The Cost of Freedom. Chapter 4.

Fiction By Arya Animarus // 12/13/2010

 

Estelle woke up in the same ornate bedroom she always woke up in, ever since she woke there for the first time. David, the boy, Came in and laid some clothes on the back of a chair, then turned to Estelle.

“Are you well enough to get up today?”

Estelle smiled and nodded.

“Yes, thank you.”

David nodded and left the room. Estelle got out of bed and put on the clothes David had brought in. She walked out of the room and tried to figure her way around the mansion. David found her wandering through one of the hallways and guided her to the dining room. Breakfast was served, Ham and eggs, danish, cinnamon toast, scones, bagels, doughnuts, and everything you could possibly imagine at a breakfast table. After breakfast, David gave her the hour-long tour of the house, er, mansion. She enjoyed her time, but in the back of her mind, she knew that it couldn't last. She had to find Jacob.

 

Jacob was brought before the master, Michael. He was to be punished for causing an uprising in the compound. Fifteen lashes with a whip. He was then returned to his slave hut. The two girls were there as always, and fixed up a cot next to Alan's for Jacob. They laid him down and bathed the lashes with damp cloths. One leaned over to his ear and whispered, “Thank you for helping us. We appreciate it.”

Jacob winced as the cloth touched his back.

“Don't mention it. I can't stand seeing anyone suffer.”

The girls pulled up a floorboard between them and reached underneath, pulling up a roll of bandages. They bound up Jacob's back and put the floorboard back. The first girl helped him to his feet.

“Thank you. What are your names?” Jacob asked. The first girl stepped forward.

“I'm Freya and this is Ianthe. She is a mute, but a splendid healer.”

Jacob nodded to the two and glanced over at Alan.

“You said his name means something. Do all names have meanings?”

“Yes,” Freya said, “My name means lady. Ianthe means violet.”

“Do you know what Estelle means?”

“Star.”

 

Estelle checked her pack. Food, drink, rope, knife, spare outfit, cloak, blanket, grappling hook and flint shard. She also had a bow and arrows, and a sword. David and his family had outfitted her with an Indian tribe to travel with to find Jacob. The Indians knew of a place where slaves were held. Indians were welcome there for entertainment, and were allowed to set up their tents in a field nearby. The Indians would camp there so that Estelle could search the compound for Jacob, and help him escape, if he was there. She was decorated and disguised as an Indian. Make-up to make her skin dark, Indian clothes, and various Indian objects and trinkets. They set off, but were no more than eight yards from the house when David ran out and gave Estelle a hug.

“Something to remember us by,” he whispered, then stood to wave them off. Estelle looked back and watched David waving.

“I will never forget,” She whispered, “I will never forget.”

 

Alan was finally well and able to work, so he was sent out to the brickyard to work. He and Jacob spent every spare moment they had beside working and sleeping talking together and planning things. They had sacks of provisions snuck from dishes that were carried from the masters dining table after he had finished. Their clothes were few and bundled together always, so no preparation needed in that area. Then, one night, it was time. They gathered their things and snuck from the slave compound and over the fence. Freedom! The very scent of it blew into their faces. Yet it was so far away. Still they needed to get far enough away. Suddenly they heard dogs barking, and mens' voices. They had been found out! They ran as fast as they could, but Alan soon collapsed from weariness, on account of his recent wounds. Jacob looked behind him, then upwards. A high tree branch provided the answer.

“Alan! There's a branch up there that'll hold one person. You should go up while I lead them off!”

Alan shook his head.

“You go up! You've tasted freedom. Don't let it go!”

“Alan, Ianthe was serving food a week ago and heard that if you tried to escape again, you'd be hung! I have more of a chance, since they won't kill me. Now hurry up!”

Alan glanced in the direction of the sounds and shimmied up the tree. Jacob left a broad, messy trail that would be easy to follow, but continued to run as fast as he could towards freedom. He would not be captured again! He was breathing hard, and his side hurt from continuous running. He collapsed to the ground and drank in enormous breaths of air. He tried to rise at sound of pursuit, but his legs wouldn't hold him. The slave-catchers caught up soon enough and Jacob was captured. His arms were bound behind him, and he was hauled upright. He hung limp, to exhausted to move. He closed his eyes and listened. The men were talking about a feast to celebrate Jacob's recapture, when one asked about “the other one”. The leader of the group responded,

“He's not as important as this one, Dunstan. You're young yet and have much to learn. Watch and you'll start to see.”

