The next day, Harry combed his hair neatly, straighted his fraying collar, and carefully set the gray kepi on his head. For some reason, no one felt like asking him what he was up to, though his behavior was certainly unusual. As he stepped out the door, Janet suddenly threw herself on him, "Harry, you aren't leaving us, are you? Please, don't go!"

Startled, he bent down to eye level with the tearful little girl, "Why, Janee, what makes you think I'm going away?"

"Everybody's so quiet!" she wailed.

Harry decided the best thing to do was hold her. As he rocked her gently back and forth, he said, "I'll be back later today. I don't know when exactly, but I am certainly coming back."

Reassured, she nodded and re-straightened his collar for him, getting a resounding kiss in return. They smiled at one another and then Harry hopped up and strode off. The Drewry's looked at each other curiously, then went on with life. 

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

Harry frowned to himself. He had never really felt comfortable in town, but now he liked it even less with all those blue-coated soldiers milling about. He realized that his battered kepi would instantly give him away as a 'Rebel', but he simply squared his shoulders and held his head higher.

"Martial law," he thought scornfully, "don't they realize that real peacefulness will occur faster without it? Rubbing salt in a wound irritates and exacerbates rather than heals."

With such thoughts rolling around in his mind, Harry began winding toward his destination. He purposely kept his distance from the bluecoats; he didn't want any trouble. His heart sank therefore when he saw the bank's entrance. It was surrounding  by loitering Yankee soldiers.

"Well Harry," he remarked under his breath, "here goes!" And with that, he plunged across the street and started up the bank steps.

"Hey, Johnny Reb!" one of the soldiers crowed, "What'd ya up to?" "No good, I'll warrant," said another.  A hand relieved Harry's brown head of  his kepi. It was the wrong move. In an instant the placid young man turned into a lion. He swung around to face the perpetrator, eyes blazing. "Please return my cap!" he demanded. 

"Johnny Reb wants his dirty ol' hat! What'd ya say fellas?" "Toss it in the street!" came from several directions. "Burn it!" came from another.

By this time Harry was hemmed in on all sides. He ground his teeth, "Billy Yank's a coward!"

The remark brought hoots and hollers from the assembled loafers. "Johnny Reb! Johnny Reb!" they taunted.

Harry was furious and was keeping an eye on the gray kepi as it went from hand to hand, further away from him. He couldn't move well, but he started to swing in an attmept to get free.

All of a sudden, a stern, commanding voice broke through the melee. "Give the man back his cap! How dare you treat a brave fellow so!"

Immediately, the unruly soldiery started to pull together and straighten out. Harry, being pushed and pulled, suddenly tumbled down the steps as he was released and landed at the officer's feet. Moments later, the battered kepi landed on top of him. Dazed from his fall, he clutched the cap to his chest and stumbled to his feet.

"There now, are you all right, young man?"

Harry looked up into the questioning face. It was young, yet old at the same time.

"Yes, sir," he managed to reply, feeling that somehow, he knew the man.

The man's face relaxed momentarily into a smile. "Good!" Then turning his attention to his men, he vigorously upbraided them for their disgracful behavior. Turning back to Harry, he asked, "Well Corporal, are you, or are you not going into the bank?"

Harry's look of suprise made the officer laugh, "Come, come, Corporal! Do you not remember the prisoners you single handly took?"

Recognition dawned in the youngsters face, "Oh! Certainly, Sir! I'm afraid I didn't recognize  you minus the beard." He clearly remembered now, he had almost put a bullet through this Captain's head during the war. He had had every opportunity to do so as he was perched up in his snipers position, but he had not--mainly because the officer was alone in the woods. Instead he had ordered the man to put his pistol and sword on the ground and turn around and keep his hands where Harry could see them. Once Harry collected the arms, he marched him into camp. Harry's face twisted up into a amused smile at the recollection of the officers reaction when he finally saw him, "My lands! You're just a boy!" Harry had felt kind of sore at that greeting and retorted, "I am a corporal in the Confederate Sates Army!" "So you are," the captain had repiled kindly, "I had no intention of insulting you."

With the captain accompaning him, Harry entered the bank.

To be continued...
 





Leave a Reply.

    A Gray Kepi

    I saw the opening scene for this story in my head and I knew that I had to finish it. I wrote it over several days. Some of it won't be as intersting or as polished as others.  I even teared up while writing it...but I won't say where.

    The War Between the States and Southern Reconstruction are a period of history that hold a great deal of interest for me. I hope that all my facts are historically accurate. (I rather suspect that as I type it up I shall do some fact checking...)

    Perhaps some day I may be able to turn this into a screenplay...but for right now, I will just post it in sections, or 'parts'. Some will be longer and some will be shorter. And so, without any further ado, here is "A Gray Kepi"