The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,197 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.
while Charles had no reason to think that he was sought by the old intruder, his very near approach admonished him that it would neither be safe nor agreeable to allow him to come nearer.  Charles remembering that his trick of playing the dog, when previously in danger under the hotel, had served a good end, thought that it would work well in the thicket.  So he again tried his power at growling and barking hideously for a moment or two, which at once caused the man to turn his course.  Charles could hear him distinctly retreating, and at the same time cursing the dog.  The owner of the place had the reputation of keeping “bad dogs,” so the old man poured out a dreadful threat against “Stephens’ dogs,” and was soon out of the reach of the one in the thicket.

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Notwithstanding his success in frightening off the old man, CHARLES felt that the thicket was by no means a safe place for him.  He concluded to make another change.  This time he sought a marsh; two hours’ stay there was sufficient to satisfy him, that that too was no place to tarry in, even for a single night.  He, therefore, left immediately.  A third time, he returned to the hotel, where he remained only two days.  His appeals had at last reached the heart of his mother—­she could no longer bear to see him struggling, and suffering, and not render him aid, whatever the consequences might be.  If she at first feared to lend him a helping hand, she now resolutely worked with a view of saving money to succor him.  Here the prospect began to brighten.

A passage was secured for him on a steamer bound for Philadelphia.  One more day, and night must elapse, ere he could be received on board.  The joyful anticipations which now filled his breast left no room for fear; indeed, he could scarcely contain himself; he was drunk with joy.  In this state of mind he concluded that nothing would afford him more pleasure before leaving, than to spend his last hours at the wash house, “under the floor.”  To this place he went with no fear of hunters before his eyes.  Charles had scarcely been three hours in this place, however, before three officers came in search of him.  Two of them talked with Isabella, asked her about her “boarders,” etc.; in the meanwhile, one of them uninvited, made his way up stairs.  It so happened, that Charles was in this very portion of the house.  His case now seemed more hopeless than ever.  The officer up stairs was separated from him simply by a thin curtain.  Women’s garments hung all around.  Instead of fainting or surrendering, in the twinkling of an eye, Charles’ inventive intellect, led him to enrobe himself in female attire.  Here, to use his own language, a “thousand thoughts” rushed into his mind in a minute.  The next instant he was going down stairs in the presence of the officers, his old calico dress, bonnet and rig, attracting no further attention than simply to elicit the following simple questions:  “Whose gal are you?” “Mr. Cockling’s, sir.”  “What is your name?” “Delie, sir.”  “Go on then!” said one of the officers, and on Charles went to avail himself of the passage on the steamer which his mother had procured for him for the sum of thirty dollars.

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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