They announced the winners of the 24 hour writing contest this evening.  Indeed a watched inbox never boils.  I got an honorable mention, in the top 31 but not the top 3 out of around 500.  I am esctatic.  I get a magazine subscription and a book.  Cool huh?  Well, it isn’t $300, but I didn’t expect to win, since I don’t write this kind of thing as a rule.  I read the top three entries, and at the end of two I said Eeeew. They were good stories…As good as this?

 

 

 

Mady’s Treasure

 

 

Mady crawled on the ground behind the woman she called Mam.  Mam was a poor replacement for her mother, but neither Mady nor Mam had another choice.  “I am lucky to be here and not in the fields,” Mady reminded herself as she sprinkled celery seeds in the trench Mam had just plowed.  Being a yard slave was much better than being a field hand, even if Mam was a harsh taskmaster.

 

“You putting dem too close together, lazy girl, spread dem seeds out more,” said Mam.  Mady sat on her haunches and stretched her back.  She had learned long ago to hold her tongue when Mam criticized her.  Any protest only brought anger.

 

The Georgia sun beat down on the kitchen garden, and created mirage lakes in the distant fields. The tiny leaves on the oaks trembled with a passing breeze and Spanish moss fluttered in the branches.  She could just see the south field where the slaves planted cotton.  The cadence of their song rang across the valley.  The throbbing rhythm pushed her to work at a steady pace.  It would be a lovely day if only she didn’t have to work.

 

With a sigh, Mady pushed her toes into the soil to bend over again when her toe bumped something hard. Turning so she could scoop the dirt aside with her fingers, she found a tiny, tattered purse. As she held it in her palm she could feel something inside it.  Glancing at Mam to ensure her secret treasure was still a secret, she slipped the purse into her apron pocket. 

 

Mady spent the next few hours wondering what could be in the purse as she helped plant the garden.  As she sowed carrots she wondered if she would find a coin.  What would she do with a coin?  While she followed Mam down the cabbage row she dreamed the purse contained shiny beads.  Planting lettuce reminded her that the purse might contain a lacy handkerchief.  The anticipation brought excitement to an otherwise routine day.   

 

Throughout supper, Mam complained bitterly about having to raise such a lazy child, who wasn’t even her own daughter.  “If that Molly hadn’t have gotten uppity, she would be raising her own chillen,” she muttered to her husband Felix, who grunted in reply.  Mady had been living with Mam and Felix for five years, and Mam had voiced the same complaints every night for five years.  Mam and Felix had been asked to take Mady in when her mother left, and Mam was none to happy about it years later, although Felix didn’t seem to mind.  Mady tried to be as good as she could, but it really didn’t matter, Mam just didn’t want Mady around.

 

After washing and drying the dishes, they usually sat around the fire for a brief spell.  Finally she couldn’t wait any longer.  With a yawn Mady stood and said, “I am going out to use the privy then I am going to bed.  Working in the garden all day plumb wore me out.”

 

“Don’t know how you could be tired with all that day-dreamin’ you done,” Mam replied tartly.

 

“Hush now, you two.  People is tryin’ to sleep,” said Felix.

 

As Mady stepped outside the shack, she slipped her hand into her apron pocket, the small purse felt like a secret fire.  The purse itself was exciting, but the thought of something in it was incredible.  She raced down the trail to the sprawling crabapple that guarded the privy.  At the base of the tree she collapsed, clutching the purse in her hand.  She held her breath and opened up the clasp.

 

Inside the purse she found a lump wrapped in paper.  She peeled back the paper and stared in amazement at the tiny porcelain doll in her hand.  Never had she seen anything so lovely.  It had black hair and pink cheeks and pouty lips.  Her dress was pale green with miniature roses on it.  Even her tiny black boots were perfect.  Mady had no idea such a beautiful thing could exist.  As she made plans for her new doll, Mady scratched a hole in the dirt and buried the purse under the tree where nobody else would find it

 

In the failing light Mady peered at the wrapping paper, she could see something written on it.

 

Follow the creek north until the second bridge, then, follow the woods to the west.  The third house you see will be a safe house.  Give them this doll as payment and they will take you to safety. Molly.

 

Mady decided to take the note to Jerome to see if he could read it.  It was rumored that he knew a few words, but nobody spoke of it since her mother’s banishment.  When Master found out that his children’s maid had learned to read he sold her to the first slave trader who stopped.  That had been so long ago Mady could barely remember her mother’s caress and soft lullabies.  Mady snapped back to reality.  What if the note revealed the doll belonged to Young Miss?  Mady would never see it again.  She couldn’t risk loosing this treasure.  Quickly she folded the paper and tossed it down the privy hole and pocketed her doll.

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