Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 35
Legree is sitting in his living room drinking and cursing Sambo to himself for cutting up Tom so badly during the busiest part of the season, when his work is needed most. Cassy, coming up from behind him, mutters sarcastically that the remark is just like him. He threatens to put her back to picking cotton, and she replies that she'd rather pick cotton than be under his hoof. He replies that she is, no matter what she does, then tells her to sit down on his knee. She leans in and hisses at him, saying, "'You're afraid of me, Simon, and you've reason to be. But be careful, for I've got the devil in me!'" Chapter 35, pg. 368 He replies that he believes that she does, and he is secretly a little afraid of her, especially since he has noticed that she seems to have grown wilder lately and seems to be hovering on the brink of insanity. She scolds him for being so cruel to Tom. Just then, Sambo enters, telling Legree he has something to show him. He pulls out a piece of paper, telling him it's some "witch thing" he found on a string around Tom's neck. Legree takes the paper, and Eva's curl falls to the floor. Legree jumps as if frightened and angrily stamps on the hair, demanding that someone burn it and cursing Sambo for bringing it to him. Startled, Sambo slips out, and Cassy leaves behind him. What Legree did not tell his slaves, is why the hair disturbed him so--it seemed that as a boy in New England, Legree had been gently loved by a pious mother who took him to church and adored him, even though he seemed to take after his cruel and hard-hearted father. She begged him to change, but he spurned her and left to make his fortune at sea. He came home only once, and she fell to her knees at his feet, begging and pleading for him to change his ways. Though he felt a momentary pang, he rejected her again, kicking her away from him violently. One day, after he left, he received a letter--containing a curl of her hair. The letter revealed that she had died, but that she had blessed and forgiven him before she died. Seeing Eva's hair had shocked and disturbed him, and he suddenly found himself feeling lonely and afraid.
Legree ordered Sambo and Quimbo to come and dance and sing for his entertainment. They did, and Cassy heard their loud singing as she returned from treating Tom's wounds. She silently asked herself if it would be a sin to rid the world of him, then knocked on Emmeline's door.