The Yankee Gentleman
Summary: The Yankees are coming to Maddie's plantation and taking over. Some of the men are starved for women. Jeb saves her from his own kind as she befriends both him and his best friend Drew.
Chapter 1: Magnolia Forest
It had been a cool start for winter so far in Burke County, Georgia but unlike many of its neighbors further north. Burke County wasn't prone to snow except maybe in January. But being that it was just the start of November it was just starting to get cool again. Outside a large once white plantation house, which had dirtied over the course of three years of war, was a young woman wrapped tightly in an old shawl looking off the porch on look out. She had soft chestnut brown hair that when the sun hit it in the right spot, it shined red. Her eyes were narrowed and inspecting the land for a signal of disturbance but after a moment they relaxed to show off the deep solicitous brown irises. She had a regal proud face with high cheekbones, a slightly prominent chin and a softened jaw line. Little wisps of her hair fluttered out of her tightly coiffed chignon across her wide forehead as the fierce wind blew out over her family's plantation: Magnolia Forest. Her stance was proud and predatory despite her womanly figure. She looked out at the expanse of land and saw to her right behind the stables the thick Georgian forest and to her left the empty field that once held acres of sugar cane. Surprisingly, her mother, herself and a few of the remaining ex-slaves had made the effort and managed to raise enough crops to survive.
The whole plantation was aware of General Sherman and this spree he was on. Luckily for them they had a large cabin deep in the forest for their use; it was this girl's great grandfathers long ago. Most of the horses, cows and pigs were there along with valuables, supplies and most of the ex-slaves that had stayed. Any sign of Yankees and they would high tail it out of here and to safety. They knew it would be soon too. But this young girl of 17 wasn't ready to give up her home.
"Maddie," yelled a feminine voice from inside, "any sign of danger yet?"
"No Ma," yelled Maddie broken out of her reverie. The older woman walked out demurely as she had always been taught, the gait of a lady. She looked greatly like her daughter only minus the predatory stance; her Maddie had grown up in this life of war and it had influenced the bright, optimistic and proud child that was always trying to be a lady like her Ma. But when she was 14 the war had started and the tragedies and harshness of it all had taken all that away and gave her that predatory nature instead. And Mary Lawrence was tired but refused to give up and swore she would never lose Maddie like she had lost her brother Jonnie who had died in Gettysburg. And only God knew where her husband, Rich, was.
"Ma, I was thinking," started Maddie looking out at their land with pride and a tender touch, "We should fight to keep it not run away and let them burn it. We worked so hard."
"Nonsense, look where fighting has gotten everybody; Jonnie dead, your father who knows where. No, we can rebuild. I have everything we could possibly need. Let them burn it because we ain't dying, Maddie Raye Lawrence," she finished vehemently. "Plus didn't you hear that they are coming after Waynesborough, that's not far from here. We aren't taking any chances I want to be deep in that forest," she said pointing her finger to the right, "When the fighting breaks out."
"I understand Ma. I don't want to fight but we aren't really given a choice."
"There is always a choice, to those who look for different opportunities, Maddie. So let's go."
In the distance coming behind the house was hoof beats and there were many it almost sounded like faint thunder quickly gaining volume. "Ma, do you hear that, it sounds like horses behind the house?" said Maddie walking around the wrap around porch to see around the house. Her mother lunged forward to drag her daughter away from any impeding danger but it was useless because she underestimated their combating strengths. Her mother already knew what so many horses meant: soldiers. It didn't really matter what side because to her soldiers were soldiers and were only out to destroy her life. Maddie on the other hand was curious; as she broke free from her mother's weak grasp she strolled smoothly across the porch, a stride of soft elegance with a tint of determination. As she turned to see around the house she saw a huge brigade of men on top of horses riding a fast pace seemingly in a hurry to arrive at their destination. There were large uplifts of dirt being kicked up by the horses' hoofs making it hard to distinguish the color of their jackets so Maddie desperately squinted her eyes to differentiate. She found that the jackets were to difficult to see but the hats she saw were clearly blue and not gray also there style was different making these people Yankees. Oh Lord.
"It's the Yankees, Ma."
"Well hurry then and get into the forest."
"We can't they're too close; we'll have to hide and wait till dark. If we go out know they'll see us and follow us into the forest. There are so many of them they would surely get us and then we would just lead them to the cabin."
"Are they really that close?" asked her mother as Maddie shook her head shakily in the positive.
"Alright. Get inside and follow me," said her mother authoritatively and leaving no room for questions. She led her to the kitchen to the cellar where her mother led her down in the dark. She heard her mother go to the right side of the cellar as she heard the fumbling of plank boards against the stone foundation of the house. After that her mother led Maddie behind a shelf that had been pulled out slightly from the wall as to hide the plank boards. Her mother ordered her to enter the dark unknown of the hole in the cellar and Maddie immediately obeyed and with curiosity, wondering exactly where in the house they were. At first Maddie thought she was underground till she walked over and unexpectedly ran into another wall not but two or three feet from where she initially was and it was wooden planks she decided feeling the roughness of old wood, that made the wall she had run into.Behind her she heard her mother moving the planks securely into place so no one would be able to tell that it wasn't just part of the old cellar.
"Ma," whispered Maddie quietly, "Where are we, exactly?"
"Under the porch," she answered her voice nearing silence.
"How long has it been here?"
"Ever since it was built, right after the Revolutionary War, when you're grandfather was just a child."
"Why did great grandfather build a hide out?"
"It was right after the War and he wanted to be sure that he would have a hiding spot for any of his valuables plus he was afraid of the British waging another war with us which they did the War of 1812."
Now extremely close they could hear the talking of men intermingled with the whining of horses. "General Kilpatrick, the house is deserted. No sign of life, barely any supplies or valuables but no dust so they must have just left not too long ago."
"I figured such. They probably heard the news of us coming in and left. Probably was a family of all women that had lost too many lives too care about their property. Oh well. Get into your groups and find neighbors with supplies and since this house is deserted and in nice shape we'll use this as our headquarters till Major Sherman gives us word. You three go and give word to Sherman where we are. I'll be inspecting the house and the cellar."
Maddie was nearly breathless with excitement. She couldn't believe it! Here they were tricking the Yankees. But she slowed down her excitement because now they had to think of a way to escape. They couldn't stay here. How late would the soldiers stay up? She figured all the soldiers sound like they would stay towards the front of the house. If they did,they couldsneak out the back through the slaves quarters and maybe they could go from being seen as they quietly grabbed their horses, or maybe they'd just take one if they removed their hoop skirt.That would be easier. But what would she do till then? Sleep? It seemed like the only action that wouldn't make any noise to bring attention to the porch and it was the course of action or inaction her mother was currently taking. It would be nice being that they hadn't had a real chance for extra sleep of late. So Maddie drifted off dreaming of tricking the Yankees and getting to the cabin. Something she was against earlier but the thought made sens nowand would be an adventure to be sure.
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