Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter 33

     Eventually all of the members re-appeared and the cleanup commenced. Angus spent several days helping to clear the damaged barges and other debris from the river thinking only of Captain Jones who desperately needed to join the fleet at Port Royal. The british would have the advantage, with so many damaged and sunken American vessels strowed from Charleston to St. Marys.  Owing to the sunken ships and barges blocking the harbor, Angus surmised that the town was temporarily safe from any British men o'war. A week had passed before he realized that he needed to go home and access any damage there.  Lucas would do anything for the man who helped him acquire his own land, so he borrowed a team of two horses and a wagon to traverse the cutt road blocked by fallen trees and limbs, The trip was lengthed when the men had to clear the road at intervals.
     Upon reaching Ashley Loche, Angus had a high fever and his untended wound was infected. 
     "What is wrong?" Catherine asked.
    "His head was injured during the hurricane."
     She placed her hand on his forehead and whispered "A high fever."
    "Be there a surgeon on the place?"
    "Only old Nellie, but she is good with fevers. I shall send a servant to fetch her."
     Catherine commencing wiping a yellow pus from the wound. He moaned. "The British are in the harbor," he said.
    "No, no," Lucas responded.  "No one can sail in the storms, not from Port Royal to St. Mary's."
    "But the ship is there," he insisted.
   "What ship?"
   "The prison ship..."
   "Oh, he is speaking of the last war."
    "He never told me that that he was onboard a prison ship," Catherine said, realizing how little she knew. 
   "Your husband is a very brave man. He was an Indian fighter, the best marksman with the bow and arrow in his unit and a skilled swordsman too."
    Catherine stared at the helpless Angus with a slight smile on her lips.  There was some satisfaction in knowing these things, as she recalled Lord Manigault's bragging and then the horror on his face when Angus rendered a cutting blow to his hip and wiped clean his pride. "Yes, he was a skilled swordsman," she said, "not a pantywaste but a real fighter."
    "He was the hero of many of skirmish and was at Yorktown when Lord Cornwallis surrendered.  I saw his valor with my own eyes."
     Lucas left the bedchamber and went downstairs to access the damage to Ashley Loche.  There was damage to front foyer where water had seeped through and stained the wooden columns. The storm shutters had been secured, but the slats were broken and rattled loose. The flower garden and path adjacent to the river was washed away, the trellis broken and there was large pot holes in the yard. The terrain surrounding the house had been shoved aside.  Duncan came outside to help him inspect the dock, testing every plank.
   "Not a loose board," Duncan said proudly.  "We sank the piles deeper than necessary, nailed and glued the planks in the finest Scottish tradition. No sir, this is one dock that will last."
    "But the paddies are washed away and  I am afraid that you lost most of the hardy sprigs," Lucas said.
    "Yes," Duncan sighed deeply.  "Angus will start again."
   "Of course," Lucas agreed, "and next year the crops will be in bloom, just as before."
    When they returned to the house, Nellie was wiping Angus' forehead with cold cloths as Catherine stood beside her.  "Will he recover?" She asked.
    "Course, missey,  wen I get da fever down."
     But the hours passed and a putrid  yellow pus continued to ooz from the wound and his head was  wrapped in wet cloths. A red streak was making its way down the side of his face and his temples were swollen. His body was like a rag doll, limp and lifeless. Catherine soon sent Nellie to bed, and sat half-sleeping in a chair beside the bed. Lucas had gone home and she was alone with her husband.  That evening she dirfted off to sleep many times only to be awakened by his groands. She would stand up to see if he were coherent.  Towards daybreak, she saw that he was.
    "Catherine...." his eyes followed her as she went to his bedside.  "Tell me, you must tell me now."
    "What is it that troubles you, Angus?"
    "I hath to know the one you love me?"
    "Yes, of course," she answered.
     Angus sighed and fell asleep momentarily.  When he awoke again, she was wetting another cloth in the basin.  "Catherine?  Catherine?" She left the basin and went to him.
     His voice was raspy and he whispered in undertones. "Where is Roderick?  I need for my son to see the plantation that I built for him."
     "Roderick is in Oxfordshire, but he will come home soon."
     "When did I last see him?"
     "Six years hence." 
     He gasped and struggled to breathe.  Tears came to her eyes as she watched him slip away into an undefined darkness which she could not see, another world, another place, another time.


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