Been Here Before

I know in my bones I've been here before…

"Going Home," by Mary Fahl.

He was travelling along the highway that ran from Leesburg, Virginia, to Frederick, Maryland, and had just crossed the Potomac River at Point of Rocks when he pulled over on the side of the road to consult his maps. One was a road map of Maryland that he had purchased for the journey. It had some physical features, such as mountains and rivers, but its main importance was that it showed all of the major roads that he had to follow.

The other map also showed various physical features and main roads. This map, however, was considerably older. It showed signs of having been unfolded and refolded many times in the past, with some wear showing around the edges. It also bore several markings that had been applied to it in coloured pencils of several colours. Some marks circled towns, as if indicating stopping places on a journey, while others snaked along various roads, as if tracing out not one but several different paths. Near some of the circles were small annotations that had been written in very neat, but minuscule, handwriting with a normal graphite pencil. An observer who saw the map would have been mystified by the markings, especially as it appeared as though they had been written in some strange language that the driver, interestingly enough, was able to interpret.

These were not the only differences between the two maps. The older map, unlike the road map, had been printed on a heavy paper that was backed by a heavy canvas, which, despite its age, made it far more robust than its younger counterpart. In addition, the older map had been coated with a thin layer of lacquer, which had, over the years, cracked and yellowed due to exposure to the elements that it had protected the map from. It had also enabled the pencilled in markings to be added without damaging the printed surface through erasure whenever it was decided to remove the markings after they had served their purpose. Finally, although it was just as utilitarian as the road map, the older map was, to put it simply, had a more attractive look to it. Instead of being drawn by a draughtsman, it gave the appearance of having been compiled by somebody who had a slightly artistic flair in his work. It was in many ways a survivor from an earlier era that believed that useful and utilitarian objects, such as a doorknob, a boot scraper, or a map, need not be plain in order to be useful.

The driver followed one path on the older map that had been traced in green pencil with his index finger, pausing every now and then to compare it with a similar path that had been drawn on his road map in plain pencil. Every so often he would look from his maps at the surrounding countryside before tracing his path again. He did all of this with a practiced ease that, even a casual and uninitiated observer would have recognised as belonging to someone with long practice at map reading and navigation. Finally, the driver nodded to himself in satisfaction. He replaced his maps on the seat beside him, gave the surrounding scenery one last look before he put his car into gear and drove off towards town of Frederick.


The road now wound past Frederick but it still went over the top of Cacotin Mountain. Where in the past it had twisted and turned somewhat it now ran fairly straight, with only a few curves in it as it climbed the slopes of the mountain. At the top it passed through a fairly deep cutting, but from there he could see laid out in front of him as though it was on a map table several of Maryland's counties, with the road going back down the mountain before heading off towards Middletown and, beyond it, through Turner's Gap on South Mountain.

But Middletown was not his goal. His goal lay somewhat closer. But to find how he was going to get there, he would have to consult his maps and check out the lay of the land. And the crest of the cutting over Cacotin Mountain, on the Frederick side, was the ideal spot to do this from.

As it was all those years ago, relatively speaking, thought the driver to himself.

He pulled over to the side of the road, turned off the engine of his car and, taking both of his maps, a large, weathered pouch made of oilskin and a battered, japanned leather field glasses case, he got out of the car. Shutting the door, he walked over to the front of his car and placed the maps on the car's bonnet, weighing them down with the field glasses case and the pouch. Going to the side of the road he found several good-sized rocks that had worked themselves loose from the cutting's side, picked them up and used them to hold his maps in place on the car's bonnets. Then, picking up the field glasses case, he took a set of brass-bound, japanned field glasses out of the case and, putting them to his eyes, he began to scan the countryside in front of him with a practiced air, as though he had done this several times before. Every so often he would again look at his maps, as though he was trying to place something on them that was no longer there.

All through this performance traffic passed him by. A few curious people would crane their heads as they passed him, but when they realised that he was simply navigating (or so it seemed) they just ignored him. After all, he didn't seem too out of the ordinary and besides, cars with Virginia number plates were fairly common. But then a patrol car came over the crest and, seeing the car parked at the side of the road, decided to pull over to investigate.

The driver heard them pull up and turned his head around. On seeing that it was a patrol car he put his glasses down, checked that his maps were not going anywhere, and waited for the police officers to come to him.

The two officers got out of their car and approached the driver. Before them stood a youngish-looking, strikingly handsome, well-dressed man. He had auburn hair, cut somewhat longish but well groomed, and an equally well-groomed goatee and moustaches. He was wearing a slightly antique style fine linen shirt, one that had slightly puffed sleeves and a neck opening that buttoned up one-third of the front. The top two buttons were undone. In the pocket of his shirt he had what looked like an expensive fountain pen. He also wore dark blue flannel trousers, which were, like the shirt, of a quality that bespoke of some wealth. On his feet he wore good quality but quite serviceable black leather lace-up ankle boots. His posture had a vaguely military air to it; as though he had been accustomed to command, but was also distinctly aristocratic. To finish things off the car he stood in front of was a late model Mercedes Benz. Everything about him seemed to say to the two patrolmen that he was wealthy, but didn't feel the need to flaunt his wealth.

As they got closer, the military air about him seemed to be confirmed by the class ring on his right ring finger. But they also noticed his eyes. They were possibly some of the oldest-looking eyes either of them had ever seen, and were quite shocking to look at, especially looking out of that youngish face. The older of the two officers immediately recognised them, though. They were the eyes of someone who had seen too much at too young an age. Quite possibly a veteran, he thought as they approached the driver. But of what? He looks too young to have been in the Gulf.

"Can I help you gentlemen?" he said as the police officers drew near. His accent was that of Virginia and combined with his appearance gave him a slightly antebellum air.

"We're just stopping to see if you needed any assistance, sir," said the senior of the two policemen. "We saw your car and decided to investigate."

The driver gave a small smile. "No need to trouble yourselves, sir," he said. "I was just surveying the area and comparing it to these maps here before I decide on my next course of action." He indicated the maps in front of him.

The two patrolmen looked at each other. Although everything about him screamed Southerner to them they were, since September 11, somewhat cautious about people with field glasses and maps. "Do you mind if we take a look, sir?" said the senior patrolman.

"Not at all, sir," said the driver. He stood to one side as the two patrolmen stepped up to look at the maps.

The younger one, who was something of a history buff, saw the older map and exclaimed, "Good Lord! That's a genuine Topographical Engineers' map from before the Civil War! And it's marked!" He ran a wondering finger over it and then turned to the driver. "Where did you get it from?"

The driver smiled. "You could say that it's been in the family for some years, officer." He indicated the maps. "One of my… family was in the Army of Northern Virginia during that conflict. These are his maps."

The other patrolman looked at the map. "I take it you're following his path?"

The stranger smiled and gave a brief nod. "You could say that, yes," he replied. "I'm following his path in General Robert E. Lee's Maryland campaign of 1862." He indicated the green line. "That's the path his unit took. I'm simply following it as best I can." He indicated the glasses. "These are his as well. I'm using them to, well, basically see as much of what he saw as possible and place it on this map here," he said, indicating the road map.

The younger one said, "What was he? An officer I presume."

The stranger nodded. "He was in General Jackson's command. I've just come through Frederick where they had been resting for a while before moving on further into Maryland. My… relative came this way for a spell before rejoining the army."

The older officer looked at the driver. "Do you mind if we see some ID, sir?" he said. The stranger shook his head. He reached behind him and took his wallet out of his back pocket. Opening it, he took out his driver's licence and handed it to the police officer, who took it, examined it and then compared the photo to the driver. The photograph appeared to match "May I have your name, sir?" he asked, keeping his eyes on the driver.

"Richard John Rawlings the Third," replied the driver. The name matched. Although he was satisfied that he was who he said he was there was still one check he had to make. "Will you just excuse me for a moment, sir?" Rawlings nodded. Leaving his partner to watch Rawlings he went back to the patrol car. Getting in, he ran Rawlings' details through a computer that was linked by radio to a large database. Not surprisingly, the computer returned a positive match, showing hardly any violations apart from a couple of parking tickets that Rawlings had paid.

Satisfied, the older officer returned to Rawlings and handed his driver's licence back.

The older officer looked at Rawlings. "Well," he said, "I suppose you don't need any help. But please be careful," he said. "Since September 11 we've been told to keep an eye out for people who look suspicious and pull over to see what they were doing."

Rawlings nodded. "Not too surprising," he said. "If it is of any help to you at all, I'll be moving on soon. I've pretty much worked out where I'm going from here. I just need to check my bearings before I move on."

"Well, I suppose we'll let you go on and do that," said the older driver. "But, before we go, do you mind if I ask you something?" Rawlings shook his head. "Are you one of those recreationist fellows? You know, who recreate the Civil War?"

Rawlings threw back his head and laughed. "I think I can safely say that I'm not, sir!" he said.

"All right, then. We'll just leave you to your own business. Good day, sir." With that, the two officers walked back to their car, got in and drove off.

Rawlings watched them leave. It seems that the details that were placed in the various databases have been accepted, he thought to himself. He then replaced his glasses in their case, removed his maps from the car bonnet, and got back into his car. He looked at the traffic flowing past where he was. The road was quite busy.

But it was also busy back then, too, he thought. Different kind of traffic, though. With that, he drove off. However, he had to turn around and come back through Frederick to reach his goal. After a while, he reached the spot where he had to turn off if he was to reach his destination.

The sign in front of the turnoff said Lawndale.


He followed the offramp and soon found himself travelling down what appeared to be the old main road that connected Harpers Ferry and Frederick. He was approaching Lawndale from the Frederick side, following a route that was both strange and familiar to him.

Suddenly, he saw something that astounded him so much that he had to pull over to the side of the road to make sure he wasn't seeing things. He stopped the car, got out of it, and stared at the apparition on the other side of the road.

There, in all of its faded and somewhat chipped glory, was a giant concrete strawberry.

Rawlings began to shake his head as he chuckled to himself. What on earth were they thinking about when they built that monstrosity? He looked up the road, towards where a large hill, one of the foothills of Cacotin Mountain, loomed over the town he was outside of. Yep, he thought as he looked back at the strawberry, having that thing there might have made things a bit easier. He got into his car and dove off.

Before long he was approaching the centre of Lawndale. He passed by the green that sat in the middle of the town, flanked by the town hall on one side and the courthouse on the other. He also saw that there was a statue in the middle of the green, which had a very familiar profile to it. Seeing that there were some parking spaces next to the green, he pulled in and parked his car. Getting out of the car, he closed the door behind him and walked over to the statue. It looked weather-beaten and was somewhat dirty, as many statues of that kind tended to get over the ages, but the driver's keen eye picked out the various clues that told him that it was meant to be depicting a Union soldier, most likely an officer.

No, make that most definitely an officer, thought Rawlings as he noticed the cut of the coat and the worn protrusions on the shoulders where his shoulder straps, indicating his rank, had once been.

He looked at the plinth the statue stood upon. There was no inscription there, but again his keen eye let him pick out the holes where, once upon a time, there had been a plaque attached to the plinth. No doubt it had once proclaimed to the world at large what the statue commemorated, but some time ago it had been removed.

And I think I can hazard a pretty good guess just what it had commemorated, thought the stranger to himself. His eyes made out the shape of a militia buckle on the statue's sword belt.

He looked around the green. Although there were plenty of buildings, and the town had quite clearly grown from its humble beginnings as a crossroads, his trained eye could still pick out the line of the four main roads that led to the centre of town and had, in fact, once converged near this very spot. He went back to the car and dug out his two maps. Moving to the front of the car he spread them out on the bonnet and then, once again, followed the green line with his finger until he reached a circled crossroads that was marked on his map as being a small village. He then compared it with the line on his road map until he came to a similar looking junction on it. Satisfied, he nodded to himself and looked at the older map.

The circled crossroads was marked Sloane's Crossroads. Nearby was a feature that was marked Sloane Farm.

I wonder if the family's still there? Rawlings thought. He looked around the green, once again as though he was comparing what he saw with something that was visible only in his memory. Then, he faced the statue and, after making sure he wasn't being observed, straightened up and gave it what looked like a salute. It wasn't, however, one that any observers would have been familiar with as belonging to the armed forces of the United States. In fact, it strongly resembled the one used by the British Army.

"I suppose I'll be seein' you in hell, Billy," he quietly said to the statue. He brought his hand down and looked around the area once again. Seeing a diner, he first went back to his car, put his maps away and locked it. Then he crossed the road and went into the diner.

He walked up to the counter. The waitress behind it said, "Can I help you, sir?"

"Cup of coffee," he said. "Black and strong, please. Oh, and could you please tell me where I can purchase a map of the town?"

The waitress gave him a strange look. Sure talks funny, she thought. But boy, is he cute! "Not from around here, then," she said as she went about fixing him his coffee.

"No, I'm not," Rawlings replied. "I'm from a place called Mount Folly, Virginia."

"Virginian, eh?" she said. She finished fixing his coffee and placed it in front of him. "That'll be two bucks eighty," she said.

Rawlings handed her a five. "Keep the change," he said.

"Thanks!" said the waitress. As she broke the note she missed seeing how Rawlings slowly sipped his coffee and then closed his eyes in appreciation, as though he hadn't had a cup in a long time. "That's the real bean, sure enough," he whispered to himself.

"So, where's this 'Mount Folly', then?" asked the waitress.

"It's on the York River, a few miles from Williamsburg," Rawlings said. "My family home."

"What is it, a plantation of some kind?" asked the waitress.

"It is," Rawlings replied. He put down the coffee. "And I would be obliged if you can tell me where I can find a map of this locality."

The waitress felt somewhat offended, but said, "There's a bookstore on the next street over," she said. "They should have some maps there. Or you could try the newsagent on the corner opposite us, on the other side of the green."

"Much obliged, ma'am," said Rawlings. He sipped his coffee. Behind him, the diner's door opened, and two young women walked in. The taller of the pair had an attractive, heart-shaped face and wore no makeup save for bright, fire-engine red lipstick. She had straight, black hair that was cut above shoulder length and worn in an asymetterical fashion, exposing one ear that had three earrings in it. She wore a red shirt over a charcoal grey t-shirt, black jeans and a pair of light grey boots. When she spoke it was with a somewhat sultry voice that concealed within it more than a hint of sarcasm.

Her companion had long, auburn hair that reached just over her shoulders. Her face was one that a perceptive observer would have said was quite attractive. However, a pair of glasses that had thick, black frames holding large lenses largely hid it. She, too, wore no makeup. She was dressed in a green jacket, a burnt orange t-shirt, baggy black shorts that reached to mid-thigh and wore on her feet a pair of black Doc Martin boots that had seen a lot of use. He voice, by contrast, was a semi-monotone. It was more openly sarcastic than her friend's, but carried in it the seeds of a rather pleasant alto speaking voice. Both she and the taller woman were in the middle of a discussion.


"So, once again we're stuck in Lawndale for the summer holidays," said Jane Lane as she and her best friend and partner-in-crime Daria Morgendorffer walked into the diner. "We could have gone to Daytona with all of the other college students."

"No we couldn't," replied Daria. "For a start we couldn't afford the air fares. And somehow I doubt that even you would have been willing to risk travelling in that mobile junkpile of mine that masquerades as a car that distance."

"It could have been fun to try," replied Jane as they walked over to a corner booth.

"Jane, you have the strangest definition of fun that I have ever encountered," replied Daria as they sat down. "Besides, you know perfectly well I don't do 'fun'."

"Well, think of all the cute guys we could have met," said Jane. Her eyes wandered across to the counter and lit upon the driver. "Speaking of which, take a look over there at the counter," she continued in a quieter voice. "Now he looks seriously cute!"

Daria turned around and looked over to where Jane was looking. "Hmmm," she said. "Isn't he a bit old for you? Although I must admit, your taste in guys does seem to be improving."

Jane gave her best friend a wicked grin. "Why, Daria!" she said. "Don't tell me that…"

Daria glared at Jane. "Remember I still have that bridesmaid's dress, Jane," she said. She looked over at the counter again. "Besides, it looks as though someone else has her eyes on him." Sure enough the waitress behind the counter was, once again, flirting with the man seated at the counter.

"So, what brings you to Lawndale?" she asked.

The man's soft, aristocratic Virginia accent caused both Daria and Jane to raise their eyebrows. "I'm tracking the path of a… family member who took part in General Lee's 1862 campaign," he said. "His unit was in this area for a while." He again sipped his coffee, obviously savouring every drop, something that struck both Daria and Jane as odd. "I hope to be able to do some research in this area. Would you happen to know if there is a historical society of some kind in the area?"

The waitress shook her head. "Not to my knowledge," she said. She looked at the driver. "You a historian or something?" she asked.

"Or something," replied the stranger. He again sipped his coffee.

Jane looked at Daria. "From the looks that waitress is giving Rhett Butler there, it looks as though we might have to go over to get anything," she said.

"Fine," said Daria. "You go. I'll just sit here for a while."

Jane smirked. "In that case I'll bring him over. Besides, you heard what he said. Who knows: you might get a story out of it," she said as she got up out of her seat.

"Jane!" hissed Daria. It was too late, however. Jane was already heading over to the stool next to the stranger.

Jane sat down and, looking at the waitress, cheerfully said, "Hey! How about a little service here?"

The waitress gave Jane a very sharp look, but said, "What would you like to order?"

"A pot of coffee, thanks. You can bring it over to our table there," she said, pointing at where Daria sat. "Also a couple of menus." She turned to face the stranger. "So, you're following an ancestor here," she said.

The stranger turned and gave her an amused look. "You could say that, yes," he said.

"Well it just so happens that my compadre over there happens to be both a history and literature and writing major at Raft University in Boston. I'm sure she would be able to help you out." She cocked her head. "Care to join us?" she said. "We don't bite. Much."

The stranger raised an amused eyebrow, but said, "It will be my pleasure." He picked up his coffee and both he and Jane walked over to the booth where a by now thoroughly mortified Daria sat, head in her hands.

"I don't believe you, Lane," she said as Jane sat next to her. She lifted her head and shot her best friend a sour look. "First your brother…"

The stranger looked from one young woman to the other. Confusion was written all over his face. "What..?" he said.

"Private joke," Jane replied. "My amiga here isn't exactly a social butterfly."

"Ah," said the stranger. He looked from Jane to Daria, bemusement writ plain on his face. "Well, in any case," he said, "I do believe that introductions may be in order." He held out his hand. "Richard John Rawlings, of Mount Folly, Virginia."

Daria shot a glance at Jane. "Daria Morgendorffer," she said, and took Rawling's proffered hand. Much to her amazement, he stood and gave a slight bow over it, something that caused her to blush profusely. This of course, gave Jane no end of amusement. Daria glared at her best friend as she hurriedly retrieved her hand

"Jane Lane," she said, extending her hand. "Formerly of Lawndale, Maryland, as is my friend here. Currently of Boston, Massachusetts." Rawlings raised an amused eyebrow at Jane's statement, but saying nothing, simply took her hand and bowed over it.

"And you are still of Lawndale, Maryland, Miss Morgendorffer?" asked Rawlings. This caused Daria to blush even harder.

She gave her by now chuckling friend a death glare and said, "No. I'm currently studying at Raft University in Boston, when I'm not being humiliated by my so-called 'best friend'." She looked at Rawlings, who had raised his eyebrows at that information. "And it's just 'Daria', please. You make me sound like some old maid."

"My apologies, Daria," replied Rawlings. "It's just that my upbringing tends to come into play in a situation like this. By the way, congratulations on attending Raft. It's a fine school" He turned to Jane. "And are you also studying at Raft University, Miss Lane? Or would you prefer it if I called you 'Jane?'"

Jane smiled at Rawlings. "You may call me 'Jane,'" she said. "And no, I'm not at Raft: I'm at Boston Fine Arts College. BFAC for short." She shot him an assessing look. "And I'd say that you are not studying anywhere, at least by your clothes."

Rawlings again raised his eyebrows. "What causes you to say that, Jane?" he asked.

"Well, the fact that you're not exactly dressed as a poor student," Jane said. "Unlike us."

Rawlings smiled. "Touché, Jane," he said. "I did all of my studying some years ago. At the Virginia Military Institute, in fact." Both Daria and Jane looked at his right hand, Sure enough; there was a class ring. Rawlings continued, "Although I have been considering some further studies."

"Oh? Where at?" asked Jane. Daria said nothing.

"I haven't made up my mind yet," he said. "But before I do anything in that direction I have to get my own little self-appointed task out of the way."

"Yes, we overheard you telling the peroxided one over there about your family research," said Jane. "And speaking of the peroxided one, where is she with the coffee and menus?"

As if summoned, the waitress arrived and put a tray down on the table. It bore a coffee pot and two mugs. "Here's your coffee," she said, "and here are your menus," she added, putting a pair of menus on the table. "Call me when you're ready to order." She walked off.

Jane snorted. "Well, it looks as though somebody's got their knickers in a twist!" she said. She grinned at Rawlings. "I wonder why?"

Rawlings leaned forward. "I should offer you my thanks, Jane," he said. "I was wondering how best to extricate myself from that situation." He looked at Daria. "Jane tells me you're studying writing and history at Raft. I take you're something of a history buff?"

"You could say that," Daria replied. "I'm also taking Journalism as another major. Just in case the writing bit doesn't come off as I hope."

"I see," said Rawlings.

"Do you mind if I ask what you do for a living?" Jane said. "You don't seem too badly off, or at least your clothes tell me that you aren't."

Rawlings smiled. "You could say that I'm one of the 'idle rich'," he said. "At the very least I'm well-off."

"So, where's Mount Folly? I must admit it's not a name that immediately springs to mind," said Jane.

"Mount Folly's my family home," Rawlings said. "It's on the York River, in Charles City County not all that far from Williamsburg."

That information impressed both girls. "Well, Ah declahre!" said Jane in an affected accent that made her sound like Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind. She turned to Daria. "It seems we have a sprig of the Southern aristocracy here, Miss Daria!" Rawlings rolled his eyes in bemusement at that.

Jane turned to Rawlings. "I take it Mount Folly is a plantation?" she asked.

"It is, indeed," Rawlings said. "However, it tends to bear more of a resemblance to, say Monticello or Mount Vernon than Tara." He leaned back. "My family's been in that part of Virginia since the late 1600s, although we purchased Mount Folly in 1752. I suppose it is safe for me to say that Mount Folly isn't the only such property my family owns," he continued dryly. "Plus my family has long had connections with the military, going all the way back to the Revolution, and even to the French and Indian War."

"Well that explains the VMI connection," said Daria. "I take it you attended school at some fancy academy in Virginia?"

"No, I actually attended a fancy preparatory college in the North," Rawlings said. "I attended VMI to further my education, and then had an eight-year hitch in the US Army before leaving as a captain." I don't have to say that that was a brevet rank, he thought. They might not understand. He indicated the coffee. "Do you mind if I may…?"

Jane shook her head. "I don't mind,' she said. She looked over at Daria and smirked. "I think I can say that my friend doesn't mind either."

Daria again blushed. "I hate you," she said to Jane. Rawlings gave them a puzzled look, then shrugged and reached for the coffee pot.

As Rawlings poured himself a fresh cup, both Daria and Jane noticed the puckered line of scar tissue that ran across the back of his left hand, which he used to steady his mug. "That looks pretty nasty," said Jane, indicating his left hand. "What happened?"

Rawlings put down the pot and looked at his hand. "Oh," he said. "Old injury. Nothing to really worry about." He sipped his coffee, giving every appearance of savouring every drop, something that puzzled both Daria and Jane.

"Excuse me," said Daria, " but it looks like you haven't had any coffee for quite some time, if you're enjoying diner coffee so much."

Rawlings opened his eyes. "Going without something for a while tends to make you appreciate even coffee like this," he said.

"Must have been some place, if you didn't have coffee," Jane said.

"It was," said Rawlings. He put his mug down and, reaching into a trouser pocket, pulled out an expensive looking antique gold fob watch. He opened the lid and looked at the dial. "Coming up to lunch time," he said. "Would you like to order here, or is there someplace else you would prefer to dine at?"

Both girls looked at the watch. "Was that your ancestor's as well?" asked Jane.

"You could say that," Rawlings said. He closed the watch and replaced it in its pocket. "If you'll permit me," he said, "I'll settle the bill here and then we can go and find someplace to eat." He leaned forward. "I have to own to being a little bit uncomfortable here," he whispered, indicating the waitress with a subtle movement of his head.

Jane nodded. "No need to explain," she said. "And we'll help pay for the coffee."

Rawlings shook his head. "No, I insist," he said. He got up and headed for the counter.

Once he had gone, Daria leaned over and hissed, "Jane, are you nuts?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean we only just met this guy! We don't know anything about him except what he's told us! For all we know he could be some psychotic serial killer!" Daria hissed.

"Well, if he is a psychotic serial killer," Jane said, "he's a damned cute one. Besides, how many serial killers do you know who insist on paying for their victims' coffee?"

Daria shook her head. "You and your hormones, Lane," she muttered.

Jane shot her a grin. "Hey!" she said. "Just because you won't…"

"Finish that statement Lane, and I swear I will put you into that bridesmaid dress today," Daria growled. Jane said nothing but simply smirked.

Rawlings returned. "We'll just finish the coffee and then head over to where I'm parked," he said. Noticing the look that crossed Daria's face when he said that, he asked, "Is something the matter?"

Jane said, "Nothing really, but my colleague here would like you to know that she carries two cans of pepper spray on her at all times. Never knows when it'll come in handy." Daria said nothing but blushed even deeper. She glared at Jane.

Rawlings' brow furrowed in puzzlement, then cleared in sudden realisation. "Oh!" he said. He gave a sheepish gin. "I suppose that did sound rather suspicious," he said. "But really, I just want to go over to my car and get my maps." Seeing Daria and Jane's puzzled looks, he said "I have my… relative's maps from when he was in General Jackson's command in General Lee's Maryland campaign in 1862 in the car," he said. "Which reminds me: do either of you know where I can get a fairly good map of the area? I'd like to buy one."

"Good map of Lawndale?" said Jane. She snorted in laughter. "Good luck in trying to find one! But I suppose 'Books By The Ton' may have one."

"The waitress suggested that I could get one from a newsagent," Rawlings said. "But I suppose a bookshop would be better. Where is this 'Books By The Ton'?"

"Over in Cranberry Commons," Jane said. "The big shopping mall near the giant strawberry. You may have noticed that when you came into town."

Rawlings laughed. "I most certainly did!" he said. "But now that I think on't, it does resemble a badly-sculpted cranberry."

"Well, you've just seen Lawndale's biggest tourist attraction," said Jane.

"Do any of you know if there's any sort of historical society here?" Rawlings asked. "If there is, it might make my mission here easier."

Jane turned to Daria. "I think you'd be the one best equipped to handle that question," she said. "There's one in the library, isn't there?"

Daria nodded. "Also some kind of archive of historical records," she said. "But I think the county records are kept in Frederick."

Rawlings sighed. "I was afraid you would say that," he said. "I passed through Frederick on my way here. Last time I was there it wasn't so big, or crowded." He missed the look that Daria and Jane exchanged between themselves at that statement. "Looks like I'll have to find a hotel or similar and set up base there."

Jane came to a sudden decision. "Well, I have some spare rooms at my house," she said. "Unless all of my family has suddenly decided to return all at once." She turned an annoyed look on Daria. "What?" she said.

Daria said nothing. She was concerned about her friend taking this complete stranger into Casa Lane, even if Trent, he older brother and Jesse, the rhythm guitarist in Trent's band Mystik Spiral were present. This stranger had a lean, but fit look to him. She was well aware that Jane sometimes had poor impulse control, and to her mind this looked like another of those times when that, combined with what she jokingly termed Jane's hormones, could lead her best friend into trouble. And if something happened to you, Jane, because of that, Daria thought, I'd never forgive myself for stopping you when I could.

To Daria's relief, Rawlings shook his head. "Although that is a kind offer, Jane," he said, "I really can't allow you to make it. You've only recently met me. Lunch, though, is another matter. You've helped me somewhat already, and I feel it only right that I thank you both for that by buying you lunch. No, I insist," he said.

Jane turned to Daria. "Well, amiga," she said. "He does seem insistent on buying lunch. Where shall we go?"

"Cranberry Commons," Daria answered. "There are some eateries there. Plus, he can also buy his map at 'Books By The Ton'." It's also public enough so that he can't try anything, she thought.

"Then Cranberry Commons it is!" Jane said. "Shall we go now?" she asked. "I think that waitress is giving us the hairy eyeball. Wonder why?" Daria said nothing but slid out of her seat and waited for Jane to slide out. Rawlings had already gotten out of his seat and was waiting for them to get ready. Once they were up, they walked out of the diner, with Rawlings holding the door open for the pair of them.

The waitress followed them out with envious eyes. Some girls have all the luck, she thought. She shrugged. Who'd have thought somebody that hot would go for a freaky art chick, let alone the Misery Chick herself?


Cranberry Commons hadn't changed all that much, and 'Books By The Ton' was still in its accustomed spot. Rawlings quickly purchased his map and then took Daria and Jane to the food court. However, Rawlings wasn't too fond of the fast food on sale there (and even commented on the quality of the 'southern fried chicken' one famous chain sold). So he went to look for a somewhat better quality servery.

Walking along one of the main thoroughfares of the huge shopping mall, his eyes lit upon a sign advertising an eatery that was so outrageous he started to chuckle. Both Daria and Jane gave him strange looks, until he directed their attention to the sign above the entry to the eatery.

The sign read: Le Petomane's New Orleans Cajun Eatery.

"Now, either the person who decided to call it that doesn't know what it means," said Rawlings, "or they have a pretty good idea about what Cajun food can do to you."

"I take it you know both what it means and what Cajun food can do to you?" asked Jane. She was chuckling as well, while Daria simply gave one of her Mona Lisa smiles.

"Indeed I do," Rawlings said. "I've eaten in New Orleans on a couple of occasions. And I'm tempted to see if they do know what Cajun food's supposed to be like." He indicated the eatery. "Ladies?" he said.

By now, both Daria and Jane were used to Rawlings' mannerisms. Unlike Charles Ruttheimer the Third (known to all and sundry at Lawndale High as "Upchuck") Rawlings did not come across as either smarmy or sleazy. The best thing about him, from Daria and Jane's perspective, was that if he did make an accidental remark, he immediately caught himself and apologised for it. Everything about him was completely free of artifice, unlike Upchuck's sallies. It was simply how he was: a courteous Virginia aristocrat with just a hint of the antebellum about him. Courtliness was as natural to him as breathing.

Much to her surprise, Daria found herself easing up around Rawlings. Leaving aside his antebellum good looks, he was easily the most interesting man she had ever encountered. He was definitely one of the most intelligent she had ever met, something that pleasantly surprised her. Who'd have thought I'd meet someone like him in this dump? she thought to herself.

So they decided to join him on his expedition to see if Le Petomane's lived up to its claim.

They weren't disappointed. Rawlings pronounced it good eating. "Not quite up to what you could expect from the French Quarter," he said, "but definitely better than that slop they serve at those fast food chains." And again, ignoring their protests, he insisted on paying for their meals.

Later, over coffee at another outlet, the three of them poured over his maps.

They had both been impressed by his maps: Daria because of what they were, and Jane because of the level of artistry that had gone into making them. She especially loved how the draughtsman who had created them had actually made the mountains and hills look like mountains and hills. "Why can't we do the same today?" she had asked. "Make something not only useful, but attractive?"

"You can't tell how high the mountains are, though," Daria had said. "At least on modern military maps they put contours."

"Yes, but at least the farmed areas look like farmed areas," Jane had responded. "And they've even named who lives in what farm." She looked at Rawlings. "Where are we on this one?" she asked, indicating the older map.

Rawlings put his finger on a crossroads that had been circled in green pencil. "Best I can work out is that this is where Lawndale would be placed," he said.

Daria and Jane looked at where he had placed his finger. "Figures!" said Daria. "Figures that Lawndale used to be known as Sloane's Crossroads."

"I take it you know the family?" Rawlings asked.

"Well, the son, Tom Sloane, first went out with me, and then went out with Daria in high school," Jane replied. "So you could say we know the Sloanes."

"I… see," Rawlings said. "So the family is still in the area." It was clear to Daria and Jane that their mention of their romantic entanglements with Tom Sloane in high school had made him uneasy.

Jane immediately moved to put Rawlings at ease. "It's no big deal," she said. "Standard teenage highschool stuff."

"Ah," said Rawlings. "I see." He looked at the map. "I wonder if the Sloane house is still where this map says it is."

"Let's see if it is," said Jane. A quick look at the map of Lawndale soon showed that the Sloane mansion was not in the same location as the old Sloane farm.

"I wonder if they have any records of the Army of Northern Virginia having been in this area?" mused Rawlings. At this, both Daria and Jane got uncomfortable over the prospect of having to deal with Tom Sloane. Although they had all parted on amicable terms, there was still some unease over their last year in high school.

"I don't know," said Daria. "They might have deposited them at the local historical society."

"You say that they're located in the local library building?" asked Rawlings.

"Yes, they are," said Daria. "The library's located here." She indicated the location on the map.

"Right," said Rawlings. "I suppose I had better get myself established in a hotel somewhere." He looked at the two young women sitting opposite him. "I can run you both back into the centre of town or, if you like, drop you off wherever it is you're staying."

Daria hesitated for a moment. Although she had found herself relaxing around Rawlings, she still felt a reluctance to let him know where she was staying with her family.

Jane, on the other hand, felt no reluctance. "Hell, you could drop us both off at my place," she said. "That is, if it's no trouble for you."

"No trouble at all," Rawlings said. "Shall I fix up the bill, then."

Both Daria and Jane firmly shook their heads. "You've been generous enough," Daria said. "This time, we insist on paying for our share of the coffee." And despite Rawlings' protests, Daria got up and went over to pay for the coffee, leaving Jane alone with Rawlings.

Jane leaned over. "If you can't find a room in a motel," she said, "the offer of a room at my place still stands." She scribbled down her phone number on a napkin and handed it to Rawlings. "Here's my number," she said. "Call me if you need a room."

Rawlings looked at it and, folding it up, placed it in his shirt pocket. "Thanks for the offer, Jane," he said. "I doubt I'll need it, though." He looked up to see that Daria had finished paying for the coffee and had come back over to the table. "Shall we depart, then?" he said.

They all headed out of the mall and went to where Rawlings had parked. Daria got in the back seat while Jane got in on the passenger's side so as to be able to direct Rawlings to Casa Lane. After a while Rawlings pulled up in front of 111 Howard Drive.

As Jane and Daria got out, Rawlings said, "Do you mind if I ask just what is that in the front yard?" He indicated the abstract sculpture.

"Abstract sculpture," Jane said. "Don't ask what it's about: I just put it together."

"Right," said Rawlings. "Well, thank you for your help. I muchly appreciate it. I may see you around?" he asked

"You might," Jane said. Rawlings nodded and then drove off. Both Daria and Jane watched until his car disappeared round the corner. Then Daria turned to her best friend and put her hands on her hips.

"Jane," she said, "sometimes I don't believe you. Am I wrong, or were you trying to set yourself up with a complete stranger who we know next to nothing about?"

Jane shrugged. "He seems cute." She looked at her best friend. "And don't tell me you found him repulsive, either," she said. "At least it didn't look that way to me."

Daria blushed, but didn't look away. "At least I didn't let him find out where I'm staying while I'm in Lawndale," she replied. "Which, now that I think about it, is probably a good thing."

"What, you afraid that he might sneak up on you at night?" asked Jane. She started walking up the footpath to her house, Daria following alongside her.

"No. More like either my parents invite him in and try their best to set me up with him, or, worse, Quinn finds out about him and makes a big dive in his direction," said Daria. "And, despite our differences in the past, I don't want her repeating what happened with her tutor. I never saw her so… hurt when that David Sorenson let her down hard."

Jane cocked her head to one side as she considered what Daria had just said. "That bad, huh?" she said. Daria said nothing. After a while, Jane said, "Besides, I don't think that Quinn would be in any emotional danger from our Virginian aristocrat."

"What do you mean?" asked Daria. By now, they had reached the front door. Jane unlocked it, opened the door and led the way in.

"I'd say that he probably knows how to let a girl down easy," said Jane. Then she grinned. "And even you would have to admit that he was a damn sight smoother than Upchuck used to be." They halted in the living room.

Daria thought for a moment, and then nodded. "Yeah," she said. "Where Upchuck was all contrived, our 'Virginia aristocrat', as you call him, is much more natural. His mannerisms are just the way he is. In fact, he probably… no, his behaviour is as natural as breathing is to him."

Jane nodded. "Anyway, on a different matter: You ready for a bad movie marathon at Casa Lane?"

Daria shook her head. "Not tonight, unfortunately. The 'rents have decided that it's time for me and Quinn to spend some 'quality bonding time' with them and one another, now that Quinn's on the verge of leaving home for college."

"Bummer," said Jane. "So when do you think you'll be free?"

"The way things are going, probably right before we have to go back to Boston," said Daria.

"I told you we should have gone to Daytona!" said Jane.

"On what?" retorted Daria. "Unless I can come up with some kind of convincing excuse not to be in the company of my family I'm afraid I'll be spending an indeterminate time in familial hell. Especially when Grandma Barksdale, Grandma Morgendorffer and my aunts are going to be visiting as well."

"Now that's a real bummer!" said Jane. "I take it you're going to hole up in your old room until the nuclear carpet bombing has died down, whereupon you emerge from your shelter as the only sapient being left in your family home?"

"Either that, or I go and hide in the garage. But that's what I think my father's going to do," said Daria.

"Hmmm," Jane said. "You know, I've just thought of something."

"Great," said Daria. "Do I start running and screaming in the general direction of 'away' now, or do I wait until I hear what you're thinking?"

"Funny girl," said Jane. "Actually, I was thinking about what I said about our Southern gentry's little project in the diner."

"Oh, so he's our 'Southern gentry'?" said Daria. Jane ignored the remark.

"I said that you might get a story out of it," Jane said. "Well, how about we actually find out just what role the Lawndale area may have played in the Civil War?"

"Probably not much," said Daria. "But then, I do suppose that some elements of the Confederate Army may have come out here foraging…" Daria got that somewhat abstracted look that told Jane that her partner-in-crime was seriously considering what she had said.

"It'll get you out of Schloss Morgendorffer for much of the holidays," said Jane. "Means that you'll be able to hang out at my place for some relative peace and quiet while you're composing your story."

"I note that you said relative 'peace and quiet'," Daria said. "But then, Mystik Spiral's playing would be relative peace and quiet when compared to the Battling Barksdales. Not to mention the Morgendorffer Mayhem that Grandma Morgendorffer will be adding." She frowned. "But there could be one minor drawback, though."

"Oh? What's that," said Jane.

"We just might get Quinn coming over to Casa Lane, just to escape the war zone at Schloss Morgendorffer," said Daria. "But that mightn't be a bad thing. She's grown somewhat as a person over the past two years."

"Well, that does happen to people," said Jane. "So what's she doing? Something involving fashion, no doubt."

"Funny you should say that," Daria said as she sat down on the couch. Jane cleared an armchair and sat down in that. "You remember hearing about the big exhibit from the Victoria and Albert Museum that was in Washington?"

"Yeah," said Jane. "Pity we couldn't go at the time. And when we get down here we find it's moved up to Boston." She leaned back into the chair, which creaked alarmingly. "Now, you know that I'm into fashion as much as, well, you. But having a look at costumes that are works of art in themselves, well, I think you know what I mean."

"Yeah. Well, Quinn managed to go with Stacy Rowe," Daria said.

"You're joking," Jane said.

"No I'm not. Amy took them. Anyway, Quinn got to talking with some of the curators at the exhibit," Daria said. "Next thing, they've managed to get a working lunch with the senior curator for the exhibit."

"Waitaminute. Your ex-fashionista sister got a working lunch with some of the V and A people?" Jane asked. "Next thing you'll be telling me… no way!"

"She managed to get as a part of her senior year studies some courses in materials conservation, specialising in clothing, at Middletown College," Daria said. "I suspect it was the letter she got from the senior curator of the travelling exhibition that convinced the school supervisors to let her do that."

"No doubt Li was stoked over that!" snorted Jane. "More glory for Lawwwndale High! Not to mention its administrator."

"She was. But the upshot is that Quinn's final grades have improved so much that she's now considering going to study clothing conservation and history at Boston University," Daria said. "Seems she's decided against going to Pepperhill now that she seems to have found her vocation."

"Well, I'll be stripped naked, waxed and painted pink!" said Jane. "Who'd have thought it!"

"Thanks for the strong visuals, Jane," said Daria.

"So Boopsie is coming to Boston?" Jane said.

"Seems like it," Daria said. She glanced at her watch. "And speaking of going, I had better be doing that myself," she said. "Another home-cooked meal of pre-made lasagna awaits." She got up.

Jane got up too. "Hey! Think about what I said." Daria gave her a strange look. "You know! About telling your folks you're doing some research for a story!"

Daria gave a small smile. "I just might," she said. "I'd better go. I'll call you tomorrow."


"Well, this is damned inconvenient!"

Richard John Rawlings sat down in his car. Much to his chagrin all of the motels, hotels and other places of accommodation in the Lawndale area were all booked out. And he didn't really want to head into Franklin to see if there was a room available there.

Who'd have thought that a conference in this part of the world about unidentified flying objects, whatever those are, would be so big! Rawlings thought. He sighed and reached into his pocket.

He encountered a folded-up napkin. Brow furrowed in puzzlement, he took it out and unfolded it. There, before his eyes, written in ballpoint pen, were the words Jane Lane, 111 Howard Drive, Lawndale and a telephone number.

Rawlings suddenly remembered Jane. Unconventional dresser, but smart and with a good-looking face shaped like a heart, he thought. That's right: she offered me a room. I wonder if the offer is still open? Only one way to find out. He took his mobile phone, opened it and dialled in Jane's number.

At the Lane residence, Jane was just getting ready to go and have a shower when the phone rang. "Trent! Phone!" she yelled out. The phone continued to ring. "Trent?" Dammit, she thought. Must be asleep in the basement. Wrapping a towel around her, she raced out into the living room and picked up the phone. "Yello," she said.

A familiar voice came out of the earpiece. "Is this the Lane residence?" it said, in the soft, honey-smooth tones of the Virginia aristocracy.

Jane grinned. "It is," she said. "What can I do for you, Mister Rawlings?" she continued in a faux Southern drawl.

On the other end, Rawlings rolled his eyes in bemusement. "I was wondering if your kind offer of a room was still available?" he said. "It turns out that all of the rooms in this town are booked solid."

Jane's grin grew wider. "Well, of course my offer is still open," she said. "Sure I can put you up here at Casa Lane. You do have the address?"

Rawlings smiled. "You were kind enough to write it on the napkin you gave me," he said. '111 Howard Drive', correct?"

"Indeedy it is!" Jane said. "Interesting that all of the rooms in town are booked solid!" she said.

"Some damned Unidentified Flying Object convention, whatever those are," Rawlings said.

"What, the convention, or the Unidentified Flying Objects?" Jane said.

"The latter."

"Well, there's some who consider it all a government plot to hide contact with the aliens," Jane said. "Of course, that's what my species wants you all to think while we slowly take over the world."

Rawlings was silent for a moment. Then, he said, "Jane, what in the world are you talking about?"

Jane's eyebrows rose. He hasn't heard about UFOs? she thought. "Private joke," she said. "I do that with Daria all the time."

"Ah," said Rawlings. "Well, if it isn't inconvenient for you, I would like to take up that offer of a room. I will pay for lodging and board." It was clear that he would not take no for an answer on the subject of payment.

"I'd say that there was no need to," Jane said, "but hey! It could well come in handy. Where are you at present?" she asked.

"On the other side of Lawndale, I believe," he said. "To get to your place I just go to where that ugly concrete cranberry is and just follow the route you gave me?"

"That'll do. "I should alert Trent that you're coming over," Jane said.


"My brother the narcoleptic," Jane said. "Just honk when you pull in. That should wake him up. I might still be in the shower when you arrive, so he should be able to let you in."

Unbeknownst to Jane, Rawlings had just turned a shade of light pink. "Well, I had best be on my way," he said. "I'll see you when I get there."

"All right. 'Bye," said Jane and she hung up. So he needs a room, Jane thought. I suppose I had better put off that shower until I get him settled in. She went upstairs to change back into her street clothes and wait for Rawlings to arrive. Soon afterwards she heard a car pull up in the driveway. As she got up and headed for the door, she heard the car's horn beep a couple of times. Smiling she opened the door and went over to the car.

Surprised, Rawlings shut off the engine and got out. "I thought you said that you'd be, uh, still in the shower when I got here," he said.

Jane's eyebrows rose in surprise. Well, seems someone gets a little hot and flustered over that sort of remark, she thought. "No," she said. "I decided that I'd help you get set up in one of the rooms before showering. I might have had to clear out some of the junk in order to get you a room."

Rawlings raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Junk?" he asked.

"Well, you've landed amongst a family of artists of various kinds," Jane said. "My father's a photographer, my mother's a potter, my second sister is an arts and crafts person who's somewhere in Latin America, Trent's a musician in a town garage band. The other two…" She tipped her head back in thought. "Well, I suppose I could say that Wind's an artist in failed marriages, while Summer… well, she does try to raise her children."

Rawlings was amused at her litany of the Lane family's eccentricities. "And you?" he asked.

"I'm a painter and sculptor," Jane said. But I do dabble in other art forms on occasion. Ask Daria, next time you see her."

"If I do, I'll be certain to ask her," Rawlings said. He walked over to the trunk of his Mercedes. Opening it, he took out a leather and canvas valise that had seen a lot of use over the years. However, it was also equally clear that it had been well looked after.

Rawlings put it down and closed the lid of the trunk. "Just let me get my maps and field glasses and I'm all set," he said.

Jane reached over and picked up his valise, raising her eyebrows at its weight. "I'll just bring it inside," she said. Despite Rawlings' protests, she struggled but finally managed to get it over the threshold of the Lane house.

Rawlings shook his head in bemusement. I wonder if she's aware she's acting like the owner of a coaching house? he thought to himself. He reached in and took out his maps and field glasses, closed the door and, using the electronic key, locked it and activated the car alarm. Putting the field glasses case's strap around his neck, he walked into the Lane house.

He stopped in amazement. The room was decorated with all kinds of artworks, from paintings through to photographs and pottery. Some pots bore a marked Latin American influence, while others were in styles that Rawlings had never dreamed existed.

He looked at an abstract painting. "Is this one of yours?" he asked.

"School project," she said.

"Art school?"

Jane shook her head. "No," she said. "High school art project."

Rawlings was amazed. This is a high school project? he thought to himself. Although he wasn't quite an aficionado of modern abstract art, he had seen enough works of modern masters to recognise not only their influences, but also the talent that Jane possessed. "You must be doing quite well at college," he said.

Jane chuckled. "I'm doing reasonably well," she said. "But going to BFAC has taught me just how little I know." She gave the painting that Rawlings was looking at a contemptuous glance. "That's just so… naïve, I suppose." She said. "Definitely the work of a highschooler."

"If you say so," Rawlings said. He walked over to where Jane had placed his valise. Picking it up, he unbuckled the top and folded it back, revealing an internal compartment in the lid. Reaching into it, he opened an internal compartment, took out a square leather map case and placed his maps in it. Then, he replaced the top and buckled it up.

Jane was astonished at that. "I didn't know it had those!" she said. "That's really, really clever!" She looked at Rawlings. "Where'd you get it from?"

Rawlings hesitated for a moment, and then said "There was a merchant in Wilmington, North Carolina, who had these. He brought them in from England." Among other things. "It's a British Army officer's valise."

Jane looked at it. On it there were some faded letters. She tried to read them, but they were too faded for her to be able to read them. "Well, she said, "I suppose we'd better get you set up in a room." She headed for the stairs. "I think I'll put you in Penny's room."

Rawlings slung his map case over one shoulder, picked up his valise and followed her. "Sure she won't mind?" he said.

Jane looked over her shoulder as she climbed the stairs. "Nah," she said. "Last I heard she was in Nicaragua. Helping the comrades, I suppose."

"Doing what?"

Jane shook her head. "Trust me, you don't want to know," she said. The reached the top of the stairs and walked down the hallway until they reached a door with a photograph of a Latin American artwork on it. Opening the door Jane said, "Here's your room. Hope you like it." She stepped aside to let Rawlings in.

Rawlings took three steps in and stopped. The room was decorated with fabrics and artworks from Latin America. In the corner was a sleeping platform that had on it a bright cover that he recognised as coming from Mexico.

He put down his valise and, turning around, took in the room. Reminds me of Mexico, he thought to himself.

"Room OK?" asked Jane.

Rawlings nodded. "It'll do," he said. He walked over to the sleeping platform, put his valise down on it and began to unpack. "We haven't agreed on what I'll be paying you for my stay here," he said as he unpacked.

Jane shrugged. "Well," she said, "we could go down to Food Lord and get some supplies in. We really only have enough food for Trent and myself for the next fortnight. Or we could order in."

Rawlings paused for a moment in his unpacking. Jane saw that he had laid out his gear in what looked like a very military manner. He then bent over, picked up his toiletries container and moved to lay them out on the surface of a dresser, one of the few pieces of normal furniture in the room. "We go and lay in some provisions," he said. "I'll pay for them as part of my rental arrangements."

Jane nodded. "Let me know when you're ready," she said. "I'll be in the living room." She went out of the room, leaving Rawlings to finish putting his gear away. After a while, Rawlings came down the stairs and found Jane sitting in front of the television.

From out of the speakers came what Rawlings thought at first was a news report. "Today, Lawndale, Maryland is playing host to one of the largest gathering of UFO enthusiasts ever held," said the newsreader. "Sick, Sad World reporter Mary Tate filed this exclusive report on UFOCon 2004."

Jane looked up as Rawlings came over. Picking up the remote, she pointed it at the TV and switched it off. "Settled in, then?" she asked.

Rawlings nodded. He began to say, "I suppose we had better go and…" when all of a sudden, the house shook to the sound of a power chord. As the house stopped shaking, Rawlins looked around and asked, "What in tarnation is that?"

Jane got up and smirked. "Oh, that's just Trent, my brother," she said. "He's probably in the basement practising on his guitar." Another outburst of sound shook the house again.

"Does he do this often?" Rawlings asked.

"Not too often," Jane said. "He only does this when he's at home and awake. Which is not most of the time anyway."

Rawlings could see that Jane was rather blasé about the whole thing. He briefly reconsidered his acceptance of Jane's offer of a room, and then shook his head as if clearing it. "Shall we go and get our provisions?" he said, heading for the door.

"Ok," said Jane. They got out of the doorway before the strains of what, to Rawlings' ears sounded like a song started emerging from the basement. He unlocked the Mercedes, opened the passenger-side door for Jane, who got in, closed it, hurried around to the drivers' side door, got in, started the car and backed it out of the driveway.

"So, how do we get to Food Lord?" Rawlings asked.


As Daria let herself in at the Morgendorffer household, she could hear the sounds of an argument coming from the kitchen. Oh, goody, she thought. It sounds like Aunt Rita's arrived.

She looked into the living room. There was no sign of her father, or of Quinn. Moving quietly through the room, Daria then looked in through the entrance to the kitchen, making sure that she wouldn't be spotted. Sure enough, both her mother and her Aunt Rita were involved in an argument over some aspect of their past. Sighing to herself, she decided that the best thing to do would be to try and sneak up the stairs to her old room, ring Jane, pack a bag and then sneak back down the stairs. Unfortunately for her, she was spotted.

"Well, Daria!" said her mother. "Come here and say hello to your Aunt Rita."

Smothering a sigh, she walked up to the kitchen table. "Hello, Aunt Rita," she said.

Rita gave her a look. "Hello, Daria," she said. "How's Boston?"

"Full of beans," she said. "Hasn't really changed all that much in twelve months." As she turned to her mother, she made a decision about Jane's suggestion. "Mom, I probably won't be around as much this summer as I was last year," she said. "In fact, I'm probably going to be pretty busy with Jane."

Helen Morgendorffer raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Oh?" she said. "And may I ask just what you are going to be doing that will keep you so busy with Jane? Watching TV over at her place, no doubt."

"Actually, Mom," said Daria, "Jane and I will be doing some research into local history."

"Oh? Really?" said Helen. "And what prompted this sudden interest in Lawndale history, when you never showed any interest in it in the past?"

Sighing to herself, Daria sat down at the table. "Jane and I met this guy in the diner on the village green square in the centre of town," she said. "He's from Virginia, and he's doing some research into an ancestor of his who passed through the area with the Confederate Army in 1862."

"Very interesting," said Helen. "But it doesn't explain the sudden interest in Lawndale history. Why, the place didn't even exist until fairly recently!"

"Well, he has maps that his ancestor carried on him," Daria replied. "We looked at them over lunch and…"

"Now Daria, I know that you're an adult now, but didn't it cross your mind that having lunch with a strange man might be somewhat risky?" Helen said.

"I have lunch with strange men all the time at Raft," Daria replied. "Usually those are my classmates. And after a few lunches together, they cease being strange in the strangers' sense of the word. It doesn't mean that they're not strange, though."

"Very witty, Daria. But what do you know about this man. In fact, how did you and Jane end up having lunch with him in the first place."

"Believe it or not, we sort of rescued him from a peroxided waitress in the diner," Daria said. "He told us what he was doing in Lawndale, and Jane and I gave him some pointers about where to look for information, such as it is, on this place," Daria replied. "He took us to Cranberry Commons, bought a local map, and then bought us lunch." Daria gave Helen an exasperated look. "Don't worry, mom," she said. "Jane and I were perfectly safe. We both sat in the back of his car, and I had my pepper spray in my jacket. Richard Rawlings was a perfect gentleman all the time."

"Wait a minute," said Rita. "Did you say his name was Rawlings?"

"Yes, Aunt Rita," Daria replied. She frowned. "Is that important?"

"Where did he say he was from?" asked Rita.

Daria frowned in concentration. "A place called Mount Folly in Virginia," she said. "He says it's his family home."

Rita looked at Helen. "It seems my niece has met a member of Virginia's tidewater aristocracy," she said.

Helen's eyebrows rose. "Really?" she said. Then they narrowed when the rest of what her sister had said registered.

"Yes." She turned to Daria. Was his name Richard John Rawlings?" she asked.

Daria was surprised at Rita's question. "Yes," she said.

Rita turned back to Helen. "He recently purchased the Mount Folly property for an undisclosed sum," she said. "It had been in his family for years, but some relative lost it several years ago. I heard about it through some of Mother's society friends, as well as through the real estate grapevine."

Helen said," But how could you be sure that it's the same man? I mean, this person could have heard about it through the news!"

"Because this was not released to the news services," Rita said. "He was most insistent that the deal remain quiet. He also bought back several neighbouring properties and had them reattached to the main house."

"Why, whatever for?" Helen asked.

"Believe it or not, Helen," Rita said, "heritage farming."

"Heritage what?"

"I've heard of that," said Daria. "They basically grow what are called heritage crops so that the varieties don't die out. It keeps the gene pool of our major food crops, as well as animals, viable. Some of the big genetics companies tend to pay quite well for samples of heritage seeds, since they may have some properties to resist some kinds of disease, or better abilities in adverse weather conditions, than many modern crops." She looked at her mother and aunt. "He did say something about several other properties throughout the South," she said.

"Well," said Helen, "perhaps you should bring him around so that we could meet him, if he's such a fine young man."

"Well, considering he was off to look for a motel room here in Lawndale," Daria said, "I somehow suspect I won't be seeing him again. Anyway, what he said about his family research got me thinking about doing some research into the Confederate Army being in the area, with an eye for a short story." Daria got up. "Well, in any case, I'd better go and have a shower and talk to Jane about tomorrow's activities." She turned around and walked out of the kitchen, and climbed the stairs.


As Daria walked past Quinn's room she heard the door open. Turning around she saw the head of her sister poking out through the partially opened doorway.

Quinn saw her. "The shouting's stopped," she said. "They haven't killed each other, have they?"

Daria, despite herself, gave Quinn a small smile. "No, Quinn, they haven't," she said. "I suspect Mom's mulling over some information she got from me and Aunt Rita."

"Oh?" said Quinn. "This aught to be good. What is it?"

"It's about a guy Jane and I had lunch with today, and who I suspect I'll never see again," Daria said. She walked down the corridor, with Quinn following. "However, he may have given me a bit of an out in regards to the Battling Barksdales versus the Manic Morgendorffers when Amy and Grandmas Barksdale and Morgendorffer arrive for Mom's 'Bonding With My Daughters Before They Both Head Off To College' scheme she has planned for us." She paused outside the door leading to her old room.

"Oh?" said Quinn. "What kind of 'out' is this?"

"Research for a possible short story," Daria said. She opened the door and walked in, with Quinn following.

Daria looked around the room. As soon as she had shifted out of home her parents had gutted the old padded cell. It now looked like a guest room. They had even taken out the scarred panelling inside the closet, replacing it with new timber. Luckily, Daria had taken rubbings of the violent poetry the room's previous tenant had carved into the closet's walls. But then, this isn't where I belong, now, she thought. That's up in Boston, in the apartment in that old Victorian-period townhouse I'm sharing with Jane. She sat down on the bed. Quinn went over to the desk, pulled out the chair and sat down in it.

"So, what gave you the idea about researching a short story here?" Quinn derisively said. She waived one hand above her head indicating the general area of Lawndale.

"This guy I was talking about? Seems he's following the path of an ancestor who was in the Confederate Army when it came up this way in 1862. Jane suggested that I might research some of this myself as a prelude to doing a story centred on their being in the Frederick-Lawndale area. Only this wasn't Lawndale back then."

"Oh?" said Quinn. "What was this dump called then?" Despite herself, Daria smiled. Since a student from Bromwell University had tutored her over two summers ago, Quinn had gained more of an interest in 'brainy things', which had led her to not only improve her grades by a great deal, but led her to what may well turn out to be her calling in life. This was something that Daria had every intention of encouraging as an end in itself, and not simply as a means to enable her and Quinn to avoid the kind of adult relationship their lawyer mother had with her sisters.

"Back then, this was called Sloane's Crossroads," she said. "Which isn't all that surprising when I think about it."

"Figures," said Quinn. "Does this mean that you'll be calling Tom Sloane to see if his family has any information about that time?"

Daria frowned at that question. "Not if I can help it," she said. "Although Tom and I parted fairly amicably, I'd still feel a bit uncomfortable in dealing with his family. I'd rather explore some other avenues first before calling on Tom or his family. Though, mind you, I'd rather deal with Tom than his parents."

Quinn nodded. "I suppose I can understand that," she said. "Hey!" she said. "Do you mind if I used something like that to help me get out of the house?"

The question took Daria aback. "I can understand why, but wouldn't that arouse Mom's suspicions?" she asked.

"Not really," Quinn said. " I have been doing much better in school. Besides, I do need to brush up on some of my basic research skills for college. And it's not as if I could do any work in this house. Not with Mom and Aunt Rita screeching at one another. And I'm not looking forward to Grandma Barksdale and Grandma Morgendorffer being in the same place." She shrugged. "So what if I'm looking for an out? All I have to do is make a plausible excuse."

"Couldn't you go round to Stacy's house, or any of the other ex-Fashion club members'?" Daria asked.

Quinn shook her head. "They've all gone away on holidays," Quinn said. "It leaves me just staying here suffering the psychic torment of being caught in a war zone between the Barksdale and Morgendorffer women of the older generation." She gave Daria a pleading look

Daria considered what Quinn had said earlier. "Well," she said, "I suppose I could run it past Jane. See what she thinks of it."

"Great! Thanks, sis!" said Quinn. A look of sudden realisation came across her face. "Do you know if she's been studying Renaissance painting techniques?" she asked.

That question took Daria by surprise. "I could ask, but why?" she said.

"Well you know I've been looking at studying materials conservation focussing on historical clothes?" Quinn asked. Daria nodded. "Well, I've been buying some interesting books on costuming online, as well as looking at some interesting sites on reconstructing historical costumes."

"I suppose I can see why the books on costume, but the techniques?" Daria said.

"It's something one of the V and A people told me," Quinn said. "One very good way to understand the costumes people wore in the past is to actually study how they were made. That not only includes techniques, but materials as well." She gave Daria a smile that resembled the one her sister normally used. "Now, while I can't really afford proper bullion threads," she said, "there are some acceptable substitutes available that at least enable me to get some of the techniques right."

Daria was thunderstruck. "You mean you've been studying how to make historical costumes?" she said.

Quinn nodded. "Both Stacy and myself," she said. "Just a minute." She got up and left the room, returning a couple of minutes later with two books. "Here's a couple of my source materials," she said, putting them down on the bed next to Daria. She then went and sat back down in the chair.

Daria picked up the top one. "The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing sixteenth-century dress." She opened it up and went to the inside of the back cover. She read about the authors. "This is pretty impressive." She put it down and picked up the other book Quinn had brought in. "Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620."

"There's two more in that series," Quinn said. "I've got them both, as well as folders of stuff I've downloaded from the Internet and burned to CD as well as printing off and binding."

Daria turned a wondering look onto her kid sister. "I have to say I'm impressed, Quinn," she said. "But why the question on Renaissance painting?"

"Well, although I know that Jane's as much a genius in painting as you are in writing, not to mention general academic studies," Quinn said, "I suspect that she may not have done much painting regarding draped figures before going to BFAC, despite anything she did in high school." She leaned on the back of the chair. "In my studies in costuming I found out that many of the artists of the renaissance period had some familiarity with costume. They needed it in order to be able to do portraits of the rich and powerful, especially of their clothes. So I figure that in return for shelter from the upcoming family fireworks display here, I could show Jane some of the techniques I've been working on. It might help her at art college."

Daria was amazed. Apparently Quinn had acquired even more depth than she had assumed. "I'll run it past her," she said. "She may just be interested in what you're doing just for the sheer interest value in it."

"Good!" said Quinn. "Tell her I'll bring over some stuff I'm working on, plus some samples I've gotten from some suppliers online for her to look at." She gave Daria a wicked look. "Do you think if I throw in a copy of the exhibition catalogue from the V and A display I was at would help sweeten the deal?"

"Would it?" Daria said. "I most definitely think so!" She looked at Quinn. "How many copies have you got?"

"One for me, one for Stacy, and several others," Quinn replied. "I was looking at giving you one before we all went up to Boston."

"So you're definitely coming up to Boston?" Daria asked.

Quinn nodded. "I'm starting at Boston University in the fall," she said. "So's Stacy." She grinned at Daria. "But that's not the best bit."

"Oh? What is the best bit?"

Quinn's grin grew even wider. "The V and A people have managed to get Stacy and me scholarships to study materials conservation and historical costume there," she said, "plus summer internships at the Smithsonian next year." She buffed her nails and looked at them. "Seems we impressed them this year."

"Boy, I'll say!" Daria said. She cocked her head and looked at her younger sibling. "How do you do it, Quinn?" she asked.

"Do what?"

"Have things like that happen to you," Daria replied. "The whole V and A thing. I know that you worked hard to be able to get into Boston, but still... Having something like this just fall into your lap..." She shook her head.

Quinn frowned for a moment, and then realised what her sister was trying not to say. "Daria," she said, "you're jealous, aren't you?"

Daria blushed at that question. "Envious is more like it," she said. "One of my fellow students at Raft once said to me that the best thing that could happen is that we wind up getting paid doing something that we really love. I hope that will still happen to me, but you... You look as though that is going to happen to you... And yes, that makes me jealous." She looked at Quinn. "But I'm also happy for you. Make any sense?"

Quinn thought about it for a moment, and then nodded. "Yeah," she said. "It does in a weird sort of way." She looked at Daria. "We seem to be making good progress in not turning out like Mom and her sisters, aren't we?"

Daria nodded. "I'd have to say so," she said. "Despite such a conclusion being at variance with my chosen philosophy." She cocked her head at Quinn. "I understand about you managing to get into Boston," she said, "but how did Stacy manager that feat?"

Quinn game a Mona Lisa smile so much like Daria's. "I helped her get her grades up," she said. "It took a lot of work, but ever since the Fashion Club folded she and I had enough time on our hands to be able to do that." Quinn was quite evidently proud of what she had achieved in the past two years, something that did not go unnoticed.

"And what about the other two?" Daria said. "Sandy and Tiffney?"

"Sandy's going to Lawndale Community College," Quinn said. "She's doing some lead-in courses to help her get into college. Tiffney's doing a beautician's course there as well."

"Well, I have to say that I'm damned impressed with you, sis," Daria said. She looked at the clock.. "Hmm," she said. "Sick, Sad World's just about to start," she said. "I wonder if it's reruns?" She switched on her old TV.

Quinn shook her head. "Well, you watch your show. I'm going down to my workshop in the basement and take advantage of the peace and quiet for a while."

That statement took Daria by surprise. "Since when do you have a workshop in the basement?" she asked.

"Since I got really interested in historical costuming techniques," Quinn said. "Daddy helped me to fix it up. It's the only really unused space in the house. I've got a cutting table and workbench down there. I've even got storage area for what materials I have."

Daria shook her head in astonishment. Then, something on the TV caught her attention. As soon as she realised what the show was about, she groaned and hid her face in her hands.

"What is it?" asked Quinn. She stepped in front of the TV. On it she saw a young man in his early twenties, who had a geeky air about him, which was emphasised by his acne problem. The man was talking about being abducted by aliens and his encounter with two skin-stealing alien love goddesses in the Lawndale area. "Is that...?" she began.

Daria nodded. "Yes," she said. "It's the same idiot who works for Pizza King who decided that Jane and I were alien love goddesses." She looked over at the telephone. "I'd better ring Jane and let her know about this new complication in our lives. She probably knows, but I feel like venting with someone who knows what this is going to do to us. Makes for a good mutual support group." She looked at Quinn. "I'll also ask her about the other thing, I promise."

"Ok. Thanks, Daria." With that, Quinn walked out of Daria's old room. Just as she walked through the door, the sounds of people talking in tense, loud tones came up the hallway.

Quinn flinched. "Sounds like Grandma Morgendorffer's just arrived," she said. She turned to Daria. "Make that call real quick, please," she said. "I don't think I'm going to be able to stand much more of this."

"On it." Daria picked up the telephone and rang the Lane residence. After a while, she hung up. "She must be out," she said. "I'll call her cell phone." She quickly entered Jane's cell phone number.

After a few rings, Jane picked up. "Yello," she said.

"Out on the town, are you, Jane?" Daria said.

"You could say that, amiga, she said. "I'm out getting groceries."

"Very perceptive of you," Daria said. "Look, about what we discussed earlier? It looks as though you will have a couple of refugees coming over sometime soon."

"You and Quinn, eh?" Jane said. "Yeesh, it must be bad if the both of you are bailing so soon."

"Well, Mom and Aunt Rita were involved in one of their little discussions when I walked in," Daria replied. "Quinn's been putting up with it for most of the day and is seeking refuge at Casa Lane as well, at least from the worst part of the familial pyrotechnics."

"Well, OK. Just bring what you need. If you can both throw a few bucks into the food fund it would be appreciated." She paused for a moment.

Daria was wondering why Jane had stopped speaking and was about to ask when Jane came back on. "You run the project we were talking about past Helen?" she asked.

"Yes, and I got cross-examined," Daria said. Found out some interesting things too."

"Well, guess who called me because he couldn't get a room?" Jane said.

"You're kidding," Daria said.

"No I'm not," Jane replied. "Seems every available room is booked up because of some UFO convention. Saw a bit about it on Sick, Sad World before we went grocery shopping."

"That's the other thing I wanted to warn you about," Daria said. "I caught a bit of it myself. Guess who they were interviewing when I turned it on?"

"Hmmm. Surprise me."

"Artie," Daria said. "He was going on about..."

"Lemme guess... the alien sex goddess thing, huh?" Jane said. "So you think we could be targeted for 'surveillance', eh?"

"Probably." Daria came to a decision. "Look, "she said. "Me and Quinn will meet you at your place this evening. We'll pack overnight bags and try and sneak out. Quinn will be bringing some of her work over. You might be interested in it. Oh, and she's got a copy of the V and A exhibit catalogue for you. Will that be enough to buy her entry?"

"Would it? It most definitely would," replied Jane. So I'll be seeing you sometime this evening then."

"Most definitely," Daria said. "You and I will be sharing your old room no doubt."

"Yep. I'll see if I can get one of the other rooms ready for Quinnie. See you."

"See you this evening. 'Bye." Daria hung up. "It's all arranged," she told Quinn. You're coming with me to Jane's. Be sure to pack lightly and bring only those things you really need."

"Oh, I can do that," Quinn said. "I'll bring over a couple of my folders and this," she said, indicating The Tudor Tailor. "I got rid of a lot of my old clothes over the past year. I'll just bring a couple of changes of clothes. I suppose we could use the washer over there."

"Correct. I'll start to pack my gear and prepare a letter explaining where we've gone," Daria said. "I suppose I had also better look for an alternative route out of here."

"I'll go down and get some things from my workshop," Quinn said. "At the same time I'll scout out the situation downstairs. We could always lower our bags out my window and climb down the trellis if need be."

Suffice it to say that they both managed to get out of the Morgendorffer house undetected. When Helen came up to bring them both down, she found the following letter on Daria's bed:


Decided to get an early start on the project I'm working on. So I'm staying at Jane's for the moment, at least until the hostilities here have ceased. Quinn is with me as well. We'll be back for the family dinner you intend to have but will not be taking part in the family discussion that will inevitably erupt.

Both your loving daughters.


As Daria and Quinn walked towards the Lane residence, Daria said, "Quinn, I'm genuinely impressed. You have packed lightly. Well, light for what you usually take with you on trips."

Quinn rolled her eyes. "You mean the trip up the mountains, don't you?" she said. "I'm never going to do that again." She didn't say what that was, but Daria understood what she meant.

Quinn indicated one of the two bags she was carrying. "This has got a fair bit of my workroom stuff in it," she said. "Especially some of the projects I've got going involving some decorative techniques."

Daria raised her eyebrows. "Indeed," she said. "Jane may well want to watch you do that. Hell, she may even do a sketch of you doing that for a painting."

"I'm OK with her doing that," Quinn responded. "But if she wants to turn it into a painting I'm going to have to tell her what I should be wearing in it. That is, if she wants to make it look as though it is in the Sixteenth Century."

Daria looked at her sister. "And what should you be wearing in it?" she asked. "Fine gowns?"

"Only if I'm embroidering a sampler or something similar," Quinn said. "Most of this work was done by craftsmen and women. Some would be well dressed, but the majority would be wearing plain, but good clothes. They only wore anything fancy for Sunday church." Daria's estimate of her sister's new depth rose several notches as she heard Quinn make her explanation. "On a related note," Quinn continued, "do you know the origins of the Puritan clothing stereotype?"

Again, Daria was taken aback by her sister's new intellectual depths. "Never really thought about it," she said. "Why?"

"Most illustrations we have of Puritans, especially the rich and important ones," Quinn said, "are actually wearing their Sunday best. And the reason they wear black is because black dyed cloth was quite expensive. Sure they look plainly dressed, but they are usually wearing a fine linen shirt, a minimum of lace if they could afford it, and good quality cloth dyed in one of the most expensive dyes around. Normally they would wear the same clothes as everyone else, except perhaps just a bit plainer than their peers."

"Wow. Quinn, you have astounded me," Daria said. "And you learned all of this from researching clothes?"

"Yeah. The basic social rules concerning clothes are pretty much the same for any period, even in spite of sumptuary laws," Quinn said. "If you could afford it, you wore it, just to show how wealthy you are. Fashion is just another way of expressing that."

"I'll have to keep that in mind," Daria said. The walked on a bit further. "There's something else I'll have to tell you, Quinn," she said.

"Oh? What is it?"

"Remember that guy I mentioned? The one Jane and I ran into who's following an family member's path?" Quinn nodded. "Well, it appears that the UFO convention has booked every room in town solid. So he took up an offer Jane made to him of a room at her place."

"Why did Jane say that?" Quinn said. "I mean, you've only just met the guy!"

"Personally I think it's her hormones plus her poor impulse control," Daria said. "But I do have to admit, he is cute-looking."

Quinn halted. "I must be hearing things," she said. "You admitting that a guy is cute?" She gave her older sister a wicked smile. "Perhaps there is hope for you after all!" she said.

Daria blushed at Quinn's statement. "Oh, bite me," she said. She kept on walking.

Quinn hurried to catch up. "You'll probably have to bring him over for Mom and Dad to meet," she said, her evil smile growing even wider as she spoke. "But preferably after the rest of the relatives have left, so that he doesn't know just how weird a family we have."

Daria, her face bright red, shot Quinn a murderous glare. "I will not be doing any such thing," she growled. "Besides, I mentioned him so that you wouldn't be surprised when you saw him. Plus..." Her voice trailed off.

"Plus what?" Quinn asked.

Daria sighed and stopped. "I didn't want you falling for him in a big way," she said. "He's handsome, quite intelligent, well-educated, charming..." Rich, "and a perfect gentleman."

Quinn was stunned. "Wow!" she said. "But why don't you want me falling for him?" she asked.

Daria signed again. "I remember how hurt you were after David Sorenson blew you off," she said. "Plus, he's only going to be in the area for a short while. Then he'll be going back to his home in Virginia."

"He's from Virginia?" But that's just across the border!" Quinn said.

"Not the part of Virginia he's from," Daria said. "Charles City County. It's not far from Williamsburg."

"Good God!" Quinn said. "So he's from one of the First Families of Virginia?"

"He didn't say that," Daria said. "But he is quite well off. Plus, I suspect he's a good deal older than he looks."

"What? He's had plastic surgery?" Quinn said.

Daria considered this. "No, I don't think he has," she said. "He looks to be in his mid-twenties. But I think he could be in his thirties."

Quinn shrugged. "Oh well," she said. "I was looking forward to meeting some nice boy in Boston anyway," she said. The two continued walking.

Quinn's evil smile returned. "But he sounds just right for..." she began.

"Finish that sentence," Daria said, "and you'll find out the meaning of the term fratricide."


Approaching Casa Lane both Daria and Quinn saw, parked in the driveway, a late-model Mercedes Benz car. "Looks like they've gotten back from their grocery run," Daria said.

Quinn said nothing. She was looking at the car. "This guy is better than 'well-off'," she said. "That's a seriously-expensive car."

Daria shrugged. "It doesn't seem to be an issue with him," she said. They walked up to the front door.

Daria rang the doorbell. "Hopefully somebody'll be able to let us in," she said. After a few minutes the door opened.

"Hi," said Jane. " Come on in. The war zone refugee centre is just about ready," she said.

Daria and Quinn stepped in. "Thanks for having me over, Jane," she said. "You have no idea how much I appreciate this."

Jane raised an eyebrow. "I think I can get an idea," she said. She looked at Daria. "How bad is it?" she said.

"Well, Grandma Morgendorffer had arrived when I rang you," Daria said. "From what I had heard when I got in it seems that Mom and Rita were at it for some time before."

Quinn shuddered. "It was bad," she said. "I couldn't do any work in my workshop in the basement."

"I'd have thought you would have been pretty safe there," Jane said.

"Unfortunately sound travels down a lot better than it travels up," Quinn said. She looked around. "So where am I staying?" she asked.

"I've got Trent, the band and my other house guest shifting stuff out of Wind's old room," she said. "I'll have to have guests over more often: seems to be the only way we can get some tidying-up done."

"So Rawlings is helping?" Daria said. "Interesting."

"He insisted," Jane said. "And remember, he also insisted on his first name. Richard," she continued.

"Hmm," said Quinn. "Daria's already told me a bit about him. A Virginia tidewater aristocrat, eh?"

Jane shot Quinn a look. "And you are not going to try and charm him, capeech?" she said.

Quinn rolled her eyes. "I didn't have any intention of doing that, Jane," she said. "Besides, I'm looking forward to meeting all of the cute guys in college. Boston's sure to have plenty."

"Glad to hear it," Jane said. Just at that moment Rawlings came down the stairs. He was carrying a box filled with bags of some substance that neither Daria or Quinn could identify. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, revealing a large scar on his right forearm. At sometime in the past it had been gashed open, but it had also been quite skilfully sewn up.

"Where do you want these, Jane," he said. At the sound of his voice Quinn's eyebrows rose. She looked at him and a moonstruck expression came across her features.

Uh Oh, thought Daria. Quinn has just seen what I was talking about.

Jane, however, hadn't seen this. She had turned around when Rawlings spoke and had moved over to look in the box he was carrying.

"Just go and put them in the fallout shelter," Jane said. "It looks like some of Mom's pottery supplies so they should fit in there." She looked up the stairs. "Is there any more?" she asked.

Rawlings shook his head. "No, this is the last of it," he said. "Trent's got the, uh vacuum cleaner going up there taking care of any dust." Jane said nothing but nodded.

Rawlings' stumble over the term vacuum cleaner hadn't gone unnoticed by Daria. Strange, she thought. He doesn't seem to be all that familiar with modern housecleaning equipment. Yet he drives a car.

Rawlings looked over and saw Daria and Quinn. "Evening," he said, giving a sharp nod of his head before exiting out of the room.

As Rawlings headed out of the room Jane noticed the look on Quinn's face. She gave a slight frown and then came over and stood in front of Quinn. "Ground Control to Space Cadet Morgendorffer," she said. She snapped her fingers in front of Quinn.

Quinn shook her head. "Uh, what?" she said. "What happened?"

Daria smirked. "Looks like you were smitten with a certain Virginian gentleman," she said. She looked at Jane, who was giving Quinn a look of bemused irritation.

