Sample K15 from Ann Hebson, The Lattimer Legend. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961. Pp. 190-195. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,005 words 391 (19.5%) quotes 1 symbolK15

Used by permission of The Macmillan Company. 0010-1760

Ann Hebson, The Lattimer Legend. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961. Pp. 190-195.

Note: apostrophe missing in Harpers Ferry [0460, 0940]

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Beth was very still and her breath came in small jerking gasps . The thin legs twitched convulsively once , then Kate felt the little body stiffening in her arms and heard one strangled sound . The scant flesh grew cool beneath her frantic hands . The child was gone .

When Juanita awoke , Kate was still rocking the dead child , still crooning in disbelief , `` No , no , oh , no ! !

They put Kate to bed and wired Jonathan and sent for the young Presbyterian minister . He sat beside Kate's bed with the others throughout the morning , talking , talking of God's will , while Kate lay staring angrily at him . When he told her God had called the child to Him , she rejected his words rebelliously .

Few of the neighbors came , but Mrs. Tussle came , called by tragedy . `` It always comes in threes '' , she sighed heavily . `` Trouble never comes but in threes '' .

They held the funeral the next morning from the crossroads church and buried the little box in the quiet family plot . Kate moved through all the preparations and services in a state of bewilderment . She would not accept the death of such a little child . `` God called her to Him '' , the minister had said . God would not do that , Kate thought stubbornly .

Jonathan's letter came , as she knew it would , and he had accepted their child's death as another judgment from God against both Kate and himself . In blind panic of grief she accepted Jonathan's dictum , and believed in her desperation that she had been cursed by God . She held Jonathan's letter , his words burning like a brand , and knew suddenly that the bonds between them were severed . She had nothing left but her duty to his land and his son . Joel came and sat mutely with her , sharing her pain and anguish , averting his eyes from the ice packs on her bosom .

Juanita and Mrs. Tussle kept Kate in bed a week until her milk dried . When she returned to life in the big house she felt shriveled of all emotion save dedication to duty . She disciplined herself daily to do what must be done . She had even steeled herself to keep Juanita upstairs in the nurse's room off the empty nursery , although the girl tried to insist on moving back to the quarters to spare Kate remembrance of the baby's death .

Juanita drooped about the place , wearing a haunted , brooding look , which Kate attributed to the baby's death , until the day a letter came for her addressed to `` Miss Juanita Fitzroy '' , bearing a Grafton postmark . Seeing the slanting hand , Kate knew uneasily that it was from the Yankee colonel . The Federal forces had taken Parkersburg and Grafton from the Rebels and were moving to take all the mountains . Kate tried to contain her curiosity and foreboding at what the letter portended , at what involvement existed for Juanita .

Uncle Randolph and Joel had replanted the bottom lands with difficulty , for more of the slaves , including Annie , had sneaked off when the soldiers broke camp . Joel worked like a field hand in the afternoons after school . He had been at lessons in the schoolhouse since they returned from Harpers Ferry . Kate felt she had deserted the boy in her own loss . She loved him and missed his company .

Uncle Randolph had been riding out every evening on some secret business of his own . What it was Kate could not fathom . He claimed to be visiting the waterfront saloon at the crossroads to play cards and drink with his cronies , but Kate had not smelled brandy on him since Mrs. Lattimer's funeral . Joel knew what he was about , however .

`` You're gonna get caught '' , she heard Joel say to Uncle Randolph by the pump one morning .

`` Not this old fox '' , chuckled Uncle Randolph . `` Everybody knows I'm just a harmless , deaf old man who takes to drink . I aim to keep a little whisky still back in the ridge for my pleasure '' .

`` Whiskey still , my foot '' , said Joel . `` You're back there riding with the guerrillas , the Moccasin Rangers '' .

`` Hush '' , said Uncle Randolph , smiling , `` or I'll give you another black eye '' . He patted the eye Joel had had blackened in a fight over being Rebel at the crossroads some days back .

Kate had no idea what they were talking of , although she had seen the blue lights and strange fires burning and winking on the ridges at night , had heard horsemen on the River Road and hill trails through the nights till dawn . Stranger , Uncle Randolph began riding home nights with a jug strapped to his saddle , drunkenly singing `` Old Dan Tucker '' at the top of his voice . Hearing his voice ring raucously up from the road , Kate would await him anxiously and watch perplexed as he walked into the house , cold sober . What he was about became clear to her with the circulation of another broadside proclamation by General McClellan , threatening reprisals against Rebel guerrillas . She was taken up in worry for the reckless old man .

Kate drew more and more on her affection for Joel through the hot days of summer work . She had taken him out of the schoolhouse and closed the school for the summer , after she saw Miss Snow crack Joel across the face with a ruler for letting a snake loose in the schoolroom . Kate had walked past the school on her morning chores and had seen the whole incident , had seen Joel's burning humiliation before Miss Snow's cold , bespectacled wrath . He had the hardest pains of growing before him now , as he approached twelve . These would be his hardest years , she knew , and he missed his father desperately .

She tried to find some way to draw him out , to help him . Whenever she found time , she went blackberry picking with him , and they would come home together , mouths purple , arms and faces scratched , tired enough to forget grief for another day . He tended the new colts Beau had sired . He helped Kate and Juanita enlarge the flower garden in the side yard , where they sometimes sat in the still evenings watching the last fat bees working against the summer's purple dusk .

