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Friday, June 26, 2015

ROAN ROSE ~ Friday Freebit

A peasant girl's life will change forever.

"I observed your apprentice."
The Countess looked better. As her lady-in- waiting had suggested, she had called for mother early the next day. She did not, however, speak of herself, but seemed inclined to other matters.

"She is my daughter, your ladyship."

"She is young."

"It is never too early to study the craft, Milady."

The Countess nodded. Her great gray eyes turned thoughtfully upon me.

"You wish her to follow you."

"I do hope and pray she will, Milady of Warwick, God willing."

"Her touch hath healing. How does she in your garden?"

"Well, Milady. She is my eldest, obedient and clever."

"Come here, child."

I did as I was told. Sunlight fell precipitously through a window, a sudden break in the eternal galloping clouds of spring. I was walking, although I did not know it, into another world.

The Countess stretched out a long-fingered white hand. I had never seen so many glistening jewels. They danced before my eyes like blue and red stars.

"Give the Countess your hand, child!" From behind, the lady-in-waiting delivered a jab between my shoulder blades. Thus prompted, my small freckled fingers met the elegant hand of the lady.

"Such beautiful eyes!" Hers met mine and I knew that her spirit was exactly as hard and as brilliant as those jewels upon her fingers.

"What is your name, child?"


"Rosalba—White Rose."
The name made her smile and once more I was astonished. Unlike most breeding women of our village, she had all her teeth....

~ Juliet Waldron
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Friday, June 19, 2015


  Betsy travels home with a sick child, leaving her husband alone and at work for the government in Philadelphia.


It had been warm for the past few days, an unpleasant echo of the city from which she’d fled, but today those welcome cloud castles were once more on the prowl. Under the shade of an ancient apple tree red cows ruminated, flopping their tails against the flies. Betsy moved quickly, but as she passed beneath the original decrepit denizens of the orchard, with their thick trunks, a childhood memory gave her pause.

Looking up, she found that she’d come beneath the same tree she’d climbed into all those long years ago. It was scarred and had lost limbs, but it still stood, much as she remembered. She thought of the terror she’d felt imagining more Indians lurking in the woods behind the potato patch, scalping knives sharp.

Gone forever!
No more would brown half-brothers arrive from the forest to collect manhood presents. At Albany there were hardly any Indians anymore, the great tribes shriveled to almost nothing by war, white man's incursion and disease. Their cruelty and their kindness, their knowledge, their mystery—all vanishing from the land along with their totem brothers—the moose and the beaver, the bear and the wolf.

A gust of wind caught her attention. Aroused by the sight of black clouds west, Betsy lifted her arms to the sky. Her sleeves fell back and there was her own brown skin, green veins, the pulse and whisper of the new life she carried in her belly.

Had that love of place, the compulsion that always drove her home, come from an unknown ancestress, a woodland woman whose child some Dutch ancestor had brought home?
Or is just that I was born and bred here, and the food which fed me in childhood came from this earth, drunk through the roots of Papa's fields and fruit trees? This land, here by this river--it's is part of my flesh, too.
~Juliet Waldron
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Friday, June 12, 2015



Betsy thought Alexander had been busy before, but since the new government of the United States had formed, it seemed as if weeks passed with little more than a peck on the cheek, or a body which crawled into their bed in the middle of the night and fell into an exhausted sleep.

Happily, Angelica arrived from England for a visit. Her arrival was like a whirlwind. She gathered Betsy beneath her wing and they sailed away from the preoccupied husband up the river to their father’s house. Mrs. Church’s children were stowed at schools in England, but Betsy’s brood came with their mother.

Their parents were delighted to see them and soon it was as if they were girls again. Betsy was relieved of child care. There were servants, doting grandparents, and two aunts young enough to be playmates for the little Hamiltons.

Angelica and Betsy slept together, as they’d done as children. Lying in late at night or early in the morning, they whispered to each other, confidences about husbands. Angelica hinted that in the fast society in which she’d been moving in France and England, she and John had both had lovers. Those tales of amorous hide-and-seek, of midnight entrances and hairbreadth escapes were incredibly wicked, but exciting, too.

Angelica spoke of a world Betsy could hardly imagine, tales of gambling parties with Dukes and Princes where fortunes were won and lost, of operas and night-long balls, of champagne theater parties and trips to the races. Her long-fingered hands, gesturing extravagantly, glittered with jewels. Her conversation was liberally larded with French.

