John Winslow was huffing and puffing as he made his way through the narrow streets and up the hill and then up the steep circular staircase past the floor of traders in the Province House in Boston. After almost two years back in civilization he was anxious to again get away from his plump but shrewish wife and leave it all behind.
He had managed to avoid the exotic diseases of the Caribbean when he had been there and had ignored the savage women in Nova Scotia when he had been posted in that primitive place. But the risks he had faced in Annapolis Royal were much less frightening and more pleasant than being again stuck here in the Colony. Between the boredom of trying to achieve legislative victories and finding ways of hiding from the eternal demands of his wife it was unbearable.
Even his time in the northern part of the province, near the border of the wild country where the Mass Colony met Nova Scotia, even all the clouds of mosquitoes and teeming black flies, were preferred to being here among the slovenly whores, the bickering burghers and beggars of Boston.
He finally made it to the Governor’s floor, totally out of breath, and took a moment to compose himself. Governor Shirley’s attaché, seated at a desk and sorting papers, nodded to Winslow and toward a richly brocaded settee. Winslow nodded back and took advantage of the invitation for a respite. The aide brought over a pitcher of water and a glass on a tray and placed it on the side table.
Winslow took a healthy draught and was pleasantly surprised that it was well flavoured of gin.
“Welcome back, Major General, I hope the your trek up our mountain has not depleted you totally of energy.”
“No, thank you,” he raised his glass in salute, “this has made up for my travails, Ensign. Will the Governor be soon available?”
“Very shortly, Sir. Finish your glass of water. Have another if you wish. His agenda is reserved for you.”
“You are very kind, Ensign.”
Winslow finished his glass, set it on the tray and stood.
“I’ll arouse the Governor, one moment, Major General.” The aide opened the door, entered and closed it behind him.
Winslow straightened out his clothes and brushed back his hair and waited for only a moment before the ensign returned. “Major General, the Governor is ready to see you.”
Governor Shirley was standing and came forward when Winslow entered his private office.
“John, tired of all the peace are ye? Come in, come in.”
“Please, have a seat.”
“Will you have a cognac?”
“Of course, William. I looked over the bay before I came inside and the sun is over the yardarm, I noticed.”
The Governor poured a healthy portion and refilled his own crystal snifter and passed one to Winslow. He sat in a chair adjoining Winslow’s indicating the expected informality of their meeting.
“How can I serve you today, John.”
Winslow sipped. “Well, William, your know Mary is getting less comely as she ages and the boys are requesting less of my time as they conduct their schooling. And, Governor, I’m bored.”
“Ready to get back into the fray, are ye, John?”
“I wish to get out of this fray, William.”
“Consider it done. What do you have in mind.”
“Where the action is expected to be the most interesting, I expect.”
“Well we have something. Back in your old haunts.”
“No. Nova Scotia!”
“I needn’t tell you why, but we’ve decided to clear the place of the French. Not only have they established themselves, in a manner, in the northerly part of our northern colony, but they seem to be spreading out. Led, of course, by their bastard of a priest. They’re close to finishing construction of one of their cathedrals, and are breeding like mice in a barn. We wish to end their encroachment and we need a good man to do it. Interested?”
“I’d swear off gin to do it, William.”
“Well, we won’t ask you to do that. Put together a plan and bring it to me and I’ll see that it’s done.” The Governor offered a toast and they clinked glasses and finished their brandies.