Chapter 1: The Journey

Caution: This Incest Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Mult, Consensual, NonConsensual, Heterosexual, Historical, Incest, Mother, Sister, Daughter, DomSub, MaleDom, Spanking, Light Bond, Humiliation, Group Sex, Interracial, Black Female, White Male, .

Desc: Incest Sex Story: Chapter 1: The Journey - In South Carolina in 1839, Robert James MacKenzie was a strapping lad of sixteen who today became betrothed to a beautiful young woman and received the gift of two slave girls. In the blink of an eye, he became a man.

In early Spring of the year of Our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Thirty-Nine, I, Robert James MacKenzie, was a strapping lad of sixteen, not fully grown at six feet in height and with the red-topped, raw-boned strength of my ancestors. My father, Robert Bruce MacKenzie, my sister, Elizabeth, who was thirteen, and I lived at Ironwood. My mother, may God rest her soul, departed for her eternal reward in 1827.

Ironwood lay on the flat plains in western South Carolina abutting the Savannah River. It was primarily a cotton and tobacco plantation, but we grew a variety of crops including corn, wheat, barley, and other grains. We had a large garden for our vegetables, an orchard of fruit and nut trees, and cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry for meat and by-products. More than a simple farm, Ironwood was a community producing nearly everything we needed. Houses were built, clothes made, plows mended, horses shod. Unlike some plantations whose owners were less enterprising than my father and grandfather, Ironwood had its own blacksmith shop, tannery and harness shop, and an apothecary. Our midwives assisted in the many births. We needed little that the plantation didn't produce except salt and iron goods.

Farming our vast lands and multiple crops required countless hard days of toil in the fields. All our workers, in truth, all the denizens of Ironwood except my family, were Negro slaves. My grandfather acquired the first slaves when he founded Ironwood over fifty years before. Since then, our slaveholdings had grown as the plantation grew. Many of our slaves were born and raised at Ironwood. Others were acquired from the slave markets in Savannah or other plantations.

Grandfather and Father both treated our slaves far differently than was typical. "I've followed my own father's footsteps, Robert," Father once told me. "I treat my slaves better and give them more than other slave owners. They work harder for the better life." At Ironwood, the whip was rarely used. Rather, uncooperative or unproductive slaves were sold.

Ironwood was the only plantation I knew of where a slave, rather than a hired white-man, was the overseer, as the manager was called. Our overseer was named Jonah. Approximately Father's age, Jonah lived in the largest of the slave houses with his wife, Sarah, who managed the household since Mother died, his two sons, Samuel and David, and his daughter, Constance Anne, who was named after Mother.

We were at dinner one night, seated, as always, with Father at the head, Elizabeth on his left, and I opposite him. Father looked at me and said, "Robert, Mr. Whitfield died and his funeral is day after tomorrow at Whitlands. We'll need to leave in the morning. You'll drive the buckboard and I'll ride alongside."

"Why can't I go?" Elizabeth asked.

"We'll be bringing back slaves," Father replied.

I responded, "I'll be ready, Father." From the corner of my eye, I saw Sarah watching me intently and I wondered why.

Before sunrise the next morning, Sarah awakened me. I dressed in my traveling suit, packed my best clothes to wear at the funeral, and trotted downstairs to eat another of our cook's delicious breakfasts of eggs, ham, fresh made bread, and strong tea. Immediately upon finishing, we gathered our greatcoats to ward off the cold dankness of the early morn, checked and holstered our weapons, and joined Jonah in front of the Great House where he had readied our horses.

I did not like driving the buckboard. The easy gait of horseback was less tiring on my backside than the buckboard's bounce and our riding horses set a quicker pace than the buckboard's paired draft horses. Father hadn't asked my opinion and I, therefore, didn't give one.

With Father on Liberty, his red steed, leading the way, we rode down Ironwood's main road, past the gardens and the fruit tree orchards to the main gate where we joined the common road leading to Whitlands. Father paid me no mind. He was surveying his fields as we rode.

