Author: minagah PM
Stasi returns for more adventures until an unexpected turn of events curtails her activities. Jeremy finally confesses to his father.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Words: 16,788 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 10-19-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3844614
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: The Yankee Doodle Society, Captain Yankee Doodle, and all recognizable fictional characters from the TV series "The Young Rebels" do not belong to me. The characters are borrowed for the purpose of entertaining fans of the show with no intention of copyrighting, publishing, or monetary gain. However, the story itself belongs to me and should not be copied, printed or posted elsewhere without the author's permission. This story is fiction. Any apparent relationship to real people (other than historical figures) is unintended and purely coincidental.
Late January 1781
Major John Andre had been hanged three months ago and Benedict Arnold appointed to command the British forces in Virginia.
Washington and Lafayette were still in the north.
'Benedict Arnold has been given the command of British troops in Virginia, Gilbert,' General George Washington stated to Lafayette, 'He attacked Richmond a week ago. Governor Thomas Jefferson has requested our help. I want you to lead a detachment against him.'
Lafayette, still smarting at Arnold's defection, answered respectfully, 'I will do my best, mon General.'
'I know you will. Just inflict the biggest defeat on him that you can achieve!'
The Frenchman grinned, 'That would be satisfying, sir.'
'A detachment is ready to go to Virginia. I want you to take charge of them. Are you taking Stasi and Michel with you?'
'Maybe I will. Stasi is a good agent and Michel can fight with me.'
'Captain Larkin will be waiting for you in Annapolis. He will have British troop positions and any other information you may need.'
'It will be good to be working with the Yankee Doodle Society again. I still think it is time Jeremy told his father about his secret activities.'
'That's up to him, but I agree with you. It will be at least two weeks before you can leave, so go and prepare for your journey.'
Lafayette saluted his superior officer, 'It will be done, General.'
'Good luck, my friend.'
Lafayette left the great man's presence to ride back to Newport, Rhode Island.
He called Stasi & Michel to his quarters to apprise them of the situation.
'You will both be going with me,' he informed them.
'Will I be Stasi or Rachel?' Stasi wanted to know.
'Prepare for both. I may need you to gather information for me. Arnold is marching for Williamsburg, so there will be no problem with him identifying you. You will be working with Captain Larkin, as usual.'
'It will be good to see Jeremy again, Gilbert. It has been too long!'
'He has been busy in the south for us. Thanks to the group, we have information of British movements.'
'When do we travel?'
'Two weeks at least. Comte de Rochambeau is meeting with us on February 15th and we can leave after then.'
Stasi's eyes glowed at the thought of action. She had been bored with the inactivity since her release from Benedict Arnold's clutches.
He camped outside Baltimore and went into town to purchase the necessary clothes and equipment for his troops then continued on his march.
Lafayette called Stasi and the Yankee Doodle Society to his tent.
The small tent seemed overcrowded with Sergeant Boggs and Colonel Gimat there also.
'My friends, I must leave you for a short time. The men will remain camped here until I return. Stasi and Jeremy, I wish you to go to Richmond.'
'Sir, Arnold knows us.'
'Stasi will be as Stasi, not Rachel. He does know her as such, but I do not think he will expect her to be there. You, Captain, will be there only to keep her safe.'
'Aye, sir. Isak can come with us?' Jeremy asked.
'Non, take Henry. Arnold has seen Isak. He does not know Henry.'
'Grand frere, where are you going?' Stasi queried her brother.
'I have to go to Yorktown to meet with von Steuben. I will be as fast as I can. Daniel, you and Gimat will ride with me.'
'Sir, General Washington won't like you traveling with only a few men,' Daniel Boggs interjected.
'Sergeant, get me some civilian clothes. We will travel faster with only the three of us.'
Boggs was about to protest, but one glance at his General and he bolted from the tent to obey the request.
He returned scant minutes later with a bundle in his arms. Lafayette dismissed the group only to appear shortly outside the tent in civilian clothing.
Stasi ran to him. 'Gilbert, be careful. The British are everywhere.'
He hugged her then set her aside as an aide led the horses to him. 'Go and tell Michel what is happening, ma souer. He already knows about my journey.' He then turned to Jeremy and with a wink he gently pushed Stasi toward the American, 'I am entrusting her to your safekeeping, Jeremy.'
Jeremy nodded, silently thinking about the mission ahead of him.
'I would suggest you three leave here in the morning. You have a long journey ahead of you, as I do.'
'Aye, sir, we will leave at dawn. God speed!'
'Et tu, mon ami.'
They watched as Lafayette and his two aides rode south into the dusk.
Stasi, in her usual garb, listened to British soldiers talking among themselves. She informed Jeremy each night of her findings.
On the fifth day she learned that Arnold was combining forces with General Phillips and intended to return to the town to destroy it and all the military stores that were concentrated there.
'Why would he return here?' Jeremy was puzzled, 'He sacked the town almost two months ago.'
'Consensus is that he wants to destroy the whole town so we cannot buy the stores we need, thus he thinks he can bring Gilbert to a surrender.'
'Lafayette would never surrender, especially to Arnold.'
'I know, but Arnold does not! Give me a few more days and I will have some more information.'
'We will have to go back to Annapolis soon, Stasi. Only two days, that's all I will give you.'
Stasi pouted, but agreed with Jeremy.
Henry, meanwhile, had also been busy. He had collected some much needed supplies for his work, including gunpowder, fuses and detonators.
'Arnold is on his way. I have to get you out of this area, Stasi. Henry, have you got all you need?'
'Aye, Jeremy, I have the pack horse loaded and ready to travel.'
'Stasi, have you found out any more about Cornwallis?'
'I have. We will have to compare information when we arrive in Annapolis.'
'That we will! We must travel tonight if we are to avoid Arnold and Phillips. Are you ready?'
Stasi and Henry both nodded as they prepared to break camp.
It was while traveling from Fredericksburg to Alexandria, they encountered what they thought was a routine British patrol.
'We can't outrun them,' Jeremy stated, 'And they have already seen us. Be prepared to brazen it out. Have your weapons ready.'
Stasi immediately made to pull her gun from her waistband, but Jeremy forestalled her.
'Not yet! I don't want them to see us as a threat.'
She nodded in understanding and moved her hand away from the weapon.
They rode slowly toward the British troops.
Too late Stasi recognized the leader of the group.
'Jeremy, it is Major North!' she stopped dead and stared at her former captor.
'Henry, you and Stasi go!' Jeremy ordered, 'I'll delay them until you are clear.'
'Non, Captain, I am staying. I have something to settle with this man,' Stasi interjected, 'Henry can ride off with the packhorse and prepare some small explosives while we attempt to delay them.'
'Stasi, Lafayette will hang me if anything happens to you! Go with Henry!'
'Non! I will stay.'
Jeremy shook his head as he motioned for Henry to ride off northwards.
'So!' he snarled at Jeremy, 'We meet again! This time 'twill be I who wins!'
'Think again, Major,' Jeremy grinned, 'You have to catch us first!'
Major North signaled to his soldiers to surround the pair, but to his surprise, Jeremy and Stasi rode straight for them, scattering them across the road, unseating a few as well.
'Into the trees!' Jeremy ordered Stasi as he veered his horse into the forest.
The trees were thick enough to hide them from the Major and his troops once they had recovered from the shock of his audacity. They rode as fast as they could allow safely.
'Let the horses go!' Jeremy dismounted and pulled Stasi up a tree as she followed suit. From their perch in the thick foliage they watched as the British troops charged under them in pursuit of the two horses.
'They will be back,' Stasi breathed as they swung down from their perch.
'I know! Let's go find Henry.'
As they trudged through the forest away from the troops they heard the sounds of the British troops' fruitless search.
He was seemingly busy. He glanced up when they appeared from the forest.
'Give me a few minutes then we will be able to go.'
'What are you doing, Henry?' Jeremy was curious.
'Just making a few little surprises for the British.'
Jeremy shook his head and glanced at Stasi to see she was trying not to laugh.
'Stasi will have to ride the packhorse. I'll double with you, Henry. If we can make that abandoned farm we saw near Alexandria, we should be able to arrange an ambush for the Major and his troops if he follows us.'
Henry finished his work and handed a small bundle to each of them.
'Meanwhile these will have to do. Throw them at the troops and watch them run.'
Neither Jeremy or Stasi asked questions as they mounted and rode warily toward Alexandria in the dusk.
They found the farmhouse Jeremy had mentioned, a ride of two hours. Situated a few miles north of Alexandria, it was a location that could be defended easily.
Henry laid his traps around the perimeter of the area while they settled the horses and prepared to spend a few days in the barn loft.
The following afternoon Jeremy rode back into Alexandria to buy two horses. He was successful in his quest and returned to Stasi and Henry within an hour.
'A British patrol was in town yesterday afternoon asking questions about us,' Jeremy informed his companions.
'That sounds like Major North is not going to give up,' Stasi commented.
'They went north after no one had seen us. They must have passed here sometime during the night. 'Tis strange we did not hear them.'
'We may as well move on,' Henry stated, 'Now we have horses, we can travel faster.'
