I first read Joe Doe's sequel to Denise's original on C.Lakewood's site a while ago and I've been fascinated by the "mistaken octoroon" genre ever since. There are very few stories touching on the topic I've located online over the years and this is probably still one of the best.
Susana Dupree lived a life of luxury and privilege...and she was bored. She had always belonged to the Jamaican planter class, and now, in 1730, her life was settled into such a deep groove that she often thought she was inextricably trapped.
In the early days, she had been occasionally diverted by interesting news from Europe -- but the War of the Spanish Succession had ended half her lifetime ago, and there hadn't been anything of similar importance since. Local pirate raids and outbreaks of pestilence had their moments, but there had been none near enough or remarkable enough for a long time. In her early teens, she had been intrigued, briefly, when she'd come across her grandmother's journal and its allusions to some mysterious "Family Secret," which apparently involved Susana's French great grandmother. But Susana's mother denied knowing anything about it, and, shortly thereafter, the journal vanished.
(The family motto was not "Out of sight, out of mind," but it might as well have been.)
When she was 16, she had married Jack Dupree over the objections of her parents. He was less wealthy than her family, but was such a devilishly attractive rakehell, and his very character defects made him particularly exciting.
But it was not long before the boredom returned. Jack was always gone some place or another. She was lonely. There were a few opportunities to socialize, but she was always alone. After all, a married man could have any number of affairs and still remain a "gentleman," but a lady was not so free. The wild abandonment of her early relationship with Jack was soon enough replaced by his indifference. She longed in vain for their lost passion. No matter what she did to rekindle his interest failed miserably.
A few months before her 21st birthday, both her parents died of yellow fever. Since she was an only child, her family's entire estate passed to her -- and, by law, into the control of her husband.
Her parents' death increased her sense of isolation and ennui. This was compounded by the fact she had little formal education, no hobbies, and few close friends.
At first, she attempted to take an interest in the operation of the vast sugar plantation, but she really had no experience or management skills. She took some pleasure in punishing the female slaves and teasing the male ones, but that, too, eventually palled. That was just as well, for, in that country where black slaves outnumbered free whites by 10 to 1, controls had to be tight, but not capricious.
Now she was 28 (though she looked younger), tall (5'7") and slender (120 pounds), and the only thing that she was still really fond of was riding one of her blooded horses here and there across her vast estate. With her features colored by the exercise and her dark hair flowing in the wind, she turned the heads of most men in those parts -- white or black.
This bright spring day had potential for Susana. Jack was home. He gone more and more lately. Perhaps today they would spend some amusing time together.
Hearing a noise outside and hoping it might prove to be something novel, she scurried to the big front window. Peering out, she saw the sheriff and his deputy riding up. They had brought with them an open carriage driven by a slave. The white men were invited in, and Susana directed that they be brought cool drinks. Soon Jack, Susana, the two officers were seated in the front parlor. Because of the heat and the fact she was at home, Susana wore a simple frock without petticoats, with only a loose corset and pantaloons under it.
It seemed to her that the sheriff wanted to say something and that he was having trouble getting it out. Finally he stammered, "Well...I...you see.... We did not stop by for a social visit. I don't know how to tell you this, but there have been allegations -- serious allegations -- that you, Susana, are in fact an octoroon."
Susana was stunned. The "Family Secret"?
"Susana," the sheriff continued, "you were raised in this country, and you know what this means. It is a crime for any black to impersonate a white. I have a warrant for your immediate arrest." Helplessly, she turned to her husband, but he seemed both unsurprised and unperturbed. She looked into his eyes and knew there would be no help from him. He clearly knew this was going to happen, and even perhaps....
The sheriff spoke with more confidence now. "You will come with us. Stand up and put your hands behind your back." As Susana complied, she heard shackles lock onto her wrists. Next the sheriff hobbled her ankles with a chain about a foot long. It was all happening so fast now. Before she knew it, she had been lifted into the carriage and was on her way to town with the sheriff and his deputy riding their horses alongside the carriage. She had not even been allowed to change her clothes.
At the edge of town, the sheriff ordered the carriage stopped. He lifted her out, leashed her to the rear of the carriage, and coldly announced, "You will walk from here."
