Alexandra climbs a little higher.
Yes! She thinks to herself. She is making progress.
She has been attempting to climb the pole all night. Each time, she climbs slightly higher than she did before. And now, she is almost at the top.
With one final jump, Alexandra climbs to the top of the pole and sits there, waiting for Commander Laurens to leave his tent, which should be soon since the sun is nearly up.
When he finally comes into the communal ground to alert the messenger to wake the other soldiers, Alexandra tosses the weights to the ground.
She makes sure to aim them such that she will not hit Commander Laurens with the weights. Laurens looks up as they hit the ground to see Alexandra perched neatly on top of the pole.
A small smile breaks across his face as he looks up at her, but just as suddenly it is gone as he turns to the other soldiers.
He does, however, commend her performance. "Good work, Alexander. Keep working like that and you will soon have a command."
Alexandra smiles inwardly before continuing on her tasks like nothing has happened.
That day, Commander Laurens runs the pathetic soldiers through all of their tasks.
First he puts them through their fighting lessons.
Laurens makes sure that each soldier has enough space to prevent stabbing before he takes the soldiers through all the sword exercises.
Alexandra feels herself gaining more energy than she had the previous day, despite getting no sleep or rest. She tries her best to keep up with the others, but she still struggles.
Commander Laurens is not feeling merciful. He seems to take particular pleasure in torturing Alexandra.
"Alexandra, keep up! The Redcoats might mistake you for a woman if you continue like that." He teases.
He does not know how correct he is.
It feels like they are being punished by an unearthly force as Laurens runs them through the gun-loading positions over and over.
By the end, Alexandra's arms feel like they might suddenly fall off. Apparently, she is not alone.
"Monsieur Laurens is really running us through the ranks, oui?" Lafayette mumbles as he moves his hands to the ramrod and gunpowder packets as the commander demands.
"I'll say. I cannot wait to get back to my tailoring business and my wife, Elizabeth." Hercules remarks.
"My dear Theodosia is being protected by my sister, but I long to return to her." Burr adds.
"What about you, mon ami?" Lafayette turns toward Alexandra. "Do you have someone waiting for you?"
Alexandra forms her lips into a tight frown. "No. But I hope I will soon."
Of course, Alexandra wishes to have a man waiting for her, but her comrades do not need to know that.
That afternoon, Commander Laurens demands that each soldier has a bath.
Alexandra balks. She cannot take a bath with these men! Leaving impropriety aside, she will most certainly get caught!
She decides to wait until nightfall and take her bath then, while all the others are asleep. Judging by the security she saw the night before, she knows the perfect time to slip out and quickly bathe.
So she goes back to her tent to take a short nap while the others, Commander Laurens included, bathe quickly.
Later that evening, Commander Laurens drags the soldiers down to the lake, where there are several buckets. He does not tell them what to do, expecting them to know what is needed.
Not wanting to endure the commander's punishments again, each member of the group collects two buckets of water, slings them over a pole, and takes off running.
Alexandra follows suit, moving as fast as she can manage. She stays in the middle of the group this time, rather than falling behind in exhaustion like she did yesterday. Her skills are improving, and it is becoming visible.
Commander Laurens slows his pace as the others keep running, dropping back to run alongside Alexandra.
That is one thing that Alexandra must praise Commander Laurens for. He never simply instructs the recruits. He always joins them in whatever task they are doing, setting an example for the soldiers.
Come to think of it, there is another thing that Alexandra admires, besides his handsomeness. There are many soldiers who are evidently freed slaves. Commander Laurens always treats them with equal respect as he does to the other soldiers, like Lafayette and herself. And he jumps in to defend them whenever possible, despite being a man of very few words.
If anyone taunts them for being freed slaves, Commander Laurens always comes by and puts in a remark such as "Well, at least they can claim to doing more work and good than you." Then he puts the taunters to work at their gun positions, making sure they do not ever make the same mistake again.
Alexandra is shaken out of her daydream by Laurens's voice.
"I did not want to say anything in front of the other soldiers, but you have improved considerably in a very short period of time in this camp. That is more than can be said for everyone."
Laurens glares distastefully at the lagging soldiers who are evidently exhausted and are bringing up the end of the group.
"Move faster!" He calls to them. "The British would have you by now!"
At this, the soldiers make a significant increase in pace, but eventually slow down again and fall toward the edge of the group.
Laurens groans. "Anyway, I simply wanted to commend you on good work in the hope that it continues, and you might earn yourself a regiment to command." He addresses Alexandra again.
Alexandra smiles. "Yes, sir. Thank you."
Commander Laurens smiles almost imperceptibly at this, before running to the front of the group to lead once more.
Eventually, Commander Laurens is satisfied with the regiment's progress, and he allows them to put down their buckets and turn in for the night.
All Alexandra wants to do is drop the buckets and collapse onto her sleeping mat, but she has something she must do first.
Once the camp is clear and quiet, Alexandra slips down to the lake and wades in up to her neck before gently removing each of her clothing items and setting them on the bank.
She is making haste to soundlessly wash herself before heading back to camp when she suddenly hears a noise very close by.
As she stops scrubbing to listen, she hears the sound of several men talking in hushed voices that seem to be coming closer to her position.
Her first instinct is to duck under the water, but if the group finds it funny to steal her clothes she will most certainly be in deep trouble.
Panicking, she grabs her clothes and holds them up under her arm as she ducks as low as possible in the water.
And just in time too, because at that moment the voices burst through the clearing and Alexandra sees four very shocked faces.
A/N: Sorry, that's a really weirdly-written end of the chapter. All will be explained in the next one. Stay tuned! There are probably three or four more chapters, depending on how much detail I remember. My apologies for kind of rushing through some story events. Suggestions are absolutely welcome!
Thank you to everyone who read, reviewed, followed, and favorited this story. Please stay safe! I own neither "Hamilton" nor Mulan; I can only take credit for any grammar and spelling mistakes. Reviews are appreciated!