WATCH AND WAIT.
BOSTON. LEE & SHEPARD.
WATCH AND WAIT;
THE YOUNG FUGITIVES.
A Story for Young People.
AUTHOR OF "THE BOAT CLUB," "ALL ABOARD," "NOW OR NEVER," "TRY AGAIN," "POOR AND PROUD," "LITTLE BY LITTLE," "RICH AND HUMBLE," "IN SCHOOL AND OUT," "THE SOLDIER BOY," "THE RIVERDALE STORY BOOKS," ETC.
BOSTON: LEE AND SHEPARD, (SUCCESSORS TO PHILLIPS, SAMPSON & CO.) 1868.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by WILLIAM T. ADAMS, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
ELECTROTYPED AT THE BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY, 4 Spring Lane.
WALTER F. POPE
IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
BY HIS UNCLE.
THE WOODVILLE STORIES.
IN SIX VOLUMES.
LIBRARY FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.
BY OLIVER OPTIC.
1. RICH AND HUMBLE.
2. IN SCHOOL AND OUT.
3. WATCH AND WAIT.
4. WORK AND WIN.
5. HOPE AND HAVE.
6. HASTE AND WASTE.
However much the author of "WATCH AND WAIT" may sympathize with that portion of the population of our country to which the principal characters of the story belong, he is forced to acknowledge that his book was not written in the interests of the anti-slavery cause. His young friends require stirring incidents of him, and the inviting field of adventure presented by the topic he has chosen was the moving spring which brought the work into existence; and if the story shall kindle any new emotion of sympathy for the oppressed and enslaved, it will have more than answered the purpose for which it was intended, and the writer will be all the more thankful for this happy influence.
As a story of exciting adventure, the writer hopes it will satisfy all his young readers; that they will love the gentle Lily, respect the manly independence of Dan, and smile at the oddities of Cyd; and that the book will confirm and increase their love of liberty and their hatred of tyranny. If the young fugitives were resolute, even to shedding the blood of the slave-hunter, they had forgiving and Christian hearts, in which there was neither malice nor revenge; and in this respect, if in no other, they are worthy exemplars for the young and the old.
With this explanation, I give the third volume of the Woodville Stories into the hands of my young friends, bespeaking for it the same favor which has been bestowed upon its predecessors.
WILLIAM T. ADAMS.
DORCHESTER, August 15, 1864.
CHAP. I.—The Plantation of Redlawn 11
CHAP. II.—The Edith goes down to Green Point 21
CHAP. III.—Master Archy receives an Unlucky Blow 31
CHAP. IV.—Dandy determines to "watch and wait." 41
CHAP. V.—The Tragedy at the "Dead Oak." 51
CHAP. VI.—A Vision of the Promised Land 62
CHAP. VII.—The Isabel is prepared for a Cruise 73
CHAP. VIII.—The Departure of the Young Fugitives 84
CHAP. IX.—The Fugitives reach Lake Chicot 95
CHAP. X.—Breakfast on board the Isabel 107
CHAP. XI.—The Bay of the Bloodhounds 117
CHAP. XII.—Quin, the Runaway 128
CHAP. XIII.—The Night Chase on the Lake 139
CHAP. XIV.—The Battle for Freedom 152
CHAP. XV.—The Fate of the Slave-Hunters 164
CHAP. XVI.—In the Swamp 176
CHAP. XVII.—Cyd has a Bad Fit 187
CHAP. XVIII.—The Affray on the Lake 199
CHAP. XIX.—Lily on the Watch 211
CHAP. XX.—Preparing for the Voyage 220
CHAP. XXI.—Down the Lake 229
CHAP. XXII.—The Isabel runs the Gantlet 241
CHAP. XXIII.—Colonel Raybone changes his Tone 252
CHAP. XXIV.—The Young Fugitives make a Harbor 264
WATCH AND WAIT.
WATCH AND WAIT;
THE YOUNG FUGITIVES.
THE PLANTATION OF REDLAWN.
One soft summer evening, when Woodville was crowned with the glory and beauty of the joyous season, three strangers presented themselves before the Grant family, and asked for counsel and assistance. The party consisted of two boys and a girl, and they belonged to that people which the traditions of the past have made the "despised race;" but the girl was whiter and fairer than many a proud belle who would have scorned her in any other capacity than that of a servant; and one of the boys was very nearly white, while the other was as black as ebony undefiled. They were fugitives and wanderers from the far south-west; and the story which they told to Mr. Grant and his happy family will form the substance of this volume.
* * * * *
The plantation of Colonel Baylie Raybone was situated on one of the numerous bayous which form a complete network of water communications in the western part of the parish of Iberville, in the State of Louisiana. The "colonel," whose military title was only a courtesy accorded to his distinguished position, was a man of immense possessions, and consequently of large influence. His acres and his negroes were numbered by thousands, and he was largely engaged in growing sugar and rice. The estate on which he resided went by the name of Redlawn. His mansion was palatial in its dimensions, and was furnished in a style of regal magnificence.
The region in which Redlawn was situated was a low country, subject to inundation in the season of high water. The sugar plantation was located on a belt of land not more than a mile in width, upon the border of the bayou, which, contrary to the usual law, was higher ground than portions farther from the river. The lower lands were used for the culture of rice, which, our young readers know, must be submerged during a part of the year.
A short distance from the splendid mansion of the princely planter was a large village of negro huts, where the "people" of the estate resided. As Colonel Raybone was a liberal and progressive man, the houses of the negroes were far superior to those found upon many of the plantations of the South. They were well built, neatly white-washed, and no doubt the negroes who dwelt in them regarded it as a fortunate circumstance that they were the slaves of Colonel Raybone.
Along the front of the negro hamlet, and of the mansion house, ran the public highway, while in the rear of them, and at a distance of nearly half a mile, was the bayou, which was generally called the "Crosscut," because it joined two larger rivers. At the foot of a gravel walk, leading from the mansion down to the bayou, was a pier, upon which was built a tasty summer house, after the style of a Chinese pagoda, so that the planter and his family could enjoy the soft breezes that swept over the surface of the stream. There they spent many of their summer evenings; and truly it was a delightful place.
Fastened to the pier were several small boats, including a light wherry, and a four-oar race boat. Moored in the middle of the stream lay a large sail boat, in which the planter often made long trips for pleasure; for, by the network of rivers with which the bayou was connected, he could explore a vast tract of country, and even reach the Red River on the north, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south.
The family that dwelt in the "great house," as the negroes called the mansion, were Colonel Raybone, his wife, and two children. The planter himself was a genial, pleasant man, when nothing disturbed him; but he was quick and impulsive, and exacted the homage due to his position from his inferiors. Mrs. Raybone was an easy, indolent woman, who would submit to injury rather than endure the effort required to redress it.
Master Archibald Raybone, his older child, was a youth of fifteen, and was as much like his father as Miss Edith, a young lady of fourteen, was like her mother. Archy, as he was familiarly called by black and white, was fond of having his own way; and, as long as it did not conflict with that of his imperious father, he was indulged to the fullest extent. Miss Edith was fond of repose, and could not even speak French or play upon the piano, because it was too much trouble to obtain these accomplishments, though private tutors had labored sedulously for several years to meet the exigencies of the case.
Besides those who were properly members of the family, there was a small army of servants, ranging from the purest white to the blackest black; all slaves, of course. There were cooks, laundresses, waiters, valets, lackeys, coachmen, body-servants, and lady's-maids; every kind of servitor which ingenuity could devise or luxury demand. Master Archy had a body-servant, and Miss Edith had a lady's-maid. As these individuals are important personages in our story, we must give our young friends a better idea of who and what they were.
The body-servant of the son and heir was a youth of sixteen. He was nearly white, his complexion being very slightly tinted with the yellow hue of the mulatto. He was tall of his age, and exceedingly well formed. As the servant and companion of Master Archy, of course it was necessary that he should make a good appearance; and he was always well dressed, and managed his apparel with singularly good taste and skill. His name was Daniel; but his graceful form and excellent taste in dress had caused his name to be corrupted from "Dan," by which short appellative he had formerly been called, into "Dandy," and this was now the only name by which he was known on the plantation.
Dandy was a boy of good parts. He could read and write, and had a better understanding of the ordinary branches of knowledge than his young master, for Archy was always attended by his body-servant when engaged in his studies. Though no efforts had been wasted upon the "chattel," he had learned the lessons better than the son and heir, upon whose education a small fortune had been lavished. Dandy was quick to see and comprehend what Archy had to have explained to him over and over again. Though the slave was prudent enough to conceal his attainments, he was wise enough to profit by the opportunities which were afforded to him. In the solitude of his chamber, while his young master slept, he diligently used the books he had privately secured for study. And the instructions of the tutor were not wasted upon him, though he often seemed to be asleep during the lessons. He listened and remembered; he pondered and reasoned.
Dandy's mother was dead. She had been a house servant of Colonel Raybone. It was said that she had become refractory, and had been sold in New Orleans; but the son had only a faint remembrance of her. Of his father he knew nothing. Though he had often asked about him, he could obtain no information. If the people in the house knew any thing of him, they would not tell the inquisitive son. Such was Dandy, the body-servant of Master Archy. He led an easy life, having no other occupation than that of pleasing the lordly young heir of Redlawn.
