Merry Christmas and welcome to Day 3 of Stories by Firefly's 12 Days of Christmas party! Today I am sharing Part two of my Revolutionary War Christmas Story, Expected End! If you haven't read part 1 (link coming soon!) please go do that first!
Part 2: Too Old to Cry
The wind howled through the cracks in the structure, whipping against James in stinging lashes. He grimaced and tried again to shield himself from the elements. From head to toe, his body ached and nothing he could do relieved the pain. In fact, the slightest move made it worse.
Something icy ran down his cheek. He shook his head fiercely. He was too old for that; he would not cry. Sixteen was far too old for childish pity parties, surely! After all, it was his own fault that had him in this situation. If only he hadn’t been seen; if only he’d been able to run faster; if only he hadn’t come out until he had full recovered from illness! Why had he been so persistent in going? Why?!
Try as he might, he couldn’t hold back the salty tears coursing down his face. His side and leg pained him greatly and blood continued to seep through his clothes and pool on the snow beneath him. He shuddered at the mental picture his thoughts presented to him. All that blood… He felt as though a hot knife had been thrust into his side and that the perpetrator was twisting in back and forth. He sniffed, trying to pull himself together. He had to think of something other than his pain and numbness in his hands and feet.
Unbidden, he thought of his mother back home. She would miss him if something happened to him. And something certainly would happen. If he somehow survived the night, he would be tried for a spy, and even if he wasn’t convicted, he would be shut up in the hold of some ship to await his death. He was condemned to die.
James bit down on the gag, a groan escaping him more so at the thought of his mother than from the pain racking his weakening frame. Another tear wormed its way down his face. She was a pretty lady, slender and short with brown curls and sparkling green eyes. James looked nothing like her, except for his slender build, which had been a curse to him his entire life. He was sandy haired and brown eyed, with a sharp nose and firm set chin that made him look defiant. Her nose was small and button-like and her chin was soft and gently. She was everything soft and pretty… and he was everything clumsy and plain.
His thoughts wondered to his father. Mr. Tanner had died before James was born. A carriage accident, he’d been told. Mrs. Tanner had been in the accident too and James had been born later that night. People said he wouldn’t make it; he was so small. But God had spared him for some reason and Mrs. Tanner said he was her little miracle. James was named for his father, James Hamilton Tanner the Second. “Sounds like an educated gentleman… a Free, educated gentleman. And that is what you shall be one day Jamie,” his mother had told him more than a dozen times growing up. “A free man!”
Mother again…and death too! Two things he didn’t want to think about. News of her only son’s capture and death would crush her. He could see her now, sitting in front of the fireplace, a few cedar chips thrown in for scent the way she liked it. Her itchy, but warm, gray shawl would be draped about her shoulders and her old, worn Bible would be in her lap. Her hands would cover her face, weeping and mourning his youth. Mourning the daughter-in-law she would never get to have, and the grandchildren; the son she loved who would never return home, never be free. Her tears wouldn’t be of self-pity… but anguish of heart and love for her baby boy and the future he would never live.
She had often shared her dreams for his future with him. She wanted him to go to a university one day, when they had saved enough. He was a bright boy, she had always said. He could be anything once they were shed of English rule. Then, he would marry, and they would both come and live with her so she could help with their brood of little ones. He would be successful in whatever he chose to do because he was smart and kind and smart and kind people are always successful.
So much for that, he thought. Mother, I’ve let you down.
He would never see her again. Never embrace her again… never hear her voice again, on this earth at least. It was more than he could bear. The tears came afresh, nearly strangling him. He tried to force them away, but he might as well have tried to free himself from the British stockade. If there was one person on this earth that could make him do anything they pleased, it was his dear mother. It was she who had urged him to keep up school when he fell into the lowest place in class. It was she that taught him the importance of learning to mend his own clothes, something he’d done quite often since joining the army. And it was she who had brought him to the Savior and instructed him in how to ask for His pardon. If only the redcoats were that forgiving.
But he could expect no mercy at the hands of his captors. These were the men who had captured his best friend Clint three months before. He shuddered as he thought of the report an escapee had brought them. Clint had been severely beaten and paraded through town to show just how mighty the British army was. He was spat on and condemned as a spy, something he was not. Then, they had taken him to a tree in the town square and hanged him until he was nearly dead.
