BabyGirl Posted February 15, 2002 Share Posted February 15, 2002 [color=deeppink][b]Many of you have not yet read my work since I don't take part in G&S...so here is a little sample of my writing. I have to do it in two posts, because of the length...:)[/b] [b]Richmond, Virginia, June 27, 1862 "It was not war...it was murder." -- Major General Daniel Harvey Hill, CSA[/b] As flashes of thundering light illuminated what some might have called the perilously caliginous night, a young woman made her way back from enemy territory. Wearing a disguise that at a glance anyone could have mistaken for a boy, the girl found the outbursts from the rifles threatening, not for the fear of bullets, but rather for fear of discovery. The air smelled of burning charcoal and fire-scorched flesh. It nauseated her, the thought of a man?s skin burning. Someone?s brother, dying in the awful war that had claimed the lives of so many she had known? She ran along the fringes of the contention, her lungs burning in her chest, and hair growing damp around her brow. She tripped once, stumbled another, but still kept on running until her leg muscles cramped and caused her to collapse. She tried to not forget what she had heard, ?We?ll send two regiments of troops East, then they can come around and strike them from behind. It?s the only solution we have left.? ?You surely understand, General, that the more men we send away from this place the more we risk in losing all together!? ?Do you think I do not know that? It is the only choice we have! We cannot withold their forces any longer. They are stronger than we estimated and we?re paying for it. Send out those troops immediately.? ?In the dark? General-? ?Now, Lieutenant.? ?Yes, sir.? She could see the Confederate camp up ahead, where General Lee was commanding from, so she dragged herself up and continued on. It was then when it happened, the brilliant burst of light and the horrible noise that was forever imprinted in her memory. A lasting salvo of pain erupted in her shoulder, twisting her around and throwing her to the ground. It should have caused her to black out. But instead, the consciousness that remained threw her into a pit of agony, so she ground her teeth and shut her eyes tight in an effort to squeeze out the pain. She couldn?t do anything to stop the salty tears, and let them slide down her burning cheeks. Any other time she would have been ashamed to cry, to let someone see her weaknesses. But not this time, not now, when it seemed her whole world was crashing down upon her as she lay in utter pain. She had promised herself to never pray for death, no matter how hard life got. Yet, at this very moment, this very point in time, she did. She prayed and cried, hoping that God would answer. [b](Two years prior): Charleston, South Carolina, July 1860[/b] Anna awoke slowly to the sound of her father stomping around the house. In the grogginess of her dreams she had imagined the stomping to be distant thunder on a quiet spring evening, but the harsh reality that John Bradley was having a bad day caused Anna to roll over and groan. Him and Cade must have had another argument, that always gets him in his damn foul moods. Pulling herself out of bed, Anna made her way to the balcony that jutted out like an overbite from her second-floor bedroom. The cruel summer humidity was already curling its sticky fingers around the early Charleston morning, as it had for the past two months, and Anna reveled in the warmth. As much as she detested it when the sun was high and the land sweltered, the tepid dawning sun smiled upon her rosy cheeks. As Anna let the gentle breeze play with her loose hair, her gaze wandered over one of her eyes? most hated sites. It was one that caused her stomach to turn, so she instinctively closed her eyes against it and slipped back inside. On the way to her boudoir she glanced at herself in the mirror. Seeing a plantation-hand whipping one of her family?s slaves had flushed her fair complexion, but the blue eyes simmered with a low, heating anger. Hearing a soft knock at the door, Anna smiled, ?Come in, Esther.? ??Mornin? Mis?ress.? Esther, the black house servant entered with a fresh bowl of water, ?Sleep well?? ?I did.? Anna frowned, ?Is my father throwing himself into a fit down there?? ?I would say so, Mis?ress. He?s been at it all morning, he ?an Mas?er Hencade had another one of ?der fights.? Anna splashed the cool water onto her face and toweled it off, ?That?s all they?ve been doing lately, fighting.? ??Dat may be so, but I ain?t seen ?eider of ?dem carryin? out ?der act?shuns.? Esther helped Anna pull on what seemed, ridiculously, to be the billions of layers of her dress. ?You?re right.? Anna fixed up the rest of her hair and took another look in the mirror. ?And I guess that?s a very, very good thing.? ?Good morning Father.? Anna threw a playful smile down the stairs to her father who stood at the bottom. John?s tone was short and his brow was furrowed, ?Good morning, Anna.? ?Papa,? as Anna reached the bottom stair, she took her father?s arm and kissed him on the cheek, ?why do you act so melancholy on mornings like today?? ?Well Anna, if your brother could get his nose out of where it doesn?t belong, then everyone would be better off.? Anna just shook her head, Cade and her father never had gotten along. It was her, always her, who was there to bridge the gap. Instead of replying, she remained silent. Her opinionated mind and over-active mouth had gotten her in trouble before, and when her father was unhappy, it was unwise to upset him further. As they entered the kitchen foyer, he father pulled away and held her at arms length, ?Anna, look at me.? She glanced up at her handsome father, his face weathered by age and experience. Though she hardly agreed with the way he ran their cotton plantation, she loved him with all her heart. ?Anna, you are