Word Count: 1847
“Abby, do you want any more orange juice?” Mrs. Strinbrall asked.
“Oh, no thank you,” Abigail drank the last of her orange juice and set the glass down, “I’m finished.”
“Really? You hardly touched your hotcakes!” Mrs. Sherman, Abby’s aunt, butted in, “Were they not to your standards?”
“No, they were lovely, bu-”
“I told you Martha!” Mrs. Sherman exclaimed, “Raising your daughter in the city would ruin her! Look how little she appreciates my food.”
“Excuse me?” Mrs. Strinbrall replied. Her mouth was slightly ajar and she was gripping her fork, “My daughter was raised the same way we were, despite living in the city!”
“Abigail, how long does it take wheat to grow?” Mrs. Sherman turned to face Abby. Her emerald-colored eyes seemed to pierce through Abby, making her shudder.
“I-” Abby tugged on her dress’s collar, “Three weeks?”
Mrs. Sherman scoffed and turned to her husband, who was across the room with Abby’s father. Mr. Strinbrall was invested in his newspaper, on which the front page read, “RMS PERSIA SETS SAIL FROM LIVERPOOL.” Mr. Sherman, on the other hand, was smoking a cigar while studying one of the house’s many paintings.
“Did you hear that, Charles?” Mrs. Sherman asked Mr. Sherman, “She doesn’t know how long it takes to grow wheat!”
“I do not see why that is necessary to know,” Mr. Sherman replied, taking out his cigar.
“But all country people know that!” Mrs. Sherman exclaimed, “I beli-”
Abby cleared her throat and stood up from the table, “Thank you for the breakfast, Aunt Sherman.”
Mrs. Sherman ignored her and the adults continued bickering about the silly subject. Abby brushed off her dress, slipped into her coat, and exited the farmhouse.
Abby made her way around the house and back towards the fields, where multiple slaves were working. Abby never liked visiting her aunt and uncle, not just because of Mrs. Sherman’s sour attitude, but because their property lacked a beautiful garden to relax in.
As Abby walked down the dirt path, she longed to return home to see her flowers again. That’s the only thing she really cared about, her garden. Abby tended to her garden the way most people tend to their children. She was always there to plant new flowers, water the bushes, or just relax and enjoy its elegance.
Abby neared the slaves’ house and stopped. Without missing a beat, she removed her coat and knocked on the door. She hadn’t had a chance to talk to them yet.
The Strinbralls, like many Northerners, did not own slaves and supported freedom for black Americans. Likewise, the Shermans were the complete opposite and owned two slave families, the youngest of them being Abby’s age. Abby was nineteen, and so was Tabatha, but Tabs (as Abby affectionately called her) had lived and worked on the Shermans’ property since the age of six.
Abby backed away from the door as it opened, revealing Tabs. Behind her was Frank, her brother, sitting near the fireplace.
“Hello, Tabs!” Abby exclaimed, opening her arms for a hug.
“‘Ello missus, Abigail,” Tabs accepted the hug and invited Abby inside. Abby sat down in a rickety rocking chair and folded her coat on her lap.
“How are you both?” Abby looked up at them and smiled. The house may not have been well built, but it was cozy.
“Not so good, miss. It’s darn cold,” Frank responded. Frank was the most educated of the bunch. One visit, Mrs. Strinbrall had spent the time to teach him and give the families some books, to the Shermans’ disapproval.
“Well, it is April. So it must warm up soon,” Abby said.
“Nuh-uh. Mrs. Sherman say the cold will last a long time,” Tabs poked the fire then moved to sit next to Abby.
Abby chuckled, “I don’t believe it. Mrs. Sherman isn’t the smartest of people.”
Neither Frank or Tabs responded. They weren’t allowed to talk bad of the Shermans, or else violence ensued. Tabs had a scar on her arm to prove it.
After a brief moment, Frank spoke, “Any news from New York, miss?”
“Oh, yes,” Abby said, “There’s this new university in Maryland that seems very good. I believe it’s called the Maryland Agricultural College… yes, that’s what it’s called.”
“What ‘bout the Ivans?” Tabs asked. Lily Ivan was Abby’s best friend whom she talked about frequently. The Ivans were wealthier than the Strinbralls, although both were insanely wealthy, and the two families always attended the same events.
“They have been traveling to this new city called Dallas, down in Texas. It was just founded in the past months and the Ivans were invited to stay down there,” Abby explained, “The whole town is not even finished yet. From what I can tell, there’s hardly fifty buildings to go around.”
Tabs and Frank listened with interest. It wasn’t often they heard about the world outside their farm.
“Lily told me that there was a very handsome man by the name of Cooper Barnen that she has taken an interest in.”
“Do-ya expect a marriage proposal?” Tabs asked as she folded some fabric, “Lily isn’t ready for that.”
Abby nodded, “I agree that she is not suited for marriage yet, but Lily does as she pleases, and she’s always wanted to marry. I suppose we will see them married by early winter.”
“That sounds about right,” Frank said, “What about yourself, miss? Does anyone suit your fancy?”
“Not currently, except Mr. Frederick, but I believe he’s in love with Katherine.”
Mr. Frederick was a twenty-five-year-old businessman who frequented the Strinbrall estate regularly. Frederick and Abigail had practically grown up together, and even though they were six years apart, they were good friends and enjoyed spending time together.
