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Excerpt

Yankee Daughters--An Excerpt

 Chapter 22, “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round




As promised, Mr. Jernigan brought the proof copies of his photos out to the house in mid-afternoon. Katerina pinned them to the wall so that everyone could study them. The formal pose showed the nine women lined up like spoons, their left sides to the camera. In a more casual shot, they clustered on the front steps, three sitting in front and the others facing forward behind them. Katerina and Becca were the first to study the results of the photo session.
“I think I hate photographs,” Katerina declared. “Cameras don’t lie, but it would often be better if they did.” 

“The pictures really came out quite well, Kat. You will cherish these for years.”

“No, don’t try to be diplomatic. I’m looking at all of us here and seeing our personalities on display as clearly as if we were wearing big signs around our necks.”

“I admit, I don’t like the formal line-up as well as the other one. I know convention says one should not smile in a photograph, but I’ve never understood why. You wanted these pictures to show that the long months of mourning were over, but everyone still looks too serious.”

“It’s more than looking serious. We all look like we’ve been sucking on lemons. I suppose those sour expressions are the result of my blow-up at Ruby for showing up in that horrible dress. But there are other things wrong with the pictures, too. I deliberately made Fiona and Sally’s dresses shorter, to show that they are the youngest. But captured this way in a photograph, it just looks like they are sprouting so fast that they’ve outgrown their own skirts.”

“They are growing up fast, I give you that. Look at them. They are easily the tallest. I suppose Mr. Jernigan did the arranging deliberately to put the two shortest girls on the ends and the tallest in the middle. But I see what you mean about the skirt lengths.”

“And the facial expressions! Take us one at a time: Martha is a complete blank. She neither knows nor cares what’s going on around her. I, on the other hand, am clearly biting my tongue to keep from screaming at someone. Nora? Nora looks tired. I think she is tired most of the time, and that makes me worry about her health. Then there’s Lillian—the unhappy, confused, browbeaten wife of a miserable prig!”

“Kat! Really!”

“Well, she is. At best she looks stupid. Then there’s Sally, she of the perpetual pout, and Fiona, she who is so smug about her own charms that she sometimes makes me want to slap her. Millie’s the sweetest of the lot, but here, even she appears to be wondering how she ended up in this group. Gloria is serene. I suppose having a rich man in love with you will do that, although I wouldn’t know from experience. And, of course, Ruby, the perennial bone in my craw, doing whatever she can to upset things and then thoroughly enjoying the show.”

“All right. I admit the line-up looks like it could be added to the post office wall, where they show mug shots of miscreants. But the informal grouping is much more pleasant.”

“Only because some of us are laughing at the rest of us. Something else in that picture bothers me, too. Ruby has her head cocked in that smart-alecky way she has of sneering at us. And if you look on the other side, you’ll see that Sally is doing the same thing. Heaven help us if Sally turns out to be as troublesome as Ruby has been!”

“They are still your daughters, Katerina, and I know you love each one of them.”

Ich liebe dich immer. Love them? Yes. I can’t help that. Aber ich weiß nicht immer Sie mögen. But nobody says I have to like them. And this has been a weekend when I really don’t like any of them. Too bad this was the moment I picked to preserve their images.”


Be sure to get your Kindle version of Yankee Daughters while we're offering it for only $0.99 at:



Yankee Reconstructed -- Excerpt

The Flicker of Torches
October, 1867
 
Jonathan breathed deeply as he stared out over the western piazza. He had always loved South Carolina sunsets. Their purple clouds swirled across a background of  gold, followed by curtains of navy blue.  Darkness settled slowly over a city that seemed to be at peace, if only for a few nighttime hours. If he had ever had doubts about the wisdom of bringing his family back to Charleston after the war, they faded away in the soft, scented air. Flowers still bloomed, even in these months of autumn, and the night birds still chirped their sleepy calls. He closed his eyes, holding the memory against whatever challenges the next day might bring. Perhaps that was what made him miss the first flicker of torches from behind him.

“Damnation!”

“Sh-h-h-h!”

“Roses got thorns,” grumbled a scratchy voice.

“Hush!”

