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Excerpt for The Promise by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

THE PROMISE

A Novel of Early America

BOOK THREE




KASEY MICHAELS



Praise for Kasey Michaels’ THE PROMISE


“Kasey Michaels is one of the top writers of early American romance novels, and her latest book, THE PROMISE, lives up to the book’s title by delivering a great historical romance. The story line is fabulously written, the lead characters are very interesting protagonists and the supporting players add the right touch to this period piece. Ms. Michaels is one of the best writers of historical romance today.”

—Top Reviewer, Harriet Klausner


Copyright 1997 by Kathryn Seidick

Electronic Edition Copyright 2018: Kathryn A. Seidick

EBook published by Kathryn A. Seidick at Smashwords, 2018

Cover art by Tammy Seidick Design,

EBook Design by A Thirsty Mind Book Design, 2018

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photography, recording or any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the author.


To my daughter Megan,

who insisted.

Happy now?

I love you, sweetheart.


Table of Contents


Titles by Kasey Michaels

Prologue

Prologue

Book One - The Paradox

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Book Two - The Challenge

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Book Three - The Revelation

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Epilogue - The Vow

Epilogue

Afterword

Titles by Kasey Michaels

About the Author

TITLES BY
KASEY MICHAELS

Alphabet” Regency Romances

The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane

The Playful Lady Penelope

The Haunted Miss Hampshire

The Wagered Miss Winslow

The Belligerent Miss Boynton

The Lurid Lady Lockport

The Rambunctious Lady Royston

The Mischievous Miss Murphy

Moonlight Masquerade

A Difficult Disguise

The Savage Miss Saxon

The Somerville Farce

Nine Brides and One Witch: A Regency Novella Duo

Historical Regency Romances

A Masquerade in the Moonlight (Enterprising Ladies)

Indiscreet (Enterprising Ladies)

Escapade (Enterprising Ladies)

The Legacy of the Rose

Come Near Me

Out of the Blue (A Time Travel)

Role of a Lifetime (A Time Travel Novella)

Waiting for You (Love in the Regency, Book 1)

Someone to Love (Love in the Regency, Book 2)

Then Comes Marriage (Love in the Regency, Book 3)

Just Good Clean Fun Regency Romances

The Straight-Laced Duke Selbourne;

The Just Good Clean Fun version of Indiscreet

The Bedeviled Viscount Brockton;

The Just Good Clean Fun version of Escapade

The Dangerous Mister Donovan;

The Just Good Clean Fun version of A Masquerade in the Moonlight

Historical Early-American Romances

The Homecoming

The Untamed

The Promise

Contemporary Romances

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You (D&S Security Series)

Too Good To Be True (D&S Security Series)

Love To Love You Baby (The Brothers Trehan Series)

Be My Baby Tonight (The Brothers Trehan Series)

This Must Be Love (Summer Lovin’ Series)

This Can’t Be Love (Summer Lovin’ Series)

Stuck in Shangri-La (The Trouble With Men Series)

Everything’s Coming Up Rosie (The Trouble With Men Series)

Find Kasey’s books here!



Long ago, the ancient Lenape

came to the evergreen land...

—The Wallam Olum

(Red Record)

Oral history of the

Lenni Lenape


PROLOGUE

1793

The Promise

Even God cannot change the past.

—Agathon

Prologue


Thus live in the world rather as a spectator of

mankind than as one of the species.

—Joseph Addison



When Daniel Cassidy Crown entered a ballroom, invariably conversation stopped, then began again quickly, almost nervously, as he stood in the doorway and employed that easy smile which only rarely reached his heavy-lidded, stormswept dark eyes.

He was tall, Daniel Crown was, taller than most, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist above long, straight legs. And he was dark. Dark eyes, dark hair, dark past. Mysteriously dark. Arrogantly dark. Intriguingly dark. And handsome as sin. A living, breathing invitation to sin, that was Daniel Crown. A good-looking, marvelously titillating, mouth-watering, definitely dangerous invitation to sin.

All sorts of sin.

Females, young impressionable debutantes as well as dashing matrons, believed there was a secret torment burning in his soul and longed to explore the depths of his unknown passions. To a woman, they all ached to be that one very special woman who might someday unleash those passions, touch his heart.

Men, especially young, rather jealous men, were intrigued in a much different way than their female counterparts. They sensed the leashed power in Daniel Crown, the darkness in him, and feared his intensity even as they envied his rapier wit, his physical abilities, his cool self-assurance. They courted him because it would be fruitless to oppose him. They called him their friend, yet, as with the women of London, they were aware that they did not really know him.

No one dared.

It wasn’t enough to show the world a handsome appearance, a rapier wit, a hint of mystery, a dollop of hidden sadness; and Daniel Crown—who was totally unaware of his effect on his fellow creatures—had not done anything to create his quite provocative reputation among the members of the ton. Not consciously. However, one vision of his banked fires bursting into flame early in his first season, when a supercilious young leader of society dared to insult Daniel’s “heathen” Lenni Lenape father and was promptly knocked down and challenged to a duel, had proved to be enough to keep a smart enemy well hidden behind a smiling face.

For society had learned quickly that there was no winning against Daniel Crown. There was no victory to be found in verbal sparring, no thrill in whispered insults, no reward in sly jokes about the dark, savage Crown, the half-breed, adopted son of the marquess of Playden. No, there was only the possibility of discovery, and swift, total annihilation—all of which were feared even more than an almost sure death on the dueling ground.

After the disgrace and removal of that one supposedly all-powerful enemy three years ago, there were none in the ton who had ever again openly risked a similar fate. After all, hadn’t Addison Bainbridge’s destruction been lesson enough for them? And where was Bainbridge, society’s once acknowledged leader, now? In America, that’s where—probably still figuratively nursing his wounds and wondering what had happened to him.

Yes, it was much easier, and safer, to be Daniel Crown’s friend. A man could enjoy him as they played at cards, rode hell-bent for leather across country, drank themselves beneath the table in low dives, or talked the night away, discussing the merits of a good wine, a loose woman, or the poetry of John Milton.

