Well, old boy, he said, you find your religion dont work, it seems! I thought I should get that through your wool, at last!
The cruel taunt was more than hunger and cold and nakedness. Tom was silent.
You were a fool, said Legree; for I meant to do well by you, when I bought you. You might have been better off than Sambo, or Quimbo either, and had easy times; and, instead of getting cut up and thrashed, every day or two, ye might have had liberty to lord it round, and cut up the other niggers; and ye might have had, now and then, a good warming of whiskey punch. Come, Tom, dont you think youd better be reasonable?heave that ar old pack of trash in the fire, and join my church!
The Lord forbid! said Tom, fervently.
You see the Lord ant going to help you; if he had been, he wouldnt have let me get you! This yer religion is all a mess of lying trumpery, Tom. I know all about it. Yed better hold to me; Im somebody, and can do something!
No, Masr, said Tom; Ill hold on. The Lord may help me, or not help; but Ill hold to him, and believe him to the last!
The more fool you! said Legree, spitting scornfully at him, and spurning him with his foot. Never mind; Ill chase you down, yet, and bring you under,youll see! and Legree turned away.
When a heavy weight presses the soul to the lowest level at which endurance is possible, there is an instant and desperate effort of every physical and moral nerve to throw off the weight; and hence the heaviest anguish often precedes a return tide of joy and courage. So was it now with Tom. The atheistic taunts of his cruel master sunk his before dejected soul to the lowest ebb; and, though the hand of faith still held to the eternal rock, it was a numb, despairing grasp. Tom sat, like one stunned, at the fire. Suddenly everything around him seemed to fade, and a vision rose before him of one crowned with thorns, buffeted and bleeding. Tom gazed, in awe and wonder, at the majestic patience of the face; the deep, pathetic eyes thrilled him to his inmost heart; his soul woke, as, with floods of emotion, he stretched out his hands and fell upon his knees,when, gradually, the vision changed: the sharp thorns became rays of glory; and, in splendor inconceivable, he saw that same face bending compassionately towards him, and a voice said, He that overcometh shall sit down with me on my throne, even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father on his throne.
How long Tom lay there, he knew not. When he came to himself, the fire was gone out, his clothes were wet with the chill and drenching dews; but the dread soul-crisis was past, and, in the joy that filled him, he no longer felt hunger, cold, degradation, disappointment, wretchedness. From his deepest soul, he that hour loosed and parted from every hope in life that now is, and offered his own will an unquestioning sacrifice to the Infinite. Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,types of the angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.
Bright shining like the sun,
Weve no less days to sing Gods praise
Than when we first begun.
Those who have been familiar with the religious histories of the slave population know that relations like what we have narrated are very common among them. We have heard some from their own lips,
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