Summary: Chapter XVII
Back at the home of the Quakers, Eliza and George speak of the happiness they receive from being in each other’s company. They discuss their plans for reaching Canada and realize that a long and dangerous journey awaits them. Phineas, the Quaker who is to drive them to their next stopping-place, tells them that Tom Loker and his gang have arrived at a nearby tavern and plan to come for them that very night. After supper, Phineas, George, Eliza, Harry, and the Hallidays leave the house, hoping to elude their pursuers under cover of darkness. They hurry along, and set up camp in a small space accessible only through a narrow gap between two rocks. If the gang comes to attack them, the men will have to enter one by one.
Tom Loker and his gang arrive, and George stands up on a rock to address them. He asserts his freedom and declares his intention to defend it by force. They shoot at him, but he leaps out the way, swearing that he will shoot any man who tries to enter their campsite. Tom Loker tries to push up and through the rock, and George lives up to his word, wounding him in the side. Loker leaps around until Phineas pushes him over the embankment. The other slave hunters start to fight but eventually retreat, deserting Loker. The Quakers and escaped slaves now approach the slave hunter, wounded and unconscious. Eliza takes pity on Loker, and the Quakers agree to carry him to another Quaker household, where he will be healed. They load the wounded man into their wagon.
Summary: Chapter XVIII
“. . . an’t [heaven] where white folks is gwine? I’d rather go to torment, and get away from Mas’r and Missis.”See Important Quotations Explained
In the St. Clare household, Uncle Tom slowly takes on more and more responsibility, eventually taking over the finances of the house for his master. His Christian faith keeps him honest and leads him to worry for St. Clare, who spends his nights at parties in drunken revelry. After a talk with Tom, St. Clare promises to stop this behavior. While Tom attempts to reform his master, Miss Ophelia tries to reform the house. Dinah, the cook, demonstrates a culinary genius but keeps no semblance of order. Miss Ophelia cleans up the kitchen, organizes the house, and attempts to instill a Northern sense of efficiency, with some success.
Prue, a slave from down the street, comes into the kitchen bearing hot rolls to sell. Prue says she is miserable and wishes she were dead. In response to the remark of another slave, she admits to getting drunk in order to alleviate her sorrows. As she leaves the kitchen, Tom asks to help her with carrying the rolls. He implores her to stop drinking and find the Lord. She tells him her sordid history. A former master used her to breed children to sell at the slave market. After being sold to her current master, she gave birth to another baby and gratefully anticipated being able to raise the child, having had so many taken from her over the years. However, her mistress soon took ill, and the long hours that Prue had to spend at her bedside, away from the baby, caused her milk to dry up. Her owners refused to pay for purchased milk, and the baby died of starvation.
After Prue leaves, Tom sits alone outside. Eva comes out to take a ride in her new carriage, and asks him what troubles him. He tells her Prue’s story, and she loses all desire to go out that day.
Summary: Chapter XIX
A few days later, the members of the St. Clare household learn that Prue’s master has whipped her to death. Miss Ophelia reacts with shock, and asks if no laws exist to protect against such deeds. St. Clare explains that the law considers slaves to be property, and people may destroy their own possessions at will. Ophelia accuses St. Clare of supporting slavery; he denies this but says, “in a community so organized, what can a man of honorable and humane feelings do, but shut his eyes all he can, and harden his heart? . . . the most I can do is to try and keep out of the way of it.”
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