Chapter 2

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Powhatan County, Virginia, March 1874

Elizabeth sat in her favorite garden spot with her Bible open on her lap. The sun was up just enough to allow her to read, and the birds were chirping a good-morning tune. It was still a mite chilly out, it being a late March morning, but she didn't mind. She loved the garden, and reading in the Lord's word was her favorite part of the day. She glanced around the garden for a moment, admiring the myriad of colors just beginning to appear. Azaleas of all shades in early bloom lined the walkways. Bright yellow forsythia added bursts of color throughout, while irises and tulips just beginning to poke their heads up from the earth formed a carpet surrounding a big, central fountain. There was no place Elizabeth loved more than the beauty and serenity of the garden.

Reading aloud from the book of Proverbs, chapter three, verses five and six, Elizabeth let the words soak in, like a balm to her dry and dusty soul, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Lord, what plans do you have for me? I am looking for Your guidance. I do try to trust You, but I don't see how I'll ever be anything other than what I am- unmarried and living with Papa all my days.

All she knew was the plantation life; although by definition, that had drastically changed with the war and the years since.  After the slaves had been freed, the plantation found itself in dire need of farmhands, even though some of their former slaves had stayed, asking her father for work.  Papa had hired them, eager to keep his farming prospects as intact as the war-ravaged countryside would allow.  Still yet, the plantation struggled to carry on without enough hands to complete the work, and at a young age Elizabeth began doing what work she could to help.  Over the years, she had taken great pains to hide from her father just how much she did around the plantation, as he was determined to keep her in the elevated status of society as a respectable young lady.

Papa's efforts have sadly been in vain, I'm afraid...

    While her father had managed to keep their way of life relatively elevated, Elizabeth knew deep in her heart that their financial situation couldn't be very favorable.  She hadn't missed the glimmer of hope in her father's eyes each time a potential wealthy suitor had bestowed any attentions on her, however rare those occasions had been.   

She sighed. Another scripture came to mind, Jeremiah chapter twenty-nine, verse eleven. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Elizabeth had always believed that the Lord had special plans for her, but she was beginning to wonder if they would ever come about. At nearly twenty-one years old with no marriage prospects in sight, she was quickly sealing her fate as an old maid. She herself wasn't in a rush to marry, but she worried about how her father felt about her lack of proposals. She didn't want to be a burden to him. Luckily, he had never forced the issue with her. Perhaps it was because he knew that her sister, Amelia, would probably secure a husband quickly with her beauty and charm.

Elizabeth possessed neither beauty nor charm. She felt very socially awkward and preferred to remain quiet during social engagements, so as not to stumble through a conversation and bore their guests. Elizabeth found her appearance to be rather average as well- she had boring dark brunette hair, rather than the fashionable blonde, with brown eyes to match. Her build was on the slender side, no hourglass curves that attracted second glances from eligible bachelors. She was quite sure all of these attributes conspired to be the reason no suitors came calling on her.

She considered the Watsons' ball, just two days ago; it had been grand, to be sure, but Elizabeth was relieved it was over with.  Not having received many invitations to dance, she had spent much time in the company of various other young ladies, which was customary for her.  She neither enjoyed dancing or socializing very much, and the stress of feeling rejected on all fronts generally contributed to her lack of enjoyment of said social engagements.

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