An averaged-size farm close to town. A two-storey farmhouse with a beautiful porch sits across from a wooden stable where four horses and a buggy reside. There's a chicken shed about ten feet away beside it, with a stream of chickens pecking at the ground and an ornery rooster living on the roof. In the fields, potatoes and other crops grow with the careful tending by Howard Caine and his wife, Mary. His mother Annie likes to sit on the porch, and his oldest daughter Kath likes to sit with the horses. Lily, a quiet little girl, prefers to sit and play with her dolls. Maggie, however, likes to run around and play. The family is still haunted by the loss of their brother and son James.7/7/2008 . Edited 8/16/2008 #1
((Meet you at the hospital?))7/7/2008 #2
"It twas a pleasure," he said his doopy smile returning.
Katherine smiled shyly.
"Hopefully this won't be the last time." she said.
An old man glanced across the fence, adjusting his hat as he sought to get a better glance at the man walking his daughter home.
"Coming Pa!" she shouted back.
"Hopefully." He waved at her dad cheerfuly.
Katherine turned shyly, marching back down the slope to her father. She glanced back once, and her father sighed.
"Get your head on straight, girl." he said, glancing at her. "You didn't even sell the carrots."
Katherine just stared at her father.
"Nobody wanted them." she lied.
Brighelm waved and watched her go.
Three Days Later...
Katherine adjusted her bonnet and smoothed her dress, clutching the basket and telling herself not to forget this time around. She smiled satisfactorily as she reached the general store without a single thought to interrupt her assignment.
(Back to town)7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #4
"Alright." she said, opening the gate. "You head over to the barn; I have to get something from the house first."
"Okay." He veered toward the barn and waited.
Katherine came out of the house and trudged to the barn, carrying an altered wheelbarrow that looked like a small plough. She grinned at the site of Patrick.
"Dog cart." she explained, tying the leather straps around Vitus as he squirmed excitedly.
She instructed the dog to sit, then began to lift some of the heavy boxes.
"Just open them up and put them in the 'barrow." she explained through her teeth.
He smiled back at her then did as he was told.
She sighed as she put the potatoes in Vitus' cart. Turning to Patrick, she smiled.
"So tell me," she asked. "What's a day in the life of a soldier in town?"
She chuckled and patted Vitus' head as she reached for another box.
"Get up, sit around, and wait for orders and go to bed."
"Sounds fun." she joked. "Better than my day."
Vitus barked as if in agreement.
Brighelm laughed and patted the dog's head. "If you say it its gotta be true."
Katherine sighed dramatically.
"Get up, eat, work in the garden, make lunch, eat, go working again, sell the crops, bed." she said. "Every single day since I was three years old, even on Sunday."
"That's tough. But at least know one shoots at you. I've been in the army snice 15."
"Yikes." Kath said. "Must be tough. You ever been shot?"
Vitus whined, eager to get going. Kath then realized it probably wasn't too polite to ask him that.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to ask..."
"Its okay," he said. "I''ve been shot.." He counted on his fingers then moved to his other hand "Six times."
Katherine just stood there, her mouth agape.
"Wow..." she mumbled. "That's.. well, for lack of a better word, insane."
She smiled and unloaded her last box into her basket.
"Four in mexico, and two in this war."
"Seems like you've been around the world." she said with a chuckle. "You ever think about leaving the army; maybe just going home?"
"I really dpn't have a home," he said. "Can't go back to Ireland, can't go back to Georgia my wife and baby boy died in child brith. Maybe..Boston."
This was the first Katherine had heard of a wife. She stared at him for a moment, then tilted her head.
"Boston?" she wondered. "Why Boston?"
"I had a job there before this war as a meat packer; the factory owner raised this regiment."
Katherine nodded, then glanced at Vitus. He wagged his tail, panting eagerly. She smiled.
"You didn't tell me about your wife." she said to Patrick. "I could understand why, though."
She patted Vitus on the back, and he stood up.
"Twas a long time ago, she was the daughter of my regiment's Sergent Major," he said. "She was wonderful, pretty too."
"You can tell me about her, if you want." she said, patting Vitus. He shot off, trotting at a pace to avoid spilling lunch. Katherine hesitantly took Patrick's arm, ready to pull away at a moment's notice. The last thing she wanted to do was scare the crap out of him.
He didn't notice she had he was lost in thought. In his mind she live again.
Katherine smiled gently, seeing the look in his eyes and she knew not to interrupt. Vitus carried on ahead, the people in the street stopping to stare at the funny-looking dog carrying a wheelbarrow of potatoes.
((To town... again...))7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #5
Katherine was already up, beating the front porch with a broom. Vitus was running around the barnyard, barking excitedly as a rabbit ran just beyond his grasp. She leaned on the broomstick, watching the dog with an amused grin.
"Get it, boy!" she called, causing the dog to bark even louder.
Brighelm watched the dog grinning.
The dog sensed something, then turned his head. He ran with a huge leap between steps towards Patrick and lept onto him, his paws on his shoulders. He opened his mouth and gave the man a huge, slobbery lick.
Katherine just laughed.
"What brings you here, Patrick?" she asked.
"Just wondering," he set the dog down and laughed.
Katherine laughed as the dog trotted off, getting his head scratched as he walked by.
"Wondering what?" she asked, "If I was still here?"
She did a twirl.
"I'm all here."
He smiled. "I'm glad."
Katherine laughed, grinning broadly.
"So?" she asked, taking his arm. "What were you wondering about?"
He shrugged. "If you were here, if you wanted to see again..I don't know.."
"Well, I think you know the answer to both." she said with a smile. "Want to help? See what farm life is like for awhile?"
"Why not...but me da was a barley farmer for a few years.."
"Just to refresh your memory, maybe?"
Kath smirked and led him down towards the farmyard.
"Hopefully you didn't just shine your shoes." she teased. "It gets pretty bad in the chicken pen."
"Nope i'm too lazy to do that."
Katherine nodded and stopped in front of the gate fiddling with the latch until it was open.
"Watch the rooster." she said. "Darn thing's gonna kill someone someday."
He walked forward and peered around for the bird.
"He's on the roof." she said, pointing. "Just avoid getting under it or he'll jump."
He nodded. "How ccan I help?"
"See those tufts of grass close to the house?" she directed. "See if there are any eggs there. The hens have a tendency to ignore the nests. Prefer to do whatever they darn well please."
He walked combing the grass for eggs and found one and gave it to her.
"Thanks." she said with a smile, putting it in her basket along with the three she'd found. "Now we need to let them loose."
Katherine gripped her skirts and lifted the hatch, allowing an endless stream of hens to file out like an untamed river.
"Watch out!" She warned as the rooster lept from the roof.7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #6
He caught the bird and rustled it quit but then fell backward into a plle of chicken shite.
Katherine covered her mouth, trying to keep from laughing.
"Are you okay?" she asked, getting down on her knees to help him. "That bird's a tough customer."
He jumped to his feet, covered in shite. "I'm okay.."
"Then you wouldn't mind helping me up?" she asked. "From the looks of you I'd rather not get my hands in it."
"Okay." He did what needed to be done. "When were finished could I get cleaned up...?"
"There's a well around back." she said. "I'll go see if they left anything in the chicken house."
"Could you.." he struggled with the words. "Wash my uniform?"
Katherine nodded with a smirk.
"If you'll let me. I'll see if I can find one of my Pa's shirts for you to wear in the meantime if you'd like."
"I'll be right back."
She went into the chicken house, searching high and low for eggs. When her basket was full, she climbed out and set the eggs by the pump. She then went into the house to search for clothes for Patrick to wear. Vitus went over to him and wagged his tail, seeming to mock Patrick for his tussle with the rooster.
"Oh, and you coulda done it better, my boy?" He stooped down to pet him.
Vitus woofed as if saying he could, then proceeded to roll in the chicken crap. Katherine ran out of the house, groaning.
"Vitus!" she scolded, "Ugh, Pa won't be too happy now!"
The dog looked up, tongue lolling and his muzzle turned up in a grin.
"He showed me," said Brighelm. He then dumped well water over the dog.
Katherine chuckled, rubbing the only part of the dog that wasn't covered in shite - his ear.
"Oh well." she said. "Here's some clothes. You could change behind the shed, the neighbors don't get nosy that much."
"Thanks.." He walked off and changed.
Katherine smirked as Vitus tried to follow him.
"Sorry boy." she said, tugging him away. "Besides, I thought you were my dog."
He steeped out a few moments later.
"Well well, haven't seen you in civillian clothes yet." she grinned.
"Like what you see?" he asked turning.
"Very much." she said with a nod. "Now that's something I wouldn't mind seeing."
"I wouldn't mind it myself."
Katherine chuckled and stood in front of him.
"Sure looks better on you than that uniform." she said, adjusting the collar of his shirt.
Vitus rolled on his side and belched.
He stood back and looked down at himself.
Katherine backed away, then tilted her head.
"So is it invisible or am I not washing the uniform?" she asked, calling Vitus to her side.
He handed it to her. "I..just feel rotten making you do it.."
She raised her eyebrows.
"It's no trouble." she said. "Besides, it means you either return in my Pa's clothes and the others suspect something, or you stick around for a bit."
"I won't mind that," he said pecking her lips.
"Me neither." she agreed. "Now, before Vitus decides to roll again, let's get this washed."
Vitus' ears perked up, and he began running towards them.
He nodded and began to help.
