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John Brown's Body Lies A-mouldering

John Brown's Body Lies A-mouldering

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Published by beejay
John Brown has escaped his captors and is in the vicinity of the Curry homestead.
John Brown has escaped his captors and is in the vicinity of the Curry homestead.

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Published by: beejay on May 22, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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John Brown Lies a Mouldering
December 15
, 1859“I think it was murder, plain and simple.”“What was murder? The hanging, Ma? Or what he done?” asked Mercury, stuffing somemore pie in his mouth.Supper was early, as a summer storm had blown in. Rain fell heavily, punctuated byoccasional lightening and thunder.“I am referring to the hanging. It’s not for us to judge another man and to revenge thedead by hanging. ‘Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.’ It’s presumptuous of men tousurp God’s authority. And don’t say ‘what he done,’ say ‘what he did’ instead, Mercury.”“Yes ma’am.”“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”Mercury swallowed his bite of pie hastily. “Yes ma’am.”“Now Mary Sue, the man murdered nineteen innocent people. Are you saying a man likethat shouldn’t be punished? Also men need to shift for themselves, I don’t recall seeingany divine intervention coming down recently and smiting evil doers. Men have to takeon the burden of judging and punishing wrongdoers. We have to protect them that can’t protect themselves.”“I’ll second that,” said Grandpa Curry between mouthfuls.“I’m not talking to you, old man.” Mary Sue glared at Grandpa Curry. He looked back ather, and refilled his plate. Irritated, she turned to her husband and glared at him. “Andhow did hanging John Brown protect the innocent, Hermes? Remember what JohnBrown and his sons went through here in Kansas, being attacked by all those pro-slaveryfolk, and for no reason at all. There is a great deal of sympathy for him and for hisintentions, misguided as he was into unnatural acts of violence. This will lead to nogood.”“I suppose you have a point there, Mary Sue,” Hermes conceded. “Things don’t seem to be calming down at all, and tempers are getting short. The hangings do seem to havestirred up a hornet’s nest. There’s talk of war, and that’s no good for us farmers.”1
“Oh Pa, will there be soldiers and fighting? That would be horribly exciting, I meanhorrible,” Mary corrected herself.“Excuse me, Mrs. Curry, ma’am. Can I leave the table? I’m done eating.” It was humid,and he was uncomfortable at the table. He wanted to rest his head.
you leave the table, Hannibal, dear. And yes you may.”The boy, who was visiting his distant relatives for the day, primarily to escape fromhome, left his seat. He sat on the floor in ‘listening range’ of this interesting conversation.There had been a lot of talk about a place called Harper’s Ferry, and this John Brownman, and murders, and hangings, and freeing the slaves for the past couple of months.“I have to say Mary; it’s only talk I have heard. Talk don’t injure folk. People will probably come to their senses, and there will be no war at all,” Hermes said as he tried tocalm his daughter.Mary pouted and sat back in her seat, clearly disappointed. Sue laughed at her sister.Jed munched happily while swinging his feet under the table.The conversation resumed, and Hermes and Mary Sue Curry discussed the situation inmore detail. Heyes began to drift off to sleep, but was awakened by a sudden rap on thedoor.Mercury ran to the door and opened it. Visitors were always welcome because theyturned up so rarely. Mercury was rewarded for his alacrity with the wonderful vision of asoldier in full uniform holding a bayoneted rifle.The soldier strode in without being asked. He stood in a position of attention, his cloak dripping water, and addressed the adults. His voice was deep and grim.“I am sorry to interrupt your meal, sir, ma’am. My men and I are in pursuit of an escapedcriminal. Have any strangers come by here?”The family gasped, and Heyes sat up. He was awake now.“No, sir, we’ve had no strangers here today,” answered Hermes. “Have you children seenanyone, or you Grandpa?”The family shook their heads no.“If you folks do see someone, report it to me,” and he turned to leave.“But who should we be looking for?” asked Mary Sue nervously.2
“John Brown, ma’am.”“But surely, the man is dead. He was hanged,” she quavered, “wasn’t he?”“No, ma’am. The government didn’t want to alarm folks, so let out to the papers he’d been hanged. In reality, his dastardly followers attacked the guard in overwhelmingnumbers, and after a struggle in which we lost many of are own brave men, but notwithout making them feel the pain of death themselves, they secured his freedom. Mostof his accomplices have been captured, but the wily devil has eluded us so far. We’llcatch him yet, but be on your guard.”The officer left, and his men followed.Rain pelted down. Storm clouds obscured the sky, and hid the moon, turning theafternoon into night.Hannibal sat on the floor with his knees drawn up, arms wrapped around them. He knewhe had to remain awake but the humidity was oppressive. He rested his chin on his knees,and tried to keep his drooping lids open.All the Currys with the exception of Grandpa sat at the table in silence. The room wasstill but for the rocking of the chair. Occasionally a chair scraped the floor as the bodyseated in it shifted. An hour passed this way.Mercury drummed the table with his fingers only to be shushed by the weight of hisfather’s hand on his.“I hear a noise outside.” Hermes voice sounded jagged against the quiet.“Are you certain?” Mary Sue mouthed.Hermes stood and motioned for Mercury to join him. He took his hunting rifle down fromthe wall, and checked it carefully. He then took down the rifle he had recently purchasedfor Mercury and checked it as well. He loaded the rifles, and handed Mercury his.Father and son went out the front door.Grandpa Curry rocked back and forth.“Ma, why haven’t they returned?” Mary wimpered after a half an hour had passed. Suewas clutching her corn husk doll, stroking it for comfort.3

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