The roaring faded into the darkness. Fright was shrouded in soldiers’ hearts. No one was talking; the only sound was the coal in the fire making terrible crackling noises. Grey clouds moved across the sky like snakes, silent and dangerous. Wind was blowing, as those someone whispering beside their ears. Every small sound came from enemies’ footsteps. Owen Black sat next to a hole; he was a young man whose face was covered in a layer of mud. He couldn’t fall asleep because their allies hadn’t arrived yet. Owen frowned. If tomorrow, they still had not arrived at the battlefield, without a doubt, America would lost this battle.
When Owen was thinking, a soldier walked beside him and tapped his shoulder. He looked up and saw his friend--Robert. “Why you sitting here? Don’t want to go sleep? Oh,come on! Do not tell me that you are too afraid to fall asleep,” said Robert, who was laughing and sitting beside Owen. “Thinking of some annoying business,” Owen said drily, looking upon the night sky; then he turned to Robert, “Alright, maybe I should tell you...I mean, do you know Nathan Hale?” Robert stared at him and answered, “Yes, yes...Who doesn’t know the hero Hale? The first spy in America. He was brave, and patriotic. Unfortunately, he died three years ago when doing... Hey! Why have you mentioned him?” Owen ignored Robert’s curious look and suddenly stood up. The curiosity in Robert’s eyes later turned to seriousness; he turned to anger and almost shouted, “Are you crazy? Oh, let me guess. Our Owen wants to be the next hero, hopes to become a spy and die in another country instead of in America!” Owen ‘s face turned red, “My goal is not to be a hero. I just want to do some meaningful things for America. You see, after Hale ‘s death, no one wanted to be the next spy which is so dangerous and tiring. By contrast, Britain sent several spies into our headquarters. Do you know that last week Captain Sterling died because of an invasive British spy? I can’t wait until someone comes and rescues us. Don’t forget, we are at war!” At last, Owen wanted to shake Robert ‘s shoulder, tell him about his plan, but he refrained from doing so.
Robert silenced up, time passed as long as a century. Finally, he signed and said slowly, “Well...I know how you are feeling. You are right, we can’t just evade and wait for rescue. I will not stop you to be a spy, but Owen, promise me, be careful and... I don’t want to end up seeing your cold corpse. Please come back safely.” He smiled, as well as Owen did. “Yes, of course I will return safely.” Owen said, hugging Robert.
On the next day, their allies came and won the battle. Owen told the captain, then the captain introduced Owen to the Lord Commander--George Washington. He interviewed Owen in his working place. “What’s your name, young man?” asked Washington. Owen saluted and said, “Owen Black, sir.” The commander smiled, “Black...Black, the darkness, working in a dark place? Oh maybe your name had already told me your will. But do you really have the determination and sense of sacrifice? You have to know, spy work is one of the most difficult jobs. If your position is found out by British, the only road you can choose is death. Understand? Be careful, and I will ask my captain to give you a fake identity.” Washington said, gazing at Owen seriously and waiting for his answer. Owen laughed, “Nathan Hale spoke his last word before he died. ‘I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.’ That ‘s what I consider important. I can be the second life of Hale in order to dedicate it to my country.”
After a few weeks, Captain Justin and Owen left for Connecticut. It was a sunny day; Owen closed his suitcase, “Maybe I will start a new life in Connecticut,” he thought, with a ineffable emotion. Now his new position was that of a businessman who trades items between the countryside and city. “We know that the British captain Charles Cornwallis will come here several day in order to trade some guns and bullets. He is a cunning, dangerous man, who has killed many of our soldiers. To achieve your goal, you need to get this chance, pretend to be a ordinary businessman and then earn his trust.” Justin said in a low voice, “We have no time, I can’t stay here for a long time, Cornwallis will distrust you if I do. I have to leave. Em...Good luck and be careful, Black.”
Owen settled down in this city. On the first day, he kept awake, “How to get Cornwallis‘ attention, maybe that is the most serious problem...” Owen felt tonight he lose his sleep. After several hours, he finally fell asleep. He had a dream. He saw his parents and Robert waving at him. He ran in front of them, but soon he found to his horror that they were all bearing guns. Suddenly, the scene had changed, his parents and friend were bleeding. He shouted “No” and saw a man who wore a red windbreaker and black leather boots, stood beside their corpses with a loud laughter. He wanted to scream but couldn’t make any sound. He woke up, but immediately forgot all about it.
In the next few days, Owen pretended to be a real businessman, he was kind, wise, and humorous, everyone in the countryside knew Owen Black. But one day, Owen woke up early in the morning as usual, but there were fewer people in the street than yesterday. He began to feel rather strange. Then he heard clops, a strange man was coming toward him. That man wore a red windbreaker, white trousers, and black leather boots. The people beside him were two soldiers with guns. “Cornwallis? With two of his men?” Owen thought. Even he felt a little bit nervous, but he didn’t show it on his face. He waited until that three men got closer. “Sir, do you wants to buy something here?” he asked. The man in front of the other two put his gun against Owen ‘s forehead, smiled, “I guess you are the famous Owen Black? We need guns, you have? Plus, do you know who am I?” “My shop has everything you want. Maybe you are a captain? British?” “How do you know that?” the smile on Cornwallis ‘s face disappeared. Owen lifted his arms and said: “Don’t worry, I am familiar with your attire and temperaments. You see, the villagers all disappeared this morning; they must have had hide inside their houses. But what make them so afraid? They are Americans, so intruders must not be Americans. Two months ago, the Battle of Stony Point had just ended. Therefore, I consider that you are British.” Cornwallis laughed, he moved down his arms and put his gun back in its holster. “You are smart, now I know the reason why all villagers call you wise Black.” He got down from his horse, “Well, do you have an interest to join my army? We need some excellent soldiers right now, even though you are American.” When Cornwallis was speaking, he suddenly took out his gun again, and said: “Honestly, I don’t hope to see talents like you stay in America, that will make Washington ‘s power stronger. You understand? If you...” “No, I want to join your army!” Owen interrupted, “My parents died last year because of Washington. And I will never forgive him!” When he was talking, the angry flame as shining in his eyes. Owen felt that he could even cheated himself. “That’s the best. Now you are a soldier in my army. Cornwallis swung into the saddle, said: “Your work is to obtain this information. Focus on the Continental Army. Tell me what they did. Several days later, I will send a soldier to lead you to our base.”
As Cornwallis promised, three days later, here came a person. But to Owen ‘s surprise, it was a girl! Maybe nineteen or twenty, with pigtails, wearing a checked long dress. “Hey! Are you Black? Oh, absolutely. But I don’t think you are Negro.” she stared at Owen for a long time, “Oh, no, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Mia Jones. And I am the person whose task it is to take you to our base.” Then she took out her hand from her pocket. Owen shook her hand and then followed her. A minute later, they were both in a hansom carriage.
After several hours later, they arrived in the area. Owen saw the barracks, many soldiers were wearing red windbreaker and white trousers, as well as holding rifles. They took part in the training. Owen became a number in the army. In later months, he was active on the battlefront and obtained inexistent information about the Continental Army. At that time, he pretended to work hard for Britain while collected intelligence for the Continental Army.
One day, he arrived at the place where his allies were waiting for him. As usual, the person who received Owen ‘s information was Matthew Geller. He was a middleaged man with a serious face. He was very kind to Owen, he usually received some letters that written by Robert. Later, Owen didn’t see Matthew, the person who took his place was an old man, wrinkled. Owen had an ominous foreboding. “Where is Matthew? Is he sick and stay at home?” Asked Owen anxiously. The old man just shook his hairless head and said in a sad voice: “Matthew died last week. Just after you left, British soldiers found him hiding in the bush and so they shot him. We found his corpse three days ago.” After a heavy sigh, he continued, “Perhaps they had perceived that someone had invaded into their camps and obtained their intelligence for the Continental Army. I persuade you to be very cautious these days. Don’t let them know where you’ve been!”
Owen couldn’t feel anything except the death of Matthew. He was too sorrowful to say anything, even a word; it was just like his world had collapsed. Indeed, he didn’t know how he come back to the army camp, and how he fell asleep near midnight. There were only one word appearing in his mind- revenge. The only thing he can do is to do his best as a spy.
