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282             UNCLE TOM'S CABIN; OR
is true enough; nobody else feels them more than I do; but it does seem to me, after all, there is some difference between me and you. It seems to me I would cut off my right hand sooner than keep on, from day to day, doing what I thought was wrong. But, then, my conduct is so inconsistent with my profession, I don't wonder you re­prove me."
"Oh, now, cousin," said Augustine, sitting down on the floor, and laying his head back in her lap, " don't take on so awfully serious ! You know what a good-for-nothing, saucy boy I always was. I love to poke you up, — that's all, — just to see you get earnest. I do think you are desperately, distressingly good ; it tires me to death to think of it."
" But this is a serious subject, my boy, Auguste," said Miss Ophelia, laying her hand on his forehead.
" Dismally so," said he ; " and I — well, I never want to talk seriously in hot weather. What with mosquitoes and all, a fellow can't get himself up to any very sublime moral flights; and I believe," said St. Clare, suddenly rousing himself up, " there 's a theory, now ! I understand now why northern nations are always more virtuous than southern ones, — I see into that whole subject."
" Oh, Auguste, you are a sad rattlebrain! "
" Am I ? Well, so I am, I suppose ; but for once I will be serious, now; but you must hand me that basket of oranges ; — you see, you '11 have to ' stay me with flagons and comfort me with apples,' if I 'm going to make this effort. Now," said Augustine, drawing the basket up, " I '11 begin. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a fellow to hold two or three dozen of his fellow-worms in captivity, a decent regard to the opinions of society requires " —
" I don't see that you are growing more serious," said Miss Ophelia.
"Wait,—I'm coming on,—you'll hear. The short of the matter is, cousin," said he, his handsome face sud*