Part 7 out of 12
pulling off the clothes, and seating herself.
Topsy, with great gravity and adroitness, went through the
exercise completely to Miss Ophelia's satisfaction; smoothing the
sheets, patting out every wrinkle, and exhibiting, through the
whole process, a gravity and seriousness with which her instructress
was greatly edified. By an unlucky slip, however, a fluttering
fragment of the ribbon hung out of one of her sleeves, just as she
was finishing, and caught Miss Ophelia's attention. Instantly, she
pounced upon it. "What's this? You naughty, wicked child,--you've
been stealing this!"
The ribbon was pulled out of Topsy's own sleeve, yet was she
not in the least disconcerted; she only looked at it with an
air of the most surprised and unconscious innocence.
"Laws! why, that ar's Miss Feely's ribbon, an't it? How could
it a got caught in my sleeve?
"Topsy, you naughty girl, don't you tell me a lie,--you
stole that ribbon!"
"Missis, I declar for 't, I didn't;--never seed it till
dis yer blessed minnit."
"Topsy," said Miss Ophelia, "don't you now it's wicked to
"I never tell no lies, Miss Feely," said Topsy, with virtuous
gravity; "it's jist the truth I've been a tellin now, and an't
"Topsy, I shall have to whip you, if you tell lies so."
"Laws, Missis, if you's to whip all day, couldn't say no
other way," said Topsy, beginning to blubber. "I never seed dat
ar,--it must a got caught in my sleeve. Miss Feeley must have left
it on the bed, and it got caught in the clothes, and so got in
Miss Ophelia was so indignant at the barefaced lie, that
she caught the child and shook her.
"Don't you tell me that again!"
The shake brought the glove on to the floor, from the other sleeve.
"There, you!" said Miss Ophelia, "will you tell me now,
you didn't steal the ribbon?"
Topsy now confessed to the gloves, but still persisted in
denying the ribbon.
"Now, Topsy," said Miss Ophelia, "if you'll confess all about it,
I won't whip you this time." Thus adjured, Topsy confessed
to the ribbon and gloves, with woful protestations of penitence.
"Well, now, tell me. I know you must have taken other things
since you have been in the house, for I let you run about all
day yesterday. Now, tell me if you took anything, and I shan't
"Laws, Missis! I took Miss Eva's red thing she wars on her neck."
"You did, you naughty child!--Well, what else?"
"I took Rosa's yer-rings,--them red ones."
"Go bring them to me this minute, both of 'em."
"Laws, Missis! I can't,--they 's burnt up!"
"Burnt up!--what a story! Go get 'em, or I'll whip you."
Topsy, with loud protestations, and tears, and groans,
declared that she _could_ not. "They 's burnt up,--they was."
"What did you burn 'em for?" said Miss Ophelia.
"Cause I 's wicked,--I is. I 's mighty wicked, any how.
I can't help it."
Just at this moment, Eva came innocently into the room,
with the identical coral necklace on her neck.
"Why, Eva, where did you get your necklace?" said Miss Ophelia.
"Get it? Why, I've had it on all day," said Eva.
"Did you have it on yesterday?"
"Yes; and what is funny, Aunty, I had it on all night. I forgot
to take it off when I went to bed."
Miss Ophelia looked perfectly bewildered; the more so, as Rosa,
at that instant, came into the room, with a basket of newly-ironed
linen poised on her head, and the coral ear-drops shaking in her ears!
"I'm sure I can't tell anything what to do with such a child!"
she said, in despair. "What in the world did you tell me
you took those things for, Topsy?"
"Why, Missis said I must 'fess; and I couldn't think of
nothin' else to 'fess," said Topsy, rubbing her eyes.
"But, of course, I didn't want you to confess things you
didn't do," said Miss Ophelia; "that's telling a lie, just as much
as the other."
"Laws, now, is it?" said Topsy, with an air of innocent wonder.
"La, there an't any such thing as truth in that limb," said
Rosa, looking indignantly at Topsy. "If I was Mas'r St. Clare,
I'd whip her till the blood run. I would,--I'd let her catch it!"
"No, no Rosa," said Eva, with an air of command, which the
child could assume at times; "you mustn't talk so, Rosa. I can't
bear to hear it."
"La sakes! Miss Eva, you 's so good, you don't know nothing
how to get along with niggers. There's no way but to cut 'em well
up, I tell ye."
"Rosa!" said Eva, "hush! Don't you say another word of that
sort!" and the eye of the child flashed, and her cheek deepened
Rosa was cowed in a moment.
"Miss Eva has got the St. Clare blood in her, that's plain.
She can speak, for all the world, just like her papa," she said,
as she passed out of the room.
Eva stood looking at Topsy.
There stood the two children representatives of the two extremes
of society. The fair, high-bred child, with her golden head,
her deep eyes, her spiritual, noble brow, and prince-like movements;
and her black, keen, subtle, cringing, yet acute neighbor.
They stood the representatives of their races. The Saxon, born
of ages of cultivation, command, education, physical and moral
eminence; the Afric, born of ages of oppression, submission,
ignorance, toil and vice!
Something, perhaps, of such thoughts struggled through
Eva's mind. But a child's thoughts are rather dim, undefined
instincts; and in Eva's noble nature many such were yearning and
working, for which she had no power of utterance. When Miss Ophelia
expatiated on Topsy's naughty, wicked conduct, the child looked
perplexed and sorrowful, but said, sweetly.
"Poor Topsy, why need you steal? You're going to be taken
good care of now. I'm sure I'd rather give you anything of mine,
than have you steal it."
It was the first word of kindness the child had ever heard
in her life; and the sweet tone and manner struck strangely on the
wild, rude heart, and a sparkle of something like a tear shone in
the keen, round, glittering eye; but it was followed by the short
laugh and habitual grin. No! the ear that has never heard anything
but abuse is strangely incredulous of anything so heavenly as
kindness; and Topsy only thought Eva's speech something funny and
inexplicable,--she did not believe it.
But what was to be done with Topsy? Miss Ophelia found the
case a puzzler; her rules for bringing up didn't seem to apply.
She thought she would take time to think of it; and, by the way of
gaining time, and in hopes of some indefinite moral virtues supposed
to be inherent in dark closets, Miss Ophelia shut Topsy up in one
till she had arranged her ideas further on the subject.
"I don't see," said Miss Ophelia to St. Clare, "how I'm
going to manage that child, without whipping her."
"Well, whip her, then, to your heart's content; I'll give
you full power to do what you like."
"Children always have to be whipped," said Miss Ophelia;
"I never heard of bringing them up without."
"O, well, certainly," said St. Clare; "do as you think best.
Only I'll make one suggestion: I've seen this child whipped
with a poker, knocked down with the shovel or tongs, whichever came
handiest, &c.; and, seeing that she is used to that style of
operation, I think your whippings will have to be pretty energetic,
to make much impression."
"What is to be done with her, then?" said Miss Ophelia.
"You have started a serious question," said St. Clare; "I
wish you'd answer it. What is to be done with a human being that
can be governed only by the lash,--_that_ fails,--it's a very common
state of things down here!"
"I'm sure I don't know; I never saw such a child as this."
"Such children are very common among us, and such men and
women, too. How are they to be governed?" said St. Clare.
"I'm sure it's more than I can say," said Miss Ophelia.
"Or I either," said St. Clare. "The horrid cruelties and outrages
that once and a while find their way into the papers,--such
cases as Prue's, for example,--what do they come from? In many
cases, it is a gradual hardening process on both sides,--the owner
growing more and more cruel, as the servant more and more callous.
Whipping and abuse are like laudanum; you have to double the dose
as the sensibilities decline. I saw this very early when I became
an owner; and I resolved never to begin, because I did not know
when I should stop,--and I resolved, at least, to protect my own
moral nature. The consequence is, that my servants act like spoiled
children; but I think that better than for us both to be brutalized
together. You have talked a great deal about our responsibilities
in educating, Cousin. I really wanted you to _try_ with one child,
who is a specimen of thousands among us."
"It is your system makes such children," said Miss Ophelia.
"I know it; but they are _made_,--they exist,--and what
_is_ to be done with them?"
"Well, I can't say I thank you for the experiment. But, then,
as it appears to be a duty, I shall persevere and try, and
do the best I can," said Miss Ophelia; and Miss Ophelia, after
this, did labor, with a commendable degree of zeal and energy, on
her new subject. She instituted regular hours and employments for
her, and undertook to teach her to read and sew.
In the former art, the child was quick enough. She learned
her letters as if by magic, and was very soon able to read plain
reading; but the sewing was a more difficult matter. The creature
was as lithe as a cat, and as active as a monkey, and the confinement
of sewing was her abomination; so she broke her needles, threw them
slyly out of the window, or down in chinks of the walls; she tangled,
broke, and dirtied her thread, or, with a sly movement, would throw
a spool away altogether. Her motions were almost as quick as those
of a practised conjurer, and her command of her face quite as great;
and though Miss Ophelia could not help feeling that so many accidents
could not possibly happen in succession, yet she could not, without
a watchfulness which would leave her no time for anything else,
Topsy was soon a noted character in the establishment.
