A Billing’s Predicament
Conversations could be heard, by not just from other slaves like me, but by the Billings family as well.
And the most recent of news…Was that a messenger has been going from family to family, stating that a few males of each residence was to enter into the army through the King’s command. This recent news made silence grow as the messenger ended up making his way to the Billings residence…
The messenger clearly stated that a Mister from the Billings residence was of the age to enter into the army and he was to aide in the war, because the army was in dire need for support.
Not only that, but even two stewards had to be named and chosen to go as well…
Since it was a King’s command, they had to accept and do as instructed. But…The only ‘Mister’ that could go…Was Mister Mason…
The Billings residence went into frustration after this letter was received from the messenger. I already knew that they were more of a schooler family and not military, and they ended up voicing my thoughts out loud.
Their other family, the ‘side branch’, only had a seven-year-old as a male, otherwise the father and brother to the Lord had already perished due to sickness…The Lord could not go, as he was close into becoming a personal governor or minister that was able to stand beside the King himself!
But…How could they even think of sending a seven-year-old boy!? It was obvious that they couldn’t but wanted too, and that was the dilemma!
Mister Mason was going to get married soon and he had a life to live!
I heard that Lady Billings was very vexed at this, having seen her once with my own eyes, but the other slaves were talking about it nonstop!
One of them got really upset, as she didn’t want the Mister to leave…I heard her say that she would miss him terribly, but I really wanted to ask her why…
As I wouldn’t miss him at all…
Some were sneering, and some were happy, with the inevitable news of the departure of Mister Mason.
I didn't understand why they sneered or why they were happy, but what I did understand, was that without Mister Mason here, then wouldn't my life be a little easier?
To hear that he was going, made me feel a bit of relief, and for once, I let myself smile to this information.
I couldn't remember the last time that I had smiled, but this smile genuinely lit up my face, well the half that wasn't covered, and for a slight moment, I felt like my life could turn for the better.
My dark vortex had a small light at the end of the tunnel!
Lady Venus might get me punished, but she did it less frequently than that of the bully Mister Mason. He was the one that would always give me more chores to do, even after sun down...Exhausting me completely. He was also the one that would laugh as I would be slapped or kicked by his steward. He was also the one that made me see the obvious difference between us, because he always makes a big deal that I was a slave and that he wasn’t.
I looked up at the sky, then I looked back at the fire wood that I had to carry from the bushlands next to the residence and continued on my way. I had already put food into the new storage shed, that was nearly completely built now, but this was the last lot of wood to be taken elsewhere today as I was told to do one more chore before I finished.
It was now close to dinner time, the sun already halfway gone, making me think of the usual crude meal that I would have for dinner.
Before the age of ten, I had better meals...Now, it was half as much and a lot less tasty.
A very watery porridge and sloppy vegetables hardly filled me, but it was what we ate...Us slaves...
After putting the wood down in the kitchen, I was then ordered to take some inside to the study.
Nodding, yet wanting to shake my head instead, I took two pieces of firewood and headed there.
It wasn't like I had never done this, I had taken wood there three times already this winter, yet I hated it every time. Luckily, the Lord hadn't been there twice, but the third time he had been.
I choose not to look at him, yet I had felt his eyes upon me while I had been there. He would never speak to me directly, even before I became a slave, but...That was all I ever got...His eyes lingering on me...
Peeking in through the slightly opened door, after knocking twice, I don't see him there, but the fire was already going...
Quickly, I went in and put the wood next to the fireplace and scrambled out. I did not want to be in his presence at all, even if he wasn’t here...He made me mad and upset.
And that was how it was all the time in his presence or the rooms that he used, I would quickly do my job and leave…It would hardly look suspicious, because a slave should be unseen and unheard, but I didn't even know what the study looked like, due to my haste to escape as soon as possible…
Walking away from the study, I breathed out a breath of relief and started to make my way to the slave quarters, so that I could eat and then go to bed. To me the distance was normal, but I was at one side of the residence, while the slave’s living quarters was at the other. In between the main branch and the slave’s quarters was the side branch family’s quarters, so the walk would take at least five minutes.
