Forging Forever

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Chapter 47

White Plains, NY

November 12, 2015

Katelyn was anxious. She had finished the journal in record time the night she had let herself into Annie’s house. The tale was heartbreaking to say the least. After she had finished the journal she had spoken to Alex at length, asking a multitude of questions. The most important question she had asked was why didn’t she tell her about Annie’s disappearance? Did they honestly think that she would just remain oblivious to her best friend’s absence? After their conversation Katelyn had known that Alex felt comforted by the positive ending. She was not so sure.

Alex had told her, after much prodding, that she suspected Catherine had read the journal. If that was the case then she knew about Annie’s imminent return home. Katelyn had no doubt that she was planning something to get rid of Annie. She knew that she needed to stop it. With that in mind, she left her parents’ house and drove to Nissequogue, where she hid among the trees and waited for the house to go dark.

Annie brought the boiling pot of water over to the station she was working at. She had been toiling away in the hospital tent for several hours now. Before the first rays of dawn she had a short conversation with Oliver and Connor where they presented a plan for her to get to General Washington. She had discovered the identities of a few other traitors at that point in time. Once she was by herself she jotted the names down. She would give them to George later. Right now she was treating a man with an infected wound. The wound was a long cut that he had sustained a few days ago. It had not been severe but did require stitches. Unfortunately, whoever did the stitching did not properly inspect or clean the wound. Luckily, it was something she could easily fix.

“I apologize Private Bell, but this is going to hurt a bit. Just do your best to sit still.”

“I will Miss Johnson, and please, call me Owen.”

“Thank you Owen,” she said. She cut the stitches from the wound and opened it. Puss began to ooze from the open wound. This was going to be painful. “I’m sorry Owen, but this is really going to hurt. It’s worse than I suspected.”

“Can you fix it Miss Johnson? Or am I going to lose a leg?” His face had gone white at the thought of losing his leg.

“I can fix it. I promise, this wound will not cause you to lose your leg.”

“As long as I keep my leg I can handle the pain.”

“I’m sure you can,” she said, looking at the young Private. He couldn’t be more than seventeen years old. Annie admired his commitment to his country. She only hoped that he would live long enough to see the fruits of his labors. She gave him a warm smile then began the task of cleaning and closing the wound.

For the most part he was incredibly courageous throughout the whole ordeal. He winced a bit when she poured hot water into the wound, but after that he remained completely still, even when she cleaned out the wound with some rubbing alcohol that she had found in her bag. Once she was done cleaning the wound she stitched it back together, just as her mom had shown her, and bandaged the wound. “All done,” she said thirty minutes later.

“That’s all?”

“Yes. You were an amazing patient. I can only hope that the rest of my charges are as courageous as you,” she smiled.

“Well thank you Miss Johnson. I really appreciate all you’ve done for me.”

“You’re welcome. Just make sure you keep that bandage clean and dry and do your best to stay off that leg for the next few days. If you notice anything that makes you uncomfortable you come back here immediately.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said then left the tent. She spent the rest of the afternoon treating minor wounds. Word had spread that she was very adept at cleaning and stitching wounds, as a result she was occupied well past dinnertime. She treated her last patient at around seven o’clock. Wearily, she left the tent and headed off to find some food. She was halfway to the mess tent when she heard her name called out.

“Miss Johnson.” Annie turned and saw a young soldier running towards her.

“Yes.”

“I need you to follow me ma’am,” he said curtly then grabbed her arm and turned her towards the house. Annie kept silent as they walked. Finally they entered the house and she was shown, once again, to the sitting room. “Wait here ma’am,” the soldier commanded then left the room. She heard him lock the door as he left. She flopped down into an armchair and closed her eyes just for a moment.

“Long day Annie?” She heard a man’s voice say.

She opened her eyes and looked up at the amused face of George Washington. “You could say that.”

“I’m sorry for the manner in which you were brought here. It was the only way I could think of to keep your cover,” he apologized then sat across from her.

“I understand.”

“I was curious as to if you had found anything out.”

“I have. I was just going to eat something then come and find you.”

“Have you eaten yet?”

“Not since breakfast.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll have some food brought in then we can chat.”

“Thank you.”

George nodded then left the room. An hour later, with her stomach full and her energy restored, she relayed the information she had found out during the day. “There are three other traitors that I have found out,” she pulled the sheet of paper out of her apron pocket and handed it to him. “I am confident that these three men, along with Captain Hughes and Private Donnelly are the only traitors. Still, I’d keep an eye on them for a few more days just to be sure.”

