The Path to Free­dom

Chap­ter Three: To Fol­low the Gun

The Denver Post - - COLORADO KIDS -

(Luke Van Gelder has vol­un­teered to come along as a wag­oner with the New York mili­tia as they pre­pare to face the Bri­tish army un­der Gen­eral Bur­goyne.)

“Start fill­ing tote sacks with oats and put them in the wagon,” Father said, as the mili­ti­a­men left the clear­ing and headed for the next cabin. “Start with half a dozen. That’ll leave plenty for the cow. You’ll need to gather up some leather straps and the har­ness tools, too.”

“I’ll get your kit to­gether in­side,” Luke’s mother said. “An ex­tra pair of clothes so you’ll have some­thing dry to change into.” She looked at what he had on. “I wish I had time to wash those.” “My Sun­day clothes?” Luke asked, and his father laughed. “We’ll still be out there Sun­day, and a few Sun­days af­ter,” he said. “How many pigs did you see?”

“Three. I don’t know what hap­pened to the fourth,” Luke said. “He wasn’t just lag­ging be­hind.”

“The way things are, we’ll be lucky to get any of them for our­selves,” he said. “I just hope the sow is smart enough to live through it all. What the Tories don’t steal, our own side will.” “I’m com­ing, too,” Sylvie said sud­denly.

Her father started to protest, but she added. “If Luke is 16, that makes me 18. I’m old enough to cook and mend and wash for you.”

Then, to Sylvie’s sur­prise, her mother spoke up to agree with her: “The girl is right, John. She’s old enough even at an hon­est 16. Good­ness knows, there are girls her age mar­ried with their own homes, and you’ll need some­one to do for you out there.”

John looked at his daugh­ter for a mo­ment.

“All right,” he agreed, fi­nally, “but not now, not this trip. Later, when we march off with the army. This will just be a work de­tail.”

“And you want to sit in wet clothes and eat cold food?” his wife asked, to which he laughed.

“All right, Sylvie,” he said. “Gather up what you need, but don’t bring the whole kitchen. You’ll have to make do with what trav­els fast and what your mother can spare.”

He turned back to Luke. “Bet­ter bring that tar­pau­lin that’s up in the hayloft,” he said. “We’ll need to make a lean-to for Her Lady­ship.”

“I should think so,” his wife said. “One of you at least should have the sense to come in out of the rain.”

“You young folks get to work, then,” John said. “Your grand­fa­ther and I are go­ing to go rob a few gears out of the sawmill and tuck them away up in the woods. The Tories may come steal our pigs, but they’ll saw no lum­ber at our mill.”

It was barely dawn the next morn­ing when John, Luke and Sylvie pre­pared to lead the horses and wagon off down the Fort Ann road.

Their mother, Opa and the two lit­tle ones, Gabriel and Beatrix, stood in the door­yard as they loaded their per­sonal gear into the cart. John reached up and stretched the tar­pau­lin over the oats, the freshly sharp­ened axes and his gun, to pro­tect them from the light, misty rain that drifted down.

“We’ll try to come back be­fore we march off for the long haul,” he promised, “but, if we can’t, you’ll get word from the other fam­i­lies.”

He turned to his father-in-law, “And if things be­come dan­ger­ous, don’t you wait around, ei­ther. If you need to go down to your brother’s in Sch­enec­daty, just go. Leave a note if you can, but we’ll know where you’ve gone if we find an empty house.”

Luke clicked with his tongue and David and Jonathan leaned into their har­ness and started the wagon for­ward.

John turned back for one more word.

“And re­mem­ber what the lieu­tenant said about go­ing into the woods alone,” he warned. “Stay close. Bur­goyne’s Hurons won’t likely bother you around the house, but a lone per­son in the woods might be too much of a temp­ta­tion.”

They walked along be­side the wagon un­til the house was out of sight, and then Sylvie spoke up.

“They’re in more dan­ger than we are, aren’t they?” she asked. “We’ll be sur­rounded by mili­tia. They’re back there all alone.”

“Your grand­fa­ther is very wise,” her father as­sured her. “He kept that lit­tle house safe through the last war, and it was no more pleas­ant than this one. If he needs to take every­one away, he’ll do that. If not, we’ll see them all back there when it’s over.”

The way dipped down, and Luke started to guide the horses to the right, but, even without an or­der, David edged over onto the cor­duroy, the long line of nar­row logs that made a wooden road across the mud, just wide enough for the horses and the cart’s two wheels.

John and Sylvie dropped back to walk be­hind the wagon, but Luke had to walk along­side the horses, the mud suck­ing at his feet with ev­ery step.

“We’ll be tak­ing this up on the way back,” he called to his father.

“Ev­ery stick of it,” John agreed. “Let Bur­goyne drag his can­nons through the muck and see how much they weigh then!”

Luke pointed at a lit­tle rill of wa­ter that ran down the hill­side to­ward them. “I’ll bet there are beaver dams up these streams,” he said. “We can cut into them and let their wa­ter flow down here, too.”

His father laughed. “I don’t think war is sup­posed to be as much fun as you’re plan­ning to have,” he an­swered back.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.