Sadie and Rose Anne crossed the barnyard, carrying the captain’s supper. The guard unlocked the door of the little shed, and they delivered the food. Sadie had hoped they would be allowed to stay a few minutes and visit with the man accused of “treason” but they were quickly shooed away.
A message had been sent to British headquarters, and another to the Americans.
“Will they have the trial here?” asked one little girl.
“No—the British will haul them both off to prison,” said another.
The older girls just shook their heads in despair as they did their chores. Sadie helped wipe the dishes, then went out to the barn to care for her horse.
She sadly told Red Wind all about it, and he nodded, and snorted as if he really understood. She knew he at least sensed how disturbed she felt.
The only good news was that Jared, the captain’s wounded brother, had rallied after a shot of penicillin to slow the infection. As the hours passed, Miss Penelope assured them all that he would live.
Papa was not under arrest for he had only been helping a fellow colonist.
“We’ll stay overnight though, to see how it all turns out,” he told Sadie. He prayed long into the night with Miss Penelope and Grandfather.
Sadie finally dropped off to sleep. She was in with the older girls, and they’d spent some time in prayer themselves. They all rather liked the captain in spite of the fact that he was the enemy.
It was often said that things worked very slowly in the army, but it seemed that this turn of events was moving along extremely quickly. Papa wasn’t sure if it was good or bad that the representatives from both armies arrived the next day.
“I don’t understand why he would be executed. They’re brothers,” wailed Sadie. She had heard of such things, of course, but to actually see it happening….
“The rules are very clear,” said Papa. “corroborating with the enemy—anyone—family or not—is punishable by death.”
“But that’s so unfair when they’re brothers!”
The American general was sent by Washington, and had the power of the great man behind him.
He had already declared Jared totally free from conviction. He stayed to hear what was going to happen to the captain and, Grandfather told the girls, it seemed that he was going to speak on Thomas’ behalf.
He was a tall man, dark and kindly though it was obvious he could be stern if he wanted to. They also realized something else. He seemed to know the gruff, middle aged British officer who was in charge of the captain’s case. Perhaps that was why he had been sent by Washington. He smiled and joked a bit, but got nothing for his trouble. Finally he said, “oh come now, Frederick. We were friends a long time. What if it was us? In spite of rules, we have the power to solve this thing.”
But General Hamilton didn’t meet his eyes. “Cornwallis said….”
“They gave us the authority to decide. Really Fredrick….”
“Let’s just get this business done,” said the British officer, gruffly.
The older girls were listening outside the door, some of the others hanging over the upstairs railing breathlessly.
The captain was brought in, a bit bedraggled from his night in the shed. General Hamilton frowned in great disdain. “Thomas. I never would have thought it of you.”
The captain merely gazed pointedly at his brother, who had insisted on being there.
“Well,” Hamilton blustered. “Let’s get on with it.”
There wasn’t much to say. Everyone knew why this sterling British captain had stooped to help one of these “low down, dirty colonists” so there was nothing left but the decision. Would he be taken to trial, or executed right here?
General Hamilton accused the American general of butting in on something that was not his affair, but he finally agreed to speak with his former friend privately. When they returned to the parlor sometime later, General Hamilton had mellowed considerably. It was the American who did the talking.
“Do you have anything to say, Jared, on behalf of your brother?”
“Only that Mother is ill, sir. That is the truth. All I can say is that his execution would ….” He didn’t finish.
“If she is so ill, then I suppose she would like to see you both.” He glanced at his friend across the table. “Suppose we get Thomas out of this country where he’s causing so much trouble, mingling with the enemy.” He sobered. “I think there’s enough mothers who have lost their sons. I believe you, Jared, should go home, as well—to England, I mean— and see your mother.”
He turned to Miss Penelope. “Is he up to a sea voyage?”
“Yes sir, he’s on the mend—with proper rest and care.”
Captain Hamilton took over, facing Thomas. “So you are charged and found guilty of collaborating with the enemy. You are banned from the country for the duration of the war. We will escort you both to a ship in New Jersey. I daresay a dishonorable discharge is better than the alternative.”
“I daresay his mother won’t care whether it’s dishonorable or not as long as he’s home safely,” put in the American general.
