Just a quick note: there are two quotes in here by Benjamin Franklin which completely belong to him. They are his and not mine; I am not plagiarizing him. Ben gets full credit for his words. Now that copywrite business is out of the way, I hope you enjoy chapter 3, and sorry it took me so long to get these up!
Molasses to Rum to Lace: Chapter 3
When Edward returned to Congress the next day, he made an announcement that he was going to make his own clothing line. The response from a few Congressmen was complete and utter bafflement. The response from the rest of the Congressmen was a bunch of unified outright laughter.
"Whose bright idea was this?!" Stephen Hopkins asked aloud, slapping his hand on his knee as he laughed.
"Since when does a Congressman become a fashion expert?" John Dickinson of Pennsylvania asked his lackey James Wilson in puzzlement. Wilson was about to reply, but Dickinson cut him off (as usual). "Who would ask Rutledge to do such a thing, anyway?"
John Adams just rolled his eyes and groaned. He rested his head on the palm of his hand, not believing Rutledge's ridiculousness. The only two people not shocked or laughing were Richard Henry Lee (who was genuinely happy for Rutledge) and Thomas Jefferson (who was too busy staring into space and singing Bach to himself to notice anything else).
"Gentlemen, calm down!" John Hancock yelled, banging his gavel. The many laughs and sighs of distress throughout the room ceased. "Now, Mr. Rutledge will be in my personal office for the rest of the day. He needs ideas for his new clothing line and is open to suggestions. Anyone who wishes to go in and give ideas may." Hancock normally hated renting out his personal space to anyone, but if it meant Rutledge was out of Congress for another day, he'd make an exception.
"Oh oh, pick me Neddy! Pick me!" Lee exclaimed, raising his hand and wriggling his fingers. Edward told Lee to follow him to Hancock's office. Once they both got in, Edward sat in Hancock's chair behind a large cedar desk. Lee sat in a smaller chair, smiling as always. Edward could've sworn Lee bounced slightly in his seat with excitement.
"Now Mr. Lee," Edward began, picking up a quill. "In order to get some ideas for my designs, I need to find out what kind of clothes can make people feel very confident all the time. What style makes you feel confident?"
"Anything with bright colors that accentuates the shoulders!" Lee exclaimed excitedly. He suddenly struck a pose as though he was posing for a portrait, putting on his best serious face. "It makes me feel stately!" He then leaned in closer to Edward, his eyebrows rising upward. "And the bright colors catch the attention of the ladies!"
"In a bad way," Edward thought sardonically, completely unaware of how many times people looked at him in an odd way. He quickly scribbled what Lee said down. "Anything else?"
"Tricorner hats, and lots of them!" Lee exclaimed. Edward nodded and wrote.
"Thank you, Mr. Lee. Could you send someone else in when you leave if no one's waiting?" Edward asked. Lee nodded enthusiastically, got up, and hummed to himself as he left.
The person he sent in next was James Wilson.
"What style makes you confident, Judge Wilson?" Edward asked. James looked quite hunched over and uncomfortable.
"Well, I…um…um…" James sighed and looked down at his hands, seeming as though he had just had an accident in his pants. He twiddled his thumbs for five whole minutes. "I-I don't know…"
"I've asked the wrong person, haven't I?" Edward asked with a sigh. James nodded quickly, his face displaying his anxiety. "Very well, then. Send in someone else."
James sent in John Dickinson.
"I'm so happy to see you come in to help me, Mr. Dickinson," Edward said pleasantly. Dickinson sat upright in his chair, his hands on his lap and his walking stick resting on the arm of his chair.
"Well, I was overjoyed to hear of your good fortune, sir," Dickinson said in a sugary-sweet voice. What Dickinson said was not what he meant. Really, he was fuming. How dare that southern dandy come upon a good business deal before he did? Why would anyone in their right mind choose a man of such flamboyant fashion sense to design a clothing line? But, Dickinson was well aware of the approaching issue of independency, and how Rutledge was most likely to vote it down. He couldn't insult a man who would most likely be his ally. So Dickinson gathered up all of the self-composure he had (a task he was quite good at doing), held his tongue, and accepted the horrendous insult on his dignity.
"I'll let you know, sir, that you being a man of position and influence makes me admire you above anyone else in this Congress…except for me, of course," Edward said.
"Of course," Dickinson repeated, almost through gritted teeth. He attempted to smile extremely amiably to make Rutledge think he was being genuine. Since Dickinson never smiled unless he was insulting John Adams, this attempt looked like a normal smile.
"Well then Mr. Dickinson, on to business. What kind of style makes you confident?" Rutledge asked.
"My forest green frock coat and pants," Dickinson said right off the bat. "I almost wear nothing else."
"Like we all haven't noticed your lack of style," Edward thought sarcastically.
"Looks better than your dreadful rose prints any day," Dickinson thought bitterly. Both men smiled at each other to conceal their inner thoughts. "What makes you so confident, Mr. Rutledge?" Dickinson asked, pretending to be into their conversation. Edward grinned, as if he had been waiting his whole life for someone to ask him the question.
"Well Mr. Dickinson, to us in Southern Carolina, we loves ours lace, ours roses, and ours fine prints," Edward said, dragging out the word "fine." Dickinson nodded as well, silently racking his brain even more as to why Rutledge got the fashion job. "Solid colors, then?" Edward asked.
