The Dare Boys of 1776
Stephen Angus Cox
Illustrations by R. Mencl
New York The Platt & Peck Co.
Copyright 1910 by The A. L. Chatterton Co.
I. The Clang of the Liberty Bell II. Waylaid on the Road III. Ben Foster Brings Important News IV. A Night Attack V. The Dare Boys in New York VI. Chosen for Dangerous Work VII. Dick's First Adventure VIII. Tom Dare Acts IX. The Brothers Together X. In the Enemy's Camp XI. Tom in Trouble XII. Dick Does Wonderful Work XIII. General Washington is Pleased XIV. The Haunted House XV. Dick Again Does Spy-Work XVI. The Battle of Long Island
The Clang of the Liberty Bell
It was the fourth day of July of the year 1776. There was great excitement in all of the colonies of America at that time, for on this day the representatives of the people, gathered together in the city of Philadelphia, were to decide whether the Declaration of Independence, already drawn up, should be adopted and signed. In Philadelphia, as may well be supposed, the excitement was so intense that the people suspended business. They thronged the streets, walking up and down, talking excitedly, and waiting, waiting for the decision to be made, the determination that would mean so much to them.
The people talked and gesticulated, and there was considerable arguing, some contending that the Declaration of Independence would be adopted and signed, others that it would not.
"Look, here it is almost evening," contended one of these latter, "and nothing has been done yet. If they were going to adopt the Declaration it would have been done before this. The delay means that it will not be done."
"They are taking their time to it, that is all," replied the others. "It is a most serious matter and not to be taken up hastily and without due thought. They will adopt and sign the Declaration of Independence before the day is gone, see if they don't!"
Dick and Tom Dare, two patriot youths, brothers, from about three miles over in New Jersey, who had come to the city to hear the news, listening eagerly, were thrilled by the excitement and interest shown on every side.
"Oh, I hope they will adopt the Declaration of Independence, Dick!" said Tom. "I'm sure they will, aren't you?"
"I think they will, Tom. I hope so."
"Bah, they won't do nothin' uv the kind, Dick Dare!" cried a sneering voice at their side, and turning, the Dare youths saw Zeke Boggs and Lem Hicks, the sons of two Tory neighbors, standing there.
"Uv course they won't," added Lem Hicks. "They don't darst. They know that ef they do, they'll git into trouble with King George. They won't ring no old Liberty Bell to-day."
"Well, they just will!" cried Tom Dare, who was an excitable, impulsive youth. "They'll ring it pretty soon, Lem Hicks, and they aren't afraid of your old king, not a bit of it!"
"What's thet! Don't ye dare speak disrespectfully uv the king!" snarled Zeke Boggs, making a threatening motion with his fist. "Ef ye do, why et'll be the worse fur ye, that's all."
Instantly Dick Dare, who was the elder of the brothers, a handsome, manly youth of eighteen years, seized Zeke by the wrist, and pushed him back, at the same time saying quietly, yet firmly:
"That will do, Zeke. Don't go making any threats. You and Lem go about your business, and don't interfere with Tom and I."
"We'll go where we please," snarled Zeke, who was a vicious youth of about Dick's age, as was Lem Hicks also. "An' we'll stay heer ef we want to, too, Dick Dare, an' ye can't he'p yerself."
"That's all right," calmly; "you can stay here, I suppose, if you want to, but you will have to behave yourselves and attend to your own business. If you try to interfere with Tom and I, or to bully us, you will wish you hadn't stayed."
"Is thet so?" sneeringly. "Whut'll ye do, Dick Dare, hey?"
"Yes, whut'll ye do?" cried Lem Hicks, pushing forward and facing Dick.
Tom confronted him quickly, and met his angry glare unflinchingly. Tom was only sixteen years of age, but he was well-built and athletic for his age, and was moreover as brave as a lion, though somewhat quick-tempered and impulsive. He put out his left hand and, placing it against Lem's chest, pushed him back.
"Hold on, Lem Hicks," he said. "Just you stand back. One at a time talking with Dick is enough. You talk to me, if you want to talk to anybody."
Lem Hicks was a hot-tempered youth also, and suddenly his rage flared to the surface. He didn't relish being pushed back by Tom, and quick as a flash, he gave the patriot youth a smart slap on the cheek.
"That thet, an' l'arn to keep yer han's offen people!" he snarled.
The blow was with the flat of the hand, and while it smarted, it did not hurt much to speak of, but it was sufficient to start impulsive Tom Dare into action, and quick as a flash out shot his fist. It caught Lem Hicks between the eyes and knocked him down flat on his back.
"There, see how you like that!" exclaimed Tom, his eyes flashing. "I guess that next time you'll think once or twice before you slap me in the face!"
With an angry exclamation, Zeke Boggs struck at Dick Dare, but that youth was on his guard, and he warded the blow off, and striking out himself, landed a blow on Zeke's jaw, downing him as neatly as had been the case with Hicks.
Instantly a crowd gathered, many eagerly asking what the trouble was about. Dick and Tom explained that the two youths who had been floored were Tories, and the sympathies of the crowd were at once with Dick and Tom, more especially when they learned that the Tory boys had picked the quarrel with the patriots.
"You did just right in knocking them down!" was the cry, and so hostile were the looks, actions and words of the crowd, that Zeke and Lem on scrambling to their feet, did not renew the fight. They shook their fists at Dick and Tom, however, and muttered threats, as they moved away through the crowd declaring that they would get even with Dick and Tom.
The patriot youths received the congratulations and commendations of the people in their vicinity with becoming modesty, and a little later moved on up the street.
They walked about for an hour or more, after that, and then took up their station as near the old State House as they could. There was such an immense crowd there that it was impossible to get within half a block of the building. In the steeple of the State House was a bell, and the old bell-ringer sat beside it, waiting for the moment when his son, stationed below, should give him word that the Declaration had been adopted, when he would ring the bell. He had been stationed there since morning, waiting, waiting, and as the day wore away and still the word to ring came not, he shook his head and muttered that they would never reach a favorable conclusion.
But he was mistaken, for when evening was almost at hand, his son came rushing out of the State House and called up eagerly and excitedly:
"They've done it, father! They've adopted and signed the Declaration of Independence! Ring the bell! Ring it, father! Ring the bell! Ring it—quick!"
With a glad cry, the old man leaped up, forgetting his rheumatism in his excitement and delight, and seizing the great iron clapper, swung it back and forth against the sides of the great brass bell, thus causing it to do what by a strange coincidence the inscription on its side said it was to do, viz.: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
Waylaid on the Road
As the deep tones of the old bell died away on the evening air a great shout of delight went up from the people on the streets. They leaped and danced for joy. They tossed their hats in the air. They shouted and sang. Many wept for joy. It was an exciting, a thrilling manifestation.
Dick and Tom Dare were not a whit behind any in their expressions of delight. They shouted for joy, and then in the excess of their happiness they threw their arms around each other in a bearlike hug.
"Oh, Dick, I'm so glad!" cried Tom. "I never was so happy in my life."
"Nor I, Tom. This is the most joyous hour of my life! How delighted father will be when we go home and tell him that it is settled, that the Declaration of Independence is a real and determined fact!"
"It will please him more than anything else in the world, Dick."
"Yes, yes indeed."
Then lifting up his voice the patriot youth cried out loudly, his voice ringing clear as the notes of a bugle:
"Down with the king! Long live Liberty! Long live Washington!"
The excitement was even greater after that, and instantly the cry was taken up on every hand. Thousands shouted aloud, in a thrilling, triumphant roar: "Down with the king! Long live Liberty! Long live Washington!"
People leaped and danced, and shouted till they were hoarse. They were like crazy people, but with them it was pure joy because of the thought that they were to be free, to be their own masters, independent of a tyrannical king. They had reason to be joyous and happy.
It was certainly a great day for the American people-without doubt the greatest in the history of the greatest country on the face of the Globe.
After awhile, when the people had calmed down to a considerable extent and were beginning to disperse to their homes, Dick and Tom Dare set their faces homeward. They were soon at the river, and crossing on the ferry, walked swiftly along the road. They were eager to get back and tell their father the glad, the glorious news.
Part of the way the road led through a heavy growth of timber, and as Dick and Tom were making their way past this point, talking enthusiastically of what they had seen in the city, and never thinking that danger might lurk near, they were suddenly set upon by four youths of about their own age-no others, in fact, than Zeke Boggs, Lem Hicks and two other Tory sympathisers of the neighborhood.
"We told ye we'd git even with ye!" hissed Zeke Boggs, as they hurled themselves upon Dick and Tom. "Ye thought ye was mighty smart, there in Phillydelphy, with ever'buddy on yer side an' ag'in us, but heer its different an' we'll beat ye till ye'll wish ye had never been born! Go fur 'em, fellers!" this last to his companions.
The two patriot youths, although taken by surprise, and outnumbered two to one, were yet not dismayed, for they were brave lads, and they fought the Tory youths with all their might, so fiercely, in fact, that they held their own remarkably well. They knocked down each of the four young Tories, and gave them a thumping that they would likely remember for some time. Of course, they got hit a number of times by the youths, but they did not mind it, the smart of the blows only serving to make them settle down to their work with increased vim and determination, and the result was that the Tory ruffians presently got enough of it, and suddenly ceasing the attack and dashing in among the trees at the roadside, disappeared from view, leaving Dick and Tom Dare masters of the situation.
"Phew, that was warm work, Dick!" said Tom, wiping his perspiring face with his handkerchief.
