Christina’s Secret Coming Soon!
Christina watched as Oliver and Annie, her young siblings, skipped gaily down the cobblestone streets in front of her. Oliver carried a burlap sack that was bulging full. Despite her concern about what its contents might be, Christina refused to ask any questions. After opening just such a sack and finding a collection of snakes, she knew better. If she drew attention to the sack, Oliver might decide to open it and that might prove to be something Christina would regret.
Annie ran along side Oliver, her gray skirt blowing in the cold, early morning wind. Her coif fell off her head and landed in the dust. Annie kept running, not realizing what she had lost.
At thirteen, Christina was expected to behave like a lady in public, but she wished her heart could be as carefree as the twins looked. As it was, she felt overwhelmed by the tragedy of recent events.
Just a few days before, Christina had found her best friend Lucy and Lucy’s brother Gideon tending to Charles Potter, a Patriot spy who had just been shot by two British soldiers. Mr. Potter had recently stolen valuable information from the British and had been making his way to Danbury when he had been shot.
Lucy and Gideon had been shocked to see Christina and had feared that she would call out to the British soldiers to get their attention, but seeing the pain in the man’s eyes, Christina had pity on him. She couldn’t help but compare him to a Loyalist man she had seen being carried through the streets on rails the night before. No matter what his beliefs, the spy was a man who was loved by God and Christina knew she had to show him that love.
After Christina and Gideon bandaged Mr. Potter, Gideon and Lucy hurried off with him through the trees, leaving Christina behind to keep the British soldiers from following after the three-some slowly making their way to a safe place.
Christina had not known what to say to the British soldiers, who were intent on finding their victim. To her great surprise, the soldiers were so concerned about her blood-stained skirts, they neglected to ask about Mr. Potter!
Later, after the Lee’s bandage and cartridge bee,Lucy had asked Christina if she thought nursing a Patriot spy could be part of God’s will for her.
“What?” Christina had gasped. “Don’t you have enough Patriot friends to help with that?”
“Gideon says we can’t let anyone else know about him. The fewer people who know, the less likely it is that someone will tell the British.” Lucy had looked pleadingly at her friend as she spoke.
Christina nodded. She knew what her friend said was true. News spread like wildfire in a small town like Wallingsford. It was foolhardy to tell someone — even a Patriot — if they didn’t have to.
Besides, Christina had recently decided participate more in “God’s Army,” as Father called it. As a soldier of the King of kings, she would never take a human life and would do the best she could protect it — Patriot or Loyalist.
She thought for a moment. “I don’t really have a choice, do I God?” She had prayed silently. “Mr. Potter’s life is still in danger!”
Christina shook her head as she bent down to pick up Annie’s coif. She hoped that she had made the right decision. In just a few short hours she was going to be helping Lucy nurse Mr. Potter. She hoped with all her might that Major Hammond or the other soldiers who had been looking for Mr. Potter, would not return and ask her more questions.
The evening of the bee, Gideon Lee had agreed that Christina should ask her parent’s permission to help nurse Mr. Potter, so when she returned home that night, she told Father and Mother that she needed to talk to them. After Oliver and Annie had been put to bed, they had gathered in their small living room to talk.
“What’s this all about, Christina?” Mother had asked curiously, as soon as she had sat down in her favorite chair.
“First, I need you to promise me that whatever I say will not go any further.” Christina said, knowing that once her parents promised they wouldn’t tell anyone about Mr. Potter, no matter how they felt about the matter.
“Absolutely,” Father replied, smiling at Christina.
Christina had quickly told them what had happened the day that she met Mr. Potter and about Lucy’s request for help nursing him.
“I cannot believe it!” Mother exclaimed. “Our little Christina doing such a thing.”
“You don’t approve, Mother?” Christina asked, suddenly a bit worried.
“No, no, that’s not what I meant at all,” Mother assured her daughter. “I only meant that I didn’t think you were brave enough — nor decisive enough — to do such a thing.”
“I am quite proud of you, Christina,” Father had said, nodding. “I can see that you are trying to do what Jesus would do.”
“Then you will allow me to nurse Mr. Potter?”
“Yes,” Father replied, looking at Mother. “You may, but you must have Lucy or Gideon with you at all times — don’t be alone with Mr. Potter.”
“Yes, sir,” Christina had agreed. She knew that Father was only trying to protect her and took his reminder very seriously.
Annie’s loud scream broke Christina from her melancholy reverie. Not seeing her two wayward siblings, she shouted, “Annie! Oliver! Come back!” “Thunder” and “Lighting,” as her brother Paul had nicknamed them, did not answer.
“Mother told them to stay with me!” Christina thought as she began to run towards the sound of Annie’s scream. “Why won’t they listen just once?”
