The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,197 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

The governor and his wife were both equally severe towards them; would stint them shamefully in clothing and food, though they did not get flogged quite as often as some others on neighboring plantations.  Frequently, the governor would be out on the plantation from early in the morning till noon, inspecting the operations of the overseers and slaves.

In order to serve the governor, William had been separated from his wife by sale, which was the cause of his escape.  He parted not with his companion willingly.  At the time, however, he was promised that he should have some favors shown him;—­could make over-work, and earn a little money, and once or twice in the year, have the opportunity of making visits to her.  Two hundred miles was the distance between them.

He had not been long on the governor’s plantation before his honor gave him distinctly to understand that the idea of his going two hundred miles to see his wife was all nonsense, and entirely out of the question.  “If I said so, I did not mean it,” said his honor, when the slave, on a certain occasion, alluded to the conditions on which he consented to leave home, etc.

Against this cruel decision of the governor, William’s heart revolted, for he was warmly attached to his wife, and so he made up his mind, if he could not see her “once or twice a year even,” as he had been promised, he had rather “die,” or live in a “cave in the wood,” than to remain all his life under the governor’s yoke.  Obeying the dictates of his feelings, he went to the woods.  For ten months before he was successful in finding the Underground Road, this brave-hearted young fugitive abode in the swamps—­three months in a cave—­surrounded with bears, wild cats, rattle-snakes and the like.

While in the swamps and cave, he was not troubled, however, about ferocious animals and venomous reptiles.  He feared only man!

From his own story there was no escaping the conclusion, that if the choice had been left to him, he would have preferred at any time to have encountered at the mouth of his cave a ferocious bear than his master, the governor of North Carolina.  How he managed to subsist, and ultimately effected his escape, was listened to with the deepest interest, though the recital of these incidents must here be very brief.

After night he would come out of his cave, and, in some instances, would succeed in making his way to a plantation, and if he could get nothing else, he would help himself to a “pig,” or anything else he could conveniently convert into food.  Also, as opportunity would offer, a friend of his would favor him with some meal, etc.  With this mode of living he labored to content himself until he could do better.  During these ten months he suffered indescribable hardships, but he felt that his condition in the cave was far preferable to that on the plantation, under the control of his Excellency, the Governor.  All this time, however, William

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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