Oliver Optic.

Watch and wait : or, The young fugitives ; a story for young people online

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lay, unable to rise; but still the Isabel dashed on,
as if reckless of the terrible scene which had just
been enacted upon her deck.

Colonel Raybone's wound bled freely, and the
loss of blood soon moderated his fiery temper.
Gradually he calmed down, and became quite rea-
sonable, at least so far as outward manifestations
were concerned. Then Dan ventured to approach
him, though he did not relax his hold upon the
gun, and took every precaution to guard against
any sudden movement on the part of the suf-

*'Are you much hurt, sir?" asked Dan,


"You have killed your master, Dandy," replied
he, faintly, as he looked up at the redeemed chat-

"I did not mean to kill you, sir, and I am sorry
you compelled me to fire upon you," added Dan,
in respectful and sympathizing tones.

"I am wounded and in your power now; I can
do nothing more, and you may finish me as soon
as you please," groaned Colonel Raybone, com-
pletely subdued by weakness and the fear of death.

"I do not wish to kill you. Colonel Raybone,
and I am willing to do all I can for you. But if
you attempt to make me a slave again, I will shoot
you at once."

"I can't harm you now if I would," said the
sufferer, faintly.

"Then we will take you into the cabin out of
the sun, and do what we can for you."

"Can't you land me at Mr. Lascelles' planta-
tion?" asked he, lifting his eyes up with an ex-
pression so pitiful that Dan could hardly resist the

"No, sir. I dare not do that," he replied. "But
I will do all I can to save your life."

Dan then went aft, and explained to his com-
panions the condition of Colonel Raybone. Lily

Watch and wait ^si

was placed at the helm, with instructions how to
steer, and Dan and Cyd, with a great deal of diffi-
culty, removed the wounded planter to the cabin.
But he had lost so much blood that he fainted as
soon as they had placed him upon the bunk. Cyd
then took his place at the helm; and while Lily
bathed the head of the patient with lavender, Dan
examined his wound. The ball had passed en-
tirely through the fleshy part of the thigh, about
half way between the hip and the knee. The blood
flowed steadily from the two openings, but not in
jets, which would indicate the severing of an artery.

Dan was no surgeon, but he had ingenuity and
common sense, and he used these to the best ad-
vantage his limited means would permit. He tore
up one of his shirts for bandages, and Lily made
lint of one of his collars. When the sufferer had
recovered from his faintness he drank a glass of
brandy, which seemed to revive him. But he was
still very weak, and breathed not a word of hatred
or malice.

"Hallo! Dan! Where we gwine?" shouted Cyd
from the deck, who had come to a point in the
lake where he required further sailing directions.

The skipper took his map and w^ent on deck.
From the position of three islands laid down on his


chart, and which he identified as those near him,
he concluded that the Isabel had re^iched the out-
let of the lake, which is the Atchafalaya River.
Its course gave him a fair wind, and he headed the
boat down the stream. As the sailing of the boat
was now a matter of the utmost importance, Dan
was compelled to remain on deck. He took the
precaution to place all the fire-arms on board in a
safe place, where Colonel Raybone, if his condi-
tion should so far improve as to encourage him to
make an attempt to obtain possession of the boat,
could not get them, and where he and Cyd could
get them.

It was sunset when the Isabel entered the great
bayou ; and as she dashed on her course, the anxious
skipper saw many boats, and even some larger
craft, but no one offered to molest them. Colonel
Raybone remained as quiet as a lamb. He was
feverish, and in much pain, and all night long Lily
sat by his bunk, and watched over him as tenderly
as though he had been her dearest friend, instead
of her most terrible enemy. She not only watched ;
she prayed for him — prayed that God would for-
give him, heal his wounds and soften his heart.

And all night long the Isabel sped on her
course, and at midnight she entered the great bay^


Dan was worn out with anxiety and long watching,
and as the waters of the bay were comparatively
smooth, the wind having subsided to a gentle
breeze, he gave the helm to Cyd, and slept three
hours upon the floor of the standing-room, with a
cushion under his head.

