(originally broadcast July 4, 1948)
|[In his dramatization of the activities of Harriet Tubman (1821-1913), Richard Durham made clear early—it was the third Destination Freedom program—that women were an integral part of the black experience and that women would be major actors in his interpretation of the historic struggle. Durham offered Tubman as a modern Moses, personally escaping slavery in 1849 only to spend the next decade slipping in and out of the South to organize and guide others northward to freedom. In terms of their response to slavery, it is interesting to contrast Tubman's nonviolent response with that of the rebel Denmark Vesey. Likewise interesting is Durham's understanding that in the historical scheme black women had been equal partners with black men and that the struggle for social justice could only be achieved in awareness of that balance.]|
VOICE: (Slight echo, longing, searching, lonesome) Oh H-a-r-r-i-e-t!
(MUSIC: Imitate intonations, "Oh Harriet.")
VOICE II: (Further back, deeper) Oh Har-riet!
VOICE III: (Male) Oh H-a-r-r-i-e-t!
VOICES: (Pile on each other. All searching) Oh Harriet! Oh Harriet! Oh Harriet! Oh Harriet! (Etc. Establish well; then fade off very, very slowly as Tubman talks)
(MUSIC: Blend with voices; then creep out)
HARRIET: (On cue. Listening, tense, fifty, with depth, warmth, and slight touch of the mystic) I'm Harriet Tubman. I lived in the shadows out of sight of the light of liberty. I heard their voices call out to me in the dark. (Sneak out last voice about here) They were the voices of slaves. They were the voices of my people. When I heard them, the earth moved under me. Rockets burst in my head. They were the voices of God! (Quieter) I—was Moses.
SINGER: (On cue) Go down, Moses.
Way down in Egypt land.
Tell ole Pharaoh
To let my people go. (Hum under.)
ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom!
The Chicago Defender and station WMAQ bring you Destination Freedom, a special radio series dramatizing the great democratic traditions of the Negro people, interwoven in the pageant of history and a part of America's own Destination Freedom!
SINGER: (Up a bit; then fade out slow)
ANNOUNCER: Today, Destination Freedom dramatizes the story of one of the most remarkable women in world history. It is the story of Harriet Tubman, an American Moses, the liberator of three hundred slaves, the fearless pilot of the pre-Civil War underground railway. Today we tell of the early life of Harriet Tubman, the chapter entitled "Railway to Freedom."
SINGER: Tell ole Pharaoh
To let my (fade) people go.
HARRIET: (Awe) The voices were still that day on a plantation in Maryland where I grew wild like a weed, one of eleven children, one of a dozen slaves. Everything was still, for it seemed I was deaf, and the world was deaf. Then the world and I woke up one day when I heard a slave sing a song. We were husking corn. (Sing) I knew the song—but there was something in the way he sang it. I stopped husking corn and listened.
(SOUND: Corn husking and then out)
SOL: (Low, close) Deep river,
My home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord.
I want to cross over into campground.
HARRIET: (Sixteen) I looked up at him and said, (before he finishes) Sol?
SOL: (Stop) Uh?
HARRIET: (Curious) What were you singing?
SOL: (Laugh. Pause) Oh, just a little ol' song.
HARRIET: What does it mean, Sol?
SOL: (Pleased) You're nigh old as I am. Old enough to know.
HARRIET: Know what?
SOL: To know the ways of the underground, Harriet. To know there's a train waiting, tonight, and how to tell those who wanna come aboard, to come aboard.
HARRIET: (Wide-eyed) How do you know all that?
BUYER: (Filter. Grunts disgust) Huh! She looks more dead than alive. Why should I buy a dying girl? (Fade) She looks more dead than alive.
BODIAS: (Filter. More persistent) You next. How much do you bid?
SECOND BUYER: (Filter) How did that deep scar get on her head? I buy live slaves, not dead ones! (Fade) Is she dead or alive?
BODIAS: (Filter. Impatient) Oh course she's alive! Next! How much am I bid?
