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A Time of War

Chapter Text

Elizabeth Andrews peered out the window of the carriage and admired the colorful trees that dotted the street. Her father sat across from her and glanced out the window.
“We must be nearly there,” he noted, his voice more annoyed than excited. “I thought this journey would never end.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, as she often did when her father was not looking. She saw a young man who looked nearly identical to her waving. She smiled and waved back.
“There he is, Papa!” She announced excitedly.
The carriage stopped and the door opened. The waving man walked over to the carriage and offered his hand to Elizabeth. She took it and stepped out of the carriage. As soon as she landed both feet on the ground, she hugged her brother. Although she was nearly eighteen years of age, she still felt like a child again whenever she was with her brother. He reminded her of times spent running through the garden and scaring their oldest and most serious brother with frogs that they caught.
“Welcome to Yale College,” he said when his sister finally ended their hug.
“It’s wonderful!”
Elizabeth’s father came out of the carriage and acknowledged his son with a friendly, but firm handshake.
“Hello, John,” he greeted, “I assume you are doing well and are staying focused on your studies.”
“Yes, of course, Father,” John responded, mirroring his father’s aloofness, though it contrasted deeply with his personality.
Mr. Andrews inspected the area, noting the sizes of buildings and the way people were dressed. He had a knack for making quick judgements. He believed that a man could learn everything he needed to know about his surroundings and even other people within the first five minutes of encountering them.
“I hope your trip was not too difficult,” John said, trying to engage in conversation with his father.
“It was rather long,” His father noted. “I hope you appreciate the distance between Williamsburg and New Haven.”
“Yes, Father, and I am grateful that you were able to visit me.”
“You should be thanking the man in York City with whom I had business. Otherwise I would never have left Virginia.”
“It’s good to get out and see the other colonies,” Elizabeth interjected. She knew how conversations between her father and John could quickly become tense and awkward. John had very different views than his father on nearly everything, but he never voiced them. Instead they lingered in the air of the conversation.
John looked around.
“Thomas didn’t come?”
“No, your brother has much more important things to do than travel all the way to Connecticut just to see his younger brother for a few days.” Mr. Andrews explained with pride. Pride and discontent were the only emotions Mr. Andrews ever showed, and the former was usually reserved for himself, Thomas, and occasionally Elizabeth.
John chose not to let his father’s remark bother him. He knew that his father meant it as an insult, but that Thomas did lead a very busy life that would prevent him from coming.
“Would you like a tour? You’re very fortunate to have such lovely weather. It rained all of last week.”
“I would love one!” Elizabeth exclaimed. It truly was a lovely day. The leaves were changing and the air was crisp and cool, but the sun was still shining enough to encourage time spent outdoors.
Their father apparently disagreed. “It’s a bit chilly. And I am rather tired after our trip. Would you mind too terribly if I rested instead? Of course we’ll still be dining together tonight and you can tell me all about Yale.”
“I don’t mind at all,” John lied, hiding his disappointment. “Go ahead and rest. You’ve had a long day.”
“I’d still like a tour,” Elizabeth told him, detecting his sadness.
John’s face wore a smile again. “Then a tour you shall have,” he said with an air of drama. He held out his arm for his sister and escorted her through the autumn streets.
---
“He didn’t mean to sound unimpressed,” Elizabeth assured her brother, knowing how much their father’s approval meant to him. “I think he just wishes you had gone to the College of William and Mary.”
“I know, but I couldn’t stay in Williamsburg my whole life. I had to get out and see the world.”
“Ah yes. The entire world lies between Virginia and Connecticut.”
“Well there was no possibility of me studying at Oxford. I want to do things with my life. See everything that I can and experience all that I can.”
“Yes, and you can actually do that.”
Elizabeth looked straight ahead. John noticed the way she said “you” with some resentment.
“You can still travel.”
“Yes, but not like you can. It would be improper and even dangerous for me to travel by myself.”
“You don’t have to go by yourself. Hasn’t Father married you off by now?”
“No, in spite of his best efforts.”
“Really? No suitors?”
“Oh there have been plenty, all very interesting.”
“But none good enough for you?”
“Of course not!”
John laughed. “Will there ever be a man good enough for you, Lizzie?”
“Hmm, perhaps a king or a man who believes there is more to a woman than just staying home and raising children.”
“And what would you do instead? Discover another new world?”
“I’d like to go to college.”
“Go to college? Whatever for?”
“To learn! To be educated!”
“And what would you do with an education?”
“Hold a profession.”
“What? Like a man?”
“Exactly! I think I could be a lawyer.”
“A lawyer?”
“You should know as well as anyone else that I can argue better than you, or Thomas, or anyone else you know.”
“Perhaps. But if women had jobs, who would raise their children?”
“There would still be governesses.”
“But not everyone can afford to have a governess.”
“Well maybe if both the father and mother worked, they could.”
“But there wouldn’t be enough jobs! And even if there were, wages would decrease as there would be greater supply and less demand for workers in all professions! It’s basic economics.”
“Hm. I might understand that if I were able to go to college.”
Elizabeth flashed a triumphantly sassy smile. John rolled his eyes.
“Well?” She asked. “Did I win my case?”
“I concede.”
Elizabeth skipped happily.
“I’ll lend you a book by Adam Smith that I think you’ll find interesting.”
“Oh good! I’ve read nearly everything in Papa’s library.”
“Would you like to see the library here? It puts Father’s to shame.”
Elizabeth smiled with glee.
“I can think of nothing better than a multitude of books.”
---
Underneath a tree, Benjamin Tallmadge sat reading, his long legs stretched before him, his shoulders hunched over, his head buried deep in his book. A scarlet leaf fell from the tree and landed gracefully on his page. He looked up and pondered, recalling the story of Isaac Newton and the apple. Alas, he made no great scientific discoveries. He did however, see a pair of people walking along. He recognize one of them as being his classmate and friend, John Andrews, but he could not identify the girl who walked beside him. Even from a distance, Ben could tell she was beautiful. She seemed to walk as though the world were hers, not in a prideful way, but with confidence. It was as if someone had found her so charming they decided she deserved the whole world. She looked at the buildings and the trees and Ben could see understanding and appreciation in her eyes. Her skin was light, but not pale, as though the sun had gently brushed her cheek. Her hair was the light brownish red of black tea with just a dash of milk. Her beryl blue dress contrasted and complimented the warm colors that surrounded her.
Ben overheard their conversation as they grew closer. He had never met a woman so intent on discussing the education and employment of women and he was astonished when John, who was not known for surrendering an argument, relinquished.
She and John neared the tree Ben sat under and he quickly put his head back in his book, careful not to be caught staring.
“Benjamin Tallmadge!” John greeted his friend. “How good to see you. Allow me to introduce my sister, Miss Elizabeth Andrews.”
Ben stood instantly and bowed.
“Tis a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Tallmadge,” She said with a smile.
“And you as well, madam.” Ben felt he must be more grateful for the introduction than she. Now that they were up close, he saw that her eyes were grey like a wild dove. He remarked to himself that nothing he had seen before had ever reminded him so much of the goddess Athena. Elizabeth was pure divinity.
Elizabeth eyed the book in Ben’s hand.
“What are you reading?” She inquired.
“Oh, I was just rereading The Aeneid.”
“Oh! That’s one of my favorites!” She declared with sparkle and mirth in her eyes.
“You’ve read it?”
“Of course! How else could it be my favorite?”
Ben was slightly taken aback by her cheek.
“Not every woman is as educated and well-read as you, sister,” John chided.
“Yes, John, I know. We already had this discussion. Don’t you remember? The one where you surrendered?”
Ben laughed to himself as John was at a loss for words.
“How do you like The Aeneid?” Elizabeth refocused her attention to Benjamin.
“I find I much prefer Homer’s Odyssey.”
“Ah yes. Personally I found it too unbelievable.”
“Well yes, both The Aeneid and The Odyssey are myths.”
“A myth need not be unbelievable.”
“Then what made The Odyssey unbelievable compared to The Aeneid?”
“Odysseus resists the sirens’ call and returns home to his wife Penelope, still faithful to her after many years of separation. Aeneas on the other hand says he is in love with Dido, then leaves her.”
“And that is more believable?”
“I think you’ll find that Shakespeare’s histories contain far less instances of true love than do his comedies.”
“And I think you’ll find that many men are not as bad as you may think.”
“Just as many women are not as foolish and uneducated as you might think.”
She smiled the same smile as when she had beaten her brother.
“Speaking of books,” John decided to step in before his sister could engage in another battle. “I was just going to show my sister the library. Would you like to join us, Benjamin? You spend far more time there than I do.”
Ben nodded and walked with them inside the college building. John leaned over to Ben.
“She does that to everyone,” he whispered.
“I gathered,” Ben returned.
---
They stepped into the library and Elizabeth was silenced with awe as her grey eyes scanned the array of books that lined the walls and reached the ceiling. She left her brother and walked along the books, her fingers feeling each one and tracing their titles written in gold letters. Occasionally she stopped, plucked a book from the shelf, and perused its pages. She was amongst books, and she was glad. It was the only time she was quiet.
“You never mentioned your sister before,” Ben noted to John.
“I prefer to watch people’s reactions when they meet her for the first time.”
“She is certainly… unique.”
“You could say that, but not when she can hear you. She’ll argue with you that many other women are just like her and you should give them that credit.”
“I believe I experienced a bit of that.”
“Oh that was only a taste. It’s her hobby. She loves to go to parties, wait for men to approach her, and then leave them speechless. She can argue about anything from the proper role of government to the best flavor of tart. When she was seven, she convinced the cook to let her have dessert before dinner was even served. Sometimes I think she could talk a king out of his crown.”
“I don’t doubt that.”
“Our Father is always reprimanding her for speaking her mind so freely, but she continues to debate nearly everyone she meets.”
Ben and John turned their heads when they heard the door open and a fellow college students walked in. Ben and John instantly recognized him as William Roland. He swaggered towards Ben and John.
“Standing in the library won’t make you fools any smarter,” William informed them snidely. “I’d suggest actually reading a book, but I suppose you would have to learn how to read first.”
Elizabeth’s ears perked at the sound of someone mocking her brother. She carefully selected a book and then walked towards them.
“We were just showing John’s sister the library,” Ben explained. “And unlike you, Billy, my father didn’t buy my way into Yale.”
“I don’t suppose your father could buy your way into anything.”
William glanced over at the girl walking towards them from the other side of the room.
“She’s your sister, eh?”
John nodded.
“I couldn’t tell. She seems so much more refined than you.”
Elizabeth stood next to her brother who begrudgingly introduced Elizabeth.
“Elizabeth, this is William Roland,” he informed her.
“How do you do, Mr. Roland?” She asked politely.
“Better after meeting you,” He flashed a charming smile.
Elizabeth smiled back at him, showing off her most ladylike behaviour.
William noticed the book in her hand.
“The Odyssey,” he noted. “That’s one of my favorites.”
“Is it?” She asked, continuing to smile.
“Yes, I always admired Odysseus.”
“For his steadfast loyalty to his wife?”
“But of course.”
“Much more realistic than The Aeneid.”
“I agree wholeheartedly.”
John smirked but wiped it away in order to not give away his sister’s secret motives. Ben looked on in confusion. Hadn’t he just been berated for his preference of The Odyssey?
“Sadly, I think you’ll find most men do not share the faithfulness or chivalry of Odysseus,” William continued with a pointed look at Ben that he hoped Elizabeth noticed.
“And what of you, Mr. Roland?”
“I think my preference for Odysseus’ tale says enough about me.”
“That it does, Mr. Roland,” She noted with a pleasant laugh, “Do you often find yourself easily believing fairy tales?”
William was taken aback by the sudden change in Elizabeth’s words. Though her voice remained the perfect example of feminine grace, her words were sharp. He scoffed at her insinuation.
“I would hardly call one of the greatest epics a mere ‘fairy tale’.”
“Isn’t it mythology? What difference is there between a myth and a fairy tale?”
“Well a fairy tale is something you tell a child at bedtime. The Odyssey is a piece of literature read and studied by academics.”
“One of my brothers used to read me a part The Odyssey every night before I went to bed. Shouldn’t that make it a fairy tale?”
Ben now laughed to himself as he watched William flounder.
“The Odyssey has withstood the test of time. It is much older than the likes of Cinderella.”
“Is The Odyssey then more believable and a better example of literature than any of Shakespeare’s work merely because it is older?”
“I think there are merits to both authors, but who is superior is its own debate.”
“And that is what I intend to have.”
“You wish to debate me?”
“I believe we have already begun. Or do you concede already?”
“I must say you surprise me for a woman of your wealth and status.”
“Do you speak to many women or are they all simply beneath you?”
“I only mean that you have quite a tongue.”
“That comes from standing in a library for hours.”
William was growing exasperated, but he knew that Elizabeth was wealthy and he could see she was beautiful. He only wondered if she ever kept her mouth shut. He had half the mind to ask her this, but he knew he needed to diffuse the situation if he ever wanted her to so much as give him the time of day. Luckily the clock struck four and he had an excuse.
“I am afraid I must be leaving as I am meeting a friend soon. I hope I will be seeing you at the ball tonight and perhaps we can exchange our debate for a dance.”
Elizabeth looked at her brother.
“There’s a ball tonight?”
“There is if you would like to go.”
Elizabeth smiled and decided to deal one last blow to William Roland. She turned to Ben.
“Will you be there?”
Ben was surprised. William was shocked. John knew his sister.
“I-yes.”
She turned back to William.
“Then I will be there.”
She turned and walked away with her brother. She did not need to see William’s face. She knew he was grinding his teeth and staring daggers at Benjamin.