Miss Edith's lady's-maid was whiter and fairer than her young mistress. The keenest observer could detect no negro characteristic in her looks or her manner. So fair and white was she, that her mistress had given her the name of "Lily." And yet she was a slave, and that which made her fascinating to the eye had given her a value which could be estimated only in thousands of dollars. Of her father and mother Lily knew nothing. One of her companions in bondage told her that she had been bought, when a child, on board of a Red River steamboat. That was all she knew, and all she ever was to know. Those who are familiar with the slave system of the South can surmise who and what she was.
Miss Edith was indolent, but she was sour and petulant, and poor Lily's daily life was not a bed of roses. All day long she had to stand by her exacting young mistress, obey her slightest gesture, and humor all her whims. Though she was highly valued as a piece of property by her owner, she had only one real friend in the wide world—a cold, desolate, and dreary world to her, though her lot was cast in the midst of the sweet flowers and bright skies of the sunny south—only one friend, and that was Dandy. He knew how hard it was to indulge all the caprices of a wayward child; how hard it was to be spurned and insulted by one who was his inferior in mind and heart.
Dandy had another friend, though the richest treasures of his friendship were bestowed upon the fair and gentle Lily. A wild, rollicking, careless piece of ebony, a pure negro, was his other friend. He was a stable boy, and one of the crew who pulled the four-oar race boat, when Master Archy chose to indulge in an excursion upon the water. His master, who in his early years had made the acquaintance of the classics, had facetiously named him Thucydides—a long, hard word, which no negro would attempt to utter, and which the white folks were too indolent to manage. The name, therefore, had been suitably contracted, and this grinning essence of fun and frolic was called "Cyd"—with no reference, however, to the distinguished character of Spanish history. But Cyd was a character himself, and had no need to borrow any of the lustre of Spain or Greece. He shone upon his own account.
With this introduction to Redlawn, and those who lived there, our readers are prepared to embark with us in the story of the young fugitives.
THE EDITH GOES DOWN TO GREEN POINT.
"Shove off!" said Master Archy, in the most dignified manner, as he sunk upon the velvet cushions in the stern sheets of the four-oar boat.
"Shove off!" repeated Dandy, who, as coxswain of the boat, was charged with the execution of the orders delivered by his imperial master.
Cyd, who was the bow oarsman, opened his mouth from ear to ear, displaying a dual set of ivories which a dentist would have been proud to exhibit as specimens of his art, and with a vigorous thrust of the boat-hook, forced the light craft far out into the stream, thus disturbing the repose of a young alligator which was sunning himself upon a snag. Cyd was fond of the water, and had no taste for the various labors that were required of him about the house and stable. He was delighted with the prospect of a sail on the river; and being a slave, and not permitted to express his views in the ordinary way, he did so by distending his mouth into a grin which might have intimidated the alligator on the log.
"Toss!" added Dandy; and up went the four oars of the rowers.
"Let fall!" and with a precision which would have been creditable to the crew of a commodore's barge, the blades struck the water as one.
"Give way!" and the boat dashed down the stream, impelled by the vigorous strokes of the dusky oarsmen.
The crew were boys of sixteen, or thereabouts, selected from the hands on the plantation with reference to their size and muscular development. They were clothed in white duck pants, blue cotton frocks, trimmed with white, and wore uniform straw hats, encircled by black bands, upon which was inscribed, in gilt letters, the name of the boat, "Edith," in compliment to the young boatman's sister.
The Edith was a magnificent craft, built in New York, and fitted, furnished, and ornamented without regard to cost. Colonel Raybone had a nephew who was a passed-midshipman in the navy, who, while on a visit to Redlawn, had instructed the crew in the elements of boating. The black boys did not regard their labors as work, and took so much pride in making themselves proficient in their duties, that they might well have challenged comparison with the best boat club in the country.
Master Archy was very dignified and magnificent as he reclined in the stern of the beautiful craft. He said nothing, and of course the coxswain, who sat behind him, was not privileged to say any thing. It was his duty to speak when he was spoken to, and with a keen eye he watched the progress of the boat, as she cut her way through the sluggish waters of the bayou.
Dandy, as we have before remarked, was a youth of quick parts, and under the scientific instruction of Mr. Midshipman Raybone, he had thoroughly mastered the art of boating, not only in its application to row boats, but also in reference to sailing craft; and there was no person on the place more skilful in the management of the schooner than the body-servant of Master Archy.
The Edith flew on her course, frightening from their repose the herons and the alligators that were enjoying the sunshine of the bright spring morning. Master Archy did speak sometimes, but this morning he was unusually taciturn. He seemed to be brooding over something: those who did not know him might have supposed that he was thinking; but the son and heir of Redlawn did not often give himself up to meditation in its higher sense. It was more likely that he was wondering what he should do next, for time hung heavy on his hands. He had nothing to do but amuse himself, and he had completely exhausted his slender ingenuity in devising new amusements.
"Stop her," said he, languidly, after the boat had gone about two miles.
Dandy obeyed the order without a question, and the Edith soon floated listlessly on the water, waiting the pleasure of her magnificent owner.
"Back to the pier," added Archy; and under the orders of her skilful coxswain, she was put about, and darted up the river on her return.
The shining ebony face of the great Athenian philosopher's namesake looked glum and discontented. He was not satisfied with the order; but not being a free agent, he was cruelly deprived of the luxury of grumbling. Roaming in the cane-brake, or sunning himself on a log like the juvenile alligators, while Master Archy took his walk, or even pulling the boat, was much more to his taste than rubbing down the horses and digging weeds out of the gravel walks in front of the mansion. The order to return, therefore, was a grievous disappointment to him; for the head gardener or the head groom would be sure to find a job for him that would last all day.
Master Archy did not know his own mind; and he did not have the same mind for a great while at a time. Cyd supposed he had thought of something that would please him better on the estate. No doubt if the surfeited young devotee of pleasure had permitted his dark companions to think for him, they might have invented a new pleasure; but he seldom spoke to them, and they were not allowed to speak to him, except in a case of emergency.
The boat reached the pier, and was brought alongside the landing steps, in a style that was above criticism. Poor Cyd was disgusted and indignant at the idea of having his day spoiled in this capricious manner. If he had been born under the free skies of New England, he would, no doubt, have remonstrated; but his social position and the discipline of the boat did not permit him to utter even a word of disapprobation. But Cyd was needlessly disturbed in the present instance, for his lordly master had no intention of abandoning the cruise, though if he had been so condescending as to say so when he ordered the Edith to return, he would have saved her crew all the bitter pangs of disappointment which they had endured during the retrograde passage.
"Cyd!" said Master Archy, when the boat came up to the steps, and the rowers had tossed their oars.
"Sar!" replied Cyd, exploding the word as though he had been a member of Monsieur Crapeau's class in French elementary sounds, and with a start which seemed to shake every fibre in his wiry frame.
"Do you know where my boxing gloves are?"
"Yes, Massa Archy; in de gym-shum," answered Cyd, again exhibiting his ivories, for the case began to look slightly hopeful.
"In the what?" demanded Archy, a languid smile appearing upon his face.
"In de gym-shum," said Cyd, taking advantage of this faint smile, and exploding the two syllables with all the vigor of a pair of healthy lungs.
"In the gymnasium, you black rascal!"
"Yes, Massa Archy, dem's um——in de gym——shum. Dat's jes what I say, massa——in de gym-shum."
"Go up and get them; and mind you don't keep me waiting all day," continued Archy, who was not equal to the effort of making the boy pronounce the word correctly.
Cyd darted off with a speed that promised the best results.
"I feel stupid to-day, and I think a bout with the gloves will do me good," yawned Archy, with a hideous gape, as he stretched himself at full length upon the velvet cushions, with his feet hanging out over the water.
"Perhaps it would, sir," replied Dandy, to whom the remark was supposed to be addressed.
"We will go down to Green Point," added he.
The conversation ended here, the young magnate of Redlawn closing his eyes and gaping by turns for the next ten minutes, till Cyd, puffing like a grampus, appeared on the steps.
"Here's de glubs, Massa Archy," said he, as he handed them to the attentive coxswain.
"Where's the other pair, you black rascal?" roared Archy, springing up from his recumbent posture.
"I only fotched ober de one pair, massa," replied Cyd, with an exceedingly troubled expression.
"Cyd, you are a fool!"
"Yes, Massa Archy," answered the black boy, who seemed to be perfectly willing to grant the position.
"What do you suppose I want of one pair of gloves!" continued Archy, angrily, as he seized one of the oars, and aimed a blow at the head of the culprit, which, however, Cyd was expert enough to dodge. "Go and get the other pair; and if you are gone half as long as you were before, I'll have you flogged."
The eye of Dandy kindled for a moment,—for the same blood flowed in the veins of both,—as he listened to the brutal words of his young master.
"That boy is a fool!" said Archy, as he settled down into his reclining posture again. "He needs a whipping to sharpen his understanding."
