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A Day And A Night In The Old Porter House
by [?]

Monday morning, July 5th, 1779, was oppressively warm and sultry in the Naugatuck Valley. Great Hill, that rises so grandly to the northward of Union City, and at whose base the red house still nestles that was built either by Daniel Porter or his son Thomas before or as early as 1735, was bathed in the full sunlight, for it was past eight of the clock. Up the hill had just passed a herd of cows owned by Mr. Thomas Porter and driven by his son Ethel, a lad of fourteen, and Ethel’s sister Polly, aged twelve years.

“It’s awful hot to-day!” said Ethel, as he threw himself on the grass at the hill-top–the cows having been duly cared for.

“You’d better not lose time lying here,” said Polly. “There’s altogether too much going on uptown to-day, and there’s lots to do before we go up to celebrate.”

“One thing at a time,” replied Ethel, “and this is my time to rest. I never knew a hill to grow so much in one night before.”

“Well! you can rest, but I’m going to find out what that fellow is riding his poor horse so fast for this hot morning–somebody must be dying! Just see that line of dust a mile away!” and Polly started down Great Hill to meet the rider.

The horseman stayed his horse at Fulling Mill Brook to give him a drink, and Polly reached the brook just at the instant the horse buried his nose in the cool stream.

“Do you live near here?” questioned the rider.

“My father, Mr. Thomas Porter, keeps the inn yonder,” said Polly.

“I can’t stop,” said the horseman, “though I’ve ridden from New Haven without breakfast, and I must get up to the Center; but you tell your father the British are landing at West Haven. They have more that forty vessels! The new president was on the tower of the College when I came by, watching with his spy-glass, and he shouted down that he could see them, landing.”

At that instant, Ethel reached the brook. “What’s going on?” he questioned.

“You’re a likely looking boy–you’ll do!” said the horseman, with a glance at Ethel, cutting off at the same instant the draught his horse was enjoying, by a sudden pull at the bridle lines. “You go tell the news! Get out the militia! Don’t lose a minute.”

“What news? What for?” asked Ethel, but the rider was flying onward.

“A pretty time we’ll have celebrating to-day,” said Polly, to herself, dipping the corner of her apron into the brook and wiping her heated face with it, as she hurried to the house. Meanwhile, her brother was running and shouting after the man who had ridden off in such haste.

As Polly entered the house the big brick oven stood wide open, and it was filled to the door with a roaring fire. On the long table stood loaves of bread almost ready for the oven. Her sister Sybil was putting apple pies on the same table. Sybil was a beautiful girl of twenty years, much admired and greatly beloved in the region.

“What is Ethel about so long this morning, that I have his work to do, I wonder!” exclaimed Mr. Thomas Porter, as he lifted himself from the capacious fire-place in which he had been piling birch-wood under the crane–from which hung in a row three big iron pots.

“It is a pretty hot morning, and the sun is powerful on the hill, father,” said Mrs. Mehitable Porter in reply–not seeing Polly, who stood panting and glowing with all the importance of having great news to tell.

“Father,” cried Polly, “where is Truman and the men? Send ’em! send ’em everywhere!”

“What’s the matter? what’s the matter, child?” exclaimed Mr. Porter, while his wife and Sybil stood in alarm.

At that instant Ethel sprang in, crying out, “The militia! The militia! They want the militia.”