Caleb settled deeper into the saddle, looking out over the valley that was spread below him. As his eyes settled on the distant mountains he wondered, not for the first time, how he had gotten to where he was.
He had learned years ago that life had a habit of curving one direction when you had every intention of going the opposite way.
When past memories started to crowd his thoughts, he deliberately closed them off. No sense in ruining a good day with thoughts of ‘what-if’.
Sighing, he lightly nudged the bay forward, picking his way through the rocks on the hillside.
As the horse nimbly worked its way to the valley floor, Caleb raised his eyes to the line of smoke that rose from the chimney in the distance; taking in the house and the out-buildings that comprised his spread.
His head eased to one side in a slight movement of disbelief as he contemplated the vast acreage that now belonged to him.
When the war broke out back east, he had joined without hesitation; determined to protect his home and keep the Yankees out of his beloved state.
When the war ended, he had no home to go back to, and his beloved state was in shambles, courtesy of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman.
When the horse reached flat land once again, Caleb eased him into a run that soon ate up the distance and brought them to the barn that housed his other horses.
He made short work of taking care of the animal, and was closing the door to the stall when a low, deep voice came from behind him.
“I was wondering where you had gone off to.”
He turned to look at Jesse, his ranch foreman and best friend. Ignoring the knowing look in the other man’s eyes, Caleb set the latch on the door and picked up the tack to put it away.
“I was up on the hill, looking for strays.”
Jesse’s grunt of acknowledgment was full of question and awareness.
Caleb sent him a hard look and raised a brow.
“You got something to say? Say it.”
Jesse shook his head and looked down at the barn floor. He figured the two of them had been to hell and back over the past ten years, and that had earned him the right to speak his mind.
“Just thought maybe you was remembrin’ and not wantin’ ta’.”
Caleb studied the concerned face before him and heaved out a sigh.
“Jesse, I learned long ago that, unless the Good Lord shows us the ‘whys’ of life, there’s no point in dwelling on what came before.”
“That may be, but it don’t stop the mind from heading in that direction, or the pain from leaving a hole in your chest.”
As they started to crowd his mind, Caleb deliberately closed off visions of the large plantation that his great-grandfather had established a hundred years before because the picture of the glorious white pillared house was soon superimposed with the burned out ruins that had greeted him on his return after five years.
The Lord had allowed him to lose everything dear to him. For what purpose, he had no idea; but also knew that eventually it would make sense.
Next Friday: Part 2
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.
Part 5 can be found here.
Part 6 can be found here.
Part 7 can be found here.
Part 8 can be found here.
Part 9 can be found here.
Part 10 can be found here.
Part 11 can be found here.
Part 12 can be found here.
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012