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So now that she has spent three books in denial, Finley is forced to face facts and bring Elsie's world into contact with the Civil War. High time, frankly, but let's see how she does it.

Before I inflict that one on you, though, I'm gonna have to warn for racism more vile than anything else we've hit so far. Let's head on to Finley's preface.

Dates compelled the bringing in of the late war: and it has been the
earnest desire and effort of the author to so treat the subject as to
wound the feelings of none; to be as impartial as if writing history; and,
by drawing a true, though alas, but faint picture, of the great losses and
sufferings on both sides, to make the very thought of a renewal of the
awful strife _utterly abhorrent_ to every lover of humanity, and
especially of this, our own dear native land.

Are we not one people: speaking the same language; worshipping the one
true and living God; having a common history, a common ancestry; and
united by the tenderest ties of blood? And is not this great grand,
glorious old Union--known and respected all over the world--our common
country, our joy and pride? O! let us forget all bitterness, and live
henceforth in love, harmony, and mutual helpfulness.

So runs our apologia for the whole Civil War thing. And there's another nod to why hardline evangelicals like this book: apparently we Americans all have one faith! That's just fine and dandy.

So our story actually begins. We learn Rosebud is indeed a small human infant born when I was not paying attention. She's Rose's daughter. Since we get "the two Elsies" running around in a later novel, this is basically one reason why I've given up on ever getting names straight in these books.

Oh, and:

But little Horace, leaving his father's side, rushed up to Elsie, and
catching her hand in his, cried, "I'll never give my consent! and you
belong to me. Mr. Travilla, you can't have her."

Daddy Dinsmore's son has not fallen far from the tree. Someone get him away from Travilla, too.

Oh, and Arthur has caught the dread Herbertspnomia or gotten into a train wreck or something:

"Slowly and steadily improving," answered Walter. "The doctors are now
satisfied that he is not permanently crippled, though he still uses a

At least they didn't have to shoot him.

Marriage continues to be this bizarre cut-and-paste, as we learn this time from Mrs. Travilla:

The old lady folded the slight girlish form to her breast for a moment,
with a silence more eloquent than words.

"Thank God! thank God!" she murmured at length. "He has given me my
heart's desire;" and mingled caresses and tears fell upon Elsie's face.
"For many years I have loved you as my own child, and now I am to have
you. How bright our home will be, Edward. But we are darkening another.
Her father; can he--has he----"

So let's move on of the prying loose of Elsie from her clingy family circle (seriously, her aunts are giving or denying their consent but no one cares) and see a bit of Elsie's inheritance we knew nothing of before:

"Yes, it was about a million at the time of your Grandfather Grayson's
death, and has increased very much during your mamma's minority and yours;
which you know has been a very long one. You own several stores and a
dwelling house in New Orleans, a fine plantation with between two and
three hundred negroes, and I have invested largely for you in stocks of
various kinds both in your own country and in England. I wish you to
examine all the papers, certificates of stock, bonds, deeds, mortgages,
and so forth."

Little Elsie owns somewhere between two and three hundred slaves.

What a moral problem to be dropped on your head. You've been ticking along all your life doing everything your religion says, with someone owning your hair and hands, telling you what to wear, how to do your hair, how to dress, what to do and when to do it... and suddenly you are told that people have been enslaved and you hold them from liberty. This is a major problem for your literal mindset!

"Oh, papa!" she cried, lifting her hands in dismay, "what a task. Please
excuse me. You know all about it, and is not that sufficient?"

Or you could just not notice and defer all personal responsibility to authority...

So Daddy D. talks to her about going to Louisiana (that's... pretty far down the river) to see the place.

"Thank you, papa. And if poor mammy objects this time, she may take her
choice of going or staying; but go I must, and see how my poor people are
faring at Viamede. I have dim, dreamy recollections of it as a kind of
earthly paradise. Papa, do you know why mammy has always been so
distressed whenever I talked of going there?"

"My" people? Who the fuck is she, Elsie Moses?

"Painful associations, no doubt. Poor creature! it was there her
husband--an unruly negro belonging to a neighboring planter--was sold away
from her, and there she lost her children, one by accidental drowning, the
others by some epidemic disease. Your own mother, too, died there, and
Chloe I think never loved one of her own children better."

You know, I thought it was possible Chloe's kids were raised offscreen earlier. I didn't think they'd die of drowning and what was probably disease spread by bad hygiene conditions, this being swampy Lousiana and plumbing being in its early stages. And then her master won't even buy her husband, but does expect her to serve his daughter and granddaughter. Elsie, did you notice that a tale of tragedy surrounds the nurse who's given you nothing but love?

