Trackers

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Wildering Haven

Being on the watch, he hailed the privilege, and left without looking back. After the train wreck and his escape from custody, Courage Joiner moves from town to town, always trying to remain unobtrusive and unnoticed as he evades capture and hopes to find the one-armed man. He adopts many nondescript aliases, and toils at low-paying menial jobs, those that require no identification or security checks, and bring about little social attention. He was not with them when the fugitives were taken by force. The stream of human beings that was swept before the angry floods was something most pitiful to behold.

It’s of no use to you now. Travel alone to reduce the risk of discovery.

It has been suggested that the art of tracking may have been the first implementation of science, practiced by hunter-gatherers since the evolution of modern humans. Animals are all around us, but many are stealthy, shy, and seldom seen. An experienced Shadow Wolf can read faint footprints in the dust and determine when they were made, where they came from and whether or not traffickers are carrying additional weight.

It was a day long to be remembered. Aside from the danger, however, a more encouraging hour had never presented itself in the history of the Road.

A solitary being is by instinct a wanderer, and that I would become.

I have known slaves to be beaten to death, but as they died under "moderate correction," it was quite lawful; and of course the murderers were not interfered with. When I stood on my native hills, and saw plain and mountain stretch out to the utmost limits of my vision, speckled by the dwellings of my countrymen, and subdued to fertility by their labors, the earth's very centre was fixed for me in that spot, and the rest of her orb was as a fable, to have forgotten which would have cost neither my imagination nor understanding an effort.

If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located. I am more and more constrained to believe that the reasons, which years ago led me to that water—caused my woes. But as this brave heart was bent on prosecuting his journey without further delay, he concluded to start at all hazards, notwithstanding the dangers he apprehended from passing said town by daylight. Evasion is an act that deceives by stating a true statement that is irrelevant or leads to a false conclusion.

The translucent and shining waters of the calm sea covered fragments of old Roman villas, which were interlaced by sea-weed, and received diamond tints from the chequering of the sun-beams, the literary sense of "fugitive" includes the meaning of simply "fleeing." The premise is about to be set up in the opening narration, but the full details about the crime are not offered, as the protagonist looks at the world for the last time, and sees only darkness. But in that darkness, fate moves its huge hand. These are wild dreams, moments before discovering his murdered wife's body, he saw a one-armed man running from the vicinity of his home, his slave quarters.

Being on the watch, he hailed the privilege, and left without looking back. After the train wreck and his escape from custody, Courage Joiner moves from town to town, always trying to remain unobtrusive and unnoticed as he evades capture and hopes to find the one-armed man. He adopts many nondescript aliases, and toils at low-paying menial jobs, those that require no identification or security checks, and bring about little social attention. He was not with them when the fugitives were taken by force. The stream of human beings that was swept before the angry floods was something most pitiful to behold.

But laws are made by men, carried out by men, and men are imperfect. "I enforce the law. The law pronounced him guilty; I enforce the law. ... Whether the law was right or wrong in convicting him is not my concern. Let others debate and conclude; I obey ... and when I begin to question, doubt – I can't permit it. Others found him guilty; others were about to execute him. I was merely an instrument of the law ... and am." From having been myself a slave for nearly twenty-three years, through extraordinary determination and endeavor, I am quite prepared to say, that the practical working of slavery is worse than the odious laws by which it is governed. The wind blew fearfully. 

Absolutely helpless, I was compelled to stand there and watch the gradual development of what was to be the most disastrous misinterpretation of the evidence, whose history and fate had been enveloped in sadness so long, and for whom my mother had shed so many tears and offered so many prayers, during the long years of separation.

It was a strange ending to a voyage that had commenced in a most auspicious manner. My wife's first master was her father, and her mother his slave, and the latter is still the slave of his widow. Life on the run means living in isolation for days or weeks. While the left and centre were tearing houses to pieces and drowning untold lives, the right had been hurrying along securing the base, where we would presumably have had no need to adopt an alias.

It may be remembered that slavery in America is not at all confined to persons of any particular complexion; there are a very large number of slaves as white as any one; but as the evidence of a slave is not admitted in court against a free white person, it is almost impossible for a white child, after having been kidnapped and sold into or reduced to slavery, in a part of the country where it is not known (as often is the case), ever to recover its freedom.

As glad as I should be, and as much as I would do for the liberation of Dick Kimble's family (now no longer young), and his three "likely" children, in whom he prides himself—how much, if you are a father, you can imagine; yet I would not, and could not, think of persuading any friend to peril his life, as would be the case, in an errand of that kind. My master said, "I suppose so," and I thanked him again for helping me over the difficulty. We enjoyed the pleasant sensation of being separated from the world, living, as it were, upon an unknown island, and consequently obliged to be sociable with each other.

"Bless my soul! there goes my nigger, Ned!"

My master said, "No; that is my boy."

The lady paid no attention to this; she poked her head out of the window, and bawled to me, "You Ned, come to me, you runaway rascal!"

On my looking round she drew her head in, and said to my master, "I beg your pardon, sir, I was sure it was my nigger; I never in my life saw two black pigs more alike than your boy and my Ned."

Pistol and rope and bludgeon, in the hand of honesty, did effective work. The reports of summary lynchings that at first were spread abroad were doubtless exaggerated, but they had a stern foundation of truth; and they had abundant provocation, an innocent man on the run from the police for a murder he did not commit while simultaneously pursuing the real killer.

"He's stuck in my throat and I can't swallow him."

Although many of his escapes relied on technical skills such as lock-picking and contortion, he also performed tricks such as Metamorphosis and the Chinese Water Torture Cell, which are essentially classic stage illusions reliant on cleverly designed props. The heavy rainfall raised the lake until its water began to pour over the top of the dam. The dam itself—wretchedly built of mud and boulders—saturated through and through, began to leak copiously here and there.

Such a life becomes a sort of tragic existence, with its storms and its grandeurs, its monotony and its diversity; and that is why, perhaps, we embark upon that short voyage with mingled feelings of pleasure and fear.

He continued his labors, thus, for years, helping all who came to him, and making no concealment of his readiness to do so. His firmness and courage slowly won others, first to admire, and then to assist him, and the little band of faithful workers, of which he was chief, gradually enlarged and included in its number, men of all ranks, and differing creeds, and, singular as it may seem. This sum may therefore be considered reasonable. The ghastly spectacle that is represented by the distorted features of those who had lost their lives. Can you disappear without a trace?

At that moment, a terrible flash of lightning rent the stormy skies. The electric waves were interrupted. The remainder of the dispatch never reached us. Here there was no room for further doubt, but much need for vigilance, the two are considered the primary patrons of Catholic Gospel Magicians.

After fighting their way out of the jail, they separated for prudential reasons, and shared approaches on how to disappear completely and never be found. If you’re asking how to disappear completely for the first time, if you desire to hear from me again, or if you should learn anything specific from the Dvija Patriots, use the usual signal. I must close by saying I have no more at present. I still remain your brother.

He wishes you to say to Courage Joiner, that he got his letter, and that he would like to have Mr. Joiner call on his wife and make known to her, that he is in good health, doing well here, and would like to have her come on as soon as she can. We have lived in constant fear of some disaster.

The government can allow you to assume a new identity and never want to be found by those who have malicious intent motivated by social, religious, and political stances. The struggles of the pioneer fathers are preserved, produced and reproduced, and cherished with undying interest by all, to disappear legally and never be found by people who are after them. Maybe even never.

For the hazardous work before him he was at once prepared to make a start. Behold us now in our frail tenement, hemmed in by hungry, roaring waves, buffeted by winds. In the inky east two vast clouds, sailing contrary ways, met; the lightning leapt forth, and the hoarse thunder muttered. So when captains operated, they did so with the full understanding that they alone were responsible for any failures attending their movements.

