Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 20): Into The Night

        Part  19 (Peculiar Gifts), was last Sunday…

     We had tiptoed down the back stairs as quickly as we dared.  While Mrs. H. was pinning me inside of her best dress, still smelling of lavender, Anna and Tilly had packed our precious documents.  That I had passed Anna’s test seemed nothing short of a miracle, now that we must speed away so suddenly.  I cursed my capricious memory, as capable of holding me in an iron grip while the smell of blood washed over me as it was of delivering those words which would safeguard our freedom.


The carriage stood waiting in the courtyard, the door open and barely visible in the darkness.  The doctor himself held the reins of the two horses while little Tilly hid nearly under my skirts as our Joe ushered us in and closed the door behind us.  She handed me the sheaf of documents, neatly bound in a leather pouch.  My heart raced as I began to taste bile.  Now I became grateful for that lavender, perfuming our cramped space.  All had passed so quickly and in such silence that I’d not had time to consider the consequences, should I fail.  I felt my gloved fingers begin to sweat where they made contact with the leather.  Wonderful little Tilly came to my rescue yet again, holding up my satchel to store away our papers.


Still lost in my thoughts, Anna leaned into my shoulder, whispering in my ear.


“We have saddle bags, if you wish to keep your old sewing basket.”


I nearly dropped the satchel.  I clutched it to my bosom after catching it just as my hands let it slip.


“I thought that might bring you back to us.  I saved it, after you left it in the wagon, in case you should need anything, except those scissors, of course.”


Her smile, even in the darkness of that carriage, carried to me.  I could barely see her, but I could hear that devilish grin in her voice, and the lifted brow.  I began to relax, breathing as deeply as my bodice would allow while the lavender worked its soothing balm upon me.  I was glad that Mrs. H.’s dress was too large for me, as it gave me more room to breathe.  How fortunate we were to have sheltered in the home of gentry, accustomed to changing various times even on a normal day.  No working family, colored or white, would have had the means to accomplish this ruse.  Then a problem occurred to me.  I turned to whisper:


“But Anna, I’m sorry, Joe.  How is it that you found my basket?  I thought I had dropped it along the way when I fell from Old Mary.”


“Oh, no.  I put it in my saddle bag when you first mounted her.”


“But then…”


“The bulge in your saddle bag?  Only an extra blanket.”


Her voice had risen an octave at those last words.  What a marvelous singing voice she must have, if I ever got a chance to hear it.  We were not allowed to sing whilst in the doctor’s home, lest the neighbors hear.  Thinking of Doctor H., I wondered how he would explain this outing.  He must have invented a patient to see as a pretext.  I could only suppose, as we were not to know any more than strictly essential for our flight.  Which reminded me:


“I hope Old Mary is happy, where ever she is.  I was truly sorry to have put her, and all of you, in danger.”


“Hush, now.  We have spoken about this.  Besides, you’ll see her again, soon.”


I turned to look at her, but she had turned her back to mine, as if to go to sleep.  Little Tilly took that moment to stretch out on the opposite seat, and all was silence.  The rest of my questions would just have to wait.

       This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Parts  19 (Peculiar Gifts)18 (Mouth of Babes)17 (Testing)16 (Power)15 (Knowledge)14 (Words)13 (Interruptions)12 (Gifts)11 (Punishment),  10 (Warmth),   9 (Found)8 (Lost)7 (Rock)6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays, 

and Part 21 will post next Sunday.

I look forward to your thoughts.


Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.  It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.


Click here to read, if you like:

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28 thoughts on “Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 20): Into The Night

    1. 🙂

      Yes, Ma’am. I tried to make it clear early on that Willow actually knows quite little of what is going on, but obviously, narrating from her perspective limits my ability to make that too clear, until she realizes it herself, openly.

      Ok, this is good to know, especially after being told by a writer of (Regency) historical fiction that she also had to look up “The Peculiar Institution” after I asked about it (although I don’t think she has visited the chapter to see it, actually). It seems that only a small number of my readers may actually already by slavery history readers, who would know that term.

      Hmmm. So, now, I need to figure out an unobtrusive way of defining the term without losing the subtle ways of speaking that were normal among the gentry of the era. Drivers and body servants, chamber maids (which is what a ‘Fancy’ like Willow, as with Sally Hemings, would normally be called in ‘polite society’ to cover for the reality…) would spend enough time around/listening to “their betters” to be able to “ape” those mannerisms, so I either need to introduce others who cannot do so, or find some other excuse to give those definitions. Like working in backstory, but a bit more difficult.
      Very good to know, Petru, thank you!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. D’oh!! Sorry: “The/Our Peculiar Institution” was a euphemism for slavery, especially used down South, at that time. Kind of like how the Nazis avoided using words like camps, death, execution, etc.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Good explanation, Shira. Funny how many euphemisms we have for things ranging from body parts and bodily functions to uncomfortable things like racial and religious intolerances. Nowadays it might be Woke or Critical Race Theory or even revised voting laws to protect voting integrity but who are we protecting it from?

        Liked by 2 people

            1. No, no, not to worry, I know you’ve got alot on your plate!
              This is why I push myself to find others to work on Project Do Better: I cannot do it alone, nor even much longer at all, but it emphasizes the global empathy we absolutely must build asap to not go extinct.

              Liked by 2 people

      1. An aside: an Irish comedian berated Americans for the practice, saying the Irish planted and harvested their own potatoes, they saw no need to go steal people from Africa to do it for them. It’s not really funny but at least.

        Liked by 1 person

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