"Yes, so it was, Tom," replied his brother. "But I believe that we made it warmer for Zeke and his gang than they did for us."
"Yes, I think we did," with a chuckle. "Say, Dick, they are better runners than fighters, aren't they!"
"I think they are, Tom. They did some lively sprinting, just now, at any rate."
"I guess they won't be likely to attack us again, soon."
Dick and Tom now resumed their journey homeward, and reached there about half an hour later. It was still light enough to see their father at work in the backyard, as they entered the front gate. They ran around the house at the top of their speed, to halt a few moments later in front of their father.
"They did it, father!" exclaimed Tom, pantingly. "They adopted and signed the Declaration of Independence."
"Say you so, my son?" exclaimed Mr. Dare joyously. "Well, heaven be praised! I am glad, my sons; yes, very, very glad! It means much to everybody, and to young people like yourselves more than to older ones, for you have practically the whole of your lives before you, while we older people have already lived the greater portion of the time allotted to us."
"It was wonderful, the interest and excitement shown by the people in Philadelphia, father!" said Dick. "They were wild with delight."
"I have no doubt of it, my son. And they had reason to be delighted. It is a great thing to feel free and independent. I feel wonderfully relieved already. I feel as if shackles had suddenly been stricken from my limbs, and I have no doubt that is the way the majority of the people look at the matter, so why should they not feel joyous?"
The three then entered the house, Mr. Dare having finished his work for the evening, and Mrs. Dare greeted her sons affectionately.
"The Declaration of Independence has been adopted, wife," said Mr. Dare, joyously. "The die is cast. There will be war now, undoubtedly, and it will result in the independence of the people of America. It cannot result otherwise, for the people will fight to the death. In the words of Patrick Henry, it will be with them, 'Give me liberty, or give me death!'"
"I am glad, Henry," said Mrs. Dare. "I am glad, and almost sorry, as well, for-I am afraid it will take you from me. You will want to enter the army, I am afraid."
"Oh, I must do so, wife," earnestly. "Every man should step to the front and shoulder a musket and fight for liberty. Yes, I must go to the war, mother. I must join the Continental Army at once."
"I feared it," sighed the woman. "But, I shall try to be brave and bear up well, for I know that it is the right thing for you to do. I would not want you to stay at home, when you were needed at the front to help fight the minions of King George."
"Spoken like my own true-hearted wife!" said Mr. Dare. "I knew you would look at the matter that way, dear."
At this moment there came a knock on the back-door, and when Mrs. Dare opened it, she saw a neighbor, Abe Boggs, the father of Zeke, standing there. This man was an avowed Tory, who was vehement in his declarations of allegiance to the king, and who had been heard often to viciously proclaim that all who were not in favor of the king, were traitors and that they ought to be hung. Knowing this, and instinctively disliking the man because she knew he was vicious and bad, Mrs. Dare's heart sank when she saw who was standing there.
The fact was, that the Dares lived right in the midst of a Tory neighborhood; that is the six or seven nearest neighbors were adherents of the king, and they neighbored among themselves, and would not have anything to do with the Dares. This did not bother the patriot family, however, for they did not like the Tory families anyway. Mr. Dare often met one or more of the men, when going about his work, however, and frequently he had arguments with them. As he was a brave man, and frank-spoken as he was brave, he always told the Tories just what he thought of their king, and thus he had angered them many times, and they had learned to hate him. Only his fearlessness, and the fact that he was known to be a dangerous man to interfere with, had saved him from rough treatment at the hands of the Tories.
"Good evenin', Mrs. Dare," said Boggs, ducking his head. "Tell yer husban' to come out here; we'd like to see 'im."
Mrs. Dare glanced out into the yard, and her heart gave a leap, and then sank as she saw several of their Tory neighbors sanding in a group a few yards from the house. She noted, with a feeling of fear gripping her heart, that two or three of them had rifles in their hands.
"W-what do you want, Mr. Boggs?" she asked, her voice trembling. "My husband is here, but-but-we were just going to eat supper, and—"
"Supper can wait a few minutes, wife," said Mr. Dare. "I'll see what neighbor Boggs wants. Won't you come in, Abe?"
"No, we wanter see ye out here, Dare" replied the Tory. "Come out uv doors. We won't keep ye but a minnet."
"Oh, husband, be careful!" whispered Mrs. Dare in her husband's ear as he passed her. "Don't anger them. They have weapons in their hands, and—" With a smile and a reassuring glance Mr. Dare passed on out, closing the door behind him. He had no fear whatever of his Tory neighbors, and would have scoffed at the idea of their trying to do him injury.
Dick and Tom were washing their faces and hands and combing their hair, and did not know anything about the coming of the Tories until they entered the room where their mother was, and then Mr. Dare had been out in the yard perhaps five minutes. During this time Mrs. Dare had been on the anxious seat, so to speak. She had been listening eagerly and anxiously, fearing she might hear rifle-shots, or the sound of a struggle, but no such sounds had come to her hearing. Still, she was not feeling very much reassured when the boys entered the room, and she told them about the coming of Abe Boggs and some more of the neighbors, and how they had called Mr. Dare out, on the plea of wishing to speak to him.
"He's been out there quite a while," Mrs. Dare finished; "and I'm beginning to feel uneasy. I wish you would go out and tell father to come in, that supper is getting cold, Dick."
"Certainly, mother," said Dick, and he hastened to the door. The truth was, that a feeling of uneasiness had taken hold upon him when he heard what his mother had to say about the Tories, and, remembering the trouble he and Tom had had with Zeke Boggs and his cronies that afternoon in Philadelphia and on the road home, Dick was led to fear that the Tories had called his father out of doors with evil intent.
He opened the door and stepped quickly out, and Tom, who had also been assailed with fears for his father's safety, was close at his heels. They looked all around, but to their surprise, and to their alarm as well, there was no one in sight. Neither their father nor the Tories could be seen anywhere. It was so dark that the youths could not see any very great distance with distinctness, but they were confident that there was nobody in the back yard.
"They're around in the front yard, likely, Dick," said Tom, but his tone lacked positiveness. It was evident that he had fears that such was not really the case.
The two hastened around the house, accompanied by their mother, who had followed them to the door and had, like her sons, noted that there was nobody to be seen. And when they reached the front yard, they saw it was the same there: Not a soul was in the front yard. The Tories, and Mr. Dare as well, had disappeared.
"Oh, where can they be?" cried Mrs. Dare, almost at the weeping point. "What have they done with your father? Oh, I am afraid they have wrought him injury of some kind, sons!"
The youths were alarmed, but they pretended that such was not the case, in order to reassure their mother. They said that their father was all right.
"He has gone with them, to see about something," said Dick. "You go back in the house, mother, and Tom and I will go over to Mr. Boggs and see what has become of father. Likely he is there. You go in and stay with Mary. We won't be gone long."
"Very well, Dick," said Mrs. Dare; "but hurry, for I shall be anxious till you get back with your father."
She entered the house, and Dick and Tom hastened over to the Boggs home, which was less than a quarter mile distant. Mr. Dare was not there, and Mrs. Boggs said she did not know where her husband was, that he had left the house an hour or more before, saying he did not know when he would be back. Thanking her for the information, Dick and Tom hastened to the homes of several of the neighboring Tories in succession, and made inquiries regarding Mr. Dare, but with the same result as at the Boggs home. In none of the homes visited were any of the men of the house, and the women did not know where the men were.
Greatly worried now, but hoping they would find their father at home when they got there, Dick and Tom hastened back, and as they approached the house, they caught sight of something white on the door. When they reached the door, they found it was a piece of paper, and on taking this into the house discovered it was a rudely scrawled note, signed by Abe Boggs and six of his Tory neighbors. The note read as follows:
"To Mrs. Dare and rebel sons, Dick and Tom:
"We hev took Henry Dare prisner. He is a rebel, an we are goin ter turn him over to Captain Wilson an his compny uv British sojers, who hev ben heer fur a week past, an are goin to jine the main army on Long Island to-night. Ye kaint do nothin to git him back, so ye needn try. An ye two boys, Dick an Tom, had better be keerful er we'll serve ye worsen whut we hev yer father. We don't aim ter hev any rebels in our neighborhood. So, Dick and Tom Dare, hev a care!"
"Oh, husband is a prisoner in the hands of the British!" wailed Mrs. Dare. "Oh, this is terrible, boys! What shall we do? Oh, what shall we do!"
"Don't be frightened, mother," said Dick, soothingly. "I don't think father is in any danger. He is a prisoner, true, but the British don't kill prisoners, and sooner or later father will escape-or be rescued. That will be work for Tom and I, mother!" his eyes lighting up. "We will make it our object in life to rescue father and get him back home here, with you, mother."
The poor woman was not greatly comforted, however, and she shook her head, at the same time saying, in a hopeless tone of voice:
"What could you do, you are only a couple of boys? You could not possibly rescue father. It is useless to think of such a thing. Oh, I greatly fear I shall never see my husband again in this world! Oh, those terrible, cowardly Tories!" The good woman gave way to an outburst of uncontrollable grief.
"Yes, you shall see father again, mother," declared Dick, decidedly. "Don't worry. He is safe from personal harm, and sooner or later we will succeed in getting him located and will rescue him. Tom and I will make that our object in life."
"Yes, yes, mother," said Tom eagerly. "We'll join the patriot army, if need be, to further our ends, and while fighting for Liberty and Independence, and aiding our country in that manner, we will at the same time be on the lookout to find father and rescue him."
