You've read your histoyr books about the civil war, now see it threw the eyes of the Richardson Family, See what happens when a young girl loses nearly everything. And a father finds that his little girl isnt so little any more.
Categories: Backstreet Boys Characters:
Alternate Universe, DramaWarnings:
Violence, Sexual Content
1. Chapter 1 by AJsSweety
2. Chapter 2 by AJsSweety
3. Chapter 3 by AJsSweety
4. Chapter 4 by AJsSweety
5. Chapter 5 by AJsSweety
6. Chapter 6 by AJsSweety
7. Chapter 7 by AJsSweety
8. Chapter 8 by AJsSweety
9. Chapter 9 by AJsSweety
10. Chapter 10 by AJsSweety
11. Chapter 11 by AJsSweety
12. Chapter 12 by AJsSweety
13. Chapter 13 by AJsSweety
14. Chapter 14 by AJsSweety
15. Chapter 15 by AJsSweety
16. Chapter 16 by AJsSweety
By Vicki © 2004
It had been nearly two years since his death and she never understood why she returned there but now there she was in front of a grave with a small angel on it; she looked at the inscription
She missed him dearly; it was a crushing blow to her when she had received word from his family that he had been killed. His mother had sent over some of his things to her to have since she knew that they two where to be married shortly after his return. She looked to see her father walking towards her. The only thing that reminded them of the war was the cane he used to walk with, his only injury during the war.
She let her father lead her to the grave that was marked
BELOVED WIFE and MOTHER
" Do you think she's at peace?"
" Yes Isabelle I do." Kevin said touching his daughter’s cheek wiping away a stray tear.
“ It’s good then.”
“ Yes it is. Come let’s go home.” Kevin said leading his daughter back to the buggy. Kevin helped Isabelle into the buggy and then climbed in behind her. He urged the horses on and drove them back to their home. He wasn’t sure if he could even call it home anymore. Most of the land had been burned during the war and the house nearly distroyed. He cast a side glance at his daughter and could nearly recall the war……..
Kevin walked threw the fields of his large plantation, oddly for something so large he didn’t have many servants dealing with the harvest, just a select few he had kept cause they were close to his daughter. She had grown to like the slaves that worked on the plantation grew up with many of them. He smiled as he saw Isabelle come running from the house as her beau James followed closely behind.
“ FATHER!” She shouted as she got closer. Kevin turned and scooped her smaller form up into his arms.
“ What?” He asked trying to stifle a laugh.
“ James asked me to marry him.” She said with a huge smile.
“ I heard, James and I spoke this morning.” Kevin said kissing her cheek.
“ Really now?” Isabelle said with a sly grin as her father set her down. James smiled and pulled her small figure into his arms.
“ Yes it’s proper for me to ask your father for your hand before I do so.” He said with a smile. Isabelle pulled him close and kissed him sweetly.
“ I love you.” Isabelle said quietly as she pulled out of his arms and ran towards the large house. Kevin shook his head and laughed. Some days he wondered if his daughter was 18 or not.
“ Hello Ethan” Kevin said looking at the young boy that stopped in front of him.
“ Hello Master Kevin.” He said with a smile. Kevin ruffled the young boy’s hair and then headed towards the house. Ethan watched Kevin disappear into the large house before he tore off to play.
Kevin walked into the large house and smiled. He could hear his daughter giggling and knew she was happy. It was a brisk summer evening and he wanted to see if his wife was feeling up to venturing out for an evening ride. He walked up the stairs and stopped at the door. He slowly opened it and looked inside.
“ Kris.” He said walking into the room. Kristin looked up at him and smiled, she didn’t look as pale this time.
“ Yes dear?” She said looking at him.
“ Would you feel up to joining me for a night ride?” He asked sitting on the edge of the bed. He knew that she was ill and some days she felt better than others did, but he had hoped he hadn’t lost her yet.
“ I do feel all right today. I would like that.” Kristin said holding her arms out to him. Kevin scooped her small body into his arms. He remembered when she had been able to walk on her own, but this sickness had robbed her of that. He looked towards the picture that hung on the mantle above the fireplace. A recent picture painted to remember their happy family. Kristin was seated with Kevin standing directly behind her and Isabelle seated to her left. They looked so happy, but he knew that soon they wouldn’t be happy. Kevin walked outside and placed Kristin into the buggy and placed the small blanket over her legs. He then climbed into the buggy next to her and urged the horses on.
They had rode for nearly an hour. Kevin looked down at Kristin and had noticed she had lay her head against his shoulder and her eyes where closed. He smiled, thinking the ride had been good for her and that she was just tired. He turned the buggy around and headed back for his home. He could see fire out in the far fields and had been told that the war had started and had hopped it would stay away from his home. Urging the horses on further to find out what was going on he found that his field was on fire.
“ Damn it.” Kevin said pulling the horses to a stop and jumping from the buggy, he hadn’t even bothered to check on his wife as he dove in to the field following several of the workers. The fire was contained to a small area of the field but he was still angry that anyone had dared to start the field on fire. James stood covered in soot looking at Kevin.
“ I am not sure what happened I saw the fire from the porch.” He said looking at him.
“ I saw it on my way back from a ride with my wife. Where is Isabelle?” Kevin asked looking around.
“ I made her stay at the house.” James said.
“ Alone?” Kevin said looking towards the house.
“ Yeah. Well Martha was with her.”
“ We are at war. Yankees are here don’t leave her alone for a second.”
“ Mr. Richardson she’s fine I can see her from here.” James said calmly. He pointed towards the house and there stood Isabelle and Martha. Kevin nodded and turned towards the buggy. He had a feeling in the pit of his stomach something was wrong. He ran towards it with James hot on his heals wonder what was wrong.
“ Kris.” Kevin said touching his wife’s face. She was cold to the touch.
“ NO! Damn it NO!” Kevin said pulling her limp form into his arms. He touched her face and moved her hair, she had looked better when they had left the house but now she was gone. He could see she wasn’t breathing, maybe this is what she wanted, one last night out with him. Kevin held her close as tears slipped down his cheeks.
“ Isabelle.” Kevin said looking at James. “ Don’t let her come down here.”
“ I wont. I am so sorry about your loss.” James said as he tore off towards the house. Isabelle saw her father standing near the buggy and wondered what was going on as she had started walking towards him. James met her half way.
“ No.” James said guiding her back towards the house. Isabelle looked over her shoulder towards her father.
“ What’s going on?”
“ Nothing.” James lied.
Kevin sat there on the ground holding his dead wife close to his body. It had been well over an hour since he had discovered she had passed. George had long since sent one of the stable hands to fetch the doctor but by now there was nothing the doctor could do for his master’s wife. Kevin looked up with tears in his eyes as the undertaker pulled up in his dark buggy.
“ Kevin, she’s gone.” The doctor told him. Kevin refused to release his hold on his wife.
“ Kevin, its time.” The undertaker said sadly reaching down for Kristin’s prone form.
“ She can’t be gone.” Kevin said sadly.
“ I’m sorry but she is.” The doctor said as he finally got Kevin to release his hold on his wife. The undertaker took Kristin and placed her into the buggy. He would have her ready for the funeral that would follow that day.
“ Kevin, you must be strong. Someone must tell Isabelle her mother is gone.”
“ Thank you Henry.” Kevin said looking at the doctor.
“ Kevin we are friends. You know that if there had been anything I could have done I would have. But she was already gone.”
“ I know. I must tell my daughter her mother has left us.” Kevin said walking mindlessly back towards the house.
“ George take the horses back to the stable and put away the buggy.” Henry said looking at the older black man.
“ Yes sir.” George said leading the horses back to the stable. Henry watched his friend walk back into his large home as he decided he best follow unsure of how Isabelle would react to the news of her mothers death.
“ NO!” Isabelle cried as he entered the foyer. She looked wide-eyed at Henry as he entered the house.
“ Why? Why couldn’t you save her?” She shouted.
“ There was nothing that could be done your mother knew she was dying and knew her time was coming soon. Miss Isabelle calm down.” Henry said raising his hands trying to calm Isabelle. Isabelle collapsed in tears in James’s arms as he held her close. Kevin watched his daughter and knew that she would understand someday, maybe even he would understand why someday why a merciful god would take his love away. Kevin wiped a stray tear away from his face and placed his hands on Isabelle’s shoulders.
“ Shush now, she’s in a better place.” Kevin said trying to convince her that everything was all right.
“ I want her here. I wanted her here for my wedding.” Isabelle sobbed. Kevin took his daughter from James and held her close.
“ I know. But I will be there and she’ll be watching from heaven.” He said.
“ It’s not the same.” Isabelle sobbed she was inconsolable as she finally broke from Kevin’s grasp and ran up the stairs and slamming her bedroom door.
It would be nearly two days before Kevin could coax his daughter from her room. The same sparkle that had once been in her blue eyes as gone, she looked sad and lonely. And it was only going to get worse. Earlier that morning James had arrived with sad news. Telling Isabelle that their wedding would be on hold until his return from the war nearly broke her heart. She cried more than she had when she was told of her mother’s death. Jame’s left the house knowing he would not return for a long time. Kevin finally convinced Isabelle that a nice walk in the fall air would do her some good. He promised he would walk with her and held her hand as they walked the plantation finally coming to the family plot where they stood silently.
“ She would have loved to have known you were going to be here.” Kevin said placing his hands on her shoulders. Isabelle looked at her mother’s fresh grave and let out a small sob.
“ I know, I just couldn’t.”
“ I know and she understands. Always remember she’s in your heart.” Kevin said holding her close. Isabelle cried against his chest knowing she’d never see her mother again. Kevin led her back towards the house and looked as he noticed soldiers standing on his porch.
“ Come. How about you rest and I’ll come check on you later.” Kevin said kissing her cheek.
“ All right father.” Isabelle said heading into the house never paying the soldiers any mind. Kevin stopped on the porch and faced the soldiers.
“ May I help you gentlemen?” Kevin asked politely.
“ Yes you may sir. We are here to inform you you’ve been drafted into the confederate states army.”
“ How so? I am not a young man anymore?” Kevin asked looking at them.
“ We need good soldiers like you ready to lead young men into battle.”
“ My daughter just lost her mother and now her fiancee has gone to war, I fear she can not handle another loss.”
“ I fear kind sir you have no choice.” The officer said looking at Kevin. He handed him the paper and waited.
“ Damn it. All right let me speak to my daughter alone. Return in two hours I shall be ready.” Kevin said sighing. He knew this was going to be hard. Isabelle would not take this news well, he waited till the soldiers where off his porch and gone and then he headed inside.
“ Martha fetch me some tea for Isabelle and the medicine the doctor said for her to rest with.”
“ Yes Master Kevin.” She said disappearing into the kitchen. Kevin sighed and sat down on the steps, he would wait for the tea and the medicine he knew he’d need both to tell his daughter of his impending departure. Martha returned a while later holding the tray that held the steaming tea and the vial of medicine.
“ Remember only give her two drops in her tea, any more you could kill her.” Martha said remembering what the doctor had said.
“ I know. Martha, she will be the woman of the house. I’ve been called to duty.”
“ Please take care of her help her as best you can.”
“ Yes master. I will tell the others.” Martha said as she handed him the tray and then left the room. Kevin sighed and headed up the stairs to his daughter’s room. He lightly knocked on the door and then slowly opened it.
“ I saw the soldiers father.” Isabelle said her eyes red and puffy from crying.
“ I am sorry.” Kevin said hoping he had better news to tell her.
“ They’ve called you?”
“ Yes. I am ordered to report with in the next few days. The fort is two days ride. I must leave today.”
“ I know. But promise me father. You will return?”
“ I don’t wish to promise something I might not be able to keep.” Kevin said looking at her.
“ Please you’re my only family.”
“ I have sent word to Brian and he should be here with in two days.”
“ Father, Brian doesn’t need to come here.”
“ He does need to come here. I would have asked my brothers but they are serving in the war as well. Brian has been an ill child and was unable to serve. Please allow me this one comfort.”
“ Yes father. Will Brian be coming alone?”
“ Brian is coming from the seminary so I would think he’s coming alone.”
“ You never told me Brian was a priest.”
“ I never felt the need. Please allow me this?”
“ All right. I will miss you father.” She said as tears formed in her eyes. Kevin kissed her forehead and handed her the tea he had ready.
“ Drink up. Martha will wake you in a few hours for supper. Be strong for me.”
“ I will try father.” Isabelle said hugging him close. Kevin could feel Isabelle’s wet tears soaking his shirt, held her until she finally drifted off to sleep. He lay her back on her pillow and kissed her forehead again. He blew out the candle and pulled the door closed. Kevin sighed and went to retrieve what he needed and headed down the stairs. The two soldiers from before where standing in his foyer next to Martha.
“ I am ready.” Kevin said following them from the room. Martha had already had Lukas ready Kevin’s best stallion for the journey. Martha watched Kevin mount the horse and then ride away from the plantation without a word.
It was early in the morning on what Isabelle thought to be a never-ending cycle of lonely days. Brian had arrived safely two days after her father’s departure. Isabelle spent most days alone in her room staring out the window.
“ Isabelle come to church with me.” Brian insisted as he knocked on her door. Isabelle had rarely left her room only for bathing eating and other natural dealings. She left the plantation to running for Brian. Isabelle finally opened the door after Brian had been knocking on it for nearly an hour. She was dressed in her Sunday best, her hair pulled up and away from her face, she looked beautiful.
“ Come then.” Isabelle said, Brian was nicely surprised it had been the first word she had spoken in the nearly three months he had been there. Brian smiled and shook his head as he followed his young cousin from her home.
Brian watched as Isabelle found her seat at the back of the church. He sat down next to her as the people began to notice she was there.
“ Isabelle Richardson. I am so sorry about your mother dear.”
“ Thank you Mrs. Hanson.” She said smiling at the older woman.
“ If you ever need anything my dear, just send George over and we will be there.” She said hugging Isabelle. Isabelle smiled sweetly and nodded at the older woman.
“ I will thank you.” She said sitting back down. Brian smiled and placed his hand on her shoulder.
“ Everyone cares.”
