Chapter 39:

Chapter XXXVII – Sheep in the midst of wolves.

His Soul is Marching On to Another World; or, the John Brown Isekai (Fall of the Slave Harem)

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

- Matthew 10:16

Like they had done so many a time before, the freemen of Mount Curry had gathered. Not to throw a party or anything of that sort, there wasn’t enough of anything to throw even the lamest of parties. Cramped together in and outside the cave, some sitting on the looted couches while others preferred not to seat themselves as the silken cushions were unbearably comfortable for them. Small chitter and little chatter travelled around the room while the freemen concentrated around the area, forming a dangerously high concentration of volatile liberty which was ready to spontaneously combust and engulf every oppressor in its radius.

The crowd itself had gathered into a donut-shaped circle, this donut definitely not being edible unless one was a cannibal. In the middle was no one, on the periphery was everyone discussing with each other about what they wanted to talk about. This wasn’t exactly a planned style of discussion, far from anything you might see in professional debate and closer to something you might see on (insert contemporary social media site here to make fun of). One part of the donut got louder, another got quieter, a far-off piece was busy playing hopscotch… It was pure chaos distilled into a tasty donut shape.

…Why am I thinking so much about donuts? Ayomide’s train of thought was derailed by a craving for doughy circles covered in criminally copious amounts of sugar. She had first seen them in Jacob’s maid café; Ayomide had of course never gotten a chance to taste one despite her attempts to break out at night and raid the kitchen. The revolutionary catgirl wizard made a mental note to try a donut if she ever got a chance to. Perhaps Hakim could bake something like that? Ayomide didn’t know how sugar was produced, and whether it was even possible to produce it here in Mount Curry. Was sugar a plant product? A kind of rock, akin to salt? The product of an animal? She truly didn’t know, and her ignorance infuriated her. Perhaps Brown knew where sugar came from; if he had sugar back in Awmereighka was another thing that was unclear to Ayomide.

“Ye who art in this council, ladies and gentlemen,” boomed out the voice of Brown. The freemen felt sort of awkward due to being referred to ‘ladies and gentlemen’ considering that they were considered the lowest rung of society. “If you have discussed your own matters enough, then with the Lord as our witness I’d like it if we could begin discussing our own matters.”

“Captain Brown.” One certain Bilal came onto the scene after announcing his presence. He marched in the middle of the crowd-made donut to address everyone in the scene. “I don’t think I need to report on how we’re doing in the kilns.”

“Yes, it’s impossible not to hear you all pray over pottery.” replied Ayomide from the crowd, which prompted a few laughs except for Brown, Tubman and Vaiz who weren’t pleased with the heathen’s comment.

“Ahem, just as our most esteemed Lady Orange reported.” replied Bilal, who wasn’t pleased either. “We’ve sorted the kilns out. However, as we found out during our work, we have something else that needs sorting out.” He pointed towards his own body, which was naked except for his baggy pants that were barely holding together. This sort of attire was repeated among the freemen who weren’t exactly able to follow the latest trends in fashion.

“Clothes?” shouted one member of the audience, and Bilal nodded in response. “Of course, it’s clothes! We can barely get by during the summer, with everyone of us being in the cold highlands, not to even think of the dreadful winter that’ll eventually come.”

“Indeed, winter does tend to come after summer.” stated Brown, whose statement was as obvious as cabbages being green. He had meant it as a sort of allegorical statement, about how they should not be feeling easy after their victorious escape, but this allegory ended up flying over everyone so highly that it might as well have ended up crashing into another planet.

“…Y-yes, the seasons do tend to do that, captain.” Bilal paused for a moment after having confirmed Brown, unsure of how to continue his speech after such a sentence.

“If it is clothes that you look for,” Ayomide came to the rescue of Bilal. “We’ve just conveniently acquired funds thanks to our generous patrons.”

Bilal’s reply to this proposition was quick. “Then let’s go to the nearest town. Surely, they’ll be understanding when a bunch of darkskins go shopping for clothes. Nor will they be looking out for fugitives after a mine full of slaves took flight.”

“White folk to tend to have their eyes peeled wide open after they hear of fugitives.” commented Tubman, standing among the audience, drawing from her experience as an operator in the Underground Railroad. “You don’t want to be seen wandering by yourself.”

“The most important part is ‘not be seen wandering by yourself’, as I think General Tubman can attest.” Brown had already been scheming a few things, and Bilal had brought the perfect opportunity for him to bring them up.

“You’re right, Captain Brown.” Tubman could see where he was going. “A good ally, a good excuse and a good attitude can let you reach forbidden lands. Be wise as a serpent, and you can even walk as a sheep in the midst of wolves.”

Brown couldn’t keep himself from seizing this opportunity to quote the Bible. “‘Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.’. That’s an excellent quote from the Good Book, one that I believe is imperative to keep in mind.”

The old man, famous for being harmless as a dove, added Ayomide silently.

“I’ll be getting a team together to sort the clothes problem out, along with anything else you may need our funds to be used on.” concluded Brown. “Get together a shopping list, a list of items to buy, and we’ll figure something out.” He had added the definition of a ‘shopping list’ just in case the locals hadn’t developed the concept of one, not aware of the fact that shopping lists were about as old as history itself.

With his complaint having been heard, Bilal blended back into the crowd. Next up was Tubman, who was the only otherworlder, other than Brown, that the freemen liked. “I’ve also noticed that something has been missing.” The freemen waited for her to point toward something like Bilal, but she didn’t point to anything. “This group and this place, I don’t think we have a name for them.”

The freemen looked at each other, trying to remember if they had an official name for themselves. The discussion went on for a minute, before consensus was reached: No, the freemen in Mount Curry didn’t have a name for themselves.

“Is it that important, old lady?” Ayomide looked relaxed and quite unbothered. “I don’t think having a name for our little organization is important.”

“There’s no harm in choosing one.” replied Bilal. “Hmm…” Nothing popped into his mind. Nobody really had any experiences with abolitionist groups, meaning that they also didn’t have any idea on naming schemes.

“How about… naming this place, uhm, Liberty Cave? Libertycave? Something like that.” said Ayomide, giving the first thing to pop into her mind.

“No, that honestly sounds lame. How about…” Discussion suddenly lit up amongst the crowd, sending waves of name suggestions around the donut. This question, which Tubman would think to be quite trivial, ate up the rest of the day even as the freemen separated from each other for the night.

Taylor J
Steward McOy