The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
May 6th 1769
Jane Clarke stood in the sedge growth on the lip of the dune and looked out over the half-drained bay, the ribbons of sand rising up through the retreating water. Her cousin's sloop, the Betsey, had slipped in ahead of the falling tide and lay canted sideways in the channel, keel nestled in the mud. Already, the ox carts rumbled over the sand loaded with barrels and crates full of salt, rum, molasses, and other more worldly goods— most of them legal — come to Satucket from Boston, but Jane wasn't there for goods. Jane was there for letters. Even at her distance Jane could identify the mail sack in the foremost ox-cart, but she stayed where she was, half-camouflaged by the sedge, because Joseph Woollen was the one driving it shoreward. Was it worth facing Woollen's unblinking fish-eyes just to get to the letters first?
Yes, she decided. She slid down the bluff and saw Woollen's head lift at the sight of her, saw him dive at the sack; by the time she'd reached the cart he had her letters sorted and ready. He thrust them at her with a formal, "Good-day, miss," as if he didn't know her name, as if at his cousin's wedding he hadn't pressed lips like cold chicken livers up and down her neck. Jane gave one nod to cover both greeting and goodbye, took the handful of letters, and hurried off toward the landing road as if she were in a great rush to get them to her father, which she should have been, of course, as most of them were his. She proceeded along the landing road onto the King's road at an even pace, but at the cartway that led from the road to her father's house she walked faster, keeping one eye on alert for family or servants. She should go straight home — her father's letters aside, the day's work sat waiting— but two of the letters were for Jane, and the minute she stepped inside the house she would lose all chance of reading them in peace. The plan was to take the path along the mill stream to her favorite rock above the mill pond, where she might, for a time, keep her news to herself.
Such was the plan, but as Jane rounded the bend she came up against a knot of men standing in front of Thacher's tavern, their voices hot and sharp, the words flying back and forth like training day musket shot.
"The devil! When?"
"Last night. Bangs Inn. Winslow paid a call after supper, tied his horse out front, left around ten and found the creature cut up."
"Bloody hell! Who did it?"
"Who did it! God's breath, man, who do you think? Name me another who'd carry an argument to a man's horse. Name me—" Whatever the speaker had in mind, it was cut short when he spied Jane. He snapped his jaw shut; the rest of the group turned, saw Jane, and likewise fell silent.
The talk had been bad enough, but the silence was worse. Jane might have pretended their silence had nothing to do with her, that the talk had cut short at her approach out of nothing but a gentleman's desire to shield a lady from an unpleasant subject, but the looks back and forth, the shifting feet, the sharp edge to the silence itself told her what she'd already guessed the minute the speaker had closed his mouth.
They blamed her father for the horse.
Rebellion of Jane Clarke - The Story Behind the Story
Rebellion of Jane Clarke - Reading Guide
Rebellion of Jane Clarke - Extras
Rebellion of Jane Clarke - Boston Massacre Facts