Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I want to thank Michael Brookes for the interview he recently conducted of me to focus attention on this blog site.  You may access it at

Saturday, April 26, 2014

by Wallace Stegner
Only an elite novelist could succeed in what Wallace Stegner accomplishes with “Recapitulation.” A sequel to “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” this novel is more contemplative than it is event-based and episodic. The reader spends perhaps as much time dwelling in the mind of the protagonist Bruce Mason as he does witnessing the experiences of the teenage boy that Mason remembers himself being during his formative years. “Recapitulation” is about recollection of the past and coming to terms with repressed anger, humiliation, guilt, and loss. It is about closing the door to those destructive emotions caused by undesirable living circumstances and hostile parenting.

Bruce Mason returns to Salt Lake City forty-five years after the death of his father, Harry Mason, in 1932. It was in this important Mormon city that Bruce lived most of his teenage life. We learn that during his productive adult years he had worked for the State Department as a diplomat in the Middle East. He had once been an ambassador. The pretext for his return is to make arrangements for and attend the burial of his aunt -- Harry Mason’s aged, senile sister. He has no emotional attachment to her; he has hardly known her. He knows that his presence isn’t necessary. He could easily dictate the arrangements from afar. He has come back for other reasons not characteristic of his nature and not entirely understood.

His State Department colleagues viewed Mason as a man “indifferent to where he had been, interested only in where he was going.” He was famous for carrying with him a little black book “in which he jotted down appointments, reminders, obligations, shopping lists, which, as soon as each item was taken care of, he inked out so blackly that they could not be read.” Not until close to the end of the novel does the reader recognize that Mason has returned to Salt Lake City to ink out the hurtful recollections of his youth and the emotions that they had generated.

Walking the streets of the city, recognizing familiar sights, Mason imagines himself walking double. “Inside him … went a thin brown youth, volatile, impulsive, never at rest, not so much a person as a possibility, … subject to enthusiasm and elation and exuberance and occasional great black moods, stubborn, capable of scheming but often astonished by consequences, a boy vulnerable to wonder, awe, worship, devotion, hatred, guilt, vanity, shame, ambition, dreams, treachery; a boy avid for acceptance and distinction …” He would see himself later in the novel as having been “the quintessentially decultured American, born artless and without history into a world of opportunity” needing to “acquire in a single lifetime the intellectual sophistication and the cultural confidence that luckier ones absorb through their pores from earliest childhood, and unluckier ones never even miss.”

The root cause of his deprived childhood was his father. “The Big Rocky Candy Mountain” chronicles Harry Mason’s incessant quest to achieve self-gratification, within and outside the law. Ever restless, he has moved his family from various locations in the United States and Canada to pursue brighter opportunities when a normal family man would have settled for what he had modestly achieved. Harry is a hard man certain in his judgment, critical if not contemptuous of conflicting viewpoints. The family had come to Salt Lake City hoping to leave behind “the many failures, the self-deceptions, the schemes that never paid off, the jobs that never worked out, the hopeful starts that had always ended in excuses or flight.” Initially, Harry runs a speak-easy in his home. The family is forced to live isolated lives. “It was as if they lived not merely at the edge of the park but outside the boundaries of all human warmth, all love and companionship and neighborliness, all light and noise and activity, all law.” Later, Harry becomes a bootlegger. This requires that he take long trips to acquire his merchandise as well as trips within the city area to make deliveries to customers. The family continues to live outside the law and the community.

Bruce’s mother is Bruce’s lifeline during his early teenage years in Salt Lake City. “She had been brought up in a stiff Lutheran family, and without being at all religious, she had a yearning belief in honesty, law, fairness, respectability, and the need for self-respect. … She was a humble, decent woman … All it ever took to remind Bruce of how abused he was, was to catch sight of her face when she didn’t know anyone was looking.”