"Yes, that is what we will do," said Dick. "Father would have joined the patriot army if he had not been captured and taken away by the Tories, and now that he is not able to do that, we will do it in his stead. I know it is what father would wish us to do, and as Tom says, it will give us a better chance to find and rescue father."
"Oh, my sons, my sons! How can I spare you, too?" murmured Mrs. Dare. "How can I let you leave me, now that I have lost your dear father!"
"It will be only temporary, mother. You can see, when you give the matter more thought, that it is the best thing to do."
"Perhaps so, Dick, darling," acquiesced Mrs. Dare, "but it is hard!"
Throwing their arms about their mother's neck, the youths kissed her, and presently she grew more calm.
Ben Foster Brings Important News
"Oh, Dick, is it true that you and Tom are going to enter the army and fight for liberty?"
"Yes, it is true, Elsie. Aren't you glad?"
"Y-yes, Dick," replied Elsie Foster, hesitatingly. "I'm glad you are to be a soldier, but I-well, you might get killed you know, and-and-"
"Would you care, Elsie?"
Elsie Foster was the daughter of Robert Foster, the nearest neighbor of the Dares. Mr. Foster was a king's man, but he was different from the other Tories of the neighborhood, in that he was an honest, honorable man, and was a friend of the Dares. He had had nothing to do with the capture of Mr. Dare, and was outspoken in his denunciation of his Tory neighbors for the deed they had committed.
Dick had gone over to the Foster home to borrow something for his mother, and had met Elsie out in the yard, and the girl had greeted Dick as above. The truth was that Dick and Elsie were great friends. They were school-mates, and whenever there was anything going on in the neighborhood, such as spelling schools, skating parties, etc., Dick was Elsie's companion. Elsie was seventeen, and she had a brother, Ben, he being her twin, and a sister, Lucy, aged fifteen. The three young folks of the Dare family and the three of the Foster family often got together of evenings and had a pleasant time, but now that Dick and Tom were going away to the war, it would break into this arrangement.
When Dick asked Elsie if she would care if he should get killed in battle, she blushed and looked confused at first, and then she looked him frankly in the eyes and said, softly. "You know I would, Dick."
"I'm glad to know that, Elsie," said Dick, earnestly.
At this moment Ben Foster came running up. He was a manly-looking youth, and was lively and jolly as a rule. But now he was very sober-looking, for he realized that Dick, whose father had been captured by the Tories only the day before, was in no mood for jollity. There was an eager expression on Ben's face, however, and after greeting Dick, he asked:
"Are you really going to join the Continental army, Dick, you and Tom!"
"Yes, Ben," was the reply.
"Well, say, I'm going to go with you," declared Ben.
"Oh, Ben!" exclaimed Elsie. "What will father say?"
"Father's all right, sis. He is a king's man, everybody knows that, but he is reasonable, and lets other people think as they like. He knows that I'm a patriot, and he won't object."
Dick's face lighted up, for he liked Ben very much, and the idea of having him along was a pleasing one.
"That would be fine, Ben," he said. "But I wouldn't want you to do anything contrary to the wishes of your father."
"Oh, that will be all right," Ben assured him. "He won't care, I am sure."
"Goodness, what will Mary do if you go away?" said Elsie. Ben seemed to think as much of Mary Dare as Dick did of Elsie, and he flushed slightly at his sister's words, and then retorted:
"I guess she'll do about the same thing that you will when Dick goes-go up into the attic and have a good cry."
"You're a mean brother," said Elsie in pretended anger, lifting her hand as if to slap him, "and if it wasn't that I will likely soon lose you, I would box your ears soundly."
They talked awhile, and then Dick attended to the errand that had brought him there and went home.
"I guess we will have company when we go to war, Tom" he said to his brother.
"Is that so?" with an interested ear. "Who?"
"You don't mean it, Dick?"
"Yes. He just told me he intends to accompany us."
"But-his father's a Tory!"
"Yes, but he is a reasonable man, and Ben says that he will not object."
"Well, that will be fine. I'd like to have Ben along."
"So would I. And I guess he'll go."
"I hope he will. He's such a lively, jolly fellow that he is good company, and will help keep us from getting homesick."
"I guess, Tom, that we will be kept too busy to get homesick."
"You think there will be lots of fighting, then? You feel certain that there will be war?"
"War has really existed for more than a year, Tom. You know the battle of Lexington was fought April the nineteenth of last year, and that was the first battle of the Revolution. And since that there has been more or less skirmishing between the 'Minute Men' of New England and the British, the most important of all these being the battle of Bunker Hill, which took place on the seventeenth day of June of last year."
"Our soldiers defeated the British there, didn't they, Dick!"
"Yes, they got all the better of the battle, but their ammunition gave out and they had to retreat. Still, it was equivalent to a victory."
"That's what I thought."
"Yes, and then General Washington-who was appointed commander-in-chief of the army by the Second Continental Congress, at Philadelphia in May of last year, and who went to Boston and took charge of the army on July third-kept the British penned up in Boston till about the middle of last March, when he fortified Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston, the work being performed in one night, and next morning the British, seeing what had been done and realizing that they would be at the mercy of the patriot army if they remained in Boston, hurriedly boarded the ships of the British fleet, then in the harbor, and sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia."
"And General Washington and his patriot troops went down and took possession of Boston!" said Tom, his eyes shining.
"Yes, Tom. But General Howe, the British commander-in-chief, did not keep his troops long in Halifax, but sailed to New York, where he was soon joined by the British fleet under his brother, Admiral Howe, and by General Clinton."
"And General Washington and his patriot army came to New York and took possession of that city," said Tom.
"Yes, and he's there now, and that is where we are going, Tom."
"Hurrah, Dick! Say, I'm glad of it. I want to join the army, and fight the redcoats. I want to fight for liberty and independence."
"So do I. And we will, too."
"When will we go, Dick?"
"In a few days, likely. We have to get things in shape so that mother and sister Mary can get along without us, you know."
"Yes, but that won't take long. Most of the work for the summer is done, and all there will be to do on the farm is to wait for the crops to ripen."
"True. Well, we'll go in a few days, now, likely."
"Don't be in too big a hurry to go, sons," said Mrs. Dare sadly, when they were discussing the matter, that evening at supper. "Think how lonesome Mary and I will be when you are gone."
"Mrs. Foster and the girls will come over often," said Dick. "They will keep you cheered up."
"It will help," was the reply. "But we will be lonely, just the same."
"You might try to be cheerful, mother," said Tom. "Dick and I won't want to think of you as being lonely."
"Oh, I will get along all right, sons," said the brave woman, forcing a smile. She wanted to have the boys go away feeling that she was in good spirits.
They had just finished eating supper, when Ben Foster came in. There was an eager, excited look on his face, and he said earnestly:
"There's a plot on foot against Dick and Tom, and I came right over to let you know about it."
"A plot!" exclaimed Mrs. Dare, her face paling and her voice trembling. "By whom!"
"Ah!" breathed the woman, a look of anxiety on her face. "This is terrible!"
"Don't worry, mother," said Dick. "We know of it, now, and can prepare for them. It will not be as if we were to be taken by surprise."
"No, don't be afraid, Mrs. Dare," said Ben. "We'll make the Tories wish they had attended to their own business."
"How did you learn about it, Ben?" asked Tom.
"Father found it out this afternoon. You know, he's a king's man, and they weren't as careful as they might have been, and he heard them talking about it."
"What are their plans?" asked Dick.
"They are going to come here to-night at about midnight and break in, take you and Tom out and tie you to trees and whip you-at least, that is their intention. They won't succeed, though, you may be sure."
"Indeed they will not!" smiled Dick. "There will be some sadder and wiser Tories before the night is ended."
"Oh, I am sore afraid, son!" said Mrs. Dare. "There will be a dozen or more of the Tories, and what can you and Tom do against so many?"
"I'll come over and help Dick and Tom, Mrs. Dare," said Ben. "As soon as father told me about the plan, I made up my mind that I would come here to-night and help fight the Tories."
"Say, you are all right, Ben!" said Tom, slapping his friend on the shoulder.
"That is good of you, old fellow," said Dick, seizing Ben's hand and shaking it heartily. "We thank you."
"Yes, indeed!" said Mary, who saw that Ben's eyes were on her, as if he wished to hear what she thought about it. "It is indeed good of you, Ben, to volunteer to do that."
"Oh, that's all right," said Ben, a pleased look in his eyes. "I tell you we will make it lively for those Tories when they come sneaking around here."
"We'll do our best to give them a warm reception, at any rate," said Dick.
"I'll be over in an hour or so," said Ben, "and I'll bring a musket and a pistol along. But how about Mrs. Dare and Mary? Hadn't they better come over to our house until after the attack has been made? The folks told me to ask you to come, Mrs. Dare and Mary."
"Perhaps it would be best," agreed Mrs. Dare. "But still, I hate to go away and leave you boys here. You might be reckless, when if I were to stay you would be more careful."
"Don't think that, mother," said Dick. "We are going to go to war soon, and you can't be with us then, and if you and Mary stayed here, you might get hit with a stray bullet. There is no use of your taking the risk. We'll be as careful with you away as if you were here; and we will be in a position to fight with more freedom and effect if you are not here."
"Very well, then, Dick. If that is the case, we will go over to Mr. Foster's. But we will return after the attack has been made, for we wouldn't want any of the neighbors to see us coming away from there in the morning, as that would cause them to suspect that Mr. Foster had warned us, and might cause him trouble."
"True, mother. That will be all right. You and Mary can come home after we have driven the Tories away."
"We'll go over to Mr. Foster's as soon as it is dark," said Mrs. Dare.
