Chapter One - The Shermans

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"Abby, do you want any more orange juice?" Mrs. Strinbrall asked.

"Oh, no thank you," Abigail drank the last of her orange juice and set the glass down, "I'm finished."

"Really? You hardly touched your hotcakes!" Mrs. Sherman, Abby's aunt, butted in, "Were they not to your standards?"

"No, they were lovely, bu-"

"I told you Martha!" Mrs. Sherman exclaimed, "Raising your daughter in the city would ruin her! Look how little she appreciates my food."

"Excuse me?" Mrs. Strinbrall replied. Her mouth was slightly ajar and she was gripping her fork, "My daughter was raised the same way we were, despite living in the city!"

"Abigail, how long does it take wheat to grow?" Mrs. Sherman turned to face Abby. Her emerald-colored eyes seemed to pierce through Abby, making her shudder.

"I-" Abby tugged on her dress's collar, "Three weeks?"

Mrs. Sherman scoffed and turned to her husband, who was across the room with Abby's father. Mr. Strinbrall was invested in his newspaper, on which the front page read, "RMS PERSIA SETS SAIL FROM LIVERPOOL." Mr. Sherman, on the other hand, was smoking a cigar while studying one of the house's many paintings.

"Did you hear that, Charles?" Mrs. Sherman asked Mr. Sherman, "She doesn't know how long it takes to grow wheat!"

"I do not see why that is necessary to know," Mr. Sherman replied, taking out his cigar.

"But all country people know that!" Mrs. Sherman exclaimed, "I beli-"

Abby cleared her throat and stood up from the table, "Thank you for the breakfast, Aunt Sherman."

Mrs. Sherman ignored her and the adults continued bickering about the silly subject. Abby brushed off her dress, slipped into her coat, and exited the farmhouse.

Abby made her way around the house and back towards the fields, where multiple slaves were working. Abby never liked visiting her aunt and uncle, not just because of Mrs. Sherman's sour attitude, but because their property lacked a beautiful garden to relax in.

As Abby walked down the dirt path, she longed to return home to see her flowers again. That's the only thing she really cared about, her garden. Abby tended to her garden the way most people tend to their children. She was always there to plant new flowers, water the bushes, or just relax and enjoy its elegance.

Abby neared the slaves' house and stopped. Without missing a beat, she removed her coat and knocked on the door. She hadn't had a chance to talk to them yet.

The Strinbralls, like many Northerners, did not own slaves and supported freedom for black Americans. Likewise, the Shermans were the complete opposite and owned two slave families, the youngest of them being Abby's age. Abby was nineteen, and so was Tabatha, but Tabs (as Abby affectionately called her) had lived and worked on the Shermans' property since the age of six.

Abby backed away from the door as it opened, revealing Tabs. Behind her was Frank, her brother, sitting near the fireplace.

"Hello, Tabs!" Abby exclaimed, opening her arms for a hug.

"'Ello missus, Abigail," Tabs accepted the hug and invited Abby inside. Abby sat down in a rickety rocking chair and folded her coat on her lap.

"How are you both?" Abby looked up at them and smiled. The house may not have been well built, but it was cozy.

"Not so good, miss. It's darn cold," Frank responded. Frank was the most educated of the bunch. One visit, Mrs. Strinbrall had spent the time to teach him and give the families some books, to the Shermans' disapproval.

"Well, it is April. So it must warm up soon," Abby said.

"Nuh-uh. Mrs. Sherman say the cold will last a long time," Tabs poked the fire then moved to sit next to Abby.

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