At school Bruce is a scrawny outcast. He seeks approval from his teachers by being excessively diligent. Fearful of the effects that his peers’ disapproval of him are having on Bruce, his mother forces him to join a tennis club, hoping that he might find some path toward social acceptance. Bruce is fortunate to meet at the club Joe Mulder, the star player of the high school tennis team. Joe takes Bruce under his wing, teaches him the game, and introduces him to his family. “Joe rescued his summer and perhaps his life. He taught Bruce not only tennis but confidence, and not only confidence but friendship.” Thereafter, Bruce spends most of his out-of-school time at the Mulder house. Joe’s father hires him to work at his nursery. Bruce discovers that his father is jealous. “Harry Mason resented the fact that his guarded laughterless, irritable house should be abandoned in favor on one rotten with respectability.”

Because of Joe Mulder, Bruce ventures into the hazardous realm of establishing relationships with girls. His great love becomes Nola Gordon, from whom he learns bittersweet lessons of life. She helps him feel, reflect, and grow. It is recollections of Nola and long-standing emotions about her that the adult Bruce additionally wishes to reconcile.

A master of subjective narration, Wallace Stegner is also a superb scene writer. He narrates characters’ tensions extremely well. One such scene has Bruce bringing Nola home to meet his mother, who is recovering from breast cancer surgery. Bruce and Nola had been at a high school prom party. Bruce had been feeling guilty that he had left his mother alone, his father having driven to California to restock his quantity of illicit liquor. The meeting between Nola and Bruce’s mother goes well, everybody is happy, but then they hear the sound of a car entering the garage. Harry Mason has returned.

Hoping to put his father on his best behavior, Bruce intercepts Harry outside the house. He tells him that they have a guest, his date. Harry criticizes Bruce for having left his mother alone. He enters the room pretending he does not know that Nola is present. “Bruce watches him go in and bend over and kiss the woman in the bed – and that is surely showing off … Except when he is showing off or clowning, he makes no such standard gesture of affection.” Bruce’s mother introduces him to Nola. “Bruce knows exactly how she is looking at his father, her eyes curious and interested … At once he feels compared and judged. Beside his father’s size and weight and shirt-sleeve dishevelment he feels like the overdressed figure on a wedding cake. … The old helpless feeling of inferiority oppresses him.” Harry gives a lengthy account of how his car had rolled over on a storm-damaged road. It evokes amazement and sympathy. Bruce announces that he and Nola need to go back to the party. “I have to be there to help close it up. I’m on the committee.” Harry answers with “an incredulous laugh. ‘If you’re on the committee.’” Nola interprets the response as kidding. Outside the house Bruce and Nola talk.

“… You and your father don’t get along.”

“Was it that obvious?”

“You won’t let him joke you.”

“His jokes aren’t jokes.”

