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.Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama TO FOIL A MUTINY
Lafayette had obtained leave of absence from congress in October, but was seized with a fever, which kept him dangerously ill for several weeks at Fishkill. He sailed from Boston on the new American frigate 'Alliance.' a swift and well-built ship, but manned by a rough and motley crew, picked up at short notice. A plot was laid among these ruffians to seize the ship and take her into a British port, after murdering all on board except Lafayette, who was to be delivered up to the British government as a prisoner of suitable rank to be exchanged for General Burgoyne.
Watching the 'Alliance' sail out of Boston harbour on January 21st, 1779, Jeremy Larkin and his companions, Isak Poole and Henry Abington, felt a great sense of loss.
Aboard that ship was the Frenchman, Gilbert, Marquis de Lafayette – homeward bound at last after eight long weeks of illness! Only because he would return sometime in the future were they not as desolated as they could be!
Jeremy yawned, his disturbed nights in the weeks leading up to this mission finally telling on him. He thought back to when the Yankee Doodle Society were called to New York for this mission five weeks ago. The group had been itching for some action after four months of inactivity when word came that Lafayette was seriously ill and his return home had been delayed. He wished to see the Yankee Doodle Society. And the Society complied with his wish! They had travelled to West Point, taking four days to reach the fort and, on arrival, had reported to General Anthony Wayne, who had taken them straight to Lafayette's headquarters at Cro' Nest in nearby Fishkill, where the General lay wracked with fever.The group were not prepared for what they saw when they entered the room in which Lafayette rested. The young General had lost weight and his colour was of concern to Henry. Jeremy knelt beside the bed as Lieutenant Gimat looked on and only spoke when the aide nodded.
'Sir, can you hear me?'
Lafayette stirred slowly and rolled over to face his friend and a smile lit up his face.
'Jeremy! It is good to see you! How is it that you are here?'
He reached out and took Jeremy's hand.
For some unknown reason, Jeremy was reluctant to mention General Wayne's involvement in their presence in New York.
'We received word that you were ailing and came immediately.'
He glanced at Gimat and received a nod of thanks. Worrying Lafayette about their plans would not bring about a speedy recovery.
Henry and Isak exchanged a few short words with the General, then left the room as Lafayette requested to talk to Jeremy alone. Gimat remained in his chair.
'But, mon General, I have orders..!
'Go! I wish to talk to Jeremy.'
Gimat withdrew grudgingly to leave the two men alone.
'Have you any information about the mutiny?' Lafayette queried, coming straight to the point.
Jeremy stared at the General, his mouth agape. This was the last question he had expected.
'How??? Who???' was all Jeremy could manage to blurt out.
'Jeremy, I do not know what you think, but I have had some dreams.'
'Sir?' Jeremy prompted.
'They are always the same thing. Stasi comes to me to warn me that I am in danger.'
Jeremy's face gave him away. Lafayette looked at him astounded.
'And I!' Jeremy exclaimed, 'It seems so real! Stasi could be standing in the room with me!'
'She has done this twice before, and only to me!' Lafayette said of his cousin.
'What did she say in the last dream you saw her?'
'That I would overcome the danger because you had informed me of a planned mutiny on the 'Alliance', the ship on which I plan to sail.'
'I had a dream last night, sir, and she told me to go to a certain place. I don't know whether to do so or not.'
'Have you told Henry and Isak?'
'Aye, sir. I have told them about my strange dreams, but not everything. They believe me, but, like me, they can't understand what is happening! Henry, as usual, has an explanation – we have been thinking of Stasi lately and eagerly await her return.'
'I will tell you, Jeremy. Here in America, you call them witches; in France we call them sorcellerie or clairvoyant. They may see into the future; they may appear to you, even though they are elsewhere; some can almost do the impossible. Stasi and I have kept this secret all our lives. She can also communicate without speaking - télépathe. You must promise not to tell anyone, not even Henry and Isak! If anyone discovered this she could still be hanged as a witch, though witchcraft was decriminalised a few years ago. There are still people who hunt them down.'
Suddenly Jeremy understood a few incidents when he and Stasi had been on missions together.
'I can see from your expression that you have had experience of Stasi's gift.'
'It makes a few things a lot clearer, sir. Is that how she knew who I was when we first met? And how she knew of Colonel Martin's intentions before we did?'
Lafayette nodded, 'Take heed of her, Jeremy, she will guide you!'
'I do not know, but she has done it before with me, even from across the Atlantic.'
'So I should go to the place she designated?'
'Oui, Captain, but, as she says, be careful.'
'I will, sir. You are tired, I will leave you to rest.'
Lafayette raised his eyebrows expressively, 'And you will report to me when you can!'
'Is that an order, sir?'
'Oui, Captain, that is an order!'
Jeremy stood and saluted smartly, making the General smile.
'Go, Jeremy, and send Gimat in to me.'
Jeremy left the room and signalled to Gimat to return to his General. Henry and Isak looked askance at him as he led the way out of the building.
They soon rejoined General Wayne in his headquarters.
'I have a mission for you boys,' Wayne said in greeting, 'Word is that the General is to be kidnapped aboard ship when he is well enough to sail. You'll have to go to Boston. Think you can handle it?'
Jeremy spoke for all of them, not telling the General that he already knew about the threat to Lafayette, 'Do you want one of us to guard the General as well?'
'His aides are with him. Just stay in the background and ensure he is safe. If any person tries to get too close to him, bring them to me.'
The three decided to devise a plan of action, so congregated in Jeremy's room later in the day.
'You two must do most of the work on this,' Jeremy instructed, 'I have a criteria to fulfil.'
'What do you mean?' Isak looked askance.
'My dreams of late have been too real to ignore. The General thinks I should follow what they say.'
