ELIZA AMONG THE QUAKERS
While Uncle Tom was sailing South, down the wide river, to his new master’s home, Eliza with her boy was travelling north to Canada.
Kind people helped her all the way. She passed from friend to friend, till she arrived safely at a village where the people were Quakers.
The Quakers were gentle, quiet people. They all dressed alike in plain grey clothes, and the women wore big, white muslin caps. Because they thought it was wicked to have slaves, they helped those who ran away from their cruel masters. Often they were punished for doing this, but still they went on helping the poor slaves. For though the laws said it was wrong, they felt quite sure that it was really right to do so.
The kind Quaker women grew to be very fond of Eliza, and would have been glad if she would have stayed with them.
But Eliza said, ‘No, I must go on; I dare not stop. I can’t sleep at night: I can’t rest. Last night I dreamed I saw that man come into the yard.’
‘Poor child,’ said Rachel, the kind Quaker woman to whom she was speaking, ‘poor child, thee mustn’t feel so. No slave that has run away has ever been stolen from our village. It is safe here.’
While they were talking, Simeon, Rachel’s husband, came to the door and called, ‘Wife, I want to speak to thee a minute.’
Rachel went out to him. ‘Eliza’s husband is here,’ he said.
‘Art thee sure?’ asked Rachel, her face bright with joy.
‘Yes, quite certain; he will be here soon. Will thee tell her?’
Rachel went back into the kitchen, where Eliza was sewing, and, opening the door of a small bedroom, said gently, ‘Come in here with me, my daughter; I have news to tell thee.’
Eliza rose trembling, she was so afraid it was bad news.
‘No, no! never fear thee. It’s good news, Eliza,’ said Simeon,
Rachel shut the door, and drew Eliza towards her. ‘The Lord has been very good to thee,’ she said gently. ‘Thy husband hath escaped, and will be here to-night.’
‘To-night!’ repeated Eliza, ‘to-night!’
Then it seemed as if the room and everything in it swam round her, and she fell into Rachel’s arms.
Very gently Rachel laid her down on the bed. Eliza slept as she had not slept since the dreadful night when she had taken her boy and run away through the cold, dark night.
She dreamed of a beautiful country—a land, it seemed to her, of rest—green shores, pleasant islands, and lovely glittering water. There in a house, which kind voices told her was her home, she saw Harry playing happily. She heard her husband’s footstep. She felt him coming nearer. His arms were around her, his tears falling upon her face, and she awoke.
It was no dream. The sun had set, the candles were lit. Harry was sleeping by her side, and George, her husband, was holding her in his arms.