After a day of travel to Bellingham, I found myself in a line inside Crowley's Tavern. The men in front of me moved forward at an even pace and I moved with them, purposely making my footfalls hard against the floor. I was slighter than the others, but just as strong and my convictions deep.
I needed to be here, I wanted to be a soldier. The last four years of my life were spent in servitude. I was forced to pay debts that weren't mine. I related only too well to the plight of the colonies and their freedom from Britain was an ideal I could embrace.
When I approached the table, one of the men sitting on the other side of it, without looking up, asked, "Name?"
I steadied my voice and added a roughness to it. "Jasper Whitlock, sir—of Plympton."
The man then wrote down my information and turned the ledger around and, again without looking up, said, "Make your mark."
Confidence surged through me, and with a steady hand I signed the book.
The man in uniform finally looked up from the table and, with a friendly smile, stated, "Welcome to the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, I am Captain Michael Welch, we leave for Worcester in the morning."
Relief washed over me. I was a member of the Army and would fight for freedom from the crown.
We did leave the following morning, by foot, to the rural town turned temporary base camp.
I didn't have much to my name. The poorly fitting uniform I wore I had sewn myself using pieces from my late father's wardrobe. I had no home, no money, only a calling to fight for an idea and principle, and the rifle I was issued to do so.
The long walk to Bellingham left me to my thoughts and the road that brought me to this. When I was fourteen, my father died at sea. He had left for England in an attempt to negotiate debts created by my late uncle, the former governor of Plymouth Colony. The family farm we had all worked was lost. The debts forced my mother to bound my brother, Peter, and I out as indentured servants. My mother and little sister, Charlotte, remained together on a farm that neighbored our former one. I was sent to a spinster in town to take care of her home, muck the stalls of the horses and tend to the small garden. My brother, Peter, was sent into town as well and worked for a blacksmith. He was fortunate that he was learning a valuable trade and was offered an apprenticeship when he was freed.
My eighteenth birthday triggered my release, and I traveled to see my mother and sister. When I arrived at their tiny shack located on the farm they had lived on since my father died, I was welcomed with open arms—arms I hadn't realized how much I had missed until they were tightly wrapped around me.
Charlotte looked much younger than her age, almost the same as when I said goodbye to her four years before. She was very small, too skinny and pale, but gregarious and full of smiles. My mother, on the other hand, appeared much older than I remembered; long days of hard work and sadness evident on her worn face.
Unfortunately, our visit wouldn't be long. It wasn't social, rather one with a purpose—I needed my father's clothes. When I explained why and my passion for the cause, my mother fled the small parlor into her room. I could hear her crying through the thin walls. I fell asleep waiting for her to return, restlessly sleeping in the uncomfortable chair all night long. She had to understand that as a servant, who had no control of their destiny, I needed to fight for this idea of freedom. She needed to comprehend how much Thomas Paine's words inspired me. They made me want to rise up with him and fight.
By morning, without an explanation as to why, my mother came around and helped me sew and prepare for my mission.
She and Charlotte cried when I said goodbye and they made me promise to come see them as soon as the whole situation was settled. I was glad my mother thought this was merely a simple skirmish. If that's what she needed to keep herself from worry, then I understood, I was even grateful for it.
We marched for three days, sleeping on the side of the road when night fell. After our arrival to Worcester, we were told to mingle with the troops that had arrived before us and set up camp. I chose not speak to anyone, instead I set up my tent; my new home.
That evening, I sat around one of the fires, eating my portion of a rabbit. It was tasty and I was grateful that several of the men were skilled trappers and caught a weeks worth of dinner along the way.
After I had finished the meal, I moved to take my leave and get some sleep for the night, but it was then that I saw him.
He was tall with a strong jaw and he wore an actual, issued uniform, though it hung loosely on his lanky frame. He waved at the soldier to my right as he approached the circle of men seated around the bonfire. He sat down next to his acquaintance. The flames illuminated his face and he was the most handsome man I had ever seen.
Despite the heat, I was frozen in place. I couldn't help myself; I stayed to listen to their conversation. I wanted to know his name. I made a promise to myself I would head back to my tent the moment I discovered it.
Patiently, I waited. They were clearly from the same area and after they exchanged pleasantries, they conversed about common friends. Thankfully, I didn't need to wait long, my reward came in a short while; his name was Edward Cullen. I broke my promise and continued to listen to them. His voice was deep and smooth, and while my gaze was focused on the flickering flames, I learned he was a doctor that traveled with the troops.
