Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Petticoat Pledges

Petticoat Pledges is available from The Wild Rose Press .

Hope you enjoy the excerpt!


Sarita Leone

From the Heart

The blurb:

By the time the war is in its third year, those left behind in eastern Mississippi are accustomed to hard times. They've overcome physical obstacles, adjusted their expectations, and gone from grand, gracious living to...well, just living. And while many hardships can be handled,there are others that are so painful as to be nearly unendurable.

When Valentine's Day approaches and Bettie hasn't any word from the man she's pledged to love, she learns how deep the pain of silence can be.Will she hear from Henry on the day decreed for love? Or will she go on waiting...and wondering?

The excerpt:

Mississippi, 1864

"I don't understand it. Everyone else has already gotten word, even if it's just a little something, from their men. But me? Nothing," Bettie said, knotting her fingers in her lap. There were moments, like this one, when she wondered if the children she taught at the one-room schoolhouse were the closest she'd get to having her own.She hoped not, but in these uncertain hours the only thing she could be sure of was her burning desire for the war to end. Not tomorrow, but today—this very minute, if possible. "Not a tiny scrap of paper with an `I love you' on it, not one of those darling braided hearts made from wheat stalks, not even a walnut with a heart carved on its side. Nothing. Which, believe me, is much worse that even the grimiest, scraggliest little bit of something." Hanging her head so low that the ends of her pinned blonde curls touched her shoulders, she screwed her eyes tightly shut and willed the tears not to fall. When she was certain she'd won the crying battle, at least for now, she looked up at the woman who sat beside her in the dimly-lit parlor and shrugged. "What can I say? I must be spoiled rotten to be thinking of myself at a time like this but honestly, Julia, I can't help it."

Reaching across the divan cushions, the other woman patted her hand. The expression on her thin, weary face mirrored those worn by so many others. If only one word could be used to describe the widespread look, it would be resigned.

"You're not spoiled, not one bit. Why, if anything,you're fully deprived of each and every little pleasure of life, almost. All of the things we were accustomed to, all of the gay gatherings, tasty food and comforts of life are gone from us. To yearn for some word from Henry,especially when others have gotten theirs, can hardly be considered spoiled."

It was true. There wasn't one family in eastern Mississippi who hadn't felt the ravages of war, the effects of declaring independence from the heavy-handed Northern oppression, dearly. Since the state had seceded in January `61, there had been little comfort, happiness or pleasure for anyone. Now, three long, hard years later, it was nearly impossible for those left at home to recall life before the war with anything but the merest shadow of a memory, at times so vague and elusive it seemed more imagined than actual dreams.

For most, word of the war was one of the main reasons they went on living. That and the snippets of communication from their loved ones on the battlefields,brought by any means available to their work-worn hands and love-starved hearts.

"Ours was such a fast promise, a spur-of-the-moment pledge the morning they were leaving. Why, as a group of men walked by, Henry called out to me. It was just as casual as if he'd asked me to dance with him at the Harvest Ball. `Love me while I'm gone, won't you,Bettie?'It was a request that I'll hear always. Even in my sleep his sweet voice comes to me." The words were nearly whispered now, as she recalled the crispness of the morning they were first uttered.

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