I do not know how long I lay there, but when I had recovered, (or came to myself), the devil had gone. Oh! how my heart did throb; I thought the patrollers were after me on horseback. After I had gathered strength enough I got up and sat there thinking what to do; I first thought I would go off to the woods somewhere and hide myself till the next night, and then pursue my journey onward; but then I thought that would not do, for my enemies, who were pursuing me, would overtake and capture me. So I made up my mind that I would not loose any more time than was necessary; hence I crawled down the bank and started on with trembling steps, expecting every moment that that monster would be coming back to look for me.
Thus between hope, and fear, and doubt, I continued on foot till at last the day dawned and the sun had just began to rise. When the sun had risen as high as the tops of the trees, the monster all at once was coming back to meet me; I said to myself, "it is no use to run, I had just as well stand and make the best of it," thinking I would make the best bargain that I could with his majesty. Onward he came, with smoke and fire flying, and as he drew near to me, I exclaimed to myself, "why! what a monster's head he has on to him." Oh! said I, "look at his tushes (The cow-catcher in front of the engine).
I am a goner;" I looked again, saying to myself, "look at the wagons he has tied to him." Thinks I, "they are the wagons that he carries the souls to hell with." I looked through the windows to see if I could see any black people that he was carrying, but I did not see one, nothing but white people. Then I thought it was not black people that he was after, but only the whites, and I did not care how many of them he took. He went by me, like a flash; I expected every moment that he would stop and bid me come aboard, (for I had been a great hand to abuse the old gentleman; when at home I use to preach against him), but he did not, so I thought that he was going so fast he could not stop. He was soon out of sight, and I for the first time took a long breath.
After this fear subsided, starvation became the next challenge, the need for food so great he decided to risk knocking on a door and asking for something to eat. He feared the white occupants would turn him in, but he felt the alternative was literally starving to death. The woman smiled, invited him, and cooked him a sizable breakfast. The husband politely spoke with him, asking no probing questions. Smith had a quarter in his pocket to pay for the meal. He continued on to New Castle, where he rejoined his two friends. They bought tickets on a steamboat to Philadelphia, and no one asked them the customary questions blacks were asked when boarding a steamboat traveling from a slave state to a free state.
Once in Philadelphia, his two friends boarded ships leaving the United States, and Smith, who was broke, began seeking a job. Having worked for a shoemaker in Virginia, he asked shoemakers if they needed an assistant. A black shoemaker named Simpson discovered Smith was a fugitive and connected him with a network of Quakers who sent Smith on to David Ruggles in New York. Ruggles arranged for Smith to travel farther north to a Mr. Foster in Hartford, Connecticut and then a Dr. Osgood in Springfield, Massachusetts. Smith settled in Springfield for a few years and then moved Norwich, Connecticut.
Autobiography of James L. Smith, Including, Also, Reminiscences of Slave Life, Recollections of the War, Education of Freedmen, Causes of the Exodus, etc.:
(Documenting the American South – University of North Carolina)