1852: Waterfall Tears of Hope

Mia Ford, writer


She sat there in the darkened cabin, huddled in a heavy wool quilt, her whole body convulsing from the cold. Just to think, twelve short hours ago they were on Master McGinnis’ tobacco farm and Uncle Lloyd was frantically instructing her to pack her clothes in a ragged scarf.

“This time he went too far, Lula May! He plannin’ on sellin’ her. He plannin’ on sellin’ my Sarah at the auction tomorrow! I ain’t stayin’ here one more night with that heartless Massa.”

“Uncle Lloyd, We can’t go. We all gonna get whipped if they capture us. Or worse! And besides, it’s the dead o’ winter! We gonna freeze before we even get atta Virginia!”

“The good Law’ will take of us Lula May. We need not worry none. He has been with us in this Egypt and will doggone get us out of it.”

Lula May looked down. It always made her uncomfortable when her Uncle talked about God and how he was always looking out for her and would someday make them free.

I don’t wanna go Uncle Lloyd. Where we gonna go?

“Hush now, baby girl. We gonna learn that a little later. Now wegonna catch a ride on the Underground tonight! Now wrap up real tight. We planning on setting out right afta Massa McGinnis goes t’ bed.”


It was around 8:30 in the morning when the half frozen party of three reached a “safe house,” as they call it, in the south of Maryland. It was a dimly lit cabin heavily encapsulated by hundred-year-old white oak trees. The place belonged to a man named Thomas Garret, the most renowned Underground Stationmaster in history, and his wife Elizabeth. There were six figures in the dwelling: Uncle Lloyd, Auntie Sarah, Mr. and Mrs. Garret, Lula May, and their mysterious conductor. Upon their arrival, Mrs. Garret had set some bread and butter with some warm fresh milk from their dairy cow.

As Lula May and her tired relatives scarfed down the meager meal laid before them, the conductor stood to her feet and strode across the room toward them. Reaching her soft, but strong arm out, she spoke,

“Dear friends, my name is Harriet Tubman. I was in the same shoes you are in now not but three years ago. Thank the Lord God Almighty that He has delivered me from my bondage. And I thank Him doubly for bringing yet another family out from Egypt. Lloyd, it is my honor to escort you and your family safely to a free land. God willing I plan on us starting our journey at twilight tonight.”

With a solemn face, Uncle Lloyd replied,“Ms. Tubman, I have no words to say that could express the deepest gratitude we have toward you and the sacrifice you have made to help us. Thank you.”

“Thank God.”


“It will roughly take two and a half weeks for us to reach The Niagara Falls from Baltimore,”Ms. Tubman said to Lula May.

Lula May had started to become comfortable and was more confident when talking to Ms. Tubman as the day progressed. The inquisitive young girl of sixteen was full of questions on the journey that lay ahead.

“Why do we have to go into Canada, Ms. Tubman? Why ain’t we just stayin’ in one o’ those free states up north? Ain’t it closer?

“Yes, it is closer but sadly, dear Lula, a law passed ’bout two years ago that says, ‘it is illegal for any citizen to assist an escaped slave and demanded that if an escaped slave was sighted, he or she should be apprehended and turned in to the authorities for deportation back to the “rightful” owner down south’” (Harriet).

Lula stared at Ms. Tubman, her dark hickory brown eyes wider than saucers.

“That’s ain’t gonna happen t’ us, is it? We ain’t gone get caught?”

“There have been times that I have got real close to gettin’ in trouble, but my dear Jesus has kept my cargo and me safe every trip I have taken. Every day I say a prayer that He would go with us the whole day and make us invisible to the people that plan harm against us.”

“Humph,”Lula May grunted with bitter discontent.

Ms. Tubman had been speaking of how Jesus was always with her and kept her safe from harm all afternoon, but Lula didn’t want to hear anything about it. Ever since she was born, Lula May had grown up with guardians who loved Jesus. Her Mama and Papa would repeat a psalm every morning to her that said, “You are my hiding place; you will protect my from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (New International Version, Psalm 32:7)

Then one night, when Lula was around five years old, Mama and Papa didn’t come home from the tobacco field. Scared out of her wits, Lula May started to hear faint screams and shouts from the other slaves about someone getting beaten. After that it was all a blur. She remembered someone grabbing her and running her all the way to a plantation a few miles away where her Uncle and Auntie worked.

“Baby, Your gonna live with us now,”Auntie Sarah said whilst trying to hold back the inevitable tear stream down her face.