"No, I'm sure not. But she never told me of her husband and children, and
I thought she had never had any. And now, papa, that we are done with
business for the present, I have a request to make."

Nope. Chloe is not authority; Chloe is not important.

Nothing happens for a while. Lucy is allowed to be friends with Elsie again, although she's not that healthy so she can't do much to agitate interest. Elsie is at a party, Arthur shows up:

"It's a nice night, this," remarked Arthur's voice at her side, "I say,
Elsie, suppose we bury the hatchet, you and I."

"I never had any enmity towards you, Arthur," she answered, still gazing
straight before her.

"Well, it's odd if you hadn't; I gave you cause enough, as you did me by
your niggardly refusal to lend me a small sum, on occasions when I was
hard up. But I'm willing to let by-gones be by-gones, if you are."

So that settles that. But we don't get out of this conversation that easily. This wouldn't be the Elsie books if we didn't eventually mention incest:

"You forget," she said, half scornfully, "that it takes two to make a
bargain; three in this case; and two of us would never consent."

"Nonsense! I'd soon manage it by clever courting. A man can always get the
woman he wants if he's only sufficiently determined."

"In that you are mistaken. But why broach so disagreeable a subject, since
we are so nearly related that the very thought seems almost a sin and a

Given what Finley actually puts in there, I'm afraid of what she'd write if she'd ever let herself go. Arthur next refers to Travilla as "an old codger" and redeems himself for at least one murder attempt.

Elsie then goes and lets Chloe know about the visit to the plantation, intending to let her stay behind. Chloe thinks about it and says that there are so many boat and train rides she wants to be sure to come to see to Elsie's safety, to which Elsie completely flips her off by saying only God can do that.

So yeah, we stuck around with Elsie all this time only to find her turning from a pharisee of a child into a loathsome adult. That's okay, there's still a shred of good in Moses Dinsmore:

Elsie smiled, and blushed slightly. "You know I never have any
concealments from you, papa, and I will be frank about this," she said. "I
don't think I apt to be suspicious, and yet the thought has come to me
several times within the last few days, that the overseer has had every
opportunity to abuse my poor people if he happens to be of a cruel
disposition. And if he is ill-treating them I should like to catch him at
it," she added, her eyes kindling, and the color deepening on her cheek.

Hey. Hey, Elsie? They're "poor" because you don't pay them.

So Chloe is watching the paddle-wheel when a slave on the boat addresses her, and they stare in shock at each other before embracing joyfully.

"Papa! what is it?" exclaimed Elsie, greatly surprised at the little

"Her husband, no doubt: he's too old to be a son."

"Oh, how glad, how glad I am!" and Elsie started to her feet, her eyes
full of tears, and her sweet face sparkling all over with sympathetic joy.
"Papa, I shall buy him! they must never be parted again till death comes

A little crowd had already gathered about the excited couple, every one on
deck hurrying to the spot, eager to learn the cause of the tumult of joy
and grief into which the two seemed to have been so suddenly thrown...

"...O papa, yes; please attend to it for me--only--only I must have him, for
dear old mammy's sake, at whatever cost."

Freeing them both and keeping them on as paid servants? Unheard-of! Black people are like pokemon. The two are briefly separated so the deal can be arranged.

Chloe obeyed, silently following her young mistress to the other side of
the deck, but ever and anon turning her head to look back with wet eyes at
the old wrinkled black face and white beard that to her were so dear, so
charming. His eyes were following her with a look of longing, yearning
affection, and involuntarily he stretched out his arms towards her.

Finley can write stuff like this, she can as a wildly racist author attribute some human emotion to black people, but she still just doesn't get it. And of course Uncle Joe, newly to be purchased, is their brother in Christ:

"I am not anxious; he's a good hand, faithful and honest: quite a
religious character in fact," he concluded with a sneer; "overshoots the
mark in prayin and psalm-singing. But do you want to buy?"

Who has first right over Chloe's husband?

"Mammy, my poor old mammy, Uncle Joe belongs to me now, and you
can have him always with you as long as the Lord spares your lives."

Elsie does, of course! No mention of Jesus owning anyone first until Chloe says that her husband found God. We also learn that Chloe has one surviving grandchild. Elsie comes out with this stumper:

"Mammy, if money will buy her, you shall have her, too," said Elsie

Wait, didn't she just say Chloe's husband belonged to her before Chloe said he belonged to Jesus? What a clusterfuck.

