Together Is All We Need (Shenandoah Sisters Series #4)by Michael Phillips
Shenandoah Sisters Book 4, the sequel to The Color of Your Skin Ain't the Color of Your Heart. For over a year, Mayme--a former slave--and Katie have lived together on Katie's plantation, hiding the fact that they are orphans of war to avoid being separated. Together they have sheltered others and battled threats of foreclosure, theft, and deadly danger. But now the girls face what seems like the certain end of their scheme. A hard-nosed relative of Katie's father discovers--and exposes--their secret. He claims Rosewood as his own and forces Mayme and the other blacks to leave. Katie decides she must leave as well. Is this the end of their way of life? Will the girls ever be together again?
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Together Is All We Need
By Michael Phillips
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2004 Michael Phillips
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAnother Uncle Comes to Call
* * *
Even if Katie had known about the visitor to Greens Crossing ahead of time, it probably wouldn't have changed anything. What could she have done about it anyway?
As it was, our friend Henry was the first to know. But he was busy in the livery, and his son Jeremiah, who was working for Mr. Watson at the mill, was off making a delivery out of town. There was no way for Henry to get word to us.
The man rode into the livery and dismounted.
"Hey, boy!" he called to Henry, who was probably five or ten years older than he was. "Get over here and give my horses some water and feed."
"Yes'uh," said Henry, ambling over and taking the reins from him.
"The name's Clairborne," said the man, "-Burchard Clairborne. I've got some business at the bank, then I'll be heading out to my brother's place."
Thinking about Katie and me and wishing he could do something, Henry watched the man walk down the street toward the bank, then tended to his horse. Every now and then he glanced toward Watson's Mill in hopes that Jeremiah might get back soon enough to ride out to Rosewood and be there when Katie's uncle arrived.
Meanwhile, at the bank, Burchard Clairborne and Mr. Taylor were continuing a conversation that had begun a couple months earlier at a social gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"I got to thinking mighty hard about what you said in Charlotte," Clairborne said after he was seated and they had exchanged greetings. "So I did me some nosing around. I looked into the army records and what do you suppose I found?"
"I couldn't say, Mr. Clairborne," said Mr. Taylor.
"That my brother and his two sons-the one was killed, but the other two made it through the war-that they were discharged the week after Appomattox."
The banker took in the information with obvious interest.
"That is peculiar," he said. "As I told you, no one has seen him in what must be three years. Though since we spoke in Charlotte, certain other facts have come to light."
"Facts ... what kind of facts?"
"Well, for one thing, the girl, who is the only one I've seen for a year, now says her father did return home and is presently up north somewhere working to help support the plantation."
"Hmm ... I see. And the sons?"
"She made no mention of them," replied Taylor.
"And you still have seen nothing of his wife?"
"Nothing ... only the daughter-Kathleen. As I told you, Mrs. Clairborne sends the girl into town to conduct all their business. And that is another interesting thing," the banker went on. "As I told you, there has been considerable indebtedness to the bank, which has accounted for my own involvement in the affair. We have nearly had to foreclose ... twice. But then two months ago suddenly the girl appeared again-without mother or father or anyone. She walked in with an even more smug expression than usual and plopped down three hundred and fifty dollars on my desk ... in cash."
"Cash! Where could they have come up with that kind of money?"
"I haven't an idea ... although there had been some gold involved earlier."
"Gold-this thing gets more and more interesting all the time," said Clairborne, clearly intrigued by this new information.
"There have admittedly been certain peculiarities to the case. In any event, the three hundred and fifty dollars paid off the loan in full. In fact, the Clairborne account, though obviously I cannot divulge specifics, is in a very healthy condition at present. I will simply tell you it is over two hundred dollars."
"Not much to run a plantation with."
"But considering that a year ago they were five hundred dollars in debt with foreclosure inevitable, there has certainly been a remarkable turnaround."
"And what do you think can account for it?"
"I have no idea. They do hire a few of the local coloreds and managed to get in a decent cotton crop last year, as I understand it. At least it was enough to put their account in the black, as I say, and finance a new planting this spring. But they maintain the most peculiar attitude, shall we say, toward all the changes since the war, taking them a little too far if you ask me."
"What do you mean?"
"There is talk that they allow coloreds into the house ..."
Clairborne raised one eyebrow.
"-and the daughter, young Kathleen, wanted me to open a bank account for one of her darkie girls."
"Whatever for? They know nothing about money."
"I can't imagine her motive."
"What did you do?"
"I opened it, of course. What else could I do? But I only mention it as an example of the kind of thing I am talking about."
"Well, something about it don't smell altogether right to me," said Clairborne. "I got my suspicions, and one of them's that maybe my brother never made it home after the war, whatever the girl says now."
"What are you saying?"
"I ain't rightly sure. But something either waylaid him or happened to him. He might have found another woman, got involved with some kind of criminal activity-you can never tell."
"That wouldn't account for the sons."
