Shortly after dark on Christmas night, Harriet had started the march north with her passengers.
The path they traveled was not an easy one. One safe house had company. Many wagons and carriages stood in the yard. There was no quilt hung on the clothesline or a black dishrag in the kitchen window as a signal.
Harriet knew that meant it wasn't safe to ask for help. The people at that station feared their visitors might betray them.
Harriet led her band of cold and wet people back into the woods. They huddled together all day, using their body heat to try to keep each other warm.
Slave catchers were out with dogs, but the fugitives walked on that night. They slogged through the rain and the mud.
They were cold, hungry, wet and miserable. It was hard going and one of the men lost heart .
"My shoes is about done. My feet is bleeding. I can't go on." He fell to the ground and pointed to his injured feet. "You all can go, but I'm going back."
Harriet knew she couldn't allow the man to turn back. He would give himself up in the first town he came to.
Then everyone would know where to look for them. The slave-catchers would bring hounds and back track to pick up her trail. She didn't dare take that kind of chance.
Harriet reached into her pocket for the pistol she always carried. She held it at her hip, level with the man's head.
"Dead men tell no tales."
Harriet stared at him. Rain or no rain, she didn't blink.
"You can come with us, or you can stay right here. But understand me--you ain't going back."
The tired man put his broken shoes back on, got to his feet and wiped the rain out of his eyes with shaking hands.
"I be come with you. I come with you, right now. I'll try to make it somehow."