Ozell was the only member of the Oliver family ever to return
to Alabama. After his ambassadorial
stint in Rio, Henry Hilberton
re-started his law practice in Montgomery. He began to write to
Southern émigrés in Brazil, telling them that things were better
without high taxes and recriminations
The celebrations started early; even the day before, bells were ringing and people were dancing along the shores of
Lake Juparaná. Victoria remembered the last time there had been native dances here, and she had already warned everyone
against the Dom Pedro dance.
In the midst of the celebration, two bent over figures made their way for the boat that was to depart for Linhares
around mid-morning. One was Elizabeth Stanley and the other was her son, Ozell.
As Victoria watched them, she wept. She ran up to Elizabeth and said:
"Mother. Please don’t. Please don’t go."
Elizabeth kept her face to the front, not even acknowledging her daughter’s presence.
Ozell embraced Victoria.
"I want to stay here with you, sis," he said tearfully. "I don’t want to go back to Alabama. I never liked it in the first place."
Elizabeth grabbed him roughly out of Victoria’s grasp, and without a word pushed him unceremoniously into the
Victoria looked at her departing family, and it occurred to her that it was perhaps she who was being unreasonably
stubborn. After all, Oliver had wanted the family to go back to Alabama.
Then she looked around and saw Seraphim waiting for her by the side of a tree in front of the Stanley house.
Victoria willingly and lovingly went to him.
Her heart was torn. She knew she was doing the right thing to marry Seraphim. She had known him for over three
years, much longer than she would’ve known her husband-to-be if she had stayed in Alabama. People there married after
knowing each other for only a month or two, or even less. And in a lot of cases, there was no love involved. It was because the
families of the bride and groom wanted to make some kind of economic or political arrangement.
But if it felt right to marry Seraphim, why did she have to pay such a price? Why couldn’t Elizabeth bend a little
instead of approaching everythinglife itselfin an absolutely non-compromising attitude? She wept for her family, but she
went to Seraphim.
She slept little on her wedding eve. The celebrations continued outside her house. Everyone in the village was happy
to see Victoria Stanley marry the handsome, newly freed Seraphim. All the old men and women predicted several beautiful
children that would result from Victoria’s and Seraphim’s union.
The wedding was set for noon at Janela na Mata, the place Seraphim had shown her on her arrival in Juparaná, and
the place where the two had expressed their love for one another. It was truly their "Window on the Wood."
At 10 several young girls from the neighborhood arrived at the Stanley house. Their job was to lead the bride up the
incline to Janela na Mata.
As they all prepared for the ascent, a stir occurred at the landing dock. A boat was coming in, and it was quite
unexpected. It had many people on board, but one of them Victoria easily and quickly recognized. He was the tallest of them and
was in fully dress uniform. It was general Carlos Mendoza.
"General?…General?…" Victoria sputtered. "It is wonderful to see you again, but why…?"
"Ah, Senhorita, or at least you will be a
senhorita for a little while longer. I’ve come to keep the natives from
dancing the Dom Pedro dance at your wedding."
"But…I don’t understand, General." Victoria said, frowning, getting a bit angry. "I am assured that no such thing will
happen again…Besides, why…?"
General Mendoza broke out in a great roar of laughter.
"I am just teasing you, senhorita. I am just playing a little game on you. I’ve come to join in the celebrations of your
wedding day, and to express my good wishes to the bride and the groom. Besides, you really have no one around to give you
away, do you?"
"Well, now that you mention it, well. . . no I don’t.," Victoria said red-faced, but happy nevertheless to have had the
gallant general play a trick on her.
"Oh, and ther’s one other little thing I plan to do while I am in your company here at Lake Juparaná," the general
said, somewhat mysteriously.
"Oh, and what might that be?" Victoria asked, her interest piqued.
"I don’t want to take away from the splendor of your own occasion,
senhorita, so I will wait until just after your
wedding to do it."
"What? You’ve got to tell me."
"Senhorita, at your wedding will be everyone who lives in Juparaná, free citizens as well as slaves. You know I have
the power from the emperor to issue Emancipation Proclamations of my own. Just after your wedding, as a gift to you and
Seraphim, I intend to grant freedom to every slave living in this territory."
