Authors: Ginny Dye
August – December 1866
Book # 8 in The Bregdan Chronicles
Sequel to Glimmers of Change
Shifted By The Winds
A Voice In The World Publishing
Bellingham, WA 98229
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the Publisher.
Printed in the United States of America
She was a mother…
Most of all, she was
to all she ever touched.
My great hope is that
Shifted By The Winds
will both entertain and challenge you. I hope you will learn as much as I did during the months of research it took to write this book. No one was more surprised than me when it ended up portraying just the last four months of 1866. As I move forward in the series, it seems there is so much going on in so many arenas, and I simply don’t want to gloss over them.
When I ended the Civil War in
The Last, Long Night
, I knew virtually nothing about Reconstruction. I have been shocked and mesmerized by all I have learned. When I got to December of 1866, and I already had close to 600 pages, I knew I needed to close the door on 1866 and start fresh in 1867 with the next volume of
The Bregdan Chronicles
Though I now live in the Pacific Northwest, I grew up in the South and lived for eleven years in Richmond, VA. I spent countless hours exploring the plantations that still line the banks of the James River and became fascinated by the history.
But you know, it’s not the events that fascinate me so much – it’s the people. That’s all history is, you know. History is the story of people’s lives. History reflects the consequences of their choice and actions – both good and bad. History is what has given you the world you live in today – both good and bad.
This truth is why I named this series The Bregdan Chronicles. Bregdan is a Gaelic term for weaving: Braiding. Every life that has been lived until today is a part of the woven braid of life. It takes every person’s story to create history. Your life will help determine the course of history. You may think you don’t have much of an impact. You do. Every action you take will reflect in someone else’s life. Someone else’s decisions. Someone else’s future. Both good and bad. That is the
Every life that has been lived until today is a
part of the woven braid of life.
It takes every person’s story to
Your life will help determine the
course of history.
You may think you don’t have
much of an impact.
Every action you take will reflect in
someone else’s life.
Someone else’s decisions.
Someone else’s future.
Both good and bad.
My great hope as you read this book, and all that will follow, is that you will acknowledge the power you have, every day, to change the world around you by your decisions and actions. Then I will know the research and writing were all worthwhile.
Oh, and I hope you enjoy every moment of it and learn to love the characters as much as I do!
I’m already being asked how many books will be in this series. I guess that depends on how long I live! My intention is to release two or three books a year – continuing to weave the lives of my characters into the times they lived. I hate to end a good book as much as anyone – always feeling so sad that I have to leave the characters. You shouldn’t have to be sad for a long time!
You are now reading the 8th book - # 9 (
) will be released in the Winter of 2015. If you like what you read, you’ll want to make sure you’re on my mailing list at
. I’ll let you know each time a new one comes out so that you can take advantage of all my fun launch events, and you can enjoy my BLOG in between books!
more are coming!
Carrie Borden, her body tense with unnamed anticipation, took a reprieve from her back-breaking labor to look out the window of Moyamensing Hall, hoping for a breeze to cool the sweat running down her face and back. The air remained hot and stagnant, mocking her efforts to find relief. She took several slow breaths as she stared out at the never-ending view of three-story row houses and trash-filled streets. The putrid smell of outhouses made her nose crinkle. The clatter of horse hooves on the cobblestone streets mingled with yells and curses from men who looked as rough as they sounded. She inhaled deeply, trying to force her body to relax, but the odors invading her senses made her want to gag.
“Do you feel it?”
Carrie turned slowly and looked at Janie Saunders, trying to hide just how concerned she was.
Janie’s soft blue eyes saw right through her. “Don’t even bother attempting to come up with something encouraging to say,” Janie scolded. “We’ve been friends for far too long. You can’t fool me anymore.”
Carrie managed a rueful smile, recognizing the beseeching look in her friend’s eyes that begged her to tell Janie there was nothing to worry about. She regretted she couldn’t do it. “Most of the time I’m glad you know me so well,” she said lightly.
“So you feel it, too,” Janie persisted, leaning forward to stare out the window as she wiped at the sweat dripping into her eyes.
“Trouble?” Carrie asked flatly, wishing she could deny it. “Yes,” she admitted heavily. “I feel it.” She struggled to control the resentment flaring in her, but every particle of her being longed to be back on Cromwell Plantation. She
still have been home on the plantation for a holiday from medical school, but an emergency telegram delivered by special courier just two days before had changed everyone’s plans. She, Janie, and her housemates, Elizabeth, Alice, and Florence, had all been ripped from the fresh air of the plantation and forced to return to the cloying confines of Philadelphia.