Dandy wholly and entirely dissented from this view; but of course he was not so impolitic as to state his views. In ten minutes more, Cyd reappeared with another pair of boxing gloves; but these were not the right ones. They were too large either for Dandy or his master, and the poor boy was solemnly assured that he should be whipped when they returned from the excursion. The coxswain was then sent, and during his absence, Archy amused himself in pointing out the enormity of Cyd's conduct, first in bringing one pair, and then bringing the wrong pair of gloves.
Dandy returned in fifteen minutes, and after snarling at him for being so long, Master Archy gave the order for the boat to push off. All the forms were gone through with as before, and again the Edith darted down the bayou. After a pull of five miles down the Crosscut, they reached another and larger river. Green Point was the tongue of land between the two streams, and here Master Archy and his coxswain landed.
MASTER ARCHY RECEIVES AN UNLUCKY BLOW.
Green Point was a very pleasant place, to which the luxurious occupants of the mansion at Redlawn occasionally resorted to spend a day. The land was studded with a growth of sturdy forest trees. Formerly it had been covered with a thick undergrowth of canes; but these, near the Point, had been cut away, and the place otherwise prepared for the visits of the grand people.
The day was cool and pleasant for that locality, and perhaps the magnificent son and heir of the planter of Redlawn felt that a little sharp exercise would be beneficial to him. He never performed any useful labor; never saddled his own pony, or polished his own boots; never hoed a hill of corn, or dug up a weed in the garden. He had been taught that labor was degrading, and only suited to the condition of the negro.
Master Archy, therefore, never degraded himself. His indolence and his aristocratic principles were in accord with each other. Though he actually suffered for the want of something to do, he was not permitted to demean himself by doing any thing that would develop the resources of the fruitful earth, and add to the comfort of his fellow-beings. I am quite sure, if the young seignior had been compelled to hoe corn, pick cotton, or cut cane for a few hours every day, or even been forced to learn his lessons in geography, grammar, and history, he would have been a better boy, and a happier one.
Idleness is not only the parent of mischief, but it is the fruitful source of human misery. Master Archy, with every thing that ingenuity could devise and wealth purchase to employ his time, was one of the most unhappy young men in the country. He never knew what to do with himself. He turned coldly from his boats to his pony; then from the pony to the gymnasium; then to the bowling alley; and each in turn was rejected, for it could not furnish the needed recreation.
Master Archy landed at Green Point, and he was fully of the opinion that he could amuse himself for an hour with the boxing gloves. For the want of a white companion of his own age, he had been compelled to practise the manly art of self-defence with his body-servant. Perhaps also there was some advantage in having Dandy for his opponent, for, being a slave, he would not dare to give as good as he received.
Dandy had taken lessons in the art with his young master, and though he was physically and "scientifically" his superior, he was cunning enough to keep on the right side of Master Archy, by letting him have the set-to all his own way. It was no easy matter to play at fisticuffs with the young lord, even with gloves on, for his temper was not particularly mild when he was crossed. If he happened to get a light rap, it made him mad; and in one way or another he was sure to wreak ample vengeance upon the offender. Dandy was therefore obliged to handle his master with extreme care.
Yet Archy had a fantastic manliness in his composition, which enabled him to realize that there was no credit in beating an unresisting opponent. Dandy must do some thing; he must bestow some blows upon his capricious companion, but he had learned that they must be given with the utmost care and discretion. In a word, if he did not hit at all, Master Archy did not like it; and if he hit too hard, or in a susceptible spot, he was mad.
Our readers who are fond of manly sport will readily perceive that Dandy was in the position of the frogs,—that what was fun to Archy was death to him, in a figurative sense. He did not have much fondness for the manly art. He had no moral views on the subject, but he hated the game for its own sake.
With the two pairs of gloves in his hands, Dandy followed his young lord till they came to a smooth piece of ground, under the spreading shade of a gigantic oak. Master Archy then divested himself of his white linen sack, which his attentive valet hung upon the trunk of a tree. He then rolled up his sleeves and put on the gloves. He was assisted in all these preparations by Dandy.
"Come, Dandy, you are not ready," said he, petulantly, when he was fully "mounted" for the occasion.
"I am all ready, sir," replied Dandy, as he slipped on the other pair of gloves.
"No, you are not," snarled Archy, who, for some reason or other, was in unusually bad humor. "Do you think I will box with you while you have your jacket on?"
"I can do very well with my jacket on," replied Dandy, meekly.
"No, you can't. I can whip you in your shirt sleeves. I don't want to take any advantage of you. Off with your jacket, and put yourself in trim."
Dandy obeyed, and in a few moments he was the counterpart, so far as dress was concerned, of his master.
"Now stand up to it like a man, for I'm going to give you a hard one to-day," added Archy, as he flourished with the gloves before his companion.
There was a faint smile upon his countenance as he uttered these words, and Dandy saw signs of unusual energy in his eyes. He evidently intended to do some "big thing," and the sport was therefore more distasteful than ever to the body-servant, whose hands were, in a measure, fettered by his position.
Dandy placed himself in the proper attitude, and went through all the forms incident to the science. At first Master Archy was cool and self-possessed, and his "plungers" and "left-handers" were adroitly parried by the other, who, if his master intended to win a decided triumph on the present occasion, was determined to make him earn his laurels. But Dandy did little more than avoid the blows; he gave none, and received none.
"Come, stand up to it!" shouted Archy, who soon began to be disgusted with these tame proceedings. "Why don't you exert yourself?"
"I do, sir; I have done my best to ward off your blows," replied Dandy.
"I will give you something more to do, then," added Archy, and sprang to his game with redoubled vigor.
As a matter of prudence, Dandy permitted himself to be hit once on the side of the head. This encouragement was not lost upon Archy, and he increased his efforts, but he could not hit his rival again for some time. After a few moments his "wind" gave out, and operations were suspended. When he had recovered breath enough to speak, he proceeded to declare that Dandy had no spirit, and did not try to make the game exciting.
"I have done my best, sir," replied Dandy.
"No, you haven't. You haven't hit me yet, and you haven't tried to do so."
"Yes, sir, I have."
"Don't contradict me. Now we will try again."
They commenced once more, and immediately Dandy, in order to gratify his master, gave him a pretty smart blow upon the end of his nose. He hoped this would satisfy the grumbler, and bring the sport to a happy termination. As usual, the blow excited the pugnacity of Master Archy; and setting the rules of the art at defiance, he rushed upon his companion with all the impetuosity of his nature.
Dandy simply stood steady, and warded off the blows of his infuriate master; but in spite of his exertions he was hit several times in the breast and face, and even "below the belt," for he did not deem it prudent to give another blow. Archy reared and plunged like an angry steed, till he had exhausted himself; but his temper had not yet spent itself. He sat down upon the ground, and rested himself for a moment, then, throwing away the gloves, proposed to finish the contest with the naked fists.
"I would rather not, Master Archy," replied Dandy, appalled at the idea.
"Throw away your gloves, and come on!" said Archy, brandishing his fists.
"I hope you will excuse me, Master Archy. I don't want to be pounded to a jelly."
This was certainly complimentary, but there was still a burning sensation lingering about the nose of the young planter, where that member had been flattened by his fellow-pugilist.
"No whining; come on!" repeated Archy; and certain malicious thoughts which rankled in his heart were manifest in his eyes.
"If you please, Master Archy, I will keep my gloves on, and you may play without any."
"Do you think I will do that?" sneered Archy. "I am willing to take as good as I send. Off with your gloves!"
"But only consider, sir, if any thing should happen. If I should hit you by accident——"
"Hit, then!" cried Archy, angrily, as he sprang forward, and planted a heavy blow upon the cheek of the body-servant before the latter had time to place himself in the attitude of defence, though he had thrown away his gloves in obedience to the mandate of his master.
For a few moments, Dandy defended himself from the impetuous assault of the young gentleman, who displayed a vigor and energy which he had never before exhibited. The consequences of any "accident" to his master were sufficiently apparent and he maintained his coolness until an unlucky blow on the nose caused that member to bleed, and at the same time produced a sharp and stinging pain.
Dandy had been politic and discreet up to this time, but the sharp pain roused a feeling of resentment in his nature. He had borne all he could, and no longer acting upon the defensive alone, he assumed the aggressive. Both parties were angry now, and for a moment, each did his best, which shortly brought the combat to a disastrous conclusion.
Dandy's arm, which had before been prudentially soft and nerveless, suddenly hardened into solid muscle, and one of his heavy blows came full and square upon the region of Archy's left eye. The young lord of the manor reeled as though a tornado had struck him, and fell heavily upon the ground.
The blow was a hard one, and it fired his southern blood still more. He leaped up, and seizing a large stick which lay upon the ground, he rushed towards his unhappy servant, with the intention of annihilating him upon the spot. Dandy's senses came to him when he saw Archy fall, and he was appalled at the result of the conflict. He had struck the blow upon the impulse of a momentary rage, and he would have given any thing to recall it.
"I didn't mean to do it, Master Archy! Forgive me!" pleaded he, as he retreated to avoid the uplifted club.
Archy was so furious that he could not speak, and Dandy was compelled to run for his life.
DANDY DETERMINES TO WATCH AND WAIT.