The sun had been up an hour or so when Father raised his hand to indicate we should stop. I set the brake and tied the reins around it before stepping down to stretch my legs and ease my already aching bones. We stripped off our greatcoats and tossed them in back of the buckboard before drinking a bit of water from the canteen Sarah packed for us. The day threatened inclement weather, but as yet the rains of March weren't upon us.

When he was ready for us to begin again, Father surprised me by tying Liberty to the buckboard.

"I'll ride with you, Robert," he said. "Why don't I drive for awhile?

"If you wish," I replied.

I climbed aboard, sitting on the left in the driver's seat as Father loosened the reins, released the brake, and popped the reins on the team's rumps to start us again.

There was only one reason Father would ride with me, for he hated the buckboard as much as I did. He had something he wanted to say. I was silent. He would tell me in his own good time. We passed the main gate to Riverwood, the plantation that adjoined ours, before he began.

"Robert, we need to talk about women and children and life," he said seriously.

Certainly, I was surprised. I knew about reproduction of animals as any farm boy my age would, although I had not yet experienced my own first mating despite a rapidly increasing eagerness to do so.

"Edward Whitfield was a good farmer. Whitlands is a prime property. I want it, and Edward wanted me to have it upon his demise."

I said nothing. Father looked at me with a twinkle in his eye.

"I do appreciate a respectful silence, Son," he said. "But you're welcome to join in the conversation. You will be a man in the blink of an eye."

"Are you going to buy Whitlands?" I asked.

"No, Robert. I have arranged for you to marry Jane Marie."

I choked and gasped, which made him guffaw so loudly he scared birds from the trees. He slapped me on the back.

"I wish you could see your face," he said.

I didn't want to see my face. I'm sure it was red and mottled as it always is when I'm flustered. "Father, I don't want to marry her," I said when I had recovered my tongue.

"Why not? She's a good looking lass."

"It's not that. She's a... a shrew."

"Edward preferred to think of her as high-spirited. She will be a challenge for you."

"Challenge? She'll be the death of me," I said.

"Hardly. She's certainly no worse than her mother."

"Who drove Mr. Whitfield to an early grave," I said, hoping for any point in my favor to worm my way from under this life sentence he had pronounced on me.

"Do you think?" Father asked. I could tell by his tone he was wise to my gambit.

"Of course," I bluffed. "Even I could see the meanness of her spirit."

Father fixed his cool, calm eyes on me.

"Every man has a weakness, Robert. That weakness can be anything. Most often, it's cards or whiskey or women's sweet cunts. Edward's weakness was his relationship with Mary Elizabeth, his own wife. Do you remember September, my mare?"

"Yes, Father," I replied. September was his favorite horse before Liberty. What she had to do with this discussion, I had no idea.

"Do you remember sitting on the fence watching me train her? You might not, you were only eight at the time."

"No, I remember. September was the first horse I watched you break."

"Were you there the day we roped her legs and whipped her?"

"Yes, I was," I answered.

"That day made her docile, more malleable and eager to please. I didn't bring the whip harshly to her at first. I tried softer techniques, but, in the end, the whip brought her to heel."

"Are you suggesting a woman should be treated that way?"

"I'm saying a harsh and demanding hand with a liberal dose of punishment can soften a woman's demeanor, but it should be applied only if all else fails."

"Even Mrs. Whitfield?"

"I think she would greatly benefit from it."

"But we don't whip our slaves," I said.

"No, we don't, and I hope we never will."

"Then why would a man whip a white woman who is his wife?"

He laughed. "Because you can't sell them," he said. He popped the reins and called to the team. They quickened their pace.

I was sorely confused. Here I was still a virgin with bright shining ideas of marriage and baser ideas of the hard coupling of bodies I only knew from hints in books or whispers with my friends, and yet, I was quickly to be a married man shackled to a shrew of a wife with her painful harping blighting my own bleak future.