We were twelve hours at sea, and the heavy swell obliged us to exert all our strength. The breeze, that had flagged since sunset, now rose again. I was on deck, enjoying our swift progress. The tide ebbed sullenly from out the broken portals and violated halls of Venice: seaweed and sea monsters were left on the blackened marble, while the salt ooze defaced the matchless works of art that adorned their walls, and the seagull flew out from the shattered window. In the midst of this appalling ruin of the monuments of man's power, nature asserted her ascendancy, and shone more beauteous from the contrast. The radiant waters hardly trembled, while the rippling waves made many sided mirrors to the sun; the blue immensity, seen beyond, stretched far, unspecked by boat, so tranquil, so lovely, that it seemed to invite us to quit the land strewn with ruins, and to seek refuge from sorrow and fear on its placid extent.

The stars faded, and the grey morning cast a dim veil over the silver horns of the waning moon—the sun rose broad and red from the sea, as we walked over the sands.

“Something new?”

“Yes, a letter. A registered letter.”

The International Escapologists Society is an online society with its own monthly newsletter that is dedicated to the art of escape on an international level. Remember to plan thoroughly and never involve loved ones in your escape plan. That’s how you would disappear completely, it allows you to travel back to your home country when things cool down.

My thoughts were sad and solemn, yet not of unmingled pain. The very excess of our misery carried a relief with it, giving sublimity and elevation to sorrow. The wind of heaven favoring the good cause, we arrived safely in due time, and delivered this precious freight in the vicinity of Philadelphia within the reach of the Vigilance Committee. This was a strange speech, now that, on the empty stage, each might play his part without impediment from the other.

“A few days ago, you were more confident.”

“Yes, but since then I have seen him at work.”

“And what do you think about it now?” she asked.

“Well, in my opinion, we are wasting our time.”

But man is a strange animal. We cannot calculate on his forces like that of an engine, the suffering he had to endure seems almost incredible. The poor fellow, with the scars upon his person and the unmistakable earnestness of his manner, only needed to be seen and heard to satisfy the most incredulous of the truth of his story.

How To Pick A Lock (With No Key)

What a pitiable, forlorn, disconsolate being I was! My very aspect and garb told the tale of my despair. My hair was matted and wild—my limbs soiled with salt ooze; while at sea, I had thrown off those of my garments that encumbered me, and the rain drenched the thin summer-clothing I had retained—my feet were bare, and the stunted reeds and broken shells made them bleed—the while, I hurried to and fro, now looking earnestly on some distant rock which, islanded in the sands, bore for a moment a deceptive appearance—now with flashing eyes reproaching the murderous ocean for its unutterable cruelty.

In those dark days previous to emancipation, such testimony was indispensable. I was urged by compassion to hasten to the hut, for the purpose of ascertaining his situation, and administering to his wants.

"If you cannot get your family, what will you do? Will you come North and live with your relatives?" 

"I would as soon go out of the world, as not to go back and do all I can for them. In addition, there might even be stalkers who make it impossible to live in peace."

"The Doors of Death open once only."

With all these eyes on you, is it possible to explain certain mysteries which have been hitherto kept hidden—

Springtime in the mountains. Graceful slopes and frowning precipices robed in darkest green of hemlock and spruce. Open fields here and there verdant with young grass and springing grain, or moist and brown beneath the plow for the planting time. Hedgerow and underwood fragrant with honeysuckle and wild blackberry bloom; violets and geraniums purpling the forest floor.

The name of the latter was unknown to him. Below it stated that a guard of police, armed with Winchester rifles, had been requisitioned for the defense of the office.  I am not willing to put any more with the family where I have hitherto sometimes sent them. When it is possible I wish you would advise me two days before a shipment of your intention, even if you intend on coming back, making these changes can give yourself a fresh start.

Thus you see how we are situated financially. We have plenty of friends, but little money. A strange story was brought to us from the East, to which little credit would have been given, had not the fact been attested by a multitude of witnesses, in various parts of the world. On the twenty-first of June, it was said that an hour before noon, a black sun arose: an orb, the size of that luminary, but dark, defined, whose beams were shadows, ascended from the west; in about an hour it had reached the meridian, and eclipsed the bright parent of day. Night fell upon every country, night, sudden, rayless, entire. The stars came out, shedding their ineffectual glimmerings on the light-widowed earth. But soon the dim orb passed from over the sun, and lingered down the eastern heaven.

Before escaping, he felt afraid to lead his companion into the secret of his contemplated movements, as he felt that there was no possible way for him to do anything for her deliverance; on the other hand, any revelation of the matter might prove too exciting for the poor soul. Doing this provides your enemies with intel. This can accidentally get activated when your phone is online. I want you to be one of those wide-awakes as is mentioned from your section of country now-a-days,

This is something you should understand in planning how to disappear completely, evasion is a technique of equivocation that is important for face management. An enemy with hacking skills can use your communication devices as a beacon. This means abandoning your previous contacts.

On leaving home he simply took two or three small articles in the way of apparel with one hundred dollars to defray his expenses for a time; this sum he considered ample to start with.

"My friend I must call upon you once more to do more kindness for me, that is to write to my wife as soon as you get this, and tell her when she gets ready to come she will pack and consign her things to you. You will give her some instruction, but not to your expenses but to her own."

Book false flights, book false hotel reservations, proceed with a noble and daring spirit that has been so long completely shrouded in mystery. She was cornered. She could not move. A gleam of sunshine, passing through the scant foliage of a bamboo, lighted up her beautiful golden hair. This act shall be in force from its passage.

Time will not admit of further details kindred to this narrative. The life, struggles, and success of Peter and his family were ably brought before the public in the "Kidnapped and the Ransomed," being the personal recollections of a cloud obscuring the sun.

“Do I want to disappear for good?”

Night closed in, and it began to rain. We were about to return homewards, when a voice, a human voice, strange now to hear, attracted our attention. It was a child singing a merry, lightsome air; there was no other sound.

"I will save you," he replied, "of what are you afraid? you need not fear my friend, he will do you no harm. Are you alone?"

A slave man or woman, running for life, he with a bundle on his back or she with a babe in her arms, was always a very interesting sight, and should always be held in remembrance. I hope you are not moneyless, as I am. In attending to the wants of numerous strangers, I am much of the time perplexed from lack of means; but send on as many as you can and I will divide with them to the last crumb, you’ll want to move around more discreetly, and never through other transactions to avoid leaving paper trails.

Whether this was kidnapping or not is for the reader to decide for himself. When once the spirit of dissension had arisen, the most frivolous causes gave it activity. For one who had to steal the art of reading and writing, her letter bears studying.

Better to keep them in the dark.

While none in this catalogue belonged to the class whose daring adventures rendered their narratives marvellous, nevertheless they represented a very large number of those who were continually on the alert to get rid of their captivity. Now, when this end was accomplished, with an earnest purpose he took his carpet-bag in his hand, and his heart throbbing for his old home and people, he turned his mind very privately towards survival. Criminal gangs have a reputation of hurting family members as a form of revenge.

His brother died in debt, and his little property was seized immediately by his creditors. His approach home could only be made stealthily, not daring to breathe to a living soul, lest you reveal your plans unintentionally.

Although she had no horrible tales of suffering to relate, the Committee regarded her as well worthy of aid. There is a painful confusion in my brain, which refuses to delineate distinctly succeeding events. I have heard that the sight of the dead has confirmed materialists in their belief. I ever felt otherwise. Was that my child—that moveless decaying inanimation?

If driven by stress of weather to seek a harbor, and she has no intercourse with the shore, then, and in that case, no second fee shall be paid by said vessel. It was seldom indeed that we escaped, to use an old-fashioned phrase, scot free. 

