LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 35
What meaning was couched under this terrible threat, it is difficult to say ; but certain it is that its awful indistinctness seemed to produce very little impression on the young sinners addressed.
" La, now ! " said Uncle Tom, " they are so full of tickle all the while, they can't behave theirselves."
Here the boys emerged from under the table, and, with hands and faces well plastered with molasses, began a vigorous kissing of the baby.
" Get along wid ye! " said the mother, pushing away their woolly heads. " Ye '11 all stick together, and never get clar, if ye do dat fashion. Go 'long to de spring and wash yerselves ! " she said, seconding her exhortations by a slap, which resounded very formidably, but which seemed only to knock out so much more laugh from the young ones, as they tumbled precipitately over each other out of doors, where they fairly screamed with merriment.
" Did ye ever see such aggravating young uns ? " said Aunt Cliloe, rather complacently, as, producing an old towel, kept for such emergencies, she poured a little water out of the cracked teapot on it, and began rubbing off the molasses from the baby's face and hands; and, having polished her till she shone, she set her down in Tom's lap, while she busied herself in clearing away supper. The baby employed the intervals in pulling Tom's nose, scratching his face, and burying her fat hands in his woolly hair, which last operation seemed to afford her special content.
" An't she a peart young un? " said Tom, holding her from him to take a full-length view ; then, getting up, he set her on his broad shoulder and began capering and dancing with her while Mas'r George snapped at her with his pocket-handkerchief, and Mose and Pete, now returned again, roared after her like bears, till Aunt Chloe declared that they " fairly took her head off " with their noise. As, according to her own statement, this surgical operation was a matter of daily occurrence in the cabin, the declara-