LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 431
The young gentleman colored and smiled, and the two were soon busy in a game of backgammon. Meanwhile, another conversation was going on in the lower part of the boat, between Emmeline and the mulatto woman with whom she was confined. As was natural, they were exchanging with each other some particulars of their history.
" Who did you belong to ? " said Emmeline.
" Well, my Mas'r was Mr. Ellis, — lived on Levee .Street. P'r'aps you 've seen the house."
" Was he good to you ? " said Emmeline.
" Mostly, till he tuk sick. He 's lain sick, off and on, more than six months, and been orful oneasy. 'Pears like he warn't willin' to have nobody rest, day nor night; and got so curous, there could n't nobody suit him. 'Pears like he just grew crosser, every day; kep me up nights till I got fairly beat out, and could n't keep awake no longer; and 'cause I got to sleep, one night, Lors, he talk so orful to me, and he tell me he 'd sell me to just the hardest master he could find ; and he 'd promised me my freedom, too, when he died."
" Had you any friends ? " said Emmeline.
" Yes, my husband, — he's a blacksmith. Mas'r gen'ly hired him out. They took me off so quick, I did n't even have time to see him ; and I's got four children. Oh, dear me! " said the woman, covering her face with her hands.
It is a natural impulse, in every one, when they hear a tale of distress, to think of something to say by way of consolation. Emmeline wanted to say something, but she could not think of anything to say. What was there to be said ? As by a common consent, they both avoided, with fear and dread, all mention of the horrible man who was now their master.
True, there is religious trust for even the darkest hour. The mulatto woman was a member of the Methodist Church, and had an unenlightened but very sincere spirit of piety. Emmeline had been educated much more intel-