The Ardent Paramour
The Perfect Day
Heat poured from the sun onto young William Varian’s neck. He is heading to the local market in his father’s wooden cart to sell an assortment of fruits and vegetables from his family garden. The temperature was always so high at this time of day. The year is 1860, midday, early August near Jackson, Ohio. Will can’t stop thinking about the turmoil in the states. People are easily provoked into arguments over politics, slavery, and what’s seen on everyone’s mind, southern succession from the Union.
Something terrible will happen to our nation if we do not do something soon, Will thought exhaustedly. It almost seemed hopeless, there was nothing anyone could do besides continue with their daily lives, holding their breathes for the axe to fall. Will contemplated past events, struggling to find the original cause to their problems. Last year the radical John Brown led a so-called assault upon Harper’s Ferry Virginia; his plan was to free local slaves with the help of his sons and a few other men to form a slave rebellion, which failed miserably. A gust of cool air blew through the trees sweeping into the road. Will grinned at the relief from the blistering heat.
Can’t say I blame him, Will continued, sometimes it seems as though the slave holders need a taste of their own medicine. He was viewed as crazy, until his death sentence of course. People considered him a martyr afterwards, a “northern hero” some would say. But no, the more Will thought about it all, the more he realized that the country’s problems were deeper than a year or two old.
Bogged down with thought and the heat, Will hadn’t noticed much else, the single horse drawn cart was almost slower than walking.
“Perhaps if I got out and traded places it’d make things easier for you Luna?” The old white and orange calico horse grunted at Will’s remark. When he saw a fork in the road he naturally veered right, he knew there was only five minutes journey to town left.
Will removed his straw hat from his head to fan himself, “What good does this even do? I am simply waving hot air into my face now,” he said discomforted. His ear length golden blond wavy hair glistened in the sun. He was wearing a plain butternut cotton shirt his mother had made the prior year, and plain wool brown pants. Will reared another corner and wondered if he took the wrong path. As he slowly turned his cart around a flat patch of grass two horsemen appeared behind him.
“Uh-oh hello there,” Will said.
“That sure is a hefty load ya got there traveler,” the one man said in what Will would call a “watered down southern accent only found in lower Ohio.”
“Well, I’m not really a traveler, I live near here.”
“Then why’er lost?”
“Who said I was lost…?” Will started becoming more nervous by the minute.
“Y’er turnin’ around an’ lookin’ confused ya are,” the second man now spoke showing off his missing teeth in what Will could only imagine was some form of a deranged smile. Just when Will thought he would be robbed. Abruptly, a third horsemen appeared rapidly from behind him. It was Mat, Will’s best friend since early childhood. Will had never been more relieved in his life.
Mat had worked in factories, or once as an apprentice carpenter, anything to support his struggling family. Clearly all of the physical activity illuminated his body; unlike Will, who was a more slender boy of sixteen. Immediately Mat’s presence startled the men.
“How are you fine gentlemen this afternoon?” Mat asked smirking. The two men scowled riding off skittishly. Mat had the most piercing sapphire eyes, darker chestnut hair that always stuck up no matter, and olive skin. Will had always admired him, and wished he could attain a fraction of Mat’s handsome looks or physical definition.
“Will, you doing okay?” Mat asked pulling his horse round to face Will.
“Yeah-yes I mean, thank you Mathew,” Will sighed.
“You do realize that town is left of the fork in the road, right leads you to my family’s homestead, and don’t call me Mathew, you make me feel like my grandfather.”
“I realized it right before those men came, the heat must have disoriented me, and I apologize, I do not want to make you feel like an old man now that you shall be turning seventeen next month.”
“Taking some food to sell in market?” Mat asked entirely ignoring Will’s “old man” remark.
“I do every Saturday.”
“I know you do,” Mat said matter-of-factly asking, “What I mean is, do you want me to come with you? Seeing as how you were almost bushwhacked and all.”
“Bushwhacked is a form of guerrilla fighting in smaller groups, it isn’t-”
“Will! I’ll leave you here in this ditch if you give me another english lesson.”
Both Will and Mat started to head back towards the town, Will’s mother had come from a doctor’s family and inherited many books with which Will used to become self-taught.
Mat on the other hand, had only been to a small public school in his earlier youth where the teacher was unafraid of harsh punishments; he always said that it made him stronger as a person, yet he never wanted any further schooling afterward.
“You know I could always give you some english lessons sometime, on-only if you wanted,” Will said uneasily. Will never wanted to question Mat’s intelligence, he only ever wanted to help him. Mat was silent for a few seconds before grinning, then saying, “You think I’m a simpleton or somethin’?”
“Mathew, do not ever assume I think you lesser than you really are.” Will had an almost stern face now.
“And what do you think of me then?”
“You shouldn’t begin a sentence with an ‘and’”
“Dear Lord, I guess I really do need those lessons then!”
They came out of the forest and arrived in town. There were only about a dozen city blocks in the town, simple mud roads, yet bustling with a number of townspeople and local farmers. Will pulled the cart to a halt. “Which venders you checking out to sell?” Mat asked.
“Not sure, I was considering Mister Greene’s stall, he is always so friendly.”
“It’s because he knows his daughter fancies you.”
“She does not.”
“Oh really? What about the occasion where she brought you a pastry that one Sunday?”
“It was a gesture of friendship, Mathew.”
“Will, I only get pastries on special occasions, unless mother makes them, but those store ones are mighty expensive. What about the time she started attending our church once she realized you go there.”
“Mathew! Do not be unreasonable, more importantly, I need to sell these.”
“Well, what about the one time where she-” Mat’s voice trailed for awhile until he realized Will was already halfway to mister Greene’s stall. “Well-well, how are we today mister Varian?”
Mister Greene said.
“Very well, thank you. I have my weekly produce if you are interested.”
“Most certainly, let us see what we have here yes.” Mister Greene was a German immigrant and knew how to haggle a fair price. He needed weekly stock for his restaurant.
“I see you have about a dozen tomatoes, three pumpkins, a dozen or so eggs, that must have taken a long time lad, and… Are those strawberries? Linnea will love those!”
“Speaking of which, how has your daughter been?”
“Oh I believe she actually came with me,” Mr. Greene announced.
As soon as the words left his mouth, Linnea appeared out from behind his produce stall. Her smile made a shiver crawl up Will’s back.
“She knew it was a Saturday she did, that is when you always come.” Mister Greene gave a friendly pat on the back to Will as he slightly shuddered.
“Why don’ you two discuss things while I tally these up and load them over to my stall hmm?”
“Oh I uh-”
“Hello Will… How are you? You know I haven’t seen you for a whole week.”
Will became anxious and uncomfortable. Linnea was always considered a plain girl with light brown hair in pigtails, a strange button nose with freckles over her face.
