A/N: Hey everyone! I got back from camp and I'm proud to say that I
*drumroll* took a shower. Yes, of all crazy things to do, I took a shower.
I'm so proud of myself. Anyway, please read and review, but no begging me
to change things that happen very close to the end of the book because then
I would have to change history, too. Nobody actually asked me to-well, you
know, but I'm just warning you. And thanks to my first reviewer, whose
name, I regret to say, escapes my grasps.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, because if I did I
would not feel the urge to write senseless fanfiction about them. I am
merely an eleven-year-old seventh-grader mourning HIM.
Chapter Two: The Beginning (Yes, it's only the beginning.)
Annie smiles indulgently at me, and kisses my cheek gently. "It's a
wonderful house Dauphin, I'm so glad that you favored this one over Mister
Whitten's rickety old thing."
I grin toothily back at her. "Yes, I really think that the architecture
is quite superb when compared to the others."
"Dauphin, wake up! It's time to eat!"
For some reason Annie's jabbing me in the chest with what appears to be a
"You'll miss breakfast if you lie in any later, and then we'll all be in
Oh, it's Will. "Okay, okay, I'll be right there," I groan, and open my
eyes. I'm lying in bed in that tiny old shack across the road from the
Kennedy Farm, and my brother's standing above me with a look that would
weaken a heart of steel.
"Out, you lazy lay-about, we haven't got all day, y'know." He seems to
struggle inwardly for a moment, then starts laughing like a schoolboy who
just stole a girl's bonnet. "You should see your face, Dauphin, really, you
look as if you got caught snitching doughnuts from the big crock." He
shakes his head and disappears down the stairwell.
I dress in a clean white shirt and a pair of rough work pants, and dash
across the path to the farm. It's just about eight in the morning and the
sun is well above the horizon, but Annie says that her pa holds with
relatively late repasts. I walk into the dining room, and nearly everyone
is there, except for Owen, Cook, and Green. Mr. Brown probably let him have
a bit of a lye-in. Huh, he might even let the Negro lounge around the cabin
all day if he wanted. I sit down next to Martha; she always manages to get
you the best parts of the meal.
John Brown clears his throat firmly as Cook and Owen walk quietly into
the room, their heads bent close as they murmur softly together. Evidently
I was right about Green.
"Good servants of light, we do ask the most Holy God to grant us the
power and permission to give poor souls deliverance." Mr. Brown goes on in
that vein for some time, until finally he sits down and lets us eat. The
food isn't bad at all; Martha's a fair hand at cooking. It's fresh wheat
bread with raspberry preserves and an interesting fruit salad comprised of
apples, pears, strawberries, and plums, then topped with yogurt from the
dairy down the lane. Mmm, it'd be really good with a mug of coffee, but
unfortunately we only have water and milk. I really should be more
grateful, but I'm a bit spoiled, I suppose. I load my fork with fruit and
pop it into my mouth; a burst of flavor all at once, and then a lingering
It's awfully hot up here in the attic, but "The Captain," as we are
supposed to call him, wants us out of the way. I suppose that translates to
"sweltering to death," but I'm not really allowed to complain. We have to
spend all day up here, playing cards or checkers, reading, talking,
reviewing the battle strategies of Napoleon-For God's sake, why do we have
to study Napoleon's tactics? I mean, it's 1859 and we're not even waging an
entire war or anything! Anyway, we have precious little to do and I feel
like I'm going to die if I can't get outside. It's like being in a cage
that's locked on the inside, but you don't have the key. Damn, now I'm
getting all philosophical. But the point is, we're like rats locked in a
pen. And my fiddle's back on the shelf above my bunk, all the way across
Oliver and I are on our eleventh game of cribbage when Green finally
decides to saunter up here. He's smirking like a smug little demon, and
he's wearing a shirt that I recognize as the one Martha made for Oliver
last Christmas. Green probably bullied her into giving it to him. He ambles
on over to the card table and peers at my hand. "Get rid of the four and
the ace, young'n," he whispers audibly, which is extremely annoying, as
Oliver now knows that I have an ace and a four. Besides, aces are great for
pegging. (A/N: We had to play cribbage ALL the time in sixth grade math. Go
look it up.) I restrain myself from glaring at him, but grind my teeth as
he glances at Oliver's hand and mutters something incomprehensible to him.
