Beginning, Section II
Part Three (continued)
Everyone marched toward Leipzig in the lowest spirits. None of the Swedes in the regiment knew a thing about the city that they were marching to, so Jack took it upon himself to ask the guide what he knew.
"Leipzig. Every man in Germany knows of Leipzig. It is the center of German book and music publishing. Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach lived in the city? It is a great city and very famous for it's concerts and the University of Leipzig was founded in 1409," the guide said proudly.
"Where is the location of the city?" Jack asked.
"It is at the junction of the Elster, Pleisse, Parthe and Weisse rivers, making it an excellent port."
"Have there every been other battles at Leipzig?"
"Have there been? Now let me remember exactly...ah yes. The first battle of Leipzig was between Sweden and Germany in around 1631. Gustavus Adolphus won a great victory over the German forces then. The second battle was in, um, in 1642, fought between the Germans and Swedes (again). The Swedes once more conquered and occupied Leipzig until 1650." The German stole a glance at the Swedes walking beside him, but then shrugged. "That's all I know."
"Thank you," Jack said and then joined his other comrades, reporting what he had learned.
Approaching Leipzig, the regiment was joined by many other Swedish companies; everyone was hurrying. On October 16th, 1813, when the city of Leipzig was in plain view and the fighting already started, Prussia, Austria and Russia against France, Anders suggested that they pray before entering the battlefield.
The regiment gathered together and formed a circle. Anders led the prayer. As they prayed, Jack looked at the faces of the men who were now as dear to him as brothers. He looked upon them for perhaps the last time. Who would survive the battle that was already going on? He listened to the words of Anders as he prayed, and although they were in Swedish, he felt a great sense of comfort and peace.
The cries of war could be heard as Prince Bernadotte led his army to Leipzig on the 17th of October. As they just came to the battlefield, Jack asked Anders one question,
"Do you know what we are fighting for?"
"No, I don't really know."
Jack shook his head. "Are you prepared to die for a cause about which you know nothing about?" Jack asked, and Anders looked at him for a moment.
"I am prepared to die for my country, are you?"
"I don't know, Anders, I don't know." It was then that the battle began.
It has been said that out of the three days that the fighting went on in the Battle of Leipzig, October 17th was the day when everyone fought the fiercest. Only a man who has fought in a war can understand the horror of it. Men dying, screams, blood and bodies everywhere. No one could fight in the battle of Leipzig and come home the same man.
Jack fought by the side of his friends all day. The horrors he witnessed he would never forget. He watched as many of the men he knew fell down, one by one. How many men he killed himself he did not know.
Suddenly he felt a searing pain in his leg. He fell to his knees just as something came crashing against his head and he knew no more.
Anders saw Jack go down as a Frenchman knocked him out with the butt of his bayonet and then hit him in the ribs. The Frenchman would have finished Jack off soon if Anders had not shot him.
Anders rushed over to his friend, whose leg was bleeding seriously.
"Jack! Jack, please don't die!" he cried as he lifted Jack from the ground with strong arms.
Anders carried, or rather, dragged him for a long time, trying to get Jack out of the battlefield and out of danger. His heroic deed would have succeeded had he not suddenly felt a bullet hit him in the back and fallen forward into darkness.
She went down to the tailor shop
She dressed in man's array.
And labored for the captain
To bear her far away,
To bear her far away...
Eleanor sat in the Fitzwilliams' fine parlor and struggled to keep her voice steady. What did the Lord mean by saying, "He is gone"?
"I repeat myself, young lady, John has gone and will be gone for a very long time," Lord Fitzwilliam said coldly, eyeing the pretty woman before him with evident dislike.
"Gone where, Uncle Fitzwilliam?" Darcy asked.
"To The Continent," Lord Fitzwilliam said and rose from his chair. "Now if you will excuse me, my Lady and I have an engagement."
Eleanor exchanged glances with the Darcys and they stood up. "Thank you for your ... hospitality," Darcy said sarcastically and they left the room.
"I am sorry that - that - " Elizabeth began, but did not finish speaking. Eleanor struggled to hold back tears of frustration, but they disappeared when she saw Edward in the library.
"Elizabeth, you go on ahead to the carriage and wait for me. I need to speak with Edward," Eleanor said, slipping into the library.
Edward was reading when she entered, but upon seeing Eleanor he closed his book and rose to his feet.
"You have come just too late," he said.
"Too late to find Jack?" Eleanor said, tears again clouding her vision.
"The ship left fifteen minutes ago."
"Oh, where? Where is he going?" Eleanor begged. "Please, please tell me."
"To Germany with a tiny Swedish regiment as a witness for British Army. To Germany of all places!" he cried with anger.
"Edward, you must help me," Eleanor said, a plan quickly forming in her mind." I have to find him, I have to!"
"Are you mad? Don't you know what's happening in Germany and all over Europe? There is a war!" Edward cried, "You would be ... you, a lady, should never go there in the midst of battlefields in search of a soldier. Not at a time like this."
"I don't care! You say there is a war going on. What if Jack dies and - and never knows the truth; that I love him and always will," The tears were pouring down her cheeks. "I have to find him, Edward. Please help me." Edward bowed his head.
"I will...try to help you. I know the captain of a ship that is sailing for Germany in a few days. Perhaps I can get you on it as Cabin Boy."
"Cabin Boy!" Eleanor was shocked.