We learn that Elsie's plantation has sugar-houses, which sounds to me like it's involved in sugarcane processing. Sugarcane cutting was one of the reasons that being sold down the river was so terrible: you had you vs. dangerous, tough sugarcane you had to hack apart with a machete, all the while tap-dancing around tropical vipers in your probably-bare feet and also getting terrible infections from last year's semi-decayed fibrous cane splinters. Not to mention the hygiene concerns involved in a lot of people working in a swamp, from bugs to poor plumbing. Since they're on a river, it's likely that the sugarcane was just shipped up from islands where all this took place so that it could be processed here. Goody, Elsie is just part of the processing chain for blood diamonds.

But! Elsie is now going to meet reality!

"But what, what is going on there?" she asked, gazing intently in the
direction of the negro quarter, where a large crowd of them, probably all
belonging to the plantation, were assembled.

At that instant something rose in the air and descended again, and a wild
shriek, a woman's wail of agony, rent the air.

Elsie flew over the ground as though she had been a winged creature, her
father having to exert himself to keep pace with her. But the whip had
descended again and again, another and another of those wild shrieks
testifying to the sharpness of its sting, ere they were near enough to

So taken up with the excitement of the revolting scene were all present,
that the landing and the approach of our friends had not been observed
until Elsie, nearing the edge of the crowd, called out in a voice of
authority, and indignation, "Stop! not another blow!"

The crowd parted, showing a middle-aged negress stripped to the waist and
tied to a whipping post, writhing and sobbing with pain and terror, while
a white man stood over her with a horse-whip in his uplifted hand, stayed
in mid-air by the sudden appearance of those in authority over him.

Finley, in all her talk of modesty and being able to tell how virtuous women are are by looking at them, has never shown us more than an ankle. There is now a woman bare to the waist hanging off a pole, unable to cover herself before a crowd, and Finley doesn't even seem to think of the shame.

"I've got to make 'em work; I'm bound they shall, and nothing but the
whip'll do it with this lazy wretch," muttered Spriggs, dropping his whip
and stepping back a little, while two stalwart fellows obeyed Elsie's
order to take the woman down...

Yes. Let's do have the half-naked woman handled by men.

Elsie shuddered and wept at sight of the bleeding back and shoulders.
"Cover her up quickly, and take her away where she can lie down and rest,"
she said to the women who were crowding round to greet and welcome
herself. "I will speak to you all afterwards, I'm glad to be here among
you." Then leaning over the sufferer for an instant, with fast-dropping
tears, "Be comforted," she said, in tones of gentle compassion, "you shall
never have this to endure again."

Is this a sea change in the spoiled plantation heiress?

Her father, while shaking hands with the blacks, speaking a kindly word to
each, regarded her with mingled curiosity and admiration; thoroughly
acquainted with his child as he had believed himself to be, he now saw her
in a new character.

That would be revolutionary for this series! Elsie leads this conversation off:

"...But now tell me, please, what can I do with this Spriggs? I should
like to pay him a month's wages in advance, and start him off early
to-morrow morning."

Mr. Dinsmore shook his head gravely. "It would not do, my child. The
sugar-making season will shortly begin; he understands the business
thoroughly; we could not supply his place at a moment's notice, or
probably in a number of months, and the whole crop would be lost. We must
not be hasty or rash, but remember the Bible command, 'Let your moderation
be known unto all men.'

That makes sense. If Elsie is going to do something about the problem here, she can't afford to emancipate the entire plantation in one swoop, or bankrupt herself; then she can't pay their wages when she frees them, and the plantation will just be bought and filled with new slaves. If Elsie is being moral she'll do that; if she's being moral and heroic she'll have to do more than that.

Nor should we allow ourselves to judge the man too hardly."


"Too hardly, papa! too hardly, when he has shown himself so cruel! But I
beg pardon for interrupting you."

"Yes, too hardly, daughter. He is a New Englander, used to see every one
about him working with steady, persevering industry, and the indolent,
dawdling ways of the blacks, which we take as a matter of course, are
exceedingly trying to him. I think he has been very faithful to your
interests, and that probably his desire and determination to see them
advanced to the utmost, led, more than anything else, to the act which
seems to us so cruel."


"He is a New Englander, used to see every one about him working with
steady, persevering industry, and the indolent, dawdling ways of the blacks,
which we take as a matter of course, are exceedingly trying to him."

Okay, then PAY THEM or do something to MOTIVATE THEM besides BEATINGS. I knew this was a historical claim for the justification of slavery, but I've never seen it laid out like this. It's even excused. He has to strip a woman to the waist, tie her to a pole, and publicly horsewhip her bloody! He's just so damn humane! You'd totally do this too, you know it.

