Winter Tea Party winners: Angela's book,THE SCARLET COAT, will go to: Print copy- Andrea Stephens; e-book copy - Catherine Wight!

LUCY REYNOLDS has a table topper quilt on the way, and winners of the Valentine Ebook Collection are: Deanna Stevens, Caryl Kane, Anne Payne and Winnie Thomas. With thanks to all who joined in!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Houses in Colonial America

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Although most people in colonial America lived in small one room houses or log cabins, more prosperous land owners would have nicer homes. Here's a list of the styles of homes people built in colonial America.

Wattle and Daub homes were built in Jamestown when the English settled there. When the Pilgrims came to America, they also opted for wattle and daub designs. These houses had wood frames and were filled in with sticks and daub made from clay, mud, or grass. They generally had thatched roofs, wood floors, and one room.

Later, land owners built plantation style homes with more than one room. These houses were French Colonial style. They had two stories, multiple rooms and fireplaces, and glass windows. Creole homes were a smaller version of this style. They had French doors and wrap around mantels and were made with heavy wood timbers and had columns to support the roofs.

Georgian Colonial homes were the houses we think of when someone mentions a Southern colonial. In the 1720s, these houses became popular all over the colonies. These homes had large square rooms with a center hall where the stairs were located and were known for pedestaled doors, porticoes, and a symmetrical floor plans. The style originated in England and was adapted according to the resources available in the colonies.

Architect Robert Adam came up with the federalist style which became a mainstay shortly before the Revolutionary War and for the early years of our nation's history. The style was inspired by classic Roman architecture, but it used some of the style features in Georgian homes. Because of the patriotic fervour of the time it was coined "federal" although it was also called Adam's style. The main colors were yellow, white, and red. The floor plan was basically a box with symmetrical rooms, two or more deep. The front door had pilasters or columns on either side. The windows had small panes, lined horizontally and vertically in groups of seven, five or three.

The log cabin is usually the home you think of when talking about American architecture. This style home was built when people moved into wilderness areas because they didn't have the resources to mill the wood. Instead they would cut down the trees and use the unmilled logs as their building materials. These homes were rustic 12 by 16 foot square homes with dirt floors. Windows were cut into the walls and covered with wood or animal skins. Log cabins were usually meant to be temporary homes until the family could arrange for something nicer to be built. 

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. Tamera has two novellas in print: A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope. Her first full length novel, Alice’s Notions, was released this month.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Big Hair of the 1770s – Decorations

by Denise Weimer

In my last post, I confessed to a long-standing curiosity about the high court women’s hairstyles of the 1770s and shared some of my findings about maintenance and style. But we could not rightfully conclude any discussion of this quirky topic without exploring the icing on the cake, so to speak … the bounty of decorations with which courtiers of the period topped their tresses.
“The number of ladies' hair-dressers increased so much, that there were no less than 1200 of them in Paris in 1769” (The Eighteenth Century: Its Institutions, Customs, and Costumes, by Paul La Croix, 1876, New York and London). French court hair-dressers like Rose Bertin (marchandes des modes to Queen Marie Antoinette, who became head of the Fashion-Makers Guild in 1776) and Léonard set fashions other copied. “Léonard was the inventor of the wonderful modes of wearing the hair which were in vogue for more than ten years” (La Croix).
Bertin created the pouf a la circonstance, a little bonnet or round fabric on which various decorations like flowers, feathers, jewels, fruit or even landscapes or bird cages could be placed. Consider the pouf a charm bracelet for the head. Its decorations could reflect the attachments of the wearer, the season or national events. Yes, la belle poule really included the recreation of a ship as part of a headdress worn at the court of Louis XVI. And a hot air balloon style celebrated scientific experiments along the same lines.
Regular citizens without need to imitate the eccentricity of courtiers still attempted to heighten their hair. Sketches from the period show even bar maids with small caps crowning heaps of tresses. Formal portraits most often depict height with a string of pearls.
Before we become too judgmental about 1770s hair, how many of us sported a 1960s beehive or hair sprayed our locks to heaven in the ‘80s? We had to balance out those shoulder pads just like the 1770s ladies did with their paniers, right? 

Some online sources consulted: Démodé: Historical Costume Projects & Research Sources, Specializing in the 18th Century, “Women’s Hairstyles & Cosmetics of the 18th Century: France & England, 1750-1790. Two Nerdy History Girls Blog, “The Truth about the Big Hair of the 1770s,” August 18, 2015. On Pins and Needles Blog, “Le Pouf: Fashion and Social Satire in the 1770s-1780s,” by Landis Lee, February 1, 2012.