She pulled back her hair and rolled up her sleeves, pumping water into a large basin. Vitus barked and bounded into the tub, sitting down in the water.
"No Vitus." she said, pulling him out. "No bath."
Vitus grumbled and lay down on the grass.
Brighelm lifted it into the water.
Katherine smiled, finding the lye soap and washboard by the pump.
"So tell me about the army." she said, making suds in the tub. "Or anything, really. This might take awhile."7/7/2008 #7
"Well..." he paused. "Anything you really wanna know?"
"Tell me about your wife." she asked gently. "If you'd like."
He didn't say anything for a moment but then spoke, "After my first winter in Boston, I decided to had South and wond up in Georgia. Cuz I had no job the army seemed the place to go. I joined an Irish unit and she happened top be the daughter of the SergentMajor, we just cheated a bit and became close friends..it grew from there. She had long blond hair and green eyes full od passion, but they would turn icey when she was mad..She grew up in Scotland and came to Georgia when she was 12."
Katherine smiled, scrubbing the coat and listening intently.
"That's about it.."
"What was it you liked about her?" she asked, causing Vitus' ears to twitch.
"Just about everything..."
"She was lucky." she decided, standing up and shaking the coat in the wind.
Vitus stood up and lay beside Patrick, the dog's head on his foot.
"She had you." she said simply, hanging up the coat on a line.
The dog opened one eye and covered it with his paw.
He walked over to and kissed her.
Katherine kissed him back, pulling away a bit and looking up at him with a smile.
"What was that for?" she asked, chuckling.
"I don't know."
"Alright then," she giggled, "Let me finish this."
She turned back to the tub.7/7/2008 #8
Kath scrubbed at the chicken crap, then tilted her head.
"What did she think about you and being in the army?"
"I thought it was nice, she was always there if somethin happened. But the only reason I joined again was because she died."
"You would've left the army for her?"
"I did," he said. "We were on our way back to Boston when she had the baby."
Katherine was impressed.
"I thought you were a diehard soldier." she said. "You've got quite the heart there."
"I always fight for money or to protect the ones I love.."
She hung his trousers on the line and returned to her spot.
Vitus whined, getting up and yawning in Patrick's face. Katherine chuckled.
"Come on boy, no dog breath." she said.
Patrick just laughed. "Think he wants me to make a move or something.." he didn't mean to say that outloud
Katherine grinned and laughed.
"I think he just wants you to move." she said. "Although..."
He moved and then walked toward her. "What."
She turned to him with a smirk.
"Vitus is a very confusing dog." she said innocently. "You never know what he'll mean."
Vitus sneezed, hanging his head as if ashamed of them.
Brighelm moved to kiss her and pulled her closer to him.
She chuckled and snaked her arms around his neck, kissing him deeply.
Vitus lept up, seeing Kath's father on the gate.
He pulled away and jumped at the voice.
Katherine stared in horror as the man walked towards them, his face flushed with anger.
"Who do you think you are?" he shouted at Patrick. "Huh?"
"Pa, don't - "
"Not another word, young lady."
Vitus snarled at Patrick, apparently taking the father's side.
Patrick was truly at a loss for words. "I-"'
"You stay away from my girl!" he warned. "Or I'll tan your hide."
"Pa, stop it! He was just - "
Brighelm stood firm but didn't say anything .
Katherine opened her mouth to say something, but the bruise forming on her cheek reminded her that this would be the least of her problems if she didn't leave now. With the fear still in her eyes, she moved towards the clothesline and pulled down Patrick's uniform.
"Here." she said to him, her head bowed. "I'm sorry."
She turned and moved towards the house, and left her father standing there.
"I'll come by the camp later." he said firmly. "The last thing this family needs is another soldier."
"You do that, you'll be shot as spy," he warned. "You interfere with me seeing your daughter, I will consider that an attack on a federal soldier and according to gen. order 100 I have ever right too jail you and sezze or distrory any property you hold."
Katherine's father laughed.
"You couldn't." he said, challenging him. "You have no official reason to see Katherine. The only reason you're even here is because you're infatuated with her. I'm protecting my daughter. Protecting her from falling in love with a damn soldier who could up and leave at any moment and break her heart."
His eyes narrowed.
"Tell me you wouldn't do the same thing for your own girl. I dare ya."
"I'd let her be who she wishes to be.."
"She's exactly who she is. Stubborn, witty and innocent. The likes of you have no right to abuse that."
Katherine was watching the exchange from the porch, heart racing. No one ever talked back to her father.
Brighelm stood firm. "What makes you think I would? Yes I may leave, but me heart would stay."
"You could make all the damn promises you want to Katherine and it wouldn't make a difference. What would she do if you got shot? You'd break her heart, boy. You'd break her heart."
Pa stared, hs guard backing down.
"It would," he admitted. "But is that enough to ward off what we could have?"
Katherine slowly got off the porch, standing quietly beside Patrick.
"Pa," she said quietly. "Please, just listen to me."
Pa looked at his girl, and she sighed.
"I know this isn't what you want." she said calmly. "I know you feel bad for what happened to Laura, but that's in the past. I need to make my own mistakes; take my own risks."
She smiled up at Patrick.
"If he'll still have me, I'm willing to risk being a soldier's girl."
"I would," he said glancing back.
Pa looked at the pair of them, sighing.
"Pa, I know that you're worried about me. But... I trust him. He's a good soldier, and a fine man."
She smiled, and her father sighed.
"Well then, I suppose there's no convincing you otherwise."
Brighelm kissed her making her unable to answer.
Katherine smiled against his lips, giggling with triumphant happiness.
Pa, on the other hand, groaned and turned away.
"If I find you in her bed, you're a dead man." he said as his final warning.
Vitus returned, wagging his tail and barking excitedly. He licked Patrick's hand, hoping for forgiveness.
Patrick patted the dog's head and kissed her again.
Behind them, Pa seemed to wretch and Katherine just laughed, continuing to kiss Patrick.
"I thought you were dead for a moment." she teased, continuing her assault on his mouth.
"I thought that too," he said drawing back for air.
"I wonder what the boys back at camp will say when they see you like that." she said, fiddling with the buttons on his shirt playfully. "Or what my father will say at dinner time... Ma won't be too pleased to hear about this. She'll probably remind me of Laura and James."
She rolled her eyes.7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #9
He touched her hands. "He'd really kill me wouldn't he?" he asked grinning. "And who are James and laura?"
"He would, no doubt." she said. "Laura and James? Now that's a story to tell on the walk home."
She looked at the stack of clothes in his hands.
"The coat might be a bit damp, but it should be alright. Back to the shed with you."
He nodded and ran off to change. Then he returned whating for the story.
"You won't mind if I take your arm?" she asked, smiling.
"Not at all," he said kissing her forehead.
Katherine smiled, her hand on his muscle as she walked along.
"Anyways, the story." she sighed. "Well, back when the war began, I had an older brother. James."
"He was a terrible trickster, loved making people laugh. He was courting this girl from church, Laura. Everyone in town firmly believed the two would get married. James said he couldn't do that until he had some honor to put to his name. So he enlisted and left town."
She looked down.
"He died three days after sending a letter to Laura, saying he'd be home soon. She was heartbroken, and sobbed for days. They found her a week later, her father's pistol in her hand, slumped over the desk with his letter in plain view."
Katherine looked up at Patrick sadly.
"Pa's swore he wouldn't let anyone suffer like that. That's why he's reluctant to accept you."
She leaned her head on his shoulder.
"It happened a long time a go." she said, trying to assure him. "I was never close with Laura, and James... we've all gotten over it. He would've wanted us to carry on."
He just nodded.
She kissed his cheek.
"Glad Pa didn't kill you." she said with a chuckle. "I don't what your batallion would've thought."
"I don't know myself..But I'm a captain I lead a Company.."
"A captain?" she said, grinning. "You didn't tell me you were Captain."
"Forgive me if I sound like a sixteen-year-old swooner." she said, flushing bright red.
((To town... I think...))7/7/2008 #10
((Katherine, from town))
At home, Pa was waiting for his daughter. She smiled at him as she went through the gate, and he sighed.
"You're sure?" he asked again.
"Yes." she said confidently."I am."
Pa sighed, and followed her inside for supper.
Katherine took her spot at the table beside her younger sister, who eyed her suspiciously. At the head sat her father, beside him the grandmother, then Ma, and an empty chair beside her. Kath smiled and began to eat, everyone staring at her. They all knew.
Grandma was the first to speak.
"She's too young." she declared.
"Mother, please." Ma said, shaking her head. "She's a good girl and I trust her to make the right decision."
"Thank you, Ma." Kath replied quietly.
Dinner ended quietly and awkwardly, Katherine washing her plate in the water basin then heading up to bed.
Katherine could see the camp through the bedroom window, and chuckled. She hadn't noticed it before. She watched them for a moment, then fell asleep.7/7/2008 #11
The dog looked up, his muzzle covered in chicken crap. Katherine groaned.
"You couldn't wait until dinnertime to get dirty, could you?"
The dog woofed.
Katherine rolled her eyes and dragged Vitus towards the well, gushing water over the dog. She muttered to him, adding a few cuss words every now and then.
"Get dirty again and you'll be dinner." she told the dog. "Got that?"
She collected the eggs and headed into town, glancing around for Patrick before going into the general store.
((To Town))7/7/2008 #12
Kath nodded, clutching tightly. She couldn't help but cry a little from being scared and having a bullet in her leg.
