Treason Of The Blackest Dye
By late evening the wood cutting expedition had returned to the Fort and one of the men carried a possum.
"What luck, eh, Moses?” called out his brother Elisha. "I think this is the last possum in the valley."
"Didn’t have to fire a shot, either,” added their cousin, Salmon. "Poor creature made the mistake of getting in the way of my axe."
"Stumbled onto some wild turnips, too” said Elisha. "Should make a nice stew."
"Well, let’s get him cleaned up and in the pot,” said Moses and started the project.
While they ate, Colonel Nathaniel Wade of the Massachusetts Militia and newly appointed Commander of West Point rode up and dismounted.
"Evening, men," he said.
"Heard the news, yet, men?" he asked.
"Heard what news?"
"General Washington has been all over West Point and the opposite bank looking for General Arnold and he's nowhere to be found,” the Colonel said.
"That's right,” said Moses, "General Washington was here looking for him. He left orders with me to inform General Arnold, that is, if I see him, that General Washington wishes to see him without delay. But what's it all about, I wonder?"
"What it's all about lads, is treason,” said Colonel Wade. "Word coming up the line is that some farmers down Tappan way caught themselves a British spy, some fellow calling himself John Anderson, carrying plans of the Point, he was, along with a list of our artillery and manpower. And, get this… he has a pass supposedly signed by General Arnold! That’s why Washington is looking for him. And where is he? He's disappeared. Gone. Vanished."
"Whoa!" said Moses.
"It must be a mistake," said Elisha.
"What American fighting for liberty would do such a thing? General Arnold was even wounded in battle. He was the hero of the Battle of Saratoga. It must be a mistake."
They all looked at each other and shook their heads in disbelief.
"Well, anyway, men,” continued Colonel Wade, "we're on full alert, guards doubled. Be prepared for the worst. An attack could come at any time. I'll see you in the morning.” He mounted his horse and cantered across the parade ground and up the trail to Fort Putnam.
The boys looked at each other. Moses thought out loud. "Maybe this is why the Fort is in such a state of disrepair. Maybe this is why we are low in supplies and have almost no rations. Maybe it's not a mistake after all."
A canopy of dark clouds rolled and unfurled beneath a half-moon playing tricks with shadowy reflections on the Hudson. Only the sound of a loon or an owl broke through the suspiciously silent curtain of darkness.
No one would sleep this night.
Go to Chapter Twenty-Three.
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