Tossing his seed bag, Drake raced toward the end of the field, making it look like he was escaping. With any luck, he’d regroup with the rest of the Timekeepers at the big house and seek out their protection. At least this would be a diversion for the sadistic slave driver. What he wasn’t counting on was being cut off by O’Hara on his horse. Drake swerved sharply, missing the horse’s hooves by inches, and he rolled away. Spitting out dirt, he wiped his mouth, still tasting the remnants of regurgitated pork.
“You wouldn’t by chance be running, would you, boy?” O’Hara adjusted his wide-brim hat and leered down at Drake from his saddle. “’Cause here at the Taylor Plantation, we deal with escaping slaves one way, and one way only.”
The sound of beating footsteps made Drake lift his head. Henri glared down at him, strangling his whip’s braided leather handle. “Thought you was a smart slave, Drake.” He raised the whip over his head. “But even a blind man sees you as dumb as dirt.”
O’Hara held up his hand. “Get back to the field and get those slaves planting. I’ll deal with Drake personally.”
“Yes, boss.” Henri lowered his whip, looking almost disappointed, then turned and trudged back to the field where Harriet was still on her knees and Benjamin had resumed plowing.
Feeling the impatient stomping of O’Hara’s horse vibrate through the earth, Drake attempted to catch his breath and climb to his feet. His dress clothes were stained with the sweat and dirt his hands and face reflected. O’Hara circled him with his horse. The warm breath of the dark horse mimicked spiders crawling across Drake’s skin. Then, O’Hara reached down, grabbed Drake by the belt, and heaved him over his horse. Drake squirmed as O’Hara kicked his horse’s flanks, heading for the sun-bleached barn. Holding onto the long mane and gripping any part of the saddle he could manage, Drake squeezed his eyes shut, trying not to scream out in pain, as the saddle horn continuously jabbed into his rib cage. O’Hara whistled and coerced his horse to the right, throwing Drake off to the left. He rolled until his back hit a solid wooden post.
I think I’m about done now, Lilith, he thought, still trying to catch his breath. Please get me out of this hell hole.
“Stand up!” O’Hara commanded. “Face the whipping post!”
Did…did he just say whipping post? Dizzy, Drake opened his eyes and glanced over his shoulder. A pitted wooden post over eight feet tall towered over him. His nose wrinkled. It emanated a combination of putrid smells; urine, sweat, and puke. A number of shackles in different sizes were nailed into both sides of the post. Claw marks, some embedded with fingernails, caught Drake’s eye and he trembled. Henri was right. He was dumb. Downright stupid to think he could somehow help Harriet and show the others how to take a stand against the oppression that was so ingrained and beaten into them.
O’Hara snatched the bullwhip hanging from his saddle’s horn and dismounted. “Take off your fancy shirt, less’en you want it ripped to shreds.”
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her spoiled hubby, and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.
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