Chloe Helton | Historical Fiction

The Red Pearl: Chapter 4

Chapter 4


An observation: a British man will drink half as much rum as a colonist. Does that make the British terrible customers, or are the colonists drunkards?

On another note, there is a British shipment coming in. I doubt they’ll sneak it through, because they never manage to, but the men seem confident. By now, they’ve all but given up getting supplies in through our harbor. Isn’t Philadelphia where they send it now? Somewhere close, surely. Maybe New York.

Would they really take the trouble to smuggle gin? Certainly the Crown is less interested in getting their soldiers drunk than with other things - ammunition, perhaps. Maybe they’re sending that, too?

“What’s keeping you at that desk?” Jasper mumbled from the bed. “No more letters to Betty, I imagine, since you just saw her today.”

I could just the same have been writing to my brother Jonathan, whom I hadn’t seen in months. “I’m almost done,” I said.

“Is it that journal again? What do you write in there, anyway?”

“It’s just a diary,” I said, though it wasn’t quite the same. Not a record of the day’s events, more like a record of the day’s thoughts. Sometimes the writings were short and sporadic, sometimes long like the political pamphlets they handed out in the square.

“Whatever it is, finish up and blow out that candle. I’d like to wake up easily tomorrow.”

“We both know that won’t happen under any circumstances.”

He smiled. “Perhaps. But that candle doesn’t help anything.”

When I was done, I curled into his arms. “What’s the point in diaries?” he asked, his cheek pressed against my neck. “What’s there to write about, when all our days are much the same? ‘Monday, October the 1st, sold thirty-six pints of flip and bought three bottles of cream. Tuesday, October the 2nd, thirty-nine pints but no cream, we don’t need that til Friday. Wednesday, October the 3rd -”

“Okay, I get it,” I laughed. “But there’s more to it than that, you know? All the people around us, all of them talking and talking; there’s always so much to listen to. There’s so much happening in this city. Maybe inside our walls it’s all the same, but on the outside it’s the most exciting place in the world. That’s what I like to write about.”

He’d fallen asleep before I even finished talking. I sighed and, shivering from the cold, pulled him closer.