Fact and fiction uneasily coexist in this easily read story set in 1776 Brooklyn. Samuel (14, fictional) is the slave of Isaac van Ditmas (historical), a farmer unsympathetic to the rebels. Samuel witnesses Washington's retreat from New York and, when Ditmas flees, plays a rote in helping the American soldiers escape, meeting such figures as Washington in the process. Berleth presents some interesting ideas in a rarely told segment of history, but Samuel's narration is confusing, the result didactic. A disappointing throwback to the ""you-are-there"" school of children's fiction.