Winfred O. Cook
The majestically beautiful Hawthorne Manor, a sprawling plantation, in post civil war Tennessee sets the stage for this amazing story of love, hate, and redemption. When Jeremiah Hawthorne, the master of Hawthorne Manor, is murdered late one night on his way home by highwaymen, it sets into motion this complex and absorbing saga. The grief, loss and betrayal that Jerry Hawthorne, the Massa's young son, experienced. And Daniel, the slave playmate who was given to Jerry when they both were toddles, and of how their extraordinary bond, in spite of their predestine paths; will endure the turbulent sometimes violent ravages of time. When Hawthorne Manor is dismantled and all the slaves and their families are ripped apart, and put into wagons, including Jerry's beloved Beulah, his Nana and wet nurse, and Daniel her son, the two closest people to him in the world. How in his blind rage, the twelve year old tries to fight off the slavers in an attempt to free them. And Daniel's sense of betrayal and lost, as misconstrued blame floods his mind as he and the others, shackled to wagons like chattel are being taken to auction. How he blankly stares with tears streaming down his face as the wagons creak and wobble along the dirt road, taking him away from the only home he has ever known.
How Beulah, Daniel's mother and the cook for Hawthorne Manor, naively thought that she and her family's position in the household were secure. Since she had been raised along side Jeremiah Hawthorne, and played together with him and his siblings as children; this was the only life she knew. She was also Jerry's wet nurse and raised both her son and the massa's son as her own. She loved her little blue eyed baby as she loved her own. Her love was the only maternal love that little massa Jerry ever knew.
Jerry's mother, Mary Beth, had vowed to never go through the agony of child birth again after her only son was born. She had no interest in motherhood. Her only interest in her son was to assuage her own vanity, by admiring his bluer than blue eyes, and platinum hair, as a dim reflection of her own beauty. She'd dress him in the latest fashion, showing him off to the oooh, and ahhhs, of her guest at one of her elaborate galas; that were numerous in the social season.
Mary Beth was indifferent to slavery. As long as her needs were met, niggers were niggers. But after Jeremiah's death, coupled with her deep resentment for her son's Nana, Beulah, Mary Beth, without the slightest bit of remorse, sold Hawthorne Manor, and all the slaves including Beulah and her family. In spite of Jerry's sobbing pleas to save his Nana, and Daniel, his mother simply turned a cold shoulder. Jerry spewed hatred for his mother and vowed that he would run away and never to speak to his mother again.
Jerry is determined to rescue Daniel and Beulah from the atrocities of slavery. He runs away to New York to find his uncles, George and Fredrick Hawthorne, to help him find Beulah and Daniel. The only problem is that his mother, whom he had vowed never to speak to again, had the addresses. So instead of finding his uncles when he landed in New York by train, he is recruited by a nine year old street urchin, Nicky, who takes him into the underbelly of New York's Tenderloin.
When Tennessee fell to the Union Army and freedom rang through out the region, Daniel, as did hundreds of others, walked away to freedom from the plantations that had held them in bondage for all those years. Nothing, including the night riders who killed newly freed slaves for sport, could stop the new alliances, and surrogate families from reaching freedom. Daniel is determined to join The Union Army in an effort to defeat The Confederate Army and to exact retribution for being ripped from his family and the horrors of slavery. Daniel meets his new family, and Lila, a beautiful mulatto, and he is smitten. Daniel, at the tender age of seventeen marries Lila only to walk away to join the army, with promises to return as soon as the war is over. But in the interim he meets and joins up with a bunch of hooligans, newly freed adolescent boys, and begins terrorizing the country side, until they are caught and hanged, and Daniel barely escapes with his life. Now he sets out alone, reflecting on his life and realizes he could never go back and eventually finds his way to New York. When Jerry and Daniel are reunited in New York, Daniel is tentative about the reunion. His memory vacillates and he is not sure of how he remembers the events until Jerry reassures him, and he remembers the scene through a veil of tears of Jerry being flung to the ground by the slavers as the wagons crept down the road. After talking for hours, making up for the nearly ten years since they had seen each other, their bond was still intact. There was one thing that Jerry hadn't shared with his soul mate, and that was the secret world of homosexuality that he now belonged. Jerry realized that he had loved Daniel even then, but as a child loves a brother, he thought. But now as adult he knew that it was more than brotherly love. Daniel had no idea and was completely surprised when one day while horsing around, wrestling, with Jerry and he became aroused. What happened next both shocked and puzzled the unsuspecting Daniel; he became excited from Jerry's arousal. Nothing from that point would ever be the same.