[Outlaw, Alainn] Down South in Dixie

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Lady Alainn, Jun 16, 2014.

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  1. Winchester, Virginia, July 12, 1861

    "Tighter!" Caroline commanded through clenched teeth. She held on securely to the bedpost as her maid gave the corset laces another hard tug. Under normal circumstances Caroline would have preferred breathing to sporting a tiny waist, but the event tonight was far from normal and under no circumstances would she let Mary Pritchard boast a better figure than her own. It was the farewell ball for their boys in grey and the last time they would see many of the eligible young bachelors before the 4th Virginia Infantry Regiment marched off to Washington. Caroline wanted to make a lasting impression.

    "She's not going no tighter unless you suck it in more, Miz Caroline!" Mabel protested.

    "Tie it off then, Mabel," Caroline gasped. Stars exploded in her vision and she leaned heavily against her bedpost for support. When she caught her breath again, she stood up straight and surveyed their work in her vanity mirror. For 15 years of age, Caroline had a tall, willowy form. Her 5'5" height brought her closer to a man's eye level than a woman's and while her pale skin was envied by many a young lady, her lack of curve was not. Caroline gingerly placed her hands on her hips and turned from side to side in the mirror. At least she looked like she had a nice waistline now.

    "That's the tiniest little waist I ever did see!" Mabel exclaimed with satisfaction. Caroline flashed her a weak smile of gratitude.

    "If I don't swoon by the end of the night, I will be surprised!"

    "Jus' make sure a nice handsome soldier is there to catch you," Mabel teased as Caroline's lightly freckled cheeks flushed pink. "Now, let's get the rest of you dressed. Your mamma be here any minute to whisk you off!"

    Mabel soon had Caroline draped in a ruffled, dark grey taffeta gown and was just arranging the last strawberry blonde curl that refused to be tucked into the elaborate bun when Mrs. Charles Hanson came looking for her daughter. Caroline slipped into a pair of beaded grey slippers, snatched up her fan from the dressing table, and flew down the stairs after her mother to the waiting carriage out front. Already inside were her father and older brother Charles Hanson Jr., both looking smart in their freshly pressed uniforms.

    As soon as the ladies had their skirts in order, the carriage door was shut and the driver clucked at the horses to start the wheels rolling toward the town centre. Caroline could hardly wrap her mind around the small talk and scarcely spoke a word. She spent the whole carriage ride fiddling with her fan and quieting the butterflies that had erupted in her stomach. The last butterfly finally sat still when she stepped into the richly decorated hall already filled with throngs of people.

    Caroline flicked her fan open and fluttered it before her face, her bright blue eyes peering over the lace to search for familiar faces.
    #1 Lady Alainn, Jun 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  2. "James, James Allen Garrett the ball is in three hours and you have been sleeping all day, Get up!." James mother said as she pounded on the door leading to his bedroom.

    There was a grumbled response and some shuffling. The door opened to reveal a 17 year old ,5'8 with a slight muscular build and messy dirty blonde hair and navy blue eyes. "I'm up ya old bag." he joked as he closed the door and got ready for the big celebration later that day. He scoffed, yeah, celebrating the young men who will be marching to their death very soon he thought to himself. Why did he volunteer to go to war? Probably because his cousin, David Briggs, had joined the Confederate army and he felt pressured to do the same.

    He slipped into a white undershirt and long black slacks. Well, at least I will get to say bye to some of my friends before I go he thought to himself. He quickly pulled on a jet black best and bow tie. He checked himself in the mirror before heading downstairs and accompanied his cousin to the hall.
  3. The room was stifling hot and the more Caroline fluttered her fan, the more out of breath she became. Try as she might to appear alluring, she doubted the redness of her cheeks and moistness on her forehead helped. She soon gave up waiting for a young man to ask for her hand in a dance and joined her father, mother, and uncle, the second lieutenant of the company, where they stood conversing near the front door.

    "It'll all be over before you know it," Uncle George was saying. "We'll march up to Washington, show those Yanks a thing or two, and be back in time for the start of harvest season!"
    "Perhaps you'll be spared the march if our navy successfully blockades Washington, first," her father countered with a smile. "I have faith in my lads."
    "Aye, they're good Southern-bred boys, but I think their captain is a little soft."

    There was polite chuckling from her mother. Caroline hid her lips behind her fan and forced a giggle herself. The action did just what she wanted-- Uncle George noticed her and gawked in feigned surprise.

    "And who is this lovely young woman? I dare say, if I wasn't a married man... oh! It's my dear niece!" he exclaimed with a twinkle in his eye. "Caroline, how is it that the prettiest flower in the room is not dancing? Come, we must remedy this."

