Thought so!ant you going to do anything about it? said Miss Ophelia. Havent you got any selectmen, or anybody, to interfere and look after such matters?
Its commonly supposed that the property interest is a sufficient guard in these cases. If people choose to ruin their own possessions, I dont know whats to be done. It seems the poor creature was a thief and a drunkard; and so there wont be much hope to get up sympathy for her.
It is perfectly outrageous,it is horrid, Augustine! It will certainly bring down vengeance upon you.
My dear cousin, I didnt do it, and I cant help it; I would, if I could. If low-minded, brutal people will act like themselves, what am I to do? they have absolute control; they are irresponsible despots. There would be no use in interfering; there is no law that amounts to anything practically, for such a case. The best we can do is to shut our eyes and ears, and let it alone. Its the only resource left us.
How can you shut your eyes and ears? How can you let such things alone?
My dear child, what do you expect? Here is a whole class,debased, uneducated, indolent, provoking,put, without any sort of terms or conditions, entirely into the hands of such people as the majority in our world are; people who have neither consideration nor self-control, who havent even an enlightened regard to their own interest,for thats the case with the largest half of mankind. Of course, in a community so organized, what can a man of honorable and humane feelings do, but shut his eyes all he can, and harden his heart? I cant buy every poor wretch I see. I cant turn knight-errant, and undertake to redress every individual case of wrong in such a city as this. The most I can do is to try and keep out of the way of it.
St. Clares fine countenance was for a moment overcast; he said,
Come, cousin, dont stand there looking like one of the Fates; youve only seen a peep through the curtain,a specimen of what is going on, the world over, in some shape or other. If we are to be prying and spying into all the dismals of life, we should have no heart to anything. T is like looking too close into the details of Dinahs kitchen; and St. Clare lay back on the sofa, and busied himself with his paper.
Miss Ophelia sat down, and pulled out her knitting-work, and sat there grim with indignation. She knit and knit, but while she mused the fire burned; at last she broke outI tell you, Augustine, I cant get over things so, if you can. Its a perfect abomination for you to defend such a system,thats my mind!
What now? said St. Clare, looking up. At it again, hey?
I say its perfectly abominable for you to defend such a system! said Miss Ophelia, with increasing warmth.
I defend it, my dear lady? Who ever said I did defend it? said St. Clare.
Of course, you defend it,you all do,all you Southerners. What do you have slaves for, if you dont?
Are you such a sweet innocent as to suppose nobody in this world ever does what they dont think is right? Dont you, or didnt you ever, do anything that you did not think quite right?
If I do, I repent of it, I hope, said Miss Ophelia, rattling her needles with energy.
So do I, said St. Clare, peeling his orange; Im repenting of it all the time.
What do you keep on doing it for?
Didnt you ever keep on doing wrong, after youd repented, my good cousin?
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