Lisa Walter (A friend of Walter’s)
Fannie (A mother to Walter)
Mary (A wife to Master)
Ernest (A father to Walter)
Granny (The oldest plantation servant)
Man #I (Abolitionist)
Man #II (Abolitionist)
It was not until the 1850’s and ‘60s that the renowned Underground Railroad got to its heights. Such is a time when slaves originating from Africa in the United States formed means of escape. They used a network of safe houses and secret routes to Free states. However, they could not do so on their own. They got help from abolitionists known to be sympathetic to them and their cause. In this story, we focus on Walter and his family. The story narrates how Walter and the family decided to abolish plantation life for a free and better one.
It is by the riverside where Walter and his friends are playing. They are chasing each other. All of a sudden, they hear a shout. Looking to see who it was, it is a man and the Overseer heading their way. Walter then grabs Lisa’s hand and they decide to run in an opposite direction to the intruders. The other children scatter.
(In the kitchen)
Walter: (He is rushing through the kitchen’s back door) Mother! Mother!
(Every servant in the vicinity stops what he or she is doing. They all freeze from the shout)
Fannie: (A bit startled) Hush Walter! (Wrapping him in her bosom) Why the ruckus?
Walter: Mother… I was by the riverside playing with Joseph, Lisa and other children when a man and the overseer came along and dragged them off. Lisa and I got scared. They were going to grab us too.
Fannie: (Looking at the other servants around) Where’s Lisa?
Walter: We split at the big Oak. She went searching for her mother.
Fannie: Worry not my child; nobody will bother you in here. Mama’s got you. You have the freedom to stay as long you want.
Walter: (Nodding his head, he finds a stool and sits at the kitchen’s corner)
Fannie: (Waving at one of the servants to catch her attention) Girl…Please hand that boy over there a piece of leftover bread.
(The servant rushes off to get Walter the piece of bread)
Walter: (Sits quietly and peacefully to consume his water and piece of bread)
Walter and a couple of his friends are peeping through a small wooden window eavesdropping on a meeting. In the meeting are a few field servants. John and Ernest (A father to Walter’s) are among the servants. They are all talking in low voices.
John: Hush everyone! (Holding up his arm to silence everyone) Let us all listen to what Ernest has to say. (He looks at Ernest and then nods at him to proceed)
Ernest: Thank you John. Everybody…I have some news to put across. One of the traders came by the house today. He told me that he had heard about some black and white folks alike helping slaves find their way to the free nation.
(Suddenly, loud whispers erupt)
(John stomps his foot)
(Slowly, the whispers die)
John: Please continue, Ernest.
Ernest: I have not gotten all the details yet, but I think it sound legitimate. All the same, that is not the first time I had about the same. There is a time I heard Master James and Master Wyatt conversing about some slaves going missing. They also talked about certain individuals helping servants get to the free country.
(Suddenly, a certain servant rushes through the door)
Servant: James and the mistress are heading this way!
(All the servants quietly and quickly leave the cabin before being noticed)
(John and Ernest and remain after the rest of the servant have left. They then make their way to the door to watch)
(Walter and his friends; while still on the hide, peek out from the back of the barrel)
(Master James alongside his wife are coming around the bend on their horsebacks)
Master James: Ernest boy, will you come over here!
(Ernest goes forth until he gets close enough to Master James’ horse)
Master James: A neighbor reported to me that some of his servants vanished some time ago. He actually said they went amiss. I am aware that many servants look to you for direction in the fields. Have you seen or heard anything about these missing individuals?
Ernest: No sir. I have not heard from or seen any of the missing servants.
Master James: (Nodding his head) Well, I need you to keep a low ear. Report to me when you hear anything of the kind; Understood?
(Ernest then nods the head as a sign of agreement)
(Walter and his friends are whispering about what they just heard from behind the barrel)
(Granny then hobbling from the corner and goes over to John)
Granny: Ernest that man was fishing; right?
Ernest: Yes Granny.
Granny: Please be very careful when asking them personal questions. Also, no big meetings because the moment you people decide to bundle together, you will draw attention. Be discreet and make sure you take care while talking around children. (She talks while looking pointedly at barrel where Walter alongside his friends are still peeking)
Ernest: Walter! Go on to your mother, now!
