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
"Yes, please, Aunt Amelia. Please send Nicodemus to find him for me."
It was almost dawn when Nicodemus returned with the news that he had been unable to locate the duke. Lavender stood at the window, watching the sunrise over Williamsburg, feeling as if her heart would break. How could Julian declare his love for her, and then leave before she could tell him how much she loved him? Her joy in having her baby with her was overshadowed by the knowledge of the sacrifice Julian had made when he had handed his son over to her.
"Well, I must say this looks like a happy gathering." Lavender glanced up and saw her brother advancing across the room toward her. With a happy grin, he swept her and the baby into his arms.
"Chandler!" Lavender cried, needing his strength to lean on. "I am so glad you are here."
He pulled the blanket aside and peered down at the baby with awe. "So this is my new nephew. He's mighty handsome but not very big."
Lavender laughed through her tears. "I will thank you to show the proper respect for my son. He is a marquess, you know."
He smiled at her. "I'm not impressed. You see, my twin sister is a duchess."
Her eyes became serious. "I am home to stay, Chandler."
His eyes locked with his aunt's. "One can never be sure how things will turn out, Lavender."
"Perhaps not, but I have you, Aunt Amelia, and the baby." Sadness surrounded her heart as she was reminded that Julian had no one.
In the days and weeks that ensued, Lavender heard nothing from Julian. The war was raging closer to home, and she had come to believe that Julian had returned to England. Each day her son became dearer to her, and ever night she cried herself to sleep, fearing she would never again see his father.
September 14, 1782
It was a hot afternoon as General George Washington rode his horse into Williamsburg, while crowds of people cheered and waved to him. Lafayette, who had been sick in bed with a fever, came riding at a full gallop toward his commander. Like a boy greeting his father, Lafayette threw his arms around the general's neck, while happiness danced in his eyes.
Lavender watched the tall, distinguished Washington ride by, knowing she was witnessing an historic moment. The people of Williamsburg cheered their commander, ready to follow him wherever he led. Everyone knew the war was reaching a conclusion, though no one could guess who would be the final victor. Lavender felt in her heart that whoever won, she would have lost. She loved her country, but she had also come to love the country that had given birth to the man she loved and their son.
With a heavy heart Lavender's eyes turned to Yorktown, where the most important battle of the war would soon be taking place.
The ground at Yorktown thundered beneath the hooves of the oncoming British cavalry. In the ramparts the cry came again and again to fire muskets. The noise was deafening, as America and her allies pushed the British and Hessian troops forward until their backs were against the York River, cutting them off "from escape by land or by sea. The British were trapped, and still they fought on!
The British and Americans, once proud brethren under the same flag, had now turned enemies. The British charged, regrouped, and charged again, but the Americans stubbornly held their ground. Losses on both sides were heavy. For days the dead and dying littered the ground, their lifeblood seeping onto the ground they had come to defend.
October 17, 1782
Smoke still clung to the morning air as a British drummer began to beat his drum, indicating that the British wanted to parley. When the Americans did not seem to heed the request, a British officer was seen waving a white handkerchief. At last an American officer hurried forward to meet the Englishman, tied a blindfold over his eyes, and led him back to the American lines and to George Washington, himself. The message that was handed to the general was short.
Sir, I propose a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, and that two officers may be appointed by each side, to meet at Mr. Moor's house, to settle terms for the surrender of the post at York and Gloucester.
I have the honor to be,
George Washington's face did not show the emotion he was feeling when he spoke to his aide. "Tell the messenger that we will allow two hours to discuss the surrender, and not the twenty-four hours that have been requested."
It was strangely silent that night as the star-filled heavens bore witness to a historic moment in time. Word was spreading all over Virginia. Indeed it would quickly spread across the United States. Hostilities had ceased and Cornwallis was to surrender! The war was all but over!
The British marched solemnly down the road. While the sunlight reflected off the guns and swords, they surrendered to the Americans. A haunting melody filled the air as the British fife and drum played the old English song, "The World Turned Upside Down." The words to the old nursery rhyme were most significant, since the world for the British
turned upside down. As the music echoed across the meadow, the drumbeat set a marching pace for Cornwallis’s defeated troops:
If buttercups buzzed after the bee,
If boats were on land, churches on sea,
If ponies rode men and grass ate cows,
And cats should be chased to hole by the mouse,
If the mamas sold their babies to the gypsies for half a crown;
Summer were spring and the t'other way round,
Then all the world would be turned upside down.