Stop! He shouted in his mind. He would not allow himself to think of his friend’s end. It was too horrible for human comprehension. And knowing that something similar awaited him… his stomach lurched at the thought.
God, why? He prayed. Why couldn’t I escape? Why did I have to be caught too? Especially since I was trying to do something that would save lives! God, I need to get that information back to camp. People will die… Father, I don’t understand! It’s not that I’m afraid of dying… it’s just, I don’t want mother to hurt and I don’t want more of my people to die! Please, God, let someone figure out what the British are planning!
James viciously wiped his eyes against his shoulders. He shivered as a nor’easter blew in, leaving him chilled to the bone. He was still bleeding, but he could feel his blood freezing to his patched hunting shirt. This country boy certainly wasn’t used to the Yankee winters. He wondered what the fellows were up to. Many of them had thought him foolish to go off and join the Continentals when the Militia was right in their midst. But he knew the cause was the same: Freedom. And he felt he was needed in the main army.
In the big army, he could make a big difference, something he had always longed to do. He was never able to make a difference back home, pretending to be a soldier with the militia. They were all right, just not what he wanted. He wanted to see action, to see real men in battle. To meet the men behind the revolution. Men like George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Men who believed in God and what He could accomplish through them. Men like his colony’s Patrick Henry. And he wanted to be one of those men.
Now, he wished he had listened to his friends. They could have kept him from ridiculous heroics that he couldn’t carry out. They would have told him his heart was in the right place, but his health wasn’t. Why was he always trying to do more than he was capable of? Impulsive, that’s what his first sergeant would say. He was always doing this to himself, even when he was a boy at home. When would he ever learn? Well, obviously he never would now. This impulse would lead to his death.
What would his mother do once he was dead? How would she take care of herself? What if the British reached their hometown? Oh, he should have stayed home! There was no one to protect her now. Some son he had turned out to be. And all her dreams of freedom for him and herself… they would be void to her without her son to share it with her. She had said as much the day he left for war.
“Jamie, don’t you do anything foolish,” she had said, tightening the kerchief about his neck, as if doing so would keep him warm and prevent him from harm. “I want freedom for our country, out from under British rule, but I don’t want to enjoy it alone. You come back to me, you hear me boy?”
“Yes, mother, I promise I’ll come home to you.”
“And you’ll always read your verses in the morning and the evening.” It wasn’t a question; it was a statement. James had smiled as she tucked his Bible into his knapsack.
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll never stop reading my Bible. It’s too precious to neglect.”
But even in this, he had failed his mother. Tonight, his Bible was safe, tucked away in his knapsack in camp… away from him. For the first time since the war began, he would miss his Bible reading.
Be still and know that I am God.
James nearly jumped as the words came into this mind as clearly as if they had been spoken. I know You are God, he thought. My circumstances don’t change my faith.
Well, I’m not doing too good a job at that, he admitted. My mind has been anything but still.
Be still and know I am God.
James took a deep breath and exhaled deeply through his nose. All right, God. With Your help, I’ll be still. I’ll try to stop borrowing trouble and rest in the knowledge that You are in control. Please, help me to rest in you.
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
James blinked as the words repeated in his mind. Peace washed over him as the promise continued to comfort him. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Thank You, Lord. That’s exactly what I need, right now, he prayed. And thank You for a mother who taught me to value Your Words and put them to memory. Thank You.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
I certainly am afraid, Lord. Please, take my fears and turn it into trust in Your Almighty hand, Father.
James was growing drowsy. The wind continued to whip at his face, but he suddenly didn’t notice anymore. He felt strangely warm… and so tired…
What do you think will happen next? What is a scripture God has brought to mind in time of trouble? What is something important your parents have taught you?
Click here for more Christmas fun and stop by tomorrow for a Christmas Movie Review!
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!
Click here for more 12 Days of Christmas Blog Party Fun!
Nineteen years ago, one of the most vicious crimes of the 21st Century was committed against the United States. Four planes, hijacked by Muslim Terrorists, were flown into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the last crashed into the ground at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
This year, Kassie Angle and I brainstormed and decided to get together 11 bloggers who would post about this tragedy in American History.
We Haven’t Forgotten.
