Darmowy fragment publikacji:
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Chata wuja Toma
Polska wersja językowa w tłumaczeniu anonimowego tłumacza z roku 1922.
Angielska wersja językowa zgodna z wydaniem z roku 1852.
Ilustracja na okładce: Edwin Longsden Long
Ilustracje w treści książki: J.H.Gallard
Wydawnictwo Wymownia, 2017
Uncle Tom s Cabin
IN WHICH THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO A MAN OF HUMANITY
Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their
wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P——, in Kentucky. There were no
servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing
some subject with great earnestness.
For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties, however,
when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a
short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of
pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world. He
was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly
with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of
the man. His hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a
heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of
colors, attached to it,—which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing
and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy defiance of
Murray s Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane
expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to
His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the arrrangements of the
house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent
circumstances. As we before stated, the two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.
That is the way I should arrange the matter, said Mr. Shelby.
I can t make trade that way—I positively can t, Mr. Shelby, said the other, holding up a
glass of wine between his eye and the light.
Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum
anywhere,—steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock.
You mean honest, as niggers go, said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.
No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at a camp-
meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I ve trusted him, since then, with
everything I have,—money, house, horses,—and let him come and go round the country; and
I always found him true and square in everything.
Some folks don t believe there is pious niggers Shelby, said Haley, with a candid flourish of
his hand, but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans— t was as good as
a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He
fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man that was bliged to sell out; so I
realized six hundred on him. Yes, I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it s
the genuine article, and no mistake.
Well, Tom s got the real article, if ever a fellow had, rejoined the other. Why, last fall, I let
him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five hundred dollars. Tom,
says I to him, I trust you, because I think you re a Christian—I know you wouldn t cheat.
Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him—
Tom, why don t you make tracks for Canada? Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn t, —they
told me about it. I am sorry to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the
whole balance of the debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience.
Well, I ve got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep,—just a
little, you know, to swear by, as t were, said the trader, jocularly; and, then, I m ready to do
anything in reason to blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow—a
leetle too hard. The trader sighed contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.
Well, then, Haley, how will you trade? said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of silence.
Well, haven t you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?
Hum!—none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, it s only hard necessity makes me
willing to sell at all. I don t like parting with any of my hands, that s a fact.
Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of age, entered
the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His
black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round, dimpled face, while a pair
of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as
he peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made
and neatly fitted, set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic
air of assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to being
petted and noticed by his master.
Hulloa, Jim Crow! said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins towards him,
pick that up, now!
The child scampered, with all his little strength, after the prize, while his master laughed.
Come here, Jim Crow, said he. The child came up, and the master patted the curly head, and
chucked him under the chin.
Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing. The boy commenced one of
those wild, grotesque songs common among the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying
his singing with many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in perfect time
to the music.
Bravo! said Haley, throwing him a quarter of an orange.
Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle Cudjoe, when he has the rheumatism, said his master.
Instantly the flexible limbs of the child assumed the appearance of deformity and distortion,
as, with his back humped up, and his master s stick in his hand, he hobbled about the room,
his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker, and spitting from right to left, in imitation of an
Both gentlemen laughed uproariously.
Now, Jim, said his master, show us how old Elder Robbins leads the psalm. The boy drew
his chubby face down to a formidable length, and commenced toning a psalm tune through his
nose, with imperturbable gravity.
Hurrah! bravo! what a young un! said Haley; that chap s a case, I ll promise. Tell you
what, said he, suddenly clapping his hand on Mr. Shelby s shoulder, fling in that chap, and
I ll settle the business—I will. Come, now, if that ain t doing the thing up about the rightest!
At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman, apparently
about twenty-five, entered the room.
There needed only a glance from the child to her, to identify her as its mother. There was the
same rich, full, dark eye, with its long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair. The brown
of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw
the gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress was
of the neatest possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely moulded shape;—a delicately
formed hand and a trim foot and ankle were items of appearance that did not escape the quick
eye of the trader, well used to run up at a glance the points of a fine female article.
Well, Eliza? said her master, as she stopped and looked hesitatingly at him.
I was looking for Harry, please, sir; and the boy bounded toward her, showing his spoils,
which he had gathered in the skirt of his robe.
Well, take him away then, said Mr. Shelby; and hastily she withdrew, carrying the child on
By Jupiter, said the trader, turning to him in admiration, there s an article, now! You might
make your fortune on that ar gal in Orleans, any day. I ve seen over a thousand, in my day,
paid down for gals not a bit handsomer.
I don t want to make my fortune on her, said Mr. Shelby, dryly; and, seeking to turn the
conversation, he uncorked a bottle of fresh wine, and asked his companion s opinion of it.
Capital, sir,—first chop! said the trader; then turning, and slapping his hand familiarly on
Shelby s shoulder, he added—
Come, how will you trade about the gal?—what shall I say for her—what ll you take?
Mr. Haley, she is not to be sold, said Shelby. My wife would not part with her for her
weight in gold.
Ay, ay! women always say such things, cause they ha nt no sort of calculation. Just show em
how many watches, feathers, and trinkets, one s weight in gold would buy, and that alters the
case, I reckon.
I tell you, Haley, this must not be spoken of; I say no, and I mean no, said Shelby,
Well, you ll let me have the boy, though, said the trader; you must own I ve come down
pretty handsomely for him.
What on earth can you want with the child? said Shelby.
Why, I ve got a friend that s going into this yer branch of the business—wants to buy up
handsome boys to raise for the market. Fancy articles entirely—sell for waiters, and so on, to
rich uns, that can pay for handsome uns. It sets off one of yer great places—a real handsome
boy to open door, wait, and tend. They fetch a good sum; and this little devil is such a
comical, musical concern, he s just the article!
I would rather not sell him, said Mr. Shelby, thoughtfully; the fact is, sir, I m a humane
man, and I hate to take the boy from his mother, sir.
O, you do?—La! yes—something of that ar natur. I understand, perfectly. It is mighty
onpleasant getting on with women, sometimes, I al ays hates these yer screechin, screamin
times. They are mighty onpleasant; but, as I manages business, I generally avoids em, sir.
Now, what if you get the girl off for a day, or a week, or so; then the thing s done quietly,—all
over before she comes home. Your wife might get her some ear-rings, or a new gown, or
some such truck, to make up with her.
I m afraid not.
