Runaway slaves Slaves sometimes runaway because they want free other times it is because they fear there punishment for breaking one of the masters rules. Slave owners use bloodhounds to track the runaway slaves. If you are caught escaping you will be in jail for a long time. The runaways know that successful escapes are rare. Problems of finding food and shelter in a hostile environment and the absence of maps were also reasons why most runaways failed the escape for freedom. They hide themselves during the day in the woods and swamps; at night they travel, crossing rivers by swimming,or by boats they may chance to meet with, and passing over hills and meadows which they do not know; in these dangerous journeys they are guided by the north-star, for they only know that the land of freedom is in the north. They subsist on such wild fruit as they can gather, and as they are often very long on their way, they reach the free states almost like skeletons.