rest of our story is soon told. George
Shelby, interested, as any other young man might be, by the romance of the
incident, no less than by feelings of humanity, was at the pains to send to
Cassy the bill of sale of Eliza; whose date and name all corresponded with her
own knowledge of facts, and felt no doubt upon her mind as to the identity of
her child. It remained now only for
her to trace out the path of the fugitives.
Madame de Thoux and she, thus drawn
together by the singular coincidence of their fortunes, proceeded immediately to
Canada, and began a tour of inquiry among the stations, where the numerous
fugitives from slavery are located. At
Amherstberg they found the missionary with whom George and Eliza had taken
shelter, on their first arrival in Canada; and through him were enabled to trace
the family to Montreal.
George and Eliza had now been five years
free. George had found constant
occupation in the shop of a worthy machinist, where he had been earning a
competent support for his family, which, in the mean time, had been increased by
the addition of another daughter.
Little Harry--a fine bright boy--had
been put to a good school, and was making rapid proficiency in knowledge.
The worthy pastor of the station, in
Amherstberg, where George had first landed, was so much interested in the
statements of Madame de Thoux and Cassy, that he yielded to the solicitations of
the former, to accompany them to Montreal, in their search,--she bearing all the
expense of the expedition.
The scene now changes to a small, neat
tenement, in the outskirts of Montreal; the time, evening.
A cheerful fire blazes on the hearth; a tea-table, covered with a snowy
cloth, stands prepared for the evening meal.
In one corner of the room was a table covered with a green cloth, where
was an open writing-desk, pens, paper, and over it a shelf of well-selected
This was George's study.
The same zeal for self-improvement, which led him to steal the much
coveted arts of reading and writing, amid all the toil and discouragements of
his early life, still led him to devote all his leisure time to
At this present time, he is seated at
the table, making notes from a volume of the family library he has been reading.
"Come, George," says Eliza,
"you've been gone all day. Do
put down that book, and let's talk, while I'm getting tea,--do."
And little Eliza seconds the effort, by
toddling up to her father, and trying to pull the book out of his hand, and
install herself on his knee as a substitute.
"O, you little witch!" says
George, yielding, as, in such circumstances, man always must.
"That's right," says Eliza, as
she begins to cut a loaf of bread. A
little older she looks; her form a little fuller; her air more matronly than of
yore; but evidently contented and happy as woman need be.
"Harry, my boy, how did you come on
in that sum, today?" says George, as he laid his land on his son's head.
Harry has lost his long curls; but he
can never lose those eyes and eyelashes, and that fine, bold brow, that flushes
with triumph, as he answers, "I did it, every bit of it, _myself_, father;
and _nobody_ helped me!"
"That's right," says his
father; "depend on yourself, my son. You
have a better chance than ever your poor father had."
At this moment, there is a rap at the
door; and Eliza goes and opens it. The
delighted--"Why! this you?"--calls up her husband; and the good pastor
of Amherstberg is welcomed. There
are two more women with him, and Eliza asks them to sit down.
Now, if the truth must be told, the
honest pastor had arranged a little programme, according to which this affair
was to develop itself; and, on the way up, all had very cautiously and prudently
exhorted each other not to let things out, except according to previous
What was the good man's consternation,
therefore, just as he had motioned to the ladies to be seated, and was taking
out his pocket-handkerchief to wipe his mouth, so as to proceed to his
introductory speech in good order, when Madame de Thoux upset the whole plan, by
throwing her arms around George's neck, and letting all out at once, by saying,
"O, George! don't you know me? I'm
your sister Emily."
Cassy had seated herself more
composedly, and would have carried on her part very well, had not little Eliza
suddenly appeared before her in exact shape and form, every outline and curl,
just as her daughter was when she saw her last.
The little thing peered up in her face; and Cassy caught her up in her
arms, pressed her to her bosom, saying, what, at the moment she really believed,
"Darling, I'm your mother!"
In fact, it was a troublesome matter to
do up exactly in proper order; but the good pastor, at last, succeeded in
getting everybody quiet, and delivering the speech with which he had intended to
open the exercises; and in which, at last, he succeeded so well, that his whole
audience were sobbing about him in a manner that ought to satisfy any orator,
ancient or modern.
They knelt together, and the good man
prayed,--for there are some feelings so agitated and tumultuous, that they can
find rest only by being poured into the bosom of Almighty love,--and then,
rising up, the new-found family embraced each other, with a holy trust in Him,
who from such peril and dangers, and by such unknown ways, had brought them
The note-book of a missionary, among the
Canadian fugitives, contains truth stranger than fiction.
How can it be otherwise, when a system prevails which whirls families and
scatters their members, as the wind whirls and scatters the leaves of autumn?
These shores of refuge, like the eternal shore, often unite again, in
glad communion, hearts that for long years have mourned each other as lost.
And affecting beyond expression is the earnestness with which every new
arrival among them is met, if, perchance, it may bring tidings of mother,
sister, child or wife, still lost to view in the shadows of slavery.
