Chapter 20: Benji Ross
1850 – Dorchester County, Maryland, America
It’s a curious thing, the idea of Minty bein’ free. In our world, she was a wanted woman. There were posters pinned up with her likeness on it everywhere. Took two whole weeks before anyone even noticed she was gone. ‘Cept my mama, she knew. When the slave trader came around the next time was the first time she was glad about it. The hauser said Minty come back to Dorchester and helped some other folk go north. I had a hard time believin’ it only ‘cause we never did see her. You’d think she’d pop in and say hello, let us know how that freedom is workin’ out for her.
Our everyday life went on like normal.
As the Thompson plantation and the Brodess place merged together, I met a woman named Kesha. She’s ‘bout the prettiest thing I ever did see. Wasn’t but a few months and we fell in love. Doc had me runnin’ back and forth between the two places doin’ this and that so I was able to see Kesha almost daily. Sometimes I’d stay the night with her, but she still was in her parent’s quarters too and it was crowded about anywhere we went.
As we all turned into adults it seemed our quarter got smaller. Ma usually stayed with Pa now he was manumitted, it was nice to see them on Sundays lookin’ like a free couple. She still did most the cookin’ for the Brodess place; Missus Mary would have starved to death if it weren’t for Mama.
Linah took over a bunch of Mama’s duties, though. She seemed to be runnin’ both big houses, delegatin’ what needed to be done. She had two more children with Isadore and Charlotte’s oldest son, Phillip. They had a boy and a girl. It seemed only natural for them to become a family since we all grew up together. He moved from his parent’s cabin to ours. Then there was still Rachel, Robert, Harry, and me in the same ten by ten cabin I’d been in all my life.
Around plantin’ time, I was up at the Thompson place helpin’ Kesha and her sister with the seed sortin’. She excused herself and we could hear her throwin’ up just outside the door. Her sister rolled her eyes at me; it just made me confused. Sometimes I just don’t understand women. I went out to check on my love and her face was ashen gray, her hands were shakin’, and there were little sweat drops on her forehead.
“You alright?” I asked. She started cryin’ and noddin’ which just confused me
more, then she told me we’d be expectin’ our first baby ’bout Christmastime.