“Thank you Annie. Your work here has been more valuable than I can say.”

“Oh, while I’m thinking about it,” she reached into her pocket and pulled out the vial that Madison had given her, “this is some sort of poison. Arsenic would be my guess. You might find some use for it. I have no need for it.”

“Thank you,” he said and placed the vial in his pocket. “I assume this was to be the means by which Mrs. Carter wished you to do away with me.”

“You would be correct,” she smiled. “Now, is there anything else you require?”

“No Annie. You have done enough. I thank you for your service to our country.”

“It is my pleasure sir. And it was a pleasure to meet you in person,” she said as she got out of her chair.

“Will you be leaving us soon?”

“Yes. I’ll be leaving as soon as we finish our discussion. I wish I could stay longer and help more. The men I have met today were most kind and courageous. You have a wonderful army with you.”

“Yes I do. I am blessed to be surrounded by such good men. Now I just need to ferret out the traitors and this operation will move much more smoothly.”

“I have no doubt that you will be victorious and that this great nation you are fighting for will prosper.”

“I appreciate your faith Annie. If only there were more women like you around,” he smiled.

“Thank you.”

“If you require any assistance before you leave please do not hesitate to call.”

“I won’t sir,” she said then headed for the door. “You may want to lay low for a few hours just in case Captain Hughes and his friends are watching.”

“I will. I think I may retire early tonight,” he smiled.

“Thank you.” Annie left the sitting room then went out the front doors. She was halfway back to the tent when someone pulled her into a line of trees.

“Is it done,” Oliver asked.

“Yes,” she lied.

“Good. Now get out of here.”

“I’ll be gone within the hour.” Annie hurried off and went into the tent. She changed from her dress to her riding breeches. She left the dress hidden under her cot. The only thing she grabbed from it was the ring Cameron had given her. She shoved it in her pocket then pulled on her cloak and grabbed her bag. It was dark when she reached the stables. As quietly as possible she pulled her horse from its stall and tacked it up. The camp had fallen silent when she left the stables. She and her horse walked quietly through the camp and into the woods until she could hear nothing. Finally, she climbed up into the saddle. Before she goaded the horse into movement she placed her hand on her slightly swollen abdomen, “Just hold on for a little bit longer. This will all be over soon.” She squeezed her legs and she and her horse flew off into the night.

Cameron shoveled the last of the dirt on top of the chest that contained the means for their future. He had thought for days about where to conceal this particular chest. He had contemplated leaving it in the attic with his own chest but immediately disregarded the idea. The contents of the chest were far too valuable to just hope that no one touched it for two-hundred and thirty-five years. Instead he settled on burying it out in the woods, deep in the ground where no one would find it. He had drawn a map and tucked it into his pocket. Once he and Annie were home and alone he would come out and dig it up.

His muscles ached from the long hours of work he had just put in. The chest he had just buried, though smaller than his own, was far heavier because of its contents. Inside he had stashed twenty solid gold bars that he had procured from the bank before he left. They were worth thousands of pounds as of now, he could only imagine what they would be worth in the future.

The sun was beginning to set. Annie would be here in a few hours. He smiled at the thought. Soon they could begin their life together, as a family, whatever that meant. He found himself wondering if she would want to go straight back to school once she got back or if she would wait until the baby was born. Something told him she would wait, but if she did decide to go back right away he would support her.

He sat, hidden in the woods until the sky went dark. Once he noticed the house fall silent he took his trunk and carried it across the lawn. He wanted to have it hidden away before Annie got here, just in case they had to make a dash for it. It was important that the contents of his chest make it into the attic, just as he had found them.

Cameron picked the lock and entered the dark and silent house. He had been through here enough times to know where he was going without need of a light. He struggled with the awkward shaped trunk but made it up to the attic without incident. Once he was in there he tucked the trunk into the far corner by the hidey-hole. Reluctantly he removed his pocket watch and placed it inside the trunk so it could be found and modified by Annie’s grandfather. As he turned to leave the attic he had the oddest feeling that he was not alone. He stealthily pulled his knife from his boot and looked around him, but saw nothing. He placed the knife back in his boot and left the attic. It was probably just a combination of exhaustion and nerves. He made it out of the house and back to his hiding spot without incident. Finally, he sat down on the ground and began the long wait for Annie’s arrival.

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