It was a new kind of work there,a deed of charity, small as it was; but it woke an answering touch in their hearts,an expression of womanly kindness came over their hard faces; they mixed his cake for him, and tended its baking; and Tom sat down by the light of the fire, and drew out his Bible,for he had need for comfort.
Whats that? said one of the woman.
A Bible, said Tom.
Good Lord! hant seen un since I was in Kentuck.
Was you raised in Kentuck? said Tom, with interest.
Yes, and well raised, too; never spected to come to dis yer! said the woman, sighing.
Whats dat ar book, any way? said the other woman.
Why, the Bible.
Laws a me! whats dat? said the woman.
Do tell! you never hearn on t? said the other woman. I used to har Missis a readin on t, sometimes, in Kentuck; but, laws o me! we dont har nothin here but crackin and swarin.
Read a piece, anyways! said the first woman, curiously, seeing Tom attentively poring over it.
Tom read,Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Thems good words, enough, said the woman; who says em?
The Lord, said Tom.
I jest wish I knowd whar to find Him, said the woman. I would go; pears like I never should get rested again. My flesh is fairly sore, and I tremble all over, every day, and Sambos allers a jawin at me, cause I doesnt pick faster; and nights its most midnight fore I can get my supper; and den pears like I dont turn over and shut my eyes, fore I hear de horn blow to get up, and at it agin in de mornin. If I knew whar de Lor was, Id tell him.
Hes here, hes everywhere, said Tom.
Lor, you ant gwine to make me believe dat ar! I know de Lord ant here, said the woman; tant no use talking, though. Is jest gwine to camp down, and sleep while I ken.
The women went off to their cabins, and Tom sat alone, by the smouldering fire, that flickered up redly in his face.
The silver, fair-browed moon rose in the purple sky, and looked down, calm and silent, as God looks on the scene of misery and oppression,looked calmly on the lone black man, as he sat, with his arms folded, and his Bible on his knee.
Is God Here? Ah, how is it possible for the untaught heart to keep its faith, unswerving, in the face of dire misrule, and palpable, unrebuked injustice? In that simple heart waged a fierce conflict; the crushing sense of wrong, the foreshadowing, of a whole life of future misery, the wreck of all past hopes, mournfully tossing in the souls sight, like dead corpses of wife, and child, and friend, rising from the dark wave, and surging in the face of the half-drowned mariner! Ah, was it easy here to believe and hold fast the great password of Christian faith, that God IS, and is the REWARDER of them that diligently seek Him?
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