Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
1. Mr. and Mrs. Shelby had retired to their room for the night. He was lounging in a large easy chair, looking over some letters that had come in the afternoon mail, and she was standing before her mirror, brushing out the complicated braids and curls in which Eliza had arranged her hair; for, noticing her pale cheeks and haggard eyes, she had excused her attendance that night, and ordered her to bed. The employment, naturally enough, suggested her conversation with the girl in the morning; and turning to her husband, she said, carelessly,
2. "By the by, Arthur, who was that low-bred fellow that you lugged in to our dinner-table today?"
3. "Haley is his name," said Shelby, turning himself rather uneasily in his chair, and continuing with his eyes fixed on a letter.
4. "Haley! Who is he, and what may be his business here, pray?"
5. "Well, he's a man that I transacted some business with, last time I was at Natchez," said Mr. Shelby.
6. "And he presumed on it to make himself quite at home, and call and dine here, ay?"
7. "Why, I invited him; I had some accounts with him," said Shelby.
8. "Is he a trader?" said Mrs. Shelby, noticing a certain embarrassment in her husband's manner.
9. "Why, my dear, what put that into your head?" said Shelby, looking up.
10. "Nothing,-only Eliza came in here, after dinner, in a great worry, crying and taking on, and said you were talking with a trader, and that she heard him make an offer for her boy-the ridiculous little goose!"
11. "She did, hey?" said Mr. Shelby, returning to his paper, which he seemed for a few moments quite intent upon, not perceiving that he was holding it bottom upwards. "It will have to come out," said he, mentally; "as well now as ever."
12. "I told Eliza," said Mrs. Shelby, as she continued brushing her hair, "that she was a little fool for her pains, and that you never had anything to do with that sort of person. Of course, I knew you never meant to sell any of our people,-least of all, to such a fellow."
13. "Well, Emily,andrdquo, said her husband, "so I have always felt and said; but the fact is that my business lies so that I cannot get on without. I shall have to sell some of my hands."
14. "To that creature? Impossible! Mr. Shelby, you cannot be serious."
15. "I'm sorry to say that I am," said Mr. Shelby. "I've agreed to sell Tom."
16. "What! Our Tom?-that good, faithful creature!-been your faithful servant from a boy! O, Mr. Shelby!-and you have promised him his freedom, too,-you and I have spoken to him a hundred times of it. Well, I can believe anything now,-I can believe now that you could sell little Harry, poor Eliza's only child!" said Mrs. Shelby, in a tone between grief and indignation.
17. "Well, since you must know all, it is so. I have agreed to sell Tom and Harry both, and I don't know why I am to be rated, as if I were a monster, for doing what everyone does every day."
18. "But why, of all others, choose these?" said Mrs. Shelby. "Why sell them, of all on the place, if you must sell at all?"
19. "Because they will bring the highest sum of any,-that's why. I could choose another if you say so. The fellow made me a high bid on Eliza if that would suit you any better," said Mr. Shelby.
20. "The wretch!" said Mrs. Shelby, vehemently.
21. "Well, I didn't listen to it, a moment,-out of regard to your feelings, I wouldn't;-so give me some credit."
22. "My dear," said Mrs. Shelby, recollecting herself, "Forgive me. I have been hasty. I was surprised and entirely unprepared for this;-but surely, you will allow me to intercede for these poor creatures. Tom is a noble-hearted, faithful fellow, even if he is black. I do believe, Mr. Shelby, that if he were put to it, he would lay down his life for you."
23. "I know it,-I dare say;-but what's the use of all this?-I can't help myself."