Emmeline Reminisces

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Emmeline sat at the desk in her room. She had just finished writing a letter to Jed. Tomorrow, she would take the carriage into town and mail the letter. She wanted to go out for a change. She was tired on being cooped up in the house. She hoped that life here wouldn’t be dull. Perhaps, once things were back to normal, she could throw parties and have dinners. She was very good at organizing those sorts of things–much better than Annabelle. Annabelle. She was nothing but a bundle of nerves now. Soon, she would be out of her misery. She, Emmeline would make sure that she gave her dear sister a proper funeral.

Frogmoss Plantation now belonged to Neal and her and they were going to run as they saw fit. She was thinking of which of the servants she was going to get rid of. Nan, Annabelle’s personal maid would be among the first to go. She was sure that she would fetch a good price. She would get rid of Millie too. Silly girl, always scurrying about the place like a scared rabbit. And there was no need to keep Nat. Neal had his own personal servant. Bertha would remain because found her to be very useful and she did a good job keeping the other servants in line.

Now that Cissy was dead, she would have to find a replacement. Rather than buying another slave from the Yates, she would buy one from another plantation–perhaps the Livingstons had a slave woman they were willing to sell. Perhaps, they would be willing to sell Hester back to her old plantation home. She would stop by there on her way back from town.

She studied the portrait of Rufus on the wall opposite the desk. He was easily the most handsome man she had ever known. His hair was thick and dark and his eyes were an unusual shade of blue. And his olive complexion made him even more irresistible. She had fallen head over heels in love with him when she met him. She was careful not to betray her feelings but she watched him unobserved as he courted Annabelle. Everyone was pleased for the happy couple as they exchanged their vows and there was such gaiety at the reception. She stood in the background, watching and wishing that it was she was the happy bride instead of Annabelle.

She married Neal and to her chagrin, they moved to Montgomery while Annabelle and Rufus remained in Savannah. Montgomery seemed so far away from Savannah and the man she loved. She tried to get Neal to take her to Frogmoss for visits and she invited Annabelle and Rufus to their home in Montgomery. Then, things changed when Rebecca was born. The visits to Montgomery became sporadic until they stopped. And Neal was too busy to take time off to visit Savannah.

Then, Jed was born and Emmeline was quite content to stay put in Montgomery and take care of him. Then, after he was enrolled in Princeton, she wrote Annabelle and told her that she would love to visit her for the summer. Annabelle invited her to go because she would be happy for the company since Rebecca was spending the summer in England.

So, Emmeline came to Frogmoss for the summer. Annabelle was pleased to have her there and Rufus seemed very receptive too. Nothing had changed. He was still as handsome as ever and didn’t look like he had a twenty year old daughter.

She was still madly in love with him and yearned for him. How she longed to be alone with him but Annabelle was always there. She had to find a way to be alone with him. She got her opportunity one night. It was after dinner and while Annabelle had retired to the drawing-room, she decided to go for a walk in the garden to get a breath of fresh air. When she returned to the house, she learned that Annabelle had retired to her room. It was too early for Emmeline to retire as well. It was not yet 10. Where was Rufus? She decided to go to the study and see if he was there. He was. The door was open and he was standing in front of the window, holding a pistol.

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She watched him for several minutes, curious and fascinated. Then, she went into the study. “What are you doing with that?” she asked, her gaze fixated on it.

“My father gave it to me on my eighteenth birthday. My mother didn’t approve, of course. She never liked guns.”

“Most women don’t but I’m not afraid of them at all. I know how to fire a pistol.”

“You do?” he had seemed surprised…and impressed.

“Yes, an uncle taught me. Is the gun loaded?”

“No. I never keep a gun loaded unless I’m going to use it.”

“What do you use this one for?”

“Target shooting.”

“Where do you keep it?”

“In the safe.”

“That’s wise if you don’t want it to get into the wrong hands. Is this only gun you have?”

“No. I have another one which I keep my top wardrobe drawer.”

“Oh. Neal keeps his in the kitchen pantry.”

“That’s another safe place. Is Annabelle still up?”

“No. She has gone to bed.”

“I’m going to the drawing-room to have a glass of cider before I retire for the night.”

“May I join you?”

“Certainly. Perhaps we can play a game of poker.”

Emmeline followed him to the drawing-room where they spent a hour and half playing poker and drinking cider. It felt wonderful–just the two of them and before she left him, she suggested that they played another game of poker the following night. Each night, they played poker and euchre after Annabelle had gone to bed.

Then, after he returned from going to the Yates plantation to buy another slave, he seemed preoccupied and the times they spent together playing cards were over. After dinner, he retired to his study or to his room. Sometimes, she looked out of her window and saw him in the garden. She missed his company and wished they could resume their comradery. Instead, she had to settle for Annabelle’s company.

One evening unable to bear it any longer, Emmeline, decided that she would go to him. She wore her new Lace Ruffle Trim Trumpet Sleeve Night Dress and after brushing her hair which fell in thick waves about her shoulders, she sneaked out of her room. She quickly made her way down the corridor towards the Master bedroom.

Heart racing, she opened the door and went inside. The room was empty. Where was he? As she stood there wondering what to do, she heard faint noises coming from the adjoining room. Tiptoeing, she crossed the carpet to the door and slowly turned the knob.

She gingerly pushed the door open and froze. The sounds were much louder now and they were coming from the bed which was rattling. She clamped her hand over her mouth to smother a cry as her shocked gaze fell on the two naked bodies. She had no idea how long she stood there watching her brother-in-law and the slave girl having sex or how she managed to leave the room without disturbing them. The next thing, she knew, she was back in her room, feeling sick to the stomach.

A knock on the door jolted her back to the presence and she called, “Come in.”

It was one of the house servants. She forgot which one. There were so many. “The Massa wants to see you, Mistress.”

“The Massa?”

“Yes. Mr. Johnson. He said to tell ya dat he wants to see ya ‘fore dinner.”

“All right. Did he say where I should meet him?”

“In the study, Mistress.”

“Very well. Tell him I’ll be there shortly.”

“Yes, Mistress.” The girl quickly withdrew and closed the door.

Emmeline rose to her feet, wondering why Vernon wanted to see her before dinner.

Sources: American Battlefield Trust; Shein; Comfort Tac

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