and Mrs. Shelby, after their protracted discussion of the night before, did not
readily sink to repose, and, in consequence, slept somewhat later than usual,
the ensuing morning.
"I wonder what keeps Eliza,"
said Mrs. Shelby, after giving her bell repeated pulls, to no purpose.
Mr. Shelby was standing before his
dressing-glass, sharpening his razor; and just then the door opened, and a
colored boy entered, with his shaving-water.
"Andy," said his mistress,
"step to Eliza's door, and tell her I have rung for her three times.
Poor thing!" she added, to herself, with a sigh.
Andy soon returned, with eyes very wide
Lizy's drawers is all open, and her things all lying every which way; and
I believe she's just done clared out!"
The truth flashed upon Mr. Shelby and
his wife at the same moment. He
"Then she suspected it, and she's
"The Lord be thanked!" said
Mrs. Shelby. "I trust she
"Wife, you talk like a fool!
Really, it will be something pretty awkward for me, if she is.
Haley saw that I hesitated about selling this child, and he'll think I
connived at it, to get him out of the way.
It touches my honor!" And
Mr. Shelby left the room hastily.
There was great running and ejaculating,
and opening and shutting of doors, and appearance of faces in all shades of
color in different places, for about a quarter of an hour.
One person only, who might have shed some light on the matter, was
entirely silent, and that was the head cook, Aunt Chloe.
Silently, and with a heavy cloud settled down over her once joyous face,
she proceeded making out her breakfast biscuits, as if she heard and saw nothing
of the excitement around her.
Very soon, about a dozen young imps were
roosting, like so many crows, on the verandah railings, each one determined to
be the first one to apprize the strange Mas'r of his ill luck.
"He'll be rael mad, I'll be
bound," said Andy.
"_Won't_ he swar!" said little
"Yes, for he _does_ swar,"
said woolly-headed Mandy. "I
hearn him yesterday, at dinner. I
hearn all about it then, 'cause I got into the closet where Missis keeps the
great jugs, and I hearn every word." And
Mandy, who had never in her life thought of the meaning of a word she had heard,
more than a black cat, now took airs of superior wisdom, and strutted about,
forgetting to state that, though actually coiled up among the jugs at the time
specified, she had been fast asleep all the time.
When, at last, Haley appeared, booted
and spurred, he was saluted with the bad tidings on every hand.
The young imps on the verandah were not disappointed in their hope of
hearing him "swar," which he did with a fluency and fervency which
delighted them all amazingly, as they ducked and dodged hither and thither, to
be out of the reach of his riding-whip; and, all whooping off together, they
tumbled, in a pile of immeasurable giggle, on the withered turf under the
verandah, where they kicked up their heels and shouted to their full
"If I had the little devils!"
muttered Haley, between his teeth.
"But you ha'nt got 'em,
though!" said Andy, with a triumphant flourish, and making a string of
indescribable mouths at the unfortunate trader's back, when he was fairly beyond
"I say now, Shelby, this yer 's a
most extro'rnary business!" said Haley, as he abruptly entered the parlor.
"It seems that gal 's off, with her young un."
"Mr. Haley, Mrs. Shelby is
present," said Mr. Shelby.
"I beg pardon, ma'am," said
Haley, bowing slightly, with a still lowering brow; "but still I say, as I
said before, this yer's a sing'lar report.
Is it true, sir?"
"Sir," said Mr. Shelby,
"if you wish to communicate with me, you must observe something of the
decorum of a gentleman. Andy, take
Mr. Haley's hat and riding-whip. Take
a seat, sir. Yes, sir; I regret to
say that the young woman, excited by overhearing, or having reported to her,
something of this business, has taken her child in the night, and made
"I did expect fair dealing in this
matter, I confess," said Haley.
"Well, sir," said Mr. Shelby,
turning sharply round upon him, "what am I to understand by that remark?
If any man calls my honor in question, I have but one answer for
The trader cowered at this, and in a
somewhat lower tone said that "it was plaguy hard on a fellow, that had
made a fair bargain, to be gulled that way."
"Mr. Haley," said Mr. Shelby,
"if I did not think you had some cause for disappointment, I should not
have borne from you the rude and unceremonious style of your entrance into my
parlor this morning. I say thus
much, however, since appearances call for it, that I shall allow of no
insinuations cast upon me, as if I were at all partner to any unfairness in this
matter. Moreover, I shall feel
bound to give you every assistance, in the use of horses, servants, &c., in
the recovery of your property. So,
in short, Haley," said he, suddenly dropping from the tone of dignified
coolness to his ordinary one of easy frankness, "the best way for you is to
keep good-natured and eat some breakfast, and we will then see what is to be
Mrs. Shelby now rose, and said her
engagements would prevent her being at the breakfast-table that morning; and,
deputing a very respectable mulatto woman to attend to the gentlemen's coffee at
the side-board, she left the room.
