Excerpts for Free at Last! : Stories and Songs of Emancipation


THE STORY OF HARRIET POSTLE

Harriet Postle shifts her weight from side to side in bed. It is hard finding a comfortable sleeping position when you are seven months pregnant. She reaches over to touch her

husband, when she hears a thundering noise outside.

"Postle, we know you’re in there! You’d better come out!"

Harriet knows who is yelling — the Ku Klux Klan men wearing masks, tall pointed caps, and long white robes.

Her oldest son wakes and ducks under the mattress. The baby wakes and starts to fuss. Her husband darts out of bed, loosens three floorboards, and jumps into the hiding place they prepared months ago. She replaces the planks. She steps into her skirt to cover her nightshirt, but she is so flustered she gets entangled in the material.

"Postle! Open up this door! You can’t hide from us!"

Harriet scoops up the baby and plops down in a chair over the hiding place. She puts her hands over the baby’s ears, trying to block out the furious banging.

The door crashes in. Four men in dusty boots point pistols at the mattress, under which her son cowers.

"Leave my boy alone!" she shouts.

One man jerks her chair out from under her.

She falls to the floor, hugging her baby. The man stomps his foot on her huge stomach. "Where is your husband?"

"He’s not here!"

He drops a rope shaped like a noose over her neck. "Tell me where he is." Her son is screaming and sobbing at the same time. The baby wails. The man presses harder on her stomach. "Where is he?"

She does not answer. She will not betray her husband.

It seems like a miracle but the men finally leave. Her husband comes out of hiding. She cradles her children in her arms, but she cannot stop their crying.

----------------------