Wallace Stegner reflects upon the subtleties of human existence. His insights resonate. Do we not look back upon our lives to reexamine the satisfactions and mistakes of our past? It is part of human nature to sum up, hopefully to cherish, not ink out, what we have experienced.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review
"Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony"
by Lee Miller
Of the four major secondary sources that I have read that narrate Walter Raleigh’s attempts to establish an English settlement on the coast of North America in the 1580s, Lee Miller’s Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony is probably the most informative and definitely the most entertaining. 
Miller’s research is extensive.  (Even her footnotes give useful information)  Not content just to tell the conventional story of Raleigh’s attempts, she provides valuable context.
We learn about the misery of life in England and, more particularly, London.  Miller writes that fish markets and butchers shops at London’s waterfront abound.  The stench is overwhelming.  Offal is channeled down to waiting dung boats on the Thames.  Streets are twisted and narrow, with constant congestion of carts and coaches.  Around the base of St. Paul’s Cathedral booksellers’ stalls and printers’ shops swarm.  Skulking around them are knaves, pickpockets, and thieves.  Rudeness “is in keeping with an overall atmosphere of self-indulgence.  A shirking of personal responsibility.    Anger is allowed free rein; street brawls are common.  Couples easily separate when tired of marriage.    the swelling army of pursy and corpulent citizens indicates an absence of self-denial” (Miller 35).  Bear-baiting is a favorite public entertainment.  Crowds of idlers sit in stands to watch specially trained dogs, one by one, attack a bear who is tethered to a post and whose teeth have been broken short.
Additionally, Miller explains the history of Queen Elizabeth’s difficulties with Spain beginning with King Phillip II’s ascension to the throne in 1556.  She writes about the intrigues against Elizabeth’s life that involve Mary Stuart, the one-time queen of Scotland.  We read about Mary’s duplicity, arrest, trial, and execution. 
Miller provides a character sketch of Walter Raleigh, relates his beginnings and his rise to power, portrays his enemies, and narrates his downfall.
She offers reasons to explain why ordinary men and several of their wives and children leave England in 1587 to settle in the New World.
Miller’s book is excellent for its range of historical information.  That she attempts to answer two lingering questions about the Roanoke settlements makes her book even better.  Why was Walter Raleigh’s 1587 attempt – led by the artist John White -- to establish a permanent settlement doomed to fail?  What really happened to the “lost” settlers that White could not locate upon his return to Roanoke in 1590? 
Lee Miller is the only historian to theorize that the 1587 attempt was deliberately sabotaged.  She reviews each of Queen Elizabeth’s four primary councilors and presents compelling evidence that the saboteur was her secretary of state Francis Walsingham. 
The conventional wisdom of most historians about the “disappearance” of a major portion of White’s settlers is two-fold.  One, they relocated either on the south shore of Chesapeake Bay or 50 miles inland from Roanoke Island somewhere up the Chowan River and, two, they were slaughtered years later by the Powhatan Indian nation.  Miller speculates that they settled somewhere along the Chowan River but were almost immediately destroyed by a vicious interior tribe that coastal Algonquian tribes called Mandoag.  She lays out arguments as to why Jamestown officials declared that John White’s “lost colony” had been killed by the Powhatans and why the few rumored survivors of White’s colony were spread across North Carolina’s interior.
A third reason why I valued this book is Miller’s skillful use of descriptive language.  In certain places she writes like a novelist.  Here are two examples.
John White and Thomas Hariot approach Paquype Lake – “They follow a wooded trail, damp and spongy underfoot, around knotty cypress knees jutting out of stagnant water the color of weak tea, tainted with tannic acid.  Scarlet-headed parakeets tumble wildly into the air, frightened…  The path skirts trees the girth of five men, primordial giants draped in skeins of green vine.  Tendrils curl, cascading downward, twisting over the ground below.  Then, without warning, incongruous amid the tangle, a ring of blue water” (Miller 89).
Evening scene at Aquascogoc – “Offshore, Indian dugouts ride a crimson tide as the sun tumbles into the sound.  Shimmering fire across the water.  Fishermen, in grand silhouette, lay their nets, rhythmically casting and hauling in.   Butterflies unfolding glistening wings of nettle fiber.  A graceful dance.  Eventually the boats, lit up by torches, will twinkle toward land.  Drawn by the fires of Aquascogoc.  The domed houses gleam with muted light, illuminating woven wall patterns like stained glass, spilling warm shapes across the tamped ground outside.  Each design different.  Stars and geometrics; kaleidoscopic forms, birds and fish” (Miller 90).
Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony is a special book.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Scenes about Paul Revere
"Lowell, the Redcoats!"
            Two men walked rapidly across the damp grass of Lexington Common, the smaller man, as if to leave one set of footprints, stepping fastidiously in the wake of the bulky man with the thick hands. Neither man exhibited concern about the tolling of the tower bell or the beating of the company drum or the haste of militiamen crossing the Bedford road. Neither by hesitancy nor surreptitious glance did they acknowledge the two dozen women, handful of children, and five old men clustered in front of John Buckman’s stable.
     Both men had accompanied Samuel Adams and John Hancock to the home of Woburn’s recently deceased preacher. The first night of Hancock's residency at Reverend Jonas Clarke’s house John Lowell, Hancock’s secretary, had stored the wealthy merchant’s traveling trunk in a private room of John Buckman’s tavern. Underneath articles of clothing and personal effects lay treasonous letters. Upon arriving at Woburn, Hancock had ordered that the trunk be removed.
     Lowell and his companion climbed now the tavern’s stairs. Stopping at the first room on the second floor, the secretary pulled out of his coat pocket a long key. Turning it, he opened the chamber door. Looking over Lowell’s right shoulder, Paul Revere spied beneath the curtained window the rectangular trunk. Bending his knees, Lowell grasped one handle. Revere, facing the wall, beginning his stoop, looked out the window.
     Down the slope of the Menotomy road, headed toward the tavern, advanced the King’s infantry!
     Revere noticed the brass buttons, gold lace, whitened leather baldrics, and soiled white leggings. He identified Major John Pitcairn, the profane, devout, fiery, amiable Scotsman with whom he had occasionally exchanged pleasantries. He recognized riding beside Pitcairn the pugnacious major who three hours ago had threatened to scatter his brains.
     “Lowell, the Redcoats!” he cried.
    Ten seconds later they were stomping down the stairs, Lowell, straining at the high end of the trunk, Revere, carrying most of its weight, treading backwards. Out the front door and then past the back of the stable they labored. Feeling the Bedford road beneath his shoes, faced backward, Revere witnessed east of the Meeting House the bravura of red uniforms. Ahead of the dash of color rode Pitcairn, flanked by six or seven officers, each astride a large “plow horse.” Parallel to the Bedford road, Captain Parker’s militiamen had formed a long line.
     Into and behind the company he and Lowell staggered.
     “Let the troops pass by,” Revere heard Captain Parker say, “and don't molest them without they begin first!”
    Going between the blacksmith shop and Jonathan Harrington’s house, Revere and Lowell returned to the road. Straining to keep the bottom edge of the trunk above his knees, striking his heels on the road’s surface, hearing Lowell’s arduous grunts, Revere issued rapid, lip-separating puffs.
     The renting sound of detonated gunpowder halted them, caused them to drop the trunk.
     Staring through interfering tree limbs, Revere saw lines of soldiers and billowing smoke. A second explosion blasted. The soldiers charged.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Scenes about Paul Revere
"A Damned Critical Situation"