“Thank you, sir.” This from Thomas.
“And,” the American general gazed pointedly at his British counterpart, “we proclaim this a legal military hospital.”
“All right, all right.” Hamilton conceded.
“Thank you, sir,” said Miss Penelope. “We’ll bring them down from the attic then. It will be much easier for all of us.”
“And these?” General Hamilton gestured at Papa and Sadie, “who are they?”
“The first trip, Sadie brought me medical supplies and books. And she took an infant for whom we had little milk because your soldiers confiscated our cow. This trip they brought food, and are taking the child’s sister back to live with them.”
The British officer blustered a bit more, but finally conceded that as well.
The American general took his leave, and the Englishman went out to look over the men. The captain would be allowed to stay in the bedroom with his brother rather than the shed. When they were all alone, they breathed sighs of relief.
“A miracle of God,” exulted Jared. “This is nearly unheard of.”
“It is indeed. Our prayers were answered,” said Grandfather.
Thomas looked around at them all. “We have another matter to decide. You say Jared’s friend has died. It seems that those of us in this room are the only ones who know of the gold. So, who does it belong to—the British or the Americans? Or shall we give it back to the Spanish pirates….” He smiled broadly.
“You’ve come up with a solution?” asked Jared. “You usually do.”
“I believe the easiest thing is to leave it right where it is.”
“No. Let it be used for orphans and the wounded. It seems to be in a good hiding place, and if Miss Penelope spends it until it’s gone, who would be the wiser?”
Jared grinned. “He’s the oldest, and he always did seem to have an answer to any problem. They were not always such good answers. Perhaps you’ll have a wounded British soldier pass this way from time to time, and you’ll let him have some benefit from it.”
“Gladly,” beamed Miss Penelope. “Though I’m happy I’m not officially in the army, and will be in no danger of being shot for collaborating with the enemy.”
“And I do believe this company of soldiers will be moving on soon. I’m sure you’ll be happy to be left alone.” Thomas started to help his brother out of the room and up the stairs, but he suddenly turned back.
“Ma’am, perhaps—I will accompany my brother back to help farm his land—after this wretched war is over.”
Miss Penelope’s eyes showed a tiny spark of interest.
“Then perhaps we will meet again, sir.”
Rose Anne’s eyebrows lifted and she glanced at Sadie, who grinned.…
Once again, they were heading out. Red Wind and Brown Betty were stamping their hooves, eager to be on their way. Sadie and Rose Anne waved to the group of girls and wounded soldiers who stood at the front of the house, seeing them off.
“We’ll come back in the spring with some seed, and do some planting,” Papa told Rose Anne. “Perhaps some of these men will be up and about and able to help. You can bring Gracie and visit for a while.”
They rounded the pond and soon passed the trail into the woods where right now Miss Penelope, and Charlotte, and Rebecca were bringing up several bags of gold, carefully concealed.
Then Grandfather would travel to an undisclosed location to buy medicine, food, and bandages—and now they could afford to even bring a doctor back.
The inn was busier than ever, and becoming more prosperous. Papa had more money which he put to good use.
It seemed to have become a household full of joy and laughter. Rose Anne worked hard, but was happy and cheerful. The baby filled their lives with fun.
Then one day there was yet another surprise.
“Billy!” exclaimed Sadie, noticing someone sneaking up on them at the back door.
He pounced and gave her a big bear hug, then gaped questioningly at the baby and Rose Anne “What’s all this?”
“New cousins,” exclaimed Sadie. “Now you must tell us everything you’ve been doing, and all about the war!”
Mother, coming in from the main room just then, interrupted. “We missed you! And those first few months were hard after you left, Billy, but God has blessed us.” She held out her hands to joyfully include her new children. Then she gave him a hug. “It’s good to see you, nephew. What brings you here? ”
“Just a visit on my way north, and to warn you. One of your old friends may be back. And he doesn’t like this inn very much.” Billy looked at Rose Anne and grinned. “I guess I’ll have to depend on you to keep these three safe. They do seem to get into a lot of trouble….”
Mother gave him a swat, before urging him to sit down and eat.
Sadie headed out to find Papa so they could hear his news. Whatever it was, as always, they would deal with it together, with God’s help.