SEPTEMBER 3, 1864, 4 A.M.
SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA
The sleek Sea Breeze, staggered by the point-blank fusillade, now leaned like a drunk on a lamp post. Fireworks spewed from the engine room. Then it slid under the waves, the gold in its hold plunging towards Blackbeard?s wreck whence it was wrested many years before.
Now? only a lifeboat with six survivors, all lost in the sullen silence of their shattered lives. Amelia Beach confronted her own torments: three lives lost, her family fortune gone, the Confederate cause probably scuttled as well.
She ached to follow the ship down?.to quiet oblivion and relief from remorse. But even this meager reverie was thwarted by nuisances of remaining alive: a queasy stomach, the roll of the lifeboat and the sloshing of greasy bilge water into her shoes and icy feet.
Dry shoes. Warm feet. Like a lamp that wouldn?t snuff out, Amelia?s mind flickered with images of home: roast goose, sherry in crystal goblets and candelabras aglow. And there was sister Lucy, pretty as a porcelain doll, imploring Daddy to buy her the cobalt blue booties in the window of Savannah Mercantile.
Now all Amelia could see on the horizon was the gray sea melding into the starless night.