Day One, check out the posts at http://annie-lucas.livejournal.com/
Also in Day Two, see my partner’s post at http://mrjthornton.blogspot.com/
Welcome to the PARTY-
all this week, us diehard Armitage fans will be saluting - saluting?- who are we kidding? - we will all be hemming and hawing and drooling and dreaming about the most handsome, suave, talented man on the planet
All the party houses are linked together for optimal Armitage intoxication-So grab something with ICE in it and come on into my room, put on the soft music and get ready to build a western in your head because this is the place where you will take the image of our handsome hero and insert it into the personna of handsome 'Captain Declan Gainey of the US CALVARY' as he is entangled in the history of the Indian wars of the Montana Territory.
sort of a Dances with Wolves kinda thing- Gainey by the way is the name brought here to US from Ireland by my ancestors
this story, originally written for another purposeand who's hero was inspired by you know who, will be posted in three parts, on the 3rd post, in honor of all RA enthusiasts & St. Patty's Day I will be leaving the story end open - those who wish, may add to it in the comment box -- you decide how it ends.
Surrender My Heart
Late February, 1866
Jennalyn Kennedy stood on the boarding platform nervously awaiting the early morning westbound train. She noticed that her hands began to shake as she reached for the small locket which hung around her neck. There was no mistaking the reality of her recent misfortune now. Her bags were packed and ticket bought, she had no choice now but to move forward. She flipped the gold trinket open to reveal the tiny clock hidden inside then sighed heavily then promptly clipped it shut. Five a.m. “The train should be coming by now,” she heard the words echo in her mind but she had not realized that she had also spoken them aloud.
“It’s always a bit late in the icy weather, Miss,” the old gray haired conductor clambered as he stepped up beside her, “and this morning is quite bitter.”
“Yes it is.” Jenna replied with a small shiver. Her old wool coat, which had once belonged to her mother, held great sentimental value and she swore never to let it go but it was worn thin and wasn’t very warm.
“We always have a few coats and shawls in the ticket office that have been left behind on the trains. Would you like the use of one, Miss?”
“Oh thank you sir,” she resounded with her soft Irish accent, “that would be wonderful.”
The man disappeared into the office and momentarily returned with a rather expensive looking wool shawl. “Here you go now,” he smile as he draped it over her shoulders, “This should be keeping you snug and warm.”
“Thank you again, sir,” Jenna nodded.
“You should have dressed warmer, Miss,” the old man smiled. “Philadelphia gets mighty cold too.”
“Oh I’m not staying in Philadelphia, I just have to switch trains there.”
“Well then, where are you going?”
“My final stop will be in Virginia City in the Montana Territory.”
The wilderness of Montana. The thought made her shiver even harder than the cold. This is not the first time her life had been uprooted because of financial difficulties, but it was the first time she would be on her own, a young woman alone in the world, at least until she reached her destination. She, her parents and her grandfather had traveled to Boston eight years earlier to escape the poverty and political disruption in Ireland. Her older brother had been involved with the Finnians, a group of Irish rebels protesting the English rule of their country. He was killed by the local English lord for his participation in the movement. Being under continuous watch by the authorities, due to her brother’s criminal status, her family fled their home to find a better life in America.
Her father and grandfather found work on a fishing boat while she and her mother found jobs at a nearby garment factory. After two years of working impossible hours and scrimping and saving the family was able to open a pub near the docks. Things looked up for them but then the War Between the States broke out and her father signed up with the Union Army. Having grown up in the political turmoil and hardships of a country such as Ireland, he felt it was his new found duty to defend the right to freedom, anyone’s freedom.
He died from a gunshot wound only a month after he enlisted and her mother, stricken with severe grief, died only four months later, leaving poor Jenna to manage the pub with her grandfather. Her grandfather it seemed, however, had no head for the details of running a business, that part had been her father’s job. He was a dandy behind the bar and keeping the customers happy but the books were left to Jenna. She tried her best to keep the accounts afloat but her grandfather, partially due to the senility and forgetfulness of age, was spending more than they were making and not always spending it on the proper things.
