Amazing Kids! Magazine

Bad Blood

By Jackson Hill, age 11, California


Red peppers or green? Samuel Holmes, age 10, had been apprenticed to his father, a journalist, for the Boston Gazette, Boston’s most popular newspaper. While the rest of his friends played stick ball, Samuel accompanied his father to investigate possible stories for the Gazette. Samuel was short for his age, with high cheekbones and a pointed nose, which he had inherited from his mother. By 1770, the British king and Parliament had passed oppressive laws to control the colonists and had burdened them by unfair taxes. After many months of hearing his father complain about the British soldiers, Samuel aspired to help his father and the Patriots. He had an adventurous spirit and was always looking for the next story.

“Samuel!” shouted his father from upstairs. “Can you go buy some fresh vegetables from the marketplace?”

“Should I bring my notepad and pencil?” inquired Samuel.

“Of course! You never know when a delightful story will pop up!” replied his father.

He brought the basket, some money, and of course, his notepad and pencil. Like his father often said, “A reporter is not a reporter without a good notepad and a sharp pencil at all times.” Now the only decision he had to make was green or red peppers. The marketplace was in Boston Square on Sundays and Wednesdays. It was a popular place for gossip, wares, and other fine goods. It was especially busy today with the sound of the shoppers angrily exchanging views about the latest taxes posted by Parliament like a swarm of enraged hornets. Despite the raucous of the crowd, Samuel was soothed by the familiar aromas from the candy stall, which was filled with children clamoring to get samples. Suddenly, he heard a maddened yell from the center of the square, where an enraged mob was gathering around a group of British soldiers. The mob was throwing rocks, snowballs, and anything else they could get their hands on. Samuel was frozen in shock. He couldn’t move even though his brain screamed, Run! After a few seconds of this, he heard someone yell, “Fire!” He heard screams, and the smell of gunpowder filled the air.

After the smoke cleared, he caught a glimpse of colonial bodies scattered on the dirt in front of a group of British soldiers, with their muskets aimed at the crowd. Fighting back an overwhelming urge to cry, he hurriedly took out his notebook and pencil and scrawled out what he witnessed. As he was writing this, a woman from the crowd bawled, “Arrest that man! He is a murderer!”

Two Patriot officers pushed their way through the crowd and pointed muskets at the British soldiers. “Freeze! You are under arrest, Captain! “As the officers took Captain Preston away, the crowd cheered and booed at Captain Preston.

“Order in the court. All stand for the honorable Judge Hutchinson,” declared the bailiff. Captain Thomas Preston stood stone-faced in the middle of the room as the charges for manslaughter were read. “Will Samuel Holmes please take the stand?” said the bailiff. Samuel sluggishly made his way to the witness stand. His legs were quaking, and his whole body felt nervous.

The prosecuting attorney said, “Mr. Holmes, will you please tell me what you saw that day?” Samuel then began to retell the narrative of the horrific scene. Several times during the testimony, the horde of angry colonists began to chatter among themselves, and the judge had to call order in the court. Despite the accusations, the prosecutors did not have enough evidence, and Captain Thomas Preston and six of his men were acquitted.

Five Years Later…

The smoke from the gunfire obscured his view of his comrades around him. Two months earlier, Samuel had enlisted in the Continental Army. As he loaded his musket, his best friend had been standing within a few yards from him, firing round after round at the oncoming British. Samuel then turned to ask him for more powder, but Scotty lay lifeless on the ground. Two medics were carefully lifting him to carry him to safety. After a few seconds standing there, confused and dazed at what Samuel had seen, he scrambled over piles of ammunition and muskets scattered on the ground to reach him. “Will he make it?” he asked the medic. The somber medic shook his head.

Suddenly, a sharp, penetrating pain shot up and down his leg. With a shock, he realized that he had been hit by a musket ball. When he had enlisted, he never really stopped to think what would happen if he had been hit, but now that he had, it felt horrible. It was a gut-wrenching pain that ran up and down his leg like a hot poker. He fell over and clutched his leg, writhing around in agony. Shortly, he faintly heard someone yell, “Retreat!” In a few moments, he saw a blackness, as dark as coal, envelope him.

Gradually, he awoke to the sound of dripping water and the musty smell of dampness. As he looked around, he saw several prisoners. Most of them he recognized from his militia. All of them appeared wounded, ragged, and exhausted. Suddenly, the cell door opened, and a guard entered. He disdainfully handed everyone a bowl. Samuel peered inside his bowl and barely recognized a few pieces of stale bread and a small chunk of moldy cheese. Samuel made a face, and the jailer grinned wickedly and said, “You better get used to it; that’s all you’re getting for the next few weeks.” He then walked out of the cell, slamming the door with a loud clang. Samuel sighed and wondered if he ever would be free again.

