I cannot explain my facination with the American Revolution, other than the fact that my family has studied it extensively. The notion of brave patriots — despite their lack of arms, ammunition, and soldiers — giving their all for the sake of their country, laying down their lives so that their children and children's children could live in a land of liberty (cue the Patriot soundtrack) is awe-inspiring to me. For months — nay, years — I've wanted to write a book based during the late 1700s. But, as often happens, it was forced to the proverbial back burner . . . that is, until I had a decent plot to match it. I do not know if I will be able to focus all my attention on this new idea (temporarily titled Rifles in the South Field), as I have many other plots curling and tangling around in my head (in the words of Ma Ingalls, "I do declare, it never rains but pours!"). But I do mean to at least get Rifles off the ground, and so, I give you this month's edition of Beautiful People. Ladies and gentlemen, meet . . .
1. Where does she live?
Susannah lives with her father on a large Southern plantation in Georgia.
2. Does she have any siblings?
No, she is the only child of her parents.
3. Whom does she love most in the world?
Ever since her mother's death, Susannah has felt very close to and protective of her father. The bond between these two is of the peculiar kind that is formed only when the tempests of sorrow have been weathered together. They are inseperable, being all that the other has left in the world.
4. Is she fond of animals?
Yes, but she does not love them all in the same way. There are certain animals that she has known for years, and they feel more familiar. Her beautiful Artemis is closest to her heart, being a soft white mare with silvery markings on her flanks.
5. Is she industrious or idle?
Susannah is extremely industrious. Though she is not out in the cotton fields herself, the affairs of the household are on her young shoulders entirely. She rises early and spends her days organizing the house slaves, planning the meals, and snatching quick moments in between to practice the pianoforte and ride Artemis.
6. What is her favorite pastime?
Cantering at break-neck speed on Artemis is what she herself most enjoys, but she plays the pianoforte often because it pleases her father.
7. Has she experienced any great tragedy in her life?
Susannah's greatest trial thus far was the death of her mother. The girl had lived but ten years, and already her life was touched with bitter sorrow. Though lighthearted by nature, ever since that day in November 1766, there has been something in her young eyes that puts one in the mind of an older woman who has weathered great affliction.
8. Does her family own slaves? What is her opinion on this matter?
Yes, there are many African slaves who work on the Dixon plantation, both in the fields picking cotton and in the household. If you were to ask Susannah whether she agreed with the practice of binding and keeping her fellow man, it would take her a moment to answer. Scrunching up her nose for a moment, she would probably reply that in principle, yes, she does not hold with slavery, but in practice, she could not imagine her world without Benjamin to saddle her horse, Aunt Nelly to fill the tables with mouthwatering dishes, and Lucy to pull the laces of her corset each morning. It is the only life she has ever known.
9. What color are her eyes and hair?
Susannah has lots of strawberry-blonde curly hair. As a young child it was her greatest trial, but now she has grown older, she is more accepting of reality. Lucy, her personal maid, dresses it up every morning in the latest fashion, but being of a rebellious nature, it is normally falling out and hanging down 'round her face by the evening, giving Susannah a somewhat lopsided look. Her eyes are grey with hints of jade.
10. What is her greatest fear?
That she will be parted from her father prematurely. She loves her papa more than life itself, and couldn't dream of living without him.
. . .
Happy Independence Day, ladies! Any special plans for today?