Johnny Reb

byAnn Douglas©

When he reached the fence at the road, he'd seen the two horses tied up outside. During the last two years he'd seen the accoutrements on them enough times to know they belonged to Yankee cavalry. He made his way to the house, carefully looking into the kitchen window. That had been the noise Butler had heard.

If he'd reacted better to his instincts, John had commented, Private Butler might be the one still alive. Still recovering from the shock of everything that had happened, Ashley didn't want to think about where she might be right now if the outcome of the situation had been reversed.

"I've tied them to their horses," John said. "I'll take them about a mile or two down the road and cut the horses loose. With luck, they'll be far away from here before anyone finds them."

"I wish we could keep those horses," Ashley said, her mind always trying to be practical and remembering that earlier Federal patrols had taken what few horses they'd had. "They'd be a big help around here."

"They carry US Army brands," John said, pointing to the small mark on the closest horse. "No quicker way to a noose than to be found with one of those."

Ashley realized he was right.

"Will you come back after you're done?" Ashley asked as John climbed up on the back of the horse carrying the smaller body of Private Butler and started to lead the two horses away.

The young soldier looked at her for a moment, a puzzled look on his face.

"So we can find your haversack," Ashley said. "It'll be dark soon enough and we won't be able to look for it until morning's light," she lied.

Remembering the task that had brought him back to the farm, John said he would be back in a few hours. Ashley waited until be was gone from sight before she headed to the well to get the haversack and the bucket she had left there. She would need the water to clean up what was left of the late unlamented Sergeant Virgil Rourke off her kitchen walls.

Long into the night, Ashley waited for the return of the young soldier. As the hours passed, it got so late she fell asleep in her chair. By the time she awakened to the morning's light, she was sure something had happened to him. A feeling of sadness filled her as she thought of the young man lying hurt or dead along the road somewhere. Or worse, caught by the Yankee Cavalry with the dead bodies of two of their own.

Worried as she was, there were still chores that needed to be done. That was if she wanted to go on eating yet another day. Pouring cold water into a bowl, she splashed it on her face and set out to face the day.

All through the day, and halfway through the next night, Ashley would pause in her labors and look for John. By the time she finally went to sleep that night, she resigned herself to the fact that he wasn't coming back.

About eleven o'clock in the morning on the second day since John had left, Ashley said a prayer over the graves of her parents. As was her habit, she laid what wildflowers she could find by their small stones.

She missed them terribly, her father most of all. She could still hear his voice when she closed her eyes at night, telling her the stories he told her as a little girl. Stories of the old country that his own parents had told him when he was young. Her favorites were his tales of the little people, and how he always promised her that some day she might find one of their treasures and live happily ever after.

"This land is my treasure, Papa," she said to the empty air. "And I'll never let anyone take it from me."

The sudden sound of a horse at the front of the house caused Ashley to jump to her feet, interrupting her prayer and vow. It seemed these days, horses usually meant Yankees.

Having learned her lesson in a way that would never again be far from her mind, Ashley now made sure her daddy's rifle was never far from her side. Making sure it was set and loaded, she rushed back to the house around to the front entrance.

To her relief, there was but a single horseman. More so, the coat he wore was far from Union Blue. Her face filled with joy as she saw the face of the rider.

"John!" she cried out as she lowered the gun and ran around to the side of the horse.

She stopped cold for a second when she saw the ripped leg of his trousers and the dark red bloodstains on the dirty material.

"Oh God," she cried even louder, "You're hurt!"

"They just nicked me a little," he said as tried to dismount, only to practically fall into her arms.

Thankfully, John was small enough for Ashley to carry him into the house. She doubted that he would've been able to make it on his own. Carefully, she led him to the small bed she'd made up in the living room.

"Let me look at this," she said as she grabbed the bowl of water she had poured earlier and dipped a clean rag into it.

John's assessment that they had only nicked him turned out to be true. The wound in his lower calf had been bloody for a while, but was already clotted. Carefully she washed it and then wrapped his leg in a bandaged she had boiled clean.

"What happened?" she asked, now that she was sure he wasn't badly injured.

"It's over," he replied, a touch of deep sadness in his voice.

"What's over?" Ashley asked, clearing away the bowl and washrag.

"Lee surrendered to Grant two days ago," John explained, "At some place up by the Appomattox River."

"Two days ago," Ashley said, wondering if Sergeant Rourke and Private Butler had known that. Not that it really mattered. "But how did you get shot?"

"After I got rid of the bodies, I started back along the Wilshire Road," John began, sitting up on the edge of the bed. " I came across some more dead Federals. From the look of it, they'd only been dead an hour or so. Old habits die hard, I guess, so I checked them for anything I could use."

Ashley recalled him doing the same with the two soldiers the day before. He had left whatever food he had found in their sacks with her.

"I found this bag on a Yankee Major," he said, indicating the worn pouch he'd strapped to his body, "and I guess I was so tired by that point that I didn't hear the patrol that came up behind me."

He handed the bag to Ashley who was surprised to find it very heavy. More concerned about her new friend that some war booty, she put in down alongside the bed.

"Two of the dead men were in civilian clothes. I don't know if they were Southerners or Yankee scouts. One of their horses was still there, and it didn't carry no Yankee Army brand. I jumped on the horse and took off, just as that bunch of blue bellies came up on me. I guess they figured I was the one that bushwhacked the dead Major."

"Thank God you managed to get away," Ashley said in relief as she wiped some of the grime from his face.

"Hasn't been a Yankee born that could catch me once I'm on a horse," John said with a touch of pride. "Course they can get lucky once and a while, that's how I got this," he added, indicating his injured leg.

"Well you're safe now," she said as she stood up, a memory of her beloved Stephen boasting of his horsemanship in much the same way. Until the day a lucky shot had ended all of their dreams. "You just rest now."

"But I wanted to tell you ab ..."

"I said you just rest," Ashley repeated in the tone she used to use when she cared for her younger brothers. "There'll be plenty of time to talk later."

On top of the long hike after he'd disposed of the bodies, John had been in the saddle for almost a day, avoiding the Federal Patrols that seemed to be everywhere. Once he finally gave in to the wisdom of her forceful suggestion, he slept for the rest of the day.

The sun had already set by the time John finally stirred. Ashley had made a stew out of vegetables from her garden and a squirrel she had managed to catch. Compared to the hard biscuits he had been living on, John considered the simple fare a feast.

After dinner, Ashley had carried enough water from the well to at least half fill the tin bathtub that her husband had sent all the way to Baltimore for as a anniversary gift. She started to help John undress, but he quickly objected to the idea.

"Don't be stubborn," she admonished him. "I was a married woman and I helped raise two younger brothers. I've seem what a man looks like under all that filth. Let me help you, you're hurt."

"I'll manage," John insisted.

"Men!" Ashley said as she threw up her hands in resignation and left him to bathe alone. "Just make sure you don't get that bandage wet," she added.

While John bathed, Ashley had found some of Robert's old clothes. They might not be a perfect fit, but at least they were clean. Averting her eyes in deference to John's silly need for modesty, the twenty-three-year-old opened the door to the small washroom halfway and pushed the pants and shirt inside.

John emerged a while later, looking cleaner than he'd probably been in weeks. With his blond hair cropped short and his face lacking even the semblance of facial hair, he now looked even more like the teenage boy Ashley had first taken him to be. Robert's clothes were a little loose on him, so he'd use a small piece of rope as a make shift belt.

Despite his earlier rest, he was still a little tired. Ashley insisted he take the bed, and in this case he was too drained to argue. They talked for a while and learned a little more about each other. Ashley told him of her life and how she had lost her husband and two brothers in the war. When she mentioned her younger brothers who were serving out west, John said he shared her hope that they might have survived. Inwardly, having seen so many of his comrades' fall as much to disease and infection as enemy action, he thought it was more than likely that they hadn't.

John in turn described how he had grown up on a farm that was smaller, but otherwise not too different than this one. His parents had been much poorer than Ashley's, but still they managed to have a fair life. He'd joined up with the militia as had all the other young men in the district. It had made his father so proud when he had first come home in his uniform. A few months later, one of the neighbors had written him to say that both his parents had died of the fever.

When Ashley inquired about any brothers or sisters, since it was unusual for a farm family to have only a single child, John reluctantly explained that his mother had such a hard time with his birth that the local doctor said that another pregnancy might kill her. Something in that answer seemed to increase the fatigue that he felt and he faded off to sleep soon after.

Sitting in her Grandmother's rocker as she watched John sleep, Ashley began to find herself filled with long buried stirrings. Aside from the incident with the Yankee soldiers, which she considered an act of violence rather than passion, it had been almost two lonely years since she'd been with a man. There had been nights she had given in to temptation and pleasured herself, but it really didn't compare with having a warm body pressed against hers.

John was more boy than man in many ways, she said to herself, yet he was already older than she had been on her wedding night. Additionally, if you factored in the life he'd led, and what he had seem in his short years, then he was almost older than Stephen had been the night they'd first made love.

"Listen to me," the twenty-three-year-old chided herself in response to her thoughts. "Next I'll be telling myself he deserves a reward for saving my life."

Deep down however, Ashley knew that whatever the reason she finally gave herself, she didn't have the strength of will to continue her long abstinence. There had been too many empty nights to let a chance for a brief happiness to pass.

Ashley rose from the chair and undid the ribbon that held back her hair. She shook her hair loose and then used her hands to straighten it as best she could. Reaching behind her back, she undid the few buttons that held her dress together. She laid her dress on the chair, following it a minute later with her undergarments.

The dim light of the remnants of the fire illuminated her nude form as she ran her hands up and down her body, stopping as she cupped her breasts. Her mounds, like the rest of her body, were no longer as firm as they once were. Too many days of hard work and missed meals had taken their toll. Still, she was sure John wouldn't be disappointed.

Lifting the blanket she had draped over him, Ashley climbed into the bed and pressed her body next to his. She wrapped her arms around him, drawing him to her. For the moment, she was content just to share his warmth. With a feeling of comfort she had so missed, Ashley closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.

Ashley awoke hours later, the light of the spring Moon filling the room. John's presence next to her felt so welcome that she was now sure she was doing the right thing. Softly she kissed his cheek, then ran her hand across his body. Silently, she undid his rope belt to give his borrowed pants enough slack to allow her hand to slide inside.

Her fingers reached between his legs as a look of confusion filled her face.

"I'm afraid you're not going to find what you're looking for," a now awake John said.

"What happened to you?" a confused Ashley asked as she quickly withdrew her hand.

"Nothing at all," John said. "I'm as normal as you."

"As normal as ..." Ashley started to say when the obvious suddenly occurred to her.

"That's right," John confirmed the look of understanding on Ashley's face.

"But you were in the Army."

"My father was devastated that his only child was born a girl," John explained as if it was the most natural thing in the world. "So to please him, my Mama raised me to be his son."

"And all your time in the Army," a curious Ashley asked, "no one ever suspected?"

"I just kept away from the doctors, what little good some of them were," John went on. "Thankfully I was never hurt bad enough to have anyone examine me too closely."

"None of the other soldiers ever ..."

"I don't exactly have the same sort of body as you do," said the young woman. "The kind that draws men like honey does flies."

Ashley recalled that the uniform John had worn was almost as baggy as the clothes she had lent her. Whatever small bosom it concealed, it was practically unnoticeable.

"With all those men around, you never felt ..." The older woman paused for the right word to describe what she herself had felt at that age "desires."

"Being raised as a boy, I never did feel toward other boys what girls are supposed to feel," John concluded. "And the only man who ever tried to put his hands on me was an old Sergeant a year or so back. And that was because he thought I was a boy. I never gave him the chance to find out otherwise."

Remembering what she, Ashley had to force herself to think of John as that, had done to the two Union soldiers, she shuddered to think what had happened to the sodomite inclined Sergeant.

"It's all so unbelievable," Ashley said.