"He is a Navy man and does not take passengers, especially not young women wishing to go to Germany and find her fiancé who is probably in the middle of fighting very bloody battles." He paused, "It is most likely the only way."
"I will do it," Eleanor said after some thought.
Edward smiled sadly. "Good bye, Eleanor, I will come and get you as soon as I have everything worked out."
"Good bye, Edward, thank you," she said quietly and then hurried out of the room to join the Darcys, who had now been waiting for her quite some time.
Eleanor stared out of her window and prayed that God would allow her to find Jack and for him to be all in one piece. Her prayers were interrupted by a knock on her bedroom door; it was Mrs. Swann.
"Dearest, may I come in? I have something important that I wish to speak to you about." Truthfully, Mrs. Swann was the last person Eleanor wanted to speak with at the moment but Eleanor sighed and answered,
"Yes, come in."
"Oh Eleanor you look so sad and melancholy!" Mrs. Swann cried. "Perhaps this news will cheer you up...even though it is a little soon after your engagement was put to an end..."
"What news, Mother Helen?" Eleanor asked, rubbing her temples as she felt a headache coming on.
"Mr. Edgar Clifford has asked for your hand in marriage."
Eleanor stared at her stepmother, "You're not serious."
"I am, darling! And just think, it will be a wonderful match...he is handsome, amiable and very rich."
"And his father runs the largest tailoring business in the country."
"Exactly, and you like him, don't you? Don't you think it's a wonderful idea? Will you accept?"
"Accept!" Eleanor cried, disgusted. "I have lived with you for many years now but I never thought that you would ever tell lies like the ones you have told me. Jack never broke off the engagement. You and father lied - lied to him and to me! I am in love with Jack and will marry only him! And I will find him and make things right between us," Eleanor said. Mrs. Swann looked absolutely furious.
"Then I will give you no choice." Mrs. Swann said and left the room, slamming the door behind her. Eleanor was soon called to her father's study.
"Tell father I will not see him." Eleanor told the servant. Soon, Mr. Swann came up to her room and opened the door without knocking.
"I ordered you to come downstairs and speak with me." Mr. Swann said loudly.
"I am tired, I wish to be alone now and did not want to come downstairs. What do you want?" Eleanor said, not even looking at him as she stared out of the window.
"I do not like your disrespectful tone, young lady," Mr. Swann said, his voice almost shaking with anger.
"I am sorry if I was disrespectful, but you must remember that you are the one who barged into my room without knocking," Eleanor still looked intently out of the window.
"Your mother talked to you about Mr. Edgar Clifford, didn't she?"
"And you refused his offer."
"You will look at me when I am speaking to you," Mr. Swann was barely managing to keep himself from yelling. Eleanor slowly turned her head towards him. "You will accept his offer," He said.
"I will not."
"Pardon me, young lady, but have you any trouble hearing? I said you will accept his offer and that is the end of the discussion. I am writing to Mr. Clifford tonight and you will speak with him tomorrow and you will accept him," Mr. Swann said and then left the room.
"I will run away! You cannot make me marry him!" Eleanor yelled after him. After a few minutes a servant came and locked her window and then her door. She could not get out unless someone opened the door from the outside. It was hopeless.
Part Four (continued)
Eleanor was awakened by the sound of a pebble being thrown against her window. She rubbed her eyes and got up, went over to the window and looked out; it was Edward. She knocked against the window as quietly as possible.
"Edward, what are you doing?"
"Are you ready to leave? I am taking you to a friend's house and from there we will go to the ship. Hurry and get ready for your journey. Pack very lightly," Edward called.
Eleanor quickly put some things into her largest handbag - a comb, dress, soap ... and a few items she thought necessary that would fit into the small bag. She then went back over to the window and remembered that it was locked.
"Edward! It's locked and I cannot get out. Can you open my window for me?" she whispered.
Edward soon scrambled up the tree and opened the window for her with great ease. Eleanor almost laughed as she stepped out onto the branch. They were just about to escape without any noise when the branch broke and they landed hard on the ground. They held their breaths, waiting for the whole house to come alive, but no one was awakened. Edward rose, helped Eleanor to her feet and threw a cloak around her shoulders, leading her out onto the street behind the house.
As they walked Eleanor, noticed that Edward was dressed as any common worker. She repressed a giggle, as it was almost funny seeing him dressed this way. She did not have any more time to think about it though as they came to a small shop on a rather narrow and dark street. Edward knocked on the shop door. A small, old man whose face was very wrinkled soon opened it. He had sharp green eyes that contradicted his old age.
"Edward! We had expected you an hour ago!" he said, ushering into the shop.
Fabrics of every kind were lying everywhere. Ready-made garments and patterns, dresses and other odds and ends were also strewn about the room. It was evidently a tailor's shop.
"Hello," a woman's voice said. Eleanor turned to see a middle-aged woman coming into the room. "So this is the lady I am to turn into a man? Very well, come with me," she said playfully and, taking Eleanor by the arm, led her into the back room.
It was an interesting room, also having many fabrics lying about, but this room was filled with half-made clothing. Three large mirrors stood at one end of the room. The woman, who had asked Eleanor to call her Mary, placed Eleanor in front of the mirrors and removed the cloak. She clucked her tongue and undid Eleanor's hastily made bun, letting the blonde curls tumble down her back until they her waist.
"Oh my, this is going to be a harder job then I thought. Are those curls natural?"
