This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Nathan and Tom worked well together and soon had the farm on the same parity as many profitable southern farms. Tom admired both Nathan and Isaac for taking him in. He knew they could easily have sent him back to slavery in Arkansas. He managed to save the majority of his small salary they paid him. Tom looked forward to each workday, but missed the company of his employers at night. He loved his small cabin, but at night it seemed large and empty.
As spring was approaching, Isaac and Nathan decided that with Tom's help on the farm, Isaac would continue working at the mercantile. Isaac's salary would pay Tom's salary, with a modest amount left over for savings.
As typical, Isaac was awake before Nathan and prepared breakfast before departing to Park Hill to his job. "What a cold miserable day," Nathan observed as he washed up for breakfast. "I think Tom and I will do our chores and then give this place a thorough cleaning."
"What a wonderful idea," Isaac agreed. "We've neglected our housekeeping duties lately. I'll leave the dishes for you guys to take care of, then. Now, give me a kiss and I'll be on my way to work."
"What a busy day," Isaac commented to John Tillery, the mercantile manager.
"It's a cold rainy day and most don't care to work out in this miserable weather," John explained.
Isaac looked up from his busy day and saw Nathan standing in front of him with a concerned look on his face. "What's wrong?" Isaac asked.
"Have you seen Tom?" Nathan inquired. "He'd already done the outside chores when I went to the barn, but I haven't seen him since. And one of the horses is gone."
"Surely he couldn't be far," Isaac said. "He knows it's dangerous for him to leave the farm without one of us."
"If he's left us, I hope he's gone north to safety," Nathan said. "The horse isn't that important. He's more than earned his salary, plus the value of the horse."
"Give me a few minutes and I'll close the store and ride back home with you," Isaac said. "Maybe we can find out something when we get home. Tomorrow's Sunday and I'll join you in looking for him."
Following breakfast, Isaac went to the barn to saddle the horses while Nathan washed the dishes. Isaac saw a horse with two riders in the distance. As they came closer, he realized it was Tom riding their horse, but who was the other person? Isaac soon realized that the second rider was a young Negro girl, who appeared to be about Tom's age.
"This is my wife Sally," Tom said. "She's a good cook and will cook for you and Master Nathan. You don't need to pay. Please, Master, let her stay."
"Of course she can stay," Isaac promised. "You didn't tell us you had a wife, Tom."
"We've just jumped the broom," Tom said. (A term many used for a Negro marriage at this time period.)
"Welcome to your new home, Sally," Isaac said, as Nathan joined them.
"Thank you, Master," Sally timidly replied, as she looked at Nathan with suspicion.
"Yes, Sally, welcome to your new home," Nathan said. "You two must be hungry. Come on in the house and we'll fix breakfast for you two."
Sally proved to be as hard working as Tom. She was an excellent cook, as Tom had promised. Isaac and Nathan had never seen Tom so happy. "It worries me that we don't have papers on those two in case some white man comes along and tries to take them back to Arkansas," Nathan said.
"I'll talk to John and see if he has any suggestions," Isaac said.
"Give me a few days and I'll see what I can do," John promised, when Isaac explained his concern about Tom and Sally.
Isaac was surprised a few days later when John handed him a bill of sale for Tom and Sally, two Negro slaves.
"These are impressive," Isaac said. "They don't even appear new. But, I didn't want to own them. I want them to have freedman papers."
"I expected that," John said with a smile. "All you have to do is sign these papers that give them their freedom.
The farm continued to prosper with the hard work of Nathan and Tom. Sally had taken over all of the household duties and this gave them more time to work in the fields. Isaac continued with his work at the mercantile.
It had been a somewhat busy day and Isaac was busy preparing an order for new merchandise when he heard, "I'm Adam Hampton, and I have some new merchandise I'd like to show you."
"It can't be," Isaac said, more to himself than anyone else. It was his father; the father that was away when the soldiers had arrived to remove them from their home.
"Is that you, Isaac?" Adam asked of his son. "How's your mother?"
"She died on the trail here," Isaac said.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Adam said, more like a stranger than a husband. "I'll be in the area on business for a while. Perhaps I could spend some time with you and your family."
"You would be welcome," Isaac said, in an offer that would be expected of a son to his father. "I'll be going home in an hour and you'll be welcome to come home with me. I'm sure Sally will have plenty of food cooked. She normally prepares plenty."
Isaac and his father rode the five miles from Park Hill to the farm with few words between them. Isaac was surprised that his father never asked more about the death of his wife.
"This is Tom and his wife Sally, and this is Nathan," Isaac said, as he introduced the couple and then Nathan to his father.
"I assumed that Sally was your wife," Adam said.
"No, I have no wife. Sally and Tom work for us," Isaac explained.
"Us?" Adam questioned.
