CHAPTER XXXVII. LIBERTY.
A WHILE we must leave Tom in the hands of his persecutors, while we turn to pursue the fortunes of George and his wife, whom we left in friendly hands, in a farmhouse on the roadside.
We left Tom Loker groaning in a most immaculately clean Quaker bed, under the motherly supervision of Aunt Dorcas.
"The devil!" said Tom Loker, giving a great throw to the bedclothes.
"I must request thee, Thomas, not to use such language," said Aunt Dorcas, as she quietly rearranged the bed.
"Well, I won't, granny, if I can help it," said Tom.
"That fellow and gal are here, I s'pose," said he, suddenly, after a pause.
"They are so," said Dorcas.
"They 'd better be off up to the lake," said Tom; "the quicker the better."
"Probably they will do so," said Aunt Dorcas.
"And hark ye," said Tom; "we 've got correspondents in Sandusky,
that watch the boats for us. I don't care if
I tell, now. I hope they will get away, just to spite Marks, the cursed puppy!—"
"Thomas!" said Dorcas.
"I tell you, granny, if you bottle a fellow up too tight, I shall split," said Tom. "But about the gal,—tell 'em to dress her up some way, so 's to alter her. Her description's out in Sandusky."
"We will attend to that matter," said Dorcas, with characteristic composure.
After Tom Loker had lain three weeks in bed at the Quaker dwelling, he arose a somewhat sadder and wiser man; and, in place of slave catching, betook himself to life in one of the new settlements, where his talents developed themselves more happily in trapping bears, wolves, and other inhabitants of the forest, in which he made himself quite a name in the land. Tom always spoke reverently of the Quakers. "Nice people," he would say; "wanted to convert me, but could n't come it, exactly. But, tell ye what, stranger, they do fix up a sick fellow first rate, no mistake. Make jist the tallest kind o' broth and knicknacks."
As Tom had informed them that their party would be looked for in Sandusky, it was thought prudent to divide them. Jim, with his old mother, was forwarded separately; and a night or two after, George and Eliza, with their child, were driven privately into Sandusky, and lodged beneath a hospitable roof, preparatory to taking their last passage on the lake.
Before Eliza was arrayed in man's attire,she shook down her silky
abundance of black curly hair. "I say, George,
it 's almost a pity, is n't it," she said, as she held up some of it, playfully,—"pity it 's all got to come off?"
George smiled sadly, and made no answer.
Eliza turned to the glass, and the scissors glittered as one long lock after another was detached from her head. "There, now, that 'll do," she said, taking up a hair-brush; "now for a few fancy touches."
"There, won't I make a pretty young fellow," she said, turning to her husband, laughing and blushing at the same time.
"You will always be pretty, do what you will;" said George.
The door opened, and a respectable, middle-aged woman entered, leading little Harry, dressed in girl's clothes.
"What a pretty girl he makes," said Eliza, turning him round. "We call him Harriet, you see; —don't the name come nicely?"
A hack now drove to the door, and the friendly family who had received the fugitives crowded around them with farewell greetings.
The disguises the party had assumed were in accordance with the
hints of Tom Loker. Mrs. Smyth, a respectable
woman from the settlement in Canada, whither they were fleeing, had consented to appear as the aunt of little Harry; and, in order to attach him to her, he had been allowed to remain the two last days, under her sole charge; and an extra amount of petting, joined to an indefinite amount of seedcakes and candy, had cemented a very close attachment on the part of the young gentleman.
The hack drove to the wharf. The two young men, as they appeared, walked up the plank into the boat, Eliza gallantly giving her arm to Mrs. Smyth, and George attending to their baggage.
George was standing at the captain's office, settling for his party, when he overheard two men talking by his side.
"I 've watched everyone that came on board," said the clerk, "and I know they 're not on this boat."
The speaker whom he addressed was our old friend Marks.
"You would scarcely know the woman from a white woman," said Marks. "The man is a very light mulatto; he has a brand in one of his hands."
The hand with which George was taking the tickets and change trembled a little; but he turned coolly around, fixed an unconcerned glance on the face of the speaker, and walked leisurely toward another part of the boat, where Eliza stood waiting for them.
Mrs. Smyth, with little Harry, sought the seclusion of the ladies' cabin, where the dark beauty of the supposed little girl drew many flattering comments from the passengers.
George had the satisfaction, as the bell rang out its farewell
peal, to see Marks walk down the plank to the shore;
and drew a long sigh of relief, when the boat had put a returnless distance between them.
George and his wife stood arm in arm, as the boat neared the small town of Amherstberg, in Canada. His breath grew thick and short; a mist gathered before his eyes; he silently pressed the little hand that lay trembling on his arm. The bell rang; the boat stopped. Scarcely seeing what he did, he looked out his baggage, and gathered his little party. The little company were landed on the shore. They stood still till the boat had cleared; and then, with tears and embracings, the husband and wife, with their wondering child in their arms, knelt down and lifted up their hearts to God!