Guess Finley would.

"And could he suppose that I would have blood wrung from my poor people
that a few more dollars might find their way into my purse?" she cried in
indignant sorrow and anger. "Oh, papa, I am not so cruel, you know I am

"Yes, my darling, I know you have a very tender, loving heart."

That doesn't set the table. If they're not motivated one way or another they will not work, and Elsie must solve this problem somehow. The best way would be a rolling process of emancipation, educating and freeing a few a month but paying them to stay on at the plantation. That would slowly shift things over to a new system without scaring the bejeezus out of the neighbors and getting the proto-KKK camped on Elsie's lawn. It's still dangerous because educating a slave is illegal. Sometimes, the moral choice is neither safe nor legal.

"But what shall I do with Spriggs?"

"For to-night, express your sentiments and feelings on the subject as
calmly and moderately as you can, and enjoin it upon him to act in
accordance with them. Then we may consider at our leisure what further
measures can be taken."

Elsie asks of her slave how her other slave is after the beating. There will be de-dialecting, mostly because hurray, the n-word. Yes, I am taking that out, it's my goddamn journal. P. 36 of Elsie's Womanhood if you want the original. How did these go out of print? I can't imagine.

"Then let us have it, Aunt Phillis. How is that poor creature now?" asked
her young mistress.

"Suse, honey? oh, she's all right; it didn't do her any harm to take some
of the lazy blood out. Massa Spriggs not so terrible cross, Miss Elsie; but
he will have work done, and Suse is powerful lazy, just sits in the sun and
does nothing from morning to night, if nobody's around to make her work."

"Ah, that is very bad; we must try to reform her in some way. But perhaps
she's not well."

"I don't know; she's always complaining of misery in her back, and
misery in her head; but doesn't everyone have a misery, some kind, most
days? And go on working all the same. No, Suse is a powerful lazy
old (black person.)"

So Finley just refuted the idea that black people are inherently lazy, although I'm not sure she noticed. Also, Suse could have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, or a bunch of hidden disabilities. Spriggs shows up, and we're supposed to like him because of his boldness and keenness and attractive build. He's told no more flogging:

"That's plain English and easy understood, Miss Dinsmore, and Dinsmore,
and of course you have a right to dictate in the matter; but I tell you
what, these darkies o' yours are a dreadful lazy set, specially that Suse;
and it's mighty hard for folks that's been used to seein' things done up
spick and span and smart to put up with it."

I have an idea. Let's stop this man's wages and beat him when his performance drops.

"But some amount of patience with the natural slowness of the negro is a
necessary trait in the character of an overseer who wishes to remain in my

"Well, miss, I always calculate to do the very best I can by my employers,
and when you come to look round the estate, I guess you'll find things in
prime order; but I couldn't ha' done it without lettin' the darkies know
they'd got to toe the mark right straight."

"They must attend to the work, of course, and if they won't do so
willingly, must under compulsion; but there are milder measures than this
brutal flogging."

This is still Elsie talking about how her poor people are to be treated.

"What do you prescribe, Miss Dinsmore?"

"Deprive them of some privilege, or lock them up on bread and water for a
few days," Elsie answered; then turned an appealing look upon her father,
who had as yet played the part of a mere listener.

This is where the joke falls on you. All that time you spent feeling sorry for that little girl? Wasted. Nothing in Elsie's background has prepared her for seeing the wrong underlying this. She can speak to a half-naked, bleeding woman to offer protection, and her idea is that she will violate her human rights by putting her on a starvation diet instead. Elsie can't recognize a moral issue when it's literally bleeding at her feet. All she recognizes is Authority, and if Authority sees nothing wrong with this, our model of Womanly Womanhood doesn't notice anything either.

The worst part is that she would have cleaner hands if she were raised Quaker without any say in the matter or without any wise choices being made. She would have just ticked through her childhood and adolescence and ended up innocent by mistake. She's got no reason for the way she is, no underlying morality.

If you aspire to Elsie Dinsmore's goodness, you will find yourself as an adult in a burning barn, arguing if your laws say you should pour your watering can on the planter of tomato seeds, or the planter of carrot seeds.

"Now, papa, for our tour of inspection," she cried gayly, rising as she
spoke, and ringing for a servant to carry the light. "But first please
tell me if I was sufficiently moderate."

"You did very well," he answered, smiling. "You take to the role of
mistress much more naturally than I expected."


My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender- hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she commenced, when I first went to live with her, to treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a slaveholder, she did not seem to perceive that I sustained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and that for her to treat me as a human being was not only wrong, but dangerously so. Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman. There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness. The first step in her downward course was in her ceasing to instruct me. She now commenced to practise her husband's precepts. She finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed anxious to do better...

