Two crowns for america, p.1
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       Two Crowns for America, p.1

           Katherine Kurtz
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Two Crowns for America


  WASHINGTON’S DREAM

  He was standing in the doorway of a candlelit room, the apron of a Freemason girt about his waist. But it was no Lodge where he had ever sat. Far at the other end of the room, a black-clad man presided as Master, somehow both known and unknown.

  There was more, all in a tangled and blurred rush of images, admonitions, instructions: a flagon of oil from which someone anointed his forehead; a wreath of laurel leaves laid upon his brow by a white-clad woman who should not have been in a Lodge of Freemasonry but somehow belonged in this one; his sword—and another sword—and something done between the two of them, so that by the time his own was laid back in his hands, he knew that it was somehow-changed.

  But even as he found himself able to breathe again, and the world stopped reeling, memory of the dream began slipping away, so that by the time he could speak, he was not sure of any of it at all—except that, against all logic, one hand was clenched quite determinedly around the hilt of his sword.…

  “KURTZ … RIGHTLY EMPHASIZES THE …

  HUMAN CHARACTERS, LIKABLE AND

  THREE-DIMENSIONAL IN THEIR POLITICAL

  AND PERSONAL STRUGGLES.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  This edition contains the complete text

  of the original hardcover edition.

  NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED.

  TWO CROWNS FOR AMERICA

  A Bantam Spectra Book

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Bantam hardcover edition published February 1996

  Bantam paperback edition/June 1997

  SPECTRA and the portrayal of a boxed “s” are trademarks of Bantam

  Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 1996 by Katherine Kurtz.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-32372.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

  For information address: Bantam Books.

  eISBN: 978-0-307-81354-1

  Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

  Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.

  v3.1

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Epilogue

  Historical Afterword

  Partial Bibliography

  Dedication

  About the Author

  Prologue

  In the midnight fastness of a secluded estate in northern Germany, a solitary man sat before a blackened mirror and, by the light of a single candle, watched incense smoke roil across the surface of the polished glass. He had made his preparations, drunk the elixir that gave him the far vision; now he quested outward with mind and spirit, seeking the man whom destiny called to wear a victor’s laurel, and perhaps a crown.

  It was March of 1775, and Europe was in growing turmoil; but the man the Master sought had never set foot in the Master’s world. Born some forty-three years before, in a land named for a virgin queen, the man had spent his life to date in preparation for a very special destiny, little though he knew it.

  But the Master knew. The name of the man whose image even now was forming in the blackened mirror would soon be on the lips of thousands, both in blessing and in curse. The Master’s gaze sharpened as the scene began to unfold before his dark eyes, and he leaned a little closer, setting elegant, beringed hands lightly on either side of the mirror to steady it. Two men now could be seen, one of them personally known to the Master and presently in disfavor; but it was the other on whom the Master fixed his full concentration.

  Slowly the image steadied—of a tall, commanding figure in a black tricorn and a full-cut black cloak with shoulder capelets, striding across a muddy yard toward a brown-clad, slightly younger man holding a pair of horses. Behind him could be seen several other cloaked men, of whom he had just taken his leave. A black ribbon tied back unpowdered reddish hair from a noble face.

  Well-muddied boots with spurs showed below fawn-colored breeches as he set one toe in the stirrup the other man held and swung up easily on a tall, rangy gray. The gloved hands that gathered up the reins were big, almost a little awkward, the thighs gripping the gray’s sides thick and powerful. A silver-hilted smallsword hung at his left side, just visible beneath the cloak he settled over the horse’s rump.

  “Where next, Colonel?” the other man asked, mounting up on a sturdy bay. “Back to Mount Vernon, or do you wish to press on to Alexandria?”

  “Mount Vernon, Doctor,” the colonel replied. “The weather appears to be worsening. I intended to drill Captain Westcott’s militia, but we’ll make a fresh start in the morning.”

  The horses picked their way daintily across the muddy yard and moved out smartly as they gained the road, heading east at a ground-eating trot. Dirty snow still edged the road to either side, hard-crusted where it had thawed and refrozen repeatedly in the past week, and ice still rimmed some of the puddles pocking the road itself. The men jammed hats more closely over foreheads and hunched deeper into cloaks as they rode, for the wind was sharp, and growing colder.

  As soon as a long, straight stretch presented itself, the pair exchanged confirming glances and set spurs to their mounts, anxious to reach shelter before the rain began. The horses were fresh and eager, their easy canter soon shifting to a flatter gallop—until suddenly the big gray stumbled.

  So quickly was destiny set in train. Though the gray’s rider tried valiantly to collect his mount, he knew from the first misstep that all his skill could not prevent the fall that was coming for them both. As if time had slowed, he felt himself catapulted from the saddle, tumbling over the animal’s shoulder, past flailing hooves, to land hard, flat on his back.

