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The Major's Tent

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In the penal colony of New South Wales, there were five men to each convict woman, and the soldiers needed their release soon.  Therefore, Major Curry created the list. Each soldier was assigned a number to pick his woman. The higher the rank, the sooner the pick.  Emma was chosen fifteenth by Corporal Thomas, a shy but loyal soldier with a gentle nature. He warmed up to her on the voyage over from England and professed his love to her.  He would watch her and take care of her in the hope that she would love him back. When he heard the news of the list, he instructed her to hide until his number was called to ensure she would be his.

 

The Governor oversaw the fidelity of this selection process and had the Captain document each pairing.  Major Curry’s eyes never left Emma as the remaining soldiers took their pick. When he approached Thomas and Emma,  the Corporal salutes. “As your commanding officer, I am asking you to share your woman with me. Two nights to start.  We will work out the exact details after my time with her tonight.”

 

The Corporal interjects, “But, sir, I have just chosen.”  His hand is holding hers firmly.

 

“Are you disobeying an order?” Major Curry questions.

“Sir, no, sir.” Thomas bellows.

“Then we are agreed.  I will entertain the lady this evening.”  Emma meets his eyes and sees something animalistic that stirs a warmth inside of her.

 

Thomas walks her to the Major’s tent not before pressing a light kiss to her temple.  She says, “It will be alright. Need not worry. I’ll return to you soon,” giving his hand a reassuring squeeze.  The arrangement would be harder for her if she were not so hungry.

 

Upon entering the tent she sees the Major standing to meet her.  She reaches for the laces of her corset when he says, “Stop. We can get to that later.  Please, sit and talk with me.” Offering her a spot of rum, Emma drinks reluctantly and winces after the burn hits her throat.  

 

Curry begins, “How many years are you serving?”

 

“14, boss.”

“That could be reduced to 12,  maybe 10, if someone were to vouch for your character. And, why are you here?”

“Because you told me to, boss.”

He rephrases, “What crime did you commit?”

 

She looks at him from the corner of her eye, then speaks.  “I was cleaning house for Lord Walgrave, and his silver went missing.  The footman told them it was I who did it, when I certainly did not. I was sent to the gallows, but at the last moment I was told that I would be coming here instead.”  Tears well at the corner of her eyes.

 

“You may go now.”

“Boss, I have heard the other women talk of extra food from their soldiers.  Are you going to give me food as well?”

 

“No.”

“And why not, boss.” she asks.

“To give you food is to imply that you are a whore, and I am certain that you are not.” Curry reaches up to brush her cheek lightly.

“Thank you, boss.”

“Yes, goodnight.”

 

She nods and starts to walk out of the tent when he says, “The crime you say you did not commit - I believe you.”

 

Her corporal is waiting for her on the beach. “Are you alright?  Did he hurt you?”

Emma replies, “No.  We just talked.”

“Talked?!”  Corporal Thomas looks hurts.  “I don’t want you to talk to him.  I would have rather him take you than talk.”

“But, why?”

“Do you not see I will lose you?  To talk to him is to know him, and I do not wish you to know him.”  He is gripping Emma by the shoulders.

Emma looks down, “Please, let us sleep.  I am very tired.”

“You can sleep in the barracks with the other convict women,”  Thomas spat the words at her and storms off through the sand back to his camp.

 

***

 

Major Curry sends for Emma the next night.  Corporal Thomas looks straight ahead holding the lantern to guide the way through the dark.  She gives him a sympathetic look that he does not return back to her.

 

“Ah, Emma.”  Major Curry is sitting at his writing desk with what appears to be a letter.

“Who are you writing to?”  Emma asks.

“My mother,” he lies and then breathes in and says,  “My fiance.”

“What is her name?”

“Ann.”

“Is she beautiful?”

“Yes.”

“Rich?”

“Yes.”

“Sophisticated?”

“Yes and ten thousand miles away.”

“I see,”  Emma replies looking down.

 

Walking over to her, Major Curry lifts her chin with his finger to meet his gaze. “Will you lay on the bed with me and talk.”  She nods and lies down on the bed on her back with her arms crossing over her chest. Feeling the weight of the bed shifting down next to her, he lies beside her.

 

After an awkward silence, Emma asks, “Why did you not take me last night?”

“I am a disciplined man.  These things take time.”

“Not for a woman like me.”

“Do you think I did not want to rip the laces of your dress and ravish you last night?”

“My soldier has had me at least 30 times since we came here,” she replies.

“Your soldier is a scared man.”

She turns her body to face him “He is kind to me.  He loves me very much.”

“And do you return his love?”

“I do not know.”

He brushes a strand of hair from her face. “And what you would desire more: the love of a scared man or the lust of a Major?

Emma pauses feeling something pull deep in her lower belly.  “I do not know.”

“I think you do.”  His mouth is on hers and she allows herself to soften to the kiss.

 

“Please, boss,” she moans into his mouth,

“Timothy,” he corrects.  

“Please, Timothy.”  His fingers are urgently unlacing her dress as he leaves a trail of kisses from her neck to her revealed decolletage.  Removing each of her stockings slowly, he feels her heat radiating. Emma slips down her breeches, and he reaches her sex already wet from want.  Pulling down his own garments, he positions himself between her legs. Their lovemaking carries them through the evening into the next morning.

 

“I must go.” Emma started out of bed seeing the dawn light.  “There are fires to light, food to cook.”

The Major pressed his hand firmly on hers. “You have no need to do those things.  Not anymore.

“But I am not to receive special treatment as your woman.  The others will turn on me.”

He sighs, “Well, then.  Not today at least.” He nuzzles his face into your neck.

Emma reveals a sad smile, “My soldier was right.  He has lost me.”