For All Nails #89: The Yanks are Revolting
By David Mix Barrington
- "The Second Day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solumnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
Jean-Baptiste Deschamps was a true Quebecois, in spite of appearances. As a child in Hayti, he had always dreamed of a place where hard work and honesty would be rewarded. As a teenaged farm laborer in Quebec he had found that place -- he worked hard, saved all he could, went to weekly Mass, and thought of the future. That future came to pass when his parish priest recommended him for a loan from the local caisse populaire, enough to open a vulcazine dispensary here on the road from Ville de Quebec to Maine. That had been four years ago -- now the dispensary had been joined by a store where passing loke drivers could stock up on beer, food, or snacks on their way to hunt in the Maine woods, shop in Empire Falls, or swim on Maine's beaches. He, the former laborer, was even an employer himself now, stocking the shelves in the store between customers while the young Lafleur boy pumped the vulc outside.
He also sold newspapers. The waggon from Ville de Quebec had dropped off today's La Presse FN3 with its headline about a suspected atomic explosion in Asia. Trouble there now, to go with the trouble in the islands and in Europe. Jean-Baptiste wanted to stay out of trouble -- that was one factor that had brought him to this rural location.
But was trouble coming to him? These three English, piling out of the sleazy Mexican loke outside. Nats FN4 or Yanks? Long hair, but no ponytails, and a Stars and Snake on the screen of the loke. Yanks. They were usually concerned only with driving their illegal potato liquor around -- foul stuff, Jean-Baptiste thought, only fit for the English.
He didn't want any trouble. Five pounds a week to the Anges De L'Enfer FN5 was supposed to keep him out of trouble. Did these boys know about that? Better not take chances, he thought, starting toward the cashbox under which he kept his gun. The head Yank strode straight toward him.
"Well, lookie heah -- we got ahselves a Froggie Negro!"
Jean-Baptiste wasn't sure what all of that meant -- he could transact basic business in English but this man's Maine accent was hard to penetrate. He certainly looked like he meant trouble, though. No point in fooling around, he thought, just get to the gun --
But another Yank had gotten around him, and he had a knife! Quickly the two thugs had him pinned, and he felt the blade of the knife against his throat. The leader left him to his companion and went to the cashbox.
"Well, Monsewer Froggie, let's see what we got heah. Open up!"
Could Guy run for help? No, he saw through the window that the other two Yanks had grabbed the boy as well. No way to fight now, he couldn't risk Guy's life even if the store were worth his own.
The leader quickly found the Seth Thomas rapid-action pistol and smoothly checked its status. With the gun on him instead of the knife, Jean-Baptiste unlocked the register and the second Yank began scooping the money into a bag.
"This is a wicked nice piece, Mr. Froggie Negro! A good freedom-loving Mexican piece! Now you just lie down on the floah theah, and you might not get hurt. Be it known that I am heahby requisitioning this weapon, and these heah funds, and these heah supplies, in the name of the Great Jehover and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!" FN6
Adam LaDuke was disappointed but not surprised that the Froggie seemed not to recognize the words of Ethan Allen. FN7 Froggies didn't learn their history, even though Allen had fought by the side of perhaps the greatest man who had ever lived. The man who had taken Ticonderoga and its precious cannon along with Allen, who had led an army on this very road that had nearly liberated all the Froggies at Quebec, who had built and commanded the navy that stopped Burgoyne's first invasion, and who if not for the pusillanimous Horatio Gates would have beaten Burgoyne again at Saratoga and driven the British out of North America entirely. Even the Tory history books had to acknowledge that Benedict Arnold FN8 was the leading general of the Revolution, and Adam knew the whole story from the novels of Robert Kenney FN9 -- how Arnold had been checked at every turn by political generals and British treachery.
