« VorigeDoorgaan »
"Heaps on 'em," said Sam, triumphantly; "thar's Bruno-he's a roarer! and, besides that, 'bout every nigger of us keeps a pup of some natur' or uther."
"Poh!" said Haley and he said something else, too, with regard to the said dogs, at which Sam muttered,
I don't see no use cussin' on 'em, noway."
"But your master don't keep no dogs (I pretty much know he don't) for trackin' out niggers?"
Sam knew exactly what he meant, but he kept on a look of earnest and desperate simplicity.
"Our dogs all smells round considerable sharp. I 'spect they's the kind, though they han't never had no practice. They's far dogs, though, at most anything, if you'd get 'em started. Here, Bruno," he called, whistling to the lumbering Newfoundland, who came pitching tumultuously toward them. "Come,
"You go hang!" said Haley, getting up. tumble up, now.”
Sam tumbled up accordingly, dexterously contriving to tickle Andy as he did so, which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh, greatly to Haley's indignation, who made a cut at him with his riding-whip.
"I's 'stonished at yer, Andy," said Sam, with awful gravity. "This yer's a serious busines, Andy. Yer musn't be a makin' game. This yer an't no way to help mas'r."
"I shall take the straight road to the river," said Haley, decidedly, after they had come to the boundaries of the estate. "I know the way of all of 'em— they makes tracks for the underground."
Sartin, said Sam, "dat's de idee. Mas'r Haley hits de thing right in de middle. Now, der's two roads to de river-de dirt road and der pike-which mas'r mean to take?"
Andy looked up innocently at Sam, surprised at hearing this new geographical fact, but instantly confirmed what he said by a vehement reiteration.
"'Cause," said Sam, "I'd rather be 'clined to 'magine
that Lizzy'd take de dirt road, bein' it's the least travelled."
Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought up by this view of the case.
"If yer warn't both on yer such cussed liars now!" he said, contemplatively, as he pondered a moment.
The pensive, reflective tone in which this was spoken appeared to amuse Andy prodigiously, and he drew a little behind and shook so as apparently to run a great risk of falling off his horse, while Sam's face was immovably composed into the most doleful gravity.
"Course," said Sam, “mas'r can do as he'd ruther; go de straight road, if mas'r thinks best-it's all one to us. Now, when I study 'pon it, I think de straight road de best, deridedly."
"She would naturally go a lonesome way," said Haley, thinking aloud, and not minding Sam's remark.
"Dar a'nt no sayin'," said Sam; " gals is pecular. They never does nothin' ye thinks they will; mose gen'lly the contrar. Gals is nat❜lly made contrary; and So, if you thinks they've gone one road, it is sartin cou'd better go t'other, and then you'll be sure to find 'em. Now, my private 'pinion is, Lizzy took dirt road; so I think we'd better take de straight one."
This profound generic view of the female sex did not seem to dispose Haley particularly to the straight road; and he announced decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam when they should come to it.
"A little piece a-head," said Sam, giving a wink to Andy, with the eye which was on Andy's side of the head; and, he added, gravely, "but I've [studded on de matter, and I'm quite clar we ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no way. It's despit lonesome, and we might lose our way—whar we'd come to, de Lord only knows."
"Nevertheless," said Haley, "I shall go that way." "Now I think on't, I think I hearn 'em tell that dat ar road was all fenced up and down by der creek, and thar; an't it, Andy?"
Andy wasn't certain, he'd only "hearn tell" about that road, but never been over it. In short, he was strictly non-committal.
Haley, accustomed to strike the balance of probabilities between lies of greater or lesser magnitude, thought that it lay in favour of the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam's part at first; and his confused attempts to dissuade him he set down to a desperate lying; on second thoughts, as being unwilling to implicate Eliza.
