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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 6

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  • 1. Welcome to Chapter 6 of my Legacy! At this point, so much has happened that a few sentences can‟t do the story justice. I suggest that you read the prologue and first five chapters to get the full story. As this is a legacy based loosely on the history of the United States, I will warn you again that we‟re in the Civil War era. This will be the last chapter to deal with the war directly, but future chapters will deal with the aftereffects. There is also some mild profanity in this chapter. And now, on with the story.
  • 2. No one in the Bradford family really felt like celebrating. Five of the male family members were off fighting in a far away war. Still, Uma insisted that the immediate family gather to mark the toddler birthdays of twins Henrietta and Matthew. She baked two cakes for the occasion, and Carolina, Anne, and Diana put on brave faces as Henrietta was brought to her cake.
  • 3. Carolina blew out the candles on the cake, and wished that her daughter would not know the heartache that the rest of the family was suffering.
  • 4. By the Matthew was ready for his turn, Elias had returned from work. He was the most excited about the celebration for the little heir‟s birthday.
  • 5. Carolina repeated her earlier performance, and blew out the candles on Matthew‟s cake. The three adults present all hoped that the war would be over before Matthew was grown.
  • 6. Henrietta looked a lot like her grandmother. She was a shy little thing, but very playful.
  • 7. Matthew, on the other hand, was the spitting image of his mother. He too was shy, but also a neat freak who had a mean streak. Carolina was afraid that he was going to be a handful.
  • 8. She set out right away to teach the twins their toddler skills. She had missed out on instructing Anne and Diana because of her second pregnancy, and was determined that she would be the main teacher of her third and forth children.
  • 9. Elias often took time to help Carolina. His excitement and fascination with his grandchildren had not diminished over time. He secretly hoped that Carolina and Thomas would have a few more.
  • 10. “Say „Mama,‟ Matthew.” “Bear!” he exclaimed. “Yes, you can play with your bear later, dear. Now say „Mama.‟” “Bear now!”
  • 11. Carolina sighed. “All right. You may go play with your bear.” “Yeah bear! Thank you, Mama.” “Matthew! Good boy.”
  • 12. “Now, Henrietta, say „Grandpa,‟” coached Elias. “Gwampa!” she giggled. “Very good, sweet girl.”
  • 13. “Wanna play now, Gwampa,” said Henrietta. “Of course, you may go play with your brother.” “No, play with Gwampa.” Elias laughed. “Very well. Now, where‟s Henrietta?” he asked as he began a game of peak-a-boo.
  • 14. A few days later, after much contemplation, Elias found himself calling upon his nephew, Roger Gavigan. “Uncle Elias, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” “Roger, I have something of much importance that I wish to discuss with you.”
  • 15. “I have been thinking about my family these past few years. As you know, I am getting on in years, and serving as mayor of Simsfield takes up much of my time. Politics is no fun for me any longer, with the war. I wish to retire, and I want you to succeed me as mayor.”
  • 16. Roger managed to hide his triumphant smile from his uncle. “I am not sure, Uncle Elias. I have not been in politics as long as you have…” “I plan on endorsing you in my retirement speech. Your family name carries as much weight as mine. I am sure you will do a fine job.” “If it is what you want, I would be honored to succeed you as mayor, Uncle Elias.”
  • 17. “Very good, Roger. I must tell you, this is a great weight off my mind. Now, if you will excuse me, I wish to share the news with my staff before I make the announcement to the town.” Roger bid his uncle goodbye, pleased with this turn of events. He was very excited about becoming mayor of Simsfield, and returning the Gavigan name to glory.
  • 18. And so, a few days after his meeting with Roger, Elias gave his retirement speech. He praised Simsfield and its people, and assured them that Roger would do an excellent job as the new mayor.
  • 19. “Grandma, may I help you in the garden?” asked Anne one afternoon when she had arrived home from school. “Yes, you can water the cucumbers dear. Give them enough so that the soil is wet but not soaked. It will give me a chance to put in some strawberries.” “Like this?” asked Anne, after she had watered one of the plants. Uma looked over at the plant in question and smiled. “That is perfect, Anne.”
  • 20. Anne watered the rest of the plants just as her grandmother instructed. This is fun. It‟s too bad Diana doesn‟t like getting dirty, or I‟d ask her to join me. Uma watched her granddaughter with delight. It seemed that there was to be another generation of Bradford women who thoroughly enjoyed gardening.
  • 21. Eliza was doing her best to fill her days in Horace‟s absence. She spent many hours playing chess with Mercy, had planted her own small garden to supplement the household income, and had begun playing the piano again. She was at the piano one afternoon when Mercy came into the living room and announced that Uma had come for a visit.
  • 22. “Mother, it is so good to see you!” cried Eliza. “It is good to see you too, Eliza. How are you fairing?” “I am doing well. I‟m very tired all the time, and Mercy can barely cook enough to keep up with my appetite.” “That is to be expected, dear,” smiled Uma. “Have you heard from Mr. Alcott lately?”