The English scarlet jackets mingled with the green of their Hessian counterparts. The uniforms of the French troops that stood at attention on the sidelines rivaled the changing autumn leaves. Looking ragtag in comparison, the victorious American troops stood like poor country cousins, but there was a proud tilt to their heads that lent dignity to their threadbare uniforms.
Chandler had been granted permission to escort his sister and aunt to the surrender sight so they might witness America's triumph. As Lavender stood beside her brother and Aunt Amelia, tears ran down her face. The defeat was painfully bittersweet for her, because she had come to know and love so many of the English.
The mood of the Americans was one of elation, as men, women, and children gathered to watch the surrender. Young boys hung out of branches of trees so they could see the defeated enemy. The Americans had fought long and hard for this day, and Lavender could feel the idea of freedom spreading like wildfire throughout the crowd. She could not help thinking what a proud day this would have been for her father. In spirit she felt they were all here today: the dead, the brave, the dying, even Brainard Thruston's spirit.
Chandler steered Lavender and his aunt away from the crowds so they could be cool beneath the shade of an oak tree. Lavender, hearing riders passing nearby, stared up just in time to see several high-ranking British officers ride by. Suddenly her heart caught in her throat as she saw Julian mounted on a black horse, sitting tall and proud. He had chosen to share his country's defeat and humiliation.
A sob escaped Lavender's lips when she felt his dark eyes turn to her. For a long moment they stared at each other. There was no mistaking the pleading she saw in those wonderful expressive eyes. He was silently beseeching her, as his wife, to share this moment of defeat with him.
Lavender took a hesitant step in his direction, wishing she dared to share his pain. Her heart winged its way to him as she mentally tried to reach out to him.
Julian dismounted from his prancing black steed and handed the reins to Hendrick. Lavender felt Julian tugging at her heart when he raised his arms to her in a silent plea that urged her to come to him.
"Go to him, child," her aunt whispered in her ear. Lavender looked to her brother. "Your place is with your husband today, Lavender," Chandler agreed.
Lavender no longer hesitated. Gathering up her gown, her feet seemed to fly across the distance toward her beloved. Julian took a step in Lavender's direction and scooped her into his arms, holding her so tightly that she could scarcely breathe.
His eyes searched her face, and he saw the love shining in her eyes. "I love you, I love you," he murmured, unmindful of the curious glances they were receiving from both sides.
"I love you so much, Julian," she cried. "I would have told you the night you brought the baby to me if you had not rushed away."
He took her hand and moved her away from curious onlookers. "I never thought you would love me after all the cruel things 1 have done to you." A smile lit his face as he pressed her closer to him. "I may not deserve your love, but I will accept it anyway."
She pressed her tear-wet cheek against his. "My dearest love, you are the most deserving man 1 have ever known. I love and respect you with all my heart."
He stared into her blue eyes that were swimming with tears. "You have my word that I will be the man you can honor and love." He wanted to kiss her, but too many people were watching. Instead he took her hand and turned her to face the line of scarlet-clad soldiers that marched down the road, many crying openly.
"I feared you had returned to England, Julian, and I
would never see you again." '
"No, I could not bring myself to leave. I came by the house several times but could not gather up the courage to knock on the door."-
She touched his cheek. "If you had, you would have found a very warm welcome."
He caught his breath, too overcome with emotion to speak. His eyes moved over the long line of marching English soldiers. "It would seem your America has won, Lavender," Julian said, his hand tightening on hers. She could feel his anguish for his country, and wanted to comfort him.
"Perhaps you and I could set an example for our countries to live by, Julian."
She smiled up at him, loving this tall, dark man with all her being. "I mean, if you and I can overcome our differences, I predict our two countries will one day become friends again."
"Will you bring my son and come home with me to Mannington?" He searched her face, fearing she would not consent to return to England with him.
"Yes, my love. I will go wherever you want me, Julian." She smiled. "And as for our son, he needs both his father and his mother."
His eyes moved over her face. "I wish we were alone. There are so many things I want to say to you."
"We can wait, Julian. We have the rest of our lives together."
Julian's dark eyes sparkled, and he pulled her into the crook of his arm. They both silently watched the once proud English soldiers surrender their arms. Julian felt Lavender beside him, lending him her support. "This day, with its humiliations, will pass, Julian," she said, pressing her body closer to his. "But the love I have for you will endure forever."
She saw the soft look of love he gave her and felt her heart swell with happiness. The wind rustled the leaves above their heads and brightly colored autumn leaves floated earthward. It was a time neither one of them would forget. A time when they had turned defeat into victory—the miraculous victory of loving and being loved!