"Just remember," Jane said, "he's a guest in my house. Also remember that you said that you wouldn't go chasing him."

Quinn gave Jane a bemused look. "Really, Jane," she said. "I really don't know him at all, so how can I go chasing him?" She looked at the doorway that Rawlings had gone through. "But he is pretty cute," she said.

Jane turned a bemused look on Daria. "You're not the only Morgendorffer to think that," she said.

Daria gave Jane a death stare. "I hate you," she said. Jane said nothing, but smirked in reply. She looked up the stairs.

"Well," she said, "I had better get you settled in. Daria, you know where my room is," she continued. A wicked smirk came across her face. "Or, better yet, you know where..."

"Finish that sentence, Lane and you'll be seeing just how well that bridesmaid's dress will fit you," Daria growled. Jane said nothing but smirked at Quinn, who smirked back. Shooting daggers at the pair of them, Daria growled, then picked up her bag and stomped up the stairs.

Quinn followed. "Boy," she said, shaking her head. "She must have it bad to be reacting like that." She looked at Jane. "And I suspect that you may also have something going for him."

Jane shot Quinn a glare. "Oh?" she said. "And what makes you think that?"

Quinn started ticking off points on her fingers. "Well," she began, "there's the fact that you meet this cute stranger and, on first acquaintances, offer him a room in your house. Then, when he does accept your offer, you go all out to clean up the place, something I have never heard of happening in all the years I've been familiar with Casa Lane. Then, there's the fact that you are ragging Daria over whatever attraction she may have towards him. Finally, you warn me off before I've even met him." She smirked at Jane. "Am I wrong?"

Jane attempted to glare at Quinn but found it difficult to maintain. She began to chuckle. "Boy, you sure have my number!" she replied. She shook her head. "I suppose I'd better see if Trent's finished cleaning your room." She looked at the two bags Quinn had. "I see you've packed light."

Quinn rolled her eyes. "This," she said, indicating a large overnight bag, "has got my clothing and toiletries. This," she continued, indicating a large duffel bag, "has got some of my costuming stuff."

Jane raised her eyebrows. "What did you bring with you?" she asked.

"Some source materials, as well as some cloth samples and some projects I've been working on. I've got a couple of embroidery hoops and a small table frame. Unfortunately I couldn't get to my big standing frame, which is a pity because there's something on it I'm sure you'd want to look at on it."

"What is it you're working on?" Jane asked. She was getting intrigued by what Quinn was telling her.

"Are you familiar with that portrait of Queen Elizabeth the First as a thirteen-year old girl?" Quinn asked.


"I think I've got a picture here," Quinn said. She opened a side pocket on her work bag and rifled around in it before drawing out a folder. She leafed through it until she found what she was looking for. "Here," she said, handing Jane the folder.

Jane found herself looking at a painting of a young girl in a mid-Tudor period costume, lavishly decorated with what appeared to be gold embroidery. "Yeah, I've seen it before," she said. She looked at Quinn. "You're not working on this, are you?" she said.

Quinn shook her head. "No," she replied. "Just on the decoration on her sleeves." She indicated the gauzy material that had the embroidery on it.

"Cool," Jane said. "I've always wondered how they did this."

"Basically you get a thin wire or rod, baste it to the material..."

"'Baste'? I thought it was something you did to turkeys or roasts," Jane said.

"In this connection, it's a term used for a temporary stitch," Quinn said. "Anyway, you baste it to the material, then you take a metallic thread and you work it over the rod. When you've finished, you remove the rod, attach it next to the completed row and start again. Once the area you're doing this on is filled in, you then take either a very fine knife or scissors and you cut through the loops, leaving this effect."

Jane was amazed. "And you're doing this?" she said.

"Yeah," said Quinn. "However, because of the nature of the work it can only be done on a standing frame. Which is back at home in my workroom." She sighed. "And I really don't want to go and face Mom after we ran out on her tonight."

Jane gave Quinn a sympathetic look: something that was rare for her to do. "It's that bad, huh?" she asked.

Quinn nodded. "We had to sneak out through the front door after we had lowered our bags out of one of my windows," she said. "Then we had to sneak around and get them before high-tailing out of there for here. I know Daria left a note, but with the way things are over there..." She gave Jane a look. "Personally, I'd be expecting a 'phone call sometime..." Just then, the telephone rang. "Bingo," said Quinn.

Jane looked at the ringing phone. It was quite clear that she didn't want to answer it. Eventually, she sighed. "I suppose I had better answer it," she said. "I don't think it'd be a good idea for your mom to come over here just now." She went over and picked it up. "Hello?" she said.

On the other end Helen Morgendorffer replied. "Hello, Jane," she said. "I gather that my errant daughters are over at your house?"

Jane winced. Boy, she really sounds pissed, she thought. "Yes, they are, Mrs. Morgendorffer," she said. "Apparently things are a bit tense over your way, or so they tell me."

"Well, I would like them to come back home right now," Helen said. "Both of their grandmothers have arrived, as well as both of their aunts."

"Gee, Mrs. Morgendorffer. "I'll pass on the message, but things are a little hectic right now," Jane replied. "We're clear..."

"Jane, I don't care just how hectic things may be," Helen retorted. "Their grandparents and aunts are here, and I want them here now!"

"Ok, Ok! I'll give them the message!" She winced as Helen hung up. Then, after replacing the handset, she looked at Quinn. "Your mother's pretty pissed," she said.

"Probably because Grandma Morgendorffer and my Aunt Rita have probably gotten onto her case about us high-tailing it out of there," Quinn said.

"Well, things must have gotten worse, because she said that your other grandmother plus Amy have shown up," Jane said.

Quinn hid her head in her hands. "Oh, god!" she said. "I really, really like Amy," she continued, "but sometimes I just wonder how is it possible that such an intelligent woman can be so stupid when it comes to her family."

"Something the matter?" Daria said. She had just come down the stairs and had caught the last piece of the conversation.

Jane looked at Daria. "Your mom just called," she said. "She wants the pair of you back right now. And boy, did she sound pissed!"

Daria's face hardened. She folded her arms. "I'll go back for the family dinner," she said, "but I won't stay there while they are fighting." She looked at Quinn. "Quinn and I are trying to avoid that in our adult relationship." She looked back at Jane. "Besides, I'm now legally an adult, and if I don't miss my guess, so is Quinn."

"Well, the way she was talking I wouldn't be surprised if she turned up here in force," said Jane. "And then things would get really ugly."

"Perhaps I might be able to offer some assistance?" came a soft voice. The three young women turned around to see Rawlings leaning against the door frame. "I apologise for eavesdropping," he said, "but I could not help but overhear."

Daria's eyes narrowed slightly. "I don't know if you'll be able to offer something constructive," she said, "but at this stage I'm willing to listen to anything that might help."

Rawlings shoved himself upright. "You have to understand," he said, "that it's very hard for parents, especially mothers, to let go of their children. Especially if those children are daughters." He gave a small smile. "It was very hard for my mother to let me go, first, when I went to boarding school in the North, and second, when I went to VMI and later into the Army." He folded his arms. "Even though you may be adults, " he said, "to your mother you'll always remain her little girls, to be loved, cherished and, strange as it may sound, protected."

As Rawlings spoke Quinn got her first good look at the tall, aristocratic Southerner. Her initial impressions were confirmed. Definitely cute, she thought to herself, even mussed up like this. But Daria's right, he is older than he looks.

Something else pulled at Quinn's consciousness, something she couldn't put her finger on at first. Then, she gasped to herself. Those eyes! she thought. Those have got to be the oldest-looking eyes I have ever seen! She remained fixed on Rawlings' eyes.

Daria looked down at her folded arms. "I have to admit you have some good points," she said. "Very good points." She looked up. "But, as you said, my sister and I are adults. We would both like to be treated as adults, especially by our relatives. How do you suggest we go about achieving that?" she added. It was a challenge, and everyone in the room knew it.

Rawlings didn't quail. He returned Daria's challenging look with a level gaze of his own. "I would suggest that, in order to get them to treat you an adult," he quietly said, "you first start acting like an adult. And when you do, make it plain that you deserve the respect that adults give one another. And that if they want your respect, they will have to earn it by being adult themselves." He leaned back against the door frame. "From what I gather your family tends to engage in some rather 'unadult-like' behaviour?" He gave a faint smile.

Daria returned it with one of her own. "Yet more good points," she said. "So how do you suggest we go about doing what you suggest?"

"Well, going back to your parent's house would be a good start," he said. "You don't have to take your bags, though. Just walk in and demand to be heard, but do so in an adult-like manner." His smile grew a fraction wider. "If you like, I can come with you. Sometimes a having an outsider at this sort of thing does make the participants improve their conduct."

Daria considered the idea. "Interesting notion," she said. "But I don't know how mom will handle your being there. She may not act as you expect: after all, she is a lawyer."

Rawlings' smile grew wider. "Leave that to me," he said. "I've had to deal with lawyers in the past."

"I'm also not too sure just how my grandmothers will react to your being there," Daria said. "Nor my aunts."

Quinn spoke. "Oh, Daria!" she said. "Really! Didn't you say that your mentioning him... Just what is your name anyway?" she said, looking at Rawlings.

"It seems we have all been remiss with our introductions." Rawlings came over and, taking Quinn's hand, bowed over it. "Richard John Rawlings, of Mount Folly, Virginia," he said.

A faint blush crept up Quinn's face. "Quinn Morgendorffer," she said. She recovered her hand. "I'm Daria's sister."

"Charmed, I'm sure," Rawlings said.

Quinn's blush grew deeper. "Thank you," she said. She then turned to Daria, who was sharing a smirk with Jane. "As I was saying," she said, "didn't you tell me that mentioning Richard's name to Mom and Aunt Rita quietened things down? And since he is Virginian aristocracy, he's sure to make a big impression on Grandma Barksdale!"

Daria considered Quinn's words. "You may have a point there, sis," she said. "A very good point! Aunt Rita did say she had heard about Richard through Grandma Barksdale's society friends." She looked at Rawlings, who had a somewhat inscrutable look on his face. In reality, he was deep in thought, mulling over what Quinn had said.

He noticed Daria looking at him and shook himself. "Excuse me," he said. "I was just thinking over something your sister just said." He looked at both Morgendorffers. "Did you say that your mother's maiden name was Barksdale?"

Quinn nodded. "Helen Barksdale," she said. "The family apparently has land around Columbus, Mississippi."

"May I presume that you're connexions of William and Ethelbert Barksdale?" Rawlings asked.

Quinn beamed. "You know about them!" she said. "I think William was a general."

"He was," Rawlings quietly said. "Commanded a brigade of Mississippi troops in the Army of Northern Virginia." His eyes had taken on a distant look, as though he was remembering something.

"Sounds like you know them," Daria said. Rawlings shook himself at Daria's comment and smiled at her.

"You could say that, yes," he said. "I've encountered their traces in following my... relative's path up here." He again shoved himself upright. "But at present that is neither here nor there," he continued. "First thing we do is to get things sorted out with your family." He looked at Daria and Quinn. "Is my offer of assistance acceptable?" he asked.

Daria and Quinn looked at one another. "I suppose it couldn't hurt," Daria said.

Quinn nodded. "We might be able to play up the fact that he is Virginian aristocracy in order to avoid the worst of the fallout," she said.

Rawlings was amused. "Glad to be of service," he said. "However, before we leave I had better freshen up and get into a fresh set of clothes. If I may be excused?" Without waiting he headed up the stairs.

Jane looked at Daria and Quinn. "Well," she said, "while he freshens up and get changed, I might as well see if Trent's finished the vacuuming. Then we'll get Quinn set up in her room. She followed Rawlings up the stairs.

Daria turned to Quinn. "Do you think this might work?" she said.

Quinn shrugged. "It's worth a try," she said. "Besides, he might make the relatives actually relate to one another for a change."

Daria shook her head. "You have really come on over to the dark side, haven't you?" she smirked.

Quinn smirked back. "Well, at least I have had some good examples to follow," she said. "Besides, I think I've already established myself in 'Lawwwndale High's' history."

Daria smirked at Quinn's imitation of Angela Li's pronunciation. "So what did you do?" she asked.

Quinn's smirk changed into an evil grin. "Oh, nothing too drastic," she said. "One of my online friends is a historical reenactor. She told me where I could pick up small beer."

"Small beer?"

"It's what they used to drink instead of water," Quinn said. "It's 0.5% alcohol content by volume. No mater how much you drink, you can't get drunk. I bought some for the senior's graduation party."

"Won't they get suspicious?" Daria said.

"It actually tastes really good," Quinn said. "But you can't get drunk on it. So, when the footballers start drinking it..."

"They won't be able to get drunk, thus avoiding any unpleasantness arising," Daria said. "Apart from their just being obnoxious." She looked at her sister. "That's brilliant!"

Quinn looked at her fingernails. "I thought so," she said.

Jane stuck her head down past the upper floor level. "Trent's finished vacuuming your room," she said to Quinn. "I've just got to get some fresh sheets. You want to put your stuff in?"

Quinn picked up her clothing bag. "I'll put my clothes and things up there," she said. "I'll leave my workshop gear down here. You can help me set up somewhere where I won't be in the way."

"Ok," Jane said. "You mind if I do a sketch of you working on your stuff?" she asked as Quinn came up the stairs.

Quinn shook her head. "No," she said. "But if you want to do a painting of it let me know if you want to make it look like one set in the period. I can tell you what to have me wearing in it."

Daria shook her head and then sat down on the couch. Before long she heard footsteps coming down the stairs and a low, husky, laid-back voice say "Hey, Daria."

Daria looked up and saw Jane's brother, and her former crush, Trent Lane standing at the end of the couch. "Hey, Trent."

"Janey's just putting your sister in Wind's old room," Trent said. "We just managed to get all of Mom's pottery stuff out of there and into the bomb shelter." He stretched. "Hard work, that. Didn't realise just how much stuff Mom has collected."

Daria smiled. "So what are you doing these days, Trent?" she asked. "The band doing all right?"

Trent nodded. "We're still playing at the Zen," he said. "But I'm now working at a music store in town."

Daria's eyebrows rose. "Really?" she said. "Doing what?"

"Some sales, mainly in instruments. Also in testing out gear that has been brought in for repairs," Trent said. "They needed a musician to tell them just what needed tuning. I also test out samples of electric guitars and amps, working out which is the best combination." He sat down on the end of the couch. "I'm looking at going to Lawndale College, doing electronics. It'll help out in repairing stuff."

"Impressive. So you're not selling out?" Daria said.

"Not really," Trent said. "Helps with the bills." He relaxed into the back of the couch. "I met Rawlings," he said. "Seems cool, for somebody who's a part of the Establishment. Janey likes him."

"So I gathered," said Daria.

Trent looked at her. "You like him too," he said. "Hope that doesn't ruin things with Janey." He got up and stretched. "I think I'll go down into the basement and grab a few z's," he said. Yawning, he left the room, leaving Daria to ponder on what he had said.

Trent said I like Rawlings, she thought to herself. Well, he is likeable. But dammit, I hardly know the man! So how can I like him the way Trent seems to be saying I like him? Sure he's handsome, charming, intelligent, witty... Oh, God! I am starting to moon over him, aren't I? Well, it'll only be for a few days. Then he'll be out of Lawndale and, most likely, out of my life! So get over it, Morgendorffer! Daria was so caught up in her internal debate that she failed to notice that Jane and Quinn had come back down the stairs.

Jane took one look at Daria sitting on the couch and her face took on a concerned look. "Uh oh," she said. "I know that look on Daria's face."

Quinn looked at Daria as well. "Oh, God," she quietly said. "She's beating herself up again." She looked at Jane. "Give you Vegas odds it's over Richard Rawlings."

Jane shook her head. "I'd need better odds than that to touch that bet," she said. She sighed. "She meets a pretty boy and bam! She starts to feel guilty as hell over lusting after him."

"Ew, Jane!" Quinn said. "This is my sister you're talking about! That's just too much information! Besides, aren't you guilty of the same charge?"

"As are you, Quinnie," Jane said. "But he's really not my type. I got over handsome rich boys some time ago."

"I wouldn't call him a boy," Quinn said. "But I think I get what you're saying. I take it Tom Sloane cured you of that condition?"

"Somewhat," Jane said. "But Daria... she's never been comfortable with expressing her emotions. It sort of screwed up her relationship with Tom." She looked at Quinn. "She hasn't really been dating at Raft, either."

"Hmm, now that's not healthy," Quinn said. "We have to do something about that."

Jane shot Quinn a look. "She's been going off at me for being a yenta for some time now," she said. "Somehow I think she'd be less that impressed if her kid sister started playing the same game."

Quinn rolled her eyes. "You just have to be subtle about these things, Jane!" she said. "There's a quite eligible man upstairs, and an equally eligible young woman in front of us. We only have to grease things a little, so that they begin to see the best qualities in each other. And I think this little research project you've talked her into, plus staying here for a while, could help things along." She gave Jane a serene smile. "You just have to know when to subtly apply the right amount of pressure."

The conversation was interrupted bu the sound of footsteps coming down the upstairs hall. Both Jane and Quinn turned around as Rawlings came down the stairs, and their eyes widened at what they saw.

Rawlings had changed his linen shirt for a silk one of similar design, held together at the cuffs by a pair of expensive-looking cufflinks. He had also changed his trousers for a clean pair, but done in a dark blue cloth. Over it he wore a dark-blue jacket that was partially buttoned up. At his throat was a black silk cravat, with its ends tucked into the opening of his shirt and the knot held in place with a silver stickpin. He had washed and brushed his hair and, from the faint scent that rose from him when he got close to the two girls, it was plain that he had not only shaved, but had applied rosewater as an eau de cologne.

From his appearance, it was plain what Rawlings' tactics would be when confronting the Barksdale-Morgendorffer women: Play the Virginia aristocrat to the hilt.

Jane gave a low wolf whistle and started slowly walking around him. "Nice, very nice!" she said. "This should create an impression!" She looked at Quinn, who shook herself and then giggled.

Quinn turned to the couch. "Oh Daariaa!" she said. Daria shook herself and looked up at Quinn. "We're all ready to go," she said.

Daria got up out of the couch and then got her first look at Rawlings. Her face assumed a 'stunned rabbit in the headlights of oncoming doom' look.

Quinn chuckled and turned to Rawlings. "I think it's safe to assume my sister approves," she said. "Incidentally, so do I."

Daria shook herself and glared at Quinn. "Just remember that I know where you sleep at night," she growled. Both Jane and Quinn laughed. "I hate the pair of you," Daria responded. "I just wanted you to know that."

Rawlings rolled his eyes. "If the horse judging is complete, shall we depart?" he asked.

Quinn nodded and started for the door, with Rawlings, Jane and Daria following. They got out of the door, with Jane halting just on the outside.

As Rawlings, Daria and Quinn got in, Jane said, "Good luck! I should have dinner ready by the time you get back!" Rawlings said nothing but waived his hand. He started the car, reversed out of the driveway and headed off for the Morgendorffer residence.

Jane watched them go down the street. Boy, I wish I was there when this goes down, she thought.


As they drove along Quinn gave directions. Soon enough they arrived out in front of Schloss Morgendorffer. Rawlings pulled in just as the side door to the garage opened and a figure furtively looked out.

Quinn nudged Daria and pointed. "Looks like Daddy's getting ready to fly the coop as well," she said. "Don't blame him."

Rawlings shut off the car and the three of them got out. As Rawlings keyed the car locked Daria and Quinn headed for the garage side door. "Hi, Daddy!" Quinn said.

Jake Morgendorffer jumped at Quinn's voice. "AHHH!" he screamed. Then, looking around, he saw Daria and Quinn. "Oh. Hi, Princess," he said. "Kiddo." He looked around. "What are you doing back here? From what Helen said, the pair of you had headed over to Jane's house." His eyes took on a hunted look. "Do you think Jane has any room for me as well?" he plaintively asked.

Daria shook her head. "Somehow I don't think so," she said. "She had to clean out one of the spare rooms for Quinn. Plus she also has another guest and has only bought enough food for the five of us." She indicated Rawlings who had walked up behind them. "Dad, this is Richard Rawlings, of Mount Folly, Virginia."

Jake held out a hand. "Jake Morgendorffer," he said.

Rawlings took Jake's hand and gave it a firm shake. "Richard John Rawlings," he said. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir."

Jake took back his hand and gently flexed his fingers. "From Virginia, eh?" he said. He looked at Rawlings' eyes. "Say, aren't you just a little old to be hanging around girls?"

Rawlings smiled. "Actually, sir," he said, "I only met them both today. I met Daria and her friend Jane at a diner where they saved me from this waitress. In exchange I bought them coffee and when they helped me with my little family research project, I bought them lunch at an eatery in..." He turned to Daria. "What was its name again?"

Daria smiled. "Cranberry Commons," she said. She looked at her father. "He's following the path of an ancestor of his who was in the Confederate army when it came this way in 1862," she said.

"Hey, I remember now! Helen mentioned something about that!" Jake said. "So your ancestor was in the Confederate Army, eh? My kiddos' ancestor was in the Confederate Army as well! Maybe they knew each other!"

"I am aware of the possibility, sir," Rawlings said. "Brigadier-General William Barksdale, of Mississippi." He looked at Quinn and Daria. "It is a pleasure to have been able to make the acquaintance of two of his more lovely descendants." Both Daria and Quinn blushed at that comment.

Boy, is he smooth! Daria thought. He just might get away with smoothing things over! She looked at Jake. "We'll both be staying over at Jane's, Dad," she said. "At least until things become more civil over here." She turned to Rawlings. "You sure you want to do this?" she asked.

Rawlings nodded. "As the Bard said, If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly." He indicated the front of the house. "The front door would be the best way to handle this."

Daria nodded. "Let's do it, then," she said. She, Rawlings and Quinn headed around the front.

Jake watched them go. "He's either brave or crazy," he muttered to himself."


At the front door they hesitated. "I suspect that it might be best if you went in first," Rawlings said. "This is, after all, your home. I'm just a guest of sorts."

Daria nodded. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Quinn. "Ready?" she asked.

Quinn nodded. "Let's do it." Daria got out her house keys, put them in the lock, and opened the front door.

As soon as they had stepped through Helen was on top of them. "Daria, Quinn, what do you..." Her voice trailed off as Rawlings walked in behind the two girls.

Daria took a deep breath. "Mom," she said, "this is Richard John Rawlings. You might recall I told you and Aunt Rita about him."

Helen looked at Rawlings. Her lawyer's trained eye immediately took in his semi-formal attire, noting that his jacket was hand-tailored. And quite expensive, too, she thought. She noticed the class ring on his right ring finger. Virginia Military Institute? she thought in astonishment.

Rawlings stepped forward and took a surprised Helen Morgendorffer's hand. "Richard John Rawlings the Third, ma'am," he said, bowing over her hand. "Of Mount Folly, Virginia." He let Helen's hand go.

Helen Morgendorffer's eyebrows rose at his soft, refined Virginia accent. I see what Rita means! she thought to herself. Definitely Virginia aristocracy!

Stepping back, she tried to gather her scattered wits. "Daria told me something about you," she said. "You're here doing some family research?"

Rawlings turned a smile on Helen that was so charming that it made her go weak at the knees. "Indeed I am, ma'am," he said.

"Oh, please! The name's Helen," she said. She then rallied. "My sister told me that you have recently acquired Mount Folly?"

Ah, thought Rawlings. The first ranging shot. The ball opens. "Say that I have, ah, redeemed it, Helen," Rawlings said. "It was almost lost to the family through the folly of a relative of mine. I just paid off the debts and, in exchange, I took on the title." His smile grew slightly wider. "So you can say that I have managed to keep the property in the family." His face grew more serious. "I won't reveal what I paid for it," he said. "Suffice it to say that my relative's debts were quite... substantial. I would rather keep that information privileged for the sake of my family."

"Of course," Helen said. "I understand completely, what being a lawyer and all."

Rawlings smiled. Firing for effect, are we? Pity I'm not making a frontal assault, isn't it? "I'm glad you understand," he said. "I would indeed consider it a great favour if you could correct any scurrilous remarks regarding my acquisition of the family home."

Helen stood to one side and indicated to Rawlings that he could come further into the house. "Could you tell me, if it isn't rude, just what it is you do for a living?" she asked. They walked down the hall. Behind them , Daria and Quinn followed unnoticed.

Smooth, Rawlings thought. Very smooth. But not smooth enough to someone who knows Charles Marshall. Not to mention his distinguished relative. "As I said to your charming daughter when we first met," said Rawlings, "you could call me one of the 'idle rich.' But I suppose you could say that I'm a private investor." He looked down at Helen. "Although before that I did serve some eight years in the Unites States Regulars."

"Really?" Helen said. "What rank did you leave with?"

"Captain. I had to resign my commission because my father took ill," Rawlings said. His face grew shadowed. "Not long after I had returned from my last posting my father died. So I inherited his fortune, which included several properties in the Shenandoah as well as some in the Cotton States, plus some in Texas."

"I see," Helen said. She again took him in. He does have that air of being accustomed to command about him, she thought. I wonder just how much of that comes from his time in the army, and how much of it can be attributed to his upbringing? "I heard that you were going to do some, what is it called? Ah, yes, 'heritage farming'."

Nice sally, Rawlings thought. Pity it's going to be as effective as one made by 'The Virginia Creeper'. Time for some fire of my own. "It's a sideline," Rawlings said. "I believe that keeping some strains of livestock and plants will help keep the, ah, biodiversity of the general pool healthy. I do have other investments." And thank you Lo, for introducing me to Darwin. You may never know just how helpful that has been.

"Indeed." By now they had reached the living area, where Jake's mother, Ruth Morgendorffer, Helen's mother, Tess Barksdale, and Rita and Amy, were waiting.

Ruth Morgendorffer got up out of the armchair where she had been glaring daggers at Tess Barksdale. "So your daughters finally decided to turn up!" she said. "Somehow I'm not surp..." Her incipient rant died down as Rawlings followed Helen into the living area.

Helen waived a hand at Rawlings. "Mother, Rita, Amy, Ruth, this is a friend of Daria's" she said. She turned to Rawlings. "What was your name again?" she asked.

Rawlings looked around and took in some of the vibrations in the room. I think I can see the lie of the land, he thought. Ambush, eh? Just remember what your good friend John told you: an ambush can be difficult to bring off against an opponent who's alert to the possibility. Mind, I've been in snake pits that were friendlier than this room. Having been raised in the cut and thrust of Virginian society, however, does help in a situation like this. He walked up to Ruth Morgendorffer and, taking her hand, bowed over it. "Richard John Rawlings the Third, ma'am," he said. Every woman in the room unconsciously straightened up at the sound of his soft, refined Virginia accent."And you're...?"

Ruth Morgendorffer giggled, a sound that drew astonished looks from Helen, Rita, Amy, Daria and Quinn. She pressed her free hand against her chest. "Ruth Morgendorffer," she said. "I'm Daria and Quinn's grandmother."

Tess Barksdale stood up at that, Giving Ruth a slight glare, she presented her hand for Rawlings. "Tess Barksdale," she said. "I'm also their grandmother."

Ah, thought Rawlings. The Barksdale matriarch. Releasing Ruth's hand, Rawlings took Tess' and gave a slightly deeper bow over it. Straightening up, he said "I'm charmed to meet the both of you." Indicating Helen and her daughters he said "I can now see where Helen and her daughters get some of their charm from: two such lovely and charming matrons."

To the surprise of the others in the room, both Ruth and Tess each placed a hand to their lips, blushed and giggled like schoolgirls. "I have never met such a well-mannered and charming young man such as you!" Ruth said. "At least not for a long time."

Tess said "I have to agree. It's a pleasure to see that the South can still turn out such a well-raised gentleman such as yourself." She again giggled.

Behind Helen, Daria and Quinn exchanged surprised looks. Quinn leaned over and whispered, "I don't believe it! He has them eating out of his hand! How is he doing it?"

Daria shrugged. "Somehow I suspect it's his upbringing," she whispered. "Plus the three years he spent at VMI."

"VMI?" Quinn whispered back.

"Virginia Military Institute,' Daria whispered. "It's also called 'The West Point of the South.' I'll fill you in on it later." She turned her attention back on the room. I also think he's taking advantage of Grandmas Morgendorffer and Barksdale's upbringing, too, she thought. Which may not be a bad thing.

By now Rita and Amy had moved forward to present themselves to Rawlings. "Rita Barksdale," she said, offering her hand. Rawlings took it and bowed. "I'm Daria and Quinn's aunt."

"And another recipient of her mother's charm and grace as well, I see," Rawlings said, releasing her hand. Rita blushed and looked away. He turned to Amy.

Amy held out her hand. "Amy Barksdale," she said. She looked Rawlings straight in the eye. "You don't have to bow: a shake of the hand will do," she said.

Her mother and sisters were horrified."Amy!" they said. Daria and Quinn smirked.

Ah, the feisty one, Rawlings thought. He smiled. "If you say so," he said and simply shook her hand. "I take it you're the other aunt?" he asked.

Amy raised an eyebrow. "You take it correctly," she said. She looked at his class ring, and raised an eyebrow. "Virginia Military Institute?" she said. She looked him up and down. "I can see the soldier in you," she said. "Ever have to do some stupid things in the service of your country?"

"Amy!" said her mother. "You stop being so rude, you hear?"

Rawlings threw his head back and laughed. "More than a few," he said. "Too many to relate here." His eyes grew shadowed. "And not all fit for mixed company, either," he quietly said.

Amy took a closer look at his eyes. You have seen a lot, she thought. I've read about eyes like yours, but the closest I've ever seen them is in some old photographs. "I take it you've seen your share of action, then?" she asked.

"You could say that," Rawlings said. "I've seen the monkey show a few times." He smiled at Amy. "And what about yourself?" he asked.

"I'm a lecturer in English Literature and History at Georgetown University," she said.

"Ah," said Rawlings. He bent a little closer to Amy. "I think I see some distinct resemblance to your older niece," he quietly said. "Plus, I also note that you're yet another recipient of some of your mother's charms."

Well, aren't you a smooth one!" Amy said. Rawlings just threw back his head and laughed.

"Forthright and forward," he said. "Intellect and beauty! I think one could grow used to this!"

Tess Barksdale came up and took Rawlings by the arm. "Well," she said. "How about we both sit down and have some tea and nibblements."

Rawlings bowed his head. "An excellent suggestion!" He offered his free arm to Ruth Morgendorffer. "Madame?" he said. Ruth giggled and took his arm.

Tess turned her head towards Helen. "Well, Helen," she said. "Don't just stand there! Go and get some tea ready for your guests! I'm sure I raised you better than this!"

To everyone's surprise Ruth leaned across Rawlings and nodded. "I'm sure you did," she said. "It's just shocking how some of the younger generation forget the manners their elders spent so much time and effort teaching them!"

"Indeed, Ruth," Tess Barksdale said. "Indeed." She looked up at Rawlings. "Shall we go into the kitchen area?" she asked.

"Lead on, madame," Rawlings said."But first, let me defend your daughter and daughter-in law. I'm sure she knows her social duties: if anyone is at fault it is I, for suddenly appearing and throwing all of her arrangements out of order." He nodded at Helen, who smiled and nodded back.

"Oh, I'm sure you're right," Tess Barksdale said. Rita just nodded. The three of them walked into the kitchen, trailing behind them an amused Rita and a somewhat bemused Helen.

Amy watched the proceedings with evident amusement. "I don't know how he did that," she said. "Before your mother brought him into the room they were glaring at each other like a pair of spitting cobras." She turned to her nieces. "Just where did you find him? At a Gone With the Wind convention?"

Daria smirked. "I can understand you thinking that, Amy," she said. "But Jane and I first encountered him in a diner on the central green in town. We rescued him from the attentions of a waitress. I have to say he has some of the strangest tastes in coffee, though."

Amy raised an eyebrow. "How come?" she asked.

"Well, it was the way he just savoured the coffee in the diner," Daria said. "Plus, when we were going over his old maps in a coffee shop in Cranberry Commons, he ordered it, and I do believe the direct quite was, Black as Hades and strong enough to float an iron wedge."

Amy looked in the direction Rawlings had gone. "How interesting," Amy said. "Sounds like he's most definitely used to Army coffee." She looked at her nieces. "I have to say, though," she said, I was a little disappointed that my favourite nieces weren't here to greet me," she said. "Although I can understand the reasons you had for lighting out like that."

Daria looked a little sheepish. "Sorry about that, Amy," she said. "But when Grandma Morgendorffer arrived after Aunt Rita had been here for a while, it just got too much."

Quinn nodded. "Yeah," she said. "Daria told me that they only quietened down when she mentioned Richard to them. But after Grandma Morgendorffer got here..." she shuddered.

Amy raised her eyebrow at Quinn's use of Rawlings' first name. "Richard, is it?" she said.

Quinn blushed. "Well, he insists on people using just his first name," she said. "He's actually quite informal."

"And a bit old for you," Amy said. She turned in the direction everyone had gone. "I'm going to have to go and watch this," she said. "He certainly knows how to play to your grandmothers' weaknesses." She turned back to the girls. "What are the two of you going to do?"

"Take advantage of the calm before the storm," Daria said. "Quinn's going down into her workroom, to get some things she couldn't take over to Jane's while I go and get a couple of things from my old room. Then we wait until our grandmothers let him go. Then the fun will start." She too looked in the direction the others had gone. "I will grand Richard one thing: he was correct when he said that sometimes having a complete stranger present will make people behave much better than they normally would, but eventually he'll leave the house and the same old story will unfold itself." Her face hardened. "And I will not stay to be a part of that: college life is stressful enough." She looked at Amy. "I've come here to unwind, as best as one can in Lawndale, not to take part in family infighting. And, as you may have gathered, Quinn and I are trying to avoid the kind of relationship you, mom and Rita have with one another, and staying here watching you all tear each other apart won't help."

Amy looked at Daria. "I can understand where the two of you are coming from. But running off won't make matters any easier." She sighed. "I know Helen can be... irritating at times, but she is still your mother. All she wants is the best for you and Quinn."

"Richard said something along those lines at Jane's place," Quinn said. "She said that no matter what, even after we are adults, Mom will still think of us as her little girls, to be loved and protected."

Amy grew thoughtful. "Hmm," she said. "He may well have something there." She looked at her two nieces. "But somehow I don't think that running off the way you did will help in any claim you may be making towards adulthood."

"Richard pretty much said the same thing," Daria said. "He said that the first step towards being treated as an adult is to start acting like one." She looked at Amy. "But he also said that we should make the same demand on all the alleged 'adults' present." Her eyes softened. "And that, I'm afraid, may well include you too, Amy. He said that we both should say that you all want us to give you the respect you deserve as adults we should say that at least you can try to act in an adult manner."

Amy looked at Daria and Quinn. Then, she let out a sigh. "Daria, you know that I've always considered you to be one of the few adults in this family," she said. "And it seems that your good example is rubbing off on Quinn. But I don't know just how well that sort of thing is going to go with Helen."

"I suspect that he may take a hand in that," Daria said. At Amy's raised eyebrow, Daria continued. "Somehow I think he may well parley his presence here against the continued good behaviour of our so-called 'elders and betters.' And I think that his biggest assets in doing this, apart from, well, himself, will be Grandma Barksdale and Grandma Morgendorffer." She looked at Amy. "You saw how they were acting around him. Plus, and I suspect that he has made it known in there by now, he is aware of the Barksdale connection."

Amy slowly nodded. "I think I see what you're saying," she said. "Mother will be somewhat concerned with how she appears in the eyes of someone who from all appearances is a member of Virginia's tidewater aristocracy. And Ruth will not want to be diminished in his eyes as well, just so she can prove that she is at least as well-mannered as Mother." She looked in the direction of the kitchen. "Smooth," she said. "Very smooth. And pretty much in keeping with some individuals from that social stratum I've encountered in Georgetown and Washington." She looked back at her nieces. "And if I'm not mistaken, he's also disarmed your mother, or neutralised her at the very least. For the time being, I should add." She gave a lop-sided grin. "I think I'm going to have to stick around. It looks as though your new friend will be making things interesting."

Quinn nodded. An evil smile grew on her face. "But don't make any moves on him," she said. "Or you just might incur somebody's wrath." She gave Daria a side-long look.

Daria scowled. "Remember what I said about learning the meaning of words," she said. "You're getting closer to a practical demonstration, with you as the teaching aid." She glared at Amy, who had started chortling. "If you've all finished amusing yourselves at my expense," she said, "I'll be heading up to my old room for some things." With as much dignity as she could manage she started climbing the stairs.

Quinn shook her head. "Boy, she must have it bad," she said. "I've never sen her this bad since she had her crush on Jane's brother." She looked at Amy. "I think I'll go down into my workroom and get my standing frame," she said. Her look also grew harder. "I'm with Daria on this," she continued. "I'm not staying around here unless some people around here start acting their ages." She left for the basement door.

Amy looked after her nieces. Helen, she thought, I think you're in for a surprise.


"Well, it has been a pleasure meeting you ladies and having some tea with you," Rawlings said as he walked into the living room some time later, "but I must be going." He pulled out his gold fob watch, opened it and looked at the time.

"Oh, But you must have dinner with us!" said Tess Barksdale. "Isn't that right, Helen?"

Helen frowned at being coopted into her mother's social schemes. "Well, it depends if Mr. Rawlings is able to attend," she said. "I was hoping for a family dinner tomorrow night at the latest."

"And I assure you that I will not interfere in a family meal," Rawlings said as he replaced his watch, "unless the hostess," he continued, pointedly giving a slight bow in Helen's direction, "desires my presence as the lady of the house, and does not feel as if she is being pressured into things against her will."

Despite herself, Helen Morgendorffer found herself smiling at Rawlings. "Why, Mr. Rawlings!" she said. "Thank you for that comment!" She fell into a thoughtful frown. "I suppose we could arrange an extra place at the table," she said.

"Of course you can Helen," said Tess Barksdale. "I mean, how often do you have the opportunity to have such a distinguished gentleman as a dinner guest."

"Now, now, Tess," Rawlings gently chided. "This is Helen's home, after all. And I would say that, at her age and with her achievements in life, she is perhaps the best one of us to determine such a thing. Of course," he continued, "she can always go to her mother and her mother-in-law for any advice and assistance, if she feels it needed." He gently placed a very subtle emphasis on the last part of the sentence.

Tess turned her head in Rawlings' direction. "I do apologise, Richard," she said. "You are quite correct in this." She turned towards Helen. "And I do also apologise to you, Helen. This is your home, and it is your decision."

"Indeed," said Ruth Morgendorffer. "And I also must apologise too, Helen," she said. "It just struck me that we were being quite rude to you earlier in inviting Richard into your kitchen for tea."

Helen and the others in the room were thunderstruck. Wow! thought Daria. Both Grandma Morgendorffer and Grandma Barksdale apologising to Mom? What will happen next? She looked at her mother, who was wearing a very nonplussed look on her face.

Helen shook herself, and then smiled at Rawlings. "Well," she said. "I suppose we can set an extra place." She looked at her daughters. "Of course, I expect the both of you there as well."

Quinn nodded. "We will, Mom," she said. "And sorry for running out on you like that! But..." she trailed off.

Helen frowned at Quinn and then turned it on Daria. "And what have you got to say for yourself?" she asked.

Daria looked her mother in the eye. "Mom, I know that running out on you like that was not the best thing Quinn and I could have done," she said. "But, damn it! I came back here to unwind after a full year at college, not to walk into a war zone! I want to relax for a change."

"If I may, Helen?" Rawlings quietly said. Helen looked at Rawlings, and then gave a nod. "Thank you. I would like to respectfully put forward the idea that Daria is an adult now, and is perhaps the best person to judge how she wants to spend her time. Now perhaps running off the way she did was not the best thing she could have done but wouldn't that say something about just why she and Quinn decamped in the manner they did?" Without giving Helen a chance to reply he then looked at Daria and Quinn. "I'm also equally certain that, given the chance, they would not mind spending some time around their family. Am I correct?" Both Daria and Quinn nodded.

Rawlings turned to face the others in the lounge room. "From what I have gathered," he said, "both Daria and Quinn are attempting to work on their sibling relationship. Although it is most likely not my place to suggest this, I think that they should be allowed the time and space to work it out for themselves. And that that relationship could do with some, shall we say, positive examples from their own kith and kin?" His expression made it plain that he had been very aware of what had been happening in the Morgendorffer house before he had come in.

Helen, Rita and Amy all hung their heads, as did both Ruth and Tess. Then, Ruth lifted her head and looked at Rawlings. "You are correct, Richard," she said. She looked at Tess. "We haven't exactly been the best examples for your daughters, my daughter-in-law and our grandchildren, haven't we?" Tess looked at Ruth and nodded.

Helen raised her head. She stepped towards her sisters and took their hands. "My sisters and I promised that we would improve our relationship," she said. "And that was after both Daria and Quinn gave us a good idea of what we looked like to them both." She looked at her daughters. "We haven't really been a good example to follow." She then looked at Rawlings. "And I take your point: how can I deserve the respect I ask for from my adult daughters if I don't act like an adult myself?"

Rawlings came over. "It's hard to let go, I know," he said. "I saw how hard it was for my mother to let go when I went off to boarding school. And again how hard it was for her to let go when I went off to the Virginia Military Academy and later into the Regulars. But you have to let go sometime, if only so that your children can find their feet as adults." He stepped back.

"Your wisdom belies your years, Richard," said Tess Barksdale. She looked at the others. "If we promise to behave ourselves, and if Helen agrees, will you join us for dinner tomorrow night?"

Rawlings gave a small bow. "If all of those conditions are met, I shall be honoured to attend," he said. He turned his head in Helen's direction, and Helen smiled.

"Of course you can come," she said. She looked at the others in the room. "I will need some help, though," she said.

"Oh, leave the cooking to us, Helen!" Tess Barksdale said. "Right, Rita?" Rita Morgendorffer nodded.

"Then it's settled," Helen said. "Dinner at eight?" Rawlings smiled and gave a nod. "Then we'll expect you for dinner at eight," Helen said. She looked at her two daughters. "And I expect you both to be there as well," she said. "After all, this is the last family gathering we'll have before Quinn heads off to Boston."

"Don't worry, Mom. We'll be there," Quinn said. Daria nodded.

"Well, in that case, Helen, Tess, Ruth, I suppose the three of us had best be off," Rawlings said. "I do believe that Miss Lane is cooking up a meal for us tonight, and both Daria and Quinn have places at the table. Later on, I suspect that both Daria and I will be planning a line of attack on my own little family research project for tomorrow. But I shall have them both here before eight."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about me, Richard," Quinn said. "I'll come over sometime tomorrow afternoon to help with the preparations as well as to freshen up. You can bring Daria, since she'll be busy helping you tomorrow."

"Then it is agreed. We all convene here sometime before eight," Rawlings said. "Now, if you will excuse us?" Rawlings, Daria and Quinn headed for the front door, opened it and went outside.

After the door had been shut, Ruth Morgendorffer and Tess Barksdale turned to one another. "I must admit," Tess said, "we did deserve that bit at the end, didn't we?"

Ruth nodded. "I haven't had a talking-to like that since... well since Granddaddy died!" she said.

"Me too," Tess said. She looked at the front door. "He reminds me a great deal of Granddaddy Kemper."

"And of my granddaddy too," Ruth agreed. "It's good to see that they can still turn out men like that. Real men, too. Not like my husband and, I suspect, not like yours."

"Oh, he resembled Richard, all right," Tess said. "But he was just a pale shadow compared to him." She nodded towards the door. "That was a real man!" Ruth said nothing but nodded.

"Well!" said Helen. "Much as I would like this to continue, we do have tonight's dinner to get ready, Not to mention planning for tomorrow."

"Oh, Helen!" Tess said. "Why don't we all go out for dinner tonight! We can plan over a nice meal at a restraunt somewhere. My treat."


When they got back to Casa Lane they saw that, much to Daria's surprise, it was still standing.

"Hmm," said Daria as she got out of the car. "Jane hasn't set the house on fire. I am impressed."

Rawlings got out and looked over at Daria. "I take it her culinary skills may leave something to be desired?" he asked.

Daria shook her head. "No," she said. "I'm impressed that the oven hasn't caught fire from her trying to cook either in it or on top of it."

"Actually, I'm not," Rawlings said. "I saw her working quite furiously in the kitchen cleaning every surface after we got back from doing the supply run. Said something about finally having an excuse to make it fit for human use."

Daria smirked. "Now I am truly impressed," she said. "Next thing you'll be telling me that the bathroom is clean."

"Actually, it is," Rawlings said. "I believe she made one of Trent's friends...'Jesse' I believe, go in and clean it out. She would come up from time to time to check in on how he was doing."

Much to Rawlings' amusement, Daria started looking at the sky. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm looking for the coming of the Apocalypse," Daria said. "Several of the preconditions have been fulfilled, in my opinion." She looked at Rawlings. "You are beginning to unnerve me," she said.

"Oh?" said a highly amused Rawlings. "In what way?"

"Well, for a start, you get Jane and Trent cleaning up their house," Daria said. "Then you manage to get fresh food into Casa Lane. Finally, there are the events of this afternoon at my parent's house, especially the way you had both of my grandmothers not only act civilly towards one another but fall over themselves trying to get and keep your good opinion. Not to mention the way that you managed to completely flummox my mother." She scrutinised him over the roof of his car."Just how do you do this?"

Rawlings shrugged. "Honestly? I couldn't tell you," he said.

Daria looked at him. "Well, if you work out how you do those sort of things, let me know: I'd like to find out how." She looked at the Lane house. "Well, I suppose we'd better go in and find out if Jane's burned the roast, or whatever we're having for dinner." She took out a small bag, shut her door and headed for the front door of Casa Lane. Quinn took her standing frame out of the back seat area, shut her door and followed, while Rawlings shut the driver's side door and keyed on the locks and the alarm.

Daria reached the front door and rang the bell. After a while the door opened and Jane peered out. "Oh!" she said. "You're all back." She saw Quinn coming up the path with her standing frame. "That what you've been working on?" she asked.

Quinn nodded. "Yep," she said. "Just let me get it in and I'll find a suitable location to set it up." Daria and Jane stood to one side and let Quinn go in with the frame.

As Rawlings came up Jane asked "So, how did things go? From the fact that you're here I'd have to say that things went a lot smoother than previous experience would indicate."

Daria gave a Mona Lisa smile. "Jane, it was incredible," she said. "Richard had my two grandmothers eating out of his hand. He had Rita tripping over herself and even Amy was impressed."

From inside the living room came Quinn's voice. "Yeah," she said. "I had to warn her off Richard for Daria's sake," she said, her smirk quite evident in her voice.

Daria blushed beet red. "Just remember, sis, she said, "that I know where you're sleeping tonight. And don't bother trying to lock the door: I don't think it works." She scowled at a smirking Jane and stalked into the house.

Rawlings watched her go up the stairs. He turned to Jane. "Perhaps I'm missing something here," he said to Jane, "but why do you, ah, tease your best friend like that?"

"We tease each other all the time," Jane replied. "Daria's the best friend I've ever had." She grinned at Rawlings. "Don't worry too much about her," she said. "She'll get her own back when she's good and ready."

Quinn nodded. "Daria's a wickedly good plotter," she said from over where she was setting up her standing frame. "I aught to know, being her sister and all."

Rawlings looked from Jane to Quinn and back again. "All right," he said. "But at least give me good warning so that I can take cover," he said. "She looks quiet but I'll wager she has one fiery temper!"

Quinn and Jane smirked. "We'll give you good warning if we think something's going down," Jane said. "But honestly, I don't think you'll be in the firing line."

"Yeah," muttered Quinn under her breath. "Because she's besotted with you, same as she was with Trent." However, Rawlings didn't hear what she had said.

As Rawlings stepped through the door he took in a deep breath. "Something smells good," he said. "What is on the menu for tonight?"

Jane smirked. "You'll have to wait and see," she said. "But somehow I think it'll go down quite well with all here."

"Not too fatty, is it Jane?" asked Quinn. At Jane's look she said, "Yes, I know that I'm sounding like I used to, but I figure that I'll be eating plenty of unhealthy meals at college. So I'd prefer at least something healthy before I dive into the world of takeaways and long nights studying." She finished setting up her frame, and came over to where Rawlings and Jane were standing and took a breath. "I'll have to agree," she said. "Whatever it is, it does smell good."

Jane smirked as she shut the door. "I'd better go in and see how it's coming along," she said. "You two go and freshen up." She headed for the kitchen.

Rawlings looked at Quinn and said "You go on up first: I'll just sit on down here and perhaps watch the television."

"Ok." As Quinn went up Rawlings sat down, picked up the remote and flicked on the TV. As the TV came on he heard: "Will the South rise again? It will if these spectres have their way! Confederates in the attic: tonight on Sick, Sad World!"

Rawlings shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Just as he moved to shift the channel he heard Jane come up beside him. "They really aren't trying anymore," she said, pointing at the screen. "Wanna see if there's anything better on?"

"Just what I was about to do," Rawlings said. He thumbed the remote a few times until a newscast came on. "I take it that this is the local station?" he asked.

Jane squinted at the screen. "It is," she said. "Well, we might as well find out what the local news hounds consider a good story in this dump." She leaned forward against the back of the couch. "Well," she said, "I suppose that putting in new trash cans on the green could be considered important for a place like this."

"I gather from your comments that Lawndale isn't what one could consider..." Rawlings began when the screen changed.

Jane took one look at the screen and groaned. "Today must be a slow news day for Lawndale," she said, "if they've stooped to broadcasting a story about that!" On the screen the station's reporter was going on about the UFO Convention."

"I think the term is 'amusing news item'," Rawlings dryly said as he watched. "This thing is a bit like a slow-motion train wreck," he said. "Fascinating in a, shall we say..."

"It's completely in bad taste but you can't tear yourself away from looking?" Jane said.

"Exactly," Rawlings said. He turned to Jane. "I take it this was what you were going on about earlier?" His expression was politely sceptical.

"Yes, it was," Jane said. Then she groaned again and hid her face in her arms. On the screen Artie had appeared and was talking about his abductions, his 'artificial skin' and the 'alien love goddesses' of Lawndale.

Rawlings raised an eyebrow. "I take it you know the man," he said, his voice rippling with amusement.

"Yeah," Jane said. "He thinks that Daria and me are 'alien love goddesses'." She raised her head. "Don't ask," she said. "It's too complicated. But I had better warn you, you could come under 'surveillance' while you're with us."

"Oh, I think I can live with that," Rawlings said. "It'll make for an amusing story to dine out on back in Richmond." His face took on an even more amused look. "Of how I made the acquaintance of two 'alien love goddesses' and was put up as a boarder by one of them." At least it will amuse the society types, he thought. And a few of my colleagues, no doubt. How the Old Man will take it... Well, he does have a somewhat impish sense of humour. He got up. "I'd better go and get ready for dinner," he said. "I suppose it's almost ready."

Jane pushed herself off the back of the couch. "It is," she said. "I've taken the meat out of the oven and I'm just keeping it warm. I'll go and see if the baked vegetables are ready." She went back into the kitchen just as Rawlings started climbing the stairs.


"Well, I'm going to have to admit this, Jane," said Daria as she put her cutlery on the plate in front of her. "You have officially impressed me. Twice, at the very least."

"Yeah," Quinn said. "That was a brilliant meal." She looked over to Jane. "Where did you come up with the idea of rump steaks as mini roasts? That was brilliant!"

Jane indicated Rawlings. "Thank our Southern friend here," she said. "Put all of your spices and herbs on one surface, roll them up and then cook like roasts. Big enough for individual serves and nothing goes to waste." She looked at Daria. "We might have to have this as an occasional meal in our digs at Boston," she said.

"So long as it's an occasional meal," Daria said. "Especially considering the price of food up there." She turned to Rawlings. "How did you come by this recipe?" she asked. She indicated Trent who was sitting at the opposite end of the table. "Even he's full."

"Oh, it's something I encountered in my time in the Army," Rawlings said. He had changed into a clean version of the clothes he had been wearing earlier in the day, before he had changed to go over to the Morgendorffers' "We didn't subsist on rations all the time." Mainly because the rations quite frequently didn't get to us, he thought. "I can tell you that we would often supplement our rations with something we picked up locally."

"I thought that the army tended to take care of you," Daria said.

"Not when you're out in the country," Rawlings said. "Hard rations do get to you after a while."

"Don't tell me you foraged!" Jane said.

Rawlings nodded. "We sometimes did," he said. "However, we were under orders to pay for anything we took from the locals. So we did." Mind you, they frequently didn't like what we were paying them in. But that's not my fault. "This is sort of what we'd put together. However, the refinements are mine: I sometimes have this served at meals at home."

"Your barbeques must be something," Jane said. "Who knows, if we're in the area we may call in sometime."

"You may, Jane," Rawlings said. "Just let me know in advance, right? It would allow me to get things right."

Daria stood up. "Well," she said, "unless there's any dessert, I might as well help Jane to clear the table and do the dishes," she said.

"Let me help as well," Rawlings said. He had stood up with Daria and made a move to pick up his dish and cutlery.

Daria shook her head. "You bought Jane and me lunch today," she said. "Plus you managed to defuse a rather tricky situation at my parents' house as well. Besides, you also paid for this. I think you've done enough for one day." She and Jane started to clear the table.

"I'll help too," Quinn said. "You go and sit down in the living room." Shaking his head Rawlings followed Trent out of the kitchen area and into the living room.

"Man, I'm pretty full," Trent said. He looked at Rawlings. "That was a good meal: thanks."

Rawlings just waived it away. "Just part of my agreement with Jane," he said.

Trent looked at a clock. "I had better go on over to the Zen" he said. "I'm meeting the band there for a practice before we go on tonight." He looked at Rawlings. "You're more than welcome to come along."

Rawlings shook his head. "Thanks, Trent," he said, "but I've had a pretty busy day. Some other time perhaps."

Trent nodded. "I understand," he said. He went up to the front door and let himself out.


Later on, after the dishes had been done, Rawlings sat at the table with Daria as they planned out the next few days' activities. Quinn was sitting in a corner doing some work on her standing frame. Jane had found a folding card table in the basement and, after cleaning it up and putting a cover on it, had placed it near where Quinn was setting up a workspace. It now bore her table frame as well as some embroidery hoops.

Jane had been fascinated with what Quinn was doing and, after getting a good look at Quinn's work, was now sitting in a chair nearby sketching away. She was doing an initial sketch of Quinn working on the standing frame but was intending, once she had the main elements sketched in, of doing what Quinn had suggested: make a painting that was set in the era of the material Quinn was working on.

"So the historical society's located in the library," Rawlings said, "as are their records." He looked at Daria. "Will the library be open tomorrow?"

"Most likely," Daria said. "However, since tomorrow's Saturday, it'll probably be open in the morning. I don't know about the historical society, though."

Rawlings nodded. "All right," he said. "We head for the library and see what we can find out." He looked at the map of Lawndale, then at the older map of the area. "I wouldn't mind finding out where this is," he said, indicting Sloane Farm.

Daria looked at the map. "Let's see if we can find something that we can use as a reference point." She looked at the location of the farmhouse. "I see it's on a hill overlooking the crossroads," she said. "If the crossroads themselves correlate to the green in the centre of town, then..." Her eyes grew distant as she did some reckoning. "I'd say that it was probably located here," she said, indicating a park on the modern map.

Rawlings looked at the modern map of Lawndale. "I take it it's located on a hill?" he asked.

Daria nodded. "There's some woods behind it," she said. "Plus it's on the outskirts of town and located on the road through to Harper's Ferry."

"Where McLaws' division went," Rawlings said. "So it's decided," He stood up and leaned on the table. "We check out the library and then, if we have time, I'd like to see the lie of the land from that park. See if it matches."

"Matches what?" Daria asked.

"My... relative's description of the area in his diaries," Rawlings said. "Plus it looks as though he spent some time there." He ran a finger along the road leading out of Lawndale.

Just then Jane happened to turn her head in their direction. Her eyes widened as an image flashed through her head. Quickly she turned over a blank page in her sketchpad and started sketching Rawlings as he stood at the table tracing a finger on the maps before him. I've got to see if I can get any idea of what Civil War uniforms looked like, she thought as she sketched. Just the way he's standing there: it makes him look like a general. Her lip quirked at another thought ran across her mind. Probably a Confederate general, she thought. Damn, this'd make a great painting! As Rawlings started to straighten up Jane said, "Don't move!"

Rawlings shot Jane a puzzled look, which he transferred onto Daria. Daria shrugged. "Muse attack," she said. "When she's like this it's usually best to cooperate."

Rawlings raised an amused eyebrow. "Speaking from personal experience, no doubt," he dryly said.

Daria nodded. "And you had better not ask any questions about what she had me doing," she said. At Rawlings' look she said "Trust me: just hearing about them would scar you mentally for life. And I took part in them. But then I was pretty scarred to begin with, so there was no further harm done." She waived in the general direction of Schloss Morgendorffer. "You've met my family," she said. "Besides, Quinn can corroborate what I've just said."

Rawlings' look grew even more amused. "And how much of this scarring was inflicted by sibling rivalry?" he asked.

Quinn answered. "Lots of it," she said. She looked up from her work at Daria. "You have to admit it, though, Daria: it went both ways. Not to mention the scarring we all got from Lawwwndale High." The three young women snickered at Quinn's imitation of Angela Li, Lawndale High's principal.

Rawlings grew even more amused. "Private joke?" he asked.

"Just the principal at our old school" Jane said. "She was scarring enough. Not to mention some of the faculty."

"Like DeMartino," Quinn said. "Or O'Neill and Barch." The three shuddered.

"A bit scary, eh?" asked Rawlings. "And can I move, now? I'm starting to cramp up standing here."

Jane looked at Rawlings. "Oh," she said. "Sorry, I'm finished for now. You can move." Rawlings straightened up and stretched. Then he fished out his watch and looked at the time. "Well," he said. "Much as the conversation is getting interesting, I had best be off to bed. I've had a big day and I think I'll be having an equally big one tomorrow. Especially the family dinner at the Morgendorffer residence in the evening."

"Well, I'd have to say that you had better like lasagna," Daria said. "Unless things have changed over the past few months."

"Oh, we could be lucky," Quinn said. "He might have gotten things to the stage where either Grandma Barksdale or Grandma Morgendorffer have offered to do the cooking."

"Oh, great," said Daria. "That's all we need. Our grandmothers squabbling over who does the cooking." She looked at Rawlings. "I just hope that it doesn't boil down to ordering in a dinner from either of the Chinese restraunts in town. Of course, we could be lucky and you've managed to get them to work together. But then, previous experience leads me to say that outcome is unlikely."

Rawlings looked from Daria to Quinn and back again. His expression clearly showed that he was wondering if the two Morgendorffer sisters were joking. Finally he shook himself. "Well, I'm to bed," he said. "Good night, ladies."

"Goodnight, Richard," said Daria, Jane and Quinn asychronomously. Rawlings nodded and headed up the stairs.

Daria looked over to where Jane was sketching. "What are you working on?" she said.

"Oh, just a little something," Jane said. "I'm only working on a preliminary sketch at the moment: the details will have to wait until I can get to the library tomorrow."

Daria's eyes widened. "You? Going to the library?" She got up and walked over to a window. Opening it, she looked out at the sky.

"What are you doing, Daria?" Jane asked.

"Looking for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Daria said. "One more precondition has been fulfilled."

Jane shook her head. "Now, now, Daria," she said in a mock-reproving voice. "You've got me mistaken for Trent. He's the one with a phobia about books and places where they're kept. Besides, I'm looking for source materials."

"Oh? What for?" Daria closed the window and turned back to face the room.

Jane looked at Daria. "I just thought I might do some illustrations for any short story you come up with," she said. "Also, I need to find out some more about clothing styles. Quinn's offered to help me with some of the Renaissance stuff, but I'll need to find out about clothing around the time of the Civil War."

Daria considered what Jane had said. "I suppose some illustrations would be nice," she said. She too looked at a clock. "I should be getting ready for bed," she said. "You coming up soon?"

"Just as soon as I finish here," Jane said. "You go and get into your sleeping bag." Daria nodded and went up.

Quinn thrust a needle into the surface of the material she was working on. "I think that will do me for now," she said. She rubbed her eyes, got up and stretched.

"You know, Quinn," Jane said, "you might be needing glasses soon, all things considered." She shook her head. "And people used to do that sot of thing for a living."

Quinn nodded. "Yep. And frequently in some pretty bad lighting. Poor eyesight was very much an occupational hazard." She went over to where Jane was sitting and looked over her shoulder. Jane was still working on her basic conceptual sketch based on the tableau she had seen at the table.

When Quinn saw what Jane had sketched, her eyes widened. Then, she covered her mouth to stifle her laughter. "God, Jane!" she said. "If Daria sees that she is going to kill you!"

"Only if she can catch me," Jane said. "I can still outrun her. Besides, I'm a favourite of the Great Goddess of Locomotion. She won't fail me if I have to call upon her." She finished roughing out her sketch and closed her sketchbook. "Well, I'm off to bed." She got up, went over to the front door and turned on the outside light. "Trent can find his way in," Jane said. "Or he could wind up sleeping with the rest of the band in the Tank." Quinn said nothing but simply shook her head. They both headed up the stairs, Jane shutting off the living room light as she went.

Heading down the hallway for the bathroom the saw Daria, in her sleeping attire, halted in front of the room that Rawlings was staying in. She looked as though she was listening to something.

Jane walked up to her and said in a stage whisper, "Daria, I haven't seen you this bad..."

"Jane, will you be quiet!" Daria frantically whispered. "Listen.!"

Jane shut up and listened. From inside of Rawlings' room floated the strains of a guitar and the sound of a smooth Southern-accented voice singing in a quite pleasant baritone.


When Rawlings had come up the stairs he had gone into the bathroom and made his preparations for bed.

When he entered his room, a surprise was waiting for him. There, leaning against the wall, was an acoustic guitar.

Rawlings came over to it and saw that there was a note attached to its neck. He took the note off the guitar and started reading it.


Something tells me that you may find this a way to relax before heading to bed. It's my old acoustic guitar. I've tuned it, so it should be ready to play.


Trent Lane.

Rawlings shook his head. He then picked up the guitar and went over to the sleeping platform. He sat down and started strumming the guitar, finding that it was in perfect tune. Unbidden, a tune came to him: one he had heard often, and knew quite well. He started playing it and soon, the words came to him as well:

The years creep slowly by, Lorena

The snow is on the grass again.

The sun's low down the sky, Lorena

The frost gleams where the flowers have been.

But the heart throbs on as warmly now

As when the summer days were nigh.

Oh, the sun can never dip so low

A-down affection's cloudless sky.

And as he sang the memories came rolling back.


Transfixed, Daria, Jane and Quinn stood outside Rawlings' door and listened to him sing. It wasn't just the sound of his voice, which carried the tune quite well that had affected them: it was also the feeling he was putting into the song.

A hundred months have passed, Lorena

Since last I held that hand in mine.

And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena

Though mine beat faster far than thine.

A hundred months...'twas flowery May

When up the hilly slope we climbed,

To watch the dying of the day

And hear the distant church bells chime.

We loved each other then, Lorena

More than we ever dared to tell.

And what we might have been, Lorena

Had but our loving prospered well.

But then, 'tis past, the years have gone

I'll not call up their shadowy forms:

I'll say to them, "Lost years, sleep on;

Sleep on, nor heed life's pelting storms."

The story of the past, Lorena

Alas! I care not to repeat.

The hopes that could not last, Lorena

They lived, but only lived to cheat.

I would not cause e'en one regret

To rankle in your bosom now:

"For if we try we may forget"

Were words of thine long years ago.

Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena

They are within my memory yet.

They touched some tender chords, Lorena

Which thrill and tremble with regret.

'Twas not the woman's heart which spoke

Thy heart was always true to me:

A duty stern and piercing broke

The tie which linked my soul with thee.

It matters little now, Lorena

The past is in the eternal past.

Our hearts will soon lie low, Lorena

Life's tide is ebbing out so fast.

There is a future, oh, thank God!

Of life this is so small a part.

'Tis dust to dust beneath the sod

But there, up there, 'tis heart to heart.

The guitar stopped. They could hear Rawlings move about inside the room. Then, the light shining through the crack underneath the door went out.

After a moment, Daria shook herself. "My God!" she breathed.

Jane nodded. "You speak for us both, amiga," she whispered.

Quinn still looked starstruck. "I see what Grandmas Morgendorffer and Barksdale were saying," she said. She looked at Daria. "That would be quite a catch for some lucky girl!"

Daria looked stonily at her sister. "I don't know what you're talking about" she flatly said. She looked at Jane. "I'll see you in your room." With that, she turned on her heel and went into Jane's room.

Jane turned to look at Quinn. "Well, I'd say that someone's touched a bit of a raw nerve here," she said.

"Yeah," Quinn said. She looked at Jane. "I'll make it up to her," she said.

"Yeah. Well, I'm to the bathroom and then to bed. Joining me?"

"Ew! Jane!" whispered Quinn. Jane smirked. "Oh, said Quinn. "You mean in the bathroom." Jane's smirk grew wider. Quinn realised what she had said and groaned. "You let me know when you're finished."

"Ok, Quinn," said Jane. They both went their separate ways.


That night, as he slept, the nightmares visited Rawlings once again.


He was standing on what was quite evidently a battlefield. In front of him was a smoke-shrouded line where, only moments earlier, two infantry regiments had gone in to attack the enemy's position.

He looked down at the sleeve of the uniform he was wearing. It was dark blue: the colour of his old Regular Army uniform, which he had taken off only a few years earlier. On his chin he could feel the strap that held his cap in place. He knew without looking that it was his old Regular Army cap, which was of the style that had seen service in Mexico and which had been replaced in the Service by the newer, French-style caps in 1860.

His hand rose up to where he should feel a shoulder strap that would denote his rank. Finding it there he felt the outline of an embroidered silver eagle on it. It then moved to the collar of his pre-1860 uniform. There, he felt three stars. Right, he thought to himself. I'm a colonel. That means that this must be sometime on the Peninsular. But when?

His attention was drawn by a voice calling out his name. "Colonel Rawlings!" it said. "Colonel!"

He looked over to where the voice was coming from. Running towards him was a young officer in one of the newer pattern uniforms. "Over here... Lieutenant!" he shouted. He could just make out the young officer's insignia on his collar.

The young officer raced up to him. "Colonel Rawlings, sir!" he said, snapping off a hasty salute as he did so.

Rawlings returned it. "Are we to go forward?" he asked. "Have you any orders from General Field?"

"Sir, General Field's down," said the young lieutenant. "So are the other two senior colonels. The brigade's yours."

Rawlings took a moment to absorb what the lieutenant had said. Then he turned to his second in command. "You heard, Tom?" he asked. Tom Jenkins nodded. "I'm turning the regiment over to you," Rawlings said. "When I give the signal, you'll lead the boys at the double-quick up to the firing line. You'll reinforce the 47th Virginia. I'll head over to Mallory and let him know what's happening."

Jenkins nodded. "Understood, sir," he said. Rawlings didn't wait for a salute. He was already racing across the front of his regiment and on to the centre of Mallory's 55th Virginia.

He saw Mallory standing in front of his boys, pacing impatiently up and down. Behind him, fluttering in the breeze, was one of the new-pattern battle-flags: a blue St. Andrew's cross outlined in white on a red field. The arms of the cross had thirteen stars positioned at regular intervals on it. Around the flag was an orange border When Mallory saw Rawlings come running up towards him he stopped and looked at him.

"Frank," Rawlings said. "Field's down. So's Brockenborough and Mayo. I've got the brigade."

Barnett nodded. "What do you want me to do, sir," he said.

"When I give the signal, move at the double-quick up behind Brockenborough's boys," Rawlings said. "Reinforce them. At my order we volley into the Federals and then charge them. Have your boys fix their bayonets. They may come in handy."

Barnett nodded. "Understood, sir," he said.

Rawlings turned towards the young lieutenant. "Son," he said, "what is your name?"

"Lieutenant Greggs, sir," said the youngster.

"Well, Greggs," said Rawlings, " we are about to make a charge on the enemy. You hear what I just said to Colonel Barnett?" The youngster nodded. "Go and repeat that to Lieutenant-Colonel Jenkins. He is to volley into the Yankees at my order and then charge home. Tell him to double check that the men are loaded and that they have their bayonets fixed. Understood?" The youngster nodded. "Good. Go."

As the youngster ran back to the 22nd Virginia Battalion Rawlings moved to a spot where he could be seen by the commanders of both regiments. Satisfied that they could see him, he drew his sword. He looked over towards where Jenkins was supposed to be and saw that Jenkins had received his instructions.

As the boy raced back to his side Rawlings raised his old US Army officer's sword above his head. "At the double-quick!" he bellowed in a voice that was pitched to be heard over the sounds of battle.

"At the double-quick!" came the answering voices of the regimental officers.

"March!" he bellowed. As soon as he had said the word he brought his sword down, resting the flat of the blade on his shoulder and the edge facing outwards, turned on his heel and ran off towards the firing line at a fast trot. Behind him he could hear the rattling of loose accoutrements that signified that both regiments were following him. Every so often he would turn around and shout out words of encouragement to the men following him.

As he got closer to the firing line he could hear the zip! of minie balls that had overshot the men in front of him. At this range they were largely spent. However they could still do some damage, as General Jackson could attest to: a spent bullet had broken his left hand at Manassas the previous year. Thank God the Federals have no artillery here, Rawlings thought. Their infantry is still enough to cause us some trouble, though.

All too soon he reached the firing line. Over to his left he could see a group of officers standing around a fallen figure. Must be Field, Rawlings thought. There was no time to see how his brigade commander was, though: he had a battle to fight.

As his supporting regiments came into line Rawlings could see the Federal line in front of him. It was not a formal fortification, but a hastily erected barricade from which men in the same blue he was wearing shot at men wearing uniforms in all sorts of shades. Most of those, however, were various shades of grey.

Rawlings halted and raised his sword. "Present!" he yelled. All the troops who had loaded weapons presented. "Fire!" he bellowed. As one the entire line belched flame and smoke, sending a wall of lead towards the Federal line.

Rawlings didn't wait for the smoke to clear. He pointed his sword at the federal line."Charge!" he bellowed. Ripping out the war-cry that was first heard at Manassas the whole brigade leapt forward as one. A ragged volley greeted them, dropping a few men here and there, but it didn't stop the grey-clad men as they swarmed over the makeshift field fortifications. Here and there clumps of blue-clad men resisted but soon enough they were swept away by the wild fury of the Confederate charge.

Rawlings knew he had to act quickly. If he left things too late his men would pursue the retreating Federal infantry: something that he could not allow. He had a lodgement in the Federal works and needed to consolidate it. "Rally on the breastworks!" he yelled out. "Don't pursue! Regimental commanders, rally your men on the breastworks!" Dimly he could hear regimental and company officers repeat his call to their men, trying to regain control over the exuberant Southerners.

Pain suddenly shot up his left arm. Looking at his left hand, he saw that a minie ball had grazed the back of it, doing enough damage to draw blood but not enough to disable it. He wondered when that had happened, flexed his hand to make sure it still worked, then dismissed it from his mind. The sleeves and skirts of his coat showed nicks where bullets had cut its cloth as neatly as a pair of scissors, but he ignored those. After all, he had to set an example to his men.

Rawlings looked in the direction of the nearest enemy units. He let his sword dangle from his right wrist by its sword knot, took out his field glasses and looked to the north. There was nothing there: he had hit the end of the federal line. He then looked to south-east, along the line of the enemy works. I hope that they're taken aback by what's happened here, he thought. That'll buy me time to organise a defence and to get a message off to divisional headquarters for support.


Daria Morgendorffer suddenly awoke form a deep sleep. She could hear someone shouting, but couldn't quite make out what it was they were saying.

She climbed out of her sleeping bag and went over to Jane's bed. Taking Jane by the shoulder, she shook her. "Jane!" she hissed. She shook her friend again. "Jane!"

Jane Lane turned over, opened her eyes and looked blearily at her best friend. "Mmm, wha' izzit?" she mumbled.

"Jane, I think there's somebody shouting outside," Daria said.

Jane sat up. "Wha?" she mumbled. "Wha' time izzit?" she asked. She looked over at her digital clock. "Daria, it's two in the morning," she said. "It's probably just some drunks going home. Or Trent and the band unable to get into the house."

Both girls jumped as a voice boomed out loud enough to be heard through the walls: "Rally on the breastworks! Don't pursue! Regimental commanders, rally your men on the breastworks!"

"What the...!" shouted Jane.

Daria grabbed her chest. She could feel her heart beating quite rapidly. "You took the words right out of my mouth," she said. As soon as she finished saying that a pounding began on Jane's bedroom door. Jane got out of bed and, going over to the door, opened it.

Quinn stood there. "Guys," she said, "I think there's something wrong with Richard."

"What makes you say that?" Jane asked. Rawlings' voice answered her question.

"Form up a line, boys!" it said. "Form up a line! This way! Face this way! We'll have plenty of bluebellies coming soon, so form up a line! 55th and 22nd Virginia face this way! 47th Virginia, left flank and face left! 40th Virginia in reserve! Move! Now!" It died away to a more conversational tone, but the undertone was firm, as if he was giving someone an order.

"Well, it sounds as if somebody's having a particularly vivid dream!" Jane said. She looked at the two Morgendorffer sisters.

"Don't look at me," Quinn said. "I have no idea what we should do!" Both she and Jane looked at Daria.

Daria sighed. "Well, I suppose we had better go in and check that he's ok," she said. She headed out the door and started for the door to Rawlings' room, feeling her way down the corridor, Jane and Quinn following. Every so often they could hear his voice. It sounded as if he was giving encouragement to someone, but the three girls couldn't quite make out who to.

Daria reached Rawlings' door. She knocked on it. "Richard?" she said. Hearing no reply, she knocked harder. "Richard!" she said louder. "Are you all right?" Receiving no reply, she placed her hand on the doorknob and looked at Jane and Quinn. "I don't know if we should just go in like this," she said. "I mean, we really have no idea just..." she trailed off, a faint blush creeping up her face.

Jane smirked. "Hey," she said. "He could be sleeping in the buff. It'd be a good chance for you to eye off the goods." Daria's blush grew more pronounced. She glared at Jane, but as she opened her mouth Rawlings called out again.

Daria made her decision. She opened the door and rushed in, almost tripping over the carpet. She managed to stop herself from falling over and looked at where Rawlings lay. Behind her, Jane and Quinn crowded in through the open door.

Rawlings lay underneath the covers. He was wearing one of his shirts which, evidently, could also double as a night shirt. He was tossing and turning on the sleeping platform. Every so often he would gesture with his right hand, as if he was holding something in it and bellow out either a command or some words of encouragement. Every so often he would put his left hand, cupped as though he was holding something in it, up to his eyes and look as though he was peering through something. Once he flinched, then grimaced and wiped his face with his left hand, as though he was wiping something off it. Still grimacing, he shook his left hand, and then moved his head from side to side, as though he was looking for something.

Concerned, Daria and Jane raced over and knelt by the bedside. Quinn stood by the door, hands on her mouth.

Daria reached out and grabbed Rawlings by the shoulder. "Richard?" she said.


He had sent Greggs off with a message to General Hill. "Tell General Hill that I've got a lodgement in the Federal lines," he said. "Tell him that I expect the Yankees to come against my position and that I am consolidating. Also, tell him that I will need support if I am to hold this lodgement." He looked at Greggs. "You got all of that, Lieutenant?"

Greggs nodded. "Yes, sir," he said.

"Good. Now go take that to General Hill. With my compliments." Greggs nodded and ran off.

Rawlings stood on top of the captured section of breastworks. He could see the men of his brigade doing what they could to give themselves some cover they could fight from behind. He raised his voice."Don't worry," he said. "General Hill will be sending us some help. 'Till then, we'll have to see the bluebellies off ourselves. I know we can do it: all you have to do is stand your ground, load and shoot." He looked at another of Field's staff officers who had come up to him. "Have you got the reports from the regimental commanders on ammunition levels?" he asked .

The officer, a captain, nodded. "Brigade average seems to be sixty rounds per man," he said. "We've been recovering ammunition from the wounded and dead. We've also recovered quite a few rifled muskets from the Federal wounded and dead: our boys have been picking them up and replacing their old smoothbores with them."

Rawlings nodded. "Tell them to hang onto their smoothbores," he said. "They may well come in handy before this day's over." He picked up his glasses in both hands, letting his sword hang by its sword knot from his right wrist and looked in the direction he expected the Federal counterattack to come.

Sure enough, he could see a dark mass in the distance, trailing a dust plume behind them. At least a brigade, he thought. Somebody's reacted quite fast on the Federal side. Moving his glasses further afield he could see the panorama of battle spread out before him. In it he could see other Confederate units engaged with Union brigades for a considerable distance.

He let his field glasses fall to hang from his neck by the strap and looked around his command. The thought came to him that perhaps he should have shortened his line in order to create a more compact defensive position. Too late now, he thought. We'll have to go with what we have here.

He turned to another staff officer. "You know where the brigade's ammunition reserves are?" he asked. The officer nodded. "I want you to go and get them to send us as much ammunition as possible. I have a feeling we'll be needing it." The officer saluted and ran off to do Rawling's bidding.

Rawlings looked around at his command. Damn it! he thought. I don't have the experience for this! Hell, before the war started the largest unit I commanded was a company. And even then, that was as a brevet captain in some God-forsaken post out West, facing Indians! And the unit was under strength to boot!

He could see that his men had by now built a surprisingly substantial line of field works. Not as firm, say, as proper breastworks, but enough to fight from behind. They had even cannibalised some of the Federal improvised works for their own. He could also see that his unit commanders had also thrown out skirmishers: something else he should have thought of. In addition, one out of every five men were warily watching the area beyond the line of improvised works.

