‘You mustn’t, now, tell Chloe, poor soul, how ye found me,’ said Tom, taking George by the hand. ’It would seem so dreadful to her. Only tell her ye found me going into glory, and that I couldn’t stay for no one. And oh, the poor chil’en, and the baby—my old heart’s been most broke for them. Tell them to follow me. Give my love to mas’r, and dear, good missis, and everybody in the place. I love them all.’
He closed his eyes, and with a smile he fell asleep. Uncle Tom too was free.
Beyond the gates of Legree’s farm, George had noticed a dry, sandy knoll, shaded by a few trees. There he made Uncle Tom’s grave. No stone marks his last resting-place. He needs none. God knows where he lies.
Kneeling there George bent his head, in shame and sorrow. ’Here me, dear God,’ he said, ’from this day, I will do what one man can to drive out the curse of slavery from this land.’
GEORGE SHELBY FREES HIS SLAVES
George Shelby wrote a little note to his mother, telling her that he was coming home. He tried to write about Uncle Tom, but he could not; tears blinded him, and sobs choked him.
On the day he was expected every one was in a state of bustle and excitement. Aunt Chloe in a new print dress, and clean white apron walked round the supper-table, making sure that everything was right. Her black face shone with joy at the thought of seeing Uncle Tom again.
‘I’m thinking my old man won’t know the boys and the baby,’ she said.
Mrs. Shelby sighed. Ever since the letter had come from George she had had a very sad heart. She felt sure something must be wrong.
‘He won’t know the baby, my old man won’t,’ said Chloe again, ’Why, it’s five years since they took him.’
Just then the sound of wheels was heard.
‘It’s Mas’r George,’ cried Aunt Chloe, running to the window in great excitement.
Mrs. Shelby ran to the door. As George met her he put his arms round her, and kissed her tenderly.
Aunt Chloe stood behind anxiously looking out into the darkness.
‘Oh, poor Aunt Chloe,’ said George, gently taking her hard, black hand between both his own. ’I’d have given all my fortune to have brought Uncle Tom home with me; but he has gone to a better country.’ Mrs. Shelby cried out as if she had been hurt, but Aunt Chloe did not make a sound.
In silence they went into the supper-room.
‘There,’ said Aunt Chloe, holding out her trembling hands to her mistress, ’it’s just as I knew it would be. He’s been sold and murdered on dem old plantations.’
Then she turned and walked proudly out of the room. Mrs. Shelby followed her softly, took one of her hands, drew her down into a chair, and sat down beside her.
‘My poor, good Chloe,’ she said gently.