Christina listened hard, but could not hear any more sounds coming from Annie or Oliver. Seeing Mr. Nickel come out of his general store, Christina slowed herself down to a fast walk. She quickly smiled pleasantly at the pudgy storekeeper, and then continued down the street, looking down alleyways, in barrels, and around wagons that were parked on the street, searching for the twins.
“Oliveerr!” Christina shouted as loud as she dared on the main street of Wallingsford. She didn’t want all the people on the street to hear her calling in such an unladylike manner. Christina tossed a quick glance into the alleyway between the print shop and the apothecary and then hurried on.
As she passed the print shop, Christina noticed that the handle of the door was covered in something white and fluffy. She stopped and stared, trying to figure out what had happened to the knob. Moving closer, Christina saw that the entire handle was covered with feathers. She watched as a bunch of feathers and a stream of black goo dripped slothfully off the handle and onto the ground below.
“Tar and feathers!” Christina gasped. “Who would tar and feather Gideon’s shop? This doesn’t make sense at all!”
Most of the townspeople in Wallingsford were Patriots and those who were not would be so bold as to threaten the head of the Sons of Liberty! Gideon was not respected by anyone –— including Patriots — instead they were afraid of him. Only his ability to get things, done fortified by sheer determination, made him the leader the Patriots needed.
A soft wind blew down the street just then, wafting a sweet smell towards Christina’s nose. She reached out and dipped her finger in the sticky substance and then brought it close to her nose.
“It’s molasses!” Christina exclaimed in surprise.
A girlish giggle coming from the alleyway near the shop, made Christina jump. She turned around quickly and ran down the alleyway.
Oliver was standing on a dilapidated crate pouring a dark, sticky liquid onto the shop’s window pane. Christina immediately recognized it as Mother’s jar of molasses. Annie stood near Oliver, holding the half-empty bag that he had been carrying before. A few white feathers stuck to the outside of the burlap sack betraying its contents.
As soon as she spoke, the two young heads turned towards her in surprise.
“What are you doing?” Christina hissed, rushing forward and taking the bottle from Oliver’s hand. She lowered her voice even further, hoping that Gideon, who was doubtless already at work inside his shop, would not hear her and come out to investigate. “You could get us all in a lot of trouble!”
“He did it to us!” Oliver snapped, reaching wildly for the bottle of molasses while still trying to balance on the lopsided crate. “Give it back, Christina!”
“I will not!” Christina put the bottle behind her back so it would be out of Oliver’s reach. “Mr. Lee did not put tar and feathers all over our door handles and windows. He only put a ball of it on our doorstep and he apologized later. But even if he had put tar and feathers over our entire house, that does not give us an excuse to do the same to him!”
“He burned down Paul’s shop!” Oliver yelled. “If it weren’t for him, Paul would still have a job and he wouldn’t have run away to the army! I wish I could burn down Gideon’s shop! That would really teach him!”
Oliver’s words hit Christina like a knife. She knew what Oliver said was probably true, but she had chosen to forgive Gideon in spite of everything. Hearing Oliver voice his feelings, however, brought it all back. Her eyes filled with tears as she realized how much her brother and sister must be hurting after Paul’s disappearance.
“Oliver,” she said quietly, trying to steady her voice. “I miss Paul too, but doing bad things to Gideon is not going to bring him back.”
Christina felt small fingers creeping around the bottle of molasses she held behind her back. Suddenly, the bottle was pulled away from her.
“I got it, Oliver!” Annie sang joyfully. She danced around Christina who tried to intercept her, but she was too fast. She handed the bottle over to Oliver, who began his sticky vandalism once again.
Christina went over and tried to tear the bottle away from Oliver, but his hands were so sticky, they clung to the bottle like a leech. Suddenly there was a loud snap and the crate he was standing on cracked, sending them both to the ground. The two of them landed on their backs in the dusty street below.
“Oof!” Christina groaned as she rolled over onto her stomach and started to get up. At that moment, Annie jumped on her and she fell back to the ground. Annie was not as strong as her older sister, but the element of surprise was on her side. Annie pinned down Christina’s arms and bounced enthusiastically on her back.
“Get up, Oliver! I got her!” Annie encouraged her fallen brother.
Oliver grabbed the molasses bottle that Christina still clutched in her hand. “Give it to me, Christina!” Christina held on tighter, but she could feel her grasp slipping. Oliver’s thin fingers were prying hers away from the bottle and any second now he would have the bottle worked loose.
“Thunder and Lighting!” A deep voice stopped the children’s scuffle.
Christina’s heart leapt as she heard Oliver and Annie’s nicknames. “It must be Paul! He came back!” Excitedly, she looked up from where she was lying in the dust — right into the stern face of Major Hammond!
© 2013 by Sharon Rose Books. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means —except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without prior written permission of the publisher.