Chapter 3

Brigadier General  Lewis Nicola sat in his study, studying a map of the fort of Poltava in the Ukraine. The Russians had defended the place successfully 7o years before and defeated King Charles of Sweden, forcing his flight to the Ottoman Empire.

Nicola held his magnifying glass as he studied the map. His hand shook.

Nicola was not well, having endured heavy stress for a man of 67 years of age. He had kept very busy during the Revolution for an old age pensioner.

Using  his engineering skills, he had mapped out  British defenses of Philadelphia after they had occupied the city. In addition, Nicola had translated some key French texts concerning military strategy which helped the American army immensely.

He had also led the Infirmed Corp during the conflict, a unit containing soldiers who could only engage in limited military duty.  He had not slowed down since the outbreak of hostilities and was very tired.

Nicola was well known in his hometown of Philadelphia. He was once the mayor, and ran one of the largest libraries in North America.

What the public didn’t know was that he had played a key role in convincing General George Washington to dispense with his strong opposition to monarchy. Nicola had written a letter to the General two years before decrying the state of the Continental government and army.

The letter had decried the sufferings of those in the military and made no secret of Nicola’s distaste for republican government.

Washington had originally rebuked Nicola in a reply letter.  The great patriot had changed wonderfully since that correspondence.

The General had come around. He had come to believe in the wisdom put forth by Nicola and other officers of the Continental Army.

The door to Nicola’s study opened and a man with an angular face stood before him. William Bradford walked to the desk.

“How are you, General?”, asked Bradford.

“Now, William, don’t use these high and mighty  labels with me, my friend. Care for a drink.”

“I’ll drink with you anytime, Lewis.”

“Good. I just imported some fine Shnapps from Bavaria. Sit. Sit.”

“To what what or whom shall we toast, Lewis.”

“To King George the First of America, of course.”

Their glasses clinked together.

“Have you seen these, Lewis?”

Bradford pulled some literature out of his case.

“They are some incendiary pamphlets from Virginia. The writer calls himself ‘Culann’s Hound’.”

‘ Why, that’s the great Irish warrior of myth. I read about him growing up in Dublin.”

“I’m surprised your father let you read such things, Lewis.”

“Oh, my father loved the stories, though he did spend a lot of time beating Irish heads.”

“Well, his son may have to do the same. These  rags are attacking  the king as a turncoat to the Revolution.”

“I’m weary of conflict, William. But the new monarchy can’t abide any opposition.”

After Bradford left, Nicola visited took a walk around the corner to the headquarters of the Infirmed Corp.  Several of the men were lounging about, some of them as old as Nicola, and some with handicaps

“Attention!”, cried Colonel Robert Nelson.

“At ease, boys. Colonel, may I have a word?”

The two stepped into the Corps office.

“We need to send some men to Virginia, Robert. There’s some hothead down there publishing drivel against the king.”

Nicola showed Nelson the pamphlets.

“Why, the bloody traitor”, said Nelson. “I’ll ride down that way tomorrow and take care of the rebel.”

“You do that”, said Nicola.

It had been a long day for Finn. He had been hours shearing Samuel Black’s sheep.

As he mounted his horse to head for the tavern for a good meal, some men came running.

“Mary and Joseph, boys, why  such a hurry?”

“Come quick, Finn”, said his neighbor Johan Kerchner. “Your print shop’s on fire.”

Finn ran quickly and found a group of men passing buckets of water. One of them was his cousin Daniel.

“Looks like you played with fire, cousin.”

“What do you mean?”, said Finn.

“Looks like King George’s army has taken notice of some of your work.”

Johan said,”I was walking down our street 30 minutes ago when ten Continentals, many of them long in the tooth, rode  into town. They held a musket to my head and asked me if there was a man who called himself Culann around here. They held this to my face.”

Johan held up a copy of one of Finn’s pamphlets.

“I’m sorry, Finn. But I was scared to death so I pointed out your shop. They wrecked the place and then set it on fire. I would have come sooner, but they tied me up.”

“That’s true, Finn. I came upon this ole German bound and gagged about 10 minutes ago.”

“Royal bastards”, said Finn.

“They told me to tell you that the next time one of these pamphlets are published, it’ll be more than your shop that gets damaged,” Johan said.

“C’mon cousin, you can stay with me for now”,  said Daniel.

The next morning, Finn and Daniel sat around the table drinking tea and spooning some oatmeal.

“What are ye going to do now, Finn? Looks like those royals have you cornered.”

“Not on your life, Daniel. If they want to play rough, then so be it.”

“What in tarnation do you mean, Finn? What can you do? You are only one man.”

“Well, cousin, they say that the pen is mightier than the sword. It doesn’t look like it in my case. I’m going to recruit me some company.”

“You’re looking to get your head chopped off, Finn.”

“I need your help, Daniel.”

“Oh no you  don’t. I’m not sticking my head in the noose with you, cousin”.

Daniel’s blue eyes gazed at Finn.

“Surely you know some army buddies that didn’t fight this war to end up with a bloody king?”

Daniel ran his head through his long brown hair.

“Yep. There were a lot of men in the dragoons who loved George Washington, but not as a man with a crown on his head. They thought of the General as one of their own, republican through and through.”

“Well, let’s get crackin’ Daniel. Where do we find these blokes.”

“I have an idea. Get your bedroll together, Finn. We’re hittin’ the trail.”

This blogger is participating in National Novel Writing Month, which began on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word plus novel in 30 days. This is an excerpt of his endeavor.

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