--I know you do.
I saw the gal stretched out here about ten o'clock,
and ag'in at twelve,
and ag'in between one and two;
and then at four she was gone,
and you was a sleeping right there all the time.
you know something,
--you can't help it."
"towards morning something brushed by me,
and I kinder half woke;
and then I hearn a great splash,
and then I clare woke up,
and the gal was gone.
That's all I know on
The trader was not shocked nor amazed;
as we said before,
he was used to a great many things that you are not used to.
Even the awful presence of Death struck no solemn chill upon him.
He had seen Death many times,
--met him in the way of trade,
and got acquainted with him,
--and he only thought of him as a hard customer,
that embarrassed his property operations very unfairly;
and so he only swore that the gal was a baggage,
and that he was devilish unlucky,
if things went on in this way,
he should not make a cent on the trip.
he seemed to consider himself an ill-used man,
but there was no help for it,
as the woman had escaped into a state which -never will- give up a fugitive,
--not even at the demand of the whole glorious Union.
sat discontentedly down,
with his little account-book,
and put down the missing body and soul under the head of -losses!-
"He's a shocking creature,
but nobody thinks anything of these traders!
They are universally despised,
--never received into any decent society."
makes the trader?
Who is most to blame?
who supports the system of which the trader is the inevitable result,
or the poor trader himself?
You make the public statement that calls for his trade,
that debauches and depraves him,
till he feels no shame in it;
and in what are you better than he?
Are you educated and he ignorant,
you high and he low,
you refined and he coarse,
you talented and he simple?
In the day of a future judgment,
these very considerations may make it more tolerable for him than for you.
In concluding these little incidents of lawful trade,
we must beg the world not to think that American legislators are entirely destitute of humanity,
be unfairly inferred from the great efforts made in our national body to protect and perpetuate this species of traffic.
Who does not know how our great men are outdoing themselves,
in declaiming against the -foreign- slave-trade.
There are a perfect host of Clarksons and Wilberforces* risen up among us on that subject,
most edifying to hear and behold.
Trading negroes from Africa,
is so horrid!
It is not to be thought of!
But trading them from Kentucky,
--that's quite another thing!
* Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) and William Wilberforce (1759- 1833),
English philanthropists and anti-slavery agitators who helped to secure passage of the Emancipation Bill by Parliament in 1833.
The Quaker Settlement
A quiet scene now rises before us.
its yellow floor glossy and smooth,
and without a particle of dust;
rows of shining tin,
suggestive of unmentionable good things to the appetite;
glossy green wood chairs,
old and firm;
a small flag-bottomed rocking-chair,
with a patch-work cushion in it,
neatly contrived out of small pieces of different colored woollen goods,
and a larger sized one,
motherly and old,
whose wide arms breathed hospitable invitation,
seconded by the solicitation of its feather cushions,
--a real comfortable,
persuasive old chair,
in the way of honest,
a dozen of your plush or -brochetelle- drawing-room gentry;
and in the chair,
gently swaying back and forward,
her eyes bent on some fine sewing,
sat our fine old friend Eliza.
there she is,
paler and thinner than in her Kentucky home,
with a world of quiet sorrow lying under the shadow of her long eyelashes,
and marking the outline of her gentle mouth!
It was plain to see how old and firm the girlish heart was grown under the discipline of heavy sorrow;
her large dark eye was raised to follow the gambols of her little Harry,
who was sporting,
like some tropical butterfly,
hither and thither over the floor,
she showed a depth of firmness and steady resolve that was never there in her earlier and happier days.
By her side sat a woman with a bright tin pan in her lap,
into which she was carefully sorting some dried peaches.
She might be fifty-five or sixty;
but hers was one of those faces that time seems to touch only to brighten and adorn.
The snowy lisse crape cap,
made after the strait Quaker pattern,
--the plain white muslin handkerchief,
lying in placid folds across her bosom,
--the drab shawl and dress,
--showed at once the community to which she belonged.
Her face was round and rosy,
with a healthful downy softness,
suggestive of a ripe peach.
partially silvered by age,
was parted smoothly back from a high placid forehead,
on which time had written no inscription,
except peace on earth,
good will to men,
and beneath shone a large pair of clear,
loving brown eyes;
you only needed to look straight into them,
to feel that you saw to the bottom of a heart as good and true as ever throbbed in woman's bosom.
So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls,
why don't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?
If any want to get up an inspiration under this head,
we refer them to our good friend Rachel Halliday,
just as she sits there in her little rocking-chair.
