It was after dark when Harry arrived home. The family looked up expectantly when he came in.

"You've been hurt!" Meredith exclaimed, leaping up and drawing him to the lamp. "Look, Mama, his face is all bruised and his coat's ripped!"

Harry laughed softly, "I'm a klutz...that's all. I fell down some steps."

Meredith frowned, "You lie, Harry. Something more happened!" Harry's expression subbornly hardened slightly, but he said nothing.

Sophia chimmed in, "Your silence betrays you! You haven't lived with us for over six months for nothing!"

"Harry, what happened?" Mrs. Drewry's voice was kind, but insisting.

"My kepi caused some trouble," was all he said.

She nodded understandingly. "What were you doing in town?" she added.

Harry threw back his head and laughed almost giddily, "Selling myself out!"

"What??" demanded several voices at once.

He grinned, "I am surety!" With that he threw a pouch of money on the table. "There. You can pay the taxes this year!"

There was a pause. "Did you do this for Francis?" Mrs. Drewy asked, thus showing Harry that she understood his initial reason for coming to them.

He thought for minute, "No." He spread his hands to indicate the entire Drewry family, "I did it for you."

"I feel like I ought not to let you..." began Mrs. Drewry, but she was interrupted.

"You can't stop me, ma'am! It's done! If it takes me the rest of my life, I will pay off the debt." He had started out laughing, but ended seriously. "You don't think I'd let my favorite people be despoiled of their land, do you?" he added more cheerfully.

After a lengthly silence during which the various members of the household looked at each other, then the wall, the ceiling, and back to another person, Meredith quietly ventured the question most pressing to their minds, "Harry, how do you propose to pay the debt?"

"Working hard and long," came the reply without hesitation.

"Where did you get the money?" asked Mrs. Drewry.

Harry smiled, "The same place a bunch of bluecoats snitched my kepi."

"That didn't answer my question, young man." She tired to sound severe, but failed as Harry's cheerful mood was infectious.

Harry just laughed, "I won't tell you ma'am. I'm afraid you'd you go give the money back! Rest assured, that's honest money. I have nothing more to say on the matter."

With that, he got up from the table. "I'm tired; what do you say we retire?"

Mrs. Drewry smiled, "Very well. Samuel, please bring me the Bible."

With her children gathered around her, Mrs. Drewry read Psalm 24: "The earth is the Lord’s,
and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the
seas, And established it upon the waters..."

Harry stood with his back to the door listening. His heart was peaceful as he looked around at the faces of those six personages--his people...

To be continued...

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    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"