Lula May screamed, “Where is my Mama? Where is Papa?”

Now not able to control it, tears freely escaped from Auntie Sarah’s face as she said, “They’re gone honey. I’m so sorry. We’re gonna take care of you now.”

Lula May eventually learned that both of her parents had lost their lives that day from a harsh beating administered by the Forman of the plantation. After that she swore to never to trust anyone to protect her again, except herself.


A bone-chilling week had gone by. They had walked over one hundred miles in a week. Ms. Tubman had so far safely navigated them closer to Canada through the countryside of eastern Maryland and up into Pennsylvania. Twice they had stayed at sympathetic safe houses. The rest of the time they had to brave the winter nights under bridges and in eerie forests.

To distract from the pain she felt from the biting cold and the searing blisters she had on her feet, Lula May had been receiving reading lessons from Ms. Tubman every morning by the tiny fire they would start to keep semi warm and still not be seen by passersby. Harriet had given Lula May a book with the title,Uncle Toms Cabin.

“It just came out this March,” Ms. Tubman announced. “But be careful Lula May. Don’t ever read this in public because is illegal for an African American to have a copy of this book.”

“Yes Ma’am. I”ll be careful.”

Lula May was quite taken with the book as she discovered that she was very similar to the main character Eliza, a slave that had run away from her Master and was escaping to Canada. That first week Ms. Tubman helped her along to the point in the book where Tom has saved the little girl, Eva, and they start talking about their Christian faith.

Whenever Tom and Eva would start talking about God, Lula May would hand the book to  Ms. Tubman and say,

“You can read the book fo’ a while Ms. Tubman, my eyes are tired.”

As Harriet read Lula May would stop listening until the mumbo-jumbo had ceased.


Another week went by and Lula May, Uncle Lloyd, Auntie Sarah, and Ms. Tubman trekked  on. They now only had eighty miles to go to get to the border of Canada. since there was nothing else to do than to walk or read, Lula had speedily progressed to the end of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By the end of Chapter forty in the book, Lula May could not help but start bawling. Uncle Tom was dying because of a beating. Every time, Master Legree whipped Tom, she saw her Mama and Papa getting whipped. A lump rose in her throat when she read that Tom had died. It was just like her own parents.

“How could Uncle Tom have so much forgiveness?,” Lula May asked Ms. Tubman as waterfalls of sadness ran down her face. How could he just forgive Mas’r Legree and wish to see him in heaven?

“Lemma ask this,” Mrs. Tubman said. “How could God have so much forgiveness? How could the Father of the universe forgive his children that are constantly rejecting him? What greater forgiveness is there that the celestial being who made the universe forgiving a whole planet than a mere mortal forgiving another imperfect person who has wronged them?

“Mrs. Tubman, I feel like there is not hope for me. Even though we going to a free land I still feel like Imma prisoner. I wanna be set free Mrs. Tubman. I wanna be able to forgive my Mas’r just like Tom did. I wanna change people’s thoughts about us folks just like Harriet Beecher Stowe did.”

“You can be set free Lula May. All you have to do is ask God to free you from the bondage of your soul.”

Right then, Lula May noticed she hadn’t cringed or looked away when Mrs. Tubman had said the word God. Instead she smiled and said, “Mrs. Tubman will you pray with me?”


Lula May went on to be one of the most influential women in the abolition. She eventually became a writer just like Harriet Beecher Stowe and wrote articles for an abolitionist newspaper during the civil war. She goal was to make people uncomfortable. To write articles that would evoke a need and an urgency for change: A world view that was free and equal for all people.

Lula May never gave up on God. She did often struggle with the loss of her parents, but when the war was over, she took a trip down to her old plantation and forgave the man who had killed both her parents. Harriet Tubman was a great mentor in Lula Mays life. Lula May stayed in touch with Mz. Tubman until her death in 1913. One quote from this amazing lady that influenced The articles that Lula May wrote throughout her entire career was, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Works Cited

“Harriet Tubman Timeline.”Harriet Tubman Timeline. n.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Psa. 3:10. 1984.                     Print. 6 Apr. 2017.


Clavin, Matthew. “Tubman, Harriet.”World Book Advanced. 2017. Web. 6 Apr.2017.

Clinton, Catherine. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom. Boston, MA: Back Bay, 2005. Print. 6 Apr. 2017.

Harriet Tubman.” DISCovering Multicultural America: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans.”Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context. 6 Apr.                     2017.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Toms Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. Boston: John P. Jewett &            Co., 1852. Apr. 6 2017.