Slavery in the United States/Chapter 23
The month of November is, in all years, a season of clouds and vapours; but at the time of which I write, the good weather vanished early in the month, and all the clouds of the universe seemed to have collected in North Carolina. From the second night after crossing the Catawba, I did not see the north-star for the space of three weeks; and during all this time, no progress was made in my journey; although I seldom remained two days in the same place, but moved from one position to another, for the purpose of eluding the observation of the people of the country, whose attention might have been attracted by the continual appearance of the smoke of my fires in one place.
There had, as yet, been no hard frost, and the leaves were still on the oak trees, at the close of this cloudy weather; but the northwest wind which dispelled the mist, also brought down nearly all the leaves of the forest, except those of the evergreen trees; and the nights now became clear, and the air keen with frost. Hitherto the oak woods had afforded me the safest shelter, but now I was obliged to seek for groves of young pines to retire to at dawn. Heretofore I had found a plentiful subsistence in every corn-field and potato-lot, that fell in my way: but now began to find some of the fields in which corn had grown, destitute of the corn, and containing nothing but the stalks. The potatoes had all been taken out of the lots where they grew, except in some few instances where they had been buried in the field; and the means of subsistence became every day more difficult to be obtained; but as I had fine weather, I made the best use of those hours in which I dared to travel, and was constantly moving from a short time after dark until daylight. The toil that I underwent for the first half of the month of December was excessive, and my sufferings for want of food were great. I was obliged to carry with me a stock of corn, sufficient to supply me for two or three days; for it frequently happened that I met with none in the fields for a long time. In the course of this period, I crossed innumerable streams, the greater portion of which were of small size, but some were of considerable magnitude; and in all of them the water had become almost as cold as ice. Sometimes I was fortunate enough to find boats or canoes tied at the side of the streams, and when this happened, I always made free use of that which no one else was using at the time; but this did not occur often, and I believe that in these two weeks I swam over nine rivers, or streams, so deep, that I could not ford them. The number of creeks and rivulets through which I waded, was far greater; but I cannot now fix the number.
In one of these fine nights, passing near the house of a planter, I saw several dry hides hanging on poles, under a shed. One of these hides I appropriated to myself, for the purpose of converting it into moccasins, to supply the place of my boots, which were totally worthless. By beating the dry hide with a stick it was made sufficiently pliable to bear making it into moccasins; of which I made for myself three pair, wearing one, and carrying the others on my back.
One day as I lay in a pine thicket, several pigs, which appeared to be wild, having no marks on their ears, came near me, and one of them approached so close without seeing me, that I knocked it down with a stone, and succeeded in killing it. This pig was very fat, and would have weighed thirty if not forty pounds. Feeling now greatly exhausted with the fatigues that I had lately undergone, and being in a very great forest, far removed from white inhabitants, I resolved to remain a few days in this place, to regale myself with the flesh of the pig, which I preserved by hanging it up in the shade, after cutting it into pieces. Fortune, so adverse to me heretofore, seemed to have been more kind to me at this time, for the very night succeeding the day on which I killed the pig, a storm of hail, snow, and sleet, came on, and continued fifteen or sixteen hours. The snow lay on the ground four inches in depth, and the whole country was covered with a crust almost hard enough to bear a man. In this state of the weather I could not travel, and my stock of pork was invaluable to me. The pork was frozen where it hung on the branches of the trees, and was as well preserved as if it had been buried in snow; but on the fourth day after the snow fell, the atmosphere underwent a great change. The wind blew from the south, the snow melted away, the air became warm, and the sun shone with the brightness, and almost with the warmth of spring. It was manifest that my pork, which was now soft and oily, would not long be in a sound state. If I remained here, my provisions would become putrid on my hands in a short time, and compel me to quit my residence to avoid the atmosphere of the place.
I resolved to pursue my journey, and prepared myself, by roasting before the fire, all my pork that was left, wrapping it up carefully in green pine leaves, and enveloping the whole in a sort of close basket, that I made of small boughs of trees. Equipping myself for my journey with my meat in my knapsack, I again took to the woods, with the stars for my guide, keeping the north-star over my left eye.
The weather had now become exceedingly variable, and I was seldom able to travel more than half of the night. The fields were muddy, the low grounds in the woods were wet, and often covered with water, through which I was obliged to wade—the air was damp and cold by day, the nights were frosty, very often covering the water with ice an inch in thickness. From the great degree of cold that prevailed, I inferred, either that I was pretty far north, or that I had advanced too much to the left, and was approaching the mountain country.
