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- Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker - 10/75 -
Jack and I talked it all over in wild boy fashion, and went every day at six in the morning to Lowry's on South street. At first we both hated the work, but this did not last; and, once we were used to it, the business had for fellows like ourselves a certain charm. The horses we learned to know and understand. Their owners were of a class with which in those days it was not thought seemly for persons of our degree to be familiar; here it was unavoidable, and I soon learned how deep in the hearts of the people was the determination to resist the authority of the crown.
The lads we knew of the gay set used to come and laugh at us, as we plied the hammer or blew the bellows; and one day Miss Franks and Miss Peggy Chew, and I think Miss Shippen, stood awhile without the forge, making very merry. Jack got red in the face, but I was angry, worked on doggedly, and said nothing. At last I thrashed soundly one Master Galloway, who called me a horse-cobbler, and after that no more trouble.
I became strong and muscular as the work went on, and got to like our master, who was all for liberty, and sang as he struck, and taught me much that was useful as to the management of horses, so that I was not long unhappy. My father, pleased at my diligence, once said to me that I seemed to be attentive to the business in hand; and, as far as I remember, this was the only time in my life that he ever gave me a word of even the mildest commendation.
It was what Jack most needed. His slight, graceful figure filled out and became very straight, losing a stoop it had, so that he grew to be a well-built, active young fellow, rosy, and quite too pretty, with his blond locks. After our third month began, Lowry married a widow, and moved away to her farm up the country and beyond the Blue Bell tavern, where he carried on his business, and where he was to appear again to me at a time when I sorely needed him. It was to be another instance of how a greater Master overrules our lives for good.
Just after we had heard the news of the widow, my father came into the forge one day with Joseph Warder. He stood and watched me shoe a horse, and asked Lowry if I had learned the business. When he replied that we both might become more expert, but that we could make nails, and shoe fairly well, my father said:
"Take off these aprons, and go home. There will be other work for both of you."
We were glad enough to obey, and, dropping our leathern aprons, thus ended our apprenticeship. Next week Tom Lowry, our master, appeared with a fine beaver for me, saying, as I knew, that it was the custom to give an apprentice a beaver when his time was up, and that he had never been better served by any.
My Aunt Gainor kept away all this time, and made it clear that she did not wish my black hands at her table. My father, no doubt, felt sure that, so far as I was concerned, she would soon or late relent. This, in fact, came about in midwinter, upon her asking my mother to send me to see her. My father observed that he had no will to make quarrels, or to keep them alive. My mother smiled demurely, knowing him as none other did, and bade me go with her.
In her own room she had laid out on the bed a brown coat of velveteen, with breeches to match, and stockings with brown clocks, and also a brown beaver, the back looped up, all of which she had, with sweet craftiness, provided, that I might appear well before my Aunt Gainor.
"Thou wilt fight no one on the way, Hugh. And now, what shall be done with his hands, so rough and so hard? Scrub them well. Tell Gainor I have two new lilies for her, just come from Jamaica. Bulbs they are; I will care for them in the cellar. I was near to forget the marmalade of bitter orange. She must send; I cannot trust Tom. Thy father had him whipped at the jail yesterday, and he is sulky. Put on thy clothes, and I will come again to see how they fit thee."
In a little while she was back again, declaring I looked a lord, and that if she were a girl she should fall in love with me, and then--"But I shall never let any woman but me kiss thee. I shall be jealous. And now, sir, a bow. That was better. Now, as I curtsey, it is bad manners to have it over before I am fully risen. Then it is permitted that _les beaux yeux se rencontrent. Comme ca. Ca va bien_. That is better done."
"What vanities are these?" said my father at the door she had left open.
She was nowise alarmed. "Come in, John," she cried. "He does not yet bow as well as thou. It would crack some Quaker backs, I think. I can hear Friend Wain's joints creak when he gets up."
"Nonsense, wife! Thou art a child to this day."
"Then kiss me, mon pere." And she ran to him and stood on tiptoe, so engaging and so pretty that he could not help but lift up her slight figure, and, kissing her, set her down. It was a moment of rare tenderness. Would I had known or seen more like it!
"Thou wilt ruin him, wife."
As I ran down the garden she called after me, "Do not thou forget to kiss her hand. To-morrow will come the warehouse; but take the sweets of life as they offer. Adieu." She stood to watch me, all her dear heart in her eyes, something pure, and, as it were, virginal in her look. God rest her soul!