Monday, April 10, 2017

This Month In Colonial History: April

Washington Irving's Encounter with George Washington.jpg
Washington Irving meeting George Washington
It's that time again!

1: Oliver Pollack invents the dollar sign: $ (1778)

2: Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon sights Florida for the first time, and after landing at what is now St. Augustine, claims it for the Spanish Crown. (St. Augustine has the distinction of being the continental US’s oldest city.) (1513)

2: Congress passes the Coinage Act, establishing the U.S. Mint. (1792)

3: Birth of American folk writer Washington Irving (1783-1859) in New York City.

By George Bernard Butler, jr. - Historic Hudson Valley, Public Domain, Link

7: Uprising by 27 enslaved Africans. The state militia was called out to deal with the situation; 6 slaves committed suicide and 21 were executed. (1712)

9: French explorer LaSalle reaches the Mississippi river. (1691)

13: Birth of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in Albemarle County, Virginia.

14: First abolitionist society in America founded in Philadelphia. (1775)

14: First American Dictionary of the English Language published by Noah Webster. (1828) Until this time, spelling was not standardized, even among the educated.

15: First school for the deaf established in Hartford, Connecticut, by Thomas H. Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc. (1817)

18: “The Red Coats are coming!” Famous “midnight ride” by Paul Revere--and William Dawes--from Charlestown to Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, on the eve of what is marked by many as the beginning of the American Revolution. (1775)

19: The Revolutionary War begins at Lexington, Massachusetts. (1775)

24: The founding of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. (1800)

27: First Lieutenant Presley N. O'Bannon, who with seven other Marines was part of a force of Greeks and Arabs led by American Consul William Eaton, raised the United States flag for the first time over a conquered fortress of the Old World at Derne, a stronghold of the Tripolitan pirates. Two Marines were killed and one wounded in the assault on the walled city. (1805, from

Washington's Inauguration.jpg
First Inauguration of George Washington
28: Birth of James Monroe (1758-1831), our 5th US President, in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

30: The presidential oath of office administered for the first time ever, to George Washington. (1789)

My thanks to The History Place, Holiday Insights, and Marine Corps University.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Patrick Henry's Scotchtown House by Cynthia Howerter

I recently visited Scotchtown, the large 18th century house near Richmond, Virginia where American Founding Father Patrick Henry and his family lived between 1771-1778.

Front of the house. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

Built in the 1720s by Charles Chiswell, a local planter and iron mine owner, the house passed through several owners before being purchased by Patrick Henry in 1771. The house is stunning with its beautiful architecture and period furnishings.

Parlor/office. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

The spell-binding account of Patrick Henry's personal and professional life during the tumultuous days of our country's beginnings, delivered effortlessly by our knowledgeable docent Susan, was an incredible treat! I never realized what an interesting man he was until Susan, a local history professor, told us about his life and his many accomplishments. She literally made his life story come alive.

Bedroom. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

Patrick Henry, it turns out, was the kind of human being we all wish we knew. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other founding fathers called him friend as did many people from all walks of life.

The family dining room. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

Patrick was born in 1736 in Hanover County, Virginia to John Henry, an educated Scottish immigrant, and his wife Sarah Winston Syme.

The kitchen is housed inside this building, not far from the main house. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

In 1754 at age eighteen, Patrick wed sixteen-year-old Sarah Shelton, the daughter of a local wealthy family. After failing as a businessman, he needed to find an occupation that allowed him to support his growing family. He decided to study law on his own and received his license in 1760 at age twenty-four after passing the law examination. Thus began his career as a lawyer in Hanover County.

Inside the kitchen. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

In 1763 during a Hanover County trial, Henry's arguments, known as the "Parson's Cause" speech, challenged British authority. His performance in court was electrifying. Not only did he win the case, his fame spread quickly and he was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1765 at age twenty-nine which launched his political career.

In 1765, news reached Virginia's legislators of the passage of the Stamp Act by the British Parliament. Although Virginia and all of the American colonies were under British rule, Virginia's House of Burgesses opposed the Stamp Act's taxation on constitutional grounds. An outspoken opponent of the Act, Henry penned his "Stamp Act Resolves" which disagreed with Parliament's authority to tax the thirteen colonies and submitted it to the Burgesses. His outspoken opposition to the Act helped plant the seeds for the colonies to revolt against the British Crown in the 1770s.

