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All persons here depicted, except public figures depicted as public figures in the background, are figments of my imagination and any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Her personal hatred was reserved for Lieutenant Charles Larson, Fifth New York Dragoons. His squadron was occupying her family's barn. What was worse, instead of seeing what an oppressor he was, he acted as if he thought of himself as a gentleman. He lifted his hat every time he saw her and complimented her just as if they were social equals.
Then the sad news came from Durham. Johnston had surrendered to the Yankees. When her mind was still reeling from that news, Larson passed by and tipped his hat again. This time she did spit.
"You need not do that," he said. "We are no longer enemies."
"You Yankees can laugh all you want about Johnston. Lee is going to go north any day now. Let us see how you feel about your homes being treated the way ours were -- the way you are treating Twin Oaks right this minute."
"You have not heard then?"
"The Army of Northern Virginia surrendered as well. Lee seems to have surrendered before Johnston did, but the news took a little time getting here. Now, that your heroes have seen the light, why don't you? It is not pleasant having a pretty girl spit every time she sees me."
She was so shocked she turned her back and hurried off before he could see the tears on her eyes. His claim must be false! It was true, though. Everybody was talking about it the next day. If only there was something she could do. When all those important men had failed, what could an unimportant woman do?
And then she realized that there was something she could do. Not about the entire situation of the Confederacy; Lincoln and even Sherman were too far away. But Lieutenant Larson was close, and he was vulnerable. If she stopped thinking of being a woman as a weakness, he was more vulnerable to her than he was to any man. Now all she had to do was to get him away from his troops.
That was one problem; getting a weapon was another. This was unlike the flirtations she had seen before the war. It was insufficient to make him look like a fool; he already looked like a fool. She needed to shoot him and shoot him far enough away that none of his squadron would hear. She needed a weapon, and there were none left on Twin Oaks. When she was young, there were hunters all around the plantation. Nowadays, the only gunfire was from combat, and the Yankees were likely to investigate those sounds. Maybe she could use a knife. That way, she would not need to go so far.
Then she shook herself. She had no weapon; she even had no horse left. She had none. Larson had both. He could provide the weapon for his own destruction, and the transportation to the place where it could be discharged without bringing his troops down on her. All she had to do was to be nice to him.
All? Being nice to Charles Larson would be the hardest job of her life. Still, Zach -- her fiance -- had given his life for his country; John -- her brother -- had given his ability to walk for his country. She could sacrifice as well.
She started off slowly. Larson, she called him 'Charles' as he asked her to, warmed up immediately. She could not tell whether her delay was caution to avoid his suspicion or reluctance to go further. Finally, he asked, "May I call you Bertha?"
"Well, Charles. You might as well. Not in front of my family, though. They might not approve."
"Certainly. And, Bertha, I shall always refer to you as 'Miss Evans' to my men."
"Thank you, Charles."
And, since they were hiding their relationship from her family and his men, her response to his first effort at a kiss was not the slap it deserved. Instead, she pushed him away. "Somebody might see," she said.
With her family in the house, his men in the barn, and darkies still living in the cabins, there was always somebody who might see. After a week, she led him down by the brook.
His kiss was ardent, and -- to her surprise -- as exciting as Zach's had been. Well, of course her blood was racing; she was beginning a dangerous strategy for her revenge.
Still, she complained about the chance of being overseen. The brook was not that far away from the house and the barn. "Anywhere I can walk, others can walk. My mare died at Chancellorsville, as far as I can figure out. With her died any chance of my having privacy."
And he suggested her riding behind him. "I can't mount your horse in front of everybody," she said. "People would talk. My mother would forbid it, and your men would gossip."
He turned from her then, and started walking among the trees. For a moment, she thought he was accepting her 'no.' Things were hard on a girl. She had to say 'no,' and men were likely to think she meant 'no.' Especially if the men were stupid, or Yankee. And Charles was both.
"Could you walk up here?" Charles asked. He pointed to a fallen tree which slanted up from ground level.
A smart girl knows when to be stupid. "People could still see. They would be even more likely to."
So he explained how she could get on the horse behind him by standing at the appropriate height on the tree. Now it was his idea.
"I shall try. But you must tell nobody that I'm going with you."
"Oh. I would never!"