Suddenly, the sound of shots came from the south-east: the direction he had seen the dark blue mass coming from through his glasses. "Sounds like there's Yankees a-comin', boys," said one soldier as he worked on the barricade.

"Yeah," said another, who was hauling some timber scavenged from the Federal works. "And they'll be as thick as fleas on an old hound dog."

Suddenly one of the sentries yelled out. "Here come the skirmishers!" he said. "And by the way they're running, they look as though Ol' Nick hisself is after them!"

Gripping the hilt of his sword in his right hand, and holding them in his left Rawlings looked through his glasses. Sure enough, he could see the skirmishers that had been thrown out to the south-east come pelting back. Astonishingly, some of them were managing to reload on the move, turn and fire back at their pursuers. He shifted his glasses and saw what was chasing his skirmishers: a skirmish line of men clad in the dark blue tunics of the Union Army.

They were moving up in textbook fashion, one pair covering the other as they leapfrogged forward. Behind them came a solid mass of dark blue: at least four Federal regiments moving in column of march. As he watched he saw the commander of the Federal brigade shake his men out into a textbook battle formation: two regiments in line of battle in front, supported by the other two in the rear. Behind them he could see more Federal troops moving up.

Rawlings lowered his glasses. At least two brigades, he thought. No artillery that I can see, but that won't last for long. He again looked through his glasses and saw that the lead brigade was moving forward. Behind it the other brigade was shaking itself out into a textbook formation as well.

As he lowered his glasses he made his decision. "Man the defences!" he yelled. As soon as he had spoken men dropped whatever they were doing and hunkered down as best as they could behind the improvised field works. He remained where he was, both in order to be able to see what was happening as well as a visual presence, reassuring his men by the example he was setting.

Soon the skirmishers had reached the defensive position. They fired a last few shots at the oncoming Federal troops and then scrambled over the barricade. Behind them came the Federals. They looked like an unstoppable blue tide. As they advanced, they gave three cheers.

Behind the improvised fortifications company officers and senior noncommissioned officers were giving reassurances and instructions to the men under their command Near where Rawlings stood one sergeant, who looked as though he had probably fought in Mexico, said "Just aim low and when you're told, pull the trigger. Then reload, aim low and pull the trigger. Keep doing that and you'll stop them bluebellies in their tracks."

Slowly the federals came on. As soon as they got within effective range, the company officers yelled out "Present... Fire!" A volley ripped into the oncoming wave of blue. Immediately the men began reloading.

The blue mass shuddered as the wave of lead hit it. It recoiled slightly, briefly halted, and then started moving forward again. In front the company commanders could be seen urging their men on. In the centre of the regimental lines floated a pair of flags: Old Glory and the regiments' own dark blue infantry colours. When they had reached the halfway mark, the Federals halted. They levelled their rifled muskets and their line disappeared behind a roiling fogbank of sulphurous smoke.

In the Confederate line men started to drop as the Federal fire reached them. An officer in front of Rawlings had his head explode in a mess of blood, brains and flesh as a minie ball took off the top of his skull. Some of it splashed Rawlings in the face, forcing him to blink. As soon as he realised what had happened he resisted the urge to throw up. Once he had his gorge under control, he reached up with his left hand and wiped the gore from his face. All up and down the line officers could be heard urging their men on.

Rawlings added his voice to theirs. "Pour it into them, boys!" he shouted out. "Pour it into them! That's the style, my boys: that's the style!" He picked up his glasses and looked through them at the Federal line. He could see that his men were inflicting severe damage on the Federals, who were standing in the open without the benefit of the rough fortifications his men were behind. The problem was that there were more Federal troops forming up behind them.

Suddenly he heard a strangely familiar female voice calling from a great distance. "Richard?" it said. Then, a little louder: "Richard!" He felt something grab him by the shoulder.


Rawlings' eyes suddenly opened. He shot upright in his bed, throwing Daria's hand off his shoulder and causing her to recoil just a bit. He stared ahead, sweating profusely, his eyes wide open and with a wild expression on his pallid face. His breathing was erratic, as though he had been under some great physical strain.

Daria looked at Jane, who was kneeling beside her. Jane's face wore a concerned expression mixed with some anxiety. Looking back at Rawlings, she hesitantly reached out to him. "Richard?" she said. "Are you all right?"

As she touched him on the shoulder Rawlings flinched away, causing Daria to rapidly retract her hand in fright. Rawlings looked around wildly, as if he had somehow become disorientated and was trying to get his bearings. Then, as he slowly realised where he was, his breathing began to ease and he visibly began to relax.

Not willing to touch him a third time, Daria said, "Richard? Are you all right?"

Daria's voice brought Rawlings out of his trance. He looked at Daria and Jane, who were kneeling beside his sleeping platform in their night wear. Beyond the, still standing at the open door, Quinn watched the proceedings, worry writ plain on her face.

Rawlings took a deep breath. He placed his hand over his eyes and slowly let it out. "I'm fine," he said. "Just a nightmare, that's all." He removed his hand from his eyes, looked down at his left hand and flexed it. "Just a nightmare."He slowly regained control over his breathing, but continued to look down at his left hand.

"Well, it must have been a pretty vivid nightmare," said Jane, a slight smile on her face. "You scared the dickens out of us!"

"Jane!" said Daria. Then her friend's expression registered. She looked at Rawlings, who to her eyes at least still seemed pretty shaken by the night's ordeal.

Rawlings looked up from his hand. He turned to face Daria and Jane. "Sorry about that," he said. A sheepish look came over his features. "I should have warned you that I get those at times." he said. "His face took on a more sombre cast. "It's just that it has been so long since I had one. I thought they had gone away for good." He looked away and smiled wryly. "Guess not."

"Do you think you'll be able to get back to sleep?" Daria asked.

Rawlings turned his head back towards them and shook it. "No," he said. "If I do, the damned thing will just simply come back." He moved to get out of the sleeping platform and Daria and Jane both got up and moved out of his way. As he got off the platform the three girls could see that the hem of his shirt reached down to his knees, but was split at the side up to just below his hips.

Rawlings looked at the three girls in his room. "If you don't mind," he said, "I'll put on a pair of trousers and go down and make myself some coffee. Then I'll just sit up and wait for daybreak." He looked at Jane. "Is it all right if I let myself out to go and get a newspaper?"

Jane nodded. "Just leave the door unlocked," she said. "It isn't that far a walk to the green from here."

Rawlings slowly nodded. "A constitutional might do me some good," he said, "after tonight's horrors." He again looked at the three. "You all go on back and try to get some sleep." he said. "No use all of us staying up over this." The three girls looked at each other and then went back out into the hallway, with Daria closing the door behind them.

Outside Rawlings room the three of them stopped. "I wonder what that was all about?" asked Jane.

"Yeah," said Quinn. "That was a pretty vivid nightmare." She looked back at the door to Rawlings' room. "I wonder if there's something he's not letting on?"

Daria looked over her shoulder at Rawlings' door and then cocked her head down the hall. "Not here," she said. The other two looked at her for a moment before comprehension kicked in. Thy then nodded and the three of them headed for Jane's room.

As soon as all three were in Jane's room Daria closed the door. She then went over to where she had put her glasses. Picking them up and putting them on, she turned to the other two. "What do you make of what happened?" she asked.

Jane shrugged. "Richard had a nightmare," she said. "It happens."

Daria frowned. "Yeah," she said. "But that sounded as though it was more than a nightmare." She folded her arms and looked down. "It sounded more like what's called a combat flashback."

"A what?" asked Quinn.

"A combat flashback," Daria said. "Sometimes combat veterans, especially if they're suffering post traumatic stress syndrome, will have an involuntary flashback to an incident in a battle they were involved in." She looked at Quinn. "I sometimes wonder if that could have been at the seat of Dad's troubles with Grandpa Morgendorffer, and that it helped to poison his relationship with his children."

"And daddy's trying not to pass the damage onto us," Quinn said. She looked thoughtful. "Now that you mention it, yeah," she said. She looked at Daria. "But that doesn't explain what happened to Richard."

"They sometimes happen during sleep," Daria said. "Then, they manifest as particularly realistic dreams. Or, rather, nightmares. They're back in the battle that planted the seed for the flashback." She looked at the closed door. "But I wonder what kind of battle he was involved in for that particular flashback to occur."

"Oh, Daria," Quinn said. "We both know he's seen some kind of fighting. Maybe he was in the Green Berets or something like that."

Daria turned back to face Quinn. "Green Berets don't deploy in regiment-sized teams," she said. "They tend to deploy in five to ten man outfits, depending on the mission. But he sounded like he was directing four regiments. And every one of them had a title that indicated that they had been raised by a state. A Southern state."

Jane shrugged. "Perhaps he has seen combat," she said. "Perhaps his subconscious combined whatever experiences he had with whatever his ancestor wrote about in his diaries and produced that nightmare."

"Yeah," said Quinn. "That's probably it, Daria. He's combined some aspects of his own experiences with whatever he's read." She looked from Daria over to Jane and back. "Anyway," she said, "I'm going back to bed to see what sleep I can get." She went over to the door, opened it and walked out, closing it after her.

Jane looked at Daria. "You know," she said, "Quinn has the right idea. Just see if we can get back to sleep." She looked at the door. "You gotta feel for Richard, though," she said. "Not being to go back to sleep because of the possibility his nightmare will come back."

Daria looked thoughtful. "I don't know," she said. Then she shook her head. "You're right, Jane," she said. "It's probably nothing." She took off her glasses, placed them on Jane's dresser and got back into her sleeping bag.

"See you when it's daylight," Jane said. As soon as she had spoken she rolled over and went back to sleep.

No matter how hard she tried, though, Daria couldn't go to sleep. She tossed and turned, her mind mulling over what had happened. Finally, she sighed, got out of her bag, went over to Jane's dresser and put her glasses on. Making sure she did not wake Jane, she opened the door and slipped out, closing it quietly behind her.


Rawlings sat in the darkened living room. The only light source was coming in from the kitchen, throwing an elongated yellowy rectangle onto the floor.

When he came down the stairs he had walked into the kitchen and had put on a pot of coffee,

mixing it to the strength he preferred. While it percolated he had gone into the living room to sit down on the couch. He had not turned on the TV and sat in the darkened room. His eyes stared ahead at a vista only he could see.

He heard footsteps pad down the stairs. Without turning his head he said, "Who's there?"His voice had a somewhat distant quality to it.

A flat, semi-monotone alto replied. "It's just me, Richard," said Daria. She walked up to the couch and stood at the end, looking at Rawlings staring off into the distance. "Have I come at a bad time?" she asked.

Rawlings shook himself. He then looked up at Daria. "No," he said. "No, you haven't." He indicated the end of the couch. "Sit down." he said.

Daria sat down on the end of the couch. She drew her legs up underneath her and leaned against the back. "Do you want to talk?" she asked.

Rawlings smiled. Despite the stoic, sarcastic facade she presented against the world, it was clear to him that this young woman deeply cared about people. Especially people she had taken into her life. Jane, Quinn, her family, despite the things she said about them. Deep down she genuinely cared about them

And those people now included a particular Virginian named Richard John Rawlings.

He shook his head. "No," he said. "But thank you for asking. It's just..." He looked away and blew his breath out through his moustache. "It's just... Just that you wouldn't really understand." He looked at Daria. "Intellectually you might, but..." he trailed off.

Daria nodded. "I understand," she said. "I'd have had to experience something similar to what you have to be able to understand it." She looked off to one side. "It must have been bad, though, for it to cause nightmares." She grimaced. "And I've just shoved my foot right down my throat, haven't I?"

Rawlings smiled. "But thanks for trying to understand," he said. He frowned slightly. "Shouldn't you be trying to get some sleep?" he asked.

"I should," Daria said, "but I found that I couldn't go back to sleep."

"Ah," said Rawlings. "May I ask why?"

Daria froze at that question. After a moment, she said, "I suspect that it was because I was... concerned about someone who had just suffered a nightmare." She looked at him. "Someone who couldn't get back to sleep because that nightmare, or one like it, could return."

Rawlings examined Daria. Her features were hard to see as she was silhouetted against the light coming out of the kitchen, but he could see her outline. From observing her throughout the day he had come to realise that the key to finding out what she was thinking (or, for that matter, feeling) was through reading her body language rather than the stoic, expressionless facade she presented with her face. If one concentrated they could also figure out what she was thinking by listening to her voice, despite the semi-monotone she affected. But reading her body language was the key to really figuring out Daria Morgendorffer.

And I've had plenty of experience in reading body language, Rawlings thought. His face took on a slightly sorrowful expression as he looked at her. I just hope you never have to go through the same school I did in learning how to read a person's body language. He could see that his question had alarmed her. And that her brutal honesty, even to herself, as well as her formidable intellect, had forced her to give the answer she had given him.

A thought struck him as he sat there examining the young woman in front of him. She does remind me of Emma, he thought. She, too, had the same intellect, as well as the same streak of honesty about herself. No glasses, though. But that was long ago, he mentally chided himself, and besides, the wench is dead. Only Emma was no wench: she was a fine New England Yankee lady. Another thought crossed his mind. My sister was also very much like her.

He saw that his continued silence was beginning to unnerve her. I had best reassure her, he thought."Daria," he said, "It's all right to care about people. It's even all right to show people how much you care about them. It's a part of being human."

Daria thought about what Rawlings had said. Dammit! she thought. Why does he keep making these good points? Is it something to do with his past? Or is it simply because he is somewhat older, has had more life experiences, is well educated, obviously highly intelligent and makes every guy I have ever known seem like a stripling when compared to him? Despite herself, she put her hand on her brow as soon as she realised where that line of thought was leading her. Oh, God! she thought to herself. This is Trent all over again! Except Richard and Trent are so far apart it's really impossible to compare the two!

She removed her hand from her brow and did her best not to let her confused emotions and thoughts show themselves to the man who sat at the other end of the couch watching her with shadowed eyes of his own. Eyes that she realised she had read about: the eyes of someone who had seen too much at too young an age.

Eyes that had seen people die in unspeakable ways.

I've always read about those sort of eyes, she thought. But seeing them in real life: that's completely different. No amount of reading can prepare one for the reality of those prematurely aged eyes.

Daria started as Rawlings spoke. "Penny for your thoughts?" he asked.

Daria smiled at Rawlings' question. "That's overpricing them at the moment," she said.

"All right then," Rawlings said. A grin split his face. "Would you accept a shinplaster for them?"

"Shinplaster? Why would anybody offer me a piece of medical bandaging for my thoughts?"

Rawlings smiled. "It's an old nickname for a Confederate dollar bill," he said. "Or, any Confederate bill of any denomination, come to that. They were so useless as currency that people reckoned they were more use as shinplasters."

"Hence the nickname," Daria said. "That might still be overvaluing my thoughts at present." A slightly awkward silence fell over them. It was broken by the sound of the percolator in the kitchen announcing that it had finished making a pot of coffee.

Rawlings got up. "Sounds like the coffee's ready," he said. He faced Daria. "You want a cup?"

Daria thought for a moment, and then shook her head. "No, but thanks all the same," she said. "It's not that I don't trust your coffee-making skills, but..."

"The way I make it is stronger than you're used to," Rawlings finished for her. "I understand completely." With that, he walked into the kitchen.

As Daria heard him rattling about in the kitchen she began to examine her thoughts about Rawlings. However, while she was doing this she soon ran into something that shift workers, partygoers and students pulling all-nighters all know about: a wave of tiredness so physical that it very soon feels as though you have hit a brick wall. Despite her best efforts she soon found herself drifting off to sleep.

Rawlings came back in with a mug of coffee. As soon as he made to sit back down on the couch he saw that Daria had finally succumbed to sleep. Her head had tilted forwarded and her glasses were about to fall off and land on her lap. He thought that she looked so vulnerable and angelic sitting there like that.

He put his coffee down on the coffee table in front of the couch. Then he reached over and very carefully picked the sleeping young woman up in his arms. She made a small disturbance as he did so, but soon settled down. Still moving carefully he quietly carried her up the stairs. At the top he paused for a moment. Then, having made his decision he quietly walked down the corridor to the room he was using.

Carefully, he pushed open the partially closed door. Then, not pausing to turn on the light, he let his eyes adjust to the dim interior of the room. Once that had been achieved he went over to the sleeping platform and placed the by now deeply slumbering Daria in the bed he had been sleeping in. He covered her with the sheets, and then, hesitating for a moment, he gently removed her glasses, folded them and put them on top of the dresser. He hesitated again for a moment, and them ever so gently, he brushed her hair off of her forehead and, bending over, gently brushed her forehead with a kiss. He then got up and exited the room, making sure that the door was closed gently behind him.

In the darkened room Daria smiled in her sleep.


As dawn lit up the sky over Lawndale Rawlings let himself out of the house, remembering to leave the door unlocked. As he turned around he saw a large black van parked in the driveway behind his car. He walked over to it and peered in through the back window. Inside he saw Jane's brother and his bandmates sleeping in the back compartment. He mentally debated waking them up, but soon decided against it. Consulting his map of Lawndale he started heading off in the direction of the centre of town.

As he walked he looked around. Lawndale appeared to him like any of the other suburban centres that had sprung up around Frederick in response to the even more rapid urban growth in the corridor that ran from Washington all the way to New York City. However, he was soon seeing the area with other eyes, and mentally comparing the differences between what his external eyes could see and what his internal vision was telling him. Soon he reached the green in the centre of town.

He looked around. The centre was pretty deserted, with only a few people out jogging. Watching them, he shook his head. I did enough walking when I was in uniform, he thought to himself. Still do a fair bit, as a matter of fact. But then I don't need to go running: did enough of that, too. He snorted to himself. Anyway, all the riding I do helps keep me fit. Looking from side to side, he crossed the road and started heading across the green.

He soon found the newsagent. He went in and, after looking around, walked up to where the newspapers were stacked. As he was looking at the newspapers he heard a voice asking: "Can I help you, bub?"

Rawlings looked up. "Do you have any Richmond newspapers?" he asked.

"You mean, as in Richmond, Virginia?" asked the attendant. Rawlings nodded. "Sorry, can't help you there," he said. "Closest we've got are the Washington Post, the Washington Times and the New York Times. Plus our own esteemed local rag."

Rawlings nodded. "I'll take a copy of the Post, the New York Times and the local paper, then," he said. Reaching down he picked up a copy each of the Washington Post and New York Times, and hesitated over the Sun-Herald. "This one the local paper?" he asked. The attendant nodded. Rawlings picked them up and handed over a ten dollar bill. "Keep the change," he said.

The attendant smiled. "Thanks!" he said.

As Rawlings turned to go a thought struck him. Turning back he said "Can you tell me if there is a laundry or a dry-cleaner open today?"

The attendant nodded. "One over by the shopping mall."

"Is that Cranberry Commons?" Rawling asked. The attendant nodded. "Thanks," Rawlings said and placed a quarter on the counter. The attendant grinned and took it. Rawlings nodded and exited the shop. Looking around, he re-crossed the road, headed back across the green (nodding a greeting to the statue as he passed it) and started to head back to the Lane residence.


The alarm clock's buzzing woke Jane from a deep, peaceful slumber. She reached out and hit the button killing the alarm. Slowly she got up, rubbed her eyes and looked blearily around the room.

Her eyes fell on Daria's empty sleeping bag. Hmmm , she thought. Daria up before me? And during holidays? What's wrong with this picture? She got up, put on her jogging gear and went down into the living room. There was no sign of Rawlings, but she could still smell the scent of the coffee he had made earlier on coming out of the kitchen.

She went in and saw that he had left the coffee pot on a low heat setting on the electric range. Nearby was a note. Jane went up and read it.

Jane and Daria:

I left you some coffee for when you wake up. Hopefully it won't be too strong for you: I topped up the water before heading out to get a paper. How do you feel about bacon, eggs and sausages for breakfast?

Back soon.


Jane raised her eyebrows as she read. Hmmm, she thought. Bacon, eggs and sausages for breakfast. Could be just the thing after a run. She looked at the coffee pot gently simmering away on the range. I know he likes it pretty strong, she thought. Then, shrugging, she reached for a clean mug, picked up the pot and poured herself a mug. She stirred in her usual sugar and then took a sip.

The coffee was rich and dark. Suddenly her eyes shot wide open as the caffeine hit her system. Gasping she quickly put it down. My GOD! she thought. That'd keep Trent up through the day and well into the night! She eyed the mug. Definitely strong enough to float an iron wedge! She finished her coffee and, after rinsing out the mug, she headed out the door.

She paused when she saw the Tank parked in the driveway behind Rawlings' car. I'd better get them to move it, she thought. She went up to the back of the van and looked in through the rear windows, smirking as she saw the band fast asleep in the back. An idea hit her and she went back into the house, reemerging later with a thermos flask and some plastic mugs. An evil smirk was on her face.

She went up to the side door and banged loudly on it. From inside there came a scream of "Honest, Officer! This is my place, really!" before the door opened and a somewhat dishevelled Trent appeared.

"Oh, it's you, Janey," he said. "What is it?"

Jane indicated Rawlings' car. "You guys might want to move the Tank so that Richard can get his car out later on," she said. She handed him a plastic mug. "Hold this." Trent took hold of the mug and Jane poured him a drink of coffee.

Trent inhaled the aroma. "Hmm," he said. "Smells good."

Jane's smirk grew even more evil as she saw Trent take a sip. "It'll do you a world of good," she said. Trent said nothing but continued to drink the coffee. Then, suddenly his half-closed eyes widened in shock as the caffeine hit his system. He dropped the plastic mug, spilling the coffee onto the ground. Jane could almost swear that his hair stood on end, so great was the shock.

Gasping, Trent said, "What was that?"

"Some of Richard's coffee," Jane said. "He made up a pot. There's plenty more where that came from," she continued, holding up the thermos. She indicated the Tank. "You don't suppose the band would like some?"

Trent shuddered. "It might kill them," he said. "On the other hand, I haven't felt this wide awake in years!" He looked at the sky. "And this early, too." Suddenly he grinned.

Turning around, he stuck his head into the Tank and nudged a sleeping form. "Hey," he said. "Janey's brought us some coffee. Want some?"


As Rawlings walked back down Howard Drive he saw the large black van that had been parked behind his car suddenly reverse out of the driveway and speed off in the opposite direction. From inside could be heard the sound of three voices singing something at high speed.

Rawlings shook his head as he approached Casa Lane. Wonder what caused that? he thought to himself. Then, as he turned to go up the footpath he saw Jane out in front, dressed in her jogging gear and doing some stretches. "You also one of those early morning maniacs?" Rawlings said as he approached.

Jane straightened up and smirked at Rawlings. "I was on the track team in school for a while," she said, "and kinda got the taste for it then. Besides, it helps keep the results of too much junk food and a fairly sedentary lifestyle at bay." She looked at Rawlings. "How do you keep yourself fit?" she asked.

"Usually horse riding," Rawlings said. "Or, if there are no horses or hacking trails about, a morning and an evening stroll." Plus the aftereffects of having been half-starved for about four years while marching twenty or so miles in a day. But you don't need to know about that.

"Hmmm," Jane said. "I don't know if there are any stables about here, but the idea of an evening stroll does sound inviting." She grinned. "I'm quite sure Daria will agree." She looked about. "Isn't she with you? She wasn't in her sleeping bag when I got up."

Rawlings smiled. "She came down last night and sat with me for a while. Said something about being concerned."

Jane's eyes widened. "Wow!" she said. "Coming from Daria that is something!" She grinned slightly. "I take it you have observed that she's not too big on opening herself up to people?"

Rawlings smiled. "I had noticed that, yes," he said. "But I have also noticed that her body language does give her away at times." He looked away for a moment. "You kind of learn how to read people when you've... done what I've done." He looked back at Jane. "I'm not proud of what I have done in the past," he said, "but I am proud of having served."

Jane raised her hands in a woah! gesture. "Hold on there, tiger!" she said. "I wasn't about to cast aspersions on your service! No way! Besides, you don't seem to be like any chickenhawk I've had the misfortune to encounter in Boston."

"I take it you've met a few?" Rawlings said. "And you, shall we say, find them... contemptible?"

"You could say that," Jane said. "But that doesn't answer my other question: if Daria isn't with you, and she isn't in her sleeping bag, then where did she go?"

"She fell asleep on the couch when I went into the kitchen to get my coffee," Rawlings said. "When I came out I saw her huddled up, asleep. So I picked her up, carried her upstairs and put her in my bed. Then I came back down and sat in the living room."

Jane's eyes widened at Rawlings' information. Then, a wicked grin crossed it. "So, since she wasn't up when I came down stairs..." She looked at the house and then, quite suddenly, went back in. Puzzled, Rawlings followed her into the house. Throwing the papers onto the couch, he saw Jane go up the stairs. Still puzzled, he followed Jane.

Jane stopped outside the door to Rawlings' room. Placing her hand on the doorknob, she quietly opened it and peered in. All of a sudden, Rawlings realised what she was about to do. "Jane," he said, "I haven't known the pair of you for long, but from what I do know of Daria, she will kill you if you..."

"She'll issue a death threat, yes," Jane said. "But she won't do anything. Well, nothing too drastic." With that, Jane crept into the room. She crept up to the sleeping platform and, grinning wickedly, knelt down. In front of her Daria slept peacefully. A small smile was on her face.

Jane took a hold of Daria's shoulder and gently shook her. "Wakey-wakey, Daria."

Daria stirred and slowly opened her eyes. She looked around, slightly disorientated. She turned and saw the blurred outline of Jane's face. "Jane, where am I?" she asked. "This certainly doesn't look like your room. Or the living area."

Jane's grin grew even more wicked. "Well," she said, "I can truthfully say that last night you finally wound up in somebody else's bed."

Daria's eyes widened in shock as the meaning of Jane's words sank in. She sat bolt upright. "I what?" she shouted.

"You wound up in somebody else's bed," Jane said. "But it's no biggie: apparently you fell asleep on Richard. So, to avoid you waking up with a crick in your neck, he brought you up here and put you in his bed for the night. So you could say..."

"Jane, you finish that sentence and it's the bridesmaid's dress for you," Daria said. She looked around for something. "Now where are my glasses?"

Rawlings had by now come up to the pair. He picked up Daria's glasses from where he had placed them and gave them to her. "Sorry about that," he said as Daria put them on. "I just thought..."

"It's not your fault that Jane had her mind permanently in the sewer," Daria said. She glared at her friend. "Or that she enjoys humiliating her best friend."

Rawlings tapped Jane on the shoulder. "Well, to avoid any further humiliation on your part," Rawlings said, "I would suggest that Jane and I let you go back to her room and get changed." He looked at Jane. "Comprende?"

Jane grinned back. "Si, Senor Rawlings." With that they both got up and walked out of the room. Daria waited until the pair of them had gone down the hall before coming out of Rawlings' room. Looking both ways, she slipped down the hall towards the bathroom.

Looking in the bathroom mirror, she thought: So Richard carried me up and put me in his bed, eh? Wonder why he did that? She shook her head. Probably just being his usual, considerate self. I have to admit one thing, though: Quinn's right. He would make a great catch for some lucky girl. But somehow I doubt that's going to be me. She eyed her reflection. No, Daria, you're going to wind up all by yourself with only a cat for company. Perish the thought that somebody like Richard Rawlings would be interested in a mousey, plain girl like you! Besides, he'll soon be out of your life forever, so stop mooning over what you can't have!

"Pull yourself together, Morgendorffer," she muttered to her reflection.


Breakfast at Casa Lane that morning was both a relaxed affair and notable for a couple of extraordinary events.

The first event of note was that Trent was actually up. When Daria commented on this Jane said, "You can thank Richard's coffee. It also woke the band up. I'm actually going to keep a track on how long he stays up for." She paused in thought. "It's actually quite good coffee," she said. "A bit strong, but good."

Looking at Trent's wide-awake features, Daria mused "I wonder if we can get the recipe from him so we can use it up in Boston?"

"I should also mention that Trent and I had it after Richard had watered it down," Jane said.

Daria's eyes widened. Then, she shuddered. "How can one get used to coffee that strong without it eating through your intestinal lining?" she asked.

Rawlings answered. "Long and cold nights on piquet duty," he answered. "Especially in winter."

Daria turned around at Rawlings' voice. A faint tinge of pink appeared on her cheeks. "I didn't know you were standing there," she quietly said.

Rawlings smiled. "No problem," he said. "It's an acquired taste. Or habit, whichever you prefer." He moved around the two and went to sit in an armchair. "Newspaper?" he asked Daria. "We might as well have a read while Jane's out on her run." He looked at Jane. "I somehow have a feeling that she won't want to run on a full stomach."

Jane smirked. "I'm only going to have a short run this morning," she said. "Your breakfast suggestion is just a little too tempting to resist."At Daria's querying look, she added. "Richard has suggested bacon, eggs and sausages for breakfast: a good workman-like meal, I should say."

"You might want to fry some bread in the bacon grease," Rawlings said. "We used to do that when out on a long march."

"I thought that in the modern Army you rode about in vehicles," Daria said.

"Not really," Rawlings said. "Sometimes you have to walk where you're going." Especially if there's no other way of getting there, thanks to enemy raiders. Or, sometimes, your own.

"Makes sense to me," Jane said. "I mean the Army still does five mile runs first thing in the morning. Or so I heard." She went out the door. "And that's my cue to go for my own run," she said. "I'll fix breakfast when I get back." With that, she was off.

Daria heard Rawlings chuckle. "Never would have picked her for a morning maniac," he said. He looked at Daria. "I presume you share lodgings with her in Boston?" he asked.

Daria smiled and nodded. "She does the same thing up there," she said. "Even in winter, which is not as mild as it is down here." Rawlings just shook his head and went back to reading a newspaper.

Daria eyed Rawlings, noting that he was lean and fit. "I take it you don't run?" she asked.

Rawlings looked up over his paper. "No, I don't," he said. "What prompted that question?"

"Just wondering how you keep yourself so lean and fit," Daria said.

"Jane asked the same question," Rawlings said. "My answer was that I ride a lot, plus I also have a morning and evening constitutional. I did my constitutional this morning when I went to get the papers."

"You ride?" Daria said. "Bicycles?"

"Horses," Rawlings said. Daria nodded and went back to her paper.

Not long after Jane came back and had showered, another notable thing happened. Quinn had come down stairs after freshening up and had asked what smelled so good.

"Breakfast," Jane said. "Don't know if you want any though: it's eggs, bacon, sausages and bread toasted in bacon grease."

To Jane and Daria's surprise, Quinn said "Give me a plate. For some reason I'm feeling particularly hungry today. I'll also have some of that coffee too."

Jane raised and eyebrow and looked at Daria. Equally nonplussed, Daria shrugged and poured Quinn a mug. "It's your funeral," she said, passing it over to Quinn. "But aren't you afraid that all the fat in the bacon and sausages will ruin your complexion?"

Quinn shrugged. "What's life without a couple of indulgences every now and then?" she said. "Besides, if I'm going to be living in Boston over the next few years I'd better get used to this kind of breakfast. Especially if I'm going to survive the winters there." Her eyes widened as the caffeine hit her system. "God!" she choked. "That's going to keep me going by itself."

Daria smirked. "Want some more?" she asked.

Quinn shuddered. "Thanks, but no thanks," she said. "This one mug's going to do me for now." She looked at Jane. "Do you have any fruit juice in the house? And is that the sort of coffee you drink at college? I'd like to know so I have some advance warning."

Jane smirked. "There's juice in the 'fridge," she said. "And no, the coffee we have isn't that strong. Richard made it earlier this morning. He also watered it down for us to be able to handle. However, we are thinking of getting the recipe for it off him: it could come in handy during an all-night study session."

Quinn got up and headed for the refrigerator. "I could see where that could come in handy," she said as she got the juice out. "Come to think of it, Stacy and me could have used some when we were studying, especially for our finals." She reached for a glass and poured herself some juice. "You know," she said, sitting down at the table, "you could make some money out of coffee that strong."

"Yeah," said Daria. "And then lose it all when the lawsuits for all the heart failures due to caffeine overdose come in. Besides, I don't think you can legally sell something with that much caffeine in it unless you're a pharmacist filling a script."

"Hey!" said Rawlings, affecting indignation. "I've been drinking coffee that's much stronger than the dishwater you're drinking for years. Hasn't done me any harm at all."

"Yeah," said Jane, "but you were in the Army for, what was it, eight years? You've had plenty of time to build up an immunity."

"I cannot argue with that kind of logic, Jane," Rawlings said. "I surrender to your blazing intellect." Jane smirked and gave a slight bow.

"Well, anyway, the coffee's going to cut through the grease in this breakfast," Quinn said. "The juice will then dilute the coffee in my bloodstream."

"Why, Quinn!" said Jane. "You are really proving yourself to be Daria's sister, aren't you?" At Rawlings' raised eyebrow Jane explained. "For much of our time in highschool Quinn here told everyone that Daria was her cousin. That was largely due to her being in a fashion club."

Quinn snorted. "Please don't remind me," she said. "I was a stuck-up little monster. At least that realisation was something I gained from the whole David fiasco! Plus, just being around you two has made me realise just what I missed out on. At least I also managed to salvage a good friendship out of the whole Fashion Club episode."

Rawlings looked from one young lady to another. "Something tells me I may regret asking for more information on this particular affair," he said.

Quinn shrugged. "Nothing to say, really," she said. "I just got told that I was wasting my mind on unimportant stuff, really. Oh, and had my first really big crush on an older guy. But he was something of a jerk, so no real loss there. Besides, I'm looking forward to meeting some of the guys at Boston." She looked at Daria and Jane. "They just have to be better than the boys at Lawndale High!"

Jane looked at Daria. "She does have a point there," she said. "Even the jocks at Raft are better than the usual run-of-the-mill jocks we knew at good ol' Lawndale High."

"But then, there are the jocks," Daria said. She looked at Quinn. "Think Kevin Thompson," she said, "but with a few more IQ points. Plus better access to alcohol."

"Ew!" Quinn shuddered. "Point them out to me so I can avoid them." She attacked her breakfast with gusto. "Not bad," she said. "I have to compliment you on your cooking, Jane. This is better than... well, saying that this is better than breakfast at home isn't really saying much, all things considered. But still..."

Jane waived the comment off. "Trust me, I understand completely," she said. "But thanks, anyway."

Rawlings put his knife and fork on his cleaned plate and pushed it forwards. "Thank you, Jane," he said. "That was a nice breakfast. I must say I liked the way you had the scrambled eggs with chopped parsley and the bacon mixed together on a platter in the centre of the table, with the sausages off to one side. Quite imaginative."

"Well, I decided that, being an artist and all, why not make something as pedestrian as this sort of a meal usually is, well, decorative," Jane said.

Rawlings nodded. "If you don't mind, I might steal that idea for breakfasts at Mount Folly," he said. "I might even suggest it to the staff at the Powhatan in Richmond." I could even see this taking off at White House as well.

Jane beamed. "Thanks!" she said. "Of course you can steal it! Just so long as you credit me with the idea. 'Bacon and Eggs a la Lane'," she smirked.

"As you wish,"Rawlings said. He wiped his lips with a paper napkin and got up. "If you ladies will excuse me," he said, "I had better go and get ready for today's activities. I have to make a small detour on the way to the library to put my good clothes in to be cleaned. I was told that there's a cleaner's open today next to Cranberry Commons." He exited the room.

Daria turned to Quinn. "That reminds me," she said. "We've got that family dinner tonight. I just hope that things have improved since yesterday."

Quinn swallowed a mouthful of juice before she answered. "Don't worry, Daria," she said. "From the way he had our grandmothers acting I think that things will be all right."

"Daria was telling me a bit about that yesterday," Jane said as she sat down. "What exactly happened?"

"Jane, it was incredible," Quinn said. "Richard had both Grandma Barksdale and Grandma Morgendorffer acting like... well, like starstruck schoolgirls!" She giggled. "Mom did try to intercept him, y'know, like, play the prosecuting lawyer, but he did an end run right 'round her and went straight for our grandmothers! Once he had them in the palm of his hand there was nothing she could do about it!"

Daria nodded. "Yeah," she said. "And even when Grandma Barksdale chided Mom for 'forgetting her manners' Richard immediately defended her, saying that he was to blame for 'upsetting her arrangements,' or words to that effect. And he even had Amy impressed with him." She glared at Quinn. "And no, you didn't have to 'warn her off Richard.' I think he would have been capable of handling her quite well enough, thank you."

"I don't disagree with that, Daria!" Quinn smirked. "It's just..."

"Remember what I said about fratricide, Quinn!" Daria said. "I'm sure I can find a pink taffeta dress to put you in beside Jane in the bridesmaid outfit." She got up from the table. "If you'll excuse me, I had better go see about the situation at home." She looked at Jane. "Can I use the 'phone?"

Jane nodded. "Always, amiga. I'll just start cleaning up in here. Then I'll meet you in the living room." Daria nodded and exited the kitchen area.

Jane turned to Quinn. "Y'know," she said, "Daria's right." At Quinn's puzzled expression she continued: "You have become more of a person. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better, Quinn Morgendorffer." She held out her hand.

Quinn smiled and took it. "And I look forward to catching up," she said. Then she smirked. "Especially cutting a swathe through Boston college society."

"Oh, I don't think that'll be too much of a worry," Jane said. "Besides, I could use your help."

"You want a makeover?" Quinn asked.

"No, I like my look thank you," Jane said. "But I think I could use your help with getting my flatmate to go out a bit more often."

"Your flatmate... Oh! You mean Daria!" Quinn grinned. "I take it you have a motive for wanting her out of your apartment at, shall we say, an inconvenient moment?"

Jane blushed slightly. "Yeah, you could say so," she said. "It's hard trying to stay quiet in an apartment that's been converted from a Victorian-era townhouse. Especially when the walls aren't all that thick to begin with."

Quinn smirked. "I think I might be able to help," she said. "Seriously, though, I want to get to know my sister better. So as to avoid what's happened between Mom and my aunts." Her smirk grew wider. "But I'll expect a little help in exchange. Y'know, meeting guys and stuff."

Jane's grin grew wider. "I think we can arrange that," she said.


As Quinn and Jane came into the living room they found Daria sitting on the couch shaking her head in a very bemused fashion.

"Ok," said Quinn. "So tell me: what disaster has happened at home? If we're going back there for dinner tonight I'd like to be prepared for whatever combat zone we're going to walk into."

Daria looked at Quinn. "That's the weird thing," she said. "Both Grandma Barksdale and Grandma Morgendorffer have drafted Dad, Aunt Rita and Amy to go shopping. And according to Mom they spent a fair bit of last night actually planning what we're going to have for dinner. It looks like it's going to be another baked meal."

Quinn stood there, a stunned look on her face. "You're kidding," she said, sitting down in an armchair. Then she saw the look on her sister's normally inexpressive face. "No, I take that back," she said. "You're not kidding." Slowly, Quinn started to shake her head. "How did he do it?" she asked.

"From what I gather both Mom and Amy are asking themselves the same question," Daria said. "Only Amy commented that our grandmothers are acting like 'giggling debutants.' They are actually excited we've got company for dinner." She frowned slightly. "And, no doubt they're planning on seeing if they can somehow add Richard to the family. Which could cause hostilities to break out again."

"Well, I think I'm safe in saying that I'm out of the calculations," Quinn said. "After all, I'm only eighteen and he's obviously too old for me. And I'd say that Aunt Rita's out of the question as well. She doesn't really strike me as Richard's type. Which leaves only two eligible women in the Barksdale-Morgendorffer clan for consideration, and I think Amy would tell Grandma Barksdale in no uncertain terms what she thought of the whole idea." She smirked at Daria. "Which leaves..."

"Don't say it," Daria growled. "Not if you value how your corpse will look at the subsequent viewing at the funeral home." She got up and glared at the smirking pair. "If you don't mind, I think I'll just go and sit outside for a while with a good book until we're ready to leave." With that, she stalked out of the room, opened the front door and went outside.

Jane turned to Quinn. "How come I haven't seen this side of you before?" she asked. "You really know how to chop logic with your sister. Plus the way you're giving her grief over her, shall we say, attachment, is up there with how I ribbed her over Trent!"

Quinn gave a Mona Lisa smile that was very much like her sister's. "Well, you could say that I learned by example," she said. At Jane's look she said "I overheard how the pair of you would talk to each other quite a lot. It was only fairly recently that I became aware of just how much I missed out on not knowing the pair of you better." Her look became wistful. "During my freshman and junior years I never really had a good friend," she said. "Good in the way both you and Daria care about each other. It's only recently that Stacy and I have begun to have anything like the relationship the two of you have. Unfortunately Stacy had to go with her family on holiday before she left for Boston with me, otherwise I'd be reinforcing my friendship with her." She looked at Jane. "But I can look on the bright side: I'm getting to know not only my sister much better but you as well."

Jane looked down. "Well... she said. "I just don't know what to say to that!" She looked up at Quinn. "I really don't. And here I was, all this time, thinking that you were nothing but a fashionista. And all this time there was this really, really interesting person that I'm now glad I'm getting the chance to meet."

"Well, don't make me out to be all that much better than I was," Quinn said. "I'm still interested in fashion stuff."

"Yeah, but it's interesting fashion stuff." Jane looked at Quinn. "I've just had an idea," she said. "Are you by chance going to have fashion design as a subject?"

Quinn laughed. "Guilty as charged," she said. Her face grew serious. "I'd really love to work in conservation," she said, "and the internship the V and A people have arranged with the Smithsonian is going to help, but I'm going to have to be realistic. There aren't that many jobs in conservation. So, I'm just going to do fashion design as a backup."

"Just like Daria and her journalism," Jane said. "You two really are sisters!"

Quinn rolled her eyes. "I suppose the 'cousin' business is something I'm going to have some time living down, isn't it?" she said. Jane said nothing but simply smirked. At the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs they fell silent.

Rawlings came down the stairs into the living room. He was carrying a plastic bag into which he had placed his silk shirt, cravat and good trousers. Over his arm he had slung his jacket. It was clear to both girls he had freshly shaved and, as he came closer, had applied more of the rosewater scent.

"Right, ladies," he said. "I'm ready to go." He looked around. "Ah, where's Daria?" he asked.

Jane got up. "She's outside," she said. "Said something about wanting some privacy and a good book" Behind her, Quinn rolled her eyes and smirked.

"Ah. I see," said Rawlings, not really seeing anything at all. "Shall we depart?" he said, walking up to the front door. Opening it, he waived at Jane to proceed. "Are you coming with us, Quinn?" he asked.

Quinn shook her head. "No," she said. "I'll just sit here and do some more work on some of my pieces. You go and enjoy doing your family research. And don't worry about me for tonight: I'll go back home and help set things up. I had better warn you, though: from what Daria's told me our grandmothers seem set on going all out to make this quite an event to remember!"

"Ah," said Rawlings. "Thank you for the warning." He turned to Jane. "After you," he said. Jane smiled, gave a small tilt of her head in acknowledgment and went through the doorway. Following her, Rawlings shut the door behind them.

Looking after them, Quinn thought, He'd make a great brother-in-law. Anyway, he's exactly what Daria needs, especially after Tom.


Rawlings pulled into the parking area in front of the library. "Well, we got here," he said.

In the seat next to him Daria said, "That we did." She turned around to glare at Jane, who sat in the back seat. "Despite somebody doing her level best to try and find out if there really is an Afterlife."

Jane just smiled back at her. "Well," she said, "Richard said he needed a navigator and you know how well I can read maps. So, I just suggested that you go in the front with him and navigate." She opened up her door and got out. "Let's see what we can find out about our fair burg," she said.

Daria got out of the passenger's side. "'Fair burg'?" she said. "Have you been painting with oils in a closed room again? No, don't answer that: I think I already know."

Rawlings smiled at the interplay between these two young women. By now he had gotten used to it. "Well, we had best see if this historical society is open," he said, keying his car locked. They moved to go into the building.

As they moved to go in they heard the sound of an approaching car. Looking up they saw a silver Aston Martin, the type traditionally associated with the Bond movies, pull into a parking lot. The driver switched off the motor and got out.

"Tom? Tom Sloane?" Jane said.

The driver looked up at the mention of his name. "Jane?" he said.

Curious, Rawlings looked in the direction of the young man. As his eyes registered Tom Sloane he all of a sudden started. It can't be.

Jane walked down to where he was standing. "Well, Tommy boy," she said. "Nice car. Present?"

Tom's face took on a slightly sorrowful cast. "You could say that," he said. "You remember me telling you and Daria about Grandpa Sloane the last time we met?"

Jane paled. Up where they were standing, Daria grabbed Rawlings' arm. "You don't mean... Oh, Tom! I'm sorry!" Jane said. She reached out and pulled Tom into an embrace.

"Thanks, Jane," Tom said. As Jane released him he reached up and wiped a tear from his eye. "It was a relief when he passed on."

Daria let go of Rawlings' arm and came down to where Tom and Jane were standing. "Hi, Tom," she said. Rawlings in the meantime discreetly withdrew out of hearing range. It also gave him some space to mull over some things.

Tom Sloane looked at Daria. "I didn't see you there," he said. "Sorry for ignoring you like that."

"No need," Daria said. She too, reached out and, much to Tom's surprise, also gave him a hug. "Sorry to hear about your grandfather."

"Thanks," Tom said. He let go of Daria. "As I was saying to Jane, it was a relief in the end. The last time I saw him in the hospice he was so far out of it on morphine he didn't know we were in the same room. But the thing that really hurts was that he died without any of us there. Dad arrived for a visit just after it happened. He said that he looked peaceful lying there." He blotted out a tear. "The last time I saw him was at the viewing before the service."

Daria and Jane gave him small smiles and each rested a hand on his shoulders. "So, you were saying about the car," Daria said.

"It was his," Tom said. "He was always an Ian Fleming fan. I didn't know why until we went through his papers. Turns out he was in the OSS during the war."

"You're kidding!" Daria said. "He was an agent?"

"Parachuted down into France not too long before D-Day," Tom said. "He got a load of awards and decorations for his work with the French Resistance. Never talked about it, though." He indicated the car. "He left it and his World War II stuff to me: said that I was probably the only one in the family who could appreciate them for what they were, not what they were worth." He looked off into the distance. "You could say that he was the only member of my family I could really relate to." He looked at Daria. "Sort of like you and your Aunt Amy."

"So what brings you here?" Jane asked.

"Well, when we were clearing out his house up by Prince Frederick we came across a whole lot of papers and photographs," Tom said. "Since I was taking that course in photography and documents conservation..."

"Waitaminute. You're doing photography and documents conservation?" said Jane. "What brought this on?"

"Well, I've always had an interest in photography," Tom said. "You and Daria heightened some of the historical aspects as well as the artistic side. Anyway, I got the job of looking through the documents and photographs."

"What sort of photos are they?" asked Daria.

"Mostly family portraits,"said Tom. "One good one of Grandpa in his uniform, taken the day he married Grandma. But the really interesting ones are of the Lawndale area back in the 1860s, including some of one of the family farm houses located where the park is."

"Interesting," said Daria. "We've just started doing some research on that period in history. I take it you know the area was called Sloane's Crossroads."

Tom nodded. "Didn't know that until I looked through some papers belonging to one of my ancestors," he said. "Jeremiah Sloane. He was the main landholder in the district. He also had a general store and a postal agency at the crossroads. But that's not the really interesting bit!"

"Oh?" said Jane. "Is this the bit about the Confederates passing through here in 1862? 'Cause we already know about that."

A surprised look came over Tom's face. "You seem to know a fair bit about this," he said. "I only just found this out over the past couple of weeks. How did you find out?"

Jane looked up to where Rawlings stood out of earshot. "Richard!" she yelled out. When she saw that he had heard her, she waived. "Come on down here! There's someone you've got to meet."

As Rawlings walked up to them Tom looked him up and down. "Going after older men, Jane?" he said.

"Nah," Jane replied. "He's more Daria's type." She ignored Daria's death glare. "But you'd better mind yourself around him. This is someone who makes the Sloane family look quite plebeian by comparison."


"Member of the Virginian aristocracy," Jane replied. "He's following an ancestor." By now Rawlings had walked up to where the three were standing.

Rawlings looked at Tom. Age him a few years, plus add a beard and he's the spit and image, he thought.

"Tom Sloane," Jane said, "meet Richard John Rawlings of Mount Folly, Virginia."

Rawlings held out his hand. "Pleased to meet you,"

Tom was gobsmacked. "Did you say Rawlings?" he asked. "Of Mount Folly, Virginia?"

Jane looked at Tom. "Yeah," she said. "Is there something I'm missing here?" Beside her, Daria frowned in puzzlement.

Tom pulled himself together. "Well," he said. He took Rawlings' hand and shook it. "Well," he said again. He looked at Rawlings. "Forgive me," he said, "but I'm... well... astonished isn't the word for what I'm feeling." He took a breath. "Are you a connection of a Colonel Richard John Rawlings the Second, of the Confederate Army?"

Rawlings nodded. "You could say that," he said. "Yes."

"Tom, what's going on?" asked Daria.

Tom looked at his ex-girlfriends. "You may want to blame his family for the fact that I'm standing here," he said.

"What?" said Jane. "What do you mean by that."

Tom indicated Rawlings. "His ancestor, or relation, saved the life of my ancestor," he said.

"Stopped him from being murdered, as a matter of fact."

To say that Daria and Jane were astonished by that pronouncement would be an understatement.


Daria and Jane gaped at Tom Sloane. His declaration had stunned them.

Finally, Daria shook herself. "Murdered?" she asked. "How... Who... When...Why?"

Tom solemnly nodded. "Murdered." he said. "As to how, who or why... I'll answer those questions but not here. How about we retire to our usual meeting place and I'll fill you in on the details." He looked at the library. "I've got some business to attend to there with the local historical society."

Daria, numb with shock, nodded. Jane just stood there dumbfounded.

Tom turned to Rawlings. "You don't seem all that surprised," he said. "I suppose you know all about that story from your relative's papers."

"I am aware of the story," Rawlings said. "It's been a talking feature amongst my family for some time now." He too looked at the library. "You said you have some business with the local historical society?" At Tom's nod he said "I take it that this business has to do with the papers and pictures you mentioned earlier?"

"Yes," Tom replied. "I've been scanning several documents onto CD-ROM, as well as some photographs. I've managed to clean up the photographs using some imaging software at college. My lecturers in conservation techniques allowed me to use the family papers as a project. I'm down here to arrange for deliveries of copies of those discs to the local historical society. My family's willing to pay for computers so that people can access them."

"A fine and noble sentiment," Rawlings said. "I take it you don't have them on you?"

"Unfortunately, no," Tom said. "Besides helping to tidy up Grandpa Sloane's papers I'm also slated to do some work at my father's business."


"They're a merchant bank and brokerage house," Tom said. "Grace, Sloane and Paige. My grandfather was the grandson of the original Paige in the firm. So it's twice the family business. But at least I'll be able to determine just how much time I have to spend with the firm."

"What do you mean by that, Tom?" Daria asked. "I mean, I'm not surprised that you've got to spend time at the business, but you may be able to determine how much? Won't your father have a say in that?"

Tom smirked. "Normally he does," he said. "However, the car and his WWII memorabilia weren't the only things Grandpa Sloane left me. He also left me a sizeable amount of property, as well as some bonds and a sizeable amount of cash." His smirk grew wider. "In fact he left me his house up by Prince Frederick." His face again grew sombre. "It was one of the places I loved to go to when I was a kid. I suppose that's why he left it to me."

"Wouldn't your father and uncle be upset he did that?" asked Jane.

Tom shrugged. "Not really. Hunting Creek was one of the minor properties. Dad's got the main house on the Nunjemoy River near Port Tobacco. And my uncle also got his share. In fact, Dad's down at the main house now." He looked at his watch. "Anyway, I've got to go in and see about arranging for the delivery of the photos and documents I've managed to scan in so far."

"Do you mind if we come in with you?" Jane asked. "We're helping Richard trace his relative, or ancestor's path in this area. Plus Daria's looking at doing a story based on the activities of the Confederate Army in this area at the time."

"No, no problem with that," Tom said. They all started heading into the library. "I'm just wondering what your angle is on this, Jane?"

"I'm looking to do some illustrations for whatever story Daria writes up," Jane said. "So I decided I might as well come on down here and see just what resources they have down here on Civil War stuff."

"Ok, but since this is Lawndale, you might be a little disappointed," Tom said. "Actually, you might want to see some of the photos. We did a check on them and some of them are attributed to Matthew Brady's studio."

"You mean you've got photographs by Matthew Brady? Wow, that is something!" Jane said.

"Not by Brady, but attributed to his studio," Tom said. "Apparently he either hired photographers to go out and take pictures or he bought negatives from itinerant photographers. We think these may have been the latter." He looked at Rawlings. "We've got one that was taken at the farmhouse of my ancestor standing near a group of Confederate officers. Your relative might be among them."

"Quite possible," Rawlings said. More probable than you think. "Anyway, let's see if we can access whatever records they may have here."

Unfortunately they were all out of luck. "Oh, I'm sorry," the attendant said. "The historical society people are usually in here on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday afternoons from midday to four."

"Is there someone we can call?" Tom said. "I'd really like to discuss these photos and documents with them."

The attendant handed them each a pamphlet. "You could call the secretary or the archivist," she said.

"Thanks." Tom reached into his wallet and pulled out a card. "I can be contacted by any of these numbers," he said.

The attendant looked at the card. Her eyebrows rose at the sight of Tom's surname. "I'll pass this on as soon as possible, Mr. Sloane," she said.

Tom grinned. "Just 'Tom' will do," he replied. "Mr. Sloane's my father. Besides, it makes me feel older than I really am."

"Or act," said Daria. Tom looked at her with faux irritation. Daria simply smirked back.

"Well, since the records the historical society aren't available, how about we go to Pizza King for a cola?" asked Tom. "Or perhaps we can find a nice coffee shop, that is, if there is such a thing here, and have a coffee and catch up?"

"Well..." Daria and Jane looked at Rawlings.

He smiled back at them. "You three go on and catch up," he said. "I'll see if I can go onto a computer and check for messages." I should be due for a couple, he thought. Wonder how the Department's going to handle this? But then, I was warned this sort of thing could happen.

"Ok," said Jane. "But first I want to see if they have any books on the Civil War here. Especially some on uniforms and clothes."

"And I might get out some more detailed histories," Daria said.

"Ok," Tom said. "I'll wait here." He went over to the newspaper and magazine section while Jane and Daria hit the computer catalogue.

Rawlings went over to the main desk. "I'd like the use of a computer to check for any messages in my account," he said.

The library attendant looked at him. "You a member of the library service?" she asked. Rawlings shook his head. "Well, if you sign on here," she said, handing him a book and a pen, " and show me some ID I'll create a temporary account for you."

"Thank you." Rawlings signed on, giving his full details, and the attendant, after viewing his driver's licence, got out a temporary account card for him to use. "Just hand the card back and sign off when you're finished, sir," she said. Rawlings thanked her and moved over to the Internet capable machines.

Meanwhile Daria and Jane had found some books they could use. Jane, in particular, had found some new books the library had put into its military history and sciences section: three books in the Osprey Men-at-arms series on the uniforms of the Union and Confederate armies, as well as two more books on the Armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia. They checked them out and went over to where Rawlings was sitting at the computer.

"We're just heading out with Tom," Jane said. "Meet you back at Casa Lane by, say 3:30?"

"Should do just fine, Jane, Daria," Rawlings said. "Gives me enough time to get my good clothes back from the cleaners'."

"Oh, crap!" Daria said. At Jane and Rawlings' inquisitive looks she said, "I only brought stuff to wear around Lawndale. And knowing my grandmothers, this is going to be quite a formal meal. And no, I'm not wearing the bridesmaid's dress!"

"Well, it's not as if you have all that much good gear to wear," Jane said. "You could wear your jeans and black t-shirt."

Daria shook her head. "Not good enough," she said. "It looks like I'll have to go and do something I loathe: shop for good clothes."

"How about I ring you on your mobile telephone when I'm finished here?" Rawlings said. "I can then come pick you up at... wherever. Or we arrange to meet and I take you shopping."

Daria thought for a moment. "Ok," she said. "But I'm paying for my clothes. And nobody tell Quinn. Got that?" Jane and Rawlings nodded. "Good.." She turned to Jane. "Let's go get Tom," she said. "Then we get drinks." She stopped. "Do you have my number?" she asked Rawlings.

"Now that you mention it, I don't," he replied.

Daria grabbed a slip of paper and wrote down her cell phone number. "Here," she said. "Give me yours?" Rawlings took another two slips and wrote out his number, giving them to Daria and Jane. "Right. See you later." Daria said. She and Jane raced off, stopping to collect Tom.


"So, Tommy boy," said Jane as she, Tom and Daria sat in a booth at Pizza King, colas in front of them. "What's this sordid story you have about an ancestor of yours almost being murdered?"

Tom thought for a moment. "Sordid might be just a little strong, Jane," he said. "I'd prefer tragic. Anyway, it's the reason my branch of the Sloanes don't talk very much with the other side of the family."

"Waitaminute. Other side of the family?" Jane was astonished. "I thought that you were the only Sloanes in the area."

"We are," Tom said. "The others are the Baltimore Sloanes. We only deal with them when we have to." There was an expression of mild distaste on his features as he spoke. He took a sip from his cola.

"Wow." Both Daria and Jane were astonished. They had never seen this side of Tom before.

"I thought that kind of family feuding was limited to the Barksdales and Morgendorffers," said Daria. "How bad is this between the Lawndale Sloanes and the Baltimore Sloanes."

"Well, let's say that it makes the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys look like a civil discussion," Tom said. "However, it tends to go back somewhat further in the past than that feud."

"How far back?" Daria asked.

"Well, to have you fully understand I'm afraid I'll have to go way, way back into the Sloane family history," Tom said. "Feel up to it?"

"Well, we can always order more cola," Jane said. "And if need be a pizza."

Tom smirked. "Glad to see you have your priorities right," he said.

Jane smirked back. "Student habits," she said. "Something you should be familiar with."

"True." Tom leaned back in his seat. "Anyway. The first member of the Sloane family in America was a refugee from England by the name of Sir Edmund Sloane."

"Waitaminute. How come he was a refugee? And Sir Edmund? Am I missing something here?" asked Jane. "What, was he knighted or something?"

"His ancestor was," Tom said. "Apparently he was a yeoman man-at-arms at Agincourt and was knighted by King Henry V. He came back rich from the French wars, was granted a manor and gained himself a wife. The knighthood was one of those hereditary ones.

"Anyway, his descendant, Sir Edmund, had been an officer of horse in the Royalist army during the English Civil War. Captain in Prince Rupert's Lifeguard. Well, after the end of the war he was viewed with some suspicion by the victorious Parliamentarians. With, I may add, some reason."

"The reason being?" asked Jane.

"After the Battle of Worcester in 1651 he hid the young Charles II and then sped him on his way with some money," Tom said. "The Parliamentarians couldn't pin anything on him, but his neighbours, many of whom had supported the Parliamentarians, made life difficult for him. After the Restoration in 1660 the King asked him to name his reward."

"What did he ask for?" said Daria.

"A land grant in the New World and permission to sell his estate in England," Tom said. "King Charles II gave him a grant of some 15,000 acres, the location of which was to be decided by Sir Edmund, and bought the manor back for a goodly sum. So in 1663, Sir Edmund took his wife, family, some favoured family retainers and all of his moveable goods and set sail for the New World, arriving in Jamestown just after the fever season. From the moment he sold his English estates back to the Crown he regarded himself as something of a refugee, hoping to begin again in the New World.

"On arriving in Jamestown he quickly sized up the situation there, and noted that even with his land grant and his coffers flush with the King's gold he would not be able to compare with the families that were already established there, such as the Fairfaxes, the Carters, the Byrds and the Lees. So he did some scouting around and in summer of 1664 he took his grant of lands in Maryland, in the vicinity of what is now called Tobacco Port."

"How come he couldn't get land in Virginia?" asked Jane. "I mean, he had a blank land grant from King Charles II, for God's sake!"

"I suspect that your friend Mr. Rawlings could explain it better," Tom said. "But the thing is that the old, established Virginian families, unless they ruined themselves the way the Byrds did, tended to control land distribution amongst themselves. Sir Edmund, despite coming from an old family and having a royal grant, was simply a newcomer."

"So he decided to establish the family in Maryland," Daria said. "Shrewd."

"How come your family doesn't have a title?" Jane asked.

"The knighthood?" asked Tom. "It was tied up with the original grant of land in England. When Sir Edmund sold it back to the Crown he sold the title as well. King Charles, however, gave him a knighthood as part payment for the service Sir Edmund had rendered after Worcester."

"So let me see if I have this straight," Daria said. "Your distant ancestor was a Royalist officer who sheltered the King after a battle. He gets a lot of grief from his neighbours over his loyalty to his king. After King Charles II reclaims his throne he asks for a land grant, gets 15,000 acres plus a good sum of money for his original estate in England and moves to Maryland." She looked at Tom. "Quite a story," she said. "Did he do well?"

"Quite well," Tom said. "He was no man's fool, and suffered fools even less. He had also arrived in the New World with a letter of recommendation from Lord Thomas Fairfax, whose family, by the way, had a grant of five million acres ranging from the tip of the Northern Neck of Virginia all the way to the Shenandoah Valley."

"My God!" said Jane.

"Anyway, when he started establishing his first plantation on the Nunjemoy River he left some of the hard work to his retainers and took himself off to study tobacco farming under one of the Fairfax overseers," Tom said. "By the way, he also gained an additional one thousand or so acres due to his bringing in some retainers."

"How come?" asked Jane.

"Headright," Tom said. "Even though they were his servants they were counted as indentured servants for the sake of population. For every indentured servant a land owner brought in, or sponsored, he gained fifty acres of land. In exchange, the servants worked off their indenture over a period of seven years, after which they could go and either set up as craftsmen or, which was more likely, go to the frontier and stake a claim for themselves." Tom grinned. "Guess where he claimed his additional thousand acres?"

"Lawndale," said Daria. "But why?"

"He was speculating. One of the quickest ways to gain wealth at the time," said Tom. He grinned. "You can't say he got it wrong, now, can you?"

"Obviously not," Daria dryly replied. "So he studied tobacco farming?"

"Yes," Tom said. "Now he could have hired someone to do it for him but he was basically a farmer at heart, despite his lineage. So he learned just what was needed for tobacco farming, came back to Nunjemoy and started. He even used some of his largesse from the King to bring over a ditcher to help drain some of the bottom lands."

"Ditcher?" said Jane. "What's that?"

"Somebody who knew the proper way to dig drainage ditches," Tom said. "And, despite the name and what he did, it turns out that it was actually quite a valuable trade. So he brought out a ditcher who cleared some of the swamp land and turned it into tobacco fields. In addition he also harvested timber, let it season and then had it transported to Jamestown. He used some of his profits to buy more land and to bring out more indentured labourers."

"Thus getting more land," Daria said. "No wonder the Sloanes are quite well off! But why the work ethic?" I mean, you could just sit around and do, well, whatever you please!"

"We could," Tom said. "But Sir Edmund raised his children with a very strong work ethic. And he often did some work himself on the land. The problem was that the Sloanes, particularly the first few generations, aren't all that fertile. He lost a few children to disease in childhood. They're all buried in the graveyard at Nunjemoy River."

"So, you're saying that the Sloanes nearly died out with Sir Edmund," Daria said. "How did they survive?"

"Luckily Sir Edmund also believed in his children getting an education,"Tom said. "So he sent off his son, Robert, to study in England. I should also add that it was from Sir Edmund that we also get the way we value education, which is why later generations of Sloanes helped to endow Bromwell, as well as Fielding."

"Isn't there anything your family doesn't have it's fingerprints all over?" Daria said.

"Does Virginia count?" Tom smirked.

Despite herself, Daria grinned. "I'll have to pay that," she said. "So. On from Sir Edmund."

"Robert Sloane simply built on what his father had done," Tom said. "It was his grandson, James Sloane, who moved the family out of tobacco and managed to save the family fortune in the process."

"Oh? How come?" Jane said.

"Tobacco, while quite profitable, was also quite erratic," Tom said. "It also tended to leech the land it grows on, which is why Virginia's tobacco industry went into a decline in the Eighteenth Century. Robert had gained an education in England at the time agriculture was being made more scientific. So he kept in touch with what was happening in England. But just as important was his friendship with a Virginian landowner who pioneered many new farming techniques on his property on the Potomac River and who then spread them to his wife's lands."

"Ok, who was the Virginian? A Rawlings?" Jane asked.

Tom smirked. "George Washington."


"I'm not kidding," Tom said. "They met during the French and Indian Wars, struck up a friendship and kept in touch. He became a partner in the Patowmack Canal Company with Washington, by the way. But that happened later.

"Anyway, he and Washington communicated with each other on the latest farming techniques. George would try something out and if it worked, such as manuring land that had been degraded by tobacco farming, Robert would try it. They both went into wheat farming away from tobacco, although Robert also tried some indigo farming."

"So do you have any of Washington's letters?" Daria asked.

"Not that many," Tom said. "He didn't keep all that many letters unless they were business related." His smirk grew bigger. "Used many of the letters he got for toilet paper."

"You're kidding," Daria said. Jane was gobsmacked.

"I'm not," Tom said. "We have a letter from Washington to Robert that includes the lines 'My Friend, I have Your Letter here in Front of Me, and it Shall Shortly be In Back of Me.' Something of a running joke of the day, I presume. The only reason he kept it was it was about the success of the new seed drill Washington had brought in from England."

"So, did he fight in the Revolution?" asked Jane.

"No, but he kept sending Washington the newspapers from Baltimore and London," Tom said. "He even made an entry in his journal: Sent George the Latest Papers. I also said in an Attached Letter that I Hope he Finds them of Great Use, as well as any Intelligence They may Provide on the Thinking in London."

"Nice to know that toilet humour was used by our nation's founders," Daria said. "So he basically assisted by sending George Washington information. What else did he do?"

"Well, after the Revolution he started investing in an American merchant marine," Tom said. "Sent timber down the Potomac, which was then sent to Baltimore to be used in shipbuilding."

"Ok. So what of the following generation of Sloanes?" asked Jane.

"Well, Robert's son didn't do all that much. He just kept developing the family's lands. His eldest son, John, came and settled on the land around Lawndale, and was the one who gave the name to the crossroads. His brother Andrew, however, worked on some of the ships that the Sloane family had an interest in before signing onto a privateer as first officer for a couple of trips in the War of 1812. Made a very tidy sum. He later settled in Baltimore and started a merchant house."

"What did he trade in?" Daria asked.

"All sort of things," Tom said, "But unfortunately he also did some slave trading. Mind you, it was still something that was acceptable at the time. However, it was Andrew's activities that started the friction between our two branches, even though Robert Sloane and his son used slaves."

"Oh? How come?" asked Jane.

"Both John and Andrew were educated in New England," Tom said. "However, Andrew had made some connections with some Southern merchants who told him that one of the quickest ways of getting rich was in slaves. So he started trading in them until the United States signed the Ashburton Treaty that outlawed the international slave trade. He also traded in cotton. This led him to associate more and more with the cotton plantation owners of the Deep South. He also absorbed some of their political views."

"Uh oh," said Daria. "I think I can see where this is going."

Tom nodded. "I'm not surprised," he said. "The next generation of Sloanes adopted two different views on the world. John and his son, Jacob, kept up the connections John had made in New England. In fact, Jacob's son, Jeremiah, was not only educated at Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, he was one of the first Sloanes to go to Bromwell."

"And Andrew?"

"Ironically, both he and John where also products of Governor Dummer," said Tom. "However, his son went to school in Baltimore. Later he went to the University of Virginia. His son, Jasper, not only went to school in Baltimore, but attended the Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina."

"So let me get this straight," Daria said. "John, Jacob and Jeremiah all went to school in New England, while Andrew's son and grandson went to school first in Baltimore and then at Southern institutions, one of them in the Southern state that would be the first to secede in 1860." She looked at Tom. "I gather that your side of the family became rather ardent Abolitionists?"

Tom nodded. "And also strong Unionists. The Baltimore Sloanes were more sympathetic with the Southern States Rights movement." He shifted in his seat. "As things got worse in the 1850s the relationship between our two branches also got more tense. Finally, in 1860, things got very bad."

"How bad?"

"Well, let's say that my side of the family were strong for Abraham Lincoln, while the Baltimore Sloanes campaigned for John C. Breckenridge," Tom said. "In fact, Jeremiah was one of Lincoln's 'Wide Awakes'."

"What happened after the election?" Jane asked.

"Basically we stopped speaking to one another," Tom said. "Our side of the family only found out through mutual acquaintances in Baltimore that, after Virginia seceded, Jasper Sloane headed south to enlist in the Confederate Army. Joined a Virginia outfit, as many Marylanders who went South did."

A sick feeling of certainty came over Daria. She felt the blood leave her face. "Oh, s***!" she whispered.

"What's up, amiga," Jane asked. Daria didn't answer, but kept looking straight at Tom.

"You've figured out what happened, haven't you?" he asked her. Daria slowly nodded.

"What happ.. Oh, S***!" Jane's face also took on a sickly cast.

"Jasper Sloane came through here with the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862," Daria quietly said. "And he decided to pay a little 'visit' on your ancestor, didn't he?"


For a moment, nobody sitting in the booth said anything. Then, Tom slowly nodded.

"You could put it that way, I suppose," he said.

"What happened?" asked Daria.

"Jasper appeared at the Sloane farmhouse that was located on the hill where the park now is," Tom said. "He had with him a party of soldiers and was supposedly out foraging for supplies. Jeremiah later found out that General Robert E. Lee had issued very strict instructions that anything that was requestioned by his troops was supposed to be paid for in cash."

"Confederate, no doubt," Daria said.

"Quite, from what Jeremiah later found out. But Jasper had no intention of paying for anything," Tom said. "He was just intent on taking things. Basically, he was going to strip the place bare. But that wasn't the worst of it."

"What was?" Daria asked.

"The men Jasper had with him were pro-slavery veterans of 'Bleeding Kansas'," Tom said. "It seems he'd told them about my ancestor's Abolitionist beliefs. He probably also told them that Jeremiah was suspected by Southern sympathisers in Baltimore of being a stationmaster."

"'Stationmaster'?" asked Jane.

"A stationmaster on the Underground Railroad, spiriting escaped slaves northwards to Canada," Tom said. He looked at Daria and Jane. "I don't think I have to paint any pictures about how those men felt about my ancestor."

"Oh, God," Jane said quietly. "They'd have been ready to do anything."

Tom nodded. "Well, what happened was that Jeremiah confronted Jasper," he said. "An argument broke out and then Jeremiah struck Jasper. Then, a shot was fired and the next thing that anybody knew Jeremiah was lying on the ground clutching his leg. After that, things got ugly."

"Just how ugly?"

"Jasper told his men to go and find a rope," Tom said. "He was going to hang his own cousin in the farmyard of his own farm. But first, they were going to burn it down, as an example to the locals of what happened if somebody was foolish enough to help escaping slaves. When it was fully alight then they were going to hang him."

"My God." Both Daria and Jane were pale. Then Daria said, "But something happened. Otherwise you would not be here telling this tale."

"They had just thrown the rope over the limb of a tree and were about to start the fire when all of a sudden a group of Confederate soldiers rode in, with a colonel at their head," Tom replied.

"Colonel Rawlings," Daria said.

"He had apparently been riding ahead scouting out the route to be taken by Walker's division when he heard the shot. He rode up, saw Jasper about to hang my ancestor and demanded to know what was going on," said Tom. "Jasper tried to feed him a story about being fired on but Rawlings saw that my ancestor had been injured by a gunshot and that there were no other firearms present other than the ones carried by Jasper's men. Then Jeremiah's wife came out and told him exactly what was happening. Rawlings had their guns examined to see who had fired the shot." Tom gave the two a mirthless smile. "Guess whose it turned out to be?"

"Jasper's," Daria said.

"Got it in one," Tom said. "Rawlings then ordered his escort to place Jasper under arrest. From what we found out later he was ex-Regular Army and had taken a dim view of Jasper Sloane. Apparently he had been watching Jasper and had been waiting for him to do something like this. Said that he would have him hauled in front of General Lee for it.

"Jasper then opened his mouth and called Rawlings a 'filthy Yankee-loving Virginian son-of-a whore'. Rawlings went white, walked over to Jasper and slapped him in the face. Hard. From what I understand, he told Jasper that when General Lee had finished with him and there was time, both he and Jasper would settle their differences. And I suspect it would have been with pistols."

"Do you know what happened to Jasper?" Daria asked.

"He survived the war," Tom said. "But he was broken and sent into the ranks. He was wounded at Antietam. Lost a leg."

"And Rawlings?"

"He also survived Antietam. However, he was badly wounded the following year at Gettysburg," Tom said. "He took a fever and died on the way back to Virginia. We never knew if he had family. But now we know.

"From that day to this the Sloanes of Lawndale and the Sloanes of Baltimore have, except for formal matters, never spoken to each other. The Baltimore Sloanes blamed Jeremiah for Jasper losing a leg at Antietam. And our side of the family... well, we never thought that somebody could cold-bloodedly set out to kill his cousin and burn down his home in front of his dying eyes." A silence fell across the booth.

Daria shook herself. "Tragedy doesn't even begin to cover this," she said. "It's a tale worthy of Shakespeare."

"I remember reading somewhere that someone once said that he was ready to strike down his own brother during the Civil War," Tom said. "I suppose the Sloane family drama illustrates that comment quite vividly."

"I'll say," said Jane.

Silence again fell across the booth's occupants. Then, Tom glanced down at his watch. "Almost lunchtime," he said. "If anybody's able to eat, I'll go and order our usual. My treat." He looked up at Daria and Jane. "For old time's sake, eh?"

Daria looked at Jane. "Well, I suppose we could let him buy lunch. After all, he does owe us."

"Glad to see that the Morgendorffer mercenary streak's survived Raft," Tom said. He looked at Jane. "Jane?"

"Hmmm," said Jane. "Heck! Why not." A slightly evil grin came across her face. "However, it'll have to be good to beat where Daria and I ate yesterday."

"Oh?" said Tom. "Where was that?"

"A new place in Cranberry Commons," Jane said. She waited until Tom had taken a mouthful of cola before saying: "Le Petomane's New Orleans Cajun Eatery."

Tom choked on his cola as the name's meaning hit him. Slowly he keeled over and fell across the seat he was sitting on. From below the table came the sound of choked laughter.

Daria stood in her place and looked over the table at where Tom lay. "I think you may have killed him," she said. "You realise that means we'll have to pay for the pizza." She sat back down.

"Maybe," Jane said. She looked underneath the table. "Hey! Sloane!" she said. "Are you trying for a panty shot from both your exs? It may have escaped your notice that we're both wearing shorts." The choked laughter grew more hysterical.

Finally Tom managed to pull himself upright. Wiping tears from his eyes he said "God! I needed that." He looked at Jane. "And you're not kidding about the Cajun eatery are you? No, forget I said that: I believe you. This is Lawndale, after all."

"Nope. Not kidding. Our Southern friend bought us lunch there after we rescued him from a waitress in the diner near the green," Jane said.

"I see he believes in fulfilling his obligations," Tom said. "And speaking of those, I had better go order," With that he got up and went over to the counter.

While Tom was ordering pizza Jane leaned over and said, "You think you could do something with this story?"

Daria looked thoughtful. "Hard to say," she said. "It's so fantastic that, unless I somehow could say that it was based on a true story, nobody would believe it. And I don't think Tom would want it spread about, even in a fictionalised form. Sure I was looking for something to turn into a good story, but this..." Despite herself, she shuddered.

"Yeah," said Jane. "I think I see what you're getting at. It does tend to set one on edge somewhat." She looked up as Tom returned and sat down opposite them.

"Pizza will be ready shortly and they'll bring it over to us," Tom said. "What did you talk about while I was gone? Anything interesting?"

"We were just discussing whether Daria could use your story, but she reckons that you may not want it spread about, even in a fictionalised form," Jane said.

Tom thought for a moment. "No, I probably wouldn't," he said. "Not that I have any objections to Daria using it, since I'll know she'll change the names and locations to protect the guilty. It's just that if the Baltimore Sloanes get a hold of the story even in fictionalised form..."

"They'll kick up a stink and probably want their version told," Daria finished. "Considering what you've just told us, maybe it'd be better to let that sleeping dog lie." She looked at Tom and Jane. "Using sledgehammer of subject change: is there anything else we'd like to talk about?"

"Yes," said Tom. "Do you think we could get Sick, Sad World to do a story on Le Petomane's?"


Rawlings had finished checking his email, signed off his computer and handed the card back to the library assistant. There had been nothing new in any of his messages, being mostly of a routine matter. However, he was sure that his message about meeting a Sloane would, when it was finally delivered to its ultimate address, cause something of a stir.

He was now outside the library building. Standing at the driver's side door of his car, he looked up at the hill that dominated much of the town. As he looked, he began to reflect on the events that he knew had happened on that hill.


Frederick-Jefferson-Harpers Ferry Road, near Sloane Farm, 9th of September, 1862.

Captain Henry Jacobson looked around. "This is mighty fine country, sir," he said to his commanding officer. "The foraging should be good, plus this hill gives us a good view of the countryside hereabouts." He wore a single-breasted frock coat, worn opened as a concession to the weather, and displaying a grey military-cut waistcoat. Around his neck he wore a black butterfly cravat. His sleeves bore Austrian knots with two strands of gold Russia braid in them. On his head he wore a broad-brimmed black hat with a gold hat cord and partially-gilded acorns. On his feet were high cavalry boots.