Her talent for every species of drollery, grimace, and mimicry,--for
dancing, tumbling, climbing, singing, whistling, imitating every
sound that hit her fancy,--seemed inexhaustible. In her play-hours,
she invariably had every child in the establishment at her heels,
open-mouthed with admiration and wonder,--not excepting Miss Eva,
who appeared to be fascinated by her wild diablerie, as a dove is
sometimes charmed by a glittering serpent. Miss Ophelia was uneasy
that Eva should fancy Topsy's society so much, and implored St.
Clare to forbid it.
"Poh! let the child alone," said St. Clare. "Topsy will
do her good."
"But so depraved a child,--are you not afraid she will
teach her some mischief?"
"She can't teach her mischief; she might teach it to some
children, but evil rolls off Eva's mind like dew off a
cabbage-leaf,--not a drop sinks in."
"Don't be too sure," said Miss Ophelia. "I know I'd never
let a child of mine play with Topsy."
"Well, your children needn't," said St. Clare, "but mine may;
if Eva could have been spoiled, it would have been done years ago."
Topsy was at first despised and contemned by the upper servants.
They soon found reason to alter their opinion. It was very soon
discovered that whoever cast an indignity on Topsy was sure to
meet with some inconvenient accident shortly after;--either a
pair of ear-rings or some cherished trinket would be missing, or
an article of dress would be suddenly found utterly ruined, or the
person would stumble accidently into a pail of hot water, or a
libation of dirty slop would unaccountably deluge them from above
when in full gala dress;-and on all these occasions, when investigation
was made, there was nobody found to stand sponsor for the indignity.
Topsy was cited, and had up before all the domestic judicatories,
time and again; but always sustained her examinations with most
edifying innocence and gravity of appearance. Nobody in the world
ever doubted who did the things; but not a scrap of any direct
evidence could be found to establish the suppositions, and Miss
Ophelia was too just to feel at liberty to proceed to any length
The mischiefs done were always so nicely timed, also, as
further to shelter the aggressor. Thus, the times for revenge on
Rosa and Jane, the two chamber maids, were always chosen in those
seasons when (as not unfrequently happened) they were in disgrace
with their mistress, when any complaint from them would of course
meet with no sympathy. In short, Topsy soon made the household
understand the propriety of letting her alone; and she was let
Topsy was smart and energetic in all manual operations,
learning everything that was taught her with surprising quickness.
With a few lessons, she had learned to do the proprieties of Miss
Ophelia's chamber in a way with which even that particular lady
could find no fault. Mortal hands could not lay spread smoother,
adjust pillows more accurately, sweep and dust and arrange more
perfectly, than Topsy, when she chose,--but she didn't very often
choose. If Miss Ophelia, after three or four days of careful
patient supervision, was so sanguine as to suppose that Topsy had
at last fallen into her way, could do without over-looking, and so
go off and busy herself about something else, Topsy would hold a
perfect carnival of confusion, for some one or two hours. Instead
of making the bed, she would amuse herself with pulling off the
pillowcases, butting her woolly head among the pillows, till it
would sometimes be grotesquely ornamented with feathers sticking
out in various directions; she would climb the posts, and hang head
downward from the tops; flourish the sheets and spreads all over
the apartment; dress the bolster up in Miss Ophelia's night-clothes,
and enact various performances with that,--singing and whistling,
and making grimaces at herself in the looking-glass; in short, as
Miss Ophelia phrased it, "raising Cain" generally.
On one occasion, Miss Ophelia found Topsy with her very
best scarlet India Canton crape shawl wound round her head for a
turban, going on with her rehearsals before the glass in great
style,--Miss Ophelia having, with carelessness most unheard-of in
her, left the key for once in her drawer.
"Topsy!" she would say, when at the end of all patience,
"what does make you act so?"
"Dunno, Missis,--I spects cause I 's so wicked!"
"I don't know anything what I shall do with you, Topsy."
"Law, Missis, you must whip me; my old Missis allers whipped me.
I an't used to workin' unless I gets whipped."
"Why, Topsy, I don't want to whip you. You can do well,
if you've a mind to; what is the reason you won't?"
"Laws, Missis, I 's used to whippin'; I spects it's good
Miss Ophelia tried the recipe, and Topsy invariably made
a terrible commotion, screaming, groaning and imploring, though
half an hour afterwards, when roosted on some projection of the
balcony, and surrounded by a flock of admiring "young uns," she
would express the utmost contempt of the whole affair.
"Law, Miss Feely whip!--wouldn't kill a skeeter, her whippins.
Oughter see how old Mas'r made the flesh fly; old Mas'r
Topsy always made great capital of her own sins and
enormities, evidently considering them as something peculiarly
"Law, you niggers," she would say to some of her auditors,
"does you know you 's all sinners? Well, you is--everybody is.
White folks is sinners too,--Miss Feely says so; but I spects
niggers is the biggest ones; but lor! ye an't any on ye up to me.
I 's so awful wicked there can't nobody do nothin' with me. I used
to keep old Missis a swarin' at me half de time. I spects I 's
the wickedest critter in the world;" and Topsy would cut a summerset,
and come up brisk and shining on to a higher perch, and evidently
plume herself on the distinction.
Miss Ophelia busied herself very earnestly on Sundays,
teaching Topsy the catechism. Topsy had an uncommon verbal
memory, and committed with a fluency that greatly encouraged
"What good do you expect it is going to do her?" said St. Clare.
"Why, it always has done children good. It's what children
always have to learn, you know," said Miss Ophelia.
"Understand it or not," said St. Clare.
"O, children never understand it at the time; but, after
they are grown up, it'll come to them."
"Mine hasn't come to me yet," said St. Clare, "though I'll
bear testimony that you put it into me pretty thoroughly when I
was a boy."'
"Ah, you were always good at learning, Augustine. I used
to have great hopes of you," said Miss Ophelia.
"Well, haven't you now?" said St. Clare.
"I wish you were as good as you were when you were a boy,
"So do I, that's a fact, Cousin," said St. Clare. "Well, go
ahead and catechize Topsy; may be you'll make out something yet."
Topsy, who had stood like a black statue during this discussion,
with hands decently folded, now, at a signal from Miss Ophelia,
"Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own
will, fell from the state wherein they were created."
Topsy's eyes twinkled, and she looked inquiringly.
"What is it, Topsy?" said Miss Ophelia.
"Please, Missis, was dat ar state Kintuck?"
"What state, Topsy?"
"Dat state dey fell out of. I used to hear Mas'r tell how
we came down from Kintuck."
St. Clare laughed.
"You'll have to give her a meaning, or she'll make one,"
said he. "There seems to be a theory of emigration suggested
"O! Augustine, be still," said Miss Ophelia; "how can I do
anything, if you will be laughing?"
"Well, I won't disturb the exercises again, on my honor;"
and St. Clare took his paper into the parlor, and sat down, till
Topsy had finished her recitations. They were all very well, only
that now and then she would oddly transpose some important words,
and persist in the mistake, in spite of every effort to the contrary;
and St. Clare, after all his promises of goodness, took a wicked
pleasure in these mistakes, calling Topsy to him whenever he had
a mind to amuse himself, and getting her to repeat the offending
passages, in spite of Miss Ophelia's remonstrances.
"How do you think I can do anything with the child, if you
will go on so, Augustine?" she would say.
"Well, it is too bad,--I won't again; but I do like to hear
the droll little image stumble over those big words!"
"But you confirm her in the wrong way."
"What's the odds? One word is as good as another to her."
"You wanted me to bring her up right; and you ought to
remember she is a reasonable creature, and be careful of your
influence over her."
"O, dismal! so I ought; but, as Topsy herself says, `I 's
In very much this way Topsy's training proceeded, for a year
or two,--Miss Ophelia worrying herself, from day to day, with
her, as a kind of chronic plague, to whose inflictions she became,
in time, as accustomed, as persons sometimes do to the neuralgia
or sick headache.
St. Clare took the same kind of amusement in the child that a man
might in the tricks of a parrot or a pointer. Topsy, whenever
her sins brought her into disgrace in other quarters, always took
refuge behind his chair; and St. Clare, in one way or other, would
make peace for her. From him she got many a stray picayune, which
she laid out in nuts and candies, and distributed, with careless
generosity, to all the children in the family; for Topsy, to do
her justice, was good-natured and liberal, and only spiteful in
self-defence. She is fairly introduced into our _corps be ballet_,
and will figure, from time to time, in her turn, with other performers.
Our readers may not be unwilling to glance back, for a
brief interval, at Uncle Tom's Cabin, on the Kentucky farm, and
see what has been transpiring among those whom he had left behind.
It was late in the summer afternoon, and the doors and
windows of the large parlor all stood open, to invite any stray
breeze, that might feel in a good humor, to enter. Mr. Shelby sat
in a large hall opening into the room, and running through the
whole length of the house, to a balcony on either end. Leisurely
tipped back on one chair, with his heels in another, he was enjoying
his after-dinner cigar. Mrs. Shelby sat in the door, busy about
some fine sewing; she seemed like one who had something on her
mind, which she was seeking an opportunity to introduce.
