The red glow from the cove had died out of the sky .
The two in the bed knew each other as old people know the partners with whom they have shared the same bed for many years , and they needed to say no more .
The things left unsaid they both felt deeply , and with a sigh they fell back on the well-stuffed pillows .
Anita put out the remaining candles with a long snuffer , and in the smell of scented candlewick , the comforting awareness of each other's bodies , the retained pattern of dancers and guests remembered , their minds grew numb and then empty of images .
They slept -- Mynheer with a marvelously high-pitched snoring , the damn seahorse ivory teeth watching him from a bedside table .
In the ballroom below , the dark had given way to moonlight coming in through the bank of French windows .
It was a delayed moon , but now the sky had cleared of scudding black and the stars sugared the silver-gray sky .
Martha Schuyler , old , slow , careful of foot , came down the great staircase , dressed in her best lace-drawn black silk , her jeweled shoe buckles held forward .
`` Well , I'm here at last '' , she said , addressing the old portraits on the walls .
`` I don't hear the music .
I am getting deaf , I must admit it '' .
She came to the ballroom and stood on the two carpeted steps that led down to it .
`` Where is everyone ? ?
I say , where is everyone ? ?
Peter , you lummox , you've forgot to order the musicians '' .
She stood there , a large old woman , smiling at the things she would say to him in the morning , this big foolish baby of a son .
There were times now , like this , when she lost control of the time count and moved freely back and forth into three generations .
Was it a birthday ball ? ?
When Peter had reached his majority at eighteen ? ?
Or was it her own first ball as mistress of this big house , a Van Rensselaer bride from way upstate near Albany , from Rensselaerwyck .
And this handsome booby , staring and sweating , was he her bridegroom ? ?
Martha picked up the hem of her gown and with eyes closed she slowly began to dance a stately minuet around the ballroom .
David Cortlandt was tired beyond almost the limits of his flesh .
He had ridden hard from Boston , and he was not used to horseback .
Now , driving the horse and sulky borrowed from Mynheer Schuyler , he felt as if every bone was topped by burning oil and that every muscle was ready to dissolve into jelly and leave his big body helpless and unable to move .
The road leading south along the river was shaded with old trees , and in the moonlight the silvery landscape was like a setting for trolls and wood gods rather than the Hudson River Valley of his boyhood memories .
He slapped the reins on the back of the powerful gray horse and held on as the sulky's wheels hit a pothole and came out with a jolt and went on .
He would cross to Manhattan , to Harlem Heights , before morning .
There a certain farmhouse was a station for the Sons of Liberty .
He would send on by trusted messenger the dispatches with their electrifying news .
And he would sleep , sleep , and never think of roads and horses' sore haunches , of colonial wars .
Strange how everything here fitted back into his life , even if he had been away so long .
Mynheer , Sir Francis , the valley society , the very smell of the river on his right purling along to the bay past fish weirs and rocks , and ahead the sleepy ribbon of moon-drenched road .
A mist was walking on the water , white as cotton , but with a blending and merging grace .
Ahead there was a stirring of sudden movement at a crossroads .
David reached for the pair of pistols in the saddlebags at his feet .
He pulled out one of them and cocked it .
A strange wood creature came floating up from a patch of berry bushes .
It was a grotesque hen , five or six feet tall .
It had the features of a man bewhiskered by clumps of loose feathers .
It ran , this apocalyptic beast , on two thin legs , and its wings -- were they feathered arms ? ?
-- flapped as it ran .
Its groin was bloody .
Black strips of skin hung from it .
The horse shied at the dreadful thing and flared its nostrils .
David took a firm hand with it .
The creature in feathers looked around and David saw the mad eyes , glazed with an insane fear .
The ungainly bird thing ran away , and to David its croaking sounded like the crowing of a tormented rooster .
Then it was gone .
He drove on , wary and shaken .
The Sons were out tonight .
New York lay bleaching in the summer sun , and the morning fish hawk , flying in the heated air , saw below him the long triangular wedge of Manhattan Island .
It was thickly settled by fifteen thousand citizens and laid out into pig-infested streets , mostly around the Battery , going bravely north to Wall Street , but giving up and becoming fields and farms in the region of Harlem Heights .
From there it looked across at Westchester County and the Hudson River where the manor houses , estates , and big farms of the original ( non-Indian ) landowners began .
On the east side of the island of Manhattan the indifferent hawk knew the East River that connected New York Bay with Long Island Sound .
On the western tip of Long Island protruded Brooklyn Heights .
It commanded a view over Manhattan and the harbor .
A fringe of housing and gardens bearded the top of the heights , and behind it were sandy roads leading past farms and hayfields .
Husbandry was bounded by snake-rail fences , and there were grazing cattle .
On the shores north and south , the fishers and mooncursers -- smugglers -- lived along the churning Great South Bay and the narrow barrier of sand , Fire Island .
The morning hawk , hungry for any eatable , killable , digestible item , kept his eyes on the ring of anchored ships that lay off the shores in the bay , sheltered by the Jersey inlets .
