Levi pulled the horse to a stop and jumped off the cart at the Archer homestead, the largest farm this side of Boston. Although he inherited the general store when his papa died two months ago, he still made deliveries a couple of days a week while his mama watched the store in town. This was his favorite stop, and not just because his best friend lived here. “Where have you been all week?” he asked.
Jonas pulled the supplies out of Levi’s cart. “In the fields. I still haven’t mended the cart wheel.”
Levi flashed a smile at Jonas’ sister and mother when they came out to help with the supplies. “I have everything you asked for last week, Mrs. Archer, including your mail.” He handed her a couple of letters and a package. “I brought the tea, but the tax has been raised again. Do you still want it?”
“Goodness, the British will take away our comforts one tax at a time. Are the troops still in town?”
“Yes, Ma’am. We house them and feed them while they enforce the new taxes. Zachariah Morris was tossed in jail this morning for speaking his mind.”
“Not so much new, as raised again. Newspapers, licenses, tea, and anything else they can add. Pretty soon no one will drink chocolate or tea, too expensive.”
“That’s a shame,” Mrs. Archer signed, “but we’ll take the tea, for now.” She looked up from the first letter and smiled. “My cousin married a nice man and lives north of Warren, on the Post Road. They created a new teapot design. The package is a teapot he made, and she painted. She sent some tea with it. Come, Levi, we’ll try her tea with lunch. Abitha made fresh bread and an apple pie this morning, and we have venison stew on the fire.”
“Don’t mind if I do, Ma’am,” Levi said. He and Abitha exchanged smiles and walked up the steps to the house together, each carrying supplies.
Jonas followed them with a load of his own and frowned when his friend moved his weight to one hand and put his other arm around his sister to help her up the steps. At no time did Abitha need help getting up or down any steps even with a heavy load. She was a healthy girl.
Mrs. Archer unwrapped the package to find a box. When she opened the lid, she found a white ceramic teapot with a beautiful floral design and four matching cups and saucers. A serving tray had the same intricate design.
“Mama, how beautiful.” Abitha picked up one of the cups. It was the most delicate thing she had ever seen. They weren’t poor, but this tea set belonged in a grand house in town, not their farmhouse.
“Oh, this is so much nicer than those silly pots with the scroll work and “No Stamp Act” the British expect us to buy.” Mrs. Archer smiled at the sheer beauty of the gift. This would be a worthy gift to her daughter when she married and started her own household.
Jonas looked at the cups and thought his mug was sturdier and a larger vessel, but both women seemed pleased. He glanced over at Levi who also stared in awe at the tea set.
“Mrs. Archer, I would very much like an introduction to your cousin. Perhaps I could sell her sets in the store.” Levi continued to turn the cup in his hand.
“I’ll pen a letter to Ester before you leave today, and it can go out in the next post. If she’s agreeable, Abitha can ride up with you and make the introductions.”
Abitha turned from stirring the stew. Her face lit up when Levi said, “Thank you, Ma’am. That’s a wonderful idea.”
Jonas passed a bewildered look from his friend to his sister before his mouth dropped open. He finally understood.