PREVIOUSLY: The Derringer By Sally Madison

Words: 484
The Derringer
Sally Madison
They heard the horses coming down the road. To their ears it sounded like hundreds of them. Riley had warned her if the Yankees should become a threat, she should leave the house and hide. The house could be rebuilt, but his life would be nothing if anything happen to his Mavis. Gathering all the control she could muster, she yelled, “Get into the root cellar! Quickly!” Joshua, her goliath slave, froze working in the field when he heard the Yankees coming. “Joshua! Joshua! Everyone! Get to the root cellar!” She had to protect them from those Yankee monsters. Her tight-wound hair fell across her sweaty pale face as she ran, gathering mammy and the children. Finally they were all inside. “Quickly!” She whispered, “Move the potato sacks and pumpkins against the door.”
Shaking with fear, with eyes closed she prayed, “Lord what should I do? If only Riley was here, he would know what to do.” Trembling, with her fists tight, holding her apron, she was distracted. The small black child hiding under her apron, below her extended girth ripe with child, pressed against her leg. “What is that so hard against my leg? The gun, the gun Riley gave me, the gun for protection.” She reached through to her secret pocket. Riley had insisted that she keep the little derringer with her at all times, when he was home the last time. He was upset that he didn’t have a more powerful weapon for her, but he had previously given all his spare firearms to comrades-in-arms. Keep this with you always; you may need it against those Yankee monsters. The stagnant air was made pungent with the smell of dirt, sweat and fear. “What we goanna do, Miss Mavis? Those Yankees goanna kill us all,” whined Joshua. “Hush.” she whispered, “I hear something.” In a moment of clarity, Mavis prayed, “God, help us in this moment of need”. And with that, she directed the children behind the potatoes, women in front of the children, and men up against the door.
The soldiers had fanned out to search the side yards and the back yard. Surveying the property, the captain noticed the foot prints, both large and small, in the dust headed into the trampled grass which led the root cellar door.
Soldiers stood with rifles poised, while others pushed, hard as a battering ram, against the door and the sacks of potatoes and vegetables. Mavis, shaking, with the little derringer aimed at the door, prayed for a miracle. The door bumped opened an inch, then another inch. The force barely moved the pile potatoes, but pumpkins started tumbling, “Oh Lord, they know we are in here.” She took her position in front of the stack of humanity, each person trying to back into the walls and disappear. Another inch… “Oh Riley, if only you were here, what should I do?” BANG… BANG.

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