Harry stopped crying at once, and was good and quiet as a little mouse, while his mother dressed him. When he was ready, she lifted him in her arms, and crept softly out of the house.
It was a beautiful, clear, starlight night, but very cold, for it was winter-time. Eliza ran quickly to Uncle Tom’s cottage, and tapped on the window.
Aunt Chloe was not asleep, so she jumped up at once, and opened the door. She was very much astonished to see Eliza standing there with Harry in her arms. Uncle Tom followed her to the door, and was very much astonished too.
‘I’m running away, Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe—carrying off my child,’ said Eliza. ‘Master sold him.’
‘Sold him?’ they both echoed, lifting up their hands in dismay.
‘Yes, sold him,’ said Eliza. ’I heard master tell missis that he had sold my Harry, and you, Uncle Tom. The man is coming to take you away to-morrow.’
At first Tom could hardly believe what he heard. Then he sank down, and buried his face in his hands.
‘The good Lord have pity on us!’ said Aunt Chloe. ’What has Tom done that master should sell him?’
’He hasn’t done anything—it isn’t for that. Master don’t want to sell; but he owes this man money. If he doesn’t pay him it will end in his having to sell the house and all the slaves. Master said he was sorry. But missis she talked like an angel. I’m a wicked girl to leave her so, but I can’t help it. It must be right; but if it an’t right, the good Lord will forgive me, for I can’t help doing it.
‘Tom,’ said Aunt Chloe, ‘why don’t you go too? There’s time.’
Tom slowly raised his head and looked sorrowfully at her.
‘No, no,’ he said. ’Let Eliza go. It is right that she should try to save her boy. Mas’r has always trusted me, and I can’t leave him like that. It is better for me to go alone than for the whole place to be sold. Mas’r isn’t to blame, Chloe. He will take care of you and the poor—’
Tom could say no more. Big man though he was, he burst into tears, at the thought of leaving his wife and dear little children, never to see them any more.
‘Aunt Chloe,’ said Eliza, in a minute or two, ’I must go. I saw my husband to-day. He told me he meant to run away soon, because his master is so cruel to him. Try to send him a message from me. Tell him I have run away to save our boy. Tell him to come after me if he can. Good-bye, good-bye. God bless you!’
Then Eliza went out again into the dark night with her little boy in her arms, and Aunt Chloe shut the door softly behind her.
THE MORNING AFTER
Next morning, when it was discovered that Eliza had run away with her little boy, there was great excitement and confusion all over the house.
Mrs. Shelby was very glad. ‘Thank God!’ she said. ’I hope Eliza will get right away. I could not bear to think of Harry being sold to that cruel man.’