CHAPTER XIV
Old Soldier at Home

With the Wyoming Valley rebellion out of his mind and the echoes of the Oracle still in his ears, Ethan retired to his house at Sunderland to live quietly through the winter of 1786-1787. That the old soldier was mellowing, or failing in health, and was perhaps just a little tired, is made clear by his refusal to join in some fancy riot-rousing in Massachusetts.

Down there in the Bay State times were very hard following the end of the Revolution. The rich Tories had long since fled, and in their place a new aristocracy was rising, enriched by army graft, by smuggling and privateering. Farmers in the hill country around Worcester and in the Berkshires, many of them returned soldiers, were actually in want. Taxes had piled up, hard money was scarce; paper money, worthless. Children were dying from lack of food. The desperately poor talked and fumed and cried for a man to lead them against their oppressors, whom they saw in tax collectors, bankers, and mortgage holders.

A leader was soon found in the person of Daniel Shays, a man of action and almost a physical giant, who had fought bravely in the wars. Shays and a mob closed the courts at

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