Eliza’s mistress had brought her up as a "petted and indulged favorite." And, the narrator informs us, Eliza’s lucky that she has Mrs. Shelby as a mistress because she protected Eliza from "those temptations that make beauty so fatal an inheritance to a slave."
Eliza is married to another slave, George Harris, who is also partly white. George’s master has hired him out to a manufacturer. In his new place, George has invented a machine for cleaning hemp.
Although he’s profiting from George’s skills, George’s master grows jealous when he hears George praised, deciding to teach him a lesson for being so "smart." On the spot, he decides to take George home with him and put him back to working the lowest chores on the farm.
George smolders under such treatment and longs for his freedom.
When the manufacturer tries to reason with George’s master, to let him return to his former employment, George’s master refuses.