‘Free Spirits’ is the story of West Point Cadet Jack Ruffin who was brought up in Boston as the son of a judge, passed as white and went to the best schools. He spent his summers on the family Plantation where he formed an inexplicably deep bond with Lucy a domestic slave in his uncle’s household.
As with many pre Civil War households all is not as it seems. Upon the death of Judge Ruffin, his ‘father’, he discovers the truth. Lucy is his mother, having given him away at birth under impossible circumstances.
The action starts in 1859 when Jack enlists the aid of the Underground Railroad, the secret network designed and constructed to rescue slaves.
The reader moves between black and white worlds. The world of slavery, slave markets, free blacks (Freedmen) and the Underground Railroad. The world of white Society (North and South) peopled by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his daughter Ellen with whom Jack is in love. The world of planters, slave traders, slave catchers and the Patrol whose job it was to keep the slaves in their place.
The action revolves around the struggle between the Underground Railroad and the Patrol. The book introduces the reader to the pre-American Civil War South, its people and traditions from the point of view of those resisting slavery and the institutions (formal and informal) which nourished it.
You meet Grace, a Harriet Tubman-like figure who is the founder of several branches of the Underground Railroad. You meet Tracker, Graces’s eyes and ears. You will see them operate in hostile territory in the bid to assist Jack in securing his mother’s freedom. You will meet the members of the Patrol and see their methods, their desperate and casual cruelty as they struggle to keep slaves in bondage and rush against time to thwart Jack..
Through Jack you see all these worlds as if for the first time in fast-paced action as it rushes to its dramatic and heart-rending conclusion.
Buy the paperback version from all good bookshops and Amazon.