Ezekiel tuned toward Cicero, his 50 year old boy. "Is that the last of the bolts of cloth?"
His slave nodded. "As always, darkest blue on top, lighter all the way down. Cottons on the left, wool on the right, linen and lindsey-woolsey in the middle. There are 75 cotton, 30 linen, 15 lindsey-woolsey, 45 wool. I counted twice. Plus the 100 dye blocks in back."
"Speak black in public. I don't want people knowing you can read and figure. You don't want people to know that too. Could be fatal. " He turned to Dan and Howard. "Meet us at Bacon and Frys. Look over the merchandise, tell them I need a bunch for work with indigo. Let them know I am not fussy" He turned to Cicero. "In the back."
Cicero said "Yeh sahr" and knuckled his forhead.
Ezekiel limbed up in front with the teamster and they trotted briskly up from St. Louis' waterfront.
They drew up at a business that had placards for Lincoln in the window. Ezekiel made a face. Cicero said "He just does that because he is a contrary cuss. He wouldn't have so many black hands if he really believed it."
"He hires them, not purchases them. Let's get rid of this consignment. I don't like dealing with him, but he gives the best prices for my dye and my cloth."
They went in. They went up to merchant at his desk. "Morning Cicero, morning Ezekiel."
Ezekiel gritted his teeth. Cicero, standing behind him, smiled and winked. "I have the consignment you ordered. I have the fancy weaves done as well. "
"Well then, lets go take a look. Bill, Hank, George come out and help take down the bolts will you. Frank, get the invoice."
Ezekiel paled. "The invoice... oh my God!"
Cicero said "Right here, boss. "
The merchant said "The fancy weaves first, I think..."
Cicero said "There at the bottom. You specified you wanted them lightly dyed."
"Cicero, I do the talking. But as the boy said, you did specify the fancy weaves with very light dyes. Lets get the more intense dyes first."
"You used the mordants I specified to make the dyes colorfast?"
"You can check them for colorfastness as we unload. The bolts are 38" as you specified. You realize I charge extra for that. Your specified mordants are not as colorfast as the ones we usually use."
"Those mordants are just too deadly for your slaves. I can't in good conscience use them"
"You don't have to smell em."
They checked the bolts of cloth in against the invoices. Ezekiel handed his invoice back to Cicero to make sure everything was in order.
"They are down to the fancy weaves now. See the pattern? That is 57. The next pattern is 48."
"They will do nicely. "
"Pattern 34 is more expensive, but it is so much more popular. You would make so much more with it."
"Pattern 48 is as expensive as my customer will go for. 34 would just sit on my shelves looking pretty but I would have the same collection when you showed up in '62. That's everything. I will write you in April for my next orders. I have your drafts. These acceptable?"
"They will do nicely, plus the remainder in silver."
They shook hands. Ezekiel turned to Cicero. "Take the buckboard back to the horse dealer. I will meet you at the courthouse to get the bills of sale regularized. You will get my purchases settled down for the night. I want to get an early start tomorrow, so make sure they are awake and fed by 7:30."
"This one is a poisoner" Bacon said. "She served up a salad with nightshade." They
"She is pregnant now?"
"About three months. Didn't know it when she poisoned him. Must have been three weeks at the time."
"I didn't poison him!" shouted Cassandra. She stood there with her hands clenched.
"She insisted the wife made up the salad. As if she would be in the kitchen. The wife said she chose Cassandra here for her husband to play with. She claims the husband had bizarre sexual taste Cassandra was supposed to gratify, rather than her." He paused for a bit. "The jury got hung, so she didn't. But the wife sold her off anyway."
"He was disgusting" Cassandra hissed through clenched teeth.
"It is always the slaves who get above themselves like this one who cause problems. Like Nat Turner. This one is going to require a great deal of chastisement. She has gotten a lot since the trial, but she still burns."
Ezekiel shook his head in agreement. "She is going to be walking to our Indigo vats outside of New Orleans. By the time she reaches the vats, she will be as quiet as a mouse. I will pay $275 for her."
"$275! She worth $700! Look at her. And she is still fresh!"
"She is a poisoner, she is pregnant, I wouldn't doubt that the banker gave her some strange disease. But, since we have been business partners for a long time I am willing to give $50 for old times sake."
"I am worth a great deal more than $325" Cassandra said with disgust. "I can do algebra and geometry. I can read."
"She will be more trouble than she is worth. Look at those arms. She hasn't done a lick of work."
"$395. I had to feed her for three months, and this cell didn't come cheap."
Cassandra sat down and began crying loudly. Ezekiel speaking loudly over her crying said "$340."
Bacon, looking disgusted said "$350" Cassandra heard them, dried her tears, and stood up and went to the far corner of the cell.
"$345, sold. I am going to be glad to get rid if her."
"Dan, Howard, add her to our string." Dan got out the manicles, while Howard showed her his whip. Dan put the chains on her wrists tied her by the neck to the other four they had purchased that day. She sniffed and whipped away her tears.
"This one, Bacon said, is a troublemaker to the other slaves. He would tell slave A that slave B had said this about him, and would tell slave B that slave A had said that, and then he would go off and admire the fireworks. "
"I will put in the sugar cane with some french speaking slaves. He wont be able to play his tricks in my fields."
"Ok, lets total up your purchases... Aggrapina..$275,...Cato $475 ...Nestor ...$660, ...Cassandra $345, ... Vittelius $225, Ben $935, .... Saul $150 and his mama Abby $650... That will be.."
Casandra said "$3,715"
Fry said "Five and five and five and five will be twenty, carry the two, then two and seven and seven and six and four and two and three and five and five will be forty one,carry the four then we have four and two and four and six and three and two and nine, and one and six and that comes to thirty five. So, $3,515." He glared at Cassandra who was going to say something, but Ezekiel shaking his fist at her she quieted down. "Next we have the transfer tax of 6.25% will be ..."
Cassandra said "$219.69"
Fry said "Shut her up will you! She is ruining my concentration! five times five is" ... He sat and figured for a bit and finally said " Call it $ 200 and I will eat the difference. " He turned to Cassandra "You are going to regret talking out of turn." He turned to Ezekiel "Make sure she walks to New Orleans barefoot. She has a mouth that wont quit"
"Ok, I need to make up titles for them. Then we will need to go to the courthouse to register the transfers. Before that, you need to go to your bankers and get me drafts for $3,700 and the balance to can pay in silver."
Ezekiel said "I have drafts on Lucas and Tanner for $2,000, $1,000, and 500. Will you take $215 in gold right now and the drafts? "
"I would be delighted. We can go to the courthouse and transfer title this afternoon."
Sitting at the table with a couple other dealers, he was feeling pleased with his purchases so far. They were discussing the election coming due in two months. Falconer was good name for the one on his right. He was insisting that Lincoln would be trouble. "He made a speech yesterday saying the republic can't survive have slave and half free. But he didn't say if that is the case the free states would permit slavery to continue there."
"There was a case that made it up tp the supreme court that said a slave is just as much a slave in Michigan as it is in Louisiana" Petty said.
Ezekiel said "Why are you worried about him? He is an old Whig with high tax proposals. People aren't going to vote for that. He would be lucky to get 40% of the vote."
Petty said "the Democrats went for stupid this year. There are four Democrats running for President. I am afraid they are going to split the vote all over. Lincoln can win with 40%, if four Democrats get 15% each."
Overton said "It won't be that bad. Douglas will win in Illinois and New York. Probably Indiana as well. He has to win in a state, and I don't see him winning in any. It will be four Democrats jockeying for position in the House, with Lincoln getting nothing."
Falconer said "I don't like it. He has caught fire in the north He seems popular up there."
"Not as popular as Steven Douglas. Not by a long shot" said Petty. "He seems to be advocating dividing the country. That won't fly with voters."
"Maybe four years ago, but that Supreme Court case declaring that Negros can't be citizens really made lots of folks up there angry" said Heider, a horse dealer, rather than a slave dealer like the rest. "I have been up in Ohio, Illinois, even in Pennsylvania. That really got their attention and it made them angry like hornets."
"They will calm down when professional rabble rousers like Lincoln loose badly. I for the life of me don't see what they see in that beanpole" said Overton.
"I can't figure what got into the fire eaters. " Falconer said." They wanted to force the territories to accept slavery even if they didn't want it. That is electoral suicide. That would get them Lincoln with a majority, rather than having Lincoln barely able to get 35% of the vote"
"You almost would think they want to loose. They would have to struggle with Lincoln to see who can rile people on the other side the most. Lincoln is insisting that the territories be free."
"You have firebrands like Atcheson insisting they permit slavery no matter what the people want. His constitution for Kansas got only 10% of the vote. That got the folks up north mad too" Petty said.
Falconer nodded in agreement. "It makes Lincoln seem reasonable where he is saying that if people don't want it, they shouldn't be obliged to take it. Makes the institution seem like a huge dose of castor oil rather than the beneficent thing that it is
"I am sure that folks would see that the best, safest candidate is Douglas. " All around everyone nodded on agreement with Overton " He will see that the propertied folks will be protected. And he will prevent those crazy Republicans with their high tariffs from controling congress."
Cassandra stopped in her tracks for a moment. Dan had to shover her to get her to move quickly. She kept her head down and moved quickly until they were in a stable for slaves passing through town. She sat down in a corner and began crying softly again.
Cicero sat down next to her. "Whats the matter girl? You haven't been one for crying"
"This is the town my father had his plantation in. We will see it early tomorrow morning. I saw one of the old ladies friends. She looked like she won a prize. "
"She happy to see you in a group of slaves heading downriver?"
Cassandra nodded "She has some really delicious gossip. She will dine out on this for a month."
"It is kind of unusual to see a slave ⅞ white."
"15 ⁄ 16 white. My grandma was ¾ white."
Cicero looked at her. "Why did you get sold off?"
"It is a long story. He hated the woman he was married to, so he bought my mom to have some fun. Sometime along there he decided he liked her. He built her a nice cabin and he slept most nights there"
"So he wasn't a horrible owner?
He was always full of promises that he never got around to following up on. Plus he was scared of his wife
He making promises all the time he never was going to fulfill?
"My father always said he intended to free us both, but to do that would require $270 for each of us. And while he was considered rich, it was in land and slaves. He never had that much ready money. And he wasn't a good planter. He had less cash every year, and he had to sell a bit of land every year to keep above water."
"$270 for each of you?"
"In order to manumit a slave in Missouri you have to pay a bond that the slave wouldn't be a criminal or a charge on the community. He just never had that much money in cash. He would get money in autumn, pay the taxes, pay the loans, pay and pay and pay, and at the end he had to get new loans to keep the estate going. Last year he went bankrupt and we all got sold off. Mother got sold to a planter in Tennessee for $243. I got sold to the disgusting banker for $960."
"He enjoyed rape. I was prepared to do whatever he wanted, but what he wanted was someone he could humiliate and hurt and demean. Whenever a business deal went badly, which was often, he would come home angry and would take it out on me. When things went well, he would celebrate with his wife. I was grabbed by the hair, beaten and had my dress ripped off, and then he would insert himself in me and finish as quickly as possible. I was to get no enjoyment from him at all. It was just a way to pay back the humiliation he got that day."
She sat next to the fire with the chain around her neck. It was the night time chain of 15', so she could sit comfortably while the slaves on either side slept. "I always knew disaster like this was coming. He procrastinated over everything. One of the reasons he was such a poor planter. Especially where his wife was concerned. He feared her. But she thought she was too good to care about the work around the plantation. My father built a pretty grand slave hut for my mother and my brothers and me. We were officially field hands but I never saw that. I taught school to the other slaves."
"That was illegal!"
"His wife was a fire eater, so to spite her, quietly, he had us go to school. If he had money I think he would have paid us, he disliked her so much. All the slaves did well in school, because we hated her also. Getting a good job in school we felt was a way to show her."
"What about your brothers?"
"When they got to be twelve he took them up to Galena Illinois to sell hides to a tanner up there. And he conveniently lost them. He lost quite a few young slaves that way. I only wish he could have lost me up there too, but he couldn't see taking me on the boat up there where he would see how I was treated. I wish he were not so squeamish."
"What about the Children by his wife?"
"He was a bit of work. Dissipated and fat. She doted on him. He thought he was a tremendous gambler. He stole estate money to gamble. And he lost it every time. Money that was reserved for our manumission he grabbed and lost. He challenged a gambler to a duel when the sherriff came to take the plantation and sell it and us. He lost that too."
"Only the one boy?"
"Four girls died in infancy. And he was sure that none of them were his."
"What happened to them?"
"I don't know. He watched Mom and me being sold. I saw him walk to the train statin after being sold. After that, I never saw him again. "
"What about her?"
"You know the woman who provided our stew this evening? That was her. She has lost 50lbs. And she probably has only one dress who had so many. I don't feel any joy at her discomfort, where mine is so much worse"
Cassandra listened to Ezekiel as he tried to sell the young man on Ben's finer points. She was conflicted because she really didn't want Ben going with her all the way to New Orleans, but the young man was being sold a pup. She knew that much already. And she had decided that she didn't like Ezekiel at all. "You know why Ben is being sold down the river?"
Ezekiel shook his fist at her and turned his back to her. "Don't pay her any attention"
"You see he has all those extra chains on him? He really isn't worth $600. Or $6."
The young man laughed and wandered off. Ezekiel stormed over to Cassandra. "What did you do that for! Do you want me to chain him up to you?"
Cassandra smiled "Don't damage the merchandise."
"I am getting tired of your lip. So hep me.." Ezekiel looked around. "Dan, tie her hands to that branch on that oak. Let her feet touch the ground, barely. Make it so I can lift it her up with a pull on the rope."
Dan nodded to Howard. They marched over to Cassandra, took her out of the chain and marched her to the oak. Dan swiftly Tied her up with a complicated series of knots. Ezekiel gave the rope a quick pull. Cassandra yelped in pain. Ezekiel let go for a moment, then pulled again and held it. "Listen to me and you listen good. You don't speak without permission. Understood?" Cassandra bit her cheek. Ezekiel pulled on the rope more. "Understood?" Cassandra screwed up her face from pain. Ezekiel pulled the rope and then released it. "I can pull on this rope all day. Do you understand me?"
Cassandra was breathing heavily and heaving. "I understand your words"
Dan looked worried. "You shouldn't hang her with wrists up like that. You might kill the baby"
"That's an old wives tale. I need to have her quiet and not interfering like that. "
"Gag her then. The old wives are almost always right when it comes to pregnancy."
"I am heartily sick and tired of her lip. She always has something to say about everything. Well she is learning to be quiet now "
Cassandra asked "Does hanging by your wrist really kill the baby?" She sounded tired and hopeful
Dan shrugged. "My wife always had the neighbor help with the laundry when she was pregnant. And she helped the neighbors out. "
"I am glad then that I told that boy about your fraud. I will shout about your double dealing from the rooftops."
"A few more hours and you will be quieter than a mouse. "
"This dealer is a owwWWW." She shouted as Ezekiel pulled on the rope that held her wrists.
"You will be quiet."
She quieted down. He let the ropes down so that her feet rested on the ground. "How do you like my way of educating slaves?"
"I still think my way is better."
He pulled on the ropes. "You sure about that?" She gasped from pain and he let loose on the ropes again.
She huffed a few times "It does get peoples attention, I will grant you that, But for learning anything, I still beg to differ."
"A bit longer hanging like this and you learn. You will learn."
"But the baby?" asked Dan.
"Phooey. Old wives tales. She is healthy, the baby will be fine. She is looking big for five months. It will be due just about when we reach New Orleans. A big baby. When the baby is big enough, we will have another vat worker."
Ezekiel pulled on the ropes. Cassandra quieted down "It will take quite a long stretch won't it girl."
"Forty years, I guess" Cassandra said
Ezekiel gave her a disgusted look and pulled on the ropes. Cassandra gasped and breathed heavily. Ezekiel let loose of the rope and stompded off<./p>
Dan and Howard took the rest of the slaves off to the stable for the night. Cassandra hung by her wrists with no one paying attention to her. After an hour Dan came out carrying a plate of stew and corn bread and cider. He sat down at the base of the oak and said "Ezekiel wanted you to see what everyone else was having. You aren't getting none." Then he silently ate his supper.
Cassandra watched him for a while. "You aren't supposed to talk to me beyond that?" Dan smiled and shook his head affirmatively. "Enjoy your supper." Dan finished his supper and gave the plate to a slave girl. He whistled as he went to the inn.
A while later Ezekiel and Dan came back out to the oak. Dan was holding onto a chain. Ezekiel stood right up to her. "Do you have anything else you want to say, or do you want to stay here all night?" She shook her head. Ezekiel smiled with satisfaction, and Dan chained her up and then untied her from the oak. She rubbed her shoulders as she walked over to the stable. She lay down as Dan attached her to the chain. She turned to the wall as the rest of the slaves watched.
Cassandra felt horribly ill, which was normal for her pregnancy. This evening she felt worse than ever. She also felt squeezing and pains in her middle. At first she bore the pains stoically, but the women on either side of her on the chain noticed her distress. She had dry heaves and she had to stop for a moment sometimes.
