Uncle Tom's Cabin HTML version

Of Tom's New Master, and Various Other Matters
Since the thread of our humble hero's life has now become interwoven with that of higher
ones, it is necessary to give some brief introduction to them.
Augustine St. Clare was the son of a wealthy planter of Louisiana. The family had its
origin in Canada. Of two brothers, very similar in temperament and character, one had
settled on a flourishing farm in Vermont, and the other became an opulent planter in
Louisiana. The mother of Augustine was a Huguenot French lady, whose family had
emigrated to Louisiana during the days of its early settlement. Augustine and another
brother were the only children of their parents. Having inherited from his mother an
exceeding delicacy of constitution, he was, at the instance of physicians, during many
years of his boyhood, sent to the care of his uncle in Vermont, in order that his
constitution might, be strengthened by the cold of a more bracing climate.
In childhood, he was remarkable for an extreme and marked sensitiveness of character,
more akin to the softness of woman than the ordinary hardness of his own sex. Time,
however, overgrew this softness with the rough bark of manhood, and but few knew how
living and fresh it still lay at the core. His talents were of the very first order, although his
mind showed a preference always for the ideal and the aesthetic, and there was about him
that repugnance to the actual business of life which is the common result of this balance
of the faculties. Soon after the completion of his college course, his whole nature was
kindled into one intense and passionate effervescence of romantic passion. His hour
came,--the hour that comes only once; his star rose in the horizon,--that star that rises so
often in vain, to be remembered only as a thing of dreams; and it rose for him in vain. To
drop the figure,--he saw and won the love of a high-minded and beautiful woman, in one
of the northern states, and they were affianced. He returned south to make arrangements
for their marriage, when, most unexpectedly, his letters were returned to him by mail,
with a short note from her guardian, stating to him that ere this reached him the lady
would be the wife of another. Stung to madness, he vainly hoped, as many another has
done, to fling the whole thing from his heart by one desperate effort. Too proud to
supplicate or seek explanation, he threw himself at once into a whirl of fashionable
society, and in a fortnight from the time of the fatal letter was the accepted lover of the
reigning belle of the season; and as soon as arrangements could be made, he became the
husband of a fine figure, a pair of bright dark eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars; and,
of course, everybody thought him a happy fellow.
The married couple were enjoying their honeymoon, and entertaining a brilliant circle of
friends in their splendid villa, near Lake Pontchartrain, when, one day, a letter was
brought to him in that well-remembered writing. It was handed to him while he was in
full tide of gay and successful conversation, in a whole room-full of company. He turned
deadly pale when he saw the writing, but still preserved his composure, and finished the
playful warfare of badinage which he was at the moment carrying on with a lady
opposite; and, a short time after, was missed from the circle. In his room, alone, he
opened and read the letter, now worse than idle and useless to be read. It was from her,