             “Keep moving!” the sadistic lieutenant ordered. Using the side of his hanger, he struck the rump of Patterson’s horse.
     The party of soldiers that had arrested and detained the three of them had separated into two groups. Patterson’s group, which included three lieutenants, four sergeants, Paul Revere, Loring, Browner, and a peddler whom the soldiers had an hour ago arrested, was riding toward Lexington. The main group, led by the patrol’s fearsome major, had thirty minutes earlier ridden ahead to locate and arrest John Hancock and Sam Adams. That they would not accomplish! They, not Reverend Clarke’s houseguests, would very soon be the hunted! “500 militiamen,” he had heard Mr. Revere say. A mere fifty, intelligently used, would be enough!
     Guarded by a sergeant whom the major had instructed, “Take out your pistol. If he runs, kill him!” Revere had for a short time been verbally abused. “Damned rebel” he was! Patterson thought. Ten times the man these flaming cuckolds!
     “You are in a damned critical situation,” one of the lieutenants had told Revere.
     “I am sensible of it,” had been Revere’s bland reply.
     Not having daunted Revere, having good reason themselves to be afraid, the seven soldiers had thereafter been silent.
     At the top of Pine Hill, a half mile past the Nelson house, Patterson’s group came upon the lead group, waiting in the road.
     The three lieutenants from Patterson’s group and the commanding officer conferred.
     The four officers separated. A minute later the two groups started up. When we reach Lexington, I’ll kick my horse across the Common, Patterson vowed, all the way to Bedford, if needed!
     His body’s queasy lassitude suggested the opposite.
     The toll of a bell startled them. It continued to peal. The riders at the front halted. Facing his captives, the wrathful major demanded an explanation.
     “The bell's aringing,” Jonathan Loring said.
     The officer’s look burned him.
     “The town's alarmed. You're all dead men!” Loring responded.
     “I wouldn't be sayin' that,” the sergeant next to Loring whispered.
     The major summoned four officers. They conferred. One of them dismounted. He approached Patterson.
     “Get off your horse,” he said.
     His heart pounding, Patterson dismounted. Wobbling a bit, he extended his right hand.
     The officer’s eyes locked on him. “I must do you an injury!”
     Patterson’s shoulder blades went numb. “What … are you going to do?” he stammered.
     The officer withdrew his hanger. Emitting a high-pitched screech, Patterson lurched backward against the hindquarters of Solomon Browner's horse. The officer laughed. Turning his back, he pressed his blade against the bridle of Patterson’s horse.
     Having severed also the horse’s saddle girths, the lieutenant ordered Browner, Loring, and the one-armed tin ware peddler to dismount.
     Patterson’s bowels rumbled. Buttock muscles clenched, he watched the sadistic officer labor.
     “It makes no sense,” Loring said. “They could simply take ‘em off.”
     “They don’t want us usin’ them again, ever,” Browner answered.
     “Spiteful bastards!” Loring muttered.
     The officer with the hanger flung the last saddle to the side of the road.
     “You are released!” Major Mitchell exclaimed, the four of them having looked at him expectantly. “Drive their horses off!” he ordered the sergeant who controlled Paul Revere’s mount. “But not you!” he said to its rider.
     “Dismiss me as well.”
     “I will not!”
     Patterson turned his head. Loring and Browner had already crossed the road. They were scrambling over a rail fence. On the other side, bracing himself, Browner extended a hand to assist the peddler.
     “I admit I cannot carry you. But I will not release you! Let the consequence be what it may,” Mitchell declared.
     They started up again. They advanced no faster than a vigorous walker.
     By now, Revere thought, Sons of Liberty in Concord would be removing the last of the cannon and powder. This time he had not warned them; he was confident that Prescott, or Dawes, had. He had been taken out of it; he would not entertain thoughts of what they might do to him. What that would be he would accept. With dignity. With pride. Rousing the temper of this belligerent officer had given him satisfaction; it would have to be his recompense. Because he had alerted the countryside, because his name inspired anathema throughout General Gage’s cadre, and, most importantly, because he had infuriated this man, nothing, not even the likelihood of capture, would induce the officer to release him.
