Chapter 1- Mary Ann
The distinct sound of wagon wheels was heard across the farm, bringing the Smythe family out of their house. The parents were looking ahead with weary eyes that displayed sadness towards the coming object, and people aboard it. Not knowing who it was, their three daughters just stared, puzzled. It was a hot July day and visitors were not expected. Elizabeth May, 18, stared ahead, too, but with a faint smile on her lips. With her keen eyesight, she spotted two young men driving the wagon. Susanna Rose, 13 years of age and the youngest, felt happy just to see someone arrive into her usual day. Mary Ann, 15, felt a tight knot on her stomach. Her parents had told them nothing of visitors; if it was a normal occasion, they would have discussed over dinner. With every inch the wagon took forward, Mary Ann was more worried. She hoped it had nothing to do with the upcoming war. Everyone in Minnesota, no, in the country, was talking about it. Everyone was sure it would only last a month or two. She hoped they were right; she couldn't stand to see so many men dying. Mary was horrified with the posters put around the town, especially the first she had seen them. Winona, the town the family lived in, was roaring with gossip of the war, most false. One thing was agreed on by everyone, though: the Rebels were in for a beating.
The wagon had stopped in front of the house, aboard it two young men. Everything's all right, they're here to do business, Mary tried to reassure herself, but to no avail. They conversed with John, her father, softly, and barely audible. She overheard the words farm, care, and crops. Surely they're talking about business. Wait, what if they're selling the farm?!, Mary Ann wondered frantically.
"I'll miss you all a lot, but I know you are strong and comprehend my actions," John said to his family, hugging each person. He entered into their house to retrieve something, and their mother, Charlotte, burst into tears.
"What's going on?" Mary asked Elizabeth in a whisper.
"Don't you understand?" she replied, rolling her eyes.
Mary shook her head sincerely. She really had no idea where their father was going. Elizabeth's face softened.
"He's--" Elizabeth started, but stopped when John pranced out of the house. Mary stood gaping at him. He was holding the unmistakable items she was so dreading. Food in one hand, and shoes ready for a long way to walk.. The entire family quieted when they saw him. Each took one good look at him, to have stored in their memories. What if something happens to him? No, nothing will happen to him; he'll come home safe, Mary argued inside her head. The two young men had disembarked from the wagon, and some items with them. John got on the dirt road, ready to leave. He took a few steps forward, hot food in hand. They all called out goodbyes, but he just waved. No one saw the tears falling upon John's cheeks, and no one would ever. Slowly the feeling, in all its horrid pain, was sinking in. Mary could feel her cheek was moist, but she did not reach up to dry it. Elizabeth hugged Mary softly from her side. Her face was all sympathy, mixed with her own sadness. Mary felt hollow inside, this blow had stricken her hard.
"I don't want our poor dad to go to war," Mary cried.
Chapter 2- Elizabeth May
After the parting from their father, the two young men had introduced themselves. They were to be the ones working the farm while their father was gone. Their names were Joshua and Caleb Slater. Joshua was 19; Caleb 16. The three girls were uncomfortable around them, since they didn't know them, but they did not argue with their father's decision. The boys were going to sleep in a small house made of clay bricks, located behind their house. Charlotte went off to make dinner, and the three daughters and the field hands were left in silence.
"So, where are you from?" Elizabeth asked, breaking the quiet.
"We're from Michigan Territory*," Joshua replied.
"Oh, well then why are you working here?" Mary shot back, narrowing her eyes. Right after she said it, she received a firm nudge from Elizabeth.
"If you don't want to answer that…" Elizabeth added quickly.
"No, it's okay. Your pa is good friends with our folks," Caleb replied.
"Good friends don't work for each other."
Mary received yet another nudge. Please stop talking, please stop talking, Elizabeth wished with all her might.
"No, they help each other out. We did not expect pay, but your father insisted," Caleb continued.
Elizabeth opened her mouth, then closed it. She thought Mary was going to end it.
"You could have refused," Mary said quickly, and walked away quickly, so Caleb had no time to reply.
"She's always like that, don't take it personally," Susanna finally spoke up. The wind picked up, and Susanna lifted her skirts so she wouldn't dirty them.
"Goodbye," she called as she walked into the house.
"I'm sorry about my sister, really, she--"
"Don't worry about it. Speaking of her, where'd she go?" Caleb asked.
"Somewhere around the forest."
"I'll go find her."
Elizabeth and Joshua were left alone, and it was a bit awkward.
"So…have you seen the entire house?"
"No, actually. I probably should see the field."
"Yea, of course. Well, bye."
"But I could see the rest of the place, you know, so I won't get lost," he
*MICHIGAN TERRITORY WAS AT THE TIME WHERE MICHIGAN AND WISCONSIN ARE NOW
said as he smiled.
Elizabeth couldn't help, but smile, and started showing him the place.
"Well, this is where we live," she said, gesturing towards her house, and as she went around the house, she pointed to a small building pretty far back.
"And that's where you live. The well is over there, and the stable is over here. I think you can figure out where the field is."
"What's that over there?" Joshua asked, pointing to a crumbling building.
