PART II, Charleston, South Carolina
Chapter 24. Charleston. A Beginning.
Jack Mason had successfully removed his operations to Charleston and was shed of most of his old long-suffering Savannah clientele. But he was a screwd operator in negotiating deals for the best river bed soil along the Ashley River and introduced the Beans to local planters and merchants. His plans to establish the ambitious brothers in the heart of the shipping lanes to the triangular trade between the colonies, Europe and the islands in the West Indies would ultimately serve to enrich him.
If Chauncey and Charles were to provide wealth and status to Jack Mason, it was necessary to teach them everything about growing rice and acquiring suitable slaves. His trading routine with local planters enabled him to acquaint himself and the Beans into polite society. In Charleston, this society was located in the communities around Battery Row and combined with that of planters and aristocrats, drawing a new source of wealth from yeomen-turned-planters. A proper social status was gained from both mediums. Although it was the intention of landed gentry to do away with the snobbery and unfairness of various titles and class distinctions, they actually replicated the old system. How fast the planter arose in importance depended upon the size of his plantation and number of african slaves. The noblese occupied governerships and other civic appointments by the king and were an especially powerful and influential class. But earned wealth had its own status: it acquired land and created personal empires.
Chauncey and Charles concentrated their energy upon planting their first tract of 1,000 acres on a spot of land which followed the waters of the Ashley River and afforded navigation into the Atlantic. The site was in plain view from the river bed, but remotely situated through a thick of wooded trails off of the main road. Eventually a narrow plantation road was built to intersect the main thoroughfare. The construction of the stone and brick manor house called Strathnaver and slave cabins took several years to complete. But auctioneers, local merchandizing firms and factoring companies were merely the tools provided by Jack Mason. The sale by Mason of the plantation's first crop to a London factor as well as the other local planters on the river was the cause of a celebration. Chauncey and Charles soon discovered that successful ventures meant a variety of friendships, particularly among the peerage which surrounded the governor. Thus, the Bean's mixed with a mediaocre class of planters and their wives.
One afternoon as they walked from the pier to a rented house on an obscure street behind Battery extant from the peerage, Sir Robert Hume was staunchly loyal to the king's politics and proud of his position on the governor's council which precipitated his appointment as a master of equity in the chauncery court. His place in society was assured. His origin was Edinburgh which he had leftwith his wife and only unmarried daughter, Harriett. The wife suffered the ills of the voyage and succumbed to an early death soon after their arrival upon the American Continent. As Harriett came of age, however, his only concern was to find a proper husband, and corresponded with relatives in Ireland.
Sir Hume was stoutly built with a slightly overhanging belly under his fancy laced sleeves and waistcoat. His clothes were sewn in the typical English brocade with a full sash around his waist and the golden heirloom rings embellishing his fingers were impressed with the family crest. Chauncey had a long sideways glimpse of the daughter as she stood on the porch alongside her father greeting friends. She stood at least one head above her father, and her yellow pompadoured hair raised over the forehead cast a shadow on his presence.
Although Chauncey was roundly disappointed to be snubbed by one of the most beautiful women in Charleston, he was determined to maintain a coolly disinterested attitude. Thus, when he saw her coming towards him on the street shading her eyes with a little parasol, he made a habit of conspiciously crossing to the other side. And the gesture was observed by her lady friends who commented upon the handsome figure of Chauncey and his curly black hair. Thus, Chauncey Bean soon became known as a noteworthy distraction.
But he had already traveled the narrow path of mistakes and risked his reputation by consorting with a whore. And his marriage to the impishly stubborn Scottish woman felt like a chain around his neck.
One afternoon the Bean brothers were unexpectantly invited to a birthday party in the home of one of the friends of Harriett, Miss Eleanor Givens, a rather timid young lady who took a fancy to Charles Bean.
The occasion occurred mid-afternoon. The Givens family, originally from France possessed a wide display of fancy gilded mirrors and Louis IV arm chairs from the family seat. The grandfather descended from the du Mauriers of Marsailles and sent some of his finest chinaware to Charleston as a wedding present. However, as with so many titled gentlemen, the fortune of that nobility dwindled, it became necessary for Jean du Maurier Givens, the proud recipient of the family name, to make his fortune in America. Although not as well-connected as Sir Robert Hume, he had managed to get himself elected as a member of the house burgess where it was so learned that he was an impeccably trustworthy fellow. This distinction led him to own a pocket full of secrets, an asset which had led to several successful investments. His good fortune was a gentle wife and two lovely daughters, Emily and Eleanor. Meanwhile, Givens sought likely prospects to betrothe to her daughters. Eleanor, wholesome in appearance with a freckled nose, was most anxious. That afternoon, she gave a concert on the harpsichord while the other sisters sang a duet in the french dialect. The arrival of Charles Bean did not go unnoticed, as her eyes followed him as he crunched down upon the blue damask of one of the Louis IV chairs. He impatiently waited for the song to end. When it did, he asked if she would be his partner at the promenade, which was the next event. The custom consisted of an amorous stroll along the garden wall and a narrow foot path leading to a creek of flat rocks and pebbles. They led the pack, first promenading in a straight line directly in front of the music room and crossing in full view of the rest of the house and passing a tall fence of climbing clematis vines with pink blooms and a bushy hedge of sweet honeysuckle. The strollers walked in double queues until the path made a swift turn up a steep bank of cedar trees leading to the pebbles of a fast-bubbling stream. "This is my favorite place," she confided, while the party caught up. "But we must wait for the chaparone.
Charles paused to observe an older gentleman slowly climbing the hill. "Who is the chaperone?" He asked.
"Sir Robert Hume."
Charles frowned. More than twenty years of age, he felt older but content in the company of Eleanor Givens. Chauncey chose the younger sister, Emily, as his companion to walk the promenade. They were last on the path and chatted freely because the discipline of decorum did not apply to laggers. Walking in front at a goodly distance was Henrietta locked on the arm of and a rather plump Irish gentleman who was a guest of the Sir Hume. Baron Gilbert Mickleroy was a widowed irishman whose children were all married and residing near the old family home in Antrim. Although he wore a fashionable wig to cure his bald head and an array of gold rings and pins on his satin clothes, he was unappealing to the younger generation. And despite his efforts to locate a wife in Ireland, he found himself the uncomfortable guest of a distant cousin in the colonies with one compatible interest in common. Emily made silly remarks about thes pot-belly stomach and the curly tangled wig which seemed to weigh heavily upon his head. "He is utterly bald, you know," she whispered.
"Why do you suppose that lady Hume prefers the baron?" Chauncey asked.
"Because of his wealth, and Harriett will have no less than a baron!"
"Aye, family status and wealth."
"As I understand it, he did not inherit until he'd first acquired his own fortune on a sugar plantation in Barbados. He sojourned there for some years, I am told, before returning to Ireland to wed a lady from a prominent family. They had a goodly number of children and when she died, he found himself in the unhappy situation of being widowed. He is quite anxious to marry again."
"Yes," Chauncey replied, noting to himself that Harriett was at least half the age of the baron. He paused momentarily to admire a thick bed of yellow and white daisies. "I think that I should like to build a promenade at Strathnaver. What is your favorite flower?"
"Roses, I think red roses!"
"Where would you plant them?"
"In the garden nearest to the road. Yes, a hedge of rose bushes at the front steps."
Chauncey laughed. "So be it!"
She clapped her hands. "Yes! And I can visit you there as soon as Mrs. Bean returns from Savannah."
He frowned and scratched his head, thinking of his own personal uneasiness of Martha's refusal to leave Savannah.
"Did I say something improper?"
"Why no. It is simply that Mrs. Bean is unlikely to leave her family and friends in Savannah for a long while yet and certainly not before the completion of Strathnaver."
"Then perhaps she will not object to our friendship?"
"No, I should think not."
The bargain sealed, Emily was immensely pleased that she had captured the friendship of the mysteriously handsome Chauncey Bean.
"The primary concerns of Eleanor's lady friends is to get themselves betrothed," Charles later told Chauncey. "And I, well, although I am keenly interested in Miss Eleanor, we must first finish the construction of Strathnaver before I dare to ask her father's permission to court her."
Chapter 25. Harriett.
Harriett married her baron in the spring when the yellow daises bloomed and a carpet of red poppies bloomed in the church graveyard. Sir Hume arched his back proudly as the carriage delivered him to the front door of the church and he prepared to release his daughter into the care of the baron Gilbert Mickleroy. All winter he had waited impatiently for the baron to ship his personal furnishings from his London home to the new house on Meeting Street. Some of the costly items, oil paintings, gold-gilded mirrors, a dining table and twelve barochial chairs carved with the family crest, reminded him of his wife of so many years and he longed for the comfort of those items around him. Also, several large shipping chests bearing his personal acourtements, vestments, dualling pistols and jewelry, items of value and security, arrived . All of his peculiarities, coupled with the determination of Harriett to acquire all that was coming to her as the second wife, had prolonged the engagement to well past a year.
The prenuptial agreement detailed an inheritances of the baron's accquired assets in the colonies, such as the new house, 100 pds per year for her dowry and a sugar plantation in Barbados. She objected to the Barbados land until he pointed to its annual receipts. For his own comforts in Charleston, the baron purchased several pure bred horses and two carriages with the Mickleroy arms blazed upon each door. For the wedding ceremony, the baron had to produce his mother's precious tiera which she'd worn in the presence of the monarchy. The negotiations for those items wore on the baron's emotions as his children argued to retain the family jewels, but he had invested a great deal of time and effort into this engagement and too weary to negotiate any longer, so finally conceded. The tiara was pure silver with green emeralds and fit snugly over the veil which draped to the floor in a long queue. Harriett's long white gown and the pearls around her neck were the grand finale of her life as a single woman well past the conventional age of marriage. Sir Hume stepped out of the carriage and assisted the white bundle of silk, satin and delicate lace into the church. As he did so, he caught a glimpse of the anxious baron running a fast pace through the cemetery, crushing the red poppies under his large clumsy feet. His armpits were creased with a nervous sweat as he bore his way into the back door of the parish. The sweat continued to flow and he felt nausea in the pit of his stomach as he took his position in the pulpit.
The community turned out to attend the flamboyant ceremony and to observe the future baronness upon her triumph ascension down the aisle to the eagarly waiting arms of Gilbert Mickleroy.
Afterwards, the baron, anxious to consummate the marriage, had the carriage rush them to Meeting Street. All of the grand furnishings were eminately positioned, including the queen anne dining suite shimmering from a fine polish. The baron's coat of arms was hung in the foyer alongside an oil painting of himself and those of his most prominent ancestors. And the final touch of his past was a four poster cherrywood bed and canopy draped in thick folds of green velvet and mosquito net. Perhaps the information that his wife wife had died in that bed, coupled with the smell of his sweaty armpits, caused Harriett to procrastinate ungirdling herself from the bulky wedding dress. The process took about an hour and when Gilbert finally found her unencumbered, he signed deeply.
"At last, my dear, it is all accomplished and we may enjoy a comfortably restful life."
His hands wrinkled with liver spots, trembled as he helped to remove her last petticoat. After a long wait of his love being continually tested by her demands for material possessions, he removed his satin vest and unbuttoned his trousers, revealing an unattractive bulging stomach. The age difference had defined the struggle. And as he undressed, he was overwhelmed with the same anxiety which had plagued him for months. His nervousness affected his performance as a husband. Neither party was pleased, and after several times trying, Gilbert Mickleroy blamed Harriett. He argued that upon the occasion of his first wedding, that the evening bloomed with blissful passion. Also, the first wife, a kind and gentleman woman of pleasant temperament, possessed a generous soul.
The quarreling went unsatisfied and the baron found himself in the wretched throes of depression. He had suffered some of that malady after the death of his first wife but now, with Harriett at the helm, it came upon him in full blast. He realized that he had given her too much. Instead of the peace and tranquility of comfortable evenings before a warm fire, his pockets were salted by a wife whose luxurious spending knew no bounds. It seemed to him that her purported youth and beautiful face could not overcome a lustful thirst for finery. He did not care to be paraded as a mere guest to her parties.
Therefore, after the long, sweaty summer months had passed and the wind was cold on his back, the baron could no longer bear the insults. It was February, the coldest month of the year, when Harriett bundled herself in a blanket inside of the carriage and accompanied him to the pier. An argument had precipitated the event, with the baron ordering that his wardrobe and family jewels packed into a large trunk.
"Are you certain that you wish to return to Ireland?" She asked.
"What doth it benefit me to stay?" he grumbled. "I am a husband in name only."
"Perhaps I am too demanding, as you say," she reflected.
"Never mind," he answered, patting her chilled fingers. "Actually, there is no reason for me to remain in the colonies. The climate does not suit my disposition, especially during the winter months."
"What shall I do without a husband?"
"My dear," he said in a fatherly tone, "take comfort in your friendships and acquaintances, for you hath no need of an old baron," Then he started a long coughing spell.
"But sir, who will manage my affairs whilst you travel to the Irish sea? What shall I tell my friends?"
" Tis true that all of this is my fault for expecting you to love an old man. As for your friends, they love you not."
"As it happens, the properties which you spun into the details of your prenuptial agreement benefit you quite well, my dear. I do not begrudge giving you the sugar plantations. The income from Barbadoes should sustain you properly, as well as provide a favorable recluse for the winter months. My father insisted that I spend the better part of my youth in Barbadoes. Now that I reflect back upon it, it was a pleasant experience for me which I do not regret. Perhaps someday in the fute, you will think of me as a sobering experience. You should look to Mr. Mason for an accounting. Also, my partner in Barbadoes is a frenchman, Captain Jacques Courtevois."
"You will not find me venturing off to an island in the caribbean!"
"Actually, the plantation is pleasantly warm during the winter months, with its large open houses and hearths. My tenure on Barbados was filled with happiness and joy. Should you choose to visit the island, I pray that you will find that sae happiness."
She was furious. "I told you that I shall never visit Barbadoes!"
"In my early years I considered myself a young Candide (Voltaire) living the sheltered life until my father sent me to Barbados with instructions to cultivate the sugar plant. As you must be aware, candide, indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimistism, ultimately becomes disillusioned with the sad experiences and hardships of the world. At first, I experienced that disillusionment. Yet, the enduring message of the sugar plantation was that nothing was accomplished without hard work. Nevertheless, after returning to the house of my father some ten years later, I adopted the attitude of Candide, All is for the best Although we do not yet realize it, I think that is where we are now, my dear, in the best of all possible worlds. Should you choose to visit the plantation to escape the damp Charleston winter, you will see for yourself a garden of profound solitude and wisdom."
The baron had a sad expression in his face as he stepped from the carriage and walked gingerly to the pier. As he stood alone in the cold wafing wind awaiting for his trunk to be boarded on a vessel bound for the West Sea, he reminded himself that he had packed all of his valuables as well as the silver tiara. t was a small satisfaction for a huge mistake. Feeling nauseated and dizzy as he boarded the vessel, although the baron never said so, in his present state of illness and decline, he would never return. In the months which passed, there was a slew of correspondence from Harriett, asking for letters of credit and other favors. While Harriett made excuses to her friends concerning his absence in the colony, the letters went unanswered.
