Our readers may not be unwilling to glance back, for a brief interval, at Uncle Toms Cabin, on the Kentucky farm, and see what has been transpiring among those whom he had left behind.
It was late in the summer afternoon, and the doors and windows of the large parlor all stood open, to invite any stray breeze, that might feel in a good humor, to enter. Mr. Shelby sat in a large hall opening into the room, and running through the whole length of the house, to a balcony on either end. Leisurely tipped back on one chair, with his heels in another, he was enjoying his after-dinner cigar. Mrs. Shelby sat in the door, busy about some fine sewing; she seemed like one who had something on her mind, which she was seeking an opportunity to introduce.
Do you know, she said, that Chloe has had a letter from Tom?
Ah! has she? Tom s got some friend there, it seems. How is the old boy?
He has been bought by a very fine family, I should think, said Mrs. Shelby,is kindly treated, and has not much to do.
Ah! well, Im glad of it,very glad, said Mr. Shelby, heartily. Tom, I suppose, will get reconciled to a Southern residence;hardly want to come up here again.
On the contrary he inquires very anxiously, said Mrs. Shelby, when the money for his redemption is to be raised.
Im sure I dont know, said Mr. Shelby. Once get business running wrong, there does seem to be no end to it. Its like jumping from one bog to another, all through a swamp; borrow of one to pay another, and then borrow of another to pay one,and these confounded notes falling due before a man has time to smoke a cigar and turn round,dunning letters and dunning messages,all scamper and hurry- scurry.
It does seem to me, my dear, that something might be done to straighten matters. Suppose we sell off all the horses, and sell one of your farms, and pay up square?
O, ridiculous, Emily! You are the finest woman in Kentucky; but still you havent sense to know that you dont understand business;women never do, and never can.
But, at least, said Mrs. Shelby, could not you give me some little insight into yours; a list of all your debts, at least, and of all that is owed to you, and let me try and see if I cant help you to economize.
O, bother! dont plague me, Emily!I cant tell exactly. I know somewhere about what things are likely to be; but theres no trimming and squaring my affairs, as Chloe trims crust off her pies. You dont know anything about business, I tell you.
And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his ideas, raised his voice,a mode of arguing very convenient and convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with his wife.
Mrs. Shelby ceased talking, with something of a sigh. The fact was, that though her husband had stated she was a woman, she had a clear, energetic, practical mind, and a force of character every way superior to that of her husband; so that it would not have been so very absurd a supposition, to have allowed her capable of managing, as Mr. Shelby supposed. Her heart was set on performing her promise to Tom and Aunt Chloe, and she sighed as discouragements thickened around her.
Dont you think we might in some way contrive to raise that money? Poor Aunt Chloe! her heart is so set on it!
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