Friday, May 4, 2012

“A Trip to the Owl Creek Bridge” A story written by Fred Shira The antecedent to this story is “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Written by Ambrose Bierce   PREFACE A SYNOPSIS OF AN OCCURANCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE The Union army was making a sweep across the south repairing railroad tracks and bridges. A notice was posted stating that anyone caught tampering with the tracks or bridges would be summarily hanged. Peyton Farquhar was a wealthy Alabama planter who for other responsibilities stayed out of the war. Feeling somewhat guilty about this, he wanted to make some sort of contribution to the cause. One day a soldier in butternut grey stopped by the plantation and engaged M. Farquhar in conversation about the state of the war. He tells that the Yankees are repairing the Owl Creek Bridge and how important the railroad bridge is to the Yankee army. He relates to M. Farquhar that the flood waters had left a deposit of drift wood under the bridge. It has lain there long enough to dry and would be just right tinder for firing the bridge. We later learn that this soldier in butternut grey was a Yankee scout. M. Farquhar attempts to burn the bridge, is caught, and sentenced to be hanged without the benefit of a trial or tribunal of any kind. On the day that the sentence is to be carried out the soldiers march him to the center of the bridge. They place him on a board that overhangs the bridge with a soldier holding down the other end. A noose is placed around his neck and at the signal the soldier steps off the board and M. Farquhar is dropped from the bridge. He has his eyes tight shut. On his way down he senses the rope breaking, and he plunges into the water. Freeing himself from his bindings, he begins swimming down the creek avoiding gun shots from the bank and bridge. He reaches the shore and runs through the woods toward his plantation home. As he reaches his home he sees his wife coming down the stairs and she runs to meet him. Just as he reaches out to his wife the rope tightens around his neck. Peyton Farquhar is dead. The fleeing was only in his imagination as he dropped down to his end.   A TRIP TO OWL CREEK BRIDGE By Fred Shira Lieutenant Virgil Cain, of the Fifth Tennessee Rifles, stopped his horse at the gateway. His horse was in poor flesh; his butternut grey tunic was tattered; his hat was floppy and not crisp; his deportment no longer gallant. Like his horse he too was poor in flesh, about fifteen pounds shy of what his frame wanted. His age was just twenty-two years, but his face was creased with lines making a face of a much older man. His bearing was weary and worn. He looked at the stone posts with iron gates that were permanently fixed half open by rust. A sign was affixed to the right post heralding the name of the plantation in faded script letters: Terrebonté. Below the name was written Far har, it was easy to see that it had once been inscribed Farquhar. There was nothing more on the sign. Through the gate a long avenue stretched, lined with tall southern pines straight and smartly spaced along each side. The avenue put forth into the woods; no structures could be seen only pines coming together in the distance. He looked down the lane and nudged his horse forward at a walk recalling the story he had been told about Terrebonté and the Farquhars. When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon there existed several large grants dating back many years before the 1789 revolution. One such grant was to Le Comte de Farquhar. It contained several thousand acres in what was to become northern Alabama. Le Comte and his family were deposed, and the men beheaded by the revolution with the exception of the third son who was able to flee France , with much of the families funds, and travel the west coast of Africa where he purchased a coffle of slaves, hired a ship, and sailed for New Orleans. There he sold a portion of the slaves and with the rest traveled to the family land grant to begin a new life. He was well established when the United States made the purchase and his property rights were recognized by the new government. He worked hard and remained single, satisfying his carnal needs with his black women. When an issue of one of these incongruous relationships was born he would promptly sell it as soon as it reached an age where a reasonable price could be obtained not wanting to have a slave on the plantation who might think it in a higher position by being a part of his get. At the age of forty he felt the pull of connubial obligations in order to produce an heir so the name, Farquar, could live on in immortality. He traveled to New Orleans and with his contacts that he had established over the years was able to procure a suitable French bride. It wasn’t long after they returned to Terrebonté that he was presented with a son, but much to his sorrow his new bride was taken. From that point on until his death his primary purpose in life was to raise his son to become the Master of Terrebonté. Like so many