(The children rush off)
(Ernest then turns to John and Granny)
Ernest: When I hear of anything, I will let you all aware. I will also find a way of setting up another meeting.
(Ernest then walks off to the field)
Lisa and Walter’s family share a cabin. Everyone is fast asleep when a sharp knock sounds on their door. Ernest stirs and gets up to respond to the call. John stands at the door with urgent news.
John: For every question that we have been asking, there is someone here to see you.
(Ernest then shuts the door and follows John)
Narrator: A small group of servants is gathered by the cabin opposite to the big house. John and Ernest then gets over to the group. Standing in the shadows is a skinny white couple. Alongside the couple is a huge black man. They quickly introduce themselves to the gathered servants. They were Ruth and Ezra Lincoln and were sympathetic to the servants’ plight within the Southern states. They form part of a group that was helping African slaves cross over to the Northern areas to live as free women and men.
Ernest: When do you plan to move out again?
Ezra: In a week’s time. There is no reason for waiting any longer. There are servants from a nearby plantation that ran off. Since then, there have been hunting parties all around looking for them. It would be risky if we stuck around then.
Ernest: Okay. I will have to round up a few people that will not be missed right away. Where will the meeting point be?
Narrator: Ezra then told Ernest where to lead the get-away servants. They then offered their goodbyes in a quick manner before disappearing into the darkness.
John: Ernest… We have a long day tomorrow. We will begin with rounding up some of the children and their mothers. They are the ones who will not be easily noticed. We will then get some young men to lead them to the meeting point. However, we will not tell them until we start heading out.
(Ernest then nods his head before saying goodnight and returning to the cabin)
Fannie, Walter, and a few other servants are under some hay hiding in a wagon’s back. The wagon driver comes up to a small bridge and meets a hunting party. The party is on the lookout for slaves.
Leader (Hunting Party): Hey there, driver!
Wagon Driver: Is there anything I can do for you sir?
Leader (Hunting Party): What do you have in that wagon?
Wagon Driver: I just have some hay to be delivered to the Moore plantation; on the other side of the bridge.
(The Leader rides around to back of wagon)
Wagon Driver: Is something wrong?
Leader (Hunting Party): We are on the lookout for some runaway slaves. We heard that they might try to come through these parts. (Leaning across the wagon’s back and presses down on the hay)
Wagon Driver: Well uh… I did not see any runaway slaves.
Leader (Hunting Party): Okay, you can get along with that hay and please keep an eye out.
Narrator: Now the remaining runaways are in a little safe house. Walter is fast asleep on his mother’s lap. Walter and Lisa’s fathers are among those who stayed behind to help in freeing other servants.
(Suddenly, a knock is heard on the little house’ door)
Fannie: (Whispering) Wake up Walter.
Walter: (Sitting up quickly) What is the matter mother?
Fannie: There is somebody at the door.
(A white woman gets into the room and knocks on the wood three times, then once, and then thrice again)
(Two men then follows in; one of them black while the other white)
Man #I: Evening everyone; pack all your belonging so that we can be on our way. There are wagons set up for the docks after which we shall take boats to the North.
(The two men walk out the house while the slaves follow in groups.)
(They then get into the wagons and lie flat then some empty crates are put over them follow by haystacks.)
(The wagons are loaded. The driver then climbs his seat and they set off)
Narrator: All the runaway slaves have had their way to the North safe and sound. They are now in a safe house in Florida.
Fannie: (Hugging her son) We are almost baby.
Walter: Is daddy coming mother?
Fannie: Your day will come as soon as he finishes helping those at Master James’ place. You know your dad is an honorable man. He is helping people get their freedom. He also helped us get this far. Let us pray he comes along baby.
Lisa and her mom are standing behind Fannie attentively listening to her speak with Walter. Lisa then wraps herself around her mother’s arms then cries quietly.
Walter: Mother, are we now free?
Fannie: Yes my child… we are free. Nobody will own us again. We are in the North and we will start a new life as free men and women. We have a long way to go, but we are free.
Walter: I can hardly wait for dad to come over.
Fannie: He will eventually come baby, do not panic.
(Families huddle together, people cry softly, happy that they made it. There is hope for a new better beginning)
(Scene fades out)
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