“Papa said you couldn’t find any tracks,” said Alex, in an off-hand way. “And there was no handkerchief either.”
“But the horse was there, Alex,” insisted Paul. “I saw it. So did Papa. I even touched it. It was there.”
Alex shrugged her shoulders and changed the subject. “Where are your new letters, Pauli?” she asked, sniffing loudly in a comical fashion. “I can smell them all over this room. Someone went to a lot of trouble to fake those.”
“Just keep thinking that, Sis.” Paul forced a grin at his sister, not letting her rattle him. “I finally have a neat relic; it’s real; and tomorrow I’m going to show it to Joey.”
“Hah! He knows even less about what’s real or unreal than you do.”
“Think so? He’ll know my letters are real.”
Alex sighed, and changed her expression to a pitiful grin. “Pauli, was the real reason you bought that junk to outdo Joey?”
“No, Sissy dear,” replied Paul. “The real reason I bought those letters was because I happen to like old stuff.” Paul squared himself, Dennis the Menace on the defensive, his arms and hand stiffly at his side. “And Civil War stuff is about as old as we find around here.”
“You and Joey make quite a team.” She giggled into her hand, then turned and walked out of Paul’s room and downstairs.
Annoyed at Alex’s references to foul odors and fake relics, again, Paul thought about yelling something downstairs at his sister, but decided against it. It was too late for a real fight. Besides, Alex would just laugh it off and make him even more angry. Instead, he put on his pajamas, took his letters from the drawer and began to read one. He read three quarters of a page down to where the writing became faded. He picked up another page, brittle enough to crumble in his hand. Replacing the fragile page carefully with the others, he wondered what he could do to preserve them better.
After he put his letters back in the drawer, he lay down and thought about the part he had read. The writer had described a night march in the rain and a place called Willow Springs somewhere in Alabama. It felt good to read real history, first hand. The thought gave him a warm satisfaction and he was soon asleep.