Listening to him was soothing and relaxing, so much so that I yawned. In the midst of it, I dared to look over toward the two friends and found myself looking right at Edward. Our eyes locked. He smiled kindly at first, then slowly cocked his head to the side, changing his happy expression to one that felt uncomfortable. After what felt like a minute, but was more likely only a few seconds, I managed to break away and quickly removed myself from circle around the bonfire.
As I walked back to the tent, I berated myself.
What is wrong with me? I am here to fight. I couldn't think about him like this, I shouldn't even be having these feelings. I have one objective while I'm here and the first day I find myself attracted to a fellow soldier.
And why is this happening now? This isn't want I want. Why did he have to come to the circle I sat at? Why did he look at me in such a way? It felt as if he knew my thoughts.
I need to erase the impure feelings from my mind. I didn't truly belong and I never would, but I want to be here and be successful. I have to rid my mind of Edward Cullen.
I continued to castigate myself until I fell asleep, with only a thin blanket separating me from the cold earth.
With the morning sun I awoke, renewed in my spirit, the doctor still on my mind, but it was good to stay alert in regards to him, so that I would be sure to keep my distance. My resolve to focus on the war, fight hard, and be the soldier that I wanted to be was firmly in place again.
The sound of a bugle pulled me out of my tent. Captain Welch, atop his horse, announced that we were leaving for West Point. We were needed for battle. I steeled myself; this was what I had signed up for.
The morning was spent determining our skills with loading, shooting and reloading our weapon. I wasn't the most competent soldier with a gun, but I learned quickly and mastered my rifle by the afternoon. We left for New York after training.
We were at West Point to root out the enemy hiding in the woods along the Hudson. The smell of stale smoke filled my nostrils and blood stained the grass and dirt along the path next to the river. A battle had already come through the area. I held my musket closely and too tightly in my hands, causing them to cramp. It was too quiet, the air felt heavy, it was hard to breathe and even though there were dozens of men to my right and left, forward and back, I felt alone.
A crackling noise rang out.
A rain of sound followed and it was the loudest thing I had ever heard, causing my body to jerk still. The soldier next to me pulled the tail of my coat and brought me down to the ground. My ears were clouded with the boom of gunpowder fired against musket balls in rapid succession, screams of agony and the thud of bodies falling to the dirt. The man that had been in front of me wasn't as lucky as I and was felled by a bullet into his torso—he screamed and gurgled as blood stained his coat. I pulled myself onto my knees and aimed at red. I heard the Captain order us into the trees. I backed up on all fours and then made a run for the first wide tree trunk I could get behind.
The captain navigated us through the trees. It was still early in the morning and a cold fog rolled through the forest. We used brush and trees for cover in between firing upon our enemy. I didn't know what I expected when I came to war, but I could never have prepared for the pandemonium I was witnessing. I kept reloading my rifle and aiming at Redcoats.
Walk. Load. Shoot.
Combat was ugly and I tried not to pay attention to the men that fell next to me or because of me. It was difficult with their screams becoming louder than the gunfire. But ignore them I must; it wasn't my assignment to assist them as much as it pained me not to. My objective was to survive and kill Britons.
Walk. Load. Shoot.
The two armies clashed and the bayonets and the butts of our rifles, along with fighting skills, were now the weapons. I was part of a militia, but truly, at this moment, I was fighting for my life. I felt a stabbing pain in my thigh, but the pain was bearable enough for me to continue on. I focused on the person in front of me until I knocked them down and moved on. I never imagined that I would ever be so focused on hurting another human being to save myself. My instincts and will to live was a powerful force I didn't know existed in me until this moment.
Walk. Load. Shoot.
It was hard to believe when the noise settled down and the ground was littered with the dead and wounded, that we had won and driven the British out of the woods. The captain ordered half of us to find our fellow soldiers who were still alive and get them to the medical tents. The other half of the unit directed to gather and bury the bodies. I could feel the stickiness of blood on my forehead and I noticed my breeches were stained red as well; a small, round hole cut through them. I had been shot. As soon as I acknowledged the injury, I could barely walk; pain was quickly invading my body. I picked up the first soldier I stumbled across and we supported each other as we walked to the medic station.
