The large cart rolls slowly to the end of the dirt road where it is blocked by a wire gate. Behind the wire gate is a gravel road that leads through a large well-manicured lawn. Bright green grass and the smell of a freshly cut lawn consumes the nostrils of the 4 slaves. They look on to see a large house at the end of the gravel road. The Mason Creek Plantation is the destination of the large cart of firewood. A very fancy looking house with over 20 rooms. Behind the house you can see a small glimpse of a garden. Most of that garden is hidden from view.
The slaves pushing the cart stopped pushing and leaned alongside to catch a moments rest. The slave driving the 2 horse pulled carriage hops down from his seat. He grabs an arm full of wooden chocks from behind his seat and rushes around chocking the wheels of the carriage and the large cart.
The carriage door opens and a man steps out. Known only as Mickey, or Master Mickey, this rather short, balding man looks over his slaves. Mickey reaches into the carriage and grabs a bucket of water. He sets the bucket of water on the ground and the slaves come over to take a drink. As the slaves meet to have a drink of water from the bucket, a man comes walking from the large plantation house and works to open the wire gate. Robert Mason, head slave master of the Masons Creek Plantation is a tall, slender white man. Greying hair and clean shaven, Master Mason looks to be in excellent shape for a 58 year old man.
Mickey watches Master Mason wrestling with the wire gate. He yells “You should get your niggers to do that for you Robert…”
“Now Mickey, you know you are on my property. None of that nigger talk here. Work gets done a lot better when my young men and women are happy” Robert responded.
Robert opens the gate and looks on while the carriage is now un-chocked and being pulled towards the gate. The horses are now being guided by 2 slaves. They stop the carriage alongside the large cart. Several of Robert’s slaves are now running across the gravel road from the plantation house.
“See, there’s my people now. I didn’t even have to holler for them.” Robert said
“So” Mickey replied unimpressed “you got good slaves” He continued.
Mickey laughs as he pulls an apple out of his pouch and takes a bite. One of Robert’s slaves, Roger, walks over and pet the horse while it’s being guided towards the now open gate. Roger is a good looking 30 year old man, rather bashful, but is one of Robert Mason’s most liked slaves.
Milk, the other slave guiding the horse is a little more outgoing. Milk is 33 and is called that because his skin complexation. He’s Very light but too hard looking in the face to work in the kitchen. Milk ties off the horse and both Milk and Roger starts moving firewood from one cart to the other that was waiting just beyond the wire gate.
“Wish I had generations of money like you” Mickey said. “I’d have the best slaves money can buy too. But that’s all right. This right here…” Mickey reaches to his waist and grabs his belt buckle. “This right here will make any ole slave a good slave if I swing it hard enough”
“What I tell you Mickey” Robert said with disgust. “None of that kind of talk round here.”
Milk gives Mickey a disapproving look. Mickey notices it and walks over to Milk.
“You don’t like what I said boy?” Mickey said
“Mickey, come tend to your slaves and leave mine alone” Robert interrupted.
Milk, standing 6’0, has about 5 inches in height and 30 pounds over Mickey, who looks childlike in this face-off. Mickey puts his hand on his belt buckle.
“Master Mason said none of that talk here on his property sir. I think you should tend to your slaves like Master Mason said”
Mickey unbuckled his belt and pulled it from his waist in one smooth motion. With hate in his eyes, he winds up to give Milk a lash he’d never forget. Mickey’s belt was black and worn but thick as a house building board and stiff. Roger silently takes a few steps towards the situation. His emotionless face has turned more serious and his bright white eyes started beaming in Mickey’s direction. Just as Mickey is about to swing, Robert grabs his swinging hand by the wrist then lifts Mickey off the ground by his waist with his other arm. Roger relaxes a little and Milk looks at Roger.
“PUT ME DOWN!!! You gone let your nigger talk to me like that!?!” Mickey yells.
Robert walks Mickey to his carriage, still carrying him while he is kicking his feet in the air. Mickey’s slaves start snickering. Robert puts Mickey down and Mickey goes crazy swinging his belt in all directions. Trying to hit his slaves as they cover and duck. He then storms to a very serious face-off with Robert.
“MR MASON! Don’t you ever put your hands on me like that again!” Mickey says spewing spit with every word.
“Well Mickey, you were about to hit one of mine, you know I couldn’t allow that. This is my property. They are my property. You know how it goes” said Robert.
“We’ll see how it goes come Harbor Fest when you’re Pa sells all your slaves” Mickey snarled “And put you out on your damn ass!”
Robert now has a disappointed look on his face, he cuts his eyes at Roger and Milk for a second and looks down. He then turns around and walks back to the now loaded cart.