Dan noticed her distress, and rode up to Ezekiel. "Something's wrong with Cassie's baby"
Ezekiel rode back down the chain. "You malingering, girl?"
Cassandra gave Ezekiel a look of loathing, breathed difficulty, and marched on. The women on either side of her looked worriedly at Ezekiel. "She has been in trouble for the last couple of miles" Abby said. "She looks real bad"
"Howard, we passed a plantation four miles back. See if they have a black midwife and ask if we borrow her for a while." He looked worried. "Everybody rest on the side of the road a bit. Dan, take her out of the chain and take her 20 yards off the road."
"I told you that you would kill the baby by hangin her by her hands. The cord strangled the baby, see!"
"No way it caused the baby being still born."
Cassandra leaned up for a moment and said "Post hoc, ergo procter hoc." She lay down again.
"Oh great, she is delirious. "
Cassandra shook her head. "'After this, because of this' is a logical fallacy. If you saw a cat chasing a mouse, would you say the mouse is the cause of the cat?"
"Woman! When we get somewhere I can hang you by your wrists again, so help me..."
"I will shut up. I will be as quiet as the cause of the cat.".......
"You always have to have the last word. Always. I am going to start calling you Echo"
"Do you think you are Narcissus?"
"I don't know. Dan never bought me a mirror." Cassandra and Cicero both laughed.
"Do you mind telling the rest of us what is so funny?" asked Ezekiel.
Cassandra and Cicero looked at each other. "I am Echo, remember."
Cicero stretched his arms out. "Way way back in Greek times their gods and goddesses used to party all the time, and the biggest party animal was the king of the gods, Zeus. He would have huge parties with the goddesses and the nymphes and the fauns and all the folk like that. Now Zeus' wife, Hera, didn't like him party party party all the time, and one time when he was having a particular fine party Hera comes along to break it up. Zeus had Echo, who was a chatterbox like Cassandra here... "
..."Who always always always had to have the last word to forestall Hera while Zeus had to have all the nymphs and fauns and gods and goddesses run off so that when Hera got into the room in the palace where Zeus was, he was smoking a quiet pipe and looking an innocent as peaches. Hera didn't appreciate being made a fool of by Echo..."
"I always thought Zeus was a chicken where Hera was concerned"
..."So She turns and tells Echo 'You like having the last word? Well the last word is all that you will have!' And she marches off like a steam engine about to blow."
"Echo discovered that the last word was what she had. She didn't have any other word. So she ran off to the rocky places, where you can here her even yet."
"Of course, Echo had eyes, and one day she comes across this soldier boy named Narcissus. He was so fine, he was so handsome he was so great! She just melted every time she saw him. But Narcissus he had no time for Echo. No time at all. Echo just pinned for Narcissus, who just ignored her."
"Echo Went up to Hera, and begged that Narcissus would pay attention to her. Hera didn't do that. But she short of compromised. He would fall in love with someone who wouldn't give him the time of day."
"So one day Narcissus was sitting by a pool of water. And in that pool of water was a man who got his engine going. A man so handsome, a man so fine, so wonderful that he had to embrace and kiss him. But when he tried to embrace him, to kiss him, he would run away. But after a few moments he was back! And Narcissus would try to kiss him again, and again he would run away."
"Narcissus sat by that pool of water and he couldn't go away from this love of his life. And so he sat there until Hera had pity on him and turned him into a flower, that was always looking into its reflection in a pool of water."
Ezekiel said "I understand you have a felon you want to sell down the river? I have a collection of indigo vats that always need more laborers. Working with indigo is unhealthy work and bunches of them die every year. But we need indigo. The Northerners want their blue cloth."
"We have a slave who is due to be executed for paricide. I would prefer to execute him, but the other judges want to sell him. Are you positive he will go to the indigo vats?"
"You have to tell your slaves history when you sell him. No one but the indigo plantations would want him" Ezekiel explained. "I have heard his story from folkes in town. Very sad. Of course, he would be sold very cheaply, coinsidering his work history. I was thinking $250? Someone like him isn't worth a lot considering how little he has been worked."
"$375. Not a penny less."
"I might be willing to pay $275...."
"$375. I want him to hang. I can force the other judges to make him hang for anything less than that. "
"$300 is a nice price for this lazybones. How well he will work .."
"Listen, I am not going to dicker and haggle. $375 with you paying the expenses of the sale or he dances to the hempen fandango. Which I would prefer. If you are willing to pay that, he is yours. Otherwise, you are wasting my time and I would be obliged if you would waste time elsewhere."
Ezekiel sighed. He sat and looked around the office. "I will call the bailiff to throw you out in a moment."
Ezekiel said "I want to leave town tomorrow. Can you have the the title and bill of sale done today?"
The judge rang the bell. "This gentleman is buying Valet de Chamber. Prepare the bill of sale and title transfer, the expenses of sale he will cover. Get the other judges to sign off on it." He looked with loathing at Ezekiel and said "You have no reason to pollute this office any further. You can collect Valet de Chamber at any time after 7:00 tomorrow morning. Good afternoon"
Ezekiel marched his slaves into his slave pen in the city. He had too many for his needs. He would have to sell a couple. He saw a slave dealer across the way arguing with a customer. "I Ain't selling you another slave until you show me what you have done with those women I sold you last month. I don't like doing business with you, so git."
The customer wandered off without a care. Ezekiel went up to the other dealer. "Why don't you want to do business with him?"
"He scares me. He comes and buys the best looking slaves, yellow ones by preference, both male and female, and he always wants more. But slaves go into his mansion, and they never ever come out."
"He could be taking them out sometimes when you aren't looking."
"Maybe so, but he doesn't have anyplace else to put them. They just go in, and no one has ever seen one come out. Ever."
"Does he pay well?"
"That is what else is spooky. He pays cash on the barrelhead, and he pays extravagant amounts."
"Why do you care what he does with them? The money's good."
"I used to think that, but I don't hold with extravagant cruelty."
"I'll look em up."
"You will change your mind when you talk to him."
"I hear you are in the market for a new slave?" He looked into Drioite's eyes. They were a startling shade of deep blue, that were sunk deep in his skull. Droite was thin almost to emaciation but his arms and legs were strong as steel bands.
"I need a couple"
Ezekiel felt cold. "What do you want? I have field hands, a cook, a house maid, and one I have no idea what he will be good for. I have a couple that can write, if you want shop clerks here in New Orleans."
A smile that did not go up to the eyes rose up on Droite's face. "These sales clerks... Are they pretty?"
Ezekiel became nervous. "I wouldn't say these men are pretty, but one of them is ⅞ white and he would be considered handsome by some"
Droite leaned forward in his chair. "Tell me more about him. This handsome one"
"I have to warn you he killed his previous owner. There is that."
"He won't kill me. Tell me more about this handsome one"
"He was thought to be white, and was raised as such. Then he discovered who his mother was and he killed his father. He went to college and did quite well there. His name is Valet de Chamber, Chambers for short." Ezekiel felt so very cold despite the heat of the day. He decided to jack up the price. "He is available for $2,000. He knows accounting and algebra. He would be an excellent sales clerk." Ezekiel felt that charging four times his worth would end this discussion.
Droite nodded his head. "Shall we inspect the merchandise?"
Ezekiel felt trapped. Why had he come here? "Do you have banker's drafts for $2,000?"
"I have several. Which bank do you prefer?"
With that, Ezekiel told him his bank and they walked to Ezekiel's counting house. On the way there Ezekiel said he had a large consignment waiting for the transfer of title to come through, and that most of his slaves were at his indigo plantation. Droite just smiled and said "um hum" at appropriate spots. When they got to the sales room they noticed how quiet it was. Ezekiel told Droite to wait and he went back to the slave pens. The men were mostly resting, but Chambers was pacing. "All of you be as quiet as termites or you will get 40 lashes. You hear me?" He signaled to Dan and Howard and said "Bring Chambers to the sales floor. Make him look presentable."
He went back to the sales floor. "We will give him a quick brush up." He got his whip.
"That will hardly be necessary. "
"They like it when they look their best"
Dan came in leading Chambers with a chain around his neck. He was wearing his good suit.
"Very good!" Droite walked around Chambers. Chambers looked at Ezekiel waving his whip around. Droite stopped in front of Chambers and ripped his shirt off. He cocked his head. "Oh so VERY good. I think this one would do oh so nicely. He will be Marvelous, absolutely marvelous. Do you have a bill of sale and a change of title prepared?"
Ezekiel felt very cold again. But he felt that the sooner they got this sale done, the better. He went to his office and got the appropriate forms. All they needed was the purchaser information. He came out and got Droite's information on the forms, collected the banker's drafts, and they walked to the courthouse. He told Dan to have the women fix his shirt by the time they returned.
When they returned from the courthouse and shook hands Chambers was ready with his hands in chains and a chain around his neck. Droite led him out the door. Ezekiel told Dan "If that man ever comes back tell him I have gone to Michigan and you have no idea when I will have more merchandise. That man is terrifying."
They went down a lane to the south of the big house. They went through a field of sugar cane. A big big beefy overseer met them at the place where two lanes came together. Dan separated Cato, Nestor and Ben and they were taken by Wilson, the overseer, to the nearby cabins. They continued behind the house to where short yellow plants were growing in long rows. Here Tom, Albert and Frank were taken by another overseer. They continued on to shacks where the smell was indescribably foul. Henry and Saul were taken here by yet another overseer. Finally they came to a long building. Here they were met by the last overseer. Ezekiel left them there and Cassandra looked at around.
The new overseer took them to their cabin behind the building. "Listen up" he began "I don't know why you new fish are here, but this is the nicest place here. You develop light fingers or any other felonies, you will go back to the vats. You hear me? You shouldn't be here, there are lots of slaves who deserve to be here more than you. Any backchat, any laziness, any incompetence, you go back to the vats." He looked at them, and humphed. then he led them back to the buildings. He went inside. "You have worked a spinning wheel?"
Abby nodded. Cassandra shook her head. He looked at her. "What did you do?"
"I taught school"
"I will give you an additional week to get proficient. Then it is to the vats with you. You will do your very best, and you will will perform up to standard." He pointed at Abby "Up to standard which is twenty four skeins per day of 8 ounces, or to the vats with you. I have three girls working the vats who should be here rather than you two."
He led them into the room, where four women were working looms and 20 women at the spinning jennies . "Have you ever worked a loom?" Abbey nodded. Cassandra looked sick. "If you don't get sent to the vats like this one will, after six months you will get a chance to work a loom. If there is an opening. "
"Do the workers in the sugar cane and the indigo fields get rewards too?" asked Cassandra.
"They don't get whipped as often. " He pointed to a pair of chair with holes in the seats. "Over there you do your business. Crap on the right, piss on the left. Don't use the wrong chair or it is to the vats with you. "
"Why does it matter?" asked Cassandra.
"Piss is valuable. It makes the vats work better than plain water. Crap isn't. When you are working with wool every morning you start off with the carders for three hours. You don't need to do that when you work with cotton or flax."
Cassandra was looking at the looms. "What are those cards doing?"
"They control the weave. We produce some nice cloths, and the cards make the pattern. The only trouble is we have to hire some men to load the warp and that takes a week to do. You get to work the linens while they do that. Enough talking. Abbey, you get on the spinner between Sandy and Aisha. Cassandra, work over there and start carding"
"I got a good haul for the indigo vats and the cane fields. I hope they all survive till next year."
"The vats gets them every time. But the northerners do want their blue linens."
"I got a couple for the spinning room. I got a poisoner, but I think she is innocent."
"Make sure she is spinning linen."
"She is too incompetent for that. Would you believe one of her previous owners had her teaching school?"
"Send her to the vats right now. She is dangerous!"
"Actually I was thinking of having her handling the accounting in the stores. She is smart as a whip. We need someone like her doing the accounting."
"She is dangerous. She has ideas above her station. Slaves who can read and write will have ideas. Dangerous ideas."
"I think she is properly cowed. If she gets uppity, she goes right to the vats, no question. But before that, we can make use of her"
"When she goes to the vats, put her in with the linens. I don't trust her. She is a poisoner. It comes from having too much book learning. She doesn't come up to the house, and double she doesn't touch the kitchens."
"Understood. But I can use her in the stores. I will let her stew in the spinning room for a couple weeks first. Maybe let her taste the vats before I take her to the stores. She needs to see how far she has sunk before I let her loose in the stores. She will be properly frightened "
Ezekiel with Dan and Howard trotted on matching bays into town with Ben running quickly to keep up with his hands cuffed behind him and his neck in chains. They would try to sell him for a pittance to whoever wanted him. He had caused way too many problems. They crossed Desire st where they were hailed by Droite. Ezekiel paused and Droite came up to him. "Is this one for sale?"
Ezekiel thought of lying to him but decided not to. "He is. He has caused way too many problems"
"Do tell! " Said Droite. "What kind of problems?"
"He gets drunk and he has killed two other hands. I am going to the sheriff to have him executed. He has worn my overseers out whipping him."
"$500, right now. I have a banker's draft on your favorite bank in my pocket."
"I don't have a bill of sale for him, or title"
"You won't complain if I just take him off your hands?"
Ezekiel didn't like the idea of selling him to Droite, but $500 for someone worth no more than $50, if that, as he wanted to turned him over to the sheriff. "What do you want him for? He isn't your normal purchase"
"What is my usual purchase? He seems to be amusing." Droite took a banker's draft from his pocket book.
Ezekiel took it with reluctance. "Dan, Howard, make sure he doesn't get away from him. I will wait for you at the bank."
A short while later, his banking business done he was waiting for Dan and Howard to come back. They came back at a fast run. Howard said "Lets get out of here! That place is spooky"
Dan said "I want to have a great deal of distance between that ghoul and me. I have carried men into the indigo vats, I thought I had seen all there was to see. That man scares me. I don't scare easy."
Ezekiel stood arms akimbo above the vat where Cassandra was working. "What in tarnation are you doing."
"I want to die. This is the fastest way to do it."
"You aren't competent to work the vats. Get out before I whip you out. " She stolidly worked the vat. "Why do you want to work the vats?"
"Wilson. He attacks you when you aren't ready for it, and he seems to know when your period is on. He likes to see your blood on his cock. "
Ezekiel stormed off. Twenty minutes later he came back with Wilson. "You see what you have done! She prefers working the vats to being under your charge. You are not to touch her, understand?"
Wilson was angry. "I get to do them any time I want. That is one of the benefits of the job."
"Well you don't get to touch this one. She is more valuable than you by a long shot."
"Just whip her better"
Ezekiel kicked the vat in frustration. "You don't mess with Cicero or Cassandra. The work they do you can't get them to do better by using the whip. They use brains. Something foreign to you, I don't wonder."
Wilson shouted "I know my rights"
Ezekiel became very quiet. "Then I will have to let you go. I paid $345 for her. I got a bargain. I didn't pay a penny for you, and you are too damn expensive."
Wilson quieted down. "Any other one is ok?" Ezekiel nodded. "Damn it to hell. Ok, this one I leave alone. She is a terrible lay anyway." He stomped off.
Ezekiel grabbed Cassandra's arm. "Wash up and go back to the office. I have someone coming for 100 bricks of dye. I need you to grade them before he gets here." She came out and began walking toward the pump. "If you spoiled this batch I will tan your hide so good!" He shouted at the rest of the slaves working the vats. "Get busy! I want to thrash someone this evening, maybe two somebodies. Make sure it isn't you!"
"Do any of you know this Droite character? He called me to his house when I came back from a purchasing trip back in October. He wanted to buy a bunch of my slaves. I sold one that was more trouble than he was worth. For $2,000."
"I heard of him before I met him. He made me nervous. I told him I was sold out."
"He came from somewhere back east. New York or Boston. He had oodles of money. He bought a bunch of women. And I went to his place, and none of them were there."
"Could he be buying them to ship North?"
"Abolitionists don't spend that kind of money on slaves. Besides, it didn't feel like he was buying them for that purpose. If an abolitionist wants to pay $4,000 for a slave, he is welcome. "
"What is he doing with them?"
"I won't tell you my suspicion, but I wont sell him any more of my slaves. "
A detail off confederate soldiers came up to the office, followed by a chain of worried looking slaves. Droite, wearing a colonels uniform, leading the way followed by a pair of majors and a group of privates. Ezekiel came out to meet them. Droite saluted Ezekiel and said "I am here to requisition three or four slaves. They are needed to build fortifications down in the delta."
"Requisition? For how long? It is planting season, I need the ones I got. You can't just grab a bunch off of me without a good say so."
"For as long as they are needed. We need to fortify the area around here better. New Orleans is too important to be left defenseless. "
Ezekiel thought for a bit "I suppose in a pinch...."
Droite said with finality "I pick them. Call them all over here"
Ezekiel turned to Dan and Wilson with bad grace. "You heard the man. Get them over here."
