“I say Tom!” said St. Clare’s voice, coming in the door at this moment.
Tom and Eva both started.
“What’s here?” said St. Clare, coming up and looking at the slate.
“O, it’s Tom’s letter. I’m helping him to write it,” said Eva; “isn’t it nice?”
“I wouldn’t discourage either of you,” said St. Clare, “but I rather think, Tom, you’d better get me to write your letter for you. I’ll do it, when I come home from my ride.”
“It’s very important he should write,” said Eva, “because his mistress is going to send down money to redeem him, you know, papa; he told me they told him so.”
St. Clare thought, in his heart, that this was probably only one of those things which good-natured owners say to their servants, to alleviate their horror of being sold, without any intention of fulfilling the expectation thus excited. But he did not make any audible comment upon it,—only ordered Tom to get the horses out for a ride.
Tom’s letter was written in due form for him that evening, and safely lodged in the post-office.
Miss Ophelia still persevered in her labors in the housekeeping line. It was universally agreed, among all the household, from Dinah down to the youngest urchin, that Miss Ophelia was decidedly “curis,”—a term by which a southern servant implies that his or her betters don’t exactly suit them.
The higher circle in the family—to wit, Adolph, Jane and Rosa—agreed that she was no lady; ladies never keep working about as she did,—that she had no air at all; and they were surprised that she should be any relation of the St. Clares. Even Marie declared that it was absolutely fatiguing to see Cousin Ophelia always so busy. And, in fact, Miss Ophelia’s industry was so incessant as to lay some foundation for the complaint. She sewed and stitched away, from daylight till dark, with the energy of one who is pressed on by some immediate urgency; and then, when the light faded, and the work was folded away, with one turn out came the ever-ready knitting-work, and there she was again, going on as briskly as ever. It really was a labor to see her.
One morning, while Miss Ophelia was busy in some of her domestic cares, St. Clare’s voice was heard, calling her at the foot of the stairs.
“Come down here, Cousin, I’ve something to show you.”
“What is it?” said Miss Ophelia, coming down, with her sewing in her hand.
“I’ve made a purchase for your department,—see here,” said St. Clare; and, with the word, he pulled along a little negro girl, about eight or nine years of age.