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.