Chapter 17

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"You must really take me for a fool, Juliana." Juliana sat on a little stool while Joseph Robinson circled her like a vulture. "You expect me to believe that you, someone who's become so close to Tavington, have absolutely no knowledge about his military plans?"

"I'm just a slave," Juliana said meekly.

Robinson laughed. "Just a slave? We've had this conversation before, remember? In town? That whole innocent 'just a slave' act won't work on me. You and Tavington aren't very good at hiding the true nature of your relationship. You should realize by now that it's obvious to anyone paying attention." Robinson bent down in front of Juliana, looking her dead in the eye. "Tell me about the Dragoons' troop movements," he demanded.

"I don't know anything about what the Colonel does when he's away from the house," Juliana said.

Robinson stood upright and glared down at Juliana skeptically. He nodded slowly. "We'll see how much you know."

xxx

One week passed. Then two. Soon a month had passed since the night Tavington had lost Juliana. He was beginning to see the reality of the situation by this point. She was gone, and he wasn't going to get her back. As a result, he'd closed up his house in Charles Town and relocated to officer's quarters at Fort Carolina, taking William with him to be his manservant. He'd almost completely put the situation to rest in his mind ... until William approached him one evening with unexpected news.

"Colonel Tavington?" William said, standing in the doorway of Tavington's room.

Tavington didn't turn around at his desk or otherwise take his eyes from his work. "Yes, William, what is it?" he said.

"Sir, I think I know what happened to Juliana and the others," the slave said timidly.

This time, Tavington did turn in his chair and look at his servant.

xxx

"William, tell His Lordship exactly what you told me," Tavington instructed.

William sat in a chair surrounded by Tavington, Cornwallis, and O'Hara, all standing, in Cornwallis's Fort Carolina office.

William nodded, ready to oblige. "Yes, sir. When I was in Charles Town today, I overheard these two women — slaves, sir — talkin' about this man named Joseph Robinson. They say he used to walk around in a Redcoat uniform, but they say he wasn't no Redcoat officer. They said he was workin' for the rebel army. And they said he wasn't alone, said there was others who was like him, rebels pretendin' to be Redcoats. When they said he was a negro, I knew they had to be talkin' about one of the same men who sneaked into the party that night."

"How do you know that?" O'Hara questioned.

"Because, sir, one of the men who took Colonel Tavington's slaves away that night was a negro in a Redcoat uniform," William replied.

Tavington turned to Cornwallis. "My lord, I believe that if we find this man Robinson, we can locate the rest of his group," Tavington said optimistically.

"I understand your desire to see justice prevail, Colonel Tavington," Cornwallis began, "however, now that time has provided us some distance from the unfortunate event, I have had the opportunity to reevaluate the situation with a more objective eye. In doing so, I find that I am hesitant to rush into action on this matter."

"My lord?" Tavington couldn't believe his ears. Here they were, being practically handed a group of rebel criminals, and Cornwallis didn't want to act.

"Colonel, let us look at the actual impact that these dissidents have made so far, shall we?" Cornwallis suggested. "We know of one incident, with certainty, for which this group is responsible. We have to weigh whether it would be worth the risk to us merely to break up a group of small-time rabble."

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