Confederate Gold Ch. 04

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Lost Cause

April and May, 1865, Danville, Virginia

The next two months were ones of hiding in the town of Danville among sympathizers whose loyalty had to be taken on faith and moving about, usually at night, to meet with other supporters and hear the news of the Union takeover of the state. The two loyal soldiers Singleton kept with him managed to find two wagons on loan, which held the remaining fifteen leather cases that had not yet been cached and that could be reached from the crumpled carriage cars camouflaged and increasingly obliterated by Virginia creeper vines. The boxes were hidden under bales of hay in a livery stable at the northern side of the town.

The men themselves were taken into one home after the other. The first thing they did was to burn their Confederate uniforms and clothe themselves in the garb of townspeople. What they couldn’t hide, though, was that they were fit men of military service age. Therefore, they had to remain hidden in garrets and outbuildings for the time that Singleton had to wait for contact from the government. There were Southern spies aplenty in the town, so he was at no loss for information. Unfortunately, he had to assume that there were Union spies about as well.

He was discouraged by the information he was receiving.

If he had expected a resistance movement to the signing of the surrender at Appomattox courthouse, he was sorely disappointed. The men were tired and defeated. Nearly to a man all they could think of was to go back to their homes to see if there were any homes to go back to. If the assets Singleton had helped to take away from Richmond were to raise a new army, it was clear to him that it would not be raised here in Virginia. Virginia had already given its all. It would have to be raised further south.

The first shock Singleton was to receive when he established his credentials and started receiving reports in Danville was that the train that had preceded his had headed south with a much lighter load of precious cargo than it had arrived in Danville with. More than $200,000 in Mexican coinage had been separated from the rest of the cargo in the second train. But at some time during the train’s stop in Danville, it had all disappeared. Singleton had let cases of assets slip through his fingers too, but nothing as massive as the loss of the Mexican coins. A few of Singleton’s informants were of the opinion that the coins hadn’t been stolen but had been hidden in the vicinity of Danville, but Singleton knew of no plan to hide any of the assets other than the ones that had been assigned to his train, so he was skeptical that they were still under Confederate control.

Then he learned that the bullion from the second train had been removed to wagons once the train had gotten well into North Carolina and split in two caravans, one going to the former U.S. Mint in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the other headed to meet up with President Davis and his cabinet in Georgia. As the first caravan approached Charlotte, though, they realized that the Union forces had already seized the mint compound. So, according to the spies, the treasure was packed in casks, barrels, empty ammunition boxes, and flour and sugar bags and sent in five different directions in five wagons—never to be heard of publicly again.

The biggest shock to Singleton came in the last week of May, when, trying to be quiet so that the family that was hiding him didn’t know the relationship between he and Eaton—thinking Eaton was just his personal slave—Singleton and Eaton were facing each other, in an embrace, Eaton’s legs encasing Singleton’s hips, and the two rocking against each other to provide the friction of Singleton’s hard cock moving inside Eaton’s channel. Singleton barely had time to roll in one direction to a sitting position on the side of his bed and Eaton to roll in the other onto the floor, hidden at the other side of the bed, when the anxious voice of an informant was followed by a knock and an entrance without permission to do so.

“Yes, what is it?” Singleton asked, irritated and covering his erection with sheeting from the bed.

“Davis is taken!” the nearly breathless courier announced in a strangled voice.

“What is this? Davis captured?” Singleton cried out.

“Yes, sir. On May 10th by the Union cavalry in Irwinville, Georgia.”

“The rest of the cabinet?” Singleton asked.

“Already dispersed by then. Some captured, I think. Others I know not about.”

“The caravan from the second train? The treasury that was to meet him.”

“It met up with him, sir, but it too is lost. The Union troops seized it and put what it contained in a local bank in Irwinville, but the bank was robbed on the 24th—just three days ago. It’s vanished. Whatever gold there was is gone.”

“Vanished. All vanished. The hope of the South vanished,” Singleton murmured. And, as if awaking from a bad dream, he thanked and dismissed the courier.

“What now?” Eaton asked, coming up onto the bed, and poker oyna reaching for Singleton, knowing there was only one way to console his master now and fully willing and able to do so.

