What it Means to be a Yankee Brat

A/N: This is my version of the sequel to an amazing book, The Last Silk
Dress, by Ann Rinaldi. None of the characters belong to me!

Chapter One: Across Enemy Lines

I knelt in the darkness, covered in mud and sopping wet. Lucien and I were hiding behind a patch of trees, waiting for Tim to give us the "safe" sign to cross into Northern territory-we were right at the dividing line. If only it was just a line that divided the people on each side of it. I've seen firsthand just how different things are. For one, it was freezing! For early November, snow was falling at a rapid rate. All I wanted right now was to be in a warm house like Tim's.if we ever got there.

You may be thinking, how on earth did I get myself into this situation? A well-brought up, rich, Southern belle now trying desperately to cross enemy lines, accompanied by a brothel-owning blockade runner and a Yankee artist? And I'm wearing trousers and an overcoat, not exactly becoming for a young lady of almost seventeen.

Well, it's not as bad as it sounds. The blockade runner is actually my older brother, Lucien, and the "brothel" he owned was a gambling house that the Confederacy shut down. As for Timothy Tobias Collier-a Yankee-he means so much to me. And I may be in love with him. The story behind all of this may seem intriguing and adventurous, but believe me: I went through some pretty rough spots. A balloon for spying, a semi-treasonous act, love affairs, a whole slew of little known secrets (including the one that I'm actually half-Yankee) are all part of it.

But just possibly-where I'm going will be more welcoming then where I've been. I stole a look at Lucien and he warily eyed me back. I could tell he was disapproving of the clothes, but traveling as a boy was so much better. Much freer, if I'll ever truly be free. Suddenly Tim ran back and motioned for us to follow. We crept passed the guards (save one) and quickly ran through the forest. We had done it. Tim seemed grim, no doubt feeling the loss of his drawings. Did he regret being involved with me now? Did any of us realize what we were getting into when we met for the first time, at midnight in Lucien's house?

"Tim, Lucien, stop," I moaned. "My legs are about to buckle." And they were-we had been walking for over three days, ever since the rag-tag Confederate army had captured our horses.

Lucien looked around worriedly. "We can't stop now," he told me. "Those sentries could figure out any minute we've gotten past. It's too dangerous."

As I glared at my brother, Tim walked over and put a sympathetic arm around me. "Well, I'll just have to carry you then, won't I?" He grinned impishly and swept me off my feet, both figuratively and literally.

Lucien looked astonished. "Susan!" he gasped. When all I did was smile sweetly, he tried a different approach. "Tim, I'm expecting you to be completely appropriate and respectful to my sister. Just because I gave you two permission to court doesn't mean-"

He broke off as Tim kissed me on the cheek. "There, Lucien old fellow, how's that?"

Lucien begrudgingly nodded, but still stared at us suspiciously as if we were somehow tricking him. He was taking his role as my guardian very seriously, considering how I had been brought up before by my mama. Little did my overprotective brother know, Tim and I had already shared far more intimate kisses than that. We just didn't see it fit to tell him. For all his unorthodox ways and rejection of the Confederacy's ideals, Lucien was still very much the Southern gentleman.

As we moved farther into Salem County, New Jersey, and Yankee Territory, Tim set me down and we all put on warm coats. It was so cold, the landscape so bleak. For the first time, I was beginning to worry. What if I hated being in the Union, hearing horrible things about my friends back home? Worse, what if Tim's family hated me? I didn't even begin to think about losing the two people in the world I loved the most-that would be too much.

Now we were passing well-off farmhouses and I heard Tim say, "That one to the left.that's home."

We nearly cried with relief. Finally, a warm bed and food! Tim's house was a nice brown one that clearly was well-maintained. We knocked on the door, and a girl about my age opened it. She was tall with long light brown hair and hazel eyes and wore a simple yet elegant dress, making me feel even more embarrassed in my baggy boy's clothes. I could tell that at first she was confused at the sight of three dirty and tired men at their door late at night. Then confusion turned to pure happiness as recognition struck.

"Tim!" she screamed and threw her arms around him. They hugged and cried and she could barely talk in excitement. I started, openmouthed, until Lucien leaned in and whispered, "Don't worry, she's his sister." He laughed at my expression and I blushed furiously. So far we were completely ignored.

"Who is it?" I heard a voice call from the hall. Suddenly, a woman and man appeared. They had the same reaction and ran to Tim. Then the woman- Mrs. Collier, I assumed-turned to us.

"Hello, so glad to meet some of Tim's friends. Come in!" Then the girl noticed us and smiled happily. I remembered her name just in time; it was Mary Beth.

Mr. Collier took our coats and after introducing himself, said, "You look dead on your feet. Please sit down, and we'll get you some food." I couldn't help but notice they had even more pronounced Yankee accents then Tim's and it was a little hard on the ears. Tim easily lounged on a chair in the bright, cheerful kitchen, making himself right at home. Lucien and I sat down awkwardly, letting the Colliers do all the talking. Earlier, Lucien had a blockade runner bring letters in, letting them now the situation. But they didn't seem to know who we were.

