Part 2 out of 12
"Devilish free, now I've signed those papers, cuss him!"
muttered Haley to himself; "quite grand, since yesterday!"
Never did fall of any prime minister at court occasion wider
surges of sensation than the report of Tom's fate among his
compeers on the place. It was the topic in every mouth, everywhere;
and nothing was done in the house or in the field, but to discuss
its probable results. Eliza's flight--an unprecedented event on
the place--was also a great accessory in stimulating the general
Black Sam, as he was commonly called, from his being about
three shades blacker than any other son of ebony on the place, was
revolving the matter profoundly in all its phases and bearings,
with a comprehensiveness of vision and a strict lookout to his own
personal well-being, that would have done credit to any white
patriot in Washington.
"It's an ill wind dat blow nowhar,--dat ar a fact," said Sam,
sententiously, giving an additional hoist to his pantaloons,
and adroitly substituting a long nail in place of a missing
suspender-button, with which effort of mechanical genius he seemed
"Yes, it's an ill wind blows nowhar," he repeated. "Now, dar,
Tom's down--wal, course der's room for some nigger to be
up--and why not dis nigger?--dat's de idee. Tom, a ridin' round
de country--boots blacked--pass in his pocket--all grand as
Cuffee--but who he? Now, why shouldn't Sam?--dat's what I want
"Halloo, Sam--O Sam! Mas'r wants you to cotch Bill and
Jerry," said Andy, cutting short Sam's soliloquy.
"High! what's afoot now, young un?"
"Why, you don't know, I s'pose, that Lizy's cut stick, and
clared out, with her young un?"
"You teach your granny!" said Sam, with infinite contempt;
"knowed it a heap sight sooner than you did; this nigger an't so
Well, anyhow, Mas'r wants Bill and Jerry geared right up;
and you and I 's to go with Mas'r Haley, to look arter her."
"Good, now! dat's de time o' day!" said Sam. "It's Sam
dat's called for in dese yer times. He's de nigger. See if I
don't cotch her, now; Mas'r'll see what Sam can do!"
"Ah! but, Sam," said Andy, "you'd better think twice; for
Missis don't want her cotched, and she'll be in yer wool."
"High!" said Sam, opening his eyes. "How you know dat?"
"Heard her say so, my own self, dis blessed mornin', when
I bring in Mas'r's shaving-water. She sent me to see why Lizy
didn't come to dress her; and when I telled her she was off,
she jest ris up, and ses she, `The Lord be praised;' and Mas'r,
he seemed rael mad, and ses he, `Wife, you talk like a fool.'
But Lor! she'll bring him to! I knows well enough how that'll
be,--it's allers best to stand Missis' side the fence, now
I tell yer."
Black Sam, upon this, scratched his woolly pate, which, if
it did not contain very profound wisdom, still contained a great
deal of a particular species much in demand among politicians of
all complexions and countries, and vulgarly denominated "knowing
which side the bread is buttered;" so, stopping with grave
consideration, he again gave a hitch to his pantaloons, which was
his regularly organized method of assisting his mental perplexities.
"Der an't no saying'--never--'bout no kind o' thing in _dis_
yer world," he said, at last. Sam spoke like a philosopher,
emphasizing _this_--as if he had had a large experience in different
sorts of worlds, and therefore had come to his conclusions advisedly.
"Now, sartin I'd a said that Missis would a scoured the
varsal world after Lizy," added Sam, thoughtfully.
"So she would," said Andy; "but can't ye see through a ladder,
ye black nigger? Missis don't want dis yer Mas'r Haley to get
Lizy's boy; dat's de go!"
"High!" said Sam, with an indescribable intonation, known
only to those who have heard it among the negroes.
"And I'll tell yer more 'n all," said Andy; "I specs you'd
better be making tracks for dem hosses,--mighty sudden, too,---for
I hearn Missis 'quirin' arter yer,--so you've stood foolin' long
Sam, upon this, began to bestir himself in real earnest,
and after a while appeared, bearing down gloriously towards the
house, with Bill and Jerry in a full canter, and adroitly throwing
himself off before they had any idea of stopping, he brought them
up alongside of the horse-post like a tornado. Haley's horse,
which was a skittish young colt, winced, and bounced, and
pulled hard at his halter.
"Ho, ho!" said Sam, "skeery, ar ye?" and his black visage
lighted up with a curious, mischievous gleam. "I'll fix ye now!"
There was a large beech-tree overshadowing the place, and
the small, sharp, triangular beech-nuts lay scattered thickly on
the ground. With one of these in his fingers, Sam approached the
colt, stroked and patted, and seemed apparently busy in soothing
his agitation. On pretence of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly
slipped under it the sharp little nut, in such a manner that the
least weight brought upon the saddle would annoy the nervous
sensibilities of the animal, without leaving any perceptible graze
"Dar!" he said, rolling his eyes with an approving grin;
"me fix 'em!"
At this moment Mrs. Shelby appeared on the balcony, beckoning
to him. Sam approached with as good a determination to pay court
as did ever suitor after a vacant place at St. James' or Washington.
"Why have you been loitering so, Sam? I sent Andy to tell
you to hurry."
"Lord bless you, Missis!" said Sam, "horses won't be cotched
all in a mimit; they'd done clared out way down to the south pasture,
and the Lord knows whar!"
"Sam, how often must I tell you not to say `Lord bless you,
and the Lord knows,' and such things? It's wicked."
"O, Lord bless my soul! I done forgot, Missis! I won't say
nothing of de sort no more."
"Why, Sam, you just _have_ said it again."
"Did I? O, Lord! I mean--I didn't go fur to say it."
"You must be _careful_, Sam."
"Just let me get my breath, Missis, and I'll start fair.
I'll be bery careful."
"Well, Sam, you are to go with Mr. Haley, to show him the
road, and help him. Be careful of the horses, Sam; you know
Jerry was a little lame last week; _don't ride them too fast_."
Mrs. Shelby spoke the last words with a low voice, and
"Let dis child alone for dat!" said Sam, rolling up his eyes
with a volume of meaning. "Lord knows! High! Didn't say
dat!" said he, suddenly catching his breath, with a ludicrous
flourish of apprehension, which made his mistress laugh, spite
of herself. "Yes, Missis, I'll look out for de hosses!"
"Now, Andy," said Sam, returning to his stand under the
beech-trees, "you see I wouldn't be 't all surprised if dat ar
gen'lman's crittur should gib a fling, by and by, when he comes to
be a gettin' up. You know, Andy, critturs _will_ do such things;"
and therewith Sam poked Andy in the side, in a highly suggestive manner.
"High!" said Andy, with an air of instant appreciation.
"Yes, you see, Andy, Missis wants to make time,--dat ar's
clar to der most or'nary 'bserver. I jis make a little for her.
Now, you see, get all dese yer hosses loose, caperin' permiscus
round dis yer lot and down to de wood dar, and I spec Mas'r won't
be off in a hurry."
"Yer see," said Sam, "yer see, Andy, if any such thing should
happen as that Mas'r Haley's horse _should_ begin to act
contrary, and cut up, you and I jist lets go of our'n to help him,
and _we'll help him_--oh yes!" And Sam and Andy laid their heads
back on their shoulders, and broke into a low, immoderate laugh,
snapping their fingers and flourishing their heels with exquisite
At this instant, Haley appeared on the verandah. Somewhat
mollified by certain cups of very good coffee, he came out smiling
and talking, in tolerably restored humor. Sam and Andy, clawing
for certain fragmentary palm-leaves, which they were in the habit
of considering as hats, flew to the horseposts, to be ready to
Sam's palm-leaf had been ingeniously disentangled from all
pretensions to braid, as respects its brim; and the slivers starting
apart, and standing upright, gave it a blazing air of freedom and
defiance, quite equal to that of any Fejee chief; while the whole
brim of Andy's being departed bodily, he rapped the crown on his
head with a dexterous thump, and looked about well pleased, as if
to say, "Who says I haven't got a hat?"
"Well, boys," said Haley, "look alive now; we must lose no time."
"Not a bit of him, Mas'r!" said Sam, putting Haley's rein
in his hand, and holding his stirrup, while Andy was untying the
other two horses.
The instant Haley touched the saddle, the mettlesome creature
bounded from the earth with a sudden spring, that threw his master
sprawling, some feet off, on the soft, dry turf. Sam, with frantic
ejaculations, made a dive at the reins, but only succeeded in
brushing the blazing palm-leaf afore-named into the horse's eyes,
which by no means tended to allay the confusion of his nerves.
So, with great vehemence, he overturned Sam, and, giving two or
three contemptuous snorts, flourished his heels vigorously in the
air, and was soon prancing away towards the lower end of the lawn,
followed by Bill and Jerry, whom Andy had not failed to let loose,
according to contract, speeding them off with various direful
ejaculations. And now ensued a miscellaneous scene of confusion.
Sam and Andy ran and shouted,--dogs barked here and there,--and
Mike, Mose, Mandy, Fanny, and all the smaller specimens on the
place, both male and female, raced, clapped hands, whooped, and
shouted, with outrageous officiousness and untiring zeal.
Haley's horse, which was a white one, and very fleet and spirited,
appeared to enter into the spirit of the scene with great gusto;
and having for his coursing ground a lawn of nearly half a mile
in extent, gently sloping down on every side into indefinite woodland,
he appeared to take infinite delight in seeing how near he could allow
his pursuers to approach him, and then, when within a hand's breadth,
whisk off with a start and a snort, like a mischievous beast as he was
and career far down into some alley of the wood-lot. Nothing was
further from Sam's mind than to have any one of the troop taken until
such season as should seem to him most befitting,--and the exertions
that he made were certainly most heroic. Like the sword of Coeur
De Lion, which always blazed in the front and thickest of the battle,
Sam's palm-leaf was to be seen everywhere when there was the least
danger that a horse could be caught; there he would bear down full
tilt, shouting, "Now for it! cotch him! cotch him!" in a way that
would set everything to indiscriminate rout in a moment.
Haley ran up and down, and cursed and swore and stamped
miscellaneously. Mr. Shelby in vain tried to shout directions from
the balcony, and Mrs. Shelby from her chamber window alternately
laughed and wondered,--not without some inkling of what lay at the
bottom of all this confusion.
