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Oh Captain, My Captain

Chapter Text

Washington, D.C.
August, 1864

~*~

He saw her at the train station.

She wasn’t a passenger though. Far from it, really.

Unaffected by the excited crowd that had gathered outside the station platform, she continued to tend to a horse that was fastened to a hitching post. The sky blue dress she wore stood out against the dusty brown streets around her.

“Sam.”

She placed items in a saddlebag before giving the beast a hearty pat on the neck. She smiled ear to ear with a laugh as the horse nudged at her. She reached back into the saddlebag, producing an apple, rewarding the horse with a snack.

“Sam!”

She had dark brown hair that reminded him of the chocolate bars sold by the general store. Loose strands trailed against her pink cheeks, having fallen from the sleek bun her hair had been tied into.

“Samuel!”

The girl loosened the reigns from the hitch and hoisted herself up effortlessly into the saddle of the horse. The horse was dappled palomino with a blonde mane and tail, so blonde it was nearly white.

“Captain Beckwith!”

Jolted from his staring, Captain Samuel Beckwith turned where he stood on the platform to acknowledge the caller of his name.

“For heavens sake, man - get a move on!” said Lieutenant Grant, shoving past him.

“Yes, Lieutenant.” Sam replied, his fingers flexing around the wooden crate he held in his hands.

“Not as big of a crowd today, eh Beckwith?” came another voice from behind Sam. A dark haired main with a bushy moustache sidled up alongside him, clutching a leather folio to his chest.

“Definitely not as big as the crowd at Cleveland, Major Eckert.” Sam replied to the man.

“All the better I suppose.” Major Thomas Eckert sighed with a slight shake of his head.

“At least they’re dispersing.” piped up a blonde haired man trailing behind the Major.

“Yes. They’ve realized the President isn’t with us.” Thomas deduced as the men trailed down the steps of the station and into the dirt.

“What were you staring at anyways?” Thomas asked Sam. Sam looked back up the dirt road, seeing only the retreating backs of the onlookers leaving the station. Of course the girl was long gone by now.

“Just caught up in thought, that’s all.” Sam hastily replied. Thomas gave a brief nod of his head before turning the blonde man behind him.

“Hurry up Albert. The office is this way.” Thomas said, jerking his head to the right.

Up the street, Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant was speaking with a fair haired man in fine dress.

“About time.” Grant huffed as the trio approached the men. “Bring the telegraph in here Captain. We must set up post-haste.” Grant instructed Sam. Sam nodded and hurried inside the building, where he and Albert quickly began the process of setting up their telegraph.

It had been a busy summer for both Sam and Colonel Albert Chandler. Not only was their beloved country in the middle of a war, the two young gentlemen were employed as members of the United States Military Telegraph Corporation. One might say their job was trivial. But simple messenger boys they were not. Albert and Sam were some of the few tasked with sending and receiving coded messages on behalf of many high ranking military members. Even messages to and from the President himself - Mr. Abraham Lincoln.

Thomas said a few departing words to Grant and the other man before coming over to Albert and Sam, laying his leather folio next to the telegraph.

“Make yourselves comfortable boys.” Thomas said, settling himself into a chair behind a desk. “I have a feeling we’ll be stationed here for quite some time.”

~*~

It was nearly two weeks before he saw her again.

He nearly shot up out of his chair at the sight of her through the telegraph office window.

This time she wore a faded blue plaid shirt with a brown skirt. She came in to town driving a plain cart, pulled by the same horse as before.

He casually stood from his seat at the telegraph and wandered closer to the window, pretending to be in need of a drink. The coffee was cold by now, but that was of no matter to him. He breathed a puff of breath onto the coffee pitcher before rubbing at the spot with his sleeve, clearing a piece of reflective surface before considering his appearance in the reflection.

Sam didn’t consider himself a typically handsome man. With a long pale face, large ears and nose, and full lips - he rarely turned the heads of the young ladies in town. Not to mention he was tall and gangly too. He ran a hand through his dark hair, feeling thankful to have shaved recently.

“I’m headed up the street.” Sam announced to Albert as he placed the coffee pot back down the table.

Albert looked up quizzically from the book in his hand.

“What for?”

“We’re low on ink.”

“No we’re not. There’s a whole -”

But Sam had already left the office.

He straightened his navy jacket as he strode up the street, issuing mumbled responses to those who greeted him as he made his way towards the general store.

The bell above the general store door gave a twinkle as the door swung open and SHE emerged. She smiled and laughed at something being said to her from inside the store before shifting the large sacks of feed in her arms. He watched her walk around to the back of the cart, doing her best to hold onto the sagging burlap bags. He darted out into the street, dodging an incoming horse as he hurried over to her.

“Here.” He croaked hoarsely as he extended a hand. “Please allow me to help.”

He reached out a hand to support the bottom of one of the bags that draped over her arm. Startled, her eyes immediately found his, wide with appreciation. Her eyes were a dazzling hazel, gold surrounded by pale green. A dusting of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose and onto each of her cheeks, which by now were flushed pink.

“Oh!” The girl said, stepping back to allow Sam to place the feed bags into the back of the cart for her. “Thank you Officer.” She gave a light, nervous laugh. “Even the shop-keep told me I couldn’t manage to load them on my own.”

“Captain.” Sam said as he straightened.

“Pardon?” The girl repeated.

“You said Officer. I’m a Captain.” Sam corrected her. “Captain Samuel Beckwith.” The flush on the girls cheeks deepened.

“Forgive me, Captain. I’m afraid I’m not very well versed with badges and ranks.” She apologized.

“That’s quite all right. No offense taken.”

The girl offered a smile at this.

“Were you in need of any further assistance Miss….” He trailed off and paused as he awaited an introduction.

“Oh! Mary!” The girl said quickly. “My name is Mary. Mary Morgan. Though my friends call me Rey.”

“Rey?”

“Yes. It’s silly, I know. But some of the younger children at the orphanage found it hard to pronounce a name even as simple as mine. They’d say it as ‘Mare-Rey’, and the nickname ‘Rey’ sort of stuck after that.” She gave another nervous laugh.

“Ah. So you work at the orphanage?” Sam questioned. Rey’s smile faltered for a moment.

“Oh… Um… No sir. I… I grew up there.”

