[email protected] copyright by Steven A. Gentry
Cover Photos and Cover Art: public domain images
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Authors Disclaimer Statement
The following text is a work of fiction. All the characters, places, organizations, objects, and events portrayed in this novel are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any actual persons (living or deceased), or, places, objects, organizations, or events are purely coincidental.
By Steven Gentry
Let me tell you one thing; it is a scary situation facing your first man down in a duel. Dueling was officially outlawed by the United States government after the death of Alexander Hamilton at the hands of Aaron Burr however that is not say that it did not take place in American. In fact it did continue to take place in the old south up until the time of the War Between the States.
It was the spring of 1850 and the War Between the States would not take place for another eleven years. I was 18 at the time and boy was I full of myself. Most of all like many young men I often let my urges for female company overrule what little intelligence I had at the time. It was over a woman that I had my first duel. At the time I thought she was a real beauty and I had my sights set on marrying her. In hindsight I mostly had my mind set on future debauchery.
My rival for her hand also came from a wealthy southern family. In hindsight he probably would have made her a better husband than I. Never the less I was young and stupid. Just how stupid, I was just about to find out. After our verbal exchange of insults at a ball the night before I foolishly challenged him to a duel which was to take place the following afternoon. He seemed to delight in my challenge because that was precisely what he had been hoping for.
One of my friends begged me to reconsider my folly.
“Think what you do man. He is a superb swordsman. He has already killed several men in duels. I know that you are good, but he is seasoned. Please reconsider.”
I was beyond reason. My honor had been insulted. Furthermore my ego had been severely bruised. I was not going to tolerate that.
The following afternoon we met at the edge of a cow pasture on a neighboring farm. As far as our choice of weapons we agreed upon rapiers. We had each brought one friend to serve as our seconds. About fifteen other people many from neighboring plantations arrived to enjoy the spectacle. To many of them it was the only form of lively entertainment of the day. Now in the year 1921 we at least have radio along with silent movie pictures to entertain us. Back then we had very little. It is amazing how much times have changed.
He was a seasoned warrior and I was a greenhorn when it came to and actual duel. No amount of training can really prepare you for the real thing. After he had inflicted several superficial cuts upon my person during out brief exchanges of the blade I woke up to reality. He was twelve years my senior and despite being trained in some of the best schools of swordsmanship of the day I was outmatched. Furthermore I was starting to lose blood very rapidly. I believe it was the combination of fear and pride that kept me standing upright. There was no way I was going to neither yield nor beg for mercy. I would die with honor before I would do that.
He seemed to be growing bored with the confrontation as we slowly circled each other. He was simply using me as a source of amusement and I knew it. I was facing certain death and it was a miracle that I did not pee my britches or even worse. Finally he closed the distance coming in for and attack in a style that I had never seen before. How I was able to ward him off I do not know but somehow I did it. As he was retreating I saw my opening. It was only a brief one. I knew that I may not get another opportunity.
I executed a quick rip roast then slid my turned my blade sideways slipping it between his ribs thereby piece ring his heart. Gasp of surprise escaped the lips of many of the spectators. I must admit that I was surprised myself. The look of shock upon my opponents face was beyond description.
I quickly withdrew my sword from his chest and stood ready to execute another thrust should it be necessary. Fortunately it wasn’t.
As he lay dying at my feet he looked up at me with fear in his eyes.
“I have severely underestimated you Mr. Chantry. For that I am sorry. I guess the last laugh is mine. Now look closely for you have now become what I once was. A killer. Enjoy your new life victorious one. There is no going back now.”
With that last statement he breathed his last breath then passed into the afterlife. Reality then struck me a severe blow. He was right. I had become a killer and most of all for no good reason. I had needlessly taken another human life. In the upcoming War Between the States I would take many more, but on that day I truly lost my innocence and believe me that was something scary.
Just a word of note: I never married the woman that we had the duel over. She found another that suited her better.
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One of the combatants is a seasoned veteran to the sword. The other is a young neophyte who quickly learns that the greatest adversary one often faces is ones own fears.