Well, then, Haley, how will you trade? said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of silence.
Well, havent you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?
Hum!none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, its only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all. I dont like parting with any of my hands, thats a fact.
Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of age, entered the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round, dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to being petted and noticed by his master.
Hulloa, Jim Crow! said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins towards him, pick that up, now!
The child scampered, with all his little strength, after the prize, while his master laughed.
Come here, Jim Crow, said he. The child came up, and the master patted the curly head, and chucked him under the chin.
Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing. The boy commenced one of those wild, grotesque songs common among the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his singing with many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in perfect time to the music.
Bravo! said Haley, throwing him a quarter of an orange.
Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle Cudjoe, when he has the rheumatism, said his master.
Instantly the flexible limbs of the child assumed the appearance of deformity and distortion, as, with his back humped up, and his masters stick in his hand, he hobbled about the room, his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker, and spitting from right to left, in imitation of an old man.
Both gentlemen laughed uproariously.
Now, Jim, said his master, show us how old Elder Robbins leads the psalm. The boy drew his chubby face down to a formidable length, and commenced toning a psalm tune through his nose, with imperturbable gravity.
Hurrah! bravo! what a young un! said Haley; that chaps a case, Ill promise. Tell you what, said he, suddenly clapping his hand on Mr. Shelbys shoulder, fling in that chap, and Ill settle the businessI will. Come, now, if that aint doing the thing up about the rightest!
At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman, apparently about twenty-five, entered the room.
There needed only a glance from the child to her, to identify her as its mother. There was the same rich, full, dark eye, with its long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair. The brown of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw the gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress was of the neatest possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely moulded shape;a delicately formed hand and a trim foot and ankle were items of appearance that did not escape the quick eye of the trader, well used to run up at a glance the points of a fine female article.
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