tagNovels and NovellasAn Officer and a Gentleman-1777 Ch. 07

An Officer and a Gentleman-1777 Ch. 07

byjerseyblue©

Jeffrey looked himself over. He realized how lucky he was. The bayonet that rebel had thrust at him only gave him a deep scratch, not an opened wound. The wound was ugly looking but the doctor said there wasn't much chance of infection. Though it bled quite a bit, he simply cleaned it and put a clean wrapping on it. He told Jeffrey to keep it clean and wear a fresh shirt. Not much advice under these conditions.

Jeffrey had already removed the dressing and decided to keep it off. As he prepared to slip on a clean shirt, he felt Nancy's locket move against his chest. He stopped and touched it. He opened it. He looked at her face and thought for a moment.

He believed that Nancy did love him once and through his selfishness had lost her. It was over and nothing could change the fact. Beside though he tried to convince himself that he loved her also, now he wasn't as sure. He never felt for Nancy the way he now felt for Katrina. It was different when he was with her. It was different than anything he ever felt with any woman. Lucien was right. She had gotten inside him and broken down the wall he had around his heart.

Jeffrey slid the locket over his head and opened a desk drawer. As he laid it inside he noticed the note Nancy had sent with it back in England before he left. He removed it from the drawer and without opening it, he held it to the burning candle. It became fully engulfed and he dropped into a tin plate. He watched it burn.

Jeffrey had not seen Katrina since his return. He knew he need to but he hoped the Baron or one of his staff had laid to rest any fears she may had about him. He was dirty, bloody, and exhausted when he arrived in camp after the battle and he didn't want her to see him that way. Beside since the fighting ended, he hadn't a moment to himself.

Immediately General Fraser and Baron Riedesel had different ideas on what to do next. Fraser want to reorganize the men and head off in pursuit of the retreating rebels. The Baron wanted march south to find the main road and return by it to Skenesboro, where the main body of the Army should be. Each officer had valid points and Jeffrey was called upon to act as the translator, making sure there were no misunderstandings. He was also ordered by the Baron to find out exactly where the main road was.

He took two lieutenants with him, one from Fraser's staff and one from the Baron's. He wanted both sides to see for themselves. The three men rode cautiously south, expecting any moment to be fired upon. Along the road there were signs of a hurried retreat but no soldiers. After about five miles, they reached the crossroads. It was plain the rebels headed south but how far ahead they were the officers couldn't tell. They had found out the information they were told to find and rode back.

They found the Baron at the head of the column. "Well, Major?"

"Herr Baron, the intersection is about five miles ahead. The right hand road is the road to Skenesboro about 15 miles from the intersection. The rebels headed south. I believe that road goes to Fort Anne, sir."

"Any sign of the rebels, Major?"

"There is some equipment on the road but you can see that for yourself, sir. No sign of any soldiers."

"Good. Major, please ride to General Fraser and tell him we are marching to Skenesboro. I believe we can reach there by nightfall

The rebels have too much of a head start and our force is too small. Besides our wounded need tending to."

Jeffrey saluted and rode off to find General Fraser.

He found the General, seated on a rock wall, enjoying his breakfast.

"General, Baron Riedesel's compliments. He ordered me to inform you that you are expected to follow his men and turn right at the intersection. You are to take the road to Skenesboro, sir."

"Damn him!" Fraser swore in his thick Scottish accent. "Doesn't he realized we have them on the run?"

"Yes sir. The Baron said he believes we don't have enough men to be effective and the wounded need attention, sir. He wants to reach Skenesboro by night fall."

The General shook his head. "Very well, Major. You tell the Baron I will follow. Oh and Major, you did well today. Have you eaten anything today?"

Jeffrey was ravenously hungry having eaten almost nothing this morning as they broke camp this morning. "Thank you, sir. And no, sir."

Fraser turned and grabbed a plate. "Here," he said, giving it to Jeffrey. On it two freshly baked biscuits. "My cook just finished those." He handed Jeffrey a pewter cup containing hot, strong tea. "Eat up then be on your way. There is plenty of time."

