Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)
TITLE: The Sting of War
By Patricia Protzman
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Sixteen-year-old Cassie Martin awakened from a sound sleep to someone yelling and pounding on the cabin door. Lighting a lamp, she cracked open the door and asked in a low voice, “Who is it?”
Two inauspicious blue-clad men shoved open the door and strode inside with pistols pointed at her.
“I’m Captain Jenkins and I have reason to believe a Confederate soldier is hiding in here. Where are your parents?” he snapped, as he held out his lantern looking around the room.
Not waiting for an answer he grabbed the lamp from Cassie, shoved it toward the soldier, and barked, “Search the back room, private.”
“Yes sir, Captain.”
“There’s only me and my grandmother, Mrs. Laird, livin’ here, my folks passed on sev’ral years back. Please don’t vex her, she’s been ailin’,” Cassie said as she lit another lamp and headed toward the bedroom.
“Can’t help it,” the Captain growled as he pulled down the door to the loft.
Cassie entered the bedroom and stood beside her grandmother’s bed. The soldier opened a large trunk, pulled out clothing, a large Bible, and threw them on the floor.
Mrs. Laird sat up in bed and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Nana, these Yankees say one of our soldiers is hidin’ in our cabin.”
The soldier turned toward Mrs. Laird and shouted, “Get out of bed, now!”
“Surely, you don’t ‘spect someone to be hidin’ in her bed?” Cassie drawled.
The soldier walked over to Cassie and smacked her face so hard she had to grab the bedpost to keep from falling.
“Don’t get smart with me little missy or I’ll give you some more. Now get her out of the bed or I will,” He snarled.
Cassie assisted her grandmother to a corner of the room where they huddled together and watched the soldier turn over the bed.
Mrs. Laird snapped, “Why don’t you check inside the feather mattress, maybe he’s hidin’ in there.”
“Good idea,” he said as he withdrew a large knife from his belt and slit open the mattress. Feathers flew everywhere.
Captain Jenkins entered the room and said, “All right private, let’s go. No one is here. Remember ladies we’re watching this cabin.”
The cabin door slammed shut and Mrs. Laird asked Cassie, “Did they hurt you honey?”
“No ma’am, I’m fine.” Cassie said, putting her hand up to her smarting left cheek. “I’m glad they’re gone. I wonder why they thought someone was hidin’ here.”
“Probly thought your brother Ernest was here. Atlanta fell to the Yankees yesterday and Ernest got separated from his reg’ment and decided to come home.”
“Ernest is here? The Yankees will find him, Nana!” Cassie said, her voice quivering.
“He’s safe. He’s hidin’ in an old cellar way back behind the cabin. We knew the soldiers would come lookin’ for him and decided not to tell you for your protection.
“Well, looky here,” a deep voice drawled from the doorway, “My little sis has growed up in three years.” Cassie flew into Ernest’s arms squeezing him tight.
“Ernest, you cain’t stay, the Yankees were here and said they’re watchin’ the cabin.”
“I seed ‘em leave and decided not to shoot ‘cause others are probly close by. I didn’t want to put you and Nana in danger, either. Did they hurt you?
“One of ‘em slapped me, but it didn’t hurt.” Cassie said, rubbing her tender, left cheek.
It’s time for me to high tail it outta here, they’ll be back fer shore. I’m gonna look for my reg’ment, could you fix me some vittles to eat now and pack me some for the trip?
“I shore will dear brother.”
Later, while eating his grits and salt pork, Ernest spoke about the doom of the South. It won’t be long afore we’re whipped. The Yankees have more men, guns, and supplies. I cain’t see how the South kin last much longer, Nana.”
“It’s in the Lord’s hands, Ernest. Let’s pray afore you go and thank the Lord for his protection.”
“I’ve communed with the Lord aplenty the last few years. He’s protected me and y’all,” Ernest affirmed as he bowed his head. Mrs. Laird began to pray.
Seven months later on April 9, 1865 General Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia. The long war was over. Ernest Martin returned to his family in Atlanta, Georgia and the citizens of the United States began to piece together their lives. The Country was one nation, again.
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