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Tales of Culverin Hill

Rollie Lawson

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Tales of Culverin Hill

 

The Master of Culverin

 

Chapter 1 - Reverend Playfair

Monday, May 16, 1814

Culverin Hill, Springwater, North Carolina

The Reverend Daniel Playfair rode his horse from Springwater towards Culverin Hill slowly. He was at best an indifferent rider and would have certainly preferred taking a carriage, but his had broken an axle the week before. He could have used one from the town’s livery stable, but he wanted his trip to be private.

Reverend Playfair intended to meet with the Master of Culverin at his home. Jacob Culverin was an apostate before God, a sinner, and wicked in the eyes of all that was holy. This was widely known to all, not least because it was the Reverend Playfair’s belief, and one that he readily passed on to everybody in Springwater as Gospel. He was also sure, beyond any doubt, that so wicked a man must have made a pact with Lucifer himself.

Daniel Playfair was a well-read and learned man, but not necessarily a wise one. His moral view was one that had gone of fashion a century or two past. Sin was sin, and there was no compromise in the man. He only wished the church had retained more influence over the civil authorities; the Salem witch trials should have been continued, and throughout the colonies and now the entirety of the United States!

This did not endear Reverend Playfair to the residents of Springwater and the members of his congregation, which had been slowly shrinking since he had taken his position as the shepherd of the flock. This was nothing new, however, and Daniel Playfair knew that within a few years he would be moving on, to preach the gospel in another town when the deacons suggested he leave. Springwater was the fourth town he had been a pastor in, and he knew the wickedness of men would force him on again.

That would be for the future, however. If he could force Jacob Culverin away from Satan and towards the Light, it would be a sign from God to the entire town! That he, Daniel Playfair, could redeem such a sinner would be heard far and wide, certainly throughout the entire state of North Carolina, and most likely through the entire south, perhaps throughout the nation!

Jacob Culverin was the wickedest man that Playfair had ever met, which would have surprised Jacob, who had known many men he considered much more wicked. To Playfair, he seemed a proud man, and haughty, and had a way of looking down upon him as if he was secretly laughing at the preacher. He had other sinful ways as well, such as intemperance, since he was a maker and purveyor of whiskey. Worse, Jacob was originally a Yankee, and did not hold with slavery, which was clearly what the Bible called for! Did not the books of Leviticus and Exodus both give laws allowing slavery? Who was this Jacob Culverin to set himself up in judgment of God?

His greatest sin, in the eyes of Playfair, was that he rarely, if ever, went to church. He stayed at his hilltop estate on the hill named after him, and when Reverend Playfair had once admonished him for not attending his church, had simply smiled and replied that he worshipped in his own fashion Sunday mornings. The women with him at the time, female relations of one sort or another, had tittered and giggled at that, rather than remaining silent when in the presence of men, as God had ordained them to behave.

That had been just a week ago, and Daniel Playfair had demanded that Culverin attend church that Sunday or face eternal damnation. Sunday had come and gone without Jacob gracing the church, so the Reverend decided to go and beard the lion in his den, much like his namesake had gone into the lion’s den. Playfair’s literary scholarship was no better than his biblical scholarship.

Reverend Playfair fulminated over Culverin’s sinfulness and wickedness and decided to arm himself for his trip. Though he was armed in the righteousness of his cause, he knew that would mean little to the wicked man he would be descending on. Therefore, he prepared for the coming battle, girding up his loins as it said in the Bible. He strapped a pistol in its holster around his waist and hung a sword from the other side of the belt. The pistol was an ancient flintlock that he had to clean and load, and both weapons were presents from his father when he had graduated from the seminary and joined the Army briefly. That hadn’t worked out so well, but he still had the weapons. He made a comical figure as he rode through town towards Culverin Hill, and several of the deacons noticed and decided their preacher had really lost his mind this time, and it was time to find a new preacher.

It was perhaps five miles by the roadway to Culverin Hill, just an hour’s easy jaunt for any sort of decent rider. It took roughly twice as long for Playfair, and shortly before he reached the base of Culverin Hill the rumblings of an approaching storm spooked his horse. With a loud whinny, the animal bolted and dumped Playfair to the ground in a muddy pool. It then turned and ran back towards town when another rumble came from the clouds.

Reverend Playfair climbed to his feet and shook the mud from his coat. He was tempted to curse the horse but realized this was simply further proof that Beelzebub was protecting Jacob Culverin. He could now face the ignominy of walking back to Springwater chasing his rented horse, or he could continue moving forward. In a way, he considered this a good sign; like Barak when he went against the Canaanites, he was moving up a hill against an enemy of God. He checked his weapons, picked his hat out of the dirt, and continued up the road. He marched with the certainty that God was with him.

That certainty was somewhat strained when he made it to the top of the hill. Though the distance was not great as the crow flew, the roadway curled back and forth up the side of the hill. It was a warm day, and it was a warmer afternoon, and Playfair suffered. The weather continued to become stormy. The rumbles that had spooked his horse were now constant, and the sky was becoming leaden with gray storm clouds. It would undoubtedly begin raining by the early evening. After facing down Culverin and forcing him to repent, he would demand that he be provided lodging for the night and a carriage for his return to town in the morning.

Reverend Playfair slowed his approach as he made his way to the top of the hill, where the roadway opened to a broad swath of lawn. To the left the track went off to some barns, and to the right it curled around some fenced fields. Straight ahead however was the Culverin home, Culverin House. Fortunately for the pastor, while he had not been overly gifted with either common sense or any equestrian abilities, he did have exceptional eyesight. That eyesight, combined with a spyglass he had obtained during his Army days, allowed him to watch over his flock for transgressions, whether they wished to be watched or not.

Now that exceptional eyesight stopped him in his tracks, because Jacob Culverin was seated on a chair on his front porch and surrounded by several of the women of the house. The chair was large and well-padded, and resembled nothing so much as a throne. Now, the Minion of Lucifer was seated on the throne, holding court, as it were, but doing so in a fashion unknown to any Earthly potentate, for Jacob was as naked as the day he had been born! Likewise, the three women of the household who were attending him were also naked, with one seated to each side of him on smaller padded chairs, and a third kneeling down between his outstretched legs. It was obvious she was committing the Sin of Sodom on the Master of Culverin, as Jacob styled himself. The Master had already condemned himself to eternal damnation in the Pit; now his women had done so as well!

By moving to the left, Reverend Playfair could move away from the road to the house and into the brush. He reached into his inner pocket of his coat and pulled out his spyglass, which he extended and raised to his right eye. The scene on the porch became crystal clear. The woman kneeling between Jacob’s legs was bobbing her head up and down, and Jacob had a blissful expression on his face. Next to him, the two women on either side were watching and touching themselves in the most intimate of fashions caressing their bosoms and loins in a manner that even Jesus and the Apostles could never forgive. Suddenly, Jacob Culverin stiffened and grabbed for the young harlot’s head, forcing himself even deeper into her mouth, and gave out a silent cry.

Reverend Playfair knew what had just happened. The godless abuser of women had just spewed his seed into the harlot’s mouth. Sodomy was the greatest of sins. True copulation was only performed with your wife and only for procreation. Both husband and wife were to be wearing a full-length night shift, and while the act of procreation necessitated that they be pulled to the waist, as soon as it was over, they needed to be pushed down. Pleasure was to be avoided - that was fornication, not procreation! - and afterwards they were to pray and repent for any enjoyment that might have taken place. Further, there was only one acceptable position, with the man atop his wife, as God had decreed that men were above women, and in the dark of the night.

Now, finished, Jacob Culverin sank back into his chair and the young woman at his feet moved to the side. The other women also relaxed from their sins, and the foursome looked out over the grounds of the estate. Playfair was finally able to get a good view of the sinners. Jacob was a tall and powerfully built man, slim but with broad shoulders. Playfair knew from meeting him previously that Jacob was thirty-and-five, and darkly complected, with dark brown hair and startlingly blue eyes. Now, seeing him naked, he could see that he was strongly muscled.

Playfair shifted slightly and swung his spyglass to view the woman to Culverin’s left. He recognized her also, as a woman who had been introduced to him as Culverin’s aunt. She was a most comely woman, with hair as dark as her nephew but a lighter complexion. To Jacob’s right sat another woman he had met, the apostate’s cousin; she was young, beautiful, fair-skinned, and fair-haired. Then he moved on to the young harlot who had taken Jacob into her mouth. She was the youngest of all, and now that he could see her it was obvious that she was with child! Was there no depravity Jacob Culverin wouldn’t stoop to?

His contemplations were put on hold as another woman came out of the front door of the manor house onto the porch. This one was as dark haired as Jacob and his aunt, but she wore a long night shift. She was as beautiful as all the other women. Somebody must have said something, because she began laughing and then slowly unbuttoned the shift, to drop it to the porch and stand before the others as naked as they were. Jacob’s aunt reached over to him and placed her hand on his loins. Jacob smiled and leaned back, allowing her easier access to his manhood. Within moments it had regained strength and reared up large and proud, and Daniel Playfair was amazed at its length and girth. Then the young woman who had come out onto the porch came over to Jacob. She turned her back to him and sat down on his lap, and the young woman on her knees reached out to insert his shaft into her cunny. Then, as she began to ride Lucifer’s cock, the other women began touching her most improperly. The crazed and sinful fornicators continued in this fashion until Jacob spewed, giving up his incestuous seed to his partner.

It was too much for Playfair to stomach! He dropped his spyglass to the ground and pulled forth his pistol and his sword. Waving them wildly, he strode across the lawn towards the house, all the while calling down the wrath of God on the vile and evil group.

