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I Cannot Tell a Lie
Copyright 2000 by H. Paul Shuch, All Rights Reserved

A telephone rings in a shabby tent, in the middle a snow-covered cornfield in Eastern Pennsylvania.

"Continental Army, General Washington speaking. This is a non-secured line.

"Why, hello there, General Cornwallis. Great to talk to you, too. Long time no . . . Sure, I know what you mean. . . . Same to you, old man . . . Righto. Martha and the kids say 'hi.'

"Well, to tell the truth (and you know I always do), not so well. My troops are freezing, and malnourished, and most of them don't have proper boots. Honestly, if you were to attack us right now, we'd probably be wiped out. But as an English gentleman, you wouldn't be one to take advantage of our situation, I'm sure.

"Sorry to hear that, Cornwallis. I figured with your long supply lines and all, you might be a bit the worse for wear yourself. Why don't you head up to New York and regroup?

"Well, you know I cannot tell a lie, Corny. We've got some pretty good plans for defending Manhattan. We're building this wall along a street that stretches all the way from the East River to the Hudson . . . Oh, the usual. A barricade, really. Mostly rubble and old furniture, but it should be pretty defensible . . . Which side? Well, to tell the truth (as usual), we're expecting you to attack from the North, so we'll man the barricade along its Southern perimeter. Should make for rather good sport, don't you know?

"Christmas plans? Oh, nothing special . . . Well, in all honesty, Wally, there is one thing that might interest you. I figured that on Christmas eve I'd load a bunch of my troops onto some old boats at New Hope, steal across the Delaware by dark of night, and attack us some Hessian mercenaries while they sleep . . . What do you mean, that's not sporting?

"Hell, Wal, I wouldn't lie to you about a thing like that. How else do you expect an honest general to win a war?"


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