And whipping? I knew slaves were whipped when their master thought it was needed. At Father's insistence, I had witnessed that harsh punishment of two unfortunate souls at Riverwood, whose owner felt the whip was the only way to bring compliance with his wishes. But a woman? My wife?

Suddenly, a question popped into mind. "Did you whip Mother?" I blurted out.

He looked sharply at me and flicked the reins again.

I hardly remembered my mother, who died giving birth to Elizabeth when I was three. What I do remember was a soft, warm, smiling women who sang to me at night and talked to me in hushed, loving tones, whose eyes sparkled with tender mischief when we played a game. I sometimes stood before her portrait hanging above the fireplace in the parlor and stared, letting her countenance renew my dim memories. I wondered what she was like in flesh and blood, and if my recollections of her arms around me when I was small were as they truly were or figments of my fertile imagination.

I had never thought of her as a woman, only a mother. Father's comments to me that day thrust her into a different light.

Father kept his face from me, but I saw him brush a tear from his cheek. He slowed the rig to a stop, set the brake, and stepped down. I watched him walk away, pretending to check the harness while bringing his handkerchief to his eyes.

Turning to me, he said, "I'll ride for awhile." He untied Liberty's reins from the buckboard, mounted, and kicked the big horse ahead at a gallop. I slid behind the buckboard's reins, released the brake, and followed after him.

What was my mother like?

I had met other women and I knew what they were like. My father's mother was tall and thin, with a perpetually sour face as if lemons were her only sustenance. Except at dinner, I don't remember ever seeing her without a prayer book in her hand or a shawl draped over her bony shoulders. Mrs. Whitfield was a shrew, carping and biting. Mrs. Townsend, of the Savannah Townsends and wife of Father's solicitor, was plump as a berry and bland as oatmeal with nary a thought of her own.

I liked to think Mother was like Elizabeth, my sister, or, I should say, Elizabeth was like Mother. Elizabeth was bright and shiny with eyes that either glowed with happiness or batted petulantly when she wanted her way. Elizabeth was a sprite, a bundle of sweet smelling joy dancing through Ironwood and our lives. Yes, Mother must have been that way. Father's reaction was too strong for anything else.

My thoughts turned to Jane Marie Whitfield, my bride-to-be if Father carried through with his awful plan. Jane Marie was striking with black hair down to her waist and white porcelain skin. Lately, she kept her cute nose high in the air, to everyone's misfortune. And she did have beautiful blue eyes. I knew those eyes when she flirted with me, and Jane Marie had played the coquette more than once. But more often lately I had seen those eyes angry and spiteful. To see her then was like looking in the open gates of Hell. That view of her, and living with it forever, disheartened me.

As to Jane Marie's body, I had some idea since the white women in our region often dressed in flowing gowns, leaving their shoulders bare, with corsets and stays to narrow their waists and raise their bosoms in, for me at least, an unfulfilled promise of treasures to come. I must admit I found the long curve of Jane Marie's neck, the perfect symmetry of her collarbones, and the soft flesh flowing to what appeared to be well-formed breasts quite appealing. However, the gowns they wore and the boots they donned to enhance their shapely feet and the pains with which they applied their makeup, all to attract the attention of men, seemed to be folly, for when we were attracted, they drove us off, huffing that our attentions were unwanted.

The slaves in the fields wore less armament, dressing simply in loose, flowing dresses that moved in the wind as they worked. That wind was an ally to man, sometimes blowing their dresses against their bodies revealing valleys and hills to titillate our thoughts.

I had seen only one woman naked. It was a queer incident of fate lasting only a few moments, but those moments were stamped in my brain as indelibly as the foundry's name was stamped on a plow.

We had a slave named Pearly Bright. She was a house slave, which meant she worked in the house as a maid or cook or laundress rather than in the fields. Her residence, unlike all the other slaves, was adjunct to the Great House itself, allowing her entrance without enduring the weather.