At the farm, Ma was on the porch sweeping. She saw Katherine and Patrick, immediately dropping her broom.
"What happened?" she asked, rushing to meet them with a look of horror on her face.
Tears formed in his eyes from worry. "S-she got..shot..he was aiming at me..oh God...it passed through one side and out the other."
The mother nodded worriedly, reaching out to pat her daughter's face.
"Oh, love." she sighed, "Please, bring her in."
Ma opened the door to the old house and led them inside, glancing back nervously.
"You can set her in the bedroom down the hall." she directed, heading towards the kitchen. "We'll take care of you, Kath, no worries."
Katherine nodded again, looking down at her leg for a moment and going white.
He sat her on the bed. "You going to be alright," he kissed her forehead
Katherine looked up at him.
"Don't cry." she said quietly, putting on a small smile. "Ma's the best here."
She reached up to touch his face, and Ma hurried in with cloth and hot water.
He noded. "You just gotta patch up the hole,the bullet went out."
Ma nodded, smiling up at Patrick.
"Thank you for bringing her here." she said, tilting her head and smiling at Kath. "Our girl's headstrong; had she a gun she prob'ly would've gotten up and shot right back."
Mother and daughter laughed, and Ma turned towards Patrick.
"You can go sit out on the porch for a bit; her Pa won't be home 'til dusk."
He nodded, kissed her forehead and stepped out.
Ma smiled at her daughter.
"He's a good one." she said quietly, moving aside fabric to look at the wound.
Kath chuckled, then hissed as Ma began to clean around the bullethole.
* * *
Sun began to set, and out of the fields came Pa with a bushel of corn under his arm. Needless to say, he was surprised and annoyed to see Patrick on the porch.
"What're you doing here?" he demanded. "Calling on Kath?"
"No, she was shot while in town, I brought her back. She'll be ok."
Pa's eyes widened.
"Shot?" he exclaimed.
He ran towards Patrick, sizing him up.
"You son of a betch, I knew you were up to no good. I'll - "
Ma ran out of the house, glaring at her husband.
"You get away from this man. Saved your girl's life, and this is how you thank him?"
Howard reluctantly backed off, and Ma smiled at Patrick.
"She wants to see you." she told him.
He nodded, glanced at her father then went to see her.
Vitus was lying protectively across the foot of the bed, his head facing the door. He growled in his throat at the site of Patrick.
"Shush." Kath said, quiet yet firm.
The dog groaned and relented, watching the soldier with a trained eye. She chuckled.
"He won't be leaving for awhile, I think."
"That's okay," he said. "How do you feel?"
Kath thought for a moment, then shrugged.
"As good as I could feel with a hole in my leg." she said, smiling. "Could be better."
He smiled. "You took that better than half my men."
"I told you I was tough." she chuckled. "Perhaps I should join your company. Could you imagine Pa's reaction?"
"He'd rip me down the middle."
"After shooting you with every bit of buckshot he had."
Kath chuckled, and Vitus looked up at them.
"I could've died there, couldn't I?" she asked quietly, looking serious for a moment.
"Yes..." he said.
Kath nodded, sighing,. Vitus brought his head up and moved over, licking her hand and resting his jaw on her stomach. She chocked.
"Vitus!" she said, "Off!"
The dog refused to budge.
Brighelm picked up the dog and ruffed its ears.
"Thanks." She said, trying to adjust herself to reach her dog.
"You are a clingy thing," he said petting the dog.
"He's very protective." she corrected with a smile. "Good thing he wasn't there; he would've charged off after him."
Brighelm just laughed. "Woulda given him a metal."
Vitus wagged his tail and licked his cheek. Kath grinned.
"I don't think he would've minded that." she said, scratching the dog's ears.
Brighelm laughed again.
Kath chuckled, then looked up at him.
"Thank you." she said simply.
Vitus stared at her, then looked at Patrick. He grunted and hung his head.
"Anything for you," he said. He ruffed the dog's ears again. "Lighten up."
"Like I said, a very protective dog." she said. "And rather judgemental, apparently."
"looks like it."
The dog jumped from Brighelm's arms and flopped down at Kath's feet, sighing. She chuckled.
"Good riddance, dog." she teased. "I wouldn't have minded being in your position."
He laughed again.
Vitus groaned and snuffled, his ear perking up as Ma came in the doorway with a smile.
"What's so funny, you two?" she teased.
Ma chuckled, stroking the dog's back.
"Vitus is quite a character." she agreed. "Alright Kath, you should get some rest."
"She's right," said Brighelm steeping away.
Kath sighed, watching him. Ma chuckled.
"You could see her tomorrow if you like." she suggested. "I know Kath wouldn't mind."
Bright red, Kath gave a small smile and looked down at the dog.
Brighelm smiled and then headed out.
Pa was standing on the deck, leaning against the wall and eyeing Patrick.
"This is why I don't like you here." she said. "You're a danger to Kath."
He just looked at him, "She does; Doesn't that mean anythin'?"
"Look boy," he said, "She got shot today. By a bullet that was aiming for you. Now you can't just let something like this go by. What if this happens again? What if she dies that time?"7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #13
"You think I'd just let her run loose after that?"
"Was she running loose when you were with her? You were standin' with her, that's why she got hit!"
Brighelm just walked away.
Pa sighed, pressing his palm to his face.
"You'll be the death of her, boy!" he shouted after him.
Inside the house, mother and daughter were both listening. Kath was wrapped in Ma's arms, scared.
"Why does he do this?" she asked, looking at her mother. "Why?"
Ma stroked her hair, shaking her head with a sigh.
"I don't know, hon." she said. "Your Pa's just... being Pa."
Brighelm walked back to camp and lay down.
Kath fell asleep, her Ma sitting with her all night. Pa came in sometimes, just to check on them, but never said a word.
Vitus was on guard, never sleeping until morning came and Kath tried to get up. Ma was woken up by the hiss and foced Kath to sit back down.
"Not today, darlin'." she said. "You're staying right here."7/7/2008 #14
((While Patrick is in town...))
"Can I at least go outside?" she asked. "It's too stuffy in here."
The mother nodded reluctantly.
"Howard!" she yelled. "Come help me."
Together, they managed to bring Kath outside to sit in a rocking chair. Vitus lay at her feet, on guard.
Grandma was also sitting on the porch, eyeing Kath as she knitted.
"When I was your age, we didn't let young soldiers meet us willy-nilly. A boy had to court you properly."
"That was in 1814, grandma." she said with a smile. "And besides, Ma tells me a different story about you and Grandpa."7/7/2008 #15
Brighelm walked up to the house and took everybody in.
Vitus began to bark, and Kath turned her head to see. She smiled broadly.
"Patrick!" she greeted, wishing she could run up to greet him.
Granny began to mutter.
He ran to her and hugged her.
Kath hugged him back, laughing.
"How are you this morning?"
Granny rolled her eyes.
"I'm fine. You? And who's this?"
"I'm better. Patrick, meet my Grandmother." she said, making a sweeping hand gesture towards the old woman. "Grandma, this Patrick."
Granny looked the soldier up and down, then held out her hand.
He clasped her hand. "Its wonderful to meet you, madam."
"At least he's polite." she said, returning to her knitting. "That gets him points with me."
She winked, and Kath groaned.
"Grandma!" she scolded, causing Vitus to stand up and look at Granny with a confused expression. He turned to Patrick and started panting.
Patrick just laughed.
"I wouldn't mind having another soldier in my bed." she said shamelessly. "They know just when to be rough..."
"Alright Grandma, no more please!" Kath continued, beet red. "I think you're even making Vitus want to hide."
Sure enough, the dog had lain down and covered it's eyes with his paws.
"That all sounds lovely but I think i'm suted for someone younger.." He picked up Vitus and set him in his lap.
"Whatever you say, handsome." she chuckled. "It's more fun when they're on the run anyways."
Kath brought her palm to her face, grinning despite her grandmother's antics. Vitus wagged his tail and slurped on Patrick's face
"How you holding up?" He stroked the dog smiling.
"Me?" Kath asked. "I'm doing better. You?"
"Just fine, Just fine."
"Boys back at camp didn't give you too much of a hard time?"
"No, they know I'll make them drill harder."
"Same way I treated ol' Howard's father." she chuckled.
"Please grandma, that's enough."
Patrick just smiled at them, unsure what to say.
"You need to sit down." she decided. "Grandma?"
Granny narrowed her eyes.
"I've been here since the rooster crowed, I'm not getting up until your Pa decided to drag me in."
"Well I can't get him a seat."
"Give him yours!"
Vitus snuffled, seeming to find this hilarious.
"Its fine, I'll stand."
"Sorry." she said, shrugging. "So, did you find the man who fired the shot?"
Vitus raised his head, wagging his tail hopefully.
"They got him."
"Good." Granny declared, putting down her needles and glaring over her nose. "Or I'd have to go huntin' myself."
"I think that's the best thing you've said all day, Granny." Katherine said.
"Well, your soldier's the best-lookin' man I've seen all my life since your Grandpa died. I call it even."
Kath chuckled, then looked at Patrick.
"Are you staying for a bit?" she asked. "Ma'll bring out lunch in a bit."
Patrick turned red. "If you want me to."
"I'd like it." she said.
He kissed her quickly.
"That's my girl!" she said, setting down needles.
Kath giggled nervously.
Brighelm fiddled with her hair and smiled.
Ma came out of the house, looking around.
"Lunch is ready." she said, then looked at Patrick. "Are you joining us?"