“Roger, Milk…Go head and get that wood around back and stacked. Then get cleaned up for dinner” Robert said as he walks away from Mickey.
The slave quarters is a large open barn style building, there’s no windows that you can see from the outside except a few closed shutters. Those shutters can be opened but Master Mason likes for the slaves to keep them closed, unless it’s unreasonably hot outside. The slaves are free to come and go as they please, meaning they can leave the quarters and wander the property at will. Inside the large barn like structure there are smaller individual rooms. Some rooms are divided by thin wood planks, others divided by thick heavy canvas cloths. Much nicer than other slave quarters as most slaves slept on the floor and had no privacy. Here the slaves at least had their own space and beds, or cots. There was even a room with a few tubs for the slaves to bathe.
Roger and Milk storms in through the front door, upset about the news they just heard.
“You heard that Rog? Master Mickey said we are all getting sold!” Milk yells
“He was just talking shit cause Master Robert ragdolled him.” Roger replied
As Milk and Roger walks in, arguing about what they just saw, Shelly stands up from the table where she was peeling potatoes. Shelly was part of the kitchen slave crew, she was preparing potatoes for the night’s dinner. The 25 year old walks over to get into the conversation. Milk see’s Shelly and quickly speaks with excitement. He seems to calm down as Shelly walks over.
“Master Mason ragdolled somebody? Why for? And Who??” Shelly asked.
“He Ragdolled Master Mickey when we were unloading firewood, you should’ve seen it!” Milked exclaimed.
“Yea, Milk was about to catch a few lashes from Mickey and Master wasn’t having it. He ragdolled Master Mickey and carried him away like a baby…Kicking and screaming!” Roger added
The three of them laugh and spend more time talking about it. Other slaves join into the conversation. BJ, an older slave around the age of 50 pretended he was Master Robert, carrying his younger brother, Feet, like a suitcase. Feet was called that because he had unusually large feet. When he was a toddler he was a well sought after slave because all the Masters thought he would grow to be a really large healthy workhorse of a slave. He ended up only being about 5’5.
Shelly went back to the table with the rest of the kitchen crew and continued peeling potatoes. There were several slaves in the kitchen staff. There’s Mona, who serve as the head of the kitchen. Master Robert pretty much let her run the kitchen as she pleases. Mona decided what everyone ate for breakfast, what food was brought in to cook and how it was cooked. Mona was the best cook in the house and everyone tried to learn from her.
You then had Jack. Jack was a younger man, only 22 years old. But Jack kept the Mason’s house super clean. He also maintained the lawn and had a team that he oversaw when the master wasn’t there.
Master Mason had ideals of how he like to run his plantation. His ideals were different from other slave masters in the area. Masons Creek plantation was founded by his great grandfather, Richard Mason. Richard Mason was a hard man and ran the plantation with an iron fist. Every year at the annual Harbor Fest, Richard Mason had to buy more slaves than anyone because he was so rough on his slaves. He lost slaves at an alarming rate. He was eventually killed when one of his slaves slit his throat with a razor during his daily shave. Brian Washington Mason, Roberts’s father and Richards’s son, took over the plantation at 17. Brian Washington was born with a rare disease and doctors never thought he would live past 25. Brian is now 78 and still kicking, barely. He hasn’t ran the plantation himself for about 30 years. Robert took over when Brian started to get too frail to walk the fields to check on the slaves.
Robert Mason was a different type of man, he really didn’t care for slavery or mistreating people. He always believed that if you treat the slaves like any other human being, they would always produce the best products and get the best production. Because of this belief, Brian Washington spilt slave master duties between several other masters. Each had a set of slaves that they oversaw. Even though Robert was the head slave master, he had limited involvement with the slave quarters that wasn’t assigned to him. Each slave quarters and the slaves within were managed differently by each slave master. Robert has known most of the slaves on the plantation their whole lives, he looked at them as family members and they also feel the same about him. He doesn’t believe in whipping his slaves, he doesn’t even carry a gun or a strap. His father still owns the plantation but has nothing to do with the day to day these days.
The secret Robert Mason has, had been wearing on him. He hadn’t had a chance to tell the slaves this secret as of yet. The Secret- Brian Washington had decided months ago that he was going to sell the slaves and the plantation and retire. Live out the rest of his life on some lakefront property he owns in Georgia. Brian Washington didn’t want to leave the plantation to Robert. He felt Robert was too soft and would run the plantation out of business. Ruin the Mason name. Robert spent the last several months trying to prove that he can keep the plantation running, profitable and do it the way he felt was the best way.
