A Nation Divided, Vol. 1: Storms Gather (Book on CD)

by Robert Marcum


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Product Description

Randolf and Elizabeth Hudson were barely into their teens when they left the persecuted city of Nauvoo with their mother, Mary, and relocated to booming St. Louis. Mary had lost faith in the restored gospel after the deaths of her dear husband and the Prophet Joseph Smith. For the rest of her life, bitterness prevented Mary from ever again speaking of the Church. But now, thirteen years later, civil war looms on the horizon. And as Rand stands by his mother's freshly dug grave, he ponders what the faith he knew as a child might mean for himself and his sister in an increasingly troubled world.

Both independent thinkers, their opposition to slavery places the at odds with friends and family alike, and mounting political tension threatens to tear apart their most cherished relationships. As Rand fights to keep the family's steamship business from a hypocritical uncle who has sold out to treacherous slaveholders and secessionists, Elizabeth struggles to end an ill-suited entanglement that could cripple her freedom. Now both must stand with courage as bonds are tested and old wounds re-opened in the midst one of the darkest periods in history, a time when a great nation divides against itself.

Product Details

  • Size:  6 x 9
  • Pages:  528
  • Published:  10/2012
  • Book on CD:  Unabridged
  • Number of Discs:  11
  • Run Time:  Approx. 14 hrs.

About the Author

Robert Marcum is a retired member of the BYU–Idaho religion faculty and is presently serving as a stake president in the Rexburg Idaho Henry’s Fork Stake. He is married to Janene Andreasen, formerly of Grace, Idaho, and they have eight children and twenty grandchildren. He graduated from BYU in 1972 and received a master’s degree from Idaho State in 1982. He taught for seminaries and institutes for seventeen years before receiving a position at Ricks College/BYU– Idaho, where he taught for another seventeen years. There, he served as chairman of the Religion Department for five years. During that time, he led student and adult tours to Israel, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, and England, and he, his wife, and four children lived in the Ukraine while he taught a semester of religious studies at a university in Donetsk. He has written ten additional novels for the LDS market in action, adventure, and historical fiction.

Chapter One

Randolph Hudson dropped to the hard ground, a bullet streaking through the air where his head had been. Confused and shaking with fear, he tried to force his body even closer to the earth as another bullet whizzed above him. Then another.

Then they stopped, the night suddenly eerily quiet and foreboding. His fear was paralyzing, so strong that he could not move, could hardly breathe. He tried to calm his racing heart as his tears wet the already rain-soaked ground.

Suddenly a strong hand grabbed him by the coat collar, roughly picking him up and half dragging, half carrying him over the soaked earth. He fought, but the grip was so firm and his shoes so slippery that it did no good. Wet mud splattered his face, and a firm palm in his chest pinned him against the rough-hewn boards of a nearby wall.

“Shhh!” The noise was hard and demanding. Rand caught and held his breath, choking down both air and words as he recognized the face that was just an inch away from his own.

His father turned away, peered into the night, and listened. Rand still held his breath. Then his father turned back and spoke quietly.

“Are you all right?”

Rand nodded quickly. Large for the young age of twelve, he frantically swiped at his tears, lest his father think him a coward.

“What is in your head, son? I told you, under no circumstances . . .” Rand winced at his father’s anger and frustration. “You could have been killed.”

“I . . . I just wanted . . . I didn’t know . . .” He forced the words, his fear still heavy against his chest.

Baker Hudson was watching the street. Voices, more shooting, and angry screams pierced the air from several directions.

“You should not have come up here, Randolph. I told you to stay home, take care of your mother and Lizzy!”

“Mother said . . . she needed you . . .” He choked on his own tears.

Baker’s eyes softened, and he took a deep breath. “All right, all right. Calm down. I need you to settle down so we can get out of here.”

Rand finally got his racing heart under control and stared out from behind the wall past his father into the dimly lit street. The full moon revealed no movement; his father took his hand and pulled him up and into the street. There was a sudden flare and explosion. Rand’s scream split the air, and—

Rand sat straight up with a jolt, his eyes wide, anger and fear gripping his heart with tight fists once more. As always, it took several deep breaths to wrest control from this recurring nightmare. He was covered with sweat and immediately threw off the covers. The last embers from the fire in his room gave enough light for him to stumble to the cabinet. Leaning against it, he lowered his head and took several more deep breaths then stood erect, poured water from the pitcher into a basin, and doused his face with it.