  • 23. Eliza bit her lip. “Not recently. I write to him often, but I have no way of knowing if my letters get to him.” “Have you told him about the baby?” Eliza nodded. “As soon as I knew. The last letter I received from him made no mention of it. He only spoke of them marching towards Pennsimvania, towards some battle.”
  • 24. Uma could see the worry in her daughter's face, and her heart broke for Eliza. “Eliza, it is not good for you to be so upset in your condition. You have to believe that Mr. Alcott will come home soon, and that everything will be as it was before.” Eliza sighed. “I know, Mother, but I cannot help but worry. I have not heard from Patrick or Horace in months. In the time before I fall asleep, I imagine the worst things.”
  • 25. “You must stop that at once,” stated Uma. “I cannot have you making yourself ill with such thoughts.” “I know,” sighed Eliza. “It is just so hard. I feel as though I have no friends; our cousins‟ husbands are all off fighting for the Union, and they know what side Horace is fighting on and I cannot talk with them. You are the only one who calls on me anymore.” Uma filed that comment away. She would speak with Primrose and see if she would take the time to visit Eliza as well. “You look tired, dear. Why don‟t you go lay down for a while?” Uma asked.
  • 26. “I think I will, Mother,” replied Eliza, rising. “My goodness!” cried Uma. “I had not realized how large you had grown. The baby should be here soon, should it not?” “I certainly hope so,” muttered Eliza. “Oh, I cannot wait to meet my newest grandchild.”
  • 27. Uma began cooing at Eliza‟s belly, and Eliza couldn‟t help but laugh at her mother‟s antics. It had been so long since she had felt any joy. “Oh!” she cried as a sharp pain ripped through her midsection.
  • 28. “What is it, Eliza?” asked Uma with concern. “I think it‟s time for the baby to arrive,” she gasped.
  • 29. Uma excitement was tempered by her daughter‟s obvious pain. “Just breathe, dear. It will be over before you know it.” “What‟s going on?” asked Mercy as she came into the room. “Mercy, Miss Eliza‟s baby is coming. Can you go and make the necessary preparations?” asked Uma politely. “Right away, Mrs. Bradford! Right away!”
  • 30. Several hours later, Eliza was holding her son, Lawrence. He was the spitting image of his father with his blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • 31. Mercy also held a blonde haired, blue eyed boy in her arms. The second of Eliza‟s sons was named Robert. “Miss Eliza, this is something,” said Mercy. “Mr. Horace is going to be very happy when he hears about his twin boys.”
  • 32. “You are very right about that, Mercy,” agreed Uma. “Aren‟t they just the sweetest things you‟ve ever seen? And practically identical!” Eliza laughed. “They will be as think as thieves when they grow up. Horace and I will have our hands full with them, I am sure.” “Why don‟t you get them settled in the nursery? They both look tired, just like their mother.” “That sounds like an excellent idea,” agreed Eliza.
  • 33. After getting the twins settled, Eliza rejoined Uma in the living room. “Mother, would you be horribly disappointed if I asked you to come back tomorrow to finish this visit? I‟m very tired.” “Not at all, dear,” replied Uma, hugging her daughter tight. “I‟ll come back tomorrow, and I‟ll see if your Aunt Primrose can join me. We‟ll set it up so that you‟ll always have an extra set of hands around to help you out.”
  • 34. “Thank you, Mother. I appreciate all your help, but I am not alone. Mercy is here, and she has already fallen in love with the boys.” Uma laughed. “She is very loyal to you and your family dear. But still, I will come around to help you both out. It‟s what mothers do.” “I will see you tomorrow, then.”
  • 35. Eliza sat down on the sofa for a few moments. The day‟s events had exhausted her, but she knew there was one more thing that she must do before she laid down on her bed for a nap. Wearily, she rose and headed to the study. There, she wrote to her husband to let him know that he was the proud father of twin boys.
  • 36. Somewhere in Pennsimvania…
  • 37. Randy London and Richard Thompson were passing the afternoon fishing in the stream by their camp. “Where did Jimmy take off to?” asked Randy. “He‟s in his tent, writing to Sophia,” replied Richard. “When do you think the General will be back?”
  • 38. “He‟s been off with some of the other ranking officers, scouting,” replied Randy. “I don‟t know when he‟ll be back. He seems very tense about something.” “We‟re practically in enemy territory; I‟m tense too.”
  • 39. A short time later, the general strode back into camp. “Any luck fishing, boys?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” replied Richard. “A few trout and some bass as well.” “Sounds like we‟ll be eating well tonight. Round up your comrades; I need to speak with the whole troop.”
  • 40. “Men,” began the general, “Tomorrow we march into battle. The rebel soldiers are camped a few miles from here, and it‟s time to teach them a lesson!”