  For a few breathless heartbeats, everything went utterly black. Then, through a haze of urgency that began slowly to draw him back to painful consciousness, he became aware of the dream that would haunt him for years to come.

  He was standing in the doorway of a candlelit room, the apron of a Freemason girt about his waist. The place was none that he had ever seen before, but by its furnishings he could entertain no doubt that it was, indeed, intended as a Lodge of Freemasonry.

  But it was no Lodge where he had ever sat. Far at the other end of the room, a black-clad man presided as Master, somehow both known and unknown; and though some of the other brethren in the room seemed vaguely familiar, the colonel could not quite seem to pin identit
ies on any of them.

  A Bible lay open on a small table before the Master’s chair, as must always be present in any proper Lodge, with a square and compasses set atop it; but it was another, smaller Bible before which the colonel found himself kneeling, to lay both hands upon it in reverence. The binding was distinctive, with corners and clasps fashioned of silver gilt. The words of the obligation he swore were wholly acceptable, yet somehow beyond his present comprehension, as his stunned mind reeled from the force of his fall and a part of his body began insisting that he really ought to breathe.

  There was more, all in a tangled and blurred rush of images, admonitions, instructions: a flagon of oil from which someone anointed his forehead; a wreath of laurel leaves laid upon his brow by a white-clad woman who should not have been in a Lodge of Freemasonry but somehow belonged in this one; his sword—and another sword—and something done between the two of them, so that by the time his own was laid back in his hands, he knew that it was somehow—changed.

  Then he was fighting his way back to consciousness in earnest, gulping raggedly for breath and struggling to sit up as strong arms supported him behind the shoulders and a faraway voice called his name and counseled slow, deep breaths.

  “Easy, Colonel. It’s Ramsay. You’ll be fine when you’ve caught your breath. You’ve had a nasty fall.”

  The face he saw, as he managed to open his eyes, belonged to the voice. It was long familiar, and he almost thought it had been in the dream.

  But even as he found himself able to breathe again, and the world stopped reeling, memory of the dream began slipping away, so that by the time he could speak, he was not sure of any of it at all—except that, against all logic, one hand was clenched quite determinedly around the hilt of his sword.…

  Smiling, the Master sat back from his mirror, watching the man named Ramsay help the other one to his feet. When they had remounted and were on their way again, he let the images fade from the mirror, drew two sheets of paper before him, and began simultaneously to write upon each.

  Dear Dr. Ramsay, the first one began. And the second: My dear Chevalier …

  Chapter One

  An American rebellion was coming. That fact was as certain as Andrew Wallace’s presence in Philadelphia’s statehouse, sitting as an observer in the gallery and waiting for the Second Continental Congress to commission a Commander in Chief. It was the fourth such rebellion against Hanoverian presumption in which Andrew had been involved, and he thought it the one most likely to succeed, if only for having its roots embedded in process of law rather than military reaction.

  He had been a lad of ten the first time, in 1715, when supporters of James Stuart, the de jure King James III of England and VIII of Scotland, raised the royal standard at Braemar, attempting to restore him to the throne lately occupied by his usurping half sister, Queen Anne. The Elector of Hanover was but recently come to the united Crown of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and still uncertain on his throne; but his armies were certain enough to repulse a would-be Stuart restoration. In that ill-fated conflict, Andrew had been a drummer boy, his father a piper to the Earl of Mar. An uncle had fallen at Sheriffmuir, and Andrew and his father only barely escaped with their lives.

  A lesser renewal of the attempt in 1719 was no more successful. Andrew had taken a musket ball in the leg this time, running dispatches for the brother of the Earl Marischal at Glenshiel. He had been lucky at that, for his father was killed. King James, who had spent less than six weeks in Scotland during the Fifteen, did not even manage to set foot on Scottish soil four years later. Afterward, when the dust had settled, a cautious but still idealistic Andrew Wallace had read law at the University of Edinburgh, adopting protective coloration to survive in a political climate increasingly unacceptable to those whose loyalties remained with Scotland’s rightful royal House.

  Then had come the Forty-Five, with all its rekindled hopes of a Stuart restoration at last. After thirty years in exile, the hopeful young king of 1715 and 1719 was no longer young or even very hopeful, so his claim was advanced by his eldest son, the dashing Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known thereafter in romantic legend as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

  That rebellion had cost Andrew two brothers and an eye and had eventually seen him transported to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with hundreds of others—and very fortunate to have escaped execution. The venture certainly had ended any further career in the law, for a man found guilty of rebellion against his “lawful” king and transported into exile could hardly expect to continue serving the laws of that king.