The dream was always the same, and it was always just as real as when he had actually lived it. It was the last time he had seen his father alive.

Grabbing a towel, he dried his thin face and dark hair. At nearly six feet tall, Rand had dark eyes that glinted when he smiled and pierced to the soul when he was determined. Like his father, he had thick, black hair and he wore no beard, though he had to shave at least once a day to prevent it. His shoulders were broad but his muscles elongated, quick and powerful when called upon, and he had a sharp mind with an uncanny ability to see solutions that most other men grasped for but never found.

He lit a lamp and glanced at the picture of his father on the end table. Baker Hudson stood tall and somber, his musket slung across his shoulder. He had died that night.

Sitting in the chair in front of the hearth, Rand put his head in his hands, wondering if the dreams would ever stop, ever quit haunting his nights. He picked up a second picture of both his father and mother from the reading table next to his chair and let his thoughts drift back.

As part of the Nauvoo Legion, Baker Hudson had helped protect the city against mobs, violence, and even friends who had turned enemies. He was well thought of, even loved by the leaders of the Church, and had been asked to lead a company of Saints west when that trek began. But all that had changed when Baker Hudson was killed just a few days before they were to leave.

The Hudson home had been in turmoil after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage. Rand didn’t know why then, and wasn’t completely sure why even now, but his parents had carried on hushed arguments about what would happen, where they should go, and whether they would follow Brother Brigham. When attacks from mobs resumed and the less firm in the faith began to leave the Church, his mother also seemed ready to leave it, while his father remained steadfast. But his mother had stayed by his side, even supported his decision, and all of them had been planning on making the trip west. But after his father’s death at the hands of the mob, she became adamant. They would not go.

Packing up her children and her servants, she had moved them and all they owned south to St. Louis, telling them only that she’d had enough of the trials of a new religion and the sorrows it seemed to bring. Her seeming bitterness for the price her family paid had changed Rand’s life forever.

At the time, Rand had hated her for it and swore to her that he would run away. But he had not. He could not, not with his father’s last words to him haunting his thoughts. He had promised to take care of his mother and Lizzy, and he could not break that promise.

He looked at the picture of his parents, taken at their baptism. Now they were both gone.

He felt exhausted but knew he would not sleep. He never did after one of these nightmares. He got up and put on his wool robe and his slippers. Lighting a small lamp, he left his room and went down the wide staircase to the main floor, then to his mother’s library. He entered, lit several lamps, and poked the embers in the fireplace before throwing on some kindling. When the flames were high, he added larger split quarters. He warmed his hands and then turned to glance around the room.

This had been his mother’s domain—the place where she and Rand had spent endless hours during the last sixteen years discussing everything from business to women, though not always in that order. Papers, books, reports, and ledgers, all stacked high across the large cherrywood desk, seemed to await her return. Though she had been gone for more than a week, he could not bring himself to go through any of it yet.

But then there really wasn’t any need.

He felt the tears welling once more and forced them away; going to her desk, he sat in his usual chair across from hers. Few people knew that Mary Hudson had been the silent power behind his father’s highly successful business ventures. Intelligent and well educated for a woman of her day, Mary Hudson had a knack for seeing advantage where others saw only ruin. She had counseled her husband privately to buy and sell properties that others regarded as liabilities. Her counsel had paid off in large profits, which his father and mother had used to build a small fortune. Of course, few men knew of his mother’s involvement in those early successes in New York state and of her shrewd dealings with money after coming to St. Louis.

Though much of the Hudsons’ early fortune had been spent moving to Nauvoo, building a home and business there, and making contributions to the building of the temple and the city, there had still been enough left to get a new start in St. Louis. The city was a boomtown with opportunities waiting on every corner if one had the ability to see them. Mary Hudson had possessed that ability and had used it to very quickly rebuild their fortune and take it to new levels. Hudson Company’s manufacturing and shipping businesses were the biggest in the state and well known across the country. They stood now as a monument to Mary Hudson.

Rand took a deep breath and forced himself out of his chair to hers. Lighting the lamp on the desk, he began perusing the papers. It was time. Though his mother’s assets had already been transferred to him and Lizzy, there were papers here that needed filing.

