When they returned to Chester, they found the quarantine sign on the back door. Isak ripped it off and they went in, leaving Ned to guard the horses. Jeremy was able to walk into the inn on his own. Ned agreed to keep guard near the back door to stop any British from entering. Once in the second floor room they found General Lafayette awake and alert. The quinine had apparently had a quick impact on his condition. Henry and Elizabeth were asleep in the chairs.
Lafayette looked surprised by Jeremy's condition. The general said, "Jeremy my friend, you look like you've been run over by a team of six horses."
Jeremy smiled at the sound of the general's voice and said proudly, "I believe there were nine sir." Jeremy walked to the general's side and patted his shoulder. "You know I couldn't let you be the only one getting attention around here. It was making me hopelessly jealous." Jeremy looked at Henry and Elizabeth. "If it wasn't for our friends here where would we be?"
Lafayette said, "Dead most certainly." They both laughed, but Jeremy grabbed his jaw and winced because it hurt to laugh. Jeremy said, "I'm happy to see you conscious sir, though I see that you are not quite your sparkling self. Did Henry not feed you?"
The general shrugged and said, "I don't know, I can't remember."
The sergeant checked the general for fever and found none.
Jeremy watched amused as the sergeant stiffen as he drew back from the general, obviously bracing himself for an attack. The sergeant said, "General, do you remember me being here at all?"
The general looked up at his sergeant innocently, "Do you want me to?"
They hear banging downstairs in the tavern and yelling. Jeremy looked out the window and saw British soldiers and two officers. "It's the British doctor and some of his friends."
The sergeant said, "I think we better return to camp now while they are creating a scene out front."
Isak woke up Henry and Elizabeth. "Let's go boys and girls." They hurriedly got up. Elizabeth, shocked by Jeremy's condition, quickly moved to his side. "Jeremy, my god what…"
Jeremy saw tears forming in her eyes. He drew her close to him. "It's alright Elizabeth. Just a few bruises and a fat lip. They will heal in time. Don't fuss now."
The sergeant got the general's boots and helped him put them on. However, when the general tried to stand, he crumpled into the sergeant's arms. The sergeant sat him back on the bed. "I think that tells me you didn't eat anything."
Isak said, "Here let me give you a ride general." Isak lifted the general on his shoulders. The general protested but Isak said, "I am only carrying you because you would slow us down and I don't want to be caught by the British. It certainly isn't because you are a rich white nobleman so don't get any ideas." The general laughed quietly.
They all headed downstairs and out the backdoor. Isak put the general in the wagon and threw a blanket over him and Elizabeth and Jeremy got in the wagon with him. Ned had the horses ready. Isak took the reins in the wagon. They could still hear the commotion outside the tavern as they headed out of town.
Riding beside the wagon, Henry said, "Jeremy, your father knows it was Lafayette. I had to tell him. There was no other way. He agreed to put the tavern under quarantine and fend off the British. I feel like I am abandoning him now."
"Father can handle it Henry. He will understand why you disappeared."
Isak pulled Washington's letter out of his shirt and handed it to Jeremy. "I picked this up for you, just in case you wanted to give it to General Lafayette."
Jeremy took the letter and frowned. "This letter nearly got me killed Isak." He stuffed it into his vest pocket. "Remind me to check my pockets the next time we go on a mission."
When they reached camp, they were surprised when General Washington greeted them with a group of guards. Washington looked worried. "I hope you men can tell me the whereabouts of General Lafayette!"
Hearing the voice, Lafayette sat up in the wagon. Isak and the sergeant helped him out of the wagon and stood near him in front of General Washington. Isak fearing the man would collapse kept a hand on his back. The rest of the party dismounted and approached the generals.
Washington said, "General didn't you get my letter?"
General Lafayette looked surprised. "No sir."
The members of the Yankee Doodle Society looked at each other, remembering the letter.
"Where have you been?" Washington gestured indicating Lafayette's attire. "…in those civilian clothes?" Washington was clearly agitated.
"British occupied Chester!"
"Yes sir. Please sir, let me explain."
General Washington crossed his arms over his chest and waited.
"I was unconscious with a high fever and these men decided to take me into Chester because they thought they could care for me better there. I wish they had not sir, but they did save my life. You probably would have found me dead if they had not acted with their hearts. I cannot blame them for it. I would do the same for any one of them." He turned and smiled at Elizabeth. "My family will be most grateful."
Elizabeth smiled with understanding.
Dr. Cochran said, "That is probably true George. I could have done little for him in this camp without the quinine. We looked everywhere for some before we came. That is what took me so long to get here. I am truly sorry for what you had to go through General Lafayette. All of you."
Lafayette said, "Dr. Cochran, these men recovered these drugs that were captured by the British, at great risk to themselves. Captain Larkin took quite a beating for it."
Dr Cochran walked over to the wagon and looked at the crates. He looked up surprised. "My God we have enough to treat the whole army here."