He spent the entire day in the saddle. The Baron expected to know everything and Jeffrey was the officer who he expected to find out about it. Jeffrey rode up and down the column, gathering information on the wounded, the wagons, and if General Fraser's column had closed up. The Baron wanted no straggling especially from his Germans. He wanted to prove the meddle of his men.

The pace was steady as they marched about an hour then halted for ten minutes. It seemed with each halt, Jeffrey was sent to General Fraser by the Baron to find out how things fared further down the route.

One time Jeffrey was sent ahead of the column. The Baron wanted to know the condition of the road ahead and how much further it was to Skenesboro. Overall Jeffrey was exhausted by the time camp was reached.

Yet even then his day wasn't over. He was ordered to General Burgoyne's HQ to stand there as Baron Riedesel and General Fraser made their reports. He could feel the tension in the room between the two. Each believed they made the correct decision and the other was to blame for any failure. What amazed Jeffrey was Burgoyne's ability to paper over these differences and accent the good that had occurred in recent days. He had captured Fort Ticonderoga with minimum losses and delays; he had driven off the rebel force inflicting many losses and now the Army was together at Skenesboro, ready to move south. The General was in a great mood.

"I have sent a report north about our capturing Ticonderoga. It should reach London in about a month, about the same time we are in Albany to meet General Howe from New York City and Colonel St. Leger from Niagara. We will stay here a day then move south to Fort Anne then Fort Edward. Nothing will stop us. Here let me read part of it to you."

'I have the honor to inform your Lordship that the enemy were dislodged from Ticonderoga and Mount Indepepence, on the 6th instant, and were driven on the same day, beyond Skenesboro on the right, and Hubbardton on the left with the loss of 128 pieces of cannon, all their armed vessels and bateaux, the greatest part of their baggage and ammunition, provision, and military stores...'

The next day was hot and muggy yet Jeffrey awoke feeling refreshed. He was still slightly stiff from all that time in the saddle and his side ached from the wound but he had slept well. His room was located in the back of Burgoyne's HQ which was in Phillip Skene's large house. Skene was the area's largest landowner and a loyalist officer who was also a volunteer aide. It was Skene who recommended that the Army advance towards Fort Anne using the road that headed south from Skenesboro.

Jeffrey had first met Skene in Quebec and he developed an immediate distrust of the man. He had met many like him, men who seems too glib, too quick with the right answer, and slippery. By advancing south along the road, the General had changed his plans to advance by Lake George, where he knew there to be a good road. Now he had only Skene's word and Jeffrey suspected that.

The kitchen was in an unattached house so Jeffrey made his way to it. There he found strong black tea, griddlecakes, biscuits, and what taste like ham. He was so tired last night that all he wanted was sleep and now he was famished. He ate his fill and left carrying a pewter mug full of hot tea. Even on this very warm morning, it tasted good.

He desperately needed to see Katrina and so he walked the short distance to the Baron's HQ. Like Burgoyne's, it was located in one of Shene's houses. Smaller, it still was large enough to house the Baron, the baroness, their children, Katrina, and his staff. Not wanting to be detained on Army business, he headed to the rear of the house, hoping to enter through the back way and find her.

Looking into the first room, he found her. She had her back to him and was standing at a table, arraigning books for the children's lessons. She was humming a tune Jeffrey didn't recognize but most likely some Lutheran hymn. He stood quietly in the entryway and watched her.

Even in the full dress she wore, Katrina had a fine figure. Jeffrey noticed it the night of the dinner at the Acland's. That night she was dressed in a beautiful dress that truly did her figure justice, not like these everyday clothes. She was heavier than Caroline and not as tall as Nancy and her auburn hair, which fell to shoulders, added to the picture. In this heat, she had pushed the sleeves on her dress lower, showing her white and lightly freckled shoulders. Katrina tossed her head back in an effort to keep her hair from sticking to her neck. He smiled.

"Fraulien, Sie benötigen irgendeine Hilfe?"

Katrina stopped humming and visibly tighten up. "Jeffrey?"

"Yes, Katrina," he said softly.

