My name is Ann Bates. I was a Philadelphia school teacher before I met him. My life was thought to be ordinary, but after this encounter my whole life had changed.
It was a clear and sunny day; I was teaching children. Suddenly, a new face appeared into my classroom. It was a man who smiled at me gently. He had a mass of rich brown hair with a bit of curl and a slim nose who looked very handsome. I almost thought he was a friendly guest; however, the military uniform betrayed him. It was a British military uniform. I was immediately being extremely watchful so as to prevent something bad from happening. However, nothing happened; he just listened for the whole class.
After class, I found him and asked him about the purpose of his attendance. He smiled again and said: “I am here to see you.” I was a little bit shy and my face blushed immediately. I didn’t know him at all before. How did he know me? I could not say a word but only stared at him.
“I heard about you in my army. My friends said there is a pretty, wise girl in the school nearby, so I was intensely eager to know what the girl looks like and how she had impressed my friends.” He kept smiling.
“Obviously, she was even prettier than my friends described.” he said while smiling mildly.
“But I am an American! Don’t tell me you don’t know we are having a war now!” I was a little bit angry. Besides, I thought he must have had some hidden purpose because he seemed too nice. A man can’t be that nice to a stranger.
“I don’t care which nationality you are from, and I am confident about Britain. The American army can’t revolt successfully. But… Whatever, can you do me the honor and just have dinner with me?” he gallantly pushed the invitation.
“Em… Nope. I have a lot of work to do tonight. The children are going to festival tomorrow, I have to do some preparation.” I refused him euphemistically.
“Come on! Just a dinner, it can’t take too long! In addition, I can help you prepare.” Not until I accepted did he hold my hand gently.
Well, I said to myself, only once!
That night, I found out his name was Joseph Bates. He was a soldier and artillery repairman for the British Army. Even though I knew I could not fall in love with him in that kind of situation, I still fell in love with him, totally.
A month later, I married him. I didn’t tell my parents and friends about it at all. I thought they would worry a lot if they knew I married a British soldier.
Even though it was a small wedding, we still exchanged the wedding vows together.
To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.
I thought our marriage could be ordinary except for our different nationalities. However, it wasn’t.
After I had married him, he brought me to his general— Henry Clinton. I can still remember that unforgettable day which changed my whole life.
“Nice to meet you, madam. Please have a seat and help yourself.” General Clinton said to me politely.
I was nervous then because General Clinton had a poker face. He peered at me seriously which put made me into an extremely embarrassed situation. Actually, Joseph had told me about this meeting before. But he had said it would just be a simple meeting about his job.
“I’ll come straight to the point. I already know that you are a loyalist and you married Joseph. So are you interested in being a spy?” he said seriously.
I was shocked!
I could not believe my ears! Wait, what’s going on here? Was it a drama play or something else? I was really confused.
“Pardon?” was written all over my face.
“I was serious, madam. Because of the awareness and intelligence that you have.” he replied in an even more serious tone.
“May I think for a moment?” I replied anxiously.
“Sure.” He said smiling.
In the American Revolution, women were considered too simple to understand complex military strategy, but he said I was more aware and intelligent. It was the first time that a stranger praised me since I was born. I was excited but nervous. How could I be a spy? Was I disloyal to my country? Would I be killed one day? Whatever, I was a loyalist.
After only one day of training, I was sent on my first mission in White Plains, New York. The mission was to find a disloyal soldier in Washington's camp because he could give British intelligence some secretive intel. However, I failed. Later, I receives a new mission to watch over George Washington and count the artillery pieces in his the camp. I was afraid at first because it was George Washington, who was the head general of the American army. If he discovered me, I would die. I calmed myself down for a little while, then I pretended to be a waitress who fetched soldiers some tea. While I entered a room, the game began.
“ We only have 5000 soldiers! 5000! I don’t want to be defeated in Rhode Island!” George Washington shouted.
I poured him some tea. He snatch up the tea cup and put it on the table heavily with a loud, harsh sound.
I quickly got out of the room and changed my clothes and hat all into black. I even changed my hairstyle and make-up and then snuck out silently.
When I passed through the street, I thought someone was tracking me. I pretended to be an ordinary woman like the 100 others in the street and stopped in front of a clothing shop. I pretended to make some interesting emotions like excitement when I saw some clothes on display. Even I bought some. I did my best to remain inconspicuous. However, the man didn’t let up.
Soon, I saw an American patrol stop and I quickly moved towards it. I glanced from outside but found there was no one there. Suddenly, I felt a hand being put on my shoulder.
“Madam, could you please put your hands in the air or I’ll shoot you.” A man with an unfamiliar voice whispered beside my right ear.
I raised my hands and looked into the man’s eyes. An American scout.
“I think I know you, little bird. Are you the waitress in the camp?” He smiled and twisted my hands.
“… Yes.” I pretended to reply easily. Actually my heart was still thumping intensely, almost jumping out of my body.
“So what are you doing here? To track a lovely boy?” he said laughing but did not loosen his hands on mine.
“I was looking for some water because I was so thirsty.” I said lying to him. Bad lie, I thought.
He looked at me low from head to foot, then loosened his hands.
“Okay, don’t let me know if you are doing something bad.” he said letting me go with some limited suspicion.
“Thanks a lot. You know women like me are not that smart enough to understand military works, so don’t be so tense. I am just going to find some water after a long time of shopping.” I said smiling gently. Then, I headed out at a brisk pace.
I turned into an alley quickly. After a while, finally, I reached the Clinton’s camp.
“I got some important intel.” I said excitedly.
“Well, good job madam.” Clinton replied smiling peacefully.
“I know I was right about you. Awareness, intelligence, and the ability to remain calm under pressure as well. You are really a great woman.” He said praising me bountifully.
“Good job, my girl! You really did a good job!” said Joseph who appeared beside the door.
I rushed to him and gave him an intense embrace. However, he put me down and said: “I am really sorry my girl. I have to tell you the truth.” he said looking at me seriously which gave me a sinking feeling. I stared at him and said nothing.
There was total silence in the house. Joseph and me were staring at each other while Clinton was smiling.
AS we were staring at each other I knew that something had changed. I stared at him with blazing love, while he with a frosty gaze.
“In fact, I never had any interest in you from the beginning. It was Clinton who told me to seduce you. Because we needed you to give us the potential intel. You know you are an American. Besides, you are a woman. You had the means to get close to the American army, especially George Washington's camp. That’s why I attended your class and said I was there to see you. I didn’t lie to you in fact. I was there to see you. And I thought you were wise since you were familiar with the artillery. But now that you have already gave us some important intel, Clinton and I thought we could not lie to you any more. I can not let you to spend your whole life with a man who totally isn't interested in you. You see, babe, we did it for you. You have two choices now. One is to stay here and continue to be a spy. The second is to leave here and find a far away place to spend the rest of your life peacefully. Which one will you choose?” he then asked.
I… I could not help crying out loud at that time. There were so many words I wanted to say, but I just cried and cried and cried.
“Why are you so cruel? If you don’t love me at all, why ask me directly at first? Do you know the pain I am suffering now? It’s like thousands of knives stabbing my heart! All I have done from the beginning until now has been pointless! Pointless! The intel I gave to you will probably hurt my relatives and friends, but I still did it for you. The mission was so hard you know. I nearly died at the American patrol stop you know? I nearly lost my life! I did it for you! But now you say you did it for me? How cruel you are! You know what? I will choose the third option.”
Ann Bates drew Joseph’s gun by his side and committed suicide.
She was posthumously regarded as one of the best women spies during the American Revolution.