While Dan, Howard and Wilson gathered the slaves Droite and the two majors got off their horses. They argued quietly with the majors emphatically castigating Droite, who merely grinned at them. All the slaves gathered behind the office nervously. Droite and the majors quickly chose two of them who were hustled over to the chain. Droite turned to Ezekiel "You have a couple that can read and write. I need them."
The slaves looked at Cicero. Droite quickly moved over to him. "Excellent, this one too."
The majors and Ezekiel quickly expostulated. A major said "Our orders are for slaves who are big and strong and who can move 75lbs. This one is a small, elderly and weedy and I don't see him lifting 75lbs.
Droite took his whip. "He will lift 75lbs when I tell him too. Literate slaves are a hazard. We need to make sure they understand who is in control here. I am the colonel, you are majors. We take him." He looked over at the slaves and noticed Cassandra. "And that one too."
The majors and Ezekiel expostulated again. The major said "We are supposed to get strong backs to build heavy fortifications. We are supposed to get strong men. She is not a strong man. I will take this up with the general. We are gathering workers, not honey pots for you to dip your wick into. You are making trouble for the plantations, trouble for the construction of the forts, trouble for the defense of the city. You have to stop this."
Droite walked up to Cassandra, who swallowed nervously. He wandered around her and reached for her bosom. Ezekiel said "Hands off. She is not a male. She is not what you came here for."
Droite stopped. He stormed to Ezekiel. He hissed "I will be back.". He glared at the majors, who glared back. He stalked to his horse, and got on. The majors ran to their mounts and climbed on. Droite walked off without a word, the majors got the detail moving. The soldiers got Cicero in the chain, and they moved on as well.
Ezekiel stood there clenching his fists. He turned to Cassandra and barked "You know all of Cicero's duties? You can do that? She nodded. "Very well then, you take over for Cicero till he comes back." He stared at the rapidly moving chain of slaves. "Why oh why did they have to put up four Democrats last year? Any one of them could have beaten that bean pole handily. Four of them guaranteed this disaster. I have lost three slaves worth almost $2,000, the yankees have blockaded the port, the river is closed to commercial traffic. I am losing money hand over fist because a bunch of idiot politicians couldn't think half as clearly as the Mississippi during the spring. Idiots. Fools. Imbeciles." He stalked into the office and slammed the door. Cassandra stood there nervously. The door opened. He screamed "Get to work, all of you! Cassie, get in here. We have to adjust the work schedules. NOW!"
The firing had stopped for three days. Ezekiel rode toward town on the second day, but turned back when he came across a Union picket line five miles down the road. In the afternoon calm the harsh jangling sound of an army on the march. First came the men on horseback. Then came two regiments came marching. Finally came two battalions of light artillery, and one of heavy artillery drawn by oxen. At the tail end came a final group of horsemen, one of which was leading a young man, young David, on a chain. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch. The overseers were gawking too.
The horseman leading David came up to the big house, where the family waited. "This here is yours, I believe?"
"That is my youngest son" Said Ezekiel.
"Your young'un has got the most sand I ever did see. He has enough sand to extend the delta five miles. But he is too young to be fighting wars at his age." The horseman got off. "I think you had better keep him chained up. He kept wanting to run off."
Ezekiel addressed David. "Where are your brothers?"
"Saul was killed. Hezikiya and Ezra are wounded and in a Yankee hospital. Hezikaya lost his right arm at the shoulder."
The officer handed the chain to Ezekiel. "We have to set up a camp here, but Mr Lincoln said not to incommode you any more than necessary. If you will assist in showing us where the best place to camp, and I do mean the best place, would be, I would be much obliged. "
"And if I don't?"
"Well, I am in sort of a disagreement with Mr Lincoln about discommoding rebels. I would find the best place for me without reference to you. But Orders are orders. Are you going to have me follow my orders to the letter, or are you going to allow me to follow my inclination?"
Ezekiel thought for a bit. "About a quarter mile on is a large watercourse. There are places where there are magnolias rather than cypress are growing, so you know where the dry spots are." The officer gave a wolfish grin. "The watercourse is pretty deep, but the watercourse is sluggish. The mosquitos are pretty fierce there. I don't permit my slaves to spend much time there. But mosquito season is pretty much over. I would prefer you use the cypress for cooking and firewood."
"Do you have mosquito netting?"
"I could make some up, if you are willing to pay for it. But it is seven cents a yard, and each soldier would require two yards."
"I would require 300 yards then. I would pay $5 now, $10 when you have 150 yards done, the balance when you deliver the last of it. Agreed?" He took a $5 gold coin out of his pocketbook.
Ezekiel turned to the weaving room overseer "Number Seven loom isn't being used for anything, correct?" The overseer nodded. "Have Farida work it to produce mosquito netting."
Farida asked with a shocked expression expression "Arent we free now? Isn't this war about us, like he always said?"
The officer sighed. "Unfortunately, no. Another place I disagree with Mr Lincoln. Provided slaves haven't been used in building defenses or other war like pursuits, you are still the property of this man here." The slaves standing around sounded mutinous. "We will also, against my better judgement, enforce his authority."
"Cassandra!" She came racing up. Ezekiel handed her the chain. "Take this and tie him to a chair in the schoolroom. Have him write 'I will not shoot damned yankees till I am seventeen' 200 times. Don't you dare assist him. Don't you dare." He stood still for a moment.
"Wait! David, do yo know what happened to Cicero, Cato and Nestor?"
"This guy had them penned up. He wouldn't tell me what happened to them."
"They were used to build fortifications south of New Orleans. They are contraband."
"Yes, any slave used to build fortifications are as much contraband as the fortifications they construct."
"But they are mine!"
"You shouldn't have allowed them to be used for building fortifications."
"Allowed them? They came and took them. They didn't pay for them either."
Captain Buchhalter shrugged. "They were used to build forts. Your bad luck."
"It looks as if you have Cicero's job permanently now Cassandra. Take him away, and make sure he writes his lines neatly. You can use as many hickory sticks as you need."
Tom, one of the larger and more menacing servants, and Cassandra sat in the back with the dye blocks that Ezekiel was taking to the port. She was enjoying the trip. Suddenly Ezekiel stopped the buckboard. Tom was grinning. She turned around and looked at what Tom and Ezekiel had noticed. They saw Cicero and the other slaves that had been taken by Droite working on building a levee. Ezekiel shouted "Cicero! Come here boy! " Cicero ignored him. Ezekiel got his whip and started to go after Cicero, when his way was blocked by a soldier. "That's my slave, I intend to get him back."
The soldier presented his bayonet to Ezekiel's chest. "Contraband. You can't have him."
Ezekiel swore. "I wasn't paid for him! I mean to get him."
"What the confederate government did or didn't do does not do is no concern of mine. He is contraband. He is working for the US army now. "
Ezekiel stomped back to the buckboard. "Cassie, see if you can't talk to Cicero. Find out how long he is going to be working for the army."
Cassandra got off the buckboard and walked to the soldier and asked permission to speak to one of the contrabands. "Are you one of his slaves?" The soldier asked incredulously. She nodded. "These southerners are monsters. Pass."
She went up to Cicero "How do, Cicero? They treating you right?"
Cicero put down his shovel. "Pretty fair. I am getting 60¢ a day, and no whippings. The work is hard, and if you don't work, you don't eat, and we have to compete for the open jobs. It is harder work than I have ever done. It is more satisfying."
"He wants to know if you are coming back."
"Nope. No way in hell. I hear they are going to recruit us contrabands as soldiers. I intend to get in on that. Who do they have doing my job?"
"Me. I am having a lot of fun doing it. I feel kind of conflicted. I do a good job because that is what I do, but I don't feel right doing it."
"Continue doing a good job because it is a good habit. The world is turning upside down. Slavery is deader than a doornail. Lots of other things changing too. I am sorry, I can't talk more. Time is money. Bye now Cassie"
She embraced him and walked back to Ezekiel. "He is contraband. He is lost to you. He thinks they are going to recruit black soldiers, and he thinks he will join the army. They are paying him. He likes that."
Ezekiel stared at her. He looked at the soldiers patrolling the waterfront. He swallowed. "Get in the back. Please. We have work to do." Tom and Cassandra grinned at each other. The world was changing. Not by much, but that little was momentous.
They got down to the wharfs. They were looking for a french ship that Ezekiel thought would be interested in his dyes. Ezekiel was worried about his finances as his cash reserves were almost down to nothing, and the prices of slaves had sunk precipitously. He hoped that the french ship would buy his dyes that the british wouldn't touch. Cassandra saw the tricolor first, and they drove up to the wharf it was tied up at. There looked around at the quiet ship. Cassandra stood up and shouted "Bon jew ore!"
Ezekiel asked sourly "You have the french lingo?"
"Father insisted. I didn't do very well."
A bearded face came out of a hatch. Bonjour madam.
"Es-tu le capitaine?"
"Non, je vais le chercher." The bearded face went below.
"He is going to fetch the captain. I'm afraid I have shot my bolt speaking french. Especially if he starts on in discussing numbers. The french number system is confusing."
Another bearded face came out of the door on the main deck. Bonjour madam. Bienvenue à bord de mon navire
"Merci. Maître." she said indicating Ezekiel.
"Ah! And You have somezing to sell?" changing languages for Ezekiel.
"I have some bricks of indigo dye."
"And your dye is forbidden to sell to ze english, no? You use mordants forbidden by ze english? Your dyes are not forbidden to us. How many do you have?"
"I have 300 here, I have 400 more blocks back at the farm."
"700 blocks! Such a lot of dye!" He offered a ridiculous price.
Cassandra said "There is another frech ship further down the waterfront."
"Non Non! Let us not be so hasty! How about a bit more?"
"This one is why the french are famous for their christian milk."
Ezekiel gave a price that was the same as the indigo fetched in 1860.
The captain said "You have 700 bricks of dye. You are flooding ze market."
Cassandra said "We thought you would appreciate some dye, as you have been without for two years. Lets see what that other captain will offer. He wants us to give him the dyes for free."
"For the price he is offering I will use these bricks to build a house." He turned and moved to the ladder.
"Now now, we are all friends here. I have to make a profit for my lovely ship. I tell you I will be willing to offer zees much." Offering a pittance but more in line with the price of the goods.
"I have expenses too. You are offering an amount that leave me in penury. I will starve if I take a penny less than this."
"The army uses a lot of blue dye. Have you thought of offering them any? Selling to the army or starving becomes less of a matter of patriotism when you have to face that choice head on" Cassandra pointed out.
The captain doubled his offer.
Cassandra moved to the ladder and began going down it. Ezekiel turned to say goodbye when the captain accepted his last offer for 700 blocks. They shook hands. The captain gave quick orders to his crew and the captain went into his cabin for the money in silver.
A net was dropped next to the buckboard from a crane on the ship. The captain came back with the money and they began moving the blocks quickly into net. In no time the net was filled, the buckboard was empty and the crane dropped the net into hold. The captain looked satisfied. "You come tomorrow with the 400 blocks no? I pay you for them then." Ezekiel and the captain shook hands again.
Cassandra and Tom sat down in the buckboard. Ezekiel got the buckboard moving away from the waterfront. when they were a ways a way he stopped it for a moment. Ezekiel asked "Christian milk?"
Cassandra laughed. "Milk that has been baptized. I read it in a book on traveling in France."
He looked at her again. "Echo would be a better name for you. " Then he started the horses again.
Cassandra enjoyed listening to the german musicians play their polkas and waltzes. Of Course, they didn't always play music. They argued about politics back home.
Sergeant Hofbrodt was laughing as he was reading the news from Prussia in Germany "Another new chancellor. They go through them in a hurry!"
"They will find someone they like. They can't go through the entire Junker class."
"What is the news? " asked Cassandra.
Captain Buchhalter explained "Another new chancellor for Prussia. Someone named Bismark. He is the fourth, I think, Chancellor in five years."
"Six months tops!" said Hofbrodt
"The sergeant thinks he won't last half a year."
"The Sergeant is from Prussia? Why did he leave?"
"She wants to know why you left."
"Chose the wrong side in '48. I had to leave in a hurry. I was an officer! They had no amnesty for officers."
"There was an abortive revolution in 1848, and he was on the side of the revolutionists. When the revolution was crushed, he came here."
"Why are they going through Chancellors so quickly?"
"She wants to know why they are going through chancellors so quickly. It confuses me too."
"The king, in order to quiet the rebellion, had to agree to more powers to the landtag. The king wants men drafted to serve three years, the landtag only wants them to serve two."
"The king made a deal to quiet the revolution had to give more power to the legislature. Not much, but more than before. Now the king and the legislature are are arguing over men's compulsory service. The king wants the men to serve three years, the legislature only wants service for two years."
Everybody serves two years? But the king wants it to be longer and the legislature wants it to be shorter! They should be arguing that they don't have to serve at all.
That is what legislatures the world over do. Argue minutia. For the last 80 years people here have been arguing over where slavery should be, and how it should operate. Discussing whether it should exist at all... they didn't think about discussing that.
"Did you come to America in 48?"
"No, my father came in 1830. He doesn't talk about it. I imagine it must have been pretty bad then as well. He told me he was a journeyman printer in Dresden. But what happened in 30, he just wont tell me. "
"You want what?"
"Ve vould a lamb like to buy for the holiday."
"Passover friday neight vould be"
Ezekiel thought for a moment. He would have five lambs for sale, and selling them in New Orleans would be difficult with the checkpoints between the plantation. But doing anything to oblige lieutenant Zimmermann just bothered him. "I have five lambs. You would have to buy all five for $20."
"A moment please"
Captain Buchhalter came into the office then. "What are you people doing here? " he asked in german.
"We came here to buy a lamb for the passover holiday, but he wants us to buy five for $20" Lieutenant Zimmerman said in German
"Unconscionable price gouging" lieutenant Elber sputtered. "We only want the one, and that one would only be worth $2.50."
"I will buy the other four for $4.25 a piece, you can make sausage out of them? Maybe some steaks?" he asked in German. "He won't sell them to me, so you have to make the deal." He turned to Ezekiel. "These men don't belong here. Take their money or not, but they have to go."
Lieutenant Zimmerman passed over a bunch of bills and change. Ezekiel took them with bad grace, and left. Captain Buchhalter went over to Cassandra and asked about any mail that had come to the plantation that was for him. "None today. What is this passover they are talking about?"
"It is a religious holidays for jews. I don't know much about it either. I just know it comes around Easter."
"I wonder what it is like? I would like to see something different than Christianity" she said with much bitterness.
"That shouldn't be any problem. They do permit, nay encourage, poor people to eat at the table. However, the food they serve is horrible."
"Oh come, it can't be that bad."......
"Lieutenant Zimmerman! Cassandra is interested in going to your passover dinner. I would be escorting her. Would that be agreeable?"
"All are welcome. I do have a request for the gracious lady for the use of an oven on Thursday."
"I am sure that could be arranged."
Cassandra said "Ezekiel wouldn't approve.."
"We were wondering if you could get approval from on of the ladies in the cabins to use hers?"
She looked wonderingly "you are asking permission? White folks always just assume..."
"God wants us to ask. Especially for this holiday."
She shook her head in wonder. "Come with me. We will get you use of an oven. I know smoeone who has a large oven ."
"Thank you kindly.".....
Cassandra and Captain Buchhalter came to the table under some magnolias which were in flower. There were fifteen men seated around the table. There was a fire with some meat on it. Most of the men were privates, but there were other ranks. There was Corporal Silberschmied who was wearing a confederate uniform and waxed moustaches and was carrying a deck of cards. Silberschmied was usually a bit of a prig known for his disapproval of card playing.
Zaynab was seated defiantly at the table already. The men moved over for Cassandra and captain Buchhalter.
"Vell, ve have some visitors to our table, and zo I have some seders in english. But dey are Reform seders, so dey will not be exactly like the seder we are using. But close enough, close enough. I have from the sutlers some wine bought. It is wine, which is grapes, it is in glass bottles. It is not exactly kosher, but it is kosher enough. The lamb was not by a shochet killed, but I have had experience in confederates killing, so I am sure pain the lamb did not feel. Zo! " Lieutenant Zimmerman got a spill from the fire and used it to light the candles down the center of the table. Then he began reading from a scroll in Hebrew. All the men around the table raised their wine with him, and a moment later so did Captain Buchhalter, Cassandra and Zaynab. They all drank some wine and talk became general. Lieutenant Zimmerman and Lieutenant Elber began to go do down the table with a pitcher of water and washed the hands of each diner. Captain Buchhalter, Cassandra and Zaynab waited for eating to begin but no one touched the food yet.
Lieutenant Zimmerman took some parsley from a dish, which began going around the table. When everyone had some parsley, he gestured for quiet. Then he dipped the parsley in salt and began a blessing. Then he addressed Cassandra. "The parsley is to commemorate the baby boys who the Nile were cast into. The salt is for the tears of the midwives." Then he ate, joined by everyone else.
He took a piece of the Matzo, basically a hard tack, divided it, and covered the larger piece by a napkin. Then among humorous ribbing of the drummer boy, who was briefly blindfolded, he hid it in a caisson.