So that was Daniel Crown. Adopted half-breed son of a marquess. Privy to one of the finest fortunes in all England. Handsome. Intelligent. Boon companion. Welcomed into society. The envy of many, the dream of more. All in all, Daniel Crown’s reputation, his physical perfection, his connection to the marquess of Playden, would seem enough to make any young man happy.

All of which did nothing to explain his dark scowl when his younger brother, Michael Crown, heir to his father’s title, ran him down in the card room of Lady Cornwallis’s town house, pulling on his arm, begging him for a few minutes alone.

Daniel gently removed the young man’s hands from his finely tailored sky blue jacket. “There you go again, Michael, creasing my satins with your clutching paws. And why so serious? What is it?” he then asked as he steered the younger man out onto the balcony, away from interested ears, for he had a fairly good idea what was bothering his brother. “You haven’t outrun your allowance, have you?”

Michael colored beneath his liberally powdered hair. “Don’t tease, brother. I’ve never been so foolish, and you well know it. Leave that to our idiot sibling Joseph, who has discovered the myriad joys and pitfalls of cockfighting this past week. He’ll be rusticating well before June, hiding from duns back in Sussex, if he keeps it up. No, this isn’t about me. This is about you. Mama tells me you’re sailing to America next week on one of Uncle Dominick’s ships. Why? And why now, before the season is even officially underway? Say it isn’t so, Daniel! And, if it is—say I can go with you. Mama will listen to you. She always does.”

Daniel looked at his brother, younger than he by less than two years, but so very much younger in experience. Michael had been little more than a toddler in leading-strings when Brighid and Philip Crown had packed up and left New Eden, departing from their sprawling estate of Enolowin in the Pennsylvania colony before the rebellion could reach them, returning to the safety of Playden Court and to the title of marquess that awaited Philip upon the death of his miserable, unloved, and unloving father.

“How old were you, Michael, when we left New Eden? Not quite six?” Daniel asked now, keeping his hand on the younger man’s elbow as they went down the steps and into Lady Cornwallis’s garden. “What do you remember of Enolowin?”

“Less than I should, I imagine,” Michael said, frowning. “I remember a large stone house, a multitude of tall trees, and an old Indian woman who talked gibberish as she bounced me on her knee—damn, she didn’t have any teeth, did she? And there was a man. Another Indian. Old and gray. Lokwelend, wasn’t it? But he was yours, as I recall, not mine. Joseph remembers even less. I asked him one time, and all he could tell me about was the trip home and that storm we encountered. Poor Mama, being pregnant with Johanna and all. It wasn’t a good crossing. I suppose you remember more? Tell me.”

Daniel sighed, shaking his head. How could he explain to Michael, explain what even he didn’t understand? His memories of Enolowin were still clear, etched into his brain. He remembered every room of that wonderful house, every path he had walked with the old Lenape, Lokwelend, the man he had called Grandfather. And yet, there were times when he felt as if he had forgotten everything of real importance.

He looked at his brother. “You have no real urge to return then, do you, halfling?”

Michael colored again. “Don’t call me that, Daniel. I’m not that much younger than you, for all you’ve been walking around looking as if you wear the worries of the world on your shoulders these past few years, ever since you reached your majority, now that I think on it. And, no, I’ll admit that I see no reason to visit the place, except to accompany you. America’s probably going to side with the French in this mess we’ll soon be facing, you know. Rebels are rebels, I suppose. And I also suppose they both think they have good reasons for what they did, what they’re doing. But that don’t make me like them any the better. You’d best be careful, brother. What’s to say the Americans won’t set up their own guillotine and slice off the heads of any Englishmen they might find wandering about.”

“They taught you this drivel at school, Michael? Now, why do I doubt that?” Daniel stopped on the path and looked up into the night sky. Lokwelend had taught him about the sky, the clouds, the positions of the stars. He had forgotten nearly everything but the fact there had been lessons, so had filled in that lack from his tutors. If something had been important to his grandfather, it was important to him. “I suggest a closed carriage if you’re doing any more carousing after this deadly dull party. We’ll have rain before morning.”

“Devil take the weather! And devil take all this talk about you leaving us. You know that Mama has been crying most of the day, don’t you—and Papa was locked in his study when I left, fiddling with estate work, he says, but I know better. I believe neither of them thinks we’ll ever see you again.” He turned and grabbed onto Daniel’s forearm with both hands. “Don’t go, Daniel, please. There’s nothing for you there. We’re your family. We’ve always been your family. You’re our brother in everything but blood.”

“I’m sorry, Michael. I really am. But I have to do this.” Daniel stepped back and, with a wave of his arm, indicted all of London. “This is a vacuum, Michael. I cannot exist here. I can’t breathe here. Powdered, be-wigged, rigged out in satins and jewels. Spending the day waiting for the evening and the evening searching for amusement. Playden Court is yours, Michael, not mine. Enolowin is mine. Papa has made me a bargain. If I live there for a year, work the land, the estate remains mine, as it is now. If I live out that year and want to come back to England, we’ll sell Enolowin to Uncle Dominick and use the proceeds to buy me my own land in Sussex. I’m a Crown by name, little brother, not by birth. I’m not entitled to take anything from you and Joseph and Johanna. I need to make my own way.”

And I need to know who I am. What I am. What I will become. But he didn’t say these words, for Michael couldn’t understand. Not when he himself didn’t understand. All Daniel knew was that he wasn’t happy. He wasn’t settled. He didn’t belong; trapped in England, trapped inside his stylishly clad half-breed body whose mind told him he was a civilized white man—but whose tortured soul cried out for the more earthy yet mystical life of the Lenni Lenape. His father’s people.

“I’ve got to go, Michael,” he said at last, turning back toward the well-lit house and the sound of violin music being sawed out by an energetic if not talented lot of musicians. “If you can risk a bit of poetic nonsense—I believe I won’t truly know myself until I see where I came from.”

“But you’ll come back to us,” Michael pleaded. “You will come back to us, Daniel.”

