TITLE: Freedom Boys
GENRE: MG Historical Fiction
After a perilous journey in 1848 from slavery in Mississippi to freedom in Liberia, thirteen-year-old Granville Woodson seeks an education, a real home, and a peaceful life without whippings and lynch mobs. When his friends die from the African Fever, he must battle his fear of snakes and critters, white men, and the indigenous people to search for medicine in the forest to save his sick mother and best friend.
A shiver shoots down my spine. Above me, owls hoot back and forth, regular as a tick-tock. As the sun rises, a dust devil whips up from the big house ruins and floats across the garden through Master's cemetery. It's coming direct at me and Gibson in the woods, swirling and sucking in more leaves till it's taller than a pillar. I grasp the rabbit's foot real tight--not that I'm scared or nothing.
When the dust devil smashes against an oak tree, it scatters bits clear over the slave cemetery. My stomach twists.
Gibson hops as if a ghost is blowing hot breath on his soles. "Granville, what're you waitin' for? Grab them belongings!"
"It's my fault y'all won't be leaving with us for Liberia. Please forgive me." I pluck up a string of cowry shells, a piece of gleaming plate, a ring carved from a horn, and a brass amulet from my friends' graves. "May God help y'all rest in peace, Amen." I scoop up a handful of cemetery dirt, in case of trouble.
We race downhill, cutting across the fields where the cotton bolls languish. Gibson lags behind me. I stop dead in my tracks and shout out, "Can't you run faster?"
A dog howls in the woods.
Brownie! That's trouble all right. Most nights, Mr. Stampley, the overseer, keeps the bloodhound tied up behind his cabin. By the time Gibson stumbles next to me, the barking's louder than my thumping heart.