Chapter 2: The Yankee Rescuers
Maddie was roused by her mother's hand gently patting her shoulder telling her to rise. Isn't it a bit early to be awake, was all her mind was screaming at her. There was no sun in her room, no it isn't my room. The underside of the porch had blocked most of the sun's rays but now there were no rays to be seen even in between the wooden planks above and around her. A few inches from her face she saw her mother's benign face looking at her with concern. "Are you up now, Maddie?" she whispered.
"Yes, Ma. Sorry I was more tired than I thought. Are we going to wait some more and see if they are all settled down?"
"I had hoped they would have been by now," sadly commented her mother, "but it seems that they are late-nighters. Most northern men are, you know?" she huffed superiorly as they sat in for a long wait. Maddie's sight could of course only help her so much in this situation. She listened for a great while seeing what she could. She had though picked up bits and pieces of their conversation. There was a great deal of activity upon their porch it seemed. Men were being men; talking of home, women and the great almighty war. She was often wincing at their crudeness and coarseness.
Eventually, the noise simmered down to a soft murmur that was a distance from the porch. "Do you think it would be safe now, Ma?" asked Maddie hopefully.
After a long lingering pause she finally answered, "Yes, I suppose but we must move very quietly."
"Ah, then we should take off our hoop skirts. It makes such a horrid fuss," said Maddie already removing hers with haste and dropping it on the weeded ground. Her mother was watching with horror at such a reckless display of indecency.
"Maddie," she whispered reproachfully, "the ideas that pop into your head."
"But mother they do make quite a bit of noise," insisted Maddie again. "We won't get caught without them. And this is war Ma, we can do without all this nonsense."
"It's against what I taught you. And I refuse to partake in it," stated her mother quite unwilling to dispose of her hoop skirt.
"Oh it's not like I asked you to disrobe, Ma."
"Oh hush! We have talked quite enough. Let's just get out of here. I don't wish to spend another minute more than I have to," she pronounced as she quickly lead Maddie to the paneling which she gently and quietly pulled away and handed to Maddie to hold. She moved, as quietly as possible the little shelf that was so bare now that it was no task to move it over. Quietly they moved into the cellar, replacing the planks quietly so no one should know that they were there. There was no one in the kitchen, which was located in the rear of the plantation mansion. They sneaked open the back door and saw a seemingly empty field of land.
Quietly lifting up their skirts to be able to move much more quickly and efficiently, Maddie and her Mother made their way across the wide field. While quietly moving across they came across a bit of noise, coarse laughter. They squinted in the darkness to make out the silhouette of a group of large bearded men with what looked like bottles in their hands. There was no fire or lantern lit so it might be possible to evade them. Maddie signaled to her mother to move further north of the group so not to be seen and hopefully make it into the forest without confrontation. But Maddie and her mother were making quite a bit of noise; the crunching of the grass and sticks were substantial enough for even a bunch of drunks to hear and be wary of.
The men began conversing more superstitiously. "What en the 'ell was that?"
"Don't think it's a bunch of Rebels, do you?"
"Well, let's see. If it is a bunch of Rebels, we'll show them how ungracious it is to sneak up on us while having a bit of a celebration."
"Yeah, grab the lantern!!"
The group of three men slowly made their way towards the alleged Rebel soldiers and was quite dumbfounded when their lantern stumbled upon two Rebel women who looked like two deer caught in some headlights. "Well, boys it looks like we got the wrong type of Rebels. These ladies surely wouldn't mind a little company. But lookie here, it looks like they're going on a little trip. Where are you ladies headed so late at night?"
Instinctively, Mary moved in front of her daughter and released her skirt from her grasp letting it drop to the ground while unconsciously going for her shawl to wrap it more fully around herself. She lifted her head high and gave them a look of absolute loathing. "Our whereabouts surely are no affair of yours, sir. We are just trying to pass by this county in one piece, so if you please . . ."
"In one piece you say? It doesn't look like it to me," mentioned the burliest of the bunch, "you're shawl Madame has clearly seen better days and you're dress is tattered. But if you're worried about being in one piece after we are done with you . . . please worry not because surely you won't die or lose a limb from a little Northern company."
"But the fact of the matter is that we have had plenty of Northern Company and it hinders our journey through this area. So as you can see we are quite fine without your assistance. Now please, sirs, let us pass."
"Oh but we couldn't possibly let two pretty ladies like yourself pass through without a little fun. You two are quite the picture-tattered shawls and dresses but you Madame are quite fine looking even if you're a bit aged."
"Hey, I like 'em aged. A bit like wine-they're bitter but better for it."
