Sammy let go of me immediately and spun around. I gave a gasp and my hand rose to my throat. It was Uncle Andrew, and he aiming a pistol at Sam, his finger on the trigger. Sammy’s eyes widened but he didn’t say anything, just stood there, frozen, looking my uncle in the eyes. My heart was thumping like a drum, we had been caught, caught red handed and there was no telling what the consequences were going to be.
“You…you…you…I can’t do the subject justice,” Uncle Andrew’s voice was so cold it sent shivers down my whole body. I had never seen him in this state before, it was frightening. “Couldn’t keep your distance could you. I trusted you; I made you her gardener, and this, this, THIS is how you behave? Do you know where slaves like you go? To the hangman’s. The hangman's!"
This was going too far. To Uncle it seemed like Sammy had been molesting me. I had to save him somehow.
“Uncle Andrew,” I called to him. “please, this isn’t how it seems, it’s alright, don’t do anything to Sam.”
“Sarah, you stay out of this. I want you to go to your room this instant. Henry Earl was bad enough, but Sam Climb is a completely different story.” Uncle Andrew roughly grabbed Sammy’s arm and waved the pistol in his face. His finger was still on the trigger and I was so scared he would accidently pull it and blast Sammy’s brains out.
“Uncle, please, listen to me, you’ve got it all wrong. He wasn’t trying to hurt me.”
“Wasn’t he? And way I ask what was it exactly he was trying to do?”
“He…we..I…I love him, Uncle. I know you don’t approve, that’s why I never told you, but I won’t let you kill him because of me! I’m sorry, Uncle, all this is my fault but don’t do anything to Sam.”
Something happened to my uncle when I said those words. He slowly turned his head and glared at me, his green eyes flashed with anger and disbelief. It was like he didn’t want to believe what I had just told him but at the same time knew he had too. I bit my lip and shivered, I had never been afraid of my Uncle, now I quivered with fear. He was truly frightful in this state. He turned his head back to Sammy.
“And of course you led her on. Which one of the two of you initiated all this? Was it you, Sam?” The two of us were silent. “Sarah is young and foolish; you should have known better to get involved. I can’t believe, CAN’T BELIEVE you had the nerve betray me like this. You’ll regret the day you ever encouraged an innocent child to…” He once more waved the pistol at Sammy when suddenly my voice arrested him.
“Uncle Andrew, you kill Sam, and I’ll kill myself.”
They both turned to see me standing with Sammy’s grafting knife held at my chest.
“Sarah,” Uncle Andrew narrowed his eyes.
I knew I was doing something very drastic, but at that moment I was too desperate to care. “You kill him, Uncle Andrew and I swear to God I’ll run this knife through my heart. We’ve all read the story of Romeo and Juliet, I don’t think you want to experience it.”
Something flashed in Uncle Andrew’s eyes, I couldn’t tell what it was. Sam took a step towards me; his eyes glued to the knife at my chest, Uncle Andrew stopped him with his arm.
“You stay where you are,” He barked. “Put the knife down, Sarah.”
“I won’t until you promise not to kill him.”
“PROMISE!” I pressed the knife closer to my chest, making a tiny rip in my dress.
He glared at me, but lowered his pistol. “I promise.”
I slowly lowered the knife. Uncle Andrew walked up to me and yanked it out of my hand. He raised his hand as though to hit me, I took a step back from him, my terrified eyes fixed on the raised arm. The hand was about to come down on me when it suddenly froze in mid air as once more our eyes met. Lowering his hand, he hissed in a voice that was not his own, “Get to you room, Sarah Rose. We’ll talk about your part in this later.”
“Mr. Greensten, forgive the intrusion, the Mrs. told me I could….oh!”
The three of us turned to see Barton, one of my Uncle’s head overseers. “Is everything alright, Sir?” He asked, eyeing the pistol in Uncle Andrew’s right hand and the knife in his left.
“I don’t know,” Uncle Andrew mumbled.
“Was he trying to have his way her?” He nodded towards Sam then towards me.
“None of your business,” Uncle Andrew barked. Barton nodded and shut his mouth.
Uncle turned again towards me and I once more backed away from him, straight into Elsie’s arms. What was she doing here? Actually, what were all of them doing in my garden?
“Elsie, take Sarah to her room,” Uncle Andrew commanded. Elsie nodded and began leading me away.
“What do we do with him?” Barton asked.
Those words sunk into my heart like two daggers.
“No,” I screamed, “no, Uncle, don’t!”
It was all Elsie could do to keep drag me away from the scene, and into the house. I fought with all my might but Elsie was twice as strong as I ever could be and she used every ounce of her strength to pull me inside. Once inside I tore from her grasped and racing up the stairs shut myself in my room, locking the door to keep anyone from going inside. Tears poured out of my eyes in uncontrollable measures. I couldn’t believe all this was happening. I fought to gather my emotions, to regain control of myself, but it was all too much for me, and before I knew it, the whole world was engulfed in blackness as I fell senseless on the floor.
