I wrote the first draft of GRITS AND GLORY from multiple points of view. One of the characters whose head I jumped into from time to time was the Confederate commander of Company D – Captain Bane. Here are three of those scenes. If you have not read GRITS AND GLORY yet these scenes will spoil the ending to the story.
**Disclaimer–being an outtake, this is unedited and unreviewed! It has not been touched since I cut it from my first draft.**
Bane went in search of Frazier. Right now he needed some divine guidance. He found the chaplain talking with some of the men and drinking a cup of coffee.
Frazier stood and asked, “You want me to go talk with him?” He glanced to where Peter was tied.
“No. I want you to talk with me.”
The two men walked in silence. A heaviness to Bane’s step made him lag a little behind the chaplain. Bane massaged his neck with one hand. His head ached, a pulsing behind his eyes. The great burden he carried threatened to break him. Bane scanned the area to make sure no one was close by before stepping into his tent. Frazier followed.
“I have a problem, Chaplain,” Bane spoke in a low whisper.
“You can’t kill him, can you?”
Bane sunk onto his stool. “No. It’s not like blindly shooting someone on the field. I can’t blatantly break the sixth commandment thou shalt not kill.”
“I don’t know what you expect me to say,” Frazier said.
“How do you do it?”
“Fight and kill. How can a chaplain be a soldier? How do you deal with the fact that you could be taking someone’s life?”
Frazier glanced sideways. “Well, I, uh, I’ve never actually shot at anyone,” he said, his cheeks turning deep red. “I fire my musket at the ground.”
Bane’s headache intensified, and leaned back resting his head on the tent wall. He looked the chaplain in the eye. “You’re not going to help me, are you?”
“I can’t help you kill him or feel good about killing him.” Frazier’s voice was business-like and unfeeling.
Bane cringed inwardly. He stroked his long, graying beard. “Then what do I do?”
“As I see it, you have two options, possibly three,” Frazier said. “Option one: you’re priority to the Confederacy is paramount. You kill him and pray for forgiveness. Option two: you find someone else to kill him and try to forget about it. Option three: you try to find a way to not kill him period.”
“Option three seems impossible. Option two would make me look like an incapable officer.” Bane ran sweaty fingers through his hair.
“Just think about it,” Frazier said, standing. “That’s all the advice I can give you. Now you have to follow your conscience.”
Bane sighed exhaling for what felt like several minutes. “This whole business is going to gray all my hair. I don’t like any of my options … but I have to pick one of them.”
“The hanging’s canceled,” Bane said. He bobbed his head slightly at Peter, offering a tight, forced smile. “I figured you’ve been through enough to earn the right. We’re headed back to camp. Sergeant Fry, load twelve muskets one blank.”
They started walking back, and Frazier grabbed the captain’s arm. “What’s wrong?” Bane asked. He’d never seen the chaplain so excited. The man was wide-eyed and pale. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I didn’t see a ghost,” Frazier whispered. “I saw the hand of God.”
“I realize it was unlikely for both the rope and branch to break but—”
“But what? You were given a sign. You have to realize that.”
The two men walked away from the crowd so no one would hear them. Bane said, “So I recognize the sign.”
“Good? That’s all you’re going to say? I need direction here. God didn’t tell me what I’m supposed to do with Peter.”
“He will. Be patient.”
“Patient? I don’t have much time. I’m supposed to have him shot in a matter of minutes.”
Frazier smiled. “It will all happen in God’s time. Relax, you’re not in control.” Bane took a deep breath. “Keep taking those deep breaths and just walk back to camp. I have faith it will work out.”
“Work for it?” Bane asked, a hint of intrigue in his voice.
He pondered the proposal. This crazy idea had to be God’s answer. Still, he didn’t want to be too eager to accept it.
Peter spoke again in a soft, sorrowful whisper. “I understand if you don’t want to delay my execution but I’m offering to dig trenches, wells, or do any other work you want.”
The captain was silent for a moment. Joshua Warren sure had an odd son. He valued his family and yet had abandoned them.
“You’d do that just so your sister would get your body?” Bane asked, with raised eyebrows.
“Yes, sir. I can’t repay my sister for the time we lost. Now this is all I can do.”
Bane continued to study Peter. He couldn’t have planned it better himself. “All right,” he said, “it doesn’t really help me, but it’s all you have to offer. If this means that much to you, I’ll do it.”
A grin crossed Peter’s face. “Thank you, sir!”
“You realize I’m still going to kill you?” the captain asked, surprised at Peter’s elation.
“I know. But I feel my last act will make a difference. I’ll start working right away if you tell me what to do.”
The captain laughed. “All right. I can’t believe you’re so eager.” Peter Warren was a puzzle, Bane pondered, as they walked outside.
“What are you smiling for Yank?” Sergeant Snidow asked.
“Maybe because he’s not dying today,” Bane replied.
“What!” several men in the mob of soldiers exclaimed.
“We’ll fill him with lead in a couple days.”
“This is ridiculous. With all due respect, Captain, I think you’re going soft,” Snidow said. Many of the men agreed.
“Don’t worry; we will fill him with lead,” Bane assured them. I have my reasons.” His voice was sharp in a don’t-push-me tone. “But right now I want people to volunteer to watch him.” Several men raised their hands. “Yankee, you can pick your medicine.”
Peter chose Lewry and Dulaney. He knew they wouldn’t make his life miserable. Now that he had some extra time, he figured he could tell the boy what it was like to be a Warren.
“All of you get shovels and an ax and help him bury that dead horse,” Bane ordered.
“Help him!” Lewry protested.
“Does this job need to be supervised?” Bane asked.
“No,” Lewry said. “But you can’t expect just the three of us to bury that horse. It takes a lot of work.”
“Fine. I don’t care. Yankee you can pick another unlucky man. That way I won’t be the target of profanity.”
Peter looked around for Eaton and Sublett but neither was present. “Hale.”
“What? I didn’t volunteer,” he grumbled. Hale glanced over at Bane, “But I don’t mind doing it,” he added.
“You never said we had to work,” Lewry complained. “I wouldn’t have volunteered if I had known. Get someone else.”
“You never volunteer for any duty,” Bane said, his voice sharp and dry.