As I See Fit - Part 7
Edward Pellew's eyes searched for Amanda on the wharf as his launch took him ashore. They had been invited to dinner with Admiral Montague at one of Montague's friend's houses. He had wondered why the dinner had not been at the Admiral quarters. Now he knew, the house sat at the head of Griffin's Wharf with a set of windows that viewed the moorings of the Dartmouth, Beaver and the Eleanor with the Altamira behind them. Her broadside ready to rake the tea ship's sterns.
He was reporting to the admiral without his wife, but carrying the information that Nate had given him. He was a little concerned at Amanda's disappearance and equally upset. He had done everything she wanted, this was their first invitation from an admiral and now she was not present to grace his arm.
He was ushered into the dining room almost as soon as he gave the clerk an overview of his report. The admiral sat watching the harbor, he was surprised, not to see Pellew, but to see him so soon. "I was looking forward to meeting your lady, Pellew. I'm sorry she's not coming. Indisposed, eh?"
"Yes." Edward answered, wanting to add more, but not willing to lie to Montague.
"You will, of course, stay for dinner? She is not so seriously ill as to require your presence?"
"Actually, sir, she's not ill. She is somewhere in town. Visiting her family, I believe."
"The Hitchbournes and the Reveres." Edward stood a little straighter, almost coming to attention. He sensed his position with the Admiral had changed with the revelation of his in laws.
Montague stood up from behind the table. "Well, Edward, it seems as is I have done you a disservice. But, I'm afraid nothing can be done about it now. It is too late to move the Altamira. I could appoint another captain into her to do the task at hand."
"No sir, I will do my duty." 'He could not lose the Altamira, he and Amanda's whole future depended on her. 'I will do whatever that duty may entail' he thought darkly. 'Perhaps losing the best part of my life.'
In a way, as the evening progressed, Edward was glad he had not found Amanda. All the meal the admiral had been interrupted by messages and other officers. Finally on the third course, the admiral gave up even trying to be a good host and turned it into a working meal.
With the dinner things cleared away and the cloth drawn, the admiral left his place at the table and moved to the window. "They are dressed like savages! Damned Indians!" Pellew joined him in watching the blanket wrapped colonists walk, in groups of two's and three's, down to the waterfront. Montague threw up the window and pointed at the tallest in a knot of five. "I know you!" He yelled, "You are Lendall Pitts, I will be speaking to your father!"
"Go ahead, squire, see what good it does you!" The young man called back, derisive laughter from his companions accompanied the reply.
The admiral slammed the window down, almost breaking the glass. Startled by his own violence he turned to Pellew. "Very well, go and begin your preparations Captain. If you see a rocket from this building, you will open fire on those ships, just as we have discussed. The owners and Governor Hutchinson have decided that they would rather lose the ships to make a point rather than allow them to leave still loaded or have then seized. I pray God it may not be necessary. I wish those politicians were here, the Governors gone to Milton tonight, the coward, and his sons are hiding out on Castle Island."
"Aye, sir." Pellew answered.
"Take a couple of marines to escort you to your launch. You'll have a problem getting across the street, it's packed with these rebels."
Rimble greeted him as he climbed through the entry port.
"Did you get that spring on the anchor cable?" Pellew asked.
"Yes, we can turn the ship as we wish. Also the liberty men have been trickling back all afternoon. From what I've heard from them, they are not welcome in the town. We are almost at full complement, for us, that is." Rimble paused just a moment. "Is there any word on our additional crew?"
"Not yet." Edward looked around the deck. "Has Amanda come back yet?"
"I'm sorry, no, sir."
"Damn." He turned to the rail. "I'm going below. Is Mr. Pengarth aboard?"
"Send him down to me." With those words Edward disappeared below decks.
He was changing from his best uniform coat into his working clothes when Pengarth knocked. Edward bid him enter. With Mandy's accepting of his scars and the privacy of his own cabin instead of shared quarters, he had quite forgotten about them. He was barebacked and searching for a clean shirt with his back to the door when the middy entered.
"My God, Sir"
"What?" Edward spun on his heel to face the young man, question written on his face, but not anger.
"I'm sorry, sir, nothing. You called for me?"
Edward pulled the clean shirt over his head, realizing finally that the young man was startled to see a post captain with a checked shirt. "Oh, that. Those are what you get when you are insolent to your betters." He stopped in mid move, why had he said that? Had Mandy softened him that much? That someone asking about his back no longer bothered him anymore? He shook his head with a rueful smile. Well, no time for that now. "Yes, Mr. Pengarth, I have a job for you."