     He was mistaken.
     A sudden burst of musket fire halted them.
     “What does that mean?!”
     “It’s a single volley. To summon Lexington’s minutemen.”
     The Major slapped his reins against his saddle. Gritting his teeth, he cursed.
     The sergeant controlling Revere’s horse grimaced. Revere saw fear in the soldier’s eyes.
     “How far is it to Cambridge?!”
     “Twenty miles,” Revere exaggerated.
     “Is there another road to Cambridge?!”
     “Then, … be it so!”
     The officer glared at the soldier holding Revere’s reins. “Is your horse tired, sergeant?!”
     “Yes sir, he is.”
     “Then take this man's beast!” he declared. “Take it!” he shouted.
     Averting his face, one of the officers took Revere's reins. The sergeant stripped his own horse. A second officer slapped its rump. Showing no emotion, the first officer ordered Revere to dismount. The sergeant eased himself into Revere’s saddle. His back legs stiffening, the horse, Revere's excellent steed, urinated.
     Major Mitchell’s patrol disappeared.
     Revere did not dwell on his good fortune. He studied the rocky, wooded hillside north of the road. Going in that direction, cutting across the burying ground, he could save fifteen minutes. If Adams and Hancock had not left the Clarke house, he would have something new and amusing to tell!
     Recalling Hancock in robe and slippers wanting Lowell to polish his sword, Revere laughed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Scenes about Paul Revere
"My Name Is Revere"
            “Get off your horse!”
     Revere dismounted. Standing on soft ground, he flexed his knees, arched his back.
     An officer on foot approached. He stopped three feet away, looked Revere over. “Where did you come from?” he asked.
     The officer's eyebrows lifted. “What time did you leave?”
     “10:30, I believe.”
     The officer, approximately Revere’s age, turned his head, squinted at the closest mounted soldier. The soldier nodded some sort of acknowledgement.
     “Are you an express rider, sir?” the officer asked.
     “I am.”
     He frowned. “Sir, I crave your name.”
     “My name is Revere.”
     “What?” The officer’s mouth stayed open. “You are Paul Revere?!”
     The man scowled, pivoted, stalked off to his tended horse. The others, high above Revere, glared.
     “Damn rebel!”
     “Villain! Bloody traitor!”
     “We'll see you hung, you and Adams! And that flash bastard Hancock!”
     “Major Mitchell will have you shot!”
     Revere stared fiercely at his horse’s bridle. The officer on foot, hastily returning, said in a low voice, “You need not be afraid.”
     Revere glared.
     “No one will hurt you.”
     “Gentlemen,” Revere said, addressing the horsemen that had cursed him. “You have missed your aim!”
     They bristled. Barn cocks, he thought.
     One of them said, officiously, “What of our aim?”
     “Our aim is to arrest deserters,” the older officer said. “That is why we stopped you.”
     Revere smiled at the man's duplicity. “I came out of Boston a half hour after your troops had come out of Boston to land at Lechmere's Point,” he said. “I have alarmed the country all the way up. We’ll have 500 men here soon. Your boats have catched aground.”
     “You lie!”
     “We have 1,500 coming!”
     Revere grinned. “If I had not known that other people along the way had been sent out to alarm the country,” and he paused. “If I had not known I had time enough to ride fifty miles,” -- he faced the mounted officer nearest him -- “I would’ve ventured one shot from you before I would’ve suffered you to have stopped me!”
     Curses rained upon him. Dismissing them, he watched the courteous officer pull taut his gloves. The officer mounted. He rode off across the pasture.
     “Captain Cochrane’s getting the Major,” one of Revere's abusers declared, laughing.
     “Bloody good entertainment t’be had, traitor!”
     Two riders returned at a full gallop. Forty feet away, the taller rider, his horse yet in motion, dismounted. Drawing his pistol, he advanced. Revere saw he was the soldier that had threatened him on the road.
     The officer pressed the end of his pistol against Revere's left ear. “You will give me truthful answers or I will blow your brains out!”
