LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 451
set me at that. It 's what I an't used to, — never did, — and can't do, noway possible."
" Ye '11 larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know, before I 've done with ye! " said Legree, taking up a cowhide, and striking Tom a heavy blow across the cheek, and following up the infliction by a shower of blows.
" There ! " he said, as he stopped to rest; " now will ye tell me ye can't do it ? "
" Yes, Mas'r," said Tom, putting up his hand, to wipe the blood that trickled down his face. " I 'm willin' to work night and day, and work while there 's life and breath in me ; but this yer thing I can't feel it right to do ; and, Mas'r, I never shall do it, — never ! "
Tom had a remarkably smooth, soft voice, and a habitually respectful manner, that had given Legree an idea that he would be cowardly, and easily subdued. When he spoke these last words, a thrill of amazement went through every one; the poor woman clasped her hands, and said, " O Lord ! " and every one involuntarily looked at each other, and drew in their breath, as if to prepare for the storm that was about to burst.
Legree looked stupefied and confounded; but at last « burst forth, —
" What! ye blasted black beast! tell me ye don't think it right to do what I tell ye! What have any of you cussed cattle to do with thinking what 's right ? I '11 put a stop to it! Why, what do ye think ye are ? May be ye think ye 're a gentleman, master Tom, to be a-telling your master what 's right, and what an't! So you pretend it 's wrong to flog the gal! "
" I think so, Mas'r," said Tom ; " the poor crittur 's sick and feeble ; 't would be downright cruel, and it 's what I never will do, nor begin to. Mas'r, if you mean to kill me, kill me ; but, as to my raising my hand agin any one here, I never shall, — I '11 die first! "
Tom spoke in a mild voice, but with a decision that