Brave mother (from “uncle tom’s cabin”) by h. beecher-stowe
Mr. Shelby had a large plantation and many slaves in the South of America. He never had enough money. He borrowed large sums from a man named Haley, whose business was to buy and sell slaves. Mr. Shelby could not pay the money back, and Haley said be would take Shelby's house or some slaves. Mr. Shelby decided to sell Tom, who helped him to look after the farm.
"Tom is a good man," said Mr. Shelby; "he helps me on the farm and I trust him."
"Well, I'll take your Tom if you add a boy or a girl to him," answered Haley.
"I don't think I have a boy or a girl that I could sell. If I could pay the money back I wouldn't sell slaves at all."
Here the door opened and a small Negro boy, between four and five years of age, entered the room. Mr. Shelby gave him some fruit and said, "Now, Harry, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing." The boy began to sing one of the most popular Negro songs in a clear voice.
"Bravo!" said Haley, throwing the boy a piece of an orange.
"Now, boy, walk like an old man!" said Mr. Shelby. The boy began walking about the room, his master's stick in his hand, in imitation of an old man.
"Hurrah! Bravo! What a boy!" said Haley. "Shelby, I like that boy, if you add him, the business is done." At this moment the door opened and a young Negro woman about twenty-five entered the room. You could tell immediately, that she was the mother of the boy. The same beautiful dark eyes and silky black hair.
"Well, Elisa?" asked her master as she stopped and looked at him.
"I was looking for Harry, please, Sir."
The boy ran to his mother showing her the nice things which he had got from the men for his performance.
"Well, take him away, then," said Mr. Shelby; and she quickly left the room, carrying the child in her arms.
"I say, Shelby," said the trader, "that is a fine woman. You could get much money for her in New Orleans, any day. I've seen a thousand dollars paid for a girl like that."
"I don't want any money for her. My wife likes her and wouldn't part with her. I don't want to speak about it."
"Well, you'll let me have the boy, won't you?" said the trader.
"What do you want the boy for?" asked Shelby.
"I have a friend who sells good boys in the market. He sells them to rich people. Boys can be waiters, open doors and help in the house."
"I don't want to take the boy from his mother," said Mr. Shelby.
"Oh, you can send the woman away for a day or a week; then your wife can give her a new dress or some other thing to make it up with her."
"I'll think it over and talk to my wife," said Mr. Shelby.
"But I want to know the result as soon as possible," said Haley, rising and putting on his coat.
"Well, come this evening between six and seven, and you shall have my answer," said Mr. Shelby, and the trader left the house.
In the evening Mr. Shelby told his wife that he had sold Tom and little Harry to Haley. Elisa was in the next room and heard the conversation. She decided to take her boy and run away to Canada, where Negroes were free. She packed some of her things, took the boy in her arms and quietly Left the house.
To get to Canada Elisa had to cross the Ohio River. She knew the road to the river, as she had of ten gone with her mistress to visit some friends in the little village near the Ohio River. Elisa walked all the night. In the morning, when people and horses began to move along the road, she sat down behind the trees and gave little Harry something to eat. After a short rest they continued their way.