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|Uncle Tom's Cabin||Harriet Beecher Stowe|
Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions
|Page 2 of 12||
"Well, Tom, what are you waiting for?" said St. Clare, the next day, as he sat in his library, in dressing-gown and slippers. St. Clare had just been entrusting Tom with some money, and various commissions. "Isn't all right there, Tom?" he added, as Tom still stood waiting.
"I'm 'fraid not, Mas'r," said Tom, with a grave face.
St. Clare laid down his paper, and set down his coffee-cup, and looked at Tom.
"Why Tom, what's the case? You look as solemn as a coffin."
"I feel very bad, Mas'r. I allays have thought that Mas'r would be good to everybody."
"Well, Tom, haven't I been? Come, now, what do you want? There's something you haven't got, I suppose, and this is the preface."
"Mas'r allays been good to me. I haven't nothing to complain of on that head. But there is one that Mas'r isn't good to."
"Why, Tom, what's got into you? Speak out; what do you mean?"
"Last night, between one and two, I thought so. I studied upon the matter then. Mas'r isn't good to _himself_."
Tom said this with his back to his master, and his hand on the door-knob. St. Clare felt his face flush crimson, but he laughed.
"O, that's all, is it?" he said, gayly.
"All!" said Tom, turning suddenly round and falling on his knees. "O, my dear young Mas'r; I'm 'fraid it will be _loss of all--all_--body and soul. The good Book says, `it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder!' my dear Mas'r!"
Tom's voice choked, and the tears ran down his cheeks.
"You poor, silly fool!" said St. Clare, with tears in his own eyes. "Get up, Tom. I'm not worth crying over."
But Tom wouldn't rise, and looked imploring.
"Well, I won't go to any more of their cursed nonsense, Tom," said St. Clare; "on my honor, I won't. I don't know why I haven't stopped long ago. I've always despised _it_, and myself for it,--so now, Tom, wipe up your eyes, and go about your errands. Come, come," he added, "no blessings. I'm not so wonderfully good, now," he said, as he gently pushed Tom to the door. "There, I'll pledge my honor to you, Tom, you don't see me so again," he said; and Tom went off, wiping his eyes, with great satisfaction.
"I'll keep my faith with him, too," said St. Clare, as he closed the door.
And St. Clare did so,--for gross sensualism, in any form, was not the peculiar temptation of his nature.
But, all this time, who shall detail the tribulations manifold of our friend Miss Ophelia, who had begun the labors of a Southern housekeeper?
There is all the difference in the world in the servants of Southern establishments, according to the character and capacity of the mistresses who have brought them up.
South as well as north, there are women who have an extraordinary talent for command, and tact in educating. Such are enabled, with apparent ease, and without severity, to subject to their will, and bring into harmonious and systematic order, the various members of their small estate,--to regulate their peculiarities, and so balance and compensate the deficiencies of one by the excess of another, as to produce a harmonious and orderly system.
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|Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
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