The sun was giving light to the room by the time Rand had the desk materials organized. He moved to the drawers, only to find the top left drawer locked. Removing a key from the middle drawer, he unlocked it to find a handcrafted walnut box inside. Though it was obviously worn from use, he could not remember ever having seen it before. Removing it from the drawer, he placed it on the desk, raised the lid, and looked inside. The book he found was familiar, though he had not seen it in years. With reverence he lifted it from the box and turned back the front cover, where his mother’s signature graced the top in her beautiful hand, along with what Rand knew to be her baptismal date.

There was a knock at the door, then it opened slightly and his sister’s head appeared. “Are you all right?” she asked.

He sat back, nodding. “Yes, fine,” he said softly. “What time is it?”

She slipped inside the room and looked at the clock on the mantel. Apparently it was easier to ask than to look. “Six a.m.”

Rand nodded, his eyes on his sister. She looked so much like their mother, her long blond hair hanging past her shoulders and setting off her thin features and large brown eyes. At five feet eight inches in height, she was taller than most women, and her thin form hid a physical ability and strength few women possessed. Smart, quick, and more energetic than most men, Lizzy was created in her mother’s image. She lowered herself into the chair opposite him, her usually bright eyes filled with concern. “I heard you cry out. I . . .”

“I’m fine, Lizzy, really. Just the dream.”

It was no surprise to Lizzy. She understood that from the time their father was killed, Rand blamed himself, though she and their mother had both tried to help him understand it was not his fault. He had finally come to a tentative peace about it during daylight hours, but the dreams continued.

“Did I wake Andrew?” Rand asked.

She shook her head in the negative. Andrew was Rand’s best friend from the academy and had come to attend his mother’s funeral. Andrew’s room was three doors down from Rand’s at the far end of the upper hall.

“When was the last time this happened?” Lizzy asked.

“Too long ago to remember,” Rand answered. He didn’t tell her he’d awakened early this time. The ending was the worst part, and he was glad to have been spared this time. The two men who had threatened to kill him after killing his father had not made it into this dream. He was grateful.

Lizzy looked around the room. Neither she nor Rand had been in it since their mother’s death. So many memories. She felt the tears well up in the corners of her eyes and blinked in an effort to force them away.

“Have you seen this lately?” he asked, his eyes on the book as he thumbed through it.

She leaned toward him, grateful for the diversion. As she saw what it was, she drew in a soft breath. “It has been years. Where was it?”

“In this box.”

Lizzy glanced at it. “The one Dad gave her when they got married. I remember.”

Rand nodded. “The pages are more worn than I recall.”

Lizzy took the offered book and thumbed through the pages. “Her notations. There seem to be even more.”

“She studied for endless hours, hardly able to put it down. She’d even read as she worked so we could hear it. ”

“Then she would discuss it with us at dinner,” Lizzy said with a smile.

“It was her very strong witness about this book that gave life to my own testimony,” Rand said.

“And mine.” Lizzy took a deep breath, sadness in her eyes. “And then she just walked away.”

“And everything about the Church became suddenly taboo,” Rand said with some frustration.

“And we finally quit bringing it up.”

“It just didn’t seem worth it after a while,” Rand said.

Both of them sat in silence, thinking, once more pondering the past.

“Do you remember sneaking off to church with me, at least at first?” Lizzy asked with a sudden smile.

He chuckled. “We told her we were going for a Sunday morning ride. We would take the horses up in the hills, then cut across the country and work our way into the city to the hall where the branch was meeting at the time.” He shook his head as the memories returned. “There were lots of immigrants in those meetings. I couldn’t believe some of their stories. The losses to disease and the horrible conditions where they lived in England and Ireland.” He paused, a slight smile on his lips as he remembered. “I nearly went west with one of them.”

“Christine. The green-eyed girl with blazing red hair.” Lizzy laughed. “You had a horrible crush on her.”

“Yes, well, you weren’t without a few of your own. “The convert from France. You fell for him the first time you saw him.”

She smiled. “It was the accent. Then I found out he was married.” She played with a wayward strand of hair. “Do you ever wonder how our lives would be different if we had gone west?”

“I did at first.” He shrugged. “But then things changed. They closed the branch when the Church started bringing converts through New York, and there was no place to go anymore. I started to find other interests on the Sabbath.”

“But you kept reading, didn’t you?” she asked as she handed their mother’s book back to him.

“For a while, then just off and on, when a crisis or something happened.” He fingered the cover of his mother’s book. “I hate to admit it, but I stopped altogether five or six years ago. And you?”

