Ten-year-old James Matlack came running into
the sitting-room where his parents were relaxing by
the evening fire.
"Father," he cried in excitement, "the horses are
gone from the stable! Somebody has stolen them!"
His father, James Matlack, Sr., looked up and
smiled. '"Do not trouble thyself about it," he an-
swered. "I have found the horses gone quite often,
when I went to the barn after dark. But I always go
to bed, and sleep very soundly, and in the morning
they are back again safe and sound. They may be a
little muddy, and need the currycomb, but they are
always quite safe."'
"But, father, how--" The boy paused, puzzled.
"I think that Jamie is old enough to be told," his
Her husband nodded. "Thee knows, my boy, that
Negroes often pass through the settlement, on their
way north to Canada. They are escaping from slav-
ery, and they endure every hardship, that they may
win their freedom. There is a law now that if they
are caught anywhere in the United States, they must
be returned to their owners. People who help them
are liable under the new law to be punished."
The boy, listening eagerly, burst out: "The Friends
would never send a man back to be sold just like a
horse or a cow!"
"No, we will not," answered his father. "Friends
wish to obey the law of God, as above the law of
man, and we will help these colored people who
come to us, in every way we can. Why should fear of
suffering keep us from doing what we think is right?
"Negroes who come to me or to Neighbor Coates
are helped on their way. They are often driven twelve
or fifteen miles northward to another Friends' settle-
ment, where they will be helped further."
"But how, father?" cried the eager boy. "Thee
never takes them, I am sure. Thee is always here
every night, and in the morning, too."
"That is true," was the smiling answer. "I am
always here nights. So it is quite impossible that I
should take slaves northward. I am at home, even if
my horses are not."
"But where are the horses?"
His father continued: "And if anybody should
think of charging Neighbor Coates with taking run-
away slaves northward, they might perhaps find Jos-
eph out for the evening; but they would find his
horses in their stable. It hardly looks as though either
of us could have anything to do with such things . . ."
Jamie's eyes were fastened questioningly on his
father for a moment; then he burst out, gleefully:
"Oh, I see now-Friend Coates takes thy--"
"Hush!" interrupted Mr. Matlack. "Do not even
speak it. Neighbor Coates and I are partners in a
plan for sending marketing northward, that is all,
and we do not even talk about that. Thee had better
shell some corn for thy hens, now."
He turned again to his paper, and Jamie obe-
diently brought in a basket of corn, and, sitting down
on the hearth, began to rattle the kernels into a tin
basin. His eyes wandered about as he worked, now
upon the fire, now upon its reflection in the unshaded
Suddenly he started. He had caught a glimpse of
something moving outside the window. The next
instant a coal-black face was pressed against the pane.
The appearance was so sudden that Jamie dropped
his corn-cob into the basin, and uttered a sharp ex-
clamation. His father and mother looked up in sur-
prise, as a black hand opened the window a bit, and
a voice said: "Please, missus an' massa, don' be
scared. It's only a poor cullud man."
The elder Matlack sprang to his feet, and went to
the door, coming back a moment later with the black-
est Negro that Jamie had ever seen. He gave the man
a seat by the fire, while his wife hurried out to the
kitchen to get some supper for the traveler. Then
Mr. Matlack questioned him.
"Where is thee going?"
"Dunno, massa. I'se jes' follerin' de Norf Star till
"Is there anybody following thee?"
"I don' think so, massa. Twenty, thirty mile back,
I cut across from one road to anudder, an' I think I
fooled 'em dat way, if anybody was a-follerin' me."
"Yet there is always danger, and it is well to go
on as rapidly as possible. Thee can eat here and sleep
for a while, and then we can send thee on further
this very night."
"God bress you, massa," exclaimed the slave, in
Mr. Matlack turned to Jamie. "Jamie, I wish thee
would run over to Neighbor Coates, and tell him that
I have some more marketing for him tonight, and
will bring it over about one o'clock."
The boy jumped up, seized his cap, and hastened
on his errand. His heart was full of exultation. He
was old enough now, and so trustworthy, that he
was taking part in this great enterprise. He was car-
rying a message that would help a man to freedom.
Neighbor Coates' home was not far away, and the
message was soon delivered. Jamie returned home, to
find the Negro already fast asleep, and his father
was locking the house for the night, to insure the
safety of the refugee.
"Can I take him over to Neighbor Ceates, father,
when it is time?" asked Jamie, eager to do all he
could in this thrilling business.
But his father shook his head. "No, son, thee has
done thy part. All thee can do now is to go to bed,
and to sleep."
"But, father, Won't thee anyhow please wake me
up, and let me see thee take him away?"
Mr. Matlack smiled, but seeing the boy's earnest-
ness, promised to do so.
And so at one o'clock in the morning a very sleepy
Jamie, yet wide-eyed' with interest, came part way
down the broad, stairs to watch his father start out
with the Negro, who was wearing an old coat of Mr.
Matlack's to add warmth to the thin garments he
had fled in.
His father pointed to the boy. "My son wants to
wish thee good fortune," he said to the Negro.
The Negro, grinning with pleasure, pulled off his
worn hat, and called back, "Thanks, little massa,
thanks. Now I knows I shall reach de Promised
"Goodbye," said Jamie. "Goodbye; I hope thee will
reach Canada soon."
The door closed, and Jamie stumbled back to bed,
happy, because another man would soon be free.