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.