After the Civil War

Sarah and the Henhouse Guest, Part 1

Sarah and the Henhouse Guest, Part 1
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.37

     challenging words:    bustled, flickered, wounded, flesh, farmhouse, mass, blessed, destruction, matted, wrinkled, coiled, sorrow, daydream, comfort, somehow, doing
     content words:    War Between, Reverend Calhoun, Tennessee Cavalry, Miz Calhoun, Uncle Raymond, But Mrs, Elijah Sam

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Sarah and the Henhouse Guest, Part 1
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     Sarah opened the door of the henhouse. The hens bustled about, fussing at her. She wrinkled her nose. Whew! It always smelled bad in there. She picked up the eggs from the straw nests. Two. Not like the twenty or so she used to find. But she was glad to be able to gather eggs at all. Like everything else, eggs had been scarce during the war.
2     The war...In her mind, Sarah heard again the terrible sounds. The War Between the States they called it. It had roared and churned all around them--the rifle volleys, the BOOM! of the cannons, the shouts and screams. They were the sounds of destruction and death. Sarah had seen both.
3     Every time she had heard the sounds, Sarah had prayed for her father. Reverend Calhoun was Chaplain of the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry. "I will not bear arms against other men," he had told Sarah. "But I can bring God to those who need Him. Who needs Him more than these boys marching off to die?"
4     "We do, Daddy," fifteen-year-old Sarah had thought. "What about us?" But she'd kept quiet. She'd waved goodbye as her father left with the other soldiers. Later, she'd helped her mother nurse the wounded at their door. She'd even helped ready the dead for burial. Each time she wondered about her father. Was he in pain? Was he alive?
5     Finally, the fighting began to wind down. Then came the hungry months. Streams of people had crossed their ruined farm. Soldiers, mostly, trying to get home. Sarah's mother had fed them all. Reb or Yank, black or white, it made no difference to Mrs. Calhoun. They all needed a hot meal. They all needed, Mother said, a touch of mercy, a bit of comfort.
6     Several times a day, there would be a knock on the door. Each time, Mrs. Calhoun had warmly greeted the visitor. She had scraped together something, somehow. The last of their large flock of chickens had long since gone into the stew pot. Sarah had marveled. Her mother could make a meal when it seemed that their cupboards were bare. "We have been given much," Mother had said firmly. "We must give to those who come to us."
7     It was true, Sarah thought. They had much to be thankful for. The farmhouse had been damaged. But they still had a home. Many families didn't. Sarah and her two younger brothers had lived through the fever. But thousands had died of disease after the shooting was over. And since the war, Mother had fed many poor souls. But her family had never gone hungry.
8     Best of all was the letter from Father! He had been wounded, but he was alive. He'd be home soon. Over half a million Southern men would never come home again. Too much sorrow, Sarah thought. Too much to take in. How could her family be so blessed?

Paragraphs 9 to 18:
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