“I still read almost every day, and I write letters to a few friends still, but most have stopped replying,” she said wistfully. “They’re married now, and I am sure they just don’t have time.” Lizzy was nearly twenty-four. Most girls were married by twenty, but not Lizzy. It wasn’t that she had not had opportunity. But most . . . well, she wanted someone about whom she was passionate—someone who would more than just provide and protect, someone who made her go soft in the knees. There simply hadn’t been any of those. At least not until now. She pushed aside the thought to prevent a flush to her face and tried to remember what it was she had been saying. “I . . . I feel just as strongly as I ever did about the Church, Rand, maybe even more so. It is so wonderful to know what we know. I hope you will start reading again. I really do.”

He laid the book aside. “I still believe, Lizzy. What I know has prevented me from picking up horrible habits like spitting at spittoons and potbellied stoves. That must be worth something.”

Lizzy chuckled. “Yes, it’s worth a great deal.” Her eyes went to her feet with a sudden thought. “Do you . . . do you ever tell others?” She looked up.

He avoided her eyes. “Not since we first moved here. You?”

“I stopped when plural marriage was announced.” She paused. It hurt to think about. After moving to St. Louis she had told her closest friends about her faith. They had thought it unusual, a curiosity, and a good secret. Until the Church had announced plural marriage. Then everything had changed. “We are such hypocrites, aren’t we?” She leaned forward, her eyes sad again.

“Yes, we are,” he replied softly.

There was a knock at the door, and one of the servants announced that breakfast would be ready in twenty minutes. Lizzy glanced at the clock. She still had to dress and shoved aside her sadness before getting up from her chair. “Then I suppose the question is, what are we going to do about it?” She stepped around the desk and leaned down and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then stared into his eyes. “We must talk more about this, Rand. I don’t like being a hypocrite, and I am tired of being alone when it comes to our beliefs.”

Standing straight, she turned toward the door. “Don’t forget, you have to take Andrew to catch his steamship this morning.” She closed the door behind her.

Rand smiled. Lizzy was strong willed, and he could expect to hear about it all again, like it or not. But he found himself looking forward to it. His mother’s death had caused more turmoil for him than he had thought possible. Though he was an adult of an independent nature, having both his mother and father gone was more frightful than he had expected. He had finally cried for relief through prayer. Possibly this was at least part of his answer.

His gaze went to his mother’s book even as he wondered where his own Book of Mormon was. It wasn’t that he hadn’t seen it over the years—he had—but he always just shoved it back in the drawer or closet or put it on a shelf and left it alone. He determined to locate it.

He put the wooden box back in the drawer and locked it as another knock sounded on the door and Lydijah entered. A large, round black woman with a deep voice that soothed as well as commanded, Lydijah was the head housekeeper and ran the place with a tight hand. Her husband, Mose, of similar size and nature, ran the farm. Rand loved them both nearly as much as he loved his own parents, and now they were all that remained of their Nauvoo family.

“Mista Ran’, Mista Clay be leavin’ soon. Breakfast be ready shortly. You best be gettin’ ready.” She glanced at the desk that had been cleaned and organized. “’Bout time you done it,” she said. “Time to get on with things ’round here.”

Rand smiled as she closed the door. Upon the death of his mother from something the doctors had never been able to pinpoint with any clarity, no one had cried harder or longer than Lydijah. It had been the same when his father had died. It was Lydijah who had most helped Rand deal with his loss—not just the loss of his father but the loss of his Nauvoo home, friends, and religion. Had it not been for Lydijah, Rand knew he would have drifted away far more quickly, and probably more completely, than he had.

The door opened again. “I means what I says, Mista Ran’. Now you get movin’, ya here? You been mopin’ ’round here long enough, and Miss Mary wouldn’t like it none. Mista Benjamin has business wi’d you, and you hain’t been in de office fo’ days, and all dem steamers probably rotting in deys docks. Now get goin’, ’fore I gets my whip and makes you do it.”

The door slammed shut, punctuating her words and forcing a smile to Rand’s lips. She was right; he hadn’t left the house for more than a week, hadn’t even thought of work, but he hadn’t spent the entire time moping either. War was coming, and he had spent a good deal of time looking over possible places to take his steamers when it did. Missouri could go over to the South, and he wasn’t about to lose his ships in the chaos. As one of the country’s largest steamer companies, Hudson Company would lose millions if that happened—and as president of the company, Rand wasn’t about to let it. He’d pored over maps for hours, written letters, and sent out inquiries about alternate ports. Being home had given him the chance to do so without the disturbance of everyday business and without raising suspicion with his uncle Benjamin, whom Rand wanted to keep out of these dealings.

