read the Master’s books and newspapers. She was determined to put her knowledge to good use and had set up an illegal school, for both adults and children on the Plantation. Belle also took great risks in illegally meeting with slaves from other estates who she encouraged to do likewise. Charles was fearful for what would happen if his wife was caught but unfailingly supported her actions. Immediately after Belle’s father had been lynched, Cobb, fearing revenge, had sold her hotheaded brother Sam to a neighbouring estate. Without such a strict regime, Sam had become part of a slave network that spread word of the abolition movement in the north. Sam and Belle used to meet in secret. Sam had news of John Brown’s failed uprising at Harper’s Ferry. Although Brown had failed and been sentenced to death, Sam felt that it was the beginning of the end for slavery. Although still only 18, Sam had turned into a natural leader, but an angry and aggressive one. He was talking of uniting all of the slaves in Claiborne County to rise up against the whites. A worried Belle urged caution. What she does not tell her brother is that Cobb has now started having sex with their younger sister.
30:Upper Fort Garry. January 1860
The Metis have never had a formal leadership structure. Each group has its own Council of Elders that holds court and makes decisions when needed. Three men however were becoming increasingly influential. Bishop Desjarlais, Jean-Paul, who has made a reputation for himself by negotiating trade links outside of the Hudson Bay stranglehold, and the militant Dolphis Nault. Now in his 30s, Nault was infamous for his feat as a young man when he single-handedly fought off a Chippewa raiding party that had attacked his family. He was a formidable man, known to be violent, but also well read and intelligent. Bishop Desjarlais, realising that Nault’s influence was engendering a more militant attitude from many Metis, had invited him and Jean-Paul to meet. All three men agreed that it was only a matter of time before a railroad connected the mid-west prairie to the eastern cities. As more settlers arrived it was inevitable that the Metis people would lose more of their lands. Nault wanted to establish a Metis homeland, by force if necessary. Jean-Paul, by no means a pacifist, shared the objective but could not see how it could realistically be achieved. He