TITLE: A Heart's Journey - Chapter 3
By Michele Fleming
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The carriage barreled down the street hitting holes and dodging other carriages and riders on horseback. By the time they reached the south end of town and the train her father had secured for them, Ana felt pretty shaken up. The men jumped out of the carriage and helped them to the ground, then turned to fetch their things.
They were led into a passenger car that had been redesigned into an informal sitting room. Liza sat with Ana and Lucy on a rose colored cameo sofa, each trying their best to control their emotions. Marks and Dalton made sure they were settled and after saying their goodbyes, turned things over to the conductor.
As they exited the train, however, gunshots and shouting erupted. Dalton came rushing back into the car and began firing one shot after another out of the window. He stopped briefly and shouted over his shoulder for everyone to take cover on the floor. Ana fell on top of Lucy to shield her and Liza did the same for her. It was then that Ana realized the train had begun to move.
The conductor pulled a gun himself and began firing out the door. You could hear the sound of glass breaking, bullets hitting the wooden walls, and the frantic prayers of a tearful Liza. Not knowing what else to do, Ana began to pray as well.
The train began to pick up speed and in a short time, the gunfire quieted. Returning to their seats Ana and Liza began trying to coax Lucy into calming down.
â€śAre you three okay?â€ť Dalton asked.
â€śYesâ€™sa, I believes we alright.â€ť
He turned his attention to the conductor who had realized that he had been grazed by a bullet. Dalton and Liza helped to bandage the wound then Dalton and the conductor started keeping watch out the windows.
About an hour later, the men agreed that they were in the clear and began to relax a little. By this time they were well into Alabama and far enough away from the fighting that even Liza, Lucy and Ana started to relax as well.
Once Ana was sure everyoneâ€™s nerves had settled a bit she asked, â€śWhereâ€™s Captain Marks?â€ť
Dalton and the conductor exchanged a glance.
â€śHe was shot as soon as he stepped off of the train.â€ť Dalton explained, a look of regret covering his face.
â€śShot! Why didnâ€™t you help him?â€ť she demanded.
â€śThere was nothing I could do. He was dead as soon as the bullet hit him and I had to get you all to safetyâ€¦ I did what I had to do.â€ť
Ana hung her head and began to cry, reality sinking in. Liza, who was still holding Lucy, wrapped her free arm around her and the three of them sat and cried together. A while later, Lucy announced that she was hungry, causing the conductor to jump into action.
He seemed to Ana to be around the same age as her father. He was a little shorter and a lot bigger around with dark hair that was graying on the sides. Thinking back about watching him waving his gun and firing off shots, was somewhat comical. With his black conductor suit, white shirt and plump middle, he reminded her of a penguin that she had seen once in a book of her fatherâ€™s.
â€śHere you go, little one,â€ť he said as he offered Lucy food from a tray that he had pulled from the sideboard. â€śItâ€™s not much, but itâ€™s all I could get on such short notice. I planned on stocking up in the morning before we left.â€ť
â€śThis is quiet alright,â€ť Ana assured him.
The tray had a couple kinds of cheese and some bread. Lucy took a wedge of cheese and he turned and set the tray on a nearby drop leaf table. He went back to the sideboard and pulled out a big silver bowl full of apples, oranges, and pears and sat that on the table as well. Liza motioned for Ana and Lucy to take a seat at the table and began to help the conductor in serving them.
â€śPlease, Ms. Liza, have a seat and help yourself to something,â€ť he instructed.
Liza had been a free woman for many years now, but she still would never dream of taking such liberties until everyone else had had their fill. She hesitated until Dalton insisted as well. Once they had a little food in their stomachs and were feeling a little better, Ana turned her attention to the robust man in our presence.
â€śWhat is your name?â€ť she wanted to know.
â€śOh, forgive me, Miss Ana, in all the excitementâ€¦â€ť he stood and assumed his most formal pose and continued with a flourish. â€śMy dear ladies, allow me to introduce myselfâ€¦Thomas Schneider at your service,â€ť he finished with an exaggerated bow that gave Lucy and Ana the giggles. The giggles spread and before they knew it they were all having a time of it. Ana decided right then and there, she liked Mr. Thomas Schneider!
They spent the next little bit watching Mr. Schneider do a multitude of cheesy magic tricks. While the older people in the car would catch on to the trick, Lucy was constantly amazed. During all of this, Dalton paced back and forth, stopping every few minutes to peer out a window into the growing darkness. Ana stood and made her way to his side.
â€śDo you think theyâ€™ll catch up with us, Dalton?â€ť
â€śNo,â€ť he began. â€śI think were safe. Itâ€™s a good idea to keep a lookout just in case though. Please, call me Jacob. Some of my friends call me Jake, so you could do that if you want.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry. I forgot Dalton was your last name.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s okay,â€ť he said with a grin. â€śThatâ€™s all youâ€™ve heard anyone call me, so it was an honest mistake. When itâ€™s not someone from the army talking to me, I would rather be called by my first name, though,â€ť he laughed, â€śthat way I donâ€™t forget it.â€ť
This made Ana laugh, too. He really wasnâ€™t like all the other army men she had met, after all. Everyone else was always so serious, especially her father.
