In this second book in the American Revolutionary War Adventure series, Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue, twins Ambrose and John Clark find themselves volunteering for another mission to help the newly forming United States. Inspired by their success in delivering a secret message to General George Washington himself, the boys step up to help transport much-needed gunpowder to the patriots and end up in an even more dangerous situation, trying to man one of the first submarines and then, later, attempting a prison break to rescue one of their older brothers.
Follow these brave young patriots as they follow in their father’s footsteps and rely on each other, their considerable courage, and God’s providence for guidance and strength.
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Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue
By Robert J. Skead, Wilson Ong
ZONDERKIDSCopyright © 2015 Robert J. Skead
All rights reserved.
The Watching Eyes
Ambrose Clark felt the cold, sharp blade of a bayonet on the back of his neck. "Both of you, be quiet," a voice hissed in his ear. "Don't move a muscle."
Ambrose froze, his heart pounding. His twin brother John had turned and was looking at the man behind Ambrose, his mouth open slightly in shock. Beyond him, in the darkness, Ambrose could make out a small room stacked high with wooden kegs.
"Don't say a word either." The owner of the bayonet grabbed Ambrose's upper arm and shifted the blade to the side of his neck. Not hard enough to slice a layer of skin, but hard enough to send a message that he was quite serious.
Ambrose's mind raced. Was this man friend or foe? He knew John was wondering the exact same thing. Don't do anything stupid John ... like attack this guy. I like my neck. And I like my blood inside my body where it belongs. The blade had been placed directly over Ambrose's jugular vein. With one quick slice, he could be dead.
"Don't even think about doing anything rash to help your comrade here." The man did not speak loudly, but Ambrose did not doubt the seriousness of his threats. "If my blade doesn't kill, it could easily cripple." The man's voice was gruff and deep, belonging to someone older and seasoned in combat.
Ambrose looked at John, who nodded slowly at the man. How did they not hear this man get behind them? The feat seemed impossible to Ambrose. His senses had been on high alert for the past fifteen minutes as they approached the dark buildings of the Stocking gristmill and gunpowder factory. He had only walked ten feet inside the building when he was met by that voice and blade. Had he been hiding in the dark somewhere inside or outside? How did he move so quietly with not even the wooden floor beneath him creaking? More than anything Ambrose wanted to tell the man who they were and why they were there. But he had told them not to speak. His eyes drifted slowly to John who matched his steady look. Through the shadows and over his twin's shoulder he could barely make out the image of large wood and iron machinery. Ambrose took a chance and opened his mouth to speak.
"We —" The blade stung as it pressed harder into his neck, and he quickly swallowed the rest of his sentence. Ambrose felt beads of sweat run down his forehead and the slope of his nose. His tan cotton shirt dampened with perspiration. If only their brother Berty were inside with them.
"I said don't make a sound," the man hissed. "Now, when I tell you to move I want you both to walk slowly to the door you just used to get in here. Remember, this is a gunpowder factory. Don't even think about using that pistol you have tucked in your pants, young man," he said to John. "One false move with that and we could all meet our Maker in an instant. Now, move slowly and quietly." A hand waved in Ambrose's peripheral vision, and John started walking. Then Ambrose felt a nudge in his lower back.
Ambrose slowly turned and followed his brother toward the door. Of all the doors to enter this place, they had to choose the one guarded by a watchman with Indian-like skills and a sharp bayonet — who was obviously not afraid to use it first and ask questions later. They had no choice but to follow his commands. If only Ambrose had his knife. Then he could show this guy what a super sharp blade looked like. If there was one skill Ambrose had greater than most it was his ability to strike the smallest target with his knife. The ability had won him bets of skill with men twice his size and age. But it was no good wishing for it now. Ambrose stepped carefully so no sudden movements or tripping would make the blade on his neck accidentally draw blood. The floor under his feet creaked. Why hadn't they heard it when the man snuck across the boards behind them?
Ambrose exited the building behind John and stepped into the dim light of a half moon. He knew his brother felt helpless. The feel of smooth dirt was under his feet as he took a few steps forward. Large rocks trimmed garden beds that looked like they wanted to bloom. Ambrose listened to the sound of Roaring Brook trickling beside them. The large wheel that had operated the gristmill stood still, deactivated during nonworking hours. The water running over the rocks sounded like tiny voices calling to him. If only he could speak too.
