Edmund Smythe bolted upright in his bed. In his just-awakened confusion he wasn’t quite sure what had awakened him. Was it a nightmare? Wait! Was that a gunshot he heard? He eased out of the bed, being careful not to waken his goodwife, Helen and walked softly, clad only in his nightshirt, to the front door to see if he could determine what was happening. Late night disturbances were a rare occurrence in this quiet city. Decent folk had long been in their beds.
He ventured onto the front porch, ears keenly tuned to the evening sounds of the sleeping town. “Thank God, you’re awake!” Edmund nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of the voice. He hadn’t seen the young boy approaching his front yard.
“Benjamin Hoskins! What are you doing roaming round in the middle of the night like this?”
The boy, scarcely fourteen, looked scared out of his wits.
“Mister Smythe, my Papa told me to come fetch some men to help them. Some kind of goings on around town. I’m not sure what it is, but all the men folk are pretty upset.”
I’ll just get in my britches and be right along. Come up on the porch and wait for me; I won’t be a minute.”
Edmund went back into the house wondering what could be happening that Alfred Hoskins would send his youngest boy out to gather help. Help with what? A slave uprising? He prayed that wasn’t the case. He knew that the slave population of Savannah outnumbered the white population nearly two to one. Subtracting the aged and infirm, the women and children increased that number to more than four to one.
“Edmund, where are you going at this time of night?” He cursed himself for not moving more quietly.
“Helen, there’s some kind of disturbance in town and I’ve been sent for. I’ll be back after awhile and tell you what I find out. Now you just try to get back to sleep and I’ll be back directly.”
With that, Edmund gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek and headed for the front door.