It had a turn for quacking and squeaking,
--that chair had,
--either from having taken cold in early life,
or from some asthmatic affection,
or perhaps from nervous derangement;
as she gently swung backward and forward,
the chair kept up a kind of subdued "creechy crawchy,"
that would have been intolerable in any other chair.
But old Simeon Halliday often declared it was as good as any music to him,
and the children all avowed that they wouldn't miss of hearing mother's chair for anything in the world.
for twenty years or more,
nothing but loving words,
and gentle moralities,
and motherly loving kindness,
had come from that chair;
--head-aches and heart-aches innumerable had been cured there,
--difficulties spiritual and temporal solved there,
--all by one good,
God bless her!
"And so thee still thinks of going to Canada,
as she was quietly looking over her peaches.
"I must go onward.
I dare not stop."
"And what'll thee do,
when thee gets there?
Thee must think about that,
"My daughter" came naturally from the lips of Rachel Halliday;
for hers was just the face and form that made "mother" seem the most natural word in the world.
Eliza's hands trembled,
and some tears fell on her fine work;
but she answered,
"I shall do --anything I can find.
I hope I can find something."
"Thee knows thee can stay here,
as long as thee pleases,"
"but" --she pointed to Harry --"I can't sleep nights;
I can't rest.
Last night I dreamed I saw that man coming into the yard,"
wiping her eyes;
"but thee mustn't feel so.
The Lord hath ordered it so that never hath a fugitive been stolen from our village.
I trust thine will not be the first."
The door here opened,
and a little short,
pin-cushiony woman stood at the door,
with a cheery,
like a ripe apple.
She was dressed,
in sober gray,
with the muslin folded neatly across her round,
plump little chest.
coming joyfully forward;
"how is thee,
heartily taking both her hands.
taking off her little drab bonnet,
and dusting it with her handkerchief,
as she did so,
a round little head,
on which the Quaker cap sat with a sort of jaunty air,
despite all the stroking and patting of the small fat hands,
which were busily applied to arranging it.
Certain stray locks of decidedly curly hair,
had escaped here and there,
and had to be coaxed and cajoled into their place again;
and then the new comer,
who might have been five-and-twenty,
turned from the small looking-glass,
before which she had been making these arrangements,
and looked well pleased,
--as most people who looked at her might have been,
--for she was decidedly a wholesome,
chirruping little woman,
as ever gladdened man's heart withal.
this friend is Eliza Harris;
and this is the little boy I told thee of."
"I am glad to see thee,
as if Eliza were an old friend she had long been expecting;
"and this is thy dear boy,
--I brought a cake for him,"
holding out a little heart to the boy,
who came up,
gazing through his curls,
and accepted it shyly.
"Where's thy baby,
but thy Mary caught him as I came in,
and ran off with him to the barn,
to show him to the children."
At this moment,
the door opened,
with large brown eyes,
like her mother's,
came in with the baby.
and taking the great,
fat fellow in her arms,
"how good he looks,
and how he does grow!"
"To be sure,
said little bustling Ruth,
as she took the child,
and began taking off a little blue silk hood,
and various layers and wrappers of outer garments;
and having given a twitch here,
and a pull there,
and variously adjusted and arranged him,
and kissed him heartily,
she set him on the floor to collect his thoughts.
Baby seemed quite used to this mode of proceeding,
for he put his thumb in his mouth (as if it were quite a thing of course),
and seemed soon absorbed in his own reflections,
while the mother seated herself,
and taking out a long stocking of mixed blue and white yarn,
began to knit with briskness.
thee'd better fill the kettle,
gently suggested the mother.
Mary took the kettle to the well,
and soon reappearing,
placed it over the stove,
where it was soon purring and steaming,
a sort of censer of hospitality and good cheer.
in obedience to a few gentle whispers from Rachel,
were soon deposited,
by the same hand,
in a stew-pan over the fire.
Rachel now took down a snowy moulding-board,
tying on an apron,
proceeded quietly to making up some biscuits,
first saying to Mary,
hadn't thee better tell John to get a chicken ready?"
and Mary disappeared accordingly.
"And how is Abigail Peters?"
as she went on with her biscuits.
"I was in,
made the bed,
tidied up the house.
Leah Hills went in,
and baked bread and pies enough to last some days;
and I engaged to go back to get her up,
"I will go in tomorrow,
and do any cleaning there may be,
and look over the mending,"
that is well,"
"that Hannah Stanwood is sick.
John was up there,
--I must go there tomorrow."
"John can come in here to his meals,
if thee needs to stay all day,"
here comes Simeon."
in drab coat and pantaloons,
and broad-brimmed hat,
"How is thee,
as he spread his broad open hand for her little fat palm;
"and how is John?"
