To Tasha: A story written just for you, with love from your older sister, Toni.
This story is in memory of all other stories we have written for each other, and all the stories that are recently going through my head that I haven't written yet.
I write it for you, because you are my best friend and my sister, and only you can truly understand all the fun little tidbits of inside jokes that this story will probably have riddled inside it.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it.
What Gentlemen Are Made Of
James waved, watching the carriage roll away into the distance, leaving a trail of dust behind it. Beside him, Henri cheered and called out joyful farewells, and promises of seeing their beloved friend again soon, while the girl in the carriage returned the wave with a tearful smile and kisses blown from her hand. James tried to smile. He tried to make his wave cheerful. But his throat was dry from the dust, leaving him silent and unhappy, and a smile was the last thing to be seen on his face. Bitterly, he dropped his hand and watched the carriage pull out of sight, taking his closest friend with it to a land he would never go to, a land called Ohio. Now even the memory of all they'd had together would be like the dust, dry and empty, before finally settling down to the earth to be forgotten forever with the first spring rain.
"We will miss her," Mr. Franklin said, shaking his head. "It's quite like losing a family member, isn't it?" He placed a hand on James' shoulder, coughing dust out of his lungs. "But we'll see Miss Phillips again. Don't worry." He turned and walked back into the Gazette, calling Henri and Moses after him, and turned to remind James to follow as well.
James sighed, staring down at the dusty road beneath his feet. Sarah…he had begun to realize how much he thought of her like a sister when she had first gone back to England, and ever since then the thought of her leaving left him feeling empty and afraid, like he'd lose someone close to him forever. And now she was going to Ohio with her mother and father, to stay there for the rest of her life. The time had finally come when he had to say goodbye to her forever, and nothing could make him feel any better about it.
"I'll miss you, Sarah," he whispered, shaking his head and turning away from the road. "And I'll never forget what you taught me. About journalism, bravery, maturity…" he sighed, fighting against tears. "You even taught me how to be a better American, even without trying. But the most important of all, you showed me how important it is to be a gentleman. Well…for your sake, that's what I'll be. I will be the most gentlemanly man in Philadelphia, if only to honor you as a friend."
His purpose now set firmly in his mind, he walked into the Gazette to join the others. The War was over, but a new stage had begun…it was time to prove that Americans could be gentlemen too.
5 years later
James Hiller, the 19-year-old Editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette, finished cleaning the ink off of his hands and hung up his apron on the hook on the wall of the Print Shop. It was nearing 7:00 in the morning, and soon it would be time to eat. His stomach growled, reminding him that getting up at 4:00 and not eating till 7:00 did not sit well with his stomach. He chuckled. "Henri," he called loudly. "Is the ink washed off your hands yet?"
The tall, 13-year old French-American Journalist and Apprentice of the Gazette walked into the room with a dazed expression on his face. Rarely did he enjoy waking up so early in the morning, and most of the time he would rather sleep, eat, and flirt with girls than actually do any work, but he did his job out of necessity and too few hands. He pushed his black hair out of his face and rolled his eyes, yawning. "Yes," he answered eventually, glancing at the finished stacks of newspaper that were ready to be rolled and set out with the delivery boys. "Do you need help rolling?"
James offered a large grin. "Absolutely. Thanks for offering, though I would have had you do it anyway." He grabbed a newspaper, rolled it, and tied a string around it with a speedy efficiency only found with those who had done the same for several years. Then he tossed it into a sack. No sooner had he begun doing the rolling, he became completely immersed in it, losing all track of time. Ten minutes later, he found himself staring at an empty shelf, all the newspapers rolled and placed in their sacks for delivery. He turned and smiled at Henri, who was still tying his last one. "Well, you can send the Newsies off on their jobs," he said. "I'll start breakfast."
Henri nodded, still yawning and looking tired, and walked outside with the bags of newspapers. James made his way to the kitchen.
By the time breakfast was served, eaten, and cleaned up, Henri had already gone off to school and James had gone into town. Ever since Mr. Franklin had moved to the large Manor downtown, and Moses had moved to another state with his Wife and kids, James had become the owner of the Gazette, and did his best to keep it going. For years he had tried to prove his worth as a journalist, editor, and trustworthy man in town, and had done his best to be the most charming gentleman he could possibly be. He had gotten so good at being reliable, that it had become second nature to him. Gone were the days of "hootie-hoot-hoot" and opinionated nonsense. He had matured into a man, and a good-looking one at that. In fact, he had become so eligible a suitor that most of the women in town were looking to match him up to their daughters. But he avoided all kinds of marriages with the skill of a charming gentleman, and though he managed to convince people he was not the right one for them, he still managed not to break any hearts. All in all, he was pretty pleased with himself.
He rode his horse into town, running through a mental checklist of all the errands he needed to run, and prepared himself for a long day. For undoubtedly, that was what it would be. Just like always. His first stop was the Docks, at the ocean bay at the edge of the city. He usually went there first, because he could gather tidbits of information for stories to be placed in the newspaper for the next day. Today, as he rode up and dismounted, he was rewarded with a particularly large ship coming into the harbor. Interested, he grabbed his notepad and pen and hurried up to one of the dock workers.
"What is that ship there?" he asked, making sure he still had the reins of his horse with him. "It's pretty big, isn't it?"
