This month, my prompt came from Just A Little Nutty , but not from Meg herself; nope, this prompt came from Meg's daughter, who is guest posting on her mama's blog and participating in this month's Swap! How awesome is that?? She sent in this super cool prompt:
**What if, in the basement of your house, you discovered a secret passageway?**
So here goes:
"Laundry is stupid. I hate doing stupid laundry", I muttered to myself as I hauled yet another load of dirty clothes down the basement stairs to the washing machine. "No really kids, go ahead and roll around in the dirt in your new shirt, and slide in the grass in those white shorts. I don't mind, I loooove to scrub the stains out of every outfit you own. It's what I live for."
A couple of stairs down I stepped on one of the dog's squeaky toys, lost my balance, and dropped the laundry basket. It thunked end over end down the stair case and landed with a thud against the wall at the bottom. "See??? Stupid Laundry!!" I yelled at the run away clothing, as I stomped down the rest of the stairs. I started refilling the laundry basket, rather forcefully. As I walked a few feet away to pick up a sock ball that had made a break for freedom, I noticed that the wall it had rolled up against was a little bit sunken in. "What in the world?" I asked myself, wondering if termites could chew through cement.
I kicked gently at the wall, and it started to give way. The more I kicked, more and more of the wall crumbled. After several minutes, there was an opening about 5 feet wide, and 5 feet high. I whipped out my cell phone and turned on my flash light app (gotta love those free iphone apps). Peering inside, I realized with a start that it was not just a hole in the wall, but a tunnel.
I had heard that the Underground Railroad had stops in this area. I even knew of someone who lived in a house 3 blocks away that had a big plaque out front announcing that it had been a refuge for runaway slaves. Could this tunnel be a part of that history? In my house?
Being the brave person that I am,
I grabbed a broom and stuck it as far into the tunnel as I could I ducked down and crept a few steps into the tunnel. I shone my flashlight around and took in the cobwebs, the dirt floor, and the smell of musty earth. Looking back over my shoulder at my 21st century basement, I crept forward while moving back in time.
I felt a rush of excitement, wonder, and yes some fear, as I moved steadily down the tunnel, 20, 50, 75 feet. How long was this thing, anyway?
My foot kicked something solid. "What the --?" I looked down. Just a rock. But, wait; something was sticking out from under the rock. Carefully I shone my light downward, trying to figure out what the yellowish square was.
I moved the rock aside and gingerly picked up the scrap of paper. I blew the dirt off of it, being careful not to ruin this relic that was 175 years old. By the glow of the flashlight I began to read what I soon realized was an ad:
From the subscriber, residing in Granville County, N.C.
on the 30th day of August last, a negro man by the
name of Jordan, and his wife Jane.
Jordan is a common size fellow, light black, large full eyes,
has a down look when spoken to, the 4th finger on his
right hand has grown crooked, by means of a cut.
He carried with him wearing apparel and bed clothes,
among them is a suit of dark yarn jeans homespun cloth.
He wore off a pair of lined and bound right and left shoes,
nearly new. The woman is a little under common size, and is
in a pregnant state. She carried with her a purple
circassian dress, a white dress, a dark grounded calico dress,
and some homemade clothes. I believe the said negroes
were seduced off by some infamous character, and they
will attempt to pass for free negroes.
I will give ten dollars for their delivery or confinement
in jail, in Granville or Wake, or twenty dollars, if out of
said counties, and thirty dollars for the detection and conviction
of any white person who has assisted them in getting off.
Sept. 10, 1838
I stood stunned, unmoving for a moment, not quite believing what I was reading. An actual newspaper ad, from 1838, which someone had posted in search of his runaway slaves. Had these two slaves set out from North Carolina, heading north, following the Underground Railroad trying to reach freedom? And was it possible that they traveled this tunnel, under MY house, leaving behind a clipping with their names in it, to let others know they had been there? No, it couldn't be. But here was the ad, in my hand, buried in the wall for almost two centuries.
Jordan and Jane. Husband and wife. Fleeing for their lives. And Jane, pregnant! My mother heart immediately went out to this woman, carrying a child within her, running for her life and that of her unborn baby. And Jordan, the responsibility he must have felt; not only trying to free himself, but his young family as well. Town to town, state to state, running; through all kinds of weather with clothing their only possessions, not knowing when or if they would eat; fear threatening to suffocate them around every corner.
Did they make it? Make it to freedom? Or were they caught, possibly jailed, and sent back to unspeakable horrors?
I had to know. These people had traveled through my home. Someone here had helped them. Had risked their very life to help others to safety. They were part of my home, of my history, of me.
I knew I needed to go on, farther down the tunnel, to see what else I could discover. To see what I could learn of Jordan and Jane.
Carefully clutching the newspaper clipping, I crept forward. Down and around a slight corner, sliding on the crumbling dirt, and then, there it was....
I hope you enjoyed my Secret Subject Swap post! Please go on over and check out all the other participants, you don't want to miss a single one!
Baking In A Tornado
com Dawn’s Disaster
Crazy As Normal
blogspot.com/ A Working Mom’s “Whoas”
Indian American Mom
Home on Deranged
com/ Just a Little Nutty (Guest Post)