Lieutenant Zimmerman addressed Cassandra and Zayeb. "Now I am the invitation going to read. The tradition is I will do it in all languages of the table. " He first read the invitation in Hebrew, then in German, then in English."This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate on their way out of Egypt. Let all that are hungry, come and eat, let all that are thirsty come and drink. Last year we were slaves, next year may we be free men, this year we are here, next year in Yerushalaem"
"Now young Samuel Goldkugeln will the questions read, first in Hebrew, then in English."
The drummer boy stood up and read the questions in a singing style.
Vy is tonight different from all other nights
Vy on all other nights do we eat leavened and unleavend bread, and tonight unleavand bread only?
Vy on other nights do we eat all vegetables, but tonight only bitter vegetables?
Vy on other nights we don't dip even once, but tonight we dip twice?
Vy do we do we not recline, but tonight we recline?
"And now Private Hausierer will the questions answer in Hebrew , german and English" Lieutenant Zimmerman intoned
Ezekiel was furious. "You have got to keep your soldiers under better control. They shouldn't go rapeing my property without my say so!"
Captain Buchhalter looked with disgust at the bounty jumper. Then he looked at Ezekiel with disgust. "He shouldn't rape your property without your permission?"
"Of course not. " He thought for a bit. "Most of the time the overseers get on with the girls who are willing. Of course, there are different degrees of willing. But just attacking my slave like that is unconscionable."
"So is your objection that your slave was violated without your permission, or are you claiming she was damaged, or what precisely?"
"Fatima was damaged! She was still a virgin! I could have sold you that. Also he beat her badly. Look at what he did to her. She has a pair of broken teeth, she is bruised, she can't work for at least three days. "
The major looked at the bounty jumper. He wanted to do something to him, but he was at sea just exactly what the regulations said about this kind of thing. "The problem is, if she were a free woman, I could convene a court martial and try him for the rape and hang him. but since she is property, I think all I can do is tie him to the wheel for twelve hours for damaging civilian property."
Ezekiel looked at his twelve year old slave. "I manumit her today, she is a free woman, you can hang em?"
"I would have to convene a court martial, and the penalty for raping a free woman is death, yes."
Ezekiel looked at the slave, her bruises, her cuts, her bloody lip. "Cassandra.. go up to the office and see if there is a manumission form. I don't know if I still have them, but I remember getting them in a package of forms. They might be in the bottom drawer. But look everywhere."
Cassandra ran out the door and was gone twenty minutes. While they were waiting, Captain Buchhalter had the bounty jumper tied to an artillery wheel. Cassandra came back breathless waving a form. Ezekiel said "Go to the office and see if you can find the title document for her. I had to get one when she turned ten. " Cassandra raced back to the office while Ezekiel began filling out the form on a wood stump. She came back momentarily. Ezekiel looked at the title form and at the manumission form. "You will call a court martial and hang this bastard?"
"I can't promise that he will hang, but I will call a court martial, they will look at what he has done to her, and I am sure they will act accordingly."
"I will go to the courthouse. I will be about three hours. Try and have the court martial ready when I get back."
"It won't be that quickly, it will have to be at the colonel level. But I will tell them about it. They will probably have it by next week."
"That is all I can hope for. But I do want to see him swing"
Captain Buchhalter looked at the girl. "So do I, so do I"
Ezekiel left Captain Buchhalter and found that the slaves responsible for getting the trap ready had it ready to go, and the driver slave helped him up. They moved down the road quickly
Captain Buchhalter was relaxing with a book. He was feeling satisfied. There had been no jayhawker attacks for three weeks, there had been only three accidents, none debilitating, there were only ten men who had to patrol with a log all week, and no one had to be tied to a wheel in more than a month, with the exception of that one bounty jumper three days ago. He stretched. His mood declined suddenly. The old man, Cassandra, and Fatima and a bunch of other slaves were coming to his tent with the departmental mail. They looked pleased. Captain Buchhalter turned to his orderly. "Get a detail and bring that bounty jumper here tied up. Get another detail for a firing party."
He stood up and went into his tent for his copy of the Code of Military Justice. He got it, noted that the page was marked and came back to his tent as the the old man came up to him "We got the mail from the Court Martial. " Cassandra handed him the mail, with the court martial on top. A wagon came up quickly, carrying a rough pine coffin.
The two details captain Buchhalter requested also came up. The bounty jumper was tied and gaged. Captain Buchhalter had the bounty jumper tied to a wheel and the firing party lined up behind him, and told both details to stand at ease.
Buchhalter opened the letter and read it quickly. Then he turned to the bounty jumper. "Ajax U. Priestly, you have been charged with the rape of a free ten year old black woman, and you have been found guilty by your commanding officer, Captain Otto B. Buchhalter and sentenced to death. This court martial confirms the sentence passed by Captain Otto B. Buchhalter acting as judge. This court martial charges Captain Otto B. Buchhalter to carry out this sentence expeditiously." He folded the letter and stuck it into the book.
He looked around. "Lets go to the watercourse and tie him to that branch of that oak over there."
The sergeants called out commands that moved the group to the tree. Swiftly they tied him with his arms held up. The firing party got into position. The captain stood at one side, and allowed the crowd of slaves along with the wagon to stand behind the party.
Captain Buchhalter said "Ajax U. Priestly, you have been convicted of the crime of rape while serving in the US Army, of bringing the army into disrepute, and bringing terror to the civilian population. I hereby commend your soul to God" Here he nodded to the sergeant gave the orders to "Ready, Aim, Fire!"
The guns went off, the smoke briefly obscured the bounty jumper. His corpse hung from the tree. Captain Buchhalter went up to the corpse, as did the old man and Fatima. Fatima was still showing the bruises from his attack. Fatima spit on the corpse and walked off. The old man called over to a couple slaves, who came and cut him down and put him in the coffin. The crowd dispersed, the parties were dismissed, and Captain Buchhalter sat down heavily on his chair, feeling angry and unsatisfied.
Cassandra brought the mail to the captain. She had a thick package with the rest of the mail.
"What are you reading" she asked.
"Something that has caused an uproar over in England called 'Origin of Species' I haven't read very far into it."
Ezekiel asked suspiciously "That the book by that Darwin Guy? That says we are descended from monkeys?"
"People have made that claim. Like I said, I haven't read all that far into it. From what I understand that isn't the main part of his argument. Mostly what he is writing about now is the ideas of a french gentleman named Lamarck. He doesn't think much of Lamarck's ideas. "
"You realize that if you free the negro, you are going to have all kinds of evils follow from it as night follows day. You are going to have negros sleeping with white women!"
"As opposed to white men sleeping with black women?"
"It might lead to giving women the vote!"
"I would be fine with that, if it means women like Cassandra here voting in preference to men like Wilson."
"Exactly, giving votes to slaves like Cassandra!"
"A positive in my book."
"And that would mean labor unions! And people working no more than ten hours a day, or more than six days per week."
"My father already calls ten hours a full working day, and he considers a working week to be no more 60 hours per week. He considers working men on Sunday to be sinful. His hospital he has the nurses working 40 hours a week, because they sometimes work on Sunday."
"He has a hospital?"
"He regards free or reduced priced heath care part of the workers wages. If a worker gets hurt on the job, he pays no more than $5 to the doctor, and the first week of a hospital stay are free."
"Well, I know these anti slavery idiots have all kinds of crazy ideas they want to try out, votes for women, prohibition, labor unions, the eight hour day, all kinds of silly ideas. You give into these evil people who want to end slavery, you will have all kinds of evil ideas like free love and prohibition and... "
"Free love and prohibition are not ideas that the same people share. And votes for women doesn't lead to prohibition. Maine has prohibition, and they don't have votes for women. I am pretty sure after Maine's experience, prohibition will go away as a silly experiment. You can't say that ending slavery will have all kinds of crazy things happening like sex between the races. I think you will see less of it with the planter class no longer having free access to black women any time they want. Romantic love occurs with people of similar appearance. I am sure with the end of rape and the preservation of romantic love we will see the separation of the races being more pronounced, rather than this crazy mixing that you are so concerned about."
"Well, just you wait! They're going to give women the vote next. The arguments are the same as giving the blacks the vote."
Captain Buchhalter sighed with frustration. "No one is talking of giving the vote to the former slaves. That would be silly. And giving votes to women is also silly. There are a few lame brains out there who thing giving votes to women is a good idea, probably everyone who thinks it a good idea could fit in a 10 X 10 room with a lot of space left over."
"Just you wait. People with crazy ideas will always have another for their utopia."
"Sure, sure. 100 years from now people will be talking about trips to the moon and they will have airships that can fly you to New York, London, or Moscow in a few hours. You are full of strange notions."
had noticed that Cassandra had the plantation humming with efficiency. She was only a slave, but she had arrogated to herself more authority than was held by any of the overseers. Forms were filled out neatly, work schedules were made so everyone was at peak efficiency, for a plantation. Back home in Minnesota things would be considered slipshod and an enormous amount of time was wasted, but none of the wasted time could be laid at her feet.
She had a great deal of free time too, as did Captain Buchhalter. He began spending his free time in the office. He brought his artillery texts there and they worked the problems in the texts. They were beginning calculus with vectors and finding areas of arcs. Sometimes he was the first with a solution, but as time passed, she was beating him to a solution more and more frequently.
Some days he didn't feel like working artillery problems. He would sit with a group of like minded soldiers and make music. He had a clarinet, the buglers would play, two of the lieutenants had fiddles. Cassandra would come out to the grove where they made music and just enjoy it.
There were days where he drilled the various commands. Every morning he would drill the soldiers relentlessly. She would come and watch that too. Preened when she came, and led the men on every fancy evolution.
There were days when she had hectic times too. She had no time for him then. He felt somewhat upset by that.
There were days where they just sat and conversed. He told of his father's railroad and iron mines and timber lands and sawmills. .......
Captain Buchhalter took over the telegrapher's job. Because they were in a backwater of the war they got very few telegrams. The dead telegrapher wasn't replaced because there were other, more vital, places to send them.
He was sending his routine telegrams for the week, mostly just re assuring the telegraph system that the system worked, when Cassandra came to the tent with the daily litany of complaints. He finished transmitting and prepared to listen.
She started off with the list of eggs and chickens that had been appropriated, as usual giving extravagant prices for them. Captain Buchhalter said "Enough! we go through this every week. I am willing to authorize payment for ten chickens a week. We will put men on the wheel if he catches them red handed, but otherwise, forget it. Let me see the list of depredations. "
She gave him the list and asked "How do you keep what goes across the wires secret?"
"We have a cypher. It seems remarkably strong."
"What is it like?"
He reached into his pocket and took out a twenty dollar gold piece. "This should cover the depredations for the week. I have signed for them. "
He put on a mock serious expression "You aren't a confederate spy. Are you?"
She laughed. "Not hardly. I don't think the old man knows this thing is here anymore. "
"It is a remarkably simple system at base, but it is complicated in its execution. It is in two parts, common nouns like the names of generals, colonels, rivers, cities have other words replacing them. And the nouns that are used a lot have two or three alternate names which you are supposed to use them interchangeably. The Mississippi is variously the Yellow, the Nile, and Yangtsee. The Tennessee is the Pechora and the Lena. The Cumberland is Seine, Tiber, and Amazon. The Ohio is the Danube, the Volga and the Rhone. General Grant is Alqi, Butler is Cpunz, Sherman is Mcnaughten, Bragg is Kindness, Pemberton is reg41."
"Don't they know they know about their names?"
"Theoretically they don't. Stanton would have their heads if they interfered with the cypher, so they keep quiet. They don't need to know, so they don't"
He lapsed into didactic mode, which always amused her. His Saxon accent became more pronounced "The next part is where it becomes fiendishly complicated. It is called The Route. Every week they change this at 4:00 sunday morning. When you prepare a message you write it on a grid of between 8 and 12 letters. Then you follow the route when you write the message. For example, I would send a message that general Butler is going to go to Baton Rouge on the Missippi and attack general Bragg, I would send the message 'cpuns going to attack kindness at sticks using yangtsee. I will show you. This route is a very simple one, we just start in the upper right using a 10X5 grid, we go down one column, up the next, and down the next. Or we can start in the bottom right and we go up each column. Or we could start in the lower left, and then go to the upper tight, and then alternating toward the center. Now my code is done, like so..... I will have a few random letters to fill in the rest of the grid, and voila, an incomprehensible message that the confederates will tear their hair out trying to figure out. "
She looked at the message "ystskekatc,wegucsktagp,penwisitnu,aqaitadai,qzygstncog. That looks miserable."
"They change the route weekly. This will prevent the confederates ever getting translated in time to do anything about it."
"Your men are interfering with my slaves again"
Captain Buchhalter looked up at the incandescent planter. "What is it this time"
"Sergeant Haferbrot has taken Zaynab and refuses to let Wilson sleep with her. You realize that is one of the perks the overseers get. "
Captain Buchhalter turned to his orderly. "Bring Sergeant Haferbrot and Zaynab here will you?" He turned to the planter. "Zaynab is too young for that, surely?"
The planter shrugged. "She is Twelve. I bet Sergeant Haferbrot plans to sleep with her as well."
Captain Buchhalter shook his head. "Twelve"
Sergeant Haferbrot came to Captain Buchhalters tent and saluted. He was already grey at 50. Following him was a slight extremely dark young girl. She was mostly flat.
"At ease, Sergeant. What do I hear of you interfering with this mans property?"
"Last week you this man Wilson was a horse was being cruel to and you him stopped . I unnecessarily cruel to his property could stop."
Captain Buchhalter said, in Saxon German, "Try that again in German. Your english is barbaric"
Sergeant Haferbrot said in Konnigsburg Prussian "Last week you stopped this evil disgusting worthless piece of shit from being cruel to the planter's horse. If you can stop him from being cruel to a horse, I can prevent him from being cruel to this girl."
Captain Buchhalter said "He has a point. I stopped this man" pointing at Wilson "being cruel to a horse. So he can stop Wilson being cruel to this young girl. You saw me interfering with his cruelty toward your horse, and you commended me for that, so he feels you should commend him for taking care of the girl."
"So he wants her virginity?"
Captain Buchhalter said in german "You plan on sleeping with her yourself? "
Sergeant Haferbrot said "She is flat as a Junkers estate. She is practically a little boy. I prefer them to have something I can hold on to."
"He said she is too young. And I agree."
The Sergeant said "I would prefer that she not be anyplace where Wilson can get at her. He is a cruel monster. Perhaps I could rent her? She would be a good laundress. Maybe even a decent cook."
"He is willing to pay rent for her of $4 a month. I would take that offer if I were you"
Cassandra said "That values her at $430. Her virginity is worth half that. That is far more than you could get for her any other place. The market price for slaves is dropping like a rock. "
"I am paying for her virginity? No!"
"You pay for it, or Wilson gets it for free."
"She is so small and I wouldn't have it for years. If I wanted it, which I don't. I don't want to sleep with her, I just don't want her hurt. She is black and ugly and and..."
"You want to preserve her from hurt, you pay $4 a month. Otherwise, she goes to Wilson."
Sergeant Haferbrot reached into his wallet and dug out two $5 gold pieces, and two silver dollars and passed them to the planter. "Agreed? Three months?"
The planter stood there with the money in his hand. Cassandra said "That is far more than she is worth. She is not a good worker." Sergeant Haferbrot turned to Zaynab and told her "Koman sie hie" and grabbed her by the hand and took her away. Zaynab said as they left "I am so a good worker!" as she trotted behind him.
Wilson hissed "You are going to let that yankee going to get that girl, and I wont? That is unfair and unchristian. That is part of my wages, getting the girls."
Ezekiel sighed. "What can I do? "
Captain Buchhalter asked "You think preventing you from raping a twelve year old girl is unchristian? You seem to have a different view of christian kindness than I was raised with."
Wilson said "I have had it with your pulsinamity I quit." He raged out of the tent.
Ezekiel watched him go. "That went far better than I thought. I was planning on letting him go at the end of the month. " He turneed in disgust to Captain Buchhalter. "You really should help me keep my hands. They keep running off and you don't do a thing to stop it."
"I have more important things to do than chase after them. Besides, it is the job of the Marshall. You need to talk to him. We have to fight a war. We don't deal with trivia"
Captain Buchhalter and Cassandra were a long ways off from the rest of the lean tos, but still visible. Cassandra was practicing the fiddle, still very new to her, and the sounds coming from it sounded as if the cat gut bow was still the dieing cat in really horrible misery. Major Wilkins trotted up to them. Captain Buchhalter Stood up and saluted. He was very surprised, as this was the first time that Major Wilkins had bothered his command in six months.
"Have your men prepare for inspection tomorrow morning. Afterwards, there will be a pay parade. You will be responsible for all my command being ready tomorrow at 9:30. You will get the men ready for departure by Thursday to Port Gibson." He then trotted off toward New Orleans.
"That ends the lesson today, I guess."
"Shall I tell the other captains to meet you at the office?"
