Star-crossed Lovers

“Oh, Joseph, I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Miss Louisa.”

“I wish we could run away together. I hate living on this awful plantation.”

“We can’t run way, Miss Louisa. They’d kill me ’cause I run way with a White woman.”

“I won’t let them hurt you, Joseph. I’d rather die first.”

“There ain’t nothin’ you can do, Miss Louisa once they make up their minds to shoot me for runnin’ away.”

“Let’s not talk anymore about those awful men. In fact, let’s not talk for a while.” She reached up and pulled his head down to hers.

They were in the hay loft where they usually went for their trysts. No one knew. They were careful to keep their relationship a secret. She didn’t plan on falling in love with a negro but when she saw Joseph she was smitten. She tried to hide it because of her family, especially her father. Try as she did, though, she couldn’t stay away and soon she began to find ways to be with Joseph. When they were together, she taught him how to read and write for a while but stopped when he told her that he was afraid that she would get into trouble.

The hay loft was their special and secret place. It was there they spoke of dreams–she of leaving the plantation and he of being a free man. It was there that they kissed for the first time. And it was there she gave herself to him. It was a wonderful experience. She still got goosebumps thinking about it. She loved the way her fair skin looked against his dark one. She loved everything about him–his eyes, his smile, his voice and his body. She blushed every time she recalled how she had covered every inch of him with kisses and the way he moaned. It felt good to know that she pleasured him. And he was an amazing lover. Very passionate but he was gentle the first time they made love and she hardly felt any pain at all.

It thrilled her that he was in love with her too. For a while she thought and feared that his affections would be engaged elsewhere. One of the slave girls, Betsy made it very obvious that she liked him but he didn’t return her feelings. It was Louisa whom he cared for even though it was unwise, given that she was his Master’s daughter.

They were so busy kissing that they didn’t hear or notice that they weren’t alone anymore. Suddenly, a voice boomed, “Get off her, you dirty n—-!” A pair of hands grabbed Joseph by the scruff of his shirt and yanked him off Louisa who cried out. He shoved him down below and then turned to her.

“Get up!” he ordered her. Trembling, she stood up. “Was he forcing himself on you?”

Louisa shook her head. Her face was as pale as a ghost’s. “No, Papa. He wasn’t forcing himself on me. We-we were kissing.”

Enraged, he struck her hard across the face. “Your Mama and I didn’t raise a n—-loving whore. What decent White man is going to marry you now? You’re a disgrace to your family and to your race. Now, get out of my sight before I tan your hide.” He dragged her down the ladder and out of the stables. “Take her back to the house,” he ordered one of the men.

Louisa struggled wildly. “What are you going to do to Joseph?” she cried, terrified.

“Take her away,” her father yelled.

“Joseph,” she screamed. “Joseph!”

“If you know what’s good for you, Miss Louisa, you’ll hush your mouth,” one of the men told her.

“What’s going to happen to Joseph?”

“If he’s lucky, he gets sold.”

Joseph stood there, shaking. He was doomed for sure. It was a fool thing to do, getting involved with Miss Louisa but he couldn’t help it. He loved her. When he was with her he was happy.

The Master looked him up and down, his face twisted in disgust. He spat in his face. “You low down, dirty n—-. You dare to lay your hands on my daughter. Wasn’t any of your own kind good enough for you that you had to disgrace a White girl?”

Joseph didn’t say a word. He kept his eyes on the ground and resisted the temptation to wipe the Master’s spittle from his face. He wondered what fate awaited him. A whipping? A lynching? Or would he be sold?

“Run,” the Master suddenly said.

Joseph raised his eyes then. “What’s dat, Massa?”

“I said, run.”

“Run, Massa?”

Run!

Joseph turned and ran. He didn’t get far. The Master raised his gun and shot him in the back. The young slave collapsed on the ground. “Have the other slaves dig a hole and bury him,” the Master ordered his overseer, George.

Louisa heard the shot. “What was that?” she cried, fear gripping her heart. “That was a shot.”

“Hush yourself,” her sister, Melanie scolded her. “You’re behaving rather undignified.”

“It was a gun shot. I know it.”

Just then, one of the servants took in the tea tray. “What’s all the commotion out there, Hattie?” Louisa’s mother asked her.

“Some slave tried to run off and the Massa don shot him–“

Louisa screamed, “Joseph!” Then, she fainted.

That night she left her room, crept down the stairs, went into the cabinet where her father kept his guns. No one heard anything because of the thunder. They found her the next morning, lying on the floor, shot in the temple. Ironically, the gun she used was the same one her father used to shoot Joseph.

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