Earlier in the day Charles Hammond, Emily Hitchbourne's arm tucked securely into his elbow, opened the door into the Green Dragon Tavern. They were brought up short, expecting to see the place half empty, but not today, the place was packed. Charlie gave his name and they turned back into the street to wait to be called for their table.
"You know, Emmie," Charlie said, "I don't really understand everything that's going on here. Edward tried to explain it to me that night at Richard's but I didn't really listen."
She pulled back from him just a bit, with a puzzled look. "How long have you been in town, Charlie?"
"A little less than a week." He replied.
"Well, maybe you really don't have any idea of conditions here." Emily Hitchbourne started to patiently explain it to him. "The government had put taxes on almost everything that we have to import from England and tried to embargo some of our exports back. There was a lot of grumbling and a rebellion was threatened. It really brought the colonies together against the Crown. There were correspondence committees set up to petition Parliament and most of these taxes were repealed. But the tax on tea was not. It was not a big tax and people were getting used to paying it." She looked at him to be sure that he was listening, he was, Hammond nodded for her to go on.
"Everything would have been fine with that except the government decided to give the East India Company a monopoly on our market. They thought that this would save the Company from bankruptcy. The government also appointed so called consignees to market the tea. That meant that our merchants, like John Hancock and Lawrence Endicott are cut out of the business." They were jostled aside by a passerby who was carrying three of four blankets. The man apologized and made his way quickly down the street.
"I am following you so far, go on Emmie." Hammond said, he watched her face, smiling at her.
She continued, "Thomas and Elisha Hutchinson were designated consignees."
"The governors sons?" He asked, the light of understanding dawning on his face.
"Exactly." She answered. "That just made everybody mad. Meetings were called and plans were made to boycott the tea consignees and not to allow the transports to be unloaded when they arrived. Well, Charlie, they have not been unloaded. According to our local laws those transports have to be unloaded before they can leave and they must leave within twenty days of arrival. That time is up. Mr. Rotch, the owner of the Dartmouth, has gone to Milton, where the governor is, to ask if he may leave still loaded. He's due back this evening."
"So, the meeting that you want to go to is to wait for this man Rotch?" He questioned her.
"Yes. My brothers are going and I am as much a patriot as they are. I want to go." She answered.
Hammond's face changed, imperceptibly to most, but Emmie noticed. "Be careful how you use that word in public, Emmie. I'm beginning to understand what Edward meant." He took her hands in his. "Emily, I..I'm very taken with you."
"I know, Charlie." She interrupted him. "Look it's Amanda and Mr. Endicott!" She motioned with an elbow toward the harbor. She pulled one of her hands free and waved to them. She motioned them across the street and reached out to touch Amanda's new cloak. "What a beautiful wool and lined too! Amanda, how wonderful."
"Edward gave it to me!" She replied turning the facings over to show the lining. "Isn't it lovely!"
Em drew her away from the men and a little way down the street. But close enough that Hammond could eavesdrop on their conversation. "Tell me, Mandy, what is it like being married? You know what I mean." Emmie asked.
Amanda waited just a moment before answering. "I do not know quite how to tell you. Having a husband is a wonderful feeling."
Hammond had to smile, he remembered the morning that she and Edward had come off the deck and managed to get the whole wardroom snickering when the squeaking started over their heads. Evidentially Lawrence was remembering too, for instead of smiling he broke out in peals of laughter almost doubling over. Mandy turned to give him a stern look; he regained his composure and turned away from the two women.
"I just bet it is." Lawrence said to Hammond. "Is it getting any better?"
Hammond's eyes were shining with merriment. "It's not getting at all. Ships business is in the way." Their attention was drawn back to the women.
"You know, Tom has been in a snit ever since the news of your marriage arrived. He did love you." Emmie said.
"He did not love me, he does not love me." Amanda replied. "All he loved was my father's money."
The tavern keeper stuck his head out the door and called to Hammond. Charlie called to Emmie and asked if Endicott and Mandy had eaten. They had not. Emmie and Amanda preceded the men into the inn. They continued their conversation as they were seated.
"I know I would have been thoroughly unhappy with Tom. He would have married me; got Papa's money and left me miserable sitting at home and there would not have been children unless they were forced on me. At least with Edward, I will be my own woman." Amanda said.
"And he won't be home half of the time." Lawrence commented.
"You know, that may be the point." She answered. "I will at least retain part of my freedom. I won't be just a wife in a house with no way of controlling my future."