A few days later, a tall, broad-shouldered man walked into the cell. He wore a red coat and an officer’s hat. Samuel thought that he looked strangely familiar.

“How’s our prisoner doing?” the officer inquired.

“Fine, no thanks to you,” retorted Samuel bitterly.

“You still don’t recognize me, do you?” the officer questioned Samuel with a smirk. Samuel silently stared at him and tried to remember where he had seen the man. Suddenly, he remembered the hot June day in the court where he had testified against Captain Thomas Preston.

“You,” he whispered. Samuel didn’t recognize him at first because of his gray hair, and he had grown a full, black beard.

Captain Preston then walked toward the jailer. Samuel couldn’t make out what they were saying, but in the end, Samuel noticed money being exchanged. Shortly, Captain Preston walked over, grabbed Samuel by the shoulder, and stated gruffly, “You’re coming with me!”

Several months had passed since that day in jail when Captain Preston had re-entered his life. Samuel wiped the sweat off his face as he held the handles of the plow. He had been toiling on Preston’s small farm of 20 acres with no relief or hope of returning to Boston. He vaguely remembered the days when, as an innocent boy, he helped his father gather information for The Gazette. He had wished a thousand times he had stayed in Boston to become a journalist. Suddenly, the plow jerked as it collided with an immovable object. The soil he was tilling was rocky and riddled with thick roots. As he freed the plow, he struggled with his memories and emotions. He held onto a slim hope that he would feel ecstasy of freedom again.

After he finished, he plodded back to his cabin. The cabin was made out of mud and had no floor, no chimney, and no windows. As he took the supplies out of the cupboard for a primitive stew, he went outside to sit under the ash tree near his cabin and began to eat his meager meal. From where he was, he could see Preston’s manor. The rich smell of roast pig and liver-stuffed chicken wafted up from the manor’s chimney and filled his nostrils with a rich and savory scent. The stars were as bright as a thousand candles, and by the time he went back inside, it was nearing midnight.

Before dawn, Samuel was aroused by the sound of someone pounding on the door. As he groggily got up to put on some presentable clothes, the pounding became more insistent. As Samuel opened the door, he was nearly knocked over by a rather tall, husky boy dressed in a servant’s uniform. Samuel had seen him tending to the manor’s enormous gardens. “Captain Preston wants you up at the manor at 10 sharp,” the boy said with a sneer.

After the boy left, Samuel put on his best boots and hiked up the hill to the manor. He climbed up the magnificent walkway to the elegant door; grabbed the wolf-shaped, silver knocker; and loudly tapped on the entryway. A butler in a white suit with gold tassels opened the door. “Come in, Mr. Preston has been expecting you,” said the butler, wrinkling his nose in disgust. Samuel was painfully aware of his soiled clothing. The butler then led Samuel into the foyer, where Samuel gawked up at the enormous cathedral ceiling, from which a crystal chandelier hung and picturesque paintings decorated the adjacent walls. The servant swung open the double doors to the drawing room, and there, standing in the middle of the room, was Captain Preston. He stood in the middle of the room wearing a uniform and holding a piece of paper. The room itself was quite large and had an enormous bookcase against the back wall. The walls were furnished by immense paintings, and there was a large map of the United Kingdom on the wall.

“A message came for me today,” said Captain Preston.

“And you called me all the way here just to tell me that?” harshly retorted Samuel.

“No, but I figured you might want to look at this,” replied Captain Preston.

Samuel took the letter and started to read.

Dear Sir,

Word has come to me that my son has been working as an indentured slave on your farm for close to three months now. I realize that this has been a punishment for being a prisoner of war. I also realize that you resent him for testifying against you. However, Samuel was only trying to be truthful. He was very young, and I had taught him from an early age to be honest and forthcoming. I have enclosed a sum of 200 pounds (his fare back to Boston). I hope you will consider giving him his freedom so that he can come back to his family.


Phineas Holmes

Samuel eagerly looked up at Preston after he finished reading.

“Yes, you are going back” said Captain Preston. “Your father made me see that I have been wrong in resenting you all these years. I now grant you your freedom to return home to your friends and family. God speed!”

Samuel safely returned to Boston. He became a famous journalist and soon forgave Captain Preston for mistreating him for those several years. He also learned that truthfulness was a valuable quality, just as his father had taught him when he was very young.