The Liberty Boys' great stroke, or, Capturing a British man-of-war

The Liberty Boys' great stroke, or, Capturing a British man-of-war

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The Liberty Boys' great stroke, or, Capturing a British man-of-war
Series Title:
Liberty Boys of "76"
Moore, Harry
Place of Publication:
New York
Frank Tousey
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1 online resource (29 pages)


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Dime novels. ( lcsh )
History -- United States -- Revolution, 1775-1783 ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
025084349 ( ALEPH )
68214922 ( OCLC )
L20-00035 ( USFLDC DOI )
l20.35 ( USFLDC Handle )

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No. 17. NEW YORK, APRIIJ 26, 1901. Price 5 Cents.


HE LIBERTY BOYS-OF '76 Weekly Magazine Containing of the American Revolution. laued Wee1'L11-B'l 8ullscription $2.50 per 11ear. Ent#ed aa Second OllJllB Matter at the New YorkJ N. Y., Pod February 1901, Entered accordlnu to .A.ct of a"uresa, in the vear 1901, in tlle office of tM Lillrarlatl of Oongrus, WllBhlnutun, D. O., "11 Frank Tousev, 24 Union Square, New York. No. 17. NEW YORK, .APRIL 26, 1901. Price 5 Cent.a. CH.APTER I. IN A TREETOP. "Say, Dick, I believe the British are leaving, sure enough, s time!" "I believe you're right, Bob." General Washington appreciated the work the "Liberty Boys" had done, and gave them full credit for it. The commander-in-chief thought a great deal of Dick Slater. Dick, although but a boy in years, was General Washing ton's most trusted spy and scout. Washington had a number of men scouts and spies, but "I know I am, Dick. this time." There is no feint or pretense about Dick had been more successful than any of them. "It looks that way:" "Yes, and it is that way. The :5ritish have got enough trying to out-general General Washington, and they are aded for New York, or I am badly fooled." "I guess you're right, Bob. The entire army is moving." "They couldn't get past the patriot army and move on adelphia. General Washington was too smart for em. Hurrah!" It was the last day of June, 177'7. Two youths, of about eighteen years, occupied the very top of one of the largest and tallest trees in e timber bordering on the Raritan river in the State of w Jersey. The youths were Dick Slater and Bob Estabrook. They were members of a company of youths of about eir own age. The members of this company were known as the "Lib y Boys of '76." Dick had organized the company nearly a year before, d had been made its captain. During the year just passed, this company of "Liberty ys" had done wonderful work for the patriot cause. It had taken part in a number of important battles. In all of these battles the "Liberty Boys" bad shown eat courage, and fought" with wonderful energy and or. .And he and Bob were on a scouting expedition now. During the last half of the winter, all spring, the present time, the British had occupied a position at New Brunswick. During most of that time, the patriot army had occupied a position at Morristown Heights, about twenty-five miles distant from New Brunswick. While upon a spying expedition within the British lines, during the :first week in June, Dick l}.ad learned that the British intended moving on Phila

2 'rHE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. movements of the enemy, and he was always there with his I army to head them o:ff and drive them back. To tell the truth, the British generals were afraid that if they did get past, Washington would get in behind them and cut off their eommunication with New Brunswick and New York, and eventually encompass their destruction or capture. He was altogether too wily and wideawake for them. He had checkmated their every move. And they did not doubt that he would be able to check mate any moves they might make in future. So, disheartened and discouraged, they had given up th idea of trying to move across New Jersey and captur Philadelphia, and on this morning of which we write the And now, after eighteen days of maneuvering, by which had given the order for the army to retire toward Ne the British had gained nothing, they were, Dick and Bob York. were confident, withdrawing from New Brunswick and Dick and Bob watched the advancing column with in retiring to New York. As we have said, Dick and Bob were on a spying and scouting expedition. They had been riding along the road, about a mile distant terest. It drew slowly nearer and nearer. The men grew in size and became plainer to the sight o the youths. from New Brunswick, when they fancied they the "What shall we do, Dick?" asked Bob. :faint roll of a drum in the distance. "What do you mean, Bob?" asked Dick. They wondered what it could mean. "I mean shall we stay here and keep watch of the Brit They dismounted, and leading their horses into the timish, or shall we return at once to Middlebrook and info her tied them to trees. Then they selected the largest tree, of which we have already made mention, and climbed it. It was a bard task, but the youths had been raised in the timber and they had never seen the tree they could not climb. General Washington of what is taking place?" Dick was silent for a few moments. He looked toward the ground and seemed to be ponder ing. "I'll tell you, Bob," he said, presently; "it is my belie that General Washington will be glad to have the Britis When they reached the top of the tree they were well return to New York." rewarded for their trouble and pains. They had a magnificent view from the treetop. They could see New Brunswick plainly. It did not seem to be more than half a mile away. They could see the soldiers moving about. From where they were it looked like a giant beehive. The soldiers going into and comin&" out of the houses reminded the youths of bees going into and coming out of their hives. The brilliant red coats of the British soldiers made them objects easy to be seen. The roll of the drum could be heard now with more distinctness than when the youth s were down in the road. While the youths watched the British army began to move. A column was seen leaving the town and advancing up the road. It was then that the conversation ensued between Dick and Bob, as given at the head of this chapter. There was no doubt but that Di c k and Bob were right. "I think so, too, Dick." "Therefore he would not wish to do anything to kee them from making the move." "Certainly not." "And that being the case, I do not think it necessary t take the news to the commander-in-chief immediately "Then we will stay here?" "Yes, Bob." "How long?" "Until the British army has passed." "Until the army has passed, eh?" "Yes." then what?" "Then we'll get down out of this tree, Bob. "So I supposed," dryly. "And after we are down?" "'!'hen we will follow the British, Bob." "Follow them!" "Yes; why not?" "What can we accomplish by following them, Dick?" "Oh, I don't know, Bob. We may accomplish something The British were undoubt e dl y leavin g New Brunswick. and we may not. We can at least make sure that they ar Generals Howe and Cornwallis had b ecome discouraged. They decided that ther e was no use trying to outwit General Washington. fl returning to New York." "I don't think there is any doubt about that, do you?' "Nb; but it will be a good plan to make sure of it."


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. 3 "Yee; you're right about that." The youths now ceased talking. They kept their attention fixed on the approaching body of r!')dcoats. 'I'he British were coming nearer and nearer. The col-qmn of soldiers advancing in one continuous string from the town resembled some huge serpent crawl ing slowly forth from its den. At times sections of the column were invisible, hidden by the trees bordering the road along which it was pass ing. Presently the end of the column came in sight a quarter of a mile distant down the road It would soon be even with the tree in which the youths were perched. As it drew near, Bob :fidgeted slightly. "Jove! Dick," he said; "what if some of those fellows should catch sight of us!" "It would probably go hard with us, Bob." "I rather think so, myself." "They would probably use us as targets, and bring us down out of the tree as they would a couple of squirrel s," said Dick, calmly. 'That' s about what the y would do, Dick. They d enjoy "True, Bob; and I guess our boys will be glad it is over with, too." "I guess you re right about that. I know I for one shall be glad." "General Washington will be glad, too "I should think he would be." "Yes ; this is virtually a victory for him." "So it is, Bob." The youths watched the moving column with interest. They wondered how long it would take the army to pass. Dick decided that it would take it three or four hours at the least. This would be quite a while to remain in the treetop. Dick almo s t wished they had gone down out of the tree before the head of the column reached them. "It was too late now, however. They would have to stick it out and make the best of the situation. Dick and Bob soon wished they had not remained in the treetop, for another reason other than that of its being tiresome. One of the redcoats, sharper-eyed than his fellows, was looking up into the trees as he walked along, and he hap pened to espy a squirrel on one of the topmost limbs of the tree in which Dick and Bob were perched. trying their marksmenship on us." "Say, fellows !" he cried to -his comrades; "yonder is a "Yes; but I don't think there is any danger of their dissquirrel Watch me bring him down at the first shot!" covering our presence here." "I guess not. One thing, there is considerable foliage on this tree, and we can conceal ourselves behind the body of it." "So we can, Bob; I think we are perfectly safe up here. A score of the redcoat s comrad e s looked up and saw the squirrel. Up went the muzzles of as many The soldiers did not stop, but pointed the muskets up ward as they walked along. All w e will have to do will be to sit still and keep quiet" Again the youths relapsed into silence. "Great guns! Dick; they're going to shoot!" whispered Bob, excitedly. "They'll miss the squirrel and riddle us The front end of the column was almost even with them with bullets!" now. Presently it was abreast them. It s eemed as though they were looking straight down on the redcoats. The British soldiers made a brave showing in their brilliant uniforms. They seemed in excellent spirits. They were laughing and talking as they walked along Some of them were even singing. "They seem to be quite happy, Dick," whispered Bob. "So they do," replied Dick in a low, cautious tone. "I guess they are glad to think they are going back to Crash, roar The redcoats had fired. CHAPTER II. A DANGEROUS ASSIGNMENT. Not a bullet touched the squirrel. With a defiant chirp, and a whisk of his bushy tail, the New York, and will not to do any more of this marchsquirrel disappeared, having run down the limb and into a ing and counter-marching which they have been indulghole in the body of the tree. ing in daily for the la s t two or three weeks." But Dick and Bob?


