The story to this point: In the year 1220, lovers Elwyn FitzGarrick and Connell DeBruyne were cursed by a jealous Fae named Kariel to spend eternity apart. They would only meet on the battlefield where Connell would die in Ellie's arms. Over five hundred years later, Elwyn (She prefers to be called Ellie, by the way!) is living in the Poconos with D'Arcy de Poulignac, a vampire of French descent and an old woman named Honoria – who is not quite what she seems. Jeremy and Isak were escorting a supply train to Valley Forge when it was ambushed and Jeremy thought he saw a young couple in the fog-shrouded night. The next day Henry and Elizabeth found Ellie entangled in some bushes. And Ellie carries a warning from Connell that could save lives – if she can act upon the knowledge.
Chapter Summary: General Lafayette is proving to be an impatient patient. Henry and Elizabeth question Ellie and hear words that shock them. Lieutenant FitzGarrick receives orders to retrieve General Lafayette from Moravian Hospital. And Jeremy and Isak meet some friends on their return home.
TIME: October 1777
The harried, tired doctor closed the door to the private room were behind him, leaning against the wall and sighing.
"Is he still being stubborn?" a voice asked.
The doctor nodded. "The man is impossible! He is young enough to be my son and I should dearly love to take him over my knee and paddle his behind."
The man before him nodded. "I, too, know the feeling." His lips curled in a smirk. "Yet I wonder what General Washington would say if word to reach him that his beloved young general was being – er – paddled by the very doctors entrusted with his care?"
The doctor leaning against the wall only shook his head. "Right at this moment, I do not care what any one thinks. I have ordered him to bed with the threat of restraints if he even sets foot out of that bed! That leg wound is never going to heal if it is not given time to rest!" He straightened. "And I have other patients who need my care. He is not the only one wounded by this damn war."
"Go," the other man said, "and I will take sense to our demanding patient."
The doctor waved his hand toward the closed door. "Have at him and Godspeed," he said and walked off down the hallway muttering to himself.
The man stood for a moment, drawing a deep breath, composing himself before opening the door to the hospital room. "General," he said as he shook his head, closing the door behind him. "Were you not ordered to stay off that leg?"
Lafayette turned from window, a sheepish grin on his handsome face. "Oui," he replied.
"And are you not disobeying a direct order from your physician?"
"Oui," Lafayette said again. "But I am not known for obeying orders." He grinned. "It is deplorable but I am rather obstinate, Doctor."
"Well, then, you shall be an obstinate young man without a leg, if you do not follow the orders of your physicians." The doctor crossed his hands over his chest. "And then how will you be able to return to battle?"
Lafayette seemed to think for a moment and slowly nodded. He held to the wall as he limped back to bed, a frown creasing his handsome features as he settled back on the bed.
"Does that hurt?" the doctor wanted to know.
"Perhaps," Lafayette admitted.
"I shall get you something for the pain and then you must rest," the doctor told him. "It shall not be much longer before you can return to your troops," he paused for effect, "if you follow our directions."
"As you would," Lafayette said, raising his head to look at the doctor, the solemn look on his face belied by the twinkle in his eye.
"I thought so," the doctor muttered to himself. "Stay seated and I shall have someone bring you something for the pain."
"Merci," Lafayette replied; his leg did hurt when he cared to admit to it.
"And you must stay in this room," the doctor added, pulling an envelope from his pocket and handing it to Lafayette who took it eagerly. "This arrived today with news that the British may know that you are here." A smile crossed his face. "Senior staff do not wish anything else to befall you."
Lafayette paused in his reading to look at the doctor. "I think it is time I listened to my physicians."
"Miss?" Henry wondered as he held out the dipper of water. "I really think you should drink this."
The woman looked at Henry with empty brown eyes and shook her head.
Elizabeth laid a hand on Henry's shoulder and he turned to look up at her. "What is wrong with her?" Elizabeth wondered.
A puzzled look crossed Henry's face for one moment. "Shock, I would think," he said as he turned back to the woman. "Something terrible must have happened for her to be covered in so much blood. I should go to town and retrieve medications from my shop."
Henry and Elizabeth had taken the woman they found entangled in the bushes back to her uncle's barn. There had been trepidation on both of their parts regarding such an action but the Coates farm was the closest place to where they had been picnicking. The woman had recovered enough of her senses to be able to walk the distance back to the farm with some help. She had said nothing the entire time, allowing herself to be blindly led. Elizabeth had wanted to take her into the house but Henry had thought such a decision unwise. They had custody of a young woman covered in blood and they did not why. They could not risk her Uncle John finding the woman and immediately sending for the authorities. So now they sat in the barn, hidden in one of the empty stables, trying to coax answers from someone unwilling or unable to give them.
