Clara and Luther
“Luther, are you alright Luther?” Clara leaned her arm into the deep well and out stretched her hand through the iron grate that now covered it.
“Hurry Clara,” A male voice urged. “We can be discovered at any moment.”
“This feels all wrong to me,” a female voice added.
“Who are you?” Luther looked up at the young woman stretching out to him. She somehow seemed familiar.
“Child, do you not remember me?” Clara looked down at the man before her with sadness in her eyes, and yes he was now a man. Luther would have been about 30 now, he had very dark skin, he was tall, muscular and had rugged facial features, but his eyes held a kindness that reminded her of the man’s father. He was five the last time he saw her, it made sense to Clara that he did not recognize his own mother now. She had been terrified this would happen to him. Although she had great hope for the Union to end the War Between the States soon. It just did not happen fast enough.
“Clara,” the new master of the plantation Martin Johnson called out.
“Yes Mister” Clara walked into her master’s study at a hurried pace. She had just finished cleaning the kitchen and wondered if he wanted a cup of tea before she retired for the evening. His father Nelson Johnson had passed away just a few weeks ago, and as it turned out, Martin was not as kind to the slaves as the recently departed Nelson had been. So she tried her best not to upset him in any way. In the last three weeks he had more slaves whipped than his father had disciplined over the last ten years.
She was surprised to find that he was not alone. A woman was sitting in the room with him. She was dressed in fine clothing and had a distinct look of refinement to her. Clara did not recognize her as anyone she had seen before in town, but she knew right away what she was. The other slaves called them blood devils. Every few weeks one or two would venture nearby on whatever business brought them near. Her old master and owner Mr. Nelson Johnson had provided these devils with both a slave to feed upon and a place to sleep, a special room on the west end of the manor with no windows. His son Martin was apparently continuing to extend the hospitality. It was a terrifying situation, sometimes the slaves would return unharmed, but others would never return at all.
The she-devil looked Clara up and down and then in a somewhat disappointed manner asked, “This one?” Clara’s heart sunk and was immediately overcome with fear. Her old master had never offered her up to be fed upon before, but with Martin nothing was certain, was it now her turn? She could not expect the same treatment from. “She is rather thin.”
“Of course not,” Martin looked at Clara as if to assure her that she was not on the menu this time. “Bring up Benjamin for my guest.” She stopped breathing for a moment, as the words sank in. His order was very clear, but it was one she dreaded obeying. She turned and headed for the slave quarters to fetch him. Benjamin was a large man and mostly worked in the fields, but he was capable and was often given other jobs to perform. Clara loved her husband and to think she was asked to deliver him into that monster’s clutches sickened her to no end. When she reached their room his gentle eyes could instinctively see there was something bothering her.
“Clara my dear, what is the matter,” Benjamin stood up from their bed, and now she could see that their son Luther was asleep in it. She could no longer hold it in and started to cry. Benjamin rushed to her side and wrapped her in his large arms.