I’m delighted to welcome Lindsey S. Fera to the blog with an excerpt from her new book, Muskets and Masquerades.
His throat thick with melancholy, Jack leaned against an old cherry tree. It had been months since he allowed himself to feel sorrow, to remember the pain endured aboard HMS Lively. The laudanum had numbed everything, but was no longer a part of his life, thanks to Quinnapin, and five grueling days of sickness and agony. Now, he must relearn to feel.
The cherry tree’s welcoming shade reminded him of the Howletts’ ancient oak. Perhaps Mary and Henry occupied that space this very moment, laughing and climbing the tree’s thick, wide branches. Hopefully they did, for now with a proclamation of independence, war was certain to persist, and perhaps rage on for years to come. These will not be easy times.
Mr. Greeves, Hancock’s assistant, approached with steadfast step. “Mr. Perkins—you’re required, sir.”
Jack followed the assistant and reentered the stuffy meetinghouse.
“There he is, and looking a bit flushed, I must say,” John Adams said with a nod of approval. “The color in your cheeks does improve your complexion. We were quite astounded when first we saw you, looking so thin and pale.” Adams regarded Jefferson. “I’ve known this lad since he graduated Harvard and became my law apprentice. Indeed, he learned well; we’re now partners.”
“And I’m grateful to you, sir,” Jack replied. “My imprisonment upon HMS Lively did me quite the disservice, but I’m recovering well. My leg grows stronger each day.”
“So I’ve heard, Mr. Perkins,” Jefferson remarked. “We’re right heartily glad for your return to Congress. Pray, what do you think of the declaration?”
Jack beamed. “’Tis a marvel, sir. Better written than any good man here could’ve done—and each gentleman present is more than capable of conjuring such profound sentiments, but to put it to writing is quite the task. ’Tis been an honor to be part of such a moment, sir.”
“And your moment will come, too, Mr. Perkins. We still hope to court France. They would prove a most powerful ally,” Adams added.
Father rested a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “I couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Jefferson. I’m most pleased by your fine, diligent work. Have we each signed the parchment yet?”
John Adams eyed the meetinghouse door. “We’re awaiting Dr. Franklin. He went to the necessary.”
As Adams finished speaking, the meetinghouse door opened, and in stepped Dr. Franklin. A glint of sunlight reflected off his large patch of receding hairline, which yielded to long, greying hair. Franklin peered at the room from over the edge of round spectacles. “Shall we sign again, gentlemen?”
The men clamored about the room, surrounding Mr. Hancock at his desk. Jack joined his father and John Adams. He’d met Mr. Hancock several times when living in Boston. It had been at Hancock’s grand manor that George was bequeathed a sum of money from an old life insurance policy held by George’s natural father, Captain Bixby; Bixby had been contracted by Hancock’s late uncle. A night I’ll never forget; and I’m certain, neither will George. The annual sum had allowed his cousin to purchase the Black Water Inn in Portsmouth.
Mr. Hancock dipped a white quill into the inkwell and scraped off the excess black ink. He scratched a flamboyant signature, quite largely, onto the parchment. “Is it substantial enough to match the one sent to King George?”
The gentlemen laughed, and each took their turn signing the page. When it came to Jack, he hesitated, and met the eyes of those in the room.
“Gentlemen, I wish to speak on things I’ve contemplated since the creation of this document.”
“Go on, Perkins,” Franklin said, though a few others, Congressmen from the southern colonies, groaned.
“’Tis a privilege to sign such a document, but ’twas equally an honor to fight. I was there at Concord, and likewise present at Bunker Hill. I stand before you today, gentlemen, not as a vessel of Congress, quick to sign my name, but as a militiaman who fought the British on each of those fateful days. The people of Massachusetts have been fighting since 1770.” Jack’s throat clogged, but he composed himself. “’Tis been six long years for the people of Massachusetts, and I pray the rest of these alleged united states partake in the fight that has solely been ours. New-England has long been the head of Dr. Franklin’s famed serpent, and I’m overjoyed to see the other colonies join with us as the body.”
Jack dipped the quill in ink and signed his name. “This is for each man who remains on the front lines of battle, each man who has fought, and each man whose injury or death has been the cost of this document. This is for Bunker Hill.” Though he spoke the word man, he envisioned Annalisa, the woman who fought and survived Bunker Hill, the woman who’d traveled with him in the name of Congress and had lost her life. For Annalisa, he signed.
The gentlemen clapped.
“Hear, hear, Perkins.”
Adams rapped his cane. “For Bunker Hill.”
Mr. Hancock nodded. “For Bunker Hill, Mr. Perkins.”
When the last signature was upon the parchment, Jack addressed Congress once more. “Now, we must all hang together, gentlemen.”
Dr. Franklin chuckled, landing a hand upon Jack’s shoulder. “Indeed, young Mr. Perkins, we must all hang together, for if we do not, we’ll all hang separately.”
Here’s the blurb
Jack and Annalisa are married only five months when, enroute to France, a shipwreck separates them. On different shores, each believes the other dead. But when Annalisa learns Jack is alive, she returns to America and discovers much has changed. After a betrayal, she flees town as her alter ego, Benjamin Cavendish, and joins the Continental Army.
Unbeknownst to Annalisa, Jack has also joined the Continentals, harboring shameful secrets from his days in mourning. Against the backdrop of war with Britain, façades mount between Jack and Annalisa, and the merry minuet of their adolescence dissolves into a masquerade of deceit, one which threatens to part them forever.
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Meet the author
LINDSEY S. FERA is a born and bred New Englander, hailing from the North Shore of Boston. As a member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets & Minuets, a planned trilogy.
When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health. Muskets & Masquerades is her sophomore novel.
Connect with Lindsey
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