"Up the stairs, the second door on your left," Anna said, opening the door to the house for the soldier who was carrying her sister. He nodded and proceeded up the stairs. "Mama! Mary!"
Anna's mother, the maid, as well as a few other people came flying out of all corners of the house. "Anna," Mrs. Percy said. "Whatever's the matter?"
"Elizabeth, the ice broke and she fell, and he's brought her up stairs...we have to get her warm," Anna said between gasps. Her mother gasped and ran upstairs. Anna ran through the parlor to the kitchen, ignoring the stares from the men.
"George," she called to the manservant. He immediately appeared.
"Yes, miss?" he said, apparently not noticing Anna's agitated manner.
"Go bring some wood up to Mama's room, make the fire as large as you can," Anna said. She ran to her room and pulled her thick quilt off of her bed and brought it to her mother's room. She saw the young soldier sitting outside of the door.
"They're getting her into some dry clothing," he said. "Is there anything more that I can do?"
"You've already done more than enough," she said. "I do not know how I can possibly thank you."
"There is no need," he said, rising. "I'm happy to have helped. If you need anything else from me, please let me know."
As if she had been listening, Anna's mother came out of the room. "Anna," she said, grabbing the quilt out of her daughter's hands. "We must send for the doctor right away."
"Where might I find him?" the soldier asked.
"Doctor Moore, down the street, the brick house at the corner," Anna said. He nodded and set out. Anna went into the room, where her mother and Mary had Elizabeth wrapped up in quilts on the bed.
"I must fetch some brandy for her," her mother said leaving the room.
Anna sat down on the bed next to her sister and held her hand. "Bitty," she said, quietly.
"The only thing we can do now is pray," Mary said.
Anna slept fitfully that night. Every time she relaxed enough to finally shut her eyes, she would hear a cough or a whimper from the room next door and her thoughts would immediately be drawn back to her sister. Resigned to the fact that she would never get to sleep, she put on her robe and slippers lit a candle and went downstairs to the kitchen. It was late enough at night that all of the soldiers where sleeping, so she could sit and have a cup of tea undisturbed.
She found the tea pot and the tea quickly, but when she went to get the water, she realized there was none in the pitcher. If she wanted water, she would have to go fetch it from the well. Even though she knew very well it was not the most logical idea, Anna took a deep breath and stepped out into the cold night air, the pitcher clutched in her hand. She gasped as a breeze swept through the thin material of her robe and nightdress. Her slippers made crunching sounds as she hurried across the broken twigs and slight layer of frost on the ground to the well and began to pull up a bucket of water. She let out a small whimper as a strong gust swept past, chilling her down to her bones.
"Who's there?" a voice said. Anna's heart leapt a bit before she realized it was the young soldier who had helped her and her sister that afternoon.
"It's Miss Percy," she said, pulling the bucket out of the well. She shuddered as the water slopped over the sides and onto her hands.
"Oh," he said. "How is your sister?"
"Doctor Moore said she should be fine in a week or so," Anna said. "I really cannot thank you enough for your help, Mr.-," Anna, stopped, realizing she did not know his name.
"Hartley," he said, extending his hand to take the bucket from her. "Thomas Hartley."
"Well, thank you so much, for everything, Mr. Hartley," Anna said.
"It was my pleasure to be service of you, Miss Percy."
"And what drew you outside at this hour?" Anna said.
"I might ask you the same thing, Miss Percy," he said, with a smile. "I was unable to sleep, so I thought I'd have a look at the night sky. It's much clearer here than it is in England."
"Is it?" Anna asked. "I've never been to England."
"In the country, it's wonderfully clear, or so I'm told. But in the cities, the street lights seemed to obscure the brightness of the stars. Still, I remember my father showing my brother and me all the constellations he could name. I suppose it's a family trait, an interest in the stars," Thomas said.
"Do you know the constellations?" Anna said. "Can you show me?" She had always had a keen interest in the stars, but had never met anyone that knew enough to show her anything.
"Well," he said, switching the bucket from his left hand to his right hand. "That is Pegasus," he said, tracing the outline in the night sky. "And right there is Perseus, and there is Andromeda," he said. "Do you know the story of Perseus and Andromeda?"
"I'm afraid I do not," Anna said.
"Well, the King and Queen of Aethiopia had a daughter, Andromeda. And the Queen, Cassiopeia, bragged that her daughter was more beautiful than all of Poseidon's Nerieds. And so, the Gods-" Thomas noticed Anna was shivering. "Perhaps we ought to finish this story inside, where it's warmer."
"Oh," Anna said, realizing how cold she was. She had been so absorbed in everything she was saying, she had forgotten that she was freezing. "Of course."
They went into the house as Thomas continued his story, Anna hanging on every word.