My door being locked, and no one knowing that I had fainted, I’m not sure how long I was unconscious. I came to my senses at one point and it took me a while to remember all that had happened, but when it did come back I felt like I was living my worst nightmare. I didn’t know where to go, what to do. Sammy was being flogged because of me; I couldn’t bear to think of the thought, and I couldn’t not think of it at the same time. The whole night I spent in agony and horror. Pacing the room back and forth, I couldn’t settle down for the longest while. At exhaustion finally caught up with me and I fell asleep in a heap on the floor.
The next morning I woke up with Elsie trying to get me to let her in. I didn’t know what to do; I couldn’t face Elsie, not after what I had done to her brother. I would never be able to look into the eyes of any of the Climbs ever again.
“Sarah, for the love of God, let me in,” Elsie sounded desperate.
“Go away, Elsie,” I finally mumbled in a hoarse voice. I hadn’t eaten or drunken anything for over twelve hours.
“You’s let me into this room this very instant Miss Rose. Let me in, or I’ll break down the door!”
I knew she meant it; Elsie was capable of breaking down that door is she had too. I slowly got up from the floor, my muscles aching from the hard floor and haltingly I unlocked the door.
“Miss Sarah, the sight of you,” Elsie gasped when she saw me. My dress was wrinkled, my hair was a mess, my eyes were sulken and puffy from all the crying. I looked, in one word, awful.
“We’ve got to get you cleaned up right away.” She marched into the room and began rummaging through my closet for another dress. “You need a bath and then I’ll comb your hair and make you look like a human being again.”
“Elsie,” I spoke in a quiet voice. I was afraid of asking her, yet at the same time I just needed to know. “Sammy…” My voice faded as I stared at the floor.
“Alive and in the holding shed,” Elsie stated as she steered me toward the tub. “Took twenty five lashes yesterday.”
“TWENTY FIVE?” I was horrified.
“Lord love you, Sarah, it could have been fifty! It could have been one hundred! What is twenty five lashes for kissing the Massa's niece? That boy is more than fortunate, he ought to get down on his knees and thank the Lord for whatever lucky starts he was born with. I washed his wounds myself and he’s alright. I mean, as well as can be expected of course. It could have had it a lot worse, good heavens, the boy could have gotten himself hanged. Why if it had been the Massa Beverly who discovered a slave kissing his daughter or niece or whatever, he would have shot both guilty parties right then and there. You’s all lucky Massa Greensten is a lenient man. I can’t believe myself that all he gave Sam was twenty five lashes. I brought him some broth today and he’ll be fine in some time, though the wounds will need to heal of course. Now, get yourself into the bath, Miss Sarah. I’s always been a truthful girl and I can’t go to my brother and tell him you look like a ghost. Silly boy has been worrying about you all this time and made me promise I’d make sure you were alright.”
That was Sammy, that was every inch of Sammy. He had taken the entire punishment and he was still worrying about me. If I ever hated myself in my life, I sure hated myself then. I allowed Elsie to wash and dress me and brush out my tangled hair. I was like a silent lamb, following her about, doing whatever she told me to do.
“Come down for…”
“No! I’m not coming down for breakfast. I’m never coming out of this room.”
“But you need to eat, Miss Sarah.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“No dinner yesterday and no breakfast today, don’t be silly. Fine, I’ll bring it up here. But you eat will eat everything I bring you, you hear?”
I nodded my head and Elsie left, leaving alone on the bed, my head my hands. Presently she returned with a tray of food and set it on the table.
“Sarah,” Elsie turned to me in earnest, “just tell me the truth, did you and Sammy, you know…” she let her voice trail off but I got the point.
“Good Lord, Elsie, no.” The heat rose to my face at the thought she was implying. “It was an innocent love. I swear we never did anything of the kind. I should know too well how it could all end up.”
Elsie looked a little relieved, she sat down by me on the bed. “You see, I believe the Massa and Mistress, they, well, they are afraid it was more than just garden kissing.”
I sighed and rolled my eyes. Of course right away everyone assumed the worst of me, what, I couldn’t fall in love with someone and still keep my innocence about me? Was it so hard to believe that such a thing was possible? Or were they assuming this because of the rash steps my mother had taken in her youth that had led to my conception and birth?
I kept the room locked the entire day, only letting Elsie in and out. I think I would have never come down if Elsie had not been of the fixed opinion that I was not too stay up there and the next day forced me to go downstairs. Aunt Helen acted as though I wasn’t there, as for Uncle Andrew, he was polite but in a reserved, serious cold way. He’d never been like this to me before, and I wondered if it was going to be like this forever now. One thing I knew for sure, I had to see Sammy, but I didn’t know how to. Four days passed like this. On the fifth I decided I need to take some sort of action and find a way to talk to Sammy. I knew Uncle Andrew was watching my every moce, so I decided to see him when Uncle Andrew wouldn’t be around. I got up at five in the morning and tip-toed out of the house. I knew where the holding shed was and managed to get there without incident. The holding shed was a rough building made of thick wood. There was only one time window on at the top of one of the walls. The door was locked with a thick heavy lock.
