Our readers may not be unwilling to glance back, for a
brief interval, at Uncle Tom's Cabin, on the Kentucky farm, and
see what has been transpiring among those whom he had left behind.
It was late in the summer afternoon, and the doors and
windows of the large parlor all stood open, to invite any stray
breeze, that might feel in a good humor, to enter. Mr. Shelby sat
in a large hall opening into the room, and running through the
whole length of the house, to a balcony on either end. Leisurely
tipped back on one chair, with his heels in another, he was enjoying
his after-dinner cigar. Mrs. Shelby sat in the door, busy about
some fine sewing; she seemed like one who had something on her
mind, which she was seeking an opportunity to introduce.
"Do you know," she said, "that Chloe has had a letter from Tom?"
"Ah! has she? Tom 's got some friend there, it seems. How is the
"He has been bought by a very fine family, I should think,"
said Mrs. Shelby,--"is kindly treated, and has not much to do."
"Ah! well, I'm glad of it,--very glad," said Mr. Shelby, heartily.
"Tom, I suppose, will get reconciled to a Southern residence;--hardly
want to come up here again."
"On the contrary he inquires very anxiously," said Mrs.
Shelby, "when the money for his redemption is to be raised."
"I'm sure I don't know," said Mr. Shelby. "Once get business
running wrong, there does seem to be no end to it. It's like
jumping from one bog to another, all through a swamp; borrow
of one to pay another, and then borrow of another to pay one,--and
these confounded notes falling due before a man has time to smoke
a cigar and turn round,--dunning letters and dunning messages,--all
scamper and hurry-scurry."
"It does seem to me, my dear, that something might be done
to straighten matters. Suppose we sell off all the horses, and
sell one of your farms, and pay up square?"
"O, ridiculous, Emily! You are the finest woman in Kentucky;
but still you haven't sense to know that you don't understand
business;--women never do, and never can.
"But, at least," said Mrs. Shelby, "could not you give me
some little insight into yours; a list of all your debts, at least,
and of all that is owed to you, and let me try and see if I can't
help you to economize."
"O, bother! don't plague me, Emily!--I can't tell exactly.
I know somewhere about what things are likely to be; but there's
no trimming and squaring my affairs, as Chloe trims crust off her
pies. You don't know anything about business, I tell you."
And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his
ideas, raised his voice,--a mode of arguing very convenient and
convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with
Mrs. Shelby ceased talking, with something of a sigh. The fact
was, that though her husband had stated she was a woman, she
had a clear, energetic, practical mind, and a force of character
every way superior to that of her husband; so that it would not
have been so very absurd a supposition, to have allowed her
capable of managing, as Mr. Shelby supposed. Her heart was set on
performing her promise to Tom and Aunt Chloe, and she sighed as
discouragements thickened around her.
"Don't you think we might in some way contrive to raise
that money? Poor Aunt Chloe! her heart is so set on it!"
"I'm sorry, if it is. I think I was premature in promising.
I'm not sure, now, but it's the best way to tell Chloe, and let
her make up her mind to it. Tom'll have another wife, in a year
or two; and she had better take up with somebody else."
"Mr. Shelby, I have taught my people that their marriages
are as sacred as ours. I never could think of giving Chloe
"It's a pity, wife, that you have burdened them with a morality
above their condition and prospects. I always thought so."
"It's only the morality of the Bible, Mr. Shelby."
"Well, well, Emily, I don't pretend to interfere with your
religious notions; only they seem extremely unfitted for people in
"They are, indeed," said Mrs. Shelby, "and that is why,
from my soul, I hate the whole thing. I tell you, my dear, I
cannot absolve myself from the promises I make to these helpless
creatures. If I can get the money no other way I will take
music-scholars;--I could get enough, I know, and earn the money
"You wouldn't degrade yourself that way, Emily? I never
could consent to it."
"Degrade! would it degrade me as much as to break my faith
with the helpless? No, indeed!"
"Well, you are always heroic and transcendental," said Mr.
Shelby, "but I think you had better think before you undertake such
a piece of Quixotism."
Here the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of
Aunt Chloe, at the end of the verandah.
"If you please, Missis," said she.
"Well, Chloe, what is it?" said her mistress, rising, and
going to the end of the balcony.
"If Missis would come and look at dis yer lot o' poetry."
Chloe had a particular fancy for calling poultry poetry,--an
application of language in which she always persisted, notwithstanding
frequent corrections and advisings from the young members of the
"La sakes!" she would say, "I can't see; one jis good as
turry,--poetry suthin good, any how;" and so poetry Chloe continued
to call it.
Mrs. Shelby smiled as she saw a prostrate lot of chickens
and ducks, over which Chloe stood, with a very grave face of
"I'm a thinkin whether Missis would be a havin a chicken
pie o' dese yer."
"Really, Aunt Chloe, I don't much care;--serve them any
way you like."
Chloe stood handling them over abstractedly; it was quite
evident that the chickens were not what she was thinking of.
At last, with the short laugh with which her tribe often introduce
a doubtful proposal, she said,
"Laws me, Missis! what should Mas'r and Missis be a troublin
theirselves 'bout de money, and not a usin what's right in der
hands?" and Chloe laughed again.
"I don't understand you, Chloe," said Mrs. Shelby, nothing
doubting, from her knowledge of Chloe's manner, that she had heard
every word of the conversation that had passed between her and her
"Why, laws me, Missis!" said Chloe, laughing again, "other folks
hires out der niggers and makes money on 'em! Don't keep sich
a tribe eatin 'em out of house and home."
"Well, Chloe, who do you propose that we should hire out?"
"Laws! I an't a proposin nothin; only Sam he said der was one
of dese yer perfectioners, dey calls 'em, in Louisville, said
he wanted a good hand at cake and pastry; and said he'd give four
dollars a week to one, he did."
"Well, laws, I 's a thinkin, Missis, it's time Sally was put
along to be doin' something. Sally 's been under my care, now,
dis some time, and she does most as well as me, considerin; and if
Missis would only let me go, I would help fetch up de money.
I an't afraid to put my cake, nor pies nother, 'long side no
"Law sakes, Missis! 'tan't no odds;--words is so curis,
can't never get 'em right!"
"But, Chloe, do you want to leave your children?"
"Laws, Missis! de boys is big enough to do day's works; dey does
well enough; and Sally, she'll take de baby,--she's such
a peart young un, she won't take no lookin arter."
"Louisville is a good way off."
"Law sakes! who's afeard?--it's down river, somer near my
old man, perhaps?" said Chloe, speaking the last in the tone of a
question, and looking at Mrs. Shelby.
"No, Chloe; it's many a hundred miles off," said Mrs. Shelby.
Chloe's countenance fell.
"Never mind; your going there shall bring you nearer, Chloe.
Yes, you may go; and your wages shall every cent of them be laid
aside for your husband's redemption."
As when a bright sunbeam turns a dark cloud to silver, so
Chloe's dark face brightened immediately,--it really shone.
"Laws! if Missis isn't too good! I was thinking of dat ar
very thing; cause I shouldn't need no clothes, nor shoes, nor
nothin,--I could save every cent. How many weeks is der in a
"Fifty-two," said Mrs. Shelby.
"Laws! now, dere is? and four dollars for each on em. Why, how
much 'd dat ar be?"
"Two hundred and eight dollars," said Mrs. Shelby.
"Why-e!" said Chloe, with an accent of surprise and delight;
"and how long would it take me to work it out, Missis?"
"Some four or five years, Chloe; but, then, you needn't do
it all,--I shall add something to it."
"I wouldn't hear to Missis' givin lessons nor nothin.
Mas'r's quite right in dat ar;--'t wouldn't do, no ways. I hope
none our family ever be brought to dat ar, while I 's got hands."
"Don't fear, Chloe; I'll take care of the honor of the family,"
said Mrs. Shelby, smiling. "But when do you expect to go?"
"Well, I want spectin nothin; only Sam, he's a gwine to de
river with some colts, and he said I could go long with him; so I
jes put my things together. If Missis was willin, I'd go with Sam
tomorrow morning, if Missis would write my pass, and write me a
"Well, Chloe, I'll attend to it, if Mr. Shelby has no
objections. I must speak to him."
Mrs. Shelby went up stairs, and Aunt Chloe, delighted, went
out to her cabin, to make her preparation.
"Law sakes, Mas'r George! ye didn't know I 's a gwine to
Louisville tomorrow!" she said to George, as entering her cabin,
he found her busy in sorting over her baby's clothes. "I thought
I'd jis look over sis's things, and get 'em straightened up. But
I'm gwine, Mas'r George,--gwine to have four dollars a week; and
Missis is gwine to lay it all up, to buy back my old man agin!"
"Whew!" said George, "here's a stroke of business, to be sure!
How are you going?"
"Tomorrow, wid Sam. And now, Mas'r George, I knows you'll
jis sit down and write to my old man, and tell him all about
"To be sure," said George; "Uncle Tom'll be right glad to hear
from us. I'll go right in the house, for paper and ink; and
then, you know, Aunt Chloe, I can tell about the new colts and all."
"Sartin, sartin, Mas'r George; you go 'long, and I'll get
ye up a bit o' chicken, or some sich; ye won't have many more
suppers wid yer poor old aunty."