There was a gentle bustle at the Quaker house, as the
afternoon drew to a close. Rachel
Halliday moved quietly to and fro, collecting from her household stores such
needments as could be arranged in the smallest compass, for the wanderers who
were to go forth that night. The
afternoon shadows stretched eastward, and the round red sun stood thoughtfully
on the horizon, and his beams shone yellow and calm into the little bed-room
where George and his wife were sitting. He
was sitting with his child on his knee, and his wife's hand in his.
Both looked thoughtful and serious and traces of tears were on their
"Yes, Eliza," said George,
"I know all you say is true. You
are a good child,--a great deal better than I am; and I will try to do as you
say. I'll try to act worthy of a
free man. I'll try to feel like a
Christian. God Almighty knows that
I've meant to do well,--tried hard to do well,--when everything has been against
me; and now I'll forget all the past, and put away every hard and bitter
feeling, and read my Bible, and learn to be a good man."
"And when we get to Canada,"
said Eliza, "I can help you. I
can do dress-making very well; and I understand fine washing and ironing; and
between us we can find something to live on."
"Yes, Eliza, so long as we have
each other and our boy. O! Eliza,
if these people only knew what a blessing it is for a man to feel that his wife
and child belong to _him_! I've
often wondered to see men that could call their wives and children _their own_
fretting and worrying about anything else.
Why, I feel rich and strong, though we have nothing but our bare hands.
I feel as if I could scarcely ask God for any more.
Yes, though I've worked hard every day, till I am twenty-five years old,
and have not a cent of money, nor a roof to cover me, nor a spot of land to call
my own, yet, if they will only let me alone now, I will be satisfied,--thankful;
I will work, and send back the money for you and my boy.
As to my old master, he has been paid five times over for all he ever
spent for me. I don't owe him
"But yet we are not quite out of
danger," said Eliza; "we are not yet in Canada."
"True," said George, "but
it seems as if I smelt the free air, and it makes me strong."
At this moment, voices were heard in the
outer apartment, in earnest conversation, and very soon a rap was heard on the
door. Eliza started and opened it.
Simeon Halliday was there, and with him
a Quaker brother, whom he introduced as Phineas Fletcher.
Phineas was tall and lathy, red-haired, with an expression of great
acuteness and shrewdness in his face. He
had not the placid, quiet, unworldly air of Simeon Halliday; on the contrary, a
particularly wide-awake and _au fait_ appearance, like a man who rather prides
himself on knowing what he is about, and keeping a bright lookout ahead;
peculiarities which sorted rather oddly with his broad brim and formal
"Our friend Phineas hath discovered
something of importance to the interests of thee and thy party, George,"
said Simeon; "it were well for thee to hear it."
"That I have," said Phineas,
"and it shows the use of a man's always sleeping with one ear open, in
certain places, as I've always said. Last
night I stopped at a little lone tavern, back on the road.
Thee remembers the place, Simeon, where we sold some apples, last year,
to that fat woman, with the great ear-rings.
Well, I was tired with hard driving; and, after my supper I stretched
myself down on a pile of bags in the corner, and pulled a buffalo over me, to
wait till my bed was ready; and what does I do, but get fast asleep."
"With one ear open, Phineas?"
said Simeon, quietly.
"No; I slept, ears and all, for an
hour or two, for I was pretty well tired; but when I came to myself a little, I
found that there were some men in the room, sitting round a table, drinking and
talking; and I thought, before I made much muster, I'd just see what they were
up to, especially as I heard them say something about the Quakers.
`So,' says one, `they are up in the Quaker settlement, no doubt,' says
he. Then I listened with both ears,
and I found that they were talking about this very party.
So I lay and heard them lay off all their plans.
This young man, they said, was to be sent back to Kentucky, to his
master, who was going to make an example of him, to keep all niggers from
running away; and his wife two of them were going to run down to New Orleans to
sell, on their own account, and they calculated to get sixteen or eighteen
hundred dollars for her; and the child, they said, was going to a trader, who
had bought him; and then there was the boy, Jim, and his mother, they were to go
back to their masters in Kentucky. They
said that there were two constables, in a town a little piece ahead, who would
go in with 'em to get 'em taken up, and the young woman was to be taken before a
judge; and one of the fellows, who is small and smooth-spoken, was to swear to
her for his property, and get her delivered over to him to take south.
