The first of Tom's masters is Mr. Shelby. He's quite a kind, good-hearted man on the whole. He trusts Tom with important plantation business and often sends him off to run errands far from home. Clearly, Shelby doesn't believe that Tom's the kind of slave who'd run away from captivity. Nevertheless, Shelby is still a slave owner, and Tom is still oppressed as a piece of property to be bought and sold. Indeed, Shelby sells Tom to pay off some of his enormous debts.
Tom's next master, St. Clare, buys him from the slave market and makes him his coachman. As with Shelby, he's a kind, considerate man who earns the admiration of Tom for his jolly demeanor and the way he jokes around with his slaves. Although St. Clare, unlike his wife, regards Tom as a human being, his relationship to his slaves is ultimately still that of a superior to subordinates. Nevertheless, in his last few hours on earth, St. Clare repents of his ways, and he is finally led to the Lord by Tom's kindly ministrations.
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