    Taking her uncle's arm gratefully, Caroline glided to the dance floor on a cloud. She was dancing with an officer! Now maybe she would steal some of the attention away from Mary Pritchard and those batting long lashes of hers that drove Caroline mad.
  4. While most of the young men in town were at the ball, dancing and mingling with the lovely young women of Winchester, James was stuck with his loudmouth, arrogant , drunk cousin David Briggs. James slowly made his way down the road, trying to ignore the drunken ramblings of his meat-head cousin.

    "Ya know what is your problem Jimmy my boy?" David slurred as he stumbled after his younger cousin, "You need a girlfriend, like me." David said as reached into his slacks pocket and pulled out a flask of whiskey and took a sip of it.

    "Yeah, maybe I'll take one of your harem members and betroth her. Maybe I'll ask Anna Johnston for her hand in marriage." James replied sarcastically. David just smiled nastily and swore at James under his breath. James knew Anna was engaged to David, but that didn't stop David from trying to swoon every young woman in town, including James's neighbor, Caroline Hanson. Thank God she had shot him down.

    James rolled his eyes. What made his cousin that attractive? He had about average looks, dirty brown hair, dark brown eyes and a muscular frame. David was a Pinkerton agent, the guys Factory owners called in to beat the living hell out of workers when they went to striking. The guy had probably the worst personality. He always was on a quest to out-due every young man in town and steal his girlfriend.

    The two remained silent until they reached the hall. A small group of women who were standing outside instantly mad their way to David. James rolled his eyes and headed inside while his cousin dealt with the hordes of women that gathered around him.

    Once inside, James made his way around the hall. He said hello to his friend Joe and his twin brother Quincy. He spotted the Hanson family and made his over to them. "There are my favorite neighbors, the Hanson family!" He said. He raised a eyebrow and asked, "Where is Caroline?"
  5. "James! How good to see you." Charles Hanson set a hand on James' shoulder and gave it an affectionate squeeze. Mrs. Hanson bobbed her head in greeting, her manner bordering more on civility than friendly. It wasn't that she didn't like James, he was a dear boy, but she didn't want him to feel too much like a part of their family either. She had heard one too many tales of young daughters being swept off their feet by handsome neighbours instead of wealthy suitors.

    "Miss Hanson," she corrected gently "is dancing at the moment."

    Mr. Hanson studied the young man's attire curiously. Most of the young men had chosen to show-off their woolen greys like prancing peacocks, but a few had not. "Saving your uniform for marching day, I see. No doubt very wise, very wise. I've seen one or two accidental spills already this evening. If our boys show up to Washington with too many wine stains, those Yanks will think they can fight!"
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  6. James smiled as he greeted both Mr. and Mrs. Hanson. He knew them his whole life and they were always on good terms with the Garrett family. His father, Jack Garrett, had helped Caroline's father with all sorts of stuff. Still, it bothered James he had to go fight for a cause he only half believed in. Regardless, he was a soldier, and soldier follows orders. He would probably stick close to The Hanson men, since they knew what they doing.

    "Right, I meant Miss Hanson." James corrected quickly. He had forgotten his formalities around Mrs. Hanson

    He turned and spotted Caroline dancing with her uncle. He waved in her direction before turning Mr. Hanson. "Sir I would like to ask if I could speak to your daughter after her dance is over." he asked in the most sophisticated way he could.
  7. Charles Hanson's eyebrow shot up as his wife simultaneously swatted his arm with her fan in concern. An unspoken conversation passed between their eyes, hers bathed in alarm while his remained unaffected. Finally, Mrs. Hanson gave her husband a slight nod, returned her fan to flutter before her face, and stalked away with straight shoulders to give them some privacy. Charles Hanson placed his hand on James' elbow and turned toward the wall to shelter their words from listening ears.

    "May I ask what you want to speak to her about?" he queried in a serious tone.
  8. When Mrs. Hanson left , James started to get nervous. Were the Hansons going to get David to beat the hell of him for wanting to say farewell to their daughter and one of his dearest friends. James thought about what to say and then said it.

    "Sir, you've known me for 17 years, I've known your daughter all my life sir, and I care for her deeply. I would like to spend some time with one of the closest people I know sir." He paused for effect. His heart skipped a beat as he was knew what he was about to ask next. "Sir, I know Mrs. Hanson isn't exactly pleased I am so close to her daughter, but Sir please understand... I love your daughter, I always have. And with your blessing I wish to court your daughter."

