THE FIRST FOURTH • by DJ Barber

William Green rode north along the river. The convention had gone rather well, all sides agreeing, at last, to the final document. William thought it a fine opening line; that tall fellow from Massachusetts had drafted it. Or was he from Virginia? And what was his name?–ah, it was just as well. They’d all be in it deep after this bit of fat was thrown in the fire. The powers-that-be would act with a swift, hard hand–William had no doubt. Still, the right and proper thing had been done–of that, William was certain.

The ride north was uneventful; even Mother Nature seemed to have taken pause, for not even the faintest of breezes did William Green note on his travels. He took the crossing at the lower ferry, noting the smoke from the barrack housing in the village, where, no doubt, the evening sup was about to commence.

Upon reaching the eastern shore, William rode hard toward the Pennington Road where his small farm sat. He looked into his own larder and found all but nothing–no doubt that rabble down in the village were eating well–too well–and at William’s expense, to boot! But William accepted things as they were–for now. He dined on some old and stringy venison stew the missus had made, and afterward rode slowly south to the edge of the village. Down the slope of the small hill he saw clearly the barracks which housed hundreds of red-clad soldiers; they’d all have a good pull of beer imported from their ancestral homeland, Germany, before turning in, William knew. Beyond the barracks, the river swam slowly by in the setting summer sun. William Green thought that this vantage would be a fine place to set up a couple of cannons–but who would do that? Poor dream–as poor as those dreamers at the convention, huh?

He turned towards home, memories of this morning’s rambunctious meetings in his mind and remembered what to him seemed a madman’s ravings from a purple-faced gentleman dressed in military garb, who proclaimed: “If we can only hold out until Christmastime, the tide will turn!” And the others all cheered; being in a celebratory mood. But William’s heart could find in it nothing to celebrate this day.

Looking now at the men-at-arms milling about the barracks, William thought, “Christmastime? By Christmastime that old river will be frozen over and that lot in the barracks will be tucked in for the winter, with nary a thought of us.” He sniffed at a north wind which had picked up as the evening cooled. He now fully realized that he’d cast in his lot with a band of rebels–and with them he’d stay–til death they did part!

“But,” William sadly thought, “this hundred-year-old village named Trenton will sit right here on the banks of the Delaware River and will never know what happened this day in Philadelphia…”

Christmastime? Bah!


DJ Barber wishes everyone a happy Fourth of July!

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