THIRD BUYER: (Filter, Curious) She lies there staring like she's in another world. Like she's sleeping with her eyes open. (Fade slow) I bid nothing. Nothing.
BODIAS: (Filter. Irritated) Come now, someone's got to take her! How much am I
bid? How much am I bid?
BUYERS: (Ad-lib answers: Not a cent. I don't buy dead slaves, no sir! etc. Fade out slow)
(MUSIC: Slip "Deep River" down under this. Slip out)
HARRIET: I went on dreaming and dreaming. Inside my head the rockets kept bursting. I dreamed of a land far away, and when I tried to get up to go, I'd hear my mother say
MOTHER: (Filter. As before) Harriet, lie back. Tossing like that, you'll throw yourself out of bed, child. Lie back. (Fade) Lie back.
HARRIET: I sank back into the dark river. I lay there floating a long, long time before I heard her say
MOTHER: (Joy) Now, stand up, Harriet! (Fond) There! Look, you're standing again.
MOTHER: (Prayerful) It's a miracle. Wait 'til I tell your brothers. We've nursed you back to life! Nobody believed you would live!
HARRIET: How long was I sick?
MOTHER: Two seasons.
HARRIET: Two seasons just lying here?
MOTHER: Oh, you'd sleep sometimes. And you'd talk out loud sometimes. Like you were dreaming. You'd talk about the master. Don't you remember?
HARRIET: (Trying to recall) Some things. I remember some dreams. (Hazy) I remember dreaming about Nat Turner
MOTHER: (Guarded) Don't speak his name out loud—
HARRIET: (Goes on) I dreamed I heard Nat Turner call to me
MOTHER: Nonsense! He's been hanged and buried ten years, girl. Get him and his deeds out of your mind.
(MUSIC: Mystic, trancelike)
HARRIET: (Cut in. Entranced) He called me and told me how he burned the plantations and made an army of slaves to fight. And he called me and said, Harriet, do what I did. And I said, I can't do what men do! I can't lead an army! Then he said, you can do more. You can lead an army across the River Jordan.
MOTHER: (Unnerved) If that's all you dreamed—keep quiet!
HARRIET: That was not all.
MOTHER: Didn't you dream of prayer? Didn't you dream good things?
HARRIET: (Slow) Yes, I did dream once I was praying. I was praying for the master and all the masters. They were looking down at me, to see if I was worth buying
MOTHER: That was no dream. They were here.
HARRIET: (Goes on) I dreamed I prayed to the Lord for them. I prayed to the Lord to change their hearts, but He would not. Then I said, Lord if you won't change them, kill them!
(SOUND: Door thrown open)
BODIAS: (Cut in with door. Bitter, heavy) Well! Who talks of killing on my ground? Is this another plot?
MOTHER: (Soft) It's just Harriet's first day out of bed, Master Bodias. She can stand up now.
BODIAS: (Appraisal) So, this is the little hero who tried to help Sol escape. Now Sol will work his life out in the fields, where you'll go
MOTHER: (Pleads) The child is weak, master.
BODIAS: (Cut in) The child is worthless! Scrawny, sickly. She's been a burden to me, but now she'll earn her share. (Lower) And whatever is in that addled head of yours, girl, get it out. There'll be no revolts, no escapes. Yesterday we caught and hung two agents of the underground railroad. They say the blow has knocked out your brain, but if you've got sense left, you'll obey laws. You'll be satisfied. You'll work in the field.
MOTHER: (Cut in) No—please—she's too weak to work in the fields. Please.
BODIAS: Then she's too weak to eat
MOTHER: (Cut in) Please—
HARRIET: (Cut in sharp, hard and proud) Mother! Stand up! (Pause) The master is right. It's in the field where I should work.
BODIAS: (Puzzled) Perhaps you really are more half-witted than they say. You want the field?
HARRIET: (Quiet) I want to work where there'll be fresh air, and the smell of earth, and sunshine. I want to work where I'll grow strong. I'll take the fields.