To satisfy myself as far as possible of my situation, one fair day, when the sky was very clear, I climbed to the top of a pine-tree that stood on the summit of a hill, and took a wide survey of the region around me. Eastward, I saw nothing but a vast continuation of plantations, intervened by forests; on the south, the faint beams of a winter sun shed a soft lustre over the woods, which were dotted at remote distances, with the habitations of men, and the openings that they had made in the green champaign of the endless pine-groves, that nature had planted in the direction of the midday sun. On the north, at a great distance, I saw a tract of low and flat country, which, in my opinion, was the vale of some great river, and beyond this, at the farthest stretch of vision, the eye was lost in the blue transparent vault, where the extremity of the arch of the world touches the abode of perpetual winter. Turning westward, the view passed beyond the region of pine-trees, which was followed afar off by naked and leafless oaks, hickories, and walnuts; and still beyond these rose high in air, elevated tracts of country, clad in the white livery of snow, and bearing the impress of mid-winter.
It was now apparent that I had borne too far westward, and was within a few days travel of the mountains. Descending from my observations, I determined, on the return of night, to shape my course, for the future, nearly due east, until I should at least be out of the mountains.
According to my calendar, it was the day before Christmas that I ascended the pine-tree; and I believe I was at that time in the north-western part of North Carolina, not far from the banks of the Yadkin river. On the following night I travelled from dark until, as I supposed, about three or four o'clock in the morning, when I came to a road which led, as I thought, in an easterly direction. This road I travelled until daylight, and encamped near it in an old field, overgrown with young pines, and holly-trees.
This was Christmas-day, and I celebrated it by breakfasting on fat pork, without salt, and substituted parched corn for bread. In the evening, the weather became cloudy and cold, and when night came, it was so dark, that I found difficulty in keeping in the road, at some points where it made short angles. Before midnight it began to snow, and at break of day the snow lay more than a foot deep. This compelled and to seek winter quarters; and fortunately, at about half a mile from the road, I found, on the side of a steep hill, a shelving rock that formed a dry covert, with a southern prospect.
Under this rock 1 took refuge, and kindling a fire of dry sticks, considered myself happy to possess a few pounds of my roasted pork, and more than half a gallon of corn that I carried in my pockets. The snow continued falling, until it was full two feet deep around me, and the danger of exposing myself to discovery by my tracks in the snow, compelled me to keep close to my hiding place until the third day, when I ventured to go back to the road, which I found broken by the passage of numerous wagons, sleds, and horses, and so much beaten that I could travel it with ease at night, the snow affording good light.
Accordingly at night I again advanced on my way, which indeed I was obliged to do, for my corn was quite gone, and not more than a pound of my pork remained to me. I travelled hard through the night, and after the morning star rose, came to a river, Which I think must have been the Yadkin. It appeared to be about two hundred yards wide, and the water ran with great rapidity in it.
Waiting until the eastern horizon was tinged with the first rays of the morning light, I entered the river at the ford, and waded until the water was nearly three feet deep, when it felt as if it was cutting the flesh from the bones of my limbs, and a large cake of ice floating downward, forced me off my balance, and I was near falling. My courage failed me, and I returned to the shore; but found the pain that already tormented me, greatly increased, when I was out of the water, and exposed to the action of the open air. Returning to the river, I plunged into the current to relieve me from the pinching frost, that gnawed every part of my skin that had become wet; and rushing forward as fast as the weight of the water, that pressed me downward, would permit, was soon up to my chin in melted ice, when rising to the surface, I exerted my utmost strength and skill to gain the opposite shore by swimming in the shortest space of time. At every stroke of my arms and legs, they were cut and bruised by cakes of solid ice, or weighed down by floating masses of congealed snow.
It is impossible for human life to be long sustained in such an element as that which encompassed me; and I had not been afloat five minutes before I felt chilled in all my members, and in less than the double of that time, my limbs felt numbed, and my hands became stiff, and almost powerless.