Elizabeth walked around Henry and knelt in the straw. She reached out and took the woman's hands in her own, raising her eyes to look up at the woman seated on a hay bale. "You said your name was Elwyn?" Elizabeth tried.
"Ellie." The woman shook her head. "Only D'Arcy calls me Elywn."
Elizabeth glanced briefly at Henry; they had a name. "Who is D'Arcy?" Elizabeth wondered.
"Connell," the woman cried softly, her eyes closing, the tears flowing down her cheeks. "I cannot do this anymore. I cannot do this anymore."
"Cannot do what?" Henry asked softly.
Ellie opened her eyes. "You would not believe me, if I told you." Her gaze grew distant as she seemed to remember something. Ellie fixed desperate eyes upon Elizabeth. "I have to return home!" she said. "There is something I must do." She frowned. "The guns. The general. The hospital. I must return home!"
Henry and Elizabeth exchanged shocked looks, the same thought running through their minds – General Lafayette.
"Surely you do not think…" Henry breathed as Elizabeth looked at him and returned his attention to Ellie. He laid a hand upon her arm. "What are you saying?"
"I do not know!" Ellie insisted. "I never know. That is not how it works! I must get home! Honoria will know; she always knows." She looked between Henry and Elizabeth, anger on one face, confusion on the other. "Please! Just let me leave! "
There was a potent silence in the great barn.
"We cannot let you leave," Henry said with a shake of his head. "In fact, I think it would be prudent to deliver you to someone who can treat you and will be able to help."
Ellie's eyes grew wide and frightened.
"No," came the softly spoken admonishment from Elizabeth.
"Elizabeth…" Henry tried.
Elizabeth took one of her hands that had been holding to Ellie's and laid it gently on Henry's arm. "Something is happening that I do not understand," she began and bit her bottom lip. "But I think it is important that we trust this woman." She shook her head at the look that crossed Henry's face. "Call it what you will – woman's intuition, the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. I just think we need to trust this time." A small smile crossed her face. "And we can travel toward Jeremy and Isak."
"They should be on their way back," Henry agreed. He thought silently for a moment. "All right," he agreed rather unwillingly. "We shall do it your way this time. But if Jeremy or Isak think this too risky, you must agree to follow their lead."
"Agreed," Elizabeth nodded and turned back to Ellie. "Where is your home?"
"North of Bethlehem," Ellie replied, her eyes closing, unable to see the color drain from the faces of the two people before her.
Lieutenant John Michael FitzGarrick stood on the banks of the Lehigh River and sighed. He missed his home so much. He missed the gently rolling hills, the deep, blue lakes. He missed the comfort of sitting before the fire on a cold night as the snow swirled outside the windows of the castle keep. He missed summer afternoons spent swimming in the haunted pond. John laughed; he no longer believed the family story of a man going mad and drowning his betrothed in the lovely waters. Yet there had been a time when he had willingly accepted every story of every haunting on his family's estate as truth. Now John just wished for this silly little rebellion to be over so he could return to the lakes and mountains of his youth.
"How I miss you," he said as he opened the small locket in his hands, staring at a miniature of a young woman with bright blue eyes and an abundance of blonde curls. John sighed. "Yet I cannot ask you to wait for a man who may never return." He closed the locket and slipped it into an inner pocket. "Oh, Charlotte."
"Lieutenant," a voice called and John turned around to see one of Major Alastair's young aides-de-camp approaching him.
"Yes," John replied.
"The Major is requesting your presence at the house, Sir," the young man said. "I am ordered to return with you at my side."
John waved a hand in the boy's direction. "Lead on."
John followed the boy across the expanse of slowly dying grass that led from the edge of the river to the fine stone house that the Major had commandeered as his headquarters. The owners, an elderly couple loyal to the Tory cause, had willingly turned over their home, taking a boat for England, returning to the land of their youth for their final days. A grimace passed over John's young face as he entered through the back door as he wondered if he would be that old before he saw home again.
"The Major is in his study," the aide said and discreetly disappeared.
John followed the center hallway to the front of the house and turned left, knocking at the door to the study.
"Come," a voice called out and John entered.
"You sent for me sir," John stated.
Major William Alastair, youngest brother of the Duke of Avon, looked up from the papers spread across his desk. "I did," he said and waved John into the room. He waited until John had closed the door before nodding at the other men about the desk. "You are acquainted with Lieutenant Charles Morrisey," the Major nodded at the man to his right and then nodded to the man to his left. "And this is Lieutenant Miles Braxton."
"Gentlemen," John said as he approached the desk, his keen eyes scanning the papers. "That looks like a map of Bethlehem."
Major Alastair nodded. "It is," he said as he placed a finger on the map. "And this is the Moravian Hospital where General Washington's new favorite is recovering."
Major Alastair exchanged pleased looks with the men to other side. "I told you he was a capable officer."
