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|Uncle Tom's Cabin||Harriet Beecher Stowe|
|Page 2 of 5||
"Used to!" said she, bitterly. She stopped short,--a word of choking feelings, rising in her heart, kept her silent.
Cassy had always kept over Legree the kind of influence that a strong, impassioned woman can ever keep over the most brutal man; but, of late, she had grown more and more irritable and restless, under the hideous yoke of her servitude, and her irritability, at times, broke out into raving insanity; and this liability made her a sort of object of dread to Legree, who had that superstitious horror of insane persons which is common to coarse and uninstructed minds. When Legree brought Emmeline to the house, all the smouldering embers of womanly feeling flashed up in the worn heart of Cassy, and she took part with the girl; and a fierce quarrel ensued between her and Legree. Legree, in a fury, swore she should be put to field service, if she would not be peaceable. Cassy, with proud scorn, declared she _would_ go to the field. And she worked there one day, as we have described, to show how perfectly she scorned the threat.
Legree was secretly uneasy, all day; for Cassy had an influence over him from which he could not free himself. When she presented her basket at the scales, he had hoped for some concession, and addressed her in a sort of half conciliatory, half scornful tone; and she had answered with the bitterest contempt.
The outrageous treatment of poor Tom had roused her still more; and she had followed Legree to the house, with no particular intention, but to upbraid him for his brutality.
"I wish, Cassy," said Legree, "you'd behave yourself decently."
"_You_ talk about behaving decently! And what have you been doing?--you, who haven't even sense enough to keep from spoiling one of your best hands, right in the most pressing season, just for your devilish temper!"
"I was a fool, it's a fact, to let any such brangle come up," said Legree; "but, when the boy set up his will, he had to be broke in."
"I reckon you won't break _him_ in!"
"Won't I?" said Legree, rising, passionately. "I'd like to know if I won't? He'll be the first nigger that ever came it round me! I'll break every bone in his body, but he _shall_ give up!"
Just then the door opened, and Sambo entered. He came forward, bowing, and holding out something in a paper.
"What's that, you dog?" said Legree.
"It's a witch thing, Mas'r!"
"Something that niggers gets from witches. Keeps 'em from feelin' when they 's flogged. He had it tied round his neck, with a black string."
Legree, like most godless and cruel men, was superstitious. He took the paper, and opened it uneasily.
There dropped out of it a silver dollar, and a long, shining curl of fair hair,--hair which, like a living thing, twined itself round Legree's fingers.
"Damnation!" he screamed, in sudden passion, stamping on the floor, and pulling furiously at the hair, as if it burned him. "Where did this come from? Take it off!--burn it up!--burn it up!" he screamed, tearing it off, and throwing it into the charcoal. "What did you bring it to me for?"
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|Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
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