Henrietta Grafton married Frederick two decades earlier, and she still attended the same church where they were married. As a devout Christian, she occupied her pew up front, nearer to God and the gospel. This position also allowed for visibility. The Graftons loved to be seen as pious and prompt for the morning service, steadfastly arriving half an hour early to greet neighbors and friends, as though the couple owned the stones and stairs of God’s house. They may well have owned them, consistently out-tithing the other congregants so their name always topped the church’s annual donor ledger. No one would dispute the Graftons’ fervent adherence to the Holy Book and the church. For Henrietta, the church was her sole purpose.
Henrietta was the daughter of an itinerant preacher who often preached the medicinal value of gin. Hawking its effects against scurvy and malaria compensated him for the time spent spreading the gospel. Her disturbed mother, on the other hand, displayed both cruelty and neglect toward her child. At a young age, Henrietta vowed she would never marry a man who imbibed spirits, and she would never be like her mother. She failed on both counts. Compounding these failings, a miscarriage, and her inability to have children doused whatever dreams Henrietta may have had for Frederick’s love and devotion. She lost those dreams in her bitter well of self-reproach. What was the necessity of the marital bed if there were to be no children? The church, then, offered her a single-mindedness, an identity, and a safely guarded position of respect in the ranks of the faithful, a position not to be found without the pure force of her will at Grafton Manor and Plantation.
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