Belle by the River
Without her money, her family, her career, or her gifts Belle knew she had one thing that out shined all those trivial matters, and that was her wit. In the hot southern sun men and women toiled, but she and Miss Marie made smarter and less moral choices. They had that luxury, but they did what they could for those who did not. That may not seem very connected to you Yankees, but I can assure you it was. Belle had a way no matter what. She knew how to use what she had even if she had nothing. As Belle walked towards the river’s edge, carrying her umbrella she looked the pinnacle of southern gentry despite her dark skin.
Most white folk kept clear of her outside of Miss Marie’s. It was mostly because they feared her, but they’d never tell you that. Them fearing that tall slight thing with the umbrella? Ha. But it was true, as true as anything else in this story. Belle, in her fancy dress with a parasol in one hand knelt down, put the parasol under her chin then took a handful of river mud and shoved it in a jar she’d been carrying. The fishermen on the banks got chills at the sight. No one understood her magic, but they knew enough.
We all did.