Image if of the full cover. We chose to wrap the image around the book, and I think it looks amazing.
To remedy the lack of educational opportunity for Black children, Maggie, her sister Abigail, and friends Emily and Rosa start a school. Some of Blaineton’s citizens are bothered by the fact that a school has been opened to accommodate children of color, as well as the children of an Irish family who live outside town.
The cauldron of anger aroused by the school comes to a boil one night, and the members of Greybeal House are awakened by the sound of shouting outside. Having seen this behavior before, they know it is sign that trouble is afoot
The Greybeal House family are quick to act. Maggie, Emily, and the children seek shelter in the woods, while Eli and Nate lead a party made up of Carson, Grandpa O’Reilly, Edward, Lydia, Frankie, and Rosa to meet the intruders.
Their household is quite unconventional for the time. Maggie, Eli, Frankie, Lydia, and Carson are white. Grandpa O’Reilly, although white, is Irish (another hated group). And Nate, Emily, Edward, and Rosa are Black.
So… think about it. It’s 1864. What should you do with a group of troublemakers screaming outside and threatening to burn down your house?
Fighting tip: don’t forget to bring a couple of heavy, iron frying pans They're great weapons!
“May we help you?” Eli asked.
The masked strangers hooted. Their voices were young, as if they weren’t quite men yet.
“Yeah. You can clean this house up to start.”
Eli hissed with irritation. “By ‘clean up,’ I assume you mean that you want me to get rid of the people of color who live here.”
“What else? This amalgamation is just plain unnatural!”
Eli smirked. “Not as unnatural as showing up at our house in the middle of the night and shouting insults. I never heard of such a thing.” He turned to the others. “Have you?”
His friends responded with a series of negative responses.
Returning his gaze to the intruders, Eli said, “We’re not gonna change the way we live for you or anyone else. So, it looks like you need to leave.”
“Don’t think so. We ain’t going nowhere.”
“Not ‘til you get rid of the n****rs.”
Rosa’s eyes narrowed. Her hand tightened around the handle of the frying pan she was holding and she took a step forward. But Frankie’s free arm blocked her path.
“Let me pass,” she hissed. “I’m gonna knock some heads.”
“No, you aren’t,” her friend replied. “Hold it in. We don’t want to start anything.”
“What I want is to kill those no-good –”
“No, you don’t,” Frankie calmly interrupted. “You just want to beat the tar out of them.” She grinned saucily. “So do I, for that matter. But we’re going to let Papa handle things. We don’t know if they’ve got any weapons.” She returned her eyes to the masked men. “We’ve faced people like this before when they burned down the boarding house.”
Rosa frowned. “This has happened before?”
“Yep. It’s getting predictable and boring.”
“In that case, maybe I would’ve been safer in the war.”
“There’s a war at home, too,” Frankie replied. “No matter where you go, it’ll be there. But let’s wait and see if Papa can convince them to leave.”
“You see, fellas,” Eli was saying, “trying to push us around won’t change our minds, nor will it change the way we live. We believe white and Black can – and should – live together.”
“Oh, yeah?” One of the intruders held up a stick, the top of which was wound with cloth. “Well, we say kick ‘em out or we burn the barn down.”
Eli remained calm. “Oh, I wouldn’t advise that.”
One of the others struck a match and, with a flourish, touched it to the brand. The spark caught and a flame swallowed the kerosene-soaked cloth.
The four let out a celebratory whoop and started hollering insults again. But their cries abruptly ended when two dark figures flew out of the shadows and tackled them, bringing two of the young men down with a jaw-jarring thud.
Brandishing pistols, Grandpa and Carson suddenly rushed toward the two standing men. Frankie and Rosa followed, frying pans held high and screaming like banshees. The men cowered, looking desperately around for an escape route.
Before a full-fledged fight could break out, the sound of horse hooves thundered down the lane.
“Help!” the rider was yelling. “Help!”
All parties froze. After a pause, the fellow holding the torch dropped it onto the grass and ran off, followed closely by the other male. Both sprinted past the galloping horse and disappeared into the dark.
Edward and Nate quickly captured the two fallen intruders and hauled them to their feet. After thumping his way to the torch, Eli began stomping out the flames to prevent the grass from catching fire.
The rider pulled his horse to a stop. “Mr. Schmit!”
The voice belonged to Josef Larsen, The Register’s rotary press operator. He leapt from the horse’s back. “Mr. Schmit! They’re burning down the town!”
If you want to know what happens next, I’m afraid you’ll need to read the book. It only costs $0.99 on Kindle, but it’s also available as a paperback on Amazon. Just click here.
Favorite scenes from one more book to go! I'll look at the newest one, A Balm in Gilead, in my next blog.
Take care and stay well.
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder