- Pages: 416 Pages
- Series: The Alex & Eliza Trilogy
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Imprint: Penguin Books
- ISBN: 9780525515906
An Excerpt From
All for One
Her Brother’s Keeper
New York Harbor
New York, New York
To passersby, they must have looked like any other young couple enjoying the bright sun and cool breezes of a June day in New York City. Broadway was crowded with similarly affectionate pairs, arm in arm, or holding hands, or even giving in to the urge to steal a kiss, regardless of who was watching. City Hall Park was in full bloom, and the only odor that could push through the heavenly fragrance of lilac was the salt of New York Harbor, less than a quarter mile away. But unbeknownst to their fellow flâneurs, Alexander and Eliza Hamilton were engaged in that most high-stakes of marital negotiations: their social calendar.
“No, no,” Eliza admonished Alex as gently she could. “We dine with the Van Cortlandts on the morrow. They are in town for just four days. We are seeing the Van Wycks on Thursday.”
From the corner of her eye, Eliza saw Alex’s brow furrow beneath his hat, a narrow-brimmed midnight-blue tricorne that brought out the red in his hair and the twinkle in his pale blue eyes. “But I thought we were dining with John and Sarah on Thursday.”
“No, the Jays are Friday,” Eliza said as soothingly as possible, regarding him from beneath the brim of her own bonnet, which was a handsome chocolate brown trimmed with pink ribbon that accentuated the apples in her cheeks. She patted her husband’s arm as though he were a little boy. For a man who had supervised the schedule of the commander in chief of the Continental Army for five years, he had a notoriously hard time remembering whom he was going to have dinner with three days out.
“Friday?” Alex repeated, as though she’d just told him Congress had voted to return the United States to British rule. “Then when are we seeing the Morrises?”
“Do you mean Gouverneur, or Helena Morris that is now Rutherford?” Eliza responded. “We’re having Gouverneur and his latest belle du jour, Miss Du Pont, to tea a week Saturday,” she continued without waiting for her husband to answer, “and taking luncheon with John and Helena at their city residence after services on the Sabbath. Or, no,” she corrected herself. “We are joining James Beekman at Mount Pleasant after church. The Rutherfords have had to push back their arrival until Monday, but we have tentative plans to join them for supper.”
“‘Tentative plans’?” Alex laughed. “How on earth can such a schedule accommodate a tentative plan? My good wife, you manage our social calendar with more precision than General Washington arranged his parlays! If you were foreign minister to King George or King Louis, there would never be another war in Europe again!”
“As I recall,” Eliza said, chuckling, “it was you who arranged General Washington’s social calendar, which makes it that much more surprising that you cannot keep track of your own.” She held up a string purse whose pink ribbon matched her bonnet. “If it makes you feel better, I have everything written down in a little diary I keep with me at all times.”
“When I was General Washington’s aide, I didn’t have a social calendar,” Alex said, laughing. “All my time was spent racing after him. It is your own fault, my darling,” he continued, squeezing Eliza’s silk-clad arm with a kid-gloved hand. “You are as impressive a hostess as you are a guest. Everyone wants you in their salon, and if they’re not soliciting your presence at their table, then they’re begging for a spot at ours.”
Eliza blushed prettily at the compliment and allowed a few steps to pass before she answered. Catching a glimpse of herself in a shop window, however, she couldn’t help but think that Alex might be right. He in midnight-blue wool, she in dark rose silk with pink and chocolate accents—they were the picture of urbane, young New York society, and she noticed more than one set of eyes glancing at them both approvingly and enviously.
“Oh, pshaw!” she said at length. “I am naught but the wife of a war hero, who just happens to be the most capable attorney in New York City. If people court my presence, it is only so they can be closer to you.” At that, she squeezed his arm to let him know that none could come closer than her.
“Did you just ‘pshaw’ me, Mrs. Hamilton?”
“I believe I did, Mr. Hamilton.”
“That’s Colonel Hamilton to you.”
Eliza pretended to be shocked. “Of all the cheek—”
Alex soothed her with a kiss. “The only cheek that I’m interested in is the one my lips are pressed against,” he murmured.
“Just be sure you don’t neglect the other one,” Eliza said, touching the opposite side of her face. “It will get jealous.”
Alex dutifully leaned across his wife to give her a second kiss, then threw in one on the lips for good measure, and they continued on their way down Broadway. Eliza went on informing him of their social schedule, as Alex shook his head in disbelief at the number of bowls of creamed spinach he would be expected to consume in the next three weeks.
Such was the price of being the most popular couple in town.
Since the smashing going-away party Eliza had thrown for Angelica and John Church last winter, where everyone who was anyone in New York and New Jersey society had been present, the Hamiltons’ hall table was littered with calling cards. To accommodate all the requests, Eliza began hosting Thursday night dinners and Friday night salons, which quickly became the most coveted invitation in town. She was adept at mixing lawyers with painters, businessmen with artists, so the conversation was always knowledgeable and varied, and everyone left feeling like they’d learned a little bit more about how the world functioned, from the workaday business of brewing one’s own ale to the exalted labor of forming a new country from the ground up.
For if Eliza provided the culture, Alex provided the politics. His brilliant and compassionate legal defense of Caroline Childress, the widow of a British soldier who’d fought against Continental troops in the War for Independence, had made him not just the most sought-after lawyer in town—the man who could win the unwinnable case—but also led to repeated calls for him to enter politics at the highest level. Several people approached him to run against New York’s corpulent, corrupt governor, George Clinton, while others suggested something at the national level—senator, or who knows, perhaps foreign minister, should Congress decide to create an executive office. Perhaps he might even be prime minister or president or whatever title they would bestow on the new leader of the country.
The Hamiltons’ combined success had made them the It Couple in New York City. With Eliza’s family relations to the Van Rensselaers, Livingstons, Schuylers, and the rest of the New World gentry, and Alex’s military and legal connections to General Washington and other heroes of the revolution, there wasn’t a soul in New York who didn’t want to meet them, whether to bask in their glory or ride on their coattails. But right now the Hamiltons were on their way to meet someone who meant more to them then all the towheaded Dutchmen and high-collared Anglicans you could stuff in a parlor.
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