When Ruth Crisp marries Doctor Cleveland Bigham, she is unaware that the Bigham family has a penchant for killing anyone who crosses them. She makes this horrific discovery seven months later when her brother-in-law brutally lynches a young field hand. While Ruth’s in-laws conspire with her husband to conceal his brother’s guilt, she struggles between her role as a compliant Edwardian wife and her moral obligation to testify against the killer. Ruth knows the choices she must make may cost her marriage but can’t foresee the enormous price she will ultimately have to pay.
I hope you enjoy this short bit from chapter one:
Brutal Crime Near Hymanville in Florence County
Headline from The State newspaper, Columbia, South Carolina
Jan. 11, 1909
The end began in a burst shortly after the New Year. On that cold day in January, I was upstairs at the Bigham house reading Lowell’s The Vision of Sir Launfal aloud to my sister-in-law Leitha. The tale of a knight’s thwarted quest for the Holy Grail, it was one of my favorite poems.
His words were shed softer than leaves from the pine.
And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on the brine,
That mingle their softness and quiet in one
With the shaggy unrest they float down upon.
I’d been helping to nurse Cleveland’s sister since our arrival on Christmas Eve, cooling her hot forehead with dampened rags and holding cups of elderflower tea to her chapped lips. A dainty thing to begin with, she looked so emaciated under the bedclothes I thought she might not recover. The last few days she seemed much better. Her appetite had returned, and her pallid skin started to regain some color. She would soon be well enough to go to her account books downstairs keeping track of the plantation monies, but I didn’t mention it. Leitha’s unassuming personality was a relief in that overbearing household.
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another’s need:
Not what we give, but what we share, –
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, –
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and…
Sounds of commotion stopped my recitation. A horse galloped into the yard below. Chickens skreaked in alarm. There was shouting and someone ran under the covered walkway that connected the house to the detached kitchen; we could hear the footfalls.
I am currently looking for an agent or publisher for Under A Gibbous Moon. If you are are interested in representing or publishing this book, please email me through the contact page on this site.