It's not my crib, and my hand's a bit average, not bad, not good: An ace,
an eight, a four, a two, another eight, and a six. Eventually I discard the
two and the six, trusting to hope as I generally do in cribbage. I'm not
very good at it; I'm pretty bad at cards in general.
Green lounges against the table, propping himself with one hand as I
completely fail to score hardly any points at all. He cocks a brow, shakes
his head despairingly, and strolls off like he's got springs on the balls
of his feet. Why does he have to be so presumptuous all the time? It's like
he's an old male peacock that doesn't know he hasn't got any feathers to
show off. Some folks just will never learn, like my old mum says far too
often for my enjoyment.
It's finally dinnertime and the Captain doesn't look happy. Maybe it's
that neighbor woman Annie told me about, the one who sounds prophetic.
We'll find out, I suppose, he looks about to start.
"My young Turks, I have some news that may be of an unfortunate nature,
but I fear that I must convey it to you." He scowls menacingly, and I
shiver a bit. He's disconcerting. "This afternoon we received information
that five of our recruits have backed out of The Plan, and are no longer
willing to contribute their efforts. I am very surprised, particularly in
one case, as the man in question seemed to be almost to be a warmonger, but
it is as it must be. I cannot sway their minds. You may now eat."
All right, now I am surprised. He didn't even say the prayer; can it
really be that bad?
I shake my head to clear it, and pick up my fork. Supper looks delicious,
smells even better, and I would bet Nate Farnsworth that it tastes near
heavenly. (A/N: Let's just say that Nate Farnsworth is the local lucky guy
in North Elba.) Scalding beef stew with gobs of potatoes and carrots, and
with scads of ground black pepper dotting the surface, steaming farls of
nutbread fresh out of the oven, and a garden salad with lettuce, tomatoes,
cucumbers, and drizzled all over with spiced vinegar. I could sit here
forever just looking at it all.
Annie lowers her eyes as I try to catch her eye. Something's not quite
right here; I can't quite pinpoint it, but it's definitely there. I get
this feeling that someone's watching me, and I whirl around. Owen grins at
me. "It's time to leave, Dauphin, the sun's goin' down."
I nod, and turn to the door, but pause in the jamb, and take one last
glance at Annie, her long chestnut hair flowing. Her eyes are closed but
they flick open and meet mine for a split-second that feels like an
eternity. They communicate everything that words never could.
Dauphin, she pleads, don't leave. Don't go with them, don't give in.
We stare at each other, her gaze full of longing.
Don't.let them overpower you, don't let them.take you.
I shake my head the tiniest bit and walk, painfully slowly, out of the
farmhouse. Even with my back turned I know she's watching me leave. The
shadows grow long, the sky's awash in flaming hues, and Annie watches me
from the porch.
As I climb the wobbly stair up to my garret bedroom I wonder what's
going wrong here. Why did Annie look at me like that? What made those five
recruits back out of the raid? Why do I even care?
A/N: Thanks for reading, all you wonderful people out there! Please review,
please! I really need some moral support here, ya know. Auburn Middle
School starts on Thursday, and I can't wait. Although it does means that
life gets more complicated. If you have read Mine Eyes Have Seen please
begin to break down and weep right now because today is when we have to
mourn for HIM because we should always mourn for HIM. If you haven't read
Mine Eyes Have Seen you should still start to cry because every decent
person in the world should. And I put the fruit salad in because I lived on
fruit salad at camp. Well, almost. And please, if you don't already, read
my other three stories, because I love having folks REVIEW my work.
Merry Christmas, to aaaaaaaaaall theeeeeeeeeee!