Granny got up and went in, eyes twinkling micheviously.
"If you'll have me."
"There's always room for one more." she said, stepping out on the porch and glancing around the farmyard.
A young thirteen-year-old girl ran in from the stable, stopping at the stairs and eyeing Patrick with a narrowed brow. She walked up the stairs slowly and entered the house without a word. Ma sighed.
"Alright now Kath, how do we get you inside?"
"Do you think you can stand?"
"Just need a bit of help."7/7/2008 #16
Patrick carefully lifted her to her feet and put her arm on his shoulder for spourt.
Kath clung to him and began to move slowly towards the table. It still hurt a bit, but it wasn't anything that would make her fall. She smiled up at him.
"Thanks." she said. "Again."
He jusr smiled back.
Ma pulled out a chair for Kath, then gained her own. Ma and Granny both looked please, while Lily tugged on her sister's skirt with a vicious gaze that could scare off anyone. Kath fell into her seat, hissing and glaring back at Lily.
"What was that for?" she asked.
Lily said nothing, just looked around innocently. Ma shot her youngest a look, then directed Patrick to the head of the table.
"Kath's Pa won't be here until later." she assured him.
He nodded and then sat down.
Ma brought over the bread and butter, as well as some corn and chicken. Kath grinned.
"My favorite." she said, taking a bite of her chicken.
Lily rolled her eyes. Vitus sat at Patrick's side, looking up hopefully.
Patrick took at few bits and declared "Wonderful." He set a bone at the dog's feet.
The dog snapped it up quick and retreated to a corner to chew it... loudly.
"Why thank you." she said, taking a bite of the corn.
He nodded then cleaned his plate.
"Don't they feed ya at the camp?" she asked. "You finished that like you've been working in the fields!"
"Well then, you're comin' down here every lunchtime." she commanded. "And don't tell me you can't; otherwise I'll keep your girl from you."
Granny nodded in agreement.
"well ya can't argue agast that."
Vitus barked, and Kath blushed.
"Good." Ma said. "And once that leg gets better, she'll start bringin' food over for your men. Got a good crop this year; and those pesky neighbors already have enough."
"That would be wonderful."
Ma grinned with delight, while Granny and Kath laughed. Lily, however, had the opposite reaction. She threw down her fork and rushed away from the table. her facial expression radiating anger. The rest of the family stared in silence, until Ma reached over to grab Patrick's plate.
"Well, I think you should be satisfied now." she said. "Or are seconds in order?'
"No i'm fine, thank you..for everything," he said. "Did I say something wrong?" His eyes fixed toward the empty chair.
"No, no!" Ma tried to assure him. "You didn't do anything. Lily's just a little... ill."
Ma and Granny exchanged glances, then got up to clear the table. Kath looked over at Patrick with a smile.
"Mind if I borrow you again?" she asked, giggling.7/7/2008 #17
"I sopose not."
Kath stood up with difficulty, clutching to Patrick's arm to keep from falling.
"It just feels numb." she muttered.
"It'll get better," he said helping her on her feet.
"I hope." she sighed. "I don't want to be an invalid all my life."
"You won't," he promised.
"Good." Kath said with relief.
She started to try and move out onto the porch, still clinging to Brighelm for dear life.
"Slow now," he prompted. Then eased her toward the porch
Kath nodded, slowing her pace and sighing.
"Thanks." she said again, giving him a smile.
"Anytime," he said helping her toward a chair.
Kath slid out of his gasp into the old chair, smiling up at him.
"Are you staying for awhile?" she asked. "Or do you have to go?"
"I could stay for awhile.."
"I'd like that." she said.
Vitus ran out onto the porch, wagging his tail.
"Me too." He kissed her for a long moment.
Kath kissed him back, chuckling as she cupped her hand around his neck.
Granny caught them through the window and chuckled.
"Ol' Howard would bring out the gun for this." she said to Ma, who laughed.
Patrick smiled and kissed her again, happily.
Ma sighed and shook her head, smiling to herself.
Kath continued to kiss him, happy to have him here.
"Cue Pa walking in on us." she chuckled.
"If he does, i'm dead," he said kissing her again.
Kath chuckled, still kissing him back. Her hand moved down his neck and across his shoulder, holding his arm.
Kath looked up at him.
She smiled, her hand moving down onto his.
Vitus groaned and shook his muzzle, turning away from the couple and hanging his head in shame.
He clasped her hand tight and smiled.
She smiled and blushed, looking down at their hands and chuckling.
Lily walked through the door and stooped to pet Vitus. She glanced up at them and glared, storming out towards the barn without a word. Kath saw her sister and her smile faded.
"Is something wrong?"
Kath sighed, then shook her head.
"No," she lied, turning back to him. "It's really nothing."
"Its not, I can tell that," he said. "You can tell me."
Kath bit her lip, glancing at Lily then looking down in her lap.
"I don't know how to explain it... I think it comes down to the effect James and Laura had on her. She hasn't spoken a word since they died, and she blames the war for it."
She glanced up.
"I think she's worried about losing me, like Pa."
He nodded. "Would it help if I talked to her?"
"I don't know." she said honestly. "You wouldn't get much of a response."
She sighed, holding her head in her hand.
"I'd try anything to have her back, though."
"All i can do is try," he said, kissing her forehead and slowly approaching Lilly. "May I sit?"
Kath nodded and watched them, hoping her younger sister wouldn't throw a tantrum.
Lily turned her head to look at Patrick, then looked back down without any response. She merely continued to sit in the straw, playing with two dolls whittled from wood.
Patrick plunked down in the straw. "Look, I know what happened to your bother and his girlfriend was a bad thing. I know what its like to loose someone you love, all to well. My whole family pretty much, and my wife and new child. I stayed locked up in my house for months, never said a word myself..but after awhile I began to picture everyone I'd lost the way I wanted to. All happy and I reminded myself that that's what they wanted me to feel and how they wanted to be remembered. I know their boidies have long rotted but I know that who they were can never die. You just try to think about all the good times, okay?" He stood and started away.
Lily stared at him awhile, but looked away as he turned off. For awhile she was quiet, then her small voice - as quiet as a mouse squeak- came through.
"What about Kath?"
She turned her head and stared at Patrick.
"I can't promise that I will return to her safe," He said. "But I will love her as long I'm alive and will do my best to keep her safe."
Lily looked at him, then put her dolls down. She was quiet for a moment.
"I don't want her to get hurt."
"I don't eather."
Lily peered past him, looking over at Kath. She got up and exited without so much as acknowledging Patrick, and ran up to her sister. Vitus glanced up, his ears perked, and Kath looked at her sister.
Brighelm just watched them both.
Lily reached over and hugged her sister. Kath, surprised but delighted, wrapped her arms around her younger sister with a smile. She glanced over at Patrick and sighed.
"Thank you." she mouthed.
Lily looked up and smiled at her sister.
"I'm sorry." she said, looking regretful for a moment.
"For what?" Kath asked.
"For... for being angry."
Kath chuckled and hugged her sister again.
"Go talk to mom." she said. "She'll scream."
Lily grinned and ran off.
Patrick walked back and stood beside Kath.
Kath smiled up at him.
"Well, whaddya know." she chuckled. "Perhaps you're better than I thought."
He just smiled and then hugged her.
Kath laughed, hugging him back.
"You're amazing." she said, chuckling. "A miracle-worker."
"You're just an angel," he mrurred.
Kath smiled and sighed.
"A knight in shining armour." she challenged, teasing him.
Kath tilted her head, smiling.
"I think you are." she said, looking up at him and bringing her hand around his neck gently.
"If you say so.. " he kissed her quickly.
Kath chuckled, kissing him back.
"Everything alright?" she asked, looking concerned.
"umhm," he said. "Why?"
"You're stumbling." she said, referring to his speech. She slid her hand away from his neck and let her fingers get caught in his shirt. "What did you say to Lily?"
"Told her about my family, and how I try to remember of who they were."
"It got to you a bit?" she asked gently.
She desperately wanted to get up and throw her arms around him, and cursed her leg for depriving her of that. Instead, she looked up at him with a sympathetic look.
"I'm sorry." she told him. "I wish... I wish I could take away that pain."
"I just try to remember the good times, that's all I can do." He leaned down and hugged her.
Kath hugged him back.
"Any special ones?" she asked, inviting him to sit on the rail beside her if he wanted.
He sat. "The look on her face when I asked her to marry me and the day I saw my brother in camp, I had know idea he'd joined up."
Kath turned her head to look at him, and listened intently.
"You had a brother?" she asked.
"Three, all of them died. I think I told you that."
Kath shook her head.
"You only told me about your wife and baby." she said. "And your parents."
"What did she do when you asked to marry her?"
"Kindia stood silent for a moment and then the girl tackled me, laughin all the while."
"Sounds like something I would've done."
He smiled and looked around for a bit.
She blushed and put her hand on his knee.
"What about the wedding?" she asked, as captivated as a girl in a fairy tale.
"It was small. Just friends and family. She wore this wonderful dress, its stopped my heart to see her in it."
Kath chuckled, swept into her own fantasy.
Brighelm just laughed. "Girls and weddings."
Kath stared at him, her mouth open in surprise. She grinned and laughed.
"You..." she started, lurching at him despite her leg.
Kath laughed, settling back in her chair.
"Sorry." she said with a grin. "Anyways, what about... oh! When she told you about the baby?"
"I was scared at first, but then I got used to it."
Kath sighed, then looked at him.
