A Love Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand


1. Prologue

I hear a knock at the door. That's odd. We never get visitors this late at night. I walk to the door, curious to see who it is. I open the door and feel the cool, moist air of the Ohio night enter the house. Before me, I see a Negro boy about my age, maybe one or two years older.

That's really odd. Living in Ohio, a northern state, we seldom see Negros. I've grown up in a small town, with a few factories, a handful of merchants, and a whole lot of factory workers. They don't like Negros. They say they are scum and animals. My mother and father never talk about slaves, but I know they are hated in my household.

My father's older brother owns a successful plantation in the South and my father owns the factories that uses the cotton from my uncle's plantation to make thread and cloth. My uncle owns Negros. Lots of them.

About seven years ago, he came to visit us from South Carolina and brought a “servant” with him. Or that's what he told me. I knew it was a slave. Anyway, this slave boy was about 15 years old. My uncle carried a whip around with him, but I never saw him use it. Until the last night.

The slave boy, who never really had a name, just the profane words that will never be repeated said by my uncle, was bring a tray of tea in for my mother, father, and uncle. He had just finished placing everything on the tray and was walking out of the kitchen when my little twin brothers were holding a piece of string to trip him. Sadly, it worked.

The negro boy fell forward and I gasped. The tray fell out of his hand and clattered to the floor. 3 of my mother's prized china teacups shattered into a billion pieces, saucers chipped beyond repair, doilies soaked and ruined.

The boy had regained his balance and stood in shock, staring at the mess. My uncle took his chance. He pushed the negro boy to the floor and pulled out the whip. I wanted to stop him, but I was too small and, frankly, I was too scared.

My uncle lifted the whip and brought it crashing down on the boy's back. The sound of the whip cracking and snapping sent shivers down my spine. My uncle began to beat the boy senseless.

My mother was crying, not for the innocent boy framed by my brothers to be beaten, but for her beloved tea set. My uncle screamed the most colorful words he could find in his vocabulary at the poor boy. My brothers hid, laughing at the pain being inflicted by my evil uncle. My older brother, Thomas, the only person who could stop this, was out riding his horse with my other older brother, James. I took it upon myself to do something.

I jumped in front of the boy's lifeless and bleeding body and shielded it with my own. My uncle stopped swinging the whip long enough to tell me to move. “Clara Margaret Mitchell, move!” He yelled at me, his already dark eyes black as coal. “NO!” I screamed with as much courage I could muster out of my trembling body. I'm still surprised he didn't hit me. He walked out with my parents, my mother still crying.

I turned to the boy. His shirt was ripped where every mark from the whip had hit his back. A few had hit his face and his eyes were swollen shut. He's stuck in a fetal position and won't come out, even after my uncle is gone. He is softly sobbing. It's is such a strange thing to see a 15 year old boy crying. I don't know what to do.

I rush to the kitchen and pull a dish towel out of the cabinet. I look around for a suitable bowl to fill with water. I find one and rush outside to the well. It takes me a few minutes to fill it. I hurry back in and kneel down beside the boy. I take the towel and soak it. The water is cool and I hope it will help the boy feel better. The boy has shown no sign of caring that I'm there. I wring the wet towel out and gently place it on the boy's back. First, a strong moan escapes his mouth, a moan of pain. After a few seconds, he relaxes.

I take the rag, which has grown warm and soak it in the water, watching the blood flow out and turn the water light red. I take it out and apply it to a new area. I do this for a while and the boy finally moves out of his fetal position. After almost all of the blood is gone, he grabs my wrist. His hand is warm and strong. “Why?” He asks me, voice hushed in a whisper, his deep brown eyes, staring into mine. “Why not?” I whisper back.

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