Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Tumble In The Night

I felt a blunt push to my shoulder as I started to regain consciousness. I slowly opened my eyes to an array of dazzling lights. Gradually they held focus to the starry night with the moon directly overhead. The shove to my shoulder happened again. This time the smell of oats and carrots, included in a blast of heavy breath, assaulted my nose. I turned my head and faced the giant snout of a horse a few inches away. It wasn’t my horse, yet he was familiar.

I was lying in the tall grass of an open field where the slight chill of the spring air sped my awakening. The night had robbed the landscape of its color, but not its clarity. My head remained murky to the events that had led to my current predicament. I could faintly recall my excitement about a number of lights and water, but not why. As I propped myself up on my elbows, the horse neighed in appreciation. I stared at the beast and recalled John, the Deacon of our church, lending his steed for my ride.

By the moonlight, I was able to see the chuckhole in the road that had tumbled the horse. I had been thrown and knocked unconscious. I hoped the horse was all right. I sat upright and reached for the horse’s front leg. I felt no broken bone under the skin and muscle beneath the short bristly hair. I repeated the process with the three other legs. To my relief the giant animal was unharmed. I staggered to my feet holding onto the reins. The horse did not object to my using his reins. Instead he actually assisted by raising his head with my additional weight until I was sure of foot. Then he lowered his head again to my level.

Good horse. I patted his jowls.

I looked around the field to try to recognize my location. It was unfamiliar land, filled with tall grass and a spackling of trees. I knew instinctively that I was supposed to be going thru this area. But where to? I knew which direction I had been heading on the path but not the destination. I could smell water nearby and craved it. I decided to walk the horse in that direction.

About two hundred yards away, across the field, ran a creek. Upon arrival, I let loose the horse and dropped to my knees. The water flowed rapidly as I dipped my cupped hand and splashed the cool liquid into my face. The horse did not wait for an invitation; he lowered his massive head and began to drink. Moonlight glittered off the rocks and water in the steady stream.

Now why did John loan me his horse? I tried to think back. I recalled all the unrest in town, and how Deacon John delivered a sermon that united the people. I know I was one of the few men called upon to attend a secret meeting. I tried to recall our plan. We had known an attack was imminent and we had to be ready. I wondered if the attack had started. My mind kept returning to thinking about lights and water. What was the meaning of lights and water?

I cupped more water out of the creek and drank it. It was cool and pure. I took several more mouthfuls. I had not realized how thirsty I was until I had begun to drink.

Then, as if by magic, I recalled a piece of information. I was on my way to see Sam, and I knew it was urgent. In that moment, never in my life had I desired anything as much as for my head to be clear, to be able to think straight. I tried to focus on what I was supposed to be doing. Only small fragments of recollection filled my head. I was on my way to Sam’s, and the horse had tripped in a hole in the road. I was sent by John… No, that’s not right. Robert sent me. John lent me his horse.

I had a vague memory of the costume party that started it all. The party got out of hand and property destroyed. The local authorities demanded retribution and sent for the military. Soldiers were on the way. We had a secret meeting and decided to fight back. That was a couple of months ago. Did the soldiers ever arrive? I recalled that I was waiting on Robert to hear of the latest event.

The horse had finished drinking and so had I. I took his reins again and started back towards the road. It was such a clear spring night. Hard to believe anything could be wrong. As the gentle wind worked its way thru the blades of grass, the moonlight glistened over its waves.
We got back to the road and were within feet of the place I had awaked. I could still see the indentation on the field where I had lain unconscious. I did not want to believe it to have been for any length of time. You think such high grass would have cushioned my fall. It did not. Then I saw the stone that my head must have hit. That explained a lot. The rock was not that big, just big enough to knock the sense out of me.

As I stood beside the horse, I recalled being at full gallop as we had approached this area. I knew a pressing sense of importance was in my ride. I was in a hurry to see Sam, and the reason was just out my reach. As I strained to remember, I understood everything had to do with the party back in Boston. We dressed as Indians and threw tea overboard. My aching head was recouping memory and fast.

Abruptly I retained all; it was Robert who shown the lights. In the tower of the Old North Church! Two lights it was! One if by land, two if by sea. I jumped up on the horses back. Samuel Adams and John Hancock are waiting for my news. The horse reared up and we galloped onward to Lexington as I shouted at the top of my lungs, “The British are coming! The British are coming!”