Lor bless ye, yes! These critters ain t like white folks, you know; they gets over things, only
manage right. Now, they say, said Haley, assuming a candid and confidential air, that this
kind o trade is hardening to the feelings; but I never found it so. Fact is, I never could do
things up the way some fellers manage the business. I ve seen em as would pull a woman s
child out of her arms, and set him up to sell, and she screechin like mad all the time;—very
bad policy—damages the article—makes em quite unfit for service sometimes. I knew a real
handsome gal once, in Orleans, as was entirely ruined by this sort o handling. The fellow that
was trading for her didn t want her baby; and she was one of your real high sort, when her
blood was up. I tell you, she squeezed up her child in her arms, and talked, and went on real
awful. It kinder makes my blood run cold to think of t; and when they carried off the child,
and locked her up, she jest went ravin mad, and died in a week. Clear waste, sir, of a
thousand dollars, just for want of management,—there s where t is. It s always best to do the
humane thing, sir; that s been my experience. And the trader leaned back in his chair, and
folded his arm, with an air of virtuous decision, apparently considering himself a second
The subject appeared to interest the gentleman deeply; for while Mr. Shelby was thoughtfully
peeling an orange, Haley broke out afresh, with becoming diffidence, but as if actually driven
by the force of truth to say a few words more.
It don t look well, now, for a feller to be praisin himself; but I say it jest because it s the
truth. I believe I m reckoned to bring in about the finest droves of niggers that is brought in,—
at least, I ve been told so; if I have once, I reckon I have a hundred times,—all in good case,—
fat and likely, and I lose as few as any man in the business. And I lays it all to my
management, sir; and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great pillar of my management.
Mr. Shelby did not know what to say, and so he said, Indeed!
Now, I ve been laughed at for my notions, sir, and I ve been talked to. They an t pop lar, and
they an t common; but I stuck to em, sir; I ve stuck to em, and realized well on em; yes, sir,
they have paid their passage, I may say, and the trader laughed at his joke.
There was something so piquant and original in these elucidations of humanity, that Mr.
Shelby could not help laughing in company. Perhaps you laugh too, dear reader; but you
know humanity comes out in a variety of strange forms now-a-days, and there is no end to the
odd things that humane people will say and do.
Mr. Shelby s laugh encouraged the trader to proceed.
It s strange, now, but I never could beat this into people s heads. Now, there was Tom Loker,
my old partner, down in Natchez; he was a clever fellow, Tom was, only the very devil with
niggers,—on principle t was, you see, for a better hearted feller never broke bread; t was his
system, sir. I used to talk to Tom. Why, Tom, I used to say, when your gals takes on and cry,
what s the use o crackin on em over the head, and knockin on em round? It s ridiculous,
says I, and don t do no sort o good. Why, I don t see no harm in their cryin , says I; it s natur,
says I, and if natur can t blow off one way, it will another. Besides, Tom, says I, it jest spiles
your gals; they get sickly, and down in the mouth; and sometimes they gets ugly,—particular
yallow gals do,—and it s the devil and all gettin on em broke in. Now, says I, why can t you
kinder coax em up, and speak em fair? Depend on it, Tom, a little humanity, thrown in along,
goes a heap further than all your jawin and crackin ; and it pays better, says I, depend on t.
But Tom couldn t get the hang on t; and he spiled so many for me, that I had to break off with
him, though he was a good-hearted fellow, and as fair a business hand as is goin .
And do you find your ways of managing do the business better than Tom s? said Mr.
Why, yes, sir, I may say so. You see, when I any ways can, I takes a leetle care about the
onpleasant parts, like selling young uns and that,—get the gals out of the way—out of sight,
out of mind, you know,—and when it s clean done, and can t be helped, they naturally gets
used to it. Tan t, you know, as if it was white folks, that s brought up in the way of spectin to
keep their children and wives, and all that. Niggers, you know, that s fetched up properly,
ha n t no kind of spectations of no kind; so all these things comes easier.
I m afraid mine are not properly brought up, then, said Mr. Shelby.
S pose not; you Kentucky folks spile your niggers. You mean well by em, but tan t no real
kindness, arter all. Now, a nigger, you see, what s got to be hacked and tumbled round the
world, and sold to Tom, and Dick, and the Lord knows who, tan t no kindness to be givin on
him notions and expectations, and bringin on him up too well, for the rough and tumble
comes all the harder on him arter. Now, I venture to say, your niggers would be quite chop-
fallen in a place where some of your plantation niggers would be singing and whooping like
all possessed. Every man, you know, Mr. Shelby, naturally thinks well of his own ways; and I
think I treat niggers just about as well as it s ever worth while to treat em.
It s a happy thing to be satisfied, said Mr. Shelby, with a slight shrug, and some perceptible
feelings of a disagreeable nature.
Well, said Haley, after they had both silently picked their nuts for a season, what do you
I ll think the matter over, and talk with my wife, said Mr. Shelby. Meantime, Haley, if you
want the matter carried on in the quiet way you speak of, you d best not let your business in
this neighborhood be known. It will get out among my boys, and it will not be a particularly
quiet business getting away any of my fellows, if they know it, I ll promise you.
O! certainly, by all means, mum! of course. But I ll tell you. I m in a devil of a hurry, and
shall want to know, as soon as possible, what I may depend on, said he, rising and putting on
Well, call up this evening, between six and seven, and you shall have my answer, said Mr.
Shelby, and the trader bowed himself out of the apartment.
I d like to have been able to kick the fellow down the steps, said he to himself, as he saw the
door fairly closed, with his impudent assurance; but he knows how much he has me at
advantage. If anybody had ever said to me that I should sell Tom down south to one of those
rascally traders, I should have said, Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing? And
now it must come, for aught I see. And Eliza s child, too! I know that I shall have some fuss
with wife about that; and, for that matter, about Tom, too. So much for being in debt,—
heigho! The fellow sees his advantage, and means to push it.
Perhaps the mildest form of the system of slavery is to be seen in the State of Kentucky. The
general prevalence of agricultural pursuits of a quiet and gradual nature, not requiring those
periodic seasons of hurry and pressure that are called for in the business of more southern
districts, makes the task of the negro a more healthful and reasonable one; while the master,
content with a more gradual style of acquisition, has not those temptations to hardheartedness
which always overcome frail human nature when the prospect of sudden and rapid gain is
weighed in the balance, with no heavier counterpoise than the interests of the helpless and
Whoever visits some estates there, and witnesses the good-humored indulgence of some
masters and mistresses, and the affectionate loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to
dream the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal institution, and all that; but over and above
the scene there broods a portentous shadow—the shadow of law. So long as the law considers
all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things
belonging to a master,—so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the
kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence
for one of hopeless misery and toil,—so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or
desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery.
