Felicity was so exhilarated. She had just arrived at Elizabeth’s house from the ball. She had danced very late into the night. Elizabeth had ended up going home early from the ball because her older sister, Annabelle felt sick. “If Ben doesn’t escort you home, don’t walk all the way home yourself. Come to my house, you can stay there for the night. It’s far too dangerous for us girls to be out and about in the middle of the night,” she had told Felicity before she left.
Felicity did not think it too dangerous to be out in the middle of the night, she had visited her horse, Penny frequently in the middle of the night when mean old Jiggy Nye owned her, but she was grateful for Elizabeth’s kindness and excited to stay at her house. She couldn’t help feeling pleased when Ben did not show up to escort her home and she walked the short distance to Elizabeth’s house. Elizabeth lived near the Governor’s Palace because her father worked for him.
Now, in Elizabeth’s bedroom, the girls giggled and shared their thoughts of the ball.
“I truly can’t believe I’m going to New York,” Elizabeth said as she bounced with excitement on her bed in her nightgown.
“I can believe it!” Felicity said, “You are the only one in the entire ballroom who deserves to go! Lady Charlotte is right, you are the kindest person to have ever set foot in Williamsburg,” Felicity stated as she changed out of her ball gown.
“Don’t be ridiculous! The kindest person in Williamsburg! My foot! I was so tempted to send Annabelle home by herself.”
“But you didn’t,” Felicity countered, “I know I would have.”
“Oh, you wouldn’t!” Elizabeth gasped, “If Nan got sick, would you make her walk home all by herself? And what if something happened and she didn’t make it home?”
“I wasn’t thinking about Nan. I was thinking about Annabelle, and how awful she is and how she deserves to walk the short distance to your house.”
“Felicity, you need to practice being more compassionate.”
“I know, that’s why I have you as a friend to remind me,” Felicity looked thoughtful, “I wonder how Lady Charlotte knew you helped Emma and Annabelle. She seemed to know everything that went on.”
“Well, I expect she did. She didn’t dance herself, but I saw her looking intently at everyone in the room. I just assumed she was judging their dancing abilities and not their character,” Elizabeth said, “What did you do after I left?”
Felicity grinned, “What do you think I did, I ate and I dance and danced and danced!”
Felicity twirled faster and faster as she spoke, her pockets flying at her sides and suddenly, something fluttered to the floor. It was the letter.
It landed close to Elizabeth.
“What’s this?” Elizabeth asked. Felicity went to grab it, but Elizabeth reached faster.
She looked at it closely, “Oh, my goodness! Where did you get this? This is….this is…..I believe this is General George Washington’s seal!” Elizabeth looked up at Felicity.
Felicity couldn’t think of what to say fast enough, “How do you know it’s George Washington’s seal?’ she asked.
Elizabeth started to pull on some stockings, the letter still in her hand, “My father works for our Governor, Felicity, you know that. I see all sorts of letters and envelopes and seals on his desk. I recognized this because George Washington used to send loads of letters to Lord Dunmore and my father was in charge of sorting them. How on earth did you get this?”
Felicity thought about lying and telling Elizabeth she had found it a long time ago on her father’s desk when they were playing but she just couldn’t lie to her best friend. It was so wrong, such a breaking of trust. She did the next best thing:
“I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to tell you about it, but I need it back,” She reached for it, “Please give it back, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth looked confused, “You’re not at liberty…..? Are you hiding something?” Elizabeth’s voice became loud and shrill, “Are you hiding government papers!? Your father owns a store, he’s not involved in government business.”
Just then the door opened. The girls gasped and whirled around. Elizabeth hastily stuffed the letter in her stocking. It was Elizabeth’s mother.
“Girls,” she said sternly, “It is past 2 o’clock in the morning. I know Felicity got here very late but if you do not get in bed this instant I am sending her home!”
“I’m sorry, mother,” said Elizabeth. Felicity hastily got into her nightgown and Elizabeth wiggled into bed as her mother walked out of the room and closed the door behind her.
“Elizabeth!” Felicity whispered, “I need that letter. You have to give it back to me.”
But Elizabeth faced the other way, “I’m not giving it back tonight. I have to think about this.”
“No! It’s mine! I can’t believe you even took it from me! It’s really, really important -”
“I know,” Elizabeth replied, “That’s why I can’t give it back to you. I should really wake up Father and give it to him right now.”
Felicity gasped, “You wouldn’t!”
“I don’t want to, because I know it would upset you but -”
“Upset me!” Felicity cried, “It would ruin everything! I couldn’t see how I could possibly be your friend anymore.”
“That’s what I assumed,” Elizabeth said coolly as she could, although tears were starting to prick her eyes. She still wouldn’t look at Felicity, “I will tell you what I will do in the morning. Go to sleep.”
Go to sleep!! If Elizabeth handed it over to her father, everything in that letter was in jeopardy. She didn’t know what was in the letter but it had to be something really important or George Washington wouldn’t send a spy all the way to New York to deliver it. If Elizabeth’s father got his hands on it, he would send the information straight to Lord Dunmore who would then send it to a British general who would use that information against the colonists which could very well mean the end of the fight for independence! And it would all be Felicity’s fault! Oh, how could she possibly go to sleep when the very outcome of the revolution rested in Elizabeth’s hands!
She had to come up with a plan, and fast. She was certain Elizabeth would go straight to her father in the morning. She didn’t think she could possibly pull the letter out of Elizabeth’s stocking without her knowing or waking up. I have to warn Mr. Brewster! she thought, I’ll run straight home right at dawn and warn him. Maybe he can stop this. It wasn’t a good plan, but it was the only plan she could come up with.