"Solid colors that display ultimate prosperity," Dickinson stated. Edward nodded and made a note. Then he let Dickinson go, much to Dickinson's delight.
Benjamin Franklin was up next.
"Well you know me, Mr. Rutledge," Ben explained. "I'd be confident even if I wore nothing at all! However, if you could make clothes that are both attractive and are easy to take off in a quick amount of time, it would be quite nice indeed." He said this with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye. Edward laughed slightly.
"I'll make a sultry line just for you and your ladies, Doctor."
"Oh, lovely!" Ben replied, patting his round stomach in excitement. Ben was followed by Samuel Chase, who said he didn't care what kind of clothes there were as long as the frock coats could stretch and the breeches had a flexible waistline. After him came Thomas Jefferson.
"What about you, Mr. Jefferson? What makes you confident?" Edward asked. Tom shifted in his chair and looked up at Edward, seeming aware of his surroundings for once.
"Anything French," Tom answered plainly, practically mumbling. Edward raised an eyebrow.
"I thought you'd favor a classic Virginian style…"
"No. French." Tom's eyebrows lowered. Edward shrugged his shoulders.
"Alright," he said as he jotted down a note.
Lyman Hall came next.
"What makes me confident? Um…" Lyman paused for a second, thinking. "I don't really know. I wear pretty much anything." Edward sighed.
"Well, what makes you happy then?"
"You mean clothing-wise, or…"
"No, I mean food-wise," Edward said sarcastically. Since Lyman was nice and didn't understand sarcasm very well, he figured Edward was serious.
"Peaches, then. I love peaches." Edward nearly felt like hitting himself. Then, suddenly, he got an idea.
"Okay Dr. Hall, thank you," Edward said, writing down what Lyman said. When Lyman went back to the meeting room, Ben saw him and turned to John Adams.
"John, you should go. I'm sure you have some ideas," Ben encouraged. John looked at him, stupefied.
"Why in God's name would I do that, Franklin?" John's face scrunched up into its normal frowning look. "It's all so foolish." Ben smiled a cheerful smile.
"I thought it was fun," he said. "Different from the usual stuffy Congressional discussions, it was." John rolled his eyes.
"Why would I help Rutledge with anything? The man is the most self-centered peacock I've ever met, not to mention someone who despises me."
"Be better than him, John," Ben said. "Reach out and be a friend, for a brother may not always be a friend, but a friend will always be a brother." John sighed.
"As much as I'd love to listen to you babble quotes out your mouth all day, Franklin, I must focus on my work." He lifted a quill pen out of its ink stand and wrote on a piece of paper to prove his point. Across the room, John Dickinson cackled maniacally.
"Mr. Adams simply knows he has no ideas. All he ever wears is that dreadful rust-colored frock coat!" A few of Dickinson's cronies snickered in agreement. John looked up in utter disgust, his mouth hanging open. He tossed his quill pen down on his desk.
"Ah, what was that, Mr. Dickinson?"
"You heard me loud and clear," Dickinson said with a smirk. He waved his walking stick back and forth casually. "As with everything else, you are a coward when it comes to fashion sense." John immediately stood up, knocking over his chair. He ran over to Dickinson with fury blazing in his eyes. The entire Congress sighed, knowing what was about to happen.
"I'm the coward?! You refuse to confront the British, even when they are harming your own fellow colonists! Not only am I not a coward, but you sir…" John angrily lifted a finger and pointed in Dickinson's face. "You are an IMBESILE!" Dickinson just chortled.
"You're not a coward? Then prove it." Dickinson raised a hand and directed towards the door of the meeting room. "Go into that office and give Rutledge a few ideas, if you're so brave." John sighed heavily once again and dramatically threw his hands up in the air.
"Has the world gone mad?! Since when was the Continental Congress an institution centered around cheap clothing?!" He turned on his heels and began to walk back to his seat, still looking at his nemesis over his shoulder. "Furthermore, I do not have to prove myself to you, Mr. Dickinson!" Dickinson smiled again.
"Alright, sir…but when the vote for independency arrives, I just wonder what your legacy will be. Will anyone believe you and your side after they saw how you could not even help one of your fellow Congressmen? What kind of noble man with a heart for good things like liberty and love refuses to assist someone else?"
Silence fell upon Independence Hall for the first time in history. John froze, his stomach dropping as though a weight was attached to it. As much as he hated to admit it, Dickinson's words struck a chord with him. If this were a matter of people liking him for popularity, then John would have just ignored Dickinson's comments. John knew he wasn't the most popular person in the Congress, and that wasn't going to change. However, this was for the cause. John's reputation had to be clean if he was going to continue representing the side of liberty. It was a necessity.
"He's got yah there, John," Colonel Thomas McKean said in his heavy Scottish accent. More silence ensued as the room awaited John's answer. John looked at all of them and frowned. Then he sharply turned around and marched towards the door. Dickinson and his friends burst out into gales of laughter as he did so.
"This is absurd," John muttered as he reached for the doorknob. Ben leaned forward and raised his finger practically.
"Try not to complain, John. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do."
"Oh, SHUT UP!" John yelled. He walked out the door and slammed it behind him, Dickinson's humiliating laughter still echoing in his ears.