tagNovels and NovellasAn Officer and a Gentleman-1777 Ch. 06

An Officer and a Gentleman-1777 Ch. 06

byjerseyblue©

For the next few days, the Army stayed at Crown Point, planning, gathering supplies, and getting for the move against Ticonderoga. It sat while the precious days of good summer weather slipped away. Unlike the days wasted at Montreal and on the Richelieu, the wait didn't not upset Major Jeffrey Tremaine. He found himself completing the work assigned to him by the General and then finding every excuse he could to visit the German camp. He used the time there to allow the Baron and his staff to be more at ease with him and for the Baron to realize that he was there to help. Mostly the time was spent with Katrina as they spent as much time together as possible, even stolen minutes of time. The more time they were together, each began to understand the deepness of their feelings.

On the third night Jeffrey was invited to dine with Major John Acland and his wife, Lady Harriett. Acland was in charge of the light infantry and had given Jeffrey advise on how to prepare for his scout assignment. Lady Harriett, a few months pregnant, was accompanying her husband and brought along her young daughter, her mother, and a maid. She was also distance relative to Lady Nancy Stange, Sir Digby Stange's wife.

When Jeffrey informed Katrina that he intended to bring her to dinner with the Acland's, she objected strongly.

"Nein,nein!" she protested. "I can not go to such a dinner. She is a Lady and I am just servant, a nanny. How can I sit at her table?"

Jeffrey put his hands on her shoulder. "You are the daughter of Countess von Buskirk and you have the same rights as she does, maybe more. You are my guest and they will accept you.

Again she objected. "What of my duties to Baroness Riedesel? I have nothing to wear. No, I can not go."

"Katrina, I want you to go. I want to be with you and I want others to realize that also. I can not force you to go but it would give me great pleasure if you did."

When he called on her that evening, Katrina took his breath away. Her reddish hair was piled high upon her head, which accented her lovely neck. The dress was a dark blue satin highlighted with light blue trim, which made her eyes sparkle. She moved with the grace of a lady.

Baroness Riedesel was standing next to her. "Herr Major," she said sternly. "Katrina is my niece and will be treated as such. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Baroness," Jeffrey bowed. Straighting, he offered Katrina his arm. As they walked, Jeffrey whispered, "Sie schauen verheerendes schönes. Sie haben meinen Atem weg geholt."

Katrina smiled and pulled him tighter to her.

The dinner was a fine one. Much to Katrina's relief, there were four other officers attending with their 'wives' if they were. The table was covered with a lace tablecloth and set with the Acland's fine china and crystal. The wine and champagne was the finest and the meal consisted of duck, fish, and some other wild game.

The conversation was light and casual. The officers knew one other from England and service in the Army. Also it seemed everyone knew each other families either by a common relative or close friend.

"Major Tremaine," Lady Harriett asked, "I believe you know my cousin? Lady Nancy Stange."

"Yes, my Lady," he replied. "We were close friends."

"Were?"

"Yes, when we were younger we were quite close but, I regret to say, the Army pulled us apart."

"I see," Lady Harriett gave a knowing smile.

Major Acland spoke up. "Isn't she married to Sir Digby Stange now?"

A captain interjected, " You don't want him as an enemy. I have heard some terrible things as a result of that."

There were responses of "Here, here" and the nodding of heads.

Lady Fox-Strangway, Lady Harriett's mother, spoke to Katrina. "Young lady, I understand you are the daughter of the Countess von Buskirk?"

The room grew quiet awaiting her answer. "Yes, your Ladyship, she is my mother."

"I believe I knew your grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Roxbury and I think I remember your mother as a young girl. A beautiful child."

"Yes, she was my Großmutter." Katrina replied. "She died five years ago."

"So sorry. And your mother?"

Katrina gave a quick glance at Jeffrey. He could see a glimpse of panic in her eyes. "She is well," Katrina answered.

At that, servant brought the wine for the toasts. Major Acland rose. "Gentlemen." And the officers stood.

The lowest ranked officer gave the first toast. "To the King!" followed by "Success to our Armies" and "Confusion to the Enemy."

