"Mas'r," said Tom, — and he stood very straight, — "I was jist eight years old when ole Missis put you into my arms, and you wasn't a year old. 'Thar,' says she, 'Tom, that's to be your young Mas'r; take good care on him,' says she. And now I jist ask you, Mas'r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you, 'specially since I was a Christian?"
Mr. Shelby was fairly overcome, and the tears rose to his eyes.
"My good boy," said he, "the Lord knows you say but the truth; and if I was able to help it, all the world shouldn't buy you."
"And sure as I am a Christian woman," said Mrs. Shelby, "you shall be redeemed as soon as I can any bring together means. Sir," she said to Haley, "take good account of who you sell him to, and let me know."
"Lor, yes, for that matter," said the trader, "I may bring him up in a year, not much the wuss for wear, and trade him back."
"I'll trade with you then, and make it for your advantage," said Mrs. Shelby.
"Of course," said the trader, "all 's equal with me; li'ves trade 'em up as down, so I does a good business. All I want is a livin', you know, ma'am; that's all any on us wants, I, s'pose."
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt annoyed and degraded by the familiar impudence of the trader, and yet both saw the absolute necessity of putting a constraint on their feelings. The more hopelessly sordid and insensible he appeared, the greater became Mrs. Shelby's dread of his succeeding in recapturing Eliza and her child, and of course the greater her motive for detaining him by every female artifice. She therefore graciously smiled, assented, chatted familiarly, and did all she could to make time pass imperceptibly.
At two o'clock Sam and Andy brought the horses up to the posts, apparently greatly refreshed and invigorated by the scamper of the morning.
Sam was there new oiled from dinner, with an abundance of zealous and ready officiousness. As Haley approached, he was boasting, in flourishing style, to Andy, of the evident and eminent success of the operation, now that he had "farly come to it."
"Your master, I s'pose, don't keep no dogs," said Haley, thoughtfully, as he prepared to mount.
"Heaps on 'em," said Sam, triumphantly; "thar's Bruno — he's a roarer! and, besides that, 'bout every nigger of us keeps a pup of some natur or uther."
"Poh!" said Haley, — and he said something else, too, with regard to the said dogs, at which Sam muttered,
"I don't see no use cussin' on 'em, no way."
"But your master don't keep no dogs (I pretty much know he don't) for trackin' out niggers."
Sam knew exactly what he meant, but he kept on a look of earnest and desperate simplicity.
"Our dogs all smells round considable sharp. I spect they's the kind, though they han't never had no practice. They 's far dogs, though, at most anything, if you'd get 'em started. Here, Bruno," he called, whistling to the lumbering Newfoundland, who came pitching tumultuously toward them.
"You go hang!" said Haley, getting up. "Come, tumble up now."
Sam tumbled up accordingly, dexterously contriving to tickle Andy as he did so, which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh, greatly to Haley's indignation, who made a cut at him with his riding-whip.
"I 's 'stonished at yer, Andy," said Sam, with awful gravity. "This yer's a seris bisness, Andy. Yer mustn't be a makin' game. This yer an't no way to help Mas'r."
"I shall take the straight road to the river," said Haley, decidedly, after they had come to the boundaries of the estate. "I know the way of all of 'em, — they makes tracks for the underground."
"Sartin," said Sam, "dat's de idee. Mas'r Haley hits de thing right in de middle. Now, der's two roads to de river, — de dirt road and der pike, — which Mas'r mean to take?"
Andy looked up innocently at Sam, surprised at hearing this new geographical fact, but instantly confirmed what he said, by a vehement reiteration.
"Cause," said Sam, "I'd rather be 'clined to 'magine that Lizy 'd take de dirt road, bein' it's the least travelled."
Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought up by this view of the case.
"If yer warn't both on yer such cussed liars, now!" he said, contemplatively as he pondered a moment.
The pensive, reflective tone in which this was spoken appeared to amuse Andy prodigiously, and he drew a little behind, and shook so as apparently to run a great risk of failing off his horse, while Sam's face was immovably composed into the most doleful gravity.
"Course," said Sam, "Mas'r can do as he'd ruther, go de straight road, if Mas'r thinks best, — it's all one to us. Now, when I study 'pon it, I think de straight road de best, deridedly."
"She would naturally go a lonesome way," said Haley, thinking aloud, and not minding Sam's remark.
"Dar an't no sayin'," said Sam; "gals is pecular; they never does nothin' ye thinks they will; mose gen'lly the contrary. Gals is nat'lly made contrary; and so, if you thinks they've gone one road, it is sartin you'd better go t' other, and then you'll be sure to find 'em. Now, my private 'pinion is, Lizy took der road; so I think we'd better take de straight one."
This profound generic view of the female sex did not seem to dispose Haley particularly to the straight road, and he announced decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam when they should come to it.
"A little piece ahead," said Sam, giving a wink to Andy with the eye which was on Andy's side of the head; and he added, gravely, "but I've studded on de matter, and I'm quite clar we ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no way. It's despit lonesome, and we might lose our way, — whar we'd come to, de Lord only knows."
"Nevertheless," said Haley, "I shall go that way."
"Now I think on 't, I think I hearn 'em tell that dat ar road was all fenced up and down by der creek, and thar, an't it, Andy?"
Andy wasn't certain; he'd only "hearn tell" about that road, but never been over it. In short, he was strictly noncommittal.
Haley, accustomed to strike the balance of probabilities between lies of greater or lesser magnitude, thought that it lay in favor of the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam's part at first, and his confused attempts to dissuade him he set down to a desperate lying on second thoughts, as being unwilling to implicate Liza.
When, therefore, Sam indicated the road, Haley plunged briskly into it, followed by Sam and Andy.