nineteen, correct?? ?Papa, you know my age.? ?Correct?? ?Yes father, I am nineteen years old.? ?Have you thought about marriage?? It was a blow she should have seen coming and she so she furrowed her eyebrows and set her jaw, ?I have not, father.? ?Well, Anna, I think it?s time that you do. Matthew from the Lars plantation has been asking about you.? The very thought set her temper on simmer, ?Say he hasn?t.? ?Anna,? John?s tone became harsher, ?he comes from a good background and is well endowed. His family has money, and he is a well-bred Southern gentleman.? ?The Lars plantation, father?? Anna frowned and started to open her mouth to say something but held back. ?I know you too well, daughter. You were going to say something.? Anna cursed herself, ?No father, I?ve thought hard about not opening my mouth before I think about what comes out.? He lowered his voice with an authoritative ring, ?Keep it that way, daughter.? ?Yes sir.? Anna stuck out her chin a bit, just to let him know she wasn?t afraid. At that moment Cade strode into the kitchen, his bronzed skin shining with perspiration. He smiled at his kid sister, ?Good morning Anna,? and it faded as he nodded to his elder, ?Father.? A knock at the door was followed by Esther hastily entering the kitchen, an army officer taking long strides in behind her, ?Good morning, those of the Bradley household, allow me to introduce myself. I am Colonel Robert Muldrow of the 7th South Carolina Cavalry Regiment, and I am here to invite you, Mr. Bradley, and your son here, to a meeting in city hall. It is important that you attend, for the state of the Union sits solely on this decision.? ?Decision?? John drew himself to his full height, nearly six foot four. ?Mr. Bradley,? the Colonel spoke matter-of-factly, as if John was incompetent of understanding, ?are you not aware that Abraham Lincoln is running for President, and favored to win as well?? This made John roaring mad, and Anna could see it coming. Anyone who dared threaten her father?.?Of course I?m aware Colonel, any blockheaded person would know that an abolitionist Northerner is running and wants to free the slaves that we make our living off of!? The outburst amused the Colonel and he pursed his lips into a smile, glancing down at the military hat he held in his hand, ?Then that is quite good, Mr. Bradley, because we are deciding on succession from the Union. I believe it in your best interest to attend.? John was may not have been shocked, but the look on Anna?s face must have given her away. The Colonel replaced his hat and tipped it slightly towards Anna, ?The meeting is at 4 in the p.m. Good day to you all.? As soon as the officer was out the door, John erupted, ?Who does he think he is coming into my home and talking to me that way?? He started to stomp around the house again and Anna rolled her eyes. ?Father, why not just attend the meeting and see what all of this is about? Forget about the officers, they don?t know how to act when they aren?t under someone else?s command.? ?Anna!? Cade threw her a harsh look to shut her up before her father did. She bit her tongue, ?My apologies.? Yeah right, apologies?let me speak my mind when I have something to say! ?Anna, act a lady, because you are one. I haven?t raised you to be a man, so do not act the part, is that clear?? It was replied through clenched teeth, ?Yes, father.? ?Hencade, tell Olsen that we?re leaving at three thirty and that he is in charge while we are gone.? Cade lowered his gaze, ?Yes sir.? ?And Anna, be a good girl while we are gone. Do something useful around here.? And though it was said in all sincerity and not as to insult her, the comment left Anna brewing. ?Someday,? Anna muttered as she stalked out of the kitchen and into the great room, ?I will do something useful, and that will show him just how wrong he is.? [b]December 20, 1860[/b] Anna gaped at the soldiers that marched down the street in perfect unison, enforcing any who dared rebel against the new country order. New country. It sounded awkward to Anna, how could South Carolina suddenly become something that it really wasn?t? Earlier that morning, her beloved state had seceded from the Union. Jefferson Davis had declared himself leader. How they could pull away from the country they had been a part of for nearly a century was beyond her. It seemed almost ridiculous. Now they were building up the military forces in the case that they would go to war, and that scared Anna more than anything. To make matters worse, her brother had secretly?and quite without the consent of her father?inlisted in the South Carolinian cavalry and was bound for North Carolina. He was under the command of none other than Colonel Robert Muldrow whom had shown up at their door months earlier. Of course, since John Bradley knew nothing of this, Anna felt freakishly shoved in between the two. If only the men she loved so much could both get along. Her mother had always kept both of them happy, why couldn?t Anna carry on the legacy of family peace? Perhaps, thought Anna with a sardonic sigh, it?s because I?m not the quiet, peace-keeping sort. I start battles rather than end them. But, I win my battles, bottom line. As the line of soldiers dwindled and faded down the road, Anna turned away. The cool winter evening made the fire crackling in the hearth seem inviting. Anna wanted nothing more than to curl up next to it and fall asleep, and to fall away from everything that was changing. Could nothing remain the same? Christmas was fast approaching, but all that Anna felt was dread. It may have been a morbid way of looking at the supposedly cheery season, but all that she had ever known as true was slipping slowing out of place. What was more sobering was the fact that the slaves indeed had no cheer to look for in the season of Christ. All they could look forward to were laborious tasks and sound