"Then you really did not want to be married. You could have stayed a spinster and had all that." Emmie put in.
"But I would have had no children, I would have been miserable. At least now I will have a husband and all the privileges of marriage, but still be able to lead an independent life." Mandy said, picking up her spoon to stir her coffee.
Lawrence was startled. "Did you plan this Amanda? Did you pick Edward just because he is a serving officer and away?" The concern was plain on his face. "Edward seems to really love you Amanda, don't play with him."
Amanda looked at her father with a glance that plainly said, "We are not going to discuss this here." But her father didn't take the hint; he stared back at her and waited for an answer. Hammond glanced at Emmie; her face was bright red.
Amanda opened her mouth to start to respond then closed it again. Her eyes, which had been animated and lively, now were dulled and downcast. She opened her mouth again; they could see her tongue pushing against her lower teeth. She was hesitating in her answer. Her head came back up and her eyes met her fathers, fire flashed out from them. "I have loved Edward Pellew since I was eleven years old. I love him still. I am proud to be his wife, and I will be even prouder to bear his children." She looked directly at Emmie, and continued: "Tom Hitchbourne never stood a chance. I would have died a spinster before marrying that man." Her whole being seemed to say "That's it, I've said it, don't mention it again."
Emmie trying to put the cork back in the genie's bottle tried to change the subject. "Amanda, are you going to Old North this night?"
"If she's wise, she won't." Lawrence Endicott said.
Amanda, once again with the fire in her eyes asked why.
"Because you are a married woman whose husband is not present, because your husband is a serving officer in the Royal Navy and because his ship is moored directly behind the powder keg and the fuse is burning. Don't disgrace him. Don't make it any worse for him." Endicott answered.
"Charlie, are you going?" Amanda asked. Charlie leaned back in his chair.
"Emmie want's to go. I expect if she want's me to I will." Charlie was still in his civilian clothes.
"Will you escort me as well?" Amanda asked.
Lawrence Endicott pushed away from the table, his food untouched. Standing he reached in his pocket drew out some coins and put them on the table. "I think I'm done with this meal. Amanda Endicott, when you come to your senses come see me. Goodnight Hammond, Emmie." With that he was gone.
Amanda sat staring after him, the tears welling up in her eyes;
"My name is Amanda Pellew." She whispered. She rose
from her seat and grabbing into her pocket for a handkerchief,
she followed her father. Emmie, concerned ran after her. Hammond,
left with four bowls of lamb stew and four cups of coffee and
a half loaf of bread, sat staring at the table and wondered what
had happened to his afternoon with his lady.
Hammond did drink his coffee, to give Emmie time with Amanda. He was fond of Amanda, he had been her companion for the trip from Jamaica to Boston, and would continue with the Pellews on the voyage to Plymouth. What was wrong with the woman? She was not like this. He had never seen her moody or prone to tears. In the six months they had been acquainted he had seen her concerned, happy, angry and after her marriage, satisfied, but never moody.
He paid the bill, leaving Endicott's money for the server, and walked out into the street. Amanda and Emmie were huddled close against the side of the tavern to stay out of the drizzle that saturated the air. Amanda's eyes were red rimmed, but she had stopped crying, the two women were laughing softly about something as he joined them.
They stood for just a few moments watching the small groups of people walking northeast toward the Old North Church. If they were going to the meeting they would need to join the walkers.
"Amanda," Charlie said, "I have to say I agree with your father. You really should not go to this meeting."
"Does that mean you won't take me?" Amanda asked.
"No, if there's no changing your mind. You would go anyway and without an escort if I did not. Are you sure I can't walk you back to the wharf?" He answered.
"No, lets go." Amanda said. The three of them joined the parade of people headed to the church.
The main floor of the church was densely packed with the citizens of Boston, the roar of the crowd drowning out any attempt at conversation. Charlie pushed the two women up the stairs to the gallery. There were fewer people in the balcony, but at the rate the people were pouring into the building, it would not be long until there was nowhere to stand.
"What's going on?" Charlie shouted at the man standing next to him.
"We are waiting on old Rotch to get back from the Governor's, he want's to take the Dartmouth out tonight. There have been a few speakers, but now we have heard that Josiah Quincy is over there." The man pointed to the east gallery. "We are waiting to hear him speak."
Hammond looked down into the crowd, most were men, but sprinkled through the assembly were a few women and young boys. He was not sure what he expected when he decided to tag along with Emmie, for she would have gone without him too, but this almost calm group of people was not it.