"Do you know," she said, "that Chloe has had a letter from Tom?"
"Ah! has she? Tom 's got some friend there, it seems. How is the
"He has been bought by a very fine family, I should think,"
said Mrs. Shelby,--"is kindly treated, and has not much to do."
"Ah! well, I'm glad of it,--very glad," said Mr. Shelby, heartily.
"Tom, I suppose, will get reconciled to a Southern residence;--hardly
want to come up here again."
"On the contrary he inquires very anxiously," said Mrs.
Shelby, "when the money for his redemption is to be raised."
"I'm sure _I_ don't know," said Mr. Shelby. "Once get business
running wrong, there does seem to be no end to it. It's like
jumping from one bog to another, all through a swamp; borrow
of one to pay another, and then borrow of another to pay one,--and
these confounded notes falling due before a man has time to smoke
a cigar and turn round,--dunning letters and dunning messages,--all
scamper and hurry-scurry."
"It does seem to me, my dear, that something might be done
to straighten matters. Suppose we sell off all the horses, and
sell one of your farms, and pay up square?"
"O, ridiculous, Emily! You are the finest woman in Kentucky;
but still you haven't sense to know that you don't understand
business;--women never do, and never can.
"But, at least," said Mrs. Shelby, "could not you give me
some little insight into yours; a list of all your debts, at least,
and of all that is owed to you, and let me try and see if I can't
help you to economize."
"O, bother! don't plague me, Emily!--I can't tell exactly.
I know somewhere about what things are likely to be; but there's
no trimming and squaring my affairs, as Chloe trims crust off her
pies. You don't know anything about business, I tell you."
And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his
ideas, raised his voice,--a mode of arguing very convenient and
convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with
Mrs. Shelby ceased talking, with something of a sigh. The fact
was, that though her husband had stated she was a woman, she
had a clear, energetic, practical mind, and a force of character
every way superior to that of her husband; so that it would not
have been so very absurd a supposition, to have allowed her
capable of managing, as Mr. Shelby supposed. Her heart was set on
performing her promise to Tom and Aunt Chloe, and she sighed as
discouragements thickened around her.
"Don't you think we might in some way contrive to raise
that money? Poor Aunt Chloe! her heart is so set on it!"
"I'm sorry, if it is. I think I was premature in promising.
I'm not sure, now, but it's the best way to tell Chloe, and let
her make up her mind to it. Tom'll have another wife, in a year
or two; and she had better take up with somebody else."
"Mr. Shelby, I have taught my people that their marriages
are as sacred as ours. I never could think of giving Chloe
"It's a pity, wife, that you have burdened them with a morality
above their condition and prospects. I always thought so."
"It's only the morality of the Bible, Mr. Shelby."
"Well, well, Emily, I don't pretend to interfere with your
religious notions; only they seem extremely unfitted for people in
"They are, indeed," said Mrs. Shelby, "and that is why,
from my soul, I hate the whole thing. I tell you, my dear, _I_
cannot absolve myself from the promises I make to these helpless
creatures. If I can get the money no other way I will take
music-scholars;--I could get enough, I know, and earn the money
"You wouldn't degrade yourself that way, Emily? I never
could consent to it."
"Degrade! would it degrade me as much as to break my faith
with the helpless? No, indeed!"
"Well, you are always heroic and transcendental," said Mr.
Shelby, "but I think you had better think before you undertake such
a piece of Quixotism."
Here the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of
Aunt Chloe, at the end of the verandah.
"If you please, Missis," said she.
"Well, Chloe, what is it?" said her mistress, rising, and
going to the end of the balcony.
"If Missis would come and look at dis yer lot o' poetry."
Chloe had a particular fancy for calling poultry poetry,--an
application of language in which she always persisted, notwithstanding
frequent corrections and advisings from the young members of the
"La sakes!" she would say, "I can't see; one jis good as
turry,--poetry suthin good, any how;" and so poetry Chloe continued
to call it.
Mrs. Shelby smiled as she saw a prostrate lot of chickens
and ducks, over which Chloe stood, with a very grave face of
"I'm a thinkin whether Missis would be a havin a chicken
pie o' dese yer."
"Really, Aunt Chloe, I don't much care;--serve them any
way you like."
Chloe stood handling them over abstractedly; it was quite
evident that the chickens were not what she was thinking of.
At last, with the short laugh with which her tribe often introduce
a doubtful proposal, she said,
"Laws me, Missis! what should Mas'r and Missis be a troublin
theirselves 'bout de money, and not a usin what's right in der
hands?" and Chloe laughed again.
"I don't understand you, Chloe," said Mrs. Shelby, nothing
doubting, from her knowledge of Chloe's manner, that she had heard
every word of the conversation that had passed between her and her
"Why, laws me, Missis!" said Chloe, laughing again, "other folks
hires out der niggers and makes money on 'em! Don't keep sich
a tribe eatin 'em out of house and home."
"Well, Chloe, who do you propose that we should hire out?"
"Laws! I an't a proposin nothin; only Sam he said der was one
of dese yer _perfectioners_, dey calls 'em, in Louisville, said
he wanted a good hand at cake and pastry; and said he'd give four
dollars a week to one, he did."
"Well, laws, I 's a thinkin, Missis, it's time Sally was put
along to be doin' something. Sally 's been under my care, now,
dis some time, and she does most as well as me, considerin; and if
Missis would only let me go, I would help fetch up de money.
I an't afraid to put my cake, nor pies nother, 'long side no
"Law sakes, Missis! 'tan't no odds;--words is so curis,
can't never get 'em right!"
"But, Chloe, do you want to leave your children?"
"Laws, Missis! de boys is big enough to do day's works; dey does
well enough; and Sally, she'll take de baby,--she's such
a peart young un, she won't take no lookin arter."
"Louisville is a good way off."
"Law sakes! who's afeard?--it's down river, somer near my
old man, perhaps?" said Chloe, speaking the last in the tone of a
question, and looking at Mrs. Shelby.
"No, Chloe; it's many a hundred miles off," said Mrs. Shelby.
Chloe's countenance fell.
"Never mind; your going there shall bring you nearer, Chloe.
Yes, you may go; and your wages shall every cent of them be laid
aside for your husband's redemption."
As when a bright sunbeam turns a dark cloud to silver, so
Chloe's dark face brightened immediately,--it really shone.
"Laws! if Missis isn't too good! I was thinking of dat ar
very thing; cause I shouldn't need no clothes, nor shoes, nor
nothin,--I could save every cent. How many weeks is der in a
"Fifty-two," said Mrs. Shelby.
"Laws! now, dere is? and four dollars for each on em. Why, how
much 'd dat ar be?"
"Two hundred and eight dollars," said Mrs. Shelby.
"Why-e!" said Chloe, with an accent of surprise and delight;
"and how long would it take me to work it out, Missis?"
"Some four or five years, Chloe; but, then, you needn't do
it all,--I shall add something to it."
"I wouldn't hear to Missis' givin lessons nor nothin.
Mas'r's quite right in dat ar;--'t wouldn't do, no ways. I hope
none our family ever be brought to dat ar, while I 's got hands."
"Don't fear, Chloe; I'll take care of the honor of the family,"
said Mrs. Shelby, smiling. "But when do you expect to go?"
"Well, I want spectin nothin; only Sam, he's a gwine to de
river with some colts, and he said I could go long with him; so I
jes put my things together. If Missis was willin, I'd go with Sam
tomorrow morning, if Missis would write my pass, and write me a
"Well, Chloe, I'll attend to it, if Mr. Shelby has no
objections. I must speak to him."
Mrs. Shelby went up stairs, and Aunt Chloe, delighted, went
out to her cabin, to make her preparation.
"Law sakes, Mas'r George! ye didn't know I 's a gwine to
Louisville tomorrow!" she said to George, as entering her cabin,
he found her busy in sorting over her baby's clothes. "I thought
I'd jis look over sis's things, and get 'em straightened up. But
I'm gwine, Mas'r George,--gwine to have four dollars a week; and
Missis is gwine to lay it all up, to buy back my old man agin!"
"Whew!" said George, "here's a stroke of business, to be sure!
How are you going?"
"Tomorrow, wid Sam. And now, Mas'r George, I knows you'll
jis sit down and write to my old man, and tell him all about
"To be sure," said George; "Uncle Tom'll be right glad to hear
from us. I'll go right in the house, for paper and ink; and
then, you know, Aunt Chloe, I can tell about the new colts and all."
"Sartin, sartin, Mas'r George; you go 'long, and I'll get
ye up a bit o' chicken, or some sich; ye won't have many more
suppers wid yer poor old aunty."
"The Grass Withereth--the Flower Fadeth"
Life passes, with us all, a day at a time; so it passed with
our friend Tom, till two years were gone. Though parted from
all his soul held dear, and though often yearning for what lay
beyond, still was he never positively and consciously miserable;
for, so well is the harp of human feeling strung, that nothing but
a crash that breaks every string can wholly mar its harmony; and,
on looking back to seasons which in review appear to us as those
of deprivation and trial, we can remember that each hour, as it
glided, brought its diversions and alleviations, so that, though
not happy wholly, we were not, either, wholly miserable.
