Slaves of Passion
by Patricia Stinson
A cool breeze swept through the open verandah door, swirling dust down a long, polished hallway where Yatima, the mulatto slave girl, placed table linens in a cupboard. She welcomed the wind's breath and paused to wipe the sweat from her cream-colored face and to rub her stomach bump, which pushed her skirt slightly forward. Walking silently on bare feet down the hall toward the back veranda, she wanted to leave unseen by anyone who might give her another chore to do. Her heartbeat was faster as she thought of going to the tobacco curing sheds. Will Atsah be in the shed today? He said he would return at the third full moon, and that was two nights ago. The veranda door leading into the library closed with a thud and popped open. She stopped in the hallway to listen.
"Charles, we must talk now." Sarah Braddock entered the library and strode over to the settee where her hooped skirt brushed against the fine brocade upholstery. I will not have her around here anymore. You need to sell her at once. It is a disgrace. Word is going to get out our son is the father of that colored woman's pickaninny."
"Sarah, I have already made arrangements with Foster Hicks to buy Yatima and the pickaninny after she delivers." Charles closed the door until it latched.
"Foster Hicks' plantation is only a day's journey. You must send them farther away. Sell them at auction. Do it now, before it is born. Yatima should not have been brought here."
"You know why I did."
"Yes! to rub my face in your brother's dirty carryings-on. I merely flirted with Jacob before our marriage. That was years ago, and you have never let me forget it."
"Yours was not a harmless single flirtation. You loved Jacob, but you married me because, as the eldest son, I inherited the plantation. You thought you would stay in contact with him, and no one would think it strange for you to see your brother-in-law, all the while enjoying the luxuries I provide." Charles forced himself to keep his voice from rising as he spat out the words. "You were engaged to me when he took that colored woman as his mistress, and she bore his child. When she and Jacob died from malaria, I had to bring that young girl here."
"Why didn't you keep Yatima in the slave quarters until she was old enough to go into the tobacco fields? You did not need to bring her into the house as a slave playmate for our son."Sarah spoke through clenched teeth.
"The slaves knew who the child's father was, and most of the white folks did too. How could I send her out to work in the fields?" Charles snickered to himself, recounting the enjoyment he received each time he witnessed his wife's reaction when she glanced at the child only to be reminded Jacob preferred a black woman over her. He turned his back on his wife and walked to the bookshelf so she would not see the disdain on his face. He randomly pulled a book from the shelf and leafed through the pages.
"Now, sixteen years later, look at the mess we are in," Sarah said. "Our son is the father of the pickaninny she is carrying. What if he goes over to Foster Hick's place at night to visit her? Word will get out. Then do you think your special arrangement of combining two plantations into one with our son's marriage to the Patterson girl is going to happen? Not likely!"
"We are not sure the child is Edward's."
"He is bragging about being the father. You owe George Hanley money from gambling debts, don't you?" Sarah's voice showed her contempt for her husband.
"Yes, and I will pay him. Why do you bring that up?"
"Send Yatima to him now--as payment--and he can have the pickaninny as part of his compensation."
"I owe more than the price of one house slave and her future offspring."
"Then send other slaves with her. His plantation is a month's travel from here. Edward would not be able to be with her again. Do it, Charles. Do it, or I will make sure your plans for the Patterson marriage never happen." Sarah Braddock stood. She marched to the door and put her hand on the handle. "Count on it."
In a flash, Yatima scurried down the hall and out the verandah. She ran beneath the portico and down a grassy hill to a path leading into the dense woods flush with tulip trees, sweetgums, and magnolias bordered a wide river leading to the Mississippi. Her bare feet made little puffs of dust rise from the dirt on the forest floor. Every few paces, she turned her head to glance back at the main house to be sure she had not been followed.
Her body jerked sideways as an arm pulled her off the path into a thicket of bushes. A young, brown-haired youth held her against the rough bark of sweetgum. He let go of her arm, leaving an imprint of his finger on her skin. He smiled as he rubbed her belly.
"That is mine, all mine."
Yatima saw the cocky, proud as a strutting peacock look in his eyes. As a child, she learned never to show her feelings but to act the way whites expected her to act. She changed her expression from fear and worry and instead began to tease and flirt, which she knew pleased him. Leaning toward him, she nibbled his ear and whispered, "What does it matter, Master Edward, if it is yours? Your father will sell me and send me away. I heard the missus tell the Master she didn't want me around here where folks can see what we have done."
