RIDE ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Quint kept going deeper and deeper into the woods. It was hot and humid, and mosquitoes were flying around my head and arms, and every part of my body that was not covered with clothes. Susan was slapping at mosquitoes too. She didn't look too happy, but was afraid of seeming afraid in front of me and Quint.
“Quint, where we going,” she finally asked.
We could no longer see MaMu's house or any of her neighbors houses.
“Shh, I hear something,” he finally said.
We all stopped and tried to listen. But all I heard was the drone of mosquitoes, and the wind in the trees.
Then I heard it. It was like a rustling in the bushes. Couldn't tell if it was an animal or what.
“You hear that?” Quint asked.
“Yeah but what is it?”
Susan was behind me, she grabbed my arm and held on tight.
We kept quiet, looking in the direction of the rustling. We didn't have long to wait, soon we saw a man leading a boy and girl, with a woman in the rear. They were walking stealthily, low to the ground, looking over their shoulders at each step. They almost didn't see us. The girl in turning her head spotted us first, and tapped on the man's shoulder without uttering a word. He then saw us and stopped the little group.
We all looked at each other, not saying a word. We didn't know who was friend or enemy.
Finally the man eased over to us, walking low to the ground, and whispering said, “Ya'll with that Smith family that's suppose to come with us up north?”
“Yes sir,” I said, “we're with the Smith family, but I don't know about going with you up north.”
The man, I guessed he was the father, tried to reassure us about this trip. “Ya'll can't stay here I hear the dogs coming now, “ he said. “No need for you to be afeard, I've known even the youngest person to be able to change the course of the future, so come on,” he said encouragingly as he turned to lead the way.
“Well you can't stay here,” he said again, “those dogs gonna be on our heels soon, if they not get you first, then you gonna lead them to us, and we all gonna be in a heap of trouble.”
He begin to walk away, his family following. He looked back once and with his hand urged us on to follow.
I looked at Quint and Susan. What should we do, I mouthed. Far away we could hear dogs. Besides wolves, I was really scared of dogs.
Without another word, we three followed the little family. We didn't know where we were going, but knew we couldn't stay here with the dogs coming. Besides we had come too far to find our grandmother's house. Maybe these people could help us get back.
Following their lead we crunched down low, but going as fast as we could. We must have gone miles it seemed. Nothing looked familiar. We didn't talk to each other, but we knew we had to keep moving.
We came to a little stream. The man held his hand up for us to stop. He whispered that the water would throw the dogs off our scent. But we were not going to cross the stream, but walk along the edge in the water.
“They expect us to cross, and by the time they figger out their mistake, we'll be long gone in the other direction,” the man said.
Again, we just followed along, not saying a word. Quint and I had been on adventures before, and nothing bad had really happened to us. That's what this felt like.
This family was dressed real funny. Only the man had on shoes, the rest were bare footed. Their clothes were raggedy. The girl and the woman had bright colored scarves on their heads. We later learned that this was to show they were not children anymore. The girl just had on what looked like a slip. They all carried thin blankets.
After what seemed like several hours, walking in and out of the water, we stopped under a big old magnolia tree. The woman opened up a cloth bag and gave us each a piece of cold corn bread. I was hungry and we all began to eat. It was nearly dark now, and we couldn't hear the dogs anymore. I think it had been a long time since we had heard them.
I ate, looking around at this strange group of people. The man was big, dark and strong looking. All while he was eating he was looking around. Between him and the woman, who I figured was his wife, the two children sat together, looking as tired as we were. The boy and girl were about our ages, about 12 – 13 years old. I don't know how they could do all this walking barefoot, but they seemed use to it.
I decided to be brave and ask were they were going.
'Where you going sir?” I asked
He looked at me strangely.
“Boy you sound like some of those northern blacks I heard of once when I was in Atlanta,” he said with a smile on his face.
“Are you from Siloam too,” I asked.
“Yeah, but we decided to leave tonight,” he responded, “Moses told us now is the time to go.”
“Where you going?”
“Why boy, we going up north, where no body can beat us anymore, or break up our family, like they tried before. We going to follow that north star to freedom.” he paused, “we all on the underground railroad.”