Chapter XI: A Shadow

' Ah, boys! here you are, true to your promise,' said Henry, as he entered a covert in the thicket adjacent the cotton place, late on Sunday evening, 'have you been waiting long ?'
' Not very,' replied Andy, ' not mo' dan two-three ouahs.'
' I was fearful you would not come, or if you did before me, that you would grow weary, and leave.'
' Yeh no call to doubt us Henry, case yeh fine us true as ole steel!'
5' I know it,' answered he, 'but you know Andy, that when a slave is once sold at auction, all respect for him—'
' O pshaw! we ain' goin' to heah nothin like dat a tall! case—'
' No!' interrupted Charles, ' all you got to do Henry, is to tell we boys what you want, an' we're your men.'
' That's the talk for me !'
'Well, what you doin' here?' enquired Charles.
10' W'at brought yeh back fom Jackson so soon?' farther enquired Andy.
' How did you get word to meet me here ?'
' By Ailcey; she give me the stone, an' I give it to Andy, an' we both sent one apiece back. Did'nt you git 'em?'
' Yes, that's the way I knew you intended to meet me,' replied Henry.
' So we thought,' said Charles, ' but tell us Henry, what you want us to do.'
15' I suppose you know all about the sale, that they had me on the auction block, but ordered a postponement, and—'
' That's the very pint we cant understand, although I'm in the same family with you" interrupted Charles.
' But tell us Henry, what yeh doin' here ?' impatiently enquired Andy.
'Yes,' added Charles, 'we want to know.'
' Well, I'm a runaway, and from this time forth, I swear—I do it religiously—that I'll never again serve any white man living!'
20' That's the pint I wanted to git at before,' explained Charles,' as I cant understan' why you run away, after your release from Jack Harris, an'—'
' Nah I, nuthah !' interupted Andy.
' It seems to me,' continued Charles, ' that I'd 'ave went before they 'tempted to sell me, an' that you're safer now than before they had you on the block.'
' Dat's da way I look at it,' responded Andy.
' The stopping of the sale was to deceive his wife, mammy, and daddy Joe, as he had privately disposed of me to a regular soul-driver by the name of Crow.'
25'I knows Dick Crow,' said Andy, ' 'e come f'om Faginy, whah I did, da same town.'
' So Ailcey said of him. Then you know him without any description from me,' replied Henry.
' Yes 'n deed! an' I knows 'im to be a inhuman, mean, dead-po' white man, dat's wat I does !'
' Well, I was privately sold to him for two thousand dollars, then ordered back to Franks, as though I was still his slave, and by him given a pass, and requested to go to Woodville where there were arrangements to seize me and hold me, till Crow ordered me, which was to have been on Tuesday evening. Crow is not aware of me having been given a pass; Franks gave it to deceive his wife ; in case of my not returning, to make the impression that I had run away, when in reality I was sold to the trader.'
' Then our people had their merry-making all for nothin',' said Charles, ' an' Franks got what 'e didn't deserve —their praise.'
30'No, the merry-making was only to deceive Franks, that I might have time to get away. Daddy Joe, mammy Judy, and Ailcey, knew all about it, and proposed the feast to deceive him.'
' Dat's good! sarve 'im right, da 'sarned ole scamp !' rejoined Andy.
' It couldn't be better!' responded Charles,
' Henry uh wish we was in yo' place an' you none da wus by it,' said Andy.
' Never mind, boys, give yourselves no uneasiness, as it wont be long before we'll all be together.'
35'You think so, Henry?' asked Charles.
' Well uh hope so, but den body can haudly 'spect it,' responded Andy.
' Boys,' said Henry, with great caution, and much emotion, ' I am now about to approach an important subject, and as I have always found you true to me—and you can only be true to me by being true to yourselves— I shall not hesitate to impart it! But for Heaven's sake!—perhaps I had better not!'
' Keep nothin' back, Henry,' said Charles, ' as you know that we boys 'll die by our principles, that's settled!'
' Yes, I wants to die right now by mine ; right heah, now !' sanctioned Andy.
40' Well it is this—close boys ! close !' when they gathered in a huddle beneath an underbush, upon their knees, ' you both go with me, but not now. I—'
' Why not now ?' anxiously enquired Charles.
' Dat's wat I like to know!' responded Andy.
' Stop boys, till I explain. The plans are mine and you must allow me to know more about them than you. Just here, for once, the slave-holding preacher's advice to the black man is appropriate, " Stand still and see the salvation." '
' Then let us hear it, Henry,' asked Charles.
45' Fah God sake !' said Andy, ' let us heah w'at it is, anyhow, Henry ; yeh keep a body in 'spence so long, till I's mose crazy to heah it. Dat's no way !'