"Mostly. My maid does curl it a little so that I can handle it," Eleanor said.
"We're going to have to cut it off, you know. And bind your chest so that uh, you um..."
"I understand, but..." Eleanor drew a breath, "does all of my hair have to be cut?"
"I shall cut it to your shoulders, and we shall see. Once I am finished you should able to pass as a young lad of thirteen or fourteen."
Mary stripped Eleanor of her clothes and then dressed her in breeches, a white shirt, simple brown vest and jacket. The clothes were certainly not fine, but were perfectly suitable for the type of work Eleanor would be doing onboard the ship. Mary then took out the scissors and cut Eleanor's hair, finishing by drawing together what was left and tying it with string. Last of all, she placed a cap rather too large for her on Eleanor's head.
Mary turned her towards the mirror again when she was finished. The results were astounding. Eleanor looked like a boy - a very pretty boy, but a boy none the less.
"I don't believe it," Eleanor said softly.
"There is just one more thing...your hands are much too feminine. We don't have time now but, as soon as you can, I would recommend biting those nails. It might help a bit," Mary said before opening the door to the front room where Edward was waiting impatiently. "And take long strides, not small lady-like steps. Always wear your jacket," Mary called as Eleanor picked up the rucksack in which Edward had placed her belongs instead of the pretty handbag.
They left the shop and quickly made their way down the street towards the dock, which was luckily close by. Eleanor could not help but notice how easy it was to walk quickly in breeches. Edward stopped and took her hands just before they reached ship.
"Please be careful. Promise me you will do nothing dangerous. Come back alive - with Jack."
"I will" Eleanor whispered, suddenly afraid.
"The captain thinks you are a boy wishing to meet his relatives in Germany and will pay your way by working for him. No one knows who you really are, and I beg you not to tell anyone. Goodbye Eleanor. Find Jack and God bless you" Edward said and then left her to board the ship alone.
Part Four (continued)
The Cabin Boy
A few rays of light were just beginning to cross the sky as Eleanor walked up the plank leading to the ship.
"Who goes there?" a voice said sharply. Eleanor couldn't even see from where it was coming.
"It is the - the new cabin boy." Eleanor squeaked, "May I speak with the C-c-captain please?" She could now see the man and he grunted. He led her towards what must have been the Captain's cabin and knocked on the door.
"Come in," was the reply and the man opened the door and entered with Eleanor close behind him.
"Captain, this boy claims to be the new cabin boy," the sailor explained.
"Ah, he has come just in time. Thank you Grant, that will be all." The sailor left the room and Eleanor was alone with the Captain.
"I am Captain Frederick Wentworth. You must be the lad Edward told me about."
"Yes...sir." Eleanor replied shakily.
"Your main task is to wait on me. In other words, run errands and clean, etc. I trust that you will not find your job too difficult."
"Thank you, sir."
Eleanor was wondering if she should go or wait to be dismissed when the Captain suddenly asked, "What is your name?"
"My name?" Eleanor gasped, wishing desperately that the floor would open up and swallow her.
"Your name. You came on short notice and I don't remember Edward telling me your name," Captain Wentworth said.
"I... h, I..." Eleanor stammered. She'd forgotten that she would need a man's name on the ship.
"You've got a name, haven't you?" the Captain said jokingly.
"Of course...it's, it's..." Eleanor searched her thoughts frantically and then, suddenly, she remembered one. "It's - they call me Jakaroo," she said, smiling brightly at the name that had popped into her head. Jack had told her that his Uncle Darcy and Edward had called him 'Jakaroo' as a child.
"I beg your pardon? Did I hear right? Jakaroo?" Wentworth repeated.
"Yes, Jakaroo," Eleanor said with as much confidence as she could muster.
"Well then, Jakaroo, allow me to show you to the forecastle, where you will be staying with the other sailors," Captain Wentworth said, and opened the cabin door.
Eleanor was lying in her hammock, scrunched up in a ball. She had never dreamed that she would be lodging in the same room as the other sailors - never. She couldn't sleep. The fact that she was sleeping in her clothes - men's clothes at that, was one thing that prevented peaceful slumber. Men's clothes were much more comfortable than any of her confining dresses and underclothes, etc., but she felt very strange in them none-the-less. Every half-hour a bell kept ringing and Eleanor would just start to doze off when she was awakened by its clanging.
She also had no privacy. All of the sailors were watching her with great interest and Eleanor felt extremely glad that they thought she was a boy.
At around twelve o'clock noon, after six hours of fitful sleep, Eleanor was awakened by the same sailor who had met her when she came onboard. He shook her roughly by the shoulder.
"Eh, Jakaroo? Time to get out of bed, lad. It's your watch," the sailor, whom everyone called Grant, said.
"My what?" Eleanor tried to make her voice sound deeper then it really was.
"Your watch." The sailor saw Eleanor's puzzled expression and understood. "This is your first time on a ship, then," he stated and Eleanor nodded. "Then I'll put it this way. The day, bein' so long, is divided up into eight 'watches'. In other words, every four hours, from midnight to midnight, are watches. Half of the crew works from midnight to four a.m. That's called the 'Midnight Watch'. From four to six is the 'Morning Watch' - and during that time the first half of the crew rests and the other half works. It goes back and forth like this all day long, so a sailor gets four hours of rest at a time - no more, no less. Understand?"
