Title: In Search of a Hero (October 1780)
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. See the Disclosure on this site for additional information. The characters are borrowed for the purpose of entertaining fans of the show with no intention of copyrighting, publishing beyond this site, 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.
Summary: After John André's hanging in Tappan, NY, General Lafayette goes on a solo soul-searching mission north much to the distress of his friends including the Yankee Doodle Society.
Authors Note: This is fan fiction based on the 1970 TV series The Young Rebels which is set during the American Revolutionary War. Click on the author's name to send your comments. Comments are welcome, including constructive criticism.
The young dark haired officer walked away with a quick determined stride from the hanging of John André, heavy hearted and with a growing anger for Benedict Arnold. Detained at the site of the hanging all afternoon by other officers and citizens who wanted to talk about Arnold's treason, he did not want to talk about it anymore. It was all he could do not to break into a run. After several days sitting as a judge in André's trial, he had heard about as much as he could stand. He made his way back to the inn in the small quaint town of Tappan, New York. As he walked in the door, there was a crowd of people in the tavern that stood up and started asking questions, "Sir, has Arnold been captured? What is Washington going to do now that his plans are in British hands?"
The young officer tried to be patient as he made his way to the stairs that led to the rooms above. He climbed a couple of steps and turned. His tried to look apologetically at the crowd. They quieted waiting for him to speak. In a soft refined French accent he said, "Please my friends, I can not answer your questions. I am sorry. You know as much as I do at this point."
He looked into the disappointed faces of the people; many looked back at him with concern and understanding. One man reached up and slapped him on the back. "Son, we are all thankful you are with us. We know you left your young family to come back to this bloody war when you didn't have to. Don't you worry. That traitor, Benedict Arnold, will be found and hanged. Americans don't forget those who betray them, they hunt them down!"
The other people cheered. "Hooray! Lafayette! Our Marquis!"
Lafayette smiled at the man whose words were obviously heart-felt. It seemed like, at times, the whole population of the country had adopted him as he had so eagerly adopted them. Suddenly he felt terribly homesick. He excused himself and hurried up the stairs lest the stoic Americans see his French tears. When he got to his room, two of his aides were waiting for him. They immediately knew something was wrong. He could not hide his emotions from them.
"Mon Zhen-ay-RAL, what's dee mat-TARE?" Colonel Gimat said in broken English. The young French aide had been with Lafayette since he first came to America and had returned with him on his second trip.
Lafayette smiled at the sound of the heavy French accent, which matched his own when he first came to this country. "Nothing, Joseph. Please go find me some civilian clothes."
"Certainment." Gimat hurried out of the room to obey his commander's wish.
Lieutenant Grayson, a red-haired blue-eyed man, sat on the bed. His stern face gave away the direction of his thoughts. "General, are you planning an excursion out of town?"
The general did not want to lie, but he had to get out of Tappan, out of his role as Major General Lafayette, and he knew his aides would do everything to stop him if he told them his true plans. "Yes, John, I am meeting a friend. It is not dangerous, but I do not want to take any chances since we found one British agent behind our lines there may be more."
"It's not the British agents but the Cow Boys I'm worried about."
"There is no need to worry. The Cow Boys and Skinners are between the lines. I am not going anywhere near the frontline."
"What should I tell General Washington who is expecting you for supper at the Hadley's home?"
Lafayette had forgotten. Without looking at the lieutenant, he said, "Just tell him something came up. I will see him tomorrow."
The lieutenant clearly was not buying his general's cover. "I should probably not let you do this, sir, as head of your life guard. I can see that you are not yourself—"
Just then, Gimat returned with the requested civilian clothes. Black pants, a heavy woolen navy blue short coat, and a black tri-corn hat that was clearly too big. "Weel theese doo mon Zhen-ay-RAL?"
"Yes, of course. Thank you, Joseph. You two go to supper."
The lieutenant stood and walked to the door behind Gimat. "You will be careful, General?"
General Lafayette stopped in the middle of undressing, and met the soft blue concerned eyes of his lieutenant. He felt a pain of guilt. "Yes, of course, John. Please do not tell anyone, especially Sergeant Boggs. You know how protective he is of me."
"Yes, I do, sir. That's why I am having a hard time letting you do this."
Lafayette looked down at the blue and buff coat in his hands. He ran his slender fingers over one of the gold epaulet, which had two stars sewn into it. His loyal lieutenant was just trying to do his job. "I need some time alone away from all of this. I shall be fine tomorrow. Please do not worry."
The lieutenant looked at his young general for a moment, and then a smile crept over his face. Lieutenant Grayson was a good ten years older then Lafayette, a fact that normally went unnoticed by either man. The age difference suddenly came to Lafayette's mind as he waited for the lieutenant to let him run off like a spoiled child. The lieutenant said, "Now, I believe you. I can understand the pressure this has brought upon you as well as the other generals. Arnold's treason hurts a great deal…"
"Oui, but we will survive. All of us." Lafayette tried to give his aide his usual look of confidence hoping he would accept that.
"I suppose you get tired of all of us now and then. If it will help you to 'get away', as you say, than I will accept that. Please sir, just be very careful. You are a very important symbol of this cause."
The general smiled, relieved that he had accomplished his goal. "Merci, John. You are a good friend."
The lieutenant walked out and closed the door leaving the general alone. Lafayette sat down on the bed and hung his head. His lieutenant's words, 'a very important symbol of this cause', hung in the air around him. He had been told that continuously since the day he was found with a bullet wound in his leg at Brandywine.
Suddenly the tears came that he had been holding back for several days, ever since seeing General Washington depressed at the sudden shocking news of Arnold's betrayal. Lieutenant Grayson was right, he was not himself. He was only the shell of the man that was Major General Lafayette. The man that he admired as the hero of Saratoga had betrayed him and the great cause of Liberty. He had never failed to give Arnold credit for winning that battle to anyone that would listen, including Arnold. He had counted him a friend. The treason was unthinkable, it was personal, and it felt like a knife twisted into his heart. Most of all, it had brought the man he most admired, General Washington, to tears of despair.
Lafayette broke down and began to sob, uncontrollably. He wrapped his arms around his chest trying to stop the shaking. During the trial, he had learned that Arnold had betrayed the French fleet at Newport. He had told Arnold where and when the fleet was to arrive in America. He had been so proud to share that information with Arnold, the greatest field general of the war. Now he knew that two hundred of his fellow countrymen were dead because he had given Benedict Arnold that information.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. The general quickly wiped his eyes and tried to return to his calm exterior. "Who is it?" He was disappointed with his weak voice.
"A courier from General Wayne, sir."
"Tell me what it says."
"Yes, sir. General Wayne says that a Jeremy Larkin is at his camp and is trying to find you. He says it is urgent, sir. General Wayne wishes a reply from you so that he might send Larkin and his men to you."
Mon Dieu, not the Yankee Doodle Society. What are they doing here so far from Chester? He didn't want them to see him like this. "Tell General Wayne that I will not be able to see them today. I have engagements. Tell him...I will come to his camp as soon as I can."
Lafayette listened as the steps made by the courier's heavy riding boots receded down the corridor. He took a deep breath, stood up and finished changing into the civilian clothes. When he was finished, he looked in the mirror and found that he looked like a young sailor on leave. He decided that would be his cover. After checking his pistol to see that it was loaded, he stuck it in his belt, grabbed the small powder horn, dropped some cartridges in his pocket, and then blew out the lamps in the room. Then he slowly opened the door and looked up and down the corridor. It was empty. He quickly stepped out, closed the door quietly, and then crept to the back stairs that led to the alley out back of the inn. He hurried down the stairs and outside into the early evening.