Angelica had got what she’d always wanted, an escape from the dull Dutch Hudson, from the life of a “Provincial.” She had seen the French Court, had been presented to the Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, at a formal levee. She and John had visited the famous Mr. Jefferson, now ambassador there, had dined and hunted with the Marquis de Lafayette and his wife.

In England, she’d dined and danced in company which often included “Prinny,” the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Devonshire, and the highest society. Nevertheless, her old restlessness seemed undiminished. Somewhat to Betsy’s surprise, Angelica often spoke dismissively of her handsome husband and displayed a dissatisfaction which Betsy found hard to understand.

One morning while Angelica slept in, Mrs. Schuyler remarked to Betsy, “Our Angelica hasn’t changed a bit.”

“Yes, and why is that, Mama? She has everything she has always wanted—and more.”
“Unlike us, my dear, she was born restless. She will never change.”
Angelica Schuyler Church, infant and maid, painted by Joshua Reynolds
~Coming soon~
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Friday, June 5, 2015


Chapter Two ~ The Pastures, Albany, NY
The girls had strayed too deep into the old pasture to run back to the red brick pile of their house, so they hid. Angelica grabbed little Peggy and together they crouched inside a big hole within the trunk of one of the squat, ancient fruit trees, one that Papa said had been brought as rootstock by the very first Dutch settlers.
 When they’d first spied the Indians, Betsy had been climbing to pick apples. It was too late to climb down, so she tucked long skirts over her knees and made herself into a small bundle, hugging the trunk and praying the leaves would cover her. As the party passed directly beneath her, she froze and tried not to think of the old war stories the servants told, about how Indians had killed her Uncle ’Bram—shot dead right on his Saratoga doorstep.
 These intruders were wearing buckskin trousers, homespun shirts and hats with foxtails and feathers. The European touches were a good sign, for this was the way Indians dressed when making a formal visit to Albany.
 There was a woman, too, walking very erect. Beside her marched a boy. He must have recently joined the men’s lodge, for his head was newly plucked, pale as a butchered hog on either side of the bristling strip of hair. He looked straight up, met her eyes, and then, without a word, continued on with his elders.
 Betsy knew these Indians were Mohawks, a tribe with whom her father was on good terms. Nevertheless, trained, as all frontier children were, to hide from strangers, she didn’t twitch.
 Today’s Indians must have had a claim on Papa, for they went directly to the wing of the imposing brick house which contained his study. A few minutes later, in the distance, they saw their father come out to greet them.
 Sometimes, if Chiefs arrived in rain or snow, they would be invited in to sit cross-legged in the downstairs great room with Papa. Here they dipped their dinner out of three-legged pots carried in from the kitchen. Betsy and her sisters, would slip out of their room, down the staircase, and try to get a peek through the door which led into the study wing. Here, if they were lucky, they’d see warriors sitting-crossed legged on the carpet, solemnly gazing around at the French panoramic wallpaper and up to the crystal chandelier.
 Relieved that these were only visitors, Betsy climbed down to join her sisters. They collected their dolls and walked slowly back to the house, Betsy holding Margaret’s sticky little hand. They met slaves already carrying out carpets and furs.
“Let’s sit here.” Angelica, the oldest, and always the leader, took a seat on one of the long benches along the study wing. “We can watch.”
Peggy, however, was done with outside. She wanted to go in, and began to complain. They were close to the kitchen now, and the smell coming from there made her think of the treats she could wheedle from the women there.
“I want a koekje!”
Peggy strained at Betsy’s hand and, after a little pulling, Betsy gave up and simply let her go. One of the house slaves at work there would certainly take charge of her little sister. Peggy went charging away, as fast as her short legs would carry her, toward the kitchen door.
While they watched, a pavilion arose beneath the biggest maple, and a fire was made beside that. Tables and carpets came out, and an entire joint of beef was carried from the kitchen.
 Then, a commotion began. Mama was at the center of it, although this was a surprise. Their Mama rarely lost her temper. She came out of the kitchen door, hauling Ruby, one of the slave girls, by the arm. She had a hazel switch in hand.
 “Ruby, if I set you to watch my girls, you are not to let them out of your sight!” Mama switched Ruby’s legs, and poor Ruby hopped up and down in her short skirts, shrieking.
 “Why is Mama so cross?” Angelica asked, as Mrs. Ross, their plump Scots governess, herded them away into the house and upstairs.
Something was very wrong. Mama never lost her temper!
* * *
Read more about Alexander Hamilton and Betsy Schuyler, their very different childhoods, their Revolutionary War courtship and their sometimes stormy marriage.
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