When the lumber yard of Boston Harbor was in sight, Adoniram Douglass felt completely overjoyed. Three months of traveling by sea and he and his son, Cully, would be in the colonies in a matter of hours.
Leaving Ireland was not easy. Especially during such a time as this. Rumors of revolution were in the air, and even breathing a word of agreement or compliance with the American "rebels" was grounds for arrest, beating, and hanging.
He and Cully had come to escape the violence. Adoniram was a hard-working man whom violence seemed to follow like an agitated bee. First there was the misunderstanding with the tax man. Then after fleeing, they found themselves in gangland, as the hoodlums who owned the neighborhood came knocking at their door wanting to see their protestant Bibles. Instead of a Bible, Adoniram fought them off with a poker from the mantel. Every last one of them. Then finally, was the last straw. The death of his wife, Faith.
Had he been at home instead of toiling away in the fields, he could have protected her. She was like him, a natural fighter, and she fought off the drunkard who broke into their home. Fought him off with a tea kettle. And yet she had been the one arrested and hanged.
That scarred poor Cully. The boy was only sixteen, but he already had the temper of his mother and the poor luck of his father. The only choice was to get out while they still could. America offered something they were not finding at home.
Though the trip was not easy, they were now within eyeshot of that beautiful cove. The ship rocked to and fro as they approached the harbor.
Adoniram placed his hand on Cully's shoulders and squeezed his collar bone. "You see that, son? We've nearly made it."
Cully did not answer, just stared ahead. His cheeks were flush. It had been a miracle that neither had keeled over on the voyage. Two of the nineteen passengers on their tiny trawler had died and six more had been violently ill. But not them. Perhaps Providence was looking kindly on the Douglasses for a change.
He inhaled and breathed in the fresh salt water and a scent of something else. Bread? Fresh bread had the strongest appeal. Adoniram looked through his meager purse. He had but a few shillings. For now. Soon, he would be working in a factory, making real honest money. He and the boy could afford their first days in luxury, with struggle only briefly ahead of them. This was a land of opportunity after all.
When the ship finally docked, they were unloaded with their few meager belongings. "Where are we going to stay?" Cully asked, the first words he'd spoken in a day and a half.
Adoniram smiled. He kicked a hay bale near the end of the dock. "Maybe here." He dropped his bag and fluffed it with his shoe. "Or here."
"It's certainly not as cold as home," Cully said, in his jacket, under shirt, and trousers.
"That's the spirit, eh?" They lodged near the foot of the dock, out in the open. Father and son lay skull-to-skull beside the dock, staring up at the stars.
"Do you want to know the greatest part of being here, Cully?"
"What's that?" his son asked.
"I get to watch you grow up without the persecution I experienced in young manhood. You get the chance to really make something of yourself, you know that?"
Cully scoffed, but his father knew he was also likely smiling. "Whatever you say, old man. Let's get some shut eye, eh? I couldn't sleep a wink on that shaking trawler."
The two closed their eyes. At some point, a commotion broke out. Adoniram opened his eyes and sat up. At a dock nearby were men with torches. Lots of them. He squinted his eyes. No, they weren't men, they were dressed as savages. He'd seen them in drawings.
What were savages doing 'round these parts? He roused Cully and his son quietly got up and saw the intensity of his father's eyes. He silently rose and got behind him. They crouched behind the dock post.
Dozens of them, with torchlight, were getting into small boats on the harbor. Something didn't seem to be right. The last thing either of them wanted was to get involved in some trouble their first night in the colonies. But the curiosity kept him from leaving.
The people or whatever they were got into the boats and began to row out to sea. Four paddle boats full. What were they up to?
With his eyes, he tracked their trajectory and located two large vessels. He recognized the design right away. British Freighters.
Adoniram had the feeling that something bad was about to happen. He turned to his son. "You listen to me. You go and get far away from here, no matter what happens, you hear?"
Cully shook his head. "Let's just leave now. Nothing good will come from watching."
Adoniram heard the wisdom in his son's words, but something prevented him from heeding them. "The British are no friends of ours, son," he said. "If this is part of that revolution we've heard of, this may be our time to take a side."
As they were talking, the boats reached the two large vessels. The Indians were climbing ropes up to the deck. Adoniram watched with Cully whimpering quietly behind him, torn between abandoning his father and staying to watch what all this was about.
Suddenly, even from shore, they heard the gunshots. Fire appeared on deck. They were both roused. Dogs were barking nearby. Splash. Was that was a man or cargo? Splash. Splash.
Something was being pushed into the harbor. Something large and heavy. Gunpowder? No, this was no naval vessel. What then?
They heard the hollering and saw the ships ablaze. The silhouette of crews trying to decide between saving the vessel and jumping overboard. The Indians were returning to shore. They were approaching a distant harbor.
At this point, the excitement had caused Adoniram to stand. The night sky glowed orange as the flames billowed skywards.
"Oye! I see the lookout man!" someone shouted. Adoniram spun around to see a fat constable approaching him. A crowd had gathered to see the spectacle. He scanned the seas and saw no traces of the paddle boats anymore. They had vanished as in true Indian fashion.
He heard the crack of the gun before the wood beside him splintered. Adorinam picked up Cully, though he was capable of running and actually quite fast. They had no idea where they were going, but they ran.
"Cully, don't stop!" Adorinam kept shouting. "Don't stop!"
The son kept running, until he was well past his father and could no longer hear his shouts. He didn't look back and he didn't slow down.
Cully found an alleyway and hid inside behind some garbage piled there. His chest was pounding. He had run for miles. In an unfamiliar town in a new country. There was much commotion now and dawn was approaching. Eventually he slept.
The next morning, when he came out from the alley, he was shocked to see so much commotion. People in rags and people in dress were all speaking about loudly. There was much hollering.
He walked around as one dumb, until he approached a man reading a pamphlet. "What has happened? Sir? What has happened? Was it something last night?"
The man gave him a funny look. His voice after all, was not British, but was fairly close. The man spoke in a new accent that Cully had not heard before.
"A troop came by, posting these all over every street corner," the man said. He showed Cully the simple sketch. He couldn't read the alphabet too well, but he could read numbers. Three hundred and forty two. He couldn't well make out the rest. Thankfully, the man supplied the rest.
"Who woulda believed we'd start the revolution with some tea?" the man was laughing in a hoarse way. "In the Harbor?" He dropped the pamphlet. Cully snatched it up and stuffed it into his trousers.
Where his father was, he had no idea and not even the slightest clue where to look. He was not near the harbor any longer. He sat down at a bench and rubbed at his eyes. He remembered the words of his father last night. "You go and get far away from here, no matter what happens, you hear?" No matter what happens. He promised himself he would find work, then rescue his father. If his father had been arrested, he would bail him out. The one thing he knew for certain was that his father was not dead. He simply couldn't be. Not after all it took for them to get here.
It took three years, fighting with the Minutemen and Washington's militia, but eventually, Cully reunited with his father again. Adoniram had been held as a prisoner of war. He was once strong and rugged, but now he was gangly and shaggy-headed. When they finally reunited, in a tight embrace, the first thing his father had said to him was, "You did good, son. You did good."
"I know dad," Cully answered. "I didn't fight for no reason. I fought only when I had to."
Adoniram squeezed his son's collarbone. They lived in the same home for nine more years in Boston until Adoniram died that winter of tuberculosis. He had died a grandfather of Cully's then two year old son, Graham. Cully never stopped telling his son or his wife stories of his father, who fought for their freedom.