“ More than you ever know.” Isabelle said smiling. Her mother’s family sat in the front of the church and to Isabelle’s surprise so did her grandmother. Brian placed his hand on her shoulder as the service began.
Kevin stood in the darkened woods waiting, the unit he was with had been placed deep in a wooded area of Georgia.
“ Captain Richardson.”
“ Yes Lietenit.”
“ Yankees have been sited near the boarder.”
“ Have your regiment ready.” Kevin said looking around. He could hear the crunching of the leaves under the feet of the soldiers. He looked at the soldiers that he commanded and shook his head they couldn’t even be called men most where just boys. He had been gone from his home for nearly a year and had buried so many young men from both sides that he wondered if he’d actually make it home to his daughter. He had been writing things down on some paper he kept in his pocket, he felt, if he did this even if he was killed his daughter would still understand that he did this for her and for their way of life. He had been sent word that the battalion that James was in had been hit with heavy gunfire and half or more had been killed.
October 25th 1862
My sweet Isabelle,
I know that we’ve been apart for nearly a year. I hope that you and Brian are keeping things going. I miss you and your mother. I know that your mother has been dead for nearly a year but I still hold her deep in my heart and she helps me carry on so I can get back to you.
All my love your father
He found the young messenger that had been making his way threw the fields of troops.
“ Make sure my daughter gets this.” Kevin said looking at the young man.
“ Yes sir.” The boy said placing the envelope into his pack. Many of the young men had been trying to get messages home to their families letting them know they where alive and well. Kevin watched the boy make his way out of the field and hurry on his way. He wondered if the message would actually make it to Isabelle or would the boy die before he got that far. His fears where warranted as gunfire started again.
Isabelle sat on the porch of her home when she heard shouting. She looked towards the fields and saw that they where on fire.
“ Brian.” Isabelle cried getting her cousin’s attention. Brian came from the house and looked out at the field.
“ The soldiers have set the fields on fire. They are here.” She said looking at him.
“ Back into the house Isabelle.” Brian said seeing the distinct blue coats coming into view. Brian remained calm as the soldiers came to a stop in front of the house.
“ May I help you sirs?” Brian asked.
“ Father you live on this plantation?” The soldier asked.
“ I tend to the plantation while my family fights in the war.” Brian answered simply.
“ Your family has you tend a plantation of slaves?”
“ Free slaves if you mind. My cousin set them free before leaving for the war. They chose to stay here as most have been with the family since my cousin’s daughter was but a baby.” Brian said.
“ So is your cousin’s daughter here?”
“ I am here.” Isabelle said stepping out on to the porch.
“ You’re the daughter. I expected a child not a full grown woman.” The soldier said. Isabelle narrowed her eyes and then turned on her heal and headed back into her home.
“ I seem to have insulted the young woman.” He said nearly laughing.
“ I would like you to leave.” Brian said calmly. The soldiers grumbled something but did as they where asked and turned to leave. The soldiers weren’t sure they could return to their commanding officer without making sure the people of this plantation where either gone or dead. But since the young woman that had been seen inside was standing watching them they decided it best to just mount their horses and leave.
Kevin had received word that his land had been taken and his daughter and cousin taken into custody. He wasn’t sure if anything would happen to them but he prayed that they where safe. He hoped that she would be her safest right where she was.
Isabelle sat on the small bed, tears streaming down her cheeks as she looked out the window. She had expected to be treated differently being as she was a southern lady. But it seemed being southern was an excuse to treat her poorly. Her once pretty dress torn and her hair messed up. She looked up to see two soldiers leading Brian back into the room. Brian wrenched his arms free as he made his way into the room.
“ You’ve heard what you need. Leave us alone.” Brian said moving over to Isabelle.
“ Not completely. We must speak to the child for a short while.” They said grabbing Isabelle and making her come from the room. Brian tried to stop them but it seemed useless as they left the room, closing and locking the door as they left. Brian turned his eyes to the sky.
“ Dear lord protect her.” He whispered clutching his sliver cross. He had been assured that being a priest that he and his cousin would be unharmed. His thoughts where suddenly changed when he heard Isabelle scream.
“ NO! Leave her alone. She’s just a child.” Brian screamed slamming his hands on the door.
“ Step away from her sergeant.” The captain said. Isabelle lay on the floor, curled up in the fetal position, soft whimpers of pain and fear could be heard from her.
“ She wouldn’t tell us what we wanted her hear sir.”
“ I don’t care. Move away from my niece.”
“ You’re what sir?”
“ My niece. That is my little brother’s daughter.”
“ How can that be possible? She’s a southerner.”
“ As am I. Born and raised in Kentucky.” Jerold said looking at Isabelle.
“ But sir. She had slaves on her land.”
“ And at one time so did my father and so had I. That still means nothing for the way you’ve treated her. Bring Father Brian in here.”
“ Yes sir.” The sergeant said hurrying from the room.
“ Isabelle, honey it’s uncle Jarold.” Jarold said leaning down touching her arm. Isabelle shrieked and backed away, fear apparent in her deep blue green eyes.
“ Yes honey. Come here.” Jarold said holding his hands out to her. She quickly moved into his embrace and began to sob.
“ I was so scared.”
“ I know. I am sorry for the way you’ve been treated. I received word that you where here.”
“ Uncle are you with this army?” Isabelle asked looking at him.
“ I’m afraid so. But they will never hurt you nor Brian again.”
“ Brian?” Isabelle said looking around. She jumped and hid in the corner when the two soldiers that had assaulted her entered the room. Brian moved away from them and hurried to his cousin’s side.
“ Shush now, everything will be all right.” Brian said soothing the frightened girl. Brian looked up when he heard a familiar voice tell the soldiers they could leave.
“ Jerold?” Brian said looking at his older cousin.
“ Yeah it’s me.” Jerold said walking over to them.
“ What in gods name is going on? I heard you were in the war I never expected it to be with the other side.”
“ I did this to protect my family.”
“ She’s your niece for gods sake. This isn’t protecting your family.” Brian shouted.
“ I didn’t know she was involved. Brian do you really think I would do anything that would endanger her life?”
“ No, but you have. Kevin will never forgive you for this.”
“ Sir, I hate to bother you but we’ve brought in some new prisoners.” A young soldier said
“ Brian stay here with Isabelle. Private Johns will be outside the room. It’s safer you remain in the room.” Jarold said heading out of the room. Brian sat down as the young soldier stepped outside the room and pulled the door closed. It opened for a moment as the young man peeked in.
“ I have this.” He said laying a fresh dress onto the table.
“ What for?” Brian asked looking at him.
“ She’s been hurt enough, I found this among some things and thought it might fit.” He said shyly.
“ Thank you that was very kind.” Brian said moving back over to Isabelle. “ Issy this is for you.” Brian said touching her cheek.
“ For me?” She asked taking the dress from him. “ It’s lovely.”
“ Yes. I am going to step just outside the room, so that you may change.”
“ Thank you.” Isabelle said watching Brian step from the room. Isabelle removed the torn dress she wore and quickly pulled the new dress over her head. She would need assistance buttoning it but the dress fit perfectly. Isabelle let a few stray tears roll down her cheeks.
“ Hey, what’s wrong?” Brian said coming back into the room. The young soldier closing the door behind him.
“ I miss father and seeing Uncle Jarold didn’t help that.”
“ I know. But we will see him again soon.” Brian said hugging her close.
“ Do you like the dress?”
“ I certainly do. Now how about I close up the back so it’s not so drafty.” Brian noted. Isabelle nodded and allowed Brian to close the back of the dress.
It had been several hours since they had seen Jarold and Brian was begging to wonder where his cousin had rushed off to. He looked over at Isabelle and saw that she had drifted off into a listless sleep. Brian jumped slightly when the door to the room finally opened.
“ Sorry.” Jarold said as he entered the room.
“ I was getting worried. Several of the soldiers don’t really like us here and has more than once hurt Issy. She’s terrified.”
“ I wasn’t here until this morning when I was told that two new prisoners had been brought in from the southern part of Kentucky. I wasn’t told they were my family.”
“ Jarold, this is bad. Isabelle has lost her mother; nearly a year has passed since her death. Kevin has gone to war, drafted. And her fiancee is even gone.” Brian said looking at his cousin.
“ What’s the boys name?”
“ Her fiancee?”
“ Yes. What’s his name.”
“ James Marston.”
“ Name sounds familiar I’ll have to check our prisoners.”
“ Jarold, this war has torn our families apart. Isabelle has lost everything that she holds dear. Please just let us return her to her home.”
“ She’s safer here.”
“ She’s frightened and alone. Please Jerold. For your family and Isabelle’s sanity let us return home. The men that worked her land where all free and received a moderate pay.”
“ Slaves are still slaves if they fear to leave.”
“ Father wasn’t like that. They stayed cause they chose to.” Isabelle said looking at her uncle.
“ You are to young to understand the things Kevin has done.”
“ I am eight teen years old uncle and I have seen what he’s done.” Isabelle shouted.
“ But still nothing more than a child. Isabelle you need to learn that nothing is as it seems.”
“ You treat my father as someone that has beaten his slaves and treated them poorly. Where were you all those years grandfather needed his son?”
“ In the Army.” Jerold said figuring that would justify the reason he was almost always gone.
“ My father is not a young man anymore. And yet was called to duty. Not by your army but by the confederate army. I lost my love and father in the same week. The only family that offered to even come and help me was Brian.”
“ Sir, a new regiment of troops have been brought in.”
“ Come with me.” Jerold said grabbing Isabelle’s arm and leading her from the room. Brian was about to protest but instead followed the duo as they made their way down the halls, Isabelle carried herself as a southern woman should and tried to wrench her arm free from her uncles seemingly not so gentle grasp.
“ Look at them Isabelle. Tell me that what your father is doing is right.” Jarold said making Isabelle look at the young soldiers that had just been brought in, most where younger than she was and several had already been injured. Isabelle broke free from her uncle’s grasp and moved down towards them.
“ How old are you?” She asked the first soldier she approached.
“ Seven teen ma’am.” He said looking at her. She touched his youthful face and felt pity for him.
“ Fine Uncle you’ve made your point. My father is on the worst side and that, young men will die on both sides to prove this point. But what do I do if I lose everything? My Fiancee My father my family.” Isabelle cried looking up towards him.
“ You haven’t lost your family.”
“ If father doesn’t return I have lost everything.” Isabelle said dropping to her knees sobbing. Jarold headed down the steps and gathered his niece into his arms. This wasn’t his intention. He wanted her to see the young soldiers but not to nearly break her heart.
“ I’m sorry. I’ll send my best men out to find and bring your father in.”
“ Uncle he won’t come willingly. He will fight them.”
“ Then I’ll go.”
“ I can’t ask that.” Isabelle said moving away from him. The young soldiers watched as she raced from the courtyard and from the camp.
“ Damn it.” Jarold said looking at the soldiers.
“ Do you wish us to get her sir?”
“ I’ll do it.” Jarold said mounting the horse. He spurred the horse on and took off after his niece. “ Great just great.” He muttered noticing that it was starting to rain.
Isabelle ran into the woods blindly, her tears streamed down her cheeks as she ran. She just wanted to be away from this, to be home safe and warm with her father and her James. She could hear horses running behind her. She was determined to stay away from them; she didn’t want to go back there. It was as if the gates of hell had opened up and had shown her what war really was about. Tripping over a log that lay in the road she dropped her knees and began to sob, she was wet, muddy and cold. Fear apparent in her shaking form. She could hear the horse drawing nearer to her as she fought to get herself to a standing position.
“ Isabelle.” The voice called out. She could hear several more voices calling out to her. Genuine concern deep in them as they searched the woods for her.
“ ISABELLE!” Jarold called out over the thunder. He needed to find his niece; this was no place for a lady, let alone a lady as fragile as she was. He had always known that Kevin sheltered his daughter from many things, war being one of them. He hated that and wondered how Kevin ever expected his daughter to ever understand why things where happening.
Jarold stopped his horse and looked around, the rain was coming down harder now and it was becoming difficult to see.
“ ISABELE” He called out into the woods again.
“ Sir there is no sign of the girl.”
“ She has to be found. Sergeant I want more men on this. She is to be unharmed.” Jarold said making sure they understand that his niece was to be returned unharmed.
“ We understand sir. But with the rain coming with such force and the winds she will be difficult to find.”
“ I don’t care I want her found.” Jarold said.
Isabelle found herself completely lost, the voices that had been calling to her before where not calling to her anymore. She was now lost and wondering if her uncle was still looking for her. She looked around and started to cry again as the rain started coming down harder.
“ Why did I run off.” She asked herself looking around.
“ Well hello little missy.” She heard a voice say. Isabelle turned to face the two men that now held a gun to her.
“ Leave me alone.” Isabelle said backing away from them.
“ What is such a pretty girl doing out in the woods alone?” One asked reaching out to touch her face. Isabelle jerked backwards stumbling over a log and landing hard on the ground.
“ J..Just leave me alone.” She stuttered trying to slid backwards away from the men.
“ Don’t think so missy.” The other said grabbing her legs and pulling her back towards them. He lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder. Isabelle screamed and kicked in protest as she tried to get away.
Jarold looked up as Isabelle’s scream filled the night air.
“ Find her now.” Jarold said running his horse at full gallop to find his scared niece.
“ UNCLE” He heard her call back. “ HELP ME!” Jarold prayed he’d find her in time.
The two men stopped and looked around, they could hear voices calling out to the young woman and she had called back to them. Now one of the men held her close, his hand over her mouth silencing any cries.
“ Your uncle a soldier?” One asked looking at her. Isabelle’s eyes showed anger and fear as she looked at the man. The other man moved his hand and held tightly to her arms.
“ My Uncle is an Army Captain.” She said trying to wrench her arms free.
“ They won’t find you. We know these woods better than anyone don’t we Jeb.”
“ Sure do Ed.” Jeb answered. Ed moved his hand over her cheek; Isabelle turned her face from him. Ed growled and then backhanded her hard. Isabelle let out a painful whimper as she looked at him with tears in her eyes.
