Each story must have a beginning so I will start at almost the very beginning for me, but there are a few things you must first know about my family.
My father married his first wife for true love. He was in England, on his European Tour, when he first saw her. They were married two days later much to the chagrin of his family. She was the daughter of a baker, my father the son of an influential Virginian. The marriage produced a son, Slone, who is now in the service of Her Majesty's Navy; my brother Bryn, who is a year older than me; and myself Ariene. His first wife died on the first day of the New Year from consumption. It was quite a blow to my father, he returned to Virginia with Bryn and I. Jack was left with his maternal grandparents to grow up the proper Englishman.
The mother I remember most, his second wife, died close to my sixteenth birthday. They had Nathaniel, Sara, Cassandra, James, and a set of twins, Bella and Michael. She died after giving birth to Bella and Michael due to complications. When she died, Father decided to find us a good mother quickly. Not three days after she was put in the ground was the engagement announced.
I knew I was not going to make out so well in terms my new stepmother. Especially since my new stepmother already had a daughter, one who I knew quite well and still could not find any good qualities in. Even worse is that she is a Yankee and Father insists on bringing her here to Virginia although the animosity towards our northern neighbors is ever increasing. Patience Whipple was the teacher at the school in town for ten years. At thirty she decided to give all of this up in order to pursue my father, though she will never admit it. She jumped at the opportunity to marry my father and Stepmother's boots weren't even cold before Patience was sleeping on her side of the bed.
To make matters worse it seems I was deemed, or doomed (whichever you prefer), to put up with Moira Whipple. Moira possessed a talent of making everyone in her path feel as if they were dirt. I did not allow her to lord over me and I have a feeling that this was the real reason problems began to develop between us. Whenever she ordered one of our people do something they never listened, I was the lady of the house and only my orders were to be followed. Granted I was did order some things done for the purpose of making her angry, like having her ribbons sewn inside out on her new bonnet.
Patience decided to tutor us at home, though I don't believe Bryn and I needed it. We had just completed our correspondence course in Latin and knew the alphabet, could spell, read, write, and speak German and French. Arithmetic provided us with no problems, nor did history. We presented all this to her and she laughed and told us we knew nothing. I shall always recall the day that she attempted to teach us a bit of economics. She was having trouble explaining it in terms all could understand, so she finally came to the idea to describe it as the North playing the music and the South dancing to the tune. I took this to mean that we depended on the North for all of our supplies, which was partly true. I then proceeded to tell her that soon the South would play its own tune and the North would have to decide if they wanted to form an orchestra together or continue on in their old ways creating disharmonies.
I was whipped until my thighs bled for talking treason.
I suppose that is why I am here today, my treason, my loyalty to my state first then my country. I always had a wonderful seat on a horse, so that must have had something to do with it as well. Now that you know the actors I may begin my less than ordinary tale.
The time that followed the South firing on Sumter was quite an ordinary time for me, I still had to attend Patience's classes and tolerate Moira's abominable haughtiness. That was when Tally arrived unexpectedly during the middle of our lessons.
There are one or two things that may be said about Tally. First, Tally was a handsome, wealthy young man who was a staunch Southerner and best friend of my brother Bryn. Secondly, Moira had marked Tally out as hers and was at this time attempting to seduce him into a marriage that, of course, would be unhappy.
"What is it Tally?" I was happy to have an excuse to miss some of my lesson and stepped over the sill of the full-length window I was sitting by and out onto the porch.
"Ariene get in here right now! You have no business in politics or the greeting of guests here. I am the lady of the house," Patience scolded me from the window I had hopped out of in the most unladylike fashion.
"Too late m'am," Tally said trying to hold back a laugh, "Besides I would not want to interrupt you while teaching lessons. I'll just have Ariene take me up to Mr. Kennedy if that's alright with you."
"Of course, though Moira would be happy to escort you," Patience answered with a hasty glance toward her only daughter. Father was not very happy that Patience had not produced any new children in the past year.
"Oh no, I would not want to trouble her and seeing as I've already gotten Ariene into trouble I'll get her into a little more."
I heard my older brother snigger and disguise his laughs as a sudden bout of coughs. I could not help but wonder when Bryn would come to his senses and see that there was nothing between Tally and me. Bryn was convinced he was smitten with me, but I am not at all convinced. Tally and I have always been close.
"Go ahead up then," Patience said after giving my brother a reproachful look.
"What is it?" I asked again as we ascended the staircase to my father's study.
"Ariene, we're going to war, war against the North. Finally, the time we've waited for has come. If we secede that means in the future we can make our own decisions instead of the Northern majority making them for us," he had stopped on the stair and taken my hand.
"Yes, but war is terrible Tally," was the only answer I could find. Would this empty my house full of brothers and sisters? Tally would also join the army to fight for the cause he so believed in. I knew already I would not be allowed to contribute to the cause, a cause that I loved as much as Tally did.
"Ariene!" Tally's voice brought me back to him, "Ariene, you'll wait for me won't you? When I leave you'll wait for me, promise?"
I turned to look at Tally. He had changed from the boy I had always known to a completely different person. The boy I thought I knew was a stranger to me.
" You want me to wait for you?" my voice was strangled and sounded as if I was in a state of surprise, which was the complete truth.
"If the thought is disagreeable to you, then think of it no more," he seemed wounded by my answer and it stung me as much as him.
" Of course I'll wait for you. I had not realized that it was me you were paying you attentions to," I answered. Now, what I had said before about Tally and I being no more than friends is completely true, but that does not mean I did not wish for our relationship to mature. I had merely thought that Moira, with a much larger dowry and income per annum would prove more appealing to any young man, though her countenance may not. "Did you apply to my father yet?"
" No, but I believe he has guessed my sentiments, though it seems you did not," he smiled finally. I grinned back at him.