John is well,
and all the rest of our folks,"
as she was putting her biscuits into the oven.
"Peter Stebbins told me that they should be along tonight,
as he was washing his hands at a neat sink,
in a little back porch.
and glancing at Eliza.
"Did thee say thy name was Harris?"
said Simeon to Eliza,
as he reentered.
Rachel glanced quickly at her husband,
as Eliza tremulously answered "yes;"
suggesting that possibly there might be advertisements out for her.
standing in the porch,
and calling Rachel out.
"What does thee want,
rubbing her floury hands,
as she went into the porch.
"This child's husband is in the settlement,
and will be here tonight,"
thee doesn't say that,
all her face radiant with joy.
"It's really true.
Peter was down yesterday,
with the wagon,
to the other stand,
and there he found an old woman and two men;
and one said his name was George Harris;
and from what he told of his history,
I am certain who he is.
He is a bright,
"Shall we tell her now?"
"Let's tell Ruth,"
Ruth laid down her knitting-work,
and was in the back porch in a moment.
what does thee think?"
"Father says Eliza's husband is in the last company,
and will be here tonight."
A burst of joy from the little Quakeress interrupted the speech.
She gave such a bound from the floor,
as she clapped her little hands,
that two stray curls fell from under her Quaker cap,
and lay brightly on her white neckerchief.
shall we tell her now?"
to be sure,
--this very minute.
't was my John,
how should I feel?
Do tell her,
"Thee uses thyself only to learn how to love thy neighbor,
with a beaming face,
"To be sure.
Isn't it what we are made for?
If I didn't love John and the baby,
I should not know how to feel for her.
now do tell her,
and she laid her hands persuasively on Rachel's arm.
"Take her into thy bed-room,
and let me fry the chicken while thee does it."
Rachel came out into the kitchen,
where Eliza was sewing,
and opening the door of a small bed-room,
"Come in here with me,
I have news to tell thee."
The blood flushed in Eliza's pale face;
trembling with nervous anxiety,
and looked towards her boy.
said little Ruth,
and seizing her hands.
"Never thee fear;
it's good news,
And she gently pushed her to the door which closed after her;
she caught little Harry in her arms,
and began kissing him.
"Thee'll see thy father,
Does thee know it?
Thy father is coming,"
over and over again,
as the boy looked wonderingly at her.
within the door,
another scene was going on.
Rachel Halliday drew Eliza toward her,
"The Lord hath had mercy on thee,
thy husband hath escaped from the house of bondage."
The blood flushed to Eliza's cheek in a sudden glow,
and went back to her heart with as sudden a rush.
She sat down,
pale and faint.
laying her hand on her head.
"He is among friends,
who will bring him here tonight."
The words lost all meaning to her;
her head was dreamy and confused;
all was mist for a moment.
When she awoke,
she found herself snugly tucked up on the bed,
with a blanket over her,
and little Ruth rubbing her hands with camphor.
She opened her eyes in a state of dreamy,
such as one who has long been bearing a heavy load,
and now feels it gone,
and would rest.
The tension of the nerves,
which had never ceased a moment since the first hour of her flight,
had given way,
and a strange feeling of security and rest came over her;
and as she lay,
with her large,
dark eyes open,
as in a quiet dream,
the motions of those about her.
She saw the door open into the other room;
saw the supper-table,
with its snowy cloth;
heard the dreamy murmur of the singing tea-kettle;
saw Ruth tripping backward and forward,
with plates of cake and saucers of preserves,
and ever and anon stopping to put a cake into Harry's hand,
or pat his head,
or twine his long curls round her snowy fingers.
She saw the ample,
motherly form of Rachel,
as she ever and anon came to the bedside,
and smoothed and arranged something about the bedclothes,
and gave a tuck here and there,
by way of expressing her good-will;
and was conscious of a kind of sunshine beaming down upon her from her large,
She saw Ruth's husband come in,
--saw her fly up to him,
and commence whispering very earnestly,
ever and anon,
with impressive gesture,
pointing her little finger toward the room.
She saw her,
with the baby in her arms,
sitting down to tea;
she saw them all at table,
and little Harry in a high chair,
under the shadow of Rachel's ample wing;
there were low murmurs of talk,
gentle tinkling of tea-spoons,
and musical clatter of cups and saucers,
and all mingled in a delightful dream of rest;
and Eliza slept,
as she had not slept before,
since the fearful midnight hour when she had taken her child and fled through the frosty starlight.
