The Jeremiah Daisy
Second Installment (jump to part 1 • part 3 • part 4)
by “Thomas Wentworth”
Originally published in Tangents 1.7
April 1966 • Pages 10–12
This month’s Jeremiah Daisy CHAIN LETTER originating in Boston predates the letter published in the previous issue of Tangents by over two years, revealing that these recently discovered papers of the American Revolution gay correspondents were no fly-by-night exchange of homophile news and ideas.
The first of several sets of initials at the bottom of the letters is JD (Jeremiah Daisy) also a resident of Boston. Initials on all the letters have been studied and researchers believe that there was a definite system of rotation followed by the various men living in the several colonies.
The Thomas Wentworth Letter
30 December 1773
Our CITY is mad with CONTENTION and from lowliest we are being forced to take SIDES. Faneuil Hall creaks under the weight of our patriots’ MEETINGS and even after dark the streets swarm with roving CITIZENS bent upon forcing issues in this WAR of the TEACUPS.
TURMOIL breeds SECRECY behind which harriers of STANDING fade away and curious ACQUAINTANCESHIPS are aborn. Thereby hangs my present CONFESSION:
As OUR NATURE knows the WOES of matrimonial custom and convention against which WE struggle,my present situation is at its NETHERMOST, yet in my GLOOM a burst of SUNLIGHT has pierced my WINTER skies.
Up to my twenty-first birthday September last, I was able to stave off my ENGAGEMENT to Miss Charlotte Dunmore, daughter of my father’s business partner, but now the DEED is done and our families are in a militant WHIRL of preparation for the wedding come SPRING.
But thanks to Governor Hutchinson and his devil’s CROWN, George III, EVENTS have favoured me with a new way to brew a dish of his accursed STUFF more to my liking. Though my hand remains engaged without my heart in this unsentimental family bargaining for a BALE of GOODS, my STRANGE desires have found a PASSIONATE refuge.
Two weeks ago this very night I spent the greater part of the evening darkening my face with rich brown STAIN from husks of walnuts in preparation for joining my company of ‘Mohawks’ under COMMAND of my future father-in-law, Joshua Dunmore. In truth, I must confess that I spent so much time assembling and arranging my Indian MASQUERADE that I arrived at Faneuil Hall AFTER the meeting had adjourned and we had been ordered to board the three tea ships which lay under the GUNS of the British men-of-war in the harbour.
I admit to a pang of APPREHENSION as I remember how the British insult us as a rascally MOBB charged with LIQUOR ready to do every act of VIOLENCE our mad BRAINS can invent. I swear this to be a LIE. In truth, however, I did secure under my blanket a flask of excellent port to bolster my SPIRITS against the BITTER winds of winter.
We made our way to the harbour being compelled to push through crowds of SPECTATORS waiting at the waterfront to WITNESS our BRAVERY. Once aboard there were war hoots and hollers causing some CONFUSION. My feather headpiece was knocked ASKEW by what I took to be a PREMEDITATED accident by a GIANT of a British sailor. Observing that the sailors were helping hoist the tea chests from the hold, break them open and heave them to the fishes, I took the opportunity to retire to the bow of the ship to rearrange my COSTUME.
Hiding behind a tarpaulin covered pile of merchandise, I tightened one of my moccasins, tried to straighten my feathers and pulled my blanket about my SHIVERING form. My head, somewhat topheavy, kept listing LEEWARD making it difficult to drink from my flask.
I was just getting my WITS about me when of a sudden another ‘red skin’ bounded upon me in the darkness dragging his blanket behind him.
He fell to his knees and yanked at my blanket pleading for PROTECTION from the LUST of British to Mr. Dunmore’s stable and asked sailors and the RAGE of my future father-in-law, Mr. Dunmore.
“Who are you?” I questioned somewhat HARSHLY. “Wipe that soot off your face.”
I could see tears streaming down his cheeks making a MESS of his COMPLEXION. His single turkey feather stuck at the back of the band of beads circling his curly black head pointed down instead of up. PITY entered my heart and I forced the remainder of the wine into his QUIVERING throat.
Setting him down beside me on a heap of sailcloth, I brushed at his face with my kerchief.
Suddenly I gasped, “I know you! Allen Dimple, Mr. Dunmore’s stable boy! What devil sent you here?”
My own throat began to QUIVER.
“Mr. Dunmore will beat me,” he whispered. “Please get me back on land.”
“I should think so,” I said, as I could. “You should he home in bed.”
A TREMOR shook my frame as my IMAGININGS put the boy to bed and TUCKED him snugly in. Thus OVERWROUGHT, I scrambled to my feet and turned my face into the biting wind. For over a year I had observed him from afar, this handsome ruddy lad of sixteen summers, and FOUGHT to DEADEN my CRAVINGS. Discreet questioning had revealed that he was INTELLIGENT and of good CHARACTER. This was the FIRST moment I had really been alone with him.
I made a move to FLEE, but my SWEET antagonist leapt to his feet, fairly CRACKED my ribs with his MUSCULAR arms and knocked my feathers into the wind.
“Oh, Mr. Wentworth, I love you,” he sobbed. “I’ve followed you all evening long. I have been mad about you since the first day you came to Mr. Dunmore’s stable and asked me to saddle Miss Dunmore’s sorrel mare.”
My back STIFFENED in an effort to RESIST.
“Don’t leave me, he pleaded, breaking another rib. “The whole world is mad and tonight I had to be as brave as you. And you alone were the one I had to face.”
COMPULSIVELY he pressed his smudgy lips to mine. Sounds of that OTHER rebellion taking place around us retreated under the POUNDING of my heart. I fairly SWOONED as we sank slowly to the cold, wet deck.
Dear FRIENDS, I have thus BARED myself that we may all take heart in knowing that there ARE brave ones among us who, even in INNOCENCE, dare stand to their TRUE selves.
Fourteen BLISSFUL days and nights have glided by, and I have wasted no time in arranging with my future father-in-law, Mr. Joshua Dunmore, Allen’s employer, for Master Allen Dimple to be an UNDISPUTED part of my future wife’s marriage DOWRY.
Your ECSTATIC companion,
©1966, 2016 by The Tangent Group.
All right reserved.