The first four chapters or scenes of my new story based on real historical events.
|This is the start of my newest story. It is based on real historical events that took place in Sumter County, South Carolina in 1825. While researching family history information for a friend I came upon the story of Stephen Stuckey and his wife Penelope. On January 27, 1825 Penelope was murdered. A young slave girl that worked in family kitchen was tried and convicted of the murder, but Stephen was also implicated as an accessory. Stephen fled South Carolina living in Missouri, Louisiana, and then Texas under the name Stephen Smith with his new wife, a young woman named Temperance. Temperance had a very dark complexion that Stephen explained saying she was a Chactaw Indian maiden. My newest story will add to these historical facts by making Temperance and the kitchen slave the same girl. I am thinking of this as more of a screen play and movie than a novel so some of the writing may be in more of a screen play format.
I hope you enjoy. Here are the first four scenes, I welcom any critique.
[Scene 1 – Opens with shots of the road, then there is dialog by the buggy and then by the river. Another shot of the buggy on the road till it pulls up at the plantation home, then dialogue on the front steps of the home.]
[The opening scene is of a black horse drawn buggy traveling over a dirt road. The buggy is expensive and drawn by two beautiful matched horses. The driver in front is a large African Slave. In back is a southern belle type white woman in her mid to late thirties, pretty but serious. As they cross a wooden bridge over a small river the passenger catches a glimpse of someone in the water.]
“Simon, stop!” Luellen shouted at her driver. “There is someone down there.”
‘Big’ Simon, also called Simon Peter, Luellen’s driver and the biggest Negro on the Wickfield plantation pulled the horses to a stop on the east side of the bridge.
“Where Missy? In the River?” They had just crossed Little Sandy River on their way back home from Augusta. Luellen had been visiting her mother in town.
“No, by the river, she looked hurt.”
“Ma’am, it’s probably just some white trash folks washin out clothes or sumthin.”
“No Simon, I don’t think so, something didn’t look right about her, go see who it is and what they are doing.”
Simon tried to think of a reason not to. Whatever it was, it was none of their business. Simon had watched over Luellen Stamey since she had been a little girl named Luellen Wicks.
“Ma’am I don’t think. . .”
“Simon, don’t argue with me, you go see who it is and if they are ok and I will wait here, otherwise I’m going down there myself.”
Luellen rose in her seat like she was going to get out of the buggy but Simon was on the ground first.
“You just stay right there Ma’am” Simon told his mistress. “I will check it out.”
Simon reached into the front of the buggy and pulled out a short double barreled coach gun setting it in the back seat without a word. He didn’t need it, there wasn’t a man on earth Simon Peter was afraid of, but Luellen Wicks Stamey was a wealthy woman and her protection wasn’t just his job, it was his entire life.
Simon walked across the road and into the woods leading down to the riverbank.
“Hey, who’s that down there!” he called out as he went through the underbrush.
As Luellen sat in the buggy should could hear but not see what was going on as Simon talked to someone who sounded female.
“Nobody, just leave me be.”
“No ma’am, you got to go see Miss Luellen. . .Oh sweet Jesus, what happened to . . .”
“It’s nothing, I’m fine.”
“Hell no you ain’t fine! Nobody bleeds that much and is fine! You coming with me.”
“Keep your hands off me! It’s just the water makes it look like that much blood. It’s a woman thing you wouldn’t understand, now let me be!”
Luellen had heard enough and got down off the buggy. She walked out of the woods along the river stones and she could see Simon and the white woman who looked very small compared to her driver.
“It’s ok Simon,” she called out, run back to the buggy and wait for me.”
Simon was confused and afraid but saw nothing that presented a danger to his mistress and so he walked back up to the road as Luellen walked up to the other woman who was sitting in the water crying.
As the woman in the river looked up at her Luellen could see that both eyes were blackened and her face swollen. She had taken a terrible beating and the river was red downstream from her as it carried blood away from between her legs.
Her face was swollen, but Luellen recognized Sally Riggs. Burke County Georgia only had a few thousand white residents and Luellen knew most of them. Luellen swallowed hard to control her feelings and gave Sally her best smile.
“Sally Riggs, well I almost didn’t recognize you, you’re so, em . . . grown up.”
“Miss Luellen? Oh ma’am, I am so sorry, look this is none of your affair, you should just get back up there and go on home, I’m ok, really.”
Sally looked anything but ok.
“Sally Riggs, you look at me!” Luellen commanded.
“In case you have been living under a rock let me remind you that we look out for each other in this county. I remember the day you were born child, and how many years did you sit in my Sunday school class? If you think I am going to leave you hurt and bleeding in this river then you obviously don’t remember who I am.”
Sally just looked into the water and shook her head.
