AN: I'm beginning to think that posting the prologue in the "dry historical" fashion in which it was written was a mistake. I am going to try and incorporate the main points into the story at some point, but for now I'll leave it as is.
With that being said, this is the first real chapter of the story. I hope you enjoy it, I'll be posting more soon. I'm super charged on this particular story so I want to run with it. Please feel free to leave comments, critiques and/or reviews. I'd love to read them!
27 May 1775
Night was beginning to envelop the sky as the black carriage bounced down the road. The two horses pulling it were not rushing, but the further the travelers went from Berwick, the rougher the road became. Three miles outside of the town the road had become nothing but a dirt pathway cut through the forest and rocks and small divots in it, along with the ruts worn from other carriages and wagons, made the journey difficult and uncomfortable for the three men inside.
The warmth of summer had begun to show its self during the sunny daylight hours, but the night still offered reminders that the winter had not left them completely. Cool breezes dropped the temperature quickly and had forced the men to wrap themselves in their wool cloaks to keep warm. Had the matter that compelled them to travel to the estate just outside the town not been so important, the three men would have remained in the warmth of their homes, sitting by the fireside reading the mail, or the newspaper to keep up on the incredible events taking place in Boston.
"I still can't believe that we are at war." James Cameron stated, still in shock at the notion that colonial militias attacked British regular troops just a month earlier.
"Tis no different than what happened in '45 when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the banner of rebellion against the King." An older man said in a gruff and gravely voice.
"You speak of it as if it were yesterday." The third man rebuked, "I swear Mr. Mitchell, you never really left the Moor did you?"
The older man put his hands on the cold, brass top of his cane and looked at the middle aged Christian Reid with a blank expression. He was taking a moment to carefully choose his words as to not lash out at the younger man, who did not understand what he was saying. Finally he pursed his lips and spoke, "No one who sees the things that I saw on Culloden Moor, and lives to tell about it, ever really leaves. I left many of my kinfolk on that wretched patch of Earth, and you'll do well to remember that."
Reid felt humbled at George Mitchell's words. He had been too young to remember the 1745 rising of the Scottish Clans, and his father had rarely spoken of it, but Reid understood the great loss that was felt at all of those who died at the Battle of Culloden. To many in the town of Berwick, this rebellion began to look like the '45 happening all over again. Instead of clans, colonies were rising up against the British government to restore peace and order and law to the North American colonies. This caused some great excitement, and others bitter resentment at the fact that the younger generation had not learned from the lessons of the '45.
"This is not the rising, and this is not Scotland." James Cameron interjected, "This is something new. Never before have the colonies joined together in such a fashion. Thousands of men traveling farther from their homes than they ever have, to fight for a city they know not. In Scotland, the enemy only had to move their supplies across hundreds of miles, but now they must travel thousands. That alone gives us a better chance."
Mitchell smirked and almost let a laugh pass through his throat, "You are a smart lad, Jamie Cameron, but you don't understand how the English work. You forget that they have men and supplies in Quebec, just over the border. What do you think they will do when word reaches them that Boston is in rebellion? They will send their troops and crush it."
"So we will fight those too." Jamie replied with enthusiasm.
"Ye cannot fight the whole world." Mitchell cautioned him.
"England isn't the whole world, its one country three-thousand miles away." Jamie responded, "We know the countryside, we know the frontier in ways they never will."
Mitchell sighed at Jamie's enthusiasm. He had felt that same thrill during the '45 and it had been a bitter pill to swallow when he learned that such enthusiasm does not win wars. Now in his late fifties, Mitchell knew he would not be the one fighting this war, so all he could hope to do was pass on his wisdom to the younger men who would, "Alas Jamie, there's much ye don't understand and as much as it pains me to say it, England is the whole world. Best army in the world, tried and proven. They've fought in this frontier before, as your cousin will be happy to tell ye. They still have fortifications, and many in the population who are loyal to the crown. This won't turn out however you are imagining it in your head. You might as well come to terms with that right now. Uncertainty is the only certain thing in war."
"Let us not forget why we are traveling to the Laird's estate. It is not to press these interests, but merely to discuss the possibility of joining this war in the New Hampshire regiment now forming in Exeter." Reid interjected before Jamie and Mitchell could continue their discussion. The logistics of the war were not their concern, and he knew that none of them fully understood the gravity of the situation on either side. In Reid's opinion there was no point in continuing the debate when all the facts weren't before them.
