ATT: This story may not be completely historically accurate; most of this is made of pure fiction my mind could produce. However, I will try my best to make most of this story to be based on actual events. Enjoy.
The Rebel and the Redcoat
South Carolina – June 1780
The polished wood of the musket felt smooth and cool against the hot damp skin of her hands. She adjusted her grip on the clumsy weapon as a thin stream of sweat slowly trickled down her back and soaked into the coarse cotton of her dress. Her heart was pounding so hard against her chest she thought a rib would crack. She forced herself to shove her fear aside and focus on the four Indians creeping silently towards the house. She had sighted them moments earlier and quickly ordered Anne and the children into the cold cellar beneath the kitchen floor. She took a long deep breath as she watched the savages stealthily continue their approach. They moved warily, searching for the slightest movement from the house.
They didn't know she had seen them. As soon as one of them were in shooting range, she would take careful aim and shoot. She prayed her shot would strike one of them dead, and asked God to forgive her if she did kill one of them. Then maybe the others would flee. It was a desperate, unlikely hope, but it was the only hope she had so she clung to it fiercely. If they didn't flee, they would storm the house, and Jo knew she would never have the time to reload before they reached her.
That they would brutally kill her was certain. What was less certain was whether they would find Anne and the children. She bit down hard on her cheek as a sickening mixture of raw fear and cold determination flooded through her. Blood warm and sharp tasting, seeped onto her tongue.
She scanned the yard, wondering which of the four would be in range first. If they didn't kill her immediately, she must do anything in her power to distract them from the house. Her greatest terror was that after killing her, the savages would set fire to house and barn. Instead of being slaughtered, Anne and the children would slowly burn to death. She forced the ghastly image from her mind, fearing it would snap the taut thread of control she was so carefully maintaining. No, they wouldn't burn the house she assured herself. All she had to do was kill one, and the rest would run away like the vile, cowardly animals they were. She readjusted her cramped grip on the musket and inhaled another breath of blistering hot air.
Dear Lord, she pleaded silently, please spare Anne and the children.
Damien scanned the fields of unripe corn, vainly searching for anything that looked ready to eat. There was nothing but acre upon acre of young, leafy stalks bearing thin green ears. He cursed. He knew he would have no choice but to confiscate the produce of the nearby farms kitchen garden. It was dangerous to try to accomplish that alone, especially since it seemed likely that it was a farm owned by rebel sympathizers.
However, the two soldiers who had started out with him this morning on this foraging expedition had fallen ill with dysentery and he had been forced to order them back to camp. His friend George had been most reluctant to leave him alone, but ill as he was he was useless to Damien anyway, so he had finally relented.
Damien's jaw tightened as he stared at the sea of green corn. The lack of decent food had reduced nearly one third of his men to illness. That combined with the malaria and the ungodly heat of this wretched colony, had left his legion severely debilitated. He swore silently. He could not lead sick men into battle. His gaze moved to the little white farmhouse sitting quietly at the edge of the field. There was a cow grassing idly beside it. Fresh meat would do his men well. They could make a thick stew, and give his sick soldiers broth to help them regain their strength. Perhaps the farm would even have some chickens. He nudged Glory forward, grimly encouraged by that possibility. Loyalist or Rebel, he would take whatever he could from this farm. The needs of his men were far more important than the needs of a few simple colonists.
He rode back into the woods, quietly circling toward the farmhouse through a dense veil of trees. Suddenly there was a flash of movement in the yard. He reined in Glory and tried to spot what had caught his attention.
The cow continued to graze lazily, looking hot and bored. Damien frowned and slowly urged Glory closer. Perhaps it had been a dog – which would be unfortunate, since a dog would announce his arrival long before he was actually at the door.
Just as he was about to move into the open, something streaked from a tree over to a barrel near the barn. Damien halted Glory and loaded his musket. All was quiet and still again. He waited patiently, his blood surging through his veins. Sure enough, after a moment there was another flash of movement in the yard. This time he understood what he was seeing. He counted four Indians slowly approaching the quiet little farmhouse, preparing to unleash their particular brutal form of warfare on the unsuspecting colonists inside.
The thought filled him with a mixture of fury and revulsion. For a moment, he was uncertain what to do. The Indian tribes in the colonies were largely allies with the British. Although he loathed their methods, they had been incredibly effective in terrorizing the countryside of both the northern and the southern colonies, substantially reducing the number of rebels who would otherwise have made war on British soldiers.
But many tribes were using this war as an opportunity to massacre white colonists no matter whether they were Patriots or Loyalists.
As he swiftly considered his options, the Indian hiding behind the barrel decided the time for stealth was past. He let out a high-pitched cry and began to race toward the house, furiously swinging his tomahawk. The brave was beyond the range of his weapon, but perhaps he could create a diversion. He leveled his musket, taking aim. Suddenly a shot from the house tore through the air, striking the attacking Indian in the chest. The savage's war cry diminished into a pathetic whimper as he collapsed onto the ground. A deafening cacophony of bloodthirsty screams erupted from the three remaining braves as they ran to the house and stormed inside. Damien leapt off his horse and sprinted into the yard, throwing himself down behind an old wagon. Seconds later one of the Indians emerged from the house, dragging a struggling young woman behind him. She was fighting with all her might, shrieking as she clawed at his naked skin. Her fury would have been impressive had she not been so hopelessly outmatched. The Indian quickly grew impatient with her futile show of strength. He raised his arm and smashed the back of his fist against her face. The girl cried out as she fell to the ground. For a few seconds she lay motionless. The Indian towered over her, contemplating what next to do with her.
Then he reached down and grabbed her by her hair, roughly shaking it loose from its pins. A thick length of blond silk spilled across her back.