"You really loved her, didn't you?" she asked quietly.
He nodded. "She was my best friend."
Kath nodded, looking down. She rested her head on his knee, just thinking.
Pa walked in from the fields and saw the pair. He shook his head, knowing there was no point in arguing this.
He played with her hair, deep in memory.
Kath smiled, loving the feeling of his fingers in her hair.
Vitus looked up at Pa, receiving a scratch between the ears before the old man went inside. Ma, who was sitting at the table with Lily, looked up and saw the look on his face.
"Howard?" she asked, getting up to meet him. "Darlin', what's wrong?"
Lily looked down, guessing what it was.
"It's Katherine." he said, for what felt like the millionth time.
Brighelm smiled and puuled her a little closer.
Kath giggled and looked up at him.
"Do I make you happy enough?" she asked. "I know I couldn't ever replace her... but..."
"Of crouse, I wouldn't be here if I wasn't happy."
Kath sat up and looked at him.
"I have a Pa that's ready to kill you, a grandmother who's ready to bed you, and a sister with enough problems for all of us. And I'm not much of a prize either."
"I wouldn't step foot on this farm if I wasn't living here. Nobody else has in years."
He kissed her. "And its all worth it I get you."
Kath kissed him back.
"You already have me." she told him. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Good." He held her tight.
Kath smiled, sighing comfortably.
Pa watched them through the window, shaking his head.
"This has gone on long enough." he said to himself, turning back towards his wife.
He rubed her back and hummed.
Kath closed her eyes and moaned quietly, in the most comfort she'd ever been in her life.
Ma gripped her husband and stopped him.
"Howard, what are you doing? Leave them be!"
"Mary, look at them!"
"Doesn't look much different than us twenty-six years ago."
He smiled and kissed her hair.
Kath turned her head with a smile, kissing him. Vitus watched them for a moment then coughed.
"Mary," Pa said. "We were courting then. It was more or less expected. This man's made no commitment to her, and he'll just hurt her."
"Can't you just give him a chance?" she pleaded. "You should've been there when she came in, after she was shot. There were tears in his eyes, Howard."
He kissed back warmly.
Kath smiled at him, resting for a moment on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and sighed.
"I love you." she whispered, almost inaudiable.
Vitus jumped up, his eyes huge.
"I love you too," he whispered back. He felt the same feelings he had for lurura all those years ago.
Kath looked at him, smiling with complete adoration. She sighed and closed her eyes on his shoulder. After awhile, she had fallen asleep, quietly breathing.
Pa came out onto the porch, sighing uncomfortably at the sight of his daughter asleep with a man he hardly knew.
He stroked hair all the while. He turned at the sight of her father.
"Here." the frail old man said, walking towards him. "I'll take her."
"I think she'll be okay, but you're her father.."
Howard gave a half-smile.
"That I am." he said, nodding briefly. "And I only want the best for her."
By now he wasn't referring to his daughter's sleeping habits.
Brighelm sighed. "And I wanna see her happy.."
Howard held up his hand.
"I've given up on that argument." he said. "It's easy to see that you've won that battle."
"Now where are you fighting?"
Howard sighed, climbing up onto another rail. He looked at Patrick with a father's pain in his eyes.
"I want to know where you stand with her." he asked, pausing for emphasis. "Do you have every intention of leaving her when the battle begins again, or having her until her dying day?
"If I live till the end of this war, I'll marry her."7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #18
Pa raised his eyebrows in surprise. He'd fully expected him to run off under that pressure.
Kath snuffled in her sleep, causing Vitus to turn his head. Pa chuckled.
"She's a sweet girl." he said. "The spittin' image of her Ma."
"She really is."
"She's also stubborn, and pretty tough." he added. "Never a dull moment."
"I've handled tougher."
Howard looked up, then finally smiled.
"Take care of her." he said, looking down at Kath and brushing her cheek.
He glanced back up, his expression now serious.
"Hurt her, and I'll bring out the shotgun."
"I wouldn't dream of it."
Howard nodded, looking at his daughter in Patrick's arms.
"What is your name, boy?" he asked. "Your full name. Kath's only ever told us you were Patrick."
"Brighelm." he said to himself, nodding. "I'll remember that."
He looked at his daughter.
"Suppose you bring her inside?" he asked. "Something tells me she'd prefer sleeping in her own room."
He lifted her carefully and walked into the house.
Howard led the way, opening the door to her bedroom.
"Five minutes." he warned, leaving them alone.
On Patrick's shoulder, Katherine stirred from her sleep.
He set her on the bed and removed her shoes and tucked the blanket around her. He learned in and lightly pecked her forehead. "Love you." He turned and closed the door softly.
Kath watched him, closing her eyes in bliss when he kissed her forehead and told her he loved her. She sighed, watching the door close.
"Love you more." she replied in a whisper as it shut behind him.
Howard, pretending to read a book in the kitchen, peered over his glasses as Patrick left her.
Patrick wondered if he had over stayed his welcome..
Ma smiled at him, walking over with a basket full of bread loaves.
"Now you won't be starving." she said with a grin.
"That's really kind of you, I don't know what to say.."
"Aw, you don't need to say anything." she said. "Just make sure those boys at the camp get fed."
"I will." He hugged her.
Ma kissed him on the cheek and laughed.
"You be a good boy and bring my basket back, alright?" she said with a grin.
"And send one of your boys for Granny too!" an old, thin voice came from the back.
"Well do," he said to ma. "And we'll see."
Granny whooped in the back, and Ma laughed.
"Get home safe." she said to him. "Oh, and call Vitus in, will ya?"
He nodded and called him.
Vitus bounded onto the porch, licking Patrick's hand swiftly before running inside.
He smiled. "Thanks again." He said heading off toward camp. Once there, he pushed his men as hard as they would go.
((Patrick goes to town...))7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #19
((While Patrick's in town))
Ma opened Kath's door and Vitus bounded in, snuggling up beside her.
The old clock in the greatroom struck nine, and Ma got up with a sigh. Howard watched her with a smile.
"What?" she asked, sneaking a grin.
Pa chuckled and got up, kissing her.
"Bed." he instructed. "Now."
Lily shoved her pillow over her ears, unable to sleep from the racket her parents caused. Kath, however, slept like a baby. In the morning, she was awakened by feeling something on her neck.
"Patrick," she chuckled, still half-asleep, "Stop that."
Her eyes narrowed for a moment with realization, then turned around. Vitus sat on the bed, his head cocked to one side in confusion. She sighed.
"Morning, boy." she said with a grin. "Sorry."
Kath got up and began to get dressed, glancing out the window from time to time. Vitus began to bark as she slipped her dress over her head, and she was surprised to see Patrick coming this way, with somebody she recognized.
"Uh oh." she chuckled, looking down at her dog. "This should be interesting."
She did up the buttons on her dress and left her room, heading out onto the porch.7/7/2008 #20
He greeated her with a hug and kiss. Then he guested toward Marson, "Thought he could keep Granny company; figured it show my men the preice of bein drunk as well." He just grinned.
Kath almost collapsed with laughter, having to cling to him.
"You didn't!" she scolded, grinning broadly.
She quickly kissed his cheek and went back inside.
"Grandma!" she called. "Patrick's got a visitor here for you!"
Granny hadn't moved so fast in years of arthritis and brittle bones. Still in her nightgown, she'd thrown a shawl around her shoulders. She stared at Marson up and down.
"Hello handsome!" she said, grinning mischeviously.
Patrick winked and whispped in her ear, "He can't tell the difference betewn a tree and a tadpole at the moment." Marson just swayed and looked from person to the other completely out of it.
Kath giggled, leaning against his arm.
"Granny'll love this." she said.
Granny walked up to Marson and grinned.
"Annie Caine." she introduced herself. "And who are you, soldier boy?"
He manged to get out, Robert." Brighelm laughed. "Shall we leave the lovebrids?" "I..love birds," said Marson.
"Oh, I'm sure you do." Granny said with a wink and a nudge.
Kath could barely keep from laughing, and pulled Patrick off the porch and towards the barn in a fit of giggles.
He put his arm around her as they walked. "I'm evil." Marson peered glassy eyed at the woman unaware of anything.
Kath lookd up and nodded.
"Oh yes," she agreed, "And something tells me I'm gonna pay for it."
Finally, Granny had enough and lurched at him.
"I hope not.." Marson was knocked to the ground.
Kath smiled up at him, leaning against the barn door.
"Nah, she'll just get Pa to do it for her." she chuckled.
Granny grinned and gave Marson one hell of a smooch for an old lady.
Marson was able to kissed back, but he had know idea who he was kissing.
Granny got up, pulling Marson to his feet.
"Whiskey boy, eh?" she chuckled, smirking. "A little coffee should do ya in."
She began to drag Marson inside, Lily watching with the slightest hint of amusement.
Marson was puled along without a word. Brighelm just smiled.
Kath smiled back, looking down shyly.
"Were you and Pa talking last night?" she asked, looking up.
Granny sat Marson down at the table like a five-year-old with her favorite doll and searched through the cupboard for coffee beans.
"He seems to be okay with everything," he said. Marson waited.
Granny ground up the beans, looking back at Marson with a grin.
"So, you one of Patrick's friends?" she asked.
Kath tilted her head.
"Did he say anything interesting?" she asked. "I thought I heard some of it, but I'm not sure if it was just in my dream."
Marson heard the name Patrick and nodded. "He threatened me again but after that he seemed alright."
