A woman worries for her husband in during a time of brewing conflict.
| The air was bitter that January morning. I sat comfortably by the fire of the Franklin stove as I drank my tea. It had been imported from Britain, so there was a bit of a salty taste. I didn’t mind though. It was lucky of me to be married to a British tax collector. At that time not many women such as myself had the privilege to enjoy the beverage. It was too costly.
“I’m going to work, my love,” my husband George announced. I froze as if I went outside without a petticoat. Being a tax collector was a dangerous job as far as I knew. Not a lot of people in the colonies liked them. For one thing, the English Parliament was very strict with the prices of their goods. Some colonists had to pay nearly their entire salary in order to purchase these imports. There were several riots, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. Those shook me to the bone. “Aren’t you coming to say ‘Goodbye’?” George called again.
I ran through the halls into his embrace. It was warm and tender.
“Do you have to go?” I asked.
“I have to, Sarah,” he replied. “I can’t lose my job.”
“But what if something terrible happens to you?” I responded.
George pressed his thumb to my lips gently.
“It will be alright,” he said, encircling me into another embrace. “I don’t like my job, especially now. However, I don’t want us to get in trouble with Parliament.” He kissed my forehead before he let go. He put on his hat and walked out the door.
The hours after that were tormenting. I tried to take my mind off of them by doing my daily chores. None of them offered any solace. In fact, I couldn’t perform my tasks properly at all.
Finally the time came for George to return home. I eagerly paced back and forth at the threshold. A quarter of an hour passed and then some. This wasn’t like my husband. He always came home at ten o’clock on the dot. When an entire hour passed, I fell backwards onto a chair and began to fear the worst. A rebel colonist could have mugged him and left him for dead. Maybe a group hanged him on his way home.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Could it have been my husband? Alas, it wasn’t. Instead it was two British soldiers. One was tall and the other was smaller. Both of them looked at me gravely.
“Madam,” addressed the taller soldier. “We need you to come with us, please.” The shorter soldier gently held my arm and guided by out of the house. The streets were dark and quiet. I kept my eyes on the ground. I didn’t want to see what was soon to be revealed. We entered the building where a grandfather clock chimed. Voices spoke, but I couldn’t comprehend what they said. I nodded anyway.
The soldiers led me to a nearby room where a horrific sight awaited. A man was lying on the bed, soaked in tar and coated with feathers.
“This is your husband,” said one voice.
I collapsed onto the floor and everything went black. When I awoke, I was seated in a chair. It was early in the afternoon. A cup of tea was placed on a small table next to me. On the other side was George. I could barely recognize him with the bandages that wrapped him from head to toe. I wanted to touch him, but the doctor nearby stopped me.
“His skin is still extremely sensitive to the touch,” he said. “He’ll have to stay in bed for a couple months.”
“What am I to do?” I asked drily.
“You can help me care for him until he is well enough,” offered the doctor. I could only nod.
“Where do I begin?”