When at the distance of thirty feet from the shore, my body was struck by a violent current, produced by a projecting rock above me, and driven with resistless violence down the stream. Wholly unable to contend with the fury of the waves, and penetrated by the coldness of death, in my inmost vitals, I gave myself up for lost, and was commending my soul to God, whom I expected to be my immediate judge, when I perceived the long hanging branch of a large tree, sweeping to and fro, and undulating backward and forward, as its extremities were washed by the surging current of the river, just below me. In a moment I was in contact with the tree, and making the effort of despair, seized one of its limbs. Bowed down by the weight of my body, the branch yielded to the power of the water, which rushing against my person, swept me round like the quadrant of a circle, and dashed me against the shore, where clinging to some roots that grew near the bank, the limb of the tree left me, and springing with elastic force to its former position, again dipped its slender branches in the mad stream.
Crawling out of the water, and being once more on dry land, I found my circumstances little less desperate, than when I was struggling with the floating ice. The morning was frosty, and icicles hung in long pendant groups from the trees along the shore of the river, and the hoar frost glistened in sparkling radiance, upon the polished surface of the smooth snow, as it whitened all the plain before me, and spread its chill but beautiful covering through the woods.
There were three alternatives before me, one of which I knew must quickly be adopted. The one was to obtain a fire, by which I could dry and warm my stiffened limbs; the second was to die, without the fire; the third, to go to the first house, if I could reach one, and surrender myself as a runaway slave.
Staggering, rather than walking forward, until I gained the cover of a wood, at a short distance from the river, I turned into it, and found that a field bordered the wood within less than twenty rods of the road. Within a few yards of this fence I stopped, and taking out my fire apparatus, to my unspeakable joy, found them dry and in perfect safety. With the aid of my spunk, and some dry moss gathered from the fence, a small flame was obtained, to which dry leaves being added from the boughs of a white oak tree, that had fallen before the frost of the last autumn had commenced, I soon had fire of sufficient intensity, to consume dry wood, with which I supplied it, partly from the fence, and partly from the branches of the fallen tree. Having raked away the snow from about the fire, by the time the sun was up, my frozen clothes were smoking before the coals—warming first one side and then the other—I felt the glow of returning life, once more invigorating my blood, and giving animation to my frozen limbs.
The public road was near me on one hand, and an enclosed field was before me on the other, but in my present condition, it was impossible for me to leave this place to-day, without danger of perishing in the woods, or of being arrested on the road.
As evening came on, the air became much colder than it was in the forenoon, and after night the wind rose high, and blew from the northwest, with intense keenness. My limbs were yet stiff from the effects of my morning adventure, and to complete my distress, I was totally without provisions, having left a few ears of corn, that I had in my pocket, on the other side of the river.
Leaving my fire in the night, and advancing into the field near me, I discovered a house at some distance, and as there was no light, or sign of fire about it, I determined to reconnoitre the premises, which turned out to be a small barn, standing alone, with no other inhabitants about it than a few cattle and a flock of sheep. After much trouble, I succeeded in entering the barn by starting the nails that confined one of the boards at the corner. Entering the house I found it nearly filled with corn, in the husks, and some from which the husks had been removed, was lying in a heap in one corner.
Into these husks I crawled, and covering myself deeply under them, soon became warm, and fell into a profound sleep, from which I was awakened by the noise of people walking about in the barn, and talking of the cattle and sheep, which it appeared they had come to feed, for they soon commenced working in the corn husks, with which I was cover- ed, and throwing them out to the cattle. I expected at every moment that they would uncover me; but fortunately before they saw me, they ceased their operations, and went to work, some husking corn, and throwing the husks on the pile over me, while others were employed in loading the husked corn into carts, as I learned by their conversation, and hauling it away to the house. The people continued working in the barn all day, and in the evening gave more husks to the cattle and went home.
Waiting two or three hours after my visiters were gone, I rose from the pile of husks, and filling my pockets with ears of corn, issued from the barn, at the same place by which [ had entered it, and returned to the woods, where I kindled a fire in a pine thicket, and parched more than half a gallon of corn. Before day I returned to the barn, and again secreted myself in the corn husks. In the morning the people again returned to their work, and husked corn until the evening. At night I again repaired to the woods, and parched more corn. In this manner I passed more than a month, lying in the barn all day, and going to the woods at night; but at length the corn was all husked, and I watched daily the progress that was made in feeding the cattle with the husks, knowing that I must quit my winter retreat, before the husks were exhausted. Before the husked corn was removed from the barn, I had conveyed several bushels of the ears into the husks, near my bed, and concealed them for my winter’s stock.