Grant sighed. "Look - for the next four hours, you are on duty. Then after four hours are up, you're off duty for four hours. Then after your rest, you get up and have another four hours of duty. It goes back and forth like that every day throughout the entire voyage."
Eleanor cocked her head. "So I am 'on-duty', as you put it, for the next four hours?"
"Yes!" Grant said.
"Oh, I understand," she said. The truth however was that she had a very difficult time understanding Grant's queer way of speaking, but in the end she understood enough.
Eleanor knocked on the Captain's cabin door nervously. What would she have to do? Would she be able to complete her tasks?
"Come in," Captain Wentworth's voice sounded from within and Eleanor entered the cabin. "Hello, Jakaroo. Ready for your first watch?"
"Yes, sir," Eleanor said bravely.
"Excellent. Jakaroo, I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Mrs. Anne Wentworth," the Captain said very proudly, "this is her first voyage on a ship."
"I am pleased to meet you, Jakaroo," Anne said kindly.
"Now lad, you are instructed to go down to the galley* and help cook in any way possible until your watch is over. If I need anything else I will summon you," Captain Wentworth said, and Eleanor left the room.
* A Galley is a ship's kitchen.
Part Four (continued)
Eleanor's first difficulty while being on-duty was actually finding the galley. Not only did she not know where it was but, also, her legs were extremely wobbly so that she was continually losing her balance and falling over. Her progress towards her destination was therefore two times slower than it normally would have been.
Another unnerving thing about being on-board was the fact that the crew kept watching her. The boy 'Jakaroo' was an object of great interest to all of them. No one knew where he came from. Would he be a good worker? What was he like? Eleanor was, however, most worried by the presence of Mrs. Anne Wentworth. She looked quiet but perceptive. She could perhaps recognize who Eleanor really was. The Captain and his crew would be working, and would most likely not pay enough attention to really notice anything strange, (she hoped), but Anne was there with her husband and had nothing to do but sit and observe things.
At last Eleanor managed to find her way to the galley and had to stop worrying because she needed to work. The ship's cook seemed to be a cheerful fellow, but Eleanor saw at a glance that he could not cook and did not know how to keep a kitchen, no matter how small.
Everything necessary for a cook's kitchen was there - pots and pans, a stove, food, utensils; and yet everything was in disorder.
"'Ere you are, Jakaroo. I was 'specting you an 'our ago. Ya s'posed to 'elp me, right?"
"Um...yes," Eleanor stammered, wondering how on earth she would be able to understand the sailor's strange way of speaking. "Do you need help cleaning?"
"Cleaning. The kitchen is a mess," Eleanor stated.
"Well...I s'pose you're right. By the way, my name is Bob Bowen, but everyone jus' calls me Bobby," the young man gave her a cocky smile. "What needs to be cleaned?"
Eleanor blinked. Didn't the man see the dirt everywhere? "Well, everything needs to be cleaned. The pots, pans and utensils first, I suppose, and then everything else. Didn't your mother teach you about 'neatness' and 'cleanliness'?
"We don't talk fancy where I come from. Fact is , this be my first job as ship's cook an' if'n you know how to run a galley better'n me then I'd be much obliged if you'd 'elp me. You do know how, don't ya?" the cook said hopefully.
"Erm, yes. My - mother was a very sickly person and couldn't keep house herself. I have no sisters and so took care of everything myself," Eleanor fibbed, turning bright red. Did she have to lie like that? Bobby took her flaming cheeks as a sign that Jakaroo was embarrassed for having to do a woman's work.
"You may feel down 'cause you know woman's jobs, but I'm mighty happy you do. Now should we start on these pans?" Bobby encouraged, and Eleanor smiled feebly. Things were not going well with her. Now everyone knew that she could cook.
A person might ask why Eleanor, a woman of high status in society, would know how to cook and clean. The reason is simple - Swann's Silk Fabrics had not always been as prosperous as it was at the present time. Eleanor's mother, being the wise woman that she was, decided to teach her daughter the art of cooking and cleaning in case the business was not a great success. She taught her by way of playing games - Mother and daughter would one day pretend to be stranded on an island, the next day preparing soup for poor people. The Swann's Silk and Fabrics had been a success, and therefore Eleanor had never found it necessary to use her great cooking and cleaning abilities - that is, until now.
Eleanor cleaned as she never had before. She and Bobby cleaned the small galley from top to bottom and the results were very satisfactory. Their meal was less gratifying as the food supplies were not grand, but it was as good as could be expected. By the time the eighth bell rang, Eleanor felt pleased with herself, and very tired. She stumbled to her bed and slept soundly for the next four hours.
The five other sailors lounging in the forecastle watched intently as Jakaroo stumbled into the room and fell asleep.
"He's a fine lookin' fellow, but don't seem to have much strength or muscle," Grant observed.
"I wonder where he come from. He's paying his passage over to Germany by workin' on the ship. But ..." Bobby paused, "I don' understand it. His hands are so... soft and white. Like a girl's. And he cooks and cleans better'n my Granny, God rest her soul." The other men chuckled.
"'E's just a lad. Prob'ly an only child who was pampered all his life," an older man named Tom Byron said thoughtfully.
"Perhaps. There's somethin' strange about him, though. Can't put my finger on what, exactly," the oldest sailor on board, whom everyone called Old Pete, said.
