Chapter 13

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The sunset was beautiful in the country, especially with the long line of soldier silhouettes walking across the top of the hill. Their bayonets reflected the last light of day, their sparkling tips seen from far away.

Sadness welled up inside Sheba as she watched Ollie dress in the tattered old uniform given to him by the army. James and Ezra showed him how to use a bayonet, told him how to use cannons, and how to speak to the leaders.

"When they ask you a question, address them as Sir, General, or Colonel," said James, "I should know. I forgot to call someone 'sir', and I was cleaning every dirty tent for a week."

"And don't forget to be careful when shooting a gun," said Ezra, "They can blow up in your face if you ain't watching."

Ollie's face showed that he was listening, but also far away dreaming of the battle field.

When James and Ezra had gone to take care of the children for Sheba, Ollie was alone with her. Tears filled his eyes as he looked at her, his hands shaking as he held an Indian necklace. It was beautiful, filled with beads made by careful hands and a few brightly colored feathers.

"Larksong gave me this," he said, his voice breaking, "She said that as long as I had it, she would be with me..."

"Oliver, come here," said Sheba, opening her arms to him.

He rushed to her, sobbing into her shoulder. His whole body shook with each moan, and Sheba held him tightly until he stopped.

"Look at me, Oliver," she said, "Look at me!"

He looked up.

"I love you like a little brother," she told him, "And I know you can do great on the battle field. General Washington knows you well, and he will treat you good. If you need anything, let us know, ok?"

He sniffed. "Ok."

Sheba kissed his forehead. "Be careful, Oliver Chase," She said, "And may God watch over you day and night."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sheba brushed Ollie's long red curls out of his face and pulled it back into a ponytail, setting his hat on him when she finished. She tied a leather string around his neck that had an Irish coin on it.

"You look handsome," she said, holding back the pain in her voice.

Ollie didn't say anything, just walked over to where the children were playing in the grass outside and sat among them. Asher jumped on him from behind, Micah sat on his lap, and Israel tried to pull him up to go to their beloved creek. Ollie only smiled and his head.

"Pwease, Awie, pwease?" they begged.

Ollie smiled. "I promise the moment I come back we will spend a whole day there. Just us, having the most fun ever."

He picked up Arabelle, who had been nicknamed Belle, and put a wild primrose in her black curls and kissed her cheek. She laughed and hugged his neck. "Goodbye, little Belle," he said, sadness all over his face. He set her down and fetched Zion from Sheba.

"I wish I could've gotten to know you," he said softly, "But don't worry, I'll be back before you know it, then we can all go down to the creek. You'll love it there. Its got an endless supply of frogs, and minnows that bite your toes, and plums growing right over your head the size of wagon wheels!"

A tear slipped out of Sheba's eye, but she didn't brush it away. James held her hand.

"He'll be back," he said.

"I'm praying to God that he will."

He kissed her neck. "He will."

A wagon full of men and a few boys pulled up in front of them.

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