They often threw tidbits overboard .
The larger ships were near Paulus Hook , already being called , by a few , Jersey City .
These were the ships of His Majesty's Navy , herding the hulks of the East Indies merchants and the yachts and ketches of the loyalists .
The news of battle on Breed's Hill had already seeped through , and New York itself was now left in the hands of the local Provincial Congress .
The fish hawk , his wings not moving , circled and glided lower .
The gilt sterns of the men-of-war becoming clearer to him , the sides of the wooden sea walls alternately painted yellow and black , the bronze cannon at the ports .
The captain's gig of H.M.S. Mercury was being rowed to H.M.S. Neptune .
On shore `` the freed slaves to despotism '' -- the town dwellers -- watched the ships and waited .
The chevaux de frise , those sharp stakes and barriers around the fort at the Battery , pointed to a conflict between the town and sea power rolling in glassy swells as the tide came in .
Across the bay the Palisades were heavy in green timber ; ;
their rock paths led down to the Hudson .
Below in the open bay facing Manhattan was Staten Island , gritty with clam shells and mud flats behind which nested farms , cattle barns , and berry thickets .
Along Wappinger Creek in Dutchess County , past the white church at Fishkill , past Verplanck's Point on the east bank of the Hudson , to the white salt-crusted roads of the Long Island Rockaways there was a watching and an activity of preparing for something explosive to happen .
Today , tomorrow , six months , even perhaps a year
The fish hawk flew on and was lost from sight .
The British ships rolled at anchor , sent out picket boats and waited for orders from London .
Waited for more ships , more lobster-backed infantry , and asked what was to be done with a war of rebellion ? ?
David Cortlandt , having slept away a day and a night , came awake in a plank farmhouse on the Harlem River near Spuyten Duyvil .
He looked out through windowpanes turned a faint violet by sun and weather , looked out at King's Bridge toward Westchester .
The road seemed animated with a few more wagons than usual ; ;
a carriage raising up the choking June dust , and beyond , in a meadow , a local militia company drilling with muskets , Kentuck' rifles , every kind of horse pistol , old sword , or cutlass .
The wraith-like events of the last few days flooded David's mind and he rubbed his unshaved chin and felt again the ache in his kidneys caused by his saddle odyssey from Boston .
Pensive , introspective , he ached .
He had sent the dispatches downtown to the proper people and had slept .
Now there was more to do .
Orders not written down had to be transmitted to the local provincial government .
He scratched his mosquito-plagued neck .
From the saddlebags , hung on a Hitchcock chair , David took out a good English razor , a present from John Hunter .
He found tepid water in a pitcher and a last bit of soap , and he lathered his face and stood stropping the razor on his broad leather belt , its buckle held firm by a knob of the bedpost .
He hoped he was free of self-deception .
Here he was , suddenly caught up in the delirium of a war , in the spite and calumny of Whigs and Tories .
There would be great need soon for his skill as surgeon , but somehow he had not planned to use his knowledge merely for war .
David Cortlandt had certain psychic intuitions that this rebellion was not wholly what it appeared on the surface .
He knew that many were using it for their own ends .
But it did not matter .
He stropped the razor slowly ; ;
what mattered was that a new concept of Americans was being born .
That some men did not want it he could understand .
The moral aridity of merchants made them loyal usually to their ledgers .
Yet some , like Morris Manderscheid , would bankrupt themselves for the new ideas .
Unique circumstances would test us all , he decided .
Injury and ingratitude would occur .
No doubt John Hancock would do well now ; ;
war was a smugglers' heaven .
And what of that poor tarred and feathered wretch he had seen on the road driving down from Schuyler's ? ?
Things like that would increase rather than be done away with .
One had to believe in final events or one was stranded in the abyss of nothing .
He saw with John Hunter now that the perfectability of man was a dream .
Life was a short play of tenebrous shadows .
David began to shave with great sweeping strokes .
Time plays an essential part in our mortality , and suddenly for no reason he could imagine ( or admit ) the image of Peg laughing filled his mind -- so desirable , so lusty , so full of nuances of pleasure and joy .
He drove sensual patterns off , carefully shaving his long upper lip .
It is harder , he muttered , to meditate on man ( or woman ) than on God .
David finished shaving , washed his face clean of lather , and combed and retied his hair .
He was proud that he had never worn a wig .
More and more of the colonials were wearing their own hair and not using powder .
He felt cheerful again , refreshed ; ;
presentable in his wide-cut brown suit , the well-made riding boots .
It is so easy to falsify sentiment .
In the meadow below , militia officers shouted at their men and on King's Bridge two boys sat fishing .
The future would happen ; ;
he did not have to hurry it by thinking too much .
A man could be tossed outside the dimension of time by a stray bullet these days .
He began to pack the saddlebags .
And all this too shall pass away : it came to him out of some dim corner of memory from a church service when he was a boy -- yes , in a white church with a thin spur steeple in the patriarchal Hudson Valley , where a feeling of plenitude was normal in those English-Dutch manors with their well-fed squires .