"Oh, that's an abandoned stable, we don't use it because we're afraid it might collapse."
They stayed staring at it for a few minutes, until Elizabeth felt Joshua staring at her.
Joshua was interrupted by Charlotte calling Elizabeth from the back door.
"Could you go tell everyone that dinner will be ready in ten minutes?"
Elizabeth nodded, with a sigh, but started walking towards the forest.
Joshua noticed it was darkening, and the forest was too.
"Do you want me to go with you?" Joshua asked Elizabeth.
She declined because she didn't want to seem clingy. When she saw the forest in front of her, it was terrifying. But she was not going to run to Joshua because she was scared. Even though she really wanted to.
Chapter 3- Susanna Rose
Even though she was the youngest, Susanna was no fool. She knew when something was going on. For example, she had seen Elizabeth talking with Joshua. And why she had scolded Mary so much was obvious to her why. And there was something else that was strange in the Smythe household. Mary Ann, what a surprise!, had a secret of her own. She thought no one noticed, and maybe no on except her didn't, that she disappeared for spells and was always so hungry. Once, Susanna had tried to follow Mary, but she was caught and given a good shaking, not to mention yelling. Susanna was still determined to find out what both her sisters were up to, and possibly stop them, if it did her any good.
Her mind was also worried about the war. It was supposed to be short, and she believed this whole-heartedly, but she still felt strange. This feeling had settled on her since the Rebels open fired on Fort Sumter, back in April. Now they were rounding up soldiers to fight possibly one battle, and then go home.
"Susanna can you come set the table?"
"Yes, but where is everyone else?"
"Well, Elizabeth went to find Mary and Caleb and Joshua…"
At that moment, Joshua entered through the back door.
"Well, here he is."
"Joshua, your seat is right here. Don't worry about the table, I'm taking care of it," Susanna said.
"Where does your sister sit?"
"Why, right next to you."
Joshua smiled, and so did she. Susanna hurriedly finished with the table., with a special plan in mind. She was not going to let any guy get close to her sister, and she was going to have a little fun on the way.
Chapter 4- Mary Ann
Arms filled with food she had been hiding that day, Mary walked towards the abandoned stable. All of a sudden, she heard footsteps behind her. She stopped, and they stopped. It better not be Susanna, Mary thought. She resumed walking, and so did the owner of the mysterious footsteps. She stopped, and so did they. She quickly whirled around.
"What are you doing?" Mary asked harshly.
"What are you doing?" Caleb replied.
"None of your business. Now stop following me."
Mary started walking, and so did he.
"I don't think you understood me, go home."
Caleb turned and started walking the other way.
Mary got to the stable, went inside, and returned empty-handed. She closed the door, and its lock. As she turned around, Caleb stood right behind her. Mary gave out a soft yell.
"I thought you went home," Mary said, trying to sound angry, but coming out scared.
"What are you doing here?" Caleb demanded, narrowing his eyes. He was closing in on her.
"I was, um--"
"You were what?"
Mary gulped, and started getting hot. He's going to discover it. No, he can't. If he finds it out himself, I'll tell him, but not until then. Anyways he's not smart enough to even guess what's in there.
Mary smiled, and Caleb's face fell. He knew that she was planning something, and that was never a good thing.
"Oh, come on, tell me," Caleb said, but he already knew that when Mary made up her mind, no one could change it.
Mary laughed out loud, a laugh with an edge of cruelness.
"Why do you want to know what's inside so much?"
"I don't know, but I just do. It's like when they give you a present, you already saw there is something inside, and you're dying to know what's inside."
"Yeah, except this doesn't even concern you."
Caleb nodded, and Mary felt a pang of pity for him.
He was only being curious. Maybe I shouldn't have been so mean to him. No, he can't find out, plus he's being nosy. Mary's mind was racing.
"So are you going to tell me?"
"No, and stop asking, because I will never tell you."
Chapter 5- Elizabeth May
When she could hear Caleb and Mary talking, Elizabeth yelled to them the message she was sent to deliver. She turned around and practically ran back to the house. She arrived to see Susanna setting the table, Joshua sitting at one end, and her mother putting the food on the table.
"Elizabeth, I have all the seats arranged. You sit here," Susanna told her, seating her at the other end from where Joshua was.
Just then, Caleb and Mary entered. They were also led by Susanna to their seats, which were right next to each other. So, it was their mother at one end, to her left, Elizabeth, then Susanna. To her right, Caleb, then Mary, then Joshua. The seat at the other end was a seat no one except their father could occupy.
Elizabeth saw Caleb talking softly while she finished setting the table. He wore a frown, and she a smile.
When everything was ready, they all prayed, and ate the delicious food. Elizabeth talked a but with her mother, but after that, she was silent. Mary and Caleb were arguing, much to Mrs. Smythe's dismay.
After dinner, Elizabeth signaled to Mary to go outside with her. As they walked, they conversed.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Liz?"
"Yes. It's not fair that they don't let us help our country. Just because we're female."
"I just thought, after father leaving--"
"Just another reason. I'll be alright."
