Saturday, September 26, 2015

Up the Hudson


 
 
 
"Above the joining of Fishkill and Hudson, the Catskills appeared. Betsy’s spirits lifted at the sight. Bearing the sloop on its back, the Hudson poured green water against the bow. Farms, orchards, forests, all were lush and green, high summer all around. Along the shores, people bathed and boated. In the early morning, deer drank. Betsy saw it all as she walked back and forth, carrying Johnny, querulous and delicate, in her arms.

It was cooler now. Betsy felt better at once in spite of the strain of traveling with a sick child. The nursemaid had all she could do to keep track of Jamie, who raced up and down the deck, in constant danger of falling overboard. The wind blew from the north, so they tacked back and forth, slowly making their way upriver.
 

 

Cool at last and fresh, cold mornings! The cabin was close, but once on deck, it was another world. The shimmering, stinking streets of Philadelphia were only a dreary memory.
 
 
 

At the first sight of the red brick house up the bank, of green lawn and orchards spilling toward the water, Betsy felt her heart leap, in spite of the ache of missing Alexander.
 

 
 
As they tied up at the quay, she saw dark towers crowding ominously in the west. Maybe there would be a storm this evening, a big one...."


~~Juliet Waldron
    Excerpt from:


A MASTER PASSION







Images: Schuyler Mansion Historic Site, Albany, NY, View from the upstairs Great Room, by Kathy Fischer-Brown


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Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Revolutionary War Wedding



September is almost as popular as June for weddings nowadays.
Here's the story of a wedding  that took place just before Christmas
in a country deep in it's first civil war.


 
 

"....The wedding took place in the yellow parlor in front of a crackling hearth. The Dutch Reformed minister performed the ceremony and everyone who was anyone for miles around attended. The room was packed with patriot gentry, all turned out in their finest wigs and lace. The young men present were almost universally in blue and buff.
Hamilton had gone to the expense of outfitting himself anew before the trip north and today he looked resplendent in a crisp new uniform. The epaulets of Lieutenant Colonel gleamed on his shoulders; his chest was crossed by the green sash worn by the aides de camp of a commanding general. His hair had been powdered, but not quite enough to extinguish a gingery glitter. Everyone agreed; he looked overwhelmingly handsome.
“If Mama hadn’t had all these months to prepare, I’m afraid my little sister would look like a hen pheasant beside that beautiful fellow.” Angelica whispered waspishly to the only woman present she considered her peer, tall blonde Arietta van Corlear. Diamond earrings flashed against creamy necks as the belles approvingly surveyed the lithe figure of the groom.
Still, few others present would have agreed. For the ceremony, Betsy had been transformed into a perfect, fashion plate angel. She had submitted to wearing a wig (sent through enemy lines from Philadelphia), which provided her with a tumble of snowy curls. Beneath this, her olive skin, black eyes, and long dark lashes made a magnificent contrast. Mama had insisted upon applying a delicate lamb’s wool brush of rouge to her high cheekbones, which hollowed the Dutch fullness. Her dress was a cream-colored sacque trimmed with lace and white satin bows.
When she entered the room upon the arm of her father, a number of Hudson valley cousins suffered unanticipated pangs of regret. Was this radiant bride really their own sweet, plain “Little Saint Bess”?
“They make a lovely couple.” Peggy sighed and slipped an arm around the waist of her younger cousin, Eliza van Rensselaer. Peggy had earlier confided to Miss van R. that she herself was secretly “a little in love with that rascal Alexander.”
The hordes of tow-headed children were cautioned, and the fire in Mrs. Schuyler’s eyes was sufficient to convince the most rambunctious that she meant business.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a plain gold band, an heirloom from long ago Amsterdam, was slipped onto the bride’s delicate finger. The old-fashioned lace veil that had belonged to Grandmother Angelica Livingston Van Rensselaer was turned back, and Colonel Hamilton, in his blue and buff uniform, gave his lovely blacked-eyed Betsy a worshipful kiss.
Mrs. Schuyler leaned on her husband’s arm. She, too, was radiant. Within, the baby she carried stirred restlessly, awakened by the triumphant emotion which coursed through her mother like the Hudson in full flood. To see a beloved daughter handed properly from father to husband, married in the midst of this sea of relations, was a supreme moment...."
~~ Juliet Waldron




A MASTER PASSION
Find more at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eiAeiAVA98





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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

HAND ME DOWN BRIDE ~ Sophie's Resolve



 
 ~~~
 

So far she had traveled, so far!  Here she was half a world away from her old home in a bent, medieval city.  Everything there was dark, everything constrained, careful, pinched and hard.

There was pain and hardship here, too, but there was openness in the sky, the pastures, the round shouldered, low blue mountains.  It made her heart expand with grief and joy, much like her first experience of the Atlantic, where the ship had risen and fallen in the troughs of great waves, bobbing like a cork upon an endless, glittering monster of water. 

Sinking to her knees, Sophie bowed her head against the cool, white sill.  After a time, she opened her eyes and fixed them once more upon the enormous night sky.  She had come safely to this fabled new land of plenty, but the kind, formal gentleman who was to have been her husband was dead.  Left with nothing, she was loosed alone into a strange, new world.

The race, the wheel and the little river sang a song together.  Sophie began to hear voices, but she couldn't understand them, for they seemed to speak in the tongue of this new place.  At first she felt fear, then another emotion sprang into her heart.

Freiheit!  Freedom!  Yes, this was freedom! 

Opportunity, certainly, but opportunity menaced by many dangers, some known, some yet to be learned.  With freedom came the possibility of sinking as well as rising.

"But I shall rise." Sophie promised the night.  "I will help my sisters, save my poor mother."

For a moment she felt invincible, proud and strong.  Then reality came down like a curtain.  How could a woman alone do all that?

I will work hard, she thought, as everyone says.  I will do my best and hold onto my goal.  I'll find a way to help my family, to bring them here!


***
 
~~Juliet Waldron

Find out what happens to Sophie, now a stranger in a strange land.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/hand-me-down-bride/id1023551148?mt=11

~~~~
 

And for more Sunday Snippets, hop along to these talented Books We Love Writers:
http://mizging.blogspot.com (Ginger Simpson)