Disclaimer: Never owned it, don't even want it.Chapter 17: Epilogue—eleven years later
New Orleans was taken. The entire Southern campaign had been a great success. The War of '93, as it was eventually to be known, saw the power of the French in the New World broken forever. The French Revolutionary army had only meant to distract the British from the invasion of Holland; but after the raids on Williamsburg and the French bombardment of Savannah, the British had hit back hard. The French navy was trapped and destroyed in Baltimore harbour, the Commonwealth had been administered a sound drubbing, both it and the Republic had had territory whittled away, and the British flag flew over all of French North America.
Major-General Sir William Tavington was reaping the rewards of his labours. After the attack on Savannah, he could not refuse the call to arms; and found himself almost immediately put in command of a brigade of cavalry, consisting of the British Legion (now reformed as a dragoons-only regiment), the 1st South Carolina hussars, and the Royal Georgian Dragoons. He had not traveled alone on his return to the army. George and Frank Montgomery had gone with him, for George was now a captain in the British Legion, and sixteen-year old Frank a lively young cornet. It would have been quite like old times had Lord Cornwallis led them; but Cornwallis had another command now. Lord Rawdon, now Earl of Moira, had come out from England with reinforcements, including the 33rd, which had served in America before. Tavington had always liked Rawdon. No—Lord Moira, he remembered, I must get used to his new title. The Irishman was an intelligent, brave, and pleasant commander, and from the first they worked well together.
The attack on New Orleans had come from three sides: The Royal Navy had done its part, shelling the city's defenses without mercy; from the east, as the British army swept across the Alabama and Mississippi territories; and from the north, as the Royal Kentucky Volunteers and the rest of General Lord Cornwallis' troops came down the Mississippi. Tavington had been with the eastern wing of the army, under Lord Moira, and had enjoyed his renewed military career. Being a general was something, after all. The Battle of New Orleans, in which tired but committed British and Colonial troops trounced the French was the crown of it all. The French forces in fact were not sure whom to fight for: their commander was a royalist who had been shocked and horrified at the news of King Louis' execution. Only Brennier's personal pride and military reputation caused him to resist.
They would have to spend some time in Louisiana, pacifying the population, and encouraging some new English settlement. Many of the locals were Acadians, whose families had been banished from Canada in 1755. They were sullen and resentful, but also uneasy about the new revolutionary government in Paris. After resting his troops, Cornwallis would be heading north, more slowly this time, and leaving garrisons along the river. Lord Moira was settling in for a long stay as military governor.
With the victory, and the withdrawal of the French from the Americas, Tavington had indulged Elizabeth's pleadings, and had allowed her to sail to New Orleans for a visit. She was luckily not carrying, for once, and she had so very few opportunities to travel. She came with Julia, and with their two eldest, young Will and Emma, and their ward, Lottie Wilkins. To her older daughters' despair, Charlotte Montgomery absolutely refused to allow them to do anythingso dangerous as sail in a ship. Jane and Mary consoled themselves with a visit to Sir Stephen and Lady DeLancey, and with flirting with the officers of the Charlestown garrison. The rest of the children remained at Arcadia with Charlotte and with their admirable governess, Miss Strickland.
Elizabeth was comfortably settled in, in a pretty Creole-style house large enough for their entourage. They weregiving a dinner tonight for a number of senior officers and some old friends. Moira would be there, and Cornwallis, and in addition, a young colonel who seemed quite struck with Julia.
Tavington sighed with frustration. Julia was twenty-three and unmarried, and had seemed little inclined for the state. She seemed to relish her life as an unattached belle: dancing, hunting, riding: enjoying all the pleasures of city and country. She was an affectionate aunt and a great favourite with Arcadia's children. Since the inheritance from the uncle in Jamaica, Edward Everleigh, in 1790, she had been pursued even more ardently than ever. A beauty, with forty thousand pounds! Elizabeth and he had wondered if Julia and George might not make a match after all, but they seemed to regard each other as brother and sister. Now, however, she had a serious beau. Tavington had carefully explained to Julia that the younger son of an impoverished Irish peer was not exactly a catch, but Julia seemed to like him. He was a good soldier, certainly: Moira had gone on at length about Lt. Colonel Wellesley's meticulous care in arranging supplies and caring for his troops. And he was a brilliant horseman, good enough that Tavington felt he was wasted leading a regiment of foot.
Julia's encouragement of the young Irishman caused Tavington to make further inquiries. Wellesley's brother, Lord Mornington, was a rising star in Parliament, and might be able to use his influence to advance his brother's fortunes. Otherwise, the Honourable Arthur Wellesley's income was not much more than his colonel's pay, and the fellow's own mother had described him as "fit only to be food for powder." His suit of a young lady at home, one of the Pakenhams, had been refused by the family due to his lack of income and prospects. Still, his conduct throughout the campaign had been irreproachable---and Julia seemed to like him.
Julia did like him. She told Tavington and Elizabeth so in terms that left no room for misunderstanding. They were sitting over the remains of breakfast, and the children had gone off to play. "He's clever—not in a scholarly way, but in a practical way. He's serious, too. You know his father was a famous amateur musician and squandered much of the family fortune with his concerts and his patronage. He encouraged Colonel Wellesley to learn music too, and at one time the Colonel played the violin quite well. But he says he's done with all that now. When he got his orders for America, he burned all his instruments."
"Oh, dear!" Elizabeth looked horrified. At the party when they first met, she had noticed that Colonel Wellesley had been much impressed by Julia's performance, singing and playing the pianoforte. Over the years, her talents had blossomed, and she had become an excellent musician. He had shown considerable knowledge and taste in praising her. But to burn an instrument!
Julia shrugged. "He's determined to be the best soldier he can be, and to not be distracted from that. During the voyage, he learned all he could about America. He's full of ambition, but he has a great deal of feeling, too. And the looks don't hurt."
Elizabeth exchanged a significant glance with Tavington. "Yes, dearest, he has a fine figure and a bright eye, but his nose—don't you find it a little—well---large?"
"His nose is splendid!" Julia's voice rose. "He looks like an eagle in profile! He's different. I don't know how to explain it. I feel very odd around him: I want to be with him all the time. It's very peculiar."
Tavington muffled his laugh into his glass. So Julia had at last fallen in love. It had taken her long enough. At least they had tastes in common, and Wellesley, like himself at that age, maintained a gentlemanly reputation. No rumours of drinking bouts, no gambling debts, no mistresses talked of—all in all, he had a good name. At least, if he was a fortune hunter, he was one of discrimination and good connections.
However, there was one great objection to him. He was in America only for the campaign. Plans were already in motion to ship out the 33rd and return them to England. Wellesley had no desire to remain in the Colonies. He was determined to pursue his career back at home. If a match were made, Julia would go to England with him, and who knew when they might meet again?
Tavington owed Pattie Ferguson a letter, and retired to the study to think in private. The room had a pretty ironwork balcony that overlooked the street. It was very like the place where he and DeLancey had lodged in Kingston, when they were sorting out the huge Jamaican inheritance from Edward Everleigh. DeLancey's knowledge of the law and of the West Indies had been useful, but he would certainly not have survived the adventure without Tavington's talent for violence. Luckily, he and DeLancey had been in accord about making provisions for Everleigh's children by his slaves. He could not have countenanced selling his wife's own kin. In fact, DeLancey had been no bad companion throughout the entire business. Tavington was glad enough at the inheritance: it was an agreeable thing to be extremely wealthy, and to know that his wife's sisters were splendidly provided for. They had returned to their wives' affectionate welcomes, and had agreed between themselves never to reveal some of the more frightful and sordid aspects of their journey. There were certain things in the world that sweet and refined women like Elizabeth and Amelia ought never to know of.
October 13, 1793
My dear Ferguson,
My regards to you, your fair lady, and to your Jamie, Annie, and little Pattie. Lest the latter wonder, Lady Tavington will be returning home next month with some presents for the young Fergusons. I enclose the children's letters with my own. Will was most particular that I respect the privacy of his correspondence with Jamie. I am instructed to beg your indulgence as well. He has assured me that it involves nothing as dangerous as last year's plan to explore the Sea Islands in a rowboat. He does permit me, however, to share with you the enclosed drawing of a pelican. It's quite good, I think, with hardly any paternal partiality. He evinces more and more of his grandfather's talent.
New Orleans is ours. The garrison was irresolute and ill-equipped, and after the bombardment, there was little resistance in the town. It is a splendid, but odd place: more like the West Indies than Charlestown or Savannah. Well for me that I polished my French before arriving here. It is French and Creole and African, a heady mixture. I take care that Elizabeth and Julia to do not go out unattended, for it will be some time before the local population is entirely resigned to the King's rule. The French territory is vast, possibly extending all the way to the Pacific; and will require official and methodical exploration. There is some talk of mounting a major expedition in a few years. Much depends on the progress of the war against the French.
No doubt you receive news of the horrors in that unhappy country before we do. The most recent intelligence was appalling enough: not content with overthrowing the legitimate government and murdering their lawful King, the rabble have descended to arresting and imprisoning women. It seems incredible in this modern age that a Queen, or indeed any lady, could so cruelly victimised. One hopes that the rebel states now will contemplate the fruits of unbridled liberty.