* * *
Down the road, Berty Clark held the reins of the three horses belonging to him and his two younger brothers. What was taking them so long? All they had to do was find George Stocking, wake him up, and deliver the message from Colonel Sherburne. He hoped they weren't just being shy about waking someone up. Kids. You give them the freedom to do something on their own and they screw it up. But Berty decided to be patient a little while longer. Perhaps Stocking was not at home. He'd give them fifteen more minutes. If they weren't back by then, he'd wake everybody up and embarrass the twins at the same time.
* * *
"What are you doing on this property?" the voice asked.
"Finally," Ambrose and John said in unison.
"We can talk now?" Ambrose reached up slowly to touch his neck. "In that case, I respectfully ask that you remove the blade you hold so firmly on my neck." He still hadn't seen the face of his captor, and he had to fight the urge to spin around.
"Not yet," said the man. "Explain yourselves first."
"We are courier volunteers for the Connecticut Militia," John said. "We carry a special message from Colonel Sherburne for George Stocking, Senior. It's in my left pants pocket. May I get it for you?"
"No, keep your hands above your heads and proceed to that building straight ahead. Go quietly and slowly." The man nudged Ambrose a little with the blade.
Ambrose's mouth fell open. How could this man ignore such a statement? They were on official Continental Army business. His eyes met John's. Could they be in the hands of a Loyalist? How could such a person be in control of the gunpowder factory? It was late at night. Perhaps they had stumbled upon a thief.
He matched John's slow pace as he walked toward the brown building fifty feet away on the north side of the property. Every few steps he turned and looked back at Ambrose and their captor who trudged behind with his bayonet still firmly placed near Ambrose's neck.
"Knock six times," the voice ordered when they reached the door.
"This was the door I suggested we go to," John whispered to Ambrose. "But no, you had to —"
Ambrose felt the knife push a little harder into his skin. "Shut up, brother."
"Yes, shut up, both of you." The man still had a firm grip on Ambrose's upper arm. "Knock," the man repeated.
John raised his arm and knocked slowly six times.
A few moments passed, then —
"Yes, what is it?" The voice inside sounded annoyed and tired.
"It's Cooper. I have two intruders who claim to have a message for you from Colonel Sherburne, but they entered the main powder building without authority. I don't know how they got past the outside watchmen, but I will attend to them later," Cooper said with an irritated tone.
The door opened revealing a tall, muscular man with silver hair, naturally parted on the side. It looked disheveled, probably from sleep. "Let them in, but keep your weapon at the ready."
Ambrose walked stiffly inside the room behind John, all too aware of the bayonet that still pricked his neck.
"I'm George Stocking, Senior," said the man, placing his lantern upon a table. He nodded to their captor, Cooper, who offered a pleasant smile and released the blade from Ambrose's neck, but he kept it out and ready. Ambrose nodded as his eyes zeroed in on Cooper. The man was tall and wiry with short brown hair. He appeared to be in his early thirties. He looked like he could race a rabbit and win.
Mr. Stocking studied the boys. "Hmmm. It's not often one gets to see identical twins." He leaned in closer. "Alike in every way ... except for that scar." He gazed at the puckered white scar that ran down John's right cheek.
"And our ability to choose the right door to enter." John glared at Ambrose.
Ambrose placed his hand on his neck and gently massaged it. "Hey, I'm the one who had the knife poking at him, brother." He checked his palm in the dim light for any sign of blood.
John turned to Mr. Stocking. "I have the letter." As he reached into his pants pocket, which was close to the pistol tucked inside his belt, Cooper jumped forward and held his bayonet inches from John's neck. John froze.
Mr. Stocking sighed. "Precautionary measures." He waved for him to continue.
John carefully took the letter out.
Ambrose hoped they could do this fast. He knew Berty would be growing impatient. It didn't take much for the twins to set Berty off. Should they tell their older brother about this? Probably best not to.
"Both of you ... place your hands on the bench and stand still," said Stocking, as he took the letter from John and slowly unfolded it. He took it closer to the lantern. A small grin appeared on his face, and Ambrose felt a wave of relief. Now he knows we are who we say we are.
"You'll have to forgive our tight security," said Mr. Stocking, setting the letter on the bench. "When one is operating a secret gunpowder factory for the Continental Army, one can't be too careful. Our security and safety precautions are extreme but necessary. We can't have Loyalists or the Redcoats finding out we are not an ordinary gristmill." He smiled grimly. "Manufacturing highly explosive powder for Continental Army and militia firearms is our privilege but a dangerous family business. No visitor can get too close."