The mumbled comments, added to the shuffle of boots, jerked Jonathan from his reverie. Turning from the sunset toward the other end of the piazza, he was almost blinded by blazing torches carried by indistinct figures robed in dark clothing.  He moved toward the door, which was open to catch the night breezes. He had left Susan sitting just inside that door with her tatting, and his first instinct was to protect her from whatever this invasion portended. But he was not quick enough to move back into the house.

“Grenville?”

The challenging voice froze his movements, his hand still on the latch.  He eased the door closer to the frame as he turned to face the group of men now stomping up the gentlemen’s staircase. At the top, they stopped. “You Grenville?” the same voice asked again.

“I’m Jonathan Grenville, yes. What do you want with me?”

The ringleader took a single stop onto the piazza. We don’t want you. We want your nigger.”

“There are no Negroes here.”

“Yes? So you say. That’s not what  we heard.”

“Who are you? Why do you come in darkness with faces covered? I am an  honest man, and I expect others to be honest as well. Identify yourselves and we can talk.”

“Our disguises are for our own protection. There are those about who would prevent honest Southern gentlemen from doing everything they can to protect their families, their state, and their heritage. We hide our faces until we know that the people with whom we speak are not Scalawags, Carpetbaggers, Yankees, or nigger-lovers. Do you fall into any of those categories, Mr. Grenville?”

Jonathan tried his best not to react to the question. Truth be told, he thought to himself, I probably fit into all four groups. “You are Klansmen, then.”  It was a statement, not a question.

“Ah, you have heard of the noble Ku Klux Klan, I see. Why is a fine, upstanding Southern gentleman like yourself not one of us?”

Jonathan refused to be baited. “I’ve heard of you, but I didn’t know you were active in South Carolina. We’ve never needed your kind of interference to manage our affairs. I repeat. What do you want with me?”

“We’re looking for Hector Gresham. Recognize the name, do you?”

“There’s no one else here, except for my family.We hire a woman to help with the cleaning and the children, but she goes to her own home every evening.”

“We’re not after a maid. We want Hector Gresham. He’s a fugitive from justice, and we hear he might be heading here to seek your protection. You do know him.” It was a statement, not a question.

“Yes, I know Mr. Gresham, but I haven’t seen him in over a year. He has never been a criminal, and he’s certainly not my . . . ‘nigger.’”

“Used to be your slave, didn’t he? That’s what we’ve been told.”

“Long before the war, yes. But I freed him, and he moved his family far south from here to start a new life.”

“Sure. Moved south to cause more trouble, more likely.”

“No, Hector’s not the type to cause trouble. Surely you have the wrong man.”

“Didn’t you own a plantation on Edisto Island?”

“Yes, but—”

“And that’s where he went—to join his father-in-law in stealing your property from you.”

“You’re wrong. His father-in-law, Thomas, purchased a piece of our land  at the end of the war, just as General Sherman’s Field Order 15 provided, and Hector went to help him turn it into a proper farm. They bought the property fairly. You have the story confused.”

“No, you are the one who is behind the times, Grenville. South Carolina no longer recognizes anything that damnable Sherman had to say. General Howard came to Edisto last October, at the order of President Johnson and told the slaves that they had to give their land back to its former owners. In February, agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau arrived to assure the peaceful transfer of land, only to find a bunch of sullen, defiant niggers standing their ground, armed with sticks and hoes. Your fellow Thomas was one of the ringleaders, until federal troops forcibly removed the protesters. Thomas and some of his lot armed themselves and declared they would die before they surrendered their land. So some of them did.”

A chuckle came from somewhere in the darkness. “Served them right, too, those damned niggers.”

Jonathan felt a chill ripple across his back, and although this was a conversation he certainly did not want to have, he could not help but ask. “You say you’re looking for Hector, so he was not one of those involved in that incident?”

“No, but that don’t say much about what’ll happen to him when we catch up with him. He’s made his own brand of trouble.”

Another chuckle responded. “String him up, I say. Ain’t fit to live.”

The ringleader held up a hand to quiet his followers and then turned back to Jonathan. “So you haven’t seen him?”

“No.”

“Well, keep your eyes on the lookout. He’s bound to turn up here sooner or later, and when he does . . .” The statement trailed off but left no doubt as to the threat it proffered. “We’ll be back, Grenville. We’re not through with him . . . or with you.”