“You know, slave labor isn’t going to last forever” Robert said, “Every day we’re getting closer to this all ending”
Brian Washington wouldn’t admit it to Robert, but he felt the same way. He often thought that if slave labor goes away, he didn’t know how he would keep the plantation afloat. All the more reason to sell while he can and retire.
Back in the slave quarters, Milk sits after a bath watching Shelly as she finishes up. Shelly and Milk has been married for about 3 years but they knew each other almost their whole lives. When they got married, Master Robert allowed them to have the wedding on the front lawn and a very nice wedding reception in the dining hall of the plantation. Robert has done that with every slave marriage so far since he’s been in charge of Mason Creek plantation.
Shelly puts her knives away, walks over and gives Milk a kiss on the cheek. She then goes to the bath and lights a fire to heat the water. Milk walks over to a basket, grabs an apple and cuts it in half. He gave one half to Shelly and he sat beside the tub and took a bite of the other half. Shelly sits in the tub and takes a bite of her half.
On the other side of the building you see Roger and a few other slaves playing Smut. Smut is a game similar to your typical card game where there are suits and hands. They use other items in the place of cards. They were using ears of corn, pecans, rice and beans. Robert would let the slaves have wine and other spirits as rewards and they usually save those items for times when they are relaxing playing Smut or Marbles. BJ would always overdo it with the wine and end the night passed out in the middle of the floor. Everyone wonders how he has the energy to work all day but every morning, like clockwork, he’s always the first one out of bed and in the field. Now Shelly has finished her bath and lay in bed with Milk talking about the day’s events. Feet is now dancing around one of the other girls as he does every night. Feet is really fond of Nadine, but Nadine thinks of Feet as a brother and never entertained the idea of ever being with him. Feet still tries every evening to win her over.
There are no children at Mason Creek plantation as the last child, Jack, is not a child anymore. Milk and Shelly hopes to one day have a child but hadn’t started trying as of yet.
Robert stood outside of the slave quarters knowing he has to go in and break the news. Harbor fest is soon and his father is planning to sell off all the slaves. There’s already a buyer for the plantation but that buyer is bringing his own slaves and have no need for Robert’s slaves. Robert listened for a while as he heard everyone inside laughing and enjoying the evening but noticed that the noise has softened some. He thinks now is probably a good time and he takes a deep breath.
Robert opens the barn door and walks in. Everyone inside stops what they are doing and look towards Robert. Robert usually let them have the evening to themselves so a visit this late in the evening is surprising. He asked everyone to circle around, that he has some news that they aren’t going to like.
Robert explains that the plantation will be sold and that all the slaves will also be sold in the upcoming Harbor Fest. The slaves all look concerned, some start crying, questioned looks everywhere.
“Are you saying that we will be split up? Me and my Wife? Bj and his Brother Feet?” Milk says.
Robert actually cared about his slaves and this hurts him more than they would ever know. Robert did a little research and found out about a plantation house near West Virginia that he felt had the same ideals as he. Billette Hall plantation was that house. They were one of the top profiting plantations in several states and they claim it’s because their slaves are happy and are treated like people. They specialize in fabrics and Clothing and have a reputation of having the finest clothes and garments around. Robert contacted them once he knew he couldn’t talk his father out of shutting down Mason Creek. He worked out a deal to have all his slaves sold to them. It was really important to Robert to keep his slaves together and have them sold to a plantation that will not mistreat them.
The representative at Billette Hall agreed but due to the rules of that area, they would still have to go to Harbor Fest and bid on the slaves, like every other plantation house. The good thing about Billette Hall is that they are a very wealthy house and can afford to outbid most other plantations. Robert even asked if he could work at Billette Hall to help get the slaves acclimated to the new environment but they told him that they would have to respectfully deny his request. They assured him that if they are able to get his slaves, they will be very well taken care of. Robert felt comfortable with Billette Hall from the meetings he’s had. He explained this to all the slaves and they felt a little less worried about what’s to come. Some of them have heard about Billette Hall and heard that was the plantation house to be if you had the choice. For some slaves, they were looking forward to the change, now that they know the change was potentially not going to be a change for the worse.
Robert still tried to instill in everyone the fact that Billette still has to win the auction for every single one of them to keep them together and that he has no control over that. He felt confident that Billette hall could afford to win each auction but Harbor Fest sometimes end up with weird outcomes.
After all the games and drinking, then the long talk with Robert, the slaves were all tired and went fast to sleep. The next morning was going to different for everyone with the news just learned. Slowly candles were blown out and the room filled with the sounds of snores and heavy breathing as everyone dropped off to sleep one by one.