Chapter Five - Colonel Tarleton

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Tarleton considered himself a man of honor and prided himself in the fierce devotion he displayed towards his country. Many disputed his honor, however no one, lest they were an absolute fool, could argue his loyalty to England. He was more than willing to die for the nation he called home and was nearly driven to madness for love of it. This patriotism mixed with ambition were the true causes behind the passion and spirit for which he was known. The ruthless nature so often a part of him, however, was another matter entirely.

"Has the property been secured?"

Mounted atop his chestnut stallion as stiff as a beam and with a look that commanded respect, the Colonel was a beacon of authority to all his men. He was a natural leader in possession of fine qualities but they were all but unknown to most due to the nasty taint of his temper and cruelness.

"Yes, Sir! Those rebels who last occupied the property are long gone."

"Very well, Private Lorry. Set up camp then. The officers and I will take the house and the rest of you can pitch tents in the fields."

"Of course, Colonel, right away."

"Before you're off, tell Sargent Wilkins to gather all the ranking officers for a meeting this evening. It is most urgent but I shall wait until the house has been made into a proper headquarters first before discussing it with them."

"Yes, Sir."

Responded the young private, although a boy no older than nineteen, he was only seven years his commander's junior.

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It was a wonderful feeling to be able to rest in a bed once more instead of a stiff, uncomfortable cot, Tarleton thought to himself. He had decided that he deserved a moment's rest before dinner and the meeting with his ranking officers afterwards. So, he laid atop the bed in the master bedroom, which he had claimed for himself, fully clad in his uniform and boots.

Staring up at the ceiling, the Colonel tried to relax, resting an arm casually beneath his head and filling his mind with absolute nothings. It was all a vain attempt, however, for his mind was never truly at ease. The Colonel was always pondering, always filling his head with military plans, duties, strategy, novels - anything to keep it busy. The moment he tried to rest it and let his guard down even slightly, the ghosts of his past would come rushing in upon him, clinging for dear life to his conscience. That never failed to produce in him agonies most horrific and unbearable.

He would go into a cold sweat and tremble with fears, guilt, and shame unknown to anyone but himself. It was like a sickness which never really went away. The only remedy which could be counted upon to suppress such painful thoughts until the next time they should resurface was to write in a small leather-bound diary kept privately in his breast-coat pocket.

He would slip the book out from his uniform jacket and with pen and ink recount his day with a most fervent passion. It drew the pain from him like bloodletting from a sick patient and transferred his anguish into the unjudging pages of a notebook.

He had already filled up three since the troubling of his mind had began.

The Colonel's state was not the result of insanity, but rather the consequence of events he could not have controlled. Misfortunes which had lead him to commit ugly wrongs were what brought him to his present state of affairs. For he would have surely been a respectable gentleman happily settled in some comfortable estate in England had things only been different.

The Colonel let out a sigh of relief after furiously penning two pages filled with regrets and troubles both new and old. He was lucky. Some days it took ten, fifteen, even twenty pages to let out all the pain that was within him.

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