Age of Edward Contest
This was a most trying time for my adopted land. The new laws that King George was imposing on the Colonies were causing all matters of unrest. My years of servitude almost over, I was adept at the newest printing press my employer had purchased. I was working prolonged hours tonight on behalf of my employer, Mr. Edes. While it would anger my young lady, I had a responsibility to Mr. Edes, and he had explained that this publication was of vast import to the revolutionaries that he had promised to take me to meet. As I put the block tiles in, backwards, I read the pamphlet that I was type-setting.
The British government is … a limited monarchy,
Aristotle, Livy, and Harrington … define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men.
I was able to recall these passages in my head long after I had placed the tiles and was inking them to run the press. I printed over two hundred copies that night by lamplight, my hands near frozen in the frigid Boston February night in the year of our Lord, 1775. The fire in the fireplace did little to fight the draft under the door in the printer's shop. When I finally put the last copy on the pile, I put on my threadbare coat and took up the lantern. I locked up the printing house and went to my employer's home. There was a small room in the servant's quarters that he allowed me to maintain, rent free.
I grabbed a bucket from the back wall of the house and went to the well and drew some water. I did my best to wash the thick, black ink off of my hands and face. I knew that it was hopeless, but I was raised to try to be clean, and I tried to do as my mama taught me. When I could not stand the cold anymore, I threw out the dirty water and went inside the house. I made my way to the servant's area, hoping that there would be some bread left over from supper as I had not been able to come from the printing house. I had not eaten since early morning, and my stomach was letting me know about it. Unfortunately, there was nothing left from the servant's meal, so I would be going without again this night. I guess that I could always stand to lose a few pounds. Well, not really, but I would survive. It was not the first time that I had gone to bed hungry.
I went to my bedroom, tired from the long day. I was ready to get into bed and go to sleep, but the words from the pamphlet kept my mind wandering. We needed to break from King George. He had already imposed too many taxes upon us. First the Sugar Act, making us pay taxes on the molasses that we exported to Britain or to any other country, then the Stamp Act, making us pay taxes on legal papers and the paper that we used for newspapers. Then the British tell us that we have to quarter those damn Redcoats and pay for their meals as well. Then the Townshend duties, making us pay extra taxes to bring tea and other goods into the Colonies. Well, the Tea Party showed them, did it not? I was never so proud as when I took an ax to those crates and dumped that English tea into the harbor. However, putting all of that aside, the final affront was when the Redcoats fired into a crowd of civilians, killing five men and wounding six more. Yes, that was when my mind was made. I joined the local militia. I march and train with them every evening when time allows....
"What are you doing here, love? You may get caught," I said as I saw the love of my life sitting on my bed in my room. I walked up to her and held out my hands. She took them and stood. I took her into my arms and pulled her close to me, inhaling deeply to breathe her scent which renewed my energy and set my soul afire. "You are taking a great chance, my love. If your father were to find you here, he would take my life, and your reputation would be ruined. You would not be eligible for marriage."
"Edward, my love, you know that you are the only man with whom I would ever consider marriage. I could stay away from you no longer. Tonight was supposed to be our rendezvous in the park. Did you forget?"
"No, my Isabella, I did not forget. Your father had a very important pamphlet come in which was necessary to be set and inked prior to the morning. It was my responsibility to see it completed."
"More about those separatists, is it not? He needs to forget those treasonous ideas and the people who have involved him in their midsts. He is going to have to answer to the authorities one day soon I am afraid, and so will you. I do not think that King George is going to be so forgiving to those who have aided the enemy."
"Isabella, you do not know what you are talking about. King George is the enemy. He is doing things that under the Magna Carta he has no right to do. He is raising our taxes unfairly and unevenly in regards to those of the other British Colonies and the British homeland. He is doing so without our representation on the Parliament. We have sent envoys headed by Benjamin Franklin to speak with him about the problem, and he will have no compromise. The next step logically is separation."