" Okay, we'll plan it all soon."
"Let's go, or they'll get suspicious."
When they returned, they were confronted by Susanna. They both froze.
"What were you talking about?"
"Well, you know…"Mary couldn't think of anything.
"Just talking about Joshua and Caleb," Elizabeth said quickly, praying that they weren't hearing the conversation.
"Yea, um, we were just a bit embarrassed to admit it."
Susanna nodded, and left.
As Elizabeth walked to her room, she saw Joshua and Caleb talking softly in the living room. That was a very very bad thing. In the living room, you could hear everything being said in the dining room. That meant they had heard the conversation. Elizabeth was mortified.
Just then, they both got up, and saw her. Her face was burning.
They said goodnight to her. Before he left, Joshua said to her,
"Don't worry, we were talking about you too."
Chapter 6- Susanna Rose
Susanna had succeeded in her plan. Joshua had gotten a bit angry, but at least Elizabeth hadn't confronted her yet. But that wouldn't do. Susanna knew her sisters were up to something. She had pretended she believed their excuse, but she knew there was something more. And that excuse had brought Elizabeth and Joshua closer, much to Susanna's discontent.
She knew she had to find out what Elizabeth and Mary were up to, and fast.
The next day, Susanna woke up with an idea in her head. It was simple, yet it was exactly what she needed. She woke up early, as usual, and found Joshua and Caleb eating breakfast. She knew they would be there.
"Good morning," Susanna said to them both. They replied, and went back to eating. Caleb excused himself, but Joshua stayed. So far, everything was going just as planned.
Susanna sat next to him, and started talking.
"Joshua, you know when Elizabeth and Mary were talking yesterday?"
"Well, you do know what they were talking about, right?"
"I think so."
"Well, aren't you mad at Elizabeth?"
"Why would I be mad at her?"
"Well you said you knew what they talked about."
"Maybe I don't… What did they say?"
"I thought you already knew, sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up. I have to go," Susanna said, getting up. Joshua got her arm, stopping her from leaving.
"What did they say?" Joshua asked again, a little angry.
"Well, Elizabeth was telling Mary that, well, that you seemed like you liked her and that you didn't even know she had a boyfriend. And they were laughing."
"How do you know they said that?" Joshua said, with a hurt expression.
"Well, you know, I am their sister, and they tell me things."
He cleaned up what he was using and stormed out of the house. Susanna was sitting at the table, with a smile. Now she had to make up something to Elizabeth.
She waited until Elizabeth woke up, and nearly tackled her as she appeared in the kitchen door.
"Elizabeth, I have to tell you something."
"Can't it wait?"
"It's about Joshua." Elizabeth scrambled to the table, and sat beside Susanna.
"What were you going to say?"
"Well, you know, he's mad at you."
"Why?" Elizabeth said, sadly.
"He found out you liked him, and he just got mad. I think he said something about a girlfriend."
"Oh." Elizabeth went back to her room.
Susanna had completed what she had set out to do. She would let the rest take care of its self.
Now she had to get Mary.
Chapter 7- Mary Ann
Mary had already done her morning trip to the stable without any complications. Now she had another thing on her mind, too. She had to help Elizabeth with something. It was risky, but they were both willing to do it. She was scared Caleb would find out again.
She was so filled with problems, Mary decided to go take a walk. She walked through the forest, heading for the river. That was the place she went to calm down, or think things through.
As she approached, the sound of moving water calmed her. The only other thing heard was the chirps of birds, and the rustle of her feet against the forest floor.
But then there was another sound heard. It sounded like someone crying. The first person Mary thought of was Elizabeth. It was most likely her. But as she approached, she got a surprise.
On the banks there was only one person, and they were looking out across the river and crying. It wasn't a loud, wailing cry, though. It was more tears, and you had to get close to even hear them.
He turned around, and started drying his face. Before he could get up, Mary turned and started to go.
"It's okay, you don't have to go."
Mary turned and walked over to him.
"There has to be something wrong."
"It's kind of a long story."
"I've got time," Mary replied, sitting down.
"Well, before we came here, about eight months ago, our, our mother died."
"I'm so sorry."
"And that kind of destroyed Joshua and me. We were devastated. She had been ill for a few years, and I guess it put her out of her misery, but it still hurt. She was such a wonderful person, everyone that knew her thought the same. She always put everyone else before herself. We didn't know until after she died, that she refused to buy medications to get us new shoes. We knew it was coming at us, but its different thinking about it, and then it actually happening. I like coming here, because it's so peaceful."
"I know what you mean. I always come here and think, it makes things easier to sort out."
"Coming here, I saw your stable. By the way, I'm sorry about he other day."
"Don't be. It's all my fault. I'm sorry. Just to show you that I'm not as mean as I seem, I'll tell, and show you, what's inside."
"Really?" Mary nodded, and smiled.
"But you have to swear not to tell anyone."
"Okay, I swear."
"Well, I'm helping some slaves run away to Canada."
Caleb's eyes widened.
"Wow, that was the last thing I would've guessed."
"Do you want to go meet them?"
They walked over to the stable, and entered.