 

Estelle was learning a lot from the Indians. Things like basket-weaving and tracking and being as silent as possible while stalking a deer and survival in the wilderness. But most important was the art of healing, or herbalism. An herbalist used herbs and natural resources to heal wounds and sickness. Estelle learned which plants were poisonous and which were helpful. She learned which wood would burn better and which wouldn't smoke. She learned about herbs that could put you to sleep, and herbs that woke you up. She learned almost everything about herbs that could possibly be known. They camped in the field and Estelle snuck into the slave compound. She heard whispers about a slave who had escaped. Her spirits rose, and she hoped fervently that the slave had been Jacob. Then she heard that it was two slaves who had escaped and one had been captured. She desperately hoped that it was not Jacob who had been captured. She crept up to the prison hut and looked through a crack in the wall. No one was inside! Then she heard a grunt from behind the hut. She slipped around and looked. A boy was being tied to a tree. Two men were wrapping ropes around his torso. They left him there and swept past Estelle, not seeing her in the dim light. She slipped over to the boy and looked at his face. Jacob! She noticed that he was unconscious, or asleep, or pretending. She examined the ropes. Very thick. No chance of escape. She gently touched his arm. No response. She carefully checked his body for signs of harm. He was covered with bruises, and his hair was matted with blood from a small head wound. She cleaned this out with a rag and some water from a canteen she carried. Jacob began to stir, so Estelle quietly faded into the darkness. She snuck to the dining hall at the big house and listened outside the window. She heard plates and cups and silverware clinking and rowdy voices. She heard a door opening and everything suddenly quieted down. She heard a loud voice say clearly,

“Flogging tomorrow. Darren, you're whipping.”

Then another voice,

“Is it that dratted Zantier again?”

“That's the one.”

“I'll take care of him. How many lashes?”

“One hundred. We want to make sure that the others think twice.”

Estelle slipped away and ran back to Jacob. She gave a strangled sob. She laid her head against his chest. She felt his chin come down on top of her head. She looked up at him. He groggily lifted his head then dropped it back. His eyes closed in sleep. Estelle sped back to the Indian camp and tried to sleep, but she tossed and turned all night. She could not believe he was the one caught instead of the other one whoever he was. She almost wished that it was the other one who was caught. But she couldn't wish one hundred lashes on anyone. The next day she slipped out to the slave compound and watched. A wooden structure, that she recognized as stocks, was set up in the middle. She assumed that they were to put Jacob in. all the slaves were being herded toward the stocks and were gathered around them. Jacob was pushed and prodded towards the stocks. He tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. An overseer with a whip, whom Estelle thought to be Darren, cracked it over Jacob's head and yelled at him, “Get up, dog!”

Jacob raised himself shakily on one hand and got to his knees, then slowly stood to his feet. Darren shoved him forward and locked him in the stocks. Estelle had a remarkably good view and saw Jacob shut his eyes tightly, bracing himself for the first blow. Estelle couldn't watch. She turned her face away and closed her eyes. She turned and ran to a hollow beneath a tree and lay there crying. The image of Jacob waiting for that first blow haunted her mind. She couldn't shake it. She closed her eyes and rocked back and forth, trying to calm herself. A sound cut through her senses. A scream. A cry of pure agony. It could be only one thing. Estelle leaped to her feet and raced back to the stocks. Darren backed away, a look of evil delight tainting his ugly features. A young, but otherwise standard overseer looked aghast at the sight from his point of view. All the slaves were sent back to there jobs, but two stayed behind. Two girls ran up to Jacob and pulled him out of the stocks. His Back was covered with blood. Estelle raced down and knelt beside the girls. They looked at her.

“An Indian!” one said.

“Please. I speak English well. My name is Estelle. I can help. I know all about herbs and plants. I am a healer.”

“Estelle! Isn't that what he asked about?”

The other girl nodded.

“My name is Freya and this is Ianthe. Jacob here asked what your name means. So I'm wondering if you know him?"

Estelle nodded.

"Well, then help us carry him somewhere that we can work on him. This place isn't exactly private."

Estelle snapped her fingers.

"I know just the place!"
 

Jacob's head swam. He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the three figures in front of him. He recognized Ianthe and Freya, but the other was dark-skinned and very Indian-looking. But underneath, he recognized her.

“Estelle?”

She smirked.

“Glad to see you still know me bad boy.”

“What's going on? Where am I?”

Freya answered.

“In an Indian tent in a field near the slave compound.”

Jacob sat up.

“Are we escaping?”

“You are. But Ianthe and I have decided to stay and help the old and sick and hurt back at the compound.”

Jacob stood and tested his legs and arms.

“I vow to return one day and free all the slaves in this compound. My back feels amazing! What did you put on it?”

Estelle counted on her fingers.

“We pounded up some fresh sanicle and made a poultice with some dried parta leaves and-”

“Never mind. I wouldn't understand anyway.”

Laughter echoed through the early morning glade with the four friends' merriment.

 

 

Comments

Hey!

 I'm going to be using the name Darren in a future story!

Jackie West | Sat, 01/22/2011

Are you indeed. Well I

Are you indeed. Well I thought of it first, so I'm going to use it in my story. Also, My character for Kyle is Dunstan. He loves the name and will walk around saying it in his Elyk Gremlinstein voice. I wonder what Lerp would say about that...

Arya Animarus | Tue, 01/25/2011

Oh for the times when I felt invincible.

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