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“Sergeant Charles Morrison” it had a nice ring to it. I couldn’t help but feel proud of my new status. Suddenly I realized that the captain was speaking to me, I shook my head dumbfounded and looked up at him.
“You are not a sergeant yet Charley, and your never gonna be one if you don’t obey orders.” How was it that he could always read my mind?
“Now I need this message sent directly to the headquarters of the general at camp in smithersfield.” His orders dragged on. “It must be delivered directly. On your trip home I’ll need you to scout out the surrounding farmland, look out for redcoats, and don’t let them follow you back to camp. It is absolutely necessary that the Britts do not find our encampment, it would ruin our entire plan, maybe even the entire war.”
“ I think You will find that I am perfectly capable of the task at hand, that I will do my duties... dutifully” was my proud reply.
“ I didn’t choose you for this task, the Colonel did. And don’t get any silly ideas about running away, if you did you would be labeled as a coward and a traitor.” The Captain eyed me suspiciously.
I was inwardly petrified of our stern captain, how was he able to read my mind? Did he know that the thought of my sweethearts bitter face was the only thing that had kept me in the continental army thus far? She was a patriotic damsel, she told me it was my duty to serve the country as best as I could, and then in the end, when America had gained its liberty, she would marry me. The sight of her smiling face had gotten me through the harsh winter, and had shaken away many plans for deserting.
Did my captain know all my feelings and thoughts? I felt as though he did. I felt powerless and foolish under him, but I didn’t want him to think that, not when I was about to get a promotion in rank, soon I would probably be controlling him!
“ How could you even suggest such a thing? I am an american, just like you. I would never leave my country. And now I must be going, I have duties to fulfill.” I turned around, stuck my nose in the air and headed to the stable where I saddled my horse and was on my way.
I trotted through the forrest, I had done my duties, now I was almost back to camp. Awaiting me was a new title. I would no longer be a simply a private, I would have a group of men to command and to lead, men who would follow my orders. My thoughts wandered to the end of the war, I saw myself riding into town, staring into my sweethearts proud face, she would kiss me on the cheek and tell me that our country was lucky to have me on their side.
My dreams were rudely interuppted by the entrance of a terrible storm. Suddenly I felt the presence of the enemy. The wind whipped through the trees, scattering leaves and causing
branches to sway and hit me in the face. I had to get out of this
storm or at least out of the forest.
First came the sounds of footsteps, then came the sounds of gunshots. I panicked and began running frantically. I wasn’t too far from camp, I knew there was safety in numbers, if I could just reach the encampment I had a good chance of survival. But wait? What had the Colonel said?
It is absolutely necessary that the Britts do not find our encampment, it would ruin our entire plan, maybe even the entire war.
I would be leading my squadron, maybe even my country into sure defeat. Could I do that?
In the frenzy following the sounds of gunshots nobody would notice that it had been me who brought the britts in, its my only chance of survival. Surely the camp would hear and be alarmed long before the enemy found them. Surely we could still beat them. I have done my orders, I’m a sergeant now, I could still be a hero, I could warn the captain that the soldiers were coming.
A thousand excuses ran through my head, at the same time a thousand condemnations, my heart beat fast, but my conscience beat even faster. I had a duty.
Soon I had turned around and ran deeper into the woods, far away from our camp. Gunshots wizzed all around me.
They must think I’m carrying an important message, if only they knew the truth.
Suddenly I found myself lying on the forrest floor. The stream of blood gushing from my arm had formed a small puddle on the hard rocky ground.
Why must cowardice bring glory, whilst true sacrifice leads to quiet destruction?
The puddle soon grew into a small flood. I knew I didn’t have much time to live. Everything went black, I couldn’t see the Britts, but I could hear them as they surrounded me and began checking my pockets. I knew I wasn’t carrying anything valuable to them.
All I could see was my unmarked grave. All I could see was the tears running down my sweethearts rosy cheeks as she read the dreadful lines:
Private Charles Morrison,
Deserter of the Continental army,
traitor to his country.
All I could feel was pain, not from my arm, but from my heart.
And the only comfort I had was the comfort that I had given everything I had for the country I loved.