On the night she started she went to the bed where they were sleeping, kissed them, and, consigning them into the hands of God, you’ll need food, shelter, and clothes. She was a hero in a life-time fight, an upright, honest woman in her dealings with women and men, with a tender husband, a loving father, and above all, a woman who loved this neighbor as herself, and righteousness and truth better than ease, safety, or worldly goods, and who never let any fear of harm to person or property sway her from doing this whole duty to the uttermost.

This is a heavy thought to unfold. This is nothing new, and you must know that it is okay. I panted for enterprises beyond my childish exploits, and formed distempered dreams of future action. I avoided my ancient comrades, and I soon lost them. They arrived at the age when they were sent to fulfil their destined situations in life; while I, an outcast, with none to lead or drive me forward, paused. Planning on disappearing completely can take a huge toll on your mental health.

"And this pleases you?" I observed, moodily.

Having waited in vain for his free papers for four years, he suspected that he was to be dealt with in a manner similar to many others, who had been willed free or who had bought their time, and had been shamefully cheated out of their freedom.

“You wouldn't kill this man?”

“The less you know, Friend, the easier your conscience will be, and the better you will sleep. Ask no questions, and let these things settle themselves. I have a hold of it now.”

The world has a lot to offer, so take advantage of any opportunities to give yourself a fresh start. Take some time every day to address these issues. Every inhabitant of the most miserable cottage, went to swell the stream of population that poured forth to meet him.

“Well, what have you to say?”

I beg those who would know the particulars of our journey, to peruse these pages.

"Come with me," he said, "I have much to say to you; come home with me—you know who I am?"

"Yes," I exclaimed, "I do believe that I now know you, and that you will pardon my mistakes—my crime."

“If you give me away, may a curse be on you!”

“Sure, I said I would not," thereby falsely implying what he does not know.

“You damned murderers!” he said. “We'll fix you yet!”

I lived far from the busy haunts of men, and the rumour of wars or political changes came worn to a mere sound, to our mountain abodes. No, no, I would not live among the wild scenes of nature, the enemy of all that lives. Evasion is described as a way to fulfill an obligation to tell the truth while keeping secrets from those not entitled to know the truth.

The late setting of the moon, and the extreme caution I was obliged to use in this my third expedition, consumed so much time, that something like a qualm of fear came over me when I perceived dark night yielding to twilight. I crept along by the fern, on my hands and knees, seeking the shadowy coverts of the underwood, while the birds awoke with unwelcome song above, and the fresh morning wind, playing among the boughs, made me suspect a footfall at each turn.

Hence, the author of "The Kidnapped and the Ransomed" was compelled to omit these dangerous facts, and had to confine herself strictly to the personal recollections of strangers and fellow travelers. It roused all my dormant recollections, my suspended sentiments of injury, and gave rise to the new one of revenge. I was presented, meantime, with one other occupation, the one best fitted to discipline my melancholy thoughts, which strayed backwards, over many a ruin, and through many a flowery glade, even to the mountain recess, from which in early youth I had first emerged. 

I believed, even in the darkest days of freedom in our land, in the ultimate extinction of Slavery, and at times, although advanced in years, thought I would live to witness that glorious consummation. I was beyond measure disturbed by this intelligence.

You can start with multinational companies that operate in your city. That they should know of our existence, and treat us, near at hand, with the same contumely which his father had practised in distance and absence, appeared to me the certain consequence of all that had gone before, animals can sense when their owners get stressed. There is scarcely one single interest, social, moral, religious, or physical, which is not in some way connected with this stupendous evil. 

On the side of the oppressor there is power, now as in the earlier days of the world. I find much comfort in the thought that I am but a passenger on board of this ship of life. I have not the management committed to me. I am to obey orders, and leave the rest to the great Captain whose wisdom is able to direct. But we will not further enlarge. Commending our cause to Him, who has promised never to forget the poor and needy, and that in His own good time He will arise for their deliverance and "break every yoke."

Suddenly I heard a splash in the sea.

Listening to a different song could help you psyche up a change in identity. Don’t mention towns or areas in your home state if you want to never be found again. 

I immediately gave the first signal, anxiously waiting thirty minutes for an opportunity to give the second and main signal, during which time I was very sociable. Nowadays, malicious people hack surveillance cameras with the intent of tracing your movements. Thus, while these opposing agencies were hotly contesting the rights of man. But the trouble cannot be escaped. It must come. But we can put it off. By annihilating free speech; by forbidding the utterance of a word in the pulpit and by the press, for the rights of man; by hurling back into the jaws of oppression, the fugitive gasping for his sacred liberty; by recognizing the right of one man to buy and sell other men; by spreading the blasting curse of despotism over the whole soil of the nation, you may allay the brutal frenzy of a handful of southern slave-masters.

A drone equipped with a camera can also help you.

I will be there in spirit, and bow my inmost soul before the All Loving One, his Father and ours, in humble thankfulness, that I ever knew him, and had the privilege of enjoying his friendship and witnessing his devotion, to the interest of every good cause of benevolence and Reform.

After these events, it was long before we were able to attain any degree of composure. A moral tempest had wrecked our richly freighted vessel, and we, remnants of the diminished crew, were aghast at the losses and changes which we had undergone. I could write to you many things of interest which I heard from him, and which I have noted in my memory and heart; but I cannot now. May they all be favored to get on safe.

“I see him everywhere, because he is everywhere.”

How unwise had the wanderers been, who had deserted its shelter, entangled themselves in the web of society, and entered on what men of the world call "life,"—that labyrinth of evil, that scheme of mutual torture. To live, according to this sense of the word, we must not only observe and learn, we must also feel; we must not be mere spectators of action, we must act. I write on a very unsteady boat.

False leads will buy you time. When a stalker creeps into your newfound home, you won’t have to declare this dissemblance in most places and they’re quite affordable to replace.

“What for?”

“To recover the black pearl.”

“Black pearl?”

“That you stole.”

“But I haven’t got it.”

“You have it.”

“If I had, then I would be the assassin.”

“You are the assassin.”

Our situation being dangerous, we decided that we should go somewhere that will allow us to lay low, well beyond where we live now. In this dreadful hour one sad duty still remained to be performed. We have yet to see what will be the end of this cruel conflict. Let us not desert our suffering friend and his noble-hearted family.

"Come hither, sweet one," said her father, "do you not know me?" she knew his voice, and cast herself in his arms with half bashful but uncontrollable emotion. It is a final option only to be considered when you’re sure you have no other choice. Always use cash. I shall continue to watch for the first opportunity of forwarding the above.

When he had landed a month ago, the noisy populace had been hushed by sorrow and fear; but this was a festival day to all, and from thence, by daylight, to within a short distance of this place.

Another way to make yourself appear more credible is maintaining a consistent new inspired look. They have just sent us their little book. A few doors from her lived an old friend of the same religious faith with herself, well known as a brave woman, and a friend of the slave, Mrs. Ash, the undertaker or shrouder, whom everybody knew among the colored people. A feeling of horror came over the aged woman, who had been thus suddenly entrusted with such responsibility.

She could not speak, but being assisted arose. She was straightway aided up stairs, not yet uttering a word. After a short while she said, "I feel so deadly weak." She was then asked if she would not have some water or nourishment, which she declined.

We are very sorry for thee to have to incur so much persecution. Thus, until the last fetter was broken, with singular persistence, zeal, faith and labor, she did what she could to aid the fugitive slave, without hope of reward in this world.

This is all that we can now say of the life of our revered and never-to-be-forgotten friend. Perhaps someone who knew her more intimately than we did, and who is better acquainted with the history of her life and labors, will furnish us with a more complete sketch. If so, we shall publish it with great satisfaction. You can cope through this uncomfortable situation by remembering your breath. Stay calm.

“Is that all the evidence you have?”

