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Bound for Glory: Our Brethren
April 5, 1764 – Boston, Massachusetts - Pass the sugar, please
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"Samuel!" a deep voice bellowed from within the log house.
A young boy walked briskly into the sitting room. He quickly scanned it to hopefully find a clue why his father had summoned him. Was there something out of place? To the left of him, there was a two-level bookcase under a window. Above the bookcase, a stone was rested on top of some pieces of khaki parchment. In front, towards the boy's right, there was a needle and some twine under a bench. When the boy did not locate anything out of the ordinary in the sitting room, he returned his attention.
"You called for me, Father?" the boy asked. He stood with his arms folded across his bare chest. The boy was wearing light brown breeches and his hair was dark brown, cut just below his earlobes. It was greasy, grimy and strands of his hair stuck out like spikes in unusual directions on the top of his head.
"Yes, I did son. Could you fetch my walking stick? I left it by the fire pit."
A scowl immediately spread on the boy's lips and he began to tap a foot. "But it's less than a few inches from your feet, Father. Couldn't you have been able to get it yourself?"
"Samuel," his father began laughing, shaking a finger at his son. "You know very well I cannot walk properly without my walking stick. Refrain from acting immature, run along and fetch it, Samuel."
Samuel grunted. He walked slowly over to the fire pit, where his father's stick was resting against a log. Grabbing it, he stepped a couple of feet and dropped the stick into his father's lap. "There. Now may I go back into the kitchen?"
The large, round stomach jiggled as his father spoke. "Fine, fine. You may leave," he laughed again. As Samuel turned to leave, he did not reach fives paces before his father called for him once more. "Hold on, son - why you are so preoccupied today? What is your fancy with the kitchen, anyway?"
"I'm helping Mum wash the five plates and the little silverware we own. Then there is the sweeping. Mum also asked me to dust the three chairs, scrub the table where we eat, and then mop the floorboards afterwards. She promised that she would show me your old uniform from the War if I helped her."
His father's expression grew stern. "Judging from the enormous smile, you are bursting with enthusiasm, but I do not approve," he said, shaking another finger at his son. "Such things should remain buried. Promise me son that if she shows it, you will not form foolish ideas about warfare? Warfare is horrible, cruel, and changes a man forever. I once witnessed –"
"Father! Please," the boy groaned. "Save your stories. I'm going to go now and help Mum."
He shook his head slowly and then glared at his son. "Come here! You know very well a punishment would arise for cutting me off, Samuel, but I am tired. I will not burden you with another lecture today or issue a fit punishment. Do not let your tongue slip again. Do you understand?"
Samuel immediately responded by shutting his jaw tightly and stroked the hairs on his arm, nodding slowly. He momentarily glanced at his father's cane, which lied by his right leg. Samuel remembered its other purpose.
It was May seventh, and Samuel had barely turned fourteen. His father had threatened on numerous occasions to never enter the warring room or a punishment would arise, but Samuel crept inside on a few occasions, regardless. He just could not resist because each time he entered, Samuel discovered something new. Whether it was the cartridge box or the many intricate pictures carved into the bone of the power horn, depicting battles and the tallies of the deaths and battles won, the boy was simply attracted to his father's war supplies, like a person was to drinking water.
One day, Samuel tip toed and curiously ventured inside the warring room, without permission again. His father happened to limp by, and spotted his son poking the muzzle of the musket, resting against a wall. Samuel's father hobbled inside, and a thunderous bellow echoed throughout the room.
Samuel remembered the repetitive scolding, and the speech his father said to him. "Samuel! You deliberately disobeyed me. How many damn times do I have to tell you? Do not enter this room! Shall I plug an eardrum? Maybe then, my words will not leak from your memory! These objects are not for touching, not now, or next week. When you are older, maybe then you will understand – a musket is a weapon, and a weapon leads to warfare; something I will not allow in my house! As God as my witness, I will not allow my son become a shadow of a soldier in this house or elsewhere.
