On one such occasion he told of two young men who were separated during the Civil War. One was raised by a family in the North and the other was raised by a family in the South. Years later when both boys were grown and had families of their own they were reunited.
I have taken this event to construct the story of Josh and Jim, two young boys who were separated by the Civil War. The names, characters, locations and events are entirely fictitious and are presented for the readers' enjoyment. I hope that you enjoy this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.53(d)|
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Separated By The War
By Richard D. Arnold
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Richard D. Arnold
All rights reserved.
A new day was getting started when two sandy headed, ten year old boys rolled out of their feather filled mattress bed. Each boy flipped his side of the quilt back into place. They put on their home spun shirts, jumped into their overalls and darted across the floor toward the stairway attached to the wall of the cabin. They slipped down the stairs to the floor below, raced to the side door and out into the side yard. Their chores included feeding and watering the hogs, mules, and horses. The twin boys also fed the guineas, geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens. These critters shared common roosts and nesting boxes at night inside the roosting house. They were allowed to run loose during the daytime but were locked inside the roosting house at night to avoid varmints. Few varmints wanted to tangle with geese, let alone four of them during daylight hours but the others were prime targets. One last trip through the nesting boxes to gather the eggs and the boys were ready to wash up for breakfast.
Pa and their older brother, Jack met them at the back door, each carrying a bucket full of milk. They handed the milk and eggs to their two sisters and turned to the wash basins to wash up for breakfast.
"You boys build a fire under the black pot and fill it with water. Set up the tubs so your ma and sisters can wash clothes today. Help them get started before you take off. After dinner I want you to clean out the chicken house and put the scrapings on the garden." Pa told Josh and Jim.
"Yes, Pa," the boys answered together.
"Ma said that she would make a blackberry cobbler for supper if we would gather a couple baskets full," Jim replied. "We'll go down by the honey tree and see what we can find."
"That will be a good place to start. If you don't find enough there go on around the bend and try the thicket below the trail to the cave. The whole bank along there was covered in blackberry vines all in blooms the last time I was down that way," Jack said.
The four men of the family trooped into the house to meet the three women of the family as they all sat down at the table for breakfast.
Holding hands they all bowed their heads and Pa said a prayer. Pa was tall and slender with a shock of sandy, brown hair and blue eyes, shared by each of the boys. Slightly over 6 feet 4 inches tall, he weighed about 200 pounds. Jack was 16 years old and was slightly over 6 feet tall already, slightly thinner than Pa but he would soon catch up and pass Pa in height and weight. The twins were 10 years old and growing fast.
Ma was also slender, just less than 6 feet tall with dark hair and blue eyes. Each of the girls favored Ma with darker hair and slender build. When excited or angry Ma would sometimes develop a pronounced Spanish accent or break into rapid Spanish. Pa loved to tease her and called her, "Countessa."
After breakfast the milk had been strained and the eggs washed and ready to be placed in the spring house on the other side of the house. A small building was built around a cool spring that bubbled up though a formation of rocks. The water circled the room inside the small house and then exited at the back and made its way through the woods down to the creek. Shelves were located along the stream for placing containers of milk, cream, butter, eggs and other items that were kept cool until need for a meal.
"Did you boys make your bed?" Ma asked the twins.
"Yes, Ma," They answered together.
"After you get the laundry pot and tubs set up you can go pick those blackberries. I want to make a cobbler for supper tonight," she reminded them.
"Yes, Ma, we remember," the twins answered.
When breakfast was over the boys took the milk and eggs to the spring house. Then they turned to carrying water from the spring to the big black pot that was sitting on three tall stones under the big oak tree in the front yard. Fire wood under the pot was soon crackling, heating the water. Wooden tubs and scrub boards were set up on the work table next to the big pot. The boys strung stout, thin ropes from hooks attached to the cabin and tied to strong limbs of the great oak. Several tall poles with a forked end were placed under the rope to keep the clothes from swaying too close to the ground. Pa and Jack hitched two of the horses to harnesses for pulling stumps. They were clearing some land on the far side of the field for planting more corn. A few more days of pulling stumps and they could plant some late corn on the new land.
Their chores done Josh and Jim left the cabin as the dew burned off. Babe and her three pups tagged along, yelping at the birds in the trees and chasing rabbits that jumped up and took off through the brush that grew thick along the trail. It had warmed up by the time they got to the blackberry thicket. The blackberry thicket was about a quarter mile from the cabin and a couple hundred yards from where the creek turned east. The creek flowed between rock cliffs that towered thirty to forty feet on both sides of the creek about a half mile farther on around the bend. It turned back south about two miles past the rocky cliffs.