'Jeremy,' Henry counselled, 'Dreams are only that – dreams. You cannot base an investigation on a dream. There is no scientific evidence to say what you dream will happen. Stasi has been on all of our minds lately. That's why you dream of her.'
'Then why have you and Isak not had the dreams?'
'That I cannot explain,' Henry conceded, 'But then you are in love with her, aren't you?'
Jeremy stared open-mouthed at his friend before finding his voice, 'Nay, Henry, Stasi is like the sister I never had!' he stated softly.
Henry was taken aback at this statement.
'Whatever you say!' he conceded, not believing a word of it.
'So I am going to live out my dreams.'
Henry shook his head in disbelief while Isak looked surprised that Jeremy was so adamant.
They hammered out a plan of action for Henry and Isak then separated for the remainder of the day, agreeing to begin working in earnest on the morrow by travelling to Boston.The two day ride to Boston was uneventful. After leaving West Point in the hour before dawn they arrived at their destination in the afternoon of the following day.
They took rooms at a tavern close to the docks, then proceeded to fulfil their plans.
Isak was the ideal member of the group to be on the docks, listening and waiting for the right information.
The tall Negro sauntered around the dock area one morning and was challenged as expected when he bent to examine some boxes being unloaded from the tall ships.
'Oi, you!' came a cockney voice from behind him.
Isak looked up only to be confronted by the ugliest Englishman he had ever seen. He looked like he had seen a few fights and lost most of them, and he seemed vaguely familiar. His nose had been broken at one time and now pointed sharply to the left; his eyes were red and bloodshot; his hair matted and he smelt as if he hadn't bathed for years.
'Yo' mean me?' Isak queried innocently.
'Yeh! Wot yer doin'?'
'Why, suh, Ah'm lookin' fo' some wo'k.' Isak fell into his duffer persona.
'Wot's yer name?'
'Yer look a strong lad. Come wit' me. Oi've just the work for yer!'
'Ugly' introduced himself as Branton – Phillip Branton, dock foreman, but in Isak's mind he would always be 'Ugly'.
So Isak became a navvy unloading the great sailing ships from all around the world. He was quickly accepted by all and sundry and was privy to all manner of conversations.
He overheard many a plot to overthrow King George's men, but also many more to undermine the rebellion. He remained neutral and earned the respect of his peers in the week he gathered information.
He heard the Master of the 'Alliance', which was to take Lafayette back to France, send out word that a crew was needed to man the ship. He decided to join the crew albeit only temporarily.
Within a week, he was a member of the crew of the 'Alliance'. The ruffians and riff raff who became the crew were a motley bunch. They came from all walks of life, but were mainly off the streets of Boston.
He was working on the sails two days later when one of the other crewmen called him.
'Hey, Isak, come and drink with us!' he was invited one evening.
'Ah'm wo'kin', Jeb.'
'Work can wait! Come on, we're meetin, the person in charge.'
Isak's expression didn't change, but he laid down his tools and followed Jeb to an inn close by.
A well dressed man met the crew members as they entered the inn and directed them to a back room. Once all had arrived he called for silence.
'You are all part of my plan to free General Burgoyne. Lafayette will be sailing within the week and you will put that plan into action as soon as the ship is out of Boston Harbour. He will have no chance to retaliate and you will throw that French upstart in chains and take him to England. There you will hand him over to my people. He will used as a bargaining tool to free our general, then we will hang him.'
'What if something goes wrong?'
'Nothing is going to go wrong! The Rebels know nothing of this. We have kept this a secret for months. You are all being paid well for your services. I will personally hang any man who breathes a word of this plan and these meetings we have convened.'
There was a low rumble of outrage before another crew member spoke.
'That's all to the good, but how do you know we don't have a spy in our midst?'
'All of you are loyal to King George, are you not?'
A murmur of assent went around the room.
'Do you not wish to stop this rebellion? To take Lafayette will stop it dead.'
A cheer went up from the crew as the man in charge dismissed the meeting.
Isak fully expected the men to drink the inn dry, but surprisingly, they all drank only moderately before returning to the ship to sleep.
And all this in less than a week!
Henry moved in slightly higher circles – among the businessmen of the town – learning of the man who planned the mutiny and working towards finally receiving the information he needed to inform the rest of the Society.
He insinuated himself into an exclusive club to garner friendships and to listen intently to all conversations of interest.
Jeremy, well, Jeremy was just being Jeremy – nonchalantly lazing around taking in everything he heard. More often than not he could be found in the bar of the tavern where they were staying with a tankard in his hand. All manner of men frequented this tavern and conversations proved interesting listening.
He had visited the docks as Stasi had indicated and found nothing. He intended to revisit the site within the week. He had reported their progress to Lafayette as ordered, staying with the General for more than an hour each time he rode to Fishkill. General Wayne demanded a report also, but Jeremy always kept a few pieces of information to himself for Lafayette's ears only.
When the trio met one evening at the inn Isak described his success at landing a position on the 'Alliance.'
'You must be careful, Isak! Anything could go wrong and you may find yourself aboard when the 'Alliance' sails.'
'Have you never heard of swimming?' Isak grinned.
'If you think you can do it without having to sail, keep the employment.'
Henry, who had been silent, spoke up, 'Let him sail! That way he can help the General.'
Jeremy and Isak looked at each other astonished, then at Henry as if they had not heard him right.
'Henry!' they both spoke at once.
Henry shrugged his shoulders.
'Well, it is one way of assuring the General's safety.'
'Let me talk to the General himself before we do anything about that,' Jeremy was cautious, 'He may have other plans.'
Agreeing to this course of action, they parted for the night to their respective rooms.
Three days later Henry was relaxing in the Club when a British officer entered with a gentleman known to the Yankee Doodle Society only as 'Dooley'.
