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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: At What Cost?
By Ruth Neilson


Her legs were burning as the muscles started to protest against the constant motion. But she had to catch up with the wagons. She had to find her husband. Elizabeth pressed on, her breath coming in short gasps. She had to find her husband.

They were Quakers—pacifists, completely neutral in this conflict. But her husband had been caught in the opening attack on Trenton. And that was several hours ago. She could only assume that he had been wounded or captured by the British. But he was not among the latter.

She left her eldest son in charge of the shop and her eldest daughter to run the household and to tend to the rest of the children. She had to follow those wagons and find her husband. Elizabeth pressed on; her lungs were starting to burn. She was not use to running long distances.

The wagons finally halted in an apple grove and Elizabeth slowed her pace. Dread slowly filled her heart as her eyes scanned the gathering of men. Her Henry was not among the crowd. She could not see his thick shock of black hair or broad shoulders anywhere.

“Henry...” She panted, coming to a complete stop. She could not go on. She did not want to become a widow to this senseless conflict.

“Elizabeth?” Her Henry’s voice pierced her thoughts from behind. She turned and saw him. She ignored her aching legs and ran towards him, embracing him. Henry returned it and she smiled.

He spoke before she could say anything. “Elizabeth,” He repeated and then pressed a kiss against her cap. “I can not remain neutral any longer. This conflict is bigger than the both of us.” He said.

She paused for a long moment, considering his words and knew that they were true. The colonies had suffered too long under heavy taxes. Something needed to be done. But at what cost? Would it be worth the cost of loosing her husband--to become a widow at the peak her life?

But, what was life under the unrighteous rule of the British? They were treated as sub-citizens. This had to change.

She nodded once. He smiled faintly, brushing a hand against her cheek. “What shall I tell our children then?” She asked, leaning into his touch.
“That I am trying to right a wrong.”
Elizabeth nodded, pressing her lips together. She still did not like this, but what choice did she have?
“We will be strong for you.” She whispered, and he smiled.
“Just like you’ve always been strong for us.”

Elizabeth swallowed heavily. Her world was changing around her, and possibly for the better. Yes, it was going to be rough, but her family would find the strength to carry on.

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This article has been read 712 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Very good. I felt the first part was stronger than the second. In the first half, I felt her anxiety, pounded the road with her. But the reunion with her husband, it seemed a bit flat, and from there on it was a bit more 'tell' than 'show', i think. But I still think it was a good piece.
Jan Ackerson 04/29/06
This is very good--it looks like you had some words left; I'd have loved to read more. Be careful of use / used and lose / loose. Good job of capturing the time period without anachronisms. I liked this.
Jesus Puppy 04/30/06
Very well conceived piece, Showing her inner struggle of fear at losing her husband, the ravages of war, and the struggle to keep going in the event of his lost... good job.
T. F. Chezum05/01/06
This is a good story. I agree with Helen about the reunion between the two. Overall it was nicely written.
Jean Elizabeth 05/01/06
I love historical fiction. You did a very good job setting the scene and showing Elizabeth's emotions. I enjoyed this very much!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/01/06
Very realistic piece. The story and the dialog were well written.