fathers who dedicate their lives to their progeny they fail to realize in an attempt to duplicate themselves they, through their indulgence, produce just the opposite. Peyton Farquhar became the Master of Terrebonté upon the death of his father and fell very short in taking his father’s place. It was the time of the cotton boom, and he was only interested in the short term profits that could be spent in the societies of New Orleans. He purchased a town house, left the management of the plantation to his overseer, and off he went to enjoy the benefits of being planter; but he was a planter in name only. Peyton led the life of a rich prodigal with no sense of propriety. He gambled and won at times, but lost more. He was reckless in his demeanor and had, on several occasions, to defend himself for breaches in honor. By the fact that he had to defend himself several times attests to the fact that he had become a proficient pistol shot, a skill that he practiced with rigor for just such affairs. When in a drunken feral act he rapaciously took the maiden head of one of the daughters of le grande sociétaire, his somewhat blemished reputation became even more blackened. He was promptly challenged by the girl’s father, and on a murky morning along the banks of the great river he, groggy from the nights drinking, stood his ground firing first and missing. When this happened his challenger held his cocked pistol and demanded in order to restore the honor that he had so viciously taken, M. Farquhar would marry the girl without dowry. Should he in the coming years maltreat her in anyway the challenger would exercise his right to fire. Thus, did Peyton Farquhar join the society of married men. Hoping that time would heal his rift with society he chose to take his bride and return to Terrebonté where he could live the life of a country gentleman and repair his reputation. This was just three years before New Orleans succumbed to the Yankee onslaught. When Lieutenant Cain reached the d'une maison de Farquhar he was met by a black woman with a large girth who was cleaning silver while watching two children play in the somewhat unkempt yard. Upon seeing him ride to the house the woman promptly went inside the house and returned with a young woman dressed to be the mistress of the home. The lieutenant doffed his hat, “my name is Lieutenant Virgil Cain and I fear that I bring ill tidings.” He waited to be asked to dismount. A young negro boy appeared and took the reins and the lieutenant was invited to have a seat on the veranda. He could see by the woman’s expression that she anxious. Finding no way to soften the report the lieutenant stated that M. Farquhar had been hanged from the bridge over Owl Creek as a spy and saboteur Mme. Farquhar took the news very strangely. She quickly sat in an awaiting chair just looking forward at something in the distance. Her first response was of relief followed by sobbing and shaking her head making her long curls sway. “What am I to do now? M. Farquhar has taken care of all the business, and I know nothing of it.” She looked woefully at the lieutenant as if she expected him to provide her with an answer. He sat quietly not knowing how to be sympathetic to a woman of her station. She continued, “I have always been treated as a woman whose only purpose was to look pretty and bear children. M. Farquhar demanded nothing more.” She spoke with a strong French accent tempered by the Creole of southern Louisiana. Turning to the black woman and speaking in French told her that the lieutenant must be tired and hungry and for her to show him to a guest room where he could rest. She looked him up and down and instructed that his uniform and boots be cleaned. Turning to the lieutenant she said, “I will instruct the kitchen to bring you some food.” With that she rose and went into the house saying no more. The black woman with the large girth stood holding the door for the lieutenant without speaking. As he entered the house he could see that as the outside was somewhat bereft of care the inside was just the opposite. The anteroom was pristine with highly polished floors and well oiled woodwork and furniture. Overhead from the ceiling two stories high hung a great chandelier of uncountable prisms; its circumference nearly equaled the walls. On either side of the anteroom he could see through the open doors of two parlors. They were both bright and airy with many windows. The one was dressed out in French Provincial furnishings with delicate carvings and silk upholstery. The chairs and tables were many and two couches made a place for conversation in front of a large open fireplace. Around the walls were perfectly placed paintings of pastoral scenes of the French countryside. The other parlor was manly in appearance. Where the wall held no bookshelves there was placed the heads of many beasts. The furniture was heavier and covered with leather. A slight smell of tobacco emitted from the door. The black woman with the large girth stood by the newel post of a large staircase that circled both ways up to the