A/N: Thanks so much for your wonderful thoughts.
Most characters belong to S. Meyer. Some belong to history. The rest belong to me. However, all mistakes are mine.
Uprising Chapter 30 – The Incident at McCarty Farm
Cullen Hill House
10 February 1776
I write to inform you that you are a grandfather, as I am delivered of a hale boy we have named Edward George Cullen. I am well, Father, with only the normal post-partum issues, I am assured by Mrs. McCarty, whom delivered the babe.
With those points out of the way, and as I am now needed by a delightfully demanding babe, I shall keep the remainder of this note brief. Father, you and I have had our differences of late. Despite the short distance, we have not seen one another in many months. Yet, I extend to you an invitation to Cullen Hill to meet your grandson. Nonetheless, I must make a stipulation: you shall come as a father and grandfather, not as a soldier in His Majesty's army. If you can meet this stipulation I shall welcome you with open arms. If you cannot, for the well-being of my family, I cannot welcome you.
I do hope to see you soon.
Cullen Hill House
10 February 1776
My dear Alice:
I hope you are well, and that affairs continue to be as relatively quiet as possible in New York colony as you wrote of last Christmas, although I understand you must miss your husband, Lieutenant André. Since his capture by the rebels last November in the rebels' attempted Quebec uprising, and his current imprisonment in Pennsylvania Colony, nightly do I pray for his well-being, as I know you must. Well, shall we call it a relative imprisonment? As you described in your last letter, your husband's captors allow him to write you and allow him the freedom of roaming about town after he vowed not to attempt escape. He be a brave man, indeed.
But let us not discuss such things in this letter. I shall move on and quickly apologize for not having replied to your aforementioned letter at Christmastime. As you know, my husband was away as well, he on his farming business, and I was heavy with child. Both issues kept my mind occupied and my hands unwilling to write. As you might note, I have just written the previous two sentences in past tense, for my husband is returned, and I am delivered of a hale boy. His name is Edward George, and even now, as I write, he is at my breast. All of Cullen Hill is in agreement that he is the most perfect being ever beheld. When you meet him, I am sure you shall not disagree.
Dearest, I recall when we were young girls, we dreamed of someday having children who would play with one another. I do not forsake that dream. The invitation was not an empty one, for I truly do hope you may someday visit me and meet young Edward George. I miss you very much, Alice. Write when you can, and I promise I shall reply promptly even if young Edward is wailing.
Cullen Hill House
11 February 1776
I am home, and Isabella has given birth to a son. We have named him Edward George Cullen in honor of his father, and in honor of General George Washington himself. 'Twas entirely Isabella's idea, and the pride I feel for not merely her choice of name, but for her bravery in the act of birthing him, which I witnessed, is indescribable. They are both well, yet I am so immensely awed by my wife and son I can barely tear myself away from them long enough to write.
Therefore, I shall keep this brief though aye, there is much for us to discuss. My wife reminded me just minutes birthed that our struggle means more now than it ever has. Our son and your grandson shall not answer to a King, but shall live a free man beholden to his own future.
Since Edward George's birth, thoughts of you and Mother fill those corners of my mind not filled by my wife and son. Mother has passed on her scarlet hair once more, and you, sir, your eye color.
I pray you are well, Father, and I hope you can find your way back to Freehold before I must depart.
Respectfully and affectionately your son,
Captain Edward Anthony Cullen
First Continental Army
Late February, 1776
"No nurse either! Lord in Heaven, 'tis bad enough, Mistress, you forego a wet nurse."
Mrs. Clearwater stands before my wife wringing her hands nervously as it has become clear to her that Isabella has no intention of seeking out either a nurse for our son nor Mrs. Flint nor any newly birthed tenant mother for the duty of feeding him.
"At the very least, employ one for the evening hours, so that you may sleep. Even my old mistress – Edward's mother, Mrs. Cullen – employed a nurse for the evening hours."
My wife smiles down at our son as he takes his fill from her yet again.
"Mrs. Clearwater, you forget I am Mrs. Cullen and Edward's mother."
