LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 271
As to honesty, the slave is kept in that dependent, semi-childish state, that there is no making him realize the rights of property, or feel that his master's goods are not his own, if he can get them. For my part, I don't see how they can be honest. Such a fellow as Tom, here, is — is a moral miracle ! "
" And what becomes of their souls ? " said Miss Ophelia.
" That is n't my affair, as I know of," said St. Clare ; " I am only dealing in facts of the present life. The fact is, that the whole race are pretty generally understood to be turned over to the devil, for our benefit, in this world, however it may turn out in another ! "
"This is perfectly horrible ! " said Miss Ophelia; "you ought to be ashamed of yourselves ! "
" I don't know as I am. We are in pretty good company, for all that," said St. Clare, " as people in the broad road generally are. Look at the high and the low, all the world over, and it's the same story, — the lower class used up, body, soul, and spirit, for the good of the upper. It is so in England ; it is so everywhere ; and yet all Christendom stands aghast, with virtuous indignation, because we do the thing in a little different shape from what they do it."
" It is n't so in Vermont."
" Ah, well, in New England and in the free States, you have the better of us, I grant. But there 's the bell; so, cousin, let us for a while lay aside our sectional prejudices, and come out to dinner."
As Miss Ophelia was in the kitchen, in the latter part of the afternoon, some of the sable children called out, " La, sakes! thar 's Prue a-coming, grunting along like she allers does."
A tall, bony colored woman now entered the kitchen, bearing on her head a basket of rusks and hot rolls.
" Ho, Prue ! you 've come," said Dinah.
Prue had a peculiar scowling expression of countenance, and a sullen, grumbling voice. She set down her basket, squatted herself down, and, resting her elbows on her knees, said,—