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But rue! Look!
Antony finally saw the truth. It was not he who could see Matthew, but Antony who watched himself through Matthew. I had taken over him somehow while in the depths of the house, as I called out for him. Matthew stood high on the stump outside; after it had been chopped down it had hardened itself- grown larger almost, around its base. Perhaps the lighting- the moon!- made it appear bigger and closer as well! Its thickness stood almost the length of a man lying down before, and now it was at least as twice that. Sweat beaded down his forehead and the circle of fire around the stump grew orange. A single ring, hovering round him- and he, I suppose I did as well, jumped down.
The ring appeared grow wider and wider as Antony went outside, and Matthew came closer to him as well. Never did the fire jump or spread (as one would expect in the Southern fall heat), but ever grew towards me, and the beat ...
I knew now where the beat had started. Where it remained and had always been. It was the beating of my own heart that I heard! It frightened me as it never had before, for now I know who's it truly was. I had deceived my own self, but no more indeed, he deceived me as too- we had become one somehow, only two bodies remained. Or I had simply taken over most of him, and in the rare moments his own mind returned, such as the moments beyond the graveyard when I found him. He was scared, for he knew not what was happening.
He still held the girl, the death grip had long since settled over her ... and she dropped to the ground. It was her he had brought out. He pointed to someone and I knew I would finish it.
My strength grew, and I finally approached the tree. The small fires were now fully lit throughout the yard, circling the tree stump, and on and off throughout the fields as far as one could see- they flickered to and fro, but only here did they light the entire yard. It was still dark though- do not let me deceive you, dear reader, so dark, but there was a taint to the light that hurt me in a way I could not think after my time inside.
I was within the circle, and the calm that I had once found was nowhere to be found. I was truly myself here. The man I had been before freedom. That none dared call to return. Matthew had. The one I would have grown to be, grown into even, out of vanity he thought he could control it- that he could control me. After all this time, yet still he had not learned. I grabbed him and flung him out of the way and to the ground before even knew I was really there.
I had left this place out of fear for the master, the fear my mother had of what I would do. Not just his father, but mine as well. For he was ours, together- Matthew and I. He had killed, murdered, the first Lady of the House when he heard the news of my mother. The true news of me. Matthew was just a babe, as was I as well. He would have killed me as well had he gotten the chance.
Our mothers had found each other in the Shopping District, then they parted ways. Our father had followed her there, seen the silver platter and bowl they both admired. Soon, and very soon, he followed my mother home, then left her alone and dying. Weary not my friends, for she was saved by her new found friend. What a shame that someone left her there, in such a hopeless state, so the Lady brought her home. The Lady gave her the silver platter, and their lives were interwoven. And there the Negro stayed until her death.
The Lady died much earlier though, never knowing what the Mater Thibideaux had done. Until that fateful day. She found that silver bowl from barely three years before. The two boys had grown together, and were playing in the yard and the slave girl, now fully grown herself, had come down ill. The Lady had cared for the extra two, mother and son, keeping them in the house. Her husband said like pets, perhaps indeed they were, for she had no other friends. So she cared for her this day too, making a bedroom out of the basement, hiding the room so well, so the master would not disturb her.
She brought the bowl, filled with water, and setting it upon the bedside table- she quickly fell asleep. The girl soon woke, and finding her there asleep, she glared into the bowl and saw what the Lady had seen. There stood a man. An ancient man. He screamed, then cried, until the girl could stand it no more. She took the bowl, that had been brought to clear her face, and emptied it onto the land. Scared as she was, she went and found the children and put them to bed, clean and fed, not knowing one mother was dead. The water indeed had plagued the land, it's evil deeds inside. Neither mother knew it, just that it held some kind power. Both women had intended to use it for good; one to wash a sick face, the other threw it out to rid the evil disease from the house. The Lady was found much later when all were looking for her, most mistakenly; she had been killed by the platter. Not a soul had seen it happen except the man inside the bowl, who had told her about the slave girls woes on the weary day and the master had taken over.
The slave girl had nearly taken the fall; she had been beaten nearly to death, when the boys were seen in the yard alone. They sat there side by side, rocking to and fro, playing like the brothers they were. The Master, he let the woman go and she grabbed them up right quick, taking them into her care. When she would teach the Thibideaux, she would secretly whisper into her own son's ear at night, she would tell of a day that would one day pass. The slave would control the owner, though time and distance might keep them apart. The man in the water had told her so. The husband was soon to kill his wife- for in the slave girl's illness- she spoke of the things he had done that ever fateful day. The water confirmed it to her as well. When the Master had denied it, she went downstairs with the water, and got her own answers then. She had woken the man in the water again, then quickly fell asleep entranced. The Master had seen her go down, watched the scene unfold, and hit her from behind.
The years had slowly unfolded, and the Master had finished the traps, the slaves he took beneath- in the very room he killed his wife. He connected it to the hidden room above, simply made the hall teeter back and forth. Clever indeed it was, for it inclined into an upstairs room, then downhill to the very room where he had killed his dearly beloved. Week after week, turned to years upon years, he had raped the young women there, and more had given children, then one day came the new slave girl. She too had seen the elderly man in his deeds in town, for his son had gotten to her first.
Matthew saw something as he leaned over her body on the ground. Indeed she was dead, at least here and now. Matthew had only kept this body from returning by bringing her back from the waters. Matthew had already departed when Antony directed the others for him and they gallantly followed behind him. For Antony himself, he watched the fire extend, and soon it took over the house and all that dwelled within.
Then he took the girl, he had no trouble as Matthew had- his strength was better now, where Matthew's had finally escaped, and put her near her grave. Soon and very soon her soul would find another, it always had `til now, it was what his mother did. Not a soul, nor a body, came to find the plantation that night, nor- I figured- did they ever are too. Surely they saw it, and worried for themselves, but they had seen the things that led up to that night. The dead were wandering about them, for it had plagued the entire Parish. Before the month would be up, none of there's would be there either.
I swept out on my horse, and made for home quicker than I had come here. For a slave with no shoes, no shirt, and barely a horse, would hardly ever make it through; times were tough enough elsewhere, much harder in the South. And I knew that once I reached home, I'd have me some explaining to do. I did not stop this time, not the tavern nor any other place, factly- I rode much quicker though so none would catch my face. I slept out in the woods, even up North of Dixie, not long at all though did it take me.
Within the week had I made it, t'was then the Postman caught me, and said to come up to his Office for he had a package to give me. He distressed it rather boldly, and gave me an awkward eye. It was almost foolish enough, for at first I thought he had done it at my appearance, but I had done as I was taught, and smoothed myself out before reaching town, and walked the horse on in. Even now it was such an uncommon sight in such a big city, I finally figured it the horse and left it at that.
Within the hour I had made it, and found the wife instead, and she directed me to the back. I saw the girl outright, standing pretty as she pleased. Not a day it must have taken her, or so it seemed most likely. The wife had handed her a babe, and the three of us escaped out into the world. Not once would the child learn of his past, or the evil his past held. Once in a blue moon when a few years have passed, we return into the waters, mostly she and I, and we bathe and return anew- we start a brand new life.
Only once before his death had we seen Matthew, he has made himself North, and landed in the very tavern I had stopped in on my way down, the owner said he did not leave often. One he even fell into a fired and aught his hair ablaze. They said he died in 1901 when a woman took him to her room and made use of him, then done him a favor when done. If you ever decide to come, and make your way down South, so far South into the swamps below, just look into the waters, and follow us on in. Or if you ever hear the words, and no one is around, try not to listen, it may just be your death for evil is around, and nothing you can do will stop it. A lesson learned the hard way.