Chapter One - The Man Without a Heart

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South Carolina, May 13th, 1780

The first rays of sunlight had scarcely brushed the forest that guarded the humble Lewis estate when Grace was unceremoniously awoken and pulled out of bed.

"Gracie! Gracie! Do get up!" cried the girl's younger sister as she shook Grace awake with all her might and attempted to pull her out from beneath the cozy confines of her quilt and bed sheets.

The poor girl shot up with a start after having been abruptly cut off from a pleasant dream filled with marvelous adventures and far-off lands.

Letting out a startled and agitated moan, Grace found herself to be in a foul mood, thinking to herself that had she been allowed to sleep just a few minutes longer her countenance would have been much improved.

Upon noticing the desperate, anxious look etched into the face of her beloved sister, however, Grace quickly disposed of her initial annoyance and replaced it with a look of sisterly concern and affection.

"Whatever is the matter, dear Abigail?"

She spoke softly and tenderly to her sister who began to tremble with fear.

"A messenger has arrived from Papa's regiment..."

There was a tremor in the little girl's soft voice and she looked ready to burst into tears.

"Come here, Abby. Hush now, it's alright.

Grace took her sister up into her arms and the two sat down atop the disheveled bed huddled together as Abigail tried to collect her small self.

Well aware that her sister could be prone to overreacting over small trifles and that they had never received any piece of bad news from their Papa worthy of much despair, Grace, in her drowsy state, hadn't much fear for whatever her sister had to say. She tried to calm her sister with gentle, loving remarks of assurance that whatever it was must not nearly be as bad as it seemed.

Drying up the few stray tears that had found their way onto the docile, pale cheeks of her sister, Grace,  coaxed once more,

"What was it that Papa has sent to us by messenger, Abby dear?"

Mustering up all the courage her little body could gather, Abigail responded to her sister as boldly as she could. The young girl puffed out her chest and blurted out so quickly that each word tumbled into the next almost incoherently, 

"Mama told me that the messenger said he had come the instant after he finished speaking with Papa and is here to warn us of Colonel Tarleton's plan to make camp not half-a-mile away from here where he and his Green Dragoons are to settle. It is said he and his men are already on their way and will be bound to pass very near if not straight through our land by the day's end."

The terrified little girl let out a small cry that sounded like more the squeak of a field mouse and buried her face in the folds of her sister's nightgown.  

"I'm so scared, Gracie! I've heard what Tarleton and his men do to innocent Patriots like us and it terrifies me to know we may well encounter them. To make matters worse, Papa's messenger also said that Charleston was captured by the British just yesterday. There has been no word from Aunt Catherine and it absolutely petrifies me to think she is still there in Charleston all alone with those Redcoats and all while Uncle John is still on business in New York!"

Abigail burst into tears and Grace realized, after noticing for the first time an anxious clatter downstairs, that her sister was right. She was not overacting more than any nine-year-old girl with such news would have. 

Holding the child close to her, Grace gazed out the window nearest her bed. Upon seeing the sweet, dancing rays of the early morning sun peeking up above the hills and bushy treetops, she was filled with an odd sense of both impending dread and hopeful excitement. It would be a day filled with apprehension and no rest until the entire household was packed up and on the road, swiftly abandoning the home which had been so good to them all. She was most sure of this. 

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