They had been discovered. It did not matter how, but someone
noticed the Negro servant and the white man. They did not know she was a woman
dressed as a man, nor that the man with her was her brother. But, they knew
something was wrong. Why would a white man walk into the woods with a Negro?
They should have planned better. Anger filled her as she scolded
herself for her oversight. She and Triumph ran faster as more gunshots rang
out. He was bigger and stronger, but slower. She demanded her legs run faster.
“Faster, brother. Faster.” Her neck ached as she peered over her shoulder.
Men with dogs were quickly catching up to them.
A bullet whipped through the air, next to her ear, and buried
itself deep into the trunk of a great old tree. She glanced toward the heavens,
and then at the trees. The branches pointed to the path they must take, and the
wind at her back pushed her. She knew that she and her brother were running in
the right direction.
They ran faster.
Branches popped and snapped as they ripped at the sleeves of her
jacket. As her brother tossed his jacket, she tossed hers and her hat. The dogs
might be confused for a moment. Her brother touched her shoulder, and she knew
what he was about to do. He ran ahead of her and cut through low bushes away
from her. He veered his path away from hers, not because he was leaving her,
but because it would split the pack of dogs chasing them.
She kept running.
Running to the hidden river.
The woods thickened, the sun began to disappear, and the sky above
her darkened. They had not read the signs incorrectly. She stopped to take a
long deep inhale. The scent was stronger. Moist earth. Water. She ran, harder.
There had to be water somewhere, but as her legs tired, and her breaths
shortened, she began to doubt her instincts.
Before her eyes saw the water, her nose told her it was there.
Without thinking, she ran toward the smell of fresh wet earth. She stepped into
the low water, and stopped. Glancing up and down the hidden creek, her eyes
ached from the strain of searching through the trees for her brother.
Her chest tightened at the distant sound of dogs barking. Did
their loud growls and snarls mean they had captured Triumph? Were they
celebrating their kill? Instead of swimming to the other side, she turned to
run back to the spot she had last seen her twin.
Her brother burst through the thicket…