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 Old Men, Part 4

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Boli Shagnasty
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PostSubject: Old Men, Part 4   Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:05 am

X
"Come and dance with me, Eli."
Eli Edwards was standing in his usual position against the wall when his sister Rachel approached and smiled. The band had just started the night’s first waltz. Eli smiled down at his little sister, took her hand and let her lead him onto the dance floor.
Eli and Rachel waltzed smoothly around the room. Though other couples were dancing it seemed that all eyes were on them. A quick dip here, a smooth spin there, while all the others were merely dancing upright, had drawn all attention to them. Every other woman in the room wished that their dance partners had the moves that Eli did.
Rachel swirled and twirled and felt like a fairy princess as she danced with her brother. Eli just smiled at her. He knew she made him look a much better dancer than he really was. But he did not care. He was enjoying making his sister happy.
The waltz ended and the band went into a two-step. Rachel and Eli were once again the center of attraction. All the younger boys at the dance were jealous of Eli. Rachel was a very pretty girl and several of the boys had crushes on her. It amused Eli greatly to see them watching his sister dance.
Eli danced with his Mom and sisters and several other partners for two hours before he finally decided his feet and legs needed a rest. He walked outside the schoolhouse to cool off in the evening air.
It had been a great night so far. He liked the feeling of having a woman in his arms. Eli had never thought about it before but the smile of a woman was something was something he had come to treasure in the last two hours. His Mom had told him that girls and women were different than men. Now he knew that was true. They were light and soft and Eli enjoyed holding them while they danced. He decided he did want to marry one of them.
But, which one?
Cassie Peters was a pretty young thing but she was a friend of his sister, Betsy, who had mentioned that Cassie was very stuck on herself. While Eli had danced with her, all she had seemed to be able to talk about was herself. Eli also danced with Betty Johnson, his teenaged sweetheart, for old time’s sake. She had married a boy from the southern end of the county. He had gone off to the war and never been heard from again. Betty had also put on two kids and about a hundred and fifty pounds. She was a sweet lady but no longer a viable candidate for what Eli had in mind.
Eli went back into the dance and the first person he saw was Ellen. Ellen Wertheimer was a definite candidate to be Mrs. Elias Edwards.
Ellen was a couple of years younger than Eli but he remembered the little girl she had been before the war. She had certainly changed. Now, she was tall, almost tall enough to look him in the eye. She had long golden hair that fell to the middle of her back, and eyes the color or a summer blue sky. She was slim but sturdy and strong.
Ellen did not accept the traditional role of women in her society. She did not do housework or cleaning. She worked right alongside her Father and younger brother out on the range. She was known to voice strong opinions in a time when such a thing was considered very unattractive in young unmarried Ladies. She knew she was intelligent and enjoyed hearing the sound of her own voice. The moment they reached the dance floor, Ellen began talking.
"So, Eli, you survived it when no one else from around here did. What were you, a cook or something? Maybe an aide to some General?"
"Yes, I survived it. No, I was not a cook or an aide. Our cooks and aides fought also."
"Well, it doesn’t matter. You were all stupid to go. You were all stupid to ever think you could have beaten the North."
"Were we?"
"Of course you were. Anyone with any brains could see that."
"Were Billy Joe Wicker and Johnny Temple stupid too?"
"Yes, they were, and now they are dead because they were stupid."
"I suppose then that if you had been a man, you would not have gone?"
"Of course not. I am smarter than that."
"Congratulations . . . So you think we were all stupid?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, perhaps we were. But, you know, Ellen, there were probably as many different reasons men went as there were men. I went because I thought it would be a great adventure. It was a chance for me to escape the ranch. And I was so very wrong about it all. But at least, I was there. Where were you?"
"I was . . . "
"You were here, safe and sound at home. Did you ever give a thought to people like Johnny and Billy Joe? Did you ever stop to consider how they died or that they died because they believed in something? Did you ever take a minute to see the grief their families were feeling? Did you feel any sorrow over their deaths?"
"I . . . "
"No, you didn’t. You just set on your a**, moralizing about what fools we all were and how you were above it all. Well, if you weren’t there, what makes you think you know anything? Who the h**l are you to judge us?"
Eli stopped dancing and faced her in the middle of the dance floor.
"You think you are so smart, Ellen. But all you really are is just a mouthy little b***h who don’t know nothing. And you never will know anything until you finally realize that you don’t."
The slap echoed resoundingly throughout the room. Eli just stood and laughed at Ellen. She quickly turned and walked away from him, over to where her family was sitting. Eli turned, walked across the dance floor toward the door. Some men he passed smiled and nodded their heads to him, sure that he had done something like pinch Ellen on the b**t. He opened the door and went out into the cool night air.