"Edward, no, we are British citizens, and King George is our king. That is the way that God ordained the Empire to run since time immorial, and that is the way it is meant to be for the future."
"Isabella, it is not right for you and I to have discussions such as these. You are too delicate a flower to worry about such issues. Leave them to your father and to me. We will take care of the politics. You do not need to worry your beautiful head, or you will end up with an ache. Now, come here, and show me how much you love me."
She frowned just a little bit, but she looked into my eyes and reached up to place a chaste kiss on my lips. I wrapped my arms around her tiny waist and pulled her into my body, closer to me, pushing her skirts to the side. I deepened the kiss by running my tongue over her lips. She gasped, and when she did, I used the opportunity to slip my tongue into her mouth. She drew in a breath, and I touched my tongue to the roof of her mouth. She giggled just a little bit, and I touched the tip of my tongue to her own. She pulled away. "What is the matter, love? Do you not like to kiss me?"
"Edward, that kind of kissing is improper."
"So is your being unchaperoned with me. And in my bedroom, love. Do you wish to leave?"
She hesitated. "No, Edward, I do not wish to leave. Will you kiss me again?"
"Yes, Isabella, I would love to kiss you again." I leaned into her again, and this time, she parted her lips for me. I touched her tongue again with the tip of mine. She jumped, but I continued to play touch and go with her tongue. After what seemed like forever, she moved her tongue from the floor of her mouth and met mine. The joy that I felt when they joined in her mouth was beyond explanation. She became more and more confident, once even daring to enter my mouth with her tongue.
I led her to the bed and sat her down, me sitting beside her. She started to pull away from me, but I just held her tight to me, still kissing her. "Do not go, please," I begged.
"It's not proper for us to be sitting on your bed," she said, a blush coming over her face.
"We are just sitting, love," I said. "I have been standing all day."
"Oh, yes," she said, blushing even more red than she was before. I felt as if I were taking advantage of her innocence, but I had been standing all day, and I was tired. What I really wanted to do was lie down with her in my arms.
"Do you trust me, Isabella?" I asked.
"With my life, Edward," she said.
"Would you lie down with me? I promise that it will be innocent. I just would like to hold you in my arms."
"Oh, Edward, that would be totally improper, but, yes, I will lie down with you. I trust you completely."
I laid down on my bed and held out my arms. She gathered her skirts and lowered herself into my waiting grasp. I wrapped her up into an embrace that I hoped would show her how much I loved her. I was ready to take our relationship further. I had been with her for several months, now, and she had consistently held me off, telling me that it would not be proper for us to advance our relationship prior to our nuptials, but I could not propose to her until my servitude was paid off, and I had worked enough to save some money to build us a house and support her needs. That wasn't in the near future with the separation from the British Empire looming on the horizon. Who knew where these colonies would be in half a year?
I began kissing her again, this time leaving her mouth and kissing over to her ear lobe where I took it into my lips and nipped at it. She gave out a little groan, so I assumed that she enjoyed it. I continued to kiss her, going down to her neck. She raised her head to give me some more room to maneuver. I was careful not to leave a mark. She did not need to answer any questions in the morning about where she got a mark on her neck, but there would come a time in her life where I would mark her neck as my wife. I made my way back to her lips where I realized that she was panting. I aggressively took her lips into mine, and she kissed me back, just as aggressively. I pulled her closer to me, and I lifted my leg to throw over hers, and pulled her lower body into alignment with mine. She tensed, but did not pull away. I ran my fingers through her hair, and she did the same with me. It felt so good. I was already hard for her, but I was sure that she could not feel it because of all of the layers of her dress, so I just continued to hold her close to me. I would die of embarrassment if she knew the effect that she was having on me.
As I continued to kiss her, I again started moving my kisses down to her neck. This time, I kissed her over her collar bones. She shivered as I reached her recesses, but again, she did not pull away. I brought my hands out of her hair and ran them up and down her back. She threw her head back almost with abandon as I kissed her neck. Then she lowered her hands from my hair to my back. She pulled my shirt from inside of my pants and pulled it up so that her hands were on my bare skin. I paused and looked at her.