To speak of more agreeable things, you will be pleased to know that the Royal South Carolina Rifles acquitted themselves with distinction. Lord Moira has mentioned in dispatches the power of their repeaters and the carnage they wrought. The Ferguson rifle will undoubtedly be the standard weapon in British rifle regiments within five years. I congratulate you, the inventor, and myself, the investor. Ferguson Arms has an assured future.
Lord Cornwallis' troops reached the territory well in time, and have been pacifying the French settlements along the Mississippi. He is the man for it, having his usual regard for the lives and properties of civilians. He has aged somewhat (as who amongst us has not?) in the intervening years, but is still a soldierly man. His great love for the Kentucky Colony informs all his conversation: a lesser man would be a bore. It has been very agreeable seeing some old comrades from the Legion and from the old American Volunteers. As for the younger comrades, George and Frank have proved sound young officers in every way. I know you did not care for their father, but the sons are better men. As I write this, George is leading a patrol out west of the city. The girls, especially Lottie, are quite worshipful of their cousins. It is both touching and amusing.
Will, on the other hand, is a little jealous; but I do not want him to feel that his only option is the army. Moreover, I see no reason for him to wear a uniform before he has finished his education. I should have liked to have gone to university myself.
Yes, Monroe is here, looking very fit. He and his horse farm have prospered. Mrs. Monroe is, by his report, as lovely as ever, and very much a leader of the colony's society (such as it is). He did not indicate, however, that there was any thought of a journey. It is an arduous matter, traveling from Kentucky. Even if she were to go upriver to Pennsylvania, she would still have to go overland to Philadelphia and have a sea voyage. And were she to come downriver to New Orleans, she would still have to sail to Charlestown. The journey by land, even with the road improvements, still requires over a month of constant travel, and would be extremely taxing for a mother with children. I wish it could be attempted, I confess, so I could see for myself if Sally Monroe is as beautiful as her parents claim.
We are very much concerned that Julia will promise herself to Colonel Wellesley. Elizabeth dreads such a separation, as the fellow seems bound to carry her off with him. If he were more interested in a permanent appointment here, it would be a different matter. They are a handsome couple (despite his great beak of a nose). If it comes to it, we must give them our blessing. We shall miss Julia, but ought not to deny her choice. One never knows: Wellesley may well find himself back in America. Even after hamstringing the Commonwealth and the Republic as we have, the rebel states will remain a thorn in our side.
Take care of yourself, my dear friend. God grant that your former ills remain long at bay. I remain, sir, your obedient servant,
He returned early from headquarters, to dress for dinner, and visit with some guests who had been asked to come sooner than the rest. It would be pleasant to meet again with Colonel Monroe and his friend Captain Thomas Martin, for they were very nearly family.
No. Captain Martin, indeed, was family. Elizabeth especially wished to introduce him to his young cousin, Charlotte Wilkins, whom they all called Lottie. They had never met, of course. Her mother, Thomas Martin's own dear Aunt Charlotte, had died in childbirth, leaving the little girl who bore her name. By a stroke of perverse ill luck, the child's doting father, who had survived every danger of the war, was dead two months later in a riding accident. A pleasant day, a high-fed thoroughbred, an uneven bit of ground beyond a hedge, and James Wilkins lay stretched out on the red earth, his neck broken. By his will, the orphan was given to the Tavingtons to raise, but not without some contention from Captain and Mrs. Benjamin Martin.
Elizabeth was still a little cross about the dispute, feeling somewhat ill-used at the abrupt decampment of their governess, Miss Temple, for the joys of marriage with Benjamin Martin. They had attended the wedding, and did and said all that was proper, but in private, Elizabeth was not pleased at the sudden reversion to herself of the care and education of eight children—with more coming all the time. After a few months, they had chanced upon their redoubtable Miss Strickland, a woman of good education and breeding, but beyond the age of marital threat. Elizabeth treated her as the precious resource she was, and the good lady had now been with them nearly ten years.As to little Lottie Wilkins, heiress of both the Wilkins and Selton properties, Elizabeth felt her responsibility strongly, and more strongly still denied Captain Martin's claim to the child . "No blood kin at all—only related to her by marriage! And the child my own second cousin, once removed! And Harriet Temple—Mrs. Martin--thinking she can mother her, when she's nothing to her at all! The impertinence!"
Tavington had calmed his wife, smoothed over the disagreement with Martin, and very soon the issue was moot: for Mrs. Martin presently had her own little Harriet to care for, and was too busy and happy to concern herself with the child of her husband's first wife's sister. The little girl was settled snugly into the nursery at Arcadia, growing up as a sister to Emma Tavington—almost a twin. Tavington had often reflected that 1783 had been a vintage year for daughters: for there were not only his own darling Emma, dear little Lottie, and Martin's Harriet; but Ferguson's own flame-haired Annie, and Amelia's eldest, the absurdly named Athena Carolina.
