Late Summer 1779
There were more than a hundred redcoats that covered our apple orchard. Papa was no where to be found. My brother Solomon, who had just come back from the sea, was there talking to the aid de camp. I was happy to see Solomon standing up for us, since Papa couldn't, because of the loyalist oath. I saw my brother William talking to several soldiers, I knew what he was talking about, if he could join them. William was just like Robert, a staunch loyalist, but William knew better than to go into New York and declare it as that. There were many patriots who he believed would be ready to tar and feather him, and Robert was able to risk his own life, but William was not about to risk his for his own cause.
I pushed past my brother to go to Solomon. I was near livid with these men. They had said that we would not be harmed by Papa's loyalist pledge two years ago, and yet, here we were on the edge of destruction. The only income that we had been able to make was by the apples, as still that was hardly enough. Papa was now unable to get many of the things that he wanted to, and we were even forced to buy from other merchants. There were no crops, other than the apples, and oysters and fish that David and William might bring back from the sea. Now with the British taking our crop, we'd have no food left for the winter, unless we got it from other families. But this year had not been good for the crops, everyone would be starving.
I cut in front of Solomon to face the aid de camp. It was a young man, none over twenty, with a fair face, I have to say he looked more like a woman, in a powdered wig than a solider in his majesty's army. 'You have allot of nerve!' I yelled at the unfortunate soldier. 'Coming into a defenseless town and chopping down our only source of food.' Solomon grabbed hold of my arm and tried to pull me back, but I pulled away from him. 'How dare you!'
'I'm sorry ma'am, we're under orders from Colonel Simcoe to cut down the orchard. Prime the and cut the wood, in order to aid in the construction of the fort,' the young Captain told me. He was an American, one of the only ones, I was assured that would be coming into our town that day.
'Fort!' I yelled. 'What are you talking about? You aren't going to be staying here are you?'
'Until we are given orders to move, we will stay here.' I was on the edge of tearing into the young captain, but luckily Solomon held me back, and now tried to keep his own head about him.
'And when do you think that will be, Captain?' Solomon asked calmly.
'Most likely this winter, though that is only if General Clinton approves us moving,' the captain told us.
'If you are only going to be here for a short time, why do you insist on building an unnecessary fort?' I challenged.
'It is necessary, miss. There is no other place for the lower soldiers and officers to stay,' he explained. 'Would you want us to house even the privates in to private homes?'
'I wish that you were just not here!' I screamed. 'Go away!' Another soldier, higher in rank came up behind the young Captain.
'Are there any problems here, Captain Hemming?' the officer asked. The captain seemed to come to attention almost right away.
'These are the owners of the orchard Colonel Simcoe,' the young captain said.
'Ah, the Townsend's. Mr. Townsend,' this Colonel Simcoe held out his hand. 'It's very nice to meet you. I noticed your lovely home. Is this your wife? My she has a temperament, feisty for being you little.' He held my chin up with his fingers.
'I'm a full seventeen years old!' I yelled. 'I'm near eighteen.'
'So is my horse, but at least she knows better than to yell at me.' He was playing with me. Challenging me to a duel of minds with him. This was the way this man worked, I now saw. He would make a worthy adversary, though I hoped that he felt the same about me.
'I'm sorry, you must be Colonel Simcoe,' Solomon held out his hand. 'I am Solomon Townsend, Mr. Townsend's son. And this is my sister, Sally. She's not usually this...spirited, surely not when there's work that she could be doing.' I looked Solomon sharply, but knew far better than to irritate this man. Especially if he was to be taking control of our town for these next few months. 'Although my family protests the taking of our orchards, we can not do much to prevent you.'
'You can do nothing, Mr. Townsend. You're father signed loyalty to the king, two years ago, which gave the king nearly all command of his house and property. I, serving for the king, can have any piece of property, as long as I refund, at least a part of your losses.'
'We have had many more loses with the King now than we ever had when we were loyal to the congress of America,' I told him crossly.
'So you're an American? Should have guessed it by your radiance.' He was treating me like a child again. And what was worse was that Solomon was allowing him, even at times encouraging him.
'You are not doing much to become friends with the people of Oyster Bay,' Solomon told him, the first thing that I had heard in a while to go against this Colonel Simcoe, even mildly. I had been doing most of the fighting, but that was Solomon's way, speak only when necessary.
'I am not here to make friends, Mr. Townsend,' the Colonel told him coldly, as if I wasn't there. 'I am here to serve my king.' With that he flared his coat and turned to walk away from the orchard. Although Solomon tried to hold me back, I fought with him, until finally he let me go. I ran up to the Colonel.
'Have you nothing else to say?' I asked him.
'Sarah...' He turned to me.
'I prefer Sally,' I told him coldly.
'I prefer Sarah, and who's the one that's saying it?' He pointed his finger to me, and started to walk again. 'There's nothing more to say anyway.'
'I'm not one to walk away from an argument, and apparently you are.' I crossed my arms and stopped.
'Arguments should progress, not stand still. I trust that I will see you at dinner, Sarah.' Although I didn't know what he was talking about, I was assured that it was simple enough, as wanting to win my family's favor again, that he'd invited us to dine with him. But I wouldn't go, no matter what my father would say.