Shortly after dark, Dick, accompanied by his mother and Mary, went over to the Foster home, and Ben returned with him.
"So you're here, eh?" greeted Tom. "That's fine. I guess when those cowardly Tories put in an appearance, they will get something that they are not looking for."
"That's what they will," nodded Ben. "At any rate, I hope so."
"So do I," said Dick.
"I wish Zeke and Lem would be in the party," said Tom, grinning. "I'd like to give them another thrashing."
"When did you thrash them, before?" queried Ben.
"In Philadelphia, yesterday. Didn't Dick tell you about it?"
"No, you tell me now," eagerly.
Then Tom did so, detailing the encounter on the streets of Philadelphia, and when he had heard all, Ben said:
"Good! I'm glad you thrashed them."
A Night Attack
"They're coming, Dick!" whispered Ben Foster.
"Yes, I hear footsteps," replied Dick. "But," after listening a few moments, "there is only one person coming. Perhaps it isn't the Tories after all."
"Yes, that's their game-to make you think there is only one. He walks boldly, so you can hear him, while the others creep up. It is the Tory gang, all right."
"Likely you are right."
It was now nearly midnight, and so it was time for the Tories to put in their appearance, if they were to make the attack that night, as Mr. Foster had heard them say they would do.
Closer sounded the footsteps, and then they ceased and there came a knock on the door.
Dick did not answer, as he did not want the fellow to suspect that the inmates of the house were awake and on the alert. The youths, gripping tightly their rifles and muskets, waited. Their hearts were beating more rapidly than was their wont, but it is safe to say that no feeling of fear had place in their hearts. Only expectation, and eagerness to get at the Tories dominated them.
After a brief period, the knock on the door was repeated. Then Dick spoke up.
"Who is there?" he called out.
"A friend," was the reply, in a hoarse, evidently disguised voice.
"What is your name, friend?"
"That doesn't matter. I have news, important news for you, Dick Dare"
"You have no news for me that I don't know already," retorted the youth.
"What do you mean?" There was a quick suspicion in the voice.
"I mean that I know you are a Tory, and that you have a number of companions, and intend to try to get hold of my brother and myself and tie us up and whip us. I don't feel like permitting that, so you had better go away, if you value your skins, for if you try to bother us, we will surely defend ourselves and do harm to you-if we can."
Evidently the man realized it was useless to carry the deception further, for he cried out, sneeringly:
"Oh, will you indeed, Dick Dare? Well, let me tell you something, my bold young rebel: When we get through with you, you will not be in a position to harm anybody. We are going to take you out and whip you soundly, as should be done with all such traitors to the king as you two are!"
"I give you fair warning," replied Dick, sternly; "if you attempt to injure myself and brother, you will get badly hurt. Go about you business and leave us alone."
"Oh, we'll go about our business and leave you alone, of course we will-but it will be after we have tied you up to one of the trees here in your own yard! Open the door, or we'll break it down."
"You are wasting breath," in a voice of contempt. "We would be very foolish if we opened the door, would we not?"
"It doesn't matter; we'll break the door down in a jiffy, anyway."
"If you do, you'll be very sorry. Remember, I gave you fair warning."
"Bah! Boys' threats don't scare us worth a cent. We'll have the door down and you two rebel brats out of there very quickly."
"And we'll have some of you Tory hounds lying dead on the grass of our own yard very soon, too. Mind what I tell you!"
A sneering laugh was the only reply. They had no idea the boys would really shoot at them.
There was the sound of receding footsteps, followed by the murmur of voices, and then a few minutes later there sounded the trampling of many feet, and crash! something struck the door, causing it to creak and groan under the impact.
"They've found a log, and will better the door down," said Dick. "Be ready, boys and as soon as the door falls, fire through the opening. They have brought this upon themselves, and if we injure a few of them, it will be their own fault."
"We're ready, Dick," said Tom.
"Yes, we'll fire when you give the word," from Ben.
"All right, boys. Level your weapons, and be ready, and when I say 'Fire', pull trigger."
"Yes, yes, we will!" came the reply.
The next moment there sounded the trampling of feet once more, and crash! the end of the log struck the door. This time the impact was so great the door could not withstand it, and down it came with a thud. At least a dozen forms could be seen through the opening, outlined against the horizon.
"Fire!" cried Dick, his voice ringing out loudly and clearly.
The youths obeyed the command, pulling trigger instantly, and the crash that followed was deafening, and seemed almost sufficient in volume to raise the roof.
It was an effective volley, too, for two or three of the Tories were hit by bullets, as was evidenced by the yells and screams of pain and rage that they gave utterance to. They fell back, in dismay, the log dropping to the ground with a thud.
Dick, instinctively realizing that the Tories were stricken with a feeling of dismay, not to say terror, because of their reception, cried, "Charge them, boys! At them! Give it to the scoundrels!"
With a yell that must have added to the dismay of the enemy, the youths dashed out through the doorway and attacked the Tories, laying about them with the butts of their rifles and muskets, and discharging their pistols.
Thud, thud, thud! Thus sounded the impact of the butts of the weapons with the heads, arms and bodies of the ruffians, and with each thud sounded a yell of pain and rage from the recipient of the blow. Then, suddenly the Tories took refuge in flight, running from the scene as swiftly as possible, and fairly falling over the fence in their haste to get away. They were quickly out of sight, and the affair was at an end. The three youths had put their enemies to rout, and without having sustained any injury whatever.
They were well pleased, and although they had not killed any of the Tories outright, yet the youths were sure they had wounded several, for they had heard the ruffians give utterance to cries of pain, and too, they saw blood on the ground in several places.
Dick now hastened to the Foster home and reported the victory over the Tories, and was congratulated by all there, even Mr. Foster, the avowed king's man, seeming very well pleased for he was an honest, honorable man, and not at all in sympathy with the night-marauding tactics of his Tory neighbors.
Mrs. Dare and Mary accompanied Dick home, and the good woman thanked Ben for coming and helping her sons.
"Oh, that's all right," smiled Ben. "I was glad to come. I wanted a chance at those cowardly Tories."
"And we thrashed them soundly, too, mother," said Tom.
"Do you think there is any danger that they will return?" queried Mrs. Dare, somewhat anxiously.
"I don't think so, mother," said Dick. "They've had all the fighting they want, for one night, I am sure."
"I think so," said Ben Foster. "But I'll stay here, Mrs. Dare, and if they come, we will be able to drive them away again."
But the Tories did not return. They had, as Dick said, evidently seen all the fighting they wanted, for one night.
Dick, Tom, and Ben Foster began getting ready to go to New York, that day, to join the patriot army under General Washington. They would be ready in a day or two, as there was not a great deal to do.
Next day, however, Ben Foster had news for his friends. He came over, an eager look in his eyes, and told the brothers that Zeke Boggs had just told him that he and Lem Hicks were going over to Long Island and join the British army.
"He says that they don't intend to let us get ahead of them, Dick," finished Ben. "They hope to fight against us in some of the battles."
"Well, I guess they will get the chance," said Dick, grimly.
"Yes, they'll get the worst of the fighting, too," declared Tom.
"That they will!" coincided Ben.
"There are two things that I hope to do, when in the patriot army," said Dick. "One is, to find where my father is imprisoned and free him, and the other to meet Zeke Boggs and Lem Hicks in battle and defeat them."
"Yes, Dick," said Tom, his eyes shining. "We must find father as soon as possible, and rescue him from the hands of the British. I think we can do so, don't you?"
"I surely think so, Tom."
"Oh, you'll be certain to find out where he is, and before very long, then you can rescue him," proposed Ben, confidently.
"And after that we can thrash Zeke and Lem with a good heart," suggested Tom.
"I don't think Zeke and Lem will make very good soldiers," remarked Ben.
"I think they'll run, the very first time they get into a battle," concluded Tom.
The Dare Boys in New York
An orderly knocked at the door of the room occupied by General Washington, in the old Fraunces' Tavern, the building used as patriot headquarters, and on being commanded to enter, opened the door and said:
"A young man wishes audience with you, your excellency."
General Washington, the great man on whose shoulders rested such a serious responsibility, now that the people of the Colonies had declared for Independence, sat at his desk, looking over some papers. He now glanced up at the orderly.
"Who is the young man, orderly?" he queried.
"He says his name is Richard Dare."
"I have never heard of him," with a shake of the head. "Did he state his business?"
"No, your excellency. I asked him, but he said he preferred seeing you and stating his business direct."
Washington was thoughtful for a few moments, and then said:
"He is a young man, you say?"
"Yes, your excellency; or rather, I should perhaps have said youth. I doubt if he is more than eighteen or nineteen years of age."
"H'm," murmured the commander-in-chief; "I am pretty busy, but will see him briefly. Show him in."
"Yes, your excellency," and the orderly withdrew.
He was back again in a few moments, however, and ushered in a handsome, manly-looking youth, at the same time announcing:
"Richard Dare, your excellency." Then he withdrew, leaving the two alone.
General Washington glanced up as his visitor was announced, and when his eyes took in the handsome face, the fine physique and perfect poise of the youth, he gave a slight start and eyed him keenly and somewhat searchingly, with considerable interest.
"You are Richard Dare?" the commander-in-chief remarked.
"Yes, your excellency," saluting.
"Very good, Mr. Dare. Now if you will be so kind as to state your business as briefly as possible, I will hear you. I am quite busy, as you may well suppose."
"Pardon me for taking up your time, sir," said Dick, "but I wished to see you in person, as I have come to make you an offer."