"Old lady don't like your humble
servant, over and above," said Haley, with an uneasy effort to be very
"I am not accustomed to hear my
wife spoken of with such freedom," said Mr. Shelby, dryly.
"Beg pardon; of course, only a
joke, you know," said Haley, forcing a laugh.
"Some jokes are less agreeable than
others," rejoined Shelby.
"Devilish free, now I've signed
those papers, cuss him!" muttered Haley to himself; "quite grand,
Never did fall of any prime minister at
court occasion wider surges of sensation than the report of Tom's fate among his
compeers on the place. It was the
topic in every mouth, everywhere; and nothing was done in the house or in the
field, but to discuss its probable results.
Eliza's flight--an unprecedented event on the place--was also a great
accessory in stimulating the general excitement.
Black Sam, as he was commonly called,
from his being about three shades blacker than any other son of ebony on the
place, was revolving the matter profoundly in all its phases and bearings, with
a comprehensiveness of vision and a strict lookout to his own personal
well-being, that would have done credit to any white patriot in Washington.
"It's an ill wind dat blow
nowhar,--dat ar a fact," said Sam, sententiously, giving an additional
hoist to his pantaloons, and adroitly substituting a long nail in place of a
missing suspender-button, with which effort of mechanical genius he seemed
"Yes, it's an ill wind blows
nowhar," he repeated. "Now,
dar, Tom's down--wal, course der's room for some nigger to be up--and why not
dis nigger?--dat's de idee. Tom, a
ridin' round de country--boots blacked--pass in his pocket--all grand as
Cuffee--but who he? Now, why
shouldn't Sam?--dat's what I want to know."
"Halloo, Sam--O Sam! Mas'r wants
you to cotch Bill and Jerry," said Andy, cutting short Sam's soliloquy.
"High! what's afoot now, young
"Why, you don't know, I s'pose,
that Lizy's cut stick, and clared out, with her young un?"
"You teach your granny!" said
Sam, with infinite contempt; "knowed it a heap sight sooner than you did;
this nigger an't so green, now!"
Well, anyhow, Mas'r wants Bill and Jerry
geared right up; and you and I 's to go with Mas'r Haley, to look arter
"Good, now! dat's de time o'
day!" said Sam. "It's Sam
dat's called for in dese yer times. He's
de nigger. See if I don't cotch
her, now; Mas'r'll see what Sam can do!"
"Ah! but, Sam," said Andy,
"you'd better think twice; for Missis don't want her cotched, and she'll be
in yer wool."
"High!" said Sam, opening his
eyes. "How you know dat?"
"Heard her say so, my own self, dis
blessed mornin', when I bring in Mas'r's shaving-water.
She sent me to see why Lizy didn't come to dress her; and when I telled
her she was off, she jest ris up, and ses she, `The Lord be praised;' and Mas'r,
he seemed rael mad, and ses he, `Wife, you talk like a fool.'
But Lor! she'll bring him to! I
knows well enough how that'll be,--it's allers best to stand Missis' side the
fence, now I tell yer."
Black Sam, upon this, scratched his
woolly pate, which, if it did not contain very profound wisdom, still contained
a great deal of a particular species much in demand among politicians of all
complexions and countries, and vulgarly denominated "knowing which side the
bread is buttered;" so, stopping with grave consideration, he again gave a
hitch to his pantaloons, which was his regularly organized method of assisting
his mental perplexities.
"Der an't no saying'--never--'bout
no kind o' thing in _dis_ yer world," he said, at last.
Sam spoke like a philosopher, emphasizing _this_--as if he had had a
large experience in different sorts of worlds, and therefore had come to his
"Now, sartin I'd a said that Missis
would a scoured the varsal world after Lizy," added Sam, thoughtfully.
"So she would," said Andy;
"but can't ye see through a ladder, ye black nigger? Missis don't want dis
yer Mas'r Haley to get Lizy's boy; dat's de go!"
"High!" said Sam, with an
indescribable intonation, known only to those who have heard it among the
"And I'll tell yer more 'n
all," said Andy; "I specs you'd better be making tracks for dem
hosses,--mighty sudden, too,---for I hearn Missis 'quirin' arter yer,--so you've
stood foolin' long enough."
Sam, upon this, began to bestir himself
in real earnest, and after a while appeared, bearing down gloriously towards the
house, with Bill and Jerry in a full canter, and adroitly throwing himself off
before they had any idea of stopping, he brought them up alongside of the
horse-post like a tornado. Haley's
horse, which was a skittish young colt, winced, and bounced, and pulled hard at
"Ho, ho!" said Sam,
"skeery, ar ye?" and his black visage lighted up with a curious,
mischievous gleam. "I'll fix
ye now!" said he.
