Authors: Constance O'Banyon
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #18th Century, #American Revolution, #LAVENDER LIES, #Adult, #Adventure, #Action, #Jail Cell, #Brother's Disgrace, #Deceased, #Colonial Wench, #Female Spy, #Rendezvous, #Embrace, #Enchanted, #Patriotic, #Englishman, #Mission, #Temptation, #American Agent, #Colonies, #Code Name, #Swallow
Table of Contents
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To Margaret Alice Hoyle who took a five-year-old girl to her heart and home. You gave that girl a sense of belonging and instilled in her a love of God and country. You taught her that there is a never-ending supply of love, and when it is given away, that supply does not diminish. You introduced her to books and gave her a love of the written word. More than anyone, I owe you for the woman I am today, my sweet grandmother.
Gone like yesterday, disappeared with the morning
Left with just the memory of love's first soft kiss.
Give me something to cling to, something to dream on.
Leave me something to remember after you've gone.
There is no day without an end.
There is no hurt that will not mend.
There is no right without a wrong.
Can there be love, without the Swallow's song?
Virginia, December 24, 1778
It was Christmas Eve, and the chiming of the bells from Bruton Parish Church filled the air. A high moon cast its brilliant light down on the sleepy town of Williamsburg. The pine-scented chimney smoke mingled with a faint aroma of frost-filled night.
A woman draped in a full-length cape appeared from the shadows, making her way through the snow-blanketed garden, the sound of her footfall making a crisp, crunching sound. Her footsteps took her in the direction of the graceful Georgian mansion where a lone candle glowed in the window beckoning to her with a promise of warmth. In the distance, the sound of the Night Watch's call interrupted the stillness, and the young girl paused to glance toward the Duke of Gloucester Street, thinking how peaceful and serene it was at this hour of the night.
Lavender Daymond pushed aside the hood of her cape and breathed in the invigorating air while her eyes moved down the Palace Green to the Governor's Palace. The palace had housed seven royal governors, the last being the luckless Lord Dunmore, who had fled back home to England on the outbreak of the Revolution. Now, from the palace's tall, imposing cupola, numerous lanterns shone with the brilliance of diamonds emulating the Christmas star of peace.
Lavender shivered. There was neither peace in Virginia, nor in the newly formed United States of America. War with Mother England had turned shopkeepers into soldiers, and in many cases, friend against friend.
Lavender moved to the woodpile that was stacked against the white picket fence and filled her arms with the pine-scented logs. Her mind was on memories of other happier Christmases when she had lived with her mother, father, and twin brother, Chandler. Their home had been in Richmond, where her father had been a prominent lawyer. Those happy years of Lavender's childhood were gone forever because tragedy had struck when her mother died of a fever. A month after her mother's burial, Lavender had been separated from her brother. Had it been only four years ago that her father had brought her to live with Aunt Amelia in Williamsburg? Strange, it seemed like a lifetime ago.
Lavender climbed the steps to the house, her mind on the past as she carefully balanced her armload of wood so she could open the door. She moved through the entry hall and on into the parlor, noticing that the embers glowed in the hearth, giving the room a cheery atmosphere. Going down on her knees, she placed two large logs in the hearth, added several pinecones, and was soon rewarded by the festive warmth of a dancing flame. Removing her damp cloak, Lavender hung it on the coat rack to dry. She then pulled her woolen shawl about her shoulders for warmth.
She was startled when the silence was broken by the chiming of the blue-and-white porcelain mantel clock. She glanced toward the stairs, knowing she would be in for a severe scolding if her aunt Amelia discovered that she was not in her bedroom at this late hour. The kitchen cat, Dimitri, padded across the floor to rub against Lavender, purring contentedly. The girl laughingly scooped the feline into her arms, and sank down on the rug, where they both curled up beside the warming fire.
"You know you aren't supposed to be in the house. We will both be in trouble if we are discovered, Dimitri." Lavender stroked the cat, trying to shut out her loneliness by allowing her mind to drift back to the last Christmas she had spent with her family in Richmond. How happy and carefree those days had been as they had gathered around the dining-room table to eat the Christmas goose and stuff themselves with plum pudding.