I looked all around the tent area. I didn't know what I was trying to find, but the moment I saw Doctor Cullen I instantly relaxed. He made eye contact with me and then looked me up and down as if he were trying to ascertain my injuries from a distance. The calm then vanished, replaced by panic. A thousand thoughts flooded my mind, all of them directing me to leave his presence. Instead, I smoothed my coat with my free hand and stood in place as he walked toward me.
"Private, lay him here." Edward pointed to an empty cot and I unloaded the patient. After examining my fellow soldier and tending to his injuries, he spoke to me, "Let me examine your wounds?" He looked upon my forehead and spoke the diagnosis out loud. "A laceration to your forehead and blood on your thigh. Shot or saber?"
"Bayonet, sir. I'll find a nurse to tend to the cuts." He sighed.
I started to walk away, when he grabbed at my arm to stop me. "Private, your name?"
Even through the thick wool, his strong hands were soothing. The pain seemed to dissipate into his grip. He kept looking at me with a strange look though, then I recalled that he asked me a question. "Whitlock, sir. Jasper Whitlock." He removed his hand and the loss was palpable. How was this feeling possible?
He nodded and the corners of his mouth moved up a bit. He then walked away to move on to other injured men. I wanted him to help me, to feel his hands moving along my skin. I couldn't help the thoughts, ones that I knew were so wrong. In the end, I knew I needed to stay away from him and I headed as far away as possible to tend to my injuries.
I walked out of the makeshift hospital and found some nearby brush I could disappear behind. I tore my breeches at the bullet entrance and examined my thigh. The ball was too deep. I wasn't going to be able to pull it out, leaving me no choice but to go back to my tent to clean up my forehead and thigh and bandage myself up. I worried about infection, but not enough to reveal the lie I'd just told to Edward and I certainly did not want to be exposed to him so that he may examine my wound in such a vulnerable area of my body. I needed to become better at defending myself in the future to avoid the horrible pain I was currently in and keep myself out of the medical tent.
Now I held two purposes: defeat the British and avoid the man who brought to me feelings that should not exist.
The War of Independence continued on and I had fought for fourteen months. My leg still caused me misery, but I was able to walk and fire my rifle and that's all that mattered. My clothes were worn through in some spots and mended many times over at the seams. I was always hungry and cold, but I kept marching. Our Captain inspired his soldiers. More men joined the cause, the French were aiding the fight and America was becoming more of a reality with every battle won. I still didn't communicate with my unit very much, mostly keeping to myself, I knew I would never truly belong—indeed we fought together, we watched out for one another, and we ate meals side by side, but it would never be a reality I could believe in. I accepted the facts and kept to my duties with diligence.
Unfortunately, in that environment, I couldn't avoid injuries, but thankfully they were never quite as severe as the first ones I sustained. Speared in my shoulder, a bullet grazed my neck, broken digits and various other blade wounds kept me a regular visitor to the medical tent. Edward's face would be a mixture of relief when I came into the tent alive and walking on my own two feet, yet sadness that I sustained injury at all. I observed him as he tended to the soldiers. I watched him watch me. From time to time, he would engage me in conversation as he wrapped an injury. My one-word responses didn't appear to deter him. I noted that Edward was polite and friendly with everyone, but seemed to try harder with me. I was completely conflicted. If he were to stop, I would be devastated, but his persistence was becoming too hard for me to bear.
Edward and I never spoke outside the medical tent. He was popular with the soldiers. He was beautiful when he gave an impassioned speech about the American dream. His clothes were stained and damaged, but he still looked regal as he quoted Doctor Franklin and Mister Paine. Somehow he looked even more handsome with his untamed mop of copper hair, whereas the rest of us looked like drowned cats.
Of course, I didn't see any other soldier the same way I looked upon Edward. He was an impossible dream, an exquisite yet tormenting presence in my mind for days when we were near each other for only a moment.
During the last year when I wasn't physically fighting, I was still at war with myself. Battling my want to be near Edward. Sometimes I felt as if everyone around was aware, that they were noticing me notice him. I knew no one knew, it was too impossible to believe. The soldiers were too wrapped up in their own battles to actually care. Still, the paranoia weighed heavily on my shoulders.
