Chapter XXVIII: The Fugitives

With much apprehension, Henry and comrades passed hastily through the State of Arkansas, he having previously traversed it partly, had learned sufficient to put him on his guard.
Traveling in the night, to avoid the day, the progress was not equal to the emergency. Though Henry carried a pocket compass, they kept in sight of the Mississippi river, to take their chance of the first steamer passing by.
The third night out, being Monday, at day-break in the morning, their rest for the day was made at a convenient point within the verge of a forest. Suddenly Charles gave vent to hearty laughter, at a time when all were supposed to be serious, having the evening past, been beset by a train of three negro dogs, which, having first been charmed, they slew at the instant; the dogs probably not having been sent on trail of them, but, after the custom of the state, baying on a general round to intimidate the slaves from clandestinely venturing out, and to attack such runaways as might by chance be found in their track.
' Wat's da mauttah Chauls?' enquired Andy.
5' I was just thinking,' replied he, 'of the sight of three high conjurers, who if Ghamus and Gholar be true, can do anything they please, having to escape by night, and travel in the wild woods, to evade the pursuit of white men, who do not pretend to know anything about sich things.'
' Dat's a fack,' added Andy, ' an' little, scronny triflin' weak, white men at dat—any one uv us heah, ought to whip two or three uv 'em at once. Dares Hugh's a little bit a feller, I could take 'im in one han' an' throw 'im oveh my head, an' ole Pottah, for his paut, he so ole an' good foh nothin, I could whip wid one hand half a dozen like 'im.
' Now you see, boys,' said Henry, 'how much conjuration and such foolishness and stupidity is worth to the slaves in the South. All that it does, is to but money into the pockets of the pretended conjurer, give him power over others by making them afraid of him; and even old Gamby Gholar and Maudy Ghamus and the rest of the 'Seven Heads,' with all of the high conjurers in the Dismal Swamp, are depending more upon me to deliver them from their confinement as prisoners in the Swamp and runaway slaves, than all their combined efforts together. I made it a special part of my mission wherever I went, to enlighten them on this subject.'
'I wandah you didn't fend 'em,' replied Andy.
'No danger of that, since having so long, to no purpose, depended upon such persons and nonsense, they are sick at heart of them, and waiting willing and ready, for anything which may present for their aid, even to the destruction of their long cherished, silly nonsense of conjuration.'
10'Thang God foh dat!' concluded Andy.
Charles having fallen asleep, Andy became the sentinel of the party, as it was the arrangement for each one alternately, every two hours during rest, to watch while the other two slept. Henry having next fallen into a doze, Andy heard a cracking among the bushes, when on looking around, two men approached them. Being fatigued, drowsy, and giddy, he became much alarmed, arousing his comrades, all springing to their feet. The men advanced, who, to their gratification proved to be Eli and Ambrose, two Arkansas slaves, who having promised to meet Henry on his return, had effected their escape immediately after first meeting him, lurking in the forest in the direction which he had laid out to take.
Eli was so fair as to be taken, when first seen to be a white man. Throwing their arms about Henry, they bestowed upon him their blessing and thanks, for his advent into the State as the means of their escape.
While thus exchanging gratulations, the approach up stream of a steamer was heard, and at once Henry devised the expedient, and determined boldly to hail her and demand a passage. Putting Eli forward as the master, Ambrose carrying the ports manteau which belonged to the two, and the others with bundles in their hands, all rushed to the bank of the river on the verge of the thicket; Eli held up a handkerchief as a signal. The bell tolled, and the yawl immediately lowered, made for the shore. It was agreed that Eli should be known as Major Ely, of Arkansas.
Seeing that blacks were of the company, when the yawl approached, the mate stood upon her forecastle.
15' What's the faction here ?' cried out the sturdy mate.
' Where are you bound?' enquired Eli.
'For St. Louis.'
' Can I get a passage for myself and four negroes?'
' What's the name, sir?'
20' Major Ely, of Arkansas,' was the reply.
' Aye, aye, sir come aboard,' said the mate ; when, pulling away, the steamer was soon reached, the slaves going to the deck, and the master to the cabin.
On application for a state room, the clerk, on learning the name, desired to know his destination.
' The State of Missouri, sir,' said Eli, ' between the points of the mouth of the Ohio and St. Genevieve.'
' Ely,' repeated the clerk, ' I've heard that name before—it's a Missouri name—any relation to Dr. Ely, Major?'
25' Yes, a brother's son,' was the prompt reply.
' Yes, yes, I thought I knew the name,' replied the clerk, ' but the old fellow wasn't quite of your way of thinking, concerning negroes, I believe ?'
'No, he is one man, and I'm another, and he may go his way, and I'll go mine,' replied Eli.
' That's the right feeling, Major,' replied the clerk, ' and we would have a much healthier state of politics in the country, if men generally would only agree to act on that principle.'
' It has ever been my course,' said Eli.
30' Peopling a new farm, I reckon major?'
' Yes sir.'
The master, keeping a close watch upon the slaves, was frequently upon deck among them, and requested that they might be supplied with more than common fare for slaves, he sparing no expense to make them comfortable. The slaves, on their part, appeared to be particularly attached to him, always smiling when he approached, apparently regretting when he left for the cabin.
Meanwhile, the steamer gracefully plowing up the current, making great headway, reached the point desired, when the master and slaves were safely transferred from the steamer to the shore of Missouri.
To Chapter XXIX

Textual Notes

1had] 59; and 62
2Traveling] 59; Travelling 62
2,] 59; not in 62
2Henry] 59; he 62
3,] 59; not in 62
3,] 59; not in 62
3negro dogs] 59; negro-dogs 62
4da mauttah] 59; de matteh, 62
4enquired] 59; inquired 62
5,] 59; not in 62
5sich] 59; such 62
6,] 59; ; 62
6scronny] 59; little, scronny, triflin', 62
6'] 59; ', 62
6, white] 59; wite 62
6one] 59; not in 62
6heah,] 59; hear 62
6whip] 59; wip 62
6Dares Hugh] 59; Dare 62
6Hugh's] 59; Dare's Hughs, a 62
6Pottah,] 59; Potteh' 62
6foh] 59; for 62
6,] 59; ,' 62
6whip] 59; wip 62
6hand] 59; han' 62
6.] 59; .' 62
7,] 59; ; 62
7stupidity] 59; nonsense 62
7,] 59; not in 62
7but] 59; put 62
7of] 59; not in 62
8wandah] 59; wondeh 62
8t fend] 59; not in 62
8'em,'] 59; didn' 'feud 'em,' replied 62
8Andy] 59; Audy 62
9willing] 59; willingly 62
9,] 59; not in 62
10foh] 59; for 62
10!'] 59; !, 62
11,] 59; not in 62
11comrades] 59; companions 62
11which] 59; not in 62
12blessing] 59; blessings 62
12State] 59; the State, as 62
13ports] 59; porte 62
13held] 59; holding 62
13known] 59; knowh 62
13as] 59; as 'Major Ely' 62
13,] 59; ' 62
16enquired] 59; inquired 62
20,] 59; not in 62
21sir] 59; aye, sir, come 62
21to the] 59; on 62
22,] 59; not in 62
23,] 59; ; 62
24,] 59; ; 62
24it's] 59; its 62
26, '] 59; ; " 62
27,] 59; not in 62
28,] 59; ; 62
30,] 59; not in 62
30major] 59; , Major 62
31.'] 59; ., 62
32might] 59; not in 62
33,] 59; not in 62