Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
In the secluded back country of South Carolina, two men in the service of the revolutionary colonial forces were traveling together. They were Major Arthur Butler and his shrewd sergeant, a man known throughout the region as Horse-shoe Robinson, because of his former occupation as a blacksmith. Although they passed as chance travelers, they were on a secret mission to trace the movements of the enemy and to enlist aid for the cause of colonial independence.
Before setting out on their dangerous journey, Arthur Butler was moved to stop near Dove-Cote, the residence of Mr. Lindsay, a Loyalist gentleman who had come to the territory to live because he wished to avoid the conflict between the colonists and the British government. He was loyal to the crown because of financial interests in England, but his son Henry was sympathetic to the American cause. Mildred, Lindsay’s daughter, was in love with Arthur Butler, but because of the Major’s connections with the Colonial Army, Mr. Lindsay had forbidden her to see Butler. For this reason, they met secretly in a grove not far from Dove-Cote. After the meeting, she returned unseen to Mr. Lindsay’s house, and Butler and Horse-shoe Robinson went to the inn of Mistress Dimock, not far away.
That night at the inn, Horse-shoe encountered a Tory spy named James Curry, a stealthy rascal who was passing as the servant of Mr. Tyrrel, a guest at Dove-Cote. Tyrrel, a disguised British officer, was often at Mr. Lindsay’s home, ostensibly to secure that gentleman’s aid for the Loyalists but, in reality, to court Mildred, who despised him and everything for which he stood. Seeing Curry at the inn, Horse-shoe knew that Tyrrel was again visiting Dove-Cote. Although he let the fellow escape, he was afraid that Tyrrel and Curry might cause trouble for Butler and himself on their trip through South Carolina.
Major Butler had been sent by General Gates on a mission to another rebel general in Georgia. With Horse-shoe as a companion, the Major felt certain that he could complete his undertaking. On their first night in the forest, Horse-shoe led Butler to the home of Wat Adair, an old friend whom he thought loyal to the rebel cause. Wat, however, was not a true friend. Having been bought off by the Tories, he planned that night to direct Butler and Horse-shoe into an ambush in the forest. A relative of Wat, Mary Musgrove, overheard Wat plotting with another Tory, and being loyal to the rebels, she whispered to Butler the plans she had learned.
Through her warning, Horse-shoe and Butler avoided one trap, only to fall into an ambush of some rough Tories, among them Curry. Fearing that the drunken crew planned to murder Butler and himself, Horse-shoe escaped, hoping to rescue Butler later....
(The entire section is 1132 words.)
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