When her grandfather died three months ago she sold the pub and settled all their debts which left her with only one hundred dollars to her name. She turned to the only other family she had left, her uncle Seamus O’Reilly. He came to the United States several years earlier than she and her parents and had built himself a thriving horse ranch in the Montana Territory. “Who better to know horse raisin’ than an Irishman,” he wrote in one of his letters to his sister Elise, Jenna’s mother.
The sudden jerk as the train slowly lurched forward startled her out of her daydream. With a huge sigh she rested her head against the glass while tears rolled down her freckled cheeks as she watched the crowded city gradually fade away into the less occupied countryside through the window. Before long the swaying of the car and the rhythmic sound of the wheels going thump-thump along the track had lulled her to sleep.
“Miss,” Jennalyn heard a male voice in the distance. She opened her eyes and found herself staring at a middle-aged man with wire rimed glasses. “Miss, we have arrived in Philadelphia.”
“Thank you, sir,” she said gathering her bag, straightening her bonnet. Once off the train she took a look around. From what she could see around the station Philadelphia didn’t seem any different than Boston, except that there were quite a few blue coat clad soldiers around. This, in turn, promptly reminded her of the day they had left Ireland and all the English soldiers patrolling the docks in Galloway. The Civil War had been over for nearly a year but there were still uprisings every now and again even in Boston. “There must still be a lot of rebels causing trouble if the Army is needed so heavily here.” She whispered to herself, approaching the ticket window. “How long until the train to St. Louis?”
“Not long Miss,” the man said, “expecting it any minute now.”
“Thank you.” Jenna turned away and sat down on the bench next to the other window to wait.
A few minutes later she was joined by a rather pretty girl about her own age. “Hi, name is Corrine LeDuc.” The girl held out her hand. Jenna smiled and shook it. “Are you going to St. Louis?”
“Only to switch trains again then I’ll be heading west.” Jenna told her.
“West! Is there anywhere further west then St .Louis?” The girl sniggered. Corrine’s attitude and mannerisms clearly told Jenna she was from money.
“The Montana Territory,” Jenna answered.
“Why on earth would a lady want to go to such a wild and dangerous place as that?” Corrine squealed. “You’re not running from the authorities are you?”
“No,” Jenna fought off the urge roll her eyes and make a comment she would regret later. “My uncle has a horse ranch there and I am going to stay there for a while. The rest of my family are dead and I am otherwise alone.”
“Oh dear, I’m so sorry.” Corrine added. “It must be horrid for you.”
“Would you mind if we kept each other company on the train? Truthfully, I don’t like traveling alone either.” Corrine placed her hand on Jenna’s as if she were an old friend.
“Why not,” Jenna replied, “At least we won’t be bored.” The girls promptly boarded the train when it arrived at the station. They found seats together at the rear of the car. Over the next few minutes other passengers, mostly men, trickled in until nearly every seat was filled. The conductor entered through the door beside their seats from the next car, the caboose.
“Good morning ladies,” he tipped his hat after he finished rubbing his hands together to warm them. “it’s a bit nippy this morning.”
“Yes, quite,” Corrine smiled up at him. He was young, perhaps in his mid-twenties and very handsome in his dark blue uniform, sandy brown hair and sparkling green eyes. “Do you know how the weather is in St. Louis?” she asked as she handed him her ticket.
“Much colder I imagine, heard they had a heavy snow a couple of days ago.” He returned Corrine’s ticket stub and took Jenna’s. “Spring won’t be coming any time soon I reckon. It’s hard to believe it’s already March.” He handed Jenna’s ticket back to her tipped his hat again and winked at Corrine. “You ladies enjoy your trip now,” he moved on to the next passenger.
With big wide eyes Corrine watched him as he moved through the car greeting everyone politely and stamping their tickets. “He is absolutely adorable,” Corrine whispered to Jenna, “don’t you think?”