  • 41. “All of you are here because you believe in the preservation of the Union. We can and we must continue to fight for this cause! The future of our nation rests in your hands.”
  • 42. The three cousins all had very different thoughts as they listened to the General‟s speech. Jimmy thought of Sophia. He worried about what she would do if something happened to him. Her comments at the train station when he departed made him realize that his wife did in fact love him, and not his money. He wanted nothing more than to go home safely to her and their son Cole, and enjoy a long, happy life together.
  • 43. Randy thought of his family; of his wife Rhoda and daughter Wendy. Rhoda had been so angry with him when he told her that he was leaving. She would be even angrier if he didn‟t come home.
  • 44. Richard was visibly terrified. He knew what volunteering for the army meant, but knowing and realizing were two different things. He also thought of his wife Renee. How would she manage in a house with his mother?
  • 45. Later that night, the three men found themselves around the campfire, talking of the upcoming battle, and of home. “Are you scared about tomorrow?” asked Randy to Jimmy.
  • 46. “Terrified. I can‟t imagine what Sophia would do if I didn‟t come home…”
  • 47. “…or Cole having to grow up without a father. I haven‟t seen him in so long. I wonder what he looks like, and how much he‟s grown.”
  • 48. “I know what you mean. Rhoda would never forgive me if I died out here…”
  • 49. “…and I do want to see my Wendy grow up.”
  • 50. Richard sighed. “I worry about my family. Neither of you grew up with Patrick Bradford, as I did. He‟s fighting for the Confederate army, you know. Patrick‟s like my brother. I worry about him and what will happen if we meet in battle.” “Patrick knows the consequences of his choices, Richard. It‟s not your job to protect him,” said Jimmy. “I know that, but he‟s family. I worry about my family…
  • 51. “…Renee had the baby, you know? A little boy called Abraham after the President. I bet that he looks like me.” “You had better hope that he takes after his mother in the looks department, old chap,” laughed Jimmy. “Fair enough,” agreed Richard.
  • 52. The men sat in silence for a while, as the fire died down. “Let us make a pact,” began Jimmy. “If something happens to one of us, the others will take care of his family.” “That sounds like an excellent idea,” agreed Richard. “I‟m in.” “As am I,” said Randy.
  • 53. When at last the fire died, the three men rose. “It‟s getting late. We have a long day ahead of us,” said Randy. “We should get to bed,” agreed Richard. “Goodnight, cousins,” said Jimmy.
  • 54. The three boys in blue climbed into their tents for the night, hoping that they would survive the next day‟s events.
  • 55. Patrick Bradford groaned as it began to rain again. The camp was already knee-deep in mud, and it didn‟t look like conditions would be improving any time soon. His uniform was starting to wear after several years on the march, and he could really use a new pair of boots. Still, he was glad that he had joined the army. The Confederacy had won a few major victories, but the war wars far from over.
  • 56. The General had personally asked him to go on a scouting mission, and Patrick was honored to be selected for such an important job.
  • 57. Patrick walked across the camp to find the General and Horace engaged in conversation. He cleared his throat loudly to make sure the two knew of his presence. “Ah, Patrick!” said the General. “You‟ve returned. What do you have to tell us?”
  • 58. “The Union troops are camped not five miles from here. They plan on a battle in the morning. There are unplanted corn fields between the camps which would be an ideal place to engage the enemy.” “Excellent work, Patrick. That is the exact information that I needed.”
  • 59. “Agreed, Patrick. You have outdone yourself this time.” “We‟re going to fight them tomorrow, aren‟t we?” “We are,” said the General. “And the information that you provided to us just now should lead us to victory.”
  • 60. “It‟s about time these damn Yankees were taught a lesson. We‟ve had several victories against them, but none of them have been decisive. Tomorrow, we show them once and for all that we are in the right!”
  • 61. “Huzzah!” cried Patrick. The General was quite the motivational speaker.
  • 62. Horace got caught up in the moment and cheered as well. “Gentleman, please excuse me,” said the General. “I need to go over strategies for tomorrow with some of the other commanders. Be sure you get a good night‟s rest; we have a big day tomorrow.”
  • 63. Horace and Patrick found themselves alone by the campfire that night. “You should got to bed, Patrick. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.” “I couldn‟t sleep even if I tried. Too much on my mind.” “That makes two of us.” “What are you thinking of, Horace?”
  • 64. “I had a batch of letters from Eliza today. Goodness knows how long it took for them to get here,” he replied. “What is the news from home?” “I am a father,” said Horace with reverence. “Eliza has given me two sons, Lawrence and Robert.” “So I am an uncle then,” grinned Patrick. “That you are, and a godfather if you are willing.”
  • 65. “I would be honored, Horace,” said Patrick. “When did they arrive?” “About a year ago,” replied Horace. “They‟ll probably toddlers by the time I get to meet them.”
