I know, I know, I shouldn't start a new fanfic before I finished another, but I couldn't help myself! This crazy 1776 fic was inspired by many Rutledge-related jokes between my best friend and I. Hope you like it (and whether you did or didn't, all reviews and critique are greatly appreciated)!
Early May, 1776
A bright yellow sun shone down on Edward Rutledge as he got out of his carriage. The combined scent of fruit and fish filled his lungs, but Edward didn't cringe. He was used to the odd scents of Philadelphia by now. He made sure there was no mud underneath the carriage; he didn't want to ruin his freshly-polished shoes. As he strutted up the stairs of Independence Hall, he couldn't help but smirk. He was thinking about what kind of antics there were going to be today in Congress—and how jealous all of his fellow Congressmen were going to be of him (as he was sure they always were) when they saw he had a new silk hair ribbon.
Edward strutted into the large meeting room inside Independence Hall only to find no one there except for Andrew McNair. The grumpy Congressional custodian was on his knees washing the floors, his eyes focused intently on his work. Edward raised an eyebrow, baffled.
"Excuse me…you…" Edward said, pointing at McNair. McNair put down his scrub brush and looked up at him with anticipating eyes, waiting for him to say something more. Edward pursed his lips and looked at the man with confusion. "Why isn't he saying anything?" Edward thought.
"McNair," the little man said, emphasizing it as if Edward couldn't spell. To Edward's surprise, the custodian seemed upset. "My name is Andrew McNair! I've been here as long as you have, and I took the time to learn your name, Mr. Rutledge!"
"How could you not want to take the time to learn my name?" Edward asked. He put his hands on his hips in offense. "Well then, Mr. McNair, where are all of the other delegates? They're usually all here by now, anticipating my appearance, most surely." McNair looked down so the southerner wouldn't see him roll his eyes.
"I got a late start with the cleaning today," McNair answered, grabbing his scrub brush. "I sent them all off and told them to come back at ten thirty."
"Mm-hrm…and what time is it now?" Edward asked.
"About nine forty," McNair answered, still not looking up. Edward pondered for a moment. He just had breakfast, so he didn't feel like going to a restaurant. It was too early for drinks, but maybe Joseph Hewes or someone else was in one of the taverns…
"Thank you sir," Edward said, already had forgotten McNair's name. McNair's reply was a loud scrape of the brush against the hardwood floor. Edward turned on his heels in a most suave manner, then strutted towards the door.
Once outside, Edward decided to go to City Tavern. There were always people in there.
"As long as I don't run into that unpleasant Mr. Adams or that smelly old Franklin," Edward thought to himself.
"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAAA!" A cry came from down the street as loud and as echoing as a cannonball shot. Edward knew exactly who it was. He looked down the road to see Richard Henry Lee making his way over on his trademark brown horse.
"Good mornin', Neddy!" Lee called out, his voice as cheery as always. Lee hopped off his horse and ran over to Edward, his mouth curved upward into a bright grin. "How are you doing today?!" Edward smiled. It was always nice to have someone worship him, especially a mid-southerner. He put on his usual charm.
"Mighty fine, Mr. Lee. I assume you feel the same?" Lee's nose suddenly scrunched up, and he brought his arm up behind his head.
"I have an itch on my back that I can't reach."
"Splendid," Edward droned, not really paying attention. "Well Mr. Lee, I must be off. Congress isn't gathering until ten thirty today."
"It's not?! Ooh…" Lee moaned in disappointment. "I had to tell Johnny Adams something, and I'm sure I'll forget it by ten thirty!"
"Tell me. I'll remember," Edward said. He had no desire to talk to Adams, but he wanted to appease Lee. The issue of independency was arising, after all, and Edward needed Virginia to take the side of the colonies below it. Lee's eyebrows lowered and he looked upward, lost in deep thought. He clicked his tongue against his teeth once.
"By golly, I've already forgot. Oh well!" Lee exclaimed happily, already over it. "Where are you headed, Neddy?!"
