The Second War of Rebellion, p.1Katie Hanrahan
The Second War Of Rebellion
Copyright © 2014 by Katie Hanrahan
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
The characters and events in this book, though based on historical fact, are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The alarm began downriver, the call passed from look-out to look-out, until the hoot reached Maddie’s ears and she knew it was time to go. She picked her way along the top of the levee, tangling with the brush as she navigated over the flood gate. There was a big world out there, plenty of places for a twelve-year-old girl to make her way. She would not let them send her away to England.
A branch snagged the hem of her petticoat and the girl ripped the fabric rather than be delayed. So little time to escape, yet the going was slow on the banks of the Ashley. Maddie clambered down the levee, using a low hanging branch for support, and scanned the river for signs of a friendly but unknown face. She would make the wharf much faster if she went by water, but finding a pilot who did not know the Beauchamp family was not very likely. Even so, a boat represented her best hope for slipping past him.
Her plan was to get to Washington, to speak to President Jefferson. The runaway pressed the leather pouch she wore around her neck, her treasure hidden under her clothes. Two dollars, three cents and ten British shillings was not enough to buy passage, and probably not enough to pay for food. Better to starve, Maddie decided, than to become a prisoner in a foreign country, even if her late mother was said to have requested it on her death bed. She would hide herself in a hogshead of rice, or stow away and closet herself behind bales of cotton. No one would take her from South Carolina and ship her off to England.
Back on top of the levee, she examined the faces on the many boats that were heading east, but the bargemen were long-time friends who would give her up if questioned. Her shoes slipped on the worn wooden frame as she scrambled over another sluice gate. In September, the gate would be opened at low tide and the rice bed would drain, baring strong stalks loaded down with golden grain. She would be gone, one way or the other, and would miss the excitement of chasing away foraging birds while the rice cutters mowed down the beds. Other adventures awaited, if President Jefferson could be made to see that a skilled artist should be part of the Corps of Discovery. She would not hesitate to stand at the foot of a seven foot tall beaver and create a detailed drawing. A woolly mastodon would not frighten her, and if unicorns did indeed exist in the Louisiana Territory, she would find one and make the most accurate depiction crafted by human hands.
Before any of that could happen, she had to get to Charleston. Already her legs were weary, weighed down by clots of mud that stuck to her boots. Again, Maddie looked out over the river, only to be hailed by an elderly gentleman who lived three plantations upriver from Riverside. Thinking quickly, Maddie waved back. Chances were good that he was returning to town for the sickly season, that he would not know that the Beauchamp girl had disappeared, at least until her escape was secure.
“Now where might you be heading, Miss Maddie, on this fine day?” he asked. One of his oarsmen held the launch steady while Maddie came aboard.
“Just into town,” she said. She dangled her feet over the side to wash off the mud, which then soaked into her stockings and painted them black.
The gentleman asked no further questions, instead turning the conversation to the weather, which was most decidedly pleasant for mid-May, and then asked after the health of her grandparents, her brother the sailor, and her brother the planter. Dull inanity came to an abrupt halt when the tiller man noticed some sort of blockage ahead.
“Something big moving up river?” the gentleman asked, his skinny old neck stretching to see around a bend. The oarsmen pulled closer to the bank before stopping to watch that ‘something big’ pass by.
“Will you look at that there,” the tiller man said.
Like the Red Sea parting, all traffic on the river shifted to the banks. Though impatient to be on her way, Maddie was curious, and she scooted across the bench to see what was so fascinating. A long boat pulled by sixteen oars glided with smooth precision down the very middle of the Ashley. A colorful pendant hung limp from the stern, right behind a tall, dark, scowling devil who was seated on an indigo blue velvet cushion. His coal-black eyes stared straight ahead, a man with a single-minded purpose. His navy blue uniform was spotless, his decorations shining, and his silk stockings were so white that his shins glowed. Slowly, carefully, Maddie slid back across the seat until she felt branches scratch her cheek.
“Still thinks he’s cock of the walk,” the gentleman mumbled. “Strutting up the Ashley, and don’t we all remember him and his kind, raiding our plantations and leaving our people to starve.”
Put your backs into it, Maddie longed to shout to the boys who rested on their oars, goggle-eyed at the spectacle of a British admiral in all his imperious glory. A low-hanging branch caught her hair and the riverbank caught her eye. Spotting a likely-looking sliver of solid ground, Maddie jumped out of the boat and pulled herself up the levee, clawing at the mud as she sought a handhold. She made the top and started running, north to the river road, putting distance between herself and the stranger who had come to take her away, the distance between liberty and tyranny.
The Second War of Rebellion by Katie Hanrahan / History & Fiction / Romance & Love have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on16 votes