Eli walked a few feet and then stopped. He looked up at the stars. What Ellen had said got to him far more than it should have. He wondered for a brief moment if it was true that they had been stupid. Should they have been able to see they couldn’t beat the North? Did all those good Southern boys die for nothing?
He thought of his friends. In that cornfield, Eli had been so scared. All he wanted to do was run away and hide. Johnny and Billy Joe had been afraid too but they had stayed, and since they had stayed, Eli just couldn’t run away.
Yes, Johnny and Billy Joe had not run. They had stayed . . . and they were still there.
Eli just could not force himself to believe they had all died for nothing. He thought to himself, ‘that just can’t be. Some good has to come from it all.’ Eli had no idea what that something good could or would be, he just felt that it had to come.
The door to the church opened and two men walked out, followed by a crowd of other people. The two men were George and Frank Wertheimer. George was Ellen’s Father and Frank was her Uncle. Eli had known them both his whole life.
"Elias Edwards!" George yelled.
‘Oh, s**t!’ Eli thought.
The two men walked up to within arms reach of Eli. George faced Eli while Frank was off to his left.
"What the h**l did you do to my daughter?"
"I didn’t do anything, Mr. Wertheimer."
"Then why did she slap you? Why did she come back to the table all upset?"
"I called her a mouthy little b***h, Sir, and she is."
The fist of Frank Wertheimer struck Eli’s jaw like lightning. Sparks exploded in his eyes and he fell to the ground. George walked up and gave Eli a swift kick in the ribs. Eli felt all the air leave his body and he curled to try and protect himself.
Just then George Wertheimer felt the touch of cold steel on the back of his skull. Silas Edwards stood behind George with his revolver.
"George, if you or Frank touch that boy again, I will splatter your brains all over this county."
George raised his hands in the air as a sign of surrender.
"Ok . . . ok, Silas. We’re done. This ain’t worth nobody getting killed over. You just take it easy with that pistol now."
"You and Frank just walk away, George. And don’t even think about going for your guns. I will be watching and I’ll shoot you dead before you ever clear leather."
"Ok, Silas, You just relax now. We’re going. Come on, Frank."
The two men started to walk away as Silas watched them. He let them get a few feet away before he said, "Oh, one more thing, George . . . your daughter is a mouthy little b***h."
The crowd started laughing. All the tension of the last few minutes seemed to be broken. People started drifting back toward the church for more dancing.
Eli Edwards pulled himself up and stood by his Father. He felt of his ribs. They were sore but none felt broken. He had a slight abrasion on his jaw but it was minor.
"You all right, Son?"
"I’m all right."
"Good."
Eli smiled an embarrassed smile at his Dad.
"Thanks, Dad."
Silas just nodded and smiled back.
"You got some strange ways of courting, boy."
"Well, I think it is safe to say I will not be courting Ellen Wertheimer."
"Glad to hear it, Son. Come on, let’s go back to the dance and have some fun."
"You go ahead, Dad. I’ll be in later."
Everyone else had already gone back inside while Eli watched his Dad walk away. He thought how lucky he was to have the family he had. He knew men who would have let their sons get beaten badly and then said they did so to teach the boy a lesson. Eli hoped he would be the kind of Father that his Dad was whenever he had kids.
Eli noticed someone standing a ways off to his left. He turned and there was Beverly Wicker. She walked over to him and asked if he was all right. He said he was and then Beverly asked if he could do her a favor.
Beverly told him she thought something was wrong with one of the shoes on her horse’s feet. She asked Eli if he would walk over to the stable with her to look at it.
Eli examined the shoes and could find nothing wrong with them. Beverly said she must have just imagined it. Then she asked Eli to climb into the hayloft to get her horse some fresh straw.
Eli, being a helpful sort of man climbed up into the hayloft, followed by Beverly. And it was there, in that hayloft, that Beverly Wicker taught Eli Edwards one of the main reasons that what his Mom said was true. He did need a woman.
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Barbi



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PostSubject: Re: Old Men, Part 4   Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:10 am

LOL I'd say Eli learned a lesson!! Great read.
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Ann
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PostSubject: Re: Old Men, Part 4   Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:20 pm

I am sorry for not noticing you had posted more chapters. I have to say, I think this is one of my favorites of this book. But I have to say, I don't think it was because she was selfish thinking as she did just that she didn't understand and that made her angry. She set that anger against all the ones who had fought, not because she didn't care but because it was her way of dealing with the war.
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Boli Shagnasty
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PostSubject: Re: Old Men, Part 4   Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:37 pm

Dear Ann,

You may be entirely correct about why she acts as she does. She thinks she is so smart but, as you say, she really does not understand what she is talking about.

Thanks for reading.
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Boli Shagnasty
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PostSubject: Re: Old Men, Part 4   Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:38 pm

Dear Barb,

I would say he learned more than one that night. lol

Thanks for the kindness.
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