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Orphan Train : A Short Story

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Charlie stepped out of the General store at the sight of the wagon train rumbling down Main street, watching as it came to a stop on the side of the road. Mrs. Kramer, the shopkeeper's wife, followed her out.

“Who do you think they are?” Charlie asked the older woman, unconsciously moving her hand to rest on the handle of her k-bar.

“It’s an Orphan Train,” Mrs. Kramer replied, holding up a hand to block out the noon day sun. “Had word they were headed this way about a month ago.”

“An Orphan Train?” Charlie repeated as she watched dozens of children being herded out of the wagons and sat along side them.

“Uh huh, all those young’uns are orphans and those good christian folks are helping to find them new homes. In return for a generous donation of course,” the woman continued with a frown. “Most of those young’uns are more likely to become slave labor than a part of any family.” With a shake of her head, the woman disappeared back inside the store.

Leaning against a post, Charlie watched as several older girls and boys were chosen along with a few of the younger ones as well, when the sound of a crying baby caught her attention. Slowly scanning the line of children, she spotted a little boy, no older than four or five, trying to hold a baby in his too small arms. Not thinking about what she was doing, Charlie stepped off the sidewalk making her way over.

“Hey there, what’s your name?” Charlie asked softly, as she crouched down in front of the boy holding out a finger
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