Fortunately for Dandy, Master Archy was not as "long-winded" as some orators of whom we have read, and, unhappily, heard; and therefore we cannot say to what extent his passion would have led him on the present occasion. There was no fear of consequences to deter him from smiting his bondman, even unto death. If he had killed him, though the gentle-hearted might have frowned or trembled in his presence, there was no law that could reach him. There was no dread of prison and scaffold to stay his arm, and what his untamed fury prompted him to do, he might have done with impunity. Even the statute made for the protection of the slave from his cruel master, would have been of no avail, for the want of a white witness to substantiate the facts.
Dandy ran away. It was all he could do, except defend himself, which might have resulted in further injury to his young master, and thus involved him deeper than before in the guilt of striking a blow in his own defence. With no particular purpose in his mind, except to avoid the blow of the club, he retreated in the direction which led him away from the point where they had landed. He ran at his utmost speed for a few moments, for the impetuosity of his master had wonderfully increased his fleetness. Master Archy's wind soon gave out, and he was no longer able to continue the chase. He abandoned the pursuit, and throwing himself upon the ground, vented his rage in a flood of tears.
Dandy did not deem it prudent to approach him while in this mood, and he seated himself on a stump at a point where he could observe his master's motions. Master Archy was not cruel or vindictive by nature, and Dandy hoped that a few moments of rest would restore him to his equilibrium. Archy's faults were those of his education; they were the offspring of his social position. He had been accustomed to have his own way, except when his will came in opposition to that of his father, which was very seldom, for Colonel Raybone was extremely and injudiciously indulgent to his children.
It was evident to his body-servant that something had gone wrong that morning with Master Archy. He had never before carried his fury to such an extreme. Though he was never reasonable, it was not often that he was so unreasonable as on this occasion.
Dandy watched him patiently till he thought it was time his passion had spent itself, and then walked towards him. Archy discovered the movement before he had advanced many steps; but without making a demonstration of any kind, he rose from the ground, and moved off towards the scene of the late encounter. As he passed the spot, he took his coat upon his arm, and made his way to the Point.
The unhappy servant was troubled and mystified by this conduct; and he was still more bewildered when he saw Archy step into the boat, and heard him, in sharp tones, order the boatmen to pull home.
"Dar's Dandy. Isn't he gwine to go home wid us?" said Cyd, who was even more mystified than the body-servant.
"No questions! Obey my orders, and pull for home," replied Archy, as he adjusted his shirt sleeves and put on his coat.
When he had arranged his dress, he threw himself upon the velvet cushions, and took no further notice of Dandy or the crew. His orders were, of course, obeyed. The bow oarsman pushed off the boat, and she was headed up the Crosscut. By this time, poor Dandy, who, notwithstanding the obliquities of his master's disposition, had a strong regard for him, reached the shore.
"I am very sorry for what has happened, Master Archy, and I hope you will forgive me," said he, in humble tones.
The imperious young lord made no reply to this supplicating petition.
"Please to forgive me!" pleaded Dandy.
"Silence! Don't speak to me again till I give you permission to do so," was the only reply he vouchsafed.
Dandy knew his master well enough to obey, literally, the injunction imposed upon him. Seating himself upon the ground, he watched the receding boat, as the lusty oarsmen drove it rapidly through the water. The events of the morning were calculated to induce earnest and serious reflection. The consequences of the affair were yet to be developed, but Dandy had no strong misgivings. Archy, he hoped and expected, would recover his good nature in a few hours, at the most, and then he would be forgiven, as he had been before.
It is true, he had never before given his master an angry blow; but he had been grievously provoked, and he hoped this would prove a sufficient excuse. Archy had lost his temper, sprung at him with the fury of a tiger, and struck him several severe blows. His face was even now covered with blood, and his nose ached from the flattening it had received. He could not feel that he had done a very wicked deed. He had only defended himself, which is the inborn right of man or boy when unjustly assailed. He had been invited, nay, pressed, to strike the blow which had caused the trouble.
Then he thought of his condition, of the wrongs and insults which had been heaped upon him; and if the few drops of negro blood that flowed in his veins prompted him to patience and submission, the white blood, the Anglo-Saxon inspiration of his nature, which coursed through the same channels, counselled resistance, mad as it might seem. As he thought of his situation, the tears came into his eyes, and he wept bitterly. The future was dark and forbidding, as the past had been joyless and hopeless. They were tears of anger and resentment, rather than of sorrow.
He almost envied the lot of the laborers, who toiled in the cane-fields. Though they were meanly clad and coarsely fed, they were not subjected to the whims and caprices of a wayward boy. They had nothing to fear but the lash of the driver, and this might be avoided by diligence and care. And then, with the tears coursing down his pale cheeks, he realized that the field-hands who labored beneath the eye of the overseer and the driver were better off and happier than he was.
"What can I do!" murmured he, as he rose from the ground, and walked back to the shade of the trees. "If I resist, I shall be whipped; and I cannot endure this life. It is killing me."
"I will run away!" said he, as he sat down upon a stump at some distance from the Point. "Where shall I go?"
He shuddered as he thought of the rifle of the overseer, and the bloodhounds that would follow upon his track. The free states were far, far away, and he might starve and die in the deep swamps which would be his only hiding place. It was too hopeless a remedy to be adopted, and he was obliged to abandon the thought in despair.
"I will watch and wait," said he. "Something will happen one of these days. If I ever go to New Orleans again, I will hide myself in some ship bound to the North. Perhaps Master Archy will travel some time. He may go to Newport, Cape May, or Saratoga, with his father, this season or next, and I shall go with him. I will be patient and submissive—that is what the preacher said we must all do; and if we are in trouble, God will sooner or later take the burden from our weary spirits. I will be patient and submissive, but I will watch and wait."
WATCH AND WAIT! There was a world of hope and consolation in the idea which the words expressed. He wiped away the tears which had trickled down his blood-stained face. WATCH AND WAIT was the only north star which blazed in the darkened firmament of his existence. He could watch and wait for months and years, but constant watching and patient waiting would one day reveal the opportunity which should break his bonds, and give him the body and spirit that God had bestowed upon him as his birthright.
Comforted by these reflections, and inspired by a new and powerful hope, he walked down to the river again. His step was elastic, and in his heart he had forgiven Master Archy. He determined to do all he could to please him; to be patient and submissive even under his wayward and petulant rule. He washed the blood from his face, and tried to wash away the rancor which his master's conduct had kindled in his soul.
Having made his peace with himself, his master, and all mankind, he sat down upon the stump, and took from his pocket a small Testament, which a pedler had dared to sell him for the moderate sum of five dollars. He read, and the blessed words gave him new hope and new courage. He felt that he could bear any thing now; but he was mistaken, for there was an ordeal through which, in a few hours, he was doomed to pass—an ordeal to which his patience and submission could not reconcile him.
While he was reading, he heard the dip of oars. Restoring the volume to his pocket, he waited the arrival of the boat. It was the barge of Archy; but the young gentleman was not a passenger. The crew had been sent down by Colonel Raybone to convey him back to the estate.
The blank looks of the crew seemed ominous of disaster. Even the brilliant ivories of the ever-mirthful Cyd were veiled in darkness beneath his ebony cheek. He looked sad and terrified, and before any of the crew had spoken a word, Dandy was fully assured that a storm was brewing.
"Massa Raybone done send us down to fotch you up," said Cyd, gloomily.
"What's the matter, Cyd?" demanded Dandy, trying to be cheerful in the face of these portending clouds of darkness.
"Massa Archy done git a black eye some how or oder, and Massa Kun'l frow 'imself into a horrid passion. Den he roar and swear jes like an alligator wid a coal o' fire in 'is troat," replied Cyd, aghast with horror.
"Well, what then?" asked Dandy, with a long breath.
"Den he send for Long Tom."
"For Long Tom!" gasped Dandy, his cheek paling and his frame quivering with emotion.
"Dat's de truf," replied Cyd, shaking his head.
"Long Tom" was a tall, stout negro-driver, who did the whipping upon the plantation. He was to be whipped! It was a barbarism to which he had never been subjected, and he was appalled at the thought.
At first, he decided not to return. Even the bloodhounds and the perils of the swamp were less terrible than the whipping-post. But he was unwilling to believe that he was to be subjected to this trying ordeal, and impelled by the resolutions he had made, he at last determined to meet his master, and by a fair representation of the case, with an earnest appeal to Archy, he hoped, and even expected, to escape the punishment.
Taking his place in the boat, he was soon gliding swiftly on his way to the plantation.
THE TRAGEDY AT THE "DEAD OAK."
When the boat touched at the pier, the slight shock of its contact with the steps seemed to shake the very soul of the culprit, who had already been tried and condemned. Though he hoped to escape, the doubt was heavy enough to weigh down his spirits, and make him feel sadder than he had ever felt before in his life. It was not with him as it would have been with one of the crew—with Cyd, for instance, who had been whipped half a dozen times without taking it very sorely to heart. The Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins boiled at the thought of such an indignity, and if he had not entertained a reasonable hope that he should escape the terrible shame and degradation which menaced him, he would certainly have taken to the swamp, and ended his days among the alligators and herons.
