In a couple of days, Tim gets his chance to be a sneaky little bugger.
Mr. Heron comes into the shop, and Tim brings him his rum.
Tim seizes his opportunity and tells Mr. H that he sure would like to go on that letter-delivering adventure. Yessiree.
Actually, Tim doesn't just tell Mr. Heron that he wants the job; he lies and says his dad is totally cool with it.
Turns out Mr. Heron is a pretty smart dude because he knows right away that Tim is lying.
Even so, Mr. Heron agrees to let Tim take the job. Tim figures it's not really that bad to lie to his dad since his dad and Mr. Heron are both Loyalists. So Tim is just doing his part for Team English Nation, right? Well, that's one way to justify disobeying your old man.
The next day Tim sets off to Mr. Heron's house while his dad thinks he's going fishing with Jerry again.
At Mr. Heron's pad, Tim gets very clear instructions that go something like this:
(1) Walk five miles to Fairfield.
(2) Find this specific white house with green trim and give a letter to Mr. Burr.
(3) Walk five miles back to Redding before anyone gets suspicious.
At first, things are going well: it's a sunny day and Tim is walking quickly. Yay adventure!
But things get prickly when Betsy Read shows up with a ton of questions.
She wants to know where Tim is going and guesses he's off to send a love letter. Well, at least she hasn't figured out Tim's secret mission.
Tim turns the Q&A session around and starts getting Betsy to explain where she's off to on this fine day. Betsy says she's heading to see Sam. Wait, what?! Sam's nearby?
Tim wants to know how she got that information and she says from Mr. Heron.
Apparently, Sam and another soldier have been "scouting for beef" (6.56). We're thinking this is code for stealing cows.
By this point, Tim is totally confused, and so are we. He thinks that Mr. Heron is a Tory, but then how does he know what Sam, a Continental soldier, is up to? And why is he telling Betsy, a sworn Patriot? Things are getting weird.
While Tim is seriously confused, Betsy is starting to figure out what's going on with all this letter carrying.
When Tim accidentally mentions that he had his own chat with Mr. Heron that morning, Betsy realizes that Tim has been sent on a letter-delivering mission.
And she's not going to back down until she finds out just what that letter has to say. You see, Betsy has come up with a theory about the letter.
She thinks Mr. Heron is sending word of Sam's whereabouts to the Lobsterbacks so they can arrest him for cow-stealing.
Tim isn't sure all this makes sense and doesn't know what in tarnation he's supposed to do. Should he keep his word to Mr. Heron? Or is he putting his brother at risk?
Feisty Betsy figures there's only one way to figure out what's happening: steal the letter.
Since Tim has the letter tucked inside his shirt, they get into a bit of a brawl.
After some kicking and punching, Betsy gets the letter and runs off with it.
While running away, Betsy opens the letter and then chucks it.
When Tim reads it, he's in for a serious shock because here's what the letter says: "If this message is received, we will know that the messenger is reliable" (6.101).