Tom read, in his only literary cabinet, of one who had "learned
in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content." It seemed
to him good and reasonable doctrine, and accorded well with the
settled and thoughtful habit which he had acquired from the
reading of that same book.
His letter homeward, as we related in the last chapter,
was in due time answered by Master George, in a good, round,
school-boy hand, that Tom said might be read "most acrost the room."
It contained various refreshing items of home intelligence, with
which our reader is fully acquainted: stated how Aunt Chloe had
been hired out to a confectioner in Louisville, where her skill
in the pastry line was gaining wonderful sums of money, all of
which, Tom was informed, was to be laid up to go to make up the
sum of his redemption money; Mose and Pete were thriving, and
the baby was trotting all about the house, under the care of Sally
and the family generally.
Tom's cabin was shut up for the present; but George expatiated
brilliantly on ornaments and additions to be made to it when Tom
The rest of this letter gave a list of George's school
studies, each one headed by a flourishing capital; and also told
the names of four new colts that appeared on the premises since
Tom left; and stated, in the same connection, that father and mother
were well. The style of the letter was decidedly concise and terse;
but Tom thought it the most wonderful specimen of composition that
had appeared in modern times. He was never tired of looking at
it, and even held a council with Eva on the expediency of getting
it framed, to hang up in his room. Nothing but the difficulty of
arranging it so that both sides of the page would show at once
stood in the way of this undertaking.
The friendship between Tom and Eva had grown with the
child's growth. It would be hard to say what place she held in
the soft, impressible heart of her faithful attendant. He loved
her as something frail and earthly, yet almost worshipped her as
something heavenly and divine. He gazed on her as the Italian
sailor gazes on his image of the child Jesus,--with a mixture of
reverence and tenderness; and to humor her graceful fancies, and
meet those thousand simple wants which invest childhood like a
many-colored rainbow, was Tom's chief delight. In the market, at
morning, his eyes were always on the flower-stalls for rare bouquets
for her, and the choicest peach or orange was slipped into his
pocket to give to her when he came back; and the sight that pleased
him most was her sunny head looking out the gate for his distant
approach, and her childish questions,--"Well, Uncle Tom, what have
you got for me today?"
Nor was Eva less zealous in kind offices, in return. Though a
child, she was a beautiful reader;--a fine musical ear, a quick
poetic fancy, and an instinctive sympathy with what's grand and
noble, made her such a reader of the Bible as Tom had never before
heard. At first, she read to please her humble friend; but soon
her own earnest nature threw out its tendrils, and wound itself
around the majestic book; and Eva loved it, because it woke in her
strange yearnings, and strong, dim emotions, such as impassioned,
imaginative children love to feel.
The parts that pleased her most were the Revelations and the
Prophecies,--parts whose dim and wondrous imagery, and fervent
language, impressed her the more, that she questioned vainly of
their meaning;--and she and her simple friend, the old child and
the young one, felt just alike about it. All that they knew was,
that they spoke of a glory to be revealed,--a wondrous something
yet to come, wherein their soul rejoiced, yet knew not why; and
though it be not so in the physical, yet in moral science that
which cannot be understood is not always profitless. For the soul
awakes, a trembling stranger, between two dim eternities,--the
eternal past, the eternal future. The light shines only on a small
space around her; therefore, she needs must yearn towards the
unknown; and the voices and shadowy movings which come to her from
out the cloudy pillar of inspiration have each one echoes and
answers in her own expecting nature. Its mystic imagery are so
many talismans and gems inscribed with unknown hieroglyphics; she
folds them in her bosom, and expects to read them when she passes
beyond the veil.
At this time in our story, the whole St. Clare establishment is,
for the time being, removed to their villa on Lake Pontchartrain.
The heats of summer had driven all who were able to leave the
sultry and unhealthy city, to seek the shores of the lake, and
its cool sea-breezes.
St. Clare's villa was an East Indian cottage, surrounded by
light verandahs of bamboo-work, and opening on all sides into
gardens and pleasure-grounds. The common sitting-room opened on
to a large garden, fragrant with every picturesque plant and flower
of the tropics, where winding paths ran down to the very shores of
the lake, whose silvery sheet of water lay there, rising and falling
in the sunbeams,--a picture never for an hour the same, yet every
hour more beautiful.
It is now one of those intensely golden sunsets which kindles
the whole horizon into one blaze of glory, and makes the water
another sky. The lake lay in rosy or golden streaks, save where
white-winged vessels glided hither and thither, like so many
spirits, and little golden stars twinkled through the glow, and
looked down at themselves as they trembled in the water.
Tom and Eva were seated on a little mossy seat, in an arbor, at
the foot of the garden. It was Sunday evening, and Eva's Bible
lay open on her knee. She read,--"And I saw a sea of glass, mingled
"Tom," said Eva, suddenly stopping, and pointing to the lake,
"there 't is."
"What, Miss Eva?"
"Don't you see,--there?" said the child, pointing to the
glassy water, which, as it rose and fell, reflected the golden glow
of the sky. "There's a `sea of glass, mingled with fire.'"
"True enough, Miss Eva," said Tom; and Tom sang--
"O, had I the wings of the morning,
I'd fly away to Canaan's shore;
Bright angels should convey me home,
To the new Jerusalem."
"Where do you suppose new Jerusalem is, Uncle Tom?" said Eva.
"O, up in the clouds, Miss Eva."
"Then I think I see it," said Eva. "Look in those clouds!--they
look like great gates of pearl; and you can see beyond them--far,
far off--it's all gold. Tom, sing about `spirits bright.'"
Tom sung the words of a well-known Methodist hymn,
"I see a band of spirits bright,
That taste the glories there;
They all are robed in spotless white,
And conquering palms they bear."
"Uncle Tom, I've seen _them_," said Eva.
Tom had no doubt of it at all; it did not surprise him in
the least. If Eva had told him she had been to heaven, he would
have thought it entirely probable.
"They come to me sometimes in my sleep, those spirits;"
and Eva's eyes grew dreamy, and she hummed, in a low voice,
"They are all robed in spotless white,
And conquering palms they bear."
"Uncle Tom," said Eva, "I'm going there."
"Where, Miss Eva?"
The child rose, and pointed her little hand to the sky;
the glow of evening lit her golden hair and flushed cheek with a
kind of unearthly radiance, and her eyes were bent earnestly on
"I'm going _there_," she said, "to the spirits bright, Tom;
_I'm going, before long_."
The faithful old heart felt a sudden thrust; and Tom thought
how often he had noticed, within six months, that Eva's little
hands had grown thinner, and her skin more transparent, and her
breath shorter; and how, when she ran or played in the garden,
as she once could for hours, she became soon so tired and languid.
He had heard Miss Ophelia speak often of a cough, that all her
medicaments could not cure; and even now that fervent cheek and
little hand were burning with hectic fever; and yet the thought
that Eva's words suggested had never come to him till now.
Has there ever been a child like Eva? Yes, there have been;
but their names are always on grave-stones, and their sweet smiles,
their heavenly eyes, their singular words and ways, are among the
buried treasures of yearning hearts. In how many families do you
hear the legend that all the goodness and graces of the living are
nothing to the peculiar charms of one who _is not_. It is as if
heaven had an especial band of angels, whose office it was to
sojourn for a season here, and endear to them the wayward human
heart, that they might bear it upward with them in their homeward
flight. When you see that deep, spiritual light in the eye,--when
the little soul reveals itself in words sweeter and wiser than the
ordinary words of children,--hope not to retain that child; for
the seal of heaven is on it, and the light of immortality looks
out from its eyes.
Even so, beloved Eva! fair star of thy dwelling! Thou are
passing away; but they that love thee dearest know it not.
The colloquy between Tom and Eva was interrupted by a hasty
call from Miss Ophelia.
"Eva--Eva!--why, child, the dew is falling; you mustn't be
Eva and Tom hastened in.
Miss Ophelia was old, and skilled in the tactics of nursing.
She was from New England, and knew well the first guileful footsteps
of that soft, insidious disease, which sweeps away so many of the
fairest and loveliest, and, before one fibre of life seems broken,
seals them irrevocably for death.
She had noted the slight, dry cough, the daily brightening cheek;
nor could the lustre of the eye, and the airy buoyancy born of
fever, deceive her.
She tried to communicate her fears to St. Clare; but he threw
back her suggestions with a restless petulance, unlike his
usual careless good-humor.
"Don't be croaking, Cousin,--I hate it!" he would say;
"don't you see that the child is only growing. Children always
lose strength when they grow fast."
"But she has that cough!"
"O! nonsense of that cough!--it is not anything. She has
taken a little cold, perhaps."
"Well, that was just the way Eliza Jane was taken, and
Ellen and Maria Sanders."
"O! stop these hobgoblin' nurse legends. You old hands got
so wise, that a child cannot cough, or sneeze, but you see
desperation and ruin at hand. Only take care of the child, keep
her from the night air, and don't let her play too hard, and she'll
do well enough."
