Oliver Optic.

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

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I am sure I can do that."

"So kin Cyd."

"Just as soon as we get to the place where we
are going, we will divide the work between us.
You shall be cook one week, and I will the next
week. Now bring up the bacon, the potatoes, and
the coffee."



Old Jake, who was to do the cooking for the
excursionists, had provided everything that would
be needed for the purpose. In a short time the
fires were blazing In the two furnaces, the coffee
and the potatoes were boiling upon one, and the
other was In readiness for the frying-pan, when
other articles should be In a sufficiently forward
state to require Its use.

Though Dan had never actually turned his hand
to the business of cooking, he had so often seen the
various operations performed, that he was compe-
tent to do It himself, after acquiring a little ex-
perience. He was a keen observer, and whenever
he saw anything done, he could generally do It him-

In the forward part of the cabin of the Isabel,
reaching from the foremast to the centerboard,
was a fixed table; and while Dan was cooking the
bacon, Cyd prepared it for the morning meal.
They had everything which could be found In any
well-ordered house, and the table had more the ap-
pearance of that of a first-class hotel than one pro-
vided for the use of the runaway slaves.

"Posslfus!" exclaimed Cyd, when the table was
ready, as he sat upon the berth to observe the ef-
fect. *'Dat's bery fine 1 Cyd, you'se gwlne to set


down to dat table. You'se a free nigger, now,
Cyd, and jes' as good as de best ob dem. Dar's de
bread, dar's de pickles, dar's de butter, dar's de
sugar, dar's de milk, dar's de salt, dar's de castor.
Gossifus! All dat's bery fine, and Cyd's gwine to
set down at de fuss table."

''Here, Cyd," called Dan, through the skylight,
as he proceeded to pass down the breakfast. "Put
them on the table."

"Mosslfus! Do you think Cyd don't know
what to do wid dese yere t'ings? I knows what
fried bacon's fur."

The potatoes, the bacon, and the coffee were
handed down, and when they were placed upon the
table, the effect called forth another rhapsody from
Cyd. While he was apostrophizing the bacon and
the potatoes, he was joined by Dan.

"Come, Lily," said he; "breakfast is ready."

"Hossifus ! We forgot one t'Ing for sartin,"
exclaimed Cyd, suddenly looking as sober as though
he had not a friend In the world.

"What, Cyd?"

"De bell."

"Bell? What do we want of a bell?"

"To call de folks to breakfas', to be sure," re-
plied Cyd, distending his mouth from ear to ear.


"I think we can get along without a bell," re-
plied Dan, laughing at the folly of his companion.

Lily joined the boys In the forward cabin, as they
called the space forward of the centerboard. She
looked as pleased and happy as Dan and Cyd; and
one would hardly have believed, from their ap-
pearance, that they were fugitives from slavery.
All the talk about the chilly damps of the swamp,
the perils and the hardships of the flight, appeared
to have been forgotten. The planter and his son
could hardly have been more jovial than the party
which had taken possession of the yacht.

Cyd was not accustomed to the refinements of
social life, as Dan and Lily had been, and he began
to behave In a very Indecorous and remarkable man-
ner. As it was all in the family, Dan ventured to
suggest to him that, as he was now seated at a
gentleman^s table, he should behave In a gentle-
manly manner, and not eat bacon from his fingers,
when a knife and fork had been especially provided
for this purpose. Cyd accepted the rebuke, and
thereafter Imitated the manners of his companions,
even carrying his ideas of gentility to extremes.

The cooking was a decided success, with the ex-
ception of the cofl[ee, which was very muddy and
uninviting. This was not strange, inasmuch as


none of the chemical conditions, upon which good
coffee is produced, had been complied with. It
was nothing but coffee and water stewed together.
Dan was mortified, and apologized for the failure.

"How did you make it, Dan?" asked Lily, with
a smile, which fully spoke the offender's pardon.

"I put the coffee in, and then the water," re-
plied the amateur cook, with a blush.

"Hot water?"

"No, cold."

Liiy laughed aloud at this blunder, and then gave
him a recipe for making good coffee, which in-
cluded the use of boiling water and fish skin.

"I saw that fish skin in the locker, and I couldn't
think what it was for," laughed Dan.

But the breakfast was finished, and, in spite of
the drawback of poor coffee, it was pronounced
satisfactory, especially by Cyd, whose plantation
rations had not Included coffee, butter, white bread,
and other articles which graced the table of the

"Now, Dan and Cyd, you can go away, and do
what you please," said Lily.

