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A Break from Wartime Fears




The Lanhams arrived just a few short weeks after Tommy's fever broke. On a pretty spring day, Elizabeth had coaxed Tommy to go on a short walk. He had not seen sunshine for so long he had taken on the look of death. Elizabeth hoped the sun and the gentle breeze would color his cheeks and erase the dark circles beneath his eyes. Together they had slowly shuffled to the open field where market days and horse races were held. On that day, men were at work building a stage of sorts. At its center and toward the front was a raised box. Elizabeth had frowned, turning to Tommy she suggested they return home. Tommy settled into bed, exhausted from the short afternoon excursion. Seeing that he was alright, Elizabeth wandered to the tavern. There were plenty of lodgers in town for the sale, so there was much work to be done. 


Henry was making his way from the cellar to the tavern, arms loaded with a crate of wine jugs. 


"Gonna be busy," he observed, winking playfully at Elizabeth. He did not linger for a reply. 


Elizabeth stopped short in the hallway. At the other end, still in traveling clothes, the entire Lanham family was being greeted by both her parents. Jane put a friendly arm around a small older woman, Mrs. Lanham to be sure, and guided her toward the stairs. While Jane's smile was broad and welcoming, Mrs. Lanham appeared weary from her travels. Roger Lanham, coarse as ever, complained to Thomas about how unreliable the Middleton Ferry had become. 


And there he was.


William looked past his father and hers, their eyes connected and the younger Lanham man shrugged then rolled his eyes at his father's expense. Elizabeth giggled, a flutter in her belly with the absolute assurance that despite the fact they had hardly spent time together, William had not forgotten her.


"This is my favorite spot," Elizabeth observed, squinting into the bright sun. She had been surprised when her father suggested the whole lot of them, Godwins and Lanhams all, head down to the harbor to see the Centurion. Smaller craft bobbed in the water around the big ship, locals going out for a better view. 


"I can see why," William agreed. "It's magnificent."


"Fifty guns on that ship there," Roger Lanham declared.


"Sixty," Elizabeth corrected excitedly. "And Henry told me it's the first ship from the Royal Navy to sail around the world."


Roger Lanham sniffed and Elizabeth realized she had made a significant error. William rolled his eyes, then took her arm to guide her along the dock. Away from their parents, Elizabeth sighed. "I seem to have upset your father."


"He likes to be right. Even when he's not." William's lightheartedness put her at ease, but she was beginning to see why Mrs. Lanham chose to remain quiet around her husband. Elizabeth looked over at her mother and Mrs. Lanham, nibbling on sugared pecans and sharing a smile. Mrs. Lanham chose to remain far from her husband when at all possible it seemed. 


Godwin House had been particularly busy of late, mostly with dignitaries from throughout the colonies coming on war business with Governor Sharpe. Elizabeth found herself spending more and more time with Henry as he explained French maneuvers and England's defenses, based on his naval experience. He had largely reassured her about possible French attacks, but he could not reassure her about raids from western Indians. Brutal scenes of human butchery haunted her dreams. She was glad her father's business license prohibited serving Indians. 


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