“Oh really?” Will asked not surprisingly since she had just stated that fact. “Yes, I hope to see you tomorrow at church, I do enjoy your company, you are ever so interesting.”
“I do not pretend to be an interesting character, I am how God made me after all,” Will said turning his head over to his cart noticing Mat pretend to hang himself out of boredom. “You know I should probably begin to head home now.”
“But father isn’t done counting your money yet, you will simply have to wait longer. Not that it is a bad thing seeing as I get to continue talking to you.” Will could see something behind Linnea’s eyes, a strange shimmer of hope, or longing. Will loved her, but he loved her as he loved his sister, or his mother perhaps. Will began to notice Mat looking over almost suspiciously, he knew how Mat could be, but then again, they had always looked out for each other.
“My… Will, you haven’t hardly spoken a word.”
“I what? Oh uh sorry I-” Before Will could sputter a coherent sentence, Mister Greene had waltzed over with some paper money.
“Two dollars right here for you lad.”
“Two dollars, are you sure?” Will asked excitedly.
“Of course, these are some high quality products.”
“Thank you so much, I shall see you soon I pray.”
“Oh uh see you tomorrow Will!” Linnea called out as Will shuffled back to his cart. When Will returned, Mat was sitting on the cart with a smug look on his face. He was clearly waiting with a sinister jest until Will was within ear shot.
“Oh Will, oh Will! Marry me you fool.”
“Oh shut up,” Will said pushing Mat, which resulted in him falling over into the cart. They headed back out of town. Once they had been riding for a few minutes, Mat broke the silence by asking, “So, how much did you make?”
“Two dollars,” Will said slightly reserved.
“What?! If I had been the one to sell those to him I only would’ve gotten about a dollar thirty or a dollar fifty at the most, I told you his daughter fancies you…”
“Do not remind me Mathew.”
“Why? don’t you have feelings for her…?”
“I-I am not sure, she is pleasant, but she does not interest me in the slightest.”
“Well, good then! I can’t have my William running off with any ole standard bess.”
The boys both chuckled as they neared the fork.
“This is where we part,” said Mat.
“I shall see you tomorrow at church yes?” Will asked enthusiastically.
“Of course, and we’ll meet afterward by Buckeye creek like we used to do so you can teach me some of those fancy words right?”
“Yes, I will see you then.”
Buckeye creek derived slightly north west of Jackson from a shortening river. The boys had always met there Sunday afternoons as adolescents, but recently Mat had become preoccupied with work to compensate after his father fell ill and remained so to the day.
William drove the cart to the Varian homestead. It was a simple farm with a shoddy barn, two story log cabin, outhouse to the far right, William’s large garden,
and a well opposite on the left side of the farm near the forest. As Will pulled the cart to the barn, Uncle Charles greeted him.
“How’d yeh do this evenin’ Will?” Uncle Charles inquired.
“Made two dollars, so I am very pleased,” Will returned triumphantly.
“Ah yeh made that much did ya? Well, n’one would make that much unless they robbed ‘em or somethin’ heh heh.”
“You would not accuse me of such things would you uncle?”
“I’m jus’ jokin’ with yeh, it’s cause his daughter has a real liken for yeh.”
“Why does everyone insist upon raising that statement?!”
“Oh, I didn’ mean no offense young Will…”
William felt ashamed of himself for lashing out at Uncle Charles; he didn’t comprehend why either. “Forgive me Charles, I reacted in a gross way,” Will said embarrassed while dismounting from the cart, “I do not know why certain folks tell me this I-I-”
Uncle Charles interrupted Will by asking, “You not like ‘er? Or the statements?”
“Both, or neither, I have not an idea which,” Will said caressing his forehead.
“I suppose if yeh don’ like her or nothin’ let that be that, yeh can’ never let people tell yeh what you are an’ what yeh like, this is America! We gottah choose for ourselves yeh hear?”
Will smiled at this encouragement. “Now go on, help yeh mom get ready for supper, I’ll take care of these,” Uncle Charles said pointing to the horse and cart. Uncle Charles wasn’t biologically Will’s uncle at all, he was simply a fifty eight year old man as a hired hand who couldn’t find work after the Mexican War. He found an unlikely home among the Varian’s. Nonetheless, Will found Charles to always be like an uncle to him. Uncle Charles was a taller than average man of about 5’ 8” with brown eyes, a dark grey beard, balding dark grey hair, and a knife scar over his cheek received from the war.
When William walked inside his mother was bustling over a burning stove furnace. Misses Abigail Varian had an average height with golden blonde hair, light blue eyes, and a thinner figure. “Hello mother, need help in the kitchen?” William asked.
“No-no it will be done soon enough, not much to do but wait. It’s stew with rye bread, I churned the butter fresh this morning after you had left,” his mother said smiling. Will placed a kiss on her cheek thanking her. As he rounded the steps of their home, a young lady flew down past him. Will was so surprised he nearly fell over.
“Dear brother, has the heat simply left you too weary to stand?”
“Perhaps, I believe had better go to the well and freshen up.”
“Mother, if you needn’t my help, I shall accompany our poor William here so he does not wilt on his journey.”
“Yes-yes all very good, you two run along now,” Mrs. Varian said waving off her children.
As they walked outside William began a conversation by saying, “You cease to impress with your quick manipulation of me to take a walk sister.”
“It’s been dull without you here all day Will, mother has me primping around as though I’m some kind of damn princess.”
“Oh Katheryn, you were always so excellent with words.”
Katheryn smiled as they approached the well; she had long black curly hair running just past her shoulders. Being taller than the average girl, she had green eyes with lighter skin and freckles over her nose. Will had always joked that she had stolen the charm out of the family genes when she was born. As Will removed his hat and washed his face Katheryn began discussing her beau.
“He brought me flowers this morning.”
“Did he now? What kind?” Will asked with a soaked face.
“How should I know, they were ugly and smelled strange.”
Will dried his face on his sleeves showing a puzzled face to his sister continuing with, “One could say you do not admire him at all these days…”
“How can I admire a simple oaf? I only grant him time with me because father approves and encourages it. He isn’t anything special,” Katheryn said ruffling her slate blue dress.
“I am truly sorry, maybe father will come around to realize-”
“You know father, Will! He’d sooner sell his entire household than admit he was wrong about something.”
Will was silent, for he knew it was true. Papa Varian was never known for being a kind or understanding man. The siblings waltzed back to the house only to discover that their father was home.
“Father…” The children said in unison. “Children…” The children’s father returned nonchalantly. Papa Samuel Varian was a slightly shorter man with a protruding stomach, graying beard, and balding slightly. They went inside the house as papa Varian demanded the whereabouts of his dinner. The family sat through dinner hardly saying a word. This was always how the Varian’s ate, almost as if papa Varian held an icy grip over the freedom of speech within the dinner table. As soon as dinner was over, papa Varian left without a word. Will’s mother insisted upon cleaning up after dinner. Will and Katherine ventured outside depressed.