Late one night less than a year ago, I awoke with a deep hunger for the gooseberry pie I knew Cook had left in the kitchen. I quietly slipped out of my bed and padded downstairs in my stocking feet to find the sweetness to dispatch my ache. The moon was bright that night, filtering through the shade trees on the kitchen side of the house.

Before I could light a kitchen candle, I heard a giggle and the patter of feet. I froze, hidden, I thought, in the darkness of the room. In a moment, a female form floated out of the hall and crossed the kitchen toward the door leading to Pearly Bright's quarters. The moonlight reflected from her shiny black skin for she was in all her naked glory. How I wished for the brightness of the sun or a candelabra, at least, to illuminate what I could see-the roundness of her breasts with the long hard tissue jutting from it, the curve of her backside and her legs-and reveal what I couldn't see at all but desperately wanted to see-the hidden secrets of her sex.

She stopped with her hand on the doorknob to her quarters and half-turned to look at me. The brightness of her teeth flashed like a lighthouse beacon with the whites of her eyes reflective counterpoints.

"You needs to ask yo' Pappy for a pretty little girl like me, Master Robert," she said in a tone I'd never heard but knew instinctively represented raw carnality.

She opened the door and was gone, leaving me shaking and unbelieving of what had transpired. I was struck dumb, not recovering my senses until I found myself in my own room with a gooseberry pie in one hand and a painfully stiff manhood in the other. I dispatched the latter before sinking back in my feather bed to eat the former and dream of Pearly Bright.

I knew then Pearly Bright wasn't walking naked through the Great House at Ironwood for no reason. That hall led to Father's bedroom. I didn't ask him about it because of my own embarrassment. Thereafter, I watched him and Pearly Bright. During the day, he treated her no differently than he treated the other slaves, and she was a good servant who acted like she deserved no special preferences.

But I suddenly could see what I suspect had been there all along but invisible to me. I saw the tiny downturn of her head accompanied by those big black eyes staring up at him through her lashes, or the tilt of her body as she served by bowing from the waist to offer to him a glance at her breasts, or other signals of her sexuality, and her eagerness to share it with him.

I realized, too, I had seen those signals other times from her to him, and from other women to other men. I had even seen such signs from Jane Marie Whitfield to me on more than one occasion, but I had been too naive to understand them.

I certainly did wish my Father would provide me with a pretty girl like Pearly Bright to patter to my bed and do with me what I could only imagine, but I did not ask. To do so would have been a violation of the unspoken social contract I felt with him.

I reconsidered Jane Marie and her signals, wondering if they were intentional and for me, or intentional but I was only a surrogate for someone else whether named or unnamed, or unintentional and part of nature's plan her body unthinkingly performed as she grew. Of course, now that I was aware of the import of those subtle signs, I was determined to act upon them.

I saw Jane Marie on a regular basis as our families visited back and forth at one plantation or the other. The next time she passed those signs, I responded, receiving a screech, a slap, and a tongue lashing for my effort, which led me to believe she was a tease. Never once did I consider I might have read the signs incorrectly for I had studied Pearly Bright's movements with the intensity a scientist studies a bug, and felt assured in my conclusions.

We visited the Whitfields again, and again Jane Marie passed me the signs. I did not respond for I knew what to expect. I was slapped anyway and labeled a cad for ignoring her.

Certainly, no man can happily suffer this kind of treatment and I did not look forward to Jane Marie's presence in my life.

I saw Father standing beside Liberty on the edge of the roadway. The sun was high over us now and I suddenly realized my belly was empty. I stopped beside him. As I watered the horses, he opened the traveling basket Cook had prepared and set a table on the buckboard's wide bed. We ate standing up to allow the part of us that most suffered the journey's ride an opportunity to rest.

When our repast was complete, he tied Liberty to the rig and took its reins to drive. I sat silently beside him and waited for him to speak.