“ Let’s get moving Jeb.” Ed said heading into the woods further. Jeb nodded and grabbed Isabelle again.
“ No, I won’t go with you. Let me go. UNCLE!” She screamed trying to break free. Jeb placed his hand over her mouth again as he struggled to keep her still. Ed turned and smiled as he held up the rope that had been threw the loops of his pants. He had also been holding a large length of rope since they had been out hunting. He took the rope and tied her arms and then took the bandanna that had been around his neck and shoved it into her mouth. With the large piece of rope he ran a line with it and pulled her forward.
“ Ma will be so happy to think we finally found us a girl.”
“ Yes that she will.” Ed answered as he yanked on the rope pulling Isabelle forward. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she looked around the woods, she could hear her name being called and knew now she couldn’t call back. She looked up as Jeb and Ed stopped walking.
“ Release the girl.” She heard a man say.
“ She’s ours.” Jeb growled grabbing Isabelle by the hair causing her to cry out in pain.
“ Release her.” She heard another man say. Jeb looked around and saw that they were surrounded. Jeb shoved Isabelle away from him causing her to fall to her knees in the mud. There was no where she could go Ed still held the length of rope that was secured to her arms.
“ Release my niece now.” Jarold said raising his bayonet. “ Or suffer a fate worse than death sir.”
“ The little lady was found wondering the woods. We were only helpin her.” Jeb said.
“ Helpin her by how? Kidnapping her?” Jerold said anger apparent in his voice.
“ Why no sir. The child was upset.”
“ The child is frightened. Release her NOW!” Jerold said advancing on the two men. He was with in reach of Isabelle; he could almost touch her. Jeb backed away as Ed dropped the rope and turned tail and ran.
“ Get them.” Jerold said as they ran after the two men. Jerold dropped to his knees next to his niece. He gathered her shaking form into his arms and held her, he finally untied her and just sat there in the rain letting her cry.
“ I’m sorry uncle. I should never have run off.” Isabelle said between sobs.
“ It’s all right, you’re ok.” Jerold said kindly. He ran his fingers over her face and touched her cheek. “ You know I’d never let anything bad happen to my favorite niece.”
“ Thanks.” She whispered as she held onto him tightly. Jerold stood and lifted her small frame into his arms and took the reins of the horse and began walking back to the camp.
“ Sir, would you like me to take her?” A young soldier asked.
“ No, she’s my responsibility I’ll take care of her.” Jerold said, as they made it threw the gates of the camp. Brian came running towards them and looked at Isabelle.
“ She’s burning up with fever.” Brian said touching her face.
“ I know. Being out in the rain as long as she has soaked her threw. Soldier fetch the doctor.”
“ Yes sir.” The young soldier said running towards the other side of the camp.
“ Come with me.” Jerold said heading towards his sleeping quarters. He shoved the door open and turned and looked at Brian.
“ Light the lantern.” He said to his cousin. He walked over and lay Isabelle down on the meager bed.
“ What are we going to do?”
“ I have to get these wet cloths off of her.” Jerold said as he began to pull Isabelle’s dress free. He tossed it aside and finally had her completely undressed and Brian gasped and turned away.
“ You’ve never seen a naked woman before Brian?”
“ She’s my cousin and your niece.”
“ And she’s ill. I had to do that. Find me a long night shirt, there should be one within my cloths.” Jerold instructed as he began to dry Isabelle off. Brian retrieved the piece of clothing Jerold had asked for and handed it to him. Jerold lifted Isabelle’s half-conscious form and pulled the shirt over her head. He lay her back against the pillow and pulled the blankets up as far as he could. Brian let the doctor in once he had arrived.
Kevin looked at the sky and saw that the rain had finally stopped, he was begging to wonder if the rain was ever going to stop. It had rained for nearly a week.
“ Sir there is an urgent message for you.”
“ From where?”
“ It’s from a Captain Jerold Richardson.”
“ My brother, give it here boy.” Kevin said quickly taking the paper from the young boy. The boy nodded and hurried off to finish his assigned tasks.
I know that at times like these finding word from family is heart lifting but I don’t write you for that reason. I hope this letter finds you safe and alive. Your daughter seems to have been brought to my camp last month. She became angry when she realized that I was fighting for the north. She rushed out into the storm and we spent several hours combing the woods looking for her.
Kevin stopped reading right there unsure if he could handle hearing that his daughter had died. He looked around the camp and saw young men in several states of injury; he hopped that his daughter had not become a causality of this war. Finally finding the courage he began to read the letter again.
Isabelle was found safe, but in a rather bad state as it seemed two mountain men happened upon her and had decided to keep her for their own. She was frightened but unharmed by these men; they have been punished for what they tried. Isabelle spent as much as several hours in the rain and became very ill. We feared several times we would lose her, but with Brian’s prayers and the doctor’s help Isabelle is alive and healthy. But I am plagued with another problem. This is no place for a woman and even in her healthiest state Isabelle has always been a frail child. I have decided to send her to the convent near Brian’s church where she will be cared for and protected until you can return to her. I hope that soon you can return to us all.
Kevin whipped the tears from his eyes and nodded. It was for the best that Isabelle stay at the convent, the nuns there would be kind to her and she would learn some things as well. He would return to her, he did not wish for his daughter to think he had abandoned her.
“ Sir? I was told to wait and see if you had a message to return to the Captain.”
“ Are you from the north boy?”
“ I am but a messenger for both sides, making sure that families remain families.” He said, he spoke with wisdom beyond his years.
“ I shall pen a letter now for the Captain and my daughter. Be sure they both receive the letters.” Kevin said.
“ Yes sir.” The boy said sitting outside the tent.
Isabelle sat near the window; she watched the sun rise over the trees. It had been so long since she had been able to do just sit and enjoy a sunrise.
“ Yes Mother Superior?” Isabelle said looking at the older woman.
“ It’s time for class.”
“ Yes Mother Superior.” Isabelle said following her from the room.
“ When the war is over, you man remain here and become a nun child or you may return home.”
“ I am to be married. My fiancé James is fighting in the war. He’s been gone so long.” Isabelle said, a dreamy look in her eyes. The Mother Superior smiled, to be young and in love again, such a delight.
“ That is good. You must bring him by to introduce him to us once you’ve been wed.”
“ I shall. I thank you for all your kindness.”
“ It is our pleasure and anything for Father Brian.” She said with a smile.
“ Sister Mary Elizabeth here is Isabelle.”
“ Thank you Mother Superior.” Mary said. Isabelle sat down at the small desk and looked around the room. Most of the girls in the room where there to learn the ways of being a nun, she was there for protection.
“ Sister Mary Elizabeth there is a letter here for Isabelle.”
“ She’s here give it to her.” Mary said, Isabelle smiled as she took the letter from the young girl. She looked at the writing across the front and knew instantly it was from her James.
“ May I be excused Sister?”
“ Yes you may.” Mary said watching Isabelle nearly bound from the room.
Isabelle found a quite place in the convent and opened her letter.
My Dearest Isabelle.
I know I’ve been gone so long. And I am hoping this letter reaches you before anything happens. The unit I am with has been under fire for days now and many of the soldiers are dead and we are dwindling in numbers. I fear I might not make it home to you. I love you Isabelle and want you to know that even if we haven’t been wed you are my wife, my soul and my life. If I never make it home to you, I’ve left word with my mother to bring you a few things, things that I have made especially for you.
Love you Always and forever
Isabelle dropped the letter and began to sob, tears ran down her cheeks as she began to think about life without James.
“ Child what is wrong?” She heard one of the nuns ask. She could hear the woman pick up the letter and gasp.
“ Come we must speak to mother superior.” She said guiding Isabelle down the hall. Isabelle wasn’t even sure if she wanted to live anymore after hearing that James might not be coming home.
“ Mother Superior.”
“ Yes what is it Mary Margaret?”
“ Isabelle received this. I found her in the hall in hysterics.”
“ What is it child?”
“ He..He..He’s not coming back.” She stuttered.
“ Who’s not coming back?”
“ James.” Isabelle said thinking that would answer everything. The mother superior suddenly realized the conversation she had had with Isabelle earlier that morning.
“ Your fiancée dear?” She asked looking at Isabelle.
“ Yes.” Isabelle said.
“ How do you know he isn’t going to return?”
“ I received this.” She said handing the letter to her. Mother Superior took the letter and scanned it, then she noted the date at the top, it had been sent nearly a month before. She wondered if Isabelle had even noticed this.
“ He’ll be fine Isabelle. Go with Mary Margaret and pray. I must do some work.” She said in a rush. Isabelle nodded but did as she was told. Mother Superior looked at Mary Margaret and nodded.
“I’ll send Sister Ellen to find Father Brian.”
“ Thank you. Please tell him it’s most urgent that I speak to him.”
“ Yes ma’am.” Margaret said closing the door. She hurried to catch Ellen before she caught up with Isabelle in the chapel.
“ Sister Ellen.”
“ Yes Sister Mary Margaret?”
“ Fetch Father Brian, Mother Superior needs to speak to him.”
“ Yes sister.” She said hurrying from the convent. Margaret turned and headed towards the chapel to meet Isabelle. She walked in and saw that Isabelle was already bowing her head for prayer.
Kevin wondered why he had yet to receive word of his daughter and her well being. He sat huddled with a few of the soldiers hiding from enemy troops as they trudged threw the swamp.
“ What?” Kevin whispered hoping not to be heard.
“ We’ve been spotted.” The young soldier said hoping Kevin would get the hint. Kevin looked at him wide eyed and stood, he raised his gun and fired several times as he backed away from the advancing forces. The young man that warned him of their discovery dropped to the ground dead next to him. Kevin moved backwards some more before feeling a burning in his leg as he heard a shot. Kevin dropped his gun and clutched his now bleeding leg, he looked up as two soldiers came up to him, that was the last he saw as one hit him the head.
“ Where do we take him?”
“ Back to Fort Mayer. Captain Richardson will be delighted we caught another turn coat.”
“ He will not be happy that we injured him.”
“ Don’t question me soldier. Just make sure his arms are secure and put him on the horse.”
“ Yes sir.” The young soldier said as he first made sure that Kevin wasn’t going to bleed to death. Then he reached around and bound Kevin’s arms behind him.
“ Hey help me get him on the horse.” He said to another one. The soldier walked over and helped hoist Kevin onto the horse.
“ It would be easier Eric if you bound his hands in front of him. He’d be able to keep himself upright.”
“ He’s right soldier. Bind his hands to the saddle horn.”
“ Yes sir.” He said doing as he was asked. He could see that Kevin’s eyes where half open and he knew that Kevin wasn’t entirely there as he had been shot.
“ How long till we arrive at the fort sir? He will need medical attention.”
“ We will arrive in the fort within a day’s ride.”
“ Yes sir.” Eric said climbing onto the other horse and grabbing the reins of the horse Kevin was on, it was then he noticed a small picture tucked safely away inside Kevin’s pocket. Eric was about to reach for it but Kevin’s eyes opened all the way.
“ Don’t.” Kevin growled, pain evident in his voice and eyes.
“ I won’t.” The young soldier said as he lead the horse threw the woods. Kevin could feel the wood throbbing, it was hard to focus, but he was determined to stay conscious at any cost. He felt like they had been ridding all day when they came to a stop for the night.
“ We rest here. Put the prisoner over there.”
“ Yes Sergeant.” The soldier said pulling Kevin off the horse and helping him walk over to the tree.
“ Capturing the enemy must be nice for you boy.” Kevin said looking at him.
“ Not really. I think this war is pointless.” He said securing Kevin to the tree. “ Get some rest you’ll need it.”
Brian arrived just as the sky darkened and threatened again of rain. He swore it never actually stopped raining and wondered what was of such urgency that the mother superior would send a nun to fetch him. Brian rushed threw the halls he could hear someone crying but was unsure where it was coming from as he found the mother superiors office.
“ You sent for me?” He said out of breath.
“ Yes, thank you for coming so quickly Father Brian.”
“ What was so urgent Mother Superior?”
“ It’s about your cousin Isabelle.”
“ Is she ill? Is she all right?” Brian asked in a rush.
“ She is not ill. But she’s not all right. She received a letter from her fiancee this morning.”
“ Well that is wonderful. She must be excited.”
“ No, it was a sad letter, portraying a dying man. It was dated early last month.”
“ Then if it’s only been a month why worry?”
“ It was dated early last month of last year.”
“ Oh my.”
“ Yes and I believe if this is the only letter she’s received then her young man is surely dead. Do you know of a way to reach his family?”
“ No. I wasn’t close to his family. I was away for many years only returning home when requested by my cousin to care for his young daughter. He felt at her young age she shouldn’t be left alone.” Brian said.
“ As is a good idea during these times. But Father Brian, she is not doing any better here than she was at her home. She was looking better but I knew in her heart she yearned to return to her home, to her family. Being a nun is a calling by god as well you know father. But her being here was of her uncle’s wishes to keep her safe. And for that I shall, but remember the safety of her sanity and heart are at stake here as well. I would advise sending word to her uncle and finding out the whereabouts of her father.”
“ I shall, I will pen a letter this very evening and have it messenged to my cousin. He must know by now of his brother’s whereabouts.”
“ Very good. Now if you’d like to see Isabelle, she was in the chapel praying.”
“ Thank you. I shall stop in for a short visit. But I must return to the seminary before the storm comes.”
“ Thank you Father Brian.”
“ Anytime.” Brian said heading out of the room. He found the chapel and found Isabelle, he noted it was her tears he heard when he rushed down the hall.
“ Isabelle.” He said quietly as not to disturb anyone else’s prayer. Isabelle sniffled a bit and turned towards the voice.
“ BRIAN!” She screeched running to him. Brian looked around and noticed she was in the chapel alone as she ran into his embrace. Brian held her close as she cried she slid down to the floor taking Brian with her.
“ Shush now, it’s all right.” Brian said as he began to soothe her.
“ He’s gone Brian.”
“ We don’t know that honey. Wait until we can speak to his family. All right?”
“ All right, for now I will pray for his safe return.” Isabelle said trying to smile.
