Monday, June 2, 2014

Mercedes King "Plantation Nation"

Mercedes King

" Plantation Nation"


Sixteen year old Emma Cartwright runs away from her family’s South Carolina rice plantation after a slave is beaten to death. Determined to join the fight against slavery, Emma enlists in the Union Army disguised as a young man. Nothing could prepare her for the sacrifices needed—and for falling in love for the first time.


About the Author:

An Ohio native and founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio, Mercedes King has three passions: her family, her dogs, and all-things books and writing. When she isn’t reading or elbow-deep in research, you can find her on a bike path or at her kids’ ball games. A graduate of Capital University, she’s working on her next writing adventure.


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April, 1861


Specks of blood stained the blooming white bracts of the nearby dogwood tree. It streaked the hitching post and dampened a patch of ground. Most of the blood belonged to Basil. Some came from Emma. No one recalled how many lashes had been promised, yet everyone knew this was no longer about punishment. The interminable sound of the thrashing continued. Muffled sobs broke the eerie rhythm. Clouds of dust rolled in and stung weeping eyes. Foul mutterings from George laced the breeze while pine warblers chirped and basked in the springtime glory.

Emma could no longer raise her head or open her eyes. She tasted her own blood and withered under the sun's brilliance. Her back and legs throbbed from the lashes with the leather belt. The scent of honeysuckle drifted to her nostrils, but Emma quivered with agony and trepidation. She fought the oblivion that threatened to engulf her—fearing it was death.

Her heart searched for a prayer or a plea but nothing came. She wanted to cry out for her father, forgetting he was long dead.

Someone snatched a fistful of Emma's hair and held up her head.

"Look!" Quinn said through gritted teeth. "Look at what you've done." He touched his mouth to her ear. "Ain't like he didn't deserve it, though. Worthless wretch."

Emma tried again to focus on the scene. At first, through the narrow slits of her swollen eyes, all she saw was a row of brown feet, naked and caked with mud past the ankles, a sure sign that rice planting was underway. She couldn't find or concentrate on their faces now, but she knew that among the clan of thirteen laborers, Basil's mother and brother were there watching. Fear reverberated from the mass. Children cried and stirred, but no one moved or averted their eyes. George had insisted.

Emma's eyes rolled back into her head, but she made herself concentrate on her surroundings. She saw Basil, prostrate and an arm's length from the hitching post planted near the back of the house. His hands were still bound. Twine had been strung through the cast-iron ring at the top and tied to Basil's hands, but the thin string had broken when Basil fell to the ground. Seeing Basil coated in blood, Emma knew he had to be dead. Tattered scraps from his shirt trembled in the breeze, but Basil, with his head facing away from Emma, didn't flinch. Basil's desperate pleas for mercy and ear-splitting wails had ceased. George had made sure.


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