“Father sure does have a way about him doesn’t he,” Katheryn asked rhetorically.
“I hate how he treats mother.”
The siblings both remained in silence for some time.
“You attending church tomorrow?”
“I suppose, I am going to luncheon afterward with my oaf.”
“I am sorry, that does not sound very pleasant.”
“Yes, well, it is what it is… What are your plans afterward?”
“I am going to see Mathew, he asked if I could teach him some english.”
“Did he now? That sounds lovely, why do you still refer to him by his full name? I assumed he disliked that.”
“Oh right, he does doesn’t he? I seem to always forget.”
“Don’t worry about it, I think he likes it even if he pretends not to.”
“Are you sure? I feel as though he gets bothered by my nagging.”
“Ahaha don’t be ridiculous, you know he has a soft spot for you-you’re like a little brother to him.”
“He already has younger brothers Kat, I think if that were true he would hit me.”
“Doesn’t he already hit you though? Well, not nearly as hard as his poor siblings when they misbehave.”
“I’m not sure…”
“Well, what about this-” Wham! With one hit Katherine managed to make Will wince.
“What? If Mat hits you like that-that would be a sibling whack.”
“No-he’s never hit me that hard,” Will said rubbing his sore arm.
“Then he sees you some other sibling way, how should I know, send him my love will you,” Katheryn said walking back towards the house.
If I am not a brother figure to Mat, what kind of friend does he see me as? Surly friends do not act as we do. Will was puzzled, pushing his thoughts off for another time to contemplate.
Sunday always felt special to Will. Perhaps it was the fact that he always got to see his friends and family smiling brightly in one place at one time. But, Sunday afternoons were now going to be the time Mat and Will could reconnect their friendship. Ever since Mat became sixteen, Will saw less of him. The jobs Mat undertook were absorbing more and more of his time. So, naturally Will became excited to see his old friend on a regular basis. “William, hurry up why don’t you? We’ll be late for service,” Papa Varian called to Will from down the stairs. William finished buttoning up his best cotton long sleeved shirt. He wore simple black cotton pants, the only pair he had. His other pants were always wool; they lasted longer than cotton, as well as warm during the winter seasons. Will’s family wasn’t poor, they simply saved money for more important things; such as, food, farm repairs, and Papa Varian’s growing alcohol consumption.
The Varian family had two carts, one shoddy one for pulling Will’s produce and work loads; the other, a small black open carriage attachment for family journeys. Uncle Charles hooked up the attachment to their horse Luna. He stayed behind saying, “I always did like t’ah worship the Lord in m’ah own way, through a solitary walk.”
The Varian family waved him a temporary farewell and traveled down the main dirt road to their church. It took them roughly a half hour to reach their town. The journey felt only like a matter of minutes to Will, he was contemplating what to teach Mat in english that day. After some time, they all arrived at the church, it was a one room building with a steeple, a small bell resided within the steeple. The church lay west of Jackson. When the Varians arrived, Will saw a startling figure.
“Oh, Will-William! How are you today?” Linnea called out, waving to Will as they halted their carriage.
“I am swell Linnea… How do you fair this day?” Will almost bore himself with his own inquiry.
“Just fine… Um, I like your shirt.”
“Thank you, my mother wove it herself.”
“Oh wow really?”
“Yes, she does not believe in manufactured clothing from the big cities, says it strips away natural talent and craftsmanship.”
“Your mother is ever so kind,” Linnea said while waving to Misses Varian.
“Well… I believe we should go in,” Will looked desperately around for someone to rescue him.
In a split second Katheryn intruded brushing Will aside, almost sensing his distress, “How are you today Linnea?! My-my where is your father? Is he ill? I do hope not, he is an ever gentle and kind man, one who-” Will strode past the two ladies into the church thankful for Katheryn’s save, everyone was bustling around waiting to take a seat. When people eventually settled down, Katheryn floated onto the seat beside William with a large smirk on her face. “You owe me,” she said to Will winking.
The service felt longer than usual to Will, perhaps it was the unbearable heat of a late August day in Ohio that did the trick. He looked around the small church browsing for Mat, instead he caught the gaze of Linnea beaming at him.
He immediately whipped his head back around with a startled expression. Once Will stopped spacing out, he actually heard the pastor’s words and perked up.
“Folks, before we deliberate here today, let me call attention to the current events in our great nation. I know ever since our government agreed to the Compromise of 1850, we as citizens must abide by the law to aid any law enforcers in the recapture of runaway slaves. This has been law for ten years now. However, let me ask ya’ll this, did Jochebed, Moses’ mother, give up her child to the Egyptians even though it was commanded by Pharaoh Ramesses? NO! Did not God himself lead the Jewish people out of Egypt even though it was the law for them to be slaves? I implore ya’ll, remember to show kindness and love to those who are unjustly being held. Slavery may be legal today, but by God it can easily be illegal tomorrow! Let us pray this next presidential election brings us a strong, God fearing man to Congress.”
After the pastor asked for silence from the attendants and for heads to be bowed, Will began thinking hard about slavery. The pastor makes since, God led his people out from Egypt, surely he could just as easily lead the American slaves from the South, right?
As Will and his family deliberated from the church, Mat came from a bench behind him grabbing his arm. “You hear that?” Mat asked Will, “Even the pastor is on the side of freedom!”
“Yes, he makes valid points.”
“Valid? Just, valid? He makes perfect sense, I pray to God that in two months we’ll pick a president ready to abolish it. Slavery is evil.”
“Oh dear, have I started you on your political and moral rant?”
“Rant? I don’t rant.”
“I am sorry, you have strong and honorable opinions Mathew, I can not say the same for every man though.”
Before Will or Mat could say one more word, Linnea sprang into their conversation uninvited.
“Oh wow wasn’t that just great?! I loved that sermon, hello Mathew, how are you?”
Mat was quite for a few seconds, a sneer slowly grew on his face.
“I don’t like being called ‘Mathew’”
“I-I’m sorry, I heard William call you that and I-”
“Well, only William refers me by that is all,” Mat said trying to loosen his tone as he slung his arm around Will’s neck and onto his shoulder.
Mat leaned on Will’s shoulder forcing a fake chuckle.
“Oh, well it must be a male friend gesture that I’m failing to grasp,” Linnea said jokingly.
“We must be going now, busy day ahead of us Will.”
“Um what are you two up to then?”
Will mumbled as Mat filled in his sentences for him.
“Will is teaching me some english, you know, quality friend time-but hey! We’ll see you next week won’t we?” Mat finished, suppressing his sneer still while pulling Will away.
The boys started walking away from Linnea and towards both of their families.