"Do you mind?" she asked. "I have seen you without your shirt while in the shop during the summers, and I have always dreamed of touching your back, all of your muscles. I am so embarrassed to tell you that. A proper young lady would never look upon a man's unclothed body, but here I am, admitting to you that I have looked upon yours."
"Isabella, please do not be embarrassed. I am pleased that you have looked upon my body. I know that it is not proper, but it pleases me greatly. Would you be too embarrassed if I took my shirt off?"
"Maybe, but it would please me greatly," she blushed a rosy red. I leaned up and pulled my shirt up and over my head, depositing it at the head of the bed. I laid back down next to her. She was still blushing, but her eyes were taking in my torso, all of my muscles, toned from working the presses all day. "May I touch you?" she whispered. I reached out and took her hand. I brought it to my chest and placed it over my heart.
"Do you feel it, Isabella? Do you feel the way that my heart beats for you?" She nodded again, and let her hand roam around my chest, outlining the muscle groups that were so well defined. She was panting, and slowly, she leaned over and started kissing my chest. I laid over onto my back, and I let her have her way with my chest, the whole while, her breasts were in my face. Her cleavage was beautiful. It was all that I could do to keep from reaching out and touching her breasts, from taking them into my mouth and suckling them as if I were a newborn babe.
I was lifted from my reverie as her hand traveled down to the edge of my trousers. I hadn't realized that she was so close to my erection. Now I was the one who was embarrassed. I knew that my face was reddening as I sat up quickly, lifting her from my body and bringing her back up to the head of the bed. "Isabella, I am so sorry. You should not have seen that."
"Seen what?" she asked, the grin of a woman who has caught the man she loves in an awkward situation on her face.
"Um, nothing really. I would just rather that you stay up near my chest, please. I promised you that I would keep this innocent, and I would like to be able to keep that promise to you, love," I said.
"Edward, I am a little bit uncomfortable in this gown. It pinches. Would you mind terribly if I slipped it off?"
"Um, that would not be very proper, Isabella. What if your father were to come in?"
"Well, my love, I am lying in your bed with you half naked. If my father were to come in, I do not think that it would matter if I had my gown on or off. We would be in trouble no matter what." I nodded and sat up as she sat up beside me. I untied the string at her back. I helped her to loosen the bodice, and when it was loose enough, I helped her to lift it above her head. We then removed the stomacher, her petticoats, and the gown. We placed them on the floor by the door along with the hoops so that they would not get walked on. When I turned back to look at her, she was still wearing her shift, stays, and her stockings. There were still enough clothes on her to cover her completely, but she was unclothed enough that I could tell that her figure was one of the best that I had ever seen. I could not help but to hold my breath as my eyes wandered from her face, to her bosom, to her waist, and then to her nether region. I tried not to stare, and I took a deep breath as I looked back up to her waist.
"Would you like to remove those stays, love? I have never understood how a woman could possibly be comfortable with all of that binding all the day long." I had my fingers crossed that she would remove the cursed stays. Made of whale bone, the things were uncomfortable and invariably would get in my way tonight.
"Yes, Edward, but, prey tell, how do you know so much about a woman's undergarments?"
I had to think fast. I certainly could not tell her the truth, that I had had experience with many women in the past several years, well, since I was a lad of fourteen and the tavern wenches decided that I needed lessons in how to be a man. "I had to help my mum with her clothing before she passed," I said, hoping that it would do. "She said that if men had to wear stays, they would fall out of fashion rather quickly," I improvised.
"Well, between you and me, your mum is right," Isabella said, and she unfastened the stays and tossed them to the ground. She let out a sigh of relief and came back to the bed where she crawled in next to me. As we were both without some clothes now, and as it was the middle of February in Boston, I pulled the covers to the bed back, and we crawled under them. The only clothing that separated us now were my breeches, and her shift and her stockings. I could definitely work with those odds.