In the privacy of their bedchamber, Tavington and Elizabeth found never-ending diversion in the names Amelia conjured for her daughters. They would invent their own, dissolving into laughter over the prospects of names like Calliope Dryope Merope, Cleopatra Aegyptica, and their favourite, Regina Gloriosa Omnium. When the following girls actually were named Penelope Eudoxia, Artemisia Irene, and Thalia Callisto, the Tavingtons' secret hilarity was unbounded. Tavington had displayed not a flicker of amusement when standing godfather for the long-awaited DeLancey son, sturdily named Stephen after his father. Only Amelia appeared dissatisfied with the boy's Christian name, half-heartedly defending it for its Greek derivation. Another child was due two months ago, and they expected a letter any day about the birth.
Full of these thoughts, Tavington finished shaving, and was changing his shirt, when there was a knock on his dressing room door.
"If you're my wife, you can come in," he grunted, happy with the feel of clean linen.
Elizabeth stepped into the room and closed the door behind her, smiling like a sphinx. She was waving a letter tantalisingly, and had evidently already read it.
"What news?" he asked, searching through his cravats. She lounged on the daybed with a face full of mischief, watching him.
"If you can guess correctly, you shall have a kiss."
Swiftly, he was across the room, and pulled her up in his arms, growling, "So that's your game—keeping vital intelligence from the General. How shall I deal with such a wicked adventuress?" He nuzzled the side of her neck, and she began laughing, tumbling back on the daybed with him mostly on top of her.
"You shall deal with me by playing my game and earning kisses, Sir William." She ran the edge of the letter over his jaw and chin, teasing him.
"Hmm." Tavington said slowly. "It is from Amelia."
"Absolutely correct." She put an arm around his neck and kissed him softly.
"This is a nice game. What do I get if I win?"
"Make another guess and perhaps you'll find out."
"All right. You are smiling, so she is well and the child is well."
"You are my clever boy."
"Where is my kiss?"
"Here." The kiss lasted longer and Tavington reluctantly returned to the game.
"It is a girl."
A kiss followed immediately.
"Did they actually name her Regina?"
She pushed him off her, with a superior air. "No, General, you lose. You will never, never guess the ghastly name Amelia has foisted upon the poor child."
"All right, then, enlighten me."
"Hypatia," she pronounced lovingly, and Tavington groaned in horror. She added, "Hypatia Alexandria Metis."
"That's dreadful. Are you sure there isn't a way for me to win this game?"
"No, I win this time, and I shall expect to collect my reward tonight; so don't let the Lords General sit over their wine after dinner too long. I must go tell Julia the news." With an arch smile, she slipped out of the room, and left Tavington to finish dressing.
He looked at his reflection in the shaving mirror. "Hypatia," he essayed, and then shuddered.
Thomas Martin had taken a liking to New Orleans. It was the most exotic place he had ever visited. People in the streets spoke a foreign language, and the food was strange, but very good. The whole journey down the Ohio, and then down the Mississippi had been the most enjoyable adventure of his life. He had collected mementos and souvenirs along the way, and now in New Orleans, he would supplement them with some very fine gifts to take home to Dinah and the children.
He exchanged a smile with Duncan Monroe, his colonel and friend. Monroe missed his wife and daughters, of course, and was concerned about his horses back in Hanover County, but he too had been swept up in the great campaign. They visited the shops that afternoon, wondering at the new French fashions, and making bargains with suspicious, French-speaking shopkeepers. Monroe knew a little French, and did most of the talking, but it was wise to go together. The conquered population still eyed the British occupiers with fear and distrust, and seemed surprised at being paid for their goods. They don't know how strict Lord Cornwallis and Lord Moira are about treating civilians fairly. But they will. I reckon they'll think themselves lucky after a few years. There won't be any guillotines in Louisiana!
His neck was still sore, and wrapped carefully under his cravat. He had been gashed by a glancing bullet during the last battle. It had made a messy and alarming wound, but one that proved superficial. Still, he had lain awake a few nights, wondering what would have become of his family had the bullet struck even a quarter inch to the right. Five children, and another on the way when he left, and Dinah to care for the farm and the children and all. But here he was, alive and well, with only a scratched neck to show for all his dangers, and looking forward to an elegant dinner with his old commander, General Sir William Tavington.
"That's a pretty thing," he said, pointing out a painted porcelain figurine of a shepherd and shepherdess to Monroe. It would look nice on the mantel at home, and Dinah would treasure it.
