I knew that Cabot and Robert would not be happy when they learned that I was to join them. And my thoughts were confirmed right when I saw an angry Cabot heading toward me. He seemed much more sober now but he still looked a bit disheveled. He pointed a finger at me,
"We need to talk." He pulled my arm and led me through the crowd until we ran into Robert who, coincidently, looked just as angry,
"Samantha, may I have a word with you?" His tone made it clear it wasn't a suggestion. Cabot looked at him,
"Not until I'm through with her." He stopped for a moment and glanced at him, "Did you just find out?" He nodded,
"Follow me." He did and Robert led us up the stairs and into one of the many rooms. Cabot had not let go until we were in the room and the door was shut. Then he reeled around and shouted,
"Are you mad? Do you think this is a game?"
"Sam, what were you thinking?" I said nothing. I knew better than to interrupt them when they were angry. Cabot crossed his arms,
"I will not allow you to go to war with us. Sam you are like my sister and I don't want to see you hurt." I squared my shoulders and looked them both in the eye,
"Then teach me. Both of you. Teach me how to properly fight so if I ever have the need to defend myself I can do so." Robert looked at me with pleading eyes,
"Please don't do this Samantha. We don't want to have to worry about you."
"Like I said, teach me. You two cannot protect me forever. Please let me do this. I want to help. I want to be with you two and know that I am not just sitting at home worrying my head off wondering if you two are alright. Please Robert, Cabot." Robert stared at me for a long time before glancing at Cabot who shook his head,
"No, Robert. Tell her no." Cabot's voice held a pleading tone. Robert sighed,
"Cabot, she is a grown woman and she's been asked by the general and the governor to join us." Cabot was getting choked up,
"But-but she can't… I can't…"
"Cabot." I put my hand on the side of his cheek and he covered it with his own, "Please, I can do this, you know I can." He rubbed my hand with his thumb and then kissed the side of it. Tears welled a bit in his eyes as he let out a little chuckle,
"You used to come running into my room and crawl under the covers with me when there was a storm. The thunder scared you. And I used to wrap my arm around you and tell you that in the morning there would be a beautiful rainbow in the sky just for you. You would ask me to sing to you and I always sang that old lullaby that my mother taught me." He sighed, "I guess I still see that little girl." I smiled at him and kissed his cheek. I turned my head toward Robert who smiled at me,
"Samantha, I would be honored to have you accompany us."
The next morning I missed Robert's speech because I was getting all my affairs in order. Should anything happen to me I left everything to the Shaw family. I left specifics as to what went to each family member. They were my family. They always looked after Cabot and I. Even before my parents died. They took care of us when Cabot's parents passed away when he was just twenty three and I was eighteen. They became my home. I sighed; I would miss this place dearly. But I was going to be making a difference and I was going to be with my two best friends. I smoothed out by navy blue trousers and white cotton shirt before pulling on a black vest and tying my hair back. I made my goodbyes quick because I feared if I lingered I would begin to cry too much. Mrs. Shaw held me tightly and I could feel the tears start to prick my eyes,
"Take care of him, please. I know he'll do fine but don't let him lose himself to the lonely life of being in charge. And Cabot, the dear boy, he will definitely need looking after. Though I'm sure you already knew that. And take care of yourself. You are a strong girl Samantha, but it's alright to let others in. It's alright to be afraid. And know that I will always love you like a daughter." A few tears streamed down my eyes as I pulled away from the sweet older woman.
"I will miss you terribly. But I promise to write regularly. And I promise to update you on how the boys are holding up." I wiped my eyes, "I'll make you proud." She gave me a soft smile,
"I know you will dear."
I saddled up my horse and soon I was riding alongside my dear cousin who was having immense fun making fun of me. "You realize of course that you won't have your own tent and that you'll have to share with us officers." I rolled my eyes,
"My dear Cabot, I do realize that I will not be living in a nice little room all to myself. I do realize that I will be living outdoors in a camp. And I do realize that I will be living with a bunch of men."
"Just wait until the smell sweetheart. Over a thousand men who don't shower on a regular basis." I did crinkle my nose a bit but quickly pushed it away hoping Cabot didn't see. I was wrong.
"Aha! There we are something that will bother you!"
"Oh shut up." We continued bantering back and forth for a couple of hours. Robert had only ridden beside us a little bit and when he did he didn't seem to say much. He was getting himself ready for his position as colonel, this I could easily see by his responses to us.
As the men marched through Readville Camp they were jeered at and my blood boiled at their words. They were human beings and did not deserve to be treated this way despite what their skin color may be. I have meet black people who were far smarter than some of the white people I've met. I said nothing for I knew that they were looking for a reaction. I kept my cool rather well.
"Hey look, they even brought a woman with them!" Oh boy. Here we go.
"Probably for cold and lonely nights." They laughed and I could see Cabot's grip on the reigns tighten and his jaw clench.
"Easy Cabot." The last thing we need is for Cabot to lose it and kill someone before we ever even make it to camp.
"They'll need something to do and what better entertainment than a pretty young woman like her?" I saw Robert's horse stop and I could see him visibly tense. He and Cabot both were getting angrier by the second. I rode up to Robert and I could see the anger in his eyes.
"Rob, keep riding. Ignore them." He didn't say a word but did as I asked. He and Cabot both were tense and remained silent until we were out of Readville and into camp. I got off my horse and grabbed my belongings.
"Sam," I turned around to see Cabot with his own belongings, "You looking for the barracks?" I nodded,
"I'll show you." I followed my cousin as we walked across camp, "You see, you're not an officer but you are a woman and we aren't going to make you sleep in a tent on the ground." We came up to a small building and walked inside. "So you'll be rooming with me and Charlie." The room had three cots and one was already taken. Charlie's bag was sitting on his bunk but he was nowhere to be found.
"This will be fine." He smirked at me,
"You sure you can stand rooming with a couple of stinking men." I put my hands on my hips,
"Cabot, I am perfectly capable of handling sharing a room with men. I've handled rooming with you and Robert before. Why should this be any different?" He took on a serious look and leaned against the door post with his arms crossed,
"Honey, that was when we were younger. And these men aren't all like Robert and I. To them you're a beautiful face with a body. You have to be on your guard with all men, not just the soldiers but the officers as well. I'm not saying you can't trust them but, they are men and men are… pigs. Plain and simple. Just stick to Robert and me until the men get used to the idea of having you around and learn to respect you." I smiled at him,
"Alright, I'll stick to you and Robert." He shook his head a bit, "I think you're overreacting though."
"We'll see." It couldn't be that ad could it?