I woke up, much less achy than I had been in a terribly long time. My back was only a distant soreness, and my cheek felt only puffy and not flamed. I also discovered that I was hungry. I had lived on berries and the occasionally venison for three months. I was probably sick. The smell of warm bacon and sizzling eggs drifted past my nose, and my stomach growled at me a command to get out of bed and feat. I listened to it and swung my feet over the side. I was still in my dirt rag of a dress. I quickly tore it off letting the breeze hit me. I threw it to a corner trying to banish the memories of the dirt and filth I had lived in.
I dressed in a plain green muslim dress, Eli’s favorite color. I pulled on my shoes and stockings feeling fresh fabric between my toes and shoes.
Eli and Taylor were both at the table with my father discussing something very intently they
stopped and folded up a sheet of paper as they saw we coming down the stairs. I was greeted with four genuine happy smiles and one evil grin. I could not help but return the smiles, except I avoided the grin. Lily gave me the biggest smile of all and I could hardly believe it was possible to miss a person so bloody much. I took a seat at the table, and mother served the plates, and then she and Lily took their seats.
Eli, being the most devoted was asked to say grace. I had not even thought about missing church and God while in captive, but I did now. I shut my eyes and told God how thankful I was for being rescued, even if I knew the entire thing had been carefully schemed.
Eli began a prayer. “Dear Lord, bless this food and the people that are gathered here to share it. We are thankful for your good graces in gathering us all together, especially Trinity. Please keep us safe and strong and in good health. Amen.”
“Amen.” chorused the surrounding voices, mine most prominent.
I dug into my food in a very uncivil way. I had been starved of many things for three months, and I was not about to keep basic propriety when my stomach was so empty. Everyone’s eyes were watching me as I finished off the meal and drowned it in fresh milk. I finished and then my stomach let out a short rumble. Mother glanced up surprised.
“There is more on the stove honey, if you want some.” she told me.
I thanked her and excused myself as I stood to pile my plate again. The grown men had not
even finished half of the meal and they watched me as I took a second helping, they had probably never seen a lady eat so much at a single breakfast.
I sat back down in silence and began to eat again, slowly and more proper this time. No one spoke much, there were a few comments on my health but other than those short sentences no had many words, they were all engulfed in watching me eat. I finished my second helping around the time everyone else completed their firsts. I stood to help with dishes, but mother shooed me off saying Lily had she could manage well enough as they had the past few months.
The rest of the party retreated to the parlor including myself. We each took a seat and then three sets of eyes focused on me, waiting for me to speak. I knew what they wanted me to say but I was unsure how to say it. I glanced at my hands settled in my lap. I was inarticulate in the matter. Eli broke the silence shortly.
“Did you know his name?” he asked giving me a place to start.
I took a breath. “He called himself ‘He Who Calls’, but he also allowed me to refer to him as Czar.”
“He spoke with you?” asked Taylor his eyes having a more frightened look in fear of what he might have said.
“Yes.” I said smoothly. “We spoke about many things, he could be quite friendly if you were not upsetting him or he was angry.”
I placed a hand to my cheek a reminder of what his temper could do.
I continued with the description. “He was one
of the strangest looking men I had ever seen. He had black curly long hair, that was real not a wig. His eyes were dark and beady like a birds. He had a strange little mustache that curled over above his thin lips. He was big maybe the size of Eli’s uncle. He wore buckle shoes, white stockings, a fancy military almost looking coat with two rows of buttons, and the strangest kind of three point hat with gold trim that was much fancier than one I had ever seen, it even had a feather in it.”
Everyone nodded so I must have given a clear description.
“Are you going after him?” I asked. Father nodded revenge glistening in his eyes,
I hoped father caught him but if he did he may not give him the chance to tell him that Taylor arranged the whole thing. I would have to speak with Eli alone if I ever got the chance I would need to tell him everything that I knew, he was the only one I could really trust right now, Father had too much respect for Taylor because he thought that Taylor had actually discovered my location instead of knowing all along.
I turned to Eli. “How did you come back so early?”
“Premonition, or a sign from God. I knew something was happening at home but I did not know what. It just happened that we crossed paths with a ship that was heading back to port in the middle of the ocean, which is rare. I had to know what was wrong so I switched ships.”
My heart fluttered, my signals had worked. Every night that I had laid there trying to sleep sending Eli distress signals had actually reached him. I smiled at him all the necessary secrets
visible in that smile. I wanted to tell Eli how it was because of him that I had convinced Czar to believe in hope for this new world. I needed to catch Eli alone to tell him all the things I couldn’t tell anyone else in the room.
“Do you know where he might be heading next?” asked Taylor blatantly jealous of all the attention Eli was getting just because he had some gut feeling.
I refocused my attention over to Taylor, changing my expression so that it matched my current opinion of him. My jaw was set and my eyes were like balls of flame attempting to burn his head to pieces. He nearly shuddered when I looked at him, but tried to dissuade the image, by not looking back.
I answered him slowly, the venom and evil spitting with my words. “No, but that horse is fast, so I would suggest leaving soon if you want to catch him.”
Father agreed silently, he was trying to think- something I had learned was best left to me instead of my parents, they were hard workers but they each had only learned to read write and do basic arithmetic, they were not very bright. I let Father think though and then he spoke, a small conclusions for such vast amounts of thought on his part.
“I tried to chase him already when we first reached Trinity, but that horse is lightning fast. We will have to come up with a plan and catch him when it is dark.”
Taylor and Eli nodded.
All three men spoke in unison. “Let’s go.” and they were gone apparently they did not actually
want a plan they just wanted to give the appearance of a plan.
They each had a rifle or other gun, and with a tip of their hats to me they had mounted there horses and were streaking away. I had not even gotten the chance to tell anyone. They knew nothing of what they were up against with a traitor in their midst. I felt like the traitor for not telling them.