The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #39746   Message #567141
Posted By: JenEllen
07-Oct-01 - 09:56 PM
Thread Name: Story: The Drinking Gourd I
Subject: RE: Story: The Drinking Gourd
The ill feeling brought to the Miller farm on the backs of Montgomery's horses hung cloud-like in the days that followed. The travelers remained in the barn while Samuel went about his work, and Elizabeth saw Patience and Biddie off finally, with a somber embrace and promises from all of the women to gather again soon.

Evening found Elizabeth in by the fire, cradling Jacob, and lost in wondering what kind of life she was making for this child. "Ten fingers, ten toes, and your daddy would have been so proud of you. You'll grow up into a fine man, just like him, won't you?" Jacob hiccuped his affirmative, and for the first time that day, Elizabeth smiled. The baby drifted off to sleep, and Elizabeth tucked him in his cradle before she went out into the night with the dog close at heel. The barn door was slightly open, and she walked across the yard to close it. Pausing for a moment to let her eyes adjust to the dark, she listened to the soft snores from within, and entered to check on the sleeping forms. All God's children. How could anyone think differently? She wondered how parents like those of that Montgomery man, and those of Matt Stanford, could sleep at night, knowing what they'd loosed on the world. Men who attacked and chased other men like they were property, used in sport and made to breed like livestock. She then tucked a blanket under the chin of the sweet child who had patted the horse's nose, and gave a whispered hope for kind dreams and easy travel to safety. It was all she could manage.

Back inside the house, Samuel had put the kettle on and sat crooning to the sleeping Jacob. He rose when she entered, and the two sat hunched at the table.
"Everything all right out there?" asked Samuel
"As well as can be expected." she answered "Now, we got us a problem, Sam. Between that Montgomery man, and ol' Stanford, we are going to have to be damn careful. I want them folks to get to the mill in one piece, but it's hardly safe for them to stay here much longer."
"I can take them tomorrow night." nodded Samuel
"Like hell you will. Do you think if y'all get stopped, that any of those men are going to care if you are a free black? You think they'll be content with theirs and let you walk on home? You got a lot to live for yet, my friend."
"And so do you." Samuel frowned and gestured towards the quiet cradle. "You can't be running off with that child, and you can't well leave him here with no Mama."
Elizabeth looked long at the cradle and sighed, "There isn't any other way."

By the light of a single candle, Samuel and Elizabeth worked out the plan for the following evening. At dark, Elizabeth would leave Jacob in the care of Esther and Samuel, and lead the travelers to the trail along the Tombigee. She would go with them as far as the mill, and then borrow a horse to come home on. It was useless promising to hurry, she wouldn't do anything but. Samuel then grudgingly agreed to stay at the farm the nest night, before returning to Esther and his family. Elizabeth followed him to the porch, watched him go, then sat and offered her silent prayers up to the stars.