“I hadn’t noticed.” Jenna replied quietly then turned to look out the window. She had come to the rapid conclusion that Corrine’s attention would be on the young conductor the whole way to St. Louis and was already dreading the frivolous, fawning conversation that would ensue. Corrine immediately began her mindless chatter while Jenna simply stared out at the people on the boarding platform only half listening.
Only minutes before the train was due to depart, a tall soldier in a Union Cavalry uniform approached one of the older conductors on the platform. Jenna watched as the two men talked then the conductor pointed to the young man who had stamped her ticket. The soldier shook his hand then followed him onto the train. As the two men came through the door at the front of the car the conductor point towards Jenna and Corrine. The soldier nodded and the conductor disappeared back out the door.
Jenna tried not to stare as the tall soldier made his way through the narrow isle to wher where she sat. He was a good head taller than the young conductor with long dark hair that stopped just below his jaw line and blue eyes, which seemed to shine exceptionally bright from under the white western-style calvary officer’s hat. His broad shoulders were made to look even more so by the epaulets on his jacket.
Corrine had been struck momentarily speechless when he came in but her voice quickly returned as she squeezed Jenna’s hand and exclaimed in a low voice, “Oh! Good Lord Jesus! He is coming toward our seats!”
“Calm yourself.” Jenna scolded her new friend.
“Miss Kennedy?” The soldier asked, removing his hat.
“Captain, “ he said switching his white riding gloves and hat to his left hand and holding out his right, “Captain Declan Gainey, 1st U.S. Calvary, ma’am. I’m a friend of your uncle Seamus. He sent a telegraph asking me to look after you during your trip since I was on my way back to Laramie myself." he took a deep breath and smiled, "He described you rather well, I had no trouble picking you out of the crowd.”
“Really? Well, that’s very kind of you but I don’t need an escort, Captain. I can take care of myself rather well thank you.”
“Oh, I see.” He turned his gaze to the floor for a second. “Then perhaps I can just keep you company, it is a long trip.” His eyes seemed soulful and sincere. Before Jenna could say another word Corrine joined in.
“Of course, Captain Gainey, we would adore your company,” she smiled and signaled for him to have a seat. “I’m sure you have plenty of stories with which you can entertain us. I’m only going as far as St. Louis but I would love to hear about your adventures in the wild and wooly Indian country.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have many adventurous stories to tell.” The Captain said as he sat down in the seat across from the girls.
“How do you know my uncle, Captain?” Jenna asked smugly.
“He supplies the Calvary with some mighty fine horses, ma’am.” He answered. “He is an excellent business man,”
“Seamus always did have a way with the animals,” she said as she stared out the window. Though it was difficult, she made a conscious effort not to look at the handsome Captain and even if there had been no refection in the glass she could have told he was staring at her, she felt his eyes on her every move.
Once in St. Louis, having left her mailing address with Jenna, Corrine disembarked the train. The young conductor, who had spent the whole two day trip dotting over her, accompanied her. They were to have dinner before he left on the next train back to Philadelphia. Corrine had kept the Captain busy with questions about the wilderness and the Indians for most of the trip so Jenna and he had barely said two words between them. She was thankful for that but from here on she would have no excuse for not making polite conversation with him.
Corrine had chattered on and on all through the trip to St. Louis. Normally this would have annoyed Jenna to no end, she was not terribly fond of chatty people, but for once she was glad for it as it kept the Captain somewhat occupied. Jenna occupied herself by watching the countryside passed by the window. She dropped off to sleep a few times and took a stroll through the cars to stretch her legs. She avoided looking at the man sitting across from her as much as possible but she could feel his eyes fixed on her. Whenever she glanced his way she would ultimately find herself staring into those bright blue orbs and she would quickly turn away, blushing.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like him. He seemed very charming but he was a soldier and she knew what kind of life soldiers led. She saw what happened to soldier’s wives both in Ireland and Boston and what happened to her mother when her father died fighting in Virginia and she was determined that she was not going to put herself through that kind of worry. If she fell in love with anyone at all it certainly would not be a soldier.
