Author: XxScriboHistoriaxX PM
British Soldiers have landed in NH waiting on orders to move south. How will a patriot family manage when the Brits use their home as a winter camp. And will they be able to protect Anne from the charming, if devilish, English? American Revolutionary warRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,109 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 10-01-11 - Published: 09-25-11 - id: 2955614
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"Sir, you must understand where I am coming from. I have young children. I have a daughter, I-"
"No harm will come to them," the English Lord replied sipping his tea. Anne and Mathew were pressed against the wall near the study, their ears straining to hear through the slightly ajar door. "Has any harm come to them thus far?"
"No, Colonel Gainsborough but it has only been a matter of weeks. Winters here last months. You must understand-"
"I understand perfectly," the English voice once again cut off Benjamin's and the farmer kept himself from clenching his fists. The Englishmen raised the cup of tea to his nose and inhaled slowly. "Your daughter makes delicious tea."
Anne felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up and she turned her head to look at Mathew. He thought nothing of the comment and so Anne tried to brush the feeling aside but still it lingered. They could hear the tenseness of their father's voice growing and both waited, holding their breath.
"How am I expected to run my farm with redcoats-" Once again the Englishman cut Benjamin off but not my speaking. Instead he calmly placed his tea cup on the desk and stood. Clasping his hands behind his back and circling the desk he walked past the crackling fire until he stood in front of Benjamin.
"I am sure you have the ability to run a farm with soldiers living on it," he said and placed a hand warmly on Benjamin's back. The farmer bristled.
"Your soldiers are in my cattle fields. All of your horses are in my barn, I have no place to put my live stock for the winter," he argued but the English gentleman shook his head in dismissal. He was slowly leading him back toward the hall.
"You will find a place for them I am sure," he said and opened the door. Anne and Mathew had heard them approach and slipped into the closet in the hallway. When the two men emerged from the study both youths held their breath. Anne raised two hands over her mouth and waited, her eyes glued on the British Lord. "I didn't feel I had to do this, seeings how you have been so hospitable up till now, but please let me remind you, it is a matter of law that you accept me into your home."
Edward Gainsborough watched Benjamin as the farmer struggled for a response. If he argued the law was not legal or just it would be treason, an outward admission of his rebel sympathies. His only other option would be to accept the statement gracefully and in doing so accept that the English Parliament and Royal Monarchy in London had authority of him.
"Is there anything you need for the night, Colonel?" Benjamin asked instead of making either concession. The Englishman smiled and clasped his behind him.
"Yes, sir, indeed there is. If a warm bath could be drawn for me…I intend to retire soon," he told Benjamin who didn't have any time to reply before the study door was closed and the Englishman had retreated back inside. Anne would have rather waited to leave the closet once Benjamin had left the hallway but Mathew did not care if their father knew of their eavesdropping. Instead he opened the door and stepped out, an angry scowl covering his face. He was about to speak when Benjamin held up his hand. The severity of the look on his face kept Mathew from speaking. Benjamin pointed at the door and gave a jerk of his head, indicating the Lord would hear them if they spoke.
"Mathew go bring in pales of water from the stream. Anne, you will heat it. I'll bring the tub upstairs," he told them. His tone left no room for argument and Mathew grabbed the buckets from the side of the door and left the house. He made sure the door slammed angrily behind him and Anne jumped at the noise. She looked to her father, a scolding look of disappointment on his face. "I expect this behavior from him but not from you."
"I'm sorry, father," Anne said and Benjamin's face softened. He took a few steps toward his daughter, clasped the side of her arms and placed a soft kiss to her forehead.
"No more eavesdropping," he said gently and went to bring the tub into Mathew's old room. Anne went into the sitting room to stoke the fire and set up the cross bar to hang the pales from. Inside the sitting room was a Major that had spoken to Anne only once and that was to tell her his tea was cold. He sat in a chair on the far side of the room writing a letter. His red coat was nowhere in sight and his cravat was untucked. When Anne entered the room he looked up briefly but said nothing.
"Good evening Major Redfern," she said and didn't get so much as a grunt in response. Once she had the fire at hot coals Mathew came in with two buckets of water. The process of heating the water, carrying it upstairs and having Mathew refill the pales was a long one. It was nearly an hour later when Anne had the tub full with by this time only slightly warm water. She emptied the last bucket into the tub and watched as steam filled the air for a few moments. She only hoped the Colonel would come shortly as to not arrive at a cold bath. She didn't know who he would find responsible.
She dipped her fingers into the water to check its warmth before collecting the buckets and heading toward the door. Her eyes were trained on the floor as she walked, tiredness now seeping into her muscles. They usually gathered water from the well to take their baths but that was being used by the soldiers and so the water had to come from the river. This made the process twice as long and twice as tiring. Sensing a presence in front of her she looked up before continuing through the door. She started when she saw the scarlet coat of the colonel in front of her.
