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“Was that Freddy?” Emmilene asked Vernon.

“Yes, it was. He came to see Rebecca.”

“What did you tell him?”

“That’s she’s indisposed.”

“She’s in no condition to see anyone, even Freddy.”

“He’s the only one who has come by to see her. All her so-called friends have deserted her.”

“It’s times like these when you see who your real friends are.”

“I told him that I’m taking Rebecca to Providence.”

“I think that’s the best thing for her. She shouldn’t be here in this house where it happened.”

“As soon as your husband arrives, we’ll leave.”

“You don’t have to wait until then. I’m here. I can run things until he gets here.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Emmilene–“

“Why? Because I’m a woman? Women are capable of running plantations too. I’ll do fine until Neal arrives.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. You can start arranging your trip to Providence. It would be best to take Rebecca away before…”

“Before her mother’s trial?”

“There isn’t going to be a trial. She murdered her husband in cold blood.”

“And the slave girl.”

“Who gives a damn about that little black whore?”

Vernon looked at her, startled. The expression on her face disturbed him. “She was a young girl, Emmilene.”

“I don’t want to talk about her. Just take Rebecca away from this house.”

“All right.”

“Will it just be the two of us having dinner again this evening?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“I’ve been going through Annabelle’s things. Some of her clothes will be donated to the church and the worn dresses will be given to her house maid and other servants. I’ll keep all of the jewelry. Most of it should have been mine in the first place.”

Vernon watched her, thinking what heartless, cold fish she was. It sounded like she was talking about a stranger instead of her older sister. The sisters had never been close but he always suspected that Emmilene was jealous and envious of Annabelle. Emmilene wasn’t physically arresting like Annabelle. Growing up Annabelle had more suitors and more friends. Emmilene had always been under her sister’s shadow.  It was believed that if Annabelle hadn’t married Rufus, Neal would have proposed to her. He had to settle for marrying her sister.

When Rufus and Annabelle married, they were in love and their marriage was in very good standing but obviously things had deteriorated between them. And Rufus was having relations with one of the slave girls which cost them both their lives. Now, Annabelle was going to be sentenced to death. “Does she still say that she didn’t kill them?” he asked Emmilene now.

Emmilene fanned herself. “Yes, she does but who else had motive?”

“And you didn’t hear the shots?”

“No one heard the shots. There was a storm that night.”

“Did she have the pistol?”

“No. It was found in the room. She must have dropped it on the floor after firing.”

“And when you found her she was in her room.”

“Yes and she was very hysterical. I had to send for the doctor. He gave her something to calm her down.”

“I haven’t been to that room. No one has been there since the bodies were removed.”

“It’s a crime scene. I will have it boarded up.”

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“Good idea.”

“Well, shall we go in to dinner now? Afterwards, I can help Rebecca to pack for her trip to Providence.”

“Why are you so anxious to get rid of her?”

“I’m not anxious to get rid of her. I thought you would be anxious to leave here and return to your lovely home.”

Vernon got up. “You’re right, I’m very anxious to get back to Providence.”

“I don’t expect that Neal and I will ever see you and Rebecca again.”

“No. Once we leave here, we’ll never return.”

“Perhaps Neal and I could visit you. I’ve always liked Providence.”

“Perhaps.” They both knew that Emmilene had no intention of visiting. She had never shown any real interest in her niece. All she care about the apple of her eye, Jed. The nineteen year old was Neal’s and her only child. She talked incessantly about him and how well he was doing at Princeton. As soon as they sat down at the table, she began talking about him and how she had written and told him the awful news of his uncle who had been like a second father to him.

Source: Britannica

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