Edward chuckled. "We do not want a pickaninny running about looking like the Master's scion, do we? Don't fret. You will be brought back after it is old enough to be cared for by a mammy at the new plantation. It will not even miss you. There will be more babies with me."
She leaned back against the tree as Edward bent his head to kiss her neck and shoulders. He pulled her down onto the damp soil. The smell of rotting leaves mingled with the sweat of their bodies. Her body tensed. She hoped he would not go too far in his heat as she had no way to refuse him.
"You do not have complaints, do you?" Edward said with a laugh.
"Complaints? No. Tending to the house is easy compared to a field hand's life. I was raised by Mammy Jem in the kitchen, and I have looked after you since you were able to walk."
"Yes, we played together when we were children, and we still play together, don't we?" Edward nuzzled Yatima's neck. "After I marry Milicent Patterson, I'll unite her property with ours, and someday I will inherit both plantations. You will stay in the upstairs quarters and serve the house. Of course, you can keep all our babies, not in the main house, but I will not sell them. You can go to them anytime you want in the slave quarters."
"Miss Millicent won't allow me in the house."
"She will not have any say in what I do. Many owners have their black mistresses live in the big house for their Master's convenience. No one says anything. I love you, Yatima. I could not live without you."
"Miss Millicent is beautiful. You will love her someday."
"Oh, I will do my duty to her and give her babies to carry, and I will want a son by her to inherit the two plantations, but I will not love her as I do you. Never!" Edward drew back a little and stared at Yatima's mischievous eyes. "It is my baby, right? You did not betray me?"
"Master Edward, everyone knows I belong to your daddy. No one would touch me without his say so."
"I noticed the way you eyed that mountain man who stayed at the overseer's house some months ago. You had plenty of chances to be with him."
"I peered at him because I never beheld anyone like him before. He wore clothes made of animal skins, and he had a lot of hair on his face and past his shoulders. But he ain't been here for months. He traveled down the river to sell his furs and then go back to the mountains. He ain't going to remember me."
"If father did not want to extend his holdings across the Mississippi, he would not have invited that barbaric creature to stop here. However, I want to know for sure this is my baby."
"Why, what would you do if he were the father, Master Edward? She giggled at her own saucy retort. "Are you jealous?"
"Yes, I am jealous. I am jealous of anyone who beholds your beauty and puts his hand on you. I would kill you, the pickaninny, and him if I thought you could lie with a Yankee heather."
"Why is he a heather?"
"He is half Indian."
Edward rubbed her arm and then caressed her breast over her apron. He moved his body against hers. Yatima read his eyes; his desire deepened with each moment he looked at her.
"Don't, Master Edward; you'll hurt the baby, and your daddy would be upset. I've been sent to get the bossman at the wharf, so I must go. If you want, you could make up an excuse to come to the kitchen house later, and we could sneak out for a few minutes."
"All right, Yatima, for now. However, you did not answer my question."
"What question, Master Edward?"
"Who is the father?"
"No one else but you. You're stud enough. A girl can't want any other after you. " Her smile gleamed and enhanced her beauty.
"True, Yatima!" Edward smiled, and his eyes danced to the flattery. He kissed the hollow spot on her neck as she gently pushed him away. They got up from the damp soil. He lustfully stared at her swaying skirt as she swished her hips back and forth. He headed up the track to the main house while whistling in the glory of his touted manhood.
* * *
This is the first chapter of Slaves of Passion. Yes, it is available on Amazon. So, you might ask, "Why didn't you let folks know before Christmas? They could buy copies for gifts."
I didn't do that as I do not want to be part of commercialism. I want to remember what Christmas is, not to make money, but celebrate our Savior's birth.
Having said that, I admit I am a hypocrite as I enjoy buying gifts. The Wise Men brought gifts (not on the day Christ was born, however), and I like to give to others in that spirit.
So, if you are interested in my book, it is at Amazon, and there are birthdays, Valentine's Day, and other celebration times for gifts. And you may want to read the story for yourself. There are happy times and sad times, as there are in life.
For each book sold, I get royalties, and 10% goes to the MS Society. My sister and a niece have MS. There is no cure.
If you don't buy a book, it is okay. I won't know, and I really do not care. I have fun writing.
I hope the New Year is going well for you. Stay well.