'That makes him a day ahead of us. I don't think he would expect us to be behind him,' Jeremy surmised, 'We'll move out at sundown.'
Whilst they prepared to travel they coordinated a plan should anything happen on the journey back to Annapolis – Stasi and Henry were to ride on ahead to Lafayette while Jeremy decoyed the British.
Stasi protested this plan, but Jeremy stated, ''Tis me they want! Stasi, I cannot let them capture you.'
'But they will hang you, Jeremy!'
'Not if I can help it! I'll meet you at the camp as soon as I can.'
They rode out at sundown into the falling dusk, travelling through the forest.
'Stasi?' Jeremy queried, 'What is wrong?'
'I do not know, Jeremy, but something is telling me not to go to the camp!'
'What do you mean?'
'Something is wrong, Jeremy, very wrong!'
'We'll check out the camp before riding into it. Will that suit you?'
Stasi nodded and as they neared the camp they slowed to a walk.
'Where are the sentries?' Henry asked.
Jeremy stopped. ''Tis unusual. We should have been challenged by now. We'll find a clearing to camp for what remains of this night and do some scouting in the morning.'
They spent a restless night in the forest about a mile from the camp.
'I do not know any of the sentries, Jeremy.'
Knowing Stasi had a good memory for faces and would likely know every soldier in Lafayette's command, Jeremy nodded.
'Isak and Michel would help us if they were available, but it seems we're on our own,' he said, 'Go back to camp and help Henry. I won't be long.'
Stasi bolted through the trees. Jeremy followed her minutes later.
'I don't know how, but Major North has taken over the camp,' he reported, 'Most of Lafayette's men are in tents at the back of the camp.'
'Could we free any of them?' Henry asked.
'Maybe. We would need a diversion,' Jeremy was thinking all the time, 'Can you set up something?'
'Of course! We still have the small explosives which will detonate on impact. I could also try some gunpowder around the perimeter.'
'Good! We will set it all up tonight. The sentries don't seem to worry too much about small noises. They must think that there are a few wild animals close by.'
'I'll start preparing things now,' Henry walked to the packhorse and unloaded a few packages.
'Stasi,' Jeremy turned to her, 'I want you to ride to back to Fredericksburg to warn Lafayette. Stay at the inn until he arrives.'
'But, Jeremy, I will be more help here.'
'Nay, Stasi, warn your brother! If anything happens to us, you also have the information Lafayette needs about Arnold and Phillips.'
'When do you want me to go?'
'Leave tonight when Henry and I are setting up the diversion.'
Retreating to their camp they watched the British, hoping the sentries were not too observant. Their luck held and their handiwork went undetected.
She booked into an inn and decided to rest for a while. She fell asleep, wakening in the dawn's early light.
She made herself a meal consisting of cheese and bread from her saddlebags, washing it down with water from her flask. She debated whether to ride back toward Richmond in the hope of encountering her brother on the way, but thought better of it. She instead decided to replenish her supplies and prepare to wait.
Night fell quickly and they moved swiftly into position. Henry would detonate the explosives, thus drawing the British from the camp. Jeremy would then attempt to release soldiers from the tents at the rear.
Giving Jeremy time to gain the rear of the camp Henry set the first blast off. British soldiers immediately came running. As he set the others off he watched from the shelter of the trees as they fired at the imaginary enemy.
Jeremy saw the guards run from the tents and slipped inside the first one, releasing one soldier and ordering him to untie his compatriots and let the horses free. In the second tent he found Isak and Michel with others and quickly released them all.
They could hear shouts from the British as they swiftly ran from the camp into the forest.
'The prisoners!' came Major North's voice through the commotion, 'Where are the guards?'
'Move!' Jeremy ordered, leading the soldiers to his camp, 'They will come searching for us. We must go quickly.'
A few of the horses had wandered into the camp and some of the men mounted bareback prepared for a fast exit.
The group of thirty moved out and found a new campsite a few miles north. Jeremy posted sentries then informed Michel and Isak of his plan to route the British and reclaim the camp.
When Lafayette perceived Stasi he was surprised, but surmised Jeremy had sent her.
'Stasi, why are you here? Where is Jeremy?' he asked.
She explained the situation and he nodded.
'Sometimes Jeremy thinks he can take on the whole British army. If he has his way, the British will be deserting the camp by now,' he chuckled, 'We will ride to join him and Henry.'
While Stasi packed her saddlebags Lafayette purchased more supplies.
Jeremy had a problem – he had to find arms for his men!
Investigation had revealed that the guns and powder taken from the men were conveniently stored in a tent in the middle of the camp. How to get to them was another problem to be solved!
Jeremy turned to Henry and asked, 'Do you still have those small explosives?'
'I have a few left, but not enough to cause any great diversion. I can make a few more, but it will take time,' Henry answered, 'If I could have a few men to help, 'twould be finished faster.'
'Take as many men as you need. The rest can come with me,' Jeremy ordered, then turned to Isak and Michel, 'I will need you two to take five men each and position yourselves around the perimeter of the camp. If we are able, we will storm the camp and release the remaining prisoners. Major North has only twenty men and they don't seem too interested in retaliating. After nightfall I will give the signal for you to move. Henry should have some ammunition for you by then.'
Isak and Michel nodded in understanding.
'Who goes there?' came Isak's voice.
Lafayette indicated that Daniel should answer.
'Isak, 'tis Sergeant Boggs!' he called into the darkness.
'Welcome back, sir. Is Stasi with you?'
Stasi peered into the night trying to discern the speaker. 'Isak, where is Michel?' she called.
'He is with Jeremy in the General's tent, Stasi. He'll tell you how we took the camp from Major North.'
'I cannot wait!' Stasi grinned at Lafayette, 'They had all the fun while I was meeting you.'
Lafayette raised his eyebrows and chuckled.
Isak led the way for the riders stopping to call an aide to take the horses as they dismounted.
Jeremy looked up from his seat at the table.
'General, welcome back! I see Stasi found you,' he saluted and vacated the chair.
Lafayette seated himself then looked around at the group. Stasi was standing at her husband's side while Jeremy, Isak and Henry stood before him looking proud of themselves.
'And why are you looking like that, Captain? I presumed you would have waited until I arrived before attempting to liberate the camp.'
'Sir, Major North had the element of surprise on his side when he captured the camp with only twenty men. I surprised him by arriving here after he thought I had gone home to Chester. I assume Stasi informed you of the position we found ourselves in when we arrived here.'
This last sentence was more a statement than a question.
'Oui, Jeremy, she did! We continued our return instead of resting in Fredericksburg as planned, only to find you and the men have reclaimed the camp.'
'Sir, I dared not wait too long as Major North had sent a man for troops from Richmond and I did not want Arnold to arrive here, sir. One of our men apprehended him before he could reach help.'
'So! What happened?' the General was curious, 'Stasi told me you and Henry were preparing a diversion when she left. What happened after that?'
Jeremy described the first attack on the camp.
'And?' Stasi prompted, wanting to hear more.
'Our second attack was to raid the guns and ammunition. We again created a diversion, but this time I had six groups around the camp to take out the sentries. With their guns we held Major North hostage until his men surrendered.'
Lafayette chuckled. 'Blatant audacity,' he laughed, 'And where is Major North now?'
'We have them guarded in the old barn about a mile from here.'
The General nodded. 'I will arrange transport to a prison. How many prisoners do you have, Captain?'
'Fifteen, sir. Five are buried at the rear of the camp.'
'Well done, Captain. You thought your strategy out perfectly. Stasi has also informed me of Arnold's movements. We will march for Richmond as soon as is allowable. Now I suggest we all get some sleep.'
Within minutes the tent was empty except for Stasi and Michel and Lafayette.
'Gilbert, will I ……?' Stasi began.
'You will retreat to the rear in any battle, Stasi. I will not take the risk of you coming to any harm,' Lafayette forestalled her question.
She launched into a tirade of her native French and was answered in the same language. Michel stifled a chuckle as the brother and sister used language that would never be heard in the French court.
'Stasi!' Lafayette finally admonished, 'We have had this argument before. Leave me! The discussion is over.'
'Se peut-il? I do not think so!'
She stormed from the tent as Michel grinned at Lafayette.
'Gilbert, you know she will not be at the rear.'
'I know, Michel, but I have to try to make her see sense.'
'You will not win against her!'
'Get some sleep, mon ami, tomorrow is another day,' the General chuckled.
Michel was still chuckling as he followed Stasi to their tent.
Lafayette then ordered his men to prepare for the march to Richmond. He called Jeremy to his tent.
'Captain, you should go home to your father. He will be worried about you.'
Jeremy looked puzzled, 'Sir, I thought I was coming with you.'
'You have been away for two months, Jeremy. Is it not time to tell your father where you have been and what you are doing?'
'General, I…I would rather not.'
'And have him continue thinking that you are a worthless cad? Jeremy, your father needs to respect you! If you want me to come with you I will, but I must return here as soon as is possible.'
Jeremy sighed, 'I would like that, General.'
'Prepare to ride within the hour, Captain.'
'Yes, sir!' Jeremy saluted and left the tent to inform Isak and Henry of the General's orders.