After a particularly long day of travel, I had turned into my tent early, I was feeling ill—ill enough that I didn't attend dinner around the fire to watch Edward eat fire-cake, the only form of food we had left. According to Captain Welch, we would be marching to Tarrytown in the morning. I needed all my strength and a good night of sleep.
"Private Whitlock, you must awaken."
I could here a soft, dreamy voice in the distance, but couldn't find the energy to respond. Someone was in my tent, trying to wake me up and I worried our camp had been invaded. Mustering all my energy, I managed to sit up and open my eyes to see Edward kneeling before me, reaching his hand out to put on my forehead. Was this a dream I was having? Edward in my space with his hands on me. I tried to lift my arm to touch him back, but I felt like I was drowning.
"An infection, maybe brain fever," Edward said to someone or maybe to himself; I couldn't see anyone else in the tent. His fingers felt cool and relaxing against my skin. I tried to speak, but it was too difficult. I just wanted to lay back down.
"Jasper, I need you to try and walk." Concern laced his voice. I wanted to tell him he shouldn't mar his face with worry—his forehead wrinkled when he was distressed. I attempted to lift my arm again to smooth out his lines, but I couldn't.
A set of arms, maybe Edward's, helped me up. We left my tent and walked what seemed like forever. I was lifted up onto a horse and laid on my stomach over the beast's back.
"Private Whitlock," Edward said into my ear. "I am going to take you to my family farm, it's not too far from here. I'll take good care of you." He was right next to me, but still sounded so far away.
I replied, "I know you will." I wasn't sure if the words actually escaped my mouth.
As we galloped away, I realized this wasn't a dream; I was ill. Of all the times I could have died during this war and it was a fever that would take me from this earth. I prayed to God for forgiveness, I begged for absolution.
I must have fallen asleep astride the horse, as I had no memory of the journey.
I woke up and found myself laying on a table. I opened my eyes just enough to see Edward leaning over me. He looked so sad, I wanted to put my hand on his cheek and feel his unshaven face. He started taking off my coat and that was when the panic rose in my chest.
"No," I mumbled.
"Shh—I need to remove your clothing, this will help your fever," he whispered back.
All my energy went to trying to push his hands away. The task was next to impossible and he easily held my arms down, pulling the sleeves of my coat off and lifting my shirt. I heard his intake of air and knew my secret had finally been revealed.
"What is this?" He started removing the bandage around my chest, then his hands moved down to my breeches and in my weakened state, I had no means to fight him. "Impossible! You're—you're a woman!"
I awoke in the most comfortable bed I had ever been in. I looked around the small room and realized I was in a house. My head throbbed and I was perspiring. I pushed the quilt off me and stretched out my limbs. I tried to remember the events that led me to this room, but was unable. As I lifted my arms above my head, something didn't feel right. Then it dawned on me; my breasts were no longer bound. I could feel my heart starting to pound and I began to shake.
A soft knock on the door made me pull up the quilt and clutch it to my chest. I didn't know what to do.
"I thought I had heard some movement in here." A woman entered the room. "How are you feeling, Private Whitlock?" she asked in a gentle voice.
"I... I don't know—tired." My voice sounded scratchy.
"I'll tell Edward you're awake."
"No, please don't. I need to leave." I looked around the room to find my personal items. I wanted to jump out the window and run.
"You are far too ill to leave just yet, sir. I'll send him right in."
She called me sir. I was puzzled; she must have known I wasn't a man.
She left the room and less than a minute later, Edward walked in. I expected him to be angry, to have soldiers by his side, ready to arrest me. I didn't expect the pure joy that emanated from him. He moved swiftly into the room and sat down on the bed facing me.
"You have been asleep for two days. You look much better, Private. How do you feel?"
"Doctor Cullen, my deepest apologies, I never intended to do harm."
"Jasper, your being ill did no harm and please, call me Edward."
"Doctor—Edward, please, you must relay that I only wanted... "
He stopped me before I could finish my train of thought. "You need to get some rest, you haven't fully recovered. I'll bring you some water and food." He got up and left the room.
There were so many things I had denied myself in masquerading as a man. I was by no means delicate, as being the fairer sex dictated. I worked in fields and tended to horses. I fought in a war for over a year. In all that time, I hadn't spilled a single tear, but in that moment all the hardships and sorrow came out in a flood. My stomach was in knots and filled with despair—I cried for the first time in years.
Edward came back into the room again, rushing to my side. "What is wrong? Are you in pain?"
