Chapter 1

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Two months later...

Charles. Well, Radcliffe, you are on your way home at last.

Edwin. I am glad of that. I cannot wait to be home with my girls.

Charles. I just hope they don't become too surprised when they see you in the wheelchair.

Edwin. I hope they don't, myself. I have explained everything in the letter to them. Besides, the doctors here couldn't do much for the spine. Except give me pain relief, which I was greatly appreciate of of.

Charles. Do you think your daughters are going to understand your situation?

Edwin. Yes, I believe they will. My daughters are quite smart. Although they are young, they observe and absorb quite a bit.

Charles. That sounds like my girls. Although they are the youngest, they are very smart. Children pick up on things very quickly.

Edwin. They do. His eyes fall on William Oxford, who is looking at a pair of watches that his brothers have left behind, Richard's gold with diamonds, and Edwards silver with sapphires.

Charles. Are you all right, oxford?

William. As all right as I can be, general. I still cannot believe I lost my brothers two months ago. I also cannot believe I was shot in the shoulder by a German bastard. He places one hand on his left shoulder where he has been shot.

Charles. Well, be grateful that you and Radcliffe are alive and on your way back to your families.

Williams brown eyes flash with anger. Edwin and I might be going back to our families, but Katherine and Maria have been both left as widows! How do you think that makes the two of us feel, when we return to Olivia and Sophia? How was that going to make them feel that their husbands are not coming home? His voice breaks.

Edwin places one hand on his right shoulder. It's going to be hard, my friend, but all of you can come to Lakewood house whenever you would like.

William. Are you sure? There will be plenty of children running around.

Edwin chuckles. Olivia and I are not going to mind. We have hosted plenty of gatherings over the last five years. If you should ever need anything, do not hesitate to call.

William hugs him gently. Thank you my dear Radcliffe.

Edwin. You're welcome.

After a few last minute things have been situated, including a more accessible and larger coach for Edwin's wheelchair, the two of them, with Charles on horseback, make their way from the battlefield back to London.

As he feels the coach move beneath the wheels of the wheelchair, Edwin realizes that this is his new fate, that he is never going to be able to walk again. However, that does not dampen his spirits. His heart longs to be with his wife and daughters. Longs to hold Olivia close. Longs to hear Amelia, Nora, and Mary laughing and giggling in the hallway.

William. You are looking forward to getting to see your family, aren't you?

Edwin. I have been anxious to see them for the last six months.

William. I do not blame you. I am anxious to see my family as well.

Charles. Not much farther, gentlemen. About another 6 miles.

Edwin leans back in his seat. If they were lucky, they would return to London in about another hour or so.

***

Two hours later, all three gentlemen begin to feel their hearts fly in their chest as they notice the Lakewood house coming into view.

Charles. I believe this is your stop, Edwin.

Edwin gives him a smile. Indeed, it is, Charles. Thank you to you both for what you have done for me. If it wasn't for you, I do not believe I would've been alive.

William. It's our pleasure.

Charles. A fellow soldier never leaves a good man behind. We help those who are in need of it.

As the coach comes to a stop in front of Lakewood house, Edwin notices Alexander rushing out of the house towards him, Isabella right behind him. A few paces behind, he notices Amelia, Nora, and Mary behind them. And behind his daughters, he notices Olivia.

Edwin's eyes well up with tears as he watches his family and friends make their way toward him. At last, he is home.

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