Thankful that his back was to them and the chair was high backed, Henry lowered his head pretending to read as they requested a drink from the barman.
'What have you got for me?' the gentleman asked of the officer.
'Lafayette is now fit to travel. He will be sailing within the week. Are your men ready?'
'My men are already on the ship. 'Alliance' is fully manned and ready to sail. Lafayette won't make France. He will be thrown in irons and taken to England and then used as an exchange for the release of General Burgoyne.'
Henry, knowing the speakers, did nothing until they left the club sometime later, then followed them at a discreet distance. Or so he thought!
Within minutes of leaving the club Dooley and the officer parted company. Dooley then turned and spoke.
'Master Abington! What are you doing in New York?'
'Why, Master Dooley, fancy meeting you here! I am on my way to meet a supplier of pharmaceuticals.'
'You don't lie well, Abington. Methinks you should accompany me to my destination. We will decide your fate once we reach there.'
Henry made to turn around but was detained by a firm hand on his shoulder.
'I am armed, Abington!' Dooley muttered in his ear, 'Now, start walking!'
Henry's thoughts were working overtime as he complied to seemingly stroll along the street beside Dooley. With Dooley pressing a gun into his side, Henry had no choice but to go willingly.
'May I ask where you are taking me?'
'You are going to visit some friends of mine, Abington. You will be safely out of our way.'
'I will be missed.'
'Your friends will be informed of your desire to visit with friends.'
Henry thought Jeremy and Isak were too smart to fall for that! Or were they? He shook his head as if to clear that negative thought.
'Have you seen Henry?' Jeremy asked Isak that afternoon when they met at the tavern.
'I haven't, but I think I know where he is. One of the crew told us they had a fat rebel at a safe house where he could do no harm to their plans.'
'The British have him?'
'This probably will not surprise you, Jeremy, but Henry is being held captive by Dooley.'
'What has Dooley to do with this?'
'He is the man hiring the crew for the 'Alliance' and he is paying them well. Although I think the British are financing him.'
'What can we do about Henry?'
'Nothing. Apparently he is being well treated in the hope he will tell them how much we know of the planned mutiny.'
'He may buckle under pressure,' Jeremy was concerned.
'Not Henry!' Isak chuckled, 'He only thinks of his concoctions and the ingredients he uses! If he has any with him, we can guarantee he'll use them to free himself.'
Jeremy chuckled too at that thought.
'I wonder if he has any of his 'Eau de Skunk' left!' he laughed, 'He usually carries a small vial with him.'
This again bought a chuckle from the Negro as he pictured the last time they had used the concoction.
They were not surprised, when, later in the day a message was left at the tavern for them.
In Henry's writing was the note – 'I am visiting friends. I will return in a few days.' It was signed 'H. Abbington.'
Jeremy read the missive and chuckled. 'He has told us he is in trouble. Look at the spelling of his name.'
'An extra B? What does that stand for – big trouble?' Isak laughed.
'We'll just have to see what develops,' Jeremy sighed, 'I'll give him two days until we decide to take action. I must report to Lafayette.'
With that he walked to the stables and saddled his horse before riding to Fishkill.
At the same time Jeremy and Isak were discussing his predicament Henry was pondering his fate. He was being well treated, but wondered how long it would last. Probably until his captors realised that he would not give them the information they sought. The house they had brought him to was in a street of Boston unknown to him.
Once Dooley had departed for places unknown Henry had been taken to a well-appointed room and left to his own devices. Henry had tried the door but, as expected, it had been locked. He studied the window for a time before remembering he was on the second floor, quite a drop to the ground without a convenient tree. He opened the door to the adjoining room and discovered a small parlour. The outer door was as the other – locked!
Was there a window here? He glanced around.
Joy of joys!
The window was at the side of the house and growing beside was a sturdy oak!
Now his only problem was how to get out of the window and into the branches.
Next evening Lafayette was told of Henry's predicament.
'Leave him there for a day or so, Jeremy,' Lafayette counselled, 'Now we have a man at the source!'
'Isak and I decided two days was long enough for that. Then we'll do something.'
'I don't think they could stand Henry and his theories for that long! They may free him sooner! Now, what else have you to report?'
After hearing Jeremy's report, the young Frenchman commented, 'Isak is a strong swimmer. If he is trapped on board 'Alliance' you could have a boat waiting along the coast to pick him up. I could arrange that.'
Now almost fully recovered, Lafayette was enjoying the strategic planning he could do while having this enforced rest.
Suddenly he asked, 'Have you had any more dreams?'
'Strangely, sir, nay! They stopped when we arrived here.'
'Then the danger must have passed for you. Stasi came last night and spoke to me. I must accompany you to the docks.'
'Nay, sir, it would not be right! I have four British soldiers following me every day. They go back to wherever they come from at four each day, but they are there all day watching my every move.'
'What are they doing in Boston?'
'Apparently Dooley has a small contingent with him and they are part of that.'
'Seven days hence I will join you on the docks, Captain.'
'Sir, I advise against it! You still are not fit enough for the ride to Boston and all it would entail.'
Lafayette was adamant. 'You will meet me at the docks at twenty after ten, Captain.'
'Are you pulling rank on me, General?' Jeremy grinned.
Lafayette then chuckled, 'If needs be!'
Jeremy sighed in resignation and saluted, 'Aye, sir!'
'Now go. I do not want to see you until then. Report to General Wayne as you have been doing!'
Jeremy left the room laughing at himself.
The General had outwitted him! Again!
Jeremy reported to Anthony Wayne before riding back to Boston through the night.
Henry waited until late. He had made a pretence of going to bed and waited for all to become quiet in the house. This was his third night as a captive and he had had enough! He cautiously opened the window and, with difficulty, heaved his bulky frame through the small aperture. He had to time his jump to the tree just right or he would fall and he did not welcome the thought of waking the household with his likely screams.