Monroe nodded, and cautioned. "You'd have to wrap it and crate it if you want to get it back to Kentucky in one piece. I'd like to get Polly a whole set of Limoges dishes, but I'll wait until just before we leave. The longer I have it, the likelier it is to be broken." He paused, admiring some tableware decorated with flowers and gilt edging. "The jewelry isn't a such a problem. That's always nice and portable. I just have to get something that each of the girls will like, and avoid making one or the other of them jealous."
"Boys are easier," Thomas agreed. You could always give a boy a musket, or a rifle, or a pistol, or a sword, or a knife, and he'd be happy as long as he didn't kill himself; but girls expected different things. He always kept a weather eye of the quartermaster's goods, and had found a beautiful present for Dinah already: a set of silver sewing things, with thimble, and scissors, and all the other gew-gaws women used. His only daughter, Betsy, was seven years old, and already a woman in the making: she would be delighted with the necklace and the china-headed French doll he had found for her. The doll was beautifully dressed like a real French lady, and would show his womenfolk better than he could describe what ladies in France were wearing. Monroe had admired it, and was thinking about something of the sort for his own girls; but he would have to get four of them, even though his youngest would be too little to be allowed to play with it.
Thomas had always liked and admired Mrs. Monroe. Whatever she had been in the past, she was a charming lady, a kind friend to Dinah, and a generous and lavish hostess. She gave frequent dinners and the occasional ball. She had done a great deal in her way to make the new settlement a pleasant, civilised place. The Monroes had a fine house in Kingston, as well as their big place, Fair Meadows, out in the country. Kingston was growing all the time, but in a carefully planned way. Lord Cornwallis was justly proud of their little city in the wilderness. A boarding school had been founded, and Thomas thought he should send Ben and Bill in a year or two. Plans were even rumoured for a real college, but Thomas failed to see the sense in that for his boys. A few years at St. George's School would give the boys all the education they would need.
It was almost four. They quickened their pace and found the street, and saw the house, with the sentries outside. They were passed in, and the servant announced their arrival.
"Colonel Monroe! Captain Martin! How good of you to come!" Tavington had not changed much-- still lean and handsome, though greying at the temples. His general's splendour sat well on him. Thomas felt a pleasant rush of memory at the sight of him. Beside the general were his wife, Lady Tavington, and his sister-in-law, Miss Wilde. Lady Tavington was also not too much changed, an attractive, elegant woman, though grown a little matronly. It was the young lady, Miss Wilde, who made him keenly aware of the passage of time. He remembered her as a pert little girl, given to saying what she liked. She was now a beautiful young woman, fashionably and becomingly dressed, with a self-assured air. She seconded her sister's well-bred greeting, but appeared to be waiting to see someone else. Thomas wondered briefly what had become of her sister Amelia, the one he had liked. Father had written years ago, telling of her magnificent wedding to a wealthy judge. He never regretted the past, but he still thought of her from time to time. This confident young lady was not much like her demure sister. Thomas felt a little intimidated.
Lady Tavington had called the children down to be introduced. Smiling at Thomas, she brought forward a pretty little girl of aboutten or so.
"Captain Martin, allow me to present your cousin Charlotte Wilkins. Lottie, dear, this is Captain Thomas Martin, your mamma's nephew."
Thomas looked the little girl over searchingly. "Hello, Lottie," he said. The child curtseyed, and murmured a greeting.He was not sure what he had expected—perhaps someone like Aunt Charlotte in miniature. This child was a stranger. She had dark and curling brown hair, for one thing, instead of Aunt Charlotte's magnificent golden locks. As he looked closer, he saw that she would be tall someday, like his aunt, though like her father, the good Captain Wilkins. Maybe too tall. She was quite pretty, and she gave him a shy smile that recalled his aunt to him a little. In the lines of her face he thought he saw a little more of her father. Not much Putnam: more Everleigh and Wilkins, he decided.
Duncan Monroe seemed to think the same. He gave the girl a friendly nod, and remarked to Thomas, "I think she favours her father."
"Did you know my father, sir?" asked the child in a small, sweet voice.
"Indeed I did, " answered Monroe with a warm smile. He was accustomed to little girls, and a dab hand at charming them. "He was a fine gentleman and a brave man."
"That's what Sir William says, sir. I thank you."
Tavington called Monroe away, to meet Will and Emma and discuss Monroe's girls in Kentucky.
Lottie was studying her strange cousin in her turn. She blushed and told him, "I am happy to meet you, Cousin Thomas."
"And I'm pleased to meet you, Lottie. I've been away from my family a long time, and it's good to see some of it. I wish my children were here to meet you too." He asked Lady Tavington. "Have you seen my father lately?"
"Indeed we have," she answered. "We saw him in Charlestown only last June. He was with Mrs. Martin and the girls to buy Miss Martin's wedding clothes."