Six riders rode northwards from the camp – Lafayette, Stasi, Jeremy, Isak, Henry and Sergeant Boggs.
Arriving at Head of Elk Lafayette received a remittance from Washington instructing Lafayette to put himself under the command of General Greene and move his detachment further south.
He swore in his native language, but continued to Chester.
Isak stabled the horses while Lafayette and Stasi accompanied Jeremy to his home.
They discussed possible ways to explain Jeremy's prolonged absence.
'I would rather be going with you, General,' Jeremy looked uncomfortable as they walked along the cobblestones.
'I could ask your father for permission for you to escort me to Annapolis again,' Stasi grinned at Jeremy, then turned to Lafayette, 'What do you think, Gilbert?'
Lafayette chuckled and smiled at her, 'Dressed like that!' He eyed her up and down, 'You could, but I have a better idea.'
Stasi gave him a cool stare and sighed, 'Pray tell me!' she said haughtily, trying not to laugh.
'Jeremy is a superb marksman, as are you. I need him to train my men while we are in Annapolis.'
'It is plausible! But will his father believe it?' She remained unconvinced.
Lafayette turned to Jeremy, 'What do you think, Captain?'
'As long as you don't call me that in front of him.'
'You do realize we may have to tell him the truth?'
'Yes, sir, but I want to avoid that if possible.'
'It may not be possible, Jeremy, you realize that, do you not?'
Jeremy nodded, 'My father will be leaving soon. We should go and see him now.'
'I agree with you, my friend. Let us go!'
He recognized Lafayette and Stasi and his eyebrows rose in surprise.
'Jeremy!' Samuel was relieved to see his son in one piece, 'Where have you been for these last weeks?'
Jeremy looked at Lafayette before he spoke, 'Father, the General has something to say.'
'General Lafayette, what brings you back to Chester?' he queried respectfully.
'Mr. Larkin, I cannot lie to you. Jeremy has been helping me these last weeks,' Lafayette stated, 'I have a -how do you say? - favour to ask of you, Mr. Larkin.'
'A favour, General? What can I do for you?'
'I need Jeremy as a protector for my sister, Stasi, and, as he is an excellent marksman I .…….'
'Your sister? I was told Stasi was your cousin.'
'We both believed that until recently, Mr. Larkin. I will explain later.'
'What is going on here?' the Mayor was skeptical, 'Something is not right.'
'Father, I….' Jeremy began, but was cut off mid-sentence.
'Are you going to tell me exactly what you have been doing that kept you from home for almost two months?' Samuel demanded, 'As your father I have a right to know where you have been!'
Jeremy nodded as Lafayette glanced at him.
'Go ahead, sir,' he said in a resigned tone.
'Mr. Larkin, you have heard of Yankee Doodle?'
Samuel nodded, 'Who has not?'
The General continued, 'Jeremy is Captain Yankee Doodle. I commissioned him four years ago. He has been helping me for those four years. Robert knew, but did not approve of the secrecy.'
The Mayor sat down suddenly, 'My son is Yankee Doodle?' he said in disbelief, 'We always knew he was from Chester, but no one ever saw him.'
Samuel stood to embrace his son, 'And you let me think you were a lazy, good for nothing scoundrel!' he said gruffly.
'I am sorry, Father, but no one could know! We had to maintain the secrecy.'
'I suppose Isak and Henry are part of this, too?'
'Yes, Father, and Elizabeth.'
'Elizabeth? John Coates would disown her if he knew.'
'I know, Father. He must not know!'
'Sir, I need Jeremy's services and request your permission for him to accompany my command.'
'Go safely, my son,' Samuel murmured, releasing Jeremy and turning to the General, 'Do what you have to to keep him alive, General. I will be in your debt.'
'Mayor Larkin, I will do everything within my power to protect Captain Larkin. Now we must take our leave.'
They shook hands and Jeremy quickly left the house with his companions.
'Relieved!' Jeremy sighed, 'I don't have to lie to him now.'
'I still think you should have told him long ago, Captain,' Lafayette stated.
'I know, sir, but if my father should have inadvertently said something, I would have been on a British gallows long ago.'
The General nodded.
They swiftly returned to the smithy where Isak had readied six fresh horses.
They rejoined Lafayette's troops the next evening near Alexandria where they had established a camp outside the town.
Lafayette called Generals Thomas Nelson, von Steuben and Brigadier General Weedon to him.
Lafayette informed them once they had established themselves in quarters in the town, 'We will fight to protect this city. I will need all of you to be prepared to fight at short notice.'
'Sir,' Jeremy asked as they walked back to Lafayette's headquarters, 'Do you want us to scout the area between here and Williamsburg?'
'Take Boggs, Isak and Stasi, Captain, I will need Henry here,' the General replied, 'If you happen upon Arnold or Phillips, come straight back.'
'Yes, sir,' Jeremy bolted away from Lafayette to find the three people who would accompany him.
They were back within an hour, riding hard.
'Come inside, Jeremy, and tell me why you are in such a hurry.'
The four followed him into the house to a small room set aside as an office.
'Sir, Arnold is less than an hour's ride from here. He and Phillips have about two thousand men between them.'
'Sergeant, ready the men!' Lafayette ordered, then turned to Jeremy again as Boggs left the room, 'Did Arnold see you?'
'Nay, sir, but he did see Stasi when she rode to join me. He gave chase, but we outran him.'
'You will stay here!' Lafayette turned to his sister, 'That way I do not have to worry about you.'
'Gilbert!!!!' she protested.
'Stasi, you will obey orders for once!' he glared at her.
'Jeremy will stay with you. That way I will know you are both safe.'
Stasi glanced at Jeremy, 'We have been banished,' she grinned, then winked at him.
'I must go! Jeremy, keep her here until you hear from me!'
Jeremy saluted smartly, 'I will do my best, sir.'
Lafayette strode out of the house to join his men.
He smiled at her, 'I don't know what you have in mind, but I will not be a part of it.'
She looked angelic, 'Jeremy, you know I do not like being inactive. Gilbert was wrong to leave me here.'
'Stasi!' he sighed in exasperation as cannon fire exploded nearby.
'Gilbert has engaged the enemy, Jeremy. I am going to join him and Michel.'
'Even if I have to tie you down, I'll try to stop you.'
As he spoke she was buckling on her sword, which she had retrieved from the office. Her gun was already fitted snugly in her waistband.
'Stasi! Don't do this!'
She slipped past him, taking him unprepared, ran from the house then mounted her horse and galloped for the action.
'Come back here, Stasi!' he yelled above the noise of the battle, mounting and giving chase along the street.
Gunfire sounded, cannon roared and a smoky haze began to accrue over the city.
Stasi could hear the officers yelling orders to the troops as they charged.
He acknowledged the deed then threw himself into the fray standing alongside her and Lafayette.
'Stasi!' Lafayette bellowed at her, 'Get out of here!'
She ignored the order as she ran behind him to engage a soldier in a sword fight. She lunged and parried, parried and lunged, finally running him through when he tired.
Lafayette threw a punch that laid Phillips out then turned to her. 'Stasi, do you not know what an order is?'
She raised her eyebrows at him and turned to continue fighting.
'They are running!' she heard someone say, 'We beat them!'
'Non, mon ami,' Lafayette muttered, 'This is only the beginning.'
They watched as the British withdrew to a safe distance, then made their way back to the town, leaving a detachment to protect their rear.
'Gilbert, I have proved I can look after myself! Will you not give me the chance to do so again?'
'Anastasie!' She knew she had driven him too far this time. He had never called her by her full name. 'I do not know what you are trying to do, but you try my patience!'
'I only wish to fight with you, Gilbert.'
He shook his head and turned to Michel, 'Get her out of my sight! If you do not, I may murder her!'
Michel dragged a protesting Stasi to their room.
'Why did you do it, ma cherie?' he asked gently, 'You anger Gilbert so. I have never seen him yell at you before. He never calls you by your full name.'
'He will soon forget about it, mon amour. He does not stay angry at me for long.'
'I worry about you, also, Stasi.'
Suddenly weary, she sighed, 'I know, Michel, but…..'
'I know, ma cherie,' he said gently, 'but that rebel in you is part of what I love about you.'
'Je t'aime, mon amour, et je t'aimerai toujours. J'ai besoin de toi, tu es l'air que je respire, le rêve auquel j'aspire, le seul, l'unique,' she whispered, twining her arms around his neck inviting his kiss.
'Arnold will not be satisfied with today's skirmish. He will attack again until we drive him from his purpose.
Your orders stand. If we lose we will regroup and wait for General Washington and Comte Rochambeau to arrive with reinforcements.'
'How long will that be, General?' one of them queried.
'I do not know. A messenger has been sent to General Washington informing him of our current position, but I do not intend to lose. We will drive Arnold out of Richmond!'
This statement was met with a cheer, the captains being like-minded.
'Captain Larkin, can you stay, s'il vous plait?' the General addressed Jeremy then turned to the rest of the group, 'Go back to your men and be prepared for action.'
With salutes all round the officers filed out of the room.
'Jeremy, I want you to follow Arnold and Phillips and report their movements to me. Take Isak and Henry with you. It is a pity Arnold knows you. We could have infiltrated his ranks.'