His commander nodded. "Have Colonel Staten and his engineers surveyed the area?" he asked. He also wore his coat opened. However, his was a double-breasted coat, its buttons arranged singly in two rows of seven down its front. The coat's lapels were folded back at the top, with the rest of it allowed to hang loose. He, too, displayed a military-cut waistcoat. His cravat was also black, but was worn more along the lines of a stock. Underneath his coat he wore a belt, with a pistol holster attached to it on the right hand side. On his left a sword in a metal scabbard hung from black leather straps. He, too, wore cavalry boots.

Both cuffs and collar of his coat were in the arm-of-service colour for an infantry officer. However, his sleeves bore Austrian knots with four strands of gold braid in them instead of the more customary three for a field-grade officer. His hat was also broad-brimmed, but a light grey in colour, and also had a gold cord, but in his case with fully gilded acorns on the ends. Behind them came several more officers and following up the rear a half-troop of cavalry headed by a lieutenant.

Jacobson nodded. "I have their rough charts here, sir," he said. "Colonel Staten has also gone ahead to Jefferson to see about the secondary positions. He should be back before nightfall."

"Good," said his commander. "Then we're ready to carry out our part of the plan. After we've done here, I want you to..." His words were interrupted by the crack of a pistol shot somewhere up ahead. "Where did that come from?" asked the Confederate senior officer.

Jacobson pointed to a farmhouse that stood up ahead and off to the right from the road. "It sounded as though it came from there," he said.

"Do we have any scouts out?" asked his commander.

"Not to my knowledge," Jacobson said. "There could be foragers, though."

His commanding officer grimaced. "Were General Lee's orders sent to every unit commander?" he asked.

Jacobson nodded. "I made sure the lieutenants on the staff took copies to every command," he said. "I even had the brigade commanders sign for them."

His commander frowned. "Well," he said, "I suppose we had best go and find out what that was all about," he said. He spurred his horse to a canter.

Jacobson's brow furrowed as he spurred his horse to catch up. "Do you think this is wise, sir?" he said. "Let me take some of the escort and check this out. It could be Yankee cavalry up there."

His commander shook his head. "If it was," he said, "there would have been more shots. No, I suspect some of our foragers may have gotten a bit out of hand. If that is the case, then a visit from someone like me could be all they need to remind them of their orders."

Jacobson, not happy at getting this answer, nodded. "As you wish, sir." The party of Confederate soldiers rode towards the farm. As they came close they saw someone suddenly run out onto the road. It was a young woman, and she was being pursued by what was obviously a Confederate soldier.

The senor Confederate officer sped up his horse. "Halt!" he called out. "You there! What-in-God's-name-do-you-think-you-are-doing?"

The young woman and her pursuer stopped at the sound of his voice. The Confederate soldier looked in the direction he heard the voice come from. As soon as he saw the senior Confederate officer his eyes widened and he straightened himself up. "Sir!" he said. "Ah didn't see y'all there, Gen'ral!" Almost as an afterthought he threw off a salute.

The Confederate general rode up. "Who is your commanding officer and what is your unit, Private?" he barked out.

"Cap'n Jasper Sloane, 52nd Virginia Infantry, Gen'ral sir!" responded the private.

"Sloane," said the general. He said the word as though it left a foul taste in his mouth. "I might have known." He spurred his horse through the gateway that led into the farm. His escort followed, except for two cavalrymen who Captain Jacobson had told off to guard the soldier.

Expecting possible trouble Jacobson took out his pistol and cocked it. Seeing his gesture the other officers on the general's staff did the same, while the lieutenant commanding the escort instructed his troopers to ready their Sharps carbines.

As they rode in a dramatic tableau presented itself to their eyes. A group of Confederate soldiers, acting under the direction of their captain, had scrounged up a rope, thrown it over a tree in the farmyard and had placed it around the neck of a bearded civilian in his late twenties. The man was seated on the ground, his hands trussed behind him. From a wound on his right leg blood flowed. Another group had under guard a collection of civilians, some men, some women and children, while others were systematically stripping the farmyard of everything that could be carried. Still more men were carrying into the farmhouse bundles of flammable materials. It was pretty clear what they were about to do.

The general rode up to the captain. "What-in-God's-name-is-going-on-here?" he demanded in a loud, carrying voice. At the sound of his voice men stopped what they were doing and turned in his direction. Their eyes widened as they recognised the Austrian knots and wreathed stars of a general officer.

The captain turned. His eyes also widened at the sight of the general in front of him. "Sir, he said, coming to attention and saluting, "we're just dealing with a civilian who took a shot at my men."

The general looked at the civilian. "Well, he must be a pretty incompetent civilian sniper if he managed to shoot himself in the upper thigh," he snapped. "When did this happen, Captain Sloane?"

Sloane looked up at the general. His eyes widened in recognition. "Not too long ago, sir," he said. "As you can see, we have things all in hand."

"So I see," said the general. He looked around at the men, many of whom had been frozen in their tasks. Some of his damned bushwhackers from Bloody Kansas, no doubt, he thought. "Looks to me that there's a bit more than dealing with somebody who took a shot at your men going on, Captain."

"That's right!" shouted a female voice. The general looked over to where the group of men, women and children were being held. One woman, not much younger than the wounded man, was struggling against being restrained by one of the soldiers: a large brutish looking fellow. "These sons of bitches just came up, led by that snake and just started taking our property!" she snarled, pointing directly at Sloane.

"You shut your mouth!" said the soldier. He threw her to the ground and was about ready to kick her when the sound of a pistol being cocked stopped him. He looked up to see that the general had taken out his pistol, cocked it and had it pointed straight at his head.

"I would suggest you think very carefully about you actions," said the general. The man paled and backed away.

The general uncocked his pistol, holstered it and swung down off his horse. He left the flap of his holster undone, though. While one of the cavalry escort came up and held his horse's bridle, the general went over and helped the woman up. "Perhaps you could please inform me of what happened here," he said.

The woman dusted herself off and then looked at the general. "We were just minding our business when that snake Jasper Sloane," she said, pointing at Sloane, "came in here and just told his men to start taking stuff."

"I see," the general said. He gave Sloane a disgusted look, which Sloane returned with a stone-faced expression. "I take it you know the good Captain Sloane?" he asked.

The woman nodded. "He's my husband's cousin," she said, indicating the seated man.

The general's look grew cold. "Is he now?" he said quietly. "And then what happened next?"

"My husband, Jeremiah, came out and confronted Jasper," she said. "Demanded to know just what he thought he was doing. Jasper said that he was out requisitioning supplies. When Jeremiah raised the question of payment, Jasper commented that this was one way that Jeremiah could repay people for all of the slaves he and 'his kind' had helped steal from their masters. Jeremiah then struck Jasper. Next thing we know a shot was fired and my husband was lying on the ground holding his leg.

"Jasper then told his men to hunt up a rope. Said he was going to hang Jeremiah and burn down his farm as a warning to anybody else who might be inclined to help steal slaves. They were just fixing up the house to be burned, after which they were going to hang my husband, when you rode up."

"Sir, she's a lying damnyankee!" Sloane said. "My men were fired upon!"

"Interesting statement, Captain," the general said. "We were just passing by when we heard just one shot. And that from a revolver. We came up to investigate and I find you here getting ready to hang a wounded man and burn down his house." He held out his hand. "Your revolver, Captain."

"My what?" said Sloane.

"Your revolver, Captain," the general said. When Sloane hesitated the general walked up to him and in one swift movement pulled Sloane's revolver from its belt holster.

The general slid the cylinder out and examined it. "I see there's one shot fired," he said. "And the wound on that man's leg is about right for a revolver bullet." He handed the pistol to one of his aides. "Consider yourself under arrest, Captain."

"May I know what the charge is, sir?" Sloane asked.

"Disobeying the expressed order of the commanding general of this army that anything that is requisitioned is to be paid for on the spot in cash!" snapped the general. "And it will be quite easy for me to find out if that order was transmitted to you, Captain: I had all my brigade commanders in this division sign for their copies of the order. Plus I had their aides read it out just prior to this campaign starting, when I took command of this division." He gave Sloane a look he normally reserved for something he had stepped in on a Richmond street. "And, by the look of things, arson and attempted murder could be added to the sheet as well." He turned from Sloane.

"I see it now!" Sloane shouted as two cavalry troopers dismounted to take him under arrest."You're probably in on this with this slave-stealing Abolitionist! You filthy Yankee-loving Virginian son-of-a-whore!"

Quicker than the eye could see the general had turned and backhanded Sloane across the face so hard that the disgraced officer fell onto the ground. At that his men moved to pick up their muskets, but were dissuaded from doing so by the pistols and carbines of the men accompanying the general that were suddenly trained on them.

The general reached down and, grabbing Sloane by the front of his uniform jacket, hauled him to his feet. He thrust his face into Sloane's. "If General Lee doesn't have you hanged," he said in a quiet, deadly voice, "and if you do manage to survive this campaign, I look forward to having the opportunity to blow your stinking brains out. You had better have your burial site picked out, because I'm inclined to let the crows feast on your mangy carcass." He let Sloane go and walked over to the seated man. "Take that rope from off his neck and untie him!" he said to the men who surrounded him. "Or I'll put you in his place right now!" Hurrying, the soldiers moved to do his bidding.

The general knelt down besides the man and looked at the wound. "Bet it hurts, doesn't it?" he asked.

The man gave a slight grin. "Better than having a stretched neck," he said.

"I can understand that sentiment quite well," the general said. He turned his head towards his staff. "Is Doctor Griffin available?" he asked. A young man wearing captains insignia and the green sash of the medical corps rode up. "Tend to this man's wound, Doctor," he said.

As the surgeon hurried to do the general's bidding the man said," I wasn't too sure what to expect from you Rebs, when we got news that you'd arrived in Frederick the other day," he said. He looked at his cousin. "Definitely not him. Although in hindsight, I suppose I'm not all that surprised."

The general shot him a look. "Family history?" he asked.

The man nodded, and then winced as the surgeon, after slicing open the leg of his trousers, started probing for the bullet. The general took off one of his buff leather gauntlets. Folding it over he said "Open you mouth and bite down on this," he said. "It'll help." The man did so, but every so often he winced and let out a muffled scream of pain.

After a while the surgeon withdrew a round pistol ball from the man's thigh wound. As he began dressing it the general took back his gauntlet. "Now for the bad news," he said. At the man's look he said "I'm afraid I'm going to have to requisition your farmyard for my divisional headquarters," he said. "Before the day is out you can expect somewhere around eight thousand men encamped on your farm and across the road there. I can assure you, however, that my men will pay for whatever provisions they take. I'll have my tents set up behind the house."

The man looked at the general and then nodded. "At least you're polite about it," he said. "Better than my cousin Jasper." He held out his hand. "By the way, I'm Jeremiah Sloane."

The general grinned and took it. "Major-General Richard John Rawlings," he said.


Rawlings thought about what had happened afterwards. Although they had become the involuntary hosts for a Confederate infantry division, and in particular its commanding officer, the Sloanes were quite gracious. They had insisted on putting Rawlings up in the farmhouse, but he declined and said that his tent was good enough. Besides, he wanted to interfere with Jeremiah's recovery as little as possible.

He started as he heard a clock strike. Fishing out his pocket watch, he opened it and looked at it. Noon, he thought. I had best call Miss Morgendorffer and see about lunch and then clothes shopping.


As Daria, Jane and Tom sat talking her cell phone started ringing. She grimaced, reached down into a front pocket of her shorts, pulled out the phone and unfolded it.

"Hello?" she said. "Oh, hi Richard. You've finished at the library, then. Lunch? Well, Jane and I are at Pizza King with Tom Sloane. No, I think I can say that we won't mind you joining us. Where is it? On Dega Street. It's not that far from the library. Ok. If you like I can wait outside. Right. See you soon, then." She folded her cell phone and replaced it. "That was Richard," she said. "He's coming to join us here for lunch and then he's taking me shopping for some decent clothes for tonight."

"But what was that about waiting outside for him?" asked Jane. An evil grin slowly spread across her face. "Surely you're not thinking of..."

"Finish that sentence and you'll find out what plans I have for you, Jane," Daria said.

"Oh, Daria! I didn't realise!" said Jane! "We can move in together for real!" She reached out to her best friend. "Here! Give me a hug!"

"Aaah!" Daria leapt out of her seat and stood there, glaring at her best friend, who just sat there chortling. "Jane, you are one sick puppy," she said.

"And you love me for it, too," Jane replied. She batted her eyelashes at Daria.

Daria slowly shook her head. "Why I put up with this I'll never know," she said. "As for waiting outside for Richard: he doesn't know Lawndale all that well, remember? So if I stand outside he'll know where we are. Speaking of which, I had better be going." She looked at the pair. "Don't eat my share of the pizza," she said. With that, she headed outside.

Tom watched he go outside and then turned to face Jane. "How come you're ragging Daria so bad?" he asked. "Not another crush, is it?"

Jane nodded. "Seems she's fallen for our sprig of the Southern aristocracy," she said. "But then, you're one yourself, given the history you've told me." She smirked. "Seems she may have a thing for handsome, intelligent, rich men."

Tom rolled his eyes. "I'm surprised Daria hasn't made good on her threats to do you an injury, Jane." he said. "And what's this I hear about Daria buying clothes, especially formal clothes? I thought you would have had to perform a lobotomy on her for that to happen!"

Jane smirked. "It seems that Mr. Rawlings had made quite an impression on Daria's relatives," she said. "He charmed both her grandmothers, as well as her aunts, including Amy, plus he seems to have neutralised Helen. He also seems to have managed to bring about a cessation of hostilities between the Morgendorffer and Barksdale women."

Tom's eyes widened at this news. "What, he's encountered the Barksdale and Morgendorffer women, survived the encounter and managed to bring about a cease-fire?" he asked. "And he's managed to impress Amy?"

"Not only that," Jane said, "he's been invited to this dinner they're having tonight. Which, according to the latest intelligence, both her grandmothers are organising. At least, they've enlisted Jake, Rita and Amy for a shopping expedition. And it seems the fabled Morgendorffer dining room may well be in use tonight."

"Wow." Tom sat back against the backrest of his chair. "But there's bound to be a downside, isn't there?"

"Daria thinks that both her grandmothers are going to start scheming to get Richard into the family," Jane replied. "And, since she's one of the eligible Morgendorffer-Barksdale women, she's not too happy about that prospect."

"Surely Quinn's happy about possibly scoring a Virginian aristocrat," Tom said.

"Not to hear her tell it," Jane said. "She ruled herself out in my living room earlier this morning."

"Hold on a second," said Tom. "Quinn was in your living room this morning? What, she came over to bring Daria back to Schloss Morgendorffer?"

"Actually, both she and Daria were taking shelter at Casa Lane from all the insanity that was raging at the Morgendorffer house when the combined Barksdale-Morgendorffer female gathering attained critical mass," said Jane. "They both bailed at the earliest possible moment and hightailed it to my place."

Tom was flabbergasted. "And neither you or Daria have killed her yet?" he asked. "Or have you, and you want me to help hide the body?"

"No, we haven't," Jane said. "Quinn's become quite an interesting person in her own right. Sure, she still does fashion-related stuff, but at least it's interesting fashion-related stuff."

"Okaay," said Tom. "You're a pod, aren't you? Because there's no way that the Jane Lane I know and once dated would consider anything fashion-related interesting. Especially in combination with an ex-Fashion Club member."

"She's actually taken up the study of historical fashions and clothes," Jane said. "Even to the extent of learning the techniques used in their construction, as well as the fabrics used. She and Stacy Rowe have managed to get an in with the people from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the pair of them are coming up to Boston to study fabric conservation and other museum-related techniques. They've also got an internship worked out with the Smithsonian for next summer." She took a sip. "She's been showing me some of the decorative techniques used in Renaissance clothing. From an artistic standpoint it's simply fascinating, and it also gives me an additional insight on how to paint clothes."

"My God," said Tom.

"It gets even better," Jane said. "She had a cholesterol-rich breakfast with us this morning. Plus some of Richard's killer coffee, although she immediately diluted it in her bloodstream with some juice. Not that I'm blaming her for doing so."

Tom sat speechless. Then, he shook his head. "Wow!" he said. "If she's lasted this long without you killing her, plus you've been kind of discussing fashion with her... I might have to get to know this new Quinn Morgendorffer."

"What, you thinking of trying for a newer model Morgendorffer?" Jane smirked. "Daria might not like you trading her in for a younger model."

"What? No! I didn't mean it that way!" Tom said.

Jane laughed. "Gotcha!" she said.

Tom shot her a disgusted look. "Anyway, back to what Quinn was saying to you this morning."

"Basically, she listed the reasons just why she and her aunts weren't in the running to be the ones to add Richard to the Barksdale-Morgendorffer clan," Jane said. "Which, as she said, left only one candidate for the honour."

"Oh, so Daria's killed her sister and you want me to help her hide the body," said Tom.

"No she hasn't," Jane said. "Instead she waited for us outside Casa Lane to go to the library.

The rest of it you already know." She leaned forward. "So, how's Bromwell?"


As Daria waited outside Pizza King for Rawlings to turn up she mulled over what she had been told about the Sloane family history.

I can't believe that someone would want to kill their own cousin! she thought. And I thought the Battling Barksdales were bad! She shook her head. And I can't believe Jane. No, correct that: I do believe Jane would tell Tom about my "infatuation" with Richard. She and Quinn are being just as bad as each other with this Yenta business!

Daria folded her arms and looked down. Slowly she started pacing. Well, Daria, what do you feel about this man who's been in your life for all of twenty-four hours? Sure he's highly intelligent, handsome, manly in a way that leaves every other guy you've ever known looking like a youth. But do you really know him? What secrets does he have, especially to cause him to have nightmares like the one last night? And why did he put me in his bed? Is that some kind of unconscious signal? And speaking of unconscious signals, what about you going down in your 'jammies to talk with him?

She slapped herself on the forehead as memories of the late night conversation came back. Idiot! Not only did you adopt a "classic female posture" by tucking your legs underneath yourself like that, you pretty much told him you've got a thing for him! At least he's being a gentleman about it, but then, that fits in quite well with what you already know about him.

So taken up with her thoughts was she that Daria didn't notice a couple approach her. It wasn't until one of them said "Daria?" that she shook herself and looked up from her folded arms. Before her stood Michael Jordan 'Mack' McKenzie and his long time girlfriend, Jodie Landon.

"Oh!" she said. "Mack! Jodie! Sorry, I didn't see you there."

"It's all right, Daria," said Jodie. "You looked pretty preoccupied there."

"Yeah," Mack said. "Anyway, how's Boston?"

Daria gave a slight smile. "Still full of beans," she said. "But Raft's OK."

"Where's Jane?" Mack said. "Usually when you find either you or Jane the other's somewhere around."

"Jane's inside," Daria said. "Talking to Tom."

"What? Tom Sloane?" Jodie said. "And is that why you're standing out here?"

Daria shook her head. "Actually I'm waiting for someone," she said. "We're meeting for lunch."

"Oh?" Mack said. "Friend from college?" he asked.

Daria shook her head. "Kind of a recent acquaintance," she said. She saw a late-model Mercedes Benz come up Dega Street and head for the parking area. "In fact, that's him now." She waited until Rawlings had pulled into a parking bay, turned off the engine, exited his car and keyed it locked. "See you made it," she said.

"Bit difficult to miss, actually," Rawling replied. "Especially with young Master Sloane's car parked out in front," he continued, pointing at Tom's Aston-Martin. " Can't be that many Aston-Martins of that model in Lawndale. Not to mention you standing out here like a ray of light in darkest night."

At that, Daria blushed slightly. Out of the corner of her eye she saw both Mack and Jodie stiffen slightly at Rawlings' Old Dominion accent and antebellum air. Interesting, Daria thought. I'd never have thought that they'd be so... sensitive about somebody simply because of his accent and bearing. She looked at Rawlings. It'll be interesting to see how he reacts to this situation.

Rawlings turned to face Jodie and Mack. "Friends of yours?" he asked, looking at Daria. There was nothing that anyone could condemn him for in his voice: just simple curiosity and an unspoken request for introductions.

Daria indicated Jodie and Mack. "These are a couple of people I went to high school with," she said. "Jodie Landon and Michael Jordan Mackenzie," she said, indicating each in turn. "This is Richard John Rawlings of Mount Folly, Virginia."

Rawlings extended his hand to Jodie. "Charmed to make your acquaintance, Miss Landon," he said.

"Likewise," Jodie said, extending hers. She was surprised when, instead of shaking her hand, Rawlings bowed over it.

Rawlings let go of Jodie's hand and extended his hand towards Mack. "Michael Jordan Mackenzie?" he asked, raising a slightly amused eyebrow. "I take it your father is something of a basketball fan."

Mack grinned. "He is," he said. "But most people call me 'Mack'." He reached out and squeezed Rawlings' hand and was surprised to receive a firm grip in return.

"And I insist on 'Richard'," Rawlings said. Letting go of Mack's hand he turned and looked at the Pizza King store with a rather apprehensive eye. "This looks like it'll be a, shall we say, interesting gastronomic adventure," he said.

Daria, Jodie and Mack grinned at each other. "We used to eat here all the time," Daria said. "Just the thing for growing adolescent boys and girls. Besides, Jane and I had our gastronomic adventure yesterday."

"True," Rawlings said. "I still can't believe that anybody would give an eatery a name like that. Good food, though." Jodie and Mack traded inquisitive looks at that sentence.

Daria smirked at the pair. "Richard took Jane and me to a new eatery in Cranberry Commons," she said. "'Le Petomane's New Orleans Cajun Eatery.'"

Mack burst out laughing at that, while Jodie covered her mouth and giggled. "You've got to be kidding me!" she said.

"Afraid not," said Daria. She indicated door. "Shall we go in?" she asked. "Crispy cheesy goodness awaits." The four of them entered the pizza restraunt.

Jane and Tom looked up as they approached the booth. "Hi, Mack! Hi, Jodie!" she said, waving at them. "I see you've met Daria's new friend," she said as they stood at the end of the table. Daria flushed bright red and gave Jane a death stare.

"Not just Daria's new friend, surely," Richard said. Looking around he continued: "Will there be enough seats for everyone? That is, I am assuming that Jodie and Mack are joining us?"

"Oh, we'll be all right," Jodie said. "We can catch up later."

"You sure about that?" Jane said. "We can move to a bigger booth."

"Yeah," said Daria. She looked at Tom. "Tom?"

"No objections from me," Tom said. "And I'm sure they'll bring our order to whatever booth we move to."

Jodie looked at Mack. He shrugged. "No skin off my nose," he said.

Jodie looked a little reluctant, but she said "All right. Shall we claim a bigger table, then?" Tom and Jane got up and the group moved to a larger table.

As they sat down Tom said to Daria and Jane, "I'll just go and tell them we've shifted, and have them bring our order here." He went over to the main counter.

Richard looked around. "Is there a menu I can look at?" he said.

Jane pointed oat the counter. "They put their menus over the main counter," she said. "You'll have to go over there to order."

"Ah," Richard said. "Guess I had better do that." He got up and looked at Daria and Jane. "Have you ordered?" he asked.

Jane nodded. "Yes, and Tom's paid for Daria and me," she said. "So you don't have to worry about that. Just get your own meal." Richard nodded and went over to the counter.

Mack looked at Jodie. "Our usual?" he asked. Jodie nodded. Mack got up and followed Richard over to the counter.

Tom came back and sat down in the seat he had claimed. "They'll bring our order here," he said

Jodie leant forward. "Where did you meet him?" she asked the three in front of her.

"I only met him a couple of hours ago," Tom said, "when I encountered Daria and Jane in front of the library. He seems to be all right, but that's an assessment formed on a very brief acquaintance."

"We met him in that diner on the green in the centre of town," Jane said. "We saved him from a heavily peroxided waitress there. He's following some sort of ancestor's trail through Lawndale."

"I see," said Jodie. "He mentioned something about you and Daria saving him from a waitress outside. Daria said that he took the two of you to lunch to thank you."

"Yeah," Jane smirked. "A Cajun place in Cranberry Commons called 'Le Petomane's'."

"Daria mentioned that outside," Jodie said. "So who's this ancestor he's following?"

"A Colonel Richard John Rawlings the Second," Jane said. "He was in the Confederate Army during their invasion of Maryland in 1862. Saved the life of Tom's ancestor."

"I see," said Jodie. She looked vaguely uncomfortable..

Daria looked at Jodie. "Spill it, Jodie," she said.

Jodie started. "Spill what?" she asked.

"Why are you uncomfortable with Richard?" Daria asked. "I mean, you've only just met him! And he hasn't done anything to offend either you or Mack, save be his usual polite self."

Jodie shot Daria a look. Then, thinking on her conduct, she relented. "Yeah," she said. "I suppose I have been feeling a little defensive around him. It's just... He reminds me of those old-time Southerners who owned slaves before the Civil War. Nothing specific, you understand, just... He has this air about him that makes you think he's stepped out of some history book. Or Gone With the Wind." She gave a shamefaced little shrug. "I just can't explain it any better than that. Sorry."

"Amy said something similar to that yesterday," Daria said. "Only it was something along the lines of 'Did you meet him at a Gone With the Wind convention'?"

"So he's met your Aunt Amy," Jodie said. "How did that go?"

Daria smirked. "He impressed her," she said, "along with my mother, my other Aunt, Rita and both of my grandmothers."

"He's met all the Barksdale-Morgendorffer women?" Jodie said. "And he impressed them?"

"Not only did he impress them, he also managed to stop them from quarrelling," Daria said. "He had both of my grandmothers eating out of the palm of his hand. And this morning, when they went shopping for this formal dinner we're having tonight, they were, according to my mother, both acting like 'giddy debutants', or words to that effect."

"Wait a minute. How come you've not been dragooned into helping get this dinner ready?" Jodie said.

"Daria's staying at my place," Jane said. "Both she and Quinn lit out when the combined Barksdale-Morgendorffer women reached critical mass yesterday afternoon."

"Quinn's staying at your place?" said an astonished Jodie. "Is she still alive?"

"Very much so," said Jane. "So's Richard. He couldn't get a room because of the big UFO convention in town, and rang my home number, which I had given him earlier."

"This just gets stranger and stranger," Jodie said. "How come Quinn hasn't been killed yet by either you or Daria?"

"Believe it or not, she's become a pretty interesting person," Jane said. "Sure she's still doing fashion-related stuff, but it's interesting fashion-related stuff."

Jodie took a close look at Jane. "Are you really Jane Lane?" she asked. "Or am I talking to a pod?"

"That's what I pretty much said before you came in when she told me the same thing," Tom said. "However, I don't see any implants and she did give a good reason as to why she thinks Quinn's newish interests are fascinating, so I'd have to say that this is Jane you're talking to."

"Gee, thanks for that ringing endorsement," Jane said. At that moment Rawlings and Mack return to the table, Mack taking a seat next to Jodie while Rawlings took the only available one left: next to Daria.

"We've ordered our meals," Rawlings said as he sat down. "Never thought that ordering something like this could be so... complicated."

"So what did you order?" Jane asked.

"I did a Create Your Own," Rawlings said.

"It sounded delicious," Mack said. "Beef, smoked bacon and ham with onions and garlic on the multigrain base. Standard tomato sauce."

"Can't stand what you call barbeque sauce," Rawlings said. "Just doesn't scour, as far as I'm concerned." He looked around. "I took the privilege of paying for drinks all 'round. Hope nobody minds."

"So, what do you use instead of barbeque sauce?" asked Jane.

"I couldn't tell you in all honesty," Rawlings said. "It's something the cook came up with. Pretty good, though."

"Who is your cook?" asked Jodie.

Rawlings fixed Jodie Landon with a measuring gaze. "Mrs Hattie Denton," he said. "And before you ask: yes she is black and she is my cook because she is good at what she does. So is Israel Horton, my butler and head of the household. Black and good at what he does. Shouldn't be all that much of a surprise as he was a senior non-commissioned officer."

Jodie flushed and looked away. "I didn't realise I was so obvious."

"Not to all that many, Miss Landon," Rawlings said. "Not enough to allow anybody to really call you on it. But you go through the school I went through, you learn how to read people's body language real well."

"Richard was in the Army for seven years," Daria said. "He's also see combat, which I think is the 'school' he was talking about." She looked at him. "He had some sort of flashback last night when he was asleep. Scared the dickens out of us all." She smirked. "Well, all of us except Trent: somehow I think he'd sleep through the Apocalypse."

"Well, Trent was out in the Tank last night with the rest of the band," Jane said. "But you're probably right: he'd sleep through the Apocalypse."

Jodie looked at Rawlings. "Will you accept my apologies?" she said. "I hadn't realised just how... well, somehow I get the impression you understand what I mean."

Rawlings waived her apology off. "Your apology is unnecessary," he said, "as there was no offense involved. I'm all too aware of the legacy that Reconstruction has left between our two... ethnic groups, shall we say? My understanding of things post-Darwin is that there is only one race: the human race." That, and seeing black men pick up guns and take their places in the firing line when things were hot, instead of running, he thought. Sooner have had them in my outfit than many of their so-called 'betters'."How about we change the subject and forget that any of this ever happened?"

Jodie looked at Mack, who smiled, took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "All right, then," she said. She took her hand back from Mack and turned to Rawlings. "Let me introduce myself," she said, holding out her hand. "I'm Jodie Landon. Please call me Jodie."

Rawlings stood, took Jodie's hand and bowed low over it. "And I'm Richard John Rawlings the Third, of Mount Folly, Virginia," he said. "My friends call me 'Richard', and I'd like you to do the same, Jodie."

"I blame her parents for this," Jane said as Richard let go of Jodie's hand and sat back down in his place. Jodie roller her eyes, while Daria, Jane and Mack smirked.

"Oh?" said Richard. "How come."

"Jodie was voted 'Student Most Likely to Overachieve' in our graduation class," Jane said. "She was driven to that by her parents, who insisted that she take as many extracirruculars as she could so as to make her school transcript look good for whatever college she got into."

"Mack managed to convince my parents to let me go to Turner University," Jodie said. "It's predominantly Afro-American, which made a great change to being at Lawndale High."

"You and Mack the only, ah, Afro-Americans at Lawndale, I take it," Rawlings said.

Jodie nodded. "My little sister Rachel's now the only Afro-American at Lawndale High," she said. "I actually feel sorry for her: not only will she have that pressure but she will also have to live up to our parents' expectations."

"Which basically means she will have to become President of the French Club, Vice-President of the Student Council, join the tennis team, edit the school yearbook etcetera, etcetera," said Daria. "Thus running the risk of burnout before she's twenty."

Rawlings looked appalled. "But why?" he asked.

Jodie shrugged. "My parents believe that because we're both female and Afro-American we have to prove ourselves to a far greater extent than the white kids," she said. "Which kinda sucks, when you think about it."

"Unfortunately I also get the idea that your parents would not appreciate getting any advice from outsiders," Rawlings said. "Especially if the person forwarding it happened to be white. Not to mention a member of the Southern aristocracy. Am I correct in this assumption?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Jodie said. "You should see my father. He reacts to even the most innocent comment as though it has some loaded meaning that's derogatory towards black people. My mother's just as bad, if not worse." She nodded at Daria. "Ask Daria what happened when her parents tried to talk to my parents at Grove Hills School for the Gifted when she and I were given invitations to attend. It wasn't pretty."

"I think I understand," Rawlings said. "So what was this 'Grove Hills School for the Gifted'? I take it did not meet with your approval, either of you."

"Take your standard, elite school, say like Fielding Prep," Daria said, smirking at Tom.

"Hey! Fielding was a much better school!" Tom said, affecting mock indignation. "We didn't walk around acting like the lords of the earth just because we'd scored well on some standardised tests!"

"No, you didn't," Daria said. "All the boys at Fielding, instead of belonging to the upper percentile of the intelligence spectrum, belonged to the upper percentile according to their parent's income. Much more selective."

"I am hurt by your comments, Daria," Tom said. "And to think that we had once dated back in high school." Just at that moment the pizzas and cola arrived.

The others looked at Rawlings' pizza as it was placed in front of him. "Man, that smells real good," Jane said. "Looks good and, if we go by the recipe you gave me for last night's dinner, it probably is good." She gave him a plaintive look. "Can I try a slice?"

Rawlings smiled. "Sure," he said, and passed a slice over.

Jane bit into it and her eyes widened in appreciation. "I think we'll have to make this our usual, amiga," she said. "It is really, really good!"

"I'll take your word for it, Jane," Daria said as she dug into her own slice of pizza.

Throughout the resulting lunchtime meal Rawlings sat back and watched the interplay between the young adults surrounding the table. He contributed an occasional comment here and there but contented himself with listening and watching. At one stage Jane asked him," I take it that having to eat Army cooking has made you appreciate different types of food, Richard."

Rawlings nodded. "Just be thankful that you didn't have to eat some of the things we had to," he said. Things like cush, he thought. "This isn't too bad," he said, indicating the pizza. "Sort of like a johnnycake with toppings. I could get used to this."

"You ate johnnycake?" Jodie said.

"Yes," Rawlings said. "Easy to make up in the field if you have the ingredients. And you didn't feel so hungry on a march." He finished his pizza and looked at his watch. "And it's about time that Miss Morgendorffer and I left so she can do her clothes shopping for the evening at the Morgendorffer residence." He rose. "Daria?"

"Clothes shopping?" asked Mack as Daria rose to leave with Rawlings. "What happened?"

"It's for this dinner we're having tonight," Daria said. "Grandma Barksdale and Grandma Morgendorffer seem to be going all-out to impress Richard here. My attendance, like most of the so-called 'voluntary' events at our esteemed alma mater, is mandatory. Unfortunately I don't have anything that's fit to wear at the kind of high-dinner this is turning out to be, so I have to go clothes shopping for something reasonably suitable. Richard's offered to accompany me." She turned to Rawlings. "Shall we go?"

"Jut one moment, please," Rawlings said. "Will you be all right to get back to your place by yourself, Jane?"

"If she likes I can run her back to Casa Lane," Tom said. Turning to Jane he said, "You don't mind, do you?"

"I think I can accept that offer, Thomas," Jane said. "We could run by your place and look at some of those photos. I got some reference materials from the library, but seeing actual photographs of Confederate soldiers would be so much better."

"All right, then," said Rawlings. "We'll meet you back at your house, Jane." He turned to the other three. "It has been a pleasure to meet you all," he said, "and I hope that we'll all meet again at some future date. It was a most enjoyable meal, and for that I thank you." He turned to Daria. "After you," he said.

Daria gave a little Mona Lisa smile and turned to the others. "I'll see you later at Casa Lane," she said to Jane. "Tom, Mack, Jodie, it was good to see you all again." With that, the pair left Pizza King.

Jodie turned to Mack. "I never believed that someone like that actually existed," she said. "Especially outside of history books."

Mack nodded. "Yeah," he said. "He got me to help work out his order. Somehow I don't think he has been inside a pizza shop before."

"Well, I'm probably not all that surprised," Jane said. "He gives the impression of being quite wealthy, possibly wealthier than young Thomas' family here. He probably eats at much fancier placed than this on a regular basis." She turned thoughtful. "He mentioned some place called 'the Powhatan' in Richmond. Must be some kind of fancy restraunt." She gave a wicked grin. "I wonder if we could convince him to take Daria to 'Chez Pierre'? It'd be great to get his opinion on it!"

"Playing the Yenta again?" Jodie said. "I'm surprised Daria hasn't killed you."

"She keeps threatening to," Jane said. "But carrying out the threat: well you know Daria: it'd take too much effort and commitment. But you've got to admit: he'd be a great catch for Daria to make."

"Well, he paid me a compliment," Mack said. "Or I think it was one. It sure sounded like a compliment."

"What did he say?" Jodie asked.

"He said that he could have used me on his staff when he was serving," Mack said. "I asked him if he had been in the Army and he said yes, and had come out with the rank of Captain in the Regulars. Interesting way of describing the US Army, though: the Regulars. And you could just hear the capitalisation of the letter 'r'."

"I've noticed that," Jane said. "I wonder if there's any significance to it?" She shook her head. "Nah," she said. "Probably just a quirk of his." She looked at Tom. "If you've finished your pizza we might just go to Sloane Manor and look at these photographs of yours."

Tom finished his cola and, wiping his mouth, got up. "Ready to roll if you are, Jane," he said. He nodded at Mack and Jodie. "Nice meeting you to again," he said. He turned to Jane. "Shall we?"

"Lets," Jane said. She too turned to Jodie and Mack. "If you're anywhere near Boston come look us up," she said. "It's been too long since we got together for something like this."

"Thanks, Jane," said Jodie. "I might do that."

"Me, too," said Mack. "'Bye, Jane. 'Bye, Tom." Both Jane and Tom made their goodbyes and left.


As Daria and Rawlings got into his car Rawlings asked, "So where do you want to go for your clothes?"

Daria sighed. "I suppose it had better be the Lawndale Mall," she said.

"Do you know how to get there from here?" Rawlings said."

"Yes." She frowned and looked out the side window as Rawlings pulled out of the parking space and drove onto the road. "I just hope that none of Quinn's ex-Fashion Club fiends are there. Then my humiliation would be complete."

"You strike me as having a somewhat negative view on things," Rawlings said. "May I ask why?"

"Well, it's not really negative," Daria said. "It's just that my chosen philosophy on life is Cynicism."

"Ah," said Rawlings. "The preferred philosophy of soldiers everywhere. Chosen on the basis that if you expect the worst you won't be surprised if it does indeed happen. Also that if it doesn't happen, you can then be pleasantly surprised.."

Daria looked back at Rawlings and smirked. "I take it that army life made you familiar with the philosophy," she said.

"You could say that," Rawlings said. They reached an intersection. "So where do we go from here?" he asked.

Daria started at the question, and then realised he was only asking for directions. "Uh, turn left here," she said. She kept giving directions until they finally had reached the Lawndale Mall.

Rawling parked the car. After he and Daria got out he keyed on the lock and looked around. "So why here?" he asked.

"Because here has the only clothing store that I'd be caught dead in," Daria said as they headed towards the mall entrance. "And the quicker this is over the sooner I can get away from here and not be seen buying clothes."

"Reputation to maintain, I take it?" Rawlings said, one eyebrow cocked in an amused fashion. Daria declined to answer the question as they headed through the entrance to the mall.

As they walked through the mall Rawlings looked around. To him it appeared pretty much the same as all the other malls he had seen. Passing by a bookstore they caught the eye of a young red-haired woman who was dressed in black and wore an ankh around her neck. Curious, she replaced the book she had been browsing through and, walking out of the store, followed them at a discreet distance.

Daria led Rawlings up to a storefront. Looking up at the sign, he read the name: J.J. Jeeters. "This it?" he asked, indicating the sign.

Daria nodded. "If they don't have anything here," she said, "then I'll have to go to Cashman's, which is someplace I'd rather avoid." They went in, with the young woman still following at a discreet distance.

"I suppose the clothes here are more to your taste?" Rawlings asked.

"And more to my price range," Daria responded. They went past several areas of clothing until they reached an area which held long skirts. "These should do," Daria said, looking at the range.

Rawlings stood by as Daria went through the skirts, looking for something she would feel comfortable wearing. Suddenly he had a feeling that he was being watched. Casually he walked over to a mirror and, glancing into it, saw the reflection of a red-haired young woman duck behind a rack of clothes. He looked away from the mirror, keeping it in the corner of his eye, and was rewarded with seeing the young woman slowly reappear from behind the clothes rack and then assume a pose of browsing through the clothes on it.

Most curious, indeed, Rawlings thought. But who is she watching? Me, or Daria? He thought about going up and confronting the young woman about it but decided against it. He turned to face Daria, who had pulled out a long black skirt.

"So, do you think this will be suitable?" Daria asked.

"Try it on and let's see," said Rawlings. Daria blushed slightly, but went into the change room. Rawlings moved over to a nearby chair and sat down.


"Dammit," muttered Scarlett deFaye under her breath as she shot a glance at the man who had accompanied Daria Morgendorffer and was now sitting waiting for her to come out of the change room. "I think he saw me."

She had been browsing through the occult section of a small bookstore in the Lawndale mall when she felt something that was at odds, to a certain extent, with her environment. Looking up she had seen Daria, accompanied by a youngish, strikingly handsome man, walk past the bookstore. When she had concentrated her senses she realised that the feeling of not properly belonging she had felt had been coming from him.

Hurriedly she had replaced the book she had been leafing through and, making sure that she wasn't seen, followed the pair into J.J. Jeeters. It was when Daria had started looking through a selection of long skirts that she saw him cast a surreptitious glance at a nearby mirror, forcing her to duck behind the nearest clothes rack. Her suspicion that she had been seen was confirmed when, after she had come back out from behind the rack and had started to pretend to be looking for clothes herself she saw that he was watching her via the mirror.

A small voice came out of a front pocket in the black sweater she habitually wore. "So why are you following this guy anyway?" it said. "He's not dangerous, is he?"

"Not as in that he's out to hurt people, no," Scarlett replied. "But there's something just... wrong about him." She shrugged. "Best I can put it, I'm afraid. But in other ways, he is dangerous. Possibly the most dangerous individual I have come across in quite some time."

"How dangerous?"

"I'm not too sure," Scarlett replied. She cast another surreptitious look at the man and noticed that he was not watching the mirror. Slowly, she began to make her way over to him, acting as if she was casually looking at clothes. "Only way I can find out is if I can get close enough to him to probe his psyche. It might also give me some additional information about where he's from."

"You sure this is a good idea?" said the voice.

"Not really," said Scarlett. "But it's the only way that I'll be able to get a handle on what he is. Now shush!" She crept closer. When she was close enough, she frowned slightly in concentration and reached out.


Daria stepped out of the change room. "So," she said. "What do you think? Acceptable?"

Rawlings looked at Daria. She was wearing her jacket and burnt orange t-shirt over a long black skirt that reached down to the middle of her shins. Underneath she had on her black Docs. "The skirt's not too bad," he said. "We'll have to find you a top to go with the skirt, though. Not too sure about the boots, though."

Daria looked down at the boots. "They stay," she said, looking back up at Rawlings.

"If that's the case," Rawlings said, "you'll have to find a longer skirt. Those boots do not go all that well with that skirt. Besides, I'll pay for them if need be."

Daria frowned. "You've spent enough on me already," she said. "I don't want you to spend any more." She sighed and went back into the changing room. "I suppose I'll see if I can find a longer skirt," she said. After a moment she came back out with her shorts back on. "Let's see what we can find," she said, putting the discarded skirt over her arm. A quick examination of the skirts available soon found one that was of the necessary length. It was, however, in a very dark green.

Rawlings nodded. "We can work with that," he said. He and Daria headed off to look at various tops.

"Perhaps a high-collared blouse," Rawlings suggested, "underneath a jacket." He looked at Daria. "We'll try for a similar shade of green in order to go with the skirt," he said. Looking at the jackets he son found one that he thought acceptable. "How about this?" he asked, taking it off the rack and showing it to Daria.

Daria gave it a critical examination. The jacket bore a resemblance to a riding coat. It was, however, cut somewhat differently so that it closed over the breasts, leaving bare only the upper chest and neck. "Hmmm," she said. "Not too sure about this."

"Try it on and see if it goes together," Rawlings said. Daria shrugged and went into the changing room.

Coming out she paused in front of a mirror. She was surprised just how well she looked in the outfit. Looks nice, she thought. Admittedly it does show off my outline, but not in a cheap, tawdry fashion. She whirled in place, noticing that the only thing that was out of place were her Doc Martens. I see what Richard means, she thought to herself. My Docs do not really go with this outfit. But otherwise, it looks great. She looked at Richard.

Richard nodded. "As long as we aren't doing any dancing," he said, "it should do well." They both headed for the blouses, not noticing Scarlett trailing along behind them. When they reached the blouses it wasn't long before they found what they were looking for.

"How about this?" Rawlings asked, holding out a plain white blouse with long sleeves and a plain high collar.

Daria shrugged. "Let's find one in my size and see how well it goes together," she said. She took the blouse and went into the change room. After a moment she came out wearing the full ensemble and, pausing in front of a mirror, examined herself in it. "All I need is a black velvet choker with an attached cameo at the front and I'm set," she deadpanned. She looked at Rawlings. "Richard?" she asked.

Rawlings simply stood there. His face bore a stunned expression. My God, he thought. It's as if Emma has come back to life. It took Daria repeating his name three times, each time a little louder before he shook himself. "Er, what?" he asked.

"Are you all right?" Daria asked. "You look as though you've seen a ghost."

"Not a ghost, Daria," Rawlings quietly said. Then he shook himself and gave an apologetic smile. "Sorry about that," he said. "Just woolgathering, I'm afraid." He looked Daria up and down. "You look excellent," he said. "Somehow I think you'll be the belle of the event this evening."

Daria blushed at Rawlings' comment. "Not if Quinn has her way," she said.

"Knows something about fashion, eh?" Rawlings asked.

"She was in the Lawndale High Fashion Club before they disbanded in my senior year," Daria replied. She looked at Rawlings. "And I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you seem to have an eye for fashion," she said. "But then, that may have been a part of your upbringing."

"You could say that," Rawlings replied. Actually, it is more a requirement of men of my social standing. Especially where I come from. But then, you wouldn't believe it even if I told you. Which I have no intention of doing. "So, are we purchasing the ensemble?" he asked.

Daria nodded. "I'll go and get changed, and then we can go pay for these." She headed back into the change room.


As she heard his smooth Southern tones Scarlett managed to probe his psyche. Her eyes widened in shock as the information she was looking for poured through.

No! she thought. This can't be possible! How can he be over one hundred and seventy years old? She shook her head to clear it. I thought Immortals or Methuselahs were made-up stories! She closed her eyes and concentrated harder.

He's got some kind of barrier there, she thought as she probed his psyche even deeper. What's he hiding? His real identity? She prodded and pushed, but no matter how hard she probed she could not get through the barrier. He's incredibly disciplined, she thought. However, I can sense that he has seen death: a lot of it, and on a scale that modern people can't really imagine, even after 9/11.

She frowned as something new impinged on her senses. A soldier? she thought. But what kind of army? Nobody wears uniforms like that any longer.

Reluctantly she broke the connection. So he's staying at the Lane place? she thought. Interesting. But how to get to talk to Jane Lane? We really didn't move in the same circles when we were in school. Who can I get to help me?

The answer cane to her as soon as she asked the question. Andrea, she thought. I'll talk to Andrea.

Nodding to herself she left the store. But not unobserved.


Most peculiar, Rawlings thought as he saw the red-headed young woman leave the store. I wonder just why she was watching us? He turned to find that Daria had finished paying for her outfit. "Ready to go?" he asked.

Daria nodded. As they were both heading out of the store Daria asked, in a casual way, "So what boots do you think would go with this outfit?"

Rawlings smiled to himself. Without any hesitation he said, "Lady's top boots. That outfit is pretty close to what a young lady would use when going for a ride. The shirt, however, would be of a far stronger material."

"Side-saddle, I assume?" Daria asked, smirking.

"Of course," Rawlings replied. "Of course you could ride normally, but then you'd have to wear riding breeches." They went out of the centre and walked to Rawlings' car.

Nearby, Scarlett watched as they got in and drove off. I hope that I can make some sense of this, she thought.


"Boy, does this bring back some memories," Jane said as she and Tom walked through the front door of the Sloane mansion.

"Good or bad ones?" Tom asked.

Jane hesitated before answering, "Mixed." She looked around. "So where'd you set up your workspace?"

Tom nodded in the direction of the study. "In there," he said. They both walked to the study door.

"So, how are you storing the photos?" Jane asked. "The originals, I mean.

"It's a pretty painstaking process," Tom replied as they entered the study. Before them stood a solid collapsable table that had stored underneath and around it several archival storage boxes. "After I scan them in I then have to remove the original backing material, using a scalpel and some solvent. Then, I put them onto a new backing card that's made out of acid-free cardboard so as to give them some support."

"Do you glue them on?" Jane asked.

"No," Tom said. "Glue's actually pretty acidic. Not acidic enough to burn through human flesh, but it can do a lot of damage to documents over a long period of time. We use special attachments that are also acid-free.

"The photo is then wrapped in a couple of layers of acid-free tissue paper before the whole thing is slipped into an individual wallet made from acid-free cardboard. The details are recorded on the front of the wallet before the photo is slipped in and then the whole thing is placed inside a special archival storage box."

"Also acid-free, I assume?" Jane said. Tom nodded. "Why all the acid-free paper and stuff?"

"The process used in making photographic prints, including the paper, happens to leave a residue of acids in the paper," Tom said. "That acid residue is responsible for old photographs going a sepia colour, especially in sunlight. Using acid-free archival materials actually leaches the acid out of the photographs. It also works for old documents as well, and Quinn will probably tell you that in clothing conservation they also use a lot of acid-free tissue paper to wrap articles of clothing in."

"Wow," said Jane. "So where are you going to keep the photos? Not here at Sloane Manor, I assume."

Tom shook his head. "They're all going into a nice, environmentally-controlled and secure vault in Washington DC." he said. "I haven't scanned all of them in yet: I just do them in batches. Easier that way."

"So the photos I'm interested in are scanned on to you computer?" Jane asked. Tom nodded. "Well, let's see what they are like, then."

"Ok." Tom walked over to the computer workstation that had been set up in the study. It had attached to it a combination scanner, printer, fax and photocopy machine.

"Nothing but the best, I see," said Jane.

"You need it for this kind of work," Tom said. "Don't ask how much this, including the software, cost. It's pretty frightening." He started to fire up the station.

"What, the Sloanes were frightened by the cost of purchasing this?" Jane asked. "Now that is terrifying."

"Dad did quibble a bit about the cost, but Mom convinced him to buy it," Tom said. "He had to agree that we do have a responsibility, not just to future Sloanes but probably to our community to do this right. Especially the Brady photos." He opened a window and started going down the index. "Mind you, they're not the only things we have digitised."

"Oh?" What else?"

"We've also made electronic copies of all our important papers," Tom said. "In fact, Dad's been using the scanner function to send electronic copies of various documents relating to the firm's activities, such as contracts, to customers. It's been saving him and the firm a lot of time." He found the folder he was looking for and opened it in a new window. "We've also digitised a lot of the old documents we found at Grandpa Sloane's. Including, I may add, the original grant given to Sir Edmund by King Charles II."

"I'm surprised that it survived this long," Jane said.

"So was I, until I talked to my lecturers," Tom said. "It had been drawn up on parchment, which is not a paper, by the way, but treated animal hide. Sort of like vellum." He clicked on a icon of a photograph and a photo management program started. "This isn't what I use to clean up the photos," Tom said, "but it's a good viewer with some useful features such as zoom." The photo he had clicked on appeared.

It was of a man who was a few years older than Tom and had a well-trimmed beard covering his face. Apart from that the similarities between the two were startling. "That's Jeremiah Sloane," Tom said. "Mother's going to get it printed at a professional photolab and then have it framed alongside a more recent picture of me. She thought it would make an interesting present."

"Hmmm," Jane thought. "Actually, speaking from a compositional view," she said, "your mother would be better off just having this picture developed, blown up as large as you can get it without losing any of the sharpness and then having a photograph taken of you and the photo. I see you sitting in front of it, with Great-Great whatever Sloane looking over your left shoulder at the camera."

Tom looked thoughtful as Jane described her idea. "Actually," he said, "that'd work pretty well."

"What would work pretty well?" asked a voice from the study doorway. The pair turned to see Katherine Sloane standing in the doorway. "Oh, hi Jane," she said.

"Hi, Mrs. Sloane," Jane said. "Tom's just showing me some photos you found when you went through your father-in-law's things. By the way, I only found out today about his death: I am sorry."

"Thank you, Jane," Kay Sloane said. "You were always good about that sort of thing."

"How's Mr. Sloane taking it?"

"As well as can be expected," Kay answered. "We had been expecting this for some time, now, but that still doesn't make it any easier." She came over to see at what they were looking at.

"Jeremiah Sloane, I see," Kay said.

"The likeness between him and Tom is eerie," Jane said. "They could almost be brothers."

"I'm looking at getting this picture developed and placed in a frame next to Tom's" Kay said.

"Actually," Tom said, "Jane came up with a better idea." He told Kay about Jane's suggestion.

Kay looked thoughtful. "That is a much better idea," she said. "I like it." She looked at the pair. "But you didn't bring Jane up here just to look at some old photos, did you?" she said.

"Actually, I did," Tom said. "Jane and Daria are doing some research on the Lawndale area about the time the Confederate Army passed through. I ran into them at the library. And you're not going to believe who else I met there?"

"All right. Who?"

"A Richard John Rawlings the Third," Tom said. "He's following the trail of a namesake, possibly an ancestor but definitely a relative. Colonel Richard John Rawlings the Second: the man who saved Jeremiah's life."

"A Rawlings? Here?" said a stunned Kay. "Surely not!"

"Daria and Jane are helping him out in his quest," Tom said. "Plus, I also gather that it's a way for Daria to say that she's occupying herself to her mother."

"Well! I suppose we should have him up here for dinner!" Kay said. "I suppose he knows the story?"

"He does," Tom replied. "So do Daria and Jane: I had to tell them in order to explain some things about what happened."

"I see," Kay said. She looked at Jane. "I take it you won't be repeating this story?"

"No fear about that," Jane said. "It still makes my skin crawl just thinking about it!"

"So why the interest in old photos?"

"Daria was going to see if she could write a couple of stories based on the Confederate Army being in the area for publication," Jane said, "and I'm going to do some illustrations for them. And before you ask, Daria isn't going to write a fictionalised version of what happened amongst the Sloane family. She was as creeped out about it as I was!"

"So I brought Jane up here to look at some of those photos we have of the Confederate Army when they camped for a couple of days on the old Sloane farm," Tom said. "Including those group portraits where Jeremiah appears with those Confederate officers."

"I see," Kay said. She looked as though she was thinking about something. "Jane, could I speak to you for a moment?"

Jane looked at Tom, who shrugged. "All right, Mrs. Sloane," she said. The two women went outside the room.

Jane turned to Kay. "Look, Mrs. Sloane," she said, "I swear on my ability as an artist there's nothing going on between me and Tom! Nothing!"

Kay smiled. "I wasn't going to speak to you about that, Jane," she said. "I was going to ask you to do something for me."

Jane gave Kay Sloane a wary look. "Okaay," she said. "What do you want me to do?"

"You know that idea you had for Tom's picture with the photograph of his ancestor?" Jane nodded. "Do you think you could do it as a painting? It'd make a wonderful graduation present for him."

Jane considered her request. "Yeah," she said. "Why not? I could do it in time for his graduation." She looked at Kay. "Is this going to be a formal commission?"

"Yes it will be," Kay said. "Shall we determine a price at a later date?"

"All right then," said Jane. "You work out what you are willing to pay for a painting of Tom and his ancestor and we'll see if we can find mutual grounds for a price." She looked back into the study. "And I suppose I had better get back in there."

"All right, Jane," Kay Sloane said. "But please don't tell Tom. I want it to be a surprise."

"No problem there," Jane said. "Anyway, he's given me an idea for another painting, which gives me an excuse to get a copy of that photo." With a nod at Kay Sloane she went back into the study.

Tom looked up at Jane as she came back over to the work station. "So what did she want?" he asked.

"Oh, just some ideas for that picture idea we discussed," Jane said. "She wants me to help with composition, but I suggested that she may want to leave that up to a professional photographer. I'd suggest my father, but he's a little hard to get in touch with."

"Where's he now?"

"Photographing some strange beastie in Outback Australia," Jane said. "So, what pictures have you got for me?"

"Here's some taken by that itinerant photographer," Tom said. He flashed up a picture of Confederate soldiers sitting around a campfire. "Apparently this brigade got a lead start on their march to Harper's Ferry."

Jane leant in close. The first thing she noted was that, although they were clearly wearing some kind of uniform, the overall appearance they presented was anything but. In fact, they looked more like armed hobos. They possessed, however, an air about them that hobos didn't. "Can I get a copy of this?" she asked. In reply, Tom sent the picture to the printer, which soon spat out a photograph-quality print of the picture. "Thanks," she said.

They went through some more pictures. Every so often Tom would print one out for Jane, who would then put them in a cardboard document wallet he dug out for her. Finally a picture of a group of officers came up on the screen. They were standing in front of a farmhouse clustered around a makeshift table. All were standing in suitably heroic poses.

"And here's that group of officers I mentioned," Tom said. "My ancestor is sitting in a chair on the porch off to one side of the photograph," he continued, indicating him with the mouse pointer.

Jane leant forward. "I wonder which one's Colonel Rawlings?" she asked.

"This one," Tom said, indicating on officer standing to one side of the table. There was a note on the back of the backing card outlining who was who." He indicated another officer. "This one, for instance, is Major-General Lafayette McLaws, the divisional commander."

Jane looked at the first officer that Tom had indicated. "Could you zoom in, please?" she asked. Tom moved the mouse pointer over the appropriate tool and clicked on it. He then moved the pointer back over the photo and clicked the mouse. Instantly the photo grew larger.

Jane looked at the first officer and whistled. "Forget about the resemblance between you and old Jeremiah," she said. "Richard could be this guy's twin!"

"You want a copy?" Tom said. Jane nodded and Tom sent the photo to the printer, and then sent a copy of the enlarged picture as well. Jane took them out of the printer and placed them in the wallet along with the others.

"Here's another," Tom said. "They obviously posed this one to make it look like they're looking at maps. Gives a good view of the sleeves and profiles of some of them." As he spoke he called up the photo.

Jane leant in close. "Could you zoom in on this one as well?" she asked. Tom did so. Jane took a close look at the figure identified as Colonel Rawlings. "Yep, he could pass as Richard's twin brother," she said. The figure had his left profile facing the camera, and Jane could see all the detail of his uniform and the way his sword was suspended from his swordbelt.

Something else caught Jane's attention. She squinted and got closer to the screen. "Could you zoom in a little more?" she asked. When he did, Jane gasped in shock. What the...? she thought. She looked at Tom. "Can you print this off at this size?" Jane asked.

"I can crop Colonel Rawlings' out of the photo and print that off at this size," he replied. He looked at Jane. "Something the matter?"

"I don't know," she replied. "Here: take a look at this and tell me what do you see?"

Tom took a close look at Colonel Rawlings' image. After a while he saw what Jane had noticed. "Good Lord!" he said. "That's impossible!"

"That's what I thought," Jane said. "It could be a coincidence. But exactly the same? It's have to be a pretty big coincidence." She looked at Tom. "This is getting freaky," she said.

Tom said nothing but simply nodded. The pair of them continued to stare at the unbelievable image in front of them.

I wonder how Daria's going to react to this news? Jane thought.


Rawlings opened the door to the Lane residence. "Good thing you've got a spare key," he said as he and Daria walked in through the door. Over one arm was a dry cleaning bag that contained his good clothes.

Daria smirked as she walked into the living area. "Well, Trent's probably down in the basement "practising" or over at the Zen helping to set up for their Saturday night gig." Her smirk grew wider. "Tell you what," she said, "how about we head on over there after the dinner so you can see just what Jane and I were talking about."

Rawlings gave her an uncertain look. "Uh, all right," he said. "Just exactly what kind of a band are they?"

"Theoretically, 'Underground Alternative Grunge'," Daria said. "But personally I think they're in a league all their own."

"Ah," said Rawlings. He looked around. "I suppose Jane is still over at young Thomas' place looking at photographs," he said. "Think we should call them and see how long she'll be?"

Daria thought for a moment and then shook her head. "No," she said. "She's a big girl, now. If she's going to be late she'll ring and let us know." She looked at the time. "Three-thirty," she said. "Dinner's set for, what, eight?"

Rawlings nodded. "We could arrive at say, seven," he said.

Daria nodded. "All right. That means a departure time of, say, six-thirty. Or we could go and do something else before we arrive."

"Oh?" Rawlings said with an amused raised eyebrow. "Such as?"

"Well, we could go to the video arcade in the Lawndale Mall," Daria said. "Somehow I feel like I need to go and shoot some virtual creatures."

Rawlings eyebrow remained raised. "Sounds entertaining," he dryly said. "I suppose I would also be expected to join in the evening's entertainment?"

Daria blushed slightly. "Or we could go and browse through some bookstores. Or perhaps window-shop on Dega Street," she said. "You might like that: it's got some interesting shops on it."

"Sounds like you have an interesting evening all planned out," Rawlings said. "And on that note I suppose I had better go, lay out my clothes and freshen up." He headed on up the stairs.

Daria suddenly realised just what she must have sounded like. She hit herself on the forehead with the palm of her hand. Idiot! she thought. Why not just make goo-goo eyes at him while letting your tongue hang out of your mouth and leaving a trail of drool when you move your head? Just to make it that much more obvious! She started to climb the stairs. And that suggestion for going to the Zen, let alone to the arcade! Morgendorffer, you're acting like some love-struck highschooler! Just be glad that Jane and Quinn aren't here! That would have indeed made my humiliation complete! She headed past Rawling's door, determined not to look in.

Arriving at Jane's room she shouldered open the door and went in. She placed the bags containing her newly-purchased clothes on Jane's bed. Turning, she walked over to Jane's dresser and looked in the mirror that sat on top of it.

She eyed her reflection. So, Daria, she thought. Are you going to consider this evening a 'date'? In a 'relationship' that doesn't even exist? With a man who is possibly a fair bit older than you? And who'll probably be out of your life in a few days' time anyway? I thought you got over having crushes when you got involved with Tom Sloane! She sighed to herself. But you do have to admit, having him on your arm would make a lot of girls envious!

She shook her head. Since when did that ever enter your calculations? She looked at her reflection again. So, despite your pretentions to the contrary, you are like those shallow, vapid drones you expressed contempt for. You're such a hypocrite! Disgusted with herself, she walked back to Jane's bed and took out the clothes she had bought on it. Then she decided to go back downstairs and fix herself some coffee while she waited for Rawlings to finish using the bathroom.


Rawlings heard Daria walk past the room he was using on her way back to the kitchen. He finished laying out his cleaned good clothes and got out his shaving and toiletries. He headed out and went into the bathroom at the end of the corridor.

Entering, he closed the door behind him and laid out his shaving kit on the washbasin. An observer would have been mildly surprised to see that Rawlings preferred a straight-edge razor to modern safety razors. He did, however, use pressurised shaving cream from a spray can. There were, however, no modern eau-de-colognes, however: the rest of his shaving kit was something that one would have seen only in a museum or in one of the more pricier antiques shops in New York or London.

He then stripped off his shirt. As a concession to the summer heat he did not wear a top underneath his shirt. However, out hypothetical observer would have been surprised to notice several scars on his muscled torso. Some of them bore a distinct resemblance to gunshot wounds while others showed where he had been cut by flying pieces of jagged metal. All of them had been sewn up with quite commendable skill, though. The vast majority of them were on his right-hand side, as though he had been standing near where something had exploded and he had taken some of the pieces in to his torso. When he stripped off his trousers more scars could be seen on his legs.

After he had finished with the shower he stepped out and towelled himself dry. Then, after replacing his trousers he stepped in front of the mirror, wiped away the steam condensation and, after squeezing out some of the shaving foam and applying it to his face, began shaving. It was quite clear that he was very skilled with the straight razor, and was able to shave himself using it without cutting his skin.

After he had finished he then wiped away the remaining foam and rinsed and wiped his razor dry. He then took out his bottle of rosewater and applied it to his freshly-shaven skin. He also applied it quite generously around the base of his neck and under his armpits. When he was finished he replaced the bottle in his toiletries kit, replaced his razor in his toiletries kit and looked in the mirror.

Well, General, he thought. Seems we've got ourselves quite a situation here. You meet a couple of young ladies who take a bit of a shine to you, with one of them inviting you into her house. Her friend, however, seems to have taken a bit more than a shine to you, if what just happened in the main room is any indication. So, O brilliant tactician, what are you going to do? You do remember the reason you're here in Maryland, don't you?

He gave his reflection a look of disgust. Bad enough she seems to have acquired some rather strong feelings for you, but you had to go and complicate matters more by thinking that she's Emma come back from the grave. You have to admit, though: she does more than resemble Emma Harrison. But she is not Emma! You saw them lower her coffin into her grave up in New England, just before you went back South when Virginia seceded. He gave his reflection a wry smile. I suppose that is why you were so 'courageous' in battle , isn't it, General Rawlings? So that you'd be reunited with your darling Emma. Just another way of committing suicide, wasn't it?

He shook his head. Even if you did decide to act out this fantasy that you had Emma back, it would be nothing but a delusion. You know that very well. Oh, sure, as far as your physical ages go you're probably just fifteen years older than she is, the same as you were with Emma. But by the other measure... Besides, you're from a completely different world to the one she's familiar with. Virginia aristocracy and all that.

He picked up his toiletries and walked out of the bathroom. He went back into the room he was staying in and laid everything out as orderly as they had been when he had gone to refresh himself. Then he changed his shirt and trousers, took out of his valise a civilian-cut waistcoat with a back made of brown polished cotton and a front of black velvet,, and put it on over his shirt. Then he took out his black cravat, and tied it around his neck, tucking the ends in underneath the front of the waistcoat. He fastened it in place with a diamond stickpin. He then took his fob watch and, fastening one end in a buttonhole, placed it in the front left pocket of his waistcoat. Finally he put on his boots and laced them up, making sure the hem of his trouser legs covered them so that only the highly-polished toes showed. He decided to leave his coat until they were ready to leave.

He exited his room and walked down the hall to the stairs. At the top of the stairs he hesitated, then steeled himself and went down. He stuck his head in through the kitchen door and saw Daria sitting at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee in front of her. "Daria?" he said.

He saw her start, and then her head turned towards him. Her eyes widened as she saw him in his shirtsleeves. "Bathroom's yours," he said. He stood to one side. Daria shook herself, then gave him a nervous smile and walked out of the kitchen past him and up the stairs.

Rawlings watched her go. Sighing, he went into the kitchen and poured himself a coffee from the pot Daria had made. Really not strong enough, he thought, but it's better than nothing. He went out into the living area and, sitting down, picked up a newspaper and started reading it.

After a while he heard steps behind him. Looking up he could see that Daria had showered and changed into her new clothes. Seeing her standing before him in those clothes he again felt that he was seeing the woman he had once known.

He got up. "I'll just go and get my coat, and then we'll leave," he said. He went back up the stairs, not noticing that Daria's eyes followed him. He went into his room, put on his coat, leaving it open to show his waistcoat, and headed back down the stairs.

"All right," he said. "Shall we go and see what the stores on Dega Street are like?" He was rewarded with one of her small smiles. He went to the front door and opened it, indicating that Daria should proceed him through. He followed her, closing the door after them. He then hurried to his car, keyed it unlocked and, going to the passenger side, opened the door for her. After she had got in he closed the door, went over to the driver's side, got in, started the car and drove out of the driveway and up Howard drive.


Not long afterwards Tom pulled up in front of Casa Lane.

He turned to Jane. "Have you worked out yet how you're going to deal with this discovery?" he asked.

Jane shook her head. "I still say it's a coincidence," she said. "Admittedly a pretty big coincidence, but still a coincidence." She got out of the car, closed the door and leaned through the open window. "Thanks for the ride home, Tom," she said. "And thanks for the photos, too."

"No problem," Tom said. "Glad to help." His face became serious. "You watch out for yourself, you hear?" he said. "And look out for Daria, too."

"Can do. I'll call you soon, Ok?" Jane said. Tom nodded. Jane got off the window ledge and Tom pulled the car out and drove off down the road.

Jane looked at the house. They must have left early, Jane thought. Good. I can start on those two paintings I have ideas for. She went up the footpath, opened the door and went inside.

Sometime later Jane was interrupted in transferring her preliminary sketch for her painting of Rawlings and Daria at the kitchen table by the sound of the doorbell. "Now who could that be?" she muttered to herself as she went to answer it. Well, it won't be the Jehovas' or the Mormons, she thought. Not after I answered the door the last time they came calling dressed only in a cowled black robe, an upside-down crucifix hanging from my neck, festooned in string lights and holding a clear perspex letter opener while the house is completely blacked out, lit only by candles and with some Buddhist chants playing in the background. Oh, and I shouldn't forget the incense and the greeting "Ah! Come in! We've been expecting you!" She smirked at the memory. That had been one of the better setups she and Daria had organised.

Jane frowned as the doorbell rang again. "Ok! Ok! I'm coming!" she muttered as she walked up to the door and opened it. "We already ga..." she started to say when she realised who was standing on her front doorstep. "Oh!" she said. "Hi, Andrea!" Talk about the ritually freakish! she thought. "What brings you to Casa Lane? Not that you're not welcome or anything like that: it's just that you're one of the last people I'd expect to be making a social call on the Lanes."

Andrea nodded. "I can understand that, Jane," she said. "However, I'm here on behalf of my colleague here," she said, indicating a small, slenderly-built red-haired Goth chick next to her.

Jane's brow furrowed in concentration as she squinted at the Goth chick. "Wait," she said. "I know who you are... They called you 'Ankh Girl' at Lawndale High, didn't they? She said.

The Goth chick shrugged. "Name's Scarlett," she said.

Jane nodded. "That's right," she said. "I remember now." She looked at the pair. "Come on in," she said and stood to one side of the doorway to let them in. She closed the door after they had come in and showed them through to the living area. "Take a seat," she said, sitting in an armchair while the pair seated themselves on the couch.

In an attempt to start conversation, and because she really didn't know how to talk to two Goths, Jane asked, "So, how's life?"

Andrea shrugged. "Not all that bad," she said. "Been seeing Charles Ruttheimer."

"You're dating Upchuck?" Jane said. "I heard something to that extent."

"Bit more than dating," Andrea said. She extended a hand to show off a ring. It was silver and set with a large black stone. "We're going to finish college and then get hitched," she said.

Jane's mouth hung open in astonishment. "You're kidding me," she said. "Forget I said that: you're not kidding me." She looked at Andrea. "Why?"

Andrea looked at Jane. "Once you get past the sleaze act," she said, "he's not all that bad to know. Plus," she smirked, "he has some other attributes that, well, I ain't sharing with any other girls!"

"'Other attributes'?" asked Jane. In response, Andrea's smirk grew even wider and she held her hands up a set distance apart.

"Forget I asked," Jane said, shuddering. "That is 'way too much information!" She looked at Scarlett. "So, what brings you to Casa Lane?"

Scarlett looked at Jane. "Earlier today I saw your friend Daria Morgendorffer clothes shopping with a rather handsome older man," she said.

"Oh, yeah," Jane said. "Richard John Rawlings the Third, a Virginian aristocrat from an old plantation called Mount Folly." She smirked. "Was she making with the eyes and the embarrassment?"

Scarlett and Andrea shared a look that, for some reason, gave Jane a feeling that she didn't like at all. "Okaay, what's with the look?" she asked.

Andrea and Scarlett looked at Jane. "I think that Scarlett may be the best one to explain," she said.

Jane looked at Scarlett. "Ok," she said. "Hit me. What's got you so worried?"

Scarlett calmly looked at Jane. "Well," she said, "there is something bout me and Andrea that you had better know. We're witches."

Jane looked at the pair. "What, with the broomsticks and stuff, or the New Age kind of witch?" she asked.

"Perhaps I should make it a little more clear," Scarlett said. "We're both Wiccans. And no, we're not like the witches you see in the movies. Nor are we into Satan and that sort of stuff. Wicca is a real religion. Some people call it a New Age thing, but there is a lot more to it than that."

"Right," said Jane. "So, what has this got to do with Daria and Richard."

"I was in a bookstore in the Lawndale Mall when I felt something wrong, as though there was something that didn't fit with our world. I looked up and saw your friend and this older man walk past. The sense of not really fitting came from him."

"Yeah, right," said Jane. She was showing her scepticism about their story.

"I see I'm going to have to convince you," Scarlett said. She looked Jane in the eyes. "You recently acquired a photograph of a group of Confederate officers gathered in front of an old farmhouse that used to stand on the hill overlooking town," she said. "Didn't you?"

The blood began to leave Jane's face. "Yeah?" she said. "Lucky guess."

"The photo came from your ex-boyfriend, Tom Sloane," Scarlett continued. "His family used to own the hill and a lot of land on which Lawndale now stands, including the farmhouse."

"What is this, some attempt to try and weird me out?" Jane asked. "If it is, well, sorry: you ain't got a chance of doing that." Not after the bit about Holiday Island, Jane thought. Mind you, that had to be the result of some baad pizza. Or perhaps too much of a good thing.

"The visit by the holidays wasn't a pizza dream, Jane," Scarlett said. "It happened. It's just because of the cantrip I set on the gateway behind the Good Times Chinese Restraunt that it felt like a dream. I also know about the gateway beside the Giant Strawberry."

"How did you know about that?" Jane said. Her face was now completely pale.

"She just does," Andrea said, shrugging. "Some of us do have the power. Fortunately for many people I'm not one, but Scarlett's the real deal."

"I'm beginning to believe you," Jane quietly said. "So, what about this photo?"

"You saw who you thought was a relative of the man who is staying here," Scarlett said. "However, you asked your ex-boyfriend to enlarge the picture, focussing on him. When you did, you saw that he had on his left hand the exact same scar that the man who is staying here has. You think this may be a coincidence, but you're not sure."

"My God," Jane quietly said. "So how does this concern you? I mean, Richard's not posing any danger to anyone, is he?" She looked from Scarlett to Andrea and back to Scarlett. "Is he?"

"He's dangerous," Scarlett said, "but he poses no real danger to either you or Daria. However, I'm sure that he doesn't belong here. But I need your help to confirm that. I also need your help to find out just what he's doing here."

"Right," Jane said. "I've got a real witch in my living room, and she wants my help. Go figure." She looked at Scarlett. "So, what do you want? A sacrifice? You're not gonna make me run through the forests naked, are you?"

Scarlett smiled. "No, Jane," she said. "I want none of those things. But do you have something that belongs to... Richard is his name?" At Jane's nod, she continued: "I'd like something of his that he's worn."

Jane looked at Scarlett. "This isn't some weird Goth thing, is it?" she asked.

Scarlett shook her head. "No," she said. "I just need something of his that he's worn so I can get a better idea of who it is we're dealing with here. A personal item, such as clothing, helps establish the links."

"And this does this, how?" Jane asked.

"Through impregnation with bodily fluids such as sweat," Scarlett said. "It makes it easier to be able to get access to an individual's psyche."

"Mind you," Andrea said, smirking, "the more personal the bodily fluids..."

"Say no more," Jane said. "That was waaay too much information!" She got up and headed for the laundry. After a while she came back carrying a bundled up piece of fabric. "Here!" she said, thrusting the bundle at Scarlett. "It's one of Richard's shirts. He was helping me clean up the house yesterday, so he got all sweaty and grimy. I'll be doing a wash Monday."

Scarlett took the bundle. "Perfect," she said. "Thanks." She held the bundled shirt up to her face and inhaled. Then, still keeping a hold of the shirt, she lowered her arms into her lap and closed her eyes. After a while, she opened them.

Jane took a look at Scarlett's eyes and immediately felt a shiver go down her spine. Her pupils had dilated to such an extent that they had all but blotted out her irises. She looked at Andrea. "Is she...?" she asked.

Andrea nodded. "Don't touch her," she said. "She's in a kind of a trance."

"But what's she doing?" asked Jane.

"She's probing the outer boundaries of our reality," Andrea answered. At Jane's look she shrugged. "Hey! That's the best way that I can explain it," she said. "I don't understand it all that well myself. The best way to explain it is to basically experience what's happening to her."

Jane said nothing, but kept staring at Scarlett's face.


Rawlings pulled into an empty parking spot on Dega Street. He looked at Daria. "This should do us fine," she said. They both got out of the car and Rawlings keyed it locked.

Daria looked at the sign. "We can park here for up to one hour," she said. Rawlings nodded and went over to put some money into the parking meter. Once he had put enough coins into the meter for an hour, he turned to Daria. "Miss Morgendorffer?" he said, extending his left arm.

Daria blushed, but hooked her arm through Rawlings'. They both started off down the street at a leisurely pace. Every so often they would pause to look into a store window, with Rawlings commenting on some aspect of the store, usually in a way that Daria hadn't seen before.

Passing by Axl's Piercing Parlour, Rawlings said, "I cannot, for the love of me, understand why people do that sort of thing." He looked at Daria. "Could you explain just why people do this sort of thing?"

To his astonishment, Daria went bright pink. "Er, I had that done to me, once," she said in a small voice.

"You're joking!" Rawlings said. To his amusement the shade of Daria's blush deepened. "Dare I ask where and why?"

"It was a belly ring, and I... well I did it to impress a guy," Daria said. "Jane's brother, Trent."

"Ah," Rawlings said. He chuckled, which caused Daria to blush even harder. "And how old were you at the time?"

"I was sixteen," Daria said. "Just a kid with a crush on my best friend's older brother." She looked away, her blush deepening even further. "Can we get off the topic now, or will you put me out of my misery right now?" Rawlings smiled, patted her hand where it rested on his arm and led her away from Axl's.

Looking across the street he saw The Funky Doodle. "Interesting name for a shop," he said, pointing at it. "Shall we go and take a look?"

"Yeah," Daria said. "Why not?" Looking both ways they crossed the street and headed into the shop. As usual, Rawlings held the door open for Daria to pass through.

The attendant looked up from the magazine she was reading. Her eyes widened as she took in who had just walked into the shop, and they widened even further as she saw Daria's companion. My God!, thought the attendant. How'd she catch someone like him?

Rawlings looked about the shop."Interesting," he said.

"Do you mean 'interesting' as in the Chinese sense of the term?" asked Daria.

"Interesting as in... interesting, I suppose," Rawlings said.

