Free At Last: A Story of the Underground Railroad, Part 4

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On a Cincinnati street, slave catchers talk about why slaves keep coming when so many get sent back. They also discuss the $500 reward for a man and a boy who have run away and the $3,000 reward offered for the capture of abolitionist Adelaide Walker.

46 Slave catchers discuss reward for George, Bobby, and Adelaide Walker.

Fellow abolitionists are shocked to see a wanted poster for their friend Adelaide.

45 Abolitionists learn that Adelaide Walker is wanted.

While Adelaide Walker accompanies George and Bobby to the Phillips’ safe house, young Felicity Phillips comes to warn her about the reward. Adelaide is more concerned about her “passengers.”


47 While escorting George and Bobby to a safehouse, Adelaide Walker learns that she is wanted.

When they arrive at the Phillips home, Adelaide asks the family if they can keep George and his sack of potatoes for a night or two. As Miriam Phillips expresses joy about potatoes to go in their sparse cellar, Bobby pops out of his sack.

48 Bobby surprises the Phillips family.

George and Bobby tell about their adventures between Tennessee and Ohio, including the undertaker who hid them in coffins for a while. After Miriam gives the hungry runaways some food, George and Bobby teach the group a song they used to sing with the little ones on the plantation.

49 George and Bobby teach Head and Shoulders to Adelaide and the Phillips.
“Milk de cow, baby! One, two, three! Milk de cow, baby! One, two, three! Milk de cow, milk de cow, milk de cow, baby! One, two, three!”

Adelaide leaves the Phillips home with a loaned umbrella that she can hide beneath as she walks on the street. She meets Colleen McAllen while they both wait for a mail delivery. Colleen asks questions about Adelaide’s travels and is especially curious about whether she has ever seen a slave at work. She even talks to her about things she has heard about a certain Adelaide something-or-other. Adelaide admits to being acquainted with Adelaide since childhood, but she and Colleen do not exchange names. Adelaide admits to being an abolitionist, but says that she is simply doing what she believes Jesus would do. Colleen makes excuses and her words reveal that she is a complacent Christian.

50 Adelaide talks with a complacent Christian.

After Colleen leaves, Adelaide hides behind her umbrella as Elias Craig walks by carrying her wanted poster and as he and the two other slave catchers discuss her.

52 Slave catchers discuss Adelaide.

The scene ends with Adelaide thanking God for her umbrella and asking Him how to reach people like Colleen.

51 Adelaide prays.

The lights go down on Act II of Free at Last.

In Act III, slaves enter singing, “I Must Walk This Lonesome Valley.”

53 I must walk my lonesome valley.

I must walk my lonesome valley.
I got to walk it for myself.
Oh, nobody else can walk it for me.
I got to walk it for myself.

Jesus walked His lonesome valley.
He had to walk it for Himself.
Oh, nobody else could walk it for Him.
He had to walk it for Himself.

The lights go down and when they come back up, Henry Collins is talking with slave catcher Elias Craig and overseer Matthew Harris. Elizabeth Collins is hiding at the corner of the house, eavesdropping on their conversation.

Mr. Collins is angry at Mr. Craig because he has failed to bring back George and Bobby. Mr. Craig talks about how many abolitionists are in Cincinnati and then talks about his upcoming trip to New Orleans to take slaves to auction.

Mr. Collins says that he is thinking about sending Mariah’s little girl Bess because he believes that he will get more work out of Mariah if Bess is out of her way. Mr. Craig agrees to take Bess and to bring back a replacement for George.

54 Mr. Collins, Elias Craig, and Matthew Harris discuss selling Bess while Elizabeth looks on.

Elizabeth runs away crying.

When the men leave, Mariah enters with Bess. As they walk, Mariah sings:

55 Lonesome Valley 2
“I must walk my lonesome valley . . . “

Elizabeth runs to Mariah. Catching her breath, she tells her what she overheard from her father’s conversation. Mariah exclaims: “Ain’t nobody taking my baby!”

Elizabeth tells her that she must leave tonight. Mariah says that she will take her son Willie, too, explaining, “Dey dun take my husband away so’s I ain’t ne’er seen him no more. Dey ain’t takin’ my babies.”

Elizabeth says that she has spoken to Mr. Fairbanks and they have come up with a plan. Mr. Fairbanks will let the cows out during the party the Collins are hosting that night. In the confusion, perhaps Mariah and Bess can get away.

56 Elizabeth tells Mariah the terrible news.

The evening’s party begins with an English country dance called “The Gothic Dance.”

57 Gothic Dance

Mr. Collins is informed that his cows have gotten loose. Overseer Matthew Harris says that he will see to them.

58 Mr. Collins learns that his cows are out.

Cynthia Collins tries to lighten the tension by suggesting a dance for the little ones. They dance “Sally Sunshine.”

59 Sally Go Round the Sunshine

During the dance, Matthew Harris enters and whispers to Mr. Collins. The two run out the door and then reenter and talk to Elias Craig who is in attendance at the party. Elias Craig rushes out the door and Mr. Collins exits and reenters, putting on his coat. Mr. Collins tells Cynthia what has happened and tells her that he is going after them. Frank asks if he can go, too. Despite Mrs. Collins’ protests, Mr. Collins says that he may.

60 Mr. Collins leaves to find Mariah, Willie, and Bess.

Two of Mr. Collins’ friends offer to go along and one offers to bring his dog.

61 Friends offer to help.

In the next scenes, Mariah and her children struggle northward . . .

62 Mariah, Willie, and Bess on the run.

. . . while Mr. Collins, Frank Collins, Elias Craig, the friends, and the dog pursue them.

63 In hot pursuit

Just when the pursuers get so close to the runaways that they can hear the dog bark, abolitionist Danny Baker runs up to help Mariah and her children. Not knowing who he is, they scream, but he assures them that he will help them. Danny gets them across the Ohio River in his boat. Abolitionist Charlotte (who gave Bobby his new shirt) comes to help and carries Bess into the night. When Willie gets his foot caught, Danny, Mariah, and Willie get separated from the little girl.

At times we feel as if we confront one crisis after another, and sometimes that is not just a feeling–we are. Only God knows what will happen next. We can trust every “right now” and every “what next?” to the One Who knows.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer
through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39



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