She dreamed of a beautiful country,
it seemed to her,
and beautifully glittering water;
in a house which kind voices told her was a home,
she saw her boy playing,
free and happy child.
She heard her husband's footsteps;
she felt him coming nearer;
his arms were around her,
his tears falling on her face,
and she awoke!
It was no dream.
The daylight had long faded;
her child lay calmly sleeping by her side;
a candle was burning dimly on the stand,
and her husband was sobbing by her pillow.
The next morning was a cheerful one at the Quaker house.
"Mother" was up betimes,
and surrounded by busy girls and boys,
whom we had scarce time to introduce to our readers yesterday,
and who all moved obediently to Rachel's gentle "Thee had better,"
or more gentle "Hadn't thee better?"
in the work of getting breakfast;
for a breakfast in the luxurious valleys of Indiana is a thing complicated and multiform,
like picking up the rose-leaves and trimming the bushes in Paradise,
asking other hands than those of the original mother.
John ran to the spring for fresh water,
and Simeon the second sifted meal for corn-cakes,
and Mary ground coffee,
Rachel moved gently,
and quietly about,
cutting up chicken,
and diffusing a sort of sunny radiance over the whole proceeding generally.
If there was any danger of friction or collision from the ill-regulated zeal of so many young operators,
her gentle "Come!
or "I wouldn't,
was quite sufficient to allay the difficulty.
Bards have written of the cestus of Venus,
that turned the heads of all the world in successive generations.
We had rather,
for our part,
have the cestus of Rachel Halliday,
that kept heads from being turned,
and made everything go on harmoniously.
We think it is more suited to our modern days,
While all other preparations were going on,
Simeon the elder stood in his shirt-sleeves before a little looking-glass in the corner,
engaged in the anti-patriarchal operation of shaving.
Everything went on so sociably,
in the great kitchen,
--it seemed so pleasant to every one to do just what they were doing,
there was such an atmosphere of mutual confidence and good fellowship everywhere,
--even the knives and forks had a social clatter as they went on to the table;
and the chicken and ham had a cheerful and joyous fizzle in the pan,
as if they rather enjoyed being cooked than otherwise;
--and when George and Eliza and little Harry came out,
they met such a hearty,
no wonder it seemed to them like a dream.
they were all seated at breakfast,
while Mary stood at the stove,
as they gained the true exact golden-brown tint of perfection,
were transferred quite handily to the table.
Rachel never looked so truly and benignly happy as at the head of her table.
There was so much motherliness and full-heartedness even in the way she passed a plate of cakes or poured a cup of coffee,
that it seemed to put a spirit into the food and drink she offered.
It was the first time that ever George had sat down on equal terms at any white man's table;
and he sat down,
with some constraint and awkwardness;
but they all exhaled and went off like fog,
in the genial morning rays of this simple,
was a home,
--a word that George had never yet known a meaning for;
and a belief in God,
and trust in his providence,
began to encircle his heart,
with a golden cloud of protection and confidence,
pining atheistic doubts,
and fierce despair,
melted away before the light of a living Gospel,
breathed in living faces,
preached by a thousand unconscious acts of love and good will,
like the cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple,
shall never lose their reward.
what if thee should get found out again?"
said Simeon second,
as he buttered his cake.
"I should pay my fine,"
"But what if they put thee in prison?"
"Couldn't thee and mother manage the farm?"
"Mother can do almost everything,"
said the boy.
"But isn't it a shame to make such laws?"
"Thee mustn't speak evil of thy rulers,
said his father,
"The Lord only gives us our worldly goods that we may do justice and mercy;
if our rulers require a price of us for it,
we must deliver it up.
I hate those old slaveholders!"
said the boy,
who felt as unchristian as became any modern reformer.
"I am surprised at thee,
"thy mother never taught thee so.
I would do even the same for the slaveholder as for the slave,
if the Lord brought him to my door in affliction."
Simeon second blushed scarlet;
but his mother only smiled,
"Simeon is my good boy;
he will grow older,
by and by,
and then he will be like his father."
my good sir,
that you are not exposed to any difficulty on our account,"
for therefore are we sent into the world.
If we would not meet trouble for a good cause,
we were not worthy of our name."
"I could not bear it."
it is not for thee,
but for God and man,
we do it,"
"And now thou must lie by quietly this day,
at ten o'clock,
Phineas Fletcher will carry thee onward to the next stand,
--thee and the rest of thy company.
The pursuers are hard after thee;
we must not delay."
"If that is the case,
why wait till evening?"
"Thou art safe here by daylight,
for every one in the settlement is a Friend,
and all are watching.
It has been found safer to travel by night."