"Oh, is that true Piers? I always found the young, innocent ones more for my liking. Like the beauty behind the old hag. Now I think I will just have a little chat. As a gentleman, I couldn't possibly let a lady like this wander around without ample assistance, now could I boys?" And at the end of this sentence the smaller man of the group, his name quite unknown, had moved Mary out of Maddie's way and this man was trying to lead Maddie away from her mother. His hand was strongly leading her, or pushing her towards their camp.
"Now surely, you don't have the same reservations as that old hag? Huh, sweetheart?"
Maddie looked up into this man's red face. "You're drunk," she said as she quickly sauntered away from his groping hands but not before his friends caught her, roughly pushing her back to the her previous captor.
"Where do you think you're going, girlie?" asked the burly one.
"Away from you damn, Yankees. Get your filthy hands off of me," she hissed at them as she spit in the burly one's face.
"Why you little bitch?!" he roared.
"Calm down, Piers. Go take your hag," yelled the small man. "You are an interesting little bitch. I like you, you're tough. But I'm tougher!" he laughed as he roughly groped her body close to his as she struggled to escape with all her might; she was screaming, cussing, spitting and hitting him but to no avail he wouldn't release her.
While her poor mother, Mary, was being groped and slammed onto the ground.
"What the fuck is going on here? Piers!! Get off that woman! Spinner, you will release this girl this moment!!!" They all looked up at the loud sound in the dark and that's when they saw a tall, muscular man carrying himself with utmost confidence. He had light hair and dark eyes and a tanned complexion. He was being followed by a timid man who was just as tall though he seemed shorter with dark hair and light eyes-a sparklingly blue and a light complexion. He carried himself as most men did in war, wearily. They both looked like two bears that had been awoken from their hibernation and looked a bit gruff.
"Oh you think, Jeb, that just because you got promoted to Major that you can boss us around now like the big General?"
"Well, when you are acting like that then, yah I can do what the hell I want. You're a drunk and the army should have no use for you?"
"But they do, don't they? I have a whole lot of use."
"Yeah, the only use you'll ever really have is dead so that I can use your body to block the bullets that come my way. Release them!!! Now!"
"Jeb, don't you think that's a bit harsh. Surely he must have one good point," interrupted his companion hopefully.
"Can you think of one Drew?"
"Well, I don't know them that well I guess but you must admit he was a way with cards."
"You're impossible, Drew. You would have thought that the war would have hardened you up. But that's not what we are discussing right now. Release the women!!"
"Ah come on, Jeb. They are just a bunch of Rebels!! What's the difference? No one will know."
"I will know. And they are not just Rebels, they are Rebel bystanders. They are not soldiers so don't treat them with hate."
"You only say that because you yourself are a Southern bastard!" yelled Spinner to the shock of everyone around them. It seemed "Jeb" had no more to say. He was hurt you could tell by his face. He was ashamed but it was only there for a second before indifference and a fierce coldness came over all his features. He said no more to the men but Jeb came walking over to Maddie with determination. He released her and brought her along with him through the Yankee encampment. She quickly turned her head and saw that "Drew" man was helping her mother and bringing her in the same direction.
There was no talking being done by the man called "Jeb" though Maddie could hear the "Drew" man trying to console her mother. He seemed like a good soul though Maddie was still a little wary of any of the Yankee men she passed by, even in their sleep they looked dangerous. They passed by a great number of slumbering men and were headed in the direction of what looked like a large tent. When they reached the tent, he stopped in front of the entrance and said, "Wait here, please, miss." And in he went followed by his friend who whispered to them, "Not to worry, you are safe, now."
Maddie was nervous about what was going on. This was not how it was supposed to go. It's gone all wrong and now they'd never be able to get out of here and to their cabin deep in the woods. But it seemed that her mother was feeling much better and felt like talking in soft tones, "That Major McFinnan was one fine gentleman the way he took care of us. His friend looked awfully gruff, he didn't hurt you did he?"
"No, he didn't do anything or say anything to me really. Major McFinnan is the dark haired man then, I suppose?"
"Oh yes and what a gentleman. He tells me his friends name is Major Blanc and is normally quite nice but he doesn't like to show it. Odd, isn't?"
"What is odd, Ma?"
"How different friends can be?"
"I guess, though Madeline and I are the same. She's much too elegant and refined. She'll get hurt if she's not careful."
"Well her Pa wasn't able to fight so I'm sure she'll be well taken care of. They already left last month too."
"Yeah, went down to Savannah to be with her father's family." It was then that a silence over took the two who though feeling more relaxed, knew it wouldn't last. They were stuck here, there was no way they were going to be allowed to go back to their cabin with their slaves and worldly possessions. It felt like that dark curtain falling and smothering their thoughts. Its odd, thought Maddie, before now all I wanted to do is fight the Yankees but now that I'm here with them. Run! Its all that's coming to my mind. What an awful coward I am!
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