'Could you send someone he doesn't know?'
'I could, but not someone I could trust enough.'
'I will leave immediately, sir.'
Henry and Isak welcomed the thought of some action, be it just trailing the British.
Suspecting that Phillips might go to Williamsburg, Lafayette directed Nelson's militia to go to Williamsburg. Weedon was sent with his militia corps to Fredericksburg.
Lafayette's wagon train finally arrived, along with dispatches from the northern headquarters. Washington invited Lafayette to return to the northern headquarters if he preferred. Lafayette stayed.
Lafayette moved toward Petersburg a week later, but never entered the city.
Within two days they were travelling from city to town to hamlet, listening to stray redcoats and locals alike.
Stasi was in Petersburg when she encountered Arnold as the British entered the town from the south. She spun round and let her horse have its head. Arnold cursed and gave chase with a few of his men.
Stasi knew Jeremy would be in the vicinity and made towards Richmond. She had to ride almost ten miles to reach Osborne's.
Reaching the river at Osborne's she had to make a hasty decision – ride along the bank toward Richmond or swim across. She chose the latter, plunging her horse into the icy water, letting it make its own pace.
Arnold reached the bank and drew his pistol. He fired and missed. Stasi glanced back to see him reloading for another shot at her. She slipped from the saddle, clinging to the reins as the shot came too close. A third shot rang out and she felt as if her head exploded as she lost consciousness.
'Stasi!' he screamed, dismounting and diving into the river to swim toward her, oblivious of Arnold and his men, now in the water. Stasi's horse made the bank and joined Jeremy's where it was grazing.
Jeremy dived in an attempt to find his companion, but to no avail. He dived again and again with the same result.
With tears in his eyes he returned to the bank.
It was then he remembered he had some of Henry's small packages in his saddlebags. He reached his horse and found the items he was looking for. Throwing one at the advancing British he was grateful he hit something solid in the shape of a horse and a small blast followed. He missed a few but managed to halt the British, who returned to the far bank.
With that threat out of the way he walked downstream leading the horses in the hope Stasi had drifted with the current.
Dusk was falling, but he took no notice. He had only one thing in mind – to find Stasi!
Hearing a sound Jeremy approached with caution. The sound came again, as if something or some one was in pain. He found Stasi minutes later lying on the bank clear of the water. She was conscious, but only just.
'Stasi, can you hear me?' he asked gently, cradling her in his arms, 'Stasi, wake up!' Stasi groaned. This intrusion into her sleep was unwanted, but the voice came again, this time more urgent.
'Stasi, talk to me. Please! Come on, you can do it!'
'Jeremy?' she whispered, 'Jeremy?'
'Thank God!' he sighed in relief, 'I thought you were dead!'
'What happened? I remember Arnold chasing me, then nothing.'
'You have a crease on your forehead where Arnold's shot hit you.'
'I have a headache!' she said wryly.
'So you should have! Other than that, are you all right?'
Stasi sat up slowly, now fully conscious. She shook her head then grabbed it in both hands.
'I feel like my head is going to explode, but other than that, everything else seems to be working,' she groaned.
'We'll camp here the night. I have to get you dry.'
'What about you?'
'I'll manage. Stay here while I find some firewood.'
'I am not going anywhere,' she groaned again and lay back down.
The sound of her voice near normal was music to his ears. He looked at her and smiled.
'Thank God, you are all right!' he breathed as he helped her to her feet, 'Do you feel like travelling?'
'My headache is almost gone. I will ride even if you have to rope me to my horse.'
'I don't think there will be any need for that. Have something to eat then we'll move on.'
'Exactly where are we?'
'Almost two miles downstream from where Arnold shot you on the opposite bank.'
'I rode ten miles with Arnold in pursuit. I do not know how I stayed ahead of him.'
'Desperation can make you do anything, Stasi.'
She nodded as they shared some food before riding out.
'Mere de Dieu!' Lafayette swore, taking in Stasi's appearance, slumped in the saddle with a makeshift bandage on her head, 'What happened?'
'She had an encounter with Arnold. Luckily she was in the river and drifted downstream where I found her,' Jeremy answered, 'I thought she was dead.'
Both Frenchmen exchanged glances of horror at the thought.
'I will tell you the details later. We must get her back to camp,' Jeremy said, 'What are you two doing here?'
'I needed some time away from camp, mon ami,' Lafayette answered, 'The camp is only two miles away across the river. Come, we will escort you, Captain.'
Michel and Lafayette rode each side of Stasi with Jeremy at the rear. She looked ready to fall from the saddle, but her determination kept her upright.
'Get Henry!' he threw over his shoulder as he carried her into his tent.
Henry came at a run, being summoned by one of the aides.
'Sir?' he asked as he came into the tent.
'Look after her, Henry,' Lafayette ordered, leaving the tent.
'Captain, merci! Michel and I are in your debt,' he embraced Jeremy.
'Sir, I only did my duty.'
'Get some rest, mon ami, we will break camp tomorrow and return to Richmond. Your report can wait.'
'I would rather give it to you now, sir.'
'Jeremy, if I know you as well as I should, you did not sleep last night! Go, get some sleep. That is an order, Captain!'
'Yes, sir!' Jeremy saluted and walked away.
'Stasi, 'tis good to see you feeling better.'
'Merci, Jeremy. Henry's potions helped. I still do not know how I got to camp. Maybe now you are here, someone will tell me.'
This last sentence was accompanied by a glare at the two Frenchmen.
'Jeremy will give his report first!' Lafayette ordered.
After listening intently to Jeremy's report, Lafayette grinned, 'You two were busy! Now I think we should tell Stasi what happened.'
They enlightened Stasi's curiosity with a detailed version of events. A courier requested Lafayette's presence and was bidden to enter. The General was handed a message. Lafayette read the dispatch informing him that Phillips had died of fever and had been buried at Petersburg. Arnold was in temporary command of the British force in Virginia, but Lafayette refused to exchange communications with the traitor, instead sending Jeremy and Isak to investigate the British forces while he returned to Richmond.
They returned after three days with the information he required. They reported to the General as he was reading a dispatch from General Greene giving him independent command in Virginia.
Lafayette was reading a message when Jeremy and Stasi entered his tent late one afternoon.
'I wish the Society to go to Monticello, Captain. I have received word that Cornwallis has sent Tarleton to get Thomas Jefferson then on to Charlottesville to capture some legislators.'
'Sir, we will leave immediately,' Jeremy remembered Tarleton from when he was in Chester. The name brought back memories of Robert's death, 'I would like to inflict a blow to him again.'
Lafayette was thinking of the same incident – after Brandywine and the retrieval of American cannon, resulting in the death of one of his best officers, 'Ride through the night if you have to. It is imperative that Jefferson escape.'
'Only the four of us?' Stasi queried.
'Three. I want Henry to stay here with his explosives. We may need them,' Lafayette grinned.
'Watch out for his little blasts!' Jeremy laughed.
The General turned to Stasi, 'You will obey orders, Anastasie Motier!'
Stasi lowered her eyes, surprised he was still angry with her. 'I will do my best, Gilbert, but if ….'
He cut her off before she could finish the sentence.
'I would come with you, but we have to break camp and move south after Anthony Wayne joins us.'
'So we still travel north when we return?'
'Oui, Jeremy, we should be at Mechunk Creek. If you arrive before we do, wait for us. It is best you leave as soon as possible.'
The trio rode out of the camp in the dusk.
They roused Thomas Jefferson from a deep sleep. He was cursing at the intrusion. 'Captain Larkin,' he recognized Jeremy from a visit to Valley Forge, 'Has Lafayette sent you?'
'Sir,' Jeremy answered respectfully, 'Tarleton is on his way here to capture you! You must leave immediately.'
Jefferson was immediately wide awake, 'I will send a servant to rouse the assembly. We will leave as soon as is possible.'
'We must go to Charlottesville to warn them of Tarleton's mission. Where can we get fresh horses, sir?'
'Ride around to the stables and take your pick, Captain. Thank you for the warning!'
The trio did as told and were soon preparing for another hard ride. As they rode past Jefferson's house it was a bustle of activity in preparation for his evacuation.
'Stay with us, Stasi. When we reach the town we will separate and rouse the members of the legislature.'
She matched her horse's pace to theirs until they rode into Charlottesville.
'These are the addresses you have to find, Stasi,' Jeremy handed her a list, 'Meet back here in an hour.'
He handed Isak a similar list and they endeavoured to find the assembly members.
Stasi knocked on the door of the first address she found.
''Tis seven in the morning. Go Away!' came a voice from upstairs.
'Sir, I must warn you that the British officer, Tarleton, is on his way to Charlottesville. I come from Lafayette to warn you.'
'He sends a girl?' came the voice again.
'Sir, there are three of us trying to warn the assembly. Tarleton plans to capture you and your friends.'
'Go away! 'Tis too early!'
'Be it on your head if you disregard the warning, sir!' Stasi gave up and rode to the next address where she had a more positive reaction.
Meeting Jeremy and Isak an hour later she reported the mixed reactions she received.