"Not at the office... but if you could get them to come to my tent in 20 minutes, that would be a huge help."
"I couldn't get them in 20 minutes. More like two hours. They scatter after morning drill."
"Two hours then. Get all the lieutenants to come too. Pass the word to any sergeants you can find there will be an inspection and pay parade. Make sure that they know if any soldier misses inspection and pay parade, they are out of luck getting paid for another six months." They walked off together toward the lean tos. "Another thing, make sure the bounty jumpers have four men surrounding them, and when the pay parade is over, have them tied to the guns until I talk to them."
"I Want to buy Cassie."
Ezekiel looked up "Why?"
"I have orders here to move to Port Hudson, and I want her to come with me. I realize Mr Lincoln's proclamation doesn't cover her. I could just have her come with me, but that would be theft. And I realize she is in no way contraband."
Ezekiel leaned back. "She has all kinds of funny ideas. If you take her to Port Hudson, she becomes free. And she may just decide that she is totally free and choose to be with someone else. She was telling me just the other day that she thought women should have the vote. You don't want a woman with all these crazy notions."
"Maybe so, but I want that woman."
"Women are fickle. She may not want you."
"A chance I will have to take."
"I don't want to sell her... "
"You really have no choice. You have to pay the taxes that are due. I would prefer to buy from you than buy her at auction."
Ezekiel scratched his head. "And it goes without saying I would prefer not to have my goods go to auction. That would he horrible." He looked out the window. "So many have walked off. All I have now are the unattached women. And they aren't profitable."
"Come now, making cloth is far more profitable than growing sugarcane."
"When I could make the fancy cloth and I had the indigo. But the men who made the warps got called up and sent to Virginia. Making the warps was a very specialized skill. I can make only very simple weaves now.... " He was silent for a while.
"I have a banker's draft for $200, and I will cover all the costs of the sale, the title and so on. You aren't going to get a better deal."
"She won't enjoy being sold for $200."
"$200 is the time value of money. She would understand that. General Banks has a new constitution for Louisiana. $200 becomes Zero in a few months."
"You drive a hard bargain." He opened a drawer and got out the bill of sale and transfer of title forms. He went over to anther cabinet and got out the title for Cassandra. "You said you will cover all the expenses of sale?"
"Yes. The sooner you do the paperwork the sooner we will be gone. General Banks wants us on the steamboat by Thursday."
"Now about Zaynab." said Ezekiel as he leaned back. "I assume she is still a virgin from what I can from what sergeant Haferbrot has said. She has proven to be a good worker in your lines too. And she has grown up a lot. She is no longer as flat as a board. She is worth a great deal more than she was just two months ago"
"Sergeant Haferbrot has paid up for three months. He can do what he wants with her till those three months are up."
"Including taking her to Port Gibson?"
Captain Buchhalter shrugged "If that is what he wants. He may leave her here. He may take her to Port Gibson or Timbuktu. He has the rental of her for that period of time. He can do what he wants with her. "
"I so much hate you yankees and your sharp practice."
Cassandra felt exhilarated and annoyed at the same time. She was a good horsewoman, her father's indulgence saw to that. She was riding a beautiful mare that was a joy to ride. At the same time, slaves didn't ride horses. But her new owner was ignorant of master slave relations. Having her ride next to him was another thing that DID NOT HAPPEN. She remembered walking barefoot from St Louis. This was infinitely better. They came to a small town where a halt was ordered. Wonder of wonders, Captain Buchhalter held the horse still while she got down. She could get used to this.
He led her to a tree, and had her sit down, while he got his map out and began studying it. He sat next to her. He looked very pleased about something. "We are in Pointe Coupee county." He waved his arm around. "This is still an area in rebellion according to mr Lincoln"
She looked at him expectantly. "You are a free woman now! Once you crossed the county line back there a bit, you no longer had to listen to anybody with a whip, and the full military strength of the United States will make it so."
She wondered if he were that much of a fool. No, he wasn't stupid. He could do fancy calculus problems from his textbooks in a flash. He was obviously a very competent soldier, but he seemed to expected her to dance for joy. Here she was in the middle of thousands of soldiers and she didn't have a penny and he was telling her she was free. Free to do what, precisely? She sensed that he wanted her to thank him, so she did. She tried to make it fulsome. He seemed to be offended at her lack of enthusiasm.
"I am sorry" she tried to make it in expiation. "It has been a long day and we have had a long march since breakfast. The happiest day in my life also finds me tired."
With that, he seemed to be satisfied. He went to his horse and got some hard tack out of the haversack, which he shared with her, still please at the wonderful boon he had granted her. She thought what she would be eating right now at the indigo plantation. Corn bread, some fried chicken. Some raspberries.. She sighed.
They came up to the construction bosses office. "We are going to have to have him build some revetments under fire. I hope he is up for it." Captain Buchhalter knocked and entered. Behind the desk was a 55 year old black man. Cassandra squealed "Cicero! Look at you!"
Cicero said with mock dignity "That is first sergeant Marcus T Cicero!" Then he unbent and shook her hands. "You look lovely Cassie! What are you doing?"
"I am this officer's camp follower. Laundress, secretary, you name it. But look at you! First Sergeant! And you have an office."
"It isn't my office, but I am the only person who sits on it. It properly belongs to a major, but he is is either drunk or drinking, so I do everything for him. The colonel doesn't care who does it, as long as it gets done. And I want it done more than the colonel." he registered the presence of Captain Buchhalter. "How may I help you?"
"I have some heavy artillery that needs to have some revetments built with embrasures. They will need to be built under fire. We will need gabions built and some trenches dug. General Banks wants the attack to take place on the northeast side of the siege works here." Captain Buchhalter unrolled a map. "He wants to have the attacking force to have the flattest approach. This appears to be the easiest path for the attacking force. "
"I have the gabions all made up. I have soldiers make them up when they aren't doing anything else. How many do you need?"
"I honestly don't know. I have never built them around a heavy artillery battery before. How big are the gabions?"
"Depends... but usually around 18" wide by 6' tall. They are pretty light until you fill them with soil. We will take a bunch extra. how many guns in the battery? Three? I will have a crew of 30 go with you and the guns. When will you need them?"
"As soon as possible, but the guns move very slowly, they are pulled by oxen. I am going to start as soon as I leave you, so if you could have your men catch up to my command I would be most satisfied."
"I will have them start in the next couple of hours. I will have them take a map, so they should be at your position and looking for the best place for your guns the day before you. That work for you?"
"Excellent. Come along Cassandra"
She rolled her eyes. "Freedom!" She waved as she left behind the captain.
"I like the army a lot better. The discipline is less harsh and I get paid"
"You get paid? How often?"
"I have to admit it is pretty irregular. General Banks has pay parades more often than General Butler did. The last time we got paid it was for four months, which for this army practically means on time"
"Captain Buchhalter's men got paid for six months, which meant they were only one month overdue when we left for Port Gibson."
"The pay is getting better. It is handled separately from the commands, which means there is room for tons, I mean tons of confusion. "
"So, $21 a month..."
"$17 for a black sergeant major. They don't pay white wages. Which is sort of fair, as they don't want us to have guns."
"You still get shot at the same way."
"I honestly don't care that I am getting less. I am getting paid. " He smiled "And what I am doing is getting lots of confederates dead. I am willing to pay them for the privilege. Any money I get is just so much gravy."
"I thought you liked working for the old man."
"He was better than the commonality of owners. He still was a mean old bastard. He had us working sugar cane and indigo. And he had Wilson as the indigo plants overseer. Speaking of owners..."
"Don't call him that. Captain Buchhalter truly believes he has set me free"
"I am teasing. He likes you. Why do you call yourself 'camp follower' instead of fiancee?"
"How free am I if I go to his bed from Wilson's? And I don't know, I just don't know how I feel about him. He confuses me. He isn't human sometimes. He is like a slightly off kilter machine." She paused for a moment. "He plays the clarinet. The way he plays.... My father took me to St Louis one time where we saw this mechanical piano. "
"A mechanical piano! what will they think of next!"
"It was an amazing machine, it had a drum and a cymbal attached to it. The way it worked was it had the music on rollers, sort of like the fancy looms at the old mans's place. It had holes on the rolls that told which keys to depress You pushed the pedals and the rollers turned, which depressed the keys . It was amazing. That piano had the most lively way of playing. Captain Buchhalter plays like a machine, that machine was far far more alive a musician than Captain Buchhalter."
"Come now, he isn't that bad."
"Sometimes he is worse."
Captain Buchhalter walked through the hospital tent holding the confederate wounded. Cassandra followed behind with the list of those being paroled checking them off as Captain Buchhalter called their names as he went though the tent. He called a name and looked at the prisoner.
"Well well! David my boy. Caught again. Though this time you won't run so fast or so far." He sat down on Davids cot. He asked Cassandra "What is the nature of his wound?"
She looked at the list. "Amputation below the knee, right leg."
Captain Buchhalter looked at David sourly. David looked defiant. Captain Buchhalter addressed Cassandra "He doesn't get paroled. I am going to send him home. Again." He turned to David. "Your parents need you. Hezikiya is wrecked on laudnum. He insists his right arm gives him the most intense pain. But he doesn't have a right arm. They haven't heard from Ezra since Antietam. Your sister Ruth had to move back because her husband was killed and their farm was filled with trenches from both sides. Wilson and Carson quit. They really shouldn't loose another son to this stupidity. They need you. They might loose the plantation without you."
"Wilson and Carson died heroes deaths! I am going to do my part to insure we are free from the thrall of yankeedom and their black loving ways"
"Black loving ways. That is rich. Wilson slept with every slave of whatever sex or age he could get his hands on."
"He couldn't get her, that made him mad. " He gestured toward Cassandra " Then you said he couldn't have Zaynab's virginity. That was cruel." The hatred radiated from him hot and oppressive.
Captain Buchhalter shook his head. "Where were we on the list for paroles?"
Cassandra pulled the water wagon up the hill to the battery position. She was so intent on getting the wagon up she didn't register that the battery was quiet. When she got there she recognized that the men at the guns were all wounded. Two bullets hitting near her got her attention. Diving behind a nearby caission she fell ito a mud puddle. Furious at the hidden marksmen shooting the men working the batteries. She looked for a way for revenge. She saw a charged rifle next to a dead confederate. She picked it up and aimed it at a confederate officer waving his plumed hat around and fired, hitting the hat two feet over his head above his head. Quickly several more men came up to the battery position, but given the heavey fire the all dove for cover. Hiding behind the caissons they began loading their weapons and began firing them at the confederates. Cassandra saw Captain Buchhalter's Colt revolver nearby, and grabbed it. She noticed it had been fired twice already.
The other batteries had the men hiding behind the caissons or stolidly preparing the cannons for firing.
After a few minutes a regiment got to the position and began firing. She saw a confederate, Major Droite, directing the sharpshooters. He saw her too, and recognised her. He spurred his horse and came charging at her. Cassandra hated the man for his delight in petty cruelties, and it was her intent to kill him for all the hurts he had inflicted, or die trying She cocked the Colt and shot at him, wildly. He was coming at her at her at 30 miles an hour. She cocked the revolver again, fired, and again she missed. She cocked the revolver again, and waited. She waited until he was four yards from her with his sword raised up for the kill when she shot him through the skull, and he dropped the reins and slowly fell off the back of his horse.
She sat down and breathed deeply. She heard union cheering and looked back at the line. The union regiment was chasing the retreating confederates. She stood up, and saw the horse about twenty feet away, went over to the horse and hopped on holding onto the Colt, her skirts bunched around her knees, She raced back to the battery. She saw that the battle line had moved 100 yards in the front. She hopped off the horse and headed to Captain Buchhalter. Seeing him bleeding from a wound in his leg she ripped some of the cloth of the hem of her dress and made a compress. She ripped some some more and that became the tie told the compress in place. She saw a dead confederate in front of the artillery gun, and she took his jacket off and began tearing it into strips and applying compresses to the wounds. Most of them had wounds to their legs, and none of the survivors could walk down the hill. Survivors that were awake began begging for water. She gave then some from the water wagon. Captain Buchhalter was quiet. Some stretcher men went up to the battery and began doing some first aid to the wounded nearby. She got the attention of one of the officers. After remonstrating with him she got them to carry the battery men to a nearby ambulance wagon. She watched the loading of the battery men, and when they were loaded she hopped back on the horse and rode behind the ambulance to the surgeons tent, where she waited for word about Captain Buchhalter.
She saw Zaynab hiding behind a mound of dirt and crying. Quickly she ran over to her. She saw Sergeant Haferbrot bleeding from a chest wound. She tore off another strip from her dress and made a compress, at the same time calling over the ambulance men. She tore a strip off of Zaynab's dress and tied it around his chest. The ambulance men quicklu picked him up and and put him in an ambulance.
The sergeant and the major were operated on in a tent near the battle line. Chloroform was at a premiom and was given sparingly.
Captain Buchhalter was brought out and put among the likely to live. He was asleep. Cassandra sat down near his head. He slept for 20 hours while she waited.
Zaynab waited while holding the hand of sergeant Haferbrot a little way off, with the men who were supposed to die.
He refused to.
The next day they were put in an ambulance and was taken down to a field where there were tents waiting for convalescents. She rode the horse she took from Major Droite, with the pistol in a holster on the saddle, as Captain Buchhalter jolted along in the ambulance. Zaynab walked a little ways off, near the sergeant's ambulance. The ride was a long one.
When he woke up he asked for water. "Where am I? He tried to rise up."
"Have some water. You are in the waiting area for convalescents. We are about a mile from the river. You lay down some more. You lost a lot of blood. Stay down, and I will get you some soup."
He collapsed, and closed his eyes. "Soup would be good. I am famished."
She stood up and went to the sutler providing stew and cornbread for outrageous prices. He also provided beer, very discreetly. She got a pair of dishes and went back to Captain Buchhalter.
When she got back he was lying there with his eyes open. He saw her coming with the stew. "Where did you get the money for the sutler?"
"From your pocketbook. "
You have all my money now?
No, I pay it back when you came out from your operation and the doctor said you would probably live She looked grumpy. "You made a big deal about my supposed freedom, but I am in an army where the only safety I have is you, and I have no money." She pointed her spoon at him. "I am much your slave now as I was on the indigo plantation. My position is scarier, because you might die on me."
He sat and ate for a while. "You can't leave? You want to go back to New Orleans? I can have someone escort you."
She gave him a pitying look. "With no money?"
"You will have money. Laundry services four times a week at $1.50 times times five times a week is $30. You provided water for the the battery is 60¢ a day times five days is $3, plus nursing care at $3 a day is $9. Plus acting as my secretary. That would be a corporals pay, which $9 a month for six weeks. That would be $42. That get you a place to stay while you live in New Orleans?"
She looked at him. "I don't like charity. Laundry services is 60¢ a time anywhere in in this army where you have competent laundresses. 40¢ for incompetent. Nursing care is 75¢ a day. Now secretary would be a sergeants pay That would be $17 dollars a month. Besides, I want to go to St Louis, not New Orleans. Pay me when I earn it. Don't lie to me. "
He nodded. That is a good deal... Laundry at 70¢ cents a day because I am fussy. Sergeant's pay for secretarial work would be kind of steep, and that ended when I got shot. I can swing that. Nursing care at $1.35 a day any time I need help with the chamber pot, like right now, and you take charge of the money and write it all down in a notebook. Deal?
"What about meals at the sutlers?"
"You eat what I eat. Now can you help with the chamber pot? I need help real bad."
Three days later he managed to get to the latrine with her help once. Two days after that he was able to negotiate there with a crutch and left her to feed her horse. at the end of the day he reviewed her notebook and blanched at the rapid way his supply of money was going down. He had hard tack rather than sutler's meals, she had no choice, but ate very simply. Still, her meals at the sutler's were expensive.
After he could walk with crutches Cassandra began helping the other convalescents. She was a brusque no nonsense nurse, toward Captain Buchhalter most of all. Zaynab also acted as a nurse, and the men preferred her humorous and sweet ways to Cassandra and her no nonsense ways.
After two weeks the word came down that Vicksburg had surrendered. And five days later, so did Port Hudson.
The day before Vicksburg surrendered, two men with General Banks Adjutants office came to see Captain Buchhalter. Cassandra was taking care of her horse. She didn't interfere. When they saluted and left she came up to him. He grabbed her and hugged her. "Oh what a fabulous day! I have been made a major! I will get $169 a month. That is a raise of $53 a month!. And the promotion is back dated to June first."
"Put me down!" He released her. "I am very happy for you. But won't you get no money because you are wounded and out of action.?"
"Good question. I think if I am not disabled I get paid the same amount. I am on furlo, not totally disabled. "
"Sergeant, how are you doing?"
"Pretty well, pretty well. I got orders to go up to Ft Pillow. We are going to improve the fortifications there. We are going to make the Mississippi too hot for the rebels."
"You seem to be pleased."
"Anything to make for more dead confederates."
"When are you leaving?"
"Day after tomorrow."