“ That’s my girl. I am going to go back to the seminary before the weather shifts, you get some sleep tonight and I’ll return in a few days?”
“ Ok.” She said with a smile.
“ Good girl.” Brian said kissing her cheek. He helped her back up off the floor and walked into the hallway. “ You be good and I’ll see you in a few days.” Brian said kissing her cheek again. He could have sworn she looked so much like a child, but she had gotten older and it showed in the way she carried herself, much different than she was when they left her home nearly four years before. Isabelle watched Brian leave the convent and then ran her fingers threw her long chestnut hair. She was going to be twenty-two that year and she knew that it hurt more every year to spend her birthdays without her family.
“ Isabelle come its time for bed dear.”
“ Yes mother superior.” Isabelle said sweetly as she walked down the hall.
Kevin was in so much pain, he tried to stay upright on the horse as the mid day sun beat down on him. He could never remember it being so hot. Sweat poured down his face as he tried to focus on the trail in front of him. He felt a hand pull him upright as he started to slid off the saddle.
“ We will be there soon.” Eric said as he reached over and righted Kevin again. Kevin nodded his head and looked towards their destination.
“ Sir, we’ve brought a prisoner.” The sergeant said.
“He looks injured.”
“ He was shot in the leg.” Eric added quickly.
“ Take him to the infirmary I’ll get the captain.”
“ Yes sir.” Eric said helping Kevin off the horse and then held him up as he led him to the infirmary. A pretty nurse with chestnut colored hair looked up at them.
“ More wounded. Where did you find this one?” She asked.
“ He’s from the other side. Sergeant Caleb shot him.” Eric said.
“ Put him on the bed, I’ll fetch the doc.” She said.
“ Sure thing Dianna.” Eric said as he lay Kevin on the bed and waited while Dianna found the doctor.
“ How bad is he Eric?”
“ He’s been shot in the leg doc, I think he’s lost a lot of blood but Sergeant Caleb wouldn’t let me help him.”
“ Oh that sounds like him. Where is the Captain?”
“ Coming. Sergeant Caleb went to get him. Seems he wanted to be the one to show him his new prize.” Eric said his voice full of disgust. They all looked up as Jerold entered the infirmary.
“ Who is our newest … Oh god that’s my brother.” Jerold said looking at Kevin’s face.
“ That’s your what sir?”
“ My little brother. His daughter was here months back.”
“ Leave Mr. Caleb.” Jerold said sitting down next to Kevin.
“ What can you do for him doc?”
“ I’ll have to remove the bullet so Diana will have to help me. I will come and get you when we are done.” He said.
“ Thanks doc. Well little brother what a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into this time.” Jerold said moving Kevin’s hair out of his face.
Eric came running to Jerold’s office a few hours later.
“ Sir, your brother is awake and asking for the company commander.”
“ I’ll be right there.” Jerold said standing. Eric moved out of the room and down the long corridor. Jerold could hear Kevin shouting down the hall.
“ I want to see the company commander.” Kevin shouted trying to get off the bed; it was taking three soldiers to hold him down.
“ Stay where you are or we will be force to restrain you.” The doctor said looking at him. Kevin narrowed his eyes but still finally stopped fighting with the soldiers.
“ I can hear you all the way down the hall. What’s the point in throwing a fit?” Jerold asked walking into the room.
“ How did you get here?” Kevin asked looking at his brother.
“ You asked for the company commander here I am.”
“ You traitor.”
“ That would be you brother dear. But that’s beside the point. Isabelle was here month’s back. She is safe.” Jerold said looking at him.
“ You where kind to my daughter. Will you be as kind to me?”
“ I have to keep you here for a while. I will see when you can return to your family.”
“ Send word to Isabelle?”
“ Write her a letter yourself. The messenger can make sure she gets it.” Jerold said to him.
Kevin lay on the cot looking at the ceiling wondering what his daughter was doing right now. He knew she was safe, but could she handle being reunited with him right now. He wanted to see her so badly, but in his injured state and he wasn’t sure exactly how bad she was. He picked up the paper and began writing
My dear Isabelle.
I know that I haven’t written in a long time. But I fear I have been wounded and am unable to come for you. I know that you are safe and alive, I’ve been here in your uncle Jerold’s camp and he says that you are in fair health. My dearest child, I want to be with you again. Please if this letter reaches you in time. Find a way to return to you uncle’s camp. I will be here waiting for you.
All my love
“ Kevin is the letter ready?”
“ Yeah, here.” Kevin said handing the letter to his brother.
“ I will make sure that this gets to Isabelle with up most urgency.”
“ Thank you.” Kevin said closing his eyes; sudden wave of exhaustion hit him.
“ Get some rest little brother.” Jerold said leaving the room.
“ Make sure these letters are delivered to Isabelle Richardson and Father Brian Littrell. I want to have a response from both of them when the letters are received.”
“ Yes sir. Do you want us to bring them back here?”
“ Yes if they say they will. Be careful with Isabelle she’s fragile.”
“ Yes sir.” The soldier said as he mounted his horse and headed out of the camp. He knew it was a full days ride to the church.
Isabelle hid in a small dark corner. She could her the soldiers shouting as they made their way down the hall. She hoped she would remain hidden. Being in a southern seminary she had hoped she would be safe. No one had ever thought of ever breaching the sanctuary of the church. But these soldiers seemed hell bent on finding what they where looking for. She could feel the heat of the flames as they rushed threw the church. The screams of the nuns could be heard down the halls.
“ Dear lord make it stop.” Isabelle cried. She shrieked as she felt hands grab her and pull her from her hiding place.
“ Isabelle, your safe.” Brian soothed.
“ But the soldiers.” She cried.
“ Where trying to get survivors out. The church burst into flames, a miss fired cannon.” Brian soothed as he led her from the now burning church. She had heard the cannon fire and had assumed they where under attack and had hid herself in a small cabinet.
“ But I heard the nuns crying, some screaming.”
“ They where the ones lost to the fire, as nearly where you.” Brian said smoothing back her soot covered hair.
“ There where so many voices.” Isabelle cried.
“ I know.” He said. He held her close as several soldiers approached them.
“ She is not a nun?” One asked looking at her torn and nearly burnt dress.
“ She was sent to the church for safe keeping, her father fights in the war. Her uncle felt the church would be the safest place for her.” Brian explained.
“ Here take this.” A young soldier said giving him a large blanket.
“ Thank you.” Brian said taking the blanket and covering Isabelle with it. He could feel her shaking under his touch as the events of the evening sank in.
“ Come there is a camp a days ride from here.” One said. Brian nodded he knew the place well, they had been there nearly a year before.
“ Commander Jerold Richardson still in charge?”
“ Yes sir. We were sent to find survivors when we heard the church had been burnt. I was sent to bring Father Brian Littrell and Miss Isabelle Richardson back to the camp. Her father has been found.” He said.
“ I am Father Brian, and this is Isabelle.” Brian said.
“ Come we have a wagon you can ride in.” He said handing Brian the two letters that he had carried. He had kept them safely tucked inside his uniform.
“ Thank you. Come Isabelle.” Brian said leading his cousin to the waiting wagon. Two soldiers helped her onto the wagon then helped Brian.
“ How many lost?” Brian asked before they pulled away.
“ Half a dozen, including the mother superior, she had rushed back in to help several escape.” The soldier driving the wagon said. Brian made the sign of the cross and said a short prayer.
“ May god be with you all.” He whispered.
“ Brian, will it ever be normal again?”
“ Some day.” Brian said holding Isabelle close.
“ Riders approaching.”
Jerold looked up from the papers he was working on and stood. He moved outside and looked at the soot-ridden people that now walked into his camp. At first he had not seen his niece or cousin.
“ Uncle.” Isabelle cried as she leaped from the wagon. Jerold leaned down and scooped her into his arms and held her close.
“ I feared you had been killed.” Jerold whispered.
“ Nearly.” Brian said as he approached him.
“ The fire had started and Isabelle had become afraid and hid in a corner, where I found her and led her from the burning rectory. The mother superior wasn’t as lucky.”
“ She was a kind woman.” Jerold said.
“ Aye that she was.” Brian said.
“ Where did you pick up the Irish accent cousin?” Jerold asked.
“ We had a visiting minister. He was the one that alerted us to the fire. I fear he parished in the fire as well.” Brian said. Isabelle held onto Jerold as his men moved around her gathering the wounded.
“ Isabelle I have news for you.” Jerold said pulling her away from his body so he could look into her frightened eyes.
“ Your father has been found.” Jerold said.
“ He is here. He was wounded by one of my men and was brought here.”
“ Show me.” She said. Jerold nodded and led her down the walk to where the injured where being housed. She heard talking of a young woman, her voice sweet and full of concern as she spoke to the wounded soldiers that lay within the building.
“ He is alone. I had no choice but to put him alone.” Jerold said.
“ Why?” Brian asked.
“ Partly because he’s my brother, another reason he was fighting for the south, that makes him a traitor and will be tried for that.” Jerold said quietly. He watched Isabelle as she slowly opened the door. She shrieked and entered the room rushing to her father’s side. Kevin held his arms out and pulled her close to him.
“ Shush now. It’s all right.” Kevin soothed. He could see his brother and cousin standing in the doorway. Dianna watched the father and daughter reunite. Isabelle finally made note of another presence in the room and stood up.
“ Hello.” Isabelle said quietly.
“ Hello you must be Isabelle. Kevin speaks about you a lot.” She said with a smile.
“ Really father?”
“ Of course.” Kevin said with a smile. “ You’re my beautiful daughter. I wish I never had left you.” He said running his fingers over her cheek. He could see the soot from the fire; he looked at her cloths and saw that they had been burnt slightly.
“ I am safe father.” Isabelle said quietly. Kevin noticed that her voice was less forceful than it had been years before. Before the war had even began.
“ How about I take you to find another dress.” Dianna said looking at Isabelle.
“ That would be good. I need to speak to Kevin alone.” Jerold said looking at his niece. Isabelle nodded and let Dianna led her from the room.
“ What?” Kevin asked.
“ She doesn’t know that you where captured as an enemy of the states. I didn’t tell her that when your well there will be a trial.”
“ You didn’t tell me there would be a trial. I was doing what I thought was right to protect my family. Jerold you had slaves on your land, our own father had slaves how can this be any different?”
“ President Lincoln wanted them freed.”
“ I know this Jerold. But what do I have to go on trial for? If I am found guilty Isabelle will have nothing. She will have no one.”
“ She will have me. She will have Brian, and mother.”
“ She will go insane. What happened to her here? She was a young vibrant woman that loved life, now she seems to almost fear it.”
“ She was captured by some mountain men. When we found her, they had her bound and gagged she was terrified.”
“ How long had they had her?” Kevin asked.
“ I would say no more than an hour.”
“ Long enough for them to assault her. My god Jerold, I would have assumed she would be safe here.”
“ She was safe here. She was angry and upset. So she took off into the woods. My men and I went searching for her. I am sorry brother but she is a very strong willed woman. She is safe and sound. She became ill after the ordeal because of her time in the rain. But she is fine.” Jerold said as he looked up to see Dianna and Isabelle return.
Brian sat back and watched his cousins argue and then saw Isabelle coming towards the building. She had heard everything, and he could tell she was very upset.
“ Come child.” Brian said leading her away for a moment. Isabelle wasn’t used to Brian calling her a child.
“ What is wrong?” Isabelle asked.
“ I am worried about you. That is all.” Brian said looking at her.
“ But why cousin?”
“ Because I know you heard what your father said.”
“ Yes I did. Father has a right to worry about my safety.”
“ But so does your uncle.”
“ Yes I know.”
“ I fear that you will be unable to stay here for long.”
“ Your fathers trial starts in a few days.”
“ Isabelle, your father is a traitor, he will be tried as one.” Brian said calmly. Isabelle looked at him with wide eyes and then turned and ran back towards her father’s room.
“ Jerold I don’t want to discuss this right now. Isabelle is frightened enough. I don’t need her anymore upset.”
“ Too late.” Dianna said seeing Isabelle standing in the doorway, she could see the tears in Isabelle’s eyes. Dianna quickly moved to Isabelle’s side as she looked about to pass out.
“ Come on how about you and I take a walk?” Dianna asked looking at Isabelle.
“ My..My Father is going to be tried as a traitor.” Isabelle sobbed against Dianna. Jerold wasn’t sure what to say to Isabelle as he looked down at Kevin.
“ It’s bad enough you sent for her without my knowledge and now she knows this.” Kevin seethed.
“ I did not send for her.”
“ No Kevin, Jerold didn’t send for us. The church where Isabelle was staying had been attacked and was burning, this was the safest place to send all the victims of that fire.” Brian said looking at his cousin.
“ Then how would she have known I was here?”
“ She was brought in to the infirmary to be treated for the burns she has on her arms. And even now she’s not been treated for those.” Dianna said helping Isabelle lay down on one of the empty beds.
“ I’m fine.” Isabelle said trying to get back up.
“ No, you’re not fine. I’ve seen the others that where brought from the church and I was told they found you deep inside where the fire was at it’s worst.”
“ I was hiding.”
“ From what?” Kevin asked looking towards her.
“ The soldiers. I heard their voices.” Isabelle said.
“ Tell us what happened?” Jerold said sitting down.
“ All right.” Isabelle answered.
*** Isabelle’s POV ****
The church was quiet. I was walking threw the halls, listening to choir practice. I heard a strange noise and then glass shattering. I heard screams coming from down the long hallway. I made my way down the hall and saw fire coming from one of the rooms. It was spreading fast and the nuns where screaming and running. A few where on fire, I stood there frozen in fear as I saw a soldier enter the convent. I was so scared, thinking the worst I ran and found myself a hiding place, the far end of the church. There is a small confessional there and I hid inside. I pulled my legs up and heard screams fill the room. I was terrified and unsure if I would even survive what was going on. I heard Brian’s voice calling to me and several of the nuns. I opened the door and looked to see the entire room was on fire, the roof was engulfed in flames. It looked as if hell itself had swallowed the church, flames licked at the walls and the painted glass trying to free itself from the confines of the hall. I heard a scream and turned to see Sister Mary Margaret’s dress was on fire. I saw Brian come from the side and try and put out the fire. She lay sobbing on the floor her body burned from the fire, Brian moved aside as two men entered and helped Sister Mary Margaret from the hall. I looked to see the Mother Superior reenter the hall helping several more injured nuns from there. I knew that there had been deaths, I screamed as the fire touched my arm lighting my dress on fire, I patted the fire trying to get it out when Brian heard my voice. I got the fire out and hid in my dark corner. Brian finally made his way to me and made me leave the hall. We arrived here some a day later.