Jenna felt even more nervous when Corrine finally disembarked the train in St. Louis. She knew she had no other option but to socialize with the Captain.
“Your uncle is greatly looking forward to your arrival, Miss Kennedy.” The Captain said politely in his deep, smooth voice.
“I’m looking forward to it as well, Captain.” Jenna said as she looked down toward her hands. “I don’t particularly enjoy traveling. I’ll be glad to be over with it.”
The Captain smiled slightly, “I’m rather anxious to return as well. I don’t quite know what to do with myself when I’m not on duty.”
“My father always said that if one sits still for too long life will pass by and leave you behind.” Jenna added.
Neither said another word for a long while. As the sun began to go down Captain Gainey broke the silence. “I would be happy to escort you to the dining car, ma’am if you would like something to eat.”
Jenna’s first instinct was to refuse his offer but her stomach had been growling for the past hour and she knew he heard this last rumble quite clearly. “Thank you, Captain. That would be very kind of you. Now that you mention it I am a bit famished.”
The Captain followed behind her as they made their way to the dining car in the center of the train, a chalk board hung on the wall with the dinner choices. The porter led them to an empty table and waited for their order. “I think I’ll just have some of the soup, thank you.” Jenna told the young man.
“And I’ll have a steak.” The Captain added then continued speaking to Jenna when the porter walked away, “I won’t get a meal like this for a while after we get back to Laramie. It’ll be beans and cornbread everyday I’m afraid.”
“In your line of work one must take the pleasures when one can get them and learn to make do I suppose.” Jenna had no idea what she was saying but she didn’t want to appear rude or despondent. “How long have you known my uncle Seamus?”
“Oh about, three years, ever since I went out west,” he removed his hat and put it on the seat beside him. “I love it out there.”
“What were you doing back east? Were you visiting family?”
“No, I had to retrieve some official papers from Washington for my Post Commander,” he explained.
“Official papers? Sounds intriguing.”
“Not really, just Indian affairs, everyday business to us.”
“What are the Indians like?” Jenna asked. “Is it dangerous to live there?”
“Well, ma’am, it’s not any more dangerous than a big city like Boston just different.” He smiled, “There are a few renegade troublemakers, which the Calvary deals with, but over all their pretty peaceful. There’s more wars between tribes then there are skirmishes with us. But they do happen.”
“Really? Have you fought in any?”
“A few,” he gave a crooked grin. “Your uncle has a pretty good standing with the tribal leaders, Miss Kennedy. Your uncle wouldn’t have sent for you if it weren’t safe.”
“Then why did he wire you to watch over me?” Jenna said sarcastically.
“He just figured you needed company I imagine.” He replied though he was not telling her the entire truth. Trouble was coming, that’s what he was doing in Washington, those documents were for changes in territory laws some of which would not be received well by the Natives. Seamus made sure she was traveling with the one person the Indains left alone.
After a little over a week of traveling on three different trains, Jenna, at last, came to the final leg of her journey. The next two nights were to be spent at Fort Laramie as the guest of Colonel Steed, where the handsome Captain promised she would be able to enjoy a hot bath and a soft bed. “Thank the Lord for small pieces of heaven,” she told the sergeant who helped her with her bags.
In addition to being her escort, Captain Gainey and his men were assigned to take a wagon to Virginia City to pick up the fort's payroll, though she would not be actually going all the way to town as the ranch where Jenna’s uncle lived was on the way. Her stop was to come an hour sooner than the others. The Captain and is men were to deliver the documents from Washington to the Magistrate’s office and bring back the the monthly wages for the troops. The word about the change in the laws had reached the territory long ahead of the train that carried the documents and the previously peaceful Indians were already preparing to fight for what little homeland and freedom they had left, especially one called Red Cloud.
“You’ll be safe and sound at your uncle’s place by tomorrow afternoon, Miss Kennedy.” Captain Gainey said as he politely tipped his hat before he helped Jenna into the covered wagon on the fouth day of the dusty but cold journey through the open plains .