next floor. Saying nothing she waited for the lieutenant to follow her up the stairs. She showed him into a room still without saying anything. It was a spacious room with a large bed backed up against the far wall. The furnishings were somewhat plain. The bed had no canopy. In the center of the room stood a copper bathing tub: empty. No sooner had he walked into the room when a black man dressed in the livery of a footman came in carrying a dressing robe. He handed it to the lieutenant motioning for him to undress. The black woman with the large girth had disappeared without saying word. When he had undressed the servant handed the clothes to a young black boy who had entered the room with a bucket of water which he had poured into the tub. Outside waited two more young boys each with two buckets. When directed they came into the room and filled the tub. Towels were placed on the bed and all left without saying a word, The lieutenant took off the robe and slid down into the tub and euphoria. The water was of the correct temperature and contained an arboreal scent. He laid back on the against the tub and let the vapors eclipse him. The warm water and the soothing aroma weighted his eyelids, and he dozed off. He awoke to the sense of someone moving about the room: the scraping of furniture moving and the smell of hot food. He looked out from the tub to see the same servant setting up a table with more food than he thought the world still contained having lived on nearly nothing for the past three years. As he began to step out of the tub the servant held a towel for him then stood by with the robe. He looked down at the food and became Virgil Cain, civilian, son and brother; something that he had not allowed for almost three years. He sat there looking at the food with a knife in one hand a fork in the other and tears began to roll down his cheeks until he was almost sobbing under a flood of emotion. Here for just a short time he no longer had to be strong; he no longer had to be brave; he no longer had to be callous to the death of men; he no longer had to present the detached stoic image needed to command men in battle. As he ate he let his mind wander back to Tennessee thinking about his family. He had learned not to think of home because it was too hard. It took a while to learn this. He thought about Nathan and how he had fallen at Shiloh Church just before General Johnson fell. They were both privates then green straight out of the Tennessee hills. Nathan had been in such a hurry to get into the fray that he took one too many chances. Virgil swore that he would go back and bring his brother home after the war. That was two years ago, and who knew what it would be like now. His little sisters must be growing up into womanhood. Sara had been twelve and Judith had been fourteen when he left three years ago. He smiled when he thought of himself being there when they had boys come a calling and how he would feel like a big brother and want to run them off. He had seen so many families homeless and starving in the past three years that he hoped against all hope that his family was holding out; they should be what with living back in the holler, but the war had long tentacles. He had eaten his full and wished he could eat more when there was a knock at the door and a voice from the other side asking to enter. It was Mme. Farquar. She stepped into the room and asked, “I just wanted to make sure that you are getting whatever you need. The house servants speak only French.” She looked over the table of food and nodded with approval. “I guess I will have to dress in black now that I am a widow.” She looked around the room as if to inspect it. “Peyton did not like to spend money on things that people didn’t see. He was always so concerned about what people would think of him. He made sure that I wore the latest fashion. That was before the war when …” she paused, “you know what I mean. May I sit down? It’s so rare that I get to talk with anyone outside of the servants. We had neighbors until about a year ago; they moved north to escape the war.” She pulled a chair around to face the lieutenant. She did not wait for his answer. “I want to thank you for all this hospitality. I never expected anything like this. I have been in the war for three years now, and you cannot imagine just what this means.” He felt a little self conscious; he was naked except for the dressing robe. “I feel a responsibility to retrieve M. Faquar’s body to be buried in the family plot.” She said making it almost a question. Her demeanor reflected that she wanted to relax and consider the lieutenant a confidant. “Lieutenant may I ask a very big favor of you?” “Certainly, Mam, I will do whatever you ask if it is in my power”. He sat back and waited to hear. He needed to get back to his company; his orders were to deliver the message and return. “As I said before I need to get my husband’s body back so it can be placed in the cemetery along with the rest of his family. I have no experience with such matters and require some help. I have only the