It was late when I got to my aunt's, somewhere about eight, and the hum of voices warned me of her having company. As I entered she rose, expecting an older guest, and, as I had been bid, I bowed low and touched her hand with my lips, as I said:
"Dear Aunt Gainor, it has been so long!" I could have said nothing better. She laughed.
"Here is my nephew, Mr. Etherington"--this to an English major; "and, Captain Wallace of the king's navy, my nephew."
The captain was a rough, boisterous sailor, and the other a man with too much manner, and, as I heard later, risen from the ranks.
He saluted me with a lively thump on the shoulder, which I did not relish. "Zounds! sir, but you are a stout young Quaker!"
"We are most of us Quakers here, captain," said a quiet gentleman, who saw, I fancy, by my face that this rude greeting was unpleasant to me.
"How are you, Hugh?" This was the Master of the Rolls, Mr. John Morris. Then my aunt said, "Go and speak to the ladies--you know them;" and as I turned aside, "I beg pardon, Sir William; this is my nephew, Hugh Wynne." This was addressed to a high-coloured personage in yellow velvet with gold buttons, and a white flowered waistcoat, and with his queue in a fine hair-net.
"This is Sir William Draper, Hugh; he who took Manilla, as you must know." I did not, nor did I know until later that he was one of the victims of the sharp pen of Junius, with whom, for the sake of the Marquis of Granby, he had rashly ventured to tilt. The famous soldier smiled as I saluted him with my best bow.
"Fine food for powder, Mistress Wynne, and already sixteen! I was in service three years earlier. Should he wish for an ensign's commission, I am at your service."
"Ah, Sir William, that might have been, a year or so ago, but now he may have to fight General Gage."
"The gods forbid! Our poor general!"
"Mistress Wynne is a rank Whig," put in Mrs. Ferguson. "She reads Dickinson's 'Farmer's Letters,' and all the wicked treason of that man Adams."
"A low demagogue!" cried Mrs. Galloway. "I hear there have been disturbances in Boston, and that because one James Otis has been beaten by our officers, and because our bands play 'Yankee Doodle' on Sundays in front of the churches--I beg pardon, the meetings--Mr. Robinson, the king's collector, has had to pay and apologise. Most shameful it is!"
"I should take short measures," said the sailor.
"And I," cried Etherington. "I have just come from Virginia, but not a recruit could I get. It is like a nest of ants in a turmoil, and the worst of all are the officers who served in the French war. There is, too, a noisy talker, Patrick Henry, and a Mr. Washington."
"I think it was he who saved the wreck of the king's army under Mr. Braddock," said my aunt. "I can remember how they all looked. Not a wig among them. The lodges must have been full of them, but their legs saved their scalps."
"Is it for this they call them wigwams?" cries naughty Miss Chew.
"Fie! fie!" says her mamma, while my aunt laughed merrily.
"A mere Potomac planter," said Etherington, "'pon my soul--and with such airs, as if they were gentlemen of the line."
"Perhaps," said my aunt, "they had not had your opportunities of knowing all grades of the service."
The major flushed. "I have served the king as well as I know how, and I trust, madam, I shall have the pleasure to aid in the punishment of some of these insolent rebels."
"May you be there to see, Hugh," said my aunt, laughing.
Willing to make a diversion, Mrs. Chew said, "Let us defeat these Tories at the card-table, Gainor."
"With all my heart," said my aunt, glad of this turn in the talk.
"Come and give me luck, Hugh," said Mrs. Ferguson. "What a big fellow you are! Your aunt must find you ruffles soon, and a steenkirk."
With this I sat down beside her, and wondered to see how eager and interested they all became, and how the guineas and gold half-joes passed from one to another, while the gay Mrs. Ferguson, who was at the table with Mrs. Penn, Captain Wallace, and my aunt, gave me my first lesson in this form of industry.
A little later there was tea, chocolate, and rusks, with punch for the men; and Dr. Shippen came in, and the great Dr. Rush, with his delicate, clean-cut face under a full wig. Dr. Shippen was full of talk about some fine game-cocks, and others were busy with the spring races in Centre Square.
You may be sure I kept my ears open to hear what all these great men said. I chanced to hear Dr. Rush deep in talk behind the punch-table with a handsome young man, Dr. Morgan, newly come from London.
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