Jeffrey made the final toast. He turned to face Katrina. "To the ladies, may they always be as beautiful as they are tonight."

"Here! Here!"

Jeffrey and Katrina walked arm in arm back to Riedesel's HQ and quarters. The two talked about the evening, the meal, and the guests.

"I told you not to worry, Katrina. They do not know your story. Tonight they saw a daughter of a countess, a beautiful, poised, young lady," Jeffrey said thoughtfully.

"I think Lady Harriett's mother knows," Katrina replied.

"And she is too much a lady to say so. Your secret is safe."

"I hope so, for your sake," Katrina blurted out.

Jeffrey stopped and held her by her shoulders. "What in God's name do you mean?"

She pulled away and stepped back. "I know how society works. The sins of the mother are passed on the daughter. You are the son of a Lord and will soon be one yet you are seen in the company of a teacher, a nanny, a servant, a bastard child."

He grabbed her. "Katrina, you must not say such things!"

"Why not? They are true." She began to cry.

"I don't care," he said and then paused. "Because I love you," he quietly said.

Katrina pushed against him but he proved too strong. "You can't," she sobbed.

"But I do." He kissed her cheeks, tasting her salty tears. "I love you with all my heart."

She buried her head in his chest and held him tight. "Oh meine Liebe. I love you also."

Jeffrey lifted her chin and looked into her face. Yes he had fallen in love and for the first time he could admit it, to himself and to Katrina. He kissed her lightly at first and he felt her lips and body yield to him. He kissed her harder, more passionately and she responded in kind. This beautiful young woman telling him that she was his, no strings attached, his to take.

They broke the kiss and Jeffrey held her to his chest, softly stroking her hair.

"Now what?" she asked. "I have never loved a man before. You must show me."

"In time, mein kleines, in time."

"God damn it!" exclaimed the General. Jeffrey had never seen or heard him so mad. "Where are those damn Germans? Major Tremaine!"

"Yes sir."

"What do you know about what's going on across the Lake? What is happening?"

General Burgoyne's first move had succeeded beyond anyone's dreams. Using the information Jeffrey provided, the Army landed just out of artillery range of the Fort. It moved quickly taking Mt. Hope and cutting the road. General Phillips was true to words and got two guns on the summit of the large mountain. When that was accomplished, it didn't take long for the rebels to see their position was hopeless. They began to withdraw that night. The main body crossed the bridge to the redoubt on the east shore and marching southeast into the Hampshire Grants. The rest fled south to Skeneboro.

This is when Germans were to play a big part. Riedesel landed on the east shore and were to move south along the road to block the rebels' escape. As of now no gunfire had been heard in that direction and there was no sign of the advancing Germans or retreating rebels. Gen. Fraser was moving his troops to the eastern shore to begin the pursuit.

"General," Jeffrey began. "The landing went well. There was a delay in finding the road. The road was in poor shape and the rebels had removed the causeway across some swampy land. Baron Riedesel said the map he had was of little use. That was four days ago, sir."

"It sounds like the Major is making excuses for his German friends."

"Sir?"

"Never mind, Major," Burgoyne said waving his hand. "I want you over there and get them moving. Tell the Baron I want him on Fraser's left and to push those rebels. Understood?"

"Yes, sir!" and Jeffrey was off.

As he pushed his way through the pursuing troops and across the bridge, Jeffrey thought about the last hectic days. He was asked to be two places at once and the Lake separated them. Baron Riedesel trusted him with the most confidential messages and General Burgoyne expected him to be able to force the Baron to do things he didn't want to. All the time he stole away to find a few moments with Katrina. Each minute was precious and it was becoming more obvious to each of them how deep their love was. Jeffrey knew since the night he told her he love her that what Frau von Hausen was right. Love was to savored and taken slowly. So many times he played the game and so many women came to his bed but this was different. It was he who felt the need now.

Jeffrey found some green unformed Jagers halted along the road near an intersection. He shouted to the nearest officer, "Leutnant, wo ist Ihr befehlshabender Offizier?