Daniel smiled, giving his brother’s shoulders a quick squeeze. “Of course I’ll visit. I’m not going out of your life forever.”

“No? Then where do you think you’re going?”

The smile that had not quite reached Daniel’s eyes slipped away, to be replaced by the dark look that obscured his deep-running emotions. “I don’t know, Michael. Could I possibly be going home?”

BOOK ONE

The Paradox

How happy those whose walls already rise.

—Virgil

Chapter 1


Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.

But to be young was very heaven!

—William Wordsworth



New Eden,

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

1793

There was a smell to late spring that was unequaled by any other season. The smell of rich, turned fields; the soft breeze that carried the perfume of wildflowers. The clean fragrance of growing things. And in the morning, with the dew still wet on the grass—ah, then it was most wonderful of all!

Especially when one was racing that summer breeze; cutting through it on the strong back of Freedom’s Lady, Brianna Cassidy Crown’s huge bay mare. The horse’s long mane and tail both flew in that part natural, part speed-generated breeze, as did Brianna Crown’s own long chestnut curls. Riding with her knees lightly controlling, her hands loose, yet steady on the reins, her head bowed low over the mare’s ears, Brianna watched the ground flying by beneath her, yet kept one emerald green eye on the horizon that rapidly approached, the fence that would fall away beneath Freedom’s Lady’s hooves and take them both onto Enolowin land.

Her land. Or so she had always seen it. Until last night.

Brianna’s hands tightened on the reins as she glowered into the distance, remembering her father’s words of the previous evening, when he had taken her into his private study to discuss something with her.

She dreaded these discussions, for they never boded well for her. Lectures was a better word for those uncomfortable interviews during which her papa would talk and she would listen. Quietly. Respectfully. Agreeably. And then escape the study to go do exactly what she pleased!

Her papa knew this, knew he was talking to a pleasant, smiling young woman whose iron will, if not exceeding that of her mother’s, certainly matched it. But they both kept up the pretense, both played the small game that seemed to satisfy her mother, who had long ago learned that attempting to personally reason with Brianna was about as fruitful an exercise as trying to hold back the wind.

But Bryna Crown would order a conference, and her husband would obey. Brianna would trail into the study, dutifully listen to every word, every suggestion, every warning—and everyone would be happy again.

Her older brothers, all four of them, had seen their own share of discussions in their youth but, Brianna was sure, if they had counted them all up and totaled them, they wouldn’t come within a mile of the talks she had been forced to endure. Not even if her sister Felicia’s rare trips to Papa’s study were added into the figure.

Of course, Felicia had been a dream of a child; quiet, biddable never a bother—and since she was long married and living in Virginia with her gentleman farmer husband, that left only Brianna to suffer the tender mercies of her mother’s notion of the correct behavior of a proper young lady.

Being the youngest of a family was simply not fair, that’s what it wasn’t, Brianna had long since decided. And, with her brothers gone to sea for the summer, and Felicia managing her own household, her parents seemed to have nothing better to do with their time than to fill it by doing their best to bring their youngest, their baby, up to snuff.

Which explained Brianna’s most recent trip to Dominick Crown’s oak-lined study. Which explained his lecture on the folly of wearing her brother’s cast-off breeches and riding Freedom’s Lady neck-or-nothing all over the countryside. Which explained why she had been told, in no uncertain terms, that—now that her cousin Daniel Cassidy Crown was about to arrive to tend to the Enolowin estate—she was no longer to race helter-skelter all over the fields as if that land were her own property.

Which, alas, also explained why Brianna Crown, after listening to this latest lecture and agreeing with her papa’s every word, was out and about early, clad in her brother Rory’s old white shirt and fawn breeches, riding astride Freedom’s Lady as the mare took the five-bar fence with ease and began racing across a fallow field on her way to visit Winifred and Otto Bing, who were caretakers for the long-empty estate house.

The chimneys of Enolowin appeared above the treetops as she slowed Freedom’s Lady to a walk before entering the tree line that separated the fields from the more private grounds, and she smiled as she caught the aroma of baking bread. Winifred always baked on a Friday. She did her washing on Monday, her ironing on Tuesday, her cleaning on the following days—Wednesday “up” and Thursday “down”—and her baking on Friday. Potato bread. Small white loaves stuffed with raisins or currants. Lovely fat buns drizzled with sweet white icing. And, if Brianna was very lucky, a wet-bottomed shoofly pie with buttery crumbs on top for her very own.

Her mouth already watering, for she had run off before breakfast, before her mother could espy her in Rory’s breeches and send her back to her room to change, Brianna guided Freedom’s Lady through the stand of trees and out onto the sweeping, well-scythed lawns—to see three smart traveling coaches lined up in the circular drive.

“Well, would you look at that mass of grandeur, Lady,” she muttered under her breath as her heart sank to her toes, knowing that her cousin had arrived. And he had arrived in some style, she was forced to acknowledge, watching as a half-dozen servants she didn’t recognize busied themselves unloading the three coaches and carrying box after box inside the fieldstone house. “So, he’s here. Cousin Daniel. Sweet Heaven protect us, Lady. I wager he wears red-heeled shoes...and minces.”

Deciding to investigate, and uncaring that her mother would be mortified to see her daughter approaching Enolowin looking more like a stable boy than a well-bred young lady of means, Brianna urged her mount forward, riding straight up the drive, fully intending to be polite, and welcoming—and then wheedle permission to ride Enolowin’s fields out of the English dandy before he could summon up a way to deny her.

She had kicked her feet free of the stirrups and was just levering her right leg over Lady’s head—for she dismounted Lenape style, gracefully jumping to the ground—when a pure white stallion came galloping around the comer of the house.

After that, things happened quickly. Freedom’s Lady, always an amorous sort, lifted her head, aware of the stallion’s presence, and seemingly forgetful of her mistress’s momentarily precarious position on her back.

The stallion was pulled to a plunging, dancing halt by its rider, not six feet from disaster.

Freedom’s Lady swiveled in place, then lifted her front legs and pawed at the air.