“My apologies.” Sam said, drawing his mouth into a firm line. ‘Way to go’, he thought to himself. Could this first impression of himself get any worse?

“No need for apologies. How could you have known? We’ve only just met.” Rey gave him a sad smile, helping to ease his embarrassment. “I actually work for an elderly Indian woman who owns her own land - just on the outskirts of town.”

“I’m afraid I don’t get much time to explore outside. My job keeps me inside most of the time.”

“What exactly is it that you do?”

“I work in the telegraph office.”

Sam prepared himself to see a look of disapproval in Rey’s face. What kind of noteworthy military man worked in the TELEGRAPH office? Surely a CAPTAIN had to have been involved in a great victory out in the battlefields.

“The telegraph office?” Rey whispered, a glimmer of intrigue in her eyes. “I’ve always wondered how those have worked!”

Sam puffed out his chest with swelling pride.

“It takes a skilled hand to master.” Sam explained. “One needs quick hearing, nimble fingers, and neat handwriting. Especially when receiving an important message for the President.”

Rey’s eyes became even wider at the mention of the President.

“THE President? You transcribe for the PRESIDENT?”

“This is Washington after all.” Sam said, with an amused chuckle. “In fact, my associates and I arrived in town just a few weeks ago from the Presidential re-election tour.”

“I’ve never known anyone who works for the President before. Until I began working for Maz, I usually was kept so busy at the orphanage, helping look after all the children.”

“Sounds like you’re a very busy woman Ms. Morgan.”

Rey blushed once again and tucked a strand of her hair behind an ear as she bashfully looked down.

“You may call me Rey.” She said, glancing back up at him. Sam could feel his ears warm underneath his hair, grateful that his hair was long enough to shield them from her. A smile twitched at the corner of his mouth.

“Tell me Rey… Do you often come into town?” He asked hopefully.

“Typically when Maz needs supplies I’ll come into town. Perhaps twice a month, maybe more.”

“Well, if you find yourself with a free moment on your next visit, I’d be more than happy to show you around the telegraph office.” Sam offered to Rey. She beamed at his invitation.

“I certainly will Captain” she affirmed with a nod.

“You may call me Sam.” He said with a smile. “If you wish.” He added. Rey’s face tinted pink.

“Thank you Sam.” She said. She gathered up her skirt in one hand and moved past him towards the front of the cart. She easily hoisted herself up into the drivers seat of the cart and reached for the reigns.

“It was a pleasure to meet you Sam.” Rey said, giving him a warm smile before she flicked the reigns against the horses back and the cart lurched forward.

“Safe travels.” Sam said, giving a brief wave goodbye as the cart departed.

As he made his way back to the telegraph office, his mind and heart soared with the prospect of getting to see Rey again. It wasn’t until he had reached the doors of the office that he realized both Albert and Thomas had been watching him the whole time, smiles stretching across both their faces.

~*~

September 1864

~*~

True to her word, Rey arrived to town at the by the end of the first week of the new month. She came in on horseback, hitching the horse to a post across the street from the telegraph office. Timidly, she opened the door to the office before stepping in. Under a light blue sweater she wore a yellow shirt and the brown skirt from before with her hair up in its usual bun. The wooden legs of Sams chair scraped noisily against the floor of the office as he abruptly stood upon her entrance.

“Rey.” He said, nodding in her direction. “You came.” Next to him, Albert cheekily grinned.

“Hello Sam.” Rey said as she awkwardly stood in the entry of the office. “Is this a bad time? I can always call again later.”

“No! No.” Sam said, shaking his head. “We’re not busy.”

“Not at the moment.” Albert chimed in. Albert stood and approached Rey as she shut the door behind her.

“Colonel Albert Chandler. Pleased to make your acquaintance miss.” Albert said, bowing his head slightly to her.

“Mary Morgan. Nice to meet you.” Rey introduced herself politely.

“What brings a woman such as yourself into our base of operations?”

“Last I was in town, Sam here offered me a tour of the office.”

“Is that so?” Albert asked, turning his head to acknowledge Sam. “There’s not much to see.” Sam pushed past Albert, his broad shoulders nearly knocking him into the Majors desk.

“Don’t mind him. What would you like to see first?” Sam asked Rey.

“The telegraph machine, please.”

“Over here.” Sam said, extending a hand towards a pair of tables in the back of the office. Sam let Rey walk in front of him while he trailed closely behind.

The telegraph was nothing more than a thick block of wood which was imbedded with pieces of metal and wires. Several inkwells, pens, and pieces of parchment were littered nearby. Some of the papers had the official Presidential seal stamped at the top.

Rey touched the back of chair in front of the table and looked back at Sam curiously.

“May I?” She asked.

“Please.” Sam offered, pulling the chair out slightly for her to sit in. She smiled at him as she gathered her skit and settled down in the chair.

“So…. You just wait around until messages come in?” She asked. Sam tilted his head back and forth thoughtfully.

“Some days. There is a lot more to correspondence than you’d think.” Sam said with a nod. He indicated a pair of papers out to her. It had the letters of the alphabet listed with a series of dots and dashes.

“What’s this?” She asked, touching the edge of the paper with a fingertip.

“Morse code. It’s how we translate the messages to other telegraph offices.”

“How very interesting!”

There was a sudden buzz from the machine in front of her. Issuing a gasp of surprise, she then jumped out the seat - startled. Sam swooped in immediately.

“Not to worry, just an incoming message is all.” He said as he settled into the seat.

He went straight to work, grasping at a pen and pulling a piece of paper towards him. He jotted down each letter carefully as the buzzing continued from the telegraph, pausing every so often. Albert rounded the other side of the table as Rey looked on.

“Is it from Sherman?” Albert asked. Sam did not answer, as he was concentrating on his scribbling. The buzzing ceased almost as quickly as it began.

“ ‘Atlanta is ours, and fairly won’.” Sam read aloud, leaping from his seat.

“We must tell everyone at once!” Albert cried, thrusting a fist in the air in triumph.

“This is a great victory for the North! Excuse me, Rey.” Sam said. Rey nodded in understanding.

“Of course! Oh, just wait until my friend Rose finds out I was here when the news was received! She will be green with envy!”

Albert had already flung open the office door and rushed into the street.

“We have taken Atlanta!” He shouted. “Atlanta is ours!”