I had no idea what I was going to say to him, what could I say?
“Sammy.” I said at last.
“How’d you get here?” His voice sounded from the other side of the wall.
“Same way I get anywhere, I walked.” I whispered.
“What time is it?”
“Around five in the morning.”
“What on earth…”
“It’s the only time I could get here without creating a ruckus,” I sighed and slid down the wall, sitting on the dew covered grass that surrounded the holding shed. “Sammy, I’m sorry for the way everything turned out.” I felt the tears coming to my face. “I should have been more on guard. I should have known where to draw the line, where to finally lay down the law. You were right when you said there was a gap between…”
“Did you really mean it, Sarah?” His deep voice cut me off in mid sentence.
“Would you really have run that knife through your heart with if Massa had killed me? Where you in earnest when you said that?”
“Yes, I was.”
“As honest as I’ll ever be.”
We were silent for a few minutes.
“Do you regret everything that happened?” He asked.
“I could never regret my love for you, only the fact that it is forbidden.”
“I only regret that uncle Andrew found out and took such drastic measures,” I sighed, my hands caressing the wooden walls of the shed.
“You couldn’t expect…”
“Sammy, don’t. Anything you say on the subject won’t make me feel any better.”
“Elsie says the Massa hasn’t been talking much to you.”
“He’s angry, so he’s distant. Aunt Helen pretends as though I’m just not there. I don’t mind though, her ignoring me is better than her lecturing me. Silence is always golden when it comes to Aunt Helen.”
“So, what now?”
I bit my lip. “I don’t know.” I stated in a low voice. “Everything has suddenly become so complicated, so tangled. Oh, Sammy, now more than ever I wish I had never been born. It seems I sow discoursed and destruction wherever I go. Starting with a rift between my aunt and uncle and now…”
“Sarah, when will you realize how beautiful you life is, and if others fail to recognize that, then it isn’t your fault.”
“Oh really, well, looking at my life at the moment and all it has done, it doesn’t seem very beautiful! At least not from my perspective.”
“You’ve got a terrible perspective on life. If I saw things the way you do, I’d be in constant depression. The only way I made it through any stage of my life was by trying to at least see something positive in my life.”
“Really? So can you see anything good about you living on a plantation as a slave?”
“Yes, it is thanks to the fact that I was a slave on this plantation that I was able to meet you. You have no idea, Sarah, what significance you have had on my life. I would have missed you even if I had never known you.”
I had to smile at this.
“You are the best thing that ever happened in my life, Sarah. In this lowly existence with no prospects, you were the one star that shone all the time. Is that not enough for you to realize that your life is not a waste?”
“If you had never known me, you wouldn’t be in that shed right now. You wouldn’t have been flogged.”
“How do you know that?” Sammy retorted. “Maybe you were the one person who kept me from doing something stupid that would get me into worse trouble than this. I suppose we could speculate what could have been if you had never been born, but the fact of the matter is, you were born! What is more, I believe God had a reason for you to be born, no matter what everyone else says, you just have to understand that. Until you do, you won’t ever find peace or happiness is your life.”
“I find peace and happiness when I am with you, Sammy. You’re the one reason I think life is worth living. With you out of my life, I don’t even think I have the strength to keep going.”
“But you know I’m not always going to be there, Sarah.” It was the first time Sammy had ever mentioned anything about separation. “I can’t fight for you all the time; you have to learn to fight for yourself. You have to learn to stand up for yourself and keep your dignity and self-respect.”
“I don’t think I have much of either.”
“Then you must find it, Sarah.”
I didn’t want to argue with him, so I said nothing more of the subject. Deep down, I knew he was right, but I wasn’t ready to cope with that fact yet. I couldn’t imagine life without Sammy there to help pull me through. He had only been in my life two years, but in those two years, he became someone I couldn’t live without.
The sun was already quite high and I knew I should get back before the house woke up and uncle Andrew discovered I was gone.
“I have to go now, Sammy,” I stated, “it’s getting late.”
“I’m glad you came to see me. I had to know that you were alright.”
“Of course I was alright. You are the one that is not alright.”
“I’m fine. I’m a lot tougher than you think, trust me, if I survived Thompson, Earl and Craige, I can survive just about anything. Just remember that I regret nothing and that I would go through it all again for you and your love. I’d march through hellfire for your love, Sarah. It’s the best thing that ever happened in my life.”
I smiled and gently kissed the wall, which on the other side, Sammy was leaning.
“I love you, Sammy.” I softly stated
“I love you too.”
Those words rang in my ears and burned into my heart as I quickly made my way back to the house.
Oh my, drama, drama, drama....what is going to happen now? I hope you are all looking forward to the next chapters :)
Oh, and for the next week I'm going to be posting a chapter a day, I hope this is good news for you :)
votes and comments are loved as always :)