tagNovels and NovellasAn Officer and a Gentleman-1777 Ch. 02

An Officer and a Gentleman-1777 Ch. 02


"Food and drink!" Jackson roared as he entered the tavern. "Up to Major Tremaine's room and be quick about." He swatted the serving girl's rump.

"Oh Major," the landlady called. "There is a young officer already up in the room. I sent him up as he said it was important." She turned and yelled, "Dotty, let's go girl. Let's not keep these young gentlemen waiting!"

Jeffrey had pushed his way pass Jackson and was bounding up the stairs, taking two at a time. The events of this morning were still reeling inside his head. He went this morning as a second to a duel and then found himself actually a key part in it. It was bad enough he let his emotions overrule his common sense but he put his life in danger over something rather worthless. To die for King and Country made perfect sense but to die for someone's foolishness was beyond him. The fact that another man died, died by his own hand right in front of him made it all the worse. He needed a drink to clear his head.

He opened the door and threw his watch coat on the bed. It was then he caught a glimpse of the red coat. He turned. "Wormsley! What the bloody hell?"

"Morning, Tremaine," he began. Before he could say more, he was sprawled across the bed.

"I could kill you with my bare hands!" Jackson yelled, grabbing him by the lapels. Jackson had heard Wormsley's voice and had shouldered his way into the room. He then punched the Captain in the face. Jackson cocked his fist once more.

"Major Jackson, control yourself," Jeffrey said. Jackson dropped Wormsley onto the bed. Jeffrey tossed his handkerchief to Wormsley. "Your lip is bleeding. Here."

"My apologizes, sir," Jackson said to Jeffrey. He turned to Wormsley. "Explain yourself and it better be good."

Wormsley sat up. "I believe I can. Our ship was prepared to sail on the first tide but we fouled our anchor on an others. Since we missed the tide we had to wait for the next one. I was given permission to come ashore but I was too late. I then came here. What happened this morning to get Jackson so riled up?"

Jackson moved closer, his fist raised. Jeffrey moved between them. "Sir Phillip Faversham is dead."

"Really?" Wormsley rose and walked to the window. "How?"

"Because you didn't show up." Jackson fairly spat out the words. "So Sir Phillip challenged Jeffrey, in your place I might add. Then at the last moment, he blew his brains out. Didn't see that coming at all."

"Good God!"

"Yes, good God," Jeffrey said. "What the bloody hell did you write in that letter? It seemed to drive him crazy."

Before Wormsley could answer, the door opened and Dotty entered carrying a tray filled with cold meats, bread, and a bottle. "Just put it down on the table," Jackson said. "And leave the bottle." Dotty remained in the doorway.

"Yes, Dotty," Jeffrey said.

"I would just like to say how happy I, we are that you have returned safe," the girl said.

"Thank you." He nodded. "That will be all. I'll call for you if I need anything."

As the door closed, Jackson exclaimed, "Good Lord, man. Don't you ever stop?"

Jeffrey just shook his head. He turned to Wormsley. "The letter, man!"

"Yes the letter," Wormsley began. "Among a certain circle, it is rumored that Lady Danbury is not shy about sharing her bed with young men. She has had multiple lovers, some at the same time. I myself among them. Her tastes are, so we say, highly erotic and she has dabbled in many things. She was usually very careful and discreet."

"So you mentioned that?"

"Yes but there is more. I said I had proof that the father of the child could be a number of men and if the dual resulted in my death, my solicitor would publish the letter."

Jackson poured a drink for each one. "That doesn't seem that bad. Sounds like a smart move on your part."

Jeffrey looked at Wormsley. "There's more, isn't there?"

Wormsley walked to the table and took a glass. "Yes, I also wrote that I had proof that the child may have been his, Sir Phillip's."

"You didn't. You fool. No wonder he acted so wild. You drove him over the edge." Jeffrey downed his drink in one swallow.

"I didn't expect him to react like this. I didn't expect any one to die. I thought it would keep blood from being spilled. You have to believe me."

Jeffrey said nothing but stared out the window.

"I beg of you. Please believe me."

It was Jackson who spoke first. "Captain Wormsley, I think you better leave now. It is for the best."

Wormsley took his hat and headed to the door. Before he left, he turned to say something but then thought better of it. He left quickly.

"Damn cheeky of him, don't you think, Jeffrey?"