The roar from the lower level started to die down as a young man in a scarlet coat made his way to the front of the east gallery. He was rail thin and in his right hand was a white handkerchief; he motioned for quiet and began to speak. The crowd listened intently. His pleas to the audience were quiet at first, but he began to raise the tenor and his listeners responded. As his rancor increased the shouts of encouragement from the main floor and occasionally from the west gallery grew louder. "The seed of dissolution are thickly plantedI see the clouds." He shouted, stopping to cough into the handkerchief then going on, "which now rise thick and fast upon the horizon, the thunder roll, and the lightning play, and to that God who rides the whirlwind and directs the storm I commit my country!"
The assembly went silent again as the owner of the Dartmouth entered the church; a way was made for him up the aisle. He mounted the altar steps. "The Governor will not allow me to move the Dartmouth out of the harbor. Gentlemen, I can do no more." Rotch said. Hammond checked his watch; it was five forty five.
A man, Hammond identified him as Sam Adams, Emmie had pointed him out earlier, stood up from his chair on the main floor. He was somber, his shoulders drooping in defeat. "This meeting can do nothing further to save the country!"
Hammond was startled when a dozen men stood in unison and shouted: "To Griffen's Wharf!"
Another man stood up in the front of the lower floor, "That's John Hancock." Emmie shouted to Hammond, trying to be heard above the noise of the crowd.
The man turned to the main floor and galleries, "Let every man do what is right in his own eyes!" he shouted.
The mob, for that was what it had become, turned in masse and surged toward the doors.
"My God," Hammond said, grabbing onto Emmies elbow, "This is it!" He shouted to her, "We have to get out of here!" He reached for Amanda's arm to find she was being pulled away, her hand reaching out to him, with terror written on her face. Her other hand was held by Tom Hitchbourne whose face shown with triumph and who was pulling her away from Hammond. The pair was lost to Hammond's sight in the rush of the crowd out of the gallery.
Hammond was torn between his concern for Emmie's safety and following Amanda's cape into the crowd. He was pulling Emmie behind him, pursuing Amanda, when Emmie tripped and fell. In stopping to help her up he lost sight completely of Amanda. He looked after the fleeing mob trying in vain to find her maroon cloak. 'Oh no, I've lost her.' He thought with dismay, 'And Edward's friendship as well.' Edward Pellew would never forgive him if anything happened to Amanda.
Edward and Pengarth returned to the deck together. Pengarth immediately went to the marine officer then up the mizzen shrouds. Three sharpshooters followed him into the top. This brought the number of men stationed there to six. The fore and main were manned with three marines each.
"Beat to quarters, Mr. Rimble, if you please. Run out only the starboard guns." Edward called up to the first officer, who still stood on the quarterdeck. He pulled his watch from his pocket trying his best to make it look like an exercise as he trotted up the ladder.
The twilling of the bosun's pipes through the ship, punctuated with the Altamira's guns running out, drew the attention of some of the 'savages' on the wharf. One of them turned and ran from the waterside to a tight knot of Indians who were moving slowly toward the Dartmouth. Curious, Pellew called for his night glass.
"Boat sir, larboard side." The midshipman of the watch called out. Pellew glanced over the side to see Charlie Hammond in a hired shore boat. He decided to ignore the commander for the moment, the man was alone. He could wait for permission to come aboard. Hammond would have to answer for where Amanda Pellew was at a later time.
"Mr. Pengarth?" Edward shouted to the mizzen without looking up. "Are your men stationed and watching for that signal?"
"Yes, Captain." The middy's voice floated down from the fighting top.
"Captain, what's going on?" Rimble asked from the other side of the wheel.
"We are to restore order by firing into those ships if the admiral gives the signal. So now we wait." Edward crossed his arms and leaned his hip against the quarterdeck rail. "I expect you can allow Captain Hammond come on board, Mr. Rimble."
Charlie came up the side. Edward made a point of ignoring him. Where was Amanda? Why hadn't she come back with him?
The whole ship waited in silence. Edward saw two of the ship's surgeons turn up to find out why they were going to quarters in a friendly harbor. He saw no reason to order them below and let them stay on the fore deck. "Let the men stand easy at their stations, Mr. Rimble. This could be a long wait." He said, his eyes returning to the three tea ships and the Indians who were now boarding the Dartmouth.
With less than 100 feet separating the Altamira and the tea transports there was no need for a telescope to watch the proceedings.
