The awful thunder of a mud-valve suddenly burst forth, drowning the prayer, and as suddenly Uncle Dan'l snatched a child under each arm and scoured into the woods with the rest of the pack at his heels. And then, ashamed of himself, he halted in the deep darkness and shouted, (but rather feebly:)
"Heah I is, Lord, heah I is!"
There was a moment of throbbing suspense, and then, to the surprise and the comfort of the party, it was plain that the august presence had gone by, for its dreadful noises were receding. Uncle Dan'l headed a cautious reconnaissance in the direction of the log. Sure enough "the Lord" was just turning a point a short distance up the river, and while they looked the lights winked out and the coughing diminished by degrees and presently ceased altogether.
"H'wsh! Well now dey's some folks says dey ain't no 'ficiency in prah. Dis Chile would like to know whah we'd a ben now if it warn't fo' dat prah? Dat's it. Dat's it!"
"Uncle Dan'l, do you reckon it was the prayer that saved us?" said Clay.
"Does I reckon? Don't I know it! Whah was yo' eyes? Warn't de Lord jes' a cumin' chow! chow! CHOW! an' a goin' on turrible--an' do de Lord carry on dat way 'dout dey's sumfin don't suit him? An' warn't he a lookin' right at dis gang heah, an' warn't he jes' a reachin' for 'em? An' d'you spec' he gwyne to let 'em off 'dout somebody ast him to do it? No indeedy!"
"Do you reckon he saw, us, Uncle Dan'l?
"De law sakes, Chile, didn't I see him a lookin' at us?".
"Did you feel scared, Uncle Dan'l?"
"No sah! When a man is 'gaged in prah, he ain't fraid o' nuffin--dey can't nuffin tetch him."
"Well what did you run for?"
"Well, I--I--mars Clay, when a man is under de influence ob de sperit, he do-no, what he's 'bout--no sah; dat man do-no what he's 'bout. You mout take an' tah de head off'n dat man an' he wouldn't scasely fine it out. Date's de Hebrew chil'en dat went frough de fiah; dey was burnt considable--ob coase dey was; but dey didn't know nuffin 'bout it--heal right up agin; if dey'd ben gals dey'd missed dey long haah, (hair,) maybe, but dey wouldn't felt de burn."
"I don't know but what they were girls. I think they were."
"Now mars Clay, you knows bettern dat. Sometimes a body can't tell whedder you's a sayin' what you means or whedder you's a sayin' what you don't mean, 'case you says 'em bofe de same way."
"But how should I know whether they were boys or girls?"
"Goodness sakes, mars Clay, don't de Good Book say? 'Sides, don't it call 'em de HE-brew chil'en? If dey was gals wouldn't dey be de SHE-brew chil'en? Some people dat kin read don't 'pear to take no notice when dey do read."
"Well, Uncle Dan'l, I think that-----My! here comes another one up the river! There can't be two!"
"We gone dis time--we done gone dis time, sho'! Dey ain't two, mars Clay--days de same one. De Lord kin 'pear eberywhah in a second. Goodness, how do fiah and de smoke do belch up! Dat mean business, honey. He comin' now like he fo'got sumfin. Come 'long, chil'en, time you's gwyne to roos'. Go 'long wid you--ole Uncle Daniel gwyne out in de woods to rastle in prah--de ole nigger gwyne to do what he kin to sabe you agin"
He did go to the woods and pray; but he went so far that he doubted, himself, if the Lord heard him when He went by.
--Seventhly, Before his Voyage, He should make his peace with God, satisfie his Creditors if he be in debt; Pray earnestly to God to prosper him in his Voyage, and to keep him from danger, and, if he be 'sui juris' he should make his last will, and wisely order all his affairs, since many that go far abroad, return not home. (This good and Christian Counsel is given by Martinus Zeilerus in his Apodemical Canons before his Itinerary of Spain and Portugal.)
Early in the morning Squire Hawkins took passage in a small steamboat, with his family and his two slaves, and presently the bell rang, the stage-plank; was hauled in, and the vessel proceeded up the river. The children and the slaves were not much more at ease after finding out that this monster was a creature of human contrivance than they were the night before when they thought it the Lord of heaven and earth.