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    CHAPTER VII.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER IX.

Brown, Josephine
Biography of an American Bondman



"The hounds are baying on my track,
O, Christian! do not send me back!"

After a year spent in the employment of the slave driver, Walker, William was sent home to his master, where new scenes were opened to him. Although hard pressed for money, Dr. Young declined selling William to the slave-speculator, for he no doubt had some conscientious scruples against allowing his young kinsman to be taken to the cotton fields of the far South. He therefore gave his nephew a note, permitting him to find a purchaser who would pay five hundred dollars for him. With this document, the young slave set out for St. Louis, about four miles distant from the farm. Elizabeth, William's sister, who had been sold a few days previous, was still in the St. Louis jail; and on arriving in the city, his first impulse was to visit her, to whom he was tenderly attached. He called at the prison, and after being twice refused admission, succeeded in seeing his sister for the last time. She was sold to a slave-trader, and taken to the Southern market, and was never heard of again by William.

From the jail, the poor young slave went to his mother, and persuaded her to fly with him to Canada. With scarcely food enough for three days, William and

his mother crossed the river one dark night, and started for a land of freedom, with no guide but the North Star. Again and again they looked back at the lights, as they wended their way from the city, not knowing whether they would succeed in their arduous undertaking, or be arrested and taken back. They well knew that the run away slave could find no sympathy from the people of Illinois, and therefore did not travel during the day. Night after night did these two fugitives come out of their hiding-place, and with renewed vigor wend their way northward. No one can imagine how wearily the hours passed during the days they remained in the woods, waiting for night to overshadow them. Most truly has the poet entered into the slave's feelings, when he says,--

"Star of the North! while blazing day
Pours round me its full tide of light,
And hides thy pale but faithful ray,
I, too, lie hid, and long for night."

The anxiety of the fugitives may be conceived from the following remarks of Mr. Brown, in his published narrative:--"As we travelled towards a land of liberty, my heart would at times leap for joy; at other times, being, as I was, almost continually on my feet, I felt as though I could go no further. But when I thought of slavery, with its well-trained bloodhounds, its pious, evangelical slaveholders,--when I thought of all this American hypocrisy, false democracy and religion behind me, and the prospect of liberty before me, I

was encouraged to press forward; my heart was strengthened, and I forgot that I was either tired or hungry."

But the fugitives were not destined to realize their hearts' fondest wishes. On missing the runaways, the slave holders put advertisements in the St. Louis newspapers, which had an extensive circulation in Illinois, besides sending printed handbills, by mail, to the postmasters in the towns through which it was expected the fugitives would pass. On the tenth day, William and his mother determined to travel by day, thinking that they were out of the danger of being apprehended. They had, however, been on the road but a short time, when they were overtaken by three men and arrested. None but one who has been a slave, and made the attempt to escape, and failed, can at all enter into the feelings of the fugitive who is caught and returned to the doom from which he supposed he had escaped. William and his mother were carried back to St. Louis, and safely lodged in prison until their masters should take them out.


    CHAPTER VII.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER IX.