 

Chapter 2 -Traveling South

Earlier That Evening

Jacob Culverin came out of his house and walked out onto his porch. He stood at the rail and gazed out smiling at what he saw. The house wasn’t even a house any longer, but was more of an estate or manor, and certainly not the one-room cabin it had been when he first arrived twenty years before. He knew that the crazy preacher in Springwater thought Jacob had sold his soul to Satan. If he only knew the truth…

Summer 1794

When Jacob had arrived in Springwater he had just turned fifteen. He and his family had been traveling for months, moving south from a small town west of Albany, New York. His father, Zachariah, had owned a small farm, but it had not been successful. The soil was too stony, the winters were too long, and the life was too hard. When Zachariah’s brother Ezekiel had invited them to move to his home near Springwater, it had come as a blessing. Ezekiel said that he owned a vast tract of land, fertile and much warmer than upstate New York, and that he was inviting all the members of their extended family to come and join him. Zachariah had sold his farm and loaded everything they owned into a buckboard wagon.

There were four of them when they left their home, Zachariah, Jacob’s mother Hannah, Jacob’s older sister Penelope, and Jacob himself. Penelope was only a year older than Jacob and had been betrothed to the son of a neighbor who farmed land near theirs, but he had died over the winter of lung fever. Jacob’s two younger brothers had died as well, and both Hannah and Penelope were glad to be quit of a home that had so many sad memories. It would take many months of traveling, but by late summer they would be at their new home.

Things didn’t work out as well as the family expected, however. Bad roads, bad weather, and bad luck dogged them the entire trip. They had barely crossed into New Jersey when Zachariah hurt himself repairing a broken spoke on one of the wagon’s wheels. The cut festered, and he died of blood fever a week later. They took him to the nearest town and buried him in a church cemetery. They continued, however, and Hannah told her son that he was now the man of the house, even if they didn’t have a house. A week later Hannah passed, coming down with a fever that had no cure. Jacob and Penelope loaded their mother into the wagon and continued to the next town and arranged for her burial.

It was then just the two of them, Jacob and his sister. They decided to continue moving south. New Jersey seemed very unlucky, and they had both seen the looks on the faces of some of the men in the small town where they had buried Hannah. Penelope was a beautiful young woman; though quite buxom she had a slim waist and hips, her hair was golden, her eyes were blue, and her face was round with an upturned nose and a misting of freckles. Even though Jacob was growing taller and stronger, some of the men in the town just saw a boy, and eyed Penelope hungrily.

Jacob’s fate found him just a few miles south of the town, and it came in the form of an old man travelling north. He was walking, leading his horse. Jacob and Penelope were moving south slowly, and he stopped and watched them. “Hello, young feller,” he said in greeting.

Both Jacob and Penelope returned the greeting, “Hello, sir.”

“Young man, any chance we can talk for a moment?”

Jacob looked at his sister, who shrugged silently, so Jacob stopped his team and climbed down off the wagon. He went over to the other man and asked, “Yes, sir, how can I help you?”

The old man looked over at Penelope for a second and then turned his attention back to Jacob. “You’re in a heap of trouble, young man, you and your sister.” His voice was pitched low, too low for Penelope to hear him, though it seemed quite loud and clear to Jacob.

“Sir?” Jacob gave the man a confused look.

“There’s men coming for you and your sister, coming from that town you just went through, only they’re not coming for you. They want her, and you know what I mean,” said the old man.

Jacob looked around wildly, and back along the road, but didn’t see anybody coming. He opened his mouth to protest, but before he could do so the old man continued. “You know it’s true, too, boy. You saw the faces on those men. There’s three of them coming. They’ll be catching up to you within the hour.”

“You came from south of us. How do you know about the town behind us?”

The old man ignored the question. “You know the three I’m talking about. You saw their faces. An hour from now you’ll be dead, and they’ll have your sister. That what you want, boy?”

Jacob knew the truth of the statement even as he struggled to make sense of it. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Curiosity, you could say. I am curious about what you will do. I can help you, for a small fee.”

That caused Jacob to snort out a laugh. “Mister, you made a bad bet, then. We ain’t got two pennies to rub together.”

“There’s other payments than money, young feller. You just say the word, and I’ll collect later.”

“Collect what?”

For the first time, the old man gave a thin smile. “I collect souls.”

Jacob’s eyes widened at that statement, but for some reason he didn’t think the old man was lying. Looking back along the road they had travelled, he saw three men in the distance, rising over a small hill. He turned back and said, “Sure, old man, whatever you say.”

The old man smiled a second time and nodded. “I’ll see you again someday, young feller.” He pulled on his horse’s reins and continued leading him along the road.

Jacob didn’t understand what had happened, at least not right away, but he felt different, stronger and sharper. He glanced back at the riders approaching and realized the old man had disappeared. That wasn’t important, though. What was important was that they would never be able to outride three men on horseback while riding a broken-down wagon. Instead he climbed back to his seat and reached into the back. The Culverins didn’t have much in the way of weapons, just an old Brown Bess flintlock musket and a bayonet, but forewarned was forearmed. He checked the priming and load, fastened the bayonet, and then positioned the musket where he could grab it if necessary.

“Jacob, what is going on? Who was that fellow, and what did he say?”

“Never mind, Penelope. We’ve got trouble coming. When I tell you to, I want you to jump in the back and stay there.”

“Jacob?”

“Just do as I say, Penelope. You heard Momma say I was in charge. Just do what I say.”

Penelope felt something primal stir inside her at that. She nodded and said, “Yes, Jacob.” Then she looked back and saw the three riders coming closer. “Jacob?”

Jacob looked at them, and said, “Get in back now, Penelope, and get down low. I’ll handle this.”

Penelope was scared, but Jacob seemed so mature and sure of himself. She climbed into the back and huddled down on the bed of the wagon, surrounded by their meager belongings.

The three riders came up to the front of the wagon, two on the left side near where Jacob was sitting, and one on the right. It was the three faces he had seen in town, the three men the old man had somehow known about. Jacob never even had a chance to ask what they wanted. The leader, a rough looking man with a dirty beard, asked, “Where’s the girl? She in back?” He was holding a pistol in his hand, but it was simply down by his side.

The man sitting to his side laughed at that. “That where she sleeps, boy? That’ll be real convenient!”

That was enough for Jacob to hear. There was no use saying anything. Jacob picked up the musket and pointed it, not at the first man, but at the one next to him. Bracing it against the seat, Jacob pulled the trigger. Even though he hadn’t been aiming it properly, Jacob managed to keep hold of it and control it. The musket ball knocked the man out of his saddle. The leader stared in surprise at this, turning to face his fallen friend, and then he turned back just in time to see Jacob standing and thrusting the musket at him. The bayonet entered the base of his throat and continued out the back. Jacob dropped the musket at that point, pulled his belt knife, and launched himself at the horseman on his right. The pair fell to the ground, stunning the third outlaw, and Jacob slashed his throat open. Blood sprayed out across him as the man died.

The young man climbed to his feet, stunned by the violence and the speed with which it happened. He ignored Penelope’s screams of terror and went to check on the first two men. The first man, the one he shot, was crying in agony and holding his blasted guts together with his hands. Jacob went over to the man he had bayoneted in the throat. He was stone cold dead. Jacob pulled the bayonet out of the man and used it on the man he shot, silencing him. Then he set the musket back on the wagon and told Penelope to stop screaming and come out of hiding.

“Oh, my God! Jacob, are you…”

“Ain’t my blood, Penelope. Now, give me a hand here. Get down here and collect up them horses,” he replied.

Penelope stared at her blood-soaked brother, but she climbed down from the wagon. He explained that they needed to get the bodies off the road and used a rope and one of the horses to drag the bodies into a ditch. He stripped off their weapons and any possessions, and then tossed their saddles and bags into the back of the buckboard. Finally, he went down to the stream the ditch drained into and stripped his clothing off. He tossed that away and washed the blood off.

Penelope stared at her brother as he returned from his bath. He was naked, and his manhood hung long and thick between his legs. She felt herself stirring and looked at him in a way she had never looked at her brother before. She had occasionally seen her father’s loins, as he and her mother had coupled when they thought the children were asleep. Jacob’s seemed much larger! She watched as he strode over to the wagon, to reach inside and find cleaner clothing to dress in. Swallowing nervously, she asked, “Jacob, what do we do now?”

He looked around and smiled, for the first time since the old man had stopped them. “Well, I say we go south. We take these fellows back north, the odds are their friends and neighbors might not take too kindly to my perforating them, hmmm?”

Penelope gasped, and shook her head. “No!”

“So, we take the horses and stuff south with us, sell it or trade it, and keep going. We’ll get to Springwater yet, you just watch!”

“Yes, Jacob, we’ll go south,” she agreed.

Jacob tied the horses to the back of the wagon and the two siblings climbed back aboard the wagon. They continued several more miles down the road, skirting the next town they came to, lest somebody in the town might recognize the horses or saddles they had acquired. They set up camp late and ate a cold supper without a fire. Then Penelope set their blankets under the wagon as she always did, while Jacob took one last look around the campsite and checked on the horses.

Jacob found their blankets side-by-side, as opposed to being at opposite ends of the wagon. He looked at his sister, who had stripped down to a simple shift. “Jacob, hold me tonight. Today…today scared me. Just hold me,” she asked.

Jacob nodded mutely, struck by the beauty of his older sister in her thin shift. He had seen her like that before, but somehow things seemed different. Her breasts seemed to be pressing against the thin cotton fabric with little points underneath, and she trembled as he crawled under the wagon next to her. Rather than change into a night shirt of his own, he stripped off his shirt and lay down still wearing his breeches. Nervously he allowed Penelope to cuddle against him.

