Lucinda Matthews' life is perfect. Honey-blond with piercing gray eyes, she is Huntsville, Alabama's most admired debutante, not to mention the twinkle in the eye of her beloved fianc ' , Ben Bradley. Then the Civil War invades the South, and Lucinda's life. Ben joins the Confederate forces as enemy troops occupy Lucinda's home. She finds solace in the arms of Yankee Major Seth Russell. But should she love this devilishly attractive man, the antagonist of everything she holds dear Without his help, her father will probably be carried off to a Northern jail. When Ben returns, Lucinda must finally decide what it is her heart truly wants, and which man she loves: her childhood sweetheart, or her conqueror
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December 01, 1999
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Excerpt from More Than Conquerors by Kay Cornelius
Lucinda Matthews stood on her tiptoes, trying to see over the heads of the people who lined the street around the Huntsville depot on this fair October day in 1861. The early autumn wind tugged at her bonnet, and impatiently she clapped a hand to the top of her head. An impromptu brass band made up of townspeople with varying degrees of talent played a military march with more spirit than skill and were wildly cheered when they ended their piece.
All eyes turned to the Memphis and Charleston Railroad Roundhouse, where the gray-clad troops of the Huntsville Rifles had formed up and now marched to the depot.
Lucinda leaned forward, her eyes eagerly scanning the ranks. Sunlight fired the officers' sabers and glinted on the brass buttons of the company's new gray uniforms. She had no trouble picking out the young lieutenant she had come to bid farewell, the tallest man in the company, but he was still too far away to see her in the crowd.
A makeshift speaker's platform had been erected on the south side of the depot, and a few local dignitaries sat near it, waiting for the company to halt. The crowd cheered that command as if the group executing it had already performed valorous deeds in the service of the Confederacy. They continued to cheer until Mayor Coltart stood.
Lucinda had heard the man's words before, when her brother Henry had left several months ago to join the Fourth Alabama in Virginia. While the mayor spoke of honor and duty and love of one's homeland, Lucinda kept her eyes on Ben Bradley. He stood with the others in the prescribed parade rest posture, his blue eyes staring straight ahead at a point somewhere above the speaker's head. His blond hair was almost totally hidden by the large hat, complete with feather, that he'd bought after he'd been elected to be one of the two lieutenants in the company.
Had he seen her? Lucinda looked down at her blue-sprigged muslin dress and wished she had something newer, something he had never seen her in, to wear at this last farewell. Once Ben had told her that he liked the dress because its flowers matched her eyes. She had laughed and invited him to look at her eyes, which weren't really blue at all, but a flinty gray.
The mayor finally concluded his flowery and elegant tribute and the band struck up a somewhat ragged rendition of "In Dixie's Land." Someone in front of her moved to speak to someone behind her, and Lucinda pushed forward, her eyes willing Ben Bradley to look her way.
"Ben! Over here!"
Ben Bradley smiled widely, his blue eyes sparkling with excitement, and came over to where she stood, taking both her hands in his.
"I feared you'd be gone before I got here," Lucinda said, suddenly shy.
"You know I wouldn't let the train leave until I told you goodbye," Ben said, never taking his gaze from her face.
"I brought you a ribbon." Lucinda took her right hand from his to reach into her pocket for the multicolored band that all the girls were giving their special beaux to remember them by.
"I'll pin it on my collar," Ben said, taking it from her. "I'm sure it'll bring me back safely."
"Oh, Ben, I hope so!" Lucinda exclaimed. "I... I'll be praying for that."
Ben's smile softened, and he looked at Lucinda so intently that she was sure he was going to kiss her right there, in front of the whole town. He took her bands in his again and squeezed them.
"Don't worry. Our rifles can show those Yankees a thing or two."