Lincoln's Dreams

Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis Read Free Book Online

Book: Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Connie Willis
afternoon, and Richard was there. He was wearing his slippers, and he was looking down the hill, but I couldn’t see what he was looking at, and I was angry that he was doing that instead of helping me look.” She stopped and stared at the blinded windshield.
    “Helping you look for what?” I said.
    “The message. There were supposed to be ahundred and ninety-one of them, but one of them was missing, and I said to Richard, ‘We’ve got to find it,’ but he wouldn’t put down the telescope, he just pointed down the hill and said, ‘Ask Hill. He knows where it is,’ and at first I thought he meant the hill we were standing on, but then I saw a man on a gray horse and I went down and said angrily, ‘Where is it?’ but he didn’t pay any attention to me either. He was trying to get down off his horse, but the horse had fallen forward, onto its knees sort of. Its knees were bent under …”
    She tried to show me, but her elbows wouldn’t bend the right way, and I already knew how the horse had looked. I shut my eyes.
    “He had one foot in the stirrup and he was trying to get his other leg over the saddlehorn, but he couldn’t, and after a while I went back up the hill to Richard and said, ‘We’ve got to find it.’ He didn’t answer me either because he was looking through his telescope past the church to the south. I was going to take the telescope away from him, but just then I saw what he was looking at. It was a whole line of Union soldiers, coming up from the south. I said, ‘Whose troops are those?’ and Richard handed the telescope to me, but my hands were bandaged and I couldn’t hold it, so I made him look again, and he said, ‘They’re Federals,’ and I said, ‘No. It’s Hill,’ and just then the man who’d been on the horse that was on its knees came riding up on another horse, only now he was wearing a red wool shirt, and I was so glad to see him because it meant that even though we couldn’t find it, he had still gotten the message.”
    I didn’t say anything. I ran my hands around the rim of the steering wheel and thought about how I should take her home before the snow got any worse and we were both trapped up here.
    “Maybe Richard’s right,” she said, “and whatever’s in that lost message is whatever it is I can’t remember.”
    “What about the bandages on your hands? What about the Confederate soldiers in blue uniforms?And the number one hundred and ninety-one? What are they supposed to mean?”
    “I don’t know,” she said lightly, and put her gloves back on. “Richard will have to tell me. He’s the psychiatrist.”
    “Broun’s new book is about Antietam,” I said. “I’ve spent the last six months researching everything in print about that battle.”
    And you know why my hands are bandaged?”
    “Lee broke his right hand and sprained his left just before the march into Maryland. He was still wearing the splints and bandages at Antietam. Lee had sent an urgent message to A. P. Hill at Harper’s Ferry, telling him to bring his men up as fast as he could, so when he saw some soldiers coming up from the south he hoped it was Hill’s troops, but the soldiers were wearing blue uniforms.
    “He asked one of his aides, ‘Whose troops are those?’ The aide told him they were Union soldiers and offered to let Lee use the telescope, but Lee held up his bandaged hands and said, ‘Can’t use it. What troops are those?’ The aide looked again, and this time he could see the Confederate battle flags.
    “It was A. P. Hill’s men, just up from Harper’s Ferry after a forced march of seventeen miles. Hill was riding ahead of them. He was wearing a red shirt.” I gripped the steering wheel. “They were wearing Union uniforms they had taken from the Federal stores they captured at Harper’s Ferry.”
    Annie turned and looked out the side window at the graves she couldn’t see. “I want to go home,” she said.

CHAPTER THREE
    L ee didn’t buy Traveller “in

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