     Neck muscles tight, Revere resisted the pressure. “I esteem myself a man of truth and I am not afraid of you!” Heat radiated from his face. “I demand you remove that pistol! By what right is a peaceable citizen detained on this highway?!”
     “The truth, I say, or I’ll scatter your brains on this dirt!”
     The officer applied additional pressure. Revere glowered at a distant tree.
     “You are Paul Revere sent from Boston to alert the provincials. Am I correct?!”
     “You are!”
     “When did you leave Boston?”
     “At 10:30!”
     “And you saw His Majesty's troops leave Boston?” As mercurially as he had brandished it, Mitchell withdrew the pistol.
     “Their boats catched aground.” Mitchell glared at him. “I have roused every minuteman from here to Lexington. Soon you’ll have 500 surrounding you.”
     For ten seconds the officer’s fierce eyes assaulted him. To the closest lieutenant, Mitchell declared, “Search him!”
     Two officers did so. Satisfied that he was not armed, Mitchell ordered the express rider to mount. Drawing his right leg over the horse’s back and saddle, Revere seated himself.
     Mitchell grabbed the bridle. “By God, sir, you do not ride with reins!” He seized them. “Grant, come here!” His face contorting, he whipped the reins into the officer’s reaching hands.
     “If you let me have them, I’ll not attempt to run from you.”
     “I will not! I don’t trust you!”
     Mitchell mounted. To the soldier that had surrendered the reins of Revere's horse, he ordered, “Bring them all out!” He nodded toward the wood.
     The sergeant returned with yet another officer. Walking between them were four county men, each leading a horse. One of them was missing an arm. Ten yards away they were told to mount.
     Mitchell said to Revere: “We will ride now toward your friends. If you attempt to run, or if we are insulted, I will scatter your brains!”
     “You may do as you please!”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scenes about Paul Revere
     The young doctor and Billy Dawes had stopped at the door of another farmhouse. Revere rode contentedly ahead. The stillness, crispness, and clarity of the night braced him. He thought, A city man would do well to take a moonlit ride on such a star-bright, spring night.
     Moon-crafted shadows lay upon the road. High above, tiny beads of light glittered. Revere heard a screech and the flapping of wings. The stillness that ensued seemed otherworldly. He heard faintly the passage of water over rocks.
     Such moments renewed his belief in the Almighty Creator. In six days the Lord had made the world. On the seventh He had rested.
     Man, God’s greatest creation, defiled it. Along this peaceful, illuminated roadway many soldiers would march. Tranquility lost. But not yet. There were moments, he thought, when a man, quite alone, did feel God’s purpose.
     He had stopped his horse at the top of a gentle rise to enjoy the night’s serenity. When he heard the sound of his companions’ horses, he urged his own forward. Having ridden ten rods to a turn in the road, he spied two soldiers on horseback, waiting in the darkness of a large maple.
     This time he was not outnumbered!
     “Dawes! Prescott! Come up! British officers!”
     Mounted soldiers, brandishing pistols, burst forth from shadows behind him!
     Kicking his horse’s sides, shouting, Revere propelled his mount forward.
     “God damn you, stop! If you go an inch farther you are a dead man!” Flanking him, a long-bodied, snarling officer rotated the end of his pistol.
     Revere looked over his right shoulder. Prescott, his whip handle turned about, was rapidly advancing.
     Where was Dawes?
     Seconds later Prescott was abreast of him. Cursing officers, waving swords, accosted them.
     “Into that pasture! Through that space into that pasture!” one of them shouted.
     “Into that pasture now or we will blow your brains out!”
     Revere and Prescott veered through the opening in the rail fence.
     Revere strained to see what lay ahead. Two riders sat motionless under a solitary tree. Beyond appeared to be a dark wood. “Put on!” Prescott shouted. The doctor yanked his horse off course.
     Too late to follow, Revere spurred his horse into a full gallop. If he could but reach the wood! Turning his head, he saw Prescott’s horse leap an obstruction. Prescott’s two pursuers halted.
