In the book The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper, what is revealed in chapter 34 about Birch’s loyalties and whom he has been serving?

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In chapter 34 of James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Spy: a Tale of the Neutral Ground, Harvey Birch, a peddler by trade, who has been serving as both a spy and counterspy for George Washington in the Revolutionary War, has an assignation with the general.

Washington explains to his agent how the nature of their relationship must change:

Harvey Birch... the time has arrived when our connection must cease; henceforth and forever we must be strangers.

The general goes on to to praise his operative's willingness to bear the stigma of being a British spy while faithfully carrying out that perilous occupation in the service of his own country. This achievement is all the more heroic in that Birch can never be allowed to take public credit.

To me, and to me only of all the world, you seem to have acted with a strong attachment to the liberties of America.

In payment for his extraordinary service, Washington offers Birch a sack containing one-hundred gold doubloons. When the spy draws away from the bag, the general acknowledges that it's meager recompense for the risks Birch has taken. However, it's not the amount of payment, but the thought of any payment at all, which the agent refuses:

What has brought your excellency into the field?... What is there about me to mourn, when such men as you risk their all for your country? No, no, no—not a dollar of your gold will I touch; poor America has need of it all!

Touched by his selfless gesture, Washington grasps his good fortune in having chosen this man. Since Birch refuses all else, the general asks that, should he ever be afflicted with poverty or illness, he only "seek the gate of him whom you have so often met as Harper," promising that he will come to his aid.

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