The Winter of Red Snow
the diary of Abigail Jane Stewart
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The baby is sick. Elisabeth and I have stayed home from school to help. When I tucked Sally into her trundle last night she threw her arms around my neck sobbing, "Shall this baby die like the others?" Elisabeth kneeled to kiss Sally, but she, too, began to weep, then so did I. Mama has birthed nine children; three girls-that's us- and now six boys. We have not had a brother live through his first winter. After Sally had cried herself to sleep, Elisabeth and I lay in bed whispering. Soon she was quiet. I crept across the cold floor to look out the window. The creek looked like a silver ribbon winding its way among the trees toward the Schuylkill River and the house were Mrs. Hewes lives. Her upstairs window glowed with candlelight, and I hoped she was awake, praying for our baby. I was.
I woke to sleet hitting the window and another sound I'd not heard before. A drumbeat. Papa came in from milking and said, "The soldiers are coming." ...Finally, through the gray, we saw them. Three officers on horseback led. We ran outside to cheer, but the men were quiet and thin. The sight of them took my breath away. "They have no shoes," Elisabeth whispered. We watched for several minutes as they passed by. We were unable to speak. Their footprints left blood in the snow.
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