At daybreak, Point au Fer light, which was
marked on Dan's map, lay directly ahead of them.
The land to the westward was low and swampy,
and with frequent indentations. In one of these
Dan came to anchor about sunrise. He was much
perplexed to know what he should do with Colonel
Raybone. He could not think of going to sea with
him on board, and to send him back was to invite
an Immediate pursuit.

The good care which had been bestowed upon
the planter had very sensibly improved his condi-
tion. After breakfast he inquired of Dan where
he had been for a year, and the whole story of the
residence in the swamp was narrated to him. In
return he told the fugitives what had been done to
recover them, and added that he was on his way
from New Orleans to Mr. Lascelles^ plantation
when he discovered the Isabel. Colonel Raybone
said not a word about reclaiming his property, and


apparently only cherished the hope of saving him-

"Now, Dandy, what are you going to do with
me?'* asked he, when he had finished his narra-

"I don't know, sir. After the whipping I got,
I determined to run away; and I say now I would
rather die than go back," replied he.

"Didn't I use you well?" asked the colonel.

"As well as any master can use a slave."

"I was rather sorry afterward that I whipped
you; but you were treated as well as the members
of my own family; and so was Lily."

"But I was a slave, and so was she. Master
Archy tormented me, and Miss Edith tormented
Lily. I could have borne it, perhaps, if I hadn't
been whipped."

"You have your revenge now," added the
planter, meekly. "I am in your power."

"I don't seek revenge, and I wouldn't harm
you for all the world," replied Dan.

The proud spirit of the planter was subdued
by pain, weakness, and the fear of death, and he
was in no condition to think of resistance. He
offered to give the fugitives free papers if they
would land him at any place where there was a


surgeon, and from which he could be removed to
Redlawn; but Dan dared not run any risks. The
planter wanted to know where they were going,
but the prudent skipper declined to answer this

The Isabel remained at anchor for three dayr.,
under the lee of the land, during which time
Colonel Raybone was carefully nursed by Dan and
Lily; but his wound was still very painful, and the
patient, fearful of mortification, or some other un-
favorable turn in his condition, declared himself
willing to do anything rather than remain any
longer In this place.

'T might put you on board of some vessel if I
dared to do so," said Dan.

"What do you fear?" demanded the sufferer.

*Tf you should tell the people of the vessel what
we are, they would capture us."

"Do you think I would do that, Dandy?" asked
he, In reproachful tones.

"I am afraid to run any risks, sir."

"Will you let me die here? My wound may
mortify. I think It Is growing worse Instead of
better," added he, with a groan of anguish. "I
will give you my word. Dandy, If you will put me
on board of any vessel bound to any place where


I can get home, I will give you all your freedom.
If you are arrested, send to me, and you shall have
free papers. You know I always keep my word,

It was a terrible necessity which could extort
such a declaration from the imperious planter, and
Dan decided to accept the proposition. The anchor
was weighed, and the Isabel stood out of the inlet
where she had lain for three days. They cruised
all day without meeting a vessel ; but the next day
they hailed a small schooner bound up the bay.

"I will keep my promise, Dandy, to the letter,"
said Colonel Raybone, as they bore him to the
deck. "Here is some money, which you may want
before long"; and he handed Dan a roll of bills.

"Thank you, sir," replied he. "I hope we part

"Yes, Dandy; and if you ever want a friend,
come to me."

The crew of the schooner asked a great many
questions, all of which Colonel Raybone took It
upon himself to answer. He was placed In the
cabin of the vessel, and Dan, bidding him good-
by, hastened back to the Isabel. They parted In
peace, and Lily could not restrain her tears as the
schooner bore away on her course.



^'Colonel Raybone is not a bad man, after
all," said Dan, as the Isabel filled away.

"He wouldn't be, if he wasn't a slave holder,"
replied Lily.