The townspeople flooded out of stores and began cheering. Albert clapped Sam on his back as the men stood side by side outside the office. Other officers swarmed them in a rousing manner of celebration.

“Come join us Miss Morgan!” Albert called inside the office to Rey. “Drinks at the saloon on me!”

“Oh no, I couldn’t! It’s not proper for a lady-”

“Bah! Who cares? We’re CELEBRATING!”

“We took Atlanta!” Someone cheered.

“For the North!” Someone else shouted.

Sam broke away from the other officers and approached Rey where she stood in the doorway of the office.

“May I see you again Rey?” Sam asked her, his normally pale face flushed with adrenaline - his hair falling slightly in his face. Rey blushed and she batted her brilliant eyes up at him.

“I’d like that very much Sam.” She answered.

A crooked grin broke out on Sam’s face.

“I ought to get back to the farm and tell Maz the good news!”

“Yes! Tell everyone you see on the way!”

“I will!”

Rey hurried past another group of rowdy officers to get to her horse.

“Rey!” Sam called after her.

She turned on the saddle as she took the reigns in hand.

“Yes Sam?”

“You’re welcome at the office anytime. Anytime at all!”

Rey blushed once more and bashfully smiled at him.

“Until next time, my Captain!” Rey called back to him before kicking her horse into a swift trot and galloping out of the town.

Chapter Text

October 1864

~*~

Rey rode up on horseback to the cabin at the back end of the property. Chewbacca Farms was a renowned tobacco plantation. Rey never knew exactly why the property was renowned. Surely it wasn’t the size of the crops or how many people the property employed. She suspected it had something to do with its owner - Maz. Women rarely ran plantations, and one ran by an Indian woman was never heard of. But the property had been left to her by her late husband - and that was good enough for the law as far as Maz was concerned.

Rey hitched her horse to the post and reached into the saddlebag for a paper bag of provisions to bring inside to Maz. Maz was in the kitchen, as she was most days. A short woman, Maz stood on a milking stool to reach the countertop where she was in the process of chopping up rabbit meat for tonight’s stew.

“Afternoon Maz.” Rey said as she placed the paper bag on the counter next to a pile of vegetables.

“Good Rey. Just in time.” Maz said. “Help me with the vegetables.”

Rey grabbed an apron from the cupboard beneath the sink and tied it around her waist. She stood next to Maz, still an inch or two taller than the woman, and reached for a carrot.

“So.” Maz said, getting straight to the point. “You see man again in town?”

Rey immediately paused in her cutting, her cheeks burning red.

“How did you know there was a man?” Rey asked. Maz just smirked.

“Maz knows.” Maz simply replied. “No girl make that many trips to town without man involved. Farm has enough chicken feed for two winters now!”

Rey bit her lip and bowed her head sheepishly. Maz laughed.

“Tell me about man.”

“Well…. He is very smart. A Captain from the military. He’s stationed at the telegraph office.”

Maz hummed and nodded as she dumped a handful of rabbit meat into a black pot.

“Ah! Smart man. Smart man good for Rey.”

Rey blushed again.

“My Charles.” Maz said, placing a hand over her heart and staring up at the ceiling as if she was gazing into the heavens. “My Charles strong man. Tall like bear. Wooly like bison. Many say white man have no reason to be with Indian woman. But I like what I like. And Charles like what he like. Love make everything work in the end.”

“Oh Maz…” Rey said, cupping chopped carrot into her palm and adding it to the pot. “I don’t know about love….”

“Hush!” Maz said firmly, shaking a finger at Rey. “Maz sees change in Rey. Maz knows.” She repeated.

Rey looked back down at the vegetables she was cutting, thinking back at the past few weeks. She had gone to town at least twice a week for over a month. Sometimes Sam would accompany her to the general store, the butchers, or the stables. Once he even bought her a bag of penny candies - a rare treat she never got to experience as a child having lived in the orphanage. She still had half the bag left, insistent on savoring each one as a memory of the gesture.

Other times she would sit in the telegraph office, enraptured by how flawlessly and swiftly he answered and received messages. Albert and Major Thomas often sat back and watched the pair, grinning between themselves while occasionally ribbing Sam about teaching a woman the telegraph. Rey was slowly learning a few of the letters as Sam would go about his correspondence.

“That was…. An ‘L’?”

“Close.” Sam said, as he tapped away at the telegraph. “A ‘D’. You missed the dot at the beginning. You’ve just got to listen very closely.”

“This is too complicated. I don’t know how you do it!” Rey huffed, crossing her arms in frustration.

“It’s because his ears are so big!” Albert had teased from across the room. This caused Sam to flush with embarrassment, the tips of his ears turning red as they peeked out from his thick, dark locks.

“Oh hush, Albert.” Rey had chided. “I think his ears are handsome.”

Her comment drew snickers from Albert and Major Thomas and a murmured thanks from Sam.

“Place the pot on the stove Rey.” Maz instructed, bringing Rey back from her thoughts.

Rey obliged, dusting the last bit of parsley from her hand and into the pot before hefting it to the stove. Maz had mentioned love. Rey certainly liked Sam. But love? He was a kind man though. Rather quiet at times, but when conversing on a topic he was particularly passionate about it, he could go on for hours. He had seen so much more of the country than her, having traveled on the President’s re-election campaign train. The stories he would tell her made her believe in a better world out there, beyond Washington. Beyond war.

She would be lying if she said she didn’t imagine the two of them living in a bright future together. The military could take them anywhere. Maybe somewhere in the plains out west. Flat, golden lands with soil ripe for farming. Or perhaps the mountains, lush with green trees and snow capped peaks. Rey could even learn to love a city such as New York, a bustling hub of business and streetcars.

Rey added to the fire under the stove with the sticks Maz handed her.

“What smart man name?” Maz asked as she handed the spoon to Rey to stir the pot.

“Sam.” Rey answered, a hint of a smile on her lips.

“Maz want to meet this Sam.” Maz declared, hands on her hips.

“He is very busy Maz.” Rey explained. “He works for the President.”

“If Sam really smart man, Sam can find time to call on Rey. Then Maz give sign of approval.”

“Maz….” Rey whined, embarrassed.

“No. You listen to Maz. Rey young lady. Young ladies go and get married. Maz want to make sure Rey will be happy one day.”

Rey sighed and rolled her eyes when Maz wasn’t looking, lest she be scolded. “Yes Maz.” She reluctantly replied as she went back to tending to the stew.