punishment. Anna cringed at the thought. Some day, she would do something about it. Some day, she would do something about everything. But for now, it all had to wait. The eve of a war was advancing. [b]May 1, 1861[/b] [i]As the war has begun, I feel the ultimate sadness closing in around my heart. It prevents it from feeling, from crying, from loving those I can. The destruction of Fort Sumter and the Union garrison that held possession of it in the Harbor marked the beginning of a horrible, horrible civil squabble. The days are filled with marching soldiers, and the night with ringing bullets. My brother is gone. My father has disowned him. He hates the idea of a war, and the fact that his son has gone to fight it makes him grumble beyond belief. He still has his complaints about the plantation, how the war will affect the amount of money we have the number of slaves we posses. Abraham Lincoln wants to free all the slaves, I have heard. As has father, and he is fuming over the very idea. One thing the Northerners do not understand is our way of life. We live off the land by selling it to them. They are not like us, and though I do not agree with slavery, they do not know our everyday lives. It is staggeringly different than theirs. The need I feel to get away from this place is boiling. I cannot sit like a lady all day, sipping at sweetened lemonade and fanning myself from the heat. I feel as if I do not get away from my father and his rages that I may quite honestly explode. [/i] [b](Two years later) Richmond, Virginia June 28, 1862[/b] She groggily awoke to find herself in a place she didn?t know. She had no idea as to where she was, and that fact had her moving. As she sat up, though, the pain in her shoulder was so severe that she feared blacking out. A woman dressed in white appeared on her left, ?Good, you?re awake. What is your name dear?? She thought for a second, was this some sort of trap? Her thoughts ran wild?a Union hospital? Did they catch her? She tried to sit up again, but the nurse prevented her escape, ?Lie back down and do not move that shoulder.? ?What is this place?? She nodded absently, her eyes reducing to interrogating slits. ?It?s a Confederate hospital. You?re in Richmond now.? The nurse?s voice sounded all too soft. ?I was in Richmond yesterday too,? she snorted, ?no reason I shouldn?t be there today as well.? ?That very well may be.? The nurse was used to bitter retorts. Most of the soldiers she dealt with had just lost some sort of appendage. ?The names Anna. Anna Bradley. I joined this God forsaken war to make some sense of it all. Now all it seems to be is an excuse to shoot as many targets as you can.? ?Anna, the war isn?t easy on any of us. What are you doing in a man?s uniform anyway?? ?Espionage.? The nurse smiled in appreciation. ?If my husband hadn?t died in a war hospital I probably would have fought in the war myself. But I decided that I could prevent others from dying by helping here.? ?All and good, nurse. All and good.? Anna trailed off as the image of her father drifted to mind. He had been killed in a Union raid of Charleston, their plantation ruined and their slaves freed. Their animals slaughtered, their crop stolen. And her brother? Cade?missing after a battle. His horse had been killed, Anna assumed he had been, too. The bitter sting of hurt made her heart swell with anger. The only reason she joined the war was to destroy those who had destroyed everything she had known. She didn?t do it with a rifle or a bayonet, as it would never be allowed, but the secrets that she stole from the lips and words of the Union empowered her. She looked sharply at the nurse, ?Have the Confederates won?? ?The battle hasn?t ceased. It remains in the Southwest part of town.? ?I have information that they need. I need to get it to them.? This time Anna successfully pulled herself up to a sitting position. She ignore the fact that her shoulder protested. ?You were shot in the shoulder, Anna. Though the bullet only grazed you, it needs time to heal. If you give the information to someone else, then I am sure they can get it to them.? ?No.? Anna set her jaw, preparing for a verbal battle. ?I don?t give the information to anyone other than to whom it truly belongs. I have a message for General Lee, and that is the only other person who will hear it.? ?I admire your determination, a woman of your sort is hard to find nowadays. But I can?t release you on my basis alone.? ?I?ll sneak out.? The nurse raised an eyebrow and leaned in close, ?If you do that, just don?t let me know of your plans. I might just be tempted to stop you.? So she simply sneaked out. It was dark, but the bright shots she saw from guns in the distance directed her pathway to a win. Her shoulder was in mad protest and a full-fledged assault of her pain tolerance. She nearly collapsed once as she let her mind wander to the pain. She prayed that General Lee was still stationed at the same place. She had mentally memorized the entire area in the three days she had spent at the camp. Her only fear was that he would have had to retreat farther into the woods, or for that fact the open fields, in attempt to hold off the Union. The battle scene grew to such intensity that Anna shied away from any main part of the road, but instead wound her way through the forest using rising smoke as her guide. She had re-donned her Confederate uniform, tucked her hair up into the cap, and dirtied her face with soil. Easily, she could once again be mistaken as a man. A tiny, muscle-less man, but a man all the same. The landmarks she had used as mental markers appeared to be drawing her closer to the original camp site. As soon as she spotted a controlled campfire, her heart eased with relief. General Lee was indeed still there. [/color] Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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