awoke today to find that sleeping on the ground did not suit me in an way. I was quite cold and stiff and had a fitful night's rest but it could not have dampened my spirits for all its discomforts.
I did; however, discover that in the rather cramped space it was terribly difficult to dress and it took me much longer than anticipated. I took into consideration today's attraction of the archery competition and chose my dress for the day accordingly. I dressed in my olive green muslin with brown silk trimmings and matching brown velvet Spencer and silk beret, as any other hat with a brim would hinder my sights in shooting. I felt even finer today than I did yesterday, and felt I did the fashions I chose justice whilst I wore them.
When finally I had finished preparing myself for the day (no small feat) I met with the Doctor by his tent and he walked with me to the archery field with something rolled and tucked beneath his arm. I could not guess what it was but suspected it involved the archery and waited as I knew I would find out soon enough.
As we reached the grounds there was still ample time before the tournament was to begin, and many of the ladies had already begun to gather, so whilst Mrs. Cooper finished her preparations it was suggested that the ladies present take a bit of practice. At this prompting, the Doctor who during this time was quietly speaking with Mr. Cooper stepped forward to pin what he had beneath his arm to the bales of hay before us. He had painted yet another novelty target for us to shoot and to all of our amusement and delight this particular target was a portrait of none other than Napoleon! We all had a splendid time taking shots at his smirking likeness and one of my shots even pierced him directly through the lips which brought forth from the Doctor a hearty cheer and lusty laugh from Mr. Cooper. I tried not to be too pleased with myself but I was unable to completely hide my smug smile.
When Mrs. Cooper was ready to begin, she gathered the ladies about her and read to us the rules of the competition whilst Mr. Cooper replaced Napoleon with a proper archery target for scoring and prepared for us bits of straw in varying lengths to help decide which of us would go first. After we all compared it was determined that I was to shoot third in line behind Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Dubbeld.
As I rose to shoot I could immediately feel my hands begin to shake. I risked a glance over my shoulder, catching the Doctor's eye. I cannot say if I imagined it, but I was almost convinced he bestowed upon me a small smile of encouragement and a nod, but as soon as it was noticed by me it was gone and he had already directed his attention elsewhere. No one else seemed to notice what had passed but I fear it had such an effect on my concentration that my very first shot was sent wildly to the left and the arrow was lost among the underbrush of the forest just beyond our archery range. I was mortified and felt my cheeks burn in embarrassment. I said nothing but lined up my second and third shot, both hitting the target. I silently put the bow into the rack and sat back down to watch without a single word still, my face continuing to burn while the gentleman searched for the wayward arrow among the brush. As I sat with my hands folded in my lap and eyes upon them I felt a gentle hand suddenly upon my shoulder and looked up startled to see the Doctor! He lifted his eyebrows at me and removed his hand to beckon me aside. Out of earshot he quietly chided me for being so cross and suggested I not to lose confidence, as he had not lost his in my ability yet. He looked down upon me and raised one eyebrow as if to say "do we have an understanding?" I bowed my head and he turned away from me to watch the rest of the first round of ladies.
This left me with quite an impression and did indeed help with my confidence, for as the tournament continued each of my sets proved better and better until with the last round I shot, I successfully marked the very center circle with an arrow. Alas, the Doctor had left before he could be witness to this shot as he was obliged to present yet again his craft.
During his absence, Sgt. Williams appeared stumbling down the small hill from the direction of the tents looking quite obviously into the drink, and took such abhorrent liberties with his tongue the likes of which I have never and wish to never be witness to again! I was terribly offended and upon expressing my horror at his lack of decency before ladies he proceeded to mock me and to fling the most abominable insults at me. I was quite beside myself and beseeched Mr. Cooper and Mr. Dubbeld who both had witnessed the entire event unfold to aid me, but both only shook their heads and told me he could not be altered in this state. Thankfully, the Doctor was seen walking down the hill from the pavilion towards us and I immediately stood and briskly went to meet him, imploring him to put Sgt. Williams right and stand for me. The Doctor turned coolly to Sgt Williams after my tale and proceeded to call the man out for actions, and it was decided between the two of them that a duel was to be the methods in which to settle this dispute and at four o'clock justice would be seen.
All through the tea that was provided for by the lively and generous Lady Rockhold I could scarce think of anything else but what the Doctor had willingly laid down for my sake, or so it seemed in my eyes. It followed me all through the dance lessons and I moved through each one without thought to conversation or anything but what was about to take place until I was brought out of my dark broodings as my hand was gently squeezed. I looked up as we circled to see the Doctor watching me, and it was his hand that was holding mine. I almost though I had imagined this too but this time I knew for certain it had happened. He continued to watch me through the progression of the dance until he no longer could and I felt very unsettled, unable to make sense of it.
