To Try Men's Souls - George Washington 1

Free To Try Men's Souls - George Washington 1 by William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich, Albert S. Hanser

Book: To Try Men's Souls - George Washington 1 by William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich, Albert S. Hanser Read Free Book Online
Authors: William R. Forstchen, Newt Gingrich, Albert S. Hanser
Tags: Z-Kindle
the first lines.
    “Damn it all to hell,” he snapped, scooping up the soggy sheet of paper from the slab of wood he had been writing on, crumpling it and throwing it to the muddy ground.
    Thomas Paine, more than a little drunk on this disgusting November evening, pushed his “writing desk,” off his knees, stood up, and drove the sheet of paper into the mud with the heel of his boot.
    His head brushed against the peak of his tent, triggering another cascade of water on his bare head and down his neck.
    It didn’t worsen his condition. Inside a tent or out, everyone was drenched on this miserable night. At least he had shoes on and wool socks. An adjutant to General Greene had insisted he accept them earlier in the day, along with the tent. He knew he was supposed to feel guilt for having these luxuries——shoes, socks, a tent——while the rest of the army was out in the open tonight, shivering around smoldering fires, nearly all of them barefoot, more than afew of them all but naked under a blanket cape. Even the best of those, including that worn by “His Excellency the General,” were threadbare and worn.
    At least I have this, he thought ruefully, reaching into his backpack and pulling out a leather sack, still half full of rum. He took a long pull on the flagon, resealed it, and stuck it under his jacket. At least it gave a momentary warmth, dulled the pain, the memories, and put off the problem of what he was supposed to write next.
    Since coming to America, he had rarely indulged but tonight, in this miserable muck, he no longer cared, and besides, half the army was drunk, the other half wished they were.
    The rain, the suffering, the fear——they were almost secondary now. What in hell should I, can I, write?
    The American Crisis
. He already knew the title. He had written it twenty times on that sheet of paper now crushed into the mud, but beyond that?
    He uncorked the flagon, took another drink, and sat back down on another luxury General Greene had provided for him, a field cot so that he didn’t have to sleep in the mud, the way the men he claimed to be one of would try and sleep this night.
    Why did they all look to me? Because they believe I can write? They were the ones who had faced fire at Long Island, Manhattan, White Plains, and still were with the army.
    His own service? A joke, other than that he could write.
    Common Sense
had been in everyone’s hands for nearly a year now. It had been easy enough to write last winter, safe and warm in Philadelphia, the argument for this war no longer being about Englishmen defending the rights of Englishmen; this was now a war about a new nation, a new concept, an ideal called America. We are Americans now and will die for the right to live free.
    He had written it because he had to. It had flooded out of him in a dream, a burst of energy pent up for nearly his entire life, a life of degradation, poverty, and tragedy. His pen had given him, at last,the means to lash back at the world, the Old World he had fled in disgrace and abject poverty, where he had left behind an embittered wife and the threat of debtor’s prison.
    Squatting on the wet cot, rubbing his hands against the cold, he could not help but smile at his current state. Poverty? At least in prison, if you had a few pence to bribe the turnkeys, you could get a dry room, even a fire and a cooked meal. Here? Hell, the only money the sullen citizens of Newark would take for food or a dry corner in a shed was British or Spanish silver. The wads of paper money being handed out as pay were all but worthless. More than one soldier had sarcastically used a five-dollar note as kindling or, in a more dramatic statement of crude humor, publicly wiped himself with it to the laughing taunts of his comrades.
    Yet I would not trade being here rather than being back in England for a hundred pounds sterling. He was feeling more than a bit woozy as he took another pull on the flagon of rum. Despite his cynicism

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