Jonathan found that he could not move as he watched this small band of trouble-makers move down the street. They kept to the shadows, and peered furtively into empty yards. And then they turned a corner and were gone. Jonathan felt the terror drain from his body, only to realize that he was trembling and sweating at the same time. I can’t let Susan see me like this, he thought. I must calm down or I will frighten her beyond reason. He drew several deep breaths and tried to stretch his muscles. 

He froze again as another dark figure emerged from the shrubbery and climbed the stairs. This man had no torch, yet he moved sure-footed across the piazza. “You may not be ready to believe this, Mr. Grenville, but I am your friend.” He spoke in falsetto, making his voice unidentifiable.

“Do I know you?”

“You’ve seen me many a time. If you saw my face, you would know me.”

“Then take off that mask and reveal yourself.”

“I cannot do that. I took a solemn oath to keep my identity a secret from all with whom I have Klan dealings. We don’t even know the others in the Klan. That’s for our own protection. We are strangers but we move with a single purpose: to rescue the South from the horrible injustice that has been committed  against her.”

“There was no injustice. The South started the war by seceding, and pursued it long after all hope of victory was lost. The bloodshed of those horrible years must rest on your own shoulders.”

“This is not an argument I want to have with you. I like you. I know you to be a good man. I know how many students have profited from their time in your classroom. But I know more about you than that. You are a Yankee, born, raised, and educated in Massachusetts, of all places.”

“I’ve never denied that.”

“Some would call you a Carpetbagger, although I wouldn’t. Still, you came down here to make your living by teaching our  young men, although, as I recall, you lost your teaching job because you taught them some of your abolitionist views. You hoped to change our attitudes and our business practices to suit yourself. You married a young Southern belle to get your greedy hands on her inherited property.”

“See here! I had no such . . .”

“I know. I wouldn’t say all that, but some will, and those who do will call you Carpetbagger. Others—those who believe that you once made an honest attempt to learn the ways of the South—will label you Scalawag.”

“Which is, according to your definition?”

“A Scalawag is a Southerner who turns agains his own land and traditions. You have to admit that you . . .”

“I have to admit nothing. I am a simple man only trying to live a quiet life here in my wife’s ancestral home. I am not a political creature. I vote as a civic duty but not as an outspoken advocate of one party or another. I do not meddle with such things. Why cannot you leave me alone?”

“Because you do not yet understand the gravity of your position. And as your friend, I want to help you to do that.”
“You have a strange  way of showing friendship.”

“This is the only way I have. But I pray you will listen to me further. The Klansmen who were here tonight also call you a nigger-lover. The story of you freeing your slaves on the night of the Great Fire is well-known. A certain judge who helped draw up the formal emancipation papers for you now moves with us. He will speak against you, if it should ever come to that.”

“Why should it ever come up? I have done nothing wrong, while all of you—you have invaded my property and brought threats against me and my family. You have come under cover of darkness and in disguise. I challenge you once again to stand and reveal yourself if you are so sure of the rightness of your cause.”

“And I have told you that I will not do that. Ever. I may never have another chance to speak to you so freely. I’m risking punishment, as it is. But as I told you, I am your friend, and I would like to see you avoid further difficulty with the Klansmen. I urge you to take this warning to heart. If Hector Gresham comes to you for protection, you must turn him over to the authorities. If you do not, the Klan will come after him with a rope. And then, my friend—and then—they will come after you. Take care!” With the same light-footed step that marked his arrival, he moved down the piazza steps and was lost into the darkness.

Still stunned by this turn of events, Jonathan moved to the door, determined only to reclaim the safety of his home. As he closed the door behind him and dropped the heavy safety bar, he heard Susan’s voice, as if from a far distance.
She stood in the doorway to the dining room, down the hall from the twin parlors that flanked the front door. In the flickering gas light, her eyes were huge, and her hands cupped her cheeks as if to hold herself together. “Jonathan?”

“Everything’s all right, Susan. You don’t need to fret yourself.”

She shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. They’re here.”

“Who’s here? That unruly mob has gone on their way. I’m sorry if you had to hear part of that, but they’re all gone now.”

“No, not them. Him. Hector’s here—and Sarah. They’re below stairs right now. What are we going to do?”