They leaned on the parapet. She sighed. "I am going to stay with Major Buchhalter. He is going home for a couple months to recuperate."
"Good plan. He is good for you. You should grab him. He wants you."
"Really? I am not so sure."
"Really. I don't know what your problem is."
"Wilson, and Dan, and Howard. I want him, and yet contemplating the act disgusts me. I keep seeing Wilson, and I want nothing to do with any man. What about you? Did you have a woman?"
"Ah, that brings up memories. I had the best woman. I had the finest woman. She was..." He stood there in contemplation.
"Well, what happened to her?"
"She got sold and moved to Texas."
They stood quietly for a bit. She asked "Doesn't it bother you that they won't let you be an officer?"
"Baby steps. You keep your eyes on what you can achieve, and don't worry about prizes you can't ever get. And when it comes to prizes, I am further along than I ever dreamed possible. We have done so much, and we can do so much more by getting incremental steps. Trying to get impossible steps now means we won't get anything. Getting incremental steps means that yesterday's impossible becomes today's everyday. "
"You think they will let us up ever?"
"That is why education is so important. You and I are where we are because we learned to read and write and figure. Don't you forget that. The bastards who want to keep us down tried to make teaching us illegal. They will try and keep us ignorant. Ignorance is the one true badge of slave, not the color of our skin. They ever get schools that don't teach they will keep us down on the plantation."
"They kept us down despite our learning."
"Did they really? I was more important to the operation of the plantation than the old man, Dan, Howard or Wilson. They knew it too."
"They still kept us."
"Kept, not Keeping. And I am sure you were more important than any of them."
She laughed. "He told Wilson leave me alone. I remember what he told him." She did a deep falsetto "I paid 345 for her, I got a bargain. I got you for free, you are too expensive"
"There you go!"
"But still he could have sold me any time. He did sell me."
"That bothers you, that the Major bought you?"
She nodded "For some reason it does. Of course, if he didn't buy me, I would still be chained there, and he feels like he did me a favor when he marched me into free territory."
"Well, did he do you a favor, or not? He gives you a wage. And he has said that you can go any time you want. So why don't you?"
"A single woman in the middle of a war zone? How free am I "
"You are as free as you are willing to be."
A week after Port Hudson surrendered, he was feeling good enough that he could walk up the gangplank to a river steamer with his cane. he had to rest for a long while after walking so far. Cassandra followed him up, and so did her horse. Regulations said nothing doing to her riding the steamship or taking the horse, but she ignored the regulations.
Zaynab accompanied Sergeant Haferbrot's stretcher. She wasn't supposed to be on the ambulance steamer either. The Sergeant's color was gradually coming back, and he was breathing more easily. The doctor who had let him on the steamer told Captain Buchhalter that he would likely die somewhere, but he hasn't died yet. Zaynab looking after him was keeping him going.
Cassandra was with the major at the docks supervising getting all the soldiers off the boat. Getting all the wounded men off was troublesome, as most of them needed ambulances. The major no longer needed crutches, he was using a cane, but he was tetchy because of the pain. She heard a familiar, almost forgotten voice, calling her name.
Calling her from across another steamer was a man with a small beard. Another was waving at her. The younger one was so familiar... then it struck her. They were Julius and Augustus, her brothers. They were wearing blue uniforms. She started running toward them
"well well, look at you!" She said. "What are you doing?"
"Herding bounty jumpers. We have to have eyes on all four sides of our head with this lot" said Augustus. He was wearing sergeant's stripes, Julius, the younger, had corporal's stripes on his sleeves. Julius just smiled. "What about you?"
"I am just a camp follower.."
"Fiance" said the major following Cassandra
"Camp follower" repeated Cassandra "Of this very nice and kind officer."
"Cassie has always one for getting an idea in her head and no amount of gunpowder on earth can shifting her" said Julius.
The Major looked inquiringly at the soldiers. "These are my Brothers Gus" indicating the sergeant "And Julius" indicating the corporal. "They are on Bounty Jumper duty." She indicated the men under guard on the boat they were standing next to. "This is major Buchhalter."
Julius suddenly raised his pistol and shot into the water an inch away from a bounty jumper who was getting too close to the gunwales of the ship. The bounty jumper skittered back.
"I am sorry we can't stand and talk Cassie. We have to get this lot to General Thomas. It is nice to see you. Do you have an address we can write to?"
"I would love that. Major?" The Major handed wrote his address in Minnesota on a notebook twice and handed it to the brothers. Augustus wrote his command on a notebook paper and gave it to Cassandra.
The major moved away. Augustus asked with a quiet voice "Do you know what happend to mom?"
"We got sold. I don't know what happened to mom after that. I got sold down the river. The major bought me. He says I am free as a bird now, but as a sigle woman with no family I am pretty much free as a canary. He treats me decent. Far more decently than the woman who owned me here in St Louis was treated by her husband. But still..."
"He seems to like you a lot" said Julius.
"We get to his home town, that will change"
The steam whistle on the boat went off. "You have to go now. But write" said Augustus.
"I will!" She hopped off the boat as the wheel began turning.
She moved back to the ship they had come up on. All the convalescents were loaded on ambulances. She looked around for the major, and saw him on the lead ambulance. Her horse was tied up to the lead ambulance and the sadle was already on him. She quickly untied him and hopped on the horse. The major said someting to the ambulance driver and they began to move and she followed.
Cassandra and the Major walked into the office dealing with bills of sale and titles.
The clerk looked at the entry, then went over to a filing cabinet and extracted a copy of the title document. He came back to the major and showed him the the document.
"Frank Tomkins is a dealer. He most likely sold her down there, but your best bet is to go down to Memphis and look him up down there. But the records there might be lost, as there was a fire when the yankees took the place. I think Tomkins himself died at Shilo, from what I heard. I don't rightly know. He hasn't been in St Louis since Tennessee succeeded."
"You can go wherever you want. You can go to Oregon, or San Francisco, or Ottawa, or wherever."
"I think I would like to visit Minnesota. I will go with Sergeant Hoferbrot and Zaynab. She is just thirteen."
"She is calling herself Hilda Koenigsberg now."
"Good choice. The old man gave his slaves horrible names. What does Koenigsberg mean?"
She led her horse onto the boat and tied her up with the other horses. She came back to him as he was leaning on the rail. "Is Annandale on the river?"
"It about 20 miles west. There is a small railroad that my father owns an interest in from Montecello."
"He owns a railroad?"
"Part interest. He has quite a few part interests in Annandale. He has interests in a elevator in Montecello, and a lumber operation. He has thumbs in a dozen pies, but he doesn't own a whole pie in anything. "
The whistle went off and a bunch of men grabbed the boards that went from the steamship to the pier. Men undid the ropes that attached the ship to the pier and threw them to the waiting men on the pier. The wheel began turning slowly as the steamship backed into the, river, then it began going forward slowly at first, them going faster as the steamship got further into the river. She turned and looked at the wounded men littering the deck. "What is going to to happen to them."
"Some will get better and go back to their units, like I will. Some will get pensions."
"$8 a month and they will starve to death. Something ought to be done more than that."
He shrugged. "There are jobs they can do that don't require men to have two arms or two legs. There are jobs of all kinds."
She looked at him steadily. "Jobs for partial men? This is a horrible war."
"Don't look at me, look at the idiots who started it. As for the jobs for partial men, my father has several. Men who smash a leg or cut an arm in the forest or in the lumber mills , the mills have several positions for partial men. They are the lucky ones. " He got a bitter expression "Men like Ruffin, Davis, Benjamin or Bragg, they will probably live to an old age. All the youngsters we buried, they should have."
Hilda (Formerly Zaynab) and Cassandra helped the wounded into the train cars. Most of them just needed a help up the stairs, but a few needed more assistance. Major Buchhalter stood at the bottom of the stairs watching the men get on while leaning on his cane. He was the last soldier to get on, helped by Cassandra while Hilda watched from the car. Finally Cassandra got on and helped him to his seat. She sat next to him while Hilda sat across the aisle. Hilda nodded at Sergeant Hoferbrot and said "He still don't like me none, but he is unfailingly polite. I would prefer him rude, but liking me, I think."
"No, you really wouldn't. He can be a real monster when he is angry. He is a real horror to fresh recruits. "
"Now, I didn't mean rude like he is to the recruits. I have no idea what he was saying to folks he was mad at, but even so, it could take the paint offen em at 20 paces."
"You really don't want a Prussian officer yelling at you. And he has a really amazing line of invective."
"Well, still... He rented me from the old man and he paid me handsome wages. I just wish he liked me. Of course, he dislikes Lieutenant Zimmerman more."
"Zimmerman butchers english at a higher level, so he got promoted. And Zimmerman is Jewish. Two reasons he has problems with him. "
"I am not jewish, and I don't rank him."
"He has reasons to dislike you which are identical."
"Well, I am grateful to him. I am going to have to find me a job where I don't have to deal with him no more. I figure getting him home gets him and me quits on the gratitude deal."
"Which goes for you to young lady. I wonder what you would do for a position?"
"The same thing I have been doing. Secretary and laundress and whatever, but not that. I want to see you healthy, then I want to go to Memphis."
"Oh ho! You like me after all!"
"I like you the same way Zimmerman likes you. You are a fine officer, pleasant to serve with. But that is the end of it. Zimmerman wants to see you healthy too. He doesn't want ' to sleep with you either."
"When we get home there is no secretarial work, and we have an irishwoman who does our laundry I would think being my wife would be a really good job for you."
Cassandra shook with distate. "No, wife is a job I would detest. I will look for another job. There are things that I can do."
He looked at her for a bit, then leaned back. "Talk to my father. He is proud of the hospital he built. I will have Hilda talk to him too." Then he stood up and walked down the carriage to lieutenant Zimmerman, sat down,and quietly talked with him for a moment. Then he closed his eyes a rested.
Cassandra sat for a moment, offended. Hilda smiled sardonically "Love birds have a quarrel?"
Cassandra leaned back in a huff. "Certainly not! I am a free woman now. I will do as I please." She leaned back and closed her eyes. She opened one to see what he was doing. She saw Hilda smiling at her. He closed her eyes again. "Humph!"
After a short while the train came to a stop. Hilda and Cassandra went quickly down the stairs to assist the men to the platform. The platform was crowded with family of the wounded soldiers. Hilda was surprised by a girl her own age who was helping Sergeant Hoferbrodt. The sergeant introdced Hilda to his 12 year old daughter.
Cassandra didn't see Major Buchhalter get off the train as she was helping the soldiers off. She just noticed him getting on a carriage, which drove off. She was shocked at this when an older version on him came up to her. "Zo! You are the ladies from der farm where he was staying?"
Hilda replied "Sure, we were the servants there."
"Very well ladies. Ve will go to your quarters. It is but a step."
Hilda and Cassandra looked at the clinic old man Buchhalter had established. It was three wards with 10 cots in each ward. There was a carpentry shop that made prosthesis, an operating room, a delivery room for women patients, a small women's ward with four cots, an office for the doctor who came by every week, and a small group of rooms for the nursing staff. "Working the lumber camps is very dangeros, as much as I try to make it safe. And there are strange ailments that strike the men who work the elevator. I try to restrict the men to eight hours a day in the elevator, but it is hard. We try to make the railroad work as safe as possible, but as you see, there are dangers. I added another ward when Otto said he was bringing the wounded home. This hospital is a busy place."
He opened the door to one of the nurses' quarters. "This would be your room Hilda. It has a small window, it has running water, a nice bed, and a wordrobe. You both would be getting 85¢ an eight hour day and this. Otto has told me of your attention to detail."
"You would be expected to change the bed linen every Saturday, change the patient's linen on Tuesday and friday, wash the floor daily, do the bedpans, do the washing on monday and so on. If you write any letters you would get an additional 30¢ a page. You will work with the four other nurses."
From the hospital they walked over to the school. "You will be teaching here starting in September Cassie."
Cassie shook her head. "I need to get back down to Memphis. I am looking for my mother who got lost when the war started. I want to find her."
"The war is making everything confusing and unsettled. I would wish you would stay here till things settle down."
"I know it sounds foolish. If someone was telling me that they wanted to gallivant through the most dangerous part of the war zone on what seems to be a foolish wild goose chase I would laugh her to scorn. I would tell her that it is almost suicidal to go there. But I would know she has to go, as I have to go and find her. I am hoping that things will be better in a couple months, but I have to go."
He raised his hands "You must go, then go. But do stay here for a while. The soldiers need your care as they convalesce. Minnie balls cause horrible damage. You will stay at least until September, I hope."
She nodded. "I need to earn a bit of cash for the trip."
They found the building where Frank Thomas and Co formerly had its quarters. It was in Three buildings knocked together, with iron bars on all the window. The buildings were for sale by Jonathan Seems, trustee, so they looked for him next. His office was on Beale st, three blocks away.
Jonathan Seems was a corpulent lawyer who kept them waiting for two days. When he agreed to meet them he only gave them 10 minutes. "You want to know what happened to a slave that went through his hands in February 1860? You aren't asking for much, are you. " He went into another room and came out with a large ledger. "Lets see, purchases in February 1860, a busy time. What was her name?"
"Drusillia. She would have been 47. She was blond."
"Here she is. She was sold on December 10 for $390 to Seth Adams of Murfreesboro Tennessee."
"Thank you kindly. Here is $5 for your trouble."
Seems grunted. "You interested in the property?"
"I'm afraid not."
They left Seems' office and walked down to the waterfront. "They had a battle there. She probably isn't there anymore" major Buchhalter said.
"I still want to see if she is there. I have to admit I won't know where to begin."
"Well, that is where General Rosecrans is, so we can go there together. I don't know what you plan on doing once we get there."
"Same as always. You have been a huge help to me. I will help you as far as can."
He nodded. "I figure we can get an Ohio boat and go to Paducah, then we can take trains to Murfreesboro. I need to get to my command as soon as possible. "
Leaving major Buchhalter at the adjutants tent Cassandra walked the short distance to the Sanitary Commission's long building. She wondered if they would allow her to work with them. She wondered how her experiences would sound to the women who ran the place. Schoolteacher to black children, domestic slave, accounting slave for a large plantation, camp follower.... She would have to keep quiet about most of her experience.
She went in and looked for someone in authority she could talk to about a job. There were quite a few women bustling about, but no one struck her as someone she should talk to. She stood nervously, looking anxiously. She looked down the long hallway and saw a woman coming out carrying chamberpots. She found the shock of recognition. "Mom!"
The woman with the Chamberpots looked at her owlishly, then a smile crossed her face. "Cassie! As I live and breathe! Where did you spring from!"
"What are you doing carrying chamberpots! Are you still...."
Drusillia put her finger near her lips. "Shhhush girl. Let me get rid of these and then we can talk." They went out a door to a trough, where Drusillia washed out the chamberpots with Cassandra assisting. "There are so many of these things attached to the hospital. You get a bunch of boys together, they are bound to get trouble one way or another."
"How did you find each other?"
"I followed the trader, and I followed the man who bought her. After the sale, there was about $400 owing to me. I tried to buy her, but the man who bought her was a sadist. So I bought this small holding. He went off to fight at Shilo, and he never came back. The slaves all just wandered off. For a while there was no real government. Jayhawkers from both sides kept shooting at each other and the sheriff couldn't stop it. People fled from both sides. We just kept our heads down, and every so often I would buy more land at a pittance. I have more acres than I did at our old place in Missouri. I have more negros working it as sharecroppers."
"What about your wife?"
"I mean Mrs Harris that lived in the big house with you."
"I have no idea, and I don't want to know, and I could some how, I imagine, in a thousand thousand years care less about that horrible woman. I could call her a bitch, but Sally here is a grand bitch and is no way like that harridan."
"You know I found my brothers?"
"Did you? What are they doing?"
"They are both lieutenants in General Thomas' army."
"Are they interested in coming to work for me?"
"I don't know. I might guess so, but they have been living in Illinois for so long..."
"Don't tell father. He might have some sense of responsibility for the witch. But I met her on my trip to New Orleans. She was working as a servant for Hiram Johnson."
"You funning me girl?"
"As I live and breath, she was working at providing food to the slaves. Isn't that rich?
They laughed together.
"I haven't laughed so hard. You are serious? That is so so so delightful. What is with you and major Buchhalter?"
"I am his camp follower. Where he goes, I go."
"He won't marry you? Why bother?"
"I won't marry him. Marriage means sex, which I hate."
You hate sex! You are missing out girl!
"No I am not. I got sold to a man so disgusting I wake up in terrors. After that the overseer at the plantation just liked hurting me, he didn't want orgasim, he wanted pain and blood and humiliation. Both my my first owner and the overseer wanted pain and humiliation."
"Doesn't major Buchhalter want sex?"
"He confuses me. I think he likes singing, doing math books, talking over books.. The man left a library of more than a hundred volumes when we left New Orleans... He at times is sexless, but he still looks at me like he wants to eat me alive too."
"So major Buchhalter asked you to marry him and you refused?"
"I really don't want sex."
