Something Worth Fighting For

Something Worth Fighting For

A Story by Pretty_as_a_Poet
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A Canadian Historical Short about the battles of St Denise, St Eustache, and two men's tiny role in the rebellion of La Parti Patriotes. A wee gem I cooked up for a History class that became more.

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Edward Henry Miller was a quiet, timid man. Never the one to speak unless he was spoken to, and he both feared and respected authority.  He was proud of his trade, and loved his wife, Catherine and nine-year-old daughter, Anne, with all his heart. Though life wasn’t always easy, a miller by trade, he worked hard for his daily bread and was a respected member of his community.

Ten years ago, He would never expect to end up in the midst of rebellion.  Once, when he was a young man, he got into a fight with an Aristocrat from the Family Compact, he didn’t mean to cause any conflict, but still, he received a blow to the jaw over a sack of flour that was “not ground finely enough”. Since then, he avoided complications and altercations at all costs.

He could see the rebellion coming, with the anger towards the Family Compact rising, and the ideology of the newly formed American Government spreading through the city streets like wildfire. And then there was the newly elected Mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, who had visions of a representative and responsible government that took the peoples interests to heart. In truth, Edward thought about a new government once or twice, but he never really liked the idea of taking up arms for change, it was too radical for him.

But still the question lies: What was this god-fearing, law abiding, mild mannered citizen of Upper Canada doing in Lower Canada, in the thick of a battle, barricaded by branches and scared half to death that his head is going to be blown off by the same men who he used to go to church with on Sundays?

He had gone to St Denise as a part of the militia, citizens enlisted by force of law to fight against the rebels. He had been between a rock and a hard place, he was no fighter, and he could barely bring himself to punch the Aristocrat that had attacked him way back when. But he was strong like an ox, he was used to loading multiple sacks of flour at once onto the wagon when it was shipped into town, and like all able-bodied men, he had to do his civic duty and serve. But everything changed the night he met Jean-Pierre Leblanc:    

 If one thing could be said about Jean-Pierre, it’d be that he wasn’t the type to live and let die. Once, long ago, Jean-Pierre Leblanc was a different man. That was ancient history though, long before the Rebellion, or la Parti Patriotes or the night he met Edward Henry Miller at St Denise. He was quieter back then when his wife and son were still living, but he wasn’t like that anymore. Like everything else, the English took that from him.

It was 1832, and with a boatful of English immigrants also came Cholera, which would kill seven thousand eight hundred French Canadians, amongst the deceased his own wife and son. A Francophone in Lower Canada would think that the British were blatantly trying to deplete the French population; they stocked the streets with their own kind, enforced their own laws, spoke their own language, practised their own religion and looked down upon anyone and everyone who didn’t do the same. Those who were in power were English and would therefore only look after the rights of the English people. The very notion of the matter made Jean-Pierre’s blood boil.

That’s why he was in St Denise, he had the world to gain and nothing left to lose but his life, which was an eyelash sacrifice compared to everything that was already gone. 

It was the night before the battle when they met. Edward had left camp to send a letter home to his wife when he noticed a man brooding in an alleyway as he walked past. Stopping, he turned to face him.

“Sir, are you alright? You seem troubled.”

The man lifted his head, his dark blue eyes stormy “Monsieur, everyone is troubled on the evening before a revolution…”

Edward smiled, assuming that the man was a fellow member of the militia, “Yes, I too am apprehensive of what is to come.”

“My Name is Jean-Pierre, Jean Pierre Leblanc… And you are?”

 “Edward.”

Jean-Pierre stepped into the light, his head was covered with a mess of black hair, and though he was still a young man, his face was aged with worry and loss. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Edward.”

“Where are you from, Jean-Pierre?”

“Montreal… you?”

“Toronto.”

“And do you have a wife,” Jean-Pierre asked “…. A child?”

“I do… A daughter, Anne.”

“Once I had a beautiful wife named Josephine, and we had a strong, healthy baby boy The English took them away from me” He took a long drag from his cigarette, his eyes distant. “this is not an existence I would have wanted for him to grow up in. Do you understand what I say, Edward?”

“Yes,” Edward said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting on the wrong side.”   