  • 66. Patrick stared into the fire for a long time, thinking. He hated the thought of his nephews growing up without their father around, and Eliza dealing with two rambunctious little boys. “You should go home to them,” he said quietly. “What?” asked Horace. “Eliza needs you. Your sons need you. I‟ll be fine here on my own.”
  • 67. Horace looked at his young friend. “I cannot do that, Patrick. You know what they do to deserters.” “I could cover for you. Leave tonight. You could be home within a week.” “That is tempting,” muttered Horace. “So do it. Please, for me.” Horace sighed deeply. “I cannot. I came here to fight for the Cause of states‟ rights, and intend to see it to the end, whatever happens.”
  • 68. The fire went out, and the two men rose. “Patrick, I want you to make me a promise. Promise me that you will take care of my family if anything happens to me.” “Horace, don‟t say such things! You‟ll be fine!” “Promise me, Patrick!” demanded Horace. “I need to know that Eliza and the boys will be taken care of if I don‟t make it home. Patrick looked his friend in the eye. “I promise, Horace. Eliza and the boys will want for nothing.”
  • 69. “Thank you, Patrick. That means much to me,” said Horace. “Now, we really should be getting to bed.” “It‟s raining again,” complained Patrick. “I cannot wait for this war to be over so I can sleep with a proper roof over my head.” “Well, rest up so you can whip those Yankees properly tomorrow, and you‟ll be one step closer to doing just that. Goodnight, Patrick.” “Goodnight, Horace.”
  • 70. Back in Simsfield, several years later…
  • 71. Thomas brought the paper into the music room, planning on taking his time to review the news of the day. A bold, black headline caught his eye, and he let out a shout. “Finally!”
  • 72. “What is it, Thomas?” asked Elias as he rushed into the room. “It‟s over! The war is over! The Confederates surrendered yesterday at Appsimattox Courthouse.” “Truly? This is not a trick?” “It is not; the telegraph that brought the news is an official government one. The Union is preserved, slavery is abolished, and soon all the soldiers will be home.”
  • 73. Several of the lines that had appeared on Elias‟ face over the years relaxed. “Thank heaven,” he said. “Our family will be back where it belongs before we know it. Has Eliza heard from Mr. Alcott as of late?”
  • 74. “I do not think so,” said Thomas. “The last letter she got was almost two years past.” “And what of Patrick?” “I don‟t think that she has news of him either. But she is not worried. The mail from the South has been less than reliable, and paper scarce. I am sure that they‟ll both be home before long.”
  • 75. “What are you gentlemen talking about?” asked Carolina as she and Uma came into the room. “The end of the war,” replied Thomas.
  • 76. “My goodness,” gasped Uma. “Here, Mother, let me help you,” said Carolina, who guided her to the settee. “I cannot believe it. We have been hoping for this news for years, and now that it is come, I scarcely know how to react,” said Uma. “I know what you mean, dear,” replied Elias.
  • 77. “We should celebrate,” declared Carolina. “What do you mean?” asked Uma. “Henrietta and Matthew have a birthday today. Let‟s have a real party for them, and invite the family.” “On such short notice?” “Why not? As you said, we have all been hoping for this news. It will be good to get everyone together to mark the occasion.”
  • 78. “What do you think, Thomas?” asked Uma. “I think it is a wonderful idea, Mother. It will be good to celebrate something for once, and I‟m sure everyone will appreciate a family gathering.” “If you think so,” she said. “Carolina, will you give me a hand in the kitchen? If we are to have guests over, there is much to be prepared and little time to do it.” “Of course, Mother. Thomas, will you see to inviting the family? Eliza, the Thompsons and Gavigans, of course, and perhaps the Ryans. You can call the Phoenixs and Londons, but I doubt they will want to come in from Portsimouth on such short notice.”
  • 79. “Of course, my dear. I‟ll make the calls straight away.” Carolina smiled at him as she and Uma left the room. “You have a lot of work to do, son. I‟ll let you get to it,” laughed Elias. “I suggest you find a place to hide, Father, or Mother will put you to work like my wife has with me,” Thomas retorted. “I have no doubt of that son. When you are done with your calls, join me in the nursery. We‟ll keep the birthday boy and girl out of the way while the women prepare the party.”
  • 80. The party for Henrietta and Matthew was a rousing success. As Carolina had predicted, the family was eager to have an occasion to celebrate and the circumstances that allowed it. The highlight of night was the birthday cakes that Uma had baked; both children were very excited about growing up.
  • 81. Henrietta grew into a very pretty girl. She wasn‟t regarded as the beauty that her sister Anne was, but she was a very lovely thing just the same.
  • 82. Matthew was by far the handsomest of the Bradford heirs to date. His father‟s hair and mother‟s eyes formed a irresistible combination.
