“Are you comfortable, Father?” Sixteen-year-old Emily mopped the sweat from his brow. “Do you need anything?”
“Your presence is enough, dear child. I think I should die of boredom without you by my side.”
“Yes, yes, I know it’s strange, Emily. How could one possibly be bored in a time of war?”
“I am bedridden. There is nothing I can do to further the war effort. All I can do is lie here and count the sound of shells in the distance.”
“I’m sorry, Emily. I don’t mean to be so melancholy.”
Emily sighed. “I know, Father.”
General Nathaniel Greene stood upon a nearby farm wagon, beckoning the villagers to gather around. “The situation is grave,” he bellowed.
A murmur rippled through the crowd.
“That filthy Tory Rawdon has forced us to retreat!”
The murmurs became low growls.
“We can overtake him again, but we will need reinforcements! Is there any man amongst you that will lend a hand to our cause?”
Many a deep-voiced shout was raised in the affirmative.
“You are indeed patriots, one and all!” Greene responded. “I have need of a messenger. General Sumter and his troops are a good 100 miles from here.”
The crowd was suddenly a bit more subdued.
“It will be a treacherous journey through the countryside. The man in question must know the wooded areas like the back of his hand.”
A few men, failing in their efforts at nonchalance, backed away from the group.
“There will be no doubt be Tories, bloodthirsty mongrels that they are, lying in
wait. The man in question must be brave and cunning!”
Someone sniffed in disbelief. A few more returned to their farm wagons.
“Who will undertake this great dispatch for our cause?”
Bit by bit, the men began to falter.
“Will no one sacrifice for the good of his countrymen?” Greene roared.
Emily looked around, disturbed by what she saw. With not so much as a moment’s hesitation, her hand shot up. “I will go!”
“Who said that?”
“I did, Mr. General, Sir,” said Emily.
“Who is your father, child, and why is he not here volunteering in your place?”
“My father is infirm, Sir. He wants nothing more than to serve his countrymen, but his condition keeps him confined to his bed.”
“But I share his patriotism! I know this countryside very well—and I am confident I can get your missive to General Sumter!”
“Do you realize the danger involved, young lady?” Greene squinted at Emily, mentally surveying her mettle. “The Tories will hang you if they catch you with a message.”
“Then I will memorize the message, Sir.”
“Yes, but Sumter knows my handwriting. He may not believe you if he doesn’t see the note himself.”
“Write your message down, and I will memorize it as well,” Emily replied. “That way, if I am caught, I can destroy the note and still know what to tell General Sumter.”
“This is a good plan. We will proceed, Miss, uh…”
“Geiger, Sir. Emily Geiger.”
Emily rode with diligence, her only goal to ensure the safe arrival of her dispatch. It took her a day longer than she had planned to get the message to General Sumter, as she had been detained by the British on the second day of her trip. When faced with impending discovery, Emily thought quickly and destroyed the physical evidence. She tore up the note and ate every last piece of it before a British matron was brought in to search her person.
When she finally arrived at the patriot army’s camp, she headed directly to General Sumter.
“Sir, I have an important message for you,” she said.
“I must see it!”
“You cannot, Sir,” she said, relaying the message and the story of her journey to bring it to him.
Intrigued, the General inquired what she had done with the physical note while being detained.
“I ate it, Sir.”
“I ate it, Mr. General, Sir,” she confessed, blushing.
“Then God has provided sustenance both for you and our countrymen through that one bit of manna.”
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