' You shall have it, but I approach it with caution ! Nay, with fear and trembling, at the thought of what has been the fate of all previous matters of this kind. I approach it with religious fear, and hardly think us fit for the task; at least, I know I am not. But as no one has ever originated, or given us anything of the kind, I suppose I may venture.'
' Tell it! tell it!' urged both in a whisper.
' Andy,' said Henry, ' let us have a word of prayer first!' when they bowed low, with their heads to the ground, Andy, who was a preacher of the Baptist pursuasion among his slave brethren, offering a solemn and affecting prayer, in whispers to the Most High, to give them knowledge and courage in the undertaking, and success in the effort.
Rising from their knees, Andy commenced an anthem, by which he appeared to be much affected, in the following words:
50' About our future destiny, There need be none debate—
Whilst we ride on the tide,
With our Captain and his mate.'
Clasping each other by the hand, standing in a band together, as a plight of their union and fidelity to each other, Henry said—
' I now impart to you the secret, it is this : I have laid a scheme, and matured a plan for a general insurrection of the slaves in every State, and the successful overthrow of slavery !'
55' Amen !' exclaimed Charles.
' God grant it!' responded Andy.
'Tell us, Henry, how's dis to be carried out?' enquired Andy.
' That's the thing which most concerns me, as it seems that it would be hard to do in the present ignorant state of our people in the slave States,' replied Charles.
' Dat's jis wat I feah !' said Andy.
60' This difficulty is obviated. It is so simple that the most stupid among the slaves will understand it as well as if he had been instructed for a year.'
' What!' exclaimed Charles.
' Let's heah dat aghin!' asked Andy.
'It is so just as I told you ! So simple is it that the trees of the forest or an orchard illustrate it; flocks of birds or domestic cattle, fields of corn hemp or sugar cane ; tobacco rice or cotton, the whistling of the wind, rustling of the leaves, flashing of lightning, roaring of thunder, and running of streams all keep it constantly before their eyes and in their memory, so that they cant forget it if they would.'
' Are we to know it now ?' enquired Charles.
65' I'm boun' to know it dis night befo' I goes home, 'case I been longin' fah ole Pottah dis many day, an' uh mos' think uh got 'im now !'
' Yes boys, you've to know it before we part, but—'
'That's the talk !' said Charles.
' Good nuff talk fah me !' responded Andy.
' As I was about to say, such is the character of this organization, that punishment and misery are made the instruments for its propagation, so—'
70' I cant understan' that part—'
' You know nothing at all about it Charles, and you must—'
' Stan' still an' see da salvation !' interrupted Andy.
' Amen !' responded Charles.
' God help you so to do, brethren !' admonished Henry.
75' Go on Henry tell us ! give it to us !' they urged.
' Every blow you receive from the oppressor impresses the organization upon your mind, making it so clear that even Whitehead's Jack could understand it as well as his master.'
' We are satisfied ! The secret, the secret!' they importuned.
' Well then, first to prayer, and then to the organization. Andy !' said Henry, nodding to him, when they again bowed low with their heads to the ground, whilst each breathed a silent prayer, which was ended with 'Amen' by Andy.
' Whilst yet upon their knees, Henry imparted to them the secrets of his organization.
80' O, dat's da thing!' exclaimed Andy.
'Capital, capital!' responded Charles, ' what fools we was that we didn't know it long ago !'
' I is mad wid myse'f now!' said Andy.
' Well, well, well! Surely God must be in the work,' continued Charles.
' 'E's heah; Heaven's nigh ! Ah feels it! it's right heah !' responded Andy, placing his hand upon his chest, the tears trickling down his cheeks.
85' Brethren,' asked Henry, ' do you understand it ?'
' Understand it? Why a child could understand, it's so easy !' replied Charles.
' Yes,' added Andy, ' ah not only undehstan' myse'f, but wid da knowledge I has uv it, ah could make Whitehead's Jack a Moses !'
' Stand still, then, and see !' said he.
' Dat's good Bible talk!' responded Andy.
90' Well, what is we to do ?' enquired Charles.
' You must now go on and organize continually. It makes no difference when, nor where you are, so that the slaves are true and trustworthy, as the scheme is adapted to all times and places.'
' How we gwine do Henry, 'bout gittin' da things 'mong da boys ?' enquired Andy.
' All you have to do, is to find one good man or woman—I dont care which, so that they prove to be the right person—on a single plantation, and hold a seclusion and impart the secret to them, and make them the organizers for their own plantation, and they in like manner impart it to some other next to them, and so on. In this way it will spread like smallpox among them.'
' Henry, you is fit fah leadah ah see,' complimentingly said Andy.