(MUSIC: Slip in under and keep)
HARRIET: And I went into the fields. I was weak; I wanted to be strong. I plowed the grounds, dug the ditches. I drove oxen. I worked in the yards. I did a man's work. I kept my dreams wrapped around me in the sunshine, in the open air. Though some slaves still slipped off on the strange underground railroad, I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready until I lost my fears. I lost them when the master passed me and said—
BODIAS: (Pleased) Well, I see you've done your work well, Harriet.
HARRIET: Yes, I've worked.
BODIAS: Uh-h and I can see why you're stronger than anyone else in the county now. In fact, (idea) I think you're strong enough to be sold to the Georgia rice fields. (Slow fade) Yes, you should bring a right nice fee, don't you think so?
HARRIET: He didn't wait for my answer. But I thought—If I am strong enough to bring a fee, I am strong enough to be free. I thought of the things I'd heard. I thought of little Sol saying—
SOL: (Filter. Fade on) The Tolbert woman keeps track of the trains. (Fade) The Tolbert woman keeps track of the trains.
HARRIET: When night fell, I went to the cabin of my brothers, George and Louis. Fear was all around us. I whispered the plan to escape to them. They listened until one said—
GEORGE: (Shakes head) I don't trust your plan, Harriet. Patrols run day and night. Yesterday six men were branded. I'll not trust the plan until you prove it.
LOUIE: Who's going to guide us?
HARRIET: There's a poor woman named Tolbert.... She can give us money and help.
LOUIS: You see, George, let Harriet free us!
GEORGE: (Sigh) Very well. We'll meet you in the north woods whenever you say. But I don't like it. It's too risky. Too risky.
(MUSIC: In under)
HARRIET: I slipped away. I went across the valley to the house of poor white cobblers, the Tolberts. Mrs. Tolbert saw me coming and motioned me to stay in the yard. She went in her house and came out again with a letter in her hand. She stood still, listening for something behind her.
HARRIET: Then she spoke—
EARLINE: (Hurried) Here's some money. It's not much, but it's all I have. Take this letter to the next station. They'll help you from there.
HARRIET: (Low) How far is it?
EARLINE: It's near the border of a free state, Pennsylvania. It'll be a house with a cross on the door.
JED: (Off. Curious) Earline! Earline, who you talking to?
EARLINE: (Low) There he goes a callin' me. (Up) Nobody, Jed, nobody. Just looking at the stars, is all. (Hurried) It's my old man. He hates the slaves. They're the cause of us being poor, he says.
JED: (Back) Earline! You gettin' mixed up in that underground business again?
EARLINE: (Up) No, Jed, no. (Down) He's against the underground. I tell him that when some men have to give their work free, all'll have to work free.
JED: (Fade up a bit) Earline! Who you talking to?
EARLINE: (Hasty) I'm coming, Jed. I'm coming. (Low) Hurry now.
HARRIET: (Confused) How'll I go? How'll I know the way?
EARLINE: Just follow the North Star and the roads—
JED: (Fade up) Earline, Earline!
(MUSIC: Creep under and keep)
HARRIET: I went back to my brothers. I found them in the woods. My heart was pounding; a roar was building in my head. I talked to them of the trip, but they said—
GEORGE: Harriet, we've thought it over.
LOUIS: Tonight they're watching all the roads.
HARRIET: (Guarded) They always watch the roads—
GEORGE: But running against them like this is certain death.
HARRIET: (Cold) And what is slavery?
GEORGE: We'll take our chances. You know nothing of the North. You know nothing of the roads ahead. I'll not risk it with you.
HARRIET: (Pause) You mean that?
GEORGE: I mean it.
HARRIET: And you, little brother?
LOUIE: (Uncomfortable) Last night another slave was sent to the gallows. He had been betrayed by those he thought were friends. Your friends could be the same—I'll take my chances here.
HARRIET: You, too?
LOUIS: Why do you look at us like that, Harriet!
(MUSIC: Sting in under high)
HARRIET: (Pain) My head! It's just my head suddenly felt like I'd been struck again.
GEORGE: (This proves it) You see! The blow has never worn off, never will! You still have the aches, and you still slip off into a sleep. Stay here! Be sensible!
