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|Uncle Tom's Cabin||Harriet Beecher Stowe|
Select Incident of Lawful Trade
|Page 5 of 13||
"I've got a wife," spoke out the article enumerated as "John, aged thirty," and he laid his chained hand on Tom's knee,--"and she don't know a word about this, poor girl!"
"Where does she live?" said Tom.
"In a tavern a piece down here," said John; "I wish, now, I _could_ see her once more in this world," he added.
Poor John! It _was_ rather natural; and the tears that fell, as he spoke, came as naturally as if he had been a white man. Tom drew a long breath from a sore heart, and tried, in his poor way, to comfort him.
And over head, in the cabin, sat fathers and mothers, husbands and wives; and merry, dancing children moved round among them, like so many little butterflies, and everything was going on quite easy and comfortable.
"O, mamma," said a boy, who had just come up from below, "there's a negro trader on board, and he's brought four or five slaves down there."
"Poor creatures!" said the mother, in a tone between grief and indignation.
"What's that?" said another lady.
"Some poor slaves below," said the mother.
"And they've got chains on," said the boy.
"What a shame to our country that such sights are to be seen!" said another lady.
"O, there's a great deal to be said on both sides of the subject," said a genteel woman, who sat at her state-room door sewing, while her little girl and boy were playing round her. "I've been south, and I must say I think the negroes are better off than they would be to be free."
"In some respects, some of them are well off, I grant," said the lady to whose remark she had answered. "The most dreadful part of slavery, to my mind, is its outrages on the feelings and affections,--the separating of families, for example."
"That _is_ a bad thing, certainly," said the other lady, holding up a baby's dress she had just completed, and looking intently on its trimmings; "but then, I fancy, it don't occur often."
"O, it does," said the first lady, eagerly; "I've lived many years in Kentucky and Virginia both, and I've seen enough to make any one's heart sick. Suppose, ma'am, your two children, there, should be taken from you, and sold?"
"We can't reason from our feelings to those of this class of persons," said the other lady, sorting out some worsteds on her lap.
"Indeed, ma'am, you can know nothing of them, if you say so," answered the first lady, warmly. "I was born and brought up among them. I know they _do_ feel, just as keenly,--even more so, perhaps,--as we do."
The lady said "Indeed!" yawned, and looked out the cabin window, and finally repeated, for a finale, the remark with which she had begun,--"After all, I think they are better off than they would be to be free."
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|Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
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