The attendant behind the counter said "Can I help you?"

Rawlings nodded at her. "Just browsing, thank you," he said. "We'll let you know if we need any assistance." With that, they started browsing through the store, looking through the various retro fashions in the store.

Rawlings paused in front of a purple velvet frock coat. "I have no words for something like that," he dryly said in a quiet undertone.

"I think it's supposed to be psychedelic," Daria replied in an equally quiet undertone.

"Ah," said Rawlings. They continued around to the front counter, where they saw that there was a selection of jewellery and other clothing accessories on sale.

Rawlings leant forward. Inside the glass case that served as the front counter he saw a black velvet choker with an imitation cameo at the front. "You said you were lacking one of these?" he asked, indicating the choker.

Daria looked at it. "You're not thinking of..." she said.

Rawlings looked up at the shop assistant. "How much for the choker with the cameo?" he asked.

The assistant looked down. "I can find out for you, sir," she said, and reached down into the counter. She brought it out and looked at the price tag. "Twenty-eight dollars and fifty cents," she said.

Rawlings let go of Daria's arm and, reaching inside his coat, pulled out a wallet. "I'll take it," he said, pulling out two twenties.

Daria raised her eyebrows. "I said I didn't want you spending any more money on me, Richard," she said, "and I meant it."

Rawlings looked art her as he handed the assistant the notes. "It'd really complete your outfit," he said. "And it would add to your looks." Daria blushed and looked away.

The attendant handed him the choker and his change. "If you don't mind me asking, sir," she said, "where did you find your clothes? They're really great!"

"I had them made by a tailor in Richmond," Rawlings said as he took it. "Unfortunately I don't think you'll be able to easily locate him." Especially since he was an old Alexandrine Jew with a small shop not too far from the Powhatan Hotel, he thought.

"Well, he did a very good job on your clothes," the assistant said. "Is that silk velvet?" she asked, indicating his waistcoat.

"It is," Rawlings replied. "I congratulate you on your eye for materials." He turned to Daria. "Do you mind if I put this on for you?" he asked. Daria, blushing, nodded and turned her back.

Rawlings slipped the choker around her neck, centring the cameo in the front and tied it up at the back, making sure that while it was tight enough not to slip, it wasn't so tight that it choked Daria. In order to do this, however, he had to lift up Daria's thick, auburn tresses, and his hands trembled slightly as he did so. He did not notice that Daria had caught her breath.

Rawlings dropped his hands by his side. "How does it look?" he quietly asked. In reply Daria went over to look in a full-length mirror.

"You're right," she said. "It does make my outfit complete." Her hands reached up to gently caress the cameo in the front. "Nobody..." she began.

"Nobody what?" asked Rawlings.

Daria turned around. "It's not important," she said. She hesitated, and then quietly said, "Thank you."

Rawlings gave a bow. "My pleasure," he said. The ostentatious gallantry helped Daria settle her nerves. She gave a slight smile and curtsied in response. After he replaced his wallet Rawlings once again offered his left arm to Daria and they both walked out of the shop, Rawlings once more opening the door and allowing Daria to proceed him

The attendant waited until they had exited before she reached into her bag. Pulling out a cell phone, she opened it and speed-dialled a number. "Hi," she said. "You're not going to believe what I just saw..."


"I just realised something," Daria said as they walked back down Dega Street.

"Oh?" asked Rawlings. "And what is that?"

"These clothes we're wearing," Daria replied. At Rawlings' arched eyebrow she explained: "They make us look as though we're High Goth, but without the makeup."

"'High Goth,'" Rawlings repeated. "And what, praytell, is a Goth? Besides a member of a people who invaded the Western Roman Empire?"

Daria looked at him. "You don't know what a Goth is?" she asked. Rawlings shook his head. She pointed at a pair of individuals who were dressed all in black and with white face makeup and black eyeliner and lipstick. "Those are Goths," she said. "The one in the frock coat and frilled cravat is what is termed 'High Goth.'"

Rawlings eyed the latter person. "Hmmm," he said. "He does look as though he stepped out of one of Poe's stories or poems, doesn't he?"

Daria stopped and looked at him. "You know about Edgar Allen Poe but you don't know about Goths," she said. A smirk grew on her face as she slowly shook her head. "I don't know what they're teaching people these days," she said.

"Having amused yourself at the expense of my education," Rawlings said, "shall we continue?" Daria's smirk grew larger but she didn't release her arm from Rawlings'. They continued down Dega Street, heading back towards where Rawlings had parked his car. Every so often they would pause to look into a shopfront window, and on one occasion they both went into a second-hand bookstore.

"Oh! Look what I've found!" Daria said as she reached up to grab a book.

Rawlings, who had been browsing nearby, walked over. "What is it?" he asked. Smirking, Daria showed him the title: The War of the Great Rebellion.

Rawlings put down the book he had been browsing through and reached for the one Daria held. "Ah!" he said, "I've been looking for a copy of that!" Daria, still smirking, handed him the book and Rawlings started to leaf through it. "Hmmm," he thought as he looked at the price written in pencil on the flyleaf, "a bit pricy, but not too bad for what it is." He closed the book and looked at Daria. "Thank you for finding it," he said. His smile grew into a sly grin. "And now to return the favour," he said. "Look what I've found over here." Picking up the book he had put down, he guided Daria over to where he had been browsing. "Look at this," he said, handing her the book he had put down.

Daria took the book and opened the front page. "Wow!" she said. "A first edition of Poe's collected stories! And it's signed!" she said. "Pity I can't afford it, though," she said, handing it back. She looked up at the bookshelf it had come from. "And I'll bet that edition of his poems is also a first edition and signed as well," she sighed.

"Well, one of us can afford it," Rawlings smirked. He reached up, took down the poetry volume and, taking the three books, continued on.

Daria followed. She had a faint suspicion about what Rawlings was going to do. It was confirmed when he walked up to the counter and said, "These three, if you please."

"Richard!" she said, coming up to him. "You're not going to buy those for me, are you?" He looked in her direction and simply smiled. She slowly shook her head, giving him a sardonic look but inwardly she melted. He's doing that for me! she thought. Not because I've done anything for him, but because he wants to do something for me. I've never really had any man do that.

Rawlings finished paying for the books, picked up the bag and again offered his arm to Daria. Wordlessly, she took it and they both exited the bookstore.

Out on the footpath Rawlings temporarily reclaimed his arm in order to look at his watch. "Almost an hour," he said, closing the lid and replacing it in its pocket. "We had best be going on." He again offered his arm to Daria who again took it, and they walked on back down Dega Street towards his car.

Reaching it, Rawlings keyed it unlocked, and opened the passenger side door for Daria. After she got in he shut the door, opened the rear passenger side door and put the bag containing the books on the rear seat. Then, after he closed it he went over to the driver's side and got in. "We still have some time left before we have to turn up for dinner," he said. "Oh, and by the way: do you know where I can get a decent bottle of wine? I suppose I had better bring one for dinner tonight."

Daria frowned in concentration. "There's a liquor store in the Lawndale Mall," she said. "I can't really tell you about what their selection is like: I've never been inside."

"We'll try there, then," Rawlings said as he started the car and drove off. "And you may get your chance to kill some artificial beasties."


"She hasn't moved," Jane said to Andrea. "Are you sure she's all right?"

Andrea nodded. "As sure as I can be without going along with her for the ride," she said.

Jane looked back at Scarlett. "I wonder what she's finding?" she mused.


Scarlett found herself in a jumble of images, memories, sensations and emotions. The images all appeared as though they were short movies being played on their own individual screens, all of them drifting against a background of a grey fog.. She could sense that the owner of the shirt had experienced far more in his life that most people had. And had experienced his fair share of tragedy.

She focussed on one set of images. The sense she got from them indicated that they were a strong link to whatever this man Rawlings was, and where he came from.

Suddenly, she found herself in a setting that faintly disturbed her. It was a graveyard. She looked around, initially seeing nothing but headstones and mausoleums. Then, nearby, she saw a group of people gathered around something. Hesitant, she moved towards the group, noting, as she drew closer, that all of them were wearing black.

As she drew nearer she saw that the women, while all wearing veils, also wore the gloves, wide skirts and bodices of mid-nineteenth century dresses, while the men all wore black gloves and the trousers and frock coats, waistcoats and cravats of the same period. All of the men carried what looked like top hats in one hand. At the head of the group was a minister of religion. He was wearing the vestments of a minister of the Episcopalian Church, and was intoning the burial service used at inhumation.

She managed to make her way through the group, who did not notice her presence there. In front of her loomed an open grave. On the other side of the grave she saw, amongst people who she realised were the family of the person being buried, one of whom wore the dress uniform of an officer in the United States Army of the time, the man Jane called Richard. She saw that he was weeping silently, tears falling down his cheeks, as he stooped over, picked up some dirt from the pile that lay nearby, and allowed it to fall from his hand into the grave.

She looked at the headstone. On it she saw the name Emma Alexandra Harrison. She looked back at Rawlings, who was now comforting, and being comforted, by the members of the dead person's family. So this is where the sense of a great loss comes from, she thought. He must have loved her a great deal.

She felt a great wave of compassion wash over her, and a part of her wanted to go and console him, but she knew that this was not possible.

She drew back, and the funeral scene receded until it became a small image floating in the misty darkness that surrounded her. She picked out another image, one that also had strong emotional undertones attached to it, and she found herself again being drawn into it.

She found herself in a drawing room, of the type that would have been found in the home of a wealthy Boston family. She turned around and saw, standing in front of a window that had lace curtains drawn in front of it so as to let the light in while denying outsiders a view into the room, the man Richard, and two other men, one of whom was the army officer. All of them were wearing the clothes of wealthy, upper-class men of the time.

Rawlings was standing with his back to the room, looking out the window, while the older of the two other men was seated next to a fireplace. The younger man was standing next to the older man.

As she stepped closer she could see that there was... argument or heated discussion were too strong for what was happening.

She heard them talking. "So, Richard," said the young man. "You're heading back to Virginia?"

Rawlings nodded. "I can't stay, Jack, Ned," he replied. "Much as I'd like to, I can't. Staying here, so soon after... Besides, the Charleston defences firing on Sumter changes everything."

"What if Virginia secedes?" asked the older man. "Do you think she will?"

Rawlings nodded. "The firing on Sumter pretty much guarantees it," he said. "My agent in Richmond has been keeping a close eye not just on sentiment in the city, but also on the sentiment within the Secession Convention. He tells me that, although the initial vote was two to one against, the crisis over Sumter made the delegates stay in session to await further developments."

He sighed. "You both know that I believe that secession is not the answer to a temporary political setback. And you also know my attitude towards slavery: it must sooner or later end, but that we can't set all of the Negroes free at once, that a graduated emancipation which is not confiscatory would be the best solution. I must admit that President Lincoln's inauguration speech gave me some hope when he said that he was not going to interfere with the South's 'peculiar institution' where it exists, but I was afraid that the hot-heads would seize on his statement that he would not allow it to expand into the territories. Many of which I believe are unsuitable for the institution."

"So you think that Virginia will secede," said the younger man.

Rawlings nodded. "Yes I do, Jack, yes I do," he sadly replied. "The call for seventy-five thousand volunteers makes it all but certain. Henry, my agent in Richmond, tells me that the delegates to the convention have started to use the word 'coercion' in their discussions. He says that they believe that they are being coerced to act against fellow Americans, and that if the central government can only ultimately rely on coercion, then they can in all honesty no longer give that government their allegiance." He sighed again. "I never thought I would be glad that my father is dead, but now I am glad he is. This would have killed him anyway." He gave a wry chuckle. "I'm also glad that my father's death caused me to resign my commission in the Regulars. At least I won't have that on my soul."

"Be glad that you're out of the Army," Jack said. "There are rumours going around that Simon Cameron, the Secretary of War, is going to get all of the officers to re-swear their oaths of allegiance."

Rawlings snorted. "If the Republicans were looking for a means to rid the Army of pretty much all of its Southern-born officers, they couldn't have found a better method," he said.

"Rumour also states that Colonel Lee of the 2nd US Cavalry will be offered command of the Army and be promoted to Major-General if he accepts," Jack said.

Rawlings shook his head."He won't accept," he said. "He'll resign before he leads an army that could potentially be used to invade his home state and against his own people," He turned saddened eyes on his two companions. As he turned around Scarlett saw that he wore a red, white and blue cockade on the lapel of his coat. "It will tear his heart in two, being forced to choose between the Union and Virginia, but he will choose his state. Much as I must choose my state, and suffer the same fate for my heart." He walked over to the mantelpiece and picked up a black-framed photograph. "I'm glad Em never lived to see this evil day," he said.

Scarlett felt drawn to look over Rawlings' shoulder. She went up and, standing as high as she could, tried to look at the photograph. His height prevented her from getting a good look at it, but he replaced the picture from where he had picked it up.

As he replaced it Scarlett got a good look at it. She gasped.

The picture of the young woman bore a very strong resemblance to Daria Morgendorffer.


What does this mean? Scarlett wondered as she again drifted in what she thought of as the stream of Rawlings' psyche. Is he here for Daria Morgendorffer? Or are the Fates pushing them together? In fact, just why is he here? You had better start looking for the answer to that and the other question: where does he really belong?

Scarlett began examining other images, trying to find one that she could use to get the answers she wanted. However, any that could have hinted at where the man Richard came from were still guarded, as if something other than the man's disciplined psyche was blocking her path. Some of the others... She shuddered at the fleeting images of violence and death, evidence that he had been involved in terrible battles, which, she now knew, indicated that he had fought in the Civil War. Yet that knowledge was at odds with the impression she had of him: that he was at most, around fifteen years older than she was.

Finally she located one she could enter. It, however, also exuded a feeling that was familiar to her: something that told her that she would find herself on familiar ground. Yet there was also a feeling that the ground would not be all that familiar. Taking a deep breath she entered its frame.

She found herself on a hilltop. Looking out from it she could see in the distance a small settlement that looked as though it was clustered around a crossroads. Open fields separated her from the settlement. For some reason the view looked vaguely familiar.

Unbidden, a name came to her: Sloane's Crossroads. She wondered at the significance of the name. Then she realised where she was. She was standing on top of the hill that overlooked Lawndale, where the park was. But how far back into the past am I? she wondered.

She looked around. Off to one side she could see the big tree that she had known for most of her life in Lawndale. The picnic tables and barbeque, however, were not there. Instead the tree stood in a large farmyard. A few yards back of it stood a large, clapboard farmhouse, somewhat weathered over the years but well maintained. On its wide verandah that doubled as a porch sat a young man, in his twenties, his right leg propped up on a stool that had a cushion placed on it. Next to him stood a small table with a meal and drink on it, and on the opposite side of the table was another chair.

Nearby, standing around a makeshift table, she saw a group of men wearing grey uniforms, examining various pieces of paper and what looked like maps. Standing at the focal point of the group was the man she knew as Richard. He too, was wearing a grey uniform, and he looked as though he was in charge of whatever was going on. She also saw scattered around the farmyard other men, some on horseback, some in grey uniforms, others in a butternut-coloured uniform. Off to one side they guarded another group of men who also wore similar coloured uniforms. I wonder what that's all about? she thought.

Rawlings spoke to one of the officers, who nodded, gave a salute that strongly resembled the British one, and ran off down the stairs to a tethered horse. He untied it, got on and rode out of the farmyard. Rawlings spoke to the others, who all, save for a couple, nodded, saluted and then scattered to do whatever tasks he had assigned them. He then spoke to the two remaining officers and then walked down the verandah to sit down with the young man.

Scarlett moved closer to hear what was being said.

"I'm sorry for the, ah, inconvenience, that we've put you through so far," Richard said to the man, "and I'm afraid the I'll be putting you to some more. My division will be here shortly and we'll be setting up camp here. More than that, actually." He poured himself a drink from the pitcher.

The young man shrugged. "It's not as thought I could have done anything to stop you," he said. "But at least you're being gracious about it." He took a bite from the meal that sat on the small table. "I gather you're looking to fight a battle hereabouts."

Richard shot the young man an assessing look. "You managed to come to that conclusion from remarkably few clues," he said. "What makes you say that?"

"The fact that you're using my house as a headquarters," the young man replied. "You've just sent most of your officers off to carry out some sort of duties, but you haven't moved yourself. Says to me that you're preparing for a fight here."

Rawlings looked at the young man. "You should have been in the Old Army, Mister Sloane," he replied.

Sloane shrugged. "My father would have had a few words to say on that subject," he replied. "His uncle served on a privateer in the War of 1812, came back rich and went into trading. Including slaves." He gestured at the group of men under guard."That's his side of the family," he said in a disgusted tone.

"I take it you are an Abolitionist, then?" Richard said.

Sloane nodded. "I suppose you own slaves yourself," he replied.

Rawlings nodded. "Only on my family's properties in the Cotton States," he replied. "I manumitted all of the slaves we had in Virginia. Not that we had all that many: wheat and indigo aren't that labour intensive, especially with the new reaping machines."

Sloane was surprised. "I take it you don't really hold with slavery, then?" he asked. Rawlings nodded. "If that's the case, then why not free all of them?"

"I can do that in the areas of Virginia where my family hold land," Rawlings replied, "because I can then protect them as free men and women of colour from people who will try and claim them as runaway slaves under the Fugitive Slave Law. I've had to do that a couple of times. Nobody in Virginia will argue with a Tidewater family as rich as mine is, so my free people are safe. In the Cotton States, except for parts of Louisiana, it's a different matter entirely."

"What, you mean that free men and women have been claimed as runaway slaves down there?" Sloane asked. "I thought that was an exaggeration dreamt up by the more radical Abolitionist newspapers."

Rawlings nodded. "Unfortunately it isn't" he replied."Some of them have even had the hide to try and take some of my people." He looked at Sloane. "It sometimes does happen, Jeremiah, that some fugitive slave hunters will grab someone's slaves and try and claim them as runaways. Especially if the owner is an absentee one. However, my managers are quite good people: all ex-Army non-commissioned or commissioned officers, whom I have interviewed and selected personally. They deal with the matter." He gave a fierce grin. "I have had the rather savage pleasure of having such people as these fugitive hunters branded 'slave stealers' by the courts, and there's not a thing they can do about it."

Jeremiah Sloane looked at the Confederate officer next to him. "So, how do you treat your, er, 'people', then?"

"Except for their legal condition, they are as good as free," Rawlings replied. "They live in slave cabins. However, I've ensured that their cabins are at least as good as those of your average white farmer. I don't believe in scrimping on things like that. And I don't sell them: I've got enough land to have them work on, not to mention some other enterprises the Rawlings family have, such as brickworks and building, and I look after it as well as my people: I don't just blindly plant crops and exhaust the soil. And If I'm opening new acreage, I send families rather than individuals to settle and work the land.

"As for disciplining them: I actually follow a system used by President Davis on his plantation: the slaves themselves sit in judgement on anybody who had broken the rules, with the manager, or myself, if I'm present, reserving only the right to modify any punishment. And, hard as it may be to believe, the slaves often would inflict a far more harsher punishment than either myself or my managers would." He looked out over the Sloane farm. "It's not perfect, but it's better than most."

Rawlings noticed something coming up the road that ran past the farm: a plume of dust. He stood up, walked over to the makeshift table, picked up a set of binoculars and put them to his eyes. While he did this Scarlett took the opportunity to examine his left hand. Sure enough: there was a scar running across the back. It looked relatively fresh, as though it had been inflicted not all that long ago.

Keeping a hold of his binoculars he walked over to where the young man sat. "Your additional guests are on their way," he said. "I had best be getting ready for them." He looked at Jeremiah Sloane's leg. "Doctor Griffin advises that we wait as long as possible before moving you any great distance," he said. "So I'll wait as long as I can until we evacuate you and your people. I'll be placing an ambulance at your disposal for the trip. Is there anywhere else you can go?"

Jeremiah Sloane nodded. "There's another farm not too far up this road," he said. "I can move there." He looked at Richard. "You think there'll be a fight here?"

Rawlings nodded. "I'm counting on it," he replied.


Abruptly, Scarlett found herself drifting once again in the stream if images.

She thought on what she had seen. He was a Confederate officer, she thought, and quite possibly a general. But he was readying himself to fight a battle where Lawndale now stands. But there was never a battle fought here! If there had been, the local Chamber of Commerce would have made a big deal out of it! Look at Middletown, for instance, or even Frederick! Not to mention Gettysburg or some of the other places where large, and not so large, battles were fought!

She frowned. The clues to who this man Richard Rawlings was were here. It was going to take some effort for her to be able to ferret them out, however: effort and time.

And she was running out of time: she had already spent a dangerous amount of time here in the impact his psyche had on the fabric of reality. If she spent too long here she would lose herself, and be unable to return to her physical body. Reluctantly, she made the decision, and dropped out of the stream, back into her body.


Scarlett suddenly started and gasped aloud, causing Jane, who had been kneeling in front of her, to fall back with a cry of alarm. The young woman seated in front of her closed her eyes, as if shielding them against a blinding light. Her entire body shuddered and her breathing, which had been erratic, soon slowed to its normal routine. Slowly, she opened her eyes, and Jane noticed with interest that her pupils had returned to their normal size.

Andrea had moved beside Scarlett and was rubbing her back. "See anything?" she asked.

Scarlett didn't say anything, but nodded her head. "Want something to drink?" Andrea asked. Again, Scarlett didn't speak, but simply nodded. Every so often her body shuddered, as if she had made some massive physical effort.

Andrea looked at Jane. "Do you have any coffee in the house?" she asked. "Scarlett needs something to help her reattach herself to this plane of reality."

Jane nodded. "Does she have any milk or cream in it?" she asked.

Andrea turned to Scarlet. "Milk or cream in your coffee good?" she asked. Scarlett nodded. As Jane got up to get the coffee Andrea called after her, "If you've got something like whiskey here, put a shot of it in Scarlett's, will you? Sometimes it helps." Jane said nothing but nodded and went into the kitchen. After a while she came back out with three cups of coffee. She handed one to Scarlett, who took it and started drinking it down at an alarming rate.

"Don't worry," Andrea said. "This is pretty normal. The heat won't hurt her." She took a sip, and raised her eyebrows. "You put a shot in mine as well, didn't you?" she asked.

Jane nodded. "Put one in mine as well," she said. "After what just happened, I felt I could use a shot myself." She too, started sipping her coffee.

After a while, Scarlett put down her drink. "How long?" she croaked.

Andrea looked at a clock. "Almost two hours," she said. "You were getting me worried that we'd lost you, girl." Scarlett nodded and took a sip from her coffee.

"'Lost her?'" asked Jane.

"It's pretty dangerous stuff, what she just did," Andrea replied. "A person can lose themselves if they're not careful. If that happens they won't be able to return to their physical body, not unless someone pulls them back in. Which, if she had left it any longer, I would have had to do."

"I thought you said you didn't have any powers?" Jane said.

"I have some small abilities," Andrea said. "But Scarlett has the power. And she needs someone to act as a sheet anchor of sorts, which is my role. Trust me, you don't want to know what I've would have had to do if I'dve had to go in and bring her back."

"Bit gruesome?" Jane asked.

"You could say that," Andrea said. "But not gruesome as in sacrifices and that. Trust me: you don't want to know."

"I'll take your word on that," Jane said. They both watched as the red-haired girl slowly managed to bring herself back under control. Finally, her body stopped shuddering, although every so often a small spasm would shake a part of her small frame.

"So," said Andrea. "What did you find out?"


Daria and Rawlings walked up the footpath towards the front door of Schloss Morgendorffer. "Good thing I called ahead and let everybody know that we were on our way," said Daria as they reached the front door.

"Indeed," Rawlings replied as Daria slid her front door key in and opened the door. "I had no idea that your grandmothers were going all out to make this a memorable night." He held the door open as Daria stepped through the doorway, followed her through and gently closed the door.

"Neither did I," replied Daria. "By the sounds of it we'll be having leftovers for quite some time."

They were walking through the entrance hall and headed for the living room when they heard, "Daria! Is that you?" coming from the top of the stairs. Looking up, they saw Quinn, dressed in the gown she had worn for her senior formal, looking down at the pair of them.

Daria smirked. ""No, Quinn," she replied. "I'm Great-great-great-great Grandma Barksdale, come back to haunt my descendants."

Quinn rolled her eyes. "Very funny, Daria," she said. "But seriously; you look good dressed like that." She came down the stairs and slowly walked around her older sister, taking in her appearance. Looking down at her long skirt, she said, "You've got your boots on underneath that, haven't you?"

"Guilty as charged, Officer," Daria said, her smirk growing.

Quinn mock-sorrowfully shook her head. "I know it's impossible," she said, "but surely you could have broadened your horizons just a little more?" She finished her examination and, standing in front of the pair, nodded her head in approval. "Not bad," she said. "Not bad at all. It shows off your figure but still maintains a high level of decorum. I couldn't get away with this look, but you can. And the colour goes well with your hair." She turned to Rawlings. "I take it you helped her choose her clothes?" she asked.

Rawlings nodded. "I made a couple of suggestions," he said. "But the boots stayed: that was made very clear." Daria just shook her head at his words.

Quinn ran her expert eye over Rawlings' dress. "You look magnificent," she said. "Some would call this look somewhat archaic, but you've made it somewhat cutting edge. Plus it really, really suits you." She leaned in and looked closely at the waistcoat. "Silk velvet?" she said. "And real gold ball... no, wait: you've got woven ball buttons made out of gold thread!" She looked up at Rawlings. "Just where did you find them?"

Rawlings shrugged. "I'll have to ask my tailor about that," he said. "He made up the suit."

Quinn's jaw hung down in shock. "I'll have to get his name off you, so I can go and find out where he got those from!" she said. "I know how to make them, but to find a supplier..." She trailed off into silence.

Rawlings looked at Quinn. "He has a small shop in Richmond," he said. "He tends to be, shall we say, a bit selective about who he deals with. I only managed to get onto his client list because he had dealt with my father." He also had a few very distinguished Virginians as clients as well, including at least one President of the United States, Rawlings thought.

Just then, Helen's voice could be heard coming from the dining room. "Quinn?" she asked. "Are you there?"

"In the living room, Mom," Quinn said. "Daria and Richard have just come in the front door."

Helen walked out of the dining room. "Good," she said. "Daria could help set..." She halted and stared at the pair of them standing in front of her. "My lord!" she said. "You look very nice, Daria," she said.

"As opposed to how I look normally?" Daria responded.

"Well, even you would have to admit that you look quite nice in those clothes," Helen replied. She turned around and yelled, "Jake! Come here! And bring the camera!" She turned back and looked at Rawlings. "And you look... magnificent."

"Just what I said, Mom," Quinn said. "It makes... no, it emphasises that he's a real man!" Rawlings blushed slightly at this complement.

Jake Morgendorffer came in carrying the camera. "I've got the camera here, honey," he said. "What do you..." He trailed off as he caught sight of Daria. "Daria?" he said.

"Forgotten who I am already?" Daria smirked.

"That dress really suits you, kiddo!" Jake said. He held up the camera. "Mind if I take a picture?"

Daria shrugged. "Why not?" she said. She looked at Rawlings. "Want in on this?" she asked.

"Not right away," Rawlings replied. "Perhaps later."

"Oh, come on, Richard!" Quinn said. "The two of you go quite well together! You set each other off very nicely!" Rawlings shrugged, set down the bag containing the wine and offered his arm to Daria. Daria shot him a look, and then, shrugging slightly, took his arm, giving a small Mona Lisa smile as she did so.

Jake took a couple of photographs, and then said, "How about one with you mother and sister, Daria?" Daria nodded and disentangled her arm (with some reluctance) from Rawlings'. He stepped out of the frame and Helen and Quinn stepped in. Jake arranged the three with Helen flanked by Daria and Quinn and then took a couple more pictures. At this juncture Rita walked into the living room.

"Helen?" she said. "Mother said to tell you that dinner will be ready to serve in about an hour's time." She then saw Daria and Rawlings and her eyes widened. "My God," she said. "You look quite good in that outfit, Daria," she said. Turning to Rawlings, she said, "And you look positively dashing, Mr. Rawlings!" she said.

Helen smiled and said, "I'll need a little help to get the table properly organised." She looked at her daughters. "Girls?" she said. "I'll need you to help set out the tableware."

Rawlings picked up the bag containing the wine he had set down earlier on. "I hope this isn't an imposition, Helen," he said, handing her the wine, "but I bought a couple of bottles of what I hope is an acceptable wine for this evening."

"Oh, you shouldn't have!" Helen said, taking the bag. She opened it up and pulled out one of the bottles. "My word!" she said, "A French wine! And from the Rothschild estate!" She looked at Rawlings. "I think we can find a use for this," she said. "I'll open it and let it breathe for a while."

Rawlings nodded. "Someone who knows how to treat a wine," he said. "I approve wholeheartedly."

Helen turned to Jake. "Well!" she said. "Don't just stand there! Offer Daria's guest a drink or something!" She turned to her daughters. "Daria? Quinn?" she said. She headed into the dining room with Quinn and Rita following.

Daria turned to Rawlings. "I'll just help Mom set up the table," she said. Rawlings nodded, and Daria followed the others into the dining room.

Jake turned to Rawlings. "So," he said. "Do you mind if I ask you what you do for a crust?"

Rawlings shook his head. "You could say that I'm one of the 'idle rich'," he replied. "But I was in the Regular Army for a while."

"Oh," replied Jake. "I wasn't, but I went to military school."

"Which one?" Rawlings asked.

"Buxton Ridge," Jake said. "Or, rather, I was SENT there by my vicious, SADIST of a FATHER!"

"Er..." Rawlings said. "Are you all right, Jake? Perhaps we could..." Unfortunately Jake was by now working himself up into a frenzy.

"Oh, he sent me there because he thought that I was too wimpish to be a son of the ol' Mad Dog," Jake said. "Noooo, we couldn't have that now, could we? So I get sent to hell just so that he could say that none of his sons were wimps!"

From inside the dining room Helen could be heard saying, "Oh, dear. Your father's off on another rage. Daria, could you go and help calm him down?"

Daria came into the living room, took one look at the scene (especially a very uncomfortable Rawlings, who was totally unprepared for something like this,) and walked over to the drinks cabinet. "Dad?" she said. "Would you like a martini?"

"Gee, thanks, kiddo!" Jake said, not noticing Daria's wince at the term. "You want something, er, Richard?" he asked.

Rawlings shot Daria a grateful look. "Yes, please," he said. "Er, brandy?"

Daria smirked at the request. "I thought you'd want that with cigars afterwards," she said.

"Too warm for port," Rawlings replied. "Besides, I don't know what you have here."

"Fair enough," Daria said. She pulled out the ingredients needed for Jake's favourite martini and mixed it, then poured a brandy into a brandy balloon." Here you are," she said, handing them their respective drinks.

"Thanks, kiddo!" Jake said.

"Thank you, Daria," Rawlings said. He raised it in a silent toast to her. Daria's cheeks became coated with a faint frosting of pink.

"Thank you," she said quietly.

Just then, Ruth Morgendorffer came out into the living room. "Jake, dear," she said. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Mother," he replied. "My wonderful daughter has just fixed me a drink." Daria blushed slightly harder at that praise.

"Well, then," Ruth said. "Just come on over here and sit on the lounge for a moment. Tess and I will have dinner ready soon." She guided Jake over to the lounge and sat him down.

While she did that, Rawlings leaned over and whispered to Daria, "Your father does this often?"

Daria nodded. "His father, Nathan 'Mad Dog' Morgendorffer, was a Marine in Korea," she whispered back. "He apparently treated my father and his brother pretty harshly. Possibly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder."

Rawlings nodded. "A combat veteran," he said. "I should have realised when I saw your father." He looked at Daria. "I've seen the effects that some men who've 'seen the elephant' have on their children." He looked at Ruth. "And their spouses." He looked at Daria. "I don't know if this will help, but one of the first Federal units that broke and ran at First Manassas was the battalion of United States Marines that was there."

Daria's eyes widened at that information. "I didn't know that!" she replied.

"True all the same," Rawlings replied. When the Thirty-third Virginia, plus the Sixth North Carolina and the Second Mississippi overran not only them but also the Eleventh New York and two batteries of Federal artillery, he thought. At least, that's what I heard from Hunter McGuire and Sandy Pendleton.

Tess, having settled Jake down, turned to Daria and Rawlings. "My!" she said. "You look quite nice tonight, Daria!" She looked over at Rawlings. "And so lucky to be accompanied by such a handsome, dashing and, may I say, debonair young man!"

Daria frowned slightly at her grandmother's words, but Rawlings gave a small smile and bowed slightly. "And I am fortunate to be able to accompany such a rare and lovely young lady as your granddaughter," he said, which caused Daria's cheeks to heat up slightly.

"Well, dinner will be ready in about half an hour," Tess said. She looked at Daria. "You have been helping your mother set the table?" she asked.

Daria nodded. "But she also asked me to come out here and help Dad with the drinks."

Tess nodded. "I see," she said. "And you've dome a marvellous job," she continued, indicating Jake's martini. "I'd better get back into the kitchen and help with the finishing touches." With that, she headed back into the kitchen.

Just as Richard was about to turn to Daria and Jake in an attempt to try and steer the conversation onto a topic that would not set Jake off, Quinn came back into the living room. She looked at her sister with a critical eye. "Daria," she said, "could you come upstairs for a moment?"

Daria shot Quinn a loaded look, and then looked at Richard. "I think we can spare your presence for a moment," he said. Shrugging, Daria nodded and she and Quinn went upstairs.

Rawlings turned to Jake and said, "I hear you're a marketing consultant?"


Daria followed Quinn into her room. "Quinn, this is not the time to try and give me a makeover," she said.

"Oh, Daria," Quinn said. "I know better than to attempt something like that." She looked her sister up and down. "Like I said, your clothes suit you very much." She looked at the choker with the cameo. "Where did you get that?" she asked.

"At the Funky Doodle on Dega Street," Daria replied. Her cheeks colouring slightly, she looked down. "Richard bought it for me," she said quietly.

Quinn's eyes widened at this information. "Wow," she said. She looked at Daria. "That should tell you something," she said.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Quinn," said Daria stubbornly. She thought, No, Quinn. I am not going to set myself up to be disappointed. Even though I think that he is the most attractive man, in every sense of those two words, I have ever met.

Quinn gave her sister a sad look. Oh, Daria, she thought. This is so typical of you. You have a chance at someone I think will make you very happy, and you won't take a chance because you're afraid of getting hurt.

Her face grew sadder. But then, I suppose we, meaning me, Mom, Dad, Grandma Barksdale... all of us did this to you. She grew determined. But I'll do my best to make it all up. Aloud, she said, "That may be besides the point, Daria, but you'll need to do just a little extra just to complete the look.

Daria's eyes narrowed. She gave Quinn a suspicious look. "Just how 'minimal' are we talking about?" she asked.

"Nothing major," Quinn said. "Just what you did when you dressed up to teach me a lesson after I wrote that lame essay O'Neill waxed lyrical over. Lipstick and eyelashes. Oh, and your contacts because you don't have any other glasses."

Daria's eyes narrowed further. "And what glasses should I wear?" she asked.

"Well, either wire-framed ovals, or those new rimless ones," Quinn said." And they should be a tad smaller than the ones you have on."

Daria thought Quinn's proposal over. "All right," she said. "I'll give it a try. But I'll have to keep my glasses on me: you know that those contacts do begin to irritate me after a while."

Quinn flashed Daria a smile. "Great!" she said. "It's a pity we didn't have any time to fix your hair up properly, but I think we can do something with some minimal makeup. Which is all that you really need."

"Oh, God," said Daria. "What have I let myself in for?"


"So lemme see if I've got this straight," Jane said. "You believe that Richard was alive in the 1860s, and that he lost someone who bore a very strong resemblance to everyone's favourite cynic. And that he fought in the Civil War as a Confederate general, and was preparing to have a battle where the park on the hill overlooking town is. Yet you also got the idea that he's only fifteen years older than us, instead of being about one hundred and sixty years older." She paused and said," You have to understand that I'm having a very difficult time believing all of this."

Andrea shrugged. "Understandable," she said. "But when you deal with this sort of stuff all the time, you get used to it."

A thought struck Jane. "He isn't some kind of undead, is he?" she asked. "Not, say, a vampire?"

"He's not one of the Undead, Jane," Andrea said. "That's one of my abilities, by the way: to detect the Undead."

"Next thing you're going to tell me is that there's a Slayer in Lawndale," Jane said in a joking manner. When Andrea and Scarlett didn't respond, she said, "No. Don't tell me there is a Slayer. And if you tell me it's Brittany Taylor, I am going to freak!"

Andrea chuckled. "Yes, there is a Slayer, if you want to call her that. And no, it isn't Brittany. But you do know her. And no, I won't tell you who she is: she prefers it that way."

"Right," Jane said. "At least there's one less worry. So, what about our mysterious friend from the South?"

"I still have this feeling that he doesn't belong on this plane," Scarlett said. "However, there is something that is keeping me from finding out exactly where he comes from." She looked up from her cup and looked at Jane and Andrea. "He has a very disciplined mind," she said. "But that alone isn't stopping me. It almost seems that what we call Providence is blocking me."

"'Providence?'" asked Jane.

Andrea nodded. "You should ask Daria about Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, Jane," she said. "There's a lot in it that has some strong correspondences with Wiccan beliefs."

"Anyway," Scarlett said, "I do know that his presence here in Lawndale is connected with something that happened on the hill overlooking town. Something that involved a battle and the Sloane family."

"I know about the Sloane family," Jane said. "If what you're saying is true, than it wasn't Richard's ancestor or relation that saved Tom Sloane's ancestor: it was him. But Tom said that the man who saved his ancestor..."

"Jeremiah Sloane, wasn't it, Jane?" Scarlett said.

"Yeah," Jane said weakly. "Anyhow, the man who saved Jeremiah was a colonel. Yet you saw him as a general. Forgive my scepticism but isn't that something of a discrepancy?"

Scarlett nodded. "You have the photograph handy?" she asked.

Jane nodded. "A copy of it anyway," she responded. She reached over, picked up the document wallet and, after rummaging through it, pulled out the photographs. "This is the overall shot," she said, handing it to Scarlett. "This one is the enlargement of the section containing Colonel Rawlings."

Scarlett took the photographs. "This one showing his scar," she said. "It's exactly where I saw it in my vision." She looked at the other photographs. "He's only wearing three stars on his collar," she said. "He had wreathed stars in my vision. The coat's pretty much the same, except the loops on his sleeves had four strands in them."

"So it could be someone different," said Andrea. She looked at Scarlett. "You don't think..."

"It could be," Scarlett replied. "However, I'd want to verify this a bit further." She put the coffee mug down on the coffee table and stood up, wavering slightly as she did so. "I think we'll have to go up to the park," she said. "I might get a stronger link there."

"Not tonight!" Andrea said. "You took a big risk staying in there for the length of time you did. You need to rest up a bit."

"Andrea, I have a good link with this Richard Rawlings' psychic trail now," Scarlett replied. "If I wait to fully recover it'll grow weaker. We have to do this tonight." She looked at Jane. "I won't be needing the shirt any longer," she said. "Thanks."

"No problemo, I think," Jane replied. She looked at Andrea. "You guys want some company, or at least some help supporting her?"

Andrea shot Jane a look. "You don't have to come along, Jane," she said.

Jane shrugged. "I'm this far in," she said, "so I might as well go along a bit further. Besides, this involves my best friend. So it also involves me."

"Where are they?" Scarlett said.

"Dinner at the Morgendorffers," Jane said. "So they should be gone for a while. Besides, something in me tells me she'll be safe with Richard, whoever or whatever he may turn out to be."

"She'll be safe," Scarlett replied. "He's not going to be any danger to Daria or you. But there is a hint of danger surrounding him, and I've got to find out if it's that which could be a threat." A thought struck her. "If I could get near him..."

"Not tonight, girl," a voice said, coming out of Scarlett's front pocket. "I know what you're thinking. Too dangerous in the condition you're in."

Jane jumped. "What the...?" she said.

A look of affectionate annoyance crossed Scarlett's face. "Oh, hush, Roger,"she said. She reached into the pocket and pulled a white mouse from it.

"This place reeks of cats," the mouse said. "Two of them." The mouse sat up on its hind legs on Scarlett's palm. "I've seen you around," it plainly said to Jane.

Jane put a hand to her head. "Okay," she said. "Not only have I got a real witch in my living room she also has a talking white mouse. Or are you throwing your voice?"

"She is not," the mouse said indignantly. "Are you implying I'm some kind of a dummy? And are the cats nearby?"

Scarlett held out her hand. "This is Roger," she said. "And no, I'm not a ventriloquist. Roger really talks, although he only speaks in front of strangers if he's really concerned." She looked at Jane. "It's too complicated a story to tell you now," she said. She looked down at the mouse. "So you think I'm too tired for what I have in mind?" she asked.

Andrea laughed. "I'm supporting Roger in this," she said. "You are too tired to try and force a direct link into this man's psychic imprint in his presence. You're going to have to settle for examining its footprint on the hill." She gave the mouse an approving look. "At least you've got the good sense to rein her in."

Scarlett smiled and just shook her head. Then she looked at Jane. "Are you all right?" she asked.

Jane shook her head. "Just wondering when I should book my stay in Cedars of Lawndale," she said.

Andrea looked at Jane. "So I assume you'll still be coming with us?" she said. Jane nodded. "Thanks. I may well need you help."

"Like I said, since I'm in it this deep, whatever this is, I may as well come along for the ride," Jane replied. Scarlett replaced Roger in her pocket and they started heading for the front door. "But promise me we won't be running into any devil-worshippers up there," she said.

Andrea smirked. "Not their night to use the park," she replied. "And besides, Beltane's gone and Samhain's not yet due, so there won't be any Wiccans in the forest behind the park."

"Somehow I'm not all that reassured," Jane said as they exited the house.


Andrea's car pulled into the parking area of the park overlooking the town of Lawndale. Once it had rolled to a stop the three occupants got out of the car and looked around in the gloom, which was only interrupted here and there by the light of lamps on top of tall posts.

To call the area the top of a hill was technically incorrect, as it was more of a terrace that had formed naturally on the lower slopes of Cacotin Mountain, which loomed over the town. Through what was now parkland ran the road that, in days past, was the main thoroughfare connecting Franklin, Maryland to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and passing through the small mountaintop town of Jefferson. Once, as Jane knew now from what little research had been done so far, a Confederate division, that of Lafayette McLaws, had passed this way en route to besieging a Federal force that had been holed up in Harpers Ferry before passing on to the great killing ground of Antietam Creek, several counties and another mountain range further west.

And if Scarlett was correct, this was also the site of a battle in which one Richard John Rawlings had commanded an infantry division.

Jane had racked her memory for any mention of even a skirmish in the Lawndale area. She couldn't even think of anything even like an altercation that would have been worthy of being called a battle. She agreed with the comment made by both Andrea and Scarlett that the local Chamber of Commerce would have promoted even a small skirmish to the max. The only event she knew that had happened here was when a Colonel Rawlings of the Confederate Army had saved Tom Sloane's ancestor, Jeremiah Sloane, from being lynched by his cousin Jasper and his men. But that was, as Tom had made quite clear, an event that the Sloane family were not too keen on having broadcast, something that Jane could quite understand: just thinking about it still gave her chills.

Jane saw Scarlett head off to one side. She and Andrea followed her, stopping when Scarlett had reached a particular spot overlooking Lawndale.

The view from the top of the hill at night was spectacular, with the town all lit up. Over the years the town had moved up the long slope, terminating only at the park boundary, which was marked out by a low, single-rail fence. Jane wished that she had thought to bring a camera so that she could capture the panorama and, later on, turn it into a painting. Later, she thought to herself. I'll have to come up here later with a camera and make a long exposure.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Andrea. "You sure this is the place?" she asked. She looked over to where Andrea was standing by the little red-haired woman.

Scarlett nodded. "This is the place in my vision," she said. "I was standing right here. The farmhouse was behind me." She looked around and, taking a deep breath, sat down on the ground, her legs crossed over in what Jane recognised as a lotus position.

Jane walked over. "Has she...?" she whispered.

Andrea squatted down and stared into Scarlett's eyes. "She has," she whispered back. She rocked back onto her heels. "All we can now do is wait.


Once again Scarlett found herself adrift in what she referred to as the stream of Richard Rawlings' psyche. But now, thanks to not only the link she had achieved using his shirt, but also to her being in a location that was somehow connected to him, she was able to better focus on the images that floated around her like small movie screens. This meant she could not only spend less time in the stream, but was better able to get a feel for who, or what, he was. Selecting an image that was clearly linked with the Lawndale area she focussed on it and entered the image.

She found herself in front of the farmhouse again. This time, however, it was night. She looked behind the farmhouse and saw, in the woods that lay a few hundred yards behind it, the twinkling lights of many campfires. Many thousands of campfires. Looking off to one side she saw, standing near the gateway leading into the farmyard several armed men, all peering out into the darkness. Looking up she could see that the moon had entered its last quarter, and was waning into a crescent shape.

She looked at the farmhouse, and saw that the downstairs rooms were lit up, and that the makeshift table now had several lanterns on it. There were several officers either seated or standing around the table, looking at some charts. Every so often an officer or a group of officers would either depart or arrive at the table.

Turning around she saw that, part of the way down the long slope of the hill she could see bobbing lights, as though someone had a lantern and was walking through the cornfield that covered the upper half of the slope. Every so often the light would pause and the sound of something being hammered into the ground would float up from the spot where it had halted.

Abruptly she was again in the stream, floating amongst the various images. She had not consciously left the image she had been in, and was rapidly coming to the conclusion that she was being guided in some manner that she was unable to discern. Does this mean that Providence, or the Fates, have something to do with what's going on? she thought. And if that's the case, what are they guiding us all towards? She felt herself being drawn to another image and, deciding not to try and resist, plunged headfirst into it.

She found herself again on the hilltop overlooking where, someday in the future, Lawndale would stand. This time, however, it was daylight, and all over the hillside she could see thousands of men constructing something that she was unfamiliar with about a third of the distance down its long slope. Some distance further up the hillside she saw what were obviously artillery pieces being positioned behind earth and timber barricades. It then dawned on her that what the men were doing was constructing field fortifications.

One battery off to her left drew her attention. She came closer to it and saw, to her astonishment that, except for the commanding officer and a couple of his subordinates, it was manned almost entirely by black men. Not only were they positioning the guns they were also stacking ammunition in a purpose-built area made from roughly-cut timber under the supervision of black NCOs and driving the limbers that were used to tow the guns.

A name came to her: No. 2 Company (Watson's Battery), Richmond Howitzers. She looked at the battery of four guns, and then looked at the other groups of men working on the hillside. Sure enough, she saw groups of black men working alongside whites. They were wearing the same kind of uniform as the white men (if such a term as 'uniform' could be applied to the ragged, patched clothes both groups were wearing) and some black men were even posted in front of the fortification, watching the distant horizon, as though they were sentries.

Her attention was drawn to the road. Along it was marching a dust-covered column of men, snaking past the small crossroads town that lay in the distance. High up in the sky hung a large plume of dust, kicked up by the marching feet of the column of men. As she moved towards the column she could hear that some of them were singing:

A Farmer came to camp one day, With milk and eggs to sell,

Upon a mule who oft would stray, To where no one could tell.

The Farmer, tired of his tramp, For hours was made the fool,

By everyone he met in camp, With "Mister, here's your mule."

Suddenly she heard cheering start up from the back of the column, moving forward as though it was a wave. Looking along the road she saw a group of horsemen riding along the length of the column. At their head were two figures: one in a worn, ill-fitting uniform of grey homespun with wreathed stars on its standing collar and wearing an equally battered blue cap, not unlike the one on the statue on the green. Underneath the cap, however, he wore a bandage wrapped around his head, and one of the officers following him kept a close eye on his movements. The other man wore a better made grey uniform with three stars on the standing collar and a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat. Both figures were bearded, with the one in the ill-fitting uniform having a thick, bushy but well-trimmed beard while the other figure had a grey beard that was more closely trimmed. From this distance it was also clear that the figure in the cap deferred to the other man.

As the party rode into the farmyard (and she noticed that the sentries at the gate had snapped to attention) she noticed that while the others rode horses that were singularly undistinguished, the horse rode by the lead figure was light grey in colour, with a dark-grey mane. For some reason that struck her as being significant, as though it could identify the man who rode it.

Scarlett turned towards the farmhouse. There, she saw Rawlings rapidly descend to the foot of the stairs. As the two riders and their entourage reined in their horses she saw him salute the two in front. "General Lee, General Jackson," she heard him say. "Sir!"

Unheeded by any of the people in the scene, Scarlett gasped when she heard the names. Robert E. Lee? she thought. "Stonewall" Jackson? She took a close look at the two men, whom she knew only through the history books she had read, as they swung down off of their horses.

She had to admit that, while any of the three by themselves would make any other man she knew look like a callow youth, when together in a group, it was quite clear that Lee dominated through sheer physical presence. This was odd, in one way, as he was, although just over six feet tall, not an unusually tall man. But the way he carried himself: although Lee moved like the natural aristocrat he was, there was something else about him that made even men like the legendary "Stonewall" Jackson defer to him, something that extended beyond the authority his rank gave him.

A term came to her: command presence. Lee definitely had that, and more. Here was someone who was a leader of men.

He turned to Rawlings. "I see that you have your preparations well in hand, General," he said.

Rawlings nodded. "If both yourself and General Jackson will step this way," he said, indicating the makeshift table, "I will be able to outline for you what I am doing on the map." The three men walked up the stairs, pausing only in front of Jeremiah Sloane, who sat in his chair.

Rawlings indicated Sloane. "This is Mister Jeremiah Sloane, our involuntary host," he said. "Jeremiah, may I introduce you to General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, as well as Major-General Thomas J. Jackson, my immediate superior?"

Sloane held out his hand. "Forgive my inability to get up to greet you properly, General Lee," he said. "Unfortunately I had an... altercation with some of your men the other day. Thankfully General Rawlings here managed to straighten things out."

Lee took his hand. "My staff officers told me all about your, ah, altercation with your cousin, Mister Sloane," he replied. "I do hope that your wound heals quickly. I also hope that we will not do any more damage to your property than is absolutely necessary in the course of our operations." Lee let go of his hand.

Jackson spoke. Where both Lee and Rawlings' accents were those of the Virginian aristocracy, Jackson's was somewhat rougher, with more of the Virginian back country in it. "Indeed, Mister Sloane," he said, "I do second General Lee's sentiments. I also look forward to seeing justice delivered on those miscreants." He looked at Lee, his blue eyes as hard as agates. "Indeed, General, while we are in the vicinity it may be expedient if we try them here and now."

Lee nodded."We do have some time, General Jackson, but I think we shall hold off on passing judgement until we have reviewed General Rawlings' dispositions and determine if his resources are adequate for his mission." He looked at Rawlings. "By the way, General," he said, "where are the accused being held?"

Rawlings smiled. "I had them under guard in the barn last night, General Lee," he said, indicating the barn. "But I needed extra hands to build my field works. So I put them to useful work felling trees. I made sure that they were under armed guard all the time, using some men from my own regiment as the guards."

Lee nodded. "Very well, General," he said. "Let us go and review your dispositions." Rawlings showed Lee and Jackson over to the maps on the table, his own staff officers clearing a space.

Rawlings indicated the map. "As you can see, General," he said, "this position, despite the long slope, is actually quite good ground to fight on. The forest anchors my flanks and also covers my rear. In fact, the forest to my rear lacks undergrowth to such an extent that, if need be, I can withdraw my entire force in good order through it. It seems that Mister Sloane's ancestors, not to mention himself, have been in the habit of allowing their hogs to root through the undergrowth. They also have been keeping the forest behind the house clear of undergrowth not only as a precaution against fire, but also so that they can promote the growth of good timber, which they harvest and season." He gave Lee and Jackson a wry grin. "In fact, we are basically using his timber plantation to build our field works. I have issued the appropriate requisition forms for the timber."

Lee nodded, and then turned to call down to his staff. "Major Marshall!"

One of the officers responded. "Yes, General?"

"Is the chest available?" Lee asked. Marshall nodded. "Will you be so kind as to go and have it fetched here immediately?" he said. Marshall saluted, got onto his horse and rode back out through the gate.

Lee turned back to the map. "I notice that you have positioned all of your rifled guns further up the slope," he said, "yet well below the actual crest."

Rawlings nodded. "My rifled batteries will be mainly used in a counterbattery role," he said. "When the Federals attack with their infantry they will supplement the firepower of my smoothbore batteries which will be deployed amongst my brigades in order to thicken their firepower with canister."

Lee nodded in approval. "I see that you have deployed all of your division in your defences, General," he said. "Were you unable to shorten your line any further, so as to have a reserve?"

Rawlings shook his head. "This line is the optimum, General Lee," he replied. "Any further back and my men would be outlined on the crest. I would have liked to have had a reserve, but unfortunately that was not possible."

"We may be able to repair that situation," Lee replied. Turning to Jackson, Lee said, "General Jackson, do you think you can find an additional brigade that can be temporarily attached to General Rawlings' division? Also some extra batteries?"

Jackson nodded. "I'll do that now, General," he said, and moved back down the verandah and towards his own staff.

After a moment he returned. "I can attach Branch's brigade, as well as Rice, Cutshaw and Chapman's batteries," he said. "Brigadier-General Branch, however, is indisposed as a result of a wound at Second Manassas, so the brigade is currently under Colonel Lane." He looked at Lee. "Lane is at the rear of march attached to AP. Hill's division. I can send orders to have him fall out of the column here."

"May I ask why you are not sending the instructions to General Hill, General Jackson?" Lee asked.

"General Hill is currently under arrest for insubordination, General Lee," Jackson replied.

Lee sighed. "General Jackson, I do urge you to consider releasing General Hill from his arrest and to put this matter aside until this campaign has come to a conclusion," he replied. "This army needs all of its senior officers available if we are to carry out our design."

Scarlett held her breath, expecting Jackson to explode. To her surprise, Jackson nodded. "Of course, General," he said. "I'll do that right away."

"I would also ask you to send a copy of the orders assigning Lane to General Rawlings' command to General Hill as a matter of courtesy, General Jackson," Lee responded. "I will also countersign them as a means to make things smoother." Jackson nodded, turned to call out to one of his aides for an order pad. Jackson wrote out the order, signed it and handed it to Lee, who countersigned it.

"Colonel Lane will be here later this afternoon," Jackson said, "as will Rice, Cutshaw and Chapman's batteries. These should be enough for General Rawlings to form a reserve." He looked at Rawlings. "Lane's command is some 2,600 men strong, General, They should be an adequate addition to your defences."

"Indeed they will, General," Rawlings replied. "Thank you for the loan." He indicated a position on the map. "I'll deploy them in the centre of my line," he said, "and place Evans and Ripley in reserve. That will still leave a gap on my right flank, but the nature of the ground will give us good enough notice of any attempt by the Federals to try and exploit it. Ripley will be able to move from here in the woods to plug it if need be. They can also prepare secondary positions in the woods themselves: nothing too elaborate but enough to help check any attempted pursuit if I am forced to withdraw through the woods. Cutshaw and Chapman's batteries will also be in the woods. They will act as my artillery reserve."

Lee nodded. "Good," he said. "Your positioning is sound, General Rawlings." He looked up from the map to look Rawlings in the face. "If our plans come to pass, the Federals will have to divide their forces and attack ours piecemeal. Due to the nature of the ground, and to the fact that we have had to divide this army, in order to achieve this aim we have had to expose a unit as bait. Your role, General, will be the bait.

"You will hold here for one day and then, as best as you can, disengage and retire onto the positions that will be established in front of Jefferson, further up the mountain behind us. But the nature of your role will almost guarantee that any blow the Federals will aim at you will be solid, in order to shatter your command and exploit what will appear to be a weakness in our position. You will not have to worry about the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry: I have it on very good intelligence that they will not move, and even if Colonel Miles did decide to be somewhat audacious or was ordered out of the town General Imboden and Colonel Moseby's troopers will inform us of their movements. In any case General Jackson will position a division in Jefferson as both rear-guard and reserve. Also, in order to forestall any flanking movements General Stuart will have positioned one brigade to patrol the area between you and General Jackson's main position and will have another performing the same duties between yourself and General Longstreet.

"General Longstreet will have positioned his corps across the National Road running from Frederick across the mountain to Middletown. Even if the Federals do try and dislodge him from his position it will cost them dearly and will allow General Jackson and yourself to sweep up behind them. Alternatively, if they concentrate overmuch on you, it will allow General Longstreet to sweep down on any Federal force in his path, while General Jackson does the same to any Federals in his."

He allowed himself a wry smile. "It is good that our main opponent will be General McClellan," he said. "His recent performance on the Peninsular should speak volumes of his audaciousness as a general." He turned to Jackson. "Have you decided which force you will position in Jefferson, General?" he asked.

Jackson nodded. "I will put General AP Hill's division in Jefferson," he said. "That way, he will be well positioned to come to the aid of General Rawlings or myself if I so call upon him, or to block any possible movement by the Federal forces in Harpers Ferry to take either myself or General Rawlings in the rear. My other divisions will be positioned in this gap through which runs the road from Licksville and Buckeytown through to Jefferson. If the opportunity arises I can either sweep any Federal force in front of me or, because of the fact that Jefferson is a road junction, I can also detach any additional forces to aid General Rawlings if he needs it."

Lee nodded. "Good," he said. "Our positions are sound." He took out of a coat pocket a pocket watch and looked at it. "It is coming up towards noon, gentlemen," he said. "I think we shall have lunch here before I and my staff ride over to General Longstreet to see as to his dispositions." He turned to Rawlings. "I shall not be troubling your host any further, save for some water from his well, General," he said.

Just then an ambulance rattled up to where the officers were having their conference. Unusually, this ambulance had a large cavalry escort, and was also accompanied by Major Charles Marshall, Lee's Aide-de-camp. "Good," Lee said when he saw the ambulance. He turned to Rawlings. "General Rawlings, will you please accompany me?" Rawlings nodded.

Lee walked up to where Jeremiah Sloane sat. "General Rawlings says that he has issued a requisition slip to you in compensation for materials and other items he has had to requisition from you," Lee said. "Do you have it to hand?"

Sloane shook his head. "Not on me, General," he said. He turned his head. "Elsie?" he called out. After a moment, his wife came out through the door, Her eyes widened as she took in who was standing on her front porch. "Elsie, can you please go and get that piece of paper General Rawlings gave me?" Elsie nodded and withdrew, coming back a moment later with the requisition.

She gave it to Jeremiah Sloane, who handed it to Lee. Lee put on his glasses, opened it, read it and, shaking his head, sat down in the other chair. "I think we can do better than this," he said. He took out a pencil and made a slight modification to the requisition form, initialling it where he had made his changes.

Lee turned and said "Major Marshall, will you please come here and take care of this matter for me?"

Marshall came up, took the paper Lee held out, read it and, nodding, said "Of course, General," and went back down to the ambulance. He returned a moment later, escorted by two cavalry soldiers who carried between them a locked strongbox. Marshall put it down on the porch, opened it and began counting out a number of banknotes. Sloane's eyes widened as he realised that the Confederate staff officer was counting out Federal greenbacks.

Marshall finished counting the notes, and, temporarily holding them in place with his field glasses, made a notation in a ledger that he had also removed. He then replaced the ledger, closed and locked the box and, reclaiming his field glasses, picked up the notes he had counted out. Ordering the cavalrymen to replace the strongbox, he walked up to Lee and handed him the wad of currency.

Lee smiled as he handed the dumbfounded Jeremiah Sloane the wad. "With the complements and most profound apologies of the Confederate States of America, Mister Sloane," he said. "I suppose I had also best add Major-General James Ewell Brown Stuart's complements as well, not to mention those of Major-General John Pope of the Union Army."

"How...?" Jeremiah Sloane asked.

Jackson replied, showing his rarely-seen impish side. "General Stuart raided General Pope's headquarters before Second Manassas," he said with a faint grin. "He took away what we believe was the pay chest of Pope's army, containing some three hundred thousand dollars in Federal greenbacks." His grin grew slightly larger. "Not to mention Pope's dress uniform, which is now on display in Richmond. We sent most of the money down to Richmond as well, keeping only around one hundred thousand dollars for the use of the army in this campaign." His grin grew even wider. "I understand the army's calling it 'Stuart's revenge'."

"There should be fifteen thousand dollars there, Mister Sloane," Lee said. "Think of it as going some way towards compensating you for our presence here."


Scarlett again found herself in the stream of Rawlings' psyche. This time, she had plenty to think about.

So far as she knew, in all of the history she had been taught (and had managed to remember) the Army of Northern Virginia had divided in order to eliminate the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry, and had been caught unawares by the sudden move of the Union Army to try and defeat it in detail. Yet here they were talking about luring the Army of the Potomac into committing to a battle that would allow the Confederates to defeat it in detail. That did not gel with what she knew about how history had actually gone.

Slowly, Scarlett was coming to the conclusion that the man calling himself Richard Rawlings had come from another reality. However, she was not sure what reality that was, or how he had arrived on the plane she knew as her own reality. She was, however, once again beginning to run out of time.

Andrea and Roger were right, she thought. I'm too tired.

Reluctantly she dropped out of the stream.


Rawlings was beginning to feel weary. He had spent the past hour trying to make light conversation with Jake, looking for a topic that wouldn't send Daria's father off on another rant. However, that was beginning to look unlikely.

Fortunately Daria's mother, Helen, as well as her aunts, had come to the rescue. Helen managed to calm her husband down, while Amy and Rita kept Rawlings entertained: Rita with her stories about her social circle (which Rawlings, to be honest, found somewhat wearing) and Amy with her stories about her encounters in the environs of the District of Colombia with people of all sorts (which he found quite amusing, especially Amy's "colour commentary".)

He saw some movement on the stairs and turned to look at it. His breath caught at what he saw.

Down the stairs came Daria and Quinn. Although they were wearing the same clothes they had on earlier in the evening, Daria's appearance had changed. For one thing, she was wearing her contacts. For another, she had succumbed to Quinn's entreatments and was now wearing a bare minimum of makeup: some mascara, lip gloss and a hint of blush on her cheeks. Her hair had been brushed and treated with a minimal amount of hairspray. The overall effect had been to subtly bring out her natural beauty.

Quinn had been right: Daria hadn't needed all that much attention to make her absolutely stunning.

Amy and Rita had noticed Rawlings looking at the stairs and had turned around. They too, caught their breaths at Daria's look. "My God, Daria," Rita said. "You look even more stunning than you did earlier in the evening!" Amy said nothing, but raised an eyebrow and nodded approvingly

Jake saw his eldest child on the stairs and his breath caught. "Daria?" he said. It hit him all of a sudden that his "kiddo" had turned into a young woman, and that his "princess" was well on the way to becoming one as well. Helen, taken aback by the same thought, simply stared.

Daria looked at her father. "Last time I checked," she said. She turned to face Rawlings and saw the stunned look on his face. "I take it you approve?" she smirked.

Rawlings, unable to say anything, simply nodded. She looks just like Emma, he thought. He shook himself. She isn't Emma, though! Remember that! Another image, however, came to his mind: of himself with this young woman on his arm promenading down the high street of Richmond and fielding greetings from all of the high-born gentlemen and ladies of the Virginian aristocracy, and of her making comments sotto voice, much to his amusement.

The tension was broken by Tess Barksdale coming into the living room. She stopped and looked at Daria. "You look absolutely stunning, Daria!" she said.

Daria allowed a small smile to come across her face. "Thanks, Grandma Tess!" she said.

Tess turned to Helen. "We must simply have photographs of this evening," she said. "Have you taken care of this, Helen?"

Helen shook herself and turned to her mother. "We took some pictures earlier on," she replied, "but I think we'll have to have some of Daria looking like this."

Daria was about to open her mouth to reply to this when she saw Rawlings gently shake his head. She subsided, but decided to repay him later on. Instead, she walked up to him and said, allowing a little bit of Texas into her voice, "I believe you'll be escorting me to dinner, sir?" Rawlings smiled, nodded and extended his arm, which she took a hold of.

"I take it that dinner's ready, Mother?" Helen said.

Tess nodded. "We're ready to serve now," she said. "So if everybody will take their places?" Tess turned around and led the way into the dining room.

Rawlings, without disengaging from Daria's arm, waived Jake and Helen forward. "This is your home," he said, "so I would say that you'll be leading us all to dinner."

Helen blushed mildly, but got Jake to take her arm and lead the way through to the dining room.


Later that evening three young women sat in a corner booth at Pizza King and discussed what they had learned. One of them, a petite, slender, red-haired girl, appeared drained, but, as she ate and drank her cola she gradually began to look better.

One of her two companions, a Goth girl, said "So, you think he's from another reality?"

The redhead nodded. "It's the only explanation I can come up with that accounts for the discrepancies I've seen, Andrea," she said. She took another bite of the large pizza in front of her and took another sip of her cola.

The third girl, a tallish, slender woman with a runner's physique and angularly-cut black hair that clashed with her blue eyes, looked at her two companions. "Are you sure about this?" she asked. "I mean about the alternate reality bit? I mean, it is a bit hard to swallow, even after all the weird-ass things I've seen with you two this evening!"

The redhead nodded. "As sure as I can be without linking directly to him, Jane," she replied. "And I won't be doing that for a while."

A small voice came out of her front pocket. "Basically because you'd hear about it from Andrea and me," it said. "The bit in the park was risky enough, Scarlett."

Scarlett patted her pocket. "Hush, Roger!" she said. "We're in public!"

"He's got one thing right, though you'd have to admit," Andrea said. "If you tried that in your current condition you would never hear the end of it from either me or Roger. Not to mention your aunt or Myrddn!"

"Oh, Goddess!" Scarlett moaned, sinking her head onto the table in front of her. "I was hoping to keep this from them!"

Jane gave Andrea a querying look. "You don't want to know," she replied.

Andrea looked at Scarlett. "Anyway, you don't need to tell them about this," she said. "Unless something goes badly awry. Which is why I'm involved: some precognition abilities, remember?" Scarlett picked her head back up off the table and gave Andrea a small smile of relief.

"You can see the future?" asked Jane.

"Not really," Andrea said. "Just an ability to know when something is going to suck big time. Or is going to be bad. Like going to that paintball thing."

"That doesn't necessarily count," Jane said. "The mere fact that it was organised by Lawndale High guaranteed that it was going to suck."

"Granted," said Andrea. "But did you see either Scarlett or me there?"

Jane shook her head. "Ok," she said. "I guess I'll have to give you that." She looked at Andrea. "Is your ability something like 'I have a bad feeling about this'?" Andrea nodded. "All right then," Jane said. "So we have now got some evidence, if it can be called that, that our visitor from the South is from an alternative reality. However, it doesn't explain why he's here, nor why he appears to be younger than he has to be, unless he's some kind of immortal." She looked at the pair seated across from her. "And please don't tell me that Immortals actually exist. I don't think what little sanity I have left could withstand the idea of a bunch of sword-wielding lunatics running around shouting out 'There Can Be Only One!'"

"No, Jane," Andrea said. "Immortals do not exist, although for a moment we thought Mister Rawlings was one. But that was because when Scarlett started probing his psyche in JJ Jeeters when he was helping Daria chose some good clothes she got a glimpse of his birth date, which was in the 1830s. However, it does cross my mind that he comes from a version of reality where it may still be the 1860s, although I only base it on the fact that time runs differently in, well, what people have termed for centuries 'Faerie-Land.'"

Scarlett nodded. "That's a good point, Andrea," she said. "But it still doesn't explain why he's here!"

"Hmmm," Jane said. "He said he was following a relative. Could he be following his counterpart in our reality? I mean, we have a photograph of a Colonel Rawlings, and you say that, from what you've found out, he's a general who fought a battle around here, which we know never happened. So, could he be tracking his counterpart for some reason we have yet to discover?"

Andrea and Scarlett considered Jane's question. "It's possible," Andrea said. "Perhaps he's familiarising himself with our world by finding out where our history differs from what he's familiar with?"

"If that's the case," said Scarlett, "then it's conceivable that where he comes from the South did win the Civil War. In which case he's the real thing: a Confederate officer."

"One thing that puzzles me," Jane said. "How come he seems so at ease with some aspects of our world. Like driving a car, or using a cell phone or even a computer? Wouldn't he be somewhat mystified by all of this?"

Andrea and Scarlett smiled. "Actually, we're not surprised at that," Andrea said. "Scarlett, Charles and I had a discussion about this over some drinks in the student club at Georgetown. We were discussing just who from the past would feel reasonably at home in the modern era and Charles pointed out that a person from the America of the mid-Nineteenth Century would not find our world all that strange."

"You're kidding!" Jane said.

"Not at all," Scarlett said. "Think about it this way: basically everything we have, such as computers linked by telephone lines, cell phones, movies, are all developments of inventions from that period. Telephones: derived from the telegraph. Movies: motion pictures were developed not all that long after the Civil War and could be seen as a development of photography. Cars: could be seen as a development from the steam engine, just using a different fuel and a twist on the idea of an expanding gas pushing a piston. Aeroplanes were being written about: even space flight. Even the Internet existed in a form appropriate with the technology of the time when you consider that an online community existed amongst telegraph operators. So, although they would be amazed at what we could do with our technology, a person with even an average education would soon be able to familiarise themselves with it. So it's not all that surprising that Mister Rawlings can use our technology. Where he may have some difficulty is with our culture and mores."

"Good point," Jane said. "He didn't know about UFOs when he came across the UFO convention. But then, I thought that he might be a bit like Ted DeWitt Clinton." A thought crossed her mind. "I just thought of something."

"Oh?" asked Scarlett. "What?"

"Daria," Jane said. "She looks as though she's falling for our scion of the South. Hard. How do we tell her about what we suspect? And it won't be easy, even without the possible romantic attachment: after all, she is quite the rationalist."

"Good point," replied Andrea. "However, she does know about the gate next to the Big Strawberry, so odd things should not faze her too much."

"But how do we explain all of this to her?" said Jane. "It'll be tough." She looked at Scarlett. "And I take it that you're not all that keen on allowing the talking rodent to speak all that often," she said.

Scarlett nodded, and then yawned. "We'd best be getting you home, girl," Andrea said. She looked at Jane. "Want a lift anywhere?"

"I'm heading to the Zen," Jane said. "Mystik Spiral's playing tonight, and I usually go along just to show some support. You can drop me off there. In fact, why not come in for a while? After all, tomorrow's Sunday, and I suspect you won't be going to church," she finished with a smirk.

Andrea considered Jane's words. Before she could say anything Scarlett spoke. "Sure," she said. "I haven't been in a club for a while, and this could help me to unwind after today's events."

Jane stood up. "Then it's settled," she said. "We'll go to the Zen for a while, and you two can bail when it gets a little too much for you. I can get a ride home with the band." With that, they all got up and left the pizza shop.


"That was a most excellent meal," Rawlings said as he removed the napkin from his lips. "I must complement both the cooks."

Tess Barksdale and Ruth Morgendorffer both blushed at Rawlings' praise. "It was a joint effort," Tess said. "Ruth contributed the most marvellous recipe for roast lamb, while the roast beef was an old recipe of my grandma's." She looked at Ruth. "I'll have to get a copy of the recipe for the lamb off you," she said.

"No problem," Ruth said. She turned to Rawlings. "And the wine our distinguished guest provided complemented the meal most excellently!" she said. "You'll have to educate our granddaughters in drinking wines."

"Oh, I'm not too sure about that, Ruth," Helen said. "Well, maybe Daria, but not Quinn. After all, she is still below the legal drinking age."

"Actually, Mom," Daria said, "it might be a good idea to have Richard teach Quinn how to drink. She'll need it in order to help her avoid the usual results of kegger parties at college," she finished with a smirk.

Helen looked at Daria with an arched eyebrow. "Speaking from personal experience, dear?" she asked.

"More from personal observation," Daria replied. "I do have a little shot of whiskey every now and then, especially when I'm trying to thaw myself out after being outdoors on a Boston winter's day. But I tend to avoid anything that has the ambience of a kegger party."

Rawlings shrugged. "There's no real secret to drinking appropriately," he said. "You drink just for the enjoyment, not to get drunk. Do that and you have a problem." He indicated the wine. "Wine with a meal is an excellent digestive," he said. "Also, a glass of wine, or port, for that matter, in the evening, sipped slowly, is an excellent preparative before bed." He looked at Ruth. "But I suspect that you want me to teach your granddaughters how to choose and appreciate a decent wine, correct?"

Ruth nodded. "That was something my own education sorely lacked," she said. She looked at Tess. "I suspect that was not the case with yourself."

Tess shook her head. "It was," she replied. "I was taught to rely on the taste of the man who was taking me to dinner. But I do agree that having some knowledge of wines would be of benefit to Daria and Quinn."

Rawlings nodded. "In that case," he said, "and if Helen approves," he continued, looking at Helen, "I shall undertake to tech Daria and Quinn, if they so wish, the gentle art of wine appreciation." He looked around the table. "I do, however, have a small request to make."

"Oh?" said Helen. "What is it?"

"Do you know where I can find an Episcopal church in the area?"asked Rawlings. "Tomorrow is Sunday and I would like to attend the service."

Helen shook her head. "I'm afraid I can't help you there," she said. "We're not really church-goers."

Tess spoke up. "Ruth," she said, "I seem to recall there is a lovely old Episcopal church in Frederick."

Ruth nodded. "I do remember one there," she said, "and you're right: it is lovely." She turned to Rawlings. "You could go there: I'm sure that Tess and I could help you find it."

Tess smiled. "What a good idea!" she said. "Would you be able to take us to Sunday service, Richard?" she asked.

Rawlings nodded. "It is agreed," he said. "I'll come by here at, say, seven to pick you up." He looked around. "Will anybody else be joining us?"

Helen shook her head. "As I said, Jake and I aren't really church-going." She looked at the girls. "Daria? Quinn?"

Daria shook her head. "You should know the answer to that, Mom," she replied. "I'm more of an agnostic than a believer."

Rawlings looked at Daria. "Then, as General Jackson once said to one of his subordinate commanders, 'I shall believe for the both of us'. You don't have to go if you feel it is inappropriate." Daria blushed slightly at his words.

Helen rose from the table. "Well," she said, "I suppose we had better clear the table and get the dishes cleaned." She looked at Daria and Quinn. "You girls can help. Mother and Ruth can go into the living area and help Jake and my sisters entertain our guest."

Rawlings had risen with Helen and had brought the rest of the people seated around the table to their feet. "If I can be of any assistance..." he began.

"No, thank you, Richard," Helen said. "You're Daria's guest here: it would not do for you to help us clear the table." She turned to Jake. "Jake, could you take Richard and pour him an after dinner drink?" she said.

"Not too much, though, thank you," Rawlings said. "I do have to drive."

"Oh, Helen!" said Tess. "We can help clear the table! Let Daria be with her guest for a while: I'm afraid we have shamelessly monopolised his company tonight!"

Helen shook her head. "You and Ruth did all the cooking," Helen replied. "You've done enough for tonight." She looked at her daughters. "Girls?" she said. She turned to the others and made shooing gestures.

Rita turned to Helen. "Oh, let Daria go out and be with her guest, Helen," she said. "Amy and I can help clear things away. Look at this as our contribution towards dinner tonight."

Helen looked at her sisters, and then nodded. "All right," she said. She turned to Daria. "You go on out with your father, your grandmothers and Richard. We'll be out shortly." Daria looked as though she was going to say something, but then shrugged. Taking Rawlings by the arm, she led the others out into the living room.

"Would I be able to convince you to join myself and your grandmothers at church, tomorrow?" Rawlings asked Daria as Jake made his way over to the drinks cabinet.

Daria gave him a small smile and shook her head. "I'm afraid not, Richard," she said. "Too much at variance with my chosen outlook on life."

"Ah, yes," Rawlings replied. "Cynicism and, I suspect, a strong dose of Rationalism?" he asked, a hint of a smile on his lips.

Before Daria could respond, Jake called over: "You said port, Richard?" Rawlings nodded. Jake turned to his mother and mother-in-law. "Your usual?" The two women nodded, and sat down on the couch, watching with some interest the interplay between their granddaughter and the tall, handsome Southern aristocrat.

Daria blushed faintly at Rawlings's words. "I thought you understood all about Cynicism," she said.

"About the practical applications of it, yes," Rawlings said. "But also remember that practice does not necessarily equate with theory. I found that at times theory did not fit in well with real life. And, no matter how rational, the eve of battle tends to make believers out of even some of the most hardened Rationalists." As I know from personal experience, he thought. "Besides, my belief does not accord with that of, shall we say, of those who are somewhat more primitive in their beliefs."

"So you don't see eye-to-eye with 'happy clappers'," Daria said. "That still does not answer why I should go along with you tomorrow."

"Because it may make your grandparents happy?" Rawlings gently said. "And you may learn something about yourself that you were not previously aware of."

Daria looked at him. "Damn," she quietly said. "You've definitely got my weaknesses down pat." She looked at her grandmothers. "None of you told him I can be guilt-tripped, did you."

Tess shook her head, hiding a small smile behind her hand as she did. "I think he worked that one out by himself," she said. "Must be the general in him."

Rawlings started slightly at that statement. "What makes you say that, Tess?" he asked.

"Well, everything about you reminds me of the pictures I saw of old General Barksdale from the Civil War," Tess said. "You have that same air about you."

"Why, thank you, Tess," Rawlings said. Inwardly he relaxed.

"You know," Tess said, turning to Ruth, "talking about the old general just reminded me of something else: how much Daria looks like one of my relatives 'way, way back. At about the time of the Civil War."

"Oh?" Ruth asked. "Who?"

