It was dark when the men carried Stony to his cabin. Dinah held the wooden door open and pressed her hand to her mouth, trying to stop the tears as she heard his groans. Someone lit a candle and the pale yellow light flickered over the bloodstained bandage that wrapped her beloved's back.
One of the men clapped his big, meaty hand on Dinah's shoulder. "Do you need anything, Miss Dinah?" His voice was deep and rumbly and oddly strengthening. Dinah lowered her hand and shook her head.
The men filed out the door, heading for their own beds. The day would start early tomorrow and no one wanted to risk his ability to work hard by staying up all night. Dinah was left alone with Stony.
"Dinah." Stony's voice was a whisper. "I'm so happy, Dinah."
Dinah looked over his battered form and choked back tears. "Happy, Stony?"
He moved his head so he could see her, and pain washed over his face. He closed his eyes, taking deep heavy breaths. Then he opened them again and smiled reassuringly. "The doctor came. He sent everybody away whilst he wrapped my back."
"The doctor? But they've never sent for a doctor before."
"The overseer beat me...pretty bad." A groan escaped his lips. "And the master's sister was visiting. She has a soft heart, I think. She insisted...on the doctor."
Dinah knelt beside him and fingered the edge of the bandage. What horrors did it conceal? What had they done to her Stony?
"I'm going to be alright, Dinah. The doctor - he says I be as strong as they come. I'll be as good as new -- you'll see." Stony stopped, breathing rapidly for a moment before continuing. "That's not all the doctor said."
Stony painstakingly moved his arm, bringing it around until his hand reached Dinah's. His fingers closed about hers and squeezed. "The doctor has been trying to get word to this plantation for weeks. It's here, Dinah. Freedom. God sent us our very own Moses. The doctor told me everything. Dinah...we're getting out."
"Out?" Dinah shook her head doubtfully. "Freedom?"
"In two weeks..." Stony slowly nodded his head. "...you will be riding the underground railroad, my girl."
Dinah leaned forward until her cheek rested against Stony's. He kissed her and then his breathing settled into the steady rhythm of sleep. Dinah stayed there, even though her leg went numb, unwilling to disturb his sleep. But the whole time she wondered: could it really be true? Was freedom just a fortnight away?