~*~

The following week Rey stopped by the tailors on her way into town to see Sam. The shop was ran by a family of emigrants from the East, the Ticos. Their daughters Paige and Rose helped them sew the clothes as well as take the measurements from the customers.

“Hello Rey!” Rose greeted Rey as she walked inside. “What brings you in today?”

“Oh… You know…” Rey trailed off as she admired the dress forms. “Just running some errands.”

“You mean seeing that handsome officer of yours?” Rose teased with a grin.

“He’s a Captain. And yes. I figured I’d stop by while I was here.” Rey said, hoping the pink in her cheeks wasn’t too noticeable. She could tell it was though, judging by the look on Rose’s face.

“How lucky you are.” Rose sighed. “I wish I had a handsome suitor of my own. All the dresses I make end up being worn on nights out to the theater, and I sit at home alone with my needlepoint.”

“After sewing all day, you’d think you would tire of needles!” Rey laughed.

“How right you are.” Rose sighed again. “Shall I see you in town again for the election?” She asked, changing the topic.

“Oh yes. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Do you think we’ll get a chance to see him? President Lincoln?”

“I surely hope so. Perhaps if we arrive early enough we may get a spot close to the front.”

“He is so tall though, we might even be able to see him from the back of the crowd!” Rose laughed. Rey laughed along with her before wishing Rose a good day and heading off towards the telegraph office. Her pace increased as she weaved in and out of the passing townsfolk and officers that milled about the center of town. Giddy, she skipped the last couple of steps to the door and swung the door open.

The sight before her was not one she was expecting. The usually sparse office was filled with at least six additional men. Every single head turned towards her. Sam stood up in the back of the room, his worried eyes quickly meeting her panicked ones.

“Miss, this is a military telegraph office.” Said a gentleman to her right. “You have no right to be in here.”

“All is well Grant. We were about done.” Spoke a deep voice from behind Sam. Rey paled as the sea of men parted, allowing her to see into the back of the office where a bearded man in a fine suit sat. A stovepipe hat was perched on his lap.

“As you wish Mr. President.” The first man grumbled, shooting Rey a nasty look.

“I… I am so sorry to intrude!” Rey quickly apologized, trying to steady her voice.

“We can discuss the matters further tonight at the White House. Gentlemen?” Abraham Lincoln spoke to the several men of varying rank. There was a murmur of agreement and hushed pleasantries as the men filed out of the office past Rey. She held her head down, hands clasped in front of her. She did not look up at the men, but she knew they were staring curiously as they left. When the door shut, Rey looked up and over at Sam. To her surprise, the President remained seated behind Sam at the desk reserved for Major Thomas.

“What is your name young lady?” The President asked of her.

“Mary. Mary Morgan.” Rey spoke. A soft smile crept onto the Presidents face.

“My wife’s name is Mary.”

“Oh I know sir.” Rey replied with excitement. “Though my friends call me Rey.”

“Rey…” The President said. He drummed his fingers along the brim of his hat in his lap. “That’s very unique. I quite like it.”

“Mr. President, I apologize for the interruption.” Rey blurted. “Captain Beckwith extended an invitation to me to come by the office whenever I was in town and I - I never meant to bother -”

“It’s all right Miss Morgan. I’m sure Captain Beckwith here is pleased to see you.”

Rey peeked over at Sam, his face reddening with embarrassment.

“Yes, Mr. President. I am.” Sam answered, staring at Rey while he spoke. Rey blushed.

“Send Colonel Chandler with any correspondence you may receive tonight to the White House.” Abraham said to Sam as he stood from behind the desk. He was nearly as tall as Sam. Rey could feel her knees begin to wobble and shake underneath her skirts from nerves.

“Of course Mr. President.” Sam replied, saluting Lincoln as he made his way past Sam. He paused before Rey, looking down at her with a twinkle in his warm brown eyes.

“I hope to see you again Miss Morgan. Though perhaps not at one of my briefing sessions.” He said with a hint of a smirk. Rey nodded her head vigorously.

“Ye- Yes sir. Yes Mr. President.” She answered breathlessly.

The President placed his hat atop his head before tipping the brim ever so slightly at her as he exited the office where several of his men were waiting for him. Rey exhaled a held breath as the door clicked shut. Sam was by her side in an instant.

“Rey! I am so sorry. I know I told you were welcome anytime. The President… He never comes in during the day. This was unexpected.”

“It’s all right Sam. It’s not your fault.” Rey said to Sam. She placed a hand on his forearm to assure him of her words. He glanced down at her touch before meeting her gaze. His eyes softened and his lips twitched upwards.

“I would say the President likes you!” Sam said with a laugh.

“Thank goodness for that!” Rey laughed. “If I could vote for him I would!”

“Rey…” Sam said, suddenly reaching for her hand. His large hands nearly enveloped her dainty ones. For a moment he let his fingers run across hers, slightly calloused from her work on the farm. “Would you allow me to accompany you to town for the election?”

Rey swallowed deeply as she nodded.

“Yes Sam. Of course.”

Sam’s smile spread across his face and he let out a breath of relief.

“Perfect. I shall arrive by suppers end.”

~*~

November 1864

~*~

Rey could hardly eat her supper she was so nervous. Maz continued to pile food onto her plate.

“Rey need to eat.”

“But Maz, I’m afraid I shall be ill!”

“Eat!!!” Maz insisted, pushing the plate of food closer to her. Rey sighed and tore into a piece of cornbread, popping the piece into her mouth.

“Happy?” Rey asked once she had swallowed the food.

“Almost.” Maz said, a glint in her arm as she cleared the rest of the dinner table. A sharp rap at the door made both the women jump. Rey made to stand but Maz pointed at her to keep sitting.

The tiny woman headed towards the door, grabbing the shotgun that was propped against the doorframe.

“Maz!” Rey hissed as Maz flung open the door.

Sam stood fully tailored in his military suit on the porch of the cottage. His eyes slightly widened at the sight of the wrinkled Indian woman in front of him with one hand on the doorknob, the other on her gun. But he did not falter.

“Evening ma’am.” Sam said, removing his hat politely. “I’m here to escort Miss Morgan into town.”

Maz gave Sam a once over, squinting her dark, beady eyes at him as he wrung his hat in his hands.