So St. Clare said; but he grew nervous and restless. He watched
Eva feverishly day by day, as might be told by the frequency
with which he repeated over that "the child was quite well"--that
there wasn't anything in that cough,--it was only some little
stomach affection, such as children often had. But he kept by her
more than before, took her oftener to ride with him, brought home
every few days some receipt or strengthening mixture,--"not," he
said, "that the child _needed_ it, but then it would not do her
If it must be told, the thing that struck a deeper pang to his
heart than anything else was the daily increasing maturity of
the child's mind and feelings. While still retaining all a child's
fanciful graces, yet she often dropped, unconsciously, words of
such a reach of thought, and strange unworldly wisdom, that they
seemed to be an inspiration. At such times, St. Clare would feel
a sudden thrill, and clasp her in his arms, as if that fond clasp
could save her; and his heart rose up with wild determination to
keep her, never to let her go.
The child's whole heart and soul seemed absorbed in works
of love and kindness. Impulsively generous she had always been;
but there was a touching and womanly thoughtfulness about her now,
that every one noticed. She still loved to play with Topsy, and
the various colored children; but she now seemed rather a spectator
than an actor of their plays, and she would sit for half an hour
at a time, laughing at the odd tricks of Topsy,--and then a shadow
would seem to pass across her face, her eyes grew misty, and her
thoughts were afar.
"Mamma," she said, suddenly, to her mother, one day, "why
don't we teach our servants to read?"
"What a question child! People never do."
"Why don't they?" said Eva.
"Because it is no use for them to read. It don't help them
to work any better, and they are not made for anything else."
"But they ought to read the Bible, mamma, to learn God's will."
"O! they can get that read to them all _they_ need."
"It seems to me, mamma, the Bible is for every one to read
themselves. They need it a great many times when there is nobody
to read it."
"Eva, you are an odd child," said her mother.
"Miss Ophelia has taught Topsy to read," continued Eva.
"Yes, and you see how much good it does. Topsy is the
worst creature I ever saw!"
"Here's poor Mammy!" said Eva. "She does love the Bible
so much, and wishes so she could read! And what will she do when
I can't read to her?"
Marie was busy, turning over the contents of a drawer, as
"Well, of course, by and by, Eva, you will have other things to
think of besides reading the Bible round to servants. Not but
that is very proper; I've done it myself, when I had health.
But when you come to be dressing and going into company, you won't
have time. See here!" she added, "these jewels I'm going to give
you when you come out. I wore them to my first ball. I can tell
you, Eva, I made a sensation."
Eva took the jewel-case, and lifted from it a diamond necklace.
Her large, thoughtful eyes rested on them, but it was plain her
thoughts were elsewhere.
"How sober you look child!" said Marie.
"Are these worth a great deal of money, mamma?"
"To be sure, they are. Father sent to France for them.
They are worth a small fortune."
"I wish I had them," said Eva, "to do what I pleased with!"
"What would you do with them?"
"I'd sell them, and buy a place in the free states, and take
all our people there, and hire teachers, to teach them to read
Eva was cut short by her mother's laughing.
"Set up a boarding-school! Wouldn't you teach them to play
on the piano, and paint on velvet?"
"I'd teach them to read their own Bible, and write their own
letters, and read letters that are written to them," said Eva,
steadily. "I know, mamma, it does come very hard on them that they
can't do these things. Tom feels it--Mammy does,--a great many of
them do. I think it's wrong."
"Come, come, Eva; you are only a child! You don't know anything
about these things," said Marie; "besides, your talking makes my
Marie always had a headache on hand for any conversation
that did not exactly suit her.
Eva stole away; but after that, she assiduously gave Mammy
About this time, St. Clare's brother Alfred, with his eldest son,
a boy of twelve, spent a day or two with the family at the lake.
No sight could be more singular and beautiful than that of these
twin brothers. Nature, instead of instituting resemblances between
them, had made them opposites on every point; yet a mysterious tie
seemed to unite them in a closer friendship than ordinary.
They used to saunter, arm in arm, up and down the alleys
and walks of the garden. Augustine, with his blue eyes and golden
hair, his ethereally flexible form and vivacious features; and
Alfred, dark-eyed, with haughty Roman profile, firmly-knit limbs,
and decided bearing. They were always abusing each other's opinions
and practices, and yet never a whit the less absorbed in each
other's society; in fact, the very contrariety seemed to unite
them, like the attraction between opposite poles of the magnet.
Henrique, the eldest son of Alfred, was a noble, dark-eyed,
princely boy, full of vivacity and spirit; and, from the first
moment of introduction, seemed to be perfectly fascinated by the
spirituelle graces of his cousin Evangeline.
Eva had a little pet pony, of a snowy whiteness. It was
easy as a cradle, and as gentle as its little mistress; and this
pony was now brought up to the back verandah by Tom, while a little
mulatto boy of about thirteen led along a small black Arabian,
which had just been imported, at a great expense, for Henrique.
Henrique had a boy's pride in his new possession; and, as he
advanced and took the reins out of the hands of his little groom,
he looked carefully over him, and his brow darkened.
"What's this, Dodo, you little lazy dog! you haven't rubbed
my horse down, this morning."
"Yes, Mas'r," said Dodo, submissively; "he got that dust
on his own self."
"You rascal, shut your mouth!" said Henrique, violently
raising his riding-whip. "How dare you speak?"
The boy was a handsome, bright-eyed mulatto, of just
Henrique's size, and his curling hair hung round a high, bold
forehead. He had white blood in his veins, as could be seen by
the quick flush in his cheek, and the sparkle of his eye, as he
eagerly tried to speak.
"Mas'r Henrique!--" he began.
Henrique struck him across the face with his riding-whip, and,
seizing one of his arms, forced him on to his knees, and beat
him till he was out of breath.
"There, you impudent dog! Now will you learn not to answer
back when I speak to you? Take the horse back, and clean
him properly. I'll teach you your place!"
"Young Mas'r," said Tom, "I specs what he was gwine to say was,
that the horse would roll when he was bringing him up from
the stable; he's so full of spirits,--that's the way he got that
dirt on him; I looked to his cleaning."
"You hold your tongue till you're asked to speak!" said
Henrique, turning on his heel, and walking up the steps to speak
to Eva, who stood in her riding-dress.
"Dear Cousin, I'm sorry this stupid fellow has kept you
waiting," he said. "Let's sit down here, on this seat till
they come. What's the matter, Cousin?--you look sober."
"How could you be so cruel and wicked to poor Dodo?" asked Eva.
"Cruel,--wicked!" said the boy, with unaffected surprise.
"What do you mean, dear Eva?"
"I don't want you to call me dear Eva, when you do so,"
"Dear Cousin, you don't know Dodo; it's the only way to manage
him, he's so full of lies and excuses. The only way is to put
him down at once,--not let him open his mouth; that's the way
"But Uncle Tom said it was an accident, and he never tells
what isn't true."
"He's an uncommon old nigger, then!" said Henrique. "Dodo will
lie as fast as he can speak."
"You frighten him into deceiving, if you treat him so."
"Why, Eva, you've really taken such a fancy to Dodo, that
I shall be jealous."
"But you beat him,--and he didn't deserve it."
"O, well, it may go for some time when he does, and don't
get it. A few cuts never come amiss with Dodo,--he's a regular
spirit, I can tell you; but I won't beat him again before you, if
it troubles you."
Eva was not satisfied, but found it in vain to try to make
her handsome cousin understand her feelings.
Dodo soon appeared, with the horses.
"Well, Dodo, you've done pretty well, this time," said his
young master, with a more gracious air. "Come, now, and hold Miss
Eva's horse while I put her on to the saddle."
Dodo came and stood by Eva's pony. His face was troubled;
his eyes looked as if he had been crying.
Henrique, who valued himself on his gentlemanly adroitness in
all matters of gallantry, soon had his fair cousin in the saddle,
and, gathering the reins, placed them in her hands.
But Eva bent to the other side of the horse, where Dodo
was standing, and said, as he relinquished the reins,--"That's
a good boy, Dodo;--thank you!"
Dodo looked up in amazement into the sweet young face; the
blood rushed to his cheeks, and the tears to his eyes.
"Here, Dodo," said his master, imperiously.
Dodo sprang and held the horse, while his master mounted.
"There's a picayune for you to buy candy with, Dodo," said
Henrique; "go get some."
And Henrique cantered down the walk after Eva. Dodo stood
looking after the two children. One had given him money; and one
had given him what he wanted far more,--a kind word, kindly spoken.
Dodo had been only a few months away from his mother. His master
had bought him at a slave warehouse, for his handsome face, to be
a match to the handsome pony; and he was now getting his breaking
in, at the hands of his young master.
The scene of the beating had been witnessed by the two
brothers St. Clare, from another part of the garden.
Augustine's cheek flushed; but he only observed, with his
usual sarcastic carelessness.
"I suppose that's what we may call republican education, Alfred?"
"Henrique is a devil of a fellow, when his blood's up,"
said Alfred, carelessly.
"I suppose you consider this an instructive practice for
him," said Augustine, drily.
"I couldn't help it, if I didn't. Henrique is a regular
little tempest;--his mother and I have given him up, long ago.
But, then, that Dodo is a perfect sprite,--no amount of whipping
can hurt him."