And Brianna Cassidy Crown, who above all things prided herself on her horsemanship, landed bottom down in the gravel drive, her legs sprawled out in front of her and her wind gone, knocked straight out of her. She sat there, dazed.

“You—boy! Are you all right?”

The voice was deep, and cultured, and definitely British. And definitely laced with humor at Brianna’s expense. And, if she could only catch her breath—and stop those silly blue stars from circling around her head—she’d give the man a piece of her mind! “Boy,” indeed! It was one thing that the rider had no brains. Did the fellow also have no eyes in his head?

But all she could do was sit there, feeling foolish, trying to make her mind order her body to breathe, for heaven’s sake, and stare up at the man who, she decided with a fatalistic sinking of her heart, surely had to be her adopted cousin.

Lord, but he was a handsome specimen! Tall—she could see this clearly, as he had dismounted to stand in front of her—with thick black hair casually tied back at his nape, a pair of devil dark eyes, and a distinctive, hawkish face that shone with intelligence and humor. The humor, of course, was all directed at her and her predicament, a circumstance that precluded Brianna from lingering long on her cousin’s attributes and urged her to center on the fact that she didn’t want the man here, probably would not like him very much, and wished he would go away and leave her alone to suffocate.

“Wait a moment, you’re no boy, are you?” Daniel Cassidy Crown exclaimed, bending over and putting out a hand to her, offering his assistance. “Here, let me haul you up on your feet. Your breath will come back soon enough. Don’t fight it.”

“I’m... not... fighting...it,” Brianna gasped out, the stars circling her skull gratefully fading as she swayed on her feet and took a few short, painful breaths. “But...I’d like...to see...your horse gelded.”

“Never blame the horseflesh for your own inabilities, young lady,” Daniel responded, dusting her off with more energy than concern for her possibly broken bones, Brianna thought nastily, knowing her anger came from her embarrassment at having been unseated like a raw novice. His blithe condemnation of her expertise only doubled that anger.

“But I will apologize, if that soothes your ruffled feathers at all,” he went on, obviously not noticing, or caring, that she was not merely chagrined but mad as fire. “Leaving us with one question, I suppose. Delighted as I am to make your acquaintance, what are you doing on my land?”

Brianna wrinkled her nose, already anticipating the tongue-lashing she was bound to receive from her mother when she returned to Pleasant Hill. “Then you are him, aren’t you?” she asked dully, doing her best not to be overly impressed by her cousin’s handsome, fairly exotic face. “Daniel Cassidy Crown? Cousin Philip and Brighid’s adopted son?”

“Cousin Philip?” Daniel looked blank for a moment, and then smiled broadly. “My God, you must be Brianna! The unexpected jewel in the Crown family, I believe your mother called you when she found out she was increasing again. I don’t believe it! I helped deliver you, you know, no more than a month before we left for England. Uncle Dominick was away in Philadelphia, playing at rebel politician, and Mama and I were the only family handy when you decided to come into the world at midnight in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, as I recall. I was very young, and your arrival made quite an impression, you understand. A few pains, a bit of bother, and then there you were—all red-faced, clench-fisted, and squalling.”

He paused a moment, then added, still smiling “And, by the look of things, the years haven’t served to change you much.”

“How very droll, I’m sure. I, of course, have no recollection of the matter,” Brianna answered tightly, turning to mount her mare before her cousin could see the blood rushing into her cheeks at his description of her birth—and his joke at her expense. On Freedom’s Lady’s back once more, she looked down at Daniel Crown—not very far down, for he was extremely tall—and counted to ten, attempting to control her temper.

She smiled politely and summoned up all the training her mother had instilled in her, saying, “It has been a delight, truly, to see you again, cousin. But I fear I must leave now to return to Pleasant Hill and inform my parents of your arrival. You will drive over for dinner this evening, I assume? We dine at six. Otto Bing, your caretaker, can be counted upon to give you our direction. My parents doubtless will be delighted to see you.”

Daniel reached out and took hold of Freedom’s Lady’s bridle. “Yes, I imagine they will, as I’ll be pleased to see them again. Tell me—do they allow you at table? Or are you still in the nursery?’

The man was deliberately goading her, as if he knew just where to stick his pins in order to prick her temper beyond its limits. Brianna’s tongue would soon bleed, in fact, if she had to bite it any harder. “La,” she fairly trilled, hating herself, “I’m less than a month away from becoming eighteen, cousin, with my nursery days far behind me. So, yes, I will be at table tonight. Why, I may recall how to use the silver and even refrain from spitting in my soup. You might, in fact, be surprised at my accomplishments since last you saw me.”

He looked her up and down as she sat astride the horse, and for the first time in her life she felt uncomfortable under a man’s gaze; uncomfortably aware of the tightness of her breeches, the way they hugged her thighs, her calves. “I am already surprised, Brianna. And fairly impressed. Until this evening, then?”

Her mouth was so dry she couldn’t speak, and so she only nodded her agreement. Then, digging her heels into Freedom’s Lady’s flanks as she pulled on the reins, she and the mare wheeled about smartly and broke into an immediate gallop, heading away from Enolowin, from that great white stallion, from Daniel Cassidy Crown—just as fast as the horse could move.

Which was fairly self-defeating for them both, Brianna concluded nervously, as she and the mare, it seemed, were both almost painfully aware that they were suddenly and most foolishly looking forward to the dance and whirl of the mating season.


* * *


Daniel was still looking in the direction Brianna had gone, his expression thoughtful and not a little troubled, when his attention was caught by the approach of Finn, his valet.

“We’ve got most everything inside now, sir, no thanks to Skelton, that bloody scalpeen, who says he’s a horse trainer, not a servant, salvation seize his soul. Horse trainer, is it? A bloody groom he was back in Sussex—and still is, I say. All the world would not make a racehorse of a jackass, don’t you know. Getting more uppity by the day, Skelton is, and ought be taken down a peg or two, which I’d do myself, if it weren’t for this leg o’mine,” Finn groused long-windedly as he came to stand beside Daniel, pulling up his breeches as he dragged his stiff left leg along with him. He sniffed, testing the air, then pronounced, “A fine, fine bit heaven yer gots here, sir. Mighty fine. We’re riding on the pig’s back now, as my sainted, mother used to say.”

