“I’ll have the first juniper-berries that get ripe in our garden by the lake brought in for that special purpose,” said St. Clare, gravely pulling the bell as he did so; “meanwhile, cousin, you must be wanting to retire to your apartment, and refresh yourself a little, after your journey. Dolph,” he added, “tell Mammy to come here.” The decent mulatto woman whom Eva had caressed so rapturously soon entered; she was dressed neatly, with a high red and yellow turban on her head, the recent gift of Eva, and which the child had been arranging on her head. “Mammy,” said St. Clare, “I put this lady under your care; she is tired, and wants rest; take her to her chamber, and be sure she is made comfortable,” and Miss Ophelia disappeared in the rear of Mammy.
Tom’s Mistress and Her Opinions
“And now, Marie,” said St. Clare, “your golden days are dawning. Here is our practical, business-like New England cousin, who will take the whole budget of cares off your shoulders, and give you time to refresh yourself, and grow young and handsome. The ceremony of delivering the keys had better come off forthwith.”
This remark was made at the breakfast-table, a few mornings after Miss Ophelia had arrived.
“I’m sure she’s welcome,” said Marie, leaning her head languidly on her hand. “I think she’ll find one thing, if she does, and that is, that it’s we mistresses that are the slaves, down here.”
“O, certainly, she will discover that, and a world of wholesome truths besides, no doubt,” said St. Clare.
“Talk about our keeping slaves, as if we did it for our convenience,” said Marie. “I’m sure, if we consulted that, we might let them all go at once.”
Evangeline fixed her large, serious eyes on her mother’s face, with an earnest and perplexed expression, and said, simply, “What do you keep them for, mamma?”
“I don’t know, I’m sure, except for a plague; they are the plague of my life. I believe that more of my ill health is caused by them than by any one thing; and ours, I know, are the very worst that ever anybody was plagued with.”
“O, come, Marie, you’ve got the blues, this morning,” said St. Clare. “You know ’t isn’t so. There’s Mammy, the best creature living,—what could you do without her?”
“Mammy is the best I ever knew,” said Marie; “and yet Mammy, now, is selfish—dreadfully selfish; it’s the fault of the whole race.”
“Selfishness is a dreadful fault,” said St. Clare, gravely.
“Well, now, there’s Mammy,” said Marie, “I think it’s selfish of her to sleep so sound nights; she knows I need little attentions almost every hour, when my worst turns are on, and yet she’s so hard to wake. I absolutely am worse, this very morning, for the efforts I had to make to wake her last night.”
“Hasn’t she sat up with you a good many nights, lately, mamma?” said Eva.