As the boys skipped along the sandy trail by the creek the birds were holding church in the tops of the trees. They kept up their constant singing, until Babe started her baying chorus. She ran off down the trail with the pups in close pursuit. The birds started up their singing again as soon as the dogs were around the bend in the trail, their yelping fading into the brush.
The blackberry bushes near the honey tree were loaded with plump, juicy blackberries. They had finished filling Josh's basket and Jim's was half full when they first heard thunder. There was a hush from the treetops as the thunder faded in the distance. They both looked at the clear sky.
Josh said, "If it rains we can stay in the cabin while Ma cooks the cobbler. Maybe we can get Pa to tell us a story about pirates. We won't have to clean out the chicken coop until after the rain stops." That was one chore they both hated and would put off as long as they could.
Not far from the blackberry thicket was a stand bushes loaded with large, red plums. The deep red ones were sweet and juicy. When their baskets were full, they sampled the plums. The boys had eaten their fill of plums and blackberries. There was plenty for Ma's cobblers. They could come again for more. They were both hot and sticky from the thick, sweet juice of the plums and berries. There was plenty of time to take a swim and wash off the sticky juice from the plums and berries that streaked their hands and faces.
Bees were everywhere and the twins moved cautiously in order to keep from stirring them up. They were honey bees from the old honey tree that Pa had discovered several years ago. They had robbed that honey tree regularly every year since.
They left their baskets on a grassy spot on the bank and striped off their pants, shorts and shirts and throwing them over the baskets of berries they ran to the water's edge.
"Let's go check out the honey tree." Jim yelled as Josh jumped into the water with a giant cannon ball splash. Jim dived into the deep channel in the middle of the creek. They turned downstream toward the bend in the creek, dived deep and swam underwater as far as they could. They came to the surface and dived deep again until they reached the swirling water where the creek turned east. The honey tree was a huge old pecan tree that grew in the bend of the creek. Its thick branches stretched out over the water. The bees had survived the winter and were busy preparing for the spring gathering of pollen and making of more honey. It looked as if there would be plenty of honey for them and the bees this year.
Last year Josh and Jim helped Pa and Jack rob that honey tree. The twins stayed back as Pa and Jack lit smoky torches and circled the tree. The smoke was supposed to drive the bees off and it was working for awhile. Then three of them flew under the smoke and up Jack's pants leg.
"Whoaiiieeee!" His voice went from a fog horn bellow to a squeaky squeal as he jumped around and took off for the creek. He jumped in, clothes and all.
The twins had laughed so hard that they forgot the bees, until the bees discovered them. They took off running and jumped into the creek not far from Jack. Pa never looked back but kept on going around the honey tree until he had run all the bees off and calmly collected the buckets full of honey and comb. Pa did not get stung once. He was so calm that the bees seemed to be willing to share their honey with him.
Pa was like that, calm. He never seemed to be in a hurry but he always got everything done he set out to do and made it seem easy.
Every year when they robbed that honey tree Pa always told them, "We only take what we need and leave enough for the bees. We will be able to get some more next year if we don't take it all and force the bees to go hungry. They might even move and we would get none next year." That made good sense to the boys. But everything Pa said made sense to them.
As the sandy heads bobbed around under the shade of that old pecan honey tree, they dodged the honey bees and sunk out of sight when the bees flew close. Babe and her pups found them. She ran back and forth on the bank but wouldn't jump in and swim out to the boys as she usually did. She was whining and yelping like something was bothering her. They heard the thunder several times again far off in the distance. Each time the thunder boomed, the birds quit their singing and Babe yelped and bayed.
Josh said, "The last one to the baskets is a stinkbug." as he started upstream. It was time to get out of the creek and get home before the storm got too close. There were still no clouds in the sky as the twins swam to their baskets and put their clothes back on.
Both baskets were full and stacked to overflowing when they started back to the cabin. The sky was still clear but they could hear the thunder getting closer as they ran along the trail toward the cabin. Babe ran on ahead up the trail whining and yelping. The pups were quiet and raced along close to Babe. The birds had quit their singing.
As they raced along the trail, careful not to spill the berries, they heard the thunder again, this time off to the right of the trail, then again ahead. It sounded closer than it did before. Josh looked up at the sky through the trees.
He said, "That's the strangest thunder I've ever heard. I don't see any clouds. Could it be one of those freak storms like Pa told us about?"
Pa had been a seaman before he met Ma and he liked to tell about his adventures on the sea, including sudden freak storms. They had never seen such storms but they could imagine that they were frightful things.
