James Smith the Second gazed out the window of his office across the fields of sugarcane and thought long and hard about the letter that had arrived that morning from his son. It took mail a good ten to twelve days to reach Sao Paulo from Nicaragua. So, Straton’s son was now working for their State Department. It really wasn’t a surprise. After all, he was politically connected, educated, and would likely follow his father into the family business, politics with a side of manufacturing. There was little a wealthy son could do in America beyond university before he was eligible to run for Congress. Some would go out West, become tougher men, he’d read of a man from New York who had done that after the death of his wife; but many of them became layabouts unless pointed in the right direction. Much like had happened with some of his friends sons. The Brazilian navy took some as officers, and a few worked as mercenaries in the minor wars along the western coast of South America but most managed their father’s business interests in other parts of Brazil or the Western Hemisphere, or waited for their fathers to die.
Smith wondered if there was any use to attempting to reach out and punish his old adversary by having his son killed. People died in the Federated Republic of Central America in all sorts of ways. Accidents, jealous husbands, train disasters. There were any number of ways to have a man killed. He could even suggest it to his son in a letter when he was ready to return from Canada. Straton was the reason that he and thousands of others could never return to the United States, even if they wanted to. And while Smith had no interest to return to that cursed land, others did. They wanted to attempt to reclaim property lost, to see family one last time before they died. To walk beneath live oaks in the sunrise and remember their youth. But Smith was not one of them. He didn’t long for a mythical past. He knew the truth of how slaves had been treated in the bottom country of South Carolina and Georgia. He knew it because he still did it himself, here in Brazil.
Many of his countrymen had eventually freed the slaves that they’d bought here, but a few; Baylor, Forrest, Brooks and himself each owned hundreds of slaves, and continued to use the punishments that they, their fathers and grandfathers had devised in the low country. Some of them dated back hundreds of years now, to Barbados. He’d even developed a few of his own. He’d had an electrical plant built to power the house and the sugar mill, but there were other uses as well.