Still looking out the window, Jeffrey replied, "Lucien, I think you better leave also. I have to be at General Burgoyne's and I need to pack my trunk. All that, you know."

"I understand. Friends?"

Jeffrey turned and gave his best friend a warm embrace. "We will always be friends. Take care and Godspeed."

He still could not get that awful scene out of his mind. He had seen worse on the battlefield. He had seen men torn to pieces and been spattered with brains and blood from a soldier whose head was ripped off as he gave him an order. Then why was this bothering him? He had no answer but taking another drink wasn't the solution. He needed a clear head when he met the General today.

Packing his trunk didn't help clear his mind. He had to pack everything he needed for a long campaign but he had long since understood the need to carry only what he needed. There would be no large parties in the wilderness of upper New York. He knew in his heart that wasn't his style and he had a feeling that the General was looking for something more from him. He only hoped he didn't disappoint the General.

"Do you require any help, sir?" Dotty asked standing in the doorway. "Your carriage will be here within the hour."

He stayed kneeling by his trunk adding a few things. Dotty kneeled beside him. "Here, let me fold that," she said taking a shirt from his hands. He could smell the fresh soap on her. "There. Anything else you need me to do?" The look in her eyes invited him to ask.

He rose and went to the door. Shutting it, he said, "Yes there is."

Dotty had anticipated his request. All ready she had moved to the bed and removed her blouse. Her chemise barely held her breasts and they swayed as she patted the mattress. "Come here, sir. I believe we have enough time."

Major Jeffrey Tremaine alighted from the carriage. He felt refreshed and ready to meet the General. Thank God for women like Dotty, he thought. They give so much and ask so little in return. He returned the salute of two guards at the door and entered the headquarters.

A young sallow faced lieutenant greeted him in the foyer. "May I be a service to you, Major?"

"Yes, Major Tremaine to see the General."

"Wait here, Major, I'll let the General know you're here."

As he waited, a soft call voice called him. "Major Tremaine, what a pleasure to see you."

He turned to face her. He was taken by surprise not expecting to see her. "Why Miss Caulfield, you are looking well."

General Burgoyne was married but his wife died in 1776. She was the youngest daughter of Lord Derby and when she and the General eloped without the Lord's permission, they were cut out of His Lordship's life. After the birth of a daughter who was also dead, Jeffrey's father was among those who helped reconcile the couple with the Lord.

The lady standing before him was Susan Caulfield, a popular opera singer the General had met in the theater. There were rumors that she was the General's mistress. Jeffrey could see why. Miss Caulfield was a vivacious woman who could light a room with her presents. Of middle height, she had a full figure who any man could find comfort in. Jeffrey judged her age to be close to his.

"My dear Major," she said taking his hands. "How is your father?"

"He is doing well. And yourself?"

She smiled. "Well enough. I was so sorry to hear about your mother. She was a remarkable lady. I understand your father has remarried?"

"Thank you, Miss Caulfield. Her passing was a great loss. Yes my father has remarried."

She slid her arm through his and whispered, "Please call me Susan. I don't stand all this formalities. Isn't it silly that these old men take a young wife? I guess they hoped it will make them younger. Some men are so vain."

The lieutenant returned. "The General will see you now, Major. Please follow me."

"Major, you must accompany the General and me tonight. There is a small party we have to attend and I think you would be interested in attending."

"Thank you. I am at your call." He turned to the lieutenant. "Please, lead on."

General Burgoyne was standing behind his desk, talking to one of his aides. Around him other aides moved quickly, carrying papers, and hurrying out of the room. Jeffrey stood quietly at attention waiting for the General to notice. As he stood, Jeffrey took the opportunity to look the general over.

'Gentleman Johnny' was just like Jeffrey remembered him for their time together in Boston. The two had worked together controlling the artillery during the attack on Breed's Hill. It was the General who sent Jeffrey to Lord Howe just before the final assault to tell him of the ammunition shortage. It was then that Jeffrey elected to stay with Howe and accompany the attack. He was able to witness the carnage firsthand. Jeffrey was slightly wounded in the hand and had numerous bullet holes in his coat but he was one of the first officers to mount the walls of the rebel's redoubt. Both Howe and Burgoyne commended him for his valor.

The general had just turned 55 and he was beginning to show the effect of his life style. He showed a twinkle in his eyes that gave away a man of great wit but his eyes could grow cold if angered. Never one to slow down, the General was busy making sure that his orders were given to the right people.