(MUSIC: Cut short and clean)
HARRIET: (Outcry) No! No, I won't stay here!
LOUIS: Why risk it now?
HARRIET: (Low, build) Because—there are two things I've got a right to—liberty or death. One or the other I mean to have. I shall fight for my liberty, and when the time comes for me to go—the Lord will let them kill me.
GEORGE: If you go, you'll go alone.
HARRIET: (Long pause) I'll go alone.
GEORGE: (Quiet) Then go your way. (Fade) Louis, come on, come on.
HARRIET: (Calls. Soft, pain) Brother—brother come back! Brother, don't leave me alone! You hear me? (Hurt) Brother! Brother!
(MUSIC: Sting and under)
HARRIET: The earth moved again. The rockets were off in my head again. I turned 'round and 'round. I thought of my mother, brothers, and sister in the row of cabins I could see from where I stood. Then I turned and looked up at the North Star. It was brighter than any star I'd ever seen. I walked toward it.
(MUSIC: Slip up brief, then fade down)
HARRIET: I made my way through the fields and forest, past villages and farms. Past patrols and guards, sleeping in the open, in barns and under haystacks. My eyes watched the North Star until I came down into a valley. Then I saw it. I saw a block of houses, and on one there was a cross. (Excited) I forgot the slave hunters and the patrols and broke into the open and ran toward it! Someone behind me shouted—
PATROL: (Back. Cut in.) Hey, you! Stop! Stop!
HARRIET: (Running) A patrolman. He had seen me!
PATROL: (Back) Stop or I'll shoot. Stop!
(SOUND: Running footsteps under)
HARRIET: I ran down in the valley toward the house. I heard shots and stumbled.
(SOUND: Shot and the ricochet of a bullet)
HARRIET: I got up and ran on until I lost sight of him! I reached the door
(SOUND: Footsteps running up to entrance)
HARRIET: Threw myself upon it and beat and beat against it!
(SOUND: Heavy pounding on door)
HARRIET: Let me in! Please, let me in!
(SOUND: Door opened suddenly)
HARRIET: (Surprise) The door opened, and I was inside. It seemed like a dream. I stretched out my hand, and a hand met mine. It was warm. Two strange faces looked into mine. One said—
HANNA: (Puritan. Steel and methodical) Levi, take her behind the door. The patrol is coming.
LEVI: You help the woman. Let me handle the patrol, Hanna.
HANNAH: They'll be suspicious of you. They're coming—
LEVI: (Anxiety) What will you tell them?
HANNA: (Calm) I'll tell them the truth. They know I'd never lie to them.
LEVI: (Cut in) Hanna, you can't let them take her back. Wait, woman.
(SOUND: Pounding on door off mike)
HANNA: I'll tell them the truth!
HANNA: (Proud) I live by my religion! They know that—(Fade a bit) I'll let them in and answer them!
(SOUND: Door opened)
HANNA: (Arch) Well, man, do you have to tear my door down?
PATROL: (Apologetic but eager) I'm sorry, Madame Gottman. A runaway slave came this way, trying to cross the state line, I reckon. I am only doing my duty.
HANNA: And what do you expect me to do?
PATROL: (Embarrassed) W-e-1-1, my men are searching the houses along here and
HANNA: (Anticipates) You want to search my house?
PATROL: (Hastily) Oh no, you're woman of God. You'll tell the truth. Have you seen a slave come this way?
HANNA: A slave?
PATROL: (Naturally) A slave.
HANNA: (Firm, with conviction) I've never seen a slave. You're at the wrong door.
PATROL: (Convinced) Thank you, Madam Gottman. (Fade) Thank you.
HARRIET: (Low, close) Then the thin, tall woman turned to her husband, an odd glow in her face and eyes, and he said—
LEVI: (Relief) You did it, Hanna! The Lord'll forgive those who lie to save a life.
HANNA: I did not lie!
