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    Chapter 21

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    Chapter 22
    Previous Chapter
    _My Escape from Slavery_

    CLOSING INCIDENTS OF "MY LIFE AS A SLAVE"--REASONS WHY FULL
    PARTICULARS OF THE MANNER OF MY ESCAPE WILL NOT BE GIVEN--
    CRAFTINESS AND MALICE OF SLAVEHOLDERS--SUSPICION OF AIDING A
    SLAVE'S ESCAPE ABOUT AS DANGEROUS AS POSITIVE EVIDENCE--WANT OF
    WISDOM SHOWN IN PUBLISHING DETAILS OF THE ESCAPE OF THE
    FUGITIVES--PUBLISHED ACCOUNTS REACH THE MASTERS, NOT THE SLAVES--
    SLAVEHOLDERS STIMULATED TO GREATER WATCHFULNESS--MY CONDITION--
    DISCONTENT--SUSPICIONS IMPLIED BY MASTER HUGH'S MANNER, WHEN
    RECEIVING MY WAGES--HIS OCCASIONAL GENEROSITY!--DIFFICULTIES IN
    THE WAY OF ESCAPE--EVERY AVENUE GUARDED--PLAN TO OBTAIN MONEY--I
    AM ALLOWED TO HIRE MY TIME--A GLEAM OF HOPE--ATTENDS CAMP-
    MEETING, WITHOUT PERMISSION--ANGER OF MASTER HUGH THEREAT--THE
    RESULT--MY PLANS OF ESCAPE ACCELERATED THERBY--THE DAY FOR MY
    DEPARTURE FIXED--HARASSED BY DOUBTS AND FEARS--PAINFUL THOUGHTS
    OF SEPARATION FROM FRIENDS--THE ATTEMPT MADE--ITS SUCCESS.

    I will now make the kind reader acquainted with the closing
    incidents of my "Life as a Slave," having already trenched upon
    the limit allotted to my "Life as a Freeman." Before, however,
    proceeding with this narration, it is, perhaps, proper that I
    should frankly state, in advance, my intention to withhold a part
    of the{sic} connected with my escape from slavery. There are
    reasons for this suppression, which I trust the reader will deem
    altogether valid. It may be easily conceived, that a full and
    complete statement of all facts pertaining to the flight of a
    bondman, might implicate and embarrass some who may have,
    wittingly or unwittingly, assisted him; and no one can wish me to
    involve any man or woman who
    has befriended me, even in the liability of embarrassment or
    trouble.

    Keen is the scent of the slaveholder; like the fangs of the
    rattlesnake, his malice retains its poison long; and, although it
    is now nearly seventeen years since I made my escape, it is well
    to be careful, in dealing with the circumstances relating to it.
    Were I to give but a shadowy outline of the process adopted, with
    characteristic aptitude, the crafty and malicious among the
    slaveholders might, possibly, hit upon the track I pursued, and
    involve some one in suspicion which, in a slave state, is about
    as bad as positive evidence. The colored man, there, must not
    only shun evil, but shun the very _appearance_ of evil, or be
    condemned as a criminal. A slaveholding community has a peculiar
    taste for ferreting out offenses against the slave system,
    justice there being more sensitive in its regard for the peculiar
    rights of this system, than for any other interest or
    institution. By stringing together a train of events and
    circumstances, even if I were not very explicit, the means of
    escape might be ascertained, and, possibly, those means be
    rendered, thereafter, no longer available to the liberty-seeking
    children of bondage I have left behind me. No antislavery man
    can wish me to do anything favoring such results, and no
    slaveholding reader has any right to expect the impartment of
    such information.

    While, therefore, it would afford me pleasure, and perhaps would
    materially add to the interest of my story, were I at liberty to
    gratify a curiosity which I know to exist in the minds of many,
    as to the manner of my escape, I must deprive myself of this
    pleasure, and the curious of the gratification, which such a
    statement of facts would afford. I would allow myself to suffer
    under the greatest imputations that evil minded men might
    suggest, rather than exculpate myself by explanation, and thereby
    run the hazards of closing the slightest avenue by which a
    brother in suffering might clear himself of the chains and
    fetters of slavery.

