Today’s snippet is from my current work in progress, Bayou Fire. I took the photograph of the belled shackles at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana.
Alcide couldn’t help noticing that several of the men, women, and even children wore iron collars from which rose three inch-wide slats tipped in rattling bells.
“What are those people wearing,” he asked Thibodeaux, “and why?”
“Well, sir, those are field and sugar barn hands,” was the reply.
“Well, you see, those noisemakers make it easier for patrolers to find runaways. These slaves are childlike in many ways, and that includes being sneaky. If we bell them, we can find them. Your father and brothers were most approving when I shared the idea with them. The collars were all made in the smithy right here,” the overseer finished. The pride on his face offended Alcide to the core.
“Then,” he replied, a muscle twitching in his jaw, “they can be struck off in the smithy right here.”
“Sir, I …”
“It was not a suggestion, Thibodeaux; it was a directive.” Alcide was so angry that his hands shook, rattling the papers he held.