LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 107
" And was your mistress unkind to you ? "
" No, sir, — no ! my mistress was always good to me."
" What could induce you to leave a good home, then, and run away, and go through such dangers ? "
The woman looked up at Mrs. Bird with a keen, scrutinizing glance, and it did not escape her that she was dressed in deep mourning.
" Ma'am," she said, suddenly, " have you ever lost a child ? "
The question was unexpected, and it was a thrust on a. new wound ; for it was only a month since a darling child of the family had been laid in the grave.
Mr. Birr1, turned around and walked to the window, and Mrs. Bird burst into tears; but, recovering her voice, she said, —
" Why do you ask that? I have lost a little one."
" Then you will feel for me. I have lost two, one after another, — left 'em buried there when I came away ; and I had only this one left. I never slept a night without him ; he was all I had. He was my comfort and pride, day and night; and, ma'am, they were going to take him away from me, — to sell him, — sell him down South, ma'am, to go all alone, — a baby that had never been away from his mother in his life ! I could n't stand it, ma'am. I knew I never should be good for anything, if they did ; and when I knew the papers were signed, and he was sold, I took him and came off in the night; and they chased me, — the man that bought him, and some of Mas'r's folks, — and they were coming down right behind me, and I heard 'em. I jumped right on to the ice ; and how I got across, I don't know, — but, first I knew, a man was helping me up the bank."
The woman did not sob nor weep. She had gone to a place where tears are dry ; but every one around her was, in some way characteristic of themselves, showing signs of hearty sympathy.
The two little boys, after a desperate rummaging in their