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TITLE: Sissons Kingdom: Shadows of Black Mountain(Take 2)
By mike poff

Partial rewrite
Sissons Kingdom: Shadows of Black Mountain(Take 2)
Chapter 1: Easter Back Home

“Mingle Benjamin, you are here to be seen son not admired from a distance” Mina said with a posed smile.

“I have danced all the dances mother and need to clear my head…” she quickly cut him off.

“Watch your oldest brother with the Rhodes and the Rodgers. See how he has engaged them all evening. Greet the men and compliment the ladies, see watch him.” She paused. “Now watch, Mrs. Rhodes is pulling over their daughter. Look! Mary Rodgers saw that, she is bringing over their daughter as well…”

“Mother, I am not here to flirt…”

“You are not here to be a wallflower either!” Mina snapped, cutting him off a second time “You are here to charm and connect. See to it that you focus on the Smythes and Johnstons. Between the two, they distribute all the way to Charleston and your father would like them to carry our line as well. Smythes’s son attended the Citadel make your entree there.”

“Yes Mother.”

Mina’s eyes softened as she grasped her son’s substantial hands. “If you could see yourself, tall and dashing in your uniform, you stand out son, make the most of that. Show your father what you are worth.”

“What you are worth” the words haunted him though the music was finally finished and the gaudy dances were done. All the grand goodnights and swelling thanks long faded with the last guest’s carriage. Still, sleep felt far away. He lay in unease on the soft feather bed he had not seen since Christmas. Indeed the last three months had been full of fine, deep sleep.. The Spartan cots of an open cool barracks were better solace than the pomp and pretension found at Black Mountain. He mused as that Easter trips dramas replayed in his tired mind.

“Mr. Smythe Sir, Benjamin Sission.” Benjamin nodded stiffly and extended his hand.

“Sisson’s son you say, Samuel you say” the balding man asked tilting his ear upward.

“No sir Samuel is my brother. I am Benjamin.” He spoke more loudly.
“Ah, Benjamin! Yes, and also a cadet I see.” The older man’s eyes lit up as he took the huge hand offered him. “How old are you lad?”

“Eighteen next month, Sir.”

“Such a stapper and still growing. Glad to meet you son, Calvin Smythe.” He shook Benjamin’s hand with both of his now. “You must meet my wife, Samantha! Come here dear and meet young Master Sission!”

“Master Sission.” That name sent an uncomfortable shiver down his spine. He had been called many things this past year but Master Sisson held a particular distaste. Indeed many more well know and monied names filled the martial halls of V.M.I. Lee’s, Randolph’s, Rolf’s and their relations were plentiful.

Yet respect was earned by merit or deed not by moniker. Even his older brother had admired his performance taking time to tell him as they had ridden home together. Even though Benjamin was a lowly Rat and Samuel, a senior set to graduate with high honors in just a few weeks.

“You have impressed many in the upper classes this year Ben,” Samuel offered as they waited for their carriage in the cool rain. “You have done the family proudly and I want you to know it.”

“Kind of you to say, Sir.” Ben shot back though stunned to near silence.

“You can leave the formalities here Ben. We have this place in common but we do have family as well.” A long pause grew as a familiar team and driver approached.

“Master Sission! Master Sission and Ben, look at you boys all straight and strong like pillars on the porch back home.”

“Mason, you could have saved us a soaking had you been here on time.” Samuel pretended to be annoyed. “I left my lash handy at home and you should not forget that!”

“Oh no Master Sission, I don’t forget no ones lash!” Masons eyes rounded greatly with mock fear. Coming down from the driver bench, he added “Specially not one so broke in as yours sir.” Samuel laughed and patted his old servant on the shoulder.

“Good to see you Mason we’ll put the bags up, let’s go home!” Neither had noticed that Ben had already tossed them in the carriage.

“Already done.” Ben chirped.” Good to see you Mason shame we have such weather.”

“Thank You Master Ben, lordy you dun grown. Got shoulders like a mule.”

“We work ‘em hard here Mason and feed ‘em well.” Samuel added.

“Just like back home Master Sission, just like back home.”

All that evenings dancing, drinking and hollow manners still gnawed steadily at his sensibilities and his growing desire for sleep. His adopted Episcopal family and all their English social training had produced a prized “grace”. This allowed him move in whatever circle they chose for him. However, at the core of his soul he longed to let his yes be only yes and his no only a no.

This past year in Lexington was the closest place and time he had found to being that type of man. There he could test his potential with out someone ready to disregard his effort or sabotage his accomplishments out of envy. Honor and great effort had purpose and value there. Both held high as rewards in themselves. Things you must have and offer before you could hope become the master of free men.Being the Master of the bound was only a matter of birth it seemed. A birth he did not share with his brothers and a title he had no taste for.

“Samantha this is Benjamin Sission”

“Most charmed Mame, you are kind to come so far to be with us this evening.” Benjamin light bow and smile were well rehearsed.

“Master Sission is a cadet at V.M.I. dear.”

“How wonderful, you know our son William graduated the Citadel”

“No finer place to train the Best of the South’s Gentry” Calvin Smythe said before he thought.

“I would rather serve with the sons of the Citadel than council with the cream of West Point.” Benjamin added quickly sensing a chance to score a gracious point or two.

“Indeed, Master Sission, well said!” A relieved Calvin Smythe replied.

“You should meet Melissa, our daughter. I am sure she would love to meet you.” His wife added, enamored with Benjamin’s confident, gentile manner.
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