We’d started on our way again, in spite of it being daylight. It was early morning, with the rising sun just as freshly awakened as we were. I was awake and worrying about our plan so as not to worry about little Sal and Miss Mary. Anna had agreed that there was no point in waiting, since we were only about a day’s ride to our next station. Still, I fretted, though I tried not to let it show.
I did not want my companion troubled by my inconstant humors. That turned out to be a good thing, it would seem.
“Stop!” Her urgent whisper had sent pins and needles from my belly up through my arms.
“Get your head down, quick!”
Anna had grabbed the reins out of my hands and led all of us over to a large fallen tree
before I even knew she was beside me. Our horses must have been well trained, for they followed her tightly together with their heads down, so that I could hardly move at all. I flattened my body along old Mary’s neck, feeling as if I might fall off any moment. Then Anna did a thing I had never even heard of.
“Just hold right on, and be still, like a rock.”
She clucked her tongue and patted both horses heads. To my utter surprise, we four, like the Children of Israel, fell to the ground as one man. Even more amazingly, we did so in complete silence. The sounds of a few birds, preparing for the long winter ahead, and a light breeze rustling the fallen leaves of a few trees also preparing to brave the coming cold were all that my ears could tell me. I started to raise my head to look around, but felt the lightest touch of Anna’s hand upon my arm, warning me not to move.
Then I heard them.
Voices, moving through the woods, only just coming within my hearing. Yet my sweet
Anna had heard them well before now, and acted with steadier nerve than many a man. How did she do that?
Then came another sound which I heard at a distance, but well enough to bring the taste of
bile to my throat.
A dog had barked.
I began to pray, as the smell of my own sweat hit me, mingled with the smell of horse and
pine needles. My face was buried between the necks of our two horses, who had somehow
managed to lay themselves down with us still mounted upon them. Not if I lived a hundred years and finally got to see a circus perform did I ever expect to see something like that. I gave thanks for this minor miracle, and asked the Almighty for the grace to let us remain unseen and unheard by those who sought our return to bondage. I also prayed for forgiveness. I would need it, if I got to my sewing basket before those patrollers got to me.
“Stay here, and don’t move.”
What was she up to, now? I felt Anna move, silent as the grave, from off of her horse,
gliding low across the ground over to a large bush that might have had some berries on it, a few weeks ago, and scatter something, then glide back to our hiding place, almost in the blink of an eye, despite the distance she had covered. The dog barked again, closer this time, and I heard shouts, as if several men were following.
As the racket grew louder, Anna looked both ways, as if about to cross a street in the Federal City,
“Hold on tight, old Mary won’t let you fall.”
Before I had time to ponder those words, she had clucked her tongue and patted both horses heads again. I felt both of our mounts surging up into the air, and wrapped my fingers in old Mary’s mane as my feet found the stirrups. With another click of her tongue, we both began to walk backwards! My stomach roiled as the shouts and barking grew closer, and we were finally able to see our pursuers. The were indeed slave patrollers, and most likely looking specifically for us.
Then, I saw another sight which I shall never forget. A black bear, which I had somehow
utterly failed to notice, was sniffing at the bush Anna had just left. As the shouts became orders to stop, directed at us, and the barking became the baying of a hound which has cornered its quarry, the bear looked at them, and stood up. Growling.
As if this were exactly what Anna had been waiting for, she gave a sharp whistle, and the
ears of both our mounts perked up to points.
“Hold on!” Anna spurred her horse, and jerked to the left.
All I’d had time for was a glance her way, as old Mary surged forward, in time with her
companion, wheeling around so sharply that I only just managed to stay seated. I heard the sounds of a dog crying out in pain, a bear growling at the sky, and a gun shot.
I leaned over old Mary’s neck, flattening out with her as she and our friends beside us
stretched their necks. I clung to good old Mary’s mane for dear life, my legs wrapped around her flanks as my fingers clutched the hair of her mane, my face nearly buried in that hair whipping around mingled with mine. Over the noise of our hooves, I could hear the commotion behind us.
It sounded closer.
This is the continuation scene in my new series Ann&Anna. I hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.
I look forward to your thoughts.
1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.
2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.
Dear Readers, ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness, #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind?
Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure & #StopSmoking at least for CCOVID-19:
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
-we can learn from the past Stayed on Freedom’s Call for free,
by Teaching and Learning (Lesson Plans offline) in the present, to
We can Do Better: a Vision of a Better World to create a kinder future
Shira Destinie A. Jones, MPhil, MAT, BSCS
the year, 2021 CE = year 12021 HE
( 5 month GED lesson 16 of 67 plans…),
and Ranger M.’s Babylon 5 review posts, because story inspires learning…
Stayed on Freedom’s Call
includes two ‘imagination-rich’ walking tours, with songs, of Washington, DC. New interviews and research are woven into stories of old struggles shared by both the Jewish and African-American communities in the capital city.
Shared histories are explored from a new perspective of cultural parallels and parallel institution-building which brought the two communities together culturally and historically.
Please leave a review, if you can, on the GoodReads page.
Shira Destinie Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.