In the year of 1766, there lived a woman called Teresa Finn; born in 1700 to a bourgeoisie white family who owned a cattle ranch in the state of Mississippi. After her parents, the great Mary and Huckle Finn of the Berry Ranch, had died, they passed their entire estate over to their only daughter, Teresa. Teresa had never married and had no children of her own, but she was a very wealthy woman.
Brought up in a childhood of complete isolation from the outside world, it was not until her 19th birthday that she even left the grounds of her parent’s estate. Other than her parents, the only people she had ever met till then, were the slaves that lived and worked within her parent’s estate. As taught by her parents, to Teresa, these slaves had no higher value than the cattle that lived within the ranch. The cattle obeyed her every word under pain of whip, and once its purpose had been served, it was discarded; the same went for the slaves. So it’s no mystery that at the age of 66, she saw her slaves as unemotional, brain dead meat, there to serve her every will until it became useless and was to be discarded.
Before I begin her mysterious story, I must first bring into account an evening in 1732, where she met a wondering traveler, seeking shelter from the rain. The traveler was let into her grounds by one of Teresa’s slaves, who knowing that it was forbidden to allow an outsider into the ranch, did so anyway out of the kindness of her heart, seeing that this man was desperately seeking shelter form the storm that hailed from the sky. The traveler was brought to Teresa who granted the man shelter and food. The traveler identified himself as a Mormon, travelling towards the Great Salt Lake City. As he ate the little food Teresa had provided for him, he began to engage Teresa in conversation. The topic drifted unwelcomely to that of slavery. The traveler expressed his very outward opinion of being anti-slavery, stating that a slave bleeds as you do, feels as you do, dies as you do and loves as you do. Teresa, having never been so offended, answered with much disdain, that a cow also bleeds, a cow also feels pain and dies and may even love, but a cow is a cow and a slave is a slave, both being lesser creatures of this earth.
She immediately sent the traveler on his way, and the following morning, the slave girl who allowed the traveler into the grounds, was strapped to a wooden post and sentenced to four hundred lashes. At the point of one hundred lashes, the girls back no longer had skin. At two hundred lashes, her bones began to slice. At three hundred; blood, bone and muscle had slithered out of her body and lay an entangled mash on the ground. At four hundred, the girl was long dead. Teresa oversaw the execution, and if one was also was present on this hideous day of human brutality, and had the strength to speak over the dramatic symphonic screams and asked Teresa why she refused to show mercy to this girl, her answer would have been:
“Mercy is an emotion of pity reserved only for those who feel emotions – human beings, that thing is not of our race and so does not deserve my mercy”.
Skipping 34 years since this unsparing incident took place, I bring you to the 2nd of March, 1766. I could go into vivid detail of each second of the day’s event, which would leave the desired effect I intend on my dear reader, yet I shall spare you the tiny details of the monotonous daily routines that fell upon the 2nd of March and skip to that evening.
Teresa was sitting in her common room, sipping on her evening sherry and reading the bible, Genesis 1:26-27. As she sat there, the blood in her toes and fingers warmed by the crackling fire nearby, a smashing crash echoed in her ear, and suddenly sherry, as vast as the sea, and red as if the dusk sun itself were casting its mellow reflection upon, parted from the air and collided pugnaciously onto her bible. She bellowed infuriatingly and rose. One of her slaves, who had been tasked with filling up her sherry glass, stood shaking by her side; her head so low her nose could have swept the dirt on the ground.
“You stupid cow” roared Teresa.
“I’m soo sorry my lady” the slave pleaded but was immediately interrupted.
“You, you…there are no words in the English language to describe the filth that you are”, Teresa screamed for another slave who burst into the room, looking almost as frightened as the slave girl who had spilled the sherry over her master’s bible.
“Take this slave out to the grounds, I sentence her to four hundred lashes, that should teach her, her lesson” Teresa bellowed.
The slave who had entered the room darted towards the slave girl and clasped her hands behind her back.
“Please my lady, it was an accident, I really didn’t mean to” she pleaded hysterically “I’ve been working outside in the fields all day, I only just came inside to begin my house duties and it’s been soo cold today, my hands are still freezing, I couldn’t control them properly, oh please have mercy on me, I beg you, please”. Tears showered her face and her body began to tremble uncontrollably.
Teresa, now calm, answered unemotionally “how dare you speak to me animal, take her out of my sight”, and glided gracefully towards her bedroom.
And with that, the slave girl never uttered a single comprehensible word, the only sounds that exited out of her mouth where those of agonizing pain as she suffered the same fate as the slave girl of 1732.
