Chapter 27: Harriet Tubman
1850 – Dorchester County, Maryland, America
The two houses stood just like in my dream. I rushed up the porch where the one light could be seen and knocked, prayin’ the Lord had sent me the right direction. A black man opened the door and his eyes just about bugged out his head when he saw our group lookin’ like a pack of half drown rats.
“Come in, come in,” he motioned and moved for us to pile in. “Anyone followin’ you?” I shook my head. We were all drenched. The baby and Jane started to fuss. Sarah comforted the baby and Harry put his arm around Jane. A woman and two children appeared at the stairs.
“Yes’um,” I replied and we all stood around for a moment, the air feelin’ thick.
“C’mon now, you all probably need some rest and food. North bound?” Our eyes shifted between us and then we nodded. “You kids go get dressed now so we can help our new friends out.” Her children dashed up the stairs.
The woman’s name was Louise and she explained her, her family, her brother, Leon, and his family lived as free blacks on this little piece of land. Born that way. Their parents had been manumitted some years before but had passed due to old age and illness. They said they wanted to help the folk go north and get free, too, although there weren’t many that passed that way ’cause of the location.
“It’s surprisin’ you found us, to be honest,” Louise said as she began to make coffee and fatback. There was a pan of day old biscuits she offered and we passed them around and thanked her.
“I saw your place in a dream,” I said. “The Lord himself showed me the way.”
“Praise God,” Louise said.
“Amen,” chorused back from Sarah and Benji.
“I pass through here pretty regular, I’m happy know you be obligin’ folk.”
“Regular?” Louise was serving each of my family more food. Her children had returned and fell into helpin’ her like a well-oiled machine. The oldest child took charge of Sarah’s two so she could eat.
We rested some and at sunset, we bid our farewells. I didn’t have nothin’ to compensate Louise with so I took off my long underwear under my britches and left them folded on the bed. They were good quality linen. Leon had sent word to another family we’d be comin’ along shortly. Then he gave me directions to a place I’d never been to, but I knew the area well enough I could still get us all across the free line. It was rough goin’. There weren’t but a sliver of a path and we had to go single file, me in the lead, Robert bringin’ up the rear.