"He told me he'd try to bring one of his friends down." she chuckled. "'Guess you were the best of the bunch."
Now, Granny was smart. She knew it was a prank on Marson, but she was willing to take full advantage of it.
- - -
"I'm glad." she sighed. "It'll probably like this until my dying day; he'll threaten then smile about it."
He laughed and kissed her. Marson just stared trying put the bury images together.
Kath kissed him back, grinning.
"Well, that's Pa for you." she said. "Come on, it's my turn to feed the horses."
"Okay," he followed her toward the barn. Marson smiled for no reason.
Kath pryed open the doors and waved to the horses.
"Morning!" she greeted them, the sunshine attracting their attention.
- - -
Granny brought over the coffee and smiled.
"So, how rough are you?"
Brighelm watched her happily. Marson said, "I...don't.."
"Stutterer eh?" Granny asked, ruffling his head. "Like my late husband."
- - -
Kath glanced over her shoulder and smiled at Patrick.
"Come meet the family." she chuckled, walking over to a brown horse and rubbing it's nose.
Marson blinked. Did a cat just talk to him? Brighelm walked with her and patted each horse slowly.
"Well, drink up, boy." she instructed. "We'll have you sober in no time."
Kath watched him, leaning against the door of Dawson's paddock. The old black-and-grey horse nibbled at her hair, and she laughed.
"Hungry much?" she teased.
Brighelm laughed. He drank. It would take more then coffee to get him sober. But then again, if he knew what was going he would have liked to be drunk.
Kath pushed the horse's nose away and found the burlap sack of corn feed.
"Could you hold him back?" she asked, opening the door to the paddock. "He'll do anything to get outside."
He nodded. Marson waited.
"Alright boy," she said, "What were you doin' last night?"
In the barn, Kath dumped the contents into a through and patted the horse.
"Eat up." she instructed.
Brighelm smiled. "Dru-king.."
"Playin' cards with the boys, eh?" Grandma smiled. "Take a few risks?"
Kath shut the paddock door, resting against it.
"Beautiful horse, but gives me the creeps whenever I get behind him." she chuckled. "I think he has it out for me."
"Mab.." "I'll protect you," he said with a grin.
Granny decided that this would be the most opportune time.
"Well then, why don't you come here." she said, helping him out of his chair. "I like risk-takers"
She began to lead him towards the bedroom...
(I love Granny. And Vitus.)
- - -
"Watch out Dawson, here comes Captain Brighelm to the rescue!" she joked, laughing and hugging him.
He stumbled there. He hugged her back.
Kath looked up with a mischevious grin.
"I don't think you scare him one bit." she chuckled.
- - -
Gran locked the door behind them and crossed her arms.
"Alright then, boy." she decided. "Let's see what's under that shirt."
"No." He stared and fiddled with buttions but he couldn't do it.
"Well then, I suppose I'll have to do that." she said, with a hint of a grin. She reached over, brushing the most wrinkled part of her hand against his skin. She couldn't wait to see his reaction - Granny had been a practical joker as a girl.
- - -
Kath grinned and kissed him.
This girl felt different. Oh well. He smiled and asked, "When the war's done, would you marry me?"
Kath looked up at him with surprise.
"Are you serious?" she asked, convinced that she had completely misheard. This was just too good to be true.
- - -
Granny sighed. She had never met a man this drunk. It was then another evil idea sparked in her mind.
"Good lordy, boy! You're covered in scorpion bites!"
"What?" he gasped. Brighelm nodded.
Kath stared at him open-mouthed for a moment, then smiled and tackled him.
"Yes." she said, holding on to him tight. "Yes!"
- - -
"Quick! Get to the well and wash 'em off you!"
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her as they hit the ground. Marson glanced at his torso. "I don't see any.."
"Don't you argue with me!" Granny ordered. "To the well with you, boy!"
She opened the door and pushed him out.
Kath, lying on the ground with Patrick on top of her, kissed him back and held him close to her. She laughed and smiled, looking up at him.
"You really are serious, aren't you?" she asked, knowing the answer.
He nodded. He stumbled toward the well.
"I can't promise I'll be good." she said. "And I won't always listen to you, I can tell you that. I'm too stubborn for that."
Granny crossed her arms wih a smirk.
"Time for the cold water approach." she mumbled to herself. "Alright boy, under the pump with you."
Marson stared blankly. "All I want is you, whatever mood you're in."
Kath sighed, smiling.
"I love you."
- - -
Granny rolled her eyes and pushed him, immediately soaking him with a blast of freezing cold water. Vitus barked, tail wagging.
He almost froze in the water and his teeth chattered. "I love you," he said kissing down her body, head to toe just about.
Kath melted in his arms, sighing with such pleasure. Thank god Pa was working in the field today.
"About sober yet?" she asked.
"Wha..?" He laughed and kissed her again.
Kath sat up and kissed him back.
"I'm not dreaming, am I?" she asked. "Please don't let this be a dream..."
Granny smirked with satisfaction.
"The name's Annie, boy." she said. "Now what's yours?"
"Its no darlin'," he said. "Rob-ert Marson," he said. "Who? Why? What?"
Granny chuckled, offering her hand to help him up.
"Vitus!" she called back to the dog. "Go get Patrick and Kath. If they're neckin', just come on back. Don't wanna disturb 'em."
The dog ran off barking.
Kath sighed with relief.
"Good." she said, smiling up at Patrick. "'Cause if it was, I don't wanna wake up ever again."
He smiled and then kissed her with all the passion he had. "How-whow'd I get heere?
Kath returned every bit of it, holding onto him and fiddling with his shirt as his lips moved against hers.
Vitus ran in and saw them, his eyes going huge, and ran off unnoticed by Katherine with his tail between his legs.
"Now that's a story to tell." she said. "Let's dry you off and get you inside, shall we?"
She turned and saw Vitus, grinning to herself.
He smiled and held her face in his hands. "Um..." Marson looked at her wide-eyed.
"No worries." she said. "I won't bite, though you may want to bite someone when I tell you what happened."
Kath smiled back, tears in her eyes from happiness. She leaned her head in his palm, smiling.
"What?" Brighelm kissed her again and said, "You are too wonderful."
Granny crossed her arms.
"You still drunk?" she asked. "'Cause there's enough water for a few more pumps..."
Kath smiled, reaching out to touch his face.
"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." she said, cuddling up against his chest.7/7/2008 . Edited 7/7/2008 #21
"I'm sober as I ever am." He smiled. "We should stop or Daddy wil brig his shotgun," he laughed. l
"Alright then." she said. "Come on in, and I'll tell you what happened."
"He can't do anything now, can he?" she grinned.
Marson went into the house. Brighelm laughed. "Maybe.."
"I don't think he will." she said. "Or he'd hear about it from Granny."
She grinned and got up, leaning against the paddock door.
- - -
Granny smiled at him.
"Coffee?" she offered, eyes twinkling.
"Uh..okay.." He laughed. "uh.."
Kath crossed her arms.
"Just get over here and kiss me." she said, grinning mischeviously.
- - -
Granny gave him a cup of coffee and sat down across from him.
"You know Patrick, the boy who's courtin' Katherine?"
He kissed her hard. "uh-huh."
"Good job, Captain." she said with a salute.
- - -
"Well, it seems your drinking mightily angered him, so he brought you over to have some 'fun' with me."
"Oh......?" said Marson. He just laughed. "Alright, now what."
Granny chuckled, deciding to have some fun with him.
"Your girl back home is mighty lucky, I'll tell you that." she teased, taking a sip of her own coffee and winking at him.
"Let's go make sure Vitus isn't scarred for life."
"He be fine," he said. "I like it in here." "um.."
"Well," she sighed. "Hopefully it'll come back to you. 'Cause a night with Granny isn't forgotten with any amount of whiskey."
- - -
"Oh do you?" she teased. "The quiet, empty, musty old barn with big bales of hay and nothing but the horses?"
Granny tilted her head.
"Is that all you ever say, 'um'?"
- - -
"I dont mind it so much either." she said, whispering in his ear as she toyed with the buttons on his shirt.
He smiled. "uh.."
Kath smiled at him, and kissed him slowly as she tried tugging off his shirt.
Granny rolled her eyes, getting up and patting his shoulder.
"You stay here until your senses come back." she said, heading outside. "I'm gonna make sure our couple ain't disturbed by men with shotguns."
He raised his arms. "Okay.."
Kath smiled and tugged it off, kissing him hard and full of passion. Her hands loved the feel of his skin.
Granny saw the door to the barn was already shut, and sat on the porch nonchalantly and watched, making sure that Pa was still hard at work in the fields far off in the distance.
He smiled. "I'm not sure we..should...your pa.."
Kath sighed, shaking her head.
"He's working." she protested. "He won't come."
She kissed him again, massaging his back.
He groaned a little. "You're sure you want this..now?"
Kath sighed, pausing for a moment. She turned away, then looked up at him over her shoulder.
"I... I don't..."
She looked at his torso and sighed, shaking her head and putting her hand to her forehead.
"I don't know..."
Brighelm sighed too and waited.
Kath wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly cold. She looked back at him.
"I..." she said, staring in his eyes. "I can't."
She looked down.
He nodded. "Its alright."
Kath shook her head, looking down.
"I was stupid." she said. "God, I'm awful."
He slipped back on his shirt. "You're just excited.."
Kath couldn't help but smile.
"That's an understatement."
He smiled back.
She walked back to him, putting her arms around him.
