LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 517
his hands, there was a sudden light in Tom's eye, a sudden upraising of his hands, that did not escape him. He saw that he did not join the muster of the pursuers. He thought of forcing him to do it; but, having had, of old, experience of his inflexibility when commanded to take part in any deed of inhumanity, he would not, in his hurry, stop to enter into any conflict with him.
Tom, therefore, remained behind, with a few who had learned of him to pray, and offered up prayers for the escape of the fugitives.
When Legree returned, baffled and disappointed, all the long-working hatred of his soul towards his slave began to gather in a deadly and desperate form. Had not this man braved him, — steadily, powerfully, resistlessly, — ever since he bought him ? Was there not a spirit in him which, silent as it was, burned on him like the fires of perdition ?
" I hate him ! " said Legree, that night, as he sat up in his bed ; " I hate him ! And is n't he mine ? Can't I do what I like with him ? Who 's to hinder, I wonder ? " And Legree clenched his fist, and shook it, as if he had something in his hands that he could rend in pieces.
But, then, Tom was a faithful, valuable servant; and, although Legree hated him the more for that, yet the consideration was still somewhat of a restraint to him.
The next morning, he determined to say nothing, as yet; to assemble a party, from some neighboring plantations, with dogs and guns ; to surround the swamp, and go about the hunt systematically. If it succeeded, well and good ; if not, he would summon Tom before him, and — his teeth -clenched and his blood boiled — then he would break that fellow down, or — there was a dire inward whisper, to which his soul assented.
Ye say that the interest of the master is a sufficient safeguard for the slave. In the fury of man's mad will, he will wittingly, and with open eyes, sell his own soul to the devil to gain his ends ; and will he be more careful of his neighbor's body?