The Slave Who Outwitted George Washington

Longreads

Erica Armstrong Dunbar| Never Caught: The Washingtons Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge | Atria / 37 Ink | March 2017 | 19 minutes (5,244 words)

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MOUNT VERNON

Two years after the death of her owner, Betty learned her mistress was to remarry. She most likely received the news of her mistress’s impending second marriage with great wariness as word spread that Martha Custis’s intended was Colonel George Washington. The colonel was a fairly prominent landowner with a respectable career as a military officer and an elected member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. His marriage to the widowed Martha Custis would offer him instant wealth and the stability of a wife and family that had eluded him.

A huge yet necessary transition awaited Martha Custis as she prepared to marry and move to the Mount Vernon estate, nearly one hundred miles away. For Betty…

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DRESSED TO THE NINES

 

A prompt response to Our Write Side ~ Coldly Calculating: DRESSED TO THE  NINES

http://ourwriteside.com/coldly-calculating-dressed-nines/

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

DRESSED TO THE  NINES

By John Yeo

 

DRESSED TO THE  NINES

By John Yeo

    A murky sky threatened to burst out into a storm as we drew up at the gated entrance to our destination. We had to abandon the car at the main gates as they were inaccessible, due to a large padlock and chain.

   A long winding overgrown path pointed the way to Crossways. In days of yore, this would have been a smart well kept drive for the legions of horse-drawn carriages that carried many carousing visitors.

  Miranda and I were following my family tree, apparently, this was lately the residence of my Great Grandmother, Lucy Landers.

   The house was large with at least six bedrooms. The conspicuously obvious anomaly was sticking out of the dilapidated roof. No less than ten crooked chimney pots strategical scattered over the many layers of sloping roof.

     “The place looks empty John, although I thought I saw a wisp of smoke coming from one of those chimneys at the back,” Miranda whispered.

    “Why are you whispering darling? There isn’t any possibility of smoke. The place has been empty for ages. The agents who are dealing with the estate say my Great Grandmother disappeared some years ago leaving instructions and funds for retaining the staff. Apparently, they left when the money ran out. I am the sole survivor of this branch of the family.”

  At that moment with a loud angry growl, a large black cat streaked across the path directly in front of us and disappeared into the undergrowth at the side of the path.   We both jumped in alarm and hurriedly continued on our way to the double doors that guarded the main entrance.

   I inserted the ornate metal key provided by the agents, into the doors.

With a harsh teeth-jarring screech of metal, the doors swung open. The overpowering smell of decay and damp penetrated our very being as we entered. We openly gagged in unison at this repulsive odour.

    “Hallo!” I shouted loudly: “Is anyone at home?”

  Miranda jumped at this: “Why did you do that? There is no one here; stop it.”

    “Sorry:” I replied: “You did say you saw smoke from one of those weird chimneys.”

   The house was stuffed full of dusty old furnishings that had been hurriedly covered with an assortment of covers.

     “Did you hear that?” Miranda suddenly said.

 

   “What?” I asked.

      “John! Stop playing games; surely you heard that awful creaking sound from the upper rooms. Sounds like something is scratching around up there.”

     “Probably rats moving around; I imagine this place is full of rats and bats. That enormous black cat has its work cut out here.”

   We explored the ground floor moving gingerly from room to room, slowly gaining in confidence as we finally reached the bottom of an ornate staircase. There were signs of damp and decay everywhere.

 With a deafening crash of thunder the threatened storm broke. Jagged flashes of lightning lit up the inside of the house. I kept flashing our torch into the dark mysterious corners, nervously, as we began to climb the creaky stairs.

Many oil paintings decorated the walls of the stairway. ‘These are my ancestors’ I thought as we climbed the stairs.

Miranda grabbed my arm tightly as we reached the upper floor and began examining the bedrooms.

Crumbling ornate tapestries decorated the walls of the richly furnished rooms.

As we opened the door to the master bedroom Miranda jumped back and screamed and we both retreated fast; I loudly slammed the door shut. With my heart racing and in a state of shock.

      I loudly shouted: “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

    “Sorry, darling!” I shouted as I kicked the door open again: “I have to find out who  that figure was just standing there in that room!”

     I gingerly entered the room and approached the figure. There was no response as I quietly approached the well-dressed figure in front of a large wall mirror.

    Then to my astonishment, I found I was confronted by an extraordinary lifelike mannequin, dressed to the nines in an outfit that would have done justice to royalty.