"We will clear up the table and wash the dishes
first," replied Dan.

"No; I am going to do that."


"You, Lily?''

"I am going to do my share of the work. I
can't manage a boat, but I think I can cook, and
take care of the cabin, set the table, and do every-
thing that belongs to the women."

''I didn't mean to have you work, Lily," said
Dan. 'Tou have been a lady's-maid all your life,
and never did any work."

"Well, I know how; and I'm going to do my
share. I should not feel right to live like a lady
here. I mean to do all the work In the cabin, and
the cooking, too."

"No, Cyd and I will do that."

"Mosslfus ! Do all dat, and all de rest, too."

"I must do something, or I should be very un-

"Well, Lily, you shall have your own way; and
while you are clearing off the table, Cyd and I will
prepare the lady's cabin."

"The what?" asked Lily.

"Your cabin; you shall have a room all to your-

Dan left the cabin, followed by Cyd. Taking
from one of the lockers, in the standing-room, an
awning which was used to spread over the forward
deck, he unrolled it, and proceeded to make his cal-


culations, while Cyd stood by, scratching his head
and wondering what was going to be done.

The cabin of the Isabel was entered by two doors,
one on each side of the centerboard, which divided
the after cabin into two apartments. Dan, after
measuring the cabin, cut the awning to the size re-
quired, and then nailed it up as a partition between
the forward and the after cabin. The space thus
enclosed formed a stateroom, six feet long and three
feet wide, outside of the berth. This room could
be entered only by the door from the standing-
room. It made a very neat and comfortable cham-
ber, and Lily was much pleased with it.

By the time the dishes were washed and put
away, there was considerable gaping among the
party. Cyd opened his mouth fearfully wide, and
Miss Lily's eyelids drooped, like her fragrant
namesake, when its mission on earth is nearly fin-
ished. The fugitives had come to the knowledge
that they slept none during the preceding night,
and as the voyage was to be continued when dark-
ness favored the movement, it was necessary that
the hours should be appropriated to slumber. Lily
retired to her new stateroom, closed the door, and
was soon asleep.

*'Now, Cyd, one of us must turn in," said Dan.


"Can't we bof turn in?"

"No; one of us must stand watch while the other
sleeps. We have been getting along so finely, that
we have almost forgot that we are in danger."

"Posslfus!" gasped Cyd. "Wha — ^wha — what
you want to keep watch fur?"

"Suppose any one should come upon us while we
are asleep?" added Dan.

" 'Pose any one come 'pon us when we're awake?
What den ? Who's gwine to help hisself ?" yawned

"I am, for one. I shall not be taken, if I can
help It."

"Gossifus! What you gwine to do? 'Pose you
see de nigger hunter, wid t'ree, four dozen blood-
hounds? Wha— wha — what you g^^vine to do

"I'm going to fight! And you must do the
same !" replied Dan, with energy, as he grasped
one of the fowling-pieces that lay upon the bunk.

"Gwine to fight!" cried Cyd, opening his eyes
with astonishment. "Gwine to kill de dogs and
kill de men?"

"That's what I mean. I will shoot man or dog
that attempts to touch me."

"Wha — wha — ^wha - — " stammered Cyd, as he


always did when excited; but the idea was too big
for him just then, and he broke down altogether.

"That's a settled point, and you must learn to
use a gun."

*'Woo — woo — ^woo — ^would you shoot Massa
Kun'l, if he come for to take yer?" demanded Cyd.

"I would, or any other man. I belong to myself
now, and I will fight for my own freedom to the

"I dunno 'bout dat, Dan," mused Cyd. "Hossi-
fus! Shoot Massa Kun'l! Dunno 'bout dat."

"Turn in, Cyd, and go to sleep. You may have
the first chance."

The two boys drew lots for the choice of berths,
and Dan obtained the after one. Cyd was soon
snoring in one of the forward bunks, while Dan
took his place upon deck to guard against the ap-
proach of man or beast that might threaten their
newly acquired freedom.



Dan had his solitary watch for four hours, with
nothing to disturb his meditations except the occa-
sional visit of an alligator; but as the ugly reptiles
did not offer to swallow the boat, or otherwise in-
terfere with her, the lonely sentinel did not even
challenge the intruders. He was very sleepy, for
he had not closed his eyes during the preceding
night, and his great purpose had sadly Interfered
with his slumbers since the time for its execution
had been fixed.