There was a large beech-tree
overshadowing the place, and the small, sharp, triangular beech-nuts lay
scattered thickly on the ground. With
one of these in his fingers, Sam approached the colt, stroked and patted, and
seemed apparently busy in soothing his agitation.
On pretence of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly slipped under it the
sharp little nut, in such a manner that the least weight brought upon the saddle
would annoy the nervous sensibilities of the animal, without leaving any
perceptible graze or wound.
"Dar!" he said, rolling his
eyes with an approving grin; "me fix 'em!"
At this moment Mrs. Shelby appeared on
the balcony, beckoning to him. Sam
approached with as good a determination to pay court as did ever suitor after a
vacant place at St. James' or Washington.
"Why have you been loitering so,
Sam? I sent Andy to tell you to
"Lord bless you, Missis!" said
Sam, "horses won't be cotched all in a mimit; they'd done clared out way
down to the south pasture, and the Lord knows whar!"
"Sam, how often must I tell you not
to say `Lord bless you, and the Lord knows,' and such things?
"O, Lord bless my soul!
I done forgot, Missis! I
won't say nothing of de sort no more."
"Why, Sam, you just _have_ said it
"Did I? O, Lord! I
mean--I didn't go fur to say it."
"You must be _careful_, Sam."
"Just let me get my breath, Missis,
and I'll start fair.
I'll be bery careful."
"Well, Sam, you are to go with Mr.
Haley, to show him the road, and help him.
Be careful of the horses, Sam; you know Jerry was a little lame last
week; _don't ride them too fast_."
Mrs. Shelby spoke the last words with a
low voice, and strong emphasis.
"Let dis child alone for dat!"
said Sam, rolling up his eyes with a volume of meaning.
"Lord knows! High! Didn't
say dat!" said he, suddenly catching his breath, with a ludicrous flourish
of apprehension, which made his mistress laugh, spite of herself.
"Yes, Missis, I'll look out for de hosses!"
"Now, Andy," said Sam,
returning to his stand under the beech-trees, "you see I wouldn't be 't all
surprised if dat ar gen'lman's crittur should gib a fling, by and by, when he
comes to be a gettin' up. You know,
Andy, critturs _will_ do such things;" and therewith Sam poked Andy in the
side, in a highly suggestive manner.
"High!" said Andy, with an air
of instant appreciation.
"Yes, you see, Andy, Missis wants
to make time,--dat ar's clar to der most or'nary 'bserver.
I jis make a little for her. Now,
you see, get all dese yer hosses loose, caperin' permiscus round dis yer lot and
down to de wood dar, and I spec Mas'r won't be off in a hurry."
"Yer see," said Sam, "yer
see, Andy, if any such thing should happen as that Mas'r Haley's horse _should_
begin to act contrary, and cut up, you and I jist lets go of our'n to help him,
and _we'll help him_--oh yes!" And
Sam and Andy laid their heads back on their shoulders, and broke into a low,
immoderate laugh, snapping their fingers and flourishing their heels with
At this instant, Haley appeared on the
verandah. Somewhat mollified by
certain cups of very good coffee, he came out smiling and talking, in tolerably
restored humor. Sam and Andy,
clawing for certain fragmentary palm-leaves, which they were in the habit of
considering as hats, flew to the horseposts, to be ready to "help
Sam's palm-leaf had been ingeniously
disentangled from all pretensions to braid, as respects its brim; and the
slivers starting apart, and standing upright, gave it a blazing air of freedom
and defiance, quite equal to that of any Fejee chief; while the whole brim of
Andy's being departed bodily, he rapped the crown on his head with a dexterous
thump, and looked about well pleased, as if to say, "Who says I haven't got
"Well, boys," said Haley,
"look alive now; we must lose no time."
"Not a bit of him, Mas'r!"
said Sam, putting Haley's rein in his hand, and holding his stirrup, while Andy
was untying the other two horses.
The instant Haley touched the saddle,
the mettlesome creature bounded from the earth with a sudden spring, that threw
his master sprawling, some feet off, on the soft, dry turf.
Sam, with frantic ejaculations, made a dive at the reins, but only
succeeded in brushing the blazing palm-leaf afore-named into the horse's eyes,
which by no means tended to allay the confusion of his nerves.
So, with great vehemence, he overturned Sam, and, giving two or three
contemptuous snorts, flourished his heels vigorously in the air, and was soon
prancing away towards the lower end of the lawn, followed by Bill and Jerry,
whom Andy had not failed to let loose, according to contract, speeding them off
with various direful ejaculations. And
now ensued a miscellaneous scene of confusion.
Sam and Andy ran and shouted,--dogs barked here and there,--and Mike,
Mose, Mandy, Fanny, and all the smaller specimens on the place, both male and
female, raced, clapped hands, whooped, and shouted, with outrageous
officiousness and untiring zeal.
