The Underground Railroad
Chapter 5It was the third week of her journey, and her food was running short, her clothes were all a mess, and she hadn’t had a bath since she left. She had stopped by lots safe houses, marked by a lit lantern in the window. There, she was given some water and a small bed in the basement.
After what felt like days of stumbling along, she finally came upon another safe house. Beatrice knocked on the door, and after a few minutes, a plump lady opened it.
“Oh my goodness,” the lady said, “You look exhausted, please come in.” Beatrice stepped into the house. She looked around and saw a table with a big bowl of warm soup. She looked at it longingly, but knew that is wasn’t for her. The safe house only provided protection, anything else was too risky. The lady walked over to the table, and Beatrice noticed that she had a small limp in her left leg.
“My name is Susanna,” the lady said, “You look hungry, if you want the soup, go ahead and eat it.” Beatrice said a quick thank you, and then ate the soup up. While Beatrice ate, Susanna said encouragingly, “You will make it, there is only a few days left. Then you will be free, and you don’t have to worry about those slave owners anymore.”
A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. “I am not expecting anyone.” Susanna said, “You should go into the closet in the basement and hide just in case it is someone that is up to no good.” Beatrice threw the spoon into the bowl, picked up her sack, and flew down the stairs. She jumped into the closer and slammed the door shut.
Beatrice’s heart was pounding, who could it be? Could it be David looking for her? Then she heard loud banging, and a door being opened. Then a deep voice called out, “Where is she? I followed her trail of footprints in the snow, I know she is in here!”
Just hearing that voice made Beatrice want to scream. The only thought that could keep her from rushing out of the closet and landing a blow on his face was that if she did that, there would be no possible way for her to escape. For up there, yelling at her to come out was none other than Richard himself.
“I was sent by my father to find her, and find her I shall, even if I have to tear down this house brick by brick.”
After that, Beatrice lost all hope of ever escaping. She could hear Susanna protesting that she did not know what they were talking about, and that no one ever came to her house. She could hear Richard pushing over the table and chairs, bowls and cups falling onto the floor. Then, she heard the small creak of the basement door opening.
Beatrice froze, afraid to breathe. Hoping, wishing, and praying that Richard would not look inside the closet. Richard walked slowly around the room a few times, and then she heard him say out loud, “Well, if she won’t come out voluntarily, I guess I will just have to force her to come out.” With that, Richard walked up the stairs and slammed the basement door.
Beatrice relaxed a little, happy that Richard was gone. But then she stiffened again. What if he burned down the house, then there would be no way out. The only way was the front door, and he would be guarding that. Then she heard the basement door open again, and someone walking towards the closet.
Beatrice stopped breathing. What would he do to her? Would he kill her? Or even worse, bring her back to the David Plantation to torture her until she died? The handle on the closet turned. Beatrice shut her eyes.
“Hurry, he locked us in. There is a secret tunnel leading away from the house, and into the woods. You will have to go on by yourself from here, I can’t run in my condition.” Susanna said in an urgent tone as she pointed to her bad leg. Susanna pushed a big box out of the way, and there was a narrow tunnel. Then she turned to Beatrice, and pressed a loaf of bread into her hands. “Go!” Susanna yelled at Beatrice. Beatrice picked up her skirt and ran into the pitch black tunnel without looking back. She heard an ear piercing shriek, and then everything was silent.
Suddenly, she heard other footsteps inside the tunnel, and a voice yelling out, “I’ll get you Beatrice, just you wait!”
At hearing the voice, Beatrice ran even faster. After a few minutes of stumbling around in the dark tunnel, Beatrice saw a faint light up ahead. The exit! Beatrice thought excitedly. She ran to the exit and broke out into the woods.