At last, about twelve o'clock, Sam appeared triumphant,
mounted on Jerry, with Haley's horse by his side, reeking with
sweat, but with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, showing that
the spirit of freedom had not yet entirely subsided.
"He's cotched!" he exclaimed, triumphantly. "If 't hadn't been for
me, they might a bust themselves, all on 'em; but I cotched him!"
"You!" growled Haley, in no amiable mood. "If it hadn't
been for you, this never would have happened."
"Lord bless us, Mas'r," said Sam, in a tone of the deepest
concern, "and me that has been racin' and chasin' till the sweat
jest pours off me!"
"Well, well!" said Haley, "you've lost me near three hours,
with your cursed nonsense. Now let's be off, and have no
"Why, Mas'r," said Sam, in a deprecating tone, "I believe
you mean to kill us all clar, horses and all. Here we are all just
ready to drop down, and the critters all in a reek of sweat. Why,
Mas'r won't think of startin' on now till arter dinner. Mas'rs'
hoss wants rubben down; see how he splashed hisself; and Jerry
limps too; don't think Missis would be willin' to have us start
dis yer way, no how. Lord bless you, Mas'r, we can ketch up, if
we do stop. Lizy never was no great of a walker."
Mrs. Shelby, who, greatly to her amusement, had overheard
this conversation from the verandah, now resolved to do her part.
She came forward, and, courteously expressing her concern for
Haley's accident, pressed him to stay to dinner, saying that the
cook should bring it on the table immediately.
Thus, all things considered, Haley, with rather an equivocal
grace, proceeded to the parlor, while Sam, rolling his eyes after
him with unutterable meaning, proceeded gravely with the horses to
"Did yer see him, Andy? _did_ yer see him? and Sam, when
he had got fairly beyond the shelter of the barn, and fastened the
horse to a post. "O, Lor, if it warn't as good as a meetin', now,
to see him a dancin' and kickin' and swarin' at us. Didn't I hear
him? Swar away, ole fellow (says I to myself ); will yer have yer
hoss now, or wait till you cotch him? (says I). Lor, Andy, I think
I can see him now." And Sam and Andy leaned up against the barn
and laughed to their hearts' content.
"Yer oughter seen how mad he looked, when I brought the
hoss up. Lord, he'd a killed me, if he durs' to; and there I was
a standin' as innercent and as humble."
"Lor, I seed you," said Andy; "an't you an old hoss, Sam?"
"Rather specks I am," said Sam; "did yer see Missis up
stars at the winder? I seed her laughin'."
"I'm sure, I was racin' so, I didn't see nothing," said Andy.
"Well, yer see," said Sam, proceeding gravely to wash down
Haley's pony, "I 'se 'quired what yer may call a habit _o'
bobservation_, Andy. It's a very 'portant habit, Andy; and I
'commend yer to be cultivatin' it, now yer young. Hist up that
hind foot, Andy. Yer see, Andy, it's _bobservation_ makes all de
difference in niggers. Didn't I see which way the wind blew dis
yer mornin'? Didn't I see what Missis wanted, though she never
let on? Dat ar's bobservation, Andy. I 'spects it's what you may
call a faculty. Faculties is different in different peoples, but
cultivation of 'em goes a great way."
"I guess if I hadn't helped your bobservation dis mornin',
yer wouldn't have seen your way so smart," said Andy.
"Andy," said Sam, "you's a promisin' child, der an't no manner
o' doubt. I thinks lots of yer, Andy; and I don't feel no ways
ashamed to take idees from you. We oughtenter overlook nobody,
Andy, cause the smartest on us gets tripped up sometimes. And so,
Andy, let's go up to the house now. I'll be boun' Missis'll give
us an uncommon good bite, dis yer time."
The Mother's Struggle
It is impossible to conceive of a human creature more wholly
desolate and forlorn than Eliza, when she turned her footsteps
from Uncle Tom's cabin.
Her husband's suffering and dangers, and the danger of her
child, all blended in her mind, with a confused and stunning sense
of the risk she was running, in leaving the only home she had ever
known, and cutting loose from the protection of a friend whom she
loved and revered. Then there was the parting from every familiar
object,--the place where she had grown up, the trees under which
she had played, the groves where she had walked many an evening in
happier days, by the side of her young husband,--everything, as it
lay in the clear, frosty starlight, seemed to speak reproachfully
to her, and ask her whither could she go from a home like that?
But stronger than all was maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm
of frenzy by the near approach of a fearful danger. Her boy was
old enough to have walked by her side, and, in an indifferent
case, she would only have led him by the hand; but now the bare
thought of putting him out of her arms made her shudder, and she
strained him to her bosom with a convulsive grasp, as she went
The frosty ground creaked beneath her feet, and she trembled
at the sound; every quaking leaf and fluttering shadow sent the
blood backward to her heart, and quickened her footsteps.
She wondered within herself at the strength that seemed to be
come upon her; for she felt the weight of her boy as if it had
been a feather, and every flutter of fear seemed to increase the
supernatural power that bore her on, while from her pale lips
burst forth, in frequent ejaculations, the prayer to a Friend
above--"Lord, help! Lord, save me!"
If it were _your_ Harry, mother, or your Willie, that were going
to be torn from you by a brutal trader, tomorrow morning,--if
you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were signed and
delivered, and you had only from twelve o'clock till morning to
make good your escape,--how fast could _you_ walk? How many miles
could you make in those few brief hours, with the darling at your
bosom,--the little sleepy head on your shoulder,--the small, soft
arms trustingly holding on to your neck?
For the child slept. At first, the novelty and alarm kept
him waking; but his mother so hurriedly repressed every breath or
sound, and so assured him that if he were only still she would
certainly save him, that he clung quietly round her neck, only
asking, as he found himself sinking to sleep,
"Mother, I don't need to keep awake, do I?"
"No, my darling; sleep, if you want to."
"But, mother, if I do get asleep, you won't let him get me?"
"No! so may God help me!" said his mother, with a paler
cheek, and a brighter light in her large dark eyes.
"You're _sure_, an't you, mother?"
"Yes, _sure_!" said the mother, in a voice that startled
herself; for it seemed to her to come from a spirit within, that
was no part of her; and the boy dropped his litle weary head on
her shoulder, and was soon asleep. How the touch of those warm
arms, the gentle breathings that came in her neck, seemed to add
fire and spirit to her movements! It seemed to her as if strength
poured into her in electric streams, from every gentle touch and
movement of the sleeping, confiding child. Sublime is the dominion
of the mind over the body, that, for a time, can make flesh and
nerve impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so that the
weak become so mighty.
The boundaries of the farm, the grove, the wood-lot, passed
by her dizzily, as she walked on; and still she went, leaving one
familiar object after another, slacking not, pausing not, till
reddening daylight found her many a long mile from all traces of
any familiar objects upon the open highway.
She had often been, with her mistress, to visit some connections,
in the little village of T----, not far from the Ohio river,
and knew the road well. To go thither, to escape across the
Ohio river, were the first hurried outlines of her plan of
escape; beyond that, she could only hope in God.
When horses and vehicles began to move along the highway,
with that alert perception peculiar to a state of excitement, and
which seems to be a sort of inspiration, she became aware that her
headlong pace and distracted air might bring on her remark and
suspicion. She therefore put the boy on the ground, and, adjusting
her dress and bonnet, she walked on at as rapid a pace as she
thought consistent with the preservation of appearances. In her
little bundle she had provided a store of cakes and apples, which
she used as expedients for quickening the speed of the child,
rolling the apple some yards before them, when the boy would run
with all his might after it; and this ruse, often repeated, carried
them over many a half-mile.
After a while, they came to a thick patch of woodland,
through which murmured a clear brook. As the child complained of
hunger and thirst, she climbed over the fence with him; and, sitting
down behind a large rock which concealed them from the road, she
gave him a breakfast out of her little package. The boy
wondered and grieved that she could not eat; and when, putting his
arms round her neck, he tried to wedge some of his cake into her
mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in her throat would choke her.
"No, no, Harry darling! mother can't eat till you are safe!
We must go on--on--till we come to the river!" And she hurried
again into the road, and again constrained herself to walk regularly
and composedly forward.
She was many miles past any neighborhood where she was
personally known. If she should chance to meet any who knew her,
she reflected that the well-known kindness of the family would be
of itself a blind to suspicion, as making it an unlikely supposition
that she could be a fugitive. As she was also so white as not to
be known as of colored lineage, without a critical survey, and her
child was white also, it was much easier for her to pass on
On this presumption, she stopped at noon at a neat farmhouse,
to rest herself, and buy some dinner for her child and self; for,
as the danger decreased with the distance, the supernatural tension
of the nervous system lessened, and she found herself both weary
The good woman, kindly and gossipping, seemed rather pleased
than otherwise with having somebody come in to talk with; and
accepted, without examination, Eliza's statement, that she "was
going on a little piece, to spend a week with her friends,"--all
which she hoped in her heart might prove strictly true.
An hour before sunset, she entered the village of T----,
by the Ohio river, weary and foot-sore, but still strong in heart.
Her first glance was at the river, which lay, like Jordan, between
her and the Canaan of liberty on the other side.
It was now early spring, and the river was swollen and
turbulent; great cakes of floating ice were swinging heavily to
and fro in the turbid waters. Owing to the peculiar form of
the shore on the Kentucky side, the land bending far out into
the water, the ice had been lodged and detained in great
quantities, and the narrow channel which swept round the bend
was full of ice, piled one cake over another, thus forming a
temporary barrier to the descending ice, which lodged, and formed
a great, undulating raft, filling up the whole river, and extending
almost to the Kentucky shore.
Eliza stood, for a moment, contemplating this unfavorable
aspect of things, which she saw at once must prevent the usual
ferry-boat from running, and then turned into a small public
house on the bank, to make a few inquiries.
The hostess, who was busy in various fizzing and stewing
operations over the fire, preparatory to the evening meal, stopped,
with a fork in her hand, as Eliza's sweet and plaintive voice
"What is it?" she said.
"Isn't there any ferry or boat, that takes people over to
B----, now?" she said.
"No, indeed!" said the woman; "the boats has stopped running."
Eliza's look of dismay and disappointment struck the woman,
and she said, inquiringly,
"May be you're wanting to get over?--anybody sick? Ye seem
"I've got a child that's very dangerous," said Eliza. "I never
heard of it till last night, and I've walked quite a piece today,
in hopes to get to the ferry."