"She was on my, let me think..." Tess said. "On Granddaddy Barksdale's mother's father's side of the family. They came from Boston."

Rawlings tensed slightly at that news. "Interesting," he said. "Do you know their name?" he asked.

"Yes I do," Tess Barksdale said. "Their name was Harrison. And Daria looks just like a member of the family who died young just before the Civil War."

For a moment nobody said anything. Then Rawlings casually asked, "Do you know her name?"

Tess frowned. "I do, but... Wait! I've got it!" She looked at the pair. "Her name was Emma Harrison. And she was engaged to marry a..." Her eyes widened as the rest of the information came back to her.

"Engaged to marry a Richard John Rawlings the Second," Rawlings said. "I think I know the rest of the story."

"So you know about how she died from a fever when she was about seventeen or eighteen," Tess said. She didn't notice the look of pain that briefly crossed Rawlings' face.

Rawlings nodded. "Yes, I do," he said. "And how he had to return to Virginia not long before she seceded from the Union, and had to bear the grief not only for his love but also for his nation sundered." He gave a brief smile. "It's all in his journals. Including how they met."

"How did they meet?" Ruth asked.

"He was a brevet captain in the Regular Army in an outpost out West," Rawlings said. "He knew her brother, Jack Harrison, from when they were both in the Army and had met her at a reception in the house of her father, who had been his commanding officer." He gave a wistful smile. "He'd known her as the 'annoying little sister' of his best friend. Then, one day, he saw her in a different light. She was about eighteen at the time, and had grown into a beautiful, intelligent and gifted young lady. He was about twenty-eight."

"Wasn't that a bit strange?" asked Jake as he brought the drinks over.

"Not for that time and place, Jake," Rawlings said. He picked up his port, sniffed it and took a sip. "Besides, he was considered to be quite a catch: a Virginian aristocrat from a quite wealthy and fairly old Tidewater family with properties all over the South, who was quite sympathetic to the Abolitionist cause but preferred a less radical solution to what the more radical Abolitionists were proposing. And he was already quite well known to his former commanding officer and brother officer. Besides, the young lady was quite smitten with him. And he with her.

"Anyway, after a brief courtship they were engaged to be married. Everything was ready for the wedding when she fell ill. She never recovered and died. Typhoid fever. Quite fatal in those days.

"Not long afterwards the South Carolinians fired on Fort Sumter and he was forced to head back home. He took a commission in the Virginian forces, which was transferred over to Confederate service and served as, first a battalion commander and later as a staff officer. He never saw the Harrisons again." A silence fell over the group.

"Do you know what happened to him?" Daria asked.

"From what I understand he was wounded at Gettysburg and died from wound fever. He's buried at Mount Folly." And it was an odd feeling seeing your own grave marker and knowing it wasn't you lying under there, he thought, but that other Rawlings. Another silence fell over the group.

"Well!" Jake said, in an attempt to change the subject. "Has anyone noticed just how darn pesky those squirrels are getting? And they won't let us do anything about them!"


Helen relaxed as Daria and Ruth managed to steer Jake away from a building rant against squirrels and the local council. She looked over at the dishwasher and saw that Quinn and her sisters had things well in hand drying and putting the table silver, crockery and glasses away. This being the case, she was now able to concentrate on another problem that was nagging away at her.

Throughout the evening she had noticed that Daria had, to all appearances, developed strong feelings towards the tall, aristocratic Virginian who had entered their lives. She really could not blame her eldest daughter: Rawlings was a fine specimen of a kind of male who, she had thought, had gone the way of the dodo. Even Amy had been impressed bu the quiet-voiced Southerner who had manners that could have come straight out of the Old South.

Certainly her mother and mother-in-law had been taken by Rawlings. But then, he probably reminded them of their distant youth, when men like that could still be found. They had certainly become a vanished species by the time Helen had gotten interested in boys. But then, Rawlings had what her mother had proclaimed "an air" about him, one of quiet masculinity that made many self-proclaimed "macho men" look like youths.

But Helen was also a trial lawyer who happened to be the mother of a young lady who had not been particularly outgoing to begin with, and who had very little experience in dating. She had been aware of Daria's crush on Jane's older brother Trent, who had, although he had also been aware of Daria's crush, feigned obliviousness. Trent had spoken with Helen on the matter that time he and Jane had stayed over at the Morgendorffer house.

"Daria's a nice kid," he had said to Helen. "But she's more like a little sister to me and, besides, she's Janey's best friend. I'd never do anything to ruin that for either of them."

Helen had wholeheartedly approved of Daria's dating relationship with Tom Sloane in her final year of high school. She was, however, painfully aware that she had not exactly covered herself in glory by going into protective overdrive when she had thought that Daria and Tom were sleeping together. In fact, I was probably downright embarrassing, she thought. But at least Daria and Tom had taken the whole affair with good natured humour.

She had become somewhat concerned with the fact that Daria had not been dating all that much in college. She had quizzed Jane about it, and had managed to get past her stock standard Maximum of three questions, No betrayals, Immunity from prosecution routine. She had found out that Jane was also concerned over her best friend's lack of a social life at college. "But if I try and do something about it," Jane had said, "Daria would kill me. She said that she'd had enough of my 'yenta-ing' in high school, especially my ribbing her over her crush on my brother Trent. So I kind of took that as a warning to butt out." But now it looked as though Daria was falling for someone who was a complete stranger. And, if she knew the signs, her eldest child was aware of what was happening and was agonising over what she should do, yet was also enjoying every minute she was with Rawlings.

And Rawlings: Helen could see that how the man presented himself to the world was not an act: that everything he did and said was as natural to him as breathing. Yet she could also see that he was hiding something: something big and important. It was unlikely that it was his identity: after all, her sister Rita had confirmed that he was independently wealthy and owned at least one large property on the James-York peninsular. Yet there was still something that nagged at her, and like the good trial lawyer she was, she would not stop until she had satisfied her nagging feeling that things were not all as they appeared concerning Richard John Rawlings.

Come Monday, she would start making some discreet enquiries concerning him. And the best place to start would be the institution he claimed as his alma mater: the West Point of the South, the Virginia Military Institute. In the meantime, she had guests to attend to.


An hour after dinner Rawlings looked at a clock. "It's coming up to ten o' clock," he said. "I had best be getting back to the Lane residence so that I can get up in time for Sunday service in Frederick tomorrow morning." He looked at Daria and Quinn. "Are the pair of you coming back to the Lane house with me?" he asked.

Daria and Quinn nodded. "We've both got our stuff over there," Daria said, "so we had better go back there. Jane won't be in, most likely: the Spiral'll be at their usual Saturday night gig at the Zen." She looked at Rawlings. "You could drop me off there, if you like: I can get a ride back with Jane and the band. Or you could come in and see just what Trent's band are like," she finished with a smirk.

"Do you think his eardrums will be up to it?" Quinn said. "Or that he'll be able to handle the reality that is Mystik Spiral? Remember, I have seen them a couple of times, so I have a pretty good idea what he's in for."

Rawlings considered what the two sisters had said. "Your words begin to intrigue me," he said. He thought for a moment and then said "I suppose I could spare a half-hour. But I am serious about wanting to attend Sunday service." He looked at the pair of them. "I suspect that I am in for quite an experience," he said.

Daria and Quinn exchanged smirks. "You could say that," Daria replied. "You could say that."

Rawlings began to affect a look of unease. "Now you begin to worry me," he said. He was answered only buy a pair of smirks that eerily mirrored each other. Needless to say, it did not make him feel any easier.

What have I let myself in for? Rawlings thought to himself.


As Rawlings pulled into a parking space near the Zen he winced as what was, to him, the most indescribable racket coming out of the old warehouse. "What in the name of all Creation is that?" he asked.

Daria, from her seat next to Rawlings' in the front of the Mercedes, cocked her head. "Well, it isn't the Spiral," she said. She looked over her shoulder and smirked at Quinn. "Who do you think it could be?" she asked.

"Hmmm," she said. She smirked back. "Could be 'Zombies' Lunch'," she said. "That's a new band, made up of guys from Lawndale Community College." She turned her smirk on Rawlings. "Nowhere near being in the same league as Mystik Spiral!"

Daria considered that. "True," she said, her smirk getting bigger. "But then fighting tomcats in heat are not in the same league as Mystik Spiral."

Rawlings looked from one sister to another. "Why do I get the feeling that I may regret this?" he asked.

"What, afraid you may lose your hearing?" Daria smirked. They got out of the car. "Or perhaps it may unsteady your delicate nerves?"

"Believe me, Daria, after some of the things I've been through," Rawlings said, "I seriously doubt that either eventuality will occur." Especially some of the fights I've been in, he thought. Particularly The Seven Days. Daria said nothing but did redden slightly at his words.

Rawlings offered each sister an arm. "Shall we go in, ladies?" he asked. With Daria on his left arm and Quinn on his right the three headed into the Zen. As the walked in the people nearest the door turned to look at them. As they recognised Daria many people's eyes widened as they took in both her appearance and the man whose arm she was on. Of those who saw her walk in on Rawlings' arm, the women were all thinking the same thing: Oh My God! Look at the Misery Chick! And look at the guy she's with! How on Earth did she manage to catch him?

The men, on the other hand, were all initially eyeing off Daria. They suddenly realised that underneath her normal drab exterior was a very attractive young woman. When their eyes wandered across Rawlings they all instinctively realised that here was someone who was dangerous on at least two counts: as a man who was highly attractive to women and someone who could easily handle himself in a fight to the detriment of anybody who decided to pick one with him. As they went in deeper all the Goths who were present took in their attire and nodded to themselves in approval of what they saw.

Rawlings looked around the interior of the nightclub, observing both the decor and the denizens. He leaned over to quietly say to Daria, "Well, it is certainly quite... interesting!"

Daria smirked and looked up at him. "Though you might say that," she said. She looked around. "I wonder where Jane is," she said.

"Over there!" said Quinn, who saw Jane seated with Andrea and Scarlett at a side table. "Shall we go and join them?" She peered at Scarlett and Andrea. "Daria," she said, "isn't that Andrea and... that redheaded girl everyone calls 'Ankh Girl?'"

Daria looked in the direction Quinn was pointing. "Hmmm," she said. "I think you're right. Wonder why they are sitting with Jane?" Shrugging, she said, "Well, I suppose we had better go and join them."


"Well, well, well," Jane said as she saw the trio walk in. "Look who's just arrived." She indicated the trio who had just walked in.

Both Andrea and Scarlett turned their heads in the direction Jane had indicated. Their eyes widened as they took in the sight of Daria in her new clothes hanging off of Rawlings' arm.

"Man," Andrea said, "I have to hand it to him: he certainly knows his clothing styles! Suits him right down to the ground." She took a closer look at Rawlings. "I see what you meant, Jane," she said. "He does have an air of masculinity about him. His eyes, though... I've never seen eyes like those. He has definitely seen a lot." She turned to Scarlett who sat there transfixed, watching Daria and Rawlings move through the crowd. "You all right, girlfriend?" she asked.

Scarlett said in a voice that was almost inaudible: "She looks just like that woman in the picture I saw in my vision. And he looks every inch the Confederate general, even in civilian clothes."

"Picture?" asked Jane.

"The picture of the young woman he saw buried," Scarlett replied. "The woman he loved."

Jane exchanged a worried look with Andrea. "Could this be something we should be worried about?" she asked.

"Not too sure about that, Jane," Andrea said. "It could be coincidence, but I'd suggest we wait and see how things are." She looked over at them. "They've seen us," she said. Sure enough, the three of them were heading over to where they were sitting.

"So, you finally managed to get away from the family dinner?" Jane said as they halted in front of the table. "How did it go?"

"It was definitely a first for the extended Barksdale and Morgendorffer families," Quinn said as she sat down next to Andrea, giving her a nod of greeting as she did. "We actually had a pretty civil dinner, which is pretty amazing, all things considered."

"Wow," said Jane. "You mean, nobody tried to attack someone with their cutlery?"

"Everybody, and I mean everybody," Quinn said as Daria and Rawlings slid in next to Jane, "was exceptionally well-behaved. Even Daria, who, as you see, allowed me to give her a bit of a makeover tonight." Daria said nothing but simply rolled her eyes in affectionate exasperation.

Jane looked at her partner-in-crime. "I suspect that I can guess the reason you allowed that to happen," she said, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.

Daria coloured. "I can get the bridesmaid's dress ready for you in record time, Jane," she said.

Rawlings, in an attempt to shift the conversation, said, "Interesting place, girls." At the sound of his voice both Andrea and Scarlett raised their eyebrows. He indicated Andrea and Scarlett. "May I have some introductions?" he asked. He gave Scarlett a closer look.

Indicating first Andrea and Scarlett, Jane said, "This is Andrea and Scarlett. Daria and I went to school with them at Lawndale high. You can tell this because of the similar mental scars we all carry from that experience."

"Surely it wasn't all that bad!" said Rawlings, his voice rich with humour.

"Well, maybe not," said Daria. "But I suspect that the school you attended didn't have security cameras all over the place, metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs and was run by a totalitarian-minded security freak!"

Rawlings looked at Daria with astonishment. "Surely you jest!" he said. All five young women solemnly shook their heads. "But why?"

"Nobody really knows," Quinn said, "although I have to admit that Daria has advanced the most likely answer: that she was somehow connected with the CIA." She looked at her sister. "I think you also forgot the bulletproof skylights and the anti-satellite jamming gear. Not to mention the lie detector. "

"Knew I'd forgotten something," Daria smirked as she took in Rawlings' appalled look. "She paid for all of it by misappropriating funds that were meant for our education. Or for the maintenance of the school's buildings: witness what happened to the school library."

"Oh, God yeah!" said Quinn. "And how she managed to make up the funds for replacing the roof." At Rawlings' raised eyebrow, Quinn elaborated: "She got the idea to hold a 'medieval faire'," Quinn said, using her fingers to make "quote marks" for the words "medieval faire", "and, even though it was supposed to be voluntary, attendance at it was effectively declared mandatory."

"And how did she achieve this dialectic feat?" Rawlings asked. The others snickered at his choice of wording.

"Simply by saying that those of us who didn't volunteer to help out would voluntarily buy tickets or be faced with voluntary suspension," Daria dryly said.

"Good God in the foothills," Rawlings said. He slowly shook his head in amazement.

"Did I tell you that they repeated the trip to the paintballing jungle?" Quinn asked.

"'Paint-balling jungle'?" said Rawlings.

"Yeah," said Jane. "The school organised a trip to a paintball field so we could learn about the impact of warfare on all aspects of culture. Needles to say, it sucked."

Rawlings shook his head. However, his reply was interrupted by a voice coming over the speaker system.

"Hi," it said. "We're Mystik Spiral, but we're thinking of changing the name." Sure enough, Trent and the band had finally taken their places for their usual set. Rawlings sat back in his seat, a politely interested look on his face, while Daria and Quinn looked at Rawlings with some expectation.

Jane noticed this and, leaning over, quietly said, "You didn't warn him, did you?" Daria's smirk was reply enough. She too sat back and watched Rawlings with an interested look on her face.

As Mystik Spiral launched into Behind My Eyelids the look on Rawlings' face changed from mild interest and took on an appearance that was somewhere between appalled and polite horror, mingled with mild pain. "My Lord!" he said, after which, he said nothing, but continued to listen with what could be described as morbid fascination.

"Well?" asked Daria as the Spiral finished their first song.

Rawlings blinked, and then looked at the four smirking young women. "It was..." he began.

"Indescribably bad?" offered Jane. "Unbelievably outrageous? Like scraping your fingernails on a blackboard?"

"Like cats fighting in an alley way?" Daria said. "No, wait: I take that back. Fighting cats are a lot more melodious than Mystik Spiral."

"Isn't Trent your brother?" Rawlings asked Jane. "And your friend?" he said to Daria.

Both shrugged. "We call them as we see them," Jane said. "Better ready yourself for another assault: they're starting another song."

And they did.


"Well!" Rawlings said as they left the Zen. "That was an... Well, it had to be experienced to be believed." Behind them they could hear Mystik Spiral blaring out Spite.

Daria smirked. "Not mad at us?" she asked.

Rawlings shook his head. "No," he said. "But I will repay. Somehow." He looked at Andrea and Scarlett. "A pleasure meeting you ladies," he said. He took Andrea's hand and bowed over it. Andrea widened her eyes but said nothing.

He then went to take Scarlett's hand. Before she could react he had taken a hold of it and was bowing over it. Much to her surprise, nothing happened.

Rawlings looked at Daria, Jane and Quinn. "If you're ready," he said, "we can go back to the house. As I said, I would like to get in some sleep so I can get ready to go pick up Daria and Quinn's grandparents for Sunday service in Franklin." He looked at Daria. "Have you given some thought to my proposition?" he asked.

Daria thought for a moment. Then she said "Just let me sleep on it, will you?" she said. "I might be able to give you an answer tomorrow morning."

Jane looked from Rawlings to Daria and back again. "What proposition is this?" she asked.

"That Daria accompany myself and her grandmothers to Sunday service tomorrow morning," Rawlings replied. "The invitation is also open to Quinn and yourself as well."

"Well, much as I appreciate the offer," Jane said, "I'm afraid that I'm not too big on church-going."

"Thanks, but I'll pass," said Quinn.

"As I said, I'll sleep on it and we'll see tomorrow morning," Daria responded. "As Mom said, we're not big church-goers in the Morgendorffer family."

Rawlings nodded. "In that case," he said, "shall we proceed?" The four people proceeded to move towards the car. Before they reached it Scarlett tugged on Jane's sleeve. "Can I talk to you for a moment?" she asked.

Jane turned to Rawlings. "Can you wait a minute, Richard?" she asked. Rawlings nodded and turned to unlock the car. "Ok, what is it?" Jane said.

"Can you think of an excuse to get him up to the park on the hill behind town?" Scarlett asked. "It might help me in trying to find out more about him."

"Why do you want me to get him up onto the hill?" Jane said.

"It's the only area in Lawndale that appears to have any kind of a strong link with him," Scarlett said. "If you got him up there and I was nearby, I'd be able to link with his psyche and be able to get some more information on him." She looked at Jane. "Please? It could be important."

Jane thought for a moment, and then nodded. "I'll do what I can," she said.

Scarlett nodded. "Do you want my telephone number?" she asked.

"Look, just look up "Lane," in the local telephone book. We're on Howard Drive."

"Howard Drive," Scarlett said. "I'll call you tomorrow morning."

"Ok." Jane looked over at the others. "I'd better get going," she said. Nodding at Scarlett and Andrea she headed over to the Mercedes.

"What was all that about, Jane?" Daria asked.

"Oh, Scarlett just wanted to ask me about a couple of things," Jane said, shrugging. "Nothing all that important."


"Well?" asked Andrea as they watched Rawlings' car pull away.

"I'm still not sure," Scarlett said. "I have to admit that I was surprised that nothing happened when he took my hand." She frowned. "I hope Jane manages to get him to go up on the hilltop behind town," she said. "It may make things easier, with him actually on a spot we know is intimately connected to him."

"Or more dangerous," Roger said from her front pocket. "At least you'll have had a good night's sleep."

"Good point," Andrea said. "I had better get you back home, girl. If Jane manages to get him up there tomorrow you'll need to be rested." Scarlett said nothing but nodded her head as the two of them headed towards Andrea's car. "I suppose you'll call if he is going up the hill?"

"Yes," Scarlett said. "And... thanks. For everything you've done tonight."

"Hey! We're the Wyrd Sisters of Lawndale!" Andrea said. "You're in this, and that means I'm involved as well. Wonder, though, if we're ever going to get a third Sister?"

Scarlett had no answer to that.


"Well, ladies," Rawlings said as Jane let them into the house, "That was a most... interesting experience this evening."

"What, dinner with the extended Barksdale-Morgendorffer family, or seeing Trent's band at the Zen?" asked a smirking Jane.

"The latter," Rawlings said. "Dinner at the Morgendorffer's was most enjoyable."

"So I gathered," Jane said. "Anybody want a drink of something before heading off to bed?"

Rawlings shook his head. "Thank you, but no," he said. "I had better go get ready for bed and lay out a fresh shirt for tomorrow morning." He nodded at the three girls. "Good night, all," he said and headed up the stairs.

"See you in the morning, Richard," Jane said after him. Daria said nothing.

Jane turned to face Daria. "Well, Morgendorffer," she said, looking at Daria's outfit, "I would have to say that you look pretty sharp." She looked at Quinn. "I take it you convinced her to wear her contacts and have a slight makeover?"

Quinn nodded. "Convincing her to have the makeover wasn't as hard as I had thought it would be," she smirked.

"Ooh," said Jane. She turned back to Daria. "Decided to create an impression, did we?"

Daria scowled at the pair of them. "No," she said. "Quinn kidnapped me and would not release me until I had succumbed to her evil blandishments."

"Oh, come on, Daria!" Quinn said. "I saw how you were acting around Richard tonight! So did Jane and basically everyone else at home tonight!" She looked at Jane. "Am I right on that?" she asked.

Jane nodded. "Looks to me that somebody is taking the River Nile trip big time," she said.

Daria blushed. "Besides, even if I was interested in Richard," she said, "we all know that he'll be out of town in a few days, heading back to Virginia, most likely. I'd probably never see him again. So there's no point in even thinking about a... a..."

"Come on, Daria," Jane said. "You can say it. Begins with an 'R' and ends in 'elationship'."

Daria scowled. "Fine!" she said. "'Relationship!' There! I said it! Happy?"

Jane smirked at Quinn. "Well, she just proved that she knows the word. Now lets see if she can apply it to her current situation?"

"What do you mean?" Daria said darkly.

"Well, it night have escaped your attention," Quinn said, "but Richard has been showing an interest in you."

"What do you mean?" asked Daria.

"Well, he's been flirting with you all evening," Quinn said. "He's paid as much attention to you as he could without being rude to anybody else. He always offered you his arm, and he made sure that it was his left arm. And on a subconscious level you acknowledged this by always taking his left arm, not to mention allowing me to perform a small makeover on you and convincing you to wear your contacts instead of your glasses! Hell, the pair of you were pretty much inseparable tonight! Plus he bought that choker with the cameo on it, not to mention the books!"

"What, he bought that for you?" Jane said. "I'm impressed! And what were the books?"

Daria blushed very hard and looked at the floor."First edition collections of Poe's stories and poems," she said.

"Wow! I'm doubly impressed!" said Jane.

"So, if you are interested in Richard," Quinn said, "I'm pretty certain that the interest is being returned, and in spades!"

Daria raised her head, opened her mouth to say something, and then closed it again. Then she opened it, and then closed it again.

"Wow!" Jane said. "Good impression of a fish, Daria!" She turned to Quinn. "You know, this is the first time I've seen anybody render her speechless like that! I am genuinely impressed!"

Quinn smirked. "Well, I am her sister," she replied. "It only goes to show that I would be like her in some ways! But I have to admit, this is the first time I've seen her like this as well."

Jane smirked and started giving Quinn a golf clap. "Take a bow, Quinn!" she said. "You deserve it!"

"Oh, fine!" said Daria. "I'm interested in him! There, I said it! Satisfied?"

"Only for now," Quinn said. "But I think you should act on it just a little more. Do something together after he comes back from Sunday service in Franklin tomorrow, assuming that you're not taking him up on his invitation."

"Weren't you invited as well, Quinn?" Jane said.

"Only later on," Quinn replied. "But he invited Daria first. Besides, he's also picking up our grandmothers tomorrow, so there would be no room in the car for me anyway."

"Well!" Jane said. "Then I think we should plan something so that these two get to know one

another even better." She looked at Quinn. "What do you suggest?"

"How about a picnic?" Quinn said. "Pretty traditional, I know..."

"Pretty cliche, too," Daria muttered darkly."

"...but it's still a good way to get to know someone you're interested in," Quinn finished. "But where?"

"How about that park on the hilltop overlooking town?" Jane casually said. "The view from there is pretty fantastic."

Quinn thought about it for a moment. "That's not a bad an idea," she said. "We could set up next to that big tree on the right hand side going up the mountain road." She nodded decisively. "That's what we'll do then." She looked at Jane. "You and I will organise the food and stuff."

"What about Richard?" asked Daria. "What makes you so sure he'll go along with your little scheme?"

"Oh, Daria," said Quinn. "We just present it to him as a fate accomply, or whatever that term is."

"You mean fait accompli," Daria said.

"Exactly!" said Quinn. "When you come back from Franklin tomorrow morning..."

"What do you mean by that, precisely?" Daria darkly said.

"Don't tell me you're not thinking of going to Sunday service with him?" Quinn said. Daria blushed and, once again looking down at the floor, muttered something inaudibly.

"As I was saying, when you come back from Sunday service, we just say that we thought that a Sunday picnic would be a nice thing to finish off the day and suggest the park as a venue," Quinn said. "He would go along with it, not least because he's so polite, but also because he doesn't know the area that well. Besides, it would also be an opportunity to get to know you better."

"And what about you two?" Daria asked.

"I'll take along an embroidery hoop and do some blackwork or stumpwork," Quinn said, "and Jane can take some of her painting gear along and paint something."

"Leaving the lucky couple to their own devices," Jane finished. "I like it!" She and Quinn smirked at Daria.

Daria scowled at the pair of them, and then threw her hands up into the air. "All right!" she said. "I suppose I'll go along with this little scheme of yours!" She looked at the clock. "And I suppose I had better go on up and see if Richard's finished with the bathroom." She looked at Jane. "See you up there, Yenta!" With that, she turned around and walked up the stairs.

Jane and Quinn looked at one another. "Poor Daria!" said Quinn.

Jane nodded. "Oh, yeah," she said. "That girl's got it bad!"


After he had finished his shower Rawlings, wearing a fresh shirt, went back to his room and closed the door. He then took his dirty silk shirt and put into a bag to be laundered, hung up his cravat and coat on a coathanger, and then, taking out a clothes brush, brushed his coat and trousers. Then, he took out a fresh shirt and laid it out for the morning.

His eye fell on the guitar that Trent had loaned him. He hesitated for a moment, and then, shrugging, picked it up, strummed it for a bit and, finding that it was still in tune, began to play.

Once more, words that he had known from years past came to his lips. This time, however, the song, although sad, was different, and it once again called on memories that surged unbidden to his consciousness.

Kathleen, mavourneen, the grey dawn is breaking,

The horn of the hunter is heard on the hill.

The lark from her light wing the bright dew is shaking,

Kathleen, mavourneen, what! Slumbering still?


En route to the bathroom, carrying her glasses, her contacts case and already in her usual night attire, Daria once again paused in front of Rawlings' door. Her face took on a dreamy, wistful quality as Rawlings' smooth baritone drifted through the shut door.

Oh, hast thou forgotten how soon we must sever?

Oh, hast thou forgotten this day we must part?

It may be for years, and it may be forever,

Then why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?

It may be for years and it may be forever,

Then why art thou silent, Kathleen, mavourneen?

Kathleen, mavourneen, awake from thy slumbers,

The blue mountains glow in the sun's golden light.

Ah! Where is the spell that once hung on thy numbers,

Arise in thy beauty, thou star of my night!

Mavourneen, mavourneen, my sad tears are falling,

To think that from Erin and thee I must part!

It may be for years, and it may be forever,

Then why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?

It may be for years and it may be forever,

Then why art thou silent, Kathleen, mavourneen?

As happened last night, she heard Rawlings put down the guitar and, after a while, the light shining from underneath his door went out.

Daria was not too sure how long she stood there, transfixed by his words. Eventually she shook herself and went into the bathroom.

She looked in the mirror above the basin. Well, she thought. Your sister and you best friend have both detected that you've got a 'thing' for a certain Southern gentleman. And if they're right, he has one for you. And they're both playing Yenta for the pair of you. They concoct this scheme to take Richard on a picnic after Sunday service tomorrow. And speaking of that, have you made up your mind about going with Richard and your grandmothers? He's right: it would make both Grandma Barksdale and Grandma Morgendorffer happy. But would that be the only reason you'd go?

She sneered at her expression. And you pride yourself on being a rationalist! Face it, Morgendorffer, your hormones are a callin' you. You've finally met a man, a real man who gives every indication of being your equal intellectually and who, to quote your sister, or, rather, to quote what your sister would say, "is really, really hot." Not to mention rich. And are you sure that little consideration isn't influencing you, let alone your hormones? She leaned in a little closer. And you can't answer that, can you? Because you're not sure about being able to give an honest answer. Hypocrite!

She leaned back. Well, I suppose the only thing you can do is to sleep on the issue tonight and hope that you can give a clear answer in the morning. Just hope that you don't have any "interesting dreams" tonight. With that, she took out her contacts and, after undressing, got into the shower.


Later on, as she and Jane were getting ready for bed, Daria glanced over at Jane's easel. The painting on it was covered, but alongside it was another canvas that had the outlines of a painting sketched in. "Interesting interpretation there, Jane," she said.

"Hmn?" said Jane. When she saw what Daria was pointing at she grinned. "You could say that," she said.

"Is Tom looking into the mirror and seeing his older self?" Daria asked.

Jane shook her head. "No, he's looking into the mirror and seeing his ancestor, Jeremiah Sloane," she said. "I've got a copy of a portrait photograph of Jeremiah, and, save for the fact that he's a bit older than Tom and bearded, he's the spitting image of young Thomas."

Daria raised her eyebrows at that piece of information. "Interesting," she said. She pointed at the other canvas. "And the other painting?"

Jane looked at it for a moment. "It's based on that sketch I did of Richard standing at the table last night," she said. "I'm not too sure I'll finish it, though."

That answer took Daria aback slightly. "How come?" she asked.

Jane shrugged. "I'm not too sure," she said. Part of the reason I may not finish it is because I'm just feeling a little weirded out about what happened earlier today, she thought. But you don't need to know that.

"Do you mind if I take a peek?" Daria said.

"Uh..." began Jane.

"Is this going to be yet another of those paintings where you embarrass your true friend?" Daria said.

"Er, you could put it that way, I suppose," said Jane.

"I could put it that way, eh?" Daria said. She walked over to the painting and, before Jane could say a word, had uncovered it.

The painting was definitely based on the scene of last night where Daria and Rawlings had discussed the day's activities. However, Rawlings was dressed in the uniform of a Confederate general officer, down to the dark-blue kepi with gold embroidery, which was on the table in front of him, the wreathed stars in gold thread on the white collar and the Austrian knots on the sleeve, the buff waist sash, red and gold striped swordbelt (with the sword hanging by its top ring on the left side) and the white pointed cuffs framed by the lower part of the Austrian knots. Daria, however, was dressed as a stereotypical Southern belle, and was gazing up at Rawlings' face with a dreamy, infatuated look.

And, as Jane said, it was unfinished.

Daria stood there, looking at the painting, while Jane looked on nervously. Then, as she replaced the cover back onto the painting, Daria asked, "Why aren't you going to complete it, Jane?"

"Because in the current circumstances it would be too tasteless?" Jane said weakly.

Daria nodded. "That'll do for now," she said. Then, smirking, she said,"Although I have to admit this is a first for you."

"What is?"

"That you won't finish a painting because you consider the subject matter too tasteless," Daria replied. She flashed a rare grin at her best friend before heading over to her sleeping bag.

Jane was about to get into her bed when, suddenly, she said, "I hope Richard sleeps well tonight."

"What brought... Oh," said Daria. "Yeah. Me too."

"See you in the morning, Morning Villager," Jane said and turned out the light."


Rawlings dreamed that night. This time, however, it wasn't a nightmare.


He was standing on the foreshore of the sea, looking out over the grey waters of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere near Boston. The wind whipped through his hair and blew back the tails of his opened coat. He was carrying his hat in one hand in order to prevent it from blowing away.

Suddenly, he heard an alto voice, speaking in the accents of New England, address him.

"Richard?" it said.

He turned and saw her standing there, as lovely as ever in her emerald green dress, her auburn hair whipping in the wind and her hazel eyes shining with that hidden devilment that had so captivated him when he had realised what a beautiful, extraordinary woman she was. "Hello, Emma," he said. "I know this is only a dream. Or have you somehow managed to reach me from the Beyond in my sleep?"

Emma gave Rawlings one of her patented half smiles. "Well, it could be either," she said. "But there are some issues you need to talk through, and you always could do that with me. So, here I am." Her look grew serious. "I know about what you did during the war," she said, "how you tended to expose yourself to danger at every possible opportunity." She stepped closer and ran a finger along his right forearm where the scar was. "They called you 'Crazy Dick' or 'Reckless'. Not because you were reckless with the lives of your men, but because you were reckless with your own life." Emma looked Rawlings in the eye. "And I know why you did it."

"Because I wanted to be with you," Rawlings said. "That is, if the good Lord would have allowed us to be together. But He didn't see fit to claim me."

Emma shook her head. "As you once heard Captain Goree say to General Longstreet, the good Lord will come for you in His own good time. And it isn't your time yet, my love."

"But it was yours," Rawlings said.

Emma nodded. "Yes, it was mine," she said. She put her arm through Rawlings' and they started walking along the foreshore. "But this is your time. I know that you have missed me. But I've never really left you. And now there is a chance for happiness. But first, you have to let me go."

"Let you go?" Rawlings said. "What do you mean?"

"You have to release me in order for yourself to move on, my love," Emma said. "We lived and loved, but that time has passed. I know that you will never forget me, but for you to be able to live your life you will have to let me go." She pointed ahead to where someone was waiting. "And this is the best time to do so." They kept walking towards where the person stood.

"What do you mean, Em?" Rawlings asked.

Emma disengaged her arm and, taking Rawlings' hands in hers, once again looked him in the eye. "There's someone else waiting for you there," she said, indicating where the person stood. "Someone who is very much like me and who will, if given a chance, make you quite happy. But for that to happen, you will have to let go." She released his hands and started to drift away.

Rawlings reached forward, trying to grab her. "Emma!" he shouted.

Emma's voice came faintly back, as though from a great distance. "Goodbye, Richard," she said. "We shall meet again."

"Emma!" But she was gone.


Rawlings woke up with a start. For a moment he was disoriented, unaware of where he was. But gradually he regained his bearings.

That was some dream, he thought. Or was it? Emma seemed so real.

Rawlings frowned. But if it wasn't a dream... What did she mean by "There's someone else waiting for you?" Who could she mean? He tried to recall the details of his dream in an attempt to identify the other person, but all he got was a vague impression of someone who had both the height and colouring of his lost love. "Someone who is very much like me." Emma Harrison had been a very intelligent young woman who had often made comments about her surroundings that had scandalised others, but had made him laugh.

Suddenly Rawlings' eyes widened. Daria? he thought. Could that have been a reference to Daria? He shook his head. Are you sure that you're not rationalising the attraction you feel towards that young woman? Besides, you know it really couldn't work. You are from two different worlds. Besides, you have your mission to think about.

His face softened somewhat. But then, there is a possibility... No. Stop deluding yourself. It really is impossible. He got out of bed and pulled on a pair of trousers. He knew that he would have to go and think this through before he would get any more sleep that night. Slowly, and making as little noise as he could, he walked out of his room and went down the hall.


Daria awoke out a deep slumber. The last thing she could remember was a dream. It was, however, vague. All she could remember was that she was on a foreshore by the North Atlantic, and that the location felt as though she was near Boston.

And she was waiting for somebody. Somebody she knew. But who?

She heard the floorboards in the hall creak as somebody went down the hall. It was, however, coming from the direction of Penny's room. Sounds like Richard couldn't sleep either, she thought.

Blearily she got up out of her sleeping bag and felt her way over to the dresser. She picked up her glasses, put them on and looked at the time on the digital clock near Jane's bed. Four-thirty five in the morning, she thought to herself. I suppose it's not all that early. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? It's disgustingly early! She looked past the curtains covering Jane's bedroom window and saw that the sky was beginning to lighten. Well, no use going back to bed, she thought to herself. I suppose I had better go on down and join Richard for some coffee before breakfast. She changed out of her sleeping attire and into her more usual mode of dress. She left off her boots, however, and, opening the door very slowly, slipped out and, after closing it quietly behind her, quietly walked down the hall.

Passing by Trent's room, she looked in and saw that he had managed to make it back from the Zen. He was, however, passed out on his bed, and still wearing the clothes he had on the night before. Glad to see some things haven't changed, she thought to herself with a mental snicker. She headed on down the corridor and went down the stairs.

At the bottom she heard noises coming from the kitchen. Sounds like Richard's making some more of that lethal concoction he calls coffee, Daria thought to herself. She turned and went into the kitchen. As she had thought, she saw Rawlings standing at the stove making a pot of coffee simply by pouring the grounds into the pot and letting them steep while it boiled. No wonder it's lethally strong, Daria thought, if that's how he makes it.

Rawlings turned from the stove and saw Daria standing there. "Oh!" he said. "I didn't hear you get up."

"Couldn't get back to sleep after this weird dream I had," Daria said, walking over to a kitchen chair and leaning on the back. "What about you?"

"The same as you, oddly enough," Rawlings said as he pulled out a chair and indicated that she should sit down. Daria hesitated for a moment and then, shrugging, sat down in the offered chair. "What was your dream about?" he asked as he pulled out a chair for himself and sat down in it.

Daria frowned in concentration. "I'm not really all that sure," she said. "I really don't remember all that much. But I do know that I was on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean near Boston, and that I was waiting for someone. Someone I knew." She didn't notice Rawlings' start of surprise as she told him what she could remember of her dream. "How about you?"

Rawlings hesitated for a moment, and then said, "It's not that important. In fact, I'm grateful that it wasn't another nightmare." He looked at her. "Do you have any idea who it was you were waiting for?" he asked.

"No," Daria replied. "Only that I know the... no, correct that. Only that I know him!" She looked up at Rawlings. "There was something else... a couple walking along the foreshore."

"What about them?"

"They were dressed funnily, almost as though they were in the past," Daria said. "I think they were talking. Then, suddenly, there was only the man left there, staring at where the lady he was with had been standing." She fell silent.

"Can you recall anything else, Daria?" Rawlings asked after the silence had stretched on for some time.

"No," Daria replied. "No, I can't." Silence fell between them. It was broken only by the ringing of the timer bell on the stove.

"Coffee's ready," said Rawlings as he went over to the stove. "Do you want a cup?"

"Only if you dilute it," Daria said. Rawlings nodded, and poured himself a cup and then poured Daria a half-cup, which he topped up with water. "It won't be as hot," he said as he passed it to her, "but I suspect it'll be more potable for your sensitivities."

Daria smirked as she took the cup from him and then sipped. "Uuuhh," she said, shuddering. "This stuff will definitely keep me up for a while."

Rawlings smiled behind his cup as he drank from it. "So, have you decided?" he asked.

"Excuse me?"

"Decided if you're going to join me and your grandmothers in going to Sunday service in Franklin," Rawlings said.

Daria put down her cup. "I haven't really thought about it,' she said. "As I said, I'm more agnostic than a believer." She thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. "Why not?" she said. "It really can't hurt. Besides, as you said, it'll please my grandmothers." She smirked at Rawlings. "I might be able to get some good out of it as well."


"I was lucky enough to get a couple of scholarships," Daria said, "as well as a Pell Grant. However, I still have to work in order to pay rent and put food on the table, let alone buy clothes. I'm thankful that Jane and I are sharing an apartment, but some assistance from my family would be greatly appreciated."

"Bit mercenary, isn't it? Asked Rawlings.

Daria shrugged. "At least I'd be investing anything I got into getting an education," she replied. "Grandma Barksdale funded my cousin Erin's quite lavish wedding, something which still burns my mother up. She had to put herself through college. So did Dad: he got nothing from his father."

"I see," Rawlings replied. "How long have you got to go?"

"About a year," Daria replied. "Unless I decide to go onto further studies. But I think that'll have to wait for a while."

"What do you intend to do once you graduate?"

"I'm hoping to become a writer," Daria said. "I won't get rich doing that, but it's what I want to do. I'll probably either wind up teaching or writing for a newspaper, since I've taken Journalism as another of my majors."

"Hmmm," Rawlings said as he sipped his coffee. "I'll probably do some further studies sometime," he said. "Might could be I'll check out Boston and see what the institutions of learning up there could offer me," he casually continued. At that, Daria caught her breath, but forced herself to continue breathing.

Rawlings finished his coffee and threw the dregs into the sink. He then topped the pot up with fresh water and left it on the stove at a low heat. "By the time Jane and Trent get up, that should be ready for their first drinks of the day," he said.

"What are you going to do now?" Daria asked.

"I was thinking of taking my morning constitutional while I go and get a newspaper," Rawlings said. "Care to join me?"

Daria thought for a moment. "Just let me go get my boots," she said. She put her coffee down, sprang out of her chair and went out of the room. As she did she showed off to Rawlings' appreciative eye a shapely pair of calves, which her boots had concealed. She returned and started putting on her Docs.

"Why the boots?" Rawlings asked. "Fashion statement?"

"More of an anti-fashion statement, if you ask Quinn," smirked Daria. "I wear these because they're well made and comfortable to walk in." She finished lacing up her boots and stood up. "Ready when you are," she replied."

"I'll go up and get my brogans," Rawlings said. He left the room, moving with his accustomed cat-like grace, which drew Daria's fascinated gaze after him. Before long he returned, carrying his boots, which he then put on. After he had finished he stood up and made a slight bowing gesture. "After you," he said.

Grinning, Daria gave a small curtsey and proceeded Rawlings through the kitchen doorway and up to the front door, which Rawlings opened and ushered her through. Once he had closed the door behind him he turned and offered Daria his arm. After a brief hesitation she took it and the pair of them went off down the footpath and down the sidewalk towards the centre of town.

By now the sun was well above the horizon, but the day had yet to acquire any real heat. During their slow walk Daria and Rawlings saw several joggers go past, with Daria snickering at Rawlings' term for them: "morning maniacs," and offering her own colour commentary on them. They soon reached the centre of town and made their way across the green in the centre. Halfway across they encountered a pair of joggers who were quite familiar to Daria.

"Daria? Is that you?" asked the male jogger in a soft voice.

"Hello, Mr. O'Neill, Ms. Barch," Daria said. Inwardly, though, she was cringing. Oh, great! she thought. I knew that I'd run into some of my ex-teachers sooner or later. But Mr SNAG and Ms Emasculation? And while I'm with company? Please, God: take me now, before they do something I'll regret.

"Well, hello, Daria," said Barch. "How is college going?"

"Going rather well," Daria replied. "But I'm expecting that reality will soon come crashing in to remind me of the essential nature of the world."

"I see," said Barch. During this she had been eyeing Rawlings with some disapproval. "And who might your... companion be?" she asked.

Daria let go of Rawlings' arm. "This is Mr. Richard John Rawlings the Third, of Mount Folly, Carter City County, Virginia," Daria said. "Richard, these are a couple of my old teachers, Ms. Janet Barch and Mr. Timothy O'Neill."

Rawlings held out his hand. "A pleasure to meet you both," he said. Both Barch and O'Neill raised their eyebrows at Rawlings' cultured, aristocratic Virginian accent.

"Mount Folly?" asked O'Neill. "I have to say that I have never heard of such a place. It is a small town?"

"Actually it is my family's home," Rawlings said. "We purchased it from the Carters in 1752, although my family's been on the Peninsular since 1610."

"Oh, my!" said O'Neill. "A real member of Virginia's founding families! I have to say that I am honoured to make your acquaintance!" He took Rawlings' hand and fulsomely shook it until Rawlings managed to recover it.

"My pleasure," Rawlings said as he turned to take Barch's hand. "And it is my pleasure to make the acquaintance of two of Miss Morgendorffer's teachers."

"Hmpf," snorted Barch. Her eyebrows rose even further when he made to bow over it. "I suppose that your upbringing taught you everything you need to know about how to treat women," she said as she reclaimed her hand.

As he straightened up, Rawlings raised an eyebrow in query. "Why, whatever do you mean?" he asked.

"I suppose that your upbringing taught you to regard women as inferior creatures who need to be protected and looked after," Barch replied. At this, O'Neill started to visibly fret.

"Now, Janet," he said. "I'm quite sure that Mister Rawlings doesn't believe that," he said.

"Hush, Skinny!" Barch said. "I think I know what we are dealing with here!"

While this exchange went on, Rawlings assessed the pair before them. The man's one of those Sensitive types, eh? he thought. And the woman is one of these 'radical feminist' types. Possibly embittered over something. "And what, praytell, do you believe you are dealing with here, ma'am?" he asked Barch.

"Well, it's obvious!" Barch said. "You're one of those rich types who are out to land a younger woman who will look after you and who you can show off on your arm!" She was somewhat disconcerted to hear Rawlings let out a deep-throated laugh at Barch's description.

"Madame, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried!" Rawlings said, chuckling. "I happen to believe that women should be treated with every ounce of respect that they can possibly be granted. And, for your information, that was something I learned not from my farther or my governor, but from my mother and from my education at the Virginia Military Institute, plus several years as a commissioned officer in the United States Regular Army." Not to mention my time with a very special woman who could teach you a thing or three! "And I do not believe that a wife is only a mere ornament for a man, but an equal in what should be a partnership."

"Well, if that's the case, then why are you..." Barch began.

"Miss Daria Morgendorffer is a recent acquain... no, I take that back," Rawlings said. "Daria is a very good friend of my recent acquaintance who is currently helping me in a small project of mine involving a member of my family who passed through here in 1862. I most certainly do not consider her a 'trophy' to be flaunted at a cotillion in Richmond. Although," he said, giving Daria a deep bow, "I do believe that she would be an ornament in her own right at any function she cared to attend." He offered Daria his arm again and she took it. "Good-day, madame. Good-day, sir," he said and led a by now deeply blushing Daria away from a completely flummoxed Barch and an O'Neill who was almost on the edge of hysterics.

"My God!" said Daria when they had gotten far enough away. "I have never seen anybody do that to Barch and get away with it!" She looked up at the tall Virginian. "How did you do it?"

"Nothing to it," Rawlings replied. "All I did was simply point out the truth and not give her a chance to respond." He frowned slightly. "What is with her, anyway?"

"Her husband ran off with a blonde thing twenty years younger than she is and drained their joint bank accounts," Daria said. "The divorce was quite nasty, or so the school grapevine said.

"I see," Rawlings said. "That explains much. And... O'Neill? Is that right?" Daria nodded in reply. "He looks as though a good fright would cause him to curl up and die."

"He teaches English and a Self-Esteem workshop at Lawndale High," Daria said. "He's basically a walking caricature of a Sensitive New Age Man."

"Right," said Rawlings. "I think we can safely declare the matter closed, thank you." Daria smirked in reply as they finished crossing the green and headed for the newsagent.

They walked into the newsagent, Rawlings once again holding the door open for Daria and went up to the counter. Daria bought the local newspaper while Rawlings once again bought copies of The New York Times and the Washington Post. Once their papers were in their bags Rawlings nodded to the attendant (who was astonished that Rawlings had walked in with Daria) and, with Rawlings again holding the door open, left the newsagent.

As they strolled back across the green, Daria once again having taken Rawlings' arm, she was surprised to see him give the statue a small nod in greeting. "Why did you do that?" she asked.

"Do what?" Rawlings said.

"Give the statue a nod of greeting," Daria said.

"Polite thing to do," Rawlings said. "Whenever I'm in Richmond and I'm walking past Washington's statue I give it a nod in greeting as well. When you consider what the two statues represent, I think you'll agree it's appropriate."

Daria though about it for a moment. "Never thought about it that way," she said. "But I suppose you have a point there." Rawlings smiled and patted her hand where it rested on his arm.


Unbeknownst to Daria and Rawlings their progress back across the green was being watched by two pairs of eyes, the owners of which could not believe what they were seeing.

"Oh my God," said one owner, a young woman of eighteen or nineteen who spoke in a deep voice and affected a "valley girl" type of speech pattern. "I do not believe what I am seeing!"

Her companion was an Asian-American young woman of similar age. When she spoke she drew out every word. "That's... so... wrong," she said.

"How did Quinn's sister manage to catch someone like him?" demanded Sandi Griffin. "I mean, just look at her!"

"Perhaps... he's... taking... pity... on... her?" said Tiffany Blum-Deckler.

"Well, she needs all the pity she can get," said Sandy. "She dresses like a fashion don't, she's plain as anything, and she's a brain to boot! Where did she meet him, I wonder?"

"Perhaps... she... met... him... in... Boston?" said Tiffney. "Maybe... he's... a... brain?"

"Of course not," Sandy replied. "He's too good-looking to be a brain!" A scheming look came across her features. "Maybe we should call Quinn and find out how they met."

Tiffney nodded. "Good... idea," she said.


As Daria and Rawlings let themselves into Casa Lane they could hear the sounds of someone rummaging inside the kitchen. "Sounds like Jane's up," Daria said.

"Well, in that case we had best prepare ourselves for breakfast and then Sunday service afterwards," Rawlings said. He glanced at the clock. "We had better get moving." He looked at Daria. "Are you going to wear the same clothes you wore last night?" he asked.

Daria shrugged. "I suppose I had better," she replied, "since they're the only decent clothes I have."

"Well, in that case you had best go on up and freshen up and get changed before breakfast," Rawlings said. "I'll wait down here until you've finished." Daria nodded, put her newspaper down on the coffee table and hurried up the stairs.

Rawlings headed into the kitchen. Sure enough, he saw Jane getting ready to cook breakfast. "Good morning, Jane," Rawlings said as he entered the kitchen.

Jane looked over her shoulder. "'Morning, Richard," she said. "You're certainly an early riser. Is Daria with you?"

"She was," Rawlings said, "but she's gone back upstairs to freshen up and get changed."

"So she's going into Franklin with you," Jane said as she bustled around getting things ready. "That should make her grandmothers happy."

"I like to think that's not the only reason she's going," Rawlings said.

Jane looked at Rawlings. "You could be right," she said. And I think I can guess her reason for going into Franklin with you. But it's not one I'd voice aloud. "So, I take it you'll be freshening up after Daria's finished in the shower?" Jane asked.

Rawlings nodded. "So what's for breakfast, Jane?" he asked.

"I decided on pancakes with butter and syrup this morning," Jane said. "Shouldn't take too long."

"Pancakes, eh?" said another voice at the door. Both Rawlings and Jane turned to see Quinn, still in her normal bed attire, standing at the kitchen door rubbing sleep out of her eyes. "Sounds good." She stumbled past Rawlings. "Is there something to help me wake up?" she asked.

"There's some of Richard's coffee on the stove," Jane said, handing Quinn a mug.

Quinn shuddered but took the offered mug anyway. "Thanks, Jane," she said, picking up the pot. She poured herself half a mug and then topped it up with water. She then went to the fridge and, getting out a carton of milk, poured some in. She shut the fridge, took both carton and mug over to the table and sat down, placing the milk on the table in front of her and stirring her coffee. Visibly bracing herself, she took a sip.

"Much better, once it's been diluted," she said. Rawlings just shook his head, an amused smile on his face. Quinn looked at Jane. "You want me to get the syrup out of the fridge?" she asked.

"Yeah," Jane said. "I'll be a while with the pancakes, so it should have time to get nice and runny." Quinn got up and went to the fridge to get out the syrup.

"Something smells good," said another voice at the door. They all looked up to see Trent, waiting at the doorway.

"Come on in," Jane said. "Breakfast will be a while, but there's coffee ready."

"Thanks, Janey," Trent said as he ambled through to the stove. Picking up a mug he poured himself a mug and went over to the table to sit down. He poured in some milk and stirred it in before taking a sip. His eyes shot wide open and his entire frame shook as the concentrated hit of caffeine hit his system. "I take it Richard made this?" Trent said as he put his mug down.

"Considering that it was on the stove when I got down here, I would have to go with 'yes' on that one," Jane said. "How could you tell?"

"This stuff's strong enough to strip paint," Trent said as he took another sip. "This, plus the one I had yesterday morning, should keep me going for a couple of days," Trent said.

"Not my fault you people drink dish water instead of decent coffee," Rawlings said.

"Not all of us were in the Army, Richard," Jane said as she placed the first stack of pancakes on the table. "Dig in, everyone."

"Pancakes, eh?" said a new voice. Everyone looked up to see Daria dressed as she had been the night before, save that this time she wore no makeup, wore her glasses instead of her contacts and was carrying her choker.

"Ah, I see you've decided to accompany Richard this morning," Jane said. She exchanged a smirk with Quinn.

"Where are you going?" asked Trent.

"Daria is going to accompany myself and her grandmothers to Sunday service in Franklin this morning," Rawlings said as he got up out of his chair. "Do you want me to put that on you?" he asked Daria.

"Not yet," she replied. "I think I'll have breakfast first. You go ahead and have yours." Rawlings nodded. Pausing only to pull a chair out for Daria, he headed out of the kitchen.

Jane turned to Daria, a smirk on her face. "Don't say a word, Lane," Daria said. "Just don't say a word."

Jane put on a look of affronted innocence. "I wasn't going to say anything about you accepting Richard's offer to put your choker around your neck," she said. "Honestly I wasn't." However, the grin that she was struggling to keep off of her face put the lie to that statement.

"Sure you weren't," Daria sourly said. She looked at her sister, who was struggling not to laugh. "And if you know what's good for you..." she said, leaving the unspoken death threat hanging in the air. It did not, however, achieve the desired effect. She decided instead to dig into the pancakes and syrup that Jane was making for breakfast. After a while Rawlings came back into the kitchen, having showered and changed into his good clothes. He pulled out a chair, sat down, and also started to dig into the pancakes.

After he had finished, he looked around. All the others were finishing their breakfasts. He got up and pulled out his watch and looked at it. "If we're going to be on time to pick up Ruth and Tess," he said to Daria, "we had best be going."

"All right," said Daria, who also stood up. She smoothed her skirts, and then gave Rawlings a small smile. "You can put the choker on me now," she said. A chorus of sniggers rose from two people at the table, which rapidly fell silent as Daria turned a glare on the offending parties. She turned and walked out of the kitchen into the living area, a bemused Rawlings following.

Jane and Quinn looked at one another before they both started snickering. "Poor Daria!" said Quinn.


"Thank you for coming to pick us up, Richard," Tess Barksdale said as she and Ruth Morgendorffer got into the rear seat of the Mercedes. Both women had declined the offer of the front seat next to Rawlings, which led to some inaudible mutters from its occupant.

"You look lovely this morning Daria," said Ruth as she slid in next to Ruth. "And, of course, Richard looks magnificent, as always." Tess nodded sagely.

Daria fought the urge to glare into the rear-view mirror. Oh, great! she thought sourly. Not only are Quinn and Jane joining forces to play yenta, it now appears that both of my grandmothers have decided to join the fun. She sent a sour thought upwards. I just hope You are enjoying this, Whoever You are.

Rawlings got into the car. "I do hope one of you knows where the church is," he said to the two ladies in the back. "Apart from when I passed through Franklin on my way here, it was some time ago when I last came this way, and there have been a few changes." Which is an understatement if there ever was one, he thought.

Ruth Morgendorffer nodded. "I got Jake to look it up yesterday on this 'Internet' that everybody talks about," she said. "I've got the instructions and a map here," she said, reaching into her purse and pulling out some folded paper. "Here," she said, reaching forward and handing the paper to Rawlings.

He took them, unfolded them and then handed them to Daria. "Would you please navigate for me?" he asked.

Daria gave him a half-smile. "Sure," she said, taking the papers from him. Rawlings had great difficulty in controlling his reaction to her half-smile, but managed to do so.

"Thank you," he said, and, starting the car, he drove off from in front of the Morgendorffer residence.


Jane and Quinn were sitting at the kitchen table, planning the afternoon's activities.

"So," said Jane. "We'll just make simple ham or chicken and salad sandwiches. I'll get Trent to run me down to the local liquor store and we'll get something appropriate while you work out what we can use for a rug. Hmm, come to think of it, why don't we use rugs?"

"You have some?" Quinn asked.

"Penny brought some back with her from one of her trips down to Latin America," Jane said, "along with some cushions. I'm also sure that there are some old rugs that we could use for this in the attic or basement. I'll go up and look." In the background they could hear the telephone ringing. "I had better go answer that," Jane said, standing up. She went into the living room and picked up the 'phone. "Yello," she said.

"Is this the Lane residence?" asked a female voice.

"Yes it is," Jane said.

"Oh, good!" replied the voice. "This is Scarlett."

Jane lowered her voice. "You managed to find my 'phone number," she said. "I can tell you that Richard and Daria have left for Franklin. Currently Quinn, Daria's sister, and I are planning to have Richard take us all picnicking up at the big tree in the park overlooking the hill."

"Oh that's excellent," Scarlett breathed. "I'll get myself up there. I won't be with you, but I'll find myself a position from which I can see you all."

"All right," said Jane. "By the way, you know that all of this is weirding me out quite thoroughly. And I still haven't the foggiest how we can explain this to Daria, let alone prove this to her."

Scarlett was silent for a moment. Then, she said, "I suppose we might have to let her speak to Roger. He won't like that, but if he can speak to her alone, it might put her into a more receptive frame of mind."

"Worth a try," Jane said. "I had better go. Quinn's planning lunch. Which is when I think we'll be up at the park."

"Lunch time then, Scarlett said. "Thanks, Jane. This should help out a lot. 'Bye."

"'Bye." Jane hung up the 'phone. She looked at it for a moment and then, after looking at the clock, went in search of Trent.


"Found them!"

Jane stood up from an opened, carved cedarwood chest and carefully pulled out a large rectangular kilim rug. Cedarwood balls and bags of camphor wood shavings fell off it as she lifted it up. It was heavy but Jane managed to haul it all the way out of the chest and looked at it.

The kilim was a Central Asian design, and had been brought back to the family by Jane's great-great grandfather, who had partially funded his wanderings by becoming a rug and curio merchant. He'd done pretty well out of it too. However, he had kept the best pieces for himself and had passed them on to his children.

She looked in the chest and pulled out several cushion covers. Actually they were small bags that were used in Central Asia for storage. However, the nomads of the area also used them as cushions. And I can get inserts easily enough, Jane thought. Hmm, I wonder if we should use these to dress up the house a bit more? Looking in she pulled out another rug. This one, however, had a cut pile to it. Deciding that she had enough for now, she slung the two rugs over her shoulder, closed the chest and, carrying the cushion covers, headed out of the attic.

She walked into the living area and dropped her load onto the couch. Then she unfolded the rugs. As she had expected, the cedar of the chest and the balls had kept moths and silverfish at bay. And she was openly admiring of the colours and workmanship that had gone into the rugs. I could easily put these into a painting, she thought. Perhaps of Quinn dressed as a Renaissance noblewoman doing some needlework. Yeah, that'd work.

Quinn came in from the kitchen. "Did you... she said and stopped when she saw Jane examining the rugs. "Oh my God!" she said. "Those are beautiful! Where did you get them?"

Jane turned around with a smug grin. "Great-great-granddaddy Lane collected these," she said. "He used to go to places like Central Asia, buy up rugs and other curios and bring them back to sell to rich New Yorkers and Washingtonians. That's how he managed to finance his wanderings. He kept the best pieces for himself, however. These were in an old cedarwood chest upstairs." She sniffed the rugs. "I'll have to air them for a bit before we could use them," she said.

Quinn was running a hand over the rugs. "These are just perfect," she said. She pointed at the bags. "Cushion covers?" she asked.

"Actually, those are storage bags," Jane said. "But they do get used as cushion covers, which is what I have in mind for them." She slung the rugs over her shoulders and started to head for the back door. "I'll sling these over the clothesline out back and let the sun and air get to them," she said. "Then I'll head back up into the attic and see if I can find the picnic gear."

Quinn watched as Jane carried out the rugs. "Need a hand?" she asked.


"That was a most lovely service," Tess said as they exited the Episcopalian church in Franklin. "Thank you for bringing us, Richard," she said.

Ruth nodded in agreement. "And the minister was very eloquent," she said.

Rawlings nodded. "I should not be all that surprised," he said. "Especially with Franklin's proximity to Washington city." He turned to Daria, who was once more attached to his left arm. "You seem particularly thoughtful," he said.

Daria looked up at Rawlings. "It's because I'm thinking over what I saw and heard in there," she said. "I knew that the King James Bible was one of the masterpieces of the English language, but I was not aware of just how... rich it was."

"And I like the fact that the minister spoke from the New Testament rather than the Old," Rawlings said. "The Old Testament is mainly for background, whereas the New Testament brings to us Christ's message for the world."

"I take it you disapprove of how some have used Scripture," Daria said.

Rawlings nodded. "I have seen it used to justify some horrible things," he said. Especially chattel slavery, he thought. "But, used properly, it is capable of inspiring the best in us all."

By now they had reached Rawlings' car. He keyed it open and held the doors open for Tess and Ruth to climb in the back. Then he opened the front passenger's side door for Daria, who climbed in. Finally he climbed in himself, shut the door, started the engine and drove off.

The trip back to Lawndale was a quiet one, with nobody really in the mood for conversation.

Especially Daria. She was still turning over in her mind what she had heard. I have to admit that I'm still not sure if there is a God, she thought. But what Richard said about what is in the Bible does make some kind of sense. But do I need what it has to offer to me? I'm still the rationalist I claim myself to be, aren't I?

She looked at Rawlings. He believes, she thought. Yet, as he said, his belief is not the kind of in-your-face-I'm-better-than-you kind that I see from the 'Fundamentalists', or rather, those who claim to be Fundamentalists. But he also said that if I was unable to believe, then he would believe for the both of us. Is his belief a clue to what makes him so... so... extraordinary?

Daria faced the front again. I have to admit, she thought, I don't know the answer to this little problem.


Having dropped Tess and Ruth off at Schloss Morgendorffer, Daria and Rawlings pulled into the Lanes' driveway. The got out of the car, locked the doors behind them and, using Daria's key, walked in through the front door. Going into the living room they stopped at what they saw.

"What's going on?" asked Daria. "This place looks like an explosion has happened in a rug factory."

"Quinn and I decided that we should all go on a picnic," Jane said. "I mean, the day is a lovely one, and it'd be a shame to stay indoors. So we've been putting together what we need for a picnic."

"Where do you suggest we go?" a bemused Rawlings asked.

"We're thinking of the hill overlooking town," Jane said. "That is, if there are no objections."

Rawlings hesitated slightly, and then nodded. "No objections from here," he said. "I think that a picnic is a capital idea." He looked at Daria. "You don't mind, do you?" he asked.

Daria shook her head. "No objections here either," she said. "However, I do insist on changing into something other than these clothes."

"Oh, but the pair of you look so good in them," Jane said. "Besides, it'd make a great picture!"

Rawlings grinned. "You're not the one wearing them, Jane," he said. "And it is somewhat warm today." He looked around. "I think I'll strip out of my coat and waistcoat and into something a bit more comfortable," he said. "I take it that we intend to be up there for lunchtime?"

"If we can arrange it, yes," said Jane.

Rawlings nodded. "Then, if you'll excuse me,?" he said and headed up the stairs.

Daria and Jane watched him leave. "I have to admit that went a lot smoother than I thought," said Jane. She looked at Daria. "So, how was the church service?"

"It went well," Daria said. "Both grandmothers were glad I had come along, and the service itself was... interesting." She looked at Jane. "The minister said a lot of insightful things. Not like the holy rollers we see on TV."

"Hmm," said Jane. "Does this mean..."

"Probably... No, most likely not," Daria said. "However, I think I'm going to have to study some religious history, with perhaps a little theology on the side to fully understand today." She looked up the stairs. "And I had better go get changed." With that, she headed up the stairs.

"Was that Daria and Richard?" Quinn asked as she came in from the kitchen. "They've come back?"

"Yep," said Jane, "and it's 'all systems go' for 'Operation Yenta'." She shot Quinn a grin. "All I have to do now is to go and pack a sketchpad and an easel and I'm set."

"The hamper's ready," Quinn said. "I'll just bring along an embroidery hoop and do some blackwork. Should be easy."

"What, the blackwork, or...?"

"The blackwork," Quinn replied. "The other is going to take some doing. But this should help somewhat." She went off to pack her hoop while Jane went upstairs to collect a sketch pad and pencils. Before long all four met in the Lane living room.

"So where's the hamper?" Rawlings asked.

"It's in the kitchen," Jane said. "If you and Daria can take the rugs out Quinn and I will get the hamper." Rawlings nodded and picked up the two rugs while Daria handled the cushions. Quinn and Jane went into the kitchen, returning with the hamper between them, Jane's art gear and Quinn's embroidery stuff resting on top. Together they carried it out to Rawlings' car and placed it in the trunk on top of the rugs. Then, after the trunk had been closed, all four got into the car (with Daria once again being placed in the front alongside of Rawlings) and drove off.


Andrea's car pulled into the parking area of the park on the hilltop overlooking Lawndale. She turned off the engine and looked over at her passenger. "So they'll be here soon?" she asked.

Scarlett nodded. "Around lunchtime," she said. She took a beep breath and attempted to steady her nerves. "Then I'll try and link to him and see what I can find out."

"You sure you're up to this, girlfriend?" Andrea asked. "And you also sure we shouldn't be telling your aunt and Myrddn about this?"

"Positive." replied Scarlett. She got out of the car and closed the door. Andrea got out with her.

"So where do you intend to wait?" Andrea asked.

Scarlett pointed towards the tree line. "In there," she said. Without looking back at Andrea she started heading for the trees, Andrea following.

I hope this works, thought Andrea. I also hope that nothing goes wrong.


Rawlings pulled into a vacant parking space in the park. Switching off the engine he said "Where shall we set up our picnic?"

"How about over there, by that big tree?" Jane said, pointing out the tree. "The view over Lawndale is pretty good, and on a clear day you can almost see Franklin."

Rawlings looked over at the tree. "All right," he said. "We'll set up there." They got out of the car and took out the rugs and hamper from the trunk. As Rawlings shut the trunk and keyed the car locked Quinn and Jane carried the hamper over to the tree and set it down.

"Why don't we use the picnic table?" asked Daria as she carried over the cushions, leaving the rugs for Rawlings to bring with him.

"No need to," Jane replied. "This way's much more fun!"

"You know how I feel about 'fun', Jane," Daria said.

"Oh, come on, sis!" Quinn said. "Learn to relax a little! This way we can all lie down after lunch and sleep it off." She leaned over to Daria. "Besides, this way is far more romantic."

Daria scowled at Quinn. "I don't know which is worse," she said. "Jane, you or our grandmothers." Just then Rawlings came over with the rugs.

"Where do you want them?" he asked.

"Just here would be fine, Richard," Jane said. Rawlings unfolded the rugs and spread them out as Jane directed. In the meantime Quinn had opened the hamper and was taking out a white tablecloth, which she spread on the ground in-between the two rugs.

"This is an impressive setup," Rawlings said as he eyed the hamper. "A regular travelling set." He looked at the maker's mark on the cloth lining of the wickerwork lid. "English make," he said. He looked at Jane. "Is this also your great-great grandfather's?"

Jane nodded. "We got it from Grandpa Lane some time ago," she said. "However, we didn't use it all that much, so this is its first outing in quite some time." She looked at Rawlings. "Why don't you go and take a look while we set things up?" she said. When he hesitated Jane made shooing gestures, to which Rawlings, slowly shaking his head, gave a wry smile and walked over to the edge of the crest line.

Jane was right: the view was splendid from up on top of the hill. Rawlings looked around. The view's pretty good, he thought. He leaned against the tree and looked in the direction of Franklin. And, save for the houses, pretty much the same as it was when... Damn, it gets confusing sometimes! From Sloane's Farm, back then.

Unbidden, the memories started to come back.


Scarlett and Andrea, watching from the trees, saw Rawlings' car pull up. "Well, they're here," Andrea said as she watched its occupants get out and unload the trunk.

Scarlett watched as Jane directed them over to the big tree. "Oh, well done, Jane," she breathed. "That should help just nicely." She focussed inwards and began her mental and breathing exercises.

Andrea watched her getting ready. "You sure about this?" she asked.

"Yes," Scarlett said. "Just keep an eye on me and the time, ok?" she said. Andrea, her face showing her worry, nodded, and Scarlett started to reach out towards Rawlings, fully intending to link with his psyche.

Just as she started to make the linkage, she said, "He's experiencing a flashback. Excellent."

The link was made, and Scarlett started her exploration of Rawlings' psyche.


Once again she found herself standing on the hilltop. This time, however, she was standing right next to Rawlings, who was standing in the exact same place she had seen him before she had made the link. This time, however, he was in his uniform and was peering through a set of field glasses in company with his staff and several other generals, none of whom she could recognise.

She looked in the direction they were scanning, and saw, in the distance, a massive plume of dust along the length of the horizon and extending many hundreds of feet into the air. For a moment she was confused as to the significance of the plume, but then she realised that she was watching the unmistakable sign of an army marching along a dusty road. And from the size of the dust cloud their progress had created, it was a huge army.

It dawned on her that she was watching the arrival in the Franklin area of the other great, legendary army of the Eastern Theatre of the Civil War: the Army of the Potomac. And they were coming to fight its great and equally legendary opponent, the Army of Northern Virginia.

A part of which had entrenched itself on the slope below where she was standing.

Scarlett realised that while many of the soldiers were watching the dust plume, Rawlings and his subordinates were watching something that was much closer. Something that was approaching the crossroads. She looked there and saw that there was a long, dark line moving along the road. When it reached the crossroads it started spreading out into the fields on either side of the road, like a great dark blue stain on a piece of blotting paper.

A phrase came to her mind: And so the great army of McClellan arrived. She was seeing Union soldiers arriving and setting up an overnight encampment that was well out of range of the guns the Confederates had entrenched on the slopes above them.

What is the date? she wondered. The answer came to her: September 16, 1862.

So tomorrow's the seventeenth of September, Scarlett thought. Why is that date familiar? Then it came to her.

Although September 11 2001 had traumatised the United States, it was not the bloodiest day in American history. That had been another September day, certainly, but it was the day that a battle had been fought in Western Maryland, along a little creek.

A little creek called the Antietam.

Over six thousand Americans had died that day along its banks and in the fields that lay on either side of that innocent looking little waterway. Both the creek and the fields and lanes surrounding it had entered American history on that day, with names that still reverberated in America's historical consciousness.

The Cornfield. Bloody Lane. Burnside's Bridge. The Dunker Church. There had been bloodier fights, but Antietam stood out for the sheer carnage that had happened in one day.

And it looked as though Rawlings and his men were about to take part in their version of Antietam.


Scarlett found herself again afloat in the stream of Rawlings' psyche. This time, however, because of the link, she had more control over where she could go. She started to scan the various images until she found one that gave the impression that she could find some answers in it. Steeling herself, she entered.

She found herself in a room in a great house. From the size and splendour of the room it appeared to be a plantation house. The feeling she got for it, however, was not that of "Tara" from Gone With the Wind, but of one that was somewhat older.

She saw that the room was occupied, and that a fire was burning in the fireplace. Outside she could see snow on the ground. Winter, then, she thought. She concentrated on the room's occupants, and saw that they consisted of Rawlings and several other senior officers. She recognised Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson, but was not too sure about some of the others.

One, who sat next to Lee on his left hand side, was a big, solid man with a large, spade-shaped beard that grew halfway down his chest. He was dressed in a blue-grey uniform with white collar and cuffs. Another was younger, with boyish good-looks and with a reddish-brown beard that was at least as impressive as that on the bigger man. His uniform was grey, but cut more like a short, double-breasted jacket. He had a rakish air about him. Both men were concentrating on what was going on in the room.

Lee was speaking. "You make some very salient points, General," he said, "about the Confederacy's manpower problems. This army especially has experienced some shortages to such an extent that I fear that we may have to disband some brigades and fold them into other units."

He leaned forward. "However, I do fear that you could well be stirring up a very nasty hornet's nest with your suggestion that we should emancipate the slaves in exchange for their fighting for the Confederacy. Please do not take this comment as signs of any lack of sympathy on my part for your position, but rather as a sign of concern for the future of what is a very promising career as a general officer."

"I understand and thank you for your concern, General Lee," Rawlings said. He was wearing a different, newer uniform to the one Scarlett had seen him wearing in the previous vision, one that was much more like the one worn by the large man. "However, vain as it may appear to some, I believe that my coming from one of Virginia's oldest families, as well as still being a substantive slaveholder in my own right, may help lessen any... criticism that may come my way.

"But we must acknowledge that, unless we somehow find an answer to our manpower problems we will be overwhelmed by the Yankees. They are far more numerous than we are and, even without the effect of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, are constantly being reinforced by every new immigrant that walks down the gangplank from a steamer arriving from Europe. My own division at Cacotin Mountain encountered several units with large numbers of immigrants in their ranks. And the best way we can do that is to turn their own weapon, which is what their Emancipation Proclamation is: make no bones about that, against them, by offering to free any Negro who fights for us."

"Surely we can find a way that would not entail the wholesale upsetting of our entire social fabric?" Jackson said."If we do free some Negroes, how then could we then justify keeping those who do not fight in bondage?"

"General Jackson, with all due respect, we are currently unable to justify to the great powers of Europe, especially the British, our 'peculiar institution'," Rawlings said. "When you consider that Russia, which is an autocracy, has freed its serfs, while we, who claim to be a democratic republic, still have chattel slavery, how could the British openly support our bid for independence from the Union? And as for attempting to maintain our entire social fabric, that fabric started to change when our several States seceded from the Union, and is undergoing change every day this war is being fought. In addition, if we go under, the North will impose change on us. Far better that we impose change on ourselves, with a solution that is one of our own devising."

Lee turned towards the other officer sitting next to him. "What do you think, General Longstreet?" he asked.

James Longstreet took out of his mouth a cigar, which he had been smoking as the meeting progressed. So that's James Longstreet, Scarlett thought. Lee's Warhorse.

"General, I have read Rawlings' paper," Longstreet said. "And I have to say that I do agree with his analysis, as well as his conclusions. You, yourself, well know that the only reason we were able to withdraw in good order after Cacotin Mountain despite our losses was because we had savaged the Army of the Potomac at least as badly as we had been savaged. And a great deal of that was due not only to General Rawlings' defence of his position but also to General Stuart finding out that McClellan had managed to wring out of old Abe another two corps worth of troops, this enabling us to modify out plans sufficiently to stave off disaster. By offering freedom to the Negroes in exchange for their taking up arms for the Confederacy, we help to alleviate our manpower problems and we remove from the Yankees a potential weapon they could use against us, both on the battlefield and overseas."

"I would like to add that those Negroes who were serving my units in an auxiliary role distinguished themselves most gallantly at Sloane Farm when they took up the weapons of the fallen," Rawlings said. "Those men are still under arms and their white comrades have said that they have no objection to seeing them formally join their units as infantry soldiers. In fact, I have heard that one of the Georgia regiments has suggested that any wounded men being sent to their home counties on furlough should start recruiting Negroes in their home towns into their regiments, and that they would be glad of the assistance."

Lee sat back in his chair and thought for a moment. "So, General Longstreet," he said. "You believe that we should support General Rawlings' proposal." It was not asked as a question.

Longstreet nodded. "I do," he said.

Lee turned to Jackson. "General Jackson?"

Jackson looked at Lee. "We are in desperate times, General," he said. "We need men in the ranks if we are to win our independence. Although I have some concerns over what this will do to our society as a whole, I have to acknowledge that General Rawlings is right in his conclusion that our society, for better or worse, is changing. I agree with General Longstreet."

Lee turned to the third general in the room. "General Stuart?"

James Ewell Brown Stuart, better known as "Jeb", took a deep breath. "I believe that we have no choice, General Lee," he said. "We have to do something to stave off defeat. So I support General Rawlings' position, and am prepared to sign my name to it as a sign of that support." He looked at the other three. "I believe that the other senior officers of this army should also sign their names to the paper, and that the commanding general of this army take the paper and present it to President Davis as the considered opinion of the army's command."

Lee thought for a moment, and then nodded. "Very good points, General Stuart," he said. He turned to one of his aides. "Colonel Marshall, can you please bring me a pen and inkwell?" he asked. He turned to Rawlings. "General, you have made your case," he said. "We must do something to alleviate our manpower problems, and I agree that this is the best way we can solve them. I will sign your paper, and request that the other senior commanders of this army sign also. I will not make it an order: any man who feels that he is unable to sign will not be forced to do so. But I do hope that the corps commanders will affix their signatures next to mine." Both Longstreet and Jackson made assenting noises, while Stuart simply grinned.


Scarlett found herself drifting in the stream of Rawlings' psyche. Most interesting, she thought. Does this mean that they emancipated their slaves in 1863? And what does this have to do with his being here? She gnawed on that thought as she browsed through the various images flickering on their screens. Finally, she was drawn to one that felt somewhat different from all the others, as though it was saying Look here! She dived into the image.

She found herself in what was clearly an office of some kind. Outside the window that lit the room she could see several buildings, which indicated that this was located in some city. But where?

At one end of the room was a desk. Seated behind the desk was Robert E. Lee, He was looking at some papers in a cardboard folder, and was wearing a frown. He was also wearing a different uniform, more like what Rawlings and Longstreet had been wearing in the previous vision. Slowly, Scarlett realised that Lee was wearing the full uniform of a Confederate general, and that this was his office in Richmond. So the war is probably over, Scarlett thought, and most likely they did gain their independence. But why am I here?

The door to Lee's office opened, and Charles Marshall, now a colonel, entered the room. "General Rawlings is here to see you sir, as ordered," Marshall said.

Lee looked over the frames of his spectacles. "Thank you, Colonel," he said. "Please show General Rawlings in, and make sure that we are not disturbed." Marshall nodded and exited the room, returning a moment later with Rawlings in tow.

Rawlings was also wearing the full uniform of a Confederate general. He had wrapped around his waist a buff-coloured silk sash with bullion ends, a general officer's dress sword belt and the dress sword of a general. He carried a cocked hat under his arm.