The sad news of his death came a year later. Harriett proceeded to inquire as to whether or not she was mentioned in a recent version of a codicil to his last will and testament. The answer was penned in the formal script of one of his married daughters. "Although a document purporting to be some sort of prenuptial agreement with Miss Harriett Hume was found among his papers, according to the wishes of my father, all of his european estates were bequeathed to his Irish families. Whilst my father was in the colonies for one short year, he contracted consumption and was gravely ill when he arrived in Antrim."
The daughter's remarks struck a resentfulness in her heart, but she respectfully mourned his passing a full year.
"Perhaps you should consider remarrying," Sir Hume suggested.
"Where is the wisdom in that, when all potential suitors seek to enrich themselves from my fortune?"
"Well, my dear, you cannot expect anything else!"
Chapter 26. Wedding of Charles Bean. June 1765.
The brick and stone manor house, fashioned in the style of the medieval architecture of the ancient Mackay laird required two years to complete, including the path of promenade and rose gardens which were under the supervision of Miss Emily Givens. And finally, after a long courtship, Charles Bean was married to Miss Eleanor Givens. The wedding occurred in the Round chapel attended by the french settlers along the Cooper River. None were happier on this lovely June afternoon than the bride and groom. It was a love match which no one in the county could dispute. Chauncey stood proudly beside his brother as Monsieur Givens delivered Eleanor to the altar, yet somehow he was infinitely reminiscent of former days. During the vows, his eyes moved across the audience and fell upon Lady Harriett Mickleroy seated in a front pew. Although she did not approve of Charles Bean and her own opinions had little value to Eleanor, Harriett was pleased that she had married a man of her own choice. Considering that every aspect of her costume was black, including the gloves coupled with lace upon the sleeves, and the black felt hat which concealed her face with a sheer veil, one might assume that she was in mourning. The celebration after the ceremony caused her to quietly avoid her friends and take a reflective walk into the old cemetery. The sunken ground and toppled over tombstones presented an uncomfortable terrain and as she paused to assure herself of proper footing observed Chauncey Bean following her.
"Why do you follow me, Mr. Bean?" His presumptive behavior was annoying and a caustic irritation was heard in her voice.
"May I help you, lady?" Chauncey asked.
"No, I am quite capable," she quipped.
"Yes, I would assume as much," he murmured as she carefully lifted the hem of her skirt to prevent it touching the soil of a grave and strolled ahead of him.
"Are you searching for any grave in particular. Of that of your husband, perhaps? "
" His honor, the baron Mickleroy is properly buried in the family plot in Ireland," she said arrogantly.
"I am truly sorry for your loss, baroness" he said while bowing respectfully.
"My mourning period is almost ended," she said, "yet the subject of this conversation is disparingly unpleasant."
"Perhaps you would not find this meeting so unpleasant were I to inform you that we hath a mutual friend, Miss Emily Givens."
"Yes, and although I am not sure why, Emily seems quite fond of you. She hopes that your wife will soon visit Charleston."
"Well, I must confess that the subject of my wife is also objectionable to me as a conversation, especially on my brother's wedding day!" When she failed to respond, he said: "I hope that I did not offend you, my lady."
"When did you last see her?"
"A long while, baroness. Ten years or so."
"Tis is a long time to be without a spouse," she uttered. "I should be ashamed, as only a year hath passed since my own loss. "
Suddenly he felt an irrepressible urge to lift the black veil which covered her face. The tiny red blood vessels in her eyes appeared strained and her complexion lacked its natural rosy glow. He realized that it was wrong of him to think of her as invincible when her marital status had rendered her fragile and vulnerable. He leaned towards her and kissed her gently on the lips. Afterwards, they resumed their stroll along a hedge of blooming roses entwined with honeysuckle vines and hesitated over the grave of Mrs. Givens. "Few people remember this, but Mrs. Givens died while giving birth. They had only been in this country a short while. Monsieur Givens was thoroughly heart-broken."
"Monsieur Givens need not worry," he pronounced, thinking of generous wedding gift of Greenfield plantation.
The afternoon passing agreeably between them served to energize Chauncey with a spectrum of self-confidence. When the churchyard was empty of guests, the church bells stopped ringing. He listened keenly for the bells, but heard crickets instead. "Tis late in the day, and here we are, careening over all of these graves, seemingly the only two souls in the world. Alone. Yes, we are alone in the world. Me, with my wife refusing to come to Charleston, and you, a lonely widow." Then he pulled her close to his breast and kissed her passionately. It was the beginning of an affair which would last for years.
Chapter 27. March 1767. The Townshend Acts.
Wednesday afternoons were selected for Harriett to entertain Chauncey Bean, but this fact was unknown to Sir Robert Hume who hurried to her home from a meeting of the governor's council. As his feet pattered along the brick conclaves of the sidewalk, he felt a heavy load upon his shoulders. Clutched in one hand was a recent printing of Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance which he planned to return to the private library of Sir Gilbert Mickleroy. The baron's political views went unknown until his death, when Sir Robert discovered a modest collection of the french philosopher's works. Voltaire, himself a free-thinker of the enlightenment age, was slowing etching his ideas of religious tolerance into the public mind.
Encumbered with his own intolerable position of administering English Law he perceived a great contrast in delivering equity to the colonists, who, like the merchant ships, had no recourse but to surrender the cargo without payment. There would be months and months of rotting sugar or tea in the warehouses while English trade diminshed within the colonies and the politics dragged on.
His immediate troubles bore deep into this thoughts, how to release cargo shipments and forego paying the king's new taxes. The new regulations were borne out of the cost of the French and Indian War. For almost ten years the British and Americans fought against the French and certain Indian tribes, battling over territory in Virginia. Although the English defeated the French they did so at the cost of an enormously increasing national debt to Great Britain, which stirred the parliament into raising taxes and causing great domestic unrest which spilled over into the colonies. The taxes began with the Sugar and Currency Act to satisfy British merchants who complained about the worthless paper currency issued in the colonies. The Quartering Act required civil authorities to provide lodging and supplies to the British troops stationed in America, even at their own expense. The Stamp Act was replaced by the Declaratory Act which caused an immediate and sharp decline in the consumption of English goods by the colonists. Meanwhile, three representatives from South Carolina were sent to New York to sit on the Stamp Act Congress. Its purpose was to set aside many of the recent taxes. All but the Stamp Act tax remained in place. A protest against the Stamp Act commenced in Boston with a recent cargo of tea being dumped into the sea. Similarly, all tea shipped into Charleston was stored in warehouse and left to rot.
Discussed in the governor's council that morning was the fact that Parliament had retaliated against the colonists reluctance to import British goods by asserting into the Act its authority to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever." The lively discussion aroused tempers, however, even more taxes were imposed. The news of the The Townshend Acts levied duties on glass, lead, paper, paint and tea.
Already the importation from Harriett's sugar plantations suffered the imposition of taxes and delays. A shipment of her sugar cane lay onboard a ship in the harbor and an angry captain approached the bench.
One of the captains stepped forward and presented his ship manifest. "These are the written instructions of Captain Jacques Courtevois, to deliver 20 tons of sugar cane to the port of Charleston. Afterwards, I am to transport the remainder t the New England ports, before returning to Barbadoes for another shipment. The sugar cane is ripe for shipping, my lord, and there should be no further delays."
"Sir, the New England ports must also collect the tax. My suggestion is that you ask the baronness to rule upon the disposition of your cargo."
The captain complained that arguing with that lady was a waste of his time and that he'd rather dump all of her cargo on the wharf for the rats to eat. So it went, until Sir Hume ordered all cargo in question be stored in a warehouse until the matter could be resolved.
Sir Robert was delivered into the library where he returned the book. And while his majesty's servant waited for Harriett to give audience. She found him frustrated, feverishly thumbing through more treatises and pamphlets.
"This morning, over loud and strenuous objections, I heard complaints from the masters of merchant ships protesting the fact that certain cargo was unloaded, but not paid for. Although the law is to tax, the argument lies in the fact that it is unequitable to punish merchants and ship masters alike. But the masters argued that the law must be observed! And although I explained that a strict observance of the law was not required in the court of equity and that its primary function is to provide equity between the parties."
"What does Mr. Mason say on the matter?" She asked.
"He posted a letter to Captain Jacques Courtevois to reroute your sugar cane to other parts of europe."
"What will come of the cargo?"
"For all practical purposes, it is lost to you."
"What is your position in this?"
"It is impossible to appease both the colonists and His majesty in this matter. And, given the current political climate, the colonists rather dump than pay claiming that they are being taxed without representation. Too, there is talk of rebellion. Certain groups calling themselves patriots speak new words, freedom and democracy."
But Sir Hume was more troubled than ever as he left his the home of his daughter>
Chapter 28. Savannah. 1767.
The winds of change also swept over Savannah. For the first time, slavery was permitted, but to enact it required colonists of means to settle on the land grants. Many of the original settlers could ill afford the expense, so remained poor. But King George was anxious for the colony to be settled and offered land grants to large church congregations immigranting from other colonies. The failing economy of Frederica caused people to move onto some of the land grants northward and the port of Sunbury. In Savannah, the era of the silk worm business came to an end. The italian women, returning to their own country, left the filature empty of its ovens, looms and spinning wheels. The stipend which Hans Vanderplank received from the trustees came to an abrupt end.
Eventually, as planters from other regions acquired substantially large land grants, the landscape bloomed in the white sea island cotton, and rice paddies along the Ogeechee basin. But the uproar over British taxes stirred the planters into voicing strong political opinions.
As the Townshend Acts were proclaimed,Jack Mason made changes in the manner in which he handled factoring transactions on both sides of the Great Ogeechee River in Georgia and Carolina and his curiosity drove him to inspect the port of Savannah. His opiquely snooping nose observed foreign vessels anchored out beyond the reefs attempting to avoid the tax. Once duty collectors stepped onboard, it would be searched and the tax collected.
One morning he observed Vanderplank as he hitched up the wagon to one of his horses and loaded it with several bags of corn seed. He was making a delivery to a new merchandising store across the river in Edgefield. The agreement was a poor one, that the merchant would take the corn upon consignment, and Vanderplank would have to wait for his money. Nevertheless, he was not one to quibble over work. With the removal of his stipend by the entrepreneaurs and his obfuscated importance in the colony, he was as a lost sheep without his flock.
Willie and Hannie approached the wagon and offered to go along.
"No, you stay behind with your mother," he said. Hans worried over the health of Abby. She had felt poorly since the loss of another daughter in childbirth. The young boys were schooled by their father in all aspects of husbandry and agriculture but were still lacking in skills. Although he did not say so, times were difficult for the Vanderplanks. If it were not for the deliveries and the produce from the farm, the family would be in poor circumstances. Mason's eyes followed
Vanderplank as he drove a near broken-down wagon out of town and circled the bluff towards the river. The sun, silhouetted at a far distance by an array of rain clouds, seemed to disappear. Just as he crossed the river, Vanderplank drew up his shoulders to a hard hard rain pouring down his shirt and back. As he drove along the Edgefield road, thick hunks of mud fell across the path, and a large sharp rock caused a jar of the wagon. As the mare tripped in the harnass and fell to the ground, Hans hit his head upon a rock. When he awoke, he was wedged under the wagon, unable to free himself. For hours he lay in a puddle of water while a steady stream of rain soaked his helpless body.
When Vanderplank did not return to Savannah the following day, the boys sprang into action. They were adept in tracking and figured that they could read the signs along the Edgefield road as good as any Creek Indian. The rain left deep wagon wheel tracks in the soil, and after several hours, they found their father, bleeding and unconscious. "But we must find first repair the wagon wheel before attempting to remove him."
Hannie wacked a couple of branches from a tree to use as wedges. Then the boys using all their body weight lifted the wagon and eased their father out from under.
Willie placed his hand over the mouth. "He is breathing," he said.
"The horse must have run off, but I think that I can find her", Hannie said tearfully while Willie tightened some bolts on the wheel and secured it to the wagon. The mare was close by in a wooded area giving weight to her swollen fetlocks. His soothing words brought calm to the mare as he gently removed splinters from the fetlocks and hoofs, realizing that if this mare were crippled, there would be no means of saving their father.
"The harnass is broken," Willie called out, "but I think that it can be knotted together."
"The mare is good," Hannie uttered, as a flush of tears washed down his cheeks.
The boys struggled for hours to refit the wagon. As they lifted Hans onto the wagon, it was necessary to wipe a fresh stream of blood oozing from the head and neck. "He is still unconscious," Willie said as he scouped up the cotton seed which had spilled into the road.
"What are you doing?" Hannie cried. "We need to get father to home!"
"Hannie, the seed is our bread and butter. Father will be stressed if we leave it be. Tomorrow, I will make good on his word and make the delivery to Edgefield myself."
The wagon prodded slowly along as its wheels churled across the wet, slippery road and lurched into the pot holes. Willie drove, while Hannie held his father's head. For the last several miles there had been no movement and Hannie feared for the worse. As soon as the wagon approached the river they saw their mother waiting on the bank of the Savannah side. It was a tender moment with Abigail weeping at the sight of Hans lying helpless inside the wagon. Hannie ran his hand over the mouth again. This time there was no breath.
"Is he alive?" Abby asked.
Hannie sobbed, surrendering to his emotions.
"What do you say, then, is he breathing?"
Hannie dropped his eyes lowly and whispered, "No, mother."
Abigail examined the dead body and kissed his lips. The memory of his rescue of her and the love which he bore her flashed before her eyes. Especially when Willie was born and he loved him as his own biological son. She searched the Willie's eyes for a solution. "He possessed with a kind heart and gentle spirit. I would nought have married another."
"As soon as we are home, I shall fetch Aunt Martha. She will know what do do," Willie answered.
If there were not enough tears in the Vanderplank house, as soon as Willie went to Bull Street and told Aunt Martha, she swooned to the floor. He helped her into a chair. "Are you well, Aunt Martha?" There were dark circles around her eyes and her jowls sagged in a downward spiral of sadness.
"Bring me a fan," she said, breathing heavily.
"Your father was a dear member of my family, just as you are so special to me," she said, petting Willie on the head.
"We are all family, Aunt Martha," Willie said, not realizing her meaning. "Mother needs you. Please help us decide what to do next."
Martha nodded, recalling the mournful experience of burying Henry Thornton and observing the body of Lady Bathurst being lowered into the ground. She stood to her feet and wrapped a dingy white crocheted shawl around her shoulders. "I know what to do."
"Shall I deliver the seed to Edgefield now?" He asked. "It was important to father."
"No, dear boy, that can wait."
Martha found Jack Mason inside his old office alongside the pier where he had spent all day trying to sort out the status of his taxed accounts. Thus far, the vessels anchored out beyond the reef had prevented the Savannah officials from confiscating any of the taxed items. Martha's presence startled him.
She stood on the cold floor of the dusty warehouse wearing a red apron with a patch in the lower corner, dark petticoat and jacket underneath the apron, a white cap and neckerchief. Her face and hands were so thoroughly shrubbed clean that her skin radiated with a special pink glow. "Master Mason, may I speak with you, please."
