William Buckley had a secret. He gave a rifl e to Jessie, one of his daddy’s slaves. He knew his daddy
would defi antly not approve. Slaves were not allowed to read or write in that part of North Carolina,
much less own a gun. Everybody on the farm knew that Jessie had a gun, and knew that William
Buckley gave it to him. They thought nothing about it. Old man Buckley has been bed ridden for
the last six months and it was unlikely that he would ever get out of his room again. William Buckley
knew his secret was safe. Old man Buckley passed away six months later without ever knowing his
son gave a gun to a slave. He left William twelve hundred acres of prime farm land six miles from
Durham Station and eleven slaves. William Buckley had just turned thirty four. Two days after
the funnel, William Buckley and Jessie hitched up the buggy and went into town and had papers
drawn up making Jessie a free man. He also gave Jessie ten acres near the river. They had been
fi shing and hunting buddies for years and Jessie thought he knew William better than any man
on earth, yet it was a complete surprise to him. On the way home William asked Jessie if he would
stay on and run the farm. “Albert thinks he runs the farm, but I know who gets the work done.” Mr.
Barkley had said. Albert, William Barkley’s oldest son wasn’t altogether there, and Barkley knew
that Albert, would mistreat the slaves, if it wasn’t for Jessie. Everybody knew that Jessie and Mr.
Barkley were close. Jessie had a son Buck, and a daughter Mindy. They played with Jeff , William
Buckley, youngest boy practically everyday. Jeff was the only one that felt the way his father did.
Buck and Mindy also had a secret. Mr. Barkley let them work over at Mr. Bradshaw’s for a few days,
and they took a short cut through the woods on the way home. They saw something that was so
horrible that Mindy, who just turn fourteen, just shut it out of her mind, and refused to talk about
it. Buck takes the secret with him when he runs off to go into the union army, where he fi nds Jeff
on the battlefield wounded. They come home together, but the secret from ten years earlier almost
gets Buck killed.