They've got a right notion of the track we are going tonight; and they'll
be down after us, six or eight strong. So
now, what's to be done?"
The group that stood in various
attitudes, after this communication, were worthy of a painter. Rachel Halliday, who had taken her hands out of a batch of
biscuit, to hear the news, stood with them upraised and floury, and with a face
of the deepest concern. Simeon
looked profoundly thoughtful; Eliza had thrown her arms around her husband, and
was looking up to him. George stood
with clenched hands and glowing eyes, and looking as any other man might look,
whose wife was to be sold at auction, and son sent to a trader, all under the
shelter of a Christian nation's laws.
"What _shall_ we do, George?"
said Eliza faintly.
"I know what _I_ shall do,"
said George, as he stepped into the little room, and began examining pistols.
"Ay, ay," said Phineas,
nodding his head to Simeon; thou seest, Simeon, how it will work."
"I see," said Simeon, sighing;
"I pray it come not to that."
"I don't want to involve any one
with or for me," said George. "If
you will lend me your vehicle and direct me, I will drive alone to the next
stand. Jim is a giant in strength,
and brave as death and despair, and so am I."
"Ah, well, friend," said
Phineas, "but thee'll need a driver, for all that.
Thee's quite welcome to do all the fighting, thee knows; but I know a
thing or two about the road, that thee doesn't."
"But I don't want to involve
you," said George.
"Involve," said Phineas, with
a curious and keen expression of face, "When thee does involve me, please
to let me know."
"Phineas is a wise and skilful
man," said Simeon. "Thee
does well, George, to abide by his judgment; and," he added, laying his
hand kindly on George's shoulder, and pointing to the pistols, "be not over
hasty with these,--young blood is hot."
"I will attack no man," said
George. "All I ask of this
country is to be let alone, and I will go out peaceably; but,"--he paused,
and his brow darkened and his face worked,--"I've had a sister sold in that
New Orleans market. I know what
they are sold for; and am I going to stand by and see them take my wife and sell
her, when God has given me a pair of strong arms to defend her?
No; God help me! I'll fight to the last breath, before they shall take my wife
and son. Can you blame me?"
"Mortal man cannot blame thee,
George. Flesh and blood could not
do otherwise," said Simeon. "Woe
unto the world because of offences, but woe unto them through whom the offence
"Would not even you, sir, do the
same, in my place?"
"I pray that I be not tried,"
said Simeon; "the flesh is weak."
"I think my flesh would be pretty
tolerable strong, in such a case," said Phineas, stretching out a pair of
arms like the sails of a windmill. "I
an't sure, friend George, that I shouldn't hold a fellow for thee, if thee had
any accounts to settle with him."
"If man should _ever_ resist
evil," said Simeon, "then George should feel free to do it now: but
the leaders of our people taught a more excellent way; for the wrath of man
worketh not the righteousness of God; but it goes sorely against the corrupt
will of man, and none can receive it save they to whom it is given.
Let us pray the Lord that we be not tempted."
"And so _I_ do," said Phineas;
"but if we are tempted too much--why, let them look out, that's all."
"It's quite plain thee wasn't born
a Friend," said Simeon, smiling. "The
old nature hath its way in thee pretty strong as yet."
To tell the truth, Phineas had been a
hearty, two-fisted backwoodsman, a vigorous hunter, and a dead shot at a buck;
but, having wooed a pretty Quakeress, had been moved by the power of her charms
to join the society in his neighborhood; and though he was an honest, sober, and
efficient member, and nothing particular could be alleged against him, yet the
more spiritual among them could not but discern an exceeding lack of savor in
"Friend Phineas will ever have ways
of his own," said Rachel Halliday, smiling; "but we all think that his
heart is in the right place, after all."
"Well," said George,
"isn't it best that we hasten our flight?"
"I got up at four o'clock, and came
on with all speed, full two or three hours ahead of them, if they start at the
time they planned. It isn't safe to
start till dark, at any rate; for there are some evil persons in the villages
ahead, that might be disposed to meddle with us, if they saw our wagon, and that
would delay us more than the waiting; but in two hours I think we may venture.