In 1769, Patrick was permitted to practice law before the Virginia's highest judicial body, the General Court.

Now involved in the law and politics, Patrick purchased the Scotchtown plantation in 1771 and moved there with his wife and five children. Shortly after settling in, he and Sarah welcomed their sixth child into the world.

The kitchen. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

After the Boston Tea party took place in December 1773, the colonies began uniting in their opposition to British authority. Henry was elected to attend the Continental Congress's first session which met in Philadelphia in September 1774. It was there that the delegates from the thirteen colonies experienced his persuasive speaking talent. He declared that "I am not a Virginian, but an American," which assisted in solidifying the representatives' resolve to band the colonies together as a cohesive unit.

Children's toys in the drawing room. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

On March 23, 1775, Patrick rode his horse from Scotchtown to St. John's Church in nearby Richmond where the second Virginia Convention was meeting and gave his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. Soon after this oration, his wife died in April and was buried on the grounds of Scotchtown.

In April 1775, Lord Dunmore, Virginia's royal governor, had British soldiers confiscate the gunpowder stored in Williamsburg's Public Magazine. Though grieving the recent loss of his wife of twenty-one years, Patrick led the Hanover County militia company that he commanded to Williamsburg and insisted that Dunmore either return or pay for the powder. Lord Dunmore was not pleased and in May, called upon Virginians to give no aid or support to Patrick. Timing is everything; the American Revolution had already started and Dunmore's edict was ignored.

In June 1776, Virginia colonists elected Patrick to serve as the first governor of Virginia for a one year term. He was reelected in 1777, serving three consecutive one-year terms between 1776-1779. He also served as governor for two additional one-year terms between 1784-1786, living each time in the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg which had formerly been the dwelling of British-appointed Royal Governors.

The laundry building. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

In October 1777, the forty-one-year old widower married twenty-two-year-old Dorothea Dandridge, the granddaughter of Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood and a cousin of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. During their twenty-two-year marriage, they had eleven children together.

In 1778 while serving as Virginia's governor in Williamsburg, Patrick and his family left Scotchtown and sold the estate. The house passed through several owners until it came into the possession of the Sheppard/Taylor family in 1801 where it remained until Virginia Preservation purchased it in 1957 for $17,000.

Scotchtown was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

This is the back of the house which is virtually identical to the front. Photo by Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

I hope you make it a point to visit Scotchtown which is located near Richmond and Ashland, Virginia. You won't be disappointed. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly and the house is beautiful.

Check out Scotchtown's website for times and activities by clicking here -> Patrick Henry's Scotchtown.

Thank you to Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown for permitting me to photograph and display my photos of Patrick Henry's house. A special thank you to our incredible tour guide Susan who also recommended some great books about Patrick Henry. And my sincere appreciation to Garnet Stevens, Scotchtown's Site Coordinator, who graciously explained the policy for photography for Preservation Virginia's Historic Sites and made my husband's day by talking about the Philadelphia Flyers.

All photographs ©2017 Cynthia Howerter, courtesy of Preservation Virginia/Scotchtown.

Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter grew up playing in Fort Rice, a Revolutionary War fort owned by family members, and lived on land in Pennsylvania once called home by 18th century Oneida Chief Shikellamy. Hunting arrowheads and riding horses at break-neck speed across farm fields while pretending to flee from British-allied Indians provided exciting childhood experiences for Cynthia and set the stage for a life-long love of all things historical. A descendant of a Revolutionary War officer and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), history flows through Cynthia's veins.

Find Cynthia Howerter on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Are you going through difficult times or know someone who is? Do you need encouragement to get through a tough situation? There's nothing like 25 true stories from people who have been in your shoes and succeeded. You can purchase a copy of the award-winning non-fiction anthology that Cynthia co-authored with La-Tan Roland Murphy from Amazon by clicking here > God's Provision in Tough Times   Available in paperback and Kindle.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sneak peek - The Patriot and the Loyalist!

Hello, all! Angela here, and I am so excited to give you a sneak peek of my new release, The Patriot and the Loyalist! I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. ;)

Completing his three years in the Continental Army, Daniel Reid still has no desire to return home—not after losing the woman he loves to a British Captain—so he volunteers to ride south through enemy lines and deliver a message to Colonel Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. With his temper needing a release and a dark haired beauty finding her way into his broken heart, Daniel decides to join the Swamp Fox's efforts against the British. Little does he know the British still have the upper hand.

