Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

Members of the Governor's Following

All this seems rather a roundabout way of telling that I went abroad with our governor; but I could not well do it in a less number of words, otherwise you would be puzzled as to our reason for going, and also at a loss to understand what happened later.

How it chanced that William Penn had singled me out as one of his company, I have no idea; but positive it is that when I went to my home on a certain night, my father told me of the great honor which was mine.

The governor had said in so many words, that it would please him to have me in his following during a journey to Maryland, not as a servant, but rather to add to the list of his company, for it was not seemly the ruler of a country as large as Pennsylvania should go abroad with no more than a handful of men at his heels.

My mother was greatly concerned by the news, for the journey was to be begun within eight and forty hours, and she did not believe I could be outfitted properly in so short a time. It would not be honoring our governor if I went in shabby apparel, and a boy who is growing fast soon leaves behind him everything in the way of costume, if so be he does not follow his increasing stature with new garments.

Father laughed at my mother's anxieties, declaring I was grown so tall that I could wear becomingly anything of his, and in a twinkling I had before me all that could have been desired in the way of garments, even though I had been going to call upon the king himself.

My coat was of black velvet with laced cuffs and pocket-flaps; my waistcoat buff, as were my breeches. I had the finest of black silk stockings, with large buckles of silver on my shoes, and the ruffles for my neck and wrists were made of the best lace my mother had in her possession.


Of course such a costume was not seemly for a tramp through the woods, nor did I count on wearing it until we were come near to the town where we should find Lord Baltimore. I had jack boots, stout corduroy breeches, a short coat of sad-colored cloth, and a cap of gray, to wear on the journey. My finery was to be carried in the carts with the governor's baggage.

Father had been told that our company was to journey by ship to New Castle, and thence across the country to the head of Chesapeake Bay, where would be found boats to carry us by water to Maryland.

The carts were to be sent on one day in advance of us, that they might be at New Castle when we arrived, and with them would go several horses for the governor and some of the chief men of the company.

The remainder of the party would trust to their own stout legs, being able to move quite as fast as the others, for horses cannot go at any rapid pace over a country as rough as ours, and even though they might out-strip us for a time, it would be necessary to make long halts in order that the baggage carts be not left too far behind.

It is not needed for me to say that I was in high glee at thus being allowed to travel in such state, and when Jethro came over in hot haste to my home late that night, stating that he also had been named as one who was to go with the governor, my cup of happiness seemed full to the brim.

How we two lads got through the next day I am unable to say; it was as if we walked on air, with our heads held high, for surely we must have been of some consequence in this country of America, otherwise William Penn would not have gone so far out of the way as to call us by name when he was making up a list of his company.

Jethro mourned because of his hands' being hard and grimy, owing to our work of nail-making; but I insisted that such marks of honest labor became us far better than would flesh so soft and white that one would know we had not been accustomed to work as lads should, who count on helping to build a city in the wilderness.

As father has said again and again, he is a poor addition to any town in a new country like ours, who cannot turn his hand to every kind of work that may be needed, and it is the drones, or the gentlemen as they were called in Jamestown and Plymouth, who are a drag instead of a help.

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