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Authors: Ann Rinaldi

The Family Greene

BOOK: The Family Greene
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The Family Greene
Ann Rinaldi

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston New York 2010

Copyright © 2010 by Ann Rinaldi

Harcourt is an imprint of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this
book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park
Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Rinaldi, Ann.
The family Greene : a novel / by Ann Rinaldi.
p. cm.
Summary: Follows Caty and her daughter Cornelia through the latter half of the
eighteenth century as they mingle with the heroes of the Revolutionary War, discovering
that a woman's only means of power, flirting, can cause trouble and confusion.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-0-547-26067-9 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. United States—History—Revolution,
1775–1783—Juvenile fiction. 2. Greene, Catharine Littlefield—Juvenile fiction. [1.
United States—History—Revolution, 1775–1783—Fiction. 2. Greene, Catharine
Littlefield—Fiction. 3. Sex role—Fiction. 4. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 5.
Washington, George, 1732–1799—Fiction. 6. Wayne, Anthony, 1745–1796—Fiction.] I.
Title. PZ7.R459Fam 2010 [Fic]—dc22

Text set in Adobe Garamond.

Manufactured in the United States of America
DOC 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The Family Greene
is a work of fiction based on historical figures and events.
Some details have been altered to enhance the story.

For my son, Ron

Who played the role of General Nathanael Greene for so many years in the Christmas Day Crossing of the Delaware, before he played George Washington. Who loaned me the right books from his extensive library on American history for research, cautioned me against the wrong books, and inspired me to write historical novels in the first place, and ... for always being there.

Caty Littlefield Greene


May 1764
Block Island
Twelve-miles off the Rhode Island coast

was still angry, showing its anger with its white foam spitting at all comers.

Caty admired it as she stood there on the ruined beach. It was just the way she wished she could be sometimes, if she hadn't been doomed to be a lady.

It was a noisy sea, too, something she wasn't allowed to be, which was why she admired it so much more than when it was quiet. And now, after the storm, it was strewn with the wreckage of a ship. Broken masts and spars, pieces of bunks, the captain's own spyglass floating about, baskets of fruit, and, on a crossbeam, a black cat sitting there meowing out its distress.

"Oh, you poor kitty," she said, and without thinking, or taking off her shoes, Catharine Littlefield, all of ten years old in this year of 1764 and always willing to take charge of things, waded in, sloshing about in the warmish water amid splinters of wood, colored stones at her feet, and the bright green moss that usually clung to the pilings that stood in the normally clear water. She picked up the cat.

"What are you going to do with her?" her friend Sarah, standing by at the shore, asked.

"Take her home," Caty answered.

"I thought you weren't going home today."

Caty paused for just a second. "I suppose I have to go home sooner or later. Though," she added, "if not for Pa, I'd just as soon wait here for the next pirate ship that comes by and go with them wherever they're going. I'd even help them look for my great-grandfather's trunk full of gold."

"Caty, you're so full of fantasy, you sometimes don't know the truth."

"It'd help
to have some fantasy in your head."

The cat purred and nestled against her. She stroked it and wrapped her shawl around it. She looked about. Some of her elders who lived on Block Island had already been to the beach this morning and rescued any survivors.

Now, except for two curious women in riding breeches who lingered (all the women on the island rode astride, to the horror of visitors from the mainland), there was no one about. Caty and Sarah had already bade these two women good morning. They were Mrs. Garfield and Mrs. Heron, sisters who had both lost their husbands and now occupied the old Warren house near the meeting hall on the island.

Once again Caty looked down at the spyglass floating near her. "Here, take Puss," she directed Sarah, who did. And so she reached out and grasped the spyglass. "For Pa," she told her friend. And this, too, she wiped dry on her shawl.

Then she reached again for the cat, and with it and the spyglass in her arms, she stepped out of the water while Sarah went sloshing about in it.