Haley's horse, which was a white one,
and very fleet and spirited, appeared to enter into the spirit of the scene with
great gusto; and having for his coursing ground a lawn of nearly half a mile in
extent, gently sloping down on every side into indefinite woodland, he appeared
to take infinite delight in seeing how near he could allow his pursuers to
approach him, and then, when within a hand's breadth, whisk off with a start and
a snort, like a mischievous beast as he was and career far down into some alley
of the wood-lot. Nothing was
further from Sam's mind than to have any one of the troop taken until such
season as should seem to him most befitting,--and the exertions that he made
were certainly most heroic. Like
the sword of Coeur De Lion, which always blazed in the front and thickest of the
battle, Sam's palm-leaf was to be seen everywhere when there was the least
danger that a horse could be caught; there he would bear down full tilt,
shouting, "Now for it! cotch him! cotch him!" in a way that would set
everything to indiscriminate rout in a moment.
Haley ran up and down, and cursed and
swore and stamped miscellaneously. Mr.
Shelby in vain tried to shout directions from the balcony, and Mrs. Shelby from
her chamber window alternately laughed and wondered,--not without some inkling
of what lay at the bottom of all this confusion.
At last, about twelve o'clock, Sam
appeared triumphant, mounted on Jerry, with Haley's horse by his side, reeking
with sweat, but with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, showing that the spirit
of freedom had not yet entirely subsided.
"He's cotched!" he exclaimed,
triumphantly. "If 't hadn't
been for me, they might a bust themselves, all on 'em; but I cotched him!"
"You!" growled Haley, in no
amiable mood. "If it hadn't
been for you, this never would have happened."
"Lord bless us, Mas'r," said
Sam, in a tone of the deepest concern, "and me that has been racin' and
chasin' till the sweat jest pours off me!"
"Well, well!" said Haley,
"you've lost me near three hours, with your cursed nonsense.
Now let's be off, and have no more fooling."
"Why, Mas'r," said Sam, in a
deprecating tone, "I believe you mean to kill us all clar, horses and all.
Here we are all just ready to drop down, and the critters all in a reek
of sweat. Why, Mas'r won't think of
startin' on now till arter dinner. Mas'rs'
hoss wants rubben down; see how he splashed hisself; and Jerry limps too; don't
think Missis would be willin' to have us start dis yer way, no how.
Lord bless you, Mas'r, we can ketch up, if we do stop. Lizy never was no great of a walker."
Mrs. Shelby, who, greatly to her
amusement, had overheard this conversation from the verandah, now resolved to do
her part. She came forward, and,
courteously expressing her concern for Haley's accident, pressed him to stay to
dinner, saying that the cook should bring it on the table immediately.
Thus, all things considered, Haley, with
rather an equivocal grace, proceeded to the parlor, while Sam, rolling his eyes
after him with unutterable meaning, proceeded gravely with the horses to the
"Did yer see him, Andy? _did_ yer
see him? and Sam, when he had got fairly beyond the shelter of the barn, and
fastened the horse to a post. "O,
Lor, if it warn't as good as a meetin', now, to see him a dancin' and kickin'
and swarin' at us. Didn't I hear
him? Swar away, ole fellow (says I
to myself ); will yer have yer hoss now, or wait till you cotch him? (says I).
Lor, Andy, I think I can see him now."
And Sam and Andy leaned up against the barn and laughed to their hearts'
"Yer oughter seen how mad he
looked, when I brought the hoss up. Lord,
he'd a killed me, if he durs' to; and there I was a standin' as innercent and as
"Lor, I seed you," said Andy;
"an't you an old hoss, Sam?"
"Rather specks I am," said
Sam; "did yer see Missis up stars at the winder? I seed her laughin'."
"I'm sure, I was racin' so, I
didn't see nothing," said Andy.
"Well, yer see," said Sam,
proceeding gravely to wash down Haley's pony, "I 'se 'quired what yer may
call a habit _o' bobservation_, Andy. It's
a very 'portant habit, Andy; and I 'commend yer to be cultivatin' it, now yer
young. Hist up that hind foot,
Andy. Yer see, Andy, it's
_bobservation_ makes all de difference in niggers. Didn't I see which way the wind blew dis yer mornin'?
Didn't I see what Missis wanted, though she never let on?
Dat ar's bobservation, Andy. I
'spects it's what you may call a faculty. Faculties
is different in different peoples, but cultivation of 'em goes a great
"I guess if I hadn't helped your
bobservation dis mornin', yer wouldn't have seen your way so smart," said
"Andy," said Sam, "you's
a promisin' child, der an't no manner o' doubt.
I thinks lots of yer, Andy; and I don't feel no ways ashamed to take
idees from you. We oughtenter
overlook nobody, Andy, cause the smartest on us gets tripped up sometimes.
And so, Andy, let's go up to the house now.
I'll be boun' Missis'll give us an uncommon good bite, dis yer