“I really dislike that girl, she’s so… Irritating,” Mat said crinkling up his nose.
“You should not be so hateful towards her, but thank you anyway, she can be very-”
“Yes, she can sometimes barge in on conversations unwanted.”
The boys waltzed up to both of their families. Mat’s mother and three siblings were there. He had a younger brother and two sisters. Mat’s mother had the same dark chestnut colored hair that Mat did. Misses Varian and Misses Weaver were both conversing until the boys came over. “William, I was just telling your mother how pleased I am that you will be giving lessons to Mat on Sundays now,” Misses Weaver said.
“It is no problem Misses Weaver.”
“Please, just call me Mama Weaver, I have known you for far too long to be simply called a ‘misses’.”
“Yes ma’am,” Will said bashfully now.
“Well, I guess we might as well go now, if you don’t mind?” Mat asked.
“Of course not dears, and do not forget your books Will,” Misses Varian handed the books to Will reminding him. Once the boys began to walk away, they heard the mothers continuing their conversation. They waved to Katheryn and Mister Varian, who were returning to their carriage, and continued past them. Mama Weaver ushered her children into her own carriage to continue her conversation with Misses Varian privately.
“So, I noticed that mister Weaver was not present, how does he fair Joanna?” Misses Varian asked.
“He worsens by the day, I fear for the family, if war truly does break out, Mat will leave us, and we truly will be a broken family. I do not think my heart could handle it, my-”
Will and Mat heard Misses Weaver’s voice trail off. There was a stillness in the air for a dozen or so seconds. Will looked up at Mat, he could see the suppressed pain in his face. Mister weaver had been declining in health for the past two years.
He could tell that each day was taking its toll on Mat. Will wanted to make it all better for his friend, it killed him to see Mat that way. Unfortunately, Will left the matter alone, he knew how Mat liked being the strong one. If he pushed Mat with questions of his feelings, he might break him. He thought it best to not baby him.
The boys headed there way to Buckeye Creek, which resided slightly north west of the town, and walked out of the range of the remaining buildings. As they weaved through the thick overgrowth they found a small island that gave a break in the creek.
“Here seems good,” Mat pointed out. The boys found a log to rest on as Will brought out his two books. “Now, let us begin with the alphabet, you… You know them all, right?” Will asked as politely as he could.
“Of course Will! Who do you think I am? The village dunce? I mean yes he licks the light poles… But he at least has nice dance moves I think.”
“I, uh… Um okay well let us just continue on and I will forget all about what you just said,” Will said shaking his head back and forth. “We will work on basic sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar for the first few months. I brought my old chalk board from school so that we may practice.”
“Excellent, I’m very prepared for this,” Mat said stretching and moving closer to pay attention.
The two boys went over a small schedule Will was hell-bent to follow. After a couple of hours, Mat began to be antsy.
“Is it hot out here to anyone else besides me?” Mat jokingly asked the trees around them.
“Mathew, it is always hot this time of year.”
“I’m tired Will, we’ve been doing this for positively HOURS.”
“Okay, I suppose we can finish for the day then.”
As Will closed his book and stood up, he turned around facing opposite of Mat to stack his books on the log. He stretched breathing in the fresh air.
“I feel as though I am forgetting something,” Will contemplated.
“What could you forget when you brought nothing besides those two books?”
“I do not know, but I uh-” Will stopped, becoming distracted from a rustling noise from behind him he crinkled his eyebrows up with suspicion.
“What… What are you doing Mathew?”
Mat was busy pulling off his last boot, then removed his shirt draping it over the log.
“I told you, it’s hot, I think I’ll take a dip into the creek, it’ll help me feel less drained before I have to journey home.”
Mat unbuckled his nice brown cotton pants revealing his light red long johns, Will felt uncomfortable simply watching this event unfold. Mat folded his pants nicely on the log, “You coming in? Might as well, nothing else to do today.” He continued to undress, unflinching and obviously not caring about being completely nude. Will whipped around shuffling his books unnecessarily. Will didn’t know he could become this awkward so quickly, his thoughts were swirling inside of his head.
Why do I feel so strange? This is what happens between friends right? Sometimes they go swimming, completely nude… Well, I cannot really be that foolish to actually believe everyone wears an undergarment to swim in. It is a natural thing, Adam and Eve were once naked and felt no shame, so why do I feel shame now? Because of the fall, it is vulgar now.
Yet, I do not really feel shame, do I? I-I feel, something… Something else-SPLASH! Will’s thoughts were disrupted by Mat leaping into the creek.
“Are you coming or not?!” Mat called out pushing his wet hair from his face. He took a deep breath and sank beneath the creek. Will threw his clothes off as quickly as possible, he wasn’t nearly as confident in his body as Mat was. He jumped into the water as Mat arose from it. “See, much better right? Even slightly warm,” Mat said smirking.
“I think it is cold,” Will said with a slight shiver.
“Will, why are you so…”
“Are you seriously complaining about my complexion?”
“No, simply wondering, I mean aren’t you the one that gardens?”
“Yes, it is not fair.”
“You’re fine the way you are William,” Mat said indifferent and slightly bored. He always had to remind Will of it.
The boys locked eyes for several seconds while swirling in the water.
“Mathew, tell me something?”
“You work, are humorous, well developed… Why have you not found a sweetheart?”
“Did you honestly call me ‘well developed’? You’re the funny one, um… I just suppose no one has caught my eye honestly.”
Mat looked away drawn in thought. Will, however, was plagued by a sudden reminder.
“The farm-I was supposed to head back after two hours to help my father repair a side of our barn! He will be furious if I am late!”
Will raced out of the creek in a storm, he threw his clothes on soaking them. They became lopsided on his body as he struggled to place on his boots. He almost fell trying to put them on, but Mat calmly caught him in time.
“Foot on the log instead? Perhaps that’d be a tad more effective.”
Will hadn’t notice much else as he grabbed his books trying to comb his hair with his fingers.
“Goodbye Mat, I will see you next week?”
“Yes sir, now run along before Old Sam Varian gets his child whip out!”
“Do not even joke about that,” Will said with a pained expression, for he knew Papa Varian had used the belt to discipline before. He ran off waving to Mat. As he continued on the road he realized he had no horse or cart, and that it would take a whole hour to get to the Varian homestead. He became worried of what his father might say or do to him.
Will had walked for nearly ten minutes until Mat came behind him on his horse.
“I found out that mother left me old Clara here in the watch of the pastor until I came back, want a ride home?”
“Yes please,” Will whimpered taking hold of Mat to swing him up onto the horse. A horse ride cut down their journey by half while at a trot. Once Will had finally calmed down, his mind began filling with images that he was too busy to interpret in his earlier haze. Mat had been standing directly in front of him at one point, dripping wet from the creek. He had not dressed before or during when I was dressing had he? Oh God… He had not dressed prior before me, Will thought. Why hadn’t he noticed that before? As that realization hit Will, he became disturbed as a twisting feeling arose within his stomach.
