Lizzy III

Later that afternoon the young queen and her new master started the trip to her new home. The plantation was formerly known as the Thornhill Plantation, yet the house stood proudly with a name of it’s own. The plantation home was known as Maria. The name of the house came from where it sat. It was said that if the wind stopped blowing around the entire world there would still be a light breeze at Maria. The Indians had named this strange yet beautiful place generations earlier. It meant uncontrollable winds.

Having a house in this location often paid off in the hot Mississippi summers when a small breeze was worth more than gold.

The trip was long. Normally a new slave was forced to walk behind the wagon or the master’s horse the  way home. This did not happen to Lamb Chop. She had cost R. G. much too much to have her twist an ankle or get a snakebite. When the buggy arrived at the plantation, there was much talk among the other slaves. The whispers were of a new girl that proudly rode in the buggy with the master.

Shortly after arriving at the plantation, she was sent to the bathhouse. After having her changed into proper clothes for the job, she was sent to the kitchen and assigned to the head cook. This person had instructions not to be too hard on her. She would soon be sent to the breeding house. Somehow, this move never came about.

A year passed and the young girl picked up the English language as if she had been born on the plantation. Soon her skills in the kitchen had made their way back to Mr. Thornhill. Not only had this young girl mastered the kitchen in less than a year, she had also stolen the hearts of the plantation’s mistress and their youngest baby boy had stolen hers. She was never sent to the breeding house.

Lamb Chop spent most of her time to herself. In the year that she had been on the plantation she had made no friends. Her heart drew her to the Thornhill family but in her mind, she never forgot that she was their servant. No matter how much love she would find for them, this knowledge would never go away, nor her desire and need to be a free woman.

Her distancing herself from the other slaves, and her ability to get by with things no other slave would dream of trying drove a permanent wedge between her and the other servants that worked in the house. This made her a lonely young woman. She could never consider herself friends with a family that held her life on a piece of paper yet she had nothing in common with her fellow servants. Lamb Chop had known this feeling since birth. Even in her own land she had been hated and despised. Her family had built an empire of these exact emotions.

As the years, passed Lamb Chop grew stronger and stronger in the pecking order of the plantation. Soon she was in charge of the kitchen and all meals. Her word was the law as far as the other servants went. This infuriated the slaves that had spent a lifetime on the plantation. This didn’t matter though she had the backing and full blessing of Mr. Thornhill. The only way she could have possibly had any more power would have been if she were white or free. One she could care less for, but the other was never far from her thoughts.

There seemed to be a Thornhill behind ever tree. The master and mistress had four children of their own that lived in the house with them. Then there was an array of uncles, aunts, and cousins. They constantly came for visits. Everyone wanted to take part in the grand parties that Maria had become so famous for. They all seemed to like Lamb Chop. She could not have asked for a better master than Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill. They treated her more like a highly respected employee than a slave.

This caused Lamb Chop to try to show the family as much respect as she was able. As time passed, she even became close to the family members. Still there was only one she truly loved. That was the baby, little Robert Gentry that had been born shortly after her arrival. And this love was not one sided. Mrs. Thornhill often said she wouldn’t be surprised if Robert called Lamb Chop, mother.

Robert Gentry had been the last and the hardest birth of the Thornhill children. Even after he was born it seemed as if it took him forever to get his days and nights straight. When he was awake no one could quiet him except Lamb Chop. More than once Lamb Chop had been awakened in the middle of the night per Mrs. Thornhill’s orders.

She would get out of her bed and make her way to the nursery where she would find Robert Gentry crying at the top of his lungs. As soon as Lamb Chop picked him up he would quiet down. After a few minutes in the nursery rocker sitting in his beloved Lamb Chop’s lap he would be fast asleep.

More than once she had sat and rocked the baby until daylight even though he had been asleep for hours. This behind her she would put him in his cradle at sunup and make her way to the kitchen to oversee that breakfast was on the table when the family came down.

When Robert was still a little boy he preferred the hot kitchen with Lamb Chop over the cool Magnolia covered front porch with his mother and nurse. In tthe kitchen growing up he heard about a place called Africa where blacks had power and owned land. He heard how to win a girl’s heart and then break it if she didn’t deserve his love. Day by day, the motherless woman bonded with this little white child.

For some reason the right buck never came along for breeding, but the great civil war did. After the war lasted much longer than the Thornhill family expected, Mr. Thornhill found himself teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. He could no longer feed the one hundred and fifty black families that farmed the plantation.

After much thought he decided to start with the those that had been with him the longest and grant them and their families their freedom. Some took him up on his offer and headed north for a new life. Others chose to stay on the farm and work for shares.

When he offered Lamb Chop her freedom, he also made her an offer. If she would work for four years in the same capacity she had always worked, he would deed her twenty-five acres of land of her choosing. He made it clear that there would be no exception which  twenty-five acres she could choose except the home site itself. She agreed and both of them shook on the deal.

Two years later the war ended. The slaves that hadn’t been granted their freedom were all free now. Lamb Chop had no bondage on her any more except for her word that she had given Mr. Thornhill. She finished her contract out as she had agreed. Often the family meal was wild boar or whatever one of the boys could kill in the woods or catch in the river. The carpetbaggers had almost taken everything.

At the end of the next two years Lamb Chops was called to Mr. Thornhill’s office and a map of the plantation was laid out on his desk. He handed Lamb Chop a pen and told her to circle whatever twenty- five acres she wanted. As the family gathered around, Lamb Chop took the pen from her once master and drew a oblong circle on the map.

Mr. Thornhill smiled and said, “Honey you better pick again. What you just picked is under water three months a year and it is worth nothing.”

Lamb Chop turned to Mr. Thornhill and said, “You told me whatever twenty-five acres I wanted if I stayed. Now you ain’t backing up on your word are you?”

Mr. Thornhill assured her that he was only trying to look out for what he thought was best for her. Lamb Chop thanked him for his concern and then explained one more time that she had made her choice. Mr. Thornhill agreed reluctantly and then asked why she wanted the worst twenty-five acres on the place.

Lamb Chop smiled and said, “Well, Mr. Thornhill the Yankees have been trying to take the best for the last two years. The way I sees it if I take those twenty-five acres there shouldn’t be any reason that anyone would ever want to bother with me.”
To be continued

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One Comment on “Lizzy III”

  1. Connie Says:

    Tell me again why you don’t write for a living????? :o)

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