Lydia Reynolds has learned that love comes at a price, and she refuses to pay. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won't grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope—if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn't grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes...

Until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded...and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.


South Carolina, November 1780

     Daniel Reid slowed his horse and sucked air into his lungs as he reined to the road’s grassy edge. Blood pulsated behind his ears but in no way drowned out the pounding hooves of the approaching soldiers, the green of their coats almost deceptive. He was used to scarlet, but no doubt they were British. He’d been warned of Colonel Tarleton and his Green Dragoons.
     With a smile pressed on his lips, Daniel nodded to the commander of the orderly column. The gesture was not returned, only the narrowing of dark eyes—like a snake seeking the next target for his wrath. The colonel looked to the cane fastened to the side of the saddle. Stale breath leaked from Daniel’s lungs, and he laid his fingers over the brass handle, hoping they believed he had need of the cane as he surveyed the rest of the well-armed cavalry.
     Mud and manure-ridden boots. Dark scuffs across legs and sleeves. The acrid aroma of smoke. Horses walked with heads down, weary like the men  who rode them. Obviously, they’d already had a long, productive day, and yet their polished blades glinted with the late afternoon sun, and the barrels of their muskets did not carry the stain of powder.
     As the last soldier passed, Daniel pulled his bay mare back onto the road and encouraged her pace. He raised his gaze to the strip of blue high above the  treed banks of marsh and swamp. Sweat tickled the back of his neck. Nervousness, or the heavy humidity?  Not that it mattered. He’d volunteered for this.
     Thin swirls of smoke rose from the horizon, the first a mile off. Maybe two. Daniel spurred his mount in that direction. He’d never find Colonel Francis Marion if he avoided the prospect of danger.
The trees thinned into farmland and opened into fields left barren from harvest. The sky hazed behind the dissipating smoke. A crumbled barn, not much remaining of it but charred boards and glowing coals, stood not far from a grand house. Was this Tarleton’s work? Or Colonel Marion’s?
     The panicked cry followed a boy as he darted into the brick edifice he no doubt called home—much different from the two-room cabin Daniel had been raised in. Moments later, several young faces appeared in the crack of the open doorway. Dirty, tearstained faces. None were older than ten. Surely this was the work of the British and not the man he sought. Daniel had lost the taste for such deeds years ago. A man should be able to leave his woman and children safely at home. War belonged to men.
     The oldest boy, a sandy-haired lad, stepped back out onto the porch and folded his arms across his chest.
     "What do you want here, Mister?"
     Daniel swung out of his saddle and held his hands away from his sides. "Where are your  folks?"
     The scowl only deepened on the boy’s face as he widened his stance. "You have no right on our land. You’d best get back on that horse of yours or I’ll—"
     The door pushed wide and a woman appeared, a lady, despite her disheveled appearance. "Hush, James. We have no means of knowing who this man  is."
     "But Mother." He spun to her. "You should not be up. I can take care of this."
     "I know you can, James, but I will be fine." With a hand on her son’s shoulder, she gazed at Daniel. Though her chin showed confidence, her eyes pooled with the pain she tried to keep contained.      "Who are you, sir?"
     "I was passing by when I saw the smoke. Who did this?"
     She straightened, wincing as she did so. "You have yet to answer me, sir."
     Daniel couldn’t help but glance around. This far behind enemy lines...yet to complete his mission, how much did he dare reveal? If only he could be certain Tarleton had done this misdeed. But he couldn’t. "I am Sergeant Daniel Reid."
