The Underground Railroad
Chapter 1Beatrice walked into her hut and slumped to the floor. It had been a long and tiring day caring for the mistress. It’s not that Mary wasn’t nice, but it was just hard work. Mary was not bossy, unlike her husband James. James was cruel and didn’t treat anyone fairly. He whipped slaves if they didn’t work hard, no matter what their health condition was. The James Hall Plantation was in Southern Carolina, the place where slaves were treated the worst. Beatrice was a 14 year old girl, and was a slave to James. She had never seen any of her extended family. The only people she had known in her life were her mother, father, and their friend Tom. Tom was also a slave for James, and he shared a hut with Beatrice’s family.
Just then, Tom burst in, full of sweat from running. Before he could catch his breath, he yelled out, “Beatrice, run! They are looking for slaves to trade with the David Plantation down the road!” At this, Beatrice jumped up. Every slave knew about the David Plantation. The owner was meaner then James. There were rumors that he watched slaves suffer just for the fun of it. Fortunately, Beatrice and Tom had planned on what to do if something like this ever happened.
“Where are mother and father?” Beatrice asked.
“They are already there, come when you are ready, I will meet you there.” Tom said with a wink. Smiled, then he left.
Beatrice’s heart melted. Even in this time of fear he was still able to remain confident. And that smile, every time she saw it, so felt like she could fly. Then Beatrice sighed with relief. She was glad that Tom had taken care of her parents for her, and now she knew that they wouldn’t be in trouble. She and Tom had made up a plan that if anything bad would ever happen, they would gather up all the food they could find, and head towards the creek bank. None of the slaves would ever go there because that was where James whipped the slaves, some even to death. Everyone was afraid that if they went there, ghosts of previous slaves would come after them, seeking revenge. But Beatrice and Tom knew better than that, so they had made that their permanent hiding spot.
Beatrice took the few belongings they had and put it all in a sack. She also tossed in a few chunks of bread and some now moldy cheese they had left over. She threw on her tattered cloak over her worn out work dress and ran out the door.
Just as she was nearing the creek, a hand reached out and grabbed her. Beatrice twisted around to see who it was, but as soon as she heard the voice, she knew, and her fists clenched in hatred.
“Hello Beatrice, where are you going this fine afternoon?” James’ son, Richard, asked. Beatrice had run into Richard before, and nothing ever good came of it. He was just like his father, cruel and mean.
“Why would you care?” Beatrice asked, not daring to look into his eyes.
“I was just wondering why my father’s slaves is running in the opposite way they were summoned. And for that, I will make sure that you are the first slave to be picked to go to the David Plantation.” And with that, Richard yanked Beatrice towards the wagon that was waiting to take her far away from the only home that she had ever known.
Beatrice struggled with all her might, but Richard was just too strong for her. Beatrice gave up, but then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a figure hiding in the bushes. Tom, she though, he will be able to help me! Her hopes were high, but then Tom turned his back. And without a sound, he was gone.
Beatrice’s hopes fell again, and she lost all hope of ever seeing her parents again. And Tom? How dare he desert her, after all they had been through! With these thoughts spinning around in her head, Richard tossed her into the wagon. Beatrice sat in the wagon while some others slaves joined her. Then with a lurch, the wagon started to move.