Narrative of William W. Brown, An American Slave

By William Wells Brown | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.

Soon afterwards, my master removed to the city of St. Louis, and purchased a farm four miles from there, which he placed under the charge of an overseer by the name of Friend Haskell. He was a regular Yankee from New England. The Yankees are noted for making the most cruel overseers.

My mother was hired out in the city, and I was also hired out there to Major Freeland, who kept a public house. He was formerly from Virginia, and was a horse-racer, cock-fighter, gambler, and withal an inveterate drunkard. There were ten or twelve servants in the house, and when he was present, it was cut and slash—knock down and drag out. In his fits of anger, he would take up a chair, and throw it at a servant; and in his more rational moments, when he wished to chastise one, he would tie them up in the smoke-house, and whip them; after which, he would cause a fire to be made of tobacco stems, and smoke them. This he called “Virginia play."

[Page 21]I complained to my master of the treatment which I received from Major Freeland; but it made no difference. He cared nothing about it, so long as he received the money for my labor. After living with Major Freeland five or six months, I ran away, and went into the woods back of the city; and when night came on, I made my way to my master’s farm, but was afraid to be seen, knowing that if Mr. Haskell, the overseer, should discover me, I should be again carried back to Major Freeland; so I kept in the woods. One day, while in the woods, I heard the barking and howling of dogs, and in a short time they came so near that I knew them to be the bloodhounds of Major Benjamin O’Fallon. He kept five or six, to hunt runaway slaves with.

As soon as I was convinced that it was them, I knew there was no chance of escape. I took refuge in the top of a tree, and the hounds were soon at its base, and there remained until the hunters came up in a half or three

-22-

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Narrative of William W. Brown, An American Slave
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • About This Edition 3
  • Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave 6
  • Preface 8
  • Narrative 17
  • Chapter I 18
  • Chapter II 22
  • Chapter III 25
  • Chapter IV 30
  • Chapter V 33
  • Chapter VI 42
  • Chapter VII 44
  • Chapter VIII 48
  • Chapter IX 51
  • Chapter X 57
  • Chapter XI 60
  • Chapter XII 67
  • From the Liberty Bell of 1848 74
  • Flight of the Bondman 77
  • Freedom’s Star 79
  • Lament of the Fugitive Slave 80
  • Appendix 83
  • Testimonials 106
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