    Miranda and I ran from that room down the staircase and braved the storm rather than stay in that property a moment longer. Perhaps the setting and the mysterious disappearance of my late ancestor added wings to our heels.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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HEALING NUMBERS

A prompt response to ~ http://thinkwritten.com/category/creative-writing-prompts/

No. 293. Get Well: Write a poem that will help someone who is sick feel better quick

healing-numbers

Free image from Pixabay.com

HEALING NUMBERS

by John Yeo

I understand your feelings

You’re under the weather

Below your normal par,

Not yourself at all.

The doctor says you will recover

Get back to normality soon.

~

I bring news that will make you smile,

I can’t guarantee you’ll be pain-free

No miracle’s on the cards.

Listen to the mystery of numbers,

A sequence of fortunate figures

That have healing power built in.

 ~

I know I’m not making things clear,

Your puzzled look is a good sign.

This news will set you on your way

This ticket has healing power;

The power to make your life easy

Lead you along a path to recovery.

 ~

Your life will change for the better now

You have won a fortune on the Lottery.

~

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

~~~~~

This is in the nature of a practice run before I decide whether to take part in Poetic Asides November challenge.

2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Guidelines

TECH SUPPORT

A prompt response tohttp://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

  1. Tech Support: Use computers or a conversation with tech support you’ve had as inspiration.
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    Image from Pixabay.com

    TECH SUPPORT

    By John Yeo

     

       “Hello!”

    “Hello! This is the tech department speaking, All,our engineers are taking calls at the moment, your call is important to us; please continue to hold, all calls will be recorded and may be used for training purposes. Meanwhile enjoy some tinny, robotic, royalty free music.”

    🎶🎵 🎶🎵 🎶🎵

     “Hello, this is tech support here, what is the nature of the problem? We can help in most areas of computer science at affordable rates.” Said a robotic, tinny sort of voice at the other end of the line.

     “I have a problem with my emails, the inbox is up to 5000 unread items and still they are flooding in. How can I stop this interminable flow of junk mail?” I asked.

     “This is the tech department speaking,  in the tech department. Please provide your credit card details, we will sign you up for our five-star service treatment, where we take full control of your emails and delete the junk from the important day-to-day effluence. We will then charge you a small fee every month to keep the unwanted flow down. I can assure you of our best possible five-star service in the future.” continued the robotic voice at the other end of the line.

    “Oh! I just need some advice at present, thanks. What can I do?

     “Stand on your head and count to ten, then eat porridge for breakfast, easy on the sugar, it can be deadly.” replied the robotic voice.

    “What? Are you serious? How the heck can that help to stop the flow of junk mail?” I. asked.

    “Well Sir, it’s all about the quality of the oats, they are capable of producing the necessary flatulence that can stem the abominable flow of excreted matter.” replied the tinny voice.

    “Look here!” I responded aggressively. “I am becoming somewhat miffed at your insolence. I am asking for help here not for your unwanted nonsensical comments.”

    “Please calm down Sir! Try frying your eggs sunny-side up when you next eat breakfast. Works wonders when it’s raining.”

    “Are you joking? You stupid inconsequential idiot! What’s your name? I intend to report this to your head office!” I shouted now getting madder than ever.

    “May I suggest you do the splits on a live rail at the nearest tube station Sir.” carried on the voice at the other end of the line. “My name is Tobor, I am in charge of communication at the moment, all my superiors are either in a meeting or at lunch at the moment. Kindly provide your credit card details and all your computer passwords to enable any repairs to go ahead.”

    “Right I’m hanging up this phone now Tobor. Your superiors will be hearing from me!”

    “Thank you, Sir, your call is important, we look forward to hearing from you again soon. Have a nice day!”

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo~ All rights reserved

     

     

THE MIRACLE

A prompt response to ~ http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

261. Rocks and Gems: Write about a rock or gemstone meaning.

RESEARCH

“For example, the light that reflects through a gemstone crystal, or energy emanating from it is thought to facilitate healing when the gemstone is placed on vital parts of the body. This use of gemstones and minerals for healing is called lithotherapy, and this field is gaining popularity throughout the world of alternative therapy.”  

(from the net)

 

THE MIRACLE

by John Yeo

     Marquita was crying, sobbing loudly. The family was gathered around a pile of rugs and blankets in the corner of the room. One had to look closely to discern a thin emaciated child wrapped up in this grubby pile of bedding. Her breath was laboured and her chest shuddered from the effects of a hacking cough, that seemed to come from deep within her very soul. The wise old Shaman had visited and with a tear in the corner of his crinkled eye, he just shook his head and left.