“Hold me, Jacob, hold me,” she whispered.

Jacob complied by wrapping her arms around her, and Penelope molded herself against his body. One of her legs swung over his, and he groaned silently as she pressed against his manhood. His shaft was now fully enraged and threatened to tear out of his breeches. The points of Penelope’s bosoms were pushing into his chest.

“Oh, Jacob…” Penelope began moving against him, and began to kiss his neck and chest.

“Penelope…” was all he could say. Part of him wanted to tell her to stop, that their behavior was wrong, but a greater part wanted to continue. That was when his sister began to undo his breeches. Jacob let out an animal growl and tore them open, ripping a button as he did so, and then he had her on her back and Penelope was spreading her legs. He broached her in an instant and began thrusting madly into her. Penelope wrapped her arms and legs around her brother, holding him against her, as she cried out in pleasure. Time and again she thought about the times she had heard their parents pleasuring each other in the late night, and it had never sounded as passionate or as pleasurable as this was.

Jacob and Penelope coupled for hours, barely resting before beginning again. By the time the sun rose, they had both lost what little clothing they had, and were lying naked in each other’s arms. Neither could explain what had come over them, but neither planned to apologize, either. They cleaned up, ate a cold breakfast, and broke camp.

Things began to improve for the young Culverins from that point onward. Jacob managed to sell the saddles and horses for enough money to allow them to buy a newer and better wagon as well as some supplies. Then they continued travelling. That evening, when it was time to retire, there was little pretense. When Jacob returned to the wagon after checking the horses and camp, he found Penelope waiting naked in their blankets. He stripped his clothing off and joined her. Together they learned how to please each other.

They continued travelling in this fashion, and conditions continued to improve. Jacob proved adept at trading, occasionally buying items in one town and then selling them at a profit in the next. The weather improved, as did the roads. They traded their old nags for younger and fresher horses and traded their buckboard up from a two-horse wagon to a four-horse model. They also bought additional goods which would be useful for setting up their household in Springwater.

Jacob continued growing. He no longer looked like a skinny boy barely in his teens but was instead a tall and well-muscled young man. Few men looked at him as somebody to trifle with. Women noticed him, however, and smiled at him invitingly. Jacob declined those unspoken offers, however, being perfectly content to fornicate with his sister.

Penelope changed, too. Like any girl growing up on a farm, she knew about animal breeding. She also knew what her parents were up to late at night when they thought their children were asleep. Still, nothing had prepared her for the pleasures of the flesh to be found with Jacob! Even though she was using his body every night multiple times, it still didn’t seem enough for the nubile young woman. Whenever they stopped along the roadside, if there was sufficient privacy, she would tell her brother that she had an itch that needed scratching, and then bend over and pull her dress up. Jacob frequently would laugh, but he always undid his breeches and entered her from behind, furiously rogering her and taking his pleasure as she took pleasure herself.

The net result wasn’t a surprise to either sibling. Well before they reached Springwater, Penelope had missed her courses, and by the time they arrived, Penelope was clearly showing that she was with child and Jacob had taken to calling her his wife, and not his sister. They received directions in Springwater to the place being called Culverin Hill, but they also received disturbing news. There had been several recent deaths in the family, and the long-anticipated family reunion might be sparsely attended.

A few hours later the horses pulled their wagon up the very rough road leading to the top of the hill, where they found a small and decrepit log cabin in the center of a small clearing. A young woman came out of the cabin to see who the visitors were; she was followed by a pair of girls. Jacob looked around before climbing down from the wagon. Culverin Manor didn’t seem to be in much better shape than their old home in Montgomery County!

The woman approached the wagon, leaving the girls in the doorway. “Hello. Welcome to Culverin Hill. I’m Abigail Culverin. How can we help you?” she asked.

Jacob smiled at her, and the woman felt a flutter inside. “Hello. If this is Culverin Hill, then this is the place we were coming to. We’re also Culverins, Jacob and Penelope.”

Abigail raised an eyebrow at that. Ezekiel had told her that his brother Zachariah had children named Jacob and Penelope, and that Zachariah was bringing his family to Springwater. Penelope, however, was pregnant, and she didn’t look at Jacob the way a sister looks at a brother. Still, it wouldn’t do to make a fuss about it, not when the farm needed so much work. “Welcome. Are you Zachariah’s children? Where are Zachariah and Hannah and the others?”

Both Jacob and Penelope shook their heads sadly. “They passed on the trip down. I’m afraid we are all that’s left of the northern Culverins.”

“I am very sorry to hear that. While I didn’t know Zachariah well, Hannah and I were close when we were young. We once visited together. She was like an older sister to me.” She held out her hand to Jacob. “I’m your Aunt Abigail, but you can just call me Abigail. I was younger than Hannah and I don’t see a need to stand on formality.” She looked up at Penelope, still seated in the wagon, and said, “Well, come on down from there and make yourself at home.”

Abigail turned towards the cabin and waved the two girls forward. To Jacob and Penelope, she quietly said, “I am afraid that Ezekiel’s plan to bring the families together has come to naught. There has been much sickness in the last year, and we five are the last of the Culverins. Ezekiel died of a fever shortly after sending out the letters of invitation last year. This is our daughter Martha - she’s twelve - and our niece Elizabeth.”

“Call me Liz!” interjected the girl.

Abigail smiled. “Lizzie is eleven. She’s the daughter of Zachariah’s sister, Mary Smith. They died shortly after getting here in the spring. Cholera.”

Both Jacob and Penelope smiled and hugged the two girls. Both were young beauties, with blonde hair, brown eyes, and intelligent expressions. Abigail, on the other hand, also looked very intelligent, but she had hair and coloring more like Jacob, dark haired and dark complexion.

Provisions in the cabin were meager, and Jacob and Penelope supplied food for the evening meal from their stores. Over dinner, Abigail told how the property had been declining since the spring, with no men around to work the farm and not enough money to purchase supplies. For their part, Jacob and Penelope described their long trip south. Abigail continued to pretend that the siblings were man and wife and let them place their blankets on a straw tick in the corner. Lizzie and Martha fell asleep on their own tick quickly, but Abigail stayed awake in her bed listening to Jacob and Penelope pleasuring each other into the wee hours. Listening to them excited her immensely, and she used her own fingers on herself multiple times, something she hadn’t done in years. She and Ezekiel had enjoyed their marriage greatly, but Jacob seemed to pleasure Penelope more than any man she had ever imagined.

The next morning, after a small breakfast of porridge, the girls were sent off to do their chores and Jacob unloaded the wagon. Abigail and Penelope took time to talk about Penelope’s condition, and the events leading up to it. Abigail decided not to be judgmental about what must have happened between brother and sister. It must have been a very long and difficult trip, and judgment was best left up to God. Besides, watching Jacob moving around the cabin in nothing more than his breeches and boots affected her as well. He was a most handsome man, and she felt a stirring inside her she hadn’t felt since Ezekiel was young.

Jacob was oblivious to the looks both Penelope and Abigail were giving him, being far more interested in what needed to be done to the cabin and the property. The cabin needed to be expanded; it was far too small for five people, with a sixth on the way. Likewise, fencing needed to be cut, supplies needed to be laid in, and the barn needed repair. Once the wagon was empty, he washed up at the well pump, and then put on a clean shirt. To Abigail and Penelope, he announced, “I’m taking the wagon into town. We need some supplies, food, lumber, and such. I’ll be back before dinner, or at least before nightfall.”

“Do you need help?” they both asked.

Jacob simply smiled and shook his head. “You two stay here and relax. I know you have much to talk about.” He went out to the barn and hitched the team up to the wagon and went on down the hill.

After Jacob headed down the hill towards Springwater, Abigail took Penelope on a tour of the property. She told how they owned the entire hill but needed money and manpower to fully develop the property, and how both were almost nonexistent. “We could do so much here, but I think you’ve arrived just in time to see it all collapse around us,” said Abigail.

Penelope replied, “I wouldn’t say that just yet. I trust Jacob, and I think he might disagree with you.”

“From your lips to God’s ear!”

Later in the day, Abigail asked, “I know that you and Jacob are having a child. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. Did you really plan on that, or was it an accident?”

Penelope gave her aunt a confused look. “What do you mean?”

“Well, did you try to enjoy your time together in other ways?”

“I don’t understand?”

Abigail gave an exasperated sigh. “When you and Jacob are together, do you only do it the one way?”

Penelope smiled at that. “Well, at night, yes, mostly I get on my back and he takes me that way, but sometimes, during the day for instance, we might get the itch and he pulls my dress up and, well, you know.”

Abigail returned the smile. She could remember her times with Ezekiel. Still, there was more to ask. “Is that the only way you know to enjoy each other?”

“I don’t understand.”

Abigail took a second to try and figure out a delicate way to ask the next question but couldn’t come up with anything. Mentally shrugging to herself, she asked, “Have you ever sucked Jacob’s cock?”

Penelope’s eyes snapped wide open. “Oh, my God! Isn’t that sodomy? That’s a sin!”

“And what exactly do you consider incest?” Abigail asked, an amused look on her face.

“Oh, yes, well…”

“Penelope, I am simply making the point that things aren’t always black and white. I just want you to know that there is more than one way to pleasure each other. There are ways that don’t end up with a baby in nine months.”

It took Penelope a few seconds to think about that, but then she smiled. “Like?”

