Hear the Wind Blow
before you're done?"
    I looked down at the body and then at the bloody bed. The soldiers had been gone for about thirty minutes. They were sure to be back soon, cold and angry and emptyhanded.

    "You could leave him in here and lock the door," Rachel suggested.
    Before I left the room, I scooped up the bullets Papa had kept in the top dresser drawer and dropped them into my pocket. Though I hoped I wouldn't need them, it was smart to be prepared for calamity.
    Although I disliked the idea of agreeing with a seven-year-old girl, Rachel's idea made sense. "We could tell his men he left to join them," I said.
    "And they must have missed him in the dark," Rachel added. "So they should go find him right away."
    Turning our backs on the captain's body, we locked the door, and ran downstairs to the kitchen.
    Mama was still at the table, the empty teacup clutched in her hands, as if she was trying to warm them. I sat down opposite her and took the cup from her. Holding her hands, I told her I'd hidden the captain's horse and left his body in the bedroom. "When the soldiers come back, we'll tell them the captain rode after them. They must have missed him in the dark."
    "And he said for them to follow him at once," Rachel put in.
    "I killed him," Mama whispered, "I killed him."
    "No, don't say that!" I cried. "We can't let on anything's wrong."
    I turned to Rachel. "Help her fix her hair."
    While Rachel fetched the comb and hairpins, I draped a shawl over Mama's shoulders to hide the tear in her dress and the blood staining the front. "You have to act as if nothing happened."
    Mama turned to me, tears running down her face, "But, Haswell," she sobbed. "I killed him. There was blood everywhere. Oh, God, forgive me."

    "Mama, please." I held her hands so tight I could feel her bones. "Please don't carry on like this. You did what you had to do. The Lord knows that."
    Mama lowered her head and plucked at her skirt. "His blood is soaking through my dress. I feel it on my skin."
    It wouldn't do. Mama would tell those soldiers what she'd done. They'd kill us all then. Even if Mama kept quiet, they might take her upstairs the way the captain had. And then they'd most likely kill us. I'd heard rumors of such things happening to women left alone on farms. Deserters from both sides, soldiers bent on vengeance—it didn't matter whether they were from the North or the South sometimes. Depended on their nature. The last time Papa had come home, he'd said war lets out the beast in men. Now I knew what he'd meant.
    I got Mama to her feet and told Rachel to fetch our coats and all the blankets she could carry.
    "Why?" she asked.
    "Because we're going to hide in the gully down in the woods. We don't dare stay here and wait for those men to come back."
    Rachel looked at me as if I'd lost my wits. "But, Haswell, it's cold and it's sleeting. And it's dark."
    I grabbed her shoulders and peered into her eyes. "We can't trust Mama not to tell those Yankees exactly what she did. And then what do you think they'll do to us?"
    There must have been something in my voice that scared her, for she scurried away and came back as fast as she could, loaded down with coats and blankets. We bundled Mama up as best we could and struggled to get her out the door.

    "No," she cried. "I must stay here and be punished for what I did."
    Ignoring her cries, Rachel and I managed to force her through the door.
    The wind blasted us with sleet. Slipping and sliding on the icy ground, we made our way across the yard. Mama's lamentations mingled with the sound of the wind. At any moment I expected to see the Yankees riding toward us, their guns aimed at our heads.

5
    O NCE WE WERE AMONGST the trees, we had some shelter from the wind, but the ground was so icy we could scarcely stay on our feet. I headed toward the gully where I'd hidden the captain's horse. He stood where I'd left him, enduring the sleet. When he saw me, he raised his head and whinnied. I wished I'd thought to

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