Frederick Douglass: a bit more credible source on the topic of slavery than Finley, thank you.

Elsie goes about scattering sweetness and light to everyone who knows their place and adores her.

"Yes, papa, I hope so; I do so enjoy a nice book, especially when read
with you. But I think that, for the present at least, I must spend a part
of each day in attending to the preparation of winter clothing for
house-servants and field hands."

How kind! You can be safe from exposure while enriching her with your unpaid labor! Hey, did you know Frederick Douglass used to sleep with his head in a feed sack as a child so he wouldn't freeze?

And even more, Elsie will tend to your spiritual state! That, or she'll take all of her childhood issues and dump that much trauma and more on your children:

But she was often down at the quarter visiting the sick, the aged and
infirm, seeing that their wants were supplied, reading the Bible to them,
praying with them, telling of the better land where no trouble or sorrow
can come, and trying to make the way to it, through the shed blood of
Christ, very plain and clear. Then she would gather the children about her
and tell them of the blessed Jesus and His love for little ones.

"Does He love (hello n-word,) mistress?" queried one grinning little (gross ethnic descriptor.)

"Yes, if they love Him: and they won't be negroes in heaven."

"White folks, mistress? Oh, that's nice! Guess I'll go there; if they let me in."

So first we get the idea that God loves you even though you are black, and then we get what is spoken by Elsie and is therefore Biblical truth: when you get to heaven God will fix you and you won't be black anymore. Because God didn't mean to make anyone who wasn't white. In Elsie's head, the world is Jesusland surrounded by vague blobby shapes with mission flags stuck on them. Even the oceans. And yes, she is emotionally abusing those children by telling them there was a horrible mistake when they were made.

So then Elsie goes at the slaves' request to read the Bible to everyone that she keeps illiterate:

She found a rustic seat placed for her under a giant oak, and garlanded
with fragrant flowers. Aunt Phillis, Aunt Chloe, Uncle Joe, and the rest
of the house-servants, gathered in a semicircle around it, while beyond,
the men, women, and children from the quarter sat or lay upon the grass,
enjoying the rest from the toils of the week, the quiet, the balmy air
laden with the fragrance of the magnolia and orange, and all the sweet
sights and sounds of rural life in that favored region.

Isn't that lovely? This is pretty much the epitome of Elsie. This is where Elsie can Else no further. This is the wellspring of her happiness; she will claim to serve in heaven, but she truly wants to reign in hell. No one can argue Elsie's knowledge of the Bible because no one can read it. All will abide by her rules. No one will do anything but praise her.

The War of Northern Aggression cannot come fast enough.

So Harold, who I vaguely remember as Rose's brother or something because I was always trying to sort out him and Herbert and Horace, randomly falls in love with Elsie and is refused because she's engaged. There was no other point to him being there. Elsie buys Chloe's granddaughter, Dinah, who exists as a name and not much more. Then Travilla and Elsie take a boring ride. And now: THE RETURN OF BROMLY EGERTON!

"What, dear child? I heard nothing but the sound of our horses' hoofs, the
sighing of the wind in the tree-tops, and our own voices."

"I heard another; a muttered oath and the words, 'You shall never win her.
I'll see to that.' The tones were not loud but deep, and the wind seemed
to carry the sounds directly to my ear," she whispered, laying a trembling
little hand on his arm, and glancing nervously from side to side.

"A trick of the imagination, I think, dearest; but from whence did the
sounds seem to come?"

"From that bush that's reciting 'signed, Tom Jones AKA Bromly Egerton AKA A Small Hedge!'"

"From yonder thicket of evergreens and--I knew the voice for that of your
deadly foe, the man from whom you and papa rescued me in Landsdale."

"My child, he is expiating his crime in a Pennsylvania penitentiary."

"But may he not have escaped, or have been pardoned out? Don't, oh don't,
I entreat you!" she cried, as he turned his horse's head in the direction
of the thicket. "You will be killed."

"I am armed, and a dead shot," he answered, taking a revolver from his
breast pocket.

"But he is in ambush, and can shoot you down before you can see to aim at

"You are right, if there is really an enemy concealed there," he
answered, returning the revolver to its former resting-place; "but I feel
confident that it was either a trick of the imagination with you, or that
some one is playing a practical joke upon us. So set your tears at rest,
dear child, and let us hasten on our way."

I don't see how Travilla is supposed to be a star pugilist and marksman when he spends all his time hanging out with little kids. Nothing happens until Arthur wanders by some time later.

