New Orleans, 1862 — #3

The room into which the lad had been ushered into was obviously one in which doctors spent their leisure time. Two narrow cots and sparse furnishings indicated that perhaps little to no time was spent to relax and catch a few hours-worth of sleep.

Heavy footsteps were heard coming down the hallway that stopped abruptly in front of the room in which he had been told to wait. The door was thrust open and one of the orderlies snapped “follow me!” and took off in the opposite direction. The boots the lad was wearing clunked across the floor in an effort to keep up with the other’s long strides.

With the hat still on his head to hide the unkempt shaggy reddish-brown mop of hair, the youngster brought a coat-clad arm to his face to drive away the stench of the hospital… the aromas there ripe with death, decay, waste and anesthesia that were used.

Passing the numerous rooms, the boy had all he could do not to turn and bolt as the cries of the wounded, dying and demented permeated the air with words that held no meaning nor made any sense to those who took the time and listened. A somber pall seemed to have settled over the other-wise pristine space, taking up residency to instill a hallowed atmosphere within the walls.

Choking back the bile that rose the lad was finally relieved to have been shown into another room, much larger than the last, and proceeded to take long gulps of ‘fresh’ air into strained lungs. Shaking from head to toe, the lad quickly removed his hat, turning it in circles by the brim between his fingers and waited as he was told to do.

Another door opened and he was once again ushered into another room, this one more elaborately furnished than the last. A huge mahogany desk stood between two sets of French doors that were slightly ajar, allowing a cool breeze to waft within and perhaps ebb the pungent hospital odor elsewhere. In front of the desk were two high-backed chairs that looked more than uncomfortable, they looked as if they could be used as some form of torture.

One side of the office was filled with volumes and volumes of tomes, that one could only conclude contained medicinal information and the like. An ornate and medium-sized oriental rug, laden with vibrant blues, mauves, greens, reds and black was strategically placed in the middle of the room, immediately to draw attention to it, rather than the large over-stuffed chair that was situated behind the mahogany desk.

The lad chose to stand after being directed to one of the chairs, and after he had completed his appraisal of the room, fixed his gray eyes on the man who sat behind the desk. The same man with whom he’d encountered earlier when the other two had recruited his hat for a game.

The boy swallowed and began politely, though thoroughly chafed at having to ask such from a Yankee, “I done thought about that there work offered,” he began nervously, “I ‘spect it’s the only right thing for me to do n’all, seein’ that my aunt and uncle can’t righty afford to feed another. Ifn’ the job’s still available and y’all need the help, suh.”

With that being said, the boy, Charlotte “Charley” Morgan, felt and believed that she had just entered the lion’s den and there was no way to escape. However, she was still a Southerner, and as such, a smut streaked chin, lifted slightly, thinking that if this Yankee showed her any pity, she would just… she would just…. she would think of something, she was sure of it.

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