Chapter 3- Dragoon Winter
                                                                                 Chapter III

    “Sara, the war isn’t going to last that long,” Ben’s father explained in the kitchen, “I reckon I’ll be back by spring.”
“Jonathan, please. Don’t go. Stay here,” his wife pleaded, “We need you.” It was a pleading that Ben had heard a thousand times before, it seemed. “Boy,” his father turned to him, “You’re the man in this house now. Take care of your Ma and Mary. I’ll be back soon enough.” Ben watched his father ride off to the recruiting tent in town. That was the last he saw of his father, Jonathan Rigby.

    Ben jumped to his feet at the sound of a child screaming. He planted his back to an oak tree and peeked around toward the road. Three men busied themselves pulling crates from a wagon while the owners watched helplessly at the gunpoint of the smaller bandit. Ben steadied his Ferry rifle against the oak tree and surveyed. He figured the men to be Irregulars by their homemade riding gear and confederate issued iron, headed south on the run. The smallest of the three approached the girl. “Now what we got here boys?” he smirked as he lifted her dress with the barrel of his revolver. Ben was fifty yards away and could read the bandits lips as well as his thoughts. His heart started pumping more rapidly. Ben wanted to stay out of this, but his nerves could not endure any further. The ferry rifle steadied. His slug took the smaller man’s jaw off. Ben threw his back against the oak tree as the revolver balls flew through the white smoke. Twenty three seconds, he thought, and he could have the Ferry rifle loaded again. Twenty one seconds this time. As he spun the rifle back to where the bandits stood, they had already rode at least a hundred yards south and kept riding as hard as they could. He ran to the wagon and propped the rifle onto the pine wheel to take aim. His heart stopped pounding, but his chest tightened and ached. All at once he sensed a terrible pain in the pit of his stomach. He didn’t want to shoot a retreating man.
        “Mister!” the male wagon owner called out. Ben turned to see a man, woman, and child stained with fragments of the smaller bandit. He picked up the bandit’s revolver and handed it to the father. “I suggest you learn to use this.” said Ben, shaking from adrenaline. “I do,” clarified the man, “I got a thirty-six caliber, I…I just couldn’t get to it in time.” The man handed the .44 caliber colt model 1860 back to Ben. “You keep that thirty-six close and ready.” Ben ordered. He walked to the dead bandit’s horse tied to the wagon wheel. The animal carried a few pounds of grain, a couple slices of salted meat of some sort, canteen, a tin of rabbit tobacco, and a mouth harp all bagged behind a confederate Calvary saddle. Ben took the dollar from the bandit’s pocket and mounted the scrawny horse.
    Ben never said goodbye to the family. He didn’t want his name associated with a corpse rotting in the piedmont anyway. The family was likely evicted from their house to be transformed into Union barracks, he thought.  He also thought a lone kid with a Calvary saddle and an issued revolver should not ride through the middle of Georgetown. Ben decided to navigate the swamplands to the East and gather more supplies at Murrell’s Inlet.

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Ben finds trouble on the trail.
A Word from the Writer
I needed an incident to develop Ben's character. I kind of like the violence in this chapter and hope you do too. Tell me what you think.