"Possifus! I feel 'tickler sorry for ole massa,
when he lay dar and couldn't help hisself," added

"If he could have helped himself, he wouldn't
have lain there. I never saw such a change come
over a man. He will be ashamed of himself, 1
know, when he gets well, and it will be lucky for
us that we are out of his reach."

"He would keep his word, Dan; you know
that," said Lily, whose looks seemed to contain a
mild rebuke of the sentiment just uttered.

"He would; at least, he wouldn't wish to break

his word; but he will want me as soon as he gets to

be Colonel Raybone again."



"Why, he was always good to us," responded

"He was always liberal and generous, and
treated all the people well, while they behaved to
suit him.'*

"They ought to behave well."

"I had to fawn and cringe before him, and
before Archy. If I dared to say my soul was my
own, I was punished for it. What did I get
whipped for?"

"For striking Archy."

"Well, why did I strike him? Didn't he insist
upon my striking him? And when he came at me
like a madman, because I happened to hit him
rather harder than I intended, I was tied up to the
dead oak, and whipped like a mule. I shall carry
the marks of that day to my grave," continued Dan,

"But he has changed."

"He was afraid he was going to die, and he
was in my power. He knew I could blow out his
brains any moment when he attempted to lay his
hands upon me; and he knew I would do it, too."

"I never saw him so mild and gentle as he was
while on board the boat."

"I hope he will always continue so, and treat


the people well when he gets back to Redlawn. I
have nothing against him now. I forgive him,
and I did all I could for him when he was

"I know you did. Do you suppose He will get
well, Dan?"

*'I have no doubt he will."

"Shall you send for your free papers?"

"I shouldn't dare to let him know where I am."

"He gave us our freedom."

"I should be afraid that he would alter his
mind; and though he might keep his word, he
might cause us to be taken up for killing the slave
hunters, or stealing the boat and provisions, or
something of that kind. I shall keep out of his
way. If we should be arrested, I would appeal to
him then."

"Where are we going now, Dan?" asked Lily,
as she glanced out upon the vast expanse of waters
which rolled to the southward.

"I hardly know, Lily. We have got to the
bottom of my map; I shall stand to the southeast
till something happens. If we can fall In with a
vessel which does not sail from or to a southern
port, I should have some hopes, especially as we
have money enough now to pay our passage."


*'How much have you, Dan?"

"Two hundred dollars,'^ replied Dan, exhibit-
ing the roll of bills which the planter had given
him. "Colonel Raybone is generous, but this
would not half pay us for the services we have
rendered him."

The pocket compass upon which the skipper had
to depend for his course was now produced, and
before dark that night the Isabel was out of sight
of land. The wind was light, the weather pleas-
ant, and the sea not heavier than they had seen on
the lake. It was arranged that each of the boys
should steer four hours in his turn, night and day,
and the voyage, which had been looked upon as
Involving many perils, was found to be very pleas-

For two days they were favored with good
weather; but on the third It came on cloudy and
blowy after dinner. The foresail was taken In, and
everything was made snug about the Isabel, In
preparation for the worst. The storm Increased
in violence, and they soon had their first experience
of a heavy sea. The waves tossed them about like
a feather, dashing over the decks, and several times
filling the standing-room half full of water.


"Gosslfus! Dis big sea!" exclaimed Cyd, as
he shook the water from his woolly locks.

**Yes, and it is coming heavier yet," replied
Dan. "But the Isabel stands It well."

*Tlenty ob water on fora'd dar," said Cyd,
pointing to the forecastle, which was often sub-
merged In the heavy billows.

* 'Perhaps we can remedy that. I don't think
we shall want the bateau any more, and we may as
well toss It overboard. It sinks her head down
too much."

*'HossIfus! Frow de boat overboard?"

"Yes; over with it, if you can."

Cyd took a boat-hook, and pried up the bateau,
and after much labor succeeded in getting it over
the side, though he had nearly gone with it, when
a big sea, sweeping over the deck, finished his work.
The effect of the step was instantly apparent in
the working of the Isabel. She no longer scooped
up the seas, but rode over them. Before night It
began to rain, and the gale increased in violence.
The bonnet had been taken off the jib, and a reef
put In the mainsail; but she could not much longer
carry this sail, and at dark she was put under a
close-reefed foresail.

