LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 41
u Nothing, only Eliza came in here, after dinner, in a great worry, crying and taking on, and said you were talking with a trader, and that she heard him make an offer for her boy, the ridiculous little goose ! "
" She did, hey ? " said Mr. Shelby, returning to his paper, which he seemed for a few moments quite intent upon, not perceiving that he was holding it bottom upwards.
" It will have to come out," said he, mentally ; " as well now as ever."
" I told Eliza," said Mrs. Shelby, as she continued brushing her hair, " that she was a little fool for her pains, and that you never had anything to do with that sort of persons. Of course, I knew you never meant to sell any of our people, least of all, to such a fellow."
" Well, Emily," said her husband, " so I have always felt and said ; but the fact is that my business lies so that I cannot get on without. I shall have to sell some of my hands."
" To that creature ? Impossible ! Mr. Shelby, you cannot be serious."
" I 'm sorry to say that. I am," said Mr. Shelby. " I 've agreed to sell Tom."
" What! our Tom ? that good, faithful creature ! been your faithful servant from a boy ! Oh, Mr. Shelby! and you have promised him his freedom, too, you and I have spoken to him a hundred times of it. W >i, I can believe anything now, I can believe now that you could sell little Harry, poor Eliza's only child ! " said Mrs. Shelby, in a tone between grief and indignation.
" Well, since you must know all, it is so. I have agreed to sell Tom and Harry both ; and I don't know why I am to be rated, as if I were a monster, for doing what every one does every day."
" But why, of all others, choose these ?' said Mrs. Shelby. " Why sell them, of all on the place, if you must sell at all ? "