He grunted as he reached for the nearest branch only to find it just out of reach. Now, if only he was a few inches taller! With considerable effort he extended his arm tenuously, trying to keep a grip on the windowsill for balance. His hand closed around the branch.
Was it sturdy enough to hold him?
He tentatively stepped out of the window onto the limb – it held! He looked down. In the darkness of the small courtyard he imagined all sorts of horrors waiting for him to descend. He slowly started to lower himself to the next branch, testing it before putting his full weight onto it.
A window on the ground floor confronted him. Hoping the room was unoccupied he continued his descent endeavouring to minimise any sound he made in the process. Every little noise seemed to echo to his ears a thousandfold.
Within minutes he was on the ground. He had made it! Now to get out the gate he had seen in the fence surrounding the enclosure. Swiftly he found the latch and opened the gate, grateful it was well maintained and didn't squeak. He took off running in the general direction he knew the inn to be.
Familiar landmarks appeared as he rounded a corner and he slowed his pace, puffing with the exertion and trying to catch his breath.
Suddenly it occurred to him it had all been too easy! Had Dooley expected him to escape? Was he being followed at this very minute? Should he go straight to Jeremy?
Henry tossed these questions around in his mind as he slipped into the shadows of a doorway and waited for a while. For almost half an hour he waited! The streets were deserted and silent – no one was about. His imagination was starting to run away with him and he took flight, every shadow a threat to his peace of mind.
Half an hour later he walked into the tavern and went straight up the stairs, bypassing his own room and knocking on Jeremy's door.
Jeremy, who had only an hour earlier arrived back from Fishkill, opened the door swiftly, expecting Isak but instead being confronted with his missing friend.
'Henry! Where have you been?' Jeremy's eyes were wide in surprise as he asked this question.
'It's a long story, Jeremy. I'll tell you all about it later. Suffice to say, I have escaped the clutches of Dooley and his cohorts.'
'Dooley will search for you. Let me dress and I will take you to Lafayette. You will be safe there.'
After rousing Isak and explaining the situation they made their way to the stables where they saddled their horses and rode out of town, leaving Isak to continue the investigation. They rode into Fishkill the next afternoon.
After explaining to the General Jeremy took his leave to return to Boston, leaving Henry in Lafayette's capable hands.
Mid morning on his fifth day of being a crewman came and Isak heard a commotion. He glanced in that direction only to see Jeremy surrounded by four British soldiers. He straightened and slowly left the ship to amble over to the scene where a crowd was gathering. Covertly glancing around his gaze fell upon a familiar figure in the background. Isak acknowledged his presence. Lafayette nodded to him and moved into the shadows behind the British.
'Wot's goin'on 'ere?' Ugly's voice boomed over the commotion.
'Who wants to know?' was the retort from a British soldier.
'Branton, dock foreman!'
The soldier looked him up and down before offering an explanation.
'This man has been seen here acting suspiciously. We have been following him.'
Jeremy looked the soldier fair in the eye and stated, 'I told you I was searching for my slave. He disappeared five days ago. I heard he was working here on the dock.'
'We have yet to find proof of your story.'
Jeremy shrugged then caught Isak's eye through the throng. He nodded imperceptibly and Isak acknowledged.
'There he is!' Jeremy pointed in the general direction of Isak.
Isak stood his ground and stared at the redcoats, deciding to stick to the preconceived plan, although having Lafayette so close would be a risk.
'Boy, do you know this man?' the officer queried, addressing Isak.
'Yo' talkin' a me, suh?'
'I am! Do you know this man?'
'Ah do, suh. Mah brother wo'ks fo' him.'
'Ah jus' tol' yo' that, suh!'
'Come here, boy!'
Isak ambled forward through the gap in the crowd and the soldier turned to face Jeremy.
'Is this your slave?'
'Nay, sir, this man is much taller. My slave ran when I pointed to him.'
'Where did he go?'
'If I knew that I would not be standing here with you,' Jeremy retorted swiftly.
Not being in the good mood at the best of times the soldier grabbed Jeremy by the shirtfront and hauled him closer.
'Are you not having us on, young master?'
'Nay, sir,' Jeremy feigned timidity.
Suddenly the soldier released him and swung a right hook. Taken by surprise Jeremy took the full brunt of the blow on the jaw and fell to his knees. A big dockworker pulled the soldier backward and held him firmly. Another helped Jeremy to his feet while a few others blocked the British soldiers as Jeremy shook his head to clear it, then stepped aside, surprised at the support he had received from the dock men.
Branton addressed his men, 'Wot we gonna do wit' 'em?'
'Throw 'em in the brig!' was the general chorus.
Branton nodded and gestured, 'Bring 'em an' foller me!" then led the way to a small room facing the dock - no windows, just a sturdy door that barred from the outside.
The soldiers were duly thrown into the room and the door slammed shut amid their protests. The bar was slid into place, making escape a near impossibility. Branton then posted a guard at the door.
Jeremy watched these proceedings from a doorway a short distance away, having been joined by his General during the fracas.
Branton turned and gestured to them.
Jeremy hesitated and Lafayette nudged him forward with a whispered, 'He is one of our men, Jeremy.'
They strode back to the foreman
'Think yourself lucky this time, young masters. Washington himself would have done the same thing,' Branton said in a low voice in perfect English.
'You are a patriot?' Jeremy asked softly.
'Aye, sir. And I know who you both are!'
Jeremy stood stock still while Lafayette grinned at Branton.
'Merci, Phillip!' Lafayette spoke softly.
'My pleasure, General. You should not be here!'
Lafayette sighed, 'Not you, too!'
'General, It is not safe here,' Branton stated then turned to Jeremy.