Mr. Shelby was a fair average kind of man, good-natured and kindly, and disposed to easy
indulgence of those around him, and there had never been a lack of anything which might
contribute to the physical comfort of the negroes on his estate. He had, however, speculated
largely and quite loosely; had involved himself deeply, and his notes to a large amount had
come into the hands of Haley; and this small piece of information is the key to the preceding
Now, it had so happened that, in approaching the door, Eliza had caught enough of the
conversation to know that a trader was making offers to her master for somebody.
She would gladly have stopped at the door to listen, as she came out; but her mistress just then
calling, she was obliged to hasten away.
Still she thought she heard the trader make an offer for her boy;—could she be mistaken? Her
heart swelled and throbbed, and she involuntarily strained him so tight that the little fellow
looked up into her face in astonishment.
Eliza, girl, what ails you today? said her mistress, when Eliza had upset the wash-pitcher,
knocked down the workstand, and finally was abstractedly offering her mistress a long
nightgown in place of the silk dress she had ordered her to bring from the wardrobe.
Eliza started. O, missis! she said, raising her eyes; then, bursting into tears, she sat down in
a chair, and began sobbing.
Why, Eliza child, what ails you? said her mistress.
O! missis, missis, said Eliza, there s been a trader talking with master in the parlor! I heard
Well, silly child, suppose there has.
O, missis, do you suppose mas r would sell my Harry? And the poor creature threw herself
into a chair, and sobbed convulsively.
Sell him! No, you foolish girl! You know your master never deals with those southern
traders, and never means to sell any of his servants, as long as they behave well. Why, you
silly child, who do you think would want to buy your Harry? Do you think all the world are
set on him as you are, you goosie? Come, cheer up, and hook my dress. There now, put my
back hair up in that pretty braid you learnt the other day, and don t go listening at doors any
Well, but, missis, you never would give your consent—to—to—
Nonsense, child! to be sure, I shouldn t. What do you talk so for? I would as soon have one
of my own children sold. But really, Eliza, you are getting altogether too proud of that little
fellow. A man can t put his nose into the door, but you think he must be coming to buy him.
Reassured by her mistress confident tone, Eliza proceeded nimbly and adroitly with her toilet,
laughing at her own fears, as she proceeded.
Mrs. Shelby was a woman of high class, both intellectually and morally. To that natural
magnanimity and generosity of mind which one often marks as characteristic of the women of
Kentucky, she added high moral and religious sensibility and principle, carried out with great
energy and ability into practical results. Her husband, who made no professions to any
particular religious character, nevertheless reverenced and respected the consistency of hers,
and stood, perhaps, a little in awe of her opinion. Certain it was that he gave her unlimited
scope in all her benevolent efforts for the comfort, instruction, and improvement of her
servants, though he never took any decided part in them himself. In fact, if not exactly a
believer in the doctrine of the efficiency of the extra good works of saints, he really seemed
somehow or other to fancy that his wife had piety and benevolence enough for two—to
indulge a shadowy expectation of getting into heaven through her superabundance of qualities
to which he made no particular pretension.
The heaviest load on his mind, after his conversation with the trader, lay in the foreseen
necessity of breaking to his wife the arrangement contemplated,—meeting the importunities
and opposition which he knew he should have reason to encounter.
Mrs. Shelby, being entirely ignorant of her husband s embarrassments, and knowing only the
general kindliness of his temper, had been quite sincere in the entire incredulity with which
she had met Eliza s suspicions. In fact, she dismissed the matter from her mind, without a
second thought; and being occupied in preparations for an evening visit, it passed out of her
Eliza had been brought up by her mistress, from girlhood, as a petted and indulged favorite.
The traveller in the south must often have remarked that peculiar air of refinement, that
softness of voice and manner, which seems in many cases to be a particular gift to the
quadroon and mulatto women. These natural graces in the quadroon are often united with
beauty of the most dazzling kind, and in almost every case with a personal appearance
prepossessing and agreeable. Eliza, such as we have described her, is not a fancy sketch, but
taken from remembrance, as we saw her, years ago, in Kentucky. Safe under the protecting
care of her mistress, Eliza had reached maturity without those temptations which make beauty
so fatal an inheritance to a slave. She had been married to a bright and talented young mulatto
man, who was a slave on a neighboring estate, and bore the name of George Harris.
This young man had been hired out by his master to work in a bagging factory, where his
adroitness and ingenuity caused him to be considered the first hand in the place. He had
invented a machine for the cleaning of the hemp, which, considering the education and
circumstances of the inventor, displayed quite as much mechanical genius as Whitney s
* A machine of this description was really the invention of
a young colored man in Kentucky. [Mrs. Stowe s note.]
He was possessed of a handsome person and pleasing manners, and was a general favorite in
the factory. Nevertheless, as this young man was in the eye of the law not a man, but a thing,
all these superior qualifications were subject to the control of a vulgar, narrow-minded,
tyrannical master. This same gentleman, having heard of the fame of George s invention, took
a ride over to the factory, to see what this intelligent chattel had been about. He was received
with great enthusiasm by the employer, who congratulated him on possessing so valuable a
He was waited upon over the factory, shown the machinery by George, who, in high spirits,
talked so fluently, held himself so erect, looked so handsome and manly, that his master
began to feel an uneasy consciousness of inferiority. What business had his slave to be
marching round the country, inventing machines, and holding up his head among gentlemen?
He d soon put a stop to it. He d take him back, and put him to hoeing and digging, and see if
he d step about so smart. Accordingly, the manufacturer and all hands concerned were
astounded when he suddenly demanded George s wages, and announced his intention of
taking him home.
But, Mr. Harris, remonstrated the manufacturer, isn t this rather sudden?
What if it is?—isn t the man mine?
We would be willing, sir, to increase the rate of compensation.
No object at all, sir. I don t need to hire any of my hands out, unless I ve a mind to.
But, sir, he seems peculiarly adapted to this business.
Dare say he may be; never was much adapted to anything that I set him about, I ll be bound.
