Dedicating this chapter to Gisele Matheus Johnson for being so kind and helping me with the Italian that I didn't know, but needed for the story :) Thank you so much :)
“Oh but Sammy, it can’t, it can’t be true.”
“It is true Sarah, I’s leaving in an hour or so. Thought I’d come over and say goodbye.”
“This isn’t fair!”
“Course it ain’t, nothing in the life of a slave is fair. We are bought and sold like cattle, today we belong to one master, tomorrow to another.”
I couldn’t bear to hear Sammy speaking like that, but what could I do? I wrung his hand. “Goodbye Sammy, I’ll really miss you.” I felt the tears coming and on a sudden impulse I reached over and hugged him. He responded in a very awkward way, sort of hugged me back. I didn’t care; I clung to him with all my nine year old might. Sammy was my friend, and with a snap of the fingers, I had suddenly lost him. Lost him for no good reason. At last he told me I had to let him go. I obeyed and pressing his hand in my one last time, ran off before I let my emotions get the better of me in front of him. I didn’t want him to think me a crybaby.
I was so miserable I didn’t come out of my room for the whole day. I watched from my window with tears in my eyes as a cart arrived and Sammy, climbed into it. All too soon he was out of sight. Poor Sam! He was going away from his mother and father and sisters, to live alone with people like the Thompsons. What would they do with him? How would they make him work? Would they send him to the cotton fields? Sammy was meant to be a gardener; he loved plants and things that grew, it would be terrible unfair is they sent him to toil in the cotton fields. How lonely I would be with him gone! Who would I do my homework with? Who would help me solve the mathematics problems? Who would I read with? Who would I play with? Why was it that those who were most dear to me were the ones I would suddenly lose? Getting up, I opened my closet and ran my fingers over mother’s old dress. I always felt nearer to her when I touched the faded fabric. I gently traced the seams of the dress and presently my hand reached the pocket. I put my hand in it and suddenly felt something crinkly. I grasped the object and pulled it out. It was a slip of paper, folded into four. It was a yellow color, obviously quite old. It had managed to escape being noticed when I had packed it and when Elsie had hung it up. I walked back to my bed and sitting down, carefully unfolded the paper. Obviously the little scrap had been folded and unfolded many times, I could tell by the creases. There were words written on the inside, but they didn’t make any sense to me:
Io vivo solo per te
hai conquistato il mio cuore
Il mio cuore
La mia mente
La mia anima
Io sono tuo per sempre
Il mio pensiero a te ricorre
Si tiene il mio
Ogni battito del cuore
Mi perdo nel mio amore
I figured it must be in some different language, and from the way it was structured it seemed as though it were a poem. I sat holding the paper and wondering if it was a poem penned by mama or someone else.
A knock sounded on my door, followed by Elsie’s voice calling me to come down for dinner.
“Thank you Elsie, I’m not very hungry,” I replied, “I don’t feel like going down to dinner today.”
On a normal basis, I would have never dared to not go down for dinner. Aunt Helen would never give me any peace later about what a horribly brought up child I was, with no manners at all. Today somehow, the sudden going away of Sammy, with no logical explanation made me less afraid of what my aunt Helen would say. Elsie tried to persuade me, but my mind had been made up and I wasn’t going downstairs. She gave up at last and went to inform my aunt and uncle of my refusal to come and eat. I remained seated on the bed, contemplating how unfair everything in this world was. Someone knocking on the door again broke my chain of thouhts
“You can come in, Elsie,” I called.
The door creaked open and my uncle Andrew entered.
“Not quite Elsie,” he said, “but I hope I can still come in.”
“Oh, I’m sorry uncle, I thought you were Elsie.” I hesitated, then turned my attention back to the paper in my hands. I was rather shy of my uncle; he was so large and so stern. He walked over and sat on the edge of my bed.
“What is the matter, Sarah?” He asked me at length. “Why didn’t you want to come down for dinner? Why are you so downcast?”
I sighed. “Why did he have to go away sir?”
“Yes. What did he mean when he said that he had been willed to another person? Didn’t my grandfather die a long time ago? I don’t understand. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“Let me see if I can explain. Your late grandfather was friends with the present Mr. Thompson. Now it seems at one visit Mr. Thompson’s wife took a fancy to young Sam and thought he would make a good little slave for her. But she didn’t want the boy at the moment, because he was too young. I don’t know what exactly it was that Mr. Thompson did or said, but somehow he weaseled and cajoled your grandfather to put down in his will that when Sam turned twelve years of age, an age that suited Mrs. Thompson, he would be given over to Mrs. Thompson as a parting gift from Mr. Beverly. Sam has turned twelve and I am obligated to give him up.”
“But he was my friend, sir,” I blurted out, “who will I play with now? This isn’t fair. Not fair at all! And what of Em and Ben? How do you suppose they feel having their son taken away from them?”
“I’m sorry Sarah, but what can I do? The law demands that I give up Sam. It’s written black on white in the last will and testament of Mr. Beverly. If I didn’t give him to Mr. Thompson, we would have to go to court and no doubt in the end Sam would have to leave anyway.”