He stepped away from a clutter of paperwork and greeted her. "Of course, dear lady, how may I be of assistance to you?"
"Something terrible hath happened. Hans Vanderplank is dead."
He appeared shocked. The robust Hans Vanderplank that he'd seen the day before flexing his muscles with a load of seed and seedlings? "But Hans was in the best of health. What happened?"
"It was an accident. The wagon turned on top of him. We need help, sir."
"I shall take charge immediately. Where doth Mrs. Abigail wish the body buried?"
"On the farm, me thinks. Plant it upon the knoll overlooking Augustine Creek. He can see the Bathurst plantation and his first crop of mulberry trees in full bloom this time of the year."
"Yes, certainly, Hans would appreciate that spectacular view."
The funeral occurred the following day and thanks to Mason, consisted of a train of mourners following a livery carriage from town to the creek. Mason also managed to engage the popular open air evangelist, George Whitefield, to come from his orphanage to render his serman. Whitefield had replaced John Wesley and used for his eulogy portions of his greatest treatise, The Great Awakening wherein he encouraged introspection and commitment to a new standard of personal morality. Abigail and her sons were too overcome with grief to make the commitmentand as they stood tearfully staring across the flash waters of Augustine Creek and a grove of mulberry trees with white blossoms, overcome by the sad memories of a baronete who failed. The familiar tiny green leaves fluttered in the gentle breeze of a summer's day while the final shovels of soil packed the grave. Abigail, overwhelmed by grief, stood hugging her two sons enmeshed in a sorrow which would not end, not even until the day that she died.
While the poo=pular Rev. Whitefield drew the attention of the guests, Mason took a long side glance at Martha's farm. He had already walked the place and noted that the lack of rain had wilted family vegetable garden. "I can apprentice the boys in the livery stable of a fancy Charleston plantation," he suggested to Martha.
"No," she answered.
"Two women cannot manage this farm, and from what I see of the condition of the soil and the out-buildings, Hans Vanderplank had himself one large struggle," he said raising a skeptical eyebrow.
"We shall manage somehow," she insisted. "There is nothing left for us to do, but to manage, Mr. Mason!"
Mason sat in the shade of the barn all afternoon eyeballing the falling planks of a broken roof while waiting for Abby to depart the gravesite. Finally he took a hammer and can of nails and hammered the planks into the roof. When the repair was finished, he paid the gravediggers and the evangelist.
Abby, crouching over the grave in a tearful repose, said something and blew a kiss to her husband.
Mason directed his attention to Martha. "I sail in the morn, come first tide. However, I must speak again upon the subject of how you and Abigail Vanderplank will support yourselves. Mrs. Vanderplank is yet attractive and might consider remarrying. I hath a mind that I can apprentice the nephews on a fancy plantation in Charleston where they can learn a trade. As for you, your husband hath provided a fine home for you in Charleston. I would advise you to join him there."
"This is my family, and I shall nought forsake them!", she said stubbornly.
"What I am saying, madam, is that this crisis is untenable and my own situation is such that I must decline any responsibility for its outcome. Thus, this sad situation is in your hands. Nevertheless, whatever your needs, you may write me in Charleston." When she did not answer, he said sternly. "Today, I am in a position to help you, Mrs. Thornton. My offer is perhaps your last vestage of hope."
Upon Mason's return to Charleston, he reported to Chauncey that Hans Vanderplank had died and that the family was in desperate straits; especially considering Mrs.Thornton's attitude, and predicted that the two boys would soon be relegated to the life of dirt farmers.
Chapter 29. Mournful Days
After the funeral, the mood of Abigail sank into a deep depression. It was Han's face which she practised remembering as well as his muscled frame and gentle hands. But most of all it was his kindness. Sometimes she simply stared at Hannie, fast becoming a man.
"Why do you stare so pitifully at me?" Hannie asked.
"Because you are little Hannie all grown up," she said tearfully.
Oddly enough, the neighbors were no longer friendly, so she did not step outside, and her sons were unable to get hired. Martha begged some vegetables off her reluctant neighbors on Bull Street and utilized them as a thin porridge soup served with spoon bread. She harbored her own set of grievances against those whom she had helped in the past. What little money they had came from selling hen eggs. Sadly, the predictions of Mason were being fulfilled.
The nephews chopped the crusty top soil of the farm with a hand pick and planted collards and turnip greens, but the barn roof which Mr. Mason had repaired came crashing to the ground under the first heavy rain.
December came and as the boys mulled through their chores, noticing that some hens had vanquished from the coop and they found the milch cows dead.
"Someone is stealing our chickens," Willie told Martha. "And they took the eggs!"
Martha sighed deeply. "How will we manage? It seems that it is all for naught without the protection of your father," she lamented.
"Well I am gonna guard the hen house tonight!" He said, grabbing the rifle. "And put a hole in the head of anyone who comes near it!"
Chapter 30. The Death of Abigail. 1765.
In February Abigail took to her bed sick with pneumonia. The illness required constant bedside vigilance, but despite the fact that Martha sat at her bedside tendering her care, the illness soon marked the fate of the family. She died late one afternoon just as the sun went down. Martha sent the nephews begging to the neighbors for help, but they returned in a heat of anger. "They won't help!" Hannie yelled. "And I almost got in a fist fight with someone who had cruel words for my mother!"
"Who was it?" Martha asked.
"The old-timer who sits near the old office of Mr. Mason selling beans."
She went immediately to the warehouse, however stopped in her tracks when she recognized him as being one of the hecklers who threw tomatoes at Abby the day that Rev. Wesley paraded her down Bull Street. Abby's protection had ended with the death of Hans Vanderplank, and no one had forgotten, as Rev. John Wesley previously suggested. It explained so many things.... why the lovely widow went uncourted after the death of Hans, the reason no laborers would work the farm and the nephews went unhired.
Martha suppressed the urge to cry, and instead gave way to to her own style of stubborn anger. "You best go to the farm and dig a grave beside that of your father."
"But what are we to do?"
"We are poor as peasants now. "
The occasion of burial of Abigail occurred on a cold, bleak afternoon the following day. A cluster of gray clouds looming over the grave as well as a powerfully gusty winter wind warned of the impending storms. They struggled to remove Abigail's body from the wagon and carry it to the grave. Although they had sufficient physical strength to manage, the burial itself was a demeaning experience, with no one to assist the tearful boys as they dumped dirt onto a box containing their mother's body. As they packed the grave with the shovels, Martha stared across the creek, where, under a grove of decidious trees, she could still make out the location of the Bathurst graves.
"Whose graves?" Willie asked.
"Baron Bathurst and his lady."
"A grand old man who died because he could nought manage his poverty."
"Very much like ourselves, except, I think that I know how to best improve our circumstances."
"Hannie cried last night as he slept in his bed over the despicable names which they called our mother," Willie told her.
"Never mind! This is a place of ill-omen," Martha declared as a blast of cold air whipped around the barn. "Nought good for planting or burying."
That evening as Aunt Martha and the nephews were warmed by a fire in the hearth, she and had a change of heart concerning the possessions passed down from Henry Thornton. Like the baron who married a widow rumored to be rich, she had expected Henry to provide a good life for her, yet despite the inheritance, she was ill-equipped to manage her affairs without a proper husband. Mr. Mason had intimated that Chauncey Bean was the master of a large plantation which he had the audacity to name Strathnaver, after the place of her childhood dreams. It was encumbant upon her to swallow her pride and seek to share this avenue of improvement with her husband. She would go to him. She told herself that it was for the nephews. Thus, worried and troubled, she took up her pen and pleaded for the "last vestage of hope" offered to her by Jack Mason.
"Mr. Mason," she wrote. "Abigail Vanderplank was buried today beside her husband's grave on the knoll overlooking Augustine creek. As she dearly loved him, I feel certain that it was her wish to lie beside him. Before your recent departure from Savannah, after all of the kindness which you afforded this family, you promised to help me. And to be fair, I humbly admit that you are indeed my last hope. If it pleases my husband, I should like to come to Strathnaver. Also, if it pleases you to apprentice out Willie and Hans Vanderplank, this kindness would be appreciated. Your obedient servant, Martha br>Thornton"
Chapter 31. The Raging Winter of 1765.
Jack Mason received Martha's letter in the dead of winter. After reading it, he set sail for Strathnaver where he found Chauncey sitting on the river porch with one leg cocked over the other, sipping a glass of wine from the West Indies, wearing a woollen coat and pair of riding boots. Except for several bales of cotton on the wharf under the shed roof, the last of the rice and cotton was on the high seas destined for Liverpool. He appeared to be relaxed and serenely content. The sound of Mason's boots caused him to stand and congratulate Mason for his splendid negotations with the Liverpool factoring agent. Chauncey pointed his finger down river.
"I know, I saw the ship as it made it turn in Pidgeon's Creek," Mason said.
"Well then, what is this commotion?"
Mason's face lost its color. He was deeply concerned about Martha but hesitated to remove the letter from his vest pocket.
Some years had passed since the death of Hans Vanderplank and his offer of help to Martha. After all, her inheritance was still his responsibility and he felt a pang of guilt that she was not enjoying the good life in Charleston, as was her husband. The whole idea of land acquisition and slaves had doubled in wealth due to Martha's meager inheritance.
"A post from Martha," he said cautiously."
"You mean the widow Thornton," Chauncey corrected with a particular sarcasm in his voice.
"Aye, the widow Thornton. Nevertheless, this message begs to be read."
"Well, give it to me!" Chauncey took the thin paper written in the old-fashioned gaelic style imprinted in ink and salted for preservation. The manner in which she crossed her t and the o; were heavily scripted and engendered a sense of urgency and desperation. "So unlike Martha to write permissively," he observed. "She always had a choke-hold on the chicken neck."
"And now she is the chicken?" Mason mused.
Chauncey grunted and stuffing the letter inside his pocket, arched one leg over the rock wall. His eyes fell on the strath of the river bubbling and washing rocks down stream. The stream is icying over a bit. We might get snow in these parts."
"I hear that weather hath caused wretched shipping conditions all along the eastern seaboard. It brought pneumonia to Mrs. Vanderplank. And I do believe that conditions prevent my fetching Mrs. Thornton in the sloop."
"You gave your word?" Chauncey asked.
"Yes, I promised to help her."
"I begged her to come with me to Charleston, but she did not want me!" Chauncey said wearily as his voice weakened momentarily.
"Yes, that was an insult to any man's ego," Mason sympathized.
"Charles and I put our sweaty blood into this place and for what? So that my wife could sit on her haunches and pass judgment over me?"
"She is your wife," Mason reminded gently."
"Therein lies my responsibility. I suppose that she wants to bring her nephews here to Strathnaver?"
"She will nought leave them behind. However, as it stands, Monsieur Givens needs a gameskeeper, trainer and jockey for his horses. I figure that Willie and Hannie could serve as apprentices."
The chief male servant of the household delivered a tray of hot tea to the porch. "This is my butler. The servants require training. I understand that Danner's wife is a splended cook and so will bring her inside to manage the kitchen. Martha could be a useful wife in this respect."
"Should I arrange her transportion then?"
Chauncey sighed deeply. "Ten long years are passed since I hath looked upon her face. Now that my house is complete, there is yet a great deal of work. I should very much like to have Donald Mackay at Strathnaver. He could refit the manor house and manage its affairs. I will be in my residence in town until April. Afterwards, I could greet Martha's entourage at Strathnaver."
Mason nodded. "I shall make the necessary arrangements."
"Eh Jack, I hath no inclination to entertain the nephews at Strathnaver."
Mason could be depended upon to engineer the transport of the family directly to his plantation dock, after first delivering the nephews to Greenfield Plantation. For this purpose he would hire the reliable Capt. Maurice and his brigantine.
Chapter 32. Martha Departs Savannah.
Capt. Maurice departed Charleston on a crisp spring day. He had a lovely view all along the river bed of wild rhodendrons blooming wildly in the scrub. His lumber cargo not subject to the British tax would encounter no problems entering the Savannah harbor and Mr. Mason had arranged the transportation of a family back to Charleston.
Martha awoke early that morning and packed her two dresses inside of the Henry Thornton chest as well as the silk fabric which she'd discovered hidden by the italians inside the filature. She had no clue of the costuming styles of the ladies of Charleston, but decided that the last vestages of the silk of James Oglethorpe silk would serve to fashion a dress fancy enough for any society. If there was one craft which Martha possessed, it was that she could sew a fine seam. The boys went sadly to their old house on Gloucester Street to bid farewell to the childhood they'd known with their parents. And Martha felt compelled to reveal the truth of her situation.
"Now is the time to tell you about Chauncey Bean. After the death of poor Mr. Thornton, I was married to Mr. Bean. He was a person without assets, scarcely able to provide for a wife or raise a family. Nevertheless, after the marriage we were soon separated for a number of years because of the war. Afterwards Mr. Bean decided to go to Charleston to make his fortune."
Donald who'd slept the night before in the shed room, overheard her attempted explanation, and interceded. His baggage consisted of several carpet bags, a flintlock rifle, and a collection of scottish knives and daggers. The letter which he'd received from Chauncey inviting him to Strathnaver was tucked inside his blouse. His fond memories of the war of his friendship with Chauncey and Charles spurned excitement in the room.
"And brave men they were, the Bean brothers, to endure the Spanish tyrants! Twas during the battle of the bloody marsh that they both took their injuries. And meself also, with this bowed leg! Any man worth his salt will fight. We should 'ere remember that tis the battle which builds the country and makes the man!"
As Donald finished relating some of his soldiering escapades, Capt. Maurice arrived. The perfect weather had afforded a good wind from Charleston but as he tied his sloop to the wharf and ascended the bluff, a patch of dirt blew across the market place. His crew of two men hustled the trunk and carpet bags of Martha onto his brigantine. Several neighbors were gathered at the pier to wave good-bye. As he shoved off from the wharf, the vessel widdled into the choppy waves of the Savannah River. The captain freed one sail from its post and observed the wind as it blew the thick linen canvas into full sail.
"We shall have a fast trip, ma'am, if the wind holds," Donald said.
Martha seemed nervous. "I wonder what should I expect from Mr. Bean? He was full of fury when I last saw him and he stormed from me house." She told Donald.
Donald looked at her sideways. Her cloak had a wind under it, and she held fast to her bonnet. "What did ye say to him to cause a fury?"
"He wanted me to go with him to Charleston and I refused. It was because he did nought honor his marriage agreement."
"You mean that silly thing about his having to love you? There warn't no time for it, was it? The war came. And then when he was returned, ye rejected him. A stinging blow to any man!"
"It just seemed that after Mr. Thornton provided little affection that Chauncey owed me. I must go to him now because there is nothing left for me in Savannah. And what shall I say to him after all of these years?"
"Oh, sister, ye need not worry, for he is a person of honor."
After several hours, Capt. Maurice steered the sloop into the several plantations. The size of the beautiful manor houses strung out along the river bank astounded Martha. "What splendid homes!"
"This be rice country, ma'am. Lots of tonnage on the river."
