Three Years Later
Benjamin Martin looked around apprehensively as he arrived at a banquet that Francis Marion was hosting for a group of defeated British officers in the area. As he entered the large dining room, he carefully scanned the faces of all the British officers within.
"Who are you looking for?" Martin turned to see Lt. Colonel John Laurens standing beside him.
"Colonel Tavington," he replied. "You see, he ---"
"Tavington!" Laurens said with a look of utter disgust. "Surely you jest. No man in this room would lower himself to sit at a table with that barbarian." Looking at Martin with narrowed eyes, he demanded, "What is your interest in the Butcher?"
Martin exhaled loudly. "It's a long, complicated story, but he's married to my oldest daughter. I haven't seen her since the day of their wedding over three years ago." Sighing again, he continued, "Nor have I seen my grandchild, who is now three years old."
Understanding the implication behind Martin's words, Laurens said, "You have my sincerest sympathies, sir."
"I was hoping now that the war is over that I could find my daughter and bring her home," he said quietly. "Would you happen to know where the British officers are presently being quartered?"
"There are several large homes being used to house them," Laurens told him. "I believe the officers from both Tarleton's and Tavington's Legions are being quartered at the Hunter mansion over on Sycamore Street."
"Thank you, sir," Martin said. "I'm much obliged."
"Good luck to you," Laurens said. "I hope it all turns out for the best."
Ben Martin hurried back down to the street where his wife, Charlotte, waited in the rented carriage.
They'd left their six month old son, George Thomas,back at the farm with Gabriel and Anne, along with the other children, knowing that the baby was too young to take along on such a long trip needlessly. .Abigail and her husband, Rufus, had returned to the Martin's employ, along with several of the other servants, so they knew that their baby son would be in good hands while they were gone.
The younger Martin couple had built a house along the Santee not far from Ben's rebuilt home. They'd originally planned to settle in Pembroke, but after Tavington's dragoons had burned the entire village to the ground and hanged Anne's father for aiding the rebel militia, they didn't have the heart to participate in the planned rebuilding of the town. Most of the town's original residents had also moved on, as Tavington had been responsible for the execution of several of the town's men who had joined or supported the militia.
Charlotte noted the determined look in Ben's eyes as he strode purposefully across the grass to their carriage. "Well?" she asked, as the climbed in beside her. "Did you have any luck?"
"Tavington wasn't there," Ben told her. "It seems as if he's being purposely excluded because of his brutal conduct during the war."
"I'm not at all surprised," Charlotte said, shuddering. "My skin almost literally crawled with disgust when I had to stand near him for Caroline's wedding." She did not tell her husband that Tavington had spent most of that ceremony leering at her.
"One of the men at the banquet knew where Tavington was being housed," Ben said. "He gave me directions; it's not far from here."
A short time later, the couple arrived at the Hunter mansion. As they paused in front of the large residence, the front door opened and Colonel Banastre Tarleton came out, with a garishly dressed young woman clinging to his arm. Both were laughing uproariously at some private joke.
A moment after that, Captain James Bordon emerged from the same door. "Tarleton!" he called out. "I thought you were going to let me have a go at her after you were finished!"
"You don't really expect me to help you win your bet with me, do you, old boy?" Tarleton said chuckling. "And, besides, I'm not finished with her just yet. I'm afraid you're simply going to have to go out and find your own entertainment and work for it, just like I did." The young Colonel laughed, as Bordon slammed the door in disgust, disappearing back into the large home.
Ben approached the amorous couple hesitantly. "Excuse me," he asked Tarleton. "Can you tell me where I might find Colonel Tavington?"
"He's on the second floor, third door to the right," Tarleton said over his shoulder, not breaking stride.
A moment later, he knocked at the door to Tavington's suite.
"Martin." Tavington stood in the doorway in shirtsleeves, his hair unbound and loose on his shoulders. "I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised to see you here."
"I'd like to see my daughter, if you please." Martin attempted unsuccessfully to keep the exasperation out of his voice.
"We'd really appreciate it," Charlotte added hesitantly, trying to inject some courtesy into the tense situation.
"Come in, then," Tavington said curtly, opening the door wider.
"William?" Caroline called from another room. "Who is at the door?" A moment later, she emerged to see her father standing awkwardly just inside the room.
"Father! Aunt Charlotte!" Caroline rushed into his arms. "It's so good to see you!"
"I've missed you so much," he said, holding her close. As he embraced her, he could not help but notice that she was again with child.
The young woman turned and extended one arm to include her aunt into a group hug, who was relieved to see Caroline in apparent good health.
At that moment, a small boy, who was a miniature replica of William Tavington, came out of the other room. Noticing the strange people hugging his mother, he ran and hid behind his father, his little arms wrapped around Tavington's legs. But at the same time, he stole stealthy glances at the strange man, wondering who he was.
Tavington reached down and picked up his son. The little boy trustingly wrapped his arms around his father's neck, resting his head on Tavington's shoulder.
Caroline reached out for her son, who obligingly released Tavington and came to her. "Will," she said softly. "This is your grandfather. And your aunt." She smiled broadly as she showed off her son to her father.
"Oh, he's quite handsome, Caroline," Martin said, reaching out a hand to the little boy. "My first grandchild." Looking down at his daughter, he said softly, "And not the last, it would seem."
As he spoke, Colleen Murphy, the nursemaid, came from the other room with a little girl, and a younger toddler boy.
"This is our other son, John Benjamin," Caroline said. In a lower voice, she added, "And the little girl is William's daughter, Jane -- now our daughter." Beaming happily, she added, "And there'll be a new baby come the end of March. We're hoping for a little girl this time."
