Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Wig Bill

            William walked toward the ruckus now boiling along King Street. People were rushing about and yelling. He saw two men carrying away a third who was bleeding from his head. William had been at his brother’s home to discuss a new land deal just outside of Boston when the commotion started. Their meeting had gone on later into the evening than William had planned. People were rushing about in terror. William grabbed the arm of a passing boy.

            “What has happened”, asked William.
            “The British fired into the crowd over an unpaid wig bill”, yelled the boy. He wrestled his arm from William and ran off down the street.

            William looked back towards King Street and saw the torches burning in the evening. The crowds were swelling toward him and he was caught up in the rush of people running away from the custom house. Some of the men were shouting for immediate retaliation and seemed to carry William off with them.

            “I say, what has happened”, William demand.
            “The soldiers of the crown fired, unprovoked, into the crowd”, said a man on William’s left side.
            “Unprovoked? What’s this about a wig bill”, asked William.
            “Right, seems a Captain-Lieutenant Goldfinch didn’t pay his wig bill to Mr. Garrick’s master. The wig maker’s apprentice and another lad started giving the Captain a bit of trouble.  Well, seems a Private took exception to the insults being hurled by the apprentice and his mate so he walloped the lad on the head with the butt of his rifle”, said the man.

            The crowd moved toward the state building and there were calls for Governor Hutchinson to do something about this massacre. William was caught up in the frenzy and could only bear witness as the events spiraled around him. He over heard a woman in the crowd delivering further details about the incident.

            “A crowd gathered after the Private struck young Garrick, the wig maker’s apprentice, and started harassing the British soldiers outside the Custom house. It seems people started to throw things at the British. I guess this Private started to fear for himself so he sent for reinforcements and they took up a position around the Custom house. It seems the crowd didn’t disperse and then somebody threw something at another Private and he fired into the crowd. Then the rest of the British soldiers started shooting into the crowd. From what I know at least five were shot. That’s what I heard anyway”, said the woman.

            William could understand it now. The tensions that had been seething since 1768 were now reaching a critical point. He started to wonder about his recent land purchases and how they might be affected if there was revolution from the crown. It was a scary thought. He just wanted to make his way in the world for his family and wife.
            Governor Hutchinson appeared on the State House’s balcony and quieted the crowd and assured them that a full inquiry would be completed and urged the mob to return to their homes. The crowd began to begrudgingly move off and William was finally separated from the crowd around him. He feared that this was the beginning and his loyalties would be tested quite soon.

It was March 5, 1770 and William suddenly felt a desire for his wife and urgency for children of their own. He turned from the State building and started his walk toward the stables to fetch his horse and head back home. Along the way he stopped near the Customs House and saw blood, which looked black, on the cobblestone street. He knew there would be more and that it would come soon. 

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