Angels Watching Over Me (Shenandoah Sisters Book #1)by Michael Phillips
Two girls, brought together amid the turmoil of the Civil War, are forced to break down prejudices to survive. Shenandoah Sisters Book 1.See more details below
Two girls, brought together amid the turmoil of the Civil War, are forced to break down prejudices to survive. Shenandoah Sisters Book 1.
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A Visit to Town
The sun dawned just as it had many times before during Kathleen Clairborne’s young life.
She rolled over in bed to see its light slanting through her window. She gave a sleepy sigh of pleasure. It was Monday and no more rain was in sight. They would be able to go into town. Her mother had promised her a new dress for her birthday, but Katie had been afraid more rain might cancel the outing. Greens Crossing was six miles away. It was not a trip her mother made often, especially if the road was muddy.
There was not anything unusual about this particular day. The sun had beamed into Katie’s window on countless mornings just like it. Yet this would not be like any of those other days.
Katie would look back on this as the day when, for her, everything began to change.
Greens Crossing was not a large town. A handful of stores, a livery stable, a school, a church, a bank, a general store and post office, and one saloon clustered together at the intersection of two roads. We lived a little closer to town than she did, but I’d never set foot in it in my life.
Though the Clairbornes’ Rosewood was not the largest plantation of the region, they were known by most of the citizens of Greens Crossing. Richard Clairborne, Katie’s father, was a hard worker, fair to his slaves, faithful to his family, but a man who kept mostly to himself. He didn’t have close friends in town. His three sons were like him in that way. Neither they nor Katie attended the Greens Crossing school. The Clairbornes weren’t seen at church except for occasional special circumstances. Six miles is a fair piece by horse and buggy.
Once or twice a year, Mrs. Clairborne rode the even more daunting nineteen miles into Charlotte. That’s where she bought her own clothes and Katie’s and did most of the family’s shopping. But Katie had grown two inches over the winter, and the dressmaker in Greens Crossing was as skilled as any in the city. Since it would not be until later in the summer that she and her husband would be taking a wagon into Charlotte again, the buggy would carry them into Greens Crossing today.
Katie and her mother left the dressmaker’s an hour after arriving in town and stepped from the wooden sidewalk to cross the dirt street.
"Hello, Rosalind," a woman’s voice called out behind them.
Mrs. Clairborne paused and turned toward the general store owner’s wife, who had spoken to her. Katie continued into the street, still thinking of the soft, pretty fabric they had picked out and the bright yellow hat they had ordered to go with the new dress. She didn’t notice her mother stopping to chat with Mrs. Hammond. Neither did she see two riders suddenly gallop recklessly around the saloon at the corner.
A tumult of shouts and whinnies suddenly filled the air.
"Get outta the way, you—!"
Mrs. Clairborne swiftly turned toward the ruckus.
"Katie ... watch out!" she cried as she ran frantically toward the street.
Suddenly a man’s heavy step ran past Mrs. Clairborne. The next instant Katie was thrown to the ground. A second later the riders thundered by.
The tall, lanky Negro picked himself up off the ground beside the frightened girl. He stooped down, took her hand, and pulled Katie to her feet.
"Yo needs be a mite mo careful crossin’ da street, Miss Kat’leen," he said, brushing the dirt from his trousers and shirt. "Dem two soldiers mighta run right ober da top er you."
Mrs. Clairborne rushed toward them.
"Oh, Henry, I can’t thank you enough!" she exclaimed to the black man who worked in the livery stable. "Katie, are you all right?" she said, taking Katie’s hand. Still too stunned to speak, Katie nodded.
"Dern blamed soldiers," muttered Henry, who had bought his own freedom some years before, "dey been raisin’ a ruckus roun’ ’bout fo days now. Ah doan know what’s goin’ on. De’re all ridin’ down t’ Charleston. Somethin’s up fo sho—I been hearin’ talk ’bout an army gatherin’. Yor husband joinin’, ma’am?"
"I don’t know, Henry," sighed Mrs. Clairborne. "I really don’t know."
As they talked, Katie gazed up into the face of the tall man. The shine in his eyes and the gleam of his perfect teeth drew her gaze into his earnest countenance. An uncommon sensation of gratitude welled up within the heart of the young white girl for the Negro man who had run in front of racing horses’ hooves to keep her from being trampled.
Mrs. Clairborne’s voice intruded abruptly into Katie’s reflections.
"Kathleen, sometimes I wonder if there’s a brain in that head of yours," she said, pulling on Katie’s hand as they walked away. "What gets into you to wander into the street like that?"
"Ah wouldn’t be too hard on da chil’, ma’am," said Henry from behind them.
"I’m grateful for what you’ve done, Henry," rejoined Mrs. Clairborne, turning back toward the stable hand, "but now you must really mind your own business. The child is careless and scatterbrained. She needs to watch where she is going."
"Yes’m," said the black man. He tipped his hat to mother and daughter, then ambled back in the direction of the livery.
Angels Watching Over Me (SHENANDOAH SISTERS, Book 1)by Michael Phillips
Copyright © 2002, Michael Phillips
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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