The Soul Traveler
The water in Charleston Harbor was still. It reflected the cotton candy clouds hanging in a clear summer sky. The breeze was pleasant as it softly cooled people working in the harbor.
The Portuguese ship, known as the slave ship, sat unmoving on the giant mirror.
Bit John Martin was in town. “Conley one slave,” he bellowed above the small crowd. A giant of a man unlike anyone these parts had seen was standing on the trading block. He was seven feet tall and three hundred pounds.
The sweat from the warm sunshine sent tiny ripples around each hard muscle.
Quite surprised and please with the healthy specimen, the evil plantation owner gave a greedy smile. “I must have this giant,” he said to himself. “Two Fifty!” someone yelled. “Five hundred!” John Martin yelled. That was the most anyone had ever paid for a slave, but Martin was the richest in the state of South Carolina. The captain helped Martin load up his prize.
“Keep the leg irons on and chain him to the wagon. He is gonna need a couple of whoopins before I get him in the field.” The captain replied, “Glad to get rid of this fella because he is nothing but trouble.”
It was a twenty-mile ride to the largest plantation anywhere around. Passing the ten-mile mark, one of the wagon wheels came off. “You just lay there mister while I walk to the farm. You aren’t afraid, are you?”
Then the fun began. As quick as John could look around, the giant was out of his chains. In the brush, he retrieved the wheel that had mysteriously come off. Martin knew it always took two of his strongest men to put a wheel on the wagon. It was all happening too fast. With one hand, he picked up the wagon and slid the wheel on with his other hand. Then, he disappeared and reappeared alongside a very confused Jim Martin.
He grabbed his whip, stinging the horses. “Giddy up!” he screamed — half scared to death. The horses did not budge. Suddenly, big Jim cried out in pain. The giant, who now introduced himself as Angel Arnold, had struck Jim with the ship as he whispered softly, “Let’s go boys.” “Animals feel pain the same as you mere mortals. That’s the first of many lessons you will be learning.”
“Please, can I just take you back? I don’t even want my money back.”
Arnold laughed. “The fun has just begun. Be glad you are even getting a first-hand chance to change your hateful ways. You should take advantage of this opportunity.” And so, it went.
“You will build a church for your so-called slaves. In addition, you will construct a two-room schoolhouse. Your wife would love to teach but will be too afraid to say anything., Also, you will call a doctor from town for any worker that falls ill.”
“Don’t worry, no one can see me. If I choose, they will just think the evil Jim Martin got the heebee jeebees and was scared to death. By the way, whenever you go into town, I will become visible at your side in the wagon. After all, I did just flip your wagon,” he chuckled.
“I don’t have that much money in the bank,” Jim mumbled. “I know you only have $17,302.30 and that will be the total I demand of you. You do have a choice to refuse to do any of the things I ask, but I hate to tell you the other choice.” “Yes sir, Mr. Arnold, I mean Angel Arnold,” he humbly spoke.
The plantation prospered. “I’m leaving now, but I will watch you close — no backsliding! This is the year 1858. Soon, a little general named Sherman will be coming through. Be nice to him and he might not burn your house down. Too bad it will take a war to make people free, but sometimes that it what it takes. So, you see, Big Jim, you are ahead of the game. Who would have thought?”
“One thing puzzles me, if I may ask. Why did you let them put you on a ship? Why didn’t you just appear to me?”
“Jim, angels have to have a little fun. I had that ship going around in circles for a week and they could never find me where they expected me to be! The Boss tries to find the good in all of us. You are a lucky man Jim Martin!”