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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Worth The Sacrifice
By Deborah Engle


With his stiff and aching muscles demanding relief, Liam reluctantly opened his eyes and arose from the hard earth. In the dim light of dawn, he could see that others about him were doing the same. The smell of wood smoke, mingled with the smell of coffee, wafted past, awakening his appetite.

A mere three hours had been allowed for rest and their pursuit of the foe would resume in a short time. Liam pulled on his boots, straightened his roundabout, and brushed off the evidence of his earthy bed. Like every morning, his thoughts were of home, giving him incentive to face what lay ahead. His parents, his wife...he fought for their future, and for the Christian principles that made this country worth fighting for.

He found his tin cup and filled it with coffee. It wasn’t the best, but he was grateful to have anything hot. Back in the old country, Grampa O’Conail had given him and Garrett their first taste of coffee. It hadn’t really appealed to him then, but neither he nor his cousin would have admitted to that. At six years old, they were already determined to gain the approval of the family patriarch.

Ah, but that was a lifetime ago, four years before the clan had acknowledged their only real future would be in America. His father and uncle then made the choice to follow their dreams. Liam recalled the difficult farewells, the chaos of the boarding, and the feeble, receding figures of his grandparents as the ship left port. Garrett’s presence was a comfort to him that day, and the long voyage became an adventure as they explored the ship together. Within a week of landing they had said their final good-byes, one family going south to Tennessee, and the other going west to Ohio.


Garrett shrugged into the faded, ragged shell jacket. Having nothing else available, he continued to button it on each day, confident such petty sacrifices would soon be rewarded. After four years of conflict, this latest campaign could be the one that clinched the victory.

Walking to the spring, he saw the officers gathered around a fire, finalizing the strategy for today’s advance. The aroma of the chicory coffee in their mugs filled his senses, but he knew there would be none for enlisted men. Instead, he filled his cup with spring water and chewed on a piece of hardtack… a far cry from the soda bread he used to enjoy from the hand of his Gramma O’Conail. How distressed she would be if she could know of the circumstances he faced…but not Grampa. Sean O’Conail would have stood tall to know that his grandson was fighting to preserve the liberties that had drawn his family to this country. Garrett’s loyalty to the cause would never waver, no matter what came. He looked to the heavens, entreating God’s providence on the events of the coming day.


General Meade demanded a merciless pace from his regiment, perhaps in part to establish his authority as the new commanding officer. It had also proven to their benefit, as their quarry had finally been spotted. Liam knew in his heart this would not be just another skirmish, for the President himself had directed them here. If Lee succeeded in reaching Philidelphia, the ramifications would be devastating. Ten minutes from now they would be engaged in battle, and Liam took a minute to surrender his life once more to the will of the Father. As he prayed, he recalled Grandpa O’Conail’s farewell words to the family, sanctioning their departure to a land of promise. “Whatever ye do, do it all to the glory of God.” He prayed that he would do just that.


Cannons roared, filling the air with thick, pungent smoke. The sound of gunshots, the cries of the wounded, the rumble of horses thundering past all pressed in until he had to remind himself to breathe. Withdrawing into himself, he let his instincts take over. How long had it been? Hours, certainly, for there were dead and dying men as far as he could see. Another surge began and he braced himself, raising his musket, ready to continue the battle.

Abruptly, the fight left him as he stood face to face with another would-be opponent. Two soldiers confronted one another, incapable of aggression or defense. Two weapons fell to the ground, and two faces were unconsciously awash in unfamiliar tears.



Two cousins were reunited.

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This article has been read 818 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw05/29/08
Wowzer, what an ending! Loved this touching adventure story.
Seema Bagai 05/30/08
Excellent story with vivid descriptions. Great job.
Phyllis Inniss05/30/08
Great story and what an ending.
Cheri Hardaway 06/02/08
About halfway through, I suspected what the ending would be. Great job!

Your descriptions were excellent. I would have liked more to the ending, but 750 words doesn't give you much to work with.

Very nice work. Blessings, Cheri
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Good one! I was holding my breath, wondering which way the ending would go. Great job.
Lyn Churchyard06/02/08
Great story and you completely fooled me with the ending. Awesome Girl :-)
Joshua Janoski06/03/08
A very well written historical piece with a cool twist at the end. I wonder what happened to the cousins? Did they live? Did they fight each other? Did they both die? You have left me with so many questions, and yet I kind of like being able to draw my own conclusion. :)

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.
Joshua Janoski06/03/08
Ok, after re-reading your last paragraph, I decided that the cousins did not kill each other based on what you said about them being incapable of aggression or defense. Sorry for missing that the first time around. :)
Debbie Wistrom06/03/08
Grandpa would have been proud.
I like the coffe scene in both camps, that they both tied to boyhood and to Grandpa.

Well done through and through.
Sara Harricharan 06/04/08
What a story! The ending is good, I want to know what will happen to them now though, that they've met up. Great job! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/04/08
Very well done. I was holding my breath, waiting for him to run into his cousin. Then I loved the ending.
Sarah Engle06/18/08
Hmmm. This was very well done. The history and the picture of family were both portrayed wonderfully! Wow.
Sarah Engle06/18/08
Oooh...I read the other comments and I totally agree with the "coffee connection." That was a real tie-in throughout the whole story. And all the questions one may have at the end...I have them, too!
Jan Ackerson 04/18/09
Hi, Deborah--I'm going to feature this story on the Front Page Showcase for the week of May 11. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page, and congratulations!
Lurlene Madsen05/16/09
I was quickly drawn into the story and was sorry to see it end. I applaud how you brought such a sense of presence on site and did so with such a light hand. Thank you for a few brief moments of pleasure.