"Forty Miles to Liberty"
A friend of mine went to teach in Natchez before the war. He and a friend of his went out riding one Saturday in the country. They saw an old slave coming, and they thought they would have a little fun. They had just come to a place where there was a fork in the road, and there was a sign-post which read, "Forty miles to Liberty."
"Sambo, how old are you?"
"I don't know, massa. I guess I'se about eighty."
"Can you read?"
"No, sah; we don't read in dis country. It's agin the law."
"Can you tell what is on that sign-post?"
"Yes, sah; it says forty miles to Liberty."
"Well, now," said my friend, "why don't you follow that road and get your liberty? It says there, only 'forty miles to Liberty.' Now, why don't you take that road and go there?"
The old man's countenance changed, and he said: "That ar's a sham, young massa, but if it pointed up thar," and he raised his trembling hand toward heaven, "to the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free, that ar wouldn't be no sham."
The old slave, with all his ignorance, had even then experienced a liberty in his own soul that these young men, with all their boasted education, at that time knew nothing of.