Arthur thought he discovered the figure of a man standing by the
roadside, apparently waiting to halt him as he passed.

"Ha! you'll not take me by surprise, my fine fellow, whoever you may be,"
muttered Arthur between his set teeth, drawing out a revolver and cocking
it, "Halloo there! Who are you; and what d'ye want?" he called, as his
horse brought him nearly opposite the suspicious looking object.

"Your money or your life, Dinsmore," returned the other with a coarse

So Arthur shot him dead.

"Don't pretend not to know me, old chap."

"You!" exclaimed Arthur, with an oath, but half under his breath. "I
thought you were safe in----"

"State prison, eh? Well, so I was, but they've pardoned me out. I was a
reformed character, you see; and then my vote was wanted at the last
election, ha! ha!

For northerners are evil, and Lincoln's candidacy caused evil things.

And so I've come down to see how my old friends are getting along."

"Friends! don't count me among them!" returned Arthur, hastily;
"jail-birds are no mates for me."

Only do-gooders allowed on his evil courses. Hey, remember those times you attacked Elsie and could have killed her, and one was premeditated? No? Okay. So Arthur hears that Bromly or Tom or whoever intends to duel or murder Travilla.

"And they would, they'd set their bloodhounds on your track, and there'd
be no escape. As to the lady having been your fiancée--she never was; she
would not engage herself without my brother's consent, which you were not
able to obtain. And now you'd better take yourself off out of this
neighborhood, after such threats as you've made!"

"That means you intend to turn informer, eh?"

"It means nothing of the kind, unless I'm called up as a witness in court;
but you can't prowl about here long without being seen and arrested as a
suspicious character, an abolitionist, or some other sort of
scoundrel--which last you know you are," Arthur could not help adding in a
parenthesis. "So take my advice, and retreat while you can. Now out o' the
way, if you please, and let me pass."

Abolitionists! Evil! This is not the first time they are lumped in with threats to the peace, either. Jackson is dealt with:

Jackson sullenly stood aside, letting go the rein, and Arthur galloped

So much for his role in this story. On to... hm, what's next... THE RETURN OF BROMLY EGERTON!

Mr. Travilla galloped homeward by the longer route,
the moon, peering through the cloud curtains, looked down upon a dark
figure, standing behind a tree not many yards distant from the thicket
Elsie had besought her friend to shun. The man held a revolver in his
hand, ready cocked for instant use. His attitude was that of one
listening intently for some expected sound.

He had stood thus for hours, and was growing very weary. "Curse the
wretch!" he muttered, "does he court all night? How many hours have I been
here waiting for my chance for a shot at him? It's getting to be no joke,
hungry, cold, tired enough to lie down here on the ground. But I'll stick
it out, and shoot him down like a dog. He thinks to enjoy the prize he
snatched from me, but he'll find himself mistaken, or my name's n----"...

I'm not sure if that says what I think it says or not. She didn't censor it earlier.

...He sprang up and again placed himself in position to fire. But what had
become of the welcome sounds? Alas for his hoped-for revenge; they had
died away entirely. The horse and his rider must have taken some other
road. More low-breathed, bitter curses: yet perchance it was not the man
for whose life he thirsted. He would wait and hope on.

But the night waned: one after another the moon and stars set and day
began to break in the east; the birds waking in their nests overhead grew
clamorous with joy, yet their notes seemed to contain a warning tone for
him, bidding him begone ere the coming of the light hated by those whose
deeds are evil. Chilled by the frosty air, and stiff and sore from long
standing in a constrained position, he limped away, and disappeared in the
deeper shadows of the woods.

Good grief. He's lucky he's not literally neutered yet. But enough of all that, upcoming is THE RETURN OF BROMLY EGERTON!

Seated in her favorite arbor one lovely spring day, with thoughts thus
employed, and eyes gazing dreamily upon the beautiful landscape spread out
at her feet, she was startled from her reverie by some one suddenly
stepping in and boldly taking a seat by her side.

She turned her head. Could it be possible? Yes, it was indeed Tom Jackson,
handsomely dressed and looking, to a casual observer, the gentleman she
had once believed him to be. She recognized him instantly.

So she gets up to go, instead of screaming for help. How do people consistently find Elsie's favorite spots on Elsie's property? Does she carry around a ninety-foot flag? First he tries to woo her again. That crashes and burns, so:

"Not yet," he answered, tightening his grasp, and at the same time taking
a pistol from his pocket. "I swear you shall never marry that man: promise
me on your oath that you'll not, or--I'll shoot you through the heart; the
heart that's turned false to me. D'ye hear," and he held the muzzle of his
piece within a foot of her breast.