The young man pointed down the road to the rear. "So. Oberst Baum"

Jeffrey spurred his horse and rode off. In less than a mile, he found Colonel Baum. Saluting, he handed Baum a folded piece of paper. "Meine Komplimente, Oberst aber General Burgoyne fordert, dass Sie die linke Straße nehmen."

The colonel gave Jeffrey a stare. He knew who this Major was in his scarlet coat. He had seen him many times at headquarters talking to the Baron. Still this was most unusual.

Jeffrey could see the question in the colonel's eyes. "Ich informiere den Baron, Oberst."

With that Jeffrey saluted and rode rearward. He heard the colonel giving the orders as he left. He pushed on, finding the head of the column moving slowly on the narrow rutted road. He now understood the reason for the delays.

The road was a road in name only. It was barely wide enough for a column of fours. Trees grew close making it even narrower at times and nearly impassable for wagons and artillery. With the trees so thick, the air was hot and heavy with very little breeze. The men and horses could only move so fast.

Jeffrey found the Baron seated on his horse with his staff.

"Baron, I have an urgent message from General Burgoyne." He handed it to one of the Baron's aides who handed it to the Baron. With a look of contempt, he opened it. After reading it, he looked at Jeffrey. "Very well," he said.

"Baron," Jeffrey spoke up. " I asked Colonel Baum to advance his Jagers down the road to the left. I apologize if I overstepped my authority."

"Quite all right Major. I want you to take this message to General Fraser. Tell him my command will be halting for the night when it reaches the intersection. I will resume the march before daybreak tomorrow. Is that clear, Major?"

The Baron must have seen the look of surprise on Jeffrey's face. By the time the Germans reached the intersection, there would still be plenty of light left. So much for quick pursuit. He saluted. "Ihr Befehl Herr Baron."

At promptly 3AM, General Fraser ordered his men up and in pursuit. The night was moonless and inky dark.

"Major Tremaine," he ordered. "Tell your German friends, we are on the move. They can find us by the sound of our guns."

Jeffrey mounted and slowly made his way towards the left. He found the Baron already awake and dressed. "General Fraser's compliments, Baron. He begs me to report that his men are up and will be contact with the rebels by first light. He requests that you support his left."

"Danke, Major. Please so kind as to return to General Fraser and tell him that the Brunswick grenadiers will be on the march to his support. The rest of my command will follow." As they spoke, they could hear gunfire from the right.

Jeffrey rode back to General Fraser. He could hear the volume of gunfire increasing and see dirty smoke rising above the trees. He found the General just behind the firing line.

"We are driving them, Major. Surprised them at breakfast. They won't stand," the General exclaimed. Just then there was a noticeable increased in the firing.

General Fraser and Jeffrey rode forward. Because of the smoke it was very difficult to see. They rode through the rebels' camp. Scattered about was equipment and lying sprawled on their backs, two dead rebels. Jeffrey noticed that of all the equipment left behind, there were not any muskets. Even the two dead men were unarmed. He remembered from the fighting in Germany, many soldiers who were surprised dropped their weapons when they ran. These rebels didn't.

An aide saluted. "Major Jackson's compliments. The men have crossed a small stream and have halted at the base of the hill. The rebels seemed to have formed a line at the top. He awaits your orders."

"Just a rear guard. Tell Major Jackson to fix bayonets and drive those fellows off. Give them a little cold steel."

Jeffrey followed the aide as he rode off. He found a spot where his view was not clouded by the smoke. He saw the British line extended off to his right and left, Jackson's 24th in the center. He heard the orders given to 'Fix bayonets' and what seemed like an electric thrill went through him. How could those rebels stand against that determined red line? He spotted Lucien standing front and center of the line. Jeffrey rode over to the rear of line where he caught Lucien's eye. Standing in his stirrups, Jeffrey doffed his hat in salute. Lucien returned the salute.

Jackson turned to the front and barked out the command, "Battalion, at the half step, March!" The drums and files burst forth in a crash as the entire line moved forward. Jeffrey rode forward with the line, his adrenalin flowing and heart pounding.

