The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

About the 4th of July, 1856, a message reached the Secretary that a schooner containing fifteen Underground Rail Road passengers, from Norfolk, Virginia, would be landed near League Island, directly at the foot of Broad street, that evening at a late hour, and a request accompanied the message, to the effect that the Committee would be on hand to receive them.  Accordingly the Secretary procured three carriages, with trustworthy drivers, and between ten and eleven o’clock at night arrived on the banks of the Schuylkill, where all was quiet as a “country grave-yard.”  The moon was shining and soon the mast of a schooner was discovered.  No sign of any other vessel was then in sight.  On approaching the bank, in the direction of the discovered mast, the schooner was also discovered.  The hearts of those on board were swelling with unutterable joy; yet even at that dead hour of night, far away from all appearance of foes, no one felt at liberty to give vent to his feelings other than in a whisper.  The name of the captain and schooner being at once recognized, the first impulse was to jump down on the deck.  Upon second view it was seen that the descent was too great to admit of such a feat.  In a moment we concluded that we could pull them up the embankment from the deck by taking hold of their hands as they stood on tip toe.

One after another was pulled up, and warmly greeted, until it came the turn of a large object, weighing about two hundred and sixty pounds, full large enough to make two ordinary women.  The captain, who had experienced much inconvenience with her on the voyage, owing to the space she required chuckled over the fact that the Committee would have their hands full for once.  Poor Mrs. Walker, however, stretched out her large arms, we seized her hands vigorously; the captain laughing heartily as did the other passengers at the tug now being made.  We pulled with a will, but Mrs. Walker remained on the deck.  A one horse power was needed.  The pullers took breath, and again took hold, this time calling upon the captain to lay-to a helping hand; the captain prepared to do so, and as she was being raised, he having a good foot-hold, placed himself in a position for pushing to the full extent of his powers, and thus she was safely landed.  All being placed in the carriages, they were driven to the station and comfortably provided for.

On the voyage they had encountered more than the usual dangers.  Indeed troubles began with them before they had set sail from Norfolk.  The first indication of danger manifested itself as they stood on the bank of the river awaiting the arrival of a small boat which had been engaged to row them to the schooner.  Although they had sought as they supposed a safe place, sufficiently far from the bounds usually traversed by the police; still, in the darkness, they imagined they heard watchmen coming.  Just on the edge of the river, opposite where they were waiting, a boat under repairs was in the stocks.  In order

Project Gutenberg
The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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