A/N: Good Morning! This was part of my entry for the Age of Edward Contest. It received Second Place in the Judges Vote. I'm truly honored.
Anyway, I'm continuing the story. I don't have an exact posting schedule yet, but I'm thinking twice a week, probably Mondays and Fridays. It was a long entry, lol, as most of my writing tends to be, so I'm splitting the initial post into three. Here's the first part.
Of course, the entire entry, as well as all the other wonderful entries, is available on the Age of Edward 2017 fanfiction page, but please note I've made some edits/changes/additions, so it'll be slightly different.
The original entry was betad by the lovely Michelle Renker Rhodes.
Most characters belong to S. Meyer. The rest is mine.
Summary: 1775: There is a revolution coming. American Patriot, Edward Cullen knows this. He plots, plans, and eagerly prepares for the colonies' unified uprising. But, when he meets the lovely Miss Swan, British Loyalist, it's the uprising within his heart which may put them both in danger.
Chapter 1 – The Incident with the Cargo
December 22, 1774 – Greenwich, Cumberland County, New Jersey
"'Tis a damn cold evening."
Jasper's shivers cause his teeth to chatter. Whether his chills are due to the frigid night or due to the purpose for which we are here, I cannot discern.
"Aye. 'Tis the sort of evening where a body might do well with the warmth of a…"
I shake the remainder of that blasphemous thought from my head before it leads me to treason. Nevertheless, Jasper must guess the rest.
"Aye," he chuckles rather wistfully.
Rubbing my hands together for friction, I narrow my lips and blow hot breath on them. Then, I inch forward and focus my gaze beyond the brick corner of the tannery across the square. For a few seconds, the heavy snowfall and my swirling breath block the view. When both dissipate, Jasper whispers.
"Look, there be Emmett."
Emmett lurks within the building's shadows. Similar to Jasper and I, he has affixed a mass of turkey feathers to the headscarf tied 'round his head. Red and black dye streak his face. Unlike Jasper and I, Emmett sports no shirt. His long hair is parted and plaited past his bare shoulders. His breeches are tattered and torn to the upper thighs. Neither does he wear stockings.
"That mad, son of a bachelor," Jasper murmurs. "His cock shall freeze right off."
"Aye, but then Em is not the sort to perform tasks in mere half measures, is he?"
We share quiet snorts.
I too am willing to do much for The Cause, for my homeland, and for its future children. I will tar feathers to my headscarf and paint lines 'cross my face. I will break into and destroy another man's property. I will risk a visit to the stocks and pillory, and I will chance a public flogging with the cat 'o nine tails, which generally accompanies such a visit.
But in these wintry conditions, I shall keep my breeches intact and safeguard my cock. At one-and-twenty years of age, I have had little opportunity to apply it to good use. 'Tis a pitiful fact I should someday like to remedy.
We here in the colony of New Jersey have been fortunate for the most part, if one may refer to the past few years as fortuitous. Over the course of these years, the Crown's attention has been diverted by the rebellious acts enacted by our brothers further north. All that may change as of this eve. Yet, we go forth in this endeavor with full knowledge of that possibility.
I sweep my gaze past Em and further down the dark square, where behind another building's corner, Jacob the Free Man awaits my signal. He is disguised much as the rest of us. Thankfully, the marketplace is for the most part abandoned at this time of eve, save for the occasional boy with his seditious pamphlets or the vagabonds searching for pockets to lighten.
When these find their way out of the square, I step from the shadows, and Emmett nods to me. With a sharp nod of my own, our scheme is set in motion.
Emmett releases an ear-splitting Indian call. As one, forty men return this call of the wild while rushing toward the building. 'Tis a warrior cry marking us as sons of this land, sons of liberty and not of the tyrant who sits upon a throne in a faraway land where most of us have never stepped foot.
Jacob throws the brick through the window, then Eric leaps through the broken pane and quickly unlocks the door. The rest of us pour into the house, yelling and howling.
Daniel Bowen, the Loyalist traitor, appears almost instantly. He wears his long shirt, sleep cap, and sports a rifle. We carry sticks. Unlike the red-coated scum currently holding these colonies in its grip, we are patriots, not murderers. As proof, Bowen raises his weapon, but Emmett lunges and snatches it before the man may fire.
"How dare you invade my home in this manner! What do you think you are you doing?" Bowen enquires when Jasper pulls his arms behind his back.
As I provide the rope to bind him, a woman screams from a chamber further down the narrow hall. I look at Jasper, and with my jaw, gesture toward the chamber.
"Ensure the wife is secured."
Jasper moves toward the bedchamber, and I assume the task of binding.
"If my wife is harmed, I shall see you hang!"
I push Bowen onto a chair, and Emmett takes the rope, winding it 'round both man and seat. Once he is well bound, I lean in and clarify things for the Tory gentleman.