"Excuse me, sir," she apologized for blocking his way. She waited for him to step aside, after all that is what a gentleman would do, but he didn't. Instead he looked at her a few moments before a smile came to his lips.
"I don't believe we were ever properly introduced," he said smoothly. He held himself high with his broad shoulders straight. He was an imposing figure and the air of confidence, his head angled just slightly upward, was largely intimidating to Anne.
"No sir. You were taken ill when you arrived," she told him fought the urge to bite her lip. It had been the Major that was orchestrating things when they first arrived. The colonel had been sweating and delirious. He was quickly rushed into the nearest bedroom, Mathew's, and slept there nearly a week before he recovered.
"Please, allow me to remedy that," he said and took her small hand in his. His hand was warm and she felt her face flush a rosy pink when he raised her hand in his. "Edward Lloyd Gainsborough, Earl of Strafford. At your service."
He bowed his head slightly and Anne could see not a hair was out of place.
"Pleased to meet you sir," she said and felt her mouth go dry. He was an extremely handsome man. There was no denying that, but Anne felt a gnawing hint of guilt form in the back of her head as she looked over his smooth handsome face. If she were to guess Anne would put his age in his late thirties. "Anne Elliot."
"Pleasure," he said and her face grew even hotter.
"I hope you enjoy your bath, sir," she said and her eyes dropped to his chest. His thumb ran over her knuckles before he gently released her hand and stepped to the side. She scurried out of the room quickly and retreated into her bedroom.
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Anne headed into town early the next morning to buy some new thimbles and sewing needles. Her last needle snapped as she was sewing a pair of Mathew's breeches and at the rate the boys ripped their clothing she'd need new supplies before the day was out. The sun was just rising as she stepped off the front porch and off in the fields the soldiers were just beginning to stir. By the time she got back she was sure most of them would have awakened.
Mrs. Thomas was just opening her shop as Anne arrived in town. She greeted Anne warmly, asking how her family was, and handing over the small box she had prepared for Anne. Inside the box lay a new thimble and three sewing needles. The thread Anne had to buy separately.
"How are things at the farm?" Mrs. Thomas asked. Her plump face was severe and troubled but Anne tried to ignore it.
"Good. The corn is almost ready to harvest. I will bring you s few ears once it is picked," Anne said. She didn't mention that her father was worried the soldiers would start picking it and eating it before he could sell it.
"That's not what I mean Annie," she said. "It's not safe for you around all those men."
"Mrs. Thomas, please," Anne said and the old woman took her hands between her own.
"Your mother, Elizabeth and you should come and stay with me," Mrs. Thomas told her.
"We need to stay with Papa and the boys," Anne said. "There's been no trouble with the soldiers."
"So far," Mrs. Thomas said and shook her head. She dropped Anne's hand and the young woman took the sewing box into her hands. "It's not respectable for a young unmarried lady to be living in a home with so many men."
"My father is in the house," Anne argued but when she saw Mrs. Thomas would not budge on her position she quickly said goodbye and left the small shop. She was halfway up the road that lead to the farm house when she heard her name being called behind her. Turning around she saw Nathaniel running toward her. His hand pressed down on his hat as he ran toward her to prevent it from flying off. His coat flapped behind him and when he finally caught up with her he was breathing heavily.
"Hello, Nathaniel," she said with a smile.
"Here, let me," he said and took the box in his hand. He smiled, his hazel eyes twinkling at her. Anne felt odd as she looked back at him. A few weeks ago she thought he was the most handsome boy in not just Londonderry but the entire colony. She had never left Londonderry but she couldn't imagine a more kind and handsome boy, but looking at him now he seemed average. The nervous jitters she used to feel when Nathaniel came around were gone and she couldn't help but think he paled in comparison to the Englishmen that had made her house their winter home. The rich clothing, the posh accents, the worldliness of the English soldiers was something that Nathaniel, as sweet as he was, could not compare with. "How's your day?"
"It has gone well," she told him as they approached the edge of her father's property. "Yours?"
"I got a deer this morning," Nathaniel said proudly. "My father sent me to invite you and your family to dinner." Nathaniel clasped his hand behind his back and looked down at the ground as they walked up the dirt road. The shyness that Anne used to find so endearing she couldn't help but compare to Lord Gainsborough's confidence.
"I don't know if we can. My mother and I must cook for the officers," she said and Nathaniel scowled.
"Yes," she said and looked over her left shoulder. She could see into the cattle fields and saw some of the soldiers already lined up along the fences. She recognized most of them as the regulars that waited for her lemonade. The lemonade reminded them of home and the refreshing drink was a nice treat for camp life. Mathew, trying to keep Anne from going too close to the camp, angrily and crudely snapped the second or third time she went out that it wasn't the lemonade they were waiting for.