She had to mince along, following the slow moving carriage, her hobble not allowing anything like a regular stride. She was sweating in a most unladylike fashion and choking in the dust raised by the horses, the carriage, and her own bare feet. The townsfolk all came out to watch the parade. The people that she had known as friends all her life were now watching her in chains.
A strange feeling gradually overcame her as she walked. She felt powerfully aroused. In fact, if she had been alone and free of her irons, her fingers would no doubt have played a merry tune on her privates. She did not understand why now of all times, she should feel this way.
At the jail, she was taken to a common cell. There were no separate women's cells, but they did put up a screen of blankets to provide her a degree of privacy. She learned that she would be taken before a judge the following day. That afternoon Jack came by and brought her some clothes. Though she was pale with fear, he looked as cool and debonair as ever.
"I know that you can stop this process, Jack. Please take me home," she begged.
Her husband's reply was curt. "No, Susana. It would not be right for you, a nigra, to live with me as a wife."
She saw that he was not to be moved. "Then if I cannot be your wife, take me as your slave."
He shook his head. "I am already forming new...um...'associations,' and she would certainly not want you under foot." Cutting off further debate, he blew her a kiss, turned on his heel, and left.
This was all happening so fast. Susana was both in shock and in denial. She immediately broke down in sobs.
A solicitor came to see her in her cell. He agreed to look into the matter for her and, the following day, reported back that the evidence appeared irrefutable. In so many words, he told her that she was going to be declared a slave. He also explained to her that the town had turned against her. She was a black who had tried to masquerade as white. She had mislead them all. Numbly, she realized that she could expect no help.
Later that day, she was taken before a judge who reviewed the evidence against her. The proof of her lineage was clear. Susana could not deny the facts. Without delay, the judge pronounced the dreaded words, "I find you, Susana Dupree, guilty of being a nigra. Under the law, all of your possessions are to forfeited to your husband. I find you guilty of impersonating a free woman. I order that you, Susana, are to be sold at public auction as a slave to the highest bidder."
The newly declared slave was returned to the jail, but not to the same cell. The sheriff explained, "I cannot allow you to sleep in the same wing as whites. You must be put with your own kind."
With that, he took her to the other wing of the jail, where she was put into another cell. She was the only female prisoner on this side, too, and though she was alone in the cell, she had no privacy. This cell had no screen of hanging blankets. The sheriff was very clear. "Girl, you might as well get used to bucks looking at you naked. And you better not expect any friends to help you. Folks around here do not like being fooled."
There was a chain stapled to the wall; he locked this onto her ankle. His attitude toward her was much different now. She was treated like a slave -- and expected to act like one. But the transition was agonizing. She knew the rules, but it was hard to adopt the proper attitude for a slave. In some ways, this wait in jail was a blessing in disguise because it allowed her to at least begin the mental transformation to her new life.
The modesty issue was quickly resolved. Her cell was on the corner, and a man in the next cell told her that she need not worry because he would hang his blanket up on his side of the bars whenever she needed privacy. He was the biggest, most powerful-looking man she had ever seen, but he had a ready smile and spoke with a soft voice. He said his name was Sam.
She did not know if the other prisoners left the blanket in place because they wanted to respect her privacy or merely because they were afraid of Sam. In the two weeks that followed, Sam taught
her a great deal about how to speak and act like a slave.
One day Susana was shown a broadside advertising the auction, in which she was clearly to be the feature attraction. She was listed not as a literate cook and housekeeper, but as a beautiful, unmarked wench who would be a good "fancy girl."
The day of the sale came, and she was taken to the auction barn. Two large women had her stand in an iron tub while they washed her and shaved off all her hair from the neck down. Her long black hair, flowing down her back, was carefully groomed. She was given a very short, thin, white shift, beneath which it was obvious she wore no underclothes. Her nipples could clearly be seen though the fabric. And, of course, she was barefoot.
When she looked in a mirror, she flushed red. It was so different from how she'd always appeared in public. Moreover, she had no illusions that she would be allowed to wear even this scandalous garment. She would be made to stand naked before a room full of buyers. Some would be men she had never seen before, but others would be people she had known all her life. While the idea did embarrass her, it also excited her to a greater intensity than she had ever felt.