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. The bullets whistled past them, so;me of the leaden issiles coming much closer than was conducive to com ort. The youths followed the British army several, an4i from a treetop a mile distant, they had the satisfaction I finally, of seeing the redcoats embarking in boats and crOBS-Some of the bullets struck the body of the tree behind ing over to Staten Island. iWhich were the youths. "I wonder what that means?" said Bob. "I supposed "Phew!" whistled Bob. That is more than we bargained they were going to New York." or, Dick I" "You're right! "Well, it's practically the same thing," said Dick. "Yoll I hope the redcoats won't sight any see, the ships constituting the fleet of Admiral Howe, Gen. !Dlore squirrels up in this tree." "So do I." The redcoats, laughing at their failure to bring down he squirrel, and never for one moment suspecting that hey had come within an ace of bringing down much big er game, i. e., two "rebel" spies, went on their way. It did take the 'British army more than four hours to pass the impromptu reviewing stand of Dick and Bob. Much to the satisfaction of Dick and Bob, the squirrel did not come out again and perch itself on the limb where it might be seen by the redcoats, and thus tempt them to further attempts in the way of sharpshooting. Doubtless the noise made by the volley fired by the Brit ish had given the little animal a severe scare, and it thought best to keep out of sight for awhi:le. When at last the British army had passed where the eral Howe's brother, are anchored nearer to the StateJ Island shore than to New York City," and General How probably wishes to be where he could confer with hli brother as quickly and with as little trouble as possible." "I judge you are right, Dick. Well, what shall we dt now?" "I guess we might as well return to Middlebrook a: once, Bob, and take the news to General Washington." "I guess that is the thing to do." The youths descended from the treetop, and moun their horses, took the back track. They rode at a good pace now. They did not have to go slow and feel their way. They rode at a gallop. They took a more direct route than they had come. By so doing, the distance to Middlebrook was reduced vouths were stationed, the two drew long breaths of relief. about eighteen miles. "I'm glad that's over witli, Dick," said Bob. "So am I." "Let's get down from here." "We'd better wait a little while. Let's wait till they get [ little farther away." "All right; but if I don't get down pretty soon, I'll fall own." They made the distance in about two hours. This brought them to Middlebrook about seven o'clock i the evening. Dick went at once to the headquarters of the commande in-chief. General Washington was glad to see Dick. He greeted Dick very pleasantly. "That would be the quiokest way to get down, Bob." "So you are back, Dick?" he remarked; "did you lean "Yes, but not the most satisfactory." aught that is of importance?" When the rear end of the long column of British sol"I think so, your excellency," replied Dick. "I hal diers was a quarter of a mile distant up the road, Dick and! come to inform you that the British have evacuated N e1 Bob slowly and carefully climbed out of the tree. Brunswick, and have retired to Staten Island!" Their legs were so stiff they could hardly stand, owing "What!" exclaimed the commander-in-chief; "say yo to the cramped position they had been in while up in the so, Dick? And have they indeed done this?" ree. A little exercise fixed them all right, however. Then they made their way to where their horses were tied. Untying the horses the youths led them out to the road. They waited until the redcoats had disappeared around ra bend in the road-the road crooking and winding through the timber-and then, mounting, they rode after them. By being very careful and pausing when they reached a bend in the road the youths were enabled to follow the red k'oats without the fact being discovered by their enemies. "Yes, your excellency." "When did the movement back to Staten Island ta place?" "This very day your excellency." "To-day?" "Yes, sir." 'And you saw the British leaving New Brunswick?" "We did, your excellency." General Washington was silent for a few moments. Then he said:


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. 5 "May it not be possible that this is another feint on the rt of the British?" "It is my duty, your excellency." "And like a brave soldier, you are always ready to do "You mean that they simply pretended to move back your duty." Staten Island, and that in reality they did not intend to "I hope I shall always be ready, sir." acuate New Brunswick?" "I am sure you will be, Dick." "Yes; that is what I mean." The commimder-in-chief was silent for a few moments, "No, that is not possible, your excellency, for the entire and then he went on: 'tish army has moved over onto St11ten Island. Bob and "Now that the British have evacuated New Brunswick ere in a treetop by the roadside, a mile from New Brunsand retired to Staten Island, it becomes very important ck, and saw the army leave New Brunswick. It took that I should have information regarding their future inem four hours to pass the point where we were stationed." "Ah How do you know the army went over onto aten Island, instead of to New York City?" "We followed it, your excellency, and from a treetop a e distant saw the army embark in boats and cross over Staten Island." "Ah Well, this is good news, indeed, Dick I The Brit have virtually given up New Jersey!" "So it seems, sir." General Washington rose and paced the floor for several tentions, if it is possible to secure such infopnation. Are you to try to secure the information for me, Dick?" "I shall be glad to be deputed to make-the attempt, your excellency! I deem it an honor to be chosen by you for such important work!" "Well, I choose you because of the fact that you have been more successful in such work than have either of the other spies I have. I choose you for the work for the reason that your past success entitles you to first choice." "Then you wish me to go into the British lines on Staten inutes. Island, and spy upon the British, and learn all that I can His hands were clasped behind his back, his head was inof their plans?" 'ned forward, and he was looking down at the floor. "That is what I wish you to do, Dick? Are you ready It was evident that he was thinking deeply. to undertake it?" At last he turned to Dick. "Dick," he said, earnestly; "I am puzzled not a little by e action of the British. It is hard to foretell what it rtends. Of course the British will try something else w, and the question is, what will they try?" The commander-in-chief paused for a few moments and ked at the floor. He was studying the situation. Dick remained silent. He suspected that he would be given some work to do. And this would suit him exactly. He was right about thinking he would be given work to The next words of the commander-in-chief proved this. "Dick," he said, "you have been very successful as a spy d scout-more successful, I may say, than any other spy have." "I am glad if I have been of benefit to the great cause, d have been successful in securing information that has "Yes, indeed, your excellency!" "When will you start?" "Within the hour, your excellency." "Good! And you will bring me information promptly, if you succeed in securing some ?" promptly as possible, sir. I shall take Bob Esta brook along, and as soon as I learn aught of value, I will send him to you with the information." "Very good; that will be a good idea." The commander-in-chief talked to Dick for ten or fifteen minutes longer, and gave him instructions. "Be very careful, my boy," he said, as Dick was leaving; "don't let the British capture you." "I will be careful, your excellency," said Dick. Then he bade the great man good-by, and, saluting, with drew. "Well, what did the commander-in-chief say when you told him the British had gone?" asked Bob, when Dick re turned to the quarters occupied by the company of "Liberty n of use to you, your excellency," said Dick, quietly and Boys." odestly. "He was very much surprised, Bob." "You have been very successful, Dick, as I have said; "I thought he would be." nd now I think I shall have to give you some more difficult "But he was very well pleased, also." d {langerous work of the same nature to do." "I shall be glad to attempt it, your excellency." "You are always ready and willing, Dick." "Yes?" "Yes; and now, we have some work ahead of us." "What kind of work, Dick?"


6 THE LIBERTY BOYS) GREAT S'l'ROKE. "Spy work." they ever started upon a more perilous one than this onY01 Bob jumped up and danced a double-shuffie on the floor. on which they were now bound. pe ; "Good!" he cried; "I' m glad of it! We are to go among the British, then!" "Yes." "At once!" "At once?" "Yes." "Hurrah! I'm ready!" Bob was of a somewhat excitable temperament. He was enthusiastic in whatever he did. But a cooler and braver youth in battle, or when danger of any kind threatened, it would have been hard to :find. The other youths gathered around the two, and asked questions. Dick explained the situation to them, and told them to hold themselves in readiness, so that they could come to wherever he might be, promptly, if sent for. They said they would be in readiness to obey orders. "I hope you'll be in a position that will enable you to send for us, Dick!" said Mark Morrison. But they were not worrying. They were happy as could be. They enjoyed the kind of work they were now engagin in. at B CHAPTER III. di THE CABIN IN THE CLEARING. It :was 11ui.te dark. The only light was the faint glimmer made b)' the b1ill iant stars, the moon not being up. t The youths knew the road well, however. There was no danger that they would lose their way. They were very familiar with the roads in this part o.f tbb State of New Jersey. So they had no diffic?lty in keeping on the right road. They did not ride as rapidly as they would have done had it been light, but they made very fair speed. t "And so do I!" declared Sam Sunderland. The other youths all said the same. They consumed about three hours in traversing the dis tance between Middlebrook and the point where they woul1 "If I should see a chance to do a good stroke of work, e:ross over to Staten Island. I would send for you," said Dick; "and there is never any knowing but what such a chance may present itself." "True," agreed Mark Morrison. "If I need you, I will send Bob to let you know," said Dick. "All right; we'll be on the lookout for him." "All right; be in readiness for prompt acti9n if Bob should come." The youths again al:lsured Dick that they would be in This distance was about twenty miles. So three hours was not so bad for a dark night's ride. "How are we going to get across this stream, Dick ?1 asked Bob, as t hey drew rein a.t the edge of the strean which separates Staten Island from the main land. "Our horses will have to swim across, Bob." "Do you think they can do it, Dick ?" "Oh, yes; this stream is not so very wide." "All right; you lead the --way and I will follow. Y 01 readiness, and then he and Bob quickly made their arrangeare the commander-in-chief of this army of two." ments for the journey which they intended to take. Dick laughed. The :first thing they did was to doll British uniforms. "All right, Bob. Come on," and Dick rode into lhE Of these they bad several, which bad been captured from water. the British, and taken from British prisoners. In work of this kind, the uniforms came in handy. In going into the British lines, it was almost an absolute necessity to have the British uniforms on. Otherwise they would be very quickly discovered and captured. This done, they looked to their pistols, and then, bidding Bob followed. The water was very shallow. The horses were able to wade out for a clli!tance of nearl fifty yards. Then the water became of sufficient depth so that th horses were forced to swim. It did not seem so very long before they touched botto their comrades good-by, they went out and mounted their once more, however, and then the animals waded the rest o horses and rode away in the darkness. the way to the Staten Island shore. It was not the :first time these two brave youths had Of course, the feet made considerable noist started npon a perilous undertaking, but it is doubtful if splashing h1 the water


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. This mw;t have been heru:d on the shore, for when the youths were yet twenty yards from the shore there came the peremptory cry: "Halt! Who comes there!" The youths brought their horses to a stop instantly. They realized the fact tha.t they had reached the shore at a point where the pickets had been stationed by the British. They would not dare venture ashore at this point. They would stand a good chance of being shot, if they did so. They would have to go up or down the stream a ways. They felt about carefully, and finally located the wound. It was in the right thigh, but was a mere flesh wound. The bullet had cut in only slightly. The horse was not injured to speak of. "He's all right," said Dick. "Yes, and I'm glad of it!" from Bob. ''I was afraid I would have to walk, if I got anywhere." "He will be able to carry you as far as you will care to ride, Bob." "I guess so." "Well, we had better be moving, Bob." "Which way shall we go?" But how were they to accomplish this? "I don't know as it matters. We will go farther south, The pi c kets had heard the sound of the horses' feet I think, though. There will be less likelihood of our runspla s hing in the water. They would hear the sound, if the youths tried to ride the horses up or down the stream. The only thing to do, Dick decided, was to return to the New Jersey side, and go up or down the stream a ways before re-trying to cross. He whispered this to Bob. ning onto more of the redcoats." "All right; just as you say." The youths mounted and rode away toward the south. They kept close along the shore. When they had gone perhaps half a mile they stopped. "I guess this is far enough," said Dick. "I should think so, Dick." Then they turned their horses around as quietly as they The youths rode into the water, and as soon as the water could and started them back in the direction from which became too deep for the horses to wade, they struck out they had just come. swimming, and swam toward the other shore. Of cour se, the horses made some noi se. The youths would not have been greatly surpri sed had It was heard by the pickets on the shore. they been hailed again; but they were not, and they rode "Halt!" came the cry in a loud, fierce voice; "halt! or cut onto the Staten Island shore. we will fire!" Of course, ..Dick and Bob did not halt. Nor did they make any reply. They deemed silenc e their best safeguard. They were sure the redcoats would fire, however. So they leaned forward until they were lying almost on the necks of the horses. It was lucky they took this precaution. Otherwise they might not have escaped unscathed. "Now which way, Dick?" asked Bob. "We will strike inland a ways, Bob." "And then?" "We will make our way northward, until we are in the vicinity of the British encampment." "And then what will we do?" "I don't lmow, Bob. We shall have to be governed by circumstances." They started. For the next instant there came the crash, roar! of sevThe moon was just rising. eral muskets. In a short time it would furnish enough light so that the The youths heard the sing, sing! of the bullets as tl1:ey youths would be able to see to find their way. went past. Dick was glad of this. But none of the bullets took effect. It would help them very much, as they were not familiar The horses were now in swimming water again, and did with the lay of the land. not make so much noise as when wading. They had never been on Staten Island before. The redcoats fired another volley a few moments later Of course, the moonlight would act against them, in that te But the youths escaped, though one of the horses was it would make them more likelj to be discovered by the wounded slightly. fili A few minutes later the youths reached the shore. "My horf'e was hit by a bullet, Dick," said Bob; "let's ee if we can find out whether or not he is badly hurt." The youth s dismounted British, but they would ha:e to look out for that. They rode eastward, through the scraggy underbrush and timber. They went in that direction perhaps half a mile. Then they turned and went in a northerly direction.


8 TH.I!} LIBERTY BOYS' GREA'l' STROKE. It was slow work. They bad to practically feel their way through the timThe woman and girl were evidently mother and daughter. Both seemed badly frightened. her. Dick soon learned what it was that was causing the trouAnother thing that made their situation rather pre-ble. carious was the fact that they did not know just where the The first words that came to Dick's ears after taking up British encampment was. his position at the window enlightened him. They might stumble upon it at any moment. The words were spoken by one of the redcoats. This would be very awhvard. ''You had better tell us where he is, woman!" the f elDick wished to enter the British lines, but he wished low said, fiercely and threateningly. "We know he is some-to do it in his own time and way. He did not wish to enter it as a suspect. Nor did he wish his entrance to occasion notice or comment. To be enabled to make a success of spying, he must get into the British encampment without attracti?g attention. This could only be done by slipping in. Presently the youths came to a little clearing in the timber. The clearing was four or five acres in extent. Near the centre was a log cabin. In front of the cabin were two or three horses. where around here, and we are going to find him, so you might as well tell us and save us the trouble of searching." "But he is not here," the woman said, her voice trem bling; "I have already told you that be bas gone over into New Jersey." "I don t believe it "It is true, nevertheless. He went yesterday, and will not return for several days." "Well, it' s lucky for him if that is the case!" the redcoat declared. "Why so?" the woman asked? "What has my husband done to injure you ?" "Hold on, Bob," said Dick; "we had better investigate a "Oh, he has done nothing to injure me, personall y but bit before venturing up to the cabin. We don t know what General Howe has information to the effect that your huswe may be running into." "That's right, Dick." band, Sam Hardy, is a rebel, and he sent us here to cap ture him and bring him to the British encampment." "You stay here, Bob, and hold the horses. forward and investigate." I will go "It is false I" the woman exclaimed. "He is not a rebel, neither is he a Tory. He bas been strictly neutral, and has The youths dismounted. Bob held the horses while Dick stole away in the direc tion of the cabin. done nothing to aid either the rebels or the British." "Well, he who isn't for us is against us. This neutral business I don't think much of. If we get our hands on As Dick drew near the cabin, he beard loud voices. your husband, we shall take him to General Howe, and he The owners of the voices were evidently using threatenwill then have to declare himself as being loyal to his king, ing language. or be shot as a rebel." Dick judged so, at least, though as yet he was not near "Well, I l}m very glad my husband is not here!" the enough to understand what was said. woman said with some show of spirit, "and I must say, tha He hastened forward, and, as he got nearer, be could bear if that is the way the representatives of King George act the voice of a woman. I don't think my husband would care to join them an The woman's voice bad a frightened sound. swear allegiance to such a king!" "Now, what's going on in there?" thought Dick, "it "Oh, ho there is no doubt but that you are a rebel sounds very much like an attempt by two or more men to woman! You bad better be careful I" bulldoze and frighten a woman. I shall investigate this "Why? Do the king's soldiers make war on women?" matter and if such proves to be the case, I think I shall 'l'he redcoat laughed shortly. have to take a hand in the affair." Dick turned aside and made his way around to the rear of the cabin. "No," "he said; "the king's soldiers don't make war o women, they think too much of them for that. There is on thing they do do when they get the opportunity, however As he had hoped, there was a window in the rear of the and that is, kiss them And, by Jove I think we sbal cabin, and to this window Dick made his way. have to take a kiss from the sweet lips of this pret Dick first looked through the window. daughter of yours to pay us for our trouble in coming here Within the cabin were three a woman, and a and to make up for our disappointment at not finding you girl of about seventeen years. husband."


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. Then the redcoat leall8u for this I I'll give you the worst thrashing you ever had in your life!" "Will you?" asked Dick, coolly. "I will! Look out for yourself!" Then the redcoat rushed at Dick. It was evident that he thought himself capable of ad ministering the thrashing to Dick. But he was to find that it was no easy task he had under taken. When he within reach of Dick, he struck out rapidly and fiercely. He was bent on finishing Dick in a very few moments. Had any of the blows taken effect, there is no doubt but that he would have accomplished his purpose. But none of the blows took effect. Dick saw to that. He dodged, ducked and evaded the blows without much trouble. He did not seem to be exerting himself greatly. He waited until the redcoat had become winded from his exertions. Then when the redcoat dropped his hands from sheer inability to longer hold them up, Dick struck out straight from the shoulder. His fist took the redcoat fairly between the eyes. The blow was a terrible one. The redcoat was knocked off his feet and went down with a crash. Such was the force with which he struck the floor that the cabin shook. The redcoat, while not .knocked senseless, was so dazed by the shock that he was rendered temporarily incapable terfere. of making a movement. "You fool!" cried one. "What do you mean by interHe lay there blinking up at the ceiling. fering in this manner? What business is this of yours, Judging by the look upon his face, he was trying to count anyway?" the number of stars dancing before his vision, and finding "It is the business of any true man to protect ladies from himself wholly unequal to the task. insult!" said Dick, promptly. "I would like to know what The redcoat's companions stared at Dick in amazement. right you have to come in here and im1ult these ladies?" They could not understand the matter at all. "The right of might!" replied the redcoat; "we can do Their comrade, as they knew, was one of the best men, it and therefore we will do it if we wish." physically, in the regiment of which they were members. "Not while I am around!" said Dick, grimly. He was an athlete, and something of a bully, having At this instant the redcoat who had been knocked down thrashed a number of the members of his regiment. scrambled to his feet. Hence they had not thought for a moment but that he The mother and daughter had retired to the farther side would be able to administer a thrashing to this youth, and of the and stood with clasped. hands, watching Dick and the redcoats, intently, a look of fear upon their faces. Evidently they were afraid their youthful champion would be severely handled by the three redcoats. do it quickly and easily. But, much to their surprise, it had turned out differently. Still, even yet, they could not think the youth a match for their comrade, and when the redcoat presently scram-


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. bled to his feet a second time and rushed at Dick, they thought that this time he would be successful. But they were destined to be disappointed The second atte mpt by the angry redcoat turned out much the same as the first had done. It was more disastrous for the fellow, if anything. As in the former instance, Dick waited till the redcoat had exhausted himself and dropped his hands. And then he i:;truck the fellow a terrible .blow on the chin. The redcoat was almost lifted from his feet. Down he went, kerthump He measured his full length upon the floor and lay there motionless. The jar of the blow and the shock of the fall had ren-Dic:k attacked them so :fiercely -that they were forced t take the defensive. More, they soou found that even though there were tw of thtim, this did not make the odds in their favor The youth's wonderful quickness and agility counter acted the odds of two against one. Dick was here, there, and everywhere. He was all around the two bewildered redcoats and de livered blows from all sides, and with such rapidity tha1 the fellows imagined Dick on all sides at once. The result was that they were quickly floored. They scrambled up and tried it again. With no better success this time. It took Dick but a very few moments to floor the m again And this time they lay still for perhaps half a minute. dered him temporarily insensible. The blows and the jar when they struck the floor stunne The mother and daughter drew long breaths indicative of them. relief. The other redcoat had now regained his senses. Doubtless they were surprised, as were the redcoat's com-He scrambled to his feet. rades. These two worthies realized at last that their comrade was no match for the strange youth. With the realization came a feeling of fierce anger. They decided to do what their comrade had failed to do. He made no motion toward Dick, howev er. He had had enough. The slrange youth had knocked him down twice, and b was smart enough to know that he could do it again i necessary. He realized that he had caught a Tartar. They would give the youth a good thrashing. Dick stood near the centre of the room, his arms folded He had been too much for one, but he could not stand and a quiet smile upon his face. up before two, they were sure. was ready for the fellow should he show a dispositio They did not stop to think that two attacking one would to renew hostilities. be cowardly. .All they thought of was getting even with youth for the rough manner in which he had handled their comrade, so they leaped forward and attacked him. Dick was not taken by surprise. Being a good judge of facial expression, however, he sa there was no danger to be apprehended from this source. The redcoat waited until his companions had begun stir, and then he assisted them to their feet. They looked dazed and bewildered still. He was expecting some such movement on the part of the They did not yet fully know what had occurred. fellows. The redcoat took them by the arms, and, without a wor Therefore be was prepared for them. to Dick or the and her daughwr, led the two from If the redcoats and the woman and girl had been surthe room. pri sed before, by the manner in which Dick had vanquished the redcoat, they were more surprised now. Dick met the two redcoats more than halfway. outside the door he paused, and, turning, shoo hi s fist at Dick. "I'll fix you for this yet, my fine fellow!" be hissed In his combat with the first redcoat, he bad fought on ''I'll get even with you for this night's work or know th the defensive, but now he took the aggr e ssive and attacked the two redroats with such energy and fury as to disconcert them g;eatly. They w e re not looking for it. They bad expected to do aU the attacking while the youth would be on the defensive. But they quickly found matters reversed. r e ason why." "Very well ; said Dick; "you will find me ready to ac c ommodate you at any time." A muttered curse was the redcoat's only reply And the three disappeared. Dick stepped to the doorway and looked out. He the three mount their horses and ride away.


