Light and Dark

During the middle 1800s in the southern United States of America, black people were forced into slavery due to the belief of white people having superiority over them. Not all white people felt this was right, however. This story is about a young slave named Anna and the friendship she develops with her new master's son, Jacob. The two look out for each other, and learn the value of true loyalty, especially when one of them is put to the ultimate test.

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6. Escaping

All afternoon I am shown my work areas and duties by Mistress Caroline. Since I primarily help Master Jacob, my main station is his room. Others include the washing basin outside, for laundry, the kitchen to fix any food in between meals, and -

"His tree house," Mistress Caroline repeats.

I look between her proud face and the odd structure above our heads. "I'm sorry, Madam, but I still don't understand. What is the purpose of a tree house if Master Jacob has shelter in the manor?" Would anyone not prefer living in a beautiful large house to a shack of wood in a tree?

She smiles at me, amused by my confusion. "Jacob does not live in the tree house, dear Anna. He merely uses it to escape to his own little world, on occasion."

I try to wrap my head around the strange ways of white people. "What is he escaping, Madam?"

For a single moment, her face falls ever so slightly. It is the most subtle of changes and then she is right back to smiling broadly again. "Oh, nothing. He is not escaping from anything, only running towards something." She is a very good actress, but I can see the lie in her eyes. My mama always told me that eyes are the windows to your soul. I do not know about that, since I have met plenty of soulless people who are pretty bad actors, but I can still tell that she was on to something.

I decide to play along. "Where does he go?"

She shakes her head, returning her attention to the shack. "I do not know." And then, quietly, to herself: "But I wish that I could come with him."

One of the benefits of being a child and being a slave is that everyone lets their guard down around you.

She clears her throat. "When Jacob comes here, he usually wants food or extra supplies that he forgot." I nod. "He has a bell up there that he will ring. I am not sure of how you will give him his requests, but I have no doubt that you two will work something out."

All I think is that Master Jacob should be prepared to climb down when I bring his necessities, for I am deathly afraid of heights.

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