"Ah, indeed? What kind of an offer, my young friend?"
"I will tell you, sir: I and two friends of about my own age have come to New York from our homes in the western part of New Jersey. We arrived here only this morning, and I, as their spokesman, have come to offer our services to you, sir. We are ardent patriots and desirous of fighting in our country, for the freedom and independence of our people."
"Well, well," said Washington, looking at the youth with renewed interest. "Bravely spoken! Your desire is a commendable one, and certainly I shall be glad to accept of your offer, if your parents are willing that you shall enter the army. You are mere youths, as it were, and I would not want to take advantage of your offer unless it were satisfactory to your parents. They have knowledge of you project?"
"Oh, yes, your excellency. We have done this with the knowledge and approval of our parents. My father, however, was captured in his own dooryard, less than two weeks ago, by a gang of Tories, and I and my brother Tom decided to join your army, to take father's place, as he had intended to join, and also with the hope of finding and rescuing him. One of our friends, when he heard that we were going to do this, came and told us that he wanted to come, too, and here we are. I hope you will accept us, sir, and give us a place in your army."
"I shall be pleased to do so, Dick Dare," was the hearty reply. "From this moment you are a member of the Continental Army, as are your companions also. I thank you, Dare, for your interest in the welfare of our country, and pray extend to your companions my thanks, and tell them that I shall expect to hear a good report from them when it comes to actual conflict with the enemy."
"I think they will give a good account of themselves, your excellency," said Dick, quietly but modestly. "I am sure they will fight hard for freedom."
"I have no doubt about it, my boy. Well, the matter is settled, then. Here, take this order and present it to Colonel Morgan, who will find room for you in his regiment, now in process of formation."
The commander-in-chief hastily wrote the order and handed it to Dick, who took it and saluted.
"Thanks, your excellency," he said. "I will do as you have commanded. My companions will be delighted when I make my report to them."
Then, saluting again, Dick left the presence of the great man, and was quickly back with Tom and Ben, who were quartered in a building only about a block distant.
They greeted him eagerly.
"Did you see General Washington, Dick?" cried Tom Dare.
"Yes, Tom, I saw him," was the reply.
"And what did he say?" queried Ben Foster. "Did he accept our offer of our services?"
"Yes, Ben," replied Dick. "He seemed to be pleased, and said that he hopes to hear a good report concerning us when we come in actual conflict with the British."
"I think he will be satisfied on that score," said Ben, a grim look on his face. "I think we will be as good fighters as any of them, when we get started, eh, Tom?"
"Yes, I think so, Ben," nodded Tom, his eager eyes sparkling.
"Get ready and come with me, boys," said Dick, beginning to gather up his belongings, which were not many, as the youths had not brought very much luggage with them.
"Where to, Dick?" queried Tom.
"We are to report to Colonel Morgan, and will be assigned to his regiment."
"Good!" said Ben. "Then we will be genuine soldiers, eh, Dick?"
"Say, that will be fine!" said Tom. "I'm ready. Lead the way to Colonel Morgan's quarters, Dick."
A few minutes later the youths set out. They found Colonel Morgan and Dick gave him the note from the commander-in-chief, whereupon they were assigned to their new quarters, their names having been enrolled on the membership list of the regiment.
"Now we are soldiers, sure enough!" murmured Tom Dare, his eyes shining. "Hurrah!"
"Yes, patriot soldiers, Tom," said Dick, quietly. There was an air of satisfaction on his face also.
"We will be ready to take part in the first battle that takes place," said Ben. "Say, that'll be fine. I am eager to be in a battle!"
"And I," said Dick. "I want to fight for Independence and the freedom of the American people. And, too, I want to fight and rescue our father, Tom."
"Yes, yes, Dick. We won't forget that part of our work!" said Tom.
Chosen for Dangerous Work
Dick, Tom and Ben made friends rapidly, and were soon well acquainted with the majority of the members of the company to which they had been assigned, and with many of the members of other companies that were quartered in the same building and near at hand.
They had been in New York about a week, and were feeling quite at home. One afternoon, as they were sitting in the big front room, talking to some of the soldiers, the door opened and an orderly from headquarters was seen standing on the threshold.
"Is there anyone here by the name of Dare?" he asked. "Dick Dare, I believe it is."
"I am he," said Dick, advancing. "What is wanted?"
"You are wanted at headquarters."
"Yes, at once. The commander-in-chief orders you to report."
"I will go right along with you."
"Very well. Such were his instructions."
Dick put on his hat and took his departure in the orderly's company, after telling Ben and Tom that he would probably be back soon.
They arrived quickly at headquarters, and Dick was ushered into the private room occupied by the commander-in-chief.
Dick saluted and said:
"You sent for me, your excellency?"
"Yes, Dare. Be seated," and he pointed to a chair near his desk.
Dick took the seat and then looked at the commander-in-chief inquiringly.
General Washington did not say anything for a few moments, but eyed Dick keenly and searchingly. It was evident that he was appraising the boy's value carefully, and it seemed that the result was satisfactory, for he gave a sigh as of relief, and said:
"How old are you, Dare?"
"Eighteen. That is young. You are a mere youth, but somehow I believe you are the one to do what I wish done. I have a mind to try you, anyway. Dick," pausing and looking impressively at the youth, "if I were to ask you to undertake something that was exceedingly dangerous, something that might easily result in your death if you made a false step, what would you say?"
"I would say, your excellency, that if you had confidence enough in me to think I might succeed, I would be only too glad to try. You have only to command and I will obey, sir."
"Spoken like a true Son of Liberty!" exclaimed the commander-in-chief. "That is what I expected to hear you say, however. I believe you are a brave, sensible youth, and that it is possible you may succeed in the undertaking which I have in mind, even though several grown men have already failed. You had better think well before you consent to attempt this task, however, Dick. It is one fraught with such danger that I would not think of ordering you to attempt it, considering your age. But if, on the other hand, after knowing what the work is, you still wish to go ahead, I shall be delighted to avail myself of your services."
"I will be glad to attempt the work, sir. Pray state the case. What is the nature of the work you wish me to do?"
"It is spy-work!"
Dick's heart leapt with joy. Spy-work! This, of all things was what he felt that he would most like to do. As a spy he would have to venture into the enemy's territory, would have to even penetrate to their midst and secure information as to their plans and, too, he might thus find and rescue his father. It was fine to think of, and the sparkle in his eyes must have told the commander-in-chief that the youth was pleased, for he said:
"You seem to be favorably impressed, rather than otherwise, my boy. You think you will like spy-work?"
"Yes, your excellency," was the reply. "I think I shall like it, better than anything else. I shall be glad to attempt any work in that line that you wish. Just tell me where you wish me to go and what you want me to do, and I will do my best to make a success of the work, sir."
"Very well, Dick. I will do so. You know, perhaps, that the British army is located on the southwest shore of Long Island, near York Bay, and the British fleet lies just outside the Narrows and off York Bay. The British outnumber us considerably, I think, but just how much I do not know. And this is one thing that I wish to learn. I want to learn the numerical strength of the British, and also I wish to find out, if such a thing is possible, the intentions of the British commander-in-chief. This is a big undertaking, my boy, and as I have told you, several of my best men have already tried to accomplish this and failed, so you can see the magnitude of the task that confronts you. It will be no disgrace if you should fail."
"I may fail, sir," said Dick, modestly; "I may not succeed in securing the information you desire, but I will make the attempt, and I will say this, that if such a thing as securing the information is possible, I will do it. I will do my very best, sir, you may rest assured of that."
"I do, Dick. I feel confident that if you fail it will be only after you have made every effort to succeed. Well, it is settled, then? You will attempt his spy-work?"
"Yes, your excellency. When shall I start?"
"This evening. I will give you a letter of introduction to General Putnam, who is in command of the patriot force on Brooklyn Heights, and he will give you all the information and assistance in his power."
"Very well, sir. At what hour shall I report here?"
"Be here at six, Dick. I will have the letter for you, and then you will go down to the East River in company with one of my orderlies, and a boatman will take you across to the Long Island side. It is not far from there to the Heights, where you will locate General Putnam."
"I will report here at six, your excellency," said Dick, and then saluting, he took his departure.
When he returned to his quarters and told Tom and Ben that General Washington had selected him to go over onto Long Island and do some spying, the youths were surprised, but were delighted as well, for they felt that it was an honor to Dick.
"That will be fine," said Ben Foster. "I believe you will make a good spy, Dick."
"I hope so, Ben."
"I wish I could go with you," said Tom, looking wistfully at his brother.
"It will be best that I go alone, Tom," said Dick. "One can do spy-work better than two."
"I vould lige dot sby vork," said Fritz Schmockenburg, a fat, Dutch soldier, gravely.
"It's a foine spoy yez would be afther makin', Fritz," chuckled Tim Murphy, a merry Irish patriot. "Yez would be caught the first thing, and the only thing thot would kape thim from hangin' yez would be because they wouldn't have inny rope sthout enough to hould your weight."
"When are you going, Dick?" queried Ben.
"This evening at six."
The youths discussed the matter at considerable length, and were glad that Dick had been selected for such important work, though they were somewhat fearful for his safety. Tom and Ben cautioned him to be careful, and he was the recipient of advice from others, all well-meant, but of course not likely to be of much use to him, as he would have to govern his actions mainly by existing circumstances, after he was on the ground and at work.
Shortly before six he bade Tom and Ben, and his comrades good-bye and made his way to headquarters, where he was given the letter of introduction by the commander-in-chief, and also a few kindly words of encouragement.
