I spent the night tossing and turning, tormented by my fear of being discovered, my desire to read the letter’s contents, and the worry I might fall into a deep sleep and get a late start. For the next two days, every minute counted. Just before dawn I dressed in the blue gown again, for now I must present myself as a woman so I might pass unmolested by the conspirators’ agents who were told to search couriers. Shivering from both cold and nervousness, I left the house, prepared to carry the weight of this additional responsibility for the final third of my trip.
As I led Nelly out of the stable, someone’s shout fractured the pre-dawn silence. A man on horseback left Mr. Harrison’s house at a gallop and headed toward the high street. I swung into the saddle, more than willing to let the decoy courier draw attention. Passing the church and approaching the square at a walk, I saw the other rider’s horse rear, whinnying in fright as two mounted Continental soldiers and a civilian on a gray horse surrounded them.
The soldiers dragged the courier out of the saddle, dumped the contents of his haversack on the ground, and held a lantern up as they pawed through the pile. I pulled my hood closer around my face and passed by without altering Nelly’s pace, as would anyone who did not want to get involved, but out of the corner of my eye I saw the man on the gray horse watching me. If he turned out my saddlebags, he would find no letter, for I had concealed Mr. Harrison’s note in my stays.
Somewhere beyond the houses and outbuildings, a rooster crowed. I started, and when Nelly reacted to the change in my grip on the reins, I put her into her rack gait and did not look back.
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