"Well, now, that's onlucky," said the woman, whose motherly
sympathies were much aroused; I'm re'lly consarned for ye.
Solomon!" she called, from the window, towards a small back building.
A man, in leather apron and very dirty hands, appeared at the door.
"I say, Sol," said the woman, "is that ar man going to tote
them bar'ls over tonight?"
"He said he should try, if 't was any way prudent," said
"There's a man a piece down here, that's going over with some
truck this evening, if he durs' to; he'll be in here to supper
tonight, so you'd better set down and wait. That's a sweet little
fellow," added the woman, offering him a cake.
But the child, wholly exhausted, cried with weariness.
"Poor fellow! he isn't used to walking, and I've hurried
him on so," said Eliza.
"Well, take him into this room," said the woman, opening
into a small bed-room, where stood a comfortable bed. Eliza laid
the weary boy upon it, and held his hands in hers till he was fast
asleep. For her there was no rest. As a fire in her bones, the
thought of the pursuer urged her on; and she gazed with longing
eyes on the sullen, surging waters that lay between her and liberty.
Here we must take our leave of her for the present, to
follow the course of her pursuers.
Though Mrs. Shelby had promised that the dinner should be hurried
on table, yet it was soon seen, as the thing has often been
seen before, that it required more than one to make a bargain.
So, although the order was fairly given out in Haley's hearing,
and carried to Aunt Chloe by at least half a dozen juvenile
messengers, that dignitary only gave certain very gruff snorts,
and tosses of her head, and went on with every operation in an
unusually leisurely and circumstantial manner.
For some singular reason, an impression seemed to reign among
the servants generally that Missis would not be particularly
disobliged by delay; and it was wonderful what a number of counter
accidents occurred constantly, to retard the course of things.
One luckless wight contrived to upset the gravy; and then gravy
had to be got up _de novo_, with due care and formality, Aunt Chloe
watching and stirring with dogged precision, answering shortly, to
all suggestions of haste, that she "warn't a going to have raw
gravy on the table, to help nobody's catchings." One tumbled
down with the water, and had to go to the spring for more; and
another precipitated the butter into the path of events; and
there was from time to time giggling news brought into the kitchen
that "Mas'r Haley was mighty oneasy, and that he couldn't sit in
his cheer no ways, but was a walkin' and stalkin' to the winders
and through the porch."
"Sarves him right!" said Aunt Chloe, indignantly. He'll get
wus nor oneasy, one of these days, if he don't mend his ways.
_His_ master'll be sending for him, and then see how he'll look!"
"He'll go to torment, and no mistake," said little Jake.
"He desarves it!" said Aunt Chloe, grimly; "he's broke a many,
many, many hearts,--I tell ye all!" she said, stopping, with
a fork uplifted in her hands; "it's like what Mas'r George reads
in Ravelations,--souls a callin' under the altar! and a callin' on
the Lord for vengeance on sich!--and by and by the Lord he'll hear
'em--so he will!"
Aunt Chloe, who was much revered in the kitchen, was listened
to with open mouth; and, the dinner being now fairly sent in, the
whole kitchen was at leisure to gossip with her, and to listen to
"Sich'll be burnt up forever, and no mistake; won't ther?"
"I'd be glad to see it, I'll be boun'," said little Jake.
"Chil'en!" said a voice, that made them all start. It was
Uncle Tom, who had come in, and stood listening to the conversation
at the door.
"Chil'en!" he said, "I'm afeard you don't know what ye're sayin'.
Forever is a _dre'ful_ word, chil'en; it's awful to think on 't.
You oughtenter wish that ar to any human crittur."
"We wouldn't to anybody but the soul-drivers," said Andy;
"nobody can help wishing it to them, they 's so awful wicked."
"Don't natur herself kinder cry out on 'em?" said Aunt Chloe.
"Don't dey tear der suckin' baby right off his mother's breast,
and sell him, and der little children as is crying and
holding on by her clothes,--don't dey pull 'em off and sells 'em?
Don't dey tear wife and husband apart?" said Aunt Chloe, beginning
to cry, "when it's jest takin' the very life on 'em?--and all the
while does they feel one bit, don't dey drink and smoke, and take
it oncommon easy? Lor, if the devil don't get them, what's he
good for?" And Aunt Chloe covered her face with her checked apron,
and began to sob in good earnest.
"Pray for them that 'spitefully use you, the good book
says," says Tom.
"Pray for 'em!" said Aunt Chloe; "Lor, it's too tough!
I can't pray for 'em."
"It's natur, Chloe, and natur 's strong," said Tom, "but the
Lord's grace is stronger; besides, you oughter think what an awful
state a poor crittur's soul 's in that'll do them ar things,--you
oughter thank God that you an't _like_ him, Chloe. I'm sure I'd
rather be sold, ten thousand times over, than to have all that ar
poor crittur's got to answer for."
"So 'd I, a heap," said Jake. "Lor, _shouldn't_ we cotch
Andy shrugged his shoulders, and gave an acquiescent whistle.
"I'm glad Mas'r didn't go off this morning, as he looked to,"
said Tom; "that ar hurt me more than sellin', it did. Mebbe it
might have been natural for him, but 't would have come desp't
hard on me, as has known him from a baby; but I've seen Mas'r,
and I begin ter feel sort o' reconciled to the Lord's will now.
Mas'r couldn't help hisself; he did right, but I'm feared things
will be kinder goin' to rack, when I'm gone Mas'r can't be spected
to be a pryin' round everywhar, as I've done, a keepin' up all
the ends. The boys all means well, but they 's powerful car'less.
That ar troubles me."
The bell here rang, and Tom was summoned to the parlor.
"Tom," said his master, kindly, "I want you to notice that
I give this gentleman bonds to forfeit a thousand dollars if you
are not on the spot when he wants you; he's going today to look
after his other business, and you can have the day to yourself.
Go anywhere you like, boy."
"Thank you, Mas'r," said Tom.
"And mind yourself," said the trader, "and don't come it over
your master with any o' yer nigger tricks; for I'll take every
cent out of him, if you an't thar. If he'd hear to me, he wouldn't
trust any on ye--slippery as eels!"
"Mas'r," said Tom,--and he stood very straight,--"I was jist
eight years old when ole Missis put you into my arms, and you
wasn't a year old. `Thar,' says she, `Tom, that's to be _your_
young Mas'r; take good care on him,' says she. And now I jist ask
you, Mas'r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you,
'specially since I was a Christian?"
Mr. Shelby was fairly overcome, and the tears rose to his eyes.
"My good boy," said he, "the Lord knows you say but the truth;
and if I was able to help it, all the world shouldn't buy you."
"And sure as I am a Christian woman," said Mrs. Shelby,
"you shall be redeemed as soon as I can any bring together means.
Sir," she said to Haley, "take good account of who you sell him
to, and let me know."
"Lor, yes, for that matter," said the trader, "I may bring
him up in a year, not much the wuss for wear, and trade him back."
"I'll trade with you then, and make it for your advantage,"
said Mrs. Shelby.
"Of course," said the trader, "all 's equal with me; li'ves
trade 'em up as down, so I does a good business. All I want is a
livin', you know, ma'am; that's all any on us wants, I, s'pose."
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt annoyed and degraded by the
familiar impudence of the trader, and yet both saw the absolute
necessity of putting a constraint on their feelings. The more
hopelessly sordid and insensible he appeared, the greater became
Mrs. Shelby's dread of his succeeding in recapturing Eliza and
her child, and of course the greater her motive for detaining him
by every female artifice. She therefore graciously smiled, assented,
chatted familiarly, and did all she could to make time pass
At two o'clock Sam and Andy brought the horses up to the posts,
apparently greatly refreshed and invigorated by the scamper
of the morning.
Sam was there new oiled from dinner, with an abundance of
zealous and ready officiousness. As Haley approached, he was
boasting, in flourishing style, to Andy, of the evident and eminent
success of the operation, now that he had "farly come to it."
"Your master, I s'pose, don't keep no dogs," said Haley,
thoughtfully, as he prepared to mount.
"Heaps on 'em," said Sam, triumphantly; "thar's Bruno--he's
a roarer! and, besides that, 'bout every nigger of us keeps a pup
of some natur or uther."
"Poh!" said Haley,--and he said something else, too, with
regard to the said dogs, at which Sam muttered,
"I don't see no use cussin' on 'em, no way."
"But your master don't keep no dogs (I pretty much know he
don't) for trackin' out niggers."
Sam knew exactly what he meant, but he kept on a look of
earnest and desperate simplicity.
"Our dogs all smells round considable sharp. I spect they's
the kind, though they han't never had no practice. They 's _far_
dogs, though, at most anything, if you'd get 'em started.
Here, Bruno," he called, whistling to the lumbering Newfoundland,
who came pitching tumultuously toward them.
"You go hang!" said Haley, getting up. "Come, tumble up now."
Sam tumbled up accordingly, dexterously contriving to tickle
Andy as he did so, which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh,
greatly to Haley's indignation, who made a cut at him with his
"I 's 'stonished at yer, Andy," said Sam, with awful gravity.
"This yer's a seris bisness, Andy. Yer mustn't be a makin' game.
This yer an't no way to help Mas'r."
"I shall take the straight road to the river," said Haley,
decidedly, after they had come to the boundaries of the estate.
"I know the way of all of 'em,--they makes tracks for the underground."
"Sartin," said Sam, "dat's de idee. Mas'r Haley hits de thing
right in de middle. Now, der's two roads to de river,--de
dirt road and der pike,--which Mas'r mean to take?"
Andy looked up innocently at Sam, surprised at hearing this
new geographical fact, but instantly confirmed what he said, by a
"Cause," said Sam, "I'd rather be 'clined to 'magine that
Lizy 'd take de dirt road, bein' it's the least travelled."
Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and
naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought
up by this view of the case.
"If yer warn't both on yer such cussed liars, now!" he
said, contemplatively as he pondered a moment.
The pensive, reflective tone in which this was spoken
appeared to amuse Andy prodigiously, and he drew a little behind,
and shook so as apparently to run a great risk of failing off his
horse, while Sam's face was immovably composed into the most
"Course," said Sam, "Mas'r can do as he'd ruther, go de straight
road, if Mas'r thinks best,--it's all one to us. Now, when I
study 'pon it, I think de straight road de best, _deridedly_."
"She would naturally go a lonesome way," said Haley, thinking
aloud, and not minding Sam's remark.
"Dar an't no sayin'," said Sam; "gals is pecular; they never
does nothin' ye thinks they will; mose gen'lly the contrary.
Gals is nat'lly made contrary; and so, if you thinks they've gone
one road, it is sartin you'd better go t' other, and then you'll
be sure to find 'em. Now, my private 'pinion is, Lizy took der
road; so I think we'd better take de straight one."
This profound generic view of the female sex did not seem to
dispose Haley particularly to the straight road, and he announced
decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam when they
should come to it.
"A little piece ahead," said Sam, giving a wink to Andy with
the eye which was on Andy's side of the head; and he added,
gravely, "but I've studded on de matter, and I'm quite clar we
ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no way.
It's despit lonesome, and we might lose our way,--whar we'd come
to, de Lord only knows."
"Nevertheless," said Haley, "I shall go that way."
"Now I think on 't, I think I hearn 'em tell that dat ar road
was all fenced up and down by der creek, and thar, an't it, Andy?"
Andy wasn't certain; he'd only "hearn tell" about that road,
but never been over it. In short, he was strictly noncommittal.
Haley, accustomed to strike the balance of probabilities
between lies of greater or lesser magnitude, thought that it lay
in favor of the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he
thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam's part at first, and
his confused attempts to dissuade him he set down to a desperate
lying on second thoughts, as being unwilling to implicate Liza.
When, therefore, Sam indicated the road, Haley plunged
briskly into it, followed by Sam and Andy.
Now, the road, in fact, was an old one, that had formerly
been a thoroughfare to the river, but abandoned for many years
after the laying of the new pike. It was open for about an hour's
ride, and after that it was cut across by various farms and fences.
Sam knew this fact perfectly well,--indeed, the road had been so
long closed up, that Andy had never heard of it. He therefore rode
along with an air of dutiful submission, only groaning and vociferating
occasionally that 't was "desp't rough, and bad for Jerry's foot."
"Now, I jest give yer warning," said Haley, "I know yer; yer
won't get me to turn off this road, with all yer fussin'--so
you shet up!"
"Mas'r will go his own way!" said Sam, with rueful submission,
at the same time winking most Portentously to Andy, whose delight
was now very near the explosive point.
Sam was in wonderful spirits,--professed to keep a very brisk
lookout,--at one time exclaiming that he saw "a gal's bonnet"
on the top of some distant eminence, or calling to Andy "if that
thar wasn't `Lizy' down in the hollow;" always making these
exclamations in some rough or craggy part of the road, where the
sudden quickening of speed was a special inconvenience to all
parties concerned, and thus keeping Haley in a state of constant
After riding about an hour in this way, the whole party made
a precipitate and tumultuous descent into a barn-yard belonging
to a large farming establishment. Not a soul was in sight, all
the hands being employed in the fields; but, as the barn stood
conspicuously and plainly square across the road, it was evident
that their journey in that direction had reached a decided finale.
"Wan't dat ar what I telled Mas'r?" said Sam, with an air of
injured innocence. "How does strange gentleman spect to know
more about a country dan de natives born and raised?"
"You rascal!" said Haley, "you knew all about this."
"Didn't I tell yer I _knowd_, and yer wouldn't believe me?
I telled Mas'r 't was all shet up, and fenced up, and I didn't
spect we could get through,--Andy heard me."
It was all too true to be disputed, and the unlucky man had to
pocket his wrath with the best grace he was able, and all
three faced to the right about, and took up their line of march
for the highway.
In consequence of all the various delays, it was about
three-quarters of an hour after Eliza had laid her child to
sleep in the village tavern that the party came riding into the
same place. Eliza was standing by the window, looking out in
another direction, when Sam's quick eye caught a glimpse of her.
Haley and Andy were two yards behind. At this crisis, Sam contrived
to have his hat blown off, and uttered a loud and characteristic
ejaculation, which startled her at once; she drew suddenly back;
the whole train swept by the window, round to the front door.
A thousand lives seemed to be concentrated in that one moment
to Eliza. Her room opened by a side door to the river. She caught
her child, and sprang down the steps towards it. The trader
caught a full glimpse of her just as she was disappearing
down the bank; and throwing himself from his horse, and calling
loudly on Sam and Andy, he was after her like a hound after a deer.
In that dizzy moment her feet to her scarce seemed to touch the
ground, and a moment brought her to the water's edge. Right on
behind they came; and, nerved with strength such as God gives only
to the desperate, with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted
sheer over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft of
ice beyond. It was a desperate leap--impossible to anything but
madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, and Andy, instinctively cried
out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it.
The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched
and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not
a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to
another and still another cake; stumbling--leaping--slipping--
springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone--her stockings cut
from her feet--while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing,
felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side,
and a man helping her up the bank.
"Yer a brave gal, now, whoever ye ar!" said the man, with
Eliza recognized the voice and face for a man who owned a
farm not far from her old home.
"O, Mr. Symmes!--save me--do save me--do hide me!" said Elia.
"Why, what's this?" said the man. "Why, if 'tan't Shelby's gal!"
"My child!--this boy!--he'd sold him! There is his Mas'r,"
said she, pointing to the Kentucky shore. "O, Mr. Symmes, you've
got a little boy!"
"So I have," said the man, as he roughly, but kindly, drew
her up the steep bank. "Besides, you're a right brave gal. I like
grit, wherever I see it."
When they had gained the top of the bank, the man paused.
"I'd be glad to do something for ye," said he; "but then
there's nowhar I could take ye. The best I can do is to tell ye
to go _thar_," said he, pointing to a large white house which stood
by itself, off the main street of the village. "Go thar; they're
kind folks. Thar's no kind o' danger but they'll help you,--they're
up to all that sort o' thing."
"The Lord bless you!" said Eliza, earnestly.
"No 'casion, no 'casion in the world," said the man. "What I've
done's of no 'count."
"And, oh, surely, sir, you won't tell any one!"
"Go to thunder, gal! What do you take a feller for? In course
not," said the man. "Come, now, go along like a likely,
sensible gal, as you are. You've arnt your liberty, and you
shall have it, for all me."
The woman folded her child to her bosom, and walked firmly
and swiftly away. The man stood and looked after her.
"Shelby, now, mebbe won't think this yer the most neighborly
thing in the world; but what's a feller to do? If he catches one
of my gals in the same fix, he's welcome to pay back. Somehow I
never could see no kind o' critter a strivin' and pantin', and
trying to clar theirselves, with the dogs arter 'em and go agin 'em.
Besides, I don't see no kind of 'casion for me to be hunter and
catcher for other folks, neither."
So spoke this poor, heathenish Kentuckian, who had not been
instructed in his constitutional relations, and consequently was
betrayed into acting in a sort of Christianized manner, which, if
he had been better situated and more enlightened, he would not have
been left to do.
Haley had stood a perfectly amazed spectator of the scene,
till Eliza had disappeared up the bank, when he turned a blank,
inquiring look on Sam and Andy.
"That ar was a tolable fair stroke of business," said Sam.
"The gal 's got seven devils in her, I believe!" said Haley.
"How like a wildcat she jumped!"
"Wal, now," said Sam, scratching his head, "I hope Mas'r'll
'scuse us trying dat ar road. Don't think I feel spry enough for
dat ar, no way!" and Sam gave a hoarse chuckle.
"_You_ laugh!" said the trader, with a growl.
"Lord bless you, Mas'r, I couldn't help it now," said Sam,
giving way to the long pent-up delight of his soul. "She looked
so curi's, a leapin' and springin'--ice a crackin'--and only to
hear her,--plump! ker chunk! ker splash! Spring! Lord! how she
goes it!" and Sam and Andy laughed till the tears rolled down
"I'll make ye laugh t' other side yer mouths!" said the
trader, laying about their heads with his riding-whip.
Both ducked, and ran shouting up the bank, and were on
their horses before he was up.
"Good-evening, Mas'r!" said Sam, with much gravity. "I berry
much spect Missis be anxious 'bout Jerry. Mas'r Haley won't
want us no longer. Missis wouldn't hear of our ridin' the critters
over Lizy's bridge tonight;" and, with a facetious poke into Andy's
ribs, he started off, followed by the latter, at full speed,--their
shouts of laughter coming faintly on the wind.
Eliza made her desperate retreat across the river just in
the dusk of twilight. The gray mist of evening, rising slowly from
the river, enveloped her as she disappeared up the bank, and the
swollen current and floundering masses of ice presented a hopeless
barrier between her and her pursuer. Haley therefore slowly and
discontentedly returned to the little tavern, to ponder further
what was to be done. The woman opened to him the door of a little
parlor, covered with a rag carpet, where stood a table with a very
shining black oil-cloth, sundry lank, high-backed wood chairs, with
some plaster images in resplendent colors on the mantel-shelf,
above a very dimly-smoking grate; a long hard-wood settle extended
its uneasy length by the chimney, and here Haley sat him down to
meditate on the instability of human hopes and happiness in general.
"What did I want with the little cuss, now," he said to
himself, "that I should have got myself treed like a coon, as I
am, this yer way?" and Haley relieved himself by repeating over a
not very select litany of imprecations on himself, which, though
there was the best possible reason to consider them as true, we
shall, as a matter of taste, omit.
He was startled by the loud and dissonant voice of a man who was
apparently dismounting at the door. He hurried to the window.
"By the land! if this yer an't the nearest, now, to what
I've heard folks call Providence," said Haley. "I do b'lieve
that ar's Tom Loker."
Haley hastened out. Standing by the bar, in the corner of the
room, was a brawny, muscular man, full six feet in height, and
broad in proportion. He was dressed in a coat of buffalo-skin,
made with the hair outward, which gave him a shaggy and fierce
appearance, perfectly in keeping with the whole air of his physiognomy.
In the head and face every organ and lineament expressive of brutal
and unhesitating violence was in a state of the highest possible
development. Indeed, could our readers fancy a bull-dog come unto
man's estate, and walking about in a hat and coat, they would have
no unapt idea of the general style and effect of his physique.