'Captain, I was at Valley Forge. You're secret is safe, but if I were you, I would to lay low for a few days and leave the mission to Henry and Isak. That is why I hired Isak. I knew who he was.'
Jeremy glanced around. The men had returned to their toil and were taking no notice of them.
'Don't worry, sir, I have a few loyal supporters here with me. Isak is safe.'
'It wasn't that I was worried about,' Jeremy chuckled in reply.
'I will get Isak all the information you need. Now get out of here before the British come looking for you again! And take him with you!' he was grinning as he pointed to Lafayette.
Jeremy spun on his heel and quickly walked from the dock area with Lafayette in tow, thinking of the support they had just received. Stasi's information had been right!
'So Stasi was right!' he muttered.
'I told you to let her guide you!'
'General, we had best get you back to your quarters! You will be missed!'
'Gimat knows where I am. There is no rush.'
Jeremy stopped dead in his tracks, 'And what did he think of this little escapade?' At Lafayette's expression he laughed, 'So he did not like it either?'
Lafayette had the good sense to look abashed, 'I am tired of being coddled! I had to get away for a while!'
Jeremy understood this and put a hand on the General's shoulder. 'Gilbert Motier, you will drive me to madness!'
The Frenchman cocked an eyebrow at his friend then continued walking.
Having delivered Lafayette safely back to Gimat, who had ridden to Boston with him, Jeremy sought out Henry, who had returned to Boston with the General, finding him eating his luncheon at the tavern.
He informed his friend of the morning's happenings while waiting for his meal to be served.
'So where is Lafayette now?' Henry smiled at the pictures Jeremy's story conjured up.
'He should be back in his quarters where I left him. Gimat won't let him escape again!' Jeremy grinned.
'When will he be sailing?'
'Probably next week.'
'I will take him another potion to get his full strength back by then.'
'I have already given him a dose.'
'One of nature's own?'
'What else? Mother Nature knows best!'
Having heard it all before Jeremy finished his food and left the apothecary to his own devices.
Waking from a sound sleep, Jeremy stared at the vision before him. It was two in the morning! He rubbed his eyes to ascertain he was not dreaming. No! The vision was still there. It was impossible. He knew his door was locked and had to be opened from the inside.
Dressed in a magnificent gown of red, resplendent with her hair coiffed and wearing what could only be diamonds around her neck, stood Stasi!
'Jeremy, I do apologise for waking you,' she said softly, her French accent strong.
'Stasi! How??? Wha.. What …??' he stammered.
'A locked door will not stop me. I will explain later. Get dressed and come with me.'
'What's going on?'
'Come!' she crooked a finger and disappeared.
Jeremy swiftly dressed and unlocked the door only to find Stasi standing waiting for him.
'Come!' she said again, 'Follow me!'
She led the way as Jeremy threw a cloak over his shoulders for protection from the wind-chilled air. Without further ado he trailed her to the docks.
'What are we doing here?'
'The information Isak gave you is incomplete. One of Branton's men is a traitor. He has given the British information meant only for rebel ears. We are going to visit him.'
'Shhh! Keep your voice down! He lives in a shanty over here. He's the one who freed the British soldiers tonight.'
A short distance away from the dock stood a row of hovels, obviously built for slaves in earlier years. The magnificent oaks that towered above them afforded some protection from the waxing gibbous moonlight that showed the rough path they trod.
Stasi stopped outside a building at the far end of the row.
'Convenient!' Jeremy muttered.
'He asked for this one so he could carry out his clandestine duties.'
'How do you know all this?"
'That is my secret! Although I know Gilbert has told you a little about it.'
Jeremy only nodded as he watched her enter the unlocked shanty.
She returned minutes later.
'Let us go!' she whispered urgently.
'What did you do to him?'
'J'effrayé le vrai demon sur lui,' she giggled.
Jeremy stood and gaped at her.
'You did what??'
'I sacred the holy terror out of him! I do not think he will inform the British of anything again.'
'Stasi, you didn't harm him?'
He reached for her, but to his amazement his hand did not make contact with anything solid.
'Non, mon ami, I left him alive and well, if scared! And, non, I can touch you, but you cannot touch me.'
'Tell me how you do this?'
'I cannot, Jeremy, the fewer people who know, the better. Come, we must return to your room.'
Back in his room at the tavern Jeremy turned to his companion.
'Stasi, what you are doing is impossible!'
'To you maybe, but France does not persecute sorcellerie as much as other countries do. It has been decriminalised, but many, including me, are still cautious about revealing ourselves. In France in particular, there is a tradition of institutional medical interest in the psychiatric aspects of witchcraft belief.'
'How can you be here when you are in France?'
'It is called psychic or telekinetic, Jeremy. Some have the ability and use it to the good. I must go!'
'Stasi, will I tell Lafayette about this?'
'I have already informed him of my intentions, Jeremy, but he may demand a report!' she laughed, 'I must go!'
With that exclamation she gave him a quick hug and disappeared.
'Stasi!' Jeremy whispered in disbelief, 'Stasi, were you ever here? Did I dream you?'
A low voice floated through the room, 'I was with you, mon ami.'
Morning came too slowly for Jeremy. He couldn't get back to sleep and spent the remainder of the dark hours trying to relax, but to no avail.
'I must tell the General!' he kept thinking, 'but will he believe me?'
With this thought in mind, at seven he finally decided to give up his restless pacing of the room and walk to the General's quarters, hoping to evade his British escort.
Gimat greeted Jeremy at the door and ushered him into Lafayette's breakfast room where he found the General partaking of a hearty meal.
'Jeremy, something is wrong?' Lafayette became concerned as he studied his Captain's face.
'I don't know, sir. Can we speak in private?' Jeremy eyed Gimat near the doorway.