LEVI: (Now, after all I heard you) But you told him
HANNA: (Deep, proud) I told the truth. He asked if I had seen a slave. The Lord says all men are brothers. There are those who work and those who live off the work of others, but men are free to be their own masters. In the eyes of God, there are no slaves. There are only men and women. I believe God (pause). Who do you believe, Levi?
(MUSIC: In and under)
HARRIET: (Soft) I believed I was in a new world. And when I was rested, my new friend said—
HANNA: (Smile) No, you're not in free territory yet. This is just the first station on the underground railroad. We take in escaped slaves, guide them across the line, further north.
HANNA: Our stations stretch like spider webs—south, north, east. Puritans, Quakers, Negroes run them. You won't be on free ground 'til you go up the hill through the woods, and cross the Pennsylvania line. From there it's easy. No high sheriffs to hunt you down. Go where you please (pause). Are you ready?
HARRIET: To cross that line? I've been ready a long time (pause). When night came, I slipped through the woods. I struck out towards the border. I walked through the woods until it came over me that—like in a dream—I had crossed the line! I had crossed the River Jordan. I was free!
(MUSIC: Steal in and under with a "Deep River" abstraction)
HARRIET: I stood and looked around me. (Unbelievable) I was free. I looked at my hands to see if I was the same. There was such a glory over everything. The suit came like gold through the trees. I felt like I was a part of the air and sky. I could go to Canada. I had left behind me the land I hated! Whips, chains, fears, overseers were all behind me. Ahead was a new, clear life. (Falters) Then somehow, I was lonely. I was free, but there was no one to welcome me. I remembered my home was with my brothers, sister, mother. And then—
(MUSIC: Sting in and keep high ethereal)
HARRIET: My head! The earth seemed to move under me. My head seemed to split apart. And I heard a voice calling me—
MOTHER: (Slight echo, off distant) Oh H-a-r-r-i-e-t!
VOICE I: (Atop) Oh Harriet!
HARRIET: I covered my ears! I ran ahead, but I could hear other voices.
VOICE II: (Echo) Oh Harriet!
VOICES: (Roll over each other with "Oh Harriet! Oh Harriet!" Up; then fade down, out)
(MUSIC: In with voices and out slow under)
HARRIET: (Weary) It was then I knew which way I had to go. I know why I wanted to be free. I knew where I wanted to go. I turned from the North Star. I turned back. I found my way again to the door with the cross on it. It opened before I knocked.
(SOUND: Door opened)
LEVI: (Calm) Well, welcome back, Harriet.
HANNA: (Fade on) Yes. Your supper is ready. It's on the table.
HARRIET: You expected me to come back?
LEVI: (Chuckles) Yes, don't look surprised, friend. We knew you'd come back.
HARRIET: But how? I didn't—
LEVI: (Kindly) Sit down. There. Now where did we leave off? Oh yes. We've been a way station for guiding escaped slaves about ten years now. Some pass this way once, and we never see them again. Some are satisfied to get their own freedom. Who can blame them? Tea?
(SOUND: Tea poured)
LEVI: It's hot. (Continues) Now and then one comes our way who's got the flame burning not just for his freedom, but for his brothers, sisters, friends. You burn that way.
HARRIET: How did you know?
LEVI: You were thinking what a great thing a new liberty is. And then—
LEVI: (Aside) Drink your tea, it's cooling. Then you felt empty inside. You were free, but when you thought of millions who were slaves, you said, what good is my being free when my brothers are slaves?
HARRIET: (Thoughtfully) Yes-I did.
LEVI: Then you felt you would fight until the last slave was freed. Slavery is war. And you would have no peace until the war against it is won. That's why you came back.
HARRIET: (Soft) How did you know I felt all these things?
LEVI: How do I know? Because I feel that way, my wife feels that way. Many men, white and black, feel that way. It's why we run the underground. Our part is to wait for slaves to escape—and to help them on.
HARRIET: (Slow) That's not the part I want—to play.
LEVI: What part do you want?
HARRIET: (Feeling) I want to go down and bring them out. I want to put them on the train and guide them. I want to be the conductor.
