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BY MARI ANNE CHRISTIE
Every newspaper editor may owe tribute to the devil, but Harry Wentworth’s bill just came due.
As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?
The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.
BY MARI ANNE CHRISTIE
The Wentworths were founding members of the club, had contributed most of the building fund and many of the Negroes who had built it. Behind the wall to their left, on one of the frame beams, he and Edward had carved their initials when they were seven or so.
Harry’s father—Palmer Harrold Wentworth the Second, called Second since the day his son was born—came through the door from the dining room.
“You have no claim on our family history or this club. I’m sorry I gave you my name.”
His father’s tall, thin frame was tensile as a fencing foil, and his face like the dry husk of a topiary labyrinth, sharp angles and deep lines, compelling, thorny, and difficult to escape. His grey hair, the thick, wiry hair he’d passed down to Harry, and to Harry’s son, was tied in a queue and much thinner after ten years, but his suit looked exactly the same, as did the expression on his face.
“You’ll not be joining anything,” he barked. “You are a damned Yankee and a traitor to the South. Go back to Philadelphia where you belong.”
“Father. It’s lovely to see you in such good spirits.” His half-smile hid wary eyes. “I had assumed from your responses to my past infractions that the shock of my arrival might have killed you.” He raised his glass to his father’s health and took a sip.
The long veins on the sides of his father’s neck distended and began to quiver. “I am long since accustomed to your disregard for your family and position.” His tightly-wound fists were a concession to his better nature. “Your mother and sister are distraught, and you would have them ostracized rather than rein in your propensity for gossip and scandal.”
“My opinions are hardly gossip. Not a year ago, Harper’s called me a national treasure.” Harry turned to the man who had declined his cigar, now two seats away at the bar. The man stuttered and tried to look away, but Harry kept his gaze. “I’m sure you must have read a few of P. H. Wentworth’s opinions. Would you consider them gossip?”
His father was the one who answered: “Your opinions are nothing short of treason. Only your mother’s defense has kept me from calling you out already.”
“I have no such compunction,” Edward spat. Harry remembered Edward had been a hell of a good brawler in the down-rent pubs at Oxford, and he had the same look in his eye now. He might finish off hundreds of Yankees before the war was over, starting with Harry. “Unless you’d like to meet me at dawn, I’d suggest you leave.”
“I try not to do anything at dawn but read the newspaper. But,” Harry offered, “I’d be happy to meet you for supper any evening to renew our acquaintance.” Harry considered his cigar, which might not be in his hand much longer. “Either of you.”
“I am nothing but sorry we ever had an acquaintance. It’s time for you to leave.”
Harry puffed on his cigar, and waited to see if his father or Edward would be the one to bodily throw him out the front door. Before the answer presented itself, two big barmen converged and tried to grab his arms. He yanked himself away, downed the last of his drink, and thumped the glass back onto the bar. “I suppose I shouldn’t bother to come to the house.”
Harry’s father took two threatening steps toward him. “If you contact your mother or sister, I will run you through.”
Harry held his ground without flinching, but a sense of finality imbued his father’s words, such as Harry had never heard in more than fifty years of animosity between them. He drew on his cigar one last time and strategically retreated before his father decided to murder him in cold blood, in broad daylight, before witnesses.
“Anne and your grandchildren send their best,” Harry called over his shoulder. The manager handed him his coat and hat as he reached the door.
Harry had answered his own question, with less trouble than expected. If his own family would cast him out, he couldn’t count on anyone in the Confederacy remembering him fondly.
Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.
Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.
She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.
Links to Mari’s website, blog, books, etc.
Universal Link: www.books2read.com/blindtribute
Mari’s Website: www.MariAnneChristie.com/
Mari Christie Social Media
Author Website & blog: www.MariAnneChristie.com
Amazon Author page:
Wattpad (romance only):
Thanks, Mari, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!