"Lost?" I heard a voice, making me see someone come from the side that I had just walked past.
I shook my head, then pointed towards the slave's quarters, not meeting him in the eyes, already bowing my head.
"Mmm, I think you're lost! Long, should we tell this slave how to find where she belongs?"
I continued to bow my head, having no courage to look up at the man before me.
As usual, he always seems to find a way to do something to me, even though I had never done anything to him...At least I don’t think I had ever done anything to him…Who else could it be but Mister Mason?
I was getting so sick of being treated this way...Yet, I was still so scared to do anything about it...The only thing I could do, was wait, wait for him to leave for war!
Sighing in my heart, I waited, as I can't do anything now until I've been given an order or that I am dismissed.
I found myself being grabbed onto tightly, making my arm hurt, and being forcefully taken towards the slave's quarters.
"Ah, I will not follow. For a person such as myself, I don't belong in a place like that! Meet me back in the house, Long." As usual, the words at first had carried a demeaning air to it, but as he finished talking, the words sounded distracted…
Having only the option of going into the direction that the steward was forcefully taking me, I tried to keep up with him.
There was something different going on though, and that was that the Mister had already gone, now out of sight. Normally he would do more laughing and bullying...This was the first time he had gone with only a few words and one command…
Being glad that I may be able to get to my dinner and go to sleep with more ease, I continued to keep up with Steward Long, hoping that I was right and that nothing else will be done to me.
It was two minutes later, that the slave's quarters was in sight and I looked up at the steward, wondering when he would let me go.
One time he had shoved me into the pond, a distance from the slave's quarters, and another time he had made me crawl...Was he going to do something like that once again?
Even though they had been the commands of Mister Mason, was this man going to act on his own?
I couldn’t deny it, in my eyes, this person was bad. He bullied me, and I really did think he would do something, even without Mister Mason here…
My heart started to pound heavier as we got closer and I looked up at the Steward once again...To find him looking back at me...
Bowing my head again, I didn't respond quick enough to being roughly pushed up against a tree, making me let out a cry to not just to the surprise of it, but the small pain that shot from my back.
"Little slave, I bet you are happy. Have you not heard that Mister and I will have to leave soon for the war!? Uh?"
His voice startled me as I gulped.
"I like...This side of your face..."
The steward had never said anything like this before, he had always been harsh and hard, making me go wide eyed at his action of caressing to my cheek...
Blinking and feeling my heart pound inside of my chest, I could only stand there, hoping and hoping he would let me go soon.
He pushed himself into me and I took in a huge breath...What was he doing!?
Licking the side of my face, I found myself turning away from him and cringing up my face in dislike.
"My little slave, when I come back, you will be ripe for the taking...Now, you'll have something to look forward too!"
He put his other hand over my chest and then said, "And so will I."
Suddenly, he took a small step back away from me and smirked, making my heart pound harder, yet not understanding why...
"I hope to see you again before I leave, but just in case..." He picked up my clenched hand and slowly made it open up. Putting my hand then into his, he kissed it and looked back up at me, "I will think of our future together and come back, until then, I order you to not to be with any other man!"
After that, he let go of my hand and left...
…I had no idea what had just happened and why. He was a bad man, yet this time, he had not hurt me except for my back, but instead...
In the past, I had seen two lots of people be as close as we had just been but...Surely, he did not mean anything as intimate as they had...
Feeling shivers go over me, I wasn't able to move straight away, and I closed my eyes, trying to understand what he had just said.
'Not to be with any other man', kissing my hand and saying that it was something to look forward too...
Widening my opened eyes once again, I felt like it was similar to the people I had seen that were close to each other in the past! Just like the girl slave that was selling herself to a man, what...I always wondered how she sold herself!
