Stobrod and the Georgia boy kept hidden in the cellar even after the meeting with the Home Guard. Albeit Teague and Birch were no longer a threat to them, Ruby insisted they do so for a while longer. At least until the war began to die down. Far away, the war still raged on, even though their personal battles were over with. The boy sat beside the elder man in the damp of the root cellar beside a keg of apple cider. The cellar smelled of mold and rot and damp stored food. Yet it was drier than most situations Georgia had experienced in the past year. He jumped as a rat scuttled past his hand, beyond into the gloom. His head throbbed from the beating he had received only a day ago. He had only seen the daylight a few times since then. He imagined his eyes had grown to popping out of his face to see better in the dark.
He put a hand up and touched the egg-sized bump on his forehead. The pain was intense, yet he did not complain while his friend lay beside him with a bullet hole in his shoulder. At least the old man's fever had gone down. He was still hot on the wet floor, but he seemed much better now.
It was cold. Frost seeped through the stony cellar wall, and Georgia could feel it in his bones. He wondered at the women's lack of good manners. He had been sitting in that cellar for over twenty-four hours and they still hadn't come down with any sort of bedding.
After he finished that thought, footsteps clunked down the creaky cellar stairs. It was that pretty girl, Ruby. He smiled inwardly as she approached him. She looked less happy to see him.
"Georgia boy!" She yelled. He stared. She knelt down beside him and hit him. He groaned as her fist made contact with his already purple and black eye. Georgia squinted though the dim light up at her face. It was not made any less appealing by her anger. Instead, her flaming cheeks and angry eyes had a dazzling glow.
"What was that for?" He said quietly as he tenderly touched his swollen eye.
"You lost our cow!" Her eyes glinted like cold steel. "I paid for that cow with fourteen cabbages, five sacks of cornmeal, two sacks of flour, two chickens…"
He cut in as she kept on talking, "I didn't lose it. I let it out for a walk, and when I went to find it, I was abducted."
"…a bushel of potatoes, and…oh." She blushed. "Well then. In the mornin', you and I are gonna look for her. I'll be here nice and early, so be ready."
Georgia nodded his dark head. She had a tough persistence about her. What she said was most likely the final word. He acknowledged and respected that.
"Good gosh, it's freezin' down here!" She said as if she never expected a cellar to be cold. She hugged her arms to her chest. Georgia nodded again.
Silence. Yet she still knelt there in front of him, looking anywhere but at his face. His eyes were fixed on hers, however. She was everything a woman should be in his opinion. Confident, tough around the edges, yet deep down he knew she was soft. She would never let on to anyone though. Being harsh was her armor. He suspected a difficult childhood, and after years of lying alone, she must have learned to shut out those feelings. It was something he could relate to.
Finally she spoke. "I could sleep upstairs with Ada."
Georgia raised an eyebrow questioningly, but she didn't appear to have seen him, so he asked her what she meant.
"If I slept upstairs in Ada's room, then you and daddy could have my shed. It's a lot warmer than this." She had never looked more uncomfortable. She wrung her hands and bit her lip awkwardly. Georgia supposed it was not in her nature to make such offers.
Then she suddenly straightened up. "Time to make my nightly rounds before bed. You can help my daddy to the shed then?" Then she turned and disappeared into the darkness.