Benjamin was his mother’s brother and had been a constant thorn in her side—and now in Rand’s. The man was horrible with money and accumulated debt like high mountains accumulated snow in winter. He had managed one of their companies into the ground, and something had to be done. To make matters worse, Benjamin had recently purchased a small foundry and gun works on credit; Rand had no idea how he intended to pay for it without the help of Hudson Company, but Rand was certainly reluctant to give it. It would be like pouring money into a raging river and expecting a full recovery.

He left the library and hurried upstairs to his room, shaving and dressing as quickly as he could.

Grabbing his valise and filling it with necessary papers, he blew out the lamps and left the room, meeting Lizzy as she stepped into the hall from her own room.

“Andrew’s things have been taken to the carriage. May I accompany you to the docks?” Lizzy asked.

“Of course,” he said with a forced smile as they started down the steps. The amount of time Lizzy had spent with Andrew made Rand a bit nervous.

To this day Rand found it amazing that he and Andrew Clay had ever become friends at all. Andrew had been spoon-fed Southern pride, states’ rights, and slaves as human property since he was knee high to a spider. Whether he admitted it or not—and even though he had privately told Rand he hated slavery—he was as stuck in those arguments as the strict Southern-rights and slave-holding father he had sworn he would never be like. He was a Southern gentleman, born and bred, and any personal dislike he had for slavery was simply swallowed up by the greater Southern family into which he was born.

Rand hated the idea but knew that if war really did come, he and Andrew would almost certainly be fighting on opposite sides. There would be dozens of others he had served with at the academy fighting for the South as well. It gave him chills to think about.

“You are going to work,” Lizzy said with a pleased smile. At times Rand admired the way Lizzy could hide her feelings. During the day it was if nothing happened, but at night, behind closed doors, he knew the tears flowed.

“Lydijah’s orders,” Rand said.

She smiled. “Good for Lydijah. You have been . . . well, hiding in that room of yours far too much.”

“Yes, but with good purpose.”

She glanced at him curiously. “And what purpose would that be?”

They had arrived at the dining room, where Andrew sat waiting. He rose to greet them, and Rand smiled at Lizzy. “We’ll talk later.”

Andrew, in full military uniform, placed his hat on a nearby chair. His sandy hair was short and, like Rand, he had no beard. He was of average height and weight, with blue eyes that glinted with mischief from a face that always seemed tanned. Most women found no imperfections in Andrew Clay. Rand had learned in their training at the academy that his friend was deceptively quick, agile, and strong, and that behind those clear blue eyes was a sharp, quick mind of above-average intelligence. With his smooth charm, he was never left wanting as far as women were concerned—a trait that caused Rand to worry a bit for Lizzy.

Rand greeted him with a smile and a “Good morning.” Lizzy added her greeting with a bit of a blush that caused Rand to wince.

They all sat as breakfast was put before them under Lydijah’s watchful eye.

“Eat hearty, Andrew,” Rand said. “It is a long way to South Carolina.”

“Your steamers have fine kitchens, Randolph. My greatest fear is that I will return overweight and very indolent. Your hospitality, and that of Elizabeth, has spoiled me.”

Rand noted the glance between his friend and sister and once more felt a twinge of relief that Andrew’s visit was over.

They talked of simple things, avoided politics as usual, and were soon finished. Gathering their coats, the three of them were soon in the carriage. Rand had forgotten his valise, and after returning to retrieve it, found himself sitting opposite Andrew and Lizzy. From Rand’s perspective, they sat much too close to one another, and for a brief moment he was tempted to sit between them. He resisted, knowing Lizzy would throw him from the carriage for it. Still, it was a temptation.

The ride to the docks took only about fifteen minutes.

“I am sorry that I haven’t been very good company, Andrew, but . . .” Rand started to say.

“It is quite all right. Lizzy has done her very best to pick up the slack,” Andrew said with a glint in his eye aimed at Lizzy, who seemed to blush a bit.

Rand was not amused. “How are things at home, Andrew?” he began.

“Fine,” Andrew said with a slight smile.

“And your father, is he still involved in politics?”

“My father will always be involved in politics,” Andrew said flatly.

“I assume he supports Breckinridge,” Rand said.

From southern Kentucky, John C. Breckinridge was a slaveholder. When Stephen A. Douglas had refused to support a proslavery agenda, the Democratic party had split and the slave states held their own convention, electing Breckinridge as their candidate.