Lee removed his spectacles and looked past Rawlings as he stood at attention. "Thank you, Colonel," he said. "Please make sure that we are undisturbed." Marshall nodded and closed the door behind him.

Lee indicated a chair in front of the desk. "Please sit down, General," he said. Rawlings sat in the offered chair, making sure that his sword did not get in the way. "I know that you are wondering at my recalling you to service," he said. "The matter that resulted in your recall is, shall we say, an unusual one. It also is a matter which touches on you personally."

Rawlings raised an eyebrow at that statement. "It does? Forgive me for saying so, General, but I am not aware of anything touching on me personally that could result in my recall to duty."

Lee stood up. "I am not surprised, General," Lee said. "This matter is one that has been kept very secret by the Confederate Government." He walked around the desk and, sat on its edge. "Sometime after we promulgated our own Emancipation Proclamation, the Confederate Government was approached in secret by a group of men. These men, all with accents from the Cotton States, offered to help us win our independence from the North. They proposed to do this by supplying us with weapons the like of which no gunsmith had ever seen. Weapons that made even the Spencer repeaters the Union cavalry had look primitive by comparison. To prove that this was no brag, they sent examples to General Gorgas at the Richmond Armoury, who tested them and pronounced them superior to anything he had ever seen.

"By that time we had started to recruit Negro soldiers into the Army, initially taking them into depleted regiments that had been raised in their own counties, and ultimately recruiting them into separate coloured regiments commanded by white officers, much as the Union had been doing with their own coloured troops. This you know. What you don't know was that these strangers tried to blackmail us into reversing our policy by threatening to withhold their aid from us. President Davis, who does not take too kindly to being threatened, had them thrown out of his office on Shockoe Hill. We never heard any more about these men, until recently."

Rawlings nodded. "This is the first I have heard of any of this, General," he said. "But then, I suppose I could be forgiven this, as I have been busy since the end of the War reorganising my family properties. But may I ask where all of this is going?"

"Recently, we were given some intelligence that these individuals were planning a strike against our government, with the aim of overthrowing it and substituting one of their own devising," Lee said. "Fortunately the average intelligence of these individuals is not too great, else with their weaponry we would indeed be in serious trouble. In any event, we were able to track these individuals to a property in Mississippi, one which the absentee owner's managers had arranged to lease out on his behalf."

He took a breath. "That property, General, is called 'Belvior', and you are the absentee owner."

Rawlings shot to his feet. "General, I had no idea..." he began.

Lee waived him down. "I am aware of this, General," he said. "Fortunately one of your managers is a former officer. He has been keeping an eye on these individuals for the government, and it was he who alerted us to their plans. As for why he did not inform you of what was happening... I must admit that the fault in this matter is mine. However, I claim in my defence that this not only kept you isolated from this affair, and thus ensured that you would not be tainted by what these men were planning, but it also ensured that this secret was kept very quiet indeed."

Lee leaned forward towards Rawlings. "The only reasons you are now being informed of this affair is that we are now ready to move against this nest of serpents. This being the case, I wish to offer you command of the force that has been assembled. I have chosen you not only because you deserve a chance to personally attend to this matter involving your own honour, but also because I recall the divisional commander who managed to see off three Federal corps at Cacotin Mountain and who took over General Jackson's command when he was incapacitated as a result of his wounds at Chancellorsville. I believe quite firmly that he is perhaps the best man for this mission.

"So, General. Do you accept?"


Scarlett found herself again drifting in the stream.

This time she had a lot to think about. Men offering help with advanced weapons, she thought. Could they have come from our own reality? And could they be white supremacists? She looked at the images until she saw one that was of battle. However, this one differed from the others: instead of large-scale fighting, this one was centred on small-unit engagements, and looked to be taking place in a cave system. She steeled herself, and entered.

Immediately she found herself in a nightmare of blood and death. Everywhere she looked she saw men either screaming in agony, shouting out commands or lying still with that lack of movement that indicated that life had fled their shattered forms. Looking closer she saw that several of them were wearing camouflage-type uniforms, and had been equipped with what looked like assault rifles. She could also see that many of them had been literally blown to pieces.

She also saw several bodies dressed in Confederate grey. There were many more of them than there were of the men in camouflage. Looking closer she saw that there were blacks as well as whites lying there.

She also saw live soldiers of both races loading and shooting as quickly as they could, while taking cover behind rock formations in the cave, which was lit by lanterns and torches. She could also see that the slope was in favour of the Confederates, and that they were taking advantage of this by setting alight fused twelve-pounder Napoleon artillery shells and rolling them down the slope at the defenders, using the resultant explosions as cover to advance further into the cave and engage the defenders in hand-to-hand combat.

She also saw, again behind cover, wounded men being operated on by doctors and their assistants. Again, there were more wounded men in Confederate uniforms than there were of the others. The wounded men wearing camouflage had been placed in a separate area of the cave and were being guarded by men who looked at them with death in their eyes.

A commotion was heard further up the cave. Looking in that direction she could see Rawlings, dressed in the field uniform of a Confederate general, come down the passageway, a sizeable escort guarding him. Next to him was a staff officer, who looked extremely agitated that his commanding officer was risking himself in this situation.

Rawlings strode up to a colonel. "What is the situation, Colonel?" he asked.

The colonel turned and visibly stopped himself from saluting. "We've got these snakes holed up down there," he said, pointing in the direction of the fighting. "However, they seem to be getting reinforcements somehow. We have been advancing, but even with the spherical case shot it has been..." He was interrupted by a sudden crescendo of shooting coming from the direction of the depths of the cave, which suddenly died out.

Rawlings looked around. "What's happening?" he called out. For a minute there was no reply. Then, coming up the slope at a dead trot, came an infantry private.

He halted when he saw Rawlings. "General, sir," he said, saluting.

Rawlings returned the salute. "What is it, Private?" he asked.

"Oh, General, am I glad to have found you, sir," said the private. "Somethin's happened that we figger only you could deal with."

"Have the outlaws surrendered?" Rawlings asked.

"Just a few minutes ago, sir," said the private. "The strange thing is, they started takin' fire from behind them, or so it seemed. Then, they's stopped shootin' and next thing we know is there's some kind of Yankee officer down there askin' who we wuz and not believin' whut we told him. Said he wanted to see who was in charge."

Rawlings frowned. If the United States had discovered what was happening here, the consequences for the Confederacy could be enormous. "So where is this Yankee officer?" he asked.

"He's a'waitin' you right on our front line, sir," the private said. "You want us to bring him up this way?"

Rawlings thought for a moment, and then nodded. "Bring him up," he said. "Make sure that he's well guarded and is treated with the respect his rank deserves." The private saluted and then ran back down the slope.

"Sir, this could be a ruse of some kind," said the colonel. "I mean, a Yankee down here?"

Rawlings shrugged. "It could be, Colonel," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?" The colonel was not happy with the situation, but could not express his disapproval any more forcefully.

After a while they heard the sounds of a large party of men coming up the passageway. Before long a squad of men led by a second lieutenant came out of the cave's gloom. Over his shoulder was slung a short assault rifle of a different type to that used by the other men. Around his waist was a webbing belt with a holstered pistol attached to it.

In the centre of them was a large man who was wearing a camouflage uniform of a different pattern to that worn by the others and body armour. On his head he had a kevlar helmet that had on it a matching helmet cover. On his uniform could be seen cloth patches, one with the legend "US ARMY" and another with his name, "MAJORS, WJ." On his collar were patches that indicated that his rank was colonel, as did the patch on the front of his helmet cover.

The second lieutenant halted his party and, moving in front of Rawlings, saluted. "Sir," he said, "this gentleman wanted to see the man in charge. Captain Johnson sent a runner to you who came back with instructions to bring him up here I have however, taken possession of his weapons before bringing him to you." It was quite clear that the youngster was not taking any chances.

Throughout the exchange the large man was carefully examining the scene in front of him. His eyes widened when he saw the surgeons at work on the wounded men, then went carefully neutral.

Rawlings stepped in front of the man. The man looked at Rawlings, and noted the look in his eyes. "So you claim to be an officer of the United States Army?" Rawlings asked. Indicating the uniform the large man was wearing, he continued: "This certainly does not resemble any US uniform I am familiar with, and I ought to know: I spent several years wearing it and, more recently, fighting men who wore it. This looks more like what those serpents over there are wearing." He indicated the prisoners.

The man looked over to where Rawlings had pointed. "I can understand your reluctance, sir," he said. "I have to admit that I myself was somewhat surprised to be encountering what appear to be Confederate soldiers in a white supremacist stronghold in the backblocks of Mississippi."

"Mississippi, yes," Rawlings said. "How can we be certain that you are not more of those serpents over there, and that this is not a ruse?"

"I see that some of your men need medical help," said the man. "If you like I can have some of our medics come here and lend whatever assistance your wounded may need." He looked Rawlings straight in the eye. After a moment, Rawlings nodded.

"Lieutenant," he said, "take the colonel back to... No, wait. The colonel and I will go over to his lines and arrange for his medical personnel to help with treating the wounded." The Confederate colonel looked as though he wanted to object, but said nothing.

The man held out his hand. "Sir," he said, "I am Colonel William J. Majors, of the Special Operations Forces of the United States Army."

Rawlings took the offered hand. "Richard John Rawlings the Second, Major-General, Confederate States Army," he said.


Once more Scarlett found herself drifting in the stream of Rawlings psyche. This time, however, she found that she had a great deal to think about.

So he was fighting against white supremacists from our reality in his, she thought. And he encountered members of our US Army during that fight. Does this mean that the Government knows he is here? And if so, why is he here? Is there some kind of supremacist cell in the Lawndale area that he's tracking for our government? Or is he here for some other purpose?

In an attempt to answer some of these questions she selected one image that looked promising and entered it.


She once again found herself in an ornate room. This time, however, it was quite clearly serving as an office. Outside the window she could see ornate houses.

The room was occupied. Seated in front of the large desk that dominated the room were Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, Stuart and Rawlings. Seated next to Lee was a thin man with a chin beard and a small moustache, which gave his face a fox-like appearance. He was wearing the uniform of a Confederate general. Next to him sat a thin cadaverous-looking man, and next to him was a large, solidly-built man with black hair and beard. Both men were dressed in civilian clothes.

A pair of names came to Scarlett: General Joseph E. Johnston. Secretary of War James A. Seddon.

Behind the desk sat a tall, thin man, dressed in civilian clothes and wearing a grey chin beard. He looked somewhat dyspeptic, and on closer examination was almost blind in one eye. He was listening to Rawlings give a report on the action he had fought against the white supremacists.

"The cave system is, according to both our savants and those from that other version of reality, some kind of a gateway connecting our two worlds, Mister President," Rawlings was saying. "Interrogation of the prisoners by both ourselves and the officers of that world's version of the United Stares military has revealed that these 'white supremacists' had initially thought that they had travelled back in time. It was when they found out that our world, for want of a better term, had deviated from what they knew of their own past that the more intelligent of them realised what they had stumbled upon. They then decided that they would 'help' us gain our independence bu equipping us with weapons that were far in advance of our own, yet would be easily maintained by us."

"These are the 'AK-47s' that they were talking about?" President Jefferson Davis said.

"Yes, Mister President," replied Rawlings. "However, what pushed them to try and overthrow our government and set up one more to their own liking was our emancipation of the Negroes in order to reinforce our ranks during the War. It is apparent that many of them simply hate Negroes and, if they had succeeded, would have imposed a tyranny on our nation that would have made subjugation by the North look preferable. They were influenced in their thinking by someone in the past of their own world, a fellow called Hitler, who had attempted to conquer the world and exterminate anybody who either disagreed with his ideas or who he though racially inferior. Although he had attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe," Rawlings continued, looking at the solidly-built civilian, "it is almost certain that they would have not only reduced the Negroes to a form of servitude that many of us would have found revolting, they would have started to exterminate them along the lines laid down by this Hitler." His distaste was evident, and was quite clearly shared by the others in the room.

"I think that we all owe the good Lord many prayers of thanks that we were able to prevent this evil from taking root here, Mister President," said the solidly-built civilian. "I say this as a citizen of the Confederate States as well as a member of a community that, according to General Rawlings' account, would have also been targeted for extermination." He looked at Rawlings. "I am correct in this assumption, General?" he said.

Rawlings nodded. "Quite correct, Mister Secretary," he said. "The Jews would also have been targeted. So would our political leadership. I have never met a more resentful, loathsome group of individuals than this lot, Mister President."

"Then we should all give thanks next time we are at worship, gentlemen," Davis said. "However, this does not solve the problem raised by the contact with that other world." He looked at Rawlings. "According to your written report it is not only more advanced than our world, it is a world in which the United States managed to conquer us. Can we be certain that they may not attempt to do the same here?"

"I think that threat minimal, Mister President," said the solidly built civilian. "I have been talking to several of their State Department officials who have come here as envoys from their government, and they assure us that the United States of their world has no interest in attempting to extend its influence into ours. Indeed, they are most interested in forging links with us, especially in the realm of trade. Of course the exact mechanism of this will have to be worked out, but they are interested in the rock oil found in Texas."

"Why do they want that stuff?" asked Davis. "Most Texans consider it to be a curse, especially when it seeps to the surface in a spring of water."

"It appears that much of their civilisation is based on products derived from this substance," the solidly built civilian said, "and that they are approaching the point when their own supplies will start to run out. We, on the other hand, have as yet to tap our supplies. They are willing to open negotiations on trade in this substance, and in other materials they may desire."

Davis leaned back in his chair in thought. "I can see several advantages in this trade for our nation," he said. "However, if their appetite for this substance is as great as you suggest, they may take action to secure the resource, which, if it is as important as you suggest, we may well need ourselves some day." He looked at the civilian."Mister Benjamin, what have they offered in exchange for trade with us?"

Judah P. Benjamin, the Secretary of State of the Confederate States, nodded. "I understand what you are saying, Mister President," he said. "They are offering us gold, silver and various goods that we cannot manufacture here ourselves. They are also offering us industrial plants that, although more advanced than what is currently available, would be easy for us to maintain ourselves."

Davis nodded. "A good offer, Mister Secretary," he said. "But what else do we know about their world, apart from what they have told us?"

Lee spoke. "I may have a suggestion that could help us solve this dilemma, Mister President," he said.

Davis looked at Lee. "Go on, General," he said.

"We send selected individuals into their world with the aim of finding out as much about it as they can," Lee said, "even to the extent of living in that world, and becoming accustomed to its ways. By this means we can then pick and choose what we wish, and also learn what mistakes they have made in order that we may learn from them."

Davis sat back in his chair, deep in thought. "General Lee's suggestion is a most excellent one, Mister President," said Benjamin. "May I add that we could also disguise this mission as one of liaison with the government of that United States in searching out mutual threats?"

Davis thought for a bit, and then nodded. "I agree, Mister Secretary, General Lee," he said. "This shall be the course we shall follow." He looked at Lee. "May I assume you have already selected one officer to be in charge of this mission?"

Lee nodded. "I have selected General Rawlings to be in charge, Mister President," Lee said. "I may also add that the government of that United States has already offered to compensate him most generously for the actions of their own citizens on his property, so he would be able to support himself in that world, not to mention the fact that while they had possession of his estate in Mississippi, the outlaws were paying him in gold and counterfeited US Treasury notes, which he has converted into gold."

"Counterfeited US Treasury notes, eh?" Davis said. "And from what you have said, General, quite good ones." His lean, angular face hardened. "And what of the outlaws?"

"They are being dealt with, Mister President," said Benjamin.

"Good," said Davis. He turned to Rawlings. "So, General," he said. "Will you accept this further mission, to explore what to us will be a new world?"

Rawlings smiled. "Mister President," he said. "How could I refuse?"


Again Scarlett found herself drifting in the stream of Rawlings' psyche. This time, she had many of the answers she was seeking.

So he is here to learn as much about our world as he can, she thought. Which makes sense. Which explains why he is following his counterpart's path on the campaign in which he had fought: to see where their world had deviated from the path ours took, and why. But what about his interest in Daria Morgendorffer? Is there a link between her and the woman he loved and lost?

She then noticed that there were two images that positively demanded her attention. She dived into the nearest one.

She found herself in what appeared to be an old graveyard. It was on an isolated plot of land which stood on what appeared to be a large estate of some kind. The graves themselves were marked by time-worn headstones.

She noticed Rawlings standing in front of one. Curious, she drew nearer.

As she drew near she saw that he was staring at the inscription on the headstone. She looked, and gasped.

Carved into the surface was the inscription: Richard John Rawlings the Second, Colonel, Confederate States Army. Born 23rd of January 1833. Died of Wounds in Pennsylvania, July 5, 1863.

She looked at Rawlings, who stood there, looking at the inscription. Then she heard a voice coming towards them. "Mister Rawlings!" it said. "Mister Rawlings!"

Rawlings turned towards the well dressed and groomed woman who approached him. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said. "I'm afraid I didn't hear you."

The woman smiled. "That's perfectly understandable," she said. "I would like you to come on up to the main house. There are just a couple of papers for you to sign and the property, plus the two neighbouring ones, are yours." She looked at the headstone. "It was quite a tragedy for the family when he died," she said. "But I can tell you that many of the people around here are looking forward to having a Rawlings back at Mount Folly." She looked at Rawlings. "I suppose he's a distant cousin of yours?"

Rawlings nodded. "You could say that," he replied.


My Goddess! thought Scarlett as she drifted in Rawlings' psyche. That must have been one hell of a head trip! To see one's own grave marker, even thought you know it isn't really yours! How did he cope?

The other image was calling her. She dived into it and again found herself in a graveyard. This time, however, it was familiar as the one in which she had seen Emma Harrison being laid to rest in. She looked around and saw Rawlings once more standing in front of a grave marker. Full of trepidation she approached and saw that it was indeed that of Emma Harrison.

Rawlings stood there. In his hand he had a single red rose, and what appeared to be a framed photograph. He stepped forward, knelt and laid both photograph and rose at the base of the headstone. As he knelt he bowed his head in prayer.

Scarlett looked at the photograph. It was one of Rawlings himself and Emma Harrison. He was wearing his old US Army uniform, while she was dressed in her Sunday best. Their faces bore the expressionless look of photographs taken in that period. But it was still possible, from the pose they had taken, to see that they were very much in love.

Rawlings got up off his knees, and wiped his eyes with his hand. He then stepped back from the graveside, turned and walked away. Scarlett stood there, watching him leave. Then, she turned to face the grave.

"I don't know what the connection here is," she said to the photograph. "But, for you sake as well as for his sake and for the sake of someone who looks like you, I'll find out."

With that, she exited the scene and found herself drifting in Rawlings' psyche again. This time, she had pretty much all the information she needed. She concentrated, and exited.


Scarlett gasped and sat bolt upright. Her breathing was erratic and laboured.

Andrea looked at her. "Here," she said. "Drink this." She held out an opened bottle of Ultra Cola.

Scarlett nodded her thanks. She took the bottle and started to drain it. When she had finished she handed the empty bottle to Andrea, who put it into a bag she had with her. Andrea next took out a chocolate bar and, after removing the wrapper, handed it to Scarlett, who took it and started wolfing it down.

"So," said Andrea. "Did you find out anything?"

Scarlett nodded. "Perhaps a little too much," she croaked. She looked at Andrea. "We're swimming in potentially deep waters here," she said. She looked in the direction of the picnicking group. "All of us."

"That does not sound good," replied Andrea. "Not good at all."


Rawlings turned around. He saw that the three girls had finished setting up the picnic area. He walked slowly over and stood at the edge of the rugs. "I see things are ready," he said.

Jane nodded. "You sit down there," she said. "Daria will sit here," she continued, indicating a spot opposite Rawlings, "Quinn will sit there and I will sit here."

Daria shot Jane a look but said nothing as she sat down. Much to her surprise she found herself taking up a quite feminine pose. This did not go unnoticed by either Quinn or Jane. Wisely, they forbore to comment on Daria's seating posture.

Jane indicated the assorted food items. "Dig in, everyone," she said. "I don't want to see an empty plate." She reached over and grabbed a couple of sandwiches and some salad.

Daria simply shook her head. She did, however, obey Jane's injunction. The rest of the time was spent in eating and in light conversation.

Afterwards, as they were cleaning up the remains of the picnic lunch, Rawlings said, "That was very nice, Jane. This was a most excellent lunch, and a most excellent notion."

Jane smiled. "Why, thank you, Richard!" she said. "But I didn't do this all by myself. Quinn helped a great deal." Quinn blushed slightly and bent her head down.

"My God!" said Daria. "Quinn embarrassed by praise? Either check for implants, or see if the Four Horsemen are on their way." She sad this, however, in a jocular tone.

"Well, now that lunch is out of the way, what next?" asked Rawlings.

"Well, I'm going to sit over there and do some sketching," Jane said, "and I believe that Quinn has brought some of her needlework. As for you; well, that's entirely up to you."

Rawlings stretched. "Well, it seems like I'll be taking a little nap," he said. "I'll probably steal some of those cushions, if you don't mind. But first, I'll go over and use the facilities." He got up and headed over to the nearest amenities block.

Jane turned to Daria. "You could offer him to use your lap as a pillow," she quietly said.

Daria shot her a glare. "I hate you," she said.

"Come on, Daria!" said Quinn. "He can only refuse your offer. Besides, it's a good chance to get closer to him."

"It's also a good chance for my complete and utter humiliation," Daria responded.

Jane looked at her best friend. "Besides, think just how good it'll feel, with his head in your lap, and you gently stroking his hair," she said.

Daria was about to say something when Rawlings returned. "Anything interesting happen while I was occupied?" he asked.

"Nothing," Jane said. "Only that Daria's thinking of offering her lap for you to use as a pillow."

"Jane!" hissed Daria. Rawlings stopped and looked from Daria to Jane and back again.

"Well..." he began. He stopped, hesitated, and then casually said. "If she has no objections, I'll accept her offer."

Daria blushed but said nothing as she took a cushion and braced it against the tree they were under. She then leaned back against the tree and indicated her lap. "When you're ready," she said, blushing still.

Rawlings gave Daria a measuring look, but then shrugged and lay down on the rug, his head in Daria's lap. Jane grinned at the sight as he closed his eyes. "Don't say a word, Lane," she said quietly. As Rawlings breathing grew progressively slower she, at first hesitantly, began to lightly brush his hair.

Jane grinned and, taking out her sketchpad, began to sketch the scene in front of her. Daria glared at her, but she did not stop stroking Rawlings' hair. She looked down at the slumbering man and a small smile, combined with a look of tenderness, came across her features.

Jane looked up from her sketching and saw Quinn looking at the scene. Quinn looked at Jane and gave a surreptitious "thumbs up." Jane grinned back and resumed sketching, while Quinn resumed her blackwork.

Daria paid no attention to Jane or Quinn. She sat there, enjoying every moment she had Rawlings' head in her lap. He looks so peaceful, she thought, just lying there sleeping.

A shadow came across her face. I wish that this moment could go on forever, she thought. But he'll soon leave Lawndale, and most likely be out of my life for good. Although he did say something about coming up to Boston to do some further studies. She slowly shook her head. But that's a slender thread to hang any hopes on. Just sit here and enjoy the moment. Then, when he's gone, you'll have a memory to treasure when you're old, alone and going senile in the old folks' home.

So she just sat there, and gently stroked his hair.


"So, you're saying that he's here to learn as much about our world as he can," Andrea said. "Doesn't sound too dangerous."

"It's the possible government connection that worries me," Scarlett replied. "If they find out that we know who he is and what he's doing here..."

"Or, worse yet, they work out just how we found out..." interrupted Andrea. She made a face at the thought of what could happen. "You, me and Roger disappear into some Government program where they try and find out how we do what we do and why it works. Not a happy thought. But that still leaves the question of what do we tell Jane? And how do we break the news to Daria Morgendorffer, cynic and rationalist extraordinare, that the man she's falling for is not from this world?"

Scarlett made a face. "I'm not looking forward to that conversation," she said. "Nor about supplying the proof she's going to demand. I might just have to leave her alone with Roger in a room and let him convince her that we're not delusional. Or making it all up."

"Not a particularly good option," Andrea said. "But we may have no choice in the matter."

"And how do you think I feel about the whole thing?" demanded Roger. "After all, to her I'm just a mouse that had been scheduled to be used in an experiment. Until that ditsy blonde thing got a hold of me and handed me over to her psychotic kid brother!"

"Well, we have to do something to convince her!" said Scarlett. She gently patted her pocket. "Sorry, Roger," she said, "but you're the best way we have of convincing her."

Roger was silent for a moment. Then he said, "Ah, hell! I suppose I'll have to do it, then! But what about him?"

"Pardon?" said Scarlett.

"What about this Confederate general from another reality?" asked Roger. "How do you think he's going to react when he is confronted?"

"I honestly do not know," Scarlett said. "But he's not violent. I suppose that comes from having seen so much violence and death in his life. So we'll deal with that when we come to it."

For a moment Roger said nothing. Then he said, "I suppose that's the best we can do."

"So, when do we tell Jane?" asked Andrea. "They're right over there."

Scarlett turned her head in the direction of the picnickers. "Looks like she's sketching. Daria's sister is working on something and... what is Daria doing?"

Andrea peered over. Then she grinned. "Looks like our Southern gentleman has his head resting in her lap," she said, "and she's gently stroking his hair. I think he's asleep."

Scarlett thought for a moment, and then said, "I think we go and tell Jane now. But not in their company, otherwise things will get even more confused than they are now."

"So how do we get her alone?" asked Andrea.

"I suppose the best thing may well be to brazen this out and have Jane come off to one side so we could speak to her," Scarlett said. "Or we could tell her this evening over the telephone."

Just then they saw a silver Aston Martin drive up into the parking area. It pulled in next to Rawlings' Mercedes Benz. The driver's side door opened, and Tom Sloane got out.

"Hmmm," said Andrea. "Things have just gotten interesting."


"Well, well, well!" said Jane. "Look who has just turned up."

Quinn had looked up at the sound of the arriving car. Her eyes widened when she saw who got out. "Tom Sloane?" she said.

Tom walked over to the group. "Hi Jane, Quinn, Daria," he said. "Do you mind if I sit down?"

Jane looked over at Daria, who, very carefully, shrugged. "I don't mind," she said, and then smirked wickedly in his direction. "Much."

Jane looked at Tom. "Sure, sit down," she said.

Tom nodded and took a spot next to Quinn. His eyes widened as he took in the scene of Daria with Rawlings' head resting in her lap. "Does this mean what I think it may mean?" he quietly asked, a slight grin splitting his face.

Daria glared at Tom. "I can arrange for you to be buried in Elsie's ball gown, Tom," she said. If she had hoped that her threat would quell Tom Sloane's grin she was destined to be disappointed, as Tom's grin grew bigger.

"So what brings you up here, Tommy boy?" asked Jane. In reply Tom reached into a pocket of his cargo pants and drew out an envelope.

"This does," he said. "My mother instructed me to deliver this in person to our Virginian aristocrat. It's an invitation to dinner at the Cove tomorrow night." He handed the envelope to Jane. "I knew he was staying with you, so I stopped by there first. Imagine my amazement when I saw that Trent was wide awake. He told me that you were heading up here, so I came and saw you parked here." He looked at Jane. "Tell me: how come Trent isn't comatose?"

Jane gave Tom a wicked grin. "You could blame Richard for that," she said. "Or at least that lethal concoction he calls coffee." She looked at Daria. "Have you actually seen how he makes it?" she asked.

Daria nodded. "It's disgustingly simple," she said. "All he does is put the grounds into the coffee pot and boil them in water. Then he allows the coffee to steep on the stove." She shot the sleeping man a look of exasperated affection. "How he drinks it I'll never know: we have to dilute it before we can drink it. And even then it's potent." Throughout all of this she did not stop gently stroking Rawlings' hair, a fact not lost on Tom, Jane or Quinn.

"Well," said Tom, "I've carried out my mission. The details are in the invitation." He got up. "I suppose I'll be seeing you around Lawndale." They said their goodbyes and Tom went back to his car, got into it and drove off.

After he had left Jane turned to Daria. "I suppose I should have seen that coming," Jane said. "Kay seemed quite familiar with the story after we told her about why I was at their place with Tom."

Daria nodded. "Well, I don't see any real reason to wake Richard up," she said, still gently stroking his hair. We'll just let him rest here for a while before waking him up." She suddenly let out a big yawn. "In fact, I might take a little nap myself," she said, and settled herself against the tree. "Don't say a frikkin' word, Lane," she said before she shut her eyes.

"Wasn't about to," said Jane. She looked at Quinn. "Although I could say that this is the first time she has slept with a man," she said sotto voice. Quinn said nothing but smirked in reply.

They both returned to their respective pastimes. Suddenly, Jane looked up and saw Scarlett and Andrea coming towards them. "Quinn," she said, getting up, "just watch the camp, OK?"

Quinn looked at Jane and nodded. "Sure," she said and went back to her needlework. Jane said nothing but walked over to meet the two Wiccans.

"So, I see you got here," she said as she came up to them. "Done whatever it was you were going to do?"

Scarlett nodded. "The fact that he was experiencing some kind of a flashback when he was standing next to that big tree you're under helped," she said.

Jane looked at the pair. "So, spill," she said. "What did you find out?"


Daria dreamt as she napped, with Rawlings' head in her lap.


In her dream she was once again on the foreshore of the Atlantic Ocean. This time, she was wearing the clothes she had bought for Saturday night dinner and had worn to the church service in Franklin that very morning. This is a new twist, she thought.

Suddenly she heard a voice speaking with a New England accent and in a rather familiar alto off to one side. "Yes," it said. "I believe that suits you quite well."

Daria whirled, and felt almost as though she was looking into a mirror. She was staring at an auburn-haired young woman, wearing a woman's day dress of the late 1850s-early 1860s. The colour of the dress and matching jacket was emerald green, similar to the colour of Daria's normal jacket. She also noted that the young woman did not wear glasses, and matched her in height.

And also in build, Daria thought, eying the woman's figure.

"Who are you?" Daria asked.

The young woman gave her a very familiar smirk, one that Daria had often seen in the mirror. "I suppose you could say that I'm a cousin," she replied. "Although we're quite a ways removed, both in time and through a whole slew of people."

"So enough with the mysterious bit already!"said Daria. "Who are you?"

"Why, in some ways, I'm you," said the woman. "But as to my name? I think you know who I am. But just to make it plain: I'm your distant cousin Emma Harrison."

Daria shook her head. Well, this is some weird-ass dream, she thought. Aloud she said. "No, you're not. You are the product of my subconscious projecting into a dream sequence that comment Grandma Barksdale made last night about how much I resembled you."

"That might be the case," Emma said. "But that's not important as to why you are standing on the same foreshore you were in a dream you had Saturday night."

"Oh, this is most definitely a weird-ass dream," Daria said. "And I thought the food we had was fresh, not month-old mystery meat." She looked at Emma. "So, tell me," she said. "Why are we here?"

"Because of this man," Emma said. She pointed behind Daria, who turned and saw a somewhat familiar figure searching for something. Squinting, she forced her eyes to focus on the figure.

"Richard?" she said. "Oh, great. Now my subconscious is toying with me over an infatuation with a man who'll soon be out of my life."

"You may want to believe that," Emma said. "But he is a special man, who deserves a chance at happiness. As do you." She looked at Daria, sorrow in her eyes. "This doesn't mean that it will come easily. I see that there will be a great trial ahead of the both of you. But if you come through it, you and he will have the happiness that the good Lord denied us when we were together."

"What are you going on about?" demanded Daria. "If you are who you claim to be, and are not a figment of my admittedly overactive subconscious, then you are a ghost, or spectre of some kind, and he is a Confederate officer who died the better part of one hundred and thirty years ago. But that's impossible."

"Didn't the Bard once write 'There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy?'" Emma asked. She smirked. "Of course, in a crib you can leave out a bit if it isn't appropriate." She reached out and, taking Daria's hand, placed something in it. "Take this as a token of love lost and love that may, if you have the courage to shake off your rationalist beliefs, not to mention your fears, be won and held. But you must be ready to struggle for it." She stepped back. "Goodbye, Daria," she said. "I can tell you this, though: we will meet again."

Daria looked down at her hand and opened it. In it was a ring, with a true-lover's knot set in emeralds bordered with diamonds.


"Well, that's a new twist to this tale," said Jane. "He's here because the Confederate government of his world are intent on learning as much as they can about ours so that they could avoid our mistakes. But that still doesn't explain the possible connection between him and Daria."

"And things may have just gotten a tad stranger, Jane," said Scarlett. "Daria's just had a visitation in her sleep."

"'Visitation'?" said Jane. "What's a 'visitation'?"

"She just was visited in her dreams by someone who is long dead," Scarlett said quietly. "Someone who is also not of this world."

"What, more of this weird crap?" asked an exasperated Jane. "Who was it?"

Scarlett looked at Jane. "Emma Harrison. But that other world's Emma Harrison."

Jane shot a look skywards. "Oh, great!" she said. "We're getting visits from that world's dead? Fan-frikkin'-tastic!" She looked at Scarlett. "I suppose it's too much to ask you just why she visited Daria? And just who is she?"

"Rawlings' long lost love," replied Scarlett. "And I'm not sure just why she visited Daria in her sleep. But it might just make things a bit easier when we try to convince her about what's going on."

"That is assuming that she believes you and isn't weirded out by you telling her what happened in her dream," Jane said. "Of course, if you do talk to her about her dream she'll claim that she talked in her sleep."

"She does tend towards the rational, doesn't she?" said Andrea, looking at the scene. "Even though she acts irrationally at times." She looked back at Jane. "We're thinking of getting her alone with Roger and having him convince her about what's going on. Most likely after Scarlett tells her about her dream, and possibly about the gateways."

"Basically the same as you did with me," Jane said. "Only, I'd suggest you get her somewhere where she can't accuse you of using hidden mikes and speakers."

"Good point," said Andrea. "But we're still not too sure how we're going to confront our friend over there with the fact that we know who he is and why he's here. We don't know about the connection, and we're pretty sure there is one, between him and Daria."

"Could Daria be linked with this Emma Harrison?" Jane asked. "That might give us a clue as to why there is a link between her and Richard."

"She looks a lot like her," Scarlett said. "That gives us a clue that they are linked in some way through their bloodlines. But it goes beyond that. There is a really deep link between her and Rawlings. It's almost as though what we call fate has some hand in this affair."

"Hmmm," Jane said. "Better not mention that to Daria. She'll dismiss it out of hand." The three of them fell silent as they mulled over how they were going to present their claims to Lawndale's most noted cynic.

"Looks like we'll have to let Roger lay the groundwork for this task," Andrea said. She looked at Scarlett. "I know that the pair of you aren't happy about it, but it looks like our best bet."

"I know," Scarlett said. "But how do we set it up? We can't do this at Jane's house, otherwise she'll accuse us of setting up a stunt at her expense."

"How about overlooking the old quarry?" Jane said. "There's no chance of us being able to set up any speakers or microphones out there. And we somehow get her out there by herself, which could be a tad difficult." Then, her eyes widened. "The library!" she said.

"What?" said Scarlett and Andrea.

"We're doing research, based on what Richard is doing, for a short story that I'll probably wind up illustrating," Jane said. "So we'll be in the library. That could be the perfect place for you to approach her."

"Sounds like a plan," said Andrea. "But when will you be there?"

"Probably tomorrow," Jane said. "I'll call you, if you give me a contact number, to let you know when we'll be there." A shadow crossed her face. "I just realised something," she said.


Jane indicated the rugs. "We'll probably have to let Quinn in on this," she replied. "Which means we'll have to let her talk to Roger." She frowned. "Damn, this just keeps getting more and more complicated."

"So when do you think would be a good time to try and convince the fashion queen?" Andrea asked.

"She's not that self-absorbed any more," Jane said. "But she is Daria's sister, which means that she is very much like Daria in quite a few ways. Although she is more spiritual than Daria, which could help." She looked at Quinn. "And I'd say the best time would be now, while Daria and Richard are napping." She jerked her head in their direction. "So, you game?" she asked.

Andrea and Scarlett looked at one another and shrugged. "Why not?" said Andrea. The three moved over to where Quinn was sitting doing needlework.

Quinn looked up as they approached. Her face showed her surprise when she saw who was with Jane. "Hello," she said. "I think I've seen the pair of you down at the Zen." She looked at Andrea. "You're dating Upchuck, aren't you?" she asked.

"More than dating," Andrea said, showing her ring. As she saw the ring Quinn's eyes grew large.

"I don't know whether to congratulate you or commiserate you," she replied. "I mean, Upchuck!"

"He's not as bad as he makes out to be," said Scarlett. "He and Andrea got together after the formal. They've both been good for one another."

"Well, if you say so," Quinn said, somewhat uncertainly. "Anyway, what brings you here?"

"It's a little hard to explain," Andrea said. "If you could come over here to the table we might be able to tell you."

"Oh?" asked Quinn. "Why not here?"

"Quinn, I'd go with them," said Jane. "I wouldn't be saying this if I didn't think it was important."

Quinn shot a look at Jane, who returned her look with a level gaze. Shrugging, she put down her embroidery, got up and went over to the picnic table."

"Ok, so what's this big important thing you have to tell me about," she asked.

In response, Scarlett reached into her front pocket and took out a small white mouse.

"This is the important thing?" Quinn asked. She jumped when the mouse spoke.

"No," said the white mouse. "But what they have to tell you is."

Quinn looked at the mouse, and then started laughing. "Ok," she said. "This is a joke and Jane's got you to set me up." She looked at Scarlett. "You're throwing your voice, aren't you?" she said.

Scarlett shook her head. "Nor is Andrea," she said. "Roger speaks for himself. If you like we'll both go away from here and leave you with him." The two Goths got up and walked a considerable distance away, leaving Quinn alone with Roger.

"So, do you still think I'm a ventriloquist's dummy?" asked Roger. In response Quinn looked under the table. Finding no hidden speakers or microphones she brought her head back up and looked at Roger very closely. Ever so slowly she reached out and poked him with a finger.

"Hey!" said Roger. "That hurts, you know!" Quinn jumped back.

"So, do you speak?" asked Quinn. "Or am I finally having Daria's nervous breakdown for her?"

Roger shifted and took up a posture that Quinn swore was saying Oh, get real! "And this from the girl who believes in angels?" he distinctly said.

"So, you do speak," Quinn said. "And does this mean that angels are real?"

"You'd be better off asking Scarlett on that one," Roger said. "But that's neither here nor there. What is important concerns you and your sister."

Quinn leant in close. "So what is it?" she asked.


Daria suddenly awoke from her dream with a start. As she did she shifted Rawlings' head, which tumbled off her lap and onto the ground with a thunk!

Rawlings awoke and sat up. He rubbed his head where it had hit the ground and then, turning around, saw Daria looking around in a panicked state. "Daria?" he asked.

The sound of his voice brought her to her senses. "Oh, Richard," she said, leaning against him, something which surprised the pair of them. However, neither was objecting either. "I just had the strangest dream," she said.

"What was it about?" he asked, as he gently held her.

Daria looked up into his face. "I dreamt that I was on a beach near Boston," she said. "I was wearing the clothes we had bought yesterday when suddenly I found myself talking to Emma Harrison." She did not notice Rawlings stiffen slightly at the mention of Emma Harrison.

"Go on," he said quietly. "What happened next?"

"She started talking to me," Daria said. "Told me that I had a chance at something she had missed out on, but also that it would come to me after a great trial." She became aware of her position and, in response, stiffened slightly. Gently, and with some reluctance, the two separated. "Of course," Daria continued, "the whole thing's silly. Just my subconscious playing games with me." She set about straightening herself up.

"I see," said Rawlings. "I take it that what it's using to play games with you is Tess' comment about how much you resembled Emma Harrison?" he asked.

"You could say that," Daria said. That, plus the other thing I have no intention of talking to you about, she thought. "What's the time?" she asked.

Rawlings took out her pocket watch. "About half-past three," he said. He looked around. "I wonder where the others have gone to?" he asked.

Daria looked around. "Jane?" she yelled. "Quinn? Where are you?" In response the two came around from the other side of the tree.

"You didn't have to shout," Jane said. "We were just over here, talking. You two were asleep and so we decided to go over here to let you get your beauty sleep."

"And I need all of that I can get," said Daria. "We'd better be going. It's half-past three and we've all got a big day ahead of us tomorrow." As she spoke she got up and started to pack away the picnic things.

Jane and Quinn exchanged looks and, shrugging, set to helping Daria pack. When Rawlings started to join in Jane shooed him away, telling him that he had dome enough for them already and that this was their way of thanking him. Besides, it does look as though my plot has succeeded, she thought, reflecting not only on what she and Quinn had learned from Scarlett but the scene where Daria had fallen asleep with Rawlings' head in her lap. Rawlings, shrugging, went back to standing beside the tree, looking over the scenery in front of him.

As she was helping pack up Jane saw the stance Rawlings had taken. Quickly she reached over and, grabbing her sketch pad and pencil, rapidly sketched the scene in front of her. It's still going to be a great picture, she thought, even though knowing that he's actually a Confederate general still weirds me out a bit. Daria and Quinn saw Jane sketching and, shrugging, continued packing. Soon they had everything packed away.

Daria turned to Rawlings. "Richard?" she said. Rawlings turned around. "We've finished packing the picnic gear," she said. "Will you please unlock the car?" Rawlings nodded and walked over to key the car open. Then, after they had place the hamper in the trunk, he helped to put the rugs and cushions back in the trunk, closed it and, as soon as everyone was in the car (with Daria again sharing the front with Rawlings), he started the car up and drove off. Soon, they were back in front of Casa Lane.

"I had better get in and start on dinner," Jane said. "Daria, Quinn, do you think you can carry the hamper into the kitchen? I'll clean up the picnic gear when I do the dishes tonight."

"What about the rugs, Jane?" Rawlings asked. "They'll probably need a good beating and an airing before you put them away."

Jane nodded. "But I won't be putting them away," she said. "I think we'll spread them out in the living area now that it's clean. I'd make the room look better."

Rawlings nodded. "I'll go and put them out on the line out back" he said, "and then, if we have something we can beat them with, I'll beat them for a while." He hauled one of the rugs out and started around towards the back of Casa Lane.

"So, Daria," said Jane as she opened the door, "how did your day go?"

Daria shot Jane a glare. "It went quite well, thank you," she said. "As you very well know."

"You seemed to be dangerously close to enjoying yourself, actually," replied Jane. In response

Daria glared at Jane, and then, when Quinn started chuckling, glared at her sister.

"I hate the pair of you," she said. "I just want you both to know that, ok?" She hefted her part of the hamper and, with Jane holding the door open, both Daria and Quinn carried it into the house and through into the kitchen.

After they had put it down Daria said "I'm going upstairs to have a shower and to change into some fresh clothes." She looked at Jane. "When will we be having dinner?"

Jane looked at a clock. "About six," she said. "Or we could order in. I'll talk to Richard about that." Daria nodded and exited the kitchen.

Quinn looked about to make sure that Daria was outside of hearing range. Once she was sure about that she leaned over to Jane. "And are you going to talk to him about that other little matter?" she asked.

"You mean about him being a Confederate general from another world?" Jane said. At Quinn's nod she said, "Not too sure how I'm going to handle that when it comes up."

"Neither am I." Quinn said. "This will require some thought. But I am concerned about how Daria will react once she learns the truth about him. Or, I should say, all the information on him."

"What do you mean?" Jane said. "I think she'll be shocked, and then seriously pissed at him! She is quite severe on people who lie to her, you know."

"Yes, she is," said Quinn. "But Richard hasn't lied to her. He's been quite truthful to her, when you think about it. And to us."

"What do you mean 'hasn't lied to us?'" asked Jane

"I will admit he hasn't told us the full truth," Quinn said. "After all, would you have believed him if he had said, 'Hi! I'm a Confederate general come to learn as much about this world as I can so we can avoid your mistakes'?"

Jane thought about it for a moment and then slowly nodded her head. "Yeah," she said. "I guess I can see your point. But Daria's still gonna be somewhat miffed about the whole affair. I haven't seen her this way about a guy for... well, ever! This makes even her school romance with Tom Sloane look tame by comparison!"

"Speaking of Tom Sloane, are you going to tell him about what we've found out?" Quinn asked.

"From what you were saying earlier he was having some suspicions about Richard when you found that photograph."

Jane thought for a moment and then shook her head. "No, I won't," she said. "So far it's strictly 'need to know' and he doesn't need to know. Even though Kay has invited Richard up to the Cove for dinner."

Quinn thought for a moment and then said "I wonder if Richard's going to ask Daria to accompany him?" She smirked. "It would put a spanner into whatever plan Tom's mother has for the evening."

"Somehow I don't think she does have anything planned," Jane said. "If she did, Elsie would let her know exactly what she thought of it." Both she and Quinn exchanged smirks. "But that still doesn't prepare us on how to handle Daria once she finds out the truth." She looked at the clock. "And I had better start getting dinner ready." She immediately started busying herself around the kitchen.

Quinn looked at Jane and then exited the kitchen, ready to put her blackwork back with the rest of her gear. The sounds of meal preparation came out of the kitchen.


That night, if anyone dreamt anything but pleasant dreams, they kept it to themselves. But everyone got in a good night's sleep.


Breakfast that morning was a fairly relaxed affair. Rawlings had gotten up early (but not as early as he had been rising) and had gotten the morning papers. Jane had gotten up at the same time and had prepared breakfast. It was a fairly simple affair: bacon, soft-boiled eggs, toast fried in the bacon grease and cut into fingers and some sausages. Conversation was light and concentrated on what plans people had for the day.

"I suppose I had best go into Frederick and see if I can access the county records," Rawlings said, placing his cutlery into a clean plate. "As usual, Jane, an excellent breakfast."

"Thanks Richard," Jane said. "And as usual, a kind and gracious acknowledgment of my skills as a culinary artist." She looked at Quinn. "What are you going to do today, Quinn?" she asked.

"Oh, I might move back into the Morgendorffer homestead," Quinn said. "The relatives will be leaving today and, considering that they have been genuinely nice towards one another, I might get some additional work done."

"Well, before you pack up and leave I'd like you to pose for me," Jane said. "Just a simple compositional study. I can add in some of the details later." She turned to Daria. "You going to the library today?" she asked.

Daria nodded. "There were some reference books I couldn't get out on my card," she replied. "Plus I may be lucky and some of the historical society people may decide to come in." Daria looked at Jane. "You?"

"Well, I'll finish cleaning up here and do the preliminary sketch for my painting of Quinn," Jane said. "Then I'll probably head on over to the library and join you there."

"I thought you had enough source materials to do some paintings," Daria said.

"I do, but as you said, we might get lucky and some of the historical society people might turn up," Jane replied. "Besides, there are a few art books I want to look at."

"Well, it appears everyone has their day planned out," Rawlings said. He looked over at the clock. "I had best get moving if I want to be in Franklin by the time the county archives open." He got to his feet.

"You driving in?" asked Jane.

Rawlings shook his head. "I think I'd be better off taking public transport," he replied. "I'll be back later this afternoon," he said. "I'll see you all then," he said and left the kitchen.

Daria followed him with her eyes. So at least one more day of mooing over him, she thought. Should I... No, she thought. I won't do that and besides, what would that make me? Anyway, if I did that it may well make things worse, and he doesn't strike me as being that type of guy. So, just value what little time left you have with him, Morgendorffer. She folded her paper and stood up. "I'll help clear things away, Jane," she said. As she stood up Rawlings came back in.

"Oh, I almost forgot," he said. "I'll have to contact the Sloanes and tell them that I will be taking up their kind offer of dinner up at the cove." He gave Daria a look. "Of course, I'll need someone to come with me so that I can find my way there," he said. "Will you do that, and join us for the meal, Daria?" he asked.

Daria blushed, but simply said, "Yes."

Rawlings beamed. "Then, if you don't mind, Jane," he said, turning to Jane, "I'll use your telephone and call the Sloanes and let them know what the scheme for the evening is." He went back out into the living area.

Daria, by now bright red, turned to where she could see her best friend and her sister quietly snickering. "What?" she asked.


Helen walked into her office. Her assistant, Marianne, was already at work. "Anything new come in?" Helen asked.

"No,' said Marianne. "It seems that you may get a chance to clear some of the workload from off your desk."

"Good," said Helen. "But there's one thing I want you to do for me, first."

Marianne shot Helen a wary look. "What is it?"

"Can you please find the number for me for the Virginia Military Institute?" Helen said. "Something's come up and I want to speak to them about it."

"All right," Marianne said. She went online and soon found the contact number. She wrote it down and handed it to Helen. "Here it is," she said.

Helen took the slip and dialled in the number. After a moment she heard through her phone's handset "Virginia Military Institute. How can we be of assistance?"

Helen put on her 'phone voice. "Hello," she said. "Could I please speak to whoever handles graduate records?"

"Just a minute," the receptionist replied. "Putting you through to Records now." After a few clicks and a short recording of martial music she heard a voice speaking.

"Graduate Records, Captain O'Mara speaking."

"Captain O'Mara This is Helen Morgendorffer from Vitalae, Riordan, Horowitz, Schrecter, Schrecter and Schrecter. We're a law firm based in Lawndale, Maryland."

"What can I do for you, Ms. Morgendorffer?" asked O'Mara.

"I was wondering if you could check up on whether a Richard John Rawlings attended the Institute as a cadet?" Helen asked. "It was some time ago, as the man is currently in his early thirties."

"Just a minute," O'Mara said. After a while he came back "There are quite a few Rawlings on our records," he said. "The family has very close ties with VMI. Which Rawlings was it again?"

"Richard John Rawlings the Third, I believe," Helen replied. "Of Mount Folly, Virginia."

O'Mara fell silent as he accessed the records with the new information Helen had given him. After a moment he replied, "Yes, Ms. Morgendorffer, Richard John Rawlings did attend this institution."

"Would it be possible to get a copy of his records?" asked Helen.

"I'm afraid not, ma'am," said O'Mara. "The records are not released to anybody, only the cadet concerned as a part of his academic transcript. They are considered to be a part of his US Army personnel records if he went into the Army, which I can confirm for you Cadet Lieutenant Rawlings did on graduation."

"I see," Helen said. "Thank you very much for your assistance," she replied.

"Glad to be able to assist you as best we can, ma'am," said O'Mara. He hung up and looked at the computer screen in front of him. After a while he picked up the phone and dialled in a number.

"This is Captain O'Mara in Records," he said to the receptionist who answered his call. "Could you please put me through to the Superintendent? Something urgent has come up that he needs to know about."

On the computer screen in front of him was a flashing line: Superintendent to be informed immediately if an enquiry is made about this person.


Jane pulled into the front of Schloss Morgendorffer. "Good of Trent to let me use his car," she said to Quinn.

"Yeah," Quinn said. "Thanks for dropping me off, Jane," Quinn said as she hauled her gear out of the back. "I know I said that I never wanted to be in the Trentmobile ever again, but this would have just been a little too much to try and lug back from your place."

The front door opened just then. Turning, Quinn saw her father, her two grandmothers and het two aunts come out the door. "Hey, Princess!" Jake said, coming over to where Quinn was standing. "You coming back home?" she asked.

"Yeah, Daddy," Quinn said. "But if anybody starts fighting..."

"Oh, we've learnt our lessons on that score, Quinn dear," said Tess Barksdale. "Besides, Ruth, Rita and I are leaving for home today, and Jake has offered to take us all down to the airport and bus terminus. If you finish putting your stuff inside you can come and see us off."

"Will there be enough room in Daddy's car?" Quinn asked.

"You can come hitch a ride with me," Amy said. "I won't be leaving Lawndale for a couple of days and I can run you back here."

"OK," said Quinn. "Just let me finish saying goodbye to Jane first." She turned around and said "Thanks again for everything, Jane."

"No Problemo," Jane said. "We'll be having a Bad Movie Night tomorrow night, to make up for the one we missed out on. Interested?"

"Hmmm... watching bad movies and hearing my sister and her best friend comment on them..." An evil smirk crossed Quinn's face. "Seeing a certain Southern gentleman coping with the experience... Hey! See if you can get Gone With the Wind and put it on... It may help with a... certain issue?"

"Certain...? Oh!" Jane said. "It could, couldn't it? Well, the movies start at seven. If you're coming, be there."

"OK, Jane," said Quinn. "I'll be there. It could get... interesting." With that, she waved and Jane drove off.

Amy had walked over and picked up one of Quinn's bags. "Sounds like you've made a new friend," she said.

"Yeah," Quinn said.

"What was that about a certain issue?" Amy asked.

"Oh, nothing special," Quinn said.


In an office in Georgetown University a telephone rang. It was picked up by a tall-beautiful Afro-American woman in the uniform of a lieutenant-colonel of the United States Air Force. "Georgetown University ROTC, Lieutenant-Colonel Trainor speaking."

"Hi, Paula," said a male voice on the other end of the line. "This is Kyle Armalin."

"Kyle?" Lieutenant-Colonel Paula Trainor sat upright as she identified the speaker. "I thought you were on some kind of assignment?"

"I am," Armalin said. "Listen, you still got that friend of yours? Amy Barksdale?"

"Yeah," said Trainor. "What's going on, Kyle? Is she in some kind of trouble?"

"No, she's not," Armalin said. "But I think you should give her a heads up that her sister has stirred up something of a hornet's nest asking after someone who's... involved with my assignment."

"Do you superiors know you're giving me this heads up?" asked Trainor.

"Who do you think got me to call you?" asked Armalin.


As she was seeing her mother and her sister off Amy's cell phone rang. "Drat," she said. She fished it out and looked at the screen. "I'd better take it," she said.

"Who is it, dear?" Tess asked.

"It's Paula from the university," Amy responded. "I had better see what she wants." She hit the answer button and put the phone to her ear. "Hi, Paula," she said. "What's up?"

The voice of Paula Trainor came through the speaker. "I think you had better ask what's going down," she said.

Amy frowned and walked away from her family. "What do you mean?" she said.

"You've got a sister who's a lawyer, right?" Trainor asked. "Helen Morgendorffer?"

"Yes, that's her," Amy said. "Why? What's happened?"

"All I know is that she's just stirred up a hornet's nest asking after a guy named Rawlings," Trainor said. "I got a call from a friend of mine who's on some kind of super secret mission and was asked by his superiors to give me a heads up on the situation."

"Rawlings?" Amy said. "The only person I know of that name is a Richard John Rawlings." Her frown grew deeper. "Is he mixed up in some sort of government black ops?" she asked.

"Wouldn't say," replied Trainor. "But apparently your sister called VMI asking about him. They gave her an answer and then called up the Pentagon. My friend then was asked to call me, and he told me to call you. Have you got some sort of clearance I don't know about?"

"That was some time ago, Paula," Amy said. "Sounds like I may have to make a few calls to some of my connections. But Paula," she continued, "this Rawlings looks as though he may get involved with my favourite niece. You know, the one I told you about and showed you the photo of."

"The one at Raft?" Trainor asked. "Your 'clone'? Well, from what I have heard if she gets involved with him her life will not be the same afterwards. It's not his fault, though: it just so happens he's just involved with all sorts of super secret crap."

"Right," said Amy. "Well, I had better go. After I see my mother and sister off I'll be doing a ring around some of my contacts. Thanks for the heads up. Bye." Amy pushed the disconnect button and, still frowning, put her phone in her purse and walked over to where her mother and sister were waiting."

"Something wrong, Amy?" Tess asked.

"Oh, just something has come up," Amy replied. "Nothing too urgent."


At around that time Daria was about to walk into the library when she heard a familiar sound behind her. Turning she saw Jane pull up in the Trentmobile. "So you borrowed Trent's car," Daria said with a smirk. "Talk about taking risks."

"Hey, it works and it helped me to drop off Quinn with all of her gear back at Schloss Morgendorffer," Jane said, getting out of the car. "So, ready for more research on your little project?"

"Don't you mean, 'our little project'?" Daria smirked as they made their way into the library. They looked around and saw that the library was sparsely populated.

"I wonder if any of the historical society people have managed to come in today?" Jane asked.

"Tuesday is when they're supposed to be in," Daria said. "But if they do come in here I'll take full advantage of the opportunity." She walked over to the stacks, heading for the history section while Jane walked over to the art section, all the while keeping an eye out for Scarlett and Andrea. Soon after they had arrived Jane saw Scarlett and Andrea walk into the library.

She hurried over to meet them. "Good!" she said. "You made it!" She looked at Scarlett. "How are you feeling?"

"A little drained," Scarlett said, "but I'm ready." She looked around. "Where is she?"

"She last headed over to the history section," Jane said. "I suppose she's now at her usual spot at the back. Shall we?" They walked through the stacks of books and finally reached where Daria was sitting, reading some reference books and writing notes. As they did so Scarlett chanted a cantrip under her breath that would ensure that they would be uninterrupted.

She looked up as the three approached her. "Hello, Scarlett, Andrea," she said as they sat down at the table. "What brings you here to this corner of the Lawndale netherworld?"

"Not to put too fine a point on it," said Andrea, "you."

This took Daria aback somewhat. "Me?" she asked.

"You. More precisely, you and a certain Southern gentleman you've been seeing recently," said Andrea.

"A certain Southern... Are you referring to Richard?" Daria said. "Because I'm not seeing him. We're just..."

"Good friends?" asked Andrea. "Looked somewhat more than 'good friends' at the Zen the other night. Looked to me that you are quite interested in him."

"And so what if I was interested in him?" asked Daria. "That would be my concern, not yours."

"Daria," said Jane, "they have something to tell you. I think it would be best if you let them tell you."

Daria swung her gaze onto Jane. Jane returned her look with a level gaze. "You've known me for long enough to know that I would not say this sort of thing lightly, Daria," Jane said.

Daria looked at Jane before swinging her gaze back on Scarlett and Andrea. "So, what is this important information you have to tell me?"

"First, some proof that we aren't making up either our information or how we got it," said Scarlett. She reached into her front pocket and drew out what seemed to Daria's gaze an ordinary white mouse. "I believe you know Roger," Scarlet said as she placed the mouse on the desk.

"Isn't that the mouse I gave you after it turned out to be useless for that experiment in science class?" asked Daria.

"Hey!" said the mouse. "You try functioning normally after being abused by some psycho kid!"

At the sound of the mouse's voice, Daria jumped. Then, regaining her composure, she looked at the three young women. "Good one," she said. "Which one of you is the ventriloquist?"

"None of us, Daria," said Jane. "As hard to believe at it may seem, Roger is really a talking mouse."

"Oh?" said Daria?" she looked underneath the desk, but could not see any hidden speakers. Then, she poked the mouse.

"Hey! That hurt!" said the mouse. "What is it with you Morgendorffer sisters? Your kid sister did the same thing yesterday in the park!"

"This is really good," Daria said. "Like I said, which one of you is the ventriloquist?"

"None of us, Daria," Jane said. "If you like we can go to the other side of the library and leave you alone with Roger for a few minutes so he can convince you that he's real."

Daria gave Jane a jaundiced look. "You've hidden the speakers elsewhere, haven't you?" she asked."

"No speakers, Daria," said Jane. "We'll leave you two alone so Roger can fill you in on what Scarlett is, and what we have to tell you." With that, the three got up and walked over to the other side of the building, leaving Daria alone with Roger.

Daria gave Roger a sceptical look, one that she was surprised to realise was being returned by the mouse. Okaay, she thought. Either this is a dream or I'm finally beginning to have that crack-up that will land me in the home for the criminally insane. "So," she said. "You claim to be a talking mouse."

"No 'claim' to it, sister," replied Roger. "I am a talking mouse! Don't ask me how it happened, as that's a long story."

"Ok," said Daria. "So either I believe that you really are a talking mouse, or I'm about to have that nervous breakdown that has been hanging over my head since I was ten years old."

"Interesting choice of words," said Roger. "You sister said she thought she was having your nervous breakdown."

"Ok, this is getting too weird even by my standards," Daria said. "So what is this big news you have to tell me?"


Marianne picked up the telephone in Helen Morgendorffer's office. "Hello, Helen Morgendorffer' office," she said.

"Marianne," said the front desk receptionist, "there are two gentlemen here to see Mrs. Morgendorffer. I've sent them on up and they should be there shortly."

"Anna," Marianne said, "Mrs. Morgendorffer is kinda busy right now. Why did you send them up?"

"It could be the identification cards that tole me they're working for the Federal Government convinced me that I couldn't stonewall them," Anna said. "You had better warn her they're on their way up."

"I see," Marianne said. "Thanks for the warning." As she replaced the handset the outer door to the office opened. Two men in dark suits entered and walked up to the desk.

"Yes, gentlemen? Marianne said. "What can I do for you?"

"We'd like to speak to a Helen Morgendorffer," said one man. He spoke in a New England accent with overtones of being one of New England's patricians. Both he and his partner pulled out Federal IDs.

"I'm sorry, but Mrs. Morgendorffer is rather busy at this time," Marianne said. "Would you like to make an appointment?"

"I'm afraid we have to see her now," said the first man. "We're with the Central Intelligence Agency."

Marianne froze. Before she could say anything Helen came out of her office. "Marianne," she started. She stopped when she saw the two men. "Can I help you gentlemen?" she asked.

"Mrs. Helen Morgendorffer?" said the first man.

"That is my name," Helen said.

"Could we go into your office, Mrs. Morgendorffer?" the man said. "We have some things to discuss with you regarding your inquiry this morning at the Virginia Military Institute about a Richard John Rawlings the Third."

"And who might you be?" Helen asked.

"Our names are not important, Mrs. Morgendorffer," said the first man. "However, you inquiry has touched on a matter appertaining to the security of our nation's interests."

Marianne leaned over. "Mrs. Morgendorffer," she said, "they say they're from the CIA."

The look on Helen's face was priceless.


Helen Morgendorffer sat in her office and thought on her interview with the two men from the CIA.

She had expressed some surprise to find that the Central Intelligence Agency was involved "in what one would assume was a domestic matter rather than one requiring the involvement of the CIA." The agent who spoke with a New England accent had assured her that, although it could be seen as unusual, the case they were involved in had some international connections which required the Agency's involvement.

"But wouldn't the FBI be better equipped to handle something like this?" she had asked.

"Homeland Security decided that it would be best handled by the CIA," said the agent.

The other agent spoke very little, and when he did it was with the refined accents of a Virginian aristocrat. Which is in keeping with what I do know about the CIA and their recruiting policies, she thought. Upper class, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, as a general rule. Between the two of them they conveyed to Helen the information that Rawlings was involved in a project that entailed tracking white supremacist groups that had connections with similar organisations overseas.

"I'm sure you do understand just why the government is a little... wary about inquiries such as the one you made at VMI," said the first agent. "Mr. Rawlings is, shall we say, one of our lead agents in this investigation and we would like him to remain as incognito as he possibly could."

"But why a Virginian aristocrat?" asked Helen. "Especially one who has drawn some attention to himself with his actions."

"Several of his relations fought in the Civil War," the first agent said. "That does give him some credence with the various groups we are investigating." The interview had ended with the agents requesting that Helen cease her enquiries into Rawlings, saying that his activities came under levels of classification that had been introduced with the PATRIOT Acts.

However, there was still something which nagged at Helen. The more she thought about what the two men had told her the more she thought that the explanation was a ruse of some sort covering the real reason that the Government had reacted the way they did. However, she was also aware that the invocation of the PATRIOT and other acts in this case would open herself up to some rather severe repercussions if she continued on her current course. However, there was one avenue of inquiry that was, so far as she was aware, still open to her. So she took her cell phone and punched in a number. After a few rings she heard the phone on the other end pick up.

"Hello," said the voice on the end.

"Amy, this is Helen," Helen said.


Daria sat back in her chair. "So," she said to the three other young women who sat at her table. "You're telling me that Richard is actually a Confederate general from another reality where the South won the Civil War, and that he is here to learn as much about our world as he can, primarily so that they can avoid our mistakes." She shot Scarlett a look. "And you found out all of this by using what could be termed a supernatural ability. So why are you telling me?"

"Because it looks like... no, correct that," Jane said. "You are getting deeply involved with him, and I, for one, do not want to see my amiga hurt in any way."

"But he'll be out of all of our lives soon," replied Daria. "I was only hoping to hang onto these past days as a memory to help me through the inevitable senile dementia in the old folks' home."

"I suppose you could blame me, Daria," said Scarlett. "I saw the pair of you in the mall heading for JJ Jeeters and followed. However, what drew me to him was the sense I got from him of not belonging that poured off him."

"So you decided to investigate," Daria said. "This still doesn't answer one important question: what do we do now? Do we confront him with what we know, especially in the light of a possible government connection?"

"That is one thing that has been worrying me," said Scarlett. "If we confront him and we tell him how we found out... Believe me, I have no desire to wind up as a guinea pig in some secret laboratory somewhere."

"I say we confront him with this," said Jane. "This evening, when he comes back from Frederick, and before... Oh crap!"

"Something wrong, Jane?" asked Andrea.

"Richard got an invitation to go up to the Cove for a dinner this evening with the Sloanes," Jane said. "And he's asked Daria to come along with him." She looked at Daria. "You still going to go along to the dinner?" she asked.

"I don't know, Jane," said Daria. "I really don't know."

They sat for a while in silence when Jane suddenly said, "You could do something that you have never thought you would do."

"Oh?" said Daria. "And what would that be?"

"You could go to Quinn for some advice on the matter," Jane said.

"Ask Quinn for advice?" said Daria. "You didn't take a blow to the head, did you?"

"I mean it, Daria," said Jane. "She knows all about this, by the way. We told her yesterday while you and Richard were napping up in the park. Besides, she knows more about this whole relationship thing than either of us."

"You have a point, I suppose," Daria said. "Has she made any comment on this situation?"

"More of an observation than a comment," Jane said. "She said that Richard has not really lied to any of us. He just did not tell the entire truth, which is understandable given what we now know. I mean, what would we have said if he had told us?"

"We would have thought he was crazy," Daria said. "All right. We go to Quinn and ask her advice. Hopefully we might be able to salvage something from this."


Quinn Morgendorffer was sitting in the basement working on the standing frame when she heard the telephone ring. Sighing she stuck a needle in the surface of her work and raced upstairs to answer the 'phone. "Morgendorffer residence," she said.

"Well, hello Quinn," said a familiar voice on the line.

"Oh, hi, Sandi!" Quinn said. "You back from your trip?"

"Obviously I am," Sandi Griffin said, "or I wouldn't be talking to you over the telephone. Anything interesting happen while I was away?"

"Oh, nothing really interesting, Sandi," Quinn said. "I mean, what sort of interesting stuff happens in a place like Lawndale?"

"Well, I saw something interesting yesterday morning, Quinn," said Sandi. "I saw that geeky loser sister of yours walking across the green with this really hot guy. I thought it was interesting that she managed to get herself a hot guy like that."

"You mean Richard? Oh, Sandi, I wouldn't worry too much about that," said Quinn. "He's much too old for either of us. I think he's in his thirties." Not to mention smart, intelligent, courteous and completely disinterested in a loser bitch queen like you, she thought. You are so not getting your claws into him! Not if I can help it! "Besides, I believe he'll be heading up to Boston in the fall to study there."

"I see, Quinn," said Sandi. "Do you know where he's staying?"

Thinking of trying your luck, eh Sandi? You might lose interest when you find out where he is staying. "I do," Quinn replied. "He's staying with the Lanes. Daria's friend and flatmate offered him a room when they met in the diner on the green. He took it up when he couldn't get a hotel or motel room thanks to the big UFO convention here."

"UFO convention?" asked Sandi. "Gee Quinn, I hope you aren't getting into geeky things like UFO conventions."

"Don't be silly, Sandi! I heard about it when he was over here for dinner the other night," Quinn said. "And, before you ask, it does look like things may be serious between him and Daria." Although if they will remain serious when she finds out the truth about him is going to be the question, Quinn thought.

"I see," said Sandi. "Well, I suppose I'll be seeing you around Lawndale before we all go our separate ways," she said.

You mean while you and Tiffney stay here when Stacy and I go off to Boston, Quinn thought. "Of course I'll see you before we all go our separate ways," said Quinn. "I'll want to hear all about your holiday."

"Well, we'll see what happens," said Sandi. "I'll be seeing you, Quinn."

"And I'll be seeing you, Sandi," Quinn said. She hung up. But you won't be seeing Richard, she thought. Not if I can help it.


"Quinn!" Daria called out as she walked in through the front door at Schloss Morgendorffer.

"I'm here, Daria," Quinn said from the living area. "No need to shout." Daria, Jane, Scarlett and Andrea walked over and sat themselves down in the living room.

Quinn looked over at the other three. "I take it you told her," she said.

Jane nodded. "And we persuaded her to come and ask you for some advice," she replied.

Quinn looked at Daria. "Relationship advice, I take it," she said.

Daria nodded. "Since you've got more experience in handling relationships than I have," she said, "Jane suggested asking you for some advice. Well, I'm asking."

Quinn studied her sister. "First, how do you feel?" she asked.

"About what?" Daria said. "Being told the truth about Richard, or that he hid it from us, or how I feel about him? What?"

Quinn shrugged. "About the whole thing, I suppose," she said. "But, more importantly, how do you feel about Richard.?"

Daria hesitated for a moment before she spoke. "I..." she began. Then she stopped.

The others waited for a while before Quinn said, "Do you like him?"

"Yes," said Daria.

"How much?" asked Quinn. "A little? A lot?"

This time the hesitation was even more pronounced before Daria quietly replied, "A lot."

"Would you like to spend your life with him?" Quinn asked.

This time the hesitation stretched even longer before Daria replied, "Yes. But where? Here, or back in his world where it is the late 1860s and women don't have the vote? Or any other major rights?" She looked at the others. "Lets face it: we are from two completely different worlds, literally. So how would it work out?"

"That would be up to you two," Quinn said. "Because I do believe quite strongly that he feels the same way about you. And I suspect he's probably thinking the same thing: how could this work?"

"Oh, that makes me feel so much better," said Daria. "I suppose he'll probably bash me over the head and drag me into his cave, or do something like that!" Quinn said nothing, but simply gave her sister a look that spoke volumes. After a moment Daria looked down at her boots and said "No, he wouldn't. He's too much of a gentleman."

"You're also forgetting something," said Scarlett. "He's had experience with a young woman who was very much like you."

"You mean Emma Harrison," Daria said. "Grandma Barksdale said that I strongly resemble her.

"You do," said Scarlett. "Both physically and mentally. All the impressions I got of Emma Harrison was that she was very much like you. And I think that's what has attracted him to you. But he's of several minds."

"So he sees me as a substitute for his lost love," Daria said. "Great."

"No, he doesn't," said Scarlett. "Your sister is right: he's become attracted to you as a person in your own right: attractive, intelligent, smart, with a way of looking at things that amuses him greatly. I think he'd love to walk with you down a street in his Richmond and listen to you comment on the people passing by."

"All right," Daria said. "For argument's sake I'll accept what you're saying. But what do you mean he's of several minds?"

"Well, he's very much attracted to you," Scarlett said. "But he's also aware that you two are from two different worlds. Literally. Plus he's also mindful of the reasons he's here in the first place and is concerned about getting you any more involved than you already are. But he's torn between that and his attraction to you."

Daria mulled over what Scarlett had said. Then she said, "I see." She let a rueful smile come over her face. "I suppose that my original idea is probably for the best: just enjoy whatever time I have with him and keep that as a memory to keep me warm in the long, lonely years ahead." She looked at the others. "But that still does not solve our other problem: what do we tell him? Or do we keep quiet and say nothing?"

"Daria," said Jane, "we are going to have to tell him we know about him. Forgive me for saying this, but you are not much of an actress. And he's proven himself to be pretty observant. So he'll know that something's up."

"I have to agree with Jane on that one," Quinn said. "You can hide your emotions pretty good, but you were never all that great at hiding things from Mom." Daria glared at Quinn but noticeably did not contradict her sister's assertion.

"So, what do we do?" she asked. "Do we all sit over at Jane's and wait to confront him? And when we do, will he become violent?"

"Unfortunately that may be the best option," Jane said. "At least Trent will be there. And we could ask Tom to come along for the ride."

"But if we ask Tom, that means that we'd have to tell him just why we want him there," Daria said. "Which will simply add one more to the total who know all about Richard."

"Unfortunately I don't have any better ideas," said Jane. "Besides, he was there when we saw that scar on his left hand in that old photo. Which must have been of his counterpart in our world. Interesting that he has the same scar."

The five young women sat in the living area, mulling over what to do. Finally, Daria said, "Much as I hate to admit it, Jane's suggestion appears to be the only option we have. We all go to Jane's and we wait for Richard to come back. Then, after making sure Trent is in the house and is not comatose, we confront Richard with what we know and we see how things pan out from there." She looked at the others. "Are we agreed?"

Four heads nodded. "Then it's settled," Daria said. "We go to Jane's and wait."


"So you were visited by a couple of guys who said that they were CIA," Amy said to Helen. "And they were asking you to drop your inquiries into Richard Rawlings." She looked thoughtful. "That fits in with what I've been told."

"What were you told, Amy?" Helen asked. The two sisters were sitting in an isolated nook in a restaurant where the town's lawyers often dined with their clients.

"That there was a Government connection, and that you had stirred up a hornet's nest by making enquiries at VMI," Amy said. "I had a friend who had a friend call her call me to give me a heads up on the whole situation." She fixed Helen Morgendorffer with a warning look. "I've been making some inquiries amongst some of my contacts, and they've been telling me the same thing: back off. And they've invoked all sorts of security classifications on this matter as well, breaches of which could cause someone to wind up in a very bad place."

"Guantanamo?" Helen asked.

"Worse," Amy said. "So I'd stop with the enquiries, Helen." She reached out and took Helen by the hand. "I don't want to have to explain to Jake or my nieces why you've disappeared."

"But surely..." Helen started.

"Helen, that's if the courts get involved. Which the Powers That Be tend to be hell and determined doesn't happen," said Amy. "And you wouldn't be the first, either: the general public only know about Padilla because he wound up at Gitmo. So drop it, Helen."

"But my babies are tied up in all of this!" said Helen.

"Both Daria and Quinn are adults now," Amy said, "and Daria's been away from the family home for a couple of years. I think she can look out for herself and Quinn." She shifted in her seat. "If it's any comfort to you, Helen, all of my contacts say that he's a good man and that they wouldn't mind their daughters dating him. Not least because he is as rich as he makes himself out to be. He just doesn't let it affect him."

Helen opened her mouth to respond, and then sighed. "All right, Amy," she said. "I'll take your word for it. But if anything happens to my babies..."

"You'd have to get in line, Helen," Amy replied.


A few minutes later, after Helen Morgendorffer had departed, Amy Barksdale reached into her bag and pulled out her cell 'phone. She dialled in a number and waited for it to ring.

"Hello, Carlos?" she said. "I think I've managed to convince my sister to call off the bloodhounds. Yes, she's aware that she'll be monitored. By the way, whose idea was it to send Agency types to her office? Oh? Well, tell him from me he's still an idiot: I'd have sent FBI or at least made sure that their cover story was FBI. Yes, I know I'm still inactive, but that doesn't stop me from having an opinion. Me? I'll probably stay in Lawndale until he leaves: gives me some time with my family. All right. Be seeing you."

She shut her phone. You never really leave, she thought to herself as she headed over to her car. Now I had better see Daria and Quinn.


Rawlings walked up to the front door of Casa Lane. He saw that the lights in the living area were on. Good, he thought. They're home. He rang the doorbell and was rewarded by Jane Lane opening the front door.

"So, how did you day go?" Jane asked.

"Got some copies of records from the county seat,' Rawlings replied. "Including several property maps of the area plus some accounts of the Army of Northern Virginia's passage through here. Including a mention of my... relative," he said.

"Oh?" Jane raised an eyebrow. "What was he doing?"she asked as she shut the door behind them.

"Seems he was on General Jackson's staff at the time," Rawlings said, " and had come this way not only to look over the path McLaws' division would have to follow but to also scout out provisions. They had been eating green corn all the way up through Northern Virginia and into Maryland, which played havoc on their digestive systems. Gave them a form of dysentery." He walked into the living area. "That's how come..." he began and halted.

Before him sat the other four girls. Scarlett and Andrea sat off to one side on an armchair and a chair brought out from the kitchen. Opposite them Quinn sat on one end of the couch. In front of him, seated on the other armchair, sat Daria.

"What's all this?" Rawlings asked. "Reminds me of a Court of Honour at VMI," he joked. He looked at Daria. "Have I done something wrong?" he asked. "If I have, I apologise for it and would like to repair the matter as soon as possible.

"Richard, we know," Jane said, taking her seat on the couch next to Quinn.

"Know what?" Rawlings asked.

"Know who you are," Jane said. "Major-General Richard John Rawlings the Second, Confederate States Army, and of Mount Folly, Virginia. Commander of a division in Jackson's Command, Army of Northern Virginia at a battle fought not too far from where we stand, but in your world, where you won what we call the Civil War." As Jane spoke the blood rushed from Rawling's face. He schooled his features to a casual neutrality.

"Jane, what are you saying?" he asked. "That I'm a Confederate general?"

"Yes," Jane said. As to how we found out..." She indicated Scarlett.

"I managed to probe your psyche, General Rawlings," Scarlett said. "Especially when you had that recall up on the hill, underneath the large tree. Where you had you command post in that other world."

Rawlings looked at Scarlett, his face carefully neutral. Then, he slowly nodded. "I take it your abilities told you just why I am here?" he asked.

"You don't seem surprised," Quinn said.

