I just moved to Washington D.C. Everything is so different. Especially now that war has broken out between the states. The city is a crowded, muddy mess and getting worse every day.
My mother died, so it’s just me and my father now. We moved to Washington to put the bad memories from Boston behind us. And as far as siblings go, I have one brother named Tate, but we haven’t seen him for quite some time. He took Mother’s death exceptionally hard. I worry about him and where he might be.
What is your dream?
I want to be a nurse. More than anything.
What is holding you back?
Dorothea Dix turned me away. She said I was too young and too comely to serve. I confess her refusal left me dispirited, but I recently met renowned poet Fanny Crosby, who has encouraged me greatly to simply ‘do the next thing’ until Providence reveals His plan for me.
Who do you enjoy spending time with?
If I could spend a day with anyone, it would be my father Albert Piper, but he’s so busy setting up his new toy shop, he rarely has time. Otherwise, I love children and donating my time to charitable endeavors. More than anyone else, I miss my mother. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to escape the ache of losing her.
Who frustrates you?
The head surgeon at Judiciary Square hospital. Dr. Ivy is an insufferable oaf! He seems to think the worst of me, yet I watch him pray with the wounded soldiers. Somewhere beneath his twitchy temper, he must have a good heart. It seems to me like he’s hiding a secret.
Do you have any unique talents?
People tell me I have a lovely singing voice. I’m often asked to sing for the soldiers in the hospitals to rouse their spirits, as well as singing for various benefits around Washington. I’m a rather shy person, and singing is the one time when I can cast off my fears and feel bold. Perhaps it’s because my stuttering issues disappear when I sing. I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because those moments are the rare times when Father seems especially proud of me.
What do you fear the most?
I most afraid of living a life of unimportance. Of wasting my life. Sometimes, late at night when I’m all alone and can no longer escape my thoughts, I fear the true reason I sing is for applause. For approval. Is approval the same as love?
I’ve been seeking the latter my whole life.
To read more of Cadance’s story in All Through the Night visit these retailers:
Tara Johnson is an author and speaker, and loves to write stories that help people break free from the lies they believe about themselves.
Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and finaled in the Carol and Christy awards. In addition to be published in a variety of digital and print magazines, she has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio, Enduring Word radio, television and podcasts. She is a history nerd, especially the Civil War, and adores making people laugh. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas.
Good morning. My name’s Celia Percy, eleven-year-old sister of Chester and daughter of Gladys and Fillmore Percy—who’s doing time down to the state penitentiary, caught red-handed running moonshine. That’s not much of an introduction, I’ll grant, but it’s the only one I got.
I aim to better myself, to become the world’s most famous female investigative reporter—like Nellie Bly—by the time I’m twenty-two. To that end I’ve started up a newspaper, The Permanent Press. That’s a good name. All the other newspapers I’ve started folded for one reason or another, but this one’s here to stay.
My first interview is with Granny Chree, the most ancient person I know—over a hundred and a granny woman, herb doctor, and midwife—that lives in an old cabin up the side of the mountain just a ways. I really wanted to interview the mysterious stranger dressed in dark tweed that stepped from the train without one piece of luggage in near the dead of night last March—well, at least dusk—but Mama said I’m not to pester Miz Hyacinth’s companion with personal questions. I don’t know how a person’s supposed to investigate without asking personal questions, do you?
CELIA: So I reckon I’ll start with you, Granny Chree. Is Granny your real first name? How could you be born with a name like Granny?
Granny laughed, the faint wrinkles on her brown face wreathing into a smile. “I was born Alma Tatum, but I ain’t heard that name in years. My married name is Chree.”
“I never knew you were married, Granny Chree.”
“Never did a better man walk this earth than my Shadrach, but he passed on too many years ago now. Since then I’m known as Granny Chree. Suits me fine.”
“You helped birth near every baby in No Creek, didn’t you?”
“Every colored baby, and quite a few white ones, though they might not admit it now. A woman in travail don’t much mind the color of a person’s skin long as they can get some relief.”