With a little experimenting, they both fit on the horse the next day. Charles was in the saddle, and she sat sideways behind him with her legs dangling over the offside of the horse's rump. Even at a walking pace, it was a chancy and uncomfortable seat. She had to hold onto Charles. Since she did not want to be seen, they had to avoid the roads and fields. They traveled through the woods.
She was conscious throughout the ride of his revolver in its holster a few inches from her hip. She had fired several rifles and Zach's revolver twice. He had cocked it for her, but she knew how to do that. If Charles stopped the horse for a moment, she could grab his revolver and shoot him. She would need to shoot him in the back, but he was merely a Yankee. And, like that, she would get blood on her. She would have to burn dress, and could not afford to burn this one. This plan had more difficulties than she had thought.
She was also uncomfortably conscious of Charles' hard body inside her arms and against her side. After a little while, Charles slowed the horse even more. He started riding close to fallen trees. "I didn't think of this," he said. "It is all very well to get you out here, but we have to get you back, too. Do you think you could use that tree?"
Really, it looked rather uncertain. Not that she was anxious to get down and allow him to kiss her again. "I don't think so."
A little while later, though, they came to a tree that she could not deny looked usable. She slid off the rump of the horse and, holding one hand on Charles and one hand on a branch, stood up. While Charles rode off six yards to dismount and tie his horse where it could graze, she gingerly climbed down.
He swept her into a hug. His kiss was hot and insistent. Well, she needed a reason to ride out this far. And chaste kisses would not do for a reason. She cooperated with the kiss. Her heart was beating faster and her nipples were hardening against his chest. Let him think it was the excitement of his kisses rather than the idea that she had embarked on her own private war.
When his hand brushed down her back to her seat, though, she pushed it away. He accepted that. A tight hug, hungry kisses, his body against hers, that she would allow. Parts of her were private, though, and she would not allow him to put his hands there.
She lost track of time. The sun showed late afternoon when she left his embrace. "I need to get back," she said.
"True," he admitted. "Unfortunate but true. Can we meet in the same place tomorrow?"
"Not tomorrow." The pattern of previous flirtations agreed with her need to prepare for her coming battle. Never give them what they want. "I have duties, and I have been neglecting them. Perhaps the day after tomorrow."
"Noon at the tree?"
"Noon is too early. An hour after noon, perhaps. My mother takes a nap during the heat of the day after dinner."
"I will be waiting at the tree an hour after noon."
He kissed her once lightly before helping her up the slant of the tree. Then he fetched his horse and she got on it again. She clutched him as the horse ambled back the way they had come. It was policy. The closer she hugged him, the less he would think; the more evident her dependency on his support, the harder it would be for him to imagine her riding back after shooting him. It was support. This perch was really quite unsatisfactory. It was also a comfort. He might be an enemy, but he was warm in her grasp.
They got back to the first tree. He tipped his hat and rode off. She got back to the house. Her mother complained a little about her shirking her chores, but suspected only laziness. The next day, she had to do better. And she had planning to do after supper.
When she was in her room alone, Bertha looked through her old clothes for one that she could afford to burn if it got blood on it. This was difficult. Dresses she would have passed on to a servant before the war were valuable now. She finally settled on one that was too worn to wear, even in these distressful times. She had no underwear that she could spare. Slips and bloomers could be mended, even darned. Since nobody would see the cloth, nobody would see the darn.
When her mother went up after dinner the next day for her usual rest though the greatest heat of the afternoon, Bertha changed into the old dress and hurried into the woods. She took another outfit with her, even the underwear, and hid it in one of the first trees. When she got to the fallen tree, Charles was there before her. His face lit up when he saw her.
He kissed her once before helping her walk up the tree until she was at the right height. Then he mounted and guided his horse beside her. "Go the other way," she said when she was on he horse behind him. He turned his horse and headed away. "I want to be far from the house," she explained.
After a long journey, they came to another tree which looked likely. "A little farther," she said.
"Really? How could this be too close?"
She turned so that her left breast was pressed into his back and her right breast was just touching him. "Please." He eased the reins, and the horse ambled on. This was about as far as they could go without his getting suspicious, though.
She turned a little more forward and clasped him more tightly with her left arm. Then she stroked downward along his arm with her right hand. When the horse entered a glade, she removed her hand after the stroke, continuing down to his holster. The revolver was in her hand! And, after a hard tug, she got it free.
"Damn!" he said, swinging his arm back at her. His elbow hit her breast and hurt. Then he had one hand on her clasping arm and the other on her leg. He lifted and shoved, and she fell.