THE LIBERTY BOYS' Gl}EAT STROKE. 11 They went in a northerly direction and disappeared in the timber bordering the little clearing. "Have they gone ? asked the woman, in a trembling voice. ''.Yes, madam," replied Dick. "Oh, I am so glad!" exclaimed girl. "And I," said her mother. "Oh, sir how can we ever thank you for what you have done for us?" "There is no need of thanking me," said Dick. ''Oh, but I don't see how you can make that out! We owe you a debt of gratitude so large that I am we will never be able to pay it off." "By the way," he added; "is your husband really a pa triot as those redcoats stated?" "Yes, he is a patriot. I denied it to those redcoats, but I did it for the sake of adding to my husband's safety. All is fair in war, you know." "Yes, indeed! I know that only too well," ac_ quiesced Dick. "Don't ackIJ.owledge to the British tha't your hus band is a patriot. Deny it positively, and then they will have to prove it before they can do anything." "I shall do so." "I should like to see your husband," remarked Dick. "He might be able to give me some information that would be of "You owe me nothing at all," said Dick. "l simply did value to me." ruy duty, and did for you what I should have expected any "Well, here he is!" said a hearty voice, and turning, true man to have done for my mother and sister under siinDick saw a man of perhaps forty years of age standing in ilar circumstances." the doorway. "Well, you are certainly entitled to thanks," the woman Siinultaneous cries of delight escaped the lips of Mrs. insisted, "and we do most earnestly thank you, do we not, Hardy and Mabel. Mabel?" "Oh, husband, is it you, and back so soon?" cried Mrs. "Yes, indeed, mother!" replied the girl, blushing as she Hardy. met Dick's gaze. "Yes, it is I. I got through over in Jersey sooner than "Very well," laughed Dick; "have it your own way. lt I expected, so did not delay, but come back home at once." is not polite to dispute the word of ladies, so I will say no "I am glad you did not get back sooner," said Mrs. more." Hardy, with a nervous little laugh. "I am glad to know that all British soldiers are not possessed of evil natures," said Mrs. Hardy. qBut for you, I am afraid I should have a very poor opinion of them as a whole." Dick laughed. "I don't suppose that all British soldiers are scoundrels, Mrs. Hardy," he said. "But the truth is, I am not a British soldier." "You are not!" ex.claimed Mrs. Hardy and Mabel in unison. "No, indeed! I am a patriot soldier.'' "A patriot soldier!" again in unison. "Yes." "Why so, wife?" "Because if you had been here, you would have got into trouble." "Into trouble?" "Yes." "How's that?" "Why, there were some British soldiers here looking for you." "They said they had heard that you were a rebel, papa, and that General Howe had sent them to get you and bring you before him," said Mabel. "Oh, that's it, is it?" "Yes." "But your uniform!" "Well, I don't know whether they would have got me or Dick smiled. not, if I had been here," said Mr. Hardy, grimly; "how "I know I have on a British uniform, Mrs. Hardy," he many did you say there were of them?" aid; "but I am wearing it as a safeguard, so that in case "Three." meet any of the British they would as those fellows who "Well, I don't think three would have taken me to Gen-ere here awhile ago undoubtedly did, think me one of eral Howe, if I do say it myself. I almost" wish I had been hemselves, and thus I would escape capture and possibly here." eath at their hands." "Ah! I understand!" exclaimed Mrs. Hardy. "That is a good plan," said Mabel. "l'.m ?lad you were not," said Mrs. Hardy; "for you might not have come out of an encounter with them as successfully as did this young gentleman here. He thrashed "It is a device that has served me well on many oc-.11JI three of them and put them to flight." asions," said Dick. J "Oh, it was grand, papa!" said Mabel, who was inclined


1.2 'l'HE Ll.BER 11Y BOYi::>' GREAT STROKE. to be a little bit enthusiastic; "you should have seen him knock those redcoats around!" Mr. Hardy smiled and looked at Dick. "Why," he said, "he is a redcoat himself." l know where the British encampment is, ho'v far it from here, and the best way to go about trying to sl through the lines." "Good!" said Dick. "That is just what I wished "No, no, papa, he is not; he is a patriot soldier!" cried learn." Mabel quickly and eagerly. 1 hen he remembered Bob who was waiting at the ed Mr. Hardy looked surprised and somewhat incredulous. of the clearing. "Then why the British uniform?" he asked. "I wea1 it as a disguise, sir," said Dick, quietly. "I find it to be quite a protection when I am in a locality where the redcoats abound." "Then you are--?" I "A patriot spy, at your service, Mr. Hardy!" '> .... '" 'i' ,. .. I ">i .I !. CHAPTER V. HEADED .FOR THE BRITISH ENCAMPMENT. ."A patriot spy!" 1 .. Mr. Hardy was surprised. Wait a moment," he said; "I have a friend outsi who will wonder what is keeping me. I will go and him, and we will be back in a few minutes." Dick left the room and made his way to where Bob w stationed. "Great guns, Dick; what kept you so long? I thoug 1 saw those fellows ride away a quarter of an hour ago." "You did, Bob. I have been talking to the folks w live in that cabin. We're in luck, old man." "How is that, Dick?" "Why, those people are patriots, and the man kno exactly where the British encampment is, and will show the way there." "That's good! But who were the three fellows who w there, Dick?" "Yes, papa cried Mabel. "You would know he was not "They were British soldiers. They had come there a British soldier or a Tory if you had seen him give those capture this patriot, Mr. Hardy, but he was not at hom three redcoats that trouncing!" Mr. Hardy looked at Dick quickly and searchingly. There was a peculiar, eager light in his eyes, as he a s ked: What is your name?" "Slater, sir." "Dick Slater?" Dick nodded. "Yes, sir," he replied. "I thought so," said Mr. Hardy; "you are the famous boy spy who has made such a wonderful reputation during the past year, both as a spy and as the captain of the company of soldiers known as the 'Liberty Boys of '76 !' Dick smiled. "I have done some work as a spy," he said, modestly; "and I am the captain of the company of 'Liberty Boys,' and that brings me to the point at issue. I am on a spying expedition now, Mr. Hardy." The man nodd e d hi s head. "I suspected as mu c h," he said. "And now, Mr. Hardy, l' am going to ask: Can you give me any information that will be of value to me with regard to the location oi the British encampment, I mean and how best to go about getting the encamp"And didn't you have any trouble with them ?" "Oh, a little, but nothing to speak of." Dick s tone was matter of fact, but Bob read between t lines. He felt that there bad been a lively scrimmage in t cabin. "I wish I had been there!" he said. "Luckily, I didn't need you, Bob." The youths were walking across the clearing, leadi their horses. 4 Tying their horses to a couple of small trees standi in front of the cabin they entered. Dick introduced Bob to Mr. and Mrs. Hardy and M a b who greeted the youth cordially "How far is it to the Briti s h encampment, Mr. Hardy asked Dick. "About three miles." "Through timber all the way ?" "Most all the way, yes." "The n I think it would b e a good idea for us to leave o horses here don't you Bob?" "Yes Dick. We can walk that distance in an hour. a then when we get there we won't be bothered with t ment without being discovered." horses." "Yes, I can give you some information Raid Mr. Hardy. "You're right. We will leave them here and Mr. Har


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREA'l' STROKE. i3 will take care of them for us, and then when we want them came to a perfect understanding of what was to be expected we will know where to look for them." from the others. Mr. Hardy was quite willing to do all he could to aid the Then Mr. Hardy gave Dick instructions regarding how youths, but he was afraid to leave home that night, for fear he should go in order to reach the encampment. the redcoats would return, and, although Dick was reluc"You see the campfires?" lie asked. tant to wait, he decided to do so, in order to secure the aid "Yes," replied Dick. of Hardy, and the trip up to the British encampment "You will notice that they seem to be on ground conwas put off till the next night. siderably lower than this where we are." They remained at the home of Mr. Hardy the rest of that night and next day, and then, after an early supper, Dick and Bob bade Mrs. Hardy and Mabel good-by, and, panied by Mr. Hardy, set out on 'their journey. Mr. Hardy took the lead, as he was familiar with the "I noticed it." "Well, the encampment is down in a little valley, while we are on top of a hill overlooking the v alley." "So I judged," remarked Dick. "Yes, and right in front of us, fifty yards down the course to be taken, and the youths were not. side of this hill, is the entrance to a narrow ravine, wluch 'rhey did not do much talking, as they did not know at extends down to the valley. You can go right down the what moment they might be in close proximity to a scoutravine, and I think you will not have much difficulty in ing party of the redcoats. slipping into the British encampment." After an hour of steady walking, Mr. Hardy halted. "They may have sentinels at the mouth of the ravine," "We are now within a quarter of a mile of the main ensuggested Bob. campment of the British," he said. "Now, I suppose you "I had thought of that, Bob," said Dick. "I will '..le on :want to know the best way to get into the encampment?" the lookout for them." "Yes," replied Dick. "Are you both going?" Dick hesitated and was silent for a few moments. "I don't think we had better both go, Bob," he said, "I did think we would, but now that we have Mr. Hardy to aid us, I think that you had better stay here, Bob." "You think so, Dick ?" "Yes; you can remain stationed here where I will know exactly where to :find you. I will enter the British encamp ment alone, will play the spy to the best of my ability, and After some further conversation, Dick shook hands with 1 Bob and Mr. Hardy, l:)ade them good-by and disappeared in the darkness. He was starting on a perilous undertaking. CHAPTER VI. DICK ENTERS THE BRITISH ENO.A.MPMENT. Dick had no difliculty in :finding the mouth of the then if I find ot anything of importance, I will slip away ravme. from the encampment and come here and tell you the news. He entered it and made his down toward the British If you have to stay here for any length of time, as a day encampment. or two, 1\Ir. Hardy can bring you food. Don't you think He went at a moderate pace until within perhaps seve nty-that a good plan?" :five yards of tbe end of the ravine, and then he slai;kened "It suits me, if you say so, Dick. You are the com-his pace. mander of this expedition." He would have to go slowly and be careful "Very well, then we will call the matter settled-that There might be sentinels on guard at the mouth of the is if Mr. Hardy can do his part." "Oh, I can do my part all right," said Mr. Hardy, promptly. "I shall be glad to give you all the assistance in my power, and even then I shall be greatly in your debt on account of the manner in which you protected my wife and daughter from insult." "Oh, th11t is all right, Mr. Hardy; you owe me nothing !or that. I was glad to be able to render assistance to your wife and daughter. It was my duty to do so." The three conversed for a few minutes longer, and ea:ih ravine. Slowly he made his way along. At last, when within ten or fifteen yards of the end of the ravine, he heard voices. "Sentinels!" he thought; "I shall have to be very careful." He crept cautiously nearer. Presently he caught sight of the sentinels. There were two of the fellows, and they stood with their backs toward Dick.


