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“I know what you would say.
Do not say it, for you slew only in self-defence."
“But I will be hanged if found."
“You shall not be found. Heaven help me, if I shield a real criminal from justice; but he who strikes a blow for liberty is worthy of aid.”
After the fugitive had in a measure satisfied his hunger, Robert said:
“You will need sleep and rest, after which you must prepare for a long journey.”
“Whither shall I go?”
“To Massachusetts. I have relatives in Salem, where you will be safe.”
He repeated the word as if it were a glorious dream-a vision never to be realized.
“Yes, you will be safe; but as you must make the journey through a vast forest, you will need to be refreshed by rest and food.”
The wild-eyed fugitive, with his face haggard as death, seized the arm of his benefactor and said:
• They will come and slay me as I sleep."
“Fear not, my unfortunate brother, for I will put you in a chamber where none save myself shall know of you."
“And my child?”
thing to the man who had promised to save him. He was led up two flights of stairs, when they came to a ladder reaching to an attic, and they went up this attic ladder to a chamber, where there was a narrow bed, with soft, clean sheets and pillows, the first the prisoner had seen in the New World.
“You can sleep here in perfect security," said Robert. “I will see that you are not molested by
The wayworn traveller threw himself on the bed and fell asleep.
Stevens went below and told his wife of the fugitive. Ester Stevens was the daughter of General Goffe, the regicide, who had been hunted for years by Charles II. for signing the death warrant of the king's father and serving in the army of Oliver Cromwell, and Mrs. Stevens could sympathize with a political fugitive. They ran some risk in keeping him in their house; but as a majority of the colonists had been in sympathy with the Duke of Monmouth, for James II. had few friends in Virginia and Thomas Hull none, their risk was not as great as it might seem.
The fugitive late next day awoke, and Robert carried his breakfast to him. The colony was wild with excitement over the escape of an indented slave and the killing of the overseer. Thomas
Hull represented the crime to be as heinous as possible, to arouse a sympathy for himself and a hatred for the escaped slave. Some people were outspoken in the belief that the escaped slave should be killed; others were in sympathy with him. They reasoned that Hull had been a hard master, and that this poor fellow was no criminal, but a patriot, for which he had been adjudged to ten years' penal servitude.
Many of the searchers came to the mansion house of Stevens; but he managed to put them off the track.
For five days and nights George Waters remained in the attic. On the sixth night Robert Stevens came to him and said:
“You must now set out on your journey.”
Here is a suit of clothes more befitting one of your rank and station, than the garb of an indented slave.” He placed a riding suit with top boots and hat in the apartment. When he had attired himself, Robert next brought him some arms, a splendid gun and a brace of pistols of the best make.
“You may have need of these,” said the planter. . “You will also find holsters in the saddle."
" And does Cora know of this?” “I have told her all.”
The father shuddered. In the pride of his soul, he remembered that he was a slave, had felt the lash, and was humiliated.
Under a wide-spreading chestnut near the planter's mansion, stood three horses ready saddled. A faithful negro slave was holding them, and the little maid, clothed for a long journey, awaited her father's arrival. A fourth horse was near on which were a pack of provisions and a small camping outfit.
The father and child met and embraced in silence, and, had she not felt a tear on her face, she would hardly have known that he was so greatly agitated.
“We will mount and be far on the journey before the day dawns," said Robert.
“Do you go with us?” asked George Waters.
“Certainly. I know the country and will guide you beyond danger.”
They mounted and travelled all night long. At early dawn, they halted only to refresh themselves with a cold breakfast, and pushed on.
Three days Robert journeyed with them, and then, on the border of Maryland, he halted and told them of a land now within their reach, where the Quakers dwelt. There they might rest until they were able to go to Massachusetts.
He gave a purse
of gold to the father, saying: “Take it, and may God be as good to you as he has been to me.”
The fugitive murmured out some words of thanks; but his benefactor wheeled his steed about and galloped away, lest the words of gratitude might fall on his ears.
"Let us go on, father,” said Cora.
For days, Cora Waters could never tell how long, they journeyed, until at last, on the banks of the Delaware, they came upon a small town where dwelt a people at peace with all the world—the Quakers, and the tired child and her father were taken in, given food and shelter, Christian sympathy, and assured of safety.