My dearest Charlotte,
I must say the party was such a nice break from the routine of the rest of the week, what with all the help we provided for father. With Andrew off to Boston to apprentice with Mr. Fitzgerald, it seems so boring and lonely in the shop. I don’t mind getting ink under my fingers; it is testimony that a girl can and should do the work of a boy given half a chance. To tell you the truth, Andrew seemed so taken with my presence that he became distracted. Father even threatened to box his ears if he didn’t pay attention to the job at hand. Between us, however, I expect that we were the best typesetters in all of Massachusetts, if not the colonies.
I do so love dressing up; the occasions are fewer and further between than ever since the hostilities began, and I do so understand how perilous these times are. But to set aside the drab scratch of cotton for the silks and satins and ribbons and bows? My breasts have begun to peek out from their hiding place at last, and I am looking forward to the time when I can. Dare I say it? Display them. Andrew appeared nervous at our parting; perhaps because of my development, and I expect that when he returns in the Spring I will have sufficiently become a lady, even if I am only thirteen. I do so hope that when he returns he will have a question to ask father. I am quite in love with the lad and I am presuming to ask you to be my maid of honor should he propose. More to come shortly...
The whistle of shot was the only warning, sadly, as it struck the boy under the left eye and he dropped like a stone. His Tri-corner hat fell to the ground and lay next to his body. A small piece of parchment tumbled out of the hat and lay exposed on the ground as the mist of rain fell lightly on the boy’s face. A while later the shooting had stopped. Voices shouted encouragement and it would have been a good day but for that two men happened on the sole casualty of the skirmish.
“Oh bloody hell, Corporal Fergsuon? It’s the Jenkins lad!” One of the men called over. The corporal walked up and stood over the boy’s body and said a quick prayer and shook his head.
“Not even fourteen, aye, and what a good lad he was.” The man began to weep softly at the sight of a child gone before even a fraction of his life had been lived. He reached down and retrieved the parchment and held it for the others to see.
“Looks like he was writing home….His sister I expect….” He sheltered the paper with his left hand, but even then the rain had already begun to wash away the words from the page.
“Cor…I know…his sister…. He used to talk about her all the time….” The corporal shook his head once again and read.
“Dearest Charlotte, I must say that the pa…party….Oh hell, the rest is gone.” The man had seen enough of death already even in only five months of battles and skirmishes, and he wept unashamedly as the men prepared to bear the boy’s body away for interment.
“Give us a bit…just a moment, okay, boys?” The other two militia men nodded and stepped away. The corporal bent down and kissed the boy’s cheek, tasting his blood almost as a parting gift from the child; reminder of sorts about his own mortality and the futility of not living life.
“I’ll tell her if I see her that your last thoughts were of her. I’m awfully sad to see you go, child. Remember me if you can when you arrive at your rest, aye?” He bit his lip and kissed the boys’ forehead once again before saying at last,
“Be at peace, dear child. God bless this babe, dear God. Hardly breathed of life, and now gone. May thy rest bring that life which was ne’er received here, O Lord. Amen.” He crossed himself and stood up.
“Best be quick about it; do the best ye can, lads, aye?” He watched as they bore the boy away before looking skyward.
“Good bye, Rachel Jenkins, God be with you!”
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