    “She is dying Jose!”  cried Marquita, “Our little child Conchita, is going to our forefathers before her time. Is there nothing we can do?”

  Jose just cried aloud, pleading, sobbing tears. “No Marquita, there is nothing.”

At that point a familiar figure entered the room, Jose’s brother,  Pietro made an announcement.

     “My family, I bring hope, a slender hope. An elder of our neighbouring family,  talks of a cavern inside the hill, carved from solid rock. This cavern contains a huge crystal gemstone, shaped into a perfect square, shaped over generations by water dripping from within, from the very walls and the ceiling. The light from the entrance to this cavern reflects through the dead centre of the crystal gemstone, facilitating healing, and bringing recovery to the afflicted. We must transport Marquita there at once, during the current cycle of midsummer sun reflection.”

  Almost immediately the mood lightened as hope spread from person to person in a tidal wave. Conchita was quickly placed on a stretcher and lifted high in the air by four strong, young men, and a woeful procession began through the valley to the mysterious hill beyond.

   The cave was hidden behind a dense thicket, and the members of the procession physically pulled back the branches to enter a large clearing at the entrance.

   There was a stunned silence as the huge four-sided, shining, crystalline gemstone became clearly visible as the sun sparkled, warmly.

   Conchita was lifted from the stretcher onto the huge gemstone to bathe in the healing power emanating from the beautiful blue crystal light.

  The silence, punctuated with hope, was broken as Conchita suddenly sat up on the hard exterior of the stone. “Mama!”

  There were grateful, gracious, tears replacing the woeful weeping as she was placed back on the stretcher, with the ghost of a smile on her face.

  Over the next few weeks, Conchita just got stronger and stronger, leading to a full recovery.

  The magical crystalline gemstone disappeared when an earthquake struck the island shortly afterward. Many searches have been made for this miraculous marvel, to no avail, some say it has gone forever.

 

(443 WORDS)

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

 

 

WHISTLE CODE

A prompt response for ~Inspiration Monday: Whistle Code

http://bekindrewrite.com

Images © Copyright ~ John And Margaret

WHISTLE CODE

by  John Yeo

     Pinto was a farmer, he grew fruit and vegetables in a fertile valley on the island of Vesta. Hidden among a group of larger islands in the Caribbean Sea, not many visitors arrived to break the monotony of the hard, day-to-day fight for survival. Steep rocky mountains engulfed the island, sheltering fertile valleys, where a hardy people who had lived and survived on the rocky, isolated, island, for centuries, scraped a living by exporting their produce to the mainland.

    Communication between neighbouring valleys was almost impossible before the dawn of the electronic age; to drive on the steep, rough and ready roads, from one valley to another could take a whole day.

     A whistling language developed over the years, from one valley to another, sharp, long and short, drawn-out whistles, would warn the people of danger or impending changes in the erratic winter weather conditions.

     The council of the island decreed that all the island’s children must be taught to communicate by whistling to keep this valuable ancient form of communication going.

    Pinto’s eldest son Paulo, resented this but reluctantly did as he was told and absorbed the skills.

     Mr. Zen, the whistling schoolteacher would drum the calls of alarm into the children….

   “Two long whistles and one short for an urgent request for help. One continuous long drawn out whistle for a helicopter rescue. Three short sharp whistles for a threatening stranger.”

  One memorable day, Paulo was working hard in the rock-strewn fields, when he vaguely heard an unusual whistle message from the neighbouring valley. It took a while for the realization that someone was in trouble to sink in, and he was quickly on the radio to the authorities who dispatched two helicopters immediately.

   “It looks like someone is lying prone at the bottom of that ravine there!”  shouted the pilot to the two paramedics. “The police helicopter is landing on a flat space a mile away, leaving that flat area clear for us!” The helicopter landed to find a young girl in a state of shock, frantically whistling the well-taught distress call.

    “Don’t move, just tell us what happened?” enquired one of the medics.

     “I came here with my boyfriend, but he tried to rape me: When I resisted he pushed me off the rock above and I landed here. My leg hurts, and I think I have twisted my neck.” the distraught young girl blurted out.

     “Lie still now, the police will catch up with him. I will have to take you to the hospital on the mainland, we will just lift you gently on to the stretcher and we will be off.”

   The police were informed of the situation by radio, and the other helicopter arrested a suspect, who was later charged with assault.

    Paulo was soon commended for his swift response to the distress whistle.

   He related the whole thing to Pinto, his Dad, and they both agreed that the whistle code was a very valuable language to pass on, and keep alive.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

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http://bekindrewrite.com