January 23, 2008 Danish KhanFirst Step WritingChapter 11 - 15 Recount: The Journey BeginsAfter hours of planning with Mr. Ross, and preparing for their great escape, Julilly, Lester, Liza and Adam finally set out on the path that they must walk to reach their long and painfully awaited freedom. Traveling north they encounter slave hunters and mean, nasty, evil spirited sheriffs, all of whom that want grab them out of their destiny and put them all back to their cages, back to the Riley plantation. Along the way, the clutches of the slave hunters capture Lester and Adam. Hoping that their fallen companions would be fine and would manage to escape somehow, Julilly and Liza continue their journey towards freedom. They meet the kind Mennonites who help them, an old man who directs them, and Jeb Brown who shelters and protects them from the wrath of the slave hunters.
Traveling north, towards Tennessee Julilly, Liza, Lester and Adam stopped to eat what little they had saved in the Riley Plantation.
A question arose in Lisa's mind as they ate. She asked how they would know when they had reached Tennessee. The answer came from Lester. He could read. Another slave had taught him from the Hensen plantation. They continued their journey. Travelled at night, slept at day. This was the routine Mr. Ross had recommended for them. The swamps hid their scent and concealed their footprints. Days swept by like a summer breeze. The sky was dark when the four of them reached their destination. There was a sign reading Tennessee. Lester read it out loud. But suddenly they heard the sound of hooves coming down the dirt road they were on. Quickly, the four of them retreated back to field of corn. The men on horseback were slave hunters. One of them looked a lot like Sims, Julilly noticed. Without noticing them, the slave hunters rode by. Minutes later a colored man showed up at the scene. Julilly approached him and said the password that Mr. Ross had told them. "Friend with Friends". The colored man recognized this password. Hastily, the man instructed the slaves to hop into the wagon, and hide under the canvas. As they were about to leave, the slave hunters from before had come back down the road. They ordered the driver to step aside so they could search the wagon for the four runaway slaves. Julilly and the others trembled with fear as they listened to this conversation. If they were found, then their escape to freedom would be over, but the driver would not let this happen. He insisted that there was nothing in his wagon but hay. One of the slave hunters pulled out the canvas from a corner of the wagon and saw hay. He did not notice Lester's head, which was about an inch away from his sight. Satisfied, the slave hunters rode on forth.
The journey in the wagon was very uncomfortable. The sound of tree branches irritated their ears and heat under the canvas built up and made them itchy. They were too scared to move a muscle. The sun rose from the east, then finally the wagon stopped. They climbed out and found themselves parked beside an abandoned barn. The driver of the wagon led them to the barn and ordered them to hide for a while. He gave them some food, and a compass. He advised them to follow the mountains north up to Lexington and from they're to Ohio, to the house of Levi Coffin, the president of the Underground Railroad. The kind man left, wishing them a safe journey. Overjoyed, the four of them thanked him and enjoyed the warmth inside the barn. After a while, Lester and Adam decided to hunt for more food in the upcoming journey. They waded off, leaving the girls behind. Unfortunately, the slave hunters from before had tracked them. Julilly heard barking and screaming outside the barn near the stream. She knew that Adam and Lester were caught and there was nothing she could do to help them. Liza grabbed the pile of food and some belongings and called out for Julilly who stood crying over the window. Hoping that Lester and Adam would break free from the clutches of the evil men, Julilly and Liza ran deep inside the forest of trees.
