Hello and Merry Christmas! I am so excited to be doing the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Party again this year! I am so glad Faith (Stories by Firefly!) decided to host it!!! Last minute I discovered that I had a Christmas short story written that I had forgotten about! So without further ado, let's hop into Part 1!
Disclaimer: To readers outside the US, this story is About the American Revolution, and thus comes from a Patriot perspective. I apologize in advance if you do not care for the way British soldiers are depicted in this story, but their behavior is based off of research from both the Patriot and British perspective. It is not meant to offend, but to depict a sad reality of American history. In many cases, I have toned down the offenses in the story for reader sensitivity. Bear with me, I don't leave England completely out in the cold and I do think you will enjoy the story once a certain character is introduced.
Part 1: Captured!
No! No! he thought as he ran, his feet now numbed by the snow slipping into his ragged shoes. He sprinted into the woods, trying his best to put distance between himself and his pursuers. How could he had been so careless? How could he have let the guards see him?
“Halt, ye rebel! I say, halt, or I will lay ye low!”
The young man ignored him, sprinting through the November snow. Why did they have to have an early snow this year of all years? Then, it wasn’t early for Maryland, he supposed. He was a far cry away from his home in Southern Virginia.
And why, he thought bitterly, but for the stupid dream of glory and adventure. What would mother think?
There was no time to think of that. He had to put distance between him and the enemy. You shouldn’t have volunteered, his thoughts continued against his bidding. Why would Gen. Lafayette trust a mere lad with such an important task? And why was I so stupid to volunteer? What do you want, to die like Nathan Hale? The redcoats kill everyone they catch inside their camp, regardless of uniform.
“Ye can’t run forever!” his pursuers shouted. “We’ll catch ye! Even if ye hides, we’ll catch ye and fetch ye back. You know that!”
The young man panted; he needed to rest. Perhaps if he could find a snow drift to hide behind--
The bullets whistled through the air, flying closer and closer to their intended target, until at last--
The cry of pain announced the projectiles’ success in finding their intended target. The raggedly dressed soldier fell to the ground, pain jerking his slender frame. It wasn’t hard for his enemies to find him. They shined their lantern into his face, adding to his pain by blinding him.
“Look here now! It’s as I told ye! It’s a rebel! A dirty rebel swine he is!” The young man cried out as the redcoat bludgeoned him in the face with the end of his musket.
“Aye, but a young one and scrawny at that. The colonel will not be overjoyed at his apprehension.” A second musket crushed against his left eye. A hard kick to the stomach forced the air from his lungs. The red-coated soldiers laughed heartily as the lad moaned at their feet. The lantern was plopped down in the snow as one of the soldiers laughed too hard to hang on to it. The boy cried out, pain ripping through his body.
“Oh, come now, Laddie, it can’t hurt that bad. Fremantle, let us have him back to camp. I say, it’s getting cold out here. Twill likely be that the fellows will have us some warm tea when we get back to camp.”
“Rather! Let’s get the blighter back to camp post haste.” The boy was hauled to his feet and dragged back to the British Camp from which he had been fleeing. The commander met them as they approached the lights of the campfire.
“What have you, gentlemen?” he asked, clasping his hands behind his back and staring down at the whimpering prisoner before him.
“A rebel, sir,” Fremantle replied, giving him a sharp jerk. “He was seen fleeing the wagons, sir. We believe he was either snitching supplies, or—” he said, giving the lad a severe look, “—Spying, my lord.”
The boy groaned, his body pitching forward, nearly taking the guards to the ground. “Ye Yankee devil!” the other guard spat once he regained his balance. He dropped the boy’s arm and raised his rifle, intending to bring it down on the lad’s shoulder blade.
“Stay,” the commander ordered, his steely gaze never moving from the boy’s head. “Raise his face so I can look at him.”
The lad’s head was jerked back, revealing a bruised, bloodied countenance, courtesy of his majesty’s alert and too eager guards. The commander’s gaze bore into the rebel’s eyes, unflinching, unwavering…uncaring.
“Have the prisoner bound and locked up in the guard house for the night. I will hear everything in the morning. I’ve a kettle in the tent that most likely has cooled beyond drinkability already, thanks to this foolhardy youth. My slumber shall not suffer due to him as well.”
The guards saluted their officer and prepared to follow his orders. “Oh, and his wound, my lord? What of it, sir?”
The colonel looked with disdain at the yankee and pulled his lips into a cold, hard line, his black eyes snapping. “Indeed, what of it? I said, soldier, to lock him up, and that is exactly what I mean.”
“Yes, sir, right away, my lord.” The soldiers bowed and jerked their unfortunate captive towards the waiting cell. The guard house was nothing more than a rough-hewn stockade, large enough for a single occupant to slump against the wall. Lying down was impossible and warmth a jest.
Dropping him to the ground, Fremantle rammed the butt of his rifle into his back, pinning him against the mound of freezing snow. With an evil smirk, the second soldier shoved the lad’s face into the snow. Startled the boy tried to force his head back, but met with no success. After several moments, the boy’s body went limp. Fremantle felt his pulse, and satisfied that the boy still breathed, he grunted to his fellow, “On with it now.”
Coarse rope was used to bind the boy’s hands behind his back, followed by his ankles. His ragged shoes and holey stockings were pulled from his feet. The boy roused as they hauled him to his now bare feet. He shivered in the cold, nearly doubled over with pain as the careless soldiers bumped into his side, still bleeding from the second bullet; the first had struck his right leg. A piteous cry escaped his wind chapped lips.
“Ye’d best hush that nonsense, ye yankee dog. Wellington, I say, do give me a kerchief. I’ll silence this rascal for the night, that I will!”
In meager resistance, the boy clamped his mouth shut. This did not deter Fremantle. He forced the cloth between the lad’s teeth, the material cutting into the corners of his mouth. “There, that will keep you from disturbing the peace any more than you already have.”
A muffled groan spilled around the cloth and a second one was wrapped around the first until the redcoats were satisfied that his cries would not be heard. Then, without ceremony, they thrust him into the holding stockade. Instantly, his knees buckled, and he crashed into an uncomfortable heap on the snow floor of the cell.
Snickering and nearly laughing out loud, the soldier pointed and jeered at their prisoner. The young man hid his face from their mirth and tried with all his strength to straighten his body into a more comfortable position.
“Look at the yank,” Wellington said, giggling like an untrained little girl. “Can’t…even…sit properly!”
“What do you expect of a colonist? Around here, they flop out on the floor. They are far too lazy to even bother sitting like a native around a campfire.”
“Righto! He looks more like a deer waiting to be skinned. I say, maybe in that respect he is lucky! A deer would already be dead.”
“Nay, the deer would never have been shot.”
“True, true. How about that spot of tea, old friend? Shall we leave this fool to his misery?”
“Do, lets, good man. Lead the way.”
The door soon swung shut, and James Tanner, Patriot soldier, was alone, bound and gagged in the dark, chilly closet-like building. And there was not a soul who knew to care.
So, what do you think of James Tanner? What sort of fellow do you think he is? Think you can wait until Wednesday to find out more?
Tune in tomorrow for a list of my favorite Bing Crosby Christmas songs!
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Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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