The hour of the duel was upon us before I felt I had time to guard myself against it, and with an overwhelming sense of dread I clung to Mrs. Cooper arm, feeling my heart drop lower and lower as they turned and paced off, the Doctor standing tall and straight with no sign of fear, and Sgt. Williams wavering in his own steps. I could not look away though I wanted to see no more. Mrs. Cooper tried to reassure me in the Doctors aim and Sgt. Williams inebriation but I could not be convinced nor placated. They faced off and took aim, and for a moment the world held its breath, and a shot was fired. To my absolute horror it was Sgt. Williams who had shot! I almost lunged forward with a cry of terror if Mrs. Cooper had not detained me by the hand and bade me observe the Doctor, who seemed entirely unscathed and was looking at his pistol which would not fire with his usual cool manner. Sgt. Williams had missed! If ever there was a time I was to bless the drink it would have been that moment for it spared the Doctors life.
Beyond the crowds hearing words were exchanged and Sgt. Williams grabbed the blade at his feet and made to lunge at the Doctor who had made no movement to sink to Sgt. Williams’ level. Thankfully Sgt. Williams was detained by Mr. Cooper who had acted as his second in the duel and there would be no more acts of violence that day.
Upon his return to the pavilion, as quickly as I could within the constraints of propriety I approached the Doctor and could say nothing, only reach out a trembling hand and touch his arm.
Quite suddenly, the excitement and the heat took me and I was quite overcome, nearly fainting at the Doctors feet. For the first time since my arrival a look of surprise and concern crossed his face and he slipped for a brief moment out of his perpetual unruffled state. Bless Mrs. Cooper for being so directly on hand as I fear the Doctor was at an immediate loss of what to do! Mrs. Cooper knew exactly what to do to recover me enough to get me in a condition to be moved, and called upon the Doctor who carried me back to my tent and laid me down ever so carefully upon my makeshift bed.
He insisted upon staying by my side to see after my health and bathed my brow and neck with a cold wet cloth. He spoke very little, but there was a perpetual crease in his brow that said plenty. My condition prevented me from being able to exercise any sort of clear thinking, and I begged the Doctor to explain the correspondence I had seen the day before between him and my Aunt. After his unwavering show of heroism and kindness towards myself that day, I so desperately wanted him not to be a partner in my Aunt’s meddling ways.
He looked away and said nothing for some time, considering my request, and finally reached into his pocket where he had been keeping the letter and handed it to me to read. With some effort I propped myself up as to better read it and with hesitation opened it, bracing against what I may discover in the contents.
I was not, however, prepared for what was revealed to me. My Aunt had written to him the grossest and most hurtful exaggerations and tales of Mr. Brennan and myself, explaining to the Doctor that my name and reputation was in danger from various acts of impropriety I never participated in and accusing Mr. Brennan of being false in any affection he showed me and the and the most base of men, begging the Doctor to watch over me for my own protection like one of his own! I read the letter aloud and as I continued down the page began to work myself into such a furious state the Doctor had to calmly remove the letter from my hands until I had calmed myself enough to continue.
When I had concluded the awful thing and put it aside, my face burned with shame and anger. The doctor looked down at me and quietly said to me “Now Miss Waterman, I hope that this eases your mind and aids your understanding of both our situations.” I could say nothing and turned my face away from him lest he see the angry tears pricking my eyes, ashamed of my rage and the false idea the Doctor must have had of me.
With this he observed I was out of immediate danger to my health and allowed me some moments of solitude to assure all those concerned of my condition being on the mend. By the time of his return I had read the letter again, and was feeling my physical health returned but my heart was troubled with my mind. I look now upon the Doctor with new feelings that I could not fully understand nor describe, but they have made me almost shy of him, and any feelings of ill I had previously are all vanished.
It was suggested since I was well enough to be walking about without the aid of an arm that a few rounds of Blind Man’s Bluff, a favorite of mine, be played in the open space amongst the camps. I participated as much as I was able and even the Doctor joined in for a brief time, and I was pleasantly shocked to watch him laugh and carouse with the rest.
As the sun faded and darkness made conditions unfit to continue, Captain Cushing announced that there was to be an impromptu and rather informal country dance in the pavilion. I was keen to experience at least a couple dances unconcerned with the potential of impending violence, and the Doctor was kind enough to escort me though there were a number of others who could have done the task as well.
I danced only two dances before I discovered the events of today left me by far too exhausted to continue, and we stayed for a moment to watch the others continue, and it was quite a joy to see so much laughing and smiling, and I felt a weight no longer pressing on my shoulders and I was able to join in the laughter and the merriment unhindered.
Before long, I begged the Doctor to accompany me back as the darkness made it quite unsafe for me to make the walk alone, and presently I write wrapped comfortably in a quilt with what little light I have left, and can only wonder what tomorrow will bring in the light of what has unfolded today, and with the new knowledge I possess. America is proving to be more exciting than I could have hoped.