He was accompanied by a travelling companion, in many respects an
exact contrast to himself. He was short and slender, lithe and
catlike in his motions, and had a peering, mousing expression about
his keen black eyes, with which every feature of his face seemed
sharpened into sympathy; his thin, long nose, ran out as if it was
eager to bore into the nature of things in general; his sleek,
thin, black hair was stuck eagerly forward, and all his motions
and evolutions expressed a dry, cautious acuteness. The great man
poured out a big tumbler half full of raw spirits, and gulped it
down without a word. The little man stood tiptoe, and putting his
head first to one side and then the other, and snuffing considerately
in the directions of the various bottles, ordered at last a mint
julep, in a thin and quivering voice, and with an air of great
circumspection. When poured out, he took it and looked at it with
a sharp, complacent air, like,a man who thinks he has done about
the right thing, and hit the nail on the head, and proceeded to
dispose of it in short and well-advised sips.
"Wal, now, who'd a thought this yer luck 'ad come to me?
Why, Loker, how are ye?" said Haley, coming forward, and
extending his hand to the big man.
"The devil!" was the civil reply. "What brought you here, Haley?"
The mousing man, who bore the name of Marks, instantly stopped
his sipping, and, poking his head forward, looked shrewdly
on the new acquaintance, as a cat sometimes looks at a moving dry
leaf, or some other possible object of pursuit.
"I say, Tom, this yer's the luckiest thing in the world.
I'm in a devil of a hobble, and you must help me out."
"Ugh? aw! like enough!" grunted his complacent acquaintance.
"A body may be pretty sure of that, when _you're_ glad to see 'em;
something to be made off of 'em. What's the blow now?"
"You've got a friend here?" said Haley, looking doubtfully
at Marks; "partner, perhaps?"
"Yes, I have. Here, Marks! here's that ar feller that I
was in with in Natchez."
"Shall be pleased with his acquaintance," said Marks,
thrusting out a long, thin hand, like a raven's claw. "Mr. Haley,
"The same, sir," said Haley. "And now, gentlemen, seein'
as we've met so happily, I think I'll stand up to a small matter
of a treat in this here parlor. So, now, old coon," said he to
the man at the bar, "get us hot water, and sugar, and cigars, and
plenty of the _real stuff_ and we'll have a blow-out."
Behold, then, the candles lighted, the fire stimulated to the
burning point in the grate, and our three worthies seated round
a table, well spread with all the accessories to good fellowship
Haley began a pathetic recital of his peculiar troubles.
Loker shut up his mouth, and listened to him with gruff and
surly attention. Marks, who was anxiously and with much
fidgeting compounding a tumbler of punch to his own peculiar
taste, occasionally looked up from his employment, and, poking
his sharp nose and chin almost into Haley's face, gave the most
earnest heed to the whole narrative. The conclusion of it
appeared to amuse him extremely, for he shook his shoulders
and sides in silence, and perked up his thin lips with an air
of great internal enjoyment.
"So, then, ye'r fairly sewed up, an't ye?" he said; "he!
he! he! It's neatly done, too."
"This yer young-un business makes lots of trouble in the
trade," said Haley, dolefully.
"If we could get a breed of gals that didn't care, now,
for their young uns," said Marks; "tell ye, I think 't would be
'bout the greatest mod'rn improvement I knows on,"--and Marks
patronized his joke by a quiet introductory sniggle.
"Jes so," said Haley; "I never couldn't see into it; young
uns is heaps of trouble to 'em; one would think, now, they'd be
glad to get clar on 'em; but they arn't. And the more trouble a
young un is, and the more good for nothing, as a gen'l thing, the
tighter they sticks to 'em."
"Wal, Mr. Haley," said Marks, "'est pass the hot water.
Yes, sir, you say 'est what I feel and all'us have. Now, I bought
a gal once, when I was in the trade,--a tight, likely wench she
was, too, and quite considerable smart,--and she had a young un
that was mis'able sickly; it had a crooked back, or something or
other; and I jest gin 't away to a man that thought he'd take his
chance raising on 't, being it didn't cost nothin';--never thought,
yer know, of the gal's taking' on about it,--but, Lord, yer oughter
seen how she went on. Why, re'lly, she did seem to me to valley
the child more 'cause _'t was_ sickly and cross, and plagued her;
and she warn't making b'lieve, neither,--cried about it, she did,
and lopped round, as if she'd lost every friend she had. It re'lly
was droll to think on 't. Lord, there ain't no end to women's notions."
"Wal, jest so with me," said Haley. "Last summer, down on
Red river, I got a gal traded off on me, with a likely lookin'
child enough, and his eyes looked as bright as yourn; but, come to
look, I found him stone blind. Fact--he was stone blind. Wal, ye
see, I thought there warn't no harm in my jest passing him along,
and not sayin' nothin'; and I'd got him nicely swapped off for a
keg o' whiskey; but come to get him away from the gal, she was jest
like a tiger. So 't was before we started, and I hadn't got my
gang chained up; so what should she do but ups on a cotton-bale,
like a cat, ketches a knife from one of the deck hands, and, I tell
ye, she made all fly for a minit, till she saw 't wan't no use;
and she jest turns round, and pitches head first, young un and all,
into the river,--went down plump, and never ris."
"Bah!" said Tom Loker, who had listened to these stories with
ill-repressed disgust,--"shif'less, both on ye! _my_ gals
don't cut up no such shines, I tell ye!"
"Indeed! how do you help it?" said Marks, briskly.
"Help it? why, I buys a gal, and if she's got a young un
to be sold, I jest walks up and puts my fist to her face, and says,
`Look here, now, if you give me one word out of your head, I'll
smash yer face in. I won't hear one word--not the beginning of
a word.' I says to 'em, `This yer young un's mine, and not yourn,
and you've no kind o' business with it. I'm going to sell it,
first chance; mind, you don't cut up none o' yer shines about it,
or I'll make ye wish ye'd never been born.' I tell ye, they sees
it an't no play, when I gets hold. I makes 'em as whist as fishes;
and if one on 'em begins and gives a yelp, why,--" and Mr. Loker
brought down his fist with a thump that fully explained the hiatus.
"That ar's what ye may call _emphasis_," said Marks, poking
Haley in the side, and going into another small giggle. "An't Tom
peculiar? he! he! I say, Tom, I s'pect you make 'em _understand_,
for all niggers' heads is woolly. They don't never have no doubt
o' your meaning, Tom. If you an't the devil, Tom, you 's his
twin brother, I'll say that for ye!"
Tom received the compliment with becoming modesty, and began
to look as affable as was consistent, as John Bunyan says,
"with his doggish nature."
Haley, who had been imbibing very freely of the staple of
the evening, began to feel a sensible elevation and enlargement of
his moral faculties,--a phenomenon not unusual with gentlemen of
a serious and reflective turn, under similar circumstances.
"Wal, now, Tom," he said, "ye re'lly is too bad, as I al'ays
have told ye; ye know, Tom, you and I used to talk over these yer
matters down in Natchez, and I used to prove to ye that we made
full as much, and was as well off for this yer world, by treatin'
on 'em well, besides keepin' a better chance for comin' in the
kingdom at last, when wust comes to wust, and thar an't nothing
else left to get, ye know."
"Boh!" said Tom, "_don't_ I know?--don't make me too sick
with any yer stuff,--my stomach is a leetle riled now;" and Tom
drank half a glass of raw brandy.
"I say," said Haley, and leaning back in his chair and
gesturing impressively, "I'll say this now, I al'ays meant to drive
my trade so as to make money on 't _fust and foremost_, as much as
any man; but, then, trade an't everything, and money an't everything,
'cause we 's all got souls. I don't care, now, who hears me say
it,--and I think a cussed sight on it,--so I may as well come out
with it. I b'lieve in religion, and one of these days, when I've
got matters tight and snug, I calculates to tend to my soul and
them ar matters; and so what's the use of doin' any more wickedness
than 's re'lly necessary?--it don't seem to me it's 't all prudent."
"Tend to yer soul!" repeated Tom, contemptuously; "take a
bright lookout to find a soul in you,--save yourself any care on
that score. If the devil sifts you through a hair sieve, he won't
"Why, Tom, you're cross," said Haley; "why can't ye take
it pleasant, now, when a feller's talking for your good?"
"Stop that ar jaw o' yourn, there," said Tom, gruffly. "I can
stand most any talk o' yourn but your pious talk,--that kills me
right up. After all, what's the odds between me and you? 'Tan't that
you care one bit more, or have a bit more feelin'--it's clean,
sheer, dog meanness, wanting to cheat the devil and save your own
skin; don't I see through it? And your `gettin' religion,' as you
call it, arter all, is too p'isin mean for any crittur;--run up a
bill with the devil all your life, and then sneak out when pay time
"Come, come, gentlemen, I say; this isn't business," said Marks.
"There's different ways, you know, of looking at all subjects.
Mr. Haley is a very nice man, no doubt, and has his own
conscience; and, Tom, you have your ways, and very good ones, too,
Tom; but quarrelling, you know, won't answer no kind of purpose.
Let's go to business. Now, Mr. Haley, what is it?--you want us to
undertake to catch this yer gal?"
"The gal's no matter of mine,--she's Shelby's; it's only
the boy. I was a fool for buying the monkey!"
"You're generally a fool!" said Tom, gruffly.
"Come, now, Loker, none of your huffs," said Marks, licking
his lips; "you see, Mr. Haley 's a puttin' us in a way of a good
job, I reckon; just hold still--these yer arrangements is my forte.
This yer gal, Mr. Haley, how is she? what is she?"
"Wal! white and handsome--well brought up. I'd a gin Shelby
eight hundred or a thousand, and then made well on her."
"White and handsome--well brought up!" said Marks, his sharp
eyes, nose and mouth, all alive with enterprise. "Look here,
now, Loker, a beautiful opening. We'll do a business here on our
own account;--we does the catchin'; the boy, of course, goes to
Mr. Haley,--we takes the gal to Orleans to speculate on. An't it
Tom, whose great heavy mouth had stood ajar during this
communication, now suddenly snapped it together, as a big dog closes
on a piece of meat, and seemed to be digesting the idea at his leisure.
"Ye see," said Marks to Haley, stirring his punch as he
did so, "ye see, we has justices convenient at all p'ints along
shore, that does up any little jobs in our line quite reasonable.