*** End POV ***
“ Isabelle let me see your hands.” Dianna said looking at the girl. It was the first time any of them had gotten a really good look at her garments; the front of the dress was torn, burned and dirty. Her sleeves where gone, Dianna assumed from the flames. She took Isabelle’s hands in her own and turned them over, she could see minor burns on the palms and some more up her arm. Her right arm was burned pretty bad, showing signs of a second-degree burn.
“ I need some cool cloths.” Dianna ordered.
“ I don’t worry about myself. What of my father?”
“ Your father will be fine.” Dianna said. Isabelle looked at her and she wasn’t entirely sure if that was true or not.
Isabelle moved around the camp, her arms both bandaged from where Dianna had treated the burns, she still wore the dress she had arrived in three days before. Her uncle had offered several changes of clothing and offers of sending her to her grandmother’s home but Isabelle would see none of it. She refused to leave her father in his time of need. Dianna seemed to like her father Isabelle thought; they seemed to smile a lot dispite the world around them. And Isabelle had to admit she loved to see her father smile. Everything in the room seemed to light up when her father smiled. He hadn’t smiled in a long time.
“ Do you care for my father?” Isabelle asked Dianna one afternoon.
“ My goodness we are forward aren’t we?”
“ I asked a question of you? Do you care for my father?”
“ I do. But what is it of your concern if I care for your father?” Dianna asked.
“ You seem to make him happy dispite where we are, what is coming to him soon. Will you stand by him?”
“ I have only known your father a short time. But he seems to be a kind and generous man.”
“ He is. And a fine gentlemen, my father was happy once, long before my mother became ill.” Isabelle said. She stood and hugged Dianna. “ I hope you can bring that sparkle back to his eyes.” She whispered as she pulled away. Dianna smiled and nodded. She had to admit Kevin was a sight to see. A handsome man in his own right, tall and slender, but muscular at the same time. His long dark hair hung well past his shoulders, he now had a slight beard and it looked handsomely on him. His green eyes showed the Irish side of his family, his strong will showed the heritage. Dianna had to admit the few short weeks that Kevin had been there, she had become rather fond of him, even looked forward to her visits to the infirmary.
“ I must go and check on your father, he had a high fever and I wanted to see if had come down.” She said hurrying away from Isabelle.
“ Yes uncle?”
“ I would rather you change.”
“ I would rather not. I feel if this war is going to continue I want to feel it as they do. They don’t get the pleasure of clean and well pressed cloths when theirs become dirty. Please stop asking.”
“ I have other things to discuss with you.” Jerold said looking at her. Isabelle turned her blue eyes in his direction.
“ And that is?” She asked. Jerold shook his head, Isabelle was no doubt a Richardson threw and threw.
“ Your father has developed an infection.” Jerold said calmly.
“ Yes I know, Dianna told me. They are treating it, and his fever came down this morning.”
“ As long as his fever is down and he is well enough, his trial will begin this afternoon.”
“ Uncle are you serious?”
“ Yes Isabelle I am. It is the law, and I must follow it. I will promise your father a swift and fair trial.”
“ Fair? How can he get a fair trial? These people feel he has done something wrong.”
“ He has in their eyes. Honey believe me if I could stop this I would.”
“ No you wouldn’t. You’re going to be there with everyone else waiting to see him hang.” Isabelle spat angrily at him. Jerold couldn’t believe his niece. He stood there shocked for a moment the slapped her hard across the face.
“ I would never. And you damned well know that young lady.”
“ Like hell. You where always gone. If my father dies I swear to you I will die with him.” Isabelle screamed, turning on her heal she headed back into the infirmary.
Dianna looked at Kevin and smiled.
“ How are you feeling?”
“ Terrible. But better than yesterday.”
“ I am glad it’s better than yesterday. You where running a pretty high fever there. We where worried that we where going to lose ya for a while.”
“ Where is Isabelle?” Kevin asked looking around the room. Several soldiers where looking worse than he did others where better and talking to some of the other nurses.
“ Out in the garden.”
“ Yes, Commander Richardson decided that since it’s hard to get supplies around here we can grow our fruits and vegetables. Last I saw Isabelle she was working on picking some strawberries.”
“ She was never hands on as a child.”
“ Seems like she misses her parents a lot.”
“ I know she misses her mother. Her heart nearly broke when her mother died and then losing James and then me. I am actually surprised my daughter kept her sanity.”
“ Your alive that’s all that seems to matter to her. I over heard Father Brian speaking to the commander.”
“ About what?” Kevin asked.
“ Isabelle received a letter from James. It was dated last month.”
“ Well then the lad is still alive. I am sure she is happy about that.”
“ Dated last month of last year.”
“ Oh goodness. Did she see that?”
“ No, but it was written in the hand of a dying man. I heard her crying the other night. I wanted to hold her and tell her things would get better but it’s not my place.”
“ You’re her friend. It is your place as much as it is mine. If I could comfort her I would.” Kevin said taking Dianna’s hand in his own. Dianna looked down into Kevin’s green eyes and smiled.
“ She loves you a lot.”
“ And I adore her. She is my only child, but it seems I may have room in my heart for another.”
“ But what of your wife?”
“ I can not grieve forever. My daughter has told me that much.”
“ But it has only been a few years.”
“ Nearly four years since my dear Kristin was lay to rest. And god bless her soul I do miss her dearly, but I will not live my life grieving her loss, she wouldn’t want that.”
“ She sounds like a spectacular woman.”
“ She was that indeed.” Kevin said remembering his wife. A soft smile plays on his face at the memory.
“ I bet the two of you would have been the best of friends.” Kevin said.
“ Yes, You have the same spirit and fire she did. And it seems my Isabelle likes you.”
“ And I like her. She’s a sweet girl, and one that misses her mother a great deal.”
“ She misses her mother’s friendship. Maybe you can fill that void, like you do with me.” Kevin said with a smile. Dianna blushed and began to giggle. She couldn’t believe that a simple phrase like that could get her to giggle like a schoolgirl. Kevin was a fine man and her father would approve of him instantly.
“ We have only known each other for such a short time.”
“ A month and during that month I’ve grown rather fond of you Dianna. If it where under better circumstances I would court you.” Kevin said holding her hand.
“ I know.” Dianna said quietly. Kevin reached his hand up and brushed away a stray tear that rolled down her cheek.
“ Hey now, don’t cry. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.” He said softly. Dianna looked at him, she knew better than that. Once he was healthy enough he would stand trial for treason and for that the punishment was death. She wouldn’t let her heart get broken like that; she was starting to care deeply for him but wasn’t sure if she would allow him into her heart if she knew he’d die.
“ Father.” Isabelle’s voice said as she entered the infirmary.
“ Are you crying?” Kevin asked as he still held onto Dianna’s hand.
“ Uncle says that when you’re well you’ll be facing a trial.”
“ I know.” Kevin said. He could see the pain in both their eyes as they looked at him. Two of the most precious things to him right then and he could lose them both in a mere instant.
“ He is healthy enough to walk?”
“ I would rather he not, but yes he is.” Dianna said.
“ Then Kevin, come with me.” Jerold said stepping forward. Kevin slid from the bed and stood on shaky legs. Jerold steadied him for a moment before Kevin shrugged him off. Kevin moved away from Isabelle and Dianna and stepped towards the doorway.
“ When does it begin?” He asked facing his brother.
“ When we arrive in my office. I’m sorry brother.”
“ Leave him alone.” Isabelle spat moving to her father’s side. “ Your not sorry. You took up your side he took his. Both are fighting because you wanted to save your families. Instead you’re tearing them apart.” Isabelle said
“ Isabelle this is no concern of yours.” Jerold said.
“ Yes it is. The minuet you take my father away it is my concern. As I told you in the garden uncle, he dies so do I.” Isabelle said shoving past them and into the courtyard. She mounted a horse and tore off into the open wilderness.
“ Damn it not again.” Jerold said.
“ Sir, what do you want done?” A young soldier had asked.
“ Follow her. Bring her back unharmed.”
“ Yes sir.”
“ Jerold just let her be. I’ve seen Isabelle in fits like this. Let her be, she’ll return.”
“ She’ll return unharmed.” Jerold said watching the soldier leave the camp.
“ Jerold quit being so hard headed.”
“ Kevin, I nearly lost her the last time she took off and she was on foot that time.”
“ Damn it.” Kevin said as Jerold led him to his office. “ I’m going to die aren’t I?”
“ I don’t know little brother. I am trying everything I can to keep that from happening. Even if Isabelle can’t see that.”
“ I believe you and in time so will she.” Kevin said. Jerold sighed and faced his younger brother, he held out some shackles.
“ I understand.” Kevin said holding up his arms. Jerold placed the shackles on his wrists and then led him into the office.
“ This hearing will begin.” The judge said.
Isabelle rode the horse as hard and fast as she could. She didn’t care, all that mattered was getting away from the camp, and away from everything that was making her life miserable. She hated her uncle, she knew he was right but she hated him for it. She knew that he’d try and save her father but there was no one that could save him now. She stopped the horse and slid off it and dropped to the ground sobbing. She didn’t hear the other rider that had approached and dismounted.
“ It’s all right Isabelle.” He said gathering her sobbing form into his arms.
“ I am going to lose my father.” She sobbed.
“ You don’t know that. Hey look at me.” He said putting his finger under her chin and made her look up at him.
“ Your father has done everything he can to protect you. And so has your uncle, both are fine men. Give them both a chance.”
“ My uncle wants to see my father die.”
“ No brother wants to see their brother die. I watched mine die a year ago. I hated that feeling and I know that your uncle is a caring and gentle man.”
“ I guess.” Isabelle sniffled.
“ I’m Jeremy. How about we go back to the camp?”
“ Thanks I think that would be a good idea.” Isabelle said. Jeremy helped her stand and then helped her back onto the horse she had taken.
Dianna stood and sighed as they rode into the camp, she was relieved that Isabelle was safe. She could see the young girls tear stained face and the smile that was on her face as well as the young soldier spoke to her softly. Maybe this young man could change things for Isabelle as Kevin had changed things for her. Dianna turned and went about her work checking on her patients.
“ What’s going to happen to the traitor?”
“ He’s being tried. And his name is Kevin.” Dianna said as she changed an injured soldier’s bandages.
“ Well you seem to have gotten really close to the southerner.”
“ I am a southerner myself if you don’t mind” Dianna said moving away from the young man.
“ What of the young girl? The little southern whore?”
“ She’s not a whore and I’d appreciate if you’d speak kinder about the commanders niece.”
“ She’s the commanders niece. What a fine looking little thing.” One said as Jeremy brought Isabelle into the infirmary.
“ I thought you best look at this cut Miss Dianna. She got it dismounting her horse in the woods.” He said kindly. Dianna moved over to Isabelle and looked at her hand. There was a large gash that took up the center of her hand.
“ My goodness child how did you manage that?”
“ I don’t know.” Isabelle answered.
“ Well let me clean and dress it and then have this nice young man escort you back to your quarters.”
“ Thanks.” Isabelle said. Jeremy stood near the doorway and waited as Dianna helped with Isabelle.
“ If you will take her to her quarters. I will come check on her later.”
“ All right. Come along Isabelle.” Jeremy said holding his arm out for her. Several of the injured soldiers made comments under their breath but Jeremy heard them and stopped in the doorway.
“ Unless you’d like to be reported to the commander I’d keep those comments to myself Mr. Johns.”
“ Why are you defending her Jeremy?”
“ Because she needs defending now shut up.” Jeremy said. Isabelle held back a sob as Jeremy led her from the room, he knew that it was still daylight and that Isabelle was very tired after her ordeal that day.
“ Come on don’t worry about Johns he’s always saying things he shouldn’t.”
“ I am not tired.”
“ Would you like to sit and talk?” Jeremy asked. Isabelle nodded and sat down on the chair that sat outside the room she usually slept in. Jeremy grabbed another chair and sat across from her.
“ How long have you been alone?” Jeremy asked.
“ My mother died in the early summer of 61 my fiancee was called to duty two days later my father left a short time after that.”
“ You stayed in your home alone?”
“ My father sent for his cousin Brian. Father Brian.”
“ The Priest?”
“ Yep. He is my cousin.” Isabelle said looking to see Brian teaching some children.
“ He seems to be a kind man.”
“ You seem to think that about all my family.”
“ They are kind people. Your uncle was very nice to me when I first arrived here. Commander Richardson was the one that helped me understand the duty I had to perform and the reason I was here.”
“ My Uncle has always been a man of many means. I’ve only met him a few times, one time being at my grandfathers funeral.”
“ You still seem to be a close family.”
“ My father was very close to both of his brothers.”
“ I have an Uncle Jim, my father is the youngest.”
“ Wait a minuet he’s the youngest?”
“ Yeah so?” Isabelle asked, wondering what his sudden interest was in the fact her father was the youngest in his family.
“ No reason go with your story.” He said.
“ My grandmother said that she loved all of her boys equally even though they said that she loved Dad more.” Isabelle said with a small smile.
Jerold watched Kevin pace inside the cell he had been taken to. The judge had wanted some time to make his decision and asked that Kevin be taken to the jail.
“ Kevin stop pacing.”
“ I am going to die today. And you want me to stop pacing.”
“ You’re not going to die.”
“ The hell I’m not. I am so glad you can be so optimistic about this. I cant. I can’t watch my baby girl fall apart when she finds out I won’t be coming home.”
“ How about Dianna. She seems very fond of you?”
“ Her too. God Jerold this isn’t fair. The first woman that can make my heart skip a beat, just like Kris could. I won’t even have a chance with because I won’t even be alive to try.”