"I can't believe Susan is married!" Thomas laughed, and added, "and that I have a sister I've never met." He asked Lottie, "Do you know my sister Harriet?"
"Oh, yes!" Lottie assured him eagerly. "I've visited with UncleMartin often, and Harriet and I are good friends. Lady deLancey gave a party for her daughters, and Emma and I went, and Harriet was there too."
Lady Tavington added more calmly. "Harriet is a nice girl, and becoming very accomplished. Mrs. Martin is a well-educated woman herself. But," she smiled, "Harriet looks a great deal like your father. She has the same blue eyes."Thomas confessed, "I do miss my family. Margaret and her husband, the lawyer, are thinking about coming out to Kentucky. My brother Sam too. I keep telling them there's plenty of room for all them. I don't suppose I'll ever get Father away from Fresh Water."
"I daresay not," agreed Lady Tavington. "Some of us think there's no place in the world like South Carolina!"
Sheathed in creamy brocade, the dining room walls reflected the golden light of many candles. The guests seemed pleased with the dinner, and mellow with it. The two earls displayed their most polished behaviour, in deference to the welcome company of ladies. Other officers had come out of the desire for a pleasant meal at Sir William's expense. Others, old comrades and connections like Monroe and Martin, made the room seem like home. Colonel Wellesley glowed with charm, happy to be sitting beside Julia. Tavington, during a lull in his conversation with Moira, overheard them talking together.
"You've lived in France!"
"Yes, I went to school there."
"Really? I thought all Englishman went to Oxford or Cambridge."
He laughed, a little sourly.
"Not the penniless sons of the Irish peerage. Even my elder brother Richard, a fine scholar, could not stay at Oxford to finish his degree, but had to find employment. As for me, I was too poor a student of Latin and Greek for my mother to waste money on university for me. The most she would do for me after Eton is send me to the Royal Academy of Equitation in Angers for a year. I should have liked to have gone to university, but Angers was a fine place: Monsieur and Madame de Pignerolle were the kindest and best of people, and what they taught me of French, manners, riding, and swordsmanship will be of use to me all my life."
Julia forgot herself so far as to lay her hand on his, and say, low and fierce, "Then I'm glad you went there." Blushing, she removed her hand and glanced around, to see if anyone had noticed her. Tavington kindly looked away.
After a moment, Wellesley went on, "I worry about them. I worry about all my friends in France. It seems that everything decent is under attack. I did not choose to be a soldier, but it seems that Fate chose well for me. There's nothing more important than fighting for order and civilisation, and for everything that makes life worth living."
"How true!" Julia agreed feelingly. "I shall never forget the horror of the time our home was—"
Moira remarked on the difficulties they were having quieting the Acadians further west, and Tavington had to attend to him; but he saw Julia and Wellesley glance at him briefly, and he supposed she was telling her admirer the story of how Tavington had rescued them from the rebels. He looked down the table at Elizabeth, as she genteelly flattered Lord Cornwallis. She sensed his gaze, and smiled at him. He smiled back, treasuring the memory of that first meeting.
Monroe whispered to Thomas. "Young Miss Wilde has certainly grown up a beauty."
Thomas shrugged, and answered low, "I suppose. She's one too many for me, though."
Lady Tavington caught her sister's eye, and the ladies withdrew. The soldiers, old and young, remained to sit over their wine and exchange unlikely stories and discreet boasts. Tavington, mindful of Elizabeth's promise, was determined not to keep the ladies waiting long. Half an hour for a glass or two, and then they would join the ladies in the drawing room for tea.
Lord Cornwallis remarked to Tavington, "I had not told you before, Sir William, how much I admired the new volume of your father-in-law's paintings that I received a few years ago. It must have been an effort to assemble the works and see the book through to publication."
There were some murmurs of assent from a few of the guests. Tavington suspected that the rest would have been more interested in a book about shooting birds than one describing them. "Thank you, my lord," he replied. "It was worth the trouble for me. And I had the opportunity to visit England again. It was a effort, certainly, but one that I enjoyed."
In fact, the book had been a pleasure from beginning to end. It had seemed a wicked waste to let the paintings John Wilde had completed just before the war continue unknown. Tavington had a certain filial piety toward his deceased father-in-law. Had he never heard of John Wilde, he would never have taken the time on a hot day in 1780 to visit Arcadia. He might never have had a home, or Elizabeth to love. In a way, he owed John Wilde his present happiness, and regarded the publication of the second volume of Flora and Fauna of the Carolina Colonies as an offering to the household gods, as it were.
The book had also put him in the public eye in London. He wondered if the knighthood would have come so soon, or at all, if he had not been in London for the mighty to notice. He had been invited to Court; and while he regretted that Elizabeth was not here to share the experience, it was a welcome honour. He had always wished for public recognition, and the title was something he could give Elizabeth, who had contributed the bulk of their material wealth to their marriage. Besides, he had grown tired of Amelia, Lady DeLancey, taking precedence of her sister. Now he balanced their fortunes, and returned the elder sister to the rights of seniority.Some of his fellow officers managed considerably more than one or two glasses of wine in the half-hour Tavington had allotted. Several were dozy and red-faced by the time they rejoined the ladies. A few of these said their farewells, and took themselves off to their beds; or at least, someone's bed. The rest gathered to chat and drink tea, and some were in the mood for music. Colonel Wellesley urged Julia courteously to entertain them. She bit her lip thoughtfully, and then flashed him a smile. She sat at the pianoforte, arranging the creamy satin of her gown around her. Wellesley saw to her music and her candles, hovering over her to such a degree that Tavington was ready to intervene. Elizabeth touched his hand, with a little shake of her head. He subsided into his chair, and only scowled a little as Wellesley sat by Julia and carefully turned her pages.
Tonight there were no fashionable tunes, no Italian arias, no foreign conceits. In her lovely soprano, she gave them a sweet old English song:
"Over the mountains and over the waves;
Under the fountains and under the graves;
Under floods that are deepest, which Neptune obey;
Over rocks that are steepest,
Love will find out the way.
"Some think to lose him by having him confin'd;
Some do suppose him, poor thing, to be blind;
But if ne'er so close you wall him, do the best that you may,
Blind Love, if so ye call him,
Soon will find out the way.
"You may train the eagle to stoop to your fist;
You may inveigle the Phoenix of the East;
The lioness, you may move her to give o'er her prey;
But you'll ne'er stop a lover:
He will find out the way."
The bells of St. Louis Cathedral began tolling the hour. It was midnight, and the revels now were ended. The two earls had prudently retired, each to his own splendid lodgings. Wellesley had bid Julia areluctant goodnight; and the hosts and various other guests had dispersed.
It was a cool and misty night. Lieutenant Colonel the Honourable Arthur Wellesley paused, breathing in the night-blooming jasmine as he walked to his billet, and thinking tenderly of Julia. His mind was made up, and this time he would not be denied.
The bell tolled on. Upstairs, the candles in Julia's bedchamber were still alight. She sat in a little gilt chair, in a quiet reverie over a map spread out on her dressing table. The world was hers, and anything was possible.
In the sanctity of their bedchamber, Elizabeth claimed her forfeit from Tavington in her preferred positions. She smiled at the sound of the bells, and whispered in her husband's ear:
"For we have heard the chimes at midnight----"
Tavington did not register the whisper or the bells, too enraptured for any lesser concerns.
Duncan Monroe heard the bells as he climbed the staircase to his rooms. He thought of his beloved wife and daughter, of his beautiful horses, and of his long absence. He would return home, never to leavethem again.
Other clocks struck the hour, near and far.
In her pleasant farmhouse in Kentucky, Dinah Martin lay asleep, stirring slightly as the treasured clock in her sitting room tolled twelve.
In Kingston, Polly Monroe lay awake, wondering if the baby might be coming down with the measles. . She wondered where Duncan was, and when he would come home, and if he would come home. Downstairs, the hall clock chimed musically, and the house made little creaking sounds in the dark. Polly resolutely shut her eyes again, refusing to be be frightened by a noise or two.
In Charlestown, Patrick Ferguson awakened to the familiar ache in his arm. Sally awoke beside him, and nestled closer, expertly stroking the pain away.
In another street in Charlestown, Amelia DeLancey was very much enjoying the first ball she had attended since her confinement. It was a small affair—just some close friends-- but she was aware that she looked very much her old self. And what a delightful time the Montgomery girls were having! She must get them good husbands, since Elizabeth was too busy traipsing off to Louisiana to do it. The clock showed the hour, but could not be heard for the sound of flutes and violins.
At the polished table at Fresh Water, Ben Martin heard the hour strike, as he sat over a letter he was writing to Gabriel. It was hard never to see children of his again. He had never seen Gabriel's daughter, Liberty, far away in Maryland. He had never seen any of Thomas' growing brood, far away in Kentucky. Sometimes the road beckoned, but he could not leave Harriet and their daughter. His wifeand Nathan were carefully civil to one another, but Ben could have no doubt what would happen at his death. Well, he must see to it that his second family was provided for, and that he did not die anytime soon. He wondered where Thomas was now, and if he were back in the army, fighting the French.
