Let Them Try
By Emily Ann Putzke
“Lordy, Roy, did they send them Yanks all the way up here for you?”
Roy was sitting on the floor, his back against the wall and his leg bandaged. “No, ‘course not. How many are there, Fanny?”
“Two, four, six … at least eight or nine. Maybe more. They’re making their way up by the Porter’s plantation.” I glanced over my shoulder at my beau. “What should I do, Roy? What if they come here? What’ll they do to us? And you with that injured leg, how are you gonna hide from’em?”
“Damn Yanks,” Roy muttered.
“That’s not an answer!”
I sank onto the floor beside him. He yanked off his cap, revealing his tousled and sweaty blond hair. “Get me my rifle, Fanny.”
“I won’t neither. You’re hurt. Just tell me what to do, Roy. I’ll protect you. I won’t let them Yanks take you as a prisoner. Just tell me what to do.”
“That ain’t how it works!” His voice raised a notch and he struggled to stand.
“Ain’t how what works? Roy, you sit down this minute!” I pushed him down.
He sighed, then raised his cornflower blue eyes to meet mine. “What I mean is, I’m supposed to be protectin’ you. That’s why I joined the army.”
My heart swelled. “Well, ain’t you a sweet boy, Roy Garrett. But you and I both know that you can’t walk on that leg, so how in the name of Bobby Lee are you gonna fight them Yanks?”
He stared at me. “Fanny—”
“You just hush up, boy.”
A smirk tugged on the corners of his lips. “You beat all, girl.”
“You’ll teach me then … how to use the rifle?” I slipped my fingers through his.
He scowled, and my heart fell. “What are you plannin’ on doing with it?”
“Shooting some Yanks, I reckon.”
“No, I ain’t.”
He studied me, then clenched his jaw. “Fine. Fetch the rifle.”
I stood up, my dress billowing as I rushed into the room adjacent and grabbed the rifle leaning against the wall. I sat beside Roy again, and handed him the weapon. He glanced up at me. “You got teeth?” he teased.
I gave him a big smile.
“Good,” he nodded. “You’ll need ‘em. Hold the gun like this,” he formed my fingers around the barrel of the gun. “You gotta tear the cartridge with your teeth. See here.” He ripped the paper back and spit it beside him.
“I’ll leave that step to you, darlin’.” I grimaced.
Roy emptied the powder from the cartridge into the barrel along with a bullet. “Ram it down,” he said.
He held my hand as he showed me how to shove the rammer into the barrel. He primed the cap. “It ignites the gunpowder inside,” he explained. “There. You’re ready.”
I stood up, the rifle heavy in my arms. I peered out the window. “The ladies are gatherin’. We ain’t gonna let them Yanks invade our homes without a fight.”
“Fanny, please, let me go with you,” Roy’s fingers brushed the bottom of my skirt as I walked past.
“You’ll get yourself captured, Roy. I won’t let that happen.”
He looked up at me, his face ruddy. “Be careful, will ya?”
“‘Course I will. Someone’s gotta come home and take care of you, don’t they?”
He grinned as I pushed open the door and stepped outside into the suffocating afternoon. Just let them try to hurt my Roy.
Just let them try.
Just let them try.
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