It was the South of the early 1900’s—the time when people from one side of town were not supposed to sit at the table with people from another part of town called “The Quarters” . . . unless no one was looking.
Meet Rachel, the cook for Hortense Clemons, Caroline’s stepmother. Rachel, Caroline’s true mother and best friend, passed through life with her dreams for her grandchildren deferred.
| iStock 12-31-13 © Nicolas McComber|
Rachel learned not to let people know she could read. Smiling, she said all the right things most of the time, but occasionally she spoke her mind. She chose her battles.
In this excerpt Caroline introduces Jacob to Rachel:
“Rachel, this is Jake MacGregor.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Rachel.”
“Same here. Young man, pull up a stool. I’ll pour you some coffee.”
“Madear, could we have cinnamon rolls, please?”
Soon three warm plates, each with a mountain-high roll appeared. Rachel placed two on the table and one on the farthest cabinet counter. She propped her massive arm on the counter to brace herself as she leaned over.
“Oh, come on. Bring your plate and sit here at the table with us,” Caroline insisted.
When Rachel took her food to the table, Jake felt one of his eyebrows raise. He cleared his throat. In his twenty-three years he had never experienced such social awkwardness.
“Go ahead. Sit down,” Caroline whispered.
(Thanks to the anonymous model. Pictures are from iStock as indicated.)