Poor Lily was obliged to remain in the cabin,


and she was very much alarmed at the roaring of
the waves and the terrible pitching of the schooner;
but Dan often assured her that there was no danger ;
that the Isabel was behaving splendidly. During
that long, tempestuous night, there was no sleep
for the fugitives. Dan did not leave the helm,
and Cyd stood by to obey the orders of the skipper.
At midnight the gale began to moderate, but the
sea still ran high.

The sun rose bright and clear on the following
morning. The wind had subsided to a gentle
breeze, and the Isabel moved slowly along over
the rolling waves. Cyd and Lily went to sleep
after breakfast, and Dan still maintained his posi-
tion at the helm, which he had not left for four-
teen hours. He was nearly exhausted; but so was
Cyd, and he was afraid the latter would drop asleep
if he left the boat in his care.

While he sat by the tiller, dreaming of the
future, and struggling to keep awake, he discovered
a sail far to the southward of him. The sight
roused him from his lethargy, for he had not seen
anything that looked like a vessel since the day he
parted with Colonel Raybone. He was wide
awake ; and laying his course so as to intercept thcj


vessel, he waited patiently till the winds wafted
her within hailing distance.

It was two hours before he could clearly make
her out, for the wind was very light. She was a
bark, and Dan could only hope that she was not
bound to any port in the slave States. He had a
very good knowledge of geography, and after cal-
culating the position of the Isabel, he concluded
that the bark could not have come from any south-
ern city.

"Sail ho!" shouted he, when he was within half
a mile of the bark.

"What's the matter?" called Lily, aroused from
her slumbers by the shout.

"Come on deck. We are close by a vessel."

"Gossifus !" shouted Cyd, as he rushed out of
the cabin, and discovered the bark. "Wha — wha
— what vessel's dat?"

"I don't know," answered Dan; "but we shall
soon know all about her."

"What a monster she is!" added Lily.

Dan hailed the bark, and ascertained that she
was an English vessel, bound from Vera Cruz to
New York. As this information was satisfactory,
he asked to be taken on board, with his compan-
ions. The vessel backed her main topsail, and Dan


ran the Isabel alongside. The captain and crew
were astonished to find a small boat, with two boys
and a girl in her, at this distance from land; but
they were kindly taken on board. In as few words
as possible Dan told the substance of his story,
and the captain consented to carry the fugitives to
New York.

"I can pay our passage, captain," added he;
"and if you will take us you shall lose nothing by

*'I should be in duty bound to take you, any-
how," replied the captain; "but what shall we do
with your boat?"

"Cut her adrift. If you can't do any better. We
have done with her now."

"I think we can save her," added the captain.

As the wind was light, the Isabel was lashed to
the side, and the bark squared away upon her
course. In a short time everything on board of
the sailboat was passed on board, and she was
stripped and her masts taken out. She was then
hoisted on deck, and set up between the fore and
main masts. Dan and his companions were re-
joiced to preserve her, for she had been their home
for a year, and had borne them safely through
many perils. They regarded her as a dear friend*


Captain Oxnard gave Lily a stateroom, and
the two boys were berthed in the steerage. It took
all the rest of the day for Dan to relate the ex-
perience of the young fugitives on board the Isa-
bel; and the officers of the bark were intensely in-
terested in the narrative and in the runaways. The
listeners were all Englishmen, and had no sym-
pathy with slave holders.

The passage was rather long, but it was pleas-
ant, and on the twentieth of June the bark anchored
in New York harbor. Her consignees were in-
formed of the incidents which had placed the three
passengers on board, and they were not disposed
to undo, what Captain Oxnard had done. While
the vessel lay at anchor, the Isabel was hoisted
into the water again, rigged, and everything placed
on board of her, just as she was when she left the
camp in the swamp.

It so happened that the junior member of the
firm to which the bark was consigned was a friend
of Mr. Grant, and had dined at WoodviKe the
day before. It occurred to him that the young
fugitives would be well cared for in the hands of
his friends, and being a boatman himself, he re-
solved to proceed up the river in the Isabel.

It was a pleasant day and a happy occasion, and


at an early hour in the afternoon, the party landed
at the pier in front of the Woodville mansion. I
need not inform my readers that they were kindly
received by the family; and the story of the young
fugitives was again related to a group of partial

Mr. Grant and his friend Presby immediately
set their heads at work to determine what should
be done with the party which had just arrived at
Woodville. Bertha soon settled the question as
far as Lily was concerned, by declaring that she
must live with her, and go to school at the village,
for she had become strongly attached to the fair
fugitive, and would not think of permitting her
lot to be cast among those who might possibly be
unkind to her.

There was less difficulty in disposing of Dan and
Cyd. Boats and boatmen were in great demand
at Whitestone and other places on the river, and
the Isabel promised to bring in a fortune to her
owners during the summer months. A few days
later, she was employed in carrying parties out
upon excursions, with Dan as skipper, old Ben as
pilot, and Cyd as foremast hand. In a short time
Dan learned the navigation of the river, and dis-
pensed with the services of the pilot. They boarded


with Mr. Grant's gardener; but Cyd, very much
to his disgust, was not permitted to sit down at the
first table because he was black.

Dan and Cyd made a great deal of money in
the Isabel during the remainder of the season, and
when she was laid up for the winter, both of them
went down to the city and worked In a hotel; but
they much preferred a life on the water. In the
spring they resumed their business as boatmen,
and for several years continued to thrive at this

"See here, Posslfus," said Mr. Presby, who
never called Cyd by any other name; "don't you
want to own a boat yourself?"

"I does own one, sar," replied he. "De Isabel
jus' as much mine as Dan's."

"I was going to set you up In business for your-
self, Possifus."

"No, sar, t'ank ye; can't leabe Dan, nohow;
he fotched dis chile out of de swamp, and I don't
run no popposltion to him."

"That's right, Possifus; stick to your friends."

But Mr. Presby continued to do a great many
kind deeds for "Possifus," which were duly ap-

When Dan was twenty-one, he and Cyd had


saved a considerable sum of money; and the Isa-
bel having become rather shaky from old age, they
proposed to procure another boat, and establish
themselves at the city. With the aid of Mr. Pres-
by, they built a yacht of forty tons, which was
called the "Lily." It was a beautiful little vessel,
and soon became very popular among people de-
voted to the sea. They were very fortunate in
this new enterprise, and made money beyond their
most sanguine expectations.

Dan lived In the city now. The name on the
doorplate of his house was Daniel Preston, for
he had chosen a family name to suit himself — a
privilege allotted to only a few. Mrs. Preston —
of course the reader will at once understand that
this was the Lily of our story — ^was as happy as
liberty and prosperity could make her. Cyd —
who has Improved upon his former cognomen, and
now calls himself Sidney Davidson— lives on board
the Lily, a contented, happy man. He almost wor-
ships Dan and his wife, at whose house he Is an
occasional visitor.

They never heard anything from Colonel Ray-
bone, or any of his family; perhaps they made
no inquiries. Certainly no efforts were ever made
to reclaim the chattels. They had proved that they


could take care of themselves, and that freedom
was their true sphere of life.

And now, having seen the young fugitives safe-
ly through ail their trials and perplexities, and se-
curely established in the enjoyment of those rights
and privileges with which the great Creator had
endowed them, we take leave of them, in the hope
that the reign of Freedom will soon be extended
to every part of our beloved country, and that the
sons of toil shall no longer Watch and Wait
for deliverance from the bonds of the slave master.


A, L, Burt's Catalogue of Books for
Young People by Popular Writers, 52*'
58 Duane Street, New York ^ X ^


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Tony, a sturdy bright-eyed boy of fourteen, is under the control of

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