Weeks of voyaging the Mediterranean and finally arriving the shores of Akwa Akpa, a town situated to the southern region of West Africa, meant that home wasn’t afar off. The humid air, the lushness of the forest lining both sides of the road on which they rode, the warmth of the sun reminded her of home. How she had looked forward to this day and had dreamt night and day.

Henry like herself, seemed to be captured by the moment. She glanced at him and was grateful that he had come with her. It had been weeks since he proposed marriage to her and they had since laughed and prayed and talked together, making the burden of her assignment easier. She winked at him, and gave a sheepish smile. “Thank you for coming.”

Amala and ewedu would a better way to say thanks.” He titled his head one way and grinned, his cheeks morphed into perfect meatballs.

Rhoda jerked her head and laughed. She was grateful for the joy of the moment, but fear still lurked around her heart. What if something went wrong?

Badagry felt surreal. The town looked much the same as only little development had taken place. Dropping off the horse that had brought them, Rhoda hurried down the path that led to her home, Henry following. Recognizing Moremi, a younger stepsister, she stopped before her. Moremi’s face scrupled in confusion and then realization. She hinged her hands beside her heavy middle. “Remilekun?”

Emi ni.” Without much effort, Yoruba, the language of her birth and heart, escaped Rhoda’s lips. She asked about her mother and was led down a winding path, across the town’s square, far from where she remembered. “Did something to her? Why is she not with her hut?” Rhoda asked in Yoruba, concerns overwhelming her.

“Not at all.”

They arrived at the hut and Rhoda called to her mother seated by a fireplace. The years had made her caramel skin, once smoother than honey, now wrinkled with deep lines. She was beautiful nevertheless. “Mama,” Not Rhoda’s countless dreams of this day prepared her for the moment. She knelt by her mother and wept deep tears of both sorrow of the years gone by and joy of prayers answered. Questions as well apologies for the past also overflowed.

“I am sorry for all that Akeem did to you.” Mama said, cleaning her wet eyes with an embroidered cloth tied about her chest. “I only learnt of your capture after you were sold. It is why I left him.”

“Oh, Mama,” Rhoda shut her eyes, unable to contain the pain that Akeem had caused them. Ah, Lord, you ask that I forgive him as you forgave me. It was hard to let go, hard to forgive. “Akeem is partly the reason I came.”

Mama threw a hand over her head, an expression that implied that she thought Akeem a curse. “It is what God would have me do.” Rhoda knew that Mama was not a Christian, but she decided to not burden Mama with an explanation on how she came to know the Lord now and decided to rather give her a gown she had brought for her. “I am a seamstress in England.”

“You don’t mean it.” Mama grinned with pride as Rhoda helped her into the ball gown and took note of places needing fitting.

Meeting Akeem bedridden and unable to care for himself, left Rhoda startled. Did the Lord know Akeem would need to be saved because he neared his grave? “How long has he been in this condition?” Rhoda asked the servant that tended Akeem.

“Three months now. Slumped at a town meeting.” Rhoda looked to Henry who stood by her. She took a step towards Akeem and called him, awakening him.

Frail, he struggled to recall her face but started to whimper as soon as Rhoda introduced herself.

“Don’t weep. I forgive you as God has already forgiven you.” She placed a hand over his, placating him. Tears welled up within, but she restrained herself. She had to tell him about the threat to his life though at the moment, it seemed his ailment would take him before Mr. Hammond and his friend did. “It appears some of your business partners feel cheated on a deal.” She recalled all she had heard at the tea party.

“Oh,” Akeem coughed hard. “Hammond,” He confessed about his greed and how he had promised to cease the business. “But Hammond is also a greedy slug. Thought he could outsmart an old tortoise like me.”

Rhoda found Akeem’s metaphors amusing. Only she wondered if a tortoise was any better than a slug. 

 “Ask if he has some evidence of transaction. That would help at the constable.” Henry reminded.

Rhoda relayed the question to Akeem and following Akeem’s instruction, searched a bedside drawer for receipts. Akeem explained that with the aid of an interpreter, he had gotten the quotation read and signed. Rhoda showed the receipts to Henry who confirmed that the company named on the receipt was Mr. Hammond’s.

Praying for Akeem, Rhoda led him to the Lord. After returning to England, she and Henry would use the information gathered to tackle the attack from Mr. Hammond and his ally. But before that would happen, Rhoda was grateful for how the Lord had answered the deepest prayers even when she was the least faithful. She was grateful also for Henry.


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