Chapter 8

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Liam became the assistant to Tom Brookes, a gruff New Yorker.

One day Liam was inspecting tracks when he came upon a group of black men grading them. Several children wheeled barrow loads of dirt from the tracks to a nearby pile. Newly freed slaves.

 A whip cracked and one of the boys cried out, then stumbled and sprawled in the mud. The barrow fell over spilling its contents onto the ground. The child tried to pull himself back up but the supervisor whipped the boy across the back again.

 “Get up you lazy good for nothing,” he screamed.

 

Leaping sleepers two at a time Liam ran to the boy’s aid. Just as the supervisor had pulled back the whip to beat the child again, Liam pulled the boy out of reach. “Leave him!” He shouted.

Ugly red welts seeped blood through the boy’s ragged shirt.

The supervisor’s face turned red with fury. “Them nigger kids are lazy,” he shouted. Everyone stopped what they were doing to look on.

Liam ordered them back to work and with an arm around the boy’s shoulder asked him what his name was.

“Earl, sir,” he said, his big black eyes wide with pain.

Liam glanced down. The mud oozed over the child’s bare feet and the wind whipped his tattered trousers. A violent shiver shook him.

 In the tiny space that sits between two breaths Liam became conscious of the contrast between his and the boy’s clothes. His fine cotton shirt and the boy’s tattered rags. His mind flicked back to a memory of himself in Ireland; hungry, bereft.

As Liam led him towards the carriage where he and Tom worked, the supervisor yelled after him. “You’ll give them ideas!”

At the sound of the voice, Earl stumbled. The life seemed to leave him as he sank down into the mud. Liam lifted him up and as he held him against his chest, Earl’s eyes rolled to the back of his head.

Liam ran to the carriage and burst in on Tom who was studying a map.

“This boy needs help.”

Tom leapt to his feet and ran over to the couch, throwing the books that lay strewn over it on to the floor. Liam gently lay Earl down. Lucy, who had seen the incident, bustled in filling the coach with Lavender perfume.  

She helped Tom ease Earl’s torn shirt off his body while Liam filled a basin with hot water.  Liam’s heart leapt when he saw the vicious bleeding welts crisscrossing old scars. Tom seemed unmoved. 

 

Later, when Liam walked beside the river, trying to put the memory of Earl out of his mind, Lucy joined him. The water’s movement frayed the edges of the moon.

 “What happened today made me very angry.” She flounced her skirts and strode ahead of him then stopped.

Her eyes were dark and serious as she turned to him, body taut and determined.

“He must be stopped.”

Her chin jutted out stubbornly.

 

Suraya Dewing (NZ)

 

 

Comments

Drama, emotion and tension when created with feeling, will transmit to the reader when written well. I feel for the young boy, admire Liam and want to whip the foreman. I also want to tell Liam not to fall for a girl just because she is the President's daughter but remember the girl he promised to return to once he had made his fortune. Great chapter, Suraya.
I know how the Irish would stand up for the down trodden. There is a fight brewing. Liam is finding his way in America. Good chapter Suraya.
Pushed the wrong button so this shouldn't be here. Don't take any notice.
Very nicely written, Suraya. The whole piece just walks off the page. Good example of "What the teacher means!" I think we are in danger of turning this serial from "Go West...." to "SUPERMAN Saves the Day." There was so much going on while this was being done I hope we could find another historical point to emphasize. There was a lot of new land surveyed and new discoveries made by these crews also. (from Mrellan - sharing computer)
The chapter was really very good. Emotional, fat, and tied up very well.
I agree with Mrellan. We need to just make sure we keep to the original plot and story.