The day afterward, Hugh and his father planned to go to town. The morning passed as usual. Hugh found himself in the parlor, sitting on the cushioned couch beside his sister. Amelia glanced at her brother, who flipped another page with a scowl. Her warm brown eyes were squinted at her brother out of her concern towards her brother. She still doubted that her older brother would go through with his schemes of vengeance. Her rational mind then told her that her brother was hot-headed and stubborn. He was more than capable of doing such a vile deed. The thought of him being caught and ruining the reputation of her family bothered her a great deal.
Still, Amelia was little more than a southern lady. In time, she would be married off to another southern gentleman and have children. Part of her felt that it was not her place to interfere with the business of men, especially those of her brother and father. Another part of her conflicted with the proper southern norms of how to be a lady. Would she be so heartless as to allow a fellow southern belle to take all wrath from her hotheaded brother?
"I must be off, Melia'. After I speak with our father, I will return to play chess with you," Hugh said, forcing a smile.
He did not want to trouble his sister with the troubles of southern men. She was only seventeen and a half-years old, still trying to find her place in the Boise family and the community of Darrelton. Hugh would not place more burdens on his beloved sister. It was not her role to take revenge on those who had wounded the status and pride of his family.
"Take care... I pray that you will not do anything rash," Amelia said, before returning to her reading.
Hugh did not reply, and he left the parlor, searching the various hallways and rooms of the mansion. Amelia stayed behind, feeling torn between her choices. What would she do about the tension that now existed between her family and the Petersons? She closed her favorite book, no longer wanting to read it. She stared at the table. Her mind could not make an easy decision. If she sent a letter to the Petersons warning them, she would be betraying her brother and father. If she did nothing, the Petersons would suffer a great deal.
One thing was certain. She needed the advice of her mother, an sensible southern lady of upper class Darrelton. She wasted no time in leaving the parlor and making her way through the halls and rooms of her home to the bedroom of her mother. Once she arrived there, she found that the door was open. From within the room, her mother hummed the tune of The Bonnie Blue Flag.
"May I enter, Mama?"
Amelia stepped inside the bedroom. The canopy bed, built of dark wood, contrasted well with the crimson red and pink curtains on the frame. With her legs covered by white blankets, her mother was seated on the bed, reading another book. The blue eyes of her mother were focused on her, as if expecting further replies.
"What troubles you?" Judy asked her daughter.
"Mama, I am very troubled. I do not know what to do about the issue of my brother and the Petersons. If I do nothing, their daughter will suffer a great deal. Yet, if I do something to help them, I would only betray Papa and Hugh," Amelia said, sighing.
Judy smiled and patted the area next to herself. Amelia sat beside her mother, looking up into those calm blue eyes. The auburn hair of her mother shone in the light coming through the window. Her mother was still a southern beauty despite her age of nearly forty.
"My little Melia', you must know that there is a time for everything. To help the Petersons is a choice that I have no decision on... not yet. I declare that we should wait until the time is right."
"I remember that Miss Mariette was a pleasant young belle during the last visit to the Peterson property. She was only protecting her friend from the improper advances of my brother. A good southern gentleman does not seek revenge on a woman, nor does he touch a woman in a perverse manner."
Her mother sighed. "I agree wholeheartedly, but please do not tell your father of our feelings on this matter."
"We cannot simply do nothing, Mama. They do not deserve what Hugh has in store for them... murder!"
"Is that true?"
Amelia was silent for a few moments before she spoke, "Yes, Mama."
Moments passed as her mother sat in silence, considering the words of her daughter. Her mind and heart clashed with each other. She placed a hand on her head, feeling unsure of what to do. No southern belle would be so unkind as to deny help to another southern family, but no proper southern lady would stand against her husband. She did not have eternity to decide. The intense stare of the warm brown eyes of her daughter melted her heart. The brown eyes reminded her of that kind brunette southern belle who had visited some time ago.
"Mama... what do you think?" Amelia asked, looking at her mother with her large brown eyes.
Minutes passed before her mother spoke, and Amelia paced around the room.
"I take back what I told you earlier of remaining out of this terrible business. I declare, your father and brother have decided to go too far in their grudges with the Petersons!" Judy said.
"I feel the same, Mama. What do we do?"
"We will write a letter to the Petersons to warn them. It is all we can do... I pray that they will heed our warnings."
Amelia looked behind them at the bedroom door to ensure that no one had heard them. Despite the door being open, no one had eavesdropped on them. Amelia nodded yes, and her mother sighed in relief. Her mother lifted herself from the old wooden chair before stepping to the door to close it.
