Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 11
A short, heavyset man strides into a tavern in Kentucky, appearing to be uneasy. He approaches a man in the tavern, a long-legged fellow who is spitting out his tobacco with gusto. The two men begin chatting when they notice a group of men gathered around a piece of paper. The man asks to see it and reads that it is an advertisement for a slave named George, who is described as an intelligent, light-skinned mulatto with an "H" branded into his right hand. The ad promises $400 to any man who can catch him or prove with satisfaction that he has been killed. The long-legged man spits a wad of tobacco juice on the advertisement, angrily declaring that anyone who treats their slaves with respect will not have them running away. Mr. Wilson, the heavyset man, agrees with the man and explains that he had employed that very slave in his factory, and that George was an ingenious, hard-working man who had invented a machine for the cleaning of hemp. Suddenly another gentleman walks into the bar, a Spanish-looking man of obviously refined bearing. He takes a look at the advertisement and remarks to his servant, Jim, that he thought they had seen a fellow matching that description the day before. The gentleman then asks the landlord of the establishment to furnish him with an apartment for the evening, as he has some writing to do immediately. The landlord obliges, and the man turns to Mr. Wilson, who is staring at him with astonishment. He introduces himself as Mr. Butler and apologizes for not immediately recognizing Mr. Wilson. Mr. Butler then asks Mr. Wilson to accompany him to his room so that they may discuss a matter of business. When they arrive in his room, Mr. Butler closes the door, and Mr. Wilson exclaims, "George!", having recognized the true identity of "Mr. Butler." George explains that he has disguised his skin color with walnut bark and dyed his hair. Mr. Wilson is disappointed in George, and he begins quoting scriptures and telling him that he should not break the law.
George appeals to his former boss, defensively asking Mr. Wilson if he would not try to run away if he were deprived of seeing his wife and children and bound to servitude. Mr. Wilson understands George's predicament but is nonetheless worried for him. He asks George to consider what could happen if he is caught. George shows Mr. Wilson two pistols and a Bowie knife and declares that he will kill himself rather than be captured. Mr. Wilson pities George and tells him that this way of thinking is horrible and destructive. George tells him the story of his upbringing--how his mother was sold away from her seven children, and how the only family member George was able to stay near was his sister, because a man purchased the two of them. He tells of how he saw and heard his sister being brutally beaten, how his sister was sold away from him into the New Orleans slave market, how George grew up alone, never hearing a kind word until he walked into Mr. Wilson's factory. He tells Mr. Wilson that the work made him happy and that he finally found love when he met Eliza. But then, George says bitterly, his master jerked him out of the factory to "put him in his place" and forbade him to see Eliza, telling him he would have to marry a woman on his farm. The speech moves Mr. Wilson, who angrily curses the circumstances that led to George's flight. He gives George money, which George initially refuses but accepts at Mr. Wilson's insistence, on the condition that he may one day pay him back.
George asks Mr. Wilson one last favor--to give Eliza a pin that she had given him as a gift and to tell her that he loved her to the last. Mr. Wilson agrees and tells George to hold fast to his faith in God. George bitterly wonders aloud if God exists, and Mr. Wilson tells him passionately to trust in God, for if God will not set things right in this life, He might in a future one.
George solemnly thanks Mr. Wilson for this advice and tells him he will think of it.