"Oh girl! You are missing out. It is so delightful with the right man"
"You could never say no to father, could you"
"I didn't ever want to say no to your father. We fit together... well, that is neither here nor there. I bet your major Buchhalter would be as tender and ferocious as your father is. You shouldn't let monsters ruin your life."
"Whenever I think of it, I hurt."
"Why don't you let the good major show you a good time. He can be tender to you. I am ' sure he will take care of your needs. Just let him."
"I just don't know. He likes me, and I like him too, sometimes."
"He can be exasperating."
"Women and men are very different creatures. They have needs which only the other can satisfy, but neither of them can understand, or even sometimes tolerate the other. You are going to have to understand his foibles, and enjoy the good parts."
"He has foibles that drive me up the wall."
"Have you met anyone else that comes remotely close to making you happy? I know you enjoy some things he does. You like singing together, and making music together. You even like working his artillery books together where you solve math problems together. I am willing to wager you like organizing his command together. You have unusual tastes, he has unusual tastes. "
"His music is mechanical, mine flows like a mountain stream. He does the math problems like a Jacquard loom, I like to understanding the basis of the solution. We are totally different."
"Maybe you compliment each other. "
"He is one for compliments. But they sound so weird, so out of place, so contrived."/* She goes and collects him and a few other soldiers from Roseviille on the third day. She goes looking for him and finds him muddy and wounded in the lung. She collects several other soldiers and brings them back and calls a doctor to go to her house. */
Cassandra rode the buckboard her parents had loaned her across the pontoon bridge into Chattanooga. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon on Septemer 19, and she looked for a fathers house to stay at. The army had left Chattanooga a few days before, but the potatoes and carrots stacked high on the buckboard behind her would be great for stews for Major Buchhalter's command. Her parents called him her fiancee too. She got tired of correcting them.
It had been a long ride of 80 miles. She would catch up to the army tomorrow. Right now she wanted to get her vegetables and her in safe places.
Far off to the south was the rumle of thunder.... no, that was artillery. She smiled. She was sure the union army would give the rebeles a thorough thrashing. And the potatoes and carrots would make for a delicious stew for one majors command. But that could wait She had enough of tagging along with the army so close during a battle at Port Gibson, thank you very much She wondered if she could buy a rabbit for major Buchhalter's stew?. She would share it, and she liked rabbit. The thunder sounded a bit louder. She frowned at that.
She might allow the other majors in General Thomas's command have some too. There were lots. And she had to return the buckboard by the end of the week.
The roar of the cannons was more intense than she had ever heard before. She decided that probably she would stay at the house long while. It would be better if she got the contents of the buckboard into the basement. She worked long and hard at getting everything in. At the bottom of the carrots she found some bags of oats. Those would be useful too.
The next morning began quietly. She was thinking of continuing on tomorrow. After a battle there would be a need for fresh vegetables. Most everyone in town was attending chuch. She knew she should but there wasn't a Lutherin chuch in town. There was a far off rumbling, nothing very loud. Around noon provost guards began congregating around the depot, where trainloads of prisoners began arriving.
Around 2:00 things began to get worrisome. Ambulances began showing up, first one or two, then a constant stream. Then the walking wounded began showing up. More and more of them came as the afternoon advanced. By 4:00 there were wagons jam packed on main street trying to get on the bridge. Men were fighting to get in line, but there was only room for one wagon at a time.
After dark the first of Thomas' men began marching into Chattanooga. They were all dirty with gunpowder, but they marched steadily. After the first troops came in, a few ambulances came in. Cassandra looked briefly in the ambulances, but not with any fear. The first troops to come in were from General Baird's men. Not where Major Buchhalter would be. After them came General Brannon's men, followed by General Granger's odd command. Her brothers were with General Granger. Finally came General Reynolds. She looked to see if Major was at the guns, but there were no guns. The last ambulances came in, and she franticly began looking in them. She peered in the last ambulance, and there he was, with a wound high in his side. She went to the teamsters of the final ambulance. "Follow me, I have a house where they can stay."
She led the wagon to her house. She had the ambulance man take major Buchhalter to her bedroom, and had the rest of the wounded scattered across the house. The ambulance drivers thought the house could hold an infinite number of wounded, but she pleaded with them to stop when there were forty wounded men in the house. She resolutely insisted that only major Buchhalter was to sleep in her bedroom.
Coming downstairs She found a doctor there with a pair of orderlies. She insisted he look at major Buchhalter first. Looked at him briefly and went back to the dining room, where a pair of orderlies were making preparations at the table. "I will attend to the men who need me more. If you want to speed things up, you can boil my saws and be responsible for chloroforming the men prior to my cutting.
He washed up and began work. Cassandra helping any way he told her. Mostly he cut off a leg or an arm. A few had bullets cut out of soft tissue, including major Buchhalter. She sighed and began looking for large pots. Fortunately the house came with a cord of wood already stacked. And there was a well in the front. But there were already 20 men in tents there too. She went out there and demanded their officer detail five men to handle chamber pots, and put the latrine in back, away from the well.
The doctor had her fill up two pots with water and put them on the stove, as he began grading the patients on how well they would survive. He had three saws that hd different color handles which she was told to bring into the dining room in color order. She was also to apply the chloroform. The orderlies were there to hold the patient down while he cut off the arm or leg swiftly and sewed up the the skin. Every patient got two minutes for cutting away the uniform and washing the wound, two minutes for the chloroform, three minutes for the sawing, two minutes for the sewing, and the orderlies carried the patient out to the parlor and then they went to the living room for the next patient.
More patents came in all the time, while other patients were carried out to other buildings that served as hospitals.
Finally the last patent with an amputated leg came in. The last one one was of of a boy too young to shave. She cut off his pants prefatory for removing his left leg, and discovered he wasn't a young man at all. She called the surgeon's attention to the fact. "When we are done with this one, HE will go in my room upstairs."
"Fine by me. Chloroform im, but not too much. He only weighs 110lbs. She seems to have lost a lot of blood. We will take this leg off and see if she will survive or not, probably not."
The patients with wounds to soft tissue wounds came next. Cassandra made sure that major Buchhalter was first. She kept moving between the kitchen where the doctor insisted his instruments were boiled between patients, and that he had fresh boiled water for him to wash his hands in between patients too.
After a long exhausting day and night the doctor was done. Cassandra looked at the mess they had made of the dining room, with blood everywhere. The orderlies began cleaning up the blood as the doctor put away his tools in his bag. Cassandra asked "Why did you have me boil your saws every time?"
"I don't know why I do it, but when I do it, mortality among my patients drops by two thirds. There are goofy ideas why this works, all I know is it does work."
She went to the basement and began getting carrots and potatoes. She would have to cook stew for 35 men, she would have to husband the carrots, oats, and potatoes very carefully.
Cassandra assisted at the sawing off of limbs, way too many of them. The last one before they fished that job and began on the removal of bullets from soft tissue was of a man too young to shave. She cut off his pants prefatory for removing his left leg, and discovered he wasn't a young man at all. She called the surgeon's attention to the fact. "When we are done with this one, HE will go in my room upstairs."
"Fine by me. Chloroform im, but not to much. He only weighs 110lbs. She seems to have lost a lot of blood. We will take this leg off and see if she will survive or not,".... ....
Cassandra looked at the young girl when she same into the room. The major was still asleep, he was still fighting for every breath, but he sounded better. The girl was awake, leaning against the wall. She looked like she was doing worse, rather than better. Her eyes were sunken in her head, and she looked delirious.
Cassandra sat on the bed. "I'm Cassie. What's your name?"
"Frank. My name is Frank."
"Well, Corporal Frank, it looks like your soldiering days are over. "
Frank looked at the place her leg should have been. "Kind of hard to march with your leg missing. But I still want to soldier some more. I have some more rebels I want to kill."
"Those days are over."
"I am sure I got at least 5 on Saturday. And I am positive I got 20 of 'em up on Snodgrass hill on Sunday. But I still want to get more of 'em"
"They killed my Billy. He were't a soldier. But they grabbed em and called im a soldier, he didn't want to be a rebel soldier, he was pro union. So they shot im. They made a circle and they shot him. I want to kill two for every one that shot my Billy"
"Billy was your ..."
"Billy was going to be my husband. He was saving up and we was going to get married. I so much loved my Billy. So much, so much.... " Frank whipped a tear, and sniffed. "I was a better shot than Billy. His kinfolk laughed at that, that his girl was a better shot than he was." She frowned and looked hard. "They shouldn't have laughed at my Billy, no ma'am. "
Cassandra held onto her hands. " Tell me about it."
"I was a good shot. And I knew a thing or two. Like when Prenntis was first organizing his confederate regiment. I hid in some rocks across the river and I shot him in the stomach. Prenntis organized Billy's firing squad. The firing squad most of them missed, and Prenntis grinned, a big big grin when he shot with the revolver. I got my rifle, and I waited a week until I had a clear shot, and I shot him in the stomach. "
"Wern't you afraid they would catch you?"
"Not across the river. Then I walked along the river till I found a yankee patrol."
"They let you join up with your bosom as large as that!"
"I bound it real tight. I am a man since I shot that evil bastard from acros the river. I was the man who could kill an officer from practically any distance. Billy is still dead, and there are rebel officers still living. I want one half of that equation until I get killed myself."
"We are going to have to see if you are going to survive first. Your wound was very dirty, and the doctor said you have to be careful of infection. Let me feel your forehead for fever"
"I have to get me some more confederates."
"Arent any here, so lay down and rest a bit. We need to get you relaxes so your fever goes down,"
She knocked on the door and entered the bedroom carrying the stew of carrots and potatoes. She had added a small bit of oatmeal and some onion. "Are you feeling any better?"
He remained silent. She put the stew on the small table. Then she grabbed him and sat him up. "you need to eat, you need to get better."
He smiled at her. "I knew you would come for me."
"Humph. Not for you, for the soldiers in your command. You sound a lot better. But don't talk yet. Your lungs need to rest so they can recover. The bullet did a lot of damage. One of your lungs collapsed. You better relax a bit more. "
Cassandra woke up with the major breathing better this morning than last night. He still slept most of the day and night. But he sounded better every morning. She went downstairs and saw a pair of stretcher men taking another body to the back yard for burial. It had been two days since the battle and things were getting organized. He brother Augustus came up on the porch. She went out to meet him. "Gus, what are you doing here?"
"I am here to see where your well is."
"It is right here, on the left side of the house"
He looked at the well, and he quickly measured the distance to the street. He asked another soldier the distance of another well from the street. He came back. "We will have to dig up your burials. They are too close to your wells. I have some disagreeable news. We are going to have to did a trench in front of the house. The tench will be eight feet deep, for a while. Higher authority has determined this is where the comfort stations will be. We will have the trench about 20' long. I am sorry."
"It might as well be here as anywhere. I have 30 wounded and I am short of nurses. I have to toss my chamberpots in a convenient spot, like here" she pointed to the street.
"When we get the trench dug, I will detail some men to assist with the nursing. " He pointed out tents going up in people's yard. "Because of the comfort station being here, that means that that the tents housing men will be about 20 yards away, if not more. You have that much to be thankful for. I guess."
"We have more than 40,000 men in a real small area. Maybe more. We haven't got our returns done yet. There are so many men who haven't found their units yet. You can leave when you want."
"I have someone I need to care for. I have major Buchhalter here. "
"What command is he with?"
"I don't know, and you can't ask him. He can't talk yet."
"I will ask around if anybody is missing a major Buchhalter."
"He is with an artillery command, I think."
"A major, he no longer commands artillery exclusively. But as I said, I will ask around. Right now, I need to get that trench dug. You have a back door? I think you should use that exclusively. The view from your front porch won't be edifying. "
"Do what you have to do. I will do what I need to do."
Cassandra woke up with the sounds of rifle fire going off in the early morning. It sounded like it was coming from the west, around Moccasin Bend. Frank woke up too. She saw Frank sitting up and trying to figure out what was happening. Frank and Cassandra listened to the rattle of gunfire. Frank looked happy. "Sounds like we are going to get some good victuals soon."
"How can you be sure?"
Frank nodded her head "The responding firing is relatively sparse, and the firing is moving away from us."
Major became restless in his sleep. Cassandra held his hand and he quieted down. Frank looked on with interest. "He knows when you are here. And only you. He seems sweet on you. You seem to be sweet on him sometimes, and sometimes you don't. What I can't figure is why you have a problem with him. He is a good looking fella, and an officer no less."
"I am not sweet on him. Not in the slightest."
"Un hun. You don't care for him the least bit, do you now."
"Of course not." Cassandra said as she smoothed his hair.
The firing sounded more frequently. Cassandra stood up worrying. Frank gave a quiet Cheer. "The have got Moccasin Bend cleared of rebels, they are attacking across the river now."
"How can you tell?"
"Just sounds different. It sounds like the firing has gone from a more southerly location. And that sounds like more victuals. No more of this quarter rations foolishness."
Cassandra said " Are you sure the federals are winning?" Frank nodded "Then I suppose I had better try again to get some sleep." She law back on the bed.
"Don't mind me if you want to sleep together. I'll watch."
Cassandra gave Frank a look. "He is in no condition, and I don't want to. You need to get to sleep too." She turned away from Frank and the major. The major tried to reach over her, but she shook him off.
A wagon stopped at one end of the trench for chamber pots and men relieving themselves. Cassandra came out to see the corpulent man walking from it. He waved at her. "I am Zacharia P Green, Christian Commission. I understand you have some men here who had some amputations from their legs? "
She nodded. "We have five. One of them might not make it. We have ten who had arms amputated."
"I am only interested in legs today. I have crutches. " He walked back to the wagon and started to pull crutches out of the back. Cassandra helped him. They got them organized and into the house. They went from convalescent to convalescent adjusting the crutches. Finally finishing adjusting and telling the men how to use them downstairs, Cassandra said "We have one more upstairs."
The man from the Christian Commission gave a sour look. Then he followed her upstairs. When the came into the room Corporal Frank was in he said "I only have crutches for the soldiers."
"She was a soldier. She was wounded at Chickamauga. "
He looked at her corporal's blouse and said "Right. Lets get her standing up against the wall and measure her for her crutches."
Mr Green shook his head. "General Grant wants all the incapacitated to be shipped out. That includes you. You need to go to Cornel Parker's office and arrange for your men who can be moved to be shipped out via Bridgeport swiftly."
Julius came into the house, noting with approval that most of the wounded were gradually being moved out. Frank was coming downstairs very slowly on crutches. She was wearing a skirt that came to her ankles and her corporals blouse. She was no longer binding her bosom, so they were free and kind of large. Julius raced up the stairs and tried to help her negotiate the stairs down, but Frank tried to bat him down. He saw Cassandra and pointed at Frank. "What is she doing here?"
Cassandra saw that Frank was being helped with satisfaction. "She is a wounded soldier from Chickamaga being cared for her missing leg."
Frank said "HE is a wounded soldier being cared for HIS wounded leg. When I get a wooden leg fitted I am going to march again I am. Now let me go!"
"You see this here? These are Lieutenant's bars. You see that there, those are corporal's stripes. I outrank you, so lean on me down the stairs, please."
Corporal Frank stared at him for a moment, then let him lead her down the stairs. When the reached the bottom of the stairs she took off to the parlor, where there were chairs and she sat in one with a note of defiance. Cassandra followed them in, with a bemused expression. Julius sat in another with an expression of a stunned calf.
Frank said "Can you give me some potatoes to peel? I am going mad with boredom. I need, desperately, extremely, I am begging you, for something to occupy my hands."
"There is a fleece downstairs, and a spinning wheel in the corner. Would that help? Potatoes and carrots are getting scarce. Only six a day, which I already have done."
"That would do me fine. I used to spin constantly for my folks."
Julius grabbed the spinning wheel and brought it over to Frank, and then he grabbed the carders and basket and looked at her like a hound who had brought over a stick for her to throw.
Cassandra pointed to the stairs to the basement "Julius, can you bring some of the fleece that is hanging up downstairs for Frank? Not too much" She sat down in the chair Julius had been sitting in. "You really shouldn't be downstairs. "
"I really shouldn't be in the room you share with the major. You need some time alone with him."
"That isn't necessary."
"You girl, need some time alone with the major. I don't know if he can handle it, but you seem to need time alone with him, desperately."
"I don't know what you are saying" she said as she reddened.
"You know all right. There are only ten on us living in here. I will be better off downstairs, and so will you be better off with me downstairs. Have the lieutenant move my cot here to the parlor, and have him bring the fleece up from the basement, and leave me here with the chamberpot."
"It really isn't necessary."
"It is. Lieutenant, would you be so kind as to bring my cot down from upstairs? Thank you. He moves fast."
"I will have him take it upstairs, and you with it."
"No, you won't. My spinning and carding will interfere with the major getting his rest. It is guaranteed to make a sick man sicker to listen to it. These carders are awful! Oh well, any port in a storm I guess."
"You don't have to spin."
" Do so. I was growing crazy with boredom. This will be a lifesaver."