The soon-to-be slave was taken to a room and left alone with her thoughts. Women did not normally attend slave auctions, but once her husband had taken her to one. And now she was to be sold like any other item of property. She had already been stripped of all her worldly possessions, and now she would lose her freedom. Privilege and authority were to be only memories. She would take orders, rather than giving them. So why was she feeling so aroused? Why did she feel almost happy? The more she considered what was about to happen to her, the more excited she became. Susana could barely hear the chant of the auctioneer as other men and women were being sold. But those were experienced slaves. Very soon she was to become property. Her owner could whip her, brand her, or force her to serve him with her body. She would call him "Master."
Lost in her thoughts, she was startled when a large man entered her room and announced that her time had come. He led her out on the longest walk of her life...the walk from freedom to slavery.
Susana shivered as she looked at the steps up to the block where she would be sold. Taking a deep breath, she mounted the steps and felt the sawdust under her feet. A hush went though the crowd when they saw her. Many had known her before. She had masqueraded as one of them. She was pushed forward toward the front of the block.
The auctioneer was grinning.
"And, gentlemen, today we have one of a kind. Today, a girl who tried to fool us all, pretending she was white. Think what a pleasure it would be to have this wench in your bed. Buy her and let her beg to please you. WHAT AM I BID? Do I hear £200?"
She had imagined that she would go to the block with her head high and look the bidders right in the eye. But, by the second bid, her eyes were downcast in humiliation. Some of the bids were from local plantation owners. Some were from visiting slave merchants. The bidding was going higher and higher. Every so often the auctioneer would stop his chant and tease the buyers with his words.
Then came the dreaded command, "Strip naked, wench. Let them see what you have!" There was no real choice. She could either strip herself or be stripped by the guards. She quickly decided that the sooner she got this over with, the better. The room fell silent as she grasped the hem of her garment and pulled it over her head.
First her slender thighs came into view...and then her shaved mound, her flat belly, her small but erect breasts, and, finally, her flushed face. The crowd sighed in appreciation as the shamed girl stood naked before them. Every so often the auctioneer would pose her this way or that. "Turn around, girl, and let these gentlemen see your ass." Or, "Put your hands behind your neck and face the buyers."
The bids starting going higher and higher now. Though £150 was regarded as a high price for a slave, the bidding for Susana eventually reached an incredible £1200. Gleefully, the auctioneer chanted, "Going once, going twice...SOLD...to Thomas Bernard."
The new slave gasped and stole a glance at the man who now owned her. Tom Bernard was ten years older than her, ugly, and notoriously randy. She had known him all her life. As a teenager, she had rebuffed him, but she couldn't do that now. He was a hard man...a demanding man...a very virile man...with a "creative" approach to love-making. She should have been in despair, but somehow the thought of having to please this man made her wet.
She reached down to pick up the garment at her feet, but the auctioneer checked her, saying, "Leave it, slave, it does not belong to you." So she descended the stairs naked, to the satisfaction of the crowd. Her new owner did not even acknowledge her, merely telling those in charge to bring her out to his plantation tonight. He drew a big laugh by commenting that she'd been a well-known rider, but now she'd have to learn to be the mare. Then he sauntered off to pay for his purchase.
Susana guessed that she would not be bored again.
Edited by C. Lakewood
...MUST COME DOWNby Joe Doe IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT WEALTHY PLANTATION OWNER SUSANA DUPREE IS AN OCTROON, AND SHE WAS SOLD AT AUCTION TO THE CRUEL TOM BERNARD. IN THIS EPISODE, SUSANA IS VISITED BY AN OLD CHILDHOOD FRIEND. Susana Dupree's muscles strained as she hauled two more buckets of scalding bath water up the narrow stairs, taking care not spill a drop. It would have been easier to haul the heavy buckets up the main stairs, of course, but that was strictly forbidden. Nigras weren't allowed on the main stairs. It had been nearly six months, but the sentence of the judge still burned in her ears. "I find you, Susana Depree, guilty of being a nigra." A nigra! A common slave! An animal! The gavel echoed as it slammed down.... The sentence had stripped Susana of her land, her liberty, even the clothes on her back. It had transformed her into livestock, chattel, no more human than a mare or a sow. Of course, she still "thought" white. After all, for most of her 28 years she had