Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
How Sam and Andy Helped Haley to Pursue Eliza
By Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)

NEVER did fall of any prime minister at court occasion wider surges of sensation than the report of Tom’s fate among his compeers on the place. It was the topic in every mouth, everywhere; and nothing was done in the house or in the field but to discuss its probable results. Eliza’s flight—an unprecedented event on the place—was also a great accessory in stimulating the general excitement.  1
  Black Sam, as he was commonly called, from his being about three shades blacker than any other son of ebony on the place, was revolving the matter profoundly in all its phases and bearings, with a comprehensiveness of vision and a strict lookout to his own personal well-being, that would have done credit to any white patriot in Washington.  2
  “It’s an ill wind dat blows nowhar,—dat are a fact,” said Sam sententiously, giving an additional hoist to his pantaloons, and adroitly substituting a long nail in place of a missing suspender button, with which effort of mechanical genius he seemed highly delighted.  3
  “Yes: it’s an ill wind blows nowhar,” he repeated. “Now, dar, Tom’s down;—wal, course der’s room for some nigger to be up—and why not dis nigger? dat’s de idee. Tom, a-ridin’ round de country, boots blacked, pass in his pocket, all grand as Cuffee,—who but he? Now, why shouldn’t Sam? dat’s what I want to know.”  4
  “Halloo, Sam! O Sam! Mas’r wants you to cotch Bill and Jerry,” said Andy, cutting short Sam’s soliloquy.  5
  “Hi! what’s afoot now, young un?”  6
  “Why, you don’t know, I s’pose, dat Lizy’s cut stick and clar’d out with her young-un?”  7
  “You teach your granny!” said Sam with infinite contempt: “knowed it a heap sight sooner than you did; this nigger ain’t so green, now!”  8
  “Well, anyhow, Mas’r wants Bill and Jerry geared right up; and you and I’s to go with Mas’r Haley to look arter her.”  9
  “Good, now! dat’s de time o’ day!” said Sam. “It’s Sam dat’s called for in dese yer times. He’s de nigger. See if I don’t cotch her, now: Mas’r ’ll see what Sam can do!”  10
  “Ah! but, Sam,” said Andy, “you’d better think twice; for Missis don’t want her cotched, and she ’ll be in yer wool.”  11
  “Hi!” said Sam, opening his eyes. “How you know dat?”  12
  “Heard her say so, my own self, dis blessed mornin’ when I bring in Mas’r’s shaving-water. She sent me to see why Lizy didn’t come to dress her: and when I telled her she was off, she jest riz up, and ses she, ‘The Lord be praised;’ and Mas’r, he seemed rael mad, and ses he, ‘Wife, you talk like a fool.’ But Lor! she’ll bring him to! I knows well enough how that’ll be,—it’s allers best to stand Missis’s side de fence, now I tell yer.”  13
  Black Sam, upon this, scratched his woolly pate, which, if it did not contain very profound wisdom, still contained a great deal of a particular species much in demand among politicians of all complexions and countries, and vulgarly denominated “knowing which side the bread is buttered”; so stopping with grave consideration, he again gave a hitch to his pantaloons, which was his regularly organized method of assisting his mental perplexities.  14
  “Der ain’t no sayin’—never—’bout no kind o’ thing in dis yer world,” he said at last.  15
  Sam spoke like a philosopher, emphasizing this,—as if he had had a large experience in different sorts of worlds, and therefore had come to his conclusions advisedly.  16
  “Now, sartin I’d ’a’ said that Missis would ’a’ scoured the ’varsal world after Lizy,” added Sam thoughtfully.  17
  “So she would,” said Andy; “but can’t ye see through a ladder, ye black nigger? Missis don’t want dis yer Mas’r Haley to get Lizy’s boy: dat’s de go!”  18
  “Hi!” said Sam, with an indescribable intonation, known only to those who have heard it among the negroes.  19
  “And I’ll tell yer more ’n all,” said Andy: “I spect you’d better be making tracks for dem hosses,—mighty sudden, too,—for I hearn Missis ’quirin’ arter yer, so you’ve stood foolin’ long enough.”  20
  Sam, upon this, began to bestir himself in real earnest: and after a while appeared, bearing down gloriously towards the house, with Bill and Jerry in a full canter; and adroitly throwing himself off before they had any idea of stopping, he brought them up alongside of the horse-post like a tornado. Haley’s horse, which was a skittish young colt, winced and bounced, and pulled hard at his halter.  21
  “Ho, ho!” said Sam: “skeery, are ye?” and his black visage lighted up with a curious, mischievous gleam. “I’ll fix ye now!” said he.  22
  There was a large beech-tree overshadowing the place, and the small, sharp, triangular beech-nuts lay scattered thickly on the ground. With one of these in his fingers, Sam approached the colt, stroked and patted, and seemed apparently busy in soothing his agitation. On pretense of adjusting the saddle, he adroitly slipped under it the sharp little nut, in such a manner that the least weight brought upon the saddle would annoy the nervous sensibilities of the animal, without leaving any perceptible graze or wound.  23