Whilst I lay in this barn, there were frequent and great changes of weather. The snow that covered the earth to the depth of two feet, when I came here, did not remain more than ten days, and was succeeded by more than a week of warm rainy weather, which was in turn succeeded by several days of dry weather, with cold high winds from the north. The month of February was cloudy and damp, with several squalls of snow and frequent rains. About the first of March, the atmosphere became clear and dry, and the winds boisterous from the west.
On the third of this month, having filled my little bag and all my pockets with parched corn, I quitted my winter quarters about ten o’clock at night, and again proceeded on my way to the north, leaving a large heap of corn husks still lying in the corner of the barn.
On leaving this place, I again pursued the road that had led me to it, for several nights; crossing many small streams in my way, all of which I was able to pass without swimming, though several of them were so deep, that they wet me as high as my arm-pits. This road led nearly northeast, and was the only road that I had fallen in with, since I left Georgia, that had maintained that direction for so great a distance. Nothing extraordinary befell me until the twelfth of March, when venturing to turn out earlier than usual in the evening, and proceeding along the road, I found that my way led me down a hill, along the side of which the road had been cut into the earth ten or twelve feet in depth, having steep banks on each side, which were now so damp and slippery, that it was impossible for a man to ascend either the one or the other.
Whilst in this narrow place, I heard the sound of horses proceeding up the hill to meet me. Stopping to listen, in a moment almost two horsemen were close before me, trotting up the road. To escape on either hand was impossible, and to retreat backwards would have exposed me to certain destruction. Only one means of salvation was left, and I embraced it. Near the place where I stood, was a deep gully cut in one side of the road, by the water which had run down here in time of rains. Into this gully I threw myself, and lying down close to the ground, the horsemen rode almost over me, and passed on. When they were gone I arose, and descending the hill, found a river before me.
In crossing this stream, I was compelled to swim at least two hundred yards; and found the cold so oppressive, after coming out of the water, that I was forced to stop at the first thick woods that I could find, and make a fire to dry myself. I did not move again until the next night; and on the fourth night after this, came to a great river, which I suppose was the Roanoke. I was obliged to swim this stream, and was carried a great way down by the rapidity of the current. It must have been more than an hour from the time that I entered the water, until I reached the opposite shore, and as the rivers were yet very cold, I suffered greatly at this place.
Judging by the aspect of the country, I believed myself to be at this time in Virginia; and was now reduced to the utmost extremity, for want of provisions. The corn that I had parched at the barn, and brought with me, was nearly exhausted, and no more was to be obtained in the fields, at this season of the year. For three or four days I allowed myself only my two hands full of parched corn per day; and after this I travelled three days without tasting food of any kind; but being nearly exhausted with hunger, I one night entered an old stack-yard, hoping that I might fall in with pigs, or poultry of some kind. I found, instead of these, a stack of oats, which had not been threshed. From this stack I took as much oats in the sheaf, as I could carry, and going on a few miles, stopped in a pine forest, made a large fire, and parched at least half a gallon of oats, after rubbing the grain from the straw. After the grain was parched, I again rubbed it in my hands, to separate it from the husks, and spent the night in feasting on parched oats.
The weather was now becoming quite warm, though the water was cold in the rivers; and I perceived the farmers had everywhere ploughed their fields, preparatory to planting corn. Every night I saw people burning brush in the new grounds that they were clearing of the wood and brush; and when the day came, in the morning after I obtained the oats, I perceived people planting corn in a field about half a mile from my fire. According to my computation of time, it was on the night of the last day of March that I obtained the oats; and the appearance of the country satisfied me, that I had not lost many days in my reckoning.
I lay in this pine-wood two days, for the purpose of recruiting my strength, after my long fast; and when [ again resumed my journey, determined to seek some large road leading towards the north, and follow it in future; the one that [ had been pursuing of late, not appearing to be a principal high-way of the country. For this purpose, striking off across the fields, in an easterly direction, I travelled a few hours, and was fortunate enough to come to a great road, which was manifestly much travelled, leading towards the northeast.
My bag was now replenished with more than a gallon of parched oats, and I had yet one pair of moccasins made of raw hide; but my shirt was totally gone, and my last pair of trousers was now in actual service. A tolerable waistcoat still remained to me, and my great coat, though full of honourable scars, was yet capable of much service.
Having resolved to pursue the road I was now in, it was necessary again to resort to the utmost degree of caution, to prevent surprise. Travelling only after it was dark, and taking care to stop before the appearance of day, my progress was not rapid, but my safety was preserved.
The acquisition of food had now become difficult, and when my oats began to fail, I resorted to the dangerous expedient of attacking the corn-crib of a planter that was near the road. The house was built of round logs, and was covered with boards. One of these boards I succeeded in removing, on the side of the crib opposite from the dwelling, and by thrusting my arm downwards, was able to reach the corn—of which I took as much as filled my bag, the pockets of my great coat, and a large handkerchief, that I had preserved through all the vicissitudes of my journey. This opportune supply of corn furnished me with food more than a week, and before it was consumed, I reached the Appomattox river, which I crossed in a canoe, that I found tied at the shore, a few miles above the town of Petersburg. Having approached Petersburg in the night, I was afraid to attempt to pass through it, lest the patrol should fall in with me; and turning to the left through the country, reached the river, and crossed in safety.
The great road leading to Richmond is so distinguishingly marked above the other ways in this part of Virginia, that there was no difficulty in following it, and on the third night after passing Petersburg, obtained a sight of the capitol of Virginia. It was only a little after midnight, when the city presented itself to my sight; but here, as well as at Petersburg, I was afraid to attempt to go through the town, under cover of the darkness, because of the patrol. Turning, therefore, back into a forest, about two miles from the small town on the south-side of the river, I lay there until after twelve o'clock in the day, when loosening the package from my back, and taking it in my hand in the form of a bundle, I advanced into the village, as if I had only come from some plantation in the neighbourhood.
This was on Sunday, I believe, though according to my computation, it was Monday; but it must have been Sunday, for the village was quiet, and in passing it, I only saw two or three persons, whom I passed as if I had not seen them. No one spoke to me, and I gained the bridge in safety, and crossed it without attracting the least attention.
Entering the city of Richmond, I kept along the principal street, walking at a slow pace, and turning my head from side to side, as if much attracted by the objects around me. Few persons were in the street, and I was careful to appear more attentive to the houses than to the people. At the upper end of the city I saw a great crowd of ladies and lay on the north of Richmond, and full four miles from the river. This was the boldest exploit that I had performed since leaving my mistress, except the visit I paid to the gentleman in Georgia., who were, I believe, returning from church. Whilst these people were passing me, I stood in the street, on the outside of the foot pavement, with my face turned to the opposite side of the street. They all went by without taking any notice of me; and when they were gone, I again resumed my leisure walk along the pavement, and reached the utmost limit of the town without being accosted by any one. As soon as I was clear of the city I quickened my pace, assumed the air of a man in great haste, sometimes actually ran, and in less than an hour was safely lodged in the thickest part of the woods that
My corn was now failing, but as I had once entered a crib secretly, I felt but little apprehension on account of future supplies. After this time I never wanted corn, and did not again suffer by hunger, until I reached the place of my nativity.
After leaving Richmond, I again kept along the great road by which I had travelled on my way south, taking great care not to expose my person unnecessarily. For several nights saw no white people on the way, but was often met by black ones, whom I avoided by turning out of the road; but one moonlight night, five or six days after I left Richmond, a man stepped out of the woods almost at my side, and accosting me in a familiar manner, asked me which way I was travelling, how long I had been on the road, and made many inquiries concerning the course of my late journey. This man was a mulatto, and carried a heavy cane, or rather club, in his hand. I did not like his appearance, and the idea of a familiar conversation with any one seemed to terrify me. I determined to watch my companion closely, and he appeared equally intent on observing me; but at the same time that he talked with me, he was constantly drawing closer to, and following behind me. This conduct increased my suspicion, and I began to wish to get rid of him, but could not at the moment imagine how I should effect my purpose. To avoid him, I crossed the road several times; but still he followed me closely. The moon, which shone brightly upon our backs, cast his shadow far before me, and enabled me to perceive his motions with the utmost accuracy, Without turning my head towards him. He carried his club under his left arm, and at length raised his right hand gently, took the stick by the end, and drawing it slowly over his head, was in the very act of striking a blow at me, when, springing backward, and raising my own staff at the same moment, I brought him to the ground by a stroke on his forehead; and when I had him down, beat him over the back and sides with my weapon, until he roared for mercy, and begged me not to kill him. I left him in no condition to pursue me, and hastened on my way, resolved to get as far from him before day as my legs would carry me.
This man was undoubtedly one of those wretches who are employed by white men to kidnap and betray such unfortunate people of colour as may chance to fall into their hands; but for once the deceiver was deceived, and he who intended to make prey of me, had well nigh fallen a sacrifice himself.