Perhaps it is because I admire the way Mathew has taken care of his body that I did not mind seeing him unclothed, Will contemplated. Yes, that makes sense, I simply wish to have a body similar to his, that is this feeling I have.
Will held on tightly to his books as the horse trotted forward. He began to slide not having anything to hold on to. Mat felt him slipping and grabbed his hand placing it on his waist. “Usually you hold me, and that’s how you don’t fall,” Mat jested.
The journey felt longer than if Will had walked. He kept feeling this strange glowing feeling in his chest, he pieced together that it was the remaining water on his chest evaporating. Yet, he had a small quivering feeling in his stomach that he just couldn’t shake the whole ride. Will felt stressed until they road up to the Varian farm. He knew these feeling were most likely worry about what his father might say if he were late. He dismounted the horse waving Mat goodbye. He headed up their muddy driveway to discover Papa Varian collecting tools.
“Ah, Will, a bit early aren’t ya?”
“Oh, well Mathew was kind enough to give me a lift home on Clara.”
“Very good, well, no sense in wasting the extra time, give me a hand would ya.”
Will felt glad that he could bond with his father while he was in a good mood. They patched a hole critters gnawed through to search for spare food the prior night. Once they were finished, they returned indoors where Misses Varian’s pot roast, mixed vegetables, and mashed potatoes awaited them. Papa Varian pecked Misses Varian’s cheek. Afterward, they said their prayers and went to bed.
The next week was dull for Will, he planted several crops, making sure he had an interval of constant produce to bring Mister Greene each week. Later that week, Will was gardening like most days. He lifted up to stretch his back, leaning on his rake he saw something in the distance. He squinted realizing it was a man running towards him. Will started wandering if he should be startled. He leaned off of his rake gripping it a little tighter.
The man slowed down as he approached him, his face was riddled with fear. Will noticed that he had marks on his wrists. This individual was less a man and more a boy. Will saw his rags and knew immediately that he was a runaway slave.
“I will not hurt you, my name is Will, what is yours?”
“Joseph s’uh,” Joseph said standing up straighter.
“Are you in some kind of trouble? Do you need my help?”
“That’s awful kind of you Will, but I’m not so sure if that’s a good idea.”
They could both here faint barking in the distance now.
“This way, follow me-quickly!”
Without a second thought, Will waved him on running towards his family’s barn. He pushed open the barn door racing through to confirm no one was there. He beckoned Joseph to come in. Will told Joseph to hide in the rafters where he could easily be tucked away out of site. As Joseph started climbing a latter to get to the top loft, he asked Will a question.
“Excuse me for asking you this s’uh, but why are you aidin’ me in my escape?”
“I… Well, I suppose it is my Christian duty to help those truly in need, and your need seems dire about now.”
Joseph beamed at Will climbing up the latter. Will, on the other hand, ran out closing the barn door. He grabbed a sack of pepper seeds to make his arrival back at his garden appear more natural. When he got back to his garden, the barking noise became louder, and louder. He began to sweat nervously, he was thankful that it was so hot outside that it didn’t make him seem suspicious.
Will began raking a small patch of open dirt, then sprinkled pepper seeds over the open ground. As he began to pat it down, three men on horses appeared from the far tree line facing him. He saw a team of four hounds accompanying the men. Will did his best to act surprised by their arrival. The men approached him and one of them spoke up for the rest, he was obviously the leader of this posse.
“Hello, I’m sheriff Jasper of Tennessee, these two men are Ohio Marshals assisting me in the recapture of a fugitive runaway slave, and you are?”
“I-uh-um, I’m William Varian, this here is my father’s farm, would you like to speak with him?”
“Very well, take us to your father, and make it quick.”
Will trotted back to the house accompanied by the three men. Sheriff Jasper dismounted his horse when they got to the front yard and took a look around as Will swiftly ran into the house.
“Wha-what? Yes? I’m over hear, quit ‘ur yellin’!”
“Father, there are three men… Runaway slave, they-they are trying to find-”
“Son, take a deep breath, who’s here and what for?”
Before Will could explain, Sheriff Jasper waltzed in.
“Lovely home ya’ll have here, sorry to barge in like this, but you see Mister, Varable is it? I’m trying to find a runaway slave, the family this particular fugitive ran from has hired me to ensure his… Safe return.”
Papa Varian wasn’t pleased. The Sheriff removed his ten gallon hat revealing his slicked back greasy hair, it made him look like a bug. His handle bar mustache didn’t improve Will’s perception of him being a con man.
“Well, we got nothin’ to hide, so we will of course help you apprehend your fugitive any way we can,” Papa Varian said blandly.
“Thank you kindly, we’ll take a look around and be headin’ off as soon as can be done.”
The sheriff walked away ordering around the two marshals, enjoying it a little too much.
“We cannot help that slime papa, we just cannot!”
“It’s not up to us Will, besides, it doesn’t effect us either way.”
“Just because it does not effect us does not make it any less important.”
“Yet, it is still law, now behave yourself!”
Will felt distraught, it was unfair, it felt inhumane. As Will hoped they wouldn’t find Joseph, he heard yells and ran outside. The hounds had sniffed out Joseph.
“Looky here, seems we found ourselves a rat,” the sheriff said pointing to the top of the barn. Joseph managed to climb to the top of the roof by now startled. “Now just give em a warning shot,” the sheriff told a marshal. One of the marshals looked solemn about the situation, and the other had a nasty smirk on his face. The one with the smirk pulled up his colt, drawing back the hammer and releasing it. The shot got Joseph’s attention, as well as the hounds.
“Now, you listen here, come down quietly and we won’t have to make a scene in front of these nice folks,” the sheriff called out.
He waved on the marshall to send another warning shot. As the marshall took aim and fired, the sun appeared out from under the clouds blinding him. Will raised his hand to block the sun looking for Joseph, instead he heard a thump off to the side of the barn. Will ran over to Joseph, he was bleeding out. “You IDIOT! You were supposed to shoot a WARNING shot,” the sheriff said throwing off his hat and stomped his boot. “This’ll cost the family so much money to replace their property when it should’ve been mine for returning him!” The sheriff stormed off back to his horse.
Will was holding Joseph’s head trying to comfort him.
“No-no-no-no-no, stay with me Joseph, we can get you a doctor, or-”
“It’s alright William, I may die now, but at least I died on free northern soil, I was tryin’ to get what my mama always told me was the American dream, the pursuit of happiness toward freedom. I will always remember your kindness, a-and… I at least I take comfort in knowing I can see my baby sis’ again.” Joseph closed his eyes breathing heavily. William felt crushed, he felt angry, he wished that bullet would’ve been meant for the sheriff. What did Joseph ever do to deserve this? He thought. Papa Varian picked up Will saying, “Don’t make a scene, they’ll think you were actually helping the slave, do you want that?!”
