Though we might conjure up a picture of a hell house when we think of slave warehouses, the narrator assures us that they are actually quite genteel – they have to be nice so they don’t offend the sensibilities of white ladies and gentlemen.
Tom and Adolph endure taunts from other slaves. One slave calls Adolph a "white nigger," meaning that Adolph thinks he’s a gentleman.
Adolph doesn’t quite get the taunts and responds proudly that he belongs to the St. Clare family, clearly forgetting that soon, he’s to be sold.
The narrator tells us about a mother and daughter, Susan and Emmeline, who are in the women’s room of the warehouse. The two women belonged to a kind mistress who taught them to read and helped them become Christians. Now they’re going to be sold.
Susan is worried about her daughter’s virtue. She doesn’t want Emmeline to seem too pretty, so she tells the young woman to comb back her curls.
In the morning, however, Mr. Skeggs, the keeper, tells Emmeline to put her curls back. It can make the difference of a hundred dollars, he says, if a slave girl looks attractive.
Some "gentlemen" discuss the slaves for sale, and one of them says he wouldn’t buy a St. Clare slave for the world: they’re too extravagant. The other says that he’ll take the extravagance out of the St. Clare slaves soon enough.
A short, broad, muscular man comes up and begins to examine the different slaves for sale. Tom feels horror and repulsion as the man approaches, but he endures the examination.
Then the man moves on to examine Emmeline, who starts to cry.
Adolph is sold. Tom is sold to the man who gave him the creeps. Susan is sold; she asks the man to buy her daughter as well, but he can’t afford the girl. So Emmeline is also sold to Tom’s new master.