Every trace of color fled from her face, but she stood like a marble
statue, without speech or motion of a muscle, her eyes looking straight
into his with firm defiance.

Should've yelled for help a lot earlier. But Elsie never does, the little eggplant. It's now fine with me if she gets shot, so I'm just recordin', folks.

"Do you hear?" he repeated, in a tone of exasperation, "speak! promise
that you'll never marry Travilla, or I'll shoot you in three
minutes--shoot you down dead on the spot, if I swing for it before night."

"That will be as God pleases," she answered low and reverently; "you can
have no power at all against me except it be given you from above."

"I can't, hey? looks like it; I've only to touch the trigger here, and
your soul's out o' your body. Better promise than die."

Still she stood looking him unflinchingly in the eye; not a muscle moving,
no sign of fear except that deadly pallor.

"Well," lowering his piece, "you're a brave girl, and I haven't the heart
to do it," he exclaimed in admiration. "I'll give up that promise; on
condition that you make another--that you'll keep all this a secret for
twenty-four hours, so I can make my escape from the neighborhood before
they get after me with their bloodhounds."

"That I promise, if you will be gone at once."

There. He's done. He tried regain her hand; he failed. He tried to straight-up murder Elsie. He failed there too. There's no more threat he can be. After a lot of nothing with visits to people and the Wealthys, Elsie marries. It's not a Laura Ingalls ceremony, of course:

Many marked the rapt expression of her face,
and the clear and distinct though low tones of the sweet voice as she
pledged herself to "love, honor, and obey." Mr. Travilla's promise "to
love, honor, and cherish to life's end," was given no less earnestly and

This leads to a conversation later:

"But it wasn't left out," she said, shyly returning his fond caress; "I
promised and must keep my word."

"Ah, but if you can't, you can't; how will you obey when you get no

"So you don't mean to give me any?"

"No, indeed; I'm your husband, your friend, your protector, your lover,
but not your master."

"Now, Mr. Travilla----"

"I asked you to call me Edward."

"But it seems so disrespectful."

So Elsie's marriage disappoints her. Should've cleared that one up earlier.

But wait! We have reached the thrilling moment of THE RETURN OF BROMLY EGERTON! Elsie and her husband are sleeping sound. Elsie wakes her husband up when she hears someone trying to get in through the window.

He was wide-awake in an instant, raised himself and while listening
intently took a loaded revolver from under his pillow and cocked it ready
for use.

"Lie down, darling," he whispered; "it will be safer, and should the
villain get in, this will soon settle him, I think."

He had a loaded revolver under his pillow? How many people accidentally shoot themselves per year because they thought it would be a good idea? They show up in the news a lot. Also, wouldn't it be a better idea for her to hit the floor?

"Don't kill him, if you can save yourself without," she answered, in the
same low tone and with a shudder.

"No; if I could see, I should aim for his right arm."

A moment of silent waiting, the slight sound of the burglar's tool faintly
heard amid the noise of the storm, then the shutter flew open, a man
stepped in; at that instant a vivid flash of lightning showed the three to
each other, and the men fired simultaneously.

So the newlyweds are spared, whosis is hit, the overseer takes a bunch of slaves to look and follow the blood trail while Travilla stays behind to protect Elsie. Travilla is discovered to have had a lock of hair shot off. And the chase is on. I'm not touching on it much besides to mention the lone black character disguises himself or herself as a white person so we know that there are poor white folk that cannot be considered ladies, abolitionists are once more suspect of being the worst of the lot, Tom gets away, there's more mistreatment of slaves and casual racism, and I'm skimming. Elsie has a daughter named Elsie, making her the third in the chain. They all go to Italy, and war breaks out.

Oh, and:

They led a cheerful, quiet life in their Italian home, devoting themselves
to each other and their children; Mr. Dinsmore acting the part of tutor to
young Horace, as he had done to Elsie.

Her little ones were the pets and playthings of the entire household,
while she and their father found the sweetest joy in caring for them and
watching over and assisting the development of their natures, mental,
moral, and physical. Their children would never be left to the care and
training of servants, however faithful and devoted.

Take that, Chloe.

Anyway, was there going to be a war? Let's hear about this war from Daddy D, who can totally understand why you're compelled to beat a half-naked screaming woman bloody:

"The accursed lust of power on the part of a few selfish, unprincipled
men, may invent a cause, and for the carrying out of their own ambitious
schemes, they may lead the people to believe and act upon it. No one
proposes to interfere with our institution where it already exists--even
the Republican party has emphatically denied any such intention--yet the
hue and cry has been raised that slavery will be abolished by the incoming
administration, arms put into the hands of the blacks, and a servile
insurrection will bring untold horrors to the hearths and homes of the

Fun facts to know and share: the Articles of Confederation specifically prevented any of the Southern states from banning slavery.

