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Tim is the youngest kid in the Meeker family. His mom and dad own a tavern/shop in colonial America. And his older brother Sam has just joined up with the rebels who are fighting against England.
Tim witnesses a huge fight between his brother and his dad, and Sam runs away. Tim is now left with a big huge question to answer: Does he support the Patriots, like Sam? Or does he prefer the Loyalists, like his father?
When Sam is hiding out in Tom Warrups' hut, Tim discovers that his brother has stolen their dad's gun, the Brown Bess. Tim sure isn't happy about what this war is doing to his family.
One day, once the war is in full swing, a bunch of Rebels come into the tavern to get the Brown Bess. A scared Tim steals it from Sam, but then Sam steals it right back.
Tim still doesn't know which side of the war he's on, but he does want to take part in a war-related adventure. He tries to deliver a letter for Mr. Heron, but fails when Betsy Read gets in the way.
In the fall of 1776, Tim joins his dad on a trip to Verplancks Point, where they trade cattle for goods. Just one thing: Tim and his dad get attacked by cowboys on the way. And then Tim's dad gets captured by cowboys on the way back.
A few months later, Tim watches as the British roll into Redding. He witnesses a skirmish between the Lobsterbacks and the Rebels, but he also gets briefly reunited with Sam.
Tim learns that his dad and his friend Jerry both died on prison ships.
A year and a half passes as Tim and his mom work hard to keep the tavern/shop afloat.
Tim gets to see Sam again, when his troop comes to town.
When Sam is arrested for cow-stealing (even though he's innocent), Tim tries to help his big bro out. All Tim's efforts fail, and he watches as his brother is executed.
After the war, Tim and his mom move to Pennsylvania. He becomes a surveyor, gets married, and has kids. Happy ending? That's for you to decide.