Sammy pulled away suddenly and looked down, he suddenly realized what he had been doing. I sat motionless, still feeling the soft pressure of his lips on mine. He took a deep breath.
“I’s sorry, Miss Sarah, I’s sorry,” he mumbled in a quick voice, “forgive me, please forgive me, couldn’t contain myself, just forget it happened, I promise you it will never, never happen again. Please, don't tell the Massa, I swear I'll never do anything of the sort ever again…” He was getting up to leave. I snapped back to reality in time to catch his hand.
“Sammy, wait,” I found my voice and tried to tug him back. He was a lot stronger than me and didn’t budge, but at least I kept him from running off. “Sammy, sit back down, don’t go,” I begged him. He remained in a half sitting, half standing position.
“Sammy, I’m not angry.”
He relaxed a bit, enough to let him sit down again, but in such a way that he could get up and run if the need be. He reminded me of a rabbit who had just spotted a fox and was on the alert.
“Sammy,” I bit my lips and sort of half smiled, my eyes burning from shyness and excitement. “You know, I’ve…I’ve never been kissed before.” I couldn’t focus on anything for longer than a few seconds, my eyes kept wandering and I couldn’t bring them under control. “This was my first kiss, and well, I, I,” my voice dropped to a whisper, “I liked it.” My eyes kept wandering, I couldn’t focus on him, but I could tell he was staring at the ground. “I was wondering, if perhaps, you would,” I paused and took a deep breath, “if you would let me return it.”
His head shot up and once more those eyes, those dark, enchanting eyes that had frozen me the moment I looked into them, caught up my breath and stilled my heart. I leaned over toward him and closed my eyes. I felt his large hand, filled with calluses and blisters, steal around my neck and gently pull my face close to his. I forgot about time and space, I forgot where I was, who I was, I forgot everything and anything.
“Sarah, Sarah, where are you.”
Elsie’s voice made us pull away from each other. Sammy jumped up like a terrified rabbit and bolted off, leaving me to face Elsie on my own. I hurriedly tried to collect myself and appear calm and nonchalant
“I'm over here, Elsie," I called out.
“What did I tell you about sitting on the ground, Miss Sarah Maybelle Rose?” she put her hands on her hips.
“Why is it that the only time people use my full name is when they are upset with me? I'm not on the ground, I'm on a blanket.” I defended myself, pointing to the checkered woolen fabric upon which I sat. “And anyway, it’s almost May and warm outside, so there is no fear.”
“If you catch your death in pneumonia, it will be on my head."
"Elsie, don't worry, like I said, it's warm outside, there is no fear. Was there something you wanted?"
"Not in particular, I just lost you and didn't know where you were."
"If I'm not in the house, Elsie, that probably means I'm in the garden."
"What are you doing out here by yourself?"
"Going over my mother's old papers, it certainly is not my fault that these days Jeff prefers the Thompson's company to mine."
"Miss Thompson has caught young Massa Jeffrey in her net?"
"You could say that! I'm only hoping it won't last too long, Prissy is known to be something of a Jilting Jessie."
"Well, I won't disturb you any longer, but mind that you don't sit on the cold ground for too long."
"I'm on a blanket," I once more protested. Elsie shook her head and walked away.
I sighed with relief. Hearing a shuffling, I looked up and saw Sammy appear once more on the scene.
"You just left me to face her all alone," I chided.
"No offense, but if I had been sitting next to you, it would have been a lot worse."
I giggled softly, he did have a point there.
"Sarah," he once more sat down on the blanket in front of me, "Sarah, what are you feelings for me exactly."
"Oh Sammy," I shyly looked down, "I have hid my feelings, feeling they should do me wrong," I quoted to him, "asking dost that love me, weeping, I have loved the long. Sammy, you may have loved me from the moment you saw me climbing out of that carriage, but I have loved you from the start, since the day we bumped into each other in my Aunt's garden. and when you told me to look at my life through your eyes I realized how much you meant to me. How much I had missed you all these years, and how, how I never want you to leave anywhere again. I want you to stay with me. I don’t know how you do it, but you make me a better person.”
He smiled that charming smile that I could die for. He drew me close to him and I put my thin little arms around his neck. We just sat there for a while, then I pulled away a little so I could look into his face. His arms remained around me.
“Only, we can’t tell Uncle,” I whispered. “He would never allow it.”
A shadow crossed his face, the type that always did when he was reminded of his being slave. “If I was a free man, if I was an equal to all those white men, I would have been able to walk up to him, look him in the eye and ask permission to court you. This is dreadfully unfair, why am I not as good as all those spoiled self-centered sons of them rich landowners?”
“You’re a million times better than all of them put together, it’s not your fault the world doesn’t understand that.”
“Yes, Sarah, they don’t understand that,” He let me go and sat up straight. “There is a gulf between us Sarah, a gulf that divides you from me. A gulf dug deep and wide, and there is no way to jump across it. The great divide between white people from black, free from slave. There is no way around it and there is no way to fill it.”
This time it was me who pulled his large frame into my tiny arms, “then Sammy, let love be the bridge that stretches across the gulf and unites your heart with mine.”
I rested my head on his shoulder and he held me tight. I could feel his heart beating next to mine. Who cared about what society said, who cared about the ‘rules’ the ‘regulation’ and ‘the way things were’, love doesn’t know color or race, love doesn’t understand the difference between free or slave. All love knows is that when it finds two hearts with the same rhythm, it is love’s one and only duty to unite them into one heartbeat.
The summer really flew by. Sammy and I grew closer with every minute. The fact that he was my personal gardener and his only duty was to tend to my garden made everything a lot easier. We would spend hours in the garden, talking, reading, discussing poetry and literature. He would watch me as I would draw and criticize my work. We would work in the garden together. He would teach me about the right way to handle flowers, how to make them bloom earlier than expected, how to get them to grow tall and large. He had such a talent with flowers and things that grew. He could make the most beautiful and intricate flower beds, coming up with delicate details that I would only marvel at.
When I was with Sammy, I felt it alright to be just who I was. It didn’t matter that I was illegitimate, it didn’t matter that my aunt disliked me, it didn’t matter that I was constantly living a lie, it didn’t matter that I didn’t even know or understand the mystery of my father and my mother and the whole house. With Sammy near me, I knew everything was going to be alright.
There one thing that spoiled the summer for me, and that was Albert Thompson.