I will go over to Michael Cross, and engage him to come behind on his
swift nag, and keep a bright lookout on the road, and warn us if any company of
men come on. Michael keeps a horse
that can soon get ahead of most other horses; and he could shoot ahead and let
us know, if there were any danger. I
am going out now to warn Jim and the old woman to be in readiness, and to see
about the horse. We have a pretty
fair start, and stand a good chance to get to the stand before they can come up
with us. So, have good courage,
friend George; this isn't the first ugly scrape that I've been in with thy
people," said Phineas, as he closed the door.
"Phineas is pretty shrewd,"
said Simeon. "He will do the
best that can be done for thee, George."
"All I am sorry for," said
George, "is the risk to you."
"Thee'll much oblige us, friend
George, to say no more about that. What
we do we are conscience bound to do; we can do no other way.
And now, mother," said he, turning to Rachel, "hurry thy
preparations for these friends, for we must not send them away fasting."
And while Rachel and her children were
busy making corn-cake, and cooking ham and chicken, and hurrying on the _et
ceteras_ of the evening meal, George and his wife sat in their little room, with
their arms folded about each other, in such talk as husband and wife have when
they know that a few hours may part them forever.
"Eliza," said George,
"people that have friends, and houses, and lands, and money, and all those
things _can't_ love as we do, who have nothing but each other.
Till I knew you, Eliza, no creature had loved me, but my poor,
heart-broken mother and sister. I
saw poor Emily that morning the trader carried her off.
She came to the corner where I was lying asleep, and said, `Poor George,
your last friend is going. What
will become of you, poor boy?' And
I got up and threw my arms round her, and cried and sobbed, and she cried too;
and those were the last kind words I got for ten long years; and my heart all
withered up, and felt as dry as ashes, till I met you.
And your loving me,--why, it was almost like raising one from the dead!
I've been a new man ever since! And
now, Eliza, I'll give my last drop of blood, but they _shall not_ take you from
me. Whoever gets you must walk over
my dead body."
"O, Lord, have mercy!" said
Eliza, sobbing. "If he will
only let us get out of this country together, that is all we ask."
"Is God on their side?" said
George, speaking less to his wife than pouring out his own bitter thoughts.
"Does he see all they do? Why
does he let such things happen? And
they tell us that the Bible is on their side; certainly all the power is.
They are rich, and healthy, and happy; they are members of churches,
expecting to go to heaven; and they get along so easy in the world, and have it
all their own way; and poor, honest, faithful Christians,--Christians as good or
better than they,--are lying in the very dust under their feet. They buy 'em and sell 'em, and make trade of their heart's
blood, and groans and tears,--and God _lets_ them."
"Friend George," said Simeon,
from the kitchen, "listen to this Psalm; it may do thee good."
George drew his seat near the door, and
Eliza, wiping her tears, came forward also to listen, while Simeon read as
"But as for me, my feet were almost
gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For
I was envious of the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They are not in trouble like other men, neither are they plagued like
other men. Therefore, pride
compasseth them as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart could wish.
They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak
loftily. Therefore his people
return, and the waters of a full cup are wrung out to them, and they say, How
doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?"
"Is not that the way thee feels,
"It is so indeed," said
George,--"as well as I could have written it myself."
"Then, hear," said Simeon:
"When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me until I went
unto the sanctuary of God. Then
understood I their end. Surely thou
didst set them in slippery places, thou castedst them down to destruction. As a dream when one awaketh, so, oh Lord, when thou awakest,
thou shalt despise their image. Nevertheless
I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou
shalt guide me by thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.
It is good for me to draw near unto God.
I have put my trust in the Lord God."
 Ps. 73,
"The End of the Wicked contrasted with that of the Righteous."
words of holy trust, breathed by the friendly old man, stole like sacred music
over the harassed and chafed spirit of George; and after he ceased, he sat with
a gentle and subdued expression on his fine features.
"If this world were all,
George," said Simeon, "thee might, indeed, ask where is the Lord?
But it is often those who have least of all in this life whom he chooseth
for the kingdom. Put thy trust in
him and, no matter what befalls thee here, he will make all right
If these words had been spoken by some
easy, self-indulgent exhorter, from whose mouth they might have come merely as
pious and rhetorical flourish, proper to be used to people in distress, perhaps
they might not have had much effect; but coming from one who daily and calmly
risked fine and imprisonment for the cause of God and man, they had a weight
that could not but be felt, and both the poor, desolate fugitives found calmness
and strength breathing into them from it.
And now Rachel took Eliza's hand kindly,
and led the way to the supper-table. As
they were sitting down, a light tap sounded at the door, and Ruth entered.
"I just ran in," she said,
"with these little stockings for the boy,--three pair, nice, warm woollen
ones. It will be so cold, thee
knows, in Canada. Does thee keep up
good courage, Eliza?" she added, tripping round to Eliza's side of the
table, and shaking her warmly by the hand, and slipping a seed-cake into Harry's
hand. "I brought a little
parcel of these for him," she said, tugging at her pocket to get out the
package. "Children, thee
knows, will always be eating."
"O, thank you; you are too
kind," said Eliza.
"Come, Ruth, sit down to
supper," said Rachel.
"I couldn't, any way.
I left John with the baby, and some biscuits in the oven; and I can't
stay a moment, else John will burn up all the biscuits, and give the baby all
the sugar in the bowl. That's the
way he does," said the little Quakeress, laughing.
"So, good-by, Eliza; good-by, George; the Lord grant thee a safe
journey;" and, with a few tripping steps, Ruth was out of the apartment.
A little while after supper, a large
covered-wagon drew up before the door; the night was clear starlight; and
Phineas jumped briskly down from his seat to arrange his passengers.
George walked out of the door, with his child on one arm and his wife on
the other. His step was firm, his
face settled and resolute. Rachel
and Simeon came out after them.
"You get out, a moment," said
Phineas to those inside, "and let me fix the back of the wagon, there, for
the women-folks and the boy."
"Here are the two buffaloes,"
said Rachel. "Make the seats
as comfortable as may be; it's hard riding all night."
Jim came out first, and carefully
assisted out his old mother, who clung to his arm, and looked anxiously about,
as if she expected the pursuer every moment.
"Jim, are your pistols all in
order?" said George, in a low, firm voice.
"Yes, indeed," said Jim.
"And you've no doubt what you shall
do, if they come?"
"I rather think I haven't,"
said Jim, throwing open his broad chest, and taking a deep breath.
"Do you think I'll let them get mother again?"
During this brief colloquy, Eliza had
been taking her leave of her kind friend, Rachel, and was handed into the
carriage by Simeon, and, creeping into the back part with her boy, sat down
among the buffalo-skins. The old
woman was next handed in and seated and George and Jim placed on a rough board
seat front of them, and Phineas mounted in front.
"Farewell, my friends," said
Simeon, from without.
"God bless you!" answered all
And the wagon drove off, rattling and
jolting over the frozen road.
There was no opportunity for
conversation, on account of the roughness of the way and the noise of the
wheels. The vehicle, therefore,
rumbled on, through long, dark stretches of woodland,--over wide dreary
plains,--up hills, and down valleys,--and on, on, on they jogged, hour after
hour. The child soon fell asleep,
and lay heavily in his mother's lap. The
poor, frightened old woman at last forgot her fears; and, even Eliza, as the
night waned, found all her anxieties insufficient to keep her eyes from closing.
Phineas seemed, on the whole, the briskest of the company, and beguiled
his long drive with whistling certain very unquaker-like songs, as he went on.
But about three o'clock George's ear
caught the hasty and decided click of a horse's hoof coming behind them at some
distance and jogged Phineas by the elbow. Phineas
pulled up his horses, and listened.
"That must be Michael," he
said; "I think I know the sound of his gallop;" and he rose up and
stretched his head anxiously back over the road.
A man riding in hot haste was now dimly
descried at the top of a distant hill.
"There he is, I do believe!"
said Phineas. George and Jim both
sprang out of the wagon before they knew what they were doing. All stood intensely silent, with their faces turned towards
the expected messenger. On he came.
Now he went down into a valley, where they could not see him; but they
heard the sharp, hasty tramp, rising nearer and nearer; at last they saw him
emerge on the top of an eminence, within hail.
"Yes, that's Michael!" said
Phineas; and, raising his voice, "Halloa, there, Michael!"
"Phineas! is that thee?"
"Yes; what news--they coming?"
"Right on behind, eight or ten of
them, hot with brandy, swearing and foaming like so many wolves."
And, just as he spoke, a breeze brought
the faint sound of galloping horsemen towards them.
"In with you,--quick, boys,
_in!_" said Phineas. "If
you must fight, wait till I get you a piece ahead." And, with the word, both jumped in, and Phineas lashed the
horses to a run, the horseman keeping close beside them. The wagon rattled, jumped, almost flew, over the frozen
ground; but plainer, and still plainer, came the noise of pursuing horsemen
behind. The women heard it, and,
looking anxiously out, saw, far in the rear, on the brow of a distant hill, a
party of men looming up against the red-streaked sky of early dawn.
Another hill, and their pursuers had evidently caught sight of their
wagon, whose white cloth-covered top made it conspicuous at some distance, and a
loud yell of brutal triumph came forward on the wind.
Eliza sickened, and strained her child closer to her bosom; the old woman
prayed and groaned, and George and Jim clenched their pistols with the grasp of
despair. The pursuers gained on them fast; the carriage made a sudden
turn, and brought them near a ledge of a steep overhanging rock, that rose in an
isolated ridge or clump in a large lot, which was, all around it, quite clear
and smooth. This isolated pile, or
range of rocks, rose up black and heavy against the brightening sky, and seemed
to promise shelter and concealment. It
was a place well known to Phineas, who had been familiar with the spot in his
hunting days; and it was to gain this point he had been racing his horses.
"Now for it!" said he,
suddenly checking his horses, and springing from his seat to the ground.
"Out with you, in a twinkling, every one, and up into these rocks
with me. Michael, thee tie thy
horse to the wagon, and drive ahead to Amariah's and get him and his boys to
come back and talk to these fellows."
In a twinkling they were all out of the
"There," said Phineas,
catching up Harry, "you, each of you, see to the women; and run, _now_ if
you ever _did_ run!"
They needed no exhortation.
Quicker than we can say it, the whole party were over the fence, making
with all speed for the rocks, while Michael, throwing himself from his horse,
and fastening the bridle to the wagon, began driving it rapidly away.
"Come ahead," said Phineas, as
they reached the rocks, and saw in the mingled starlight and dawn, the traces of
a rude but plainly marked foot-path leading up among them; "this is one of
our old hunting-dens. Come
Phineas went before, springing up the
rocks like a goat, with the boy in his arms.
Jim came second, bearing his trembling old mother over his shoulder, and
George and Eliza brought up the rear. The
party of horsemen came up to the fence, and, with mingled shouts and oaths, were
dismounting, to prepare to follow them. A few moments' scrambling brought them to the top of the
ledge; the path then passed between a narrow defile, where only one could walk
at a time, till suddenly they came to a rift or chasm more than a yard in
breadth, and beyond which lay a pile of rocks, separate from the rest of the
ledge, standing full thirty feet high, with its sides steep and perpendicular as
those of a castle. Phineas easily
leaped the chasm, and sat down the boy on a smooth, flat platform of crisp white
moss, that covered the top of the rock.
"Over with you!" he called;
"spring, now, once, for your lives!" said he, as one after another
sprang across. Several fragments of
loose stone formed a kind of breast-work, which sheltered their position from
the observation of those below.
"Well, here we all are," said
Phineas, peeping over the stone breast-work to watch the assailants, who were
coming tumultuously up under the rocks. "Let
'em get us, if they can. Whoever
comes here has to walk single file between those two rocks, in fair range of
your pistols, boys, d'ye see?"
"I do see," said George!
"and now, as this matter is ours, let us take all the risk, and do all the
"Thee's quite welcome to do the
fighting, George," said Phineas, chewing some checkerberry-leaves as he
spoke; "but I may have the fun of looking on, I suppose.
