But what do you suppose the women of Lexington and Concord were doing all this time? They were not idle, you may be sure. Every bit of pewter that could be found, old pewter tea-pots, and sugar-bowls, pewter spoons—many of which were old heirlooms, and were therefore very dear to these women's hearts—all were melted and made into shot. Their very dresses they tore into pieces to furnish wadding for the muskets; and on all sides might the women have been seen loading and reloading the muskets that drove back the British troops.
One woman, Dame Batherick, had taken her musket and gone down into the field to work. Being a "lone" woman, she had heard nothing of the morning fray, and had as usual gone out to work upon her farm.
As the British came fleeing back from Concord, Dame Batherick heard the guns and whistling balls. Pausing in her work and screening her eyes from the sun, she eagerly gazed across the fields towards the village. Nearer and nearer came the sound of battle; she saw the village blaze; she heard the shouts of the soldiers.
" 'Tis war," she cried; "war, and blood, and fire!"
Seizing her musket she started forward. Just then a squad of red-coats broke through the bush full upon her sight. In an instant her quick woman's wit took in the whole situation. Drawing herself proudly up, her eyes flashing fire, she cried, "Halt! as ye value life, advance ye not another step."
"Ye are my prisoners, sirs! March on!" she said;
Then dropped her plants and pointing out to them the way,
She drove them quickly on, as she had oft ahead
Driven the kine across the fields, at set of day;
And they, "King George's own," without a word obeyed.
Over the fields so green she marched her captive band,
Her dark eyes flashing still, her proud heart beating high
At thought of England's outrage on her native land!
For women were true patriots in the days gone by,
And scorned the foreign yoke, the proud oppressor's hand.
And thus this rustic dame her captives safe did bring
Unto a neighbor's house; and, speaking fearless then,
In words whose every tone with woman's scorn did ring,
She said unto King George's brave and stalwart men
"Go, tell the story of your capture to your King!
"He cannot crush our rights beneath his royal hand
With dastards such as you! And ere this war be done
We'll teach old England's boasting red-coat band,
We're not a race of slaves! From mother, sire, to son,
There's not a coward breathes in all our native land!"
Thus Mother Batherick's fearless deed was done;
Long will the tale be told in famed historic page,
How, in this first great victory by freemen won,
A dame with furrowed brow and tresses white with age,
Captured the grenadiers at famous Lexington.