“Yes, Father supports him. He feels Breckinridge will protect the South if elected.”

“And continue to allow slavery,” Rand said. “Breckinridge will not be elected, Andrew, and we all know it,” he added. “The Southern states nominated him to send a message. They want a president who will protect slavery, and if we in the North don’t give it to them, they will secede. Breckinridge is an attempt to blackmail the rest of us into submission. As I have said before, it is not a solution your father and other Southerners want, Andrew. It is a continuation, and we cannot, will not, give it to you.”

Andrew glanced at Lizzy, “So I have heard.”

“He just doesn’t listen very well, I’m afraid,” Lizzy said with a wry smile.

Rand and Lizzy had learned as children about the evils of slavery. Their father’s father had held slaves, and Baker Hudson had learned to abhor it, setting free the slaves he inherited. From the time they were old enough to sit up straight, their father had taught Lizzy and Rand the inhumanity of the practice. Having Lydijah, Mose, and other freedmen as near relations helped them see them as real people instead of the beasts of burden for which some used them.

“Between the two of you, I have spent most of the last six years of my life hearing about the evils of slavery,” Andrew said. “What neither of you seem to accept is that I was already a convert before I met you, but as I have told you endless times, it is not easy to set free nearly two hundred slaves without them immediately starving to death,” Andrew said.

“Now, now, dear boy, aren’t you being a little bit dramatic?” Lizzy said. “We have discussed at length how such a thing has been done on other plantations and it can work at the Meadowlands as well.”

“Other plantations do not have my father to deal with,” Andrew said with some frustration.

“That’s true enough,” Rand said. “A tyrant if there ever was one, Elizabeth.”

“Yes, so you have both told me . . .” she pretended to count on her fingers, “. . . twenty-eight times. The only thing I cannot understand is how such a tyrant could possibly produce such a handsome man as this one.” She leaned into Andrew and put her arm through his, pulling in close.

“It was his mother,” Rand said, a bit disgruntled at his sister’s show of fondness of Andrew.

“Yes, my mother,” Andrew said, enjoying her sudden attention.

“Well, then, I must meet her sometime,” Lizzy said with some allure.

“I will see if it can be arranged if you like,” Andrew replied.

Rand caught the smile that transpired between them and wished he had not left them alone as much as he had. Though he and Andrew were best of friends he did not relish the idea of Andrew using his charm on Lizzy. Though Lizzy hated slavery even more than Rand did, love changed minds as well as hearts.

He was about to speak when they arrived at the dock and their carriage came to a halt. Rand pulled his watch from his pocket and gave it a hard look. It would be an hour before the steamer would leave.

“I fear to leave you two alone, but I am afraid I must. Uncle Benjamin has someone he wishes me to meet with this morning, and—”

“We are not in love, Rand . . .” Lizzy said with a sly smile.

Rand’s relief at this bold admission was instantly dashed by her completion of the sentence.

“At least not yet.” She smiled mischieviously. “Andrew knows that I would never marry a man who holds slaves, don’t you, Andrew?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” he said. “But, I shall continue to rely on my exceptional good looks and wealth to sway you somehow. Is it possible?”

“Highly unlikely,” Lizzy said. “My hand is not so easily won, Mr. Clay. You should know that by now,”

“Yes, unfortunately, I do.” He smiled. “But, I shall perservere in hopes that someday . . .”

“How gallant of you,” Lizzy said wryly. She leaned over to Rand from where she sat and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Have a wonderful day, dear. Now boys, be off with you. I have shopping to do.”

“Shopping? But I thought we . . .” Andrew was completely surprised at this sudden development.

Lizzy turned to him and gave him a full kiss on the lips. “I’m sorry, darling, but your steamer leaves, your plantation awaits, and life goes on.”

He fumbled for his watch and quickly glanced at it. “Not for twenty minutes. We . . .”

“But I am sure you two boys have things to talk about. Now out of my carriage before I have Elliot give the boot to both of you. Go on. Scoot.”

Rand and Andrew both scrambled from the carriage, received Andrew’s luggage from Elliot, and watched the carriage pull away. Andrew was quite stunned, Rand amused.

“Charming, isn’t she?” Rand said with a chuckle.

“Most of the time,” Andrew said. “Why do I have the feeling I have just been struck by . . . by . . . lightning?”