Chapter Text

John and Elizabeth sat with their father dining at the tavern where they were staying. Although Elizabeth found the food to be to her liking, her father made comments about the meat being dry and overcooked and the wine being subpar. He had never been disappointed by a meal in Williamsburg, he said, careful to put emphasis on Williamsburg. He noticed his daughter smiling and inquired about her day.
“Oh it was wonderful, Papa! John showed me the library and I met some of his friends.”
“I see. I’m glad you had such a lovely day.”
“And tonight there is a ball that I was hoping to attend.”
Mr. Andrews looked at his son for the first time during that meal.
“What kind of people will be at this ball?”
“Other students, people in town, I suppose.”
“And are these respectable people?”
“Yes, I know most of them well.”
“Then I trust you will accompany your sister and keep her out of trouble.”
“Of course, Father.”
“Good.”
“Does that mean I may go to the ball, Papa?”
“Of course, my darling. Anything for you.”
She took a final bite of her food. “May I be excused to go get ready?”
“You are already the most beautiful and enchanting young woman in the colonies, but yes you may take all the time you need.”
“Thank you, Papa.”
She hurried up the stairs to the room they were staying in, leaving John alone with his father.
“Perhaps tomorrow I could show you around Yale, Father.”
“Hm? Oh, yes, I suppose.”
John picked at his food, desperately thinking of something he could say to impress his father.
“Elizabeth seemed to enjoy the library.”
“She does take after her father’s love of books, much like your other brothers.”
John wanted to point out that he, too, loved books, but he saw no point in it. He continued moving his food around his plate.
“Your sister said she met some friends of yours,” Mr. Andrews brought up with a slightly concerned look on his face. “What are these friends of yours like?”
“Well one of them I would hardly call my friend, but I introduced her to Benjamin Tallmadge, who is one of the most studious people I have met here.”
“And what sort of family does he come from?”
“His father is a reverend,” John admitted.
“I see.” Mr. Andrews refocused his attention to his food. “I assume their meeting was short, then.”
“He came with us to the library.”
“And did Elizabeth spend much of her time talking to this man?”
“I would say she showed off her usual charms.”
“Hm. I hope at the ball tonight you will make sure she limits her interactions with this ‘Benjamin Tallmadge’ and other such men.”
“All they did was talk, Father. He didn’t propose marriage to her.”
“I should hope not.”
“I only mean that you are worrying for no reason.”
“For no reason? Do you not want your sister to marry a man of her status who can give her a good life and keep her out of harm’s way?”
“Well, yes, but I hardly think her discussing her favorite book with a Reverend’s son ruined her chances of a good marriage.”
“You know how your sister can be. I wouldn’t want her to do something she regrets. What did her attitude towards this man seem to be?”
“The same it is to anyone she meets. She challenged him on his views of literature and made him look like a fool. Overall she seemed quite indifferent to him.”
“And who was the other friend of yours she met?”
“I wouldn’t call William Roland a friend.”
“Roland did you say?”
“Yes.”
“I believe I know his family. I’ve done business with his father. A very nice family. Quite wealthy. Mr. Roland has a brother who is a duke back in England. If I remember correctly, that brother has no sons. I wonder if he is close with his nephew William.”
“I can’t say I speak to William enough to know.”
“He is the sort of young man Elizabeth should be associating with. How was she towards him?”
“Nearly the same as towards Benjamin Tallmadge, but they left on decent terms until Lizzie decided to take his ego down a bit.”
“What did she do?” Mr. Andrews was now very troubled with his daughter’s behavior.
“Mr. Roland mentioned the ball to her, and she only said she planned to attend after hearing that Mr. Tallmadge would also be there.”
“I thought you said she seemed indifferent to this Mr. Tallmadge.”
“She was. She was only doing it to annoy Mr. Roland.”
“I see. I hope I can trust you to watch over her tonight and make sure she is much more pleasant to Mr. Roland and other men like him.”
“I’ll do my best, but she is Elizabeth.”
“Yes, and with the right guidance she can charm any man instead of luring them into an intellectual debate. Do your best to keep her away from any such topics and make sure she is associating with the right sort of people.”
“Of course, Father.”
“Good.”
Mr. Andrews said nothing else to his son that meal.
---
At the ball, Elizabeth instantly made friends with a group of women and they all formed a circle of gossip. Everyone complimented each other’s hair and dresses and discussed all of the eligible bachelors. Many of them had their eyes, and their hearts, set on William Roland as soon as the dashing young man walked in.
Elizabeth became especially close with Kitty Manifold, a girl only a year older than her who lived in New Haven. They chatted about everything and Kitty told Elizabeth everything she knew about all of the men at the ball.
“What do you know about Benjamin Tallmadge?” Elizabeth asked.
“Tallmadge? Hmm, he’s nice, but awfully quiet. He rarely comes to these sorts of things and when he does, he barely speaks. He mostly keeps to himself and his few close friends from what I can tell.”
“Do you know anything about his family?”
“If I remember correctly, he comes from a tiny hamlet on Long Island. I can’t say I know what his father does, but I know he doesn’t come from money. Why are you so curious? You aren’t interested in him are you?”
“No, I was just wondering.”
Elizabeth scanned the room. She saw her brother talking with Benjamin Tallmadge and a man she did not know. She saw Benjamin look at her and she smiled from behind her fan.
John was not oblivious to the exchange. He thought again about what his father had said. Benjamin Tallmadge was a good man, but he was not the man for Elizabeth.
Ben could not take his eyes off of Elizabeth. She stood with a band of women, but she was a pearl amongst them. Her light pink dress made her stand out from all the women dressed in deep jewel tones. But she wasn’t just beauty. Ben had seen earlier just what else she was. He had never met a girl as beautiful and charming, yet brilliant and unafraid to show it. He remembered how earlier she had only said she was coming to the ball after learning of his attendance. Though he knew that she had only done it to annoy William Roland, Ben kept an inkling of hope that she might save a dance for him.
Elizabeth and Kitty were engaged in a conversation about the latest fashions when suddenly Kitty stopped and stared. Elizabeth turned her head and saw William Roland enter the room, his tall figure towering over everyone. He stood with confidence, as though he knew how many of the ladies were admiring him.
“Isn’t he dashing?” Kitty gasped in awe of him.
“I suppose he is attractive,” Elizabeth admitted.
“Attractive? He is an adonis! And he’s rich too!”
“He seems the type to show it.”
“Oh I hope he dances with me!”
“He would be a fool not to.”
Though Elizabeth found his personality dull and his narcissism all too apparent, she had to admit that he was attractive. His jaw line appeared to have been chiseled by a gifted sculptor. His features were perfect, as though he were a painting come to life. It was a shame that his artist had failed to give him any humility or decency.
As soon as he noticed Elizabeth, he strutted over. Kitty looked to Elizabeth as though she were about to faint. Elizabeth dreaded the thought of having to dance and engage in conversation with him. She knew that had she not been wealthy and beautiful, he would not consider speaking to her again after their first conversation. He stopped in front of her.
“Miss Andrews,” He greeted with a flourish and a smile. “I am so glad to see you here. I’ve been looking forward all day to a dance with you.”
“I am glad to see you again,” She lied. A new dance was beginning. Elizabeth knew that at any moment, William would be asking her to dance. She thought quickly. “Have you met my friend, Miss Katherine Manifold?”
“I don’t believe so,” he said, bowing to her. “But I thank you for making our introduction.”
Elizabeth left them before William could notice. She went to where her brother was standing with Benjamin and the other man.
“Did I just see you refuse a dance with Mr. Roland?” John asked his sister.
“He never offered one,” Elizabeth defended herself. She acknowledged the two other men. “How good to see you again, Mr. Tallmadge.” She curtsied. She looked at the other man. “I don’t believe we have met.”
“I am Nathan Hale,” the man introduced. “You must be Miss Andrews. I’ve heard about you.”
“And may I ask what you have heard about me?”
“Only that you are nearly as intelligent as you are beautiful.”
“Is that so? Then I must be quite beautiful is my intelligence is less than my appearance.”
“He also told me that you lack meekness.”
“No one would judge a man for believing in himself.”
“But you are not a man.”
“And I thank God for that everyday. What else did my brother tell you about me?”
“Your brother?” Nathan raised his eyebrow. He looked at Benjamin. “Actually it was-”
Benjamin suddenly caught a cold and he was struck with a fit of coughing that interrupted his friend. Elizabeth eyed him with suspicion.
“Mr. Tallmadge, I hope you are not ill!”
“No, no I just had something in my throat,” He explained. “My apologies.”
“There is no need to apologize. I’m glad you are in good health. I would hate for my best opponent to be out of commision.”
“Opponent?”
“Yes, I did enjoy our debate earlier and I hope we may have many more.”
“And what if you run out of things to argue about?”
“I can assure you, Ben,” John said to his friend, “She has never, and I fear will never, run out of things to squabble about.”
John noticed that though William Roland was dancing with another woman, he never took his eyes off of Elizabeth. As much as John hated him, he knew that William was the sort of man their father thought Elizabeth should be amalgamating with.
“Mr. Roland seems quite interested in you,” John pointed out to his sister.
“Does he?” Elizabeth asked nonchalantly. She glanced over her shoulder to see William carefully watching her conversation with men he disliked.
“I’ve never seen a woman turn him down,” Ben added.
“But then, you’ve never seen a woman like me, have you?” Elizabeth queried.
“I suppose I have not.”
Elizabeth turned her head as the dance ended and saw William walking towards her. She quickly grabbed Ben’s hand.
“Dance with me,” she requested. She lead him to the dancefloor before he could answer.
William, Nathan, and John stared at the pair aghast. None of them could believe that Elizabeth was dancing with Ben.
Elizabeth thought nothing of it. She was only dancing with Ben to avoid William, and to make him as angry as she could. She knew how hurt his pride must be seeing a woman as beautiful, refined, and wealthy as Elizabeth dancing with the lowly son of a reverend. Had William not been such a prick and had he not made Ben his enemy, Elizabeth was not sure she would have ever wanted to dance with Ben, much less seize his hand and force him to dance with her. But now, as she stood in front of Ben, she wondered why she had not thought to do so sooner. Elizabeth never thought badly of Ben, but she gave him no attention. She did not notice until now his soft and kind features, how he seemed to care about her even though they only just met. The dance began, and their hands were together. Ben and Elizabeth stared into each other’s eyes, as though they had been blind until this moment. In some ways, they had. Elizabeth could not describe what she felt, but something inside her felt good and warm when she looked at Ben. Whenever the steps of the dance forced their hands apart, they both longed impatiently to be joined again. They never looked at anyone else. It was as if they were the only ones in the room. No one else mattered. It was only them. Neither of them noticed how everyone stared at what they perceived to be an ill matched couple, the dignified and delicate Elizabeth Andrews and the humble, ordinary Benjamin Tallmadge. No one would have ever put them together based on their differences, but everyone silently agreed that they looked natural together, dancing as though they were one flesh.
Ben and Elizabeth said nothing to each other, but both felt the same thing and wondered if the other felt it as well. They searched each other’s eyes for an answer. Ben found a glimmer in Elizabeth’s eyes that suggested that she did, and Elizabeth saw the same in Ben’s eyes. The music swelled and reached a climax. At that moment, as Ben’s hand rested on the small of Elizabeth’s back and they gazed into each other’s eyes, walking through the other dancers who stood in a line, they each came to the same realization. The feeling that was once strange and foreign now made sense. They realized that the feeling came from dancing together. Could it be… love? Elizabeth thought it was crazy, but was it so unbelievable?
The couple returned to their spots from the start of the dance. The music ended. Ben bowed and Elizabeth curtsied. Then they simply stood there, looking into each other’s eyes, and wondering.
“Miss Andrews!”
William’s voice forced Elizabeth’s attention on him. She faced him and planted a smile on her face.
“I was worried I wouldn’t have a chance to dance with you,” He told her. “I should hate for our only interaction to have been that juvenile discussion we had. I would much rather have a dance than a debate with you.”
He extended his hand towards her. She had no choice but to take it. She obliged his request for a dance, but the whole time, she only thought about Benjamin.

