A small teaser from the new scene in New Yesterdays. I hope you’ll enjoy it and give me some feedback…
“Ain’t hardly no one in these parts had any experience in fighting like this. We’ve had peaceful relations with the injuns since ol’ General Oglethorpe settled this place.” The sheriff absently scratched his head as he mused over the new development. “I just can’t figure out what’s got them so riled up all of a sudden!”
“Well, let’s have a look at a map of the layout of the city and see what kind of strategy we can…”
Josiah’s head quickly snapped upward to the cupola of the courthouse when he heard the sound of rifle fire. There would be no time for planning! From every corner of Wright Square, Indians were pouring in, firing indiscriminately into the crowd of men gathered there. It was only then that he realized he was completely unarmed and unable to defend either himself or his friends. The whooshing sound of air and sudden, sharp pain threw him to the ground as a bullet skimmed across his left cheek and destroyed most of his ear. His breath came in ragged gasps as the warm blood trickled under his collar.
Quickly, he looked around and saw Sheriff Stuart lying on his back, staring sightlessly into the sky. Josiah dragged himself on his belly to remove the pistol from the lifeless hand of the lawman and rolled onto his back just in time to see the enraged face of a young Seminole boy bearing down on him, knife drawn, teeth bared in a grimace of hatred. He raised the pistol and squeezed the trigger. The expression of rage was instantly replaced by a dazed look of surprise as he continued his descent.
The burning pain in his left shoulder made Josiah forget, momentarily, about the pain in his head caused by the bullet. He could scarcely breathe under the weight of the dead boy’s body. Fighting off the panic, he shoved upward against the boy and got out from under him. Quickly, he looked around the square, assessing the situation. The square was now completely filled with men fighting and dying. It was clear that for every white man in the square, there were at least four Indians. It was also clear that this fight would be finished within minutes.
Little Oliver Mason cowered against the stone pyramid that marked the grave of Chief Tomo-Chi-Chi. Josiah couldn’t help considering the irony. Tomo-Chi-Chi was the Yamacraw Chief who offered peace and cooperation with the white settlers back in the earliest days of Savannah’s history. Now, Oliver lay here, dying at the hands of the Indians. The gaping hole in the boy’s chest assured Tattnall there was no hope of helping the boy, but he could at least try to give him some comfort as he breathed his last. Gently, he cradled Oliver and spoke quietly into his ear.
“Your Papa would be real proud of you right now, Oliver. Just rest with me here for a few minutes and we’ll get the Doc over here to look after you.”
He felt a twinge of guilt, giving the boy hope when it was painfully obvious he was down to minutes in this world.
“What did we do to get them so aggravated, Mr Tattnall?” Oliver’s voice was ragged with a disturbing, gurgling sound caused by the blood now filling his lungs.
“I’m not sure Oliver, I’m just not sure. God willing, we’ll figure it out and get everything fixed soon enough.” He stroked the boy’s hair gently as he rocked back and forth mouthing words he would never be able to remember… if he lived through this mess.
“It was awful what they done to my Papa and Mama. I think I’ll be seeing them pretty soon. It feels like I’m heavy as a wagon-load of cotton Mr Tattnall, and I can’t get no air…”
Josiah had seen many men dying in battle; had given them comfort as they drew their last breaths. All those experiences paled to nothingness as he watched Oliver’s blue eyes glaze as his young life came to an end. A pain he had never known clutched his chest and he sobbed more deeply than he would have imagined possible. This wee tyke of a boy who had never done anything against another person in his life was first deprived of his parents, and then deprived of a long and fruitful life. The injustice of it was almost more than the older man could endure. With a tender touch, he closed the boy’s eyes and reclined his little lifeless body against the Peaceful Chief’s grave marker.
Standing, looking down at little Oliver, Josiah felt the hot wave of rage explode in his brain.