"City Tavern," Edward said, doing his best not to sigh. So much for walking there peacefully. Lee grinned widely, as though Edward had just said he was going to give him a million dollars.
"Stephen Hopkins is always there! I've been meaning to talk to him!" Lee put his arm around Edward's neck. "Let's go, Neddy! Sing with me! You see it's here a Lee, there a Lee…" Edward sighed and reluctantly pranced with Lee to City Tavern, worrying about scuffing his shoes the whole way. Neither he nor Lee suspected they were being followed.
Meanwhile, a group of three friends was already sitting in the City Tavern. Two members of the group were dying to have their ears chopped off.
"He's an imbecile! A true imbecile!" John Adams shouted, so loudly that people looked at him from their seats.
"Calm yourself, John," Benjamin Franklin ordered politely. "People are staring at you."
"Good! Let them stare! I want them to know all about John Dickinson, and how he cares about his precious land and prosperity over his rights as a human being!" John slapped the table on his last word, his face turning bright red. Thomas Jefferson, who was sitting on John's left, just stared into his glass of red wine and said nothing.
"It's kind of funny, actually," Ben observed. "You say you hate Dickinson, yet without him there would be nobody for you to scream about. I think you'd lose your mind." Ben let out a small chuckle. John looked at him through half-closed eyes.
"Oh yes Franklin, this is really cute. The man has everyone in that Congress against us, but you just keep on laughing. You won't get to laugh when the British come to hang us."
"They won't hang me!" Ben said assuredly. He held up a finger expressively. "I'm popular!" Tom looked up at Ben from his wine.
"But you're on their opposing side," Tom said. Ben looked at him, and for a moment there was a pause. Ben suddenly raised his finger again.
"But I'm popular!"
"Then have fun laughing when they bring me to the gallows," John said, grabbing his cup of hot cider.
"That would be a scene of hilarity for many indeed," said a syrupy, southern-accented voice that John knew all too well. John shuddered, turned around in his seat, and looked up at the smiling South Carolinian standing above him.
"What are you doing here, Rutledge? Don't you make life miserable enough for everyone without having to become a stalker?" John asked. Edward's lips twitched downward at the corners of his mouth.
"I've only come here to see if there was anyone of worth to talk to," Edward said. "Apparently, there is no one. Except for Mr. Jefferson; he's only a mid-southerner, but he'll do."
"What?" Tom asked, coming out of one of his frequent dazes. John looked at Edward with eyes that could've sent Beowulf running away in fright.
"No one of worth, hunh? That coming from someone who goes almost everywhere alone," John sneered. Edward smirked.
"Oh, I didn't come here alone today…" Edward said in a singsong voice. Lee ran up from behind him, as if on cue.
"You know Neddy, I've seen some disgusting necessaries, but that one is the worst!" Lee suddenly looked at John and gasped. "Johnny! What have you been up to since yesterday?! Hey, is that an empty seat next to you?!"
"Oh dear God," John muttered aloud. Edward gave John a haughty, "have fun" kind of look before waltzing over to an empty table and taking a seat. A tavern wench came by. Even though it was early, Edward ordered a bourbon before complimenting the lady on her hair and making her blush. When she brought his drink back, Edward watched John sit in agony through one of Lee's discussions and smirked. Could his life get any better?
"Excuse me, Mr. Edward Rutledge?" Edward looked up to see a sandy-haired man in a fancy, dark blue frock coat standing over his table. The man held a notebook and a few other papers under his arm.
"You're looking for perfection, I assume?" Edward asked casually.
"Yes indeed," the man said with a smile. Immediately Edward was intrigued.
"Please sit down," Edward said welcomingly. The man did.
"Well sir," the man said cheerfully, putting down his notebook and papers in front of him. "My name is Jacob Ives."
"Ives…are you French?" Edward asked, rolling his glass around with his fingers.
"A descendent of French immigrants, yes." Jacob spoke proudly, displaying his self-confidence. "I've lived here in Philadelphia my entire life. I've always been a merchant. I'm one for finding new things to make a profit out of. I never stick to one thing to sell and trade; I have to switch, or I get bored with the business."