"Oh, he's just a lad, like Byron said. Now what I says is that we should get some shut eye. Our next watch will be here before ya know it, an' we'll have plenty of time to get to know young Jakaroo during the voyage," the fifth man, Dorsey, said. The other sailors agreed and they were soon sleeping.
Three days later...
"Wake up, lazy boy. Captain needs ya. It's your watch."
Eleanor woke with a start at the sound of Old Pete's voice. "Where am I?" She blinked, trying to remember.
"On the Sea Vessel, lad, and ya need to hurry down to the kitchen where you're expected to carry up a supper tray to Captain Wentworth and his, ahem, wife."
Eleanor stretched and then stood up. She still had trouble remembering where she was after waking up, and frankly, it embarrassed her. She hurried down to the kitchen and carried up the trays.
"Good evening, Jakaroo," Mrs. Wentworth said when Eleanor entered the room.
"Um - hello, Mrs. Wentworth," she said, trying to make her voice as deep as possible.
"What is the matter? Are you ill, Jakaroo?" Anne said in a concerned manner.
"No ma'am," Eleanor practically squeaked and was about to scurry out of the room when Anne said,
"Would you perhaps care for a little cake? You are a skinny boy. Are you being fed well?" Anne was obviously a kind-hearted person, too kindhearted. Eleanor had to leave before she said something wrong.
"I am fed very well and would like a cake," Eleanor managed to say as she grabbed the offered treat and literally ran from the cabin. Anne laughed, thinking that the poor boy must be nervous around women.
Working every other watch was terribly hard on Eleanor. She was also given the dirty tasks onboard - the ones that no one else wanted to do; cleaning masts and other odd-jobs. The sailors teased her often as Mrs. Wentworth had taken a fancy to little 'Jakaroo'. She gave him tea and cakes whenever they met. Eleanor was unhappy and always sore from the jobs she was given.
At first the sailors seemed very aggressive but after a few days at sea they became friendlier. Sometimes they would help her with her tasks, seeing that the 'lad' was having a difficult time adjusting to his new life.
There were many times when Eleanor felt like giving up and telling everyone who she really was, to be happily sent back to England and all of the comforts of home. She did not, however, even though the temptation was very great.
"Who will meet you when we arrive in Germany?" Anne asked Eleanor a day before they were scheduled to arrive.
"My, um, Grandmother," Eleanor said at first and then paused, "no, that's not the truth. I am going to try and find a friend there," Eleanor said, having had enough of lying about everything.
"No one is meeting you?" Anne's face showed deep concern.
Eleanor swallowed hard, "I will manage fine."
"I take it then that this friend of yours is very dear to you?" Anne said softly.
"Yes," Eleanor whispered.
"I wish I could help you, but there will not be time. We will only be in the port for an hour and ..."
"I understand. If you will excuse me, ma'am, I have my duties to attend to," Eleanor said and hurried form the room.
She closed the cabin door behind her and sank down on the deck, putting her head in her hands. She had come too close to revealing her secret and if she had, everything would be lost. Anne Wentworth understood love, but she would not let Eleanor go out on a battlefield alone. Eleanor did not even know where Jack was, and so how could anyone possibly understand? It was a journey she would have to face alone.
A soft breeze rustled the sails but the ship was standing still. The journey was over. Eleanor breathed in the air. The port looked not much different from the one she had left. She was glad to get off of the ship, glad enough to skip down the gangplank but she did not. She managed to say goodbye to the sailors and thank you to the Captain and his wife before leaving the ship and going onto shore.
Grant and Bobby stood watching as she walked away and mingled with the crowd. "You know, Grant," Bobby said, "That boy was a good one. He worked hard enough. Sometimes, though, I thought he was very strange."
"Aye," Grant agreed, "Hands too soft, spoke too fine. Perhaps he ran away from his wealthy family, longing for adventure?" Bobby nodded.
"Most likely he did. But still, I often thought, wondered...if..."
"Well...he was a strange boy, and I often thought he behaved not like a lad, but a lass. Yes, he did remind me much of a girl at times," Bobby shook his head, "Strange lad, very strange."
She went out to the battlefield
And viewed it up and down.
Among the dead and dying
Her darling boy she found,
Her darling boy she found...
It was dusk as Eleanor wandered through the small town. She did not know where she was going or what she was doing exactly, and she was afraid, terribly afraid. Everyone around her was speaking German. However, Eleanor, although she spoke fluent German, had never been to another country and it is indeed strange to hear everyone speaking a language different than your own.
One thing she knew, she had to find Jack. That was why she was here in this small town and strange country. Edward had told her that Jack was on a ship called 'The Mermaid', was traveling to Sweden and from there to Stralsund, Germany. That was where Eleanor had to go. At the moment, however, as the last rays of sunlight disappeared and everything became dark, the most important thing was to find a place to sleep.
Eleanor Swann, the daughter of the wealthiest silk-merchant in England and used to every kind of luxury, was begging for a place to sleep and something to eat, going from door to door. After being turned down many times, she at last knocked on the door of a small house at the end of the street. A middle aged woman opened the door and looked the 'lad' up and down as he stood there. He was a clean boy with better quality clothes than most beggars and had a trustworthy look.
"Please, may I have a place to stay for the night and something to eat?" Eleanor asked hopefully.
"I could give you a place to stay for a few days, but in return will you be willing to work a bit?" the woman asked.
"Yes, ma'am, I can do anything you want me to," Eleanor answered.
