It was 1865. Near the end of the Civil War. Hard times for everyone. Families often ate rotten food, or sometimes none at all. Up North a little more, the Yankees of the North and the Confederates from the South were locked in a deep, bloody Civil War over whether or not their country would stay together or separate the North and the South.
A young girl lives deep in the woods of Virginia...Confederate territory. Her family scrounges up enough food for them to live on, but not by much. Her older brother, Jacob, had volunteered to be a soldier in the army. Rose almost cried when he went away. He was her favorite brother.
One night, she was making her usual rounds, checking the chicken coop and the barn, when she heard strange shuffling noises. She ran back to the house, and got her brother, Philippe. They crept round the henhouse, still hearing the same noises. Philippe yanked open the door. He looked down, and let out a strangled cry.
"Well, what do you know, Rose? We done found ourselves a Yank."
"Appears that way, Philippe. A Yankee soldier, no less."
"Get up, you! Stand here where I can see you!"
He slowly crawled out of the chicken coop, and stood to his full height of almost six feet. He looked about a year or two older than herself, but she couldn't be sure, because he was so skinny and dirty.
"Please don't harm me. I was just looking for a warm place to sleep, was all."
"I wouldn't reckon that we'd believe a Yank," he said. "But I guess we can help you get home. Where do ya live?"
"I ain't got a home."
"Well, we'll get ya cleaned up, and fed a good meal, before we send you on your way."
"I thank you kindly, now."
"Well, what's your name, boy?"
"Jack. Jack Dawson."
"Well, Dawson, come with me. You can sleep in the hayloft in the barn, and Rose, go get some of the leftover cornbread from supper."
She ran to the house as fast as she could. This man, Yank or not, looked like he hadn't eaten for days, maybe weeks. She sneaked the food to the barn, and watched him eat everything faster than her eyes would go.
"Thank you, ma'am, for the food. I'm much obliged."
She turned her head in disdain, but was already formulating a plan in her head... she was going to see him again...tonight.
"Now that you're fed, Yank, it's about time to clean you up. I brought some soap, and you can use the bucket over there to wash yourself. We'll be waiting outside, so no funny stuff!"
She turned on her heel, followed by Philippe, who repeated her warning.
Ten minutes later, he stepped out of the barn, looking like a new man, or boy. All cleaned up, with the dried blood and mud off his face. He looked no older than Rose.
"Well, I sure am beat," Jack said. "I'll head to the hayloft for my first good night's sleep in a while."
"Rose, Mama's still visiting Aunt Laura, so she ain't gotta know anything about this. Understood?"
"I'm not gonna watch him. I don't know why, but I feel like I trust him."
"Good night, Philippe."
"Good night, Rose."
She walked back to the house, and went upstairs to her room. She took off her corset, glad to breath normally again, and got in her long, flannel nightgown. She was going to wait fifteen minutes, and then sneak out her window. Philippe was not a sound sleeper, and the bottom step creaked, so he'd be sure to hear her.
She slowly opened the window and got out, careful to leave a stick under the frame so she could get back in. She crossed the roof, and made her way to the barn. A landing was just five feet away, and she was sure she could make it. She backed up to get a running start, and soon leaped off the edge. Her fingers just caught the landing. She shrieked aloud. A face appeared in the barn window. He quickly pulled her up, and then through the window.
They talked for hours, and when daylight started to come, they decided on a plan of action...they were going to run away together. Jack had been alone most of his life, and had managed to provide well enough for himself and another, so they were leaving as soon as Rose could collect her things. She jumped back to her roof, and found a satchel to carry her things.
I'm sorry I have to leave you like this, but I've fallen in love with Jack. I know what you're going to say, with him being a Yank and all, but I have looked past that, to see what a wonderful person he is. Someday, I hope you will find someone to love as much as I love Jack. I have to say good-bye now, but I wish you the best, and maybe someday I'll write you. I beg you not to send out a search party. I know what I'm doing, and will do it, no matter what you say. I wish you the best, and look forward to seeing you again.
Rose DeWitt Bukater
As soon as it was full, she tossed it to Jack, and leapt for the ground.
"I didn't know you were so athletic, for a girl. Especially in that long skirt."
"Well, let's get going. Philippe should be waking up in a little while. I left him a note."
"Aw...gosh, Rose, I wish you hadn't done that. He might know where we're heading now."
"No. I made sure not to say anything that would give him a clue."
"Rose, I love you."
"I love you, too, Jack."
They kissed on the hill just as the sun rose, as bright and passionate as the lovers themselves.