Will gave his father an icy stare retorting with, “No father, I am sorry I have been so selfish to morn the death of another.” He walked off shaking with rage. As he stormed through the front house door, Misses Varian and Katheryn were both riding in the carriage that was being drawn by Uncle Charles.
“Good Lord… What happen’d here?” Uncle Charles asked gasping.
Will ran inside flinging himself on his bed where Katheryn quickly followed. When he calmed down, he told her everything that had happened, they cried together. Will vowed to himself to make a difference. He finally understood why that radical John Brown tried to lead a slave insurrection in the prior year, maybe he was right, maybe the only way to cleanse the sins of America were through bloodshed. The southerners certainly need a wake up call, Will thought. That seemed to be the only option left in America. There would be no going back now.
A House Divided
William sold his produce the next Saturday. Hardly uttering a word since Joseph’s death, he startled all of his acquaintances during his daily routine. On Sunday, William breezed past the usual bustling Linnea. He didn’t much hear the sermon, all he could recall was something about planting seeds and yielding fruits. William thought he’d cry again, yet he felt as though he had not enough emotions to even to do much of anything. Mat watched Will vicariously from the other side of the church. After church, the boys went through their same routine as last week. When they peeled away from their families, Mat broke the silence brashly.
“What’s the matter with your mood? Will, I know you, you don’t get upset easily.”
They continued walking. Will felt like he might say something, but his voice choked. The wind was light and cool that day, and enough clouds in the sky to block the sun frequently.
“Will…? William, you’re startling me, will you not speak?”
“I-I… It is not fair Mathew,” Will said at last, looking into the darkened sky.
“What isn’t fair? Be more specific, you always taught me that, I mean, unless I was writing some mystery novel whereas I wouldn’t be specific to add suspense or something.”
Will, who had been looking straight at the sky, was blinded by the sun’s sudden reappearance. He moaned slightly rubbing his eyes. When the boys got to their island on buckeye creek, Mat sat Will down forcing him to explain what was happening. Will told Mat everything, and how angry, sad, and numb he was.
Mat stretched his arm around Will, forcing him to lean over so Mat could rest his head on top of Will’s. He gently stroked Will’s arm trying to comfort him.
Will felt that strange twisting feeling in his stomach, as well as that glowing feeling within his chest. He assumed he was finally feeling emotions again after being numb from Joseph’s death.
“I swear, President James Buchanan has only sat on his ass all of these years. People said that he was a well educated man, Secretary of State, a senator, and a minister to Russia apparently. Just goes to show that even an educated man may not always do a good job, not to mention that he was pro-slavery. We just need a good abolitionist president,” Mat finally finished sighing.
“Who is this Lincoln candidate anyway?”
“Not sure, I think he was a senator from Illinois, they say he’s the ‘dark horse’ because he came out of no where.”
“I hope he makes a difference, I heard from Mister Greene that Lincoln came to Dayton almost an entire year ago to give a speech, he actually said, ‘This beautiful and far-famed Miami Valley is the garden spot of the world,’ I so wish I could have been there!”
“Do you remember his whole name?”
“Isaac Lincoln, no that sounds strange.”
The boys pondered this for awhile as Will stretched away from Mat.
“Abe!” Mat said after some time, “Abe Lincoln, I remember now because people have paired this saying ‘honest Abe’ to his name.”
“Why is he so honest?”
“Hmm… I reckon it’s cause he’s been telling the truth about what needs to be done in the country. I hear he secretly wants to abolish slavery altogether, but he knows he’ll loose votes, so he’s tryin’ah keep it all hush-hush until he wins.”
“‘Tryin’ah’? Oh Mathew, we definitely cannot delay our english lessons any further today.”
“Oh Will, whatever shall I do without your help? I may not even be able speak at all unless you help me, surely I shall perish,” Mat said dramatically while throwing his hand over his forehead falling over Will’s lap. “I ain’t no fool ya hear me?! Don’t make me get out mah shotgun and kill you-you well educated city folk!” Mat continued, grabbing Will’s stomach until he made him laugh. “Now, see? It wasn’t so hard to laugh after all.”
“No, I suppose it was not hard,” Will said smiling.
After their lessons, Mat dropped Will off at his house. When Will walked inside his home, his mother was near their fireplace. It was close to their dinner table, opposite the kitchen, and in between two massive book shelves. Will’s mother had a book in her hands.
“What is that mother?” Will inquired.
“I finally got my hands on that ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It tells a compelling story of the hardships the slaves face.” Misses Varian lifted up the book examining it, then continuing saying, “I am so deeply sorry what happened to that young man, Joseph was it?” Will nodded feeling sad once more.
“Well, the Lord punishes the wicked, that nasty sheriff will get what is coming to him.”
Will smiled hugging his mother, he was glad that so many people were on his side. Over the next month, Will continued with his schedule, he was disappointed that he only looked forward to Sundays now, but he didn’t care, he felt comfortable and safe in his routine.
Soon enough, it was September twenty ninth, it was a Saturday, so Will was heading to market as usual. When Will was done with formalities selling his produce to Mister Greene, he saw Linnea.
“Hi Will, so-”
“Linnea, why do you always come up to talk to me?”
“I uh, um, I just suppose I like talking to you.”
“As a friend? Linnea, I cannot stand it any longer, but I cannot ever be anything more than your friend, I am sorry.”
“Oh… Well why? Am I not pretty enough?”
“It is not that, I just do not have any other feelings besides friendship towards you.”
“I am sorry to hear that… And there is nothing I can do to change your mind then?”
“I am afraid not…”
“Very well, I shall not bother you any further,” Linnea said trying to pull herself together as she walked away.
Will was sad that he didn’t regret being so forward with Linnea, but he really didn’t care anymore. He stayed in town awhile longer this day, for tomorrow was special. It was going to be Mat’s birthday, Will was excited because it was a Sunday, meaning he could give Mat a gift naturally. Mat had never liked celebrations, he was bothered with gifts and attention. Will didn’t much care about that either, he’d feel guilty if he didn’t get his best friend a gift for his seventeenth birthday. He walked by a pastry shop, remembering how Mat said in the prior month that he never got “fancy pastries.” Will bought a small apple cobbler. As he was walking back to his cart, he saw a nice pomade wrapped up with two nice shampoos.
I am not even sure if Mathew bathes at all… But Will ended up deciding that it was worth it, soaps weren’t terribly expensive, just no since in buying something “frilly” that some people could just make at home. Once Will had finished his little shopping spree, he felt pleased with himself.
