Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
George Washington's Secret HobbyWhen I entered George's study, his attention was utterly focused on the fluffy pink sweater he was knitting. I smiled inwardly, but didn't let that inward smile express itself outwardly; George was a bit embarrassed about his unconventional hobbies. If ever the soldiers under his command saw the great George Washington sewing, knitting, and crocheting, the larger-than-life myth of the man who led his people through Valley Forge would be completely destroyed.
George never knitted in public; it was only because we were such good friends that I was permitted to see this side of the great leader. Our families had been friends for years. George had attended both of my weddings, and both times I lost a husband to the war effort, George and Martha took me into their home while I grieved for my losses.
"Good morning, George," I said, "That's a fine sweater."
George looked up from his knitting, noticing me for the first time. Smiling, he held the pink mass of wool up in front of him to give me a better view. "Very nice," I said.
Then he put the knitting away. By this I knew we had a serious problem. The only times George was without his knitting was when he was either out in public, or he had pressing (and distressing) matters to attend to. His expression was grave and unreadable.
"Thanks for coming to see me," he said. "We have a problem."
"One of my men was outside my tent the night before the Yorktown Battle, and he heard us talking inside."
"Were we talking about your knitting?" I asked. This was one of George's phobias, that a careless comment would give away his secret.
"No. We were talking about Cornwallis, and the upcoming battle."
"So this soldier is convinced it was you who devised the victorious battle plan."
It was true; we had a scale model of Yorktown marked out on his desk, with toy soldiers spread out across the town; the british were red, and we were blue. It was a cluttered mess, and without my help George would never have made sense of it. I had spent the evening chalking out white lines on the model, and explaining where each color should go.
I sighed. What a pair we made, George and I; he with his knitting, and I with my keen eye for strategy and the art of killing on a grand scale. If only George wasn't already married, what a couple we would have made! But George is taken, and who would ever be willing to become my husband-number-three if word got out about my bloody-handed hobby?
"So what are we going to do?" I asked.
George said, "I've got it all figured out. We're going to tell that soldier we were talking about this." With dramatic flair he held aloft his most recent sewing project. It was a towel, or maybe a rug, with a garish display of brilliant colors in a mish-mash of incoherent patterns.
Honestly, the thing made my eyes hurt.
"What? We're going to tell them you were sewing that?"
George smiled as he admired the cluttered patterns that matched the colors of our Yorktown model, colors that would forever become part of our national heritage. "No, Betsy. We're going to tell them you were sewing it."
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