We are sharing in a blog hop for fellow Christian Indie authors in honor of Valentine’s Day. Coming Valentines Day Feb 13-15. Click the images at the top or bottom of this post to visit the main hop page.
My book is Carrie’s Hired Hand, a Civil War novella with a mystery and a romance., priced at only 99 cents.
There were times, however, when Robbie “asked” for permission to go away from the farm. He went off for a part of a day, or a whole day once or twice. Carrie wondered greatly where he went but knew it was none of her business.
Robbie had been gone overnight this time. Carrie tried not to be worried, but she missed Robbie and his cheerful “dumb show” of eating breakfast with the family and going out to work in the morning. She was teaching Bethany to roll piecrust in the kitchen when she heard a commotion out in the yard.
“Mama!” Matthew’s voice screamed. He had gone out to get water. “Some men are comin’, an’ they’re chasin’ Robbie!”
She looked out and was horrified to find a group of confederate soldiers riding into the barnyard, and Robbie running madly ahead of them like a rabbit from a dog pack. Before she could get out to them they had caught him by the chicken yard and torn his shirt from his back. They lashed him to the fence and began to beat him with a horsewhip. Matthew stood by, crying and begging them to stop. Bethany, who had followed Carrie out, burst into tears also.
“Stop that! What are you doing?” Carrie screamed at the men.
“This fellow’s a spy, ma’am,” snarled one of the soldiers.
“You’re crazy! That’s my hired man,” Carrie stormed. “He’s just a poor deaf and dumb boy. How could he be a spy?”
“Deaf an’ dumb?” another man, in a sergeant’s uniform, repeated. “You sure about that?”
“Of course I’m sure. Look what you’ve done to him.” Carrie put herself between Robbie and the soldiers. Robbie hung there, shuddering but not making a sound.
“We – we’ve been hearin’ rumors of a spy in this area,” one of the men said uncertainly. “Information’s gettin’ out to the Yankees, that’s for sure. An’ we saw this fellah hangin’ around our camp over the hill, an’ we thought when he headed back here – ”
“You mean to a northern woman’s farm?” Carrie demanded. “I suppose you think I and my two children are spies too. My husband fought and died in the Confederate army! You should be ashamed. Get out of here.”
“We’re sorry, ma’am,” the sergeant said. “Can we do anything to help?”
Carrie glanced at Robbie and saw the terror in his face. “Just go,” she ordered, and bent down to free Robbie as they rode off. Robbie could barely walk and she had a terrible time getting him onto his feet and into the house. The children’s attempts to help only made it worse. She made him lie down on her bed and sent Matthew and Bethany to heat water and get clean rags.
When she removed what was left of Robbie’s shirt she found a small, thin book tucked into the back waistband of his trousers. Curious, she opened it, and found it crammed with tiny, close writing. She couldn’t begin to read it. Putting the book aside, she returned to caring for Robbie. It was eerie how he never made a sound, though he must have been in terrible pain. What a dreadful, silent world he lived in. Did he know how to cry, or laugh, ever show what he felt? His eyes were tightly shut and he scarcely moved, just flinched once or twice, while she washed the whip cuts. She left his back uncovered when she had finished, putting some soothing salve on but knowing bandages would only rub and irritate.
Are you going to be all right?” she asked loudly, seeing that his eyes were open now. Robbie nodded his head jerkily and tried to get up. Carrie shook her head.
“Stay there and rest,” she ordered. She checked on him later and found him asleep, but noticed that the little book had disappeared. His face was lined with pain and weariness, and scratched and bruised too, as were his hands. Carrie assumed the soldiers must have chased Robbie through the woods, maybe hunted him all night. He couldn’t seem to eat anything at lunchtime, and was wakeful and obviously in distress in the afternoon. Carrie gave him a dose of willow bark powder and that seemed to ease the pain and let him sleep another hour or two. At supper Carrie was surprised to see him come into the kitchen and join the family.
“What’s a spy, mama?” Matthew asked timidly, while Robbie sat gingerly on the edge of his chair and nibbled on a biscuit and some ham. Carrie glanced at Robbie and saw that he was absorbed in his own thoughts.
“A spy is a bad person who tells bad soldiers about secret things that good soldiers are doing,” Carrie said.
“Why did the soldiers think that about Robbie?” Bethany asked. “He can’t even talk! He don’t even know what nobody’s sayin’.”
“It was right fool-headed of them, wasn’t it?” Carrie said. It would have seemed almost funny, if it hadn’t been for the way Robbie had suffered. She glanced at him and was startled to see the haunted, deeply troubled expression on his face.
Please have a look at our offerings and see what tickles your fancy, whether you are a romantic or just have a heart for God-honoring books. Click the images at the top or bottom of this post to visit the main hop page.