Ann Bate's recollection

November 9, 2017
By aaaalice_hst BRONZE, Shenzhen, Other
aaaalice_hst BRONZE, Shenzhen, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“ Wine! Wine! Two pounds for a bottle of wine made by Mrs. Barnes! ”, a beautiful woman cried out on the wet pavement, swinging the basket full of glass bottles. “Hey! We would like to have two bottles. Here is five pounds, no need for change since you are so pretty.”, replied an American soldier wearing a short white beard, as several older soldiers giggled at the woman. However, the woman seemed to have ignored all these rude soldiers. She walked into the restaurant where the soldiers were, and smiled a little, wiped the breads of sweat on her smooth skin, and nodded her head to the American soldiers to express her thankfulness. “Lord commander, may I stay here while all your men are having lunch? These poor young men definitely need to have some of my wine since they must feel exhausted after a hard training.” Mrs. Barnes’ voice was so gentle this time, she smiled again and batted her eyelids at the commander. In the sunlight, Mrs. Barnes’ eyes seemed to be sparkling, just like a shinning blue precious stone freshly excavated from a cave. At this time, the Lord commander who had encountered thousands of battles abnormally had a blush in his cheeks and said “Well, umm… Basically, You are not allowed to get access to this restaurant while our men are here. But, umm, umm, since my soldiers love your wine that much and drinking a little is a good way to relax, well, yes, you may, Mrs. Barnes.” “I really appreciate it, thank you, my Lord.”,  Mrs. Barnes gently smiled again and bowed to show her thanks. After that, a silhouette of a woman who always wore a light blue dress with a large basket in hand usually appeared in almost every pub where gathered a lot of American soldiers. Besides, that was the first important access point for Ann Bates to become an excellent spy for Henry Clinton, the British general during the American Revolutionary War.

Back to a night in 1778, which was just several days before a person named Mrs. Barnes appeared in Philadelphia, a young lady with long blonde curvy hair was giving a lecture to the young pupils in a primary school. Most of the children were wearing patched clothes with stains on them; they could only stand in front of the teacher because there were no chairs at all except for a small platform for the teacher; the children had frostbite on their cheeks since it was in January, as freezing wind kept coming into the tiny classroom. Except for the sweet voice of the teacher standing on the platform in class, everything outside the class was in total silence. The birds and cicada stopped singing; exhausted pedicab drivers and peddlers had fallen asleep; all the steam machines had finished their work and were having a rest to meet the new tasks tomorrow. However, none of the kids showed any grievance. Instead, all of their eyes looked straight into the teacher’s eyes, glimmering, as if they would like to seek all the knowledge from the teacher as soon as possible. “ Miss Bates, this morning my mom told me that my daddy has joined in the British army, and I should be proud of my dad. However, I just can’t understand why I should be proud of my daddy because being a soldier is a very dangerous thing and daddy may never comeback!”, asked by a boy who had wholly black hair and eyes, standing in the front of the kids. “Well, Tony….” Miss Bates replied with an excited facial expression, “your mother was totally right. The place where we live is in great danger now because there is a rebellion against our British king. Your father is one of the greatest men who will protect us from the attacks of the American bad people. My husband is a British soldier fighting for our safety for us, too, just like your daddy, and I am very proud of him, my dear. Your father and my husband are doing a great undertaking for every child who is the same age as you, every adult man and woman, every old man and woman in this great place! So, don’t be confused or anxious, my dear, you really should feel proud of your daddy.”After Miss Bates’ words were done, she walked off the platform and gently stroke the little boy’s short black hair. “ I think that will be the end of the class today, you are free to go home now.”, standing among the children, Miss Bates said, waving to the kids’ parents outside the door. At this moment, a man walked into the classroom and sat at a seat in the back.
After making sure that every child had found their parents and left safely, Miss Bates walked to the back of the room, “What…”, before she had finished her words, the man interrupted her, and said in a low but powerful voice?“ Miss Bates, may I have a word to you?”. The man then stood up, he was a very tall man who was about 6 feet high. He was all in black, and was wearing a silk hat. The man looked straight into Miss. Bate’s eyes, as if he was a hunter examining his prey. The words seemed to be an interrogative sentence, but the commanding look that the man had made Miss Bates a little terrified, and she nodded her head reluctantly. “ Come with me, my lady.”, the man said and then stood up to guide Miss Bates to a black saloon, he opened the door and signaled her to get in the carriage. In the moonlight, Miss. Bates’ blue eyes seemed to be tearful, but she tried her best to suppress the tears in her eyes and got in the car. “I’m sorry Dawson mush have scared you a lot. Please don’t mind that, he was born a cold face.”, another man in the car who was stout and short said to Miss Bates while smiling. The poor young lady was pale with fright, trembling in the car. After a minute, Miss. Bates finally dared to raise her head and have a glimpse of the man who was just talking to her. “Oh my goodness!”, said Miss Bates, her eyes almost popped out when she was talking, “You are Henry Clinton!”. A faint smile crept across the man’s face, he said“ Yes, madam, you are right. The purpose of my visit here is that I need your help.” Miss Bates got even more surprised and she found herself sweating, feeling excited, but worried nonetheless.

Henry Clinton took out a piece of paper from his black bag and handed it to Miss Bates. “ I need to tell you the truth that British Army is in a dire condition; we are loosing the colonies. Your husband, Mr. Bates was a really a brave and intelligent man who used to work for me. And…”, said Clinton. “Wait…” Miss Bates interrupted him with confusion and anxiety on her face, “Mr. Clinton. What do you mean ‘was’? Are you saying that my husband is dead?”. Mr. Clinton nodded his head and said “I am really sorry for you, Miss Bates. Mr. Bates died in a battle against the armed American rebels; I know exactly how painful you must feel, madam. But you have to brace up, here is an opportunity in front of you which can help you take revenge for you dear husband and contribute your devotion to the British colonies. At this critical moment, we really need women like you.”. Miss Bates started crying and couldn’t stop trembling. How could Clinton be that cruel to ask her for a favor right after telling her husband that her husband died for him and for the whole country? Although Miss Bates felt a little furious, she still couldn’t  escape from the begging and fierce eyes of Henry Clinton, “What do you want me to do for you? ”, she asked Clinton. “You could be a spy for us. A spy who would gather the latest information from the American Rebels. You should remember it is also a great chance for you to do something for the peace of all 13 colonies.”?Clinton said calmly. “ But, as you have seen, I am just a common teacher who gives lectures to the poor children at night, you know, I am not strong and can never become a soldier or something like that.”, Miss Bates said with doubts. “My madam, the fact is totally reverse from what you have expected.”, the new man who was in the classroom started talking, “ Many people, including the kings or military chief commanders, consider women are only useful at weaving or doing housework. However, my boss, Mr. Henry Clinton, who is the freshman that in charge of this area, thought of a great idea that employing women as spies is a great way to attain important information from the enemy. Miss Bates, please allow me to present some further explanations for you.”, he then took out a thin booklet titled with “Wplan”. “ Firstly, since many people think that women are mostly illiterate and cannot understand military knowledge or strategies, the soldiers—mainly men—would thus lower their guard. So if you become a member of the women spies for us, your job will be as a peddler who sells wine in the location where usually gathers a lot of American rebels, and you should pay attention to the content that they talk about and report back to us as soon as possible. Secondly, you are a perfect candidate for us because you can read and you act as a decent teacher. The general impression you give will help you gain trust from the commanders of the American soldiers. What’s more important, it will be easy for you to understand if the rebels are talking about complicated military strategies since your husband was a great soldier.” The tall man said in a very sincere way.

Ann Bates would be willing to take the job offered by Henry Clinton without even thinking if her husband was still alive. She would feel extremely proud of herself because she would get a chance to repay her beloved British king and she had been deeply distressed about doing nothing for the safety of the country since she was just a weak woman. However, she was in two states of mind because she had to deliberate and consider much more than before. “What if I die while performing a task, and then no one is there to take care of the old parent at home? Am I really equipped with all the ability that is required to become a good spy who can really provide for the colonies? Who can the poor young kids in the night school turn to for help if the only teacher left them?”she pondered. Ann Bates was swamped with doubts and uncertainties. The cold wind was roaring like a beast outside, striking the windows of the car; countless flakes of snow constantly fell from the dark night; several  lights were shimmering in the distant horizon. Time passed, and the night sky had already turned to bright red, while the three people were still sitting still in their spots in the car. The tall man, Dawson, seemed to be weary of waiting and he started shaking his legs, while Henry Clinton was patient and he just kept staring at Ann Bate quietly. “Well…”, Ann Bates ultimately started talking and raised her head, “ Sir, I would like to accept your challenge.”, she said with very firm eyes as if she was a soldier who was going to engage in a battle immediately. “Good.”, answered Clinton, “ Here is the first task that you need to accomplish.” Clinton seemed to be relieved and gave Ann a piece of paper which contained all the missions that Ann had to accomplish. “Remember, from now on, a decent teacher whose name is Ann Bates is dead. The only identity of you, my lady, is Mrs. Barnes.”, Mr. Clinton said seriously to Ann. She nodded her head, sat straight, and looked into Mr.Clinton’s eyes as if to show her resolution.

The author's comments:

This is a historical fiction about Ann Bates, a woman who worked as a spy for Britain. This article is part of a imaginary scene which shows how Ann became a spy. 

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