The Book With No Name

I would have to revisit RACHEL. 
That was a foregone conclusion.
The Payne saga is far from over, and I've opened the sequel, loving every minute of it. Where will it lead? I have no idea. That's what makes fiction so wonderful. You don't have to explain it. You just have to "step into the water and wade out a little bit deeper."
Here's a portion to slake your thirst.
Stay with me!
I promise to give it a title soon, and you can count on the historical portion being as near accurate as research will allow.

Step Into The Water—
From the Prologue of
The Book With No Name

She dared to trifle with the past searching for answers to reasons why—answers that would suffice to comfort and cajole her into concluding that the war years and those that followed had not all been in vain. One thing had led to another.

The train rumbled out of the depot of the Bluff City, Memphis. For three days of insufferable jerking and jolting, three evenings of watching the moon wax and wane and the sun rise over the South, each day dawning with splendid frescoes adorning the mists that hung sparsely before her, Rachel pressed her face to the window and watched  as the train dipped and glided eastward across the fruited plain and—at the end of the third day—though tired to hurting, she drew a deep breath as the cars thundered on the trestle over the Hudson River into full view of the Gilded City.

Into Union country.

But the war was over.

At that moment she had no way of knowing that life would once again have splendid meaning and purpose and that it would unfold someplace other than the Old South. The memories were haunting, beautiful, troubling, soothing. How and why such glorious contrasts? She had asked the question a thousand times, wondering if she could, in some small measure, ever hope to bring those days back. She longed to bring them back.

And she had not for one moment forgotten, not that Oscar Alexander would let her. The memory, the very thought, of a gentle touch and loving spirit, a godly soul, a perfect gentleman reaching to take her hand, still took her breath away as though it were yesterday.

Her six-month assignment as a post-war journalist was almost over when on September 18, 1873, the financials crashed and New York City took the hard blow. Oscar, loathing every memory of that day, had frantically made arrangements for Rachel to leave the City before the railroads shut down and the cars were no longer making the long journeys out of the City. They had dared to express their feelings on that day, an experience born out of unusual circumstance, although Rachel never gave a thought that such might happen the day she left Sarepta, Mississippi, for New York City. She was from the war-town South and had known the love and protection of the grandest southern gentleman on earth. At the same time, she was skilled at making the most out of life, of suffering need and want, of living with and without. Oscar was born in London in pageantry and wealth, had come to America as a young man only to add to his affluence as owner and editor of a successful New York newspaper. Six enchanting months with Oscar and the newspaper had given Rachel faith. Faith for a lot of things—

She reached into the pocket of her apron and touched the wrinkled envelope, slowly took the letter out and read it again. There had been many letters from Oscar through the years, but in this one, Rachel could hear the urgency, the need, the love. 

My dearest Rachel . . .

Carefully folding the silky paper and returning it to the envelope, Rachel pulled the corner of her cotton dress to the tops of her shoes and took the steps off the porch and into the warm sun. Standing in its rays for a few minutes, she looked to the east then to the west and started to run towards the sun.

“Oh, Oscar! Love is not supposed to feel this way.” Her words echoed across the hills—

Jane Bennett Gaddy


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