LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 481
" What makes ye so spry, this morning, Tom ? Cotched cold, may be, last night."
Tom by this time had gained his feet, and was confronting his master with a steady, unmoved front.
** The devil, you can ! " said Legree, looking him over. " I believe you have n't got enough yet. Now, Tom, get right down on yer knees and beg my pardon, for yer shines last night."
Tom did not move.
" Down, you dog! " said Legree, striking him with his riding-whip.
" Mas'r Legree," said Tom, " I can't do it. I did only what I thought was right. I shall do just so again, if ever the time comes. I never will do a cruel thing, come what may."
" Yes, but ye don't know what may come, Master Tom. Ye think what you 've got is something. I tell you't an't anything,—nothing't all. How would ye like to be tied to a tree, and have a slow fire lit up around ye ; — would n't that be pleasant, — eh, Tom ? "
" Mas'r," said Tom, " I know ye can do dreadful things; but," — he stretched himself upward and clasped his hands, — " but, after ye 've killed the body, there an't no more ye can do. And oh, there 's all eternity to come, after that! "
Eternity,— the word thrilled through the black man's soul with light and power, as he spoke; it thrilled through the sinner's soul, too, like the bite of a scorpion. Legree gnashed on him with his teeth, but rage kept him silent; and Tom, like a man disenthralled, spoke, in a clear and cheerful voice, —
" Mas'r Legree, as ye bought me, I '11 be a true and faithful servant to ye. I '11 give ye all the work of my hands, all my time, all my strength; but my soul I won't give up to mortal man. I will hold on to the Lord, and put his commands before all, - die or live ; you may be sure on 't. Mas'r Legree, I an * ., grain afeard to die.