It's All an Act

March 31, 2017

I wasn’t always stuck in a maid’s clothing. I wasn't always posed as a slave. For the past year, I've been hiding my true identity as a slave in Pennsylvania. It all started in 1777, when I got enlisted as a colonial spy. They came to my family’s home, said they see a special power in me and took me away to become a spy. I was very excited at first. But now it’s been a year. The excitement is gone, and being a slave isn’t the best thing to even pretend to be. They whip you, beat you, scream at you, treat you like you aren’t even a person, and sometimes they even go as far as branding you! I wouldn’t have accepted being a spy if they told me this was how I'd have to do it, but thanks to my loyalty for my beliefs, I haven't quit yet. It is now 1778. Everyday I listen in on my owner, Victor, and his companions’ conversations to get the information I need. Every night, I deliver more information to the general at Valley Forge. This is how my life has been for the past year. That's how I got to where I am today.

“Ann! Get in here!” I jumped as I heard Miss Sarah's harsh voice, calling for me. I obeyed her, and went to the parlor, where she was sitting on a dining chair. “Yes, Miss Sarah?” I said as I stepped into the room. “We need more water, girl. Go fetch some.” She demanded. “Yes, of course.” I replied, and went to get two empty buckets to fill. I left the house immediately, I didn't like to make her angry. She was the worst to get angry. Worse than Master Victor. She beat me with whatever was near. I always made sure I obeyed her, even though I'm technically not even her slave. General Washington “sold” me to them because he found out Master Victor was a British spy. He knew that's how we would get good information. So far, within this year all I've given them was good information. But, all I've received is harsh treatment.

“Ah!” The sudden shout and shoot of pain in my abdomen took me out of my thoughts. “Oh! I'm so sorry!” I apologized to the girl that I had just bumped into. I took a moment and studied her features. She was pale, with long brown hair. She was wearing a slightly ruby colored dress and her shoes looked like the cobbler had just made them. In comparison to me, she looked wealthy. I wanted to ask, but that wasn't important.“It’s alright.” She said to me. “Where are you heading?” “Just to the water pump.” I replied. “Mind if I tag along?” She asked me. “Sure, I don't mind.” I said. It would be nice to finally have someone to talk to.

Walking down to the water pump, I got to know her a bit. I found out her name was Elizabeth, and she was a patriot. But her family are all loyalists. She told me she kept it secret, and she was a spy. She looked serious enough. She told me that she delivered information to General James Mitchell Varnum everyday. How had i never met her before? On my commutes to Valley Forge? I decided I'd tell her. “I’m not actually a slave.” I blurted out. She looked at me with an expression of bewilderment. “What?” She asked me. “I'm..” I hesitated. I took a deep breath and told her everything. How I was recruited, how long I've been doing this, and how I deliver information. She took a step back, and suddenly got a huge smile on her face. “What?” I asked. “We should work together!” She said. I shook my head as I started to fill up a bucket with water. “I don't know, Elizabeth. I'm not really allowed out of the house.” I said, trying to get her to understand this wouldn't work. “Only if Miss Sarah allows me to.” “So how do you deliver your information to General Washington?” She asked me. “I sneak out at night.”

After I had finished filling both buckets, I told Elizabeth I had to go home. If I left Miss Sarah for too long, she would become suspicious of me. We definitely don't want that. I started walking back to the Davis home and once again got stuck in more thoughts.

Master Victor would be coming home tonight. He makes it 10 times harder to leave. He makes my real job easier and harder at the same time. He's the reason I got into this job. But he's barely around, which makes my job even harder. Sarah knows a bit about what he does, like where he goes and what he does on his missions. But she never speaks about it unless it is brought up. It's very hard to bring it up when you're her “slave”, trust me. It's the hardest thing to do.

When I returned, Sarah was on the phone talking to her sister. They have a conversation everyday. I put the buckets of water in the kitchen, and peeked around the corner to listen in on her. “Victor is finally coming home from Valley Forge.” I heard her say. What? Since when was he in Valley Forge? Wouldn't General Washington know? I listened again. “Yes, he's been there for a couple months, pretending to be a soldier but really he's getting information on how they fight. You know, to tell the army so we can beat them once and for all!” She sounded very excited over that last part. I have to tell General Washington. I need to know who Master Victor is pretending to be. “He's got a wig.” She said. “He's enlisted as a man named Franklin.”

That night, I waited until about 3am to leave. I had a lot to get off of my chest. I had found out the best information. They'll arrest him, for sure. That's what the police always did. No matter what side they were working for.

My journey was risky, as it always was. Trying to get past police dogs was the hardest part. I crept down the road as quietly as possible. Leaping into side bushes whenever I heard a noise. After about 30 minutes of this process, I made it. General Washington was waiting outside for me, as he always did. “General Washington Sir, I have some big news.” I started. “Go on.” He told me. “Victor has tricked us! He's disguised as some lad named Franklin enlisted as your soldier!” I exclaimed. “What!?” He said, surprised. “He's got a wig, and probably different clothing. He usually wears a beard so he probably shaved it.” I explained. “Yes, I understand. We’ll have to get the police straight away.” He said. “Yes, Sir.” I responded, and turned on my heel to walk home. He grabbed my arm. “Ann, do you know what this means?” He asked me. “You don't have to go back.” “What? I don't?” I asked. “No, with Victor finally in jail, you don't have to be a spy for me any longer. You've risked your life for us for a whole year. It's finally paid off, and you can get back to your life. Outside of the colonies.” He smiled at me. “And thank you for your service. Oh! Wait right there.” He turned around and walked inside. I had never been more confused.

He came back out a few moments later, with a bag filled with shillings. “Your pay.” He said with a smile. I smiled back as I took the bag. “Thank you.” I said. “The boat will be here to ship you back to your family in the morning.”

The next day, I saw Elizabeth again. I told her what was happening. “Let me come.” She said when I finished. “Let me on the boat with you.” “What?” I asked. “Please. I don't like it at my house. I have to hide my true beliefs and I wish to be able to argue when they're talking about the British but I can't. I have no freedom. Please.” She begged. I sighed and said, “Okay.”

General Washington did just as he said. He got Victor arrested, gave me my pay, and then he got the boat to ship me back to my family. Elizabeth tagged along.

I'm happy to say I'm no longer stuck in a maid’s clothing. I am no longer stuck, hiding my identity as a slave in Pennsylvania, in the 13 colonies.

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