noirs to help me. I would certainly send a communication back to your superiors explaining your absence. How far would you say it is to this Owl Creek Bridge?” “My best guess would be about twenty miles. But you do understand that I can not cross over the Yankee lines? I would be taken prisoner”. “But, you could wear some of M. Faquar’s clothing. Could you not?” she asked. “No, absolutely not. If I were to be discovered I would be immediately executed as a spy. That is just not possible.” He tried to sound emphatic. “What is possible is for me to accompany you and your niggers as far as I can then wait for you to return. You would have to go to the Yankee camp with just you and your niggers.” “That will be most difficult. I have never spoken with a Yankee before.” She was pensive and moved around in the chair. “The alternative would be to erect a marker in the cemetery and say that your husband was buried there”. “Oh, that would be impossible. The Lord would never permit that”. She crossed herself. “No, that would be impossible. I am sure M, Farquar died in sin without having a priest hear his confessions and administer the extrême onction.” She crossed herself again. “M. Farquar was not a man without faults, but he was a man who followed the teachings of the Church. Not to have him spend eternity in unhallowed ground would mean he would have to travel though purgatory with little hope of going into heaven. No, he must be brought home and placed in the hallowed ground of the family cemetery.” “Then we must work out a plan,” he responded. There was a slight knock on the door. “vene en veuillez”. Mme Farquar said. There was certain politeness in her voice: the kind of politeness that showed respect and friendliness. The footman who had assisted before entered the room with the lieutenant’s uniform. It was clean; the tattered places had been repaired; he held a new pair of boots; his hat was stiffened and shaped. The footman nodded and laid them out on the bed then turned and quietly left. The lieutenant looked at the clothes and smiled, “I haven’t had a clean uniform in at least a year”. He looked again. “And underwear. I haven’t had underwear and socks for nearly two years. Such things are such a luxury in the field”. He got up holding the robe close. “The underwear and socks belonged to M. Farquar. They were sewn by my house maid and are quite new, I can assure you, and the boots were his as well. They are new and never worn. He had them made just a while back. You appear to be the same size as he.” She rose to leave. “I will leave you and allow you to dress then if you would meet me downstairs we can complete our plans for retrieving M. Farquar’s body”. He had a spring in his step when he descended the stairs. The footman had returned and shaved him then trimmed his moustaches and hair. The black woman with the large girth stood at the bottom of the stairs pointing to the parlor: the one with the book cases and desk. There was no one there, so he walked around the room. The books on the shelves were of the finest quality with leather covers. As he approached them he could see that they appeared to have never been off the shelf and read. He took one down, Les Trois Mousquetaires, and opened it; the folio pages had never been cut. Placing it back on the shelf and looking around he could see that the room was decorated for show rather than utility. All the furniture looked to be new and of the finest quality like the books. There were several heads on the wall, mostly animals that were not indigenous to Northern Alabama. There was a gun case that contained a rack of rifles and shotguns. He took out one of the shotguns and saw that it was custom made. He had become a good judge of guns. There was wooden box on the front edge of the case. Upon opening it he found a brace of dueling pistols. He picked one up and found that it was of the finest quality and balance. He placed it back in the case. “My husband was well known as a fierce foe on the field of honor. That foul tradition had something to do with our marriage.” Mme Farquar entered the room dressed in black. “Please Lieutenant have a seat behind the desk in case we need a flat surface for our planning,” she pointed to the master’s side of the desk. “As you are a man and the master of our plan, it is only fitting that you sit on the far side of the desk.” She pulled a chair up to the front side and sat down. “I know so little of what we are contemplating. My life has been sheltered with first my father then M. Farquar making all the decisions except those that customarily left for the lady of the house. Even when it came to choosing the furniture and other affectations for the house, M. Farquar insisted that I have his approval before proceeding.” She seemed as if she were pleading for him to take charge. “We patrolled that area about a year ago. The best of my recollection it is about twenty miles to Owl Creek. There is a ford a ways below the bridge where you can cross,” he said pensively. “Forty miles is quite a bit to travel in one day. We would have to