"Ah, Tremaine, Good to see you," the General said. "Lot of commotion in here. Come with me." He motioned for the major to follow him and they exited the room through the double doors. They walked side by side in the garden.

"I'm glad you're here, Major. You have seen the plan. Be honest, what do you think?"

Jeffrey had read the plan completely and he had made numerous notes. None was written down and he hoped he could remember them all. He cleared his voice and began.

"It is a good plan which will work if you push it. We must move fast and limit our trains. Lord Howe must be told how important his part is. He must tie down the rebel army in the Jerseys so no reinforcements can be sent north."

"Lord Germain has said he will attend to it. I cannot order Lord Howe," Burgoyne said.

"Send him a friendly letter but you can't rely on the men in the cabinet. They know nothing of time."

"Continue, Major."

"I do not know this Loyalist Major Skene but I fear he may have misled you about the road south from Skenesborough through Fort Anne to Fort Edward. No one but Skene has seen this road. We know of the road from the site of Fort William Henry to Fort Edward. It is a good one. Your plan calls for sending the artillery and trains by Lake George after we take Ticonderoga. Why not send everyone that way? Then you march on a good road all the way to Albany."

"Thank you, Major." The General stopped and turned back to look at the house. "See those men? Those are some of the finest staff officers I could find. They know how to feed and supply thousands of men. They can put my ideas into written orders. But not one of them had led men or seen men die. You have. I remember you in Portugal in '62 and on Breed's Hill. I need someone like you to be my eyes and ears. To go places a general can't go. Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"I understand you are fluent in both German and French. I want you to be my liaison with our German units under Baron Riedesel and also our natives. I'm told they will be led by someone named St Luc de la Corne or Michel de Langlade, something like that. I'm sure your French will help. I'm counting on you and I trust you. I plan to be in Montreal by May and on the Lake by the end of that month."

"General, you may count on me. I won't let you down."

Burgoyne put his hand on Jeffrey's shoulder. "I know you won't. Now find an empty room and make it yours. I've ordered the lieutenant to see to your things. Before I forget, did Miss Caulfield mention to you about the gathering tonight?"

"Why, yes, sir."

"Good, I'll expect you to ready. Good day."

Major Jeffrey Tremaine sat across from the General and Miss Caulfield as their coach wound its way through the crowded streets. The General explained that tonight was an informal final meeting with Lord North and others to discuss the plans he had submitted. Other important people would be there as well and their support was needed as well. One key person, Lord Germain wouldn't be there but that was not seen to be an obstacle. Jeffrey worried that a discussion of the plan with such a large group could lead to being leaked to certain people who would pay dearly for the information. The general had no such concerns so Jeffrey kept his mouth shut.

Miss Caulfield kept the conversation alive by talking about theater. She reminisced about the old days and how it wasn't the same. The General also discussed his new ideas for a play he was hoping to write. Having already written one, he felt it was time for a new one. He did feel that with the upcoming campaign he might have to find a collaborator to help him.

The coach stopped in front of a large well lit mansion. Music could be heard through a window that was open despite the cool early April night air. Jeffrey alighted first and helped Susan then the General down.

"Please my dear," the General said to Susan. "I won't be a moment." He turned to Jeffrey. "Major, you may be wondering why I asked you to accompany us tonight." Without waiting for an answer, he continued. "I will be talking to many important people, mingling, some say. I can't talk to everyone. I need you to talk to Sir Digby Stange. He is Germain's private secretary and is privy to all things. You might say the power behind His Lordship. I need to know what he knows and most important, get his support. Understand?"

"Yes, sir," Jeffrey replied.

"Good. Sorry to keep you waiting, dear. Let's go in."

He made his way around the first floor of the house. He was quite impressed with the number of people present. He figured between 50 to 60 and the rooms seemed to explode with color. Most of the men wore their finest coats with their hair either finely powdered or their best wigs. Beside General Burgoyne and himself, Jeffrey realized there were no other soldiers in the room. Their red coats stood out among the crowd.

Jeffrey was amazed by the ladies as each tried to outdo the other in their finery. They were of all ages and shapes as only a few wives had attended their husbands. He was also impressed with the amount of flesh some exposed to view. Some used it to show off an expensive necklace and others just to show off. He had already made eye contact with some ladies and made a mental note to talk to them later. He was still looking for Sir Digby Stange and didn't want to miss him. General Burgoyne had made it quite clear that Jeffrey needed to talk with him and he did not want to get distracted.