"And this by way of teaching Henrique the first verse of
a republican's catechism, `All men are born free and equal!'"
"Poh!" said Alfred; "one of Tom Jefferson's pieces of French
sentiment and humbug. It's perfectly ridiculous to have that going
the rounds among us, to this day."
"I think it is," said St. Clare, significantly.
"Because," said Alfred, "we can see plainly enough that all men
are _not_ born free, nor born equal; they are born anything else.
For my part, I think half this republican talk sheer humbug.
It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the refined, who
ought to have equal rights and not the canaille."
"If you can keep the canaille of that opinion," said Augustine.
"They took _their_ turn once, in France."
"Of course, they must be _kept down_, consistently, steadily,
as I _should_," said Alfred, setting his foot hard down as if he
were standing on somebody.
"It makes a terrible slip when they get up," said
Augustine,--"in St. Domingo, for instance."
"Poh!" said Alfred, "we'll take care of that, in this country.
We must set our face against all this educating, elevating talk,
that is getting about now; the lower class must not be educated."
"That is past praying for," said Augustine; "educated they will
be, and we have only to say how. Our system is educating them
in barbarism and brutality. We are breaking all humanizing ties,
and making them brute beasts; and, if they get the upper hand, such
we shall find them."
"They shall never get the upper hand!" said Alfred.
"That's right," said St. Clare; "put on the steam, fasten
down the escape-valve, and sit on it, and see where you'll land."
"Well," said Alfred, "we _will_ see. I'm not afraid to sit
on the escape-valve, as long as the boilers are strong, and
the machinery works well."
"The nobles in Louis XVI.'s time thought just so; and Austria
and Pius IX. think so now; and, some pleasant morning, you
may all be caught up to meet each other in the air, _when the
"_Dies declarabit_," said Alfred, laughing.
"I tell you," said Augustine, "if there is anything that is
revealed with the strength of a divine law in our times, it is that
the masses are to rise, and the under class become the upper one."
"That's one of your red republican humbugs, Augustine! Why didn't
you ever take to the stump;--you'd make a famous stump orator!
Well, I hope I shall be dead before this millennium of your greasy
masses comes on."
"Greasy or not greasy, they will govern _you_, when their
time comes," said Augustine; "and they will be just such rulers as
you make them. The French noblesse chose to have the people `_sans
culottes_,' and they had `_sans culotte_' governors to their hearts'
content. The people of Hayti--"
"O, come, Augustine! as if we hadn't had enough of that abominable,
contemptible Hayti! The Haytiens were not Anglo Saxons; if
they had been there would have been another story. The Anglo
Saxon is the dominant race of the world, and _is to be so_."
 In August 1791, as a consequence of the French Revolution,
the black slaves and mulattoes on Haiti rose in revolt against the
whites, and in the period of turmoil that followed enormous cruelties
were practised by both sides. The "Emperor" Dessalines, come to
power in 1804, massacred all the whites on the island. Haitian
bloodshed became an argument to show the barbarous nature of the
Negro, a doctrine Wendell Phillips sought to combat in his celebrated
lecture on Toussaint L'Ouverture.
"Well, there is a pretty fair infusion of Anglo Saxon blood
among our slaves, now," said Augustine. "There are plenty among
them who have only enough of the African to give a sort of tropical
warmth and fervor to our calculating firmness and foresight.
If ever the San Domingo hour comes, Anglo Saxon blood will lead on
the day. Sons of white fathers, with all our haughty feelings
burning in their veins, will not always be bought and sold and
traded. They will rise, and raise with them their mother's race."
"Well," said Augustine, "there goes an old saying to this
effect, `As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be;--they ate,
they drank, they planted, they builded, and knew not till the flood
came and took them.'"
"On the whole, Augustine, I think your talents might do for
a circuit rider," said Alfred, laughing. "Never you fear for
us; possession is our nine points. We've got the power. This
subject race," said he, stamping firmly, "is down and shall _stay_
down! We have energy enough to manage our own powder."
"Sons trained like your Henrique will be grand guardians of your
powder-magazines," said Augustine,--"so cool and self-possessed!
The proverb says, "`They that cannot govern themselves cannot
"There is a trouble there" said Alfred, thoughtfully;
"there's no doubt that our system is a difficult one to train
children under. It gives too free scope to the passions, altogether,
which, in our climate, are hot enough. I find trouble with Henrique.
The boy is generous and warm-hearted, but a perfect fire-cracker
when excited. I believe I shall send him North for his education,
where obedience is more fashionable, and where he will associate
more with equals, and less with dependents."
"Since training children is the staple work of the human race,"
said Augustine, "I should think it something of a consideration
that our system does not work well there."
"It does not for some things," said Alfred; "for others, again,
it does. It makes boys manly and courageous; and the very
vices of an abject race tend to strengthen in them the opposite
virtues. I think Henrique, now, has a keener sense of the beauty
of truth, from seeing lying and deception the universal badge of
"A Christian-like view of the subject, certainly!" said Augustine.
"It's true, Christian-like or not; and is about as
Christian-like as most other things in the world," said Alfred.
"That may be," said St. Clare.
"Well, there's no use in talking, Augustine. I believe we've
been round and round this old track five hundred times, more
or less. What do you say to a game of backgammon?"
The two brothers ran up the verandah steps, and were soon seated
at a light bamboo stand, with the backgammon-board between them.
As they were setting their men, Alfred said,
"I tell you, Augustine, if I thought as you do, I should
"I dare say you would,--you are one of the doing sort,--but what?"
"Why, elevate your own servants, for a specimen," said Alfred,
with a half-scornful smile.
"You might as well set Mount AEtna on them flat, and tell
them to stand up under it, as tell me to elevate my servants under
all the superincumbent mass of society upon them. One man can do
nothing, against the whole action of a community. Education, to
do anything, must be a state education; or there must be enough
agreed in it to make a current."
"You take the first throw," said Alfred; and the brothers
were soon lost in the game, and heard no more till the scraping of
horses' feet was heard under the verandah.
"There come the children," said Augustine, rising. "Look here,
Alf! Did you ever see anything so beautiful?" And, in truth,
it _was_ a beautiful sight. Henrique, with his bold brow, and
dark, glossy curls, and glowing cheek, was laughing gayly as he
bent towards his fair cousin, as they came on. She was dressed in
a blue riding dress, with a cap of the same color. Exercise had
given a brilliant hue to her cheeks, and heightened the effect of
her singularly transparent skin, and golden hair.
"Good heavens! what perfectly dazzling beauty!" said Alfred.
"I tell you, Auguste, won't she make some hearts ache, one of
"She will, too truly,--God knows I'm afraid so!" said St.
Clare, in a tone of sudden bitterness, as he hurried down to take
her off her horse.
"Eva darling! you're not much tired?" he said, as he clasped
her in his arms.
"No, papa," said the child; but her short, hard breathing
alarmed her father.
"How could you ride so fast, dear?--you know it's bad for you."
"I felt so well, papa, and liked it so much, I forgot."
St. Clare carried her in his arms into the parlor, and laid
her on the sofa.
"Henrique, you must be careful of Eva," said he; "you
mustn't ride fast with her."
"I'll take her under my care," said Henrique, seating
himself by the sofa, and taking Eva's hand.
Eva soon found herself much better. Her father and uncle
resumed their game, and the children were left together.
"Do you know, Eva, I'm sorry papa is only going to stay two
days here, and then I shan't see you again for ever so long!
If I stay with you, I'd try to be good, and not be cross to Dodo,
and so on. I don't mean to treat Dodo ill; but, you know, I've
got such a quick temper. I'm not really bad to him, though.
I give him a picayune, now and then; and you see he dresses well.
I think, on the whole, Dodo 's pretty well off."
"Would you think you were well off, if there were not one creature
in the world near you to love you?"
"I?--Well, of course not."
"And you have taken Dodo away from all the friends he ever had,
and now he has not a creature to love him;--nobody can be good
"Well, I can't help it, as I know of. I can't get his mother
and I can't love him myself, nor anybody else, as I know of."
"Why can't you?" said Eva.
"_Love_ Dodo! Why, Eva, you wouldn't have me! I may _like_
him well enough; but you don't _love_ your servants."
"I do, indeed."
"Don't the Bible say we must love everybody?"
"O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many such things; but,
then, nobody ever thinks of doing them,--you know, Eva, nobody does."
Eva did not speak; her eyes were fixed and thoughtful for
a few moments.
"At any rate," she said, "dear Cousin, do love poor Dodo,
and be kind to him, for my sake!"
"I could love anything, for your sake, dear Cousin; for I
really think you are the loveliest creature that I ever saw!"
And Henrique spoke with an earnestness that flushed his handsome face.
Eva received it with perfect simplicity, without even a change of
feature; merely saying, "I'm glad you feel so, dear Henrique!
I hope you will remember."
The dinner-bell put an end to the interview.
Two days after this, Alfred St. Clare and Augustine parted;
and Eva, who had been stimulated, by the society of her young
cousin, to exertions beyond her strength, began to fail rapidly.
St. Clare was at last willing to call in medical advice,--a thing
from which he had always shrunk, because it was the admission of
an unwelcome truth.
