Chapter XIX: Come What Will

Leaving the plantation of Crane with high hopes and great confidence in the integrity of uncle Moses and the maiden gang of cotton girls, Henry turned his course in a retrograde direction so as again to take the stream of Red River. Little River where he then was, being but a branch of that water.
Just below its confluence with the larger stream, at the moment when he reached the junction, a steam cotton trader hove in view. There was no alternative but to stand like a freeman, or suddenly escape into the forest, thus creating suspicions and fears, as but a few days previous a French planter of the neighborhood lost a desperate slave, who became a terror to the country around. The master was compelled to go continually armed, as also other white neighbors, and all were afraid after nightfall, to pass out the threshold of their own doors. Permission was given to every white man to shoot him if ever seen within rifle shot, which facts having learned the evening before, Henry was armed with this precaution.
His dress being that of a race-groom—small leather cap with long front piece, neat fitting roundabout, high boots drawn over the pantaloon legs, with blanket, girth, halter, whip and bridle—Henry stood upon the shore awaiting the vessel.
'Well boy!' hailed the captain as
5the line was thrown out, which he caught making fast at the root of a tree ; ' do you wish to come aboard !'
' Good man !' approvingly cried the mate, at the expert manner which he caught the line and tied the sailor knot.
' Have you ever steamboated my man ?' continued the captain.
' Yes sir,' replied Henry.
' Where?'
10' On the Upper and Lower Mississippi sir.'
'Whom do you know as masters of steamers on the Upper Mississippi ?'
' Captains Thogmorton, Price, Swan, and—'
' Stop, stop ! that'll do,' interrupted the captain ; ' you know the master of every steamer in the trade I believe. Now who in the Lower trade ?'
' Captains Scott, Hart, and—'
15' What's Captain Hart's Christian name ?' interrupted the captain.
' Jesse, sir.'
' That'll do; be George you know every body ! do you want to ship ?'
' No sir.'
' What are you doing here ?'
20' I hunting master's stray race horse.'
' Your ' master's' race horse ! Are you a slave boy ?'
' Yes sir.'
' How did you come to be on the Mississippi River ?'
' I hired my time sir.'
25' Yes, yes, boy, I see !'
' Who is your master ?'
' Colonel Sheldon; I used to belong to Major Gilmire.'
' Are you the boy Nepp, the great horse trainer the Major used to own ?'
' No sir, I'm his son.'
30' Are you as good at training horses as the old chap ?'
' They call me better, sir.'
' Then you're worth your weight in gold. Will your master sell you ?'
' I dont know sir.'
' How did your horse come to get away ?'
35' He was bought from the major by Colonel Sheldon to run at the great
Green Wood Races, Texas, and while training he managed to get away, leaping the fences, and taking to the forest.'
' Then you're major Tom's race rider Gilbert! eh heh, yes, yes ! You're a valuable boy ; I wonder the major parted with you.'
The bell having rung for dinner, the captain left, Henry going to the deck.
Among those on deck was a bright mulatto young man, who immediately recognized Henry as having seen him on the Upper Mississippi, he being a free man. On going up to him, Henry observed that he was laden with heavy manacles.
40' Have I not seen you somewhere before ?' enquired he.
' Yes ; my name is Lewis Grimes, you saw me on the Upper Mississippi,' replied the young man; 'your name in Henry Holland!'
' What have you been doing?' enquired Henry, on seeing the hand¬cuffs.
' Nothing at all!' replied he with eyes flashing resentment and suffused with tears.
' What does this mean ?' continued he, pointing at the handcuffs.
45' I am stolen and now being taken to Texas, where I am to be enslaved for life !' replied Lewis sobbing aloud.
' Who did this vile deed ?' continued Henry in a low tone of voice, pressing his lips to suppress his feelings.
' One Dr. Johns of Texas, now a passenger on this boat !'
' Was that the person who placed a glass to your lips which you refused, just as I came aboard ?'
' Yes, that's the man.'
50' Why dont you leave him instantly ?' said Henry, his breast heaving with emotion.
'Because he always handcuffs me before the boat lands, keeping me so during the time she lies ashore.'
' Why don't you jump overboard when the boat is under way ?'
' Because he guards me with a heavy loaded rifle, and I can't get a chance.'
' He ' guards' you! ' you cant get a chance!' Are there no nights, and does he never sleep ?'
55' Yes, but he makes me sleep in the state room with him, keeping his rifle at his bedside.'
' Are you never awake when he's asleep ?'
' Often, but I'm afraid to stir lest he wakens.'
' Well dont you submit, die first if thereby you must take another into eternity with you ! Were it my case and he ever went to sleep where I was, he'd never waken in this world !'
' I never thought of that before, I shall take your advice the first opportunity. Good by sir !' hastily said the young man, as the bell tapped a signal to start, and Henry stepped on shore.
60' Let go that line!' sternly commanded the captain, Henry obeying orders on the shore, when the boat glided steadily up the stream, seemingly in unison with the lively though rude and sorrowful song of the black firemen—
' I'm a goin to Texas—O! O-O-O !
I'm a goin to Texas, O ! O-O-O !'
Having in consequence of the scarcity of spring houses and larders along his way in so level and thinly settled country, Henry took in his pouch from the cook of the boat, an ample supply of provisions for the succeeding four or five days. Thus provided for, standing upon the bank for a few minutes, with steady gaze listening to the sad song of his oppressed brethren as they left the spot, and reflecting still more on the miserable fate of the young mulatto freeman Lewis Grimes held by the slave-holder Dr. Johns of Texas, he with renewed energy, determined that nothing short of an interference by Divine Providence should stop his plans and progress. In soliloquy said Henry:
65If every foe stood martialed in the ran,
I'd fight them single combat, man to man !' and again he started with a manly will, as fixed and determined in his purpose as though no obstructions lay in his pathway.
From plantation to plantation did he go, sowing the seeds of future devastation and ruin to the master and redemption to the slave, an antecedent more terrible in its anticipation, than the warning voice of the destroying Angel, in commanding the slaughter of the first born of Egypt. Himself careworn, distressed and hungry, who just being supplied with nourishment for the system, Henry went forth a welcome messenger, casting his bread upon the turbid waters of oppression, in hopes of finding it after many days.
Holding but one seclusion on each plantation, his progress was consequently very rapid, in whatever direction he went.
With a bold stride from Louisiana, he went into Texas. Here he soon met with the man of his wishes. This presented in the person of Sampson, on the cotton place of proprietor Richardson. The master here though represented wealthy, with an accomplished and handsome young daughter, was a silly, stupid old dolt, an inordinate blabber and wine bibber. The number of his slaves was said to be great and he the owner of three plantations, one in Alabama, and the others in Texas.
70Sampson was a black, tall, stoutly built, and manly, possessing much general intelligence, and a good looking person. His wife a neat, intelligent, handsome little woman, the complexion of himself, was the mother of a most interesting family of five pretty children, three boys and two girls. This family entered at once into the soul of his mission, seeming to have anticipated it.
With an ample supply of means,* buried in a convenient well marked spot, he only awaited a favourable opportunity to effect his escape from slavery. With what anxiety did that wife gaze smilingly in his face,and a boy and girl cling tightly each to a knee, as this husband and father in whispers recounted his plans and determination of carrying them out. The scheme of Henry was at once committed to his confidence, and he requested to impart them wherever he went.
Richardson was a sportsman and Sampson his body servant, they traveled through every part of the country, thus affording the greatest opportunity for propagating the measures of the secret organization. From Portland in Maine to Galveston in Texas, Sampson was as familiar as a civil engineer.
' Sampson, Sampson, stand by me ! Stand by me my man ; stand at your master's back!' was the language of this sottish old imbecile to his faithful manly attendant,whom he kept continually upon his feet for hours at a time when reveling at a gambling table, and who from excessive fatigue would sometimes squat or sit down upon the floor behind him. ' Sampson, Sampson ! are you there ? Stand by your master Sampson !' again would he exclaim, so soon as the tall commanding form of his black protector was missed from his sight.
Sampson and wife were both pious people, believing much in the providence of God, he, as he said having recently had it' shown to' him—meaning a presentiment—that a messenger would come to him and reveal the plan of deliverance.
75' I am glad to see that you have money,' said Henry ; ' you are thereby well qualified for your mission. With money you may effect your escape almost at any time. Your most difficult point is an elevated obstruction, a mighty hill, a mountain ; but through that hill there is a gap ; and money is your passport through that White Gap to freedom. Mark that. It is the great range of White mountains and White river which are before you, and the White Gap that you must pass through to reach the haven of safety. Money alone will carry you through the White mountains or across the White river to liberty.'
' Brother my eyes is open, and my way clear!' responded Sampson to this advice.
' Then,' said Henry; 'you are ready to ' rise and shine' for—'
' My light has come !' interrupted Sampson ; ' but—'
' The glory of God' is not yet shed abroad !'* concluded Henry, who fell upon Sampson's neck with tears of joy in meeting unexpectedly one of his race so intelligent in that region of country.
80Sampson and wife Dursie, taking Henry by the hand wept aloud, looking upon him as the messenger of deliverance foreshown to them.
Kneeling down a fervent prayer was offered by Sampson for Henry's protection by the way, and final success in his ' mighty plans,' with many Amens and ' God grants,' by Dursie.
Partaking of a sumptuous fare on ' ash cake' and sweet milk—a dainty diet with many slaves—and bidding with a trembling voice and tearful eye a final ' Farewell!' in six hours he had left the state of Texas to the consequences of a deep laid scheme for a terrible insurrection.
* This person had really $2,000 in gold, securely hid away unknown to any person but his wife, until showing it to the writer.
* A real incident which took place between a slave and a free black adviser.
To Chapter XX