I pulled her back into my arms, spooning her, making sure that my erection did not touch her. No need to scare her off just yet. I started kissing her on the back of her neck while my arms wrapped around her front. She took one of my hands into her own and brought it to between her breasts. I used my thumb to start stroking her breast, back and forth, very lightly, not fast, just enough for her to feel the pressure. When she did not move my hand away, I took my other hand and started to stroke the other breast the same way. She did not move, just groaned as I found her nipple and rolled it between my fingers, feeling it harden and stand up, waiting for more attention. I took a chance and palmed her breast, taking the whole thing into my hand and giving it a squeeze. When she only groaned, I rolled her over onto her back. Her eyes were closed, and I leaned down and took her breast into my mouth, freeing them from her shift. She moaned and arched her back, bringing her breasts closer to me.
"Isabella, I want to have you. I want to love you, like a woman should be loved. May I?"
"Edward, I want you to, but you know that it is not possible. Not until our wedding night. You know that. We may fool around a little more than is proper for a young lady of good standing, my Edward, but I must maintain my virginity until I am wed," she said.
"Isabella, I need to have you. You do things to my body that I cannot control. You know that I cannot ask your father for your hand for at least another year. I do not want to wait that long. My needs as a man are great. Your body speaks to me. It calls to me, and I want to give you pleasure beyond your wildest dreams. Have you ever given yourself pleasure, Isabella?"
"What are you asking me, Edward? How do you even speak of such things in mixed company? I...well...I...of course not, Edward. I would never do such a thing. It is a sin to do such a thing."
I laughed softly. "Isabella, finding pleasure where one can is no sin. I no more believe that you would go to hell for an act of pleasure than I believe that you would go to hell for eating a warm meal on Sundays." She was blushing, not her usual glow, but a bright crimson, the loudest blush that I had ever seen on her face. "Allow me, my Isabella, to show you real pleasure."
"You will not break me?"
"No, I swear, love. I will not take you that way until you tell me to, but let me give you a sample of what you can feel." She nodded. "You are going to have to be quiet, okay, love?" She nodded again.
I sat up and moved down towards her legs. I reached down and took off her stockings, leaving her bare from the stomach down. I leaned over and started kissing her on the stomach, slowly making the way down to her hips. I then took my finger and very gently, I ran my finger down her slit, letting my finger separate her lips. She jumped with the contact, but to give her some credit, she never cried out or moved. I took my finger and found her opening. I very slowly inserted my finger into her, feeling her wetness as I went further into her. She clenched down on her legs, entrapping my hand and arm between her legs. "Relax, my love. Let your legs fall down to the bed. Relax." She let her legs fall to the bed, and slowly, they relaxed.
Then I slowly pulled my finger out. She was breathing heavily again. I worked up a slow, gentle rhythm, giving my finger a little bend at the end, finding that small spot that all women had, the spot that made them cry out for more. I took my time, allowing her to get used to the intrusion of my finger inside of her. She was soon dripping off of my finger as I pulled it out of her. Then, she began bringing her hips up to meet my finger. It was then that I added a second finger, giving her time to adjust to the added width. She initially tensed, but was able to relax herself on her own. As she started moving along with me again, I added a third finger. I massaged her special place that the bar wenches showed me with my other hand. She started holding her breath, trying not to scream as she came around my fingers, her walls clenching my fingers tightly enough that they were being pushed out of her. I continued to thrust inside of her in my pattern, and when she came close to the edge again, I withdrew my fingers and went back up to the head of the bed to look into her eyes.
"Did you like that, Isabella? I can do more than that when you are ready to take me as your own. Are you ready to have me as your lover, Isabella?" I certainly hoped so. I was so hard that I was hurting. My breeches were cutting into my cock, and I would soon need relief, whether with Isabella or at my own hand. I looked into her eyes, and she was also hurting, needing more. She nodded. "I need to hear you say it, Isabella. Say it out loud. Are you ready for me to make you mine?"
