A work in progress, based on real people, real lives. The title character is Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, wife of the great Alexander Hamilton. Though he cheated on her in the first public sex scandal of the republic, he loved her. He called her “the best of women, the best of wives.” Following is a little of the prologue, which takes place 50 years after his death in the duel with Aaron Burr.

Excerpt from Betsy (c) Ruth Sims



November, 1854

Washington City, District of Columbia

The cardinal flew away, deserting the windowsill and the breadcrumbs she had put out, and the old lady’s smile faded. “Prisoner,” she muttered. “That’s what I am. A prisoner. He can fly away. They won’t even let me go out walking alone anymore.” She thumped her walking stick on the carpet. “A prisoner!”

Only five years ago she had walked for miles to visit elderly friends, and she had done it in rain, shine, or snow. Now they wouldn’t let her. They fussed over her. Everyone fussed; they were making an old woman of her. It was not fair.

Her faded eyes were no longer as black as the weeds she wore, but they still saw sharply. Her memory was better than her daughter’s. And if she put aside her small amount of vanity and used the ivory ear trumpet she still heard quite well also. But sight, memory and hearing aside, she supposed she had to admit age was catching up with her body. She heard them–when they thought she couldn’t–refer to her as elderly.

“Ninety-seven,” she mumbled. “It’s a number, that’s all. ‘Elderly!’”

Her thoughts returned wistfully to the walks she had always taken. As a girl she had shamelessly hiked her skirts above her ankles, taken off her shoes and crossed creeks on the slippery stones. She had climbed trees like a boy. She had walked hills and valleys, and … “Ninety-seven,” she said again, defeated. They were right. She was…elderly.

These days her exercise was taken in the garden, only in good weather, and never alone.

She touched the old gold locket that dully gleamed on her bodice, which she was never without. Alex had given her the locket and its contents on the first anniversary of their meeting. In it was a lock of his hair, still bright auburn, and a little poem he had written for her. The paper was fragile and had crumbled in places. She had repaired it with needle and thread many times, but there was nothing left that was firm enough to repair. It didn’t matter. She would soon no longer need it.

Slowly her eyes became dreamy. Not long ago at all. If she shut out the present world she could recapture that frigid winter day when they met. She was twenty-two again, General Schuyler’s favorite daughter, and her body was lithe and strong, and her hair was ink-black and thick. She knew she wasn’t a great beauty like her sister Angelica, but it didn’t matter. She was young and healthy and she had dancing black eyes.


On that snowy day she had just arrived in a sleigh at headquarters in Morristown, bearing a message from her father for General Washington and a little gift from her mother for Martha…

One aide divested her of her warm hooded cloak and fur mittens. Another went to fetch hot chocolate while another led her to a chair near the fire, as if she couldn’t find it unescorted. A fourth knelt before her, took one snow-covered boot in his bare hands, and looked boldly up at her.

She forgot the other boys as she stared into the depths of eyes that were such a dark blue they were nearly violet. As he removed the first boot, he grinned in a way that could only be described as charmingly impudent. Her breath stopped for a moment. Oh, those blue, blue eyes! Auburn curly hair. Very white teeth. Red, white, and blue, she thought. He even looks patriotic. He held her bootless left foot in his hand far longer than he needed to and the heat of his hand sent her blood racing. She knew a blush had risen to her face.

Then he released her foot, quickly removed her other boot, and stood. “Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton at your service, Mistress Schuyler,” he said.

She stifled a laugh. How strangely formal for a man who had just had his hand—and he had beautiful hands, she noticed—wrapped around her almost naked foot. And despite the respect in his voice, an impudent rascal still lurked in his blue-violet eyes. She did not have Angelica’s experience with men, but even she recognized that the young soldier would like to remove far more than her boots…

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This