Second Harvest (Chapter Four, page 3 of 14)

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During a pause in his work, one afternoon, Thaddeus sat upon a boulder scanning the flat desert that stretched beyond the homestead. Thaddeus could see the top of Picketpost Mountain in the southeast. Off in the distance, rising from the western valley below, he noticed a faint wisp of smoke. Thaddeus had lost interest in tunnel work that afternoon, so he saddled his horse and set off toward the gray plume. After an hour ride, Thaddeus came upon a ghastly sight.

Carnage and death ruined the air as he observed various mutilated bodies of men and women strewn everywhere. The crimson colors, percolating into the earth, presented a stark juxtaposition to the soft hues of the desert. Thaddeus slowly explored the tragedy while the pungent smell of death lingered in the air. Despite witnessing a horrific scene, Thaddeus remained emotionally detached as he slowly ambled through the terrible destruction.

Just as he was about to mount his horse and head home, he heard a feeble but painful cry. Torn and burnt naked flesh confronted Thaddeus as he searched for the weak cry of help. Beneath two smoldering bodies, which Thaddeus suspected, at first, were women, he found a young girl completely immersed in blood. Pulling her free, she quickly wrapped both arms around Thaddeus' neck, severing his airway. Pulling the young woman free, he attempted to comfort the girl and quiet her troubled spirit. She sobbed uncontrollably and Thaddeus felt inadequate so he held her tightly, rocking her in his arms.

Psychologically traumatized by witnessing the events of her family's death, the girl spoke incomprehensibly for several months. Distressed, she could not remember the name given to her by her parents. She had curly auburn hair and she reminded Thaddeus of his mother, whom Thaddeus scarcely knew. He decided to name her after his mother and called her Rebecca. Thaddeus continued to take care of Rebecca as if she were his child or younger sister. Rebecca was very attractive, making it easy for Thaddeus to smile whenever he saw her.

Having spent the majority of his formative years without the presence of a female, Thaddeus craved human connection. Rebecca enjoyed teasing Thaddeus and they sometimes played like children. The years passed and an unknown tenderness developed inside Thaddeus as he affectionately cared for, bathed, and fed Rebecca. As she slowly matured into a budding young woman, Thaddeus felt somewhat shy about her physical beauty. Human instincts and hormones created tension between them and Thaddeus found he had physical desires for Rebecca. This created confusion for both individuals as they wrestled with the shift in their relationship.

As Rebecca developed into a delicate and lovely woman, the attraction increased for Thaddeus. He tried to establish distance between them out of respect, but then Rebecca pressed closer. Natural instincts ultimately influenced the awkward situation forcing Thaddeus and Rebecca to quickly change their relationship. The role of caretaker and child-in-distress gave way to familiar adults wrestling with natural desires. Eventually, love blossomed and it felt only proper that their union should be acknowledged as legal. So the pair traveled to the nearest town to be married. Aside from the circuit-riding judge who visited the area perhaps once or twice a year, the only other official, who could perform a wedding was a newly arrived Baptist minister who had no established church.

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