A.N: This is my first historical fiction, so I'd appreciate some feedback! I hope that you enjoy the story.
Note: This story is not meant to be completely accurate, as telekinetic people would not fare so well in 19th century society. Also, the Civil War goes differently.
March 19, 1844
The cool spring night echoed with the chirps of crickets, and the moon shone in the starry sky to illuminate the Georgian town below. The main street, with all of its shops, bars, had just a handful of pedestrians and carriages going to various places in the town. Chattering echoed in the calm night air. At the end of the main street, near the calmly flowing river, stood the town hall and the Red House. The Red House was a Greek Revival style mansion with red painted outer walls, where the mayor lived with his family of his wife and two children. Like the streets, it also remained silent except for faint speech from the mayor, who told bedtime tales of his war hero father to his children. Along the length of the main street, other stone paved roads branched out among scores of houses.
On the outskirts of the town, a moderately sized plantation laid next to a grove of oak trees. At the center of the plantation, another Greek Revival house, painted with light blue walls, stood among the cotton fields and slave cabins around it. The sounds of owls and crickets echoed in the air while a great commotion went on in the elaborate house. A newborn in the Peterson family took her very first breaths.
"It's a girl," the midwife reported, and wiped off the body fluids and blood off the infant. She gave the wailing infant to a woman with blonde curls and blue eyes.
"She's got your hair and my eyes. I'm so happy for our child, Robert," the woman murmured with a smile, and caressed the newborn child on the cheek.
"Yes, Charlotte, created by our love." her husband replied, and grabbed a cloth to wipe off sweat from the forehead of his wife.
"She's gonna grow up into a fine lady when she gets much older. We'll ensure that she learns the ways of a good lady, under our love and care," Charlotte cheerfully said.
"Especially if we can teach her how to control the gift, if inherited, or else all tarnation will break loose. We must be careful with our daughter. It's very important to let you know that," warned Robert.
"I am well aware of that," Charlotte spoke, and cradled her child in her arms. Robert, sitting on the stool, got up fetch a towel to wipe the sweaty forehead of his wife.
"Just for my beloved," Robert said, sitting back down on the bed beside his wife.
"Thanks, honey," his wife spoke, smiling back at him, and she managed to calm her child to sleep through her gentle cradling. The infant ceased her crying for the moment.
"Excuse me, Mister Peterson. I must ask you something." the midwife said, as she wiped the blood off the thighs of the exhausted woman with a soaked towel.
"Have you and your wife decided on a name for that little beauty?"
"Well, I think Mariette would be a great choice," Robert suggested.
"How about you, dear?" he asked his wife.
"Mariette. It's a beautiful name," she responded, and the midwife nodded in agreement.
"Alright, dear, Mariette Peterson shall be her name."
"Anything else, Mister Peterson?" the midwife asked while wringing the towel in a bucket of cool water beside the bed.
"Nothing else ma'am, but you can help my wife care for the child. In return for such extra service, we'll generously tip you," Robert said.
"Thanks, Mister Peterson."
Soon after his promise to the midwife, Robert left the room to prepare letters for his friends, who were curious about the news of the newborn Peterson. The Hayes family, friends of the Petersons, were quite curious about how the child fared. The midwife, clad in her white dress and her hair tied back in a bun, proceeded to give counseling to Charlotte about caring for newborns. She gave words of wise advice such as effectively changing the cloth diapers. But despite experience with birth and child care, she could not understand the burden of caring for a child with rumored telekinetic abilities. Of course, the midwife had been told about the "Gift" running in the bloodline of the Petersons, but she did not feel much concern for the news. Lifting objects with the mind? None of her business. Still, it was her duty to serve her clients with the same care and patience no matter who they were.
After the grandfather clock in the greeting room struck ten, the midwife finished her work for the Petersons. The baby had been cared for and fed by her loving mother. She straightened the wrinkled skirt of her attire and stretched her arms. She felt satisfied with her work in assisting Charlotte in caring for the newborn Peterson.
