Here is a teaser from the sequel, now entitled Going over Jordan. In Wayfaring Stranger, "Jordan" symbolizes the Ohio River, the dividing line between southern and northern states, and an important milestone on the Underground Railroad. This book follows the second Fox sister, Ellie, as she transitions into life in the past and becomes an agent on the Liberty Line, and...as she falls in love. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
The next day I received a message from Philip Caylor, the stationmaster just south of us. There was to be a large load of cargo moving through the next night. Four large packages and three small. I knew there was no way the Burns family in town could accommodate such a large load—they’d have to spend the day in the Collins’ barn. Wes had a small cellar in a corner of his barn, and while not exactly comfortable, it was the best place to hide in the area. And since the night Maddie had thwarted slave hunters there had been no visits at their house, and I prayed it’d continue to be that way.
I lit the lantern and placed it in the window that night. I sat by the fire and busied myself knitting a pair of mittens, grateful Mama had taught me all things domestic. At least I wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb in that regard, like I did in many other ways. I didn’t always sit or talk like a lady—and my slang slipped out too often (“freaking ridiculous”). I didn’t know how to properly interact with others, and apparently, according to Grandma, I told awkward jokes too much. I didn’t know how to speak out in Meeting, didn’t even know what to say. I didn’t know—
A knock at the door.
I jumped up and set my knitting down on the table. I opened the door a crack and peeked out.
“Good evening. Who sent you?”
“A friend of a friend.”
I counted: four adults and three children. This was my delivery.
“Just a moment.” I closed the door gingerly, lit a candle, then blew out the lantern. I stepped outside and motioned for the runaways to follow me. One of the children was whimpering, and I feared it’d turn into a louder cry. I hurried my pace but the passengers lagged behind. I knew they must be tired, but they had to hurry.
“Pick up the pace,” I hissed.
“Yes’m,” came the wearied reply.
Suddenly I heard a terrifying sound—horse hooves.
“Hurry!” I hung back and let them pass me. “Hurry!”
Wes’ and Amelia’s cabin came into sight at last and I didn’t even bother to knock on their door. I ran into the barn and went straight to the northeast corner. I felt around for the door handle. Where was it? I tore through the hay and then finally my fingers hit something hard. I threw open the door and ushered my fugitives inside.
“Blow out your candles,” I whispered. At last, they all descended inside. I closed the door and kicked hay over it, then ducked behind a tree outside. I had no idea what I’d say if I was found, and I hoped against all hope it wouldn’t come to that.
I heard the horses come closer and then saw them round the bend into the clearing. One man swung down off his horse and rapped on the cabin door.
The door opened slowly with a squeak moments later.
“Can I help you?” came Wes’ tired voice.
“We have reason to believe you have some of our stolen property,” the man said, then spit on the ground at Wes’ feet.
Now I was glad Wes didn’t know about the refugees hidden in his barn. He wouldn’t have to lie.
“I’m sorry, you have the wrong house.”
“Come on, negro. They’re here. Open up.”
“You’re welcome to search the house, but you won’t find nobody here. Please don’t wake my wife.”
I hunched down on my knees and held my breath. Please don’t search the barn, please don’t search the barn….
“Nobody’s here. Take me to the barn.”
Wes walked out of the cabin with the hunters on his tail. I figured he must know we were around once he saw the door was open, but….
“You don’t lock up your barn for the night, negro?”
“Musta blown open,” Wes said serenely.
Just then I brought out of my pocket one of the gadgets Mama had sent me from the future. I knew if they stepped over the cellar door they’d hear it was hollow, or heaven forbid, one of the children cried out. I pressed firmly on the high frequency whistle and suddenly all three of Wes’ dogs started barking in the barn. I held my breath and minutes later the hunters walked out shaking their heads. Without an apology to Wes, the men mounted their horses and were off.
As soon as I could no longer hear the horses, I stole out of my hiding place and knocked lightly on the door. A very haggard-looking Wes answered.
“Ellie!” he hissed. “Have you been here all along?”
“Yes, and there are seven packages in your barn,” I said breathlessly.
“Oh, law. They in da cellar? Thank the Lord they didn’t find them.” Wes nearly collapsed against the door in his relief. Amelia came up next to him.
“Yes, thank the good Lord,” she whispered. “I trust they are hungry?”
“I’m sure they are. There are three small packages, that didn’t stop long at our house.”
“Alright. Well, Ellie, you gwon home and I’ll see they’re fed. Bless you.” Amelia smiled at me, and patted my arm.
“I’ll be back in the morning to check on them,” I whispered, then headed back up the trail. I collapsed into bed and went straight to sleep.