When you turn eighteen, then I may consider teaching my boy how to properly load a musket but until that day, you will, absolutely not, venture into this room. Do I make my self clear?"
Samuel started chewing on a thumb nail and gulped. He slowly eased backwards but his father reached and dragged his son closer to his body by the collar of Samuel's shirt. His father's grip tightened, causing pinching by the nape and mild restriction of air flow, but Samuel's nerves proved to outdo any physical force. The rhythm of his heart accelerated, and Samuel felt certain it would burst if the constant beat did not slow itself. In conjunction with irregular heart beats, Samuel's throat became dry and itchy. The boy stood motionless but he felt as if an imaginary noose suddenly wrapped around his neck and breathing became short wheezing puffs, as he inhaled slowly and exhaled.
He peered into two furrowing, black eyebrows and a scowl that would have caused the Lord himself to shrink fearfully away. He gradually reached outwards and tapped his father's knuckles with an index finger, a hopeful signal for a release.
Instead, Samuel's father released the grip and swung his cane. The object collided into his son's calf and the boy cried out in pain.
He felt his eyes widened and he licked his lips from the memory. Samuel certainly did not want to experience another episode like that again.
His father waved a weary hand and the boy hurried out of the wide foyer and returned to the kitchen. About an hour had passed and Samuel finally finished the chores. His mother led her rambunctious, fifteen year old son to an unkempt room. Inside the room, it had one window.
"Mum, I cannot see anything! It's too dark in here."
"Shush, Samuel," she said in a firm voice to her impatient son. "It should only take a moment for our vision to adjust to the brightness of the warring room."
Samuel sulked and sank on the wood floor, near the entrance. "Alright, Mum. I'll wait."
"Your patience is overwhelming," his mother remarked sarcastically.
Samuel crossed his arms against his chest again and watched his mother move steadily around the room, occasionally stumbling on lead bullets or small stones. He watched her remove the bonnet from her head, carefully placing it near his filthy feet. She combed her hands through her gray hair that flowed down to her waist.
"Mum, why are you walking around the room? You've tripped twice on the lead balls."
"Oh, I am as curious as you are Samuel. It has been some time since I've actually glanced at all your father's belongings since he returned, tidied and swept in here. In fact, when I find the nerve, I need to wipe the dust from the window sill and floor. The artifacts clinging to the walls that I carefully displayed and his musket remind me the hardships your Father underwent, readjusting to a normal lifestyle. His escalating emotions of sadness and fear took a great deal of energy. Do you remember?"
He shook his head. "I don't, Mum, at least not well."
Samuel's mother sighed. "A story for another occasion but I suppose I shall be intelligent like you and sit for a few seconds, since the soles of my feet hurt a little," she said, calmly.
"Come here and sit next to me Mum. My eyes are starting to adjust already. I can already make out small objects." He patted a spot next to him with the palm of his hand.
His mother walked carefully and sat next to her son on the left side.
"Look, Mum!" Samuel pointed to the window. "I see knives!"
There were two daggers hanging on the wooden wall; one on each side of the window. The handles of the daggers were carved from deer antlers and glistened when light poured on them. There was also a hatchet that hung above the window. The boy's head darted in all directions of the room, glancing at every object he could see.
"What are you looking at?" his mother smiled.
"Everything. I've never had the chance to look at the objects for a long time, before. Did you know there is a horn next to the powderhorn?"
She nodded. "It's a bugle horn. Your Father will have to inform you of its importance some other day. What do you think?"
"Well, you always shooed me away when you caught me glancing in the room and Father would have cuffed my ears again if he ever saw me peering in here without permission. Father and you kept reminding me I needed to grow up more. He said he didn't approve when I told him about going into the warring room today, but you let me Mum. He also said I was acting immature." Samuel stomped his right foot at the thought.
His mother reached over and pinched his freckled cheeks, teasingly.
The boy pushed his mother's hands away hastily. "Come off it, Mum. Don't do that. You know I hate it when you treat me as a child."