"Oh how splendid!" Victoria gushed. "That will make my wedding day all the more wonderful," she said, with a
tinge of hurt in her voice.
Just as she once again started her ascent to Janela na Mata, she caught sight of some of the other passengers who had
come with General Mendoza.
Did her eyes deceive her, but was that little boy running toward her Ozell? She rubbed her eyes. Yes, it was Ozell!
And not far behind him was Elizabeth! The two had not traveled beyond Linhares the night before! They had come back!
Elizabeth and Victoria embraced one another.
"I’m sorry, Victoria, that I didn’t even recognize your presence yesterday. That was very mean of me."
"Yeah, yeah, Ozell blurted.
"It’s all right, mother but why…?"
"I praise God that He has given me a second chance with my family, Victoria. I did not sleep during the night at the
guesthouse, remembering all along that it was from that place that that heathen, Capitão…what’s his name….kidnapped you."
"Constanza del Duarte, Mama. He’s still in jail, and will be for the next several years. But what…why…?"
"It occurred to me during the night, child, that Oliver was not a real pioneer. He came here with mixed intentions. I
loved him, and love him still, and bless his memory. But it was that cursed war that ruined his life. And coming into contact
with gunrunners. . . ." She did not mention Bedford Jones’ name.
"Oliver was not a settler, not a colonist. You and I , Victoria, and little Ozell here, are the true pioneers here in
Brazil. We are the ones who’ve toiled and struggled."
"Yeah, yeah," Ozell said.
"It was light of same sort that I experienced in Linhares," Elizabeth continued, "and it reminded me in the Bible of
St. Paul’s conversion. Sometimes things happen jut like that. In a flash of truth, and the knowledge that you’ve been wrong
on some things. Perhaps I will come to love Brazil as much as I ever did Alabama. I probably still will not be able fully to
accept emancipation for all the slaves, especially my soon-to-be son-in-law."
Seraphim had joined the mother, daughter, and son, and stood by smiling happily as he listened to them talk.
"I will be a good husband for Victoria and an honorable member of your family, missy Stanley," he said seriously.
Elizabeth’s head shot up a bit when Seraphim mentioned being a member of the family. She had not yet really
considered such a situation.
But then she laughed.
"You and I both have a lot getting used to things we never thought we would," she said to Seraphim.
General Mendoza approached Victoria.
"Now that you have your little brother back,
senhorita, would you prefer that he give you away?"
"No. general. Ozell is my little mischievous brother, but I want someday to be able to tell my grandchildren that I
went to my wedding on the arm of a famous general.
"And speaking of generals, did you have anything to do with my mother and brother coming back?"
"I wish I could report that I was the one who showed your beloved mother how wrong she was on several matters.
But I did not see your family until the boat left Linhares at about 1 in the morning."
"So maybe it was a St. Paul conversion, after all," Victoria said. "Whatever it was, this got to be the best day of my
life. I am getting married to a wonderful man and I’ve gotten my family back.
"As we’ve often heard, senhorita, the ways of God are inscrutable."
"Indeed!" exulted Victoria.
The fanfares had begun on the trail leading up to Janela na Mata. Victoria, wearing a white dress and a blue hat
decorated with toucan feathers, began the climb on the arm of her general. Little girls strew flowers in their path and villagers
hummed tunes to the beat of distant drums.
At the top, Seraphim awaited her, as did the minister of the local Protestant Church.
The wedding was simple. Reverend Andrew Harrington went through the usual routines.
"If there is any here who would object to this marriage, let him now speak, or forever hold his peace."
For just a fleeting second, Victoria expected to see Elizabeth rise up and object. She did not, and the wedding continued.
"What God hath joined together let no man put asunder," the reverend intoned.
"Do you Angelico Seraphim take Victoria as your lawful wedded wife to have and to hold until death do you part?"
"I do," he said simply and proudly.
"And do you Victoria Stanley take Angelico Seraphim as your lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold until
death do you part?"
