The Mockingbird's Ballad (Chapter 1, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 1

The candle was a poor second in illumination to the coal fireplace. The coal grate sitting on the hearth offered a warm glow and just enough heat to warm the small room. Mary rocked slowly in her small cherry rocker. Its worn finish caught the flickering light from the fireplace and gave off a golden glow against dark red. Her nimble fingers, long and thin, worked the finger weave her mother had taught her more than thirty years back. Her mind was somewhere other than this little room in this snug safe cabin with her good man. It was in a dark place, a lonely place, a place of dread and danger. The weaving came faithfully even with her mind otherwise occupied. Her mind returned to the fireside of her home and she thought the woven coverlet she was making would be ready for Mother's birthday in February. Joe T. was hunched over the Nashville Dispatch with the candle a scant 10 inches from his salt and pepper hair. The flicker caught the reflection of his eyeglasses.

"Mary Jane, says here that Longstreet left Knoxville last week. Writer thinks he's headed for Chattanooga." He talked to his wife of nearly 21 years across the room without looking up. "Maybe old Bragg'll get straightened out. Lord, that man could argue with a stump. Looks like he fights with his generals more than the Yankees.

Shame that "Massa" Jeff Davis don't like our Frank Cheatham. He's got gumption. Word is, though, that brave Frank likes the sour mash a little too much and too often. But he does know how to lead men and fight! Bragg don't." Joe T. had made an avocation of following any paper he could come across that reported on Cheatham's Tennessee Division. J. N., his only son, was a sharpshooter with their 24th Tennessee Sharpshooter Battalion. "Lordy, Mary, Bragg can't back up all the way to Atlanta. Surely."

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