The Book of Negroes (2015) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

Previously on The Book of Negroes No more travelling so far to bring babies into the world.
It's not safe.
Papa! Mama! - I'm Chekura.
- Are you my captor - or my brother? - Aminata, you must live.
One day, I will go back home across the big river.
- Do I hear nine pounds? - Five pounds sterling.
Sold! Why that man insists on buying these wild folk straight off the boat is beyond me.
You'll be safe here, baby.
Just you, Georgia.
Meena stays.
No.
She goes with me.
Hurry back.
He almost saw that reading book I gave you.
I ain't never seen an African learn as fast as you, but you better not never let no buckra see how fast your head work.
Take you down to the river, drown and kill you.
I ain't killable.
Well, you sure was half dead when I scooped you up from that yard.
I'm sure is glad you livin' now, but don't you never be alone with that buckra, you hear me? When I told Georgia about Chekura, she said that the fishnet would pull him up.
The words of Negroes swim the rivers all the way from Savannah to Charles Town.
If you sent out word for a person, sooner or later an answer would come back in the fishnet.
- Sixth season coming again.
- When smallpox came, it wasn't just babies who died.
Buckra feared the vapors in the low country in the hottest half of the year, - called the sixth season.
- Look, I'm trying to make you sick so you don't die.
I'mma fix you just like you were my own kin.
I took it from a man I made sick in the same way.
Chekura Chekura Chekura! You gotta do it, girl.
- A few pockmarks, but none on your face.
- That's a relief.
Pockmarks on your face's a good thing.
- Why is that? - You need something to ugly you up.
You're like a flower now, and that ain't good.
Piss ain't even mine, but belongs to Master Appleby.
One day, I'mma give him some shit to go along with it.
Do you know that Master Appleby owns your dreams, too? - Ain't that right, Aminata? - He don't own my dreams.
He don't own a thing about me.
Girl, you know we love you, but you gotta let go of that Africa thing.
This your home now, we's all you got.
Are you done? You fill a good bucket, but I've got more than piss to carry.
Indigo dye was in a fine powder on the stems of the leaves.
We soaked the leaves in a series of vats, in a solution of water and a catalyst such as pee.
The dye was in the mud that set along the bottom of the vats.
Appleby's coming with a white man with a funny hat - on his head.
- Alright, hush now, y'all be still.
This here is Mr.
Solomon Lindo.
A Jew, among other things.
Now, he has come all the way from London to grade my indigo, and Mr.
Lindo might have some questions for you all, so don't be shy to speak up.
Thank you.
Miss? How many inches of sludge are in the bottom of this vat? About three inches.
And what are you doing? Beating the water so the air moves through it.
Through it? Through it.
Mr.
Appleby, you have good people.
Now, Meena here, she's only been here a few years but she's already perfectly sensible.
I mean, she makes soap, she doctors the pregnant slave women, she handles the indigo competently.
She was wasting away when I bought her.
Got her for a steal.
We could certainly use a woman like Aminata in Charles Town to deliver babies.
The doctor in town is horrendous.
How much would you sell her for? She's not for sale.
Alright, Solomon, you and I have some business to attend to.
Ladies.
Meena, why don't you entertain Mrs.
Lindo? My husband mentioned he met a very bright young woman this afternoon.
Said you spoke the King's English.
I've watched you all night, Meena.
You observe everything.
Nothing escapes your inquisitive gaze.
I have a question for you.
You can trust me.
Yes.
I can read.
I think that that's a fair price and I'll hold you to that.
Meena, you are pure African, right? Why don't you do some of that African talk for the Lindos? Hm? Go on.
Very good.
- Very good.
- Mr.
Appleby, that lamb was so tender.
Thank you.
- Good evening.
- That was good lamb.
It was.
Meena? You're turning into a fine little wench, aren't you? Come here.
Come here.
Come on.
Come.
Ahh I could set you up in a room in the house.
