Toms Mistress and Her Opinions
And now, Marie, said St. Clare, your golden days are dawning. Here is our practical, business-like New England cousin, who will take the whole budget of cares off your shoulders, and give you time to refresh yourself, and grow young and handsome. The ceremony of delivering the keys had better come off forthwith.
This remark was made at the breakfast-table, a few mornings after Miss Ophelia had arrived.
Im sure shes welcome, said Marie, leaning her head languidly on her hand. I think shell find one thing, if she does, and that is, that its we mistresses that are the slaves, down here.
O, certainly, she will discover that, and a world of wholesome truths besides, no doubt, said St. Clare.
Talk about our keeping slaves, as if we did it for our convenience, said Marie. Im sure, if we consulted that, we might let them all go at once.
Evangeline fixed her large, serious eyes on her mothers face, with an earnest and perplexed expression, and said, simply, What do you keep them for, mamma?
I dont know, Im sure, except for a plague; they are the plague of my life. I believe that more of my ill health is caused by them than by any one thing; and ours, I know, are the very worst that ever anybody was plagued with.
O, come, Marie, youve got the blues, this morning, said St. Clare. You know t isnt so. Theres Mammy, the best creature living,what could you do without her?
Mammy is the best I ever knew, said Marie; and yet Mammy, now, is selfishdreadfully selfish; its the fault of the whole race.
Selfishness is a dreadful fault, said St. Clare, gravely.
Well, now, theres Mammy, said Marie, I think its selfish of her to sleep so sound nights; she knows I need little attentions almost every hour, when my worst turns are on, and yet shes so hard to wake. I absolutely am worse, this very morning, for the efforts I had to make to wake her last night.
Hasnt she sat up with you a good many nights, lately, mamma? said Eva.
How should you know that? said Marie, sharply; shes been complaining, I suppose.
She didnt complain; she only told me what bad nights youd had,so many in succession.
Why dont you let Jane or Rosa take her place, a night or two, said St. Clare, and let her rest?
How can you propose it? said Marie. St. Clare, you really are inconsiderate. So nervous as I am, the least breath disturbs me; and a strange hand about me would drive me absolutely frantic. If Mammy felt the interest in me she ought to, shed wake easier,of course, she would. Ive heard of people who had such devoted servants, but it never was my luck; and Marie sighed.
Miss Ophelia had listened to this conversation with an air of shrewd, observant gravity; and she still kept her lips tightly compressed, as if determined fully to ascertain her longitude and position, before she committed herself.
Now, Mammy has a sort of goodness, said Marie; shes smooth and respectful, but shes selfish at heart. Now, she never will be done fidgeting and worrying about that husband of hers. You see, when I was married and came to live here, of course, I had to bring her with me, and her husband my father
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