“He’s most gone, Mas’r,” said Sambo, touched, in spite of himself, by the patience of his victim.
“Pay away, till he gives up! Give it to him!—give it to him!” shouted Legree. “I’ll take every drop of blood he has, unless he confesses!”
Tom opened his eyes, and looked upon his master. “Ye poor miserable critter!” he said, “there ain’t no more ye can do! I forgive ye, with all my soul!” and he fainted entirely away.
“I b’lieve, my soul, he’s done for, finally,” said Legree, stepping forward, to look at him. “Yes, he is! Well, his mouth’s shut up, at last,—that’s one comfort!”
Yes, Legree; but who shall shut up that voice in thy soul? that soul, past repentance, past prayer, past hope, in whom the fire that never shall be quenched is already burning!
Yet Tom was not quite gone. His wondrous words and pious prayers had struck upon the hearts of the imbruted blacks, who had been the instruments of cruelty upon him; and, the instant Legree withdrew, they took him down, and, in their ignorance, sought to call him back to life,—as if that were any favor to him.
“Sartin, we ‘s been doin’ a drefful wicked thing!” said Sambo; “hopes Mas’r’ll have to ’count for it, and not we.”
They washed his wounds,—they provided a rude bed, of some refuse cotton, for him to lie down on; and one of them, stealing up to the house, begged a drink of brandy of Legree, pretending that he was tired, and wanted it for himself. He brought it back, and poured it down Tom’s throat.
“O, Tom!” said Quimbo, “we’s been awful wicked to ye!”
“I forgive ye, with all my heart!” said Tom, faintly.
“O, Tom! do tell us who is Jesus, anyhow?” said Sambo;—“Jesus, that’s been a standin’ by you so, all this night!—Who is he?”
The word roused the failing, fainting spirit. He poured forth a few energetic sentences of that wondrous One,—his life, his death, his everlasting presence, and power to save.
They wept,—both the two savage men.
“Why didn’t I never hear this before?” said Sambo; “but I do believe!—I can’t help it! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!”
“Poor critters!” said Tom, “I’d be willing to bar’ all I have, if it’ll only bring ye to Christ! O, Lord! give me these two more souls, I pray!”
That prayer was answered!
The Young Master
Two days after, a young man drove a light wagon up through the avenue of China trees, and, throwing the reins hastily on the horse’s neck, sprang out and inquired for the owner of the place.
It was George Shelby; and, to show how he came to be there, we must go back in our story.
The letter of Miss Ophelia to Mrs. Shelby had, by some unfortunate accident, been detained, for a month or two, at some remote post-office, before it reached its destination; and, of course, before it was received, Tom was already lost to view among the distant swamps of the Red river.