The entire family stared as Uncle Samuel staggered toward the inn.
Then Mother came to her senses. “Quick! Stop him before the Redcoats see! He looks badly hurt. I’ll get bandages and water! Maybe you can get him to the barn, and out of sight!”
They all hurried to their various errands. Papa ran out the back door to keep Uncle Samuel from walking straight into the enemy’s hands. Sadie sped back to her hiding place, and looked through the knothole, praying frantically that Billy would be successful.
Suddenly, several men caused a distraction. Soldiers she hadn’t seen before were bringing in two more, who were wounded. Someone was bellowing, “help us! You care more about your stomachs then our hurt men!”
The commander jumped up in agreement. Billy entered the room just as most of the soldiers had gathered around to help tend the men’s wounds.
“Come on, give them something to eat! They’ll be all right but we need to get some food into them.”
In all the commotion, Billy whisked the rolled map under his jacket, and headed out of the room. “I’ll get some stew and biscuits,” he offered loudly and made his escape.
A few minutes later, Sadie found Billy and Mother in the kitchen examining the map.
“There’s so much information,” said Billy. “We can’t possibly remember it all.”
“You’ve got to get it back. They’ll tear the inn apart looking for it—and maybe hurt somebody,” said Mother. “Just memorize what’s most important. Where the ambush will take place….”
“Wait!” Billy dashed into the outer room, and grabbed a sheet of thick paper from Papa’s desk. He took up quill and ink and rushed back. Spreading the paper on a table, he started drawing.
Sadie paused. She always loved to watch him. He was very good at drawing pictures, and his father had been a mapmaker. As a little boy, Billy had often sat beside him, drawing pirate maps. He seemed to have a knack for it himself.
“Make sure it’s accurate,” warned Mother, “or we might as well not do it. Lives will be lost.”
But Billy’s strokes were quick and sure. He concentrated on the marked places, and in less than five minutes, the paper was covered with important information.
“Go on!” urged Mother, “Before they discover it’s missing!”
He hurriedly rolled up the map, and hid it under his jacket. Sadie had the tray of soup and biscuits ready. He grabbed it up.
She hurried back to her cubbyhole once again. She was just in time to see the room in an uproar.
One of the hurt men had fainted, and the soldiers were trying to arouse him. Plus, the commander and his assistant were in a panic.
“It was right here, sir!”
“You’ll pay for this!” the commander roared. “It was your responsibility!”
Sadie watched breathlessly as her cousin arrived on the scene.
“Stew here! “Billy called cheerfully. “Oh, isn’t he well? Doesn’t he want his stew?”
But the man was coming around. The commander was distracted for a moment as they tried to feed him. Billy dropped the rolled map under the table, and in a swift motion arranged the draping tablecloth so the end of the map could be seen.
“Anything else, sir?” he asked congenially.
“Just leave us!”
“Yes, sir. Whatever you say. But we’ve got some nice apple pie, sir.”
“Get out! No wait! Search him!”
“Here it is, sir,” came the assistant’s voice quietly. “All’s well. It rolled under the table.”
The commander relaxed. “You may go. Bring some bandages and medicine. And all right, some of that apple pie.”
“We have no medicine, but we have bandages aplenty, sir.”
Sadie grinned again. Billy wasn’t about to waste good medicine on a Redcoat. Not unless he was actually dying. They were good Christian people so of course they would save a dying man, British or not. But Billy wasn’t lying. The little medicine they did have was being used for Uncle Samuel as they spoke.
Finally, all together back in the kitchen, they made plans. Sadie had stayed for some time in her hiding place, but no further information was forthcoming. Uncle Samuel was badly wounded, but patched up and resting in the haymow. He had news of his own about the ambush, and a great passion to get on with delivering a message of warning to the troops. Unfortunately he was too weak to even climb the ladder, let alone ride a horse. It had been necessary for Papa to carry him up to his hiding place.
“I’ll ride at once to warn them,” Papa was saying. “Good work, Sadie. Go on up and clean the rooms now. We want to act as if all is normal, and we’ve got other guests to attend to. You too, Billy. You’d do better as a map maker for our army rather than waiting on tables, but maybe that will come later. Go on now. They’ll be suspicious with us all huddled in here.”
As Sadie climbed the wooden stairs to prepare the rooms, she wished she had said a better goodbye to her father. He was going on a dangerous mission. But upon entering a bedroom and glancing out the open window, she froze in horror.
Papa hadn’t gotten far. He’d managed to make it to the barn and get his horse saddled, but as he brought it out and mounted, several Redcoats surrounded him!
To be continued….
By Carol Bennett