When Captain Mason weighed anchor at Greenfield plantation, she was astounded by its supreme beauty and lavish settings. Monsieur Givens' plank board wharfs stretching into deep water were a welcoming site to all approaching vessels, whether local or maritime. As Captain Maurice tied up, he noticed a supply ship unloading polished plate glass including sections of leadlights. Givens had some improvements to make inside the diningroom before the occasion of his annual breakfast and fox hunt which would occur in the fall of the year.
"You wait here whilst I take your nephews to the stables and introduce them to the master of Greenfield." Willie and Hannie were excited, and happily kissed their aunt farewell.
"You shall visit with them from time to tiime," Donald assured her. "I spoke with some of the crew whose opinion is that an apprenticeship at Greenfield is a privilege."
When he returned, she was satisfied that Mr. Mason had kept his word. Willie and Hannie appeared to be in good hands.
"Our next destination is Strathnaver plantation."
"I suppose that my husband is a yeoman of ample means?"
"Oh no, madam. Mr. Bean is thought to be one of the richest planters in this district!"
When finally they came to Pigeon Creek, the captain dropped the main sail to glide ashore. Ahead was a wharf and shed. As they neared the wharf, Maurice pointed to a mansion which seemed to over-shadow a sloping hill. As they approached, she observed a two-storied brick and mortor castle surrounded by rock walls and porches. "Donald! Look! "
"Why, I would recognize that castle anywhere! Tis Strathnaver! Aye," Donald uttered. "He built it just as I described it!"
"All I know is that he possessed a fierce determination to do it," Maurice said as ordered the last sail dropped and the brigantine glided to shore.
"It twas so easy," Donald remarked.
"That is because this strath is both wide and shallow, making for easy navigation ashore. Mr. Bean had a special instinct for this land."
"Aye," Donald said grinning.
Chauncey ascended the bank and met them at the wharf. He was dressed in casual clothes, a white linen cravat wrapped around his throat and tied loosely in front, frock coat with a slight fullness in the knee skirt and tan breeches and stockings. Despite the years which had passed between them, he was still quite handsome. He did not pay too much attention to Martha as he offered his arm to assist her from the brigantine. Instead, his attention was on Donald Mackay.
"My old friend!" He said happily. "
Donald laughed heartily while slapping the knee of his bowed leg. "Ye built it, just as I said!"
"I trust that you had a pleasant sail, my dear," he said to Martha.
"Yes, but pray tell me, why did you build the castle?"
"There are many reasons. Perhaps tis because of all those tales told to the battalions by Sgt. Donald Mackay. He spoke so affectionately of his childhood home, sharing many stories of Lord Reay. While we lay in the woods and on the trails, he spoke methodically of its design, including its dimensions. His tales stuck the imagination of the troops and described a place of delight and happiness. Twas his description of the ruins which made it come alive. His memories of the old brick walls and chimneys and rock walls became my ideas and during the fearful nights of waiting for the Spanish to attack, I learned that dream." At that moment, as they ascended the slope, Martha struggled to get her footing, but Chauncey held her firm. "You see," he said staring into her taunt features, "I did not have a Lord Reay, so took yours."
His words were disturbing, yet as her feet crunched upon clumps of wet spring soil, she recalled her own tender feelings for the ancient ruins. "It was only an ancient ruin," she said sternly. "We are very distantly related to Lord Reay, and no rank nor titles were 'ere passed down to us. My father was a fisherman, and his father before him."
"The landed gentry in these parts pay particular attention to people of high birth and hereditary titles."
Chauncey led her throughout the house, explaining the duties of various house servants. Then he led her up the steps of a grand staircase constructed from the local live-oak trees. Half way up was a platform containing a dresser and candelabra. "Such details as having this candelabra lit when it is night are details to be mindful of", he said lighting the candles. She paused to observe the steepness of the stairs and the narrow wooden panels upon the wall.
He opened the door to a bedroom with a fireplace and an adjoining ladies parlor. "This is your room", he said, "and a ladies parlor for your privacy. Tis a bit cool in the evening this time of year. Should you wish, I should have a fire lit."
She removed the shawl around her shoulders and folding it neatly placed it upon the bed.
"Ere it pleases ye," she murmured.
" Monsieur Givens will take the boys to Tinders race track tomorrow and observe how they handle his mares."
Chapter 33. Horsey.
Access to the Greenfield plantation was easily accomplished by river or the main road within three or four miles of Charleston. It was the nearest plantation to town and was constructed with the popular architecture of the day, viz: white doric columns, narrow brick chimneys and a porch and courtyard which faced the river. The scent of spring blossoms and white dogwood trees throughout the region were intoxicating to the flatboats, sloops and other vessels which progressed in and out of the city. After the wedding, Donald and Eleanor shared nuptial bliss in this grand country estate while Monsieur Givens entertained his friends in lavish surroundings. There were frequent house guests, parties, and fox hunts.
Soon after the marriage, Donald took the lead by assuming the management of Greenfield. The discovery that Monsieur Given's vast deficit budget to maintain a stable of thoroughbred horses as well as the gambling aspect of it, caused a complete restructuring. Nevertheless, he was up to the task because he wanted to prove to Monsieur Givens that earned money was sustainable. When Jthe able sons of Hans Vanderplank demonstrated expert horsemanship after a few short hours of their arrival, Givens made them masters, rather than apprentices. During his first hour in the stables, Willie had saddled the stallion Fighting Saug and given him a test run inside the paddock.
"These boys do not need apprentice training," he told Mason while observing Willie's control of the stallion, "for he is a natural jockey."
Hannie smiled. "Yes sir, on our aunt's farm, we gave many an hour to racing amongst ourselves."
"They are accustomed to hard work," Mason recalled.
Hannie then asked permission to ride one of the mares which Givens planned to race that afternoon. After mounting one of the roan mares, and a slow start, he dismounted and removed a rock from one of hoofs of the mare. "There is something tender in the hoof," he said, digging dirt out of the sole. Although he was too heavy to be a jockey, he seemed to possess veterinary skills.
Monsieur Givens was pleased. That afternoon both of the nephews placed in Tinder's race.
In the months which followed the younger sister Emily took a fancy to Willie. She made excuses to visit the stables. A mutual interest of thoroughbred horses seemed to ignite their passions. He would saddle Miss Emily's little mare and watch her trot away from the stables, down a lane, and across the wide open meadow. Then later would follow her into the woods The clandenstine friendship lasted throughout the summer without interruption.
"Miss Emily is the master's favorite daughter. Flirting with her will deliver trouble," Hannie warned.
"Even if she wants me to kiss her?"
"Have you kissed her?"
"No, but I shall, perhaps when she returns from her ride today."
"You could be punished for that."
"It will be worth it!"
"How would you ere be worthy of a daughter of the aristocracy?"
"She is not aristocracy."
"Well, close enough to it! And besides, isn't she promised to a gentleman?"
"Her french cousin does not arrive until winter.
Meanwhile, there is the summer. " Willie lowered his head and dropped his eyes. "I am well aware that I am nought good enough for Miss Emily, but what can I do about it"
"Nothing," Hannie said emphatically. "You can do nothing but stay in your place!"
The nephews trained the horses all summer, preparing for Mr. Tinder's autumn event. During the first week in October Jonathan Frye came to Greenfield to access the condition of the horses and set his odds. He had already observed how well Willie rode and felt certain that Monsieur Givens would raise the odds with a substantial bet. He came on a day when Willie was eagerly awaiting for Emily to cross the meadow at the usual place and then follow. But when she saw Frye at the stables, she took a jump over the row-hedge instead. Frye applauded. She returned to the stables, but Frye was not fooled. His suspicious nose could smell other people's secrets. While she dismounted and Willie rubbed down the horse, he scratched his beard thoughtfully, recognizing Willie as the bastard son of Chauncey. Trouble was brewing and he was going to have to sto it. Further, should he fail to handle this matter with shrewd delicately, his business with Monsieur Givens would suffer. The deceit had no end.
Chapter 34. The Red Lion.
The harvest crop was taken to the auction floor. The autumn had registered sudden rains and planters rushed to sell. When Chauncey arrived on Market Street, Mason had already bid in the freshest produce destined for London, including Chauncey's corn.
"No other bids came in, and the ship to Liverpool will soon weigh anchor," he told Chauncey. "However, despite the wretched corn, your account reflects a substantial profit this year. Good days are ahead of us. And Monsieur Givens is pleased with Mrs. Bean's nephews. You were quite right to put them at Greenfield."
Later, after the long exhausting hassle of a disappointing auction, Chauncey walked in the direction of his town residence where he planned to spend the evening alone, but first he enjoyed a casual stroll to the Red Lion. The sky displayed a clear panorama of blinking stars and a cooling west wind blew off the river. Perhaps Jack Mason had the story pegged, that good days were ahead. With a rather uplifted attitude, he entered the tavern and sat at a small table. But out of the corner of his eye saw a familiar face sagging with age and dissipation. The face laughed cynically as its fat lips guzzled down a tankard of ale and its liver-spotted hands scooped up a draw of cards. The other rocking-drunk scoundrels at the table were also familiar. It was Jonathan Frye and his friends from the run-away Scotch Club. Frye played a hand or two, then, stood to his feet and declared himself broke.
"No more tonight," he drawled. "Ye picked me clean!"
"Ye'll get more coppers after ye trick Givens out of it on Saturday," someone laughed.
"Oh no," he protested, noticing Chauncey Bean, "Me dealings with that gentlemen ehre circumspectly honest and fair."
Then he kicked his chair away from the table and stood to his feet. "Ne'er mind, there be a welcome friend!" Then he stumbled across the room and plopped down at the table with Chauncey. "Ye ehre me friend, foresworn under oath!"
"Why do you speak of oaths now?" Chauncey asked in an irritated voice.
"Because the time is ripe for ye to do us both a favor."
"What is your meaning, Jonathan Frye?"
"I hear that the widow Thornton is at Strathnaver."
"Careful of your tone concerning my wife," he warned.
"Well, she is nought a lady, although rumor has it that she is descended from a lord!" She slapped his knew and roared in laughter.
"You are quite annoying, Frye. What is your business with me?"
"Tis our business, my friend, for we ehre both linked to the profit of the Given's thoroughbreds."
"My brother Charles handles his own affairs."
"Aye, whilst ye own deceitful past breeds trouble."
"What do you mean?"
"If you had left your bastard in Savannah, all would be well. However, with him poking Miss Emily under the nose of Monsieur Givens, your reputation faces scandalous ruin."
"What are you doing, taking book at Greenfield?"
"I have regular business there at the stables, where it is easy to observe young Willie as he flirts with Miss Emily. All those at the stables know that he sneaks around. Serious trouble is brewing. That girl will expose certain things which the Givens need not be privy to. "
Chauncey's face turned red with anger. "I would like to ask you something, Mr. Frye. That time I write a letter to Abigail Vanderplank and asked you to deliver it. Did you do so, or no?"
Frye grinned sourly and lowered his voice. "All those years ago? Of course I delivered ye stinking message, despite the fact that the constable was on me heels. "
"Well? Was there an answer?"
"Her words were no reply."
"I do not believe you."
"How well I recall that woman as she held ye squealing bastard in her arms and her husband was close at hand. So I could nought linger to discuss it further. However, I do know that Hans Vanderplank was a kind man and loved his wife dearly. You see how information bounds? Meanwhile, ye bastard son flirts with danger and Emily is hell-bent on defying her father, perhaps entertaining ideas of eloping with that bastard."
"That cannot be allowed."
"You will be ruined," Frye warned.
"What can I do?"
"Ye can trust your old friend to codger up the solution. Now listen to me. Monsieur Givens has two mares he wants trained for Tinder's maiden race in the spring. I am in a position to persuade him to send the boys to Tybee Island for the winter, where they can strengthen the mares' fetlocks in the surf. If Monsieur Givens can keep this secret all winter, then he can race two horses to his advantage. Meanwhile, I hear that the cousin of Emily from Marseilles is enroute to the colonies to make the grand proposal. I expect that the cold season keeping everyone indoors will present opportunities for the baron to win her heart."
"And when Willie returns to Greenfield, she will be wed."
"Yes, she will be wed and a resident of France. As rumor has it, the baron recently inherited a wealthy province in Marseilles."
Chauncey sighed. "Yes!"
"There is more. I need to get some profit from this. Remember, my business is to place book for the horses which requires a certain agile shrewdness. But it also means that I must protect Monsieur Givens from his inclination to bet on his own horses. The matter at hand also ooncerns Charles. As ye are no doubt aware, your brother is a major player in the gambling and he frequently guesses correctly. When he does, I loose. And Monsieur Givens blames me for it."
"What do you want?"
"I want Charles' complicity and his agreement to quit wagering on the horses."
Chauncey smiled to himself. Charles' meticulous attention to the Greenfield bookkeeping presently had his attention. And Charles would agree that, considering the flirtation, he must usher in a timely and proper marriage. Emily must consumate her father's plans to marry the viscount Hollander. Charles , the devoted husband and truly in love with Eleanor, would steer away trouble. And Eleanor already expected their first child. "I think that can be arranged."
Chauncey left the tavern confident that his brother would do anything to prevent trouble and avert the scandal.
The seasonal rains had already begun and a sudden rain shower poured down upon his head. After awhile, his clothing was drenched, but he did not mind because he was a little tipsy from drinking a tankard of foaming ale.
The Mickeroy carriage with its brightly painted coat-of-arms on the doors stopped beside him in the road. Harriett opened the door and motioned for him to step inside, which he did quickly. As he shuffled his wet waist-coat to avoid wetting her, he noticed the frigid expression of her eyes and the resistance in her body.
"What is wrong?" He asked.
"You are drunk, sir!"
"And, there is a bitter taste of today's events in my mouth!"
"You deserve it. It is rumored that your wife is at Strathnaver."
"Yes, so the story goes."
"You did not warn me of her return."
"No," he answered.
"Is that why you avoided me?"
"Yes, but moreso for other complicated reasons that have nothing to do with you, my dear."
"My late husband, Sir Gilbert Mickleroy, " she said slowly and deliberately, "always advised that it is far better to have an arranged marriage because love is so troubling, and engenders heartache."
"My problems hath nothing to do with my feelings for the wife. Because you see, although she assumes the domestic duties of a wife, she is content that I am frequently absent from the home. It is not about her. Surely, baroness, you of all persons, can understand that I married the woman for her property!"
"Then what is it that she wants from you?"
"She want this!" Chauncey said, pressing his body against hers and kissing her passionately.
The carriage stopped in front of his house. Although he attempted to exit the carriage with the flare of an exquisite bow to the baronness, he stumbled. He felt the sting of her disapproval.
"I will visit you on Wednesday afternoon, as usual, my lady. In the meanwhile, please try to restrain your jealousy for a woman whom I do nought love!"
Chauncey slept late into the morning and was wakened by Mr. Mason poundiing on the front door. "Come on," he nagged, "If you want that bottom land at Goose Creek, we best get out there!"
"Is it still raining?"
"No, but tis shivering cold."
Chapter 36. Donald.
