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LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY              15
Nevertheless, as this young man was in the eye of the law not a man, but a thing, all these superior qualifications were subject to the control of a vulgar, narrow-minded, tyrannical master. This same gentleman, having heard of the fame of George's invention, took a ride over to the factory, to see what this intelligent chattel had been about. He was received with great enthusiasm by the employer, who congratulated him on possessing so valuable a slave.
He was waited upon over the factory, shown the ma­chinery by George, who, in high spirits, talked so fluently, held himself so erect, looked so handsome and manly, that-his master began to feel an uneasy consciousness of infe­riority. What business had his slave to be marching round the country, inventing machines, and holding up his head among gentlemen ? He 'd soon put a stop to it. He 'd take him back, and put him to hoeing and digging, and " see if he 'd step about so smart." Accordingly, the manufacturer and all hands concerned were astounded when he suddenly demanded George's wages, and an­nounced his intention of taking him home.
" But, Mr. Harris," remonstrated the manufacturer, " is n't this rather sudden ? "
" What if it is ? — is n't the man mine ? "
" We would be willing, sir, to increase the rate of com­pensation."
" No object at all, sir. I don't need to hire any of my hands out, unless I 've a mind to."
" But, sir, he seems peculiarly adapted to this business."
" Dare say he may be ; never was much adapted to anything that I set him about, I '11 be bound."
" But only think of his inventing this machine," inter­posed one of the workmen, rather unluckily.
" Oh, yes ! — a machine for saving work, is it ? He *d invent that, I '11 be bound ; let a nigger alone for that, any time. They are all labor-saving machines themselves, every one of 'em. No, he shall tramp !'
George had stood like one transfixed, at hearing his