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. They were smoking and talking, and evidently had Ill) suspicion that any one was near. / Dick was within thirty feet of them, and could hear all that was said. l "I wonder what will be the move of the general," said one. "I don't know," ras the reply. "Well, I hope that if there is no fighting to be done, we will remain camped here. It is close to New York and we can get over there once in awhile and enjoy ourselves a little bit. It was dry work down at New Brunswick." "So it was, but if the hill.ts I have heard dropped since we came here go for anything, we are likely to go where can get all the wet work we want." "How is that?" "Why, some of the boys say there is talk that we are to go on board Admiral Howe's ships and take a sail some where." "Is that ? "Yes." "Well, I don't know that I should object. That woulu be much easier work than marching and counter-marching over and over again, as we have just been doing day aficr day for nearly a month past." "That's right; it would suit me very well, too." "But where would we sail to?" "That's what I don't know. No one aeems to know any thing about that." "I rather think there is something in that. The general J A slight misstep, the kicking of a stone by his foot, ihe snapping of a twig, might easily betray his presence. And that would to trouble. I Bt Dick d,id not intend that either of these tp:ings should happen. JJ. He exercised the greatest possible carJ. He movl'Jd very slowly, and made his way along with all the stealth of a redman of the forest. At last Dick was out of the, mouth of the ravine. He had passed within ten feet of the redcoats, and ha.J not been discovered. Dick was not entirely safe yet. Had the redcoats looked around they would have seen him. The youth made his way onward as rapidly as possiblP. however, and trusted to his good fortune to enable him to get out of sight undetected. He succeeded. The sentinels were so interested in their conversation that they never looked around, and Dick congratulating himself on his good fortune, made his way onward toward the encampment. Dick decided that a bold course was the best one, so lie walked boldly into the encampment and mingled with the redcoats. His uniform protected him. The British soldiers, of course, thought he was one of them. The only danger was that Dick would run across some went aboard hi s brother s flagship this evening, you know." one who knew him. "Yes, they're figuring about something." The conversation of the two sentinels now turned on matters of a personal nature, which, of course, did not inI tcrest Dick. He decided to make the attempt to slip past them He did not think it would be so very difficult. The danger from this source, however, was not great. were in the British encampment perhaps one hun dred soldier s who would have recognized Dick had they met him face to face. But there were eighteen, thousand men in encamp ment, so as may be easily understood the chances that he The two seu:inels were interested in their conversation, would encounter one of the hundred who knew him were and were not paying much attention to their surroundings. few. Doubtle s s they thought there was not much need oi' keepDick was wil l ;ng to take the chances, anyway. ing a close watch. He made his way here and there among the soldien, and They lookecl upon their work as merely a matter of listened to their conversation. form. He picked up a number of interesting items of informaThey did not think the services of sentinels were ne('ded. tion in this m : mner. Therefor e they gave themselves up to the e njo y ment of He made mental note of E:verything he heard. their smoking and conversation Dick had a splendid memory. This was c e rtainl y to Di c k'r. advanta_ge. He did not need a notebook in which to write down what He stole s ilently forward. he heard. To get past thB tw:o redcoats. he would have to go within There was no danger that he would forget it. ten feet of them. Thi s mane thr attemnt rathe r a ri sky Olli'. This was of great aid to him i.n his work as a spy. Dick. circulated freely among thf' British.


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. 15 'l'here was no hesitancy or indecisi-en in his actions. He made his way about freely and carelessly, the same as did the British soldiers. No one would have ever suspected from his bearing that he was a patriot spy and that his life was practically in his hands every moment of the time that he was in the that Dick was a rebel spy, the youth whirled and ran away with the speed of the wind. All.was hubbub and confusion behind him. .... J The redcoats were wildly excited. They yelled and shouted. Then they set out in pursuit of the flying youth. British encampment. Luckily for Dick the campfire, which he was leaving But his calm and careless bearing, was, of course, his behind him, was at the extreme northern end of the engreatest safeguard. campment, and this enabled him to disappeal" from sight Any hesitancy on his part, or any queer or unusual aci n the darkness very quickly. tions, would have attracted attention to him and aroused "Spread out and hem him in!" he heard a voice say; suspicion in the minds of the redcoats. Dick gradually worked his way through the encampment. An encampment of eighteen thousand men is no small affair. It covered considerable ground. Dick had entered the encampment at the south side. He had penetrated to the centre, and working his way onward toward the north, he had finally neared the north ern edge of the encampment. .And now the unexpected happened. Dick had not expected to encounter any one who knew him. But this is just what happened. .As Dick approached one of the campfires, a soldier, turn ing to walk away, met the youth face to face. He looked at Dick, and then uttered an exclamation: 1Dick Slater, the rebel spy, by all that is wonderful!" the fellow cried. CHAPTER VIL IN THE WATERS OF THE BAY. The fellow s words were heard by all the redcoat s in t h e immediate vicinity. "the bay is in front of him, he can t get away!" Dick discovered that the bay was in front of him. He did not need to hear the statement of the redcoat to become aware of this fact. Almost the very instant he heard the redcoat's words, Dick's feet left terra firma, and he went plunging headlong into the waters of the bay. Such a happening, coming unexpectedly, would have demoralized most persons, but not with Dick He was almost as much at home in water as on land. Dick went underneath the water at the first plunge, but he was on the surface again in a few moments, and with out an instant's hesitancy he struck boldly out and swam away from the shore and directly out into the bay. Dick was not afraid of being drowned. He was a splendid swimmer. Of course, handicapped as he was b)'. his clothing, it was ,rather a difficult matter for even an expert swimmer to make his way through the water with rapidity. But it was not necessary to swim rapidly, as he was al Teady out of the reach of his pursuers. True, they might get a boat and search for him, but he felt confident that he could dodge them in the darkness. Dick was sorry his identity had been discovered. Ile had hoped "that he would be enabled to remain in the e ncampment all night, and possibly ;:ill next day and the Exclamations of amazement and wonder e s cap e d them. next night. "What?" "Dick Slater?" ''.A rebel spy?" "Surely not !" "You mu s t b e mi s taken, Burrows!" "No mi s take about it!" cried Burrow s "He is-catch him, somebody Don't let him get away!" Di

16 'fHE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. Practically the entire army would turn out and try to effect his capture. The entire shore line of the northern part of Isl d would be lined with redcoe.ts. Plainly he could not land at any point on the island. What then was he to do? Must he swim across the bay and try to effect a land'ng at Paulus Hook? The matter was not left for Dick to decide, however. He had been swimming lustily, and considering the difficulties under which he was laboring, had made very good rogress. Such good progress had he made, in factr that suddenly the immense hull of one of the British warships loomed up in front of him. Something brushed against Dick. He grasped it with his hand. It was a rope ladder. A daring thought fl.ashed into Dick's mind. Why not board the warship ? Dick decided to attempt it at any rate. .. He might fail, but no matter, he would try it, anyway. He pulled himself up out of the water. Then he began climbing the rope. Slowly and carefully he mounted the ladder. When his head was even with the ship's rail, Dick paused. He wished to take an observati:on before proceeding farther. He heard the measured footsteps of the man on watch. The sound of the footsteps grew louder and plainer. The man was approaching. Dick remained where he was, but kept perfectly quiet. He was well sheltered and did not think the man would be able to see him. Presently the form of the watchman loomed up in front of Dick and seemingly not more than six feet distant. Then the watchman paused, turned around and started back toward the bow of the vessel. A s soon as he had disappeared from Dick's view the youth acted. So Dick felt Dick stood right beside the companionway. Just as the watchman came the youth, anothe man came up o .ut of the cabin, passing up the companion way, and within an arm's length of Dick. The newcomer addressed the watchman. "Slow work, isn't it, Hawley?" he remarked. "I should say so I" was the reply. "It seems pretty har to have to stay here, when the crew of the 'Wales' is over New York having a good time." "That's right; it will be our turn, though, one of th days, Hawley." "I hope so I" "It will; I understand we are to have shore leave ia after to-morrow night." "Is that so I" The watchman's tone was eager. "Yes." "During what hours?" "From seven till twelve." "From seven till twelve, eh?" "Yes." "Good! But I'll wager that I won't be able to go." "Why not?" "Because, it will be just my luck to have to stay on board and keep watch to see that no one comes along and ste the ship I" There was a short, ironical laugh. "Oh, no; you won't have to stay. They will put a coupl of the 'Wales'' men on board to keep watch. We will a he able to go ashore." "Are you sure ?" "Yes." "That will be all right, then." "Of course. It wouldn't be fair to let all but two or thre have shore leave." "No, it wouldn't be fair at all." "Not a bit of it!" Dick was deeply interested in this conversation. The remark of the watchman, to the effect that he woul He climbed over the rail and :::eached the deck. have to remain and watch the ship, to see that no one cam Then he made his way silently and as rapidly as possible along and stole it, had given Dick an idea. in the direction of the cabin. Reaching it he paused. He heard the footsteps of the watchman. The man in returning to the stern of the vessel, would pass within a yard or two of where Dick stood. Dick did not fear discovery, however. The gloom next to the cabin was so deep, so intense, that the eyes of a human being could not penetrate it The magnitude of the scheme which sprang u;_to life i his brain was such iis to almost awe Dick himself. The thought that had so suddenly come to him was : Wh should not he and his "Liberty Boys" eapture this wa ship? He thought of what a stroke this would be. It would be the greatest stroke of their careers. The audacity of it almost made the youth himself gas


'rllli LlBER1'Y BOYS' GREA'l' STROKE. 17 l it could be put through to a successful termip.ation, "Aha! there you are!" exclaimed the \tatchman, prewha.t a feather it would be in the caps of the "Liberty aenting his musket; "who are you, and what are you doing Boys!" kere ?" And Dick believed it could be put through to a success"I am a king's soldier," replied Dick. ful issue. "A king's soldier, eh?" One thing Dick knew : If they could capture that ship, "Yes." they could handle it, for there were fifteen to twenty of the "Well, what are you doing here?" members of the company of "Liberty Boys" who were expert sailors. Their fathers were sailors, and the Y ouths had made voyages with them. "Nothing." Dick decided to be as noncommittal as possible. "Nothing, eh? Why are you here, then?" Dick had been thinking rapidly. An idea had struck him. Dick made up his mind then and there that the British warship should be captured if it was possible to accomplish it. "I guess I'll have to tell you," he said, in a semi-relucThe two redcoats were now about matters which tant tone of voice. possessed no particular interest for Dick, so he gave him self up wholly to the work of planning the manner in which they should go about capturing the warship. He had no fear of being discovered, so he gave himself up to his thoughts and paid. no attention to the two red coats. The redcoat who had come out of the cabin paused at the head of the companionway, and, drawing some tobacco from his pocket, proceeded to take a liberal ch.ew. The tobacco, as it happened, was of the loose sort used for smoking, and there was a goodly portion left in the man's hands after'he had taken all he cared to in his mouth. The redcoat gave a careless swing of his hand, and threw the loose tobacco away from him. As it happened, the wind was just right to catch the tobacco and blow it full into Dick's face. Some of it went up his nostrils, and almost befa.ire he knew it he had given vent to a vigorous "kerchew I" The sneeze, coming so unexpectedly, surprised and startled the redcoats as much as it alarmed and discon certed Dick. "Great Scott what was that!" exclaimed one redcoat. "There's some one there!" cried the other. "Where ? I don't see him." "No, but we both heard him." "So we did. Who are you, sir? Come out and show yourself Dick was in a quandary. He did not know what to do. So, for the present he maintained absolute silence. "Come out and show yourself!" cried the other redcoat. Still Dick made no reply. He was trying to decide upon a plan of procedure. Suddenly he made up his mind to try a bold plan. Leaving the deep gloom east by the cabin, he stepped out where the faint rays of the moon would strike him. "Of course you will; go ahead "Very well, I will do so. It was this way: You see, there are a number of fellows in my company who don't like me. They got mad at me becl!-use I wouldn't treat them the other day when we were over in the city They threatened then that they would get even with me, and so to-night, as I was sitting by the fire reading, they slipped up behind me, grabbed me, carried me down to the shore, and threw me into the bay. They threatened that if I tried to come ashore they would throw me in again. So I, knpw ing your ship was here, swam out to it and climbed aboard. I was sitting down here by the cabin resting and was just on the point of making myself known when your friend here threw some tobacco in my face, causing me to sneeze. It doesn't matter; it's all right now, though." Dick told this story in a calm, matter of fact manner, which was well calculated to deceive the redcoats. And it did deceive them. They did not doubt Dick's story for a moment. It sounded s9 reasonable that they could not help be lieving it. They knew that they would have been in for serving Dick as he said his comrades had served him, had they been mem bers of his company, so there was no reason why they should doubt his story. The redc:>ats laughed heartily. They seemed to think it was a good joke. "Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the watchman; "they se.rved you just right, I should say!" "And I say the same!" said the other; "the fellow who won't take his turn at standing treat ought be ducked!" Dick was u,Ttite niling that they Lhould look at the matter in this light. He could afford to stand poorly in their estimation. He had succeeded in deceiving them, so had all the best of it.


