Chapter 17 Notes from Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 17

Chapter 17

In the Quaker settlement, George and Eliza are stunned to hear that Phineas Fletcher, a Quaker friend of the Hallidays who has agreed to drive them to their next destination, overheard a conversation at a local Inn amongst members of the very search party dispatched to hunt them down. Phineas tells them that if caught, George will be sent back to his master in Kentucky to be made an example of, Eliza will be sold in the New Orleans slave market, and Harry will be turned over to Haley. Phineas tells George they should leave in two hours; to leave earlier might make them conspicuous to people in the villages ahead. They make their preparations to leave, and George makes sure that his pistols are in order and at the ready. He asks that Jim, another fugitive who will be accompanying them, do the same.

The party leaves, and soon after they depart, Phineas, the carriage driver, hears a horse and carriage approaching. He discovers that it is Michael, the friend sent to act as messenger and give warning if the search party gets close to them. Just as Michael approaches, the party hears another horse and carriage hot on their heels, and they realize with dread that it is the search party. Phineas orders them to jump out of the carriage and scramble over the fence into an embankment of rocks that will shield them from the search party and provide them with a good vantage point to shoot their pursuers, if necessary. The search party, consisting of Tom Loker and his associate Marks, along with two constables and various local rowdies from the tavern, abandons their wagon and begins chasing after them on foot. Loker tells the fugitives he has a warrant for them, and George steps out onto one of the rocks and declares that if they pursue them, they will be shot:

"'We don't own your laws; we don't own your country; we stand here as free, under God's sky, as you are; and, by the great God that made us, we'll fight for our liberty till we die.'" Chapter 17, pg. 194

Loker asks him if he is George Harris, and George answers that he is. Marks then fires at him, telling Loker calmly that he will get as much money for George dead as alive. He misses, but the party doesn't realize this. In frustration, Loker decides he is going to pursue them, and he struggles up the chasm, with the rest of the party on his heels. George realizes he has a good shot at Loker and he fires, hitting him in the side. Loker falls down the chasm, a 30-foot drop, and begins holding his side and howling.

Topic Tracking: Violence 1

The others scramble back down to the wagon, and Marks hastily explains that he is going to go for help, leaving them behind. The others struggle to help Loker onto a horse, but he is too burly, and they can't lift him. They leave him behind. Phineas tells the fugitives that a party will be on their way shortly to drive them to their next destination. When the party arrives, Eliza asks Phineas to help Loker, saying that she feels it would be unchristian to leave him behind. Phineas agrees, after hesitating, and he dresses Loker's wound and tells him he will take him to a Quaker house, where they will nurse him back to health. George asks if Loker will survive, and he expresses his relief when Phineas says he will, saying that he would feel terrible if Loker died.

Topic Tracking: Morality 6

The party travels for an hour or so before arriving at a Quaker farmhouse.

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