All too quickly, two years had passed. In January, 1781, Owen got an important tip--their army had to move their position to another place, Yorktown was the crucial town that Cornwallis needed to guard. “That’s may be a nice chance.” Owen thought. Then he wrote a letter and put it in his sleeve. He met his middleman in a secret place. The old man was waiting here. He took the letter and wanted to leave, but Owen stopped him, “Please help me, bring these two letters to Robert and my parents. Those are very important things.” The old man hesitated, at first he wanted to refuse, but when he saw the despair in Owen ‘s eyes, he finally took the two letters and ran away hurriedly.
Owen couldn’t wait for the reply letters. In September, Washington lead the Continental Army and French armies to besiege Yorktown. In October, British soldiers killed several horses in order to store their grain. The battle was on the verge of breaking out.
On October 7th, Owen was walking in the barracks; a young soldier walked in front of him, took out two letters, and gave them to him, “Mr. Black, I was ordered to give you these two letters,” he said, as Owen ‘s face turned into red because of excitement “My name is Barty Stewart. I...I am very glad to meet you and I heard a lot of stories about you in the army. You are so brave and selfless! You volunteered to be a spy! How lofty you are! My dream is to be a hero like you!”
Owen stared at him, with a surprised look. His name was Baty Steward. Maybe he was only nineteen? Or twenty? Owen clapped his shoulder and said in a soft voice, “Don’t forget your goal, Barty. I trust you can be one of the best spies in the world in the future.”
Two days later, in the morning, Owen was told that the Continental Army will go on the offensive at three o clock. He found Barty and told him about their plan, “This afternoon is the best chance to leave here. We can follow our allies and rush out of the gate right by the chaos.” He felt he forgot something so he added, “Don’t make too many noises. Be quick and cautious.” Barty nodded. After noontime, the hot weather made soldiers sleepy. Two soldiers sat under a tree, napping, with their guns held in hand.
Suddenly, a loud detonation came from one of the captains’ camp. Soldiers jumped up, finding a good place to shoot. Owen jumped up too, started to run as fast as he could and Barty quickly followed behind him. However, a black-hat soldier found them and pointed his gun to them and said, “Hey, what are you two guys doing here? Are you going to chicken out?” Owen said in a hurry, “No, no, Captain Cornwallis ordered us to go to battlefront. He said he knows who the spy is and maybe he is on the way to kill him.” “Or maybe he is waiting for someone and listening how the spy lie to him.”
A loud voice came back to them, they turned back with surprises--Cornwallis just standing there, with a gun in his right hand. “I can’t believe that you are the spies Black, you are wise, so I can’t allow you to be alive. Oh, what about you Stewart? I have to kill you too. What a pity! Well, who wants to be the first one to see the death?” While he as talking, a cannonball fell beside them. Cornwallis shouted and shot in the smoke. Owen and Barty ran away quickly, forwards the gate. After a while, the smoke had cleared, they could even see the gate. Barty shouted excitedly, “Look! We are safe! Look at that gate! Owen...?” Soon he began to feel rather strange. Owen fell to the ground, and was soaked in blood. With a bullet in his lung, now was pouring out blood. Owen raised his hands in tremble, “Please tell me parents that I love them...And...Please tell Robert... Maybe I can’t make it back safely... Barty, I promise you, you can be the best spy in the future. Ah...I love America and want to see her become the strongest country in the world, maybe I can’t wait for that day...” Barty cried, trying to carry him up. More and more cannonballs fell down, soldiers’ roaring became louder and louder. Owen tried to keep open his eyes but failed. “Now we are near the victory. How blue the sky is...” Then he closed his eyes forever.
Finally, Barty took his corpse out of the town and buried it in the country. After eight days, Cornwallis led his army to surrender. In 1783, America won the Revolutionary War. The British government at last admitted the independence of America.
It was a sunny day, a middleaged man came to the graveyard with a bunch of flowers. He stopped in front of a tombstone, and cried. “ Owen, after you died, we won the Battle of Yorktown... And many years later, we won the war... You contributed much to the Continental Army, to America. He waved his tears and continued, “You told me that you will come back safely, but you didn’t. I never blamed you, on the contrary, I admired you. Maybe I would never have had courage like you. We will always remember you. God bless you in heaven, buddy.”
Then he left. Sunshine shone on the epitaph and reflected. He is sleeping here, our young hero--Owen Black.
Note: The meaning of Owen is “young hero”