Excerpt from Chapter Twenty-Four

Excerpt from Corrigans’ Pool (Civil War era novel by Dot Ryan)

ON THE RIDE TO Moss Oak, Ella stopped Moonbeam and Sunbeam from passing the baby back and forth between them like a doll, taking him protectively into her arms. Lord! They’ll give him a brain fever jostling him around like that. She cuddled him to her, stroking his soft cheek, but her thoughts were on Victor’s slaves. She could not stop thinking of them. Why would Victor claim the escapee had come to Greenpoole if he had not?

“Sun, you gonna let me hold your baby when it come?” Moonbeam asked her sister.

“So’nuff. I might even let you keep it iffen it look like that ugly Bruno.”

“I don’t want it iffen it look like him.”

“Mebbe it won’t be so ugly,” Sunbeam said, rubbing her tiny bump of a belly through the heavy woolen skirt.

“Iffen that Bruno gets holt of it, he probably skin it like a possum and eat it,” Moonbeam said, rolling her eyes.

Ella shot a disdainful look over her shoulder at the pair. “Don’t be ridiculous, and do be quiet. You’ll wake Adam.” She held her son closer, unable to get enough of looking at him. Strange, after months of misery and recriminations, the minute he was born she saw in him only a precious part of herself. He was a creation of her own and no one else’s, someone to love who would love her back, someone to ease the lonely years ahead at Moss Oak.

She could not ignore that he looked like his father—the dark, slightly slanted eyebrows, the eyes that Hannah knew would soon turn black as pitch, the strong chin and jaw, the long fingers, the clenched little fists that would someday be as large as his father’s. But Ella was determined that little Adam Faircloth’s resemblance to Gentry Garland would never go beyond his physical characteristics. Her son would be gentle, kind, and true of heart. It was possible, she knew, for a man to be those things and be that much more of a man for them. Her father was such a man, even with the drinking having taken over him. She thought of Victor waiting at Moss Oak for her, and she felt her insides recoil. Be calm, she told herself.


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