Uncle Tom's Cabin
Eliza made her desperate retreat across the river just in the dusk of twilight. The gray
mist of evening, rising slowly from the river, enveloped her as she disappeared up the
bank, and the swollen current and floundering masses of ice presented a hopeless barrier
between her and her pursuer. Haley therefore slowly and discontentedly returned to the
little tavern, to ponder further what was to be done. The woman opened to him the door
of a little parlor, covered with a rag carpet, where stood a table with a very shining black
oil-cloth, sundry lank, high-backed wood chairs, with some plaster images in resplendent
colors on the mantel-shelf, above a very dimly-smoking grate; a long hard-wood settle
extended its uneasy length by the chimney, and here Haley sat him down to meditate on
the instability of human hopes and happiness in general.
"What did I want with the little cuss, now," he said to himself, "that I should have got
myself treed like a coon, as I am, this yer way?" and Haley relieved himself by repeating
over a not very select litany of imprecations on himself, which, though there was the best
possible reason to consider them as true, we shall, as a matter of taste, omit.
He was startled by the loud and dissonant voice of a man who was apparently
dismounting at the door. He hurried to the window.
"By the land! if this yer an't the nearest, now, to what I've heard folks call Providence,"
said Haley. "I do b'lieve that ar's Tom Loker."
Haley hastened out. Standing by the bar, in the corner of the room, was a brawny,
muscular man, full six feet in height, and broad in proportion. He was dressed in a coat of
buffalo-skin, made with the hair outward, which gave him a shaggy and fierce
appearance, perfectly in keeping with the whole air of his physiognomy. In the head and
face every organ and lineament expressive of brutal and unhesitating violence was in a
state of the highest possible development. Indeed, could our readers fancy a bull-dog
come unto man's estate, and walking about in a hat and coat, they would have no unapt
idea of the general style and effect of his physique. He was accompanied by a travelling
companion, in many respects an exact contrast to himself. He was short and slender, lithe
and catlike in his motions, and had a peering, mousing expression about his keen black
eyes, with which every feature of his face seemed sharpened into sympathy; his thin, long
nose, ran out as if it was eager to bore into the nature of things in general; his sleek, thin,
black hair was stuck eagerly forward, and all his motions and evolutions expressed a dry,
cautious acuteness. The great man poured out a big tumbler half full of raw spirits, and
gulped it down without a word. The little man stood tiptoe, and putting his head first to
one side and then the other, and snuffing considerately in the directions of the various
bottles, ordered at last a mint julep, in a thin and quivering voice, and with an air of great
circumspection. When poured out, he took it and looked at it with a sharp, complacent
air, like,a man who thinks he has done about the right thing, and hit the nail on the head,
and proceeded to dispose of it in short and well-advised sips.