I was five years old when 9/11 happened. It traumatized me in a way I still haven’t gotten over. In 2011, I became enamored with researching the topic. I still don’t know all that I want to know, but then again, you can never exhaust a topic. But today, I’m not going to give you a history post. I want to share a story that I wrote in 2016 back about the Pentagon. Is it realistic? No, not really. At the time, I was just getting a story on paper and trying to express patriotism the only way I knew how. I’ve made a couple changes to the story, such as the amount of time that has passed in the story, but it is largely unedited. I hope younger me isn’t too embarrassed 😉
Why I Don’t Drive a Mustang
I’m Taking His Place
By Ryana Lynn
“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”
President George W. Bush
It was all a mistake. And a big one at that. I should never have gone to D.C. Everything in my life was just right. Everything. Life was perfect, and I had endless possibilities at my fingertips. After all, wasn’t I an honor roll student? Didn’t I have an academic scholarship to Chapel Hill Medical? But I just had to go to D.C. on that senior trip. And I just had to tour the Pentagon that day.
I had a black 1998 Mustang that I had bought and paid for. It was mine, and I cared for it and filled it with gas. I loved driving it. It was my baby. But on that trip, I realized there are far more important things in life. Of course, I knew living for God was the most important thing. I was a Christian and faithful church worker. I was the junior captain on my church bus route. I worked for our radio station on Saturdays as a volunteer. So I at least had that priority right.
Anyway, back to my Mustang.
I drove it to D.C. myself. Seems the bus had room for all but one person, so I volunteered to drive.
On our third day in D.C., we had to vote on where we wanted to go, the Pentagon, or the White House. Knowing President Bush was out of town, I voted for the Pentagon. That was the tie-breaking vote—mistake number 2. I drove behind the bus and parked in the visitor’s parking area. We got out and entered the building and toured the center of military operations. It was terrific, and I got to talk to serval servicemen while we were there.
We had just walked out the door. I reached into my pocket for my keys. I heard a motor blaring in my ear, and the next thing I knew, I was struggling to pick myself up off of the hood of a Dodge Ram Pickup Truck. My friend Ray was on the ground, screaming. I jumped down and knelt next to him. He was bleeding from his head, and his leg was broken. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, so my pre-college study came in handy.
When I finished with Ray, I turned around and saw that the Pentagon was on fire, and there were many people with injuries. I did not know at the time that a terrorist had purposely flown a plane into the building. The teachers were doing their best to round up all the students, and I went from person to person doing what I could. An injured soldier was brought to my attention, and I began to work on him. He was in bad shape, and to be honest, I knew as soon as they brought me to him, he wouldn’t make it.
He knew it too. He looked up at me, and my throat went dry. He wasn’t much older than me. “Take my place,” he whispered. “The World Trade Centers were attacked today by Terrorists. I’m pretty sure they did this too. Either way, we’re heading for war. Please, take my place.”
“Alright,” I said, “I will if you let me tell you about Someone else who wants to take your place in another way.” I proceeded to tell him about Jesus Christ taking his place and wanting to forgive him of his sins. I was privileged to hear him ask the Lord to save him.
“Remember,” he coughed. “You promised to take my place.” Mistake 3.
We didn’t get to leave the parking lot until late that evening. It was then I saw what had happened to my Mustang. It had been smashed by flying debris. I was perturbed, but the thought hit me: I had almost gotten into my car before being blown across the parking lot. I would have been killed. God had spared my life. Students were admitted to the hospital, and I was checked over for injuries. All things considered, we were blessed. A police officer deemed me a hero. I just shook my head.
Our bus was in good shape, but there was no way I could fit in there. We had too much stuff, plus crutches and wheelchairs. We weren’t sure how I was to get home. A Lieutenant in the Army found us discussing the problem. “You’re the boy who helped out the day of the trauma,” he said matter-of-factly. When it was confirmed, he said, “My aide and I will drive him home. We’re heading back to Ft. Bragg this afternoon.”
On the way home, we talked about the incident and expressed our outrage. The aide was a Corporal, not too much older than me. Of course, they talked about recruitment with me. I listened intently, remembering my promise to the dead soldier. Cpl. Bean talked up the army big. Out of the clear blue sky, the Lieutenant said, “You should be a combat medic. You’ve got guts. I saw you go into the danger zone twice to rescue people.”
I shrugged. “I couldn’t just stand there.”
“Yes, you could have, but you didn’t,” Lt. Michaels reminded me.