"Melia', please fetch me a blank paper," Judy said.
Amelia searched around the room. She opened a cabinet filled with paper sheets and quills, smiling as she picked one sheet from its place. At the very least, the young belle would help another southern belle in need, regardless of her reputation. The thought lifted her spirits and strengthened her resolve. although she loved her brother and father, she could not condone their plans to harm the Petersons.
Once Amelia gave her mother the paper, her mother began to write with care. An hour passed. During that hour, Amelia and her mother discussed what to write while composing the letter. The room began to warm up as the late noon hours approached, and both Amelia and Judy began to feel a stickiness on their necks.
"Open the window for us, Amelia," Judy whispered as passing footsteps sounded from behind their door.
Amelia nodded, opening the window beside them. She froze upon hearing a familiar voice: the voice of her brother.
"Mother? Are you alright?" Hugh asked, knocking on the door.
"I am fine, dear," Judy said, folding the letter and hiding it in the pages of her Bible.
Thinking quickly, Amelia grabbed a copy of Sense and Sensibility from a bookshelf in the bedroom. She laid on the bed, pretending to read the novel as her mother opened the door. Hugh entered the room, smiling at his sister.
"Oh, 'Melia... always burying your head in books."
"Why, I enjoy such activities! I would rather become a writer than a wife."
Hugh laughed. "Mother, what do you think?"
"One of the highest purposes in life is to find happiness... I believe that your sister should do whatever she desires that will bring happiness to her," Judy said.
Judy held up her hand, silencing her son mid-sentence. "I know the words on the tip of your tongue, but I am adamant that your sister should find happiness, not only safety."
Hugh shook his head, and he began to walk out of the room. He stopped at the door, and he looked back at her mother and sister.
"You must realize... it is better to be safe for the sake of happiness," Hugh said, and he walked away.
His mother peered from behind the door before returning to her desk to resume writing her letter. Amelia set down the book, and she got off the bed to reread the letter. Judy handed the letter to her daughter, who scrutinized every line upon the paper.
Dear Miss Charlotte Peterson,
Allow us to introduce ourselves. I am Judy Boise, writing this letter with the assistance of my daughter, Amelia Boise. Be reassured that we hold no ill feelings toward your family after the incident with Hugh Boise, my son. We have forgiven your daughter Mariette sometime ago, and we understand why she did such actions. However, my husband and my son have intentions to take revenge upon your daughter. We cannot condone their horrid plans of possible murder. We only wish to warn you, so that you may act with caution and care.
With our regards,
Judy L. Boise and Amelia Boise.
Amelia nodded in approval, then looking at her mother. "What do you think about the letter, Mama?"
"I believe that the letter is ready," Judy said.
Nighttime approached. After having dinner with his sister and mother, Hugh returned to his father within the study room. He already felt the first feelings of weariness after an uneventful day. Boredom had set in for the young hotheaded heir of the Boise family. Only one thing kept Hugh occupied, and that was a certain score to settle with Mariette Peterson. His pride had been wounded, and his father had been embarrassed and enraged. Along with his father, Hugh wanted to restore the dignity of his family. The only method to achieve that goal would be vengeance. Mariette had actually given him a concussion. He would give her a cup of the bitter drink of revenge in return.
As Hugh entered the room, he spotted his father sitting in front of his desk. The papers resting on the desk were sorted by category, and the hanging portraits of the Boise ancestors looked down with accusing stares. Hugh watched as his father took a key out from his pocket and bent below the desk to open a locked chest below the deck. Greg reached inside to pull out a small gold bar.
"Hugh, get ready. We are going to Fitch's Bar to get some good company," Greg said with a stern look.
"Yes, father, I hope that those stubborn Peterson fools will learn their lesson. They will know better than to mess with a Boise, regardless of what Gift they have," Hugh muttered through clenched teeth.
"Patience is golden, son. Now, follow me... I know that Fitch's Bar is where my great-grandfather visited for certain henchmen. I reckon that there may be a few we can hire."
Hugh nodded, and he followed his father out of the room. They made their way to the parlor, and they told an overseer to fetch the carriage driver. The overseer wasted not a minute in doing so. The carriage driver, a short slave named Benjamin, emerged from the inner parts of the mansion with the overseer behind him. His black suit was wrinkled, and his tie was placed on at an odd angle.
