Uncle Tom's Cabin HTML version
The Freeman's Defence
There was a gentle bustle at the Quaker house, as the afternoon drew to a close. Rachel
Halliday moved quietly to and fro, collecting from her household stores such needments
as could be arranged in the smallest compass, for the wanderers who were to go forth that
night. The afternoon shadows stretched eastward, and the round red sun stood
thoughtfully on the horizon, and his beams shone yellow and calm into the little bed-
room where George and his wife were sitting. He was sitting with his child on his knee,
and his wife's hand in his. Both looked thoughtful and serious and traces of tears were on
"Yes, Eliza," said George, "I know all you say is true. You are a good child,--a great deal
better than I am; and I will try to do as you say. I'll try to act worthy of a free man. I'll try
to feel like a Christian. God Almighty knows that I've meant to do well,--tried hard to do
well,--when everything has been against me; and now I'll forget all the past, and put away
every hard and bitter feeling, and read my Bible, and learn to be a good man."
"And when we get to Canada," said Eliza, "I can help you. I can do dress-making very
well; and I understand fine washing and ironing; and between us we can find something
to live on."
"Yes, Eliza, so long as we have each other and our boy. O! Eliza, if these people only
knew what a blessing it is for a man to feel that his wife and child belong to him! I've
often wondered to see men that could call their wives and children their own fretting and
worrying about anything else. Why, I feel rich and strong, though we have nothing but
our bare hands. I feel as if I could scarcely ask God for any more. Yes, though I've
worked hard every day, till I am twenty-five years old, and have not a cent of money, nor
a roof to cover me, nor a spot of land to call my own, yet, if they will only let me alone
now, I will be satisfied,--thankful; I will work, and send back the money for you and my
boy. As to my old master, he has been paid five times over for all he ever spent for me. I
don't owe him anything."
"But yet we are not quite out of danger," said Eliza; "we are not yet in Canada."
"True," said George, "but it seems as if I smelt the free air, and it makes me strong."
At this moment, voices were heard in the outer apartment, in earnest conversation, and
very soon a rap was heard on the door. Eliza started and opened it.
Simeon Halliday was there, and with him a Quaker brother, whom he introduced as
Phineas Fletcher. Phineas was tall and lathy, red-haired, with an expression of great
acuteness and shrewdness in his face. He had not the placid, quiet, unworldly air of
Simeon Halliday; on the contrary, a particularly wide-awake and au fait appearance, like
a man who rather prides himself on knowing what he is about, and keeping a bright