The next day Will awoke excited. Kathryn burst into his room unannounced saying, “Will I hope you’re decent under there, but I have a little something for Mat.” She outstretched her hand holding a lovely blue cotton long sleeved shirt. “Mother and I worked on it together, he can thank me later by remembering my birthday,” She said walking out of his room smirking.
Will asked if the family could go early to church claiming he wanted them all to have breakfast together. He used a little more money he’d earned from Mister Greene to take them all out. Afterward, he left early to Buckeye Creek to lay down a blanket and to hide his gifts. Will headed straight back to church. Before the sermon started, he found Mat and sat next to him nonchalantly.
After church was over, Will and Mat walked outside. Mat broke the silence as usual.
“So, nice sermon.”
“Notice anything, different? About today that is.”
Will looked around saying, “I finally got rid of Linnea?”
“No not exactly, but now that you mention it, what did you do?”
“I simply told her the truth, her and I were not meant to be. Now, enough stalling, our lesson awaits!”
Mat seemed slightly disappointed at that remark. They waved goodbye to their families heading off. Mat decided to bring Clara this time. When they came upon their island, Mat tied up Clara to a tree nearby their island. That gap gave Will enough time to pull out his already prepared picnic. Mat jumped across a smaller space in the creek to get to the island. Once he walked over, he saw the picnic slightly blushing, saying, “I thought I said no celebrations?”
“Well, too bad! Now, get over here.” Will brought out his small basket with the cobbler. He had luckily remembered to bring forks. They both ate straight out of the dish. When they had finished, Will pulled out his gifts. Mat squinted while letting a deep breath of appreciation slide out.
“You really didn’t need to do this.”
“I know, but I did, so deal with it.”
Mat grabbed his gifts admiring his shirt saying, “Send your sister and mother my love, and… Wha-what are these? Are you trying to allege something about me?”
“No! I just knew that you had wanted to push up your hair, so I got you the pomade.”
“And the soaps?”
“Well, you need strong soap to get it out… Here let me-” Will said grabbing the pomade. He placed it in his hand rubbing it with both in a circular motion. He ran it through the protesting at’s hair.
“Will-Will come on, you’re not my mum.”
“Oh hush! Let me beautify you for once. There… doesn’t that look nice?”
Will brought Mat over to the edge of the creek to see a reflection. The pomade had used Mat’s stuck up crazy hair for good, making it flair up.
“The popular look now a days is slicked back Will.”
“Well, in your case that will not happen, your hair seems to never want to move down. Besides, I like it like this.”
“Now I need to use my soaps to get it OUT.”
“Do you seriously want to go swimming? Now?”
“Why not? Autumn season is almost here, we may never get a warm day like this again.”
Without another word mat began pulling off his shirt. And once again, Will couldn’t help but feel awkward. He decided to suppress his feelings and just take off his clothes, he didn’t dare glance at Mat. But why? I mean, we are both men, we have the same bodies… It is a normal thing. Will removed his boots, shirt, and pants. As he reached for his long johns he saw Mat tip toeing into the water.
“It… It may be a tad cold after all.” Mat said jumping slightly in and out of the water to warm up to it. As Will finished undressing and neatly stacked his clothes, he grabbed the two soap bottles Mat had wanted to use. Once he turned around, he saw Mat slowly sliding into the creek. Will felt as though the world was slowing down. He gazed upon Mat’s thighs, adjusting his look up and down. What is wrong with me? Men look at men like this all the time, right? Oh but they simply cannot! I feel… A strange desire… I am not even sure what this desire is, could-could it be-
Before Will finished his thoughts, he felt a warm rush sweeping through his lower body. He quickly pulled the soap bottles in front of his waist. What… What is this? It has never done this before. Mat had finally dunked below the water, and as Will turned around almost hoping someone would explain, he heard a rustling from the other side of the creek.
He heard Kathryn’s voice calling out for him. Will ran into the water with all haste. As he emerged from the cold depths, Kathryn came over their hill gasping.
“That… Damn creek, getting my dress wet, bastards! Those twigs catching on my-my,” she couldn’t finish her sentence as she looked at them with a sad face. “Having fun not wearing ANYTHING? Stupid boys, no-no not vulgar for them at all, but when I show my ankle all hell breaks loose!”
“Hi Kat,” Mat said smirking.
“Mat, I hope you were pleased with your gift.”
“Very, and how do you fair?”
“That… That is a joke? Never mind you, your mother wanted me to tell you two that when it becomes too cold to meet here for…” Kathryn peered at the two boys, continuing with, “English lessons, you can come to her house to study.”
“Aw, mum can be so nice.”
“Why are you calling her mum? You aren’t British, talk like a damn American, see you two queers later.” Kathryn walked away cussing up a storm as one could hear her dress snagging on more twigs.
“I can’t believe your sister would think that we were both weird or strange, how rude!” Mat joked. “Now, give me those bottles, where did they go?”
“I uh, have them here.”
“Ah, trying to hide them from me are you?”
“Not exactly no I-”
Before Will could say anything else, Mat dived for him. Reached down at random Will gave up the bottles. Did he… Feel me, I hope not, that may not be such a good idea right now, what with me being perplexed and all. Will tried to ignore what had happened, he didn’t even know what had happened to begin with. Mat was busy scrubbing his hair and singing a tune. Will had never heard Mat’s singing voice before.
“You are quite good you know.”
“Please, don’t make me blush,” Mat said throwing the bottle at Will making a small splash. Will used the soap now. The sun had gone behind the clouds once more making Will shiver.
“Cold?” Mat asked.
“No-no I am fine, just a shiver,” he said shaking more now.
“Don’t be an idiot, I don’t want you catching a fever, come on, let’s dry off.”
Will finished washing out his hair while Mat strode out of the creek. He grabbed two towels that he had brought from his horse, clearly he had planned for a swim day this time. Will couldn’t stop staring at Mat’s backside. Mat dried off and wrapped a towel around himself. Will peeled his gaze away feeling guilty. “Come on,” Mat beckoned. Will walked out of the creek shivering. As he shivered, he hunched forward drawing his forearms to cover himself somewhat. Mat threw a towel around Will’s shoulders rubbing up and down to create friction.
“Mhmm, Mathew I-”
“I, I think I’m ready to go home now, we do not need to study today, a birthday break is needed.”
“Oh, right… Excellent.”
Mat gave Will his usual ride home, and then waved him a goodbye.
Will walked into his home realizing no one was there. He decided to use that time to look at his grandfather’s books that he gave Misses Varian. Since Will’s grandfather was a doctor, their family had several medical books. He found a human anatomy book, looking around nervously he flipped through finding the male anatomy section. Will’s eyes slowly widened, he felt sick. Is my body really capable of this? Ewe… Oh ewe, why does that happen? Oh, well, that makes sense I guess.
