The Whistle Walk (Paperback)
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The Ironwood Plantation Family Saga Book One
*Each book in the series can be read as a stand alone title, but you will understand the family history more by reading the books in order.
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In a time where unity seems impossible, two women will forge a friendship in the fires of redemption and thrust Ironwood into a new future—where the battle for freedom has merely begun.
Mississippi - 1862
Stolen from her home and forced into the disgrace of being sold, Ruth refuses to let go of the faith that holds her heart together. Determined to survive in her new role at Ironwood, Ruth never expects to find any common ground with the plantation owner’s wife. But when God keeps nudging her to speak up for her race and forge an unlikely friendship, she makes a dangerous choice that could cost more than she’s ready to give.
Bride to a man she barely knows and bound by her secrets, Lydia is struggling to step into her new title as the mistress of Ironwood. Inspired by the fiery spirit and quiet dignity of an enslaved woman, Lydia’s eyes begin to open to the harsh realities of the world around her. But if there is ever going to be a new future for Ironwood, she will have to start with shedding her own pretenses.
375 print book pages
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March 15, 1862
Lydia pinched her nose to stifle the sneeze that would surely betray her hiding place. Drawing her skirts farther under her legs and silently berating the hoops underneath them, she forced herself to ignore bits of straw that scratched and poked their way through the layers of material. She only needed a few measly moments to clear her head. Then she would be ready. Why couldn’t Mother understand?
“Miss? Miss, is you in here?” The mousy voice of her mother’s maid drifted with the dust up to the rafters of the loft. Sally sighed loudly, an uncharacteristic display of exasperation. The day flustered even the mellowest among them. “Miss Lydia, you know your momma gonna be madder and madder the longer you stays out.”
Lydia inwardly groaned. As if she weren’t aware of that already. She knew she must stop acting like a child but could not bring herself to relent. She remained perfectly still. After a few moments, the girl gave up her search and the barn door slid closed behind her. Lydia let out a long breath of relief and reclined against the freshly cut storage of the horse’s winter feed, but her restless mind wouldn’t allow her to enjoy her stolen freedom. She would go when she was ready. Not because someone summoned her. Still, if she didn’t hurry…
Unfolding her stiff muscles, Lydia stood and brushed her lavender skirts free of dust and clinging straw. She drew her bottom lip between her teeth, a habit Mother said would ruin her smile. If she didn’t present herself to be fussed over soon, she’d be accused of blatantly ignoring her mother’s instructions. Everyone knew ignoring the mistress of Cedarwycke was completely unacceptable. Such disrespect most especially could not come from her own daughter.
Lydia peered over the edge of the loft, and, seeing no one, descended the ladder. Ladies do not climb, her mother’s voice repeated in her head. Yes, Mother. Neither did they do any number of the other things she’d done.
Her shoes landed on the dirt floor, and a soft whinny greeted her. Lydia glanced over at her mare, which waited with ears forward and a welcoming gaze. What could a few moments more hurt? Lydia ran her ungloved hand over Snowflake’s smooth muzzle.
“Hey, pretty girl. You knew about me hiding up there the whole time, didn’t you?” The horse bobbed its head, and Lydia laughed at the impossibly implied response. “But you won’t tell anyone, will you, girl?”
She placed her cheek against the horse’s face and smoothed the hairs along its mane. Unable to stall any longer or risk giving away her secret sanctuary, Lydia bid her childhood companion a good afternoon and made her way back to the house.
She’d barely set foot in the door when her mother’s voice brought her steps to a halt.
“You are determined to be the death of me, aren’t you?”
Lydia adjusted her features into a composed yet slightly confused expression before turning around. “I’m sure I do not know what you mean, Mother.”
Mother placed her hands on her slim hips, her bright blue eyes flashing. “Do not play games with me, Lydia. You have been gone since the noon meal!”
Lydia wove her fingers together to keep them from digging into the folds of her skirt. “Forgive me, Mother. I did not intend to give you flutters. I simply lost track of the time.”
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