Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill by Howard Fast Read Free Book Online

Book: Bunker Hill by Howard Fast Read Free Book Online
Authors: Howard Fast
sufficiently for him to
contemplate himself, a process that never brought him great satisfaction. In
affairs of the heart or the groin, he always in time reduced his image to that
of a small boy, with a small boy’s voyeuristic dreams, and now the spectacle of
his headlong assault upon Mrs. Hallsbury made him feel both the fool and the
lout. Nevertheless, he had the appointment, and peering at his watch in the
pale moonlight, he realized that he had only enough time to return to the
assignation.
    As he
walked back through the deserted streets, his process of self-examination
dwindled, and now he thought only of the fact that he had assaulted what was
certainly one of the most beautiful women in the colonies and won at least her acquiescence, and all of it in whispers at a dinner table
where her husband was present. With the name of Prudence she was either a
Puritan or a Presbyterian, which only meant that the fires had never really
been stoked. What had motivated her to marry the elderly High Church priest, he
could not imagine, except that Hallsbury was very rich and that a few years she
would endure as a wife might give her many years as a free and wealthy widow.
All of which meant that she was manipulative and calculating, and the thought
occurred to him that she had seduced him rather than the reverse. Well, be that
as it may, she was beautiful and clever, and more than that he asked of no
woman.
    His first
reaction when he reached the house and moved stealthily through the garden to
the back door was one of wretched disappointment. She was not there, and he had
been made an utter fool. He stood in the moonlight, looking at the brick walks
that edged the herb and rose gardens, deflated and
humiliated, and then he heard her whisper, “Sir Henry?”
    He turned,
and she was standing by the door. She came to him, took his arm, and silently
led him to a grape arbor at the back of the garden. Still, he had spoken no
word, and in the darkness of the arbor, he suddenly embraced her, found her
mouth and then her tongue darting between his lips like the quick thrusts of a
small snake. Then she drew away from him, breathing heavily.
    In the
bits of moonlight that crept through the leaves, he saw her as a dappled,
shadowy figure in a long silken night robe. He reached out, then parted the
robe and fondled her breasts. She did not resist or indeed make any response,
and then he slipped the robe off her shoulders, and she stood naked in front of
him. He clutched her in his arms, kissing her face, her neck, and her shoulders.
She trembled and sighed and then pleaded with him, “Not here. Please, not
here.”
    “I must
have you.”
    “I know. I know. But not here, not
tonight.”
    “I must!”
    “Tomorrow. Please,” her
voice quite terror-stricken.
    He let go
of her and stepped back, and she stood there naked, with her arms crossed over
her breasts. Then he picked up her robe and placed it over her shoulders,
feeling suddenly empty and deflated.
    “Oh, God,
I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. “But he’s awake. Don’t you understand? He’s still
awake.”
    “Will he
look for you?”
    “I don’t
know. Call for me tomorrow. To look at one of the warships. He won’t mind that.”
    “What
time?”
    “When you please. I’ll
wait. I must go. Give me a few minutes.” And with that, she fled from the
arbor.
    There was
a bench in the arbor, and Clinton sat there for perhaps ten minutes. Then, as
he slipped away through the garden, a dog began to bark, and he found himself
half-running. He rounded a corner and, panting, slowed to a walk. The dog came
after him, a large brown mongrel beast, snapping at his heels. Clinton ignored
the animal, and presently the dog gave up the game and turned away. Clinton
walked on, trying to compose the events of the following day in his mind,
recalling that Howe had ordered a review of the grenadiers for the fourteenth
of June, trying to remember what time the event was scheduled so that he

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