"I give you my word, sir, my men and I mean you and your wife no harm. We are merely here for the cargo."
Instead of appearing comforted, the man's eyes bulge.
"Ah," I grin, "did you believe no one saw you and your friends unload the cargo onto our coastline?"
"That cargo belongs to the crown!"
"That cargo insults every man, woman, and child in this colony; nay, everyone in this nation, and we mean to rectify the situation."
"'Tisn't a nation," he hisses in turn. "'Tis merely a settlement of the King!"
I press together my lips, for Tory traitors do not see their treason, and I shall not waste my breath on a useless endeavor.
"Tell us where the cargo may be found, and we shall not long impose on your hospitality."
He sets his mouth and shoulders in defiance. "I shall see you face the gallows."
"That may be, sir," I smirk, "but if I am to face the gallows, you must tell me where to find the cargo so I may incriminate myself with it."
The men around us chuckle. Bowen's lips form an implacable line.
"Captain Bowen," I sigh, "you may withhold the information for as long as you wish, for I have forty hale and hearty men at my disposal and a score more not far from these parts," I lie. "Despite your plentiful Loyalist friends here in Cumberland County, there shall be no one riding to your rescue lest they wish to meet with my Mohawks."
"You are not real Indians," he sneers.
"What gave us away?" Jacob the Free Man snickers.
Bowen's eyes rake up and down Jacob's bare-chested form. "In your case, not even an Indian's skin is as black and filthy as-"
When Jacob swiftly raises a powerful arm to strike the man, Bowen flinches, providing me the fraction of a second necessary to still Jacob's massive hand.
"Have a care with your words, sir," I warn Bowen, "for insults at this moment do your situation no favors."
"You gave your word I would not be harmed!"
"And because I am a man of my word, I shall not allow my friend to strike you. But you have now offended him, and I gave no promise regarding your possessions." I rise back to my full height. "We will have the cargo, even if we must tear down this house to retrieve it. Make this easier on yourself and on your property by telling us where to look."
When he turns away from me and refuses to oblige, I nod a signal to the eagerly waiting men.
"Search the house."
Before the last word leaves my mouth, Jacob and a few of the more anxious amongst us begin knocking down furniture. Again, the wife screams.
"Sarah!" Bowen yells. "Worry not! 'Tis only the furniture being abused!"
"No! No, not my furniture!"
"Sir, I do believe she would prefer to hear the breaking of your bones rather than her furnishings," Jacob snickers.
Bowen huffs indignantly. "Instruct them to stop this madness this very moment, or it shall be you whom I hold responsible!"
"Tell me where to find the cargo."
He squares his jaw.
For the next few minutes, furniture is turned over and carelessly tossed about, while the mistress of the house screams like a banshee.
"My Queen Anne chairs!" she exclaims at one point, evidently so fond of them she recognizes the sound each makes upon breakage. "Husband, I beseech you! Make them stop!"
Bowen sits bound and defiant.
"Husband, they are destroying all my lovely items!"
When the tinkling of something delicate filters through the house, the madam appears to reach her limit.
"For the love of God, not my tea set! Desist! If my husband does not tell you where the cargo is, I shall tell you!"
I quirk an eyebrow at Bowen. "Shall we have it from the mistress or from you? Either one will serve. Or, if you prefer, we may continue with the-"
"In the cellar," he spits through his teeth. "Tis all in the cellar!"
I offer him a mock bow. Then, whistling through my teeth, I turn toward the destruction. "Very well, men, stop!"
The destruction ceases. Yet, in the ensuing silence, what sounds like a lone teacup strikes a wall and shatters.
From her bedchamber, the wife wails.
No, we are not fond of tea sets.
'Tis almost as cold below stairs as it is outdoors. I assume it keeps the cargo fresh. A lot of care has apparently been given the treasonous cargo unloaded in the smaller, and what the British likely supposed was safer, waters of Cohansey Creek, New Jersey.
We shall now teach those English tyrants not to think our colony weaker than the rest. Though we may be Tory-infested due to our proximity to New York, we shall show the British that we stand completely and irrevocably with our sisters and brothers in Philadelphia, Boston, Charleston, and Yorktown. Let them enact their coercive and retaliatory acts here, for they shall regret it.
The men lay what is likely needless siege to the contents of the cellar – for the crates are clearly marked and labeled in the corner of the room. When we finally work our way to the crates, each man heaves one on his shoulder and carries it above stairs.
Bowen scowls when he espies me. "You still have time to stop this madness or you shall pay dearly for confiscating the Crown's property!"
"I assure you, sir, confiscation is not our intention."
We carry the cargo out of the house and into the snowy street, where a crowd is forming of men, women, and even some children. The ones who circle the cargo are obviously Patriots. Those who are Loyalists scurry away like the traitorous rats they are.