When she noticed Samuel frown, she patted his shoulder lightly in an attempt to prove she was fooling. "Ignore your Father," she laughed. "Enjoy the remaining of your childhood. By eighteen or so, you'll wish you had it back. Everyone matures at different rates and you are no exception, Samuel."
"Thanks. So, Mum, where –"
A deep voice rang behind the two and started them, not hearing the usual creak and thud from a certain walking stick. "What a pair; I thought you were going to show our son my old uniform, Martha?"
"Welcome Garrison! You overgrown baboon, you frightened us both!"
"You love me anyway," Welcome replied and then smiled. "Now, Martha, why are you two squatting in front of the entrance, like two ducks?"
"We were first waiting for our eyes to adjust to the brightness from the window, Father but Mum started talking."
"Well, I am sure the conversation with your mother was enlightening but the purpose is being delayed. Step aside you two. I will fetch the horse blanket, since Samuel was allowed in the room; I know he will not stop pestering us until he sees the rag."
Samuel and Martha moved away from the entrance and stood in the hallway.
"Careful, Father," Samuel shouted. "Do you need help?!"
"No! A short distance should not aggravate my injury," he bellowed towards the hallway.
Within a minute, Welcome called to Samuel. "Here, son; I found it!"
The boy raced into the room again, his eyes sparkling with excitement. "Ohh… It's grand, Father! How did you find it so fast?" he asked in an enthusiastic voice.
"I could locate the red suit, blindfolded, although I had forgotten about the obstructions on the floor. A reminder by you, Samuel, would have been considerate before I entered, since you were the first one hollering to me from the hallway. I suppose I am fortunate in that sense to not jeopardize myself further by accidentally tripping."
"May I put the uniform on?" Samuel said, ignoring his father's comment.
"The uniform is a horse blanket by my standards and yes you may wear it, on one condition." Welcome hobbled over to Samuel and clasped his shoulder. "Remember our conversation earlier today?"
"You may wear it, only if I have your vow that you will never engage in any type of warfare." Welcome pointed behind him with a thumb. "I do not want any of these artifacts or this uniform to encourage your will to enlist in any forms of warfare." Welcome squeezed his son's shoulder tighter. "What say you, Samuel?"
"Of course, Father! I would never do such a thing. May I wear it now, please?" Clasping his hands, Samuel peered upwards to the tall and overweight man.
"Do I have your vow, son?" Welcome repeated.
Samuel started jumping in short distances from the floor. "Yes! I promise. Now, may I put it on, please?"
"Martha! Come in here, please," Welcome hollered towards the hallway.
Martha, who stood a couple inches from the room's entrance, was able to hear the conversations between father and son. She walked into the warring room and glanced at her husband questioningly.
"Good of you to join us, my woman." He pointed to Samuel with an index finger. "How could I say 'no' to that cute face, Martha? Those bunched lips and over exaggerated whimpers are testaments that our son is a beggar," Welcome remarked, with a smile slowly spreading on his face.
"He's your son, Welcome," she smiled.
"Well, go ahead son. Put it on and let us see how it fits."
Samuel dashed up beside his father. He reached and gripped the white collar of the uniform that lied crumpled near Welcome's musket. "Can you help me, Father? It's too big."
"Indeed. It was my uniform," he said. "Come here, I will help put on the old horse blanket." Welcome dropped his cane on the floor and balanced his weight the best he could, and held up the uniform so Samuel could slip his arms into it. "Turn around, son. Let us take a gander at how you look."
Samuel turned in slow circles, with his arms extended outwards. "How do I look, Father?"
Welcome brought his finger towards his lip and studied the boy. "I am not sure.
"How does our young pioneer look?" Welcome asked, still studying Samuel seriously.
"He looks filthy! When was the last time you bathed yourself, Samuel?" she asked by placing one hand on each of her hips, tapping a foot quickly.
