Uncle Tom's Cabin HTML version
Two days after this, Alfred St. Clare and Augustine parted; and Eva, who had been
stimulated, by the society of her young cousin, to exertions beyond her strength, began to
fail rapidly. St. Clare was at last willing to call in medical advice,--a thing from which he
had always shrunk, because it was the admission of an unwelcome truth.
But, for a day or two, Eva was so unwell as to be confined to the house; and the doctor
Marie St. Clare had taken no notice of the child's gradually decaying health and strength,
because she was completely absorbed in studying out two or three new forms of disease
to which she believed she herself was a victim. It was the first principle of Marie's belief
that nobody ever was or could be so great a sufferer as herself; and, therefore, she always
repelled quite indignantly any suggestion that any one around her could be sick. She was
always sure, in such a case, that it was nothing but laziness, or want of energy; and that, if
they had had the suffering she had, they would soon know the difference.
Miss Ophelia had several times tried to awaken her maternal fears about Eva; but to no
"I don't see as anything ails the child," she would say; "she runs about, and plays."
"But she has a cough."
"Cough! you don't need to tell me about a cough. I've always been subject to a cough, all
my days. When I was of Eva's age, they thought I was in a consumption. Night after
night, Mammy used to sit up with me. O! Eva's cough is not anything."
"But she gets weak, and is short-breathed."
"Law! I've had that, years and years; it's only a nervous affection."
"But she sweats so, nights!"
"Well, I have, these ten years. Very often, night after night, my clothes will be wringing
wet. There won't be a dry thread in my night-clothes and the sheets will be so that
Mammy has to hang them up to dry! Eva doesn't sweat anything like that!"
Miss Ophelia shut her mouth for a season. But, now that Eva was fairly and visibly
prostrated, and a doctor called, Marie, all on a sudden, took a new turn.
"She knew it," she said; "she always felt it, that she was destined to be the most miserable
of mothers. Here she was, with her wretched health, and her only darling child going