TITLE: A Heart's Journey - Chapter 4
By Michele Fleming
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â€śWhen are we going to be there?â€ť Ana knew that this was the first of many questions, for Lucy had never been very patient.
â€śWell, itâ€™s actually going to be a few days yet before we get to our last stop in Texas.â€ť Mr. Schneider began to explain. â€śBut, we will have to make a few stops along the way.â€ť
â€śWhy?â€ť Lucy wanted to know as she made herself comfortable on the footstool in front of Thomasâ€™s chair.
â€śTo by supplies and to rest from riding the train.â€ť
â€śWhere will stop?â€ť
Mr. Schneider smiled, and gave a pat to the girlâ€™s head.
â€śOur first stop will be in Shreveport, Louisiana. We will actually try to get a couple hotel rooms there for the night, so we can freshen up a bit.â€ť
He sat waiting for the next question that was sure to come.
â€śWhen will we be there?â€ť
â€śWe should be there tomorrow, around noon.â€ť
â€śTomorrow! Thatâ€™s a long time,â€ť she whined dramatically.
Ana felt the need to rescue the poor man. â€śLucy, quit bothering Mr. Schneider. We will get there, when we get there.â€ť
â€śHere, play with the doll Jacob gave you for a while,â€ť she suggested as she led her sister over to the sofa.
Lucy stuck out her lip in protest, but did as she was told. Not long after, she was asking Liza if she could go and lie down for a nap.
â€śMy doll is sleepy,â€ť she said rubbing her eyes and finishing with a large yawn.
â€śYo doll, huh? Alright, Iâ€™s be thinkin a nap would be a good idea,â€ť Liza said and began ushering her toward the sleeper car.
Ana spent the rest of the afternoon reading in the bible story book that Jacob had given her. Page after page of unbelievable and amazing stories, some she remembered from years past, but many that were brand new to her. The more Ana read the more she wanted to read, and before she knew it Liza was telling her it was time for supper.
Afterward, Mr. Schneider asked Ana and a bored Lucy, if they wanted to learn to play checkers. Taking turns playing against each other, they played on for several hours. They even talked Liza into joining in.
With their thoughts occupied by the game, it took a while to notice that Lucy had become very quiet. They looked and found her sound asleep sitting up in her chair. Liza scooped her up and headed for bed, as Ana helped Mr. Schneider clean up a bit.
A few minutes later they said their goodnights. Liza had already lain down, so she did her best to say her prayers all by herself, determined to talk to God as much as she could.
As Mr. Schneider promised, they arrived in Shreveport about lunchtime the following day. He helped to unload their things and they headed across the street to the hotel. Ana couldnâ€™t wait!
The first thing she wanted to do was to get a bath. She felt as though every inch of her body was covered in coal dust. She was also looking forward to getting out of a few layers of clothing, even if only for a little while. Mr. Schneider secured their rooms and helped them carry their things in.
â€śIâ€™m sure you ladies would like to freshen up and then take it easy for the rest of the afternoon, so if you would like, I will head downstairs and have them send up a bath and a little lunch for you,â€ť he offered.
â€śThat would be wonderfulâ€™sa,â€ť Liza said, adding a grateful smile.
â€śThank you, Mr. Schneider,â€ť Ana told him, he then turned and made his leave.
In no time they all had a bath and their stomachs were full. The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing the various shops along the boardwalk and enjoying the bright, sunny, summer day.
They took their time, especially in the mercantile. They had the biggest selection that Ana had ever seen. She could have stayed in there all day. But, they had promised Mr. Schneider that they would meet him in the hotel for supper and it was about that time.
As they headed toward the hotel, Ana began to feel as though they were being followed. She looked around and did notice a small group of men, but decided to ignore them. Once they arrived at the restaurant they found Mr. Schneider waiting for them. He led them to a table, where they sat and began to look over the menu.
After a few minutes, Ana realized the men that had been following them had entered the restaurant as well and were watching their every move from a table nearby. Mr. Schneider noticed and said something to them.
â€śGood evening, gentlemen. Nice evening out.â€ť
â€śUm-hum,â€ť was the only offered response from the group.
Ana began to study the group. There were four total and not one of them appeared to be of decent character. One in particular, was piercing Liza with dark, evil eyes.
As the fear began to rise within her, Ana found herself wishing they would leave. The one watching Liza finally took his gaze from her and spoke.
â€śWell, lookie here boys,â€ť he began, â€ślooks like we got us and educated slave.â€ť
â€śIs she really readinâ€™ that thing or is she pretendinâ€™?â€ť another wanted to know as he stood and headed over our way.
Liza quietly put the menu down, keeping her eyes on the table. She had always been strong and confident, but Ana watched as all of that slipped away.
â€śNow, gentlemen, we donâ€™t want any trouble,â€ť Mr. Schneider said as he started to stand.
â€śTrouble?â€ť the evil eyed man began. â€śTrouble is slaves that can read and think they can waltz around our town as they please.â€ť
â€śNow, sir, letâ€™s not do this. Weâ€™re only passing through and we will be out of here in the morning.â€ť
â€śI think you need to get out of town now, and take that peace of trash with you.â€ť
â€śHow dare you dare talk about Liza that way!" Ana screamed causing the man to come at her. She picked up the nearest thing for defense she could, which happened to be a steak knife and pointed it at him, daring him to take another step.
â€śIf this donâ€™t beat all!â€ť the man laughed and the rest of the men joined in.
â€śAna Grace, sit down!â€ť Liza begged.
â€śYeah, little girl, you mind that slave woman of yours.â€ť
â€śSheâ€™s not a slave! Sheâ€™s a free woman, so quit calling her that!â€ť
â€śAna! Let me handle this!â€ť Mr. Schneider ordered as he made it to her side and took the knife from her shaking hand.
He then turned and addressed the other man with more calm than he felt.
â€śLet us take our food upstairs and we will leave you gentlemen alone.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s a good idea, Jim. Letâ€™m head on up stairs,â€ť one of the other men said in attempt to calm the escalating tension.
â€śGet on up there then, and you best be on that train and out of here in the morninâ€™!â€ť he growled his warning.
Mr. Schneider gathered up his plate and drink and the women followed his lead. They then made their way up the stairs and to their rooms.
â€śYou ladies get in there and lock that door, you hear?â€ť he said when they reached their room.
â€śYesâ€™sa, Mr. Schneider. Iâ€™m shoâ€™ sorry fo the troubleâ€™sa,â€ť Liza said, with a quiver in her voice, still upset by the whole thing.
â€śNo apologies necessary, Ms. Liza. They are a bunch of belligerent fools and we shouldnâ€™t worry about them anymore.â€ť
They headed inside, sat and began trying to finish their meal. All Lucy wanted to do however was sit in Lizaâ€™s lap and hold on for dear life. This is how she fell asleep, and after Liza put her to bed she came to Anaâ€™s side.
â€śYa shouldnâ€™t a done that, Ana Grace,â€ť Ana knew she was referring to her outburst.
â€śI couldnâ€™t let them talk about you that way, Liza,â€ť she argued as her own tears began to fall.
â€śNow, now,â€ť Liza said as she wrapped her arms around her. â€śIâ€™m used to people like that. They donâ€™t bothâ€™a me.â€ť
â€śYes, they did bother you Liza, I could tell.â€ť
â€śWell, donâ€™t let it bothâ€™a you, sweet girl. Itâ€™s all ovâ€™a now. Lesâ€™ try to git some sleep.â€ť
Ana decided that was probably for the best and began to ready herself for bed. As nice as it had been to walk around a new town she couldnâ€™t wait to be on that train in the morning.
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