It wasn't until night fell over them that Julilly and Liza decided that it was safe to head out and begin their new journey without their fallen companions. The climbed up mountain after mountain and frequently checked the compass to make sure they were on the right path. They stopped briefly beside streams to drink and when the sun rose, they slept in a cave that they had reached. Dawn came, and the girls finally woke up. They ate what little food they had but were still hungry. Below the mountain was a town. They decided that they would climb down there and buy food from the white folk. This was a very risky plan, but they had no choice. They would either starve to death or be caught and sent back to the Riley Plantation. At night they climbed down and snuck into an alley. Some meters in front of the alley were a farmhouse. Julilly knocked on the door of the house and out came an old lady carrying a pistol. Politely, Julilly asked if she could buy some food. Surprised at the money in Julilly's hand the old lady shouted very loudly that she was stealing money. Then she threatened her, saying that she would shoot if Julilly didn't get off her property. They ran away from that place, but they didn't give up. Fortunately, the second house they approached was a farmhouse full of cows. The farmer saw them walk into the field. He asked them if they were slaves. Then he instructed to follow him. Bewildered the two girls did as they were told. He led them into a small village. Mennonites had settled there. Because they were Christian, they did not believe in slavery. For Julilly and Liza, this was like a piece of Canada. The Mennonites fed them, gave them food, cleaned them with warm water and allowed them to sleep until dawn. Thanking them and saying their last farewells Julilly and Liza left with clean clothes and a sac full of food. Happily, they started back up the mountains. Watching the sky, Julilly worried about the dark clouds and very soon, the clouds turned into a storm. Julilly and Liza found shelter under a tree and waited for the storm to end.
A while later, the wind and the rain stopped, then, out came the sun. The storm had totally erased any traces of their feet. Deciding that it would be best to travel by day, they moved on. Their feet kept carrying them north for another day. They reached another field of corn and waited for some one to appear near the road, which was right in front of them. They ate what the Mennonites had given them while hiding in the field of corn. A colored old man showed up, on the road, sitting in his wagon. Julilly quickly hopped out of the field of corn and asked the old man where they were. The old man Jumped a little, Julilly had startled him. "Lexington Kentucky" was his answer. Then he asked if she was a runaway slaves, and without waiting for an answer he pulled out a loaf of bread from a nearby sac in his wagon and handed it to her, then advised her to hide in the bushes until night, then follow the railroad tracks up to Covington, where a man named Jeb lived. Julilly did as he asked. She crawled back to where Liza was. Another man came riding down the road and whipped the old man for stopping at work. Sobbing, Julilly and Liza looked at the bread they had received and concluded that it was his meal for the day. When night came Julilly and Liza headed for the railroad tracks and followed them up north. They came to yet another forest of trees and decided that it would be best to wait here for the day. Moments later they heard the barking of a dog and a colored man come by. Afraid, they climbed up a tree. Julilly shouted from afar and asked the man if he knew where Jeb lived. The man told them to head north up to a river and his house would be near the bank. Trusting his words they came to the house and were greeted by Jeb Brown. They ate in his house and found out that Lester and dam had also come this way and had left just a week ago. Thankful that they were safe, Julilly and Liza slept away on the warm comfy floor.
Julilly, Liza, Lester and Adam encounter many slave hunters who try to stop them and others who help them. Every step they took from Mississippi to all the way to Covington in Kentucky got them closer to Canada. After the separation, Julilly and Liza traveled by themselves. The two of them met the Mennonites who gave them food and let them stay in their cabins. Crossing the Appellation Mountains, Julilly and Liza met an old man who tells them to travel at night and follow the tracks north to Jeb Brown's house. There they meet Ella, Jeb's wife, who treat them like guests and give them places to stay and sleep. After that Jeb uses his boat to get them across the river to another wagon driver who takes them to Levi Coffin, the president of the underground railway. This story reminds of me of a comic book that I read in my class. It was called "Maus". Which was about the Holocaust. It was about Jews who wanted to escape from the Nazi death camps. Which is a lot like Julilly's situation because she wanted to escape slavery. Many terrible things happened to Jews just as the slaves in the Riley's Plantation. Julilly and her friends escaped to Canada, and so did the, Jews who escaped from Germany when the war began. Some of them did survive all those situations, just as Julilly and Vladek had.
===================Bibliography: "Underground to Canada" by Barbara Smucker, 2007, pp 420-534.