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526             UNCLE TOMS CABIN; OR
Mrs. Shelby, with characteristic energy, applied her­self to the work of straightening the entangled web of affairs; and she and George were for some time occu­pied with collecting and examining accounts, selling prop­erty, and settling debts ; for Mrs. Shelby was determined that everything should be brought into tangible and rec­ognizable shape, let the consequences to her prove what they might. In the mean time, they received a letter from the lawyer, to whom Miss Ophelia had referred them, saying that he knew nothing of the matter : that the man was sold at a public auction, and that, beyond receiving the money, he knew nothing of the affair.
Neither George nor Mrs. Shelby could be easy at this result; and accordingly some six months after, the latter, having business, for his mother, down the river, resolved to visit New Orleans, in person, and push his inquiries, in hopes of discovering Tom's whereabouts, and restoring him.
After some months of unsuccessful search, by the merest accident, George fell in with a man, in New Orleans, who happened to be possessed of the desired information ; and with his money in his pocket, our hero took steamboat for Red River, resolving to find out and repurchase his old friend.
He was soon introduced into the house, where he found Legree in the sitting-room.
Legree received the stranger with a kind of surly hospi­tality.
" I understand," said the young man, " that you bought in New Orleans a boy, named Tom. He used to be on my father's place, and I came to see if I could n't buy him back."
Legree's brow grew dark, and he broke out, passion­ately : " Yes, I did buy such a fellow, — and a h—1 of a bargain I had of it too ! The most rebellious, saucy, impu­dent dog! Set up my niggers to run away ; got off two gals, worth eight hundred or a thousand dollars apiece.