been a well-respected member of the planter class. She had been a delicate and refined lady, treated with dignity and respect. Susana emptied her buckets into the large tub. As the door opened, she instinctively jumped back, almost spilling the water, and diverted her eyes to the ground. "It's okay, Juicy, it's only me," a gentle female voice said. Susana stared at her bare feet. It was Julia, her old childhood friend. Julia's voice was gentle. "I know Mr. Bernard wants me to use your new slave name. But I don't want to call you 'Juicy.' When we're alone, I'm just going to call you 'Susana,' if that's all right." Susana nodded as she looked up at her friend. Julia's beautiful green gown stood in stark contrast to the dirty, smelly rag that she herself wore. Susana knew that her friend wanted to help her. But still, she couldn't help feeling a twinge of envy. Julia's beautiful red hair cascaded over her shoulders and down her back, as Susana's once had. Now Susana's beautiful black mane had been shorn off, and her stubby hair was hidden under an oily, checkerboard bandanna. Susana and Julia had been the two most beautiful women on the island, and their friendly competition for attention, men, and excitement had continued right up until the day that Julia had left for America. Julia was Susana's best friend. Now she was her only friend. When Susana saw the riding crop in her friend's hands, she fell to her knees. "Please don't whup me, Mistress!" she cried out. "I didn't mean to spill no water!" "Don't be silly, Susana," Julia said. "I'm not going to whip you. Get up on your feet." Susana tentatively looked up. "But...the crop...." "It's your master's idea of a joke," Julia chuckled. "When I told him you were drawing my bath, he gave me the crop and said I should whip you if you got uppity. He's quite a card." Susana dared not reply. Tom Bernard had been gentle and even obsequious when he had talked to Julia. But, as a slave, Susana knew what the randy Tom Bernard was really like. Still, he was her master, and, no matter how cruel he was, Susana knew that she must love him like a dog loves its owner. "I'm sorry about all of this, truly I am," Julia explained. "I sailed from Boston as soon as I heard what had happened. I agreed to stay here tonight because I wanted to talk to you." Susana stared at her dirty feet. Slaves didn't speak until spoken to. Julia sat on the bed. "How are things?" Susana looked at her, speechless. How are things? She was a slave! She had been paraded naked on the auction block in front of the whole town. Her new master spanked her, humiliated her, and forced her to serve him in unnatural ways. Massa Tom delighted in abusing her in front of her friends, and in "lending" her to men who had once been her adoring, love-struck suitors. There was no longer the need to waste time with candy or flowers or love poems. Men who had once vied to kiss her dainty hand now took Juicy to the barn and used her as they wished. And Julia asks, "How are things?" Indeed! There was an awkward silence before Julia discerned the meaning of Susana's expression. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to be...insensitive. I know it must have been dreadful for you. Here, why don't you come help me get undressed so I can take my bath?" Susana was startled. Her female house slaves had helped her bathe, of course. But did her friend really want her to attend her in the tub as if she were a female slave? Susana caught herself. She WAS a female slave. But Julia was her friend. And Julia no longer believed in slavery. When she had married the American and moved to Boston, Julia had become a staunch Abolitionist. Julia smiled sweetly. "It seems our friend, Mr. Bernard, didn't like the way I treated you at dinner. Said I needed to treat you more nigra, so you don't 'forget your place.' I imagine we had better play along, or he might ask me to leave." Julia gave her friend a wink and a smile, and Susana allowed herself to smile back. Susana slowly undid the laces on Julia's lovely dress. Julia had positioned herself in front of a full-length mirror, so she could watch Susana's face as she busied herself about the work of undressing her. "I tried to buy you from him," Julia continued. "But he wouldn't hear of it. He said he had to keep you down and teach you your place. Several of my friends in the Abolition Society have bought former female slaves, and they take them out on fund raising tours, where they tell the most indecent tales of their captivity. Of course, if I could buy you, I'd trump them all. A white lady -- or mostly white, anyway -- treated like a common nigra!" Susana clenched her teeth as she loosened Julia's corsets. She knew that Julia loved to be the center of attention, but was she really that cruel? Would she really tour Susana like a circus beast and force her to recount the lascivious details of her captivity? "I'd be famous!" Julia gushed. "I'd raise more money than Sally and Martha and Jane and the whole society put together. I'd bet