Chapter Eleven - A Prisoner of War

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After returining to her room, Grace slept until dinner was served to her upon a tray in her room. As frustration and anger towards her captor gave way to exhaustion and sleep, Tarleton sat at his desk unable to focus as raging thoughts plowed through his mind. While Grace selpt the day away peacefully and dreamlessly, Tarelton stared wide-awake into the face of a concious nightmare. Neither opening nor closing his eyes could rid him of the torturous scene conjured up by the dark magic of his past. He saw his father standing there as clear as day with his hands behind his back and a scowl on his face. There was a look in his eyes that showed the the extreme disappointment of an honorable man towards his most dishonorable son. The figure before him, a picture of his father as he was before his death seven years prior, pierced Tarelton's soul with utter condemnation. Although his father never lived to bear witness to his son's despicable acts, as the only person Tarelton ever truly loved and genuinely respected his image was always one he associated with the guilt in his heart.

His father would have surely disowned him if he were still alive.

To have discovered that a son for whom he had such prospects for gambled away his entire inheritance, murdered his best friend and was left with nothing but the army to resort to would have been utterly heartbreaking. His actions had tainted his family's reputation for sure. Although he was never formally charged with the murder of his friend and his gambling put only himself in debt with no financial affect on the rest of his relations, he knew his brothers and mother would have nothing to do with him until he could prove himself worthy again of the family name. He was trapped: too used to wealth and comfort to abandon his hopes of being accepted back onto the prestigious family of his youth, yet too much invested in the war against America to let even the slightest mistake taint his reputation. Everything rode on his performance as Colonel of the British Legion. For some it was liberty or death, but for Tarelton it was the restoration of his honor or death. The girl sleeping soundlessly in the room above him would never be able to imagine how much she meant to him. She could never know how much his life hung on every breath she breathed under his his guard. She could never know how much he needed her at that moment healthy and most importantly alive.
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The next morning crept in ever so subtly as a dense fog blanketed everything from the dewy grass to the vast horizon. The soupy gray turned the entire landscape into a dim canvas, as if the previous day's storm had washed away all of the color from the earth.

It was the chill of this fog that found its way up Grace's arm and face until her entire body was wracked with a violent shivering that woke her up at once. Out of annoyance and an attempt to recapture her previous warmth and comfort, she crawled further beneath her bed quilts, pressing her knees to her chest for warmth. It was an unusually cold spring morning, unlike any she had known, and it most certainly did not help that her night gown was of a thin linen meant for much warmer weather. She buried herself further in the confides of her quilts until nothing but from her nose up showed from beneath her warm abode. It was only then that she truly began feeling warm and drowsy again to the point where she was only slightly conscious when a knock came at her door. She moaned a loud, though nearly indiscriminate "Who is it?" with about as much eagerness to see who it was that would take her from her newfound comfort as being told to muck out her horse's stall.

"It's me Rebecca, Miss Lewis."

"Come in." She moaned, though a bit less annoyed now at who it was.

Grace could hear the noise of a lock being turned and the door to her room opened with a soft groan.

"What on earth are you doing still in bed, Miss? It's nearly eight thirty in the morning, not a soul's still in their bed except you. Most people 'round here have been up since the crack of dawn."

"Good for them." She muttered, still clutching the warmth of her bed quilts.

"Now I mean it Miss Lewis, it does a lady no good to sleep the day away when she can be spending it on more useful occupations."

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