It was a sunny Saturday morning when Eli decided to go for a walk down to the cotton fields. His father was down in the cotton fields overseeing the process, along with the task masters. Eli rubbed the beads of sweat that clung to his forehead with his arm and sighed. He pulled at the collar of his white shirt and at the moment he wished for a cool drink of water.
When he reached the cotton field he stopped and shielded his eyes from the sun. He scanned his eyes over the large cotton field and watched as many slaves were busy picking the white pieces of cotton. He soon spotted the girl he had seen the other day and watched her as she worked. A large brown sack with a strap was hanging over her shoulder and she was picking the cotton and putting it into the sack. She stopped for a moment and touched her aching back. Her straw hat shielded her from the sun but still it was scorching down upon her. She glanced up at the blue sky and heaved a heavy sigh.
At that moment Jameson, one of the task masters, ran over to her and raised his short whip to strike her.
"You'd better get back to work girl!" Jameson yelled striking the girl on the arm.
Eli watched in horror as the whip hit the girl's arm. He started through the cotton field at a fast pace, not really knowing what he was doing. He walked over to Jameson and jerked the whip from the man's hand.
"Jameson! You know that we don't treat slaves like that. I don't want you to ever pull another stunt like that again," Eli said angrily to the shocked taskmaster.
"Yes Sir, if you say so Mr. Eli," the taskmaster said turning and walking away.
"Are. . .are you alright?" Eli asked turning to face the slave girl.
She lowered her eyes and nodded her head in a 'yes'. Eli looked down at her tanned arm and saw a welt starting to form.
"Perhaps you should have someone take a look at that," Eli said.
The girl didn't say anything, instead she just stood perfectly still, terrified.
"I'd. . .better get back to work Master," the girl finally said.
"Of. . .course," Eli said as he turned and slowly walked away.
The slave girl watched him walk away and she had a frightened, yet puzzled, look in her eyes. That night in the little cabin she was staying in with another elderly slave, Tilley, the girl began to talk about it.
"Tilley, I just can't believe it! He was so kind to me," the girl said.
"Nicoma honey, you'd betta be careful. The Masta's son is a kind hearted soul but he's still a man," Tilley said sitting down on the wood floor of the cabin.
"Oh I don't think he means me any harm but I've noticed him watching me. Oh how I wish that I wasn't a. . .slave," Nicoma said with a sigh.
"Well baby you are and there aint nothin' you can do about dat," Tilley replied.
"It isn't fair. I was never a slave before, until they found out that my Papa was a Negro," Nicoma said.
"You're just gonna have to get used to dis life," Tilley said.
Nicoma sighed and went to look out the opened door. Stars were shining up in the night sky and a cool breeze was blowing.
"Baby, I'm gonna go to sleep and you'd better too," Tilley said as she laid down on her straw pallet.
Nicoma waited until the older woman started snoring softly and then she stepped outside into the cool night air. She knew she was taking a big risk on leaving the cabin but she longed to go for a walk. She walked through the tall oak trees that were behind the cabins. She smiled to herself at the feeling it gave her to just go for a walk. It made her feel free again. As she walked along she came upon a little stream that was flowing through the small cluster of trees. She knelt down in front of the stream and slowly she placed her hand in the cold trickling water. As she sat there feeling of the cool water suddenly she heard a twig snap behind her and she froze in fear.
To Be Continued. . .