"I loved your Mother, God rest her soul. I loved her with all my heart."

The rattle of the buckboard, the chatter of the harness, and the rhythmical plodding of the horses' hooves did not fill the void his silence left. I was contemplating if my newly received permission to enter the conversation at will entitled me to speak here, when Father spoke again.

"I have never told you our story, have I?"

"No, sir."

"Weddings are arranged, Robert, as I have arranged for you to marry Jane Marie. It isn't so with all people. Some of the lower classes wed whoever will have them or whoever first becomes round with their child, but arranged marriages are our way. Your mother and I were an arranged marriage, as were our parents before us and their parents before them. There is too much at risk for it to be left to chance. Ownership of land and businesses pass by marriage. Heritage and family traditions and accumulated wealth all pass by marriage. Do you understand?"

"I think so, but, well..."

"Go on, Robert. Speak your mind."

"You say you loved Mother, but you had no say in marrying her."

"That's true, but my father saw that I loved her even though I was too young to be aware of it. And he saw that she loved me. There were other matches he could have made for me, matches that would enrich our family purse beyond what dear Constance brought to us, but he knew our true feelings for each other and arranged our marriage for our mutual benefit."

"Then why are you shackling me to Jane Marie?" I cried.

"She loves you and you will love her if you don't now."

"How can you say that? I despise her."

"Do you?" he asked.

"I said I did."

"Then why do your eyes gleam in happy anticipation when we go to Whitlands? Why do you stand straight and tall while we're there? And why are you so angry when she doesn't fall at your feet like a happy puppy?" His eyes twinkled and he was grinning like a cat. "I'll tell you. Because you want her to want you and when she acts like she doesn't, you are hurt and confused."

"That's not it."

"Yes, it is, and I was the same way with your mother."

He closed his eyes and was lost in thought, not even realizing the team had slowed once again.

"My God, Constance was a flirt. She would sashay and giggle and bat those big eyes at me. She'd pretend she had some secret to tell me and come close to whisper in my ear, but it was a ploy to tantalize my senses with her delicious fragrance and push her breasts into me to tease me with their softness."

"Oh."

He chuckled. "I've seen Jane Marie do that with you."

"I know," I replied, remembering the feel of Jane Marie's body on mine.

"Constance teased me unmercifully from the time we met when I was fifteen and she was thirteen. By the time we married two years later, I was as keen as a bull in mating season for her. She didn't disappoint me. Not once." He popped the reins and the team stepped up their pace. "You asked if I ever whipped her. I never did although I did warm her pretty bottom with my hand a few times for our enjoyment."

"But there's a whip hanging on the wall of your bedroom."

"Ah, yes. Let me explain how that came to be. On the day before we married, her father asked to see me in his study. I had never been alone with Mr. Courtland and I didn't know what to expect. When we entered, Constance was sitting primly on a chair by his desk. He motioned for me to sit. When I did, he handed me that whip. 'A woman is like a horse, Bruce, ' he said. 'Sometimes she needs a whip to encourage her to perform her tasks. That whip was made for you, to use on my daughter if she earns it.' I was much surprised as you might imagine. My dear Constance was watching me like a bird watches a bug and I studied her with the same intensity.

"Then Mr. Courtland asked, 'Do you have anything to say, Constance?' Your mother spoke the truth from her soul, saying, 'Use it if I need it, Bruce, but I promise you now that I will never need it for I will be the wife of your dreams.' Upon our marriage, we settled into the Little House at Ironwood. She hung the whip on the wall there. When we moved into the Great House, she again hung that whip near our bed. I never took it down. She was, as she solemnly promised, the wife of my dreams."

"I need to pee," I said.

"Me, too," he replied. He brought the rig to a halt and we dismounted to relieve ourselves on the bushes beside the road.

Once underway, I said, "Do you think I will need a whip for Jane Marie?"