  “Dar!” he said, rolling his eyes with an approving grin, “me fix ’em!”  24
  At this moment Mrs. Shelby appeared on the balcony, beckoning to him. Sam approached with as good a determination to pay court as did ever suitor after a vacant place at St. James’s or Washington.  25
  “Why have you been loitering so, Sam? I sent Andy to tell you to hurry.”  26
  “Lord bless you, Missis!” said Sam, “horses won’t be cotched all in a minnit: they’d done clar’d out way down to the south pasture, and the Lord knows whar!”  27
  “Sam, how often must I tell you not to say ‘Lord bless you,’ and ‘The Lord knows,’ and such things? It’s wicked.”  28
  “Oh, Lord bless my soul! I done forgot, Missis! I won’t say nothing of de sort no more.”  29
  “Why, Sam, you just have said it again.”  30
  “Did I? O Lord!—I mean, I didn’t go fur to say it.”  31
  “You must be careful, Sam.”  32
  “Just let me get my breath, Missis, and I’ll start fair. I’ll be bery careful.”  33
  “Well, Sam, you are to go with Mr. Haley, to show him the road, and help him. Be careful of the horses, Sam; you know Jerry was a little lame last week: don’t ride them too fast.”  34
  Mrs. Shelby spoke the last words with a low voice and strong emphasis.  35
  “Let dis child alone for dat!” said Sam, rolling up his eyes with a volume of meaning. “Lord knows—hi! didn’t say dat!” said he, suddenly catching his breath, with a ludicrous flourish of apprehension which made his mistress laugh, spite of herself. “Yes, Missis, I’ll look out for de hosses!”  36
  “Now, Andy,” said Sam, returning to his stand under the beech-tree, “you see I wouldn’t be ’t all surprised if dat ar gen’lman’s crittur should gib a fling, by-and-by, when he comes to be a-gettin’ up. You know, Andy, critturs will do such things;” and therewith Sam poked Andy in the side in a highly suggestive manner.  37
  “Hi!” said Andy, with an air of instant appreciation.  38
  “Yes, you see, Andy, Missis wants to make time: dat ar’s clar to der most or’nary ’bserver. I jis make a little for her. Now, you see, get all dese yer hosses loose, caperin’ permiscus round dis yer lot and down to de wood dar, and I spec Mas’r won’t be off in a hurry.”  39
  Andy grinned.  40
  “Yer see,” said Sam,—“yer see, Andy, if any such thing should happen as that Mas’r Haley’s horse should begin to act contrary, and cut up, you and I jist lets go of our’n to help him, and we’ll help him: oh, yes!” And Sam and Andy laid their heads back on their shoulders, and broke into a low, immoderate laugh, snapping their fingers and flourishing their heels with exquisite delight.  41
  At this instant, Haley appeared on the veranda. Somewhat mollified by certain cups of very good coffee, he came out smiling and talking, in tolerably restored humor. Sam and Andy, clawing for certain fragmentary palm-leaves which they were in the habit of considering as hats, flew to the horse-posts to be ready to “help Mas’r.”  42
  Sam’s palm-leaf had been ingeniously disentangled from all pretensions to braid, as respects its brim; and the slivers starting apart and standing upright gave it a blazing air of freedom and defiance, quite equal to that of any Fiji chief: while the whole brim of Andy’s being departed bodily, he rapped the crown on his head with a dexterous thump, and looked about well pleased, as if to say, “Who says I haven’t got a hat!”  43
  “Well, boys,” said Haley, “look alive now: we must lose no time.”  44
  “Not a bit of him, Mas’r!” said Sam, putting Haley’s rein in his hand and holding his stirrup, while Andy was untying the other two horses.  45
  The instant Haley touched the saddle, the mettlesome creature bounded from the earth with a sudden spring, that threw his master sprawling some feet off on the soft, dry turf. Sam, with frantic ejaculations, made a dive at the reins, but only succeeded in brushing the blazing palmleaf afore-named into the horse’s eyes, which by no means tended to allay the confusion of his nerves. So with great vehemence he overturned Sam, and giving two or three contemptuous snorts, flourished his heels vigorously in the air, and was soon prancing away towards the lower end of the lawn; followed by Bill and Jerry, whom Andy had not failed to let loose according to contract, speeding them off with various direful ejaculations. And now ensued a miscellaneous scene of confusion. Sam and Andy ran and shouted; dogs barked here and there; and Mike, Mose, Mandy, Fanny, and all the smaller specimens on the place, both male and female, raced, clapped hands, whooped, and shouted, with outrageous officiousness and untiring zeal.  46