Despite his new surroundings, Donald's memories were haunted with frustration and weariness. "A man must store up his good days, else, when bad times come, he'll 'ave nothing to draw upon," he used to say.
Yet Martha's disdainment and resentment that it was Chauncey who built Strathnaver was somewhat tempered by a brother who loved it dearly. For him, the coming alive of the ancient castle on the American soil was a soothing medicine to his spirits.
His first vision of Mackay coat-of-arms displayed in the dining hall and below it, the anchored his broad sword, caued his face to flush with pride.
"Me broad sword!" He said, carefully easing it from its sheath and admiring the thin cutt of its blade and the blued steel basket handle, an ageless pride of every highland clansman. Tears came to his eyes, and, hugging Martha and Chauney, said: "Thank ye for perserving me highland memories."
Martha prepared a special dinner for the Givens' kin, which included their house guests, Sir Robert Home and the prospective fiancee of Emily, the viscount Hollander from Marseilles.
Also, so that she would not be too plainly dressed amid her formal introduction to the family of Givens, Martha fashioned for herself a gown in the Oglethorpe silk. Her gown was a smokey gray cloth, with tiny tatting stitches sewen into the collar. And resting upon her shoulders was the dull woven wool of the Mackay tartan. Martha's brown hair was combed and set in braids and pinned with decorative gold combs. Her face was shiny clean from its recent shrubbing and the color in her lips accentuated a plain, wholesome look. But most of the attention went to the perfectly straight seams of the gown. The guests arrived well before Chauncey found his way home through a drizzling ice storm. She entertained her new relatives in the solar where they were served hot toddy in front of a roaring fire in the hearth.
The silk gown of Martha garnered no envy, because her mannerisms projected a sweet, motherly image. Upon witnessing this combination of loyalty to the English and Scots in the succor of her gown, the heart of Monsieur Givens softened somewhat towards her. She spoke convincingly of she and Donald's questionable heritage from Lord Reay, leaving her guests with the correct impression that the Charleston replica of the castle of Strathnaver as no more than a childhood memory.
"We would be honored if you would visit Greenfield plantation," Monsieur Givens said to her. "You must see the painted designs on the lead windows and the french architectural styling of the grand hall. Do come in the Spring for the hunt breakfast."
"Yes, do!" Eleanor agreed. "It is too late for a hunt now, but you may come in the spring!"
While they waited for Chauncey, Donald drew the guests into the dininghall to show off the razor-sharp cut of his scottish blade. The vision of the family crest struck Sir Hume's attention. Being of Scottish origin himself, he recognized the crest and it sufficed as evidence that they were relatives of the present-day Lord Reay of the Scottish peerage. He engaged Martha in a conversation of the highlander's avid support of the Stuart king. Meanwhile, they observed the outside windowsills as they filled with a white powdery snow.
"Your husband must be stranded somewhere."
"Oh no," Donald said. "Chauncey is a rugged lad. The three of us (indicating himself, Charles and Chauncey) were with General Oglethorpe at the battle of Bloody Marsh. 'Though he be wounded and suffering, he dragged himself outa the swamp to fight one more hour, and then another," he exaggerated. Charles grinned. Once again, the tales were spun.
Chapter 36. The Fox Hunt.
The winter passed. The viscount, having recently inherited an estate and anxious to return to Marseilles, proposed marriage to Emily Givens. At Christmas Emily was persuaded to set the date prior to the popular Givens fox hunt in spring. The wedding ceremony occurred during the first week in March at the Round Church where the mother of Emily was buried. She was the last child born to Mrs. Givens and was but a tottler and vaguely remembered the funeral. Thus, her journey down the aisle in that church brought sentimental tears to her eyes, yet she experienced the strength of her father's arm. His selection of the baron was well planned and executed. The sentimentaility also exposed the excitement of her romance with Willie the stable boy as she remembered the sensation of his lips and tongue as it washed inside her mouth. Her heard pounded as the memory of this thrill gave pause to the fact that she had never experienced that same sensation with baron Hollander.
"Everything will be all right," her father whispered as he delivered the trembling girl to the groom, then watched as she gave the marriage vows.
Afterwards, the viscount swooped her up for a honeymoon onboard a vessel bound for France. Monsieur Givens felt the regret of losing his youngest daughter in a single day, and kissed her tenderly before they boarded. It was a sad event for Eleanor who would sorely miss her youngest sister.
"Now there will be but two of our family left in a country whose future is uncertain," Eleanor said weeping. "All that taught about patriotism and freedom. And Charles joining Colonel Jenning's militia."
But Monsieur Givens had arranged his own particular brand of excitement and upon returning to Greenfield, found a message from Jonathan Frey that Willie and Hannie were enroute from Savannah with the reminder "give heed to me warning" . The hunt breakfast was only two weeks distant and then, Mr. Tinder's famous horse race. The event would be a major topic amongst the planters at the breakfast and the warning was not to discuss the training.
"The breakfast will entertain sixty persons, including Mrs. Bean," he told the butler.
"Be certain that Mrs. Bean, a lady of scottish bearings, is seated to my right and next to Sir Robert Hume."
The hunt breakfast also represented a general acceptance of Chauncey Bean and his wife into the family. As Martha observed the white columns supporting the roof of the porch and the fancy designs of the lead windows, she began to feel uncomfortable in her surroundings.
They were greeted by a butler dressed in the finest of servant attire, a white lace shirt with a bowed cravat around his neck. Their images were reflected in the ornate accruements of a large oak commode curved sabot de biche legs and a large baroque mirror. Although there were other ladies not wearing the riding clothes that day, the texture of the Oglethorpe silk of her gown paled in its shadowry reflection. Above the commode, the ceiling moldings were in low relief, the smiling heads of fauns and scallop shells. Motifs of exotic peacock feathers and flowers adorned the walls and the dining hall was decorated with the ostentatious furnishings of Louis XIV. Her place setting was conspicuously between that of Monsieur Givens and Sir Robert Hume while Chauncey was at the other end of the able. She was seated in an ornately carved chair made of walnut wood and the fabric stitched in the pattern of the Givens' crest. She was overwhelmed, so said nothing. Sir Hume nodded politely and the first course of fruit and smoked meats was served. To his left was the reserved face of Harriett Mickleroy.
Hume had some vague recollections of Scottish history from the political background of his own family. It was these vague memories of seeing his father wear the black robes of the chancery court which ultimately led to his own appointment to that positin by the governor. But after years of philosophying upon the way things should be, he finally settled down to accepting the political climate which had brought him to America. His eminence the royal governor was seated at the table, one who had amassed wealth and influence without self-achievement, but simply because he conformed to the policies of the king. Monsieur Givens presumed to discuss the philosophical portion of his Scottish past and as Donald Mackay was also present, received an amusing version of the brave battles of the highlanders.
Sir Hume quietly acknowledged the presence of the plainly obvious Scottish woman who wore not a brooch on her dress nor a ring on her finger. Perhaps it was this feature which first drew his attention or the Scottish gaelic tongue of the highlands Whatever it was, there existed an affinity between those two souls.
After the breakfast, Sir Hume was good enough to escort Martha outside to the porch. Martha's primary interest in the hunt was to acquire a glimpse of her nephews as they walked Monsieur Givens' fine thoroughbred horse along a foot path from the stables to the front of the mansion. She keenly observed Hannie and Willie's expert handling of the horses and polite manners.
Givens selection was the black stallion, Fighting Saug. The thoroughbred was infrequently raced, however, because of his splendid breeding, was about to be placed at stud. Hannie held tight to the reins of the skirmish horse. "He is skiddish today, sir", he warned Givens.
"Did you work him out this morning?"
"Well then, I can ride my old friend," Givens said as he petted the long neck and silky mane. He mounted proudly and gaving Hannie the signal to release the fox, took a leaping gallop into the road and across the first hump. Then Hannie released the hounds. Donald quickly mounted his mare, saluted Martha, then followed Monsieur Givens and Charles Bean into the wood after the yelping hounds.
A groom waited to give a leg up to Harriett Mickleroy and her friends. Among the group was the royal governor, who waited for her to take the lead. Sir Hume had a stiffness in his hips and was slow to mount. Chauncey's attention was drawn to Martha standing on the porch beside Eleanor. His instincts were to bid her goodbye, but the baroness deliberately took pause when she observed that he had not yet mounted. "The baroness waits. Get a leg up, Mr. Bean," someone said.
"Who is that lady?" Martha asked Eleanor.
"The baroness Mickleroy."
"Why does everyone wait for her to start?"
"Because she is the ranking aristocrat, even above the royal governor."
"Do you mind so much that Charles is not an aristocrat?"
"I dearly love Charles. Twas my father who needed convincing, but I think that he is rather pleased that his son-in-law hath a passion for managing the affairs of Greenfield, and especially his precious thoroughbred horses."
Meanwhile, the hounds followed the scent of the fox deep into the woods, a goodly distance from the first jumping fence. Fighting Saug was up for the task of the chase as he maintained a fast gallup under the low branches of sprawling live-oak trees until finally, one of the branches knocked Monsieur Givens from his saddle. Donald's gelding was slow to catch up and when he did so, found the old gentleman sprawled on the ground. The sight was a daunting embarrassment for Monsieur Givens.
"Ere ye all right, sir?"
"Is anyone with you?" Givens asked.
"No sir, but Charles Bean is nought too far afield from us. Tell me, did ye tree the fox?"
"Of course not!" Givens answered in an exasperated tone as he attempted to stand on his feet, and failed.
"What be it? The leg?" Donald asked.
"Tis but a sprained ankle," Givens answered as Donald assisted him onto his horse. "Even so, Donald Mackay, I do not wish it told."
Chauncey circled around behind the hunt and caught up with Harriett. She had fallen conspiciously behind the others attempting to corner the fox.
"Want to go down to the creek and talk?" He asked.
"I suppose that you plan to apologize for all of those Wednesdays you skipped our visit."
"No, my lady, nevertheless, in lieu of the present political environment I find it necessary to quit the romance."
"Quit the romance?" She mocked.
"But there is good reason! It is quite apparent that your loyalties lie with His Majesty, King George III, whilst I subscribe to the truths and freedoms penned by Mr. Thomas Paine." He restrained himself from disclosing the fact that he was already a militiaman actively skirmishing with the british. "And, because my wife is returned home," he added.
"The wife that you do not love?"
"Please do not mock me for I am indebted to Martha for her long suffering sacrifice."
Harriett laughed and rode off.
Chapter 37. The Race.
The Vanderplank boys returned from Tybee Island in a timely fashion. The two roan mares were in excellent condition and ready to run in one of the largest races in the county, an event which was sponsored by the Governor and his cohorts offering a purse of 50 pds. to the winner. Monsieur Givens' triumph was the fact that he had successfully managed to keep the secret training to himself as well as to warn Charles Bean not to take book with Jonathan Frye.
Chauncey, also excited about the event, arrived at Tinders in ample time to examine the horse flesh and decide upon a modest wager. His working closely with Mr. Mason had enlarged his awareness of the importance of a pound penny. It was a crisp day in April and the road and ditches were chunk full of a dry, sandy soil. Chauncey wore a pair of leather gloves and a hat with a wide brim to prevent dust from flying into his eyes. The Bean brothers had learned certain equestrian skills since removing to Charleston where the backroads were equally as important as the river. As the approached the Belles Ferry plantation the likes of Thomas Jenkins, saddled and horsed, joined the ride.
"Good morning," Colonel Jenkins said cheerfully.
"Do you mind if I ride with you to Tinders?"
"Please do, sir."
"Tis up ahead in the bend in the road, I figure, say, about 30 minutes."
"You been in this country long?" Chauncey asked.
"Twas born here. And you, sir?"
"Oh, I was among those who came from London to settle Savannah with General Oglethorpe. "
"Oh, ye must be that fellow who married the Scottish princess."
Donald chuckled. "Me sister is scarcely a princess!"
"Word gets around, ye know, and has a way of becoming established fact."
Then Jenkins proceeded to tell his story. His grandparents were supporters of Martin Luther and left England to escape religious persecution. Although their land patent had its creeks and ponds, the site for Belles Ferry was selected for its navigation along the Cooper River. The family was active in the political affairs of the county and after the death of his father, Jenkins was elected as a Colonel in the local militia. A rugged individualist, he taught his militia the finite skills of the frontiersman and the art of accurate markmanship.
"Without the land, there is no opportunity. Tis the land, you know, which is the backbone of the colony," Jennings offered, "else we would still be poor Englishmen!"
"Yes sir, Belles Ferry is a fine plantation," Chauncey agreed.
"I admired your budding cotton bolls whilst we came along the road."
"Now this land lacks fertility and a racing path is about all that it is good for," Jenkins said as they approached the fences and paddocks of Mr. Tinders place.
Chauncey and Donald dismounted and walked towards an opening in the trees where a huge crowd was assembling. Givens stood waiting for his two mares to be brought up to the starting line. The faces of Willie and Hannie were serious as they proudly led the mares to the starting point, walking erect in their new jockey uniforms sewn by their aunt. Hannie turned his attention to the mares, carefully examining the hoofs for debris. They would both ride today.
Chauncey and Donald followed Givens and his mares to the starting line. "Turns out that the wintering in Savannah was a good idea," Chauncey said admiringly. "Good luck, sir."
Givens smiled without answering. He'd spent all morning at the stables eye-balling the competition and only moments earlier placed a rather risky wager with Jonathan Frye and now his eyes were dancing with joy and excitement. Jenkins, caught up in the excitement of the moment hurried to make his wager. But Charles held back.
Fourteen high-strung horses were brought to the red line drawn in the sand as the starting point. Givens hands jerked nervously as he officially gave the reins to each boy. Then the gun fired and tiny beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He exuded a steady stream of exhilaration as his body became wedged in a crowd of chattering gamblers accepting side bets. When the names of his mares were not mentioned, he appeared agitated, but was nudged by Frye.
"Your secret was well kept, sir, else their money would drive down the odds."
The Givens mares had a fast start along the narrow track which led into the woods, but fell back at the turn and went unseen for awhile. Then, as the first rush of horses emerged from the woods and commenced digging their hoofs into the dirt path for the last leg of the race, Willie was spotted making the turn and applying the lash. And then his clever endurance training in the surf of the ocean took effect as he shifted his weight to lean well over the horn of the saddle while his knees dug hard the signal into the belly of the mare. The last few moments of the race brought a storm of excitement as certain horses lost their wind and fell back, while others were driven to the front of the pack.
"I cannot bear to watch this," Mr. Jenkins declared.
"Is that boy going to catch the pack, or nought?"
"Willie is a strong-willed lad," Chauncey said, then forgetting himself, murmured. "Just like his father!"
"But where is the other boy?" Jenkins asked.
"Hannie is in the rear."
Givens groaned. He had bet on both mares. During the last few minutes of the race, Willie made his move and crossed the finish line! Mr. Givens face was flushed and he was given to faint, but Chauncey held his arm firmly. "You won!" He said.
"What about Hannie?"
"He did not place!"
Jenkins did some quick math. "Nevertheless, ye ere left with a little profit, sir."