"I love you more than anything, you know." she said. "And I'll do anything to keep you here with me."
He smiled. "You know I'd stay, if the war wasn't on.."
Kath nodded, resting her head against his chest.
"I'm just worried that I... I might lose you..."
"So i'm I."
Kath looked up at him, swallowing.
"I don't know what I'd do..."
Vitus began barking outside the barn door, signaling Pa's arrival.
"I'd want you to think of me happily and find someone to look after you..if you moved on, I wouldn't be ashamed."
Kath shook her head.
"I wouldn't find anyone like you." she whispered. "And you're all I'll ever want."
She looked up.
"You think they're coming, don't you?"
He nodded. "I know it," he said. "Just promise you won't become a shutin if I die; I want you to be happy."
Kath chuckled, smiling.
"I'm too much of a farmgirl to be a shutin." she promised. "But I can't promise I'll be happy."
She looked down at her hand.
"I wish I had a ring or something, just a part of you to keep... just in case..."
She couldn't bear to face the possibilty of him leaving her on this world alone.
He reached around his neck and pulled off the spent bullet that hung on a chain. "I was from the first time I got shot, is my good luck charm."
Kath looked at it and chuckled.
"Very romantic." she teased, smiling at him.
She held it for a moment, then gave it back.
"You're gonna need that, darlin'."
"You keep it," he said putting in her hand and closing her fingers around it. "I'll get you a big ring someday soon.."
Kath held it tight, nodding. She smiled.
"I don't need a big one." she said. "As long as you come home, I won't need anything else."
"I'll get you the bigest one there is.."
Kath laughed, cupping his face in her hands.
"Will you ever listen to me?" she asked. "You could get me the Queen of England's ring and I wouldn't care. I just want you... all I want is you."
Kath looked up at him, tears in her eys at the realization that this would be the goodbye she dreaded.
"Show those Rebs what you're made of." she whispered.
He nodded. And he hugged and kissed her. "My love.."
She kissed him again.
"I love you."
"I love you more," he said. He kissed her for as long as he could throwing his arms around her. Then broke away and left.
It took all of her strength not to cry right there. She clung onto him as long as she could, then watched him leave. It wouldn't do any good to follow him; it would only hurt even more. Vitus, seeing Patrick, sensed something and licked his hand. He then went to rejoin Kath in the barn, sitting beside her.
Patrick grabed Marson on his way and then ordered a picket set up again.
((To town...))7/7/2008 . Edited 7/8/2008 #22
((While he's in town...))
Kath wrapped her arms around the dog and proceeded to cry into his soft fur, praying that her love would be saved.
Pa walked in, sensing something was wrong. He knew it wasn't that Patrick had hurt her; he'd learned that by now. He knelt down beside her and hugged her tight.
"He'll make it." he tried, whispering as she wept like a child again. "He'll make it."
After awhile, Kath allowed her father to help her inside. Ma was there, ready with a cup of tea. Even grandma was in a sombre mood, offering a blanket for her granddaughter. Everyone sat in the greatroom, waiting for her to say something. She swallowed.
"He asked me to marry him." she said with the greatest difficulty.
Lily gasped, Vitus perked up his ears and Pa covered his mouth in shock.
Ma sighed, then looked at her daughter.
"And you will." she said, trying to comfort her. "He'll fight for you, Kathie. He couldn't leave you behind."
Kath fiddled with the chain, sniffling and looking down. A knock at the door interrupted them, and Pa went to get it. He took the note from the aide and handed it to Kath, who read it slowly out loud. She nodded to herself.
"He'll return." she whispered.
As night fell, nobody felt safe enough to fall asleep. Instead, everyone was crowded in the greatroom under a mess of blankets. Vitus lay between Lily and Kath, his head on his paws as the girls rubbed his back. Lily was sitting up, her head on Granny's shoulder. Kath lay down, her arm wrapped around her dog. Ma and Pa sat in the middle, sipping tea and reading aloud from a book.
Kath gasped when she heard the shot, and Vitus perked up. Ma and Pa moved closer to hold their children.
"Get the shotgun, Howard." Ma said, looking at him.
"It's probably a false alarm, Mary."
When more shots were fired, Pa knew is wife was right. He kissed her quickly and scampered towards the back of the house.
Pa returned, looking out the window with his gun clenched tightly.
"Let's get to the basement." he whispered. "It'll be safer."
Ma nodded and got up, turning off the kerosene lamps to shroud the house in darkness. The family moved down the hall towards a trap door leading down to the cellar.
In the basement, the shots echoed like they were only feet away from the action. Vitus nuzzled up against Kath, who clung to mother in fear. Lily and Granny moved into a corner with Pa, who watched his oldest daughter with heartwrenching sympathy. Kath had stopped crying what seemed like hours ago, yet her eyes were still puffy and red. She knew this battle wouldn't end well for most of those soldiers, and she just prayed that God would spare the one she'd miss the most.
Katherine looked down at Vitus, who stared back with big brown eyes. She released her mother and hugged her dog. Ma backed off and joined her husband, watching them.7/8/2008 #23
Cross limped his way along the street using his musket as a cane. He made his way toward a farm and colasped hiting his head on the front door with a thump.
Kath reached for the chain around her neck and fiddled with it. Vitus nuzzled her, and bit a blanket in his teeth and showed it to her. She smiled.
"Thanks boy." she said, causing the dog to wag his tail.
The thump got everyone's attention, and Ma looked to her husband. He grabbed the shotgun and went upstairs, looking back once. At the door, he aimed the gun and opened the door.
Cross was backed out.
"Shite." he muttered, unsure what to do. It wasn't one of the soldiers from the camp up the road; the uniform was different. Yet he couldn't just have a man dying on their porch.
Pa grumbled, searching the man for weapons and seizing them. He then dragged the soldier out to the manure pile and went back inside, taking the guns and knives and setting them out of view. He returned to the basement and, although the family seemed to press for an answer, didn't speak.
Cross woke with a start and stared at unconformair scence around him. "Where the hell am I," he asked in a horse whisper.
"Kath," Lily asked in a whisper, garnering the immediate attention of everyone around her. "Tell us something."
Katherine tilted her head, and Ma smiled.
"Tell us something about Patrick." she asked, "Something that made you laugh."
Kath gave a small smile and sighed.
"I remember when I offered to make lunch for him and his men." she said, chuckling. "A hundred of 'em."
Cross figured he would never get answer.
Lily grinned, and Kath continued.
"Went back to get the potatoes..." she sighed, smiling. "Put them in the dog cart. Vitus went on ahead and we just... talked.:
"Fried up the potatoes, and the entire swarm of them came and grabbed some. Wasn't any left for Patrick."
Cross just sighed. Wasn't someone going to take the bullet out of his shoulder.
The family all smiled, and Kath's face was turned up in a grin.
"He'll be okay." she told herself, joining the family in the corner and curling up with Vitus to fall asleep.
Cross grited his teeth and yelled from the pain. It burned.
As the children and Granny fell asleep, Ma looked at her husband.
"What was that?" she asked. "The thump earlier?"
"Confederate soldier. Put him in the manure pile."
Ma's eyes widened.
"You just left him there?" she asked. "Howard!"
"What? He wasn't one of Kath's soldiers."
"Still, you don't leave a man in the manure pile!"
Mary sighed and went upstairs against her husband's wishes. Still fearful, she took a pistol from the pile and went outside, looking around carefully. She saw Cross in the dirt and ran over.
Cross cried out but his eyes grew fearful when he saw a gun in her hand. "No.." he said horsely.
"Shhh." Mary said, reaching out to him. "It's alright. I'm a nurse."
"Can you stand up?"
he nodded. Then forced himself to stand up.
Ma nodded, ready to help him if he needed it.
"What's your name?" she asked, leading him towards the steps. She was cautious about allowing him inside.
"Jack Cross, ma'm."
"Mary." she said, setting him down on the steps. "Now, just stay here and I'll be right back."
Ma went back inside, still carrying the gun for her own protection, and grabbed the rubbing alcohol and bandages.
Ma came out and sat beside him, smiling.
"Is it just your shoulder?" she asked, looking at it and debating wether or not to pull back the fabic.
"I'm pretty sure. Sorry to trouble you and your family."
"It's no trouble." she said. "Now this might sting a bit..."
She pulled back the fabric near the wound and quickly applied the alcohol, observing how deep in the bullet was.
He hissed and watched.
"It's in pretty deep." she observed out loud. "Might've got a bone."
She pulled her hands away.
"I don't know if I'll be able to pull it out; you'll have to see a doctor."
Mary pulled on the bandages and sighed.
"I'm sorry I couldn't do more." she said.
"Thank you for what you could do."
"Unfortunately, I can't keep you here." she said as if she were talking to a stray dog. "God keep you."
He looked at her pleadingly. "I haven't come to harm anyone and I need to rest."
Mary sighed, looking around.
She saw the chicken shed and remembered the stack of feed.
"In the shed." she said. "It's no hospital, but it's the best I can offer without my husband knowing."
"I'm guessin' he'd have me dead?" Then he made his way to the shed.
Mary nodded, smiling.
"He almost left ya for dead."
Cross proped himself agast the shed and tried to sleep.
Mary went back inside, locking the door and returning to the basement. Pa looked at her, and she curled up beside him.
"I had to." she said simply.
Pa kissed her head.
"You've got a bigger heart than any woman I know." he told her.
Mary smiled and looked up at him.
"Are they still fighting?"
