Not long could Mrs. Worthington stay contentedly at Snowdon, and after a time Alice started with her and Lulu for Washington, taking Sam also, partly because he begged so hard to go, and partly because she did not care to trouble her friends with the old man, who seemed a perfect child in his delight at the prospect of seeing “Massah Hugh.” But to see him was not so easy a matter. Indeed, he seemed farther off at Washington than he had done at Spring Bank, and Alice sometimes questioned the propriety of having left Kentucky at all. They were not very comfortable at Washington, and as Mrs. Worthington pined for the pure country air, Alice managed at last to procure board for herself, Mrs. Worthington, Lulu and Sam, at the house of a friend whose acquaintance she had made at the time of her visit to Virginia. It was some distance from Washington, and so near to Bull Run that when at last the second disastrous battle was fought in that vicinity, the roar of the artillery was distinctly heard, and they who listened to the noise of that bloody conflict knew just when the battle ceased, and thought with tearful anguish of the poor, maimed, suffering wretches left to bleed and die alone. They knew Hugh must have been in the battle, and Mrs. Washington’s anxiety amounted almost to insanity, while Alice, with blanched cheek and compressed lip, could only pray silently that he might be spared, and might yet come back to them. Only Sam thought of acting.
“Now is the time,” he said to Alice, as they stood talking together of Hugh, and wondering if he were safe. “Something tell me Massah Hugh is hurted somewhar, and I’se gwine to find him. I knows all de way, an’ every tree around dat place. I can hide from de ’Federacy. Dem Rebels let ole white-har’d nigger look for young massah, and I’se gwine. P’raps I not find him, but I does somebody some good. I helps somebody’s Massah Hugh.”
It seemed a crazy project, letting that old man start off on so strange an errand, but Sam was determined.
He had a “’sentiment,” as he said, that Hugh was wounded, and he must go to him.
In his presentiment Alice had no faith; but she did not oppose him, and at parting she said to him, hesitatingly:
“Sam, if you do find your master wounded, and you think him dying, you may tell him—tell him—that I said—I loved him; and had he ever come back, I would have been his wife.”
“I tells him, and that raises Massah Hugh from de very jaws of death,” was Sam’s reply, as he departed on his errand of mercy, which proved not to be a fruitless one, for he did find his master, and falling on his knees beside him, uttered the joyful words we have before repeated.
To the faint, half-dying Hugh, it seemed more like a dream than a reality—that familiar voice from home, and that dusky form bending over him so pityingly. He could not comprehend how Sam came there, or what he was saying to him. Something he heard of burning houses, and ole miss and Snowdon, and Washington; but nothing was real until he caught the name of Alice, and thought Sam said she was there.