But see, these fellows are kinder debating down there, and looking up,
like hens when they are going to fly up on to the roost.
Hadn't thee better give 'em a word of advice, before they come up, just
to tell 'em handsomely they'll be shot if they do?"
The party beneath, now more apparent in
the light of the dawn, consisted of our old acquaintances, Tom Loker and Marks,
with two constables, and a posse consisting of such rowdies at the last tavern
as could be engaged by a little brandy to go and help the fun of trapping a set
"Well, Tom, yer coons are farly
treed," said one.
"Yes, I see 'em go up right
here," said Tom; "and here's a path.
I'm for going right up. They
can't jump down in a hurry, and it won't take long to ferret 'em out."
"But, Tom, they might fire at us
from behind the rocks," said Marks. "That
would be ugly, you know."
"Ugh!" said Tom, with a sneer.
"Always for saving your skin, Marks!
No danger! niggers are too plaguy scared!"
"I don't know why I _shouldn't_
save my skin," said Marks. "It's
the best I've got; and niggers _do_ fight like the devil, sometimes."
At this moment, George appeared on the
top of a rock above them, and, speaking in a calm, clear voice, said,
"Gentlemen, who are you, down
there, and what do you want?"
"We want a party of runaway
niggers," said Tom Loker. "One
George Harris, and Eliza Harris, and their son, and Jim Selden, and an old
woman. We've got the officers,
here, and a warrant to take 'em; and we're going to have 'em, too.
D'ye hear? An't you George
Harris, that belongs to Mr. Harris, of Shelby county, Kentucky?"
"I am George Harris.
A Mr. Harris, of Kentucky, did call me his property.
But now I'm a free man, standing on God's free soil; and my wife and my
child I claim as mine. Jim and his
mother are here. We have arms to
defend ourselves, and we mean to do it. You
can come up, if you like; but the first one of you that comes within the range
of our bullets is a dead man, and the next, and the next; and so on till the
"O, come! come!" said a short,
puffy man, stepping forward, and blowing his nose as he did so.
"Young man, this an't no kind of talk at all for you.
You see, we're officers of justice.
We've got the law on our side, and the power, and so forth; so you'd
better give up peaceably, you see; for you'll certainly have to give up, at
"I know very well that you've got
the law on your side, and the power," said George, bitterly.
"You mean to take my wife to sell in New Orleans, and put my boy
like a calf in a trader's pen, and send Jim's old mother to the brute that
whipped and abused her before, because he couldn't abuse her son.
You want to send Jim and me back to be whipped and tortured, and ground
down under the heels of them that you call masters; and your laws _will_ bear
you out in it,--more shame for you and them!
But you haven't got us. We
don't own your laws; we don't own your country; we stand here as free, under
God's sky, as you are; and, by the great God that made us, we'll fight for our
liberty till we die."
George stood out in fair sight, on the
top of the rock, as he made his declaration of independence; the glow of dawn
gave a flush to his swarthy cheek, and bitter indignation and despair gave fire
to his dark eye; and, as if appealing from man to the justice of God, he raised
his hand to heaven as he spoke.
If it had been only a Hungarian youth,
now bravely defending in some mountain fastness the retreat of fugitives
escaping from Austria into America, this would have been sublime heroism; but as
it was a youth of African descent, defending the retreat of fugitives through
America into Canada, of course we are too well instructed and patriotic to see
any heroism in it; and if any of our readers do, they must do it on their own
private responsibility. When
despairing Hungarian fugitives make their way, against all the search-warrants
and authorities of their lawful government, to America, press and political
cabinet ring with applause and welcome. When
despairing African fugitives do the same thing,--it is--what _is_ it?
Be it as it may, it is certain that the
attitude, eye, voice, manner, of the speaker for a moment struck the party below
to silence. There is something in
boldness and determination that for a time hushes even the rudest nature.
Marks was the only one who remained wholly untouched.
He was deliberately cocking his pistol, and, in the momentary silence
that followed George's speech, he fired at him.
"Ye see ye get jist as much for him
dead as alive in Kentucky," he said coolly, as he wiped his pistol on his
George sprang backward,--Eliza uttered a
shriek,--the ball had passed close to his hair, had nearly grazed the cheek of
his wife, and struck in the tree above.
