“Your mother’s dead,” Roland said. “Winter of ‘62. The cause was probably grief over her turncoat son.”
Pick had expected as much—his mother’s health had been tenuous for the last 15 years—but the news still clawed at his insides. “Here I thought losing both your home and the war might teach you some humility, Uncle. But I see you’re just the same as you ever were.” He replaced his hat and turned to leave. “Thanks for ignoring all my letters, and letting me think she was still alive. I wouldn’t have bothered finding you if I had known.”
“Did you rape a lot of wives and daughters while you and those other murderers were destroying Georgia?” Roland called after him.
“I wasn’t with Sherman,” Pick said, stepping into the stirrups of his dappled gelding. “Not that facts ever mattered to you.”
“I knew you were worthless from the beginning,” Roland said. “I curse the day my sister ran afoul of that Holy Joe father of yours. Your mother’s parents would turn over in their grave if they knew what kind of man you turned out to be.”
Pick wheeled his horse around and rode away.
On the road Pick passed a red-bearded man wearing a Confederate jacket, riding the opposite way. Thousands of soldiers on both sides were being released from their regiments. The man’s hateful expression wasn’t that novel, either. Many a Johnny Reb wore it, these days.
Back in town, Pick searched for the mounts of his traveling companions, and found them tethered outside Osmond’s Tavern. He tied off his own horse and stepped inside.
Before the war, men who wanted to get out of the heat or cold and enjoy a drink would go to Petiot’s Inn. Tanner’s Grove was a different town, now. Osmond was a scalawag who cashed in on the surrender by opening a place where Republicans and even Union soldiers would be relatively safe while they drank or gambled.