“Indeed, yes,” Daniel said, taking one last admiring look toward the tree line and Brianna’s departing figure. “And climbing closer to paradise by the moment,” he added, draping an arm around the much smaller man’s thin shoulders and turning him toward the front steps. “Do you think you can find time to press my bottle green frock coat? I feel a sudden need to impress my relatives with some fine English elegance.”

The one-time jockey sniffed again. Rather a snort, actually. “Jaybird naked, you’d impress them straight out of their stockin’s, sir, and no doubt. They only be Americans, after all.”

“And my adopted kin, Finn,” Daniel reminded him as they walked into the foyer, to stand beneath the large chandelier that looked very much like the grand piece in the entrance hall at Playden Court, which probably was what his adoptive father had intended when he’d built Enolowin so long ago. “They, more than anyone, know who I really am, how I came to be here at all. I’m a half-breed, Finn, if you’ll remember. But, for tonight at least, I plan to be as English as the king.”

“Weren’t he German, sir?” Finn inquired cheekily, hoisting his breeches yet again. He’d been laid low with a fierce bout of seasickness for their entire crossing, and had lost valuable pounds from his already thin frame. “Aren’t the lot of those fat Georgie-porgies German? I’m Irish to me toes and yet still closer to English than that sauerkraut-stinkin’ bunch, don’t you know.”

“You’re a brave man, Finn, making those statements only a scant three thousand miles away from anyone who’d take umbrage hearing them.”

“Afraid of a bunch o’Bugs, sir? Me? Hardly!”

“Obviously, or you wouldn’t dare to call my fellow countrymen by such a name. Although I can think of a few who deserve it.” Daniel looked to his right and the entrance to the drawing room, then reconsidered attempting to wade through the white cotton shrouds that covered every stick of furniture and, instead, followed his nose to the back of the house through the door that led to the servant area and the kitchens, Finn in his wake.

“Hello—Mrs. Bing?” He called out, treading carefully, for Brighid Crown had taught her adopted son that even the master of the house would be wise to tread politely in the housekeeper’s domain. “Would it be possible to have a bite of whatever is responsible for that wonderful aroma?”

A woman with a most prodigious derriere, quite possibly the size of a modest barn door, turned away from the dry sink and smiled a welcome as she ran a hand through the iron gray hair she wore scraped back into a small, tight bun. Winifred Bing was as round as she was tall, with rosy cheeks and twinkling brown eyes that told of a good humor, just as her white apron-girdled girth boasted of the superiority of her cooking.

“Ach, now, Mr. Crown,” she said, her German accent thick as newly churned butter, and her voice moving up and down the scale, turning her words into more of a lilting song than just simple speech. “I’ll be happy to serve you anything you like, seeing as how that’s what I’ve been waiting these nearly twenty years to do. Feeding my Otto just ain’t the joy it was our first thirty years together. His leg’s as hollow as it’s skinny, and he’d eat dirt if my bread was all. Come, at the table sit, and I’ll slice you a bit of my funeral pie—not that the church bell has rung for a single soul in New Eden this past year. You, too, Mr. Finn. Ei-yi-yi! You look like you need some fattening up or else a good pair of suspenders to keep those breeches offen the floor and my eyes in my head.”

“I wouldn’t mind it, you know, if you were to slide the kettle on for a bit of tea? And the name’s Finn, Mrs. Bing,” the valet grumbled, first pulling out a chair for his employer, and then sitting down himself. “No mister about me. None at all. Just Finn.”

“Ach! You’re a touchy one, aren’t you?” Mrs. Bing said, smiling as she put huge slices of pie in front of both men. Or at least that’s what she called whatever it was she was serving. Daniel looked at the triangular-shaped wedge of pastry filled with plump brown raisins—a flaky crust holding a full battalion of raisins swimming in dark molasses—and eyed Finn, watching to see if he dared to hazard a taste.

Finn did. He scooped up some of the pie with the spoon Mrs. Bing gave him and, taking a deep breath, shoveled it into his mouth. He closed his lips around the portion, shifted the stuff around in his mouth, then swallowed. And then he smiled. “Oh, sir, I think it’s in love I am. Truly! Beats kidney pie all hollow, I swear. Now I understand the name, sir. Looks like hell, tastes like heaven.”

Finn was right. By the time Daniel was finished with his second slice of the sweet pie, washed down with a large tumbler of cold, fresh milk, he, too, was halfway in love with Mrs. Bing, a woman who stood on no formality, had no notion of how he had been treated in England as the son of a rich, titled gentleman, and seemed to harbor not a single reservation about his Lenni Lenape blood.

In fact, Mrs. Bing possessed no guile at all. And, certainly, no secrets. By the time he and Finn had quit the kitchens, they had learned that Winifred and Otto Bing, childless—“but not by choice or lack of trying, mind you”—had been expressly retained by Mr. Dominick Crown to take care of Enolowin in the absence of its owner; and they had spent the past eighteen years doing just that. Winifred minded the house, and Otto minded the acreage. “Or what he can see of it from that rocker on the side porch,” Mrs. Bing had explained with a wink directed at Finn. “Lazy as a hound in the August heat, Otto is, but a good man for all that. And a passable lover,” she added, and the Irishman had choked so on his tea that some of it shot out his pointed nose.

“Yes, sir, it’s liking it here I’m goin’ to be,” Finn said confidently as he stood on the front porch once more and patted his stomach. “And we’re having a joint of beef big as Mrs. Bing’s tender heart for dinner. With potatoes cooked in their own brown skin. She told me so herself.”

He took a deep breath of fresh air, snorting it up his nostrils the way another man would take snuff. “If my lovin’ mama could see me now she’d think her only son has died and gone to live with the angels, that’s what.”

Daniel deliberately hid his smile. “And what would that lovely lady think if she could see you standing over an iron hot from the stove, pressing the lace ruffles on my shirt? On all my shirts?”