Although Lavender struggled to hold on to her beautiful memories, thoughts of being deserted by her father dominated her thinking. When she had been placed in her aunt's care, she had felt abandoned and devastated; she could remember crying for days. The worst part had been the separation from her twin. She and Chandler had been closer than most brothers and sisters. They had enjoyed so many common interests and had spent long hours in each other's company, fishing, reading books, or just talking quietly about their futures.
Lavender glanced up at the mantel, knowing her aunt would not approve of the garland she had draped across the marble face chimney clock. This Christmas would be no different than the last four she had spent in her aunt Amelia's house, for her aunt was not given to what she termed, "frivolities." The holidays were to be spent in solemn prayer and meditation. Lavender would have only her memories to sustain her through the coming hours.
Suddenly Lavender's attention was drawn in the direction of the door leading out to the garden. Had someone knocked? Surely not at this late hour, and who would come to the back of the house? Perhaps it had only been the wind. She listened attentively, then heard it again. She rose to her feet and cautiously approached the window. With a sweep of her sleeve, she wiped the frost from the glass pane, but discovered she could still see nothing. She pushed the door open just a crack and found it was still snowing and the wind was blowing. Slowly she pushed the door open wider, only to have Dimitri brush past her with fur raised and growling deep in his throat. The sound of a soft moan must have frightened the cat, because he darted back into the house and disappeared from sight.
Once again a low moan could be heard from the other side of the snow-draped redbud shrub. For a fraction of a second, Lavender entertained the notion of hurrying after the cowardly Dimitri to seek the safety of the house. However, her curiosity was stronger than her fear, so she moved slowly and deliberately around the shrub, knowing that if she encountered danger, she could always flee into the house and bolt the door behind her.
A sudden gust of wind whipped up the flying snowflakes, hurling them into Lavender's face and blinding her for a moment. She blinked to clear her vision and it took only a moment to realize that the bright red stain on the snow was blood!
"Help me," a voice murmured weakly.
Lavender tripped over the prone body and almost lost her footing. Steadying herself, she hesitated only a moment before she dropped down beside the man and lifted his head. A gasp escaped her lips as she recognized the man as her own father!
"Papa, what has happened? Who has done this to you?" she asked in a bewildered voice.
"I have been shot, Lavender. Help me into the house," he wheezed in a raspy voice.
Her mind was in a frenzy as she quickly removed her shawl and placed it under his head. She was reluctant to leave him, but knew she could never get him into the house without help. She adjusted his cloak about his throat, hoping it would keep him warm until she returned. Rising, she moved quickly down the snowy path toward the carriage house where her aunt's slaves, Phoebe and her husband Jackson, were quartered.
Lavender took the wooden steps two at a time and pounded on the door. "Phoebe, help me. Wake up, let me in!"
It was Jackson who opened the door and stared at the excited girl. The look of surprise was etched on his black face as he pushed the tail of his homespun shirt into the waistband of his trousers. "What's the matter, Miss Lavender? You got trouble at the big house?"
Lavender grabbed his hand and pulled him out the door. "Come with me quickly. My father has been shot, and you must help me move him into the house."
"Lord have mercy," Jackson exclaimed. "What's this world coming to?"
"Please hurry, Jackson. I fear for his life."
Jackson was quick to react. Turning to his wife, he spoke. "You best get dressed and make it to the house, woman. I will see what I can do."
Lavender didn't wait to see if Jackson was following her. She ran back down the path and bent down at her father's side. Placing her fingers on his throat, she could feel a steady pulsebeat.
Jackson dropped down beside her and carefully examined the unconscious man. Both Lavender and Jackson saw the blood-soaked shirtfront, and they knew Samuel Daymond had been seriously wounded. Jackson was a giant of a man who was able to lift the injured man with ease. When they entered the house, Lavender ran before Jackson and grabbed a candle from the mantel to light their way upstairs.
After Jackson placed the wounded man on the bed, he removed Samuel's wet cloak and draped it over the back of a chair. Lavender pushed the slave aside and stared down at her father's ashen face. "Jackson, you had better have Phoebe wake my aunt, and then you go for Doctor Gait." Her eyes beseeched him. "Please hurry, my father has lost too much blood already."