But only think of his inventing this machine, interposed one of the workmen, rather
O yes! a machine for saving work, is it? He d invent that, I ll be bound; let a nigger alone for
that, any time. They are all labor-saving machines themselves, every one of em. No, he shall
George had stood like one transfixed, at hearing his doom thus suddenly pronounced by a
power that he knew was irresistible. He folded his arms, tightly pressed in his lips, but a
whole volcano of bitter feelings burned in his bosom, and sent streams of fire through his
veins. He breathed short, and his large dark eyes flashed like live coals; and he might have
broken out into some dangerous ebullition, had not the kindly manufacturer touched him on
the arm, and said, in a low tone,
Give way, George; go with him for the present. We ll try to help you, yet.
The tyrant observed the whisper, and conjectured its import, though he could not hear what
was said; and he inwardly strengthened himself in his determination to keep the power he
possessed over his victim.
George was taken home, and put to the meanest drudgery of the farm. He had been able to
repress every disrespectful word; but the flashing eye, the gloomy and troubled brow, were
part of a natural language that could not be repressed,—indubitable signs, which showed too
plainly that the man could not become a thing.
It was during the happy period of his employment in the factory that George had seen and
married his wife. During that period,—being much trusted and favored by his employer,—he
had free liberty to come and go at discretion. The marriage was highly approved of by Mrs.
Shelby, who, with a little womanly complacency in match-making, felt pleased to unite her
handsome favorite with one of her own class who seemed in every way suited to her; and so
they were married in her mistress great parlor, and her mistress herself adorned the bride s
beautiful hair with orange-blossoms, and threw over it the bridal veil, which certainly could
scarce have rested on a fairer head; and there was no lack of white gloves, and cake and
wine,—of admiring guests to praise the bride s beauty, and her mistress indulgence and
liberality. For a year or two Eliza saw her husband frequently, and there was nothing to
interrupt their happiness, except the loss of two infant children, to whom she was passionately
attached, and whom she mourned with a grief so intense as to call for gentle remonstrance
from her mistress, who sought, with maternal anxiety, to direct her naturally passionate
feelings within the bounds of reason and religion.
After the birth of little Harry, however, she had gradually become tranquillized and settled;
and every bleeding tie and throbbing nerve, once more entwined with that little life, seemed to
become sound and healthful, and Eliza was a happy woman up to the time that her husband
was rudely torn from his kind employer, and brought under the iron sway of his legal owner.
The manufacturer, true to his word, visited Mr. Harris a week or two after George had been
taken away, when, as he hoped, the heat of the occasion had passed away, and tried every
possible inducement to lead him to restore him to his former employment.
You needn t trouble yourself to talk any longer, said he, doggedly; I know my own
I did not presume to interfere with it, sir. I only thought that you might think it for your
interest to let your man to us on the terms proposed.
O, I understand the matter well enough. I saw your winking and whispering, the day I took
him out of the factory; but you don t come it over me that way. It s a free country, sir; the
man s mine, and I do what I please with him,—that s it!
And so fell George s last hope;—nothing before him but a life of toil and drudgery, rendered
more bitter by every little smarting vexation and indignity which tyrannical ingenuity could
A very humane jurist once said, The worst use you can put a man to is to hang him. No; there
is another use that a man can be put to that is WORSE!
The Husband and Father
Mrs. Shelby had gone on her visit, and Eliza stood in the verandah, rather dejectedly looking
after the retreating carriage, when a hand was laid on her shoulder. She turned, and a bright
smile lighted up her fine eyes.
George, is it you? How you frightened me! Well; I am so glad you s come! Missis is gone to
spend the afternoon; so come into my little room, and we ll have the time all to ourselves.
Saying this, she drew him into a neat little apartment opening on the verandah, where she
generally sat at her sewing, within call of her mistress.
How glad I am!—why don t you smile?—and look at Harry—how he grows. The boy stood
shyly regarding his father through his curls, holding close to the skirts of his mother s dress.
Isn t he beautiful? said Eliza, lifting his long curls and kissing him.
I wish he d never been born! said George, bitterly. I wish I d never been born myself!
Surprised and frightened, Eliza sat down, leaned her head on her husband s shoulder, and
burst into tears.
There now, Eliza, it s too bad for me to make you feel so, poor girl! said he, fondly; it s too
bad: O, how I wish you never had seen me—you might have been happy!
George! George! how can you talk so? What dreadful thing has happened, or is going to
happen? I m sure we ve been very happy, till lately.
So we have, dear, said George. Then drawing his child on his knee, he gazed intently on his
glorious dark eyes, and passed his hands through his long curls.
Just like you, Eliza; and you are the handsomest woman I ever saw, and the best one I ever
wish to see; but, oh, I wish I d never seen you, nor you me!
O, George, how can you!
Yes, Eliza, it s all misery, misery, misery! My life is bitter as wormwood; the very life is
burning out of me. I m a poor, miserable, forlorn drudge; I shall only drag you down with me,
that s all. What s the use of our trying to do anything, trying to know anything, trying to be
anything? What s the use of living? I wish I was dead!
O, now, dear George, that is really wicked! I know how you feel about losing your place in
the factory, and you have a hard master; but pray be patient, and perhaps something—
Patient! said he, interrupting her; haven t I been patient? Did I say a word when he came
and took me away, for no earthly reason, from the place where everybody was kind to me? I d
paid him truly every cent of my earnings,—and they all say I worked well.
Well, it is dreadful, said Eliza; but, after all, he is your master, you know.
My master! and who made him my master? That s what I think of—what right has he to me?
I m a man as much as he is. I m a better man than he is. I know more about business than he
does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better
hand,—and I ve learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,—I ve learned it in spite of him;
and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?—to take me from things I can do, and
do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do? He tries to do it; he says he ll
bring me down and humble me, and he puts me to just the hardest, meanest and dirtiest work,
O, George! George! you frighten me! Why, I never heard you talk so; I m afraid you ll do
something dreadful. I don t wonder at your feelings, at all; but oh, do be careful—do, do—for
my sake—for Harry s!
I have been careful, and I have been patient, but it s growing worse and worse; flesh and
blood can t bear it any longer;—every chance he can get to insult and torment me, he takes. I
thought I could do my work well, and keep on quiet, and have some time to read and learn out
of work hours; but the more he see I can do, the more he loads on. He says that though I don t
say anything, he sees I ve got the devil in me, and he means to bring it out; and one of these
days it will come out in a way that he won t like, or I m mistaken!
O dear! what shall we do? said Eliza, mournfully.