    He exhaled lightly and waited for his response.
    #8 Nater Taters, Jun 19, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2014
  9. A heavy sigh escaped Mr. Hanson's lips. He turned just enough to locate his daughter swirling in her uncle's arms on the dance floor, then sought out the nervous glances of his wife. Caroline was pining for romance, that he knew for a fact. So many of her peers had already entered the realm of courting and were perfectly content with leaving her behind. He was anxious for her. He was afraid. Any scoundrel could win the affections of a lady if she was desperate enough.

    He turned back to James. Though giving him permission would greatly upset Mrs. Hanson and her plans to see Caroline courting and eventually marrying a wealthy politician, there was no guarantee Caroline would even accept the attentions of a man she looked upon as a brother. It would at least give her something to boast to her peers about.

    "You have my blessing," Charles Hanson finally said. Drawing closer to James he whispered, "And between you and me... good luck." He gave the young man a wink. "I see the current dance is ending."
  10. "Thank you sir." he said with a hint of gratitude in his voice. He cared for Caroline, and he hoped he could have their relationship be something more than just friends. James nodded and smirked when Charles wished him luck. He stepped out onto the dance floor and made his way slowly towards the Lieutenant and Caroline.

    What should I say when I get to her? he asked himself, she looked like she was having a good time, the same couldn't be said about James. He cleared his throat and strided his way towards her. Before he could get to her, David stepped in front of him, causing James to jump a bit.

    "Jimmy! where have ya been, ya left me outside to deal with all those broads." David basically screamed at him. You could smell the booze on him. People were watching them, waiting for what James would say.

    "Move aside David, I am going to speak with Caroline." James said calmly. David turned around and caught a glimpse of Caroline and her uncle, he waved drunkenly at them before turning back to James.

    "Well, good luck with that." David said before stumbling off to God knows where. James watched before turning back to Caroline. He walked over and said, "Excuse me Miss Caroline, I was wondering if you would do me the honor of sharing a dance with a old friend." he asked while extending his hand towards her.
  11. Skirts swirling about her ankles as her uncle led her in the last step of the dance, Caroline's flushed cheeks and sparkling blue eyes only added to her charming appearance. Several pairs of eyes fixed themselves on her in anticipation of the dance's end and drew closer as the lieutenant offered his partner a parting bow. Her picture-perfect moment was quickly shattered as a foul voice brayed nearby her. She whirled around to find James and his obnoxious cousin the center of attention. Her face burned crimson in embarrassment at the brazen wave the drunk man gave her. Quickly she averted her eyes and placed her hand on her uncle's arm with a light laugh, as if he had just made a joke.

    "Oh Lieutenant, how funny you are!"

    Her uncle played along by flashing her a roguish grin. Ten years younger than his brother, George Hanson was the handsome one of the family and much more laid-back. He was about to ask her for a second dance to encourage her would-be partners to declare themselves when James cut in. A pained look crossed Caroline's eyes for a moment.

    "James, hello. I...I..." she said uncertainly, her eyes flicking from his hand to David's vulgar form. She was saved by another young man offering his hand. Gratefully, she accepted the second man's offer and gave James an apologetic smile with a whispered "Next dance" as her partner whisked her away.
  12. James gave a hurt look to Caroline as she was pulled away, but then shrugged and decided he would have to wait his turn like everyone else. He gathered with some of his old buddies from his school days.

    "I'll tell ya, those damn Yanks have some nerves building Sumter in the first place." James friend, Billy McDowell, said harshly as he wiped the sweat off his face with his handkerchief. The other young men in his group nodded and mumbled in agreement.

    A man passed by offering each young man a glass of wine. They all took a glass and toasted. "To each man here tonight." Mikey Turner announced, "May he fight valiantly and return to his wife quickly." There some mumbles in agreement. After the toast, Mikey turned to James, "So Jimmy, have you danced with Caroline yet?"

    "No, but I'll get the next dance." James said with a smirk. There was some commotion among the other guys. "Shut up" James said jokingly. "It's not like that and you all know it."
  13. Caroline couldn't shake James' look from her mind's eye as her partner whirled her around the dance floor. Being unable to enjoy this dance with a handsome man in uniform frustrated her. No amount of eyelash fluttering and second-guessed giggling could redeem her absent mind. The dance ended far too soon for her and not soon enough for her partner. He gave her a stiff bow, a polite thank you, and left her to pursue a more engaging woman to entertain.