'I did, also,' Isak said.
'We all did our best. If Tarleton captures any of them 'twill not be our fault,' Jeremy stated, ''Twould be best if we left here as soon as possible. Tarleton will not be far away.'
As they rode north from the town little did they know that Tarleton was entering from the south.
Two days later Lafayette set up camp at Mechunk Creek, and was joined by some 600 Virginia militia men under William Campbell.
This was where Jeremy, Stasi and Isak met him.
General Wayne greeted them jovially. 'Captain Larkin, still not staying home, I see?' he chuckled.
Jeremy grinned in answer, 'Nay, sir, I like to be of service when I can.'
They gave the Generals their reports and retired to their tents to sleep, only to be disturbed by an aide summoning them to Lafayette's tent.
Lafayette left the camp at Mechunk Creek, and followed the British at a distance. Now with almost 4,000 men, he was seeking an advantageous occasion to engage Cornwallis. He remained at Col Dandridge's house, near Allen's Creek, where Von Steuben joined him.
While Lafayette was there Cornwallis reached Richmond.
Lafayette kept following at a safe distance.
When Cornwallis moved toward Jamestown Lafayette closed in.
Lafayette drew about a third of his army to Green Spring, keeping most of his force several miles to the north.
As Wayne advanced Lafayette and the Yankee Doodle Society conducted their own reconnaissance.
They were standing on an extension of land in the James River, overlooking the battle site, when Jeremy pointed out a large contingent of British hidden in the bushes on the northern side of the river.
Lafayette immediately realized the danger.
'We must warn Anthony.'He ran for his horse, the others following suit.
Lafayette rode to his still idle troops and set up a retreat for Wayne while Jeremy, followed by Stasi, Isak and Henry rode to Wayne's side to inform him and join the fray.
Anthony Wayne glanced at Stasi and frowned, but when she downed a redcoat with a clean shot, he was impressed.
In a lull he ordered the centre of his detachment to retreat.
'Captain Larkin!' he bellowed, 'Take some men and charge these imbeciles. I will be right behind you!'
The British were so surprised that the Americans had the audacity to charge them and not retreat, they were in disarray, even though they now outnumbered the Rebels four to one.
This effectively prevented a dangerous disorganized retreat. Wayne's force was able to withdraw without the immediate press of British forces.
The British were unwilling to continue their pursuit in the falling darkness.
'Young Gilbert, you have closely guarded your secret weapon, have you not?'
Lafayette was puzzled, 'What do you mean?'
'I mean Stasi! She is a superb shot. I wondered how a mere girl was to be of help to me when she started fighting alongside me. I was amazed at her ability.'
Lafayette chuckled, 'Anthony, Stasi was brought up with me. She can ride, shoot and fence as good as, if not better than I! It is still a risk to let her have own way.'
Anthony Wayne laughed, 'Your cousin is an asset, Gilbert.'
'My cousin is my sister, Anthony,' the Frenchman somberly informed his friend.
'Did I hear right?' Wayne was stunned.
Lafayette then told him of the circumstances of Stasi's birth.
'No wonder you want to protect her! But, Gilbert, she can look after herself!'
'I know!' Lafayette sighed, 'But I still worry about her.'
'Doesn't every brother!' Wayne stated, 'Are we breaking camp tonight?'
'We will break camp in the morning.'
Lafayette moved to Jamestown the following day.
The General called Jeremy and Isak to his headquarters.
'Isak, I want you to become a slave in the service of the British in Yorktown.'
'Sir?' Isak queried, puzzled.
'You are to meet a slave known as 'James'. You will be my main source of information about Cornwallis' plans. You will pass your information to Jeremy who will be camped somewhere near,' the General explained.
'Sir, may I take Stasi as a backstop?' Jeremy spoke for the first time, 'That way I can send her to you if need be.'
'I did not want to send her, but you have a point, Jeremy,' Lafayette conceded.
'I will tell her to get ready to travel,' Jeremy grinned, knowing he had saved the General an argument with his sister.
Lafayette, thinking the same thing, smiled, 'Thank you, Captain. I may have some peace around here.'
Jeremy left the General and went to find Stasi.
'Our orders are to stay here and wait for Isak to contact us,' Jeremy reminded her.
'Jeremy, admit that you are getting bored, as I am,' Stasi replied.
'I am, but ….'
'I am going into town as Rachel. If I see Isak I will try to contact him.'
She was determined.
Jeremy sighed in resignation, 'I may as well go with you. My orders are clear – I have to protect you.'
'Pourquoi? I can look after myself.'
'Stasi!' Jeremy again admonished, 'I will accompany you.'
Stasi changed into a gown and brushed her dark hair, leaving it loose to hang to her waist.
They left the camp mid morning.
'I do not have to keep looking for Arnold, so there is no need for me to be covert.'
'Stasi, just be careful! There may be officers from Chester here.'
'I will be careful, Captain. I am going to walk around the town and take pleasure in the view.'
Jeremy had to chuckle, 'You will be my undoing!'
They separated, agreeing to meet in the square in an hour.
Jeremy spotted Isak with an officer and deliberately nudged Isak as he ambled past the black man.
Isak nodded perceptibly to Jeremy as he said, 'Sorry, suh. I should have been watching where I was going.'
'That's quite all right, my good man,' Jeremy tried hard to conceal a grin.
'Six tonight! At the inn!' Isak muttered.
'Isak!' British officer accompanying Isak looked back, 'We have to get these goods to Headquarters.'
'Comin', suh,' Isak sent Jeremy a sly grin and scurried to catch the officer.
Jeremy continued his walk through the town and back to the square.
The guards stopped her from entering.
'Miss, you can't go in there!'
She feigned innocence, 'But is this not a public building?'
'Not anymore! General Cornwallis is using it as his headquarters.'
'Oh! I am sorry, Corporal, I didn't know!' she said in her best British accent.
'You must be a visitor to Yorktown, Miss?' It was more a question that a statement.
'I have only this hour arrived. Why is General Cornwallis here? I thought all the fighting was in the north.'
'No, Miss, Yorktown is a strategic point here in Virginia. With Gloucester on the other side, we only need to fortify both towns and the rebels will have no chance.'
'Well, I hope we win, Corporal. Good day to you. I am sorry to have disturbed you.'
'My pleasure, Miss. We don't often see a beautiful young English maid such as yourself.'
'Why, thank you, kind sir!' Stasi dropped a curtsy, 'Your mother should be proud of you. Your manners are excellent. I must go.'
The young soldier blushed, 'Thank you, Miss. It was nice meeting you.'
With that Stasi sauntered away and back to the square.
'You what!?!?' he tried to keep his voice down, but failed.
She laughed as she answered, 'I paid a visit to British Headquarters!'
'Stasi! What did I tell you?'
'Jeremy, I did not get inside. I had a nice chat with the guards.'
Jeremy shook his head at her cheek, 'You will be the death of me yet!' he chuckled, 'And what did you learn?'
'Cornwallis is planning to fortify both Gloucester and Yorktown, thus preventing the French fleet from entering the Bay.'
Jeremy then informed her of his meeting with Isak and the arranged assignation at the inn.
They both saw Isak enter and glanced at each other when they saw he was in the company of the officer Jeremy had described earlier.
The officer found a seat then turned to the dark man, 'Isak, get me a drink!'
Isak obliged, but as he was passing their table slipped a note to Jeremy.
Stasi watched this interaction with interest.
When Isak returned to the bar to get the officer another drink, he deliberately stumbled near Jeremy and Stasi.
Jeremy stood to help him.
'Cornwallis is fortifying Gloucester and guns are being moved about a mile west of here to protect the town,' Isak whispered as he gained his footing.
Jeremy relayed this message to Stasi.
'We had best let Lafayette know as soon as possible,' he said, downing the last of his ale.
They left the inn minutes later to return to their camp.
'Good news, mon ami,' the General greeted Jeremy, 'General Washington will arrive here in the next few days with Count Rochambeau. I have orders to keep Cornwallis in Yorktown.'
'Sir, Cornwallis is planning to fortify Yorktown and Gloucester,' Jeremy reported.
He gave a full report with Stasi adding her information.
Lafayette appeared thoughtful, 'I have had word that De Grasse is at the mouth of the bay. We will have the full French fleet entering the Bay next week. I hope we will be able to delay Cornwallis' attempt at fortification.'
'What would happen if his guns and ammunition were blown up?'
'That is something Henry can think about. Basically, it would mean we could take Yorktown very easily.'
Jeremy grinned as he said, 'Henry and I will work on that! I'll have everything ready within an hour.'
'Jeremy, you realize you are taking a risk?'
'General, I know the risks. I will talk to Henry and see if it can be done.'
'Good luck, Captain.' Lafayette dismissed him then turned to Stasi as Jeremy left the room.
'Even though you did not obey orders, I am grateful for your information, cherie.'
'Ne devenez pas faché, Gilbert,' she beseeched.
'Je suis désolé, ma soeur. Pardonne-moi.' He stood and held out his arms to her.
She threw herself into his embrace and smiled up at him.
'Gilbert, ma grand frere, merci.'