“Rey, you not tell Maz smart man so tall!” Maz quipped to Rey. Rey placed her napkin on the table and stood, hands clasped in front of her.

“My Charles was tall.” Maz said to Sam. “I like you.”

Sam’s face flushed red as Rey hurried over, grabbing a knitted shawl off a hook near the door.

“Don’t be out too late! Plenty of work to be done in the morning!” Maz said, gesturing with the gun.

“Yes ma’am. Thank you.” Sam said. He held out his arm for Rey and she happily looped her arm within his.

Sam had borrowed cart from Major Thomas to come pick her up. On the way back they discussed horses. Unlike Rey’s horse, Lady - the horse Sam had acquired during his time during travels with the President was a stubborn stallion by the name of Buell.

“He’s a beautiful horse, but always getting loose from the hitch and wandering off.” Sam said as he flicked the reigns across Buell’s back. Buell snorted, as if he knew he was being spoken about.

“I think he’s lovely.” Rey said, scooting closer to Sam in the seat of the cart. Sam smiled at her.

“Come, we’ll take the route this way. Avoid the crowds.”

“Do you really think it a possibility for McClellan to win?” Rey asked.

“Hard to say. With the war going on, those who have seceded from Union are unable to vote. And on top of that, there are still plenty of people out there who disapprove of Mr. Lincoln and the good he has done.”

Sam sighed.

“I wish for there to be a good outcome tonight. We shall only see.”

The cart pulled up behind the telegraph office and Sam jumped out, coming around to help Rey down from her side, offering his hand out to her. Arm in arm he escorted her into the telegraph office by means of the back door.

The office was packed with people, both men and women. The gas lamps were all lit and there was a general buzz of anticipation in the air.

“Ah! Captain Beckwith! There you are!” Said the grumpy man from before. The man eyed Rey, curiously.

“Lieutenant, you remember Miss Mary Morgan?”

“Yes, though I never got your name young lady. Ulysses S. Grant.” Grant said, tipping his hat politely to her.

“How do you do?” Rey asked the Lieutenant.

“As good as I can be. Tired, to be honest. Tire from the war. Tired from this election. Doesn’t do my health any good.” Grant grunted. “But as long as there’s whiskey, I’ll be rightly fine.”

Sam offered a chuckle and nodded at the Lieutenant before escorting Rey further into the office. Albert and Major Thomas were perched around the telegraph machine. Stacks of papers covered nearly every inch of the surrounding desk and tables. A young officer dashed in the front door, out of breath from running. He held a scrap of paper in his hand.

“The furloughed results!” The officer said, as he handed the paper to Major Thomas. Albert went straight away to tapping away at the telegraph.

This pattern continued as more results were sent in over the telegraph. Rey stood back as she watched Sam and his coworkers sift through papers, organizing them into stacks based on which state they were from. So far McClellan had won New Jersey - his home state - as well as in Delaware and Kentucky.

“How many left Chandler?” Lieutenant Grant asked.

“Waiting on three sir!” Albert replied.

While awaiting the results from the western states, the crowd socialized with each other. Women wearing fancy dresses and hats, the officers all in their navy uniforms. Rey was introduced to many an important person in the office tonight. The night was becoming one of the fanciest occasions she had been to, and it all couldn’t be possible without her dear Captain.

The telegraph buzzed and Albert and Sam went back to work deciphering the communication while the crowd waited with baited breath.

“Is that it?” Major Thomas asked as Sam handed him a list of compiled numbers. Sam nodded. Major Thomas carefully read the document.

“He has done it! The President has been re-elected!” Major Thomas announced. The office erupted in cheers. The news was shouted out to those waiting in the streets. Albert immediately began alerting the results through the telegraph. Sam moved past the crowd and over to her, reaching for her hand and pulling her closer to him. He grinned at her.

“What a celebration! Long live Lincoln!” Sam said, spinning her around. She laughed, falling dizzily into Sam’s broad frame.

“Your wish came true Captain!” Rey laughed. “What say you now?”

“Actually, I had two wishes tonight.” Sam said, reaching up and brushing back a loose strand of her hair.

“You did not tell me you had two wishes.” Rey said, stepping closer to Sam. “What was your second wish?”

His large hand gently cupped her chin and he tilted her head up slightly. Rey barely closed her eyes as she felt his soft and warm lips meet hers. Jolted with excitement and adrenaline Rey couldn’t help herself as she wrapped her arms around his neck. His hands moved to her waist, pulling her close as he kissed her once more.

“That was my second wish.” Sam whispered as they parted.

No one else in the crowd noticed Rey reach up on her tip toes for several more kisses. Tonight was a time of celebration. The war could wait.

~*~

January 1865

~*~

On a cold and windy day, a messenger arrived at Chewbacca farms. Maz nearly gave the lad a heart attack, brandishing her gun once again at the door.

“Rey! Letter come for you!” Maz called out into the cottage. Rey came out of the kitchen, shoulders wrapped in blue shawl and a dish rag in hand.

“A letter? For me? Are you sure?” Rey asked as she dried her hands on her apron.

“Maz has eyes like hawk. Letter addressed to Miss Rey Morgan.” Maz handed Rey the thick white parchment. Rey admired the elegant scrawl on the front of the letter before turning it over. Her heart nearly stopped.

“Maz… This is the Presidential seal!” Rey gasped, her fingers tracing the wax seal imprinted with a picture of an Eagle.

“Hurry! Open it!” Maz said, practically bouncing with excitement as Rey gingerly opened the letter - careful not to damage the seal. She pulled out a crisp white sheet of paper with the Presidential seal stamped at the top. A hand flew to cover her mouth as she gave a gasp of surprise.

“Why, I’ve been invited to the Inaugural ball! Me! At a Presidential ball! Can you believe it Maz?”

“Maz knew she liked smart man.” Maz said smugly as she took the letter from Rey, squinting at the details.

“It’s not until March. Do you think I have enough time to sew a new dress?” Rey asked. Maz hurried over to the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a cigar box. She pressed the box into Rey’s hands.

“Been saving this for special occasion.” Maz said. “Go into to town. Buy yourself new dress.”

“Oh Maz!” Rey cried, hugging Maz tightly. “Thank you! Thank you so much! I shall go into town and speak to Rose right away!”

Chapter Text

~*~

March 4th, 1865

~*~

“Breathe in child!”

