I RUN AWAY
MOTHER'S health continued to fail for about two years, when she was compelled to keep her bed, and within a few weeks she died. "Oh," thought I, "what shall I do? My best friend is 'gone! It will be harder for me now!"
John kept me doing the indoor work for a few weeks, and Mrs. Oliver or Mrs. Evans, mother's daughter and daughter-in-law, first one and then the other, came over to knead the dough and do the washing. I did the rest until he hired a young girl, who worked one month only. Then another came, and she worked only one month. Then a Miss Clark came, and after working about three months she and John married.
When John would go logging, as all men of the neighbor-hood did, he would leave me a stint to do, usually more than I could accomplish.
The next spring and summer, also the following winter, a neighbor would say to me, "Jack, you're a fool to stay with Vail and be abused." Then another, "I wouldn't stay with him. You don't have to stay there and be abused as he abuses you." "I'd run away from him," etc.
Time went on. The summer and winter passed, and on entering into the seeding time for the next spring one of the neighbors happened to be talking to me about running away from Mr. Vail. I told him some things that Mr. Vail had said to me, threats of what he would do, and what a terrible place the jail was, etc., and what punishment some had to go through who went there. But in his Devonshire accents, he said, "Why, jail wu'd be 'eaven to tha. Hit's 'ell to stay wayen. Jail wu'd be 'eaven to tha, lucksy. I woden stay wayen wan day loonger."
Then I determined in my mind that the next time he
whipped me I would tell him I would leave him, and I did leave not long after. I went a few miles south, into the Catholic settlement, and concluded I was far enough from Mr. Vail's, and I would ask this man I was meeting for work; but being young, small, and inexperienced, I scarcely knew what to say. I commenced with, "Good-day, sir."
"Do you want to hire any hands?" I inquired with a grin. Shoving his thumbs into his trouser pockets with a smile, he asked, "Whose bye are ye?"
I told him my name was Cornish.
"What! Crack Jack Cornish's bye?"
I knew he was Irish. I told him I didn't know; I had never heard that name before. He then asked me if I was related to any of the Cornishes around here. I said I was not that I knew of.
"Well, then," said he, "you're Crack Jack's bye. Go to that house [pointing to the first house on the left going south] and tell the women to give you your supper, and I'll be back soon."
I remained with them that summer. I helped him finish the seeding; then he sent me to school.
After I started to go to school, it got out where I was, and one evening when I came home I saw Mr. Taylor standing talking with Mr. Casey. I was glad to see him. He lived across the road from Mr. Vail. As I started toward Mr. Taylor to speak to him, he spoke up quickly:
"Don't come near me, Johnny. Mr. Vail sent me after you."
Mr. Taylor was the constable for that place, and he was one who had put me up to run away from Mr. Vail. So I ran around the barn and Mr. Taylor went home. Mr. Taylor said I had put up with much, and he would not take me back to Vail.