"General Putnam will give you all the information and help in his power," General Washington said. "Go, now, Dick, my boy, and may you be successful is my prayer. Good-bye, and heaven bless you."
He shook Dick's hand, and then with a good-bye and a salute, the youth took his departure.
An orderly accompanied him to the dock and summoned a boatman, and then Dick got in and was ferried across the East River. Alighting on the Long Island shore, he set out in the direction of Brooklyn Heights, reaching there shortly after dark.
Dick's First Adventure
Dick was challenged, and on answering that he was a friend, was told to advance and give the countersign.
He approached the sentinel, and when near him, said:
"I am a patriot, but do not know the countersign. I wish to see General Putnam."
"Who are you and why do you wish to see the general?" the sentinel asked.
"My name is Dare, and I am a messenger from General Washington. I have a letter of introduction to General Putnam."
"All right. I'll summon the officer of the guard and he'll conduct you to the general."
He did so, and the officer asked Dick a few questions, seemed satisfied, and conducted him to the quarters occupied by General Putnam.
Dick saluted on entering the presence of the general, and drawing the letter from his pocket, handed it to Putnam, who took it an read the contents, after which he gave Dick a keen, searching and somewhat wondering glance.
"You are Richard Dare?" he queried.
"Yes, General Putnam," replied Dick.
"H'm. The commander-in-chief says here that you are going down to the enemy's territory to try to do some spying. You are rather young, it seems to me, to be going such work."
"Time will cure that," smiled Dick.
"Yes-if you live," grimly. "This is very dangerous business you are entering upon, my boy."
"So General Washington said, sir."
"Yes? Well, it is a fact, and I have my doubts regarding your ability to do anything, but since the commander-in-chief has seen fit to try you and has sent you to me for the purpose of having me give you what information I possess regarding the location of the British, I will do what I can to assist you."
"Thank you, General Putnam."
The general then gave Dick all the information that he thought would be of value to him, and the youth listened attentively.
"Now," said Putnam when he had finished, "do you think you can find the British without any trouble?"
"I am sure I can find the British, sir," was the reply; "but I don't know about the trouble part."
The grim general chuckled. He seemed to like the dry humor of the lad.
"I guess you'll do, Dare," he said. "I'm beginning to think the commander-in-chief showed good judgment in sending you, after all. But, I might have known that such was the case, for he is a man who seldom makes mistakes."
"I hope he hasn't made a mistake in this instance, sir," modestly.
"I guess he hasn't. It is possible that a boy like you may be better able to penetrate to the enemy's lines and secure information than a man, for the British will not be so likely to suspect you of being a spy."
"That is what General Washington said, sir."
"The position is well taken, I feel confident. Well, Dare, be careful, take care of yourself and secure all the information possible regarding the enemy."
"I will do my best, General. Well, I must be going."
The general shook hands with Dick, and wished him good luck.
"Don't let the redcoats get you," he said.
"They won't get me, if I can help it," he said. "Good-bye, General Putnam."
Dick did not start just then, however, for the very good reason that while he had been engaged in conversation with General Putnam, a storm that had been threatening that afternoon and evening, broke upon them, the wind blew a gale and the rain poured down in torrents, the lightning was incessant and the roar of the thunder terrific. It was indeed a severe storm.
"You must not think of starting out to-night," said General Putnam. "You could not find your way anywhere, and would simply get soaked to the skin, or perhaps struck by lightning. I will give you a bed, and you will remain here till morning."
"Doubtless that will be best," agreed Dick, though he disliked the delay. Still, he felt that it would do no good to go in such a storm, for as the general had said, he could not find his way to the British encampment, or accomplish anything if he did find it.
So he remained on the Heights that night, only to find it still raining the next morning.
"You would not want to start out in the daytime, anyhow," said General Putnam; "so it does not matter. You will stay till evening, and then if it has ceased raining, you can start on your expedition."
It was still raining hard, when evening came, however, and General Putnam said it would be foolish to make the start in the storm. So Dick remained all that night, and all next day. The rain had ceased soon after sunrise and the sun shone brightly that day, drying the ground pretty thoroughly, by evening.
"You can make the start, this evening, Dare," said the general. "I don't suppose the delay in getting away from here will make any difference."
"I hope not, sir," said Dick.
After dark that evening, Dick took his departure, and as soon as he was past the sentinels, he struck out southward. The British army was at that time encamped near the Flatlands, about two miles from the bay and about two miles south of Flatbush.
Dick walked onward at a moderate pace. There was no hurry, and besides, by hurrying he might run right into a party of redcoats, and this would be bad, as it would likely result in his capture.
It were better to make haste slowly. Dick realized this, and he decided to take his time and exercise his every care. Caution was a necessary adjunct of a spy.
Dick was eager to succeed. Several men had failed, and had doubtless been captured, and if he could accomplish his object it would be a big feather in his cap. He was intensely patriotic, anyway, and this made him extremely desirous of succeeding in securing the information regarding the plans of the British.
He reached the wooded heights about halfway between the village of Bedford and Flatbush after a walk of an hour or so, and having climbed the hill, he paused on the summit and listened intently for some time. It was his thought that perhaps a party of British might be located here, and he did not want to run into their midst, if such were the case.
He heard sounds, but only such as are usually to be heard in the woods at night-the chirping of crickets, the buzzing of the wings of insects, and the call of nightbirds. He heard nothing that would indicate the presence of human beings.
"I guess there are no redcoats in these woods," he murmured after listening a while. "The British haven't advanced this far yet, likely. I'll go ahead, but will be exceedingly careful."
He moved forward slowly, and cautiously made his way down the south slope of the wooded hill. He paused every few moments and listened. He was not going to take any chances of discovery and capture, if he could avoid it by exercising care.
Somehow Dick's heart thrilled with pleasure, even though he were on a perilous undertaking. He was working for General Washington, trying to do something that would be of benefit to the great Cause of Liberty, and this made him experience a feeling of happiness. The danger did not have any effect on him, save to, if anything, add to the zest. He was a brave youth, though not a foolhardy one, and the danger made the work all the more interesting and exhilarating.
On he went down the slope, slowly and cautiously. He had to practically feel his way, for in under the trees it was very dark and he could not see to pick a path. This made it slow work, but he had all night for his task, if he wished so much time, and so he did not worry because he could not proceed at a swift pace.
"'Slow but sure,' is a good motto," he told himself. "There will be times, doubtless, when it will pay me to move swiftly, but this is not one of the times."
Suddenly Dick paused and stood stock still, his every nerve tense, his every sense on the alert. He thought that he had heard the sound of voices!
He listened intently, and presently his heart gave a leap. Yes, he had not been mistaken. Over to the right, and not very far distant, he had heard someone talking. At least two men were there, engaged in conversation, their voices being pitched low.
Dick strained his eyes, but could not catch sight of the speakers. He could only judge of their location and distance from him by the sound of their voices, and he judged that they were perhaps a dozen yards from him. This was rather close, if they were British soldiers, as he had no doubt they were, and he decided that the best thing for him to do was to get away from their vicinity as quickly as possible. It would be well to be silent about it, too, for if they should discover his presence, they would doubtless make a great outcry and try to capture him.
He began edging away, toward the left. Every once in awhile he paused to listen. The voices could still be heard, but not so plainly as at first. He was gradually getting farther and farther away from the speakers, and would have been successful in escaping from the vicinity without his presence having been discovered, but for an accident. He struck his foot against a good-sized stone, which was lying right on the edge of a rather steep slope, and the rock, becoming dislodged, went tumbling and plunging downward through the underbrush, making what seemed to be a great noise, coming as it did in the midst of the night stillness. It sounded as loud as thunder in Dick's ears.
"Now I've done it!" he murmured, in some dismay. "That will rouse them sure."
He was right, for instantly there came the challenge, loud and clear:
"Halt! Who comes there?"
There could be no doubt regarding the matter, now; the men Dick had heard talking were British soldiers doing picket duty.
Dick's first impulse was to take to his heels and run at the top of his speed, but his second thought was that perhaps if he were to stand perfectly still, the redcoats would come to the conclusion that there was no one in the vicinity save themselves, and would go ahead with their conversation after a few minutes of listening. But it did not work out that way. After a few moments of silence there came the command, in a stern voice:
"Who is there? Answer, or I will fire!"
Dick did not like the idea of being fired at, even in the darkness. He knew the soldier could not see to take aim, but a chance shot might be as successful as one that was aimed. Dick did not care to take the chance, anyway, and he quickly, but very cautiously shifted his position and got a tree between himself and the redcoats.
"Now, he won't be able to hit me, even if he does fire," thought the youth with a feeling of relief. "Now if he will just make up his mind that there is no one here and resume the conversation with his comrade, I shall be able to slip away and escape, doubtless."
But the redcoats were evidently not satisfied to let the matter go thus. "Let's investigate, comrade," Dick heard a voice say. And then he heard another in reply: "All right. If there is anybody round here, we will either run him down or frighten him out of his boots."
"That's what we will, comrade."
"And I feel confident there is somebody near here. What else would make the noise that we heard?"
"I don't know, comrade. I think it likely that somebody is about."
"I am positive, sure of it as can be."
"Well, come on, then. Let's search all around. We ought to be able to lay him by the heels, for we can hear him if he tries to run away."
"True. Come, comrade. We'll quickly have the fellow, if he's here."
Then Dick heard the trampling of feet, which sounded closer and closer, and he realized that he must get away from there at once, or the redcoats would be upon him.
