tagRomanceThe Fall of York Ch. 63-67

The Fall of York Ch. 63-67

bynicecthulhu©

The Doctor's Daughter: The Fall of York

Thank you to searchingforperfection and catbrown for their hard work in editing and all of their suggestions. I appreciate all votes and comments, and I do read all the comments.

This story is a sequel to The Doctor's Daughter. Both are set during the War of 1812. Since the death of Major General Brock in the fall of 1812, neither side has scored a decisive victory. There have been minor accomplishments for both the Americans and the British, but the War Hawks in Washington are eager for more promising actions that will validate Jefferson's boasts that the conquest of Canada is "a mere matter of marching". In the spring of 1813 Major General Henry Dearborn is ordered to lead his forces in an attack on Kingston, Ontario. He considers those orders and then attacks the town of York (later known as Toronto), instead.


63

Lawrence signed 'Major and Mrs. Orr, witnesses' into the ledger, while Abigail kept a nervous eye on the American officer who had attended the wedding in the General's place. Lawrence had suggested that the commander did not trust Jacob to show up for duty that night and his wife had agreed with his estimation.

The young minister took Jacob and Millie in hand and brought them forward to face the small crowd of attendees. He announced them as Mr. and Mrs. Wright and then gave them a blessing. The church echoed with clapping and even the American officer applauded, Lawrence noted.

The wedding party then retired outside, where some tables with refreshments had been set up. Abigail had wanted to turn the occasion into a ball and Mrs. Croyden had heartily agreed, but the bride and groom had been firm in their denial. They had explained their concern over the implication that they were happy about the most recent invasion, should the event be too celebratory.

After the food had been eaten and people were milling about chatting amiably, Lawrence approached the Yankee officer. "Sir, I am Major Lawrence Orr, retired."

The officer saluted smartly. "Captain George Adams, at your service sir. You gave the bride away? I didn't know she was your daughter; I'd been informed that she was...your maid."

"And so she is, Captain. She has no family and I thought it prudent to act in her father's place. Do you know the groom?"

The American glanced over at the laughing bride and groom. "Not at all. I think I recognize his face from the first attack on York, but I cannot be sure. Obviously, you know I was sent by the General to ensure he reports for duty."

"And what time is he obliged to do that by?"

The Yankee looked around and smiled. "I have some leeway there. Do he and the bride have a bridal suite somewhere?"

"No." Then Lawrence cursed himself for admitting as much. It would have been better to make the American think Jacob was planning or hoping to stay in town overnight.

"Well, then I suppose I could only delay until about nine o'clock tonight. You understand, I am sure Major."

"I understand. The groom and his lovely bride may not, sir."

"I won't rush the parting, sir. We're here to free you from tyranny, not make your lives worse."

"So I've been informed," replied Lawrence, in a clearly unbelieving tone that brought him a look of reproach from the American. He bowed to the officer and then returned to his wife's side.

"What news, husband," Abigail asked, very discretely.

"He's too damn nice," was the reply.

"Now, now. Remember he's the enemy."

They both smiled as the Croyden's approached. "I assume you have some plan arranged, Major?" asked Mr. Croyden, eying the American officer.

Lawrence nodded. Abigail's eyes widened. "Tell us Lawrence," she said.

He took a deep breath. "I don't want the man killed; as I've told Abigail, he's a good man just doing his duty. I think I can distract him, but I'll need help and it will mean...it will mean Abigail escorts the Wrights to meet the boatman alone."

"I'll go with your wife, sir," said My Croyden, lifting his chin.

"Thank you. You're a good friend, sir."

"Pray what else do you require?" inquired Mrs. Croyden, caught up in the conspiracy and enjoying herself immensely.

"I need someone to go to Chief Justice Powell's house and have a bottle of fine brandy brought to this minister. And I need to convince this minister to agree to inviting myself and the American officer for a drink, perhaps under the ruse of discussing what is to become of his flock while the Americans are here. Reverend Strachan has been busy elsewhere and I believe it would be natural for this younger man to show these concerns."

"I'll fetch the alcohol. I always wanted to meet the Powells," stated Mrs. Croyden, who promptly left on her quest.

"And I'll talk with the minister, Major. I've known William Bowyer since he was first sent here and I'm sure I can convince him to play along with you, especially if I point out that you are friendly with Reverend Strachan. Do you want him there with the two of you and drinking as well?" asked Mr. Croyden.