"Benjamin, take us to the part of Thorne Street around Fitch's Bar," Greg ordered, giving an intense stare at his personal carriage driver.
Benjamin shook his head. "But sir-"
"No excuses, unless you want to sleep outside!"
"Y- yes.. Master Greg!" Benjamin stuttered in fright.
"Good. You may lead us to the carriage stables."
Benjamin, driven by fear of another punishment by his master, shuddered and led Greg and Hugh to the back area of the plantation, where a handful of horses stayed in their stables. Two other slaves, dressed in drab gray shirts and pants, chattered beside the stables.
"Neville, Adam! Master wants his buggy ready," Benjamin said.
"Yes, Mister Benjamin," the two slaves said, looking with wide eyes at a scowling Greg.
Benjamin, Neville, and Adam prepared the carriage within ten minutes, their fastest time to do so. Benjamin told the two other slaves to remain at the stables. With one last glance at the Greek Revival styled mansion, the carriage driver spurred the horses forward. The carriage soon left the grounds of the plantation. The lone buggy continued under the dimming orange light of the Georgian sunset to town...
After a half hour had passed, the carriage entered Thorne Street. The paved stone path still had plenty of passerby and carriages parked beside the buildings even as the last rays of the Georgian sun were extinguished by the horizon. Hugh sat in silence beside his father, who gave an occasional look at the pedestrians. The carriage slowed down before stopping beside a Colonial two-story brick building with wide windows. Its brick walls, which began to darken with age, complimented the white framed windows lit by lighting within. Hugh scoffed.
"Father, do you reckon that this is the place?" Hugh asked, raising an eyebrow at the building.
"I reckon so... and watch that attitude of yours," Greg said in a stern tone.
Greg told Benjamin, "Stay here and watch our carriage."
"Yes, Master Greg," Benjamin said, remembering to not ask questions about his master.
Both Greg and his son disembarked from the carriage, and they looked around. No one else seemed to walk the streets nearby. Both men entered the building, opening the wooden door with a creak. It was the first time that Hugh had seen such an unruly place. The air smelled of a musty odor. Women dressed in very low cut dresses swayed their hips while standing on a platform on the left side of the room. Hugh looked around, seeing men in suits and shirts tossing coins at the feet of the women. Hugh felt his face heat up when he looked at the depraved scene.
"Lower your blouses!" a few men said.
The women bent down and did what they were told, eliciting more shouts and hoots from the men. To the seducing women, it was a simple job. All that mattered was scraping some change to survive. Hugh felt a tap on his shoulder, and he turned around to face his father, who cleared his throat.
"We are not here for those kinds of services. We are of noble southern blood, son. Follow me to the back."
The two of them walked to the bar before taking their seats. Hugh ordered drinks from the bartender, and he placed a few coins down on the countertop. The bartender, a tall and thick-built man, nodded and took the money. The two Boises received back some change and their brandy. Ignoring the shouting in the background, both father and son enjoyed their drinks.
"Who will come?" Hugh asked, looking behind himself at the door.
"Patience is golden," replied his father.
A few moments later, a tall man entered the bar, dressed in a dark brown coat. A .25 caliber Colt pistol rested in a holster at his right side gleaming silver under the dim lantern lights. A few of the patrons stopped shouting and became silent at the sight of the man. He looked around with squinted eyes, as he cracked his knuckles. He walked to the bar, making a smug smile.
"Ah, the well-received Mister Boise," the man said.
Greg looked at the man, and he smiled as well. "Mister Dell, it is good to see you once again. This is my son... Mister Hugh."
"How are ya, Mister Boise Junior?"
"I would be all fine, except that we have some hash to settle."
Mitch Dell sat down, and he stared at Greg and Hugh. "Tell me about it."
Greg took out a small gold bar, and this made Mitch widen his eyes in interest. "Damn... looks like you have a plenty of hash to settle," Mitch muttered.
"My son has been... accosted by some upstart minx from around here... one of them Petersons," Greg said.
"Mariette Peterson. Fool gave my son a concussion and some nasty bruises. Took many all-fired months for him to get well."
"And you want me to hire some men to take care of her?"
"Just her... and make the attack on their home resemble some robbery, if the men can be hired."
Mitch remained silent, considering the demands. "You have a deal... I will contact some decent henchmen from Atlanta, including a certain mister Nellis," he said, clearing his throat.
"Is he exemplary?"
"Yes, he had some training at West Point. He does mighty well for one who lost his father and mother."
Hugh gulped down more brandy. He would enjoy this.