"Nathan and I own this farm," Isaac said without further explanation. "Sally has supper ready. I'm sure you'll enjoy her wonderful cooking."
"Do you expect me to sit and dine with Niggers?" Adam snapped in anger.
"That decision is yours," Isaac replied. "Sally and Tom are our employees as well as our friends. Now, if you care to join us you may. Otherwise, you can sit over near the fireplace while we enjoy a wonderful meal."
Adam wasn't pleased with eating at the same table with Sally and Tom, but his hunger overcame his pride. The food was consumed with very little conversation. However, Nathan did give Isaac an approving smile as they ate.
Sally washed the dishes and then she and Tom excused themselves to retire to their cabin. "I'm tired and ready for bed. Where's the bedroom where I sleep?" Adam asked.
"We only have one bedroom at the present time," Isaac explained. "I'll make you a comfortable bed here near the fire."
Although Adam wasn't happy with the sleeping arrangements he said nothing. He didn't suspect that Isaac and Nathan were lovers since at that time it wasn't uncommon for men to share the same bed.
Isaac and Nathan quietly (or so they thought) made love that night. Isaac was awake before Nathan and carefully freed himself from Nathan's arms. He found his father sitting near the fireplace when he entered the room. "Good morning, Father, I trust you slept well. Sally will be here shortly and prepare breakfast."
"I slept well enough for sleeping on the floor," Adam said, still angry over not getting the bed.
"Good morning," Nathan said, as he kissed Isaac on the lips.
"I'll be going to Tahlequah and staying at the hotel there. I will not spend another night in the same house with buggers," Adam said, (using the term that was used for homosexuals at the time.)
"That decision is yours, Father," Isaac replied. "But I love Nathan and he loves me. That will not change." That was the last time Isaac saw his father.
The Cherokee people were becoming prosperous in the new land. However, there were still bitter feelings toward those who signed the treaty that gave up the ownership of their historical lands. The white men were on the verge of civil war, and Isaac had a premonition that many Cherokees would suffer from the white man's conflict.
As news of the Civil War reached the Cherokee Nation, Isaac and Nathan made plans for a hiding place for Tom and Sally in case the Southern Army arrived. They also made arrangements for the deposit of their savings in a bank in Springfield, Illinois, where John Tillery had friends.
"I don't feel good about this war," Isaac told Nathan. "Many innocent Cherokees will suffer. The whites on both sides will want to draw the Cherokees into their war."
Isaac's predictions came to pass and the war was a bitter one. There were many rumors of looting and burning. Isaac and Nathan found a small cave in the hills and hid as much food as they could. When they heard of troops in the area, they instructed Tom and Sally to take the livestock to a hiding place in the canebrakes near the Illinois River and remain there until it was safe to return.
Tom and Sally became very proficient at quickly moving the livestock, even in the middle of the night. There had been no recent reports of troops in the area, but Isaac had one of his premonitions and instructed them to go to the hiding place. He and Nathan remained in their cabin.
Isaac and Nathan went to bed and Nathan fell asleep quickly. However, sleep would not come to Isaac. It was well past midnight when exhaustion overcame Isaac and he finally fell asleep. Just before dawn they were awaken by a loud bang as the rebel soldiers kicked in the door.
The solders found Nathan holding Isaac in his arms. One of the soldiers, who appeared to be a poor white sharecropper, said, "Looks like we have a couple of buggers here." Two soldiers pulled Isaac from the bed while two others held Nathan down. The sergeant in charge pulled down his pants and climbed on top of Nathan, violating him with force and cruelty.
"Don't touch him, you bastard," Isaac screamed loudly. Isaac's protests only caused the soldier to become more violent. Isaac could no longer watch and tried to turn his head, but the other soldiers forced him to watch.
Tom heard the noise coming from the cabin, and knowing that he was only one against at least a dozen soldiers, decided that the rebels would rather have one 'Nigger' than two white men. He instructed Sally to stay hidden as he jumped on one of the horses and raced toward the cabin. "Look, there's a Nigger on that horse," one of the soldiers who was outside yelled. Tom's plan worked. The soldiers knocked Isaac to the floor. But before they could hit Nathan, he pulled the gun from under the bed and shot his attacker in the head. The soldier fell to the floor dead. The soldiers returned fire at Nathan as he continued his mad attack, killing all of them.
Isaac opened his eyes and saw Sally tending his wound. "Where's Tom" Isaac questioned.
"Tom's burying the dead soldiers before others come," Sally explained.
"Nathan? Where's Nathan?" Isaac asked, as he looked around for his lover. Sally turned her face and wouldn't answer. "Sally, I asked, where's Nathan?"
Sally turned to Isaac with tears in her eyes and said, "Mr. Isaac, they killed him."
"No!" Isaac screamed loudly and then passed out.