Authors: Cynthia Wright
Touch The Sun
Special Author's Cut Edition
A Beauvisage/Hampshire Novel
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Copyright © 1978, 2011 by Cynthia Challed Wright
Cover by Kim Killion
eBook design by eBook Prep
For Richard Randall, my treasured friend for 50 years
Come muster, my lads, your mechanical tools,
Your saws and your axes, your hammers and rules;
Bring your mallets and planes, your level and line,
And plenty of pins of American pine:
our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
government firm, and our citizens free!
"The Raising: A New Song for Federal Mechanics"
Winter sunlight glanced off the last bits of melting ice that hung on the pecan trees like diamonds. Meagan Sayers, astride her horse Laughter, rode under the dripping branches and on into the open fields beyond.
The ground was muddy but Meagan rode every day unless the weather threatened the footing of her horse. She insisted that it was for Laughter's sake, but in truth, she grew more restless than the dappled gray gelding when forced to stay indoors, and these past weeks had yielded an unbroken procession of rain and snowstorms.
Pecan Grove was one of the largest Tidewater plantations in Virginia and boasted the area's finest mansion, next to Mount Vernon. However, by no stretch of imagination could Meagan fit anyone's conception of a Southern belle. The picture she made now, galloping across the soggy meadow astride Laughter, was typical. Since childhood, she had kept in the stable a cache of boys' clothing that she had begged from the young grooms and which she had changed into whenever she had an opportunity to ride.
Meagan's parents had always reveled in a world of foxhunts, horsebreeding, dancing, card-playing, and travel. She had seldom seen them, and when she did, they merely patted her on the head while passing in the hall. Early on she had put their inattention to good use, growing up a free spirit who rode with the skill and daring of any man, her raven hair flying freely like a banner. She eluded her governesses, choosing to take books from the library, and spent her afternoons reading under a pecan tree in the meadow.
The summer of 1788 had been like all the rest. Russell and Melanie Sayers had sailed to France to cavort at Versailles and Paris, but their daughter had pleaded to remain at home. With guilty sighs of relief, they agreed, for Meagan fought them every step of the way in their intermittent efforts to civilize her.
Now, galloping out into the waterlogged meadow, Meagan's mind returned to the October afternoon when she had learned of the shipwreck. James Wade, a lifelong neighbor, had ridden over to break the news of her parents' deaths and she had found herself reacting more strongly to his repellent, "brotherly" embraces than to the tragedy of losing both mother and father in one blow. Since then, she'd waited for the grief process to begin, but to no avail. Meagan felt a tightness in her breast at the realization that she had not loved her parents enough to mourn their deaths. And yet, her intuitive common sense told her that affection must be earned, and it was not for her to feel guilty because they had not known how to love anyone but themselves.
A voice was calling from the shelter of the pecan trees, and reluctantly Meagan reined in Laughter, turning him back toward the house. She found one of the stable boys waiting for her.
"Mr. Wade and his sister are in the big house, ma'am."
Meagan made a face, but knowing they would sit and drink tea until she arrived, decided to get it over with. Sliding from Laughter's back, she handed the reins to the stable boy and ran off toward the imposing Georgian brick house.