It was only yesterday, said George, as I was busy loading stones into a cart, that young
Mas r Tom stood there, slashing his whip so near the horse that the creature was frightened. I
asked him to stop, as pleasant as I could,—he just kept right on. I begged him again, and then
he turned on me, and began striking me. I held his hand, and then he screamed and kicked and
ran to his father, and told him that I was fighting him. He came in a rage, and said he d teach
me who was my master; and he tied me to a tree, and cut switches for young master, and told
him that he might whip me till he was tired;—and he did do it! If I don t make him remember
it, some time! and the brow of the young man grew dark, and his eyes burned with an
expression that made his young wife tremble. Who made this man my master? That s what I
want to know! he said.
Well, said Eliza, mournfully, I always thought that I must obey my master and mistress, or
I couldn t be a Christian.
There is some sense in it, in your case; they have brought you up like a child, fed you,
clothed you, indulged you, and taught you, so that you have a good education; that is some
reason why they should claim you. But I have been kicked and cuffed and sworn at, and at the
best only let alone; and what do I owe? I ve paid for all my keeping a hundred times over. I
won t bear it. No, I won t! he said, clenching his hand with a fierce frown.
Eliza trembled, and was silent. She had never seen her husband in this mood before; and her
gentle system of ethics seemed to bend like a reed in the surges of such passions.
You know poor little Carlo, that you gave me, added George; the creature has been about
all the comfort that I ve had. He has slept with me nights, and followed me around days, and
kind o looked at me as if he understood how I felt. Well, the other day I was just feeding him
with a few old scraps I picked up by the kitchen door, and Mas r came along, and said I was
feeding him up at his expense, and that he couldn t afford to have every nigger keeping his
dog, and ordered me to tie a stone to his neck and throw him in the pond.
O, George, you didn t do it!
Do it? not I!—but he did. Mas r and Tom pelted the poor drowning creature with stones.
Poor thing! he looked at me so mournful, as if he wondered why I didn t save him. I had to
take a flogging because I wouldn t do it myself. I don t care. Mas r will find out that I m one
that whipping won t tame. My day will come yet, if he don t look out.
What are you going to do? O, George, don t do anything wicked; if you only trust in God,
and try to do right, he ll deliver you.
I an t a Christian like you, Eliza; my heart s full of bitterness; I can t trust in God. Why does
he let things be so?
O, George, we must have faith. Mistress says that when all things go wrong to us, we must
believe that God is doing the very best.
That s easy to say for people that are sitting on their sofas and riding in their carriages; but let
em be where I am, I guess it would come some harder. I wish I could be good; but my heart
burns, and can t be reconciled, anyhow. You couldn t in my place,—you can t now, if I tell
you all I ve got to say. You don t know the whole yet.
What can be coming now?
Well, lately Mas r has been saying that he was a fool to let me marry off the place; that he
hates Mr. Shelby and all his tribe, because they are proud, and hold their heads up above him,
and that I ve got proud notions from you; and he says he won t let me come here any more,
and that I shall take a wife and settle down on his place. At first he only scolded and grumbled
these things; but yesterday he told me that I should take Mina for a wife, and settle down in a
cabin with her, or he would sell me down river.
Why—but you were married to me, by the minister, as much as if you d been a white man!
said Eliza, simply.
Don t you know a slave can t be married? There is no law in this country for that; I can t hold
you for my wife, if he chooses to part us. That s why I wish I d never seen you,—why I wish
I d never been born; it would have been better for us both,—it would have been better for this
poor child if he had never been born. All this may happen to him yet!
O, but master is so kind!
Yes, but who knows?—he may die—and then he may be sold to nobody knows who. What
pleasure is it that he is handsome, and smart, and bright? I tell you, Eliza, that a sword will
pierce through your soul for every good and pleasant thing your child is or has; it will make
him worth too much for you to keep.
The words smote heavily on Eliza s heart; the vision of the trader came before her eyes, and,
as if some one had struck her a deadly blow, she turned pale and gasped for breath. She
looked nervously out on the verandah, where the boy, tired of the grave conversation, had
retired, and where he was riding triumphantly up and down on Mr. Shelby s walking-stick.
She would have spoken to tell her husband her fears, but checked herself.
No, no,—he has enough to bear, poor fellow! she thought. No, I won t tell him; besides, it
an t true; Missis never deceives us.
So, Eliza, my girl, said the husband, mournfully, bear up, now; and good-by, for I m
Going, George! Going where?
To Canada, said he, straightening himself up; and when I m there, I ll buy you; that s all the
hope that s left us. You have a kind master, that won t refuse to sell you. I ll buy you and the
boy;—God helping me, I will!
O, dreadful! if you should be taken?
I won t be taken, Eliza; I ll die first! I ll be free, or I ll die!
You won t kill yourself!
No need of that. They will kill me, fast enough; they never will get me down the river alive!
O, George, for my sake, do be careful! Don t do anything wicked; don t lay hands on
yourself, or anybody else! You are tempted too much—too much; but don t—go you must—
but go carefully, prudently; pray God to help you.
Well, then, Eliza, hear my plan. Mas r took it into his head to send me right by here, with a
note to Mr. Symmes, that lives a mile past. I believe he expected I should come here to tell
you what I have. It would please him, if he thought it would aggravate Shelby s folks, as he
calls em. I m going home quite resigned, you understand, as if all was over. I ve got some
preparations made,—and there are those that will help me; and, in the course of a week or so,
I shall be among the missing, some day. Pray for me, Eliza; perhaps the good Lord will hear
O, pray yourself, George, and go trusting in him; then you won t do anything wicked.
Well, now, good-by, said George, holding Eliza s hands, and gazing into her eyes, without
moving. They stood silent; then there were last words, and sobs, and bitter weeping,—such
parting as those may make whose hope to meet again is as the spider s web,—and the husband
and wife were parted.
An Evening in Uncle Tom s Cabin
The cabin of Uncle Tom was a small log building, close adjoining to the house, as the negro
par excellence designates his master s dwelling. In front it had a neat garden-patch, where,
every summer, strawberries, raspberries, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, flourished
under careful tending. The whole front of it was covered by a large scarlet bignonia and a
native multiflora rose, which, entwisting and interlacing, left scarce a vestige of the rough
logs to be seen. Here, also, in summer, various brilliant annuals, such as marigolds, petunias,
four-o clocks, found an indulgent corner in which to unfold their splendors, and were the
delight and pride of Aunt Chloe s heart.
