Uncle tom's cabin - online children's book

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LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY            155
The La Belle Riviere, as brave and beautiful a boat as ever walked the waters of her namesake river, was floating gayly down the stream, under a brilliant sky, the Stripes and Stars of free America waving and fluttering overhead; the guards crowded with well-dressed ladies and gentlemen walking and enjoying the delightful day. All was full of life, buoyant and rejoicing; all hut Haley's gang, who were stored, with other freight, on the lower deck, and who, somehow, did not seem to appreciate their various privileges, as they sat in a knot, talking to each other in low tones.
" Boys," said Haley, coming up, briskly, " I hope you keep up good heart, and are cheerful. Now, no sulks, ye see; keep stiff upper lip, boys; do well by me, and I '11 do well by you."
The boys addressed responded the invariable "Yes, Mas'r," for ages the watchword of poor Africa; but it's to be owned they did not look particularly cheerful; they had their various little prejudices in favor of wives, mothers, sisters, and children, seen for the last time, and though "they that wasted them required of them mirth," it was not instantly forthcoming.
" I 've got a wife," spoke out the article enumerated as " John, aged thirty," and he laid his chained hand on Tom's knee, " and she don't know a word about this* poor girl! "
" Where does she live ? " said Tom.
" In a tavern a piece down here," said John ; " I wish, now, I could see her once more in this world," he added.
Poor John ! It was rather natural; and the tears that fell, as as spoke, came as naturally as if he had been a white man. Tom drew a long breath from a sore heart, and tried, in his poor way, to comfort him.                   '
And overhead, in the cabin, sat fathers and mothers, husbands and wives; and merry, dancing children moved round among them, like so many little butterflies, and everything was going on quite easy and comfortable.