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American Lit Quatations

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At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman, apparently about twenty-five, entered the room. There needed only a glance from the child to her, to identify her as its mother. There was the same rich, full, dark eye, with its long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair. The brown of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw the gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress was of the neatest possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely moulded shape;—a delicately formed hand and a trim foot and ankle were items of appearance that did not escape the quick eye of the trader, well used to run up at a glance the points of a fine female article. "Well, Eliza?" said her master, as she stopped and looked hesitatingly at him. "I was looking for Harry, please, sir;" and the boy bounded toward her, showing his spoils, which he had gathered in the skirt of his robe.
"Well, take him away then," said Mr. Shelby; and hastily she withdrew, carrying the child on her arm. "By Jupiter," said the trader, turning to him in admiration, "there's an article, now! You might make your fortune on that ar gal in Orleans, any day. I've seen over a thousand, in my day, paid down for gals not a bit handsomer." "I don't want to make my fortune on her," said Mr. Shelby, dryly; and, seeking to turn the conversation, he uncorked a bottle of fresh wine, and asked his companion's opinion of it. "Capital, sir,—first chop!" said the trader; then turning, and slapping his hand familiarly on Shelby's shoulder, he added— "Come, how will you trade about the gal?—what shall I say for her—what'll you take?" "Mr. Haley, she is not to be sold," said Shelby. "My wife would not part with her for her weight in gold." "Ay, ay! women always say such things, cause they ha'nt no sort of calculation. Just show 'em how many watches, feathers, and trinkets, one's weight in gold would buy, and that alters the case, I reckon." "I tell you, Haley, this must not be spoken of; I say no, and I mean no," said Shelby, decidedly.
"I wish he'd never been born!" said George, bitterly. "I wish I'd never been born myself!" Surprised and frightened, Eliza sat down, leaned her head on her husband's shoulder, and burst into tears. "There now, Eliza, it's too bad for me to make you feel so, poor girl!" said he, fondly; "it's too bad: O, how I wish you never had seen me—you might have been happy!"
"George! George! how can you talk so? What dreadful thing has happened, or is going to happen? I'm sure we've been very happy, till lately." "So we have, dear," said George. Then drawing his child on his knee, he gazed intently on his glorious dark eyes, and passed his hands through his long curls. "Just like you, Eliza; and you are the handsomest woman I ever saw, and the best one I ever wish to see; but, oh, I wish I'd never seen you, nor you me!" "O, George, how can you!" "Yes, Eliza, it's all misery, misery, misery! My life is bitter as wormwood; the very life is burning out of me. I'm a poor, miserable, forlorn drudge; I shall only drag you down with me, that's all. What's the use of our trying to do anything, trying to know anything, trying to be anything? What's the use of living? I wish I was dead!" "O, now, dear George, that is really wicked! I know how you feel about losing your place in the factory, and you have a hard master; but pray be patient, and perhaps something—" "Patient!" said he, interrupting her; "haven't I been patient? Did I say a word when he came and took me away, for no earthly reason, from the place where everybody was kind to me? I'd paid him truly every cent of my earnings,—and they all say I worked well." "Well, it is dreadful," said Eliza; "but, after all, he is your master, you know." "My master! and who made him my master? That's what I think of—what right has he to me? I'm a man as much as he is. I'm a better man than he is. I know more about business than he does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better hand,— and I've learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,—I've learned it in spite of him; and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?—to take me from things I can do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do? He tries to do it; he says he'll bring me down and humble me, and he puts me to just the hardest, meanest and dirtiest work, on purpose!"
"Well," said his wife, after the business of the tea-table was getting rather slack, "and what have they been doing in the Senate?" Now, it was a very unusual thing for gentle little Mrs. Bird ever to trouble her head with what was going on in the house of the state, very wisely considering that she had enough to do to mind her own. Mr. Bird, therefore, opened his eyes in surprise, and said, "Not very much of importance." "Well; but is it true that they have been passing a law forbidding people to give meat and drink to those poor colored folks that come along? I heard they were talking of some such law, but I didn't think any Christian legislature would pass it!" "Why, Mary, you are getting to be a politician, all at once." "No, nonsense! I wouldn't give a fig for all your politics, generally, but I think this is something downright cruel and unchristian. I hope, my dear, no such law has been passed." "There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that thing has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that our brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited, and it seems necessary, and no more than Christian and kind, that something should be done by our state to quiet the excitement." "And what is the law? It don't forbid us to shelter those poor creatures a night, does it, and to give 'em something comfortable to eat, and a few old clothes, and send them quietly about their business?" "Why, yes, my dear; that would be aiding and abetting, you know."
"Now, John, I want to know if you think such a law as that is right and Christian?" "You won't shoot me, now, Mary, if I say I do!" "I never could have thought it of you, John; you didn't vote for it?" "Even so, my fair politician." "You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures! It's a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I'll break it, for one, the first time I get a chance; and I hope I shall have a chance, I do! Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman can't give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures, just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed all their lives, poor things!" "But, Mary, just listen to me. Your feelings are all quite right, dear, and interesting, and I love you for them; but, then, dear, we mustn't suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment; you must consider it's a matter of private feeling,—there are great public interests involved,— there is such a state of public agitation rising, that we must put aside our private feelings." "Now, John, I don't know anything about politics, but I can read my Bible; and there I see that I must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible I mean to follow." "But in cases where your doing so would involve a great public evil—" "Obeying God never brings on public evils. I know it can't. It's always safest, all round, to do as He bids us. "Now, listen to me, Mary, and I can state to you a very clear argument, to show—" "O, nonsense, John! you can talk all night, but you wouldn't do it. I put it to you, John,— would you now turn away a poor, shivering, hungry creature from your door, because he was a runaway? Would you, now?"


The woman looked up at Mrs. Bird, with a keen, scrutinizing glance, and it did not escape her that she was dressed in deep mourning. "Ma'am," she said, suddenly, "have you ever lost a child?" The question was unexpected, and it was thrust on a new wound; for it was only a month since a darling child of the family had been laid in the grave.
Mr. Bird turned around and walked to the window, and Mrs. Bird burst into