A PROPHET RANAWAY
Book One “Revelation” Chapter One
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
1818 went out in a blaze of glory. It had been a phenomenal year. Besides the fact that young Jeb Travis had married Cynthia and brought her home to South Hampton, Virginia to live, a bumper crop and bumper prices allowed the Travis family to throw a New Years Eve blast that would go down in the annals of great parties as an example to follow. The record snow fall had dressed the countryside in virgin white and a prudish cold but it had not dampened the spirits of the hundreds of people that trekked through deep drifts on hazardous roads to celebrate New Years Eve at the Travis Plantation. Music and laughter flowed like wine and wine flowed like a river. It was a glorious ending to a glorious year.
The corset almost strangled Cynthia to death as she weaved her slender body through the crowd of people, some meandered up and down the stairway, some stood in her way. Between the cumbersome hoops and petticoats beneath her blue satin skirt, the shoes designed by the Marquis De Sade and a headache that threatened her very life, the circular stairway was transformed into an obstacle course. There was no impatience in her voice or demeanor as she excused herself for the umpteenth time, managing to get another inch closer to her destination. To have shown irritation to her house guest would have been improper and she was the quintessential representation of propriety. Nothing but an extreme emergency could have dragged her away from her duties as hostess; this emergency was extreme and embarrassing.
“Mrs. Travis, Mrs. Travis.”
Cynthia turned to look into the respectful smile of Major Clyde Saunders, a smile that was as impeccable as his uniform that almost glowed with military correctness. Clyde was correct if nothing else, from the top of his sandy red hair to the bottom of his gleaming black boots, he was correct. It was as if he was born to be in the striking blue army uniform with the brass buttons. As Cynthia stood looking at him, waiting for him to speak, to tell her why he had stopped her in the middle of her emergency, she couldn’t help acknowledging that correctness. She knew very little about him, he’d come to Virginia when he was assigned to the fort in Jerusalem and now he was transferring to the frontier. He was a capable soldier and she would feel safer with him protecting the frontier against that savage Teeneega, but there was something about him she didn’t like, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
“I just wanted to tell you this is the best party I’ve ever been to in my life and it was right hospitable of your family to let me come, me being a stranger and all.”
“Why major, it was the least we could do for one of our brave boys so far away from his family on such a joyous occasion. After all, you protect us from Teeneega and the rest of those savage Indians”
“Shucks mam, just doing my duty, but this is the nicest thing that’s done happened to me since I left Mississippi.”
The first cramp hit her so hard she almost moaned; her knees felt as if they were water. She took a deep breath, focusing in on Major Saunder’s face and making sure her smile didn’t waver. Although every fiber of her being wanted to go to her bedroom, needed to go to her bedroom, she stood perfectly still and pretended to care about Clyde’s conversation. At that moment she hated him more than anything in the world, she wanted him to die on the spot, to wither away into nothing and leave her alone. Nothing in her smile betrayed any of that.
The second cramp hit, knotting her insides until they felt like one big ball of pain drenched in fire. She could feel the blood oozing out of her body like warm mush, staining her undergarments, sapping her strength, draining her color. And the Major jabbered on and on. When he paused long enough for her to get a word in edgewise she muttered.
“Will you excuse me Major, I have something I must attend to.” An apology filled with such regret made it impossible for a gentleman like Clyde not to let her go.
“Certainly Mrs. Travis.”
When Cynthia turned and looked up the stairs, the top seemed like a towering precipice that was insurmountable and unattainable, too much to even attempt to scale. The third cramp made her try.
Each step was an effort and the effort got harder with each step. The strength seemed to drain from her body like water from a leaky bucket. The “excuse me’s” had become an empty mutter, barely audible. Anne Travis’ wrinkled, smiling face emerged in front of her like a beacon of light in a stormy night. The gray, coiffured hair framed her long thin face, which held deep brown eyes that could not hide the concern for her daughter-in-law, concern that never exposed itself in her smile.
“Isn’t the party just wonderful,” she sang with a cheerfulness that only trivial patter could have but beneath that prattle Cynthia could feel the solid arm support, half carry her up the stairs. To the guest that wandered about the Travis mansion Cynthia and Anne looked like two women strolling through the New Year’s celebration in casual conversation unless they noticed that the color had drained from Cynthia’s exquisitely beautiful face.
They went to Cynthia’s room where she immediately fell on the bed as Ann loosened her corset.
“Child you look like a ghost!”
“I’ll be all right. I just need Mary to get me some rags or cotton”
“You’re not going to try to go back out there?!?”
“I can’t just leave, we’ve got guests.”
“I can take care of the guests.”
“No, I’m one of the hostess’s, Mother Travis, I’m going to help.” Another cramp shut off her sentence and almost killed her good intentions. “Please Mother Travis, would you get Mary to get a rag so I can stop the blood and I’ll be all right.”
As Anne Travis left Cynthia lying across her bed to go look for her personal slave, Mary, she couldn’t help being proud of her daughter in law. At first she had stayed her distance from the young woman that Jeb had surprised the family with, maintaining a formal cordiality but in the last few months as they had worked side by side putting the New Year’s Eve party together she had grown close to Cynthia. The first thing that had warmed her to the petite girl with the most disarming eyes she’d ever seen was the happiness their love brought to Jeb. No mother could resist a woman that made her son that happy. But it wasn’t until she’d worked with her on the party that she really got to know her, her genuine kindness towards all, her cheerfulness and intelligence, but most of all her deep abiding love for Jeb had cinched it. She was more than Anne could have hoped Jeb would find in a wife, MUCH more. As much as she hated to admit it, Cynthia was too good for Jeb; he was lucky.
As she hurried through the crowd she didn’t see a slave anywhere, “Where are those niggras when you needed them?” She was glad all that monthly period business and having babies was behind her. Now after forty years of marriage she could fulfill her husband’s desires without fear. Her husband’s and her own. She felt a slight blush as she thought about it, she always blushed when she thought about it. It was a secret that she had kept hidden from everybody else all these years, a secret she had told nobody, not even her husband. She liked sex! No … she loved it! She would feel a thrill of anticipation whenever George took her, it was all she could do not to scream with the pleasure while he did it. It had started on their honeymoon, she had braced herself for the pain that other women had told her she would feel. It had hurt but after a minute the pain went away and she felt an indescribable pleasure that was more intense than any pleasure she’d ever known. She had been so happy that he seemed insatiable and couldn’t get enough. Oh, he couldn’t really satisfy her. After he finished and she could hear him snoring, she would slip out of bed and lie on the floor and bring herself to completion. It was a secret and a shame she had borne all her adult life. Anne shook her head trying to brush away those thoughts and the heat she started feeling in her groin. Humph, she thought, here she was almost sixty years old being excited thinking about sex, she should know better.
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