 

 

The two men stood silent for a moment

“Edward,” Jean Pierre asked, “Do you plan to kill me tomorrow?”

“Excuse me?”

“You’ve been sent with the militia to fight the Patriotes,” Jean-Pierre Explained “you believe that we are wrong and wish to stamp out our kind like every other Englishman, but I wish to know if you intend on killing me tomorrow, now that you know that there is an actual human being behind the beret… I want to know whether or not you have a conscience.”   

“I….”

“You probably don’t…but if you do, I have a proposition for you. We, the Patriots, want change; we want a future for our children, so they can live and feel like they have control over the laws that they follow.

“So what can I do?” Edward asked, “I’m just one man, I don’t even know what I’m doing here!”

“Yes, you are just a man,” Jean-Pierre admitted “ But you are a man with an idea, non? People die so quickly, we are candles clinging to our fragile wicks, in a windstorm, and when we’re snuffed out, well, your flame is such a forgettable one. But an idea can't be killed. The idea lives on.”

 

“and what does that help?”

 

“Join us, you will see.”

 

And Join the Patriotes is exactly what Edward did. The next Day, when the British attacked, Edward and Jean-Pierre fought side by side, firing their muskets at the British soldiers and the unfortunate Militia who were too cowardly to go against the law.

 

When the Patriotes won at St. Denise, Edward discovered a fire inside him he never knew. He wasn’t a fighter, but he loved his family, and his country and he wanted what was best for them.

 

After receiving word of the Patriot’s defeat at St. Charles Jean-Pierre and Edward travelled together to St. Eustache, to aid the remaining Patriotes. They were all that remained of the rebel’s fighting force, and Jean-Pierre’s only hope for reformation.   

 

It was a Ferocious battle, Jean-Pierre and Edward were the only Patriotes with muskets, and the men fighting by their side were falling dead all around them.

 

“Retreat!” Came the call from Chénier, the leader of the troops in St. Eustache

 

Edward and Jean-Pierre ran, trying to evade the gunfire, Edward sprinted ahead as his legs were stronger than Jean-Pierre’s. He looked behind him to see where his new friend was. Jean-Pierre was nowhere to be found.

“Jean-Pierre!” Edward Shouted over the gunfire

Then he saw him, lying there, bloodied and weak.

“Jean-Pierre!”   

Edward Ran to him, unfazed by the bullets whizzing past.

“You're hurt.” Edward only knew Jean-Pierre for a couple of days, but during that period of time, the two had become like brothers.

“Oui…” Jean-Pierre wheezed “But don’t fret, Mon Ami, I will see my wife and son soon, be happy for me.”

Edward tried to pick up Jean-Pierre, hoping to drag him to safety

“Leave me” Jean-Pierre Instructed, “I will only slow you down.”

“No….” Edward shook his head “I don’t care if I die.”

“Yes, you do…” Jean-Pierre’s life was fading fast; he only had a few minutes left. The potholes in his chest spurted with each ragged breath from his punctured lung, “Think of your family; they need for you to live, to fight for our cause, to give them the change I could not.”

Edward didn’t want to leave his friend

“Go…” Jean-Pierre struggled to take off his beret “Take this and go, I pass on to you the dream I once had… Don’t fail me.”

And with that, Jean-Pierre Leblanc took his last breath.

After St. Eustache, Edward fled to America, like many of the rebels. He would never forget Jean-Pierre, and he would never let the dream of La Patriotes die with him. 


© 2017 Pretty_as_a_Poet



Author's Note

Pretty_as_a_Poet
Was made more so for the history aspect than the story but turned out much better than I expected. Constructive criticism welcome although I doubt anything will come of this.

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Added on August 3, 2017
Last Updated on August 3, 2017
Tags: La Parti Patriotes, French Canadian, Canadian, Rebellion, History, Historical, Canadian History, St Denise, St Eustache, Tragedy, War, Death, Fighting, Short Story, Canada 150

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Pretty_as_a_Poet
Pretty_as_a_Poet

Langley, B.C, Canada



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http://eabulmanbooks.wixsite.com/books Website!! Hey I'm Pretty_as_a_poet, but you can call me Emily. I'm a poet, poetry is my passion and possibly the reason why I have been put on this earth.... more..

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