  • 83. Sophia Phoenix had received a telegram from Jimmy a few days ago, letting her know that he would be arriving home soon. On the day in question, she had waited by the window, anxiously awaiting his return. When she saw him, she leapt up from the sofa and ran outside. “You‟re home,” she cried, throwing herself into his arms. “I am,” he replied. “Oh, how I‟ve missed you.” “I‟m never letting you go again.” “I have no intention of going anywhere without you by my side. Now, let us go inside before the neighbors starting talking about us.”
  • 84. “Goodness, what happened to you?” Sophia asked. “You mean this?” Jimmy asked, gesturing to the scar above his eye. “Mmm hmm,” Sophia nodded, gently tracing it with her finger. “Hand-to-hand combat during one of the battles in Pennsimvania.”
  • 85. “I cannot bring myself to share with you the horrors I saw, Sophia. The short version is that I was knocked down by a rebel soldier, and rendered unconscious for several hours. I was thought to be dead, which is why I survived the battle.” “Oh, Jimmy. To think I could have lost you.”
  • 86. “I am sorry that I am not as handsome as I once was.” “Nonsense,” replied Sophia, taking his hands in hers. “Your scare is a badge of honor. And as I told you before you left, I just need you. Nothing else matters if you are here to stand beside me.” “I love you so much,” choked Jimmy. “And I love you. Now, as much as I would like to be selfish and keep you all to myself, your son should be home from school, and I‟m certain he would like to spend some time with his father. You‟ll find him on the playground in the yard.”
  • 87. While Sophia went to prepare the first family dinner in several years, Jimmy took to the playground to find Cole. “Cole?” asked Jimmy tentatively. “Papa!” the little boy exclaimed, throwing himself into Jimmy‟s arms. “How did you know it was me?” “Mama has a photograph of you that she keeps on her bedside table. I even saw her talking to it one time.”
  • 88. “I‟m so glad you‟re home, Papa. Please don‟t go away again.” “I promise that I won‟t, son. I intend on staying here with you and your mother for a long, long time.”
  • 89. “I was thinking that we should go somewhere as a family,” said Jimmy at dinner. “There are some nice places in the mountains that we could visit.” “Would we get to go on the train, Papa?” “Yes, it would involve a train trip, Cole. What do you think, Sophia?” “That sounds lovely, Jimmy. We should go as soon as possible.” “I have some time before I will need to report back to the law firm. Can you be ready to leave by the end of the week?”
  • 90. At about the same time the happy reunion was taking place in the Phoenix household, Randy London arrived home. His wife, Rhoda, looked up. “You‟re back.” “I am,” replied Randy. “Did you not get my telegram?” “I did, but you didn‟t give a date.” “I wasn‟t certain when I would arrive.”
  • 91. “Your eye…” said Rhoda, as she gently caressed her husband‟s face. “I was at war, Rhoda. Many have much more lasting injuries than a black eye.” “The others in your…group?” she asked. Randy nodded. “A few men lost an arm or a leg. This will fade with time.”
  • 92. “Do you wish to talk about it?” asked Rhoda. “No. I want to put it behind me as quickly as possible. I don‟t regret going, but I want to forget what I saw.”
  • 93. By the time Wendy arrived home from school, Randy had bathed and put his uniform away in a back closet. Wendy walked into the parlor, and paused at the sight of her mother speaking with this strange man. “Edwina,” said Rhoda, “This is your father. He has come home at last.”
  • 94. “Hello, Edwina,” said Randy tentatively. “My friends call me Wendy, Father.” “Of course they do, Wendy. My, you have grown since I last saw you.” “Did you miss me?” the little girl asked. “More than I can ever tell you. May I give you a hug?” “I would like that, Father.”
  • 95. Richard Thompson laughed as he danced his wife Renee around the entry hall. “Really, Richard, I understand that you‟re happy to be home, but this seems a bit excessive.” He lowered his wife into a dip, and kissed her. “Happy doesn‟t even begin to describe how I‟m feeling right now, sweetheart.” “Don‟t you want to meet your son?” “That‟s right! I have a son. Take me to him straight away.”
  • 96. “Richard, this is your son, Abraham.” “Hello there, little man,” cooed Richard. The little boy merely looked up at his father with big eyes.
  • 97. Richard scooped his son up and looked him over. “You do look more like your mother. But those are my curly locks, if I am not mistaken.” “Papa!” cried the little boy. “He knows who I am! How does he know who I am?” “I showed him your portrait every day, even when he was too small to know what it was,” responded Renee. “Thank you for doing that.”
  • 98. Richard snuggled his son close. “There were times when I feared I would never get to meet you,” he confessed. He could feel Abraham‟s arms holding tight around his neck. “Papa home,” a little voice said. “Yes, your papa is home. And he is going to stay here for a long time.”