The three ships had been warped out about thirty feet from the wharf side. A chain of small boats served as the means for what appeared to Pellew to be about a hundred fifty "Indians" to make their way onto the brigs. They were quiet and well coordinated. It was only a matter of minutes before the decks lit up with lanterns and the ships watch crew gathered on the quarterdeck.
Pellew sent the messenger midshipman for his night glass. It was in his hands and to his eye in seconds. More used to seeing other ships in the glass, seeing people upside down in his eye was slightly disorienting. He finally was able to make out the mate on the Beaver handing over a set of keys to the raiders. The crews were giving up the cargo! Heavens!
The Dartmouth, sitting slightly closer to the wharf side, had been the first ship to be boarded and he now saw the first of the tea chests being brought up. "Mr. Pengarth?" He called up to the mizzen top, not taking his eye from the glass.
"Yes, Captain." The young man answered.
"Are your lookouts still watching the house at the head of the wharf?"
"Yes, Captain." The voice sounded a little miffed; Pellew glanced up at the top, glaring at the middy, who smiled back down at him.
"Tend to your business, Mr. Pengarth!" He remarked, clearing his throat for an extra emphasis. "That boy is getting a little too cocky." He said under his breath to no one in particular.
"That he is." Rimble answered, dead serious. Pellew was startled he had not realized that the first officer had moved to stand next to him, his own night glass trained on the Beaver. "They are dumping the tea!" The first officer added.
"How many people do you think are on that wharf?" Pellew asked.
"A thousand people, maybe a few more. Do you see the ladies over by the warehouse?" Rimble replied.
Pellew swung his glass toward the large three story brick building, fully expecting to see Amanda, in that new cape watching the proceedings. 'If they were cheering, she would be cheering too,' he thought, shaking his head at that mental picture. 'God keep you, Mandy, if you are in that crowd. Do what you want, but come back to me safe.' He stopped scanning the crowd, he had found Emmie Hitchbourne, and she was alone.
Rimble, taking his glass down, pointed at a group of men on the wharf stairs. Edward caught sight of the small boat as it put off from beneath the lee of the Dartmouth, there were four of the make believe Indians drawing oars with another two in the sternsheets and another figure huddled in the bottom of the boat. The dinghy was making straight for the quarterdeck of the Altamira. As close as they were to the tea transports, it only took them three or four minutes until the steersman ordered "Back water!" and the small boat went dead in the water.
"Stand off there!" The sentry challenged, "What boat is that?"
"We want to talk to the Captain!" A man standing in the stern of the small boat replied.
"What about?" Rimble called out from beside Pellew.
Edward appeared to take no notice of the small boat and returned his glass to the Dartmouth. The colonists were evidently taking care of one of their own that had run afoul of some rule. The savage, who wore a blanket around his shoulders and light colored breeches and stockings with silver buckled shoes, was being hustled off the ship by his own companions. These people were well organized.
"The captain is standing right beside you! Let him answer me!" The man in the sternsheets yelled back, his face was painted with dark streaks, they looked black in the dim light from the deck. When neither Pellew nor Rimble responded, the man reached into the bottom of the boat and drew a blanket off a huddled form.
"My God." Rimble gasped, "Sir, its Mrs. Pellew."
Edward's head jerked from the Dartmouth to the small boat, almost dropping his telescope. She had been pulled to her feet and stood her mouth gagged and a pistol to her head. His fingers tightened on the case of the glass, hard enough to dent the metal. He squeezed his eyes closed, his lips tightening to keep the curse from pouring out.
"Mister Pengarth." His voice had trembled but he regained his composure, "Are your men in position?"
"Yes, Sir." There was no humor in the midshipman's answer. All of the eyes in the small boat were drawn to the mizzen top. All six of the sharpshooters had stood to and were aiming their rifles into the boat. The two topmen had taken the marines place in watching for the admiral's signal.
"Tom." Pellew spoke, his voice low but full of danger, "Take her gag off."
The man thought a moment, then reached out his free hand and pulled the rag that bound Amanda's mouth down.
"Amanda?" Edward stopped, swallowed and went on, "Are you well?"
"Yes, Edward." She replied her voice higher than normal, but in control. His hands tightened on the night glass again. Her use of his name told him that she loved him, no matter what the outcome might be.
"What would you have me do?" He asked.
"Your duty." She answered, her eyes found his and she stood silent, the cocked pistol still at her head.
He swallowed, his chest heaved once as he prepared to answer
her, his eyes never leaving hers. "Aye, my love." He
answered and turned his eyes to the admiral's lodgings.