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