LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 43
world; and how will she believe me when she sees us turn round and sell her child ? — sell him, perhaps, to certain ruin of body and soul! "
" I 'm sorry you feel so about it, Emily, — indeed I am," said Mr. Shelby; " and I respect your feelings, too, though I don't pretend to share them to their full extent; but I tell you now, solemnly, it's of no use, — I can't help myself. I did n't mean to tell you this, Emily; but in plain words, there is no choice between selling these two and selling everything. Either they must go, or all must. Haley has come into possession of a mortgage, which, if I don't clear off with him directly, will take everything before it. I 've raked, and scraped, and borrowed, and all but begged, — and the price of these two was needed to make up the balance, and I had to give them up. Haley fancied the child ; he agreed to settle the matter that way and no other. I was in his power, and had to do it. If you feel so to have them sold, would it be any better to have all sold ? "
Mrs. Shelby stood like one stricken. Finally, turning to her toilet, she rested her face in her hands, and gave a sort of groan.
" This is God's curse on slavery! — a bitter, bitter, most accursed thing! — a curse to the master and a curse to the slave ! I was a fool to think I could make anything good out of such a deadly evil. It is a sin to hold a slave under laws like ours, — I always felt it was, — I always thought so when I was a girl, — I thought so still more after I joined the church ; but I thought I could gild it over, — I thought, by kindness, and care, and instruction, I could make the condition of mine better than freedom, — fool that I was ! "
" Why, wife, you are getting to be an abolitionist, quite."
" Abolitionist! if they knew all I know about slavery they might talk ! We don't need them to tell us ; you know I never thought that slavery was right. — never felt willing to own slaves."