Yankee Reconstructed will feature a 76% price reduction starting July 4 and running until 8:00 AM (PDT) on Saturday, July 8. Get your Kindle copy for only $0.99 at:

Damned Yankee -- Excerpt

The Battle of Port Royal
November 1861
   As the storm lifted, sails began to appear on the horizon. None of the ships headed straight for Edisto Island, but it soon became apparent that they were dropping anchor just outside the entrance to Port Royal Sound. As they lowered their sails, their masts stood like bristles against the sky. Eddie and Jonathan watched with the kind of fascination that keeps people looking at scenes of terror even as they wish they could look away.
   "Port Royal Sound. That's where Hilton Head is, isn't it? And where Peter . . ."
   "Yes, but if you breathe a word of this to your mother or sister, I will tear out your tongue!"
   "I won't. I'm scared enough for all of them. It looks like the navies of the world out there. Maybe that will scare the soldiers in Fort Walker, and they'll give up without a fight."
   "Don't count on that. Soldiers have this thing called honor . . ."
   "Which requires them to shoot back at thousands of cannons?"
   "'Fraid so!"
   "But that would be suicide."
   And so it was. The guns began early the next morning. Although Fort Walker was some twenty-five miles away, the sound carried long across the water. The air shimmered, and the reverberations echoed deep in the breasts of all who listened. The barrage was steady, although most of the fleet that outlined itself against the sky had not moved from the anchorage.
   "How many guns do you think there are?" Eddie asked.
   "I have no idea. But those big warships carry dozens."
   "And how many guns are there at Fort Walker?"
   "Uh . . . Several."
   Eddie fell silent, his eyes big with fear.
   The cannonade continued until well after noon. But if the noise had been terrifying, the silence was worse. The Battle of Port Royal was obviously over, and it was just as obvious that it had been a huge loss for the Confederate forces. Even the slaves moved quietly back to their hoes, realizing that, in the first battle over the South's right to hold slaves, many men had died. There was no rejoicing at a Northern victory, only an empty feeling of remorse at the losses suffered for their sake.

* * *
   Back in Charleston, a different sort of regret was expressing itself. When word came of the imminent arrival of the Northern fleet, Governor Pickens called for a new round of volunteers to protect his state. The message went out to the College Cadets in Columbia. The governor informed that ill-trained band that all able-bodied students were being called up. He had arranged transport for them and would have weapons waiting when they arrived in Charleston. If they were still minors, the law said they were required to have their parents' permission, but the governor waived even that requirement. It would be enough, he promised, if they could get the permission of one of the college staff, who stood in loco parentis, or if they would sign a paper saying that they believed their parents would give permission.
   Of course, Johnny Grenville, Alex Croft, and John Calhoun were among the raw recruits who rode a hastily assembled train back to Charleston. They reported their arrival to the governor, but, by the time they were able to do so, the Battle of Port Royal was over. Once again, as in April, there was no role for them. Slightly embarrassed, Pickens sent them off with tents to camp at the Washington Race Course north of the city. They were to serve as his personal bodyguards, should he feel the need for such a guard.
   The cadets complained, as soldiers always do, that their tents were too small and their commissary rations barely edible. But the truth was that they were comfortably situated. They sent out scouting parties each morning to buy food from the markets and spent their days lounging, gambling, and chatting with the young women who were drawn to the camp like flies.
   They also took turns visiting their homes in the city. Johnny appeared at the Logan Street house one afternoon wearing his dress cadet uniform and strutting like the soldier he really wanted to be. Susan wept in his arms, and Charlotte eased herself down the stairs to pummel her brother with questions about what he had heard of the battle. Fortunately, he had heard little or nothing.
   While the reunited family chatted and filled each other in on the changes in their lives, someone knocked at the front door. Sarah hurried to answer it but first peered out of the sidelight to see who it might be. Instead of opening the door, she turned to the assembled group in the parlor, her eyes wide. "It be sum soljer mens," she said.
   "They're probably looking for me. Maybe the general has finally found something for us to do." Johnny jumped to his feet and threw open the door with a smile on his face. His smile faded as he realized he didn't know them. "May I help you?"
   "We're looking for a Mrs. Rogers. We have a message for her."
   "I'm sorry. There's no Mrs. Rogers here. You must have the wrong—"
   "John! That's me!" Charlotte was struggling to get up from the settee. "Maybe Peter sent me a letter." She, too, approached the door with a smile on her face—a smile that faded as she saw the expressions of the messengers.
   "Ma'am? Are you Mrs. Peter Rogers?"
   "Yes. Yes. Where is his letter? Is that it?"
   "Ma'am.  We're sorry to inform you that your husband was a brave and dedicated soldier, who died while doing his duty and serving his country. This letter from his commander will tell you the details of his final moments. Our deepest regrets, Ma'am."
   The speech was well-rehearsed and delivered with all dignity, but Charlotte did not hear it. She had already slumped toward the floor.

