Author's Note: I'm not sure how accurate this is. I wanted to capture the thoughts of a teenage daughter of a Virginian plantation owner during Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion . Events are actual events that happened. Nat Turner and Mr. Travis are real people. For those of you who don't know this takes place in Jerusalem, Virginia on August 22, 1831.
~A Story from Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion~
"Hattie, wake up!" a voice screamed at me. It was an earthquake or so I thought. Now looking back, I wish that it had just been an earthquake.
I stirred and found myself staring into the brown eyes of my servant girl, Mary. "Wh-what is it?" I asked. My voice was heavy with sleep.
Mary threw some clothes at me. "Miss, you must hurry!"
I sat up and tossed the clothes to the side. "Why?'
Mary looked away and did not answer.
"Mary, answer me at once!" I commanded. Even though Mary was considered to be a member of the family, she was still after all a slave. Slaves must listen to whoever owns them.
"Nat Turner," she said. Her voice was coated with fear.
I had heard of Nat Turner. He belonged to one of our neighbours, Mr. Travis. He was known to be a good slave, hard working, and whenever he was sold fetched a good price at auction. He was also a man of God. His sermons travelled throughout the slave quarters. I guess they were supposed to be good, but I had never attended one. Nat never did anything wrong; Mary was probably just excited that was coming to our home.
That had to be it. I just knew it.
I threw on the clothes. "When will he be here?'
Mary was shaking now. "Within a few minutes," she whispered. "Hattie, he's killed seventeen people."
I froze. This was not the Nat Turner I had heard about. "You're joking."
Mary shook her head. "I'm afraid not, miss."
Miss, she never called me miss. It was always Hattie, just Hattie. This was serious. Nat Turner was coming. He was coming to kill us.
Mary pulled me out of the room. "The others are warning your family. The field workers are out setting the animals free."
By animals, I knew she meant horses. If Turner had horses, his army would be next to unstoppable. Even though, Mary had not said army I knew. There was no way that one man could kill seventeen people. It was no longer him, it was they. Horses were bad news, but if they were armed, we were doomed.
Mary pulled me down the stairs. "Miss, I must warn you. They are armed."
This news made my heart stop. We did not stand a chance. We were going to die. I did not let my fears reach my face. I must not show that I was afraid.
I looked around, but saw no one. "Mary, where is everyone?"
Mary just noticed, like me, that no one else was around. "I don't know," she whispered. She clung to me.
I listened. The plantation was deathly quiet. It was very strange. Normally, there was some kind of noise. The only noise was coming from the soft, ticking of the grandfather clock in the parlour. Something was wrong.
Something was very wrong.
The curtain blew in from an open entrance hall window. An awful scent followed it in. I breathed in. It was smoke. Something was on fire.
Dragging Mary, I ran out the door. All around me, there was a red fire storm. Our crops were on fire! I started to run off the porch to help put the fire out, then froze. There was no cries for help to put the flames out. There was nothing, only silence.
Mary was hitting my arm trying to get my attention. I looked at her. Her eyes were wide and she had her hand over her mouth. It was as if she wanted to scream, but could not. I followed her eyes to the porch floor.
That was when I saw the still body. It was my father. He was dead.
And his head had been detached from his body.
The porch around him was blood red.
I screamed and started to run toward my father.
Mary grabbed me and put her other hand over my mouth. However, it was too late. They had heard us. Before we could move, a whizzing noise erupted from the shadows. When I realized what it was, it was too late to move.
Closer and closer it came.
Then, there was nothing.
On this day, August 22, 1831, my life was over.
The Letter Writer by Ann Rinaldi