Chapter Text

Three years passed without Elizabeth ever seeing Benjamin. She had all but forgotten him. Sometimes, at balls and parties, she would remember how she had felt when she danced with him, but the feeling was foreign. She never felt it with anyone else and it remained in her dreams.
It was December, Elizabeth’s favorite month. Every window was home to a candle and the scent of freshly baked confections wafted through the house. Every morning, Elizabeth woke up, braved the cold floor under her feet, and dashed to the window to check for snow. She knew it was childish, but she never grew out of the sudden elation that came with seeing the first snowfall of the season glowing in the morning light, or watching the cold, white powder fall through the dark night, like stars falling from heaven.
She awoke one morning and dressed quickly. She didn't even stop to check for show. For this morning, something better was arriving. As soon as Phila, one of the family slaves, finished helping her dress, she ran downstairs to join her father for breakfast.
“Is he here yet?” She asked as she took a seat at the table.
“No, he isn’t expected until noon at the earliest,” her father told her. “I’ve invited your other brothers to join us for dinner tonight.”
“We’ll finally be all together again!”
“Yes, it has been quite some time since we all shared a meal. If your brother had only gone to William and Mary like I wanted-”
“You have to let him have at least one little escape. You know John. Now that he has been away from Virginia, he’ll love it all the more. I’m sure he’ll decide to live in Williamsburg and go into law like Thomas.”
“Yes, yes, I’m sure you’re right. I have some business to attend to and I’d like to finish it before your brother arrives. Do be careful not to get yourself into any trouble while no one is here to supervise you.”
“I’ll be fine, Father. I’m planning on staying in the house to avoid the cold.”
“Good. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must meet with Mr. Whitemore. I’ll see you in the afternoon, daughter.”
“Have a good day, Father.”
Elizabeth finished her breakfast alone and then went back up to her bedroom.
“I was just looking for you!” She said when she saw Phila, a slave who had been with the family for as long as Elizabeth could remember. They were both children when Phila came to the Andrews’ house.
“Miss Elizabeth,” she greeted.
“How many times do I have to tell you Phila? We’ve known each other forever. Please just call me Elizabeth.”
“Your father does not approve.”
“He doesn’t approve of half of what I do, but I’m his only daughter. He can’t refuse me.”
“What was it you wanted to talk about?”
“Sit,” Elizabeth insisted. “I know you’ve been working longer than I’ve been awake today.”
Phila obliged her and took a seat in a chair in Elizabeth’s room.
“I brought you some of my breakfast.”
Phila smiled and thanked her. They did this often. Elizabeth would sneak extra food for Phila and then they would both sit in Elizabeth’s room, Phila eating while Elizabeth complained about her problems. Even though she was a slave, Phila had always been one of Elizabeth’s closest friends. Elizabeth thought back to how she had come to be best friends with Phila.
Elizabeth sat crying behind the house, the sunlight giving her the warmth that no one else could. It was a shock to the whole family. Elizabeth’s brothers tried to be brave, but it was just a facade. None of them would comfort Elizabeth, as her crying coaxed tears into their own eyes. All Elizabeth wanted to do was run into her mother’s arms and cry. Her mother would embrace her and tell her everything was going to be alright. But her mother was not there to comfort her.
Elizabeth’s tears had soaked through her dress and now her knees were wet. She hugged her knees even tighter.
“There you are!” A voice said.
Elizabeth looked up and saw Hecuba, the family’s cook. She had only been with the family for a year, but in this past week she had began to become the mother Elizabeth needed. Hecuba sat down next to Elizabeth and put her arm around her.
“What are you cryin’ for?” She asked. “You’re a brave girl and brave girls like you don’t cry.”
“I just want my mama,” Elizabeth sobbed.
“I know you do, but she isn’t gone. She’s up in heaven watching over you.”
Elizabeth snuggled into the woman’s body.
“And your mama still loves you. She always has and she always will.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I’m a mother and all we do is love.”
“But you don’t have children.”
“Not here, no. She’s somewhere else.”
“What do you mean?”
Elizabeth’s tears subsided and she grew more concerned with the cook than with herself. How was she a mother if Elizabeth had never seen her children?
“I have a daughter, but she has a different master. She’s about six years old, just like you. I haven’t seen her since I came here. But even though I’m far away from her, I still love her, just like your mama still loves you, even though she’s up in heaven. Now, would you like some cookies? I just made a fresh batch and they’re still warm.”
Elizabeth nodded. Hecuba wiped the little girl’s tears away, then took her hand and led her inside.
---
The whole family sat around the table. No one wanted to look at the empty chair. They were all silent until Elizabeth spoke up.
“Papa?” Elizabeth asked.
Mr. Andrews looked up in surprise at his daughter’s voice. No one in the family had really said anything to each other since their mother died.
“Yes, Elizabeth?”
“Did you know that Hecuba has a daughter?”
“No, I did not.”
“She does. She told me. She has a daughter my age, but she does not get to see her because she has a different master.”
Mr. Andrews was unsure of what to say.
“Why does her daughter live somewhere else?” Elizabeth asked.
Mr. Andrews was very uncomfortable. “Well-”
“Why can she not live here?”
“It’s a little complicated-”
“She could be my friend.”
Mr. Andrews thought about that.
A week later, a little girl with dark skin came to the house. As soon as Hecuba saw her, she began to cry.
“Phila!” She exclaimed and they both ran to each other.
Elizabeth watched as they hugged each other. She may not get to see her mother anymore, but at least this girl could be with hers. Although she was only six, Elizabeth began to think about this “slavery”. How could her father have let a woman be separated from her own daughter? From that day, Elizabeth began to despise slavery. Even before she could really understand what it was, she knew she did not like it.
---
Elizabeth sat by the fireplace with her father. She held her current embroidery project in her hands and debated which color she wanted to use next. She decided on some claret red to do the lettering. There was a knock at the door. Moses answered the door, and John stepped into the house.
“John!” Elizabeth got up to greet him. “You’re home!”
She threw her arms around him, their reunion quite similar to when she and her father had gone to visit him in Connecticut. Like that time, Mr. Andrews greeted his son with a handshake.
“I hope you don’t mind, I brought a friend with me,” John told them.
Elizabeth looked at him curiously. John motioned to someone outside. Elizabeth’s eyes widened as Benjamin Tallmadge stepped through the door.
“Father, this is my friend, Benjamin Tallmadge,” John introduced. “He’s never been south of Long Island, so I told him he had to come to Williamsburg with me.”
“It’s good to meet you, Mr. Tallmadge.” Mr. Andrews tried to remember where he had heard the name before.
“You as well, Mr. Andrews. Your son has spoken quite highly of you.”
The meeting was slightly awkward and everyone could tell.
“I’ll have Phila prepare a room for you, Mr. Tallmadge,” Elizabeth tried to break the silence.
“I don’t want to be a burden,” Benjamin said. “I can stay in a tavern-”
“No, I insist,” Elizabeth told him. “You cannot stay in a tavern when you have friends with room to spare. It’s always good to have company for Christmas.”
Mr. Andrews looked at his daughter. Had she met this man before? He supposed that perhaps her brother had introduced them at Yale. Then the pieces all came together. He remembered the name. Elizabeth had mentioned meeting him. This was the same reverend’s son who Mr. Andrews told John to make sure Elizabeth was not giving too much attention to, and now this man was staying at their home. Of course, Mr. Andrews could not make him leave or stay in a tavern as that would be inhospitable and rude. Perhaps he could invite some better young men over and steer his daughter in the right direction.
“You two should get settled,” Mr. Andrews said. “I’ll have Moses help with your things.”
---
Once the two men settled into their rooms, Mr. Andrews confronted his son. He went into his room and closed the door behind him, not even saying hello or offering him any warning.
“Benjamin Tallmadge?” He asked.
“Yes, Father, I know I should have told you that I was bringing a friend, but-”
“You couldn’t have brought a friend like William Roland?”
“I told you, William Roland is not my friend. He’s a rich braggart who mocks anyone he sees as beneath him, which is nearly everyone.”
“Isn’t this Benjamin Tallmadge the man who I told you I wanted you to keep your sister away from?”
“What for? Do you think Lizzie would even give him the time of day? Besides, they barely know each other. They spoke that one time and then danced at the ball and that was the extent of their interactions.”
“They danced?”
“Yes, Father, she also danced with William Roland and some other men who don’t matter.”
“I am trusting you to monitor your friend while he is here and make sure he doesn’t grow close to your sister.”
“I will, Father, but I think you are overreacting. Lizzie is her own person. If you try to force her one way, she’ll just go the opposite. She’s not the sort of girl you can control directly.”
“She’s my daughter, isn’t she? I know how to handle her. I only worry that your friend will foil things.”
“He won’t, Father, I promise. He’s only going to be here a short while.”
“Good.”
He left with as little warning as when he entered. John could not believe his father. All he did was bring a friend to stay with them for a bit. Lizzie already argued with Ben and embarrassed him. John doubted that Ben would be eager to engage in any other conversations with her. They might have shared that dance, but it was one dance. It was inconsequential. Now Lizzie was in her own sphere. At any balls or parties, she would already know nearly everyone much better than she knew Ben and would pay little attention to him. John had no worries about the situation, he only hoped that his father’s concern would subside.

