THE GHOSTS OF PEPPERNELL MANOR
It had been a long drive to South Carolina, but Lucy and I had made the best of it, giggling through nursery rhymes, eating fast food, making silly faces at each other in the rearview mirror, and playing I Spy on every highway from Chicago to Charleston.
We arrived one sultry afternoon in late August last year. I barely remembered the back roads from Charleston to Peppernell Manor, so it was like watching the scenery unfold over the miles for the first time. Spanish moss hung low to the ground from stately trees over a century old. Perfectly still water reflected the magnolias and camellias and the hazy sky in the Lowcountry lakes and waterways that we passed. Lucy was interested in everything that whizzed past the windows of the car, commenting excitedly on all the new sights as we drove toward Peppernell Manor.
"Look at the cows! Moo!"
"Look at the pretty flowers!" she would pipe up from the backseat in her high-pitched little-girl voice. I loved driving with her because she helped me see all the things I missed with my adult eyes.
As we got closer to Peppernell Manor, I found myself sharing her excitement. I hadn't been there since college. My thoughts stretched back to the only other time I had visited South Carolina, when Evie took me to her home for a long weekend. We had gone sightseeing in Charleston, horseback riding, boating on the Ashley River, and on a tour of an old Confederate field hospital nearby. But despite all the fun we had, it wasn't the activities I remembered best about that trip—it was her house.
Manor, actually. Peppernell Manor had been in her family for generations and even though it had seen better days and was in need of some work, it was exquisite. As a lover of art I could appreciate its romance and graceful architecture, but as a history major I was more interested in the home's past as a plantation house.
It was to this plantation house that I was returning, this time with my daughter.