18 THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. Dick would undoubtedly have come out of this affair with flying colors and would probably have gone ashore in a borrowed boat, had it not been for an unexpected and un toward 'happening. "Ahoy, the ship!" 'rhe watchman ran to the stern of the vessel. "Ahoy, there! Who are you, and what do you want?" he cried. "We are soldiers from the encampment," came the reply, "and we are searching for a rebel spy who escaped from the encampment a few minutes ago. He leaped into the bay, and we thought perhaps he had swum out and got aroard this ship. Have you seen anything of him?" The cat was out of the bag. Dick knew he was in for it now. CHAPTER VIII. DICK HELPS HIMSELF TO A BOAT. '. The two :redcoats on the deck of the ship uttered ex clamations of surprise. They knew that this fellow who had claimed to be a British soldier must be the ":rebel" spy in question. They realized that he had fooled them completely. They had believed Dick's story implicitly. It made them angry to think how easily be bad pulled the wool over their eyes. The mere fact of bis having come on board the ship in such an unusual manner should have aroused their sus picions; but then, he had told such a good story they could And this he did. J!e d id not delay an instant. He knew the redcoats would be on the deck in a few mo men.ts, and he did not wish to be there when they arrived so as soon as he reached the bow, he climbed over the r and leaped down into the water. As he did so, he heard the sound of hurrying footsteps o the deck of the ship. The redcoats were coming as fast as they could. But they were too)ate. Dick was in the water and swimming rapidly away. Such was his hurry in leaving the ship that he had no taken time to get his so he did not know in wha direction he was going. The main thing was to get away from the ship as quickl aa possible. Re could decide upon his course later on. Cries and exclamations sounded from the deck of th ship Dick had just left. The redcoats were greatly disappointed by the escape o their expected prey. Presently Dick found himself beside ship. A thought struck him : Might he not get aboard this ship, lower a boat and ,.. ashore in it ? He decided to try it, at any rate. There was no rope ladder hanging from the stern of thi ship, but Dick knew there was a large cable extending fro the bow of the ship down to the water and on down to th anchor which held the ship in place. He would climb this cable and thus reach the deck of th ship. not blame themselves much for having believed it. "Have. we seen anything of him?" the watchHe started to swim around the ship from the stern to th man; "I should say we have! He is aboard the ship at bow. this moment!" When he had traversed about half the distance, his hand "Aha! Good!" came the voice 'from the boat. ''We'll struck against something. come aboard and get the rascal at once!" He felt of the object eagerly. "Will you?" said Dick to himself; "we'll see about that." He found that it was the very thing that he needea mos The youth leaped around the corner of the cabin at a -a boat. single bound, and ran swiftly toward the bow of the ship. Dick quickly climbed into the boat. "Stop! Hold on!" cried the redcoat who hacl thrown To his great joy he found that the oars were in the ro the tobacco in Dick's face. locks. But Dick d.lntly away. Not a bit of it. "I'm all right now," he said to him s elf. "This certain! He had plunged into the waters of the bay once already beats swimming. The redcoats will have hard work catc to-night to escape capture by the redcoats, and he would ing me now." do the same thing again. Dick was an expert with the oars, so he was enabled t


'l'HB LIBlH<.'l'i: BOY8 GREAT STROKE. orce the boat through the water swi!tly and with scarcely He did not doubt his ability to do so ultimately, how-ny noise at all. e v er. When he had s ucceeded in placing a couple of hundred l::!o. be walked onward rapidly and confidently. ards between himself and the ship, he paused and. took a It took him nea rly an hour and a half, and he walked a ook at bis surroundings as well as he could in the dar k mile or so farthel' than would have been necessary had he It was his intention, if he could get bis bearings, to row westward through that portion of the bay lying between taten Island and Paulus Hook, and then on around the est side of the island to about the point where he and Bob ad effected a landing that night. This done, he could make his way to the home of Mr. ardy and communicate with him and with Bob. Dick presently located the lights of New York City, and hen taking his bearings from this, he headed the boat in e direction which he was sure was the direction he wished o go. He passed a ship presently. It was the one he had been on, and which he intended to y to capture. All was quiet on the ship now. The redcoats >vho had been there a short time for him had taken their departure. Dick rowed steadily onward and succeeded in finding is way through between Stat.en Island and Paulus Hook. The campfires of the British along the Staten Island ore aided him in keeping his bearings, and he was so tunate as to not encounter any of the redcoats sent out search of him. Dick rowed steadily onward for perhaps two hours He was now well around toward the west side of Staten land. When he thought he was far enough down, he rowed in d approached the shore. He did not know but that he might be challenged by a itish picket, as had been the case when he and Bob firs t ed to land on the island that same night. uch to his relief, however, he was not challenged, and effected a landing in safety. He landed at a point where ittle creek flowed into the waters of the bay a nd Dick led the boat up this little creek a distan c e of perhaps yards and fa s t e ned it in such a manner that it would float away. 'So far, so good he s aid to himself; I really have no plaint to m a k e r eg arding t h e way things have g one toht." ick struck into th e timber and w e n t in an a lmost du e known the exact roui.e, but he finally reached the cabin. It was now about two o clock in the morning. Dick wished to learn if Mi. Hardy had returned to his hom e He rapp e d loudly upon the door. "Who is there!" came fila startled voice from within the cabin It was the voice of a that of Mrs. Hardy. "It is me, Dick Slater," cried the youth. Then to himself he said : "I guess Mr. Hardy has not returned." Di c k heard Mrs. Hardy give utterance to an exclamation. "I will open the door in a few moments," she said. "There is no hurry," replied Dick_ A few minutes later the door opened and Mrs. Hardy stood there with a candle in her hand. "Has your husband returned yet, Mrs. Hardy?" asked Dick. "No," the woman replied; "and you-why, you're all wet What has happened?" "Nothing serious, Mrs. Hardy; I accidentally got treat.ea t o a du c king, t h a t 's all. So Mr. Hardy has not returned?" "No; but I supposed you.were with him." "No, I left your hu s bnnd a nd my friend together and entered the British enca mpmen t alone. I was detected and had to take to the water to escape. I secured a boat,' rowed around to the \\'.est shore of the island and then came here. l will go on at once. I have no doubt I shall find your husband and my friend waiting for me, whe r e t hey were w h e n I l e f t the m." "I hop e s o," s aid Mr s Hardy fervently. Di c k t alk ed with Mrs. Hardy a few moments longer and the n bi d d i n g her good night took his d e parture CH A:?TER IX. BOB RETURNS TO MIDDLEBROOK. erly direction. Di c k walk e d as rapidly a s possible. ick realized he w o uld h a 1 'e somr difficult y in find-, .H e was eager to reach the point where he had left his the Hardy cabin. friend s


IO 'rHE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. < He was sure, however, that he would find them there waiting for him. Being familiar with the way, now, he did not have any diaicu.lty in going right. An hour's walk br?ught him to his destination. To his great joy he found Bob and Mr. Hardy at the point where he had left them. To say that they were delighted to see Dick is stating it 'ferJ mildly. They were very well pleased indeed. "Great guns, Dick!" said Bob; "you don't know how pd I am to see you I thought sure that you had Deen ,obbled up by the redcoat.a, and we have been sitting here, VJini to figure out what to do ever since we heard the k..U.baloo down in the encampment hours ago "We were sure you had been captured!" said Mr. Hardy. "They did come very near getting me," replied Dick. "How did you escape?" asked Bob. "I jumped into the bay and swam out and got aboard one of the British warships." "Phew I that was risky!" "And wasn't your presence on board the ship discov end asked Mr. Hardy. "Yes; a boatload of the redcoats came out to the ship in le&Uh of me. I had succeeded in fooling the two men on on the warship with a story of how I happened to be in the water, but the arrival of the boatload of redcoats 1Mrehing for me spoiled it all, and I had to take to the water again." "Phew!" whistled Bob. "You had a lively time of it, didn't you !" Bob' s curiosity was excited at on.ce. "Have you, Dick?" he exclaimed; "what is it?" "I'll tell you later, Bob. As there is nothing furt that we can do here to-night, we might as well return Mr. Hardy's." The three set out at once. As soon as they had got fairly started, Bob asked D what the big scheme was that he had spoken. of. "It's an hour s walk to Mr. Hardy's, Dick," he said; you might as well tell us as we go along." "Very well," replied Dick. Then he told his companions of his plan for cap the British warship. Bob uttered exclamations of surprise when they lear what Dick's scheme was. "Say, wouldn't that be a great stroke, though, if we put it through successfully!" exclaimed Bob; "Dick, it' great idea, sure enough!" "It certainly is I" said Mr. Hardy. "If you can capt the warship, and hold it, it might prove to be of great va to the patp.ot cause before the war is ended." "That is what I thought," said Dick.' "General W ington might need a ship the worst in the world, and t if we had this one where we could reach it handily, would know right where to find it." "It is a great scheme JI' declared Bob. "I believe we make a success of it, too!" "I think so," said Dick. "It will be easier to capture the ship than to get sa away with it after you have captured it," said Mr. Har "True," agreed Dick; "but some of the members of "Fairly so, Bob." company of 'Liberty Boys' are expert sailors, and I am "And how did you escape?" asked Mr. Hardy; "did you fident we can get safely away with the ship." llrim ashore again?" "No; I swam to another ship and found a boat tied alongside. I helped myself to the boat and it was an easy matter to escape after that." "We'll try it, anywa y old man!" said Bob. He felt confident that they would succeed Bob had grfta.t confidence in Dick. He was sure that Dick would not even think of atte "I see," said Bob; "but how happens it you came from ing anything which it would be impossible of accompl the southward?" ment; and if it was not an impossible undertaking, "I knew it would not be safe to try to land on the north was sure the "Liberty Boys" could accomplish it. end of the island, Bob; so I rowed away around to the west "I think I know what you wish me to do, Dick," side, and, leaving the boat there, walked to Mr. Hardy's Bob, after some further conversation. home, found that he had not returned, and then came right on up here." "So that's the way you did it, eh? Well, what are we to do now? Did you learn anything of importance ?-or was your identity discovered before you had time to learn anything?" "What, Bob?" "You wish me to go back to the patriot encampmen Middlebrook and get some of the boys and bring t back here." "That is exactly what I wish you to do, Bob. I wish to take a letter to the commander-in-chief, too. You "I picked up a few items of information, Bob; and I not need to start before morning, however." h&Ye a big scheme on. hand, old man!" "It's morning now, Dick," with a chuckle.


