She glanced at Maggie and back down at the soldier. Dust and specks of blood covered his anguished face. Sweat and tears had trickled down, leaving tiny trails along his cheeks and temples. Anna’s heart grew heavy at the sight, but she resolved to save him. Her pity gave her power. She knew what she had to do, so she mustered her own authority.
“I’m sorry I don’t have anything to give you for the pain,” she said sympathetically. “I only wish we had some laudanum or chloroform.” She walked over to the black kettle, used the prongs to extract the needles and knife from the scalding hot water, and proceeded to thread a needle. “Abigail,” she said, “please fetch Father’s good bourbon.”
Her little sister ran downstairs, followed by Claudia.
> Maggie pulled a wooden chair from its place against the wall and moved it over to the bedside. Seating herself, she proceeded to thread the needle Anna had given her.
Abigail ran back in, panting, and handed the amber bottle to Anna. She uncorked it and held it to the soldier’s lips. He took a swallow. She prompted him to take a few more.
“Abigail, when I tell you to, place a towel in his mouth,” Anna instructed her little sister.
“Why?” Maggie asked sarcastically. “So no one will hear him scream while we torture him?”
Anna sneered at her sister. She looked at the soldier, surprised to see he was gawking at her, his eyes wide with fright and his lower lip quivering.
“Are y’all—witches?” he asked, terror sweeping over his face.
“Now see what you’ve done,” Anna scolded.
Anna glared at her sister. Looking back at the young man, she said, “No, we’re not witches.”
She didn’t think he believed her.
Maggie sat near the foot of the bed, gazing down at their new discovery. “Why are we going to all of this trouble, Anna? He is a Confederate, after all.”
“Because it is our Christian duty. If we don’t try to help him, God will surely cast his wrath upon us later on.”
This explanation seemed sufficient enough for Maggie, who glowered.