(MUSIC: In under)
HARRIET: And I went out to learn the ways of the underground. I met the abolitionists. I talked to old John Brown, to fiery Wendell Phillips, to fighting Fred Douglass, to the lion Lloyd Garrison, to the Quakers, the Puritans, and to the conductors and agents. And some said—
FARMER: You're as strong as a man, Miss Tubman, but, well it's not many women who go raiding the slave towns.
NEGRO: Lady, you wanna know who to trust when you hit the trail guiding slaves to freedom? I tell you, nobody who owns a slave. Trust the president? Shucks, he owns slaves too (fade).
ABOLITIONIST: I'll tell you how it is, Miss Tubman. The southland's like a fortress, a fortress with the guns turned inside against the people who live in it.
QUAKER: If you go back too much, Miss Tubman, you'll never get out again.
(MUSIC: Sting hard on cue)
HARRIET: And I worked winters for money to buy food and clothes for slaves and money to bribe guards and patrols. I worked the lumber mills in Canada all winter to make the money to go down into the fortress. One day when the boss counted out my season's pay, I thought I had enough to start—
LUMBER: (Counting) Sixty-five, seventy-eight dollars. There, you earned it all right. A right good log cutter for a woman. Sorry you ain't stayin' on the next season.
HARRIET: (Sigh) I would, but I've got other work to do.
LUMBER: (Winks) Yea, I know. I hear 'em say you're going south. Attacking the slave system. Well now, if you want my advice, that ain't no life for a woman. (Reasonable) This slavery thing'll work itself out if you just leave it alone. It'll all just come out fine and dandy. No use committing suicide before your time—(pause, sees) and—Hey, where you going? Hey! She never heard a word I said.
(MUSIC: In under)
HARRIET: I was ready to do my real job. I went down into the slave grounds. I gave the signals, planned the escapes. I talked with them, passed guns to them, planned the outbreaks, and went deeper and deeper into the slave belt, until my name seemed to spread before me. I heard it once while I was a maid in a big house. I was serving a slave owner breakfast—
(SOUND: Slight tinkle of dinner sounds)
MASTER: You seen this Harriet Tubman, Jed? Been on your place?
JED: (Mouthful, grunts) Now around here she'd know better. The slaves know better.
MASTER: They say she's a devil. Raided the Logan's place. Took out ten slaves. Raided the Harper's plantation. (Looks up) Maid—
HARRIET: (Startled) Yes?
JED: (Snaps) Don't you know when to stop pourin' syrup? You got it runnin' over the table!
HARRIET: Oh, I'm sorry, sir.
MASTER: Aww, don't blame her! This Harriet Tubman's got 'em all upset. (Sigh) Sure like to get my gunsight on her. I sure would—
(MUSIC: In under)
HARRIET: And some did get sight of me, and I slipped away. Sometimes I was a man, sometimes a woman. I walked; I rode horseback. I drove wagons and funeral cars. And once I took a train—
(SOUND: Clanging of old-fashioned train in station)
CONDUCTOR: Hey you, where do you think you're going?
HARRIET: Me, sir?
BRAKEMAN: (Whispers) She look might—mighty like that there rebel slave, Tubman.
CONDUCTOR: Speak up! Where's your master? Where you going?
HARRIET: You can see by my ticket. I'm going south. South to Maryland.
CONDUCTOR: Oh, I see (Pause). Naw, she couldn't be Tubman. Now would a rebel slave be heading south? No, siree. (Up) All aboard!
CONDUCTOR: Let `er roll!
(SOUND: Train starts off and gathers speed. Under. Take slow. Fade out)
HARRIET: I rolled into Georgia and rolled out with slaves into Canada. I rolled and roamed the plantations. And when I knew my strength, I went into the state where I was born. I went into the region of the master I had escaped. I went back for my family. I had heard their voices call stronger and stronger. I had heard voices of my brothers, my mother.
HARRIET: I came into the village at early mornin'. I was an old woman with a cane. I walked near the slaves, searching for faces I knew.