The General reminded him a bit of Arnold, he thought. Like Arnold at Ticonderoga, he had appeared out of nowhere with the military skills to make a rabble function as an army. Revolution took skill and training, the skill and training the General had given them and that had allowed his men to win this little skirmish. How many times had Frankie practiced grabbing and pinning a man from behind? Enough. Now the only problem was to get back to the camp, but that was no problem at all. Even the General had nothing to teach them about driving a loke in this country, on MacAdam roads, dirt logging roads, or no roads at all. Inside half an hour they'd be in either Maine or Nova Scotia across one of the many completely unmanned border crossings. As for any Millies, FN10 the town's SQ post had three lokes, all of which were parked right at home, two miles in the wrong direction to catch them. The nearest Nova Scotia Lobsterbacks were in Millinocket, hours away even if they knew where to go. That left the Maine Militia or possibly Territorials. But once they'd locked these two in the loo and cut their 'phone wires, they'd have plenty of head start to get completely out of their reach in the deep woods. He would trust Jemmy and his Conk FN11 against any miserable Millie driver. The General had figured it all out.
Wicked good luck they'd picked up the Froggie's pistol, anyway. Adam was glad the poor Negro had used his head and cooperated. You had to feel some for a guy who was just trying to exercise his three-eleven rights FN12 -- it was only fair. But peace was peace, and war was war, and now the Froggie's piece was their piece. Wicked, he thought.
Chief Deputy Superintendent Roger Gaffney, of the Confederation Bureau of Investigation, was a man more than ready for his weekend. If he could get out the door right now, he should be able to make the 6:45 ferry home to Peaks Island. He'd be able to eat supper with Barbara and the kids for once. But now the Forster girl wanted something --
"Chief, you got a second?"
"Not really, what is it?"
"It's these robberies up north -- there's a definite pattern to them."
"Yeah, like they all stole stuff?"
"There were ten robberies on Tuesday by small gangs of Yanks -- three in Maine, two in Nova Scotia, and five in Quebec."
She waved the reports at him, half of them in French. Of course Detective-Serjeant Miss Clarissa Forster read French, Gaffney thought, and no doubt Spanish and Chinese as well. She'd learned all that at Yale College, he supposed, or at her fancy prep school before that. They'd never cared about teaching Gaffney a damn thing at his miserable state school back in Maryland. Everything he knew had come from the streets of Baltimore, where he'd joined the city militia (before this silly girl had been born) and risen through the ranks until he applied for this job and risen through some more ranks. But now he was the CBI division head for organized crime in the Province of Maine. And Miss Forster had better not forget it.
"So what is this pattern, Detective-Serjeant?"
"It's much more of an organized thing than we've ever seen from the Yank liquor rings, Chief. All the robberies were within an hour of each other. And don't forget it was the Second of July."
"Is that some sort of special date?" More college-girl stuff, he thought.
"Exactly, Chief, it's the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in the Rebellion, it's always been a special day for the Yanks. I'm wondering if they're suddenly getting more political -- they seem to have been happy just to push their wares for the last few years. But if this is the start of some kind of insurrection, they've got a lot of resources. Lokes, hunting weapons, popular support--"
"Didn't we used to have somebody in place up there?"
"Yes, sir, in '71 Inspector-Captain Marlon Curtis infiltrated the liquor rings up in Hazard County, FN14 trying to find out how they tied in to the Order FN15. Funny thing, though, I can't find his file here, there's a note saying he got switched to report to Burgoyne, but I 'phoned the head office and they said we should have it. Did you know this Curtis?"
"No, but you know a lot of papers got mixed up in the transition." An understatement, Gaffney thought. After all, they'd managed to lose track of Director Timothy Liddy himself, so how much else had they lost? There was some explanation for that, Gaffney knew, but it had always been a rung or two above him on the ladder. And he hadn't gotten where he was by sticking his nose where it wasn't wanted.
"So might I go up there and take a look around?"
He thought a moment. There could be advantages to having Forster out of his hair for a while. He kind of liked having a cute girl to look at, but Barbara had never been happy about it.
"All right, draft yourself a letter of mission and I'll look at it Monday morning. Write up letters of introduction to the SQ and NSPP too, no sense stepping on any toes. Probably nothing in this, but no harm in checking it out."
"Thanks, Chief." The shoulder-length dirty-blond hair kind of flipped up as she turned around. Cute girl, Gaffney thought. Nice rump, too. But maybe he could still make the ferry...
Forward to FAN #90: The Wrath of Kahn.
Forward to 3 July 1974: Springtime for Ferdi and Elbittar.
Forward to Clarissa Forster: Do You Know the Way to Millinocket?
Return to For All Nails.