The same night I crossed the Pammunky river, near the village of Hanover by swimming, and secreted myself before day in a dense cedar thicket, The next night, after I had travelled several miles, in ascending a hill, I saw the head of a man rise on the opposite side, without having heard any noise, instantly ran into the woods, and concealed myself behind a large tree. The traveller was on horseback, and the road being sandy, and his horse moving only at a walk, I had not heard his approach until I saw him. He also saw me; for when he came opposite the place where I stood, he stopped his horse in the road, and desired me to tell him how far it was to some place, the name of which I have forgotten. As I made no answer, he again repeated the inquiry; and then said, I need not be afraid to speak, as he did not wish to hurt me; but no answer being given him, he at last said I might as well speak, and rode on.
Before day I reached the Matapony river, and crossed it by wading; but knowing that I was not far from Maryland, I fell into a great indiscretion, and forgot the wariness and caution that had enabled me to overcome obstacles apparently insurmountable. Anxious to get forward, I neglected to conceal myself before day; but travelled until daybreak before I sought a place of concealment, and unfortunately, when I looked for a hiding place, none was at hand. This compelled me to keep on the road, until gray twilight, for the purpose of reaching a wood that was in view before me; but to gain this wood I was obliged to pass a house, that stood at the road side, and when only about fifty yards beyond the house, a white man opened the door, and seeing me in the road, called to me to stop. As this order was not obeyed, he set his dog upon me. The dog was quickly vanquished by my stick, and setting off to run at full speed, I at the same moment heard the report of a gun, and received its contents in my legs, chiefly about, and in my hams. I fell on the road, and was soon surrounded by several persons, who it appeared were a party of patrollers, who had gathered together in this house. They ordered me to cross ‘my hands, which order not being immediately obeyed, they beat me with sticks and stones until I was almost senseless, and entirely unable to make resistance. They then bound me with cords, and dragged me by the feet back to the house, and threw me into the kitchen, like a dead dog. One of my eyes was almost beaten out, and the blood was running from my mouth, nose and ears; but in this condition they refused to wash the blood from my face, or even to give me a drink of water.
In a short time, a justice of the peace arrived, and when he looked at me, ordered me to be unbound, and to have water to wash myself, and also some bread to eat. This man’s heart appeared not to be altogether void of sensibility, for he reprimanded, in harsh terms, those who had beaten me; told them that their conduct was brutal, and that it would have been more humane to kill me outright, than to bruise and mangle me in the manner they had done.
He then interrogated me as to my name, place of abode, and place of destination, and afterwards demanded the name of my master. T'o all these inquiries I made no reply, except that I was going to Maryland, where I lived. The justice told me it was his duty under the law, to send me to jail; and I was immediately put into a cart, and carried to a small village called Bowling Green, which I reached before ten o'clock.
There I was locked up in the jail, and a doctor came to examine my legs, and extract the shot from my wounds. In the course of the operation he took out thirty-four duck shot, and after dressing my legs left me to my own reflections. No fever followed in the train of my disasters, which I attributed to the reduced state of my blood, by long fasting, and the fatigues I had undergone.
In the afternoon, the jailer came to see me, and brought my daily allowance of provisions, and a jug of water. The provisions consisted of more than a pound of corn-bread, and. some boiled bacon. As my appetite was good, I immediately devoured more than two-thirds of this food, but reserved the rest for supper.
For several days I was not able to stand, and in this period found great difficulty in performing the ordinary offices of life for myself, no one coming to give me any aid; but I did not suffer for want of food, the daily allowance of the jailer being quite sufficient to appease the cravings of hunger. After I grew better, and was able to walk in the jail, the jailer frequently called to see me, and endeavoured to prevail on me to tell where I had come from; but in this undertaking, he was no more successful than the justice had been in the same business.
I remained in the jail more than a month, and in this time became quite fat and strong, but saw no way by which I could escape. The jail was of brick, the floors were of solid oak boards, and the door, of the same material, was secured by iron bolts, let into its posts, and connected together by a strong band of iron, reaching from the one to the other.
Every thing appeared sound and strong, and to add to my security, my feet were chained together, from the time my wounds were healed. This chain I acquired the knowledge of removing from my feet, by working out of its socket a small iron pin that secured the bolt that held the chain round one of my legs.
The jailer came to see me with great regularity, every morning and evening, but remained only a few minutes, when he came, leaving me entirely alone at all other times.