ELIJAH FAVOR lived in Ryefield, up among the New Hampshire hills. On the morning of April 20th, 1775, as he was milking the cows, he heard a clattering of hoofs, and, looking up, saw Deacon Clyde coming as fast as his old mare could bring him, and that was not fast enough to suit the deacon, for he was striking the creature with a switch and digging his heels into her sides. He was leaning forward; his coattails were streaming in the wind. The mare was striking fire on the gravel and leaving a cloud of dust behind.
“Turn out! turn out!” shouted the deacon. As there was no one in the way, Elijah wondered if the good man had gone crazy.
“Alar-um! alar-um!” he cried. Elijah thought that surely the man had lost his reason.
“Alar-um! alar-um! The red-coats are out, cutting and slashing all before ’em! they have killed a lot of folks at Concord! Go — the minutemen are parading!” the deacon shouted to Elijah’s father, who was standing in front of the house. The deacon did not stop — did not slacken his speed even, but rode on, and in a moment disappeared behind a cloud of dust.
Mr. Favor stepped into the house, seized his gun and fired it, reloaded and fired again, and a third time. Almost before the reports had ceased to echo, there were answering guns from the neighbors up the road, a half mile away.
They were alarm guns — the signal agreed upon for alarming the country, if the services of the minute-men were needed. Mr. Favor was an old soldier and a minute-man. He fought at Louisburg in 1745, at Ticonderoga in 1766, and at Quebec, with General Wolfe, in 1759, and now he was enrolled to be ready to go at a minute’s notice to defend the country against the British troops.
Elijah ran into the house. He was sixteen years old, stunt and hearty. He found his father taking down his powder-horn and bullet-pouch.
“Let me go in your place, father,’ said Elijah. His blood was up. The news brought by the deacon had set him on fire. “Let me go; I am young and strong, and can stand it better than you can.”