Balance of Power — LATOBSD (Begin Ch 11)

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Chapter Eleven

BALANCE OF POWER

You’re the lawyer in the family, James! Can he do something
like this?” Martha Ferrell has gotten over the shock of her husband’s
untimely demise, turning her attention instead to his last will and
testament. For her, it is a mystery novel, a work of fiction fraught
with plot twists and turns, and a bitterly cruel ending.

He did,” her son says flatly.

John Ferrell Husband and Father

“Can’t we say that he wasn’t of sound mind when he did this?
Look at the crazy thing he did, going to Scotland in the middle of the
goddamned war!” There is a lot of that going around.

“Mother! . . . . , swearing will not change anything. When she
turns 21, Maggie Lou “Ferrell”, he clears his throat, “will officially
own over 100 acres of Tallahassee.”

“People are calling him a hero, Mother. Cousin Matthew tells us
they are thinking about naming a new bridge after him.” Agnes is
proud of her father, void of the material acridity.

James Barrie can rot in a bog, for all I care. He is the one who
whined his way into making John feel guilty. ‘Our people are
starving’, ‘we have no petrol for our motorcars’. Huh! I for one
am glad he could not make the funeral . . . . some silly play about a
Cinderella.”

“When the war is over, he is going to bring A Kiss for Cinderella
to the United States. I told him that I would find a theater for him.
He even said I could be an “understudy”, he called it. If Cinderella
falls ill, I could be the lead.”

____222 Gwendolyn Hoff

“How silly would that be? You could make two of her, I’m sure,
but yes if Cinderella is single, you would be perfect for the part, 34
and without a man.” Martha’s dour mood turns vicious.

“Cyril has been talking about the future quite a lot lately, I’ll have
you know. Then you will be all alone, does that make you happy?”

“That is enough bickering!” A lawyer hears his fill of petty
wrangling on a daily basis. “Maggie owns the land and that is the
bottom line, though I wonder how he was able to keep the land a
secret for all these years.”

“He was very good at secrets, correct?” She cannot let it go.
James ignores her, continuing, “But from my point of view, there
is still more than enough to go around. My God, even Joseph gets a
thousand dollars!”

“Sure, now I suppose he will leave me too, he’s got family in
Pennsylvania you know.”

“Joseph is too old to go off to the North, besides if he did, he’d
find out how bad they treat Negroes up there. No, he’s got it good
here and he knows it, although I have advised him to buy some land
and farm a little on his own.”

“Are lawyers’ official advice givers as well? You could have a
weekly article in the Tallahassee Democrat, people would write in
with a question and you would answer them in print. Let me see,
something like: ‘Dear Lawyer James; my husband was killed by a
U-boat and left half his estate to his illegitimate daughter of our
upstairs maid. What should I do?’ signed Scorned Spouse.”

“Do not tempt me,” he thinks, then goes forward, “Dear Scorned
Spouse; It sounds like you should have been doing your own laundry
and cleaning. Be thankful that she doesn’t own your house. If she
does, perhaps you could use a job.”

“Now that’s not funny!,” she protests.

“Speaking of things in print, did you see the last Pearson-Eastman
Journal, it just arrived yesterday? Daddy looks so happy, look at him
with that golf club,” she points to a picture of Matthew the senior
showing John how to hold it, both of them about to split a gut.

(wsgolf)

“I like the one where he is singing folk songs with the Barries.
I can almost hear his out of tune voice.” The Ferrells did not bring
tonality with them when they crossed the Atlantic.

“Looks like he’s full of whiskey to me.”

____The Life and Times of a Black Southern Doctor 223

“These are his last days, Mother. The least you can do is to respect
the spirit in which the article is presented. Harv and Judith Pearson
certainly do; this magazine and the beautiful eulogy they gave at the
funeral.” Agnes has the spirit.

John Ferrell’s spirit is nearer his Lord in heaven.

