After all his sprinting and bellowing, Cheyney had little breath for speech. He panted like a landed fish for several long moments. Then, finally, he gasped out, “’Tis the British, ten thousand strong, crossing upstream to attack from behind.”
Washington narrowed his eyes, looked us over as if we stank of barn muck, and motioned us into the house.
“I heard some such nonsense from Colonel Bland, but later reports proved this false,” he said, frowning. “Local sources have assured me there is no ford above the fork that’s close enough to offer a serious threat. No, it’s here at Chadd’s Ford that the British attack will come, and here at the Brandywine is where we’ll hold them!” In an undertone, he added, “Indeed we must: No other obstacles lie ’twixt Howe and Philadelphia save the Schuylkill River—at the very doors of the city!”
The squire could barely contain his outrage. “Local sources be damned!” he spluttered. “I am a local source. And a local source most loyal to your efforts! Don’t you know that most of the farmers who’ve stayed nearby, in Howe’s path, are neutrals or Tories who want to throw dust in your eyes?” His voice squeaked with fury, and with despair I perceived that he sounded too much like a bedlamite to be taken seriously.
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