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. 21 "I mean before daylight." "You dont want me to bring the entire company of 'Liberty Boys,' Dick r" asked Bob. "No; I wish you to select only such as are good sailors. I do not anticipate that we will have to do much in the way of :fighting; in fact, we must not do anything in that. line, as the least noise when we are making the capture of the ship woul you permission to do so, and then go and get the boys and come back here with them. You will have no trouble in getting back before nightfall-though there is no hurry, of course, as we will not make the attempt to the ship until to-morrow night." Then a thought struck Dick, and he went on: "Perhaps you had better remain there till to-morrow morning and then start, for if a crowd of fifteen to twenty were to come in here this evening, Mr. Hardy would be eaten out of house and home!" and dining room, and a few minutes later breakfast was announced. "Not a bit of it!" Mr. Hardy exclaimed; "we have plenty here, and they will be welcome. Let them come this The youths greeted Mrs. Hardy and Mabel pleasantly, evening. If they should wait till to-morrow and come in and then all sat down to breakfast. Dick and Bob were hungry, and ate heartily, much to Mrs. Hardy's satisfaction. Both Mrs. Hardy and her daughter seemed to think that Dick was the greatest person who ever lived. What he did for them the night before when he had thrashed the three redcoats had aroused their admiration, and hlr. Hardy ha a told them the story of Dick's adventhe daytime, they might be seen by some of the redcoats, and that might spoil all." "That is tnrn, too,'' admitted Dick; "well, come this evening, Bob, but time yourselves so as to get here an hour or two after dark. Then will be no danger of your being seen." 1 "All right, Dick," said Bob, cheerily. Then, bidding all good-by, be went out of doors, tures in the British encampment; so this added to their his horse, and rode away. admiration for him. They thought him the bravest, handsomest, and noblest youth they had ever seen. Especially was this the case with Mabel, who was a really beautiful and sweet girl. When breakfast was over, Dick asked if there was any ink in the house. "We have ink, quills, and paper," said Mrs. Hardy. She produced the articles in question. CHAPTERX. THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF GIVES HIS CONSENT. It was noon when Bob arrived at Middlebrook. I 1 He knew the commander-in-chief would be at dinner, so "Thank you!" said Dick. and then he sat down and he ate his dinner before reporting to General Washington. wrote a letter to General Washington. While eating, he told the "Liberty Boys" the story of He told the commander-in-chief what he had learned Dick's experiences in the British encampment, and on the so far, and then asked permission to try to capture the warship, and then he told them of the scheme which Dick :Brifoh warship. had formed to capture the warship.


22 THE LIBER';l'Y. BOYS' GREAT STROKE .. The youths became greatly excited at once. They uttered exclamations of surprise and wonderment. "Great guns! what will Dick be trying next!" exclaimed Sam Sunderland; ''he' s the greatest fellow I ever knew." "He's all right!" said Mark Morrison; "and I'll wager that he niakes a success of the attempt, !" "So will I!" declared another of the (c Liberty Boys;" "he has never yet failed in anything that he has at tempted." "No, he hasn't, and fact;" said still another. "Jove! I will succeed!" said 'Sam Sunderland; "it will be a great stroke if he does, won't it?" "It certainly will!" agreed Mark Morrison. "Are we' all to go back with you, Bob?" asked another. "No; only such of you as know how to do the work that has to be done by a sailor. There will be no fightmg, and Dick wishes only such of you as are good sailors." "That takes in me!" cried Sam Sunderland; "my father is a sailor, and I have maUe two voyages with him. I can do as much work as any old salt you ever saw!" "It's the same with me," said Mark Morrison. Fifteen more of the youths said the same. Those who knew nothing about ships, or the work to be done in sailing them, looked down their noses. "We landlubbers are not in luck this time," one said, disconsolately; "however," he added, brightening up a bit, He watched General Washington's face, hoping to re thereon approval of Dick'& plan. The impassive face of the commander-in-chief gave t youth no clew to its owner's thoughts, howe ver. Bob could not make a guess as to whether o r not the gr man was favorably impressed by Dick's proposition wi regard to trying to capture the British warship. He would have to remain in doubt until the commande in-chief was ready to speak. He did not have to !ait long. General Washington finished reading the letter, folde it up and laid it on a table &t his side, and then turned t Bob. "Well," he said, "this is rather an ambitious undertakin of yours and Dick's, is it not?" "I don't know," replied Bob; "I think it is quite feas ible, don't you?" The commander-in-chief was silent for a few moments "Well, I guess it is," he replied, presently; "it is a least possible of accomplishment-especially by Dick Slate and the 'Liberty Boys.' Bob s spirits roi;e. He felt sure that the commander-in-chief was going give his consent that the "Liberty Boys" should make th attempt to capture the warship. Bob judged so by his looks. "we have plenty of company. 'fhere are a much greater Then, too, his words indicated that he did not look upon number of us who know nothing about sailing a ship than the matter with disfavor. there are who do know something about it." "That's right," said another; "and it's lucky, too, for misery likes company." "It is not absolutely certain that any oi us will go as yet," said Bob. Bob knew that the commander-in-chief had great con fidence in Dick. So he felt sure that he would not refnse the youth's re quest that they be allowed to try to capture the ship. And it turned out that he was right. "Why not, Bob?" asked Mark Morrison. General Washington asked a number of questions. "Well, you see, it is this way, Mark: We have to have He seemed to be considering the matter from all standthe permission of the commander-in-chief before entering points. upon the affair." After he had got through questioning Bob, he was silent "Oh, I understand. yet?" Hasn't he given his permission for a few moments. "I haven t seen him I thought I would wait till after he had had his dinner." "I see; that is a good plan. But I think he will give his consent don't you?" hope so!" Bob waited half an hour or so longer, and then made ?is way to headquarters. He was greeted pleasantly by General Washington. Bob delivered the letter Dick had given him, and then waited eagerly and anxiously until the commander-in

THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. 23 "I think so myself, Bob. How many l!len will you take they did not attract the attention of the British pickets 'th you?" "Not many,'your excellency. Dick said bring only such the 'Liberty Boys' as know something about sailing a 'p. There are about seventeen, I think." "When will you start?" ''Right away, your excellency." "And you will make the attempt to capture tpe ship to orrow night?" "Yes, sir; such is Dick's intention. The crew of the p have shore leave that night, and there will be only a uple of men left on board as watchmen." "Well, tell Dick that I have every confidence in him, but at I said for him. to be very careful to not fall into the nds of the British." "Very well, your excellency, I will tell him." After some further conversation Bob bade the com der-in-chief good-by and took his departure. He returned at once to the 'luarters occupied by the berty Boys." They were eager to learn w!iether or not the commander -chief was willing that the attempt should be made to pture the British warship. When Bob told them that General Washington had given consent, they gave utterance to a cheer. "Hurrah for General Washington!" cried Maxk Moron. "Three cheers for the commander-in-chief!" cried Sam derland. The youths were delighted. who were well up toward the north end of the island. Three-quarters o:f an hour later they arrived at Mr. Hardy's cabin. Dick was glad to see the youths. He greeted them-pleasantly. As soon as their horses had been led into the edge o:f lhe forest to a point where they would not be apt to be dis covered by a prowling band of' redcoats, the youths entered the cabin. They were greeted pleasantly by Mr. and Mrs. Hardy and Mabel. Dick talked with his comrades for perhaps an. hour. Then he announced his intention o:f going on a scouting expedition up in the vicinity of the redcoat encampment. The youths all wished to accompany him. At first Dick thought he would go alone, but on second thought he decided to let the youths accompany him. It could do no harm, he was sure. He did not know whether he would try to enter the camp or not. He might do so i:f a good opportunity offered. Then again he might not. He had no definite plan in his mind. There was nothing that they could do at Mr. Hardy's. He figured that they might as well spend a couple of hours watching the redcoata as to sit in the cabin doing nothing. So they set out. They reached the vicinity of the redcoat encampment an Even those who were not to go on the expedition were hour later. ased to know that the attempt was to be made to capture They remained there an hour or so, during which time warship. Dick made his way down the same ravine he had traversed hose who were to go began making preparations at once. the night before and listened to the conversation of the t did not take them long. sentries. en they were ready, they went out and saddled and He picked up a :few more points of interest, but thought dled their horses, and, mounting, bade their comrades it best to not risk entering the encampment. d-by and rode away. There was too much at stake. t was now about two o'clock. hey had all the rest of the afternoon to get to their tlnation. hey reached the strip of water separating New Jersey m Staten Island at about half-past five o'clock. hey swam their horses across and landed on the isiand. hey would not have been surprised had they been chal-ed by redcoats. ut nothing of the kind occurred. hey had crossed at a point far enough south so that He had a big undertaking on hand for to-morrow night, and if he were to be captured it would spoil all. So presently he turned his back toward the encampment and made his wily back to where he had met his comrades. They did not linger there much longer. They started on their return to Mr. Hardy's cabin. The youths were given the largest room downstairs, and threw themselves down on blankets spread on the ftoor and slept Roundly till morning. Next momfog they made another trip up to the vicinity of the British encampment. From the top of the hill they had a !Oocl view.