"How can you stomach having them in the house?" Nathaniel asked as he followed Anne's gaze. Anne shrugged and looked up toward the house. She didn't feel like looking at Nathaniel right now.
"They aren't so bad. They are just soldiers," Anne said. "Like our own."
"They are nothing like us," Nathaniel said and Anne could hear him growing tense. His older brother had left a few months earlier to join the forces in Massachusetts. Nathaniel stopped at the porch steps and Anne waited for him to offer the box back. "May I ask your father about dinner?"
"Nathaniel," Anne started and looked at the sewing box.
"Just let me come in and talk to him at least," Nathaniel said. He was so hopeful Anne couldn't say no and she invited him inside. Nathaniel followed her into the house and Anne checked each room for her father. Major Redfern was in the sitting room as usual writing in his journal. When Anne stepped into the room to see if her father was inside the Major looked up. He eyed Nathaniel a moment before giving Anne a curt nod. Maybe next time he would actually say hello to her.
"Papa?" she asked as she went into the kitchen. Inside the kitchen was her mother, Captain Williamson and Lieutenant Bradshaw, but her father was not in sight. Williamson was eating from a steaming plate of eggs and a fresh glass of milk sat in front of him. Rebekah was placing Bradshaw's plate in front of him.
"He's checking the cows," her mother told her.
"Nathaniel wants to have us for dinner tonight," Anne said and Williamson looked up at her. She caught his eye and held contact. He didn't look away even as he raised his glass to his lips. Anne looked away and to her mother.
"Oh, Nathaniel," Rebekah said regretfully. "It doesn't look like we can tonight."
"Your husband and the youngin's can surely go," Williamson said. "I am sure Anne can cook a meal on her own."
The prospect of being left completely alone in a house full of men, not just men but soldiers, didn't sit well with Anne and she looked at her mother, doing her best to hide her horror. Williamson hid his amusement well as he watched Anne struggle to compose herself. The suggestion had been partly in jest, he never expected her mother to agree to leave her alone, but part of him wouldn't mind not having the hawkish eyes of her mother, father and brother always on her.
"I am sorry Nathaniel," Rebekah said, ignoring the Scotsman. Nathaniel, after shooting Williamson a dirty look, nodded and his shoulders fell slightly.
"I understand, Mrs. Elliot," he said and gripped his hat in his hand. "I should be returning home." Anne walked with him to the front door. As they walked through the hall Anne tried to glance into her father's study but was unable to see if the English lord was currently sitting inside.
"Once the soldiers move on we will come to dinner," Anne said and Nathaniel nodded. He was clearly upset but Anne didn't know what would placate him.
"That won't be until the spring," Nathaniel said. "The armies aren't moving at this time of year."
"I know," Anne said and the two fell silent. Nathaniel took a step toward her on the porch and gently took her hand in his. His hands were large compared to hers but cool and rough. They were the hands of a farmer, not the smooth, warm hands of an English aristocrat. Both of their eyes stayed on their hands as Nathaniel spoke.
"Be careful ok?" He said softly and glanced at the house. "I don't trust them."
"I will," Anne matched the soft tone of his voice. A cool gust of wind rushed passed them and Anne felt a shiver rip through her.
"If you need anything at all you can always find me," Nathaniel said, seemingly unaware of the cold.
"Thank you," she said and looked up at him. He smiled shyly at her, small dimples forming on either side of his cheeks. His eyes were full of warmth and Anne felt a great affection for her childhood friend and longtime crush. His head angled downward before he hesitated and pulled back. Anne waited for him to make the next move and when he saw that she was not moving he leaned in again. His lips were soft and pressed gently down onto the skin of her cheek. When he pulled back his shy smiled widened and a nervous laugh left his throat. Anne followed suit and the two looked down at their feet for a few more moments. Nathaniel, with a quick glance at Anne, then hurried down the steps, put his hat back on his head, and began his journey home.
Anne jumped at the voice and turned to see the blue eyes of the Scotsman looking down at her. He walked passed her and down the steps that Nathaniel had just used. Once he was on the ground he turned to look at her.
"It's cute," he said walking backwards. There was something in the way he said it that upset Anne. She didn't want him to think her cute. It wasn't an affectionate term, it was condescending and patronizing. The thought that the soldier thought of her as some little girl with a school girl crush bothered her greatly as she watched him walk away. He turned and walked off in the direction Nathaniel had gone. His pace was slow and lazy and he appeared as if he were going for a leisurely walk. Anne fought the urge to follow him and instead returned inside.
A/N: I hope you guys like it. Thank you to those who reviewed. It means a lot to me.
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