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The Only Woman In The Town
by [?]

One hundred years and one ago, in Boston, at ten of the clock one April night, a church steeple had been climbed and a lantern hung out.

At ten, the same night, in mid-river of the Charles, oarsmen two, with passenger silent and grim, had seen the signal light out-swung, and rowed with speed for the Charlestown shore.

At eleven, the moon was risen, and the grim passenger, Paul Revere, had ridden up the Neck, encountered a foe, who opposed his ride into the country, and, after a brief delay, had gone on, leaving a British officer lying in a clay pit.

At midnight, a hundred ears had heard the flying horseman cry, “Up and arm. The Regulars are coming out!”

You know the story well. You have heard how the wild alarm ran from voice to voice and echoed beneath every roof, until the men of Lexington and Concord were stirred and aroused with patriotic fear for the safety of the public stores that had been committed to their keeping.

You know how, long ere the chill April day began to dawn, they had drawn, by horse power and by hand power, the cherished stores into safe hiding-places in the depth of friendly forest-coverts.

There is one thing about that day that you have not heard and I will tell you now. It is, how one little woman staid in the town of Concord, whence all the women save her had fled.

All the houses that were standing then, are very old-fashioned now, but there was one dwelling-place on Concord Common that was old-fashioned even then! It was the abode of Martha Moulton and “Uncle John.” Just who “Uncle John” was, is not known to the writer, but he was probably Martha Moulton’s uncle. The uncle, it appears by record, was eighty-five years old; while the niece was only three-score and eleven.

Once and again that morning, a friendly hand had pulled the latch-string at Martha Moulton’s kitchen entrance and offered to convey herself and treasures away, but, to either proffer, she had said: “No, I must stay until Uncle John gets the cricks out of his back, if all the British soldiers in the land march into town.”

At last, came Joe Devins, a lad of fifteen years–Joe’s two astonished eyes peered for a moment into Martha Moulton’s kitchen, and then eyes and owner dashed into the room, to learn what the sight he there saw could mean.

“Whew! Mother Moulton, what are you doing?”

“I’m getting Uncle John his breakfast to be sure, Joe,” she answered. “Have you seen so many sights this morning that you don’t know breakfast, when you see it? Have a care there, for hot fat will burn,” as she deftly poured the contents of a pan, fresh from the fire, into a dish.

Hungry Joe had been astir since the first drum had beat to arms at two of the clock. He gave one glance at the boiling cream and the slices of crisp pork swimming in it, as he gasped forth the words, “Getting breakfast in Concord this morning! Mother Moulton, you must be crazy.”

“So they tell me,” she said, serenely. “There comes Uncle John!” she added, as the clatter of a staff on the stone steps of the stairway outrang, for an instant, the cries of hurrying and confusion that filled the air of the street.

“Don’t you know, Mother Moulton,” Joe went on to say, “that every single woman and child have been carried off, where the Britishers won’t find ’em?”

“I don’t believe the king’s troops have stirred out of Boston,” she replied, going to the door leading to the stone staircase, to open it for Uncle John.

“Don’t believe it?” and Joe looked, as he echoed the words, as though only a boy could feel sufficient disgust at such a want of common sense, in full view of the fact, that Reuben Brown had just brought the news that eight men had been killed by the king’s Red Coats in Lexington, which fact he made haste to impart.