With a long-drawn sigh, Hugh finished his supper, and was about lighting his cigar when he felt some one touching him, and turning around he saw that Sam had grasped his coat. The negro had heard the conversation, and drawn correct conclusions. His new master was not rich. He could not afford to buy him, and having bought him could not afford to keep him. There was a sigh in the old man’s heart, as he thought how useless he was, but when he heard about the baby, his spirits arose at once. In all the world there was nothing so precious to Sam as a child, a little white child, with waxen hands to pat his old black face, and his work was found.
“Mas’r,” he whispered, “Sam kin take keer that baby. He knows how, and the little children in Georgy, whar I comed from, used to be mighty fond of Sam. I’ll tend to the young lady, too. Is she yourn, mas’r?”
’Lina laughed aloud, while Hugh replied:
“She’s mine while I take care of her.”
Then, turning to his sister, he asked if she procured what she wanted.
With a threatening frown at Lulu, who had seen and gone into ecstasies over the rose silk, ’Lina answered that she was fortunate enough to get just what she wanted, adding quickly:
“It’s to be a much gayer affair than I supposed. They are invited from Louisville, and even from Cincinnati, so Mr. Harney says.”
“Harney, did you trade there?” Hugh asked.
“Why, yes. It’s the largest and best store in town. Why shouldn’t I?” ’Lina replied, while Sam, catching at the name, put in:
“Hartley’s the man what foreclosed the mortgage. You orto hear ole mas’r cuss him oncet. Sharp chap, dat Harney; mighty hard on de blacks, folks say,” and glad to have escaped from his clutches, Sam turned again to his dozing reverie, which was broken at last by Hugh’s calling Claib, and bidding him show Sam where he was to sleep.
How long Hugh did sit up that night, and ’Lina, who wanted so much to see once more just how her rose silk looked by lamplight, thought he never would take her broad hints and leave. He dreaded to go—dreaded to exchange that warm, pleasant room for the cold, cheerless chamber above, where he knew no fire would greet him, for he had told Claib not to make one, and that was why he lingered as long below. But the ordeal must be met, and just as the clock was striking eleven, he bade his mother and sister good-night, whistling as he bounded up the stairs, by way of keeping up his spirits. How dreary and dark it looked in his room, as with a feeling akin to homesickness Hugh set his candle down and glanced at the empty hearth.