For the moment, I'll post the story here, but when Nate gets back, I'll get him to move the whole story to the 'Romantic' section.
This chapter is just about what Thomas is doing at the moment.
“You lazy scoundrel, I’m firing you from the regiment. My commanding officor needs me who will stand for the country, and don't mope around getting in our way. There is no use in keeping you on!” decided the officer of Thomas’s troop. Thomas was standing in front of the officer’s desk, his head hanging low, and he nodded.
What have I gotten myself into? My father isn’t going to be happy about this...I’ll probably lose my share of the estate.
These thoughts were going through Thomas’ head as he waited for the officer to hand him the papers he was shuffling.
“There, now good riddance!” Puffed the officer, slamming the papers down in front of Thomas, and throwing his hands in the air with an exaggerated sigh of impatience. Thomas bowed stiffly, and then quickly left the office, before his temper overcame his better judgment.
As he passed a fire just outside the office door, he threw the papers into it and watched them burn, the fire reflecting off his tired eyes. When the last sheet had disintegrated to mere ash, he turned on his heel, and without a backward glance, left the regiment for good.
A couple of young soldiers jeered at him loudly “Wot a lark! The old stodger can’t bear the discipline!” The ringleader remarked, jabbing with his thumb at the departing ex-soldier’s back. The rest of the group slapped their legs and howled with laughter.
Thomas clenched his jaw, and put his shoulders back resolutely as he went out the gate and onto the main road.
So preoccupied was he, with his head bent and his thoughts far away from the present, that he barely noticed a large carriage bearing down on him, until a wave of mud from the wheels of the splashed his suit, and an angry lash from the carriage drivers whip made him start violently, and he made a flying leap out of the way, and almost knocked down an old lady, who started protesting that he was trying to rob her. Mumbling an apology, Thomas raced down the sidewalk, and dashed into a quiet street nearby. With a sigh of relief, he leant against a signpost, and grimaced as he noticed his now rather crumpled and stained suit.
“Well, where do I go now? My parents won’t want me home yet” Thomas said out loud, resting his head against the sign post. A plump, middle aged woman in a calico bonnet and an overflowing grocery basket on her arm was coming up the lane. Thomas nodded at her absentmindedly, and continued to stare into the gutter, barely noticing his surroundings. The woman stopped, and put her hand on his elbow
"What is a young like you doin' out 'ear...I'd like to know...don't seem right..." she said, shaking her head bemusedly
"I don't know what I am doing here...and I don't know where I'm going, either" he replied, smiling ruefully down at her
“Young man, I have some rooms to let, if you would like a bed and board”, she said cheerfully, peering up into his surprised face.
“Why...thank you ma’m, but I don’t want to bother you” he stammered, tipping his hat to her.
“Oh, its no bother, and you can call me Ann. Oh bother, it will take a lot of scrubbing to get that out” she scolded good-naturedly, brushing busily at his muddy attire as she talked. Taking him by the elbow, she propelled him down the lane. He didn’t resist, but meekly followed her.
They stopped out the front of a small, but neat cottage, with a basket of flowers hanging in the front window. Ann unlocked the door, and went in. Thomas shrugged his shoulders, and stooped slightly, but not far enough, and nocked his head against the doorsill. He rubbed his head and gingerly sat on the edge of a rough but sturdy wooden chair.
Ann bustled around the kitchen, preparing dinner, while Thomas tried to read last weeks newspaper, and struggled vainly to forget Emily.
I wonder what she’s feeling now. How can I possibly get another letter to her? I wonder if she even received the first one I sent. I’d like her to know that her parents are well though...
Thomas sighed, rather loudly, and Ann looked up from the potatoes she was peeling.
“Wots the matter, young man? Missing your g.irl? I’m sure she’ll be alright” she said firmly, little knowing what affect those words had on the sad young man.
“No, she’s not! She’s on her way to Australia, and I can’t do anything about it!” He said fiercely, slamming his fist on the table, and making the cutlery dance.
“Oh, I’m sorry...Me old mind isn’t the best.” said Ann, looking ashamed.
“Never mind...I shouldn’t have yelled...it’s not your fault” he said, then abruptly got up and went outside to pace in the garden, until the dusk came, when he ate a silent supper before departing to bed, for a sleepless night.