It was one o'clock when he called the "watch be-
low." Lily was still wrapped in slumber, worn out
by her sleepless night, and by the excitement of her
novel position. After charging Cyd to keep awake,
assuring him that "eternal vigilance was the price
of liberty," Dan went into the cabin to obtain the
rest he so much needed. He slept soundly, and,
no doubt, dreamed strange things; but when he



awoke it was early dark. Starting up with a spring,
he bounded to the deck, where he found Cyd fast
asleep upon the cushions of the standing-room.

"Cyd!" exclaimed he, seizing the faithless sen-'
tinel by the collar, "is this the way you keep

"Possifus 1" ejaculated Cyd, as he sprang to his
feet. "I done been asleep."

"Been asleep ! I should think you had ! Have
you been snoring here all the afternoon?"

"No, sar! Dis chile hain't been asleep more'n
two minutes — ^no, sar, nor more'n a minute and a

"Yes, you have; you have been asleep all the
afternoon. You deserve to be a slave all the rest
of your life !" added Dan, indignantly.

"Gossifusl I t'ink not. Wha — wha— wha —
what does you mean by dat?" stuttered Cyd.

"How dared you go to sleep when you were on

"I tell you, Dan, I'se been wide awake all de
arternoon. Hadn't been asleep quite two minutes."

"He hasn't slept long, Dan," said Lily, as she
came out of the cabin; "for I was with him only a
little while ago."


"Fm glad of It, If he hasn't," added Dan, more

"You kin bet yer life dis chile don't go to sleep
on de watch. No, sar 1"

"But you did go to sleep, Cyd. You were asleep
when I came on deck."

"I jes' close my eyes for a minute, but I was jes'
gwlne to wake up when you comed on deck."

"I can't keep awake all the time; I must sleep

" 'Bout six hours," chuckled Cyd; and his com-
panion had really slept about this time.

"Why didn't you call me then, as I did you?"

"I told him not to do so, Dan," Interposed Lily,
whose sweet smile was sure to remove any objec-
tion which Dan might have. "We ate our supper
about an hour ago. Cyd was going to call you,
but I wouldn't let him. I knew how tired you were,
and you will not have any chance to sleep to-night."

"It v/as kind of you, Lily," said Dan, with
a smile. "But I must teach Cyd not to sleep when
he Is on watch. Any carelessness of this kind might
spoil everything."

"I never'll go to sleep on de watch agin, so help
m.e Posslfus !" exclaimed Cyd, now fully impressed
by the magnitude of his criminal neglect.


"I'll answer for him," said Lily; "I'll stay on
deck and keep him awake next time."

"Oh, no, you needn't, Lily."

"But why can't I keep watch in the daytime,
and let both of you sleep ? If there was any danger
I could call you."

"I don't mean to ask you to keep watch, or do
any such work. It is not a woman's place."

"I mean to take my turn next," she said, reso-
lutely. "Now, Dan, I will get your supper. Cyd
and I ate bread and butter, and drank cold water:
but If you are going to sail the boat all night, you
will want some tea."

"Thank you, Lily; you arc very kind. I will
get the tea myself."

"No, you shall not. I am not going to be idle
all the time. I mean to do my share of the labor.
If It Isn't a woman's work to keep watch, it is to
get tea ; and, If you please, I will do It myself."

My young readers will remember that Lily,
though a slave girl, was a gentle, delicate creature.
She had never done any manual labor. She had
simply stood by her young mistress, fanned her
when she was warm, brushed away the flies, handed
her a book, or other article, when she wanted it,
picked up her handkerchief when she dropped It,


and assisted at her toilet. If Miss EditH needed any
greater exertion of bone and muscle, another per-
son was called to render the service. But she had
been about the kitchen and workrooms of the plan-
tation, and having a taste for the various house-
keeping operations, she had Incidentally acquired
some little skill in cooking, needlework, and other
branches of female industry.

Her form was agile and graceful, her organiza-
tion delicate; and no person, even with a knowl-
edge of her social condition, and rankly Imbued with
Southern prejudices, could have denied that she was
beautiful in form and feature. Her complexion
was fairer than that of a majority of Anglo-Saxon
maidens. Her eye was soft, and sweetly express-
ive. Such was Lily, the slave girl of Redlawn;
and when she talked of performing the drudgery
of the Isabel, Dan, with that chivalrous considera-
tion for the gentler sex which characterizes the true
gentleman, resented the idea. He preferred to
labor day and night, rather than permit her to soil
her white hands with the soot of the furnaces.

Lily, as we have seen, had wiser and more sen-
sible ideas on the subject. She had an instinctive
contempt for that sort of chivalry, and in spite of
the remonstrances of the knightly skipper of the


Isabel, she kindled a fire, and with the assistance of
Cyd, soon placed the tea and bread and butter upon
the cabin table. She then took her place at the
head of the board, and "did the honors" with an
elegance and grace which would have adorned the
breakfast parlor at Redlawn. Though Cyd had
been to supper, he accepted the invitation to repeat
the operation.

Before the meal was commenced, it was neces-
sary to light the cabin lantern, which swung over
the table. Whether there is any exhilaration In a
cup of tea or not, the party soon became very cheer-
ful; and Cyd was as chipper as though he were
in the midst of the Christmas holidays.

After supper Dan took the bateau, and pulled
out to the lake to reconnolter the position and as-;
sure himself that there were no obstacles to the de-
parture of the Isabel. When he returned, Lily had
washed the dishes and put the cabin in order, thus
carrying her point, and establishing herself as mis-
tress in this department. Dan did not deem it
prudent to start so early In the evening; but the
sails were hoisted, and everything made ready for
the departure.

The wind was light, and the leader of the expe-
dition had some doubts about starting at all that


night. The Isabel had made only about twenty
miles during the preceding night, with a strong
breeze to help her during a portion of the time. He
had carefully studied the maps in his possession,
and estimated the distances by the scale between
the various points. He knew exactly where he
intended to go, and a failure to reach the place be-
fore daylight would expose him to the risk of being
seen from some of the plantations on the banks
of the lake.

The responsibility of deciding this important
question rested upon him alone. The distance to
be accomplished before they could reach another
place of security was about twenty-five miles. An
average of three miles an hour would enable him
to complete the passage by sunrise, and he at last
decided to attempt it.

At about nine o'clock the two boys got into the
bateau, and towed the Isabel out of the creek, and
with gaff-topsails and stay-sail set, in addition to
the jib, fore, and main sails, the voyage was re-
newed. Keeping as near the western shore of the
lake as it was prudent to go, the boat glided gently
over the tranquil waters.

In a couple of hours the Isabel reached the nar-
row outlet of the lake. Thus far, the southwesterly


wind had enabled her to run with a free sheet ; but
at this point the course changed, and Dan found
that he should be compelled to beat dead to wind-
ward in order to reach his destination. Then he
wished he had not started ; but up the creek he had
been unable to determine from what direction the
light breeze came, and had decided the question to
the best of his ability.

Though he had no reason to reproach himself
for his want of care, the situation was none the less
difficult or trying on that account. But there was
one compensating advantage : as he passed through
the narrow outlet of the lake, the broad surface of
the Chetemache was before him. It was forty
miles long by ten miles wide, and afforded him
abundant space in which to work the boat. And
in this open sea the wind came unobstructed to his

The course of the Isabel, on her first tack, lay
close to the eastern shore of the lake. The boat
moved very slowly through the water, and Lily and
Cyd sat by the side of the skipper, talking in low
tones of the future, with its hopes and trials, its joys
and its dangers. Suddenly they heard a crackling
sound in the cane-brake near them ; then came from
a greater distance the bay of bloodhounds. There


was no mistaking these sounds; and for an hour
they listened In almost breathless anxiety to these
appalling Indications of a slave hunt.

The yelp of the dogs came nearer and nearer;
but they had lost the sounds which indicated the
presence of the hunted fugitive.

"Gossifus !" whispered Cyd, for he had been for-
bidden to speak a loud word. "Where you 'pose
de nigger dem dogs is chasin' is?'*

"I don't know. I pray that he may escape," re-
plied Dan.

"Can't you help him?" asked Lily, whose frame
shook with terror, as her fancy pictured the terrible
scene which she had so often heard described.

A splash in the water a hundred yards astern of
the Isabel now attracted the attention of the party.

"Can't you help him?" repeated Lily, in trem-
bling tones.

"It will not be safe for us to show ourselves,
for the human bloodhounds are not far off."

"Do help him if you can. Save him from those
terrible dogs I" pleaded Lily.

"He will swim to that island," said Dan. "Pei
haps the dogs will not catch him."

"Yes, they will.'*

'Tes, dey will. Dey done leap In de water.


Dar dey go!" added Cyd, as they listened to the
splashes as the brutes sprang Into the lake.

"Save him! Save him, Dan!" cried Lily.

"It may cost us our lives and our liberty," re-
plied Dan.

"No matter. Let us die If we can save the poor
man from the fangs of the bloodhounds."

"I will, Lily," replied Dan, as he put the Isabel
about, and headed toward the small Island, about
half a mile from the shore. "Take the helm, Cyd,"
continued he, as he left his post at the tiller, and
rushed Into the cabin.

He returned In a moment with two fowling-
pieces in his hands, and proceeded to load them.
By this time the panting fugitive was distinctly seen,
closely pursued by the dogs.



Dan had loaded the fowling-pieces with buck-
shot. Though not a good marksman, he had some
experience In the use of arms, and felt fully com-
petent to cut off the bloodhounds before they could
pounce upon their human prey. Leaving Cyd at
the helm, he went forward and stationed himself
at the heel of the bowsprit.

The dogs were better swimmers than the fugitive,
and were rapidly gaining upon him, for the poor
creature's limbs seemed to be partially paralyzed
by the appalling danger that menaced him. The
Isabel was approaching the scene of this exciting
race with a rapidity which promised soon to ter-
minate the affair.

Dan immediately obtained a correct Idea of the
relative positions of the dogs and the man. His
object was to run the boat between them, and thus
cut off the savage beasts from their prey.



"Luff a little, Cyd," said he.

"Luff 'em 'tis," replied the helmsman, who was
boatman enough to understand the nautical phrase,
and even to handle the craft under the direction of
a more skilful skipper.

"Steady as she is."

"See here, Dan, is you gwine to shoot?" asked

"Certainly I am. What do you suppose I got
the guns for?"

"Posslfus ! What you gwine to shoot?"

"The dogs, of course. Luff a little — luff! You
are letting her fall off."

"Luff 'em 'tis. See here, Dan. You be mighty
keerful you don't hit de nigger."

"Silence, now, and mind your helm! You are
steering wild."

Cyd had so far improved in the cultivation of the
quality of obedience on shipboard, that he did not
speak again, but he was fearfully excited by the
stirring scene which was transpiring near him. Dan
was not less moved, though his cool determination
produced a different manifestation of his feelings.
He was conscious of the danger to which his In-
terference in the hunt subjected him. There were
probably several slave hunters on the track of the


fugitive. The Isabel would be seen by them, and
possibly be recognized, which would certainly bring
pursuers upon her track.

But It was not in his nature to permit his suf-
fering fellow-creature, in this unequal strife, to be
conquered by his human and brute antagonists. The
appeal of the gentle Lily had been addressed to a
sympathizing heart, and he entered with all his
soul upon the task of saving the slave from the
fangs of his pursuers.

The Isabel had now come within a few yards of
the dogs and their prey. The time for action had
come. Dan was fully sensible of the great crime,
as the Southern slave law regarded it, of shooting
a "nigger dog" ; but with a steady hand, though his
heart bounded with exciting emotions, he raised the
gun to his shoulder, and taking deliberate aim at the
nearest hound, he fired. The brute gave a deep
yelp, and for some time continued to splash about
in the water.

"Don't shoot me, massa ! Don't shoot me, and
I'll gib myself up !" cried the fugitive, who seemed
to have heard the report of the gun, without ob-
serving the effect which the shot had produced.

"I mean to save you," replied Dan, as he leveled
the gun at another of the dogs; but this time he


missed his aim, and the hound continued to swim
toward the negro.

"Luff a little more," said Dan to Cyd, as the
boat came between the man and the dogs.

"Luff 'em 'tis."

As the boat now divided the dogs from their
prey, Dan did not again load the guns ; but seizing
the boat-hook, he gave the foremost hound a knock
on the head, which caused him to retreat, howling
with pain.

"Swim this way," cried Dan to the negro. "I
will save you."

"Yes, sar," gasped the negro, whose breath was
nearly exhausted by the hard struggle through
which he had just passed.

As the Isabel luffed up, the fugitive came along-
side, and Dan assisted him to climb upon the deck.

"O Lord!" groaned he, as he threw himself at
full length upon the forecastle.

"Poor fellow!" sighed Lily, who ran forward
to see the sufferer as soon as he was hauled on
board. "What can we do for him?"

"He needs rest. He is all worn out. He may
have run for miles before he took to the water."

"Can't we give him something? There is some
cold tea in the cabin."


"I will [email protected] him something," added Dan; and he
ran aft and entered the cabin.

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