The path turned sharply to the right and ran steeply through the trees to the garden patch just west of the cabin. As they reached the edge of the trees they heard the crash of thunder ahead of them. It was louder and closer and seemed to be coming from the other side of the barn. Great billows of smoke were rising from the same direction. They ran along the path between the garden and the corn field. The corn was chest high and the garden was a little taller. As they ran from the river path to the flat-land of the garden and field, the twins could see everything that was happening. They stopped in their tracks as they witnessed the scene of destruction that was unfolding before them.
Ma and the girls had been in the yard under the great oak tree doing the laundry. Pa and Jack were on the other side of the field. They were running toward the cabin. Men wearing grey uniforms were coming out of the woods behind them and from the road that ran behind the barn. All were going toward the cabin. The grey soldiers were shooting toward the woods behind the barn and woods on the other side of the new ground.
Pa and Jack reached the middle of the corn field when soldiers in blue uniforms opened fire from the barn and pens. They were running toward the cabin firing their rifles and pistols as they came. Thunder roared again from the cannon on the other side of the barn. Ma and the girls were going into the cabin when the cannon roared again behind the barn. A cannon ball turned the chimney and cabin wall into a cloud of smoke, rock, mortar, and fragments of logs. Ma and the girls couldn't be seen any more. Babe and the pups had reached the cabin and were behind the girls when they all disappeared in the dust and smoke.
Pa and Jack could see what happened to Ma and the girls. They were surrounded by grey soldiers. The blue army was firing at them as they ran toward the cabin.
More cannon fire from behind the barn hurled cluster shot into the running men, scattering them like rag dolls. Another volley hit the far side of the cabin, the roof fell in and the wooden logs began to burn. Pa and Jack joined the running men as they turned and ran across the corn field toward the hills on the far side. Through the billows of smoke drifting across the field the twins couldn't see them anymore. They had disappeared in the corn with the soldiers.
As the blue clad soldiers entered the cabin yard blood curdling yells arose along with the sounds of the cannon and rifles. A wave of mounted grey soldiers broke from the woods to their right and started across the corn field at full speed. They were followed by more running soldiers with bayonets held high. Their rebel yells pierced the air. The grey soldiers ran for a few yards dropped to one knee in the corn and fired at the blue army coming across the cabin yard. Soldiers in blue around the cabin and barn fell under the barrage of rifle fire from the corn field. Mounted soldiers in both blue and grey met in the middle of the field in hand to hand, sword to sword and close range pistol fighting. Pa, Ma, Jack and the girls were nowhere to be seen.
Jim grabbed by Josh's arm and pulled him down. What were they going to do? Then Jim yelled, "The Cave!"
Pa had always said, "Anytime there is trouble, go to the cave! Don't wait for anyone or anything, go to the cave! I will meet you there and we will all be together. Go to the Cave!"
They dropped their baskets and ran back down the trail along the creek. They passed the blackberry thicket, on under the bee tree ignoring the bees and on down the path to the cave. The cave was in the rock cliff around the bend in the creek. It could be reached by trail from the corn field or from a steep, rocky path from the creek.
The noise of battle was muffled by the trees as they ran along the creek trail. A few hundred yards past the bee tree the creek bank became rocky as the creek cut through the rock cliff. The bank narrowed until it was a sheer drop from the top of the rock cliff to the water below. The boys found the steep, rocky path and used the familiar handholds and footholds to climb up the face of the cliff to the path near the top. When they reached the top of the climb, they stopped to catch their breaths. The noise of battle had dropped behind them as they raced along the creek trail.
The creek trail circled around the field until the corn field was off to their left and the cabin was on the far side of the corn field. The sound of battle was getting nearer. The fighting was close enough that they could hear the bullets whip through the brush around them.
The mouth of the cave was at the end of a narrow, rocky ledge. A small mountain of limestone rose higher than the woods and ran along the creek for more than two miles, forcing the creek to return to its southerly course. The path the boys were on opened onto a wide clearing that ended with the rocky face of the mountain. They had to cross that clearing and through a thicket of brush to get to the ledge that went to the cave entrance.
Josh said between gasps, "Come on, Jim. We're almost there."
Josh took off across the clearing. Jim scrambled for footing, slipped and fell. Regaining his feet he followed as fast as he could. Josh was twenty yards in front of Jim as they ran along the brush covered path. The battle raged just behind them. There was no time to stop. They had to make it. The narrow ledge leading to the cave was on the sheer limestone wall behind the thicket of brush in front of them. That ledge would take them around the face of the cliff away from the battle and to the cave where they would be safe.
Excerpted from Separated By The War by Richard D. Arnold. Copyright © 2014 Richard D. Arnold. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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