When, therefore, Sam indicated the road, Haley plunged briskly into it, followed by Sam and Andy. Now, the road, in fact, was an old one that had formerly been a thoroughfare to the river, but abandoned. for many years after the laying of the new pike. It was open for about an hour's ride, and after that it was cut across by various farms and fences. Sam knew this fact perfectly well; indeed, the road had been so long closed up, that Andy had never heard of it. He, therefore, rode along with an air of dutiful submission, only groaning and vociferating occasionally that "'twas desp't rough, and bad for Jerry's foot."
"Now, I jest give yer warning," said Haley, "I know yer; yer wont get me to turn off this yer road, with all yer fussin''-so you shet up!"
"Mas'r will go his own way!" said Sam, with rueful submission, at the same time winking most portentously to Andy, whose delight was now very near the explosive point.
Sam was in wonderful spirits; professed to keep a very brisk look-out-at one time exclaiming that he saw "a gal's bonnet" on the top of some distant eminence, or calling to Andy "if that thar wasn't Lizzy down in the hollow"-always making these exclamations in some rough or craggy part of the road, where the sudden quickening of speed was a special inconvenience to all parties concerned, and thus keeping Haley in a state of constant commotion,
After riding about an hour in this way, the whole party made a precipitate and tumultuous descent into a barn-yard belonging to a large farming establishment. Not a soul was in sight, all the hands being employed in the fields; but, as the barn stood conspicuously and plainly square across the road, it was evident that their journey in that direction had reached a decided finale.
"Wan't dat ar what I tell'd mas'r?" said Sam, with an air of injured innocence. "How does strange gentlemen 'spect to know more about a country dan de natives born and raised?"
"You rascal!" said Haley, "you knew all about this."
"Didn't I tell yer I know'd, and yer wouldn't believe me? I tell'd mas'r it was all shet up, and fenced up, and I didn't 'spect we could get through-Andy heard me."
It was all too true to be disputed, and the unlucky man had to pocket his wrath with the best grace he was able, and all three faced to the right about, and took up their line of march for the highway.
In consequence of all the various delays, it was about three quarters of an hour after Eliza had laid her child to sleep in the village tavern that the party came riding into the same place. Eliza was standing by the window, looking out in another direction, when Sam's quick eye caught a glimpse of her. Haley and Andy were two yards behind. At this crisis Sam contrived to have his hat blown off, and uttered a loud and characteristic ejaculation, which startled her at once, she drew suddenly back; the whole train swept by the window, round to the front door.
A thousand lives seemed to be concentrated in that one moment to Eliza. Her room opened by a side-door to the river. She caught her child, and sprang down the steps towards it. The trader caught a full glimpse of her, just as she was disappearing down the bank, and throwing himself from his horse, and calling loudly on Sam and Andy, he was after her like a hound after
deer. In that dizzy moment, her feet to her scarce seemed to touch the ground, and a moment brought her to the water's edge. Right on behind they came; and, nerved with such strength as God gives only to the desperate, with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted sheer over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft of ice beyond. It was a desperate leapimpossible to anything but madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, and Andy instinctively cried out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it.
The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her weight came on it, but she stayed there not a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to another and still another cake;-stumbling-leaping-slipping-springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone-her stockings cut from her feet-while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing, felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side, and a man helping her up the bank.
"Yer a brave gal, now, whoever ye ar!" said the
man, with an oath.
Eliza recognised the voice and face of a man who owned a farm not far from her old home.
Oh, Mr. Symmes !-save me-do save me-do hide me!" said Eliza.
Why, what's this?" said the man. Shelby's gal!"
"Why, if 'tant
"My child!-this boy-he'd sold him! There is his mas'r," said she, pointing to the Kentucky shore. "O, Mr. Symmes, you've got a little boy."
"So I have," said the man, as he roughly, but kindly, drew her up the steep bank. "Besides, you are a right brave gal. I like grit wherever I see it."
When they had gained the top of the bank, the man. paused.
"I'd be glad to do something for ye," said he, "but then there's nowhar I could take ye. The best I can