For the next few hours, Abigail and Penelope talked about what a man and a woman could do to pleasure each other. If Penelope was surprised by talking about what she and Jacob could do with their mouths, she was even more astonished when Abigail talked about the third way for Jacob to enjoy Penelope, and how Penelope would almost certainly enjoy it as well. Then they discussed various positions that would be necessary as Penelope continued to grow over the next few months.

They decided that Penelope would begin trying some new things with Jacob that night, but as the afternoon progressed, he didn’t return. He didn’t come back after dinner, and he didn’t come back before they went to bed. Penelope was very worried, but Abigail told her there was nothing they could do until the morning. Jacob may have had an accident with a horse or the wagon, and if he didn’t come home the next day, Abigail would saddle a horse and go down the hill. In the meantime, since Penelope was so nervous, she went to bed with Abigail, and the two women fell asleep hugging each other.

Jacob returned early the next afternoon, driving the team pulling the wagon up the road, and leading another wagon with a pair of young men riding. When he saw Penelope, Abigail, and the girls running towards him, he gave them a very sheepish look. “Sorry I’m late,” he yelled to them.

Penelope ran up to the side of the wagon. “Jacob! What happened?”

“Give me a chance to pull these wagons to the barn, and I’ll explain.”

“Jacob!”

Jacob waved his sister to the side and flicked the reins, putting the team into motion again. The women followed along with the two wagons over to the barn, and then hugged Jacob as soon as he climbed down from the seat. Jacob ignored the questions and said, “This is Matthew and Mark Patterson. I hired them for a few days to work on the property. I’ll explain later.” He turned to the two men and gave them orders to unload the wagons into the barn and then to start rebuilding the barn itself. Afterwards, he led the four women back towards the cabin.

“First, I’m sorry about not getting back here last night.”

“Jacob, what happened? We were so worried!” exclaimed Abigail, beating Penelope to the question.

He nodded. “Give me a chance to explain. I took the wagon down to Springwater with the idea that I would trade it and a couple of the horses for a smaller wagon that only needed two horses. Then I would use the money I made for some supplies and lumber to work on the barn.” The others nodded in understanding; it was a reversal of the strategy that had enabled Jacob and Penelope to make it to Culverin Hill. “So, that worked out fairly well, and I had a few dollars left in my pocket, and the owner of the livery stable invited me to the tavern for a drink.”

“Jacob?” asked both Abigail and Penelope questioningly.

He gave a very sheepish look at that. He nodded and said, “Yes, I know, that was probably a mistake. No, not probably, definitely. I promise, it won’t happen again.”

“Jacob, what happened?” asked Penelope.

Jacob grimaced, but then he shrugged and said, “You might as well learn everything. You know I’ve never had spirits before, only beer. Well, that one drink became two, and then three, and then I was invited to play cards.”

“Jacob, no!” protested Abigail and Penelope. Martha and Lizzie just stared.

He nodded. “Jacob, yes. Fortunately, I got very lucky. I didn’t lose any money but made enough to get back our wagon and team and hire another wagon and buy more supplies.”

“Jacob!”

“I promise never to do it again, but there is no reason not to put the money to good use. We’ve got enough lumber, nails, and paint to rebuild the barn so that it’s not about to fall in on itself. After that, we can start rebuilding the cabin and make it bigger.”

At that, the others started talking excitedly. Jacob explained his plans and what he considered the best way to improve the property. Then he went back outside to the barn, to help the Patterson brothers. They stayed two nights and drove their wagon back down the hill on the third day, leaving the barn in a considerably better condition than they had found it.

While the Pattersons were on the property, Jacob had them sleep in the barn. The cabin just wasn’t large enough for seven people. Penelope was very happy to have her husband home and pleasured him repeatedly once they got to bed each evening. Still, she didn’t try any of the new things that Abigail had told her about, being nervous about them. What if she did them incorrectly? The afternoon the Pattersons went down the hill, she and Abigail followed Jacob into the rebuilt barn and confronted him.

Abigail smiled as Penelope blushed and asked haltingly, “Jacob…I was talking…talking to Abigail…and she told me that she and…and Ezekiel sometimes did some things that we’ve never tried.”

“Oh?” he commented. When Penelope had come into the barn with him, he had considered having a bit of afternoon fun with her, but Abigail’s presence wasn’t going to allow that. Or was it?

Penelope nodded jerkily. “Abigail told me that she and Ezekiel did some things that wouldn’t leave her with child.”

Jacob turned to Abigail with a smile. “Really?”

Abigail returned the smile. “Yes. Penelope was nervous about this, but I promised to teach her. Do you mind?”

“No, I don’t mind.”

“I didn’t think you would.” Abigail turned to Penelope. “Kneel down.”

“Here?” asked Penelope. The barn was clean, but still, that seemed a bit unusual.

Abigail snorted in amusement but grabbed a horse blanket and dropped it to the ground. The two women spread it out, and then Abigail knelt and motioned Penelope to join her. She motioned for Penelope forward. “You need to undo his breeches.”

That was something Penelope clearly understood and knew how to do. She quickly had Jacob’s breeches undone and pulled them and his underclothes down. She found herself staring at her brother’s shaft, fully erect and pointed at her face. Abigail was also staring. Jacob’s manhood was immense, long and thick, and much larger than Ezekiel’s had been. She stared at it hungrily, but then noticed Penelope looking at her. “Just start by licking it.”

Again, that was something Penelope could understand. It was just like licking a penny candy. Abigail directed her in gently taking the shaft in her hands while she licked and suckled on the head of Jacob’s cock, and he gasped happily. Within a few minutes, Penelope was enjoying the flavor of the seed that began oozing from the head that merged from his foreskin, and Jacob began thrusting his cock into her mouth. Abigail told him to slow down, and then said something that surprised the other two. “Now, stop, stop.”

Penelope pulled away from her husband reluctantly, and Jacob groaned in disbelief. “Why?” he gasped.

“Penelope, Jacob is going to spew any moment now, and when he does, you’ll be very surprised by the amount. You need to undo your dress, or his seed will be all over it.”

“What?” the young woman replied.

“Trust me.”

Penelope followed Abigail’s instructions and undid the top of her dress, and then pushed it down below her breasts, now growing even larger as her pregnancy advanced. Abigail was surprised by how much she was excited seeing the young woman’s breasts, and Jacob certainly seemed to enjoy the sight as well. As soon as she was exposed, Penelope returned to suckling Jacob’s cock, and just a few minutes later he groaned, and spurts of his spew erupted. Taken by surprise, Penelope tried to swallow, but some still managed to dribble from her lips, down her chin, and drip down to her exposed breasts.

“See? Until you learn how to take it all in and swallow everything, you’ll want to make sure you don’t let any drip on your dress.”

“How do I do that?” Penelope asked. She took a finger and wiped up the seed on her teats, and then licked it off.

The sight of his wife swallowing his seed affected Jacob powerfully, and his shaft began to strengthen again. He almost missed when Abigail responded, “I can show you, if that is alright?”

Penelope motioned her aunt forward, and before Jacob could say anything, she had undone her own dress and pushed it down to her waist. Abigail’s teats weren’t as large as Penelope’s but were still a very fair size. Abigail moved in front of him, and then opened her mouth wide. Moments later, she had Jacob’s shaft deep in her mouth, and she didn’t stop until her lips were almost touching the base. Penelope watched in awe, and Jacob gasped in delight. Within just a few minutes he spewed his seed a second time.

The three continued practicing another couple of times, until Jacob was exhausted, and Abigail and Penelope needed to stop and prepare supper. Later that evening nobody was surprised when Abigail invited Jacob and Penelope to join her in her bed. Two days later, Abigail took them back to the barn and taught Jacob and Penelope about the best ways to take a woman in the arse. The young couple found this very enjoyable, and when Jacob next went into Springwater for supplies, he bought a large supply of whale oil, and not just for the lanterns.

Later that winter, Penelope delivered a healthy baby boy, who they named Enoch in memory of Zachariah’s and Ezekiel’s father, the first Culverin in America. By then Abigail was effectively a second wife to Jacob. She continued teaching the young couple new ways to pleasure each other, and Penelope and Abigail also learned how to pleasure each other. Unsurprisingly, by the following summer Abigail herself was in a family way. By then, Martha, a well-developed and precocious young lady, announced that she had no intention of being married off to some farmer’s son in town; she intended to become one of Jacob’s wives, also. That startled the others, but just briefly. Abigail and Penelope began teaching Martha how to please Jacob, and he broached her as soon as the first two women agreed to it. Lizzie joined in a year later.

The Culverins prospered. Jacob had a keen eye for horses and was a shrewd trader, and he quickly earned a reputation for breeding and trading fine horses. He also found an old copper pot still that Lizzie’s father had brought to the farm, but he had died before ever putting it to use. Jacob set it up and taught himself to make a mash and operate a still. By the end of their first full year on Culverin Hill, Jacob could produce a passable moonshine. From there it was a short step to a decent whiskey that he could sell in Springwater. Horses and whiskey proved to be highly sought-after Culverin Hill commodities over the years.

On his sixteenth birthday, Abigail pronounced that Jacob was the Master of Culverin, a title her late husband Ezekiel had joked about when he was talking about bringing the family together. It was a title his father had mentioned as belonging to the family back in England before they had emigrated. An eyebrow or two might have been raised in Springwater when the title was mentioned, but Jacob already had a reputation as a man not to be trifled with. He was full grown by then, strong and smart, and he had earned a full measure of respect from the townspeople he dealt with.