     The two that had been under the tree were now leading Revere’s chasers. He heard their labored pursuit.
     Just ahead! He searched for an opening where, once within, he would pull up, dismount, and escape on foot. To his dismay out of several openings exited more soldiers! Almost immediately they were about him! He veered away but one, reaching dangerously, seized his horse's bridle. They surrounded him. Stopping him, they aimed their pistols at his breast.
     Placing his hands on his horse’s neck, shutting his eyes, Revere aspirated.
     At least Prescott had escaped.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Scenes about Paul Revere
"Then May I Accompany You?"
     Anticipating better fare at Wright Tavern than Reverend Clarke’s bread and cheese, Revere and Dawes proceeded along the Old Concord road.
     “You or me?” Dawes asked, his close-set eyes, long nose, and grinning mouth presenting a comical look, the rooftop of the house they now approached visible beyond a copse of trees.
     Revere watched Billy Dawes rap on the front door; he heard Dawes shout the alarm to a person at an upstairs window. Much better to share this work, he thought. It made the night seem less perilous. Definitely less lonely. His esteemed friend in Boston would be worrying about them. Here they were, working well together, each beforehand having worked well separately.
     “How far d'you think the redcoats have gotten?” Dawes asked, having returned to the road.
     “What time is it?”
     Dawes removed his watch from his coat pocket. He studied the hands in the moonlight. “'Bout 1:15 a.m.”
     “I would say, … Menotomy.”
     They resumed riding.
     The stillness of the night played upon Revere’s sensibilities. He thought, A blessed tranquility swaddles the land. Weary toiler, rest your head, all is safe. He and Dawes violated that dictum.
     As did another. Dawes heard first the cantering horse.
    “The patrol?”
     “It’s one horse. But be ready.”
     Horse and rider appeared in the bright moonlight. Seeing Revere and Dawes hunched in their saddles, the rider slowed his horse to a walk. He stopped ten feet away.
     “Good evening, gentlemen,” he declared, “or should I say good morning, for it is surely that.”
     Revere nodded. The man was cordial.
     “I’m Doctor Samuel Prescott. On my way home from my fiancĂ©e’s house. Which explains my presence at this hour.” The young man beamed. “And you, gentlemen, if I may be permitted to ask?”
     Grinning, Dawes gave his name.
     Transferring his smile, the doctor regarded Revere.
     The silversmith answered. Prescott’s quick change of expression amused him.
     “I am honored, sir! Indeed, … fortunate! I too am a son of liberty! Though admittedly not … Concord is astir because of you! Of the message you so recently delivered.” Prescott leaned forward. “That I should speak to the man who …” Grinning still, he shook his head. “My betrothed, when she hears me speak, will deem me a prevaricator. Would that I have you hiding behind the door!”
     They laughed. The young doctor was engaging, likable.
     “I’m on my way to Concord, sir,” Doctor Prescott stated. “Are you traveling in that direction?”
     “We’re carrying another message, doctor.” Revere paused. Prescott’s responsive face sobered. Revere lengthened the pause. “The regulars are out.”
     “They might be an hour behind us,” Dawes added quickly. The cordwainer repositioned his large, flapped hat.
     Prescott stared. They watched him swallow, grimace. “I wonder why I’m surprised at this.”
     Wanting the conversation to end but exercising patience, Revere stared at the dark tops of two pines.
     “Then may I accompany you, actually assist you? I’m well known here, as a doctor and a patriot.” Prescott looked down the road, looked back at Revere. “I believe that my words would bring special emphasis to your message.”
     Three express riders, to do the job of one. Amused, Revere thought again of his doctor friend. Joseph would want to know everything about this fine young man. “By all means, doctor,” he said, knowing Prescott’s request wanted immediate acceptance. “We welcome your company. But I must warn you. Our work entails risk.” He paused, to elicit a more intense reaction. “Somewhere ahead of us we may yet encounter a British patrol. You accompany us … at your peril.”
     Irises centered, Prescott nodded.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Scenes about Paul Revere