â€śDo you think Papa is okay?â€ť
â€śYour Papa is a very capable man. He has the reputation in the army of being very smart and brave, so yes, I do believe he is fine,â€ť he said looking her straight in the eye.
Thatâ€™s when Ana noticed he had the prettiest eyes she had ever seen. She couldnâ€™t believe she had never noticed before! They were a dark brown with tiny specs of gold around the edges and were accented by the most captivating lashes ever. As she studied them a new and glorious feeling sprang to life within her causing her face to burn hot. Breaking the spell, he removed his hat revealing a thick mass of dark blonde waves. He smoothed his tresses back out of his face and replaced his hat. Still feeling a bit flushed, Ana scolded herself.
â€śWhat are you doing? Heâ€™s not much older than you, but older none the less, and a soldier to boot!â€ť She tried to push those thoughts from her mind by changing the subject.
â€śAre you going to go all the way to Texas with us?â€ť
He gave a slight shake of his head. â€śWe will be stopping in Huntsville in a little while and I am going to try and get a telegram off to your Papa. I expect him to tell me to send you on with Mr. Schneider and then head on back to Chattanooga. They probably need all the help they can get right now.â€ť
â€śArenâ€™t you scared to go back? I mean as much as I didnâ€™t want to leave my Papa at the time, once all the shelling started all I wanted to do was run.â€ť
â€śIt is scary, but I have to remember the importance of what we are fighting for.â€ť
â€śDo you have slaves?â€ť
â€śNo, weâ€™ve never had slaves.â€ť
â€śSo what are you fighting for then?â€ť
Ana had a real issue with the whole slave thing, having been practically raised by Liza. Ana couldnâ€™t imagine someone owning another person. And the stories that sheâ€™s heard over the years about how some owners treat their slaves made her sick.
â€śIâ€™m fighting strictly to protect my home and family. I donâ€™t want someone coming in thinking they can do what they want with what is ours or telling us what we can and canâ€™t do and get away with it. .â€ť
â€śSo, if you wanted to have slaves then that should be okay?â€ť
â€śNo, thatâ€™s the one thing I believe is totally wrong. I mean, look at how God helped Moses rescue all those people that were enslaved to the Pharaoh. Thatâ€™s proof to me that no one should be able to own another person and force them to do the work that they should be doing themselves.â€ť
â€śYou really believe that God helped Moses?â€ť
â€śOf course I do, donâ€™t you?â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know,â€ť Ana said with a hint of regret, sorry she had even asked.
â€śAna, do you believe in God?â€ť
â€śI guess I do,â€ť she said, the pounding in her heart causing her to wish all of a sudden that she had never started this.
â€śTell me about what you believe.â€ť
â€śWellâ€¦ we used to go to church all the time before Mama passed. I really liked going, too. I loved the stories from the bible the teacher would read and the songs we would sing. I even liked sitting during service and listening to the preacher. It all sort of captivated me.â€ť
â€śThen Mama took sick with scarlet fever and passed away four years ago. After the funeral Papa wouldnâ€™t allow us to even mention anything about church, or God for that matter. Liza tried to sneak and teach us stuff from the bible, while Papa was away, but he caught her once and gave her a good tongue lashing. She never attempted it again. Well at leastâ€¦not until today anyway.â€ť
â€śWhat did she do today?â€ť
â€śShe had Lucy and me get on our knees and pray with her before we came down stairs.â€ť
â€śHow did you feel in doing that?â€ť
â€śIt made me feel betterâ€¦ not so scared, you know?â€ť
With a smile and quick tap on my chin with his finger he said, â€śI know exactly what you mean.â€ť
â€śAna,â€ť he continued, â€śDonâ€™t lose that precious feeling.â€ť
â€śHow do I keep from it?â€ť she found herself genuinely wanting to know.
â€śKeep talking to him, and not only when youâ€™re scared, but all the time,â€ť he instructed. â€śHeâ€™s always there to listen.â€ť
Ana smiled her thanks then thought to ask, â€śHow long do you think it will take us to get to Flint Creek where my aunt lives?â€ť
â€śWell, Iâ€™ve been thinking on it,â€ť he began, tilting his head to one side, â€śand I figure it will take about two and a half days to reach Austin by train and then about ten hours on to Flint Creek on the stage. Now thatâ€™s without any stops and there will have to be a few stops along the way, so about four or five days maybe.â€ť
â€śOh, my,â€ť Ana said all the while thinking about having to be cooped up on the train for that long.
While she was still in thought she felt the train begin to slow. Jacob quickly looked out the window and announced that they had made it to Huntsville Depot. He instructed for all of them to wait on the train while he went inside. He returned a short time later and told them that he was able to get a response to his telegraph.