"That there is a royal frigate," the dock worker said, nodding in the direction of the ship. "The nephew of the King of England came to America to look for his betrothed, they say. I haven't seen him yet, but from what I hear, he doesn't like America very much."
"I see. So what is his betrothed doing in America, I wonder?" James prompted, quickly taking notes.
"Well, rumor from the sailors is she came to America with her father, and became an American. He's here to make her change her mind, I suppose." The man shrugged. "That's all that I know."
"Well, thanks. I'll keep asking around." James smiled and kept going, pestering people with his journalism questions. Eventually, he had a pretty interesting story, but it wasn't quite good enough for a large article. So he moved on to other subjects. News, current happenings, Mrs.Alton's Tea Party, and several other stories that were of interesting. Satisfied with his work, he expertly mounted his horse and rode into town.
"Hmm, that's pretty interesting about the nephew of the King," James mused thoughtfully, riding through the street. "I can't blame the girl for becoming an American…and actually that improves my opinion of her…but why would he come looking for her? Why not just choose someone else?" He shrugged. "Oh well. I guess it really doesn't concern me, but I can't help being interested."
"Talk to yourself again, James?"
James reigned his horse in and glanced down, then almost groaned. But he managed not to, and somehow kept a straight face. Annabelle Smith was standing on the street corner, apparently waiting for him to ride by. She was annoying, prim, and spoiled, and she was convinced that she and James were meant to be, and never left him alone. She practically tore apart any other lady who got close to him, and James was beginning to hate her stalking him.
"You are so adorable," Annabelle giggled. "Why don't you come in for Tea today? You haven't come in such a long time…"
"I'm afraid not, Miss Smith," James answered through clenched teeth. Annabelle was the one person who managed to make so agitated that he was literally driven up against the wall. If his dignity would let him, he'd run away screaming. But he had enough self control to just push her away and hope she stayed that way. "I have many errands to do, and the Gazette to take care of .Though I appreciate your offer. Good day, Miss Smith." He cleared his throat, nodded, and rode off a bit faster than he had been riding before.
He shivered once she was out of sight, glad that he had escaped that one, and refocused his attention on the errands he had to run. That was when he heard the scream. James reigned up, startled, and looked around him anxiously. Who had screamed? And why? He rode of in the direction he heard it come from, and found himself riding back to the docks. A spooked horse was galloping down the cobbled road at a terrible speed, dragging an open carriage with it. James gasped and spurred his horse forward, determined to stop the horse. It was precariously getting close to the edge of the water, and if the horse was not stopped soon, the carriage and its occupant would be thrown into the water, dragging the horse with it!
James was at a run, urging his horse next to the sweating, wide-eyed carriage horse, and reached out a hand to grab its harness. The horse practically screamed, reared slightly, and ran faster. The harness holding it to the carriage snapped, and it skidded off the docks into the water. The girl seated inside it managed one last scream, and then was plunged into the water.
James wasted no time. He stopped his horse then leapt into the bay, swimming downward as fast as he could. The water was salty, but he forced his eyes open against the stinging and tried hard to see where the girl was. But he couldn't see her…
Wait…there she was! Under the carriage! James pressed downward furiously, his lungs struggling for air even as he reached her. He tried to ignore the need to breathe, pressing himself to reach down and lift the carriage off of her. The strength began to leave him, and black spots began to fill his vision. Angrily he pressed back to the surface and gasped in another breath of air, and plunged back down to the bottom of the bay. Again he grabbed the edge of the carriage and pulled, forcing it upwards, until the girl was free. With one hand he reached down and grabbed her waist, pulling her out as fast as he could. The black spots returned to his vision, and his lungs screamed for air.
In a final desperate pull, he raced to the surface, choking on the air that entered his lungs as his face left the water. For a second he found himself sinking back underwater, but he was determined. He broke the surface again and threw the girl onto the dock, then climbed out after her.
He was coughing, choking, and wiping his stinging eyes. His arms were shaking, and his lungs were hurting, but he knew that she was in much worse condition that he was. James crawled over to her, checked to see if she was breathing, then began to pump the water out of her lungs. Several times he blew into her mouth and then pressed her stomach, until he was afraid it was too late. Then she jerked forward, coughing the water out of her lungs.
"That's it," James breathed, holding her back so that she didn't fall back to the dock and hit her head. "Keep coughing. You've got to get all that water out of your lungs."
The girl—she was a woman about as old as James himself was—looked up at him weakly, and continued to cough until she could breath again. Then she fainted.
James stared at her blankly, trying to figure out what to do, then slipped his arms under her and picked her up. He couldn't just leave her on the dock! "What am I going to do now?" he wondered aloud. His eyes were stinging, but he ignored it, turning to look at the water. Whatever belongings she had with her in the carriage were now gone, and he was not exactly willing to jump back in to search for them. "What happened to your horse to make him so freaked?" He asked. He realized that talking to a woman who was unconscious was ridiculous, so he sighed and decided to do something else instead.
He placed her on the saddle of his horse and climbed in after her, then kicked his heels. His chestnut stallion obediently moved into a quick trot, carrying both passengers back toward the Pennsylvania Gazette.
This story is a Liberty's Kids story, and is an adventure that will probably blow your mind to bits. I hope that you enjoy it! I am doing my best to make it really interesting. Have fun okay?
And Tasha, I miss you. Have fun baby-sitting the Rees' House. lol. And I'd appreciate it if you'd review this story. Thanks!
Till next time...