Let us enter the dwelling. The evening meal at the house is over, and Aunt Chloe, who
presided over its preparation as head cook, has left to inferior officers in the kitchen the
business of clearing away and washing dishes, and come out into her own snug territories, to
get her ole man s supper ; therefore, doubt not that it is her you see by the fire, presiding
with anxious interest over certain frizzling items in a stew-pan, and anon with grave
consideration lifting the cover of a bake-kettle, from whence steam forth indubitable
intimations of something good. A round, black, shining face is hers, so glossy as to suggest
the idea that she might have been washed over with white of eggs, like one of her own tea
rusks. Her whole plump countenance beams with satisfaction and contentment from under her
well-starched checked turban, bearing on it, however, if we must confess it, a little of that
tinge of self-consciousness which becomes the first cook of the neighborhood, as Aunt Chloe
was universally held and acknowledged to be.
A cook she certainly was, in the very bone and centre of her soul. Not a chicken or turkey or
duck in the barn-yard but looked grave when they saw her approaching, and seemed evidently
to be reflecting on their latter end; and certain it was that she was always meditating on
trussing, stuffing and roasting, to a degree that was calculated to inspire terror in any
reflecting fowl living. Her corn-cake, in all its varieties of hoe-cake, dodgers, muffins, and
other species too numerous to mention, was a sublime mystery to all less practised
compounders; and she would shake her fat sides with honest pride and merriment, as she
would narrate the fruitless efforts that one and another of her compeers had made to attain to
The arrival of company at the house, the arranging of dinners and suppers in style, awoke
all the energies of her soul; and no sight was more welcome to her than a pile of travelling
trunks launched on the verandah, for then she foresaw fresh efforts and fresh triumphs.
Just at present, however, Aunt Chloe is looking into the bake-pan; in which congenial
operation we shall leave her till we finish our picture of the cottage.
In one corner of it stood a bed, covered neatly with a snowy spread; and by the side of it was a
piece of carpeting, of some considerable size. On this piece of carpeting Aunt Chloe took her
stand, as being decidedly in the upper walks of life; and it and the bed by which it lay, and the
whole corner, in fact, were treated with distinguished consideration, and made, so far as
possible, sacred from the marauding inroads and desecrations of little folks. In fact, that
corner was the drawing-room of the establishment. In the other corner was a bed of much
humbler pretensions, and evidently designed for use. The wall over the fireplace was adorned
with some very brilliant scriptural prints, and a portrait of General Washington, drawn and
colored in a manner which would certainly have astonished that hero, if ever he happened to
meet with its like.
On a rough bench in the corner, a couple of woolly-headed boys, with glistening black eyes
and fat shining cheeks, were busy in superintending the first walking operations of the baby,
which, as is usually the case, consisted in getting up on its feet, balancing a moment, and then
tumbling down,—each successive failure being violently cheered, as something decidedly
A table, somewhat rheumatic in its limbs, was drawn out in front of the fire, and covered with
a cloth, displaying cups and saucers of a decidedly brilliant pattern, with other symptoms of
an approaching meal. At this table was seated Uncle Tom, Mr. Shelby s best hand, who, as he
is to be the hero of our story, we must daguerreotype for our readers. He was a large, broad-
chested, powerfully-made man, of a full glossy black, and a face whose truly African features
were characterized by an expression of grave and steady good sense, united with much
kindliness and benevolence. There was something about his whole air self-respecting and
dignified, yet united with a confiding and humble simplicity.
He was very busily intent at this moment on a slate lying before him, on which he was
carefully and slowly endeavoring to accomplish a copy of some letters, in which operation he
was overlooked by young Mas r George, a smart, bright boy of thirteen, who appeared fully to
realize the dignity of his position as instructor.
Not that way, Uncle Tom,—not that way, said he, briskly, as Uncle Tom laboriously
brought up the tail of his g the wrong side out; that makes a q, you see.
La sakes, now, does it? said Uncle Tom, looking with a respectful, admiring air, as his
young teacher flourishingly scrawled q s and g s innumerable for his edification; and then,
taking the pencil in his big, heavy fingers, he patiently recommenced.
How easy white folks al us does things! said Aunt Chloe, pausing while she was greasing a
griddle with a scrap of bacon on her fork, and regarding young Master George with pride.
The way he can write, now! and read, too! and then to come out here evenings and read his
lessons to us,—it s mighty interestin !
But, Aunt Chloe, I m getting mighty hungry, said George. Isn t that cake in the skillet
Mose done, Mas r George, said Aunt Chloe, lifting the lid and peeping in,— browning
beautiful—a real lovely brown. Ah! let me alone for dat. Missis let Sally try to make some
cake, t other day, jes to larn her, she said. O, go way, Missis, said I; it really hurts my
feelin s, now, to see good vittles spilt dat ar way! Cake ris all to one side—no shape at all; no
more than my shoe; go way!
And with this final expression of contempt for Sally s greenness, Aunt Chloe whipped the
cover off the bake-kettle, and disclosed to view a neatly-baked pound-cake, of which no city
confectioner need to have been ashamed. This being evidently the central point of the
entertainment, Aunt Chloe began now to bustle about earnestly in the supper department.
Here you, Mose and Pete! get out de way, you niggers! Get away, Mericky, honey,—
mammy ll give her baby some fin, by and by. Now, Mas r George, you jest take off dem
books, and set down now with my old man, and I ll take up de sausages, and have de first
griddle full of cakes on your plates in less dan no time.
They wanted me to come to supper in the house, said George; but I knew what was what
too well for that, Aunt Chloe.
So you did—so you did, honey, said Aunt Chloe, heaping the smoking batter-cakes on his
plate; you know d your old aunty d keep the best for you. O, let you alone for dat! Go way!
And, with that, aunty gave George a nudge with her finger, designed to be immensely
facetious, and turned again to her griddle with great briskness.
Now for the cake, said Mas r George, when the activity of the griddle department had
somewhat subsided; and, with that, the youngster flourished a large knife over the article in
La bless you, Mas r George! said Aunt Chloe, with earnestness, catching his arm, you
wouldn t be for cuttin it wid dat ar great heavy knife! Smash all down—spile all de pretty rise
of it. Here, I ve got a thin old knife, I keeps sharp a purpose. Dar now, see! comes apart light
as a feather! Now eat away—you won t get anything to beat dat ar.