That wasn’t to say it was easy. There always seemed to be some young buck who thought he could take young Jacob down a notch. A few tried to rob the isolated farm and ended up being dragged off and dumped in the woods at the top of the hill. Jacob posted a sign at the base of the hill stating, ‘No Trespassing Allowed - Entrance By Invitation Only!’ Lizzie posted a sign of her own underneath it that read, ‘Go Ahead! Try It! Coyotes Have To Eat Too!’ Jacob simply smiled and shook his head in amusement when the girl showed it to the others.

The only serious trouble came when Jacob and a few of the younger women went into town for supplies one day. Enoch had been five at the time, and he had pestered Lizzie and Martha to take him with them. While Jacob was in Moseby’s General Merchandise and Emporium, three men took an unhealthy interest in Martha and Lizzie, who had both grown into beautiful young women. Enoch tried to protect his aunts but ended up being knocked to the ground in the process. Jacob heard the commotion and came out of the store to confront the three bravos. Mister Moseby followed him, and a few others on the street stopped to watch.

“What’s your name?” Jacob asked the nearest man.

“What fer?’, was the reply.

Jacob smiled and said, “I like to know the names of the men I kill. It seems more neighborly.”

The other man laughed and said, “Fuck off, boy. Move away or you’re going to get hurt.” He sneered at Jacob, and he and the nearest man put their hands on their belt knives.

Jacob nodded and looked at the third man. “You backing their play?”

“Yep,” was the simple answer.

“You’ll die, too. I hope you have money for the undertaker, because I’ll leave you to rot in the street otherwise.”

That brought a barking laugh from the third man, and the first two pulled their knives.

The fight ended almost as soon as it started. Jacob was strong and fast, stronger and faster than any of the men. He disarmed each of the first two men and killed them with their own knives, gutting each of them like a river trout. The third man was larger, and he tried to use his strength on Jacob; they wrestled briefly before Jacob twisted his head around so that he was looking back over his shoulder blades.

Despite the violence in their midst, several people stood up for Jacob when the Springwater sheriff hustled up to find out who was killing people in his town. True to his word, Jacob left the bodies in the street. Nobody knew where they were from, so they ended up in an unmarked grave outside the town limits. Not too many people bothered the Culverins after that.

Fortunately for Jacob, his horse breeding and whiskey making were lucrative. After rebuilding the barn, he had workmen come from town to rebuild the cabin, enlarging it. Next on his list were repairs to the fencing and additional barns. A proper still house was added over the years, and a barrel storage room eventually was constructed. Culverin House continued to grow.

Also growing was the family. With four women eagerly and enthusiastically using Jacob for their carnal fulfillment, at least one or two seemed to be with child at any given moment. Even with the most diligent use of the rhythm method, mouths, and arses, Jacob’s potent seed managed to be planted in the willing furrows surrounding him. Only the fact that Culverin Hill was outside of Springwater and the family stayed to themselves up on the hill kept the gossip down. When questioned about where the fathers were, there were stories told of marriages in their husband’s hometowns, and that their husband was travelling out west in search of land, or had died, or had abandoned them. Likewise, if somebody asked about a child, there were stories about a distant relative who had died and left the child in the family’s care. The family continued to grow every year, and Jacob was hard pressed to keep adding rooms to the cabin!

Jacob proved to be a very wise man as far as the women of his household were concerned. While it was never explicitly stated, the general rule was that while the Master of Culverin was in charge of everything outside of Culverin House, it was the ladies of Culverin House who were in charge inside the house. Jacob never really determined what method or reasoning was in place to schedule which women were in his bed in the evening, but he certainly relished the diversity. No matter how hard he worked during the day, his evening labors were just as great, and even more appreciated.

Jacob and the ladies produced several sons and daughters, and the women oversaw their education and upbringing. Again, Jacob acted as Penelope, Abigail, Martha, and Lizzie told him to. They considered a proper husband a husband who did what his wife (or wives in this case) told him to. When his wives deemed their daughters old enough to join in the family pleasures, they instructed the girls in doing so. Likewise, when the boys were considered old enough to join in, the wives taught the young men everything they needed to know. In a way, Jacob was happy at that; although he enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh as much as any man, by that time there were so many women needing satisfaction and attention that he needed all the help he could get!

Life wasn’t perfect. Penelope died in childbirth after ten years, taking their second daughter with her. Lizzie’s oldest boy died falling from his horse when he was eight. Another couple of children died from the routine maladies of the era. Still, all in all, life was good, and both the family and the farm grew and prospered.

 

Chapter 3 - Retribution

Monday, May 16, 1814

All this Jacob contemplated as he wandered out his front door onto the porch that fateful evening. It was a warm summer night, though the air was heavy with the impending storm. With any luck, he’d be able to sit out on his chair and enjoy a sip or two of Culverin Mist, the very expensive and very aged whiskey that was his finest spirit. Instead, the ladies of Culverin House had somewhat different plans for him. He filled his shot glass with his whiskey, but then put the cork back in and set the bottle on the porch behind him.

“It’s been a long day, Jacob,” commented Abigail. She was the first out of the door and she had changed out of her dress into a very simple nightshift.

Jacob smiled at his aunt, his second wife. Though she was now in her late forties, she was still a beautiful woman, and was as lusty as the women in the family half her age or less. “A long day, Abigail.”

She began unbuttoning her shift. “It’s powerful warm, too.”

“Powerful warm,” he agreed as she stripped off her shift. Her breasts were as large and firm as when he had first tasted them twenty years prior, and the rest of her showed little sign of aging or childbirth. She came over to him and began to undo his shirt.

Next out the door was Lizzie, also in her shift, which she immediately began to remove. She reached down and groped his stiffness through his trousers. “It looks like a long night ahead,” said Lizzie.

“Some stiffness coming on?” commented Abigail.

Jacob snorted and rolled his eyes and sipped his whiskey while assisting as he could.

The winner in the little contest turned out to be Charity, Abigail’s second daughter, who came out of the house onto the porch and pushed Jacob down into his seat. She was in a family way, but that didn’t stop her from stripping off her night shift, and then kneeling in front of Jacob. She helped him out of his boots and trousers, and then proceeded to open her mouth and take his shaft between her lips. Abigail and Lizzie laughed as Jacob groaned with pleasure, and they sat down in chairs to each side. They pleasured themselves while Charity suckled Jacob to fulfillment.

Afterwards, Jacob smiled down at the young woman. She was about six months along, but nobody was sure who the father was. It could have been Jacob, but Enoch had certainly been with all the women, as had Jethro, Jacob’s and Martha’s son. Charity enjoyed all their attentions. Indeed, one of the household jokes was that Charity seemed to believe that doing her chores involved pulling her skirt to her waist. She smiled up at him and asked, “Who’s in your bed tonight, Jacob?”

“Charity, you should know by now that I’ll be the last person in the family to learn that!” he replied with a barking laugh. “I might be the Master of Culverin, but inside the house I think I’m the Mistress of Culverin!”

Martha came out the door in her own shift, which she quickly removed. “Charity, it’s not as if you don’t get plenty of attention from the other men in this household. Now, move out of the way, you little wench!” As soon as Charity was out of the way, she turned her back to Jacob and settled himself in his lap, straddling him in reverse. “If you want to be useful, Charity, get that shaft straight and in a place I might enjoy it,” she said. Charity laughed and gave her father a quick suckle, and then set his cock at the entrance to Martha’s cunny. Martha took care of getting him into place. “Thank you, Charity. Since you took care of him earlier, I’m sure I’ll get a nice long ride out of him now!” said Martha. The others laughed at this, and Martha began moving on top of Jacob, who simply leaned back in his chair and enjoyed himself.

It was only after Martha and Jacob had finished coupling with Jacob spewing his seed into Martha’s juicing cunny that anybody noticed the man marching across the lawn towards them. Abigail said, “Jacob?” while pointing. Charity picked up her shift from the porch and pulled it around herself, and then passed the others their shifts.

Only Jacob stayed seated, staring at the man approaching. Somebody was waving around a sword and a pistol, and it seemed a better idea to find out who it was. He could get dressed after he killed him, whoever he was. After a few more seconds, however, Jacob realized who it was and stood up to confront him. Charity tried to hand him his pants, but he ignored her for the moment.

“Playfair, what in tarnation do you think you are doing?” A split-second flick of his eyes took in the approaching weather. The storm was getting closer; the sky was lit up by lightning flashes and thunder could be heard coming closer.

Playfair marched up to the porch, stopping a few feet away. “Blasphemers! Idolaters! Fornicators! God will punish you! You will spend eternity in the Pit! You shall be cast down! Repent! Repent!”

“Playfair, have you lost your mind? I want you off my property now!”

“Blasphemer! Fornicator! You shall suffer torment for eternity!”

It went on in this fashion for several minutes more, with Playfair incoherently demanding the Culverins repent, and the Culverins staring in disbelief. Jacob managed to take his trousers from Charity and slip them on and motioned for the women to move away. If one of them could slip away, they might be able to find one of the boys, who could take care of this fool before he did something stupid. Meanwhile, the storm kept getting closer; it would only be a few more minutes before it hit the house.

“Playfair, you fool! Get out of here! What the hell do you think you are doing, waving a sword around in the middle of a thunderstorm! You’ll meet your Maker without my assistance! Now, get the hell off my property!” Jacob thundered, yelling over the storm.

That was not to be, however. Reverend Playfair continued waving his sword and pistol around, and the storm came closer. Suddenly, the most improbable thing occurred. Lightning came down from the sky, striking Playfair’s sword, which he was holding in his right hand and pointing at the sky. The unimaginable force of the lightning killed the preacher immediately, but it was worse than that. Even though he hadn’t cocked the pistol in his left hand, it was pointed in that instant directly at Jacob. The lightning set off the charge in the barrel, firing the pistol and sending the lead ball at Jacob Culverin.