relay the horses.” “We have three teams of very fine carriage horses,” she chimed in. “You shouldn’t to take any fine stock around the Yankees. They will keep them. My suggestion would be for us to start first thing in the morning. But, tonight you need to start to place your relay horses. You’ll also need a wagon to bring back the body,” speaking as if formulating his thoughts as he spoke. “Yes, and pulled by mules. The Yankees will probably leave mules alone.” “Please wait one minute. If you don’t mind I would like to call in one of our noirs, it will be he that handles the horses and mules. He speaks a kind of English and is very trustworthy. My husband bought him and his family some years ago; they were from a big farm on some island.” She waited for him to nod then called to the woman with the large girth and said something in French. “Whatever niggers you take should be very trustworthy. The Yankees will tell them that they are free and that they don’t have to come back with you.” He began to sketch out a rough map on a sheet of paper he found on the desktop. “How can that be? It must be some sort of Yankee trick. Our noirs belong to us. We either raised them or paid for them,” she said perplexed. “He had no power to do it, but the Yankee president set all the slaves free in the confederate states. And, the way the war is going he just might have the right,” he explained. “What do you mean when? Do you mean to say that the war is going badly. We get so little news from the outside here that sometimes we are not aware of just how the war is going. I used to write to my family in New Orleans, but the mail stopped some time ago.” They were interrupted by a black man dressed in the livery of a coachman entering the room. He held his hat in his hand and his head down. “Miz Fawkwa, , Sassy say you say fer me to comehuh.” He stood waiting to be told what to do. “Yes, Pascal, I am sure that you have heard that M. Farquar is dead. The Yankees have murdered him. We must bring his body home. This man is going to help us, so you must do just like he says.” She spoke as if she were speaking to a child. “Yazz’m I do zackley he say.” He inched closer still holding his hat in front of him and his head down. With the help of Mme. Farquar, the lieutenant explained just what was needed. Pascal was to give his coachman’s clothes with Bernard, the footman, then, dress as a field slave he was to harness the worst two mules to the wagon. Also, harness the black carriage team to be led behind. He is to take Denis along to help with the horses and leave right away and travel all night until they get to the Woodbine Plantation then wait. “You do remember the way to Mr. Scotts farm?” she asked. She didn’t think he would know it as Woodbine. Pascal nodded and replied, “Yass’m, I be knowin.” “Then tell Sassy to pack you some food and go. Now mind you don’t trifle on the way.” She spoke firmly. “Yass’m we dun be goin”. He backed away from Mme. Farquar then turned and left the room. “This is for my children’s sake. They loved their father and have taken this droll news very hard.” She said firmly standing up, “I’ll tell Sassy what is required and to have everything ready at first light. Now if you will excuse me I have some things I must prepare”. The lieutenant walked around the grounds noticing that they were in poor repair in comparison to the house. As he walked by the quarters he counted forty huts and that most of them were empty and had not been lived in for a while. He began thinking about how there probably had not been a crop for a couple years what with the Yankee barricade. So, M.Farquar must have sold his field hands south. He strolled and sat on the verandah until the black woman with the big girth came out accompanied by a young black carrying a big tray of food. The livery was too big for the boy. As he was eating Mme. Farquar came out onto the verandah holding a glass. She was no longer dressed in black but in a flowery garment that appeared to be some kind of dressing gown, “It is a nice evening,” she said without sitting. “I sometimes like to just walk out here to get a breath of fresh air”. “Yes, mam, it is a nice evening.” He stopped eating out of politeness. “Peyton Farquhar was a good man, very respected in this community and a good father to his children. I shall ask my brother to come live with us and manage the plantation until Mr. Farquhar’s son reaches his majority. My father is in trust of the Terrebonté business in New Orleans, as had my grandfather before him. It was in New Orleans that Mr. Farquhar and I married.” She paused finishing her glass of sherry. “But I must not ramble on so. I don’t wish to spoil your dinner with my prattle”. “Madam, I can truthfully say that your presence is an added pleasure to this fine meal.” She smiled, turned and walked into the house. It was dark when he finished eating; the bugs were surrounding him and the mosquitoes were biting, so he went inside to bed. The sheets had been changed and the new ones were clean and ironed; this was only the second time he had slept with