"He can drink as he likes if he can hold himself steady, but I plan to let the American enjoy most of the brandy or at least enough to dim his faculties. You can ask the minister to turn the topic to the military rule of Brock, Sheaffe and our current Major General after the drinks have been poured," suggested Lawrence.

Mr. Croyden winked at Lawrence and then left.

Lawrence and Abigail mingled with the party-goers, but kept a careful eye on the conspirators. Mrs. Croyden returned with a nod and a happy smile and then met up with her husband and the minister. Soon enough, the minister seemed to steel his nerve and then strode towards Lawrence. Abigail tugged on her husband's arm so that they would encounter the American officer a few seconds before the minister reached them.

"Captain Adams, I don't believe you met my wife. Abigail, this is Captain Adams."

The officer bowed low. "A pleasure to meet you, ma'am. Are you enjoying the wedding reception?"

"Oh, yes, but then I organized most of it. Are you enjoying yourself, Captain? You seem to be isolated at the end of this table during this most happy of occasions. You do realize that it is one of your countrymen who is marrying a daughter of Upper Canada, do you not sir?" Abigail seemed all innocence and ignorance.

"Why Abigail!" said Lawrence. "Surely I told you that the Captain was here to ensure that Jacob does not go truant tonight?"

"Oh, yes! Silly of me to forget. But Captain, surely in your nation a newly married couple is allowed some time alone on their wedding night?" She leaned forward. "You know that is the custom among us British citizens." Abigail blushed and glanced at her husband.

Lawrence watched as the Captain also blushed and he marvelled at his wife's ability to appear embarrassed at will. Yet again, he was left wondering how he had ever been so lucky to find such a wonderful woman.

"Major!" called out the minister as he joined their small group.

"Retired Major, reverend. We don't want this Captain capturing my husband and whisking him away to some dank prison," reminded Abigail.

"Oh, correct." The minister looked from Lawrence to Abigail and seemed to lose his nerve. Then he looked at the American and regained it. "Major Orr, I had a bottle of brandy in my office that we could open and then have a toast to the happy couple."

"Oh, dear!" said Abigail. "I'm sure that Jacob cannot drink, being a soldier on duty and all. It would be cruel to have brandy in front of him."

"Well, actually ma'am, I was thinking that the Major and this American officer would enjoy a glass while we discussed various things," the minister said airily. "I am curious about whether I should hold a church service tomorrow or whether the Americans will put a stop to it or replace our church with one of their own liberal religions."

"I don't think that would be such a good idea, sir." The Captain was unemotional and Lawrence wondered if perhaps the man made a habit of abstaining from alcohol.

"There are some questions I also would like to put to you, man to man. And a wedding would not be the proper atmosphere, Captain." Lawrence forced his face to remain unemotional.

The Captain looked about at the various people on the church lawn. Everything looked simple and innocent. Lawrence could see him wavering and gave a nod at Abigail.

"Lawrence, I'm not sure if I like the idea of you drinking in the late afternoon. You know how spirits affect you. Reverend, you are not to give him more than half a glass of this brandy."

"Yes, ma'am."

Lawrence turned toward the church and then looked back over his shoulder. "Are you coming with us, Captain?"

"Yes, just for a short time."

64

The minister kept himself to a single half-glass of the potent liquid. Lawrence downed three glasses and was feeling somewhat relaxed. He made himself seem even more relaxed and loquacious. The Captain matched Lawrence drink for drink. While he also seemed relaxed, Lawrence noted the careful attention the man paid to everything that he said.

"And what are your opinions of the new Major General, sir," the Captain asked while looking Lawrence in the face.

"Oh, a fine man and a good officer. He has the bravery of Sheaffe and the officiousness of Brock. Or is it the other way around? Of course, he's no Hull," and at that point Lawrence knew he had said too much.

The American went very serious. "I thank you for the brandy gentlemen, but I really must be keeping an eye on the groom." He stood and stared at his two companions.

The minister looked frightened and looked to Lawrence. Lawrence yawned. "Yes, I suppose you are correct, sir. Let us go back outside."

The three men went out of the church and on to the lawn where they saw a few men and women moving the tables to the side of the building for later storage. Most of the guests had left and the bride and groom were nowhere to be seen. Mrs. Croyden walked toward them calmly.

