“Lucy,” said the woman.
“Wal, Lucy, yo my woman now. Yo grind dis yer corn, and get my supper baked, ye har?”
“I an’t your woman, and I won’t be!” said the woman, with the sharp, sudden courage of despair; “you go long!”
“I’ll kick yo, then!” said Sambo, raising his foot threateningly.
“Ye may kill me, if ye choose,—the sooner the better! Wish’t I was dead!” said she.
“I say, Sambo, you go to spilin’ the hands, I’ll tell Mas’r o’ you,” said Quimbo, who was busy at the mill, from which he had viciously driven two or three tired women, who were waiting to grind their corn.
“And, I’ll tell him ye won’t let the women come to the mills, yo old nigger!” said Sambo. “Yo jes keep to yo own row.”
Tom was hungry with his day’s journey, and almost faint for want of food.
“Thar, yo!” said Quimbo, throwing down a coarse bag, which contained a peck of corn; “thar, nigger, grab, take car on ’t,—yo won’t get no more, dis yer week.”
Tom waited till a late hour, to get a place at the mills; and then, moved by the utter weariness of two women, whom he saw trying to grind their corn there, he ground for them, put together the decaying brands of the fire, where many had baked cakes before them, and then went about getting his own supper. It was a new kind of work there,—a deed of charity, small as it was; but it woke an answering touch in their hearts,—an expression of womanly kindness came over their hard faces; they mixed his cake for him, and tended its baking; and Tom sat down by the light of the fire, and drew out his Bible,—for he had need for comfort.
“What’s that?” said one of the woman.
“A Bible,” said Tom.
“Good Lord! han’t seen un since I was in Kentuck.”
“Was you raised in Kentuck?” said Tom, with interest.
“Yes, and well raised, too; never ’spected to come to dis yer!” said the woman, sighing.
“What’s dat ar book, any way?” said the other woman.
“Why, the Bible.”
“Laws a me! what’s dat?” said the woman.
“Do tell! you never hearn on ’t?” said the other woman. “I used to har Missis a readin’ on ‘t, sometimes, in Kentuck; but, laws o’ me! we don’t har nothin’ here but crackin’ and swarin’.”
“Read a piece, anyways!” said the first woman, curiously, seeing Tom attentively poring over it.
Tom read,—“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“Them’s good words, enough,” said the woman; “who says ’em?”
“The Lord,” said Tom.
“I jest wish I know’d whar to find Him,” said the woman. “I would go; ’pears like I never should get rested again. My flesh is fairly sore, and I tremble all over, every day, and Sambo’s allers a jawin’ at me, ’cause I doesn’t pick faster; and nights it’s most midnight ’fore I can get my supper; and den ’pears like I don’t turn over and shut my eyes, ‘fore I hear de horn blow to get up, and at it agin in de mornin’. If I knew whar de Lor was, I’d tell him.”