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To the Lonely Seas and the Sky -- Part 15b

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SoldierNurse22 SoldierNurse22 (Member)

SoldierNurse22 is a L&D Nurse.

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A'right, a'right, a little over a week...but not bad, no? :) Thanks as always to my constant readers. For those of you just joining us, please head back to the first part of this (presently) 18-part story!

To the Lonely Seas and the Sky -- Part 15b

Neither Thomas nor Ellie realized that lunch would mark the beginning of a pattern. From that day on, Thomas and Ellie tended to their duties and met at mealtimes, sipping stew and chatting quietly on the fallen tree overlooking the silent field.

While Carina devoted her utmost attention to her husband, Thomas kept a close eye on the curious girl with dark blue eyes and a shy yet contagious smile. He and he alone ensured that she ate, drank, and slept. Had someone bothered to ask him why he worried himself over her, Thomas would've firmly answered that every child ought to be tended to, especially if their mother is unable to do so. But if pressed, he would admit that the thirteen-year-old German reminded him greatly of three little girls he left behind on a sprawling plantation under the endless Tennessean sun.

As the Ellie and Thomas passed countless hours in conversation, both began to see more and more of the person behind the familiar face. And especially for Ellie, the more she came to know Thomas, the more she wondered at the injustice of her new country.

Ellie was quite happy to reflect on her sisters and brother back in Baltimore. She told Thomas stories of the tall ships, the busy harbor, the Baltimore riots and ensuing martial law, and her nosey neighbor down the street. Thomas was not normally a very talkative man, but something about the girl's innocence and enthusiasm seemed to draw him out. Slowly, as days passed by and hours grew long, Thomas began to tell Ellie stories of his own.

Soon, Ellie learned of a plantation where a tall, opulent mansion dominated a round hilltop, seemingly tucked into the scenery amidst long, wispy grass and powerful oak trees. She learned of a small cabin in the back of the plantation where Thomas, his wife and three children lived. He told her of the life he had been plucked from in Martinique as a young man in 1847, less than a year before slavery was abolished in the West Indies, only to be sold to a plantation owner in Tennessee.

The more Ellie heard of Thomas's stories, the more confused she became. Slavery was a strange entity that was such a large part of her new home, and yet everything about it was so foreign to her. Unlike many of the new things she had encountered in America, however, the concept of slavery did not become familiar and comfortable with time.

Despite Ellie's discomfort with slavery, she was well aware that the practice affected every aspect of American culture and society. That was never more apparent than when Thomas occasionally rounded in the yard and house with food and water. Some days, Ellie found herself watching Thomas interact with the men in the house and the yard. His reception with each of them varied, and to her surprise, some of the Union soldiers were even colder to the man who made their food and gathered their water than the Southerners.

There is no inferiority between men, my children. There is no race that is smarter, better, or superior. We may be different, but we are, at our hearts, the same. And you ought never to forget that when you meet the eyes of another, you look into your own. And when in anger, you raise a hand against your brother, you raise a hand against yourself. Ellie remembered her Father's lessons, handed down in simplicity and a gently accented baritone, with remarkable clarity.

In Germany, slavery simply did not exist. While Ellie was aware from listening to her Father that Africans in Germany weren't completely free of prejudice, she was also aware that the potential to integrate into a new land stood in stark contrast to the rest of the European-governed world. Father had explained that many Africans were seen as valuable property, which was wrong, he was quick to add. However, in Germany, they were free to marry into any race, and while they were not yet viewed as equals, the tide of society was moving in a promising direction. Soon, he had predicted, all people would be seen as equal and all men would be free. Her Father had always upheld the same standards of equality and fairness, even as they prepared to move to America, a nation that openly disagreed with his deep-rooted beliefs.

While Everard's views were in close alignment with the German intellectuals of his time, Ellie knew that her mother's opinions on the same matter had shifted dramatically from where they had started. Carina was raised in Spain, and while slavery had been outlawed nearly a decade before her birth, Carina's parents had grown up with slaves and were in firm support of slavery. Carina herself had found her opinions changing when she met a soft-spoken yet unwavering German man, whose compelling opinions forever altered her view of what she had believed to be an irrelevant issue.

Ellie had first glimpsed slavery shortly after they had disembarked the Columbia on a chilly January day in 1861. From their small apartment on Lancaster Street, she watched men work from sunrise to sunset. Tall, strong men with lean and able bodies labored endlessly on the skeletons of soon-to-be ships until the sun dipped below the earth and the darkness set in.

One night, Ellie heard the front door open just as the final orange rays of sunset began to retreat from the darkening streets. Everard opened the front door and took up a place beside his daughter, following her gaze across the street to the ever-bustling harbor.

"Come in, my girl. Your mother has made dinner." He told her, his voice hardly commanding.

I am a first lieutenant at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

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Thanks, Viva! It's hard to find the time to let this story out, but it seems to be forcing its way into a Word document despite my busy schedule. Hope all's well with you, my friend.

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