“ Why don’t you give it the benefit of the doubt and wait and see what the judge says. I told him that you’re the old one that can keep Isabelle calm, that she has already run off twice on me because she’s had a fear of losing you.” Jerold said looking at his irritated younger brother.
“ I don’t know Jerold I just have this feeling that Isabelle is going to lose it all tonight.”
“ Maybe not.” Jerold said. He looked to see Dianna walking towards them with a tray.
“ I came to bring Kevin something to eat.”
“ How about the two of you eat, I am going to check on a few things I will be back.” Jerold said leaving the two alone. Dianna sat down outside the cell and Kevin sat down inside.
“ So what’s to eat?”
“ Cook made chicken, potatoes and corn on the cob.” She said handing him a plate. She knew he was hungry. After the fever he had a few days before he hadn’t eaten much and had to be starved.
“ Sounds good.” Kevin said. He dug into the food as if he was a dying man, to him he felt like he was.
“ Tell me something Kevin.”
“ What?” He asked looking up at her.
“ Would you court me if things had been different?”
“ In a heart beat. Even before the war I knew I was losing Kristin, she was very ill and there was only a matter of time before she was going to be gone. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be ready. But when I saw you that first day in the infirmary I knew that I could go on with my life and that Kristin would want that.”
“ Your daughter seems to think that way as well. I wrote my parents about you.”
“ And do they approve of a proper southern gentlemen?”
“ They do, but they wonder if we will make anything of our relationship with the trial and all.”
“ Then I guess I do what my brother said and wait and see what happens.” Kevin said looking into her eyes.
“ I guess so.” Dianna said. She had failed to tell Kevin that she had wrote her parents about him over a month before, she watched as he ate his meal and then handed her the plate back threw the bars.
“ I wish we had more time.”
“ We have all the time in the world Kevin.” Dianna said looking at him.
“ Do we?” Kevin said. He wasn’t entirely sure of that, the judge was almost certain to sentence him to death.
Isabelle sat alone outside her room; Jeremy had gone to do a few things and had told her he would return as soon as he could. Now alone Isabelle knew that her world was slowly falling apart.
“ Yes Uncle.” Isabelle said looking up at him.
“ I want to speak to you.”
“ About what?” Isabelle asked looking towards the wall.
“ About your father and this trial.”
“ What about it? About the fact that I am going to lose my father like I have my love.”
“ You don’t know that Isabelle.”
“ I do know that. I do know that I will lose my father.”
“ Isabelle honey, we aren’t sure what the judge is going to say. I told him that you’re father is all you have left in the world. He knows that you’re my niece but your father is your world.”
“ But I am not all he has left in the world.” Isabelle said looking at him.
“ How do you mean?”
“ Uncle you’d have to be blind not to see that dad loves Dianna.”
“ He’s only known her for a few short months.”
“ He’s got that same look in his eyes he had when he’d talk about mom.” Isabelle said looking at her uncle. Jerold had to admit Kevin in the short time he had been there had really become fond of Dianna Hamilton.
“ Well I know that soon we will find out your fathers fate.”
“ Probably not until tomorrow. Why don’t you get some rest.”
“ What can you tell me about Jeremy?”
“ Jeremy Gage?”
“ Yeah that’s his name.”
“ What did you want to know?”
“ How long has he been here?”
“ Two years. He was here when you where here the last time. He was one of them that had assisted me in finding you in the woods.”
“ I thought his voice sounded familiar.”
“ That it did. He comes from a very prominate family. I had heard you speaking to him earlier.”
“ Yes he had asked me of my family. Of father and mother, and of the ring I wear.” Isabelle said running her finger absently over the ring.
“ He’s been told of James?”
“ Yes. Can you find out about James?”
“ I will. You get some rest. I will send a messenger out to find some information.” Jerold said as he stood and left his niece alone again. Isabelle decided she wasn’t tired and wanted to see her father. Walking to where she had seen him taken she stopped in front of two soldiers.
“ I want to see my father.” Isabelle said looking at them. One nodded and opened the door to let her into the stockade. Isabelle walked inside and saw that Dianna was tending to her fathers wound.
“ Isabelle.” Kevin said looking up at her.
“ Father.” Isabelle said with a smile.
“ I wasn’t expecting to see you.” Kevin said, sounding genuinely surprised at her visit.
“ Uncle wanted me to rest but I wanted to come see you.” She said taking the seat near the cell.
“ How are you feeling?”
“ I am all right, you are ok?”
“ I am fine. I was worried about you. How far did you run off?”
“ Not far, Jeremy came and got me.”
“ Jeremy? Jeremy Gage?” Kevin asked, he had heard some of the injured soldiers speaking of the young man while he had been in the infirmary.
“ Yes, how do you know of him?”
“ Some of the injured soldiers spoke of him. I was guessing they where his friend. Why didn’t he come with you?”
“ He was sent on patrol.”
“ He’s a nice young man, he brought Isabelle back and brought her right to the infirmary.”
“ Why?” Kevin asked.
“ I hurt my hand dismounting the horse in the woods. Nothing serious father.” Isabelle said looking at him. She knew he’d worry if he had known that Dianna had to stitch up the wound and it was wrapped heavily.
“ Well you know I will worry. You are my daughter.” Kevin said. Kevin reached out and touched her hands. Isabelle looked down at his hands; it was strange how a few hours seemed to nearly age him. Kevin looked older than he was; his hair seemed to have more gray in it than it had before.
“ I am sorry to interrupt.” Jerold said as he entered the room. Kevin held Isabelle’s hand and looked at his brother.
“ The judge made his decision and it’s time to go.” Jerold said opening the cell door. Isabelle let go of Kevin’s hand and stood and waited for him to step from the cell. She moved and hugged him.
“ No matter what I love you.”
“ I know.” Kevin said hugging her tightly. Kevin looked at Dianna and hugged her too.
“ I’ll take care of her.” Dianna whispered as Jerold came and escorted him from the room. Isabelle stood there watching her father and uncle leaving the room and then looked at Dianna.
“ I am going to lose him?”
“ No you’re not, he’s going to be fine. Believe that in your heart and you will know it.” Dianna said leading her from the room. Isabelle looked up as Jeremy walked towards them, he was dusty and his face had some blood on it. Isabelle became instantly concerned.
“ What happened?”
“ One of the patrol was ambushed we need ya to look at him.” He said looking at Dianna.
“ Come we will take a look.”
“ I will take Isabelle back to her room.”
“ No I will come too.” Isabelle said heading with them to the infirmary. She gasped as she saw the injured soldier; it had been the young man she had seen earlier in the garden while she had been speaking with her uncle.
“ Will he live?”
“ He’s lost a lot of blood and it’s a belly wound. Only time will tell if he will live.” The doctor said looking at her. Dianna moved and helped bandage up the young soldier and then looked at Jeremy.
“ Get her out of here.” Dianna said. Jeremy nodded and ushered Isabelle out of the infirmary.
Once outside he looked at her and could see that her face was pale.
“ Come on that was no place for you and you need to be resting.” He said heading her towards her room. Isabelle didn’t protest, she was tired and after what she saw it was best she lay down before she passed out.
“ Thank you.”
“ Any time Isabelle.”
“ Jeremy do you have a fiancee?”
“ No I don’t I was drafted before I could find myself a wonderful woman like yourself. Your James must be lucky.” Jeremy said as he helped her lay down on the bed.
“ My James hasn’t been heard from in nearly a year, is it wrong for my heart to yearn for another?”
“ Everyone yearns to be loved.” Jeremy said looking at her.
“But is it right that I want to be loved when I have been promised to another?” Isabelle asked looking at him.
“ You’ve been alone along time. Things happen.” Jeremy said. “ Get some rest I will check on you later.” He said leaving her alone.
Jerold sat next to Kevin as the judge looked at them both, Dianna sat in the back of the room, and her hair messed from an emergency she had dealt with prior to coming into the room.
“ Kevin Richardson, you are here by found guilty of all charges.”
“ Your honor please.” Jerold begged thinking of Isabelle.
“ Let me finish Commander. Commander Kevin Richardson, you served your country after you where called to duty even after they had found that you where your daughters only family. You are to remain here in the jail and serve cleaning the stalls until the end of the war. At which time you will be released back into the custody of your daughter and you may return home.” The judge said. “ Are you in agreement of these?”
“ Yes your honor.” Kevin said. He was breathing a sigh of relief that he wouldn’t die or be leaving his Isabelle or Dianna anytime soon.
“ I hate to interrupt but there is an urgent message for Commander Richardson.”
“ Excuse me.” Jerold said hurrying from the room as Dianna moved up to Kevin’s side.
“ Isabelle will be happy about this.” Kevin said holding Dianna’s hand.
“ Yes she will and I am too.” She said looking into his eyes. Kevin looked so tired.
“ Your honor if it pleases the court may I return Mr. Richardson to his cell where I can clean and treat his wound?” Dianna asked facing the judge.
“ Yes, the sentencing has been done. I will be sure there is papers drawn up for Commander Richardson.”
“ Thank you. Come on Kevin.” Dianna said helping Kevin to his feet. She could see that he was tired and that his wound was bleeding again. Kevin stumbled once nearly taking them both to the hard wood floor.
“ Private, if you would be so kind as to help them.”
“ Yes general.” The young soldier said moving forward and helped Dianna with Kevin.
a/n sorry it's taken so long to update, I've had some health issues come up that have haulted the posting but now it's updated :)
Jerold stood next to the young man that had him come from the room.
“ What was it?”
“ There was a messenger that arrived with some news for your niece, I thought you best see it before she does.”
“ What is it?” Jerold said again. The young soldier handed him the envelope and looked away.
I have some horrible news to pass on to you. I know that during this time, you’ve been waiting patiently for any word on my son and it seems that this comes at the worst time that I must tell you that he was killed. We where notified just a few weeks ago. After taking the time to bury our son my husband and I took the time to write you this letter to let you know that James was gone. I am sorry that we could not do this in person but I felt that since my son loved you so much you deserved to know that he was gone. We did receive a letter from him just weeks before we where told that he was killed. In closed is the letter that he wrote for you. When you return home send Mary to our home and we will send the items that James has left for you.
With all our Love.
Samuel and Bridgett Marston.
Jerold looked at the young soldier and then saw that Jeremy was coming back from patrol. Jerold held the letters in his hand as he walked towards where his niece was resting. As he approached Isabelle’s room Jeremy walked up to him.
“ Is there something wrong sir?” Jeremy asked suddenly concerned for Isabelle’s safety.
“ In some ways yes. I must speak to my niece alone.” Jerold said.
“ I’ll wait out here if she needs anything.” Jeremy said sitting down just outside the room. He wasn’t sure what was going on but was sure it had to do with the letter Jerold held in his hand. Jerold lightly knocked on the door and then entered the room.
Isabelle looked up at her uncle as he entered.
“ Is father ok?”
“ Yes Kevin is fine, he’ll be in the jail here until the end of the war, at which time he will be released to return home with you. I would like you to remain here with us until that time.” Jerold said. Isabelle let a few tears roll down her cheeks but knew that at least her father wasn’t being hanged.
“ You seem disturbed is there something wrong uncle?”
“ I received this letter a short time ago, it’s for you.” Jerold said handing the letter to her. Isabelle took the letter and knew the crest well. Several times she had received letters from James’s parents while he was away and wondered if maybe he had come home and was calling for her. As her eyes skimmed the letter she began to tear up as she finished the letter she was sobbing.
“ He’s gone?” She asked looking at her uncle.
“ I’m afraid so.” Jerold said holding his arms open, Isabelle moved into his embrace and held tightly to him as she cried. Jerold looked towards the door and saw that Jeremy was standing there watching them, motioning for him to enter he changed places with the young man and headed to tell Kevin of the death. Jeremy held Isabelle close as she cried he knew she had felt the change but was to distraught to really care at the time.
Jerold entered the jail and saw that Kevin was resting. He hated to disturb him but knew if he didn’t Isabelle would come and tells her father of James’s death and he’d rather tell him himself.
“ Jerold, is there something wrong?” Kevin asked sitting up.
“ There is sad news to report.” Jerold said sitting down outside the cell.
“ What is it?” Kevin asked.
“ A letter was received just an hour ago, James was killed.”
“ Oh no, was Isabelle told?”
“ Yes, I broke the news to her, Jeremy is with her right now. I will return to check on her again. But I felt as her father you had a right to know.”
“ When Isabelle is feeling up to it, have her come see me.”
“ Later this evening to my discretion the judge said I can let you leave the cell, you just cant leave the compound.”
“ I understand.” Kevin said looking at him.
“ I’ll be back.” Jerold said heading out of the jail. Kevin ran his fingers threw his hair and then looked around. Jeremy was a good man and a good man for his daughter, he knew that Isabelle was devastated.
Isabelle had long since gone to sleep and Jerold stepped into the room.
“ How is she?”
“ Tired and distraught. Sir I wish I could do more for her.” Jeremy said looking at him.
“ I believe you’ve done more for her than anyone could right now. You have to get some rest. You’ve got patrol first thing in the morning.”
“ Will she be all right?”
“ Her father will be here shortly.” Jerold said. Jeremy nodded and stepped out of the room just in time to see Kevin walking across the yard.
“ Thank you.” Kevin whispered as he walked past Jeremy.
“ Anytime sir.” Jeremy said heading to his own bunk for some much needed sleep. Kevin knocked lightly on his daughter’s room. Jerold opened the door and let him in.
“ Is she all right?”
“ Jeremy was here till she fell asleep. And I just sent him back to his quarters for some rest.”
“ May I stay with her all night?”
“ Yes, that has been arranged.” Jerold said hugging his brother. Kevin nodded and walked further into the room. He sat down on the chair next to the bed and held Isabelle’s hand. He knew that she’d have nightmares. Kevin watched his daughter sleep wondering what her dreams were filled with.
“ How is she doing?” Dianna asked as Jerold walked past her.
“ Isabelle is doing well, much better than I expected after hearing her fiancee was dead.”
“ Oh my god, maybe I should go be with her.”
“ Kevin’s with her.” Jerold said looking at Dianna. Dianna nodded and decided that the family needed time alone.
Isabelle sat up with a start and looked around the room. She looked to see her father sleeping in the chair next to her bed. Climbing from the bed she lay a blanket over him and kissed his forehead.
She looked up to see Dianna standing near the doorway.
“ You ok?” She asked. Isabelle shook her head and looked towards her father.
“ He’s been here all night?” Isabelle asked.
“ Yes he has. He wanted to be here for you in case you had a nightmare.” Dianna said smiling. Isabelle looked at her sleeping father and knew that maybe things where going to be better for her and her family now. She looked outside to see that the sun was about to rise.
“ I should go help the cook in the kitchen.”
“ Why, he’s got plenty of help and you need your rest young lady.’
“ But I like to help.”
“ Until your feeling 100% I don’t want you helping him. Just stay here with your father and enjoy your time with him ok?”
“ All right.” Isabelle said sitting down on the chair near the door. “ Are you going to visit too?”
“ Later I will. For now you both need your rest, now get back into bed and I’ll come get you when breakfast is ready.” Dianna said looking at Isabelle. Isabelle could swear she had heard her mother’s voice in Dianna’s for that split second. A smile spread across her sad features as she turned and headed back to the bed. Dianna turned and quietly closed the door. She was walking away when she heard the door open.
“ Thank you.” Kevin said quietly. Dianna smiled but never turned towards him.
“ Your welcome get back to bed.” She said as she walked away from the quarters. Kevin smiled and headed back into the room closing the door behind him.
Isabelle woke several hours later to the sounds of shouting. She moved closer to the door and saw several soldiers running past with guns in their hands. Frightened that the events of the convent were happening again she moved away from the door and near to her father.
“ What’s wrong?” He asked her.
“ The soldiers. There is something wrong outside.” Isabelle said holding onto him. The door burst open and Jerold and Dianna quickly entered the room shutting and locking the door behind them.
“ What’s going on?” Kevin asked looking at his brother.
“ There has been an attack on the fort.”
“ By whom?”
“ Southern troops, there are about 200 of them, my men weren’t prepared for this and several have already been killed.”
“ Is fine. Isabelle I need you to be brave.” Jerold said looking at his niece.
“ Yes uncle.” She answered. She looked at Dianna and saw the fear deep in her eyes. She knew that her uncle was keeping things from her but wasn’t about to challenge that. Suddenly she remembered that Brian was still among those that were out side of the room.
“ What about Brian?”
“ They won’t shoot a priest. It’s some kind of code with all soldiers.” Jerold reassured her. “ He is tending to wounded.”
“ But it’s not safe for him.” Isabelle said looking at her uncle.
“ I know but he refused to seek shelter. Brian is a stubborn man has been for a long time.”
“ Yes that he has. It’s all right baby, Brian will be fine.” Kevin said soothing his daughter. He could see that she wasn’t going to be able to handle yet another loss if Brian or Jeremy were killed in this attack.
“ I’ll fight with you. Give me a gun. This is my home now too and I won’t let anyone come and take it.” Kevin said looking at his brother.
“ You’re still very ill brother and I don’t want you getting hurt more than you’ve all ready been.”
“ Let me fight Jerold. I need to do this.” Kevin said standing. Dianna knew that Kevin was as stubborn as Jerold and neither would win this fight.
Nodding Jerold handed Kevin a pistol and headed for the door. Opening it they both slipped out of the room. Dianna moved towards Isabelle and held the smaller woman close.
“ It’ll be fine.” She whispered. Isabelle wasn’t so sure, she had visions of the night the convent had been burned down, and when her own home had been attacked.
It seemed as if the fighting had gone on forever when it suddenly stopped. Silence now became the once chaos that had been there before. The women could hear the soft talking of men moving around outside the room they hid in. Isabelle held tightly to Dianna and looked up as the door slowly opened. Dianna grabbed an object to protect them as the door opened fully. She raised it to defend them when she saw Jeremy enter the room.
“ It’s ok.” Jeremy said raising his hands to deflect the blow.
“ What are you out to get killed?” Dianna scolded him.
“ No ma’am I was told to come check on you both.”
“ Who won?”
“ We did for now. We had help though.”
“ Another unit from the north had seen the fighting and came to help.”
“ How many dead?”
“ Half dozen of ours and at least that of theirs. A few more have been wounded from both sides.”
“All right I will go to the infirmary and help out.” Dianna said standing and leaving the room.
Jeremy looked at Isabelle and held is arms open, she moved into them and held him close.
“ I had feared you had been wounded or worse.”
“ I won’t leave you Issa.” He said moving his fingers slowly over her cheek. Isabelle held onto him tightly and just stood there. Kevin entered the room and saw the two in their embrace. A smile slowly spread over his face.
Several months had passed and Isabelle and Jeremy were growing closer and their love could be seen by all that knew them and even those that didn’t. Dianna and Kevin were nearly inseperateable. Kevin had proclaimed his love for Dianna one night while the two dinned alone.
“ Dianna in these past five months I’ve grown to love you.” Kevin said holding her hand in his.
“ And I have you.” Dianna said turning and looking at him.
“ You’ve filled a place in my heart that I thought was forever empty. After the death of my Kristin I had thought I would be alone forever, but when I met you that all changed.”
“ You make me feel whole.” Dianna said with a smile.
“ I want to keep that feeling. When the war is over, and we can return home I want you to be my wife. Dianna Hamilton will you do the honor of being my wife?” Kevin asked. Dianna smiled and looked at him, Kevin pulled a small diamond ring from his pocket. Tears formed in Dianna’s eyes as Kevin slid it onto her finger.
“ Yes, Yes Kevin I will.” Dianna said kissing him deeply. “ I love you.”
“ I love you more and more every day.” Kevin said lifting her into his arms.
“ Where did you ever get this ring?”
“ It was my mothers. She had been in correspondence with Jerold and he had spoke highly of you, during those letters a package arrived addressed to me. My mother wanted you to have it.”
“ It’s beautiful, but wouldn’t that have been something that Isabelle would have gotten?”
“ Isabelle has many things and I always make sure she has things she wants but this was something my mother wanted you to have.”
“ I will have to thank her when we meet.” Dianna said kissing him again. Kevin pulled Dianna into his lap and kissed her deeply.
Isabelle watched them from the shadows and giggled.
“ What?” Jeremy asked.
“ She said yes. My father asked Dianna to marry him and she said yes.” Isabelle said with a huge smile.
“ They are happy together, and I saw that the very first time he was brought in. When she was treating his wounds. There was a connection between them. Something I’ve never seen.”
“ I’ve only seen it one other time and that was between my mother and father. Dianna makes him happy and that makes me happy.” Isabelle said turning and looking at Jeremy. Jeremy leaned in and kissed her lips softly.
“ But do I make you happy?”
“ Yes you do, I didn’t think I could be happy after James but you make me very happy.” Isabelle said running her fingers over his cheeks. Jeremy kissed her again before standing.
“ You get some sleep and tomorrow you and I will have our dinner together.”
“ Where are you going?” Isabelle asked.
“ I have to do patrol tonight, but I will see you in the morning before breakfast.” He said kissing her again.
“ Be safe my love.” Isabelle said as he turned and left her.
“ I will. I love you.” Jeremy said as he vanished into the darkness.
Kevin walked hand in hand with Dianna as they made their way back to her quarters.
“ What?” She asked.
“ I will leave you tonight my love.” Kevin said kissing her lips.
“ Where are you going?” She asked.
“ To my quarters, you are a lady and as such shall sleep alone until the night of our wedding.” Kevin said with a smile. Dianna pulled his face down to hers as she kissed him passionately.
“ For now.” She whispered as she pulled away.
She ran her fingers over Kevin’s lip and then held his face in her hands.
“ I love to see your eyes sparkle like that. To see the mischief that lies deep within them.” Kevin said.
“ Well kind sir, you will see more than that soon enough.” Dianna said with a sly grin.
“ I bet I will.” Kevin said as Dianna pulled him into her room and closed the door.
“ Stay with me tonight.”
“ It’s not proper.”
“ I didn’t say sleep with me. I asked you to stay with me.” Dianna said looking at him.
“ But how can I share the bed with a beautiful woman and contain myself.” Kevin said with a grin.
“ You will or the commander will castrate you.” Dianna said laughing.
“ Very true. All right, I shall stay with you this evening.” Kevin said, he knew it would be good to feel a woman in his arms again, and know that woman wasn’t his daughter.
Isabelle stood outside her quarters looking at the sunrise. She had woke early when she had heard some soldiers enter the camp. She had been told they were safe but she didn’t sleep well after the recent attack. She looked to see Jeremy walking towards her.
“ I would have assumed you’d still be sleeping.” Jeremy said kissing her cheek.
“ I heard the soldiers enter the camp. What is going on?”
“ They have news but I don’t know what kind.” Jeremy said looking into her eyes.
“ I want this war to be over. I’ve lost so much.”
“ As have I. But I’ve found something too.” Jeremy said looking into her eyes, he loved her with all his heart and had since she had arrived in the camp a year before. Her soft spoken nature and high-spirited love of life.
“ Yes?” She said looking up at him. Jeremy moved her hair from her face.
“ I love you.” Jeremy said kissing her lips.
“ I love you too, and you are the reason that I smile again.” She said to him. Jeremy looked to see Kevin exiting Dianna’s quarters.
“ I have something to ask you when this war is over. But until then keep this small pin.”
“ It’s lovely.” She said as he pinned it to her dress.
“ It’s as lovely as you are. I will be back. I am going to get a few hours rest.” Jeremy said kissing her lips softly and then turning and walking away from her. Kevin stood next to Isabelle and smiled.
“ I sense that there will be two weddings soon.” Kevin said kissing her cheek.
“ I believe you are right father. I heard you ask Dianna to marry you. I am so happy for you.”
“ I am glad that you approve.”
“ Dianna is a wonderful woman and you need someone like her in your life. Mother would approve.” She said with a smile.
“ I believe your right.”
“ I am going to wash and dress for breakfast. Jeremy said that there are some soldiers here with news.”
“ Maybe it’s some good news.” Kevin said. Isabelle smiled and kissed his cheek before disappearing into her room.
Jerold sat behind his desk as the three men stood before him.
“ What is the news?” Jerold asked.
“ We have news of the war sir.”
“ I gathered that. What is it?”
“ General Lee has surrendered to General Grant.” The young soldier told Jerold.
“ Lee surrendered sir.”
“ About five days ago sir.”
“ At Appomattox.”
“ I’ll be damned. Gather all the soldiers even the wounded.”
“ Yes sir.” The soldiers quickly left the room. Jerold smiled and stood, smoothing out the wrinkles in his uniform he walked around the desk and headed from the room. He could see that several soldiers where helping the wounded into the courtyard. Kevin walked towards his brother wondering what the big deal was about. Jerold motioned for him to stay where he was, waiting until he knew that all of his men and those that had been brought there wounded where assembled he spoke.
“ I’ve been given some news.” Jerold started.
“ What is it sir?”
“ General Robert E Lee has surrendered to General Ulysses S Grant at Appomattox. The war is over.” Jerold said happily.
The soldiers that were assembled shouted happily. Jerold knew that it would be a hard transition for the southerners to go back to their lives and he wasn’t entirely sure what President Lincoln had in store for them, but he at least knew that war was over. Jerold turned to see Dianna kissing Kevin deeply, he knew that there would be a wedding come spring.
“ Are you sure?” Kevin asked walking towards his brother.
“ Yes, I have the signed paper declaring the war has ended.”
“ But we don’t know what President Lincoln is going to be doing but we know that the war is done and you can go home.”
“ What ever is left of it. Isabelle said that it had been attacked when she had been originally brought here.”
“ I had heard the same thing. But there has to be something still standing. For now be happy of our good fortune that we’ve finally stopped fighting.”
“ Finally.” Kevin said as Isabelle hugged them both and then happily hurried into Jeremy’s waiting arms.
Kevin paced the small room wondering what was to be done that day. Many of the younger soldiers had been relocated to help with the remainder of the fighting; the injured where being prepared to be moved to the large hospital that was a three days ride from the fort.
“ Jerold I thought you’d be reading your troops?” Kevin said seeing his brother entering the room.
“ I asked for a three week ferlow while I help you and Isabelle back to your home.”
“ We have Jeremy, I had assumed that your troops would need you.”
“ Not really. With the war over many of the soldiers where told to return home so I finally decided that it was time to bond with my family again, I’ve been gone to long.” Jerold said looking at his little brother.
“ Yes you have, and I agree we will need some help getting home.”
“ Are you saying that cause you want me along? Or cause of Jeremy and Isabelle?”
“ Both OK. Plus I wanted to be sure the house was safe. With Dianne and Isabelle returning to the plantation I didn’t want them getting hurt if anyone that was against the south still remained.” Kevin said looking at him. Jerold laughed and patted his brother on the back.
“ I understand. Let’s go home. Isabelle, Jeremy let’s go.” Jerold called to the two lovers. Jeremy helped Isabelle into the waiting carriage and then looked at Kevin.
“ Will you be riding with her sir?”
“ Yes, it’s near to impossible for me to walk in this state. Plus I want to be riding with my two lovely ladies.”
“ All right, commander do you have your horse?”
“ Yes I do, fetch my horse and Kevin’s from the barn and then we will set off.”
“ What do you think your going to ride boy?” Jerold asked.
“ Good point sir.” Jeremy said heading off to the bar to retrieve the two horses. Once they mounted and Dianne had joined them again they were off to the Richardson plantation.
Kevin saw the large entrance to the plantation come into view. He had often wondered if there would even be a house for them to return to.
“ I bet the house still stands.” Isabelle said breaking into his thoughts.
“ I am not so sure about that.” Jerold said pointing to the large estate.
“ Oh no.” Isabelle said, tears rolled down her cheeks, her father had had the house built for her mother and now over half was burned to the ground.
“ It will be all right Issy.” Kevin said touching her arm. Isabelle smiled and then looked at Dianne.
“ It was a beautiful house.” Isabelle said.