“Lily’s sista?” Tabs asked.
Abby confirmed, “Yes, Lily’s older sister. Though, I can not blame him. She is remarkably attractive but does not take care of her appearance. I remember once, three years ago, when she was twenty, she visited and did not even bother to style her hair! I could not believe it, a woman, especially a woman of wealth, should ta-”
“Miss, your father’s a-coming,” Frank said. Abby looked out the broken window. Sure enough, there was Mr. Strinbrall.
Abby quickly sat up and put her overcoat back on. Tabs helped her tie it properly before her father barged in without knocking.
“Abigail, are you..” Mr. Strinbrall and Abby locked eyes, “Dear, it is time to leave. The carriage is already here.”
“I thought we were to depart tomorrow,” Abigail stated, “Mrs. Sherman said so.”
“I were, but your mother just received word the Thims were in New York, and she has not seen them in a while,” Mr. Strinbrall explained. He glanced at Frank, who was standing next to the fire, and held out his hand, “Thank you for welcoming my daughter.”
Frank hesitated before shaking Mr. Strinbrall’s hand, but he eventually did, “You’re welcome, mister.”
“Now, please hurry, the carriage can’t wait forever. I will wait for you outside.” Mr. Strinbrall exited the building.
Abigail turned to Tabs, “It was good to see you, Tabs. You as well, Frank.”
“Hopefully you’ll get home safely,” Frankie shook Abby’s hand, “Promise to write?”
“I promise, but I can not guarantee Aunt or Uncle Sherman will deliver them,” Abby answered.
Frank mumbled a quick “goodbye” before returning to the fire. Tabs held the door open for Abby. “Goodbye, missus Abigail.”
“Farewell, Tabs,” Abigail stepped out of the house and walked over to her father, who was smoking his cigar while staring out at the fields.
“Father, are you ready?” Abigail asked as she approached him.
Mr. Strinbrall turned around and smiled, “Yes, I am.”
Abigail and her father started walking back down the path to the Shermans’ house. Abby could see the carriage in the distance and Mr. Sherman setting her bags inside.
“How was your visit?” Mr. Strinbrall asked.
“Oh, it was wonderful. I always enjoy talking to Frankie and Tabs.”
“Frankie and Tabs?”
“Frankie and Tabatha, the slaves.”
“Oh! No, I meant your visit with the Shermans. Did you like it?”
“Well, you already know the answer to that,” Abby’s smile disappeared. No matter how many times she told her parents she despised trips to the Shermans, they always insisted that she go- and enjoy it.
“It was not horrible this time, was it?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?”
“We only stayed for two weeks and not four,” Mr. Strinbrall said as they passed the last field.
“Although that is true, we are returning here again in August.”
“Is that why you’re so upset?”
“I am not upset. Rather, the exact opposite, because we are leaving.”
“Mrs. Sherman refrained from attacking your beauty this time, which was nice.”
“Instead, she attacked my personality.”
Mr. Strinbrall chuckled, “Indeed, she did.”
Abigail and Mr. Strinbrall approached the carriage and were greeted by Mr. Sherman.”
“How was your walk, Abby?” He asked.
“Wonderful. It was very peaceful in the fields.”
“Hopefully the slaves didn’t bother you much,” Mrs. Sherman said, appearing behind Mr. Sherman with Abby’s mom.
“They never do,” Abby replied, “You don’t have to worry.”
Mrs. Strinbrall ignored her and walked over to the carriage. She opened the doors and looked inside, “My, my! This sure is luxurious!”
“It is new,” said Mr. Strinbrall, “We purchased it before visiting.”
Mrs. Sherman lifted up her dress as if to step into the carriage, but her husband held her back, “We better not make the Strinbralls wait any longer, dear.”
“Of course,” Mrs. Sherman frowned and walked to the side. The Strinbralls climbed into the carriage one after the other. Abigail chose the seat across from her parents, next to their luggage.
“Have a nice ride,” Mr. Sherman exclaimed as he shut the door, “We await your next visit eagerly!”
“Us too!” Mrs. Strinbrall said as the carriage started to move away.
Abby sighed and leaned back into her seat. She needed a rest after such a tiresome visit, especially because their next visit was only three months away.
As if reading Abigail’s mind, Mrs. Strinbrall spoke, “Are you tired?”
“Very,” was all Abby said.
“You’ll need your rest, tomorrow will be exciting.”
“Oh? How so?” Abby asked. The mention of something exciting always piqued her interest.
“The Thims and Mr. Frederick will be dining with us this time tomorrow,” Mrs. Strinbrall explained, “And I assume they will stay until dusk.”
“Father told me only the Thims were coming,” Abby responded, “I do not want Mr. Frederick to see me this tired.”
“The Thims invited Mr. Frederick themselves, not us,” Mrs. Strinbrall said.
“Strange, I didn’t think they were acquainted.”
Mr. Strinbrall looked up from his book, “They met at the Caroll’s last year. Mr. Thim seemed to take interest in him.”
“I believe Diane liked h-” Mrs. Strinbrall’s statement was interrupted by Abigail yawning, “Dear, why don’t you rest? I know visiting my sister is tiring, so you probably need to sleep.”
With the conversation ending, Abby readjusted herself and closed her eyes. Soon enough, she was asleep.