“Reckon not. Did you birth Miz Hyacinth? She’s near as old as you.”
“She’s old, that’s true, but not old as me. Yes, I did help God bring that baby girl into this world—prettiest baby ever born up to Belvidere Hall. I’d been a slave there in the years before the war and afterward I just kept on working in the Big House for wages, though Shadrach and I lived right here in this cabin, thanks to Miss Minnie.”
“You never knew her, child, long before your time. But you know her niece, Hyacinth—Miz Hyacinth to you—took care of her from the time she was born, every minute her mama wasn’t with her.”
“That’s why you two are such good friends?”
“Like family, but you can’t say that in your paper, Celia. It wouldn’t be safe for Hyacinth or for me.”
“That don’t seem right, not if you near raised her, if you lived every day with her.”
“Lots of things in this world not right, but they be what they be—for now.” Granny sat back in her rocker.
“I been thinking about that.”
“Mmm-hmm, here it comes. What you spinning in that brain of yours, Celia Percy?”
“Well, I’m thinkin’ about Miz Hyacinth’s library—you know, all those books the Belvidere family’s collected over the years—way more than a hundred years and more than a thousand books in those bookcases she’s had us cleaning floor to ceiling. Can you imagine?”
Granny shook her head. “I can’t comprehend it, though I’ve seen that room with my own eyes.”
“Don’t you reckon they’d make a great public library? Open to everybody who wants to read? Ever since Miz Hyacinth had her stroke and retired from schoolteaching here in No Creek and they sent us on the bus over to the big school, we’ve been without a library. I miss the books Miz Hyacinth used to bring to school, the ones she read to us and the ones she let us borrow to tote home. I was always real careful with them—never tore a page or bent a corner and always brought them back directly I finished reading. Don’t you think a public library’s a good thing?”
“Sounds like a mighty good thing, sounds like somethin’ Hyacinth might cotton to.”
That was a relief. I wanted Granny’s approval. “You know, Granny, when I said everybody, I meant it—including the folks down to Saints Delight. I believe they’d like some good books, too. The colored school only ever gets the county’s castoffs. Think what it’ll mean to them to get new books!”
“You talk about bringing coloreds and whites together in the same room, you’d best get Miz Hyacinth’s approval on that. Belvidere Hall—I mean, Garden’s Gate—is her home. It’s a good idea, but I don’t know that No Creek is ready for it. You might just be ahead of your time, Celia Percy.”
“That’s another thing, Granny. Why did Miz Hyacinth change the name from Belvidere Hall to Garden’s Gate?”
“It was after her daddy passed on, but you got to ask her that if you want to know. And you need to think about Grace when you go speculatin’ about a public library there.”
“Miz Hyacinth’s new companion? What about her?”
“She’s the one would need to do the work. Hyacinth’s too old and blind since her stroke—you know that.”
I sighed. “I don’t know about Miss Grace. I don’t know what to think about her. Did you know she stepped off the train in near the dead of night without one speck of luggage? Did you know she had a faint line on her ring finger like she maybe just took off a wedding band? Why would she do that? You reckon she was running away from something—or somebody?”
“What I reckon most is that it’s none of your business.”
“That’s what Mama said, but I do love a good mystery. Investigatin’ that would make for a great story in my newspaper.”
“The truth will out when it’s God’s good time. You don’t need to go proddin’ and pokin’ where you don’t belong. I ’spect the good Lord can handle His business in human hearts just fine.”
“Maybe so, but—”
“You might hurt Miss Grace gossipin’ so, or Hyacinth herself. Hyacinth wants her here. No newspaper story’s worth hurtin’ the people we love . . . now, is it?”
Granny Chree looked at me with her one good eye and I knew squirming would do no good. I just didn’t know how the tables on this interview had gotten so turned around. “No ma’am. I reckon not.”
“Then I believe this interview’s come to an end, child. I look forward to seein’ your story in print by and by. I like the idea of havin’ my name in the paper.”