"It's nothing, Eliza," said
"Thee'd better keep out of sight,
with thy speechifying," said Phineas; "they're mean scamps."
"Now, Jim," said George,
"look that your pistols are all right, and watch that pass with me.
The first man that shows himself I fire at; you take the second, and so
on. It won't do, you know, to waste
two shots on one."
"But what if you don't hit?"
"I _shall_ hit," said George,
"Good! now, there's stuff in that
fellow," muttered Phineas, between his teeth.
The party below, after Marks had fired,
stood, for a moment, rather undecided.
"I think you must have hit some on
'em," said one of the men. "I
heard a squeal!"
"I'm going right up for one,"
said Tom. "I never was afraid
of niggers, and I an't going to be now. Who
goes after?" he said, springing up the rocks.
George heard the words distinctly.
He drew up his pistol, examined it, pointed it towards that point in the
defile where the first man would appear.
One of the most courageous of the party
followed Tom, and, the way being thus made, the whole party began pushing up the
rock,--the hindermost pushing the front ones faster than they would have gone of
themselves. On they came, and in a
moment the burly form of Tom appeared in sight, almost at the verge of the
George fired,--the shot entered his
side,--but, though wounded, he would not retreat, but, with a yell like that of
a mad bull, he was leaping right across the chasm into the party.
"Friend," said Phineas,
suddenly stepping to the front, and meeting him with a push from his long arms,
"thee isn't wanted here."
Down he fell into the chasm, crackling
down among trees, bushes, logs, loose stones, till he lay bruised and groaning
thirty feet below. The fall might
have killed him, had it not been broken and moderated by his clothes catching in
the branches of a large tree; but he came down with some force, however,--more
than was at all agreeable or convenient.
"Lord help us, they are perfect
devils!" said Marks, heading the retreat down the rocks with much more of a
will than he had joined the ascent, while all the party came tumbling
precipitately after him,--the fat constable, in particular, blowing and puffing
in a very energetic manner.
"I say, fellers," said Marks,
"you jist go round and pick up Tom, there, while I run and get on to my
horse to go back for help,--that's you;" and, without minding the hootings
and jeers of his company, Marks was as good as his word, and was soon seen
"Was ever such a sneaking
varmint?" said one of the men; "to come on his business, and he clear
out and leave us this yer way!"
"Well, we must pick up that
feller," said another. "Cuss
me if I much care whether he is dead or alive."
The men, led by the groans of Tom,
scrambled and crackled through stumps, logs and bushes, to where that hero lay
groaning and swearing with alternate vehemence.
"Ye keep it agoing pretty loud,
Tom," said one. "Ye much
"Don't know. Get me up, can't ye? Blast
that infernal Quaker! If it hadn't
been for him, I'd a pitched some on 'em down here, to see how they liked
With much labor and groaning, the fallen
hero was assisted to rise; and, with one holding him up under each shoulder,
they got him as far as the horses.
"If you could only get me a mile
back to that ar tavern. Give me a
handkerchief or something, to stuff into this place, and stop this infernal
George looked over the rocks, and saw
them trying to lift the burly form of Tom into the saddle. After two or three ineffectual attempts, he reeled, and fell
heavily to the ground.
"O, I hope he isn't killed!"
said Eliza, who, with all the party, stood watching the proceeding.
"Why not?" said Phineas;
"serves him right."
"Because after death comes the
judgment," said Eliza.
"Yes," said the old woman, who
had been groaning and praying, in her Methodist fashion, during all the
encounter, "it's an awful case for the poor crittur's soul."
"On my word, they're leaving him, I
do believe," said Phineas.
It was true; for after some appearance
of irresolution and consultation, the whole party got on their horses and rode
away. When they were quite out of
sight, Phineas began to bestir himself.
"Well, we must go down and walk a
piece," he said. "I told
Michael to go forward and bring help, and be along back here with the wagon; but
we shall have to walk a piece along the road, I reckon, to meet them.
The Lord grant he be along soon! It's
early in the day; there won't be much travel afoot yet a while; we an't much
more than two miles from our stopping-place.
