He dropped the hammer and walked out back beyond the canebrake toward the stream. When there were thoughts to be had, decisions to be made, wrongs to be righted, Isaac had always been able to tramp the woods and fields for resolution. Out where streams of warmth on a sun-drenched day hovered with intensity on his shoulders. Where southern winds blew the slightest breeze to cool the heat of an Indian summer. Where an autumn rain beat against his sun-browned face to clear the cobwebs of this war of love and hate that held him in a vice. He had dashed his own hopes and dreams, leaving Jennie behind to wonder who he was and why she had ever fallen for the roguish Payne boy in the first place.
The peaty smells of decomposing leaves atop the damp earth hung in his nostrils. He lingered a moment imagining a garden with the mossy compost subdued, wild flowers of every bloom and color replacing the piles of damp leaves, but no one to share them with. Isaac stumbled under the weight of his emotions and fell helpless to the damp earth. He loathed the feelings of defeat. The North had defeated the South. The War had robbed him of his father and Henry, death defeating life. The carpetbagger had cast gloom and doom upon his relationship with the only woman he had ever loved, attempting to take the dearest on earth to him, and in the course had been the straw that broke the camel's back as far as Isaac was concerned, and what was worse, he couldn't get his hands on Graystone to punish him for the chaos he had created.
A doe broke through the thicket, her new baby frolicking close to her heels. The gentler, simpler life, he mused. She has one thought alone—her fawn. Aware that Isaac lay stretched on the ground a few paces from her, she bolted to the safety of the copse and disappeared with her little one.
Isaac lay static, struggling between the right and wrong of it all. He had fallen victim to everything he had spoken against, allowing his best intentions to be quashed by the schemes of Simon Graystone.
He loathed admitting it, even to himself, but he was in the slough of despondency, eating from the trough of defeat...
From the manuscript, Isaac's House
Jane Bennett Gaddy