There was no one on the pier when he landed; and leaving the crew to dispose of the boat, he walked with a heavy heart towards the mansion of the planter. He had accomplished but half the distance, when he was met by one of the house servants, who directed him to repair to the "dead oak" beyond the negro village. The boy who had delivered this order hastened back to the house, affording him no opportunity to ask any questions, even if he had been so disposed.
"Long Tom" and the "dead oak" were ominous phrases at Redlawn, for the former was the whipper-general of the plantation, and the latter the whipping-post. The trunk of the decaying tree had been adapted to the purpose for which it was now used, and though Colonel Raybone was considered a liberal and humane master, the "dead oak" had been the scene of many a terrible tragedy.
Because his master was a just and fair man, Dandy hoped to escape the doom for which all the preparations had already been made; but the planter was only as humane, as just and fair, as the necessities of the iniquitous system upon which he had lived and thrived would permit him to be. If he had lived beyond the reach of the influence of this Upas tree he might have been a true and noble man. Dandy believed that a true statement of the facts in the case would move the heart of his master to mercy—would at least save him from the indignity of being whipped.
With hope, and yet with some fearful misgivings, he went to the "dead oak," where the group who had been summoned to witness the punishment were already assembled. By the side of them stood Long Tom, with the whip in his hand. The strap by which he was to be fastened to the trunk was adjusted.
Dandy felt a cold chill creep through his frame, attended by a convulsive shudder, as he beheld these terrible preparations. The hope which had thus far animated him received a heavy shock, and he regretted that he had not improved the opportunity to run away before it was too late.
"Take off your coat!" said Colonel Raybone, sternly.
Dandy obeyed. His cheeks were white, and the color had deserted his lips. He was then directed, in the same cold and determined tones, to remove his shirt. His teeth chattered, and his knees smote each other; and he did not at once obey the order.
"If you please, master, what am I to be whipped for?" said Dandy, in trembling tones.
"What for, you young villain? How dare you ask such a question?" replied Colonel Raybone, angrily. "You know what you are to be whipped for. Look in Archy's face!"
He did look; it was, undoubtedly, a black eye which he had inflicted upon his young master.
"If you please, sir, Master Archy will explain how it happened," added Dandy, in soft and subdued tones, which contained a powerful appeal to the magnanimity of the young lord of the manor.
"Archy has explained how it happened. Do you think I will let one of my niggers strike my son such a blow as that? Off with your shirt!"
"I didn't want to strike him at all. I didn't want to take off the gloves, sir. He made me do it."
"Did he make you give him a black eye?" roared the planter. "Do you expect me to believe such a story as this?"
"Didn't you make me strike?" continued Dandy, turning to his young master.
"I didn't ask you to get mad, and fly at me like a madman," replied Archy, coldly, as he placed his handkerchief upon the injured eye.
"I didn't mean to strike him so hard, master. Forgive me this time, and I never will strike him again."
"I wanted you to strike, but not to get mad," added Archy.
"Forgive me this time, master," pleaded Dandy.
"Forgive you, you villain! I'll forgive you. I'll teach you to strike my son! Tear off his shirt, Tom!"
Long Tom was a slave. He had groaned and bled beneath the lash himself; but the trifling favors he had received had debauched his soul, and he was a willing servant, ready, for a smile from his master, to perform with barbarous fidelity the diabolical duties of his office. Seizing Dandy by the arm, he pulled off his shirt, and led him to the tree.
The last ray of hope had expired in the soul of Dandy. His blood rebelled at the thought of being whipped. He was not stirred by the emotions which disturb a free child with a whipping in prospect. He cringed not at the pain, he rebelled not at proper and wholesome punishment. This whipping was the scourging of the slave; it was the emblem of his servitude. The blows were the stripes which the master inflicts upon his bondman. His soul was free, while his body was in chains; and it was his soul rather than his body that was to be scourged.
The thought was madness. His blood boiled with indignation, with horror, and with loathing. The tide of despair surged in upon his spirit, and overwhelmed him. He resolved not to be whipped, and, when Long Tom turned away to adjust the strap, he sprang like an antelope through the group of spectators, and ran with all the speed he could command towards the river.
Perhaps it was a mistake on the part of Dandy, but it was the noblest impulse of his nature which prompted him to resist the unjust sentence that had been passed upon him. He ran, and desperation gave him the wings of the wind; but he had miscalculated his chances, if he had considered them at all, for the swift horse of the planter was tied to a stake near the dead oak. He had been riding over the estate when Archy returned from Green Point with the story of the blows which had been inflicted upon him.
Colonel Raybone leaped upon his horse the instant he realized the purpose of the culprit, and, before Dandy had accomplished half the distance to the river, the planter overtook him. He rode the horse directly upon him, and if the intelligent beast had not been kinder than his rider, the story of poor Dandy might have ended here. As it was, he was simply thrown down, and before he could rise and recover himself the planter had dismounted and seized him by the arm.
So deeply had the prejudices of his condition been implanted in his mind, that the thought of bestowing blows upon the sacred person of his master did not occur to him. If he had dared to fight, as he had the strength and the energy to fight, he might still have escaped. Colonel Raybone was an awful presence to him, and he yielded up his purpose without a struggle to carry it out.
The planter swore at him with a fury which chilled his blood, and struck him several smart blows with his riding-whip as the foretaste of what he was still to undergo.
"Now, back to the tree," said Colonel Raybone, as he mounted his horse again.
Dandy had given up all hope now, and he marched to the whipping-post, as the condemned criminal walks to the scaffold. He had advanced but a short distance before he met the other spectators to his doom, and Long Tom seized him by the wrist, and held him with an iron gripe till they reached the dead oak.
"Tie him up quick, Tom," said Colonel Raybone. "It has been more work to flog this young cub than a dozen full-grown niggers."
Long Tom fastened the straps around Dandy's wrists, and passed them through a band around the tree, about ten feet from the ground. He then pulled the victim up till his toes scarcely touched the earth.
"Now, lay them on well," said the planter, vindictively.
"How many, Massa Raybone?" asked Tom, as he unrolled the long lash of his whip.
"Lay on till I say stop."
Dandy's flesh quivered, but his spirit shrunk more than his body from the contamination of the slave-master's scourge. The lash fell across his back—his back, as white as that of any who read this page. The blood gushed from the wound which the cruel lash inflicted, but not a word or a groan escaped from the pallid lips of the sufferer. A dozen blows fell, and though the flesh was terribly mangled, the laceration of the soul was deeper and more severe.
"Stop!" said Colonel Raybone.
Long Tom promptly obeyed the mandate. He evidently had no feeling about the brutal job, and there was no sign of joy or sorrow in his countenance from first to last. If he felt at all, his experience had effectually schooled him in the difficult art of concealing his emotions.
"Take him down," added the planter, who, as he gazed upon the torn and excoriated flesh of the victim, seemed to feel that the atonement had washed away the offence.
During the punishment Master Archy had betrayed no small degree of emotion, and before the driver had struck the sixth blow he had asked his father, in a whisper, to stay the hand of the negro. He had several times repeated the request; but Colonel Raybone was inflexible till the crime had, in his opinion, been fully expiated.
Long Tom unloosed the straps, and the body of the culprit dropped to the ground, as though the vital spark had for ever fled from its desecrated tabernacle.
"De boy hab fainted, Massa Raybone," said the driver.
"I see he has," replied the planter, with some evidence of emotion in his tones, as he bent over the prostrate form of the boy, to ascertain if more was not done than had been intended.
He felt the pulse of Dandy, and satisfied himself that he was not dead. We must do him the justice to say that he was sorry for what had happened—sorry as a kind parent is when compelled to punish a dear child. He did not believe that he had done wrong, even accepting as true the statement of the culprit; for the safety of the master and his family made it necessary for him to regard the striking even of a blow justifiable under other circumstances as a great enormity. It was the system, more than the man, that was at fault.
Dandy was not dead, and Colonel Raybone ordered two of the house servants, who were present, to do every thing that his condition required. He and Archy then walked towards the house, gloomy and sad, both of them.
A VISION OF THE PROMISED LAND.
Dandy, lacerated and bleeding, but still insensible, was conveyed to his chamber in the mansion house, by some of the servants. His physician was an old slave, skilled in the treatment of cases of this kind. When the patient recovered from the swoon into which he had fallen, his back was carefully washed, and the usual remedies were applied. Though suffering terribly from the effects of his wounds, he did not permit a sigh nor a groan to escape him.
The mangled flesh could be healed, but there was no balm at Redlawn that could restore his mangled spirit. Dandy felt that he had been crushed to earth. Slavery, which had before been endurable with patience and submission, was now intolerable. He had been scourged with the lash. He had realized what it was to be a slave in the most bitter and terrible sense.
"I will watch and wait," said he to himself, when the old slave had left him alone with his reflections, "but no longer with patience and submission. I will cease to be a slave, or I will die a freeman with the herons and the alligators in the swamp."