     He met her gaze, trying to read it. Not a single clue. "Of the Continental  Army."
     Her shoulders sagged and trembled. "Praise the Lord."
     Daniel’s hands dropped to his sides. "So the British are responsible."
     "Yes." She stepped around her son and sank to the top step. "My husband was General Richard Richardson. He was taken prisoner by the British because he refused to support them. He’d resigned the army already, but because he couldn’t be bought, they hauled him away, keeping him locked up until he was ill. They let him come home to die. He passed away a couple of months ago."
     "I’m sorry."
     She shook her head as though to wave away his condolences, while glancing to the small family cemetery across the road. A mound of dirt stood dark between the headstones. "Tarleton dug up  his body. He gave some excuse, but really he was treasure hunting." Her fingers hid her eyes. "What sort of monster digs up a man’s grave?"
     The boy set a protective hand on his mother’s head. "Or burns animals to  death."
     Daniel cringed as he looked back at the remains of the barn. That explained the more pungent stench wafting on the air. "Do you know how to find or contact Colonel Marion?"
     "No." Mrs. Richardson blinked hard. "I knew the British hoped to attract him here, so I sent one of my boys to warn him away. Who can say where he’s gone."
     James nodded. "Though, if he had come, the  British wouldn’t have had the nerve to flog a lady."
     Daniel’s gut twisted. The attractive, middle-aged woman was obviously used to a genteel living despite being displaced this far from a town. "Are you all right, ma’am?"
     "I will be fine." Her jaw stiffened and raised a degree. "I only wish I could speed you on your way with the Colonel’s location. You could ask at his plantation. Or check at Port’s Ferry. Rumor has it he camped there most of last month." The lady waved him nearer and lowered her voice. "Or Thomas Amis’s Mill. The Colonel has been there, as well." She pushed to her feet, her hand braced on the railing. "You are from the North?"
     "New York."
     She looked his homespun up and down. Not near as fine as the uniform he’d worn the past three years.
     "I thought as much. Do not get lost in the swamps trying to locate him. Go to Georgetown and find Mister Lawrence Wilsby. He was a friend of my husband’s and true to the cause. He might be able to help you."
     "Thank you, but..." Daniel glanced to the barn, and then back to the three young boys who had made full appearance behind their mother and older brother. A woman, her skin shades darker than his own tanned face, now stood in the doorway with a scowl. Two men, their complexions even darker, moved around from the back of the house.
     Slaves, probably—something quite foreign to him. In the Mohawk Valley, a man labored with his own hands, not someone else’s. Daniel dragged his focus back to Mrs. Richardson. "Is there anything I can  do?"
     Her lips tightened as she shook her head. "I have the help I need. May God speed your way, Sergeant. And may scum like Tarleton reap His wrath."
     Amen. Daniel mounted his mare.
     The oldest boy moved to his side, eyeing the  cane.
     "What is that for, sir? You don’t seem to have a limp?"
     Daniel gave the cane a pat. "This is to keep the British from asking any pressing questions about why I don’t fight for them." He winked, and then with a tip of his hat, reined toward the road. "Thank you, ma’am."
     He fought to keep his mind in the present as he encouraged his horse to a faster clip. But, as always, the image of a barn left in ash accompanied a spade full of guilt and the memory of a woman with hair like new corn silk.
     Rachel Garnet.
     He had prayed that three years would be enough to rid her from his mind.
     "Come on, Madam!" He nudged the animal with  his knees, craving speed, as though the wind could snatch him from the past. Besides, if he kept up the pace, he could reach Georgetown before nightfall.


