Christmas Eve 1778
New York City
Servants scurried from guest to guest in Robert Hawthorne’s dining
room. They took away the first remove, a creamy potato soup, and
While waiting for the main course, Hawthorne leaned toward the
visiting general seated to his right. “Sir, I have a riddle for you. How
many rebels does it take to win a battle?”
“No one knows, because they haven’t won a single one!”
The general guffawed and banged his hand on the table.
Hawthorne smiled. It was a good joke, but not necessarily the truth.
George Washington’s poorly trained soldiers were keeping the British
Army at bay. The rebellion should have been smashed long ago.
The kitchen door opened. An army of servants streamed through
carrying platters, bowls, and casseroles heaped with steaming food.
Guests gasped in delight to see salmon with shrimp sauce, buttered
lobster, rabbit stew, haunch of venison, sweetbreads, macaroni, peas,
potatoes, and custards.
Hawthorne relished their reaction. Entertaining guests was his
favorite pastime and tonight was especially auspicious because he
was celebrating his promotion to colonel. Two generals in the British
army, three colonels, the vicar of the local church, the mayor, a judge,
a merchant, and their wives graced his table. He wished the war was
over. Perhaps next Christmas would find him back home in
England. If he could not spend the holiday with family, he would at
least spend it with his dearest friends.
“Colonel Hawthorne,” the general’s wife said, leaning toward him,
“we will miss you so!”
“Me or my parties?”
“Silly goose. You, of course. Must you leave?”
“Alas, dear lady, I must.”
“Without you, this wretched country will be unbearable.”
Hawthorne patted her hand. “I’m sure you will bear it.”
The woman pouted and turned to her husband. “‘Tisn’t fair! We
finally have someone who can throw a decent party and good King
George rips him from us!”
Tomorrow Hawthorne would leave New York and head to
Philadelphia. After the Battle of Brandywine, the American Congress
had fled into the countryside like a fox before the hounds.
Hawthorne had received secret orders to capture a ringleader at all
costs. It mattered little which traitor he served up--Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Franklin, or George Washington. His Majesty wished to
make an example of someone important to the rebel cause and
thereby break their spirit.
The front door burst open. Cold air blasted through.
The room fell silent at the sight of a pox-scarred man in a tattered
greatcoat. “Might there be a Hawthorne here?”
“I’m rather busy at the moment,” Hawthorne said, frowning. Why
had the soldier on guard let this rag of a man inside?
“Sir, it’s about your cousin.”
Hawthorne straightened. “What news have you?”
The man worked a much-worn hat through his hands. “He’s been
hanged, he has.”
Hawthorne felt the blood drain from his face. He sat in stunned
silence while his guests murmured among themselves. Dunstan
could not be dead. He had sent him to New Orleans to find proof
that the Spanish were secretly helping the American rebels.
“You must be mistaken,” Hawthorne managed to say.
“No, sir. The news comes direct from the horse’s mouth, it does.
Someone who seen it with his own eyes. Them Spanish dons hanged
Sergeant Andrews for a spy.”
“A spy!” the general’s wife gasped, looking in horror at her husband.
Most people considered espionage a less-than-noble profession. Men
of honor shunned it.
Hawthorne rose, wobbling slightly. “If you will excuse me,” he said
to his guests. Bowing low, he left. He signaled for the messenger to
follow him. He strode into the study and closed the door behind
Squeezing the bridge of his nose, he said, “What happened to my
“That Spaniard, Gálvez, hanged him.”
“One and the same.”
It took a moment to absorb the news. Bernardo De Gálvez, Governor-
General of the Louisiana province, was a colonel in the Spanish army
and an aristocrat. His uncle José was one of the most powerful men
“But Sergeant Andrews had diplomatic privilege.”
The messenger shrugged.
The scornful gesture angered Hawthorne. He felt like picking up a
paperweight and hefting it at the man, but restrained himself.
Had Gálvez shrugged too? Had he thumbed his nose at the law?
Dunstan shouldn’t have been hanged. To be sure, he had sent his
cousin to New Orleans to spy on the Spanish and bring him
information on American rebels in Louisiana, but he had given him
diplomatic papers to protect him. Why hadn’t Gálvez honored them?
Hawthorne fell into a chair and brooded, only vaguely aware of the
messenger inching toward the door and leaving.
Sounds soaked through the walls, the whinny of horses and the jingle
of carriages pulling up to the front door. Doors opened and closed.
Apparently, the messenger’s announcement had dampened spirits
and guests were leaving. Hawthorne’s big moment, the celebration
of his promotion to colonel, had been ruined.
Disbelief dissolved into slow anger. Hawthorne paced around the
room. He opened the armoire door and took out an officer’s sash,
bright red silk with tassels on both ends. He had promised to make
Dunstan an officer upon his return. And what a glorious one he
would have been! In his mind’s eye, Hawthorne saw his cousin
leading a cavalry charge with sword drawn. Of all his relatives,
including his younger brother, Dunstan most resembled him: tall,
athletic, with dark brown hair and dark blue eyes. They were both
twenty-eight years old and both had been born on the family estate.
In their youth, people sometimes mistook them for twins. That
ended when Dunstan engaged in a sword fight and acquired a jagged
scar on his cheek.
Hawthorne wrapped the ends of the sash around his hands and
snapped it tight. Dunstan would have worn it with honor.
The family’s reputation had been stained. The rule of law demanded
that Colonel Gálvez answer for his illegal actions. Filing charges
against him would do no good. Gálvez was the law in New Orleans.
No, this situation demanded drastic action. A plan slowly formed.
There were details to work out. It would take months to put it into
action, for a soldier simply did not walk away from his duties and
responsibilities so he could take care of personal affairs. No matter
how long it took, he would restore honor to his cousin’s memory by
bringing Gálvez to justice.
|This novel deals with
aspects of American
discussed in class:
- The 1779 New
- The Battle of
- Don Bernardo de
- Battles of the
In 1779, Don Bernardo
de Galvez attacked
the British fort in
Baton Rouge with a
that consisted of:
- French Creoles
- Canary Islanders
- Free Blacks
Email Lila Guzman
for information about
classroom sets. Please
put "Author Visit" in
the subject line.
Depending on your
school visits may be
available for free
through Project WISE.
|Lorenzo and the
Arizona Authors Literary Award, 2006
SBN 1-55885-471-1, $9.95, Ages 11 and up
This exciting action-adventure for young adults continues the saga of
the Spanish contribution to the American Revolution.
In Lorenzo Bannister's latest adventure, he is living in New Orleans and working
as a medical doctor. Between his promising medical practice and his love for
his fiancée Eugenie, Lorenzo is finally happy and at peace following his work for
the Continental Army. His happiness is short-lived.
A hurricane sweeps through New Orleans two days before Lorenzo and
Eugenie's wedding, leaving the town severely damaged and Eugenie missing.
Frantic with fear and worry, Lorenzo searches the flooded, demolished city for
his fiancée. It is Lorenzo’s friend and mentor, Colonel De Gálvez, who must tell
Lorenzo the shocking news: Eugenie has been seen in Baton Rouge in the
company of a British man.
Is Eugenie a traitor to the Spanish cause?