Beauty clouds judgment . . .
Morning came with a light rain, but Buck liked the weather. He only wished that it might let up so he could again try for colors. The adjutant cadet had always been a fair fellow and Buck hoped that the feelings against him were only at the most local level. By breakfast just a mist covered the battery, and the sky hinted at a clearing day. With a small bit of confidence, Buck, after parade, tossed his rifle to the adjutant for inspection.
“Crenshaw, step forward, please. It’s been reported by the officer of the guard that you were seen leaving camp without permission with a civ, and that upon your return, you refused to acknowledge the sentry who hailed you.”
“Sir, no one called me.”
“So you admit to leaving without permission?”
“Yes, sir, I admit to it,” Buck replied, his insides burning.
The adjutant looked over Buck’s gun. “The gun is wet.”
“It’s raining, sir,” Buck responded.
The adjutant tossed it back to him. “Not good enough, cadet. You’ll be given Saturday punishment for your absence last night.”
“Yes, sir,” Buck replied, his head pulsing with anger.
A few of the roughs snickered at Buck’s defeat and one lowly plebe met his eyes with an impudent stare.
“You sniveling little bastard, I’ll have your ass!” Buck said louder than he meant to.
“Cadet Crenshaw, I’m writing you up for using a profane expression,” the officer of his company informed him.
“What? But, sir . . .”
“Did I give you permission to speak, Crenshaw?”
Buck said nothing. The traditional 28th of August hop, when the furlough boys returned, fell on Saturday and now Buck pulled extra guard duty. It was also the day when promotions were announced for the next year.
Before riding class, Buck met an uncomfortable Streeter, leaving their tent. Buck pushed past him and threw his gun to his cot. “Some ass-lick hived me for leaving camp with my brother.”
“That was your brother?” Streeter asked. “I don’t understand.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I never would have hived you—only that a cadet in furlough dress came up and said I’d neglected my duty by letting you pass. I thought it was a test—an officer crawling me,” Streeter explained.
“So you reported me?”
“Well, I had to—it’s what sentry duty is for and I have no intention of failing at it,” Streeter said.
“But you lied,” Buck said. “You never hailed me.”
“No, maybe I didn’t. I suppose I should have. But I have to watch out for myself, you know. I don’t want demerits or worse.”
“Yes, I guess you wouldn’t want the truth to interfere with your spotless record, but thanks for sullying mine!” Buck said.
“Oh, don’t be like that. You’d have done the same.”
“Would I?” Buck shoved Streeter.
“It’s only a few demerits anyhow,” Streeter said, “and a little extra guard duty . . . no need to touch me.”
“Guard duty on the 28th, Streeter! I was to meet someone there at the hop.”
“Sir, I feel sorry that you’ll miss one hop, but think of me. I’ll never get to a hop at all.”
Buck stared at him. “Why would you want to go anyhow? All of the girls are white.”
Streeter looked disappointed. “And I can’t appreciate them?”
“But, you’d never be with one . . .” Buck stammered. “I intended to tell Rose Turner I plan to marry her. I’ve waited all summer. Now I don’t know what’s to be done.”
“Marriage? Now isn’t that a bit hasty, sir?”
“Is it your business, mister?” Buck asked. He took some water and changed his tone. “Streeter, the thing is, well, my brother, who now works against me because of you, admires the very girl I intend to have as MY wife. This was my chance—this summer—to impress her, but now I’ve missed so many of the hops and all opportunity to see her. I thought she might be won over if I got colors.”
“What?” Buck sat upon his bed.
“Have you ever even spoken to this girl?” Streeter asked.
“Once, yes, I have. We danced and we spoke.”
“Once?” Streeter laughed again.
“Yes, what of it?” Buck asked. “Of course I’d hoped there would be more time and now . . . my hopes are dashed.”
“Sir, you’re a caution! You must see that it’s foolish to even consider marrying a girl you don’t know. Its pure folly and I’m thoroughly surprised that someone with your future would take such a chance.”
“You don’t understand, Streeter. She’s very beautiful.”
“From what I’ve heard, sir, you’re one of the more brilliant scholars to come through here,” Streeter said, “but I humbly suggest that you’re being a damned fool.”
“Well, the truth is that my brother has a habit of taking everything I want,” Buck replied, his face reddening.
“So you’d marry a girl to get at your brother?”
Buck looked up with starry eyes. “But if you only saw her you’d understand.”
“No, sir; I won’t be swayed by looks when my time comes. My weakness is for a strong woman who likes to care for me. Looks fade, but you can’t beat a good cook.”
Buck shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t care about food that much.”
Streeter made a move to go. “Well, sir, Thursday evening is band practice. Maybe you’ll get to know your girl better then.”
“Yes, I’ve sent word for her to meet me,” Buck said.
Streeter gave him a sympathetic glance.
PART ONE HERE
PART TWO HERE
PART THREE HERE
PART FOUR HERE
PART FIVE HERE
PART SIX HERE
PART SEVEN HERE
Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!
“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review