    The practice of publishing every new invention by which a
    slave is known to have escaped from slavery, has neither
    wisdom nor necessity to sustain it. Had not Henry Box Brown and
    his friends attracted slaveholding attention to the manner of his
    escape, we might have had a thousand _Box Browns_ per annum. The
    singularly original plan adopted by William and Ellen Crafts,
    perished with the first using, because every slaveholder in the
    land was apprised of it. The _salt water slave_ who hung in the
    guards of a steamer, being washed three days and three nights--
    like another Jonah--by the waves of the sea, has, by the
    publicity given to the circumstance, set a spy on the guards of
    every steamer departing from southern ports.

    I have never approved of the very public manner, in which some of
    our western friends have conducted what _they_ call the _"Under-
    ground Railroad,"_ but which, I think, by their open
    declarations, has been made, most emphatically, the _"Upper_-
    ground Railroad." Its stations are far better known to the
    slaveholders than to the slaves. I honor those good men and
    women for their noble daring, in willingly subjecting themselves
    to persecution, by openly avowing their participation in the
    escape of slaves; nevertheless, the good resulting from such
    avowals, is of a very questionable character. It may kindle an
    enthusiasm, very pleasant to inhale; but that is of no practical
    benefit to themselves, nor to the slaves escaping. Nothing is
    more evident, than that such disclosures are a positive evil to
    the slaves remaining, and seeking to escape. In publishing such
    accounts, the anti-slavery man addresses the slaveholder, _not
    the slave;_ he stimulates the former to greater watchfulness, and
    adds to his facilities for capturing his slave. We owe something
    to the slaves, south of Mason and Dixon's line, as well as to
    those north of it; and, in discharging the duty of aiding the
    latter, on their way to freedom, we should be careful to do
    nothing which would be likely to hinder the former, in making
    their escape from slavery. Such is my detestation of slavery,
    that I would keep the merciless slaveholder profoundly ignorant
    of the means of flight adopted by the slave. He OF SLAVEHOLDERS>should be left to imagine himself surrounded by
    myriads of invisible tormentors, ever ready to snatch, from his
    infernal grasp, his trembling prey. In pursuing his victim, let
    him be left to feel his way in the dark; let shades of darkness,
    commensurate with his crime, shut every ray of light from his
    pathway; and let him be made to feel, that, at every step he
    takes, with the hellish purpose of reducing a brother man to
    slavery, he is running the frightful risk of having his hot
    brains dashed out by an invisible hand.

    But, enough of this. I will now proceed to the statement of
    those facts, connected with my escape, for which I am alone
    responsible, and for which no one can be made to suffer but
    myself.

    My condition in the year (1838) of my escape, was, comparatively,
    a free and easy one, so far, at least, as the wants of the
    physical man were concerned; but the reader will bear in mind,
    that my troubles from the beginning, have been less physical than
    mental, and he will thus be prepared to find, after what is
    narrated in the previous chapters, that slave life was adding
    nothing to its charms for me, as I grew older, and became better
    acquainted with it. The practice, from week to week, of openly
    robbing me of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of
    slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by
    _indirection_, but this was _too_ open and barefaced to be
    endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each
    week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of any
    man. The thought itself vexed me, and the manner in which Master
    Hugh received my wages, vexed me more than the original wrong.
    Carefully counting the money and rolling it out, dollar by
    dollar, he would look me in the face, as if he would search my
    heart as well as my pocket, and reproachfully ask me, "_Is that
    all_?"--implying that I had, perhaps, kept back part of my wages;
    or, if not so, the demand was made, possibly, to make me feel,
    that, after all, I was an "unprofitable servant." Draining me of
    the last cent of my hard earnings, he would, however,
    occasionally--when I brought home an extra large sum--dole
    out to me a sixpence or a shilling, with a view, perhaps, of
    kindling up my gratitude; but this practice had the opposite
    effect--it was an admission of _my right to the whole sum_. The
    fact, that he gave me any part of my wages, was proof that he
    suspected that I had a right _to the whole of them_. I always
    felt uncomfortable, after having received anything in this way,
    for I feared that the giving me a few cents, might, possibly,
    ease his conscience, and make him feel himself a pretty honorable
    robber, after all!