Neither girl slept well that night. Elizabeth was in a turmoil over what to do just like Felicity. She knew the right thing would be to go to her father and hand him the letter. But she also knew it would probably be the last she’d ever see of Felicity. Why was it so hard to be friends with someone who was on a different side of the war? It was just so unfair how what used to be an argument about independence had turned into a war and was splitting their friendship apart! Still undecided, the exhaustion from the ball crept over Elizabeth and she fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning she found Felicity gone from the bed. All of her things were gone too. Elizabeth sighed. Felicity must have assumed she’d go to her father. She got dressed and slowly walked down to her father’s office.
She took a deep breath as she slowly set the letter down on her father’s desk for him to read. Her hand brushed another piece of parchment.
She glanced at it and noticed the words ‘ball’ and ‘New York’. She leaned forward and carefully unfolded the letter and read it:
Dear Mr. Cole,
As you know, I planned to collect the rest of my belongings and head to New York in the beginning of April, however, I have decided to enact that plan sooner. Things are looking more and more dangerous for myself and my family and I need to move them to permanent safety in Vermont where Charlotte’s mother lives. You already know that publicly we are making this a trip, not a permanent destination so that we might be more protected. Our chosen young friends from the ball, including your daughter, will still get a chance to see our country’s capital. Charlotte has fallen in love with several other girls who were at the ball. We shall be sending letters to them informing them of the impending trip. I cannot stay very long in New York, as that is even more of a dangerous place than here, but I shall leave your daughter and the girls with escorts who will take them to key sights, and bring them home safely. Please meet with me tomorrow morning and we can discuss more of this.
The Honored Servant to the King,
Lord Governor Dunmore
Elizabeth was stunned. Lord Dunmore and his family were fleeing Williamsburg like the British had already lost the war. Like the cowards the Patriots said they were. She felt ashamed to be supporting them. She had never really thought which side of the war she ought to be on, on her own. She didn’t even want to go to New York anymore. Slowly, she took George Washington’s letter off of the desk and slid it back into her pocket. The door opened and Elizabeth jumped.
“Elizabeth! I’m so very proud of you!” Mr. Cole leaned over and gave her a kiss, “You have been very admirably chosen to go to New York and I’m so pleased for you.”
“Thank you, Father, but I’m not even sure that I want to go anymore.”
“Not go? What?”
“I…was just here, and I happened to glance at that letter and read Lord Dunmore is fleeing Williamsburg and I am the cover for it. How could he? Why doesn’t he stand and fight?”
“He feels if he goes north he can recruit more men to help fight down hear whilst also keeping his family safe. Right now, he is a hated man and he fears for his life and his family’s. I would do the same with you if it were us in such danger.”
He gave her another kiss, “Run along now, I have much business to attend to.”
Elizabeth wasn’t sure if she agreed.
Meanwhile, Felicity was starting to feel panicky. She had rushed home a little before dawn only to find Caleb Brewster gone from the house. His leg had been healing splendidly under Felicity’s care and he could now get around using a crutch. Felicity cleaned Penny’s stall, and put more food in the trough, all the while looking out for Mr. Brewster to come hobbling down the road. But there was no sign of him. She knew she couldn’t stay outside any longer, she had to go in for breakfast.
“Dear Lissie!” her mother said, “I was just about to go out when a letter arrived for you and here you are! I assumed you stayed at Elizabeth’s last night?”
“Yes, mother, but have you seen Mr. Brewster? I urgently need to speak with him.”
“I’m sorry, dear. He left before I even got up. I’m sure he’ll be back shortly. But here,” she handed Felicity the letter,
“I think there might be some very exciting news in that letter.”
Felicity glanced at the letter tied neatly with a red ribbon, “You don’t think…” Felicity read it and gasped out loud.
“It is! An invitation from Lord Dunmore to travel to New York! Oh, mother!” Felicity gave her a hug.
“Lissie, your father says you can go. Though I don’t know what changed his mind.”
She and her father were the only people besides Caleb Brewster himself, who knew about the delivery of George Washington’s letter and Felicity’s supposed mission.
Felicity had worked so hard to get to New York and now, it was all for nothing. She had completely failed. Her mother didn’t notice the look of despair on her face.
“I’m going to visit your father at the store. We should have a celebration tonight for your good news.”
Felicity started on some chores in the kitchen, still waiting impatiently for Caleb Brewster.
“Elizabeth?” Felicity looked up, stunned to see her.
“I wanted you to know, your letter is still a secret. I found out Lord Dunmore created this whole plan about the ball and the trip as a cover for their real reason of leaving.
They are fleeing Virginia permanently. They fear for their lives. I do not approve of such cowardice. Even though I’m not a Patriot, or, I guess I’m not, I’m not even sure anymore, I’ve always admired you people. You are so few and so poor, at least compared to us, and yet you still stand and fight. I’m not sure if I have changed sides, but I do want to give you your letter back, unopened.”
“Thank you, Elizabeth. That’s quite shocking news. I have some shocking news myself.”
Felicity smiled, “I received a letter. I’m going to New York with you!”
So ends part 3 of this Felicity series.
I had a difficult time writing that one. I struggled right along with Felicity and Elizabeth as they tried to make their decisions between their friendship and country. I had many different possibilities but I decided to choose this rout because I really want them to stay friends! Stay tuned for part 4 they truly are going to go on a trip!