"Here is the cot. I will put over here in the corner where the corporal will have something to hang onto when she gets up."
"I will have the cot brought back upstairs. Later. Go ahead and spin for now." She headed for the stairs. She saw Julius sit down next to Frank with a ghastly look of adoration.
"I was in Granger's battalion. Who were you with?"
Cassandra heard his clumsy attempts at romancing Frank. She shook her head. "Idiot."
Corporal Frank leaned on her cruches as she watched the regiments belonging to General Sherman marching past. Julius watched with her. General Sherman sat on his horse watching the troops marching past with evident satisfaction. General Grant galloped up with Colonel Parker. Grant and Sherman shared pleasantries and watched the marching men. After a few minutes General Thomas trotted up with General Sheridan. Corporal Frank asked "General Grant has a nigger on his staff?"
Julius shook his head. "That's Colonel Parker. He's an injun. He is the secretary, and an engineering officer"
"An injun as the engineering officer. You yankees give all kinds of folks jobs. You are going to tell me that you have jewish officers next."
"Like Captain Zimmerman."
She shook her head. "The world is upside down."
"I don't know about that. Injun engineers and jewish captains you see every day. Female corporals is truly the world upside down."
Cassandra admired the new uniform of colonel Buchhalter. He sat in a cane bottom chair with several blankets, because he was still short of breath. He was watching General Thomas's men marching into a review, flags flying, as they marched into position. Frank leaned forward on another chair leaning forward with a strange intensity.
"The confederates seem to think they are just doing a review. They are just standing there watching this like I am."
"Why are they just watching?"
"I think they are short of ammunition. They have been told not to waste it."
Gunfire rippled from the east part of the line. "That got their attention. They still aren't firing. Thomas's men are just out of range."
They heard the the crashing and banging of Sherman's men to the east.
Frank said "It doesn't sound like Shermans men are making much headway."They haven't moved at all
They stayed put for a long time. Cassandra went off for a while and came back carrying some stew and some hard tack. He thanked her and they kept on watching. Suddenly a signal gun went off, followed by three more. The men of Thomas' command began marching forward toward the rifle pits at the bottom of the hill. Puffs of smoke began rising up to meet them. The men began advancing at double quick time, and they lowered their rifles so that the bayonets were in front of them. Puffs of smoke followed by the sound of gunfire came from the rifle pits. Men began falling or turning back holding onto wounds. The men began running toward the rifle pits. The sounds of cannons going off made larger booms. colonel Buchhalter commented "They are using canister"
Corporal Frank nodded. "They don't have very many cannons though."
The firing ceased as the federal soldiers reached the rifle pits. Both sides were using bayonets or clubbed rifles. Suddenly the confederates began leaving the rifle pits. Then the advance was all over.
The federals tried to hide from the firing coming from the next line of rifle pits, but the firing was getting large numbers of federals who were exposed because the rifle pits offered no protection from the firing coming from above.
Frank looked disgusted "They are just sitting there like fish in a barrel. What in the name of all that is holy are they doing just sitting there?"
Colonel Buchhalter shrugged and said "Orders."
Frank gave him a look "I have seen more men die of insane stupid orders.. They are going to die because some jackass gave them the wrong orders."
Colonel Buchhalter shook his head. "They seem to feel that enlisted are just chess pieces"
Cassandra said "There a few men climbed out of the rifle pits looking for safer place to hide from the rifle fire"
"Good for them!" shouted Frank. "Of course they will be tied to a wheel for a day for insubordination, but it is better to be tied to a wheel for twelve hours than dieing."
"More men are climbing out of the rifle pits, they are advancing up the hill" noted Colonel Buchhalter. "They are firing to. They are making pretty good time going up the hill."
They watched as the men climed up the hill slowly "There's Julius up at the base of that small cliff. He has a good size group behind him" said Frank.
"You can see him! asked Cassandra"
Frank Stood up and paced on her crutches. "There he goes! He is at the second line of rifle pits! The confederates are fleeing the second line and the federals are right behind them."
"The confederates at the top of the hill aren't firing because the confederates and the federals are all mixed together" Colonel Buchhalter noted with satisfaction.
"There aren't any confederates around Julius any more. Oh my god, A cannon went off right in front of Julius!"
"Where?" asked Cassandra
"Right at the base of those rocks. Oh! He is still standing. How did the cannon miss him?"
"They can't depress the cannons far enough. The cannons are all in the wrong place. They are shooting over the federal's heads " Colonel Buchhalter said with a mystified expression. "Why did they put the cannons there? Idiots."
Cassandra said "Praise god for small favors."
Frank resumed her pacing. Frank and would stop every so often and pound on her stump. "Come on, come on!" Then she would resume her pacing. She finally stoped and said They have reached the top! The artillery soldiers are surrendering. Good. They are getting that part if the ridge cleared"
"There are still a lot of soldiers pinned down. But it looks like there are a lot of hand to hand contests for the top of the ridge. I think they confederates will break soon. It looks like there are men advancing on the west end of the ridge" said Buchhalter.
"And there they go!" Yelled Frank. She took off her bonnet and cheered and waved her bonnet over her head.
Cassandra and Buchhalter looked on with a bemused expression as Frank stood up on her crutches and cheered and whistled. "Atta Boys! Get those damned rebels! You show um! Oh how I wish I could dance! Woo hoo!"
Colonel Buchhalter spread the blankets on the floor and lay down. "Ugg, horrible and hard" he thought. Sick soldiers crowded in the other rooms, he couldn't find any space. He didn't think he could keep his hand off of Cassandra another night if he shared the bed with her, the alternative was moving into a tent. Several soldiers were sleeping on the floors, sharing privations was his view of an officer's duty.
Cassandra came into the room. "What in name of 10,000 foolish devils are you doing?"
"I thought it better, I am strong enough to sleep on the floor, not strong enough to keep my hands off."
Cassandra looked at him. She thought, "It will only be ten minutes. I can give him ten minutes. It won't be as bad as Wilson." She assumed a stern expression. "You are not strong enough to sleep on the floor. Go ahead and do me, and get it over with, and go to sleep on the bed." She hopped on the bed and started to raise her skirt
He stopped her. "I am not going to do this if it is a chore, and I want to do it my way, rather than Wilson's."
She shrugged and lay back. He climbed on the bed and began kissing her, using his tongue. She was startled, and she started to enjoyed it. He kissed her on her chin, he undid the button on her coller, and kissed her on the neck, he undid more buttons, he kissed her breasts, he undid more buttons.......
Two hours later she snuggled up to him, his breath was stertorous, she hoped she hadn't ripped the the scars to his lungs. She had never felt this way before. She had felt such joy from the tips of her hair to the tips of her toes. She was sore from his vigorous love making. A pleasant kind of sore. He had come four times. What an animal! She had come so many times she didn't bother to count. It was possible for a woman to enjoy sex. His breathing became more regular. She thought him asleep. She said quietly "You know, if that is what marriage with you is like, I think I could do it."
"I'll hold you to that as a promise" he said.
She sat up. "You didn't hear me!"
He pulled her to him. "I heard you. You are going to marry me as soon as we can find a preacher."
She put her fingers to his lips, and he began sucking them. "All right, we will get married. But you need to get strong now. I need you to live a good long time."
"Well well, the family is all here. You two got promoted to first lieutenant, though I think you should have been cashiered to private for violating orders like that. Oh well, victory covers a multitude of sins. You haven't used your furloughs, and three months is owing you. You need to be back on April 1st. Have a grand time with your parents and your sister. "
Now you, Colonel Buchhalter, you are not in any shape to ride a horse, or walk over a mile without assistance. You are, as of today, invalided out of the army. You have a game leg and the minie ball that almost got your heart and did tear up your lungs and has made you an impediment. You might as well relax at your in laws. Take your time getting stronger.
"I will get better by the time campaign season comes around again."
I have talked to three doctors. You won't be able to ride a horse for six months, and that for only short stretches of time. You won't march more than five miles a day, if that. The campaign season needs you able to walk or ride all day. Have a grand time with your grand wife. You have earned it.
"Now corporal Doe..."
"I am Frank Smith."
..."If you refuse to give your right name you will be sent to the women's reformatory in Chicago and you won't get your pension. If you give us your right name, we will send you home with a pension of eight dollars a month."
She gave him a pitying look. "If you sent me home, you would be sending me to my death. My dad and brothers were all jayhawkers. "
"We could send you someplace else."
"I'm sure my mom would take her in for a while. She lives near Murfreesboro."
"Could you do that?"
"I'm not going to give you my right last name, but you can call me Sally. Give me a funny german name like his."
"Like Machden? It means maiden."
"How bout wife?"
"Yes, call her Sally Getehefrau. That satisfy you?" Frank, er Sally nodded.
"Yes, that will do very well. So, Corporal Getehefrau, you will get a pension of $8 a month. You will also get a brevet rank of Sergeant for your outstanding courage and good work on Snodgrass Hill. "
"I'd prefer to be busted to private, have my leg, and my rifle. I have confederates to kill. A brevet rank and $8 a month wouldn't satisfy me in the least."
Julius said with a proprietary air "You won't be miss Getehefrau for very long. I still aim to change it."
"That will be a cold day in hell when that happens."
"Well then, the devil needs to buy some long johns and mittens someday soon."
Mr Buchhalter, Cassandra, and Cassandra's mom walked into the dry goods store. There were several bolts of cloth on display. Cassandra adamantly told her mom "Not blue. I don't care about tradition, this bride is not wearing blue. You can beg until you are blue in the face, but I will not wear blue. Not for all the tea in china, not blue."
Buchhalter added "I don't think I would like blue either. It has memories. "
"Oh all right. Not blue. How about this rose colored linen? "
"Won't it run?"
"How about this gold color? I don't believe this will run."
"It won't look good with mom's complexion."
The draper said "you can use this natural linen. Some brides like white. The queen of England has started a new fashion to wear white."
Buchhalter grunted. "No, I will prefer a republican color."
Everyone else laughed. "Look at it this way husband, it is cheaper because it hasn't gone in the dye-pot."
The left the dry goods store with their bolt of linen. Buchhalter pointed out Julius and Sally across the street. Cassandra shook her head. "I don't understand it. Her hair is short, she keeps it that way. She is two inches taller than him. She is sharpe featured, her nose is long enough you can use it to split logs, one eye is green and the other blue, and to top it all off, she is missing a leg. And he follows her around like a baby duck."
Drussilla said with exasperation "Do you want me to fetch you a saucer of milk? It's his funeral. No one can ever figure out what a man likes about a certain woman, least of all the man involved. Isn't that right, Otto?"
"Nope, I can tell you 10,000 things I love about your daughter..."
"In that case, don't bother. I kind of think he likes her bosom. How on earth she could keep that hidden for two years I have no idea."
Sally saw them and came over to them. "You buying cloth for your dress?"
Cassandra nodded. "We got this very nice linen with a rose weave. Take a look."
Sally admired the cloth. "You have a pattern?"
"We were going to get that next."
Julius inquired "You can make a dress for Frank here out of the same material?"
Sally said "I am not buying any more dresses. I an going to get me blue wool and make a pair of pants and I am going to march with General Sherman."
Otto shook his head. "You are invalid out of the army. I kind of think the provost guard is more concerned with keeping you out of the army than keeping bounty jumpers in. You are more troublesome"
"Just you wait" said Sally. "Just you wait. "
"I have a lot of experience with the provost guard. I will keep my eyes peeled for you" Julius said. "Of course, I could see your wherever you are hiding in this army."
"You are getting very skilled with your crutches. I remember how you were when you first got them" Cassandra said admiringly.
"Otto tells me he can get me a wooden leg. I would have to use crutches a lot though."
"You will have to go with us to Annandale to get the leg fitted. "
"I'll come back here as quick as I can. Got to move with the army."
"How are you doing with the Sanitary Commission? Are they treating you right?" Asked Drusillia.
"They have been real good to me. They like it when I tell stories about camp life. Though what they have me doing is kind of annoying. I was always getting in trouble in camp for one reason or another, and what I would be doing for punishment is peeling potatoes. So what do they have me doing at the Sanitary Commission? Peeling potatoes."
They all laughed. "But how are you getting on?"
"Pretty well. I have a room on the ground floor, so I can be pretty mobile. I put in 50 hours a week doing easy work. I am doing pretty well, considering. "
Julius came up to Cassandra after the service. "I have to go back to my command in three days, I will have to get going this afternoon. I need you to take care of Sally."
"She strikes me as a young woman who can take care of herself"
"I have been saving up my pay. I have $70 for mom, and $70 for taking care of Sally, but she won't hear of me giving her money. She is going to ned a wooden leg, and she is going to need to be cared for. So you tell her you need to have a wood leg fitted and you find something for her to do. I plan on taking care of her when the war is over, but will you please watch over her till then?
"She is an independent woman. I will see about the leg, but she wont listen to me either."
They shook hands and embraced, and Julius walked off and got on his horse and rode out to join Sherman's army. Sally watched him go and went over to Cassandra. "Man is lucky. He gets to kill confederates, while I am stuck here."
"What are you going to do? The Sanitary commission is breaking camp. I here they aren't taking you with them."
"No, they are not. They need ditch diggers and tent erectors and all kinds of jobs you need two legs to do. They gave me the address of some people in Louisville who can put me up"
"Otto says you can probably get some work in Annandale. He says his old man is a genius at finding jobs for partial people. And you can get a wooden leg there. Why don't you come with us?"
"Might as well. The folks in Louisville mean well, but I can tell that the place they will have me staying at would be the 21st circle of hell. You sure that there will be a job for me?"
"It won't be a great job, but it will keep you busy."
Cassandra saw mr Haferbrot on his express wagon and gave him a warm greeting. She saw Hilda resting on the hospital porch and stopped to gossip a bit. She checked with Mr Zimmerman at the bank to check on the time deposit, renewing it for another five months. She stopped at the post office to chat with Mr Hausierer, the postal clerk, who gave her two letters addressed to her.
"Husband! I got letters from Julius and Gus on the same day!"
Mr Buchhalter sat up in his chair, holding one twin boy in his arms while the other was exploring on his hands and knees. Their four year old daughter was quietly playing with a doll "Read Gus' first. "
She sat down and ripped open the envelope. "Get this, he made captain!"
"Quite an accomplishment."
"Indeed! Lets see... He looked up my old plantation, but it is for sale. He looked up the old man. All his sons are dead. David got killed in a riot down there. His wife died. I never saw her. I wonder what she was like?"
"I never saw her either."
"Oh this is rich! Get a load of this! Do you remember how he was always going on about white women sleeping with negros?"
"Morning, noon and night. The man was obsessed."
"You remember his daughter Ruth?"
"Vaguely. He kept his women folk away from the soldiery. "
"Well, after I was bought away from him he had to hire a black accountant at $1.25 a day to replace me."
"I knew I got a bargain. I got a woman more valuable than rubies, a pearl of great price"
She stuck out her tongue at him. "Well, it appears that Ruth thought he was valuable too, and she lit out to California with him when it appeared she was pregnant with his baby. She kept the money she got from selling her husband's farm after he died, and that was her trousseau."
"The old man must have been devastated."
"You germans have a word for how I am feeling about how he is feeling. Sad-freed?"
"Schadenfreude.. It isn't a good feeling."
Cassie read on. "He said general Thomas is going to San Francisco. He will try and get on his staff, but it doesn't look likely"
"His hero worship is excessive. "
"He says that you had the best chance of survival in his command."
"What does Julius have to say?"
She tore open the letter. "Mostly it is about his experiments in farming. He has 20 plots he tries different crops in, and different ways of treating the soil. Father is indulging him. He is trying scientific agriculture in a big way. But father controls what gets planted where. But he has convinced father to try his ideas out."
"Trying things out in a scientific way will work out better in the long run"
"Sally is going to have another baby. How she gets around on a wooden leg and a two year old...I have no idea how she does it."
"Sally is a woman with a lot of grit."
"He writes that they haven't had any problem with the KuKlux after last year. Sally really likes the Henry rifle we bought her."
"Best wedding present for her. It was really effective against the KuKlux. She got five of them and the KuKlux have left them alone ever since."
"The idea of a repeating rifle as a wedding gift for the bride..."
"She likes it, and it was extremely useful. What could we have bought them that would have been 1/10 as useful or could have made the bride 1% as happy? It was killer expensive though. I kind of agree that with most brides buying them a rifle wouldn't have been a good gift, but Sally isn't most brides."
"That is true. Sally is unique. Father and Julius bought another distressed plantation at a sheriff's auction. No negro would go within five miles of the place."
"The Hansen place?"
"Right. Father and Julius are going to do sharecropping at 65/35 rather than 60/40. He wants hands, and the place is huge."
"35% for your father is really cutting it to to the bone."
"Julius agrees with you, but father said they need the hands so bad. Maybe in a few years they can go back to 60/40."
"They won't be able too. The hands can just walk off."
"Just walking off makes you feel so good doing it."
"I am surprised you never did"
"Someday, owner...! will." They both laughed.
"You can't walk too fast with the belly like that.."