“I must be an awful site ma’am.”
“Nonsense, now are you going to tell me what happened here or after we get you dried off and cleaned up.”
[Luellen helps her up and they walk up to the buggy together. Simon stands back as the women get in the back seat and then he wastes no time getting the buggy rolling again. A short time later he pulls up in front of a large columned ante-bellem plantation home. The sun is just starting to set as the women get out and go in the front door leaving Simon standing beside the buggy. An African woman about Simon’s age comes up from the side of the porch after the white women have gone inside.]
“What’d you let her bring trash like that back home with her for?” She asks, scolding Simon.
“Don’t you scold me,” Simon says with cold steel in his voice. “Been a long time since anybody TOLD Miss Luellen anything. You know who that little white girl is?”
“I know whose baby that was she was carryin.”
[With that the house slave turns on her heal and walks back in the house.]
[End of scene 1]
[Scene 2 – Entire scene takes place in the kitchen. Charlie Stamey sits at the table eating breakfast lit by sunlight coming in the windows. The same woman who spoke to Simon on the steps the night before pours Charlie coffee and is in the background in the kitchen. Luellen enters the room and speaks to the cook]
“Fix me a tray with some toast and grits Penny, tea and jam but no coffee.” Luellen tells the cook.
“I hear your taking in strays again.” Charlie says to his wife. Charlie is large and handsome, leaning back in his chair sipping coffee.
“Sally Riggs is not a feral cat, we know her family, she is not a stray.”
“Her name is Sally Brubaker now and she is a married woman.”
“You knew! You knew she had been with Carl?” Luellen was horrified. “How could this have happened and I not known? I have been spending too much time at mama’s. I don’t know what’s happening in my own home.
“She moved into the overseer’s place with Carl nearly a year ago. Carl’s a good man Lu, he just gets a little physical sometimes. Hell, that’s what we pay him for.”
“Watch your language,” Luellen says with a frown, “Why was I not at a wedding?”
“He. . . I don’t know. I don’t know if they were married in church or not.”
“Penny,” Luellen addressed the maid, “Did you know about this?”
Penny walks over with the tray
“Know about what ma’am?” Penny says politely.
“You know perfectly well what we are talking about, you don’t have to pretend not to listen, I know you hear every word that gets spoken in this house.”
Penny looks down, avoiding eye contact with Luellen.
“Well ma’am, about Miss Sally and Mister Carl, well, the way I heard it was that her parents wouldn’t approve of the wedding on account of Mister Carl’s well um. . .”
“On account of Mister Carl’s what?”
“Well ma’am, I ain’t gonna speak ill of no one, specialy not no overseer ma’am, but the reason they wasn’t church wedding was on account of Miss Sally’s parents wouldn’t agree to it. Word is Mr. Carl asked for her hand all proper like, but when Mr. Riggs said no, well Miss Sally just took up with him anyway.”
Luellen looked back at her husband. As soon as her eyes are off Penny the cook takes the tray and gets out of the kitchen.
“And they have been living here, on our property, in rebellion against her parents and in open sin ever since?”
Charlie takes a deep breath and puts his coffee cup down.
“Lu honey, they, Carl and the Riggs girl, they are not like us. They don’t need a proper church wedding. They are more like the darkies than like us. [Charlie waves at Penny as he says this] They just took up together, but that doesn’t mean they are not husband and wife. She is a married woman and she belongs with her husband.”
“She is a sixteen year old child who just lost her baby because the father beat it out of her, and you want me to send her back?”
“She is a married woman and she belongs to him. She can’t be runnin back to you or her mama just because her husband took a hand to her. Did you even ask her what she did?”
“What SHE did?”
“Yea, what she did to make him hit her like that?”
Luellen backhands Charlie hard right across the face leaving a red mark on one cheek. Charlie takes a deep breath, calms himself and then speaks to his wife.
“Yes, what she did, perhaps she hit him first. I am not saying he was justified and I will have words with Carl this morning. All I am saying is that you have not heard both sides of the story.”
“You are the most worthless man to ever walk the earth.” Luellen says with hate in her eyes.
Charlie gets up to leave and puts his hat on.
“She doesn’t ‘belong’ to him you know. Just because we are women doesn’t make us property like the darkies. Nothing she could have done would warrant the beating she took.”
Visibly agitated Charlie looks back at his wife. “Well perhaps her husband doesn’t see it that way. I told you I would have words with him and I will. You heal her up and she will probably want to go home.”
“He killed their baby!”
“Do you really know that? Are you an expert on babies now?”
“I gave you eight, I think that makes me more an expert than you.”
Charlie’s face tightens as he looks at Luellen. “Six that still live, and how many of them was I the father of?”