Damien watched in horrified fascination as the brave leisurely dragged his fingers through the lustrous mass. Its glorious flaxen color reminded Damien of a wheat field drenched in sunlight. Evidently, the Indian appraised its uncommon beauty. He began to twist the sunlit silk around his dark fist, binding the girl to him by her hair. Then he jerked her up from the ground, forcing her to her knees in front of him. He slowly unwound the coil of her hair until it stretched into a taut skein that caught the white-hot glare of the afternoon sun, turning it into a shimmering banner of gold. The brave let out a cry of elation as he raised his tomahawk with a thickly muscled arm.
For a moment, everything was still. Damien stared down the barrel of his musket at the dark, muscular warrior, at the banner of gold he held and finally at the ashen face of the girl who knelt helplessly before him. She did not cry, scream, or beg for mercy. In fact, her expression seemed calm, almost tranquil. It was as if she accepted what was about to happen to her.
Despite the terror that must have been flooding through her. In that frozen second, he knew he had never before seen such extraordinary beauty and raw courage.
The warrior let out a scream as the blade of his tomahawk carved in a silvery arc in the sunlight, slicing down toward the girl. Damien squeezed the trigger. A shot ripped through the air, and a burst of scarlet bloomed on the Indian's bronzed chest, his cry of victory reduced to a startled gurgling gasp.
Blood poured from his mouth in a crimson stream. He looked around in confusion, vainly trying to understand where the shot had come from. His tomahawk fell from his grip. Then he dropped heavily to the ground, pulling the girl down with him, his fist still clenching the thick twist of gold that in another second would have been his. The sound of the shot brought the two remaining braves out of the house, dragging a frantically struggling boy. One of the Indians was carrying a musket. He looked in shock at his friend lying on the ground, then scanned the surrounding area. His keen glance fell on the wagon. Then his eyes met Damien's.
Damien threw down his empty musket and reached for the loaded pistol in his belt. The Indian was already racing toward him, screaming with wild fury, taking aim with the musket. The weapon exploded. Damien tried to throw himself out of the bullets range, but it was a second too late. The musket ball tore into his side, ripping him open.
The pain was excruciating. Hot blood soaked through his shirt and into the heavy scarlet wool of his jacket, pulsing rapidly over his fingers as he attempted to put pressure on it. He wobbled for a second before falling to his knee and then land heavily on his side.
The Indian saw his predicament and smiled. He threw down his empty musket and reached for the sharp hunting knife sheathed at his thigh.
In that, instant Jo rose from the ground and grabbed the tomahawk dropped by the brave who had tried to scalp her. The Indian holding Samuel shouted a warning but Jo had already reached the brave. She lifted the tomahawk high above her head and let out a terrible scream of rage. Then she swung the blade down with every shred of her being, burying it deep into the muscle and bone of his supple naked back.
The Indian turned and stared at her in astonishment. Yet he did not fall. She took a few steps back from him, suddenly appalled by what she had done. The mortally injured brave staggered toward her, moaning softly in a language she did not understand. Blood began to run down his legs. He groaned and clumsily sank to his knees in the dirt. His dark eyes gave her one final, questioning glance before he sighed and fell forward onto his face. The remaining Indian instantly released his hold on Samuel. Her brother used this opportunity to attack him with a frenzy of kicks and punches.
With a fist to his jaw, the brave sent him crashing into the wall of the farmhouse. Then he moved toward Jo, his face twisted with rage, a knife gleaming in his hand. Jo backed away. She turned to run, but tripped over the body of the man she had just killed and went sprawling onto the ground.
Damien fought to stay conscious. It would be so much easier to simply close his eyes and let the sickening blackness take over, but if he did that, the girl would die. Slowly, using both his hands, he lifted his heavy pistol and trained it on the advancing Indian
Take this you goddamn bastard.
Jo had been lying paralyzed with terror, on the ground, waiting for the knife to carve into her back. Despite her determination not to show her fear, a sob escaped her lips. She was going to die. When the Indian fell on her, crushing her with his weight, she screamed, a scream born of utter despair. She had failed. Now Anne, Lucy and Samuel would die. The warrior jerked a few times, then was still. Jo lay frozen beneath him, uncertain what had happened.
Damien dropped his pistol and collapsed against the ground, cursing with every breath he took. He realized his wound was severe, and that he was losing a tremendous amount of blood. He rolled onto his back and vainly tried to stanch the flow with his hands. In a moment or two, he would be so weak he would be past the point of caring whether or not he bled to death. It was strange he mused grimly, but somehow when he had come to the colonies he had not imagined his death would be at the hands of an Indian as he tried to save a simple farm girl.
"Are you hurt, Jo" demanded Samuel anxiously.
He moved to where she lay buried beneath the dead warrior.
"I don't think so" she managed, her voice thin and trembling. "Help me get him off"
Samuel grabbed one of the Indian's arms and pulled. Jo pushed until the dead man's body moved enough for her to scramble out from underneath it. The minute she was free she rushed to the injured man who had saved her life. Her throat constricted as she stared down at him. She took in the scarlet color of his torn jacket, the white waistcoat stained ruby with blood, and the filthy white of his breeches.
"Oh dear Lord" she gasped. "You're a Redcoat!"
Damien forced his eyes open to look at the woman who had cost him his life. Her eyes were the color of the sky, as clear and brilliant a shade of blue as he had ever seen. Her sunlit hair tumbled wildly over her shoulders, forming a golden veil of silk around her. It was worth it, he decided absently as pain clouded his mind.
She did not move closer, but continued to stare at him, her expression both wary and fearful. He frowned, wondering why she was afraid. Then her words pierced through the dark haze.
Christ! He thought as blackness drowned his senses. A bloody Patriot.