Textual Notes

2,] 59; not in 61
3roundabout] 59; roundjacket 61
3girth] 59; girt 61
5!'] 59; ?' 61
11Whom] 59; Who 61
12,] 59; ; 61
13!] 59; : 61
16Jesse] 59; Jacob 61
17every body] 59; everybody 61
17do] 59; Do 61
20I] 59; 'I am hunting 61
25!'] 59; .' 61
29.'] 59; ?' 61
30at] 59; at horse training 61
30horses] 59; not in 61
35major] 59; Major 61
37major] 59; Major 61
37major] 59; Major 61
41in] 59; is 61
42hand¬cuffs] 59; handcuffs 61
56's] 59; is 61
58-59world] 59; world again!' / 'I 61
59by] 59; bye 61
61O-O-O] 59; O-O 61
61-62O !] 59; ! O-O! / 'I'm 61
62-63O-O-O !' / Having in] 59; O-O! / In 61
63,] 59; not in 61
65martialed] 59; marshalled 61
65ran] 59; van 61
67Himself careworn] 59; Careworn 61
67who just being] 59; scarcely justb eing 61
69blabber] 59; b abber 61
70handsome] 59; not in 61
71favourable] 59; favorable 61
72was] 59; being 61
73and] 59; not in 61
73master] 59; your master, Sampson!' 61
74he,] 59; not in 61
74'] 59; not in 61
74—] 59; '— 61
74to him] 59; not in 61
136money[...] White Gap[...] White[...] White[...] White] 59; no italics; 61
76way] 59; way is clear!' 61
79'] 59; not in 61
80Dursie] 59; Drusie 61
81Dursie] 59; Drusie 61
82on] 59; of 61