~ Daniel, or Cricket, as he prefers, walks along with a squad of other British soldiers on the road from Boston Harbor to Philadelphia. He's carrying orders from general Gage to Corporal Harper, as well as letters to be posted, letters to friends, and a few letters for American households. Missus Cunningham had so wanted to get word to her daughter! Cricket had agreed, as the older woman had allowed him to board in her home with little arguing.
Just as he's thinking of the woman he's come to see as a sort of mother, musket-fire erupts from the side of the road! As the message-runner carries only a pistol -- unloaded -- he bolts for the low wall on the other side of the road, dropping down behind it, breathing shallowly. He's trembling in fright as the fighting goes on for what feels like hours. It's barely twenty minutes before the American rebels drop back and scamper off, leaving the British soldiers badly shaken, and a handful dead.
When he can, Cricket crawls from hiding, and after getting a nod from the Captain, takes off at a run for Philadelphia, closer than Boston now. He's strong, able to run the distance without becoming too weary or winded. Just as he's hitting his six-mile mark, another round of gunfire rings out.
He tumbles down the embankment of a ditch as a musket ball tears into his thigh, followed by at least three more shots that land in his back. He lands half-in the water, biting his cheek to keep from screaming, soft brown eyes wide with the pain that runs through him. He whimpers softly, knowing he can't get up yet. The adrenaline wears off, leaving him trembling and weary. His eyes close.
Hours later, footsteps wake him, as does a dog sniffing at him. The dog barks, alerting its human master than the muddy body is still alive! Cricket opens his eyes and rolls slowly onto his back... only to find himself staring slightly cross-eyed at the barrel of a musket in the hands of an angry-eyed rebel, barely older that Cricket himself!
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