And in New Orleans, Thomas looked out the window, across to the cathedral. It was the biggest church he had ever seen. He would have so much to tell Dinah and the children. He had regretted leaving them, but it was for sights like this he had become a soldier. As the sound of the last stroke rang out over the square below, he imagined his life if he had never joined the Green Dragoons: a quiet sort of life at Fresh Water, raising crops and cattle, never knowing the limits of human experience. The army had been good to him. It had taken him far and wide, and shown him places he could not have imagined. It had given him love, land, and his share of honour. If it had taken its price in blood and sweat, that was only fitting.
The brave young captain raised his hand in salute—
"God Save the King!"
Notes: The story is complete. Thank you for reading!
I greatly admire the Duke of Wellington, and regret the unhappy marriage with Kitty Pakenham he was socially bullied into on his return from India. Her family had turned him down years before, but after he came back years later from the Indian campaign, with a knighthood and a fortune, they were eager to rope him in. In my timeline, he still goes to India and makes a great reputation there, but he did not go alone, and he and Julia were delightfully companionable. I wanted Julia to marry someone quite wonderful, and the dates fit. He was refused by Kitty Pakenham in early 1793, and he did burn his violins shortly thereafter. As to his time in Angers, Lady Longford, in her admirable Wellington: The Years of the Sword, has quite convinced me what an impact his experiences there had on the impressionable boy.
In October, Tavington would not have heard about the September Massacres in France, nor about the execution of Marie Antoinette three days after he wrote his letter to Patrick Ferguson. As an 18th century British gentleman, he would have found the idea of trying and executing a lady for political crimes absolutely inconceivable.
Julia's song is the first and last two verses of "Love will find out the way," anonymous from the time of Elizabeth I, but a favourite of young ladies for centuries after.
A final thank you to my Loyal reviewers:Zubeneschamali: Some questions can be answered after 13 years, and some can't! It's not part of my story, but yes, David McKay did find a biddable young woman with a little money, and decidedly ruled the roost. No, Polly and Sally never met again: their life-paths had diverged too far. They wrote, of course, but visiting was not feasible. Ferguson's health was always touchy, and he died in 1799. Sally and children went to live in Scotland at the request of his family, since her elder son was his uncle's heir. ( Young James Ferguson and young Will Tavington were reunited in the Peninsular campaign, and had some hair-raising adventures there.) Thomas' sister Margaret and brother Sam eventually did go out to Kentucky, seeking opportunity. Nathan ended up with Fresh Water, and young William became a tobacco merchant in Charlestown. George Montgomery had a distinguished military career, and eventually was Colonel of the British Legion. He married his much younger cousin Lottie Wilkins, and they made a happy home at Selton House. DeLancey died in1804, leaving Amelia a widow at the relatively young age of 39. She never remarried, and kept her husband's room exactly as he had left it, as a monument to their marriage. She was a queen of Charlestown society (and note—it stayed "Charlestown") until her death at the age of 81. Her son, the second Sir Stephen deLancey, was royal governor of South Carolina. Elizabeth still died in October 1803 of ovarian cancer, just as she did in our timeline. It was her medical destiny, if nothing else had killed her off first. Tavingtonwas created Viscount Camden in 1808, and had active commissions in the army as late as 1815. He was the same age as Field Marshal Bluecher at Waterloo. The wounds he sustained eventually killed him three years later. He no longer wanted to live at Arcadia after Elizabeth's death, and his family were for the most part in England or in the army in Europe due to the war with France. Also, he wanted to be with Julia and her family, though he spent more time with her husband than he did with Julia.After his father's death, the second Lord Camden returned to Arcadia with his Spanish bride, and they lived happily ever after. Julia had many adventures in India, Portugal, Spain, and France. As Duchess of Wellington she traveled all over Europe with her husband. But that is another story, and one I shall never write.
Pigeonsfromhell: Glad you liked Daniel Boone. It was fun to incorporate historical characters.
LCWA: Ah, the fight fan! Glad you enjoyed it. If you've ever seen Seven Samurai, you might recognise the inspiration (the raid on the bandits' "castle.")
Slytherin Dragoon: I thought you might got a chuckle from the song. It was the naughtiest and most appropriate I could find on the contemplator site. Thanks for your support.
Ladymarytavington: No, this is the absolute end. Thanks for sticking with me and reviewing.
Richard: Thank you for reviewing my story.
Carolina Girl: Thank you for your many kind reviews. I do like writing about Tavington, but I might take a break for awhile. Still, he's a great character, and he's very clear in my imagination. I'm glad you like the way I present him. He was actually a very good father, in the 18th century style, since he was always very conscious of his own father's faults. Eventually there were seven children in all, not counting the very dangerous miscarriage Elizabeth suffered in 1787. Oddly enough, his daughter Emma married the very same Lord Greystoke she married in the original timeline. That, too, was destiny.
Carnival glass: Thanks! I love my characters, too. Thanks for reviewing.