A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 126: Two Journeys North
Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran
Edited: nnpdad 3 May 2021
Sunday morning, and I was scheduled to speak with the slaves over breakfast. We had arranged with the livery the night before for rental of three wagons to use through the coming week. We had an awful lot of goods to transport around. Amos, Jeb, Timmons, and I loaded our riding tack into one of the wagons first thing Sunday morning and headed out to breakfast with our new contingent of hopefully convertible slaves. I say hopefully because there were no guarantees that all of them would be able to break themselves out of a lifetime of habits or the artificial security of the world they’d always lived in. A few of these folks would be like lifers finally released from the penitentiary, only to find a world they weren’t prepared to cope with. That was a lesson hard learned from the failures of the emancipation process. Too many newly freed people failed miserably and ended up back in the same basic position, only under worse circumstances.
Our noses led us to the camp, which turned out to be further outside of town than I’d supposed. They’d found a nice area, however, with a clean running brook to serve their water needs. Most of them seemed to be in good spirits, especially if you simply ignored those who appeared to be the perennial complainers. You get those who refuse to be happy, regardless of what you try. In this case, they’d already had a good supper and a warm, dry place to sleep. They also had a breakfast of hot coffee, bacon, grits, and fresh bread waiting for them. I needed them well rested when the journeys home started; it wouldn’t be an easy trip no matter the route.
Quick introductions were made and I announced that it was past time for all of us to eat - women and children first, if you please. I asked Sheriff to offer a quick prayer to start the meal and he demurred. His wife offered in his place, which was fine by me. A fast grace by her and everyone started to dig in. It was very good food, definitely made by experienced hands that cared. Amos had three helpings; you’d think we’d starved that boy. I had sausage gravy with biscuits, thick slices of bacon, and fresh bread. That stuffed me almost to a food coma.
The problem was that I didn’t have much of a voice left after yesterday’s antics. I was hoarse and it just got worse if I raised my voice. So I briefed Timmons and Sheriff and forced them to do the talking. Well, neither one of them seemed to be much good at public speaking. Mrs. Sheriff jumped in again, with the three of us feeding her info and answers to questions. It wasn’t the smoothest of solutions, but it would work while my voice recovered.
In general, we read the Rules of Rulo to them and publicly answered any questions that felt valid enough to deserve a public answer. We kept that short since it could easily go on all day. They were reassured that monthly public meetings would be held on the rules in Rulo. The same questions kept popping up, always with just a minor twist. I wondered if many people just wanted it to be known that they existed.