“I can’t anymore! It hurts!”

“This is supposed to hurt. BREATHE. IN!” Maz demanded as Rey clung to the bed frame, a corset being squeezed around her already slim frame.

“Why do I have to even wear this?” Rey whined, fidgeting with her undergarments.

“Tonight very special. You must look your best for Captain.”

With a final grunt from Rey, Maz finished tying the corset. She bustled over to the side of the bed where a brilliant emerald dress was laid delicately across the mattress. Maz gingerly removed the dress from Rey and marched over to her trusty footstool. Rey still had to stiffly bend at her knees in order for Maz to slip the dress over her head. A few more tugs around her already screaming waist and Rey was in the dress.

“Well? How do I look?” Rey asked. Maz began to cry, dabbing at her eyes with a red handkerchief.

“Like daughter Maz never had.” Maz said. Reys own eyes began to well with tears of her own.

“Oh Maz…”

“No no!” Maz firmly demanded, sniffing. “No tears from you!” Maz turned Rey towards her as she stood on the footstool and pinched at Rey’s cheeks to mimic the wearing of rouge.

“You must tell Maz all about ball. My Charles was never one for parties. Maz live vicariously through Rey.”

Rey giggled, her ribs hurting from even the simplest of movements. How was she supposed to dance if she couldn’t even turn in the slightest?

Rey admired herself in the small mirror Maz had above her bureau. The dress flared out thanks to multiple layers of petticoats underneath. It had elegant dyed lace trim along the hem and the sleeves with an off the shoulder square neckline that showed a hint of cleavage, something definitely accentuated from the use of a corset. Her hair was pulled up into a sleek bun, this one lower than the kind she usually wore. On her stocking feet she was forced into a pair of shoes with a hint of a heel. The shoes pinched her toes, but she had been told many a time by both Rose and Maz, that sometimes women were required to suffer through inconveniences such as tiny shoes and corsets for fancy occasions such as this.

Rey pinched at her cheeks herself before smoothing down the front of the dress with a hand. She twisted as much as she could to admire the dress from both sides. She was grateful for Maz for gifting her the money for the dress and shoes. Rose had been thrilled to dress her friend for the Inaugural ball, knowing immediately what color would be best for her.

“It will compliment your eyes!” Rose had said the very next day following the arrival of the invitation to the ball. “You will be the envy of every other girl there - and even the ones stuck at home such as myself.”

Rey leaned in as close as she could to the mirror and batted her eyes at herself. Yes, the dress did compliment her eyes just like Rose had said. She hoped Sam would like the dress. And the deepness of the green of her dress would certainly look divine next to the navy blue of his uniform.

A knock at the door made Rey intake a sharp breath.

“Rey wait here.” Maz instructed Rey. Rey nodded wordlessly, patting at her hair to make sure not a piece was out of place. Rey found herself pacing back and forth in front of the mirror as Maz went to answer the door, the fabric of her dress swishing loudly with every step. Rey could hear Maz greeting Sam in a murmur of voices in the other room.

“Rey! Captain Sam is here!” Maz called to her.

Taking what deep breath she could, Rey slowly walked out of Maz’s bedroom and into the living room where Sam was standing, fully suited in his uniform. His hair had been recently trimmed and was slicked down, the edges of his ears protruding from underneath ebony locks. He nervously clutched at his hat in his hands.

“You… You look beautiful Rey.” He said, trying to find his voice. Maz beamed.

“Rey more than beautiful. Rey is belle of the ball!” Maz exclaimed.

“Yes. Of course.” Sam agreed, laughing a little.

“Oh Sam!” Rey said, hurrying forward as quickly as she could. “You’re wearing the sash I made you for Christmas!”

“I finally had a fancy enough occasion to wear it to.” Sam said proudly, placing a gloved hand on the piece of silky fabric wrapped around his waist. “Thank you again.”

Rey blushed and fiddled with the fabric of her skirts. Maz began to herd them towards the door.

“Captain Sam take good care of Rey.” Maz said, shaking a finger at Sam. “And careful driving cart! Do not dirty her dress!”

“Yes ma’am.” Sam said as he escorted Rey out of the cottage. “I shall do my best.”

“Goodbye Maz!” Rey happily waved after Sam had helped her up onto the seat of the cart.

“Goodnight dear! Have wonderful time!”

~*~

The Patent Office was brimming with many fine dressed men and women. Some women had skirts nearly as big around as they were tall. A gentleman in a suit directed Sam to where he could leave the cart before they made their way up the street towards the white columned entrance.

Sam handed their invitations to the gentleman manning the door. With a smile and a bow of his head, the couple were gestured inside into a massive hall lit by an extravagant chandelier.

Rey marveled at the splendors around her, clutching tightly to Sam as he kept his arm looped with hers.

“Oh Sam, everything is so marvelous!” She gushed as he led her around the throngs of couples chatting with one another.

“I take it you’re enjoying yourself already?” Sam teased her. Rey blushed.

“I am.”

“Good. I’m glad.”

“However I believe I never did thank you.”

“Thank me? Whatever for?”

“For the invitation! I never would have gotten the chance to come to an affair such as this had it not been for you.”

Sam smiled down at her, placing a gentle hand over her hand placed on his forearm.

“You do not owe me thanks. You made enough of an impression on the President on your own.”

“Do you really think so?”

Sam smirked.

“I know so.” He whispered. Rey blushed again.

“Look, there he is over there.” Sam said, leaning in close to her.

Due to his height, Sam could see the President from afar better than she could. She pushed up on her toes, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Lincoln over the crowd. She sank back down quickly, her shoes having pinched her toes as she rose. Off balance, her back brushed against a man passing behind her.

“My apologies sir.” Rey quickly apologized to the stranger with a quick bow of her head.

“No harm done.” The man gruffly replied before he rose the glass of drink in his hand to her in a toasting gesture. Sam and the man shared brief nods with each other before the man disappeared into the crowd.

Over the course of the evening, Rey ate some of the finest foods and danced along to many of the songs. She even convinced Sam to partake in the Virginia Reel with her, despite his initial refusals. Rey was introduced to several other members of the Military and their dates.

Rey found herself slowing down as the night progressed. Her feet sore from dancing and her cheeks sore from smiling.