Lafayette signalled for Gimat to leave the room. The Lieutenant did so only under protest.
'Stasi?' Lafayette queried.
'How did you know?' Jeremy's jaw dropped.
'She came to me last night and told me what she was going to do. Non, you are not imagining things, mon ami, she was here. Tell me what happened.'
The General listened intently as Jeremy told his tale, any thought of eating forgotten. When the story ended only then did the young Frenchman smile.
'I did not think she would really appear to you, Jeremy. There must have been a grave danger to your life for her to come to you.'
A commotion outside the door interrupted their conversation before a young man came rushing into the room.
'Sir! Sir! The British! The British!'
'Slow down, friend,' Jeremy said calmly, 'And tell us what the British are up to.'
The youth took a deep breath and looked at Lafayette.
'General, my name is Herron and I come from Branton. He said to keep the Captain with you! The British are looking for him.'
'Why are they looking for me?' Jeremy was puzzled.
'One of our men died this morning. Someone went to his hut and found him alive, but only just. They say he muttered something about seeing a ghost last night and that Yankee Doodle had something to do with it! They say he died of fright! We have since found that he was a British spy,' the words came out in a rush - 'The British seem to think that Yankee Doodle did it.'
Lafayette and Jeremy exchanged glances before the General spoke.
'Go on your way, Herron. Inform Phillip that we will heed his warning.'
The youth turned tail and bolted from the room.
Once alone again, the two patriots eyed each other, both at a complete loss to explain the British train of thought.
'Stasi said she left him alive and well,' Jeremy spoke first.
'Believe her!' Lafayette grinned, 'She must have given him a big fright! Now I know why people sometimes say they were 'scared to death'!'
'But if he did die of fright, would he not be dead when they found him?'
'I would have thought so, but I have no knowledge of medicine.'
'If that is the case, someone is trying to frame me!'
'It would be best to stay here for now. I daresay Henry and Isak will be along as soon as they hear the news.'
They repaired to the room used as an office to work on a strategy, the room being quite warm, thanks to a roaring fire in the grate.
Henry and Isak arrived as expected a short time later. They had further information on the supposed murder.
Isak spoke first, 'The man they found knew you, Jeremy. He recognised you at the docks and went straight to the British.'
'Was he found alive?' Lafayette queried.
'Aye, that he was! He was raving about seeing a ghost. The girl he described could have been Stasi!' Henry added.
Jeremy and Lafayette exchanged glances at this comment.
'You two know something?' Henry asked.
'It is hard to explain, Henry,' Lafayette stated, 'and you would not believe it, anyway.'
Both Henry and Isak looked askance at their friends.
'I think we should tell them, General,' Jeremy said, 'I don't think we have a choice. Although I doubt they would believe us.'
'We should know what happened,' Henry said softly.
Lafayette nodded and Jeremy began.
'You know about my dreams?'
At their nods he continued, 'Stasi was here last night. She came to my room and led me to the area where this supposed murder took place.'
'That's impossible!' Henry exclaimed.
Jeremy held up a hand to quell any more interruptions.
'Let me finish first, Henry, then you can try to explain.'
Jeremy and Lafayette jointly told the tale while Henry and Isak listened intently.
Henry and Isak were staring at the General as if he had two heads. The tale they had just heard defied belief.
'Your story is so unbelievable it has to be true!' Henry exclaimed, 'But things like that do not happen!'
'Jeremy, you did not kill him?' this from Isak.
'If you think that, Isak, ….' Jeremy left the rest unsaid.
'I had to ask!'
'We know, Isak,' Lafayette spoke softly, 'But what we have told you is true. Stasi is what you Americans call a witch although she only uses her gift when I am in grave danger.'
'A witch?' Henry scoffed, 'They do not exist!'
'Henry, your science cannot explain what happened last night,' Lafayette smiled, 'Believe me, nor can I!'
'There has to be an explanation!' Henry cried, 'I believe what you thought took place, but it just couldn't happen!'
'What about the description of the girl? You yourself said it could have been Stasi.'
Henry shook his head, 'I know! I know!'
'It happened and now has a rebounding effect on Jeremy,' Lafayette stated, 'We now have to divert British attention away from Jeremy.'
"Leave that to me!' Henry said without hesitation., 'By the time I finish with them, they will wish they had never heard of 'Yankee Doodle'!'
The young General raised an eyebrow and glanced at Jeremy.
'I am almost too afraid to ask,' he grinned.
'No one will get hurt, sir,' Henry promised, 'Only British pride!'
'Tell us what you have in mind, Henry!' Jeremy couldn't help but laugh.
Henry outlined a plan whereby he would use his expertise of science to annoy the few British soldiers in the town.
Lafayette and Jeremy were chuckling when he finished.
'Isak, it seems Henry will need your help with this!'
'Aye, sir. I will talk to Branton. He will probably wish to help us.'
'But be careful!' Lafayette ordered, 'You both know even the best laid plan can go wrong.'
When Henry and Isak had left Jeremy turned to Lafayette. 'They still don't believe us, sir.'
'They think we have taken leave of our senses – especially Henry!'
'I know,' was the answering sigh, 'How are we going to convince them?'
'There is only one way, but it is not going to happen.'
'What is that?'
'Stasi has to appear to them!' Lafayette exclaimed, 'But that will not be possible!'
Jeremy shook his head and reasoned, 'There has to be a way!'
The young General grinned, 'When you find it, let me know!'
Henry was in his element. Isak knew not to ask questions when the apothecary was mixing solutions. Some of the concoctions smelled rather foul, some sweet, but all were equally effective.
When Dooley exited the house one morning he found a small parcel addressed to him on the doorstep.