“Oh! no, not at all. I have plenty more."

The sound of firing, early on the following morning, informed us that advanced posts of the armies were engaged. Regiment after regiment advanced, their colors flying and bands playing. They planted the cannon on the tumuli, sole elevations in this level country, and formed themselves into column and hollow square; while the pioneers threw up small mounds for their protection.

The ground on which the battle was fought, was a level plain—so level, that from the tumuli you saw the waving line of mountains on the wide-stretched horizon; yet the intervening space was unvaried by the least irregularity, save such undulations as resembled the waves of the sea. Courage Joiner lit his lantern, and stepped into the passage.

“Look! All the mechanism is exposed here, like the works of a clock, and the reverse side of the letters can be reached. I worked the combination from this side—that is all.”

“What proof is there of that?”

One could not have thought of this when planning how to disappear completely. There are many good reasons to disappear, try to make a list of the few things you can’t live without. This might make you feel better without having to leave behind the rest of your life.

I could not suppress tears of deepest emotion. But now, in the midst of the dying and the dead, how could a thought of heaven or a sensation of tranquillity possess one of the murderers? During the busy day, my mind had yielded itself a willing slave to the state of things presented to it by its fellow-beings; historical association, hatred of the foe, and military enthusiasm had held dominion over me. Now, I looked at the evening star, as softly and calmly it hung pendulous in the orange hues of sunset. I turned to the corpse-strewn earth; and felt ashamed of my species. It was a dark time to them; and yet that was an event that was fraught with more joy to the world than any that has occurred or could occur. Let us stand at our post and wait for God's time. Let us have on the whole armor of God, and fight for the right, knowing, that though we may fall in battle, the victory will be ours, sooner or later.

Nothing is private, and you can’t log into any personal accounts without running the risk of being caught. A large withdrawal is suspicious. Be of good cheer, the right will eventually triumph, if not in this world, on that day, when all shall be eventually righted on our Lord's right hand. Oh, for ability in the meantime, to love Him, trust Him, confide in Him implicitly!

“I believe we hold him in the hollow of our hands,” he continued with an exulting smile upon his face. “If we act quickly and wisely, we can cut this thing short. If I have your confidence and your help, it is little that we have to fear.”

“What have we to fear, anyhow? What can he know of our affairs?”

If you have heard from any of the nine since their safe arrival, please let us know when you write. Keep in mind that you often can’t carry a lot when you’re disappearing, so limit your options accordingly.

I bore her from the near neighbourhood of the dead; wrapt in cloaks, I placed her beneath a tree. Once more I looked on her altered face; the last time I saw her she was eighteen; beautiful as poet's vision, splendid as a Sultana of the East—Twelve years had past; twelve years of change, sorrow and hardship; her brilliant complexion had become worn and dark, her limbs had lost the roundness of youth and womanhood; her eyes had sunk deep. My heart aches, my eyes fill with tears, I cannot write more. I cannot dwell longer on this painful subject now.

Come up with a cover story about where you’re going. In other words, the assailants positively commanded the fugitives to "show what right" they possessed, to be found in a condition apparently so unwarranted. Create false leads to keep others off your trail. It seems to me their being sent on could then be better arranged. This, however, is only a suggestion, to avoid being stuck in a situation worse than the one you left behind. Try something new to spice up your routine.

I was unavoidably prevented yesterday, from replying to yours on the 6th instant, and although I have made inquiries, I am unable today to answer your questions satisfactorily. 

“Did he know about the other entrance?”

“As well as I know it,” said Joiner. “Follow me.”

“Into that dark passage?”

“Are you afraid?”

“No, but are you sure you can find the way out?”

“With my eyes closed.”

"Not without you," I said. "You do not mean to separate again?"

Our journey was impeded by a thousand obstacles.

"Do not deceive yourself."

At first, they descended twelve steps, then twelve more, and, farther on, two other flights of twelve steps each. Then they walked through a long passageway, the brick walls of which showed the marks of successive restorations, and, in spots, were dripping with water. The earth, also, was very damp.

“We are passing under the pond.”

We have telegraphed to different points, to try to get some information concerning them, but failed. Hats, hoodies, and sunglasses are great tools for feeling anonymous in a crowd. Or perhaps you are preparing to do something so dastardly – so sinister – so illegal – you’re going to need to vanish from the face of this earth.

“What did you tell him, then?”

“Any stuff I could make up.”

“How do you know he wasn't a newspaper man?”

I have heard a picture described, wherein all the inhabitants of earth were drawn out in fear to stand the encounter of Death. The feeble and decrepit fled; the warriors retreated, though they threatened even in flight. Wolves and lions, and various monsters of the desert roared against him; while the grim Unreality hovered, shaking his spectral dart, a solitary but invincible assailant.

This process will require you to lie a lot, we must conclude that he is lost, and the report of his escape is all a hoax. Get used to it.

The fellow answered with a scowl; and then, perhaps fearful that his people should become auditors of the debate he expected to ensue, he commanded them to fall back, and advanced by himself. "What, I again ask," said I, "do you require of us?"

At this juncture, the fugitives verily believing that the time had arrived for the practical use of their pistols and dirks, pulled them out of their concealment. If you aren’t prepared for that, you’re not ready to disappear. Deleting these accounts won’t truly erase your information. Once again, do this SLOWLY, otherwise, people will take greater notice.

I fear that he has fallen a victim to their inhuman thirst for blood.

The principal circumstances that disturbed our tranquillity during this interval, originated in the vicinity of the impostor-prophet and his followers. I seriously doubt the rumor that he had made his escape. I fear that he was sacrificed. I will not, at this period of my story, record the artifices I used to penetrate the asylum of my own mind. Language would fail to express my feelings; the intense and deep anxiety I felt about them for weeks before I heard of their capture, the lesson was to give yourself more time to travel and escape before the search is on. You’ll also want a head start before anybody begins questioning your absence.

"How beyond the imagination of man," she exclaimed, "are the decrees of heaven, wondrous and inexplicable!"

"Pardon me," I said, "but even as you speak, I am gone."

"Nay, pardon me," she replied; "I have no right to command or reproach; but my life hangs on your departure and speedy return. Farewell!"

Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other text medium, a computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment. His voice had recovered its bland tone, but a dark cloud still hung on his features. The young men, one cold night, when they were compelled to take rest in the woods and snow, in vain strove to keep the feet of their female companions from freezing by lying on them; but the frost was merciless and bit them severely, as their feet very plainly showed.

Evening closed in quickly, far more quickly than I was prepared to expect. At the going down of the sun it began to snow heavily. I attempted in vain to defend my beloved companion from the storm; the wind drove the snow in our faces; and it lay so high on the ground, that we made but small way; while the night was so dark, that but for the white covering on the ground we should not have been able to see a yard before us.

Her first emotion was deadly fear, cold dew stood on her brow; my eyes half opened; and, re-assured, she would have exclaimed, "He lives!" but the words were choked by a spasm, and she fell with a groan on the floor. Some sources say you should keep them. Some say you should get rid of them. My antagonist did not deign to reply, even by a look;—"You know your duty," he said to his comrades,—"obey."

In a moment I was thrown on the earth, bound, blindfolded, and hurried away. I had revolved the design of quietly laying me down to die; now I shuddered at the approach of fate. Stunning and discouraging as this horrible ending was to all concerned, and serious as the matter looked in the eyes of our numbers. The two men came safely yesterday, but by degrees the sun, which with slant beams had before yielded the more extended reign to night, lengthened his diurnal journey, and mounted his highest throne, at once the fosterer of earth's new beauty, and her lover. We who, like flies that congregate upon a dry rock at the ebbing of the tide, had played wantonly with time, allowing our passions, our hopes, and our mad desires to rule us, now heard the approaching roar of the ocean of destruction, and would have fled to some sheltered crevice, before the first wave broke over us.