Balance of Power

The Fabulous Flying Bleaker Brothers — LATOBSD (Ch 3 pgs. 53+54)

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The Fabulous Flying Bleaker Brothers

 

Waiting ahead is quite a pair. Circuses and carnivals are popping
up all over the South, as they have in New York, Saint Louis, and
Montreal having been born in Europe. Two of The Flying Bleakers,
a Slavic family of acrobatic proportions, is manning mile four. The
oppression they had fled in the “olde country” is a whiter shade of
prejudice than here in Florida, but just as, if not more dirty. The ethnic
cleansing that they and their ancestors have survived or participated
in for more than four centuries inspires them to lend their unique
skills to right the wronged.

On a still, quiet night like this, the steady trampling of six pairs of
feet is easily detected. The Bleakers celebrate the coming Campbells,
eagerly cart wheeling to the task of escorting them across the trestle
that spans the Little River gorge. One quarter-mile across and 100 feet
down, the watershed which feeds the larger Ochlockonee aquifer
may scare the average person, for these men who dangle and fly for
a living (with the greatest of ease), the dizzying height is nothing at
all, even in the moonlight.
Darkness conceals the river below, making it appear to be endless
space, without mass or ditch or anything that will stop an object straying
from the rails. But it is there and gravity is waiting to take over.
Stage four, the most dangerous of the five, is in good hands.
Footsteps are rhythmic and sure with half of the span negotiated. Even

____54 Gwendolyn Hoff

the Fabulous Flying Bleakers Brothers sense the mythical “finish line”,
the end of the trestle where they will not likely be followed. Agnes
and Francis cover their eyes and sort of bravely ride the shoulders of
their daring escorts from a far off land.

But before long, optimism turns to panic. At first, a distant rumble
is heard. There hasn’t been buffalo in Florida even before they were
nearly wipe clear of the planet.
The wooden structure starts to vibrate. There are no earthquakes in
Florida, though there are a few old-timers who remember a shaker late
in 1811, distant resonance from the Missouri and Ohio River valleys.
A plume drifting past the sinking moon settles the matter; that
rising cloud of ash and dust smoke can only be one thing; the
unwelcome signature of the Midnight Express.
The hard charging mass of iron and steel travels at speeds
exceeding 50 miles per hour and closes in on the trestle in no time. A
quick assessment of their status is not good at all. Amanda Campbell
joins Willy for the final 300 feet, his strength will them carry the
day. Hosea tries to keep up, but his unsure feet slip between timbers.
The Bleakers must put down the girls to free his wedged right leg.
Screaming the whole time, his leg is loosed, his shoe remains.
The locomotive continues to close.

“I told you this was fun! When the true fiction in me kicks in, you can through reality out the door!”

Gwenny

Slavery & Freemen

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Abraham Lincoln

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Horace Greeley

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a bible-reading people. The principles of the bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”

― Horace Greeley

Slavery & Freemen

Slavery

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Patrick Henry
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
― Patrick Henry
 
Frederick Douglass

“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”
― Frederick Douglass

Abraham Lincoln
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Frederick Douglass

“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.”
― Frederick DouglassNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

 

Slavery

Household Help

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Cassandra Clare

“Sophie has a gift,” she said. “She has the Sight. She can see what others do not. In her old life she often wondered if she was mad. Now she knows that she is not mad but special.There, she was only a parlor maid, who would likely have lost her position once her looks had faded. Now she is a valued member of our household, a gifted girl with much to contribute.”

― Cassandra ClareClockwork Angel

Marcel Proust

“She’s on the stairs, ma’am, getting her breath,’ said the young servant, who had not been long up from the country, where my mother had the excellent habit of getting all her servants. Often she had seen them born. That’s the only way to get really good ones. And they’re the rarest of luxuries.”

― Marcel ProustRemembrance of Things Past: Volume I – Swann’s Way & Within a Budding Grove

Janette Oke

“Those who choose to be servants know the most about being free. ”

― Janette Oke

Household Help

Prison

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Nelson Mandela

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
― Nelson Mandela

Simone Weil

“A mind enclosed in language is in prison.”

― Simone Weil

Prison