General Washington relaxed appearing satisfied with the answer but his countenance was sad. "Then I owe you all my deepest gratitude." He put a hand on General Lafayette's shoulder and said, "If I had lost you to a simple fever…I don't know what I would have done. It would have been an unbelievable tragedy." Washington, with tears in his eyes, reached out and embraced the younger general, holding him close for a moment.
After he released him, he shook the sergeant's hand and said "Thank you Daniel." Then he shook Isak,s, then Henry's, then Elizabeth's. When he got to Jeremy, he embraced him and said, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart Captain Larkin." Releasing him he said, "You have no idea what you have done for me. This medicine will prevent many more young men from dieing. That is the worse kind of torment for a general to endure, to watch his men die of illness and be helpless to do anything about it."
General Washington turned and walked back to General Lafayette. "It looks to me like you need to be lying down and getting some rest young man. You probably haven't eaten either have you?"
General Lafayette bowed his head.
"Sergeant go with him and make sure he makes it to his tent. General Lafayette, I hope to see you next at Valley Forge…and soon. No more adventures for you young man!"
The sergeant smiled and took Lafayette's arm and led him to his tent.
General Washington said, "I am sorry but I have to leave now and head back to Valley Forge, or they will be sending out a search party for me. Dr. Cochran you stay and help these men and return with them to Valley Forge."
The general mounted his horse, saluted the Yankee Doodle Society, then turned his horse and led his mounted guards from the camp.
After they left, Henry said, "Are you going to give that letter to General Lafayette?"
"Aye," Jeremy said. Jeremy saw Henry's smug expression. He knew Henry expected some acknowledgement that he was right. "Henry you were right. I can see I was wrong about General Washington's motives where Lafayette is concerned. I had no idea…"
"Nor I," Isak said. "I am sorry I ever doubted. I guess it is because we have never seen them together."
When the sergeant emerged from the tent, Jeremy asked him if he could talk to the general for a moment. The sergeant nodded.
Jeremy walked in and found the general lying down on his cot. "Looks like you are confined to your tent for awhile."
The general smiled and said, "It looks like you need some medical attention yourself."
"Ah, this is nothing. Just a few bruises, nothing is broken at least. I'm sure I will feel it in the morning though." Jeremy pulled the letter out of his vest pocket and handed it to the general. "This belongs to you. I retrieved it from the British camp. It's General Washington's letter."
General Lafayette looked surprised. "The one in which he tells me he's sending help?"
Jeremy chuckled. "Well…you will just have to read it yourself." Jeremy dropped his head. "I'm sorry, General."
"You have nothing to apologize for Jeremy. I am grateful to you for what you did. Everything. You went far beyond the call of duty."
"General…I ordered the sergeant to take you to Chester. He told me you wouldn't be happy about it."
"I know. Henry told me everything that transpired. I shouldn't have been angry…I was just…delusional I guess."
Jeremy smiled. "I hear a fever can cause that." Jeremy crossed his arms and mockingly frowned disapprovingly at General Lafayette. "General Washington doesn't know anything about the missions you go on with us does he?"
General Lafayette looked up and grinned sheepishly. "I'm afraid he wouldn't approve Jeremy."
Jeremy scratched the back of his head and looked perplexed. "And you want me to tell my father what I am up to. Something doesn't seem quite right here General. Isn't that a double standard?"
The general shrugged and said smuggly, "I'm a general. General's can do whatever they want."
Jeremy laughed and reached out and took the general's hand. "You take care General. We have to get back to Chester now and see if father needs some help sorting things out at the tavern."
The general grimaced. "Jeremy, wait. Call the sergeant back in here please."
Jeremy went to the tent opening and called the sergeant. The sergeant came back inside.
The general said, "Sergeant I need to write Mayor Larkin a bank-bill for his lost profits. Will you prepare one for me please on the Philadelphia bank?" The sergeant nodded and got the required paper and pen.
Jeremy said, "Sir, that isn't necessary. It was not that much."
"It is necessary. That man did not deserve what happened to him. I have an account in a Philadelphia bank under my surname. He can go there to cash it."
"You keep money right under the British noses?"
The general smiled. "Is there any other way?"
The sergeant brought the paper to the general to finish. After he signed it, he handed it to Jeremy.
Jeremy looked at the bill and said, "He may frame this instead of cashing it General. This is too much money sir. You could buy the place for this?"
The general smiled and said, "I have no need for a tavern Jeremy. Tell him to cash it, I will send him a letter he can frame. Oh…on second thought, you had better have Henry give it to him. He will wonder why you have it…unless you are ready to tell him who you really are…Captain."
Jeremy raised his eyebrows. "No. I had better keep things the way they are. You may need me again someday."
The sergeant said, "How will you explain your appearance Jeremy?"
"I won't have to. He will assume I was in a brawl in a tavern somewhere when he sees me."
The three men laughed. Jeremy winced and held his jaw. "That hurts when I laugh." Jeremy walked out of the tent smiling. Henry and Isak look at him puzzled. "Here Henry, give this to my father when we get back."
Henry took the paper and raised his eyebrows at the amount. "Mayor Larkin just had his most profitable day ever."
Jeremy smiled. "Let's go home."
The three young men and Elizabeth headed back to Chester.The End