  Nonetheless, the Forty-Five had occasioned an enduring personal acquaintance with the prince for whose line the Wallace family had sacrificed so much. Andrew had met the prince when the royal standard was raised at Glenfinnan and remained with him until Culloden, becoming one of his principal agents in the American colonies in the years to come.

  He remained a key leader of the Jacobite underground in the New World—whose colonies now stood on the brink of rebellion against the same Hanoverian line that had usurped the Stuart crown more than half a century before. Many of that underground saw the coming American storm as a possible vehicle for a Stuart restoration in the New World—or at very least, a diversion of British attention and vital resources from the Old, so that a renewed attempt might be launched again in Scotland. A faction calling themselves the Bostonians were eager to entice Charles Edward Stuart to come in person to America and become the focal point for such a venture. One of those Bostonians, Dr. James Ramsay, was seated across the room beside one of the Massachusetts delegates.

  But what Ramsay desired had little to do with what was unfolding here today in Philadelphia’s statehouse. Forces far larger than James Ramsay were tinkering with Stuart destiny—and with the destiny of the American colonies. Andrew was an agent of those forces, as well as of Charles Edward Stuart, and believed those forces to be utterly benign; but he was not yet privy to as much of the total picture as he would have liked.

  Sighing, he cast his one-eyed gaze over the assembly, only half listening as President Hancock fielded a question concerning funds that must be raised to provision the newly adopted Continental Army, formed from the Massachusetts provincial militia units now surrounding British-occupied Boston. Financing was always of critical importance in any war effort, but it was not at all what most of the men there today had come to hear about. Curbing his impatience, Andrew braced himself against his silver-headed walking stick and shifted position, stretching his left leg under the bench ahead of him to ease a stiff muscle.

  In truth, his physical condition was commendable for a man of seventy. He certainly did not look his age. His old wound from the Nineteen still gave him twinges if he sat too long or walked too far, but the use of a walking stick could be as much a fashion affectation as a necessity for mobility. Andrew’s stick fulfilled both functions, and several others as well, for it concealed a sword blade in its length; and the heavy silver head concealed other things, as did Andrew himself.

  Not that anything in his appearance suggested concealment—rather, tasteful prosperity. As was his usual wont on important occasions, he was turned out in a mole-gray coat and waistcoat of discriminating cut, with white breeches and stockings, silver buckles on his shoes, immaculate white linen at his throat, and a black velvet patch over his bad eye. Unlike most of the gentlemen sitting in the statehouse chamber, he had no need to powder his hair, for age had done that long ago—though happily sparing the hair itself, which was caught neatly at the nape of his neck with a ribbon of black moire silk.

  In other places he might also have worn the dark-green riband of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland’s highest order of chivalry, which his prince had bestowed upon him privately, years before, as a mark of his gratitude. Instead, as was his usual wont, he contented himself today with a twist of green silk ribbon in one buttonhole and a white cockade on his hat, which to most folk simply betokened an old man’s romantic adherence to a long-lost cause. His Jacobite
colleagues still referred to him as the Chevalier Wallace, in courteous recognition that he had personally served the prince during the Forty-Five, but only a few of them knew how fully he continued that service to this day.

  But just now, the birth of the new rebellion was of far more immediate import than any long-ago accolade of a Stuart prince. What the gentlemen gathered here in Philadelphia’s statehouse did not yet know was that the time for action suddenly had approached much nearer than they had thought—and Andrew dared not be the one to tell them of it.

  He himself had been told in a dream, three nights before, by a beloved friend he knew he would never see again in this life. He had been dozing in front of the fire in his room at a nearby inn, digesting an indifferent meal, when suddenly the sounds around him had receded, an eerie silence pervading the room like fog wrapping itself around a sleeping town.

  All at once a figure had materialized beside the fireplace, leaning one elbow on the mantel and gazing down at him a little sadly. The eyes were bright and very blue, but the handsome, aristocratic face looked ashen, the tie wig a little disheveled—not the usual fastidious appearance of the man of Andrew’s acquaintance.

  But his identity was unmistakable. Andrew had dined with the man before leaving Cambridge for Philadelphia. He knew the white-fringed waistcoat laced with silver, the light-blue coat with sprigged buttons, the ruffled shirt, the white satin breeches with silver loops—festive attire bought for a wedding that now would never take place. It was Joseph Warren who stood before him: physician and poet, beloved patriot leader, President of the Provincial Congress and the Boston Committee of Safety, and Grand Master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

  For a moment their eyes met. Andrew’s tongue seemed to cleave to the roof of his mouth. But then Warren very slowly and deliberately made him the recognition sign of a Master Mason.

  “Grand Master?” Andrew had murmured almost disbelievingly, struggling stiffly to rise, but then subsiding at Warren’s gesture. “Grand Master, is it truly you?”