With Honor, part 10

With Honor

by Leigh Townsend

Part 10

Lieutenant Lewis sat basking in the sun.  A small, startlingly green lizard was doing the same on a fence post nearby.  Sarah White, Charlotte’s mother, had made Matthew sit on the bench in the garden every day, insisting that sunshine helped a body heal.  Not that he minded; he rather enjoyed the time to simply sit and watch the ever-present chickens as they scratched the ground and foraged for bugs.  Matthew hoped that the little lizard managed to avoid the chickens.

From the open kitchen window he could hear Charlotte humming to herself as she went about her household tasks.  He grimaced slightly to himself.  As much as he was enjoying this moment, he couldn’t get past the feeling of guilt that nibbled at the back of his mind.  He had been laid up here, recovering, for nearly a week now.  The stab wound in his leg had been a clean cut, and the army surgeon had come by a few days ago to see how it was healing.  The man had sewn it up well in the field, and the muscle and skin were closing up neatly with no signs of infection.  Unfortunately, the location of the injury precluded him from standing much, let alone walking or lifting, before the pain would set in.  Although he wanted to contribute to the White’s farm, there was nothing he could do at the moment to help. 

Lost in his thoughts, a gentle hand on his shoulder surprised him.  He looked up to see Charlotte standing nearby.  “I’m sorry,” she said as she slowly withdrew her hand, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

He smiled at her and slid to one end of the bench.  “It’s fine, I was just thinking.  Would you like to sit down?”

“What were you thinking about?” she asked as she carefully sat down next to him.  Adjusting her skirts a bit, she grinned back at him.

Suddenly finding himself a bit shy, Matthew paused to scratch the back of his head.  He looked away from Charlotte, focusing on the field nearby.  “I was just wondering if there was any way I could maybe help out while I’m staying here,” he replied.  “I’m afraid that with my leg the way it is, the things I would normally offer to do are a bit beyond me. “

Charlotte was quiet as she considered his words.  The silence stretched comfortably between them, the peace of the afternoon preventing any rush.  Matthew glanced back at Charlotte, taking the opportunity while she looked off to study her.  He was finding that the person behind those entrancing green eyes was just as lovely as the face that held them.

He could tell she’d thought of something when her face lit and she turned to him with a smile.  Matthew blushed a little to be caught staring, but Charlotte was excited enough by her ideas that she didn’t seem to notice.

“There are some things that could be a great help around the farm, if you’d be willing to do them.  You couldn’t lift the pails, but a second set of hands at milking is always appreciated.  The walking to the barn and back would be good for your leg, too.  And some of the tack could use mending.  It’s usually something Poppa does in the winter, but by then some of the things get fairly ragged.”  She paused before adding, “You do know how to mend tack?  You’re a cavalry soldier, so I assumed, but maybe…”

“I would be happy to mend tack,” he replied quickly, realizing that she was a little embarrassed by her excited speech.  He made a bold move, to distract her, and put his hand over hers where it rested on the bench.  “It’s a wonderful suggestion.  I’d also be willing to help with milking, although you’ll have to teach me how.”

Her eyes were wide and she seemed a little nervous, but her small smile and her hand still resting below his told him that his response was exactly the right one.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. amkuska
    Apr 17, 2011 @ 10:15:21

    HAHAHA!!

    I actually find it totally appropriate that she has him mending/cleaning tack. ^^ It always, always, ALWAYS needs done, and it’s such a long messy chore, and if you don’t do it the tack rots…blah! What a great sense of humor he has that he doesn’t mind it.

    Great writing obviously. ^^

    Aaand launch party is TODAY at http://www.uninvoked.com/ Please come on down so I’m not sitting there by myself!

    Reply

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