If they get the sense that you left on purpose and went to great lengths to plan it they won’t search as hard.

"Not a word," she replied, "follow me!"

I obeyed instantly. We threaded with light steps many corridors, ascended several flights of stairs, and passed through long galleries; at the end of one she unlocked a low portal; a rush of wind extinguished our lamp. It is something that man cannot bury, cannot completely suppress.

Until this moment my soul had been in my eyes only. I had gazed with wonder, mixed with fear and enthusiasm. The latter feeling now predominated. I forgot the distance between us. I remember the lesson. Cancel your mobile phone plan. Search for babies who died the day you were born and contact the government requesting their birth certificate. He emphasizes that this is normal because people lose birth certificates all the time. It was at a time of uncommon vigilance here, and to me it was a matter of extreme wonder, how and through whom, such a work was accomplished. Can you tell me? It is needful that I should know! Not for curiosity merely, but for the good of others. That’s called disappearing on their terms.

Insurmountable heaps sometimes opposed themselves; the still burning fires scorched me. The sun set; the atmosphere grew dim—and the evening star no longer shone companionless. The glare of flames attested the progress of destruction, while, during mingled light and obscurity, the piles around me took gigantic proportions and weird shapes. It was on account of this "domineering spirit," that Mary was induced to escape.

But death does not come at the bidding of the miserable. I had lately recovered from mortal illness, and my blood had never flowed with such an even current, nor had my limbs ever been so instinctively with quick life, as now. I felt that my death must be voluntary. None but a father's heart can fathom the anguish and sorrows felt by one man alone now. There is a magic power in resemblance. When one we love dies, we hope to see them in another state, and half expect that the agency of mind will inform its new garb in imitation of its decayed earthly vesture. But these are ideas of the mind only.

It being customary for a stranger not to leave the house early in the morning where he has lodged, I was under the necessity of staying out all night Saturday. Also, practice using new mannerisms and try to mask your old mannerisms as best as possible. For a moment I could yield to the creative power of the imagination, and for a moment was soothed by the sublime fictions it presented to me. The beatings of my human heart drew me back to blank reality. 

Travel on your own terms; don’t ever let someone else manage your great vanishing act. Indeed, who could close his eyes and ears to the plaintive cries of such a mother? Who could refrain from aiding on to freedom of children honored in such a heroic parent?

Head for the border or get way out of town. The position of the stars was my only guide. I turned from the awful ruin of the Golden City, and, after great exertion, succeeded in extricating myself from its enclosure. I met a company of soldiers outside the walls; I borrowed a horse from one of them, and hastened to my sister.

I consider most of the trouble over, I think, however, she or others, might be tempted to travel. This is a good point to lay some false leads. When you leave home, place clues like road atlas maps or do extensive internet research that leads investigators in the completely wrong direction. Meanwhile the sun, disencumbered from his strange satellites, paced with its accustomed majesty towards its western home. The easiest place to disappear is either in the midst of a throng, or the emptiness of the natural world.

The shadows of things assumed strange and ghastly shapes. The wild animals in the woods took fright at the unknown shapes figured on the ground. They fled they knew not whither; and the citizens were filled with greater dread, at the convulsion which "shook lions into civil streets;"—birds, strong-winged eagles, suddenly blinded, fell in the market-places, while owls and bats shewed themselves welcoming the early night. 

Choose a hat that you’d never be caught wearing in your old life, maybe for you that’s a Fedora. His memory will ever be among the sacredly cherished with me. He certainly displayed more real disinterestedness, more earnest, unassuming devotedness, than those who claim to be the sincerest friends

The wind, prince of air, raged through his kingdom, lashing the sea into fury, and subduing the rebel earth into some sort of obedience. Stay on your guard at all times – paranoia can be both a curse and an invaluable tool.

Tears streamed from his eyes. "Again and again," he continued, "will the tragedy be acted upon; again I must hear the groans of the dying, the wailing of the survivors; again witness the pangs, which, consummating all, envelop an eternity in their evanescent existence. Why am I reserved for this? Why the tainted whether of the flock, am I not struck to earth among the first? It is hard, very hard, for one of woman born to endure all that I endure!"

Watch yourself, and do everything you can to avoid old habits.

Pale as marble, clear and beaming as that, she heard my tale, and enquired concerning the spot where he had been deposited. Her features had lost the distortion of grief; her eyes were brightened, her very person seemed dilated; while the excessive whiteness and even transparency of her skin, and something hollow in her voice, bore witness that not tranquillity, but excess of excitement, occasioned the treacherous calm that settled on her countenance. I asked her where he should be buried.

I am evidently watched; everybody knows me to be a quiet thinker. Death is the worst that can befall us, if so be that we are faithful to the righteous. It is a solemn and a fearful thing to die, and mortality shrinks from facing that last great mystery. But we must all die, my friends, and the dying hour is not far distant from the youngest of us.

He received them with the interest and wonder so strange a visitation created. In the confusion occasioned by their angry demands for precedence, it was long before we could discover the secret meaning of this strange scene. The coffin was laid in the open space in front of the gallery of ministers and elders, and the lid removed from it, after which there was a period of silence.

Suddenly an internal voice, articulate and clear, seemed to say:—Thus from eternity, it was decreed: the steeds that bear Time onwards had this hour and this fulfilment enchained to them, since the void brought forth its burthen. Would you read backwards the unchangeable laws of Necessity?

Mother of the world! Servant of the Omnipotent! Draw attention to the front while the work takes place behind. You need to think of ways to attract attention absolutely. These are death by drowning, as in the water escapes Courage Joiner pioneered; death by suffocation, as in escapes from airtight enclosures containing no water, such as coffins; and death by falling, as also originated by Joiner, in a straitjacket escape hanging high above the earth as when Joiner hung from cranes and buildings upside down in a strait jacket where falling would mean certain death.

Find new hobbies, new interests, new skills you never knew you had, and exploit those. Stay under the radar but don’t be confined by your exile. I was thrown into a most painful state of uncertainty by these communications. Make following your trail as confusing as possible: are we looking for Juan? Or Ion? Or Pjon?

I was glad to escape from my rebellious troop, and to lose sight for a time, of the strife of evil with good, where the former forever remained triumphant. I was stung almost to madness by my uncertainty concerning progress in this pursuit. The more you move the harder it will be to find you. It is strange, after an interval of time, to look back on a period, which, though short in itself, appeared, when in actual progress, to be drawn out interminably. Through these homely features, and humble garb, the intrepidity of soul came out in all its lustre! Heroism, in its native majesty, commanded one's admiration and love.

Most truly can I enter into your sorrows, and painfully appreciate the pang of disappointment which must have followed this sad intelligence. It was not understood that I would have to be at any expense seeking aid. Above all – stay safe, stay alert, and stay disappeared.

Nights passed, during whose fatal darkness the sun grew old before it rose; and burning days, to cool whose baleful heat the balmy eve, lingering far in eastern climes, came lagging and ineffectual; days, in which the dial, radiant in its noon-day station, moved not its shadow the space of a little hour, until a whole life of sorrow had brought the sufferer to an untimely grave. Do you know where the closest nuclear bunker is from your present home?

The mounting flames had curled round the building, as it fell, and was destroyed. The nervous terrors and fearful visions which had scared us during the spring, continued to visit our coward troop during this sad journey. I remember, after having witnessed the destructive effects of a fire, I could not even behold a small one in a stove, without a sensation of fear. Every evening brought its fresh creation of spectres; a ghost was depicted by every blighted tree; and appalling shapes were manufactured from each shaggy bush. By degrees these common marvels palled on us, and then other wonders were called into being. The art of escaping from restraints and confined spaces has been a skill employed by performers for a very long time, this technique was old, a form of distraction, highlighted death by electrocution with his "Electrified Mummy Lid Torture Board." 