The day wore slowly away, but it was filled up with earnest and energetic reflections,—in a word, with plans and suggestions of plans for escaping from the bondage whose fetters now galled him to the quick. And before the sun set upon the day of his greatest humiliation, he had matured a scheme by which he hoped and expected to win the priceless boon of freedom. It was a daring scheme, and its success must depend wholly upon the skill and energy with which its details were managed.
When one resolves to do a thing, it is already half done; and Dandy, stretched upon his couch of pain, was inspired by the hope and comfort which his plan afforded him. It might be weeks or months before the favorable opportunity for executing his purpose should arrive; but the time would come, sooner or later.
"I will watch and wait," said he, while a smile of hope illuminated his pale face.
WATCH AND WAIT had now a new significance, more vital than before; and he kept repeating the words, for they were an epitome of the whole duty of the future.
While he was pondering his great purpose, he was surprised to receive a visit from Master Archy. The imperious young gentleman displayed a languid smile upon his face as he entered the chamber. It was intended as a token of conciliation. If his pride had permitted him to speak to the suffering bondman, he would have said, "Dandy, you see this smile upon my face. It is the olive-branch of peace. I freely forgive you for what you have done; and you see, by my coming, that I feel an interest in you. Not every young master would bestow a visit of sympathy upon his slave, after he had been whipped; so you see how condescending I am. We will be friends, as we were before. It is true you have been whipped; but you deserved it, and I am willing to forgive you. It may have been my fault, but as you are a nigger, and in my power, it don't make much difference."
This was what Master Archy's looks said, and the sufferer read them as well as though the words had been written upon his face. After Dandy came to his senses, his first thought was, that he would be revenged upon Archy for his mean and cowardly conduct; but the great scheme he had matured drove this purpose from his mind. Success required that he should conceal his feelings, or he might lose the confidence of his master, and thus be deprived of the opportunity for which he intended to watch and wait.
"How do you feel, Dandy?" asked Archy, in tones of sympathy, as he placed himself by the bedside of his body-servant.
"Not very well, Master Archy," replied Dandy.
"My father carried it farther than I intended, Dandy. I tried to stop him before."
"Thank you, Master Archy," answered the patient, meekly.
"Though it was more than I meant you should have, I hope you will remember it a long time," added Archy.
"I shall, master."
"My eye is not in very good condition," said he, wiping the injured organ with his handkerchief. "It was a hard blow you gave me."
Dandy wished he would leave him, and he did not care to argue the matter with him, even if he had been privileged to do so.
"It won't do to let your servant go too far," said Archy.
"I am very sorry it happened," replied Dandy.
"Well, I hope the lesson will last you as long as you live."
"It will, Master Archy."
The young tyrant, when he had fully satisfied himself that his minion was in a tractable state, took his leave, much to the satisfaction of the sufferer. The old negro who acted as his physician paid him another visit in the evening, and assured him that he would be well in a few days. He left him with the injunction to go to sleep, and forget all about it.
Dandy could not go to sleep, could not forget all about it. The wound in his soul was more painful than those upon his back, and hour after hour passed away, but his eyes were still set wide open. His great resolution filled the future with sublime visions, which he panted to realize. His path lay through trial and danger, was environed by death on every side; but paradise was at the end of it, and he was willing to encounter every hardship, and brave every danger, to win the glorious prize, or content to die if his struggles should be in vain.
He was determined to leave Redlawn at the first favorable opportunity; and while he pictured a glowing future beyond the chilly damps of the swamp, and out of the reach of the rifle-ball and the bloodhound, there were still some ties which bound him to the home of his childhood.
Home! No, it was only a mockery of that heaven upon earth! It had been the scene of his tribulation—that which riveted the bonds upon his limbs. But it was home so far as it was the abiding place of his friends,—not those who scourged him, whose caprices had tormented him; not his young master, not his old master. That delightful poetry which paints a loving slave clinging fondly to the master that scourges him had never glowed in his imagination. Whatever of regard he had before cherished towards his master had been driven from his heart by the thongs of the slave whip.
He had friends at Redlawn,—the gentle, meek, and patient Lily,—the wild, rollicking, mirthful Cyd. They were his friends, indeed, and the thought of leaving them at all was sad; the thought of leaving them in bondage, to be sold and scourged, was intolerable. While he was thinking of them he heard a slight rap at the door.
"May I come in?"
It was Lily, and the permission was promptly given. The clock in the great hall below had struck eleven, and the family had but just retired. She had been waiting all this time to pay a visit of sympathy to the sufferer.
"How do you do, Dandy?" asked she, as she sat down in a chair at the head of the bed.
"I'm better, Lily."
"I'm very glad. I wanted to come and see you very much, but I was afraid to do so. It was terrible, Dandy! To think that you should be whipped! I should as soon have thought of being whipped myself."
"It is terrible, Lily."
"What did you do, Dandy? It must have been some awful thing."
The sufferer briefly related the particulars of the event at Green Point, which had procured him the whipping. Lily expressed her horror at the meanness of Master Archy, and poured out her sympathy in unmeasured fulness upon her friend.
"But I shall not be here long, Lily," added Dandy, in a whisper.
"Why, what do you mean?" asked she, amazed at the idea of resistance in any form.
"Will you keep my secret, Lily?"
"You know that I will, Dandy."
"I mean to run away."
"Run away!" gasped Lily.
"I will not stay here another month if I can help it."
"But where will you go?"
"I know where to go, and how to go; and, live or die, I shall make the attempt."
"And you will be free?"
"I will, or I will die. I will not be a slave!" said he, in an energetic whisper.
"How grand it would be! I wish I could be free," sighed Lily. "I don't know what will become of me one of these days."
"None of us can know."
"If I were a man I should not fear so much. Master was offered two thousand dollars for me a year ago."
"He will not sell you."
"Whether he does or not, I shall be miserable as long as I live. I often wish I was dead."
"Poor Lily!" sighed Dandy.
"Can't I go with you," asked she, bending over him, and whispering the words into his ear.
"You, Lily! I shall go to the swamps first. I may have to live with the alligators for months, perhaps for years."
"I am not afraid of them. If you will let me, I will go with you," added she, eagerly.
"I shall have to meet hardships and dangers,—more than you could bear."
"I'll bear every thing, Dandy. I will help you; I will die with you."
"I would bear any thing. I would rather live with the alligators than with Miss Edith. You don't know how much I have to bear, Dandy."
"The same that I have to bear from Master Archy. If I thought you could stand it, Lily, I should be glad to take you with me."
"I can stand it," replied she, with enthusiasm.
"You shall go, Lily."
"Heaven bless you, Dandy!"
"And I'm going to take Cyd with me, too, if he will go; but he don't know any thing about it yet."
"When shall we start?"
"I don't know; not till master goes a hunting again. I will tell you all about it in a few days."
Lily was content to leave every thing with Dandy, in whom she had more confidence than in any other person, for he was her only real friend. With her soul full of new emotions, she left the chamber of the sick boy just as the clock struck twelve.
Dandy's great purpose now assumed a new significance; and as Lily was to share in the toils, privations, and dangers of the enterprise, a new responsibility was imposed upon him.
It was two hours more before his exciting thoughts would permit him to sleep. His wounds had ceased to smart, and he had even forgotten his flogging in the glorious vision to which it had introduced him. And when he slept it was but to dream of the swamp and its perils, and of the promised land which his fancy pictured beyond it.
THE ISABEL IS PREPARED FOR A CRUISE.
At the end of a week the lacerated flesh of poor Dandy was so far healed that he again discharged all the duties of his position near the person of his young master. The flesh was healed, but the spirit still smarted under the effects of the whipping. "Watch and wait," was his motto; and though he possessed his soul in patience, he kept his eyes and his ears wide open, ready to seize upon the desired opportunity to carry out his great resolution.
The season most favorable for shooting had arrived, and Dandy was in expectation that Colonel Raybone would order the preparations to be made for his annual excursion, either to the rivers above, or the lakes below, in search of game. Upon this event was based his hope of making his escape.
The smiling month of May was ushered in with its pleasant days, and about a fortnight after his whipping Dandy had the satisfaction of hearing the subject broached. The excursion was a matter of considerable importance, for the planter was generally absent two or three weeks, during which time he and his party lived on board of the large sail-boat. As there were no guests at Redlawn, the people wondered who were to be the colonel's companions.
"We will leave on Wednesday," said the planter to his son.
"Are you going alone, father?"
"Certainly not; you may go with me for one, and you may take Dandy with you. Jake and Cyd shall go to do the heavy work."
"Who else? There is room enough in the cabin for four."
"There is no one else to go. So we shall have the more room ourselves," replied the planter, as he walked away.
Master Archy announced to Dandy and Cyd that they were to attend the party, and both expressed their satisfaction at the privilege accorded to them. They were directed to put the Isabel, which was the name of the boat, in good order for the trip. She had to be thoroughly washed and dried that she might be in readiness to receive her stores on the following day, which was Tuesday, and they hastened off to perform their task.
The Isabel was about twenty-five feet long. She was very broad on the beam, and drew but very little water for a boat of her size. She was provided with a centre board, and worked admirably on the wind. She had been built expressly for the shallow waters of the lower lakes.