Givens smiled. For the first time, he had come out ahead.
During the 1760s and up until the American revolutionary war, cotton became king in the Carolinas. But the tobacco crops in Virginia were fast depleting the soil of itsnutrients and Charleston became an attraction to planters who were moving South in search of good soil. Yet it was necessary to allow the Carolina soil to lie "fallow" for two years before replanting. More land was required for planters to meet market demands of the West Indies companies. The use of American slaves was fundamental to growing cash crops which were exported to Europe. European goods, in turn, were used to purchase African slaves, which were then brought on the sea lane west from Africa to the Americas. In this respect, the Baroness Harriett Mickleroy was also touched with prosperity as her sugar plantations in Barbadoes amassed a great fortune.
The long-lasting prosperity assumed its own mindset and imprinted the idea that it would never end. The colonists went about acquiring more land to give room to the white flowering cotton spreading across the world's trading lanes. By the middle of the era, Chauncey had acquired several more plantations along the Great Ogeechee River flowing from South Carolina into Georgia.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the colonists threw some tea into the sea, refusing to pay the tariff and petitions were circulated in Charleston and Savannah protesting the tariff. As more rebellions followed stirring up more trouble, Chauncey, Charles and Donald joined the local militia and were frequently called into duty by Colonel Jenkins to protect the colonists against the gathering forces of His Majesty's troops. Sent to collect the tax and put down rebellions, the presence of the red-coats caused secret meetings on both sides of the argument, patriots and loyalists. During the summer of 1775, as cotton painted the landscape white and the countryside was groomed with its plants and flowers, trade markets all along the Charleston harbor were blockaded by British ships. Jack Mason, unable to ship goods abroad, complained to Sir Hume. But Sir Hume's position in the chancery court had not the power to resolve issues.
"Problems lie ahead," he predicted, "for His Majesty will not relent, nor the colonists."
"What are you saying, Sir Robert?"
"I am saying that war is gathering its fury and landing on these shores."
"So nothing is to be done about the confiscated cargo?"
"As we speak, His Honor, the onset of war is signalled by his honor, the Royal Governor as he prepares to return to England. Nothing is to be done, sir."
Chapter 39. 1775. The Declaration of Independence.
At the onset of the Boston Tea Party and a petition which circulated throughout the colonies against Great Britain, the royal governor of South Carolina returned to England along with other high-ranking officials. Sir Robert Hume was among those less-prominent officials left behind to tend the affairs of the colony, but as the colonists rebelled and there was a noticeable rallying of local militias, the doors to all public offices were locked.
Monsieur Givens was attending a dinner party in the Mickleroy mansion when they received word that a Declaration of Independence had been signed in Philadelphia. To that momnt he was in great spirits, laughing and enjoying himself that one of his little mares had recently won first place. Several days earlier he heard that his son-in-law, Charles Bean, was riding with the militia at a place called Cane Break. The message was from his daughter, Eleanor, who had not seen her husband in two days. It was his first notice of the active participation of Charles with the patriots, a secret kept from local loyalists. After the meal, he read the letter carefully, but dared not to speak of it.
The division of families opened pandora's box. For it was in this box that irreversible changes occurred. They did not realize it at first, but whereas society had dwelt upon a distinctive difference of the classes, it promptly moped itself into two factions: patriots and loyalists.
South Carolinians declared independence from the crown on the steps of the Exchange. The division assumed its permanence and not long afterwards, the church steeples in Charleston became targets for British warships. The rebels countered by painting the steeples black to blend with the night sky. A Constitutional Convention convened while British ships delivered troops to the American shores.
There was large support of the king in Charleston with Lady Harriett Mickleroy leading the faction against the patriots.
Essentially, those of aristocratic origins clung to the old ways, while farmers and planters were patriots. Surrounded by all of this activity, the baronness and her friends strove to preserve their way of life. At first, it simply appeared to be the scholarly differences between political figures, but after the Virginian and North Carolinian patriots burned Norfolk and captured Loyalists at Great Canebrake, South Carolina, everyone chose sides. After this event, Harriett and her father, Sir Hume, as well as Jean du Maurier Givens conserved their wealth by forming a tight group of loyalists who seemingly ruled the city and conspired to assist the red coats in gaining access to the city. The differences of opinion between the loyalists and patriots magnified. Meanwhile, Chauncey, actively patroling the region for redcoats, was elected Captain of the Jenkin's militia.
Chapter 40. December 22. Battle of Cane Break.
The Continental army recruited patriots to serve three-month-terms while local militias were on active patrol of certain districts. Such service was seasonal to afford the planting and harvesting of crops.
Thus, while Charles and Eleanor were at Greenfield plantation, monsieur Givens maintained his residence in the city where he could network with other loyalists. But the secret group had already decided that an attack of Lord Cornwallis was eminent and that Greenfield plantation, with its mooring facilities and livery stables, would provide headquarters and housing to british officers. Charles was with the militia and unavailable for decision-making. Thus, committed to the cause and concerned for his family, Givens took a bold step to remove Eleanor and her three children to Marseilles, France.
"I fear that Lord Cornwallis will redirect his northern campaign to that of Southern provinces, " he wrote, hoping that his letter would reach Charles in the field. "Therefore, I took the precaution of booking passage for Eleanor and the children to Marseilles, to dwell there until after the war."
Meanwhile,, almost as he wrote, the known leaders of the loyalists faction, in order to avoid arrest, escaped into Cherokee country.
On a chilly December morn in 1775 Colonel Jenkins rode with the militia into the upcountry to meet with Colonel Richardson at Hollingsworth Mill. Chauncey and Donald saddled up early that morning and were soon joined by Charles and two new members of the regiment, Willie and Hannie Vanderplank. The nephews possessed a certain enthusiasm for the adventure and willingly participated in skirmishes, however, were cautioned by Charles. "I believe that my father-in-law is at his town residence, but should we find him in the company of these men, we must protect him."
From the mill, they marched nearly twenty five miles into the upcountry along the rocky Reedy River. Their purpose was to arrest the leaders of the Loyalist party who were encamped on Cherokee land. A great dense forest of sugar cane lay ahead. Colonel Richardson sent scouts into the great cane brake to locate the camp. When they returned, Charles conferred with Colonel Jenkins.
"Is Monsieur Givens with the leaders?" Charles asked.
On the morning of the 22nd they surprised and captured the band, taking them back to Charleston to face charges of sedition. It was an exciting maneuver for the nephews to escort the prisoners to the Exchange.
"The militia shall assemble at dawn at the usual place," Jenkins announced. "Company dismissed!"
Chauncey carefully avoided being seen near Battery Row. The escalating war placed enemies everywhere. There were rumors that the British were attacking port cities in the North and he felt certain that the next attack was planned for Charleston. Although he'd kept his militia activities secret from Martha, she had to be forewarned.
Upon reaching home, he quickly removed his militia clothes and scabbard to the Thornton trunk at the foot of the bed. Then he pryed a board loose from the floor and carefully removed a hidden parchment.
Martha was seated near a war fire in the ladies parlor with her needle work. Her head was cast downward as she worked a needle through a sheath of cotton cloth on her lap. Although she paused momentarily to note the tenseness in his body as he walked across the room, she completed a row of fine stitches before speaking.
"I hear that the young men of the county are joining the Continentals. Is this also true of my nephews?" She asked.
"No, Willie and Hannie are presently in the South Carolina Militia."
"Will you inform me when they do?"
"But they are far too young to be involved in this fight!"
"Martha," he said, resting his hand gently on her shoulder, "your nephews were thrilled with their part in the capture. Tis 1775. They are grown men now."
"Yes, I suppose they are," she grumbled. "But then if that is true, then you should not be thinking of yourself as a soldier."
"Today I helped to capture some of the most prominent loyalist leaders in these parts and take them to the Exchange," he said nervously. "My greatest fear was that Monsieur Givens was amongst them."
She stopped sewing. "What of Monsieur Givens and Sir Hume?"
"They are safe for now. Luckily, this bunch were the nes who recently fled into Cherokee country. I went with Colonel Jenkin's militia to fetch them back. Also, Charles and Hannie and Willie."
"And me brother Donald? What of Donald?"
"On the way home we saw the camp of the Continentals near Sullivan Island. Donald headed in that direction."
"So he is gone!" She started another row of stitches. "What is the world coming to? Even me aging brother clamors to get in the fight? And what happens to me? Shall I sit here in me parlor hoping that all is well?"
"You are in the struggle as much as we."
"You must prevent the Red Coats from burning Strathnaver. There is something important which you must do," he said, showing her the parchment. "Here is a deed to Strathnaver plantation signed by King George III. Should the British capture Charleston, they may attempt to burn the manor house and rob us of our chattels and livestock. You must prevent that by showing them the signature of the kingon this deed to prove that the land is ours."
She signed deeply.
"The burden of protecting our properties is upon you. There is nowhere else to go."
"We could go to Savannah."
"No. The British destroy everything in their path. Martha, may I please remind you that occupation means destruction!"
Donald entered the room. He was wearing the tartan skirt and an old pair of woollen socks. He had his own sense of prejudice against the ruthless british and recounted the Battle of Culloden to his sister. "It was during the Jacobite rebellion when the british took the Mackay stronghold at Culloden. Aye, they took many lives. Afterwards, their patrols continued to seek out those who continued to support the pretender to the throne. Aye, the Mackays, MacDonalds, MacIntoshes, were subject to search and seizure. When first I laid me eyes on this country, I could not speak of happiness, for me heart longed for the high cliffs of Loch and the salmon swimming against the tide of the fertile strath. Oh, sister, how I wept thinking of how the red coats took the homes of our dear friends. Now they would rob us of this Strathnaver! That is why have the broad sword in me belt. Why I took it from the mantle."
Chapter 41. June of 1776. Battle of Sullivan Island.
Hannie and Willie caught up with William Moultrie and his regiment ahead of the arrival of Sir Henry Clinton's fleet of ships in the harbor.
Clinton attempted to take Fort Moultrie, but was caught at low tide and several of his vessels were stuck in sandbars. Also, when his fleet fired cannonballs, the explosives failed to penetrate the fort's unfinished, yet thick palmetto log walls. The British had depended upon local loyalists to attack the town from behind. As it turned out, locals were too poorly organized and after Sir Henry Clinton failed to take Charleston, were fearful of being tared and feathered. When the British lost their first opportunity to capture Charleston they also lost some of the battles in the vicinity. This precipitated the battle going Northward as Lord Cornwallis presumed to capture Fort Lee from General Nathaniel Greene, which resulted in a general retreat of the Continental Army. This success enabled the british to control the Hudsn River.
Two years later during the winter of 1778 the British also managed to capture the port city of Savannah. It was daunting news for Martha who thought of her Bull Street house as a possible refuge. But any plans which she might have had were thwarted when the British spent the rest of the war in Savannah. If Donald was correct, the survival of Savannah was bleak.
Still on maneuvers in the neighborhood of Charleston, the british were handily defeated by Major General Moultrie at Port Royal Island, followed by another defeat at Kettle Creek in Georgia. After such valiant battles and feeling rather secure with the patriot armies so close, the patriots foolishly bragged that Lord Cornwallis dare not fire on Charleston again. However, later that year when the patriots attempted to retake Savannah, that struggle went down in defeat.
While the Bean brothers and the nephews skirmished around Charleston, no one knew the whereabouts of Donald Mackay. He had not chosen the three-month enlistments, rather was in the war for the duration. That is, until black clouds of war loomed over the city. It was May 12th of 1780.
That day was like any other lazy spring day in Charleston. There had been a good rain and the dogwood trees and azaleas bloomed profusely in its striking array of colors and rows of yellow jonquils. The sweet smell of budding magnolias permeated the air. And there was no presence of soldiers on the streets. This was the day that Charles and Chauncey would join the Continentals. But only after the English fleet was spotted in the channel in a fierce battle to take the city.
Colonel Jenkins rallied his militia from the upcountry and when the news came, they rode hard and fast to join the battle. The site of the white sails of the British fleet sailing into the harbor and Sir Henry Clinton as he blasted from his flag ship, put to task Colonel Moultrie's regiments . Donald Mackay was in the heat of battle with his South Carolina regiments while Moultrie fired to prevent the British from landing. But after the passing of several hours, the redcoats swallowed up the streets and pushed the patriots into retreat.
"Did ye hear me, lad? Call the retreat!" Jenkins screamed.
Chauncey frowned. "I can stand my ground," he said stubbornly.
"Did you hear me, Chauncey? " Jenkins yelled.
"I called the Retreat! Your orders are to prevent the redcoats from capturing the stable of horses at Greenfield! Quick now! You and your brother hurry to Greenfield and catch up with us later on the Waxhaws!"
Sir Henry Clinton had seized control of Charleston. The occupation was on.
Chapter 42. The Hinterland.
"Monsieur Givens managed to get a note to me earlier that Eleanor and the children arrived safely in Marseilles. That leaves the manor house empty for plunder. Nevertheless he should be grateful that we are saving his thoroughbreds," Charles said justifying the confiscation into the rebel army.
There were fifteen horses still in the stables. Chauncey and Charles quickly saddled the lot of them and tied a train of ropes, except for several newborn foals which would follow behind.
"Oh! The munitions!" Charles ran up to the house. His first words to the servants were that they were freed and he urged them to run rather than be captured by the british.
"Should I see you again after this war ends and there is question concerning your emanicipation, I shall hold true to my promise."
When he returned with some bullets, Chauncey had linked the thoroughbreds with a rope chain. Chauncey and Charles maneuvered the horses along the Charleston road, choosing an old rut road out of the city. It was dark and they could scarcely see anything save the British soldiers busily cleaning cannon and setting up tents around the city. A path of trees were slashed by Colonel Jenkin's militia, pointing the direction to the Waxhaws.
They caught up by mid-morning. Colonel Jenkins declared that the plan was to join the continentalsvand extended his invitation to the spritely men who had narrowly escaped capture.
While this was happening, Jean DeMaurier Givens, one of those who'd sworn the oath to King George II, was meeting with the baronness and others in the home of Sir Hume. Hefty concessions were demanded of them. For one, as suspected, Monsieur Givens was compelled to offer his Greenfield plantation as headquarters for British officers. Givens, immensely uncomfortable at the prospect of change, swallowed a big lump in his throat. At least he had sent his daughter away. "Later, after the war, we shall unravel it all," the letter to Charles had promised. But Charles knew that it was unlikely that either of them would be comfortable with the outcome. For one would be a subject of his majesty, and the other, a traitor. The last glimpse he'd had of his wife was after the battle of Cane Brake and then he'd scarcely had a moment to kiss his dear wife farewell . "Eleanor," he whispered, "my dearest wife!"
"Willie and Hannie are with the Continentals. I separated out the little roan mares of Monsieur Givens for them. I think that Monsieur Givens will leastwise respect the effort to preserve his thoroughbreds by turning them into the hands of the Vanderplanks who love them best," Charles advised Colonel Jenkins.
Jenkins nodded as he caught site of the army of Colonel Buford near the Waxhaws.
Chapter 43. The Butcher.
