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|Uncle Tom's Cabin||Harriet Beecher Stowe|
|Page 5 of 11||
"I want to make sure of it," said Miss Ophelia. "You may die, or fail, and then Topsy be hustled off to auction, spite of all I can do."
"Really, you are quite provident. Well, seeing I'm in the hands of a Yankee, there is nothing for it but to concede;" and St. Clare rapidly wrote off a deed of gift, which, as he was well versed in the forms of law, he could easily do, and signed his name to it in sprawling capitals, concluding by a tremendous flourish.
"There, isn't that black and white, now, Miss Vermont?" he said, as he handed it to her.
"Good boy," said Miss Ophelia, smiling. "But must it not be witnessed?"
"O, bother!--yes. Here," he said, opening the door into Marie's apartment, "Marie, Cousin wants your autograph; just put your name down here."
"What's this?" said Marie, as she ran over the paper. "Ridiculous! I thought Cousin was too pious for such horrid things," she added, as she carelessly wrote her name; "but, if she has a fancy for that article, I am sure she's welcome."
"There, now, she's yours, body and soul," said St. Clare, handing the paper.
"No more mine now than she was before," Miss Ophelia. "Nobody but God has a right to give her to me; but I can protect her now."
"Well, she's yours by a fiction of law, then," said St. Clare, as he turned back into the parlor, and sat down to his paper.
Miss Ophelia, who seldom sat much in Marie's company, followed him into the parlor, having first carefully laid away the paper.
"Augustine," she said, suddenly, as she sat knitting, "have you ever made any provision for your servants, in case of your death?"
"No," said St. Clare, as he read on.
"Then all your indulgence to them may prove a great cruelty, by and by."
St. Clare had often thought the same thing himself; but he answered, negligently.
"Well, I mean to make a provision, by and by."
"When?" said Miss Ophelia.
"O, one of these days."
"What if you should die first?"
"Cousin, what's the matter?" said St. Clare, laying down his paper and looking at her. "Do you think I show symptoms of yellow fever or cholera, that you are making post mortem arrangements with such zeal?"
"`In the midst of life we are in death,'" said Miss Ophelia.
St. Clare rose up, and laying the paper down, carelessly, walked to the door that stood open on the verandah, to put an end to a conversation that was not agreeable to him. Mechanically, he repeated the last word again,--_"Death!"_--and, as he leaned against the railings, and watched the sparkling water as it rose and fell in the fountain; and, as in a dim and dizzy haze, saw flowers and trees and vases of the courts, he repeated, again the mystic word so common in every mouth, yet of such fearful power,--"DEATH!" "Strange that there should be such a word," he said, "and such a thing, and we ever forget it; that one should be living, warm and beautiful, full of hopes, desires and wants, one day, and the next be gone, utterly gone, and forever!"
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|Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
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