Was this what Steward Long was talking about!?
More shivers went up my spine as I thanked whomever it was that was sending Mister Mason and his steward away!
A dark thought entered then, that...That they should not come back!
Putting a hand to my chest, I calmed down and bowed my head in defeat...
Now, I felt like a whole other lot of new worries had entered into my already sad life…When was it going to end?
After another moment, I slowly walked towards the slave's quarters, I ate and got ready to sleep, to only have to wake at dawn the next day…
Groggily, I found that I was being taken out of bed and then forced to walk out of the slave's quarters.
Rubbing my tired eyes and trying to wake up from my sleep, I realized that it was still quite dark, and I was going in the direction of Lady Billings place within the residence.
The person that had taken hold of me had also put his hand over my mouth, but now was taking his hand away, putting a finger to his lips.
I slightly nodded, knowing that I didn’t have a choice and continued to walk to…That woman…
With that knowledge of where I was going installed in my mind, I was completely awake now and prepared myself for what seemed a most definite encounter to the woman who had killed my mother!
I wished to do to her what she had done to my mother…
Squeezing my eyes shut tight for a quick moment, I swallowed and knew that I had troubles bullying someone…How could I torture someone like that!
Following the person ahead of me, while one hand was holding my arm, we got closer and closer to that hateful, hateful woman!
Once I was inside of an outer room of Lady Billings bedroom, I was forced to stop and kneel.
I obliged and waited, bowing my head and trying not to feel the depth of winter trying to attack my upper body.
The floor had a nice feel to it as a mat had been placed there, so at least some comfort was given to me…But, the smell and cluttered area of her ‘work’ filled the room and made it look messy.
I had seen once and knew of her ‘work’, but I just don’t care about it at all…What I cared about, was making sure that I do nothing wrong in her presence…She was a murderer after all…
Only having my inner clothing on, I felt a slight chill, but it wasn’t as bad as outside. Outside, I had nearly started to shiver, but the fireplace inside had made here warmer.
Kneeling there, I wondered what was going on, because it felt like minutes were going by…
Clenching and unclenching my hands, I didn’t even have to courage to look around, and I was sure that the man hadn’t left the area, so I stayed very, very still.
“…Just keep watch outside, I want to talk to her alone.”
That was it! It’s her! That’s her voice!
Shivers went down my back and I suddenly felt very cold. I wanted to look up and scream to her that she was a murderer and demand justice! I wanted to have her go through what my mother had, but I was sure I couldn’t be the one to do it…Just the idea that this evil woman would feel pain could only be enough…And it was…For now…
I closed my eyes briefly, trying to calm myself down.
The man had left by now, and Lady Billings walked to a side of the room and demanded, “Come here, child!”
I got up, and walked towards her, still having my head lowered.
I might still be angry, but that didn’t mean I didn’t fear this person. I feared her tremendously!
To me, she was the devil…To me, she was the monster…
“Now sign it!”
Looking at her hand, as she pointed to something, I see a piece of paper.
On that piece of paper, I see writing.
I could read and write, I just didn’t know what some big words meant.
‘Please Father, I would like to replace my brother and be the one that goes to war instead. This is solely my idea and I know of the responsibility behind it. I would keep it a secret to my grave and not disgrace my family in any way. All I ask is that my mother’s items be returned to me, even though I am not of age to receive them yet. Please let me go.’
Swallowing my anxiety, I reread it and wanted to cry.
I hadn’t been spoken too about my mother’s things since I became a slave! I’ve finally got word that I could get it all back!
“Sign it! Then take it to Lord Billings!” Lady Billings said, “Oh, and if you state that I forced you to do it…”
I shook my head rapidly, she didn’t need to threaten me, but she continued, “If you state that I forced you to do it, I will tie you up in the bushlands, like your mother, instead…You’ll be alive!”
Shaking my head rapidly, I picked up the brush and signed a scribble of my name down, showing her that I was obliging to her request.