“Thank you Captain,” she smiled back at him. His bright blue eyes, crooked smile and silky smooth voice were beginning to grow on her. He was completely different than the other soldiers she had come into contact with since she arrived, including the Colonel. The others had been either, rough and uneducated, some even done right disgusting or they were, as in the case of the Colonel, sophisticated but far too arrogant and boastful. Captain Gainey was sophisticated but not overbearingly so, yet, in his expressions and mannerisms he revealed a man who would probably have preferred a simple and quiet lifestyle. He was well liked by officers and enlisted alike and had a presence that commanded the respect of the men far more quickly than the Colonel or the other officers. “I will be very glad to finally bring all my travels to an end.”
“Seamus will be quite relieved to see you arrive safely.” Captain Gainey nodded, then climbed up on his horse and road out in front of the wagon. With a slight jerk the wagon began to roll forward. Jenna breathed a small sigh of relief and whispered a short pray for a safe and timely journey northwestward to the ranch.
The ride was relatively quiet but considerably rough. The road was rocky and the think layer of snow and ice made it more so, she was being tossed about in the back of the wagon with the cargo so she climbed out from under the arched canvas cover and sat next to the, rather smelly, driver on the buckboard seat. A warming breeze came from the east and considering the unsavory odor of the driver’s uniform she was glad it was blowing at her, even though it blew dust in her eyes. Ahead of the wagon were the Captain, who switched off from riding in the front to the back of the caravan often, and five mounted soldiers and behind were five more on horseback, all heavily armed and hyper-vigilante in their lookout duties. The wagon carried the chest for the money, plenty of ammunition for the rifles, a few dozen canteens full of water besides the one each of the men carried in their saddlebags, a slab of bacon, beans and cornmeal, as well as Jenna’s two bags containing all her worldly possessions. The important documents were not left inside the wagon but tucked safely into the Captain’s saddlebag where he could keep them close.
Later in the afternoon when the air began blow stronger and colder Jenna climbed back inside the wagon and covered up with a blanket. Dusk was approaching, she had begun to wonder how much longer it would be before they stopped to camp for the night. The temperature dropped suddenly and she could feel the dampness right through to her bones. She longed for the heat of a fire on her hands and feet and some hot tea in her stomach. Just as she had drifted off she heard the Captain calling her name.
“Miss Kennedy, we’re stopping for the night,” he called from outside the canvas. When she didn’t answer right away he poked his head in to see if she was alright. “Miss Kennedy, are you sleeping?”
“I was, Captain Gainey, but not anymore,” she pushed the covers off her head.
“We’ve stopped to camp for the night, ma’am. As soon as we have a strong fire going we’ll have some dinner.”
“Thank you, Captain. The warmth of some hot food will be most welcome.”
“I have no doubt it will. I might remind you ma’am not to wander off to far, we are in Indian Territory and you can never tell when one of them will pop up.” He explained as he helped her down.
“Thank you, Captain.” She smiled up at him as her feet hit the ground for the first time in almost twelve hours. “I'll keep that in mind.”
A very young soldier came running up and saluted. “Sir, the sergeant needs to see you.”
“I’ll be right there corporal,” he answered without even taking his eyes off Jenna’s face. The young man quickly ran away and Captain Gainey stood in silence, is eyes glued to Jenna’s.
“Hadn’t you go see what the sergeant needs.” She blinked and broke the bond.
“Yes,” he snapped out of his trance and turned to leave then paused. “I would look out for snakes as well if I were you. they'll be looking for heat.” He glanced back over his shoulder then walked off into the darkness.
Jenna stayed close to the wagon until the fire was lit then walked toward it. Two men had hauled out the provisions and started cooking. One of them cooked up enough bacon for each person to have a couple thick slices, while the other mixed the cornmeal with some water and fried it like pancakes in the grease from the bacon. There were two pots of coffee sitting on some of the hot coals. She poured herself a cup.