“No reason to remain in Danville now,” Singleton said. “Now we move toward the coast. What do you think of going in search of a new world?”

“Wherever you go, I will go,” Eaton asked.

“For now, will you go on your back and open your legs to me?” the captain asked.

“Gladly,” Eaton said, and did so.

Race to the Coast

June and July, 1865

“What’s the significance of burying a cache here?” Eaton asked.

The two wagons and four men were standing in a grove of trees in the back acreage of a deserted farm just east of Roxboro, North Carolina. It had been a night and a day since they’d crossed to the south bank of the Dan River from Danville in the darkest night, entered North Carolina, and headed southeast. The two soldiers who had remained with them had just finished burying a dozen of the leather cases, leaving three on one of the wagons, and Singleton had marked trees in four directions from the cache with the symbols of the Knights of the Golden Circle.

“Nothing is significant here,” Singleton said. “Farther south, in Raleigh would have been better, the center of KGC activity in the Carolinas, but the Yankees hold that town already. They’ll just have to use the chart I’ve made up.”

Eaton had known that, indeed, Singleton had been making up a chart in some sort of secret language and using the same symbols he’d been carving in the trees—that he’d added to the chart at each location where treasure had been buried.

“There are still three cases,” Eaton said.

“Yes. Lyle, John, gather around, boys. It’s time to split up. We’ll each of us take one of these cases. All hopes of keeping the treasury intact for the Confederacy are long past. We must look to ourselves as well. You two pick first and I’ll take the last. This will be our payment for doing what we did. You pick first, John.”

As the four men gathered around the wagon and the solider named John contemplated the boxes, no one remarked on why the slave, Eaton, wasn’t getting a share. Each of them, including Eaton, still had the dissolving values of the South in mind as valid. None of them thought of Eaton as an equal even though he’d shared their trials and tribulations and quite possibly had saved Singleton’s life in the train wreck.

Having chosen and taken a case off the wagon, John laid it on the ground, hacked the clasp off with two swings of a shovel, and went down on his knees as he opened the lid.

“Well, Jesuzz S. Christ,” he exclaimed. “Paper. It’s all paper.”

Singleton and Lyle went down on their knees beside John and dug their hands into the case, all of them coming up with money certificates. Eaton stood off to the side, no part of the division of the spoils and knowing his place.

“It’s Confederate war bonds,” Singleton said.

“Worthless paper,” Lyle exclaimed in disgust.

“Not if the South rises again,” Singleton said, “but of little use for the moment, admittedly. Pick a box and see what you come up with, Lyle.”

Lyle’s box contained nothing but war bonds as well.

“Ah, this case is heavier,” Singleton said, pulling the last one off the wagon. “You men should have lifted them before choosing. Let’s see what I have.”

All four of them stood over the open case, staring down into it. There was a pile of Confederate war bonds, to be sure, but nestled in the center of the case were twelve small bars of gleaming gold.

“Guess you’re the lucky one,” John said, standing.

Whether it was because he was a generous man, or that he denoted something threatening in the bitter tone of John’s voice, Singleton quickly said, “Doesn’t seem fair not to share it out. If you and Lyle bury the cases with bonds with the other ones you’ve buried, you’ll get three bars each. I’ll just take six of them for Eaton and me.”

If any of the men caught the irony that Eaton now seemed to be in the count for a share—although Singleton didn’t word it so that a share actually went to Eaton—none of the men remarked on it. The two soldiers obviously decided that three bars each was better than going against their raising and military training to shoot it out in hopes of taking it all. With grunts of agreement, they went off to bury the three last cases.

Singleton was taking off his trousers and bade Eaton to do so as well.

“Here? Now?” Eaton asked. Singleton had been a randy one, for sure, on this journey, but it surprised Eaton that they’d be doing it right at this moment and here.

“You’ll find a needle and some thread in my bag,” Singleton said. “I want you to sew two bars each into our trousers—just below the hips on either side. I’ll keep two out in case we have an opportunity to turn them into something we can use.” He looked at the changed expression in Eaton’s face. “What, you wanted me to fuck you here and now? canlı poker oyna Can’t get enough of me, can you?” Then he laughed.

It wasn’t what Eaton had been thinking at all, but he couldn’t disagree that he couldn’t get enough of Singleton’s cocking, so he just turned back to the wagon to find the needle and thread.