  • 99. “I am glad to hear that,” interjected Renee. “War is a terrible thing,” said Richard. “I am proud to say that I fought for my beliefs, but I hope that it is something that my son will never have to do.” “Do you wish to talk about it?” asked Renee gently.
  • 100. “I think I do, but with my father. It is not something that women and children should hear of.” “Why don‟t I let you and Abraham get acquainted, and I‟ll send your father in to see you.”
  • 101. Renee turned to leave the room just as Phineas entered. “Thank God you came home safely,” Phineas cried, rushing over to hug his only son. “I am glad to be back. Where is Mother? Why isn‟t she here?” Phineas pulled away from Richard and sighed. “I‟m sorry to have to ruin your happy homecoming so quickly,” said Phineas.
  • 102. “Your mother passed a few months ago.” “No! Why did you not write to me?” “We did, but the letter must not have reached you. I am sorry, son.”
  • 103. “There you go, Robert. You‟re all nice and clean now,” said Mercy. A knock sounded at the door. Mercy knew Eliza was out in the garden, and would not have heard it. She pulled the toddler out of the tub and wrapped him in a towel. “Let me get you dressed, and then you can go play with your brother while I go see who‟s calling.”
  • 104. Patrick knocked on the door of the Alcott house again. It was unusual for Mercy not to answer right away, even if Eliza was out making calls. He was growing impatient. He needed to speak with his sister.
  • 105. “I‟m coming, I‟m coming!” called Mercy. She heard the back door open and close, and then Eliza called out, “Mercy, please send the callers into the parlor.” “Yes, Miss Eliza,” she said as she opened the door.
  • 106. “Hello, Mercy.” “Mr. Bradford,” she nodded. “Is my sister at home?” “Miss Eliza is in the parlor,” she said. “See yourself in.” Mercy turned and left the entryway. “Thank you, Mercy,” he muttered under his breath.
  • 107. Eliza was sitting on the sofa, lost in thought. Patrick took a deep breath and spoke. “Hello, Eliza.”
  • 108. “Patrick!” she cried, jumping up from her seat. “You made it home safely. I‟ve been waiting for word from you for so long.” “Oh, Eliza,” he said, pulling his only sister into a hug. “You have no idea how good it is to be home.” “I‟ve been so worried about both of you. All of the other boys made it home months ago. Where is Horace? Is he outside dealing with the horses?”
  • 109. Patrick‟s face fell, and he pulled away from his sister. “Eliza, I‟m so sorry.” “Sorry? About what? Patrick, what is wrong? Where‟s my husband?” “Eliza, Horace isn‟t coming home.” “Whatever do you mean? Patrick, answer me!” she cried, her voice rising. “Eliza, Horace is dead.”
  • 110. “No!” she gasped. “It‟s not true.” “I‟m sorry, Eliza,” he whispered.
  • 111. Eliza began to sob uncontrollably. Patrick rushed to his sister‟s side. “Oh, Eliza,” he soothed. “There, there.”
  • 112. Patrick‟s attempts to calm her only made her cry harder. “He promised me!” she wailed. “He promised me that he would come home to me. He promised and he LIED!” “No, he didn‟t, Eliza. He had every intention of coming home to you. We talked about it the night before the battle where he was killed. It was all he talked about. It was not his fault.”
  • 113. Eliza wiped away a few of her tears. “Tell me about it.” “Eliza, you don‟t want to hear about the horrors of war.” She looked at her younger brother, determination written on her face. “I have a right to know how my husband died.” Patrick sighed. He knew his sister was right. “Horace and I were part of an advance unit,” he began.
  • 114. “We had orders to be as quiet as possible, because there were snipers in the area. One of the men in our party, not Horace or I, stepped on a dry twig. The next thing we heard was the sound of a gunshot, and the subsequent bullet whizzing through the trees. „Get down!‟ ordered Horace. „Take whatever cover you can find!‟”
  • 115. “I glimpsed a Union soldier through the trees. Unfortunately, he spotted me at the same time. He raised his rifle, aiming straight at me. I screamed, and turned to run. I tripped over a root, and everything went dark.”
  • 116. “I awoke, hours later. I looked up and saw Horace on the ground in front of me. I called out to him, asking if he was alright. He didn‟t answer.”
  • 117. “I pulled myself up and crawled over to where Horace lay. I leaned over him, and gently shook him. „Horace, wake up,‟ I demanded. I got no response. I shook him harder. „Damn it, Horace. Open your eyes!‟ It was then that I took a good look at his face.”
  • 118. “He had be shot by the Union snipers we encountered. It was a clean shot that must have killed him instantly.”
  • 119. “‟No!‟ I cried, getting up, not noticing my own wounds. I broke into sobs, not caring if anyone saw me. Eventually, the rest of our unit found me. The doctor bandaged me up as best he could with the limited supplies left.”