"A young star!
which shone O'er life --too sweet an image,
for such glass!
A lovely being,
scarcely formed or moulded;
A rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded."
as by an enchanted wand,
have its scenes been changed,
since Chateaubriand wrote his prose-poetic description of it,* as a river of mighty,
rolling amid undreamed wonders of vegetable and animal existence.
* -In Atala;
or the Love and Constantcy of Two Savages in the Desert- (1801) by Francois Auguste Rene,
Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848).
But as in an hour,
this river of dreams and wild romance has emerged to a reality scarcely less visionary and splendid.
What other river of the world bears on its bosom to the ocean the wealth and enterprise of such another country?
--a country whose products embrace all between the tropics and the poles!
Those turbid waters,
an apt resemblance of that headlong tide of business which is poured along its wave by a race more vehement and energetic than any the old world ever saw.
would that they did not also bear along a more fearful freight,
--the tears of the oppressed,
the sighs of the helpless,
the bitter prayers of poor,
ignorant hearts to an unknown God --unknown,
unseen and silent,
but who will yet "come out of his place to save all the poor of the earth!"
The slanting light of the setting sun quivers on the sea-like expanse of the river;
the shivery canes,
and the tall,
hung with wreaths of dark,
glow in the golden ray,
as the heavily-laden steamboat marches onward.
Piled with cotton-bales,
from many a plantation,
up over deck and sides,
till she seems in the distance a square,
massive block of gray,
she moves heavily onward to the nearing mart.
We must look some time among its crowded decks before we shall find again our humble friend Tom.
High on the upper deck,
in a little nook among the everywhere predominant cotton-bales,
at last we may find him.
Partly from confidence inspired by Mr. Shelby's representations,
and partly from the remarkably inoffensive and quiet character of the man,
Tom had insensibly won his way far into the confidence even of such a man as Haley.
At first he had watched him narrowly through the day,
and never allowed him to sleep at night unfettered;
but the uncomplaining patience and apparent contentment of Tom's manner led him gradually to discontinue these restraints,
and for some time Tom had enjoyed a sort of parole of honor,
being permitted to come and go freely where he pleased on the boat.
Ever quiet and obliging,
and more than ready to lend a hand in every emergency which occurred among the workmen below,
he had won the good opinion of all the hands,
and spent many hours in helping them with as hearty a good will as ever he worked on a Kentucky farm.
When there seemed to be nothing for him to do,
he would climb to a nook among the cotton-bales of the upper deck,
and busy himself in studying over his Bible,
--and it is there we see him now.
For a hundred or more miles above New Orleans,
the river is higher than the surrounding country,
and rolls its tremendous volume between massive levees twenty feet in height.
The traveller from the deck of the steamer,
as from some floating castle top,
overlooks the whole country for miles and miles around.
had spread out full before him,
in plantation after plantation,
a map of the life to which he was approaching.
He saw the distant slaves at their toil;
he saw afar their villages of huts gleaming out in long rows on many a plantation,
distant from the stately mansions and pleasure-grounds of the master;
--and as the moving picture passed on,
foolish heart would be turning backward to the Kentucky farm,
with its old shadowy beeches,
--to the master's house,
with its wide,
the little cabin overgrown with the multiflora and bignonia.
There he seemed to see familiar faces of comrades who had grown up with him from infancy;
he saw his busy wife,
bustling in her preparations for his evening meals;
he heard the merry laugh of his boys at their play,
and the chirrup of the baby at his knee;
with a start,
and he saw again the canebrakes and cypresses and gliding plantations,
and heard again the creaking and groaning of the machinery,
all telling him too plainly that all that phase of life had gone by forever.
In such a case,
you write to your wife,
and send messages to your children;
but Tom could not write,
--the mail for him had no existence,
and the gulf of separation was unbridged by even a friendly word or signal.
Is it strange,
that some tears fall on the pages of his Bible,
as he lays it on the cotton-bale,
with patient finger,
threading his slow way from word to word,
traces out its promises?
Having learned late in life,
Tom was but a slow reader,
and passed on laboriously from verse to verse.
Fortunate for him was it that the book he was intent on was one which slow reading cannot injure,
one whose words,
like ingots of gold,
seem often to need to be weighed separately,
that the mind may take in their priceless value.
Let us follow him a moment,
pointing to each word,
and pronouncing each half aloud,
"Let --not --your --heart --be --troubled.
In --my --Father's --house --are --many --mansions.
