Once inside I found the interior to be just as gorgeous as the building itself. The floor, at least part of it was made of white marble which was kept clean by another servant, of which I had never seen with my short stay in the manor. The winding staircase was compliment with a series of paintings depicting my master’s lineage.
I was escorted to a large room where two other servants awaited. Both were wearing the uniform of white trousers, a brown shit with black sash; the shoes were dark brown and of simple design. My measurements were taken. Although the pants and shirt would take another week, I was fitted with shoes. With the clap of his hands, my master sent the servants away; leaving us alone.
“There a three rules you will learn now,” he said promptly,” others will follow, but for now here they are: do whatever I say without disagreement or question, perform every task to perfection; and thirdly, do not speak to the field-workers.”
“Why,” I asked.
“Thou art breaking rule number one.” he said wagging his finger,” Do you understand what I have said?”
To avoid any complications is nodded in concurrence. Over the first three years, I was found to be the best of the house-servants. I performed every job on time and with precision; it was even rumored that the other servants had become jealous of me, which; I am ashamed to say, gave me great joy. Also I began to pick up my master’s cutting tongue, for he was known to scold any and every servant who failed to finish a task.
By and by I was given higher privilege. One of which drew me to step four in my journey. It was a sunny afternoon when my master commanded me to venture into a town ten miles west of our location. I was to perform two tasks : Retrieve the cake my master had order for his celebration, and secondly, return posthaste, speaking no character that would deter my loyalty to my master or my way of life. At first I could no understand the second command, for it seemed ridiculous to me; but knowing the wrath of my keeper, I inquired not and went to perform the task.
The horse and buggy took me to the town within the hour. I had no trouble finding the baker. Returning to my ride, I withdrew from the town. Despite having plenty of time, I decided to see how hard I could push the horse. Cracking the reins, he took on speed. Further I pushed him, winding around corners, nearly toppling the carriage itself. Suddenly there was a loud crack, which ended my foolish bout. As I pulled slowly to the side of the round, I knew that there was something wrong with the buggy: is left front wheel has cracked.
There was no spare wheel to be found, and I knew if I was not back at the manor within time, all could be lost. Nothing could be done, even walking back wouldn’t help. Within my abjection, I saw another horse and buggy drawing near. It stopped up beside me and the man guiding the reins seemed to be a benevolent creature. He smiled as he inspected my wardrobe.
“Do you have a problem,” I said.
“None, but you do.” he said.
I turned my glance away, hoping he would leave, but this only incited him to continue the conversation.
“You’re one of the slaves that work in the manor up yonder.”
“I am not a slave,” I replied, “but a manservant.”
“Slave,” he replied in retort, “You are a common slave.”
I was offended by his words. Telling him of my contract, he only shook his head and said,
“Just like the devil, he promised you riches for you soul, and you gave it. I know that man, by the way did he tell you his name?”
I said nothing.
“So he didn’t. Do you want to know his name?”
This man’s words were tempting to me as a worm on a hook is to a fish. I had for three years mused over my master’s name; and if this man was able to tell me, I would be grateful to receive it. I shook my head for the information.
“Baron Beelzeen is his name. He is the owner of the estate to which you are currently bound to. He probably told you he would give you a large amount of money after a seven year service, but if you bothered to read the contract, you would have found that you signed you life away. After seven years you will be placed in his fields to toil the soil until you body withers or he dispatches you as he sees fit.”
With this information my heart grew cold. Could it be true? I sat in silence pondering all the mistakes I made from my previous steps. It wasn’t until this other man spoke again, that I came from my mental stupor.
“Is there something wrong with the horse?”
“No, one of the wheels on the buggy has cracked.”
He inspected the wheel, and seeing that nothing could be done. He offered to give me a ride back to the estate. Under the circumstances, I agreed. Along the way this man turned to conversation of how I could escape this prison before I was placed in the field. Part of me did not believe him; for I still had hopes that my good conduct would benefit me in the end. However I was assured, by my guide, that no matter how much good I could produce, it would be never enough to avoid the terror that awaited me.
Within a mile of the estate, the guide turned in his seat to the back of the wagon. From a bag he retrieved a small envelope.
“Take this,” he said, ” it is an invitation.”
“Invitation to what?” I replied.
“To hope, to life, and everlasting peace.”
“You speak strangely,” I replied, remembering my master’s words ” I was told not to speak to characters such as you.”
“If you don’t want to die,” he said with watery eyes, “You will take it.”
“Have you done this for all the servants at the estate?” I said inquiring of his generous deed.
“All,” he said, ” Many have rejected it. Will you?”
I decided to humor the man (my wisest decision yet) and told him to drive on. Once in the manor, I found that I was on time; and my master, who I feared would be angry with me about the horse and buggy, dismissed my bout as nothing more than youthful bravado. That night, retiring to my room, I opened the envelope. Inside was a card with these simple words,
Your escape is this confession:
admit that sin, on you , has made a impression.
I laughed at this; but when I turned the little card over, I found nothing funny about the next verse.
You dishonored you parents in you prideful state.
You’ve are high and mighty to this very date.
You angered you father, you made youmother cry.
In your heart, you know this is no lie.
I threw the card from my sight, horrified that the verse was so true. I jumped into bed to sleep, trying to remove that poem from my head.