Elizabeth grabbed her skirts, sprinting the last few yards down to the dock. She rounded the corner and ran right into the soldier keeping guard.
Strong arms caught her in motion and lifting her up and setting her down in one swift movement. A familiar face stared down at her, a frown crossing its features.
Elizabeth gathered her scrambled thoughts as a scolding tumbled from her lips. “Jonathan Maguire! How dare you scare the wits out of me!” She tried to smile, realizing that he’d been watering his horse.
Her fiancé looked over her head for a moment, sidestepping the question. “What are you doing here?”
“I beg your pardon?” Elizabeth looked at him in annoyance. “I will have you know that-”
“There’s trouble at the docks and I don’t want you mixed up in it.” His tanned face swiveled back to her. He offered a quick smile before mounting up and turning to face the docks. “It seems some ‘Indians’ have taken a sudden dislike to our beloved tea.”
Elizabeth blinked. “Tea?”
“They’re dumping it overboard.” Jonathan shifted in the saddle. “There’s my signal. Lizzy, go home-please!” He nudged the horse, riding off before she could protest.
She stared after him and sighed. “Throwing tea overboard?” She muttered, heading for the general store.
There was a window facing the docks and she made a beeline for it.
Thankfully, there was no one there to challenge her otherwise and she guessed that they were all down at the docks themselves.
Her hand went to her mouth as she saw crates being hurled into the murky waters. A strangled cry caught in her throat and she jumped at the sound of the shopkeeper’s voice.
“I’ll take some sweet spices please.” She murmured, tearing her gaze away from the window. “Something to make cake.”
Her feet knew the way home and before long, a very dazed Elizabeth stood at the front gate, letting herself in and heading for the kitchen.
She’d wanted the tea for her mother’s birthday party. An occasion she’d spent half the month planning. It wasn’t fair for those horrible Indians to ruin something she’d worked so hard for!
Elizabeth kicked the flour bag, dumping the sack of groceries on the counter. A bottle of cinnamon sticks rolled out. It bumped against the sack of sugar.
She stared at it. What if…?
Elizabeth carried the tea tray towards the table where her mother and sisters were sitting. There were three ladies from the knitting group who’d gladly accepted her invitation to her mother’s birthday party.
She planned to serve with her great-grandmama’s tea service. The imported china with its beautiful pictures were sure to be appreciated.
The front door banged loudly and a tall shadow filled the doorway.
Elizabeth froze, staring in disbelief.
Wearing torn trousers and nothing more than paint smears and a strip of cloth tied around his forehead, a hint of familiarity hung in the air.
“Father?” Her eyes traveled over a sunburned face. “Goodness! What in the name of-!” Her jaw dropped as she stared at the butcher knife in his hands.
He scowled, crossing the room in two strides. “Tea?” He spat the word out.
Elizabeth held the tray closer. “N-no, Father.”
She took a step backwards as he reached towards her. The tray was rescued, but the teapot was grabbed and flung aside.
The sound of breaking china brought her mother to the doorway. A gasp escaped. “Charles? Is that you? What’s going on?”
The knife was put on the counter as her father poured water from the pitcher into the washbasin.
“Elizabeth?” Her mother tried.
“It wasn’t tea.” Elizabeth said woodenly. “It was boiled spice powder. The kind I put in cake.” A single tear trickled down her cheek and she met her father’s glare. “You broke great-grandmama’s teapot. She said I could have it on my wedding day.”
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