Rawlings turned a grim smile on the girls. "When you've seen just what a New Orleans Cajun gris-gris woman is capable of," he said, "and you see just how careful Louisianans are about offending such..." He trailed off. He turned his attention back onto Scarlett. "I take it you have the Gift and Sight?" he asked.

Scarlett nodded. "I know that you're here to learn as much about our world as you can," she said, "and that you're following your counterpart's trail and comparing it with your own. But I also know that you are no threat to any of us."

"Am I not?" Rawlings said. "You realise that you've stumbled across a secret that you own government would be quite annoyed that you've discovered."

"But you won't betray us," Scarlett said with deep conviction.

Rawlings kept looking at Scarlett. Then he sighed. "No, I won't," he said. "But only if you give your word that this goes no further than them people in this room. Believe me," he said with a rather sickly smile, "it would be a good idea if you agreed."

All the girls in the room looked at each other. After a moment, they exchanged nods. "We agree not to tell anybody about who you really are and why you're here," Jane said.

"I'll take your word for it," Rawlings said. "After all, I would like to keep your government's involvement at a bare minimum." He gave a sardonic smile. "To be frank, I'm not all that fond of the people I've been involved with myself. All they see me is a possible resource that they can exploit so that they can get access to my own world's natural resources. Which, I may add," he continued, " we intend to make sure remain firmly under our control, not theirs." He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the doorbell.

"Damn it," muttered Jane. "Who could this be?" She got up and walked over to the front door. "I'll chase them off," she said, "and then we can return to this pleasant afternoon gathering." When she opened the door she was surprised to see Amy Barksdale standing on the doorstep.

"Hi, Jane," Amy said. "Is Daria or Quinn in?"

Jane started to mouth a denial but Amy said, "Jane, if they are here it's important that I talk to them right now," she said.

To Jane's surprise Rawlings spoke. "Let her in, Jane,' he said. "We can trust her." after a moment Jane shrugged and, standing off to one side, let Amy through and shut the door.

Amy walked into the living room and halted at the sight before her. "What the...?" she asked.

Rawlings gave her a small smile. "I suppose I had best go and get another chair,' he said and went into the kitchen.


"So, you had something to say to Daria and Quinn," Jane said as Amy seated herself next to Daria and Quinn.

Amy looked at Jane and then at the others. "Somehow I suspect what I was going to say to Daria and Quinn is a bit redundant," she dryly said. "So what is all this about?"

Rawlings looked at Amy Barksdale. "Somehow I suspect that you have something in your past to hide," he said. "Something involving work for your government."

"It's your government as well, Mister Rawlings," Amy said. "Or are you some secret neo-Confederate?"

Rawlings let out a dry chuckle. "You got half of that right, Miss Barksdale," he said.

Quinn turned to Amy. "Amy," she said. "I know this is going to be hard to believe, but Richard is a Confederate General from another world where it's still..." She looked at Rawlings. "Just what year is it where you come from?" she asked.

"1868," Rawlings said. "The war ended in 1864."

Quinn nodded and turned to Amy. "He's here to learn as much about our world as he can," she said. "Mainly to avoid our mistakes, but also to help keep his world safe."

Amy's jaw had almost fallen off her face. After a moment she regained control of her vocal cords. "So that's why the government pitched a fit when Helen started making enquiries at VMI," she said.

This started all of the girls. "Excuse me?" said Daria.

Amy turned to face Daria. "Daria," she said, "anybody with eyes can see that you've been growing attached to Richard here. And Helen, even though she lets her career interfere with her family life, does care about you. Both of you," she continued, facing Quinn. "So, she started making some enquiries, which she thought she could keep discreet, at VMI about Richard, and touched off one hell of a row in certain Government circles I have some... connections with."

Daria frowned. "Do you mean the CIA?" she asked. "Or some other agency?"

Amy looked at Daria. "Please believe me when I say I really can't tell you," she said. She looked at Rawlings. "You don't seem all that surprised," she said.

"Miss Barksdale," Rawlings said, "your name was given to me as a possible contact at Georgetown University, should I need such. As was your friend and colleague, Lieutenant-Colonel Paula Trainor." He gave Amy a look. "How much do you know?"

"Only what I've been told so far," Amy said. "But I was given a heads-up to try and head my sister off before she stirred up any further hornets' nests. I think I've succeeded." She looked at her nieces. "Which is what I wanted to tell you about," Amy said. "That Richard here had some kind of Government connection that I couldn't say much about. Bit that my sources also told me that he is a good man." She looked at Rawlings. "So, just who are you?" she asked.

"Major General Richard John Rawlings the Second," Rawlings replied. "Confederate States Army, on detached service." He gave a small smile. "And, as the girls here have discovered, here to learn as much about your world as I can." His smile grew bigger. "Best if we leave aside just how they found out,' he said. "It could have some nasty ramifications."

"I bet it would," Amy said. She shifted on her seat. "I believe I may have interrupted something when I walked in here," she said.

Rawlings gave a sardonic grin. "My defence, as it were, before this Court of Honour," he said. He turned to address the others, but kept much of his attention on Daria. "I hope you can understand just why I didn't inform you all about who I am and where I came from," he said. "After all, if I had told you the truth, would you have believed me with out any evidence? Anyway, I never told you any lies either: just not all of the truth."

"What about that 'relative' thing?" Quinn asked. "Couldn't that be considered a lie?"

Rawlings faced Quinn. "It could be," he said. "But I consider that other Richard John Rawlings a cousin of sorts, and that I come from, shall we say, a distant branch of the family." He again gave a small smile. "It makes things easier."

"So I see," said Amy. She looked at Daria who, except for her brief exchange with Amy, hadn't said a word throughout the proceedings. She just simply sat in the armchair, looking at Rawlings with her usual deadpan expression. "Do you have anything to say, Daria?" she asked.

For a moment, Daria just sat there. Then she said, "What do you think of me?"

For a moment, nobody said anything. Then Rawlings said, "Pardon me?"

"What do you think of me?" Daria said. "Simple question. Do you see me as a friend, or as something else. Or should I say someone else?"

Rawlings looked at Daria. For a moment he said nothing. Then he drew in a breath. "That is a very loaded set of questions, Daria," he said. "And I'm not too sure about how I should go about answering them."

"But you are going to answer them," Daria said. "Aren't you?"

Rawlings nodded. "I definitely see you as a... friend, at the least," he said. "As for something else... I would have to say I do. But what... Well, I'm still cyphering out that little problem myself.

"As for someone else... Well, I'd be lying, to myself as well as to you, if I didn't say that you strongly remind me of Emma Harrison."

"Your lost love," Daria said.

"Yes," Rawlings replied. "But I've come to value you for yourself, Daria. As Daria Morgendorffer, an intelligent, smart, forthright and, if I may say so, a rather attractive young lady." All in the room heard the emphasis he put on the last word. "But I do not, in any way, see you as a substitute, or as a replacement, for Emma. Yes, you do remind me of her, and not just from a physical standpoint. But you are also quite different from her, too, and it's those differences I also value. Don't ask me what those differences are, though: I'm still working those out myself.

"As to my feelings for you... Well, I'm still working my way through those myself. Not to mention the added complication that we are from two completely different worlds. Literally from two completely different worlds. If it wasn't for that..." He trailed off.

After a moment, Daria said, "Yes...?"

Rawlings swallowed. "If it wasn't for that, and if this was my world, I'd probably... No, make that definitely, be asking your parents for permission to court you. To see if you would be the next mistress of Mount Folly." A stunned silence came over the room.

For a moment, nobody spoke. Then Jane said, "Well, that answers one question." She looked at Daria. "I think you should respond, amiga."

Daria just sat in her chair, looking at the man who had just told her that he wanted to, as her grandmothers would have put it, "pay court on her." Then, her face pale, she swallowed and quietly said, "You like me?"

Rawlings smiled. "Indeed I do, Daria."

"Would you marry me?" Daria asked.

"If I could, I would," Rawlings said. "But there is that problem of different worlds."

"So what do you intend to do about this?" Daria said.

"This situation?" Rawlings asked. "Or the situation between us?" Daria just nodded. "Well, I was just going to simply enjoy what time we had together and keep it as a memory to warm me in the long years ahead." He sighed. "And this just makes me wish..." He trailed off.

"Wish what?" asked Quinn. Rawlings looked at Quinn but didn't answer.

Scarlett spoke. "You wish you had managed to get yourself killed in the War, don't you?" she asked. "Like your counterpart did."

Rawlings looked at Scarlett. After a moment, he nodded. "Just another way of committing suicide, really," he sighed. "I wanted to get killed so that I would be with Emma. Now, having met and, most likely, lost the other great... great..." He took a deep breath. "Great love of my life," he said, not looking at Daria, "I now wish that I had gotten myself killed. Then I would not have to go through this loss again." He bowed his head. Again a silence descended over the room.

Then Daria got up. Saying nothing, she slowly walked over to the tall Virginian who stood there, head bowed. Reaching him, she reached up and gently stroked his cheek. Rawlings turned to look at her, his eyes widening. As Daria continued to stroke his cheek he began to tremble.

She looked up at his eyes. Those eyes that have seen so much agony and death, she thought. And gone through so much suffering. "I understand," she said. "I, too, was thinking on keeping out time together as a memory to, as you so poetically put it, warm me in the long years ahead." She stopped stroking his cheek and, reaching out, took both of his hands in hers. "So," she said, stepping in closer to him, "lets make the most of it while we can."

Rawlings looked into Daria's eyes, and saw in them an unspoken promise. "Daria..." he began.

She released one of his hands and placed her hand over his mouth. "I know what you're going to say," she said. "I want to do this. So that I, too, have a memory to warm me when I'm old, alone and sitting in the senile dementia ward." She removed her hand from his lips and again placed his hands in hers.

After a while, Jane spoke. "So," she said. "Are we going to congratulate you, or what?"

"Pity us, is more likely," Daria said, turning her head to face her best friend. "But at least we'll have the memory of this brief time together." She turned back to face Rawlings. "I suspect you won't marry,' she said.

Rawlings nodded. "And I think I could say the same for you," he said. He pulled her into an embrace, which she did not resist. "At least we'll most likely meet in Purgatory."

"You mean this isn't it?" Daria said.

"Perhaps it is," Rawlings said. "But remember Doctor Pangloss' comment on this being the best of all possible worlds." He let go of Daria, but took up her hands. "At least I've known some happiness, once more," he said.

Again silence descended. Then Quinn cleared her throat. "There is one thing that I would like to hear from you, Richard," she said. "That is, if you have no objections."

Rawlings looked up from Daria's eyes. "What is it, Quinn?" he asked.

"Well, I was kind of wondering," she said. "Could you tell us what happened here back in your world?"

"Quinn, I don't think..." Daria began when she was interrupted by Rawlings.

"You mean the fight at Sloane Farm I take it?" he asked. "I don't mind. However, I'm not going to gloss over what happened. In that, I fully agree what your version of Cump Sherman said about war being hell and that you can't refine it." He cocked his head. "Why do you want to know?"

"Well, what happened, I suppose," Quinn said. She looked at Daria. "And it could form the basis of a story that Daria was going to write."

"I don't know, Quinn," Daria began, but she was interrupted by Amy.

"Present it as a counterfactual," Amy said. "Just use the fact that McLaws passed through here as the basis and embroider from there." She looked at Daria. "Just change the names somewhat. Besides, counterfactual histories are gaining some respectability amongst the younger set of historians. Plus they sell quite well."

Daria though about Amy's suggestion. Then, she looked up at Rawlings. "No objections?" she asked.

Rawlings looked down at her. "None whatsoever," he said. "Besides, it's as good a way of hiding the truth as any I've ever heard of."

Daria looked at Quinn. "Then I suppose we'll do this," she said. "But first, I think we could all do with a coffee break. Especially after all the intense emotions that have been flying around the room."


After they had all gotten their coffee (and after all had expressed their shock at how Rawlings made his), they were again back in Casa Lane's living area. This time, though, Rawlings was sitting in the armchair, nursing his coffee, while Daria sat close next to him on another kitchen chair. She nursed her coffee, but maintained a contact with Rawlings by placing one hand on the Virginian aristocrat's broad shoulders.

"We had come North," Rawlings said, "in an attempt to at least carry the war into Union territory. We were also hoping to encourage any pro-Southern elements in Maryland to at the least cause some trouble for the Lincoln Administration by rising up, thus forcing them to tie troops down. At the least we would cause the Union to finish the job of hurrying McClellan's army northwards from where we had penned them up at Harrison's Landing after the Seven Days. That's where I got this," he continued, showing the scar on his left hand.

"What caused that?" asked Jane.

"Graze from a minie ball, I suspect," Rawlings said. "I had taken command of the brigade my regiment, the 22nd Virginia Battalion, was a part of when I heard that General Field, the brigade commander, was down.

"Anyway, as to our invasion of the North: some of the wilder speculations hoped that any potential uprisings could even tip Maryland into seceding from the Union and joining the Confederacy. Personally I didn't think that was possible, a view that was confirmed by our somewhat cool reception by the folk of western Maryland. As I found out from Jeremiah Sloane, people in that part of Maryland were strong for the Union.

"When we got to Frederick General Lee had, with General Longstreet's assistance, worked out a plan of campaign. General Jackson was down, thanks to a fall from his horse, but he would soon recover. But the gist of the plan was that we should draw the reassembling Army of the Potomac into a fight and defeat it on Northern soil. However, due to a Federal garrison that remained at Harpers Ferry our moves, as well as our supply lines, were going to be limited. And although we could live off the land as we moved, some of us still held out hopes that we could persuade Marylanders to join us, which ruled out really living off the land there. We could purchase provisions, but the locals did not like us using Confederate money, and we had only kept a portion of the war chest General Stuart had captured from John Pope's army headquarters. So our options were somewhat limited.

"Nearby was the bulk of Cacotin Mountain. It was crossed by the National Road west of Frederick, and there was a road running from Frederick, through Jefferson, which was a crossroads town, towards Harper's Ferry. General Lee took the decision to divide the army, but to position the two commands in a way that they would be able to support each other in good defensive terrain. However, in order to draw the Federals into a fight, there needed to be some bait left dangling. That job fell to me and the division I had taken over after Second Manassas."

"I saw your discussion with General Lee and Jackson at Sloane Farm," Scarlett said. "You positioned your division below the crest of the terrace there."

Rawlings nodded. "General Jackson took the rest of his command up the road and through Jefferson," he said. "It was a good thing that we were facing McClellan: we later found out that he was nicknamed by some of his subordinate commanders 'The Virginia Creeper' on account of his slow movements. Anyway, his refusing to move quickly until he had gathered in all of the forces he deemed necessary enabled us to properly dig in at Sloane Farm, even though I was to fight only a holding action and then slip away up the mountain that evening.

"The Army of the Potomac arrived in the Frederick area on the Sixteenth of September, 1862. We knew it had arrived because of the dust plumes its progress along the National Road sent high into the sky..."


Sloane Farm, Afternoon of September 16, 1862.

Rawlings put down his field glasses and turned to his subordinate commanders. "It looks like our guests for the ball have arrived," he said, indicating the slowly spreading blue stain in the fields beyond the crossroads. "Have there been any further reports from the cavalry piquets?"

"Just a few confirming the last few messages," Colonel Simon Wallingford, his chief-of-staff reported. "It appears Little Mac has managed to persuade Old Abe to turn loose some more troops from the Washington defences. About two extra corps' worth.

"Any idea what we're facing?" Rawlings said.

"From what the scouts have been able to ascertain, we look as though we've got three corps opposite us," said Wallingford. "One of them is the old Third Corps from the Federal Army of Virginia. They've also been reinforced by new drafts: the scouts report seeing some new regiments in their formations."

Rawlings had raised his glasses to his eyes again while Wallingford spoke. "So, how many do you think we could be facing?" he asked.

"Estimates are between twenty-five to thirty-thousand Federal infantry, sir," Wallingford replied. "However, we appear to have an advantage in artillery."

"Three-to-one odds against us," Rawlings said. "Thank God we've managed to entrench on good ground. We'll need every advantage we can get." He let his glasses hang from their neck strap and turned back towards the farm house. In front of it he saw two wagons and a field ambulance. The wagons were being loaded with the Sloane's movable goods, while Jeremiah Sloane was being helped into the ambulance.

Rawlings walked over to the ambulance. He looked in as Sloane was laid out on a stretcher. "Please accept once again my apologies for this inconvenience," he said to Sloane. "But it's best if you and your family were evacuated from here. There's going to be one hell of a fight here tomorrow, and it would be a good idea if you and yours were not here to witness it. I dread to think what could happen if a stray shell hit your farmhouse while you were still here."

"It wouldn't be pleasant, I'm sure," said Sloane. He looked around. "Surely you'll be needing this yourself?" he asked.

"Not today," Rawlings replied. "The Federal troops are deploying into the fields on the other side of the crossroads. I suspect they won't attack until all of their forces are in position, which fits in with McClellan's past behaviour."

"So I gather," said Sloane. He awkwardly held out his hand. "Thank you, General," he said. "For being so considerate of me and my family."

Rawlings got up into the ambulance and took Sloane's hand. "My pleasure, Mister Sloane," he said. He got out of the ambulance and watched it and the two wagons drive off.


"I'm glad to see that you let the Sloanes go," said Jane.

"To be honest, they would have been in the way," Rawlings said. "Besides, I see no reason why civilians should suffer any more than necessary. If I can get non-combatants out of the line of fire, I usually do so." He shrugged. "Can't do that all the time: often some people will just attempt to hunker down and ride out the storm."

"So you were just waiting for the Union troops to finish deploying,"Daria said. "That must have been nerve-racking."

"Waiting is always the hardest part," Rawlings said. "Especially if you know what's coming."


Sloane Farm, September 17, 1862, Morning.

The Federal attack began, as Rawlings had assumed it would, with an artillery barrage. By now he had readied his forces to meet the attack as best he could. His men were hunkering down behind their defensive works while, on the slope above them, the rifled guns that Rawlings had emplaced began their long-range duel with the Union artillery that was ranged out in a long line in the fields at the bottom of the slope. Every so often a Union shell would overshoot to land just below where Rawlings and his staff stood underneath the big tree that stood in the Sloane farmyard.

He had already sent off a messenger to Jefferson, telling Stonewall Jackson that the attack against his position had commenced. Now he concentrated on the task in front of him. He

raised his glasses and studied the belching line of Union artillery, then raised them slightly to study the Federal infantry forming up some distance behind the gun line.

After a while he lowered his glasses and turned to his chief of staff. "Have the battery commanders in the main line join in with their large-calibre guns," he said to Wallingford. "It may help in the duel." Wallingford nodded and dictated orders to several runners who were nearby. They saluted and raced off down the slope towards the battery commanders. Shortly afterwards the twelve-pounder smoothbores in the main line started to join in the artillery duel, sending smoothbore shells off towards the Federal gun line.

Rawlings nodded to himself and put his glasses to his eyes again. Confederate artillery at times had a tendency to overshoot their targets. Today, with a clear field of fire and good observation of their targets the guns were right on target, with an occasional shell overshooting to land either amongst the Federal caissons at the rear or, just as importantly, amongst the assembled Federal troops. Might cut down the numbers our boys in the line will have to face, he thought to himself.

Soon he began to notice that the Federal fire was beginning to slacken off. Either they're trying to fox us, he thought, or we are beginning to drive off some of their batteries. He swung his glasses to run them along his own battle line. What he saw pleased him: few casualties and his men sheltering behind the fieldwork.

He turned towards his Wallingford. "Tell the battery commanders in the line to conserve their fire for the infantry attack when it comes in," he said. Wallingford saluted and relayed the message to the runners, who ran off to deliver the message.

As Rawlings turned to watch the progress of the artillery duel, he heard the shrieking whistle of a shell coming in close. "Take cover!" yelled out an officer. Rawlings was about to turn to find out who had said that when there was a loud explosion not too far in front of where he stood. He felt a hot, tearing pain in his right forearm and fell onto his left side.

Someone called out, "The General's down! Get the surgeon! Quickly!"


Daria suddenly grasped Rawlings' shoulder with a tight grip. "You were wounded?" she said.

Rawlings looked over at Daria. He placed his free hand over Daria's and squeezed. "Not all that badly," he said. "My staff quickly improvised a tourniquet on my right arm until the surgeon got there. He pulled out of my right forearm a large splinter from a rifled gun. It had gone in between the bones in my forearm. I was lucky, and only have a scar on that arm to show for it."

"Lucky!" said Daria.

Rawlings shrugged. "If it had been a piece of casing from a twelve-pounder smoothbore shell, it would have shattered the bones," he said. "I would have lost that arm. Luckily it had gone in clean so all the surgeon had to do was cut my sleeve open, pull the splinter out and sew up the gash. I was able to resume my command duties in time to see the first infantry attack."

"But you must have been in quite some pain," said Amy.

Rawlings looked at Amy and again shrugged. "Part of the territory," he said. "I couldn't have any laudanum because I needed to have my wits about me. And besides, it's not like I was the first general officer to fight a battle with a wound. General Jackson fought his action on Henry House Hill at First Manassas with a broken hand that wasn't attended to until after the fight. And men often underwent amputation without any painkillers of any sort: we just didn't have enough of them. Oh, we sometimes managed to get some chloroform in through the blockade, but, like a lot of our supplies, we had to rely on the Federals for them."

"What, they sent you supplies?" asked Quinn.

"More like we took them from the Federals," Rawlings said. "Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks was nicknamed 'Commissary Banks' because the Valley army kept itself supplied from his stockpiles that they had captured." He looked at the others. "Don't forget that we didn't have much of a manufacturing base, and that we were fighting what was the second rank industrial power in the world." He gave a grin. "I think we did pretty good, fighting on a shoestring like that," he said.

"But why didn't you go to the rear?" Daria asked. "Surely you could have turned things over to someone else?"

Rawlings looked back at Daria. "Maybe in your United States Army, that could happen," he said. "Not in an army where visible leadership is of the utmost importance. As a regimental and brigade commander I led from the front, as did my peers. As a divisional commander I had to be a visible presence. That I was wounded and stuck to my post sent a signal to my men about my commitment to my duty and to our cause. They take heart from gestures like that." He grinned. "Of course, if someone like General Lee tried to lead from the front, the men would force him to go back to the rear."

"Why?" asked Jane.

"It's hard to explain," Rawlings said. "Marse Robert could inspire men to achieve things they never thought possible. We were ready to follow him to the gates of hell and back, if he so ordered it. And we frequently did."

"I think I know what you mean," said Scarlett.

Rawlings looked at the red-haired girl. "How so?" he asked.

"I saw him in one of my visions," said Scarlett. "He didn't strike me as being a particularly big man, but there was an air about him that said he was a leader of men. That he could lead men who would make anybody we were familiar with appear to be callow youths by comparison."

Rawlings tilted his head to one side as he thought over what Scarlett had said. "That's one way of putting it," he said. "He never courted attention, but whenever he entered a room he drew all eyes to him. He was probably the most natural aristocrat of us all.

"But I digress. The surgeon had finished dressing my wound and I had managed to get back on my feet, although I was feeling some of the effects of the wound, in time to see the Federals put together the first of their assaults..."


As the Federal fire began to slacken off Rawlings saw the large blue mass behind the Union gun line get up from where they had been seated and dress their ranks. Through his glasses he could see the small figures of Union officers marshalling their men into their assault formations.

He turned to Wallingford. "Looks like the Yankees are about to come at us," he said. "Pass the word to the brigade commanders and battery commanders to ready to receive an infantry assault." Wallingford saluted and made to pass the orders to the runners as Rawlings used his good arm to put his glasses to his eyes.

Suddenly, the Federal guns ceased firing. His guns also ceased firing, conserving their ammunition for the infantry assault that everyone knew was sure to come. Through his glasses Rawlings saw the Federal brigade commanders position themselves in front of their brigades and, at a signal, begin to lead their troops forward. The long blue lines marched forward, with the set of colours each regiment carried waving bravely in the centre of each regimental line. They filtered through the Federal gun line, pausing only to dress their ranks before coming on in a seemingly irresistible blue wave.

Such a beautiful sight of martial splendour, Rawlings thought as he lowered his glasses. It seems a shame we have to ruin that. He turned to Wallingford. "Tell all commanders to commence firing once they see that they have reached the fence line," he said. Wallingford saluted and turned to pass the orders to more runners as Rawlings once more put his glasses to his eyes. He saw that some of the Union regimental commanders had placed themselves on horseback in order to make themselves more visible to their commands. Green troops, sure enough, Rawlings thought to himself

Slowly the blue mass crossed the open wheatfield and approached the fence line separating the wheatfield from the cornfield that covered part of the slope. Although they looked like an irresistible force Rawlings knew that the ranks were moving slowly not just to keep their dressing but because any large mass of men moved with difficulty across a field full of ripening wheat. They did not march: rather they waded through the knee-high stalks.

When the first ranks reached the simple post and rail fence separating the two fields every large gun in Rawling's line belched fire. As the shot and shell ripped into the Union ranks a great moan rose from them. Up on the crest line Rawlings could see rifles, knapsacks, hats, accoutrements and fence rails rise into the air above the formation. In his mind's eye he could see the swathes of destruction caused by roundshot and shell, both common and spherical case, amongst the troops trying to get over the fence. And even when they did get over the fence they faced yet another obstacle: the field of green corn that stretched before them like a dense green barrier between the Union troops and the Confederate works.

Some movement behind the Union front lines drew his attention. Raising his glasses he saw Federal caissons resupplying the Federal gun line, and fresh batteries being brought in to replace batteries that had been shot up in the artillery duel. A feint attack, he thought. They're launching a feint in order to cover their guns. He lowered his glasses and turned to Wallingford. "Direct the rifled guns to fire on the Federal gun line," he said. "Let's see if we can disrupt their resupply efforts. Wallingford saluted and moved to send off Rawlings' instructions. He raised his glasses and saw the Federal infantry begin to retire back to their start lines. They left a clear line of casualties along the fence line.

Once they had retired behind the Union artillery it once again roared into action. This time, although they still sent shells towards the Confederate works, Rawlings also saw shells fall into the corn field. Clearing the way for the next attack, he thought as he saw the Union troops reform behind the Federal artillery. After twenty minutes of this sort of bombardment Rawlings saw that the Federal guns had managed to level a fair swathe of the corn, and that they were once again concentrating on his defensive positions.

He turned to Wallingford. "Alert Evans and Ripley. They are to be ready to move at a moment's notice." Wallingford acknowledged the order and turned to a runner, who, on receiving the message, saluted and ran back to where some horses were tethered. He got on one and rode past the farmhouse to where Rawlings' reserve brigades were concealed in the timber.

Rawlings returned his attention to the artillery duel. This time the Federal artillery was concentrating on his main defensive line, with only a few batteries engaging his rifled guns. A steady stream of wounded began to flow past his position as the pounding began to take its toll amongst the sheltering Confederate infantry. Still the guns roared. General Lee wanted me to fix the Yankees' attention, Rawlings thought to himself. "We sure as hell have," he muttered to himself.

Once again the artillery fire slackened off, and, through his glasses, Rawlings saw the blue lines again make their way forward past the Union artillery. This time he didn't see any regimental officers lead their men on horseback. They've learned their lesson this time, he thought.

This time they moved much easier across the wheatfield, trampling the stalks of wheat underfoot as they marched. They kept their dressing even as the first shots from the defending Confederate artillery began to tear gaps in their ranks. Once they had gotten past where the first attack had halted they immediately went from the quickstep to the double-quick. Officers in front waved their swords, urging their men on through the Confederate defensive fire. As they got closer the Confederate infantry began to pore rifle fire into the tightly-packed blue ranks, but still the Union troops came on. Finally they halted some one hundred yards from the Confederate defensive line. The blue-clad troops raised their rifles and began to return the Confederate fire.

Rawlings could see that his men were keeping up a steady fire. His troops had divided themselves into three ranks. The rearmost men loaded any rifles that were passed back to them, passing them onto the second rank men, who cocked and put percussion caps onto the nipples. Finally they passed the readied weapon to the front ranks, who simply, because the Federals were so tightly packed together, simply pointed their rifles and pulled the trigger, passing the empty rifle back and taking a loaded weapon in exchange.

He looked at the Union troops. My God, that takes courage, he thought as the Federals kept exchanging fire with his on entrenched men. Anybody who sees this and still doubts Yankee courage afterwards is an idiot. But eventually, the weight of Confederate fire began to tell, and, their ranks much depleted, the Federal line began to retire back to their starting positions. Even then, many in the blue line, wanting to avoid the shame of being shot in the back, retreated walking backwards, pausing only to fire at the Confederate line.

They left behind, however, a large number of their comrades.


"My God!" said Quinn.

"You said it," said Jane. "Why didn't they run?"

"You have to realise that quite often many units on both sides, unless they were recruiting immigrants in New York City, came from small towns and cities," Rawlings said. "The men in each outfit had known each other for years. Thus, if someone ran, he was running out on men he had known and grown up with for years. They would quite likely send letters back home, those who survived, saying that that person had left his friends and comrades in the lurch. Word would spread very quickly that so-and-so was a yellow coward, and men will do almost anything to avoid that sort of stigma. The downside, however, was that if a unit recruited in a small town found itself in a tight situation in a battle, as happened quite often, the news may go back to that town that there were no more young men. They had all been killed." He looked at Daria and squeezed her hand. "Much like why I couldn't go to the rear after I was wounded."

"Because you were an officer," Daria said, "and, therefore, you had to set an example to your men." She squeezed his shoulder. "I still think you should have gone to the rear. But then, I have my reasons for wanting that."

"And I understand them," Rawlings said.

"What about your side?" Amy asked. "I take it that you didn't get off scot-free."

"We didn't," Rawlings said. "Even though we were behind embankments we still took quite a few casualties, which increased when the Federals started shelling us again."

"How many times did they attack your position?" asked Quinn.

"All told, about six times," Rawlings said. "And every time they attacked they did so after an artillery bombardment. Eventually they decided that there was no profit in needlessly throwing away men."

"What happened?"

"Well, they sent over an officer under flag of truce to organise a cease-fire," Rawlings said, "which I was glad to accept. That allowed both sides to remove any wounded who were still alive and take them back to the rear for treatment."

"That field must have looked horrible," said Quinn.

"From a third of the way from the Federal gun line to about one hundred yards in front of our position the field was covered in blue bodies," Rawlings said. "And every stalk of corn in that field had been cut down right to the base, almost as if someone had taken a knife and cut each and every stalk. The cornfield at Sloane Farm became a byword for horror, exceeded only by Mary's Heights at Fredericksburg that winter, where, instead of just three corps, we were attacked by the entire Army of the Potomac about six times. We reckoned, though, that at both fights we were getting our own back for Malvern Hill during the Seven Days.

"Later that night we quietly pulled back from our positions, leaving only a few men to tend fires. They later followed us to Jefferson. The worst of our wounded were left th a makeshift field hospital in the forest with some attendants to look after them."

Rawlings looked at the clock. "And I think we should leave that tale there," he said, getting up out of the armchair. "If you'll all excuse me," he said to the others, "Miss Morgendorffer and I have a dinner engagement to get ready for."

"That's right," Jane said. "You have that dinner with the Sloanes to go to." She looked at Rawlings. "Did you tell them you were bringing a guest?"

"Rang the Sloanes and said that I was," Rawlings said. He smirked. "I didn't tell them who, however." He bowed to Daria and swept out his arm. "After you?" he said. Daria smirked, curtsied and, together, they went up the stairs.

Jane, watching them go up the stairs, commented, "Boy! Wouldn't I like to be at that dinner!" A sad look came across her face..

"What's wrong, Jane?" asked Quinn.

"Oh, it's the whole situation concerning those two," Jane said. "They've found each other, but they can't be together, except for this brief moment." She sighed. "And I don't think there's all that much we can do about it."

"Oh," said a crestfallen Quinn.


Later that evening Rawlings was driving his Mercedes-Benz up the road towards The Cove. He was, as usual, dressed in his best clothes. Daria sat beside him, wearing her best clothes.

"Are you sure about this?" she asked. "Not that there's any bad blood between me and the Sloanes, but..."

"But you once went out with young Master Thomas," Rawlings said. "However, from what Jane, you and your sister said of his reaction when he arrived to drop off the invitation, he seemed more amused by our... situation than jealous." He looked at Daria. "Or is it because you suspect young Thomas' mother of having, shall we say, an ulterior motive for inviting me to dinner?"

"Well, they do have a daughter,' Daria replied. "But I've met Elsie. She's Quinn's age and would consider herself to be too young for something like a marriage. Besides, she would be the first one to tell her parents just what she thought of the whole idea of an arranged marriage."

Rawlings flashed her a grin. "Reminds me of someone else I know," he said. His face sobered. "Em was like that, too," he said.

Daria immediately laid an hand on his arm. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to..."

"No apology needed, Daria," Rawlings said. "I wont ever forget Em, but I am glad to see that there's still something of her spirit left in this troubled world." He gave her a broad smile, which she returned with one of her Mona Lisa smiles.

"Am I that much like her?" Daria asked.

"If you'll pardon me for asking, Daria," said Rawlings, "what is it with you and these loaded questions? Now I've got to find an appropriate answer that won't offend all parties concerned."

"How about a truthful answer?" Daria said. "Not that you haven't given me one, but I really would like to know just how much I'm like... well your Emma Harrison. Who is, I suppose, a distant cousin of mine, given what Grandma Tess said the other night."

Rawlings thought for a moment, and then said, "You are very much like Em, Daria. In fact, that night when you came down the stairs after Quinn had done you up and wearing your, ah, 'contacts', I thought I was looking at Em. But you're also smart, observant of your environment, and always ready with an observation that was both accurate and amusing. Much like Em. But you are also your own person. Perhaps a little more assertive about your own life, something which Em was beginning to be, but within the confines of her society. So I shouldn't be all that surprised that I was attracted to you." He gave Daria a glance. "And since we seem to be making our confessions to each other, tell me: what attracted you to me?"

Daria thought for a while, and then answered, "Well, you just happened to be the most interesting, intelligent and, well, manly person I have ever encountered. It didn't take me long to realise that your courtly manners were as natural to you as breathing is. But, I suppose it's also the fact that you are a real man, much more than a lot of the guys I've met in my time. You're obviously well educated, but your life has given you a depth that's lacking in a lot of people."

She took a breath. "I suppose, well, I saw you as being, well, what I needed to make me complete as a person. My missing half, so to speak." A sad look crossed her face. "And we won't be able to keep one another, won't we?" she sadly said.

Rawlings said nothing for a while. "Well," he finally said, "I suspect that we had, as you said, best make the most of what time we have together, and treasure that time as a dear memory. I know I will."

"As will I," said Daria. She leaned across and rested her head against Rawlings. The tall Virginian smiled and kept driving.


Rawlings and Daria walked into The Cove's restraunt, with Daria on Rawlings' arm. They walked up to the maitre'd. "Richard John Rawlings and guest," Rawlings said in his smooth aristocratic Virginian accent. "We're expected by the Sloanes."

The maitre'd looked at the guest list. "Of course, Mister Rawlings," he said. He stepped to one side and waved them through with a small bow. "Please come this way." They followed him through the restraunt. Finally they came up to a table set in an alcove with a window opening up onto the cove area itself. Seated at the table were Tom and his family.

"Richard," Tom said, getting up. "And Daria!" He looked at the tall Virginian. "I take it this is your 'guest'?" Tom said, a slight grin on his face.

Rawlings patted Daria's hand where it rested on his. "She is," he said.

Daria, who was watching the rest of the Sloanes, once again saw the reaction that Rawlings' aristocratic Virginian accent had on people. Yes, Daria thought. You've finally met someone who does make the Sloanes, old though they may be, look like nouveau riches. Not to mention everyone else in this room.

Tom stood to one side. "Richard," he said, "these are my parents, Angier and Katherine Sloane, and my sister, Elsie." Each person stood up as they were introduced.

Rawlings disentangled himself from Daria's arm. He first went over to Kay Sloane, taking her hand and bowing over it. "A pleasure, Mrs. Sloane," he said in his whiskey-smooth voice.

Kay Sloane placed her free hand against her breast. "Why, thank you, Mister Rawlings," she said. "And it's 'Kay', not Mrs. Sloane, please!"

"Very well, Kay," Rawlings said as he released her hand. "Please call me 'Richard'." He turned to Angier Sloane. "A pleasure to meet you, too, Mister Sloane," he said, shaking Angier's hand.

Angier Sloane raised his eyebrows at Rawlings firm grip. "My pleasure, too, Mister Rawlings," he said. "And please call me 'Angier'."

"Only so long as you call me 'Richard'," Rawlings said, releasing Angier's hand.

He then turned to Elsie. "And may I say that it is both an honour and a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Sloane," he said, taking Elsie's hand in his.

"The name's Elsie, Mister Rawlings," Elie said. "And you don't have to bow, please."

Kay Sloane was appalled. "Elsie!" she said. To her astonishment Rawlings simply laughed and shook his head.

"You know, you are only the second woman to say that to me while I've been in Lawndale," he said. He chuckled as he shook Elsie's hand.

"Who was the other woman?" Tom asked as they all took their seats. He looked at Daria. "Not you, surely?" he said, quirking an eyebrow as he did so.

Daria smiled and shook her head. "It was Amy," she said. "When Richard took me and Quinn back to Schloss Morgendorffer and managed to broker a cease-fire between all of the Barksdale-Morgendorffer women."

Tom's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Impressive!" he said. He looked at Rawlings. "How did you manage to achieve that feat?" he asked.

Rawlings shrugged. "I simply requested that everyone involved behave like adults," he replied. "Of course I wasn't as bald as that: I just gently pointed out a few things." He looked at Tom. "I understand you've been doing some family research," he said. "Is that how you discovered the story about your ancestor?"

"That has been quite well known in our family for some time, Richard," said Angier Sloane. "It's some of the other documents that we found in the attic at the family property that has generated some interest."

"Oh?" said Daria. "What else did you find?"

"Well, we found an old book that had been put together by Sir Edmund Sloane before he left for the New World," Tom said. "It seems he intended for his descendants to always remember who they were and where they had come from. We have entries in it by every head of the main line of the Sloanes up to the Civil War period, when it was apparently placed in storage."

"So you're saying that you've found a genealogy of the Sloanes?" Daria said. "Impressive."

"Indeed," said Rawlings. "Many Virginian families can claim pretty impressive genealogies, but few could claim something like this: a record kept by successive generations of one family."

"So we gathered when we showed it to the people in the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress," Angier said. "And it just wasn't a record of which Sloane begat who, but also of major events. Each head of the family would enter not just the births and deaths of members of the family but also the events which happened. As you can imagine it consists of several pretty hefty volumes. The people at the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress were quite impressed when we showed it to them."

"We also found out a few more things about the Sloanes," Tom said. "It seems that Sir Edmund wasn't the first Sloane to come to the New World."

"Who was?" asked Daria.

"His grandfather Sir Ralph Sloane was," said Angier. "It seems he arrived as a gentleman adventurer with Sir Francis Drake's expedition to circumnavigate the world. He later fought as a commander of troops on board Drake's flagship during both the raid on Cadiz and the fight with the Armada in 1588. He left tales of the New World with his descendants, one of which, his son Sir Francis Sloane, became an investor with the Virginia Company, which later, so we think, inspired Sir Edmund to emigrate to the New World."

"If that's the case, then why did Sir Edmund have to come to Maryland in order to get his land grant?" asked Daria. "Surely that should have counted for something!"

"I think I can answer that, Daria," said Rawlings. "The Virginia Company had been wound up by the time Sir Edmund Sloane came out here to America. Besides, a share in the Virginia Company entitled the shareholder to a share of the profits generated by the Company's activities, not a share in the land." He looked at Tom and Angier. "I suspect that when Virginia became a Crown colony Sir... Francis, was it?" he asked. At their nods he continued, "As I was saying, when Virginia became a Crown colony Sir Francis would have had the option of taking land or money in exchange for his share in the Company."

Angier nodded. "He took money," he said. "Apparently there was a bit of an income crisis at the time and the extra money helped quite a bit." He looked at Rawlings. "When did you family come out to Virginia?" he asked.

"In 1610, with Lord De La Warre's expedition," Rawlings said. "My ancestor was listed as a 'Gentleman' on the lists. We were here during the 1622 Massacre and were granted land in 1626, after the Company had been wound up." He looked around the table. "By the way," he said, "Lord De La Warre was also commonly known as 'Lord Delaware'. Delaware, the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and the Delaware Indians, are named after him."

"Well, that was an interesting piece of trivia," Daria said. She smiled, though, to take the sting out of her comments. "And I think it's about time we ordered something."


Throughout the resultant dinner Rawlings kept up an impressive amount of small talk, charming everyone with his stories of Richmond society. However, it was also equally clear to the Sloanes that there was a real connection between Daria and Rawlings, something that had put paid to Kay Sloane's plan to introduce her daughter to someone who was quite obviously an eligible bachelor. Eventually the dinner drew to an end and the table was cleared.

Rawlings stood, Daria with him. "I would like to thank you all for a wonderful evening," he said to the Sloanes. "However we do have to get going: we have somewhat of a busy day in front of us tomorrow."

"I understand fully," said Angier, who had also stood. He reached out and shook Rawling's hand. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Richard."

"The pleasure was all mine," Rawlings said. "And thank you for your card. After I get back to Mount Folly we may well have some investment business to discuss." He turned to Kay and once again bowed over her hand. "Thank you for a wonderful evening, Kay," he said. He then turned to Elsie and shook her hand.

Finally he turned to Tom. "I suspect we may well see each other tomorrow at the library, when you drop off those photographs you were talking about," he said. "I would be interested in seeing them and perhaps getting some copies."

"I'll see what I can do," Tom said as he shook Rawlings hand. They finished their farewells and then Rawlings and Daria left the restraunt.

After leaving the Cove they drove along the road until Daria said, "Richard, would you mind a small detour?"

Rawlings looked at her. "What do you have in mind?" he asked.

In reply, Daria blushed faintly and said, "Oh just a little something you might enjoy." She indicated a turnoff. "Turn here," she said. "Rawlings shrugged and turned off where Daria had indicated. They drove along the road until they came to a parking area in front of a stone wall. "Just park here," she said, indicating a spot in front of the wall. Rawlings parked.

Daria got out of the car and walked over to the low stone wall and looked over it. Rawlings got out of the car and walked over to where Daria was standing. As he got closer he could see what Daria was looking at, and his breath caught.

What he could see was the whole of Lawndale, spread out in front of him. The street lights, those of the various houses and buildings, and the lights of moving cars, twinkled in the night like those of a fairy city laid out in front of him. In the distance a waxing moon was rising.

As soon as he had stopped alongside her Daria leaned over and, slowly, put her arm around Rawlings' waist. In response, he slowly placed his arm around her shoulders and felt her lean her head against his chest. "So this is how it feels," Daria quietly said.

"What do you mean?" asked Rawlings.

"How it feels to be held by someone who you... love," she replied. She looked up at him. "And who loves you," she said. In reply, Rawlings gave a gentle smile and then, ever so slowly, leaned over and kissed her. Daria tensed slightly, and then leaned into the kiss. They stayed like that for a while, and then Rawlings broke off. He turned to face her fully, and brought his other arm around, while Daria responded by turning her back to Rawlings and, when his arms had linked around her, leaning back into him. "So this is what it feels like to be truly happy," she said.

"Another memory to cherish," Rawlings said. Daria folded her hands over his, which were crossed in front of her, and brought them to rest against her front.

"Yes, she said. They stayed like that for quite some time.


The incessant buzzing of her alarm clock woke Jane from a deep slumber. She reached over and, after some fumbling, finally managed to hit the alarm button. Slowly, she sat up and blearily looked around.

Hmmm, she thought to herself as she surveyed her room. There's something missing. After a few minutes it soon registered what, or, more precisely, who, was missing from her room. Where's Daria? she thought to herself. She looked down to where her best friend normally had her sleeping bag. Not there, she thought. And her bag hasn't been slept in. But her clothes are here.

Suddenly her eyes widened. She didn't! she thought to herself. Not possible! Lane, get that crazy idea out of your head this minute! This is Daria you're thinking about! Slowly, Jane got out of bed and got dressed. She probably fell asleep and Richard, being the gentleman he is, has put her in his bed and slept on the couch. Yeah, that's probably what happened. Jane went to the bedroom door and opened it. She looked down the hallway to where Richard's bedroom door was. Shut, she thought as she looked at it. They probably got back late last night. As quietly as she could she walked down the corridor until she reached the top of the stairs.

Walking down the stairs she looked into the living area. No long form lay recumbent on the couch. I suppose Richard has gone for his morning walk to get a newspaper, Jane thought to herself. But where're the blankets? Shrugging, she went into the kitchen.

Standing in the kitchen, she noticed that there seemed to be something missing. Coffee pot, she thought. Richard usually fixes some of that obscenely strong coffee of his before he leaves for his walk. But it's not there.

She looked up at the ceiling. Could it be...? she thought. Suddenly she exited of the kitchen. Quietly she went up the stairs and down the hallway to the door of Rawlings' room. She placed her hand on the doorknob, hesitated for a moment, and then, slowly, turned the knob and just as slowly, opened the door. Once she had opened it wide enough she slowly put her head around the edge of the door and looked into the room.

As she took in the scene before her, her eyes bugged out of their eye sockets. Oh. My. GOD! she thought. There, before her stunned gaze, she saw in Rawlings' bed, Daria Morgendorffer. She was spooned tightly up against the sleeping form of Richard John Rawlings, who had his arms around her as though he was protecting her against the world. And even though they were both underneath the bed sheets, it was quite clear to Jane that they were both naked as the day they were born. Rawlings' clothes, which had been laid out on the chair and other pieces of furniture in the room, and Daria's nightwear, made that crystal clear.

Slowly, Jane drew her head back around the door, and just as slowly, she shut it. Then, as quietly as she could, she made her way back down the hallway. She still had breakfast to prepare. She also had quite a lot to think about as well.


Several Hours Earlier.

"Richard, you want to go get something to drink?" Daria asked as they drove into Lawndale.

Rawlings looked at Daria. "Well, I am feeling a little thirsty," he said. "Where do you think we should go?"

As they passed a strip mall Daria pointed at a twenty-four hour store. Next to it was a twenty-four hour drugstore. "That looks acceptable," she said. "It even has some tables outside it." Rawlings nodded and pulled into the mall's car park. They got out and Daria and Rawlings went into the shop.

Rawlings looked around. It looked much like similar shops he had been in. Daria went up to the back and pulled out of the fridge a couple of bottles of cola. She held one up to Rawlings, who said "That will do fine," and together they went to pay for their drinks.

Exiting the store Daria said, "Richard, could you grab a seat? I've got to go into the drugstore for something." Rawlings nodded and Daria went into the store.

As Rawlings sat down he was approached by two young women. One was a slender brunette of a type Rawlings was all too familiar with from his experiences in Richmond society. The other was an equally willowy Asian girl who had a somewhat vacuous expression on her face. Both were dressed in the height of fashion for their age group. I wonder what they want? he thought as they came up to him.

"Like, hello there," said the brunette.

"Good evening, ladies," Rawlings said. "What can I do for you?"

The brunette brushed her hair back with her hand. "We saw you the other day with someone who is really, like, not suited for you? She has a reputation for being really, really unfashionable."

"Yeah," said the Asian. "Unfashionable."

Rawlings raised an eyebrow. I was wrong, he thought. This pair are worse than anything I have ever encountered in Richmond society. Or any kind of society for that matter. "Oh?" he said. "What makes you so sure that this person I was with when you first laid eyes on me is so unsuited for me?"

"Well, isn't it obvious?" said the brunette. "You are obviously a man of taste. Surely you would rather be seen with a woman of similar taste?"

"I see," said Rawlings. He looked past the pair. "Do you think that I should be seen with a woman of similar tastes, Daria?" he asked.

The pair turned around. There, standing before them, dressed in a manner that suited her down to the ground, and which matched Rawlings perfectly, was Daria. In her hands she had a paper bag, and she was giving the two young women a flat, emotionless stare. "Hello, Sandi, Tiffney," she said in her usual flat semi-monotone.

"I take it you know these young ladies?" Rawlings asked.

"You could say that," Daria said. "They were part of a clique that was called 'The Fashion Club' at Lawndale High." She walked past the pair and sat down next to Rawlings.

Rawlings cocked an eyebrow. "'Fashion Club'?" he asked.

"They obsessed over fashion and being fashionable," Daria said. "Quinn was a member until they disbanded in my senior year."

"Intriguing," Rawlings murmured. He looked at Daria. "You haven't answered my question, though," he said. Suppressed amusement rippled through his voice.

Daria looked at Rawlings and then looked at Sandi and Tiffney. "Well, I suppose it is only fair that you should be with someone who has the same tastes as you do," she replied. "What do you look for in a woman?"

"Well," Rawlings replied, "I look for a woman who is articulate, intelligent, educated, has her own views on things and can make me laugh. It also helps if she is good looking." He looked Sandi and Tiffney over. "Do either of you think you fulfil the criteria?"

"Surely you're not looking for a brain?" Sandi asked.

"It does make matters much easier if she has one and knows how to use it," said Rawlings. "One gets pretty tired pretty quickly talking only about fashion and idle gossip." He looked at Daria. "No danger of that here," he said, taking one of Daria's hands in hers and gently squeezing it.

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Daria responded, and leaned over to kiss Rawlings. The kiss continued for quite some time. Reluctantly Daria and Rawlings disengaged and then looked at Sandi and Tiffney. Daria had a faint smirk on her lips while Rawlings simply raised one eyebrow.

Tiffney looked as vacuous as ever, but Sandi Griffin had a look on her face that combined shock with outrage. She looked from Daria to Rawlings and back to Daria. Her mouth worked, but nothing, or at least, nothing intelligible, came out. Finally, she stormed off, Tiffney trailing in her wake.

Daria turned to Rawlings. "Thank you for going along with that," she said. "The brunette, Sandi, was, well, probably the most stuck-up little monster at Lawndale High. Her companion was always something of a non-entity. More of a follower." She frowned. "I never could really see what Quinn saw in them. I suppose, though, she did eventually get something out of the experience."

"And that being?" Rawlings asked.

"What appears to be a deepening friendship with Stacy Rowe," Daria said. "I suppose I should do something to encourage that. Especially as it looks like they'll be both coming to Boston." She looked over at Rawlings. "But I'll leave that for now." Once more she leaned over and kissed him.


"I see that Jane didn't wait up," Rawlings quietly said as they let themselves into Casa Lane. "Neither did Trent."

"I think Trent's over at Jesse's," Daria replied. She switched on the light in the living area. "Late night TV?"

Rawlings stretched. "I think not," he said. "We've got a bit of a day tomorrow at the library." He indicated the stairs. "I'll wait until you've had an opportunity to shower." Daria said nothing but smiled and went up the stairs. Rawlings sat down on the couch and picked up a newspaper.

After a while he felt a head snuggle itself alongside his from behind. "Finished," Daria said. Rawlings turned his head' looked at Daria and gave her a brief kiss before getting out of the couch and heading upstairs. He didn't notice Daria following him with her eyes.

She sat down in the vacated couch, deep in thought. After a moment she got up and headed up the stairs, a determined look on her face. She paused in front of the door to Jane's room, and then continued down the hall to Rawlings' room, She hesitated for a moment and then, steeling herself, went in.

Looking around the room she could see Rawlings' military background in how neatly everything was laid out. It does show that he was in the Army, Daria thought to herself. She then went over to the sleeping platform and sat down on it. I must be crazy, she thought to herself. No, make that insane. I have to be insane even to contemplate this.

Suddenly she heard the door to the bathroom open. Time to make up your mind, Morgendorffer, Daria thought. Do you want to do this or not? At that moment Rawlings appeared in the doorway. He had washed his hair and was wearing only a pair of trousers.

Daria admired his muscular build and catlike grace. Oh, yeah, she thought. I do want to do this.

Rawlings halted at the sight of Daria wearing her sleepware sitting on his bed."Er, something the matter?" he asked.

Daria said nothing, but got up and walked over to where Rawlings stood in the doorway. "No," she said as she halted in front of him. "There's really nothing wrong." She looked at him, and willed herself to control her breathing. Her blood, however, was singing in her veins, and she was aware of his masculinity in a way that she hadn't been before. "I just want this night to carry on, as though we were the last two people on the planet." She stepped closer and embraced him.

Rawlings' eyes widened as the hidden meaning of her words sank in. "Daria," he began. "You don't have..." She silenced him by placing her and over his mouth.

She looked up into his eyes. "Richard," she said. "I want to do this. I'll never have another opportunity to... be intimate with you. And I doubt that I'll ever be this intimate with any other man." She gave him a wry grin. "That's your fault, you know," she said. "You are everything I have been looking for in a man, and I know that I won't be able to spend the rest of my life with you." She removed her hand from his mouth. "So let's spend what time we have left together, and add to the memories that we will have of each other, memories to cherish and warm us in those long, lonely years ahead." Slowly, she snaked an arm behind the tall Virginian's head and drew his head down to hers. She breathed in his masculine scent that was mixed with the rosewater he used as an eau de cologne and then, gently, but no less passionately, kissed him.

They stood like that for a while, and then, after breaking apart, Daria took Rawlings by the hand, and led him into the room. After a moment, Rawlings quietly closed the door behind them.


Daria woke from a deep and dreamless sleep. At first she was confused by her surroundings. Then, as her memories of the night before came to the surface she relaxed. A big smile crept across her face. Oh, yeah, she thought. That is most definitely a memory I'll be cherishing. Trying to disturb her partner as little as possible, she rose up on one arm and turned around. Before her lay the sleeping figure of Richard John Rawlings. A peaceful look was on his face as he still slept, one arm still loosely draped around Daria.

As she looked down at Rawlings she noticed the scars on his torso. She also noticed that there were crow's feet at the corners of his eyes, worry lines etched into the corners of his mouth and the first few strands of grey beginning to show in the thick auburn hair at the temples. I suppose those are the hidden wounds of fighting a war, Daria thought to herself. The wounds that bring on a kind of premature ageing. Suddenly, she could understand what her old history teacher at Lawndale High, Anthony DeMartino, had gone through. There was always that story about him having been a Vietnam veteran, Daria thought. And, now that I think about it, he and Richard do show some of the same signs.

Slowly, she reached out and began to trace their outlines with the finger of her left hand. He's obviously been wounded in more than one fight, she thought. Another shellburst? I'll have to ask him.

Her movements woke Rawlings, who opened his eyes, blinked and, looking up at Daria, smiled and stretched. "Good morning," he said.

"Hey," Daria replied. "Good morning." She leant over and placed a kiss on his lips, something which he responded to with one of his own. She broke contact and snuggled herself in against his left side. Her hand continued to trace the outlines of the scars on his torso. "Were they from the shell that brought you down at the Sloane place," she said, "or are they from another fight?"

Rawlings looked down at what her finger was tracing, and reached down to grasp her hand in his. "Some souvenirs from Chancellorsville," he replied.

"So you fought there as well in your world?" Daria said. At Rawlings nod, she said, "Was Stonewall Jackson also wounded at that fight?"

Rawlings looked at her. "Yes, he was," he said. "I can remember that day and night quite well." He looked up at the ceiling. "Almost as though it had happened the other day."

Although she could detect some reticence on his part, her curiosity needed to know what had happened to him. "What happened?" she asked.

Rawlings looked at her. Her concerned, yet somewhat unfocussed gaze, combined with her understated beauty and the way they combined with her small size and her sleep-mussed hair, overcame his reluctance. "I was in command of my division," he said. "We'd just finished sweeping the Federals out of their camps and had halted due to nightfall in order to reorganise our lines, which had gotten confused in the fighting. I was getting ready to send for further orders, knowing that General Jackson wanted us to sweep the Federals into the Rappahannock when Sandie Pendleton, one of General Jackson's aides, came up to me with the news that the General had been wounded. I asked how badly was he wounded, and Pendleton told me that he had been taken to the rear and that, since he couldn't get to General Hill, the corps was mine.

"I immediately asked if General Lee had been informed of General Jackson's wounding, and he said that a despatch rider had been sent to him with the news. He then asked me for my orders, and I said that we were to press on the attack as best we can, since I was aware that General Jackson wanted to press forward with a night attack. However, the lines became too confused to be able to press the attack as well as we should have and it wasn't until midnight that we had managed to sort out the lines. By that time Jeb Stuart had arrived and I turned command of the corps over to him.

"The following day we pressed home another attack on the Federals around the Chancellor House. We managed to get them to retreat north of the house and were getting ready to launch an assault on their rear-guard when I was brought low by a burst from a case-shot. Luckily it had burst some distance from me, but it was still close enough to leave me with these little reminders," he said, indicating the scars.

"What happened then?" Daria asked.

Rawlings gave her a sheepish look. "I pressed home the attack," he said. At Daria's look, he said, "I had refused to allow myself to be carried back to the rear and my surgeon had to dress my wounds while I directed my division. It was only when General Lee came up to me and saw what had happened that he ordered me carried to the rear." Rawlings gave a dry chuckle. "He said he could see just why I had earned my nickname of 'Reckless'."

"'Reckless'?" asked Daria.

"The men used to call me 'Reckless Rawlings'," Rawlings replied. "Not because I was reckless with the lives of my men..."

"But because you were reckless with your own life," Daria finished for him. "Now that I think about it, you did mention trying to get yourself killed a few times." She snuggled in closer to him. "I'm glad you didn't."

"Funny enough, so am I, now," Rawlings said and drew Daria closer. He looked over at the clock. "We had better be getting up out of bed," he said. "Otherwise Jane will be having a few words to say."

"Jane will be saying a few words to us anyway," said Daria. "Most of them conveying smutty thoughts." She made no move to get out of bed, though. "You sure we want to get out of bed?" she asked. "I know of at least one reason just why we shouldn't," she smirked, and kissed him.

Reluctantly, Rawlings broke the clinch. "We've got some research to perform at the library, remember?" he said. He disengaged himself from Daria and got out of the bed. "Plus, we did agree to meet with young Thomas there." He moved about the room, getting dressed.

Daria lay back in the bed and, though her vision was blurred, watched the show. What a magnificent specimen of a man, she thought as she watched him getting dressed. Her face fell. Pity I can't keep him, she thought. But at least I'll have my memories.

Rawlings looked over at Daria. Seeing the expression on her face, he knew immediately what was causing it. "I agree," he said.

Daria started. "Excuse me?" she said.

Rawlings came over and sat down on the sleeping platform. "We can't keep one another, true. But we can keep our memories of what little time we have together. Cling onto that and, although it won't make the pain go away, it will ease it somewhat." He looked away and gave a wry smile. "It's what I did for many years after I lost Em, so, in a way, I do know what I am talking about." He looked back at Daria. "It will be hard, but it can be done. Although I do admit to wishing that things could be otherwise. But..."

"But what?" asked Daria.

Rawlings sighed. "But I cannot abandon my duty, nor my nation lightly," he said. "Even to be with you."

Daria nodded. "I know," she said. "That sense of honour is, I suppose, one of the things that drew me to you. If you could abandon those things lightly, then you wouldn't be the man I fell in love with." She started to get out of bed. "And I suppose I had better go and get dressed and get ready to face Jane's innuendos and other smutty comments."

Rawlings mild. "But you won't be facing them alone," he said. He got up from the bed and, going over to Daria, kissed her. He then stepped back. "Best go and get changed," he said. "Meet me back here and we'll go down together. Let her make of that what she will, and we'll throw it back into her teeth!" He struck an overly dramatic pose as he said that.

Daria laughed, a rare enough sound, at Rawlings' words and pose. But she finished dressing in her nightwear and exited the room to go and change into her clothes.


Jane went to answer the doorbell. "Oh, hi, Quinn," she said when she saw who was at the door. "I thought the problems with the Morgendorffer family had all been sorted out." She stood aside to let Quinn in.

"They have been," Quinn said as she came in. "However, something else has come up."

"Oh?" said Jane. "What?"

"If you don't mind, Jane," Quinn replied, "I'd rather wait and tell Daria. It concerns both her and Richard."

"Oookaaay," said Jane. Then she smirked. "Now that you mention it something did come up, to use a turn of speech, last night concerning both Daria and Richard. Although I didn't find out about it until this morning." Her smirk grew bigger. "It seems that their relationship has moved to a whole new level."

"A whole new..." Quinn's eyes widened. "You're kidding!" She said. "No, wait: you're not kidding!" She looked up the stairs. "This is certainly going to complicate things, as if they're not complicated enough."

Jane followed Quinn's eyes up the stairs. "Too true," she said. "But that still won't stop me from gently ribbing my amiga about her finally becoming a woman! Or even managing to loosen up enough to allow nature to take its course." She gave Quinn a wicked grin. "Of course, it also helps that she managed to catch herself a truly extraordinary man, one who definitely meets Daria's admittedly high standards."

"Yeah," said Quinn. "But it's also sad, because they won't be able to stay together. Not unless something extraordinary happens, and somehow I don't think that's going to happen."

"You do have a point there," said Jane.

The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs drew their attention to the staircase again. They saw Daria and Rawlings, the latter carrying what looked like wadded-up bed sheets, come down the stairs. Both were dressed in their usual day clothes.

When they saw Jane and Quinn standing in the living area looking up at them they stopped. When they saw the faint smirks on their faces Daria began to blush, but Rawlings simply raised an eyebrow, as if he was challenging them to say something. When neither Quinn or Jane said something he shrugged, and, indicating the sheets, said, "I've just stripped these off of my bed. I'll go and put these in the tub in the laundry and let them soak for a while." With that, he calmly walked down the stairs and went towards the laundry.

Jane and Quinn watched him go, and then turned to face Daria, who was still standing on the stairs, blushing madly. "So, said Jane. "Do we congratulate you, or do we pity you?"

Daria's blush deepened. "You saw, didn't you?" she said.

"Well, I saw the aftermath of what obviously went on last night," Jane said. She smirked."Basically, you snuggled up nice and tight in Richard's loving arms, a blissful smile on your face." She and Quinn exchanged smirks.

"Can I go and die of embarrassment now?" said Daria. She continued down the stairs.

"What, you're not dying of embarrassment now?" said Jane. Her expression sobered. "Seriously, Daria, I don't know if I should be glad for you or feel sorry for you. If you know what I mean."

Daria reached the foot of the stairs and looked in the direction Rawlings had gone. "I think I know what you mean," she said. "However, we've decided to take this a day, if not a moment, at a time, and to treasure what time we have together." She looked at Jane. "Otherwise, I don't think I can really cope."

Jane reached out and pulled her best friend into an embrace. "Well'" she said, " all joking aside, you know I'll always be here to support you. And I think I'll be needed when he's left us."

"Surely you'll be able to keep in touch," Quinn said.

"Possibly," Daria replied as Jane released her. "But eventually he'll have to go back to his own world. After that we may as well be dead to each other. Which, come to think of it, is perhaps how I may best be able to cope with his going. And may explain how he must be coping with what is probably tearing him apart."

"What do you mean?" asked Quinn.

"Yeah," said Jane. "Just what do you mean by that?"

"In our world mortality rates were a lot higher in the Nineteenth Century than they are now," Daria responded. "So death was very much a fact of life for them. Witness Richard and Emma Harrison, who died of a fever when she was around Quinn's age. So they had a coping mechanism in that they believed that they would meet again in the next life. Which," she thought aloud, "now that I think about it, and am basically facing a similar situation, isn't a bad way of thinking about things. And who knows? There may well be something to that idea, especially given all the weirdness that's happened in the past few days. So, in order to cope, I guess I'll have to take up that mechanism, and hope that, someday, we will meet again.

"Another way they coped with that high level of mortality was to basically value every day. To have memories to cherish, to live life as full as they could. It showed in everyday objects, like a bootscraper or a doorknob, which were both functional and decorative."

"What has that got to do with you and Richard?" asked Quinn.

"If we store up as many cherished memories of each other that we can," Daria responded, "it will make the pain of when we eventually must part more bearable." She took a deep breath. "I suppose the best way for me to handle this situation is to put myself into the mindset of a young woman whose lover is off to the war, hoping that I'll be able to see my love again, but also knowing that the chances against that are not all that good."

"An interesting way to look at our situation, Daria," said Rawlings from behind her. They all looked at where the tall Virginian was standing. "And I suppose one that makes a great deal of sense." He came over and, standing behind her, put his arms around her and rested his chin on top of her head. He was rewarded by a sigh of contentment and her hands resting on his where they crossed over in front of her. "We could write each other," Rawlings said. "But you're also right that someday I will have to return to my own world. However, I have been giving this some thought, and I may be able to get a hold of something that may well help you in achieving what you're aiming for."

"What is it?" asked Daria.

"It's a letter," Rawlings said, "that I found out about when studying that other war. But I won't get a copy of it. Rather, I'll get you a reading of it that is so much better than reading the original for yourself." He let Daria go and straightened up. "I'll get it when we have lunch and, if you like, we'll play it tonight. Or, I'll give it to you and you can play it when you want to. Your choice."

Daria turned around and took Rawlings' hands in hers. "We'll listen to it tonight," she said and, standing as tall as she could, reached up to kiss him. "But I suppose we'd better have breakfast first."


Later That Evening...

They had had a most productive day at the library. Not only did they manage to find several accounts by residents of Sloane's Crossroads who had witnessed McLaws' division pass through, they had also found an account by one of the Sloane farmhands of the incident at Sloane Farm. When Tom Sloane arrived with the photographs the Sloanes were donating to the historical society, they showed him the account which pretty much verified what Tom had told them.

Now, having had dinner, they sat in Casa Lane's living area. Daria had taken a spot on the couch, while Jane and Quinn sat on armchairs. It was a sign of the growing closeness between the two siblings that Daria had asked that Quinn be present when Rawlings played on Jane's CD player, which had been hooked into the stereo system, the disc he had picked up in a music shop in Cranberry Commons. None of them knew just what the compact disc was of, until Rawlings had opened it after dinner. It turned out to be a compact disc that was a soundtrack of the well-known documentary series about the war.

Rawlings put the CD in the player, closed it and then advanced the disc to the last track. "This is the piece I mentioned," he said as he sat down next to Daria and put an arm around her. "It's quite beautiful, and expresses my feelings quite well."

The recording began with the sounds of marching feet and orders being given as a background. Then a voice came on:

A week before the battle of Bull Run Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the Second Rhode Island Volunteers, wrote home to his wife in Smithfield.

A second voice came on:

July 14,1861

Camp Clark, Washington DC

Dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. And lest I should not be able to write you again I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more.

Then, a violin came on. Daria and Jane immediately recognised it: Ashokan Farewell. Over it, the second voice continued:

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence can break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly with all those chains to the battlefield. The memory of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes and future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and see our boys grown up to honourable manhood around us.

If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have sometimes been!

But, 0h Sarah! if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you, in the brightest day and in the darkest night... always, always. And when the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath, or the cool air your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again...

The first voice came back on as the piece concluded:

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the First Battle of Bull Run.

The CD stopped. Rawlings looked at Daria, and then at the other two. All three young women had tears in their eyes.

He looked at Daria. "That is the sort of letter I might have written during the War," he said. "It expresses perfectly how I feel about this entire situation, but most of all, how I feel about you. And the last line expresses my belief: that, through the grace of the good Lord we will meet again, if not in this life then in the life that is to come." He bent down and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek.

Quinn dabbed at her eyes. "That has got to be the most moving piece I have ever heard read," she said.

"Yeah," said Jane, who was also dabbing at her eyes. "Why can't people write like this today?"

"I suspect it may well be the education that Major Ballou and I received," Rawlings said. "Plus writing was the only way we could communicate over long distances. No telephones or email. And the telegraph was reserved for important items." He looked at Daria. "Even though I shall be gone from you in body, I shall be with you in spirit: rest assured of that, my love."

Daria looked up at him through teary eyes. "That was beautiful," she said. "Both the letter and what you just said. I don't think I'll ever forget you."

"Nor I you," Rawlings said. "Nor I you."


Boston, Two Months Later...

Jane Lane opened the door and walked into the surprisingly large apartment she shared with Daria in Boston. "I'm back, amiga!" she said.

Daria's voice came drifting through the apartment. "I'm in the kitchen!" she replied.

Jane put down her backpack and looked around the large living area. Off to one side and positioned so that she could catch the best possible light streaming in through the large window was her worktable and easel. Not too far away, next to another window, was Daria's work area, which consisted of a writing desk and a computer desk, with a bookcase completing the arrangement. On the desk was a framed photograph, and on the pad of blotting paper that Daria used as a writing surface was a large envelope.

Jane knew the photo quite well. It was one of several that Jake Morgendorffer had taken of Daria and Rawlings at Schloss Morgendorffer on the night of the by now legendary family meal. It was one that had been taken by Jake after Daria had been slightly made over by Quinn, and the attraction between Daria and Rawlings was quite was clear to anybody who looked at the photograph.

Jane also knew that Daria kept in one of the desk's drawers, wrapped up in ribbon, every one of the letters Rawlings had sent her since he had left Lawndale. He had written at least once a week. Naturally enough, his letters were handwritten. It had interested Jane that Rawlings used a firm, clear Italic script that she knew many people who practised calligraphy would envy. In fact, she was envious of Rawlings' handwriting. What had astonished Jane was that Daria had insisted on handwriting her replies to the tall Virginian.

She was also astonished at Rawlings' talent as an artist. He had revealed this when she had shown him the sketch she had done of him dressed as a Confederate general on the ridge above Lawndale. He had nodded and said, "Nice. But that wasn't what I was wearing in those days, Jane." When Jane asked him what he had been wearing he smiled and asked her for the loan of a sketchbook and some pencils. Curious she gave him the requested items, whereupon he began to sketch out a very good rendition of himself wearing the uniform he had worn at Sloane Farm, complete with the little details that Jane's research had missed. Astonished, she asked him where he had learned to draw, and was further astonished to find that art had featured quite prominently on the curriculum at VMI. "Comes in handy when you have to draw a perspective of the countryside, or of a fortification," he had said, when she asked why a military academy had included art. "It was also a part of the curriculum at West Point," he continued.

Hanging on the wall over the desk were two frames. One contained the full text of Sullivan Ballou's letter, which Daria had found online, while the other was a closeup of part of the inscription on Sullivan Ballou's gravestone. Beneath his name, date of birth and death, it said, "I wait for you there. Come to me, and lead thither my children." Jane had initially been worried when Daria had shown her both the letter and marker, but, once she had read the letter, she understood just why Daria had looked for them. It was to help her prepare for the inevitable day when she received her last letter from Rawlings.

Jane thought back on the last couple of days Rawlings had spent in Lawndale. He had basically finished his researches in the area, but stayed for a while longer so that he and Daria would be able to treasure the time they had left together. The last night Rawlings had spent in Lawndale Jane had, quite tactfully, left Casa Lane and had stayed elsewhere, leaving Daria and Rawlings alone for the night. Although she would not give any details beyond their dressing up and going to Chez Pierre, Daria later told Jane that it was a night that would feature amongst her dearest memories.

Jane could see that for herself when, on the following day, both she and Quinn were present to see Rawlings off. The parting scene between Daria and Rawlings was so tender and sad that, by the time the tall Virginian had gotten into his car and driven away Quinn was in tears. Jane herself, although leaking water from her eyes as well, had been inspired to do a sketch from memory of the scene, which she later turned into a painting of Daria and Rawlings standing face-to-face, Daria's eyes full of tears and reluctant to let Rawlings go, yet knowing she must, with Rawlings, equally reluctant to leave, but also knowing he had to, doing his best to comfort her. She had put them in period costume, with Daria as a Southern lady farewelling her beau who was off to the war, and she had given it to Daria. The painting now hung in Daria's room, but the sketches Jane had made for it were still in her portfolio. Indeed, they had won great praise from her teachers at BFAC when she had shown them.

Daria's writing had also benefited from the brief presence of Richard John Rawlings in their lives. All of her teachers had agreed that her writing had matured over the summer break, acquiring a depth that was quite remarkable. In fact, as Jane knew quite well, Daria used her writing to work through her feelings about a situation, and that she had used the brief time she and Rawlings had been together as inspiration for several stories, some of which her teachers had suggested should be published. Daria had done this, and had received some critical acclaim for them. She was now known as the author of what one critic had described as "the wonderfully wickedly subversive Melody Powers stories which subtly send up the spy genre." That had helped Daria to cope with her separation from Rawlings no end.

Now that Jane thought about it, Daria's voice sounded somewhat more cheerful than it usually did. After living with her for so long Jane had learned how to judge Daria's emotional state through the semi-monotone she habitually used. "Good news?" she asked.

Daria came into the living area. "What makes you say that?" she asked.

"You sound somewhat more cheerful than you normally do," Jane said. "So, what is the news?"

In reply, Daria walked over to her desk and, picking up the envelope, pulled out of it some sheets of paper. "Some of the reviews of my latest story."

"You mean the one you were encouraged to submit to American Short Stories?" Jane asked. In reply, Daria handed Jane the sheets of paper.

Jane put down what she had been carrying and read what was on the sheets. As she read her eyebrows rose. "Wow!" she said. "You've knocked them dead this time!" She read from one sheet. "The author of the wickedly subversive and witty Melody Powers stories has decided to try her hand at a story which combines elements of the romance with more than a hint of the supernatural. Her story of a somewhat cynical and withdrawn young woman, who finds the love of her life, only to realise that she had fallen in love with a ghost, a phantom from another time and place, is a very well crafted take on a theme explored in works such as "Time and Again." D.M. Morgendorffer is most definitely an up and coming talent and this reviewer waits with great anticipation her first novel." Jane looked at Daria. "'Up and coming talent'," she said. "I think I can guess what you'll be doing after college."

"Not on the strength of one story," Daria said. "But it does the ego good." She shot a fond look at the photograph on her desk. "I guess that is another good thing I can thank having Richard in my life for, even though it was brief. Having loved and lost has helped in the writing department."

"And I'll have to admit that watching this, and being able to capture it, has also helped me in the painting department," Jane said. She indicated the reviews. "I take it Richard knows about the story?" she asked.

"Who do you think encouraged me to write it?" Daria asked. "And, when he read it, suggested I publish it?" She looked at the photograph. "He may come up to Boston," she said, "but isn't at present all that sure about what's going on."

"So you haven't received his last letter yet," Jane said.

"No," said Daria. "Not yet."


Several hundred miles to the south, in the withdrawing room of a large plantation house on the James-York peninsular, a tall, handsome man looked up at an identical copy of the photograph on Daria's desk. In his hand he held a copy of American Short Stories. On either side of him, looking not just at the photograph but the painting that was on the wall above the mantelpiece where the photograph stood next to another photo, this one in black and white, of a young woman in her Sunday best. Both she and Daria bore a strong resemblance to one another.

"So," said the larger of the two men. "I take it this is the remarkable young woman you met up North?" He was several years older than Rawlings and had a large, bushy beard, streaked with some grey, that went halfway down his chest. In his right hand he had a large cigar, and when he spoke it was with the accents of Georgia.

"It is," Rawlings replied. "And she is, indeed, remarkable."

"And I can see why you were attracted to her," said the second man. He was around the same age as Rawlings and also had a large beard. However, his was a reddish-brown. "She does have some of the same qualities as Emma Harrison," the younger man continued. When he spoke, it was with the soft accent of Virginia's gentry, but had a slight back country accent, as though the speaker had lived in the Middle Appalachian Mountains for much of his life.

"She does indeed," Rawlings replied.

"Well?" said the younger man. "Why aren't you with her now?"

Rawlings turned to face the younger man. "Because it really isn't possible that we can be together," he replied. "We're from two different worlds. It could never work out."

Just then an imposing black man entered the withdrawing room. "Forgive the intrusion, sirs," he said, " but something's come up that requires General Rawling's attention."

Rawlings looked at the black man. "Thank you, Sergeant-Major," he said. "I'll see to it right away." He turned to the two men. "If you'll excuse me?" he said and followed the black man out of the room.

The older of the two men slowly shook his head. "Damn, the man's stubborn," he said. "Considering the service he's given to our nation I'm sure that something could have been worked out. Particularly now that the Old Man's become President."

The young man looked at his companion. "But then, he does have that Virginian devotion to his duty," he said. "It is a character flaw that we are somewhat proud of."

The older man snorted. "Tell me about it," he said. "Especially after having spent the War as the only senior commander not from Virginia in an army dominated by Virginians." He looked at the picture. "Any idea where she was from?"

"Some place called Lawndale, I understand," the younger man said. "But she's now studying in Boston, which makes it somewhat difficult to find her."

"And we only have a name to go on," said the older man. He looked at the younger man. "He'll probably say we're sticking our big noses where they don't belong when he finds out what we're up to," he said. "He'll be right, but damn it! He deserves some happiness in his life." He raised an eyebrow. "You in on this?"

"Indeed I am," said the younger man. "And I think I can speak for Flora as well."

"Good," said the older man. He put his cigar in his mouth and puffed on it. "But how we'll go about this, I really don't know. Guess we'll have to wait for an opportunity to present itself. 'Till then, we wait and carry out our main mission. Agreed?"

"Agreed," said the younger man. They stood there and said nothing.

Fin. (For now)


Well! Now time for some acknowledgements!

First, to all of the guys and gals at the Paperpusher's Messageboard: thanks for all the comments and encouragement.

Thanks particularly to TAG for creating Scarlett and Roger, and to Brother Grimace for Kyle Amarlin and Paula Trainor. Thanks also to Nemo Blank for the idea of Trent working in a music shop and to Richard Lobinske for giving Grandma Barksdale a name.

If I have left anyone else out, thanks for the brilliant pieces of writing that have inspired this tale.

Legal Disclaimer: This is a piece of fan fiction written solely for my own bemusement and for the entertainment of others. Daria and others are the intellectual property of Viacom.