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Authors: Ann Rinaldi

Time Enough for Drums

BOOK: Time Enough for Drums
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“Do you know how despicable a sneak is?”

A spy. He was a spy for the Americans! My head whirled in dizzy understanding as I looked up at him, standing in front of me, tall and lanky and broad shouldered, still tanned from his trip, his dark good looks spoiled by his anger.

“Answer me!” he snapped.

“Yes, sir.”

“What have I taught you in these last two years about decency and honor? Nothing?”

“I thought—”

“You thought what?”

“I thought you were a Tory.”

“And would that be reason to go into my private papers?”

“No. But you aren’t a Tory. You’re a Patriot, after all. You deceived me.”

“I had to. It’s part of my job. My life depends on it, can you understand that?”

“You mean—”

“I mean that I’ll hang from the highest tree or the nearest gallows if the British find out.”

Published by
Dell Laurel-Leaf
an imprint of
Random House Children’s Books
a division of Random House, Inc.
1540 Broadway
New York, New York 10036

Copyright © 1986 by Ann Rinaldi

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. For information address Random House Children’s Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.

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is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
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eISBN: 978-0-307-78686-9

RL: 6.3

Reprinted by arrangement with the author


For my son, R
a twentieth-century Patriot
who opened my eyes to my country’s history


The cold wind stung my face and brought tears to my eyes when I turned into it to look at my brother Dan, who stood next to me on the hill. It seemed like all of Trenton was laid out below us in grays and browns with nothing to recommend it on that cheerless December day. But what we saw was only King and Queen Streets as we stood on the rise where they converged.

“Are you ready, Jem?”


He handed the musket to me. I could not believe it was so heavy, and for a second I almost dropped it, but then I grabbed it with both hands.

Dan smiled. “Twelve pounds. You sure you still want to do this?”

“You know I do. Don’t tease. Let’s do it before someone sees us. I’m freezing.”

“All right, then, here.” He took his cartridge box from his shoulder and draped it over me. “You won’t be wearing one, of course, but you should always have cartridges made up at the house. I showed you how to do that.”

We’d done it one night when our parents had been out. Dan had been rolling cartridges at the kitchen table, and I’d gotten him to show me how. I’d even rolled some.

“Now hold the musket hip-height or whatever way is comfortable for you to load. All right?”

“Like this?”

“That’s fine. Next, take the cartridge out of the box and tear it apart with your teeth. Go ahead, put it between your teeth. That’s right. You know, a soldier can be deficient in many ways, Jem, but he’s got to have at least two good teeth.”

I ripped the end off the paper cartridge and spat it out. If only I weren’t so cold. If only I could stop shaking. If only the gun weren’t so heavy.

“There’s powder in there now and a musket ball, as you know. So pour some of the powder into the pan. That’s it. That’s enough. Close the hammer.…”

I did.

“Now pour the rest of the powder and the musket ball and the paper wadding into the barrel. Careful. That’s it. Take the ramrod out. Here … 
is the ramrod … I’ve
you, Jem!”

“Daniel Emerson, you may have done this
of times.…”

“You’re doing fine, Jem. No girl I know in town would even hold a musket.”

I wasn’t doing fine. The musket was too heavy. I couldn’t keep it all straight in my head, but I would do it. I was determined.

“Now, full-cock the cock. That’s it.”

“I … can’t … get … it … all … the … way … back.”

“Yes, you can. There you go. You’ve got it. Bring it up to your shoulder so you can fire. No, Jem, not
it. You’ve got to brace it. There, that’s it. Pull the trigger. Go ahead.”

I tried. It wouldn’t go back at first, but Dan was coaxing.

“Steady, hold your feet firm on the ground. Do it, Jem!”

I fired.

The world exploded. The impact almost knocked me over, but Dan steadied me. The noise was deafening. For a moment I couldn’t hear, couldn’t think, and I could almost taste the black powder in my mouth. But I had fired!

Dan took the musket, smiling. “You did fine. But you’ll have to go through the moves a little faster. Do you think you can remember all you have to do?”

“How can she? She can’t even remember to come for her lessons when her tutor is waiting for her.”

He said it plain and quiet, but there, just near the row of trees, was John Reid, my tutor, on his horse. Dan and I turned to stare, speechless. Where had he come from? There had been no one around a moment before. We watched, as if under a spell, as John Reid got off his horse and came toward us.

“I wish you were as attentive with your French, Jemima. I ought to give musket-firing lessons. Then I wouldn’t have to leave a warm fire and hunt you down.”

“I’m sorry, John,” Dan said. “I didn’t know Jem had lessons this afternoon.”

“Lessons are every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon.” Reid was looking at me, not my brother, as he spoke. His brown eyes bored into me. “You haven’t been home that much, Daniel, so you wouldn’t know.”

“Jem said—”

“Jem lied. A practice she’s been known to indulge in to get her own way.”

“John, I don’t think Jem would—”

“Yes, she would.” Reid turned his steadfast gaze from me to Dan. “She resorts to every sort of trickery she can think of to get out of lessons. And to provoke me. I’m quite used to it. It’s been going on for two years now. But this …”

He stared at the polished and gleaming musket in Dan’s hands. Then he sighed and looked from one of us to the other. “I trust your parents know about this.”

“No, John,” Dan said, “they don’t.” His words carried all the meaning they needed. Their eyes met. They were friends. Reid was four years older than Dan, but his authority over me made those four years seem like ten.

The wind gusted. I drew my blanket coat around me. Reid’s rough brown cloak billowed, making him look imposing and sinister.

“I trust you had good reason for this, then.”

“You know I leave in a month, John. With the war coming …” Now Dan sighed. “In my travels around the county I found many of the menfolk teaching the women to use weapons.”

Reid nodded. “Ah yes, the war. Damned nuisance. It’s all my boys talk about at school. It’s putting strange ideas into the young people’s heads. You know that your brother David is off at the steel mill with John Fitch again this afternoon when he’s supposed to be at his apprenticeship with John Singer.”

“No, I didn’t,” Dan said. “What do they do at the mill?”

“Make gunlocks for the American army.”


“Yes, gunlocks.” Reid’s boots crunched on the frozen ground as he strode back to his horse. “Which isn’t what Fitch is supposed to be doing there, but what he does nevertheless. And David with him. It seems I spend half my
time these days tracking down your errant brother and sister.”

“I’ll fetch David as soon as I leave here,” Dan promised.

“I’d appreciate that. And if it makes you feel any better, I’d probably teach my sister to use a musket, too, if I had a sister. After I birched her first for lying.” He got on his horse and sat, considering us.

“I’ll say nothing to your parents about this. It would only worry them needlessly.”

“Thank you, John.”

“I wasn’t lying, Mr. Reid.” I looked at him.

His eyes softened into familiar mockery. “We’ll discuss it Friday at lessons, Jemima.”

“I wasn’t. Dan and I were to meet here a full hour before lessons. But he was late. And I lost all sense of time.”

BOOK: Time Enough for Drums
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