Tom, he does the knockin' down and that ar; and I come in all
dressed up--shining boots--everything first chop, when the swearin'
's to be done. You oughter see, now," said Marks, in a glow of
professional pride, "how I can tone it off. One day, I'm Mr.
Twickem, from New Orleans; 'nother day, I'm just come from my
plantation on Pearl river, where I works seven hundred niggers;
then, again, I come out a distant relation of Henry Clay, or some
old cock in Kentuck. Talents is different, you know. Now, Tom's
roarer when there's any thumping or fighting to be done; but at
lying he an't good, Tom an't,--ye see it don't come natural to him;
but, Lord, if thar's a feller in the country that can swear to
anything and everything, and put in all the circumstances and
flourishes with a long face, and carry 't through better 'n I can,
why, I'd like to see him, that's all! I b'lieve my heart, I could
get along and snake through, even if justices were more particular
than they is. Sometimes I rather wish they was more particular;
't would be a heap more relishin' if they was,--more fun, yer know."
Tom Loker, who, as we have made it appear, was a man of
slow thoughts and movements, here interrupted Marks by bringing
his heavy fist down on the table, so as to make all ring again,
_"It'll do!"_ he said.
"Lord bless ye, Tom, ye needn't break all the glasses!"
said Marks; "save your fist for time o' need."
"But, gentlemen, an't I to come in for a share of the
profits?" said Haley.
"An't it enough we catch the boy for ye?" said Loker.
"What do ye want?"
"Wal," said Haley, "if I gives you the job, it's worth
something,--say ten per cent. on the profits, expenses paid."
"Now," said Loker, with a tremendous oath, and striking the
table with his heavy fist, "don't I know _you_, Dan Haley?
Don't you think to come it over me! Suppose Marks and I have taken
up the catchin' trade, jest to 'commodate gentlemen like you, and
get nothin' for ourselves?--Not by a long chalk! we'll have the
gal out and out, and you keep quiet, or, ye see, we'll have
both,--what's to hinder? Han't you show'd us the game? It's as
free to us as you, I hope. If you or Shelby wants to chase us,
look where the partridges was last year; if you find them or us,
you're quite welcome."
"O, wal, certainly, jest let it go at that," said Haley,
alarmed; "you catch the boy for the job;--you allers did trade
_far_ with me, Tom, and was up to yer word."
"Ye know that," said Tom; "I don't pretend none of your
snivelling ways, but I won't lie in my 'counts with the
devil himself. What I ses I'll do, I will do,--you know
_that_, Dan Haley."
"Jes so, jes so,--I said so, Tom," said Haley; "and if you'd
only promise to have the boy for me in a week, at any point
you'll name, that's all I want."
"But it an't all I want, by a long jump," said Tom. "Ye don't
think I did business with you, down in Natchez, for nothing,
Haley; I've learned to hold an eel, when I catch him. You've got
to fork over fifty dollars, flat down, or this child don't start
a peg. I know yer."
"Why, when you have a job in hand that may bring a clean
profit of somewhere about a thousand or sixteen hundred, why, Tom,
you're onreasonable," said Haley.
"Yes, and hasn't we business booked for five weeks to
come,--all we can do? And suppose we leaves all, and goes to
bush-whacking round arter yer young uns, and finally doesn't
catch the gal,--and gals allers is the devil _to_ catch,--what's
then? would you pay us a cent--would you? I think I see you a
doin' it--ugh! No, no; flap down your fifty. If we get the job,
and it pays, I'll hand it back; if we don't, it's for our
trouble,--that's _far_, an't it, Marks?"
"Certainly, certainly," said Marks, with a conciliatory tone;
"it's only a retaining fee, you see,--he! he! he!--we lawyers,
you know. Wal, we must all keep good-natured,--keep easy, yer know.
Tom'll have the boy for yer, anywhere ye'll name; won't ye, Tom?"
"If I find the young un, I'll bring him on to Cincinnati,
and leave him at Granny Belcher's, on the landing," said Loker.
Marks had got from his pocket a greasy pocket-book, and taking
a long paper from thence, he sat down, and fixing his keen black
eyes on it, began mumbling over its contents: "Barnes--Shelby
County--boy Jim, three hundred dollars for him, dead or alive.
"Edwards--Dick and Lucy--man and wife, six hundred dollars;
wench Polly and two children--six hundred for her or her head.
"I'm jest a runnin' over our business, to see if we can take up
this yer handily. Loker," he said, after a pause, "we must
set Adams and Springer on the track of these yer; they've been
booked some time."
"They'll charge too much," said Tom.
"I'll manage that ar; they 's young in the business, and must
spect to work cheap," said Marks, as he continued to read.
"Ther's three on 'em easy cases, 'cause all you've got to do is to
shoot 'em, or swear they is shot; they couldn't, of course, charge
much for that. Them other cases," he said, folding the paper,
"will bear puttin' off a spell. So now let's come to the particulars.
Now, Mr. Haley, you saw this yer gal when she landed?"
"To be sure,--plain as I see you."
"And a man helpin' on her up the bank?" said Loker.
"To be sure, I did."
"Most likely," said Marks, "she's took in somewhere; but
where, 's a question. Tom, what do you say?"
"We must cross the river tonight, no mistake," said Tom.
"But there's no boat about," said Marks. "The ice is
running awfully, Tom; an't it dangerous?"
"Don'no nothing 'bout that,--only it's got to be done,"
said Tom, decidedly.
"Dear me," said Marks, fidgeting, "it'll be--I say," he said,
walking to the window, "it's dark as a wolf's mouth, and, Tom--"
"The long and short is, you're scared, Marks; but I can't help
that,--you've got to go. Suppose you want to lie by a day or
two, till the gal 's been carried on the underground line up to
Sandusky or so, before you start."
"O, no; I an't a grain afraid," said Marks, "only--"
"Only what?" said Tom.
"Well, about the boat. Yer see there an't any boat."
"I heard the woman say there was one coming along this
evening, and that a man was going to cross over in it. Neck or
nothing, we must go with him," said Tom.
"I s'pose you've got good dogs," said Haley.
"First rate," said Marks. "But what's the use? you han't
got nothin' o' hers to smell on."
"Yes, I have," said Haley, triumphantly. "Here's her shawl
she left on the bed in her hurry; she left her bonnet, too."
"That ar's lucky," said Loker; "fork over."
"Though the dogs might damage the gal, if they come on her
unawars," said Haley.
"That ar's a consideration," said Marks. "Our dogs tore
a feller half to pieces, once, down in Mobile, 'fore we could get
"Well, ye see, for this sort that's to be sold for their
looks, that ar won't answer, ye see," said Haley.
"I do see," said Marks. "Besides, if she's got took in,
'tan't no go, neither. Dogs is no 'count in these yer up states
where these critters gets carried; of course, ye can't get on
their track. They only does down in plantations, where niggers,
when they runs, has to do their own running, and don't get no help."
"Well," said Loker, who had just stepped out to the bar to make
some inquiries, "they say the man's come with the boat; so, Marks--"
That worthy cast a rueful look at the comfortable quarters
he was leaving, but slowly rose to obey. After exchanging a few
words of further arrangement, Haley, with visible reluctance, handed
over the fifty dollars to Tom, and the worthy trio separated for
If any of our refined and Christian readers object to the
society into which this scene introduces them, let us beg them to
begin and conquer their prejudices in time. The catching business,
we beg to remind them, is rising to the dignity of a lawful and
patriotic profession. If all the broad land between the Mississippi
and the Pacific becomes one great market for bodies and souls, and
human property retains the locomotive tendencies of this nineteenth
century, the trader and catcher may yet be among our aristocracy.
While this scene was going on at the tavern, Sam and Andy,
in a state of high felicitation, pursued their way home.
Sam was in the highest possible feather, and expressed his
exultation by all sorts of supernatural howls and ejaculations, by
divers odd motions and contortions of his whole system. Sometimes
he would sit backward, with his face to the horse's tail and sides,
and then, with a whoop and a somerset, come right side up in his
place again, and, drawing on a grave face, begin to lecture
Andy in high-sounding tones for laughing and playing the fool.
Anon, slapping his sides with his arms, he would burst forth in
peals of laughter, that made the old woods ring as they passed.
With all these evolutions, he contrived to keep the horses up to
the top of their speed, until, between ten and eleven, their heels
resounded on the gravel at the end of the balcony. Mrs. Shelby
flew to the railings.
"Is that you, Sam? Where are they?"
"Mas'r Haley 's a-restin' at the tavern; he's drefful
"And Eliza, Sam?"
"Wal, she's clar 'cross Jordan. As a body may say, in the
land o' Canaan."
"Why, Sam, what _do_ you mean?" said Mrs. Shelby, breathless,
and almost faint, as the possible meaning of these words came
"Wal, Missis, de Lord he persarves his own. Lizy's done gone
over the river into 'Hio, as 'markably as if de Lord took her
over in a charrit of fire and two hosses."
Sam's vein of piety was always uncommonly fervent in his
mistress' presence; and he made great capital of scriptural figures
"Come up here, Sam," said Mr. Shelby, who had followed on to the
verandah, "and tell your mistress what she wants. Come, come,
Emily," said he, passing his arm round her, "you are cold
and all in a shiver; you allow yourself to feel too much."
"Feel too much! Am not I a woman,--a mother? Are we not
both responsible to God for this poor girl? My God! lay not this
sin to our charge."
"What sin, Emily? You see yourself that we have only done
what we were obliged to."
"There's an awful feeling of guilt about it, though," said
Mrs. Shelby. "I can't reason it away."
"Here, Andy, you nigger, be alive!" called Sam, under the
verandah; "take these yer hosses to der barn; don't ye hear
Mas'r a callin'?" and Sam soon appeared, palm-leaf in hand,
at the parlor door.
"Now, Sam, tell us distinctly how the matter was," said
Mr. Shelby. "Where is Eliza, if you know?"
"Wal, Mas'r, I saw her, with my own eyes, a crossin' on
the floatin' ice. She crossed most 'markably; it wasn't no less
nor a miracle; and I saw a man help her up the 'Hio side, and then
she was lost in the dusk."
"Sam, I think this rather apocryphal,--this miracle.
Crossing on floating ice isn't so easily done," said Mr. Shelby.
