Possession – Chapter 7

Tavington and Juliana emerged from the carriage. It had come to a stop in front of a large house. It wasn’t a mansion but was obviously the home of a man of wealth. Tavington had told Juliana that the gathering they were attending would be an intimate affair, with no more than about fifty guests in attendance. Then he’d told her the name of their host. It was a name that Juliana knew well. He was a prominent loyalist. He had also been a business associate of her grandfather’s. Even though they’d been on opposite sides of the political fence, the two men had still been able to do business, and it was apparent that they’d held great respect for each other. He’d been at the Harris residence regularly, and Juliana was sure that if he saw her, there’d be a good chance that he would recognize her.

It was for these reasons that Juliana hesitated outside the coach before walking toward the house entrance. Tavington regarded her with mild annoyance. He took her by the elbow and gently urged her forward, guiding her toward the main entrance of the large house.

When they walked in, Tavington casually looped Juliana’s arm through his. Before they went any further, Juliana felt that there was something she should tell him. “Colonel, there’s something you should know about the man who’s throwin’ this party,” she said to him.

“What about him?” Tavington asked casually.

“He knew Mr. Harris,” Juliana said. “They did business together.”

Tavington smiled. “I’m well aware of his relationship with your grandfather.” In fact, it had played right into his plan for how he hoped to use Juliana. His eyes roamed the room, looking over the other guests. After a quick search, he spotted his primary target – Mr. Jonathan Lewis, the gracious host for the night. With Juliana on his arm, Tavington began to make his way toward Lewis.

Lewis stood in the midst of a group of similarly prominent Loyalist colonists. They’d previously been talking animatedly about something, but they became silent when Tavington approached.

“Colonel Tavington,” Lewis greeted. He wasn’t overly familiar with the younger man and felt that his tactics regarding the rebels were questionable, to say the least, but it was obvious to Lewis that Tavington was a man who produced results. When this messy business with these troublemakers was done, the colonel could possibly come out as a very influential man. It would be a serious oversight on Lewis’s part to fail to gain favor with him.

Tavington nodded slightly. “Mr. Lewis,” he greeted, cordially.

“Glad to see that you could attend, Colonel,” Lewis said.

Tavington smiled. “I wouldn’t dream of missing it. You never really know just what might happen at these kinds of affairs, do you?”

Lewis seemed to consider the statement for a moment. “I supposed you could say that’s true.” Lewis teasingly narrowed his eyes at Tavington. “Are you trying to hint at something, Tavington? Perhaps suggest something about me?”

In response, Tavington only smiled knowingly, but neglected to answer Lewis’s query. He turned to Juliana, bringing her into the spotlight. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” he said to Lewis. “This is Juliana Harris. I found her on a recent raid.”

“Harris … to whom did she belong?” Lewis questioned. He knew that he had seen this girl somewhere before. Could it have been at old George’s place?

“He was your good friend, was he not?” Tavington asked, already well aware of the answer. “I would think that you would have no trouble recognizing one of the house slaves of your dear friend.”

Lewis studied Juliana for a long moment before he recognized her. “Of course – Juliana. How have you been?”

“Alright, sir,” Juliana replied meekly.

“Good. It must have been good fortune for you, running into Colonel Tavington,” Lewis said.”

Juliana swallowed hard. “Yes, sir.” She dared not speak against Tavington, in public or anywhere else.

“Mr. Lewis, I’ve recently become privy to some fascinating information,” Tavington broke in, raising a mischievous brow. “Tell me, does Juliana bear a striking resemblance to anyone you know – or knew?”

Lewis looked at Juliana a second time. When she finally looked him in the eye, he saw something familiar there that he’d never seen, probably because he’d never studied her this closely before.

Tavington continued. “It appears that fair Juliana is of some relation to someone we both knew, someone who, unfortunately, is no longer with us.”

Lewis looked at Tavington. He knew instantly what the colonel was about to say, and he knew that it was probably true, but there was no need to say it aloud and embarrass a dead man.

“Colonel, if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, I’ll have you know that George Harris was a respectable man who loved his wife and family dearly,” Lewis defended.

“I have no doubt that you feel that this is true,” Tavington said, “but the fact remains that the person you see standing before you is a direct descendant of Mr. George Harris. My dear sir – you’re looking at his granddaughter.

Lewis looked around at his companions, who all looked astounded. The damage was done.

Tavington, meanwhile, was relentless in his continued mission to sully Harris’s memory. “It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? I think she has his eyes.”

/\/\/

Juliana buried her face in her pillow and sobbed freely, devastated. Tavington was truly a sinister man, using her to defile poor Mr. Harris’s memory. Could things possibly get any worse?

There was a knock on the door, and Juliana sat up but kept her back to the door. If it was Tavington, she just couldn’t bear to look at him right now.

But it wasn’t Tavington at the door.

“Juliana? I heard you and the colonel come in.”

Juliana turned around and saw that Eleanor had come into the room, which gave Juliana cause for a little relief.

When Eleanor saw Juliana’s face and saw that the younger woman had been crying, she just sighed, wondering what Tavington’s latest transgression had been.

“Good Lord, child,” Eleanor said. She walked around the bed and sat beside Juliana. “What did he do? Did he say somethin’ to you?”

“No,” Juliana answered.

Eleanor studied Juliana closely. “Did he hit you?”

Juliana shook her head. “No.”

“Then, why are you cryin’?”

“You remember how I told you about Mr. Harris?” Juliana began. “About how he was my mother’s father?”

“I remember, yes. What about him?”

“I told the colonel about him.”

“What on Earth did you go and do a thing like that for?” Eleanor figured that the girl had to have known that information like that would only give Tavington one more way to hurt her and control her.

“It wasn’t anything I planned on doin’, but it happened, nonetheless.” Juliana shook her head. “It was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. Like everything else, he only wants to use what I told him for his advantage. He’s usin’ me to tarnish the memory of Mr. Harris by paradin’ me around town and at parties. He wants to make Mr. Harris out to be some kind of immoral character, when he wasn’t like that at all.”

“I know, and the colonel knows it, too,” Eleanor said.

“I just don’t understand why,” Juliana said, tearfully.

“Juliana, there’s somethin’ you got to understand about the colonel,” Eleanor began. “He’s fightin’ a war, and he’s gonna do everything he can to give him and his side the upper hand. If that means bein’ low down and mean, he’ll do it, and he don’t care who he hurts while he’s doin’ it. I ain’t excusin’ his behavior or tryin’ to defend it, but it’s just somethin’ you gonna have to get used to.”

“I understand what you’re sayin’, Eleanor, but you can’t possibly understand what if feels like on my end. He’s tryin’ to use me like a weapon in this war he’s fightin’. I think I’d give my right arm just to feel normal again. I just wanted to run out of that house tonight, Eleanor,” Juliana said, as tears began to fall from her eyes again. “I can’t do this anymore, Eleanor. Especially not to Mr. Harris. It just makes me feel like I wanna die.”

Eleanor offered a comforting shoulder to cry on, which Juliana gladly accepted. The colonel’s behavior kept getting nastier and nastier. Juliana was the one that kept suffering because of it, and it Eleanor knew that the younger woman wouldn’t last much longer under these conditions. Physically, there wasn’t much that was challenging her; but there were plenty of circumstance where the things your mind put you through were far worse than anything the body would ever go up against.

Tavington had been a source of pain for so many people. Juliana was only his most recent victim, but she wouldn’t be his last. If something didn’t happen to him before this war was over, there would surely be more.

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