24 THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. The encampment lay almost at their feet with the wateii of the bay just beyond. At anchor in the bay, and as close to the Staten Is!and shore as they could approach, were the vessels comprising Admiral Howe's fleet of warships. Dick knew by the location which one of the vessels was the one they were to try to capture, and he sized it up l!are f ully and got its location well fixed in his mind. The coming night might be dark and it might be difficult io find the right vessel. Dick's companions eyed the vessel with interest. They wondered if they would be successful in C!ipturing it. Dick brought a quill and some ink, and in a small notebook which he had in his pocket he drew the outline of Staten Island, and indicated by little dote the positions of the vessels comprising the fleet. This was an important matter. If they succeeded in capturing the ship they would need to know the location of all the other ships so as to be able to avoid them when taking the ship out of the harbor. This was going to be a difficult matter at best. But the youths who were best versed in the sailors art assured Dick that they could take the ship out of the bay without runn i ng a:foul of any of the other vessels. Dick hoped that they would be able to do so. When they had taken all the observations they deemed li(jCessary the youths made their way back to Mr. Hardy's cab i n 'l' hey reached there in time for dinner A l ong toward the middle of the afternoon the sky began clouding up. I fear it is going to be a stormy night," said Dick. Which will that be, in our favor or against us?" asked B ob. l hardly kno'."," replied Dick "It will make it easier for us to capture the ship with out being in danger of being discovered by the crews of other ships, but it will make it harder for us to handle the ship that is to say, to sail it out of the harbor." "Yes," said Mark Mon-ison; "but with a storm there is always more wind and it will enable us to move the heaTY warship in the still waters of the bay better than we otherwise could. You can't do anything with a like that in a calm you know." True enough," acknowledged Dick. The clouds kept gathering, and, by six o'clock in the evening the wind was blowing quite strongly, and sounds of distant thund e r could be heard. Immediately after supper the youths set out. It was an hour's walk to where Dick had left the boi the night before. Mr. Hardy accompanied them, as he had a small hidden not far from the place where Dick had left the boat, and he told Dick he could use the boat if he wie to. Dick did wish to use the boat, as it was his intention go ahead the small boat and board the warship and m sure that everything was all right, before having the" erty Boys" board the ship. They found the large boat where Dick had left it, all got into it, save Dick He accompanied Mr Hardy to where the small boat concealed, then having bidden Mr. Hardy good-by, ff got into the boat and rowed to where his comrades were. Then they started. Dick took the lead. "It is going to be a long, hard pull, fellows,'' he "but I guess we can accomplish it." "Oh, yes, we can make it all right," said Bob. thing, the wind ia in our favor." It was not growing dark rapidly. The clouds added to the darkness, the whole sky be overcast. Not a star was to be seen. One thing Dick was glad of, however, and t hat wast he no longer heard the muttering of thunder, nor could see :flashes of lightning in any direction. It would have been difficult to accomplish the pu had a thunderstorm materialized. They could no t have approached the warship undet as the lightning fl.ashes would have disclosed their p The w atchmen would undoubtedly have seen them. As it was he felt perfectly safe. In the thick darkness it would be impossible to see t A slight drizzling rain set in, but the youths did mind that. They were tough and hardy. A little rain would not hurt them It soon became so dark that Dick could not see hie rades in the boat behind him, nor could they see hi In order to make sure that he would not lose them, took the p ainter of t heir boat and tied it to the rudde his boat. This w ould make it impossible for the boats to company Their progress through the water was not as rapid otherwi s e might have been but they made very fair It was a two hours' row.


THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. 26. And at the end of that time Dick brought his boat to a p, the youths in the big boat doing likewise. Dick could tell by the campfires of the British over on Staten Island shore that they were not far from the rship for which they were seeking. "You boys stay here,'' he said; in a low, cautious tone; d I will go aboard the ship alone. If everything is all ht I will signal you from the stern, and then you can me aboard the vessel. "How will you signal us, Dick?" asked Bob. "With a lantern." "With a lantern?" "Yes; there are some lighted on board, and I will wave e from the stern of the vessel if everything is all right." "Well, be careful Dick; don't let them catch you and He was afraid to leave the lantern lighted for fear the watchmen on some of the other ships would see it, or see the youths by its light and suspect that something wrong was going on. Dick was confident t hat they could do their work in the darkness. "Hold steady, boys!" he said in a low tone. "I'm going to drop down a rope ladder. Make the boat's painter fast to it and then come aboard." "All right, Dick,'' came up in Bob' s voice. A moment later something struck lightly in the boat. It was the end of the rope ladder. Mark Morrison being near the bow of the boat tied the painter to the ladder, tying it up short. Then seizing the ladder, he mounted it quickly and ake a prisoner of you." noiselessly, and a few moments later was on the deck be" I'll be careful Bob. Wait here until you see the sigside Dick. al." One after another the youths followed, and soon all were Then Dick rowed silently away in the darkne ss. on deck. The youths sat there in the boat silent and motionless) "There is only one watchman," said Dick, in a low tone, r perhaps twenty minutes. "and he is at the bow." It may have been slightly longer, it certainly seemed "I thought there would be two," said Bob. ore like an hour to them. "There was one here at the stern when I came aboard," And then suddenly, some distance ahead of them, th$ly eaid Dick; "but I took him by surprise, choked him into w a lantern swinging to and fro. insensibility, bound and gagged him. Now we must do "There is the signal boys!" said Bob in a low, intense the same with the qne at the bow." ne ; "now to c aptur e t he British man-of-war!" "That ought to be an easy task for so many of us," said CHAPTER XI. THE "LIBERTY BOYS'" GREAT STROKE. Then he gave the order to row toward the light. The youths obeyed. The youths rowed noiselessly. They knew that absolute silence was a necessary requisite. The least noise would attract the attention of the watchen on the ship. And then iJ would be a difficult matter for them to board e ship without an alarm being given. Bob was at the rudder. He guided the boat straight toward the point where the mtern could still be seen. lDick had quit waving the lantern, and held it stationary as to guide the youthii. Presently they were close under the stern of the warp. soon as Dick saw the youths by the faint light thrown wn by the lantern he extinguished th e light, leaving all total darkness. Bob. "I don t think it will be difficult," said Dick. "We will have to be very careful, however, and capture him in such a ma:aner that he will not be able to give an alarm." "True, that is very important." "I think we can accomplish it," said Dick. "I will lead the way; the rest of you boys follow me. I will slip up close to the watchman and leap upon him. If I get my fingers on his throat he will not cry out. As soon as I have seized him, you boys may come to my assistance, so that we may overpower him quickly and easily, as the sounds of anything like a struggle might be heard on board one of the other ships." u All right, Dick,'' said Bob; "you go ahead and we will follow close behind you. We will be on hand to help you the instant you have seized the fellow." Dick stole away, along the deck of the warship. He made his way slowly and carefully. It was important that he should be careful. Discovery and an alarm would spoil all. And now that success was almost within their reach, Dick did not wish to fail. Dick was a remarkably shrewd and careful youth.


26 THE LIBERTY BOYS' GREAT STROKE. He knew that when success was almost within a person's grasp that then was the time to exercise the greatest care, I as the slightest slip then would ruin all, and Dick did not intend to make a slip. The other youths kept close behind Dick. At last they were at the bow of the ship and close to the point where the watchman was pacing slowly to and fro across the deck. 'l'be watchman was visible in the faint light thrown by a lantern hanging at the bow of the ship. The light was very faint, however. They could just make out the watchman's form, and that was all. The light was not strong enough so that watchmen on of the wheel, and you may have entire command. 'Tell boys what sails you want set and they will go to work." Mark told the youths what sails he wished set, and th all went on deck. The youths who were to handle the sails made their w up into the rigging. It was so dark they could not see their hands before th faces. But they did not need to see to do the work. The sense of feeling was sufficient for the purpose. Mark took his place at the w'heel. Dick and a number of the youths found the capst bars and went to work getting the anchor up. They accomplished this by the time the boys in. the r the other warships could see what might take place on the ging had loosened the sails, so that as soon as the sails w deck. set and the wind filled them, the ship would begin to mo In act, the light was just sufficient to be of benefit to It took the youths in the rigging perhaps twenty minu the "Liberty Boys" and yet not be a detriment or make to set the sails. their work more dangerous. Then the ship began to move through the water. It could not have been better for their purpose. Mark, at the wheel, soon proved that he understood The watchman was evidently utterly unsuspicious. He was pacing to and fro, his eyes upon the deck. Doubtless he was thinking of the good time the crew was business. He managed the wheel with consummate skill. He brought the ship around into the wind in a ma having over in the city, and wishing that he might be with that woulu have done credit to an old salt of many ye them. experience. Dick slipped up to within a couple of yards of the fel-As the ship came into the wind, the sails filled to th low, and then as the watchman passed the youth leaped forutmost capacity. ward and seized him by the throat. The ship began to move faster. The astonished and startled watchman gave a gasp and Dick had extinguished the light in the lantern han a gurgle and tried to cry out, but could not at the bow. Dick's fingers encompassed the fellow's throat fo a steelHe knew that a moving light would attract the atten like grip and the watchman could make no outcry. of some of the watchmen on the other ships, and aro Bob and the other "Liberty Boys" leaped to Dick's as sistance. They seized the watchman and overpowered him in a twinkling. Knowing that the ship was practically deserted, the youths carried the watchman into the cabin. Then they tied him hand and foot and gagged him. their suspicion. Mark guided the ship unerringly. He seemed to possess the cat-like faculty of seeing the dark. He had taken a critical survey of ...the warships t morning from the top of the hill on the north end Staten Island. "There!" said Dick, when this had been accomplished, In his mind's eye he could see the position of every "we are the masters of this ship. Now to get away from of them. here with it I" "That is going to be a rather difficult job," said Bob. "But we can do it all right," declared Mark Morrison, who was admittedly the best sailor of all the youths. "I know this old harbor like a book, and will guarantee you that I can take the ship around these other ships and out 'l'hen, too, each and every one of the warships, ot than the one the "Liberty Boys" were on, showed redli at both bow and stern, thus marking their position. This made it an easy matter for Marl;: to keep clea them. But there was one thing he had not counted on, and through the Narrows without hitting anything, and withcould not have guarded against it had he done so. out running aground." And suddenly the thing which we have reference "All right, Mark," said Dick; "I will put you in charge happened:


'r.IfC: LIBER'l'Y BOY>::i' GREAT STROKE. 21 A boatload of iedcoats from one oi the ships, returning om New York City, happened to be right in the path of he ship as it came along, and the ship's bow struck the o at at about the centre, crushing in the side as if it wa:; n eggshell. The boat sank instantly, leaving its late occupants floun ering in the water. Yells, curses, and cries for help went up from the fright ed redcoats. "Great guns!" exclaimed Bob, who with Dick stood near ark at the wheel. "We have run into a boa,t !1' "Yes," replied Dick; "and I fear a general alarm will be e result." "Give us ten minutes longer,'' said ::\Iark, .. and they can ise all the alarm they want to. They will be unable to tch us. Once we are past the warships and headed out ward the Narrows, with the ships behind us, and I will fy any of them to catch us or stop us, for that matter Jl' "They might open fire upon us with their cannon!" d Bob. 'l'he men on the decks of the warships could be seen also. 'l'hey were hurrying hither and thither. They were getting the guns ready It was evident that they were going to open fire. The redcoats had evidently leaped to an understanding of situation instantly. 'l'he manner in which the warship was slipping past them and heading out toward the ocean was proof positive to them that those on board the warship were their enemies. They did not stop to ask themselves how it had happened that the bated "rebels" gotten possession of the vessel. There was no time for this. The fact was before them, and they must deal with it. They could learn the whys and whereforea.later on. Wark, and quick work, too, would be needed if they were to foil the daring attempt to steal the warship. They did not doubt but that it would be necessary to destroy the warship to prevent the "rebels" from escap ing with their booty. But they would not hesitate to do this. "Let them!" said :Uark. "They could not see us and The loss of the ship through its being sunk in the harul

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