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|Uncle Tom's Cabin||Harriet Beecher Stowe|
|Page 2 of 3||
Chloe had pertinaciously insisted that the very bills in which her wages had been paid should be preserved, to show her husband, in memorial of her capability. And Mrs. Shelby had readily consented to humor her in the request.
"He won't know Polly,--my old man won't. Laws, it's five year since they tuck him! She was a baby den,--couldn't but jist stand. Remember how tickled he used to be, cause she would keep a fallin' over, when she sot out to walk. Laws a me!"
The rattling of wheels now was heard.
"Mas'r George!" said Aunt Chloe, starting to the window.
Mrs. Shelby ran to the entry door, and was folded in the arms of her son. Aunt Chloe stood anxiously straining her eyes out into the darkness.
"O, _poor_ Aunt Chloe!" said George, stopping compassionately, and taking her hard, black hand between both his; "I'd have given all my fortune to have brought him with me, but he's gone to a better country."
There was a passionate exclamation from Mrs. Shelby, but Aunt Chloe said nothing.
The party entered the supper-room. The money, of which Chloe was so proud, was still lying on the table.
"Thar," said she, gathering it up, and holding it, with a trembling hand, to her mistress, "don't never want to see nor hear on 't again. Jist as I knew 't would be,--sold, and murdered on dem ar' old plantations!"
Chloe turned, and was walking proudly out of the room. Mrs. Shelby followed her softly, and took one of her hands, drew her down into a chair, and sat down by her.
"My poor, good Chloe!" said she.
Chloe leaned her head on her mistress' shoulder, and sobbed out, "O Missis! 'scuse me, my heart's broke,--dat's all!"
"I know it is," said Mrs. Shelby, as her tears fell fast; "and _I_ cannot heal it, but Jesus can. He healeth the broken hearted, and bindeth up their wounds."
There was a silence for some time, and all wept together. At last, George, sitting down beside the mourner, took her hand, and, with simple pathos, repeated the triumphant scene of her husband's death, and his last messages of love.
About a month after this, one morning, all the servants of the Shelby estate were convened together in the great hall that ran through the house, to hear a few words from their young master.
To the surprise of all, he appeared among them with a bundle of papers in his hand, containing a certificate of freedom to every one on the place, which he read successively, and presented, amid the sobs and tears and shouts of all present.
Many, however, pressed around him, earnestly begging him not to send them away; and, with anxious faces, tendering back their free papers.
"We don't want to be no freer than we are. We's allers had all we wanted. We don't want to leave de ole place, and Mas'r and Missis, and de rest!"
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|Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
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