“Then you don’t believe that the Bible justifies slavery,” said Miss Ophelia.
“The Bible was my mother’s book,” said St. Clare. “By it she lived and died, and I would be very sorry to think it did. I’d as soon desire to have it proved that my mother could drink brandy, chew tobacco, and swear, by way of satisfying me that I did right in doing the same. It wouldn’t make me at all more satisfied with these things in myself, and it would take from me the comfort of respecting her; and it really is a comfort, in this world, to have anything one can respect. In short, you see,” said he, suddenly resuming his gay tone, “all I want is that different things be kept in different boxes. The whole frame-work of society, both in Europe and America, is made up of various things which will not stand the scrutiny of any very ideal standard of morality. It’s pretty generally understood that men don’t aspire after the absolute right, but only to do about as well as the rest of the world. Now, when any one speaks up, like a man, and says slavery is necessary to us, we can’t get along without it, we should be beggared if we give it up, and, of course, we mean to hold on to it,—this is strong, clear, well-defined language; it has the respectability of truth to it; and, if we may judge by their practice, the majority of the world will bear us out in it. But when he begins to put on a long face, and snuffle, and quote Scripture, I incline to think he isn’t much better than he should be.”
“You are very uncharitable,” said Marie.
“Well,” said St. Clare, “suppose that something should bring down the price of cotton once and forever, and make the whole slave property a drug in the market, don’t you think we should soon have another version of the Scripture doctrine? What a flood of light would pour into the church, all at once, and how immediately it would be discovered that everything in the Bible and reason went the other way!”
“Well, at any rate,” said Marie, as she reclined herself on a lounge, “I’m thankful I’m born where slavery exists; and I believe it’s right,—indeed, I feel it must be; and, at any rate, I’m sure I couldn’t get along without it.”
“I say, what do you think, Pussy?” said her father to Eva, who came in at this moment, with a flower in her hand.
“What about, papa?”
“Why, which do you like the best,—to live as they do at your uncle’s, up in Vermont, or to have a house-full of servants, as we do?”
“O, of course, our way is the pleasantest,” said Eva.
“Why so?” said St. Clare, stroking her head.
“Why, it makes so many more round you to love, you know,” said Eva, looking up earnestly.
“Now, that’s just like Eva,” said Marie; “just one of her odd speeches.”
“Is it an odd speech, papa?” said Eva, whisperingly, as she got upon his knee.
“Rather, as this world goes, Pussy,” said St. Clare. “But where has my little Eva been, all dinner-time?”