Authors: A Tapestry of Hope
Books by Tracie Peterson
A Slender Thread
What She Left for Me
I Can't Do It All!
Summer of the Midnight Sun
Under the Northern Lights
Whispers of Winter
Daughter of the Loom
A Fragile Design
These Tangled Threads
A Tapestry of Hope
A Love Woven True
The Pattern of Her Heart
Shadows of the Canyon
Across the Years
Beneath a Harvest Sky
Land of My Heart
The Coming Storm
To Dream Anew
The Hope Within
A Shelter of Hope
Hidden in a Whisper
A Veiled Reflection
A Lady of High Regard
City of Angels
Angel of Mercy
Treasures of the North
Ashes and Ice
Rivers of Gold
Books by Judith Miller
In the Company of Secrets
with Judith Miller
with Judith Pella
with James Scott Bell
with Allison Bottke and Dianne O'Brian
A Tapestry of Hope
Copyright © 2004
Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
Cover design by Dan Thornberg
Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners.
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A tapestry of hope / by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller.
p. cm. — (Lights of Lowell ; 1)
ISBN 0-7642-2894-3 (pbk.) — ISBN 0-7642-2910-9 (large-print pbk.)
1. Irish American women—Fiction. 2. Indentured servants—Fiction. 3. Textile industry—Fiction. 4. Lowell (Mass.)—Fiction. 5. Married women—Fiction.
I. McCoy-Miller, Judith. II. Title. III. Series: Peterson, Tracie. Lights of Lowell ; 1.
To Ann Dunn—
my dear Proverbs 17:17 friend.
Thanks for your love and prayers.
A friend loves at all times. . . .
To Retired Colonel and Mrs. Walt Hylander
, Lorman, Mississippi,
for their insight and hospitality.
TRACIE PETERSON is a popular speaker and bestselling author who has written over fifty books, both historical and contemporary fiction. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.
Visit Tracie’s Web site at:
JUDITH MILLER is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, many of which have appeared on the CBA bestseller lists. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.
Visit Judy’s Web site at:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
May 1846, Lorman, Mississippi
was unseasonably hot, insufferably repressive. By all accounts, springtime had scarcely arrived in Mississippi, but nature’s cruel trick was going unnoticed by no one, including the residents of The Willows plantation.
Jasmine Wainwright flattened herself against the bedroom wall, her right arm wedged against the red oak window frame. She wriggled in protest when a tickling bead of perspiration inched its way down her narrowed shoulders. Taking great care, she lifted the lace curtain between two fingers and peeked below. ‘‘I see a carriage arriving, Mammy. It must be Papa’s houseguests. I’m tempted to pretend I have a headache and remain in my room. I know he plans to show me off like prize cotton from the season’s first picking.’’
Mammy stood by Jasmine’s dressing table with her arms folded across her ample bosom. ‘‘Um hum. Well, you don’t know fer sure what your papa got in mind, but iffen you don’t set yourself down, supper’s gonna be over and dem visitors be gone afore I get a chance to fix your curls.’’
Jasmine glanced at the plump servant who had been her caregiver since birth and knew she could remain a few more moments idea of who will greet me when I descend the stairs. Oh, look, Mammy! One of them is nearly as old as Papa, but the other appears much younger—and more handsome.’’
‘‘I thought you weren’t lookin’ fer no husband.’’
! But Papa seems determined to marry me off.’’ She pulled the curtain back a bit farther and continued spying on the two men. ‘‘The younger one has a kind face.’’
The familiar sound of Mammy slapping the hairbrush on her open palm captured Jasmine’s attention. ‘‘Oh, all right. I only wanted one more look,’’ she said while scurrying back to the dressing table. ‘‘The older man looks rather austere and rigid. Perhaps he’s the younger man’s father.’’
She plopped down and stared into the oval mirror as Mammy plunged her thick fingers in and out of Jasmine’s heavy golden-brown hair, coaxing the strands into perfectly formed ringlets. Perspiration trickled down the sides of the black woman’s face and dripped onto her bodice, leaving her cotton dress dotted with wet spots.
‘‘Chile, I ain’t never gonna get these curls fixed proper if you don’t quit flutterin’ that fan back and forth. Jest when I think I got one curl fixed all nice an’ proper, you go whipping that fan around and stirring up a whirlwind. And quit that frowning. Them creases you’s making in your forehead is gonna turn into wrinkles. You gonna look like your grandma afore you turn twenty if you don’ stop making dem faces.’’
‘‘Ain’t funny, chile. When you’s gone and got yourself all wrinkled and can’t find no man to marry you, what you gonna do then? Come runnin’ to Mammy, ’spectin’ me to make you look young and purty?’’
Jasmine met Mammy’s stern gaze in the mirror’s reflection. ‘‘I’m sorry,’’ she said while grasping the servant’s roughened hand and drawing it against her own soft, powdered cheek. ‘‘But since I don’t want a man, I don’t suppose it matters very much if I wrinkle my face,'' she added with another giggle.
''You bes' get that out o' your mind. 'Sides, I's hoping to see you bring some little babes into this house one day. Maybe I’ll be takin’ care o’ them too.’’
Jasmine flushed at the remark. ‘‘Whatever would I do without you, Mammy?’’
‘‘Don’t know, chile, but ain’t no need to worry ’bout that. I ain’t made plans to meet my Maker jes’ yet. ’Course, He may have some different ideas. But if so, He ain’t told your ole Mammy. And since I ain’t never plannin’ to be parted from you any other way, I’s thinkin’ we’ll be together for a spell o’ time.’’ The servant gave a hearty chuckle, her ample figure jiggling up and down in tempo as she laughed. ‘‘We better hurry or you gonna be late to supper for sure. Then we both be in trouble. Anyways, that’s as good as them curls is gonna get for now. This hot, damp weather makin’ everything limp, including your hair.’’
Jasmine checked her appearance in the mirror one last time, patted the ringlets, and rose from the cushioned chair. ‘‘You won’t get in trouble, Mammy. I’m here to protect you.’’ She pulled the woman into a tight hug, her slender arms barely spanning the old servant’s broad waist. ‘‘Besides, after all these years, you know Papa is all bluster and bristle. He’d never lay a hand on anyone.’’
‘‘Um hum, you jes’ go on thinkin’ that, child.’’
Jasmine loosened her hold and leaned back. She looked deep into the old woman’s eyes. ‘‘Whatever do you mean?’’
‘‘You never know. Your pappy might jes’ decide you’re still young enough to turn over his knee.’’ The words were followed by another deep-throated laugh. ‘‘Now get on downstairs and be nice to your papa’s visitors.’’
‘‘You know they’ll bore me. Papa’s visitors always want to talk about business matters instead of entertaining topics.’’
‘‘Well, hot as it is this evenin’, you know your pappy’s bound to be in bad humor. He don’t like this heat—never has.’’
‘‘He complains about the heat every summer. I don’t understand why Papa doesn’t move us north with Grandmother.’’
‘‘How he gonna do that? Can’t move this cotton plantation up there where it's cold. 'Sides, your papa stays here 'cause this here is his home. He wouldn't live nowhere else. Even if he could, can't nobody get your mama out o’ this house anymore.’’