Title: Captain Stanwick’s Bride: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Historical Fiction; Regency Romance, War of 1812 Romance; Classic Historical Fiction; Clean Historical Fiction
“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?
Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.
When he entered the area set aside for the surgical services, Miss Spurlock was separating the injured based on the degree of seriousness of the injuries. Whit had witnessed more than one field hospital and the horrors the surgeons faced, often in a feeble attempt to save the wounded.
She motioned him deeper into the large tented area. Stepping over the legs of a man who had collapsed from exhaustion or injury, Whit was uncertain of which, he turned to haul the fellow up onto a cot. A sourness clung to the soldier, the distinct smell of a man suffering from dysentery.
Whit found himself holding his breath while he assisted in removing the man’s boots. “Someone will be with you soon. Can you tell me if you have an injury?”
The man shook his head in the negative, rolled to his side, and retched. Whit quickly turned away, his stomach churning violently as he heard the man dump the contents of his stomach on the ground. He slapped his hand across his mouth to prevent his own humiliation.
“Are you well, Captain?” Miss Spurlock asked softly. “Should we discover another to assist my father? There is no shame. This work is not for everyone.”
Whit fought hard to swallow a quick intake of fresh air, but the fetid smell was too strong. He rasped, “I can assist with the blood, seen more than my share of it, but not—”
“I understand.” She turned his shoulders toward where her father examined a man’s bloody wound. “Make yourself useful to my father.”
He forced the lead in his feet into movement, finally claiming a bit of air not laced with miasmic odors, but rather with the metallic scent of blood, something too familiar to every soldier.
“Good to have your strong arm, Captain,” Spurlock said as Whit approached. He had no doubt the surgeon had observed his reaction to the soldier’s vomiting. “I have presented the sergeant, here, laudanum, but, if I can claim any chance to save it, I cannot wait until it completely takes effect to start on the man’s hand. I ask you to hold him still so I may begin.”
“Just position me where you think best.”
Spurlock maneuvered Whit to lie across the man’s chest and down on the shoulder to hold the arm in place. The injured man’s shoulders flexed, but quickly slumped back against the wood table, covered with a sheet. Whit was beginning to understand that Spurlock was one who believed in cleanliness.
“Water, Beatrice,” Spurlock ordered as he unwrapped a cloth holding several sharp instruments.
In less than a minute, Miss Spurlock brought over a bowl of water, a bar of soap, and a clean rag. She positioned a small metal tray on the table’s edge and filled it with some sort of alcohol. Then she circled to where Whit laid across the injured man. “Open your mouth,” she ordered.
“Pardon?” he asked.
“Open your mouth,” she repeated. When he did as she asked, she popped some sort of thin stick in between his teeth. “Bite down.” She tapped his cheek, and he closed his lips around the item, using his tongue to position it in the corner of his mouth. Before he could ask, she explained. “Made of wood, not like the deer bone ones my Indian relations would use to clean their teeth, and dipped in oil of mint. The scent shall assist in disguising the more disgusting odors, and the taste will abet your unsettled stomach.” She winked at him. “Just do not permit the sergeant to punch you in the mouth while you hold him down. I understand passing a wooden pick in your stool can be quite painful.”
A chuckle escaped his lips as she walked away. “Your daughter possesses an unusual sense of humor, sir.”
Spurlock glanced to where Miss Spurlock had returned to the other side of the tent. “My Beatrice be of her mother’s temperament.” The doctor sighed in what appeared to be melancholy. “There are so many nuisances of a woman’s nature a man must learn to appreciate. I miss Elizabeth’s sharp wit.” Spurlock smiled knowingly. “Among many of her other fine qualities. You are married, Stanwick. Surely you know what I mean.”
Whit fought the blush of embarrassment rushing up his chest to his cheeks. “I am no longer married. Mrs. Stanwick passed some sixteen months prior.” He nodded to the faint line where his ring had been, surprised how quickly both the line and his memories of Ruth had faded. “I traded my wedding ring for blankets and food for my men on our journey from Buffalo.”
“Then President Madison’s declaration of war precipitated your arrival in America,” Spurlock observed as he arranged his tools upon the cloth before him.
“I had been presented leave from my time upon the Continent, for I had been with Wellington for some two years upon the Spanish Peninsula. I had been in England, perhaps, two months, when I received orders to the Canadian front. At the time, I did not expect to be doing more than attempting to keep the Indian fears over American encroachment at a minimum. I was not expecting how deep the resentment between the competing parties was until I arrived in Upper Canada.”
Ready to begin the operation, Spurlock, lost in his duties, simply presented Whit a curt nod: Whit was uncertain the man had heard anything of his response, but it did not matter. Whit looked on as Spurlock unwrapped the sergeant’s hand to expose the torn flesh hanging on the white bone, which was covered in dried blood and mud. Spurlock grumbled, “I wish the army would ban muskets. Damn gun explodes nearly as often as it fires.”
Whit glanced to the wound while he sucked on the mint pick. He could learn to enjoy the flavor. “Can you save the fingers?”
“Probably not the small one or the ring finger, but the rest.” Spurlock began to clean away the blood and dirt from the wound. “I must remove the bone fragments. Keep him still. This can be time consuming, but necessary. If I do not remove all the fragments, infection will set in.”
“I have nothing on my social calendar,” Whit said with a grin.
“Excellent news,” Spurlock murmured with an answering smile. “You do realize the man beneath you is an American soldier.”
“The war is between our countries,” Whit responded with a shrug.
What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
Tales of romance are an escape. They are hope. They bring readers into a community of like minds: A place where lifelong friendships grow and thrive. They provide validation that we are not alone in our desire to know another. To know happiness. They teach readers something of history and science and art and music—more topics than can be listed here. They increase vocabulary and views of the world. More importantly, romance novels serve as “therapy” when a reader requires a kind word or the knowledge of resiliency in trying times. Romance novels provide the perfect message: It is a universal truth that it is okay to be who you are, for there is someone else out in the world ready to love you.
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
Before focusing on “fixing” one’s partner, one must “fix” him or herself. Sometimes that is hard to accomplish if one has low self-esteem or one’s communication skills do not permit you to hear and respond to the needs of another, but to know success, doing so is essential.
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Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency, historical mysteries, and contemporary novels. Living outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, she is a retired English teacher and an often sought after consultant for media literacy and language arts, who spends her “down time” pulling weeds from her flower beds and spoiling her “grand joys.”
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors http://austenauthors.net
YouTube Interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzgjdUigkkU