A/N: Hey everyone! I know it’s been forever since my last chapter, and I hope some of you out there are still keeping up with this. I know this one’s short, but it gets me where I need to go, as far as the story goes. This is most likely the next to the last chapter, so stay tuned!
One week passed. Then two. Soon, it was three weeks before Lydia learned anything of her sister since the latter had left on her mission to find the wounded Tavington. Sam Parker, Juliana’s guide for her trek, returned.
When he appeared at the door, Lydia peered past him, expecting to see Juliana, making her way to the house behind him. But no one stood behind Sam. He was all alone.
“Where is she?” Lydia asked him.
Sam and William sat at the kitchen table, while Lydia moved away from the hearth with a steaming mug of cider. She walked over to the table and placed mug in front of Sam.
“Where’s my sister?” Lydia asked, taking a seat directly across from Sam. “Why did you leave her behind?”
“I didn’t exactly leave her behind, ma’am,” Sam began. “At least not in the way, I suspect, you believe.”
“Then, what happened,” Lydia pressed. “Why isn’t she with you?”
Sam brought the mug to his lips and slowly tested the hot liquid. He set it back down on the table before speaking again. “Your sister wanted to stay,” Sam said.
The news frustrated and angered Lydia, but it didn’t exactly surprise her. She knew how devoted Juliana was to Tavington. She’d heard it from her sister’s own mouth as well as from William and Jenny. While Lydia understood and respected how her sister felt, she still didn’t agree with it. A woman’s children were supposed to be her top priority. She wasn’t supposed to go chasing some man around the colony.
“She’s still at Cowpens?” Lydia asked.
“No. She’s at Fort Carolina,” Sam said. “We went to Cowpens first. But then, we found out that Colonel Tavington had been moved to Fort Carolina. So, we kept ridin’, and we reached the fort the next day.”
“Did she get to see the colonel?” William asked.
“She sure did,” Sam replied. “I was right there with her when she walked into his room. Oh, he was a sorry sight, indeed.”
“Is he gonna die?” William asked.
Sam shook his head. “I can’t say for sure. To tell the truth, he didn’t look all that much alive when I was there. But Juliana must have seen something that I didn’t, ’cause as soon as she saw him laid up on that bed, she went right to him. She said she wasn’t leavin’ his side until he was better.”
“She’s just gonna stay there and wait?” Lydia asked. “What about her children?” She watched Sam expectedly, waiting for an answer. None came.
Lydia placed Daniel in the crib beside Helena. It had taken her forever, it seemed, to get the little boy to close his eyes and go to sleep. But Lydia was certainly used to it by now. After two months of caring for both him and his sister, she had grown accustomed to many things that she never thought she’d have the opportunity to experience so soon after losing her own child.
“The Lord is truly mysterious,” Lydia said to herself. “Yes, indeed.”
William met Lydia as she was leaving the bedroom. “The post is here,” he said.
This wasn’t extraordinary news, so Lydia wondered why William was telling her this. It didn’t usually require an announcement. He usually left the day’s correspondence in the colonel’s study. Her eyes fell to the letter in William’s hands. He offered it to her, and she accepted, turning it over in her hands so that she could read the front of the envelope.
“It was brought by a military rider,” William said.
Lydia hurriedly broke the seal and pulled out the letter. This has to be from her, she thought, diving into the contents of the letter. She walked over and sat down in the nearest chair as she began to read.
“My Dear Lydia, I apologize for not sending word as to my whereabouts sooner than this. I realize that I have been away for quite some time now, and I’m more than aware of the great burden I suddenly left you with in asking you to take care of Daniel and Lena. I thank you for your support and devotion, Dear Sister. You’ll never know how much it means to me. For the moment, I remain at Fort Carolina, with Will. He’s doing quite well, actually. I realize this might not be such good news to you as it is to me, but I’ll give you an update anyway. He’s walking, but his strength is still very limited. Let me get to the issue that I know you’re most eager to have addressed: we’ll be coming home to Charlestown soon, though I can’t tell you an exact date. We’re waiting until the doctor says Will is strong enough to travel without risk of rendering damage to his already weakened constitution. Now that the weather is turning warmer, I suspect that it won’t be much longer, now. My hope is to be there in Charlestown by this time next month and to be speaking with you in person. But until then … please give Lena and Daniel kisses and hugs for me. I miss them so, terribly so; but their father needs me now. Your sister, Juliana.”
Lydia folded the letter and gazed out the window at the late afternoon sky. She worried that she was going to be receiving more letters like this from Juliana in the future. If that were to be the case, who knew how long it would be before her sister returned?
Lydia sighed heavily. Little Lena and Daniel could be headed for a childhood without their mother.