"Sir Digby Stange and his wife," the page announced.

Jeffrey put his wine glass down. "It's about time," he thought.

Making his way across the room, Jeffrey looked Sir Digby over. What he saw didn't impress him. Sir Digby was a short man with narrow shoulders and broad hips. His pink skin, what Jeffrey could see, hinted that the man lived in doors. He seemed to be just the type that could be the power behind the position. As he drew closer, Jeffrey was reminded of a weasel.

Having judged the man quickly, Jeffrey's eyes turned to the woman on Sir Digby's arm. She appeared to be a creature from heaven. Her blonde hair was in ringlets that framed the most beautiful face he had ever laid eyes on. Her fair skin seemed to glow and made her blue eyes and red lips stand out. Her low cut blue satin dress exposed her cleavage, a large sapphire necklace, and fitted her shape to perfection. Her beauty took his breath away. He felt he knew her from somewhere.

"Sir Digby, allow me to introduce myself," Jeffrey politely began. "My name is Major Jeffrey Tremaine, aide to General Burgoyne."

"Yes, Major. I was told the General would be here," Sir Digby said. There was an air of superiority to his voice. "I look forward to talking to him."

The woman next to him coughed. "Oh yes, excuse me. This is my wife, Lady Stange."

Jeffrey turned and faced her. He froze.

"Major," she smiled.

"Mmmy Lady," he stammered.

"So my dear, is this the Major Tremaine you have told me about?"

"Yes, the Major and I go back a long way. Isn't that true, Major?"

Jeffrey nodded.

"Excellent," Sir Digby said. "Perhaps the Major and you could talk while I go and talk to those men over there. Excuse me, Major." He left the two of them alone.

"So Jeffrey," she said slipping her arm in his. "It has been a long time. I don't recall you ever be speechless. You were always so sure of yourself."

How could he talk? This beautiful woman on his arm was Nancy Fox, niece to Charles Fox, a leading Parliament member and the only woman Jeffrey Tremaine ever loved. There was so much to say.

"Nancy, you are beautiful in that gown. The color becomes you," he began cautiously.

"Thank you. I notice you are now a major. I believe you had just become a captain when we last met. You are climbing up and now an aide to General Burgoyne. I am impressed." They moved towards the open doors and the veranda.

"Yes, and you were a young beauty who could wrap men around her finger. I see you have climbed too."

"Touché, Jeffrey. You still know how to wound. Let's not fight."

The two stood silently next to each other looking at the starry sky. The early spring night smelled of fresh grass and new flowers. "Jeffrey, do you remember a night like this long ago?" Nancy said.

"Yes, it was in your uncle's garden and it was just the two of us."

"Yes, Jeffrey. It was a night I'll always remember," Nancy sighed.

He turned to her. "We can get it back. Its not too late."

Nancy looked at in utter surprise. "Not too late? I'm married to Digby now. You missed your chance."

"You could have waited, Nan."

Nancy shook her head and backed away. "Waited for what? You! If I waited for you, I'd still be waiting. It was never the right time. First it was you're just a lieutenant with no future. Then a captain who needed to establish himself. It was never going to happen!"

Jeffrey moved closer. "I wanted to give you what you deserved. A good life not a poor Army wife. What does he give you? Money? A title? Influence?"

Nancy spoke softly but firmly. "He gives something you never gave me."

"And what's that?"

"Digby gives me all of him, 100%. When he is with me, it is me and only me he cares about. I'm the center of his life."

He grabbed her hands. "Nancy, I love you."

She pulled her hands away and turned to walk away. After a few steps, she turned back. "You only say that now because you can't have me. When you could, you never said those words. It is too late for love now, Jeffrey." She turned away.

Jeffrey moved quickly to block her path. He grabbed her shoulders. "Do you love him? Tell me."

"He loves me and that is all I need to know. Now let me go."

"Nancy, we must talk some more. Meet me in the garden later."

Sir Digby appeared in the doorway. "Is everything all right, Nancy? You seem upset."

"I'm fine, my dear," she replied.

"I'm afraid, sir," Jeffrey explained. "It was my fault. I told her about the death of my mother and it upset her. Your wife knew her very well. Please forgive me."

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