The rest of our story is soon told. George Shelby, interested,
as any other young man might be, by the romance of the incident,
no less than by feelings of humanity, was at the pains to send
to Cassy the bill of sale of Eliza; whose date and name all
corresponded with her own knowledge of facts, and felt no doubt
upon her mind as to the identity of her child. It remained now
only for her to trace out the path of the fugitives.
Madame de Thoux and she, thus drawn together by the singular
coincidence of their fortunes, proceeded immediately to Canada,
and began a tour of inquiry among the stations, where the numerous
fugitives from slavery are located. At Amherstberg they found the
missionary with whom George and Eliza had taken shelter, on their
first arrival in Canada; and through him were enabled to trace the
family to Montreal.
George and Eliza had now been five years free. George had
found constant occupation in the shop of a worthy machinist, where
he had been earning a competent support for his family, which, in
the mean time, had been increased by the addition of another daughter.
Little Harry--a fine bright boy--had been put to a good school,
and was making rapid proficiency in knowledge.
The worthy pastor of the station, in Amherstberg, where George
had first landed, was so much interested in the statements of
Madame de Thoux and Cassy, that he yielded to the solicitations
of the former, to accompany them to Montreal, in their search,--she
bearing all the expense of the expedition.
The scene now changes to a small, neat tenement, in the
outskirts of Montreal; the time, evening. A cheerful fire blazes
on the hearth; a tea-table, covered with a snowy cloth, stands
prepared for the evening meal. In one corner of the room was a
table covered with a green cloth, where was an open writing-desk,
pens, paper, and over it a shelf of well-selected books.
This was George's study. The same zeal for self-improvement,
which led him to steal the much coveted arts of reading and writing,
amid all the toil and discouragements of his early life, still led
him to devote all his leisure time to self-cultivation.
At this present time, he is seated at the table, making notes
from a volume of the family library he has been reading.
"Come, George," says Eliza, "you've been gone all day. Do put
down that book, and let's talk, while I'm getting tea,--do."
And little Eliza seconds the effort, by toddling up to her
father, and trying to pull the book out of his hand, and install
herself on his knee as a substitute.
"O, you little witch!" says George, yielding, as, in such
circumstances, man always must.
"That's right," says Eliza, as she begins to cut a loaf of bread.
A little older she looks; her form a little fuller; her air more
matronly than of yore; but evidently contented and happy as woman
"Harry, my boy, how did you come on in that sum, today?"
says George, as he laid his land on his son's head.
Harry has lost his long curls; but he can never lose those
eyes and eyelashes, and that fine, bold brow, that flushes
with triumph, as he answers, "I did it, every bit of it, myself,
father; and nobody helped me!"
"That's right," says his father; "depend on yourself, my son.
You have a better chance than ever your poor father had."
At this moment, there is a rap at the door; and Eliza goes and
opens it. The delighted--"Why! this you?"--calls up her husband;
and the good pastor of Amherstberg is welcomed. There are two more
women with him, and Eliza asks them to sit down.
Now, if the truth must be told, the honest pastor had arranged
a little programme, according to which this affair was to
develop itself; and, on the way up, all had very cautiously and
prudently exhorted each other not to let things out, except according
to previous arrangement.
What was the good man's consternation, therefore, just as
he had motioned to the ladies to be seated, and was taking out his
pocket-handkerchief to wipe his mouth, so as to proceed to his
introductory speech in good order, when Madame de Thoux upset the
whole plan, by throwing her arms around George's neck, and letting
all out at once, by saying, "O, George! don't you know me? I'm your
Cassy had seated herself more composedly, and would have carried
on her part very well, had not little Eliza suddenly appeared
before her in exact shape and form, every outline and curl, just
as her daughter was when she saw her last. The little thing peered
up in her face; and Cassy caught her up in her arms, pressed her
to her bosom, saying, what, at the moment she really believed,
"Darling, I'm your mother!"
In fact, it was a troublesome matter to do up exactly in proper
order; but the good pastor, at last, succeeded in getting
everybody quiet, and delivering the speech with which he had intended
to open the exercises; and in which, at last, he succeeded so well,
that his whole audience were sobbing about him in a manner that ought
to satisfy any orator, ancient or modern.
They knelt together, and the good man prayed,--for there are
some feelings so agitated and tumultuous, that they can find
rest only by being poured into the bosom of Almighty love,--and
then, rising up, the new-found family embraced each other, with a
holy trust in Him, who from such peril and dangers, and by such
unknown ways, had brought them together.
The note-book of a missionary, among the Canadian fugitives,
contains truth stranger than fiction. How can it be otherwise,
when a system prevails which whirls families and scatters their
members, as the wind whirls and scatters the leaves of autumn?
These shores of refuge, like the eternal shore, often unite again,
in glad communion, hearts that for long years have mourned each
other as lost. And affecting beyond expression is the earnestness
with which every new arrival among them is met, if, perchance, it
may bring tidings of mother, sister, child or wife, still lost to
view in the shadows of slavery.