"I'm Tim's mother, and this is our daughter, Mary Beth. Our son." Mrs. Collier pointed to a gangly brown-haired twelve-year-old, "Jonathan, and our other son Martin is serving in the army. Now, Tim, introduce us to your friends here."

Tim sat upright in shock. "Mother, didn't you get.my letter?"

"Letter? What letter dear?"

"You complete surprised us by coming," added his father. "A good surprise, of course."

"At first I thought you were deserted soldiers!" Mary Beth laughed.

Tim seemed at a loss for words. Lucien formally stood up and said, "Ma'am, my name is Lucien Chilmark and this is my sister Susan. I've been friends with your son for the past two years. Sir, I don't know why you didn't get our letter, but we've traveled a long way to ask a favor of you."

Dead silence. Lucien's soft and drawling Southern accent was painfully noticeable compared to everyone else's. The entire family was gaping at us except Jonathan, who only mouthed the words, "Girl?" I smiled a little. He had a look of pure revulsion on his face.

It seemed to be the only impulsive thing to do: I whipped off my cap, letting layers of voluminous thick brown hair fall onto my shoulders.

"Hello, everyone," I began, "I'm Susan Chilmark, and I don't usually dress this way. We just felt it would be safer if I traveled in boy's clothes. I am also a.friend of Tim's." Now the dreaded words. Say it! "We're from Virginia."

At least everyone came out of their reverie. Mrs. Collier swept over to me and said, "Well, Miss. Chilmark, we must get you out of these clothes at once. And a hot bath. Mary Beth, perhaps you could get Susan one of your dresses for her to wear. You didn't bring any, did you?"

"No, ma'am. But you really don't have to-"

I was cut off by Mary Beth storming over to her with a look of rage. "Mother, how could you?" she hissed.

Mrs. Collier braced herself and answered, "Do as you're told. We have guests."

With a final furious glare at me, Mary Beth stomped away. Mrs. Collier watched her go, looking sad. "Well, come on then. We'll let the men talk."

I peered over to see Mr. Collier, Lucien, and Tim in deep discussion. I supposed I would have to tell Mrs. Collier why exactly we're here. I followed the kind and motherly lady up the stairs, thinking that she wasn't too bad. After a hot bath, everything felt much better. No one was upstairs when I got out, but a dress was laying on the chair for me. I put it on, realizing it would take a while to get used to the confines of dresses again. Downstairs, I thankfully found food laid out.

The family welcomed me in. "We've heard your story, Miss. Chilmark," said Mr. Collier in a business-like manner. "Of course we'll have you stay with us, at least until the end of the war."

Mary Beth jumped up. "What? Why? What's going on?"

"Mary Beth, calm down," her mother said crossly. "Susan's gotten into a spot of trouble down south-because of her family's Union loyalties-and so will stay with us."

Mary Beth slowly sat down, and said, "Oh.well in that case, welcome to New Jersey." Yet she looked unsure as she said it. I smiled back reassuringly. Now only one other person at the table looked unhappy: Jonathan. Through from what I heard from Tim, not much made him happy and certainly not another sister. Dinner passed uneventfully, with Lucien and Tim telling how we all met, how this whole situation came about.

"So, are you staying also Lucien?" inquired Mrs. Collier.
"Unfortunately, no. I have business in Richmond and it would look suspicious if I'm gone to long. Tim and I hope to leave tomorrow, though we would like some means of transport."

"Mr. Chilmark, are you trying to cajole us into giving you horses?" asked Mr. Collier sternly.

Lucien grinned ruefully; Tim said, "If you could."

"Why! Of course we will." Mrs. Collier smiled warmly, but I didn't even notice. Leaving? Tomorrow? But-but that was so soon! Lucien picked up on this right away.

"I'm sorry, Susan," he told me quietly. "But that's the way it has to be. I'll write every week, I promise. Do you understand?"

I forced myself to look into his deep, steady eyes. "Yes, I understand Lucien," I replied. Tim opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it.

"Susan-Miss. Chilmark-" he rasped. "I suppose I'll see you tomorrow." He looked around the table. "Please excuse me."

Watching him stride away, the Colliers exchanged knowing glances and once more I gazed at my brother, pasting his face into my memory forever. He looked so peaceful sitting there.and yet sad. When we got into our first real argument weeks ago, he warned me that doing the right doing had consequences. How right he was: now the consequences for my actions were smacking me in the face. And there was nothing I could do about it. Tomorrow the man I loved and the only family I had would be gone for who knows how long. I excused myself and went up to the room prepared for me. It was the first time in weeks I slept in a warm bed, but the sick feeling in my stomach made me dread the dawn.

As it turns out, I was shaken awake just a few hours later in pitch blackness by Mrs. Collier. "Susan, dear, they're about to leave."

I flung the blankets aside and bolted down the stairs. For once Lucien didn't have a thing to say about my inappropriateness of dress (I had on only a nightgown). Tim's eyes lit up as he saw me and we just stared at each other for minutes, it seemed. It was time for them to go. My throat closed up and I fought back tears. Suddenly, Lucien had his arms around me tightly. We hugged and cried, both of us too overcome with feeling to talk.