Upon reaching home, every Marine in the vicinity tried to recruit me. I steadfastly refused to join them. I’d made a promise. As soon as I graduated that April (I challenged the exams to get out early), I left for basic training. I was the youngest guy there. And who should be my junior drill instructor but Cpl. Bean. He didn’t take it easy on me. Instead, he pushed me harder. By June, I was deployed to Afghanistan.
That was nineteen years ago, and I’m still serving. I have a wonderful Christian wife, five kids, and twins on the way. I’ve been able to make a difference in more ways than one. I’ve been able to save physical lives and see spiritual lives saved by my Savior, Jesus Christ. I’ve even led a few locals to the One Who can give true peace and Joy. At the present time, I have no intention of stopping…I think I’ll be here until this war ends or they kick me out.
I drive a medically equipped convoy through the deserts.
I’m keeping my promise.
I’m taking his place.
I’m serving my country and my Savior.
Looks like those “mistakes” weren’t mistakes after all…
So that’s why I don’t drive a Mustang.
“Duty. Honor. Country.”
But the attack on September 11th, 2001, wasn’t the only historical event that took place on that day in history. 11 years later, on September 12th, 2012, another heinous crime occurred.
The Benghazi Massacre.
I’m not going to go into great detail on this. It hurts too much, knowing we had options at our disposal that would have given this event a vastly different outcome…and they were not used. (We need to pray more for our leaders to make Godly decisions!)
On September 11th – 12th, 2012, The U.S. Embassy in Libya was attacked by Muslim Terrorists. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and Diplomat Sean Smith were killed in the attack. Ret. Navy S.E.A.L.s Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods gave their lives, the only ones who stepped forward to defend them.
War was not declared on Libya or on the Islamic group that attacked them. Instead, our then president apologized to the terrorist for a film that offended them, triggering the attack (or so they claim). No action taken. Just an apology from the man currently representing the victims’ country. Another person responsible for sending them help (and didn’t) has thus far been let off the hook.
Justice has not been done in the murder of these innocent men. For the most part, they have been forgotten. We all have heard of Benghazi…but did you know the names of the victims?
I’ll confess that before I wrote this, I only knew one: Glen Doherty. In May 2018 at the NCHE Homeschool Book Fair, I met a man selling multiple history/military books. (Anyone surprised?) I bought three from him (for research purposes 😊) and one was a suggestion from the seller: Navy SEAL Sniper (not a recommendation. I haven’t read the whole thing yet.) This was the 2nd, and very special, edition. It hit the press in 2013. One of the co-authors was Glen Doherty. It was through reading the intro pages that I learned about his sacrifice on September 12th, 2012. I encourage you to read up on Benghazi. We must not forget the 2nd 9/11…and we must not forget the men who gave their lives. I haven’t forgotten.
I’d like to thank all the girls who pitched in to help with this tour! Please stop by their blogs today for more great tributes to the heroes and victims of both 9/11 tragedies.
Have a blessed day… And Never Forget…
MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! As you celebrate with family and friends on this holy day, don’t forget to take time and thank God for sending the Most Precious Gift known to mankind! (Click here for more Christmas Fun!) And now, for the conclusion of Stille Nacht!
Part Eight : Stille Nacht
The next morning, Christmas Day, Adler was awakened by Joey, complaining that he was cold. Adler sat up and shook his head, untangling himself from between Sarge’s rucksack and Harold’s discarded blanket.
“You look like you’re feeling better this morning,” Adler replied.
Joey grinned his boyish grin and sat up on his elbow. “Some better, but I still can’t walk on my own. Already tried. Y’all must have been unconscious not to hear me fall earlier. I had to drag myself back into bed.”
Adler yawned and adjusted Joey’s blankets. “I didn’t get just a whole lot of sleep. I think it was about 4:00 when I finally nodded off.”
“Two hours sure ain’t a lot of sleep. What kept you up?”
Adler sighed and held up the book he had tucked in his shirt pocket. “Sarge’s Bible. You know, there are an awful lot of scriptures on the Messiah…and this Jesus does seem to line up.”
Joey nodded soberly. “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you, Micah. Even the prophet you’re named for knew who He was, before He was born.”
“Maybe. I’ve still got more reading to do.”
“Good. There’s hope for you then.”
The others rolled out of their self-made cocoons and began to mill about the room as Marta prepared breakfast. Rudi came over to change Joey’s bandage and feel his forehead. “You’re still warm, Yank. Better take it easy today. There’s no way you can walk.”
“Ain’t got a choice. Sarge can’t carry me all day on his back!”
Harold whispered something to Rudi, who smiled and nodded. “Be right back,” he called over his shoulder. He motioned to Stefan and the two hurried outside. Adler didn’t pay them any mind.
Hilde skipped around the room shouting “Frohliche Weihnachten!”
Adler smiled. “Merry Christmas.”
Marta smiled and set out bowls to fill with left over potato soup.
The door blew open, nearly knocking Lars into the wall, as Harold and Stefan trudged in with two sturdy branches. Lars shut the door behind them and pulled out his knife. When Sarge realized what they were doing he pulled out his as well. They hacked off the twigs and limbs, making two semi-smooth poles. “We need rope and a sheet,” Lars commented.
Rudi hunted through his pack and Adler reached for his. In the same moment, they pulled out a roll of sturdy cord. “Got it!”
Marta laughed as she headed to the small side room and returned with a stout looking sheet. Working quickly, Lars and Sarge tied together the sheet, branches and rope.
“And there you have it!” Harold said with a grin. “A stretcher for Joey!”
Adler half smiled. “Joey, you’re getting king treatment today.”
Marta turned back to her breakfast preparations. Hilde, still very much in the Christmas spirit, started humming a tune. Stefan smiled at her and hummed along.
Then, Marta’s lone voice began to sing.
Stille Nacht! Heil’ge Nacht!
Alles schlaft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Sarge smiled as Joey took up the song.
Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm; as is bright
‘Round yon virgin, mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Hilde smiled and clapped her hands, soon joined by everyone. “Merry Christmas!”
After breakfast, Rudi helped Sarge carry Joey out on the stretcher while Lars, consulting a map and compass, showed Adler the way back to American lines. “If this is still accurate,” Lars warned. “They are probably much closer by now. And keep a sharp watch for our men.”
Adler nodded and jotted down the directions on his map. “And you for ours, though I’d guess you’d be better off than us in such a situation.”
They turned as Marta and Hilde came out of the cabin, bundled up and carrying their meager belongings with them. They would accompany their soldiers out of the danger zone back to their lines.
“Well, I guess this is goodbye,” Sarge said, shaking hands with each German present. “I’ll admit, I think at times I’d forgotten you fellows were humans too. Thanks for everything.”
Rudi grinned. “Thanks for proving Americans are equals as well. War paints ugly pictures.”
“Hatred too,” Adler replied. He turned to Lars. “I appreciated our talk.”
Lars smiled. “Keep hoping. They may still be out there.”
The soldiers trooped to the wood shed and Stefan handed out their weapons.
“Thank you, Frau Engel, for everything,” Joey called from the stretcher.
“Yes, thank you,” the others replied.
Marta smiled. “Thank you for sharing Christmas with us. May the Lord Bless and keep you.” She turned to Lars. “Shall we go?”
“Ja, forward march!”
The Germans headed one way, the Americans another. But they were different now. Each carried memories that would last the rest of their lives. Hope for peace and healing had been lit in their hearts…all because of a Baby born in Bethlehem.
And know, for the true story that inspire Stille Nacht...
Have a very Merry Christmas! Jesus is the Reason!
Merry Christmas Eve, Happy 11th Day of Christmas, and welcome to my official 100th post! Can’t believe I’ve been blogging that long! So it’s fitting to celebrate by giving you the next to last part of Stille Nacht! Thank you so much for joining me today! Let’s go star gazing! (Don’t forget to visit Stories by Firefly for more Christmas Eve Fun!)
Part Seven: The Christmas Star
Rudi grabbed his jacket and hat and followed the boys outside. Sarge stood and followed. “I could use some air.”
Lars and Adler remained at the table, staring into their empty bowls until Marta took them to the sink. Lars chanced a glance at Adler. “What happened to your family?”
Adler let his breath out in a rush. “They, um,” he cleared his throat. “They weren’t able to get out of Germany before the boarders closed. A friend wrote me and said they were transported to a concentration camp called Dachau.”
Lars winced and shook his head. “Do you know if they are still alive?”
Adler swallowed. “Mama died two months after arrival. Papa never made it to the camp. He was gunned down at a transport when he tried to get the others to fight back. I don’t know what happened to my siblings.”
“I…I’m so sorry,” Lars said, his voice low. “My family is gone as well. They died in the Normandy storming.”
