Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

What precautions did she take to keep her hiding place secret?

The Loophole of retreat 

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Harriet moved to the house of a kind white woman who was friends with her grandmother. One of her slaves, Betty, led Harriet to a small room above the woman's own apartment and told her that was where she could hide. Harriet learned that Dr. Flint had put her brother William and her two children in jail. In a letter, William told her to remain steadfast and not come after them. Betty went to see them sometimes and reported back to Harriet.

Harriet explains that there had been a shed built on her grandmother's property. There were boards laid across and then a triangular space made above them. This was to be Harriet's hiding place. No air or light was admitted. The highest part was only three feet tall. She was given a bed and laid there, even as rats and mice ran over her. This comfortless place was not terrible, however, because she could finally hear her children's voices below.

Her hiding place was cramped and she longed for the light. All of this was preferable to slavery, of course, and she was grateful that she was not lacerated, beaten, worked to death, or chained up. One day she found a small tool that allowed her to make a one-inch hole. This admitted light and she sat near it, reveling in the whiff of air that came in. She also was able to look out on the street, but shuddered when she saw Dr. Flint.

In her hiding place, she was attacked by hundreds of red insects and was burned by the hot sun. She was able to hear the conversations below her during the day, and heard that Dr. Flint traveled to New York to look for her again. This gave her some comfort.

In the autumn the heat eased and she had become accustomed to the dim light and could sew and read. In the winter she was nearly always frostbitten and miserable. However, she was continually grateful for her place of concealment. No one suspected that she was there.