If the road hadn't been so rough last night, we could have outrun 'em
As the party neared the fence, they
discovered in the distance, along the road, their own wagon coming back,
accompanied by some men on horseback.
"Well, now, there's Michael, and
Stephen and Amariah," exclaimed Phineas, joyfully.
"Now we _are_ made--as safe as if we'd got there."
"Well, do stop, then," said
Eliza, "and do something for that poor man; he's groaning dreadfully."
"It would be no more than
Christian," said George; "let's take him up and carry him on."
"And doctor him up among the
Quakers!" said Phineas; "pretty well, that! Well, I don't care if we do.
Here, let's have a look at him;" and Phineas, who in the course of
his hunting and backwoods life had acquired some rude experience of surgery,
kneeled down by the wounded man, and began a careful examination of his
"Marks," said Tom, feebly,
"is that you, Marks?"
"No; I reckon 'tan't friend,"
said Phineas. "Much Marks
cares for thee, if his own skin's safe. He's
off, long ago."
"I believe I'm done for," said
Tom. "The cussed sneaking dog,
to leave me to die alone! My poor
old mother always told me 't would be so."
"La sakes! jist hear the poor
crittur. He's got a mammy,
now," said the old negress. "I
can't help kinder pityin' on him."
"Softly, softly; don't thee snap
and snarl, friend," said Phineas, as Tom winced and pushed his hand away.
"Thee has no chance, unless I stop the bleeding." And Phineas
busied himself with making some off-hand surgical arrangements with his own
pocket-handkerchief, and such as could be mustered in the company.
"You pushed me down there,"
said Tom, faintly.
"Well if I hadn't thee would have
pushed us down, thee sees," said Phineas, as he stooped to apply his
bandage. "There, there,--let
me fix this bandage. We mean well
to thee; we bear no malice. Thee
shall be taken to a house where they'll nurse thee first rate, well as thy own
Tom groaned, and shut his eyes.
In men of his class, vigor and resolution are entirely a physical matter,
and ooze out with the flowing of the blood; and the gigantic fellow really
looked piteous in his helplessness.
The other party now came up.
The seats were taken out of the wagon.
The buffalo-skins, doubled in fours, were spread all along one side, and
four men, with great difficulty, lifted the heavy form of Tom into it.
Before he was gotten in, he fainted entirely.
The old negress, in the abundance of her compassion, sat down on the
bottom, and took his head in her lap. Eliza,
George and Jim, bestowed themselves, as well as they could, in the remaining
space and the whole party set forward.
"What do you think of him?"
said George, who sat by Phineas in front.
"Well it's only a pretty deep
flesh-wound; but, then, tumbling and scratching down that place didn't help him
much. It has bled pretty
freely,--pretty much dreaned him out, courage and all,--but he'll get over it,
and may be learn a thing or two by it."
"I'm glad to hear you say so,"
said George. "It would always
be a heavy thought to me, if I'd caused his death, even in a just cause."
"Yes," said Phineas,
"killing is an ugly operation, any way they'll fix it,--man or beast.
I've seen a buck that was shot down and a dying, look that way on a
feller with his eye, that it reely most made a feller feel wicked for killing on
him; and human creatures is a more serious consideration yet, bein', as thy wife
says, that the judgment comes to 'em after death.
So I don't know as our people's notions on these matters is too strict;
and, considerin' how I was raised, I fell in with them pretty
"What shall you do with this poor
fellow?" said George.
"O, carry him along to Amariah's.
There's old Grandmam Stephens there,--Dorcas, they call her,--she's most
an amazin' nurse. She takes to
nursing real natural, and an't never better suited than when she gets a sick
body to tend. We may reckon on turning him over to her for a fortnight or
A ride of about an hour more brought the
party to a neat farmhouse, where the weary travellers were received to an
abundant breakfast. Tom Loker was
soon carefully deposited in a much cleaner and softer bed than he had, ever been
in the habit of occupying. His
wound was carefully dressed and bandaged, and he lay languidly opening and
shutting his eyes on the white window-curtains and gently-gliding figures of his
sick room, like a weary child. And
here, for the present, we shall take our leave of one party.