Welcome's belly jiggled as his bellowing laughter rang throughout the walls. "That should satisfy my jollies this evening. On the rare occasion, your mother's comments never fail to have me laughing. I do not know if sarcasm was present in her comment but one of these days, a person may drop dead from the odor emitting from your body, such as your armpits for example. Fortunately, your mother and I are used to your uncleanly ness."
Samuel lifted a flap of the uniform and sniffed underneath his arm. Shrugging, "It's not like I'm about to get married. Who cares how I smell."
"You may some day. Come son, you have had your fun. It is time to put this thing away for another time."
"Oh, Father. Can't I wear it a bit longer?" Samuel gazed upwards to lock eyes with his fathers. He bunched up his lower lip and pretended to whimper.
Welcome sighed and waved his hand. "Ask your mother." He reached down and picked up his cane, careful to not lose his balance. He limped from the room, leaving Samuel and Martha alone.
"Well, can I?"
"I suppose you cannot get dirtier, what with the stains of blood found on the green cuffs," she sighed.
Samuel's face lit up, after hearing that. He circled a few more times, admiring the uniform. I don't care what Father says. He's a foolish old man, Samuel thought to himself. I love the dark blue crisscrossed stripes, in the center of the coat. The crossed lines seem to add depth to the red colour of the uniform. Father was lucky. His uniform meant he experienced excitement and the blood showed he must have had a victory. I wish I could experience what Father did and be apart of something greater than Massachusetts. Besides, Father was in his late fifties; speed couldn't have been a strong trait. I'm younger and faster with reflexes, so a bullet should not hit my kneecap, like him, if I'm paying attention. If the time comes, I will join proudly.
"Are you finished, Samuel?"
The boy nodded happily, removing the uniform and handing it to his mother. He didn't mention his secret thoughts and turned to leave the unkempt warring room.
When he was walking down the hallway, his mother called to him one last time. "Samuel, before the sun departs, go to the stream and give yourself a good scrub. You smell awful."
Samuel groaned, walking through the log house. He walked slowly past the sitting room, where his father was in a rocking chair, reading and exited outdoors to a nippy evening.
"Oh, in the filth!" A door slammed and a large man entered the log house. The man was corpulent; fat jiggled and swerved whenever he walked. He was balding, and short stubs of gray hair formed around his head; smooth skin showing in the middle. The man severally injured his right kneecap in a war he had been evolved with and required the use of a cane to improve his mobility.
Creak, thud. Creak, thud. Creak, thud.
A fifteen year old boy scurried into the hallway to greet his father. "Hello, Father. How was your walk?"
Welcome grumbled, and quietly muttered curses under his breath.
"What did you say?"
"I said nothing of the sort. Fetch your mother, and meet me in the sitting room. I have much to discuss with the pair of you."
Samuel cocked his head, and appeared confused by his father's words.
Welcome, sensing his son's confusion, smiled faintly and tried again. "Samuel, fetch your mother and meet me in the sitting room. Go on," his father said, by nudging his bum with the cane, "Do not delay. It is important."
Samuel turned and yelled towards the kitchen, "Mum! Father wants us to meet him in the sitting room. He said it was important."
He ruffled his son's hair, causing the strands to stick out wildly again. "We both know you have a fine pair of lungs, Samuel. But what say you save some of that air and put it to better use some other day?" His father said, chuckling. "Come, we will wait for her in the sitting room."
Welcome limped and leaned heavily on his right side as he walked. When they reached the wide foyer, Samuel darted ahead of his father and selected a spot near the fire pit to sit. Welcome ducked a few inches, upon entering so as to not bump his forehead. He resumed his favorite place to sit quietly; the rocking chair which was parallel from Samuel. He placed his cane, on the floor next to his right foot.
"What's all the commotion about?" A short and skinny woman, not much taller than five feet entered the foyer, while she was drying her hands with her apron.
"Mum! Come sit next to me. I saved a spot for you," the boy said, grinning. He patted an area next to him where she could sit; a long piece of slate with soot that settled on the thin rock.
"Samuel, shush. Come in, Martha. I have news that the pair of you should be aware of."