they'd elect me President of the Ladies Section." Susana carefully laid Julia's clothes on the bed. It had been six months since she had touched garments so beautiful, and she savored the sensation of the fine cloth rubbing against her skin. She returned to Julia's side. She had stripped her friend to her vest and drawers. Susana stood to one side as Julia admired her figure in the mirror. "Do you think you're prettier than me?" Julia asked. "Of course not, Mistress," Susana said meekly. "I'm a nigra." "You don't have to call me, 'Mistress,' cousin," Julia laughed. "You are my oldest and dearest friend. We've known each other long enough to be honest. Do you think you're prettier?" "No, Mistress," Susana said, still not daring to lift her eyes. "Well, it's a close call," Julia said. "I know that some men preferred you to me, and vice versa. Do you think I'd fetch more than £1200?" Susana tensed as she heard her friend so casually mention her sales price. The auction had been the most humiliating moment of her life, and yet her friend spoke of it like she was haggling for oranges at the market. "Actually, I'm a little jealous," Julia joked. "We had competed for years to see which one of us was more beautiful. But you have an actual market price -- £1200! You could stock a whole plantation for that sort of money." Susana stared at her dirty bare feet. It had not occurred to her to be proud of her price. Pride was a luxury unknown to slave girls. "Do you think I'd bring that much?" Julia asked. "I don't understand, Mistress," Susana said, confused. Julia turned around slowly, admiring her figure from different angles. "You know.... How much would I bring? On the block?" "I can't say, Mistress." "Don't play stupid," Julia said, peevishly. "You know what you look like, don't you? And since I'm standing here in my underwear, you have a damn good idea of what I'd look like on the block!" "Slave girls don't wear underwear on the block, Mistress," Susana replied, her voice barely a whisper. Julia hesitated. The game had been fun, to a point. But did she really want to cross this line? The indescribable tingle between her legs answered the question for her. She slowly undid the buttons on her vest. Susana helped her remove the vest and gently cast it aside. Julia's arms immediately flew up to cover her breasts. "A negress can't cover herself on the block," Susana chided. "Your auctioneer won't allow it." Julia slowly lowered her arms. Julia's breasts were small, but they were well-shaped, and the perky pink nipples were fully erect. Susana smiled. Yes, no doubt about it. Julia would command an excellent price. Julia squirmed under her friend's appraising gaze. Susana was the slave, but at least she was fully dressed. The glint in Susana's eye made it clear that the balance of power between the two had unquestionably shifted.... "Well, what do you think?" Julia asked, nervously. "I know I'm-I'm pretty...but would someone really pay £1200?" Susana leaned forward and whispered softly into Julia's ear. "Not so fast, fancy girl," she drawled. "Nigra girls don't wear drawers on the block, neither." Julia blushed as she looked at her grinning friend's reflection. Julia squirmed. She bit her lip. But at last she nodded. Susana playfully whistled a work song as she slowly, teasingly undid the bow that held up Julia's frilly pantaloon drawers, punctuating the final note with a definitive tug that caused the knot to come undone. She switched to a slow 'wolf-whistle' as her friend's drawers gently slid down her legs to the ground. Julia's hand's flew to shield her fleecy crotch. Susana knelt and skinned the pantaloons all the way down to Julia's ankles, lifting one foot and then the other. Julia shuddered as she watched her final garment fly through the air and land in the corner. She covered herself as she withered under the eyes of her amused friend. "Now, Julia, I can't very well set a price if you keep your most salable features covered," Susana drawled. "You wouldn't buy a piglet in a sack, would you?" Julia blanched at the animal reference, but she knew that Susana was right. Female slaves were livestock, and livestock needed to be examined from tip to toe. "Why don't you...put me through...slave paces?" Julia said, hesitantly, scarcely believing her own voice. "Isn't that what they did to you? If I want to tell my friends in the Abolition Society about what you went through, I have to know what it's like. Put me through my paces, like I was a nigra wench, buck naked on the block." Julia's pulse quickened as Susana picked up the riding crop and tapped it against her palm. "Are you sure? I don't mind telling you, it's mighty humilatin'." Julia's fear was tempered by the delicious buzz between her legs. Tom Bernard had told her that Susana's demeaning slave name, "Juicy," had originated when he and the rest of the spectators watched her "juice herself" on the block. And now Julia was having precisely the same experience. She nodded. Susana smiled and put down the crop. As