“They’re scared,” Janie observed, as she gazed down at the angry faces scowling up at the building. She watched as the poorly dressed residents of Moyamensing talked among themselves, shaking their heads and pointing up at the windows.
“They have a right to be,” Elizabeth Gilbert said sharply as she came to stand next to them. Her blue dress, no longer crisp, was soiled and limp-looking. Tendrils of black hair escaped her bun, defying her efforts to shove them back into place. Her face, usually creamy white, was red from the suffocating heat in the building.
“I don’t know how they expect cholera patients to survive in this heat,” Carrie said grimly. Her heart ached at the thought of bringing sick people into this building. She knew it had served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the war, but anyone who was forced to endure this building in August was going to be even more miserable than their illness already made them.
“They don’t know where else to put them,” Elizabeth replied, her tone both resigned and indignant. “It was just a matter of time before they had to make a hospital for patients. Since Moyamensing is in the poorest section of Philadelphia…”
“And since the first victim of cholera was found dead on the streets just a few blocks away…” Janie continued.
“And since sixteen more people have died in this area in the last few days,” Carrie added, “I can understand why the city chose this location for the new cholera hospital.”
“I ran into one of the city councilmen last night,” Elizabeth revealed. “I didn’t have time to tell you about it until now. People are dying daily around the city, but Moyamensing is suffering a higher death toll. They wanted to put the hospital where it would be of the highest value.”
“And also be as far away from
neighborhoods as possible,” Carrie said wryly, her eyes narrowing as she saw something more lurking in Elizabeth’s eyes. “What aren’t you telling us?” she demanded.
Elizabeth averted her eyes for a long moment as she stared out the window at the growing throngs of people looking up at the hospital, and then swung back around to face them. “When the neighborhood found out the city’s plans, the City Council was visited by James Campbell, a councilman from Moyamensing.” She hesitated and looked away again.
“Tell us,” Janie said. “Ignorance has never helped anyone. I want to know what we’re up against.”
Elizabeth nodded reluctantly. “Campbell told them that if they persist in their intention to turn Moyamensing Hall into a cholera hospital, the women and children of the neighborhood will burn it to the ground before a single patient is taken within its walls.”
Carrie took a deep breath as she looked around the cluttered hall. Wagons of hospital bedding, furniture, and provisions had arrived early that morning. She and her housemates, along with other students at the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia, had been hard at work all day, setting up beds, arranging provisions, and doing whatever else was needed to prepare for what would certainly be a large number of cholera patients. “They burned the hospital on Staten Island eight years ago,” she murmured, remembering what Dr. Benson from New York City’s Metropolitan Board of Health had told her earlier that spring when cholera had once more come ashore in New York City.
Janie frowned. “There was a Yellow Fever outbreak in the neighborhoods surrounding the hospital on Staten Island. They believed it was caused by the hospital.”
“Which it well could have been,” Carrie replied. “Refuse from the hospital had to have ended up in surrounding water supplies. They didn’t know then what we do now.”
Elizabeth shuddered. “The men who burned the hospital on Staten Island had to have been so frightened for their families. It doesn’t make what they did right,” she hastened to add, “but I can understand their fear.”
Carrie nodded, her thoughts racing. “Philadelphia’s sanitation and water systems are so much better than New York’s were,” she murmured in weak protest. “We’ve learned so much about how the disease is spread, and even more about how to contain it.”
“All of which these people don’t have a clue about,” Elizabeth said bluntly. “All they know is that a hospital full of people who are dying will soon be operating right next to their homes.”
“So you agree with them?” Janie asked, her eyes wide with disbelief.
“Of course not,” Elizabeth snapped. Her hand reached out to grip Janie’s in apology as soon as the words flew from her mouth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound like that.”
“We’re all hot and tired,” Carrie replied. “I believe you’re saying that, while you don’t agree with them, you understand their fear.”
