Liberating Atlantis

Liberating Atlantis by Harry Turtledove

Book: Liberating Atlantis by Harry Turtledove Read Free Book Online
Authors: Harry Turtledove
Frederick answered proudly. “We’re here to clean things out, that’s what we’re here for. Are you with us or against us?”
    “Lord Jesus!” the Negro yelped. If he said he was against them, he wouldn’t live long. And maybe he didn’t need much persuading. “You’re gonna do for Master Benjamin?”
    “His snooty ol’ Veronique, too,” Helen said.
    “You really are!” Benjamin Barker’s slave might have discovered it was Christmas in summertime. “Count me in! You got a spare gun I can shoot?”
    “Not yet, but we will pretty quick,” Frederick said. If Barker’s Negro wanted to think that meant they aimed to plunder the big house, he was welcome to for the time being. Let him prove himself before he got a rifle musket of his own.
    “Well, come on, then!” he said now, and he sure seemed enthusiastic. “I’ll take you straight to him, I will!”

V
    They hadn’t gone very far before they came upon a work gang weeding in the fields. Frederick’s back and shoulders twinged sympathetically. He’d been doing the same thing himself a couple of days earlier. And making sure the gang actually worked, of course, was Benjamin Barker’s overseer.
    He was older and tougher-looking than Matthew had been. Matthew had been a man who wanted to rise, the kind who dreamt of owning a plantation himself one day. This fellow was out of dreams. All he wanted was to go on doing what he was doing already. He’d never rise higher than overseer, and he knew it.
    Instead of a switch, he carried a lash in his right hand. And, where Matthew had had a knife on his belt, a pistol rode this overseer’s right hip.
    His hand dropped to that pistol as soon as he saw strange slaves. “All right, you bastards!” he growled. “You’ve got three shakes of a lamb’s tail to tell me what the hell you’re doing on Master Barker’s land. C’mon! Make it snappy!”
    He had to die. Frederick wasn’t the only one who realized it. Half a dozen rifle muskets rose as one and trained on the overseer’s chest and head. It wasn’t anything personal—but, then again, it was. Frederick had trouble imagining a field hand who didn’t want to shoot an overseer.
    “Son of a bitch!” this white man exclaimed. “You lousy, stupid idiots are trying to rise up!” With startling speed, his pistol cleared the holster.
    With startling speed—but not fast enough. Before the overseer could pull the trigger, those rifle muskets spoke together. A couple of the conical bullets the longarms spat might have missed him, but most struck home. A round that caught a man square in the face drastically rearranged his looks, and not for the better. Scarlet flowers blossomed on the overseer’s shirtfront, too. He pitched forward and lay facedown in the dirt.
    Benjamin Barker’s slaves gaped at him, and at the men and women of the Liberating Army. Frederick paid no attention to them for a little while; he was reloading as fast as he could. Only after a new percussion cap sat on the nipple and a new powder charge and bullet were rammed down and firmly seated in the barrel did he start to notice their exclamations.
    “What’d you go and do that for?” a mulatto woman asked shrilly, her knuckles pressed against her mouth.
    Davey laughed. “You gonna tell me an overseer didn’t have it coming? Not likely!”
    “But . . .” The woman’s gaze traveled to the blood soaking into the ground under the dead white man, then quickly jerked away. “You went and shot him. Just like that, you went and shot him.”
    Lorenzo laughed at her. “Nothing gets by you, does it, sweetheart?” He’d also reloaded before worrying about anything else. Gunfire might bring Benjamin Barker at the run, intent on finding out what had happened.
    “What you gonna do with us?” a copperskinned man asked.
    “Set you free. Give you guns,” Frederick answered. “Nobody’s gonna sell us any more, not ever again. Nobody’s gonna horsewhip us any more, neither, not ever

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