     "Miss Reynolds, be reasonable. Let me send  for our carriage to take you home."
     Lydia shook her head and pulled up the hood of her cloak. "No, Mr. Hilliard." She slipped the letter he had given her into her reticule and tightened the strings. "It’s not far, and I do not want anyone to know of this. Not yet." She needed time to think and make a plan.
     Ester Hilliard stepped around her father, catching Lydia’s arm before she could turn away. "Do not be foolish."
     "With the British’s presence in Georgetown and Major Layton billeted in our own home, it has never been safer," Lydia replied. But then Ester, three years her senior, always had been overly practical and reserved.
     Lydia threw a farewell wave into the air and hurried out the door. Blackness had spread itself across the town, with nothing but the flicker of a few lamps illuminating the barren streets. The odd scarlet-clad soldier still stood watch, but the townsfolk appeared to be retired for the night. Lydia quickened her steps with the hope that everyone at home had done the same. If Charles found out she’d sneaked out alone instead of going to her bed with a headache as she had insinuated, she’d never hear the end of it. Especially if he knew why. She needed to determine how to confront him. Soon.
     The methodic plodding of hooves on the next street only brushed her mind. Raucous laughter startled her and jerked her attention to the Coat of Arms Tavern. Men’s and women’s voices mingled together. Lydia frowned and pulled her cape closer around her shoulders. She could not understand what would drive a woman to degrade herself so, flinging her attentions at a man for the sake of her purse. She hurried past the establishment and to the end of the block. Even for the sake of a roof over her head she would not concede—though more and more it seemed that was where she stood with Charles, her late sister’s husband. He would no doubt extend an offer of marriage, but Lydia had no desire to sell herself in any form.
     She tightened her grip on her reticule. The letter within represented so much more than a new life. It was freedom. A surge of anticipation propelled her forward, and she darted across the road—directly into the muscular shoulder of a horse.
     Snorting in surprise, the animal reared.
     Lydia scampered out of the way. But not fast enough to be missed by a sharp hoof. Pain seared her shin and she fell on her backside with a thud.
     "Madam, whoa!" The man reined his horse back a few steps before flying from the saddle and to Lydia’s side. He reached for her arm. "I am so sorry,  miss."
     She warned him away with a glare and the wave of a hand, and then pushed to her feet, careful to avoid putting her weight on her injured leg as she smoothed her skirts over it. "I can manage on my own, sir. You would do well to watch where you lead that beast."
      "Pardon me, but it was you who walked into  us."
      She glanced past him to the horse that stood with head low, looking far more apologetic than its master. Or perhaps the animal was merely weary from a long day and many miles. Sweat shimmered on the heavy coat in the dim light of the nearest lamp—a coat ready for a colder winter than Georgetown, or anywhere in South Carolina, would know.
     "That may be, sir, but..." Lydia looked back to the man.
     His clothes, from the knee-high boots meeting his breeches, to a homespun shirt and woolen coat, were nondescript, but that could be said of little else concerning this stranger. He towered over her. Dark waves descended from under his tricorn hat to where they were tied at the nape of his neck. The whiskers shadowing the attractive slope of his jaw showed a week’s growth—if her brother-in-law’s face could be any means of measurement. And his eyes appeared black like coals.
     The pain in her leg pulled her attention back to the present. "Here in the south a gentleman does not place blame on a lady for something when they share equal fault." Though, who could say how far from a gentleman this rogue fell?
     He swept the hat from his head and offered the slightest bow. "I do apologize. And you are correct. It was my fault entirely." His words came with neither humor, nor the attempt to patronize. He seemed as weary as his horse. Which begged the question why? Obviously a northerner, what were his affiliations with the south, Georgetown in particular? Where did his loyalties lie?
     "How far have you come today?"
     The man shoved his hat on his head and turned to his bay mare, his large hands working to straighten the reins across the animal’s shoulders. "Probably fifty miles."
     "And the day before  that?"
     He glanced back at her with raised brow. "A ways."
     "And have you reached your destination, or do you have farther yet to go? Perhaps Charles Town?" Did he side with Britain, or the rebels? Something  about him suggested the latter.
     "That will be determined by what tomorrow brings." He nodded to her. "But for tonight, I should leave you to continue home, while I find lodging."
     The noise spilling to the street from the tavern drew both their gazes.
     "Good evening then, sir." Lydia took a step away. Her bruised, and possibly cut, shin spiked pain through her leg and she bit back a surprised gasp. Powerful fingers wrapped around her arm.
     "You’re hurt."
     "It is nothing." She started walking, trying her best not to limp, and very aware that he hadn’t yet released her. She swatted his hand away. Were all New Englanders so brazen?
     "If you won’t let me help you, then at least allow Madam to make recompense."
     She kept walking.
     He continued to follow.
     "My mare." His chuckle held no mirth.
     "She glanced back at him. "You named your horse Madam?"
     "As a filly she was particularly haughty. And my sisters disliked the name." He cracked a smile. "I assure you she is safe to ride and can carry you wherever you need."
     "I do not need to be carried anywhere. "Lydia again quickened her pace despite the discomfort. "My home is not much farther."
     "You expect me to simply walk away after trampling you with my horse? That would hardly be the gentlemanly thing to do." He continued to keep pace with her, his gait smooth.
     "And I would hardly mistake you for a gentleman." She sensed him stiffen beside her, but if he was determined to see her home, she would resume her interrogation. Maybe this northerner had information useful to the British. "I would guess farmer or laborer. Or soldier? But then why would you ride with no uniform?" She turned to him so she could see his face clearly in the light of the lamp they approached. Ignoring the ache in her leg, Lydia flashed him a smile. She leaned closer and lowered her voice to the breath of a whisper. "You are a Patriot, aren’t you? A spy?"

Available at:    Amazon     -     Barnes & Noble     -     Chapters