    Held to a strict account, and kept under a close watch--the old
    suspicion of my running away not having been entirely removed--
    escape from slavery, even in Baltimore, was very difficult. The
    railroad from Baltimore to Philadelphia was under regulations so
    stringent, that even _free_ colored travelers were almost
    excluded. They must have _free_ papers; they must be measured
    and carefully examined, before they were allowed to enter the
    cars; they only went in the day time, even when so examined. The
    steamboats were under regulations equally stringent. All the
    great turnpikes, leading northward, were beset with kidnappers, a
    class of men who watched the newspapers for advertisements for
    runaway slaves, making their living by the accursed reward of
    slave hunting.

    My discontent grew upon me, and I was on the look-out for means
    of escape. With money, I could easily have managed the matter,
    and, therefore, I hit upon the plan of soliciting the privilege
    of hiring my time. It is quite common, in Baltimore, to allow
    slaves this privilege, and it is the practice, also, in New
    Orleans. A slave who is considered trustworthy, can, by paying
    his master a definite sum regularly, at the end of each week,
    dispose of his time as he likes. It so happened that I was not
    in very good odor, and I was far from being a trustworthy slave.
    Nevertheless, I watched my opportunity when Master Thomas came to
    Baltimore (for I was still his property, Hugh only acted as his
    agent) in the spring of 1838, to purchase his spring supply of
    goods, and applied to him, directly,
    for the much-coveted privilege of hiring my time. This request
    Master Thomas unhesitatingly refused to grant; and he charged me,
    with some sternness, with inventing this stratagem to make my
    escape. He told me, "I could go _nowhere_ but he could catch me;
    and, in the event of my running away, I might be assured he
    should spare no pains in his efforts to recapture me. He
    recounted, with a good deal of eloquence, the many kind offices
    he had done me, and exhorted me to be contented and obedient.
    "Lay out no plans for the future," said he. "If you behave
    yourself properly, I will take care of you." Now, kind and
    considerate as this offer was, it failed to soothe me into
    repose. In spite of Master Thomas, and, I may say, in spite of
    myself, also, I continued to think, and worse still, to think
    almost exclusively about the injustice and wickedness of slavery.
    No effort of mine or of his could silence this trouble-giving
    thought, or change my purpose to run away.

    About two months after applying to Master Thomas for the
    privilege of hiring my time, I applied to Master Hugh for the
    same liberty, supposing him to be unacquainted with the fact that
    I had made a similar application to Master Thomas, and had been
    refused. My boldness in making this request, fairly astounded
    him at the first. He gazed at me in amazement. But I had many
    good reasons for pressing the matter; and, after listening to
    them awhile, he did not absolutely refuse, but told me he would
    think of it. Here, then, was a gleam of hope. Once master of my
    own time, I felt sure that I could make, over and above my
    obligation to him, a dollar or two every week. Some slaves have
    made enough, in this way, to purchase their freedom. It is a
    sharp spur to industry; and some of the most enterprising colored
    men in Baltimore hire themselves in this way. After mature
    reflection--as I must suppose it was Master Hugh granted me the
    privilege in question, on the following terms: I was to be
    allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work; to find my
    own employment, and to collect my own wages; and, in return
    for this liberty, I was required, or obliged, to pay him three
    dollars at the end of each week, and to board and clothe myself,
    and buy my own calking tools. A failure in any of these
    particulars would put an end to my privilege. This was a hard
    bargain. The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and breaking
    of tools, and the expense of board, made it necessary for me to
    earn at least six dollars per week, to keep even with the world.
    All who are acquainted with calking, know how uncertain and
    irregular that employment is. It can be done to advantage only
    in dry weather, for it is useless to put wet oakum into a seam.
    Rain or shine, however, work or no work, at the end of each week
    the money must be forthcoming.