"You may go Jeanette, your work was well done," Charlotte spoke as she got up to tuck her daughter into her crib.
"Thank you, Miss Peterson."
The midwife bowed and departed from the master bedroom. A moment later, Robert stepped out of his office, finished with the letters to the Hayes family. He caught sight of the midwife and quickly folded and pocketed his letters in his suit pockets. Quickly, he retrieved the cash from his pockets and gave her twenty dollars in cash. She held the bills and gawked at the twenty five percent tip.
"Your services are appreciated, Jeanette," he politely said.
"Thank you, Mister Peterson," the midwife said, and she walked to the front door and put on her fur-coat and shoes. She departed from the main hall into the cool night air and quietly shut the front door behind her with hardly a creak. Jeanette, the midwife, hailed a late night carriage with a raised hand.
"Where you going, miss?" the horse driver asked.
"Shelton Street, please. It's getting awfully cold here," Jeanette said, getting goosebumps from the night breezes. Her fur-coat barely kept the cold out, since the breezes blew harder by the minute.
"Well, you might as well get in the buggy now. The wind's getting stronger."
Jeanette, glad to find shelter from the winds, entered the buggy and took a seat. Leaving the Peterson plantation behind, the driver goaded the horses onward, and began the journey through the moonlit streets of Darrelton.
Once again, the Peterson home was silent, except for the sounds of crickets chirping a nighttime orchestra in the cotton fields. Within the ornate house, Robert walked through the main hall, and he stepped up the staircase to the second floor.
He entered the bedroom and relished the sight of his daughter quietly sleeping in her crib. With a gaze at the rumpled cloth sheets of the bed, Robert knew that his wife was in the bathroom untying her hair. The tired man, with a yawn, walked out of the bedroom and then to the bathroom for his nightly habit of brushing his teeth and cleaning his grimy hair.
After brushing his teeth, Robert reminded his wife, "Don't forget to check on Mariette, dear."
"I am aware of that, but thanks for telling me so," she replied, untying her hair bun and hair ribbons.
"Alright… I hope that I'll be able to handle her midnight cravings, soiled diapers, and-"
"Of course you can, I'll help you through all of those things, and before you know it, she'll be all grown up. You'll be a good father, Robert. You're a kind, reasonable man for a plantation owner and new father."
Apparently, being a plantation owner had its perks, despite Robert knowing about the lower living conditions faced by the slaves. He saw slavery as his only way to earn revenue and make a living, and had few harsh feelings for his slaves. In return for their labors, his slaves were guaranteed shelter and sufficient food. Still, the abolitionists up in the North would not fully agree with his viewpoints. From their perspective, all slave owners were cruel and twisted. If a war broke out between the North and South, he thought, may God help his people.
"What's the matter, honey?" Charlotte asked with a concerned expression on her face.
"Not much, I just pray that the North and us Southern folk could just keep the peace."
"I'm sure they will, we've just experienced a war with the British not long ago. No one wants to experience the horrors of war again."
"You have a point, dear, but with all of the tensions… I still doubt that the peace will last."
Charlotte covered her mouth when she yawned, and said, "Yes, I understand. But, maybe we should leave this subject for another time. I'm sure that everything will play out for the better."
Within a few minutes, Robert and Charlotte laid in their bed. They felt warm and comfortable for the night, and they quickly fell asleep, exhausted from the ordeal of the birth of their daughter. Again, the house was silent under the moonlit night sky, and the crickets chirped unabated.
April 19, 1844
Robert found himself floating in a grayish fog, and then heard a voice far away. The fog that he floated in, continued to shake. He still ignored the voice, as he still floated deep within his secluded dream realm.
"Robert, you need to wake up. The overseers and servants are already up," Charlotte nagged.
"Robert," she repeated, grabbing him by the collar and shaking him.