sheets since he left home three years ago. The bed was soft and all that could be heard was the sounds of crickets and peepers. He lay there thinking about how Mme. Farquar did not seem to mourn like a woman who just lost her husband. Or maybe he just didn’t know how a grieving widow was supposed to show her emotions. The moon helped to light the hallway as Cerise Farquar slipped through her door. Moving quietly she stepped towards the guest room and waited outside the door listening. The children’s room was at the other end of the hall; Sassy slept in the room with children while the other servants stayed in the quarters. There was no one else in the house. When she turned the knob, she grimaced at the sound of the latch in the quiet of the night. Closing the door she moved quickly towards the bed. “Who’s there?” came from the bed. The bed covers rustled. “It’s me lieutenant, I have a great favor to ask of you”. No sound came from the bed. “I am so distraught and stressful that being alone is a great burden for me. I realize that is impertinent and disgraceful of me, but may I stay with you tonight. I am a lady and, I make no overture; it is just too difficult to be alone tonight”. She waited for an answer. “Yes, mam, I understand. I realize it is highly unseemly but the circumstance certainly warrants such an irregularity. Here, I will slide over and make more room.” The blankets stirred again. “You do understand that this will be kept strictly in our confidence”, she lay down on the bed pulling the blankets over her. “Lieutenant, I realize this is a very forward and improper thing to ask, but will you hold me, I feel so vulnerable and scared about what the future holds for me. I have never been on my own; I left my father’s house to come here.”The lieutenant moved over next to her and put his arm around her waist. “That’s nice. I think I will be able to sleep now.” They lay in the bed quietly, spooned back to front. When she felt a movement against her buttocks, she took the hem of her night gown and raised it above her waist. Just as she had ordered, the carriage was hitched and waiting as first the lieutenant then a few minutes later Mme. Farquar came out into the morning. He began to untie his horse from the back of the carriage when Mme. Farquar said, “please sir, I would like for you to ride with me in the carriage where we can share breakfast.” She looked inside the carriage to ascertain that the basket was there. The lieutenant tied his horse to the rear of the carriage then helped her get aboard. “Thank you,” she said as she settled into the seat. “Now lieutenant if you will sit over there facing me we can enjoy each other’s company as we share our meal”. Then to the driver, “Pascal and Denis got away as I instructed?” not merely asking but making a statement of fact. The driver turned and nodded saying, “Yaz’m They done been gone,” adding nothing else. “Very well. Drive on. You do know the way to Mr. Scott’s Plantation?” she asked without looking up. The driver turned and nodded saying, “Yaz’m,” adding nothing else. The horses stepped out and Mme. Farquar opened the basket on the seat beside her and looked in. She handed the lieutenant a large biscuit. “Here eat this while it is still warm.” The carriage moved swiftly down the road, and the occupants ate without talking. “Lieutenant ,” Mme. Farquar broke the silence. “I depend on your discretion as a gentleman. I would think it very low of you if you were to mention anything about last night, after all it was an incongruity brought on by the gravity of the circumstances. And should you be in a position whereby young men brag about their conquests, please do not mention my name if you feel you must boast”. “Madam, I can simply say that I am a gentleman and would remove my tongue before ever mentioning it to another living soul. And you should not feel as if you committed a great sin, as the circumstances most certainly justify your need for comfort.” “Thank you lieutenant. I feel in my heart that you are a man of your word.” They rode on making only small talk about the countryside and other things. “I sees Pascal off yonder way,” came from the driver’s seat. When they reached the wagon they found Pascal wrapped in a quilt just waking up. He said sheepishly. “We dun jest lak you say. We be goin all night”. “Edmund you will go behind those bushes and change your clothing. You and Pascal will go with me in the wagon and wear your regular clothes,” turning to the younger black man she said, “and Denis you will stay here with the horses”. “Madam you will remember what I told you about the emancipation of slaves?” the lieutenant asked, “and do you feel safe with these niggers”. “Yes, lieutenant, I do remember. I trust both of them. They have been loyal servants for many years. Both were purchased by Mr. Farquhar’s father when they were young and know no other life, and they have families back at the plantation” She lowered her voice, “I have for my protection a small pistol concealed in my bodice as well as a larger pistol in my bag”. Then in her