He picked it up, examined it closely, looked around, then turned back into the house. Little did he know that, as soon as he started to unwrap the parcel, a trigger mechanism would explode the package and Henry's 'Eau de Skunk' (as Jeremy and Isak called it) would spray a radius of almost three feet around him. Anyone in the room within that radius would be affected.
Henry and Isak had hidden themselves where they had a clear view of the house. They waited to see if Dooley exited the house in a change of clothing. Half an hour they were rewarded when the man himself opened the door and stepped into the street. He had changed, but still had to use a handkerchief over his nose to cover the smell.
Isak nudged Henry and grinned.
'It looks as if he was too curious.'
'We've won the first round, now for round two,' Henry chuckled.
'What do we do next?'
'I plan to put a mild acid on the doorstep tonight. If they walk through it the soles of their shoes will gradually disintegrate.'
'Interesting!'Isak mused, 'But what about the steps? Will the acid not eat through them?'
'This acid does not affect wood, but will corrode the leather of their shoes.'
'How is that?
Henry launched into a long and boring explanation. Isak, having heard most of it before, started walking back toward the tavern. Henry had to run to keep up with him.
For three days Dooley and his British compatriots were annoyed by small inconveniences. Dooley guessed Henry Abington was behind it all, but could find no trace of him apothecary. Henry and Isak had removed themselves from the inn into accommodation arranged by Lafayette two days into their campaign. Little did Dooley know they were encamped just two doors from where he was living!
Henry was mixing another potion in his makeshift laboratory when he heard a giggle. Isak, watching, looked at his friend and raised an eyebrow.'Did you hear anything?'
'There is no one here. How could we hear anything?'
A soft voice came to them.
'Keep it up, my friends, I am enjoying this!'
They both looked in the direction of the voice, but saw nothing.
'Who's there? Show yourself!' Isak demanded.
A soft giggle answered them from the vicinity of an armchair.
'Who's there?' Henry was puzzled.
When no answer was forthcoming, both Henry and Isak shrugged their shoulders and continued their task.
'We will scare Dooley with this one,' Henry turned to Isak, 'It smells sweet, like a buttercup, but it packs a punch like a battering ram!'
'What will it do to them?' Isak queried.
'It will knock them out for an hour. The only thing I have to figure out is how to get it inside the house.'
'Maybe I can be of help!'
They both stared at the apparition before them.
There stood Stasi in all her glory. This time she was dressed in a flamboyant green gown, bejewelled with diamonds and pearls. Her hair was coiffed high, her face made up and she was standing in the room as if she belonged there.
'Stasi!!!' Henry and Isak could not help but stare.
'This is impossible! We are hallucinating!' Henry finally found his voice.
'Henry,' she said softly, 'I know you are a man of science looking for a rational explanation for everything, but, believe me, science will not explain my presence here.'
Henry walked towards her, but she put a hand up to stop him.
'Henry, I can touch you, but cannot touch me. If you give me your formula when it is finished I will take it to Dooley's home and pour some into the meal in the kitchen when it is being prepared.'
'But how will you do it without being seen?'
'That is my secret! I know Gilbert and Jeremy have told you about my abilities, but there is still a lot they do not know. I will help you with this one thing, then I must go.'
'Go where?' Isak was curious, 'How can you be here when you are in France?'
'I will go from whence I came, Isak,' she smiled, 'I am sorry, but that is all you have to know.'
Isak shrugged and accepted her answer, though still not believing he was seeing her.
An hour later saw them opposite Dooley's residence. Evening had fallen and the dusk aided them to be unobserved.
Stasi held the vial Henry had handed her and grinned at her companions. 'I shall go about my task now! Wait here for my return.'
'Stasi, be careful! If you are seen…'' Henry left the rest unsaid.
'I will not be seen! I have not attempted before what I am going to do, but I will not be seen.'
Henry and Isak watched her walk over to the house then stared in surprise as she disappeared.
They turned to each other, lost for words.
Stasi entered the building and went in search of the kitchen area at the rear of the house. She was right in her timing – a large pot was simmering on the hob, full of vegetables. She emptied the contents of the vial into the pot unobserved then returned to the parlour. Here Dooley and four British soldiers were chatting while waiting for their meal.
Dooley was saying, 'Whoever is behind these pranks must have given up. We have had nothing for two days.'
One of the soldiers answered him.
'Maybe we scared them off with our extra guards on the grounds.'
'Don't underestimate your enemy, Rogers, we must still be wary.'
At this stage Stasi decided to show herself, thinking she would scare them, but Dooley was not easily scared when she appeared before him.
'Who are you? How did you get in here?' he demanded.
'My identity does not matter, Master Dooley. I only wish to tell you that you must leave Boston.'
'She's French!' Rogers exclaimed, 'Maybe one of Lafayette's whores!'
Stasi took exception to this description and stated so in no uncertain terms. 'You will apologise to me for that remark, sir! Lafayette would never betray his wife!'
'The little bird has the claws of an eagle!' Dooley laughed, 'Arrest her, gentlemen!'
Stasi stood her ground as the soldiers advanced on her. Their hands closed on thin air! She swung a fist and toppled the leader as the others tried unsuccessfully tried to detain her.
'I will go now, but you must heed my warning, sir,' she told Dooley as she walked towards him.
'I will not listen to some French whore!'
Before he knew what was happening a hand struck his cheek, leaving a red mark and a sting.
'Why, you…' Dooley lunged at her with the same results the soldiers had.
She leaned to whisper in his ear, 'You will forget this incident, and you will leave Boston tonight.'
Then she disappeared! Dooley was left staring at thin air.
'Come!' Stasi rejoined her friends and led them towards Lafayette's quarters, 'We must see Gilbert and Jeremy.'