Tom Lincon says, said George, speaking with his mouth full, that their Jinny is a better
cook than you.
Dem Lincons an t much count, no way! said Aunt Chloe, contemptuously; I mean, set
along side our folks. They s spectable folks enough in a kinder plain way; but, as to gettin up
anything in style, they don t begin to have a notion on t. Set Mas r Lincon, now, alongside
Mas r Shelby! Good Lor! and Missis Lincon,—can she kinder sweep it into a room like my
missis,—so kinder splendid, yer know! O, go way! don t tell me nothin of dem Lincons! —
and Aunt Chloe tossed her head as one who hoped she did know something of the world.
Well, though, I ve heard you say, said George, that Jinny was a pretty fair cook.
So I did, said Aunt Chloe,— I may say dat. Good, plain, common cookin , Jinny ll do;—
make a good pone o bread,—bile her taters far,—her corn cakes isn t extra, not extra now,
Jinny s corn cakes isn t, but then they s far,—but, Lor, come to de higher branches, and what
can she do? Why, she makes pies—sartin she does; but what kinder crust? Can she make your
real flecky paste, as melts in your mouth, and lies all up like a puff? Now, I went over thar
when Miss Mary was gwine to be married, and Jinny she jest showed me de weddin pies.
Jinny and I is good friends, ye know. I never said nothin ; but go long, Mas r George! Why, I
shouldn t sleep a wink for a week, if I had a batch of pies like dem ar. Why, dey wan t no
count t all.
I suppose Jinny thought they were ever so nice, said George.
Thought so!—didn t she? Thar she was, showing em, as innocent—ye see, it s jest here,
Jinny don t know. Lor, the family an t nothing! She can t be spected to know! Ta nt no fault o
hem. Ah, Mas r George, you doesn t know half your privileges in yer family and bringin up!
Here Aunt Chloe sighed, and rolled up her eyes with emotion.
I m sure, Aunt Chloe, I understand I my pie and pudding privileges, said George. Ask Tom
Lincon if I don t crow over him, every time I meet him.
Aunt Chloe sat back in her chair, and indulged in a hearty guffaw of laughter, at this witticism
of young Mas r s, laughing till the tears rolled down her black, shining cheeks, and varying the
exercise with playfully slapping and poking Mas r Georgey, and telling him to go way, and
that he was a case—that he was fit to kill her, and that he sartin would kill her, one of these
days; and, between each of these sanguinary predictions, going off into a laugh, each longer
and stronger than the other, till George really began to think that he was a very dangerously
witty fellow, and that it became him to be careful how he talked as funny as he could.
And so ye telled Tom, did ye? O, Lor! what young uns will be up ter! Ye crowed over Tom?
O, Lor! Mas r George, if ye wouldn t make a hornbug laugh!
Yes, said George, I says to him, Tom, you ought to see some of Aunt Chloe s pies; they re
the right sort, says I.
Pity, now, Tom couldn t, said Aunt Chloe, on whose benevolent heart the idea of Tom s
benighted condition seemed to make a strong impression. Ye oughter just ask him here to
dinner, some o these times, Mas r George, she added; it would look quite pretty of ye. Ye
know, Mas r George, ye oughtenter feel bove nobody, on count yer privileges, cause all our
privileges is gi n to us; we ought al ays to member that, said Aunt Chloe, looking quite
Well, I mean to ask Tom here, some day next week, said George; and you do your
prettiest, Aunt Chloe, and we ll make him stare. Won t we make him eat so he won t get over
it for a fortnight?
Yes, yes—sartin, said Aunt Chloe, delighted you ll see. Lor! to think of some of our
dinners! Yer mind dat ar great chicken pie I made when we guv de dinner to General Knox? I
and Missis, we come pretty near quarrelling about dat ar crust. What does get into ladies
sometimes, I don t know; but, sometimes, when a body has de heaviest kind o sponsibility on
em, as ye may say, and is all kinder seris and taken up, dey takes dat ar time to be hangin
round and kinder interferin ! Now, Missis, she wanted me to do dis way, and she wanted me
to do dat way; and, finally, I got kinder sarcy, and, says I, Now, Missis, do jist look at dem
beautiful white hands o yourn with long fingers, and all a sparkling with rings, like my white
lilies when de dew s on em; and look at my great black stumpin hands. Now, don t ye think
dat de Lord must have meant me to make de pie-crust, and you to stay in de parlor? Dar! I
was jist so sarcy, Mas r George.
And what did mother say? said George.
Say?—why, she kinder larfed in her eyes—dem great handsome eyes o hern; and, says she,
Well, Aunt Chloe, I think you are about in the right on t, says she; and she went off in de
parlor. She oughter cracked me over de head for bein so sarcy; but dar s whar t is—I can t do
nothin with ladies in de kitchen!
Well, you made out well with that dinner,—I remember everybody said so, said George.
Didn t I? And wan t I behind de dinin -room door dat bery day? and didn t I see de General
pass his plate three times for some more dat bery pie?—and, says he, You must have an
uncommon cook, Mrs. Shelby. Lor! I was fit to split myself.
And de Gineral, he knows what cookin is, said Aunt Chloe, drawing herself up with an air.
Bery nice man, de Gineral! He comes of one of de bery fustest families in Old Virginny! He
knows what s what, now, as well as I do—de Gineral. Ye see, there s pints in all pies, Mas r
George; but tan t everybody knows what they is, or as orter be. But the Gineral, he knows; I
knew by his marks he made. Yes, he knows what de pints is!
By this time, Master George had arrived at that pass to which even a boy can come (under
uncommon circumstances, when he really could not eat another morsel), and, therefore, he
was at leisure to notice the pile of woolly heads and glistening eyes which were regarding
their operations hungrily from the opposite corner.
Here, you Mose, Pete, he said, breaking off liberal bits, and throwing it at them; you want
some, don t you? Come, Aunt Chloe, bake them some cakes.
And George and Tom moved to a comfortable seat in the chimney-corner, while Aunte Chloe,
after baking a goodly pile of cakes, took her baby on her lap, and began alternately filling its
mouth and her own, and distributing to Mose and Pete, who seemed rather to prefer eating
theirs as they rolled about on the floor under the table, tickling each other, and occasionally
pulling the baby s toes.
O! go long, will ye? said the mother, giving now and then a kick, in a kind of general way,
under the table, when the movement became too obstreperous. Can t ye be decent when
white folks comes to see ye? Stop dat ar, now, will ye? Better mind yerselves, or I ll take ye
down a button-hole lower, when Mas r George is gone!
