Benjamin’s moss-green wedding coat, no longer his best, hung in my clothespress. He cut a fine figure in it the day we married. A faint remembrance of his scent lingered in the folds and I held it to my face to breathe him in before I put it on. It was far too large, and the cuffs flapped long and loose beyond my fingertips. His cocked hat, made of good felted wool, sank down over my ears and concealed my linen cap. Tomorrow I’d fetch his extra breeches, leggings, shirts, and his spare pair of shoes from the trunk at our house.
With a wool coverlet spread on the bed, I piled on a change of my underclothes and wrapped them inside. By packing few of my own things, I could bring the warmest clothing for the men and enough food to sustain them. As I headed downstairs with the bundle in my arms, my mind churned out a list of many things to pack. How much could Nelly carry? Everything seemed just as necessary as my medicine chest. Soap, bacon, dried fish, beans, cornmeal, nuts. Maybe some fruit preserves for a treat.
In the larder, my gaze lingered on the salt barrel. The men could not get along without it. Rummaging in the bundle until I found one of my stockings, I opened the barrel and poured in a scoopful. The knit was fine and no salt leaked out so I poured another scoop.
“See here, boy. What are you about?”
At the sound of my mother’s tremulous voice, I turned, and Benjamin’s hat slid down over my nose. I pushed it back and met her incredulous gaze.
“Saints be, Anna! You startled me. What on earth are you doing?”
“I’m packing. I’m going to Valley Forge.”
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