"Ma'am, will you be so kind as to inform me as to where the groom has gone?" asked Captain Adams.

"Why of course, sir. But I hope you won't disturb them; the poor man has been called back to duty so any time he can spend with his new bride right now is a blessing. They went in to town, with my husband and Mrs. Orr."

The Captain breathed a sigh of relief. The minister excused himself and went to oversee the stowing of the tables and chairs. Mrs. Croyden excused herself and went in to the church for some purpose unknown to the two men.

"Oh, look," said Lawrence, "there's Abigail and Mr. Croyden approaching now." He pointed to the main part of town, where two figures were seen approaching. They waited until the two were close enough for conversation before calling out to them.

"Mrs. Orr?" asked the American officer. "Where is Jacob Wright?"

Abigail took on an innocent expression. "Why, in town. Where else would he be with his new wife?" Mr. Croyden took his leave and went into the church.

"Where in town?" asked the Captain with some impatience.

"Why, I am sure that I don't know. They do need their privacy." She winked at the two men.

The American glowered at her and then stormed off.

The Orrs watched him disappear amongst the buildings in town and then briefly reappear as he headed in the direction of the American soldiers standing guard on shore. "Everything went as planned, my love. Mr. Lafleur was waiting at the ruins of the French fort exactly as he told you he would. Their bags were already in his boat and Mr. Croyden I and saw them safely off on to the lake."

"I'm glad you had the presence of mind to approach the church from town and not from the west. They'll spend some time searching York for them and then give up. So that's it, then. That's the last we see of Millie. She was with us for such a short time, but in some ways it seemed like she was with us for such a long time."

"I know, Lawrence," she leaned against him.

"The house is going to seem emptier without her, my love." He put an arm around her as the wind picked up.

"You will be around a lot more than you have been. And we won't be alone for long." He gave her a questioning glance. "Yes, I'm sure now."

65

"The wind's getting worse!" called out Mr. Lafleur. "I don't like it. We'd better head back."

Millie and Jacob stared at the grizzled French mariner. His little craft bucked and jumped in what was fast becoming the stormy waters of Lake Ontario.

"We cannot go back! Is it really that dangerous to go on?" asked Jacob.

The Frenchman shrugged. "Perhaps. I thought that you being newly married and all, that you'd want to play it safe with your bride. She seems like such a delicate girl."

Millie's eyes opened wide at his statement. She had seen Lafleur about town all of her life and he had doubtless seen her, but he didn't realize that the hungry girl begging for scraps was this same young woman in a wedding dress. "I can stand it."

The Frenchman shrugged again. "We have to make a decision soon. See those dark clouds!" They followed his pointing finger and stared north and west into an inverted, bubbling blackness. "When they get closer my only choice will be to run in front of the storm."

"I have money!" shouted Millie. The Frenchman and Jacob both stared at her in surprise. She pulled the notes from the baggage. "Will one hundred pounds get us across the lake?"

Jacob grabbed her arm. "Where did you get that from? I cannot believe that you stole it."

"Mr and Mrs. Orr gave it to me as my dowry. I'll give it all away if it means keeping you from being captured by the Yankees!"

"Wait a minute there, young lady. You're worried about the Americans capturing your groom?" Millie nodded. "Keep your money! I'll get you across, but why do you want to be dropped off on the American side?"

Millie and Jacob quickly recited their tale and the Frenchman's eyes grew wider and wider. At the end he simply nodded and then concentrated on sailing his small craft. Millie and Jacob huddled together as the rain began to fall in sheets around them.

An hour later, Lafleur was cursing in a mix of English and French as he battled to keep the small bateau from getting swamped. Millie and Jacob were sitting on either side of the boat, with their arms stretched across so they could keep holding hands. Rain pelted down upon them from different directions and both were repeatedly surprised when rain appeared to 'fall' upward from the waves.

The craft bucked and danced under the black sky and all three souls kept a tight grip wherever they could, for fear of being thrown out. A wave of obsidian green suddenly rose up beside them. Millie and Jacob heard the boatman scream, "Tabernac!" and then the wave smashed into Millie's side and washed across the boat.

Jacob opened his mouth to cry out for Millie and it filled with lake water. Something heavy struck him below the surface and he grabbed at it and pulled it up beside him, not knowing whether it was his new wife or a large fish. Millie dropped her head on his shoulder and spit out a mouthful of water.

