The rattling chains chilled Drake’s blood. Leaning back, he trembled as O’Hara threaded the chain through a metal loop screwed into the wagon’s floor, and fastened the shackles to Drake’s wrists. He stared numbly. These chains were not the same as the ones slapped on him in Nottingham Castle. Those shackles fell off easily because his hands were too small. Not this time. These shackles fit him perfectly, as if made for a child. His heart raced, wishing this was a nightmare so he could wake up.
O’Hara clapped his hands, making Creecy, and the other girl and boy across from Drake flinch. “I’m going to get rid of this morning’s whiskey.” He belched and undid his belt. “If I hear any noise coming from this wagon, you’ll get ten lashes each. Understood?”
They all nodded vehemently. Drake cringed. His face and lips throbbed. O’Hara jumped down, and grunted as he side-stepped rocks and saplings to get into the woods as quickly as possible. When Drake was sure O’Hara was out of earshot, he let out a deep, sour breath.
“Are you all right?”
Startled, Drake looked up to find the girl across from him reaching over to wipe a trickle of blood from his chin. She seemed to possess an air of maturity, and he thought she might be older than Creecy. Her warm touch soothed Drake, and he forced a half-smile. “T-thanks. I-I’m okay, I guess.”
“Eilish, what are you doing?” the boy next to her whispered. “Keep quiet.”
As soon as the girl called Eilish shifted to the side, Drake realized she was pregnant under her red and white skirt. Her long braided black hair was decorated with tiny seashells, and her head was covered with a red and white bandana that matched her skirt. A loose-fitting white blouse was a stark contrast to Eilish’s smooth, brown skin. But it was her rich, mocha-colored eyes that mesmerized Drake and reminded him of his mother. His throat tightened.
Eilish entwined her fingers around her beaded necklace. The contrasting shades of red and white beads glistened as if a spirit resided in them. “Do you have a problem with me comforting the boy, Adam?”
Adam pushed his creamed-colored straw hat off his forehead and frowned. “No, but as your brother, I have a problem with you getting beaten by that quashie. Your baby needs protection, even from you.”
Eilish cupped Adam’s chin. “You forget I am the oldest, and know what is best.”
Drake raised an eyebrow. Why do they sound so familiar?
Adam slapped his sister’s hand away. “What is best is that we get back to Jamaica before the baby is born.”
“You’re both from Jamaica?” Drake asked. “I thought I detected a subtle island accent, though you’re lacking the informal dialect I’m used to hearing.” Hmm…maybe our Babels can’t translate cultural idioms? He inclined his head. “What are you doing here?”
The siblings glanced first at each other, and then at Drake. Adam was definitely younger than Eilish, but older than Drake. Maybe twelve or thirteen, but no more. He also seemed on the mature side, but given the time period they were in, Drake figured kids grew up way too fast here. Adam wore a white cotton shirt like Eilish’s, but his sleeves were rolled up past his elbows. Heavy denim pants held up with a rope didn’t seem a wise pick for the humid climate of Georgia, but Drake knew slaves had no choice when it came to their wardrobe.
Adam drew his knees to his chest and shuffled his leather sandals that appeared too small for his growing feet. He checked over his shoulder toward the woods, and then turned to whisper, “Why do you think we’re here? We’re slaves like you.”
“Look, my name’s Drake, and by the way—I’m not a slave, and neither are you. I know for a fact that slavery is abolished in Jamaica. Why would you leave Jamaica to come to America when you were already free?”
“We didn’t,” Eilish replied. “We were kidnapped.”
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her spoiled hubby, and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.
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