“Well, where is she? Don't just stand there! I've a ship to board! Where's the woman?” Sir Richard Miller pushed the midwife aside as he stormed into the hot, humid room.
A young girl lay still and quiet upon the massive bed in the middle of the dark room. Too still.
“What? Is she...what's wrong with her?”
“Sir, she passed. I did all I could. She was just too weak...”
Sir Richard took a deep breath and looked around the room. It was a beautiful room, very well-appointed indeed. He expected no less of his host, Thomas Smythe. These Southern landowners knew how to live with opulence; but, it isn't London.
“Just as well I say. Yes...had a hard life ahead of her. Imagine, a servant girl trying to fool my son into marriage! She was evil...look what it got her! May God have mercy on her soul.”
Sir Richard took one more look around the room completely ignoring the body on the bed. Then he stepped out into the hallway as if nothing had occurred. The cook and parlor staff stood by the window sobbing. The houseman stood at the top of the winding staircase holding Sir Richard's coat and hat.
Beside the houseman there stood an old woman with a bundle. “Sir?” She offered the bundle to him.
“Are you mad woman? Keep away from me!” With no more than a glance back at the door, Sir Richard left Drayton Hall, Charleston, South Carolina to board his return ship to London.
“What's to be done with the child? He never so much as looked at her.” Mrs. Tanner held the babe close and wept.
It was well known to the house servants that Eliza had been in love with Stephen Miller. Many young Charleston women had been swept off their feet by the dashing, handsome young Brit... wealthy and poor alike. His leaving Charleston left broken hearts and distraught women, but in this case it left a motherless infant.
“Eliza was a beautiful soul. That monster broke her heart and left her shamed. As pretty as a peach, she was. Took her without consent, I say. That's the way of those wealthy British gents.”
With dogs barking loudly, Thomas Smythe burst through the front door, his shock of snow-white hair windblown, his voice loud but pleasant.
“What's happened here? I saw Sir Richard leaving Drayton Hall. Looked like the hounds were chasing him!”
All the household staff rushed down the stairs to meet their gentle employer.
“Please, one at a time. I can't hear. What's this...?”
“It's a baby, sir.”
“Yes, I can see that. Whose baby is it and what are you doing with it, Mrs. Tanner?”
When he learned of Eliza's death, he slumped down on the stairs. Shame must have kept her from coming to him. He had always been fond of Eliza. How could he have missed this going on in his own home?
“The child will be raised here, of course. That's the least we can do for Eliza. Please, see to its care, Mrs. Tanner. Eliza will be buried here at Drayton Hall; as far as I know she had no family.”
Thomas Smythe was one to make quick, concise decisions.
“What shall we name her, sir?”
“What? Smythe, of course... there's no other is there? A girl you say? Poor Eliza. She will be missed!” With that, Thomas Smythe left the group shaking their heads and discussing his reply.
“He said to name her Missed .” And with that, the family Bible recorded the birth of Missed Smythe as June 14, 1851. Mother, Eliza. No mention of father.
Do you want to know more about the life of Carolina Mist? Did she grow up loved? Go to England? Learn the truth of her parentage? Was she pretty? Smart? Loved? Marry?
That's what a writer's inspiration is...bringing characters to life and letting them step into the readers' world. Nothing is more inspiring to a writer than a story that must be told, characters who drive him to love, protect, develop, grow and share them. It will inspire me if you want to know more about Carolina Mist.
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