Disclaimer: I don't own the Patriot or anything recognizable as someone else's property. This disclaimer applies to the entire story. Thank you.
Once Upon a Time
A young woman animately told a tale to the huddle of children gathered around her near the flickering fire. The children lapped up the story and all to soon for them, the woman's hands fell into her lap and she whispered, "And they lived happily ever after. The End." The children whined and begged for more but she replied, "Off to bed, Munchkins." She shook her head and caught up a piece of fabric as they trooped upstairs.
"You love telling those stories don't you?" Grinned a young man leaning against the door frame.
She laughed, looking up from the pool of fabric on her lap. "Yes, yes I do, Thomas Martin. You know that very well."
A voice came out of the corner from a chair and a newspaper, "They always listen," winced at a rather loud thump, "and don't quiet down after." The paper lowered, to reveal the owner with his eyebrow raised.
The woman's amber eyes twinkled in the firelight. "You enjoy it just as much as they do, Mr. Martin."
"Quiet up there!" came a shout from the hall, startling Thomas and the others' heads follow the sound. A dark skinned older woman with her hands wrapped in her apron appeared from behind Gabriel, glaring at the ceiling with great displeasure. "Mr. Martin, those children just won't calm down. They're gonna break something."
Mr. Martin rose, but Thomas wound around Abigale. "I'll take care of it, Father." And with that he tore up the stairs three at a time, his brown queue bouncing on his back.
The young woman shook her head at the slightly raised noise that resulted. "Do you need any help, Abigale?" she asked, turning her attention to the older woman.
Abigale smiled. "No, Miss Katherine, you work on that mending. Nothin' too hard for me to do myself."
Katherine smirked and tucked a loose lock of golden brown hair behind her ear as she pulled the cloth into position, pulling the needle through in neat, tiny stitches. A few semi quiet moments passed before a extremely loud thump made her stab her finger with a hiss. "That is enough," growled Mr. Martin, throwing down his paper and stomping up the stairs. Only a few minutes passed before he and Thomas came back with the upstairs completely silent. Benjamin sat back down with a thump and sullenly snatched up his paper. Huffing, Thomas sat down in front of her. Eyes down, her lips twitched with amusement.
By the time Benjamin finished the paper, Katherine mended several pair of breeches and a petticoat. Thomas played with his soldiers, occasionally pointing out something of interest to her until Benjamin set down the paper with a rustle and announced, "Tomorrow is a full day. Time to rest."
Katherine quickly folded her mending and banked the fire while Thomas snuffed out all but two of the six candles that had lit the room. "Goodnight," he whispered, pecking her on the cheek. She finished and caught up one of the candles, handing the other to the only man left, repeating Thomas's farewell.
One candle made its way out to the hired men's cabins and two floated upstairs, but soon all was dark and silent on this farm on the Santee River.
Cockledoodledoo! Katherine stirred, stretching then sitting in her bed, smiling at the glowing sky. With another quick stretch, she was up, careful not to disturb the two other sleepers. She giggled at their innocent faces as she swiftly changed her shift before cracking the window. She could hear Abigale starting the fires downstairs as she pulled on her stockings, shoes, and stays. Glancing out the window while putting up her hair under her cap, Katherine saw Thomas stomp out to feed the horses and the other little things that needed to be done. Only a few seconds more were needed for her to finish with pocket, petticoats, jacket, and apron before flying down the stair to help prepare breakfast. Thomas returned with the eggs and cream that they would churn today. She could hear Benjamin discussing with Abner on the front porch the work that needed to be done today. The rest of the children were soon downstairs. Nathan and Samuel ran out to 'assist' their brother while Margaret set the table and Susan played with her mother's old doll that Aunt Charlotte gave her before that fateful day at Charles Town. While Katherine set the Sitting Room to rights, she glanced at Gabriel's latest letter about him coming south with Gates. War was coming to the Santee and both Benjamin and Katherine knew it. She prayed that not all of his prediction would come true.
Boom, boom. Katherine's head snapped up, ears alert. Boom, boom. There it was again. That wasn't thunder. "Benjamin!" she shouted, the letter falling from her hand as she darted from the room. "Benjamin!" She ran out into the yard and saw Benjamin working with one of the horses. "Benjamin!" He heard her cry and looked up.
"Woah, Girl," he ordered the mare. Katherine stopped in front of him. "What's wrong?"
"Listen," Katherine whispered. He cocked his head, listening.
"For wh…" Boom, boom.
Katherine stressed, "That isn't thunder." She worriedly glanced at him.
Benjamin looked at her. How did she know? "No, that isn't. Gather the children. Come on, Girl." and with that he ran, leading the mare back to the stable.
Katherine sprinted to the fields where the the boys were playing. "Thomas, Samuel, Nathan, your father wants you up at the house right now."
"But…" Nathan whined.
"Now!" she ordered, her tone harsh. The boys glanced at each other and ran, Katherine following closely.
Benjamin was already on the porch. William, Susan, and Margaret already stood there. Thomas started, "Father, wh…"
Then they heard it. Boom, Boom, Boom. "It's louder now," Katherine frowned.
Little William stared confused at the almost cloudless sky. "Is it going to rain?"
Thomas now frowned. "That's not thunder." BOOM, Boom, boom. It was getting closer.
Nathan asked quietly, "Father?"
Benjamin listened again. "Six-pounders. Lots of them."
Katherine sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.
Thomas looked worried. "How far away?"
His father tilted his head slightly from side to side. "Four, five miles.
As Thomas disappeared inside, Samuel ventured, "Waxhaus?"
Benjamin nodded. "Just east of it."
Margaret looked at her father with big eyes. "We should go stay at Aunt Charlotte's. She's west."
Katherine pushed her lips while Benjamin replied, "No, there'll be skirmishers on the roads. We're safer here."
Thomas emerges from the house, muskets in hand. He thrusts one of the three into Nathan's hands and offers the other to his father. Benjamin makes no move to take it and orders, "Put those away."
"But Father, they might come this way," Thomas almost whined.
Benjamin turned on him, thunderous. "Put those things away!" He stormed off toward the workshop, Susan trailing behind him.
Katherine sighed, dragging her hand down her face. "Stay close the house. If you hear muskets, you get back here immediately, you understand?" The older boys nodded before running off. Katherine turned to William as Abigale brought out the churn. She ruffled his hair. "Why don't you go get your letters and practice while Margaret and I make some butter, hmm?" William smiled and ran into the house. Hopefully, the good Lord would keep the battle far away from them.
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