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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: January 9, 2019      Views: 177
 ...Prologue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12... 

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Catherin Elizabet Belle, also a pseudonym. She is retired. She enjoys living in Florida where there is plenty of sea, sun and sand.

Ms Belle enjoys her research and creating poetry, novels, and short stories.

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Chapter 8 of the book Gun For Hire
The long journey begins.
"War's Over" by Catherin Elizabet Belle

Ragged and just plain worn to a frazzle I straddle my old cayuse and head for Texas. The destruction is all around me. Bodies lying where they fell, blood soaked ground, the air rancid with death, death everywhere. A few miles west I spied union soldiers piling corpse in a shallow pit sprinkling them with lye and setting them on fire. The stench is more than a man can bear. I steered plum clear of them yanks.

Off in the trees dismounting I fell to my knees bile spewing forth as I gaged with revulsion. Backing into a thicket with my horse unable to move another mile I sit with my rifle across my knees my back against a tree. The chill of the night creeps into my soul as an owl swooped by on his nocturnal hunt. Off in the distance I could hear riders drifting west. Jist too tired to care if'n their yanks or rebs.

Traveling in them Blue Ridge Mountains is hard going but I figure there were more places to hide if'n need be. Over the next few weeks I met up with rebs trying to get home, none of them t'were Texans.

With the gray light of dawn it's time to move out. Through the trees I see a flicker of a fire where them yanks were yesterdee. Saddling my mount veering north heading west, I ride out. Twas a mite hungry; last meal was two days ago. Hadn't seen even a rabbit since I rode out; kinda helped myself to a rifle and what few cartridges was in that yanks poke, but hadn't seen nary a thing to shoot. Staying off the main trails and roads trying to keep clear of the union troops wasn't an easy trick. Then yanks were everywhere; long about time I crossed in to Georgia I ran into a few yanks, they set out a chasing me. I slapped leather and hightailed it outta thar; rounding a bend I ducked into a thicket. Clapped my hand over my horse's mouth and danged if I didn't almost forget to breathe myself. They act like they hadn't heerd General Lee surrendered. Hell this here war's over.

Staying in the heavy tree cover I move on dropping down into a canyon. A day or two later long about dark catching a whiff of smoke in the air I move with caution until I could see the campfire. Well, I'll be danged sitting around that thar fire were a whole passel of rebs. I yelled out, "Hello in camp."

Them fellows didn't move a hair just kept drinking their coffee, but I saw two pick up rifles and fade back in the shadows.

That fellow closest to the fire spoke, "If you're a yank, keep moving; if a Johnny Reb move into the light."

It was sure good to hear a southern boy talkin'. I stepped into the fire light, "I's a reb, fit with theTexas Rangers."

"Well Reb, help yourself to a cup of what us rebs call coffee." As he squatted down, Calab noticed he were jist a pup with ragged clothes and shoulders that sagged. He see'd weariness, even despair in his eyes.

"Thanks, mister. It shor sounds good." Silence prevails, rebs just sittin' no palavering. Jeb helps himself to a cup, leaning back on haunches he sits staring into the flames. "Well, fellows, I'll be movin' on."

One of the group sitting off a bit said, "What's your handle?" What's you called?"
With a hint of a smile he replies, "Jeb Smith."

"Yeah, I heerd of you; you were with Bear tweent you?" As he speaks he moves near the fire. He was a burly man, older than the rest of them sittin' thar.

"Yup, but how'd you know that mister?"

Well, sonny, Calab's the name; I heerd Bear had taken a young pup, named of Jeb, to heel. Just figures!

A shadow creeps across Jeb's face for all to see, shaking his head he laughed. "Yup, thought old Bear t'was ne'er gonna let me taste whiskey. He jist kept ordering sarsaparilla."

As the fire died down each reb fell asleep where he sat, I moved a little ways back and leaned against a tree and like all the others a rifle across my knees. As I listen to an owl's wings as he soars above the trees my head droops against my chest in sleep.

Long about daybreak a horse sniggered behind me....t'was my old pal. Just as I rose, Calab spoke, "A'fore you be ridin' out son, have a cup of coffee with me." He was sittin' near the glowing embers of a new fire.

Glancing around I see'd twern't nobody there. "Where'd ever body go?" Moving to the fire as Calab put the pot on to boil, I squatted.

Spitting into the fire, he eyed me cross the red glow, "Pulled out about midnight." Before continuing, he starred me in the face, "Sonny, you don't wanta get hooked up with them Rebs; they're headed for trouble." Moving the coffee off the coals, "Just keep ridin' to Texas; go home son."

Puzzled by his words, what you gettin' at, Calab?"

"Thar ain't no good can come of those boys. Jeb, you had your fill of fightin?'

Pondering his question, it didn't take me long to say, "Hell yes!" Looking him slap dab in the eyes waiting to see what he'd say tension mounting.

A grin touching his lips but not his eyes he says, "Well, them boys aren't done fightin'; They're head down a bad trail."

"Caleb, I wanta get back to Texas and the ranch; I jist lit out one night without saying a word. Pa's gonna wollop me good." I sat there staring into the embers thinkin how I snuck out in the night.

Caleb cleared his throat, "Son, he jist be glad to see you." He looks out into the gray dawn and continues, "You mind if I ride away with you?"

A grin crosses Jeb's face, "I'd be right pleased."

Pouring the coffee and grounds on the fire, he picks up his rifle. "Well sonny let's ride."

Saddling his horse he is sitting in the astride as I tighten the cinch on my old cayuse.
Mounting I say, "Well, Caleb, what ya waiting on?" Putting spurs to flanks we move out through the pines heading west.

The book continues with After War's End. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.
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