Would you like that? Be much nicer than that hut you share with Georgia.
- Come on, Meena.
- I told you, stay in the kitchen! Come on.
I'm almost finished in this kitchen.
This big mouth African walks in, says his name was Chekura.
Chekura? - Where did he go? - Said your name over and over.
But where did he go? Into the woods behind the cabin.
Chekura? Chekura? Chekura! Aminata.
Aminata Diallo.
I knew you were alive and well somewhere.
I put your name in the fishnet so many times, but nothing came back.
Where are you living? Oh! What have you seen? Two moons ago, my old master sold me near Savannah, to a plantation on St.
Helena Island.
I put out the word for you in the fishnet.
I heard word about a baby-catching girl from Africa who could speak every language going.
Have you seen Sanu and her child? No.
- I have something for you.
- For me? Put it on.
You do it.
Okay.
Okay.
You look beautiful in it.
Thank you.
I have to get back before they know I'm gone.
When can you come back? At the next moon.
Chekura Aminata.
Aminata.
Master wants to see you.
You wanted to see me, Master? Come on in, Meena.
You can come a little bit closer, girl.
Come here.
Come.
Who's that boy that's been sniffing around here? Hmm? No boy, Master.
Hm! I treat you special, don't I? Different than all the others? I don't want nothing special.
Who owns you, hmm? I said: who owns you? Come here.
Meena? Meena, come here.
- No - No.
Shh! Be a good girl, hmm? Be a good girl.
Go, girl.
Go, go, go.
Aminata? Come, now.
Come on.
Come on, come on, come on.
You're gonna be okay.
You're gonna be okay.
It's okay.
Okay, okay.
Okay, okay, okay.
It's alright, it's alright.
It's alright.
I'mma clean that man's filth right out of you.
- Chekura - Men don't need to know everything.
Sometimes they don't need to know nothing at all.
Now drink this up.
May I come in? My husband is here to grade the indigo.
Happy Jack mentioned you were ill.
Doing alright.
I have something for you, Meena.
It's a story about a man called Lemuel Gulliver and his travels to all these strange and different lands.
Thank you.
I'll be back to check on you soon, Meena.
As Georgia helped me heal from what Robinson Appleby had done to me, I came to see that there was no good way to deal with that man.
The only way would be to leave him.
Books offered me solace, but they offered much more than that.
Only by learning about the white man could I ever escape and find a way back home.
I love when you say my name.
Well, then come closer and I will say it again.
How would you like for me to say it? Uh Bamanankan, Fulfulde, Gullah, English? Star Appleby didn't let his Negroes marry.
Some jumped the broom secretly and others just lived together or visited at night.
I had no doubt what my parents would wish, and I told Chekura that I wanted to be married.
Meena? Come on outside.
Meena, who's the father, hmm? Meena? Come.
Happy Jack, Georgia, you gather everybody up in front of the big house.
Jack, you hurry on ahead, you get my shaving blade, scissors and a mirror.
Georgia, you gather up Meena's clothes.
I told y'all to run, you gather up! You gather Don't you move, child! Now, you're gonna get on your knees, Meena.
You're gonna get on your knees for me - and you're gonna soak your head.
- No.
- Lean over the barrel! - No! You're gonna do what I say - and you're gonna do it now! - No! Or I clean out that hut and I throw it all in the fire! Everything of yours and everything of Georgia's too! Her clothes, her pouches, her gourds! Everything in the fire, you hear me? You do as I say, child.
Sit that down, Jack! Sit down now! Your boy get up on behind you like this, huh? Oh, this is just this is just wool! You say you say: "I got wool on my head, not hair".
Say it for me, Meena.
Got wool.
Not hair.
It's just wool, and ain't even yours, ever, if I say it ain't.
Okay here.
See, we've got wool, Meena.
We've got wool.
You move your head, Meena, and I will bleed your scalp.
You like the way I touch you, Meena? You like the way I touch you? Here you go, take a look.
