Title: A Letter in Time (December 1777)

Author: DoodleScribe

Rating: G

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, or used for any purpose other than reading. This story is fiction. Any apparent relationship to real people (other than historical figures) is unintended and purely coincidental.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama

Summary: The Yankee Doodle Society steal some letters from a British army camp and learn the true nature of General Washington's affection for Lafayette.

Authors Note: This is fan fiction based on the 1970 TV series The Young Rebels which is set during the American Revolutionary War.Visit my homepage via my profile for character summaries, photos and links to other related sites. Comments are welcome, including constructive criticism. Minor updates on 12/21/2005 included elimination of modern slang words and further development of character thoughts and emotions in some key scenes.

Chapter 1

Jeremy Larkin was in a British commander's tent hurriedly grabbing all the paper he could find with writing or drawing on it. There were stacks of paper. He didn't have time to figure out what was important. The commander had only left because Jeremy's accomplices Isak Poole and Henry Abington had created a diversion by setting fire to the camp privies. Jeremy knew he had little time. He stuffed his two saddlebags with everything he could find, trying to keep the stacks in order. With the saddlebags full, Jeremy stepped to the opening in the tent and peeked out into the cold December night. He saw a clear escape route to the corral holding the camp horses. Might as well take a few of those with me. Jeremy threw the bags over his shoulder, and took off running, crossing the dark camp to the corral. He quietly moved aside the bar at the opening to the corral, and then began encouraging the horses to leave. Jeremy could see the fires at the other side of the camp and hear the shouts of the soldiers trying to put out the fires. After the horses were out of the corral, Jeremy grabbed one by its mane and jumped up on its bare back. He squeezed his legs tight against the horse's sides and kicked. The animal lunged forward awkwardly, than settled into a steady gallop.

Jeremy led the running horses out of the camp into the darkness, finding a path through a barren field. He turned back to his right and headed for the campsite he and his friends have been using as they watched the British camp for the last three days. As he neared the edge of the woods bordering the field, the stampeding horses slowed down to avoid the woods and veered off. Jeremy stopped his horse and jumped off. "Isak! Henry!"

"Here we are Jeremy!" Isak and Henry came out of the woods leading three saddled horses. The three men mounted their horses and headed off at a gallop towards Chester. After they put several miles between themselves and the British camp, they slowed down to rest the horses who were snorting their discontent at being rode so hard.

Isak said, "What did you get Jeremy?"

"There was too much of it and too little time to be picky. I just grabbed everything. When we get to Chester, we can each go through it and try to sort out the most important."

Henry said, "Lafayette has aides that can do that Jeremy. How are we to know what is important?"

"Henry," Jeremy said, "the general needs information, not a pile of useless paper. Something here may tell us where the supplies went that were suppose to arrive at Lafayette's camp two weeks ago. You heard him say that he is desperately in want of medicine, food and clothing for his men. We may see an opportunity to find his supplies and even retrieve them. You know that the general's men are in such bad shape they can't even march to winter quarters at Valley Forge."

Henry said, "That is a tall order for just three men. I am afraid that my enthusiasm for the cause is proportionally equal to the state of my physical comfort. Right now that is near zero."

"Ah Henry, you will feel better after a good meal by a roaring fire and a good night's sleep in a warm bed."

Isak laughed. "I believe we all could use a rest to revive our patriotism."

The three friends traveled in silence for several hours until they came to Chester. The town appeared deserted. The British had no stomach for the cold, so there were no soldiers outside. The townspeople were in their beds asleep. They walked the horses to Isak's blacksmith shop where they stabled the them for the night. Isak lit a large fire and the three men stood in front of it to thaw out.

Isak walked out and came back with bread, cheese, and a bottle of whiskey. The men discarded their outer garments and gloves and sat down in front of the fire to partake of the food and drink. The whiskey was appreciated by all.