"Easy! couldn't nobody a done it, without de Lord. Why, now,"
said Sam, "'t was jist dis yer way. Mas'r Haley, and me,
and Andy, we comes up to de little tavern by the river, and I rides
a leetle ahead,--(I's so zealous to be a cotchin' Lizy, that I
couldn't hold in, no way),--and when I comes by the tavern winder,
sure enough there she was, right in plain sight, and dey diggin'
on behind. Wal, I loses off my hat, and sings out nuff to raise
the dead. Course Lizy she hars, and she dodges back, when Mas'r
Haley he goes past the door; and then, I tell ye, she clared out
de side door; she went down de river bank;--Mas'r Haley he seed
her, and yelled out, and him, and me, and Andy, we took arter.
Down she come to the river, and thar was the current running ten
feet wide by the shore, and over t' other side ice a sawin' and a
jiggling up and down, kinder as 't were a great island. We come
right behind her, and I thought my soul he'd got her sure enough,--when
she gin sich a screech as I never hearn, and thar she was, clar
over t' other side of the current, on the ice, and then on she
went, a screeching and a jumpin',--the ice went crack! c'wallop!
cracking! chunk! and she a boundin' like a buck! Lord, the spring
that ar gal's got in her an't common, I'm o' 'pinion."
Mrs. Shelby sat perfectly silent, pale with excitement,
while Sam told his story.
"God be praised, she isn't dead!" she said; "but where is
the poor child now?"
"De Lord will pervide," said Sam, rolling up his eyes piously.
"As I've been a sayin', dis yer 's a providence and no mistake,
as Missis has allers been a instructin' on us. Thar's allers
instruments ris up to do de Lord's will. Now, if 't hadn't
been for me today, she'd a been took a dozen times. Warn't it I
started off de hosses, dis yer morning' and kept 'em chasin' till
nigh dinner time? And didn't I car Mas'r Haley night five miles
out of de road, dis evening, or else he'd a come up with Lizy as
easy as a dog arter a coon. These yer 's all providences."
"They are a kind of providences that you'll have to be
pretty sparing of, Master Sam. I allow no such practices with
gentlemen on my place," said Mr. Shelby, with as much sternness
as he could command, under the circumstances.
Now, there is no more use in making believe be angry with
a negro than with a child; both instinctively see the true state
of the case, through all attempts to affect the contrary; and Sam
was in no wise disheartened by this rebuke, though he assumed an
air of doleful gravity, and stood with the corners of his mouth
lowered in most penitential style.
"Mas'r quite right,--quite; it was ugly on me,--there's no
disputin' that ar; and of course Mas'r and Missis wouldn't encourage
no such works. I'm sensible of dat ar; but a poor nigger like me
's 'mazin' tempted to act ugly sometimes, when fellers will cut up
such shines as dat ar Mas'r Haley; he an't no gen'l'man no way;
anybody's been raised as I've been can't help a seein' dat ar."
"Well, Sam," said Mrs. Shelby, "as you appear to have a
proper sense of your errors, you may go now and tell Aunt Chloe
she may get you some of that cold ham that was left of dinner today.
You and Andy must be hungry."
"Missis is a heap too good for us," said Sam, making his
bow with alacrity, and departing.
It will be perceived, as has been before intimated, that
Master Sam had a native talent that might, undoubtedly, have raised
him to eminence in political life,--a talent of making capital out
of everything that turned up, to be invested for his own especial
praise and glory; and having done up his piety and humility, as he
trusted, to the satisfaction of the parlor, he clapped his palm-leaf
on his head, with a sort of rakish, free-and-easy air, and proceeded
to the dominions of Aunt Chloe, with the intention of flourishing
largely in the kitchen.
"I'll speechify these yer niggers," said Sam to himself,
"now I've got a chance. Lord, I'll reel it off to make 'em stare!"
It must be observed that one of Sam's especial delights
had been to ride in attendance on his master to all kinds of
political gatherings, where, roosted on some rail fence, or perched
aloft in some tree, he would sit watching the orators, with the
greatest apparent gusto, and then, descending among the various
brethren of his own color, assembled on the same errand, he would
edify and delight them with the most ludicrous burlesques and
imitations, all delivered with the most imperturbable earnestness
and solemnity; and though the auditors immediately about him were
generally of his own color, it not unfrequently happened that they
^^^ - infrequently?
were fringed pretty deeply with those of a fairer complexion, who
listened, laughing and winking, to Sam's great self-congratulation.
In fact, Sam considered oratory as his vocation, and never let slip
an opportunity of magnifying his office.
Now, between Sam and Aunt Chloe there had existed, from ancient
times, a sort of chronic feud, or rather a decided coolness;
but, as Sam was meditating something in the provision department,
as the necessary and obvious foundation of his operations, he
determined, on the present occasion, to be eminently conciliatory;
for he well knew that although "Missis' orders" would undoubtedly
be followed to the letter, yet he should gain a considerable deal
by enlisting the spirit also. He therefore appeared before Aunt
Chloe with a touchingly subdued, resigned expression, like one who
has suffered immeasurable hardships in behalf of a persecuted
fellow-creature,--enlarged upon the fact that Missis had directed
him to come to Aunt Chloe for whatever might be wanting to make up
the balance in his solids and fluids,--and thus unequivocally
acknowledged her right and supremacy in the cooking department,
and all thereto pertaining.
The thing took accordingly. No poor, simple, virtuous body was
ever cajoled by the attentions of an electioneering politician
with more ease than Aunt Chloe was won over by Master Sam's suavities;
and if he had been the prodigal son himself, he could not have been
overwhelmed with more maternal bountifulness; and he soon found
himself seated, happy and glorious, over a large tin pan, containing
a sort of _olla podrida_ of all that had appeared on the table for
two or three days past. Savory morsels of ham, golden blocks of
corn-cake, fragments of pie of every conceivable mathematical
figure, chicken wings, gizzards, and drumsticks, all appeared in
picturesque confusion; and Sam, as monarch of all he surveyed, sat
with his palm-leaf cocked rejoicingly to one side, and patronizing
Andy at his right hand.
The kitchen was full of all his compeers, who had hurried and
crowded in, from the various cabins, to hear the termination
of the day's exploits. Now was Sam's hour of glory. The story of
the day was rehearsed, with all kinds of ornament and varnishing
which might be necessary to heighten its effect; for Sam, like some
of our fashionable dilettanti, never allowed a story to lose any
^^^^^^^^ - dilettante ?
of its gilding by passing through his hands. Roars of laughter
attended the narration, and were taken up and prolonged by all the
smaller fry, who were lying, in any quantity, about on the floor,
or perched in every corner. In the height of the uproar and
laughter, Sam, however, preserved an immovable gravity, only from
time to time rolling his eyes up, and giving his auditors divers
inexpressibly droll glances, without departing from the sententious
elevation of his oratory.
"Yer see, fellow-countrymen," said Sam, elevating a turkey's
leg, with energy, "yer see, now what dis yer chile 's up ter, for
fendin' yer all,--yes, all on yer. For him as tries to get one o'
our people is as good as tryin' to get all; yer see the principle
's de same,--dat ar's clar. And any one o' these yer drivers that
comes smelling round arter any our people, why, he's got _me_ in
his way; _I'm_ the feller he's got to set in with,--I'm the feller
for yer all to come to, bredren,--I'll stand up for yer rights,--I'll
fend 'em to the last breath!"
"Why, but Sam, yer telled me, only this mornin', that you'd
help this yer Mas'r to cotch Lizy; seems to me yer talk don't hang
together," said Andy.
"I tell you now, Andy," said Sam, with awful superiority,
"don't yer be a talkin' 'bout what yer don't know nothin' on; boys
like you, Andy, means well, but they can't be spected to collusitate
the great principles of action."
Andy looked rebuked, particularly by the hard word collusitate,
which most of the youngerly members of the company seemed to consider
as a settler in the case, while Sam proceeded.
"Dat ar was _conscience_, Andy; when I thought of gwine
arter Lizy, I railly spected Mas'r was sot dat way. When I found
Missis was sot the contrar, dat ar was conscience _more yet_,--cause
fellers allers gets more by stickin' to Missis' side,--so yer see
I 's persistent either way, and sticks up to conscience, and holds
on to principles. Yes, _principles_," said Sam, giving an enthusiastic
toss to a chicken's neck,--"what's principles good for, if we isn't
persistent, I wanter know? Thar, Andy, you may have dat ar bone,--tan't
picked quite clean."
Sam's audience hanging on his words with open mouth, he
could not but proceed.
"Dis yer matter 'bout persistence, feller-niggers," said Sam,
with the air of one entering into an abstruse subject, "dis
yer 'sistency 's a thing what an't seed into very clar, by most
anybody. Now, yer see, when a feller stands up for a thing one
day and night, de contrar de next, folks ses (and nat'rally
enough dey ses), why he an't persistent,--hand me dat ar bit o'
corn-cake, Andy. But let's look inter it. I hope the gen'lmen
and der fair sex will scuse my usin' an or'nary sort o' 'parison.
Here! I'm a trying to get top o' der hay. Wal, I puts up my larder
dis yer side; 'tan't no go;--den, cause I don't try dere no more,
but puts my larder right de contrar side, an't I persistent?
I'm persistent in wantin' to get up which ary side my larder is;
don't you see, all on yer?"
"It's the only thing ye ever was persistent in, Lord knows!"
muttered Aunt Chloe, who was getting rather restive; the merriment
of the evening being to her somewhat after the Scripture
comparison,--like "vinegar upon nitre."
"Yes, indeed!" said Sam, rising, full of supper and glory,
for a closing effort. "Yes, my feller-citizens and ladies of de
other sex in general, I has principles,--I'm proud to 'oon 'em,--they
's perquisite to dese yer times, and ter _all_ times. I has
principles, and I sticks to 'em like forty,--jest anything that I
thinks is principle, I goes in to 't;--I wouldn't mind if dey burnt
me 'live,--I'd walk right up to de stake, I would, and say, here
I comes to shed my last blood fur my principles, fur my country,
fur de gen'l interests of society."
"Well," said Aunt Chloe, "one o' yer principles will have to be
to get to bed some time tonight, and not be a keepin' everybody
up till mornin'; now, every one of you young uns that don't want
to be cracked, had better be scase, mighty sudden."
