Chapter Four - Love and War

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In a bought of breathless excitement the two friends began to speak incessantly to each other on every matter which their hearts could devise. They caught up on every little happening which had been neglected or been far to lengthy to be contained in any one of their letters which had taken countless months to cross the vast Atlantic. With scarcely a breath in between, they spoke of kinder days and dreams of an independence which should afford them and their country overwhelming opportunity and freedom. Such talk spurred a laughter and light-headedness which caused the two to throw care to the wind and in fluid, careless motions whisk various linens, clothes, shoes, books, paper, pens, ink and the few bits of jewelry owned by the family into any number of boxes. The two relished in such magnificent company that the war, Colonel Tarleton, his men and the very thought that they were packing up to leave were all forgotten.

"Remember that party at the Wilkins's the summer before I left for England?" Benedict began with laughter in his eyes as he gently fingered through a book of sheet music he had discovered laying on the floor as they cleared out the small upstairs sitting room.

"Oh, how could I forget? It was positively the best party I have ever attended, and that's saying something for someone who would take a nice evening spent around a fire with a good book or a couple of close friends over a party any day." Grace smiled as she reached over his head to retrieve the last few books off of the shelf above the family piano.

"I must say after I danced that first reel with you I thought for sure you would never want to dance with me again." Placing the book of music down atop the polished black wood of the piano top, he reached over to catch a thick volume which been wavering precariously over the edge of the shelf, quite nearly landing atop Grace's head. Before he could safely set the heavy book down, however, an unseen obstacle on the floor caused Benedict to stumble and almost land on his face, producing a round of laughter from the both of them.

"You were a pretty terrible dancer, I never did see a man so clumsy at the Virginia reel. My feet were bruised for nearly a week after that night." She laughed in spite of herself as a gentlemanly look of mortification took possession of his features.

"Don't look so troubled, Ben, I had been enjoying myself so much that I hardly noticed the pain until the next morning."

"I pray that my horrid dancing put no damper on the joys of that lovely night for you." There was a twinkle in his blue eyes, shining brightly like the sky after a violent storm as he suddenly took her hands in his.

"Oh no! Not at all! Your awful dancing was the highlight of the evening. I would not have given up taking a turn with you across the room had the finest dancer in all the colonies asked me to dance."

"I hope then that next time we find ourselves together on the dance floor you will find my skills much improved."

"Is that so?" She teased.

"I will let you be the judge of that." Placing one hand gently on her waist and another in her other hand he took her twirling and dancing about the room. As he hummed a lovely melody to keep time to, their feet glided across the floor in perfect sync. Benedict had most certainly not been lying about his greatly improved dancing skills. They were a difference between night and day. It was as if she scarcely knew this man who so elegantly swept her off her feet with arms that were strong and gentle, possessing a newfound confidence.

"Wherever did you learn how to dance like this?" Grace spoke breathlessly as he swept her into the air for a moment before expertly setting her back down. Not once did he touch her feet as they danced quickly and excitedly about the room.

"Oh, I was dragged off by a few of my English acquaintances to dance lessons every time there was a ball to attend, although I always told them I had no intention of going to any ball. You were the only reason I would allow myself to be swept up in all the most fashionable minuets, reels, and foxtrots of London high society. I hadn't any time to attend more than a few balls to practice my skills, however, so I hope the lessons paid off."

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