’I suppose so, Tom. You will be going off and leaving me, in a month or two,’ he said, rather discontentedly. ’Though why you shouldn’t, I don’t know,’ he added, in a gayer voice.
‘Not while mas’r is in trouble,’ said Tom. ’I’ll stay with mas’r as long as he wants me—so as I can be of any use.’
‘Not while I am in trouble, Tom?’ said Mr. St. Clare, looking sadly out of the window. ‘And when will my trouble be over?’ Then half-smiling he turned from the window, and laid his hand on Tom’s shoulder. ’Ah, Tom, you soft, silly boy,’ he said. ’I won’t keep you. Go home to your wife and children, and give them all my love.’
‘Cousin,’ said Miss Ophelia, coming into the room, ’I want to speak to you about Topsy.’
‘What has she been doing now?’
’Nothing; she is a much better girl than she used to be. But I want to ask you, whose is she—yours or mine?’
‘Why yours, of course; I gave her to you,’ said Mr. St. Clare.
’But not by law. There is no use my trying to make this child a Christian, unless I can be quite sure that she will not be sold as a slave again. If you are really willing I should have her, I want you to give me a paper saying she is mine.’
’But you think it is wicked to keep slaves. Now you want to have one of your own. Oh! shocking, cousin,’ said Mr. St. Clare, who loved to tease.
‘Nonsense! I only want to have her, so that I can set her free.’
‘Very well,’ said Mr. St. Clare, ‘I will write the paper for you.’ Then he sat down and began to read.
‘But I want it done now,’ said Miss Ophelia.
‘Why are you in such a hurry?’
‘Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing in,’ said Miss Ophelia. ’want to make sure of it. You may die or lose all your money. Then Topsy would be taken away and sold, in spite of anything I could say.’
Mr. St. Clare hated being made to do things when he didn’t want to. However, after teasing his cousin a little more, he wrote out the paper, and Topsy belonged to Miss Ophelia. That evening Mr. St. Clare went out for a ride.
Tom saw him go, and asked if he should come too. ‘No, my boy,’ said Mr. St. Clare, ‘I shall be back in an hour.’
Tom sat down on the verandah to wait till his master came home. While he waited, he fell asleep.
Presently he was awakened by loud knocking, and the sound of voices at the gate.
He ran to open it.
Several men were there carrying a load. It was Mr. St. Clare. He had been hurt in an accident, and was dying.
Very gently they laid him on a sofa. Nothing could be done. In a short time he had gone to join his little Eva.
UNCLE TOM’S NEW MASTER
There had been great grief in the house when Eva died. Now there was not only sorrow, but gloom and fear.