No one went much to the crossroads now except Uncle Randolph . They stayed in their own world on the bluff , waiting for letters and the peddler , bringing the news . Jonathan wrote grimly of the destruction of Harpers Ferry before they abandoned it ; ; of their first engagement at Falling Waters after Old Jack's First Brigade had destroyed all the rolling stock of the B & O Railroad . The men were restive , he wrote , ready to take the battle to the enemy as Jackson wished .

The peddler came bawling his wares and told them of the convention in Wheeling , Which had formed a new state government by declaring the government at Richmond in the east illegal because they were traitors . Dangling his gaudy trinkets before them , he told of the Rebel losses in the mountains , at Cheat and Rich mountains both , and the Federal march on Beverly .

`` Cleaned all them Rebs out'n the hills , they did ! ! They won't never git over inter loyal western Virginia , them traitors ! ! The Federals is making everybody take the oath of loyalty around these parts too '' , he crowed .

After he had gone , Kate asked Uncle Randolph proudly , `` Would you take their oath '' ? ?

And the old man had given a sly and wicked laugh and said , `` Hell , yes ! ! I think I've taken it about fifty times already '' ! ! Winking at Joel's look of shock .

Her mother wrote Kate of her grief at the death of Kate's baby and at Jonathan's decision to go with the South `` And , dear Kate '' , she wrote , `` poor Dr. Breckenridge's son Robert is now organizing a militia company to go South , to his good father's sorrow . Maj. Anderson of Fort Sumter is home and recruiting volunteers for the U.S. Army . In spite of the fact that the state legislature voted us neutral , John Hunt Morgan is openly flying the Confederate flag over his woolen factory '' ! !

Rumor of a big battle spread like a grassfire up the valley . Accounts were garbled at the telegraph office when they sent old George down to Parkersburg for the news .

`` All dey know down dere is it were at Manassas Junction and it were a big fight '' , the old man told them .

In the next few days they had cause to rejoice . It had been a big battle , and the Confederate forces had won . Jonathan and Ben were not on the lists of the dead or on that of the missing . Kate and Mrs. Tussle waited for letters anxiously . Joel went to the crest of a hill behind the house and lit an enormous victory bonfire to celebrate . When Kate hurried in alarm to tell him to put it out , she saw other dots of flames among the western Virginia hills from the few scattered fires of the faithful . They all prayed now that the North would realize that peace must come , for Virginia had defended her land victoriously .

The week after Manassas the sound of horses in the yard brought Kate up in shock from an afternoon's rest when she saw the Federal soldiers from her upstairs window . They had already lost most of their corn , she thought . Were they to be insulted again because of the South's great victory ? ? She remembered McClellan's last proclamation as she hurried fearfully down the stairs .

At the landing she saw Juanita , her face flushed pink with excitement , run down the hall from the kitchen to the front door . Juanita stopped just inside the open door , her hand to her mouth . As Kate came swiftly down the stairs to the hall she saw Colonel Marsh framed in the doorway , his face set in the same vulnerable look Juanita wore . Kate greeted him gravely , uneasy with misgivings at his visit .

`` What brings you here again , Colonel Marsh '' ? ? She asked , taking him and Juanita into the parlor where the shutters were closed against the afternoon sun .

`` I stopped to say goodbye , Mrs. Lattimer , and to tell you how sorry I was to hear about your baby . I wish our doctor could have saved her '' .

`` It was a terrible loss to me '' , said Kate quietly , feeling the pain twist again at the mention , knowing now that Juanita must have written to him at Grafton . `` Where will you go now that you're leaving Parkersburg '' ? ? She asked him , seeing Juanita's eyes grow bleak .

`` As you know , General McClellan has been occupying Beverly . He has notified me that he has orders to go to Washington to take over the Army of the Potomac . I am to go to Washington to serve with him '' .

`` When are you to leave '' ? ? Kate asked , watching them both now anxiously . Their eyes betrayed too much of their emotions , she thought sadly .

`` Tomorrow . Would you permit Juanita to walk about the grounds with me for a short spell , Mrs. Lattimer '' ? ?

`` Stay here in the parlor where it's cool '' , she said , trying to be calm . It would be better for Joel and Uncle Randolph and Mrs. Tussle not to see them .

Kate went back and reminded the kitchen women of the supper preparations . Then she took iced lemonade to Marsh's young aide where he sat in the cool of the big trees around the flower garden . When Marsh called to his aide and the pair rode off down the River Road where the gentians burned blue , Juanita was shaken and trying not to cry . She sought Kate out upstairs , her lips trembling .

`` He wants me to go with him tomorrow '' , she told Kate .

`` What do you want to do '' ? ? Kate asked , uneasy at the gravity of the girl's dilemma .

`` I could go with him . He knows me as your niece , which , of course , I am . But I am a slave ! ! You own me . It's your decision '' , said Juanita , holding her face very still , trying to contain the bitterness of her voice as she enunciated her words too distinctly .

`` No , the decision is yours . I have held your papers of manumission since I married Mr. Lattimer '' .