I felt my grin spread till it near split my face. “And I like the idea of my very first byline.”
From award-winning author Cathy Gohlke, whose novels have been called “haunting” (Library Journal on Saving Amelie) and “page-turning” (Francine Rivers on Secrets She Kept), comes a historical fiction story of courage and transformation set in rural Appalachia on the eve of WWII.
About the Author
Four-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and her husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.
Visit her website at cathygohlke.com and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.
Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today. ‘Tis a pleasure to make your acquaintance, thank you. And such a windswept day it is! This calls for a warm cup of tea, surely. And two quilted petticoats if you don’t mind my saying so.
Tell us something about where you live. My family resides in the Tidewater region of Virginia, namely James Towne, the first settlement in Virginia Colony. A picturesque place despite the ongoing leadership squabbles and Indian unrest. A great many settlers have died since landing on our shores. Somehow I and my family have survived. God be thanked!
Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name? Mine is a Biblical name. Selah occurs 74 times in Scripture, 71 times in Psalms, and 3 times in Habakkuk. ‘Tis a bit of a mystery, the meaning. Some think it denotes “pause” or “interlude.” I know of no other woman with that name. It seems to sit well with my surname, Hopewell.
Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work? There are few women in Virginia Colony, sadly, and so I’ve been placed in charge of bringing brides here, an entire boatload! These fair maids who are coming are referred to as King’s Daughters or Tobacco Brides. They hail from England and are of good reputation, industrious women who will make good wives and mothers and help keep the men from going over to the Indians and taking Indian brides. I dislike having to visit these brides with a questionable escort, the French physic and swordsman, Helion Lattimer. Oh, there’s a story for you!
Who are the special people in your life? I adore my little brother, Shay. I am the eldest and he is the youngest. Once there were three other siblings in our family – two boys and a girl (Phoebe, John, and Prentice) – but they succumbed to fever and other maladies that continually wrack Virginia. I also think the world of my parents. My mother is a master gardener, have you heard? She is known throughout Virginia as having a most beautiful garden, both vegetables and flowers. My father is Cape Merchant which simply means he is in charge of all the goods coming in from England. I help him at the colony store as does Shay.
What is your heart’s deepest desire? To have women friends. I lost my dearest friend, a Powhatan princess, not long ago. I still have not recovered from that. Alas, being one of the few women amid so many oft unruly colony men is quite demanding betimes. I dream of marrying and having a family of my own someday but the clock is ticking and no man suits me. Well, once there was a sea captain…
What are you most afraid of? Indians. The Powhatan nation is vast and fearsome. Our colonists came under attack a few years back and many were killed but it was not without cause. English settlers – the Tassantassas – are invaders and land stealers to the Indians. My desire is to live in peace, learn from each other, share our bounty. But matters continue fractious and we must always watch our backs, both Indians and whites.
Do you have a cherished possession? Aye, indeed, I do. A shell necklace a little Powhatan girl gave me. Her name is Watseka and she is one of the most delightful children I’ve ever met. The shell necklace has deep meaning for me and I plan to keep it for always. I have it on right now beneath my bodice.
What do you expect the future will hold for you? I am quite smitten with a certain tobacco planter here in the Tidewater. He has a plantation up the James River with the most poetic name. But my, he is a force to reckon with! And terribly handsome and fiercely tempered, to boot!
What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story? Pride and hasty judgements are my downfall. I repent of them daily but they still plague me. On a brighter note, I love the natural world. Virginia’s rivers and landscapes. The utter solitude and endless beauty. I hope to someday escape the stench and noise of James Towne.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? I love to read and pen letters. And bake. My quince preserves are second to none, some say. And I love flowers, especially roses.
Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better! Pleased to have chatted with you on this bitter winter’s day. Thank you!
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of eleven novels, including An Uncommon Woman, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Lacemaker, and A Bound Heart. She is a proud mom to an American soldier and a career firefighter. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.