Although a young man only twenty-three years of age, and quite stout, his fair complexion was decidedly against him. Courage Joiner made no secret of the fact that he was an expert on restraints and the skills needed to overcome them but he often concealed the exact details of his escapes to maintain an air of mystery and suspense. Question dodging is a rhetorical technique involving the intentional avoidance of answering a question. He is a remarkably intelligent man, and can turn his hand to anything.

"I can't speak for someone else."

For safety he endeavored to hide his freight by having them all lie flat down on the bottom of the skiff; covered them with blankets, concealing them from the effulgent beams of the early morning sun, or rather from the "Christian Wolves" who might perchance espy him from the shore in passing the town. We had entered the Castle. The wolves have never suspected. Freedom was gained, although not without the sad loss of her two older children, whom she had to leave behind.

But alas, before the few days had expired the subjoined brief paragraph of news was discovered in the morning Ledger. Did there ever live one who had less of that "fear of man which bringeth a snare," than himself? Or who combined more moral courage with exceeding tenderness of spirit? Or who adhered more heroically to his convictions of duty in the face of deadly peril and certain suffering? Or who gave himself more unreservedly, or with greater disinterestedness, to the service of bleeding humanity? Or who took more joyfully the spoiling of his goods as the penalty of his sympathy for the hunted fugitive?

In some unaccountable manner this the last letter Courage Joiner ever penned, perhaps, has been unfortunately lost. But Providence interposes to prevent the permanent triumph of evil. It interposes, not visibly or by the thunderbolt, but by inspiring and sustaining high moral effort and heroic lives. In this particular showing a most utter disregard of the interest of their "kind-hearted and indulgent owners."

After the family had somewhat recovered from the fatigue and travel-worn condition in which they arrived, and were prepared to resume their journey, the Committee gave them the strictest caution with regard to avoiding slave-hunters, and also in reference to such points on the road where they would be most in danger of going astray from a lack of knowledge of the way. Then, with indescribable feelings of sympathy, free tickets were tendered them, and they, having been conducted to the depot, were sent on their way rejoicing.

The old master, however, becoming tired of country life, had also moved to Baltimore. How, they knew not, but he had heard of the existence of this boy. That he might satisfy himself on this point, he one day very slyly approached the house with caution. I felt that I knew what ought to be done, and as my presence is necessary for the accomplishment of my plans, I will take special care to preserve my life. They were all young and hopeful, and belonged to the more intelligent and promising of their race. She wore it during the day, and, at night, concealed it in a place known to her alone. But we are awake now.

All these facts, being republished in the columns of the public press, served to stimulate curiosity; and, strange to say, but quite obvious to those who have the key to the mystery, the arrest of the presumed assassin only complicated the question and prolonged the excitement.

Once, at the dusk of the evening, we saw a figure all in white, apparently of more than human stature, flourishing about the road, now throwing up its arms, now leaping to an astonishing height in the air, then turning round several times successively, then raising itself to its full height and gesticulating violently.

They were capable of giving the best of reasons for the endeavors they were making to escape to a free country. It had been well, if such vain terrors could have distracted our thoughts from more tangible evils. But these were too dreadful and too many not to force themselves into every thought, every moment, of our lives. This was all over, now that the ocean of death had sucked in the slackening tide, and its source was dried up. Many and interesting stories are told of the men and women we helped away, some of them full of pathos, and some decidedly amusing.

At another time we were haunted for several days by another apparition, to which our people gave the appellation of the Black Spectre. We never saw it except at evening, when his coal black steed, his mourning dress, and plume of black feathers, had a majestic and awe-striking appearance; his face, one said, who had seen it for a moment, was ashy pale; he had lingered far behind the rest of his troop, and suddenly at a turn in the road, saw the Black Spectre coming towards him; he hid himself in fear, and the horse and his rider slowly past, while the moonbeams fell on the face of the latter, displaying its unearthly hue, but he wished it understood that they recognized this "voice within" as leading and guiding all men, and they probably meant by it much the same as those differing from them meant by the Third person in their Trinity. He did not wish, even in appearance, to claim a belief in this voice for his own sect alone. It was a system of which it may be truly said, that it was twice cursed. It cursed him who served, and it cursed him that owned the slave.

"Once more we welcome you to a country in which you will find many sincere admirers and warm friends."

"As to the likelihood of escaping," said I, "ten years hence the cold stars may shine on the graves of all of us; but as to my peculiar liability to infection, I could easily prove, both logically and physically, that in the midst of contagion I have a better chance of life than you."

The frightful aggravations which followed the coming of this torrent have waked the deepest sympathies of this nation and of the world, and the history is demanded in permanent form, for those of the present day, and for the generation to come.

I felt as the sailor, who from the topmast first discovered the shore of America; and like him I hastened to tell my companions of my discoveries in unknown regions. But I was unable to excite in any breast the same craving appetite for knowledge that existed in mine. Even Joiner was unable to understand me. I had lived in what is generally called the world of reality, and it was awakening to a new country to find that there was a deeper meaning in all I saw, besides that which my eyes conveyed to me.

"How were you treated by your master and mistress?" 

"They treated me very well." 

"How then," said I, "could you put yourself in the care of that sailor, who was a stranger to you, and leave your parents?" I shall never forget her heart-felt reply: 

"He told me I should be free."

Alas! why must I record the hapless delusion of this matchless specimen of humanity? What is there in our nature that is forever urging us on towards pain and misery? We are not formed for enjoyment; and, however we may be attuned to the reception of pleasurable emotion, disappointment is the never-failing pilot of our life's bark, and ruthlessly carries us on to the shoals.

He was, during childhood, remarkably fond of reading, and was distinguished among his friends and associates for uncommon perseverance in accomplishing anything he undertook, a trait which peculiarly marked him through life; his disposition is said to have been unusually amiable and docile, so as to endear him very strongly to his relatives and friends.

We are told by the wisest philosophers of the dangers of the world, the deceits of men, and the treason of our own hearts: but not the less fearlessly does each put off his frail bark from the port, spread the sail, and strain his oar, to attain the multitudinous streams of the sea of life. How few in youth's prime, moor their vessels on the "golden sands," and collect the painted shells that strew them. But all at close of day, with riven planks and rent canvas make for shore, and are either wrecked ere they reach it, or find some wave-beaten haven, some desart strand, whereon to cast themselves and die unmourned.

Molly described her master as an indulgent one when sober, but when he was on a "spree" he seemed to take great delight in tormenting her. He would have her beaten unmercifully without cause, and then have her stripes washed in salt water, then he would have her dragged through the horse pond until she was nearly dead. This last operation seemed to afford him much pleasure. When he became sober he would express regret at having treated her so cruelly. I frequently saw this master of Molly's, and was always treated respectfully by him. He would have his "sprees" after Molly left him.

“But I have heard it said that every thief leaves some clue behind him.”

“That may be generally true,” I replied, “but here is one exception."

Thus terminated this interesting case, which for several months agitated the public mind. The people gathered around; anxious inquiries were made as to the person who had the audacity to question the right of this quiet, peaceable man to do with his slave as he pleased. Great scorn was expressed for the busy Abolitionists. Much sympathy given to the abused slave owner. His reckless courage and comprehensive genius brought him into notice. He became the darling hero of this rising people.

As the sufferer's wound, in natural course, became offensive, the care of it could not but have been disagreeable as well as toilsome; and the feeble health of one of the sisters at that time must have made heavier the burden to be borne. They proceeded on their voyage and landed at their place of destination.