The Frenchman shouted something at the two of them and Jacob shook his head angrily, wishing the man would speak English. Lafleur urgently pointed at a wooden box at the bottom of the boat. Jacob, with Millie huddled against him and unwilling to release her hold upon him, opened the latch and lifted the lid. There were various supplies, but he assumed the boatman wanted him and Millie to use the buckets to bail out the water. He handed one to his bride. She took a serious look at his face and then began to throw water over the side. Jacob did the same.

Just as they emptied much of the water, another wave crashed across the boat and Jacob felt himself sliding over the side. Hands grabbed his leg and belt and kept him from disappearing beneath the waves. He was obliged to use his own strength to lift himself back completely into the boat.

He turned to thank the Frenchman and found to his surprise that the man was still at the tiller. Millie stared at Jacob with a mixed look of terror and relief.

"Be more careful!" she commanded. Jacob nodded in response and then looked about futilely for his bucket. "It's gone!" he heard Millie say.

"Along with all of our belongings!" he added.

"You're still here!" said Millie, grabbing his arm. He gave her a madman's grin as lightning flashed brightly directly above them. They narrowed their eyes to slits as an enormous explosion sounded all around.

"Merde!" swore the Frenchman.

Jacob looked to where the boatmen pointed and saw a massive round wave looming almost directly before them. Jacob wondered how such a thing could exist in the middle of this enormous lake.

"It's a rock! Are we close to shore?" asked Millie, turning to Lafleur. He shrugged in response. "Where are we, Lafleur?" Millie demanded.

"Mon Dieu!" replied the boatman. Then he shook his head and pressed against the tiller with all his might, trying to turn the boat away from the very rock the wind was driving them towards. "Only God knows, mademoiselle!"

The boat rose up on its stern, nearly perpendicular to the water, and then it exploded. Boards and splinters flew everywhere. Jacob was thrown up and he looked down and wondered if he would land directly on the top of the rock. Then he saw Lafleur slip below the water and Millie thrown off to his right, into the unforgiving waves. Jacob began to fall. His feet kicked him away from the side of the rock and in the direction he had last seen Millie.

Jacob plunged deep, feeling with his outstretched hands for any sign of his bride, and then rose to the surface. He looked about in the blackness and called out for Millie, but the howling wind drowned out any reply. He took a deep breath to dive and look for her again, when a hand grabbed his shoulder. He whirled about and saw the Frenchman.

"Millie's skirts will drag her down!" he called out desperately. Lafleur shook his head and pointed behind Jacob, to the rock that had smashed the bateau to pieces. A wave swept them up and then they dropped into a trough. As the water lowered around the rock, Jacob spied Millie clutching to it.

He and the Frenchman swam for her. Upon reaching her they pried her hands from where she gripped the rock tightly and then supported her weight between them, keeping her head above the surface.

"We'll have to swim to shore, Lafleur. Which way is it?" The Frenchman stared at him in amazement. "Fine! We go this way then!" Jacob said, fighting his way through the water and around the rock in the hope that the shore lay close behind.

The two men struggled against the waves and wind, but made some headway. When Jacob glanced at Lafleur he could see the other man was as exhausted as he was. Millie opened her eyes and looked at the two of them.

A strange moment of calm seemed to occur around them. "Jacob. You and Lafleur should leave me and save yourselves." He heard her voice clearly though she did not raise it.

"Never!"

"No, mademoiselle. What kind of men would we be?"

They swam on.

66

It could have been minutes or hours later that a large wave washed them on to a sandy shore peppered with hand-sized stones. Jacob and Lafleur crawled further up onto the land, dragging Millie along between them until at last none of them could go any further.

Millie reached out and took Jacob's hand in hers. Then all three slept, with the waves splashing up to their ankles but no further.

Millie awoke first and found the world still dark, but strangely quiet. She squeezed Jacob's hand and then rolled over and kissed him on his forehead. His skin was warm. She sat up and put her hand on Lafleur's cheek and found he was alive, as well.

She looked about, noting that the storm had ended and the sky had cleared somewhat. The moonlight revealed they were well removed from the surf. She looked east and then west, seeing bits of debris from the bateau, but no evidence that any of their belongings had washed up onto shore. She had lived with nothing before and survived, so she was not greatly frightened by the prospect of finding herself without possessions on the shores of Lake Ontario.

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