Finn screwed up his face, wincing. “You’re a hard man, Mr. Crown. A hard man. I’ll be toddlin’ of now, I suppose.”

“I suppose,” Daniel answered with a grin as he walked down the few steps to the gravel drive, then looked to his left—to the sight of the cliff that loomed in the distance. Lenape Cliff. The cliff was an uninspiring, looming mass of dark gray, jagged slate and limestone. But part of the cliff face had broken away in a storm long ago, revealing the harsh, craggy features of a proud, hawk-nosed Indian who looked out over the valley, over Enolowin, guarding it. Just as Enolowin, in the language of the Lenni Lenape, meant “standing guard.”

Pematalli was buried in the rocky hillside that crested Lenape Cliff. Pematalli, Lokwelend’s only son, who had perished in the last Lenape raid on New Eden a good thirty years ago. His grave was unmarked, as Lokwelend had wanted it. Pematalli translated to mean “always there,” and Lokwelend had said that his son needed no monument to be remembered, that—because of Pematalli—the Lenape presence in New Eden would never be forgotten by the White Man who had displaced his people.

The storm that had come to New Eden shortly after Pematalli’s burial—the lightning strike that had blasted away the rock revealing Pematalli’s face—had seemed to justify Lokwelend’s belief in his son’s place in the memory of generations to come, his somber image a lingering nudge to their consciousness, reminding them of another time, of another proud race that had once walked this land.

Pematalli had certainly seemed alive to Daniel when he had been a young boy, sitting across a campfire from Lokwelend a lifetime ago, listening to the story of how Philip Crown, Daniel’s adoptive father, had been the one to give Pematalli a warrior’s death, then be adopted as Lokwelend’s new son. It had all sounded so right, almost romantic, poetic and heroic, until Daniel had run to Philip and asked him to tell him more, tell him how the brave young Indian had died. That had been Daniel’s first lesson in the futility of war. His second lesson had been one in hatred, as Philip had explained that Lokwelend had not marked his son’s grave because there were still those in New Eden who would then dig it up and desecrate Pematalli’s body.

And now Lokwelend rested near his son. Lokwelend, and also Lapawin, Daniel’s grandmother—the wonderful old crone Michael had remembered, yet forgotten. Only Kolachuisen remained. Kolachuisen, Lokwelend’s daughter, who now called herself Cora, and who had married Lucas Deems, Uncle Dominick’s butler.

Would Cora remember him? She had called him “little brother” when he had lived at Enolowin, when he had visited Pleasant Hill to play with the Crown children. It seemed all so long ago—when he had been young, and unimpressed with the complexities of life, the tangled history of love and hate and tragedy that had led to his own presence in this world.

No one was as they seemed. Dominick Crown was really Lord Dominick, and Philip’s half-uncle—a man who had turned his back on England, on his own title, and fought against his native country in the rebellion that had split the family for nearly a decade.

Bryna Crown, Dominick’s wife and Brighid’s cousin, had stubbornly persisted in writing letters to England after the war ended, begging her husband and Philip to put aside their political differences and remember that they were family, that they loved each other and would always love each other. With Brighid’s help, Bryna had finally arranged for the men to meet in Sussex. Had it been during that wonderful visit, with memories of Pleasant Hill and Enolowin brought home to him by Dominick and Bryna’s presence, that Daniel had felt the initial hint of uneasiness, his first longings to return to Pennsylvania, to visit the grave of his mentor, Lokwelend?

For Lokwelend had been his grandfather in everything but blood. He had taken the young Daniel into the woods, taught him the ways of the Lenape, told him marvelous stories about the travels his people had made, their illustrious history, his own heritage.

Daniel had spent his days in a deer skin loinclout, his skin made brown as a berry by both his father’s blood and the summer sun, racing through the dense woods, communing with the spirits of his ancestors, and his evenings at table with his adoptive family, buttoned and buckled and starched, listening to the arguments against the colonies breaking away from English rule, English protection.

His adoptive family. Philip Crown, marquess of Playden, had come to New Eden as a young man to broaden his horizons. What he found was a home and a wife—and a new life he always knew could only be a temporary respite from his true duties in England. Brighid Cassidy Crown, her family killed in the first Lenape massacre, had been a captive of the Indians for five long years. She had risked everything, even her own hope of happiness, to protect the half-breed infant boy, Tasukamend, entrusted to her care by the dying Johanna Gerlach, her fellow captive.

Tasukamend. That had been Daniel’s name.

The Blameless One. The son of Johanna Gerlach and her Lenape husband, Wulapen. A child born to a dead father and a soon-to-die mother, left in the care of a young white woman and an old Indian widow. Until he had been taken to New Eden along with Brighid and Lapawin after the Lenapes’ treaty with the English. Until he had traveled to Sussex before Philip could be branded a Tory scum by the residents of New Eden, who had once welcomed him as their friend. Until he had been placed in the care of an English tutor, sent to English schools, taken his place in English society.

Until the call of his homeland could no longer be denied.

Daniel blinked away unexpected tears as he continued to stare at the image of the Indian in the cliff face. The face of Pematalli—always there, standing guard over Enolowin. Looking down on Daniel now, in hope, in question—in censure?

Tomorrow, Daniel promised silently. Tomorrow he would take his horse and travel the well-remembered path that led to the top of the cliff, to Lokwelend’s and Lapawin’s well-marked graves, to Pematalli’s eternal home.

Tomorrow, he would begin to ask the questions in his heart that had brought him here. Brought him home, if this truly was to be his home.

But, for tonight, he would be Daniel Cassidy Crown, Englishman. And he would dine at Pleasant Hill in all his English finery, seated across the table from the hauntingly beautiful Brianna Cassidy Crown, who was his sacrosanct, untouchable cousin—yet not of his blood.

Such a strange family.

Chapter 2


Don’t go with your fingers in your mouth.

—Irish Saying



Still don’t see the reason behind all these ditch dull fabrics and colors, sir, and that’s a fact,” Finn said, giving a final brush to the shoulders of Daniel’s bottle green frock coat as his master stood in front of the mirror in the main bedchamber of Enolowin, inspecting himself for flaws. “I mean, look at you—not that you don’t look as if you’ve been melted into this here coat and all. But there’s no flash, no dash, don’t you know. Why you left your lovely satins behind in London for those two babies to fight over is beyond me.”