At the persistent urges of his wife to wake up, Robert, who still felt groggy, rubbed his opened them to see the face of his wife. She wore a bright blue silk bonnet, and her blonde curls dropped down to her shoulders, which glistened in the sunlight shining through the bedroom window.
"Morning, dear," Robert greeted his wife.
"Good morning, honey," Charlotte said, putting on her light blue bonnet.
Robert stretched his arms and yawned, peering out the window facing the cotton fields left of the house. The inland breezes began to blow warm air, and the sun shone in a cloudless sky. Enjoying the pleasant breezes, Robert found that his wife walked to his side and watched the slaves pick cotton from the fields, humming the melodies of hymns. Charlotte slightly loosened her corset and adjusted the angle of her light blue bonnet. She looked to her husband and said, "Outside looks fine. How about we go get some extra dresses for Mariette?"
"No, we already have twelve different outfits, dear."
"But what if most of them don't fit?"
"What if they do fit? I've made sure of that during the last time I went out to fetch some baby dresses."
Charlotte, determined to win the argument, said, "We should do it for the child, because she's gonna grow up faster than you think. Buying bigger clothes ahead of time is a wise choice, you know."
"That won't be for another couple of years-" Robert protested.
"A couple of years can pass quicker than you think."
"I've been up nearly every night, honey. At least you should help me do what's best for little Mari' here," Charlotte added.
"I can't. Like I said earlier, it'll take two years for her to outgrow those outfits. We can wait two years, and the baby will be fine," Robert firmly said.
"Fiddle-dee-dee," his wife muttered, and she crossed her arms.
Frustrated with her stubborn husband, she walked away from Robert to check on Mariette, who still slept in the crib. From her knowledge of her husband, she knew that arguing with her stubborn husband was pointless. At least he still cared for her and the child, despite doing so in a different way. She watched her daughter sleep and thought about how the town would react to their additional family member. Already, a few townspeople had distrust for the Petersons, who seemed "dangerous" for their telekinetic abilities. Charlotte knew that something had to be done to teach Mariette to control her ability. For now, she had yet to show any signs of the ability. She sighed, lifting her hairbrush into the air with sheer concentration. The brush hovered above her hand for a few seconds, and dropped back down into her grip.
Robert, concerned that he may have irritated his wife, asked her, "Shall I leave you alone?"
"It's your choice, but I'm not angry with you."
Robert left his wife in the bedroom, as he exited through the doorway. At the bottom of the staircase in the greeting room, he saw his butler, Jared Curtis. Jared had come into his service four years earlier as a teenage Negro boy. Taking pity for him, as he was unemployed and homeless, Charlotte had suggested that he become a voluntary servant in exchange for shelter and care. Under the guidance of the Petersons, the boy had grown up into a young man proudly serving as the butler. The young man before Robert certainly had a great amount of gratitude and loyalty for the Petersons, and he would be their loyal servant and friend for years to come.
"Hello, Mister Peterson."
"Is the breakfast ready?"
"Of course, sir, I've ensured that the other servants have prepared the meal. I hope it is to your family's liking as usual," the butler spoke, while bowing in respect.
"Thanks for your service, Jared. I might as well remind my wife."
Jared bowed and promptly left to his duties, and he left Robert. Robert paced up the staircase in the spacious foyer, and approached the bedroom door. Despite knowing that he should not disturb his wife, whom he had been arguing with, Robert had to remind his wife because he cared for her. Despite the arguments, he knew that his wife still cared about him and loved him. Eventually, his daughter would get to know his fatherly love and find acceptance from the community. Hearing the cries of his daughter, he knocked on the door, and called out, "Charlotte?"
"Is everything alright?" he asked, scrunching together his eyebrows.
"Yes, just wait a minute for me to change Mariette's diaper."
Robert kept silent for a moment, and reminded Charlotte, "To let you know, butler Jared has ensured that our breakfast is ready."