"Exactly my thought, which makes me think it's more serious, that he's either laid up bad ... or something worse. Lots a men come back crippled and in bad shape. Maybe they're trying to hide his condition to keep creditors at bay."
"What about the girl's claim that he is working in the North?"
"I don't know. Don't that sound a mite convenient to you? Anyway, that's what I come to find out. After all, I've got to look after my interests. I can't have that sister-in-law of mine thinking that whatever may have belonged to my parents and my brother automatically belongs to her if something did happen."
"What do you plan to do, Mr. Clairborne?"
"First off, I'm going to find out if my brother's there once and for all and what kind of condition he's in if he is. If he ain't dead, then I'm figuring they know where he is. If he's up north, then I intend to go find him and lay my own eyes on him for myself. And if he is dead ... well, then, you and I both know what that means ... by rights that plantation belongs to me. That's why I come to see you-I figure I better know where I stand legally."
"I'm no lawyer, Mr. Clairborne."
"You're likely the closest thing this town has to one."
"Don't you have a lawyer in Charlotte who handles your affairs?"
"Yeah, but I want someone here that's close by. No telling what this thing might lead to, and I don't want no old pinstripe paper pusher sitting behind some fancy city desk twenty miles away."
"I've an acquaintance in Oakwood you might speak with."
"I've heard no complaints from any of the plantation owners he represents."
"What's his name?"
"Sneed ... Leroy Sneed. He's already had a few dealings with Rosewood."
"All right, good ... maybe I'll look him up."
Burchard Clairborne rose. "But first," he added, "I'm going to pay a visit to my brother's wife and find out for sure if she is his wife ... or his widow."
Chapter TwoFathers and Uncles
* * *
What made it awkward for this man to visit his brother's plantation, where I lived with my cousin Kathleen Clairborne, who they'd been talking about, was that right then Katie's other uncle was gone.
This other uncle I'm talking about also happened to be my father. His name was Templeton Daniels. That's how Katie and I got to be cousins, though we didn't know it when we first met. How we happened to be at Rosewood Plantation together like we were, well, that's a long story I'll have to tell you another time!
My name's Mary Ann, or Mayme for short.
It was awkward, like I said a minute ago, because Katie's uncle Templeton, who was my father, was from the other side of the family from the uncle who'd been talking to the banker.
Burchard Clairborne was Katie's father's brother.
Templeton Daniels was Katie's mother's brother, and so he wasn't really related to Richard Clairborne, Katie's father, at all.
I reckon it sounds a mite confusing. I had trouble keeping it all straight myself at first too!
But even though my father, Mr. Daniels, wasn't related to the Clairborne side of the family, he had been living at Rosewood with us for the better part of a year helping us get the plantation on a firm footing again. He'd been learning all about crops and weather and ploughing and animals and cotton and wheat. He'd helped with our second harvest of cotton, which wasn't such a big one because we hadn't been able to plant as much cotton by ourselves as Katie's mama had. He'd gotten blisters on his fingers, and his face and arms had grown tan. I'd even shown him how to milk our cows! And he'd been taking care of us like about the best father and uncle any two girls like Katie and me could have had.
But just last week he'd left on a trip. He'd been with us close to a year and finally had to take care of some things, he said. The new cotton crop was in and starting to come up, and he figured it was a good time to be gone. It was spring of the year 1867.
"But you set your minds at ease," he said to Katie and me, both of us wearing long faces as he got ready to go. "This is the new Templeton Daniels. I'll be back as soon as I can. You will hardly know I'm gone!"
"Do you have to go, Uncle Templeton?" asked Katie for about the eleventh time.
He laughed and kissed her on the forehead.
"You four girls will have a great time without me," he said. "Don't you remember how much fun you had with your scheme before I got here? You fooled the whole town. They still don't know! It will be just like old times!"
"But it was scary too, Uncle Templeton."
"Well, then, why don't you go pay Mrs. Hammond a visit? That will take your mind off the fact that you're alone again."
"I don't know if we could stand her suspicious looks!"
He paused and became serious again.
"I do need to go, Kathleen," he said after a moment. "I am sorry. I may have been a wanderer before, but there are still places where I set down a few roots. There are some things I've got to pick up, a chest of clothes near Baltimore, a saddle I left with your aunt in Philadelphia, odds and ends like that. And I left a few debts behind me too that I need to clear up. No more running, remember? It's time I faced up to those things too. I need to clear off my obligations so that my slate is clean."
"What kind of obligations?" I asked.
A look came into his eyes and I couldn't quite tell what it meant.
"There are a couple people I owe money to that I skipped out on," he said with a sigh after a moment, "and a thing or two a little more serious than that. But I'm going to straighten them all out. It's time my past was clean. And I need to have a talk with Nelda too," he added, "though she probably won't be all that happy to see me. But she deserves to know what happened to Rosalind. They were never very close, but she was her sister."
"When will you be back, Papa?" I asked.