Deeds of heroism are wrought here more than those of romance,
when defying torture, and braving death itself, the fugitive
voluntarily threads his way back to the terrors and perils of that
dark land, that he may bring out his sister, or mother, or wife.
One young man, of whom a missionary has told us, twice
re-captured, and suffering shameful stripes for his heroism, had
escaped again; and, in a letter which we heard read, tells his
friends that he is going back a third time, that he may, at last,
bring away his sister. My good sir, is this man a hero, or a
criminal? Would not you do as much for your sister? And can you
But, to return to our friends, whom we left wiping their eyes,
and recovering themselves from too great and sudden a joy.
They are now seated around the social board, and are getting
decidedly companionable; only that Cassy, who keeps little
Eliza on her lap, occasionally squeezes the little thing, in
a manner that rather astonishes her, and obstinately refuses to
have her mouth stuffed with cake to the extent the little one
desires,--alleging, what the child rather wonders at, that she has
got something better than cake, and doesn't want it.
And, indeed, in two or three days, such a change has passed over
Cassy, that our readers would scarcely know her. The despairing,
haggard expression of her face had given way to one of gentle trust.
She seemed to sink, at once, into the bosom of the family, and take
the little ones into her heart, as something for which it long
had waited. Indeed, her love seemed to flow more naturally to the
little Eliza than to her own daughter; for she was the exact image
and body of the child whom she had lost. The little one was a
flowery bond between mother and daughter, through whom grew up
acquaintanceship and affection. Eliza's steady, consistent piety,
regulated by the constant reading of the sacred word, made her a
proper guide for the shattered and wearied mind of her mother.
Cassy yielded at once, and with her whole soul, to every good
influence, and became a devout and tender Christian.
After a day or two, Madame de Thoux told her brother more
particularly of her affairs. The death of her husband had left
her an ample fortune, which she generously offered to share with
the family. When she asked George what way she could best apply
it for him, he answered, "Give me an education, Emily; that has
always been my heart's desire. Then, I can do all the rest."
On mature deliberation, it was decided that the whole family
should go, for some years, to France; whither they sailed, carrying
Emmeline with them.
The good looks of the latter won the affection of the first mate
of the vessel; and, shortly after entering the port, she became
George remained four years at a French university, and, applying
himself with an unintermitted zeal, obtained a very thorough
Political troubles in France, at last, led the family again
to seek an asylum in this country.
George's feelings and views, as an educated man, may be
best expressed in a letter to one of his friends.
"I feel somewhat at a loss, as to my future course. True, as
you have said to me, I might mingle in the circles of the whites,
in this country, my shade of color is so slight, and that of my
wife and family scarce perceptible. Well, perhaps, on sufferance,
I might. But, to tell you the truth, I have no wish to.
"My sympathies are not for my father's race, but for my mother's.
To him I was no more than a fine dog or horse: to my poor
heart-broken mother I was a child; and, though I never saw
her, after the cruel sale that separated us, till she died, yet I
know she always loved me dearly. I know it by my own heart.
When I think of all she suffered, of my own early sufferings, of
the distresses and struggles of my heroic wife, of my sister, sold
in the New Orleans slave-market,--though I hope to have no unchristian
sentiments, yet I may be excused for saying, I have no wish to pass
for an American, or to identify myself with them.
"It is with the oppressed, enslaved African race that I cast
in my lot; and, if I wished anything, I would wish myself two
shades darker, rather than one lighter.
"The desire and yearning of my soul is for an African nationality.
I want a people that shall have a tangible, separate existence
of its own; and where am I to look for it? Not in Hayti; for in
Hayti they had nothing to start with. A stream cannot rise above
its fountain. The race that formed the character of the Haytiens
was a worn-out, effeminate one; and, of course, the subject race
will be centuries in rising to anything.
"Where, then, shall I look? On the shores of Africa I see
a republic,--a republic formed of picked men, who, by energy and
self-educating force, have, in many cases, individually, raised
themselves above a condition of slavery. Having gone through a
preparatory stage of feebleness, this republic has, at last, become
an acknowledged nation on the face of the earth,--acknowledged by
both France and England. There it is my wish to go, and find myself
"I am aware, now, that I shall have you all against me; but,
before you strike, hear me. During my stay in France, I have
followed up, with intense interest, the history of my people
in America. I have noted the struggle between abolitionist and
colonizationist, and have received some impressions, as a distant
spectator, which could never have occurred to me as a participator.
"I grant that this Liberia may have subserved all sorts of
purposes, by being played off, in the hands of our oppressors,
against us. Doubtless the scheme may have been used, in unjustifiable
ways, as a means of retarding our emancipation. But the question
to me is, Is there not a God above all man's schemes? May He not
have over-ruled their designs, and founded for us a nation by them?
"In these days, a nation is born in a day. A nation starts, now,
with all the great problems of republican life and civilization
wrought out to its hand;--it has not to discover, but only to apply.