  • 120. “I made sure that he had a proper burial. I dug his grave myself, with the help of one of Horace‟s friends. After that, I just wanted to come home, but it was impossible for me to leave. Deserters weren‟t treated lightly. When word of the surrender came through, I grabbed my things and headed North. It took me a long time because I didn‟t have enough money left for the train, and folks didn‟t take kindly to a disgraced rebel soldier asking for hospitality.”
  • 121. Eliza‟s tears had stopped during Patrick‟s tale. “And that is it, then?” she asked. “Yes, Eliza. That is everything.” She stood as if frozen for some time. Patrick got worried at his sister‟s lack of emotion. “Eliza, come, sit down for a while. This is a lot to take in all at once,” he said, trying to guide her towards the sofa.
  • 122. She turned around and slapped her brother, hard, across the face.
  • 123. Patrick was stunned at his sister‟s reaction. She thought that she might be hysterical, inconsolable even, but not angry. “Eliza, what did you do that for?” he asked.
  • 124. “Get out,” she ordered. “What do you mean?” he asked, dumbfounded.
  • 125. “I mean,” she said, her voice full of venom, “That you should depart from my home at once and never come back.” “Eliza,” Patrick began, but she cut him off. “This is all your fault, you know. If it wasn‟t for you and your dim-witted belief in the cause of states‟ rights, my husband would still be alive. Instead, you had to drag him off to fight in a war that would take his life. You are as responsible for Horace‟s death as the soldier who put the bullet in him.”
  • 126. “I didn‟t force him to go Eliza; you were there! You know it is what he wanted to do!” “He was only going to protect you from yourself, you idiot! Now, did you not hear me the first two times? Get out of here! I never want to see you again.” “Eliza, you don‟t mean that,” pleaded Patrick.
  • 127. “I have never meant anything more in my life, Patrick.” Patrick choked back a sob at his sister‟s harsh words. “But I promised Horace that I would take care of you and the boys if anything happened.” “And you promised me that you would take care of him. You can see why I don‟t hold much stock in your promises.” “Very well then. Goodbye, Eliza,” said Patrick.
  • 128. He took off running, wanting to get as far away from his sister and her pain as he could. He didn‟t stop running until he reached the Simsfield train station. With the little money he had left, he bought a one-way ticket to Portsimouth.
  • 129. Eliza‟s burst of anger had given way to a hollow, empty feeling. Horace is dead, she thought. I guess I won‟t get my fairy tale ending after all. Her head began to feel funny, and the room felt like it was spinning around her. “Oh, dear,” she moaned. “You okay, Miss Eliza?” called Mercy. “No, Mercy, I feel ill. Please come help me.”
  • 130. Before Mercy made it into the room, Eliza‟s eyes rolled back in her head, and she sank into blackness.
  • 131. Mercy heard the thud, and hurried even faster into the parlor. “Miss Eliza!” she gasped, seeing the crumpled form of the lady of the house sprawled out on the floor. Mercy rushed to Eliza side, and gently shook her shoulders. “She‟s fainted. I need to get help.”
  • 132. She ran to the entry hall where the phone was located, and dialed. “Hello? Miss Uma? It‟s Mercy. Miss Eliza‟s fainted, and I need your help….no, please hurry. I‟ll explain it all to you when you get here…yes, you should bring Mr. Elias. I don‟t think you and I will be able to carry her upstairs. Thank you, Miss Uma.”
  • 133. “What‟s wrong, Mercy? Has Eliza come to yet?” asked Uma, her voice full of concern. “No, Miss Uma. She‟s still out cold. I wanted to get her up to bed, but I couldn‟t.” “What happened?” asked Elias. “Has she become overtired dealing with the boys?” “No, Mr. Elias. Mr. Patrick came home today without Mr. Horace. I was eavesdropping in the sewing room. I know that‟s bad, but I didn‟t like it when Mr. Patrick came back without Mr. Horace. Mr. Horace is dead; he got killed by a Yankee soldier. Miss Eliza got mad, and yelled at Mr. Patrick, and then she threw him out of the house. Then she fainted, and I called you.” “Oh, dear,” sighed Uma. “Well, first things first. Let‟s get her settled into bed.”
  • 134. Elias carried his daughter up to bed, something that he hadn‟t done since she was a child. Uma and Mercy got her settled into bed. Eliza had not stirred once. “Should we send for the doctor?” Uma asked Elias. He shook his head. “There‟s nothing he can do for her, dear.” Uma sighed. “My poor baby. I‟ll have McCarthy‟s store send over some material to make mourning clothes. We‟ll take the twins home too. That way you can focus on taking care of Eliza.” Mercy nodded. “I‟ll call you in the morning when she wakes up.” “Thank you, Mercy. I‟ll leave her in your capable hands now.”
  • 135. Uma‟s heart was heavy as she perused the clothing selection at McCarthy‟s General Store. Nothing they had would be suitable for mourning. She sighed. Her daughter, a widow with two young boys to raise. Eliza had been so happy just a short time ago. How had it come to an end so quickly? “Excuse me, Mrs. Bradford, can I help you find something in particular?”
