Fight Or Flight

October 15, 1896
Penelope Sumter

We swerved to the right narrowly avoiding the angry mob marching down the center of the main street. Wilbur’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel. The angry shouts of the mob behind us left me with a near uncontrollable urge to stand up and shout, “Let them eat cake.” Fortunately the automobile’s velocity and jostling, kept me holding onto my seat rather than vacating it.

I realize now I should have taken the whole situation much more seriously, but at that moment it all seemed more like a comedy. I briefly imagined it was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster somewhere near Carrington Manor or perhaps inside its walls. The only thing missing was a thunderstorm and howling wind, but by the look of the sky, they could both be well on their way.

“We have to go back. We have to help her.” Lizzie said.

Wilbur ignored her.

“Help who?” I asked.

“Sarah.” She said.

“Who?” I asked again.

“Sarah Waters, they had her at the front of that mob.”

“She’s probably leading them.” I said.

“So the rope around her was so she could pull everyone along with her?” Lizzie said.

“I’m sure she’ll be fine.” I said.

I was not sure at all but it seemed the best thing to say at the time.

“Wilbur!” Lizzie shouted and grabbed his shoulder.

“What?” He demanded.

“We have to go back.” She said.

The car skidded to a halt sending a cloud of dust into the air around us. Wilbur turned around to look at Lizzie. I saw his eyes for just a moment and it was then I became scared. Wilbur does not frighten easily but it was pure fear in his eyes.

“Get out.” Wilbur ordered.

“You wouldn’t dare.” Lizzie said.

“Out.” He said.

“Fine, I’ll be the man since you are too much of a coward.” She said.

Lizzie stood up and began climbing over the door to get out. Wilbur closed his eyes and took a deep breath and then began a fit of coughing on account of the dust. I almost laughed but the dust was bringing tears to my eyes.

“Wait Lizzie.” I said.

“Don’t tell me you are going to help me.” She said.

“That depends on what your idea of help is.”

“We should get the sheriff.” Lizzie said.

“He’s already there.” Wilbur said.


“It’s complicated but there was an incident Sunday and a boy got hurt. The boy is at Carrington Manor and sheriff is with him and that mob is going to get him.” He said.

“They seem to be a little more bloodthirsty than that.” Lizzie said.

“Like I said, it’s complicated. The whole thing boils down to a labor dispute but someone’s been convincing the guys that it’s women like the ones at Primrose that are taking away their jobs and keeping their pay low.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I said.

“People are going to get hurt unless we do something.” Lizzie said.

“I don’t mean to point out the obvious but we aren’t an army here. It might as well be a raging fire and the only thing to do is stay out of its path and wait for it to burn itself out.” Wilbur said.
An idea struck me. I know amazing, but it did.

“Lizzie get back in. Will head for the city. I’ve got a plan.” I ordered.

They both looked at me like I lost my mind. I probably have.

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