But, for a day or two, Eva was so unwell as to be confined
to the house; and the doctor was called.
Marie St. Clare had taken no notice of the child's gradually
decaying health and strength, because she was completely absorbed
in studying out two or three new forms of disease to which she
believed she herself was a victim. It was the first principle of
Marie's belief that nobody ever was or could be so great a sufferer
as _herself_; and, therefore, she always repelled quite indignantly
any suggestion that any one around her could be sick. She was
always sure, in such a case, that it was nothing but laziness, or
want of energy; and that, if they had had the suffering _she_ had,
they would soon know the difference.
Miss Ophelia had several times tried to awaken her maternal
fears about Eva; but to no avail.
"I don't see as anything ails the child," she would say;
"she runs about, and plays."
"But she has a cough."
"Cough! you don't need to tell _me_ about a cough. I've always
been subject to a cough, all my days. When I was of Eva's age,
they thought I was in a consumption. Night after night, Mammy
used to sit up with me. O! Eva's cough is not anything."
"But she gets weak, and is short-breathed."
"Law! I've had that, years and years; it's only a nervous affection."
"But she sweats so, nights!"
"Well, I have, these ten years. Very often, night after night,
my clothes will be wringing wet. There won't be a dry thread
in my night-clothes and the sheets will be so that Mammy has to
hang them up to dry! Eva doesn't sweat anything like that!"
Miss Ophelia shut her mouth for a season. But, now that Eva
was fairly and visibly prostrated, and a doctor called, Marie,
all on a sudden, took a new turn.
"She knew it," she said; "she always felt it, that she was
destined to be the most miserable of mothers. Here she was, with
her wretched health, and her only darling child going down to the
grave before her eyes;"--and Marie routed up Mammy nights, and
rumpussed and scolded, with more energy than ever, all day, on the
strength of this new misery.
"My dear Marie, don't talk so!" said St. Clare. You ought
not to give up the case so, at once."
"You have not a mother's feelings, St. Clare! You never
could understand me!--you don't now."
"But don't talk so, as if it were a gone case!"
"I can't take it as indifferently as you can, St. Clare.
If _you_ don't feel when your only child is in this alarming state,
I do. It's a blow too much for me, with all I was bearing before."
"It's true," said St. Clare, "that Eva is very delicate,
_that_ I always knew; and that she has grown so rapidly as to
exhaust her strength; and that her situation is critical. But just
now she is only prostrated by the heat of the weather, and by the
excitement of her cousin's visit, and the exertions she made.
The physician says there is room for hope."
"Well, of course, if you can look on the bright side, pray do;
it's a mercy if people haven't sensitive feelings, in this world.
I am sure I wish I didn't feel as I do; it only makes me completely
wretched! I wish I _could_ be as easy as the rest of you!"
And the "rest of them" had good reason to breathe the same
prayer, for Marie paraded her new misery as the reason and apology
for all sorts of inflictions on every one about her. Every word
that was spoken by anybody, everything that was done or was not
done everywhere, was only a new proof that she was surrounded by
hard-hearted, insensible beings, who were unmindful of her peculiar
sorrows. Poor Eva heard some of these speeches; and nearly cried
her little eyes out, in pity for her mamma, and in sorrow that she
should make her so much distress.
In a week or two, there was a great improvement of
symptoms,--one of those deceitful lulls, by which her inexorable
disease so often beguiles the anxious heart, even on the verge of
the grave. Eva's step was again in the garden,--in the balconies;
she played and laughed again,--and her father, in a transport,
declared that they should soon have her as hearty as anybody. Miss
Ophelia and the physician alone felt no encouragement from this
illusive truce. There was one other heart, too, that felt the same
certainty, and that was the little heart of Eva. What is it that
sometimes speaks in the soul so calmly, so clearly, that its earthly
time is short? Is it the secret instinct of decaying nature, or
the soul's impulsive throb, as immortality draws on? Be it what it
may, it rested in the heart of Eva, a calm, sweet, prophetic
certainty that Heaven was near; calm as the light of sunset, sweet
as the bright stillness of autumn, there her little heart reposed,
only troubled by sorrow for those who loved her so dearly.
For the child, though nursed so tenderly, and though life was
unfolding before her with every brightness that love and wealth
could give, had no regret for herself in dying.
In that book which she and her simple old friend had read
so much together, she had seen and taken to her young heart the
image of one who loved the little child; and, as she gazed and
mused, He had ceased to be an image and a picture of the distant
past, and come to be a living, all-surrounding reality. His love
enfolded her childish heart with more than mortal tenderness; and
it was to Him, she said, she was going, and to his home.
But her heart yearned with sad tenderness for all that she
was to leave behind. Her father most,--for Eva, though she never
distinctly thought so, had an instinctive perception that she was
more in his heart than any other. She loved her mother because
she was so loving a creature, and all the selfishness that she had
seen in her only saddened and perplexed her; for she had a child's
implicit trust that her mother could not do wrong. There was
something about her that Eva never could make out; and she always
smoothed it over with thinking that, after all, it was mamma, and
she loved her very dearly indeed.
She felt, too, for those fond, faithful servants, to whom she was
as daylight and sunshine. Children do not usually generalize;
but Eva was an uncommonly mature child, and the things that she
had witnessed of the evils of the system under which they were
living had fallen, one by one, into the depths of her thoughtful,
pondering heart. She had vague longings to do something for
them,--to bless and save not only them, but all in their
condition,--longings that contrasted sadly with the feebleness of
her little frame.
"Uncle Tom," she said, one day, when she was reading to
her friend, "I can understand why Jesus _wanted_ to die for us."
"Why, Miss Eva?"
"Because I've felt so, too."
"What is it Miss Eva?--I don't understand."
"I can't tell you; but, when I saw those poor creatures on
the boat, you know, when you came up and I,--some had lost their
mothers, and some their husbands, and some mothers cried for their
little children--and when I heard about poor Prue,--oh, wasn't that
dreadful!--and a great many other times, I've felt that I would be
glad to die, if my dying could stop all this misery. _I would_
die for them, Tom, if I could," said the child, earnestly, laying
her little thin hand on his.
Tom looked at the child with awe; and when she, hearing her
father's voice, glided away, he wiped his eyes many times, as
he looked after her.
"It's jest no use tryin' to keep Miss Eva here," he said to
Mammy, whom he met a moment after. "She's got the Lord's mark
in her forehead."
"Ah, yes, yes," said Mammy, raising her hands; "I've allers
said so. She wasn't never like a child that's to live--there was
allers something deep in her eyes. I've told Missis so, many the
time; it's a comin' true,--we all sees it,--dear, little, blessed lamb!"
Eva came tripping up the verandah steps to her father. It was
late in the afternoon, and the rays of the sun formed a kind
of glory behind her, as she came forward in her white dress, with
her golden hair and glowing cheeks, her eyes unnaturally bright
with the slow fever that burned in her veins.
St. Clare had called her to show a statuette that he had been
buying for her; but her appearance, as she came on, impressed
him suddenly and painfully. There is a kind of beauty so intense,
yet so fragile, that we cannot bear to look at it. Her father
folded her suddenly in his arms, and almost forgot what he was
going to tell her.
"Eva, dear, you are better now-a-days,--are you not?"
"Papa," said Eva, with sudden firmness "I've had things I
wanted to say to you, a great while. I want to say them
now, before I get weaker."
St. Clare trembled as Eva seated herself in his lap. She laid
her head on his bosom, and said,
"It's all no use, papa, to keep it to myself any longer.
The time is coming that I am going to leave you. I am going, and
never to come back!" and Eva sobbed.
"O, now, my dear little Eva!" said St. Clare, trembling as
he spoke, but speaking cheerfully, "you've got nervous and
low-spirited; you mustn't indulge such gloomy thoughts. See here,
I've bought a statuette for you!"
"No, papa," said Eva, putting it gently away, "don't deceive
yourself!--I am _not_ any better, I know it perfectly well,--and
I am going, before long. I am not nervous,--I am not low-spirited.
If it were not for you, papa, and my friends, I should be perfectly
happy. I want to go,--I long to go!"
"Why, dear child, what has made your poor little heart so sad?
You have had everything, to make you happy, that could be
"I had rather be in heaven; though, only for my friends'
sake, I would be willing to live. There are a great many things
here that make me sad, that seem dreadful to me; I had rather be
there; but I don't want to leave you,--it almost breaks my heart!"
"What makes you sad, and seems dreadful, Eva?"
"O, things that are done, and done all the time. I feel sad
for our poor people; they love me dearly, and they are all good
and kind to me. I wish, papa, they were all _free_."
"Why, Eva, child, don't you think they are well enough off now?"
"O, but, papa, if anything should happen to you, what would
become of them? There are very few men like you, papa. Uncle Alfred
isn't like you, and mamma isn't; and then, think of poor old Prue's
owners! What horrid things people do, and can do!" and Eva shuddered.
"My dear child, you are too sensitive. I'm sorry I ever
let you hear such stories."