    Left alone to wander away from the crowd of swishing skirts and wait for someone else to take pity on her, her thoughts started laying out the mock tongue-lashing she would give her neighbour for upsetting her evening. Unsure of where James even was at the moment, she meandered over to the punch table and balanced a delicate glass cup in her gloved fingers to dish herself some of the cooling pink liquid. Perhaps it would also cool her temper.
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  14. James took into account the ending of the song and decided to head over the dance floor and try and find his Caroline. He looked all over the ballroom to find Caroline, but was unable too. He was about to give up until something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. He turned and saw Caroline standing by herself at the punch bowl. She looked slightly irritated and being a good friend, James decided to investigate.

    He jogged over to the table and stopped in front of her. "You look upset, is some thing wrong?" he gave her a concerned look. He gave her a small smile, "I know what will cheer you up, A dance with the most handsome young man in town." he boasted as he took her hand and lead back to the dance floor.
  15. To refuse his hand a second time would be downright cruel. Caroline set her half-empty glass on the table and let James claim his dance. She bit her tongue to hold back a witty remark at his boast. If they weren't in a ballroom with hundreds of people to witness, she would have playfully slugged him in the arm. But that type of behaviour was far beneath a lady. Very far. She waited until the chamber orchestra struck up their tune before allowing herself to answer. The soft music suggested a slow waltz. A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, assuaging some of her anger. James would time it right for an intimate dance.

    "You had best introduce me to this handsome man before the dance commences," she quipped as other couples took their places on the dance floor.
  16. "Well yes, of course." James said lightly as he led her onto the dance floor. The music played lightly as James lead Caroline in a waltz. As they danced,he looked in those brilliant blue eyes of Caroline and asked, "So, will you miss me while I fight in a war?" he asked with a nervous smile. The dance was going good, Caroline was a good dancing partner, maybe he would ask Mr. Hanson if he could walk her home.

    "You are a fine dancer Miss Hanson, have you always been this talented?" James asked as they continued to waltz across the dance floor.
  17. James' hand was hot against her waist and her gloved fingers tingled in his other hand. There was something about his eyes tonight that put her on her guard. Balancing on the balls of her feet, her steps mimicked his without a thought. Emotionally, however, she was much more unsteady. Still fighting down her embarrassment over the commotion David and James had caused and trying to figure out what was on her friend's mind, her thoughts whirled in time with her steps.

    "So, will you miss me while I fight in a war?" His nervousness was unmistakeable. Please, James, don't go there, she thought to herself. She liked him, she liked him a lot, but it was the brotherly kind of affection. They had danced in mud puddles after a rainstorm when she was but a toddler, sat on a dock together skipping stones across the pond on her family estate as they grew older, and built a tree fort the summer before her 13th birthday. They had been inseparable. But everything had changed when Mother introduced her into society. Suddenly her time outside was limited to reading books in the shade of the alcove in the kitchen garden. Her contact with James died down to meeting at social gatherings and sneaking out back to gasp for fresh air and swap jokes. And now...

    "You are a fine dancer, Miss Hanson. Have you always been this talented?"

    Caroline blinked and shook her head to clear it, wiggling a few curls loose from her bun. What had he asked? Something about... she couldn't stop the grin from enveloping her lips.

    "Why yes, as a matter of fact," she answered gaily. "I'm talented in many things."
  18. The pause after James asked Caroline if she would miss him was not good. The realization that she did not feel the same way he did about her felt like someone hit James in the stomach with one of his father's hammers. However, he decided to change the subject before Caroline could tell he was visibly upset.

    They continued to dance around the room. Those last few minutes of having someone you cared about with you was on of the few happy moments James had at the entire dance.

    "Ya know, it's gonna be weird not having to wake up every morning at 4 am and shovel out the horse stalls, or feed the cows or help my dad with some odd carpentry job, like building a giant rocking horse or something. All the while you slept in till God knows when." he joked, he tried to put up a macho front, but inside, he was heartbroken and terrified.
  19. She giggled as her cheeks turned pink. "I'm not the only girl who has trouble getting up in the morning!" Moving to her tip toes, she leaned in as close to his ear as possible to whisper, "I once heard Mary Pritchard admit she didn't have breakfast until two o'clock one day." A sobering thought hit her then and she gave James a sympathetic look. "I imagine you'll be getting up at four every morning to train and drill and have sergeants shouting at you all day long."
  20. James half smiled as he shook his head, "Some how, that doesn't surprise me." he said. the dance was coming to a end, which was a little bit depressing for James, since this was the last time he would see Caroline before marching off to war.

    "Ah, don't worry about me Caroline. Like my ma always said, God built you to last James. I'm pretty sure I can handle myself in basic training."
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