"My dear mistress, you do not take my meaning," Mrs. Clearwater moans. "I speak of Edward Anthony's mother, not Edward George's."
Unable to withhold my amusement at my wife's continued impish ways, for she very well takes Mrs. Clearwater's meaning, I snort under my breath. I am seated next to Isabella on our bed, mostly dressed, for I unfortunately have errands to run this morn which can no longer wait. Yet, here I still be, unable to make myself depart. Isabella is all loveliness in her morning gown, and our son no less as he lays bundled between us, hungrily and noisily suckling while I stroke his soft, scarlet hair. 'Tis Mother's hair through and through. His eyes, though so very young and a grey-green when open, darken more every passing day. My wife likes to laugh and shake her head, exclaiming there is little of our son which is not Cullen. I cannot deny it nor my pride at it.
Truly, I hover, waiting to see if I may be of assistance in any manner – adjusting pillows, passing clean linens, rocking young Edward George into slumber after his feedings. In reality, I have not yet learned to stray more than a room away from either, which is unfortunate. Today shall be the first time they shall be beyond my reach. Such anxiety tightens my lungs, 'tis a physical struggle to clamp down and disguise it, for in four days' time, Emmett and I shall be required to rejoin our regiment in Boston. Colonel Arnold, along with Jasper, Jacob, and the rest of our men, likely await us.
"Young master, speak some sense into the mistress, I pray you."
Mrs. Clearwater continues with her woes. Woes she knows not, for according to Rosalie, I cannot bed my wife, not yet, regardless of how hale she appears. Neither will her womb be healed sufficiently for bedding in four days' time, when I must depart. But I can kiss her wildly as I have done since my return, and I plan to do so before I depart on my errands this morn. Therefore, as much as I have always held Mrs. Clearwater in deep respect and affection, she is in the way, and I prepare to thank her for her advice before asking her to leave and shut the door. Nevertheless, I cannot resist teasing her some more first.
"The young master cannot speak sense for he cannot speak yet, Mrs. Clearwater," reply I.
"I speak to you," Mrs. Clearwater chastises now, "not to the young master."
"Isabella," I say to my wife, "this 'Young Edward' and 'Young master' business may become a bit befuddling. We shall have to find a way to differentiate between my son and I or the household shall be in uproar."
"You make sport of the business," says Mrs. Clearwater, frowning now as she sees Isabella and I withhold our mutual amusement, "but should the mistress's father, Major Swan, learn that his daughter does not even employ a wet nurse, he shall have even more to say than he already does regarding the supposed barbaric nature of colonists."
"I care not a whit," I sneer, "for what-"
"Dear Mrs. Clearwater, I apologize," Isabella intercedes before I say something I may or may not regret regarding her father. "We were indeed making sport, and 'twas badly done. My excuse is that I have barely slept for a fortnight. My husband's excuse is that he needs fresh air. Either way, my father knows well I have been of a contradictory nature my entire life. Furthermore, he is a reserved Englishman, and should he ever learn, which I do not see how he would, that I dare nurse my own child, he would be too embarrassed at being possessed of such womanly knowledge to be shocked by it."
I grin ruefully at my wife, for even a fortnight birthed and weary, her mind is sharper and her words better planned than are mine. Yet, as the mischievous sparkle in Isabella's eyes is doused, my grin withers.
"What is more, though word has been sent to Father regarding Edward George's birth, and my husband and I agreed that I should welcome Father into our home should he be prepared to come as a grandfather and not as a soldier, I have not heard back…and I do not believe he shall come." She finishes with a sigh as she looks back down at Edward George with a melancholic smile. "Worry not, Mrs. Clearwater."
My wife has taught me how to bundle a folded, clean linen around Edward George's bottom so that he does not soil the entire household every hour or so.
"Secure the pins carefully, Edward. Do not prick him." Her tone holds more than a hint of warning, even from the other side of the bed, where she is currently changing out of her shift and donning her day clothes.