“Would you like me to take you home?” Sam eventually asked, placing a hand at the small of her back. Rey smiled gently at him and nodded, placing a hand on Sam’s arm before staring up at him with a glint in her eye.

“Can we make a stop on the way back? There’s something I’d like to show you.”

~*~

 

No one was manning the telegraph office tonight.

Sam unlocked the door with his key and he entered first, quickly lighting the gas lamp on Major Thomas’ desk. Rey gathered the fabrics of her skirts and shuffled inside. Sam shut and locked the door after her.

“It’s so odd to see the office at night.” She mused as she made her way past the desks and tables towards the back.

“For you perhaps.” Sam said as he followed her. “I’ve spent many a night down here waiting on war correspondence.”

“How lonely you must have been.” Rey commented, pausing in front of the telegraph machine. She pulled out the chair stationed at the desk and settled herself into the seat, her skirt billowing around her. She let a finger run across the rounded metal of the lever.

“Would you turn it on for me please?” She asked quietly. With curious eyes, Sam slowly approached the machine, connecting a pair of wires. A low hum emitted from the machine. She tentatively pressed down on the lever, emitting a buzz that startled her. She laughed aloud at her nerves before turning to Sam.

“Do you have a piece of paper?” Rey inquired. Looking around for a spare bit of parchment, Sam grabbed a nearby scrap of paper and a pen.

“What are you up to Rey?” Sam asked, the pen poised above his paper.

“I’ve been practicing.” Rey said, wiggling slightly in the seat.

“Practicing telegraph? Won’t Major Thomas be impressed!” Sam teased. “Can you imagine? A lady - working the telegraph?”

“Maybe one day.” Rey said. She relaxed her shoulders, composing herself as her fingers hovered above the lever of the machine. She then began to press down, off and on, as she relayed her message.

‘ . . ’

‘ . - . . , - - - , . . . - , . ’

‘ - . - -, - - -, . . - ’

Glancing up through her lashes at Sam, she saw him with his pen paused atop his paper. He had only written down half of the letters. Had she made a mistake?

“Oh Rey.” Sam said, the pen clattering to the desktop as he pulled her to her feet. He stared down at her with adoration. “I love you too.”

He cradled her face as he kissed her. Rey realized as she kissed him back that he needn’t write down all the letters. He had already figured out what she was trying to tell him. Smart man indeed.

“My dear Rey….” Sam murmured as he leaned back from her, hands still grasping at her bare shoulders. “I’ve loved you since the moment I saw you.”

“Sam…” Rey whispered. “You’re so special to me. I am the luckiest girl to have you.”

“No Rey. It is I who is lucky to have you.”

“But I’m just an orphaned farmwoman. I have no parents and no money to my name. To have someone such as yourself to … to love me back… I -”

“I don’t care about any of that Rey. First and foremost, you are a brilliant woman. Secondly, you are the most gorgeous woman I have ever beheld.”

Rey blushed and held her head down. Sam placed his hand at her chin and raised her head to look at him.

“Can you not see how wonderful you are? Rey…” Sam trailed off for a moment, his face becoming stern and seriously. “Rey Morgan. I love you. With all my heart I do. Please… Marry me.”

Rey’s mouth fell open in surprise.

“Marry you?”

“Yes Rey. Marry me.” He repeated.

“Sam I… Oh Sam, do you truly want to be with me?”

“More than anything my love.”

Rey wiped away a tear from her eye as she gazed up at Sam.

“Of course Sam. Yes! I’ll marry you!”

Sam beamed at her before swooping down to capture her lips in a passionate kiss.

“Oh Rey.” Sam murmured between kisses. “How I wish I could show you how much I truly want you. How you deserve to be loved.”

Rey stared up at him blankly for a moment as his words sunk in. His face faltered.

“I’m sorry. I should not have been so forward.” He said, ashamed.

“No Sam.” Rey said, placing a hand on his chest. He stared down at Rey with wide eyes and he swore to himself he could almost see her thought process. Rey’s fingers practically danced up his jacket before pausing on the top button. Sam stared at her baffled. This beautiful woman - HIS beautiful woman - loved him.

“Please Sam.” She whispered. “Make me yours. In all ways.”

The feeling was exhilarating. Sam’s hands grasped at Rey’s waist as he kissed her. A whimper escaped Rey’s mouth.

“What is it my love?” Sam asked, quickly pulling back.

“It’s… It’s this damn corset!” Rey sighed. “It hurts to breathe and… Oh Sam you take my breath away enough as it is.”

Sam’s eyes glinted mischievously.

“May I?” He asked. Rey swallowed deeply before nodding at him. She turned her back to him and Sam’s fingers trailed down the back of the dress, nimbly unbuttoning each one. He peeled the silky fabric to the sides, revealing the ivory of her corset. He allowed his fingers to brush against the ribbons holding the corset together.

“This?” Sam asked, his voice deep and velvety. His warm breath hitting her on the curve of her neck, causing her to swoon.

“Yes Sam, yes.” Rey whispered. She assisted him in slipping her arms out of the sleeves and pushing the dress up and over her head, leaving her in just the corset and white undergarments. Jostled by the removal of the dress, pieces of her hair were already beginning to fall out of her bun.

Sam went straight to work untying the ribbons of the corset and once it was loose enough, Rey let out a gasp of relief, arching her back. Her backside brushed up against the front of his trousers and she was startled to feel the stiffness of his arousal, already straining to be free.

“See what you do to me Rey.” Sam groaned as Rey pushed further against him. “My lovely girl. My lovely Rey.”

Rey turned around and began making work of his jacket. Thankfully his jacket had less buttons than her dress. He whipped off the sash she had made him, letting it fall to the floor on top of her dress. She reached up and kissed him as her fingers searched to undo the buttons of his shirt. His cock flexed within his pants, itching to be released.

Sam wrapped an arm around Rey’s waist, his shirt half open as he clutched her to his partially bared chest. “Let us continue this in my quarters upstairs.” He practically growled.

His shirt was shed once they entered his quaint bedroom.

“My dear, I do believe you are still far too dressed.” Sam chided with a devilish grin.

“If only there was a handsome man who could help me with such frivolous matters.” Rey replied in an equally playful tone.

“I believe I may be of service.”