When John and Lyle returned, Singleton said, “To be safe, it’s time for us to part company. Four men together on the road here would be taken as three too many by a Yankee patrol. You two take that wagon. There’s a horse for each of you and the saddles from horses on the train. Head out any direction but east by south. If you part from each other, just make sure the wagon isn’t left anywhere near here.”

After thanking them for their service and noting, with regret, that they’d probably not be able to be in touch with him again unless—and until—the Confederate army was reconstituted, he and Eaton stood there and watched the two men ride off in one of the wagons toward the southwest.

When they had asked Singleton where he was going—there didn’t seem to be any question that Eaton would be going anywhere Singleton went—the captain just said, “Better you don’t know.”

As the wagon went over the horizon, Eaton asked, “Where are we going from here?”

“East by south,” Singleton answered. “We’ll drive the wagon for a few hours and then switch to the horses. We can move faster that way.”

“But to where? Where are we headed?” Easton asked.

“Better you don’t know either,” was the only answer the captain gave. “It’s enough for you to know that I’m taking you with me and will protect you as best I can.”

* * * *

Charles Singleton pulled his horse to a standstill. “We’re here.”

“We’re where?” Eaton asked, pulling his horse up to beside Singleton’s.

“We’re here. Our destination. On top of that hill. Warrenton.”

Eaton looked to where Charles was pointing. The columned house had once been imposing but now it looked forlorn. All of the trees and foliage around it had been denuded and the stucco that covered it was yellowed, cracked, and peeling away.

Eaton’s eyes kept glancing at Charles as they rode up to the house and he noticed that, with every stride of the horses, Charles’ jaw set harder and his eyes seemed to sink deeper into his skull. Eaton didn’t try to engage him in conversation as he obviously was reminiscing about Warrenton of the past and grieving for Warrenton of the present.

“Maggie, Toby,” He said as they reached the steps up to the columned front porch running the width of the house. Two dark-skinned servants in mended clothes had come out of the door and slowly descended the stairs.

“Massa Charles,” the male—Toby—said, his eyes big and a grin spreading across his face. “The Lord be praised. You’re alive and have come to us.”

“Yes, Toby, I live,” Singleton said. “Is Caroline here? And Tyler?”

“Miss Caroline, yes,” the woman—Maggie—said, coming down the stairs and wiping her hands on her skirt. Both she and Toby had turned their eyes on Eaton—and narrowed them. “We ain’t heard nothin’ from Massa Tyler for some time, though.”

“Well, tell Miss Caroline I’m here, will you? We’ll stable the horses before coming to the house.”

But then the young woman, favoring the good looks and coloring of Charles Singleton to the extent that she had to be his sister, Caroline, came running out of the house, down the steps, and into her brother’s arms. Half way through their joyous reunion, Caroline turned her eyes to Eaton. The expression in her face—one of interest and speculation—was quite a contrast from the view the two black servants had taken of him.

Shooing Maggie and Toby off to start a meal going, which Charles and Eaton only later learned involved chickens that had been held back for laying and the last of the flour in the pantry, Caroline took the two men upstairs to settle them into bedrooms. She flitted around, nervously acting the Southern belle, latching onto Charles as if he would melt away into the mist if she didn’t hold him to the ground and fluttering her eyelashes at Eaton.

“You all take your rest now. Toby will see to bringing up some hot water for you, and if you have no clean clothes with you, Toby will help find you some from Tyler’s bureau.”

“Have you heard from Tyler?” Charles said.

“I’m sure he’s on his own way home. Now supper will be at eight and feel free to rest until then. This is your bedroom, Charles. Mr. Matthews here can have the room across the hall, the last one at the back.”

“Uhh, about that,” Charles said.

“Oh, it will be so gay to have young men at my table again,” she said, breathlessly, as she moved to the door. “Come with me, Mr. Matthews, and I’ll show you where you will be.”

Charles just shook his head as he found himself alone in his room. He wondered what Caroline would do when she found out about Eaton.

She found out between the main course and when fruit was to be served internet casino for dessert.