"Then come in and warm yourself by the fire." The woman took Eleanor by the arm and led her into the small and quaint house and into the front room. An elderly woman was sitting in a chair by the fire, knitting as she hummed. "Mother, we have a visitor. This is my mother Maria. And your name is...?"
"Jakaroo," Eleanor answered quickly.
"Jakaroo, you may call me Marta," she said and motioned for Eleanor to sit down in a chair by the fire, next to Maria.
"Why don't you take off your coat and hat? It is warm in here," Maria said.
"But- I uh..." but it was too late. Marta had taken off the hat with a flourish, and laughed about her mother's picky ways as she went to hang it up.
Maria silently studied the young 'boy'. Eleanor soon felt uncomfortable under the old woman's gaze and squirmed. Marta soon came back in, however, and handed her a steaming mug of tea.
"Would you like something to eat with that? We don't have much, but perhaps you'd like a hot bun?" Eleanor nodded and Marta soon brought her the bun.
"I expect you to help me clean up in the kitchen after we're through," Marta said playfully and they sat in silence for a few minutes until Marta said, "It is chilly for September, wouldn't you agree, Jakaroo?"
"Her name is not 'Jakaroo' or what ever she calls herself," Maria said suddenly.
"What?" both Eleanor and Marta gasped at once.
"You are not a boy," Maria said, shaking her head. "You are a girl, obviously. I knew for certain as soon as you took off that ridiculous hat," Maria said confidently. "Oh you don't believe me, Marta? Her disguise is very well done, but you will see in a moment. Unbind your hair girl, and take off the jacket that is much to big for you, by the way."
Eleanor was much too stunned to disobey, so she untied her hair and took off the jacket. Maria nodded in satisfaction and Marta stared.
"There you see? It still isn't very obvious, but I know one thing: you are not a boy!" Maria said, very pleased with herself.
"Yes! Why, I see now! Why are you dressed in such a way?" Marta exclaimed. Eleanor bowed her head.
"My name is Eleanor Swann. I ran away from home - England, to find my love," she said, as tears began to flow down her cheeks. All was lost.
"Do you know where he is, what he does?" Maria asked.
"I need to get to Stralsund. The ship he was on will land there very soon. I have to find him. Please don't send me back," Eleanor begged.
"We won't send you back if you don't want to go, Eleanor. And we will help you find your love. But first, why don't you come upstairs with me and I will get you some suitable clothes and then we will come back downstairs and have some more tea?" Marta said kindly. Eleanor nodded and Marta showed her to a room upstairs.
They returned downstairs not too long afterwards. Eleanor was feeling much better in the simple skirt and white shirt that she wore, much more comfortable in them than she had ever felt in the breeches. She explained the whole situation to the two women, and after finishing, Eleanor felt as though a weight had been lifted from her.
"You are very fortunate that you came here. My youngest cousin lives in Stralsund with her husband. They run an inn there and need a lady to work for them for, helping to serve the food, etc. I'll write her today and tell her that I've found a girl. You may travel to Stralsund the day after tomorrow on the coach, and so the letter will arrive a few days before you do. Perhaps, while you are there, you will find where Jack is," Marta said.
"Thank you, oh thank you!" Eleanor cried, and wept.
The days that Eleanor spent with Marta and Maria were wonderful ones. They helped her and showed her such kindness that Eleanor was amazed. She was indeed sorry to leave them two days later and find herself on an uncomfortable coach on her way to Stralsund were she had to find the 'Smith's Inn'.
The letter to Marta's cousin had been sent. Everything would have worked out splendidly had it not begun to pour rain a day after the travelling began. The coach was greatly slowed down and it took two times longer to reach their destination than it normally would have.
When they at last reached Stralsund it was not raining but the sky was threatening and the waves high. Eleanor could again smell the saltwater in the air. It was a marvelous city and Eleanor regretted the fact that she had no time to admire the scenery. She needed to find the inn and had no clue as to where it was. She did not have a hard time finding it however, for as soon as she stepped out of the coach a boy of about eleven approached her.
"Are you Miss Eleanor Swann?" he asked, peering at her with curious brown eyes.
"Yes, and who are you?"
"I am Hans Smith. My sister-in-law sent me to get you. You are here to work at our inn, am I correct?"
"You are indeed," Eleanor answered.
"Let me take your bag for you," Hans said and Eleanor gave it to him with a smile. "Come, follow me," he said cheerfully and led her across the street to a large building with 'Smith's Inn' written on the front in golden letters. He led her in through the back door.
A young woman was waiting for them. She had her black hair tied in a bun and her blue eyes twinkled as she met Eleanor.
"You are very welcome here. My name is Gertrude Smith, but you may call me by my Christian name."
"Then you must call me Eleanor," she said, liking the woman instantly.
Eleanor lived and worked at the inn for a week. Her tasks were almost identical to those on the ship. She had to wash, clean, cook and serve. The Smiths were all very good people and treated her as if she were family. During that week, Eleanor found out that the ship called 'The Mermaid' had landed in Stralsund a day before her own arrival, but, other than that, she found nothing further.
The evening was like every other at the Inn. It was already late, but several men were still up, drinking more than was good for them. It was pouring rain outside and everything was very dreary. Eleanor was carrying trays back and forth from the kitchen to the men when she heard an interesting conversation going on between some German soldiers who were sitting at a table nearby.
"Leipzig, that awful place," the soldier swore, "That's where everyone is headed."