"The Man That Had Made Too Much Noise"

     The militiaman nearest him straightened, raised his musket. “A horse is comin'.”
     Munroe heard it, too, the unmistakable sound of shod hooves striking road.
     “Comin' from the Common,” the militiaman said.
     “Could be from Captain Parker,” a man farther away said. “Maybe them redcoats are lookin' for trouble after all.”
     “Hide yourselves!” Munroe ordered. Crouched behind the maple tree’s thick trunk, Munroe blinked rapidly at the road.
     He saw the single horseman. The large-sized man directed his mount into the very yard! Leveling his musket, Munroe stepped forth.
     Seeing Munroe, the rider swung decisively out of the saddle. “Put that firearm away!” he shouted.
     “Keep your voice down.”
     “I will speak with Mr. Adams and Mr. Hancock at once!” The stranger gave Munroe a smoldering look.
     “No, by God, you will not!” The impertinence! He would be deciding what happened here!
     “Let me pass!” The intruder glowered. “Their lives are in danger!”
     “We know that!”
     It occurred to Munroe that the rider, a servant or hostler, had been sent by another member of the Congress. With old news. He would now have to suffer the man’s explanation, before sending him off. But, first, Munroe would have this puffed up messenger know who issued the orders here!
     “I won't let you in! The family has retired! Say what you've t'say t’me. And keep your voice down. They don't want t'be disturbed by any noise.”
     The rider's teeth glinted in the moonlight. “Noise! You'll have noise enough! The regulars are coming out! Here, tend this!” He handed the militiaman standing next to Munroe his reins. Taking long strides, he reached the front door. He pounded on it.
     Munroe grabbed the intruder’s right shoulder. “I said not t'disturb them!”
     A window opened. Reverend Clarke’s large head protruded. “What’s happening out there?!” the minister demanded.
     “I must see John Hancock at once! Let me in!”
     The clergyman stared at the messenger. “I don't know you,” he said. “I will not admit strangers to this house at this time of night without knowing who they are and what they want!”
     Another window opened. John Hancock’s hostile expression vanished. “Do come in, Revere,” the rich merchant declared, almost laughing. “We’re not afraid of you.”
     Will Munroe’s face burned. A tingling sensation sped across his shoulder blades, coursed up his neck bone. He had argued with Paul Revere! As important a patriot, nearly, as the two at the windows. And Mr. Adams, inside. Worse, he had embarrassed himself! In front of his own guard! He'd be the butt of jokes, in his own tavern, for weeks!
     Well, he’d have to live with it, wouldn’t he? For awhile. Even though everybody knew he didn’t suffer any man’s ridicule! Few tried! This, however -- damned humilitating, cursed unfair -- he’d have to bear!
     It wouldn’t matter that he had had every reason for behaving the way he had. He had not been at fault! Revere hadn’t identified himself! The trouble had been Revere's doing. A name. All he had needed from Revere was his name!
     It occurred to him what Revere’s appearance meant. The officers that Solomon Browner had seen had been a reconnaissance patrol. Gage’s regulars were marching! Whatever Paul Revere was about to say he should be hearing! All of which he would be needing to tell Captain Parker. Something definite would then be done, with nobody thinking to have fun at his expense!
     Uninvited, he passed through the front entrance, following after the man that had made too much noise.