I --go --to --prepare --a --place --for --you."
when he buried his darling and only daughter,
had a heart as full of honest grief as poor Tom's,
--perhaps no fuller,
for both were only men;
--but Cicero could pause over no such sublime words of hope,
and look to no such future reunion;
and if he -had- seen them,
ten to one he would not have believed,
--he must fill his head first with a thousand questions of authenticity of manuscript,
and correctness of translation.
to poor Tom,
there it lay,
just what he needed,
so evidently true and divine that the possibility of a question never entered his simple head.
It must be true;
if not true,
how could he live?
As for Tom's Bible,
though it had no annotations and helps in margin from learned commentators,
still it had been embellished with certain way-marks and guide-boards of Tom's own invention,
and which helped him more than the most learned expositions could have done.
It had been his custom to get the Bible read to him by his master's children,
in particular by young Master George;
as they read,
he would designate,
strong marks and dashes,
with pen and ink,
the passages which more particularly gratified his ear or affected his heart.
His Bible was thus marked through,
from one end to the other,
with a variety of styles and designations;
so he could in a moment seize upon his favorite passages,
without the labor of spelling out what lay between them;
--and while it lay there before him,
every passage breathing of some old home scene,
and recalling some past enjoyment,
his Bible seemed to him all of this life that remained,
as well as the promise of a future one.
Among the passengers on the boat was a young gentleman of fortune and family,
resident in New Orleans,
who bore the name of St. Clare.
He had with him a daughter between five and six years of age,
together with a lady who seemed to claim relationship to both,
and to have the little one especially under her charge.
Tom had often caught glimpses of this little girl,
--for she was one of those busy,
that can be no more contained in one place than a sunbeam or a summer breeze,
--nor was she one that,
could be easily forgotten.
Her form was the perfection of childish beauty,
without its usual chubbiness and squareness of outline.
There was about it an undulating and aerial grace,
such as one might dream of for some mythic and allegorical being.
Her face was remarkable less for its perfect beauty of feature than for a singular and dreamy earnestness of expression,
which made the ideal start when they looked at her,
and by which the dullest and most literal were impressed,
without exactly knowing why.
The shape of her head and the turn of her neck and bust was peculiarly noble,
and the long golden-brown hair that floated like a cloud around it,
the deep spiritual gravity of her violet blue eyes,
shaded by heavy fringes of golden brown,
--all marked her out from other children,
and made every one turn and look after her,
as she glided hither and thither on the boat.
the little one was not what you would have called either a grave child or a sad one.
On the contrary,
an airy and innocent playfulness seemed to flicker like the shadow of summer leaves over her childish face,
and around her buoyant figure.
She was always in motion,
always with a half smile on her rosy mouth,
flying hither and thither,
with an undulating and cloud-like tread,
singing to herself as she moved as in a happy dream.
Her father and female guardian were incessantly busy in pursuit of her,
she melted from them again like a summer cloud;
and as no word of chiding or reproof ever fell on her ear for whatever she chose to do,
she pursued her own way all over the boat.
Always dressed in white,
she seemed to move like a shadow through all sorts of places,
without contracting spot or stain;
and there was not a corner or nook,
above or below,
where those fairy footsteps had not glided,
and that visionary golden head,
with its deep blue eyes,
as he looked up from his sweaty toil,
sometimes found those eyes looking wonderingly into the raging depths of the furnace,
and fearfully and pityingly at him,
as if she thought him in some dreadful danger.
Anon the steersman at the wheel paused and smiled,
as the picture-like head gleamed through the window of the round house,
and in a moment was gone again.
A thousand times a day rough voices blessed her,
and smiles of unwonted softness stole over hard faces,
as she passed;
and when she tripped fearlessly over dangerous places,
sooty hands were stretched involuntarily out to save her,
and smooth her path.
who had the soft,
impressible nature of his kindly race,
ever yearning toward the simple and childlike,
watched the little creature with daily increasing interest.
To him she seemed something almost divine;
and whenever her golden head and deep blue eyes peered out upon him from behind some dusky cotton-bale,
or looked down upon him over some ridge of packages,
he half believed that he saw one of the angels stepped out of his New Testament.
Often and often she walked mournfully round the place where Haley's gang of men and women sat in their chains.
She would glide in among them,
and look at them with an air of perplexed and sorrowful earnestness;
and sometimes she would lift their chains with her slender hands,
and then sigh wofully,
as she glided away.
Several times she appeared suddenly among them,
with her hands full of candy,
which she would distribute joyfully to them,
and then be gone again.
Tom watched the little lady a great deal,
before he ventured on any overtures towards acquaintanceship.
He knew an abundance of simple acts to propitiate and invite the approaches of the little people,
and he resolved to play his part right skilfully.
