1892, Napoleonville, Louisana; On the eve of an approaching hurricane, a bastard child is born to a young share-cropper living in a former slave shack on the Dupree sugar cane plantation. Fleeing the storm, mother, infant and occupants along Dupree Row migrate inland in search of a safe haven during an era of senseless lynchings.
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Mink sat up in bed and listened to the sound of the wind outside her door. She heard someone yelling about leav-ing, but she was still too sore to jump out of bed to see who it was. Chikie had fallen asleep next to Mink and rose up her head to see what the matter was. “What’s going on out there Mink?” She asked as she pushed her-self toward the edge of the bed. She wiped her eyes and leaned over to look upon Angelic who stared back at her with large dark eyes. “I don’t know, I hear that wind though and it sounds like a storm is coming for sure. Can you take a look outside and see what’s going on Chikie? I’m too sore still.” Chikie got to her feet and walked cautiously to the door. She knew that Elladie was angry at Mink and she didn’t want any surprises. When she opened the door, she had to brace herself against the wet, wind. The handmade tiny clothes used to wash Angelic flew about the room, caught up by the wind. Chikie could see people leaving in a hurry but she didn’t want to alarm Mink any further so she casually closed the door. “Well a storm is coming for sure, but I think we will be just fine here. We’ve got food and this place is pretty sturdy.” Mink’s heart raced at the sound of the wind. She was familiar with the storms that had come and gone near and around Assumption and she wasted no time in forcing herself upward against the pain of her torn flesh. “Chikie, we got to leave here; did you see other folks leaving? Mink saw the look on Chikie’s face and knew the answer before she spoke. “Well, I saw some folks headed out of here, going down the road. Do you really think we should leave? I mean, you just had a child and you ain’t in no condition to be traveling in this kind of weather.” Mink struggled to gather up Angelic’s things and some of her own. “Chikie I need for you to go around back in the field and see if Dupree’s mules are out there. If they is, you gonna have to get hold to one cause I ain’t in no condition to walk to where we got to go to be safe. Go on now, hurry.” Chikie looked at Mink as if she had lost her mind. “You want me to steal Dupree’s mule? Girl we get lynched for sho for that. We just got to do something else, I can’t be stealing from the man who feed and clothe us.” Mink mustered up enough strength to yell at Chikie. “Look here gal, get out there and get that mule or else we all gonna die here. I ain’t about to die right after bringing life into this here world. Now get, you can do this. Hurry up Chikie; I don’t know how much time we got on our side.” Mink watched as Chikie reluctantly ran out the door and into the field to find a mule. She then closed the door and walked slowly leaning over, grabbed the bed sheet and placed it be-tween her legs. She was hemorrhaging and didn’t want to alarm Chikie any further. She had to push her body to do what it was not ready to do. Angelic watched her mother moving about the room as fast as she could, try-ing to gather the rest of the things they would need. Although only hours in the world, Angelic did not cry out for her mother’s warm milk and she let the softness of the cloth around her tiny body give her comfort as her mother spoke out loud to God. “Oh Lord, please go easy on me and this here child. You know you only gave her to me just a while ago, now I need some strength to get on away from this storm that’s coming. I know I don’t have to tell you that, cause you done made it. I just need for you to make a way for us. You know Chikie and me ain’t no thieves, but we gonna need us that mule. So I’m ask-ing you to forgive us for taking what ain’t ours just this one time. Please forgive us Lord, Amen.” Led the mule to the front of Mink’s shake and called out to her. “I got him, come on now!” Chikie stood holding the rope around the mule’s neck as the rain pelted her. The mule was old and had been worked since it could stand on its own feet. Its back sagged deeply from all of the loads it had carried over the years. The mule moaned as the wind whistled about, snatching up bits of tiny tree branches and leaves. Chikie covered her eyes from the rain as she called out to Mink again. “Just come and let me help you on this here beast and I’ll get Angelic di-rectly.” Chikie moved the mule closer to Mink’s doorway so that she didn’t have to reach her legs up so high to sit upon him. Mink moved slowly against her pain and the blood that oozed from between her legs. Chikie lifted her up, wrapping her arms around her legs and placing her as gently as she could side saddled on the mule’s back. Mink was in agony but did not moan or cry out at the pain. “You all right? Chikie paused to look at Mink face to see if she could detect her discomfort. “No, go on and get Angelic, hurry now, I’m just fine, don’t you worry. Hand me those bundles and I’ll lay them across behind me.” Chikie handed Mink their tiny be-longings wrapped in sheets. Then she ran inside and scooped up Angelic who was wide awake but quiet. As Chikie closed the door behind her, she looked down at Angelic and said. “You sure are some kind of different child. You ain’t give us a lick of trouble since you come here. Now we going for a little ride cause we got to get someplace that fitting and safe for you.” She gently wrapped another blanket around Angelic’s tiny frame and ran out into the rain. “Now here’s your momma.” Chikie lifted Angelic into Mink’s arms and then dashed back into the shack. She snatched up Mink’s quilt and ran back out the door. “Here, this should keep you dry till it start to rain harder, then we gonna have to find some shelter.” Chikie moved in front of the mule. She pulled hard on the rope around its neck and began the walk away from doom toward a safe higher ground.