Julia watched, Susana went through her packing trunk and extracted suitable underwear. Susana disappeared behind the dressing curtain. Julia stood in the middle of the room, naked and humiliated, and waited as Susana donned Julia's beautiful green gown. Julia gasped when her friend emerged from behind the screen. Susana, who a few minutes before had been a mere slave, was now the picture of refined elegance. Julia's heart sank. Susana WAS the more beautiful, And she also found the situation was making her more self-conscious than ever about her nakedness. Her heart raced as Susanna picked up the riding crop and tapped it against her palm. "Hands on your head, wench!" Susana barked. Julia obeyed. She blushed as Susana, crop in hand, slowly circled her naked form. "Very nice. Thin, but not too thin. We'll put a little muscle on you when we shackle you in the fields." Susana playfully flicked Julia's erect nipples with the tip of her crop. "Perky little buds...bidders'll like these. Pointy, too. Are you a frisky wench?" Julia said nothing, but swallowed. Susana's tone was playful, but her gaze was relentless. "Are you? Are you a hot, frisky wench?" Susana teasingly slid her crop down between Julia's breasts and down, down, down past her navel. She teased Julia's coppery fleece and chuckled. "My, what a beautiful color," she gushed. "Your hair is as red as your face. They shaved me before they put me on the block. But I wouldn't be surprised if they let you wave your pretty flag for all the men to see." Julia felt Susana tap the insides of her thighs with the crop. "Spread your legs!" Julia obeyed. Susana tapped harder, and Julia spread wider. Susana ran the tip of the crop over Julia's sex and held it up for inspection. "You ARE a frisky wench!" she chortled. "Running around naked with your juices dribbling down your thighs." Susana used the tip of the crop to playfully bobble one of Julia's exposed fanny cheeks. "Nice and tight. That cute little fanny of yours will dance prettily under the crop." Julia's bottom cheeks clenched in panic as Susana teasingly SWISHED the crop through the air. Susana smiled as she traced a tiny, irregularly shaped blue triangle on Julia's right buttock. Julia had earned it years before, when they were girls, and they had slid down Oak Hill and over "Crocodile Rock." Susana had been right behind her friend -- and had earned a precisely identical scar for her loyalty. But now was not the time for childhood memories. "Squat!" she barked. "Spread your knees. No, wider! Wider! The buyers need to see that silky red purse of yours." Susana sat on the bed, relishing the awkwardness of her friend's pose. The reflection of Julia's exposed pussy glistened in the mirror. "You'll need to hold that pose during the bidding," she said. "With the barn windows opened behind you, the breeze will carry the stink from between your legs right through to the back row. Of course, with what you're going to be used for, that will only raise your price." Susana rose and stood next to her squatting, humiliated friend. "Stand. Jump up and down." Julia obeyed, but Susana was not satisfied. Julia gasped as Susana WHIPPED! her rump with the cruel crop. The pain was excruciating, like a hot poker had been laid across her bottom. But Julia didn't have long to reflect on it. "Jump higher!" Susana commanded. "Make your dairies jiggle." Julia fought off the pain as she hopped from foot to foot, Suzanna's laughter burning her ears. "Turn around. Show them that sassy backside." "Now bend over and touch the floor. No, not like that. Keep your fanny high, and your legs spread." "Now get on your knees, and kiss the whip." Julia obeyed. As her lips gently kissed the whip, she looked up at Susana pleadingly. "Sold," Susana said. Julia ran to a packing trunk, and covered herself with a dressing gown. "Do you think...the buyers would like me?" she asked. "How much would I fetch?" Susana smiled at her thoughtfully. "Do you really want to know?" Julia nodded. "Did you see the look on Tom Bernard's face when you referred to me as 'cousin'?" Julia had noticed it indeed. His beady eyes had narrowed, and his head had tilted to the side, like a dog trying to pick up a sound imperceptible to humans. Julia knew that he had consented to her visit because he wanted her. A skilled flirt, Julia knew how to play the coquette, and how to lead a man on just enough to get what she wanted. Tom Bernard was definitely interested. When Julia called Susana ‘cousin,' he looked Julia up and down in a way that was most unappetizing. "You called me 'cousin,'" Susana repeated. "You're cousin to a nigra." "That's a term of affection," Julia countered. "You know we're not related." "Your parents are dead," Susana said. "The town's records were destroyed during that dreadful pirate raid. Of course the church records did survive.... Didn't you sign my registry, 'cousin'?" "Yes," Julia stammered. "You shouldn't have done that. That's a legal document. A legal document that proves your identity. I'm an