HARRIET: (Quiet) Then, just two yards from me, I did see a face I remembered. It was the face of my old master.
BODIAS: (Sharp) Old woman! Where do you belong?
HARRIET: (Trembly) Yes?
BODIAS: I said, where do you belong?
HARRIET: You say something? You must have.
BODIAS: Of course I said something!
HARRIET: (Odd) Your mouth opens, but I can't hear no words. You sure you
BODIAS: (Disgusted) Get out of the way! (Fade) Deaf. Stone deaf.
HARRIET: (Quiet) I got out of the way. I hobbled off to the slave quarters. I moved about until night, and I found the cabin of my brother. I opened the door.
(SOUND: Door opens)
HARRIET: There I stood in the doorway. I could see Louis, struggling to rise. He thought I was the overseer.
LOUIS: (Off) Is it time for work already? What time is it?
HARRIET: (Grim) It's time to be free, Louis!
HARRIET: It's time to be free!
LOUIS: Your voice
HARRIET: (Cut in) I'm Harriet.
HARRIET: Quiet, quiet! You'll wake up the overseer. Where's mother?
LOUIS: (Awkward) Mother!
HARRIET: Yes, where's mother!
LOUIS: (Slow) She and our sister and Sol were sold.
HARRIET: Where! To whom?
LOUIS: (Anguish) I don't know! South. Harriet? I can't see you, Harriet. What are you
doing? I did my best—I couldn't help them.
HARRIET: (Slow) Never mind. Wherever they are, I'll find them.
(MUSIC: In under)
HARRIET: I took my brother away to the new land. And I took ten more from the rice fields with us. I saved my brother, but as I looked over the land for the woman who brought me into the world, there was a fear in me I had never known before. It seemed I was growing cold, deaf again. I hardly heard friends who'd say—
LEVI: (Calm) Take a rest, Harriet. If you run the risk again and again you'll be killed. (Fade) Take a rest.
HARRIET: And the abolitionists would say—
ABOLITIONIST: (Calm) You've had your share of the dangers, Tubman! Every slave holder knows, hates you! You'll be worth more to the cause of freedom if you leave the railroad, stay north.
HARRIET: What can I do here?
ABOLITIONIST: (Pleased) Plenty. Travel about the states and tell the people what you've done! We need speakers like you.
HARRIET: I do travel, Mr. Garrison.
ABOLITIONIST: (Concedes) Yes, but you don't make speeches—
HARRIET: (Slow) I do make speeches. I free men. Mr. Garrison, I think one free man is worth a thousand speeches.
(MUSIC: Sting and whip under)
HARRIET: I didn't say that the pressure on my head was almost too painful to bear. I knew being still would never stop it. I went down again into the armed camps. I went searching along the levees, the swamplands, looking among slave workers until my head burst, until one day I went down into a camp and saw slaves marching from a mill. A guard was calling them on. And one came by, an old woman who looked older than I had ever pretended to be. She looked up into my face. It was my mother. Her lips parted. She said—
(SOUND: Shuffling march under above. Keep)
MOTHER: (Low) Harriet! My child, Harriet!
GUARD: (Back) All right, move up there. Move up there.
HARRIET: It seemed this was the day I'd lived for, I had gotten my freedom. She was close to me.
GUARD: (Back) What's holding up the line there? Move on!
HARRIET: Mother, I've come to get you!
MOTHER: Don't talk, child! Don't talk!
HARRIET: How will I tell you? Tell them?
MOTHER: Sing! Don't talk, just sing!
GUARD: (Fade up) Move on, up there! Move on!
(SOUND: Pass out shuffling)
(MUSIC: In under)
HARRIET: The line passed; she was gone. I went through the men's quarters. I found Sol. He knew me and he said—
SOL: (Smile) You did learn about the railway! You learned.
HARRIET: Help me, Sol! I have the plans and the money. Help me tell everyone who wants to come with us to slip away quietly.
SOL: (Quiet) I can let them know. Go back to the river and wait. I'll sing. Those who understand will come.
