Lady Elena didn't have much family since her father passed away. She'd never known her mother and although she'd once had a brother, he died from scarlet fever at age five.
When he died Mr. St. James left the whole estate to his daughter; his only heiress, in hopes that she would carry on the family business of wheat crops and cotton. However, when the war began the land was overrun with soldiers of both factions and soon the fields where golden wheatgrass and fluffy balls of cotton once flourish grew barren and arid, seemingly never to grow anything again. The St. James homestead lost value and although it pained her to have to do it, Lady Elena sold the plot of land for pennies to a British 'prospector' who planned to make it into a courthouse for 'local affairs'. In other words 'war efforts and meetings'. It killed her to know her family home was either destroyed to build a new British stronghold or kept intact and made into one, but there was no way she could keep up with it in its current condition. What little inheritance she had was given away to pay off the land taxes and by the time she had done that she'd watched all the workhands leave with their heads hung low. Many of them were black men that her father, although not a sentimental man by any means, had taken pity on and hired to upkeep the land and crops. Her father was a hardworking man by nature, being brought up in Scotland. Although they weren't necessarily farmers Mr. St. James saw value in the crops the 'New world' provided. Cotton was useful for making clothes, always in demand, and wheat was used for bread and all other assorted food items. It seemed these two plants were to always be in demand; surplus crops. While he was alive the St. James land flourished. Learning business ethics through reading and talking to business men, Mr. St. James came to be a very successful but fair man, knowledgeable in his trade. The only problem was he never taught any of those skills to his daughter, perhaps thinking he'd live forever. Either way, Elena was left with a gigantic homestead and even larger payment plan. Without the knowledge on how to run things properly and successfully the business went under, even when she tried to employ the help of the workers to run things. The war only helped put an already dying beast out of its misery as it was the final straw to break the business apart. When the business began to owe more money than it was bringing in with its crops, it was time to shut it down and realize defeat. Elena sold the homestead while she was still able to make enough money to buy somewhere of her own. That was when she bought her new cottage. It was not any place spectacular or vivacious nor was it pretty to look at. It was small and quaint and quite a few miles from town but for some reason that made it a bit more appealing. Or at least that's what Elena kept telling herself every day for the first few months she lived there before she finally settled into the quiet and solitary lifestyle she lived now. There was the rare moment when she would see her neighbors from two miles down the valley road as they strode by in their carriage to go into town, or the occasional solicitor that came to post papers or posters written about the British loyalist or colonial loyalist actions, failures, or successes. Most of the time Elena merely skimmed the articles before throwing them on the fire. She cared not for the war or it's succession. She knew it was only a matter of time before it came to her doorstep and one day it did in the form of a young native man. Clad in colonial colors with a white hood embossed with an eagle, this young man seemed desperate for a place to hide away from the red clad soldiers chasing him. His hands were dirty and stained with blood, no doubt the blood of a man he'd just killed, and his eyes although dark and mysterious, pleaded in silence for sanctuary and understanding. Whether or not her reading of his intentions or reason were true she was unsure. What she was sure of was that she would not let him down. Now, here he sat in her cabin; her home, while she cooked him dinner and made him feel welcome. Oh fate, what a funny thing you are.
For a moment Elena sat wondering about if his people would do the same if the roles were reversed. She could remember the day when she and Ratonhnhaké:ton had met some years ago. They were young, naive, and full of curiosity of one another. She'd never seen anyone like him. Well, she had but only in books and those people were always half naked and wore feathers in their long unkempt hair as they danced around fires hooting and hollering like animals in heat. This boy was nothing like them. Sure, he wore the skins of animals instead of fine cotton made shirt and trousers, but he did not appear dirtier than the average young boy. In fact, he seemed cleaner and more well-kept than most of the young white boys she'd seen. He was also kinder. Most of the white boys she met were mean to her, pulling her hair, spitting in front of her and shoving her to walk in it, or throwing frogs or mud at her while laughing. The lady maids of the St. James house often said boys hurt the girls they like but Elena could not believe such a joke. How much sense did it make to hurt or humiliate a girl and think she'd feel utterly in love with you afterward? Even now in her older age Elena's neck hairs bristled whenever she thought of the stupid and silly things the little boys did to her. Even now, she still harbored a fear of frogs after finding huge slimy one in her lunch pail one afternoon and she ran home crying. However, for all her embarrassment Elena tried to not let it get to her. Boys were stupid and as time went on, the more parties and gatherings she went to with her father, she came to realize than most men weren't any smarter. In fact it seemed when it came to matters of women many of them never grew up or tried to grow up too much. Neither of which was desirable, unless you were a woman of lesser constitution who was lured in easily by wealth and power. Many of her friends had grown up and married men who were utter monstrosities merely because they were rich and well-to-do. She tried to feel sorry for them but she couldn't when she saw them walking about in fancy dresses, fake smiles upon their faces. All while the caked on make-up hid bruises and cuts from their husbands' drunken fits of rage the night before. No, she could not feel sorry for anyone who foolishly walked into a lion's den expecting not to get hurt. They were more than welcome to be 'happy' in their own stupid ways, but Elena was happy being alone, at least for now, or rather up until now.
Having Ratonhnhaké:ton-- or 'Connor' as he now called himself, in her home made her realize just how lonely she actually was. It had been months since she'd had a visit from anyone and although she'd kept herself busy during those months it now all became apparently clear that she was lonesome. She missed having someone to cook for and cater to. She missed being able to converse with someone other than herself; a feat of which was much of a relief since every time she did talk to herself she felt mad as a hatter for it. Most of all, she missed the company of another human being.
Regardless of the thoughts that swam through her mind, Elena kept on working to prepare a simple meal of soup once more. It wasn't nearly as hearty as last night's brew but she was already low on rations before Connor showed up. Still, tonight was a special occasion and regardless of how much she'd pay for it later, she would risk sparing the portions of meat and vegetables in favor of putting a good meal inside him. Chances were he'd lived off of horrible food made by meagerly trained military cooks, which specialized in everything slathered in grease or fat. However, he was a young man; an active man from the looks up his physique, which meant the horrible food had little effect on him externally. Some men often gained something of a 'belly' from eating too much bad cooking, but Connor seemed as fit and tight as a drum. Still, a thick and hearty stew would do him a world of good over a bowl of gruel. She's also spare little expense with the loaf of bread she had stowed away in the cabinet. It was a bit stale but had yet to be cut into, the crust would be nice and hard, great for dipping in a warm soup. She also had a bit of butter as well, not much, but just enough to share between them.
And of course, last but not least, the last bit of tea, but not just any tea, Jasmine tea. A rare delicacy she'd gotten from a friend who posted it to her from the orient. She'd only had a few cups of it before now and it was a luxuriously fragrant brew of calming sweetness. A well-earned feeling on a cold, damn, and frigid night such as this. Even though she sensed Connor disliked tea, she hoped that if she added a bit of sugar to it would be more tempting. Most men adored sugary tea, and so by all logic it should be easier to persuade him to drink it if it was procured with sweetness. Of course, if that didn't work she could simply make him drink it by giving him 'the look', but she hoped she wouldn't have to. It was nicer to watch someone do something on their own instead of being forced. Somehow it made it more enjoyable and experience for both parties.
When the stew was done she loaded two bowls with a decent helping, slicing two hardy pieces of the bread; each coated with a nice smear of butter, and she poured two cups of sweetened Jasmine tea. The air was blossoming with comforting smells as she walked the tray holding the small feast to the table and set it down. A sigh of pride escaping her lips as she smiled sweetly before sitting down opposite from where Connor stood. She nodded for him to sit and he did so as his eyes focused on the meal laid before him. She could tell he was slightly impressed and for that she was glad. No doubt it was about time he'd come upon some well-earned comforts and she was happy to provide it, even if it wasn't all that much.
Elena folded her hands gracefully and looked at Connor who looked back, his brow furrowed slightly, and she laughed softly.
"I know y'probably don't believe in it but y'are in m'house and here I pray to the Lord above to thank 'im for the bounty he's provided before us. It ain't much but still, it's worth thankin' him for." She explained calmly but Connor still didn't seem to get it, that or he was pretending he didn't. Either way, Elena wasn't going to waste too much time on the matter.
"If anythin' just humor me and fold your 'ands?" She asked politely and she watched as Connor duplicated her actions and folded his hands neatly before watching her in silence.
Satisfied, Elena began her prayer-- "Lord, thank you for providin' me with all that I own. Thank you for this wonderful bountiful meal laid before us, and for bringin' me such a wonderful guest. Please, bless this meal we're about to eat and bless us both as well. May your loving gaze be always upon us and may each day always remind us of your blessings.
With that Elena unfolded her hands and made the sign of the cross before looking to Connor who seemed utterly fascinated with her. She looked back at him with confusion for a moment before finally realizing he must have been fascinated by her prayer.
"I take it a lot o'the men y'board with don't do much prayin'?" She asked as she dipped her spoon into the steaming stew, taking it out to reveal a chunk of potato on board.
"They do, just not as well or out loud. Of course, when it comes to eating out on the battle field, praying for thanks of any kind isn't usually a first priority." Connor spoke truthfully as he took a spoonful of soup into his mouth. It was simple but it held taste to it, and again he was thankful to eat another meal that wasn't watered down, tasteless, and smelled awful.
"There's always time t'give thanks, Connor. No matter who y'pray to, there's always time. Don't become one o'those men who only finds his faith when he's dyin'."
Elena didn't want to preach as both politics and religion seemed to be ill tempered topics these days, but she just wanted to give him a bit of advice. Even if he didn't pray to the same God she did, he still had some form of faith in the Creator of his people. Otherwise he wouldn't be fighting on the losing side of the war thus far.
"So, I suspect the storm'll let up sometime in the night. Y'welcome to stay 'til dawn just t'be sure. No sense in rushin' out to die." Elena said, changing the subject as soon as the air grew eerily silent despite the rustling winds rattling the cabin. Connor didn't reply but nodded slowly in reply and for a long while as they ate they sat in silence. It wasn't quite the celebratory dinner she'd hoped for and in part Elena was disappointed. Of course, what did she actually expect, Connor wasn't exactly the talkative type, in fact it seemed even more obvious that he didn't even want to be there. He was only there because the storm wouldn't let him leave.
Despite her confidence the thought of the truth made Elena's heart sink as she fiddled with the spoon in her half eaten bowl of soup.