Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Tied Tightly with Hope"
Pages 342-344
 

            Substituting for William Munroe -- a man with a deformed leg could still mix and tally drinks if he could sit awhile -- forty-three year old John Raymond hadn’t worried much about the soldiers returning. Hearing the redcoats were just about done in, being chased by a thousand militiamen, being shot at from every direction, what lobsterback would want to be stopping by for a tankard of ale? Dozens of militiamen would be doing just that, after the redcoats had been sent bleating and bawling back to Menotomy!
     He’d been wrong!
     Who would have predicted that an army straight from Boston, not the regulars leaving Concord, would arrive first?! Who could have imagined its commander making this tavern his headquarters?! Who would have thought these drinks he was mixing would be for the gratification of hordes of cutthroats?!
     It was their look much more than their hard words that frightened him. He knew what they had in store for him once they had had their fill of ale, flip, and hot toddies!
     That wasn’t going to happen! The first chance he had he would bolt out the back door. Get to the birch trees by the creek. He would have to cover a hundred feet of open ground, maybe too far! But then, because they were bone-weary and damn thirsty, and he was just one man, a cripple, having done them a service, they might just say, being he was already gone, “T’hell with the bugger!”
     Reaching the trees would be the first part. He’d have to get well past them. If he didn’t, it would be just his run of luck that some bloody redcoat, done emptying his bladder, would come pushing his way through bramble and discover him!
     Hope. Getting to the trees, finding a hiding place, getting rescued: all of it was wrapped all around and tied tightly with hope!
     When the time is right, you must do it!
     Ten minutes passed.
      Four regulars entered the tap room half-carrying two bloodied soldiers.
     “Lay ‘em down here,” Raymond said, pointing to that part of the room closest to the back exit. “I’ll just go push away these two tables.”
     “Shut yer flamin’ butt hole!” one of the soldiers assisting the two shouted.
     “Piss-mouthed gammer!” a second one snarled. “Y’naught be tellin’ us what t’do!”
     “Get o’r here!” yelled a red-faced lieutenant from the far end of the counter. “You’ll be fixin’ us drinks! Nothing more!”
     Every bloodyback villain was staring at him!
     He pointed toward the front door. “Look! More of your wounded! A major!”
     They turned. Raymond shoved open the back door.
     He was cut down twenty feet short of the trees. No one knew whose ball had been true. The burliest of the three, bothering to walk the distance, speared the writhing bartender with his bayonet.
      
 
     “It's gone through the bone. It’s lodged inside the skin.” The 43rd Regiment surgeon's mate, Mr. Simes, withdrew his bloodstained hands from Jeremy Lister's right arm. “Good time t’remove it, before we get t’ Menotomy.”
     Lister thought about it.
     “You'll be more ‘n’ some weak, but better t‘ave it out.”
     “How much will it hurt?” Feeling faint, the young ensign reached back with his left hand to locate the closest table.
     “Bloody ‘ell fire. Be less after it's out.”
     Finding the table, Lister sat. Staring at his dangling arm, he expelled air. “How deep will y’ave t’cut?”
     Simes shook his head, revealed a gap-toothed mouth. “I'll be getting’ the ball out easy enough. The arm won't be much good t’you though. Learn t’eat left ‘anded.”
     “Could have been worse,” Lister muttered. No, if he hadn’t been so bloody curious about seeing what the river crossing was about, this wouldn’t have happened!
     “I've got others t’tend. Make up yer mind.”
     Lister sighed. Tightening his lips, he nodded.
     Simes looked through the doorway into one of the tavern’s back rooms. “I'll do it on that table,” he said, gesturing.