|“I laid dah under de shavin’s all day. I ’uz hungry, but I warn’t afeard; bekase I knowed ole missus en de widder wuz goin’ to start to de camp-meet’n’ right arter breakfas’ en be gone all day, en dey knows I goes off wid de cattle ’bout daylight, so dey wouldn’ ’spec to see me roun’ de place, en so dey wouldn’ miss me tell arter dark in de evenin’. De yuther servants wouldn’ miss me, kase dey’d shin out en take holiday soon as de ole folks ’uz out’n de way.||
“I lay under the wood shavings all day. I was hungry, but I wasn’t afraid.
I knew the old missus and the widow were heading to a |
evangelical Christian revival meetingcamp meeting right after breakfast and would be gone all day. They know that I take the cattle out at around sunrise, so they wouldn’t expect to see me around. They wouldn’t miss me until nightfall. The other servants wouldn’t miss me because they take the day off whenever the widow and missus leave.
|“Well, when it come dark I tuck out up de river road, en went ’bout two mile er more to whah dey warn’t no houses. I’d made up my mine ’bout what I’s agwyne to do. You see, ef I kep’ on tryin’ to git away afoot, de dogs ’ud track me; ef I stole a skift to cross over, dey’d miss dat skift, you see, en dey’d know ’bout whah I’d lan’ on de yuther side, en whah to pick up my track. So I says, a raff is what I’s arter; it doan’ MAKE no track.||“Well, when it got dark, I snuck up the river road and went about two miles or more to where there weren’t any houses. I’d made up my mind about what I was going to do. You see, if I kept trying to run away on foot, the dogs would track me down. But if I stole a skiff to cross the river, they’d miss the skiff and would know I’d landed on the other side. Then they would be able to pick up my tracks. So, I said to myself, I need a raft because it won’t leave ANY tracks.|
|“I see a light a-comin’ roun’ de p’int bymeby, so I wade’ in en shove’ a log ahead o’ me en swum more’n half way acrost de river, en got in ’mongst de drift-wood, en kep’ my head down low, en kinder swum agin de current tell de raff come along. Den I swum to de stern uv it en tuck a-holt. It clouded up en ’uz pooty dark for a little while. So I clumb up en laid down on de planks. De men ’uz all ’way yonder in de middle, whah de lantern wuz. De river wuz a-risin’, en dey wuz a good current; so I reck’n’d ’at by fo’ in de mawnin’ I’d be twenty-five mile down de river, en den I’d slip in jis b’fo’ daylight en swim asho’, en take to de woods on de Illinois side.||“Pretty soon I saw light coming around the point, so I waded out into the river and shoved a log ahead of me to help me swim. I swam more than halfway across the river, so I could mix in with the driftwood. I kept my head down low and swam against the current until a raft came along. I swam to the back of it and grabbed hold. It got really dark and cloudy for awhile, but I climbed on board and laid down on the planks. There were men on board, but they were over by the lantern in the middle of the raft. The river was rising and there was a good current, so I figured I’d be about twenty-five miles down the river by about four in the morning. Then I’d slip back into the water just before daylight and swim ashore to hide in the woods on the Illinois side of the river.”|
|“But I didn’ have no luck. When we ’uz mos’ down to de head er de islan’ a man begin to come aft wid de lantern, I see it warn’t no use fer to wait, so I slid overboard en struck out fer de islan’. Well, I had a notion I could lan’ mos’ anywhers, but I couldn’t—bank too bluff. I ’uz mos’ to de foot er de islan’ b’fo’ I found’ a good place. I went into de woods en jedged I wouldn’ fool wid raffs no mo’, long as dey move de lantern roun’ so. I had my pipe en a plug er dog-leg, en some matches in my cap, en dey warn’t wet, so I ’uz all right.”||“But I didn’t have any luck. When we were almost at the head of the island, a man with a lantern began to walk toward the back of the raft. I saw that it wasn’t any use to wait, so I slid overboard and started swimming toward the island. I thought I could land anywhere, but it turned out the bank was too steep. I was almost to the foot of the island before I found a good place. I went into the wood and decided not to bother with rafts any more because of the men with lanterns. I had my pipe and some tobacco and matches in my cap. They weren’t wet, so I was okay.”|
|“And so you ain’t had no meat nor bread to eat all this time? Why didn’t you get mud-turkles?”||“So all this time you haven’t had any meat or bread to eat? Why didn’t you get some mud turtles?”|
|“How you gwyne to git ’m? You can’t slip up on um en grab um; en how’s a body gwyne to hit um wid a rock? How could a body do it in de night? En I warn’t gwyne to show mysef on de bank in de daytime.”||“How was I supposed to get them? You can’t sneak up on them and grab them. And what was I going to hit them with? A rock? How could anyone do that at night? I wasn’t about to show myself on the bank in the daytime.”|
|“Well, that’s so. You’ve had to keep in the woods all the time, of course. Did you hear ’em shooting the cannon?”||“Well, that’s true. You’ve had to stay in the woods this whole time, of course. Did you hear them shooting the cannon?”|
|“Oh, yes. I knowed dey was arter you. I see um go by heah—watched um thoo de bushes.”||“Oh yes. I knew they were looking for you. I saw them go by here—I watched them through the bushes.”|
|Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and lighting. Jim said it was a sign it was going to rain. He said it was a sign when young chickens flew that way, and so he reckoned it was the same way when young birds done it. I was going to catch some of them, but Jim wouldn’t let me. He said it was death. He said his father laid mighty sick once, and some of them catched a bird, and his old granny said his father would die, and he did.||Some young birds came along and flew in stints about a yard or two before landing on branches. Jim said this was a sign that it was going to rain. He said it was a sign when young chickens flew that way, and he figured it was the same was true for young birds. I was going to catch some of them, but Jim wouldn’t let me. He said it would only bring death. He said his father had been really sick once. After some people caught a few birds, Jim’s granny said his father would die and he did.|
|And Jim said you mustn’t count the things you are going to cook for dinner, because that would bring bad luck. The same if you shook the table-cloth after sundown. And he said if a man owned a beehive and that man died, the bees must be told about it before sun-up next morning, or else the bees would all weaken down and quit work and die. Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots; but I didn’t believe that, because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn’t sting me.||Jim also said if was bad luck to count the things that you are going to cook for dinner. The same thing would happen if you shook out the tablecloth after sundown. And he said that if a man who owned a beehive died, the bees had to be told about it before sun up the next morning. Otherwise the bees would be so weak that they would quit work and die. Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots, but I didn’t believe that because I’d played around with bees lots of times and they never stung me.|
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