He could cut cunning little baskets out of cherry-stones,
could make grotesque faces on hickory-nuts,
or odd-jumping figures out of elder-pith,
and he was a very Pan in the manufacture of whistles of all sizes and sorts.
His pockets were full of miscellaneous articles of attraction,
which he had hoarded in days of old for his master's children,
and which he now produced,
with commendable prudence and economy,
one by one,
as overtures for acquaintance and friendship.
The little one was shy,
for all her busy interest in everything going on,
and it was not easy to tame her.
For a while,
she would perch like a canary-bird on some box or package near Tom,
while busy in the little arts afore-named,
and take from him,
with a kind of grave bashfulness,
the little articles he offered.
But at last they got on quite confidential terms.
"What's little missy's name?"
when he thought matters were ripe to push such an inquiry.
"Evangeline St. Clare,"
said the little one,
"though papa and everybody else call me Eva.
what's your name?"
"My name's Tom;
the little chil'en used to call me Uncle Tom,
way back thar in Kentuck."
"Then I mean to call you Uncle Tom,
I like you,"
where are you going?"
"I don't know,
I am going to be sold to somebody.
I don't know who."
"My papa can buy you,"
"and if he buys you,
you will have good times.
I mean to ask him,
this very day."
my little lady,"
The boat here stopped at a small landing to take in wood,
hearing her father's voice,
bounded nimbly away.
Tom rose up,
and went forward to offer his service in wooding,
and soon was busy among the hands.
Eva and her father were standing together by the railings to see the boat start from the landing-place,
the wheel had made two or three revolutions in the water,
by some sudden movement,
the little one suddenly lost her balance and fell sheer over the side of the boat into the water.
scarce knowing what he did,
was plunging in after her,
but was held back by some behind him,
who saw that more efficient aid had followed his child.
Tom was standing just under her on the lower deck,
as she fell.
He saw her strike the water,
and was after her in a moment.
it was nothing for him to keep afloat in the water,
in a moment or two the child rose to the surface,
and he caught her in his arms,
swimming with her to the boat-side,
handed her up,
to the grasp of hundreds of hands,
as if they had all belonged to one man,
were stretched eagerly out to receive her.
A few moments more,
and her father bore her,
dripping and senseless,
to the ladies' cabin,
as is usual in cases of the kind,
there ensued a very well-meaning and kind-hearted strife among the female occupants generally,
as to who should do the most things to make a disturbance,
and to hinder her recovery in every way possible.
It was a sultry,
the next day,
as the steamer drew near to New Orleans.
A general bustle of expectation and preparation was spread through the boat;
in the cabin,
one and another were gathering their things together,
and arranging them,
preparatory to going ashore.
The steward and chambermaid,
were busily engaged in cleaning,
and arranging the splendid boat,
preparatory to a grand entree.
On the lower deck sat our friend Tom,
with his arms folded,
from time to time,
turning his eyes towards a group on the other side of the boat.
There stood the fair Evangeline,
a little paler than the day before,
but otherwise exhibiting no traces of the accident which had befallen her.
elegantly-formed young man stood by her,
carelessly leaning one elbow on a bale of cotton while a large pocket-book lay open before him.
It was quite evident,
at a glance,
that the gentleman was Eva's father.
There was the same noble cast of head,
the same large blue eyes,
the same golden-brown hair;
yet the expression was wholly different.
In the large,
clear blue eyes,
though in form and color exactly similar,
there was wanting that misty,
dreamy depth of expression;
all was clear,
but with a light wholly of this world: the beautifully cut mouth had a proud and somewhat sarcastic expression,
while an air of free-and-easy superiority sat not ungracefully in every turn and movement of his fine form.
He was listening,
with a good-humored,
who was very volubly expatiating on the quality of the article for which they were bargaining.
"All the moral and Christian virtues bound in black Morocco,
when Haley had finished.
my good fellow,
what's the damage,
as they say in Kentucky;
what's to be paid out for this business?
How much are you going to cheat me,
Out with it!"
"if I should say thirteen hundred dollars for that ar fellow,
I shouldn't but just save myself;
said the young man,
fixing his keen,
mocking blue eye on him;
"but I suppose you'd let me have him for that,
out of a particular regard for me."
the young lady here seems to be sot on him,
and nat'lly enough."
there's a call on your benevolence,
as a matter of Christian charity,
how cheap could you afford to let him go,
to oblige a young lady that's particular sot on him?"
just think on
said the trader;
"just look at them limbs,
strong as a horse.