Following the surrender of Charleston on May 12, 1780, British forces under Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton occupied the city. Six days later, he dispatched Lieutenant General Lord Charles Cornwallis along with 2,500 men to subdue the South Carolina back country. His force crossed the Santee River and moved towards Camden. While enroute, he learned from locals that the South Carolina Governor John Rutledge was attempting to escape into North Carolina with a force of 350 men. This contingent was led by Colonel Abraham Buford who had been ordered south to aid in the Siege of Charleston, but had turned back after learning of the fall of the city. Now Buford was retreating back toward North Carolina and had a large lead on Cornwallis. When Cornwallis realized that his column was too slow to catch the fleeing Americans, he detached a mobile force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton to run down Buford's men. The news of Tarleton's reputation for brutality spread throughout the patriot forces. Riding hard, Tarleton's forces covered over 100 miles in just 54 hours. As soon as Buford was warned of Tarleton's rapid approach, he sent Rutledge ahead towards Hillsborough, North Carolina with a small escort.
Tarleton reached Rugley's Mills, the place where patriots had camped the night before, early in the morning and learned that the patriots were about 20 miles ahead. His column road hard and caught up with Buford in mid-afternoon six miles south of the border near Waxhaws. When it was learned that Banastre Tarleton was near Cowpens, the Jenkins militia rejoined the forces of commander Abraham Buford. Their movement of the regiment with the additional horse flesh from the Greenfield plantation attracted a slew of patriots along the road near the creek.
Tarleton quickly defeated the American rear guard and sent a messenger to Buford. Inflating his numbers to scare the American commander, he demanded the surrender of Colonel Buford.
Buford delayed responding to give his men opportunity to find a more favorable position. "Sir, I reject your proposals, and shall defend myself to the last extremity." Then, to meet Tarleton's attack, he deployed his infantry into a single line with a small reserve to the rear. Opposite, Tarleton moved directly to assault the American position without waiting for his entire command to arrive.
Forming his men on a small rise opposite the American line, Tarleton divided his men into three groups with one assigned to strike to the right of the enemy, another the center, and the third the left. Moving forward, they began their charge approximately 300 yards from the Americans. As the British approached, Buford ordered his men to hold their fire until they were 10-30 yards away. But the Americans were able to fire one volley before Tarleton's men shattered their line.
As the British dragoons hacked unmercifully with their sabers, the Americans began surrendering. Charles and Chauncey took several cuts as they ran from the field. Meanwhile, Buford waved a white flag to surrender. But at the moment that he called for quarter, Tarleton's horse was shot, throwing the British commander to the ground. Believing their commander to have been attacked under a flag of truce, the British resumed their attack, slaughtering the remaining Americans, including the wounded. Only about 100 Americans, including Buford, succeeded in escaping the field.
During the heat of the battle, Tarleton sent Capt. Kinlock towards the rebel column carrying a white flag. Upon his arrival, Buford halted his march and formed a battle line while the parley took place. Tarleton, exaggerating, claimed that he had 700 men, but also insisted that "Resistance being vain, to prevent the effusion of human blood, I make offers which can never be repeated," indicating that Tarleton would ask for the surrender only once. Buford answered: "I reject your proposals, and shall defend myself to the last extremity."
Then Buford reformed his troops into a column and continued his march to the north, sending his baggage train near the front of the column. Tarleton, furious at the continuation of the march during the parley, claimed that Buford was in violation of the rules of war. Thus, about 3:00 in the afternoon, the leading edge of the military force of General Tarleton captured the rear guard of Colonel Buford, and took prisoners. But the captain was inhumanely mangled by sabre cuts. Buford stopped the column except for the artillery and baggage and formed a single battle line near some open woods. Tarleton organized his forces for the attack but the artillery was out of range. Tarleton's line changed and Buford waited until the enemy was within ten yards before giving the order to fire, a tactical mistake because it enabled Tarleton's formations to hold while giving Buford's men time to fire only a single volley before the British attacked the line. Tarleton's cavalry tore Buford's inexperienced line to pieces and many of the patriots commenced laying down their arms and offering to surrender.
Buford, realizing the cause was lost, dispatched a white flag of surrender. At this point in history, there are conflicting accounts given of the outcome. If it reached Tarleton, it was refused or the horseman was killed in a stream of fire. Yet the account of a field surgeon was that the loyalists carried out "indiscriminate carnage never surpassed by the most ruthless atrocities of the most barbarous savages" and that Tarleton's men stabbed the wounded where they lay, regardless of implied surrender. Meanwhile, Buford and his cavalry retreated from the battlefield at a great cost, the survivors taking with them the taste of blood and revenge. Thereafter, Tarleton was called "the Butcher" because of his unmerciful cruelties rendered on the battlefield and Tarleton's quarter meant "no quarter" was given.
That evening, as the retreating army sought encampment, Abraham Buford realized that they had lost South Caroliina and that for the next several months the battles in that region would serve only as a tantalizing memory. Colonel Jenkins counted his losses, including some of his militiamen who'd tried to surrender or deserted during the slaughter. Donald Mackay sat on the damp ground polishing his embattled broad sword riveted with jagged chips in the blade, recalling that during the tactical error, it was Mr. Given's fine thoroughbred horses who'd projected a path through the battlefield and saved so many lives. Later on, while Willie and Hannie helped local citizens remove dead bodies to nearby churchyards for burial, Chauncey and Charles huddled in an emotional discourse concerning battle tactics and maneuvers. And Colonel Buford, who'd made all the wrong decisions, sat in his tent, traumatized. But fiinally, the regiment was ordered to catch up with the American General Daniel Morgan at Cowpens.
But "the butcher" was not finished. During the summer, Tarleton gave twenty-six soldiers the task of tracking the Carolina upcountry for patriot guerillas. His orders were to seek out and destroy a threat to his rear, that wing of the American Southern Army commanded by General Daniel Morgan. He pushed his men to close in on Morgan, fording the rain-swollen Enoree, Tyger, and Pacolet Rivers. Morgan, on the other hand, suddenly halted a desperate retreat into the upcountry. He was joined by more militia, and it was on this spot that he parlayed the fear and hatred of Banastre Tarleton into a patriot victory . "Tarleton's Quarter" was the rallying cry at Cowpens on January 17th.
General Morgan's army had marched since two in the morning and his collapsing lines of militia, Continentals and skirmishers, were bone tired and weary. But Morgan took into account Tarleton's tendency to rush the attack and planned to expose the British to heavy fire. As the Continentals pinned the British down, the cavalry crushed them in a flank attack. As a stream of the Givens thoroughbred horses were led into the attack, a mistaken command to retreat drew the British further in, and, when the retreat was stopped, the Continental line turned and fired. And as the scene unfolded into a panarama of panic, the American cavalry, already engaged in battle, flanked the British left, leading to double envelopment and victory. Then, the cavalry, led by Colonel Washington, chased Tarleton along the Green River Road and engaged the British commander in a dramatic hand-to-hand encounter, in which Washington barely escaped with his life. Then, as the American riflemen approached, Tarleton, with fifty-four of his supporters, abandoned the battle and fled east toward the British camp, never to be caught up with.
The patriots had the satisfaction of having routed "the butcher!"
"Aye, with the butcher on the run," Donald said,
"and a win in me belly, me plans ehre to fight to the last day!"
Chapter 44. 1781 Occupation of Charleston.
A few months later the patriots lost a battle at Musgrove Mill near Clinton. This time, the retreat sent them into the mountains. But the news of recent losses drew out the mountain men from the Wataugan settlements near Sycamore Shoals. They were met by the remnants of the embattled Buford regiments along the ridges of the Watauga river. After two battles and heavy losses in the ranks, replacement appointments were in order. Charles Bean was appointed as Major of a newly formed cavalry unit, with Chauncey Bean to serve as captain under him. The Vanderplank boys, for their equestrian expertize, were appointed corporals of that same until. And Donald Mackay was made a Colonel over the infantry.
As other militia units joined the army of Colonel Bufored, hearing that Colonel Tarleton Banastre was with the british troops near King's Mountain, the patriots moved enthusiastically towards the mountain range in hopes of having another opportunity to fight the "butcher". (But Tarleton was not to be caught up with until he was captured at the Battle of Yorktown. And, due to his unsavory reputation, special arrangements had to be made to protect Tarleton during the negotiations of the British surrender. Afterwards, the American officers invited all of their British counterparts to dine with them but specifically forbade Tarleton from attending.)
The british finally took Charleston, a feather in the cap of any commander. Thus, the occupation of the two port cities of Charleston and Savannah established a powerfully unrelenting stronghold upon the colonies.
Anyone suspected of being a patriot was arrested, vagrants were robbed of their possessions and slaves were conscripted into service. And although the loyalists in Charleston were barely holding onto their possessions, the land was stripped of livestock and crops. The British army took everything. Yet it was almost laughable that Martha Bean managed to maintain her chicken coups and other livestock by hiding them deep in the woods as well as a small kitchen garden which fed her house servants and a handful of field workers.
Once, when one of the british officers mentioned the brick stronghold of a stubborn Scottish woman out in the country, somehow Harriett Hume Mickleroy managed to make her the joke of her dinner table.
It seems that a scouting party noticed a brick mansion situated deep in the woods upon the crest of a hill overlooking the river. The structure and surrounding grounds were foreign to the area, without the typical corinthian columns, steep roofs and dormer windows. When they reached the top of the hill, they found a dirt promenade circling a garden of rose bushes around the house. While the party scouted the area for livestock and food, two officers rapped on the front door and were met by a shy servant girl named Minnie who led them into the ladies parlor . A petite woman simply dressed in tartain plaids arose to greet them. Although she was comely in appearance, she possessed the obstinance of the Scottish highlands. Fee simple title was respected in the colony, and she proved it when they challenged her claims by producing a deed signed by King George III.
"An eccentric Scottish woman out in the country, claiming to be kin to Lord Reay!" They laughed. As a member of the chancery court, her legal rights to remain on the property were defended by Sir Richard Hume.
"Indeed she is a near-relative to Lord Reay of ancient Strathnaver," he said, "as the name of her plantation suggests. And although plain she may be, she is a near-lady of the peerage, and her rights and privileges are to be honored and respected."
The laughter drew the attention of Colonel Pendarvis. On the day of capture and upon his inspection of the home of the baroness, he had sent an aid with his clothes to her bedroom. On that same day, the british assumed possession of Greenfield plantation and took possession of its livestock. Even though preparations were made to accommodate the british, such harshness shocked Monsieur Givens to the core. More the reason for his defense. And, as the personal treasuries of the aristocrats were also drained, and the numbers of the loyalist devotees diminished as they found themselves in a strangely uncomfortable alliance. Colonel Pendarvis controlled the city with strict rules and regulations.
"I will send a patrol back to scavenge her land," Pendarvis said.
"The esteemed lady is under my protection, sir", Sir Hume said aloud. "In fact it is high time that I was given permission to visit the country."
"Yes, please allow my father the freedom of travel," Harriett said sweetly.
Pendarvis shrugged. "What business doth the british army own with an eccentric country woman? I will alert my staff that whenever Sir Hume chooses, that he may visit his eccentric friend in the country."
From then on, Sir Hume, avoiding the navigation of the river where british ships blocked the harbor and waterways, engaged his carriage, travelling the cumbersome country roads to Strathnaver. Except for a small vegetable garden behind the house, the report of the scouting party that she had no visible livestock nor slaves, appeared to be accurate. Strathnaver had the appearance of a land stripped by war. After only two years, there was little evidence of the once gloriously white cotton fields and rice paddies. The slave cabins were deserted and there was no sign of an overseer. Tall grass and weeds grew up around the house and briars mangled the promenade path. As he passed across a hedge row of straggly unpruned roses, his gloves were pierced by thorns.
Minnie allowed him inside, but surprised at the sight of a visitor, exclaimed, "Miss Martha! A gentleman is here!"
Martha glanced up from her needle work. "Sir Hume!"
"Please pardon my arrival without first sending a note, but until now, I was forbidden to leave the city."
"What is the situation in the city?"
"Dreadful. The city is ravaged, our resources are spent, and the soldier hath reduced us to servitude."
"Would you care for tea, sir?"
"Yes, thank you for your kindness, madam."
He was seated and a tea service was brought into the room. She poured a slow stream of tea into his cup and said gently. "I sympathize with the inconveniences you must be suffering. And also, I am so pleased to enjoy your company."
"I heard that you were alone, madam and feared for your safety."
"There is no one on the place save a handful of house servants, but we are managing."
He proceeded to tell her all that had been done to damage the city and of the prison ship sitting in the harbor. "Although the royal governor went to England and left me in charge as magistrate, I closed my office, because I hath no voice. However, before that, I secretly removing all of the paperwork in the building to my home. This being my first opportunity to visit the country, I am appalled at the number of homes burnt to the ground and absence of farm animals. I can only recken that the survivors are in chains and on the prison ship anchored in the harbor. There are many such rumors of that sort of distress."
"Me brother warned me that occupation would be such. And yet, I hath heard nothing from him, nor me husband," she said tearfully. "All that is left now is the land."
He squinted his eyes and stared at her as the reality of land ownership among the planters slowly penetrated his age-old idea of the classes. It was not money after all which they dwelt upon, but, irrespective of everything else, what the soil provided. "Tis a secret truth which lodges deep inside my heart. Mrs. Bean, I assure you, we are not on opposite sides."
"I shall ne'er tell," she said.
"Would it be possible for me to visit you again?"
She took Sir Hume into the woods and showed him several chicken coups full with fine breeding hens and roosters. She entered one of the coups and while he observed, stacked a basket of eggs.
"This is for you," she said smiling. "But henceforth on your future visits, I should expect you to gather your own eggs to take back to Charleston."
"As often as I choose, dear lady? Why, there is nought a single egg in Charleston save what the soldiers eat! "
"Then you must hide them in your root cellar."
"I shall assure you that your secret is safe with me!"
However, Sir Hume's carriage was searched as he rode into the city and the eggs were seized. That evening, he complained bitterly to Harriett of his indignation.
"I am having to dig deeply into my fortune," she admitted. The arrogant Colonel Pendarvis had selected the highest ranking person in Charleston to dump his excesses upon and his takeover of the Mickleroy mansion and assets was depleting her wealth. And the whole city was swept away in military disciplines and pillage.
The summer of 1781 brought the fearful news of "the butcher's" massacre at the Waxhaws. It was a public celebration for the redcoats. Sir Hume suffered more indignation as searches were made of his carriage and official passes were required to pass through the city. To escape the turmoil, Sir Hume made regular visits to Strathnaver. The trips were panoramic scenes of over-grown corn fields, rotting cotton vines, burned barnes and stables and plantations stripped of its labor foce and farm animals. The slaves which had once worked the land were either captured and dragged off to prison ships, or forced into military service. For miles and miles, the land lay fallow. As he rode further into the country and observed a distinct void of people, he sensed the reality of the cruel separation of families isolated by war and the hopelessness of its outcome, especially when he received notice that the tail male of his family estate went to a younger brother. He felt alone and dejected. It was Martha Bean who seemed to have a realistic grasp of the situation and a person to whom he could speak his mind.