"The lad is right." Mitchell said, straightening his large body in his seat as best he could, "This is your war, lads. I'm merely here in the interest of Berwick and to offer my advice and council as best I can. What you choose to do is entirely up to you. I will not cast a vote in either direction. I have no family that will be going to war, and I'm too old and infirm to go myself."
"Mr. Mitchell, you will be of great service watching over the town while we are gone. No one is respected more among the townspeople now that the older Mr. Cameron has passed on." Jamie replied.
"That will be for the Laird to decide. If he sees fit to leave me in charge, then I shall ever do my best to keep this a home for you lads when you return, but if he chooses another man, I will respect his decision in that also." Mitchell said as the carriage rolled to a stop.
Jamie looked out of the window of the carriage and saw the house before them. It was an average size for a home on the northern frontier. It had two outbuildings and a barn and was surrounded by farmland on two sides. Small candles burned in several of the windows, offering a soft orange glow to the estate. The orange bounced off the white paint on the porch brightening the area in front of the door. A man of average height stood waiting. He was wearing a well-cut set of clothes, and his shoulder length hair was left free. His face was worn from many hours working in the fields and braving the northern winters, but it showed a gentle smile as the footman opened the door to the carriage and the men began to debark.
"Welcome to Mr. Cameron's estate. He has been expecting you." The man said in a deep voice with a thick accent telling the party that he was fresh from Scotland.
"Good evening to you Mr. Scott." Mitchell said, limping his way from the carriage to the steps, "I take it Mr. Cameron is waiting for us then?"
"Alas, no, sir." Richard Scott replied, "He is still out on a hunting trip with Mr. Menzie, but is expected to return in a few hours. In the meantime I've been given instruction to see to it that you gentlemen are comfortable while you wait."
"I never understood why Horatio has such a lovely house and yet spends all his time out in that miserable wilderness looking for wild animals." Jamie said, "Like some kind of barbarian. Does he enjoy the cold and misery of an untamed land? The constant fear of being scalped by savages?"
"I believe he finds the wilderness peaceful." Reid replied, giving Jamie a slightly disapproving look.
"Such a waste." Jamie said with a sigh as the men entered the house.
The warmth given off by the hearth fires in two of the rooms warmed the first floor nicely. It was a delightful contrast to the growing chill in the air outside. The inside was also brighter than the men expected based on their observations upon arrival. Each of them gave their cloaks to Scott who hung them up before showing the three men to the study. The room was full of books; bookshelves over five feet tall lined the room on all sides, breaking only for the hearth, windows, and doors. A fire cracked in the hearth, offering the room a blanket of warmth. Several chairs set in random places throughout the room. Everything about it gave anyone who entered, a feeling that this was a place for knowledge, peace, and reflection.
"Please make yourselves comfortable. If you need anything I'll be in the next room." Scott said before turning and leaving the three men to prepare for their wait.
Jamie began to wander around the room admiring the books, looking at the titles, but not picking any of them up. Reid, on the other hand, stopped and picked up several, flipping through them until he found one that caught his eye. He sat down and began to read it. Mitchell found himself a larger chair in the corner and sat down in it, happy to be sitting on something that wasn't bouncing around like a ball.
"Sit down, Jamie, lad." Mitchell said, breathing heavy from the exertion and pain of standing so long, "We might have quite a wait." He leaned over and picked up a glass before pouring himself a drink from the decanter sitting on the table next to him.
"I just don't understand." Jamie said, "My Uncle bought this land, build this house, all with Horatio's help, accumulated this library, and yet he never spends any time here."
"You wouldn't either. You admire the titles, but not the contents of what's inside." Reid said nonchalantly as he momentarily gazed up from his book.
Jamie merely shot Reid a narrow eyed glance before turning his attention back to the rows of books. Jamie was educated, though not as well as Reid was, but with the important events unfolding in Boston, he could hardly grab a book and sit down as though this were little more than a social calling. He was anxious, and enthusiastic to discuss matters with the man who had been called the "Laird of Berwick." Even if there was no longer a clan system, the faux-title had given his cousin a great deal of respect from the local townspeople and Jamie knew that his opinion on this matter would carry a great deal of weight with those Jamie hoped would join the rebellion.
As the time continued to pass the three men sat in the study. Few words passed between them while they waited for the master of the house to return. Reid read the book he had chosen, Jamie continued to study the titles, and pace around the room, while Mitchell eventually fell asleep. All of them had different thoughts on the events of the past month, as did many in the town. The only thing they could hope for was that Horatio Cameron could unite the town and join the rebellion to throw off the British yoke and give them what their fathers and grandfathers had fought for thirty years before: Freedom.