  • 136. “Yes, you may, Mr. McCarthy. I need some bombazine or crepe suitable for a mourning dress.” “My condolences, Mrs. Bradford. I was not aware that Mr. Bradford was ill.” “It is not for me; it is for my daughter, Eliza. She has just received word that her husband was killed in the war.” “I am sorry to hear that, Mrs. Bradford. I knew Eliza when we went to school together in the village. Please express my deepest sympathies to her.” “Thank you Mr. McCarthy. Now, the fabric, please.” “Right over here. We can have it sent over to the Alcott house immediately.”
  • 137. The next morning, Mercy was busy at her sewing machine, making a black dress for Eliza. Her heart was heavy as she stitched the dress together. Her family had served the Alcotts for years. She and Horace had practically grown up together. She felt almost as if she had lost a brother.
  • 138. Eliza woke late the next afternoon with a groggy feeling. Something wasn‟t right, but she couldn‟t put her finger on it. She was getting out of bed when the events of the previous day hit her like a ton of bricks. “No,” she sobbed. “It can‟t be true.” “Miss Eliza,” called Mercy. “May I come in?” “Of course, Mercy,” Eliza replied as she began to rise from bed.
  • 139. Mercy walked into the room and place a black gown on the bed. “How…” began Eliza. “Miss Uma,” replied Mercy. “She had the store send the fabric over last night, and I got up early this morning to make it.” “Mother was here last night?” Mercy nodded. “Mr. Elias too. I called them when you fainted.” “So they know that Horace is…” Eliza said, but she could not say the words. “Yes, they know. Come, Miss Eliza. Let‟s get you dressed and downstairs.”
  • 140. Eliza examined herself in the mirror. She looked very tired, and older than her years. “Come downstairs and have something to eat,” commanded Mercy. “I am not hungry, Mercy” replied Eliza. “Doesn‟t matter; you need to eat something. I called Miss Uma, and she‟s bringing the boys back. You need your strength to deal with them.” Eliza sighed. “All right, Mercy. Whatever you say.” “That‟s a good girl,” approved Mercy.
  • 141. Patrick opened the door to the room he had rented in the dingy old boarding house in Portsimouth.
  • 142. It was a far cry from the luxury of the family farm, but it was warm and dry, and the bed appeared to be clean. He had found a job working for one of the restaurants in town, and hoped that he would be able to fade into anonymity. From the depths of his pack, he pulled a suit of clothes he had not worn since college. They were rumpled and worn, but they would do better than the Confederate uniform he wore. He changed his clothes, and on his way out the door, shoved the uniform into the fire of the common room.
  • 143. He wandered around Portsimouth until he found a tavern. He walked in and took a seat at the bar. “What‟ll you have?” “Whiskey, straight up, and keep them coming.”
  • 144. The whisky was cheep, and Patrick was not used to hard liquor. He coughed a bit has he drank. “Too much for you, kid?” Patrick quickly threw back the remaining contents of his glass and slammed it down on the bar. “I said, keep them coming.”
  • 145. Several glasses later, a feeling of warmth had spread through Patrick. He could almost forget that he had practically been disowned by his family, that his best friend was dead, and that his sister hated him and blamed him for her husband‟s death. “‟Nother,” he slurred to the bartender.
  • 146. “I think you‟ve had enough, sir,” replied the bartender.
  • 147. Patrick made a face. “Keep your opinions to yourself. I have the money, and I want another. Now pour!” The bartender complied. “Ah, that‟s the stuff,” he said, taking a long swig. “Makes everything better. Makes me forget. How I want to forget.”
  • 148. Two brothers on their way, Two brothers on their way
  • 149. Two brothers on their way,
  • 150. One wore blue and one wore gray One wore blue and one wore gray, As they marched along their way Fife and drum began to play, All on a beautiful morning.
  • 151. One was gentle, one was kind, One was gentle, one was kind, One was gentle, one was kind,
  • 152. One came back, one stayed behind Cannonball don't pay no mind If you're gentle or if you're kind It don't think of the folks behind Or of a beautiful morning.
  • 153. Two girls waiting by the railroad track, Two girls waiting by the railroad track, Two girls waiting by the railroad track,
  • 154. One wore blue and one wore black One wore blue and one wore black Waiting by the railroad track For their lovers to come back All on a beautiful morning.
  • 155. ***************************************************************************************************** This is where I will leave you. The song/poem from the end of the story is called Two Brothers (Civil War) or One Wore Blue and One Wore Gray by Irving Gordon. Coming up, we‟ll see the Bradford family deal with the aftermath of the war. Thank you very much for reading. This was a very difficult chapter for me to write, and I‟m anxious to hear your thoughts. Please leave comment on the thread at Boolprop.com. Until next time!

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