Chapter Text

The other Andrews sons arrived in the evening just before dinner. Thomas, who lived quite close to his father and younger siblings, arrived first and was followed closely by his older brother Charles. Mr. Andrews was especially glad to see Thomas, which did not go unnoticed by John. Although Mr. Andrews could see Thomas nearly everyday if he wanted to, and in fact saw him at least once a week, acted as though his son had been gone for several years.
“It’s good to see you, Father,” Thomas greeted. “I’m sorry Sarah could not make it. She is feeling unwell.”
“I am just glad you were able to be here,” his father told him.
“Father, I only live a block away.”
“But you’re always so busy that we never get to see you!” Elizabeth interjected.
“Of course he is busy, Elizabeth,” Mr. Andrews said. “The House of Burgesses does not exactly leave a man with very much leisure time.”
“That it most certainly does not,” Thomas agreed.
Benjamin stood to the side awkwardly as no one had introduced him yet. Charles, who also was going ignored, noticed him.
“And who is this?” He asked.
“Oh, yes,” John said as though he had forgotten. “Charles, Thomas, this is my friend from Yale, Benjamin Tallmadge.”
They exchanged the usual pleasantries, each of them assuring that it was a pleasure to meet the other.
“I believe the food is ready,” Mr. Andrews announced. “Shall we eat?”
They all made their way to the dining room and took a seat at the table. After grace, they all placed their napkins in their laps and made polite conversation as food was passed around.
“So, John,” Thomas began. “What do you plan to do now that you are finished with your education?”
“Well, I would say that any person’s education is never truly finished.” John asserted. “But now that I am finished with college, I think I might like to follow Father into business, or perhaps go into law.”
“Law? I would say that is a noble profession.” Thomas said. “In fact, I know someone who you could study under. He even went to William and Mary, so you’ll like him, Father, though we never met while we were both there. He serves on the House of Burgesses with me. I’m afraid he lives in Albemarle, but that is not nearly as far away as New Haven.”
“And who is this man?” Mr. Andrews asked.
“I believe you’ve heard of him, Colonel Thomas Jefferson.”
Elizabeth looked from her father, who was scowling, to Thomas, who was obviously quite pleased with himself. He always did like to mess with his father. Neither Mr. Andrews nor Thomas were shy about expressing their contrasting political views, which often lead to disagreements.
“Unfortunately, his name does seem to come up quite often.” Mr. Andrews became very interested in his food, as if to imply that the dead bird he was eating was more worthy of his attention than Thomas Jefferson.
“I do know another man who only lives in Hanover, much closer than Colonel Jefferson, although I must admit that Mr. Henry has more of a mouth on him than Jefferson.”
Mr. Andrews grumbled to himself, but said nothing, as he did not want to appear rude in front of their guest, even if he was uninvited and a little bit unwelcome.
Elizabeth said nothing, quite uncomfortable with the whole situation. Though she loved Thomas, she was always a bit resentful that he could argue with their father and never get in trouble. If she were to say something like that, her father would never let her into his library again. He always encouraged Elizabeth’s love for books, but he preferred that she read fiction rather than anything that might make her think she knew more than men about politics and economics and the like. Elizabeth glanced up at Benjamin who at the same time glanced up at her. As soon as their eyes met, they separated.
“I believe Charles has some news to share,” Mr. Andrews said, trying to steer the conversation away from rebellious politicians.
“Yes, I have just joined the King’s Army.” Charles was glad to finally have the attention on him.
“And now I get to introduce you to people as Lieutenant Charles Andrews,” Mr. Andrews bragged.
“Father couldn’t buy you a higher rank?” Thomas asked.
Everyone stared in shock at the audacity and nerve of Thomas’s question. Elizabeth could not believe Thomas. Something was different about him tonight. He was always opinionated and unafraid to show it, but he was never this rude or insistent on offending someone.
Mr. Andrews decided not to verbally chastise his son, instead giving him a warning look. He changed the subject once again, now focusing it on their guest. Surely Thomas would not have the gall to antagonize someone he barely knew.
“So, Mr. Tallmadge,” Mr. Andrews diverted the conversation. “What do profession do you plan on pursuing?”
“Well, I’ve been a school teacher in Connecticut for the past two years,” Ben explained. “I enjoy it, but I am not sure it is what I want to do forever.”
“I see. I understand your father is a reverend.”
“He is, yes.”
“Will you follow him into this profession?”
Mr. Andrews, though he was speaking to Benjamin, kept glancing at his daughter to be sure she was listening. He knew she would never fall for a man with such a lowly profession who could not support her expensive tastes.
“No, I cannot say that I have the same gift my father has. I did enjoy my time as a teacher.”
“Perhaps you might become a private tutor.” Mr. Andrews suggested to further illustrate his point to Elizabeth. Benjamin was the type of man who could work in a gentry home, not live in it.
“If you decide you want to remain in Williamsburg, I think I have a job for you,” Thomas said. “I have three children, the oldest of whom is old enough to begin his education. I’m looking for a tutor for him.”
Mr. Andrews gave Thomas a look. Thomas was oblivious to his father’s dislike for Benjamin.
“I’m sure Mr. Tallmadge does not want to remain in Williamsburg longer than his visit-”
“I would have to consider it-”
“No, no I understand.” Thomas said. “Only something for you to think about.”
They all went back to their food, a heavy silence lingering in the air. The conversation for the rest of dinner was kept to small talk and uncontroversial topics.
---
After dinner, Mr. Andrews asked Thomas to stay behind. The request went unnoticed by everyone, except for Charles. He decided he would remain at the house as long as possible and try to find out why his father had requested for Thomas to stay. Elizabeth excused herself and went upstairs. John excused himself and Benjamin, saying that the trip from Connecticut had exhausted them. The sitting room was now empty save for Charles, Thomas, and their father, who tried to drop hints for Charles to leave.
“Father, I was wondering if I could discuss something with you tonight,” Charles said.
“Yes? And what is that?” Mr. Andrews asked.
Charles thought for a moment. He did not actually have anything he wanted to discuss, he only wanted to know why Thomas was staying later than him. He made something up.
“It’s about Elizabeth, and her future.”
“Oh good, that’s what I wanted to discuss with Thomas.”
Charles smiled, pleased with his ability to fumble his way into his father’s approval. He smiled until he began to think. His father had wanted to discuss this with Thomas, not him. Charles thought that was ridiculous. He was the oldest. He would be responsible for his younger siblings if something were to happen to their father.
Mr. Andrews began. “As you both know, your sister Elizabeth is of marrying age. I want to make sure that she finds a suitable man who can provide her with the life she wants. However, I know how Elizabeth is, always going in the opposite of whatever direction you push her in. Otherwise, I would simply arrange a marriage for her to a good man.”
“You would force Elizabeth to marry someone?” Thomas asked.
“Not “force”, no, but if I found a man who I knew was good for her, I would make sure that they were married.”
“I don’t see where we fit into this.”
“I’m worried that your sister will begin to associate with men who are not good enough for her as an act of rebellion almost.”
“Elizabeth has always done what is expected of her,” Charles reminded their father. It was true. Despite Elizabeth’s hobby of debate and her tendency to resist anyone else controlling her, she was always ladylike and never did anything outside of the status quo, save for her love of education and arguments.
“Yes, I know,” their father said. “But her actions lately have me worried. Just a few months ago, when we visited John, she was rude to a man who would have been a perfect match for her. I worry that she will continue in this behavior and do something she regrets. I want you two to keep an eye on her and guide her in the right direction. Make sure she is associating with the right sort of men.”
“What do you mean by ‘right sort’?” Thomas asked.
“Gentlemen who will be good to her and who are similar to her.”
“Similar status that is?” There was slight animosity in his voice.
“Well, your sister has expensive tastes. She needs someone who can provide for that. I only want to make sure that your sister is taken care of.”
“We will make sure that she is only consorting with men of her status.”
“Good. And I want to make sure you both understand that there are no exceptions to that. Even if the person is a family friend.”
“We understand.”
Mr. Andrews nodded.
“I know I sound controlling, but I only want what is best for her.”
“Of course.”
Mr. Andrews dismissed his sons. They both left with wildly different thoughts in their heads. Charles was glad that his father seemed to finally approve of him and respect him. He attributed it to his recent joining of the army.
The conversation left Thomas with a sour taste in his mouth. He understood his father’s concern, but there was something wrong about it. Without anyone’s control or intervention, Elizabeth would marry someone respectable who would be good to her. She did not like to stray too much from societal norms. So why was their father so intent on controlling her and dictating her life? Thomas had a natural aversion to anyone imposing hard rules on another person. He was not sure he would obey his father’s request. Like his father, Thomas had Elizabeth’s well being in mind, and this was not in her best interest.

Chapter Text

The weather outside was cold and dreary, but the Andrews house was warm with laughter and gossip. Elizabeth and some other gentry women of Williamsburg sat near a toasty fireplace and sewed. Nearly everyone was curious about the man staying in the Andrews’ home.
“He’s a friend of John from Yale,” Elizabeth explained. “I cannot say I know all that much about him.”
Susannah Randolph, Elizabeth’s closest friend, detected something in Elizabeth’s tone and face that said she was not telling the complete truth, but she didn’t question it.
“He’s quite handsome,” Anne Cresswell said. “Do you know anything of his family?”
Elizabeth lied again. “No, but he did attend Yale.”
Modesty Montgomery, the youngest of the group at only 16, let out a groan. Everyone looked at her.
“Must we always talk about men?” She complained, throwing down her embroidery in frustration. “Surely there is something more interesting to discuss! All we ever do at these things is talk about who the eligible bachelors are, what dresses everyone is wearing to whatever ball, and other boring things. Can’t we ever talk about anything interesting?”
“You aren’t being very ladylike,” Anne chastised.
“Why should I be ladylike? It’s dull and restricting!”
At this, Elizabeth groaned, though she had the decency and manners to keep it inside and not out loud.
“You act as though it is shameful to be a woman,” Elizabeth accused.
“Well what good is it to be a woman? I don’t want to be like the rest of you and just sit at home until some man comes to take me away and then just sit at home for the rest of my life but this time with children of my own.”
“Is it wrong for a woman to want to be a lady and a mother?”
“Yes! You of all people should agree with me! You’re always talking about women being allowed to do more!”
“I would rather be ladylike than be a man, which is what you’re doing.”
“How am I being a man?”
“Telling women what they should and should not do? Judging them for the choices they make? From my experience, that accounts for nearly all that a man ever says to a woman.”
“I only mean that-”
“Modesty, it would do you well to better live by your name. Nothing will ever come of complaining and yelling and arguing.”
“All you ever do is argue, especially with men.”
“But I do it with wit and facts, not shouting and fallacies.”
Modesty grumbled to herself and stabbed her embroidery with the needle.
“I think you’ll find that you have a lot more power when you conform to society’s rules,” Elizabeth began. Anne and her sister Lydia looked at each other and rolled their eyes in anticipation of another one of Elizabeth’s sermons. Susannah took her attention away from her sewing and listened intently to Elizabeth. Elizabeth continued. “When every bit of your existence, your hair, your clothes,the way you walk and talk, the things you say, remains within the boundaries deemed acceptable by society, there is nothing they can fault you for. People are more willing to hear you speak your mind if you dress and act correctly otherwise, but if your appearance is unkempt and you act like a sailor, no one will take anything you say seriously. You may have great ideas, but people will dismiss them based on irrelevant faults like your volume and tone or whether your clothing is in the latest fashion. Obey society’s rules, and you can change them.”
“Thank you for the lecture,” Modesty said sarcastically. “But I’m going to keep living how I want to.”
“Suit yourself.”
“And I’m never going to marry and have children.”
“There is nothing better for a woman to do than have children. For how else can one change the world if not through the mind of a child? One must influence the mind of a child to influence the mind of humanity.”
“Do you ever tire of hearing yourself speak?”
Phila entered with a tray of desserts, providing a much needed breaking of the tensions in the room. Elizabeth had never gotten along with Modesty, but she continued to be friendly to her in hopes of changing her.
Modesty stuffed a tart in her mouth while maintaining eye contact with Elizabeth, as if to spite her. Elizabeth knew what she was doing and ignored her. She wasn’t the girl’s mother.
After another hour of sewing and gossip, Modesty and the Creswell sisters departed, thanking Elizabeth for the hospitality and company. Elizabeth expected Susannah to follow them, but instead she moved closer to Elizabeth and lowered her voice so that no one else could hear them, although there was no one else in the house for them to worry about.
“There’s something you aren’t telling me,” Susannah guessed knowingly.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“We’ve been friends for eight years. I know when you’re only giving half of the information you know.”
“In regards to what? The latest trends in footwear?”
“No! The man staying in your home!”
“Oh, him.”
“I knew it!”
“Knew what?”
“The way you just said that, pretending you don’t care. Who is he really?”
“I told you, he’s John’s friend from Yale. John convinced him to come to Williamsburg with him.”
“And how do you feel about him being here?”
“How should I feel? I hardly know him.”
“You’re lying again.”
Elizabeth looked around, checking to be sure that no one had slipped in while they weren’t paying attention.
“Fine. I met him when I went to New Haven.”
“And?”
“And what? We talked about literature, I disagreed with him, he was annoyed.”
“That’s it.”
“Well I danced with him at a ball, but I danced with several men.”
Susannah gave her a knowing smirk.
“And do you think there are any more dances in your future?”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “He’s awkward and boring. I only danced with him to annoy someone else. I’m sure I’ll do the same to him if we’re ever at the same ball again.”
“Mmhmm.”
Susannah was not convinced, but she pretended she was satisfied with Elizabeth’s answers. She bid her friend farewell and they promised each other that they would see each other sometime soon.
After Susannah left, the front door opened, letting in a gust of cold, December wind. John and Benjamin entered shivering.
“You must come warm yourselves!” Elizabeth insisted when she saw John’s teeth chattering. “There’s still some tarts leftover from when my friends were here.”
John and Benjamin joined Elizabeth by the fire.
“Who came?” John asked.
“The usual ladies. Susannah, Lydia and Anne Creswell, and Modesty.”
John detected some animosity in the way his sister said “Modesty”.
“What did she do this time?” John was well aware of Elizabeth’s dislike of the stubborn, coarse young girl.
“The same thing she always does! She thinks it’s a curse to be a woman!”
“You disagree?”
“No good is going to come of denouncing your own sex. Her intentions are good. She just wants to be treated equally, but she goes about it all wrong and makes us all look bad.”
John helped himself to the leftover tarts. “Why do you keep inviting her, then?” He asked, with a mouthful of tarts, leaving a dusting of crumbs on his jacket.
“It would be rude not to. And besides, there is hope that with enough of my influence she’ll eventually be at least a little less rude.”
“Lizzie, you truly are a blend of optimism and vanity like I’ve never seen before.”
“I know that I’m intelligent and people tend to like me. Why should I deny it?”
“Yes, but you need not always be so arrogant.”
“If I were a man, people would call it confidence.”
“But you’re not a man.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. She had given her brother enough lectures about the injustices against women imbedded into society. She thought it best to change the subject and see what else she could argue about.
“What were you two doing out in this weather?” She asked.
“I took Ben to the bookstore,” John explained. “I thought he should read A Summary View of the Rights of British America.”
“I take it you are not a fan of Mr. Jefferson,” Ben judged from Elizabeth’s expression.
Elizabeth was glad to have something to argue about. “I find fault with his writings on liberty and freedom.”
“Do you not believe in these things?”
“I do. That is why I find fault with his writings.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“May I see your copy?”
Ben nodded and handed it to her. She skimmed through the pages until she found her spot.
“‘To remind him that our ancestors, before their emigration to America, were the free inhabitants of the British dominions in Europe, and possessed a right which nature has given to all men, of departing from the country in which chance, not choice, has placed them, of going in quest of new habitations, and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and regulations as to them shall seem most likely to promote public happiness.’” She quoted.
Phila entered to clear the plates and tea cups from the room.
“What of that do you find fault with?” Ben asked.
“I have to wonder, who does Mr. Jefferson want freedom for? Who deserves these rights of Englishmen?”
“Why, all men of course.”
“All men? Including the slaves?”
Phila worked quicker, wanting to get out of the room now that she had become the topic of discussion.
“Well-”
“‘Our ancestors, before their emigration to America, were the free inhabitants’. Were slaves not once free inhabitants of Africa?”
“They were never British citizens like our ancestors were, and thus do not qualify for the rights of Englishmen,” John argued.
“So does Mr. Jefferson only want rights for Englishmen? What of the Scottish? Or the French? Or the Dutch? Do these people not deserve rights?”
“I-”
“I thought so.”
Elizabeth felt satisfied with herself and departed.
“I take it your sister is not a patriot,” Ben guessed once Elizabeth was gone.
“No, she’s much too independent to even stand with people who believe in independence.”
John replied.

Chapter Text

The weather the next day was rather pleasant. The air was cold, but the sun shined brightly. Elizabeth decided to take advantage of this warmth and went shopping with Susannah. They left the milliner’s chatting and laughing, the sun delighting them with a taste of calefaction. The two friends strode through the streets of their city. Each spot, no matter how insignificant, hosted a memory of simpler times when boys were icky and the thought of a husband made the girls want to barf. How times had changed.
“Is that the man staying in your home?” Susannah asked when she spotted John talking to someone.
Elizabeth looked and saw John and Ben outside of the coffeehouse.
“I suppose it is.”
“You suppose?”
“Well, it is him.”
Susannah smirked.
“Should we go say hello?”
“Why? I see him everyday.”
“I haven’t met him.”
“Fine, I’ll introduce the two of you.”
Elizabeth lead her friend to where John and Ben stood talking. John looked up and noticed them.
“Elizabeth!” He greeted his sister. “I didn’t know you were going out today.”
“It’s a lovely day for December,” she explained. She looked at Benjamin. “Mr. Tallmadge, this is my friend Susannah Randolph.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Benjamin greeted her.
“You as well,” Susannah returned.
“I was just giving Ben a tour of Williamsburg now that the weather is agreeable,” John told Elizabeth. “Although I fear it has been quite a long time and I do not remember the city as well as I thought I did.”
“Lizzie, you could give him a tour,” Susannah suggested.
Elizabeth elbowed her inconspicuously.
“I promised my mother I wouldn’t be out too long,” Susannah continued. “I should get home.”
“I’ll walk with you.” Elizabeth offered.
“It isn’t far,” Susannah insisted. “I’m glad I was able to make your acquaintance,” She told Benjamin before departing.
Elizabeth was left with her brother and Benjamin. There were many places she would have rather been than with Benjamin. She still did not understand why John had brought him to stay with them. Elizabeth did not know much about this Setauket where he hailed from, but she could guess that it more than paled in comparison to Williamsburg. And he was only a reverend’s son. Elizabeth doubted that he was familiar with the opulence that the Andrews were accustomed to. She was sure he felt rather awkward in their home. And she hated the way he looked at her. And how ignorant he was about everything. And how he always just stood there. And- well, there was quite a lot she hated about him, but she decided to think of more positive things. At least she would surely have many opportunities to argue with him.
“What have you two seen in Williamsburg so far?” Elizabeth asked.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time at the coffeehouse,” John explained. “I have not shown Ben much else besides the bookstore.”
Elizabeth was about to suggest where they should go next when a loud commotion reached their ears. They all turned their heads and looked to see what it was. A group of people were gathered and yelling a short distance away. Elizabeth could not tell what they were yelling about, but she knew it could only be fueled by hatred, not reason.
“What’s going on?” Ben asked.
Elizabeth looked in disdain. “I thought these would stop after the summer. I thought they were only a result of summer restlessness.”
They all watched as a man took the stage among the mob. John began walking towards the mass of people.
“John!” Elizabeth yelled, but he ignored her. Ben began walking with John and Elizabeth was forced to follow.
They were now close enough to hear what the people were yelling. A man was giving a speech about the injustices of the crown. Every so often he would pause and the air would be filled with shouts of “down with the king!” and “death to Tories!”. Though Elizabeth had no strong political views when it came to the American colonies, she knew her father’s reputation and how it flowed over to the whole family. She tried to tell John that this was not a place for anyone who would be associated with the king, but he was gone. She shouted his name, but heard no response. She found herself in the crowd, angry people closing in around her. Someone raised a figure that Elizabeth assumed was supposed to be the governor with his neck tied to a pole as if he had been hung.
“This is deplorable,” Elizabeth whispered to herself.
She thought that no one could hear her, but she soon discovered that she was wrong.
“You’re Elizabeth Andrews!” She heard someone say. She turned and saw a man pointing an accusing finger at her. He elbowed a man standing next to him. “She’s Benedict Andrews daughter!”
Elizabeth began to panic and frantically searched for an escape.
“The rich tory?” The man’s friend asked.
“The one almost as rich as the king himself!”
One of the men grabbed her arm. Elizabeth could see in his eyes that he was drunk, not on whiskey or wine, but on the power and rage that came from being in a mob.
“Tory!” The other man yelled. “There’s a tory here!”
Elizabeth struggled to free herself, but the man’s grip was tight. She took her free hand and slapped him across the face.
“You’re going to regret that!” He spat. “This tory just attacked me!”
People around them began to take notice. Elizabeth had never seen so many people looking at her with hatred burning in their eyes. She was used to being adored and envied. She could feel her heart beating faster than it ever had before. Just when she thought something horrible would happen to her, someone punched the man in the face. He let go of her for a brief moment and Elizabeth’s savior grabbed her hand and began to run, pulling her out of the mob. Elizabeth kept up with him, not stopping to look behind her. When they were out of sight of the mob, they stopped and Elizabeth had a chance to see who had helped her. She stared in disbelief.
“Mr. Tallmadge?” She asked, but in a whisper only she could hear.
His blue eyes looked into hers. She had never really noticed them before.
“I think we’re safe here,” he said, looking around to see if anyone had followed them. He looked back at her. “Are you alright?”
She nodded. “Thank you for saving me.”
“We should get you home.”
“Not without John. I don’t want anything to happen to him.”
Ben understood. “Stay here, and I’ll go get him.”
Elizabeth nodded and watched as Ben ran back to where they had just escaped from. How could anyone be so horrible? Pretend to hang a man? Even if you disagreed with Lord Dunmore, he was a human being with a wife and children. And how could someone attack her like that? Just because her father was loyal to the crown? Was it such a crime for a man to be loyal to his government?
As all these thoughts circled and swam in Elizabeth’s mind, Ben returned with John. As soon as he saw Elizabeth, John immediately began to apologize.
“Lizzie, I’m so sorry. I never meant for that-”
But Elizabeth did not accept it.
“What did you mean to happen? There was an angry mob of people with no sense or rationality and you joined them! I tried to warn you, but you ignored me! This is your fault!” Now she addressed both of them. “Those are your patriots. You talk about equality and independence, but you just want anarchy. You just want to do whatever you want and have no repercussions. Don’t speak of the injustices of the king when I was attacked just because of who our father is! You say you want freedom. Where was my freedom to walk in my own city without worrying about what was going to happen to me?”
They were both silent. John had never seen his sister like this. Of course she often got angry and argumentative, but it was always about trivial stuff like literature. She had never been so upset, and he had never felt so guilty.
Elizabeth took in the silence, then turned on her heel and walked home, Ben and John following quickly behind her.
---
Elizabeth spent the rest of the day in her bedroom, sitting by the fire and staring at it silently. She had not spoken to Ben or John since the event earlier. John had tried to come talk to her, but Elizabeth ignored him. The only person she allowed to see her was Phila, who brought her tea and her favorite tarts.
“It was horrible, Phila.” Elizabeth spoke for the first time since she had yelled at John and Ben. “I’ve never been so scared.”
Phila thought of at least a dozen times she had felt more scared than Elizabeth could have felt, but it was not her place to bring this up.
“I’m so sorry, Elizabeth,” was all she said.
“I… I just do not understand how men could be so full of hatred that someone would just grab me…”
Elizabeth felt tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She wiped them away in embarrassment.
“It’s alright,” Phila told her. “You have a right to be sad and scared. What that man did was horrible. It’s a good thing Mr. Tallmadge stepped in before it got worse.”
Elizabeth nodded, but she was struck with a sudden pang of guilt. Benjamin. He had saved her and all she had done was yell at him.
She flinched when she heard the door slam.
“Where is John?” She heard her father demand.
“I believe he is in the library, sir,” Moses replied.
Elizabeth left her room and went to the top of the stairs so she could hear better.
“How could you be so foolish?!” Mr. Andrews yelled. “Did you think I wouldn’t know if you joined a mob of rebels?”
“Father, I-”
“No, you listen to me for once in your life. You put your sister in danger! Something could have happened to her!”
“Father, I’m sorry-”
“She’s just a girl! Someone could have hurt her or ruined her! Are these the people you want to associate with?”
“Father, not all patriots-”
“Are you so naive as to think that any of those rebels wouldn’t want to hurt me or anyone else in this family?”
“Thomas-”
“Thomas is not a fool like you are! He doesn’t join mobs! He may have wrong ideas, but he would never let anything happen to this family!”
“I didn’t-”
“Are you really going to continue to defend yourself?”
John went silent.
“I’m sorry, Father.”
“Just get out of here before I lose my temper.”
John left the room and walked back to his bedroom. He passed Elizabeth at the top of the stairs. They looked at each other, but neither said anything. Elizabeth was angry with her brother and she blamed him for what happened, but seeing him as upset as he was then did nothing to make her feel any better. She only felt worse.