95' I greatly mistrust myself, brethren, but if I cant command, I can at least plan.'
' Is they anything else for us to do Henry?' enquired Charles.
' Yes, a very important part of your duties has yet to be stated. I now go as a runaway, and will be suspected of lurking about in the thickets, swamps and caves ; then to make the ruse complete, just as often as you think it necessary, to make a good impression, you must kill a shoat, take a lamb, pig, turkey, goose, chickens, ham of bacon from the smoke house, a loaf of bread or crock of butter from the spring house, and throw them down into the old waste well at the back of the old quarters, always leaving the heads of the fowls lying about and the blood of the larger animals. Everything that is missed do not hesitate to lay it upon me, as a runaway, it will only cause them to have the less suspicion of your having such a design.'
' That's it,—the very thing !' said Charles, ' an it so happens that they's an ole waste well on both Franks' and Potter's places, one for both of us.'
' I hope Andy, you have no religious objections to this ?'
100' It's a paut ah my 'ligion Henry, to do whateveh I bleve right, an' shall sholy do dis, God being my helpah!'
' Now he's talkin'!' said Charles.
' You must make your religion subserve your interests, as your oppressors do theirs !' advised Henry. ' They use the Scriptures to make you submit, by preaching to you the texts of " obedience to your masters" and " standing still to see the salvation," and we must now begin to understand the Bible so as to make it of interest to us.'
' Dat's gospel talk' sanctioned Andy. ' Is da anything else yeh want tell us boss—I calls 'im boss, 'case 'e aint nothing else but " boss"—so we can make 'ase an' git to wuck? 'case I feels like goin' at 'em now, me !'
' Having accomplished our object, I think I have done, and must leave you to-morrow.'
105' When shall we hear from you Henry ?' enquired Charles.
' Not until you shall see me again ; when that will be, I dont know. You may see me in six months, and might not not in eighteen. I am determined, now that I am driven to it, to complete an organization in every slave state before I return, and have fixed two years as my utmost limit.'
' Henry, tell me before we part, do you know anything about little Joe ?' enquired Charles.
'I do!'
'Wha's da chile ?' enquired Andy.
110' He's safe enough, on his way to Canada !' at which Charles and Andy laughed.
' Little Joe on 'is way to Canada ?' said Andy, ' mighty young travelah!'
' Yes,' replied Henry with a smile.
'You're a joking Henry?' said Charles, enquiringly.
' I am serious, brethren,' replied he, ' I do not joke in matters of this kind. I smiled because of Andy's surprise.'
115' How did 'e go ?' farther enquired Andy.
' In company with his " mother" who was waiting on her " mistress !" replied he quaintly.
' Eh heh!' exclaimed Andy, ' I knows all 'bout it now; but whah'd da " mammy" come f'om ?'
' I found one !'
' Aint 'e high !' said Andy.
120' Well brethren, my time is drawing to a close,' said Henry, rising to his feet.
' O!' exclaimed Andy, ' ah like to forgot, has yeh any money Henry ?'
' Have either of you any ?'
' We has?'
' How much ?'
125' I got two—three hundred dollahs!' replied Andy.
' An' so has I, Henry!' added Charles.
' Then keep it, as I have two thousand dollars now around my waist, and you'll find use for all you've got, and more, as you will before long have an opportunity of testing. Keep this studiously in mind and impress it as an important part of the scheme of organization, that they must have money, if they want to get free. Money will obtain them every thing necessary by which to obtain their liberty. The money is within all of their reach if they only knew it was right to take it. God told the Egyptian slaves to " borrow from their neighbors"—meaning their oppressors—"all their jewels;" meaning to take their money and wealth wherever they could lay hands upon it, and depart from Egypt. So you must teach them to take all the money they can get from their masters, to enable them to make the strike without a failure. I'll show you when we leave for the North, what money will do for you, right here in Mississippi. Bear this in mind; it is your certain passport through the white gap, as I term it.'
' I means to take all ah can git; I bin doin' dat dis some time. Ev'ry time ole Pottah leave 'is money pus, I borrys some, an' 'e all'as lays it on Miss Mary, but 'e think so much uh huh, dat anything she do is right wid 'im. Ef 'e 'spected me, an' Miss Mary say 'twant me, dat would be 'nough fah 'im.'
' That's right!' said Henry, 'I see you have been putting your own interpretation on the Scriptures, Andy, and as Charles will now have to take my place, he'll have still a much better opportunity than you, to " borrow from his master."'
130' You needn't fear, I'll make good use of my time !' replied Charles.
The slaves now fell upon their knees in silent communion, all being affected to the shedding of tears, a period being put to their devotion by a sorrowful trembling of Henry's voice singing to the following touching words:
' Farewell, farewell, farewell!