â€śLiza, Colonel Lawson wants me to send you on to Texas with the girls as soon as possible. I spoke to the engineer and they will be ready to head that way in two hours.â€ť He informed them.
â€śWhat about you?â€ť Ana asked him.
â€śIâ€™m to head back to Chattanooga in the morning.â€ť
Feeling safer with him around, Ana had hoped that he would be able to go with them. She found herself worrying if Mr. Schneider would be able to handle things that might come up.
â€śIâ€™ll stay here with you until the train starts to leave,â€ť he was quick to add, seeing the fear creeping up in her face.
â€śThank you,â€ť she whispered.
â€śRight now though, Iâ€™m going to walk across the street to the mercantile and pick up a few more supplies for the trip.â€ť
â€śDo you need some money? I have what the colonel gave me for the trip,â€ť Mr. Schneider offered.
â€śNo, Iâ€™ve got plenty for now. He slipped me a few bills before we left, too.â€ť
With that he headed for the door, coming back a short time later loaded down with all sorts of food and a few surprises as well.
â€śI thought you ladies would like to have something to keep you occupied,â€ť he said with a big smile on his face. He had bought a small doll for Lucy and book of Bible stories for Ana.
â€śMs. Liza, I didnâ€™t forget you,â€ť he said and handed that woman a couple balls of yarn and knitting needles. â€śI noticed the shawl that you are wearing and I took the chance that you had made it and would know how to use these.â€ť
She took the items from Jacob with a hint of tears in her eyes.
A quite â€śThank youâ€™saâ€ť was all she could manage.
â€śMr. Schneider, I thought these might come in handy,â€ť he handed him a deck of cards and a checker board game. â€śMaybe you can teach the girls how to play checkers, if they donâ€™t already know how.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll do that.â€ť
The next two hours went by a little too fast for Ana, and before she was ready the trainâ€™s whistle blew and Jacob was standing to leave. They all stood with him and began to say their goodbyes. Even though they had only known Jacob for a few hours, it somehow seemed much longer. Ana wasnâ€™t sure if she would ever see this man again, but deep down she sure hoped that she would.
â€śMr. Schneider, you take good care of these ladies,â€ť Jacob said as they shook hands.
â€śWill do...and you take care of yourself, Dalton.â€ť
â€śMs. Liza, itâ€™s been a pleasure to meet you. Take care of these girls,â€ť he said as he turned her way.
â€śYou know I willsâ€™sa,â€ť she responded with confidence.
He offered a smile and turned his attention to Lucy and Ana. â€śMs. Lucy, you be a good girl now, okay? Take care of everybody for me.â€ť
â€śOkay, I will.â€ť
â€śAna, always remember what I told you.â€ť
With this he pulled her aside for a little privacy. â€śTalk to Him, all the time. He will make things easier for you.â€ť
Ana nodded then asked, â€śWill we ever see you again, Jacob?â€ť
â€śOh, you never know. Once this war is over, I might have to come for a visit.â€ť Somehow she felt as though he really didnâ€™t mean it, but it still felt good to hear him say it anyway.
â€śI tell you what, for now you can write to me. Howâ€™s that? It would be nice to have someone to write to.â€ť
â€śI would like that very much,â€ť she answered a little too quickly. â€śWait, you donâ€™t already have someone to write to, someone that would be upset, maybe, if we wrote to one another?â€ť
With a big smile and wink signifying his understanding of her meaning, he answered, â€śNope.â€ť
He gave her a quick hug, turned, waved goodbye to the others and was out the door. Ana watched him on the platform as the train pulled away all the while secretly hoping that what he said would come true someday, that she would see him once again.
â€śIâ€™m tired,â€ť Lucy whined a short time later.
â€śIt has been a long day,â€ť Liza said. â€śMaybe we should tryâ€™s and git some sleep somewhereâ€™s.â€ť
â€śCome, Iâ€™ll show you where you can do just that,â€ť Mr. Schneider said as he stood and headed for the rear door of the car.
They all followed him into the next car where bunks were lined up and down both sides. â€śYou should be able to get a decent nightâ€™s sleep in here. Iâ€™ll stay in the other car and keep watch.â€ť
He then tipped his hat and headed for the door.
â€śThank youâ€™sa,â€ť Liza replied and began readying Lucy for bed.
Ana took care of herself and crawled up into the top berth across from Lucy. Once Liza was finished tucking her in, she turned and did the same for Ana. Even though she was getting a little old for â€śtuckingâ€ť, she still liked it. Standing between them and holding onto their hands she spoke.
â€śI know this is hard fo you girls, but weâ€™s gonna be jist fine, youâ€™ll see. Now, letâ€™s pray to God anâ€™ask him to be protectâ€™n us through the night.â€ť
Ana and Lucy followed her lead, all the while Jacobâ€™s words were echoing in Anaâ€™s mind. â€śTalk to Him all the time and He will make things easier.â€ť She made a vow to do that, and in no time after the prayer and after the lantern had been turned down, sleep settled in.
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