Rey sat on the edge of Sams bed as he knelt to the floor before her. He removed her shoes one by one, gently massaging her feet as he did so, Rey’s toes stretching free from within the silk of her stockings. She groaned with relief and euphoria as Sams hands made their way up her legs, searching for the top of her stockings within the confines of her petticoats.

“Here?” He purred, his hand sliding across the warmth of her core. Rey gasped at the sensation.

“Ye- yes.” Rey nearly panted.

His slightly calloused fingers smoothed down the skin of her belly, tucking themselves gently under the waistband of the stockings. Rey lifted herself up off the bed with shaking arms as Sam slowly shimmied the silk from her thighs. His thumbs brushed at her center once more on the way down and Rey bit down on her lip to keep from crying out.

Once the stockings were removed, Rey stood up and pushed down her petticoats. She stood before him in just her loosened corset. Pulling her towards him once more, he held her close to him and his pressing erection with one hand while the other worked to remove the corset. With a strong tug the corset fell away from her chest, revealing small breasts with pert pink nipples that made his mouth water.

Falling back onto the bed, Rey’s hair fully tumbled from the bun at the impact. Sam gazed upon her with hungry eyes as he removed his trousers, the outline of his cock impressive through the thin fabric of his drawers. He climbed on top of her, knees on either side of her legs.

“You are more beautiful than I ever imagined.” Sam whispered to her, Rey breathed heavily beneath him. His hands trailed between her thighs and once he reached close to her privates, she instinctively tried to squeeze her legs shut.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

“It’s… It’s just… Isn’t touching…. There... Well… Dirty?” She barely whispered the last word.

“I thought you liked it when I touched you through your stockings.” Sam said, head tilting to the side. Rey blushed.

“Yes… I did.”

Sam grinned at her.

“Then you need not worry my dear.”

Rey bit her lip momentarily before taking a shuddering breath and nodding her permission to him.

“You’re so wet for me my love.” Sam said, his hand trailing through the patch of hair at the front of her swollen privates. Rey gasped as one of his thick fingers teased her entrance.

“Am I hurting you?” Sam asked.

“No Sam… It… It feels wonderful.”

He pushed his finger further inside her and her back arched off the bed when he curled his finger. After a few moments of flexing his finger inside her, Rey began to moan with pleasure. Sam added a second finger, stretching her deliciously. She knew he had to have strong fingers from working with the telegraph, but never could she have imagined them this strong. Her insides pulsed and wetness pooled around his knuckles.

“That good?” Sam asked.

“Oh yes! Oh Sam! M... Mm… More. I … I need more Sam.” Rey begged, her face and chest beginning to glisten with a layer of sweat.

Sam removed his fingers from her and he swiftly removed his drawers. His erect cock twitched, the head swollen and red. It was thick and long and Rey worried for a moment how it could possibly fit within her. Leaning over her, Sam placed one hand on the bed above her shoulder, using his other hand to guide his arousal towards her center. He parted the flushed pink lips of her privates with the tip of his cock. Rey panted with anticipation, squeezing her eyes shut in preparation for this thick member. She threw her head back with ecstasy as Sam slid slowly into her.

“Oh - Oh! Oh!!!” Rey cried out, unable to control the overflow of sensations that flowed through her as Sam pushed his full length into her.

“Rey…” Sam groaned. “You feel… Oh… Oh Rey you fit me so well!” Sam grunted as he began to thrust his hips into her, easing into a rhythm of elation. As the initial tightness of her center soothed, Rey wrapped her legs around Sam’s legs, holding him closer to her as he moved within her. She clung with her arms around his neck, raising her head off the bed to rest her forehead against one of his shoulders.

Rey could feel her core swell with mounting pleasure. Her moans and cries could not be contained anymore as Sam began to pound deeper and deeper into her.

“Oh… Oh!!!!” Rey moaned, head tilted back. Her nails dug into Sam’s shoulders but that only caused him to dive deeper.

“Oh Rey…” Sam sighed, sucking kisses into the side of her neck. “My love… My dear Rey…”

“Oh…. Oh!!! Oh Sam! Oh Captain!!! My Captain!!!” Rey nearly shouted as she felt herself spasm around the cock buried inside her. With a few more thrusts and mumbled grunts, Sam spilled his seed within her. They clutched their hot, naked bodies against each other as they came down from their high of emotions.

~*~

April 1865

~*~

Nearly six weeks later, Sam and Rey were wed within the telegraph office by Major Thomas. Albert and Maz stood by as the witnesses.

Sam was of course dressed in his military uniform. Rey stood by Sams side, though not in her pretty green dress. Instead she wore a sky blue dress at Sam’s request. Rey found it slightly odd her betrothed wanted her to wear what she considered to be a simple dress, but it made him happy. And she would do whatever she could to make her Captain happy.

Maz watched as Rey and Sam signed their marriage certificate while Albert had produced a bottle of whiskey from behind the Majors desk - preparing drinks to celebrate. Someone quietly knocked at the back door. Had it not been for Sam’s keen hearing, it may have gone unnoticed. Sam opened the door to find Lieutenant Grant standing there, a fine coach behind him in the street.

“Someone wishes to congratulate you on your marriage Captain.” Grant said to Sam. One look at the coach told him exactly whom was inside.

“Rey, my love!” Sam called to Rey. “We have a visitor!”

Rey bustled over and clutched lovingly at her husbands arm.

“Hello Lieutenant. Thank you for coming by on our special day!”

“I’m afraid you’re mistaken Miss - er - Mrs. Beckwith.” Grant turned and looked at the coach where the half door swung open and the massive figure of the President stepped out.

“Mr. President!” Rey gasped, her hold on Sam’s arm tightening. The President smiled at her warmly.

“When I heard from the Lieutenant you were getting married today, I insisted we stop by so that I could offer my congratulations.”

“Thank you Mr. President.” Sam answered, nodding his head at him. “We are very happy together.”

Sam looked down at Rey and she looked up at him with shining eyes and a wide smile.

“We are indeed.”

“Would you like to come in for a toast Mr. President?” Sam asked. Grant coughed disapprovingly at this but the President just smiled softly.

“Your offer is very kind Captain, but I’m afraid I must get going back to the White House.”

“I understand.” Sam replied, nodding once more.

“I shan’t take up any more time from you love birds.” The President said as he shut the door. “Mrs. Lincoln and I have tickets to a play tonight, at Ford’s Theatre.”

~*~ THE END ~*~