24 MRS. H. BEECHER STOWE's " UNCLE TOM."
young buck, and running over with animal spirits.
I could run faster, wrestle better, and jump higher
than anybody about me, and at an evening shake¬
down in our own or a neighbour's kitchen, my feet
became absolutely invisible from the rate at which
they moved. All this caused my master and my
fellow-slaves to look upon me as a wonderfully smart
fellow, and prophecy the great things I should do
when I became a man. My vanity became vastly
inflamed, and I fully coincided in their opinion.
Julius Cocsar never aspired and plotted for the im¬
perial crown more ambitiously than did I to out-hoe,
out-reap, out-husk, out-dance, out-strip every com¬
petitor ; and from all I can learn he never enjoyed
his triumph half as much. One word of commen¬
dation from the petty despot who ruled over us
would set me up for a month.
God be praised, that, however hedged in by cir¬
cumstances, the joyful exuberance of youth will
bound at times over them all. Ours is a light-
hearted race. The sternest and most covetous
master cannot frighten or whip the fun out of us;
certainly old Riley never did out of me. In those
days I had many a merry time, and would have had,
had I lived with nothing but moccasins and rattle¬
snakes in Okafenoke swamp. Slavery did its best to
make me wretched, but, along with memories of miry
cabins, frosted feet, weary toil under the blazing
sun, curses and blows, there flock in others, of
jolly Christmas times, dances before old massa's door
for the first drink of egg-nog, extra meat at holiday
times, midnight-visits to apple-orchards, broiling