I publish this opening passage from PASSIONS OF THE PATRIOTS in honor of George's birthday. Of course, I knew him well. Happy Birthday, George..."Thomas Paine"

George Washington wrapped himself around the young Marquis. Lafayette sighed with pleasure.

It was their fourth such rendez-vous since that delicious denouement in Philadelphia. Each new encounter involved a progressively deepening experience, full of confusion and doubt at first (at least on Washington’s part) but now blooming into a supremely sensitive trans-oceanic detente.

The Frenchman stared deep into the taller man’s eyes, then down. There was an inexpressible connection between them, and the promise of so much more. The Franco-American alliance was making possible the defeat of the British. Now it would achieve a more perfect union.

“Soon, mon cher, we shall get married. No law shall stop us. Our love transcends all churches and all state hypocrisies, and renders all Puritans impotent. Their rage shall be as nothing when our passion washes over them.”

Washington was overcome with emotion. He fairly lunged forward, moving them both toward the four-poster.

But first, the Marquis had a request.

“Vos dents, mon cher. Vos dents.”

"My Danz?"



The older man withdrew in sheepish embarrassment. Welling with tears, his eyes contemplated a paradise, an unimagined liberation. Since that initial eye-opener before the Declaration, he had sensed something strange, something profoundly troubling and unfathomable in his attraction to this slender young man. He had been unsure of what it was.

But Lafayette had no such doubts. The marble drawing rooms of the ancien regime were a long long way from the post-and-beam barns of the American rebels. Slowly, with supreme sensitivity, the young Marquis had led the old Indian fighter deep into an entirely new frontier.

For Washington, it was the bursting of a dam, or the explosion of matter itself. His sensual life had been a barren battlefield. His union with Martha was something less than transcendental. “Not much fire between the sheets,” he complained.

Elsewhere, slave women and occasional discreet liaisons amidst the outwardly Calvinistic gentry had done little to quench the General's search for true fulfillment.

But this...this was something almost beyond belief. Quietly, the Marquis recovered his composure, and padded toward the night table, removing a small cloth bag filled with Washington's hemp.

The General was, of course, the biggest grower in the Americas. And though his crop was ostensibly for ship riggings, over the years the Frenchman Lafayette and Hamilton, the Jamaican, had conspired with Washington's best cultivators to produce something fit for the pipe. George had even put their best findings into a much-read treatise how to separate the different flowers.

But Lafayette was still displeased. "Mon General," he muttered, stuffing some hand-picked buds into a woody grain barrel, "Again you have failed to separate les hommes from les femmes. I'm afraid this rope is good only for hanging."

Washington said nothing. He accepted the smoking kaywoodie, then handed it back. Wordlessly, the two men passed the pipe between them, moving again ever closer. The taller one sighed. He placed his ivory mouthpiece in a jar on the dressing table. He inched toward the four-poster, its satin quilt still turned back and waiting.

He never got there. A step shy, a shiver ran through his spine. His neck jerked toward the door, which creaked slightly. The wave of paranoia peaked and broke as a filthy, ragged Continental soldier flung asunder the last barrier between himself and his commanding officer.

His name was Daniel Shays. For five blank seconds he stared transfixed at his compromised quarry. He had come only to talk. But his agrarian mind, with its lingering traces of Puritan iron, could barely comprehend the scene before it. For a unique epochal moment, time and history stood still…..

…Of course, our story continues in PASSIONS OF THE PATRIOTS...

“Thomas Paine” is author of PASSIONS OF THE PATRIOTS http://passionsofthepatriots.com.