Martin raised an eyebrow and exchanged glances with Charlotte as he realized that Tavington had brought one of his by-blows for Caroline to raise, but didn't say anything, as it appeared that, despite all odds, Caroline was now happy with the man she'd been obliged to marry.
"Would you like to have tea?" Caroline asked, indicating the sitting room couch with a sweep of her hand. "We have so much to talk about!"
Noticing the couple's obvious awkward discomfort and not wanting to spend any more time than necessary with his erstwhile opponent, Tavington said, "That's a fine idea, my dear. Why don't you entertain your family and have a nice visit, whilst I take the children outside for some fresh air for awhile?"
Giving her husband a grateful glance, Caroline said, "Thank you, I appreciate it.
"I came here to take you home with me now that the war is over," Martin admitted a short time later, after Tavington had left the room with the children. "But am I correct in assuming that you want to stay with him?"
"Oh, yes, Father," she said, smiling to assure him of the sincerity of her words. "Things have turned out much better for us than I'd ever dreamed possible. As I'm sure you had imagined, I was miserable for a long time after you left me at the fort and wanted nothing more than to go home again."
She closed her eyes for a moment and pressed her lips tightly together at the memory of the callous and sometimes brutal treatment she'd been subjected to by her husband during those dark days.
"But things began to change between us once Jane was born, a month before little Will," Caroline continued. "Her mother died in childbirth and I told William to bring her home and that I'd raise her as our own. I think that melted his heart toward me." Smiling once again, she went on, "Once Will was born, we began to fall in love, little by little."
"I didn't think that man was capable of love," Ben admitted frankly.
"Miracles do happen," Charlotte chided her husband. "God does work in mysterious ways."
"That he does," Ben agreed. "As it would take a miracle to turn that man into a decent husband."
"There are a lot of things you don't know about William," Caroline said softly, not willing to elaborate with her father. Changing the subject, she asked, "How is everyone? I miss them all so much. And how have you been?"
Ben took Charlotte's hand and smiled, "You'll be happy to know that your Aunt Charlotte and I finally got married. And Gabriel got married to Anne Howard nearly a year after you left."
"How wonderful!" Caroline cried, clapping her hands together. "When did you get married?"
"About a year ago," Charlotte said. "And what's more, you have a new brother! George Thomas was born six months ago."
"Oh, I wish you'd brought him with you!" Caroline exclaimed. "The children would have loved to meet their new uncle!"
"We would have liked to have brought him, but it's really too long of a trip for such a young child," Ben explained. "It's no matter; you'll be able to come to the farm to visit him, as we've rebuilt the house and made it even bigger than it was before."
"I'm afraid that won't be possible, Martin."
Ben Martin turned to see Tavington coming through the open door, with the nursemaid trailing close behind him with the children.
"You see, we'll be sailing for New York at the beginning of next week," Tavington explained. "And from there, we will be continuing on to Nova Scotia. Most of my dragoons have been deported by your new government and the King has generously given them each an allotment of land in Nova Scotia. They intend to start their own town, and I have consented to go along and give them guidance in their endeavours. Once they are established, Caroline and I will return home to England, where I intend to finish my legal studies. I cannot say when or if we will ever return to South Carolina."
"I see," Ben said, frowning. "Well, I expect that you'll one day see us visiting you, then." Turning to Caroline, he cast beseeching eyes on her. "Are you sure you won't change your mind and come home with us?"
"My place is with my husband," Caroline said firmly, moving to stand by Tavington, slipping her arm through his. "And there is no other place in the world I'd rather be."
"I'll not stand in your way, then" he said tightly, looking down at the floor. "The only thing I have ever wanted for you is your happiness."
"I love you, Father," Caroline said, tears glistening on her cheek. She reached out to take her father's hand and was pulled into a tight hug. After a moment, she turned to hug Charlotte, "Take good care of him for me," she whispered.
"I will," her aunt promised, tears welling in her eyes.
"Say goodbye to everyone," she asked. "Tell them that they're in my thoughts and prayers. Congratulate Gabriel and Anne about their marriage for me."
"I will," he said, his lip quivering. He reached up to brush away the tears forming in his eyes. "Write to me."
"You can be sure of that," she said, squeezing his hand.
Turning to leave, he said gruffly to Tavington, "Take good care of my daughter and my grandchildren."
"Of that you can be certain," Tavington replied.
Without another word, Benjamin Martin opened the door and left, with Charlotte pausing to give them a final glance, before turning to join her husband..
Caroline Tavington turned and embraced her husband, eager to begin the next phase of their life together.
A/N A "by-blow" is 18th century slang for a child born out of wedlock. It was a somewhat more polite term than "bastard", but not quite as polite as another euphemism then used, "natural child".
Many of the dragoons in Tarleton's Legion, most of whom who were American born Loyalists, actually resettled in Nova Scotia after the war.
I have written an extensive blog entry about this story on my fanfiction blog, Slytherin Dragoon's Fan Fiction, complete with historical notes and photos. The link to this blog can be accessed from my profile here.
I will soon begin reposting another Tavington story I originally wrote seven years ago, Innocence Lost, which is a Tavington/Anne story. This story is also posted in its original form at the Tavington Fanfiction and Art Site, which I've been informed will be defunct at the end of the year. I will be tweaking and updating this story as I begin to post chapters.
I have a third Tavington story begun,All For Love, a Tavington/Charlotte story. However, I will have to get quite a few more chapter written before I begin posting this story. I'm also still writing and posting my Lucius Malfoy/Hermione Granger story, Hermione's Choice, so I'll likely not be working on All for Love until Hermione's Choice is complete.