"Yes, Edward. Please make me yours."
I nodded at her and reached to unbutton my breeches. I removed them, and when she saw my cock, she gasped. She reached her hand out and touched me. I almost came right then. I leaned down and kissed her with all of the passion that I could muster. She groaned and put her hands back into my hair. Then I crawled over her, placing myself between her legs, and I placed myself at her entrance. I looked her in the eye and said, "You know that this will break you, right, Isabella?"
"Yes, I know, Edward. I want you inside of me. I have wanted it for so long. I was trying to be proper like my daddy wanted me to be, but I do not care anymore. Make love to me."
I nodded at her and pushed myself into her, pushing past that thin layer of skin that told me that I was her first. She muffled a cry and tears ran down her cheeks, but I could not help that it hurt her. I continued to thrust into her, knowing that her pleasure would soon overtake her pain. It always did. I thrust in a slow rhythm, making sure to hit that spot that I had found with my fingers. I had always found that it was easier to pleasure a woman if you fingered her first. You knew where to aim to bring them to their peak. It was not long before Isabella's pain had given way to pleasure as she was moving with me, matching me thrust for thrust. I felt myself building to my own peak, but I could let go until she had peaked again. I took my thumb, and reaching between us, found her little nub just under her mound. I started to massage it again and it worked like a charm. She started groaning; then she started grabbing at the sheets; then she started clenching around me, pulling me right along with her, causing me to spill my seed into her. I collapsed next to her, breathing heavily. She just laid there, trying to get her own breathing under control. I took her into my arms and held her tightly as I fell asleep, content with my life.
The next morning, I awoke with the sun as was my custom. My Isabella was no longer by my side. At once, I thought that I had dreamed the activities of the night prior, but one look at my blood stained sheets and I knew that our love making had been no dream. At some point during the night, my Isabella had left my arms and returned to the home of her father. I dressed for the day quickly, throwing on my shirt and breeches. I knew that I had little time to act before I would be found out, so I quickly pulled the stained sheet from my bed and rushed outside into the frigid air. I went to the well and drew some cold water. I wetted down the sheet, and after applying some lye soap, I started scrubbing at the tell-tale stain. I rinsed the sheet, and again applied the lye when the stain was still visible. After another good scrubbing, I again rinsed the sheet. This time, the stain was barely noticeable. I wrung out the sheet, and made my way back to my room, making sure that I was not seen. I draped the sheet to dry, and then I made my way into the servant's area to partake of a biscuit or two if any were left. I lucked out and was able to grab two biscuits and a little honey before rushing out of the door, grabbing my coat as I passed by my room. I rushed to the printing house and unlocked the door. I went into the back of the shop and gathered the wood and kindling and made a fire in the fireplace. I then went to the presses and did the usual morning inspection of the equipment, making sure that they were in working order. Finally, I went to the order board and picked up the next order in line. It was a wanted poster for a murderer. It required an engraving which Mr. Edes had been working on the day before. I went to his work area, and the engraving was not in his completed bin, so I put the order back onto the board into the first space. As soon as Mr. Edes finished the engraving, I would make it my priority.
The second order for the day was our usual installment of the Boston Gazette, the patriotic newspaper that we printed. It was full of columns by the most extreme of the patriots, among whom were Samuel Adams and James Adams, his cousin. They usually wrote their pieces using pseudonyms so as not to openly defy the king, but Mr. Edes had told me long ago who they really were. For instance, the pamphlet that I printed last evening by Novanglus was really by John Adams. I had sworn to keep his secrets, for if his true identity was ever to become known, he could be arrested and charged with sedition. General Gage, the "governor" of Massachusetts Bay Colony was looking for any excuse to have him and his cousin hanged.
I was well into the weekly printing of the Gazette, when Mr. Edes arrived for the day.
"Good morning to you, Mr. Edes. I hope to find you feeling well," I said, my usual greeting.
"Ah, yes, Edward. I am feeling fine. I wanted to commend you for completing the pamphlet evening last. It is a job well done."