By the time all the crates are carried out, the crowd has found its voice. It is eager to send the Crown a message, and the cargo from the Greyhound shall do well as the instrument of the missive. It shall now face a similar fate to the cargo from the Dartmouth in Boston a year earlier.
"Burn it! Burn it! Burn it!" the crowd yells while my fellow defenders of liberty and justice cup their hands over their mouths and resume their war cries.
"What of Bowen?" Emmett asks eagerly.
I give him a crooked smile. "I shall retrieve him."
"Hurry, my cock is freezing!"
Jasper is the lone one of us remaining in the house, keeping watch over its inhabitants.
"Keep the wife locked in her bedchamber and safe from the crowd. Those people are ravenous." I grin wryly at Bowen as I cut the ropes binding him to the chair and wrench him up by his long shirt's collar.
"What will you do to me?" His voice quivers and all his previous defiance leaches out of him when I fail to reply.
The crowd outside verily salivates when I return with Bowen. It is no longer simply thirsty for the cargo's fate, but all agog for violence. They crave vengeance for the brutality enacted on our brothers and sisters in Boston and for the ongoing blockade of its port, making it nigh on impossible to provide Bostonians with even basic necessities.
The crates have been opened and the cargo piled high. Bowen appears ready to piss himself.
"I pray you, do not hurt me," he pleads. "You gave me your word!"
"What fool would take the word of a man who shall soon face the gallows?" I sneer.
Emmett hands me the lit torch. I take it in one hand, still holding Bowen by the collar with the other. All the while, he struggles to flee my grip.
Jacob the Free Man rushes Bowen from behind. When he turns the jar over Bowen's head, the Loyalist screams and drops to his knees, while the thick, brown substance oozes down his face and frame. A dozen of our men follow suit and deposit the feathers on him.
"What is it? What have you done? Stop it, I beg you! Stop!"
"Come, sir, quit your girlish protests," Emmett says in disdain. "'Tis merely tar and feathers, and they do not hurt! Observe how we also have some on our heads – well, on our headscarves. We would not be fools enough to tar feathers to our heads."
The crowd roars its approval.
"Captain Daniel Bowen," I announce at a volume to hush the crowd, "you shall now be placed in the square's pillory for all to witness your feathered glory. Should you ever again consider betraying your countrymen and breaking the embargo against those who seek to oppress us, I ask you to remember this night. I ask you to recall the sight and sound of Patriots standing together as one. And I want you to behold your treasonous cargo's fate."
As soon as I put the torch to the cargo, the entire thing goes up in flames, for it has been kept wonderfully dry and fresh. The crowd whoops and hollers. My fellow Indians howl at the moon.
"Savages!" Bowen cries, spitting feathers out of his mouth. "How dare you treat me –nay, how dare you treat the Crown's property in this manner?"
The flames dance before my eyes, warming me inside and out. Emmett and the rest of his bare-chested followers revel in the heat, rejoicing, for their cocks shall live to see another day. The cargo's scent wafts in the air. No, I cannot deny I miss its taste upon my tongue, but I shall die a thousand hypocrite's deaths before I succumb to the craving.
"A mob of smugglers and traitors exploiting an excuse to rid yourselves of legal cargo, 'tis all you are!"
I grin crookedly. "Smugglers we may be, sir, but traitors we are not. We are loyal to our land and our birthplace, which is far more than I may say for you."
"You are cowards! Show your faces if you are such brave Patriots."
"Sir, we are Patriots, not imbeciles," Emmett chuckles as he performs a war dance around the bonfire.
The crowd laughs while the fire burns. Embers and feathers float in the dark sky before joining the snow. As the ashes and laughter die down, I cast my gaze around those gathered. In spite of the laughter, the flames of the bonfire illuminate the sadness etched 'cross some faces.
Emmett leans in, his speech hushed and much more subdued. "Edward, New Jersey's Sons of Liberty shall no longer be unknown to the redcoats."
I nod slowly, my gaze remaining on the bonfire. "Just as our brothers in Boston accepted retaliation in exchange for defending their rights as men, so shall we." I glance at Emmett out of the corner of my eye. "Shall we not?"
"Aye," Emmett replies. "Nevertheless, I put forth the reminder lest it is forgotten in the moment's merriment."
"A merry moment indeed," I smirk. "We shall make a hearty attempt to control our glee as we dance upon the ashes of treason."
After several moments of silence, one of the women in the crowd speaks, her wistful gaze on the evening's bonfire.
"'Tis a shame, nonetheless, that we must burn it, for a cold evening it is, and under other circumstances, a good 'ole cup 'a English tea would 'a done a body well."
The next post will likely be Monday, then probably Wednesday, at which point I'll have a clearer picture of what the regular posting schedule will be. Thanks!