. . . Eleazor was close to succumbing to unconsciousness. He was shaken back to alertness by a hand that was paler and even more shriveled than his own.
. . . The red eyes glowed menacingly from inside the hood, and the hand reached out and snatched Eleazor off the ground. He screamed as both he and the phantom floated across the river, merely inches from the water's surface. A beaver angrily slapped its paddle-like tail on the surface of the partly-frozen liquid when they touched down next to its den near the mouth of an arroyo on the opposite bank.
The phantom hand also slapped the water. It pointed to Eleazor, and then to the river. When Smitherman hesitated, it balled into a fist. "I'll look! I'll look," Eleazor cried. "Have mercy and don't strike me." The hand relaxed, and Smitherman peered into the water.
. . . Mysteriously, two sets of numbers then appeared. They were glowing a sort of golden hue, and floating in the drink. They worked their way over to the bank.
The hand grabbed the first one, 360,000, and placed it on Eleazor's left shoulder. He placed the second one, 260,000, on the right. The numbers represented the total casualties for both the Union and Confederate armies if the war was to be fought. The weight of the burden caused Smitten Man to sink down to his knees in the suddenly-thawed mire of the riverbank.
A third set of numbers appeared, glowing red like the phantom's eyes. Along with the number were images of women, children and old men. There would be 50,000 Southern civilians who would perish if the war was fought. Was this the excess population Smitherman intended to be wiped away?
The phantom placed that number squarely on top of Eleazor's head. The suddenly not-so-staunch secessionist sank down to his chin. "Help! I don't want this," he cried as he continued to sink. "Spirit take them away. Give me a chance to fix this!"
. . . The phantom was more agitated than ever. Its hand grabbed Eleazor and slung him up into the air. The spirit then flew underneath Smitherman to prevent him from hitting the ground. They sailed in this fashion until they reached their final destination. It was a run-down section of the city cemetery on the edge of town.
Eleazor was trembling when the spirit sat him down, and he could barely stand. The hand pointed to a cracked concrete slab that was covered in leaves. "I...I can...can't make out the name," Smitherman stuttered.
The hand brushed the debris to the side and pointed again. "I don't want to read the name," Eleazor confessed.
The hand squeezed the back of Smitherman's neck and forced him down on his knees on top of the slab. It then pressed Eleazor's face down to within a few inches of the inscription. It read: ELEAZOR SMITHERMAN THE CAUSE OF ALL OUR GRIEF.
"No!" Smitherman screamed. "Spirit have mercy! I'll change, I'll change. If there's still a sliver of hope let me try to fix this . . . "
Were the Southern people correct to fight to protect their homes and property? Absolutely. Were the politicians right to secede from the Union? Maybe not so much.