"Wife, I am perfectly capable of securing my son's clean linens without pricking him. Is that not right, young Edward?" I say, grinning down at my son.
He utters unintelligible sounds in reply, squirming about like an eel.
"Correct, my son. Do you see? Even he says his father is…" I trail off, for I have looked up, only meaning to flash my eyes toward my wife for an instant, but she is pure beauty, and I cannot tear my eyes away.
Even had I not spent months lost in the wilderness, wet and sick, eating carcasses, and with such frigidness in my bones I have still not warmed properly, only to arrive to a losing battle…the sight of her long, dark, and silky hair cascading down to her waist, for she has not pinned it yet…her full, swollen breasts, for her corset is not on yet…her plump and round-
A shriek from my son and a sharp gasp from my wife swiftly return my eyes to my duty. Edward George's face turns a shade to match his hair. He opens his mouth, and for a handful of seconds, no sound erupts. When it does, 'tis a wail that pierces my heart and my eardrums with equal pain.
"Edward, you pricked him!"
Such remorse instantly courses through me, my blood runs cold.
"My boy, I am so incredibly-" I move to lift him from the bed, but Isabella swoops in like a hawk, shoves me aside, and before I have blinked, he is in her arms.
I lift my arms to enclose them both within, but Isabella shrugs me off as she rocks our son in her arms.
"I am sorry, my love. I should have changed you myself. I am so sorry."
When I note she is crying along with him, I am ready to fall to my knees in apology. Once more, I attempt to pull them into my embrace, and though she fights me at first, she is too consumed with crying and rocking our son to push hard. Finally, I have them both in my hold.
"Isabella," I whisper, "I am sorry."
"'Tis not I you pricked," sobs she.
"You are correct. Son, I am sorry," I say, brushing my lips against our son's soft forehead. His wails have quieted to broken sobs.
"Why were you not paying attention to what you did?"
"I became distracted," I admit, swallowing thickly. "You are so very lovely, and I missed your body so."
Isabella's sobs cease, and her eyes meet mine, dark and full of tears. Between us, our son's broken sobs have quieted as well, now occasional whimpers.
"I am not so very lovely now. I see not why you were distracted."
I drop my head further to her eye level. "Are you jesting with me?"
She holds my gaze but does not immediately reply. "Rosalie says those few husbands she knows who have witnessed their child's birth have a difficult time…seeing their wives as women afterward. 'Tis one of the reasons women suggest men leave whilst their wives are giving birth."
"I ask again, are you jesting with me?"
"How can you desire me when I be less than fortnight birthed?" asks she in a whisper.
"Even much less than a fortnight birthed I desired you - a day birthed likely," reply I thickly. By now, our son has fallen asleep once more, his small chest rising and falling in my periphery.
"Now you jest," she accuses, while I shake my head. "But you cannot have me," my wife breathes. "Not for a month after birthing."
"I am aware – teasing hellion." When I smirk, she chuckles, but her chuckle soon fades.
"And you shall not be here when I am one month birthed."
I swallow hard. "I am aware," I breathe.
We are both silent. Finally, Isabella exhales.
"I pricked him as well yesterday, when you were bathing."
I snort and kiss her forehead.
"Between us both, he shall be full of holes," she sighs.
"He shall be fine," I smile. "See? He sleeps peacefully, as if nothing happened. I believe the prick hurt us more than it hurt him."
"Perhaps," she smiles softly.
"He is a Cullen, strong and hale. We Cullen men bear pain well."
Isabella chuckles quietly, and as our son drifts into slumber between us, our lips meet and brush, followed by our tongues.
"I wonder..." breathes she against my mouth.
"What do you wonder?"
She does not immediately reply. When she does, she says, "I love you, Edward."
"I love you, Isabella," I whisper against her lips. "Now, I must go run my errand before you attempt to stop me."
"You know me well. Return soon."
"Edward! This be a pleasant surprise." Emmett's voice is as loud and boisterous as usual, despite the mourning in which he must be regardless of the fool his father was. No matter what, a sire is a sire.
