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Meet Me Monday: Ambrose Carmichael

Thought I might give this a try.... I saw something similar on another author's page. He would highlight one of his characters each week and give his readers a chance to meet/question/interact with the featured character.... not sure how well this will work, but, we'll give it a try. Feel free to comment or question.....

 Meet Ambrose Carmichael, husband to Charlotte and father of Emily and Esther. He is a prominent businessman and land owner who becomes a guilt-driven stationhouse master on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

              Ambrose and his wife slid into the basement, covering the distance from the steps to the basement door in less than five paces. They threw the bolt back and cracked the door open just in time to see two stooped shadows making their way across the exposed land from the protective tree line. The rustling of bare feet hardly made enough sound to reach their ears. Such were the practiced feet of the escaping.
                The Carmichael’s met their charges at the door, with outstretched blankets. The two shadows slipped inside. They shivered and hobbled toward the inviting fire, collapsing against the dirt floor, breathing deep the warm air that promised a night without exposure, a night without the sounds of fear rising to meet them.
                The sounds of less-thunderous footsteps came rushing down into the basement. Woken by the running pace of their parents, the Carmichael girls fulfilled their portion of the routine. They gathered what they could first get their hands on in the kitchen and brought down with them, water, bread, cheese—enough to fill empty bellies for the night. Anything else would have to wait until the morning. The first order was to make everyone comfortable for the night and to make sure no one else knew of the Carmichael’s secret guests.

                Only moments had passed when a heavy knock penetrated the darkness of the house, penetrated the silence in the basement. The hushed whispers became strangled gasps. Their muted movements became pantomime motions, pretended actions without accusing sound.
                Again the knocking pierced. Ambrose Carmichael, who’d been kneeling to pass more blankets to their huddled guests, stood upright. His back stiffened as the thunderous knocking rumbled down the basement steps a third time.
                The hour was too late for callers.
                The knock was too loud for a friend’s hand.
                With deliberate, rehearsed movements, Ambrose Carmichael turned to the basement steps. He turned to the path that would lead him to the intrusive knocking. His jaw was set. But, as he moved forward, a tense twitching pulsed through his back teeth. For all his practiced movements and rehearsed speeches, he couldn’t coax his jaw to remain calm—the only indicator that the practiced words he spoke might be less than the truth, the only miniscule thing that might give him away.
                As he forced his feet to carry him to the door, he breathed a silent prayer in gratitude for the darkness—perhaps his throbbing jaw would go unnoticed. 


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