He put her from him and laughed, 'Leave me, you little minx. Go to your husband.'
Stasi fled the room in search of Michel, her brother's laughter following her.
Reporting to Lafayette they told of British forces amassing in Yorktown with Cornwallis.
'We managed to disable about forty guns and blow two ammunition tents, sir,' Jeremy said, 'I thought it prudent we returned here after the second raid.'
After listening to the full report, Lafayette congratulated the pair on the handiwork.
'You can rest for two days before we break camp and move toward Yorktown. Part of the French fleet is in the James River as I speak. They will return to the mouth of the Chesapeake tomorrow and Generals Washington and Rochambeau will arrive tomorrow ahead of their troops.'
Jeremy and Henry left the room and made for their quarters.
He dismounted in front of Lafayette's headquarters and entered the house.
Lafayette, having been informed of his superior's presence, greeted him enthusiastically.
'Mon General, it is my pleasure to welcome you to Williamsburg. Et tu, mon ami!' he added as he welcomed Rochambeau.
'Gilbert, you have been missed in the north,' Washington smiled, 'You have done well to restrict Cornwallis' movements.'
'We are breaking camp tomorrow and moving closer to Yorktown, sir,' Lafayette informed Washington.
'Our forces are on the way. They should start marching into the area within a week. I will establish a headquarters and you and Comte Rochambeau will do the same.'
The three generals discussed various battle plans and, for the next hour, worked diligently on coordinating their forces.
Two days later they occupied siege positions forcing Cornwallis to withdraw to Yorktown.
When the Frenchman arrived he was puzzled at the summons.
Washington smiled, 'Gilbert, I know you don't want Stasi to be here when the battle starts in earnest.'
"I do not wish her to fight, mon General, and that she will do if I do not send her away. The problem is that I do not know how to convince her.'
'I have an idea. Martha is back at home. Would Stasi obey if I ordered her to Mount Vernon?'
Lafayette shook his head as he chuckled, 'She would not dare disobey, sir.'
'Find her and bring her to me along with Jeremy Larkin.'
'Oui, mon General,' Lafayette backed out of the tent and went searching for his sister, finding her with Michel and Jeremy.
He told her of Washington's order that she and Jeremy report to the General's tent immediately.
Stasi looked baffled, but obeyed the order, leaving Lafayette explaining to Michel.
'Anastasie, Jeremy, please sit down,' he invited the pair.
'Sir,' Stasi queried, 'Why did you wish me to be here?'
'Martha is home at Mount Vernon, Stasi. She has requested that you visit her this week.'
'But, sir, I wanted to help Gilbert. I have unfinished business here.'
'That can wait, Stasi! I'm ordering you to Mount Vernon with Captain Larkin as your escort!
Stasi glanced at Jeremy and, reading his expression, knew this was as much news to him as it had been to her. She frowned and turned once again to face the General.
'Sir, why now?'
'You have a secret, Stasi. Gilbert has guessed. He doesn't wish you to risk your life here for him and Michel.'
Stasi stared at him open mouthed, but she could not disabuse him. Her brother was another matter - she would deal with him before she left his camp!
Washington swung round to face Jeremy, ' I am entrusting Stasi's safety to you, Captain. When you have delivered her to Mount Vernon you will return here.'
'Aye, sir, when would you wish us to leave?'
'Tomorrow morning. It will take you two or three days to reach Mount Vernon.'
'With Stasi riding astride, 'twould be maybe two days,' Jeremy chuckled, 'She pushes the horses to their limit.'
'Prepare to leave tomorrow, Captain. Good luck!'
Stasi bolted from the tent to find her brother, Jeremy following at a more sedate pace.
He raised his eyebrows as she flew into a tirade of French.
He waited for her to draw a breath then asked sardonically, 'Finished?'
'Gilbert, you have not listened to a word I have said!' she admonished.
'I was prepared for you to rave at me. You are going to Mount Vernon, Stasi. There is no other way. Jeremy will escort you then return here. You will stay with Martha until Michel comes for you.'
'I will not stay inactive while Michel and you are here risking your lives for America!'
'Stasi,' he sighed, 'See sense! You are with child and too much of a risk here.'
She winced, 'How did you find out? Michel has not told you?'
'He has not. I have seen the same symptoms twice in Adrienne. Do not deny it, Stasi.'
'I do not intend to, Gilbert! I do not need to be treated like a fragile woman.'
'You will go to Mount Vernon, Stasi! Now leave me!'
'Gilbert, I …..'
'Leave me, Stasi!' he ordered.
She was still fuming when she left his tent.
'You what!?!?' Stasi stared at Michel in disbelief.
They were in their quarters later that evening before retiring for the night.
'Amour, I do not want you to risk our child. Every time you fight beside us I worry something will happen to you.'
'Michel, chere, I will not let anything happen to this baby I carry. You know that! But I must be active! Martha, bless her, will coddle me.'
'Stasi, is it not about time you had some coddling? To my own regret, I have not been able to love you as I should with the extra responsibilities Gilbert has given me.'
'I cannot change your mind?'
'Non, ma cherie!' he was adamant, 'You will go to Mount Vernon.'
She threw him a glare that could kill, then, without another word, walked out.
'Stasi!' he called after her, 'Stasi, come back!'
She kept walking, unaware of her destination.
How long she sat there in the dark she didn't know – time had no meaning.
A sound behind her brought her back to conscious thought. She spun around to distinguish Jeremy and her brother walking towards her.
'Do you feel any better?' Lafayette asked softly.
She shook her head as he embraced her.
'Stasi, I do not want to be responsible if anything happens. You will blame me for the rest of your life if you lost your child.'
'Gilbert, that is not going to happen! I intend to give birth to this child, but I do not wish to go to Mount Vernon.'
'Stasi,' Jeremy spoke for the first time, 'I wish to protect you as I do Elizabeth, but if you don't cooperate, I cannot do that.'
'Jeremy, you are a true friend. Can you not see what this means to me?'
Lafayette waited expectantly for his captain's answer and was impressed when he heard it.
'I cannot only see, but know what it means. I am away from my friends and family and until recently I could not tell my father why, as you know. At least you have a husband and brother who know and concede what you do. They love you too much to risk losing you in the battle we know must take place.'
'Do they forget that I love them, too?' she cried, fighting back tears.
'Nay, Stasi, they are acting like a husband and brother should.'
'Jeremy,' she finally capitulated, 'I will do as they say, but I will return as soon as I get word.'
Lafayette stood and offered her his hand. 'Come, ma soeur, let us return you to Michel.'
They made camp south of Tappahannock, having covered almost fifty miles that day.
Jeremy was concerned for Stasi, who was not her usual self.
'Stasi, are you all right?' he queried gently.
'I will be fine, Jeremy. I am slightly tired, that is all.'
'You rest while I set up camp.'
'Non, mon ami, I will help you.'
Rather than argue he let her assist him erecting a small tent, after which they ate a hearty meal.
Sitting by the campfire later in the evening, they spoke of their mutual love of America and the hopeful outcome of the imminent battle.
'I will worry about you all, Jeremy. Especially Michel and Gilbert.'
'They are seasoned soldiers, Stasi, and, as such, are fully aware of the danger they face.'
'I know, but I am still concerned for their safety.'
'Stay calm. They will be all right.'
Unshed tears filled her eyes, 'I do not want to lose them.'
Jeremy pulled her to him. 'You are in a very emotional state, Stasi.'
'I cannot help it, Jeremy. I am not usually this emotional, as you know.'
'It is to be expected in your condition, Stasi. Don't let it overcome you.'
She gave a weak smile, 'I am trying, believe me!!'
He chuckled, 'Time for some rest. Try to sleep.'
With that he led her to the tent and laid her on her bedroll.
He left her saying, 'I'll be outside if you need anything.'
Resting the horses just on dusk, Stasi turned to Jeremy.
'Are we far from Mount Vernon?'
'Almost fifteen miles!'
'I am prepared to ride it out tonight, Jeremy. Why camp here when we could be there in two hours?'
'Are you sure? 'Tis not too much riding?'
'Jeremy!?!?' she admonished, 'I am not fragile! Let us ride!!'
He shrugged and followed her action and mounted.
They arrived at the Washington home before eight o'clock.
'I have already sent the servants to their beds. Come, we will go to the parlour.'
She led the way, Stasi and Jeremy following.
'Now,' Martha indicated seats, 'Sit down and I'll get you some refreshments.'
'Martha,' Stasi protested, 'We ate a meal when we rested.'
'Coffee? Ale for you, Jeremy?'
'An ale would be most refreshing,' Jeremy answered.
Martha left them only to return minutes later with the requested drinks.
'I received a message from George that you were coming, Stasi. I am sorry I was away when you were with Gilbert in Alexandria.'
'Martha, I was ordered to come here,' Stasi stated, 'Jeremy was as surprised as I when we were told I was being sent to you.'
Martha looked from one to the other. 'And Gilbert?'
'He suggested it!' Jeremy answered wryly, 'He had spoken to Michel and they decided to remove Stasi from the temptation of battle.'
'General Washington was the one who ordered Jeremy to escort me here then return to Yorktown.'