As the only mounted officer in the advance, Jeffrey was a natural target. A bullet struck the epaulet on his shoulder, ripping it off and he felt another one pluck at his coat. He didn't care. His blood was up.

"Major Tremaine, sir!" A young officer had ridden up to him. "Major, the General wants you." At that moment the young man reeled in his saddle. Jeffrey reached out and grabbed him before he fell.

"Sir?"

"You are all right," Jeffrey reassured the officer. Even as he said it the blood began to spread on the man's thigh.

Jeffrey escorted the wounded man to the rear, turning him over to a surgeon's assistant. He then rode over to General Fraser.

"Can't afford to lose you, Major. Might need you yet."

"Sir, look!" one of his aide exclaimed. He pointed to the hill. The British line that seemed so invincible was breaking and streaming to the rear. A few rebels were pursuing them.

"Damn! Stop them!" Fraser turned to Jeffrey. "Major, find those damn Germans and tell them to form on my left. Now!"

Jeffrey saluted and quickly rode off in search of the Baron.

He heard them before he saw them. With Baron Riedesel at its head, the German column was marching up the road. Their drums echoed from the surrounding hills as the men sang out the Lutheran hymn, 'Ein Feste Berg'.

"My compliments, Baron. General Fraser request that you form on his left and drive those rebels off."

The Baron turned to Colonel Breymann. "Oberst, bilden Sie sich ihre Männer und voraus." He then turned to Jeffrey. "Lead on, Major."

Jeffrey brought up the grenadiers quickly. As they broke out of woods, he could see the British line reforming and preparing to advance. He rode over to the junction of the two lines and waited. It wasn't long before the command rang out, 'Forward!'. The British line burst out with a mighty 'Huzza!' and the Germans began to sing another hymn. Jeffrey was caught up in the excitement and spurred his horse onward. The bright red British infantry and blue-coated German grenadiers marched steadily up the hill, now in grim silence.

The German advance caught the rebels' right in a poor position and crashed into it. They halted to fire one disciplined volley and then rushed forward. The sight and fury of their attack caused the rebel to waver and then break. The men hopped the low rock wall and pitch into the confused mass.

Jeffrey's horse jumped the wall and rode into the crowd of men. "Drop your weapons, you damn rebels!" he shouted. "Surrender!"

Bullets whizzed by him, holing his coat or narrowing missing him. He didn't notice. "Come on, lads!" he yelled as he spurred his horse into the melee. He slashed down, hitting a fleeing rebel with his sword. He was fully possessed, completely overwhelmed by his blood lust.

A rebel jabbed upward with his bayonet and caught his coat. The blade cut through his waistcoat and slide along his side. Jeffrey flinched but felt no pain. He hacked at the man, feeling his blade shutter as he hit bone. The man screamed and dropped his musket. Pulling his foot from the stirrup, Jeffrey kicked the man aside.

Suddenly it became quiet as if someone had dropped a curtain on the final act. Rebels were running down the road or into the woods, pursued by some British regulars. Others had lifted their muskets, butts in the air, as a sign of surrender. The only sounds were a few ragged shots and the crying of the wounded.

Jeffrey looked around at the carnage. It was a short, vicious fight, one that sounded good in the reports. As he sat on his horse, he found Lucien seated on the stonewall. Riding over to him, he saw a sweat streaked, gunpowder coated face smile up at him. "You're either a brave man or a fool, Jeffrey," Lucien said.

"How about a brave fool. Are you alright?" He noticed the blood trickling off Lucien's hand.

"Aye, just a scratch. And you?"

Jeffrey moved his hand to his side. He looked at it. It was wet with his blood. "Just a scratch. Do you have any water?"

"Water? Here!" He handed Jeffrey a small silver flask. Jeffrey took a swig. The brandy tasted good. Returning the flask, he grabbed Lucien's hand. "You must care of yourself. I'll not be the one to write sweet Betsey about you."

"You also. I don't want to break a little German girl's heart telling her the news."

"It a deal!" Both men laughed a laugh that released all their tension.

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