Uncle Tom's Cabin eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 531 pages of information about Uncle Tom's Cabin.

There is a dread, unhallowed necromancy of evil, that turns things sweetest and holiest to phantoms of horror and affright.  That pale, loving mother,—­her dying prayers, her forgiving love,—­wrought in that demoniac heart of sin only as a damning sentence, bringing with it a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.  Legree burned the hair, and burned the letter; and when he saw them hissing and crackling in the flame, inly shuddered as he thought of everlasting fires.  He tried to drink, and revel, and swear away the memory; but often, in the deep night, whose solemn stillness arraigns the bad soul in forced communion with herself, he had seen that pale mother rising by his bedside, and felt the soft twining of that hair around his fingers, till the cold sweat would roll down his face, and he would spring from his bed in horror.  Ye who have wondered to hear, in the same evangel, that God is love, and that God is a consuming fire, see ye not how, to the soul resolved in evil, perfect love is the most fearful torture, the seal and sentence of the direst despair?

“Blast it!” said Legree to himself, as he sipped his liquor; “where did he get that?  If it didn’t look just like—­whoo!  I thought I’d forgot that.  Curse me, if I think there’s any such thing as forgetting anything, any how,—­hang it!  I’m lonesome!  I mean to call Em.  She hates me—­the monkey!  I don’t care,—­I’ll make her come!”

Legree stepped out into a large entry, which went up stairs, by what had formerly been a superb winding staircase; but the passage-way was dirty and dreary, encumbered with boxes and unsightly litter.  The stairs, uncarpeted, seemed winding up, in the gloom, to nobody knew where!  The pale moonlight streamed through a shattered fanlight over the door; the air was unwholesome and chilly, like that of a vault.

Legree stopped at the foot of the stairs, and heard a voice singing.  It seemed strange and ghostlike in that dreary old house, perhaps because of the already tremulous state of his nerves.  Hark! what is it?

A wild, pathetic voice, chants a hymn common among the slaves: 

     “O there’ll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
     O there’ll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!”

“Blast the girl!” said Legree.  “I’ll choke her.—­Em!  Em!” he called, harshly; but only a mocking echo from the walls answered him.  The sweet voice still sung on: 

     “Parents and children there shall part! 
     Parents and children there shall part! 
     Shall part to meet no more!”

And clear and loud swelled through the empty halls the refrain,

     “O there’ll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
     O there’ll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!”

Legree stopped.  He would have been ashamed to tell of it, but large drops of sweat stood on his forehead, his heart beat heavy and thick with fear; he even thought he saw something white rising and glimmering in the gloom before him, and shuddered to think what if the form of his dead mother should suddenly appear to him.

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Uncle Tom's Cabin from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.