“Won’t you stay for tea?” Alice set the teapot on a lace-covered table and fetched the teacups and saucers. “I’ve just made some cake.”
The red coat adjusted the saber at his hip and cleared his throat. “I’ve really just come to speak to your husband, ma’am.”
“I’m afraid he’s gone to town and won’t be back—”
“Then I have a message for him.”
Something clattered from the kitchen. The soldier looked over Alice’s shoulder, but she moved until she filled his vision again and smiled, one cheek dimpling. “Just the dog, I expect. I usually put him outside, but with the rain…”
The soldier turned and looked over his shoulder. “Hm, yes. Will you tell him to come to the fort tomorrow morning?”
Alice poured two cups of tea. “Please, sir, do take some tea.”
The soldier shifted his weight. “Very well. I am partial to cake.” His eyes crinkled, and his smile widened to reveal a dark gap where there should be a molar. Alice knew about things like molars because her husband, Jack, was a surgeon. He’d attended the Royal College of Surgeons all the way across the Atlantic right after they were married, leaving Alice alone to take care of the house and their firstborn son. She knew how to handle a soldier.
Alice placed a piece of cake before the soldier. “There now. How do you take your tea?”
“With sugar, ma’am.”
Alice nodded and poured the tea, stirring in a teaspoon of white crystals until they dissolved. She poured her own tea, cut a slice of cake, and sat across from the soldier. “You need my husband for some mission, no doubt?”
The soldier drank some tea to wash down the mouthful of cake. “Yes. There’s a rumor the French are going to try again to take this land from us.”
“Oh my, how dreadful! I do hope you all stop them. But I’m not certain how my husband will feel about being in a battle. He abhors violence.”
The soldier stopped, put down his teacup, and dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a napkin. “Ma’am, I am certain your husband will do his duty. We haven’t enough surgeons in the colonies.” He frowned and wiped some sweat from his forehead with the same napkin. “Besides, he will be—will be—he’ll save—” The man fell forward, face in cake, eyes closed.
Alice raised her teacup to her lips. “You can come out now, Lacroix,” she called back to the kitchen. A man in a blue coat embroidered with a fleur-de-lis emerged from the kitchen.
“Pardon, madame, for the pots.”
Alice waved her hand and shook her head. “Nonsense. He is out. Will you take him before my husband returns?”
“Oui. Merci, madame. France is grateful for the help of people like you.”
“Yes, well, I have always found that a British man cannot resist tea and cake. My husband cannot. We were lucky that he,” she nodded toward the unconscious soldier, “takes his with sugar. Are the French coming to free us?”
“Madame,” Lacroix bowed low, sweeping his arm in front of himself, “we are already here.”
I wrote this flash fiction in response to my alternate history prompt. It takes place about 45 years after the first attempt at an American Revolution failed. England still rules much of the North American continent, and still wars with France.