"I don't know what to do." I was sobbing.
"Private Whitlock—Jasper, if you'll allow, I would like to examine you, to see how you are healing."
I nodded my head, confused as to why he wasn't asking me about my sex. He should have a multitude of questions to ask me.
Edward looked into my eyes as he placed his right hand on my forehead, slid his palm down my cheek, settling it on my neck. "Fever is still present, but the swelling has gone down," he said quietly, still holding my gaze. The feeling of his skin on mine brought back a tidal wave of all the tempestuous thoughts I had attempted to push out of my head. I held still, savoring the feeling of his cool fingers.
All too quickly, the contact was broken, but our eyes remained locked.
I finally understood. I reached out to his hand and laid mine on top of it. He leaned in. I could feel his warm breath on my already heated face. Then he moved in even closer and placed his lips on mine. I was shocked. I had been kissed before—taken advantage of by my former Mistress' nephew—but this was different; this was remarkable. I felt like a woman.
Edward continued moving his lips against mine, pulling his hand from my grasp and wrapped his arm around my body to bring me closer.
He removed his lips and spoke in a hushed tone. "My eyes were deceived, but my heart... my heart never was, somehow I always knew the truth." He held me close, then kissed me sweetly on the forehead.
All too soon, he pulled away from me and sat at the edge of the bed. "You must rest, you have a mission to complete before the militia leaves Tarrytown."
"But, Edward, I'm a... " Edward placed a finger on my lips.
He left my side and as he was leaving the room, he said, "I must fetch you that meal I had previously promised." He winked then closed the door behind him.
He returned with a tray. I hadn't seen real food in months. I devoured the plate of eggs and biscuits in front of me. Edward watched me from a chair across the room as I consumed every last crumb, a funny smile on his face.
The tea that accompanied my meal was calming and it tasted divine. The aroma was so comforting.
Edward broke the silence. "If you are well enough tomorrow, you and I will take the horses to the camp. You are to deliver a letter to General Black."
Immediately, I understood the contents of the letter. Edward was going to reveal my charade to the Captain and the General. I knew that he was obligated to be honest with our leaders and I bore him no ill will. Him continuing to call me Jasper and his mother referring to me as "sir" was their way of respecting my secret and me. I don't know if I would ever be able to convey how much I appreciated the gesture.
He catered to me for the rest of the evening, keeping a proper distance in a chair across the room. It amused me how, in the medical tent, Edward had been incessant with questions, but now in this room, he was mostly quiet. We made idle conversation the rest of the evening. I drifted asleep that night feeling different, a weight lifted off my body.
The next morning Edward's mother, Esme, came in to check on me and deliver me breakfast. I felt much better, not completely at full strength, but well enough and restless to get out of the bed after I ate.
Esme must have been in the room while I still slept. I could see she had neatly folded what looked like my uniform on the chair Edward had occupied the evening before. There was a leather satchel on the floor beside it.
I left the bed that had been my sanctuary for three days and stretched my limbs. I walked around the small room, running my hand along the wall until I came upon the chair and then reached down to examine the clothing. I held up the coat and noticed it was patched and mended and that the next item on the stack was my binding cloth. I smiled at the kindness that I continued to receive and replaced the coat on the seat. I knelt down and peered inside the satchel and let out a small laugh. I would miss Esme very much.
Edward had come in to check on me when he heard me moving about the room and reluctantly declared me well. In the afternoon, I bound my breasts and donned my uniform. When I was back in my coat and breeches, I emerged from the room with the leather bag in my hand and found Edward and his mother speaking in the parlor. They halted their conversation and looked upon me. Edward's face was unreadable, Esme looked sad.
Esme got up from her chair and we walked to each other and embraced. "Take care of yourself, Jasper," she whispered into my ear.
"I can never repay your kindness."
She pulled away from me to smile at me and say, "Of course you will, all you have to do is come back."
Edward and I rode out to Tarrytown to meet up with the militia. I enjoyed feeling the wind in my face as we rode along in silence. Whenever I glanced at Edward, he was looking at me, always smiling.
It didn't take us long to arrive at our destination. I dismounted and walked toward the strategy tent with the envelope containing my fate in my hand. A few of the soldiers I passed along the way said hello and waved. I kept my eyes forward, walked with a straight back and made my way through the camp.