They entered the house when Gimat answered their knock. He stared at Stasi, but did not comment as he led them to the office where Lafayette and Jeremy were relaxing over a game of chess. They looked up when the group entered the room behind Gimat, somehow not showing their surprise to see Stasi with Henry and Isak.
'Thank you, mes amis,' Lafayette grinned, 'you have just saved me from a defeat in battle.'
Henry glanced at the board, 'May I take over, sir?'
'If you think you can beat Jeremy, be my guest, he has won every game tonight.'
'Not fair!' Jeremy protested, 'You know Henry is a better player than I am.'
Lafayette just raised an expressive eyebrow and turned to Stasi. 'What are you doing here, ma petite?'
'I will explain, Gilbert, but I must talk to you in private.'
'Come!' the young General led her to another room.
Once alone with his cousin Lafayette spoke to her. 'Is it wise that you appeared to Henry and Isak, ma cherie?'
Stasi explained the circumstances of her appearing and he chuckled at the thought of Henry and Isak being converted.
'I am going to suggest that they all, Jeremy included, forget this ever happened, Gilbert. That way our secret is still safe.'
'That is a good strategy, but how are you going to do it?'
'Watch me! I will farewell each in turn and whisper a suggestion to them. They will forget I was ever here.'
'This I must see!' he exclaimed.
They rejoined their companions and Stasi spoke, 'I must leave you, my friends. We will meet again in the future, but for now I must return from whence I came.'
She walked over to Jeremy as he stood up, Henry having soundly thrashed him in the chess game.
'Jeremy,' she whispered as she hugged him, 'I will miss you all. You will think this was all a dream.'
Then she stared at him, concentrating.
Jeremy heard her voice, but her lips didn't move.
'Jeremy, on the first morning after your return home, you will wake in Chester and think this was a dream. Until then you will remember everything. Meanwhile do not mention our encounters in Boston to your friends.'
Again using telepathy she whispered a suggestion - 'You will forget you encountered me in Boston!' - to Henry and Isak. Then she embraced her cousin and disappeared.
Lafayette was the first to speak. He felt sympathy for the group, but could not enlighten them. Stasi had entrusted him with her secret and he would not betray that trust. He could but try to make his friends think nothing unusual had happened. How, he did not know!
'I see Henry beat you, Jeremy.'
Jeremy looked puzzled for a second then grinned, 'But you know he is a better player than I!'
'Sir, I am sure there was someone else in this room only moments ago!' Henry could not help glancing around.
'Only Gimat!' Lafayette and Jeremy exchanged glances, 'He informed me that we sail in two days. All is in preparation for my return home.'
Neither of them could look Isak and Henry in the eye.
'Am I to be aboard when you sail, sir?' this from Isak.
'Non, Isak, we have everything in hand, thanks to you three. We should be able to quell this so called mutiny without much effort.'
'You will still have to be careful, sir, something could go wrong!' Jeremy cautioned.
Lafayette sighed, 'Of course we know that, Captain, but, with the mutineers having no suspicion of our knowledge of the plot, we will take them by surprise.'
'Not an idea? Surely, with all the British spies in town, someone has informed one of the crew!' Henry was sceptical.
Isak looked at his friend and chuckled, 'You think I would have heard it, Henry. There has been nothing said at the meetings that Dooley has convened. And he asked that exact question.'
'You gathered your information so quickly, no suspicion has been aroused,' Lafayette stated, 'And for that I am grateful.'
'With Branton on our side, we had an easy time of it,' Isak said, 'He is the one who gathered most of the information.'
'Oui, Philip will be rewarded for such a thorough effort.'
'I don't think he expects any reward, sir. He is loyal to the Cause and has been an asset to us,' Jeremy grinned, 'He enjoyed the intrigue.'
'What about Dooley? Is he still not a danger to us?'
'All is well – a trusted spy has informed me that Dooley has left Boston. We will quell the mutiny and you are once again safe, Jeremy.'
'Aye, sir. We will leave for Chester after you have sailed.'
'We may as well have an early night, mon amis, I will need to rest before my journey. Jeremy, may I see you in private for a moment?'
Jeremy followed Lafayette to the room where only minutes before Stasi had spoken to her cousin.
'Stasi has made Henry and Isak forget that she appeared to them, Jeremy. You must not tell them of this.'
'But, why, sir?'
'It is her wish that her secret is kept safe.'
'I can see her point, but how did she do it?'
'She used the power of suggestion telepathically. That way neither one of them knows that the other saw her.'
'Sir, will I remember?'
'I do not know, Jeremy. If Stasi wishes it, you will forget most of what she has done here in Boston.'
'I do not want to forget!'
'Go back to the tavern tonight and I will see you tomorrow.'
They rejoined Henry and Isak before the group took their leave of the General and repaired to the inn.Epilogue
Jeremy awoke with a start. He was in his bed at home in Chester. Morning was just breaking.
Had it all been a dream?
It seemed so real!
Did he dream Stasi had joined them in Boston?
Would he ever know the truth?
Lafayette had sailed four days ago. That seemed such a short time to have arrived back in Chester.
Did they ride all day and night to reach home? He could not remember!
He would not know until he had spoken to Henry and Isak. Maybe they could shed some light on this feeling of forgetfulness.
'Did Stasi join us in Boston?' he asked his friends when he joined them in Isak's smithy later in the morning.
'What are you talking about, Jeremy?' Henry asked, 'Stasi is in Paris. Have you been dreaming of her again?'
Jeremy looked embarrassed. 'Aye, Henry, I have been dreaming!'
So it was a dream! Some dream!
Aboard the 'Alliance' the young French General overthrew the proposed mutiny.
Lafayette threw thirty of the mutineers in irons and sailed safely to France.
(Author's note: For those of you who don't know Cro' Nest, near Fishkill, is where Lafayette recovered from the illness that threatened his life before he sailed for France in 1779.