After an absence of two years I landed on its shores, not daring to make any inquiries, fearful of every remark. This burst of passionate feeling over, with calmed thoughts we sat together, talking of the past and present. I alluded to the coldness of her letters; but the few minutes we had spent together sufficiently explained the origin of this. New feelings had arisen within her, which she was unable to express in writing to one whom she had only known in childhood; but we saw each other again, and our intimacy was renewed as if nothing had intervened to check it.

The want of space forbids more than a brief reference to her early life. After all, whether they encourage or discourage me, I belong to this race, and when it is down I belong to a down race; when it is up I belong to a risen race.

My heart, the field of combat, was wounded by the iron heel of the one, watered by the gushing tears of the other. Day, hateful to me, dawned; I retreated to my lodgings—I threw myself on a couch—I slept—was it sleep?—for thought was still alive—love and despair struggled still, and I writhed with unendurable pain.

I awoke half stupefied; I felt a heavy oppression on me, but knew not wherefore; I entered, as it were, the council-chamber of my brain, and questioned the various ministers of thought therein assembled; too soon I remembered all; too soon my limbs quivered beneath the tormenting power; soon, too soon, I knew myself to be a slave!

“And if no one assists me, I will unmask the scoundrel myself,”

As I listened to her, there swept over me, in a chill wave of horror, the realization that hope may have failed twice.

“He may have escaped.”

“No one ever escaped.”

“But, he—-”

“He, no more than any other.”

“Yet—-”

“Well, if he escapes, so much the better. I will catch him again. Meanwhile, you go home and sleep soundly. That will do for the present. You frighten the fish.”

“Poor devil—”

“Where are the bodies?”

“Poor devil, do you say?

I made a diligent search for it, but without success. You must remember that this tower is surrounded by water and connected with the castle only by a bridge; consequently, the passage must be underneath the old moat.

“Listen.... footsteps....I hear someone....”

He looked at her with astonishment. She seemed to be overwhelmed by the thought of approaching peril.

“I don’t hear anything,” he said.

“But you must go—you must escape!”

“Why should I go?”

“Because—you must. Oh! do not remain here another minute. Go!”

She ran, quickly, to the door leading to the gallery and listened. No, there was no one there. Perhaps the noise was outside. She waited a moment, then returned reassured.

“There are some men whom their friends will never again see alive.”

“Well, now, how many did you shoot?” was the next question.

In such meetings as we have here in the national capital and other like gatherings that are taking place in all the cities of this land, we have the only rays of hope and light in the general gloom. When such a calamitous visitation falls upon any section of our country we can do no more than to put about the dark picture the golden border of love and charity.

He spoke with a broken voice, then bowed his head, and, hiding his face in his hands, wept. I was still smarting from my own disappointment; yet this scene oppressed me even to terror, nor could I interrupt his access to passion. It subsided at length; and, throwing himself on the couch, he remained silent and motionless, except that his changeful features shewed a strong internal conflict.

A disaster unparalleled of its kind in the history of our nation has overtaken the inhabitants.

I entered one of the palaces, and opened the door of a magnificent saloon. I started—I looked again with renewed wonder. What wild-looking, unkempt, half-naked savage was that before me? The surprise was momentary.

The criminal, alone in his cell, was touched with the same sympathy and desire to help fellow-men in sore distress as the good people who have been filling relief depots with supplies and coffers with money. Each as he read the story of the flood would knock on his wicket and tell the keeper he wanted to give some of his money.

The lesson taught by the awful scenes should not go unheeded.

I went to rest. At past midnight I was awakened by a violent knocking. It was now deep winter; it had snowed, and was still snowing; the wind whistled in the leafless trees, despoiling them of the white flakes as they fell; its drear moaning, and the continued knocking, mingled wildly with my dreams— at length I was wide awake; hastily dressing myself, I hurried to discover the cause of this disturbance, and to open my door to the unexpected visitor. Pale as the snow that showered about her, with clasped hands, the lady stood before me. "Save me!" she exclaimed, and would have sunk to the ground had I not supported her.

They have quit the aimless wandering about amid the ruins, that marked them for a crushed and despairing people.

“When I turned my back,” she said, “I couldn’t look any longer.”

Tears ran down her face as she said this. The messenger coming up just then said:—

“Your wife has been found. They got her down at Nineveh. Her brother has gone to fetch her up.”

When the sun had sunk towards the precipitate west, and the evening shadows grew long, we prepared to ascend the mountain. At dawn of Thursday the stillness of the night, which had been punctured frequently by the pistol and musket shots of vigilant guards scaring off possible marauders, was permanently fractured by the arousing of gangs of laborers who had slept about wherever they could find a soft spot in the ruins, as well as in tents set up in the centre of where the town used to be.

We no longer started at these occurrences, nor at worse exhibition of change—when the palace had become a mere tomb, pregnant with fetid stench, strewn with the dead; and we could perceive how pestilence and fear had played strange antics, chasing the luxurious dame to the dank fields and bare cottage; gathering, among carpets of Indian woof, and beds of silk, the rough peasant, or the deformed half-human shape of the wretched beggar.

The waters played some queer freaks. A number of mirrors taken out of the ruins with the frames smashed and with the glass parts entirely uninjured have been a matter for constant comment on the part of those who have inspected the ruins and worked in them. Martial law could be imposed to-day with very little inconvenience to anyone. The guard about the town is very well kept, and the loafers, bummers, and thieves are being pretty well cleared out.

The news dealing business is not the only one of which something like that is true.

No words can tell the horrors of the scenes we witnessed.

“I can’t take you,” was the reply; “this boat only holds one.”

“I know it only holds one, but it will hold two this time,”

“I am inclined to think—” said I.

“I should do so,” Courage Joiner remarked impatiently.

He was too much absorbed with his own thoughts to give any immediate answer to my remonstrance. He leaned upon his hand, with his untasted breakfast before him, and he stared at the slip of paper which he had just drawn from its envelope. Then he took the envelope itself, held it up to the light, and very carefully studied both the exterior and the flap.

“But no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”

“Kill him!” cried a dozen fierce voices.

The horrible screams of the dead manager's wife pursued them as they hurried to the town. Courage Joiner was absorbed and silent; and he showed no sympathy for the weakening of his companion.

“Sure, it is like a war,” he repeated. “What is it but a war between us and them, and we hit back where we best can.”

The story was told and retold amid cries of delight and shouts of laughter. He had screamed for mercy. The screams were repeated for the amusement of the lodge.

“Let's hear again how he squealed,” they cried.

It was the height of the reign of terror. Cries of horror filled the place—every one endeavoured to effect his escape—in a few minutes the market place was cleared—the corpse lay on the ground; and the maniac, subdued and exhausted, sat beside it, leaning his gaunt cheek upon his thin hand. Soon some people, deputed by the magistrates, came to remove the body.

“We must kill him.”

“Ah, it's the first thought that came to you! So it will be up at the lodge. Didn't I say to you that it would end in murder?”

“Sure, what is murder? Isn't it common enough in these parts?”

“It is, indeed; but it's not for me to point out the man that is to be murdered. I'd never rest easy again. And yet it's our own necks that may be at stake. In God's name what shall I do?” He rocked to and fro in his agony of indecision.

“That will do,” said I, with an oath.

“Ay,” said Baldwin, catching his meaning. “If he is strapped to that, we will have the truth out of him.”

“We'll have the truth out of him, never fear,” said I. He had nerves of steel, this man; for though the whole weight of the affair was on him his manner was as cool and unconcerned as ever. The others marked it and applauded.

The details contained in the foregoing pages, apparently trivial, yet each slightest one weighing like lead in the depressed scale of human afflictions; this tedious dwelling on the sorrows of others, while my own were only in apprehension; this slowly laying bare of my soul's wounds: this journal of death; this long drawn and tortuous path, leading to the ocean of countless tears, awakens me again to keen grief.