"Understandable, but what does that have to do with me?" Edward asked.
"Well Mr. Rutledge, as you may know, women have been making their clothes out of their own fabric recently to avoid buying from British traders. One day, I had an epiphany. I thought: wouldn't it be great if there was a line of strictly colonial-made clothing, for both men and women? What if we hired people to make the clothes in different sizes out of fabric for other people just to buy? Since money is so tight nowadays too, we could make the clothes inexpensive and sell lots."
"I like your way of thinking, sir," Edward said. He was always supportive of making money, though he was secretly jealous that he hadn't thought up such an idea first.
"There's a catch though, Mr. Rutledge. In order to do this, I would need someone to design the clothes. I am terrible at that, and my wife is pregnant and doesn't feel like doing so. I searched around Philadelphia for someone who looked like they had some fashion knowledge. That was when I stumbled upon you."
"Well, naturally," Edward said with a smile. The southern dandy charm he expressed really did pay off. "Take that, Mr. Adams!"
"What I'm trying to say is that I want you to design the outfits, Mr. Rutledge. Not only that, but they will be sold under your name!" Jacob exclaimed. Edward looked at Jacob in shock.
"Absolutely! It's only right," Jacob assured. "All I will be in charge of is opening up stores and marketing the clothes throughout the colonies. You'll just think up some designs and I know people who can get them put together. It's that easy!"
Edward couldn't believe his luck. He was always telling other people that they should dress better. Now he could actually show them how much his fashion sense was superior to theirs!
"Mr. Ives, you've made me the happiest gentleman in this city," Edward said with a grin. "I can assure you that you will not be disappointed."
"I know that I won't be," Jacob said. He pushed the papers and the notebook over to Edward. "Those papers on top there will just affirm you as the owner of your designs and clothing line. You can just sign those papers and bring them back to me here at one o' clock tomorrow. Does Congress take a break around that time?"
"Usually, yes," Edward said. He pointed to the notebook. "What's this for?" Jacob smiled.
"That's a design notebook for you, of course! You keep your clothing ideas in there. You can even come up with a few ideas tonight and bring them to me tomorrow, if you'd like."
"I would like…I would like very much…" Edward said, his eyes gleaming. He was already coming up with some ideas.
"Excellent Mr. Rutledge, excellent!" Jacob exclaimed happily. He stood up. "I must be on my way—there are people to contact and things to get started for the business. I'll see you right here tomorrow, then?"
"Absolutely. Good day to you, sir," Edward said ever-so-politely.
"You too, Mr. Rutledge," Jacob said. Then he turned around and walked away. Edward leaned back in his chair, a million thoughts going through his mind at once. His cheeks hurt from smiling so much, yet he couldn't stop himself. Suddenly, Edward made a quick decision.
"I'll skip Congress for today, go back to where I'm staying, and think up some designs!"
After paying for his drink, Edward got up and walked away from his table. He was feeling so lighthearted that it was as though he was walking on air. In fact, he was so happy, that he voluntarily stopped to talk to John Adams and his cronies.
"Excuse me ya'll, but will you tell Mr. Hancock that I won't be at Congress today?" Edward asked. It was then he noticed that Stephen Hopkins had joined their table.
"You won't?! Awww, we'll sure miss you, Neddy!" Lee said.
"Yes, most certainly," John lied, the large grin spreading across his face giving him away.
"Where are you off to, Neddy?" Stephen Hopkins asked.
"You'll find out soon enough," Edward said with a smirk. "Goodbye, ya'll." As soon as he walked out of the tavern, John nearly cried tears of joy.
"Who cares where he's off to, as long as he's gone!" John exclaimed. "Drinks are on me for today, gentlemen!"
"In that case, I'll have two more rums!" Stephen called out.
Edward heard their loud cheers as he exited the tavern, but he didn't care. This had been the greatest day of his life, and he wasn't going to let anyone make him feel anything but unbelievably confident. After all, nothing had ever stopped him from feeling that way before.
End of Chapter 1