Priest Tim steadied his breath as he entered the manor with the baskets of bread in hand. Wallace then signaled over a slave to take them from him. Suddenly, Priest Tim spoke up.
“Is Daisy around?”
“Why? Do you need her for something?”
Wallace raised an eyebrow, surprised that Priest Tim would specifically ask for Daisy.
“She asked a question about my last sermon, and I didn’t get to answer her right away. For the past two days, I’ve been praying for God to guide me. Now that He has finally graced with an answer, I must let her know.”
“You can tell me the answer. I will relay your message to her,” smiled the slave who was with Wallace.
“I’m sorry, but I think it would be more appropriate if I tell her personally. This is, after all, my job.”
Priest Tim stood his ground, insistent and adamant. The slave then turned around to look at Wallace for an answer, but he simply shrugged.
“It’s hard to say no to a priest. Call Daisy here.”
After that, Wallace turned to Priest Tim again.
“Priest Tim, are you feeling warm? This is the second time I see you wiping your sweat in five minutes.”
“Indeed. The weather is extra hot today.”
Priest Tim’s heart thumped violently in his chest when he heard Wallace’s remarks. Instinctively, he wanted to wipe off the sweat on his brow again, but quickly put down his trembling arm. Wallace noticed that something wasn’t right, but just as he was about to say something, Daisy arrived. Out of courtesy, Wallace stepped aside and allowed the vicar and slave to talk. Graciousness notwithstanding, he actually intended to eavesdrop on their conversation, and hence, lingered around the vicinity, hoping to pick up on something
Henceforth, Priest Tim spent a good five minutes explaining Daisy’s engaging question: who God would listen to first if the blacks and whites prayed together at the same time.
“Very impressive explanation, Priest Tim. I was wondering. Is there anything else that you need to do here?” asked Wallace right after the vicar was done talking.
Priest Tim shook his head and passed the baskets of bread to Daisy.
“Please help me distribute the bread to the rest of the children.”
“Allow me to send you off then,” said Wallace with a stare as he gestured at the door with his hand.
Once Priest Tim left the mansion, Wallace quickly talked to two of his supervisors.
“Fetch Daisy to the torture room. Give her a healthy dose of whipping. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“What about Priest Tim?”
“Leave him be. We shouldn’t mess with priests if there’s no solid evidence. It could get us into a lot of unnecessary trouble.”
At that, the two supervisors ran to Daisy’s room, grabbed her by her hair, and dragged the struggling girl of the room. Wallace then walked in and kicked the four baskets of bread, expecting to find something. Lo and behold, whatever was in the baskets, was indeed nothing but good ol’ bread. Wallace then stepped on all the loaves, crushing them to verify their contents. However, he found nothing within, as well.
Wallace wasn’t the least satisfied. He went on, turning over the sheets and flipping her bed, going as far as to dismantle every single plank that held it together. Still, despite ransacking almost everything, he found nothing unusual. Wallace frowned in frustration. For good measure, he tossed her entire wardrobe before walking out of her room. The few slaves who had gathered at the door to see what the commotion was all about quickly opened up a way for the storming Wallace.
In a blinding rage, Wallace suddenly targeted one of them and asked, “Have you seen Daisy leave the room?”
The slave quickly shook her head, only making Wallace ever the madder. He growled in a low, menacing tone,
“You know the consequences of lying to me,
The slave was so fearful of Wallace that she started crying loudly. Wallace shoved the terrified girl away and looked at the rest of the slaves.
“How about you guys? Did you see Daisy leaving her room?”
All of them shook their heads together. Although it could happen, the possibility of so many slaves lying to him all at once was tiny, and Wallace began to doubt himself. Perhaps he was mistaken after all. When he thought about the strange way Priest Tim behaved, he was almost sure that there was something wrong with him. This was a critical period for Malcolm, and Wallace wasn’t taking any risks. Since he failed to find anything in Daisy’s room, he would have to resort to interrogating Daisy personally.
Wallace wasted no time and rushed to the torture room with long strides.
Leah’s room was right beside Daisy’s. When she heard Daisy screaming, she quickly hopped over to see why. Whatever she saw next terrified her. Daisy had become Laeli’s new insider from Terrance Manor after Nadia’s apprehension. She didn’t expect her to be caught just days before her escape.
This time, Leah started to panic. It wasn’t because Daisy might tell Wallace that she had a part in it, but once Daisy was captured, Laeli’s link to the manor would once again be severed. Right now, she had no idea what Laeli was up, and she didn’t know what to do next as well. What worried her most was Laeli thinking that she must have received his message, and he’d jump into action when the time wasn’t right. Not only would he fail to save his people, but he would also get himself into big trouble.
Suddenly, someone tapped Leah’s shoulder. When she turned around, she saw Lola. The woman wasn’t from her tribe, and they weren’t in good terms with each other. Lola had been envious of Leah getting special treatment from Malcolm and would usually ostracise Leah in front of the other slaves. At such a critical juncture, Leah didn’t want Lola to see her panic. What Lola said next, however, left her in shock.
“Are you people planning to escape this place?”
“What… what are you talking about?”
Leah’s heart instantly fell in dread, and her teeth started chattering.
“Hey, listen. Now, don’t you be afraid, little kitty. Daisy asked me to come for you. Follow me. I have something to show you.”
After that, Lola led her to the hut used to store the cleaning equipment. Leah hesitated for a while but decided to follow her anyway. The thoughts of Lola using this method to sell her out to Wallace swiftly crossed her mind. After all, the two weren’t exactly friends, and Lola wasn’t from her tribe either. She had no obligation to help her at a time like this. Either way, Leah was left with no other option. As long as a slim chance to turn the tide around existed, she didn’t mind the self-sacrifice.
Once Leah entered the hut, Lola lit up an oil lamp and lifted the canvas lying at the corner of the room. Two guns and eight daggers were presented before her.
“These are the weapons your allies brought for you. I also have one more thing to pass to you,” said Lola as she produced a letter.
Leah was about to take it, but Lola suddenly pulled it back.
“Did you really think I’ll give it to you just like that? I have taken a massive risk hiding these weapons for you. If I weren’t there to clean up the place, Daisy would have been caught in possession of those weapons.”
“What do you want?” asked Leah. She had finally calmed down.
“I want whatever you guys want. I want to leave this hellhole as well. I want to take a huge whiff of the air of freedom! You can either let me join you, or we can all rot here for eternity in this god-forsaken manor.”