Let us, then, all take hold together, with all our might, and see
what we can do with this new enterprise, and the whole splendid
continent of Africa opens before us and our children. Our nation
shall roll the tide of civilization and Christianity along its
shores, and plant there mighty republics, that, growing with the
rapidity of tropical vegetation, shall be for all coming ages.
"Do you say that I am deserting my enslaved brethren? I think not.
If I forget them one hour, one moment of my life, so may God
forget me! But, what can I do for them, here? Can I break
their chains? No, not as an individual; but, let me go and form
part of a nation, which shall have a voice in the councils of
nations, and then we can speak. A nation has a right to argue,
remonstrate, implore, and present the cause of its race,--which an
individual has not.
"If Europe ever becomes a grand council of free nations,--as
I trust in God it will,--if, there, serfdom, and all unjust and
oppressive social inequalities, are done away; and if they, as
France and England have done, acknowledge our position,--then, in
the great congress of nations, we will make our appeal, and present
the cause of our enslaved and suffering race; and it cannot be that
free, enlightened America will not then desire to wipe from her
escutcheon that bar sinister which disgraces her among nations,
and is as truly a curse to her as to the enslaved.
"But, you will tell me, our race have equal rights to mingle
in the American republic as the Irishman, the German, the Swede.
Granted, they have. We ought to be free to meet and mingle,--to
rise by our individual worth, without any consideration of caste
or color; and they who deny us this right are false to their own
professed principles of human equality. We ought, in particular,
to be allowed here. We have more than the rights of common
men;--we have the claim of an injured race for reparation. But, then,
I do not want it; I want a country, a nation, of my own. I think
that the African race has peculiarities, yet to be unfolded in the
light of civilization and Christianity, which, if not the same with
those of the Anglo-Saxon, may prove to be, morally, of even a
"To the Anglo-Saxon race has been intrusted the destinies of
the world, during its pioneer period of struggle and conflict.
To that mission its stern, inflexible, energetic elements, were
well adapted; but, as a Christian, I look for another era to arise.
On its borders I trust we stand; and the throes that now convulse
the nations are, to my hope, but the birth-pangs of an hour of
universal peace and brotherhood.
"I trust that the development of Africa is to be essentially a
Christian one. If not a dominant and commanding race, they are,
at least, an affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one. Having
been called in the furnace of injustice and oppression, they have
need to bind closer to their hearts that sublime doctrine of love
and forgiveness, through which alone they are to conquer, which it
is to be their mission to spread over the continent of Africa.
"In myself, I confess, I am feeble for this,--full half the
blood in my veins is the hot and hasty Saxon; but I have an
eloquent preacher of the Gospel ever by my side, in the person of
my beautiful wife. When I wander, her gentler spirit ever restores
me, and keeps before my eyes the Christian calling and mission of
our race. As a Christian patriot, as a teacher of Christianity,
I go to my country,--my chosen, my glorious Africa!--and to her,
in my heart, I sometimes apply those splendid words of prophecy:
'Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went
through thee; I will make thee an eternal excellence, a joy of
"You will call me an enthusiast: you will tell me that I have
not well considered what I am undertaking. But I have
considered, and counted the cost. I go to Liberia, not as an
Elysium of romance, but as to a field of work. I expect to work
with both hands,--to work hard; to work against all sorts of
difficulties and discouragements; and to work till I die. This is
what I go for; and in this I am quite sure I shall not be disappointed.
"Whatever you may think of my determination, do not divorce
me from your confidence; and think that, in whatever I do,
I act with a heart wholly given to my people.
George, with his wife, children, sister and mother, embarked
for Africa, some few weeks after. If we are not mistaken, the
world will yet hear from him there.
Of our other characters we have nothing very particular to
write, except a word relating to Miss Ophelia and Topsy, and a
farewell chapter, which we shall dedicate to George Shelby.
Miss Ophelia took Topsy home to Vermont with her, much to the
surprise of the grave deliberative body whom a New Englander
recognizes under the term "Our folks." "Our folks," at first,
thought it an odd and unnecessary addition to their well-trained
domestic establishment; but, so thoroughly efficient was Miss
Ophelia in her conscientious endeavor to do her duty by her eleve,
that the child rapidly grew in grace and in favor with the family
and neighborhood. At the age of womanhood, she was, by her own
request, baptized, and became a member of the Christian church in
the place; and showed so much intelligence, activity and zeal, and
desire to do good in the world, that she was at last recommended,
and approved as a missionary to one of the stations in Africa; and
we have heard that the same activity and ingenuity which, when a
child, made her so multiform and restless in her developments, is
now employed, in a safer and wholesomer manner, in teaching the
children of her own country.
P.S.--It will be a satisfaction to some mother, also, to state,
that some inquiries, which were set on foot by Madame de Thoux,
have resulted recently in the discovery of Cassy's son. Being a
young man of energy, he had escaped, some years before his mother,
and been received and educated by friends of the oppressed in
the north. He will soon follow his family to Africa.