“They were at Normandy?”
Lars nodded. “I was fortunate enough to have them stationed in France with me. But I still can’t understand why they had to die, civilians, and I still live, a soldier.”
“Was it a bombing?”
“I never should have gotten into all of this! If I had pushed back, taken a stand…”
“You’d be dead.”
“Maybe. But I wouldn’t have guilt plaguing me on a daily basis.”
Adler nodded slowly. He stood and walked quietly over to Joey. The young soldier looked up at him. “Why’s everybody going outside?”
“Going to look at the stars I guess.”
Joey’s face lit up. “I want to see!”
“Alright, uh…oh, there’s your stuff. Let’s get your coat on and I’ll help you outside.”
Lars put on his coat and offered to help with Joey. They went out and helped Joey get settled on a bench beside Stefan. No one said a word, just stared up at the stars, lost in thought.
Joey smiled as he located Orion, while Stefan hunted for Leo. Lars leaned up against the house determined that this time he would find the little dipper which always seemed to evade his watchful eye. Sarge and Adler gazed up at the north star, mentally trying to map their way back to their lines.
The door swung open and Marta came out, holding Hilde’s hand. “Look, Hilde! It’s the star of Bethlehem!”
Rudi translated for Sarge as the group followed Marta’s pointing. The North Star. The brightest one in the sky.
“Is that the star that shone over Baby Jesus’ house in Bethlehem, Mama?”
Marta smiled. “We don’t know for sure, dear. But we like to think so. But do you know why it shone?”
“It was for the Wisemen to follow so they could give Jesus their presents.”
Hilde paused, then asked, “Mama, I love Jesus, but why did He have to come to earth?”
Adler shifted uncomfortably. Here we go again, he thought.
Marta hesitated. Christians had been stiffly persecuted in Germany, since their teachings contradicted Hitler. Should she risk explaining everything to her daughter in front of her guests? Or should she put Hilde off until it was safer? Marta swallowed hard. I am not ashamed of You, Lord…
“Baby Jesus came to earth and was born in a manger, because He loved us enough to die for us. He knew that since we are sinners, we could never get into heaven. So He lived a sinless life and took our sins upon Himself and died in our place. After He was buried, three days later, He rose from the dead, our eternal Lord and Savior. He did all of that because He loved us.”
“Even Hitler, Mama?”
Adler smirked and crossed his arms, eager to hear this reply. “Yes, even for Hitler, darling, if he will only ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He died for everyone, man, woman, adult, child, black, white, German, Jewish, American, all of us.”
“What makes you so sure that Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah?” Adler challenged, though the words lacked the bite he normally intoned.
Marta smiled and quoted, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2) Jesus was of Bethlehem, was He not?”
“Well, yes, I suppose so.”
“Do you know anyone else of Bethlehem that had done as great things as Jesus?”
“If what they say is true, no.”
“Isaiah 40:11 says, He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Wouldn’t you say Jesus fits that description? He certainly loved the weak and children. He seems like a shepherd to me.
“Isaiah 49:6 says, And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus far, I would guess that more Gentiles have come to accept Christ than Jews. And He is our Light.”
Marta wrapped her shawl tightly about her. “There are many more verses that solidify who Jesus is, Pvt. Adler. I challenge you, get a Bible and read the Old Testament. Find the prophecy of the Messiah and see if Jesus doesn’t measure up to every one of them.”
Adler nodded slowly. “I’ll think about it.”
“I’ve got a Bible you can use,” Sarge reminded.
Joey shivered and winced as pain sliced through his leg. Rudi turned to him. “We’d best get him inside. He needs to rest.”
“We all do,” Marta said, opening the door. As they all entered the house, Marta entered a small room and brought out three blankets. “I’m sorry this is all I can spare.”
The soldiers pulled out their own blankets. “We should be able to make do, Frau, thank you,” Lars assured her.
“Then good night,” she said, leading Hilde into the little room.
Joey, Stefan and Harold got the extra blankets. Pallets were made by the fire and each agreed that whoever woke up during the night would chuck on another piece of wood.
As the others faded off to sleep, Rudi checked on Joey one more time. Satisfied that he was sleeping peacefully, he turned back towards their pallets. Lars was looking out the window. “Something wrong?”
Lars shook his head and grinned. “No. I just found the little dipper.”
Be sure and come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Stille Nacht! Have a very Merry Christmas!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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