Look at his head;
them high forrads allays shows calculatin niggers,
that'll do any kind o' thing.
marked that ar.
a nigger of that ar heft and build is worth considerable,
just as you may say,
for his body,
supposin he's stupid;
but come to put in his calculatin faculties,
and them which I can show he has oncommon,
it makes him come higher.
that ar fellow managed his master's whole farm.
He has a strornary talent for business."
knows altogether too much!"
said the young man,
with the same mocking smile playing about his mouth.
"Never will do,
in the world.
Your smart fellows are always running off,
and raising the devil generally.
I think you'll have to take off a couple of hundred for his smartness."
there might be something in that ar,
if it warnt for his character;
but I can show recommends from his master and others,
to prove he is one of your real pious,
--the most humble,
pious crittur ye ever did see.
he's been called a preacher in them parts he came from."
"And I might use him for a family chaplain,
added the young man,
"That's quite an idea.
Religion is a remarkably scarce article at our house."
"How do you know I am?
Didn't you just warrant him for a preacher?
Has he been examined by any synod or council?
hand over your papers."
If the trader had not been sure,
by a certain good-humored twinkle in the large eye,
that all this banter was sure,
in the long run,
to turn out a cash concern,
he might have been somewhat out of patience;
as it was,
he laid down a greasy pocket-book on the cotton-bales,
and began anxiously studying over certain papers in it,
the young man standing by,
looking down on him with an air of careless,
do buy him!
it's no matter what you pay,"
getting up on a package,
and putting her arm around her father's neck.
"You have money enough,
I want him."
Are you going to use him for a rattle-box,
or a rocking-horse,
"I want to make him happy."
"An original reason,
Here the trader handed up a certificate,
signed by Mr. Shelby,
which the young man took with the tips of his long fingers,
and glanced over carelessly.
"A gentlemanly hand,"
"and well spelt,
but I'm not sure,
about this religion,"
the old wicked expression returning to his eye;
"the country is almost ruined with pious white people;
such pious politicians as we have just before elections,
--such pious goings on in all departments of church and state,
that a fellow does not know who'll cheat him next.
I don't know,
about religion's being up in the market,
I have not looked in the papers lately,
to see how it sells.
How many hundred dollars,
do you put on for this religion?"
"You like to be jokin,
said the trader;
there's -sense- under all that ar.
I know there's differences in religion.
Some kinds is mis'rable: there's your meetin pious;
there's your singin,
them ar an't no account,
in black or white;
--but these rayly is;
and I've seen it in niggers as often as any,
your rail softly,
that the hull world couldn't tempt
'em to do nothing that they thinks is wrong;
and ye see in this letter what Tom's old master says about him."
said the young man,
stooping gravely over his book of bills,
"if you can assure me that I really can buy -this- kind of pious,
and that it will be set down to my account in the book up above,
as something belonging to me,
I wouldn't care if I did go a little extra for it.
How d'ye say?"
I can't do that,"
said the trader.
"I'm a thinkin that every man'll have to hang on his own hook,
in them ar quarters."
"Rather hard on a fellow that pays extra on religion,
and can't trade with it in the state where he wants it most,
said the young man,
who had been making out a roll of bills while he was speaking.
count your money,
as he handed the roll to the trader.
his face beaming with delight;
and pulling out an old inkhorn,
he proceeded to fill out a bill of sale,
in a few moments,
he handed to the young man.
if I was divided up and inventoried,"
said the latter as he ran over the paper,
"how much I might bring.
Say so much for the shape of my head,
so much for a high forehead,
so much for arms,
and then so much for education,
there would be small charge on that last,
and taking the hand of his daughter,
he stepped across the boat,
and carelessly putting the tip of his finger under Tom's chin,
and see how you like your new master."
Tom looked up.
It was not in nature to look into that gay,
without a feeling of pleasure;
and Tom felt the tears start in his eyes as he said,
"God bless you,
I hope he will.
What's your name?
Quite as likely to do it for your asking as mine,
from all accounts.
Can you drive horses,
"I've been allays used to horses,"
"Mas'r Shelby raised heaps of
I think I shall put you in coachy,
on condition that you won't be drunk more than once a week,
unless in cases of emergency,
Tom looked surprised,
and rather hurt,
"I never drink,
"I've heard that story before,
but then we'll see.
It will be a special accommodation to all concerned,
if you don't.
seeing Tom still looked grave;
"I don't doubt you mean to do well."
"I sartin do,
"And you shall have good times,"
"Papa is very good to everybody,
only he always will laugh at them."
"Papa is much obliged to you for his recommendation,"
said St. Clare,
as he turned on his heel and walked away.