My loving friends farewell!
Farewell old comrades in the cause,
135I leave you here, and journey on;
And if I never more return,
Farewell, I'm bound to meet you there!'
' One word before we part' said Charles. ' If we never should see you again, I suppose you intend to push on this scheme ?'
140Insurrection shall be my theme!
My watchword " Freedom or the grave!"
Until from Rappahannock's stream,
To where the Cuato* waters lave,
One simultaneous war cry
145Shall burst upon the midnight air!
And rouse the tyrant but to sigh—
Mid sadness, wailing, and dispair!'
Grasping each eagerly by the hand, the tears gushing from his eyes, with an humble bow, he bid them finally ' farewell!' and the runaway was off through the forest.
* A river in Cuba.
To Chapter XII

Textual Notes

1,] 59; ; 61
2,] 59; ; 61
2dan] 59; den 61
2ouahs] 59; hours 61
3,] 59; not in 61
5,] 59; ; 61
6heah] 59; hear 61
6nothin] 59; hear nothin' like 61
7,] 59; ; 61
10fom] 59; from 61
11-12?'] 59; here?' asked Henry. / 'By 61
13Henry] 59; he 61
14,] 59; ; 61
15—'] 59;61
16"] 59; ,' 61
18,'] 59; , 61
19runaway] 59; runaway 61
20,'] 59; ; ' 61
21Nah] 59; Nor 61
21nuthah] 59; nuther 61
21interupted] 59; interrupted 61
23da] 59; de 61
25,] 59; ; 61
25whah] 59; whar 61
25da] 59; de 61
27white] 59; w'ite 61
28requested] 59; required 61
28me] 59; my 61
29,] 59; ; 61
31da] 59; de 61
32couldn] 59; could 61
32t] 59; nt 61
32,] 59; . 61
33uh] 59; I 61
33'] 59; not in 61
33da] 59; de 61
36uh] 59; I 61
36haudly] 59; hardly 61
37,] 59; not in 61
37,] 59; ; 61
37not] 59; not in 61
38,] 59; ; 61
39heah] 59; hear 61
40this—close] 59; is this—close, boys! 61
40underbush] 59; underbrush 61
40,] 59; : 61
42like] 59; likes 61
43, "] 59; —" 61
45Fah] 59; For 61
45God] 59; 'For God's sake!' 61
45heah] 59; hear 61
45keep] 59; keeps 61
45heah] 59; hear 61
46anything] 59; any thing 61
48pursuasion] 59; persuasion 61
53hand] 59; hands 61
54,] 59;61
59feah] 59; fear 61
62heah] 59; hear 61
63so] 59; is so, just 61
63cant] 59; cannot 61
65fah] 59; for 61
65Pottah] 59; Potteh 61
65uh mos' think uh] 59; I 61
66ve] 59; re 61
68nuff] 59; 'nuf 61
68fah] 59; for 61
69the] 59; not in 61
72da] 59; de 61
79'] 59; not in 61
80da] 59; de 61
81,] 59; ; 61
81didn] 59; did 61
81t] 59; nt 61
84'] 59; not in 61
84heah] 59; hear 61
84Ah] 59; I 61
84heah !'] 59; hear! 61
85,] 59; ; 61
86understand, it's] 59; understand it, it's 61
87ah] 59; I 61
87da] 59; de 61
87ah] 59; I 61
92da] 59; de 61
92da] 59; de 61
94fah leadah ah] 59; for leadeh I 61
95.'] 59; . 61
96do] 59; to do, Henry?' 61
97,] 59; not in 61
97only] 59; not in 61
98,—] 59;61
98'] 59; not in 61
100ah] 59; uv 61
100helpah] 59; helpeh 61
102"] 59; not in 61
102"] 59; not in 61
103'] 59; !' 61
103want] 59; wants 61
3boss] 59; boss 61
104to-morrow] 59; tomorrow 61
106not] 59; not in 61
109Wha] 59; Whar 61
109?'] 59; !' 61
111,] 59; ; 61
111travelah] 59; traveleh 61
113,] 59; not in 61
117;] 59; , 61
117whah] 59; whar 61
117da] 59; de 61
117f'om] 59; from 61
119!'] 59; ?' 61
121ah] 59; I 61
126'] 59; not in 61
127of] 59; not in 61
3passport] 59; passport 61
3white gap] 59; white gap 61
128ah] 59; I 61
128Pottah] 59; Potteh 61
128lays] 59; lay 61
128,] 59; ; 61
128uh huh] 59; uv hur 61
128fah] 59; for 61
129,] 59; ; 61
130needn] 59; need 61
130t] 59; nt 61
138'] 59; ,' 61
147dispair] 59; despair 61