"You might. She has seen her mother's carping and the misery she wrought on Edward. She might think that is the way a marriage is supposed to be because humans, like cats or dogs, learn from watching their elders. If she does, I'd suggest a good spanking with your hand on the night such behavior first appears to encourage her in the right direction. If further corporeal punishment is needed, you can administer it later."

"When will we marry?" I asked.

At this point, I must state I felt no apprehension concerning my impending nuptials to Jane Marie. Father's discussion heightened my awareness of relationships with the fairer sex and shed a bright light on my intended and her behavior. I realized she was most definitely interested in me as a man and that her flirtatious teasing, which started as early as I could remember, had increased to the point of being intolerable only lately. Clearly, she was focusing her feminine wiles on me in hopes of bringing me to her side at the altar.

I, of course, had responded as would be anticipated, with increasing mental frustration and a growing awareness in my genitals that she was a woman I would enjoy, for Jane Marie was a lovely and fiery girl, high-spirited and quick witted as well as charming when she wished to be. I had spent many lovely hours with her, which my memory hid as her teasing became unbearable. As I reexamined her actions toward me and my reactions to her, I knew those happy times would be multiplied upon completion of our nuptials.

"Our reason for visiting Whitlands is threefold, Robert. First, of course, is to attend Edward's funeral. Second is to set the date of your marriage to Jane Marie if I can assuage your objections to marrying her.

"I have no objections, Father. I think Jane Marie will make me an excellent wife."

He looked askance at me. "Oh? You said she was a shrew."

"I have reconsidered and I was wrong."

"I was serious about your taking her in hand and providing the guidance she needs."

"I know and I will, but I see her differently now. I think she will welcome my husbandly requests."

"You've made a good decision, Robert. Jane Marie does love you and you love her more than you realize," he said warmly. He rushed the horses again. "The third reason we are visiting Whitlands is to acquire three slaves, a woman named Patience and her two daughters. You know Pearly Bright was my mistress."

I felt the warmth of a blush rising in me. "Yes, sir," I said.

"She told me about that night you saw her coming from my bedroom and what she said to you."

"You knew?" popped from me.

"Yes, and I waited for you to ask me for a girl of your own. You never did."

"I thought you would be appalled," I replied.

"No. In fact, Jonah and I had our eyes on one or two we thought might be suitable for you."

"I wish I had asked," I said dejectedly.

"That's water under the bridge now. Patience was Edward's mistress. I am acquiring her for several reasons. Foremost in my mind is that she is a beautiful and sensual woman well skilled in pleasing a man and eager to use those skills for his enjoyment. But foremost in Edward's mind was to remove her and her daughters from Whitlands and any vengeance Mary Elizabeth might work upon them. Patience was a thorn in Mary Elizabeth's side that festered mightily."

"She knew about his mistress?"

"Yes, and so did Jane Marie. Women of our class expect their husbands to take mistresses, whether from the readily available slaves or some white trollop they stumble upon, so they turn a blind eye to our dalliances and accept without discourse our lovers, even if they are within the confines of their own house and among its servants. But there are unspoken rules we all understand and those rules must be followed. Edward did not follow those rules and he suffered the consequences. That was his mistake and a mistake you should not make in your own marriage. Mary Elizabeth's heart hardened from his flaunting of Patience. Bad leads to bad. As she hardened, Edward turned more to Patience rather than dealing with his own wife, increasing her concerns and multiplying her discontent like fertilizer grows crops."

I knew Patience. She was a house slave at Whitlands, an unusually striking woman with an air of unrestrained sensuality. As I remembered my many visits there, the interplay between Mr. Whitfield, his wife, and his mistress slowly became apparent.

"What are the rules?" I asked.

"That's a particularly good question and a hard one to answer, for in each household husband and wife modify and adapt those rules to fit their own peculiarities. Some base rules do apply. You should never flaunt your mistress or tease or taunt your wife with her, and never compare the two. You do not ignore your wife or her needs. Your wife must always believe she is the first and most important woman in your life. The base rule for the wife is to never ask if you have a mistress, or question your absences from her own bed, or raise an issue about the subtle interchange sexual familiarity always brings. If she violates this rule and does question your relationship, you must deny it, deny it with all your powers to persuade, even if she finds you in bed together and the proof is undeniable."

