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[486]

“ Joe, the white race have maintained their liberty by their valor. Are you willing to fight for yours! Ay! fight to the death!”

“I'se fight for yous any time, Massa John.”

“I believe you, Joe. But I have desperate work on hand to-night, and I do not want you to engage in it without a prospect of reward. If I succeed, I will make you a free man. It is a matter of life and death-will you go?”

“I will, massa.”

“Then kneel down, and swear before the ever-living God, that, if you falter or shrink the danger, you may hereafter be consigned to everlasting fire!”

“I swear, massa,” said the negro, kneeling. “Ana I hope that God Almighty may strike me dead if I don't go wid you through fire and water, and ebery ting!”

“I am satisfied, Joe,” said his master; then turning to the young girl, who had been a mute spectator of this singular scene, he continued: “Now, Mattie, you get in the wagon and I'll drive down to the parsonage, and you remain there with Mrs. Peters and the children until I bring you some intelligence of your father.”

While the sturdy old blacksmith was awaiting the return of his daughter, the party that he had repulsed returned with increased numbers and demanded the minister. A fierce quarrel ensued, which resulted in their seizing the smith and carrying him off. They conveyed him to a tavern half a mile distant from the shop, and there he was arraigned before what was termed a vigilance committee. The committee met in a long room on the ground-floor, dim y lighted by a lamp which stood upon a small table in front of the chairman

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