Closing her eyes she dreamily inhaled the steam, the warmth and the scent of fresh coffee made her feel less anxious. Her lips, chaffed from the wind, burned when she took the first sip but the sensation of the hot liquid flowing down her throat began to radiate throughout her body. “I don’t typically care for camp coffee, but when it’s this cold it’s like the taste of the summer sun.” She instantly recognized the smooth voice that came up behind her.
“I don’t generally like coffee at all but well put, Captain, it does seem like a dose of summer. I hadn’t realized how badly I needed it.” She watched him pour his own cup full then pull out a small flask. He unscrewed the top and poured a few drops into his coffee,
“Would you like a taste, Miss Kennedy?” He asked, holding the flask out to her. Jenna just stared at him for a moment then took it from his hand. She sniffed it then poured a small drop into her cup. “Irish whiskey? You surprise me, I would never have thought you to be a whiskey drinker, Captain Gainey.”
“Only Irish whiskey, Miss Kennedy,” he grinned and took a swig from the container.
“Well, then I must say, you have impeccable taste.” She raised her cup and smiled from ear to ear.
With the men fed and the horses tended to everyone sat around the fire to stay warm. Most everyone talked about the current attempt at a treaty with the tribal chiefs.
This was definitely a new subject for discussion to Jenna. She could tell you anything you wanted to know about the political state of Boston and Ireland, and was considered to be very political, but Indian affairs were new to her. She wasn’t oblivious to it, it’s just that she had no more of an inkling about the dealings with Indians than her grandfather had about running a business, just enough to get yourself into trouble.
“Captain Gainey,” she decide to jump into the conversation, “If this were Ireland I would be on the rebellious side as well. The Indians don’t want some strange immigrants from across the ocean to rule over them and take what was theirs first, anymore than the Irish want England to rule Ireland. I reverently sympathize with them.”
“I agree with you in that respect, ma’am but all we’re asking right now is that a road, this road your on now, be made safe for settlers who wish to travel through here.” the Captain tried to explain.
“But you want to put up forts along the way, if it were just a road for civilians I believe they would not feel so threatened. Believe me I understand them completely.”
“But Miss Kennedy you can’t compare this situation to the Finnian troubles in Ireland.” The sergeant disputed.
“Surely you can see, sergeant that in concept the two are the same.” She squabbled.
The Captain could see a very heated argument on the rise and so decided to call for everyone to retire. Three men at a time would stand two hour watch shifts. Jenna returned to the wagon to sleep. “Good night, Captain.” she said as she climbed up under the canvas canopy.
“Good night Miss Kennedy.” He replied and began to walk away but after a few steps he returned. “Miss Kennedy,” he leaned against the corner, “I agree with you about the overall position of the Natives. I don’t think we should be taking their land away either. But I'm in a very auspicious postion here, ma'am. I may be a Calvary officer but I'm also one of them.”
“Really? You look nothing like…”
The Captain quickly shushed her. “No one knows ma’am and around here no one can know. My grandmother on my father’s side was half Cherokee, from Georgia. That makes me an eighth Cherokee, the rest of me is Irish and German from Ohio. Half-breeds are treated worse than the black slaves were. I would not be an officer if they knew and I have orders to follow, if they say fight, then I have to fight or be branded a coward and then neither side would want me with them. Believe me Miss Kennedy, cowards are frowned upon, even more so in the Indian world than here in ours. So as you can see I have a difficult enough time with this assignment.”
Jenna squeezed his hand as he rested it on the back of the wagon. “I won’t say a word Captain, ever,” she whispered.
Come back Thursday for an other installment of Surrender My Heart
For more FANFIC in FanstRA 3, see my partner’s post at http://mrjthornton.blogspot.com/
are at http://thearmitageeffect.wordpress.com/
Tomorrow, FANFIC tagteam continues at http://cswinchester.blogspot.com/ & http://flyhigh-by-learnonline.blogspot.com/ All F3 links can be found here.