"O, that's what troubles me, papa. You want me to live so
happy, and never to have any pain,--never suffer anything,--not
even hear a sad story, when other poor creatures have nothing but
pain and sorrow, an their lives;--it seems selfish. I ought to
know such things, I ought to feel about them! Such things always
sunk into my heart; they went down deep; I've thought and thought
about them. Papa, isn't there any way to have all slaves made free?"
"That's a difficult question, dearest. There's no doubt that
this way is a very bad one; a great many people think so; I
do myself I heartily wish that there were not a slave in the land;
but, then, I don't know what is to be done about it!"
"Papa, you are such a good man, and so noble, and kind,
and you always have a way of saying things that is so pleasant,
couldn't you go all round and try to persuade people to do right
about this? When I am dead, papa, then you will think of me, and
do it for my sake. I would do it, if I could."
"When you are dead, Eva," said St. Clare, passionately.
"O, child, don't talk to me so! You are all I have on earth."
"Poor old Prue's child was all that she had,--and yet she
had to hear it crying, and she couldn't help it! Papa, these poor
creatures love their children as much as you do me. O! do something
for them! There's poor Mammy loves her children; I've seen her cry
when she talked about them. And Tom loves his children; and it's
dreadful, papa, that such things are happening, all the time!"
"There, there, darling," said St. Clare, soothingly; "only don't
distress yourself, don't talk of dying, and I will do anything
"And promise me, dear father, that Tom shall have his freedom
as soon as"--she stopped, and said, in a hesitating tone--"I
"Yes, dear, I will do anything in the world,--anything you
could ask me to."
"Dear papa," said the child, laying her burning cheek
against his, "how I wish we could go together!"
"Where, dearest?" said St. Clare.
"To our Saviour's home; it's so sweet and peaceful there--it
is all so loving there!" The child spoke unconsciously, as of a
place where she had often been. "Don't you want to go, papa?"
St. Clare drew her closer to him, but was silent.
"You will come to me," said the child, speaking in a voice
of calm certainty which she often used unconsciously.
"I shall come after you. I shall not forget you."
The shadows of the solemn evening closed round them deeper and
deeper, as St. Clare sat silently holding the little frail form
to his bosom. He saw no more the deep eyes, but the voice came
over him as a spirit voice, and, as in a sort of judgment vision,
his whole past life rose in a moment before his eyes: his mother's
prayers and hymns; his own early yearnings and aspirings for good;
and, between them and this hour, years of worldliness and scepticism,
and what man calls respectable living. We can think _much_, very
much, in a moment. St. Clare saw and felt many things, but spoke
nothing; and, as it grew darker, he took his child to her bed-room;
and, when she was prepared for rest; he sent away the attendants,
and rocked her in his arms, and sung to her till she was asleep.
The Little Evangelist
It was Sunday afternoon. St. Clare was stretched on a bamboo lounge
in the verandah, solacing himself with a cigar. Marie lay reclined
on a sofa, opposite the window opening on the verandah, closely
secluded, under an awning of transparent gauze, from the outrages
of the mosquitos, and languidly holding in her hand an elegantly
bound prayer-book. She was holding it because it was Sunday, and
she imagined she had been reading it,--though, in fact, she had
been only taking a succession of short naps, with it open in her hand.
Miss Ophelia, who, after some rummaging, had hunted up a small
Methodist meeting within riding distance, had gone out, with
Tom as driver, to attend it; and Eva had accompanied them.
"I say, Augustine," said Marie after dozing a while, "I must
send to the city after my old Doctor Posey; I'm sure I've got
the complaint of the heart."
"Well; why need you send for him? This doctor that attends
Eva seems skilful."
"I would not trust him in a critical case," said Marie;
"and I think I may say mine is becoming so! I've been thinking of
it, these two or three nights past; I have such distressing pains,
and such strange feelings."
"O, Marie, you are blue; I don't believe it's heart complaint."
"I dare say _you_ don't," said Marie; "I was prepared to
expect _that_. You can be alarmed enough, if Eva coughs, or has
the least thing the matter with her; but you never think of me."
"If it's particularly agreeable to you to have heart disease,
why, I'll try and maintain you have it," said St. Clare; "I didn't
know it was."
"Well, I only hope you won't be sorry for this, when it's
too late!" said Marie; "but, believe it or not, my distress about
Eva, and the exertions I have made with that dear child, have
developed what I have long suspected."
What the _exertions_ were which Marie referred to, it would
have been difficult to state. St. Clare quietly made this commentary
to himself, and went on smoking, like a hard-hearted wretch of a
man as he was, till a carriage drove up before the verandah, and
Eva and Miss Ophelia alighted.
Miss Ophelia marched straight to her own chamber, to put
away her bonnet and shawl, as was always her manner, before she
spoke a word on any subject; while Eva came, at St: Clare's call,
and was sitting on his knee, giving him an account of the services
they had heard.
They soon heard loud exclamations from Miss Ophelia's room,
which, like the one in which they were sitting, opened on to the
verandah and violent reproof addressed to somebody.
"What new witchcraft has Tops been brewing?" asked St. Clare.
"That commotion is of her raising, I'll be bound!"
And, in a moment after, Miss Ophelia, in high indignation,
came dragging the culprit along.
"Come out here, now!" she said. "I _will_ tell your master!"
"What's the case now?" asked Augustine.
"The case is, that I cannot be plagued with this child,
any longer! It's past all bearing; flesh and blood cannot
endure it! Here, I locked her up, and gave her a hymn to
study; and what does she do, but spy out where I put my key, and
has gone to my bureau, and got a bonnet-trimming, and cut it all
to pieces to make dolls'jackets! I never saw anything like it,
in my life!"
"I told you, Cousin," said Marie, "that you'd find out that
these creatures can't be brought up without severity. If I had
_my_ way, now," she said, looking reproachfully at St. Clare, "I'd
send that child out, and have her thoroughly whipped; I'd have her
whipped till she couldn't stand!"
"I don't doubt it," said St. Clare. "Tell me of the lovely
rule of woman! I never saw above a dozen women that wouldn't half
kill a horse, or a servant, either, if they had their own way with
them!--let alone a man."
"There is no use in this shilly-shally way of yours, St. Clare!"
said Marie. "Cousin is a woman of sense, and she sees it now,
as plain as I do."
Miss Ophelia had just the capability of indignation that belongs
to the thorough-paced housekeeper, and this had been pretty
actively roused by the artifice and wastefulness of the child; in
fact, many of my lady readers must own that they should have felt
just so in her circumstances; but Marie's words went beyond her,
and she felt less heat.
"I wouldn't have the child treated so, for the world," she
said; "but, I am sure, Augustine, I don't know what to do. I've
taught and taught; I've talked till I'm tired; I've whipped her;
I've punished her in every way I can think of, and she's just what
she was at first."
"Come here, Tops, you monkey!" said St. Clare, calling the
child up to him.
Topsy came up; her round, hard eyes glittering and blinking
with a mixture of apprehensiveness and their usual odd drollery.
"What makes you behave so?" said St. Clare, who could not help
being amused with the child's expression.
"Spects it's my wicked heart," said Topsy, demurely; "Miss
Feely says so."
"Don't you see how much Miss Ophelia has done for you? She says
she has done everything she can think of."
"Lor, yes, Mas'r! old Missis used to say so, too. She whipped
me a heap harder, and used to pull my har, and knock my head
agin the door; but it didn't do me no good! I spects, if they
's to pull every spire o' har out o' my head, it wouldn't do no
good, neither,--I 's so wicked! Laws! I 's nothin but a nigger,
"Well, I shall have to give her up," said Miss Ophelia; "I can't
have that trouble any longer."
"Well, I'd just like to ask one question," said St. Clare.
"What is it?"
"Why, if your Gospel is not strong enough to save one
heathen child, that you can have at home here, all to yourself,
what's the use of sending one or two poor missionaries off with it
among thousands of just such? I suppose this child is about a fair
sample of what thousands of your heathen are."
Miss Ophelia did not make an immediate answer; and Eva,
who had stood a silent spectator of the scene thus far, made a
silent sign to Topsy to follow her. There was a little glass-room
at the corner of the verandah, which St. Clare used as a sort of
reading-room; and Eva and Topsy disappeared into this place.
"What's Eva going about, now?" said St. Clare; "I mean to see."
And, advancing on tiptoe, he lifted up a curtain that
covered the glass-door, and looked in. In a moment, laying his
finger on his lips, he made a silent gesture to Miss Ophelia to
come and look. There sat the two children on the floor, with their
side faces towards them. Topsy, with her usual air of careless
drollery and unconcern; but, opposite to her, Eva, her whole face
fervent with feeling, and tears in her large eyes.
"What does make you so bad, Topsy? Why won't you try and
be good? Don't you love _anybody_, Topsy?"
"Donno nothing 'bout love; I loves candy and sich, that's all,"
"But you love your father and mother?"
"Never had none, ye know. I telled ye that, Miss Eva."
"O, I know," said Eva, sadly; "but hadn't you any brother,
or sister, or aunt, or--"
"No, none on 'em,--never had nothing nor nobody."
"But, Topsy, if you'd only try to be good, you might--"
"Couldn't never be nothin' but a nigger, if I was ever so
good," said Topsy. "If I could be skinned, and come white, I'd