The force of the shot slammed Jacob back into his chair, knocking him backwards. He was already dead; the ball having gone through his heart in an instant. The ball continued, out the back of his body and through the glass of the front window, only stopping when it hit a lamp in the parlor, exploding it. Within seconds the parlor was ablaze. Jacob’s blood poured out through the massive hole in his back, dripping down through the porch and soaking into the ground beneath. By the time the fire was put out, it had baked into the soil.

Nobody noticed the old man standing at the edge of the woods, there to collect a soul he was owed. He was disappointed, however, in that the soul he had come to collect was but a shadow of Jacob’s entirety. Much more had spilled into the soil with Jacob’s blood and had become part of Culverin Hill.

While Jacob had been confronting Reverend Playfair out front of the house, his eldest sons Enoch and Jethro were in one of the barns, but they weren’t alone. Their sister Mary was with them, and she was in the process of teasing them. Her dress was already off, tossed onto a hay bale, and she was slowly working on the buttons of her shift. Both Enoch and Jethro were slowly taking off their shirts while watching Mary closely. Blonde and blue-eyed, Mary was a truly beautiful girl, tall and regal in bearing, slender but with large breasts, and a mischievous look on her face.

Suddenly their sport was interrupted by a blinding light from outside and a monstrously loud crashing sound. The three looked at each other in consternation and stopped undressing. Next was heard the screams of women, and they all ran to the barn door. Enoch was the first out, and he stared at a veritable vision from hell. Lightning was crashing to the ground all around them, there was the smoking body of a man in the yard, several half-naked women pulling another body off the porch, and flames were flickering from the house. Enoch ran to the house, followed by Jethro; Mary stayed behind to get dressed.

As soon as he got to the porch, Enoch realized the body the women were pulling was his father. Enoch immediately took charge, pulling his father’s body off the porch, and then rushing into the burning house. He ran through the parlor and chased all the children out through the kitchen. Then he ran back to the parlor. He found Jethro kicking the windows out and throwing anything burning outside. They didn’t think they would be able to put out the flames, but they had to try.

The only thing that saved the home was the torrential rain from the thunderstorm. The damage was still considerable. The porch was destroyed, as was the parlor, and the roof over both sections burned through. The rest of the house was filled with smoke, and it would take massive cleaning and rebuilding to make Culverin House livable. It wasn’t until the morning that the exhausted family was able to stop.

Jethro, his face blackened with smoke, looked at his half-brother and croaked out through smoke-damaged vocal cords, “Enoch, what now?”

Enoch wiped his face, which merely smudged the blackness on his face, and then answered, “We need to bury Pa.”

Jethro nodded. “What about that preacher out in the yard? You want me to hitch up a horse and drag him out into the woods? Coyotes have to eat, too, just like Aunt Lizzie says.”

At that, Enoch got a hard look on his face. “No, that ain’t in my plans. Just wrap him up in some old grain bags for the time being. Right now, I want to get Pa buried. You take a few of the kids and start digging a hole in the plot. We’re going to have to move out of the house into the barns for a bit. I need to start on that.”

Jethro looked at Enoch for a moment, and then nodded. “Yes, sir.”

It was a long day. By early afternoon, Jethro and some of the others had dug a grave in the family burial plot, a spot to the left of the roadway down the hill. It could be seen from the house, without being obtrusive. Family members who had passed were laid to rest, with a marker from a stonemason in town in place for each of them. After giving everybody a chance to wash up and change their clothing, Enoch led the family service, and was thankful only his father had died or been hurt, and nobody else.

Abigail, Lizzie, and Martha pulled Enoch to the side afterwards. There would be time for grieving soon enough, but another problem needed to be solved first. Abigail asked, “Enoch, what do you plan for that fellow out in the yard? He’s going to start getting gamey in another day or two.”

Enoch nodded tiredly. By that point, he had heard what had happened on the porch and how the preacher from town had decided to save the family and how he had killed Jacob. “It’s too late to do anything today. I am taking him into town tomorrow and finishing this. One way or another, I am finishing this.”

Martha gasped, and Lizzie asked, “Enoch, what do you mean?”

“I don’t know yet, not completely, but I plan to finish this tomorrow.” Enoch shrugged. “Like I said, one way or another.”

Abigail looked at Lizzie and Martha, her fellow sister-wives. There was an unspoken conversation among the three, and then Abigail looked at Enoch. “Enoch, you’re the Master of Culverin now. We’ll do what you say, but I want you to go into the barn and get some sleep. You look awful tired. Get some sleep and we can talk some more tonight.”

Enoch nodded. “You’re right. We all need some sleep. Let the others know, too.” He turned and headed towards one of the barns, where he found an old horse blanket. He wrapped it around himself and lay down in some hay. He was asleep even before he managed to wrap the blanket around himself.

When Enoch woke, it was dark out, but several oil lanterns were lit. He looked around and found that the barn had been converted into a temporary home, with the animals moved out and some of the furniture moved in from the undamaged portion of Culverin House. Enoch also noticed that everybody had washed up and dressed in clean clothes, everybody but him. He still stank of the fire and his hands and face were still black with soot. Martha was sitting in her favorite rocking chair, rocking and watching over him. “What time is it?” he asked.

“It’s late, but it’s still Tuesday,” she replied. “You need to get out of those clothes and wash up.”

“Maybe later. I need to check on things.”

She smiled at him. “You know the rules, Enoch. This is the new Culverin House, at least until we rebuild the old one. Outside of the house, you’re the Master of Culverin. Inside,” she waved a hand around at the barn, “you’re just the Mistress of Culverin. Abigail, Lizzie, and I are in charge.”

Enoch snorted out a laugh. “Just so I don’t have to wear a dress. Alright, I’ll wash up and change. We got any water and clothing?”

Martha nodded. “All the comforts of home, assuming your home is a barn.” After Enoch climbed to his feet, she pointed out what had been done. “We’ve begun washing some of the clothing and hanging it up to dry. You can clean up over in the horse trough. I had some of the kids cleaning it up, so the water’s fresh, but cold. You’ll live. There’s a bar of soap there, too. You know where the privy is. The kitchen is now over in the corner. Everyone else has been sleeping or cleaning up. You’re the last one, Enoch.”

Enoch nodded. “Pa always said he wasn’t all that important around here. Now I guess I’m not either,” he said with a smile.

Martha asked, “Enoch, what are you planning to do?”

“Right now? I’m planning to take a bath. Want to help?” Enoch smiled at his cousin. Martha had frequently bathed Enoch as a child, and he had returned the favor when he was older.

“This isn’t a joke, Enoch.”

“No, it ain’t,” he agreed. Enoch began stripping off his clothing, but there was nothing sexual about it. It wasn’t a time for that. He didn’t say anything until he was down to his trousers. Then he looked at Martha and said, “It’s like I told Abigail earlier. We need to end this, one way or another. I’m taking that damn preacher into town tomorrow morning, and finish this.”

“One way or another.”

“That’s what I said, one way or another.”

Martha shook her head. “Don’t do anything rash. Don’t go starting something,” she warned.

Enoch finished stripping down to his skin. Some of the family members watched, but nobody said anything. Enoch looked at Martha and argued, “Martha, I ain’t going to be starting something. Something has already started. I am planning on finishing it.”

“Enoch, I want you to take Jethro with you.” Enoch looked like he wanted to argue, but his cousin held up a hand to stop him. “Enoch, you know I am right. How often did you back up your father on something or other? You might be the Master of Culverin, but you aren’t the only Culverin. Jacob used to say we were stronger as a family. You heard him say that, I know you did. Take Jethro.”

“I’ll think on it, Martha.”

“Enoch…”

It was Enoch’s turn to hold up a hand. “I’ll think on it.” He turned away and grabbed the bar of soap.

Enoch bathed silently in the cold water, rinsing twice to get all the soot and smoke off. When he was finished, he found Jethro standing there with some clean clothes. “Your ma send you over to argue with me.”

“You think that’d be likely to work?” Enoch shook his head but didn’t reply. Jethro continued, “No, I just want to know the specifics for when we get into town.” He hooked a thumb towards the outside.

“You planning on going in with me, huh?”

“No, we’re planning on going in with you.”

Enoch raised an eyebrow at that. “Just who is the we you are talking about?”

“Willie and James.” Willie was the oldest son of Jacob and Lizzie, and James was the oldest son of Jacob and Abigail.

Enoch simply nodded in agreement. “Maybe so, Jethro, maybe so.”

Mary came over, followed by Faith, Charity’s older sister. “If you’re going, so are we.”

Enoch didn’t say anything, but Jethro protested. “Like hell! We ain’t taking no women on this!”

Mary ignored him, and said to Enoch, “I ride as good as you, Enoch, and Faith is almost as good, and we’re both better shots than Willie or James. You know it, too.”

Enoch looked at the two young women. Mary was right. Jacob had delighted in teaching all his children how to ride and shoot. He looked at his three half-brothers and then back to his half-sisters. “What about your condition?”

“Enoch!” protested Jethro.

Mary ignored Jethro. To Enoch, she said, “I don’t think I’m more than a couple of months along. It’s not a problem.”

Jethro protested some more, but Enoch simply waved him into silence. “We leave first thing in the morning. If four of us are good, six will be better.”

“Enoch!”

“I’m the Master of Culverin now, Jethro, and I expect you to respect that.”

Jethro took a deep breath and nodded. “Shit! Just be careful, Mary. That little feller you’re carrying might be mine!”

“How do you know he’s a boy? And what makes you think he’s yours? Trust me, I’ve had more and better. The younger boys are more active, if you understand me,” she replied.