Martha raised her eyebrows, knowing her husband and the Marquis. She could imagine the two of them planning this!
'You were out-maneuvered, Stasi, by two great tacticians. Don't feel you would have been able to change the outcome!'
'Martha, I was prepared to fight. Michel did not object to that. Gilbert talked to him and he changed his mind.'
Martha laughed, 'You, of all people, should know Gilbert! He knew he had to have Michel on his side to take you by surprise.'
Stasi shook her head to clear it as she looked at the older woman, but uttered not a word.
Martha smiled at her, 'Come, I will show you both to your rooms.'
'Jeremy left at first light, Stasi,' Martha informed her.
'Without saying goodbye?'
'He left you a note. I'll get it for you while you eat some breakfast.'
Martha rose and left the room as Stasi poured herself a coffee and buttered a piece of toast. She was nibbling the toast when the older woman returned and handed her a folded paper. Stasi put it in her pocket to read later.
'Is that all you are going to eat, Stasi?'
'Martha, I have been eating army rations for the last year. I am not used to eating large meals.'
Martha shook her head, 'If you want your child to survive, you must eat a decent meal.'
Stasi grinned, 'Is there anyone Gilbert has not told?'
'He did not tell me. I guessed when they wanted you out of the way! You are going to be looked after until you have had this child.'
'Martha, I do not want to be coddled. I am healthy and strong. I do not need to be treated as if I am an invalid.'
'I know, my dear, but I have my orders.'
Stasi's laughed at that. 'And you do everything your husband tells you???'
Martha's eyebrows rose, 'No, but he doesn't know that!'
With their laughter ringing through the house they finished breakfast then strolled around the grounds.
'My dearest Stasi,' she read, 'I am sorry to leave without seeing you, but I have my orders, as you know. If you need me at any time, send a message and I will come to you. I hope you will be happy staying with Martha, though I know you will not be content with the enforced inactivity. I know you will be thinking of us at Yorktown all the time and wishing you were with us. Keep us all in your thoughts and keep safe.
Until we meet again, your friend (and partner in crime), Jeremy.'
Tears streamed down her face as she realized how lonely she was. She re-read the note then folded it and replaced it in her pocket.
Martha sat beside her and hugged her. 'You miss them already?'
Stasi nodded, 'I did not understand the camaraderie I shared with all of them. Je suis désoler to think I will not see Michel or Gilbert for some time.'
'Come back to the house and have a rest,' Martha took Stasi's hand and together they returned to the house.
He arrived at Lafayette's camp barely two days after leaving Mount Vernon.
Lafayette greeted him and asked for news of his sister.
'I did not see her before I left yesterday morning, sir. I left her a note explaining my early departure.'
'I would not have been surprised if she had come back with you, Captain,' the General chuckled.
'That is one reason I did not want to say goodbye to her.'
'You are not going to be popular with her for a while, Jeremy. She will blame you for taking her there.'
'I know, sir,' Jeremy sighed, 'but she understands Mount Vernon is the safest place for her.'
'I can only hope she will stay there and not arrive here unexpectedly.'
'What would you do if that happened, sir?'
Lafayette smiled, thinking of his sister's determination to fight beside him, 'Let her fight! She knows I cannot stop her.'
Jeremy grinned at the picture that formed in his mind, 'She won't be able to get away with much with Martha watching her like a mother hen.'
'That is what I am hoping!' Lafayette stated, 'You get some sleep, Captain. I will need you later.'
'Yes, sir.' With that Jeremy left the General's presence.
The Allied bombardment began three days later. The French Grand Battery opened fire first followed by the American artillery. Another three days and they began work on the second parallel trench, now only three hundred yards from the British lines.
She devised a plan to leave the compound and ride back to Yorktown. When the timing was right she would leave a note for Martha, whom she knew would understand, and execute that plan.
Writing Martha a letter was the hardest thing Stasi had to do. She had to word it right. Finally satisfied with the result she sealed it and placed it on the dining room table for Martha to see the next morning. She filled her saddlebags from the kitchen then ran for the stables, quickly saddling a horse and leading it to the far end of the gardens before mounting and galloping away from the estate.
Stasi had an uneventful ride, resting for only minutes at a time. She camped south of Bowling Green for a few hours to sleep before continuing her ride, arriving in Williamsburg just before dawn two days after leaving Mount Vernon. She rested her horse for a short while, then mounted and made her way to the Allied camps outside Yorktown.
'What are you doing here?' he asked, surprised making his voice sound angry.
'I could not stand the inactivity, Jeremy, I left a note for Martha and rode out.'
'Stasi, you don't realize what you've done! Lafayette will have your hide for this stunt!'
'I am not worried about Gilbert! I could not stay away any longer.'
'Stasi, you have ridden into one of the worst battles so far in this war!' Henry stated, 'The battles you have fought in were child's play compared to this!'
'What are you three doing here?' she asked, indicating there whereabouts in comparison with the battleground.
'Waiting to set off explosives. Lafayette or Washington will signal us soon.'
'May I be of assistance?'
Jeremy glanced at the other two, who nodded. At least this way he would know where she was and could somehow protect her from harm.
'You must obey orders! I don't want you to go running into the battle.'
'Do as you are told and you stay! Don't - and I will personally escort you back to camp.'
Stasi bowed her head. 'I will do as you say,' she conceded.
'It's time,' was all he said.
'Stasi, cover me!' Jeremy yelled as he darted forward.
She drew her pistol and fired, reloading and firing again.
Henry saw Jeremy throw himself full length at the plunger. Next minute there was a blast that shook the British lines and sent the redcoats scurrying for cover. Henry started to detonate smaller explosions in front of the artillery, giving the rebels the element of surprise and the wherewithal to reclaim the two French batteries.
With the extra firepower the Allies were able to drive the British back in a disorganized retreat.
Jeremy signaled for Isak Henry and Stasi to join him. They cautiously made their way across the open ground.
When the General arrived he sent for Jeremy, congratulating the Yankee Doodle Society for their part in the battle.
Jeremy informed him of Stasi's arrival and subsequent actions.
'Send her to me!' he was ordered.
Lafayette entered his tent to await the arrival of his sister, wondering if to praise her or punish her.
Her brother was seated at his desk, head bowed over paperwork.
'Gilbert!' she began, only to be cut off in mid sentence.
He looked up at her with a stern look on his face and asked, 'What am I going to do with you?'
She bowed her head.
'Stasi, your presence here is no surprise to me. Martha sent a message two days before you left. She could see you were restless and wondered how long it would take for you to leave Mount Vernon.'
'I did not realize she knew how unhappy I was. I tried, Gilbert.'
His voice softened, 'I know, ma soeur. I blame myself for this. I should never have allowed you to deceive Grandmere and Tante Marie when we were younger.'
'Non, Gilbert. You are not to blame! I would have had no-one if you had not taken me under your wing.'
'Stasi, you will not be allowed out of my or Michel's sight for the next week. It is crucial to our campaign that we all work together. Do you understand/'
Stasi grinned and sketched a salute, 'Yes, sir!' she answered.
Lafayette could not hold back a chuckle, 'You will be the death of me yet! Now go and find that husband of yours!'
Stasi was out of the tent in a flash.
She told him of the restlessness and loneliness that finally led to her decision to leave.
He chided her for her impulsiveness, but did not oppose her decision.
They spent an hour together before Lafayette summoned them to him.
The General explained the reason for his summons.
'I want to evaluate the British lines. Stasi and Jeremy, you two will come with me to Yorktown. Isak and Henry, you will go to Gloucester.'
'But, sir,' Jeremy queried, 'Is it safe for you to go with us?'
'Jeremy, I have missed our little forays together. I will be dressed as a civilian and if anyone, Michel, breathes a word of this to General Washington, I will have them hanged.'
'Gilbert,' Michel smiled, 'I cannot stop you, but I can counsel you against this mission.'
Lafayette glared at his brother-in-law. 'Michel, I know what I am doing! When I wish to have your advice, I will ask for it!'
Michel seemed taken aback at the vehemence in the General's voice.
"I am sorry, Gilbert, but I am concerned for your safety, also.'
Lafayette sighed, 'Why does everyone think I need to be kept safe? I am not a child!'
Michel could not help but laugh, 'Gilbert, you are a symbol of this revolution. If anything should happen to you, the Americans may lose heart.'
Lafayette shook his head and turned to the others. 'Be ready at dusk!' he ordered.
The sounds of battle had diminished during the late afternoon and all seemed quiet as they rode past the sentries.
They rode under cover of darkness until we find a safe entry to the town. They tethered the horses in a stand of trees and stealthily entered the town.
'There is a storm brewing, sir,' Jeremy said.
'I know. I am hoping the British will stay indoors while it abates.'
'Gilbert, look!' Stasi whispered indicating a column of redcoats approaching.
They dived for cover between two buildings then followed at a safe distance.
They found themselves at the dock where Cornwallis himself addressed the troops.
'We will sail across the bay to Gloucester,' they heard, 'That boy will have to follow us and we will have a trap set for him.'
Lafayette glanced at his companions. 'He thinks he will trap me!' he chuckled quietly.