For a moment Caty turned to enjoy the view of the island, Block Island, with its rows of stone fences and its rough terrain. She knew every tree, every path, every twist and turn of it. Her eyes caught the straight lines of the houses drawn against the now bright blue May morning sky, the New England houses standing unafraid before all the winds and storms. More than fifty houses!

Imagine! Imagine what the island had looked like in 1600 when the colony of Massachusetts Bay "acquired" it from the Indians. Though she'd never been to school, Caty knew all about the history of the place. Wasn't she helping her father to write a book about it?

The island was then sold to a private syndicate and eventually ended up in the hands of Simon Ray, Caty's great-grandfather.

Twelve miles off the Rhode Island coast, belonging to Rhode Island now. See? I know my lessons. Who says I need a tutor?

This is my world,
she told herself.
And that's why I don't want to leave it.


man, was up on the hill, waving a handkerchief at Sarah and me, which meant that I must go in for breakfast.

"I don't want to go in," I told Sarah.

"But it's your birthday. You must go," Sarah insisted.

I was ten years old today. Pa was making a big fuss. That thought alone quickened my senses. Aunt Catharine had arrived late last night on a double ender from the mainland just before the storm hit. I'd been abed when she came, and kissed her hello in the dark, half asleep.

A double ender was a sailing vessel for which our island was famous. It could be launched from beaches and was equipped for both sailing and rowing. Its masts could bend in the wind without snapping. And few places on the northern coast had winds as sharp as we had.

I looked at Sarah. "Are you coming to breakfast with me? You know you're invited."

She looked down at herself. "I'm wet and filthy."

"You've looked worse for wear at our table."

"To what end? You know why your aunt Catharine is here today."

"To take me to East Greenwich to live with her, because she says I need tutoring. But I won't always stay there."

"Once you go you won't come back. She'll make you a fancy lady, like she is," Sarah said sadly.

Aunt Catharine, my mother's sister, was a lady of quality, with mannerisms that matched her beautiful face. The word
did an injustice to her dark hair and hazel eyes. My mother, who had died only six months ago, had been beautiful, too, but she had not had hazel eyes.

Aunt Catharine had always fascinated me because there seemed to be some mystery about her I could not get a purchase on.

"It's just for tutoring," I told Sarah now.

"Well," she admitted, "none of us has really been to school."

"Nothing wrong with how I speak. I can read and do sums."

"But your pa says your spelling is most crude," she insisted.

"Well, so is yours."

"But I'm not being given the chance to have a tutor."

"You want one?"

Sarah shrugged. "I want more for you to be here with me and help me find your great-grandfather's gold. Everybody says it's buried somewhere in these cliffs."

"You can keep looking while I'm gone. Just don't fall down the cliffs."

"I know." Sarah smiled her sweet smile. "You had better go, Caty. The fish and eggs are likely to get cold."

Always the voice of reason,
I thought of my friend.
How I shall miss her when I go to the mainland!

We walked up the cliff. I hugged the cat and the spyglass, and Sarah held fast to a birdcage she had found. But there was no bird in it.

It's like we're all walking around with empty birdcages,
I thought,
looking for the bird we want to put in them. Some get their bird. Some never do.

We were in front of my door now and just stood there staring at each other. Of a sudden the door opened.

There was Pa in his velvet morning coat. "Caty, child, I've been waiting for you." He gave a little bow to Sarah and she curtsied to him. "How are you this morning, Sarah Cogswell?"

"Fine, sir."

"Will you come in and sit at table with us?"

"I wouldn't make good company, sir. My mum needs me. She and my pa are at loggerheads again."

Pa nodded but said no more. He just stood there, puffing on his pipe, the smoke rising white against the blue sky. He knew that Sarah had troubles at home, that her mother often "took up" with other men, mostly sailors who came to the island. Except for me, Sarah kept mostly to herself. Most people on the island knew about her mother's transgressions, and the shame was just too much for her to abide.

On one or two occasions, Mrs. Cogswell had disappeared for a day or two with her sailor, off to the mainland. At those times, Sarah "kept home" for her pa, cooking and cleaning for him. Times like these I asked Pa if I could take over a platter of chicken or a tureen of soup and he'd always said yes, but with the maxim "Be careful it doesn't look like charity."