Look at us, isn't that nice? they both belong to me.
Alright, alright.
Think of that man of yours.
Now push.
Girl! It's a girl! He knows, child.
He know who the daddy is, who the daddy may be, and who the daddy ain't.
My dangerous wife.
Dangerous for you to come back so long after your daughter was born.
Ah, you're counting the days! So you love me after all.
Look behind you.
Ahh Sorry I took so long.
What is this now? Hmm? Lice got in it, I had to cut it.
Lice, huh? Hair or no hair, you are still the most handsome woman in Carolina.
Only in Carolina? What did you name our daughter? Foolish man.
I was waiting for you.
But I want to call her - May.
- May? May.
May it is.
Come and see your daughter as much as you can.
But don't get caught.
And don't get hurt.
May! May! May! May! May! No! May!! May! No!! No! May!! - May! - She only fetched five pounds.
May!! I wasn't gonna let you die when I scooped you up, skin and bones, out of that yard, and I'm sure enough not gonna let you die now.
- I want to die, Georgia.
- I'm not gonna let that dog of a man kill you.
Get up.
Get.
Up.
Get up now.
I sold you to the Jew.
Come on.
Come on.
Keep your head up, girl.
You ain't killable.
Do you have other slaves? No.
My wife and I prefer the term 'servant'.
And you don't have to be afraid to speak properly.
You want me to talk like you? Talk like white folks? English.
And I'm not white.
I'm Jewish, and that is very different.
You and I are both outsiders.
Meena, welcome to our home.
Your home is peaceful.
I'm so glad you're here to help me have the baby.
Don't worry, you'll be fine.
Are you in need of anything? Another blanket, a larger washbasin? Mr.
Appleby sold my daughter.
I need to find her.
Do you know where she is? - I have no idea.
- Would Mr.
Lindo? My husband would not appreciate questions about his business.
It's not business.
It's my daughter.
I'll see what I can find out.
Meena, do you like working as a servant in the household? I like it fine, Mr.
Lindo.
Good.
You'll work with me here in the mornings.
I'm going to teach you how to keep my accounts, my books.
You're intelligent.
I want to lift you up.
Do you have religion, Meena? My father was studying Allah and I was learning from him.
So you're a Muslim, and I a Jew.
We're not that far apart.
Our religions come from similar books.
In my faith, it's considered a good thing to help someone become independent.
That will be all, thank you.
Aminata.
I know where we can go to inquire about your baby.
Where? Where? Where? William King.
He's the biggest slave trader in Charles Town.
He may know something about your baby.
- You wait here, I won't be a minute.
- No, no, Mrs.
Lindo, I want to go with you.
Alright, come.
To the gentleman in the purple coat.
Eight.
Eight.
It was the first time I had seen men and women at auction in Charles Town.
There was nothing I could do to stop it.
Good afternoon, Mr.
King.
Mrs.
Lindo? I was just passing by and I saw you and it occurred to me that I haven't seen your Josephine at our monthly book reading.
- I was wondering if she's well.
- My wife is fine, Mrs.
Lindo.
She's away in Georgia visiting her family.
- Good day to you, Mrs.
Lindo.
- Mr.
King, do you have a moment for a quick query? What is it, Mrs.
Lindo? You know Mr.
Robinson Appleby.
My husband does business with him quite frequently.
Well, Mr.
Appleby made the sale of an infant some time ago.
I was wondering if you've heard or know - where the child may have been sold.
- Does your husband know you're here, Mrs.
Lindo? Yes, indeed.
We'd heard the child had quite a calm disposition.
My husband and I are looking for a playmate for when my own child comes.
I heard of Mr.
Appleby selling a baby to Mr.
Frederick Scott, cotton grower.
He grew up on Hilton Head Island.
- Just in passing, mind you.
- Thank you, Mr.
King.
Good day to you, Mrs.
Lindo.
- I have to get to Hilton Head Island.
- We will, together.
Mr.