Luellen goes pale, but she does not argue or answer Charlie’s question. Instead she attacks back.
“And how many of the mulatto babies running around this place should be calling you daddy? I’ve seen the way you look at those babies, and I’ve seen the way their mothers look at you. I’ve even seen you hold them. If I did have any indiscretions at least I had the common decency to stick white men.”
Charlie shakes his head with a mixture of remorse and pity.
“Yea Lu, you’re a real saint.”
Charlie turns and walks out the door. As he does Luellen runs to the door and hollers after him, “I don’t care what his reasons are. I want that overseer fired, TODAY.”
[end of scene 2]
[Scene 3 – entire scene takes place Inside a slave cabin]
“So what did you tell her?” asks a female voice we have not seen yet.
“I didn’t say anything, I just walked away, that’s what I usually do, just walk away.” Says Charlie.
[view pulls back to Charlie and a black girl under a quilt in bed in the slave cabin. Phebe, Charlie’s black lover is young and beautiful. She also needs to be mid to light skinned.]
As she snuggles up beside him Phebe continues, “I can’t believe you said that to her about the children, what do you think she will do?”
“Do? She ain’t gonna do nothing. She knows I know, hell we had not been together for over a year before she got pregnant with Little Charlie. And then she had the balls to name him after me, knowing I knew.”
“Damn,” Phebe said more to herself, “He is the sweetest little boy though.”
“He is, it’s not his fault, but every time I see him it’s like a kick in the face.”
“I have to get dressed,” Phebe wines, not wanting too, “Your WIFE expects me up at the house before noon.”
Phebe gets out of bed, puts on her dress and then sits back down next to Charlie.
“Is it true?” she asks him.
“Is what true?”
“That you are the father of some of the other babies here.”
“And what if it was, would that change anything?”
Looking at the floor Phebe continues, “I don’t guess so.”
“Well it’s not true. Outside of my wife and some whores in Augusta you are the only woman I have ever been with, and you are the only colored girl I have ever been with.”
Phebe smiles at this, “You know, once you go black. . .”
Charlie laughs, “Yea, you can’t go back.”
The couple laughs but Phebe gets a sad look on her face again.
“You know I am more of a wife to you than she is?”
Charlie has now gotten out of bed and pulls on his pants.
“Phebe, you are terrific and I like you a lot, but you are NOT my wife. Miss Luellen is and always will be, you best remember that.”
“I watch your kids, not her, I cook your meals, I . . .” Phebe points to the bed in the cabin.
“I’m a better wife.”
“Phebe baby,” Charlie puts his hands around her waist. “Look darling, you know that is not true and never can be. Even if Miss Luellen wasn’t in the picture, you know we can never be together, not in the open. You are very special to me and I will care for you, but you must remember who you are and who I am. We cannot change the world.
Charlie kisses Phebe quickly and then ducks his head to get through the low doorway.
As he walks away Phebe mutters to herself, “Everything changes.”
[End of Scene 3]
[Scene 4 – Inside a bedroom at the big house]
[Louellen is holding up Sally’s dress from the night before with blood on it. Sally is lying on the bed, looking much better, but still bruised in the face. Phebe walks in looking scared with her eyes down.]
“You called for me ma’am?” Phebe says.
“Yes, Pity is going to keep the kids for a few more hours today, I have other work for you. You know Miss Sally?” Luellen says waving a hand at Sally in the bed.
“Of course ma’am.”
“Well the first thing I want you to do is take two of my dresses, these two here.” Luellen holds up two dresses she has laid on the bed as she says this.
“I want you to take them up so they fit Sally, you may have to take up the hem as well, make them look nice.”
“Then take this old dress and see what you can do. Repair the tears and then see if it will come clean. Dye it if you have too. If you can fix it give it back to Miss Sally, otherwise you can give it to whoever needs a new dress.”
“Yes ma’am,” Phebe says still looking down.
“And girl,” Luellen adds, “Look at me girl.”
“That does not mean you get to keep it, you understand?”
Looking up at Luellen Phebe nods, “Of course ma’am, I have two really nice dresses already.”
Luellen looks at Phebe with scorn, “Of course you do, you would not be working in the house if you didn’t. Now get busy.”
Luellen walks out of the room leaving Phebe and Sally and Sally speaks.
“Look, you don’t have to, I don’t want to be trouble, I just need to go home.”
Phebe smiles at the young girl. “You’re no trouble Miss Sally. These dresses don’t fit Miss Luellen anymore anyhow.”
“Yea, I know them both, can you get out of bed so I can measure you?”
Sally stands up next to the bed while Phebe wraps a string around her to measure.
“I just need to get home, Carl is going to be so mad.”
“He knows Miss Luellen ma’am, what she says goes, you know that.”
[End of Scene 4]