The Long Road Ahead
Author's note: Me being in AP US History and having to writing a narrative in Creative Writing is what led me to... Show full author's note »
What Started It AllI was able to avoid joining the Confederate army. I love everyone and physical aspects don’t change that – black, white, male, female. I only judge from what I see in the heart. My friends felt the same, so we stole away to the Union to start out fresh for ourselves as the distance between our values and southern values grew larger. The future for us was bright.
As the war raged on, my close friend James felt driven to join the Union army. When he went to the recruiting office, his thick Southern accent caused much mayhem and my other friend had to bail him from the jail only hours later. The Radical Republicans of the time strongly opposed the South and anyone who came from it. James Richards looks like an average white man that could be found in the North – average height, green eyes, very short blond hair, lightly tanned skin, lean body, broad shoulders – but the Southern drawl that reflects the gentleman in his heart made the recruiters believe he was a spy or worse, a Democrat.
After we cleared up the matter, my three friends and I sat around in our little home outside a small city in New York and planned for our new future out West.
“That’s crazy talk!” My female friend, Angelica Lake, exclaimed. She was a tiny woman, only five feet and five inches. Begin a independent, hard working, fun loving woman was one of the reasons for our necessary fleeing of the South. Her father was about to marry her to a rich plantation owner, who was know for being brutal to his one hundred and fifty slaves. Her family didn't like her life style of being “free” and wanted her tied down.
I scoffed. “Would you rather live back home and be married to a terrible man, or here where we are discriminated against for having Southern drawls?”
Angelica stayed silent, looking at her bare toes beneath her. Her long brown hair hung in front of her face.
Scott Jones, Angelica’s true love (I say this because they always had a fancy for each other since we were children) slid down behind her and stretched his legs out on either side of her, wrapping his arms around her curvy waist. “We could be horse ranchers. I have an uncle who makes a living raising and selling horses out in Kentucky.”
“Being in Kentucky would still tie us up with these weird radicals, North and South,” James said, tapping his fingers on his knee. “I wish I could have punched them men who accused me of being a spy.”
“Calm down James,” Angelica soothed. She rested her hand on his shoulder. “It is over and done with. You will never see them men again.” She snuggled back into Scott.
“I know...” James sighed. “So where do we head out to Levi?”
They all turned their heads to me. While James had sat in jail as Scott was out at the bank to pull out the bail money, I had sat down and began writing a letter to the one family member who shared my morals and would do anything to help me and my friends – my brother that is ten years my elder.
“Well, while you were sitting in your little cell with Angelica reading you her newly written poems,” I pointed at James, who frowned, “I was writing my brother about our situation – in my own unique way, of course.”
“You whined and complained, using confusing words that he doesn't understand, then you begged him for the rest of the five pages to give us money?” Scott asked.
I frowned. Angelica giggled, bending at the waste as her body shook. James wasn't paying attention – probably still pondering the events from earlier that day.
“No I wasn't Scott. I asked him if I could take two stallions and two mares out to the Southwest Dakota Territories. Thanks to the Homestead Act, signed by the great President Lincoln, we can each file for 160 acres of land out there. That totals up to 640 acres of land.”
“Do you think your brother would do it?” Angelica asked yearningly, leaning forward. “Could I, as a woman, own land?”
“Even freed slaves can do it. We just have to work the land and stay for five years.”
“When should your brother respond?” Scott pulled Angelica back against him, resting his chin on her shoulder. “The sooner, the better.”
“I hope I can hear from him in a week or so. Can we all manage?” I look at every one.
James nodded his head and stood, leaving the room. Angelica nodded her head quickly and grinned at Scott. Scott smiled and held onto Angelica tighter, whispering something into her ear that made her smile and nod her head more.
The letter arrived one week and three days later, promising the two mares and two stallions. My brother explained he saw Scott's uncle visiting his sister and brother-in-law. We had to promise to meet up with him for instructions on how to care and raise these horses.
I read the letter off to my friends. Angelica was ecstatic. She hugged Scott tightly around the neck and he spun her around.
James looked over the letter. “Oh man, we can get away from all this darn political mess and just be free!” He hugged me tightly. “Dude, us four out West. This will be amazing.”
“I know. I really can't wait for this new place. All we have to get is a covered wagon and supplies, and then off we go!”
“We have to build a home, don't we?” Scott asked. The mood quickly dissipated. “This will take a lot of planning and money.”
Angelica let go of Scott's neck. “I heard that these settlers built a ranch out in this area Levi talked about, but they left it and moved to California for the Gold Rush.”
“When we go to apply for this land, we can ask them about this. We might have our luck cut out for us.” I smiled. “We should get ready. The sooner, the better.”