1. THE FISHERMAN
Gravesend Bay, New York, August 22, 1776
He had sat out the raw misery of the storm through most of the night, keeping his boat tight against the shore. She was pulled up on soft ground between two large rocks, his private mooring, a hiding place he had known since he was a boy. The boat would be safe there, from weather or the occasional vandal, but this time the storm was different, the rain driven by a howling wind that might push the waves hard beneath the boat, damaging her against the rocks. His wife would not worry, would keep the fireplace lit, would not protest even though he would stay out all night. She had heard him speak of it too often, his love of the water, the pursuit of the fish that seemed to call to him in a way few wives understand. This time she did not expect him to return home for at least two days, and so as he huddled under a ledge of rock, soaked by the amazing violence of the storm, he did not worry for her, thought only of tomorrow, the new dawn, hoping that the storm would be gone.
He would rarely fish in the darkness, but the late summer had been hot, breathless days that kept the fish silent, sent them away to some invisible place every fisherman seeks. He had thought of drift- ing with the tide along the edge of Gravesend Bay, without even his small sail, just easing along the first deep water offshore, hoping to tempt something from below into an ill-timed assault on his handmade hooks. But as the sun went down, the breeze had not calmed, and he had stared wide-eyed at a terrifying burst of lightning, warning him from the distance, a great show from the lower tip of New York, moving toward him from the distant shores of New Jersey. The storm had blown hard across the harbor, and he barely made it to his private wharf before the hard rain slapped his face and soaked his clothes. He had used his long push pole to slide the boat between the rocks, jumping out and then moving quickly under the ledges that faced away from the water. There was nowhere else to go, no thought of a fire, no blessed coffee, nothing but the hard crack of thunder. He had tried to lift himself up, keep his breeches off the ground, the dirt beneath him turning to mud as the flow of rainwater found him, small rivers in the soil. But the rock ledge was low and tight, and he could not escape, had settled into the misery, simply to wait it out until the dawn.
Before first light, the rain had stopped, and the quiet had awakened him. He groaned his way into the open air, his joints crying in stiffness, the air chilling him through the wetness of his shirt. But then he could see the first glow in the east, and he listened for the sound, the winds gone, only a soft breeze flowing through the trees behind him. He had always believed that after a strong rain, the fish would move, emerging from their own shelter, hungry, looking for whatever he might offer them. It was a lesson taught him by his father, who had fished this same water, who knew Gravesend Bay better than anyone in the villages, the way a farmer knows his land, every rock, every hole. He had begun to go out with his father when he was barely old enough to hold the stout fishing pole, had cheered with pure joy when the old man had wrestled with the fury of some unknown creature, and shared the pride of his father's success, the fish flopping and writhing in the bottom of the boat, the old man's quiet joy. His father was gone now, but the lessons remained. He looked at the boat, his father's boat, cared for by the hand of the son, thought, It's time to go fishing.
There was a great deal of water in the boat, and he scooped out as much as he could, then turned it on its side, a great splash on muddy ground, the last bit of water spilling away. He was in a hurry now, did not look at the glow on the horizon, knew that the dawn would give way to another hot day, and he slid the boat quickly off the shore, one last push as he waded out beside it, then jumped, lifting himself into the stern. He pushed with the long pole, the boat cutting through the low ripples on the water, and he measured the shallowness, knew that in another hundred yards it would drop off. He examined his fishing pole, felt the familiar excitement, knew that in the early morning, he might find a big one, a striped bass perhaps, or hook into a big blue, a fight that could pull his boat for a half mile into the great bay. If the breeze was right, he could drift along the slope of the drop-off, where the flounder might strike, the amazingly ugly fish that his wife would not touch until he cut away the ugliness.
The push pole suddenly went deep, the bottom falling away, and he set it down along the rail of the boat, tested the wind, thought of raising the small sail. He reached for the hard wad of bait in his pocket, ignored the smell, picked up the fishing pole . . . then froze, stared hard to the south, across the narrows, saw a reflection, caught by the first sunlight. It was a ship, fat and heavy, in full sail, coming straight toward him. Beyond, he could see two more, smaller frigates, more sails, and he stared at the bows of each ship, cutting through the water, thought, They will turn soon. They must be going out to sea.
He had often thought of sailors, the crews who manned the great ships, what kind of life could be had living only on the water. The harbor had filled with them only weeks before, more ships than he thought there were in the world, a vast navy, all the might of legend come to life. They were still there, a forest of bare masts and rigging, wrapping along the shoreline and wharves of Staten Island, extending out into the harbor. They had stayed at anchor for the most part, the navy-knowing as did the villagers-that on Governor's Island there were cannon, a curious battery placed by the rebels to keep Lord Howe's ships from sailing close to New York. The villagers had mostly laughed at the idea, that these men who had come down from Boston would dare to threaten His Majesty's navy, would have the arrogance to believe they could keep the mighty ships in their anchorage. But there had been no conflict, no real activity on either side. The hot talk in the taverns had grown quiet, the inaction breeding boredom in those who never really knew what would happen anyway. He was among them, excited when the navy arrived, the amazing sight of so many troops making camp on Staten Island, a vast sea of tents. But then nothing had happened, and many had gone back to their routine. And so, he had once again returned to Gravesend Bay to pursue the fish.
