“I could only press his bony hand in token of my gratitude, while he went on to say: ’Them was beans I fired at you that day, but they sarved every purpose, and them scalliwags on the train s’pose you were put under ground weeks ago, if, indeed, you wasn’t left to rot in the sun, as heaps and heaps on ’em is. Nobody knows you are here but Bab and me, and nobody must know if you want to git off with a whole hide. I could git a hundred dollars by givin’ you up, but you don’t s’pose Jack Jennin’s is agwine to do that ar infernal trick? No, sir,’ and he brought his brawny fist down upon his knee with a force which made me tremble, while I tried to express my thanks for his great kindness. He was a noble man, Helen, while Aunt Bab, the colored woman, who nursed me so tenderly, and whose black, bony hands I kissed at parting, was as true a woman as any with a fairer skin and more beautiful exterior.
“For three weeks longer I stayed up in that loft, and in that time three more escaped prisoners were brought there, and one Union refugee from North Carolina. We left in company one wild, rainy night, when the storm and darkness must have been sent for our special protection, and Jack Jennings cried like a little child when he bade me good-by, promising, if he survived the war, to find his way to the North and visit me in New York. I should be prouder, Helen, to welcome him to our home than to entertain the Emperor of France, while Bab should have a seat at my own table, and I be honored by it. There are many such noble spirits there, and when I remember them, I wish to spare a land which I once hoped might be burned with fire until no trace was left. We found them everywhere, and especially among the mountains of Tennessee, where, but for their timely aid, we had surely been recaptured. The negroes, too, were powerful helps, and in no single case has a black man proved treacherous to his suffering white brother, I was not an Abolitionist when the war broke out, but I am one now, and to see the negro free I would almost spill my last drop of blood. They are a patient, all-enduring, faithful race, and without them the bones of many a poor wretch who now sits by his own fireside and recounts the perils he has escaped, would whiten in the Southern swamps or on the Southern mountains. Three times were we chased by bloodhounds, and in every case the negroes were the means of saving us from certain death. For weeks we were hidden in a cave, hunted by the Confederates by day, and fed at night by negroes, who told us when and where to go. With blistered feet and bruised limbs, we reached the lines at last, when fever attacked me for the second time and brought me near to death. Somebody wrote to you, but you never received it, and when I grew better I would not let them write again, as I wanted to surprise you. As soon as I was able I started North, my thoughts full of the joyful meeting in store—a meeting which I dreaded, too, for I knew you must think me dead, and I felt so sorry for you, my darling, knowing, as I did, you would mourn for your soldier husband. That my darling has mourned is written on her face, and needs no words to tell it; but that is over now,” Mark said, folding his wife closer to him, and kissing the pale lips which whispered: