Loyalty Lies (Part IV)

Jane walked, disenchanted, to work, wondering why she had to put up with all those foul mouthed soldiers every day.  They were constantly teasing all the girls. Jane never cared much for flirting.  She didn’t even want to flirt with Ben, she certainly was not going to flirt with the soldiers. Still, work was work and she had to make ends meet.  When she walked in the door there was already a list of things she could see that needed to be done.

“Jane,” Ben called.

“Oh Ben, hello.  Is anything the matter.”

“No, no.  I just wanted to say hello and ask if it was okay with you if I walked you home after work today.”

“Yes, that would be fine.’

“Great! Your father’s invited me over to talk and I didn’t want you to think I was just going to follow you home or something,” he said with a smile.

“Oh no that’s alright,” Jane said trying to laugh.  She had no idea what on earth Pa and Ben could possibly have to talk about.  She would find out tonight, but still the thought of it haunted her all day.

Jane didn’t finish work until late in the evening.  She thought her family would all be in bed by the time she got home and assumed that Ben had changed his mind about walking home with her since it was so late already.  As she headed down the path, breathing in the fresh night air, she couldn’t help but wonder why Ben had wanted to walk her home.  And she couldn’t help but hope, just a little bit.  “Jane! Jane!” she heard a voice behind her.  Turning, she saw it was Ben running down the path after her. “Jane, why didn’t you wait for me?” he asked.

“It was so late, I thought you’d have changed you mind.”

“No, I need to speak with your father, tonight.”

“Oh, about what?” Jane asked trying to ignore the fact that her heart just skipped a beat.

“I ran into him in the village the other day, while running errands.  He and I got to talking about some of the political things that are going on.  Your father suggested we sit down one evening soon and have a chat, we thought you might like to be there too.”  Jane’s heart sank to the ground, she only hoped her face didn’t go with it.

“It’s so late.  Does this political meeting of the minds really have to be tonight?  I’m tired, I’m sure you’re tired, and my Pa is probably already asleep,” said a disappointed and now exasperated Jane.

“It has to be tonight.”

“Well if Pa is asleep I won’t wake him for you.”

“Then I’ll wake him myself.”  Jane and Ben were both tired and agitated.  This was the first time Jane had ever seen Ben so serious and the first time Ben had seen Jane so irritated. The walk was quiet. Neither of them spoke again until Jane’s house was insight.

“There’s a light in the window, at this hour,” said a confused Jane.

“It looks like I won’t have to wake your Pa up after-all,” said Ben with a smile. “I’m sorry I yelled Jane.”

“Let’s go inside.” Jane smiled.

The small candle glowing on the wooden made the empty room seem warm and cozy.  There at the table sat Jane’s father, not at all surprised to see Ben.

“Pa why are you still up?  What on earth is so important that the two of you need to be up talking at this ungodly hour?” asked Jane.

“Jane, I’ve been waiting for you.  There’s something important we all need to discuss,” her father replied.

“So I’m told.  Well, what is it?”

“Jane,” Ben stepped in.  “Jane you and I have both been working at the Governor’s house now for several months.”

“Thanks for the news,” said Jane somewhat snippily.  She wasn’t proud of herself, but she was tired.

“Come on Jane, listen.  This is important,” said Pa.  “Go ahead Ben keep talking.”

“Jane, we’ve seen soldiers come and go.  We’ve heard them talk.  In the beginning they would discuss their military plans freely around anyone and everyone, but now they’re more discreet around me.  They caught on to the fact that I was listening.”

“Well, it’s very rude to eavesdrop,” said Jane.

“Yes, but Jane the plans that the soldiers are making, the information they have, it could be vital to the patriot cause.”

“Well, then you should have been more careful.”

“Yes, he sould have,” said Pa vindictively.

“Yes, I should have,” said Ben.  “But it’s too late to go back now.  That’s why we need you Jane.”

“Me, for what?”

“You’re plan B.”

“How flattering.’

“Come on Jane. The soldiers seem to trust you.  They don’t watch what they say around you at all.”

“So now you want me to spy on them for you is that it?  This is ridiculous, you were sloppy, you messed up and now you want me to save you.  To risk my job, to risk my life for your cause!” Jane was livid.

“For his cause,” interrupted Pa loudly , “this is our cause, this is all ours’s cause.  You’ve seen what the British have done to us.  How can you go into the governors house every day and see how he lives, and come home to this cabin at night after all the work we put in and not make this your cause Jane?”

“The governor gave me a job Pa.  That job saved our family, and I’m supposed to hate him for it?”

“Jane they’re thieves.  They’re stealing not just our money, but our freedom,” said Ben. “Think of how hard it was on your family when your Pa got hurt.  It wouldn’t have been that bad if taxes weren’t so heavy. Jane just think of the soldiers.  I’ve seen them when you’re working flirting with you, teasing you.” Ben was blushing. “They don’t respect you, and they don’t respect the rights of the colonies.  No one’s asking you to give your life, all we’re asking for is a little information.”

“Even if I could get you the information you wanted, what difference would it make?  It’s not like you can just walk right up and give it to George Washington.”

“Don’t worry about that Jane,” said Ben, “You get the information to me, I’ll get it to him.”

“I don’t know about all of this.  I need to think about it.”

“Don’t think to long Jane,” said Pa, “The time to act is now.”

“Why don’t you sleep on it Jane?  I’ll see you at work tomorrow, okay?” said Ben.

“Okay, goodnight Ben.”  When Ben had left Jane sat at the table across from her father.  Neither of them said a word.  He stared at the candlelight and Jane stared at him.  As she looked at the broken man across from her she wondered what it was that made him believe so much in this cause that he would be willing to sacrifice the little he had left in life for it.  She had never seen him look so vulnerable and she knew she would carry that image of her father in the candlelight with her for the rest of her life.

The final part to come next week

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