  Haley’s horse, which was a white one, and very fleet and spirited, appeared to enter into the spirit of the scene with great gusto: and having for his coursing ground a lawn of nearly half a mile in extent, gently sloping down on every side into indefinite woodland, he appeared to take infinite delight in seeing how near he could allow his pursuers to approach him; and then, when within a hand’s-breadth, whisk off with a start and a snort, like a mischievous beast as he was, and career far down into some alley of the wood-lot. Nothing was further from Sam’s mind than to have any one of the troop taken until such season as should seem to him most befitting; and the exertions that he made were certainly most heroic. Like the sword of Cœur de Lion, which always blazed in the front and thickest of the battle, Sam’s palm-leaf was to be seen everywhere when there was the least danger that a horse could be caught: there he would bear down full tilt, shouting, “Now for it! cotch him! cotch him!” in a way that would set everything to indiscriminate rout in a moment.  47
  Haley ran up and down, and cursed and swore and stamped miscellaneously. Mr. Shelby in vain tried to shout directions from the balcony, and Mrs. Shelby from her chamber window alternately laughed and wondered; not without some inkling of what lay at the bottom of all this confusion.  48
  At last, about twelve o’clock, Sam appeared triumphant, mounted on Jerry, with Haley’s horse by his side, reeking with sweat, but with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, showing that the spirit of freedom had not yet entirely subsided.  49
  “He’s cotched!” he exclaimed triumphantly. “If ’t hadn’t been for me, they might ’a’ bust theirselves, all on ’em; but I cotched him!”  50
  “You!” growled Haley, in no amiable mood. “If it hadn’t been for you this never would have happened.”  51
  “Lord bless us, Mas’r,” said Sam, in a tone of the deepest concern, “and me that has been racin’ and chasin’ till the sweat jest pours off me!”  52
  “Well, well!” said Haley, “you’ve lost me near three hours with your cursed nonsense. Now let’s be off, and have no more fooling.”  53
  “Why, Mas’r,” said Sam in a deprecating tone, “I believe you mean to kill us all clar, hosses and all. Here we are all jest ready to drop down, and the critturs all in a reek of sweat. Why, Mas’r won’t think of startin’ on now till after dinner. Mas’r’s hoss wants rubbin’ down,—see how he splashed hissef; and Jerry limps too;—don’t think Missis would be willin’ to have us start dis yer way, nohow. Lord bless you, Mas’r, we can ketch up if we do stop. Lizy never was no great of a walker.”  54
  Mrs. Shelby, who, greatly to her amusement, had overheard this conversation from the veranda, now resolved to do her part. She came forward, and courteously expressing her concern for Haley’s accident, pressed him to stay to dinner, saying that the cook should bring it on the table immediately.  55
  Thus, all things considered, Haley with rather an equivocal grace proceeded to the parlor; while Sam, rolling his eyes after him with unutterable meaning, proceeded gravely with the horses to the stable-yard.  56
  “Did yer see him, Andy? did yer see him?” said Sam, when he had got fairly beyond the shelter of the barn, and fastened the horse to a post. “O Lord, if it warn’t as good as a meetin’, now, to see him a-dancin’ and kickin’ and swarin’ at us. Didn’t I hear him? Swar away, ole fellow, says I to myself; will yer have yer hoss now, or wait till you cotch him? says I. Lord, Andy, I think I can see him now.” And Sam and Andy leaned up against the barn, and laughed to their hearts’ content.  57
  “Yer oughter seen how mad he looked when I brought the hoss up. Lord, he’d ’a’ killed me if he durs’ to; and there I was a-standin’ as innercent and as humble.”  58
  “Lord, I seed you,” said Andy: “ain’t you an old hoss, Sam!”  59
  “Rather spects I am,” said Sam: “did yer see Missis up-stars at the winder? I seed her laughin’.”  60
  “I’m sure I was racin’ so I didn’t see nothin’,” said Andy.  61
  “Well, yer see,” said Sam, proceeding gravely to wash down Haley’s pony, “I’se ’quired what ye may call a habit o’ bobservation, Andy. It’s a very ’portant habit, Andy, and I ’commend yer ter be cultivatin’ it, now ye’re young. Hist up that hind foot, Andy. Yer see, Andy, it’s bobservation makes all de difference in niggers. Didn’t I see which way the wind blew dis yer mornin’? Didn’t I see what Missis wanted, though she never let on? Dat ar’s bobservation, Andy. I spects it’s what you may call a faculty. Faculties is different in different peoples, but cultivation of ’em goes a great way.”  62
  “I guess if I hadn’t helped your bobservation dis mornin’, yer wouldn’t have seen your way so smart,” said Andy.  63
  “Andy,” said Sam, “you’s a promisin’ child, der ain’t no manner o’ doubt. I think lots of yer, Andy; and I don’t feel noways ashamed to take idees from you. We oughtenter overlook nobody, Andy, ’cause the smartest on us gets tripped up sometimes. And so, Andy, let’s go up to the house now. I’ll be boun’ Missis ’ll give us an uncommon good bite dis yer time.”  64

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