The PotomacHeights, Maryland
She’d been warned not to venture far from the house, nor go near the river, nor climb the dark shale bluffs above it. But Darcy Morgan had inherited an adventurous spirit that could not be bridled. It had been her favorite place to retreat since the age of nine, when she had discovered it one morning while trekking with her cousins over the ridge that shadowed the Potomac River.
Bathed in sunlight, she stood at the bluff’s edge and gazed down at the water like she had one hundred times before. She looked at the sky. Pink and pearled, speckled with white summer clouds, it looked heaven-like in the glow of a golden dusk.
Mottle-winged caddis flies danced in hordes at the brink and Darcy paused to study them. How could such delicate wings flit so high without turning to dust in the breeze? It caressed her face, blew back her dark hair and eased through her cotton dress. She breathed deep the scent of wild honeysuckle that traveled with it. Drowsy warmth hung everywhere, while the birds sang evening vespers.
With closed eyes, Darcy listened to the water tumble over the boulders and rocks below. Stretching out her arms, she turned in a circle and soaked in the majesty of creation.
“Darcy . . . Darcy Morgan . . . Where are you, you adventuresome pixie?”
Turning she spied her uncle, William Breese, as he lumbered along the ridge toward her. With caution, he stepped over rocks, between roots of great trees, a barrel-chested man with stocky legs. His eyes were pale green against his swarthy face, his head framed in a nimbus of white hair. Darcy’s father, Hayward Morgan, had been his half-brother, and Darcy wondered if her father’s eyes had been like her uncle’s, for she could not remember his face. Breathless, her uncle glanced up to see her, and she skipped down the path toward him.