A/N: I have added an eighth child to Benjamin Martin's family. Caroline Martin is seventeen and is the second oldest after Gabriel.
Colonel William Tavington was in a foul mood, and the day's events had only served to intensify his sour outlook. His ill humor had begun the night before, when he'd been required to attend a birthday party for General O'Hara, a man Tavington thoroughly despised. He'd arrived as late as propriety would allow and had immediately begun drinking upon arrival, in order to be able to endure what he could not avoid..
Tavington had awakened early that morning to find General O'Hara's mistress in bed with him, having no memory of how she'd ended up there. Normally, awakening to the presence of a woman in his bed would have put Tavington in a good mood, but he had even less regard for O'Hara's mistress than he did for the general. And as if this wasn't bad enough, he also had a excruciating hangover. By the time he'd gotten rid of O'Hara's mistress, his head was pounding like a symphony of kettle drums.
After the less than ideal start to his morning, the day had only become progressively worse, which had magnified both his irritation and his hangover. As he'd ridden off with his dragoons early that morning, he'd been in no mood to deal with any sort of nonsense. For the first hour of riding he'd kept silent. His men had sensed his vile temper lurking just below the surface and had wisely left him alone.
But then the aggravation began almost as soon as the dragoons approached a farm where several wounded men from both sides were found being tended to by the farmer and his family. Tavington had sensed that something wasn't right as soon as he'd ridden up to the house. It hadn't taken long for his hunch to be proven right. As it turned out, the farmer had attempted to conceal the presence of a rebel spy, who also happened to be his son. After one of his men had discovered the incriminating papers the spy carried, Tavington had immediately taken him into custody and had thought that was the end of the matter.
However, the rebel's father had dared to question his authority, which had served to severely try his already paper-thin patience. And when that stupid boy had attacked the men leading the rebel spy away, Tavington had had enough. Without a moment's hesitation, he'd aimed his pistol and shot the boy, immediately ending the problem. After leaving orders to fire the house and barn, and to have the Colonial wounded shot, Tavington had left the farm along with his dragoons, his hangover still raging full force.
After the dragoons had plundered and burned another nearby farm, Tavington had decided to call it a day. They'd acquired several usable horses from the two farms, along with a good supply of foodstuffs. All in all, it had been a good haul. Now, as the dragoons were heading back in the direction of the fort, Tavington rubbed the back of his neck with one hand, hoping to ease some of the tension. He couldn't wait to get back to his quarters and go to bed, to finally put an end to this day and his damnable hangover.
"Sir! Rider approaching!" Tavington's second in command, Captain James Bordon pointed to the left indicating a returning dragoon whom Tavington had sent out earlier to reconnoiter the surrounding area. The dragoon commander stopped to wait for the horseman, who was furiously charging through a field to get to him.
"Private, report!" Tavington silently noted the young man's nervous agitation and lathered horse. He leaned back on his horse, waiting for the dragoon to catch his breath
Private George Hutchinson paused a moment, then said, "There's been an ambush, sir. All but one of the men who were escorting the rebel spy back to the fort were killed." Taking a big gulp of air, he continued, "One man had been hacked so badly I couldn't even tell who it was".
Looking sharply at the young dragoon, he asked, "And what of the rebel prisoner?"
"Gone, sir," Hutchinson said. "There was no sign of him."
"Damn!" The throbbing pain in Tavington's head stepped up a notch. "Where and when did this happen?"
Indicating the direction from which he'd ridden, Hutchinson said, "About two miles back, along the ridge road. There were some men from Colonel Howarth's unit there when I came along. They told me that whoever had done this couldn't have been gone long -- indeed, they'd probably surprised them before they could finish off the last man.
"Were you able to talk to the survivor?" Tavington demanded. "Was he able to tell you anything about the attack?"
"No, sir," the younger man replied. "Colonel Howarth's men were just about to move out to take him to the fort to see the doctor when I came upon them."
"Very well, Private." Tavington sighed loudly. "That will be all. Take your place."
Turning to Bordon after Hutchinson had rejoined the other dragoons, Tavington said, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Bordon?"
"That the simple farmer at the first farm maybe wasn't so simple after all?"
"Precisely," Tavington said. "It seems rather obvious that he rescued his son and then took revenge for the boy I shot." Looking intently at his second in command, he continued, "But he couldn't have done it alone. After all, he is just a farmer and not a professional soldier. He could not have overcome that many men alone."
"When we get back to the fort, I want you to interrogate the surviving soldier," he said. Turning to Wilkins, who had ridden up beside him on his other side, he asked, "You're from this area, are you not?"
"What do you know of the farmer from the first farm?" Tavington demanded. "And what do you know of the sympathies of other farmers in this area; and if there is any organized resistance activity among them."
"Well, his name is Ben Martin, and I've known him for years," Wilkins said. Grinning widely, he continued, "I could even tell you his boot size if you wanted to know."
Tavington rolled his eyes heavenward. "That won't be necessary, Captain," he said tightly. "Just answer the questions I've put to you."
"Well, for one thing, he's more than a simple farmer," Wilkins said, now serious. "He fought the French at Fort Wilderness and has quite a reputation among the people around here":
"Would any of those neighbors have helped him ambush our soldiers?"
"Possibly," Wilkins said. "But if any of the stories I've heard about him are true, he could have done it by himself."
"Surely you exaggerate?"
"Maybe," Wilkins agreed. "But not by much "
At that moment the dragoons were passing by the back part of the Martin property. As the three senior officers conversed, a couple of outbuildings that they'd passed over on the first raid came into view.
"Hmm, I think it's time we paid another visit to the Martin farm." Tavington turned his horse in the direction of the outbuildings. Turning to Bordon, he said, "Have the men check those outbuildings. Take everything of value, destroy the rest, and then fire the buildings. Leave nothing untouched."
"Wilkins, take a couple of men and check the outlying areas surrounding the property," Tavington said.
"Right away, sir."
"I will take a look near the ruins of the house," Tavington said. "We will all meet at the remains of the barn in one hour."
Knowing that his orders would be carried out, Tavington did not wait for a reply, but turned his horse toward the still smoldering remains of the farmhouse.
"Whew, we made it." Gabriel Martin leaned against a tree, breathing heavily. The Martins had run deep into the woods when another group of redcoats had come along not long after Ben had freed Gabriel.
"I hope they didn't see us, " Nathan said, looking back uneasily.
"They didn't," Ben assured them. "They would have chased us if they had." Looking seriously at his sons, he continued, "But we'll have to be careful to watch out for more soldiers as we head home. We'll take the long way home, sticking to the woods and staying out of sight. And we won't go home until it's dusk. We don't need any more nasty surprises today." .
Martin was almost certain that the Green Dragoons were still close by, marauding through the countryside. Right now, his focus was on making sure his family was safe; revenge on Tavington could wait.
The Martins didn't talk much as they slowly made their way back, stopping once to kill a few rabbits for their supper that night. With heavy hearts, their thoughts turned to Thomas, as their steps brought them closer to home.
A/N I originally wrote this story six years ago for the Tavington Fanfic and Art Site.
A/N Next Chapter - Violation