106 UNCLE TOM'S CABIN; OR
the two eldest boys, the smaller fry having, by this time, been safely disposed of in bed.
The woman was now sitting up on the settle, by the fire. She was looking steadily into the blaze, with a calm, heartbroken expression, very different from her former agitated wildness.
" Did you want me ? " said Mrs. Bird, in gentle tones. " I hope you feel better now, poor woman ! "
A long-drawn, shivering sigh was the only answer; but she lifted her dark eyes, and fixed them on her with such a forlorn and imploring expression, that the tears came into the little woman's eyes.
" You need n't be afraid of anything ; we are friends here, poor woman ! Tell me where you came from, and what you want," said she.
" I came from Kentucky," said the woman.
" When ? " said Mr. Bird, taking up the interrogatory.
" How did you come ? "
" I crossed on the ice."
" Crossed on the ice ! " said every one present.
" Yes," said the woman, slowly, " I did. God helping me, I crossed on the ice ; for they were behind me, — right behind, —and there was no other way ! "
" Law, Missis," said Cudjoe, " the ice is all in broken-up blocks, a-swiriging and a-teetering up and down in the water."
" I know it was, — I know it!' said she, wildly ; " but I did it ! I would n't have thought I could, — I did n't think I should get over, but I did n't care ! I could but die if I did n't. The Lord helped me; nobody knows how much the Lord can help 'em, till they try," said the woman, with a flashing eye.
" Were you a slave ? ' said Mr. Bird.
" Yes, sir ; I belonged to a man in Kentucky."
" Was he unkind to you ? "
" No, sir; he was a good master."