The American Revolution
It's the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the United States, and now that we're done with eating and watching fireworks, I want to share one of my favorite stories of the American Revolution with y'all.
At some point during the American Revolution, a group of British officers took a fancy to the Rinker family inn and occupied it, demanding bed, board and service. Of course, she and her family had little choice but to house the British and wait on them at every meal, and to pour ale and whiskey late into the night while the Redcoats spread out their maps on the inn's tables and plotted against General Washington's army.
Thus these important missives were safely hidden. But how to pass the message on?
If the Redcoat officers noticed her at all, she simply appeared to be a matronly woman, working at her daily knitting, as most women did in the days when families produced nearly all of their clothing at home. From the officer's point of view, perhaps that rocky outcrop was her favorite knitting spot because it provided a pleasant view of the woods below, and a warm, cozy spot to enjoy the afternoon sunshine for half an hour before returning to the drudgery of the kitchen. The sight of Old Mom Rinker in her favorite spot, at about the same time every afternoon, would not have caused the least bit of alarm. Just another part of a housewife's routine.
From the point of view of a sentinel waiting deep in the woods below, her appearance on the edge of the gorge, high above the treeline, meant another thing entirely. It meant that there was news to be gathered.
The ball of yarn -- with a little bit of extra weight from the small stone inside -- would fall, bouncing off the rocky escarpment, unwinding as it descended. And Mom Rinker's detailed notes about British troop movements, so carefully wrapped around the stone, would fall into the hands of the soldier waiting below, who would wave his hat to indicate that it had been received before quietly turning his horse back toward the woods, using an Indian trail which met the narrow road that ran along the bottom of the gorge.
Mom Rinker would rewind the length of yarn, tuck it back into her knitting basket, and continue her work for awhile before returning to her chores at the inn.
You want to know what she was knitting, don't you? Of course, Mom Rinker was hard at work knitting warm stockings for Washington's troops, as were all the local women. These stockings, along with other warm clothing, were delivered by a brave young girl dressed in boy's clothes, a fine young horsewoman who knew the woods very well, and who went from camp to camp with saddlebags full of warm clothes, which were always welcome because they were in such short supply.
The British never suspected a thing. And Old Mom Rinker continued her spying and reporting every night for the duration of the conflict.
And that, dear readers, is the story of how a grandmotherly woman and a ball of sock yarn helped win the American Revolution.
For my American readers, I hope you had a happy Fourth of July. For those of you who live elsewhere, I hope you enjoyed the story.