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Excerpt

 

 

 

Jubal Leatherbury BOOK I

The forest was dense, but the boy moved swiftly through the trees, a crippled foot giving his gait a loping quality. His breath came in gasps and whimpers as he ran, clutching a small, still form close against his chest. Ahead, a break in the trees opened onto an expanse of green. He could see his mother in the back yard hanging clothes on a line to dry. Relief brought awareness of excruciating pain in his foot. “Mama!” he called, hobbling out of the woods with his burden. “Mama! Mama!”

“Gabriel? What in the world?” she cried, seeing the child, pale and unmoving in his arms and Gabriel’s face, red, sweating and streaked with tears. “What’s happened?”

“He was hanging, Mama,” Gabriel sobbed out, “hanging in the Leatherburys’ woodshed. Is he dead, Mama? Is he dead?”

 

Jubal Leatherbury BOOK II

He’s the devil, she thought, wooing me with what he knows I want; something I can’t get from anywhere else.

Jonah was speaking. “The reason I know you aren’t friends with Imogene Leatherbury is because she is stone cold crazy. Have you been to their house, or met her at all?”

“No.” It was a whisper, but it was a whisper of permission to continue.

“The truth is, Sarah, I don’t know what manner of man Mr. Leatherbury may be. You probably know what his reputation is. I know he wasn’t around home much when Roger and Jubal were children. Roger despises his father, but he knows his mother is crazy.”

“Do you know why Jubal was sent to New Orleans?” Sarah asked.

“He was taken, not sent, and yes, I do know. It’s hard stuff, Sarah. Are you sure you want me to tell you?” He was speaking very softly. If Edith had tried, she couldn’t have made out his words.

“Tell me what you know yourself.”

He understood. “She—his mother—she almost killed him,” he began.