Rand put his arm around his friend’s shoulder. “You should actually take it as a good sign.”

“And why would that be?”

“Because Lizzy likes you, more than I care to have her like you. That’s just her way of leaving you . . . shall we say . . . wanting more?”

Andrew grinned. “Well, it worked.”

“How does it feel to get a little of your own medicine?”

“Horrible,” Andrew said.

“Then good for Lizzy,” Rand grinned.

Rand picked up one of the two suitcases and waited while Andrew quit staring after the carriage and picked up the other. They started walking toward the steamer, The Sam Houston, one of Hudson Company’s finest passenger vessels.

“She’ll never marry you, Andrew,” Rand said.

“Who said I would ask?”

“It’s written all over your face. It is a look I have seen once before,” Rand said.

Andrew had fallen in love once. She was a beautiful but very poor girl whom his father wouldn’t let him marry.

“Yes, well, I fear that I feel even more strongly this time. What can I do to convince her?”

“Selling your slaves would be a good start.”

“Umm. And if I did, would you give your consent as well?” Andrew asked.

“Of course, but we both know it will never happen. Your father—”

“Yes, once again, my father.” They walked in silence until they reached the plank breaching the water between dock and steamer. “Lizzy is just what my father needs, you know.”

“But your father isn’t what Lizzy needs, is he?” Rand asked matter-of-factly.

The whistle blew and Rand looked up to see the captain. He waved and received one in return, then extended his hand. “I hope we see each other again, Andrew, but I fear that war will come and you and I—”

“You shouldn’t. There will be no war. It will be settled before we get to that, you will see.”

“Umm. I hope you are right, but I suppose having a war would have a silver lining,” Rand said.

Andrew gave him a quizzical look.

“It will free all slaves and Lizzy might consider marriage, once she gets past how homely you really are.”

Andrew chuckled. “I had forgotten how sharp your tongue can be.”

“Then just another reminder. If you hurt Lizzy, I will take it very personally and you won’t like the result.”

Andrew could see he was very serious. “Yes, I know. Good-bye, Rand. I only hope you will let Lizzy decide for herself.” With that he picked up both suitcases and boarded the steamer. Rand watched the boarding ramp be pulled aboard and the lines withdraw; he finally waved to Andrew, now at the rail on the second deck with other pasengers, as the steamer pulled away. He turned toward his office.

When he and Andrew first met, Rand thought they were poles apart when it came to slavery, but as time went on and they had private discussions—discussions where other Southerners were not present to influence Andrew—Rand found that Andrew personally and privately hated slavery, mostly for what it had done to his father. But in public he continued to defend it, helping Rand reach the conclusion that Andrew Clay would never publicly turn away from Southern views no matter the cost to him personally. It was the major reason he was concerned about Lizzy’s interest in him.

He took a deep breath, shaking off the dark, hard feelings that such thoughts seemed to always bring. Possibly he should have said more when he first saw Lizzy’s interest in Andrew growing, but he knew then, even as he knew now, it would do no good. Lizzy was her own woman and to try to drive a wedge between her and Andrew would only drive them together.

The sun seemed to disappear, and Rand pulled his coat up around his ears, his thoughts on Andrew’s last words. Lizzy was also a smart woman with strong instincts—often stronger even than his own. He must trust that she would not let her heart control her good sense, because in the end it really did have to be her decision.

Pure Fiction

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  September 12, 2013

They advertise this as a historical fiction and it's not historically accurate at all (they wouldn't say "umm" in the 1820's) I couldn't get through the first chapter without getting descriptions of dysfunctional romance. It's not intellectually challenging, but if you like pure fiction this works for you. The author tried to write a good book but it didn't fit the bill.

Excellent Novel!

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  October 06, 2013

One of the best historical novels I've read in a long time! Loved it. I was a history major in college and loved studying the Civil War. The author developed these characters perfectly and kept me engaged throughout. I also felt he did a nice job placing these characters inside the historical events of the time. Highly recommend, even if you are not a history buff! Just got the 2nd book and will read it this week.

Great historical fiction

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  October 22, 2012

I am not a big historical fiction person. But, I loved this book. The characters are so well done. You love some of them. Hate some of them. And love and hate some of them. Not to mention the in depth information on live surrounding the Civil War. Very interesting. Definitely a must read.

Excellemt story

by  James  -   reviewed on  January 01, 2013

This is a page turner. You cannot wait to read the next volume. When is the release date scheduled. Please place me on the list.

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