"So you lie to her even when you both know it is a lie and she accepts it as truth."

"Exactly."

"Strange," I said.

"Perhaps, but true. Edward violated those rules and so did Mary Elizabeth. They both suffered the consequences. But it was Edward's awful flaunting that was the ultimate wedge between them."

"How did he flaunt the rules?" I asked.

"The final split was to lay Patience down on the dinner table and take her there as Mary Elizabeth sat seething at the other end and a guest watched in horror. That was unforgivable and a terrible humiliation not only for Mary Elizabeth but for Patience and the guest."

"Were you the guest?"

"Yes, I was, to my mortification. Later, when we two were alone, I bitterly chastised Edward for his conduct, but he was unrepentant as to Mary Elizabeth, although he was sorely saddened by his action's impact on his relationship with both Patience and me.

"That is something else you must remember, Robert. Your mistress may be a common girl or a slave over whom you have the power of life and death, but she is, first and foremost, a woman. She knows, as do you, her children will not bear your name except in the most queer of circumstances and her presence in your life is subject to an abrupt and uncontrollable ending because your relationship is of and for the flesh and not for fortune and family and name.

"She knows you will not call for her in the brightness of parties and social occasions but in the dimness of night when she comes to you stealthily, so she must know her importance to you as a harbinger of joy and heat and pleasures of the flesh and believe those pleasures are great and highly valued by you. More importantly, she must know you care for her."

"I know I have no experience in these matters, but it seems to me having a mistress and not caring for her makes no sense," I said.

"I agree, but not all men do. There are men who will take a woman, particularly a slave woman, and toss her aside like rubbish when their pleasure is complete. That robs them and the women of some of the greatest pleasures, those that only come from a deeper communion than mere flesh."

Father did not speak for some time as he patiently waited for me to digest all he had said. When he believed I was ready, he spoke again.

"Patience has two daughters, Ebony, who is two years older than you, and Fancy, who was born the same week as Jane Marie and, like her, is approaching sixteen. Edward fathered those girls. He knew when he died Mary Elizabeth could make their lives a living Hell. He didn't want that for them, for he may have loved them in his own way. I promised him I would provide for them and see to their needs."

I remembered Ebony. She was a fine looking girl who had been blessed in her physical attributes. I did not remember Fancy.

"Patience will become my mistress. A man needs a woman in his life and she is a striking woman."

"Why did you give up Pearly Bright?" I asked.

"It was time. She was ready for a husband and Micah sorely wanted her."

"Father, is..."

"Her child mine?" he said completing my thought. "No, he isn't. I have only one other child, Felicity, Eliza's eldest."

Eliza had been a house slave, occupying the quarters Pearly Bright later occupied and which now stood empty. She was our chief seamstress, managing other slaves and providing all the clothing worn at Ironwood. Her husband, James, was one of Jonah's trusted assistants, who would be entitled "assistant overseer" if such titles were given.

"If something happens to me, Robert, I want you to provide for Felicity and Eliza and James and their other children."

"Yes, Father," I said.

"We have complete control over our slaves. We may buy and sell or kill and maim or do whatever we wish with them, but they are humans, Robert, and only a fool acts without consideration of their feelings. There are too many fools in the Carolinas and, I tell you, we may well rue the day we enslaved them."

"I understand," I replied. I think I did comprehend what he said, at least on a primitive level. While his discourse explained in good measure his principles in managing our slaves, it also raised other questions, one of which I voiced. "May I ask... I mean... did you, in taking Eliza or Pearly Bright to your bed... was that act itself contrary to their feelings?"