“Michael and Joseph will need wigs and satins if they’re to go to balls put on by old-fashioned hostesses like Lady Cornwallis,” Daniel said, tugging on the cuffs of his jacket, wishing he wasn’t wondering what one Miss Brianna Crown would think when she saw him. “The French have gone somber in their revolution, and the Americans have done so as well, as we saw when we landed in Philadelphia. It wouldn’t do to march into Pleasant Hill like some damned peacock, Finn, showing off my jewels, wearing red heels and yards of lace, not when I remember my Uncle Dominick’s politics. Besides, to tell you the God’s honest truth, I’ve learned to much prefer the comfort of trousers and jackboots.”

Finn snorted. “At least your cravat and waistcoat will dazzle them all hollow. I can’t have you lookin’ shabby, for it would shame m’mother somethin’ terrible if her son should be less than the top valet from here to County Kerry.”

Daniel hid a smile as he bent his head and tucked a slim gold watch into his pocket. When it came to valets, Finn made a wonderful jockey, but the man did try hard. The Irishman had been up on one of Daniel’s mounts, exercising him, when he’d been thrown, permanently injuring his leg. He had felt it his duty and, later, his great good fortune, to have found alternative employment for the man. Now, after five years together, Daniel often found it difficult to remember who was the servant and who was the master. So he had settled on allowing Finn to be his friend. And it felt good to have a true friend.

“Your boots good enough?” Finn asked as he stepped back, taking one last long assessing look at the man who would shortly be riding to Pleasant Hill to break bread with his American relatives. “Spit on ‘em until my mouth ran dry as a Methodist’s wine cellars, I did, and rubbed so hard my elbow nearly dropped off.”

“And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice, Finn. God knows, I’m lucky to have you,” Daniel said, knowing it was expected of him. He then accepted the hat and gloves the valet offered him, took a deep breath, and turned to leave the room. “Don’t wait up, my friend. I hope to be very late.

* * *

“Miss Brianna, either you be putting a stop to rutsching around like a weary child in a church pew, or I’ll never get these buttons lined up right.”

“I’m sorry, Wanda. I’ll stop.” Brianna pressed her lips together between her teeth—the better to bring some color into them—then leaned forward to peer into the three-quarter length mirror. “Oh, would you look at this rat’s nest on my head! I can’t go downstairs like this.”

Wanda, a woman of nearly forty who had bounced the infant Brianna on her knee, gave a sharp tug to the fabric of the gown, pulling her squirming, wriggling charge upright once more. “Maacks nix aus, missy,” she said reasonably. “Makes no difference. You’re the prettiest thing from here all the way to Philly-delphia, no matter what. Now that I have these buttons done, no thanks to you, I’ll just dip my fingers in the washbowl and spritz some water over that strubbly hair and set it to curling already. You’ll see.”

“Mama says I’m not to say strubbly,” Brianna told Wanda as she dutifully sat on the small velvet-topped bench in front of her vanity table. “Not strubbly, nor spritz, nor even rutsch.” She turned her head just as Wanda took hold of a fistful of long, burnished curls, yelping at the tug of the roots against her scalp. “But I like those words. I like the way you sing them. You do sing when you talk, Wanda. Just like the Bings. Do you know that?”

“Ei-yi-yi, how the girl goes on,” Wanda trilled, dipping her fingers into the cold water in the basin, then flicking them so that water droplets showered straight into Brianna’s face. “Winifred and Otto Bing came here from the Palatine, I do think, while my mother, rest her soul, took ship from Holland and my father, curse his, was German through and through. Now we’re all just Pennsylvania Dutch, like we’re one big lump. The Germans, the Swiss, the Alsatians—all of us living together and slowly taking a half-dozen languages and mashing them into one. That’s why Benjamin Franklin hated us, you know.”

Brianna rolled her eyes heavenward, for Wanda’s was an old story and an old argument. “Mr. Franklin did not hate you, Wanda. He just didn’t want all of Philadelphia speaking German instead of English—”

“And, like I tell you and tell you, he never could make a go of his German newspaper, like he did with that there Almanac of his. Couldn’t stand it! So he crossed the ocean to put a bug in old Georgie’s ear and made sure the English put a tax on German printing. That tax made it cost us dear to read or do business, and then that Franklin fellow made sure we all got talked into moving out of the city, to places like New Eden, saying farmers should farm. So don’t you sass me, Missy. My mother told me the whole of it, and a liar she wasn’t. Said she would have been married to a nice Swiss clockmaker in Philadelphia if it hadn’t been for that sneaking Franklin and his talk of fertile farms all but free for the asking. She never would have come to New Eden with her parents, never have met my father, never would have watched him drink himself to death.”

“And you never would have been born,” Brianna pointed out, as she always did, knowing Wanda could be counted upon to rail on at length on the subject if she didn’t stop her with a thick application of good old Irish codding, as her mother called flattery laid on with a liberal hand. “Which would have made me quite sad, as you’re one of my favorite people, Wanda,” she added mournfully. “One of the dearest, most favorite people whose presence ever blessed this whole wide world. I say so all the time.”

The maid blushed to the roots of her thick crop of ditchwater blond hair. “Ach, you go on with you now. I ain’t not. But, while you’re busy flinging the truth around, tell me why it’s so important that you look your best tonight. It’s only some English cousin coming to dinner, or so that’s how I hear the gossip in the kitchen.”

It was Brianna’s turn to blush, and she did so prettily, hot color running into her cheeks, her emerald green eyes sparkling with mischief and excitement. “You wouldn’t ask that if you could see him, Wanda. Oh, he’s a fine-looking man. Tall as a tree, and with the most interesting face. He’s half Lenape, you know. And then there’s how he was born, how he came to be a Crown. It’s all so exotic, don’t you think? And mysterious.”