“ It still is, just needs a little work.” Dianne said looking at the house. Over half of it was burned down and what remained seemed to have broken windows and even the large arch that made the front entrance was gone.
“ Welcome home.” Kevin said quietly.
“ Yeah what’s left of it.” Isabelle said from her place at her father’s side.
“ It will be the same pristine place that you grew up in Isabelle. Just give the workers time. Remember we were at war for so long.”
“ I know, mother would have been sad to see the house in such disrepair.”
“ I know, but we will rebuild and we will have the best house this side of Alabama.”
“ Daddy that is strange to say, we have the best house in Kentucky, well we did until the war.”
“ I know darlin I know.” Kevin said slowly getting out of the carriage.
“Master Kevin?” A young man said walking towards him.
“ Yes sir, it’s been three years sir, we worried you and Miss Isabelle had parished in the war.”
“ We are safe, some minor injuries but safe. You and your family stayed here?”
“ Yes sir, you freed us before going off to the war, and when Miss Isabelle and Father Brian had been captured we wanted to stay and protect your home.” Arthur said looking at Kevin.
“ Did anyone else stay?”
“ Yes sir, Marie and Martin and Matthew and Penny stayed sir. We wanted to keep this house in good condition. It’s in disrepair but workers are coming from town to help work on it.”
“ By who’s orders?”
“ Your brother sir. Master Jim was here.”
“ Looks like our other brother stepped out of the shadows huh Jerold?”
“ Looks like it.” Jerold said from his place on the horse.
“ The bedrooms and the main part of the house is still intact if you’d like to come inside out of the cold.” Marie said from the doorway.
“ Marie, I’ve missed you.” Isabelle said hugging the older woman.
“ Shush now child everything is fine.” Marie said hugging the smaller girl close. Jeremy walked up behind her with a smile on his face.
“ It’s a right nice thing you did escorting the Richardson’s home.” Marie said looking up into Jeremy’s eyes.
“ Actually Marie this is Jeremy, he kept me safe during the war, while father was ill, we’ve become close.”
“ Are you going to be callin on a soon to be married lady?” The older woman asked.
“ Marie, it’s fine.”
“ But what about Master James?” She asked looking into Isabelle’s eyes. Isabelle for the first time thought of James and looked down at the ring she still wore on her finger. The thoughts of his never returning flooded her mind; tears threatened to fall down her pink cheeks.
“ Marie, James was killed during the war, Isabelle was told of this just a few months ago. Her heart had already started to belong to young Jeremy here. I guess when a lonely girl is left to find someone that understands love is found in a different place.” Kevin said looking at Marie and then towards Dianne.
“ Oh I am sorry Miss Isabelle. Please forgive my forwardness, I’ve cared for Isabelle like my own child while her mother was ill.”
“ It’s all right Marie.” Jeremy said looking at her. Marie nodded and stepped aside as everyone entered the large house.
“ Wow.” Dianne said looking around. The house was nearly as large as her own but the staircase that lead up to the second floor seemed to almost glitter in the candle light.
“ Come it’s time for us to retire for the night. Marie will show you to your rooms.” Kevin said making his way slowly up the staircase. Marie nodded and showed the others where they’d rest for the night.
“ Are you not hungry sir? We could have Matthew find Penny and little Celia and start supper.”
“ My goodness with all that has gone on I’ve completely forgotten the time. Please have them prepare supper and then send someone to get us.” Kevin said. “ And Marie, make sure there is enough for my entire family, all of them.” Kevin added looking at her. Marie smiled knowing what he meant as she made her way down the stairs to fetch the others.
As promised Marie returned to get everyone for supper, Kevin was tired but agreed to come down and eat a little something. He sat with Isabelle at his right and Dianne sat at his left. Jerold, Jeremy and the remaining staff sat around the table to enjoy a nice quiet meal. Jerold seemed to enjoy watching his brother interact with what were once his slaves.
“ So tell me why didn’t any of you leave?”
“ Master Kevin was a kind master, never beating any of us, and seeming to treat us all like family. My Marie and I had been here the longest, nearly raising Miss Isabelle from her birth.”
“ Yes that is very true, Marie and Arthur have been here since we first built this house. Arthur actually helped in the final construction which was the arch way outside.” Kevin said looking at the older couple.
“ How many of the freed slaves remain?”
“ A total of four of us, well actually seven with young Celia. But most of us keep to ourselves and come and go as we please.” Adam said.
“ It seems that a lot has changed. But our family still remains the same.” Isabelle said looking at the group gathered around the table.
The wedding was only a few hours away. She had taken the time to go and see him, her long teal dress flowing in the wind as she looked at his gravestone.
“ My Dearest James. How much I’ve missed you.” Isabelle said touching the stone with her fingers.
“ How much there is to tell you. I’ve met a wonderful man that wants to make me his wife. I wanted to wait, and have but now it’s nearly time for that day to finally come true. I had often wished that it was still you that I was to marry, but I know that you approve of this marriage and are watching us both from heaven.”
“ They are happy.” Kevin said walking up to her. Isabelle turned and looked at him, the silver and black cane he carried was all that reminded them of his time in the war, the reconstruction of their home reminded them of how much everyone had lost in those years.
“ Yes they are, and I know that Dianne makes you happy. And today she becomes your wife.”
“ And with you by my side to welcome her into the family I couldn’t be happier.”
“ Then come we’ve got guests arriving and your bride will be wondering if you changed your mind.”
“ I’d never change my mind, but I guess if we don’t get there she might.” Kevin said with a laugh.
Isabelle smiled and climbed back into the dark carriage they had come in. She knew that her father was happy and even if it had been nearly a year since they had returned home, he was excited that he was finally going to marry the woman he loved, the woman that helped fill the place in his heart that had died when Kristin had.
Kevin walked threw the large doors of the house and headed up the stairs, Isabelle headed to the room that was below the staircase.
“ HI.” Isabelle said as she entered.
“ Where have you been?” Dianne’s frantic voice asked from behind the small curtain.
“ Sorry, I needed to talk to someone and so did dad. Why don’t you come out from behind there so I can help you with your corset?” Isabelle said trying not to laugh. Dianne stepped out from behind the curtain, and Isabelle smiled.
“ You look lovely.” Isabelle said walking up to her, the dress was long and had a pale pink bodice with little embroidered baby rose buds over the organza, the dress was worn so that it was slightly off her shoulders, the long white dress was set off by the pink silk underskirt. Isabelle moved behind Dianne and hooked the small delicate hooks and tied the bodice as tightly as Dianne had instructed. She could see the beautiful neckline that had more flowers and ostrich plumes, this dress was one of a kind and she could tell.
“ Been waiting a while for this day?” Isabelle asked as she fastened the pearl necklace around her neck.
“ Very much so. Do you like my dress?”
“ Yes very much.”
“ Father ordered it specially made. Took nearly a year to finish making it.”
“ It’s very beautiful, and it makes you look even more breath taking than before, my father will be swept away.” Isabelle said as Dianne turned and faced her, Dianne’s dark hair was pulled up in a beautiful bun and a headpiece was placed neatly on top, setting off the pale pink of the lacy vale.
Dianne kept playing with the gloves she held in her hands and the small diamond ring she wore.
“ I am so scared.”
“ Don’t be, just remember it’s my father down there waiting for you.” Isabelle said handing her a bouquet of flowers that consisted of red, pink and white roses tied neatly together with a strand of lace.
“ I sure hope he hasn’t changed his mind.”
“ Believe me he hasn’t. But to set your mind at ease I will go and check on him, your mother wanted to talk to you anyway.” Isabelle said hugging the woman before exiting the room letting an older woman in.
Kevin paced the small room he had been instructed to wait in. He hated waiting; he wasn’t this nervous marring Kristin. He turned when he heard a knock at the door.
“ Come in.” He said thinking it was Jeremy or one of his family.
“ Hi dad.” Isabelle said with a smile. He hadn’t seen her since they had returned to the house and was grateful that it was her that had come to see him.
“ Hey, Issy what brings you here?”
“ Seeing your nervous bride’s mind at ease and checking on you. My you look handsome.” Isabelle said walking forward. Her father was dressed in a black suit that was set off by the white shirt and neatly tied necktie. The slightly ruffled shirt under the jacket set off the suit.
“ Thank you, how is Dianne?”
“ She’s as nervous as you are. Uncle Jerold said that he’d be in shortly to get you. Everyone has arrived and are anxiously awaiting the start of the ceremony. As am I.” Isabelle said turning and looking towards the door.
“ I know. I’ll see you after the ceremony.” Kevin said turning her and hugging her tightly.
“ I know you will. I love you dad.” She said kissing his cheek before exiting the room quickly. Jerold smiled at his niece as he entered the room to get his brother.
“ You look beautiful.” Jeremy said pulling her into his arms.
“ You look handsome. I can’t wait until we do this.”
“ Only a few more weeks my love.” Jeremy said kissing her quickly.
“ I’ve got to go. Dianne is going to be a wreck if I don’t return.” Isabelle said wiggling out of his gasp. She hurried back towards where Dianne had been and then heard the music start.
“ Time to go.” Isabelle said as she opened the door. Dianne looked up at her and nodded, taking her father’s arm she followed Isabelle to the entry of the room. Isabelle waited and walked down the isle and then took her place near the minister. The music changed and everyone turned their attention to the doorway, Dianne walked threw the doorway with her father as people smiled at her. Her vale was pulled over her face as she walked closer to Kevin. Kevin couldn’t believe that she was so beautiful and how much like an angel she looked. Her father turned and kissed his daughter before placing her arm on Kevin’s.
“ Take good care of my little girl.”
“ I will sir.” Kevin said before taking Dianne’s hand and walking closer to the minister for the ceremony to begin
“ Dearly beloved we are gathered here today in the sight of god, friends and family to join these two people in holy matrimony.” The preacher began; he looked at the two and smiled.
“ It has taken a long time for two people such as these to find love, and with love comes the commitment of marriage.” He said looking towards Kevin.
“ Kevin and Dianna have written their own vows to each other.” The preacher said. Kevin took Dianna’s hand in his own and smiled.
“ Dianna, from the first day I lay eyes on you I knew that I was in love. You were the first thing I saw when I arrived in the camp and you always seemed to be the last thing I saw before I went to sleep every night. You stood by my side during the trial and never once did your love for me ever waver, you helped heal my heart, soul and body during a time where I thought I had lost everything. I pledge my heart, soul and body to you and that I wish for us to be together forever.” Kevin said to her, he could see the tears rolling down Dianna’s cheeks. She slowly composed herself before she started to speak.
“ Kevin, since the first day I saw you come into the camp, how lonely you looked while you lay in the bed. How much your eyes seemed to light up and the smallest mention of your daughter’s name. I knew that someday I wanted to be a part of that life with you. You’ve got a kind heart and when I first learned that you had already been married once I wondered if you had room in your heart for another. But you proved to me that you did and I stood by you no matter what. I waited and saw all things that came our way and the times I thought I could lose you forever. Today I pledge my heart, mind and soul to you forever and I promise that I will be faithful and true to our love.” Dianna said looking into his deep green eyes.
“ Now that the vows have been said, that a pledge has been made. It’s time to exchange the rings.” He said looking towards the young boy that held the rings. The young man handed them to Jerold and Jerold put them in Kevin’s hand. Kevin placed the two golden bands in the center of the bible.
“ These rings symbolize your eternal love for each other. A circle with no ending as should be your love for each other. Kevin if you’d place the ring on her finger and repeat after me.” He said. Kevin nodded and placed the ring on Dianna’s finger.
“ With this ring I thee wed.”
“ With this ring I thee wed.” Kevin said looking into Dianna’s dark brown eyes.
“ Dianna if you’d do the same.” He said looking towards Dianna.
“ With this ring I thee wed.”
“ With this ring I thee wed.” Dianna said with a smile on her face.
“ Now what god has brought together let no man separate. I now pronounce you man and wife, you may kiss your bride.” The preacher said. Kevin didn’t need any coaxing on that as he lifted the vale that covered Dianna’s face and brought her lips to his own. Cheers could be heard as Kevin pulled away breaking the kiss.
“ I would like to introduce for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Richardson.” He said with a smile. Kevin took Dianna’s hand and turned and faced the group. He smiled towards Isabelle and then looked at his brother. Jerold nodded and smiled as Kevin took Dianna’s arm and walked back down the isle she had come down.
The reception that followed the ceremony was a gala event. All the aristocrats from neighboring plantations and both Kevin’s and Dianna’s families had assembled to wish the newly weds good fortune. Kevin walked over to Isabelle as she talked quietly to Jeremy.
“ Can I borrow my daughter for a moment?” Kevin asked.
“ Sure. I’ll go congratulate Dianna.” Jeremy said kissing Isabelle’s cheek before turning and walking into the crowd.
“ What is it dad?” She asked looking into his eyes.
“ I wanted to check on my daughter.”
“ I would have thought you wouldn’t want to let your new wife from your side.” Isabelle teased him.
“ Her father wanted to dance with her and I felt the need to dance with my own daughter.” Kevin said looking towards the dance floor where Dianna danced gracefully with her father. Isabelle smiled and took her father’s hand as he led her to the dance floor. Many of the guests had taken this cue to start dancing themselves.
As the night wore on Isabelle watched as the guests slowly said their goodbye and left the house. She loved to see the old plantation full of life again and knew in just a few short weeks it would be again. She had seen her father and Dianna sneak off after the cake cutting. She knew where they had gone and knew that by morning they’d be boarding a boat for England, where they would spend their honeymoon. A smile spread across her face as she thought of the happiness Dianna would bring to her father.
“ What are you thinking about?” Jeremy asked as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“ How happy I am for my father and Dianna and how much I know I have that.” Isabelle said turning and facing him.
“ We will as soon as your father returns, be wed. And I can finally show you how much I truly love you.” Jeremy said kissing her passionately.
“ I know but until then you are to return to you families home and then return when father returns in two weeks.”
“ I know, I leave in the morning right after your father and Dianna do.”
“ I love you Jeremy.”
“ I love you too Issa.” He said.
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