The big man lumbered out of the room while Lavender took her father's limp hand in hers. He was unconscious, and she saw that the wound was still bleeding, and she knew instinctively that if she didn't stop the flow of blood immediately he would die. Grabbing up the white coverlet that lay across the foot of the bed, she gently draped it across her father's chest and applied pressure to the wound. She then pulled the quilt over him to keep him warm. Her father had always been such a strong, commanding figure, but now he was as helpless as a baby, and she feared for his life.
"Hold on, Papa, Doctor Gait will be here soon," she pleaded. "You have to hold on."
Slowly Samuel Daymond opened his eyes and blinked as if he were having trouble focusing them on his daughter's face. A grimace of pain furrowed his brow, and he made a futile attempt to smile. "Don't fret. I'll make it, Lavender."
"I won't allow anything to happen to you, Papa, and neither will Aunt Amelia. She will know just what to do to make you well."
Suddenly her father started choking as if he couldn't catch his breath. For a moment Lavender thought he would never be able to breathe. She helped him raise his head and felt completely helpless as fresh blood stained the coverlet she had placed on his chest. "Papa, tell me what to do," she cried. "How can I help your
Samuel caught his breath and dropped back on the pillow. "I fear I am more severely wounded than I thought. The British have done me in, Daughter."
"No, Papa, don't say that. I will not—"
There was a desperation about him as he blinked his eyes to clear them. "Listen to me, Lavender," he said, raising his hand and touching her golden hair. "There isn't much time. Lean down so I can whisper to you."
Obediently she did as she was told. Even though her father's voice was faint, there was an urgency in the tone. "In the lining of my cloak you will find important papers. It is imperative that you get them to my contact in Yorktown."
"Papa, I don't know what you are talking about. You must not talk. Save your strength."
He stared past her as if he could see something she could not see. For the moment he seemed to grow stronger right before her eyes. Patches of color stained his pale cheeks, and he gripped Lavender's hand so tightly she wanted to cry out in pain. "Don't you realize girl, that nothing matters but the war? Not my life, your life, or that of your brother is as important as defeating the British so we can become a free and independent nation." Again he was besieged with a fit of coughing and fell back. "Do you even understand what I am trying to tell you?"
"Yes, Papa," she said, noticing the desperation in his blue eyes. "I know that the English must not win this war."
"Lavender, promise me you will do exactly as I say, with no questions asked." There was a hard note to his voice, one he had often used in court. "Will you do that for me, Lavender?"
He licked his dry lips and locked eyes with her. "No buts, girl. Have I not made myself clear? Have you not understood one word I have said to you?"
She bit back the tears. Lavender had not seen her father in over two years, and now he might be dying before her eyes. Could anything be as important as one drop of his blood? Instinctively she knew that he would not rest until she consented to do whatever he was asking of her. "I will do as you say, Papa, but only if you rest now," she agreed at last.
"Will you do this for me tonight?" She noticed he was having trouble keeping his eyes open. "If you are my daughter, you will not hesitate to lift the torch of freedom, Lavender. Does not your brother serve his country? Even now he may have paid the ultimate price for freedom."
Lavender's eyes rounded, and she felt her heart stop beating. "Papa, surely you do not mean that Chandler is—"
Samuel's eyes finally filled with compassion for the young daughter he had managed to put out of his mind these last four years. "I do not know whether your twin is alive or dead, Lavender. I only know that he was with the army that was defeated by the British at Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania." Lavender saw pain in her father's eyes. "We must not give up hope, child, even though the casualties were heavy in that battle. One of the survivors reported seeing your brother fall. I have tried to find more information, but it's impossible."
Lavender shook her head unwilling to believe her beloved brother was no longer living. Wouldn't she have felt it if Chandler had died? Suddenly a burning anger inflamed her mind, and grief filled her heart. She would not hesitate to do whatever she could to defeat the enemy. Hearing footsteps hurrying down the hallway, she knew it would be Phoebe going to awaken Aunt Amelia. Lavender pushed her grief aside for the moment. There would be time enough to cry after she had fulfilled her father's wishes.
Samuel Daymond motioned his daughter closer. "In the lining of my cloak you will find documents." His voice trembled. "Take them and leave immediately for Yorktown."