I arrived at the tent to find General Black and Captain Welch studying a map. I saluted them both and waited only a moment for them to return the gesture. Captain Welch then said, "Private Whitlock, it's good to have you back."
"Sir, Doctor Cullen has requested that I deliver this letter to you." I handed the sealed parchment to the General and stood in front of him while he opened and then read it.
After a few minutes, General Black looked at me and said, "What am I reading, Private?"
"A letter written by the physician who healed me from infection, Sir," I responded.
"Follow me back to my tent." He then turned his attention to the other officer. "Captain Welch, please join us."
All three of us walked to his tent. I was terrified and walked a few paces behind them, my posture changed, now bent with shame. I didn't know what to expect. I had done a terrible thing; betrayed my sex, lied and put men in danger. I knew I fought bravely, just as any other soldier, but I also knew my effort may not matter in the end.
The General looked me up and down while Captain Welch read the letter. When he was finished, he stared at my face with his mouth agape. I felt exposed as they discussed in a whisper what I imagined was my punishment.
Captain Welch cleared his throat. "Private Whitlock, the Continental Army appreciates your service, you fought bravely. You are hereby honorably discharged."
Tears stung at my eyes, the appreciation I felt for being recognized as a soldier was extraordinary.
I rubbed my eyes and held my head high. "Thank you."
The General left the tent, but Captain Welch stayed and put a hand on my shoulder and said, "You were one of my top soldiers, I wish I wasn't aware of this so that you could remain."
"Thank you, Sir. I am proud to have served under your leadership."
"What shall you do now?"
"Go home. See my mother. Then... well I don't know." I then continued, "May I use this tent for privacy, for a few moments?"
"Take all the time you need."
Captain Welch left the tent and I could see him as a shadow whisper to the soldier outside the tent. I saw the guard move closer to the opening. I let out a nervous chuckle at how protective and gentle the Captain had become the moment he learned I was a woman.
I stood in the room, observing the items around me—maps, arms, letters on a desk and the leather satchel at my feet. I bent over and opened the flap and pulled out the blue dress that was inside.
I changed out of the uniform I had worn for over a year, unbound my breasts and put on the foreign garb. Surprisingly, the feeling of freedom came with this garment. No more false portrayals, hiding in my tent, refraining from conversation. I had nowhere to go, but after all I had been through, suffered through and fought for, I didn't fear for my future.
As I emerged from the tent, I took a big, hearty inhalation of air and exhaled with gusto. The guard at the door gave me a odd look. Walking through the camp, I continued to receive strange glances. This gave me cause to smile, they had no idea who I was or why a woman was present.
Still wearing my boots, I made my way to the road and began my journey home to Plympton. I heard the sound of hooves and knew it would be Edward astride the animal.
"Private Whitlock, please stop," he called out. I turned around and faced the opposite direction. His steed slowed to a trot and he circled his horse once before dismounting. "Where are you going?"
"Home, sir—to Plympton, and I am no longer Private Whitlock."
"I would escort you back, but I must stay with the army. They need a doctor."
"Of course, Doctor Cullen." I didn't know what I wanted from him, except that it was harder to leave him than anything else I was walking away from.
"This war will be over soon, and when it is, I will find you. Please, can I know your name to make my journey easier?"
I smiled—I wanted him to find me. "Isabella Swan." It felt odd to say my own name; I had hidden it for so long.
He covered the distance between us in two long strides and held me close to him. With his hand gripping my short hair, he dipped his head and kissed me slow and deep. It was a kiss to say goodbye, a kiss to say wait for me. I felt tears sliding down my cheeks as he moved his lips and tongue with mine. I knew in that moment that I loved him.
Edward pulled away. I looked up at him and he had a tear stained cheek as well. He leaned his forehead against the top of my head and breathed in deeply. With his exhale, he left my side and walked back to his horse. He hopped onto the saddle, grabbed the reins and looked over at me, a sad smile on his beautiful face. I lifted my arm to wave goodbye. He waved back and said loudly, "Be safe, Isabella Swan."
Author's Note: Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet entitled The Crisis: "Would that Heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment!"
I'm not sure if Thomas Paine inspired real life hero, Deborah Samson, but her story and remarkable life inspired me.
Thank you to StarlightSuccubus and kyla713 for their guidance, advice and beta work. I am incredibly grateful and appreciative to you both.