I slip past stalls, keeping to the shadows as so not to cause alarm. Finally, I reach Skymane, a black mare whom I have always loved. Carefully, I saddle and lead her away. She makes no noise, save for the clip-clop of hooves.
At home in the darkness, I look over my birthright, my prison, my life - and prepare to leave without a regret. Turning to Skymane, I hear it - a soft rustling behind me. No words can describe the fear that swallows me as, so very slowly, I turn. Gazing into the azure eyes of Miss Anabella Smith, I know my life is over.
“Leila.” her voice, high and thin, is just a whisper in the balmy southern night. I tense, but cannot run - she knows that. She was there the day my leg was mangled by the overseer’s whip. Now, slowly, she begins to extend her hand. What is she doing? I am trapped….
A rough sack is thrust into my hands. Glancing in, I see clothes, medicine, food. Shocked, my head snaps up. Anabella’s eyes are huge, reflecting silver stars above. In her other hand, she holds the blanket from my cabin.
“Father will find this in the morning - heading south.” My breath is a choked heave.
“Why…. Miss?” Her sky eyes lock onto my sea.
“Because you seem - well - a bit like me. I don’t know….” Her cheeks flush peach and she looks down. She may not have the courage to say what she really means - but I understand.
She nods to Skymane. “Hurry. Go.”
Without looking back, I clamber up. Then, with a sack of charity and a prayer for freedom, I prepare to make the most desperate journey of my life - north. Deep in my soul, something awakens - a true, intrinsic belief - a hope that someday master and slave, black and white- may live in peace.