“And not none of your business, missy,” Wanda scolded as she set down the silver-backed brush with a loud thump against the cherry wood vanity. “The man’s English raised, and he’s kin. Besides, a girl shouldn’t be thinking of marriage until she can sew a man’s shirt and roll out a nice round pie crust. That’s what my mother told me. And, seeing as how I wasn’t about to so much as darn a hole in any man’s Sunday coat, I stayed as far from the altar as I could get.”

“But I can sew, Wanda,” Brianna reminded the maid, leaning toward the mirror on the vanity and pinching her cheeks until they turned pink again. “And even Mrs. Bing has vowed that I make the best, lightest pie crust in all of New Eden, thanks to her tutoring. I can do anything I put my mind to, and you know it. In fact, you’ve said so yourself.”

Wanda looked at the young girl’s reflection, wincing when she saw the determined look on her face. “Ach, there’s trouble coming now, just as plain as the rain comes when my bunions set in to throbbing! You’re going to go after this poor Englishman the way you go after anything you set your mind to, aren’t you? Don’t lie, for I see it in your eyes. You’ve got it in your head to get him, and get him you will.”

“Oh, I will, will I? Well, thank you kindly, Wanda,” Brianna said, rising and dropping a kiss on the woman’s plump cheek. “I appreciate your confidence in me.”

“Getting is one thing, missy,” Wanda called after Brianna as the young woman swept out of the room in her pale yellow gown. “It’s what you’re going to do with him once you get him that will have my hair turning gray overnight!”

* * *

Daniel let Lenape Traveler set his own pace along the hard-packed dirt road that wound between Enolowin and Pleasant Hill, the white stallion meandering lazily, then breaking into a smooth trot for a space, the two of them taking in their surroundings, getting accustomed to the scenery as they mounted each new, low hill.

The landscape reminded Daniel very much of Sussex; with a velvety haze hanging over the entire large valley, softening the bright red of a barn in the distance, dusting the green of the growing wheat, turning the wandering, tree-covered mountains in the distance a grand, smoky blue.

From the crest of one particular hill Daniel could see a rolling patchwork quilt of fields planted with wheat and barley and corn, and admired the still new and bright greenery on the trees that divided the quilt into individual plots. The air smelled of honeysuckle growing wild by the roadside, of tender crops, wild roses, ripening cherries and strawberries. Above him, circling the trees in preparation of nesting for the night that would not come for hours, he saw scarlet tanagers, robins, wood thrushes and wrens, their joyful noise cheering him as much as did his easy remembrance of these particular birds, their particular names.

The day was warm, even as it climbed toward twilight, and he could hear the soft tinkle of cowbells below him in the meadow, clutches of fat milk cows slowly meandering toward one of the large red bank barns at Pleasant Hill and their ritual evening milking.

It was as if he were in England, but an England built on a much larger scale. For England was an island. Here in America there were valleys large enough to swallow up all of Sussex and still leave room for half of Surrey or Kent.

A smile curved Daniel’s lips as a bobwhite flew by, its whistle sending Lenape Traveler to dancing, and he nudged the stallion’s sleek flanks, urging him forward once more—feeling happy, feeling safe, feeling very much at home, with the soot and chimney pots and confinement of London far away.

He looked to his left, to the forest that edged the wide fields, looked into the dense stand of towering oaks, shaggy hickories, portly maples, slender hemlocks, shadowy chestnuts and black walnuts that turned the ground beneath their branches to night even in the middle of day. He’d read somewhere that a Lenape brave had proudly reported that it once would have been possible for a squirrel to jump from limb to limb through this great forest, from the shores of the Atlantic and nearly all the way to the wide river they called the Mississippi, with its feet never touching the ground. Until the Yankwis had come, of course, until the forests had been cleared and planted. Until the Lenni Lenape had been pushed westward, ever westward, forced to abandon the homeland of their grandfathers.

The scattered drifts of lacy white dogwoods and the more fragile green of smaller trees, the tulip, the sassafras, the sumac, could not successfully lighten the dark impenetrability of this particular wide swath of still virgin forest where a much younger Daniel and his mentor, Lokwelend, had spent so many wonderful, carefree hours.

Daniel’s smile faded as he stared into the trees and the memories rushed into his mind, memories of stories he’d heard, a peaceful Lenape existence he could only imagine—leaving him feeling empty, alone, somehow lost. Leaving his blood burning, his muscles bunched, eager for a barefooted, lung-bursting run through the dense undergrowth.

If he just cut to his left, leaving Lenape Traveler behind so that he traveled on foot, he could probably still make his way through this dense tangle, over the fallen tree trunks and haphazardly scattered, huge gray boulders. He could run all the way to the thin sliver of bubbling creek, where he would then turn to his right and circle behind Pleasant Hill itself, standing high and proud on a rise in the distance, following the meandering path that eventually led to wider water, and Lokwelend’s log cabin that perched beside its banks.

Was it still there?

Pematalli was Always There. But Pematalli’s father, Lokwelend, was The Traveler. Had his spirit stayed in the log cabin that had been his home or hovering over the cliff where his mortal body lay—or had Lokwelend’s soul taken to traveling once again, shepherding the remaining Lenape, guiding them with his strong spirit, counseling them with his deep wisdom?

Or, perhaps, was he waiting, still waiting, for the young Tasukamend who had left him so very long ago?

“I have returned, Grandfather,” Daniel called out loudly, startling the wrens who perched on the tree limbs overhanging the path. “Years too late and still a child, still full of foolish questions, Tasukamend has returned.”

* * *

“He’s coming! Mama, Papa—he’s coming!”

Brianna let the sheer white curtains fall back into place as she quickly stepped away from the drawing room window facing out over the massive, well-scythed, sloping lawns and curved, oak-lined lane that led to the imposing red front door of Pleasant Hill. It wouldn’t do to have Daniel Crown see her peeping out at him like some child yearning for a treat.

She smoothed the skirts of her gown, then peeked into the gilt-edged mirror hanging above a small cherry wood table, not because she was especially vain but because she was female enough to want to reassure herself that she was looking her best. “Mama! Did you hear me?”


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