She sat up and tried to cock the revolver. Before she could, he had dismounted and run over to her. He pulled the revolver out of her hands. "Bitch," he said. "Trying to murder me?" He threw the revolver out of her reach.
He knelt on the skirt between her legs and pushed her onto her back. He took off his sword belt and threw it from him as well. "Now, Miss Evans," he said, "we shall see what you are made of."
She tried to push him away, but he grabbed her hands and held both wrists over her head with one of his hands. The other busily unbuttoned the front of her dress. Then he tore it wider open. "Ah," he said, "no slip." He incongruously removed his hat before bending his face down to her now-naked breasts.
"I shall scream," she said.
"Go right ahead."
So she did scream as loudly as she could while he licked and sucked on her left nipple. When he nipped the right one, her scream turned to a gasp of surprise.
"You wanted to get far enough away that no-one would hear a shot. I understand that now. Well, shots can be heard from much farther away than screams can."
When he raised himself up off her skirt and started to push it up, she tore her hands out of his and started beating him around the head. He ignored that. His hand touched her where no man ever had. "Ah," he said, "now we know what you are made of. Very nice." She began kicking as well as hitting him, but his position between her legs saved him from much damage by her feet. Both his hands were busy with his own clothes for a moment.
She screamed again, realizing his intent. He took her wrists in each of his hands and spread them out. He leered at her from inches away from her face. She kicked again, but it was ineffective. his organ was against her kicking thighs, then pressing against her softness between them. She felt it press against her again and again.
"Damn," he said. He moved her arms over her head again, and grasped both wrists with one hand. His other hand felt her most private parts. She felt him spreading her lower lips apart and his organ between them. "There," he said. He shifted his hand away to the ground beside her shoulder.
He felt his organ press against her, parting her lower lips. Then it ripped her apart. Her scream this time was totally involuntary. He moved back and forth within her for a moment and then stiffened above her. She felt him pour himself into her. While he lay on top of her for minutes, she felt him slide out of her. She also felt moisture leak out of her and down towards her seat. Finally, he got up. He looked at his organ, without making any effort to cover himself. "You should have told me," he said.
"Told you? Told you that you were raping me? I reckon you should have known that when I screamed."
"Told me that you were a virgin."
"Would it have stopped you?"
"But you said you had been engaged. You flirted with me something awful." Did Yankee girls sleep with their fiances? Did they never flirt?
He said nothing more, buttoning himself up in silence. He searched out his belt and scabbard, then his revolver. He cared elaborately for that before returning it to its holster while she buttoned her dress as best she could. He had a little problem catching his horse, which had strayed -- not having been tied. Then he led the horse over to where she was standing.
"We need a place for me to mount," she said.
"A place for you to get in back of me? I think not." He grasped her and pushed her, despite her kicks. When he let go, she was lying with her belly on the horse's neck in front of the saddle. He mounted and put his hand on her seat.
"Would you please take your hand off me?"
"No, he said. "I will put it on your waist if you stop struggling." Struggling? she had been motionless since he had put her in that undignified position which risked her life and limb.
"I shall remain still," she said.
And they rode for the longest while with his hand on her waist. The reins trailed over her seat, reminding her that his other hand was inches from where he had violated her. Finally, she recognized the fallen tree from which they had started. He lifted his hand from her waist.
"Reach up your right hand," he said. When she did, he grasped that wrist and pushed her off the horse with his other hand -- on her seat again. Why that bothered her, she could not tell; after all, that touch was the least of her defilements this day. His grip on her wrist slowed her descent until her feet were firm on the ground. He let her go and rode off a few feet. "Can you get back to the house?" he asked. "You do not look like you have been out picking flowers."
She could imagine. For that matter, she was the one whose flower had been picked. She blushed at the thought. "I have another dress."
"Do you want me to get it?"
She could not change clothes with him looking on. "Just go away!" she said. And he did, tipping his hat to her first.
She got her bundle of clothes. She took it over to the brook and stripped. She washed herself as well as she could in the still-cold water of the brook and dried herself with her old dress before putting on the underclothes and dress from the bundle. Aside from the rips, the old dress was stained with mud, grass stains, and a little blood. She had planned to get his blood on it, not hers.