"If you weren't kids, you'd not still be alive," Cooper said. "Nobody gets to the gristmill."
"Cooper is the best at what he does, which is why we hired him," Mr. Stocking said. "This is dangerous work on many fronts. Any spark could set off a serious explosion, so we must be careful." He studied the twins. "You must be special people if they trusted you with this message."
"Thank you, sir. Yes, the Colonel trusts us and our family." Ambrose's gaze traveled around the small room. Behind Mr. Stocking stood two large bookcases that overflowed with books. Several opened books sat on a desk crowded with papers. "He ... um ... told me what was in the letter in case anything happened to my brother here ... so I could get the message to you as well," Ambrose turned his attention away from the gunpowder maker for an instant and flashed his brown eyes at his brother.
"He did?" John blurted, eyes full of surprise.
"Yeah," Ambrose replied. "Don't be offended. It was the first time he ever did that." Ambrose turned to Mr. Stocking. "It's our father's orders that we always stay together and work as a team." He paused and stood straighter. "The colonel has a dire need to get some powder to his troops, especially those under the command of General Silliman who is expecting a raid by the Redcoats along the Connecticut towns by the Long Island Sound."
Stocking smiled and walked to a table where he secured a sheet of paper, a quill, and ink. He quickly penned a note and turned to the boys. "This is my reply to the Colonel. We have stock ready to move, but I need the Colonel to provide the appropriate escort to safely move it where it's needed. There are many unscrupulous characters who would love to make their fortunes by selling this powder to the Brits or Loyalists. Now ..." He turned to the security guard. "Cooper, please show the couriers the way out."
Ambrose grinned and followed Cooper's lead. John walked right behind him.
Once outside, Cooper looked around. "Where are your horses?"
"With our brother down the road," John said. "We didn't want to gallop in during the middle of the night and wake everyone up."
"That was wise," Cooper said. "Don't be surprised if you meet up with my watchmen on the way off the property, unless they are like Christ's disciples and have fallen asleep on their watch." His expression grew hard. "Either way, they will be punished for allowing you to get this far." He walked briskly towards the gate.
Ambrose jogged to catch up. "I have to ask you ..." He hesitated. "You snuck up on us back there ... how'd you do that?"
Cooper stopped and looked at Ambrose and the corners of his mouth twitched. "I was trained by Indians in the last war," he said, with a sound that resembled a small laugh. "Let's just leave it at that."
"I'd love to be able to do that," Ambrose admitted.
"You must learn to think and move like a cat." Cooper narrowed his eyes and lowered his body.
Ambrose nodded, but he wondered if it was really that simple. Cooper seemed to glide across the courtyard as though his feet never even touched the ground.
"If you had made a false move in there, I would have cut you both and had your scalps hanging on my trophy wall," Cooper stated, matter-of-factly. He pointed with his finger toward the road out. "You're on your own from here." Closing the gate, he headed back toward Mr. Stocking's house.
Ambrose ran his fingers through his hair. "Good for us, we didn't make a false move."
"Good for you too, Mr. Cooper," John said. "Then you'd have had to deal with our mother."
Cooper turned and jerked a nod.
Ambrose could tell Cooper held back a laugh. Obviously the man's tough exterior and intensity didn't stop him from appreciating a good quip. He knew the security man trusted them now and maybe even liked them.
At the gate, the boys nodded goodbye to Cooper and walked down the rocky dirt road.
Ambrose tucked Stocking's response into his pocket. Soon, he spotted the outlines of their older brother Berty and their horses coming toward them. But what neither he nor his brothers saw was the man hidden in the woods, watching them.CHAPTER 2
From Behind the Tree
He had been following them for a full day, always staying far enough behind so as not to be noticed. He'd done his research on the Clark family. Lamberton, the father, had been "mysteriously" shot and wounded and was still recuperating at home. Not a current threat, his colleagues would follow the elder Lamberton's activities should he stray from home and resume his covert missions for the Continentals.
No, he was more interested in the activities of Lamberton's sons. Two of them, Enoch and Samuel, didn't seem to be of concern — they knew how to sail and shoot a musket, but were not as skilled in such matters as their father and other brothers. They were more interested in farming. But Berty and the twins were different. He'd discovered Berty was a member of the Connecticut militia and the twins, well, their special skills could certainly be a threat to the British. He knew that well.
The man inhaled a breath of cold air. His black steed with white legs quietly nibbled the tall, dew-covered grass. Yes, he'd chip away at the rebel family, one by one — and relish every moment.