"I guess that sort of changes your plans for tonight," John apologized. "I'm sorry."

"It doesn't have to," Ashley said, a mischievous gleam in her eye. Years ago, when Ashley had been at Miss Thompson's School for Young Ladies, she had learned a marvelous secret. Fourteen and filled with the urges that came with emerging womanhood, she had been taught by one of the older girls a lesson in how to deal with those newly discovered drives. It was a lesson that definitely hadn't been part of the school's curriculum.

The girl, whose name she remembered was Leslie Ann Barnes, was two years older than Ashley. One cold winter night, long after Miss Thompson and the rest of the staff had retired for the evening, Leslie had slipped into Ashley's room. With a gentle hand, the older girl had taught her how to satisfy those urges in a way that would allow her to go to her future wedding bed still a virgin.

In the months that had followed, Ashley spent many quiet nights exploring both her body and that of Leslie, learning how to both receive and give pleasure. In time, those sessions grew to also include some of the other girls that Leslie had taught. Only her summons home the following summer to help care for her younger brothers after her Mother's passing ended the sharing aspect of her special education. At least until she married Stephen.

"Do you trust me?" Ashley asked John.

"Yes," she answered.

"Then just relax and let me show you something I learned when I was about your age. Something wondrous."

Ashley unbuttoned her brother's borrowed shirt, discovering a thick bandage wrapped around John's chest, an important part of her male identity. Carefully she undid the covering until John's small breasts were exposed to the warm night air.

Ashley thought they were so much nicer than her own, firm and compact with bright pink nipples at the center. She ran her fingers over both nipples, feeling them grow hard at her touch.

"Mmmm," John moaned at the first touch of a hand not her own. "That feels nice."

"I know things that feel even nicer," Ashley smiled, remembering the nights spent with Leslie.

An expression long absent appeared on John's face and an emotion thought dead filled her breast. An emotion called Joy.

Ashley kissed the tips of John's small breasts, tickling them with her tongue. All the while her fingers massaged the soft flesh around them, sending a tingling sensation across the younger girl's chest.

John was wrong, Ashley decided, when she insinuated that the she had an unattractive body. True, she hadn't been gifted with those attributes that men so prized, but out of her filthy uniform and cleaned of all the grime, she was very cute.

As she continued to play with John's breasts, Ashley became aware of John's hands on her own. The smaller girl began hesitantly touching the larger mounds.

"It's all right if you want to play with them," Ashley laughed. "In fact I'd like it if you did. I'd like it even more if you kissed them."

John's eyes lit up as she brought her head down to Ashley's bosom and began licking and kissing the warm flesh. If anything, Ashley thought, she resembled an even younger girl suddenly playing with a new toy.

"You're doing very well," Ashley complimented. "Just kiss them like you were kissing someone's lips."

"I've never done that," John said as she suddenly stopped what she was doing.

"You've never kissed anyone?" a surprised Ashley asked.

"Just my Mama and Papa," John answered, "but I don't think that really counts, does it?"

"No dear, it doesn't," Ashley said, thinking that she had kissed her first boy at thirteen.

Yet when she thought about it, Ashley shouldn't had been surprised at John's admission. After all, growing up masquerading as a boy, who would she have had the chance to kiss.

"Well that's something we'll have to change right now."

Ashley sat John up on the bed and pressed their lips gently together. It was a brief kiss, the kind John had seen her parents give each other hundreds of times.

"That was nice," John said as their lips parted. "Can we do it again?"

"Of course," Ashley promised, "but this time, I want you to open your lips. You're going to feel my tongue in your mouth. When you do, I want you to tickle it with your tongue. Do you understand?"

"I think so," said John, now eager to try anything Ashley suggested.

As their lips touched, then opened to allow their tongues entry, Ashley remembered the first time she had tried this with Leslie. Back then, she had been the one in John's position. To her delight, the excitement of the moment was no less with the situation reversed.

They kissed three more times, each embrace longer than the last. A world never imagined was opening for John, one that she wanted to explore to the fullest.

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byAnn Douglas© 9 comments/ 8710 views/ 21 favorites

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