'It was a good plan, but Mother Nature has spoken,' Jeremy stated, 'We have to get out of here!'
They ran from cover as a British soldier turned from the dock.
'Halt, who goes there?' he yelled.
Not looking behind them the trio made their way back to their horses, the British in hot pursuit.
'With them on foot we should lose them easily enough,' Stasi grinned, ' They are not at their best at night.'
'Just ride!' Jeremy ordered and led the way away from the town.
Stasi suddenly stopped and dismounted.
'Stasi,' Jeremy yelled, 'Come on!'
'Go!' she answered, 'I will delay them.'
'Stasi!' this from Lafayette.
'GO!!!!' she repeated, pulling a gown from her saddlebags then swiftly dropping over her breeches.
Lafayette and Jeremy had no other choice but to keep riding as she buttoned up the gown then ripped it across the hem and sleeve.
'Ma'am, are you all right?' the officer asked as he dismounted.
'Two of those rebels tried to have their way with me, sir. I managed to escape and they rode away.'
Her hand was near her gun at all times. If necessary she would use it, but did not want them to have cause to doubt her.
'We will escort you home, mistress. Can you tell us in which direction you live?'
She indicated toward the Allied lines. 'I love on a farm with my parents a mile yonder.' She knew the farmers were sympathetic to the cause and hoped they would help her.
'Come, mistress, can you ride?'
She nodded and mounted her horse astride, earning a querying glance from the officer.
'I ride astride on the farm, sir, it is easier for farm work,' she explained.
'Sir, we have escorted your daughter home. We found her after she escaped from two rebels,' the officer explained.
Stasi looked beseechingly at the man, 'Father, I am sorry. I know you told me not to go riding after dark.'
'Daughter, you have disobeyed me one last time! Get inside!' He turned to the British, 'Thank you, sir, I'll take care of her now!'
Apparently convinced the British officer said his farewells and mounted his horse to leave.
'Thank you, Monsieur, your help tonight will not be forgotten.'
'Who are you? You are not British though you speak like one. Are you French?'
'Monsieur, my name is Anastasie. My brother is known to you as Lafayette.'
'Ma'am, I am honoured to have been able to help Lafayette and the cause in any way. I am James Forrester and my wife is Louise.'
'Monsieur Forrester, because you helped me tonight, my brother and a friend were able to escape the British.'
'You are welcome to stay the night, Anastasie,' Louise offered.
'Madam Forrester, I thank you, but I must return to camp. My friends will be worried about me.'
'The British rode back toward Yorktown. You had best go now while they are out of sight,' James informed her.
Stasi took her leave, once again thanking them for their help, and rode the two miles to camp unaccosted.
Lafayette had heard the horse's approach and came out.
'Gilbert! It is good to see you safe,' she greeted him.
'Stasi!' he embraced her joyfully, 'How did you escape the British?'
'Will Jeremy not want to hear about it?' she asked.
'I will send for him and Michel.' He put his words into action, sending an aide to summons the two men.
Michel held her as she regaled them with her story then turned to her brother, 'Monsieur Forrester and his wife were extraordinarily helpful, Gilbert. You may want to thank them yourself later.'
'I will do that, cherie. Now, we all need some sleep. Leave me! I will see you in the morning.'
They filed out of the tent and went their separate ways to sleep for what was left of the night.
'Gilbert, why are you not fighting?' Michel asked.
'Mon ami, it is only a small skirmish,' the General explained, 'British troops came too close to the camps and some of Washington's men are driving them off. Did you sleep well?'
'Surprisingly well, grand frère,' Stasi answered, 'Michel made a comfortable pillow.'
Her brother laughed at that and said, 'Michel, you must have had an uncomfortable night.'
'Non, mon ami,' Michel would not elaborate further.
'Get some breakfast then join me when I ride to Washington's camp.'
They were in conference with Washington when a British drum sounded. They filed out of the tent and looked toward the sound.
Washington listened closely.
'They are beating a parley!' he said, sounding surprised to see an officer with a flag of truce, accompanied by a drummer beating a parley, appear on the British parapet. Cornwallis sought a cease-fire so commissioners could negotiate surrender terms.
'Will you go, sir?' Lafayette asked.
'Yes, Gilbert, and you will come with me. We will also take Viscomte de Noilles and Colonel John Laurens.' He glanced at Stasi, 'You, Anastasie, and Captain Larkin, will ride with us.'
'I an honoured, sir,' Stasi stated, 'Do you wish me to inform Jeremy?'
'Thank you, Anastasie.'
As Stasi rode out of the camp, Washington dispatched a messenger to British Headquarters, suggesting a time and location for the parley.
The British sent Lt. Col. Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross. The allies sent the Viscomte de Noilles (Lafayette's brother-in-law) and Colonel John Laurens, while Washington and his companions waited with their troops.
The British argued the terms for many hours, but to no avail.
In the afternoon of the next day, the British garrison at Yorktown marched out to lay down their arms. One hour later, the garrison at Gloucester Point underwent similar ceremonies. This action surrendered one third of all British forces in North America, and proved to be a devastating military disaster when viewed in context of the broader global aspects of the war.
Clinton and the British Navy that had left New York for Yorktown arrived off the Virginia coast five days later. Finding that they were too late, the force sailed back to New York.
Clinton and Cornwallis eventually returned to England where they engaged in a long and bitter public controversy over who was to blame for the British defeat at Yorktown.
Celebrations took place throughout the United States.
Back on the Hudson Washington joined the celebrations with their soldiers while Lafayette, Stasi, Michel, Jeremy, Isak and Henry returned to Chester.
Jeremy still didn't reveal his identity to the townspeople, but many guessed that he was Yankee Doodle.
He was feted as a hero along with Lafayette.
John Coates was ostracized and Elizabeth moved into town with friends.
She and Jeremy spent a lot of time together.
'I have petitioned Congress for permanent leave of absence. I am returning to France next month,' he informed them, 'Stasi and Michel will travel with me.'
'Gilbert, I do not want to go back to France,' Stasi was adamant, 'Michel and I wish to settle here in America.'
'As you wish, cherie, but you must return to France arrange for your effects to be shipped here.'
'And once I am back home, he will not let me leave,' she muttered to Michel, who grinned as Lafayette cocked an eyebrow.
'You will be free to make your own choice, Stasi,' he stated, 'but you must travel home first.'
Stasi sighed in resignation, 'I will ask Mayor Larkin to find us a residence here in Chester. We will return as soon as is possible.'
Jeremy, who had been silent throughout this exchange, spoke up, 'My father would be honoured to serve you in that capacity, Stasi.' Then he grinned wickedly, 'Maybe Michel could go on the Town Council?'
'Jeremy Larkin,' Elizabeth admonished, 'Behave yourself! Let Michel make his own decisions.'
'We have a lot of preparation to do before we leave the country,' Lafayette spoke again, 'We must return to the Hudson tomorrow.'
'Sir,' Jeremy held out his hand, "thank you for all you have done for me.'
Lafayette took the hand and shook it firmly. 'It is I who should be thanking you, Jeremy. Isak and Henry and Elizabeth, also.'
'It has been – ' Henry hesitated, 'interesting! I have found a side of me I didn't know existed.'
'Which one?' Stasi laughed, 'The one that does not know what a 'little' blast is?'
Jeremy hugged her before relinquishing her to Elizabeth for a hug.
'Marry him and be happy, Elizabeth,' Stasi whispered, 'He is a good man.'
Elizabeth nodded in reply, tears in her eyes, 'I'll miss you, Stasi.'
'I am coming back soon. I wish my child to be born in America.'
'We will miss you all, sir, but if Stasi and Michel settle here, maybe you will visit them occasionally?'
Lafayette chuckled, 'Of course, Jeremy. I will visit when I have time. I have to see my sister and her husband some time.'
'And your niece or nephew!'
'Definitely! We must go, my friends. Washington is expecting us.'
They rode out of Chester, escorted as far as the Springfield Road by the Yankee Doodle Society.
Michel and Stasi quickly arranged their return to America.
They sailed from France two months later, Stasi heavy with child, arriving back in Chester almost a month later to be greeted enthusiastically by Jeremy and Elizabeth.
They settled into the house Mayor Larkin had acquired for them and six weeks later Stasi gave birth to a boy who they named Gilbert after his uncle.
Before the preparations for this expedition were completed, the war was at an end, and Lafayette sent from Cadiz the swift frigate "Triumph," which arrived, March 23rd, 1783, at Philadelphia, with the first news of peace.
Next year, at Washington's invitation, he returned to the United States, and after a visit to Mount Vernon with George and Martha, where Stasi joined him, he made a journey through the country from Virginia to Massachusetts, staying in Chester for a month with Stasi, Michel and their children, Gilbert, now one year old, and Jeremy, aged just one month.
From Chester, Jeremy accompanied him on the rest of his journey.
On December 25th 1784, he sailed from New York in the French frigate "Nymphe" to return home.
Lafayette again made an extensive visit to the United States in 1824-25 and had an extended stay with the family.
The du Bois children were grown when their parents sailed to France in 1834 to bid Lafayette a final farewell as he was laid to rest in Pipcus Cemetery in Paris.