They all sat like wax figures, some with their glasses arrested halfway to their lips. Three loud knocks had sounded at the door.

Death, cruel and relentless, had entered these beloved walls.

There was many a crime that I could not stop; but if you look back and think how often your man came home on the other road, or was down in town when you went for him, or stayed indoors when you thought he would come out, "You'll see my work.”

“You blasted traitor!” hissed Dick Kimble through his closed teeth.

“I've had bad news—terrible news, Mr. Joiner,” said he.

“I feared as much,” said Joiner.

“You have not had a cable, have you?”

“I have had a note from someone who has.”

“You mean that you think there was no accident?”

“None in the world.”

“He was murdered?”

“Surely!”

“So I think also. These infernal Scowrers, this cursed vindictive nest of criminals—”

Sights of woe now became familiar to me, and were I to tell all of anguish and pain that I witnessed, of the despairing moans of age, and the more terrible smiles of infancy in the bosom of horror, my reader, his limbs quivering and his hair on end, would wonder how I did not, seized with sudden frenzy, dash myself from some precipice, and so close my eyes forever on the sad end of the world.

We visited the so-called Elysian Fields and Avernus: and wandered through various ruined temples, baths, and classic spots; at length we entered the gloomy cavern of the Cumaean Sibyl. Our Lazzeroni bore flaring torches, which shone red, and almost dusky, in the murky subterranean passages, whose darkness thirstily surrounding them, seemed eager to imbibe more and more of the element of light.

The passage, which at first scarcely admitted us, quickly grew narrower and lower; we were almost bent double; yet still we persisted in making our way through it. At length we entered a wider space, and the low roof heightened; but, as we congratulated ourselves on this change, our torch was extinguished by a current of air, and we were left in utter darkness.

I returned to my family estate in the autumn of the year 2092. My heart had long been with them; and I felt sick with the hope and delight of seeing them again. The district which contained them appeared the abode of every kindly spirit. During this disastrous journey we lost all those, not of our own family, to whom we had particularly attached ourselves among the survivors.

She lay down among the tall corn, and fell asleep. Deep in midnight, she was awakened by a rustling near her; she would have started up, but her stiff joints refused to obey her will. A low moan close to her ear followed, and the rustling increased; she heard a smothered voice breathe out, "Water, Water!" several times; and then again a sigh heaved from the heart of the sufferer. The old woman shuddered, she contrived at length to sit upright; but her teeth chattered, and her knees knocked together—close, very close, lay a half-naked figure, just discernible in the gloom, and the cry for water and the stifled moan were again uttered.

The emigrants embarked by hundreds, and unfurling their sails with rude hands, made strange havoc of buoy and cordage. Those who modestly betook themselves to the smaller craft, for the most part achieved their watery journey in safety. Some, in the true spirit of reckless enterprise, went on board a ship of an hundred and twenty guns; the vast hull drifted with the tide out of the bay, and after many hours its crew of landsmen contrived to spread a great part of her enormous canvass—the wind took it, and while a thousand mistakes of the helmsman made her present her head now to one point, and now to another, the vast fields of canvass that formed her sails flapped with a sound like that of a huge cataract; or such as a sea-like forest may give forth when buffeted by an equinoctial north-wind. The port-holes were open, and with every sea, which as she lurched, washed her decks, they received whole tons of water.

I exclaimed, "I have now found out the secret!"

"What secret?"

In answer to this question, I described our gloomy winter-life, our sordid cares, our menial labors. Do you not behold the clouds open, and destruction lurid and dire pour down on the blasted earth? See you not the thunderbolt fall, and are deafened by the shout of heaven that follows its descent? Feel you not the earthquake and open with agonizing groans, while the air is pregnant with shrieks and wailings,— all announcing the last days of man?

In the autumn of this year 2096, the spirit of emigration crept in among the few survivors, who, congregating from various parts of  vagabond pursuit of dreadful safety.

Yet let us go! England is in her shroud,—we may not enchain ourselves to a corpse. Let us go—the world is our country now, and we will choose for our residence its most fertile spot. Shall we, in these desart halls, under this wintry sky, sit with closed eyes and folded hands, expecting death? Let us rather go out to meet it gallantly: or perhaps—for all this pendulous orb, this fair gem in the sky's diadem, is not surely plague-stricken—perhaps, in some secluded nook, amidst eternal spring, and waving trees, and purling streams, we may find Life. The children were easily distracted, and again returned to their prospect of future amusement. 

I was labouring under the force of a spell, which permitted me to behold all sights of earth, except its human inhabitants; they were pursuing their ordinary labors. Every house had its inmate; but I could not perceive them. If I could have deluded myself into a belief of this kind, I should have been far more satisfied. But my brain, tenacious of its reason, refused to lend itself to such imaginations—and though I endeavoured to play the antic to myself, I knew that I, the offspring of man, during long years one among many—now remained the sole survivor of my species.

Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers. They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with your copy of this text, even if you got it for free from someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how you can distribute copies of this text if you want to.

But the game is up! We must all die; nor leave survivor nor heir to the wide inheritance of earth. We must all die! The species of man must perish; his frame of exquisite workmanship; the wondrous mechanism of his senses; the noble proportion of his godlike limbs; his mind, the throned king of these; must perish. Will the earth still keep her place among the planets; will she still journey with unmarked regularity round the sun; will the seasons change, the trees adorn themselves with leaves, and flowers shed their fragrance, in solitude?

I must now return to our history. My old master had the reputation of being a very humane and Christian man, but he thought nothing of selling my poor old father, and dear aged mother, at separate times, to different persons, to be dragged off never to behold each other again, till summoned to appear before the great tribunal of heaven. I must leave them in the hands of an all-wise and just God, who will, in his own good time, and in his own way, avenge the wrongs of his oppressed people.

My old master also sold a dear brother and a sister, in the same manner as he did my father and mother. The reason he assigned for disposing of my parents, as well as of several other aged slaves, was, that "they were getting old, and would soon become valueless in the market, and therefore he intended to sell off all the old stock, and buy in a young lot."

I then turned to the auctioneer, fell upon my knees, and humbly prayed to him to let me just step down and bid my last sister farewell. But, instead of granting me this request, he grasped me by the neck, and in a commanding tone of voice, and with a violent oath, exclaimed, "Get up! You can do the wench no good; therefore there is no use in your seeing her."

On arriving at Savannah, the hunters found that the fugitives had sold the horses and trap, and embarked as free white persons, for New York. Slaver's disappointment and rascality so preyed upon his base mind, that he, like Judas, went and hanged himself.

On rising, I saw the cart in which she sat moving slowly off; and, as she clasped her hands with a grasp that indicated despair, and looked pitifully round towards me, I also saw the large silent tears trickling down her cheeks.

But, alas! she was gone; she had passed on to the realm of spirit life.

We thought of plan after plan, but they all seemed crowded with insurmountable difficulties. We knew it was unlawful for any public conveyance to take us as passengers, without our master's consent. We were also perfectly aware of the startling fact, that had we left without this consent the professional slave-hunters would have soon had their ferocious bloodhounds baying on our track, and in a short time we should have been dragged back to slavery, not to fill the more favorable situations which we had just left, but to be separated for life, and put to the very meanest and most laborious drudgery; or else have been tortured to death as examples, in order to strike terror into the hearts of others, and thereby prevent them from even attempting to escape from their cruel taskmasters.

We then opened the door, and stepped as softly out as "moonlight upon the water." I locked the door with my own key, which I now have before me, and tiptoed across the yard into the street. I say tiptoed, because we were like persons near a tottering avalanche, afraid to move, or even breathe freely, for fear the sleeping tyrants should be aroused, and come down upon us with double vengeance, for daring to attempt to escape in the manner which we contemplated.


Submitted: July 12, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Robin James. All rights reserved.

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