"Come in, come in," he further invites.
He leads me within, his large footsteps loud and heavy upon the wooden floors, announcing our direction to all and sundry. Thankfully, he be not this way when out of the house, for a stealthier fellow soldier no man could ever want.
"Rosalie, see who visits us so unexpectedly," announces he as into the sitting hall we arrive. 'Tis a comfortable parlor with sparse yet charming furnishings. Duncan McCarty was a gifted craftsman, I shall give the man his due on that much, at the very least. He taught his son his craft, and his wife, a much kinder person than was ever he and wonderful at weaving, taught her skill to both her daughter and daughter-in-law. The result is warm and lovely rugs hanging on sturdy walls and topping handsome seats.
McCarty Farm as a whole is adequately-sized for the once five main occupants: Duncan McCarty, his wife Mary, Emmett and his wife, Rosalie, and Katrina McCarty. It would have comfortably held a child or two as well, had Emmett and Rosalie been blessed with such. Now, the home is down to three occupants. What is more, the cries of children of their own under Emmett and Rosalie's roof appears not to be their lot.
'Tis strange; less than a fortnight earlier, the thought of never hearing the cries of my own children under Cullen Hill's roof did little more than cause a twinge of disappointment to stir within me. The twinge was surely outweighed by concern for my wife's well-being and concerns regarding the success or failure of our revolution.
However, now, the thought of a life absent of Edward George…of not having his lusty cries fill our chambers nightly when he wakes hungry for his mama's breast, the thought of never hearing his gurgling swallows as he sates himself, never feeling him in my arms afterward as I cradle him into slumber so that his mother may obtain her rest as well…these thoughts make my heart feel as if 'tis being ripped from my chest.
For a moment, I know not how Emmett and Rosalie bear it, the lack of a child borne of their love. But then, you cannot truly miss what you have not had, which in Emmett and Rosalie's case be a blessing.
"Edward, what do you here?" Rosalie asks as she stands to curtsy, and I offer her a bow. In her hands, she holds knitting implements.
"So much wonder, I begin to think I am not welcome," I say, grinning.
"Nonsense," contradict both she and her husband almost as one.
"You know you are always welcome in our home, Edward, but is all well with Isabella and young Edward?" the former further inquires. And now I note the frown of concern which mars her features, for the woman adores my son. Simultaneously, a stillness comes over Emmett, for he adores whatever his wife adores.
"Edward is hale, hearty, fat, and hungry," I reply to set her at ease, "just as he was two days ago, when you last visited. And his mother is all that his hale and lovely, though weary from lack of sleep."
Here, Rosalie sets a palm upon her chest and visibly exhales. "Forgive me." She smiles now.
"There is nothing to forgive," say I. "I thank you for your concern, and once more thank you for all you did for Isabella in my absence."
"'Tis only we never thought to see you so far from your wife and son before 'tis time for us to depart," Emmett further explains.
At this reminder that I must soon leave my wife and son behind, my grin fades.
"Again, I would never take offense to either of your concern for my son and my wife. Aye, 'tis the confidence in your affection…and your trust in us which has brought me to your door this morn, for I must discuss a subject I wish I did not have to. And with my wife birthed less than a fortnight, I do not want to speak of such things in our home, though she knows I be on this errand and she sanctions it however begrudgingly."
Emmett now frowns deeply, his features set in obvious confusion. "Our affection and trust you have."
"Aye. Please, sit, Edward," says Rosalie much more sedately, and with her expression less one of confusion, for perhaps she suspects my purpose. She gestures to a bench opposite the upholstered chair on which they sit. The bench's seat has been softened with a thick rug weaved with red and yellow flowers throughout.
"I thank you both," I say and adjust myself, for this conversation may be long and awkward.
"Would you like some tea?" Rosalie offers.
"Nay, I thank you. Mrs. Clearwater sent me off with a hearty breaking of the fast before scampering off to assist Leah and Isabella with the babe in my absence. How one, minute being requires so many hands to ensure its comfort, I only begin to comprehend."
