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So that whole letter thing seemed like a huge deal, but apparently Tim gets over it fairly quickly.
At first things were pretty awkward around Mr. Heron. But Mr. H. never asked Tim about the letter so no harm no foul…we guess?
Anyway, even with the letter drama past, the war is still brewing all around them. For the most part, it still isn't affecting Tim and his family too much. By the time fall of 1776 comes around, it's time for the annual Meeker outing to Verplancks Point, a trading post in New York.
Every year, Tim's dad takes a bunch of cattle to Verplancks Point with either Sam or Tom Warrups. This year, it's Tim's turn to join in on the adventure. It'll take a few days for them to get to Verplancks Point, and they'll stop by some family and friends along the way.
Tim's dad thinks his son is too young to go. But Tim's the only helper his papa has, so hooray for Tim and too bad for Mr. Meeker. All in all, sounds like it'll be good clean family road trip fun…which also probably means something is going to go wrong. Doesn't something always seem to go wrong in this book every time it seems like it'll be easy peasy?
So Tim and his dad are shuttling their cattle along the road and life is pretty grand.
Then something goes seriously wrong: "cow-boys" (7.33). These cowboys are some tough dudes, and it looks like they're Patriots (remember, this means they're on Team American Colonies).
When they learn that Tim and his dad are from Redding, the cowboys realize they're probably Tories. Plus, most of the people who buy cows in Verplancks Point are from New York, and New York is pro-British Army. So even though Mr. Meeker doesn't really want to get involved in the war, turns out he's selling his cattle in a town where mostly Lobsterbacks will get to eat the beef. Let's just say that this makes the cowboys a wee bit angry.
Actually, they threaten to kill Tim and his dad if they don't get off their horses and abandon their cattle. Tim does as he's told and goes out into the nearby field. But Mr. Meeker stands his ground.
Tim can't hear what's happening, but he can tell his father is talking to the cowboys, and then he sees them hit his dad in the head. Uh oh. Luckily for Tim, the cowboys end up riding back where they came from and don't kill Mr. Meeker. Why? Because a different group of horsemen have arrived on the scene. These new riders figure out the same three important things about the Meekers and their cattle as the cowboys did:
Thing 1: Mr. Meeker leans toward the Loyalists.
Thing 2: Tim and his dad are taking the cows to Verplancks Point to sell them.
Thing 3: Based on Thing Two, these cattle will feed Lobsterbacks.
But remember how the cowboys freaked out and started making threats when they figured out these three things? Well, these new riders do just the opposite: they're happy the cows are heading into British bellies. Looks like these are some pro-England horsemen.
They even escort Tim, his dad, and their cows all the way to New York. Phew.