Chapter Text

For the next week, Mr. Andrews only allowed his daughter to leave the house if she was accompanied by Charles or Thomas. This did not bother Elizabeth too much, as she never wanted to leave the house. Mr. Andrews began to grow worried about his daughter. She barely said anything at meals, even when someone mentioned one of her favorite topics. Not even Benjamin could get an argument out of her. Mr. Andrews decided that the best thing for him to do was to put more effort into finding a suitable match for Elizabeth.
Only Susannah did anything that actually helped Elizabeth. She came to the house and talked to Elizabeth, not about what happened, just about life. They discussed their favorite books, ate sweets together, and shared their thoughts on the latest news and gossip. With every laugh and giggle, Elizabeth began to feel a bit better.
-
Elizabeth returned home from tea with Susannah one day to find her father speaking with a young man whom she recognized as Joseph Chambers. The Andrews and the Chambers had been friends for many years and Mr. Andrews was business partners with Mr. Chambers. Joseph was their eldest son and only a year younger than Charles Andrews. Elizabeth was not sure what he was doing talking to her father.
Mr. Andrews shook hands with Joseph and showed him to the door. They both stopped when they saw Elizabeth in the foyer.
“Miss Andrews,” Joseph greeted.
“Mr. Chambers,” she returned.
“Mr. Chambers was just discussing a business venture with me,” Mr. Andrews explained. He turned to Joseph. “I expect we’ll be seeing you quite often now.”
“I expect you are correct.” Joseph said.
He looked at Elizabeth again before departing.
Elizabeth noticed how her father was looking at Joseph with what could only be described as pride. It was a look Mr. Andrews ordinarily reserved for Thomas.
“Business venture?” Elizabeth asked now that Joseph was gone.
“Yes, he is going into business with me.”
“Is that all you discussed?”
Elizabeth knew her father too well.
“Well, no.” He admitted. “Why don’t you join me in the parlor?”
Elizabeth followed him and they both took a seat opposite of each other.
“Mr. Chambers also wanted my permission to call on you,” Mr. Andrews told his daughter.
“Call on me?” Elizabeth asked. She never thought about Joseph that way. He had always just been the little spoilsport who ruined everything when they were kids and insisted on following the rules.
“I realize that this may be hard for you... in light of recent events,” Mr. Andrews said this last bit as though he were walking on glass that was close to shattering, “But I think he is a good match for you.”
“But he’s so… boring.”
“I hope you will be much kinder to him tomorrow,” Mr. Andrews chastised. “He is not my ideal match for you, but there is no harm in him calling on you. Besides, he comes from wealth and loyalty.”
“Loyalty?”
“Yes, the Chambers’ loyalty to the crown will never be questioned. This is something for you to consider, Elizabeth. I would much prefer a British officer for you, but Joseph Chambers is a respectable young man.”
“Is a man’s reputation in regards to his loyalty to the king now another thing I must consider every time I attend a party?”
“Elizabeth, times are changing. Nearly everyone is being questioned on where their allegiance lies. It is important that you strongly associate yourself with the right side.”
“I don’t think anyone would suspect me of being a patriot after what happened.”
Mr. Andrews sighed. “I just want you to be safe.”
“So if there were a man richer and even more respectable than Joseph Chambers, but who was not a strong supporter of the crown or any side, you would never let me consider him?”
“Yes. I am putting you and your safety first. I do not know how long this war will go on, but I know how it will end. These rebels will be put down and then what will be left of them? They and their families will be left destitute, possibly imprisoned. This is not the future I want for you, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth did not question her father any further. She was sure it would not really matter. It was not as if she had fallen in love with a patriot and would be prohibited from seeing him. She only worried about Thomas. Surely their father knew how much of a patriot Thomas was? If something were to happen, would Mr. Andrews stand with his son or his king? And what of John? Elizabeth knew that John was more of a patriot than he let on. He was simply afraid of their father finding out and being even more disappointed in him. What would Mr. Andrews say when confronted with the fact that half of his children were rebels?
---
Phila woke Elizabeth the next morning. Elizabeth sat up and stretched. Even with the fire burning, the air was freezing and Elizabeth wanted nothing more than to wrap herself in her covers and lie in bed forever.
“Elizabeth, your father wanted me to let know that Mr. Joseph Chambers is coming for tea today.”
Elizabeth let out a groan.
“Is he that bad?” Phila asked.
“He’s so boring,” Elizabeth complained. “Phila, how much do you know about the average length of time it takes for paint to dry? I fear that will be our main topic of discussion.”
“I’ll make sure the cookies today are extra tasty so you have at least one good thing.”
“And my father has all but married me off to this man. I won’t be able to have a real discussion with him.”
“And by real discussion do you mean an argument?”
“Perhaps.”
Elizabeth finally got out of bed and picked out a gown to wear. Phila helped her dress.
“Don’t lace up my stays too tightly,” Elizabeth requested. “I don’t want him to be too excited.”
Elizabeth admired the dress she had chosen. White with little red flowers and white lace trimming. It was a shame that such a lovely dress had to be subjected to such a boring affair. Phila did her hair simply, but elegantly.
“Is his blandness the only thing that is making you dread this meeting?” Phila asked.
“What else would cause my dislike of him?”
“Maybe it is not that you dislike him, but that you prefer another.”
Elizabeth looked at Phila’s face in the mirror. She could tell that Phila knew she had said something risky.
“Prefer another? Like who? I pay very little attention to the gentlemen I interact with.”
Phila focused on Elizabeth’s hair.
“I wasn’t thinking of anyone in particular,” she lied. “Now, which earrings did you want to wear?”
---
Elizabeth sat in the parlor with her father and Joseph. The two men were engaged in a discussion about… well, Elizabeth had stopped paying attention long ago. Normally, she would have been offended that a man who had come to call on her was more interested in speaking with her father, but at least now she at least did not have to listen to what they were talking about. She had become quite skilled at tuning people out and thinking about more interesting things, while still appearing to be attentive, occasionally nodding and giving a “hmm” and “mmhmm” when appropriate. Today she thought about a book she had been reading by her favorite author, Aphra Behn, and how she thought she might like to write her own book. She only wished she actually had something interesting to write about. Perhaps she could just invent something. A romance? It was what was expected of someone like her, which she normally hated, but she could just sign it with a pseudonym. Maybe she would use a man’s name. Then she could actually express her own thoughts instead of having to hide them behind the guise of a romance novel. Afterall, anyone who thought that Aphra Behn’s novels were just about love was a fool. But could she write a romance even if it was just a pretense for putting forth her own views about the world? She had never been in love. She had flirted with many men, but that was just for fun. She loved watching men’s reactions when she would amorously tease them and then ignore them when they bored her. But she had never felt love, had she? She was not sure she would know if she had. Love was not an emotion like happiness or sadness that you knew from your earliest moments on earth. Love was something exclusive and tender. Elizabeth was not sure how she would know when she felt love. Would it even matter? Her father would likely pick whichever man he thought best for his daughter and Elizabeth would have to marry him. And her father was incredibly picky. It was unlikely Elizabeth would fall in love with a man who met his standards. Would she ever fall in love? What if she fell in love, but with a man her father would never approve of? What if she was married, but fell in love with another? Elizabeth was not sure why, but blue eyes kept appearing in her head. Were those the eyes of-
“What did you think, Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth had gotten distracted and had no idea what they were discussing, but now her father and Joseph looked at her expectantly.
“I agree wholeheartedly,” she said quickly.
Evidently, that was not the right answer. Joseph and her father both gave her an odd look and then continued with their conversation.
After what felt like an eternity, Joseph finally left.
“He’s a nice young man,” her father said pointedly.
“He only acknowledged my existence once.”
“I’m sure he was nervous. And you’ll be seeing him at the party tomorrow night. I’m sure he will have much more to say to you when I am not around.”
“Am I correct to assume that all of my brothers will be there and you have instructed them to watch whom I talk to?”
“If you are asking me if I care about your future, then yes.”
“Please just do not force me to sit through anymore boring conversations with Joseph Chambers. You would think with all the money his family has he could have bought himself a personality.”
“Just be polite to him. That is all I ask.”
“I will, Father.”