“But why, why must they be treated in this manner? To be bought and sold, to be left in a will like a thing. Don’t you think it wrong, uncle?” I looked earnestly in his eyes, trying to find some meaning to my confusion.
“It’s just the way things are, Sarah,” He simply stated.
“Whatever put it into my grandfather’s head to be persuaded like that? I can’t believe it, I just can’t! I’ve heard the the Climbs have always been part of this household, how could he suddenly give one up like that?”
“Not so surprising, considering your grandfather…” Uncle Andrew abruptly stopped in midsentence. I looked at him expectantly, but he shook his head, showing he wasn’t going to finish his sentence.
Too afraid to push him to continue, I sadly looked at my hands again. His gaze followed mine and rested on the paper in my hands.
“What is it you have there?” He asked.
“It’s a paper, I pulled it out of mama’s dress.”
“Your mother’s dress?” He looked at me with a puzzled expression on his face.
“I have her old dress, it is in the closet. I couldn’t give it up when I came here. I feel like it is the tie that keeps me bound to my mother, and when I am sad or lonely I curl up in it and feel close to her. Today I discovered this in the pocket. There’s something written on it, but I can’t understand what.”
“May I see?”
I handed the paper to him and he studied it for a few minutes.
“I’d say it is Italian, could be Spanish, but I’m more inclined to believe its Italian. I don’t speak either language, so I’m afraid I can’t help much with find out what is written. Looks like a poem of some sort.”
“That’s what I thought too. Mama wrote a little poetry, but she never wrote in any language other than English, and this doesn’t look like her handwriting.”
“I wonder,” my uncle drew his attention to the lower right corner of the paper, “there seems to be something scribbled here! Only I can’t quite make out what.” He studied it for a while longer, than gave up. “I suppose we’ll never know who wrote this. Did your mother know any foreigners?”
I shrugged. “Mr. Hosehigh and his family were Irish, I don’t know if that counts as foreigners. Maybe some immigrants at the factory, but mother never discussed her work with me, so I wouldn’t have a clue. If she knew any foreginers before she had me, I certainly wouldn't know about it. Her past is something she never spoke of, not to me, not to anyone. I suppose I’ll put the paper back into her pocket, I found it there and that is where it belongs." Gently, I took the paper out of his hand. I ran my eyes over the strange words, wondering who could have written them and what they could possibly mean.
“You know, mother had a thing with collecting papers,” I told him as I put the paper back. “I brought an entire stack of them with me from Boston. Most of it is poetry written by her and then there are some scraps from famous poets I suppose she must have really liked.”
“Perhaps in these poems and papers we could find a clue to who your father is?” My uncle suggested.
I sadly shook my head. “Mrs. Hosehigh and I went through them before I left. There’s no mention of my father in them. No letters, no notes, nothing. Most of her poems are sad love poems, poems of love lost and/or forgotten. That is how I guessed that my father had really broken my mother’s heart. There is nothing there to even give a hint of his name. Mama seems to have not wanted anyone to find out and destroyed all the evidence.”
“How come you never asked her?” His voice was gentle and sympathetic not harsh like my aunt's, I didn’t get offended at him for asking the question. I understood he was sincerely interested.
“I sort of did once. I came up to her and asked her where my father was? She burst into tears, and taking me in her arms said, ‘where is he? Oh Sarah, he will come back, won’t he, won’t he? But how will he find us if he doesn’t know where to look?’ She cried and cried and I decided that was the last I would ever mention my father to my mother. I couldn’t bear seeing her in so much distress. She must have had a reason for not telling me, and honestly sir, I don’t care to know who he is. I don’t want to have anything to do with him. Whoever he was, to me, he is the man who ruined my mother’s life. The less I know about him, the better.”
He reached over and stroked my hair in a rather awkward fashion. The way of a man who doesn't know how to properly handle children, but wants to somehow give comfort.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said at last, “you have a new life here and everything about your past life is gone forever. Forget it, Sarah. Forget that man, whoever he is, he is not a part of your life and you have no reason to think of him. Now, are you sure you don’t want any supper?”
I thought for a moment. I really was hungry and maybe supper wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Uncle had soothed me a bit and though I still felt the unfairness of all that had happened today, perhaps it would be alright to eat something. Besides, if I went down, maybe I could give poor Em a hug. How cruel of my grandfather to steal her child away from her like that.
“I guess I do,” I said at length.
“I thought so,” he smiled, “come on.”
He stood up and I followed him. Together we walked out of me room and down the staircase. Somewhere along the way, I don’t know exactly when, my tiny hand slipped into his large one and for the first time I understood what it must feel like to have a father in your life.
Poor Sam :( How cruel that he is seperatd from him family and from Sarah! How will the two of them meet again? ;) You'll find out as more chapters are posted :)
Oh, and who could be the author of the little Italian poem? Don't you all just love a mystery :) Look out, this story has several of them ;)
Votes and comments are greatly appreciated :)