This unpublished novel (working title Sun) follows Hassi, a 15-year-old slave girl from a comfortable Charleston household to the hospital at Fort Moultrie for soldiers and their Seminole prisoners then south to the Georgia piney woods and into Florida in search of her Seminole warrior father.

The novel’s opening:

Fort Moultrie

When the warrior Osceola died, the Seminoles laid a fire, four stout logs placed end to end like wheel spokes, radiating from the center to earth’s four corners. They laid their fire in Moultrie’s yard, their prison, singing the warrior’s soul across the stars. The fourth day, they let the fire burn out. That night Hassi dreams she holds a burning torch to reignite it, yet the ashes prove potent, consuming blaze and torch until her hand is empty. She wakes in the dark, trembling, the damp cell windowless and cold, the winter chill seeping through the brick walls to her bones. She has neither shawl nor coat, only the work dress she wore four mornings ago, filthy now with blood and dirt. She has not been provided a bed or a chamber pot and the stench of her urine and feces burns in her throat. Worse are the images that haunt the dark, what she knows that the Seminole prisoners do not, that wherever their revered warrior’s soul has gone, his body, so resplendently laid out in fine clothing, possessions and weapons at his side, lies now in its grave naked as a newborn, clothes stripped and possessions stolen. Along with the warrior’s head. The last she saw of it was in Moultrie’s surgery, floating in a specimen jar. And because she witnessed what the Seminoles have not and knows what they cannot know, she believes the Americans will kill her.


Turpentine Farm






“Sam Jones Village in Florida” © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, number 41-72-10/89 (digital file# 9050045).