JULY / AUG 2013: BY ELLA G.
George Hazard watched the departing train head South. The last thing he wanted to do was let it out of his sight. It signified that events were truly transpiring, events he didn’t want to face, but he couldn’t do anything except acknowledge them. The South had fired on Fort Sumter; President Lincoln had called for Northern troops. It meant George would be on the opposing side as his friend, Orry Main.
When they first crossed paths in 1842, George and Orry were two young men headed for West Point. Orry was a South Carolina plantation owner’s son. George’s family owned an iron mill in Pennsylvania. Both were idealistic, filled with dreams of the future. Tensions might already be running high with the rest of the world over slavery and state rights, but for George and Orry, that didn’t matter. What began defending each other in a fist fight soon became a beautiful friendship.
George sighed, reflecting on all of the situations he and Orry had gone through together. Where would he start? Where would he end? Every single memory involved Orry in some way. There were thoughts of West Point and of the man who had it out for them: Elkanah Bent. Ever since they stepped foot in the military academy, they’d had an instant enemy. Bent put them on “report” together. Bent sent them into an ambush in Mexico together. Both George and Orry didn’t like the guy; maybe they’d manage to not cross paths with him anymore. For some reason, though, that didn’t seem likely. Bent always found a way to rear his ugly head in their lives; George knew it was only be a matter of time before it happened again.
George glanced towards his horse. He really should head home and let his beloved Constance know he was safe. Constance—the gorgeous Irish girl he had married. He’d met her in Mexico, the daughter of a doctor who saved Orry’s life. Once he set eyes on her, George knew she was the woman for him. He felt the way about Constance that Orry felt for Madeline. George stopped, pausing to remember. Orry was head over heels in love with Madeline, but people conspired against the two of them. Madeline was married, and was currently married to, Justin LeMont. LeMont was an abuser, both of his wife and of his slaves; Madeline deserved better. Maybe there would be a way, someday, that Madeline and Orry would find their way to each other but today wasn’t that day. Still, it made him be thankful that no matter what, he’d always have his wife and daughter, Hope, to hold close at night.
Slowly George made his way back to Belvedere, his family home. He wasn’t in any hurry to get back especially with his sister, Virgilia, being there. There was a part of George that wanted to blame Orry’s departure on her. After all, it was Virgilia’s doing that brought an angry mob to their door, an angry mob that wanted to lynch the Southerner, Orry. It hadn’t been the first time Virgilia had done something extreme to express her staunch Abolitionist views. She’d been the one to marry Grady, a black man—and one of the Main family’s escaped slaves. She lauded the works of John Brown and Harriet Beecher Stowe. There was no reasoning with Virgilia, no convincing her that not all Southerners condoned slavery. George knew Orry didn’t desire brutality; in fact, Orry would have been fine with the removal of the institution. But George also knew that for Orry, it was the South’s way of doing things. He wanted time honored traditions, the Southern lifestyle, to continue. It was a big reason why they agreed never to talk about the war or slavery—or any of those hot button issues.
Friends don’t always see eye to eye, George knew that. He still didn’t completely understand why Orry waited so long to allow his sister, Brett, to marry George’s brother, Billy. Sure, it made sense: a Southern girl marrying a Northern boy during such divisive times. No one wanted it, but Orry still made a stink about it. There were other little exasperations over the years but in the end, they didn’t matter. Time and distance managed to not matter in their brotherly relationship.
Orry’s train was out of sight now; George couldn’t even see a tiny speck in the distance. Who knew when, if ever, they would see each other again? Would they meet on the battlefield? Would they die in battle? Would their friendship ever be the same? And then, that is when his eyes fell on it once more: half of a ten dollar note.
That monetary note was a symbol of their friendship. On an occasion where Orry was bemoaning the fact he might not pass West Point, George bet him ten bucks that he would—and to make Orry more inclined to repay his friend (chalk it up to gentlemanly honor), George split the note in half. The note had been put together once before, but just a little while ago, they had split it up again. “Maybe it would bring them some luck and they would put it together when the war is over.” That’s what George had said, and he’d meant it with all his heart.
The war would divide brother against brother. But George wasn’t going to let that happen with Orry. His friend, his brother, would always be the person he roomed with, his best man, his business partner. Just because one was to wear blue and the other gray didn’t mean all the memories would cease to exist. In fact, George prayed for a speedy conclusion to the war so he could see his friend again.
“Take care of yourself, Orry,” George whispered into the April night. One single tear cascaded down his cheek. “And may we live to reunite once more.”
This “fanfic” was inspired by the 1985 and 1987 miniseries, North and South. With an all-star cast of both classic and current actors, this is truly a wonderful serial to watch. Content, though, can be problematic for some, so if you decide to watch it (and call it a guilty pleasure as I do) use your own judgment. Romance, action, adventure, heart… this has it all! ♥