She was schooner-rigged, and could carry a heavy press of sail, which the light winds of these inland lakes rendered necessary. The cabin was twelve feet long, and nine feet wide at the broadest part, and contained four berths. The "trunk," which was elevated about fifteen inches above the deck, afforded a height of about five feet beneath. The berths, which extended beneath the main deck, answered for beds by night, and sofas by day.
The standing room, or open space abaft the cabin, was eight feet long, with cushioned seats on three sides. Forward of the cabin there was a "stow-hold," four feet long, in which the fuel and furnaces used for cooking were kept. Under the cabin table, and under the berths and seats in the standing room, were a plenty of lockers for the reception of provisions and other articles required on board.
We are thus particular in describing the Isabel, because Dandy and his friends were destined to make their home on board of her for some time. They might have found many a worse dwelling place on shore, for the boat had ample accommodations for them. The cabin was elegantly fitted and furnished, and there was every thing on board which could be needed to make them comfortable.
While Dandy and Cyd were cleaning the Isabel, the former boldly announced his purpose to run away, and invited his friend to make one of the party.
"Golly! Dis chile go for sure!" roared Cyd, displaying his wealth of ivories, and dropping his scrubbing brush with amazement at the magnificence of the idea.
"Hush, Cyd! You will tell every one on the place."
"No, sar! I won't tell no one ob it. Dat's de truf, Dandy."
"Be careful then, and don't speak so loud."
"But where you gwine?" demanded Cyd.
"I'm going into the swamp, and shall stay there till master thinks we are all dead. Then I'm going to run down to the sea, and get on board of some vessel that will carry us to the free states."
This prospect was rather too much for the simple comprehension of the unlettered negro boy, and he only rolled the whites of his eyes in mute astonishment.
"I've studied it all out, Cyd, and I know where to go, and how to get there."
"Yes, Dandy, you knows ebery ting, and I'll foller you to de end ob de world—dat's de truf," added Cyd.
"And Lily will go with us."
"Yes; now keep your mouth shut, and don't look any different from what you always do."
"Golly—yes; when you gwine to go, Dandy?"
"To-morrow night. Every thing will be put on board, ready for the colonel to start early the next morning. Just as soon as all the people in the house have gone to bed, we will meet here, and go on board."
"Den I shall be a free nigger?"
"Yes, if we get off, and the plan works well. But you must be very careful."
"You kin trust dis chile, Dandy. You knows you kin."
"I do, or I should not have made you my companion."
Dandy instructed his sable friend very minutely in the duties he was to discharge in connection with the enterprise. He had every confidence in Cyd's discretion, and knew that he would rather die than betray him.
The Isabel was carefully cleaned, and left to dry in the bright sunshine of a clear day. The next morning, the steward of the plantation laid out the stores which were to go on board; and as their storage was a nice matter, Dandy was charged with this duty. He was assisted by Archy's boat crew, who conveyed the articles on board; and before sunset the boat was ready for her cruise. Every locker was filled with meat, vegetables, crackers, wines, liquors, fruits, cakes, cordials—with every thing which could contribute to the comfort or luxury of the excursionists. There were two barrels of water in the standing room, and the choice fowling pieces of the planter and his son were in the cabin, with a supply of ammunition sufficient to destroy half the game of the parish.
To the supplies laid out by the steward, Dandy contrived to add a dozen hams, nicely sewed up in canvas bags, and several kegs of crackers, which he took from the store room. These articles were stowed in the forward cuddy, and concealed beneath the fuel and furnaces, so that the planter, when he inspected the boat, might not discover them. Some other articles were placed in a convenient position on shore, that they might be taken on board in the night.
At sunset, Colonel Raybone went off to the Isabel, and carefully examined every part of her, to satisfy himself that there had been no omissions in her outfit.
"You have done very well, Dandy," said the planter, when he had completed his inspection. "How many hams have you put on board?"
"Six, sir," replied Dandy.
"We may be absent five or six weeks; you may put in six more," added Colonel Raybone.
He also ordered an additional supply of smoked beef and tongues, which, of course, the caterer was glad to convey on board. When these stores had been added to the stock, he was satisfied, and ordered Dandy and Cyd to be on board by six in the morning.
The superintendent of these operations then locked up the cabin, and went on shore. Though he was burning with excitement, he managed to demean himself with his ordinary coolness, and Cyd looked as immovable as a statue.
At the usual hour they retired to their several rooms, but not to sleep. Dandy, as the conductor of the enterprise, was weighed down with the responsibilities of his position. Though he had done every thing he could to insure the success of the venture, he was still burdened with a feverish anxiety lest something had been omitted, and with the dread that something might happen to interfere with the plan.
There were many things which might intervene to thwart his purpose. If the night should prove to be calm, there would be scarcely a hope of success; for the Isabel was so large that the two boys could not row her far enough, before daylight, to place them out of the reach of pursuit. There was quite a fresh breeze when he went to his room; but he trembled with fear lest it should subside before he could take advantage of it.
While Miss Edith was at dinner that day, he had found an opportunity to whisper his purpose into the ear of Lily, and to give her such instructions as the occasion required. He had no doubt that his companions would meet him on the pier at the appointed time.
Fortunately for the success of the plan, the family retired at an earlier hour than usual, and Dandy waited with impatience till the stillness of the house assured him it was safe to leave his chamber. He then tied up a portion of his clothing, and crept softly down stairs. His heart beat with most tremendous pulsations. The opportunity for which he had been watching and waiting had come, and issues more terrible than those of life and death hung upon the success of the enterprise. If he failed, if he was captured, he might expect the auction block, for Colonel Raybone always sold a servant that attempted to run away.
The destiny of poor Lily was also in his keeping, and for her to be sold was to be consigned to a fate worse than death to a pure-minded girl—a fate which both of them were old enough to understand.
"God be with me!" ejaculated Dandy, half a dozen times before he left his chamber.
It was all the prayer he ever uttered, but it was an earnest and sincere one.
"God be with me," repeated he, in a whisper, as he closed the front door of the house behind him, and with stealthy step crept down to the pier.
Cyd was already there, for he did not sleep in the great house, and had not to wait the movements of the family. He trembled with excitement as Dandy joined him, for he knew the fate of the runaway if he was caught. They immediately brought the articles which had been concealed down to the steps, and put them in the bateau, which was used as a tender for the Isabel.
"What's dis for?" asked Cyd, as he deposited two pots of paint in the boat.
"Don't ask questions," whispered Dandy, earnestly. "Not another word, or I'll leave you. Now, put these things on board, and mind you don't make a particle of noise."
Cyd obeyed the order to the letter, and paddled off to the sail-boat. Every thing was now in readiness for their departure, but Lily had not yet made her appearance. Cyd returned to the shore, and they waited half an hour, but the lady's-maid did not come.
There was a stiff breeze blowing, and Dandy was impatient at the loss of a single moment of precious time. He walked up to the house, fearful lest something had happened to prevent her from keeping her appointment. There was a light in Miss Edith's chamber, which explained her non-appearance; but he could not think of going without her.
When his patience was nearly exhausted, the light was extinguished. Lily soon made her appearance on the lawn, and they hastened down to the pier.
THE DEPARTURE OF THE YOUNG FUGITIVES.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Lily, when Dandy joined her on the lawn; "I am frightened out of my senses."
"There is nothing to fear yet, Lily," said her conductor, as he took her by the hand to restore her confidence. "The wind is quite fresh, and long before we are missed we shall be out of the reach of pursuit."
"I am frightened, and I can't help it."
"You will feel better when you get on board of the boat. You shall have a nice cabin, and you can lie down and go to sleep just as you would in your own chamber."
"I don't think I shall sleep much to-night. I was afraid I should not be able to join you, for Miss Edith had the headache, and made me stay with her till she could go to sleep."
"We are all right now, Lily. Every thing is as favorable as it can be. We have nothing to fear as long as the wind blows."
Lily had very little practical knowledge of boating, and she did not comprehend the allusions of Dandy; but she trusted him with all her soul, and when he said there was no danger, her fluttering heart was calmed down. Before they reached the pier she had entirely recovered her self-possession, though she could not help being deeply impressed by the important step she was taking.
Cyd was seated on the landing steps, whistling the air of a negro melody, as cool as though he was about to engage in a lawful enterprise. He had been tremendously agitated at the announcement of the idea, and when he decided to form one of the party; but he was one of that class to whom exciting events soon become an old story. He already regarded his freedom as achieved, and he had even made himself familiar with his new social condition.
Dandy handed Lily into the bateau which was to serve as the Isabel's tender, and then seated himself in the bow.
"Come, bear a hand, Cyd," said the leader, in a low but sharp tone.
"What am I to bear a hand to?" demanded Cyd.
"Jump in quick, and paddle off to the Isabel."
"Golly! Is dis chile got to row de boat? Says I, 'Cyd,' says I, 'you's a free nigger, and you got nuffin to do but——'"
"Take your paddle quick, or I will leave you here!" interposed Dandy.
Cyd obeyed this time. His ideas of freedom were, no doubt, derived from his master and the other white people at Redlawn, who had nothing to do but amuse themselves and order the negroes round the place. They were very crude ideas, and he was yet to learn that freedom did not mean idleness. He paddled the bateau off to the sail-boat, and Lily was put on board.