At this, Rosalie chuckles. "Please tell Isabella I shall stop in tomorrow to see her and the babe. I have missed them these two days, but Emmett and I agree the three of you are due time alone." She offers Emmett, who sits next to her, a side-long smile, and he swiftly picks up her hand and weaves their fingers together.
"Edward, I suspect I know the reason for your visit. Please, speak openly and confidently."
I draw in a breath and release it heavily. "Very well. Is your sister here?"
"Nay," says he, shaking his head. "She has not taken the news of Father's death in Quebec well. Normally, 'twould be touching to know she misses her sire so severely, but all she does is moan about how he was the only one who truly loved her."
Rosalie rolls her eyes. "Since yours and Emmett's return and the news of Duncan's death, she takes daily walks. I would commend such a practice and such desire for solitary introspection. However, 'tis almost a fortnight of such walks, and they do not appear to have altered her state of mind."
"She is…a difficult woman," Emmett nods. With a sigh, he draws closer to me. "Edward, Rosalie has informed me of how disrespectful and out of hand Katrina behaved in Isabella's and your home while you and I were away. What is more, Rosalie has also informed me of how Katrina locked herself in her room when Isabella was in travail and made no attempt to assist. I am heartily ashamed, and I assure you, I have spoken to her and made it clear to her that when we next depart, she must show respect-"
I shake my head as she speaks. "She cannot stay at Cullen Hill when next you and I depart."
Emmett reels back. "Edward…she was grievously wrong. Isabella is your wife, and mistress of your home, but my sister is a single maiden, and she cannot remain alone- unless you mean Rosalie should remain here as well, and I cannot allow that – not in these uncertain times."
"I certainly do not mean Rosalie should remain here as well. Neither Isabella nor I would ever abide it. Your wife is as much sister to Isabella and I as you are brother to us. 'Tis why we asked you both to be godparents to Edward George."
"I thank you," he nods, "but-"
"There are things you do not know, Emmett; things I shall tell you now, and which I would say in front of your sister were she here, but I shall not wait for her to arrive." I shake my head.
"Please go on," he nods.
"Two nights ago, Isabella confessed to me that the evening she went into labor, the evening you and I arrived to Cullen Hill and I found Isabella mid-hill, fallen in the snow, your sister espied her from her window and did nothing."
Both Emmett and Rosalie's eyes grow wide in shock. For a few seconds, neither speaks. Emmett attempts it once or twice before his voice finally returns.
"How…? I… Is Isabella completely sure…?"
I shake my head. "Isabella claims she is not completely sure. 'Twas dark, says she. She was frightened and in travail. She says it may have been a trick of her mind, of her fear, of the cold."
"Well then-" Emmett begins.
"Isabella's mind does not play tricks on her due to fear or cold – or much else."
'Tis Rosalie who speaks. Emmett's eyes sweep toward her.
"I am sorry, my dear husband, but 'tis the truth of it." Rosalie looks at me. "Why did she not say anything of it to me?"
"She wanted to discuss it with me first," I reply, "for she did truly fear she had imagined it, and she feared if she told you-"
"I would tell my husband straight away, which of course, I would."
Emmett knows not what to say nor where to look.
"Emmett…" I wait for him to meet my eyes, "Emmett, you do recall the night in your cellar after Isabella snuck into my tavern. 'Twas your sister, if you will recall," I say slowly and carefully," who was anxious to ride Isabella to the Pinelands and abandon her there to the wolves."
"I do not believe she truly meant-"
"Emmett, there is more." I scrub a hand down my face for as much as it pains me, I must continue. My eyes stray to Rosalie.
"Your face is as scarlet as is your son's hair. Would you like me to leave the room?" she asks.
"Nay." I draw in a breath. "That same night we returned, while Isabella was upstairs in our chambers," I say through gritted teeth, "and I rushed outdoors to wash the muck off myself to assist her…your sister followed me out and watched me bathe. What is more, she refused to leave until I told her to go assist my wife, at which point she ran back and locked herself in her chambers."