Jethro rolled his eyes as the others laughed at him. Enoch pulled his trousers on and said, “We’re riding out at first light. Jethro, you and Willie are in charge of the horses. James…” Enoch told the others his plans for the morning. Then he found a clean blanket and went back to sleep.

***

Enoch stopped the others about a mile outside of town. They were a grim looking bunch, and nobody was smiling or joking. Mary and Faith were wearing men’s trousers and shirts, rather than dresses, and had jackets and hats just like the others. Enoch had given specific orders as to how they were to be prepared. Each rider had a long gun in a saddle scabbard, either a Brown Bess musket or a Kentucky rifle. They each also had a shotgun, a converted Brown Bess cut down in length and loaded buck-and-ball as Enoch had ordered. Everyone had a pistol or two, and they all had belt knives. A couple of the boys even had trade tomahawks strapped to their saddles.

“Last chance to back out,” Enoch said.

“Nobody’s backing out,” commented Jethro.

Enoch nodded, but continued, “If this goes the way I hope, it ends today, and we all go home this afternoon and start rebuilding. If it goes the other way, well, we probably ain’t going home.” They all knew what he meant; if bullets started flying, the six of them wouldn’t be able to take on the entire town. They might take a good number with them, but the survivors in town would hit Culverin Hill with blood in their eyes and burn the family out.

Mary said, “Faith and me, we’re going in with you, Enoch.” Faith simply nodded agreement. To the others she said, “Just keep your mouths shut and let Enoch do the talking.” Willie and James nodded along with the others.

“Check your loads and priming, and we’ll just move in. I want to hit the sheriff’s place first, then Mayor Jenkin’s. After that, we’ll just have to see.”

Everybody checked their weapons, and then fell into place with Enoch. Jethro rode beside him, the two girls rode behind them, and then the two youngest boys, Willie and James, each led a packhorse and were last in line. They each carried their shotguns in one hand, butt on a thigh and muzzle pointed upwards. They had grim countenances as they rode into town.

First stop was the sheriff’s office. Springwater wasn’t the biggest town in North Carolina, but it was large enough that they had built a jail and office for the sheriff. Nobody was out front, but it was mid-morning and several people were in the street and staring. Enoch said, “Jethro, you and Mary go in there and get the sheriff out here.”

Jethro and Mary climbed down off their horses after handing their reins to another, and then went inside. There was some brief yelling, but then Jethro reappeared, holding a man by the arm. Mary came after them, closing the door behind her. Sheriff Wilson was a middle-aged man with thinning hair and a short beard. He normally didn’t carry a pistol or long gun but kept a short cudgel in a back pocket. Enoch noticed the cudgel was missing, which was presumably what had led to the yelling earlier.

Sheriff Wilson took in the riders facing him in the street, and then looked at their leader. “Enoch? What in tarnation are you up to, boy? I don’t care how old you are, your pa is going to tan your hide!” Then he noticed the burden on the packhorse nearest him, a body wrapped in old burlap grain bags and tied over the horse. He looked back at Enoch and said, “What the hell’s going on, Enoch. Who is that?”

Enoch lowered his scattergun to point at the sheriff’s head. “That is your preacher, Sheriff. He came up to the house a couple of nights ago and had a fit of whimsy. He thought it would be amusing to kill my pa and try to burn us out. I’m the new Master of Culverin, and from now on you can call me Mister Culverin.”

Wilson looked thunderstruck. Jacob Culverin dead and burned out? Reverend Playfair tied over a packhorse? Armed riders in Springwater? He was so dumbfounded he almost missed what the new Master was asking.

Enoch repeated himself. “I asked where Jenkins is? He’s still the mayor, right?”

“What?”

“Jenkins, he still the mayor? Where’s he at?”

“I don’t know. It’s not like I seen him today. Enoch, what the hell are you up to?”

Enoch ignored the question. He simply thumbed back the cock on the shotgun and said, “Where’s Jenkins? Home? Which one’s his? He between us and the church?”

The sheriff gulped down some bile and answered through suddenly dry lips. He pointed at a large house just off the main street of the town. “He’s probably still at home.”

Enoch nodded. “Fine, we’ll gather him up as we move along. You can start walking down towards the church. Just do yourself a favor and keep your hands where I can see them. I’m not feeling all that trusting at the moment. Probably comes from having to bury my father yesterday, you know.”

Jethro and Mary remounted their horses and they followed Wilson down the middle of the street. By now anybody on the street was staring at them, and people were coming out of their houses and businesses. They stopped near the mayor’s house, and Enoch sent in Jethro and Faith. “I don’t care if he’s buck-ass naked and sporting with the kitchen help, get him out here.”

The pair handed off their reins and walked through the gate to the house. The front door was locked, but Jethro solved that problem by kicking in the door. There was some more yelling, but then Jethro came out dragging the mayor. He wasn’t buck-ass naked but was dressed to go into town. Following them was a screaming woman, his wife, who was bleeding from her nose.

The screaming stopped when she found herself looking down the barrel of Enoch’s shotgun. Enoch didn’t speak to her, though, but asked Jethro, “I assume this is the mayor’s wife. Any particular reason she needed her nose busted?”

Jethro smiled and nodded towards Faith. When Enoch looked at her, she answered, “She said I wasn’t dressed decent, that I was nothing more than a harlot and a hussy. So, I popped her one.”

Enoch shrugged in understanding, then looked at the mayor’s wife. “I ain’t sure what the connection is between how you’re dressed and whether you’re decent or not. That fellow back there was always dressed nice, but he thought the decent thing to do was kill my pa and try to burn us out. Maybe you should just keep your damn fool mouth shut while we’re in town. Meantime, you two can start walking.” He pointed them to where the sheriff was standing, and the Culverins slowly followed them through town. Along the way, they picked up a few more citizens, notably trying to find some of the church’s deacons.

They also picked up an escort of their own. A few men had seen them and scurried back into their homes, returning a few minutes later with muskets or rifles. They stayed back, and there wasn’t any organization, but it was as Enoch had said earlier. If the bullets started flying, it would get very bloody, very fast.

They stopped in front of the church, with the townspeople clustered in a group and the six Culverins facing them in a line on horseback. Enoch said in a loud voice, “Now that I have your attention, let me explain things in a way that you might just understand. You’ve probably already heard about this from talking to yourselves, but I’ll make it official. Willie, return their property to ‘em!”

Willie climbed down off his horse and went to the packhorse with Playfair draped over it. He pulled a heavy knife and cut through the ropes holding the body in place, then gave it a good yank and pulled him off the horse. The body, still wrapped, fell to the ground, and the horse skittered sideways away from it.

Enoch continued, “That there is your preacher, the good, high, and mighty Reverend Playfair. Reverend Playfair came out to our place Monday night and announced we weren’t godly enough for the good people of Springwater. He had an answer to that, though. He shot Jacob Culverin and set fire to our house! We’re here to return the favor!”

There was a loud murmur of consternation from the crowd, and a voice from the back cried out, “You killed Reverend Playfair!”

Enoch shook his head. “We killed nobody. God struck him down with a bolt of lightning. Sheriff, you check that body. He’s got the same number of holes in him we all start out with. We ain’t added any extras.” Enoch motioned Wilson to go to the body, and Willie cut the ropes wrapping the grain bags around him.

Examining a two-day-old body was not what the sheriff had in mind when he ate breakfast that morning, but he managed to keep his gorge down. It only took him a couple of minutes to realize that Playfair had neither been shot nor stabbed, and that he had some awfully peculiar burn marks on him. He stood up and shook his head. “He wasn’t shot or stabbed,” he announced. To Enoch he asked, “You say he was hit by lightning?”

“As God is my witness, he caught himself a thunderbolt. Maybe God doesn’t think his preachers should go around killing people.”

“Damnation!”

Enoch turned to the youngest Culverin boys. “Willie, James, finish it.”

James climbed down off his horse and the two young men went to the packhorse that James had been leading. Something bulky was balanced on its saddle, but it was covered by a blanket. James pulled the blanket away, revealing a small keg of black powder. The two wrestled the keg down, and then, while James carried the keg, Willie pulled out the bung and they began laying a trail of powder from the road up to the front door of the church. The cries of anguish and disbelief grew louder, but it didn’t stop the two boys. Willie kicked in the front door and the two went inside, continuing to lay down a trail of powder. They returned a minute later.

“Ready when you are, Enoch,” said James.

“Get your striker ready.”

“You can’t do this! This is a house of God!” cried out one of the deacons, a portly man who ran a livery stable.

It was Jethro who answered. He pointed his shotgun at the deacon and said, “I hear tell he’s got a passel of ‘em, so I guess he’ll just have to move out for a bit. Sort of like how my ma and sisters have had to move out of our house into a barn.”

Enoch said, “James, you know what to do.”

James nodded and knelt by the powder trail. He sparked the striker until the powder caught. Then he stood up and mounted his horse quickly; it’d be easier to control when the powder in the keg went up. A trail of sparks and smoke slowly ran up the walk towards the church. A minute later there was a loud explosion, and the simple wood frame building flew apart into pieces. A small fire began in the center of the debris.

Debris was still raining down when Enoch looked over at the deacons. He picked out the leader and said, “Now, I reckon that this can go one of two ways. We can call it even. My pa is dead, and our house is burned, and your preacher is dead, and his house is gone. We call it even and let it go. The other way ain’t going to be very pleasing to anybody, but we’re prepared to see it through to the end. It’s your call, deacon.”

