Theres no use calling on the Lord,he never hears, said the woman, steadily; there isnt any God, I believe; or, if there is, hes taken sides against us. All goes against us, heaven and earth. Everything is pushing us into hell. Why shouldnt we go?
Tom closed his eyes, and shuddered at the dark, atheistic words.
You see, said the woman, you dont know anything about itI do. Ive been on this place five years, body and soul, under this mans foot; and I hate him as I do the devil! Here you are, on a lone plantation, ten miles from any other, in the swamps; not a white person here, who could testify, if you were burned alive,if you were scalded, cut into inch-pieces, set up for the dogs to tear, or hung up and whipped to death. Theres no law here, of God or man, that can do you, or any one of us, the least good; and, this man! theres no earthly thing that hes too good to do. I could make any ones hair rise, and their teeth chatter, if I should only tell what Ive seen and been knowing to, here,and its no use resisting! Did I want to live with him? Wasnt I a woman delicately bred; and he,God in heaven! what was he, and is he? And yet, Ive lived with him, these five years, and cursed every moment of my life,night and day! And now, hes got a new one,a young thing, only fifteen, and she brought up, she says, piously. Her good mistress taught her to read the Bible; and shes brought her Bible hereto hell with her!and the woman laughed a wild and doleful laugh, that rung, with a strange, supernatural sound, through the old ruined shed.
Tom folded his hands; all was darkness and horror.
O Jesus! Lord Jesus! have you quite forgot us poor critturs? burst forth, at last;help, Lord, I perish!
The woman sternly continued:
And what are these miserable low dogs you work with, that you should suffer on their account? Every one of them would turn against you, the first time they got a chance. They are all of em as low and cruel to each other as they can be; theres no use in your suffering to keep from hurting them.
Poor critturs! said Tom,what made em cruel?and, if I give out, I shall get used to t, and grow, little by little, just like em! No, no, Missis! Ive lost everything,wife, and children, and home, and a kind Masr,and he would have set me free, if hed only lived a week longer; Ive lost everything in this world, and its clean gone, forever,and now I cant lose Heaven, too; no, I cant get to be wicked, besides all!
But it cant be that the Lord will lay sin to our account, said the woman; he wont charge it to us, when were forced to it; hell charge it to them that drove us to it.
Yes, said Tom; but that wont keep us from growing wicked. If I get to be as hard-hearted as that ar Sambo, and as wicked, it wont make much odds to me how I come so; its the bein so,that ars what Im a dreadin.
The woman fixed a wild and startled look on Tom, as if a new thought had struck her; and then, heavily groaning, said,
O God a mercy! you speak the truth! OOO!and, with groans, she fell on the floor, like one crushed and writhing under the extremity of mental anguish.
There was a silence, a while, in which the breathing of both parties could be heard, when Tom faintly said, O, please, Missis!
The woman suddenly rose up, with her face composed to its usual stern, melancholy expression.
Please, Missis, I saw em throw my coat in that ar corner, and in my coat-pocket is my Bible;if Missis would please get it for me.
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