Lieutenant Morrisey cleared his throat. "We are planning a covert mission to get into the hospital and get the General out."
John shook his head. "That will not be easy. Surely he must be under guard."
"Not that you would know," Lieutenant Braxton replied. "These colonists seem to think that the less attention they draw to one of their most important officers, the better and more secure that officer shall be." He frowned. "We shall see the lie put to their beliefs."
"John," Major Alastair said, "Lieutenants Morrisey and Braxton have managed to place several orderlies within the walls of the hospital who are loyal and true to our cause. These orderlies are in such a position as to drug the food that the General receives. Once that is done, we need to get him out of there and that is where you come in."
"Me?" John wondered.
"I have seen you in civilian clothing," Major Alastair said, "and you move with impunity amidst the local people, almost as if you were one of them."
"Such a talent can be a great asset," Lieutenant Morrisey finished. "We are going to take the General from his room in one of the laundry hampers that the hospital uses to send out their linens. We shall place his drugged body into the hamper and convey the hamper to the basement of the hospital and from there back here to this house."
"I understand," John said, "but I do not understand why I am needed."
Lieutenant Braxton enlightened John. "We need someone who can drive the cart with no suspicion." He pointed at several spots between Bethlehem and Lehigh Station. "These are checkpoints that must be negotiated." He raised his eyes to John. "With you at the reins of the wagon ferrying out cargo, we believe we shall have a better chance to negotiate this points."
John nodded and frowned as he studied the map. "But could you not just as easily move through the woods and fields – here and here, " his finger reached out to trace a line, "rather than risk the checkpoints."
"We could," Lieutenant Morrisey replied. "But then we run the chance of a patrol and that is something we do not wish to chance."
John quietly studied the map for a moment longer before raising his eyes to his commanding officer. "When do we proceed?"
"Two days time," Major Alastair said.
"I will so glad to return to Chester," Jeremy said as he adjusted his seat in the saddle.
Isak studied his hands. "Chester or a certain young lady in Chester?"
Jeremy laughed. "Why do I even try to keep anything from you?"
Isak gathered his reins together. "Because you are talking with your heart and not your head."
"Too true," Jeremy sighed, "too true. But I shall be glad to be home. Even if it is for a little while." He shook his head. "I do not know how much we will be doing while…" Jeremy paused, watching his words, "while he is not here."
"Oh, I do not know," Isak said as he scanned the autumn countryside, "there are always little things that can be done." He ginned at Jeremy. "Little experiments of Henry's that can be tried."
"Please not that!" Jeremy said with a laugh and nudged his horse forward.
He and Isak rode in silence for some time; each of them lost in private thoughts. Words did not need to be spoken, the friendship that existed between them, the weight of responsibility, and the shared secret speaking louder than any utterance. Each man thought offered silent thanks for the supplies that had been successfully delivered to Valley Forge despite the best efforts of the British. They offered silent prayers for the extra ammunition that was slowly and stealthily making its way down the Delaware. And they sent good wishes toward Bethlehem and the young general with whom they worked so closely and whom they had grown very fond of.
It was Isak who first saw the cart coming down the road toward them. "Jeremy," he said softly, pulling back on his reins, stopping his mount.
Jeremy look puzzled as he, too, stopped his horse. "What is it?"
"There is a cart coming toward us," Isak said, "and unless it is the shadows of a late afternoon playing with my eyes, I do believe it is Henry and Elizabeth in the cart."
"What?" Jeremy asked as he focused his attention down the road, following Isak's gaze. "Dear God, it is!" Jeremy shot Isak a worried look. "They would not be this far from Chester just to welcome us home." Jeremy dug his heels into his horse's flanks, taking off down the country road; Isak not far behind.
"Jeremy!" Henry called out and pulled back on his team's harness. "Thank God!"
Jeremy drew up short next to the cart, Isak at his side. "What is going on?" he wondered. "Not my father," he pleaded. Mayor Larkin was growing old and the death of Jeremy's older brother, Robert, and the secret that Jeremy could not share, were taking their toll on the man.
"No," Henry said. "Your father was fine the last time I saw him."
Jeremy finally turned his attention to Elizabeth and the woman seated beside her. "Elizabeth? Who is this?" he asked, watching as Elizabeth gave the woman a reassuring hug.
"This is Ellie FitzGarrick," Elizabeth told him, having only recently been able to coax a last name from the mysterious woman. "We found her dazed and confused when Henry and I were picnicking."
"Why are you…" Jeremy paused and fixed Elizabeth with a curious gaze. "You were picnicking with Henry?"
"Jeremy," two voices said in unison, their tone chiding.
Jeremy shook himself.
"Why are you out this far from town?" Isak wondered. "It cannot be just to ride back with us."
Ellie finally raised her head. "I have information about a plot against General Lafayette," she said softly.
"What?" Jeremy and Isak exclaimed together.