"Now, haul the Edith alongside," said the skipper, as he proceeded to unloose the sails.
"De Edif!" exclaimed Cyd. "Wha—wha—what you gwine to do wid de Edif?"
"Haul her alongside!" replied Dandy, sharply. "If you spend the night in talking, we shall not get off till morning."
"Hossifus!" ejaculated Cyd, whose vocabulary being rather limited, he was under the necessity of coining a word occasionally, when he felt the need of a strong expression. "Dis nigger tink he was free, but it's Do dis, and Do dat. Hossifus; dis chile tink he's only got a new massa—dat's all, for sartin."
"If you don't want to go, Cyd, you needn't. I will put you on shore, and go without you."
"Gossifus! Dis chile like to know what you gwine to do widout Cyd."
"I shall do very well without him. Shall I put you on shore, or not?"
"Possifus! No, Dandy; I'se gwine wid you, any how."
"Then you must mind me!" added the skipper, earnestly.
"I done do dat."
"Haul the Edith alongside, then."
"Sartin, Dandy. I'se gwine to haul de Edif alongside, but dis chile like to know what for?"
"Mind me, or I'll put you on shore!" cried Dandy, angrily.
"Mossifus! I'se gwine, Dandy," said Cyd as he stepped into the tender, and paddled off to the Edith, which was moored a short distance above.
Presently he returned, and the painter of the race boat was made fast to a cleat on the quarter of the Isabel. Cyd was much mystified by the operation, for he could not see why they should take the Edith with them. He was very anxious to argue the point with Dandy, who, it seemed to him, had never before in his life been so sharp and ill-natured. But the skipper was too much excited by the tremendous issues of the hour to be in a mood for argument.
By this time Dandy had cast loose the sails, and together they manned the halyards, and hoisted the mainsail. It was large, and the fresh breeze caused it to flap and beat with a fearful noise, which added not a little to the excitement of the skipper.
"Stand by the moorings, Cyd, and have your jib halyards ready!" said Dandy, as he took his place at the tiller.
"Hossifus! I'm dar, Massa Dandy."
"You needn't 'massa' me, Cyd. Stop!"
"Which'll I do, Massa Dandy, stand by de moorings, or stop?" demanded Cyd, whose ivories were now distinctly visible in the gloom of the night.
"Neither; jump into the bateau, and bring the wherry alongside," replied Dandy.
"Gossifus! What you gwine to do wid de wherry?"
"Mind me, or go on shore!" said the skipper, sternly.
"I'se gwine. Golly! dat makes two boats apiece all round, for sartin."
"I'se gone; 'pears like I'se only swapped off Massa Archy for Massa Dandy."
But Cyd obeyed the order, and brought the wherry to the side of the Isabel, to which she was secured, like the other boats. The bewildered boy was not in the habit of doing his own thinking, and his faculties were not, therefore, very fully developed, and an explanation would have relieved him of a world of doubts and conjectures.
"Now, have your jib halyards ready, and stand by the moorings," said Dandy.
"Yes, sar!" replied Cyd, putting a wicked emphasis on the complimentary part of the answer.
"Let go the moorings!" shouted Dandy, as he hauled in the main sheet.
"All gone, Massa Dandy," replied Cyd, as the heavy rope by which the boat was secured splashed into the water.
"Hoist the jib!" added the skipper, in the same loud tones, that he might be heard above the noise of the flapping sail.
"Up she goes," responded Cyd, joyously.
The Isabel, released from her moorings, caught the breeze, and the voyage of the young fugitives was commenced. She leaped like a race-horse before the fresh breeze.
"We done gone!" exclaimed Cyd, as he walked aft, when he had secured the jib sheet.
"We are off!" replied Dandy, as he cast an anxious glance in the direction of the planter's great house, to assure himself that none of its inmates witnessed their departure.
The night was very dark, and there were indications of a storm. It required all the skill of the bold leader of the expedition to steer the boat in the thick gloom of the night. The navigation was difficult and dangerous. The bayou was filled with snags and stumps, and to strike one of them was to dash the boat in pieces, and wreck all the hopes which hung upon the success of the enterprise. But Dandy was thoroughly acquainted with all the difficulties in his course, and was so familiar with the waters of the bayou, that he was as much at home upon them by night as by day.
"Hoist the foresail, Cyd," said the skipper.
"Mossifus! Dis chile tinks de boat's gwine fas enough," answered Cyd, "but I'se gwine to do jus what you say, Massa Dandy."
"Do it then."
Cyd did do it then; but it was evident to the commander of the Isabel that the "crew" of his vessel was in a lamentable state of insubordination. All his orders were questioned, and the boat was liable to go to the bottom in an emergency, because his commands were not promptly obeyed. He was not a little astonished at Cyd's conduct, for in the boat of Master Archy he was in the habit of obeying all orders like a machine, never presuming to ask a question, or suggest a doubt.
The foresail was set, and the Isabel dashed on with increased speed. There was no more "working ship" to be done, and Cyd again took his place on the cushioned seats in the standing-room, a luxury, by the way, in which he had never before attempted to indulge himself; but when it is considered that he had just emerged from slavery to freedom, his want of respect for the dignity of the "quarter deck" will be fully excused.
"Go forward, Cyd, and keep a sharp lookout ahead," said Dandy, as soon as the "crew" was comfortably seated on the cushion.
"Gossifus! I suppose I'se a nigger still," said he. "Dis chile tinks he's jes as good's any body now."
"You are, Cyd."
"Den I mus squat on de hard deck, and you sets on de cushions."
"Take one of the cushions with you, if you wish to; but go forward and keep a sharp lookout."
"Dis nigger don't zackly like dis kind ob freedom," growled Cyd, as he moved forward.
The wind was about south-west, which was fair for the course the Isabel was then steering, and in three quarters of an hour she made Green Point. Dandy could not but recall the events which had occurred there three weeks before, for they had stimulated him to the daring enterprise in which he was now engaged. It was there he had resolved to watch and wait in patience and submission for a less perilous opportunity to effect his escape than that which he had now embraced. The spot was full of interest, for his great resolution had been born there; but the moment was big with the destiny of the whole party, and he could not stop to indulge in sentimental reflections.
"Stand by the jib sheet, Cyd!" said he, as the Isabel swept past the point.
"Yes, sar—all ready!" replied Cyd, who had so many times assisted in working the boat, that he was perfectly familiar with the routine of a foremast hand's duty.
"Hard—lee!" cried Dandy, as he put the helm down, and brought the Isabel up on the other tack.
Cyd tended the jib sheet without further instruction, and then took his place again on the forecastle to look out for danger ahead. The course for the next five miles was up the large bayou, of which the Crosscut was a tributary. It was lined on both sides with large trees, which sheltered the water, to some extent, from the force of the wind, and her progress was less rapid than before. The navigation was less obstructed, and Cyd was called aft to enjoy the luxury of the cushioned seats.
Lily, who had now become reconciled to her situation, also joined the skipper in the standing room. The hurry and excitement of the departure had passed off, and the load of anxiety was removed from the mind of Dandy.
It was midnight, dark and gloomy; but the young fugitives felt that they were passing from the gloom of slavery into the light of freedom. The first difficulties of the enterprise had been overcome, and though there were months of peril and hardship before them, it seemed as though the glorious sun of the new existence had already risen.
THE FUGITIVES REACH LAKE CHICOT.
The Isabel moved steadily through the waters of the wide bayou, bearing her precious freight farther and farther from the plantation. With every mile she advanced, the hopes of the fugitives grew stronger. Though Dandy alone knew the route by which they were to reach the land of freedom, they were conscious that any white man whom they might meet would arrest them as runaways. Before they could pass out of the limits of the state, they must go in sight of many plantations, where they were liable to be seen, and even near two or three villages.
In spite of the perils which the future had in store for them, the party were quite cheerful. Even Lily, gentle and timid as she was, soon became accustomed to the novel situation in which she was placed, and ceased to dread the pursuing footsteps of the slave-hunters.
"Do you think we shall escape, Dandy?" asked she, as she seated herself by the side of her friend.
"I expect we shall," replied he, unwilling to kindle too strong a hope in the mind of the girl. "If we manage well, we have a good chance."
"I hope we shall, for master would certainly sell us all if we should be caught."
"Dat ud be wus as staying wid Massa Kun'l," added Cyd. "But I s'pect we won't be caught, Massa Dandy."
"Why do you call me master, Cyd?"
"Dis chile tink you cutting it rader fat."
"What do you mean by that?"
"You'se tell me do dis, and, Cyd, do dat,—jes as dough dis nigger no account at all."
"I am in command of the boat; and it was my duty to get her under way. When I told you to do any thing, you began to ask questions."
"Dis nigger's free now," replied Cyd, with becoming dignity.
"Not yet, Cyd. We may be caught at any moment."
"Gossifus! I tought I was free now."
"What made you think so?"
"We done runned away from Massa Kun'l."
"He may catch you again."
"De Kun'l ain't here, no how, Dandy; 'pose I neber see him any more, and he neber see me any more, who's my massa den?"