First, he'd use his informants and expert training to gather any and all information to help his cause. The fools had just led him to the colonials' secret gunpowder factory. He had heard there were four such mills in Connecticut, and now he had the first one in his sights.
The security detail he'd evaded on the property had made it obvious to him this wasn't an ordinary gristmill. Soon, his associates would make sure it was no more. And it would be so easy to make it look like an accident. First, they'd take what they could for British muskets and canons and then — boom!
Excerpted from Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue by Robert J. Skead, Wilson Ong. Copyright © 2015 Robert J. Skead. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERKIDS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1. The Watching Eyes, 9,
2. From Behind the Tree, 21,
3. Shots in the Night, 23,
4. Destiny Beckons, 31,
5. Meeting the Turtle, 43,
6. Gunpowder Brigade, 59,
7. Double Crossed, 71,
8. From Inside the Woods, 75,
9. Thieves on the Water, 77,
10. You Want to Do What?, 85,
11. You Look Like Jonah, 95,
12. Nothing But Darkness, 99,
13. Illuminating Fungus, 101,
14. A Father's Dread, 109,
15. A Snapping Turtle, 113,
16. New Surroundings, 129,
17. Brotherly Challenges, 131,
18. Looking Back and Ahead, 139,
19. Until A Better Time, 143,
20. Always Together, 147,
21. Surprises, 157,
22. The Commendation, 175,
Note from the Storytellers, 183,
Oath of Allegiance, 184,
Discussion Questions, 186,
Historical Characters, 189,
Historical Letters, 197,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This wonderful adventure book. Are you looking a book that helps with educational help with you children. Well that draws your boys and girls. It has talks about the history of America during the Revolutionary War. This is the second book of the series. It got the twin doing a mission for their father. It goes on from there. There seem to be a spy that following them and giving enemy the information. Who could it possibly be. Ambrose and John seem to be thrown into a mission to make sure gunpowder get where it need to be. In the process they also need to drive the first submarine. They got to make a prison break to save their older brother. The authors do great job with the story and also having you and all his readers guessing though out the book. Will they save their older brother? You giving the American information to enemy? The pictures are done well and you can see what the author is talking about. The image are capering to see and look at. The author does a wonderful job with it.
I found Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue to be a great read and I even learned that there was a submarine used in the Revolutionary War invented by David Bushnell. The story is fiction but much of it has historical facts throughout. I also liked that the Clark family has Faith in the Lord to help get them through these times. The Clark twins are the heroes of this story. At the young age of 15 they do not like all the death involved in the War but are loyal to the cause. Ambrose looks on their roles as an adventure and exciting whereas his twin, John, is more cautious and probably wouldn't have gone along with anything had it not been for the loyalty he has for Ambrose. As their father always told them, "Two are stronger than one." This proves true from the time they volunteer to man the sub to the daring rescue of their brother. This is a very well written book by the father-son team of Robert J. and Robert A. Skead. They belong to the group Sons of the American Revolution and the reader can tell they have done thorough research for their series: American Revolutionary War Series. Even though this is the second in the series, it can definitely stand alone. I think this is a great read for boys in their early teens or anyone that likes history. I received this book free from the publisher for review purposes.
I previously, with my granddaughter, reviewed Patriots, Redcoats & Spies and am so very pleased to again review a book in the American Revolutionary War Adventures series penned by the father/son team of The Robert Skeads. These books take me back in my memories to when my children (now with grown children of their own) read a similar series - "We Were There." Placing young teens in the midst of a historical event is a sure-fire way to grasp the reader's attention immersing them in the story and in history. The twin boys are charged with the task of moving the volatile gunpowder stashed in the newly designed and experimental submarine. True they are towing it behind their own small boat and Ambrose is the most skilled sailor available to handle the task. They know, or suspect, that there is a loyalist spy amongst the patriots and this means danger. While the book will appeal to ages 8-12 boys or girls, I personally expect the boys will find it more appealing than girls. There are scenes that involve violence - fights, knives at the throat, etc. There is a war going on, so some of this is to be expected. The level of description of these events is well within the tolerance of the intended audience, but it is there. At the back of the book there is a wonderful glossary and other historical information. This is a real plus. There are also some discussion questions. As the second in the American Revolutionary War Adventures, this is a winner. The book concludes with a teaser that the boys just might have another adventure waiting for them around the next bend in the road. DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Blog Review Program to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.