Worlds in progress. Coming soon to an agent near you.

My hair was pinned up neatly off my neck as might befit a woman bound for execution. I wasn’t. Bankers can’t kill me. They can only steal my property, though for a woman of the land, that would be as good as death.

“I picked this growler out for you special,” Darcy, the hotel stableman, had said when he helped me into the carriage. “They’re newly upholstered seats and I know how you like that smell.” He looked out for me, just as he carefully guarded my Charlemagne. Our bond had quickly formed over the horse.

He knew about my fondness for the smell because I’d planted my nose to a side of new leather in the stables yesterday. I sucked up every morsel of scent like most women draw in a heady bouquet of roses. A horsewoman appreciates the simple things in life: fresh hay, horse sweat, leather.

Horsewoman. But for how long?

The South Carolina bankers wanted the successful, if indebted, horse farm and didn’t care that I helped build it. I was a woman. Worse, I was young. Worst of all, I was single.

They knew almost before I did when my manager quit to join the newly formed Confederate army. It had taken everything my Richmond lawyers could do to convince them to grant me the upcoming appointment. I exhaled heavily thinking about it. Had I been a dragon, I’m sure it would have been pure fire.

Now Lorena girl, don’t get your Irish up, my father’s voice echoed in my mind. That admonition had normally been followed by him getting his Irish up to do my battles. He wasn’t here, though, and this battle was mine. Clutching my crucifix with the one-armed Jesus, I bowed my head to pray yet again. Was God tired of hearing from me?

If God was speaking to me, I couldn’t hear Him. There was simply the hollow clop clop clop of steady hoof beats mingled with the jingling harness, carriage squeaks, and the signature growling of the steel-rimmed wheels on the cobblestone streets drowning out anything else. I gave up trying to pray and asked for a word of wisdom from Papa.    

In me name shall they cast out devils.           

I sighed. Really, Papa? That’s the best you can do?

Since Papa offered no help, I stood on my standard prayer for protection. For Thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt Thou compass him as with a shield. 

We at last lurched to a stop in front of the Union Bank. Would they change their name if this unpleasantness with the north continued? Darcy hopped down, setting the carriage into a gentle rock. My Richmond attorney had grilled me on the legal papers until I dreamed clauses and addenda. Papa’s new Charleston attorney agreed to meet me at the bank in case I needed him. There was nothing else I could do. Sometimes you just have to fight the battle and see which way it goes.

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