She turned and stood staring at him for a brief moment. She then ran to him and threw her arms around him. Burying her face in his chest, she began to talk very quickly in German.

"Slow down, my dear. I can't understand you."

She stopped and looked up. Tears were running down her cheeks. She placed both hands along his face and began to kiss his lips, his cheeks, and his nose, murmuring along the time, "Meine Liebe, mein liebes, mein Liebling."

Jeffrey pulled her close and kissed on her lips. She yielded to him as she pressed against him. Never had she believed she could find the love she felt at that moment and she passionately kissed him back. They broke the kiss and held each other tight.

"Jeffrey, we heard such awful news and I was so afraid," she said not letting go.

"Didn't anyone tell you I was all right?"

"At first, no. We heard that a staff officer had been killed then a British major. There were so many rumors. It was not until the Baron returned did I know it was not you. Then he said he believed you were wounded but he believed it was not bad."

He lifted her chin. " A young staff officer, Lt. Warren was killed and Major Grant was also. I was wounded but it is just a scratch. I should have come to you when I returned but it was late and..."

"It doesn't matter. You are here now." She hugged him tightly.

Jeffrey flinched as her arms brushed his wound.

Katrina felt him tighten up. "I hurt you, your wound. Take off your coat and let me see."

"No, Katrina. It is fine."

She was already undoing his buttons. "Let me see."

Katrina helped him remove his coat and waistcoat. He lifted his shirt over his head and she gasped as she saw the wound. To him, it was a scratch but to her it was a deep, ugly reminder of war. "Mein Gott!" she said softly.

He stepped closer and held her. "It is only a scratch. The doctor says it will be fine."

She slid her hands behind his back and rested her head on his bare chest. A tingle seemed to pass through her entire body. It was the first time she had ever touched a man in this way. Her mother had tried to answer her questions about love and what it was like. Her answers were vague and seemed unhelpful at the time. She remembered one in particular. Her mother that she would know it when it came and the feeling was like no other. Katrina now knew what she meant.

She moved her hands across his back and the feeling within her grew. She lightly began to kiss his chest.

Without breaking their embrace, Jeffrey pushed her back towards a counter. He kissed her and she kissed him back, her hands moving faster. He lifted her onto the counter and she spread her legs, allowing him to stand between them. He began to kiss her neck, sending more intense feelings through her.

"Oh, Jeffrey, oh meine liebes," she sighed as she ran her hands through his hair.

He continued to kiss her, moving down her chest. He kissed the tops of soft, full breasts and her cleavage. He looked into her face. Her look told him to continue. He slid the sleeve off her shoulder and cupped one breast, forcing it clear of her chemise.

Katrina was becoming totally consumed by the feeling. It was like no other she ever felt. She wanted more. Suddenly voice crashed into her world.

"Katrina, Wo sind Sie, Mädchen?"

She heard it again. "Katrina?"

It was the Baroness!

Katrina quickly pushed Jeffrey away. "You must go. Now! Um Himmels willen gehen Sie!"

She straightened her dress and pulled up her chemise and sleeves. She hurried to the hallway. There she almost collided with the Baroness. "Excuse me, Baroness."

The baroness stepped and looked at Katrina. She appeared hot and flushed. "Are you alright, my child?" She looked over Katrina's shoulder into the room.

"It is the heat," Katrina explained.

"Yes it is very warm," the Baroness replied. "One should limit their excitement on days like today." She smiled.

"Yes, Baroness."

"I came to tell you that you needn't work with the children today. I will need you later." The Baroness headed back down the hallway.

Katrina returned to the room but he was gone.

"What had just happened?" Jeffrey thought. "Or what didn't happened?"

He had escaped from irate husbands, fathers, and even one or two brothers but never from a Baroness. It was good thing there was a back door onto the porch. He had grabbed his clothes and hurried out that way, quickly ducking around the corner, luckily unseen. He dressed then nonchalantly made his way back.