During the first two courses, as Caroline chattered on in her Southern hostess mode and gushed over her two guests, Eaton more than Charles, Toby, who was serving, concentrated on giving Eaton the fisheye as he walked around the table. At the end of the main course, Toby asked a confused-looking Caroline if he could consult with her in the kitchen.

When they withdrew, Eaton looked at Charles and said, “I believe I should excuse myself and see about accommodation among the others.”

“Yes, I think that would be best,” Charles answered. “I will find you later.”

When Caroline returned, subdued and no longer giddy, she was visibly relieved to see that Eaton no longer was there and acted as if he’d never been there in the first place. Charles said nothing either, realizing that Caroline would not have discerned that Eaton was a quadroon. Charles hadn’t been treating Eaton as his slave and only close scrutiny—which Toby and Maggie automatically performed——identified him as nonwhite.

Charles quickly moved to change the subject. “I’ve looked at the fields, Caroline. They are fallow. They should be sown to wheat and corn now, shouldn’t they? I know that it must be tough until Tyler returns, but—”

“I don’t think Tyler is coming back, Charles. Do you?” Caroline’s voice suddenly hard. “And, as for the fields, what we can do now is the kitchen garden and that’s about it. And I do my full share in tending that garden. Did you look around and count noses? Did you see any darkies here other than Toby and Maggie today? They’re gone. They’re all gone. I wanted tonight to be a return—if only tonight—to how we grew up. And I couldn’t manage more than just tonight. I can’t promise we’ll have eggs for your breakfast, because we ate layers tonight. I wanted . . . Oh, Charles, I just once wanted it to be like it was before.”

Having finally burst her own bubble, she rose and rushed out of the dining room, leaving Charles with his own thoughts. He looked around the dining room, realizing that many of the fancy objects that had once graced this house were gone. He had known there was something different about the house when he’d gone through it earlier. Now he realized that it was what was missing—the whole world that had made the South gracious and refined had been stripped away by this war. Piece by piece his sister’s life had been whittled down to one ruined evening of being unable to recapture the world she once had known.

He sat and thought for a while, taking another sip of his now-cold coffee, just now realizing that what he’d just thought was badly made coffee wasn’t really coffee at all. After a few minutes, he reached over and took up a sharp knife, put there to help him manage the less-than-tender chicken he’d been served. He slit his trousers, which he had refused to change from, at the hip, took out the small gold bar that had been hidden there, carefully laid it on the table, and rose and left the house, looking for Eaton. He felt no guilt in giving her a portion of the Confederate treasury. She and other women like her had given so much to the South. It was right, he thought, for the South to give a token back.

He found Eaton on slave row, in the first, now-abandoned cabin. Eaton had had his pick of nearly all of the huts on slave row.

“I’m sorry,” Eaton whispered as Charles entered the hut and started to strip down. “I wouldn’t have stayed in the house. I just didn’t know how to bow out without upsetting your sister.”

Eaton wasn’t surprised that Charles was undressing as soon as he entered the hut. Eaton had stripped and waited, not knowing whether Charles would come to him or not. He just knew that he couldn’t go back up to the house, to Charles, and that it was Charles’ choice on whatever would happen. Eaton wasn’t the master; Charles was.

“I understand,” Charles said as he came over, sat on the side of the cot, and pulled Eaton’s torso up to him. “I should have done something, but she wasn’t leaving an opening for me to do so either. It all has settled down to be as it should, though.”

It had settled down, he’d said. No questioning of the values of it in what the loss of the Confederacy meant at all—not from Charles and not from Eaton.

As they kissed, Charles stroked Eaton’s flanks, moving to the young man’s buttocks. Sighing, Eaton turned to facing down on the cot, raising his buttocks, and widening his stance, as Charles’ fingers went to exploring around and then inside Eaton’s channel. As usual, Eaton then accommodated whatever Charles wanted.

There was no speaking when Charles came up on the bed, mounted Eaton, slid deep inside him, and began to pump.

* * * *

There was no mention between brother and sister of Charles leaving a gold bar on the dining room table, but when Charles said he’d take Caroline into the nearest town with a bank if she wanted to go, she took him up on the offer. She was able to open up a line of credit at the bank, and over the following two weeks her holdings of livestock—a few cows, lambs, pigs, and chickens grew to enough to sustain Caroline and those slaves—now free servants—who had stayed on at Warrenton.

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