She got into the house without being seen, and changed her dress yet again. She spent some time in front of her mirror, satisfying herself that nobody could tell that she had been through an ordeal. Her mother made no comment at supper, and she thought that she had escaped any knowledge of her tragedy.
Charles, of course, knew. But she avoided him, not going where he was likely to be, snubbing him completely when he crossed her path. She spent two weeks believing that nobody who counted would ever know.
Even for a few days after her period was due, she told herself that it was merely late. Slowly, though, she adjusted to the truth.
Then Charles caught her on the lawn with nobody close enough to hear. "You are acting awfully haughty," he said, "for a woman who planned to do a murder. I could have reported you. The trial would have been by Union officers. You might not have enjoyed what happened, but it was better than being hanged."
"No. It was worse. You left me with a baby."
"Are you certain?"
"Who do you think it was? Do you think I play the whore all over the county?"
"I did not suggest that somebody else gave you a baby. I know you were a virgin. But are you certain that you are going to have a baby."
"I will," she said, "if I don't hang myself first."
"Look. Let me think. Do not avoid me tomorrow."
The next day they spoke on the lawn again. "I said I was attracted to you," he said. "I am willing to marry you. Leave aside the question of the baby, how many healthy single men do you think will come back to this area from the war?"
"Marry you? I would rather die first."
"That may be your other choice. I can resign now that the war is finished. I shall return to New York. Marry me here and come with me to my home. It might not be as fancy as this was before the war, and we have to pay our workers. But it is still a comfortable farmhouse. Back home, nobody would know when we were married; here nobody need know when the baby arrives."
"I would rather die first."
"Think about it. I had to think about it. As I said, you have very few choices."
She thought about it. She thought about how hateful he was, and how she would have to live surrounded by Yankees and nobody else. On the other hand, if she were going to be a scandal, then having nobody who mattered see her might be an improvement. And he might keep his promise that people where she would live would not know that the baby came too soon after the wedding. For that matter, even here, that was a minor scandal. On the other hand, having a baby and no wedding was a major scandal, it made the woman white trash.
And she had damn few prospects. Twin Oaks could provide much less dowry than it would have before the War. Father doubted that he would be able to hold on to any part of it; and, of course, most of its wealth, the slaves, had been stolen. John, who had first claim, would have been hard-pressed to handle even the old plantation in his present physical condition.
But having Charles treat her as he had treated her in the glade! And doing so every night. Still, other women endured -- some women even enjoyed it. And everyone knew that the first time hurt. It probably would never hurt like that again.
She was tempted, disgusted but tempted, when she met him on the lawn the next morning. He tipped his hat again. "If I did marry you, would you treat me the way you did in the glade?"
"If you refrain from trying to murder me, I shall refrain from hurting you. After all, I was provoked. But make your decision soon. I am not going to withdraw my proposal, that is not what I mean. But figure time for the engagement, and the wedding, and my resigning my commission. The trip will be a rough one, with all the railroads cut. We do not want it to be harder on you than is necessary.
"Very well, I accept."
"Thank you. I think it proper for an engaged couple to kiss. Do you agree?"
"Very well." His kiss, though, was not like the rough ones of the glade, not even like the demanding ones in the woods. It was a chaste meeting of mouths. As he stepped back, he took her hand and brought it to his mouth.
"Probably you should tell your mother. I have a letter to write to my colonel as well. Normally, he would not be told of an engagement, but I need to ask for a speedy acceptance of my resignation."
"I shall tell her after supper."
When she went in the house, however, her mother confronted her. "Bertha, what did you think you were doing with that Yankee?"
"Mother, Charles Larson has asked me to marry him."
"And did you accept?"
"The neighbors will not approve, but I suppose things like this are inevitable. To the victor belong the spoils, and they are certainly victors. There will be more Yankees taking our girls, mark my words. I would rather you had not been the first, but that is spilt milk. Come upstairs with me, however."
When they were alone in the privacy of the room her mother used for sewing, her mother closed the door and gestured her to a seat. They sat close together. "Now," her mother began, "there are some things you should know about married life. You know that the couple sleep in the same room, the same bed. You may not know the reason why. The man ...."
The End Bertha 1865 Uther Pendragon firstname.lastname@example.org 2004/05/29 2005/03/03 Thanks to Denny for editing this. For another story of a military man taking his way with an unwilling girl, "Duty" This story is indexed under: ETC. Stories not indexed elsewhere The index to almost all my stories is: Index to Uther Pendragon's website