Having so decided, he lost not time, but moved away as cautiously as possible. He went a bit faster than he should have done, to maintain a noiseless movement, however, for he stepped on a fallen branch, which broke with a cracking sound, and the very next step he stumbled over a log, and fell into a brushpile, making considerable noise.
"A spy!" he heard one of the redcoats cry. "There's somebody there, sure!"
"Halt!" cried the other soldier, loudly. "Stop, or I'll fire!"
But Dick, fearing to remain, as he would almost certainly be found and captured, leaped to his feet and took to his heels, running as fast as he dared; to run too fast, would have been to break his head against a tree, more than likely.
The British soldiers heard him, evidently, for one cried, excitedly:
"There he goes! I hear him running!"
"Yes," cried the other, "but I'll put a stop to his running, or know the reason why. Here goes to wing the rebel."
The next instant the loud crack of a musket rang upon the still night air. At the same instant Dick Dare fell sprawling upon his face on the ground, and lay still.
Tom Dare Acts
On the afternoon of the second day after the departure of Dick Dare from patriot headquarters in New York, Tom Dare appeared there, and to the orderly at the door said:
"I wish to see General Washington, sir."
"Oh, you do, eh?" was the query. The orderly could not imagine what business this sixteen-year-old boy could have with the commander-in-chief.
"Yes, sir. Show me to his presence, please."
The orderly looked at the eager, bright face of the boy with more of interest.
"Who are you?" he queried.
"My name is Tom Dare."
"Tom Dare!" in surprise. "Why, there was a young fellow here a couple of days ago whose name was Dare-Dick Dare, I believe it was."
"Yes," quietly; "he is my brother."
"Ah, your brother! Are you a member of the patriot army, also?"
"Yes, sir. I'm in Colonel Morgan's regiment."
The orderly stared.
"Well!" he murmured; "the Dares seem to be pretty well represented in the Continental Army."
"Yes, sir. Our father was captured by Tories, and Dick and I made up our minds that we would join the patriot army and do all we could to bring about the defeat of the British and Tories, and if possible rescue our father."
"Well, that is the right spirit, certainly."
"Will you show me to the presence of the commander-in-chief, sir?" questioned Tom, eagerly. "I am very desirous of seeing him," he added, earnestly.
"Come with me," was the reply; "I will speak to the commander-in-chief, and if he is willing, I will conduct you to his presence."
Tom accompanied the orderly along the hall, pausing presently when told to do so. The orderly said he would be back in a few moments, and disappeared in a room at one side. He quickly returned and said that General Washington would see the youth.
The next moment he ushered Tom into the presence of the commander-in-chief, announcing:
"Master Tom Dare."
The general looked up from some papers he was examining, and gave Tom a keen, searching glance.
"You are Master Tom Dare," he said.
"Yes, your excellency," saluting.
"Brother to Dick Dare?"
"Very good. What can I do for you, my boy?" The great man's air and tone were kindly, and Tom, encouraged, said:
"I have come to ask a favor, sir."
"What is the favor? Be brief, as my time is of value, my boy."
"Very well, sir. I have come to ask that you let me go over onto Long Island, the same as you have done with Dick."
General Washington looked at the boy in surprise.
"Why do you want to do that?" he queried.
"I want to be with Dick, sir, or near him, all the time, if possible. I promised my mother that I would stay at Dick's side and fight side by side with him, and if I stay here, when he is over on Long Island, I won't be keeping my word, sir. Something might happen to Dick. He might get into trouble with the British, and if I was near at hand, I could render him assistance, and if he were captured, I might be able to rescue him. I hope you will let me go, sir."
The commander-in-chief looked thoughtfully at the boy. There was a look of admiration in his eyes, and to himself he said: "A brave pair of lads are those two Dares, I feel certain." Aloud he said, after a few moments:
"I don't know whether to grant your request or not, my boy. I have sent Dick over to Long Island on a spying expedition, and if you were to go also and join him, it might hamper him in his work. At the same time, I dislike to refuse your request, since you made your mother the promise that you would stay by your brother's side. Still, you can hardly hope to be always together. War is cruel, and one can not always do as one would like, or be where one would wish to be. We must all go where we think we can be of the most benefit to the Cause, and do that which will be most beneficial. Do you think you could do Dick any good, if I were to let you go, my boy?"
"I think it possible, sir. He is going into great danger, as I understand it, and I might render him very valuable assistance. At any rate, if you will let me go, I will promise that at least I will not in any way interfere with his work or do anything to cause him to fail in the task he has before him."
"Very good. Then I will grant your request. Go, my boy; but be careful. I will give you a note to General Putnam, on Brooklyn Heights, and he will tell you which way to go to find your brother."
"Thank you, sir. You are very kind, and I will try to do nothing to cause you to regret that you let me go."
"That is right." The commander-in-chief wrote a brief note, addressed it to General Putnam and handed it to Tom.
"There. Now go, my boy, and may you succeed in joining your brother and benefit to him in his work. Good-bye," and he gave the boy's hand a friendly grasp.
"Good-bye, your excellency," and saluting, Tom took his departure.
He hastened down to the East River dock and got a boatman to take him across to the east shore, after which he made his way as quickly as possible to the patriot quarters on Brooklyn Heights.
When he presented himself before General Putnam, and handed over the note, the officer, after a perusal of the few words written there, looked at the boy in some surprise and with no little interest.
"Another one," he said, with something like a grim smile. "The Dares certainly seem to be in evidence to-night."
"Dick was here, then, sir?" eagerly.
"Yes, he was here."
"How long has he been gone?"
"Oh, about an hour, I should judge. He had to remain here until this evening on account of the storm."
"Please direct me how to go in order to overtake him, General Putnam."
"I will do so as nearly as possible, my boy." Then the general gave Tom all the directions possible, and the boy said:
"Thank you, sir. I will try to join my brother to-night."
"You had better keep your eyes open, Master Dare," cautioned General Putnam. "You are going where redcoats are thicker than mosquitoes, and that is saying a good deal."
"I'll look out for them, sir," with a smile. "Good-bye, and thank you, General Putnam."
"That's all right. You are welcome. Good-bye and good luck."
Tom took his departure, and as soon as he was out of the patriot encampment, he hastened away in the direction that he had been told Dick had undoubtedly gone.
"Perhaps by hurrying I may be able to overtake Dick," was his thought.
He walked swiftly, at times running, and came to the wooded hills much quicker than Dick had done. He climbed the hill quickly, and was soon making his way down the other side. He had gone only a few steps when he heard the report of the musket-shot, sounding close at hand and almost in front of him.
Instantly Tom was greatly excited. The thought came to him at once that a redcoat had fired that shot and that it had been fired at Dick, and with wildly-beating heart he ran forward, at the same time drawing a pistol from his belt. Tom was excited, but not at all frightened. His only fear was that perhaps Dick had been wounded or killed by the bullet from the musket, and he was eager to get a shot at the person who had just done the shooting.
Suddenly he heard voices, and paused, listening intently.
"I wonder if I got the rebel?" he heard one say.
"Likely you did," replied another voice. "I don't hear the sound of running feet any more."
"Served the rascal right if I put a bullet through him," said the first voice.
"Yes. That is what ought to happen to all rebels."
Tom heard these words, and his heart sank, and then a feeling of anger blazed up in his heart. What if Dick was killed, as these soldiers surmised. It was terrible to contemplate, and acting on the spur of the moment, Tom leveled his pistol, pointing in the direction from which the voices sounded, and pulled the trigger.
Crack! went the pistol, and a howl of pain, rage and surprise commingled went up on the night air.
"Oh—ow!—ouch! I'm shot!" cried one of the voices. "There are other rebels at hand, comrade! Perhaps we're surrounded!"
This gave Tom an idea, and he at once acted upon it. If he could make the redcoats think there were a number of patriot soldiers around, they might be put to flight, and then he could look for Dick, and learn whether he were injured.
"Come on, boys!" he yelled loudly. "Charge the scoundrelly redcoats! Kill them! At them, I say!" And then, drawing his other pistol, he fired another shot.
He had no way of knowing whether this bullet hit either of the redcoats, but he had evidence that it was effective in one way, for he heard the British soldiers going tearing down the slope, through the underbrush at a great rate. They had undoubtedly been seized with a panic and taken to their heels.
Tom waited till he could no longer hear any sounds of the fleeing redcoats, and then he called out:
"Dick! Oh, Dick!"
The Brothers Together
Almost at once came the reply:
"Tom! Oh, Tom, is that you?"
"Yes, Dick. I'll be right with you."
He hastened in the direction from which Dick's voice sounded, and a few minutes later was at his side.
"What in the world brought you here, Tom?" queried Dick. "I was never so surprised in my life as when I heard your voice."
"I'll tell you why I come, Dick. After you left your quarters in New York, I got to thinking, and I remembered what I had told mother-that I would go to war with you and fight side by side with you, you know, and I thought of how I had let you go away on a dangerous spying expedition alone, and I decided to follow you. I went and asked permission of General Washington to come over here, and he gave it."
"He was willing for you to come, then, was he?"
"Yes. He held back a little at first, but when I told him about having promised mother I would stick by you, he then said I might come."
"Well, it has been all right, so far. You got here just in time to frighten those redcoats away, but I don't believe that two can do spy-work successfully."
"We don't need to both actually do the spy-work, Dick. You can do that, and I'll stay back and wait and watch, and then if anything should happen to you, I would perhaps be able to render you some assistance."
"True. Well, now that you are here, you may as well stay with me. We'll go on down in the neighborhood of the British encampment together, and then you can hunt at hiding-place and I will go ahead and see what I can do in the way of spying."