HARRIET: That evening Sol walked by the cabins. Walked by the overseers and guards, and he talked to the people! He talked—
SOL: (Singing) Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus. Steal away, steal away home (etc.).
(Fade back and out very slow)
HARRIET: And by nightfall nineteen had stolen away quietly to the riverbank. There were old men, young men. There were women and a two day old baby who cried—
BABY: (Slight cry. Up a bit but not bold)
SOL: Hush, hush, hild. Hush.
HARRIET: At night we waded through the waters. We struck out for Canada. We dodged patrols, we climbed hills, we moved by night and slept by day. One was afraid and said—
DOUBTFUL: We'll never make it! Already they're catching up with us. The dogs will be on us!
HARRIET: We crossed the river again. Once we fought off a patrol and escaped to the hills. Once while we lay hidden from a passing patrol, the baby began to cry out—
BABY: (Cries sleepily then becomes louder)
SOL: Hush, hush. (Up, alarmed) I can't stop her!
HARRIET: (Low) Here, this will stop her. Put it on her gums.
SOL: What is it?
HARRIET: Put it on her gums! Rub it in! We've got to keep her quiet.
BABY: (Cries, gags, and simmers out)
HARRIET: Then she was quiet. I gave the child a drug. It was a case of one life against nineteen lives. If' we lived, the baby would live. If we were caught—Then one man fell behind. One man said to me—
DOUBTFUL: I'm not going any further!
HARRIET: (Snap) You're out of your head!
DOUBTFUL: I'm going back to live. I won't die out here.
HARRIET: (Quiet) I had an answer, an old answer I had used before on other trips. I put it
against his head!
DOUBTFUL: Why do you point the gun at me?
HARRIET: You'll go on or you'll die! Which is it? (Pause) He went on. Night after night,clouds covered the North Star, and I felt the trees for the moss to tell our way. We trudged on tired, hungry. My mother kept beside me, her head high. When we were nearly fainting, Sol sang the words the slaves had put to "Oh Suzanna." Sol began to sing—
SOL: (Sings) I'm on my way to Canada,
That cold and dreary land;
The sad effects of slavery,
I can no longer stand.
I've served my master all my days,
Without a dime's reward;
And now I'm forced to run away,
To flee the lash abroad.
Farewell, old master, don't think hard of me,
I'm on my way to Canada, where all the slaves are free.
The hounds are baying on my track,
Old master comes behind,
Resolved that he will bring me back,
Before I cross the line:
(Fade down and out)
I'm now embarked for yonder shore,
There a man's a man by law;
The iron horse will bear o'er,
To shake the lion's paw.
HARRIET: Then we broke through the forest and into the clearing. We crossed into Canada. This time there were people to welcome us.
LEVI: (Off) Harriet, Harriet! Come over here—
HANNA: (Back, joyful) Harriet!
VOICES: (Ad-lib greetings, calls, etc. Bring up)
HARRIET: There were Levi and Hanna, and agents from the road. There were hundreds of freed men I had brought out of the slave fields. They were around us, over us. Then I listened to their talk. And it seemed I bad made my last trip.
LEVI: (Close) Sure, you're going to stay home now, Harriet?
HARRIET: (Slow) I believe I will. I believe we can get another conductor. I believe I would like to rest. To rest and forget.
(MUSIC: Sting in under)
HARRIET: Then my head seemed to roar again. I heard voices call—
VOICE: Oh Harriet!
VOICE II: Oh Harriet!
OTHERS: (Atop each other) Oh Harriet! (etc.)
(MUSIC: in under)
HARRIET: The old blow on my head seemed to pain again. The earth moved. Rockets burst in my head. I listened to the voices. They were the voices of slaves. They were the voices of my people. They were the voice of God. I was Moses. I answered them.
VOICE: (Trails off) Oh Harriet!
SINGER: (On cue) Go down Moses,
Way down in Egypt land
Tell ole Pharaoh
To let my people go (hum).
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard the story of Harriet Tubman, as presented by Destination Freedom, a special radio series dramatizing the great democratic heritage of the Negro people.