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Posted October 23rd:
I got hold of the girl by the non-wounded arm and sat her down on the stool, hastily pouring most of what remained in my brandy bottle into a cup. She didn’t look as though she had much blood left.
She didn’t. When I got the scarf off, I discovered that her hand was missing, and the forearm badly mangled. She hadn’t bled to death only because someone had twined a belt round her upper arm and fastened the tourniquet tight with a stick thrust through it. It had been a long time since I’d fainted at sight of anything, and I didn’t now, but did have one brief moment when the world shifted under my feet.
“How did you do that, sweetheart?” I asked, as calmly as possible. “Here, drink this.”
“I—grenade,” she whispered. Her head was turned away, not to see the arm, but I guided the cup to her lips and she drank, gulping the mix of brandy and water.
“She--he picked it up,” said a low, choked voice at my elbow. One of the other Continentals was back. “It rolled by my foot and he—she picked it up.”
The girl turned her head at his voice, and I saw his anguished look.
“She came into the army because of you, I suppose?” Clearly the arm would have to be amputated; there was nothing below the elbow that could be saved, and to leave it in this state was to doom her to death by infection or gangrene.
“No, I didn’t!” The girl said, huffing for breath. “Phil—“ She gulped air and twisted her head to look toward the trees. “He tried to make me go with him. Loyalist c-camp…follower. Wouldn’t.” With so little blood remaining in her body, she was having trouble getting enough oxygen. I refilled the cup and made her drink again; she emerged from it spluttering and swaying, but more alert. “I’m a patriot!”
Posted October 24th:
“Mm.” Jenny was already deep in the armoire, picking through my gowns. “What about this one? It’s got a deep décolletage, and your bosom’s still verra good.”
“I’m not meaning to seduce the man!”
“Oh, yes ye are,” she said matter-of-factly. “Or at least distract him. If ye’re no going to tell him the truth, I mean.” One sleek black eyebrow lifted. “If I were a British general and was told that my wee colonel had been abducted by a wicked great Hieland man, I think I might take it amiss.”
I couldn’t really contradict this piece of reasoning, and with a brief shrug, wriggled my way into the amber silk, which had cream-colored piping in the seams and ruched cream ribbons outlining the edge of the bodice.
“Oh, aye, that’s good,” Jenny said, tying my laces and stepping back to eye the effect with approval. “The ribbon’s near the same color as your skin, so the neck looks even lower than it is.”
“One would think you’d spent the last thirty years running a dressmaker’s salon or a brothel, rather than a farm,” I remarked, nervousness making me rather cross. She snorted.
“I’ve got three daughters, nine grand-daughters, and there’s sixteen nieces and great-nieces on Ian’s sister’s side. It’s often much the same sort o’ thing.”
That made me laugh, and she grinned at me. Then I was blinking back tears, and so was she—the thought of Brianna and of Ian, our lost ones, coming suddenly—and then we were embracing, holding hard to each other to keep grief at bay.
“It’s all right,” she whispered, hugging me fiercely. “Ye’ve not lost your lass. She’s still alive. And Ian’s still wi’ me. He’ll never go from my side.”
“I know,” I said, choked. “I know.” I let go and straightened up, smudging tears away with a finger, sniffing. “Have you got a handkerchief?”
She had one in her hand, in fact, but reached into the pocket at her waist and pulled out another, freshly washed and folded, which she handed me.
“I’m a grannie,” she said, and blew her nose vigorously. “I’ve _always_ got a spare hankie. Or three. Now, what about your hair? Ye canna be going out in the street like _that_.”