Cape Fear Rising by Philip Gerard

Cape Fear

he Stalking of Louise Copperfield by Robert W Fisk
English | 2019 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 5.2 Mb

Cape Fear : In August 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina, was a mecca for middle-class black citizens. Many of the city’s lawyers, businessmen, and other pr fessionals were black, as were all the tradesmen and stevedores. The black community outnumbered the white community by more than two to one. But white civic leaders, many descended from the antebellum aristocracy, did not consider this progress. They looked around and saw working-class white citizens out of jobs. They heard black citizens addressing white neighbors “in the familiar.” They hated the fact that local government was run by Republican “Fusionists” sympathetic to the black majority.

In this roiling environment, the newspaper office turned into an arsenal, secret societies espousing white supremacy were formed, and isolated acts of violence ensued. The situation was inflamed further by public speeches from both sides. One morning in November, the almost inevitable gunfire began. By the time it was over, a government had fallen, citizens died or dispersed, and Wilmington would never be the same again.

Based on actual events,Cape Fear Rising tells a story of one city’s racial nightmare—a nightmare that was repeated throughout the South at the turn of the century. Although told as fiction, the core of this novel strikes at the heart of racial strife in America.

“Hush, now,” Grant says. “Don’t go talking haints and voodoo. It’s only the river fog.”

“Feel that chill? The spirits is floating down the river to the ocean. Going back to Africa, brother.” The country man rubs the forked stick some more. The love of Jesus is one thing, but a body needs every edge he can get in this wild river country.

“Just the night air cooling down,” Grant says. The fishy stink of low tide fills the close air. “‘The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,’” he continues quietly, “‘yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.’”

“Amen,” one of the men murmurs.

Another laughs. “For spirits, they’s pretty ripe.”

“Don’t be taking it lightly, brother. Time of night to be indoors, bolt the shutters.”

“Ain’t that the word. Give me a soft place to lay my head.”

They have been sleeping out-of-doors for weeks. For two whole days, they wandered lost in the swamps, eyes peeled for cottonmouths and gators. At last, they found the river. Providence had left a derelict rowboat stranded on the mud flats at the mouth of a feeder creek. “We’ll just borrow this boat awhile,” Grant had declared, and they oared across at turn of tide. The current was stalled, and the dark water piled up in foaming ridges—unnatural.

Now, the Cape Fear is once again rising.

Stiff and travel-weary, they settle in among the bales to sleep one last night in the open. But all at once, the river sounds change. There’s murmuring out in the fog, the rasp of boots on rough boards—a boat?

Grant and the others peer into the fog. But it is a trick of the ear—the men come not from the water but from behind, down Market Street.

“Dust yourself off, brothers,” Grant says when he sees them, “and mind your manners.” In the sudden glow of a dozen lanterns, they all get to their feet, hands clasped at their stomachs, backs slightly stooped, heads nodded forward: don’t look the man in the eye.

Except Grant. He stands erect, hands clasped behind his back. He balances on the balls of his feet, ready to move.

The crowd of whites, armed with tool handles and rifles, fills in around them, backing them against the river. They listen to the steady slap of ax handles against palms.”


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