Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 41
One day, a wagon carrying a young man arrives on Legree's estate; the man happens to be George Shelby. Though a long time has passed since Miss Ophelia sent the family her letter, a mix-up at the post office led to a delay in its receipt. When they finally got the letter, George and his mother immediately wrote to a lawyer that Miss Ophelia had named as the St. Clare family attorney. While they waited for his reply, they cared for Mr. Shelby, who had contracted a fever. When he eventually died, Mrs. Shelby found he had named her sole executrix of the estate, and the next several months were occupied as she worked at getting Mr. Shelby's affairs in order. They eventually receive a letter from the lawyer, saying that Tom was sold at auction and that he knows nothing else of his whereabouts. George and Mrs. Shelby are not satisfied at this answer, and George sets out to New Orleans, where he asks various townspeople if they know of Tom and to whom he belongs. After several months of searching, he finds a man who says he knows where Tom lives. George boards a steamboat and travels up the river, intending to buy Tom back. He travels to Legree's plantation and asks if he knows of a slave named Tom.
Legree tells George with hostility that he did buy Tom, and he calls his slave an "impudent dog." He tells George how his two slaves escaped, and that Tom would not tell Legree what he knew, and that he subsequently beat Tom. "I b'lieve he's trying to die," Legree tells George. George, enraged, demands to see Tom, and he is led to the shed where Tom lies dying. George rushes up to Tom, weeping, and tells him who he is. Tom declares, "Mas'r George!" and his face lights up. He tells George that it warms his heart to see him, and that he will now die happy, knowing that he wasn't forgotten. George begs Tom not to die, telling him he has come to buy him back and take him back to Kentucky. Tom tells George it is too late, and that Heaven is better than Kentucky. George begs him not to die, telling him it will kill him and break his heart if he does, knowing how Tom has suffered. Tom declares vehemently that he has won, as the Lord has given him glory:
"'Don't call me poor fellow! I have been poor fellow; but that's all past and gone, now. I'm right in the door, going into glory! O, Mas'r George! Heaven has come! I've got the victory!--the Lord Jesus has given it to me! Glory be to His name!'" Chapter 41, pg. 416
Legree comes into the shed, and George declares that he hopes Legree one day will suffer for what he's done. Tom asks George not to feel that way, saying that Legree hasn't done Tom any real harm, as he has only brought him closer to heaven. After a bit, Tom passes away, and George asks Legree if he can buy his body, so he can take him and bury him decently. Legree replies, "'I don't sell dead niggers. You are welcome to bury him where and when you like.'" Chapter 41, pg. 417 George orders two slaves to get him a spade and help him carry Tom's body to the wagon. Legree follows them to the wagon with a sulky air. The men load the body onto the wagon, and George turns to Legree. He tells him that he plans to go to the nearest magistrate and report the incident as murder. Legree scoffs at him, asking him where he is going to find witnesses to prove it. George realizes that Legree is white, and there is no white person on the place besides Legree, and the testimony of blacks does not hold weight in southern courts.
Legree ask George why he is so concerned over "a dead nigger." The words send a fury down George's spine, and he whirls around and smacks Legree down to the ground. George boards the wagon with the two slaves, and they find a grassy knoll. They bury Tom there, and George gives the slaves a quarter each. They beg George to buy them, telling him they face hard times at Legree's. George says with difficulty that he cannot. The two men walk off, dejected. George drops to his knees at Tom's grave and declares:
"'Witness, eternal God! Oh, witness, that, from this hour, I will do what one man can to drive out this curse of slavery from my land!'" Chapter 41, pg. 418