"How would you know?" Another challenged.
"Because I just came from Berlin to join you fellows and take you down there myself. All of the Swedish regiments are going down there. Every single one! My guess is that there will be another battle there very soon," the soldier swore again and then stopped speaking as Eleanor gave them their beer. "Leipzig, the horrible place," she heard the soldier say last as she hurried into the kitchen where Gertrude was cleaning up.
"Eleanor, whatever is the matter? You are white as a sheet!" Gertrude cried, coming over to her.
"Gertrude I have to go to Leipzig," Eleanor gasped.
"I just heard that all Swedish regiments are going to Leipzig. I don't know if Jack will be with them, but I have to find out. I have to go there," Eleanor said, her resolve building.
"Go then and pack your things. If you are going to Leipzig then perhaps it would be best if you dressed in your costume as a man again because I, too, heard what the soldier said and if there is to be a battle ..." Gertrude's voice trailed off.
"Yes," Eleanor said and ran up to her room, soon returning as the boy Jakaroo.
"Oh please, Eleanor, you don't know that he is there. Don't go to Leipzig where there will be trouble," Gertrude begged.
"I am sorry, Gertrude, but if I don't go I'll always wonder if I should have. I need to find out," Eleanor said. "I can't explain it, but something tells me that I should go there."
"Then take the fastest horse in our stables. God be with you," Gertrude said and the two women embraced.
Eleanor ran to the stables and chose to ride a small but swift black horse. She received directions to Leipzig from Mr. Smith and then rode off quickly. The night was stormy and cold. Eleanor was alone and afraid. She was alone, utterly alone as she rode off into the dead of night. It began raining again not long after she began.
Eleanor did not know how long she rode, but it was terribly far. She only stopped when it was absolutely necessary. Luckily she was able to buy some food with the money she had earned working at the Smith's Inn. She soon had to ask directions again as she neared the city.
"Can you tell me where Leipzig is?" she asked of an old man driving a cart away from the city.
"Leipzig? No, no!" the man said and drove off.
It was a while before Eleanor found a person willing to show her the direction. On the 19th of October, Eleanor knew she finally neared Leipzig. People were everywhere carrying bodies to the crude hospitals set up around the area.
Eleanor searched in every hospital that day, asking over and over if anyone had seen or knew the whereabouts of Colonel John Fitzwilliam. She searched without reward for almost two days. The answer was always no.
At length, Eleanor entered a hospital close to the battlefield itself. She asked a wounded man from a Swedish regiment if he knew Colonel John Fitzwilliam. The man answered in a tongue Eleanor did not speak.
"Do you speak German?" she asked, and the man shook his head. "Do you speak English then?" Eleanor asked desperately.
"Yah, I speak," the man said in a halting way.
"Do you know Colonel John Fitzwilliam?" Eleanor asked slowly. The man nodded carefully, as it was obviously painful for him to do so because of a large cut on his forehead. "You know him!" Eleanor cried.
"Jack," he said and winced at the pain.
"Yes!" Eleanor cried.
"He is dead. I saw him fall. No one find his body," the man gasped.
"No!" Eleanor cried. "Tell me where he fell, where did he fall?" Eleanor cried, grabbing hold of the man's arm. He cried out in pain.
"Get out of here, boy. This man needs immediate medical attention," a German doctor said, pushing her roughly away.
"Where is the battlefield?" Eleanor asked.
"That way," the doctor pointed and Eleanor ran.
Eleanor ran until she reached the field. She then stopped and promptly threw up. The hospitals had been hard enough, but this absolutely horrendous. Everywhere there were bodies. Everywhere. Almost two days after the battle and it still had not been enough time to find all of the wounded men and clear away the dead.
Eleanor wept. She wept for all of the men who had died. She wept for Jack. How would she ever find him in all of this? What kind of men would ever let this happen? Calming herself a little, she forced herself to go on. Walking through the battlefield was a nightmare. Men were everywhere, some looking no older than boys. Some were helping carry wounded men to the hospitals, some crying out for help, but most were dead.
Eleanor walked through the field and viewed the horror of war. She searched, but touched nothing. When the sun began setting she became tired. She looked for an area where there was not as many bodies and found a place to sit under a tree. That was when she saw it.
The setting sun glinted on something. Eleanor turned her head to look at whatever it was it. It was a ring. A ring on a man's middle finger. The ring was large and beautiful, or would have been if it had not been stained with blood. It looked like a family signet ring of some kind.
"No," Eleanor whispered, drawing closer.
She knew whose ring it was and where it came from! Jack had worn a ring identical to this one. The Matlock family crest!
"Jack!" she cried, bursting into tears as she rushed over to the two bodies.
A man was on top of Jack. He was an enormous man with a Swedish uniform. Eleanor tried to push him off as gently as she could. At last she rolled the first man over and looked upon the face of her beloved. He was covered with blood. She knelt down beside him.
"Jack, Jack please don't die! Please don't leave me!" she cried, shaking him. "Help! Help me!" she screamed. Someone would hear her and someone would help. A soldier rushed over to her.
"Is he wounded?" he asked in German.
"I don't know if he is dead or alive," Eleanor answered, sobbing. The man checked for a sign of breathing and pulse.
"He is alive. The big Swede is also, but just barely." The German shook his head and then looked around. "You four!" he called to another group of soldiers near by. "Come over here! We found two seriously wounded men! It will be all right," he assured Eleanor. "Is he your husband, miss? Or brother?" Eleanor looked down and saw that she had let her hair fall loose and taken off the jacket.