Martha entered slowly and selected a spot next to her husband; a carved bench from wood, to the left of Welcome. Samuel frowned at his mother's decision, but said nothing. He only crossed his arms against his clean, black shirt and groaned.
She placed her hand on his lap and squeezed his thigh gently. "What news do you bring today?"
Welcome lowered his head and shook it slowly; Samuel still sulking by the pit. "It appears Parliament has issued a tax that all Colonies are expected to follow," he said, speaking softer than his usual deep voice.
"What type of tax? When did it happen?"
He rubbed his temples clockwise, closing his eyes and ignoring his wife's questions temporally. After a few moments, he opened them, turned to his left to speak directly to Martha.
"Remember the Molasses Act of thirty-three?"
"A little, why?"
"The new act is similar to it, only there is a three cent tax on foreign refined sugar and increased taxes on coffee, indigo, and certain kinds of wine. The Parliament has also forbid importation of rum and French wines. They are calling it the Sugar Act."
"But…" Martha brought both her hands to her cheeks and gaped open-mouthed.
"Astonished as I am, I see," Welcome remarked dryly.
"But we cannot afford that."
"I am aware, Martha. What Gods honest right does that tyrant overseas have to tax without the consent of the Colonies?"
"I don't know. Perhaps, the British are looking for a way to fund their losses. How harsh was the war? I know you've mentioned it on the odd occasion, but I never wanted to press you for further details."
"If you are referring to the Seven Years War, I believe the losses were great, although I only served a small part as a soldier. When I was shot in my knee, I was discharged in fifty-nine."
"But that is three years you served."
"You forget, my good women. That war lasted seven long years and I only served a portion of that. I know no more then you or anyone else, about the real reason for this Sugar Act. But perhaps," Welcome said, waving his index finger in front of Martha, "You might be correct. I have heard rumors from others who were soldiers far longer than I and have mentioned the debt the British suffered. This tax could be their own solution to pay for their losses."
"Then what are we to do?"
"I have thought about that, the whole miserable trip back home today. Thank goodness our little house is not far from town. The conclusion I have come up with is revolting against it." Welcome's face grew stern, and his bushy brows hunched forward. "What say you, Martha?"
A few drops trickled down her cheeks. She wiped them away and with a faint smile she held both of her husband's hands, peering up to meet two dark, brown eyes that were staring at her questionably. "I do not really approve. What would the penalties be, if we and others went against the Crown?"
He shrugged. "Likely death or something inhumane," he said honestly.
"Excuse me, but I'm still here!" Samuel said, waving his hands in the air, to gain attention. "What are you two babbling about? I've been sitting here and all you are doing is squabbling about some Act and taxes. What do you mean, revolting? Why are you and Mum talking about death? Are we going to die?"
"Shush son!" Welcome snapped. "I will explain later."
"Then may I leave?" Samuel asked in a pleading voice.
"No, and shush for the last time! You plant your bum firmly to that spot and do not move."
Samuel nodded. "I am sorry, Father."
"Good." Welcomed returned his focus towards his wife again, "Now that the interruptions have ceased, will you join me? It is the only answer that is true in my heart. This has to be the way."
Martha began to fidget and squirm on the bench but after a minute she nodded. "I trust you do have our family at heart, so I will help in any way possible."
Welcome slapped Martha's back lightly and a wide smile spread on his lips.
"You are obviously pleased by my choice," she said uncertainty. "Let us pray that this is the only tax we will have to face."
"Hear, hear! That is the spirit!" Welcomed shouted. "She is a tough old bird, isn't she Samuel?"
He returned his father's excitement and smiled but he was secretly confused. He put some of the pieces to the puzzle together and realized that the Sugar Act could cause friction with his family, neighbors and with the rest of the Colonies. But he could not understand what his father meant by revolting and why their lives could be at risk.
"You appear confused about something, son. What is it?"
His jaw dropped, at the thought of his father reading his mind. "How did you know?" he said, pointing accusingly.
