LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 165
anguish which he saw working in those dark features, those clenched hands and suffocating breathings, as necessary incidents of the trade, and merely calculated whether she was going to scream, and get up a commotion on the boat; for, like other supporters of our peculiar institution, he decidedly disliked agitation.
But the woman did not scream. The shot had passed too straight and direct through the heart, for cry or tear.
Dizzily she sat down. Her slack hands fell lifeless by her side. Her eyes looked straight forward, but she saw nothing. All the noise and hum of the boat, the groaning of the machinery, mingled dreamily to her bewildered ear; and the poor, dumb-stricken heart had neither cry nor tear to show for its utter misery. She was quite calm.
The trader, who, considering his advantages, was almost as humane as some of our politicians, seemed to feel called on to administer such consolation as the case admitted of.
" I know this yer comes kinder hard, at first, Lucy," said he ; " but such a smart, sensible gal as you are won't give way to it. You see it's necessary, and can't be helped !"
" Oh, don't, Mas'r, don't! " said the woman, with a voice like one that is smothering.
" You 're a smart wench, Lucy," he persisted; "I mean to do well by ye, and get ye a nice place down river; and you '11 soon get another husband, — such a likely gal as
you " —
" Oh, Mas'r, if you only won't talk to me now," said the woman, in a voice of such quick and living anguish that the trader felt that there was something at present in the case beyond his style of operation. He got up, and the woman turned away, and buried her head in her cloak.
The trader walked up and down for a time, and occasionally stopped and looked at her.
" Takes it hard, rather," he soliloquized, " but quiet,