A Great Feeling

Christmas Eve, 2015
To be nearing the end of another Novel of the Old South is a great feeling. I’m sharing a small piece with you in hopes that you will become as excited about this book as I am. It is the sequel to Rachel, After the Darkness, and part of the series, The Mississippi Boys, Isaac's House, and JOAB. Many of you expressed your feelings about Rachel. You didn’t want it to end. I knew when I wrote the last chapter that it would have to be continued, which suited me fine. I should be finished with the manuscript in less than two weeks. Then for the hard edit, which will take some more time. And the publishing process—well, I cannot put a timeline to that. As soon as it goes to the publisher, I will begin preparing for a month of signings from Memphis to the Mississippi Delta to the Hills of Northeast Mississippi, where I will be at home!

Portions of Chapter Nine
Light in the Darkness
The clock in the hall ticked away at the Jamison farm; Jessie, a nervous wreck. She hoped there was no evidence on her face. She had done her job well, not breathing a word to Rachel, who, suspecting nothing out of the ordinary, was her calm and cool self. Winfield could be late, very late, getting back to Sarepta, which meant that Jake would be past seven o’clock arriving with their guest. Jessie had waited as late as possible to fry the chickens. Potatoes were mashed with fresh cream and butter. Her green beans, which she preferred to cook down with a little bacon grease, sat warming on the back burner. Jake Collins had brought fresh tomatoes earlier in the day. Hot biscuits, basted with a brush of buttermilk, were ready to pop into the stove while two pecan pies cooled on the sideboard. Jessie had told Savannah everything, and she had gladly helped her mother prepare, purely delighted she would soon be seeing Mr. Oscar Alexander in person for the first time.
At just after dusk, Matlock charged into Sarepta, passing the Mercantile, Post Office, and The Inn, and headed for Winfield’s Livery Stable. The sun had dropped against an autumn landscape and the clear sky was filling up with stars, offering an enchanting evening. In spite of all the travel, there was no sign of fatigue on the faces of the three men who rode into town. The event was too significant to waste on exhaustion.
"Here we are, Oscar. Our little piece of the South. You blink and you miss most of it.”
Oscar laughed, partly giddy, partly overcome with joy at having arrived.
“I’m sure Rachel will see to it that you get a grand tour of her town.”
“Well, I can say one thing, Winfield, you have given me a splendid ride so far, one that will be with me forever, a great beginning toward understanding the lay of the Southland that I’ve only known as a fantasy. It is slowly coming to life for this city man.”
He opened his valise and handed Winfield an envelope fat with money in payment of everything, including the use of the horse and carriage for two weeks and a ride back to the Memphis train station.
“No sir, Oscar. I can’t take your money.”
Oscar put a second envelope into his hands. “You don’t have a choice, Winfield. And this envelope is for the purchase of the horse you loaned Rachel. I want her to have her own horse. That is, if you will house Jasmine if Rachel were to happen to go back with me to New York. Then I will send monthly board.”
“Oscar, this is far more than generous,” said Winfield. “And what you just said could turn into somethin’ that would grieve me. Losin’ Miss Rachel, that is. I will accept your generous gift, but I will board Rachel’s horse without monthly payment for as long as you require. Can we leave it at that?”
“Yes, yes we can, and thank you kindly. And thank you more than you will ever know for the splendid ride and tours of Memphis and Holly Springs.”
“Pleasure was all mine, sir. I’m honored to be the first to greet you on what I hope and pray will be a continued heartfelt journey to—well, you know what I mean—here comes Jake out to meet us, now. He’s got your horse and carriage ready. It might be more like what you’re used to drivin’ in New York City.”
“It looks splendid," said Oscar.
Winfield introduced Oscar and Jake and the men helped Matlock transfer the baggage.
“Good night, friend,” said Winfield. “I must see you soon, as I want to know from you how this reunion went down! It’s been a pleasure to be in such distinguished company.”
“I’m the one who has profited, Winfield. And we will definitely meet up in the coming days, for I have great plans that include all of us. Good night.”

What takes place before and after this portion of Chapter Nine is an amazing and intriguing love story in which all my Sarepta and New York characters converge upon scenes in the North and in the South to keep the fires burning on the Payne Saga. I’m not saying it will be my last, but it will give conclusiveness to some events and characters that were left in my valley of indecision.

Written on Christmas Eve night,
my 58th wedding anniversary
Jane Bennett Gaddy

P.S. If Rachel appears to be me, Jane Bennett Gaddy, maybe it is true, whether in a fantasy sort of presentation or maybe her character is really who I am. If you know me personally, you won’t have trouble figuring it out. Thank you, dear Readers, for staying with me. You have put The Mississippi Boys and JOAB hardcovers back on the Barnes and Noble rankings. Sometimes I compare my rankings with Eugenia Price's Savannah Series (historical fiction about the South) and right now, I out rank her on a couple of books, though she only published paperbacks. However, she out ranks me on a lot more than that!


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