Chapter Text

“Don’t do anything that would anger Father,” John warned before the carriage stopped in front of the house where the party was being held.
“I’ll leave that to you,” Elizabeth told him.
“He’s making Charles and Thomas keep an eye on you, but he’ll still blame me if you do anything.”
“Like what?”
“You know what I mean.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I wasn’t planning on dancing with Benjamin. I find him rather irritating and tiresome.”
“I never know what you’ll do just to annoy someone.”
“Speaking of, do let me know if you see Joseph Chambers. I think he will be my next victim.”
Now John rolled his eyes. The carriage stopped and they disembarked.
Elizabeth entered the room and knew that all eyes were on her. She smiled and scanned the room for any of her friends and found Susannah speaking with Lydia and Anne Creswell. She made her way towards them to join in their chatter and cachinnations.
“Elizabeth, you look lovely,” Lydia complimented her.
Elizabeth thanked her and then was engrossed in everything they had been discussing, which was largely the men in attendance.
“I saw Mr. Chambers asking your brother if you were here,” Anne told her. “He’s quite handsome.”
“And rich,” Lydia added.
“And dull,” Elizabeth groaned.
“I heard he came to call on you,” Susannah said.
“Yes, and he only spoke to me once. I could have left a statue in my place and he would have never noticed.”
“How do you get all the men and then not even like any of them?” Lydia complained. “What I wouldn’t give to have men lining up to dance with me like you always do.”
“I find it more of a curse than a blessing. You’re welcome to take them all off of my hands.”
Elizabeth looked around and saw her other brothers. Thomas and his wife Grace were speaking with a group of people. Charles was with people, but he did not appear to be at all involved in the conversation around him. Instead, he was watching every man in the room like a hawk. Elizabeth was certain that her father had asked Thomas and Charles to keep an eye out for her, but Charles was undoubtedly taking this task much more seriously than Thomas.
Susannah and Elizabeth ranked all of the men in the room.
“What do you think about Mr. Tallmadge?” Susannah asked.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and gave her friend a look. “I think you are well aware of my thoughts on him.”
“Well, he keeps looking at you.”
Elizabeth searched the room for him to see if her friend spoke the truth. She accidentally made eye contact with him and he smiled. Elizabeth groaned as he began to walk towards her.
“He’s a nice person,” Susannah said. “Why do you have to be so rude to him?”
Charles noticed Benjamin walking towards his sister and approached him, feigning that he was just interested in talking with him rather than preventing Benjamin from speaking to Elizabeth. For once, Elizabeth was thankful for something Charles did.
“Miss Elizabeth Andrews, I presume.”
Elizabeth jumped at the sound of the unfamiliar voice behind her. She turned, ready to hate this man who came up behind her like that. But once she saw him, that all changed. William Roland was a beautiful man, but the man standing in front of her now made William Roland look like a goblin. The man before her had a head full of auburn curls that could not be controlled. He looked at Elizabeth with bright green eyes full of wit and intelligence. His clothes were vogueish and polished. He seemed much more urbane and patrician than anyone else present, save for maybe Elizabeth. He bowed and introduced himself.
“Theophilus Rousselle.” His voice was as velvety as his coat. “I’m glad I was able to make your acquaintance.”
“How do you know who I am?” Elizabeth questioned, trying not to let the man’s appearance distract her.
“I heard many people say that Elizabeth Andrews is the most beautiful woman in Williamsburg, so once I saw you, I knew who you were. Although, upon meeting you, I must say that ‘the most beautiful woman in Williamsburg’ is much too modest a title for you. I certainly have never met a woman more beautiful than you.”
Elizabeth blushed. “Am I correct to assume then that you are not from here?”
“No, I’m just a passerby. Here to stay as long as Williamsburg keeps my heart captured, which I feel may be longer than I had previously thought.”
“Then where are you from?”
“From? If you mean where I was born, then that is inconsequential, paltry in the grand scheme of things. In the book of the world, where you are from is only a single sentence. A mere nondescript speck amongst a grand tapestry of life, the great journey common to all men, no matter who they are or where they are from. This peregrination gives no thought, no acknowledgement of where we were born, who we were born to, or who we were. Only who we are and who we will become.”
Elizabeth was so caught up in the ornateness and grandeur of his speech that she did not notice how everyone stared at them, the two most beautiful people in the room both standing together.
“But if you mean what I am made of,” he continued. “Then it is just the same as every person. Passion, a longing for adventure that shall never be quelled, a desire for substance, more than settling down and doing what is expected of you can ever give you.”
“You are a traveler then?” Elizabeth asked.
“Indeed. I’ve been to all of the American colonies, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the orient. If it has been discovered by man, I have seen it.”
Everything about this man had captured Elizabeth, from his resplendent smile, emerald eyes that blazed with ardor, the way everything he said sounded like a poem. He spoke of adventure, of traveling, what Elizabeth had always longed for. She wanted nothing more than to listen to his voice for the rest of her life. It was like sweet wine to her ears and she wanted to drink more of it. She did not even feel foolish for the way this man she just met had conquered her thoughts. She was almost angry when John interrupted her and pulled her away to meet someone else.
John pulled his sister aside.
“What are you doing?” He hissed.
Elizabeth looked at her brother with annoyance and confusion.
“I was just talking to someone! And he’s obviously wealthy. Why are you mad at me?”
“Who is he?”
“Theophilus Rousselle.”
“And who is that?”
“How am I supposed to know? I’ve only just met him!”
“No one else knows who he is.”
“That’s why people make introductions.”
“You aren’t listening! He could be anyone! I don’t think you should be speaking to him.”
“That would be rather rude.”
“You don’t speak to Benjamin.”
“You or Father or Charles would chastise me if I did. At least this man is wealthy.”
“Just because he has fancy clothes does not mean he’s wealthy. For all you know, those are the only clothes he owns.”
“I think I would smell that. And if you only owned one coat, it wouldn’t be velvet.”
“What did you say his surname was? Russell?”
“Rousselle,” She corrected, and emphasized the pronunciation to show off her French.
“Exactly!” John said as though he had caught Elizabeth in a trap. “He’s French. That doesn’t exactly make him loyal to the king of England.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I’ll try to interrogate him next time I speak to him.”
“I just think you should let Father investigate his background before you get to caught up in him.”
Elizabeth felt accused and it showed in her face.
“Everyone saw it, Lizzie. You lack subtlety.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “No one cared so much about what I did or who I talked to until you brought Benjamin Tallmadge with you.”
“Because Father doesn’t like him.”
“Who does?”
“Just because you’re angry, there’s no need to take it out on a friend of mine.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes again. John swore they were going to roll right out of her head.
“Can I have fun for once? Or do I need to ask Father before I so much as look at anyone?”
“Just don’t do anything that makes Father angry. He always blames me.”
“Well if you don’t tell him, he won’t blame you.”
“Charles will tell him.”
“Father knows what a sycophant Charles is. All that matters is what Thomas tells him. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to talking to my friend. Surely no one can be upset with me for that.”
Elizabeth returned to Susannah who had a million questions after seeing her and Theophilus.
“Theophilus?” Susannah questioned the name.
Elizabeth did not think it strange. She was too caught up in her daydreams. “Yes, what a resplendent name.”
Now Susannah rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you are in love with him after only meeting him.”
Elizabeth was beginning to grow tired of constantly being accused.
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
Susannah looked behind Elizabeth and giggled to herself.
“What?” Elizabeth asked.
“Your favorite caller is here.”
Elizabeth turned around and looked in dread as Joseph Chambers approached her.
“Hello, Mr. Chambers,” she greeted as politely as she could manage.
“I am glad to see you here, Miss Andrews,” he said with a strange mix of monotony and nervousness. At least his jitters gave his voice a cadence that sounded almost human. “Would you care to dance?”
Elizabeth wanted to say no, but there was no polite way to do so and both Charles and John were watching her. She begrudgingly agreed and he took her hand in his.
Joseph was silent the entire time they danced. He barely even looked at her, too caught up in making sure he performed all of the steps perfectly. Elizabeth stole several glances at Theophilus, who occasionally looked at her and smiled. Elizabeth’s eyes jumped to Benjamin, but only because she was curious as to how he was reacting. She caught him giving dirty looks to Theophilus and for some reason this made Elizabeth even more attracted to the mysterious stranger.

The dance finally ended and Elizabeth got as far away from Joseph as she could. She did not realize that this put her unfortunately close to Benjamin who took the opportunity to make polite conversation with her.

“It is strange how I rarely see you despite being in the same house,” Benjamin noted.

Elizabeth nodded with disinterest. Benjamin continued to drone on about something, trying his best to make Elizabeth interested, but she did not even maintain eye contact with him. Ben was surprised that she did not even try to argue with him about anything. Just to check if she was paying attention at all, he slipped in a statement about what a foolish idea it was to educate women, which he did not believe. He would rather Elizabeth belittle him and mock his intelligence than completely ignore him. Just as he was about to give up and concede, Theophilus Rousselle appeared, the air suddenly smelling of expensive cologne.
“Miss Andrews, I did not come to Williamsburg to not dance with the most beautiful woman in the world.” He bowed and kissed her hand before leading her to join the other dancers.
Benjamin watched for a short while, but the jealousy overcame him. He felt foolish for being so in love with a woman who was so cruel to him, but he could not help himself. How could any man not fall in love with Elizabeth? She was somehow more brilliant than she was beautiful, and she certainly did not lack pulchritude. He quickly decided to just leave the party altogether, complaining to John about a fake headache and departing.

Elizabeth did not even notice his exit. Her entire mind was seized by Theophilus. As she danced with him, she began to feel something deep inside her. It was not like what she had felt that time she pitied Benjamin. This was stronger, hotter, and burned more fiercely. She felt her cheeks grow warm whenever they touched. For once, she seemed to be at a loss for words. They never lost eye contact, both breathing in as much of the other as they could. When the dance ended, Elizabeth felt a sense of withdrawal, like she had eaten an entire meal but was still hungry with nothing to fill her.

Charles did not let the dance go unnoticed. He quickly swooped in and took Elizabeth away, introducing her to his friends, especially those who were also in the army. When Elizabeth eventually left the party and returned home with John, she had had no other interactions with Theophilus besides the dance. But the dance was everything.