48 Hours a Day
Chapter 249 - Special Leah
Leah’s insistence on saving her friends significantly lowered the chance of a quiet escape.
Since they were throwing in everything, Lola went all out to encourage everyone she could to join the daring escape, albeit remaining extremely conservative on who she told. She didn’t inform everyone about the plan, revealing it to only a trusted few at lunch the next day. Those who were part of the plan would be alerted, and they would start preparing themselves without leaking any information.
Leah was set for an important task herself. Her job was to steal any letters related to Normand and Raymond. Since she cleaned Malcolm’s study every week, it wasn’t too complicated, provided the room was empty.
Leah’s biggest worry was that Malcolm would be there while she cleaned. The good news was, Malcolm had something important to do and left the manor early that morning.
Thus, when noon came around, Leah entered the study as usual. After greeting the guard with a smile, she closed the door behind her, letting out a massive sigh of relief as he steadied herself. Instantly, she went about the chore of cleaning the room. She was extra swift this time, but once she was done, there wasn’t much time left for her original mission. Leah hastily stormed to the bookcase and pulled the drawer open.
There was nothing inside.
It was completely empty! She swore the letters were still there when she cleaned the room last week.
Could the recent tensions and successive incidents of Nadia and Daisy have prompted Malcolm to move away everything important? But then again, from the haphazard way those letters were piled up, she could tell that Malcolm didn’t care about them much.
She forced herself to stop panicking as she went through the various possibilities in her mind. At the same time, her hands didn’t stop, searching the entire study as she went along. However, despite her best efforts, there was still no trace of the letters.
Leah grew more anxious by the second as every drawer she opened turned up empty. In her haste, she made a blunder. As she shifted backward, she accidentally knocked a low cabinet, sending the binaural vase on it to come crashing down!
She turned around to try to catch it, but it was already too late. The vase had already fallen onto the floor. Fortunately for carpets, it didn’t shatter, although one of its handles had broken off.
Leah was horrified, her heart falling even harder the vase. This was Malcolm’s favorite piece of porcelain. An adventurer brought it from a distant and mysterious land of the far east, and no doubt. It was a priceless artifact, worth hundreds of times of what she was sold for. She had always been extra careful whenever she cleaned, but this time, her mind was so preoccupied with finding the letters that she discounted her surroundings.
Before she could even think up a plan to salvage the situation, she heard footsteps from the outside of the study.
They were the sound of Malcolm’s unique stride, swifter than most men, but with a pace firm and confident. The interval between each step was almost always the same too. It was just as he was, efficient, solemn, and calm.
The guard pushed the door open, and Malcolm entered. The moment he saw Leah clutching the vase with one hand and cleaning the counter with the other, she thought she was done for. However, he simply cocked an eyebrow and didn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary.
In fact, he seemed to be in a good mood today. “Stop cleaning. Go tell the kitchen to put some steak on the grill,” he instructed Leah.
“Alright. Haven’t you had your lunch yet?” Leah turned around, hiding the damaged vase behind her back and trying her hardest to maintain a smile.
“Mm. I had two bites of apple pie on the way back. Average tasting stuff.”
Thank goodness Malcolm wasn’t looking at her. In an attempt to shift the man’s attention, she picked up a wine bottle and hurried over to pour him a glass.
Malcolm cleared his throat.
“I heard that you and Daisy are quite close.”
Leah froze, and a feeling of dread overwhelmed her. Malcolm must have turned his suspicions to her. To her relief, he said, “Do you happen to know who she’s close to?”
“That…” Leah started but was hesitant.
“What’s wrong? Are you afraid that the others would shun you if you tell me? But haven’t you always been getting the cold shoulder anyway?”
Leah was surprised that Malcolm knew about it.
“Are you surprised? I’ve been giving you preferential treatment, so naturally, the others will be unhappy. They are too afraid to hate me, so they turned to the person closest to me. That happens to be you. But because of that, I get to sniff out the rogues. Don’t worry, I won’t let them hurt you. Haven’t you realized it yet? Those who have mistreated you have all but disappeared?” Malcolm paused. He finished up his wine as he stared at the girl with a cocked head. “With you helping me, I don’t have to worry about anything,” he went on.
Leah wasn’t the least pleased the creepy undetone in her master’s voice. When those words hit her, her blood ran cold, and a frigid chill ran down her spine.
Truth be told, she actually felt guilty that she had seen Malcolm’s letters. No matter what the other slaves thought about him, he treated her well, at the very least. And after all these years of Malcolm’s influence, her mindset was actually closer to that of a white woman.
That also made her different from her own people. At times, she even felt that Malcolm understood her better than her own compatriots. He played a similar role as her father and mentor, and undeniably, she felt some warmth from it. However, as it turned out, it was all an illusion. Malcolm treated her differently, not because of how special she was, but because he needed her to seem “special.”
“Alright, I’m hungry. Go hurry the chef up,” Malcolm said. “And oh, it’s been quite humid recently, so I had someone sun the letters this morning. Collect them later in the evening, will you?”
Leah nodded and left the study.
It was destined to be a sleepless night.
When the hands of the clock in the living room struck twelve, Lola woke the maid in the bed next to her and told about their escape plans. At the same time, the same thing was happening in all the other rooms until eventually, almost twenty maids were gathered in Leah’s quarters.
These were almost half of all the maids in the manor. Except for Laeli’s people, the rest of the colored women wishing to escape were now practically together. Lola tied up the ones afraid of getting caught, gagging them to keep them from blowing the whistle. Most of all, it was done for their own good. If they were caught with any information, they would be punished severely once Leah and the others escaped.
As for the male slaves living in another building, they were led by someone else.
Leah glanced at the faces of the women before her. In their eyes, she saw anxiety, fear, and a powerful yearning for freedom. Without hesitation, she declared, “Sisters, let us together, break the shackles that bind our necks!”