LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 455
against us, heaven and earth. Everything is pushing us into hell. Why should n't we go ? "
Tom closed his eyes, and shuddered at the dark, atheistic words.
" You see," said the woman, " you don't know anything about it; I do. I 've been on this place five years, body and soul, under this man's foot; and I hate him as I do the devil! Here you are, on a lone plantation, ten miles from any other, in the swamps; not a white person here, who could testify, if you were burned alive, if you were scalded, cut into inch-pieces, set up for the dogs to tear, or hung up and whipped to death. There 's no law here, of God or man, that can do you, or any one of us, the least good; and, this man! there 's no earthly thing that he 's too good to do. I could make any one's hair rise, and their teeth chatter, if I should only tell what I 've seen and been knowing to, here, and it's no use resisting ! Did I want to live with him ? Was n't I a woman delicately bred ; and he God in heaven ! what was he, and is he ? And yet, I 've lived with him, these five years, and cursed every moment of my life, night and day ! And now, he 's got a new one, a young thing, only fifteen, and she brought up, she says, piously. Her good mistress taught her to read the Bible ; and she 's brought her Bible here to hell with her ! " and the woman laughed a wild and doleful laugh, that rung, with a strange, supernatural sound, through the old ruined shed.
Tom folded his hands; all was darkness and horror.
" O Jesus ! Lord Jesus ! have you quite forgot us poor critturs ? " burst forth, at last; " help, Lord, I perish !'
The woman sternly continued :
" And what are these miserable low dogs you work with, that you should suffer on their account ? Every one of them would turn against you, the first time they got a chance. They are all of 'em as low and cruel to each other as they can be ; there 's no use in your suffering to keep from hurting them."