Seven Pines or Brandy Station?


My eyes opened on Brandy Station, a fading white wooden building on a hillside that the sun was slowly removing from the glass greenhouse tiles. I remember Brandy Station as a labyrinth but everyone remembers things differently.

Washington Roebling and I escaped the Wilderness together and we wandered for miles, towards the Cumberland, with Roebling stopping to marvel at every bridge we came across along the way. He loved bridges and I’d get tired of him making a fuss over them. He’d swing from the beams and the columns wrapped up in a kind of child-like elation every time we came across one.

Roebling had a varying temper. His moods ranged backwards and forwards from a gentle good humour to a desperate depression, quicker than a ribbon of cold air moves through a heated room.

He was washed into the river and Nancy Weber fished him out of the Old Hickory lock. That was life in Seven Pines. But I was in Brandy Station.

I remember being chased by the Cheyenne through never ending forests while dreaming of 80p soup from the Vivienne Patisserie on the Goldhawk Road. I remember Fredericksburg, Shiloh, Antietam and Appomattox Court House. You can see them all still, in the glass of Aunt May’s greenhouse.

All I want to do now is get to the Albany Post Road. I’m going to stay steady, steadier than a military band on Decoration Day, and if I can’t, then I’ll crawl there.

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