"Very well, Dick. That will suit me."
"You were not hit by the bullet from the redcoat's musket, Dick?" somewhat anxiously.
"No, Tom. At the very moment he fired I tripped over a vine and fell headlong to the ground. I was still lying there when I heard you fire your pistol, and then I heard you yell, 'Come on, boys', and recognized your voice; but I was sorely puzzled. I didn't know what to think. I almost thought I must have dreamed it."
"I hit one of the rascals, Dick," he chuckled. "I'll warrant you he did not think it was a dream."
"Likely no," with an answering chuckle. "Well, let's move."
They set out down the slope, moving at a fair pace, pausing occasionally to listen. All was quiet, however. The redcoat pickets had evidently retreated to the British encampment.
When Dick and Tom emerged from the timber, at the foot of the slope, they were able to go at a faster pace, and they set out in the direction in which they believed the enemy's camp to be. They walked onward about half an hour, and then came upon a little clump of trees. Feeling certain that they must be in the vicinity of the British encampment, they went in among the trees and stopped.
"Wait here a few minutes, Tom" said Dick. "I'm going to climb a tree and see if I can see the campfires of the enemy."
Dick climbed a tree on the south side of the clump, and looked toward the south. He was rewarded by seeing the twinkling lights of the campfires, seemingly at no very great distance.
"There is the encampment, sure enough," he murmured. "Well, now, the question is, How am I to get into the camp and secure information regarding the plans of the British?"
This was a poser. It certainly seemed like a hopeless task, but Dick Dare was not a youth to be easily discouraged. He had come here to spy on the British and learn their plans, and he would do so, if such a thing were possible.
He climbed down and told his brother that he had seen the campfires of the British.
"Good," said Tom. "But, what are you going to do next, Dick? How are you going to get into their encampment?"
"I decided on my course, Tom," he said, "before I started out."
"What are you going to do?" eagerly.
"I'm going to enter the British encampment boldly and tell them that I want to join the army."
"Goodness! That will be dangerous, brother!"
"Yes, but one can't do spy-work without encountering danger."
"I know that. Do you think that you can succeed, Dick?"
"I'm going to try."
"Will they take you into the army-a boy like you?"
"General Washington did."
"But the British army may be different. They may think that they don't need help badly enough for them to accept boys as recruits."
"Well, even if that is the case, I will succeed in entering the British encampment, Tom."
"That's so. That part will be all right."
"When are you going to approach the encampment? Now?"
"Yes, I don't see any use of waiting."
"What shall I do?"
"You had better stay right here or in this vicinity."
"All right. When do you think you will be back?"
"I don't know. Possibly to-morrow night."
"I'm to wait till you come?"
"But, I'll get hungry before to-morrow night."
"Go to a farmhouse in the morning and get some food. There must be farmhouses near."
"That's so. I can do that."
"Well, I may as well be going. Good-bye, Tom."
"Good-bye, Dick; and-be careful, brother! If anything should happen to you, it would break mother's heart."
"I'll be careful, Tom. You had better keep your eyes open, too, for the redcoats may come prowling around here to-morrow, and you must not let them capture you."
"I'll not let them get me, brother."
Then Dick took his departure. He had some time since decided upon his course, and as soon as he was a short distance away from the clump of trees, he set out at a brisk walk, and made no effort at concealment. He did not care, now, if he were halted by a British picket or sentinel.
He walked swiftly onward, and about twenty minutes later was hailed:
"Halt! Who comes there?"
Dick's heart leaped, and he felt that he was soon to be submitted to an ordeal, but he did not hesitate, and answered firmly and promptly:
"Advance, friend, and give the countersign," was the command.
Dick advanced till within a few yards of the sentinel, whose form he could make out, it being outlined against the light background made by the campfires.
"Halt!" ordered the sentinel. "Give the countersign before you come any further."
"I don't know the countersign," replied Dick, quietly. "But I am a friend, and I wish to see the commander in charge of this army."
"Humph. What do you want to see him for?"
"I want to offer my services to fight for the king."
"Oh, you do, eh?"
"You are a loyal king's man, then, are you?"
"Would I be anxious to join the king's army if I were not?" questioned Dick. He had decided that there could be no harm in deceiving the enemy. In spy-work it would be absolutely necessary to use this means. His conscience did not reproach him in the least, for he felt that he was making the pretense of being a king's adherent in a good cause-that of Liberty.
"What is your name?" the soldier asked.
Dick had decided that it would be best to give a fictitious name, so he gave the first one that came into his mind:
"Harry Fuller," he said.
"Harry Fuller, eh? Well, Harry Fuller, since you are a loyal king's man and wish to join his army, I will see that you have the opportunity. I'll summon the officer of the guard and he will conduct you to the commander of the force."
"This isn't the full army, then?" queried Dick.
"One division of it," was the curt reply. "There's enough of it here for you to join, I guess, if you really mean business."
The sentinel summoned the officer of the guard, explained matters to him, and then the officer conducted Dick into the encampment, and to a tent near its center. This was occupied by General Percy, and the officer of the guard entered and exchanged a few words with the general, who was writing at a little, portable desk, by the light of a candle, and then he emerged and said to Dick:
"The general will see you."
Then he ushered the youth into the tent, at the same time announcing:
"Harry Fuller, General Percy."
The British general looked up, eyed Dick sharply for a few moments, and then said:
"Well, Harry Fuller, so you wish to join the British army and fight for the king, eh?"
Dick had met the searching gaze of the officer unflinchingly, and now he answered promptly and firmly:
"Yes, sir; such is my wish."
"Humph. How old are you?"
"Rather young, but no matter. You can hold a musket and shoot as good as a man, without doubt, so should make a good soldier. I accept your offer, and will assign you to Colonel Harker's regiment."
Then he scribbled a brief note, handed it to Dick and said: "Give that to the colonel. He will take care of you." Lifting his voice, he called out: "Orderly!"
An orderly entered at once, and saluted.
"Conduct this young man to Colonel Harker. That is all. Good-night, young man."
"Good-night, sir," replied Dick, and followed the orderly from the tent and to the point where Harker's regiment was stationed, and to that officer he handed the note from the general.
"Ah, a new recruit," said the colonel, when he had read the note. "Very well, Harry Fuller, you are a member of Company H. That is it, yonder. Take your place there." He pointed to the company in question, and Dick saluted and joined the company, taking a seat with the soldiers of Company H, some of whom greeted him with nods, and many looking at him with a slight show of curiosity, but saying nothing. One or two said: "How are you, comrade?"
"I'm all right, I guess," Dick replied to these, smiling.
The soldiers smoked and talked, and Dick sat quietly there and listened. He had an eager interest in all that was said, for he wished to learn all he possibly could. That indeed was what he had come there for.
Dick felt that he had been fortunate in getting within the British lines so easily. And, too, he was lucky to have been accepted as a soldier. He naturally had feared that his youth would be against him, and that he would be refused on that account. But such had not been the case, his youth had not counted against him, and he was now in the British camp, playing the part of a British soldier.
In the Enemy's Camp
Dick Dare had accomplished what had seemed to be the most difficult part of the task that he had come here to accomplish, viz.: Gotten within the British lines, had become, in fact, a member of the British army.
So far so good. Now to secure information that would be of value to General Washington and a benefit to the great Cause of Liberty.
"What's your name?" asked one of the British soldiers.
"Harry Fuller," Dick replied
"Where do you live?"
"Oh, about ten miles from here," replied the youth
"Yes," replied Dick.
"And so you have joined the king's army and are going to help make it hot for the rebels, hey" with a chuckle. "Good for you."
"Yes," said Dick, "I am eager to get a chance to strike blows against the rebels. How soon do you think that will happen? When are we likely to get into a battle with them?"
"Hard telling, young man. That's for the generals to say. What their plans may be is more than I can say."
"I have heard it rumored in our part of the country that he British will make an attack on the rebels soon. That's the reason I came here to-night. I thought maybe the attack might be made to-morrow, and if I didn't get here to-night, I would not arrive in time for the fight."
"We might be ordered to move against the rebels to-morrow, for all I know," was the reply. "And then again we might be left sitting here a week or a month. I haven't any idea when the move will be made."
"I hope it will be soon," declared Dick, with a view to keeping up the pretense of being imbued with an intense desire to get at the rebels.
"You'll get a chance to do all the fighting you care for, one of these days, young fellow," said another soldier. "Don't worry on that score."
"I'm not worrying about it, sir," said Dick.
"Do you think you will fight when the time comes?" half-sneered another, rather evil-featured fellow, leering at Dick. "I'd be willing to wager that you'll do more running than fighting."
"You might lose your money if you wagered it that way," said Dick, quietly, gazing steadily at the speaker.
"I might, but I don't think I would," with a harsh laugh. "I don't think much of the bravery of the Americans, whether rebels or king's men. They are not the kind that make good soldiers."
"I suppose you think that you are," said Dick, calmly.
"I know it, sonny!" fiercely. "I've been tried in the fire, do you hear? I'm a veteran, and have seen service in the fields of Europe, India and Africa."
"You seem to be great at blowing your own horn, at any rate," said Dick, quietly. And several of the other soldiers sitting near snickered, which seemed to anger the other very much.
"Do you mean to insult me?" he cried, glancing fiercely at Dick.
"Oh, no," coolly. "I was simply stating a fact, that is all."
"Well, you had better be careful, that's all I have got to say!" snarled the redcoat, viciously. "If you weren't a boy, I would give you a thumping for what you have already said."