South Carolina's Post-Civil War Constitution

This is particularly for those of you who are following the up-coming South Carolina primaries.  This excerpt from "Yankee Reconstructed" comes from Chapter 16.  In it Jonathan Grenville has just returned home from hearing the reading of the newly adopted South Carolina state constitution on April 18, 1868. He is describing the major provisions to his wife, Susan:

   "The new constitution completely supports the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It establishes three branches of government for both the state and local political organizations. It provides universal male suffrage — and don’t wrinkle your nose at me. You know how big a concession that is. It’s much more important to give blacks the vote than to let women have their say right now.”
   “So say you from your side of the house!”
   “I won’t argue that point with you. I’m much too excited by the rest of the provisions — equality regardless of race, both in matters of privilege and of punishments, welfare for the poor and disabled, state-run orphanages and mental hospitals, but no more debtors’ prisons, and no more property qualifications to hold office.” 
   Jonathan leaped to his feet, as if the chair were suddenly too small to hold him and his enthusiasm. “But the best part, Susan, the best part is the provision for state-supported education! Benjamin Randolph really did it! There will be boards of education at both state and local levels, and every local district will be required to provide at least one free school open to all students, black and white.” 
   “Paid for by . . . ?”
   “Both a property tax and a poll tax.”
   “A poll tax? Won’t that disenfranchise a whole lot of people, particularly ex-slaves?”
   “No. It’s a tax on each individual, but the law specifically says that no man can lose his right to vote if he cannot or does not pay the poll tax. And it goes even further. Each state-supported school is required to stay open for six months of every year, and all children between the ages of six and sixteen are required to complete 24 months of instruction. Oh, and there’s no separation of races, either. Every school must be open to all, regardless of skin color. And the provisions disallow any religious control or doctrinal instruction, too. So much for the missionaries who have taken over some of the schools, like the one Dr. Porter financed for black children. Just imagine what that means.” 
   “It sounds like a much-needed change, Jonathan. But how will there be enough teachers for all those schools?"
   “They’ll be in short supply for a while, but this new constitution even provides for that. It calls for a state supported university within five years, along with an agricultural college and a normal school for teachers. It’s one of the most forward-thinking documents I’ve ever heard of.”

Unfortunately, Jonathan's optimism was short-lived.  He spent ten years helping to organize and develop schools that served the needs of black children in Charleston.  But by 1878, white supremacists had managed to gain control of South Carolina's government:

  " In South Carolina, both parties claimed to have won the race for the governorship. Hampton showed a winning margin of about 1100 votes across the state, but Republicans argued that the black vote had been suppressed by the illegal activities of the Red Shirts, particularly in the Upcountry. For nearly six months, Governor Chamberlain refused to vacate the governor’s office, and could not be forcibly removed because of a twenty-four-hour-a-day guard posted by federal troops. When President Hayes completed the withdrawal of all federal troops in 1877, Chamberlain fled the state, leaving South Carolina in the clever hands of Wade Hampton, who had, indeed, “waded to victory,” just as one of his campaign slogans had promised.
   “That’s it.” Jonathan proclaimed. “Ten years of work destroyed. Thousands of blacks disenfranchised. Madmen in charge of the insane asylum.”
   “What will you do?” Susan asked.
   “Hampton has promised to support public education, not that I believe him, and he can’t break that promise immediately. Besides, our schools are already open. We’ve paid the leases for our buildings and our supplies and books are in stock. Most of our teachers are funded by private corporations. We should be fine for the rest of this year. But after that? No one knows. I fear that public schools for Negroes will have disappeared before the next election.”