Deeds of heroism are wrought here more
than those of romance, when defying torture, and braving death itself, the
fugitive voluntarily threads his way back to the terrors and perils of that dark
land, that he may bring out his sister, or mother, or wife.
One young man, of whom a missionary has
told us, twice re-captured, and suffering shameful stripes for his heroism, had
escaped again; and, in a letter which we heard read, tells his friends that he
is going back a third time, that he may, at last, bring away his sister.
My good sir, is this man a hero, or a criminal?
Would not you do as much for your sister?
And can you blame him?
But, to return to our friends, whom we
left wiping their eyes, and recovering themselves from too great and sudden a
joy. They are now seated around the
social board, and are getting decidedly companionable; only that Cassy, who
keeps little Eliza on her lap, occasionally squeezes the little thing, in a
manner that rather astonishes her, and obstinately refuses to have her mouth
stuffed with cake to the extent the little one desires,--alleging, what the
child rather wonders at, that she has got something better than cake, and
doesn't want it.
And, indeed, in two or three days, such
a change has passed over Cassy, that our readers would scarcely know her.
The despairing, haggard expression of her face had given way to one of
gentle trust. She seemed to sink,
at once, into the bosom of the family, and take the little ones into her heart,
as something for which it long had waited.
Indeed, her love seemed to flow more naturally to the little Eliza than
to her own daughter; for she was the exact image and body of the child whom she
had lost. The little one was a
flowery bond between mother and daughter, through whom grew up acquaintanceship
and affection. Eliza's steady,
consistent piety, regulated by the constant reading of the sacred word, made her
a proper guide for the shattered and wearied mind of her mother.
Cassy yielded at once, and with her whole soul, to every good influence,
and became a devout and tender Christian.
After a day or two, Madame de Thoux told
her brother more particularly of her affairs.
The death of her husband had left her an ample fortune, which she
generously offered to share with the family.
When she asked George what way she could best apply it for him, he
answered, "Give me an education, Emily; that has always been my heart's
desire. Then, I can do all the
On mature deliberation, it was decided
that the whole family should go, for some years, to France; whither they sailed,
carrying Emmeline with them.
The good looks of the latter won the
affection of the first mate of the vessel; and, shortly after entering
the port, she became his wife.
George remained four years at a French
university, and, applying himself with an unintermitted zeal, obtained a very
Political troubles in France, at last,
led the family again to seek an asylum in this country.
George's feelings and views, as an
educated man, may be best expressed in a letter to one of his friends.
"I feel somewhat at a loss, as to
my future course. True, as you have
said to me, I might mingle in the circles of the whites, in this country, my
shade of color is so slight, and that of my wife and family scarce perceptible.
Well, perhaps, on sufferance, I might.
But, to tell you the truth, I have no wish to.
"My sympathies are not for my
father's race, but for my mother's. To
him I was no more than a fine dog or horse: to my poor heart-broken mother I was
a _child_; and, though I never saw her, after the cruel sale that separated us,
till she died, yet I _know_ she always loved me dearly.
I know it by my own heart. When
I think of all she suffered, of my own early sufferings, of the distresses and
struggles of my heroic wife, of my sister, sold in the New Orleans
slave-market,--though I hope to have no unchristian sentiments, yet I may be
excused for saying, I have no wish to pass for an American, or to identify
myself with them.
"It is with the oppressed, enslaved
African race that I cast in my lot; and, if I wished anything, I would wish
myself two shades darker, rather than one lighter.
"The desire and yearning of my soul
is for an African _nationality_. I
want a people that shall have a tangible, separate existence of its own; and
where am I to look for it? Not in
Hayti; for in Hayti they had nothing to start with.
A stream cannot rise above its fountain.
The race that formed the character of the Haytiens was a worn-out,
effeminate one; and, of course, the subject race will be centuries in rising to
"Where, then, shall I look?
On the shores of Africa I see a republic,--a republic formed of picked
men, who, by energy and self-educating force, have, in many cases, individually,
raised themselves above a condition of slavery.
Having gone through a preparatory stage of feebleness, this republic has,
at last, become an acknowledged nation on the face of the earth,--acknowledged
by both France and England. There
it is my wish to go, and find myself a people.
"I am aware, now, that I shall have
you all against me; but, before you strike, hear me. During my stay in France, I have followed up, with intense
interest, the history of my people in America.
I have noted the struggle between abolitionist and colonizationist, and
have received some impressions, as a distant spectator, which could never have
occurred to me as a participator.
"I grant that this Liberia may have
subserved all sorts of purposes, by being played off, in the hands of our
oppressors, against us. Doubtless
the scheme may have been used, in unjustifiable ways, as a means of retarding
our emancipation. But the question
to me is, Is there not a God above all man's schemes? May He not have over-ruled their designs, and founded for us
a nation by them?
"In these days, a nation is born in
a day. A nation starts, now, with
all the great problems of republican life and civilization wrought out to its
hand;--it has not to discover, but only to apply.
