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For My Nellie (standard:non fiction, 2270 words)
Author: Pitter PatAdded: Jun 26 2005Views/Reads: 2196/1569Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This story was rejected by the First Line Magazine because of the “sensitive subject”. While writing this I had no intention of offending anyone, but chose to write historical fiction… It is the story of an x-slave’s homecoming. All comments are welcome

As the warrior guided his horse back home, he pondered what the future
might hold. He crossed the grassy hilltop and pulled the reins. The 
midnight black war-worn horse quickly obeyed his command and came to a 
full stop. 

At the bottom of the hill sat a large white farmhouse with a flowing
porch surrounding the front and sides. Three lazy brown cows stood in 
the sunshine in the small corral behind the barn while chickens roamed 
the spacious front yard, busily pecking the ground. 

Joe pulled a crumpled newspaper from the pocket of his tattered jacket
and read the headlines: “General Lee Surrenders! The Civil War is 
Over!” He carefully tucked the paper back into his pocket and stared at 
the farm below. It had been three long years. Down there was the only 
reason he went to war and survived those horrible battles. So he could 
make a life with his darling Nellie. 

He feared in battle. He guessed all soldiers did, but he never was as
afraid as he was now. What if his Nellie was no longer there? All of 
his fighting would have been in vain. All the men he had killed would 
have been killed for nothing. 

Joe quickly leaned forward in the saddle, patted the horses' neck, and
squinted. “Someone's working in the garden, horse,” he said.  “Looks 
like... It's too far to tell.” 

He dismounted and paced the hilltop. The well-trained horse followed
him. Both horse and man stopped when they heard a rustle of branches. 
From behind a tree a large white stallion appeared. The rider was a 
one-armed man with a musket tucked under his good arm. His Confederate 
uniform sent a cold chill down Joe's back. In a deep voice he spoke, 
“Hello, boy. Where'd you come across the horse?” 

Joe quickly glanced down at his dark skin and the remains of his Union
uniform. “Good mornin', Captain. I trust you've heard the war is over.” 

“Yes.” Deep creases formed in his weather-beaten face. “The war is
over.” The soldier shifted in his saddle to look for a brand on Joe's 
horse. “Northern soldiers have decided to take home souvenirs. I hope 
that horse isn't one of them.” 

“No sir! I worked for Mr. Joseph Hale in Virginia for this horse. I have
a paper to prove it in my saddlebag.” 

“Get it. Slowly.”  The man raised his gun toward Joe and followed his

Trembling, Joe pulled a paper from his pouch and held it up. The man
motioned and he walked closer and handed the man the receipt. 

Lowering his gun, the man nodded. “You're from Virginia? What brings you
to Missouri?” 

Joe turned and again stared down the hill.  “The war took me to
Virginia. Down there was my home before the war. When the fightin' 
began I ran away to fight for our freedom.” 

The man smoothed his ruffled beard. “It's mighty brave, or perhaps
mighty stupid of you to come back here after running away from your 

Turning toward the man, Joe quickly looked into his eyes then lowered
his gaze. “Before the war I was to be married to a girl named Nellie. 
She worked in Mr. Gilpin's house and I worked in his fields. Mr. Gilpin 
was a very fair Master.” Joe paused and adjusted his hat. “Whenever I 
did something that didn't please his son Roger, Roger would threaten to 
sell Nellie and send her far away. We could never be happy livin' in 
the fear she'd be sold. I had to fight for our freedom.” 

The man nodded. “President Lincoln freed the slaves some time ago. What
makes you think Nellie is still here?” 

A slight smile appeared on Joe's face. “She told me she'd wait no matter
what happened. If they freed her, she promised she'd stay here or in 

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