The warmth of the flames relieved Father William Kensington from the winter chill, but melted his heart to a puddle of tears. He could do nothing but watch as the steeple of the Old North Church crumbled and fell into the fiery inferno that engulfed the base of the building. He didn’t preach at this church, but he still felt God’s pain like a knife.
Suddenly a small boy pushed past him towards the wall of armed Redcoats between the crowd and the burning wreckage. He held a sword in one hand and a clearly homemade American flag in the other.
“For America!” the boy shouted as he charged at the nearest soldier. He couldn’t have been older than ten, yet here he was, pretending to be a killer.
The Redcoats simply laughed and one knocked the sword away with an easy swat of his bayonet. The boy fell to the ground and his flag dragged through a muddy puddle. The Redcoat picked it up and threw it into the fire. “Stupid boy. There is no America. There never was an America. And there never will be an America.”
“You’re wrong!” The boy cried. “We’re going to beat you.” There was such bitter confidence in his voice it was almost palpable.
“You won’t be doing anything.” The soldier raised his rifle and aimed it at the boy’s chest.
Father Kensington burst from the crowd and slid to the ground before the boy. “Please no! In. God’s name! In King George’s name! He’s only a child!”
“Am not,” the boy grunted.
“This is treason,” another Redcoat said. “There is only one cure for treason.”
“You already burned this church. Please, spare the boy and spare yourself the Devil’s wrath. There has been too much blood spilled on these streets. I will take the boy. I will show him that the Revolution was a plague and that King George will show mercy on those loyal.”
The Redcoat raised an eyebrow and sighed. “So be it. But if there is another Revolution, you are the first I will hunt down.”
Father Kensington picked the boy from the mud and walked him away from the scene. “What were you thinking, child?”
“My father said we deserve to have rights! We need to fight! And you’re a loyalist! I should kill you now!”
“Nonsense. I only said that to save your life.” Father Kensington knelt beside the boy. “Now tell me, child, what is your name?”
“I’m John Quincy Adams.”
Father Kensington stopped and turned to the boy. “John Quincy Adams?”
“That’s what I said.”
“As in, child of the John Adams?”
The boy quickly turned somber. “I was there when it happened… Mother told me not to look, but I had to. I wanted to see what these tyrants did to my father.” Father Kensington could sense the tension in the air shifting. “And I will avenge him.”
He sighed. What did this boy know about Revolution or vengeance? “That’s where you are going awry. You can’t fight for revenge. You have to fight for what your father believed in. You have to fight for a country run in Democracy by good people. You have to fight for freedom. If you make this about revenge then you will fail.”
“They deserve to die now.”
“No one deserves to die before his time, child.”
“My father did. Why shouldn’t they?”
“That is not how it works. If you fight now you will lose. America is weak and defeated. You will have to be patient and wait for the right moment. You will have to endure years of pain and suffering at the hands of King George. He will raise taxes and hang traitors and make everyone’s lives miserable. However, if you wait, eventually he will think the threat of a revolution is over. That is when you strike.”
“You said you’re a priest?”
“I am a servant of God. One who believes in freedom.”
“Will you help me?”
Father Kensington smiled. The Lord worked in strange ways. “I will.”