No, she won’t think about that, because ten years and five children later (two of them dead in their first year) her blank-slate, lily-white ignorance is so far away and so alien that it might as well be someone else, a character in a book perhaps, who stood there in the bride’s gown with the flowers in her hair and took the vow… obedience its chief matter, she remembers, though she’s stateswoman enough to say, obedience in the larger sense, that is, she’s obedient to what Thomas would order if he had sense. Which these days, he has less and less.
But she won’t think about that.
Nor will she think about the matter of those revels, for it isn’t just whiskey and cards. Thomas is generous to his friends, which means sharing with them the best of his household.
Sarah is pregnant, and she hasn’t been given a slave husband.
Wow, this is a very poignant and intriguing excerpt
ok – first what’s s slave husband, second – sounds like she’s pregnant but couldn’t know who the father is since her husband is so generous and
thirrd – your first sentence – so long and flowing. They the big “they” tell us not to write such length but just to see if I could, I did. The first senentce in my historical is long. One can have such fun with sentences like that. So as usual – wonderful six which raises more questions.. as it should
Many slave-holders made the practice of arranging “marriages” for their slaves: quotes here because “slave husbands” and “slave wives” were not legally recognized spouses. Regardless of whether slaves were assigned a spouse or chose one themselves, they did not have the right to stay together, nor did they have the right to keep their children by them. Wives could be sold away from husbands and vice versa; children, even very small ones, could be sold away from their parents.
Sarah is a slave, so from one point of view the identity of her child’s father does not matter: the child will be a slave, because “the condition of the child follows the condition of the mother.” American slave law introduced an exception to the patriarchal laws of descent through the father–but not by any means with any concern for the mothers in question, rather to guarantee that every child of a slave mother was born into slavery.
Slavery used to be a big interest of mine many years ago. I read “Kitchen House” a while ago which wasn’t great but was interesting. Hmm – have you read “the Help”? And if so what did you think?
It’s not clear to me whether Thomas is her owner or her husband. “Vows” suggests something other than owner. A slave-owner handing over a slave for his friends to use makes sense, but a slave husband wouldn’t really have that right. And the “character in a book” reference doesn’t make sense for a slave who by southern law was probably illiterate. “A character in a tale” would make more sense. Leaving that aside, it’s a poignant snippet, and a mere six sentences always leaved questions unanswered.
Whoa, didn’t expect that last twist! Great teaser. Love everything about this, including the title, which in itself is a great teaser.
If I’m reading this correctly, Sarah is not the narrator? I think the woman who’s speaking is the plantation owner’s wife and Sarah is one of their slaves. Since Sarah doesn’t have a slave husband, the father must be ___________.
Reading accurate (i.e., researched), well-written, historical fiction is one of the greatest pleasures for me. Paranormal is a fun escape, but historical fiction is the best escape–because it plausibly happened.
Yes, your reading is correct! (My error, in not revising slightly to include the POV character’s name…)
WOW, fantastic snippet.
Nice Six! Lots of dramatic potential here, and I could see how things could get extra complicated very quickly. Nicely done!
Very intriguing, especially since the narrator seems to have such a fascinating POV. Thanks for sharing!
Intriguing. Have to agree with a prior commenter about the first sentence being crazy long, but you use it in a very interesting way.