More volleys answered ihe night, but as day broke things were quit . In the town, Brighelm ordered his men to camp.
In the morning, Kath woke up first and listened. There were no more gunshots, and she sighed with relief. She fiddled with the chain again, gripping it's pendant tightly. Vitus whined as he woke up, rolling over and looking up at his mistress.
Cross woke and sat his nose getting used the smell of chicken poo.
Kath's back ached from being hunched over in the cellar. She grumbled and went up the stairs, going to the kitchen to find something for the family to eat.
Cross wondered if they had forgotten about him.
Kath searched the cupboards and found nothing. She sighed, really not wanting to make breakfast for her picky family. She returned to the basement just as her mother flew past and smiled at her.
"Potatoes?" she asked.
Kath smiled back and shrugged.
Cross sighed, he was loosening blood.
As Kath disappeared, Ma pretended to outside to find the potatoes and instead veered towards the shed with fresh bandages.
Ma knocked on the door, expecting him to be inside.
"It's Mary." she said, "Come on out."
Cross walked out and peered around.
"It's only me; the others are sleeping." she assured. "Now lets look at that arm."
She noticed how badly he was bleeding and drew her lips in a line, concerned.
"You'll really need to see a doctor." she said. "I can only do so much."
Mary skillfully changed the bandaged and cleaned the wound. She looked up at him.
"If you stay here much longer, you're bound to be discovered." she warned.
"I'll take my chances, I can't move very far."
"Are you sure?" she asked. "My husband will be out to get the eggs soon, and..."
Mary sighed, too kind to force him out.
"Thank you for your kindness."
Mary gave a half smile, nodded, then left the shed and hurried back with some potatoes for breakfast.
Cross rested a little easer.
Kath came back upstairs, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders and Vitus at her side. Ma was already frying the potatoes when she passed by.
"Kath?" she asked. "Everything alright?"
Katherine nodded, looking towards the window.
"I just miss him." she replied.
Ma smiled and hugged her.
"It'll all be over soon." she promised. "In the meantime we can plan out your dress."
"I'm not good at that."
Cross was begin to wonder...
Mary nodded and resumed cooking, while Kath patted her dog.
Out of boredom Cross steeped out of the hut and looked at the yard.
Lily came up the stairs, yawning and clutching her doll.
"Ma?" she asked, looking around, "Is it safe to come up?"
Inside the farmhouse, the family had sat down to breakfast. Now that the storm had passed, there were more smiles at the table. Even Kath was laughing along to Grandma's retelling of her afternoon with Marson.
Ma looked over at Lily, her eyes bright and merry with her Grandmother's tale. And Kath was glowing as well, scratching her beloved dog's head and chuckling.
"And what were you doing in the barn?" Granny asked with a smile, resulting in a flush of bright red across her granddaughter's cheeks.
Even Pa couldn't keep a straight face with that one. Kath got up and laughed.
"Alright, while you all have fun, I'm going to the barn."
Ma didn't hear a word she was laughing so hard, and didn't even notice when Kath slipped outside.
Cross laid back down after a few minutes.
Kath went into the barn and smiled at Dawson, giving him a pat.
"Morning boy." she greeted, kissing his velvet muzzle. "Miss me?"
Cross drifted off to sleep.
Kath sat down on a stack of feed, holding the chain again. It was nothing like having him here, but it was just a piece that let her know he did exist... he had existed. That none of this had been the dream she was afraid of waking up from. This was real.
"He'll come home." she said, looking at Dawson as if he understood. "I know it."
The horse whinnied and nibbled at her hair.
Cross shouted as the pain renewed.
Kath gasped, running out of the barn. She saw the man in the grass and screamed, attracting Ma's attention.7/8/2008 . Edited 7/8/2008 #24
Cross had a look of shock in his eyes and shock his head, meaning he wasn't going to hurt her.
Kath plastered herself against the wall, still screaming from fear. Ma ran outside and went over to her daughter.
"Kathie, it's alright." she said, patting her shoulder. "Kath, calm down!"
Cross took a step back.
Kath looked up at her mother, her eyes wide with fear.
"Ma, what?" she asked. "Who..."
"Kathie, listen. He's just a soldier. He got injured in the battle last night."
Kath stared at him, then ran inside. Ma sighed and turned to Cross.
Ma smiled at Cross and sighed.
"See why I was reluctant for you stay?" she said.
"Please till her I didn't mean to frighten her."
"I will." she said, sighing. "Poor girl. Here, come on the stairs. Hard to look at that wound in this light."
"What's her name?" he asked trying to make conversation. He walked toward the steps.
"Katherine." Mary said with a smile. "My eldest. I also have a younger daughter, Lily."
She sighed and sat him down, looking at the wound.
"It's healing rather well." she noticed, nodding. "Very good."
"That's wonderful, the sooner I stop taking up your time the better."
"Well, it just really needs a fresh bandage every now and then." she said. "And mind what I've said about the doctors."
"And Katherine's a very good secret-keeper; so if you must stay longer you can trust her."
Kath, still shivering from terror, sat at the breakfast table and and ate her Ma's potatoes. The rest of the family stared, not convinced at Kath's tale of finding a fox in the horse barn.
"I'll trust her, but I don't think she'll talk to me after that."
"We'll see." she said, getting up. "How much longer do you think you'll need to stay?"
Kath, finishing her breakfast, retreated to her room with Vitus at her heels.
He shrugged. "I wish I knew ma'm," he said. "I guess till I find a doctor, a real doctor."
"Well, you won't find one around the farm." she said. "There's a good Doc down the road."
"Okay, when I can stomach a long walk, I'll go. Thank you so much for everything."
"You hungry?" she asked. "I've got breakfast in the house."
"I am..but I don't want impose.."
Mary raised an eyebrow.
"It's no trouble." she said. "I make too much anyways. A force of habit, I suppose..."
"Do you me to eat out here..or.."
"It'd be better if you stayed in here." she said. "My husband can get very violent."
She got up and smiled.
"I'll have Kath come out and bring out the food. Hope you don't mind potatoes."
Ma went onto the porch and saw Granny, sleeping in her chair. Lily was in the house, washing he dishes, and Pa was reading.
"Has anyone seen Kath?" Ma asked, looking around as she took the pan of fried potatoes.
Lily pointed down the hall.
Cross picked at the drit in his fingernails.
Ma knocked on Kath's door.
"Come help me." Ma said, opening the door. "Kathie?"
Katherine got up and opened the door, her eyes puffy again. She sniffed, not looking at her mother in the eye.
"Yes?" she asked, Vitus coming to her side.
Ma sighed, unsure what to do.
"Could you bring our visitor something to eat?"
Kath looked up, her eyes blazing.
"Sure. So he can get his strength back and kill more of our soldiers?"
"Kath, honey, it's a war. When I was a nurse, it was to help whoever we can, be they Reb or Yankee."
Cross waited his hand on his chin.
Kath looked at her mother, and noticed the stony gaze Ma had whenever she wanted her daughters to see something her way. Kath sighed, rubbing at her eyes and going towards the kitchen. She scraped the remaining potatoes inro a plate and went outside.
Cross turned to see her come and he gave her a friendly smile. "I want to apologize for frighting you, Kath. is it?"
"Katherine." she corrected, without a smile. "Only my family calls me Kath."
She looked up at him, eyes still red as she passed him the potatoes.
"Ma makes the best in the town." she said. "You'll like them."
"No doubt I will. Would you sit with me?"
Kath raised an eyebrow, reluctant. She glanced at the spot beside him and shrugged.
"Sure." she said, taking the spot and looking to the opposite direction to distract her.
He noticed the bullet on her neck right away. "Do you have a man in the army?"
Kath looked back and nodded.
"Yes." she answered, fiddling with it. "He just left yesterday."
"Does it matter to you?" Kath asked sharply.
"Well no, but I haven't had a civil conversation in a long time.."
Kath tilted her head.
"Neither have I, so I guess we're even." she said, looking at his plate. "Are you going to eat that?"
He garbed the plate and tried to use good table manners but in the end his hunger won over and he cleared it quickly.
Kath smirked. "They don't feed you too well either, do they?"
"No its God awful."
"Hardtack every day?" she asked.
Kath couldn't help but laugh.
"He used to complain about that." she said, referring to Patrick. "Ma used to send him food so he wouldn't starve to death."
"That's nice, your ma seems like a sweetheart."
"She tries to be." Kath said with a smile. "She's got a bigger heart than most, I have to say."
"Have any other family?"
"My parents, of course, and my sister. And my Grandmother."
"What about you?"
"My mother and father, and my younger brother. My grandfather is still hangin on for some reason."
"They have a tendency to do that, don't they?"
As she said that, Ma called her in and she left, quicker than a rabbit fleeing the hunt.7/8/2008 #25
((Open for postage now!!!))7/8/2008 #26
Kath sat on the deck with Vitus, who rolled on his side and panted in the heat. She sat and rubbed his belly while watching the horizon, her eyes sparkling with hope. Richard Pearks, the courier who brought the mail to the town every Saturday was due to arrive. He probably had a letter from Uncle Davis, who filled his letters with humor and brought laughter into their home. She loved fetching the mail.7/8/2008 . Edited 7/8/2008 #27
Cross walked back to the farm and stared at it.7/8/2008 #28
Kath turned her head and sighed, noticing Cross.
"Thought you left." she said, causing Vitus to look up lazily.7/8/2008 #29
"Figured I'd at least say goodbye."7/8/2008 #30
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