"I am his fiancée," she murmured as the other soldiers ran up with stretchers.
At last she was allowed into the room. "How is he?" Eleanor asked the doctor, and she knelt down by Jack's bed.
"Time will tell. Will you take care of him? I haven't many nurses and there are so many wounded men ..."
"Of course," Eleanor answered quickly. "And the Swede?"
"He is next to your fiancé." He shook his head. "He is not going to make it, ma'am." The doctor left her and turned his attention to other soldiers.
Eleanor tended both Jack and the Swede, who was later found to named Andrew Mattsson, for days. She talked to Jack, although he never woke up long enough to know she was there. The doctor said Jack should recover if he came out of the coma soon.
The candle burned dim and Eleanor was slowly falling asleep as she held Jack's hand late that night. Suddenly she heard a voice.
"Are - you - Eleanor?" the voice rasped behind her. She turned quickly and saw blurry blue eyes gazing at her.
"Mr. Andrew Mattsson?" she asked, coming over to him. "Yes, I am Eleanor."
"Anders. Tell Jack - tell him to take care of my family."
"Mr. - Anders I don't think -" Eleanor began but he stopped her.
"Tell Emma that I love her," he gasped.
"What? Tell me again Anders," Eleanor said, taking his hand.
"Tell Jack to never give up," he said finally and then closed his eyes for the last time.
"Doctor! Doctor!" Eleanor cried. He rushed over. "Is he ..." Eleanor trailed off.
"He is dead," the doctor confirmed.
"Oh no," Eleanor whispered as she watched him pull the blanket over Anders' head.
She rose from her seat and ran from the hospital. Anders had died. So many good men, so many. The nurse found her asleep under a tree. She shook her gently.
"Miss Eleanor? The Colonel Fitzwilliam has awakened. He is asking for you, Miss."
Part Six ~ Conclusion
Eleanor stood up quickly and hurried back into the hospital. She saw Jack already falling asleep again; but sleeping, not falling back into a coma. She walked softly over to his bedside, not wishing to wake him. They would have other times to talk, a lifetime of talking. Jack, however, did not want to wait. His eyes flew open when he heard the sound of her footsteps by his bed.
"Eleanor," he said sleepily.
"Yes Jack, it's me," she said quietly, gently taking his hand.
"Anders...Little Lars...Eric...are they all right?" he asked, blinking as if he could barely keep his eyes open.
'Anders is dead, Jack," Eleanor thought that she saw his eyes fill with tears.
"Oh," he whispered, and then said more clearly, "He is with his father, then. He is happy."
"Yes. Go to sleep now, Jack," Eleanor said and he closed his eyes.
"Why are you here, Eleanor?" he asked.
"I came to find you," she said, her eyes filling with tears.
"Oh, I see..." he murmured. "Do you love me, Eleanor?" he asked suddenly, opening his eyes.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"I love you Jack, I always have and always will." He smiled softly.
"Will you sing for me?" he asked and she did until he fell asleep.
It was several weeks before Jack was recovered enough to leave the hospital. After his strength returned, he found what remained of the Swedish regiment. He found Little Lars alive, in fact it had been Lars who had helped Eleanor find Jack. Other than Lars and Jack only one other man remained alive from the regiment.
Jack and Eleanor were married the same day that Jack was released from the hospital. For their honeymoon they travelled to Sweden on a ship run by Captain Wentworth and his wife. They were both glad to discover the truth.
The trip to Sweden had its joys and sorrows. Jack and Eleanor had the sad task of telling Anders' family of their brother's death. They also tried to find out where Emma, Anders' finance was. They soon discovered that Emma had died of a fever not too long after Anders' own death.
Jack and Eleanor returned to England after Jack had taken care of all of Anders' business and finding a tenant to live in the rather large property he had owned. Anders' sister, Ingrid, and brother returned to England with them.
Edward helped Jack and his new family find and purchase a small estate to settle in, and Jack was able to resign from the army forever. Edward, after meeting Anders' family, soon found that he loved fiery red hair and sparkling blue eyes, and so he married Ingrid six months after they met. They, of course, lived happily ever after and raised two beautiful children.
Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam and Mr. and Mrs. Swann were most seriously displeased at first after learning of Jack and Eleanor's marriage. However, the family was reconciled after a year and a half when Eleanor gave birth to their first child - a boy whom they named Andrew Edward Fitzwilliam.
The Darcys were, of course, overjoyed to learn that Jack and Eleanor had returned. Georgiana did marry the Lord Derby, who was absolutely transformed after she had tended to his heart. She was the perfect mother for his three young children and they had two children of their own. Perhaps the readers would also be interested to know what became of good Charles Swann. He became a very wealthy book merchant and eventually married Susan Gardiner. They lived happily among their books.
Jack and Eleanor had four children in all. The second was a girl, whom they named Emma Anne Fitzwilliam. The third was another boy, named Lars, and the last was a girl, Gertrude Marta Fitzwilliam. All of their children grew to be very fine ladies and gentlemen, bringing even more honor to the name 'Fitzwilliam'. Jack and Eleanor were both more happy then words can describe and never, ever, doubted their love for each other.
So happily and contented,
They quickly did agree.
And so they soon got married,
And why not you and me,
And why not you and me?