Jack Cannon's American Destiny

Rachel Thompson

Friday, August 8, 2014

Holderby’s Landing #Excerpt by J. D. Ferguson #HistFic #AmReading

An hour farther on, out of pity for the struggling team, Osman slows the coach to a crisp canter. He wants the horses cooling before he pulls into the long drive of Sylvan Springs. The rain has softened from the near hurricane force they had endured to a heavy and constant downpour. Osman sits stoically in the driver’s boot and wishes he had at least stopped long enough to don his summer cloak. There is no dry part of himself that he can discern. Water pours from his hat to the front and back, on equal occasion and given the position of his head. He does not know which he prefers, water into the crotch of his pants or down the back of his soaked cotton daycoat. Either way it is a misery, right enough.
Breasting a knoll, the big man inaudibly sighs at the sight of distant lights. From his ability to see them at this distance, means that Colonel Thorne has taken nothing for granted and has lit beacons of dry pine logs on the fore hill by the entrance. He must have roused the field hands to maintain such a fire in this downpour. The lights ease his burden, somewhat, and give an unspoken satisfaction to Osman. Master Thorne had no second thoughts as to whether they would arrive tonight. None at all; so the fires admit. He knew that no matter what, the boy would be here as planned. There is trust there. It would not be long now until he rests both horses and his aching back.
Barely slowing, the big carriage clatters passed and between two raging bonfires, and makes a hard right into a tree-lined drive. The brick and wrought iron entranceway is a blur. Far ahead, and visible by all the lighted windows, is the main house of Colonel Joshua Thorne. Its broad three-story brick façade faces the drive, and its wings spring from either side of the main entrance to disappear behind the border of trees. Lanterns hang from the porte-cochere and have been set in every window. As the coach approaches the house, Sylpha, Thorne’s house mistress, moves with quick grace and a flash of red cape-lining to the end of the driveway cover, just out of reach of the streaming rain. She holds high an oil lamp and stares expectantly into the dark beyond. All the lights reflect in the downpour and sparkle from the individual droplets like crystals in sunlight.
If Osman knew not the dire aspect of this night’s work, he could have imagined a festive occasion underway, and the silken magic of quiet summer nights. As it is, there are no reasons except the beauty of the lighted way to expect anything but ill to come from all this. And nothing shall.
That last thought firmly in mind, he brings the horses to a stop under the roofed overhang and stares with a mixture of weariness and unease as the young man springs from the coach onto the flagstone drive, and, without a backward glance, strides passed the unacknowledged Sylpha and to the marble-framed front entrance. As he enters, Sylpha looks toward Osman with a dejected but defiant stare. Osman smiles at the statuesque woman.
With a laugh and a wink he says to the lovely features of the bronzed slave before him, “Cheer up little one, young master’s home. All is right with the world.”
He slaps reins and leaves the cloak-wrapped beauty still standing in the drive, and heads horses and driver to their beds.

When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. 

It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic. Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. One’s ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life’s story, and as singular as snowflakes. 

This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby’s Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby’s Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
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