"I love you, Susan," he said. "We'll see each other again very soon, I promise."
"I love you too, Lucien," I said. "And I'll make you proud." He tried to smile and I noticed Tim standing there. Holding my gaze one last long minute, he strode out the door leaving Tim and I alone.

"I'll miss you," I said. He walked over to me and gently touched a strand of my hair.

"I'll be back for you, I promise. Just don't fall for any other Yankee men in this town."

I laughed, in spite of everything. "Don't worry; I won't. Don't you forget about me. You'll probably not care at all about me when you travel to all these places."

"I couldn't. After all, I still have the picture I drew of you. Though, in retrospect, you're also quite nice in real life."

"Why, thank you. Mama was furious about that picture, you know."

"Another good thing about it, don't you agree?" I tried to nod, but instead my lips found his and we kissed passionately before breaking apart.

"Goodbye," he whispered and took off out the door into the dark, dark night. It might have looked rude, leaving so abruptly, but I knew the reasons behind it. If we had held on any longer, he would never be able to go.

Chapter Two: Fish Out of Water

Early the next morning, I awoke and felt a chill never experienced before. There was an abrupt knock on the door.

"Wait a minute, please!" I pulled on a petticoat and chemise, nearly tripping over my shoes on the way to the door. I opened it to find Mary Beth, holding a cup of tea and smiling hesitantly.

"Good morning," she said. "I-we just thought you'd like a little something. After last night, I mean. It must have been hard with your brother leaving."

I could only nod. I certainly hadn't been expecting this! The two of us sat on the bed and I took a sip of tea.

"Is it just me, or were you slightly less enthusiastic about this situation last night?"

Mary Beth smiled. "Sorry about that. I was just.shocked, I guess. So much has happened in this war already." She broke off and stared at a line on her dress.
"Well, your brother doesn't seem to mind," I faltered. That was the right thing to say. Mary Beth brightened immediately and got a mischievous look in her eye.

"Oh, that," she said. "Yes, that's another reason I resented you. Even now, I can't let Tim bestow his heart on just anyone."

"What? What do you mean?"

"Don't play innocent, Susan. You know as well as I he's taken with you. And you with him, also, I think."

My pulse was out of control and I forced myself to laugh flippantly. "We're just very good friends. Ah would nevah want to take advantage of that." Whenever I pretended not to be nervous, my natural accent became more pronounced.

Mary Beth raised her eyebrows. "Ah see quite clearly," she laughed in a mock accent. "And I won't tell Mother or Martin."

"What about your father?"

"Oh, he won't care. He'd just be happy to have Tim out of the house. No, it's Martin you have to watch out for. He's a captain in the army."

"Tim's told me. He won't have anything against me, will he?"

Mary Beth hesitated. "I don't think so-that's not to say he's anything like Tim. He's dead strict about everything."

"Mary Beth! Susan! Breakfast is ready!" Mrs. Collier was calling up the stairs.

"Come on," Mary Beth said. I followed her downstairs, almost feeling happy. I think I've found a new friend. She could never replace Connie. But it'll be alright. This thing might work out after all.

At the breakfast table, however, I found myself taking it all back. A few simple words did it.

"So, Susan, are you looking forward to starting school in a few days time with Mary Beth?" asked Mr. Collier.

"Excuse me? School?"

"Of course," Mr. Collier explained. "A girl's school across the river. Your brother specially said he wanted your studies kept up."

"But I didn't think it would be so soon," I faltered. "I wanted time to adjust, before being sent into-well, a whole new world."

Mrs. Collier, more perceptive than her husband, picked up on the truth I so wanted to hide.

"You're scared, aren't you," she said with quiet sureness. "You don't know what people will think, or how they'll react."

She had hit it right on the mark. "Look, all I know is.if anyone suddenly showed up in Virginia with Northern accent, they wouldn't be treated nicely. Unless they were kin of a prominent family."

"Well, that certainly does make sense," concurred Mr. Collier. He heaved into the chair, thinking it over.

"Perhaps," began Mary Beth, "Susan could be part of our family. A cousin from Maryland-one with Union sympathies, of course."

"Susan Collier," I said. "I like it."

Mary Beth laughed, knowing all too well what I was thinking. "Mother? Father? What about it?"

"It's a wonderful idea," said her mother. "That way, now one would question her being here."

"This would also eliminate any investigation over the truth," added her husband grimly.

Mary Beth cocked her head questioningly at me, and Jon looked confused. They didn't know I was "wanted" by Confederate authorities, and I wasn't about to tell them that anytime soon. It was too complicated; the less they knew, the better.

The days passed quickly, the Colliers being both hospitable and interesting. Even Jonathon was all right, once you got to know him. Mary Beth was especially nice, and the thought of going to school with her made the idea a little more bearable. Before we knew it, we were packed and on the ferry over the river to go to the school.