normal voice she continued, you have been such a help to us, but I should think it is time for us to part. Like you said it would be far too dangerous for you to go further.” She stood by the wagon waiting for someone to help her onto the seat. “Let me help you, madam,” the lieutenant said holding out his arm for her to use for an aid. “I will wait here for your return, then accompany you back to your home before I go back to my regiment. I will be fearful for you until I return you safely to your home.” “Your kindness is well noted”. Then to Pascal,. “let us go so that we may return in time for us to reach home before nightfall.” They were carried along the agreed upon route by the two balking mules. At nearly each step Pascal had to urge them to git-up. At the creek ford it was necessary for Edmund to dismount from the wagon and lead them across by hand. They had traveled just a short distance from the ford before Pascal pointed in the air and said, “yonder be some smoke”. There was a light waif of smoke rising from the opening in the woods just ahead. “That must the Yankee encampment. We must proceed very cautiously from now on,” she was talking aloud to herself. She pulled her bag closer to her opening and making sure the pistol could be reached quickly. Before going much further a soldier in a blue cap and tunic stepped in front of the mules causing them to halt. “May I ask the nature of your business?” He held his rifle across his chest. “I am here to see your commanding officer. So, if you will point out his whereabouts and move, I will be on my way,” she said curtly. “Follow me. I will take you to him,” he turned walking towards a row of tents. At the first tent he ducked inside then returned with a man with the bars of a captain on his shoulders. “I am in command here. How may I help you?” His tunic was open and he wore no hat. “I am Mrs. Peyton Farquhar, and I have come to get the remains of my husband, the man you murdered,” she looked down from the wagon seat. “Madam, we murdered no man. We hanged a spy,” the captain retorted. “Sir, I am on a mission and have not the time nor the inclination to bandy with you. If you will instruct one of your soldiers to bring me my husband’s things and accompany us to his burial site we will bother you no further”. There was a layer of contempt in her voice. “Madam, your husband was buried some ten days ago, and I would not think it would be very pleasant to exhume him. But, if you insist I will have some of my men assist you,” he motioned for a sergeant to go with her. “Sir I will require no Yankee help. I have brought my boys to assist me,” she said bluntly. “Be that as it may,” he said, then turning to the negroes, “you boys know that President Lincoln freed the slaves, and you no longer belong to anyone. You can leave and go anywhere you please”. “Sir, I will not have you fill my boys heads’ with that sort of nonsense. Lincoln has no jurisdiction here in Alabama. These boys know there place. They have a fine home with their families. They will live and work there until President Davis makes such a decree,” she spoke indignantly. “So if you will just point out the way to my husband’s grave we will bother you no more”. The grave was not deep and required little digging. The corpse had begun to putrefy, and Celise had to hold a lace hanky to her nose. She instructed the negroes to go through the pockets to retrieve the watch and whatever else might be there. All they found was a pocket knife. There was no watch. After placing the corpse, wrapped in a quilt, in the wagon, she ordered the negroes to drive her back to the captain’s tent. The captain was just about to mount a horse being held for him by a young soldier. “Sir, we found no watch. That watch was made in Switzerland for my husband’s grandfather. It has been passed down to my husband and will be passed along to his son. Now, if you will just return the watch we will depart”. Madam, I know of no watch. All that was your husband’s was left with his body. Now if you excuse me I have a meeting to attend,” he turned to mount the horse. “Sir, you are a scoundrel and a liar. If I were a man I would call you out for such impertinence. But this is folly of me to think any better of a Yankee. Sir, I wish you to hell, and my one regret is that I cannot send you there myself.” She turned to Pascal, “Let us depart this iniquitous place and return to the land of gentle people.” Pascal pulled the mules around and headed back from whence they came. The captain mounted the horse and set off at a canter down the road into the woods. As he rode along he reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold watch that played a dainty tune when opened. As he admired his bounty a deer struck from the woods spooking his horse. The horse bolted into the woods under a tree with a large low hanging branch. It struck the captain on the forehead knocking him backwards off the horse onto the ground to a mortal fall. The watch lay by the side of the road playing a dainty tune.

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