octoroon, and you're my cousin. I'll bet that Massa Tom is already thinking about a case." Julia's mind cleared. "When my husband finds out, he'll bring my family's records and prove...." Susana smiled. "How long did it take you to get here, after you heard about me?" Julia stopped dead in her tracks. Months! "But surely the judge...the town," Julia protested. "They wouldn't do that to me." "No one helped me," Susana retorted. "Our so-called 'friends' watched my auction. They smiled and laughed and snickered. And I'm not the wife of a Yankee Abolitionist." Julia's reception upon her return to the island had been decidedly cool. The plantation owners loathed the smug moral superiority of the Abolitionists. Julia knew her former friends considered her a traitor, and despised her for her beliefs. Seeing a meddling little scold like Julia put into slave chains would be sweet revenge. Susana whispered into her friend's ear. "Think about it. If you buy me, I'll get the attention. Wouldn't it be better if YOU were the center of attention?" "I don't understand," Julia said. "Think, Julia. You want to be famous, to take up a cause. That's why you married your husband, isn't it? You'll be a slave for six months, but, after your husband secures your release, you'll be the most famous woman in the world. Oh, the stories you'll tell. You'll write a book. You'll go on tour. A white woman unjustly turned into a fancy girl.... You'll be a symbol, an international sensation. Forget about your friends being jealous. The world will be jealous!" Julia considered the matter. "I'll post a letter to my husband in the morning. When I'm released, I'll demand your release as well. I'm sure they'll give you to me, after I threaten to send them back to England for trial for what they did to me. We'll both be free. But do you think it will work?" "After you post your letter, why don't you share your concerns with Massa Tom?" Susana suggested, coyly. Act confused. Tell him that you've always called me 'cousin,' and you're afraid that people might get the wrong idea. Give him the names of the spiteful biddies and vengeful suitors who might be inclined to bear witness against you. Do you have any of our letters?" "I packed several in my trunk." "Pick out a few where we refer to each other as 'cousin,' and 'dearest sister,'" Susana suggested, slyly. "After all, such a document, in the wrong hands, might be considered tantamount to a written confession." As she spoke, Susana moved behind the curtain and changed back into her slave clothes. "Ask him to talk to his friend the judge, and show him our letters, and warn him about those dreadful church records that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we're cousins. After all, written documentation will be the key when the matter is referred to court." "Court?" Julia gasped. "Yes, court," Susana said. "Demand an immediate court hearing, so that your reputation can be cleared. "Above all, don't forget to tell Massa Tom about our birthmarks." "What birthmarks?" Julia said. "The little scars on our bottoms, when we slid over the rock. Everyone in the town saw mine, when I was on the block. Remember how my mother teased us that they looked like port stains and proved we were cousins? I imagine the judge and the prosecutor will conclude the same thing, when they examine us side by side." Julia flushed. "But the only way they'll be able to do that...is if...they...bared my bottom. Would they really...take down my britches? In open court? Surely my lawyer...." "You're innocent!" Susana exclaimed. "You won't need a lawyer." "Of course, I won't," Julia agreed. "A lawyer would only make me look guilty. I will tell Mr. Bernard that I wish no lawyer, as I will speak in my own defense." Susana smiled. As an accused negress, Julia wouldn't be allowed to speak in court. Susana decided not to inform her of that; it would be better to let the judge tell her, after she foolishly refused counsel, so that her shock at her predicament would be genuine. Poor little Julia! Testimony, legal documents, birthmarks, and a signed confession. An open and shut case. And she'd be powerless to refute the charges. The 'birthmark' would mean that Massa Tom would have to take Susana to town to attend the trial. Although she knew it was wicked of her, Susana relished the idea of watching Julia's mounting panic as the evidence piled up against her. "Of course, for this to work, we'll both have to play our parts to perfection," she observed. Stooping, she put her hand in the tepid bath water, and bowed her head submissively. "Your bath is cold, Mistress. Let me freshen it." Julia smiled as her friend slipped into her role. "Of course. Hurry up with it, girl," she replied, tartly. "I can't stand here all night." The tub was full, so Susana took a bucket of water from it over to the bedroom window, tipped it, and watched the water cascade to the ground below. She shrugged. Hauling water up the stairs was hard. But the trip down was always fast and easy. Edited by C. Lakewood