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LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY            183
plantation, distant from the stately mansions and pleasure-grounds of the master; — and as the moving picture passed on, his poor, foolish heart would be turning backward to the Kentucky farm, with its old shadowy beeches, — to the master's house, with its wide, cool halls, and, near by, the little cabin, overgrown with the multiflora and bignonia. There he seemed to see familiar faces of comrades, who had grown up with him from infancy; he saw his busy wife, bustling in her preparations for his evening meal; he heard the merry laugh of his boys at their play, and the chirrup of the baby at his knee; and then, with a start, all faded, and he saw again the cane-brakes and cypresses and gliding plantations, and heard again the creaking and groaning of the machinery, all telling him too plainly that all that phase of life had gone by forever.
In such a case, you write to your wife, and send messages to your children ; but Tom could not write, — the mail for him had no existence, and the gulf of separation was un-bridged by even a friendly word or signal.
Is it strange, then, that some tears fall on the pages of his Bible, as he lays it on the cotton-bale, and, with patient finger, threading his slow way from word to word, traces out its promises ? Having learned late in life, Tom was but a slow reader, and passed on laboriously from verse to verse. Fortunate for him was it that the book he was in­tent on was one which slow reading cannot injure, — nay, one whose words, like ingots of gold, seem often to need to be weighed separately, that the mind may take in their priceless value. Let us follow him a moment, as, pointing to each word, and pronouncing each half aloud, he reads, —
" Let — not — your — heart — be — troubled. In — my — Father's — house — are — many — mansions. I— go — to — prepare — a — place — for — you."
Cicero, when he buried his darling and only daughter, had a heart as full of honest grief as poor Tom's, — per­haps no fuller, for both were only men ; — but Cicero could pause over no such sublime words of hope, and look