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Teresa awoke the next day, feeling somewhat sluggish. She looked around her bedroom and immediately sprung out of her bed. The room she was in was not her own room, her room was a comfortable elegant room, fitted with soft white walls and a fireplace to warm her toes as she slept in her magnificent four-poster bed. This room was not elegant or comfortable, but rather ghastly and horrific, there was no fireplace and even if there was, it would have made little difference as the heat would have easily escaped from the gaps in the sullied straws that were strung together in order to fashion a wall. There was no bed but rather a bundle of hay, covered in mud and dirt, not even fit for a pig let alone a human being.
Teresa, her heart pounding out of her chest, roared at the top of her voice, yelling incomprehensible commands. She quickly dusted herself form all the muck from the hay bed, but as she did so, her eye fell upon her hands and body, which caused her to collapse to the ground in horror. Her hands and feet were black. She quickly spat on her hands and began scrubbing them on the ground, praying that it was just mud or dirt, but the pigmentation would not erase, she tore at her hands without pause until blood began to ooze out of her skin.
She looked around for a mirror but could not find one, but spotted a metal tray by the side of the clump of hay and darted across the room to grab it. As slow as time itself moved, she lifted the metal tray up towards her face. After an eternity had passed, she caught the first glimpse of her reflection and once again screamed excruciatingly at the sight that befall her – she had somehow deformed and transformed during her sleep, into the shadow of a slave.
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That day, she had learnt what is was like, in the life of a slave. Her screams and bellowing had attracted the foreman who had beaten her in order to bring her to sense. She had pleaded with the foreman that something was wrong, the she was not a slave, she was the owner of the estate, in which the only reply she received was the rod. Teresa had never felt pain in her life, not once had she broken a bone or pulled a ligament or even scraped her skin, her parents had protected her from all misery that fell upon the human soul. So her first encounter with pain, felt to her, so intense, so excruciatingly mystifying, so unbearable that she quickly succumb to the will of her torturer.
She spent the day in the fields, cutting corn. The heat of the sun blistered her skin, her sweat poured from her body like a rushing stream. Never had she felt so exhausted, so thirsty, so hungry – she didn’t even know the vocabulary to describe the insufferable emotions that plagued her body – she didn’t even know such feelings could exist.
The whole day she was surrounded by others of her nature, and even when they offered her a helping hand, still she felt utter contempt for them and shivered with disgust, as the foreman did, when they placed their skin upon hers.
The day came to a close, and when she thought that her terrors might be over and was allowed to retire to her bed, and hoped to sleep off this nightmare and wake again in her secluded paradise, such pleasurable thoughts were snatched away as she was told her night duties would begin in the masters chamber.
She was given a handful of rice and a few precious seconds to gulf down the nourishment before she was beckoned in the house, that just last night, was her own domain. She looked around at the furniture and ornaments, all exactly as it was just a night ago. It seemed the only thing that was different was herself.
She was given a bottle of sherry and a diamond glass and was ushered into the master’s common room. She walked ominously towards the figure that sat in her chair, that was being warmed by her fireplace. Resentment soared through her veins at the figure who dared to steal her place. As she cornered the chair and got her first glimpse of her imposter, her insides leaped and her eyes widened in shock and disbelief.
There in front of her, was her own father, Huckle Finn, risen form the dead. She dropped the sherry glass, which crashed upon the bible her father was reading. The crimson liquid soaked the pages of the bible and her father contorted his head to face her. He gave her a look that she had never once seen, a look of not just disgust and contempt and fury, but of utter hatred.
“You stupid cow” roared her father.
“I’m soo sorry father, it was an accident” Teresa pleaded.
“What did you call me you insolent stain? FOREMAN!!” Huckle thundered.
The foreman quickly rushed into the room and paced terrifyingly towards Teresa and looked her arms behind her back.
“Father it’s me, your daughter, something happened, I don’t know what it is. Please, you must believe me, I beg you father, can’t you recognize me, it’s me, your Teresa” tears trickled down her face and she looked into her father’s eyes and was received with blank black eyes as cold as a sharks’ eyes before devouring its prey.
“You are the most impertinent and nauseating filth to have ever walked this earth, and you would dare to claim to be a daughter that I’ve never had. As if it was possible for me to breed a monstrous and foul skinned creature as yourself form my loins. Foreman, take this slave out to the grounds, I sentence her to four hundred lashes, that should teach her a lesson or two in her place on God’s earth” Huckle spat heartlessly.
Teresa’s body began to tremble and shake, her legs gave out and if not for the foreman’s bone crushing clasp, she would have collapsed to the ground. “Please, oh please, have mercy on me, I beg of you, have mercy. This is just a nightmare, I’ll wake up soon enough, it has to be a nightmare, please father, have mercy!!”
Her unknowing father replied instantly, deep from his soul, “Mercy is an emotion of pity reserved only for those who feel emotions – human beings. You are not of my race and so do not deserve my mercy”.