With his fingers sufficiently warmed to function again, Jeremy took the papers out of his saddlebags and put them in two piles in the center between the men. Jeremy flipped through each pile. "These are mostly letters from British sources. Looks like requisitions and other army business. This other pile appears to be intercepted American correspondence. Why don't you two divide the British pile and I will take this pile. We should be able to sort it all pretty quick."

The men set to work. After a few minutes, they had sorted the letters into several more piles. Isak held up one pile and said, "I think this has the most information from the British correspondence. This letter is from General Clinton. He congratulates the commander at the camp on his acquisition of the American supplies. I think this means Lafayette's supplies are in the camp we just raided."

Jeremy said, "There is nothing about what the commander is to do with the supplies?"

Isak shook his head.

Jeremy looked at Henry. "Did you find anything Henry?"

"Piles of worthless trash I'm afraid, how about you?"

"Most of this is too old now to be of any purpose. It clearly indicates what the British know and they know too much about the American army's situation."

Jeremy pulled out one letter, which he folded and put in his vest pocket. Isak saw him and said, "What is that Jeremy?"

"It's just a letter from Washington to Lafayette. It is dated two days ago, so I thought I would give it to Lafayette"

Henry said, "Is it important?"

Jeremy frowned and said, "Washington is just telling Lafayette that he won't be getting the supplies he needs so he should just tighten his belt and accept his fate."

Henry and Isak looked shocked.

Jeremy said, "Not in those exact words of course."

Isak said, "You seem a bit bothered about it Jeremy."

"The British know that Lafayette is in bad situation from this letter. That makes him and his men an easy target."

Henry said, "But Lafayette's camp is too close to Valley Forge for the British to try to attack them, isn't it?"

Jeremy shrugged. "Perhaps. I guess it is bothering me more the way Washington is lavishing his praise and affection on Lafayette in this letter, but clearly if the man gave a damn he would be sending supplies, not fancy words of admiration in a letter."

Isak said, "Let me see that letter Jeremy."

Jeremy hesitated. "It wasn't intended for our eyes Isak."

"I care not! We have risked our arses to get it, so we have earned the right to read it. Now hand it over!" Isak gave Jeremy a determined stare.

Jeremy smiled and pulled out the letter. He handed it to Isak. After Isak and Henry read the letter, they both looked grimly at Jeremy.

"I don't see the point in giving that to Lafayette," Isak said. "I think he is better off not knowing what the letter says."

Jeremy said, "Isak you are good at reading men. What is your honest assessment of that letter?"

"It is just a well-dressed-up deceit if you ask me. I think Washington wants Lafayette's help in getting French support. He clearly doesn't want Lafayette to complain to his government about the conditions he is serving under. To me that is the purpose of the letter."

"What about you Henry?"

"Isak is just a cynical man by nature. I don't see that at all. Washington sounds genuinely concerned about Lafayette. He is just trying to encourage him under extremely bad conditions. I think he has a great deal of affection for the younger man. He clearly considers him like his own son. Why would you question that Jeremy?"

"So you think it's just fatherly advice?"

"Aye." Henry said, "You two are missing something here. It says he is sending Cochran and asking Lafayette to be patient and wait. Who is Cochran? Or what is Cochran? Why would Lafayette need a Cochran? This whole letter may be in code for all we know. It looks like innocent words of encouragement, but it may actually mean something completely different."

"I hope you are right Henry, but I have my doubts about Washington's motives. I am afraid I agree with Isak at least where this letter is concerned."

Henry said, "Well it is not contributing a damn thing to getting supplies to Lafayette's troops, so I suggest we call it a night and go to the camp tomorrow and tell the general that the British have his supplies. That should cheer him up." Henry got up and brushed the straw off his breeches. He waited with a questioning look at his two friends. Jeremy took the British letter from Isak and put it and Washington's letter in his pocket than returned the rest of the papers to the saddlebags. He then got up and followed Henry out of the shop into the night.