"Niggers! all on yer," said Sam, waving his palm-leaf with
benignity, "I give yer my blessin'; go to bed now, and be good boys."
And, with this pathetic benediction, the assembly dispersed.
In Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man
The light of the cheerful fire shone on the rug and carpet
of a cosey parlor, and glittered on the sides of the tea-cups and
well-brightened tea-pot, as Senator Bird was drawing off his boots,
preparatory to inserting his feet in a pair of new handsome slippers,
which his wife had been working for him while away on his senatorial
tour. Mrs. Bird, looking the very picture of delight, was
superintending the arrangements of the table, ever and anon mingling
admonitory remarks to a number of frolicsome juveniles, who were
effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and mischief that
have astonished mothers ever since the flood.
"Tom, let the door-knob alone,--there's a man! Mary! Mary!
don't pull the cat's tail,--poor pussy! Jim, you mustn't climb on
that table,--no, no!--You don't know, my dear, what a surprise it
is to us all, to see you here tonight!" said she, at last, when
she found a space to say something to her husband.
"Yes, yes, I thought I'd just make a run down, spend the night,
and have a little comfort at home. I'm tired to death, and
my head 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.
"No, no, Mary, no doctoring! a cup of your good hot tea, and
some of our good home living, is what I want. It's a tiresome
business, this legislating!"
And the senator smiled, as if he rather liked the idea of
considering himself a sacrifice to his country.
"Well," said his wife, after the business of the tea-table was
getting rather slack, "and what have they been doing in the Senate?"
Now, it was a very unusual thing for gentle little Mrs. Bird
ever to trouble her head with what was going on in the house
of the state, very wisely considering that she had enough to do to
mind her own. Mr. Bird, therefore, opened his eyes in surprise,
"Not very much of importance."
"Well; but is it true that they have been passing a law
forbidding people to give meat and drink to those poor colored
folks that come along? I heard they were talking of some such law,
but I didn't think any Christian legislature would pass it!"
"Why, Mary, you are getting to be a politician, all at once."
"No, nonsense! I wouldn't give a fip for all your politics,
generally, but I think this is something downright cruel and
unchristian. I hope, my dear, no such law has been passed."
"There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off
the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that
thing has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that our
brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited, and it seems
necessary, and no more than Christian and kind, that something
should be done by our state to quiet the excitement."
"And what is the law? It don't forbid us to shelter those poor
creatures a night, does it, and to give 'em something comfortable
to eat, and a few old clothes, and send them quietly about their
"Why, yes, my dear; that would be aiding and abetting, you know."
Mrs. Bird was a timid, blushing little woman, of about four feet
in height, and with mild blue eyes, and a peach-blow complexion,
and the gentlest, sweetest voice in the world;--as for courage,
a moderate-sized cock-turkey had been known to put her to rout
at the very first gobble, and a stout house-dog, of moderate
capacity, would bring her into subjection merely by a show of
his teeth. Her husband and children were her entire world, and in
these she ruled more by entreaty and persuasion than by command
or argument. There was only one thing that was capable of arousing
her, and that provocation came in on the side of her unusually
gentle and sympathetic nature;--anything in the shape of cruelty
would throw her into a passion, which was the more alarming and
inexplicable in proportion to the general softness of her nature.
Generally the most indulgent and easy to be entreated of all mothers,
still her boys had a very reverent remembrance of a most vehement
chastisement she once bestowed on them, because she found them
leagued with several graceless boys of the neighborhood, stoning
a defenceless kitten.
"I'll tell you what," Master Bill used to say, "I was scared
that time. Mother came at me so that I thought she was crazy, and
I was whipped and tumbled off to bed, without any supper, before
I could get over wondering what had come about; and, after that,
I heard mother crying outside the door, which made me feel worse
than all the rest. I'll tell you what," he'd say, "we boys never
stoned another kitten!"
On the present occasion, Mrs. Bird rose quickly, with very
red cheeks, which quite improved her general appearance, and walked
up to her husband, with quite a resolute air, and said, in a
"Now, John, I want to know if you think such a law as that
is right and Christian?"
"You won't shoot me, now, Mary, if I say I do!"
"I never could have thought it of you, John; you didn't
vote for it?"
"Even so, my fair politician."
"You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures!
It's a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I'll break it,
for one, the first time I get a chance; and I hope I _shall_
have a chance, I do! Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman
can't give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures,
just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed
all their lives, poor things!"
"But, Mary, just listen to me. Your feelings are all quite
right, dear, and interesting, and I love you for them; but, then,
dear, we mustn't suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment;
you must consider it's a matter of private feeling,--there are
great public interests involved,--there is such a state of public
agitation rising, that we must put aside our private feelings."
"Now, John, I don't know anything about politics, but I can read
my Bible; and there I see that I must feed the hungry, clothe
the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible I mean
"But in cases where your doing so would involve a great
"Obeying God never brings on public evils. I know it can't.
It's always safest, all round, to _do as He_ bids us.
"Now, listen to me, Mary, and I can state to you a very
clear argument, to show--"
"O, nonsense, John! you can talk all night, but you wouldn't
do it. I put it to you, John,--would _you_ now turn away a poor,
shivering, hungry creature from your door, because he was a runaway?
_Would_ you, now?"
Now, if the truth must be told, our senator had the misfortune
to be a man who had a particularly humane and accessible nature,
and turning away anybody that was in trouble never had been his
forte; and what was worse for him in this particular pinch of the
argument was, that his wife knew it, and, of course was making an
assault on rather an indefensible point. So he had recourse to the
usual means of gaining time for such cases made and provided; he said
"ahem," and coughed several times, took out his pocket-handkerchief,
and began to wipe his glasses. Mrs. Bird, seeing the defenceless
condition of the enemy's territory, had no more conscience than to
push her advantage.
"I should like to see you doing that, John--I really should!
Turning a woman out of doors in a snowstorm, for instance; or may
be you'd take her up and put her in jail, wouldn't you? You would
make a great hand at that!"
"Of course, it would be a very painful duty," began Mr. Bird,
in a moderate tone.
"Duty, John! don't use that word! You know it isn't a duty--it
can't be a duty! If folks want to keep their slaves from
running away, let 'em treat 'em well,--that's my doctrine. If I
had slaves (as I hope I never shall have), I'd risk their wanting
to run away from me, or you either, John. I tell you folks don't
run away when they are happy; and when they do run, poor creatures!
they suffer enough with cold and hunger and fear, without everybody's
turning against them; and, law or no law, I never will, so help me God!"
"Mary! Mary! My dear, let me reason with you."
"I hate reasoning, John,--especially reasoning on such subjects.
There's a way you political folks have of coming round and round
a plain right thing; and you don't believe in it yourselves, when
it comes to practice. I know _you_ well enough, John. You don't
believe it's right any more than I do; and you wouldn't do it any
sooner than I."
At this critical juncture, old Cudjoe, the black man-of-all-work,
put his head in at the door, and wished "Missis would come into
the kitchen;" and our senator, tolerably relieved, looked after
his little wife with a whimsical mixture of amusement and vexation,
and, seating himself in the arm-chair, began to read the papers.
After a moment, his wife's voice was heard at the door, in a quick,
earnest tone,--"John! John! I do wish you'd come here, a moment."
He laid down his paper, and went into the kitchen, and started,
quite amazed at the sight that presented itself:--A young
and slender woman, with garments torn and frozen, with one shoe
gone, and the stocking torn away from the cut and bleeding foot,
was laid back in a deadly swoon upon two chairs. There was the
impress of the despised race on her face, yet none could help
feeling its mournful and pathetic beauty, while its stony sharpness,
its cold, fixed, deathly aspect, struck a solemn chill over him.
He drew his breath short, and stood in silence. His wife, and
their only colored domestic, old Aunt Dinah, were busily engaged
in restorative measures; while old Cudjoe had got the boy on his
knee, and was busy pulling off his shoes and stockings, and chafing
his little cold feet.
"Sure, now, if she an't a sight to behold!" said old Dinah,
compassionately; "'pears like 't was the heat that made her faint.
She was tol'able peart when she cum in, and asked if she couldn't
warm herself here a spell; and I was just a-askin' her where she
cum from, and she fainted right down. Never done much hard work,
guess, by the looks of her hands."
"Poor creature!" said Mrs. Bird, compassionately, as the woman
slowly unclosed her large, dark eyes, and looked vacantly at her.
Suddenly an expression of agony crossed her face, and she
sprang up, saying, "O, my Harry! Have they got him?"
The boy, at this, jumped from Cudjoe's knee, and running
to her side put up his arms. "O, he's here! he's here!" she
"O, ma'am!" said she, wildly, to Mrs. Bird, "do protect
us! don't let them get him!"
"Nobody shall hurt you here, poor woman," said Mrs. Bird,
encouragingly. "You are safe; don't be afraid."
"God bless you!" said the woman, covering her face and sobbing;
while the little boy, seeing her crying, tried to get into
With many gentle and womanly offices, which none knew better
how to render than Mrs. Bird, the poor woman was, in time, rendered
more calm. A temporary bed was provided for her on the settle,
near the fire; and, after a short time, she fell into a heavy
slumber, with the child, who seemed no less weary, soundly sleeping
on her arm; for the mother resisted, with nervous anxiety, the
kindest attempts to take him from her; and, even in sleep, her arm
encircled him with an unrelaxing clasp, as if she could not even
then be beguiled of her vigilant hold.
Mr. and Mrs. Bird had gone back to the parlor, where, strange
as it may appear, no reference was made, on either side, to
the preceding conversation; but Mrs. Bird busied herself with
her knitting-work, and Mr. Bird pretended to be reading the paper.
"I wonder who and what she is!" said Mr. Bird, at last, as
he laid it down.
"When she wakes up and feels a little rested, we will see,"
said Mrs. Bird.
"I say, wife!" said Mr. Bird after musing in silence over
"She couldn't wear one of your gowns, could she, by any
letting down, or such matter? She seems to be rather larger than
A quite perceptible smile glimmered on Mrs. Bird's face,
as she answered, "We'll see."
Another pause, and Mr. Bird again broke out,
"I say, wife!"
"Well! What now?"
"Why, there's that old bombazin cloak, that you keep on purpose
to put over me when I take my afternoon's nap; you might as well
give her that,--she needs clothes."