LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 153
" Nat'lly, she will," said the trader, coolly.
The conversation was here interrupted by a busy hum in the audience; and the auctioneer, a short, bustling, important fellow, elbowed his way into the crowd. The old woman drew in her breath, and caught instinctively at her son.
u Keep close to yer mammy, Albert, — close, — dey '11 put us up togedder," she said.
u Oh, mammy, I 'm 'feared they won't," said the boy.
u Dey must, child ; I can't live, noways, if they don't! " said the old creature, vehemently.
The stentorian tones of the auctioneer, calling out to clear the way, now announced that the sale was about to commence. A place was cleared, and the bidding began. The different men on the list were soon knocked off at prices which showed a pretty brisk demand in the market; two of them fell to Haley.
" Come now, young un," said the auctioneer, giving the boy a touch with his hammer, "be up and show your springs, now."
" Put us two up togedder, togedder,— do, please, Mas'r," said the old woman, holding fast to her boy.
" Be off," said the man, gruffly, pushing her hands away; " you come last. Now, darkey, spring; " and, with the word, he pushed the boy toward the block, while a deep, heavy groan rose behind him. The boy paused, and looked back; but there was no time to stay, and, dashing the tears from his large, bright eyes, he was up in a moment.
His fine figure, alert limbs, and bright face raised an instant competition, and half a dozen bids simultaneously met the ear of the auctioneer. Anxious, half frightened, he looked from side to side, as he heard the clatter of contending bids, — now here, now there, — till the hammer fell. Haley had got him. He was pushed from the block toward his new master, but stopped one moment, and looked back, when his poor old mother, trembling in every limb, held out her shaking hands toward him.