The Devil's Own eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about The Devil's Own.
prairies, until beyond all danger of pursuit.  Hundreds, no doubt, had traveled this route, and, once these two were in Shrunk’s care our responsibility would be over with.  It was to me a vast relief to realize this.  The distance to the mouth of the Illinois could not be far, surely not to exceed fifty miles as the river ran.  It ought not to prove difficult to baffle Kirby for that short distance, and then we would be free to return, and no one could prove any charge against us.  Indeed it was my purpose to immediately proceed down the river on my furlough, and probably it would never so much as be suspected that the negro had been away.  Ever since my boyhood I had listened to stories concerning the operation of Underground Railroads by means of which slaves were assisted to freedom, and now felt no hesitancy in confiding these two women to the care of their operators.  The only important fact fronting us was that we must act quickly, before Kirby and his aides, armed with legal authority, could return—­this very night.

“Pete,” I said shortly, my tone unconsciously one of authority, “we must be out of here before daylight, and safely hidden somewhere up the river.  The first thing to be done, and the hardest, is to explain to those women the situation, and persuade them to accompany us.  They may not believe my story; that was why I was so anxious to have Haines go to the house.  They would have confidence in him.  Do they know you?”

“Lord love yer—­ob course dey do.  I’se knowed all ob ’em for a long while, sah.  Why when I furst don’ see dem Beaucaire gals dey wus just infants.  Dey’ll sure believe ol’ Pete.”

“Well, we can only try our best.  Have you any conveyance here?”

“Any whut, sah?”

“Any wheeled vehicle in which we can ride to Beaucaire, and by means of which we can bring the women back?  The distance is too far to walk.”

“I’se got a sorter khart, an’ an ol’ muel, sah.  Dey’s out yonder in de bush.”

“Hitch them up at once, while I put a few things we may need in the boat.  Show me how to find it.”

He pointed out the path, with the directions necessary, and disappeared, while I returned to the cabin, dragged a blanket from off the bed, and filled it with whatever miscellaneous articles of food I was able to discover about the place.  My wound, now that I was busily engaged, troubled me very little, and, gathering the four corners of the blanket together, I easily transported this stock of provisions to the river bank, and safely stowed them away in the boat found there.  I returned to discover the mule and cart ready, and a few moments later we were creaking slowly along a gloomy wood road, jolting over the stumps, with Pete walking beside the animal’s head, whispering encouragement into the flapping ear.  The great adventure had begun.

CHAPTER IX

THE HOME OF JUDGE BEAUCAIRE

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The Devil's Own from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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