Elizabeth nodded. “I think it’s very easy to pass judgment on people. I’m not at all sure I would feel any differently if I was the one watching this hospital be created.” She gazed down at a tired-looking woman grasping two grubby, sweaty red-haired children by their hands. The mother’s eyes were wide with fright as she spoke urgently with the equally frightened woman by her side. “Look at her. All she knows is that her children could be in terrible danger. She already lives in the poorest, most violent neighborhood in the city. She must worry about her children every day. And now this…”
Carrie laid her hand over Elizabeth’s dirty fingers that were gripping the windowsill. “Something has to be done,” she said steadily, her stomach clenching at the look of fear on the faces staring up at them. “No matter where the hospital is located, people will resist it and not understand it.”
“I know,” Elizabeth acknowledged. “But I can’t help wondering if the City Council would have really even
putting the hospital elsewhere.” Her eyes flashed. “The elite in Philadelphia don’t believe any resources should be used to help the people down here because they have already written them off as unsalvageable. I doubt they would feel any regret if most of this neighborhood died from cholera. They simply don’t want it to spread.”
Janie eyed her for a long moment. “You know a lot about Moyamensing,” she observed. “I don’t know that I was even aware this neighborhood existed until we were told to come equip the hospital.”
Carrie realized she was right. “What’s the connection, Elizabeth?” she asked quietly.
Elizabeth sighed, her eyes dark with worry. “My mother has a very good friend who lives down here. Mother has tried to talk her into leaving for years. She can well afford it, but she refuses to leave her people.”
Carrie thought about what she had learned. “She’s Irish,” she guessed.
“Yes. She grew up in this area while it was still beautiful farmland. She refuses to leave. She says there is too much that needs to be done.”
“Very admirable,” Janie murmured.
“I agree,” Elizabeth responded. “But evidently she is quite old.”
Carrie thought about Old Sarah. She had refused to escape the plantation because she wanted to live out the rest of her days in the place she called home. Sam had felt the same way, choosing to stay until he died. “She’s home,” she said simply. “Moyamensing is her home.”
“That’s what I’ve told my mother,” Elizabeth confirmed, “but she is still so very worried. I’m sure word of the cholera hospital has reached her. She is probably frantic.”
“And her friend?” Janie questioned.
Elizabeth smiled for the first time. “From what my mother has told me, her friend would simply say she has lived a good life. If it’s time for her to go, then she’ll go in the place she calls home.”
Carrie smiled. “She sounds like a wonderful woman. She also seems like she is making the best decision for herself, without worrying about what other people think.”
“That would be Biddy,” Elizabeth said, a fond smile on her face as she turned away. “We still have hours of work to do before we can leave. Patients start arriving tomorrow.”
“If there is anything to bring them to,” Janie said nervously as she looked out the window one more time. “The crowds are getting bigger.”
A distant call across the room caused all of them to hurry over to help assemble the next set of beds. There was nothing they could do to stop what might be coming. They had work to do.
Robert felt a wave of contentment as he gazed out over the Cromwell pastures. All the spring foals had been weaned. The frantic neighs from the last three days had settled down into quiet as the colts and fillies learned life without their mothers wasn’t nearly as bad as they had feared. They were all bunched together under the thick limbs of a spreading oak tree, resting in the shade after almost an hour of joyful play in the thick green grass. Most of them were lying down, their tails swishing rhythmically to keep the flies away.
Separated by a wide border of trees in another pasture, their mothers—once they had gotten over the separation anxiety—now seemed relieved to have a break.
“These babies sure seem a lot happier!”
Robert smiled at Amber as she clambered up on the fence attached to the barn, careful to stay in the shade. The mid-afternoon August sun was relentless as it beat down on the plantation. He eyed the horizon with a practiced eye. It was still two hours before the sun would dip below the line of trees in the distance. Anything with any sense would avoid its searing rays.
He felt a surge of pity as he thought of all the men, women, and children toiling in the tobacco fields with no escape from the sun. Moses always started them early in the morning so they could take off a couple hours in the hottest part of the day, but even the cooler parts of the day were still brutal during a Virginia summer. Huge barrels of water were placed in the fields every morning. For every cup that was poured down parched throats, even more was dumped onto sweaty heads.
“Do they still think about their mamas?” Amber asked, leaning forward to make sure she could see all the foals.
Robert thought about her question. “I imagine they do. It’s only been a few days.”
“Do they miss them as much as I would miss my mama if she were taken from me?”
“I think they did at first,” Robert responded slowly. “I think it’s easier for them because it’s the natural order of things, but I also decided a long time ago that just because people
they know what animals are feeling, that doesn’t mean they really do.”