    Master Hugh seemed to be very much pleased, for a time, with this
    arrangement; and well he might be, for it was decidedly in his
    favor. It relieved him of all anxiety concerning me. His money
    was sure. He had armed my love of liberty with a lash and a
    driver, far more efficient than any I had before known; and,
    while he derived all the benefits of slaveholding by the
    arrangement, without its evils, I endured all the evils of being
    a slave, and yet suffered all the care and anxiety of a
    responsible freeman. "Nevertheless," thought I, "it is a
    valuable privilege another step in my career toward freedom." It
    was something even to be permitted to stagger under the
    disadvantages of liberty, and I was determined to hold on to the
    newly gained footing, by all proper industry. I was ready to
    work by night as well as by day; and being in the enjoyment of
    excellent health, I was able not only to meet my current
    expenses, but also to lay by a small sum at the end of each week.
    All went on thus, from the month of May till August; then--for
    reasons which will become apparent as I proceed--my much valued
    liberty was wrested from me.

    During the week previous to this (to me) calamitous event, I had
    made arrangements with a few young friends, to accompany them, on
    Saturday night, to a camp-meeting, held about twelve miles from
    Baltimore. On the evening of our intended start for ATTEND CAMP-MEETING>the camp-ground, something occurred in the
    ship yard where I was at work, which detained me unusually late,
    and compelled me either to disappoint my young friends, or to
    neglect carrying my weekly dues to Master Hugh. Knowing that I
    had the money, and could hand it to him on another day, I decided
    to go to camp-meeting, and to pay him the three dollars, for the
    past week, on my return. Once on the camp-ground, I was induced
    to remain one day longer than I had intended, when I left home.
    But, as soon as I returned, I went straight to his house on Fell
    street, to hand him his (my) money. Unhappily, the fatal mistake
    had been committed. I found him exceedingly angry. He exhibited
    all the signs of apprehension and wrath, which a slaveholder may
    be surmised to exhibit on the supposed escape of a favorite
    slave. "You rascal! I have a great mind to give you a severe
    whipping. How dare you go out of the city without first asking
    and obtaining my permission?" "Sir," said I, "I hired my time and
    paid you the price you asked for it. I did not know that it was
    any part of the bargain that I should ask you when or where I
    should go."

    "You did not know, you rascal! You are bound to show yourself
    here every Saturday night." After reflecting, a few moments, he
    became somewhat cooled down; but, evidently greatly troubled, he
    said, "Now, you scoundrel! you have done for yourself; you shall
    hire your time no longer. The next thing I shall hear of, will
    be your running away. Bring home your tools and your clothes, at
    once. I'll teach you how to go off in this way."

    Thus ended my partial freedom. I could hire my time no longer;
    and I obeyed my master's orders at once. The little taste of
    liberty which I had had--although as the reader will have seen,
    it was far from being unalloyed--by no means enhanced my
    contentment with slavery. Punished thus by Master Hugh, it was
    now my turn to punish him. "Since," thought I, "you _will_ make
    a slave of me, I will await your orders in all things;" and,
    instead of going to look for work on Monday morning, as I had
    formerly done, I remained at home during the entire week,
    without the performance of a single stroke of work. Saturday
    night came, and he called upon me, as usual, for my wages. I, of
    course, told him I had done no work, and had no wages. Here we
    were at the point of coming to blows. His wrath had been
    accumulating during the whole week; for he evidently saw that I
    was making no effort to get work, but was most aggravatingly
    awaiting his orders, in all things. As I look back to this
    behavior of mine, I scarcely know what possessed me, thus to
    trifle with those who had such unlimited power to bless or to
    blast me. Master Hugh raved and swore his determination to _"get
    hold of me;"_ but, wisely for _him_, and happily for _me_, his
    wrath only employed those very harmless, impalpable missiles,
    which roll from a limber tongue. In my desperation, I had fully
    made up my mind to measure strength with Master Hugh, in case he
    should undertake to execute his threats. I am glad there was no
    necessity for this; for resistance to him could not have ended so
    happily for me, as it did in the case of Covey. He was not a man
    to be safely resisted by a slave; and I freely own, that in my
    conduct toward him, in this instance, there was more folly than
    wisdom. Master Hugh closed his reproofs, by telling me that,
    hereafter, I need give myself no uneasiness about getting work;
    that he "would, himself, see to getting work for me, and enough
    of it, at that." This threat I confess had some terror in it;
    and, on thinking the matter over, during the Sunday, I resolved,
    not only to save him the trouble of getting me work, but that,
    upon the third day of September, I would attempt to make my
    escape from slavery. The refusal to allow me to hire my time,
    therefore, hastened the period of flight. I had three weeks,
    now, in which to prepare for my journey.

    Once resolved, I felt a certain degree of repose, and on Monday,
    instead of waiting for Master Hugh to seek employment for me, I
    was up by break of day, and off to the ship yard of Mr. Butler,
    on the City Block, near the draw-bridge. I was a favorite PAINFUL THOUGHTS OF SEPARATION>with Mr. B., and, young as I was,
    I had served as his foreman on the float stage, at calking. Of
    course, I easily obtained work, and, at the end of the week--
    which by the way was exceedingly fine I brought Master Hugh
    nearly nine dollars. The effect of this mark of returning good
    sense, on my part, was excellent. He was very much pleased; he
    took the money, commended me, and told me I might have done the
    same thing the week before. It is a blessed thing that the
    tyrant may not always know the thoughts and purposes of his
    victim. Master Hugh little knew what my plans were. The going
    to camp-meeting without asking his permission--the insolent
    answers made to his reproaches--the sulky deportment the week
    after being deprived of the privilege of hiring my time--had
    awakened in him the suspicion that I might be cherishing disloyal
    purposes. My object, therefore, in working steadily, was to
    remove suspicion, and in this I succeeded admirably. He probably
    thought I was never better satisfied with my condition, than at
    the very time I was planning my escape. The second week passed,
    and again I carried him my full week's wages--_nine dollars;_ and
    so well pleased was he, that he gave me TWENTY-FIVE CENTS! and
    "bade me make good use of it!" I told him I would, for one of
    the uses to which I meant to put it, was to pay my fare on the
    underground railroad.

    Things without went on as usual; but I was passing through the
    same internal excitement and anxiety which I had experienced two
    years and a half before. The failure, in that instance, was not
    calculated to increase my confidence in the success of this, my
    second attempt; and I knew that a second failure could not leave
    me where my first did--I must either get to the _far north_, or
    be sent to the _far south_. Besides the exercise of mind from
    this state of facts, I had the painful sensation of being about
    to separate from a circle of honest and warm hearted friends, in
    Baltimore. The thought of such a separation, where the hope of
    ever meeting again is excluded, and where there can be no
    correspondence, is very painful. It is my opinion, that
    thousands would escape from slavery who now remain there,
    but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their
    families, relatives and friends. The daughter is hindered from
    escaping, by the love she bears her mother, and the father, by
    the love he bears his children; and so, to the end of the
    chapter. I had no relations in Baltimore, and I saw no
    probability of ever living in the neighborhood of sisters and
    brothers; but the thought of leaving my friends, was among the
    strongest obstacles to my running away. The last two days of the
    week--Friday and Saturday--were spent mostly in collecting my
    things together, for my journey. Having worked four days that
    week, for my master, I handed him six dollars, on Saturday night.
    I seldom spent my Sundays at home; and, for fear that something
    might be discovered in my conduct, I kept up my custom, and
    absented myself all day. On Monday, the third day of September,
    1838, in accordance with my resolution, I bade farewell to the
    city of Baltimore, and to that slavery which had been my
    abhorrence from childhood.

    How I got away--in what direction I traveled--whether by land or
    by water; whether with or without assistance--must, for reasons
    already mentioned, remain unexplained.
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    Chapter 22
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