His father had told him about the British navy, the mightiest armada in the world, the vast power of the king that kept all his enemies at bay. But his father had no fire for politics, and the son knew only the talk, words like Whig and Tory, and issues that excited some, but, to many more like him, seemed very far away. He had heard the arguments, the complaints and protests, the threats and hot talk that meant very little to him. He had thought it strange that so many people could make such protest against their king, especially in the face of all those ships, the vast army, the enormous guns. And yet the voices had grown louder, the protests erupting into great public gatherings. He had been in New York when this man Washington had come. He had seen what those people called an army, heard some of the speeches, more new words, talk of a congress and independence. He thought it odd that the people wanted to be rid of their king, the one man responsible for their security, for protecting them from what he supposed to be all manner of enemies: Indians, the French, even pirates, who could sail close to these very shores, attacking the helpless, stealing anything they pleased. He had never actually seen a pirate, of course, or a Frenchman. There were Indians occasionally, in New York, or so he had heard. He admired these ships, this great mass of power, had felt as so many had felt out there on Long Island, that there could be no danger, no enemy who could harm the colonials as long as the great ships were there to protect them. But the rebels had cannon too. All it meant to him was that he should probably not fish around Governor's Island.
He had not fished around Staten Island either. It was unfamiliar water, too long a trip for his small boat to risk. If the wind turned against him, or a storm blew up, he would be helpless, have to make for land in a place where rumors sprouted. There had been talk from men who had been to Staten Island, who had seen the foreigners. He didn't know why they would be with the king's army, but the men at the tavern swore they had seen them. They were called Hessians, and some said they were savages, frightening men, strange uniforms and stranger faces. He had laughed at the descriptions, knew some of the men could spin a good yarn, but still . . . why would the king bring these men to New York?
He watched the three ships, his hands moving automatically to rig up his fishing pole. He had often seen smaller ships moving past Gravesend Bay, some near the shallows where he fished. There were sails only when they were heading for the open water, or, as he had seen lately, when they came in, the end of some long journey he could only imagine. The sailors had often called out to him, men up in the rigging, on the rails. He had always waved politely, wondered if they envied him, captain and crew of his own boat. But then someone had shot at him, a puff of smoke from a lookout, the strange zip of the musket ball passing overhead, a small punch in the water behind his boat. He had not understood that, thought it a ridiculous, frightening mistake, but the lesson was learned. Now, when the navy ships moved past he made ready, turned his boat toward the shore, an instinct inside him to move to safety, to keep his fat rocks in sight.
He thought now of doing the same, the three ships still bearing toward him. It was odd, something wrong. He did not move, still watched them, thought, They should be turning about before now, the deeper water is behind them. If they keep...
In Rise to Rebellion, bestselling author Jeff Shaara captured the origins of the American Revolution as brilliantly as he depicted the Civil War in Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure. Now he continues the amazing saga of how thirteen colonies became a nation, taking the conflict from kingdom and courtroom to the bold and bloody battlefields of war.
It was never a war in which the outcome was obvious. Despite their spirit and stamina, the colonists were outmanned and outfought by the brazen British army. General George Washington found his troops trounced in the battles of Brooklyn and Manhattan and retreated toward Pennsylvania. With the future of the colonies at its lowest ebb, Washington made his most fateful decision: to cross the Delaware River and attack the enemy. The stunning victory at Trenton began a saga of victory and defeat that concluded with the British surrender at Yorktown, a moment that changed the history of the world.
The despair and triumph of America’s first great army is conveyed in scenes as powerful as any Shaara has written, a story told from the points of view of some of the most memorable characters in American history. There is George Washington, the charismatic leader who held his army together to achieve an unlikely victory; Charles Cornwallis, the no-nonsense British general, more than a match for his colonial counterpart; Nathaniel Greene, who rose from obscurity to become the finest battlefield commander in Washington’s army; The Marquis de Lafayette, the young Frenchman who brought a soldier’s passion to America; and Benjamin Franklin, a brilliant man of science and philosophy who became the finest statesman of his day.
From Nathan Hale to Benedict Arnold, William Howe to “Light Horse” Harry Lee, from Trenton and Valley Forge, Brandywine and Yorktown, the American Revolution’s most immortal characters and poignant moments are brought to life in remarkable Shaara style. Yet, The Glorious Cause is more than just a story of the legendary six-year struggle. It is a tribute to an amazing people who turned ideas into action and fought to declare themselves free. Above all, it is a riveting novel that both expands and surpasses its beloved author’s best work.
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Description du livre Random House Large Print, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire P110375432450