"Two weeks ... three ... four at the most. I promise to hurry."
He saw the look of sadness in both my eyes and Katie's.
"Don't worry," he said. "This is my home now. This is the last time I'll leave. You are my family. Like I told you before, now that I've found you, I don't intend to leave you. In the meantime, I've spoken with Henry. He and Jeremiah will be there if you need something, just like always."
Neither of us wanted to see him go. But we trusted him. He was different now.
And that's how it was that we were alone again, without any grown-ups or men at Rosewood, when Katie's father's brother came to call.
Chapter ThreeA Determined Visitor
* * *
Aleta was the first to spot the rider coming toward Rosewood in the distance.
He wasn't riding fast, so we had plenty of time to get things ready. With my papa-Katie's uncle Templeton-gone, we had decided to go back to what we used to do to make people think there were more people around than there really were. By the time the rider came past the outbuildings and into sight of the back door of the house, we had smoke rising from a preset fire I'd just lit in one of the slave cabins, along with the smoke from the kitchen fire that was already going. Ten-year-old Aleta had run outside and quickly got to pounding on the anvil in the blacksmith's shop. And Emma and her nearly two-year-old little boy, William, hurried upstairs out of sight.
Katie had begun busying herself with supper preparations, and so she kept working in the kitchen.
As the man rode up, I was walking back from the slave cabins trying to look like a "hired darkie"-which some folks called us coloreds who had been set free after the war between the North and the South. That wasn't the worse thing they called us either.
We were a little family, the five of us living at the plantation called Rosewood. We were two white girls-Katie and Aleta-and three of us who were black-Emma and William and me. Actually, William and I were half black and half white, though that still makes a person colored in most folks' eyes. There were only three others who knew that the five of us had been living there for nearly two years, running the plantation ourselves without any grown-ups-Henry and Jeremiah in town, and Katie's uncle Templeton-my papa-who I told you about. Jeremiah and Henry had been a big help to us, both before Mr. Daniels came and afterwards too. They hadn't told anyone about our secret scheme to keep the plantation going as if Katie's family was still there. And Henry and my papa were gradually becoming good friends, which made us all happy.
After Katie's and my family were all killed by Bilsby's Marauders right after the war, Katie and I found ourselves together at Rosewood doing our best to survive. We became good friends long before we had any idea we were related. Turns out my mama used to live at Rosewood and Katie's uncle fell in love with her during his visits there. But Katie's father had sold my mama to another plantation without telling Templeton where she'd gone-or that she was expecting his child. Anyway, once we knew that we were cousins-though it plumb caps the climax of anything we'd ever expected!-it's made us closer than ever. It's made us all the more a family at Rosewood, and made my papa's leaving again all the harder.
As the man rode up, he glanced over at me from up on his horse with a look of disdain, like I was a dog or something.
Excerpted from Together Is All We Need by Michael Phillips Copyright © 2004 by Michael Phillips. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Michael Phillips, one of the premier Christian novelists of this generation, has written four dozen novels (including THE SECRETS OF HEATHERSLEIGH HALL) with sales over five million copies. He also is the man responsible for introducing Victorian novelist George MacDonald to new readers around the world. Michael and his wife, Judy, live in Eureka, California.
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Each book picks up where the last one ended...loved how the characters developed.
Loved the whole series
I have read the entire series and have enjoyed them all. Highly recommend to historical/Christian fiction fans. Entire series shows that a family is more than blood relation and respecting and loving our differences is so important. I am looking forward to reading the next series with these same characters (Carolina Cousins). The theme of "the color of your skin, is not the color of your heart" is the lesson that continues to be needed today.
I actually stayed up VERY LATE reading this wonderful book. Keep them coming Michael Phillips, I love, love, love all of them!
I have read all of theses books and I love them-I grew up in the south in the 60's and I had a 'colored' friend in school named Pat but I was never allowed to take her to my house to play-we could only be friens at school and these stories remind me of our friendship.
I enjiyed each and every book in this series. I would suggest people having an open mind and reading it because you will get a pleasant surprise!
I really loved theses books,very heartwarming and aspiring,i would reccomend them
I enjoyed the four books in the series.Michael Phillips is a great auther.....
I read all 4 of the Shenandoah Sister books, after getting the first one Angels Watching Over me as a freebie. It was a wonderful history lesson reminding me of what the North and South was like post Civil War, as well as a book about overcoming struggles and learning to trust in God.
Interesting concept of life after the Civil War. Thoroughly enjoyable. I enjoyed the concept that races could function togerher.
Just when things couldn't get any worse, life to an about face with the girls living at the Rosewood plantation.
I have already the previous books that started this series and I just love them. I love how Mary Ann and Katie over come it all. It is a hard time to look back on the cruelty that happened. But this family showed the world a thing or too.
This story just keeps getting better and better
I enjoyed the book, although i wouldnt recommend it as a serious read. Its more of a book to read to pass the time.