Let us, then, all take hold together, with all our might, and see what we
can do with this new enterprise, and the whole splendid continent of Africa
opens before us and our children. _Our
nation_ shall roll the tide of civilization and Christianity along its shores,
and plant there mighty republics, that, growing with the rapidity of tropical
vegetation, shall be for all coming ages.
"Do you say that I am deserting my
enslaved brethren? I think not.
If I forget them one hour, one moment of my life, so may God forget me!
But, what can I do for them, here? Can
I break their chains? No, not as an
individual; but, let me go and form part of a nation, which shall have a voice
in the councils of nations, and then we can speak.
A nation has a right to argue, remonstrate, implore, and present the
cause of its race,--which an individual has not.
"If Europe ever becomes a grand
council of free nations,--as I trust in God it will,--if, there, serfdom, and
all unjust and oppressive social inequalities, are done away; and if they, as
France and England have done, acknowledge our position,--then, in the great
congress of nations, we will make our appeal, and present the cause of our
enslaved and suffering race; and it cannot be that free, enlightened America
will not then desire to wipe from her escutcheon that bar sinister which
disgraces her among nations, and is as truly a curse to her as to the enslaved.
"But, you will tell me, our race
have equal rights to mingle in the American republic as the Irishman, the
German, the Swede. Granted, they
have. We _ought_ to be free to meet
and mingle,--to rise by our individual worth, without any consideration of caste
or color; and they who deny us this right are false to their own professed
principles of human equality. We
ought, in particular, to be allowed _here_.
We have _more_ than the rights of common men;--we have the claim of an
injured race for reparation. But,
then, _I do not want it_; I want a country, a nation, of my own. I think that the African race has peculiarities, yet to be
unfolded in the light of civilization and Christianity, which, if not the same
with those of the Anglo-Saxon, may prove to be, morally, of even a higher type.
"To the Anglo-Saxon race has been
intrusted the destinies of the world, during its pioneer period of struggle and
conflict. To that mission its
stern, inflexible, energetic elements, were well adapted; but, as a Christian, I
look for another era to arise. On
its borders I trust we stand; and the throes that now convulse the nations are,
to my hope, but the birth-pangs of an hour of universal peace and brotherhood.
"I trust that the development of
Africa is to be essentially a Christian one.
If not a dominant and commanding race, they are, at least, an
affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one.
Having been called in the furnace of injustice and oppression, they have
need to bind closer to their hearts that sublime doctrine of love and
forgiveness, through which alone they are to conquer, which it is to be their
mission to spread over the continent of Africa.
"In myself, I confess, I am feeble
for this,--full half the blood in my veins is the hot and hasty Saxon; but I
have an eloquent preacher of the Gospel ever by my side, in the person of my
beautiful wife. When I wander, her
gentler spirit ever restores me, and keeps before my eyes the Christian calling
and mission of our race. As a
Christian patriot, as a teacher of Christianity, I go to _my country_,--my
chosen, my glorious Africa!--and to her, in my heart, I sometimes apply those
splendid words of prophecy: `Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that
no man went through thee; _I_ will make thee an eternal excellence, a joy of
"You will call me an enthusiast:
you will tell me that I have not well considered what I am undertaking.
But I have considered, and counted the cost.
I go to _Liberia_, not as an Elysium of romance, but as to _a field of
work_. I expect to work with both hands,--to work _hard_; to work
against all sorts of difficulties and discouragements; and to work till I die.
This is what I go for; and in this I am quite sure I shall not be
"Whatever you may think of my
determination, do not divorce me from your confidence; and think that, in
whatever I do, I act with a heart wholly given to my people.
George, with his wife, children, sister and mother, embarked
for Africa, some few weeks after. If
we are not mistaken, the world will yet hear from him there.
Of our other characters we have nothing
very particular to write, except a word relating to Miss Ophelia and Topsy, and
a farewell chapter, which we shall dedicate to George Shelby.
Miss Ophelia took Topsy home to Vermont
with her, much to the surprise of the grave deliberative body whom a New
Englander recognizes under the term "_Our folks_."
"Our folks," at first, thought it an odd and unnecessary
addition to their well-trained domestic establishment; but, so thoroughly
efficient was Miss Ophelia in her conscientious endeavor to do her duty by her
eleve, that the child rapidly grew in grace and in favor with the family and
neighborhood. At the age of
womanhood, she was, by her own request, baptized, and became a member of the
Christian church in the place; and showed so much intelligence, activity and
zeal, and desire to do good in the world, that she was at last recommended, and
approved as a missionary to one of the stations in Africa; and we have heard
that the same activity and ingenuity which, when a child, made her so multiform
and restless in her developments, is now employed, in a safer and wholesomer
manner, in teaching the children of her own country.
P.S.--It will be a satisfaction to some
mother, also, to state, that some inquiries, which were set on foot by Madame de
Thoux, have resulted recently in the discovery of Cassy's son.
Being a young man of energy, he had escaped, some years before his
mother, and been received and educated by friends of the oppressed in the north.
He will soon follow his family to Africa.