Mrs. Cogswell always came home, but I knew Sarah never forgave her.

Now Pa patted Sarah's shoulder. "You're welcome whenever you want," he said. "Tell your pa that last pair of boots he made me are better than anything I could get on the mainland."

"I will, sir."

Then Pa turned to me. "Well, Prodigal Daughter? Are you ready to come home and face the music?"

He hugged me and I hugged back, the cat between us meowing in my shawl. "What's this?" he asked, pretending sternness. "Puss in Boots?"

"I found her in the wreck, Pa. I couldn't leave her. So I brought her home. Please, can I keep her? We haven't had a cat since Simon died."

"I'll keep her for you. She'll be company when you're away." His mischievous blue eyes begged me not to cry, so I didn't. He heartily approved of Aunt Catharine's plan to take me to the mainland. "You think I want the prettiest girl on the island to be uneducated?" he'd asked.

We went inside. Pa sat down at the head of the table and gestured I should sit at his right, where he'd saved me a place. I did so, putting my shawl and the spyglass on the floor at my feet.

The cat was in my lap. Pa put a piece of fish on a small dish and handed it to me. "Put it on the hearth and give it to Puss in Boots as a welcoming present," he said.

I got up, kissed him, turned, and bumped into Aunt Catharine.

"Good morning, Caty," she said. "And happy birthday."

I set the plate down for Puss, then gave Aunt Catharine a proper hug and kiss, which meant being enveloped in her silk clothing and, for the moment, being carried away in the mystery of her, of far-off places and mysterious doings that the sensation of her always gave me.

What does it all mean?
I wondered.

"You must sit down and eat," she admonished. "Don't rush. I'm staying the day, until the winds die down. It ought to be a calmer trip back. I know how you hate sailing in rough weather."

"Aunt Catharine, I want to go with you, but oh, I hate to leave home and Pa."

"You're growing up, Caty. You are becoming a beautiful girl. There will be a need for you to correspond, soon, with young men. You can't even spell, child. And you come from a family of eminence. We want you to marry well. An education is a great part of it."

There it was in a nutshell, then. I was ten years old and they were thinking of my marriage someday. "I'll eat now," I promised. "But first I have a gift for Pa."


. He pronounced it "first rate." And before the noon meal, Puss in Boots was on his lap and he was settled in his stuffed chair in front of the big bow window that looked out over the farmland, down to the sea. My cousin Sammy Ward, who was two years younger than I and interested in whether there had been any dead bodies on the beach this morning, sat at Pa's feet with me as Pa told us stories.

The stories were interrupted all morning by the comings and goings of people stopping in to bring me presents, more out of respect for Pa than to honor me. For presents I got books, gloves, a new apron, a dress made for me by Aunt Catharine herself, and a hand-drawn map of the island and a bracelet made out of seashells from Sammy.

The fragrance of Cassandra's special vegetable soup and fresh biscuits drifted in from the kitchen. It was just then that there came another knock on the door and Sammy got up to open it and admit Mr. Tosh, who tended his fishery for a living and whose ancestors had been sold to English colonists in the New World by Parliament after being captured by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester.

Mr. Tosh fancied himself and his forebears my mother's ancestors. Thus he always considered it a right—no, a duty—to periodically have a say in matters that concerned our family.

"Have a toddy, Mr. Tosh, won't you, in honor of my girl's birthday." Pa stood and shook the man's large hand.

Mr. Tosh said nothing. He brought nothing. But he drank what Pa gave him, in one gulp, then put the glass down on the table. "I come, Mr. Littlefield, in the spirit of friendliness, to report to you that your little girl here has been spending too much time with that Sarah Cogswell, whose mother runs loose with other men. Your Caty, sir, is a lovely child, carefully brought up and doing the family proud. I'd like to put in a complaint about her keeping company with that Cogswell family. And that, sir, is why I have come hither."

BOOK: The Family Greene
3.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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