It was bright moonlight and quite cold. She ran along as fast as she could on the Boston road. Deacon Thomas Wales’ house was on the way. The windows were lit up. She thought of grandma and poor grandpa, with a sob in her heart, but she sped along. Past the schoolhouse, and meeting-house, too, she had to go, with big qualms of grief and remorse. But she kept on. She was a fast traveller.
She had reached the North Precinct of Braintree by daylight. So far, she had not encountered a single person. Now, she heard horse’s hoofs behind her. She began to run faster, but it was of no use. Soon Captain Abraham French loomed up on his big gray horse, a few paces from her. He was Hannah’s father, but he was a tithing-man, and looked quite stern, and Ann had always stood in great fear of him.
She ran on as fast as her little heels could fly, with a thumping heart. But it was not long before she felt herself seized by a strong arm and swung up behind Captain French on the gray horse. She was in a panic of terror, and would have cried and begged for mercy if she had not been in so much awe of her captor. She thought with awful apprehension of these stolen indentures in her little pocket. What if he should find that out!
Captain French whipped up his horse, however, and hastened along without saying a word. His silence, if anything, caused more dread in Ann than words would have. But his mind was occupied. Deacon Thomas Wales was dead; he was one of his most beloved and honored friends, and it was a great shock to him. Hannah had told him about Ann’s premeditated escape, and he had set out on her track, as soon as he had found that she was really gone, that morning. But the news, which he had heard on his way, had driven all thoughts of reprimand which he might have entertained, out of his head. He only cared to get the child safely back.
So, not a word spoke Captain French, but rode on in grim and sorrowful silence, with Ann clinging to him, till he reached her master’s door. Then he set her down with a stern and solemn injunction never to transgress again, and rode away.
Ann went into the kitchen with a quaking heart. It was empty and still. Its very emptiness and stillness seemed to reproach her. There stood the desk—she ran across to it, pulled the indentures from her pocket, put them in their old place, and shut the lid down. There they staid till the full and just time of her servitude had expired. She never disturbed them again.
On account of the grief and confusion incident on Deacon Wales’ death, she escaped with very little censure. She never made an attempt to run away again. Indeed she had no wish to, for after Deacon Wales’ death, grandma was lonely and wanted her, and she lived, most of the time, with her. And, whether she was in reality, treated any more kindly or not, she was certainly happier.