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Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly (Modern Library Classics)


Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly (Modern Library Classics) Cover




Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone

over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P—, in Kentucky.

There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely

approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties,

however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under

the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and

that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his

way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many

colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a

flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and

coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold

watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of colors,

attached to it,—which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of

flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and

easy defiance of Murray's Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with

various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account

shall induce us to transcribe.

His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the

arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy,

and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated, the two were in the midst of

an earnest conversation.

'That is the way I should arrange the matter,' said Mr. Shelby.

'I can't make trade that way—I positively can't, Mr. Shelby,' said the other, holding

up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.

'Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum

anywhere—steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock.'

'You mean honest, as niggers go,' said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.

'No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at

a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I've trusted him,

since then, with everything I have,—money, house, horses,—and let him come and

go round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything.'

'Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers, Shelby,' said Haley, with a candid

flourish of his hand, 'but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to

Orleans—'twas as good as a meetin', now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was

quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap

of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I consider

religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it's the genuine article, and no mistake.'

'Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever a fellow had,' rejoined the other. 'Why, last

fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five

hundred dollars. 'Tom,' says I to him, 'I trust you, because I think you're a

Christian—'I know you wouldn't cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he

would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him—'Tom, why don't you make tracks

for Canada?' 'Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn't'—they told me about it. I am sorry

to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the

debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience.'

'Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to

keep,—just a little, you know, to swear by, as 'twere,' said the trader, jocularly; 'and

then, I'm ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a

leetle too hard on a fellow—a leetle too hard.' The trader sighed contemplatively, and

poured out some more brandy.

'Well, then, Haley, how will you trade?' said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of


'Well, haven't you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?'

'Hum!—none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, it's only hard necessity makes

me willing to sell at all. I don't like parting with any of my hands, that's a fact.'

Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of

age, entered the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful

and engaging. His black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his

round, dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked

out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered curiously into the apartment. A

gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to

advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of

assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to

being petted and noticed by his master.

Product Details

Smiley, Jane
Smiley, Jane
Harriet Beecher Stowe Introduction by Jane Smiley
Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Modern Library
New York
Southern states
Political fiction
Plantation life
African Americans
Didactic fiction
Fugitive slaves
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
The Modern Library classics
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.2 x 1.14 in 1.13 lb

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"Synopsis" by , Harriet Beecher Stowe's stirring indictment of slavery and portrait of human dignity in the most inhuman circumstances.
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