Lindo cannot know.
This is the Scott plantation.
I will talk to the lady of the house.
No.
I will know if it's my May.
- Afternoon.
- Stay in the yard.
- What do you want? - My missus - Mrs.
Lindo and me, we were - Lindo? What would a Jew and a Negro wench be doing on Hilton Head Island? Lost.
We done took a wrong turn.
We be looking for Morgan Street.
Morgan Trail's nowhere near here.
It's ten miles back.
My missus, she be with child.
- Would that be your child? - What business - is that of yours? - My mistress done buy the baby for a plantation on Lady Island.
Gonna go change the baby.
I told you to stay in the yard.
Matthew, get this nigger off the veranda.
Just where do you think you're going? Get back here! Get out of my house! Get out.
I'm so sorry, Aminata.
- That's your mama, yes.
- It's a boy.
Hello.
In the fall of 1774, after Mrs.
Lindo's baby was born, a smallpox epidemic took the life of some two hundred people in Charles Town.
The disease kept people in a constant state of fear.
Who's there? It's your husband.
How did you find me? Through the fishnet.
I asked for the home of Lindo, the indigo inspector.
- How long can you stay? - Just one night.
But I might be able to come back in a month or two.
I have missed you so much it hurts, but you cannot crawl back into my bed with the promise that you will come back in a month or two.
It is not easy to get free, even for a night.
- I married the man I love.
- And the man you married loves you.
Do you blame me for losing May? Do you blame me for taking you to the sea? There were times I wanted you so much, my body screamed.
When I was missing you, my wife I would wait for the thinnest sliver of the crescent moon to come out at night Who is this man? This is my husband, Chekura.
He crossed the ocean with me from my home land.
I will not tolerate trespassing.
He must leave at once.
- He's my husband.
- He will leave now or there will be serious trouble.
I am no runaway.
I just came to see my wife.
But I will leave as you ask.
Do not set foot on my property again.
Solomon told me about the monthly visits of your husband.
I made him promise me to leave you in peace with your husband.
Chekura is a good man, Mrs.
Lindo.
So is my Solomon.
He's done some things he regrets, but he has a good heart.
I'm sorry I couldn't help you find out where your baby was sold.
Oh Losing Mrs.
Lindo was painful.
I had trusted Mrs.
Lindo more than any other white person.
But I was not allowed to attend the shivah or speak to any visitors about how much I had loved her.
I'm sailing to New York City.
Someone must convince the British to increase the bounty paid for indigo.
I want you to come with me.
I miss her too, Mr.
Lindo.
Good night.
Good night.
Our baby was sold in Savannah, Georgia.
How do you know? Different folks through the fishnet.
Lindo helped Appleby sell our May to a family in Savannah.
- Is she alive? Is our baby alive? - I don't know.
- There's pox all over Georgia.
- What family? I don't know, but Lindo set up the sale.
How do you know it was him? The family had a slave wet nurse in the house.
When our baby arrived, the wet nurse sent out word through the fishnet.
She said that Lindo, the indigo inspector, was with the family when the baby arrived.
He was paid a fee.
What are you doing here? Have you been going through my papers? Aminata, I expect an answer when I speak.
I don't owe you anything.
I keep you clothed, I keep you fed.
You live better than any other servant.
You're not to leave the house unless it is for work at the right time.
So will you now start calling me slave instead of servant? You will cook and you will clean and you'll do as I say! I will not.
You sold my daughter.
Robinson Appleby sold your baby.
You helped him, and you were paid to do it.
You sold my daughter to a family in Savannah, Georgia.
Who told you this? And you call yourself a Hebrew? I gave your daughter a better life.
I gave you a better life.
Would you rather she spent her life with Appleby raping her? I gave her a chance at a good life, with a good family.
She was to be raised in the house, not out in the field like some nigger.
Is May alive? She's dead.
The pox got her, just as it took my wife and my son.
I know I had a daughter.
And this this says you sold her.