Captain Lee takes a journey to pick up some big clues ... but also makes a tense, dangerous journey into one of the darkest moments of his past ...
To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, day 28, day 28.5, day 29, day 29.5, and day 30!
Before Captain Lee left headquarters, Lieutenant Longstreet noted the tension in his commander. Catching up seven powerful men on the force rattled Captain Lee no more than the previous batch had – knocked off five commissioners and two secretaries and never missed a day of work and probably not any sleep. But this next visit? That was bothering the captain. It was subtle, but it was present.
Captain Lee considered calling the commissioner and explaining why he had changed his mind, and thought that his going to see his next interviewee was not really a good idea. He considered it ten times before suppressing his apprehension permanently and beginning his journey to the Blue Ridge neighborhood of Big Loft, where he had been conceived in his mother's womb, and where, in a fit of heartbroken rage, he had sworn he would never set foot again.
Captain Lee's grandfather, Horace Fitzhugh Lee, had been one of the “Lees of the mountains” that had popped up after the Civil War, and, perhaps, the last of that cut in the family. His eldest son, Hiram, had not wanted the demands of Appalachian life, and had descended to the Blue Ridge to repeat his great-great-uncle's feat: the snagging of a rich heiress. He had found his quarry in Sarah Slocum-Lofton, the only daughter to a very wealthy father. The marriage was made; the father died shortly thereafter, thus endowing the newlyweds with an immense fortune.
Hiram Forster Lee did inherit his parents' shrewdness with resources; he managed the new fortune well and grew it to even greater proportions while raising his firstborn, Sarah Lynn Lee, who for 15 years was an only child. It looked for a moment that she too would be an heiress, but, lo and behold, 15 years after the birth of his firstborn daughter, on came the son Hiram and Sarah had desperately wanted: Henry Fitzhugh Lee, born in 1974. Sarah Lynn was set up for a large dowry, but, Henry would be the heir, and before he was a year old, all had been set in order.
Trust fund and silver spoon in his mouth: that would have been baby Henry's entire fate had not a sadder one overtaken his parents: a fatal car accident. Sarah was engaged to be married and could not take on the crash's sole survivor. So, down came Horace Fitzhugh Lee, and got his grandson, reclaiming his progeny to the mountains.
The Slocum-Loftons on the baby's mother's side were perfectly indifferent to the fact. They had never liked Hiram Lee, for they saw him as the shrewd opportunist he was – but they also had the grandchild they wanted: Sarah Lynn, who was much like her gorgeous but vain and haughty mother. Selene Slocum-Lofton, Sarah Lynn's grandmother, doted on her granddaughter, but never so much as visited her grandson in the hospital after the crash. That became the pattern until their infant grandson became a young man, and decided to marry a Black woman … meaning, potentially, that all that trust fund money from the Slocum-Loftons would someday belong to a … fill in whatever racial slur imaginable.
At that point, the Slocum-Loftons decided to make the worst impression possible on the grandchild they had neglected – but the Lee grandfather and grandson weren't having it. Horace Fitzhugh Lee had been made conservator of the trust since he was his grandson's legal guardian: he knew the terms of the trust backwards and forwards, in and out, and that “irrevocable” meant just that. He stood like a mountain against the Slocum-Lofton legal attacks, knocking them down and then turning the tables, suing the family for harassment on his 17-year-old grandson's behalf. He won, and gave that money to his grandson and his new granddaughter, Mrs. Vanessa Morton Lee.
The Slocum-Loftons would take a horrific revenge when Vanessa died in childbirth. They celebrated for days, and let it be known to those who would tell the heartbroken widower exactly what they thought about it. Fortunately for them, the word got to Horace Fitzhugh Lee first, who intercepted his grandson on his way to the Blue Ridge neighborhood to let it be known what his response was. A change of exactly one minute, and the man who later would be known as the Angel of Death in the service of his country would have been known as a mass murderer. The capacity had been aroused in the wrong setting, and in the wrong way, and the price could have been too steep for everybody.
As it was, the aging grandfather could not get his 18-year-old grandson off the scene fast enough to avoid him publicly disowning his entire Slocum-Lofton heritage, running down the whole racist history of their family and unearthing all the other messes in their closet, and telling them exactly how he was going to spend all his money: in the service of Vanessa's family and people. He wished every one of them, by name, the fruits of their wicked ways, and said he would never set foot in their presence again – that everything they had built would rot and burn in hell before he ever lifted a finger to help them. All this was said much more colorfully than can be repeated here … suffice it to say that Henry Fitzhugh Lee was finished with the Blue Ridge neighborhood of Big Loft and everyone he knew in it.
And yet, 27 years later, there he was, with Lieutenant Jackson driving him up the very road that he had come up the last time he had been there. Strange that he could remember it so clearly, given that he had been quite insane the last time he had gone up and his grandfather had dragged him right back down. Everything else except hearing his own 18-year-old voice in snatches, echoing off the ridge above, was blocked from memory. That entire summer was nearly blocked out … he did not remember anything else clearly until he returned to West Point in September and resumed his brilliant run there, with nothing better to do. West Point, too, had ignored all account of what he had nearly done that summer, the Army wanting his clear capacities harnessed for its use...
That was Lieutenant Jackson, having parked the car and noticed his commander had not moved.
“Yes – my apologies. I was lost in thought.”
“I understand, sir,” said the lieutenant. “So much is going on that has to be thought about.”
Captain Lee smiled faintly.