(wrote this right after watching The Conspirator, lemme know what you think)
The Girl Who Loved Lewis Payne
The girl was a Yankee, born and bred, her father and brother having fought for the North during the war. Nevertheless, she found herself taken with the young southerner who frequented Mary Surratt's boarding house. Eventually, thought it was practically taboo, the girl fell in love with the insatiable charisma and bright blue eyes of Lewis Payne.
He was handsome, charming, and quick-witted, and when the girl began seeing him in secret, she would never have thought him capable of murder. When at last he told her of his involvement in a plot to overthrow the Union, she at first thought it was another of his jokes. It wasn't until the very night the plan was to be hatched that she realized he was serious.
She begged and pleaded with him not to go through with it. Not only was it wrong and unjust, but if he was caught, he would hang. But he just smiled at her and cupped her face in his hands. With a kiss he told her it would be alright, that he would come back for her when it was over and they would run together.
So she waited. For three long days and nights she waited. Wringing her hands with worry, panic and worry building in her mind. When she received a knock on her door one morning, she knew he'd been caught.
The girl would attend the proceedings of the trial, listening to the witnesses' testimonies against him. Listened to how he had stabbed the Secretary of State within an inch of his life, herself unable to picture him doing such a thing. She then listened to his representative's half-hearted pleas for his life. Was this man even trying to save her love? Never once, did her eyes leave his. Though she could not deny his guilt, she prayed to god that his life would be spared.
But it would seem that her prayers went unheard. As the verdict of "guilty" and the sentence of "death" reached her ears, the girl felt her heart clench in her chest. But her love smiled at her from across the room as if to say "Don't be afraid".
But how could she not be? In the time following she knew nothing but fear.
She had not been allowed to visit him, and did not see him again until the very day of the execution, where he stood on the gallows with the other three conspirators to be hanged.
The girl pushed through the crowd and climbed on to the scaffolding. She clasped his face and kissed him, her eyes full of tears. He smiled sadly and told her he loved her as she was pulled away, their eyes remaining locked even as the hood was pulled over his head and that cursed rope looped around his young neck. As the executioner stepped forward to pull the lever, the girl once again found herself praying; his time that he would die swiftly.
Once again, her prayers when unanswered. She watched him him swing, struggling for life for several agonizing moments, forcing herself not to cry out, as she did not want her lamentations to be the the last sound that reached her beloved's ears. It wasn't until he finally fell still that she threw herself down on the grass and let out a wail as if her heart had been ripped, still beating, from her breast.
Many people died that fateful year. many more suffered. But none so much as the girl who wept on the ground at the base of the gallows. None would suffer so much as the girl trapped between her loyalty to her nation, and her love of a man. None would suffer so much as the girl who lost the respect of her own family, and the love of her life. None would suffer so much as the girl who loved Lewis Payne.