She scared me so much!
I hated her so much!
After I finished, she took the paper and attempted to help dry it faster, by waving it in the air. “Very good!”
My heart was beating so loud that I was hoping it wouldn’t be heard by her.
I felt it thumping in my chest, I heard it in my ears and felt my shaking fear run through my veins…
“Alright, go by yourself and give this to Lord Billings tomorrow morning. If you are accepted, I will secretly find you. I will have many things to tell you!”
I nodded, taking the paper and putting into my inner clothing.
She waved her hands, her sleeves flapping because of the action, and said, “Go then, you better give this to Lord Billings first thing tomorrow morning!”
I scurried off, after a quick bow, and ran to the slave’s quarters.
Having done this quietly in the dead of the night, I wondered if this was yet another secret that was not to be spoken of…
The next morning, after getting ready for the day once I got out of bed, I waited until I was alone, before going directly to Lord Billings.
I only had about half an hour before he would leave to do his job, so I quickly scuttled to his office, hoping he would be there and knocked on the door.
“Did you already find it?” I heard through the door.
Since I thought it wasn’t something for me, I knocked once again.
“Summers! Come in!”
I didn’t know what to do…Summers was the Lord’s private steward…But do I still go in?
Do I knock again?
It didn’t matter because in the next second, the door opened wide and there my father was…
“Oh, my dear Malory has come.”
He had never spoken to me like that before…
I was silently standing there, not sure what to do next. He was also silent, looking as though he got a bit shocked and looked away from me.
That was more of the man I knew. One that didn’t accept me, one that didn’t know of me…
I pulled out the paper and gave it to him, bowed and walked away.
“Wait!” I heard him say, so I stopped.
After a quick moment, I heard him sigh and then said, “Come in.”
I didn’t want to go in, I wanted to leave!
I did as I was told and brought the note here! I’m not here for any other reason…
Turning stiffly, I bowed and slowly walked past him and heard him shut the door…
I stood in the middle of the room with my head lowered, at the tops of my eyelids, I see my father put down the piece of paper on the desk and come back to stand before me.
Silence entered the room and again, I felt like minutes passed instead of seconds.
I had nothing to do, nothing to say, having no idea of what his thoughts were and wanting to leave.
With a sudden shock, he took me into his arms and held me close to him.
He was so much bigger than me, even though he wasn’t particular a large man. He was soft and warm, making me unintentionally remember my mother’s hugs.
My father’s body towered over mine as I didn’t even make it to his shoulders. His hands were around my back and head and I felt his head on top of mine…
“I’m so sorry, Malory.”
I wasn’t sure why, but suddenly I wanted to burst into tears.
Why? Why are you apologizing!? Why!?
…I didn’t want to hug him, so I hadn’t moved. I didn’t want my eyes to water over like they were, I didn’t want to feel my heart start to pump faster either.
Stiffly, I tried to stay calm, I tried not to care…
“I never had wanted for you to go through what you have but…”
I don’t want to hear it! I wanted to close my ears and become deaf!
“Lady Billings has a strong backing. I was in the wrong, I know this…At first, I thought you had run away! I didn’t see you for so long! When they started to harm someone because they didn’t speak, I couldn’t believe it was you! She had lied to me! I didn’t even know you had turned into a slave all this time! She threatened to kill you if I got close…So…All I could do was let you be…But…I very dearly loved your mother, as I dearly…”
He stopped as I got out of his arms in a struggle. I walked to the desk, picked up the piece of paper, throwing it at him, then left in haste.
(If you would like to read on, please make your way to wattpad dot com and look up TLCsDestiny or ‘substitution’ and you will find this book there with several more chapters to read. Duplicate!! Is also there and finished, as well as ‘The Doomed and Blessed, 13th Young Miss’ (which is now a prequel). I may not put another chapter of this story up here...Otherwise, if I don’t see you at wattpad, thx for reading thus far.)