What meaning was couched under this terrible threat, it is difficult to say; but certain it is that
its awful indistinctness seemed to produce very little impression on the young sinners
La, now! said Uncle Tom, they are so full of tickle all the while, they can t behave
Here the boys emerged from under the table, and, with hands and faces well plastered with
molasses, began a vigorous kissing of the baby.
Get along wid ye! said the mother, pushing away their woolly heads. Ye ll all stick
together, and never get clar, if ye do dat fashion. Go long to de spring and wash yerselves!
she said, seconding her exhortations by a slap, which resounded very formidably, but which
seemed only to knock out so much more laugh from the young ones, as they tumbled
precipitately over each other out of doors, where they fairly screamed with merriment.
Did ye ever see such aggravating young uns? said Aunt Chloe, rather complacently, as,
producing an old towel, kept for such emergencies, she poured a little water out of the cracked
tea-pot on it, and began rubbing off the molasses from the baby s face and hands; and, having
polished her till she shone, she set her down in Tom s lap, while she busied herself in clearing
away supper. The baby employed the intervals in pulling Tom s nose, scratching his face, and
burying her fat hands in his woolly hair, which last operation seemed to afford her special
Aint she a peart young un? said Tom, holding her from him to take a full-length view; then,
getting up, he set her on his broad shoulder, and began capering and dancing with her, while
Mas r George snapped at her with his pocket-handkerchief, and Mose and Pete, now returned
again, roared after her like bears, till Aunt Chloe declared that they fairly took her head off
with their noise. As, according to her own statement, this surgical operation was a matter of
daily occurrence in the cabin, the declaration no whit abated the merriment, till every one had
roared and tumbled and danced themselves down to a state of composure.
Well, now, I hopes you re done, said Aunt Chloe, who had been busy in pulling out a rude
box of a trundle-bed; and now, you Mose and you Pete, get into thar; for we s goin to have
the meetin .
O mother, we don t wanter. We wants to sit up to meetin ,—meetin s is so curis. We likes
La, Aunt Chloe, shove it under, and let em sit up, said Mas r George, decisively, giving a
push to the rude machine.
Aunt Chloe, having thus saved appearances, seemed highly delighted to push the thing under,
saying, as she did so, Well, mebbe t will do em some good.
The house now resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to consider the accommodations
and arrangements for the meeting.
What we s to do for cheers, now, I declar I don t know, said Aunt Chloe. As the meeting had
been held at Uncle Tom s weekly, for an indefinite length of time, without any more cheers,
there seemed some encouragement to hope that a way would be discovered at present.
Old Uncle Peter sung both de legs out of dat oldest cheer, last week, suggested Mose.
You go long! I ll boun you pulled em out; some o your shines, said Aunt Chloe.
Well, it ll stand, if it only keeps jam up agin de wall! said Mose.
Den Uncle Peter mus n t sit in it, cause he al ays hitches when he gets a singing. He hitched
pretty nigh across de room, t other night, said Pete.
Good Lor! get him in it, then, said Mose, and den he d begin, Come saints—and sinners,
hear me tell, and den down he d go, —and Mose imitated precisely the nasal tones of the old
man, tumbling on the floor, to illustrate the supposed catastrophe.
Come now, be decent, can t ye? said Aunt Chloe; an t yer shamed?
Mas r George, however, joined the offender in the laugh, and declared decidedly that Mose
was a buster. So the maternal admonition seemed rather to fail of effect.
Well, ole man, said Aunt Chloe, you ll have to tote in them ar bar ls.
Mother s bar ls is like dat ar widder s, Mas r George was reading bout, in de good book,—
dey never fails, said Mose, aside to Peter.
I m sure one on em caved in last week, said Pete, and let em all down in de middle of de
singin ; dat ar was failin , warnt it?
During this aside between Mose and Pete, two empty casks had been rolled into the cabin, and
being secured from rolling, by stones on each side, boards were laid across them, which
arrangement, together with the turning down of certain tubs and pails, and the disposing of the
rickety chairs, at last completed the preparation.
Mas r George is such a beautiful reader, now, I know he ll stay to read for us, said Aunt
Chloe; pears like t will be so much more interestin .
George very readily consented, for your boy is always ready for anything that makes him of
The room was soon filled with a motley assemblage, from the old gray-headed patriarch of
eighty, to the young girl and lad of fifteen. A little harmless gossip ensued on various themes,
such as where old Aunt Sally got her new red headkerchief, and how Missis was a going to
give Lizzy that spotted muslin gown, when she d got her new berage made up; and how
Mas r Shelby was thinking of buying a new sorrel colt, that was going to prove an addition to
the glories of the place. A few of the worshippers belonged to families hard by, who had got
permission to attend, and who brought in various choice scraps of information, about the
sayings and doings at the house and on the place, which circulated as freely as the same sort
of small change does in higher circles.
After a while the singing commenced, to the evident delight of all present. Not even all the
disadvantage of nasal intonation could prevent the effect of the naturally fine voices, in airs at
once wild and spirited. The words were sometimes the well-known and common hymns sung
in the churches about, and sometimes of a wilder, more indefinite character, picked up at
The chorus of one of them, which ran as follows, was sung with great energy and unction:
Die on the field of battle,
Die on the field of battle,
Glory in my soul.
Another special favorite had oft repeated the words—
O, I m going to glory,—won t you come along with me?
Don t you see the angels beck ning, and a calling me away?
Don t you see the golden city and the everlasting day?
There were others, which made incessant mention of Jordan s banks, and Canaan s fields,
and the New Jerusalem; for the negro mind, impassioned and imaginative, always attaches
itself to hymns and expressions of a vivid and pictorial nature; and, as they sung, some
laughed, and some cried, and some clapped hands, or shook hands rejoicingly with each other,
as if they had fairly gained the other side of the river.
Various exhortations, or relations of experience, followed, and intermingled with the singing.
One old gray-headed woman, long past work, but much revered as a sort of chronicle of the
past, rose, and leaning on her staff, said— Well, chil en! Well, I m mighty glad to hear ye all
and see ye all once more, cause I don t know when I ll be gone to glory; but I ve done got
ready, chil en; pears like I d got my little bundle all tied up, and my bonnet on, jest a waitin
for the stage to come along and take me hom
Pobierz darmowy fragment