Then Came Faith<br/>

Author: Louise M Gouge
Published: 2006-02-01
Language(s): English
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Inspirational, Romance, Historical Fiction Read Excerpt >

A burst of raucous male laughter sent a chill down Juliana Harris’s spine, but she refused to look toward those responsible. Shielding her face with a white lace parasol, she stood quietly beside her Saratoga trunk on the hot, dirty wharf and wished to be invisible. From time to time, she peeked out from under her parasol and gazed toward the distant street, but she dared not leave her baggage to find a carriage. Where on earth is Miss Randolph?

The ship on which Juliana had arrived just two hours ago had brought some sixty passengers, all of whom seemed to find their friends and transportation with no trouble. Soon they had all dispersed, and yet Juliana searched in vain for the one who had invited her to come to New Orleans. Far down the wharf, several blue-uniformed soldiers appeared to be inspecting cargo, but she could not leave her belongings to ask for their help.

To keep herself calm, she counted the baggage for the third time. One trunk and six boxes of different sizes and shapes. All of them had arrived, but nonetheless, she kept checking.

The afternoon sun lit the wharf, and a hot August breeze scattered the acrid smells of dead fish, oily machinery, and perspiration to every corner. Juliana pulled up her fan from where it hung on her wrist and waved it with vigor in front of her face, so as not to appear as frightened as she felt. Where could Miss Randolph be?

Around her, men of varied hues carried great bundles of cargo to and from nearby ships. Their vulgar language scorched her ears, and their bold glances brought a burning blush to her cheeks.

Lord, please deliver me from this place. I know you didn’t bring me all this way to forsake me.

“I beg your pardon, miss. May I be of assistance?”

Juliana tilted her parasol back. Before her stood a young gentleman in a well-made but tattered white suit. When he lifted his broad-brimmed straw hat and bowed, his curly blond hair fell into a frame around his boyish face. His soft smile and sky-blue eyes exuded kindness, but also revealed weariness beyond his years. He must have suffered horribly during the war. Had he been a soldier?

“I’m sorry, miss, I don’t mean to be forward.” His words poured out like honey, rich and warm and sweet, in a charming, well-bred southern drawl accented with a whisper of French. “However, this is not a safe place for a young lady traveling alone. May I summon a carriage for you?”

Juliana thought her heart might burst right on the spot. What a perfectly. . .perfect young man, an answer to her prayer.

“Why, yes. Thank you so much.”

For the briefest instant, a frown flickered across his handsome face. “May I inquire as to your destination?”

“Why, yes, of course. I’m going to the Garden District to home of Miss Amelia Randolph on First Street. Well, actually, it’s her father’s home. He’s—“

The man stiffened. “I know who he is.” His tone became sharp and dismissive. He turned to three men lounging nearby, the ones whose boisterous laughter had assaulted Juliana’s sensibilities. “Make yourselves useful. Carry these bags out to the street.” He spoke as one used to giving orders.

“Yes, boss. Yessuh.” The men hurried to obey.

Glancing over his shoulder toward Juliana, the man lifted his chin, all kindness gone from his expression. “Follow me, miss.” A slight hiss punctuated his last word, as if he were now reluctant to address her in a proper manner.

“But, wait. . .” If Juliana had not jumped aside, the burly, dark-skinned men might have knocked her down as they gathered her baggage. On the round top of the Saratoga trunk, they balanced three of the smaller boxes. Two men carried it while the third grasped the other three by their ropes. All three hastened to follow the young man, who strode between two long buildings on a walkway toward a busy thoroughfare.

Lord, help me. Had she made a terrible mistake to trust this temperamental person? Now she had no choice but to lift her hoop skirts and run after them all. Arriving breathless at the street, she whispered a prayer of gratitude that the man seemed about to keep his promise.

With an imperious wave of his hand, he summoned a carriage. To Juliana’s relief, the driver appeared reputable, if shabby. What would she have done if her now-reluctant knight had palmed her off on some seedy fellow and sent her to who knows where? Her temper rising at his rudeness, she nonetheless feared to ask why he changed his demeanor toward her, lest he abandon her before the task was completed.

He gave orders to the men, who secured her baggage to the carriage’s rear platform, and rewarded each with a coin.

“Miss.” He thrust out his hand but spoke no further, even when assisting her into the open conveyance. Once she was seated, he handed a coin to the driver. “The Charles Randolph residence.” The curl of his well-formed lips shouted his distaste at speaking the name. Then he turned away.

“Wait. Oh, please, sir, wait.” Still breathless, Juliana panted out the words.

The man wheeled about, his face still wearing a sneer. “You have nothing to fear. This driver is trustworthy.”

“But I must repay your expenditure.” She tried to smile, but her temper pulled her lips into a line. “And surely I may know the name of my gallant knight.”

He breathed out a mild snort. “There’s hardly a need for that.” He lifted his hat and gave her an exaggerated bow. “Good day, miss.” Again he turned and strode away.

“Giddup.” The gray-haired Negro driver slapped the heavy reins against his horse’s bony haunches. The animal leaned into the harness and after a moment the carriage moved forward.

“How incredibly rude,” Juliana muttered as she plopped back against the seat. What a disagreeable man. What an unpleasant beginning to her mission.

Why was that person so discourteous? She had prayed for help and the Lord had sent it. The man appeared to be a gentleman, and her own behavior had been proper when she accepted his assistance. If he thought she was not a lady, he never should have spoken to her in the first place. What on earth ailed the man?

Then Came Faith   by   Louise M Gouge   |   See Bio >
Book 1 of 0 in the Then Came Series.
The Civil War is over, but Juliana's battle to help the South has just begun.

The Civil War is over; Juliana wants to help the South heal and repent of its past…Andre swears never to forgive the North for what they did to his family.

Juliana has traveled to war-ravaged New Orleans to help the people devastated by the conflict. Having been a strict abolitionist who was part of the Underground Railroad, she seeks to help the South understand the transgression of slavery. Andre and Juliana’s attraction is immediate and obvious, but they quickly discover how diverse two people can be in their values and beliefs.

Even in the midst of their warring points of view, Andre cannot help but notice Juliana’s courage and resilience—and remarkable impact. Through the commitment of three former slaves, Andre discovers secrets form his family’s past that force him to face head on his own views of the intrinsic worth and dignity of all people.


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