Welcome chuckled softly. "What do you ever mean?"
The boy slowly inhaled and exhaled reassuringly. "Nothing, Father. Are you going to tell me what you and Mum were talking about? I understand a little. There is a new tax, called the Sugar Act and Mum and you want to revolt against it. By the way, what does it mean to revolt?"
"Oh, my dear inquisitive son," he began, chuckling. "Revolting… How should I phrase the word?" His father tapped one side of his head with a finger. "Ah… Samuel, have you heard the word 'rebel' or 'rebelling?'"
"Yes, I suppose so. Why?"
"Do you know the meaning?"
"I think so. It means to 'put up a fuss.'"
Smiling, Welcome beckoned to his son. "Come closer to us. No need for you to be across the room, even if it is not a far distance."
Samuel obeyed his wishes and walked briskly to where his mother and father were and plunked himself on the rough, wooden floor so he was facing his father's face.
"Thank you. And the word rebel has a more pronounced meaning; to refuse allegiance. You see, there is a ruler, His Majesty King George the Third, who lives overseas in a country known to many as Britain. The British Empire is very powerful and those who show no respect to His Majesty are often killed; usually by a firing squad or hung in the gallows."
Martha swatted her husband's shoulder. "Stop! He won't be able to sleep tonight if you fill his head with such stories."
"Stories indeed," Welcome huffed. "Samuel, do you understand so far?"
"I do, Father. King George must be a real rat for you and Mum to disobey his word."
His father nodded and continued. "My plan is to refuse any shipments that come into Boston Harbor. If your mother is correct about the British attempting to repair their debt and the Colonists revolt against other shipments of sugar, indigo and coffee; I hope His Majesty will come to terms with his decision and refrain from further taxation in the future."
Samuel whooped and hollered, dancing crazily around the room.
"Sit your bum down, son. At your age, I would have been hunting, tending to cows or planting. Your childish excitement shows you are not quite ready for such an undertaking. That is why your mother visits our goodhearted neighbors; they spare us food. Besides, I am not through speaking," he said, calmly. "Before you run off and create havoc, there are a few guidelines you must follow. Firstly, you will not harm any of the British officers. That means you will not provoke, threaten or attempt to kill them. That would be an act of treason in their eyes and your mother and I could not bear to lose you. So do not pull any foolish stunts. Second, I do trust you are mature enough to become my middleman, Samuel."
"Middleman! Welcome dear, I do not think that is a wise –"
He raised a palm to halt Martha from speaking. "Son, you know I cannot walk properly. I can barely walk half a mile without pain. Besides… I'm fifty-nine; I do not have the youthful strength anymore. I need for you to carry out any requests I ask of you."
"You mean you want me to help you with the Sugar Act?"
"Yes, and any other taxation that rotten scoundrel overseas throws in our faces. Your mother will help too but only in private, at home; without the use of sugar and molasses to cook with. I fear too much that the British would release their fury more on an innocent women than a young man."
Samuel smiled when he heard that his father referred to him as a man. He watched his son, as he tossed his shoulders back and saluted his father. "General, sir! What are my orders, sir?"
Welcome sighed, shaking his head. "Martha, could you try and settle our rambunctious son? And please remind him, he is not a soldier, nor is going to become one, right Samuel?"
The boy's head fell. "Look what you did, you big galoot. You hurt his feelings," Martha said, swatting her husband's thigh, angrily.
Welcome grunted. "Nonetheless, I never want him to act as a soldier. Now, Samuel, are you ready for your first order?"
Samuel jumped onto his feet and nodded eagerly.
"That is my boy," he grinned. "I want you to find every drop of sugar and molasses in this house, build a fire outdoors and burn it. And in your travels, if you spot rum bottles, burn those too. I do not want to be influenced by sipping, if we are revolting. These are your chores this afternoon."
"Oh, I will Father. You can count on me." And before his mother or father could finalize anything else, Samuel sprinted away to collect all the sugar and molasses he could find.