All the time he was thinking. He hadn't planned for it to happen. It wasn't supposed to be this way. It happened so fast yet so naturally. In the past he would take his women anywhere; in the bedroom, a barn, in a field, the library, it didn't matter. But now with Katrina, it very much mattered where and when. When he looked into her face, he saw complete trust in it. She was willing giving herself to him and trusting him to do the right thing. There were other women who came to him with the same look but this time his reaction was different. It confused him but he believed he knew what to do.

"Lucien, how is the arm?" Jeffrey said ducking into the tent.

"Who would believe the chances of them hitting a bone at that range?" Lucien replied.

"Is it bad then?" Jeffrey said dropping himself onto a camp chair.

"No, the doctor set it, cleaned it and said it should be good as new in about 4 weeks. How are you?"

Jeffrey looked around the tent. Lucien pointed to his desk. There Jeffrey found what he was looking for. He poured both of them a glass.

"It's a little early, even for us. What is on your mind?" Lucien asked.

"I heard they are sending you back to Ticonderoga with the wounded. They need an officer in charge." Jeffrey said taking a sip.

"Not if I have anything to say," Lucien spoke angrily.

"Take it and go. Get away from here." Jeffrey leaned forward in the chair.

"For God's sake, why?"

"This campaign has gone up the spout, Lucien. You saw the road we just marched in on and that was a good one. This new one Skene is talking about is but a wide trail. General Burgoyne is to take the whole Army, artillery, wagons, his mistress and his wine cellar, down it. It will take at least a month to move along it and he plans to be in Fort Anne in two days." Jeffrey threw his hands up and began pacing. "Go, Lucien, then go home to that sweet wife of yours. Go to her and love her before its too late." He gulped down his drink.

"Jeffrey, sit down. This isn't the real reason you're acting this way. I'm your friend, tell me." Lucien filled Jeffrey's glass.

"Alright if you must know. I have just been with Katrina at the Baron's. I met her in a back room and she look beautiful. We kissed and she offered herself to me, invited me to take her," Jeffrey said softly.

"And?"

"You know me. I've taken all kinds. Never turned one down. Old ones, young ones, fresh ones. Yet when Katrina was willing to give herself today, I hesitated."

Lucien took a drink and looked at Jeffrey in disbelief. "Why, man?"

"Oh, I want her. I want her more than I ever wanted any woman but to take her that way, in that place. It was wrong."

Lucien put down his drink and laughed loudly. It took him a few minutes to recover and then he said, " It's finally happened. Jeffrey Tremaine has found his true love and he doesn't know what to do." He laughed again. "The hunter has been trapped!"

"This isn't funny," Jeffrey pleaded. "What am I to do, Lucien?"

Lucien put his hand on Jeffrey's shoulder. "Why, marry her, of course. Do it quickly before you lose your nerve. It is not every man who gets a second chance."

After supper, Jeffrey and Katrina walked together around the camp. She had put the children to bed and he had discussed some ideas with the Baron and his staff. It was getting late but it was the first time in a while they were truly alone. They walked together just enjoying each other's company.

"Jeffrey," Katrina said softly. "Are you alright? You are very quiet. You didn't say much at supper."

"Yes, I'm alright." He put his arm around her and she moved closer.

"Is it about this morning?" she asked.

"Yes, yes it is."

"I'm so sorry," Katrina said quickly. "I have never acted like that before. I'm not like that. I never..." She tried to move away.

Jeffrey pulled her to him and kissed her. Katrina broke the kiss and looked at him. He kissed her again and this time she kissed him back.

"Oh, Katrina, I want you but not like that." He cradled her face in his hands. "I love you, more than I have ever loved anyone, meine Liebe. Please believe me."

"I love you too. I have never felt this way before but I know I do love you."

"I don't have much to offer you now. I promise all I have is yours. If you want, will you marry me?"

Katrina looked at him and paused for moment. She dreamed but never expected to find love especially not here in this wilderness. She believed she never be married unless it was arraigned by someone, a marriage of opportunity, not love. Yet right here, all her hopes and dreams were right in front of her.

"All I ask of you is you give me your heart, that is enough. Yes I will marry you." She began to cry tears of joy, tears of love.

Jeffrey kissed her gently and kissed away her tears.

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