"Thank you, sir. It was no trouble at all. I was happy to oblige."
"However, you took on the task without my having to inquire, and upon your honor, you did stay until complete. Edward, you are a fine young man. I have here your indenture book, and to date, you still owe nine months, three weeks, and two days of servitude, if my calculations are correct."
"Yes, sir. They are correct."
"Edward, I know that you have been working with the militia. What are your feelings as to where our land is heading?"
I took a moment from setting the type to look at him. "Mr. Edes, I feel that this land is about to explode. The liberties that King George is taking with her will not be long tolerated. My unit is troubled. They feel that something is going to happen to set off the balance that is so preciously holding dear. With Mr. Hancock and Mr. Warren actively stockpiling cannons and guns, and calling for others to do the same, I'm afraid that the balance may already be shifting. General Gage will soon be forced to recognize that some of our more, shall we say "active" patriots are already preparing for war. Once he takes that action, I feel that there will be no going back. We, sir, are bound for war." I turned and went back to setting the type for the Gazette.
"Edward, that is my sentiment exactly. You have become the son to me that I never had. I am wiping your indenture to me clean. As of today, you are a free man, free to come and go as you wish. I, too, feel that war is on our horizon. However, unlike you, I will not be fighting it, except for what I can do with this press. You, on the other hand, Edward, you will be on the front lines, fighting to defend our country. You will be fighting to save our homeland from the British, to make us free. I can no longer, in good conscience, hold an indenture over your head. Congratulations, my boy." He stepped up to me and held out his hand to shake my own.
I started to hold out my hand to him, but then pulled it back, recognizing that it was covered in printer's ink. I wiped it on my apron, and then held it out to shake his. "Thank you Mr. Edes. Thank you. You are too kind to me. I wish to thank you for teaching me this skill and taking me into your home. You have been like a father to me for these past six years, and I can't tell you how much you mean to me."
"Now, Edward, I have a problem. I suddenly have an opening for a type setter and a press operator. Would you know anyone who you could recommend for the job? Pay is negotiable."
I laughed and shook his hand again. We talked for about another fifteen minutes before we agreed that he would pay me forty pounds per annum and that I could continue to live in my room rent free. I could now, however, join the family for meals, assuming that I was available when meals were being served. I thanked him profusely, and immediately got back to work.
The winter soon turned to spring, and I had finally gathered the nerve to ask Mr. Edes for permission to court Isabella, and he granted it. She and I had been seeing each other in the evenings after my militia training when time allowed. Mr. Edes made sure that we were always chaperoned when he knew that we were together. However, this did not stop Isabella from sneaking down into my bedroom several times a week for some illicit loving. I suspected that one of the maids knew of our activities, but she kept her knowledge to herself.
I continued to drill with my militia unit every evening. Things were starting to get more and more inflamed within the other colonies as well as within Massachusetts. With the arrival of April came the message that one of the most vocal patriots in Virginia Colony, Patrick Henry, had made a speech in their convention just last month in which he said, "Give me liberty or give me death. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" News of his speech was traveling fast up and down the coast. His sentiment was being quoted everywhere I turned. It left me with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was certain that the time for talk was drawing nigh.
Then, it happened. On the night of 18 April, while Isabella and I were walking down the road, on our way back from the play house, Mr. Paul Revere rushed past us on his horse. He pulled his horse to a stop and looked at me. "You're Edward, Benjamin Edes' assistant, aren't you?"
"Yes, sir. How may I be of service?" I asked, taking off my hat.
"Tell Benjamin that it has started. The British are marching on Concord at daybreak. I am riding along with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott to warn Lexington and Concord. The British are coming! The British are coming!" and he rode away into the night.
I took my Isabella's hand into my own. I looked into her eyes, got down on one knee, and said, "This marks the beginning of our new land. We are in a war now, love. Know that whatever happens, I love you. I am going to fight for our freedom, for you, and me, and for our future together. Isabella Marie Edes, will you marry me?"