The deacon looked at Enoch carefully, ignoring the hoo-raw around him. He had known Jacob Culverin for many years and had always considered him a tough but fair man. He’d also known Enoch almost as long and had always thought he’d been cut from the same cloth as his father. “The deacons have no interest in any more bloodshed, Mister Culverin.”

Enoch gave a silent sigh of relief, and then turned towards the mayor. “Jenkins, you heard the deacon. I would strongly advise you and Sheriff Wilson listen to him.” He turned back to the deacon and added, “I would also strongly advise that the next preacher you hire know enough to leave some people alone.” The deacon nodded in understanding.

Enoch looked at his family and gave a silent nod towards the road. The others followed him as he rode back the way they had come, but nobody took their shotguns off full cock until they got out of town. It was mid-afternoon before they found themselves riding up the hill and finding the rest of the family waving to them. Then they could breathe easily. The six of them rode up to the family and climbed down.

Amid the excitement, it was Abigail who asked Enoch, “Is it finished?”

He nodded tiredly. Now that he was home, his nerves were taking over. “Should be.”

“Well, while you were out, we cleaned up some more and built us a kitchen in the corner. I had the boys pull the stove out of the kitchen and set it up. You all need some food. We have beans, fresh bread, some smoked ham, whatever you want, Enoch. You need to eat something.”

“Sounds good, Aunt Abigail. Give me a moment, though.” He went out of the barn and over to the still house, where they kept a small stash of bottles. He returned with a small bottle of Culverin Mist and went to where the other five riders were still standing, regaling their younger siblings.

“Enoch?” asked Mary, looking at him from where she was leaning against Jethro.

Enoch motioned them to him. “I’m proud to have ridden with you all today, all of you. You’ve all got stones, even those of you who don’t.” Faith snorted in amusement at that. “You’ve got grit. From here on, we watch over this place and the family. When somebody has to go into town, I want a couple of us riding with them. We’re the new guardians of Culverin Hill.”

There was a quiet murmur of assent to this, and Enoch passed around the whiskey. Everybody took a sip and passed it on. He turned to where Jethro was standing, an arm around Mary. “Jethro! You’re in charge of figuring out a guard. I want one of us six keeping watch every night until I say otherwise. You sort it out and make a schedule.”

Jethro nodded calmly at the new Master of Culverin. “I’ll handle it, Enoch. I’ll speak to you on it later.”

Enoch nodded back, and then said, “Then get some supper and get some rest. Starting tomorrow we rebuild Culverin House.”

The others moved away, towards the new kitchen in the barn. Enoch went over to Abigail. For the next ten minutes, he told her what had happened, then had to repeat it to Lizzie and Martha when they came up carrying a plate of food for him. Abigail said, “You need to eat.”

“I need to sleep.”

“Eat first, sleep later.”

Enoch sat down on a stool and silently took the plate. Though smoked ham and beans was one of his favorite meals, his nerves were still so tight the meal was tasteless to him. Once he was finished, he headed to a stall in the barn that Abigail pointed him to. Fresh straw was laid, and a clean blanket was laid atop it. “Wake me next year,” he told Abigail, who had followed him.

Waiting for him in the stall was Prudence, Lizzie’s youngest girl, just fourteen and only just broached by Jacob a month ago. Since then she had been enthusiastically learning from both the boys and the girls of the family. She was just wearing a nightshift and was sitting on the blanket.

Enoch smiled at his cousin. “Prudence, I don’t think tonight is going to be a good night for this. I’m a mite tired.”

Prudence didn’t answer, but just smiled and began taking off her shift. It was Abigail who answered for her. Enoch turned towards her and noticed she was removing her dress as well. “I think you might be wrong about that, Enoch.”

Enoch just smiled and shook his head. He was already learning what his father had commented on more than a few times in his life. The Master of Culverin might run things outside of Culverin House, but the ladies ran things inside. He allowed the women to help him out of his clothes and lay down on the blanket. Sleep would come later.


The Influence Of Culverin House Part 1

 

Chapter 1 - Jessica, Andrew, & Toby

Present Day

“Are you boys ready to go?” called out Jessica Parnell, standing at the bottom of the steps.

“Coming, Mom!” came back a loud yell from down the hallway to the bedrooms. Jessica continued standing at the foot of the steps, waiting for her sons to come down, and was on the verge of summoning them a second time when she stopped. One of the bedroom doors opened with a crash and then came a thunder of feet as her two teenage sons rumbled down the hall and down the stairs. “We’re here!” said the older of the two.

“Toby, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times, don’t go slamming the doors!” she replied.

“Highly unlikely, Mom. No interior door would be able to take the strain of opening and closing a million times.” interjected the other boy.

“Oh, aren’t you just the smarty pants!” Jessica said as she turned towards her youngest child, Andrew. Behind her, Toby gave his brother a thumbs-up sign, grinning widely. She turned back towards Toby. “Come on, let’s go.” As soon as she turned away, Andrew gave his brother a smile and a wink as well.

Jessica led her sons to the garage, hitting the inside switch to the garage door opener as she entered the room. The garage still smelled of grass clippings - that morning both boys had been required to mow the lawn and trim the weeds. Now, Saturday afternoon, they would be taking a bike ride.

The boys pulled their bikes out of the corner and pushed them towards the door. It was then that Toby noticed their mother, standing stock still in the garage, holding her own bike upright and staring at the back wall of the garage. She was staring at a fourth bicycle. Toby cursed himself. When he and Andrew had been moving the lawnmower out of the garage, he had needed to move the bikes, and had ended up placing their mother’s near that fourth bike.

“Take this.” he whispered lowly to Andrew, who silently grabbed the handlebar. He was watching the byplay intently.

Toby walked over to his mother, smoothly slipping between her and the bike against the wall. “Here, Mom, let me help.” With one hand on her bicycle, he gently placed the other on her upper arm and moved her towards the garage door.

Jessica’s eyes naturally moved to follow Toby and the bicycle, breaking the lock they had on the fourth bike, and the moment was past. “Oh, thank you, honey, but I can do it.” She began pushing the bike out the door.

Toby glanced over at his brother and rolled his eyes. Andrew just nodded in understanding, glancing briefly at the fourth bike, and then back. They grabbed some clip-on water bottles and a few other items and followed her out the door. There wasn’t much either boy could say, the fourth bike had been their father’s. He had often ridden it with them, right up until his death, one year and a week ago today.

“Where are we going, Mom?” asked Toby.

“Well, I hadn’t really thought about it, sweetie. Did you guys have any ideas?”

Andrew repressed a grin as he looked at his brother. It would be Toby’s decision no matter what, it always was. Andrew didn’t particularly mind that, it was just the way things were, and was probably for the best.

“Uh, well, last Saturday we rode out east of town. Maybe this week we could ride west.” replied Toby.

Jessica nodded at this. “Uh, maybe take a ride around Culverin Hill and back again?”

Toby mentally figured distances and nodded. “Sure, we can do that.” He hit the switch on the door opener and scooted out as the door descended. “Lead the way, Mom.”

Jessica climbed onto her bicycle and adjusted her safety helmet, then kicked off and pedaled down the driveway. Her sons gave her a few moments then followed along behind.

Andrew followed along about ten feet behind his mother. As Toby pulled alongside, he tilted his head towards him and said lowly “We need to get rid of that bike.”

“Oh, man, it’s like brand new! It’s only been ridden once!” replied Toby, pitched low so his mother couldn’t hear. The bike had been Jessica’s birthday present to Andrew, Sr., given to him only a week before his death.

“I know that, don’t I?” commented Andrew. Toby simply shrugged and sat back on his bike seat. Taking his hands off the handlebars, he held them up in a sign of resignation. Andrew simply nodded and continued “Okay, so if we don’t get rid of it, we hide it. Next time we work in the garage, we put it in the back and cover it with a tarp.”

Toby nodded agreement. “Time to catch up.”

Their father’s death had devastated the family. Thirty-six was much too young for a husband and father of two to die, but at least it had been quick; Andrew, Sr. had been run over by a beer truck driven by a driver who had partaken of too much of what he was transporting. Since his problems were known by the company he worked for, a seven-figure settlement materialized practically before his body was cold. Suddenly what had been a very average middle-class family with a mortgage and maxed-out credit cards found the mortgage paid off, the credit cards paid in full, and enough cash to send both boys to any college they could ever want to go to, for as many degrees as they would ever want.

The family dynamic had changed dramatically. Jessica had been devoted to her husband and children. She had met her husband in high school, had married him upon graduation, and had quickly had two children. Only the need for a second income had taken her out of the house; she would have been very happy to have stayed at home and been the most perfect housewife and mother possible.

Her husband’s death had almost destroyed her. The days after the accident had gone by in a daze. It hadn’t improved after the funeral. Jessica had shut down, barely able to even maintain basic personal hygiene. After a second week of leftover casseroles and takeout, the two boys had talked it over in whispers and revolted. It was Toby, the more outspoken leader of the pair, who had taken charge, calling their mother down from her room and sitting her on the couch. Andrew had stood next to him as Toby had explained that she had to get on with life, they all had to, and that she was going to have to make some changes.

It had been sufficient for Jessica to break out of her funk. She was a naturally submissive sort, perfectly content to let her husband lead the family, and in that moment Toby had stepped into the role. In retrospect, it was something she should have predicted - he was a natural leader! Toby wasn’t stupid, but he wasn’t an intellectual either. He was a well-built and muscular boy, almost six-foot-tall, and was already the captain of his high school junior varsity basketball team. When she thought about it, Jessica would smile, as she considered he would probably end up in sales or politics.

That was a preview of Tales of Culverin Hill. To read the rest purchase the book.

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