Will continued until he discovered what an erection truly meant. His heart rate increased slightly, he closed the book. But, but that is supposed to happen with sexual interaction or… Thoughts… Will placed the book away on the shelf and took a seat rubbing his forehead. He was almost void of thought by now. After some time, he began to start a fire, the air outside had grown cooler with the sun dropping. Will’s sister and mother walked inside the house.
“Oh, Will, here you are,” Kathryn said smiling.
“Mama Weaver helped me and mother to stitch up my dress, we saw Mat, he seemed flustered, or somewhat disappointed. I thought you said he enjoyed his gifts?”
“I think he does, he might just be thinking of his father, or his work.”
“Okay children, your father and I have been invited to a dinner party at our friend’s house, can you manage dinner for yourselves tonight?”
“Of course mother. Pray, do tell us, is it my sweetheart’s homestead?”
“Why yes, yes it is. I will ask of his well being, shall I?”
“Please do,” Kathryn said smiling.
Their mother grabbed a shawl, and when their father came home, they watched him prepare. Will and Kathryn decided to start a game of checkers near the fire. Will’s stomach was starting to slowly settle, he tried to purge his thoughts of anything but their game. The Varian parents were done dressing by now, and headed out bidding their children a brief farewell.
“Kathryn, I do not believe I have ever even heard of your ‘oaf’s’ name before.”
“Ugh, not worth mentioning, but very well, his name is George Tyler.”
“Like that one British man?”
“Huh, yeah didn’t think of that, isn’t the British man some Baronet or something? Doesn’t matter.”
“Kathryn… Have, have you ever felt… Attraction for someone before?”
“Why do you ask?” Kathryn said raising an eyebrow now.
“No reason, I am simply curious.”
“Will, I know you, you don’t ask questions unless it has effected you. Now, if I tell you something, do you promise to tell me? Or at least keep this from mother and father?”
“Of course,” Will said leaning forward intently.
“I haven’t seen my oaf for over a month, when I say I’m ‘going to see George’ I’m really heading to the creek… Where this boy and I kiss, frequently… So, to answer your question, yes I have felt attraction.”
“Kathryn! That is so, devious, yet exciting.”
“Well, now your turn.”
Kathryn moved a checker piece ending the game with her victory.
“Come on, now you can’t claim that you are too absorbed with the game.”
Will hesitated, biting his lip.
“Technically you owe me one from saving you from Linnea that one time-spill it!”
“I fear that you will think less of me though.”
“Don’t say such things… This sounds serious, but can’t be as bad as what I told you. Here, I promise that if you said you’d murdered someone I wouldn’t even think lesser of you.”
“Fine… Okay,” Will took a deep breathe and continued, “Kat, when I was at the creek with Mat, I saw him naked.”
“Which is usual if you’re swimming right? I don’t see your dilemma.”
“Well, I got hard… Down there,” Will said holding his hand over his mouth.
“Oh… Well… So-okay-excellent… I’m sorry, this is a bit of a surprise is all.”
Will stood up facing away from Kathryn leaning on the fireplace.
“So, do you have, feelings for Mat?”
“I do not know, I was hoping you would know what they felt like, I had also hoped my feelings were just friendly feelings. Oh Kathryn, I have never felt this before, it scares me, what if-”
“‘What if’ what? Let’s just say you did have ‘feelings’ for Mat, why should that be so wrong?”
“Well, the Bible, I mean did it not say-”
“William! Is not our God a God of pure love? I think it is all love in his eyes, as long as it isn’t hate, or pure lust. Do not fret little brother,” Kathryn stood up hugging Will.
“When General Washington had a rag-tad army of just a few thousand, he brought in an experienced Prussian General named Friedrich Wilhelm Von Steuben. He was a brilliant drill master, he whipped our boys into shape. He was shunned by most of Europe because it was rumored that he fell in love with a man, but who took him in? Our greatest President to date, Washington admired and befriended him, that must tell you something. Now, maybe do some Biblical research? Pray about it? But just don’t ignore your feelings anymore, they’re natural if they are of love.”
“You are right sister, thank you for your understanding.”
Nothing was the same for the siblings after that day, they became inseparable friends and allies. Over the next couple of months, Will tried to keep a comfortable distance from Mat. Until Sunday, December twenty third, Will and Mat had begun to meet at Mat’s homestead for his lessons.
“Have you heard, William?”
“Since Lincoln has won the north, he’s won the election!”
“Yes, but the bad news is that last Thursday, the twentieth, South Carolina seceded from the Union.”
“Then all of our fears are coming true, there will be war…”
“Not necessarily, if Lincoln can take the state back, he may be able to save the Union, but I doubt it.”
They spent their Christmas holidays that year worrying about the future.
A total of 7 states seceded from the union forming the Confederate States of America in the course of just three months. They elected Jefferson Davis for a 6 year term, their government was more closely framed after the British Cabinet. Lincoln tried to heal the country, but it seemed as though everyone already knew that war would ensue.
During May, William knew his birthday was fast arriving on the eighth. He had church earlier in the week, he noticed Mat wearing his pomade every time now. Mat had worn his blue shirt this time, yet said nothing relevant to Will’s birthday. On Wednesday the eighth, Will was hard at work in his garden, the heat wave was allowing good weather for planting. As he planted new crops, a horseman dismounted, moving past the door and headed straight for him. It was Mat, and he had something in his hands.
“I have here a gift, you wouldn’t happen to know of anyone having a birthday, would you?” Will smiled. Mat pulled around a nice pair of black leather boots.
Will blushed saying, “This is far too kind, these are so lovely, thank you Mathew!” He gave Mat a large hug, then grabbed the boots.
“Nonsense, you were so kind to me last year, I felt the need to return the favor.”
They both smiled at each other as Mat began to walk away.
On April twelfth, 1861, Fort Sumter, which lies in the Charleston harbor in South Carolina, was fired upon. Mat and Will knew that war had begun. Four more states seceded after the fall of the fort. The U.S army was limited to around 7,000 men, so Lincoln called for a 75,000 volunteer army. On the other hand, the Confederates had been adding troops since February in preparation.
Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union, and stop the spread of slavery, while the Confederacy wanted to preserve slavery, and stop the spread of northern suppression. In this difference began the bloodiest conflict than all previous American wars combined. As Lincoln said in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and so it came to pass.
Don’t just remember today because you get a break, remember his message, cherish his memory, and show respect with love for one another not just today, but hopefully everyday #reverendmartinlutherkingjunior #respect #equality #love
New Years resolutions don’t exist, it’s a ploy by society to motivate you to get up off our lazy asses and change the flaws in our lives, you should always be trying to better yourself not because you did it out of peer pressure, just my opinion, but I can’t make an important point without some humor though… #newyear #newyearsresolutions #Skully #xfiles