"Oh, dreadful, dreadful!" cried Rose.

"But, my dear, there is really no such danger: the men (unscrupulous
politicians) do not believe it themselves; but they want power, and as
they could never succeed in getting the masses to rebel to compass their
selfish ends, they have invented this falsehood and are deceiving the
people with it."

It has nothing to do with slavery or secession, it has to do with power-hungry politicians terrorizing Southerners. Thanks, Daddy D.

One of the Elsies nearly dies but doesn't. Walter is in love with a Northern girl and there's a lot of suspense which side he'll pick, but since Finley likes him he goes South. I think it's just that he was with his family at the time he gormlessly was forced to declare a side. A lucky getaway for the girl.

"It did me good to see Uncle Joe's delight over the news," Mr. Travilla
smilingly remarked to his wife.

"Ah, you told him then?" she returned, with a keen interest and pleasure.

"Yes, and it threw him into a transport of joy. 'Master,' he said,
'I never thought to hear such news! I never expected to have
freedom come;' then sobering down, 'but, master, we've been praying for
it; we've been crying to the good Lord like the children of Israel when
they were in the house of bondage; thousands and thousands of us cry day and
night, and the Lord heard, and now the answer have come. Bless the Lord! Bless His holy name forever and ever.'

"'And what will you do with your liberty, Uncle Joe?' I asked; then he
looked half frightened. 'Master, you aren't going to send us off? we love you
and Miss Elsie and the children, an' we're getting almost too old to start out new for ourselves.'"

Ha! Those silly black people, not planning all their lives for an impossible dream and being startled when they get what they want! They must not have wanted it really... I think that's what Finley's getting at.

"Well, dear, I hope you assured him that he had nothing to fear on that

"Certainly; I told him they were free to go or stay as they liked, and as
long as they were with, or near us, we would see that they were made

...that... doesn't... look like paying them. Maybe they're getting too old to work, which isn't very likely since slaves were often worked to death and nothing has really changed here. So basically now that they are legally free, little literalist Elsie will not trouble herself to follow the law.

"Then he repeated, with great earnestness, that he loved us
all, and could never forget what you had done in restoring him to his
wife, and making them both so comfortable and happy."

"Yes, I think they have been happy with us; and probably it was the bitter
remembrance of the sufferings of his earlier life that made freedom seem
so precious a boon to him."

Systematic oppression: only bad when practiced by mean people. Got it. I guess that editorial is why we're seeing this in recap and not as it plays out. But we will watch Chloe say what Finley wants her to say:

Going into the nursery half an hour later, Elsie was grieved and surprised
to find Chloe sitting by the crib of the sleeping babe, crying and sobbing
as if her very heart would break, her head bowed upon her knees, and the
sobs half-smothered, lest they should disturb the child.

"Why, mammy dear, what is the matter?" she asked, going to her and laying
a hand tenderly on her shoulder.

Chloe slid to her knees, and taking the soft white hand in both of hers,
covered it with kisses and tears, while her whole frame shook with her
bitter weeping.

"Mammy, dear mammy, what is it?" Elsie asked in real alarm, quite
forgetting for the moment the news of the morning, which indeed she could
never have expected to cause such distress.

"I don't want freedom," sobbed the poor old creature at length,
"I love to belong to my darling young missis: Uncle Joe he sings and
jumps and praises the Lord, because freedom come, but your old mammy doesn't
want freedom; she can't bear to leave you, Miss Elsie, her blessed
darling child that she's been taking care of ever since she was born."

And that's your thank-you for liking Chloe. That's Chloe's reward for all her boundless compassion and unwavering love: she gets to play pro-slavery tract speaker and make us all feel bad that she has liberty. If you think Elsie will pay her back wages, you are out of your mind. Chloe is, of course, endlessly grateful to Elsie for keeping her on as an unpaid servant. It's probably a "know your place" sort of backpat from Finley. But it makes sense. The Dinsmores have had her working years. She owns no property. She and her husband would mostly have to rely on the earning power of Dinah.

What happens to Dinah? I'm honestly not sure.

There's more, of course, but I don't think anyone cares much. I read it and I barely remember who lives and who dies, although it will surprise no one that Bromly enlists on the Northern side.

I really think that's enough. Don't you?


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January 2012

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