Sweetwater Creek

Sweetwater Creek



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780792767435
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 09/28/2009
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.

Read an Excerpt

Sweetwater Creek LP

By Anne Rivers Siddons

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Anne Rivers Siddons
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060751517

Chapter One

On a Thanksgiving eve, just before sunset, Emily and Elvis sat on the bank of a hummock where it slid down into Sweetwater Creek. Autumn in the Lowcountry of South Carolina is usually as slow and sweet as thick tawny port, and just as sleepily intoxicating. But this one had been born cold, with frosts searing late annuals in early October and chill nights so clear and still that the stars over the marshes and creeks bloomed like white chrysanthemums. Sweaters came out a full two months early, and furnaces rumbled dustily on in late September. Already Emily was shivering hard in her thin denim jacket, and had pulled Elvis closer for his body heat. In the morning, the spartina grass would be tinkling with a skin of ice and rime and the tidal creek would run as dark and clear as iced tea, the opaque, teeming strata of creek life having died out early or gone south with migratory birds. Emily missed the ribbons of birdsong you could usually hear well after Thanksgiving, but the whistle of quail and the blatting chorus of ducks and other waterfowl rang clearer, and the chuff and cough of deer come close. Emily loved the sounds of the winter animals; they said that life on the marsh would go on.

They sat on the bank overlooking the little sand beach where the river dolphins came to hurl themselves out of the water after the fish they had herded there. The dolphins were long gone to warmer seas, but at low tide the slide marks they wore into the sand were still distinct. They would not fade away until many more tides had washed them.

"There won't be any of them this late," Emily told Elvis. Elvis grinned up at her; he knew this. The dolphins were for heat and low tide. Girl and spaniel came almost every day in the summer and fall to watch them. Elvis's internal clock was better by far than the motley collection of timepieces back in the farmhouse.

They sat a while longer, as the gold and vermillion sunset dulled to gray-lavender. They would go back to the house soon, or be forced to stumble their way home in the swift, dense dark. Emily hadn't brought her flashlight. She had not thought they would be gone this long. But the prospect of the dim kitchen light and the thick smell of supper, and the even thicker silence, kept her on the marsh. This night would not be a happy one, even by Parmenter standards. Already words had been flung that could not be taken back, and furious tears shed, and the torturous wheel of Thanksgiving day loomed as large as a millstone. No, there would be silence now, each of them drowned in their own pools of it. The speaking was done. It was not the Parmenter way to go back and try to mitigate hurt and anger. By suppertime it would simply not exist anymore, except in Emily's roiling mind. Her father and brothers would be deep in their eating and drinking, and her Aunt Jenny would have gone quietly home to her own silent hearth. Tomorrow she and Emily and old Cleta would prepare the ritual dinner for the returning hunters. Weather or catastrophe, sickness or grinding grief, the Thanksgiving hunt was sacrosanct. Walter Parmenter had instituted it long before Emily's birth.

"All the big plantations have them. It's an old sporting tradition," he said often, to anyone who might be listening. "We, of all the plantation families, should have one. We have the best hunting dogs in the Lowcountry, and some of the best bird land. The other planters talk about our dogs and our land. People tell me they hear about them all the time."

That there were now very few planters left on the huge river and tidal creek plantations around Charleston was, to Walter Parmenter, beside the point. He lived far back in his head, in the glory days of the family-oriented plantations. But most of the properties now were owned by northern sportsmen or hunting clubs, with managers to oversee day-to-day life. In this new millennium, they were largely weekend plantations. It was a point of immense pride to Walter that he had lived and worked Sweetwater Plantation almost his entire life. He scorned the holiday planters.

"Not one of them knows the woods and fields and marshes and the game and birds like I do. I could show them things about these parts that would pin their ears back. I could outhunt the lot of them, too. Me and the boys and the dogs, we'll show them a thing or two about that one of these days."

Emily thought that unlikely; Walter had never been invited on the great Thanksgiving and Christmas hunts that were traditional with some of their landed neighbors. They visited only to look at and buy Sweetwater's famous Boykin spaniels. They would smile and speak admiringly of the Boykins, and usually go home with a pup or leave an order for the next litter, and then retreat to their fine old houses at the end of their long live oak allées. Her father was right about one thing, though. Sweetwater's Boykin spaniels were among the best in the Lowcountry, bred from strict breed standards and long lines of legendary hunters, and trained meticulously. If you took home a Sweetwater Boykin, whether started or broke, you had yourself a hunting dog that would be greatly admired in the field and house by every visitor who came. Elvis was one of them. Emily had trained him herself ...


Excerpted from Sweetwater Creek LP by Anne Rivers Siddons Copyright © 2005 by Anne Rivers Siddons. Excerpted by permission.
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