And so they were wed, the two of them gazing lovingly down on Lake Juparaná from Janela na Mata, their "Window
on the Wood," which now had become their Window on the World itself.
Surrounded by her mother and brother and her friends, all of them free after General Mendoza’s ceremony, which
took place right after the wedding, Victoria felt that she was the happiest and most fulfilled women in the whole wide world. Indeed.
The wedding party, which now included the newly emancipated Indians and Blacks, all began to descend the hill
from Janela na Mata for a wonderful day of celebration in the name of freedom and happiness under the azure blue sky of
Brazil’s "Golden law," the final act of emancipation, was proclaimed in 1890. Ironically, Dom Pedro II had given up
the throne in 1889, in the face of so many Brazilian landowners opposing his gradual freedom for the slaves. He was exiled
to Paris and there, in 1891, he died. He, along with Abraham Lincoln, was one of two leaders in the nineteenth century
entitled to be called Emancipator. Dom Pedro’s remains were brought to Brazil in 1928, where they were accorded full civil and
Elizabeth Stanley became the proud matriarch of the Oliver holdings in Brazil and, with her son-in-law Seraphim as
the grand overseer, their lands became known for their good cotton, sugar cane, and watermelons. The Stanley family
prospered in Brazil as it never had in Alabama. She died quietly in her sleep on February 12, 1920. She had had a good and fulfilling life in her adopted country.
Interestingly enough, Ozell was the only member of the Oliver family ever to return to Alabama. After his
ambassadorial stint in Rio, Henry Hilberton re-started his law practice in Montgomery. He began to write to Southern émigrés in
Brazil, telling them that things were better than they had been; they did not face such high taxes and recriminations from the
government in Washington City.
In the late 1890s. Ozell took up Hilberton’s offer and re-claimed Hilltop Plantation as his own. He ran it with, of
course, free labor, for slavery was now outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Mama Phillips and all
the other plantation workers had long passed.
Ozell returned to Juparaná every four or five years and stayed for weeks at a time, exulting in the company of his
mother and the growing number of nieces and nephews. Victoria had made the right decision, he always told his sister, by
staying in Brazil. Conditions in the south, what with the passage of restrictive laws against people of color, and the dastardly
activities of the Ku Klux Klan, were almost as bad as before the war (as though Ozell could remember events before the war).
Funny, Victoria thought: when I first heard of the Klan I thought they were a benevolent group. I was certainly wrong on that one!
Constanza del Duarte stayed in federal prison until 1891. He was assassinated the very next year. By whom, no one
ever found out.
Carlos Mendoza rose to the rank of Chief of Staff of the Brazilian armed forces, and served honorably, as he always
had before, well into the twentieth century.
And Victoria and Seraphim stayed married to one another for sixty-one years. Victoria died at eighty-two in 1941,
just as her former homeland was going to war against the Japanese empire. Seraphim, discovering that he could not live
without her, died less than half a year after his beloved Victoria.
Together they had six children, three boys and three girls. From these issues, in Victoria and Seraphim’s lifetimes,
came eighteen grandchildren, twenty-four great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. All of them grew up to
have honorable professions in education, agriculture, and government service.
Every year the Seraphims gathered for a reunion along the shores of Lake Juparaná, a practice that remained a
family tradition for many years. Amid the jovial ceremonies, and the singing and the dancing, one could always hear them
speaking to one another in a Portuguese that had a decided Southern accent to it.
And so, the love that started at Janela na Mata continued well into our own day and time, and became, in fact, an
These are excerpts from the unpublished book
Window on the Wood – A Novel about Brazil
My name is Carlton Jackson. I am a University
Distinguished Professor of History (that’s my official title) at Western KY
University in Bowling Green. I have 19 previous books, two of them novels. My
Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel, Allied Secret: The Sinking of HMT
Rohna, and Kentucky Outlaw Man. I can be reached at 270-526-6045
(home) and 270-745-5730 (off). My fax is 270-745-2950. I would be pleased to
send the entire manuscript to any publisher who would seriously want to consider
it. It is 224 pages long, and about 70,000 words. I would deeply appreciate any
feedback that readers might have. My Email is
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