"I didn't force them. They came eagerly to me. But we were talking about Patience and her daughters," he said, changing the subject. "Patience will be my mistress and live in the quarters formerly occupied by Pearly Bright. I am giving her daughters to you."

My head jerked around and I asked incredulously, "What did you say?"

He chuckled. "I'm going to give Ebony and Fancy to you. They will be your slaves."

"Mine?"

"Yes. Yours."

There are, as I was fully cognizant, passages into manhood that each, in its own way, signals one's growth and development. I remembered well events in my own life of that nature, such as the acquisition and mastering of firearms and my first horse. Owning my own slave was such an event. I knew instinctively it was all preparation for my marriage and, eventually, my own plantation.

While my mind pondered the grander scheme of wife, children, and land, a part of me stirred at the thoughts of my slave girl providing the rich and essential services that Pearly Bright once provided my father.

Father, ever observant of those around him, apparently read my thoughts.

"Both Ebony and Fancy know of the relationship between their mother and Edward, and they know he is their father. They all know they became our slaves the moment Edward died and we are arriving to transport them back to Ironwood." He hesitated a moment. "I have been told Patience has explained to her daughters the nuances of those liaisons between master and slave and what they, as women, might expect their master to request of them."

Infuriatingly, he ceased speaking until I could stand it no more. "And?" I demanded.

"I'm told Ebony joyfully anticipates your approach."

"And Fancy?"

He laughed. "She was less eager, but she is younger and still a virgin while her sister coupled with Edward and at least two of the bucks. Ebony is a trollop one might say, but her experience can be put to good use in your own learning. Enjoy Ebony for now and be patient with Fancy. I suspect she will come around."

"Good Lord. Two slave girls and a wife," I muttered.

Father laughed and slapped me on the back. He popped the reins hard and hurried us toward Whitlands.

My mind reeled with my thoughts bouncing from this subject to that like a staggering drunk. Here was I, who awakened this morning a lad with fleeting cares but who would go to sleep tonight a man who was betrothed, slave owning, and facing the responsibility of inheriting not one, but two, significant farms.

Other thoughts flittered through my mind-thoughts of women, although the actual woman changed from Jane Marie to Ebony to Pearly Bright to others I had observed, back and forth in maddening fashion, leaving me with an ache in my trousers and a spinning head.

Father and I continued our discussion randomly, primarily with him answering questions popping from me. He reiterated his comments about the subject of slavery, again pointing out the dismal conditions and treatment at Riverwood, particularly as they compared to the slaves' situation at Ironwood. He voiced his intention to raise the slave standards at Whitlands and assigned the task his first priority.

We talked more of Mother, who, as I had reasoned, was indeed an older Elizabeth Father had loved mightily and still loved despite the passage of time. We talked about my sister and what he hoped for her. We talked of planting and crops and labor utilization.

And we talked of Jane Marie Whitfield, who was to become my wife, and of her mother, Mary Elizabeth, who would be my mother-in-law and, therefore, my burden.

Father more fully explained his agreement with Mr. Whitfield, which they had reduced to writing in a legal contract. Father would immediately take over management of Whitlands, with the profits inuring partly to him and partly to Mrs. Whitfield and Jane Marie as provided in Edward's will. Mrs. Whitfield suffered a financial detriment from the harshness separating her from her husband. Edward had, no doubt out of spite, left his wife dependent, in part, on the goodwill of his daughter and her future husband for her security. Father counseled me on how to address those issues with the Whitfield ladies should they arise.

The sun was gone from the horizon and the heat of the day was lessening when Father turned the buckboard into the main gate at Whitlands. He stopped the rig and said, "I'll ride from here."

"Thank you, Father," I said.

"You're welcome. I know you will make me proud."

He mounted Liberty and led us down the darkened path to Whitfield, which would, one day in the immediate future, be my home, and where today resided Jane Marie, my wife-to-be, and the winsome slave, Ebony, with whom I would lie that very night.

Chapter 2 ยป