By this point, Emmett is ashen. Rosalie squeezes his hand tightly within hers.
"And one more-"
Emmett puts up a hand, palm out. "Edward, if you are trying to convince me of all the reasons why Katrina is no longer welcome at Cullen Hill, you have given me more than sufficient."
"Unfortunately, there is one more, and I shall not keep it from you."
Emmett's mouth forms a tight line before he nods once sharply.
"I have come to the conclusion that the morning after Isabella and I wed, when we awoke to her father and half of his regiment holding their muskets to Cullen Hill and demanding Isabella's return…'twas not your father, Duncan, who informed the major. Your father and I rarely saw eye to eye on much, but his hatred of the redcoats surpassed that of most men. He would not have gone to Isabella's father."
"And think you Katrina would have approached Isabella's father? She hates him as well."
"Aye, she does," I nod. "But…along with the rest of us, Katrina was once friends with James. She would have gone to James, and James to Isabella's father, both of them in the hopes there was still time to separate Isabella and I."
The silence which ensues is tense and awkward.
"It makes sense, husband," Rosalie finally says. "Katrina was devastated by the knowledge that Edward would wed Isabella. She would have gone to James to attempt to separate them."
Emmett cups a hand over his mouth. "Since she was a young girl, she expected to marry you."
"Emmett, you know I never made her any promises. In fact, I had no intention of marrying until the state of our nation was resolved. But when Isabella entered my life…"
"Aye," he smiles weakly. "Aye, I understand. I recall how you looked at her from the very beginning." He shakes his head and his smile withers. "What am I to do with her now? Regardless, she is my sister, and I must ensure her safety before we depart."
"Of course. But I must ensure my wife and my son's safety, and I do not trust your sister around them."
Emmett holds my gaze and says nothing.
"She has done this to herself," Rosalie says.
"She must marry," Emmett says.
We three are silent.
"I abhor the thought of forcing a woman into marriage," Rosalie says, "yet…there is no choice."
"But who?" Emmett wonders.
I stand. "I am afraid the rest of it is a discussion in which I cannot partake."
Emmett stands as well.
"Emmett," I say warily, "I truly hope this conversation has not damaged our friendship, but my wife and my son are my priorities."
"As they should be," he says firmly. "As my wife is always my priority." Emmett lays a heavy hand on my shoulder. "I am upset, but not at you, brother."
"I am sorry to have brought you such news, but I am glad our friendship shall not suffer."
He offers me another weak smile.
"Now, I shall depart, for we have very little time left with our wives and-"
The front door suddenly opens, and footsteps are heard approaching.
"This damnable snow! I hate it. I despise it. I-"
Katrina enters the room with a scowl upon her face, and espying, she comes to a halt.
"Edward," she breathes, pulling down her hood. "What do you here? How are you? Please sit." She offers me a broad smile. "Would you like some tea to warm-"
I shake my head and hold her gaze stoically. "I am leaving, Katrina. I came to speak to your brother and your sister-in-law, and now, I shall return to my wife and son." With those words, I turn back to Emmett and offer him a nod, then to Rosalie and bow my head.
I neither speak nor look at Katrina as I depart.
My heart is heavy as I return home, for though I know I had no choice, it pains me to cause Emmett such grief and to know he must now determine a suitable situation for his sister in the few days we have left. Yet, as I told him, my wife and son and their safety are my priority. I will not have that woman under the same roof as them.
"Heartless wretch," I scowl, as I recall how I found my wife fallen in the snow, and Katrina having seen it happen and done nothing. "She and Edward George could have perished," I seethe aloud atop Isabella's mare, Hope. "In which case, I would have dismembered…"
I trail off as I spot an unfamiliar horse atop the hill and in front of my house. Aye, the horse is unknown…but the scarlet, royal cloak atop it and the golden decorations on its ears easily mark it for the red-coated beast it be.
My blood runs cold.
"Hope, let us see how fast your ride!" And as I kick Hope hard, I pull out my musket and ready it through my blind fury.
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"See" you soon.