He left the Mickleroy mansion in a timely fashion when he overheard the arrogant Colonel Pendarvis bragging to Harrietta about the clever quarter of Colonel Tarleton. As he approached Strathnaver a flock of white geese arose high in the sky and then as though falling, executed a nose dive into the cool white waves of the Ashley River. Then out of nowhere a flock of mallard ducks lifted their wings from the plantation's swampy ponds. The heat from the sun during the long summer days bred swarms of mosquitoes in the creeks, valleys and across the dismal countryside . As his coachman settled the horses, his eyes were focused on the faded blooms of the rose garden and weeded-over promenade path as he took the bad news of the Waxhaws to the ears of Martha.
She glanced up from her sewing as Minnie allowed him into the parlor. The sadness upon his face caused her to hook her threaded needle into a pin cushion and close her basket. He was dressed in his finest striped waist coat and leaned heavily upon a fancy silver-tipped cane.
"There is bad news?" she guessed.
"Yes, my dear." Then he described Colonel Tarleton's brutality against the rebels at the Waxhaws despite the white flag of the surrender.
Martha's face turned white. "What about Chancey, sir?"
"The militia of Colonel Jenkins was in the battle. I know not whether your husband be dead or wounded, however, according to Colonel Pendarvis, few survived the hacking blade of "the butcher".
None of us know anything other than the patriot army is moving towards a place called Kings Mountain."
"So much uncertainty," she said tearfully. "I fear that I shall ne'er see Chauncey again. It seems that most of our married life my dear husband hath answered the drumbeat of war."
"Although Colonel Pendarvis brags that the british hath a ferocious dog in Banastre Tarleton, he did say that the rebels possessed a vengeance against the butcher and were chasing him into unfamiliar mountain terrain. It may be that the rebels hath the advantage. Nevertheless, however this ends, my personal resources are depleted and the fortune of my daughter is in the hands of the pompous Colonel Pendarivs! And worse, for the first time in her life she is in love. But not with a gentleman of distinction, rather a scoundrel. Colonel Pendarvis! And what doth she get for it? Why, under the direction of the Colonel, the british army hath all but spent her great fortune!"
Martha stopped crying and lifted her head. "Forgive me, Sir Robert, I was only thinking of Chauncey and not considering the sorrowful consequences of those loyal to His Majesty. Please stay a few days and let us discuss the issues of the day. Perhaps betwixt the two of us, we can be consoled."
"Noble lady, your kindness is appreciated. My ride from town was wrought with dehydration and heat exhaustion, and fear that the dreaded fever is stirring up inside me."
Martha suspected the infectious illness of yellow fever and ordered him to bed. "There is no need to fret, sir, for you will receive the best of care!"
A few days later when he was better, Sir Hume brought her several books by Voltaire and a pamphlet which had been passed to him from a friend. "It seems that the baron Mickleroy was not such a bad fellow after all, for I found several books by Voltaire in his library. Tis good reading during troubled times. Also, this pamphlet by Thomas Paine may be considered revolutionary by some, however, I find myself in agreement with its precepts and proposals. My friends would be appalled if they knew that I had such a pamphlet. You see, my dear, how hopeless it tis for an old loyalist."
"Then it is not safe for you to return to Charleston."
Sir Hume commenced laughing. "Bollocks! It seems that my opinion of the baron was ill conceived and that I owed him a certain admiration and respect. And, I actually mourn the fact that he was wed to my daughter."
Chapter 46. Battle of King's Mountain. October 1781.
Meanwhile the patriots, gaining momentum in the countryside, attracted a dusty cloud of calvary armies rolling across the land with their muskets, bayonets and artillery wagons, anxious to charge "the butcher" himself. On October 7th, the Jenkins Militia faced Major Patrick Ferguson's troops near Blacksburg. Ferguson had arrived in North Carolina during the early part of September for the purpose of recruiting troops and to protect a flank of Lord Cornwall's main force. His first order was to presumptiously issue a challenge to the rebels to lay down their arms or suffer the consequences. But the patriot militias remembered the bloody Tarleton massacre and prepared to fight.
As soon as Ferguson received this new intelligence, he decided not to charge and instead retreated to the safety of Lord Cornwallis' army. But the enthusiam of the patriots was not to be ignored. As Ferguson's militia crossed the border to Kings Mountain, the patriots caught up, and chanting "huzzah" twice, with a final sustained "huzzah", then surrounded the loyalists and launched a surprise attack which resulted in the redcoats sustaining heavy casualties.
The infantry of Major Donald Mackay assisted in holding the rebel line and after only an hour into battle, watched Colonel Ferguson as he fell dead from his horse. The patriots cheered. But Mackay ran the line himself, yelling "hold the line, men. It ehre not done yet!" Still, the patriots were eager to avenge Banastre Tarleton's massacre at the Waxhaws, and did so by showing no quarter until their officers regained control of the ranks. Among them were the Vanderplank boys with Major Mackay fighting them, wildly swinging his blade until a musket ball hit him in the leg and he fell helpless to the ground. Then, just as the main thrust of Lord Cornwallis' troops advanced, he heard the retreat. Hannie and Willie found him the major and lifted him onto his horse. The uncomplaining major had an immobile leg, yet rode steathily into the hills. The nephews had the taste of victory in their mouths and thrill of excitement of their hearts.
That night an orange harvest moon arose overhead as cool winds of October blew across the camp. Donald was laying flat in a bough of leaves while the physic pryed loose the musket ball from his leg .
Meanwhile, Colonel Jenkins ordered Hannie and Willie to scout the retreating Ferguson militia and perform intelligence on the camp. All night they tracked the wagon wheels and horses hoofs of the british as they retreated into South Carolina. When they found them, Ferguson's 71st Foot soldiers had caught up with the rear flank of the troops of Lord Cornwallis.
A meeting of intelligence of the officers was in progress over a dim campfire. The boys had employed their equestrian and tracking skills. Now they did what was natural by crawling on their bellies through the wood until they were within earshot. Ferguson's 71st had withered to a few men, and Lord Cornwallis was forced to abandon his plan to invade North Carolina. Little did they understand that night, but the battle they'd won at King's Mountain was a pivotal moment in the Southern campaign because it prevented Lord Cornwallis from waging a campaign in North Carolina and drove him instead into Virginia.
"If only I could get a letter delivered to Aunt Martha with the details of this glorious campaign!" Willie said cheerfully on the ride back to camp.
"Willie, what do you think of our going out West after this war is over?" Hannie asked suddenly. "Uncle Chauncey and Charles hath their land to return to."
"There is rumor that the soldiers will be granted land as compensation. I should very much like to become a planter, like Uncle Chauncey." Willie's stomach churned a little as he remembered Emily. "Of course I do nought have a wife for it."
"Perhaps I shall also take the land, should they offer it," he said shivering. "The wind already chills my bones! I dread going into the mountains this time of year, where we ehre certain to suffer the snow."
But winter would not come before Jenkin's militia caught up with the armies of Nathaniel Greene and distracted the british by skirmishing. They had one more opportunity to clash with "the butcher" at a place a few miles south of Greene's army and although the army of Lord Cornwallis held the field, the patriots punished them severely, so much so that Cornwallis withdrew his army first to Ramseys Mill and then to the British base at Wilmington where he resupplied his army. Then, Lord Cornwallis marched into Virginia.
Chapter 47. Surrender. October 19, 1781.
The fatal blow was struck in Virginia, when the army of Lord Cornwallis had its back to the York river and was forced to surrender! A month earlier the Admiral of the British fleet had failed to break French naval superiority at the Battle of Virginia Capes and prevent Cornwallis from received his expected reinforcements. Afterwards, the Americans with French assistance encircled Yorktown and during the first two weeks in October gradually overcame fortified British positions. A large fleet carrying 7,000 men set out to rescue Cornwallis, but it was too late. On October 19th, Cornwallis surrendered an army of over 7,000, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate and 30 transport ships. The surrender was so humiliating that he plead illness and did not attend the surrender ceremony, sending instead General O'Hra who carried the Cornwallis sword to the American and French commanders. As the British and Hessiam troops marched out to surrender, their band played the tune "The World Turned Upside Down."
News of the surrender spread like a disease from Yorktown to Savannah. And following that was the presence of Colonel Washington's Dragoons crossing the South Carolina border bound for Charleston. Meanwhile, the fleet of Sir Clinton rushed to depart Charleston before the Americans arrived. Colonel Pendarvis, not anxious to hear the love-sick pleas of the baroness to take her with him, sent his aid to remove his belongings from her home.
Monsieur Givens ushed his way through a sidewalk of soldiers to enter his old office. In his satchel were the documents of the city which he'd previously removed to a safe location. The contents of the magistry belonged to His Majesty, and he quickly scooped up the documents to protect them from the Continental Congress . The only separation which he made for his personal collection were the land grants and deeds given to Eleanor upon her wedding to Charles Bean. Such vision served to save Greenfield plantation from confiscation yet Givens could still be hanged for treason. He framed a letter to the Continental Congress to effect that Charles Bean, a patriot of the American forces, owned Greenfield plantation.
Then he sent for Jonathan Frey.
"Seek out a captain who will transport my friends to the Barbadoes on the next tide! I shall pay you handsomely for this service." Frey understood. While the british weighed anchor, the merchant ships stranded in Charleston during the seige were anxious to get under way. By mid-afternoon, he had arranged passage with the same captain who had performed the discreet service of transporting Martha to Strathnaver. Frey assured Givens that the captain was trustworthy, provided a generous purse was included in the bargain.
"Captain Maurice says his brigantine shall be ready on the morning's first tide."Please perform one last chore for me and fast deliver these letters to my friends."
Monsieur Givens gave Frey a full purse. "For a safe delivery to Barbadoes."
Chapter 48. Strathnaver. End of October. 1781.
The recovery of Sir Hume from yellow fever had been touch and go, however by October, was in good spirits. He was awakened early one morning by the noise of a brigantine dropping anchor. One of Harriett's servants was sent running up the hill to the river porch. He saluted the old gentleman and said: "There is no time for delay," he said, "Lady Harriett says to come immediately to the ship!"
"What hath happened?"
"Lord Cornwallis surrendered! Sir Henry Clinton's fleet is sailed leaving Charleston to the American army!"
"Martha! Did you hear that? Lord Cornwallis surrendered!" Sir Hume said excitedly. "The patriots won!"
"But what of Chauncey?"
"Lord Cornwallis hath surrendered, I told you!" He said disbelievingly as he waved to his friends on the brigantine.
"I must go with them. Unfortunately, I must take leave of you quickly, almost without sufficient time to thank you for your kindness and generous hospitality."
"But where will you go?"
"To Harriett's sugar plantations in Barbadoes and I must say that tis a low blow for me, as I am still rather weak from the fever. I apologize, my dear, for the self-pity. I suppose that one can declare it a new beginning. Yes, a new beginning, under rather primitive circumstances."
"Cornwallis is surrended, but where is me husband? What if Chauncey does nought come home?"
"Look around you, my dear. Chauncey built the relic of a scottish castle for you. He will come home!"
Sailors commenced running up the hill to fetch the belongings of Sir Hume. Martha sent them to the root cellar for a barrel of a recent harvest of granny apples and gave Sir Hume a supply of her strawberry jam.
"This jam is for you," she said, "a taste of sweet when there be a bad taste in ye mouth."
He understood. "And for this kindness, I shall always remember you, dear lady!"
With that said, he was gone!
Martha ran to her bedroom and stared at herself in the mirror. In a little while, she unplatted her graying-brown hair and allowed it to fall loosely down her back. Then, she folded her arms upon her dressing table and sobbed miserably.
A remnant of the old Jenkin's militia crossed the border a day after the dragoons of Colonel Washington. The trail had been long. They had suffered many defeats and sustained bodily injuries which would be borne the rest of their lives. Donald did not discuss his injuries, but there a noticeable stiffness in his leg from a musket ball which lodged itself near a cracked tibia bone. One of his legs appeared to be shorter than the other, a noticeable limp and stooped posture. Charles had suffered dysentary many times over. Most of the men had taken musket balls and sword slices. But they all were weary and bone-tired. The indescribeable effects of fatigue overwhelmed them as they drew near one of the old camp sites of General Washington.
Bone-weary meant there was no satisfaction in rest, so they drove themselves on. There was an orange moon in the sky, but the ravages of war prevented the harvesting of crops. Witnessing the damage, they could scarcely remember the last cotton they saw in the fields, and rode in silent retrospection of past days. They were on the North Charleston road when heavy rains drew them into a barn for shelter where they rested without food. However, upon returniing to the road several hours later, the storm resumed.
"We need to keep moving," Charles said. "We can rest at Greenfield." His vision of the beautiful home and its grounds overlooking the Ashley River lifted his spirits and seemed to carry him awhile, but eventually miles and miles of devastation told him otherwise.
Soaking wet, despondent and weary, they continued to ride.
However, when they reached Greenfield plantation and Charles saw that the british had torched the manor house and livery stables, he wept. "I scarcely expected anything better than devastation, but the redcoats left nothing, burnt the house to the ground!"
"Not all of the main house is burnt," Chauncey said, "the rains saved some of it!"
"No. No. There is no home for Eleanor and the children," he sobbed.
"We knew that it would be this way," Donald consoled, "Did we nought witness destruction everywhere!"
"But I'd so hoped that God would spare this one place on earth!"
"Come on, brother, Strathnaver is ahead. There is still hope that Martha was able to save it. Let us go home."
The misery inside the head of Martha awakened her thoughout the night, sometimes to the sounds of her own sobbing. The time for daylight arrived, but the shadows of dark clouds and heavy rain pounding against the windows afforded no light. The misery lasted until late afternoon.
She removed herself to the river porch and observed a reluctant sun casting its peculiar rays across the sky and highlighting droplets of rain shedding from the trees.
Later in the afternoon, a bolt of lightning struck the sky and its brilliant light lit the road as three shadowry soaking-wet figures passed in front of the house. Astride the unrecognizable and battle-worn horseflesh of the thoroughbreds of Monsieur Givens, they crept unnoticed towards the livery stables.
"Another rain is coming," Donald said as the wind blew a thin sheet of rain down river. The horses were unsaddled, watered, and fed a stack of hay. Then the old soldiers pumped a bowl of water and washed mud from their face and hands.
"There is still a house," Donald said, peering through the threading rain.
"If Martha be there, she would nought appreciate our filth."
After so long and tedious a journey, three old soldiers, lean, dirty, bearded and haggard, dragged themselves towards the house as another bolt of lightning struck the sky. Chauncey caught a glimpse of Martha on the river porch.
"Martha?" He called.
When he reached the rock wall surrounding the porch, he struggled to lift his weary bones across. There was just enough daylight for her to observe his weary body and the deep jutted lines in his brow. She ran towards him as he reached out for her, his fingers touching her soft unbraided hair. And after holding her in his arms for a long while, kissed her tenderly, and was heard to say "Dearest wife, Martha, my heart hath yearned for you all these years. I swear that love you!".