A story from 1820’s Charleston, South Carolina, in which a fine balance of justice is maintained.
Morning cool when Mista carry me to blacksmith house. Hawks flyin low. Time to bring in garden crop. Smith wife haves me five days to put up garden for winter. I sees her give Mista money for me.
She look tired. Two babies, one in da cradle. She got pale hair.
My baby growed now. Marton his name. Near ready for sale. Can’t think of him bein sold.
Smith wife tell me they got no slaves. She don’t believe in slaves. But she gots me five days! She say she rents me. She say dat different. Friends can’t help her no more. She need help.
We boils water for peelin garden things for jars and crocks. We boils outside. Sun hotter. She in garden while I tends pot. Big son come in. He darker. He work with papa in smithy. He ax me where is mama. I tells him. He smell like smoke, rain, horse things. He go out but he look back, smile.
First day not over til way long after sun goes down. Smith wife make us supper but I keeps peelin out da garden. I eats after. Smith wife show me blanket near stove for my bed. I tired. Sleeps good.
Second day more peelin, choppin garden things. More boilin. We cooks everything we gonna put up. Squashes, dark and light. Beans, dark and light. Sweet onion. Peelin tomatoes. Okra, corn. Smith wife got cloves, cinnamon stick, dill for picklin. Plenty salt.
Sun hot but days better here den back at home place. Smith wife kindly, work hard. Today she let me help with babies. All babies sweet. I show smith wife how to bundle baby on her back, keep choppin, boilin while baby sleep. Big son come in, out three times. Hims mama ax why he in house. He turn red. Smith papa come in after him one time. Smith papa big man, dark like soot. Not talk at supper time, just eat fast.
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